I honestly meant to put this post up yesterday (Friday) but it turned into a surprisingly busy day, so sorry about that.
Friday Roundups (regardless of what day they're posted) are so we can all check in on what steps we've taken, big or small, to inch us incrementally toward greater preparedness. Since it's winter and outdoor work is limited, our Friday Roundups have been pretty pathetic lately, but here goes:
• We had our regular Friday neighborhood potluck (it was our turn to host). It was full house this time -- five families, 14 people total -- and we had a lovely visit. I know I've said it again and again, but I can't help it: we are blessed with wonderful neighbors. These weekly potlucks we've had for the past eight years are a cement that has bound us together in ways that are hard to describe.
Some people in our group are experiencing serious health issues, so as spring unfolds we'll be pulling together and pitching in on chores and tasks that need doing while they recuperate. It's what neighbors do. It's the third leg of preparedness -- community.
• Another of these neighbors experienced a first: making elderberry jelly. She has an elderberry bush in her yard and had frozen much of the fruit, so this week she decided to try her hand, for the first time, at making jelly. It worked and she was thrilled. Food preservation -- a good thing to know!
• This same neighbor and I signed up to attend a gardening seminar in March. Among the classes offered are pruning and permaculture. I don't know much about either subject, so it will help to increase our knowledge.
• I learned a tasty new way to cook legumes (specifically lentils). Since legumes are one of the best prepper foods available (cheap, nutritious, versatile), having attractive ways to prepare them is important.
• I took Lydia to the vet. She's coming up on eight years old, and suddenly started limping and lifting her left front paw. Turned out to be arthritis, so she's on some temporary anti-inflammatories, as well as more permanent glucosamine/chondroitin. If her antics and energy levels are anything to go by, she's feeling like a puppy again. The vet confirmed she's in excellent health.
• I made curtains to cover the clutter in the pantry, which is right off the living room. (Don't worry, Don intends to install barnwood trim to hide the curtain rod.)
I absolutely love how these curtains look. I keep stopping to admire them. As the artist William Morris once observed, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." These curtains fulfill both those requirements.
• Along the lines of figuring out what's "useful," I'm continuing the slow but steady purge of unneeded things in the house. I am floored by the amount of paperwork we had cluttering up corners and shelves. I emptied four file cabinet drawers...
...which allowed me to take all our remaining tax paperwork we must retain...
...and fit it neatly into the file drawers. Whoo-hoo, no more big honkin' banker's boxes taking up closet space!
• I also emptied TEN binders of paperwork (old articles, writings, clippings, seminars, workshops, etc.), some of which were 20 years old. Why on earth was I holding on to this stuff?
I kept a couple of the empty binders and donated the rest to a thrift store.
• I also took a trip down memory lane and purged our extensive collection of children's books.
Now before my kids see this post and FREAK OUT, rest assured I kept all our beloved childhood classics. We have a rich treasure-trove of excellent children's books, and I have no intention of discarding them.
What I got rid of were books they never had much interest in, or duplicates, or are so commonly available that holding onto copies was pointless (don't worry, I kept every Dr. Seuss book). You know how much all the discarded books weighed? Sixty pounds.
• I also took a good hard look at our collection of DVDs.
I withdrew the movies I thought no one was interested in. Then I had both Don and Younger Daughter hold back ones they wanted to keep.
In the end I got rid of 75 DVDs. SEVENTY-FIVE. How on earth did we accumulate 75 superfluous DVDs? The answer: thrift stores. Friends. Freebies. We kept the movies we thoroughly enjoy watching over and over (ahem: Jane Austen) and donated the rest.
• Don also took a dump run. We have no garbage service around here, and during the icy weather we couldn't take the farm truck on the road (too dangerous). Now the accumulated garbage is gone, leaving a feeling of "Aaaahhh."
So that's been our roundup over the last two weeks. What has everyone else done, big or small, to increase self-sufficiency?