Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

With a new year upon us, I'm thinking about the successes and bumps in the road of 2010 in an effort to focus on what I want out of 2011.  I'm learning that I'm happiest when I eat right, stay active, rest up, use less, contribute more and laugh often.  And guess what- a happier mom does make for a happier family.  So, let's list some specifics that kept us on track to how we want to live.

Things that worked....
  1. Starting a garden- nothing better than picking your own veggies and herbs for your family's next meal
  2. Rain Barrels- I never realized just how MUCH water one down pour creates and can be collected for the garden
  3. Organizing and planning meals for the week and/or month ahead of time- I kick myself anytime life gets crazy and I divert from doing this- costs go up, quality of food and nutrition goes down and then I generally feel like junk until I get back on the wagon.  That old saying is true: "You are what you eat."
  4. Composting- we organized a pretty large compost pile and it's amazing how much compost we actually generate between grass clippings, leaves and produce waste.  I received a gift of a counter top composter for my birthday this year and I think this will be key to keeping up with composting over the winter.
  5. Turning the TV Off- many nights I have found myself mindlessly channel surfing....and nothing is on.  For some reason, I keep changing the channel with the false thought that something exciting must have started in the few seconds since I last flipped through.  Then one night I asked myself this question: "Is this worth me being tired tomorrow morning?" Nope.  Off it a book....get to bed earlier....maybe even conserve some electricity.
  6. Helping Out- I only volunteered at one event around Thanksgiving this year, but it reminded me that making a contribution of time to help out every now and then builds communities, feels good and helps me focus on what's really important.  Yes, life gets busy.  Volunteering every day, every week or even every month might not be an option, but I can and should make the effort to make it a part of our life.
  7. Revisiting the list of "Things that Worked!"  Distractions come up from time to time and we stray.  Taking time to refocus helps with this.
Some things that I tried but they are still a work in progress:
  1. Getting rid of paper towels- I tried, I really did.  I stopped buying them cold turkey and announced to the household that reusable, washable cloths were just as effective and can be thrown in the laundry every week to be used again and again.  I looked my hubby in the eye and said "We won't even miss them."  They have since crept back into our house.  2 pets, 3 people....the paper towel holder is back...on the counter.  I need help with this one people!  If you have a system that works, let me know!
  2. No Cleaning Chemicals- I experimented with different cleaning solutions using things like baking soda, lemons and vinegar.  I steamed my carpets without the cleaning solutions and just relied on the old fashioned, hot steam.  Often, these things worked. Every now and then there was a mess where I confess that I took the easy way out and cleaned up quick: chemicals and all.  This one requires more research...and organization!
Where are we headed for 2011?
  1. A bigger garden! We couldn't get enough of it this year....we learned from some of our mistakes and we happily ate all of our successes.  We're already looking at seeds...we need to look at some organic pesticides....and we need to work on the timing of our planting this year.
  2. We're thinking about chickens...maybe.  I'll have to keep you posted on this one.  I love the idea of fresh eggs and the idea of the little one learning by having animals to care for.  We just need to be sure that we have the time to keep up with the commitment before we add more animals to the clan.  I would love to hear from anyone that has chickens or knows about caring for them.
As we wrap up this new year's weekend and get back to the grind, I wish you all a wonderful new year!  Stay healthy!