Monday, February 14, 2011

Mothering Bootcamp - Self Sufficiency

Until a few years ago, I never thought much about self sufficiency. I focused on my family, education and my business helping children and parents. 
But I do keep up with the economy. It's almost like a fiction novel playing out at times. It's always filled with drama. The problem is that the drama can easily come home to hit where it hurts. I began seeing people around me going on unemployment and men who should be gearing up for retirement having to take on second jobs just to make ends meet for their families. 
Sure America has always been known for it's opportunities and prosperity, and certainly those things can still be true.. but the rules of the game have changed. There is no longer job security the way there was fifty years ago. Corporations had taken over much of what we used to do ourselves and while we thought it was wonderful (and easy) for a long time, we are now realizing that we have given too much away. We have become too dependent. 
I started this series because I wanted to help mothers (and parents) come back to the basics of good wholesome living, to take back what is rightfully ours. 
 And today as I read once more about the coming food increases due to severe weather, I am once again reminded of this importance. Last year food rose 25% in price. I don't know about you, but my wallet felt that! This year prices were predicted to rise another 20% but with the new announcements, it could be much more.  if you did not notice the price increase it is most likely that you were paying attention to the new "attractive" labels tooting smaller packages with easier handling (but holding the same price tag for the larger older version). 

   My point is this, things are changing. American life is changing. As mothers, we are the rock of our families and we must take action in order to maintain the peace and keep our family stress free. These economic changes are not all a bad thing... it forces us to retract from spending on frivolous things that stand wasting on our mantles and in our kitchen drawers. And who couldn't use less junk?

   It's really not that hard to make the transition if you start now (before you're forced too by nature and the US economic situation). Start thinking of these things now and you'll easily tradition should you suddenly HAVE to become less dependent on outside businesses for basic needs. 

For example, grow a garden this summer (and save your seeds!) It's February. It's time to start planning that NOW.  A good source for non GMO, non hybrid seeds is Buy the Heirloom variety. You can grow a whole garden in containers. Go to the library, get books about container garden and urban homesteading and read them. They are worth their weight in gold.

Plant some fruits trees. We have two small apple trees in our urban yard from organic apples we ate 3 years ago. These trees won't be giving us apples for a few more years, but the point is that YOU CAN DO THIS and have free apples! Apples keep well over winter too. We also have a mulberry tree that I ordered from ebay a few years back. It came as a stick and I thought I completed wasted my $10.00. Turns out it is thriving well and as a very fast growing tree, we're looking forward to eating delicious white mulberries in a few years time. 

Learn to preserve food. A generation or two back, every mother knew how to do this. Learn again. My preference is for preserving outside the freezer. I like dehydration and canning best.  It takes a little work, sure... but think of your peace of mind.

Learn how to grow spouts. These are so easy to grow and can be a great source of green in the winter time.  

Get to know your neighbors and people who think like you. Bartering is an excellent way to obtain what you need without having to pay cash money for it. There are a ton of people already using Craigslist and other sites to barter. Save your money for other things.

Speaking of saving money.... now if you've been paying attention, you already know that America went from one of the worst saving nations to one of the best in a matter of a few years. Well it's nice that Americans are paying attention now and that is a good thing... however, if you are also paying attention to how much money is being printed, then you might say to yourself... is saving really my best option right now? Remember our little economics class is high school and college? What did they say about price and demand? When there's too much of something, it's value goes down. So if you're saving all this money... is it going to be worth less tomorrow? You bet it is. I'm not saying go out and spend all your greenbacks.. that's stupid. I'm saying that you should not have all your eggs in one nest my friend.   

Recycle. I'm not talking about putting your recycling items in the correct bin... although of course that's a good thing. I'm talking about recycling your stuff back into your household. We have old torn jeans that are in the process of becoming a handmade throw rug. I specifically buy glass bottled foods when I buy something already prepared because I then re-use the glass containers. I often use them to store beans and lentils so I don't have to keep them in the plastic bag they come in. Speaking of making less garbage....

Start a compost. I attempted this last year and it worked fairly well... I got lazy and stopped in fall and just picked up it again with a fever. I bought a pink colored ice bucket with a cover for $2.00 at a local thrift shop and that is my countertop compost container. I love it! It's covered so there is no smell, and it's insulated which makes for super easy clean up between dumpings into my larger compost pile in the back of the house. You will really be amazed at the little amount of garbage you will now throw away compared to before. You can throw any organic matter into your compost besides cooked foods and no dairy or meats. What you are actually doing when you compost is you are creating a very fertile, wonderfully rich (and free) soil for your new garden. A quick search on youtube will get you started with "easy composting". We do not have particularly good soil in my yard... but this compost will make it rich in everything plants need to grow wonderfully and feed my family.

Learn to be frugal. There are tons of sites out there that help you learn to be more frugal. Spend some time learning. Knowledge is the one thing that can never be taken away so invest in it! When you are frugal, you can put that extra money in other places where it can be better used. When I started applying frugal methods to living, I cut our grocery bill in half and most of my bills came down. I buy things now when I know they will be of real use, when they add value to our lives. It's not that I deprive us of anything.. no. It's that I am conscious of what I purchase. We simple don't need all that stuff! It's just clutters up my mind anyway, so why have it? 
Some quick tips from our household - we use plain, white vinegar in the rinse cycle of our dishwasher now. No more blue toxic chemicals for us and outrageous prices. It works wonderfully. We made our own homemade laundry soap for dirt cheap until I discovered wash balls which are even more economical and environmentally friendly.  

Make a list to see how dependent you are on the outside. I found this an amazing exercise. Imagine for a moment that for two whole days your family has to be completely self sufficient. Could you be? Where are the weaknesses? You have to think about everything... food, water, cooking, heat, light, sanitation, things to keep the children busy and happy. It's worth the small amount of time to think about these things now. 

Learn simple skills. Learn to make bread, yogurt, cheese, vinegar, wheat crusts (think whole wheat pizza and homemade fruit pies!) and all the staples that your family eats. We have slowly implemented these things over the last year or two and not only has it created wonderful tradition in my household, but the whole family is so much healthier for it! We have wonderful memories of failed projects but mostly of delicious meals together around the family table. 

Become energy conscious. How much gasoline do you use in a week? Do you keep lights on in rooms you're not in? How high is your thermostat? Do you leave plugs plugged in the outlets even when they are off? All these things use a lot of energy. Become aware of your energy consumption and make changes to lower that. Use your crock pot more often. A crock pot on low for 7 hours only uses 75 Watts of energy. An over on for one hour uses 2000 watts on energy. I know which one I use the most! Did you know that a dishwasher uses approximately 5 gallons of water compared to the average 20 gallons used when dishes are done by hand (sorry Laurette, I know your dishwashing is your meditation!) However, the drying cycle of your dishwasher uses a ton of energy.. just flip the door open and let the dishes air dry. You add humidity into your winter indoor air which actually keeps in more warmth! So it's double duty savings. Speaking of humidity, your dryer also uses a ton of energy. So, get one of those handy clothes racks that holds a lot of clothes (I have two) put it in your living room and hang your clothes up to dry indoors in the winter. The humidity from the clothes has the same effect and your house will keep in the heat better. 

Be creative! Instead of running out to buy something you need, think of what you already have that you can use or use to create what you need. Reuse materials whenever you can. We have to stop our wastefulness. Be creative in your thinking in everything! Whether you're talking about a career, your home, your family, a project...whatever the subject..  think out-of-the-box! People thrive by doing this! You were given a very unique and marvelous mind. Don't follow what others are doing just because everyone is doing it. Be original and be YOU! You are amazing!  

Have Faith! We are children of God. I have said it before and I will say it again. God is our Source for all things. We have to use our brains as well. We were blessed with them to use them.  God is the source of ALL ABUNDANCE! And you know what you put out there, you get back. So, make these changes in JOY and HAPPINESS, always remembering that God is your provider! 

Money is just an agreed-upon convenience created by man. God doesn't care about money.. it's only energy. It's a concept, a thought in our minds. It has no power whatsoever over you or your family. If you seek abundance, change your thinking. Know you deserve good and prepare for good. Goodness and abundance comes knocking on the doors of those who are prepared for it. Prepare yourself, become more self-sufficient, be responsible and know where you stand as far as relying on big corporations for everything you buy and own. But know that God has got your back. You are never alone and life is meant to be a joyful journey. You're the one who chooses. I myself choose good! I choose happiness in my life and for my family and I choose to see the good in others. Sure it saddens me at times to see greed, but you and I both know that what we focus on, we get more of. So let's pay attention to our thoughts and choose them wisely.

Love, Mellisa
PS Email me any comments or questions, I'd love to hear your feedback and if you have something to share with us. You can also comment below.   

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