Ever heard of homesteading? It’s basically a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle — a sort of “going off the grid,” if you will. I think there is a lot of merit to living a more simple life, even if whole-hog homesteading is not in my future — I don’t think I can convince Andrew to buy a farm and live entirely off the land. Recently I’ve been thinking of a few ways I could have my own “urban homestead,” and make or grow more of the things we use on an everyday basis. I have lots of room for improvement, but here are 5 things I am doing this year to start living a little simpler.
This year I have two flower beds — one on top of the coop, and another by my back door. If all goes well and we get enough sunshine (it’s been a very rainy summer!) I should end up with lots of cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, and okra! So far, my cherry tomatoes and cucumbers are doing the best — I’ve been able to put them on salads and it is oh so tasty! I am already taking notes on this year and planning to put in at least two new beds for next years crop. I’m also planning to add some blueberry bushes, and a few more herbs.
Here’s my garden when it was just a baby garden.
And here are two very rare species of chicken plants.
And here, is my garden today! We added a fence so the chickens can’t interfere. Hey, plants need privacy, too!
(Insert all the doomsday prep jokes here) But seriously. I feel like canning and gardening go hand in hand, so this is something I really want to try. I’m going to start small this year and do pickles, pesto, and peppers. This also goes beyond just veggies — I started making my own jelly! It’s delicious, stores well, and makes a tasty gift. You can also can your own salsa! My sister-in-law Emily, has a mean salsa recipe — I’ll have to convince her to share.
This is the artsy photo I took when I made my first jam.
3. Soap Making
For now I am skipping the lye, (*sidenote: “Ain’t No Lye” would be a great business name for a soap company!) but I have been making my own soap from bars of soap for a couple of months now. It whips up pretty quick and in the long run saves you $$. I made Andrew a “man” soap out of a bar of Old Spice, he says he doesn’t like it, but one of these days I am just going to switch it out and see if he notices. I’ve also tried my hand at making my own laundry detergent. This is my favorite recipe so far, but I am still trying to work out all the kinks.
4. Bread Baking
We don’t buy a ton of bread as it is because I will eat all of it, but bread is something that is quite easy to make AND you can store it in the freezer for future use. My mom gifted me her old bread machine, which makes bread making a breeze. It’s like magic, I put in some flour, yeast and water and 4 hours later I have a tasty loaf of bread. If you don’t have a bread machine, this is a recipe I’ve used to make delicious bread by hand in about 1 hour.
5. Capsule Wardrobe
A couple months ago I realized that while yes, I had a lot of clothes in my closet, I mostly hated all of them. And really what is the point of holding onto things that you really hate. I had heard about this crazy idea of only have 10-20 items in you closet! That’s crazy talk, I said! But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Instead of buying 10 cheap things every season that I probably won’t like anyway, the idea is to buy a few really nice things that you can wear multiple times a week and pair with other things in your closet. If you’ve ever been to private school you can liken it to uniforms. Everything goes with everything and it takes you 5 minutes to get dressed. I am still a work in progress but, I hope to launch fully into the capsule life this Fall!
And there you have it folks! 5 ways I am trying to live a little simpler, and make more with my own two hands. For me, these are extensions of things I already love to do, and are also ways I could save my family $$.
What are you doing to live a little simpler? Share your ideas in the comments!