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Help Me Achieve My Goal!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I want to live as self sufficent as I can. I will still live in the city for now. No funds to move at this point.

Where should I start? What skills would you suggest that I attain?

Thanks mamas!!!
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just thinking maybe I should clarify as I do not know what the proper temr for what I am talking about is.

I want to become less dependant on stores. Would like to learn how to cook from scratch, homeschool, make my own products (soap/shampoo/cleaners/etc), learn to sew, knit maybe......you get the point.
post #3 of 14
Well, think of the things you are buying in the stores, that you buy all the time and start coming up with ways to do it without buying it in the store. Like the TP, instead of going and buyin rolls of TP go get some old shirts from the thrift store and cut them up.

You'll just have to post exactly what you need I geuss, cause I'm not sure how to give suggestions. I'm not into making soaps and shampoos, but I know it can be done. You'll just have to research some.

I can help with some sewing questions if you have any specific ones. Do you have a machine?
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
No I need one. Basically sewing 101 needs to be in session.

Where do you think are the best places to look for really good deals on sewing machines and sergers locally?

I am just so sick of the hustle and bustle of life. I want to simplify.

I am at a TOTAL loss for cooking from scratch, composting, gardening...

I don't know exactly....Maybe I should post my goals!

Goals:

1. To eat all organic.
2. Cook from scratch.
3. Grow veggies and herbs.
4. Stop purchasing so many products!
5. If I need something, buy used or make.
6. All natural cleaners and beauty products.
7. Learn how to sew.
8. Barter/Trade instead of buying


OK...that's a start!
post #5 of 14
sounds like u'd really like the community were starting. I know what u mean by getting out of the system, whenever I need anything, I just go to a thrift store, cause in a way your giving to charity as well.
as for making products , that is something we do and will be doing in our community. it is so simple, we make lip balm, deoderant, massage oil, etc...just look on the internet for everything u wanna learn, thats what we did. I haven't gone to walmart or target in a while, sometimes to get diapers, but thats it. Look for recepies online for stuff u buy now. you could make your own yogurt, granola, bread, get some chickens for eggs, etc. but check out our site at the bottem of this message and see if that would interest u. I am desperately trying to get some mamas out there cause were moving onto our land this month.
post #6 of 14
I think you need to develop a friendship with an old lady in your neighborhood. There is a certain amount that you can learn from books, but you need hands-on experience for some things. I don't know how you would deal with the failures that will occur when learning completely on your own. I say this because I know that I would become discouraged.

Do you know how to cook at all? Do you have a TV? If so, start watching some cooking shows. Seeing someone like Caprial cooking will help. Check out a variety of cookbooks from the library. Just reading recipes will help you get a better feel of things. While at the library, check out some organic gardening books too. You wouldn't need to read them in detail, but they would give you some ideas on what to do. When you first have a place to garden in, you will feel overwhelmed. Just from the very start even when ordering seeds. But you'll get confident after a couple of years. It's nature, so you'll get something. Just will take experience and knowledge to be able to really feed yourself and family from it.

Is there any way your family could take a few months off to go live on a farm. I've heard that it is pretty easy to find places where you work in exchange for room, board, and knowledge.
post #7 of 14
Is there a community garden in your area where you could get a bed going? Or even containers on a porch or window can be a start. I also think it is great to get your hands on as much reading material as possible, you would be surprised at the resources in your library. Also check out Mother Earth News or BackHome Magazine. As far as learning to sew or cook from scratch, the best way to learn is to just jump in there and do it, usually with a good book or friend to help.
post #8 of 14
Try to find clubs or groups that meet in your area relating to the things you like to do or want to learn. They are ofteb social as well as informational and cool way to get started. Check with the University or a Community College in your area. You could also check with your local coop grocery store for community gardens, cooking clubs, etc. Many schools offer adult learning classes that help teach life skill and also fub hobbys and activities. The Walker may offer some craft classes with fibers which could be a new dimension to sewing (not so sustainable), but equally cool. Also, contact peolpe through your church. My mom's church has taught a few people how to sew better because they needed banners and they have a gourmet club... just a thought.
post #9 of 14
Try your local parks and recreation dept. for classes- they often have sewing, knitting/crocheting, cooking and other classes like frame/mat your own pictures and other do-it-yourself stuff.

A local yarn shop is a great place for learning how to knit. Or a local knitting group.

Good luck! Having clear goals is a great first step and you'll get there.

Do you have a CSA (community supported agriculture)? This is a great way to get affordable organic produce. Some farms let you volunteer there.
post #10 of 14
Mother Earth News is great, very inspiring. I think they have a forum too.

If you have an area that gets direct sun, you can grow veggies in containers pretty easily. Instead of paying for potting soil to fill them you can collect compost materials and mulch materials out and about the community - leaves, grass clippings, barn litter from boarding stables or friends with livestock, and any compost materials that come from your own kitchen can become part of your container garden. Use grey water to water the containers and use mulch to reduce moisture loss. Start with easy things like zucchini that will grow no matter what and it will really boost your confidence!

You can most likely just sow the seeds right in the containers and so you won't need to buy those fancy shmancy seed starting kits... I just make little pots from newspaper anyway if I do need some starter pots.

I love the idea of bartering and have wondered how to start a bartering group...



Cooking from scratch is great, have you looked into Once a Month Cooking? It can save a lot of time and can be adapted to what works best for you. It keeps your freezer full so that when you don't feel like cooking you aren't as tempted to get take-out!
post #11 of 14
the answer to all your questions are here at mdc. check the good eating forum for cooking advice, digging in the earth for composting/gardening, the sewing and crafty forum for sewing advice (look at thrift stores/ebay for cheap older machines), natural family living forums for soap making (or go no 'poo). great info right here if you hunt around for it.
post #12 of 14
IMO, I think that the biggest area that you can control for now would be gardening/ producing your own food. Not having to rely on others to provide food for your family is incredibly gratifying.

Go to the library, look for a few gardening books, and go from there. This is the perfect time of year to start planning a garden.

As for other areas... slowly start replacing disposable products with reusable products (TP, towels, etc. etc.).

Scour goodwill or freecycle/twin cities free market for a used sewing machine. Sewing isn't really that hard, it just takes practice. And to be honest, I think it's much more earth-friendly to buy clothes & household items from Goodwill or Thrift stores than it is to make clothes for your family out of new fabric you'd purchase from a large fabric store that was made in a 3rd world country. But I will admit that it is gratifying to see my kids running around in clothes that I made and see my girls sleeping under the quilts that I made them

I think it's important to clearly define your goals and start trying to improve one thing at a time. But clearly, the less that your family "needs" the less that you'll have to worry about providing, either in terms of buying or making/producing yourself.

Oh, and I'll second the idea of Mother Earth News. You can subscribe online for cheap! They do have forums, but there is a VERY different feel there as compared to the magazine (and not in a good way, IMO).
post #13 of 14
AngelBee, I think you and I are on a similar path of trying to transform our lives. I have been trying to make many of the same changes that you have. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you feel like you need to "do right," so try to not get overwhelmed. Implement what you can now and slowly work on the rest. You have gotten some great advice from PPs! Here are some of the things I'm working on:

--Growing some organic produce. I am at an advantage here b/c I have degrees in horticulture, but I would agree w/ a PP who suggested taking an Adult Education class (sometimes called "Continuing Education" class) at a community college. From one class, you could learn a lot of basics that will help you. But, if not, or until then, don't be afraid to experiment. Buy a few seed packs or seedlings, plant them, and see how it goes. Even if they die, you're only out a few bucks, and you learned for next time.
--Learning to make a lot of my own "processed food." I want to preserve my own produce by canning, freezing, making jellies, dehydrating, root cellaring. I totally recommend the book Preserving Summer's Bounty. I'd lalso ike to learn how to make homemade yogurt, butter, cream.
--Buying organic meat and dairy directly from growers, avoiding the middle man. I live near a large Amish population. I need to look into it, but I believe their growing practices, although not certified organic, are essentially organic. You may have to ask around to find growers in your area or do a Google search. www.eatwild.com and www.localharvest.org are two places to search.
--When I do shop at the store, make organic more affordable by cutting out unnecessary items, impulse buys, processed goods. I'm trying to cook more from scratch so I can avoid buying these things.
--I love Once A Month Cooking/freezer cooking! It makes from-scratch cooking much easier when you can pull a homemade meal out of the freezer. And, yes, the book Once A Month Cooking is a great reference. Again, just taking one cooking class will help out a TON w/ the basics. I took one in college as an elective and it serves me to this day. Otherwise, cooking shows and books are a good place to start. I can recommend a good book on cooking from scratch, but the name is evading me now and I'm naking, but I'll look it up tomorrow for you.
--Make homemade baby food. A good book is Super Baby Food.
--Using resuable cloth products instead of disposable products--diapers, mama cloth, TP, cleaning rags. Some things, like the diapers, obviously have a larger up-front cost, but in the long run, they save money and reduce your sshopping trips. TP and cleaning rags can be recycled from old shirts and socks.
--For homemade cleaning products, I like the book Clean Home, Clean Planet. The basic shopping list is cheap, too--vinegar, baking soda, purified water, borax, olive oil, lemon juice, a few optional essential oils, and some spray bottles.
--I'm going to try making some of my own toiletries using the book Earthly Bodies, Heavenly Hair. I haven't started yet, but the book makes it sound so easy.
--The Complete Tightwad Gazette is full of ideas for reusing things, frugality, self sufficiency, but not all of her ideas are always the most earth-friendly or organic. Still a good book, though.
--I laughed out loud at the "make friends with an old lady" suggestion, b/c I totally did that! Well, middle-aged, but still... A friend of my mom's has always been so nice to me, and when she found out I wanted to start doing a lot of this, she offered to help me out. She is going to show me around the Amish community, loan me her canner, teach me how to can, make jellies, make homemade butter. Now that I think of it, I'm wondering if she can teach me how to sew and knit!
--Oh, and post at MDC any time I have a specific question! :LOL

Ok, I know I read a lot of books for information. I'm a analytical left-brainer, and I assimilate information well that way. But, since I have an infant and have limited chunks of time, the books I've recommended are all quick reads, easy to skim, easy to put down and come back to. I've requested tons of books from the library through interlibrary loan, and I've bought the few favorites that I want to keep as reference books.


ETA: Found that book on from-scratch cooking. It's called The Complete Book of Country Cooking, and it's put out by the publishers of the Taste of Home cooking magazines.
post #14 of 14
Check out Carla Emery''s Encyclopedia of Country Living, and Countryside Magazine (www.countrysidemag.com). Both are great places to help you get started. Good luck! I'm going to be trying to do the same thing after I quit my job in May!
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