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
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