Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bright Ideas for 2006

As I sat down to compile some thoughts about my goals and personal aspirations for the new year, a clear theme seemed to emerge. 2006 is all about energy: both the personal kind of energy that will enable me to work on carrying out some of my ideas for living more simply and sustainably, and the kind of energy that fuels our economy while at the same time depleting our earth's resources. In short, I need more of the former and less of the latter! I guess I should be a little more specific than that though. Here goes:

  • Putting down roots. This is the biggie. At long last, 2006 is the year when we plan to buy a home with enough land to do some small-scale homesteading. We would love to find a place that will let us grow more of our own food with room to do some organic market gardening eventually. At the same time, concerns about the unsustainable way that Americans are draining our energy resources mean that location will be key. I don't want a long car commute from a rural area to work, shopping, restaurants, etc. We're going to have to be creative and patient. Once we get settled, we can lay out plans for converting a yard into a permaculture-based system and gradually implement compost bins, set up rain water barrels, and plant fruit trees.
  • Decrease our energy reliance. We've been toying with selling our car in favor of a more fuel efficient model, but I'm not sure if it makes financial sense for us at this point. Either way, we need to continue trying to reduce car usage as much as possible. I plan to buy a bike this spring for starters. We'll continue with small steps in our household too. We don't use AC (and if I didn't use it while 9 months pregnant in August, I don't think I need to start anytime soon...) and we're conscientious about conserving, but there's much more we can do. I'm going to track our monthly kilowatt usage and make a game of it. Someday we'd love to install solar panels. Um, I think a house may be necessary for that. First things first.
  • Make it local, organic and whole. I plan to continue with the next steps laid out here. I'm going to need to learn to preserve and can food, bake bread (any tips on getting in the habit of bread baking? easy whole grain recipes?) and other items from scratch, and I'm going to have to practice what I do know how to do. That means being organized about cooking on the weekends and planning ahead. When the time comes soon to start the Bean on solid foods, my goal is to make them myself with a food mill and some ice cube trays for storage. (I need to be on the lookout for this book at my favorite used book stores.) I want to really limit the processed foods that we buy - even if they are organic.
  • Cultivate my frugal side. I'd like to continue to decrease our family's role in the consumerism that seems to rule the day. I also know that if I want to make the goals outlined above work, we're going to need to be more frugal than ever (this is where my husband shudders!). The time has come to re-evaluate the budget. That means tracking expenses for a while. I don't mind spending money where I believe that I'm voting with my dollars, but I want to have some more dollars for the big projects that are ahead. I suppose that our new house ought to have furniture, yes?
  • Build community. We obviously can't go it alone. The support of our family and friends has helped us get to this point. We'll need their encouragement to take the next steps. We'll also need to build a community of people who share our beliefs and can help encourage us, teach us new skills, and make us laugh in the process. We also want to offer what we know and have learned to others. This blog is a good start, and I hope that you'll help feed the energy that I have for 2006 and that, in some small way, I can do my part to feed yours!

Peace and hope for 2006!


  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger spiral said…

    I have an easy wheat bread recipe that I'll have to get out and post. I feel like I have quite a bit to learn, also, so it will be nice to have others to share the process with.

  • At 12:05 AM, Blogger Andrea Rusin said…

    I want to get back into the bread-baking habit. I used to do it almost every day, but once there were no kids in the house I fell out of the habit. But I miss it. So back it comes -although there's no need for daily baking at this point. My goal is sandwich bread once a week, some breakfast-y baking once a week, and specialty bread like focaccia or dinner rolls every once in a while. It's not much of a plan, but that's all the organization I'm capable of! Maybe we can keep eack other on-task with the baking goal.

    re: food for the baby-bean.... That's what we did. Food mill, frozen veggies and fruits, unsweetened applesauce, eventually yogurt. For some utterly bizarre reason our kids both loved cottage cheese. Hated tofu, though. But really it's pretty easy to feed a little one without resorting to little jars of mashed chemicals. Although.... when traveling... I would succumb. At least now there are organic baby foods. Not so much, when our kids were babies.

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger lauren said…

    I'm glad to have some fellow bakers to trade notes with. Let's definitely try to encourage each other! I made some yummy buttermilk muffins last night to go with my clean-out-the-fridge-lentil soup, and it was wonderful to see them on the kitchen table when I got up EARLY to the baby bean's cries. They were just as good with my morning coffee.

    Andrea - I'm glad to hear of someone successfully doing the make-your-own organic baby food thing. It just makes so much sense. I have a food processor, so I'm wondering if a food mill is even necessary.

  • At 5:53 PM, Blogger breadchick said…

    Lauren, I have a fail proof bread recipe I share with folks when I used teach artisanal bread baking. It absolutely never fails for first time or even many first time bakers and I've found that getting that first loaf helps make you a bolder bread maker:-) I posted it in Feb. 2005 in a posting entitled "Simple Pleasures". Also, you might want to check out the (King Arthur flour company). They have one of the best selections of high quality bread organic bread flours I've found AND it supports a basically local group (they are in Vermont). Enjoy the bread baking.

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    Thanks breadchick! I have to get a few more ingredients, then I plan to try this recipe and the one that spiral posted over at blue tape. I'm also going to peruse the site you recommended. I do have some King Arthur flours, and I've been pleased with them. I don't have bread flour though.

    PS - If you are ever teaching another artisanal baking class, let me know! You'll have another student. :)

  • At 9:16 AM, Blogger madcapmum said…

    Good luck moving towards your goals this year! Us too, we're slowly chipping away at things like money-dependence and energy dependence. One of my biggest changes this year was air-drying clothes, on a line outside, on racks during the winter. Makes the clothes last longer, too. Nice to meet you!

  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger lauren said…

    madcapmum - welcome & nice to meet you too! Thanks for reminding me that I've got to get a drying rack soon. It's so essential to encourage each other to take those next steps. I love meeting others on a similar path. :)

  • At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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