Like many people, I suppose, I look at the end of the year and the beginning of the next as a time to reflect, take stock and make some deliberate choices. I feel the urge to put away the Christmas decorations, tidy up my home and find new ways to decorate for winter.
But getting ready for a new year is more than how I arrange our family home. I also think about who I am as a person and who I want to be. I ask myself a lot of questions. How can I be better? A better mom? A better wife? A better housekeeper? A better freelance writer and monetary contributor to our household? How can I help our family put more money in savings this year so we can one day buy a house, pay for college and eventually retire?
For one, I plan to get a better grip on our household finances and find ways to trim our food budget. Food has become outrageously expensive in the past few years, and I think we can and should be wiser with our spending and eating habits.
And with this comes the idea of becoming more resourceful. I really get a kick out of using everything we buy—food or otherwise—and doing so creatively. When I want to start a new crafting project, I take an unusual pride in using things I already have, whether they’re specifically meant for crafting or are just household objects I can find a creative use for. This has less to do with saving money and recycling than it does the sheer principle of being resourceful. It’s great that I can reduce the amount of previously unused stuff in our house and use up things we’ve already paid for by finding new ways to use them, but it’s even better that I can dream up new ideas and make them right now, on the spot, without having to go to any store or spend any money.
I guess it’s a form of problem solving, and I plan to apply it to knitting in the new year, too. I downsized my yarn stash quite a bit this year, and still don’t have a lot planned for the yarn I couldn’t part with that’s left. I’ll share some of my ideas as I have time to make them realities, but I want to use the pattern books I already have (even though I have a shiny new Barnes & Noble gift card that’s burning a hole in my pocket) and use up my stash (even the acrylic stuff) on useful things my family needs or wants or I can give away as meaningful gifts. If anyone out there has a good idea for leftover sock yarn, I’m all ears. Or eyes. Whatever.
And when it comes to new beginnings, I want to start planning our gardens earlier this year. I’m always surprised when the seed catalogs arrive—this year they seemed to get here even earlier than usual—and I shouldn’t be surprised, since I used to be an editor for a series of gardening catalogs and I know they’re actually laid out in back in August and September for printing and mailing in December and January.
Two years ago I was forced to scale back from my 1,000+ square-foot vegetable garden and turned my herb/perennial garden into a true kitchen garden. This year I need to make the most of this space and a much smaller area reserved for my cutting garden. If I can’t eat it or stick it in a vase, I’m not growing it. Unless it’s already established in my garden; then I’ll let it stick around.
I miss planting 30 tomato plants and canning enough to last us through winter in early September, but as the only gardener in the house, I just don’t have the time and energy to manage such a large garden anymore or start my favorite varieties from seed. But I’ll still plant a few heirloom tomato plants, and I need to find room for a squash plant or two. I can’t live without squash in summer.
It’s a farce to think one can actually save money gardening (ever heard of the book The $64,000 Tomato?), but instead it gives me the foods—and in quantities and quality—I don’t usually indulge in or find at the supermarket.
As we buckle down for the long winter ahead, I’m already thinking of spring and the new growth and development—of plants, and our son—we’ll experience throughout summer.
Happy New Year.
To new beginnings.