For the last several years rather than setting “goals” or having “resolutions” I have instead given myself a list of skills that I wanted to gain or improve over the coming year. I think of it as more of a way to give myself focus instead of milestones I have to meet.
1. Learn how to cook in a pressure cooker and a dutch oven. Continue experimenting with the Solar Oven
2. Make herbal salves from the herbal oils I made.
3. Make homemade mozzarella cheese.
4. Make yogurt using my dehydrator as an incubator.
5. Practice target shooting with Yankee Bill’s shotgun and rifle.
6. Master sourdough bread.
7. Learn to alter clothing.
8. Make wine from scratch instead of using a kit.
9. Learn to knit socks.
So how did I do this year? Actually not particularly well. There are only four skills that I actually worked on, and twp of those only part way. I did learn to make homemade mozzarella cheese and use the leftover whey to make ricotta. I did make a lot of sourdough bread during the first 2/3 of the year (until I killed my starter). I also started knitting socks, but only completed 2/3 of one, and I did shoot the shotgun and my black powder rifle once up at the land, but not enough to feel really proficient.
So what the heck? Looking back on my year I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t do more on these tasks. I know I never did what I had promised–which was to print out a list of the skills I wanted to work on and post them where I’d see them reguarly. I just go busy and FORGOT to do a lot of them.
I’ll say overall it was a weird year. It felt like we had a lot of moving parts, especially in the summer when we were traveling a lot back and forth between the lake/mountain and home between vacation, kids heading off to camp, visiting Nana up at her camp. . . I remember feeling very rushed as far as the garden went, as if I was just barely staying ahead of certain tasks. I had a lot of family assistance obligations this year too–a few family crisis that threw things for a loop etc.
I know that I kept up with a lot of the skills I’ve added to my repertoire over the last few years. I continued to can and to teach canning to friends and at the Cooperative Extension and the Library. I cooked from scratch and added to my skills there–making whipped cream from scratch (I know, it doesn’t sound like much but hey!), experimenting with Sourdough bread a lot until I killed my starter. I made a LOT of wine from the kits–at least 6 kits–so I feel pretty confident in my baseline skills there. I did a lot of darning/mending, although I didn’t do as many tutorials as I had planned for you all (although it’s still on the docket). I continued to grow a large garden and add to my trees/bushes/shrubs. I saved seeds from kale and chard. My photography continues to improve and I got better at using my lighting (and at organizing my workflow–especially this crazy winter!)
I have added new skills. Business-wise I am branching out into voiceovers and have gotten coaching, equipment and am working on my demo. Family-wise I have increased the number of chores the kids help with around the house by a little bit, which required of course for me to teach them the skills and then monitor them until they really have them solid. At a personal level I have been taking guitar lessons, and I managed to read my way through the entire New Testament.
What are my goals for 2015? Well some are a rehash of the old, and some are new!
From the Old Skill List:
1. Learn how to cook in a pressure cooker and a dutch oven.
I’m just fascinated by different methods of cooking, especially ones that use less electricity (pressure cooker) or don’t use electricity at all (Dutch Oven over a campfire). I should get assistance from Yankee Bill on the Dutch Oven thing–that’s what they cook with when the Boy Scouts go camping.
2. Make herbal salves from the herbal oils I made.
I’ve got Plantain and Calendula that I’ve extracted into oil–both are good for your skin. I have coconut oil and beeswax on hand, I just need to force myself to take an hour somewhere and make some. This is one of those cases where having a list will remind me it’s something I want to do.
3. Practice target shooting with Yankee Bill’s shotgun and rifle.
I really feel that I should be proficient with both. I’m never going to be a hunter, but if they are in the house I should have a decent idea of how to use them.
4. Learn to alter clothing.
Alterations (and mending of course) are such money saving skills–I really should concentrate on learning and sharing this. While new fabric is expensive, used clothing at the thrift store is cheap and plentiful. Being able to either create something new from something old, or to take something and make it fit well is an invaluable money saving skill.
5. Become proficient at performing Voiceovers and using the sound editing software.
Since I am branching out into this field this is a no brainer.
6. Continue on in cheesemaking.
I want to become proficient in making mozzarella to the point where I can just set aside an hour or so and make it when I need some. Ditto for the Ricotta. I would also like to make something a little more advanced.
7. Make pasta
I took a class a couple years back but have only made it at home once. Again, I’d like to practice the skill to the point where if I feel like making some fresh pasta it’s something I can do in an hour or so–not something that is so unfamiliar to me that I feel like I need to set aside a whole afternoon.
8. Learn to make sausage.
I have a freezer full of ground beef, venison and pork. I have the pork fat from the organic pork. I just can’t NOT try making sausage.
9. Learn to use my Silhouette machine and the Serger my sister is giving me.
It is frankly embarrassing how long I’ve had my silhouette without getting up the guts to try it. Yankee Bill went and purchased it for me because I really, really wanted it (2 years ago now?) and I’ve been too chicken to bust it out of the box and try it. No more! I will try it this year. To prevent a similar fate with the serger (which my sweet sister is giving me because she doesn’t use it) I also want to set it up and use it as well!
10. Become proficient at the guitar.
If I were to actually practice, I would progress much faster. I just want to be able to play simple songs and sing along (and have the family sing along). I don’t need to be amazing–my goal is to be mediocre.
I know in a way it seems silly to keep putting these skills/goals out there and then not complete some of them (or carry on the desire for several years)–but I have to keep thinking that it isn’t how fast you get around to them, just the fact that you DO get around to them. I have wanted to learn the guitar for years and years. Finally this year I made time for it. Life is not static and I am not static–things change, I change. And that’s a good thing–I love to learn new things and keep my mind active.