Thursday, January 19, 2017

Yearly Goals: 2017

Man, this post was harder to put together than I thought it was going to be.  It was one of those things where you go and make a list, don't like how it comes together, rewrite said list, again it doesn't seem to be just right...rinse lather and repeat.  Finally, I just crumbled up the list and threw it over my shoulder in frustration (and then immediately went, picked it up and threw it away *laugh*) and just decided to write the post without bullet points as things this year...well it's kind of a philosophy vs. a physical goals type of year for me.  So, allow me to introduce you to...

Survive and Thrive Year here on "The Make Do Homemaker"

When I thought of my goals for this year they were kind of all over the place.  There were the usual, stress and immediately heartburn up in the throat, panic inducing goals of trying to get bills paid off or down, getting the rest of my husband's teeth done and blah blah blah.  And then I realized that all I was doing was immediately stressing myself out for the long term.  And the year hasn't even really STARTED yet.  Not a good way to start a year.  So, I tried to redo my thinking a bit and came up with some goals that I think I can accomplish, or at least hope I can, and not freak out about them all the time.

So, let's get to the goals!

1.  Focus on Hearth and Home
This was a big one for me to come up with, believe it or not.  Once I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to do gifts beyond my immediate family (and possibly my family back East) this was like a tremendous weight was lifted off of my shoulders.  I didn't realize how much of my energy was going into thinking of gifts, what materials I needed to buy to make said gifts, what would people like, how to keep costs down as low as possible while making the gifts nice, etc etc.  You have no idea how liberating it was to walk through the used store a couple of weeks ago to go and get some snow pants for the kids and walk by the craft and material section and realize that I didn't need to buy ANYTHING this year to make gifts.  Nothing.  I think they could see my smile in Seattle.

A giant wave of, not quite relief, but more an uplift of energy, washed over me when I thought of not having to worry about all of it.  To be able to focus on doing things like embroidery for my family, for my house, heck for me.  To go through a canning book, not with a discerning eye for possible gift giving potential, but instead thinking in more pragmatic terms of what I could use in the pantry and not worrying about giving away jars and things.

So, this year I've decided is one where I'm going to focus my energy on my home and my family.  I have some plans for small projects to make things more comfortable around the house, working on gifts for my family for Christmas, slowly throughout the year and things. 

I want to continue spending more one on one time with my husband, probably once the kids are in bed, watching movies, maybe playing some board games and things like that.  I'm hoping to focus a bit more on making sure I spend time with him as I know he tends to take a back seat because of my son taking so much of my time and energy and then my daughter taking what is left.  

2.  Smile More.  Spend Less.
The struggle to keep cost of living down, for us (and I know many others) is tough.  It's so tough.  It's like you go through your day, not seeing the forest for the trees.  Or, more accurately, not seeing the dollars for the pennies.  Bills feel like a ship you are dragging by it's anchor around with you.  All day long.  Every single day.  You get the bills paid and feel a split moment of relief and then immediately start worrying about the next month's bills.  It's a pretty depressing and disheartening cycle to live in.

I'm hoping this year to weather the storms of financial hardships better.  I know there are other areas I can cut costs in...I just haven't thought of them yet.  So, I'm going to put brain power into doing that a bit and also I'm going to try to not stress myself out so much (which MIGHT be impossible, but we shall see) and try to enjoy life one day at a time.  It's worth a shot :).

The one area I see myself being able to cut back costs a LOT this year is not going to the used stores as much.  I don't go half as much as I used to anyway, due to lack of funds and all, but also I found that I was indulging sometimes in my own form of retail therapy.  Sure, it was on the cheap, but I was just spending money on something that was neat looking or something I thought was cool to basically cheer myself up.  And, while it works in the short term to cheer one up, the money could be spent better elsewhere and I really don't NEED any more stuff that doesn't serve a good purpose.  Now if needs present themselves (clothes, something breaks, etc) sure I'll go shopping for that stuff, but now that I don't have to go the used stores with an eye toward Christmas gifts for a lot of people...I think my trips will go way down in that area, which will also keep temptation to spend money to a minimum.  Same with yard sales.  I just don't see the need to spend money on that stuff anymore.
I'm hoping, instead, if I really want to cheer myself up and such, to just create something out of materials I have around the house that we could use (like say a new pillow cover for throw pillows or something), but would also make me feel better in my general environment.

3.  Become more self sufficient.
Ideally I want to expand the garden this year, which might or might not work, depending on how well I can dig by Spring with my arms kind of a mess, but if I can do it, I'm going to do it.  Even if I have to dig a couple of rows out of the yard, plant some seeds and see what happens, at least than I can say I tried.

I also, ideally, would love to find the money to build some coops for a few chickens and at least one rabbit  for the daughter for a pet...she's never asked for a pet before, but she really wants a rabbit.  I figure if I get her a pet female of a good breed for meat production, she can have her pet rabbit and it'll be one step closer for me to start a small rabbit concern.  Terrible of me, I know, but if you're going to get a rabbit, it might as well be with a bigger picture in mind.

Mind you all of that is hinging on money, so I'm definitely going to keep an open mind about it.  Expanding the garden I can see making it work no matter how much money we make, but the chickens and rabbit...those require food and so you need to be able to afford to feed them.  So, yeah, we'll see how that goes.

4.  Start a future journal.
This is one of the "philosophical ideological" goals for the year.  I was reading in a magazine (always a great source of universal knowledge *laugh*) that when people would start writing a journal like you would be writing it at some point in the future and start writing as if the goals or dreams you want to come true are already a reality that it seems to help guide people in the right direction and help reality kind of mold to those goals.

I liked this idea, honestly as just writing about how everything is going groovy, the son is talking and acting like he's never going to shut up again, how we're paying off our mortgage early and other immediately made me FEEL better just kind of fantasizing about it all.  So, why not write it down, cheer myself up about life in general and make myself realize that the NOW is here yes and it might be a bogged down mess, but the future is yet uncertain and everything might work out just fine?  It seems like a neat project, so I want to do one this year.

5.  Start Rotating Canning all Year Round
This is one that is going to be hard to start.  I'm so used to doing "canning season" during the summer and fall that it seems odd to me contemplating doing more of it in the winter and spring.  My biggest inspiration when it came to doing it, though, was trying to find room for empty jars all over the place and while I could stack them back down in the pantry, I don't see the point in the jars just sitting around if they could be holding food in them for future use.

Now I know I'm not going to be able to can all the time just because sales won't be there or the idea of sitting canner sitting for an hour and a half just doesn't fit into the schedule.  But, I'm hoping to find the motivation to do things like can my own chicken when I find a really good sale, instead of going and shelling out way too much money for canned chicken that always tastes a bit metallic from the tin can.

6.  Bake More
I want to expand my knowledge of cooking and baking, but mainly baking.  Cooking I expand my knowledge on constantly and I really do get a kick out of it, but man...while cooking is fun and shouts "mess with me!  Create!", baking is science.  And work *laugh*.  But, I do want to get better at it and make food more fun and interesting around here.  I'm hoping that I can incorporate culinary adventures into the menu plan and just keep trying new things.  One of the biggest problems with being broke is that food becomes monotonous and just so boring because you just are so tired by life in general you just kind of throw food on the table and eat it.  I want to keep the joy in cooking and baking for me, so for me that means messing with things :).

7.  Cherish Time With My Kids
Sometimes you really just get hung up on being mom.  I've found myself spending more time lecturing the kids than I do laughing with them and while I KNOW that lecturing them is important to getting them to that all important goal of "independence" someday...I also want to enjoy the time I have left where my kids

I'd love to have money this summer to go see things like the "Sea Life Center" in Seward and other outings, but we shall see, once again, how money goes.  If nothing else I hope to at least be able to picnic with them at our nearby lake and things (it's a fee to get into the federal park, but I'm hoping not too much).  I'm hoping to see a year with more fun in it this year.  I started getting better about being broke and finding some fun, but free, events to go to in our area last year and I'm hoping to find more this year to go to.  I'm optimistic that it's going to be a good year :).

Really, some goals to spending more time with my kids I've already gotten done so far this year.  Things like, "Drink cocoa", "Watch 'Simon's Cat' with kids on YouTube" and other things are easy to do, give me quality time with the kids and I HOPE create some good memories for them.  Oh yeah, "Finally figure out how to get a decent selfie with the kids" was one of the goals I had and am getting better at too (as seen above...well I think it came out pretty good anyway).
Oh and to anyone who wanted to see an updated picture of asked for it *laugh*.

8.  Declutter and Get Organized
This is one that has been tying into some of the things I've been doing already this year.  I really am hoping to organize, weed and get things in the house running more smoothly.  It makes it easier on me, of course, but also makes the family happier having things clean and mom knowing where stuff is (ha, I nearly said "knowing where all the crap is"...yup, I'm tired *laugh*).

So, yeah, I could probably ramble on for about five more pages about things I want to do, like *flips through pages on notebook* I know that "Taking naps" is in that mess somewhere and "making healthier meals", but I won't bore you for hours with the somewhat boring aspects of my personal goals for this year ;).

How about you?  Got any goals for this year?  Lofty, small or otherwise?


  1. Great goals Erika! I found your blog about a year or so ago and I just love your writing style and how well you do with so little. You are truly inspiring! Having a great attitude is the most important thing to see you through your trials, and you seem to always have one.
    Melody in OR.

  2. Last year I was just too scattered. This year I picked 2 words - Focused & Deliberate. Mostly focusing on God, my husband, myself (a first), Family, and friends. If it doesn't fit in to these categories or I don't love it I'm quiting it. Already dropped two monthly commitments and feeling pretty good about it. This should be a good year for all of us. Take care.

  3. Your goals look wonderful, realistic and achievable. Most of them are my goals as well. I loved the selfie of you and your daughter. One of my goals in the cooking area is to make more interesting meals too. I have a huge collection of cookbooks (one might say I'm addicted to them). I decided that this year each week I'm going to pick a random book and create all meals for that week from that book, making adaptations and substitutions where need be. I started doing that this week with my menu planand meals were more interesting. I also love to bake and will be doing more of that. I'm anxiously awaiting spring (lol) and have been mulling over what to plant in the garden to increase the yield for dehydrating and canning. I'm going to plant more herbs in containers. Those are just some of the things for me. Dorothy

  4. I was planning todo better meals this year too, instead of the same old. I see several of us have that goal.

    We raised rabbits for a short time when I was younger. The sweet littls bunnies for pets are the dwarf rabbits. I had a beautiful honey colored one. The meat ones were big, white and always mean. They bit, so if your son has curious fingers, he will need to be careful!! I wont lie though, if your daughter may be sensitive like i was, it was horrible, just horrible to see them as babies, petting them and know they were going to be killed. I never ate it. My step dad cried everytime he had to kill and skin them. Thats why about a year into it, and about 50 rabbits later, he just stopped and gave them all away. None of us could stand it. But the one as a pet was kept, she was sweet and gentle. It doesn't bother some people to kill them and eat it, but it was just too much for us!!

    You have good goals, and I am sure you will achieve them, youve accomplished so much and hopefully with so .uch of the dentists paid off, it will get easier financially this year.

  5. I LOVE your goal list this year, Erika! They are all very achievable and just perfect for you. We all know that bills need to be paid and that can be stressful when funds are tight. But if you can find happiness elsewhere (much of which is free), than life will be so much more enjoyable.

    I don't really make specific goals each year. I'm a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of girl. I've learned that specific goals can give me stress and make me frustrated. So I keep vague goals in my head, but try not to focus heavily on a measurable outcome (if that makes sense). For instance, I want to get back to focusing on our savings, once our big family vacation is over. We need to get back to putting money away. But I'm not going to stress over how much...just as much as we can.

    I want to focus on trying new recipes to find new ideas to add to my "Family Favourite Meal Ideas" list that I started last year (it's literally a list of meals my family likes to eat). I use this list to decide what to have for dinner and it seems to really help! So far this goal is going really well.

    This year Canada is celebrating our 150th and there will be a lot of events going on. Many will be free. We ordered Parks Passes which are free this year. They will allow us free day access to all Provincial Parks across Canada (and a few other Parks run historic spots). I hope to plan some day excursions with the pass this spring/summer/fall (picnics, swim at the beach, a walk through the various hiking pathways, etc). We even picked up the pamphlet that lists all the parks in Ontario so we can plan some trips. The down side is I work during this time, so it limits when I can actually do this. But I'm going to make a huge effort to do this while we have the free pass.

    My daughter is transitioning into high school this year. There will be a big effort from our part to help her into this new adventure. My goal is to help her ease into everything in a very positive way. I think high school will agree with her well as she will have more control and choice over what she learns. However, there is a list of requirements, many of which she has no interest in doing (like math, geography, and phys ed.). We need to help her get through the "requirements" with as little stress as possible, so she can focus on the enjoyable art, drama,and photography. I'm looking forward to watching her blossom.

    On a personal level, I want to continue to learn as many new skills, crafts and broaden my knowledge as much as I can on things that are useful in my everyday life. I enjoy opportunities that allow me to grow. So I will be on the lookout for interesting free or cheap classes or try other such things to broaden my life skills. Thankfully, my job often hands these opportunities to me on a silver platter, which is why I love my job so much. But it is up to me to take advantage of these opportunities, so I must always keep vigilant.

    Those are probably my biggest things I'm hoping to focus on this year. Thanks for sharing your goal list with us, Erika. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading about your progress through your posts!

  6. Erika, THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE POST OF ALL TIME! Thank you for the picture of you with your daughter, she is soooo cute. Now when I think of you in my mind, you aren't a blurry faced person with smurf blue feet! You are a beautiful woman, inside and out.

    Now, onto expressing my opinion about everything you said because I know that you are just dieing to hear what I think.

    1.Survive and Thrive. I like that. I might cross-stitch it and frame it so I can look at it everyday. That just might be my goal for the year also.

    2. Focus on Home and Hearth. We gave up Christmas years ago and just swap gifts between us (Bill, me and the boys). They all voted to do it. Our holiday time is spent resting, relaxing, and laughing, something we all need so desperately. When I walk past the displays in the stores, a feeling of relief washes over me also. I don't miss it.

    3. Smile more, spend less. Since Goodwill has built their big, new, fancy store and raised their prices, I have stopped going. Every week I used to drop in and walk through to see what they had. No more. I have just recently realized how much time I was spending there. I enjoyed shopping there, it was like a treasure hunt. Now, I go to the Dollar Store, spend a little bit more and get something new; I don't shop, walk in then walk out.

    4. More gardening - Yahoo! Take lots of pictures.

    5. Write a future journal, fantasy to help you survive. That is a great idea, imagining the future then working toward it. Right now I just can't figure out what I want my future to be.

    6. Cherish time with children. That one hurts. My boys just left this week, as everyone knows since I have cried on everybody's shoulder. Time spent with them is the most important time of your life. Fight for that time.

    7. Declutter and get organized. Well, you blew it on that one. I don't even want to face the piles of junk stuffed in each closet. I am ignoring this one and moving on. No comments.

    Thank you again for this wonderful post. It came from your heart.

  7. I absolutely love the picture of you and your daughter! Thank you so much for that! I'm always so amazed at your goals and how much you get done. We had rabbits as kids that we also were supposed to eat. I'm with Sarah, it was horrible. My uncle and grandpa would come to butcher them. I know they were only doing what my parents asked (my dad had one arm so couldn't do it alone), but it really did affect how I felt about them.

    I do have a bunny as a pet now. She is a dwarf breed and the sweetest thing.

    Here's to a great year for you and yours!

    1. We had rabbit - started with one male and two females in a three space hutch. Next thing you know we had hutches all down the fence line. lol. They multiply fast. One tip- don't name the ones you are going to eat!

  8. Very cute picture of you and your daughter. I couldn't eat a fish after catching one so I know I would never eat those rabbits. How I eat chicken, Jeff, and pork is a mystery to me, don't think about it I guess. Cheryl

  9. First I LOVE the picture of you and your girlie. Second, I love the way you set up your goals. Realistic but motivating.

  10. What a fun picture of you and your daughter! I think the decision to give up doing Christmas gifts for your extended family is a good one and am glad you are already feeling positive effects from it.

    I know a while ago you were kicking around maybe looking for some kind of little PT job, like something at your kids' school or even more flexible would be to pick up a house or two to clean . Have you thought or looked any more into that? You are super thrifty and resourceful but at a certain point the pennies have been stretched as far as they will go and you just need more of them.

    I know you have your hands more than full with your son's challenges, but I wonder while making you busier having a little more money coming in would your help your overall stress level?

    1. I love your embroidery projects. Is it possible to open an Etsy shop with items you make? You could only sell what you have finished so no worries if germs rampage through your house one week. Libby

  11. Your goals are admirable and I love your blog. You really needn't feel like having one pet rabbit is not also useful to the "homestead". As long as you can catch or shovel up the manure under it's hutch, it's serving a wonderful purpose for your garden!

  12. I love this post, Erika! And that photo of you and your daughter is just wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    If you're interested in visiting the federal park, there are usually several free days throughout the year (check the web site for dates) and children under 16 are ALWAYS admitted for free! A single pass admits your entire passenger car or the pass holder and up to 4 other adults (over 16). If you're planning on going several times check the cost of a year pass versus day passes.

    Can't wait to see how things go! You're doing great!

  13. It sounds as if your decision to focus on those nearest and dearest to you is a good one. The financial element has added such a large layer of stress to your life that anything you can do to reduce stress in other areas makes a lot of sense.

    I love your "have more fun" goal! And I second the feedback that the days are long but the years are short with your kids. I can't believe how fast it has gone now that I have an almost 20 year old.

    Regarding baking, I've learned A LOT watching the "master baking classes" by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry on PBS online. The Frugal Girl also has excellent yeast-based recipes - all that I have tried have been easy and delicious.

    My big goals this year are to aggressively pay down the mortgage, to pay cash for a major house repair, and pay cash to travel to France to visit the family I lived with 34 (ahem)years ago when I was a student! To achieve all this means money for any other part of my life will be extremely tight.

    Cheers! Here's to a happy, healthy, and successful 2017 for all of us :) Libby