This Year's Wishlist:
1. Grow as much from home as possible
2. Be able to gift quality products to those we love
I am proud to say that we have accomplished much of what we set out to do on the Homestead this year. We are raising our feathered and furry friends, we grew a substantial garden, and we've upcycled and put to use our resources in so many creative ways.
Sometimes the creativity was purely out of necessity - with a new baby, we had increased costs. Daycare, a mom-car, insurance... it adds up fast. Nevermind the bigger all our critters grow, the more feed they begin to require. Add that to home renovation projects, regular bills, and some fun here and there, and things can get tight at times. So, having a garden to pull produce from and free eggs, helps. Running our Homestead is certainly not a major cost savings - it is an investment, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. However, the return on investment is in quality, and that was truly our goal in the first place. The care provided is the biggest cost (in terms of time and effort), and it turns out that part is actually pretty theraputic.
It can be hard for others to see why we'd want to spend all the extra time and work on these tasks, but it is difficult to comprehend unless you have raised a handful of day-old, fragile, baby chicks, worrying about if they are warm enough, or if their legs are forming right. Watching those chicks grow out longer feathers, and seeing their wattles come in. Waiting weeks on end for them to begin laying - checking the coop, watering, and feeding them.... until one day it happens - unexpectedly. You walk into the coop and there it is, unassuming, in all of its enamled glory - your first homegrown, minutes old, farm fresh egg. You revel in that moment, taken aback, awe-struck, and you suddenly have a greater appreciation for what you put into your body. I did not anticipate having that reaction. It's one of life's purest moments where I truly felt as though I'd received a blessing of sorts... So, it is difficult to comprehend, without experiencing that cycle of time first-hand.
The magic of the whole thing really took us by storm. Everytime we were able to make something new from scratch, with what we had available - pickles, sauces, earrings, etc. each of those items became treasured. Every ingredient took dedication to create. I can feel a little inner glow thinking about putting together baskets of goods for folks for Christmas this year - hoping that they will appreciate the late summer slow roasted peppers in the salsas that we grew from a seed smaller than my fingernail, or the powerful aroma and flavor from the homegrown herbs. Each of these products has value, especially when done with personal touches, and hand selected with each person in mind.
Having these products at the ready really helps to decrease (at least a portion of) my usual holiday stress. The Homestead has truly served us well, once again. It saves us on regular gifting cost, without sacraficing sentiment, and simplifies our life without losing quality. I did do some pre-planning for these gifts, visiting thrift stores and Goodwill often throughout the year to collect various baskets in preparation for gifting. Baskets that, new, would normally cost me $25 per piece or more, I have scored frequently for $3 - $5 instead. In no way am I attempting to cheapen any part of gift giving, or cheat anyone, but when life is as expensive as it is, and there's truly nothing wrong with these second hand baskets, then it makes good sense to put them to use, and sorce them affordably. They can be reused for so many things again and again.
The holidays are a perfect time to let your homestead creations and creativity shine. Those on the receiving end should consider themselves pretty lucky to savor one of the limited batch jars of fresh pasta sauce, and when using it might remind them of their relationship with you.
Here are some of the basket fillers I am planning on:
Lavendar Sugar Scrub
Mojito Mint Syrup
I hope to add soaps and household cleaners to the list in the future, and possibly candles, loofas, packaged meats, jams from the berry patch, and maple syrup from the sugar bush! I can't wait to create - it's what keeps me going, looking forward to each new season. For now, I'm happy to be snuggled into the Homestead for the winter with reminders of summer available inside each mason jar on the shelf.
Have you made your own holiday baskets? What do you include from your homestead, farm, or tried-and-true recipe book?
Would love to hear from you!