It's still only October, but as the leaves turn and the temperature drops (ever so slightly here in the Northeast), I can't help but anticipate the impending winter that's just around the corner.
It's my first summer out of the college dormitory where heat, hot water, and electricity were "free". (Ok, so I did pay an inflated cost for them at the beginning of each semester, but when there were no monthly bills to pay, everything seemed FREE!!) But now I'm living in my own apartment with other "young professionals" and we're trying to winterize to avoid obscene costs later on. So what's a HOMEGROWN newbie to do?!
My apartment, unfortunately and upsettingly, is heated by oil. It seems archaic to me, too, but you gotta do what you gotta do. With the cost of crude rising, I'm in for a long and expensive winter. The Farmers' Almanac claims the Northeast will see the typical cold (and relatively snowy) winter it had last year, so add the cost of heating fuel to other utilities and rising food costs and I'm in for a rough season. Any tips for keeping out the drafts?
What can I do to winterize and HOMEGROWNize my life in other ways? I know that I should have started canning months ago, and preserving as much as I can through the fall, but I'm a little behind the game now, and daunted by the tasks ahead. What is a good staple food to can? I ate pears and peaches all winter since they were canned early enough. I'm thinking of trying to freeze some veggies for the long haul. What tips do you folks have? I can no longer stuff my face with all-you-can-eat dining hall fare, and I can't stomach pasta for dinner every night, so any tips on stocking up on "fresh" foods are appreciated! Hoping to make some apple butter this weekend!
Other changes I'm making: I joined a co-op market recently, which offers excellent benefits and discounts for members. Lots of the produce is local and you can buy dry goods in bulk! I'm attempting to make some of my own cleaning products, like laundry and dish detergents, and bars of soap. I'm learning to knit, and repurposing old clothes, instead of blindly buying new ones. I'm cooking more and eating out less, and trying to make good decisions at the market.
While these ventures have been fun and exciting for a newbie just starting a nest, adopting the HOMEGROWN lifestyle still feels a little daunting. I can't raise animals on my patch of lawn, it's getting a little cold for a garden, and I'm still trying to learn the ropes of canning and food preservation. How did you experienced folks start living HOMEGROWN or homesteading? What are some absolutely fundamental and easy ways to get going and to feel accomplished. I feel like I'm not authentic and I'm sometimes frustrated. How about you? Let's hear what you're up to, your advice to amateurs, and how to kick start HOMEGROWN living in the colder months.