Once upon a time, I was a suited-up professional working in a healthcare environment, punching a (mostly) 8-5 clock. Some days I worked until 7 or 8, and I was on call every single weekend. I was rocking the soap biz on the side, working markets one weekend a month. We lived in a townhouse in a nice urban area and could walk to the grocery store if we wanted. Unfortunately, it was uphill coming back. In fact, making soap was the closest I came to doing the neo-hippie-slash-homesteading thing.
A couple of years after leaving that position, it became very clear to us that we were going to be trading urban life for coastal rural life. I was pregnant at the time, so finding a new job wasn’t high on my list of priorities, but making a home was. I had visions of biking places, eating fresh-caught fish on a regular basis, and having our own little garden spot where we could grow our own fruits and vegetables, enough for our family. One out of three ain’t bad.
In the six years since we moved, my business has taken off in unexpected ways, and I have changed in unexpected ways. I never dreamed I’d be home educating my daughters. Our “little” garden spot has had really bad years and really great years, but those great years haven’t yielded just enough for us to enjoy, but enough to share. This year, it’s giving us some to can, too. That’s another thing I never expected to be doing – putting up my own canned goods. We tend to gravitate towards condiments (cranberry mustard, jellies, jams, and butters) and dessert stuff (pie fillings and chocolate sauce), although we have made and put up pickles, Brunswick stew, and chicken soup. These, too, we are able to share.
When we lived “in the city,” I didn’t own a working sewing machine; I’m on my second one since we moved, one that my fellow business owner said is “a good one for children” (thanks, Sarah), but which is most definitely a step up from my Singer. I used to sew; when I was a teenager, I made pillows for myself and for gifts, and I’ve done some of that since being married. My long-time customers have seen the bags I’ve made for gifts or to hold bars of soap, too. I’ve made a messenger bag and three purses. Most recently, I’ve sewn curtains, a rather large project, as they’re covering a sliding glass door.
Soapmaking. Canning. Sewing. Knitting. (My oldest daughter is over my shoulder, or I’d show you what I’m working on for her.) I look around at all these things my hands have made, at all the ways I’ve stretched myself to create a warm home and the ways we’ve worked together as a family to achieve it, and I am pleased.
(Next week, look for pictures of homemade pesto and more pickles. I wish I could share our bounty with you.)