Sunday, January 31, 2010

In-The-Least-Things Give-away!

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10

I do not know what has possessed me, but I’m having my very first ever Contrary Goddess’ Life on the Farm give away!

You know, we’ve been living the life for years now. And there are thousands of steps in it. I remember the first loaf of bread we made up here. It wasn’t a first ever loaf of bread for either of us but it was the first ever loaf with the idea that we’d just make most of our own bread from now on. We made it not for any ideological reasons but because we were only two people (and a baby) at the time and we didn’t have a freezer, so if we bought any quantity of bread at a time, it might mold before we could finish it. But we were a long way from town. We didn’t go often. We like bread.

And what we did was we got a bread machine. And eventually that evolved, and morphed, and changed, and went back and forth a few times, and in fact I still have a bread machine that I use semi-regularly (although the current one has never actually baked a single loaf), and we're still making most of our own bread.

When we started the garden, we dug four beds. When we started the orchard, we planted four trees. When we started the house, well, that was a l-o-n-g process.

So, everything in the whole is a process. However, it isn’t a process in which every little thing counts. Every little thing counts only if it is on a path that is both sustainable and that speaks to your soul and allows your heart to sing. Every little thing actually counts against you if the little thing is really excuse to not do something else, something harder. And it isn’t anything that has to be hard -- you don’t have to make it some BIG thing, some labeled thing, something to have chats about, create online communities to support. It is just living your life, but living it honorably and morally and with good judgment. If it is too hard, you are probably doing something wrong.

But there are things, often enough tiny things, that are part of the process, part of the movement in the direction of choice. What I am giving away are two of these things.

I used to love using dish sponges to wash dishes, clean counters, etc. Nevermind all the stuff about them harboring bacteria, that’s what I liked to use. Such a small thing, so I kept using them. Until their price went up and my cash went down. I don’t even know how it happened exactly, that first one. I’m sure it had to do with my mother-in-law and I think she just mentioned that she liked them because you could bleach them. I believe I had the yarn already, had already reminded myself of how to crochet. I remember doing the first one, following the pattern that was on the yarn, and it was too big to ever get rung out and way too complicated. We simplified and shrank them and experimented with what stitching qualities made them last longer. Eventually our daughter added them to her repertoire -- she’s quite the needlewoman. She not only usually keeps me supplied but she has sold them. Crocheted dish rags. I like them small and easy to manipulate and plain and tight.

Ah, but then the problem was the scrubbies, which had come on the back of some of the dish sponges. The commercial Teflon-type ones get grossly dirty. The curly ones get snagged and unravel. Eventually we came across the idea of using an old onion or potato net bag, cutting it to strips, and crocheting it into a round scrubby. Works like a charm and comes clean and last forever.

These are small things, but they are things we use They are useful as well as decorative. They involve some amount of recycling, some DIY, some non-consumerism.

And I am giving one of each away. Proudly made by my daughter.

Here’s what you have to do to win them: Share something that has been to your life like these have to mine, something that others might emulate. It can be tiny or big. If it has a funny story you probably have a better chance of winning since that decision is purely subjective. I have no idea what it might be for you, what has furthered you, what has helped your boat to float. But I hope you will play.

Play in the comments section, or if you think it is too long or you want to include a photo or something, play on your blog with a link in the comments of this post. I’d rather you not e-mail me because the whole point if for it to be public, to be shared, to be inspiration or at least amusement.

I am going to leave this open until for the duration of February. Please feel free to spread the word and invite your friends to play too.


Madcap said...

Hmmm. Well, I make my own bread. When Patch isn't making it, as he is right now. And we "made" our own chickens last summer too, which I was rawther pleased about, especially once they were in the freezer.

But a "least thing" might be more like me saving candle drippings to melt down and make more candles. I haven't got to the re-making yet, since I don't have enough (this is something I started a few months ago), but I'm planning to get there eventually.

And potholders. I make my own potholders out of fabric scraps. That's on my to-do list this month, because the ones I made a few years ago are looking very much the worse for wear.

You know, I think I'll do a sweetheart give-away of my own, along the pot-holder theme. I've been thinking about it, and you've given me a boot in the arse. Thanks!

Mickle in NZ said...

CG, not looking to take part in the give-a-way cos I have been knitting dish cloths myself.

For those who haven't tried them - cotton dis cloths just wash clean over and over again, and do a really great job of cleaning your dishes.

When the cotton dish cloth is all worn out just add it to your compost bin/wormfarm/composty place.

Sending care and huggles to CG and family from New Zealand, Mickle xxx

CG said...

well Mickle, surely you have something else! Some other least thing. I really like the saving the candle wax thing. I hope some other people come to play . . .

Just a Girl said...

CG, I know this isn't even close to what you're asking for, but it's as good as I've got with my current circumstances, and I couldn't pass up the chance to play on such a cool idea.

It's a couple months old post, but I enjoy the curtains every day.

CG said...

I LOVE the sewing machine! My mamaw had one just like that! Oh, wish I had one like that! Lovely! AND I love the curtains! They are simple, beautiful, useful as well as decorative, recycled, loved! Thanks so much for playing!

CG said...

And hey, MC, I thought I'd said that I loved the candle drippings thing too . . . but evidently I only thought I'd said that!

Wendy said...

I've thought a lot about this one - what things do I use regularly that I made for myself to replace something disposable? At first I couldn't think of anything, and then, the flood gates opened, and ....

First are my (ahem) sanitary napkins. I switched to a Diva cup and cloth napkins a few years ago, and I have been using them since. This is my third year, I think. That's probably TMI, huh?

Then, there are the cloth shopping bags. All of my first ones were homemade, but once the whole cloth shopping bag thing when mainstream and stores started printing their logos on their reusable shopping bags, I started accumulating quite a collection. I have, probably, twenty cloth shopping bags. I never need even half that many.

Back to the topic of hygiene, I also make my own deodorant. It's not an antiperspirant, and I had to get used to being "wet" - which was really weird at first, but I would never go back. In fact, the smell of the commercial stuff is a little unpleasant now that I've grown accustomed to smelling like tea tree oil and coconut milk ;). Which reminds me ... I need to whip up a quick batch, because I'm out. Good thing it's winter ;).

The last is the tea blends I've been experimenting with. I haven't actually "made" one, yet, with stuff I've grown, but I know that my final "night-time tea" (to replace the caffienated green tea I used to drink all day long, but which is lately causing a bit of insomnia) will definitely have sage in it, and probably chamomile ... maybe ;).

I'm sure there are other things, but that's probably enough, eh?

Thanks for letting us play, and thanks for the impetus to get some hand-knitted dish cloths made. I can't knit much, but I could do dish cloths :).

CG said...

I think crochet is easier Wendy! Great ideas and do you have the recipe for the deodorant somewhere? I'll go look. I haven't used antiperspirant in a coon's age but I haven't made my own deodorant either.

Wendy said...

I haven't posted it on my blog ... I should ;). It's wicked easy, but uses coconut oil (shh ... I know - not local *grin* ;).

Put 1/4 each of baking soda and cornstarch in a bowl. Add 10 drops of an essential oil that appeals to you. In the past, I've used tea tree oil (which is an anti-fungal - good deodorizer), lavendar oil and/or patchouli. All work well.

You can leave it at that and just dust your pits, which I've done.

Or, if you want a "stick" (I use an old plastic deodorant stick container from when I was still using deodorant), mix 2 TBSP of coconut oil to the desired consistency, and smoosh it into the container. During the summer, I have to keep it in the refrigerator, because the coconut oil liquifies in warm weather ;).

It works really well as a deodorant, but again, not so much for anti-perspirant. You'll still sweat, but that's not a bad thing, right? ;)

Alas, I never learned to crochet, and really, my knitting skill is limited to squares. So, anything I can do that allows me to put my limited skill to practical use is a bonus ;).

CG said...

I love scented body butter I make with coconut oil. One year I have it away to friends. One "friend" left it in her car and then was mad at me when it melted into her floor mats! But her car smelled good!

So, I'll have to give this a whirl.

clairesgarden said...

you know I forgot my great-gran used to knit dish cloths, one of my friends has started to larn to crochet I'm going to pass this idea onto her.

Mr. H. said...

Your post gave us much to ponder and we contemplated sharing but then could not pin it down to a thing or a topic or an idea. We talked about it again today, during a long, leisurely walk with our new pup around the lake that we live on and decided there was something that brought us to where we are now and will keep us here in this place for the rest of our natural lives. My husband, Mike, found it first and with each small step he drew me along ever so slowly as I was the doubter, the sensible one, the planner...

What was it, you ask? It was when we were able to see with eyes wide open that for the most part, everything we knew, had been taught, had learned was pretty much a lie, at least to us. You will find it in the public school systems, in government, the stock market, your place of employment, in medicine, and marketing. Everyone will tell you what you need, how to get it, how to spend it, how to throw it away when you're tired of it (including material goods, marriages, your pets, or whatever else you just don't want to deal with anymore). The lights were coming on in our household.

Today, neither of us hold regular paying jobs. We are fortunate to be mortgage and debt free and had saved money for several years before jumping off the work train to the freedom train. When an opportunity presents itself for us to work for a day or a week we might take it, usually together, and then it's back home to what is important in our world; growing, foraging, and putting up our own food and staying as far removed from the ills of society as possible. Our days are filled with activity, we are not lazy, and yet we are doing what we love to do. We have taken responsibility for what goes into our bodies, our health, our happiness, and our own welfare. Were an economic or natural disaster to strike it would not be the end of our world and we would not go without.

Myself, I've taken on a couple housecleaning jobs and it's been a great reminder of where we used to be and why we opted out. Both the women I work for hold jobs in the medical field, earn tons of money, and are so incredibly stressed out that they can no longer handle their personal affairs. They are plagued with continual illnesses, their diets are abhorrent, and both seem to de-stress by going on shopping sprees for things they don't need and, with all of that, both are debt-ridden. Of course, they love me because I put a little order into their lives, if only once a week. Oh, I remember those days quite well; driving home after another stressful workday and having heart palpitations so strong that I thought I might faint. That, I think, was my tipping point. I no longer wanted to live that way and who said we have to? That's when I caught up with what Mike already knew and there was no turning back. Today, we enjoy each other's company, have come to a natural division of labor, and continually find new and exciting ways to get the most out of everything. Truly, for us, we find pleasure in-the-least of things, freedom of mind, body, and spirit is what we hold most dear.

Mrs. H (Micki)

CG said...

oh WOW Mrs. H! I'm so very glad you played! Thank you so much for that inspiration!

Other folks, you still have a few more days to play as I'm not gonna actually announce anything probably until the end of the week as I've got a birthday celebration and a couple days of work at the barn and I'm not finalizing it until after that!