In January of 2017, I committed to the intention of using what I have. Almost 2 months in, here is what I’ve accomplished so far with my commitment.
I resolved to use more of the food that I have before I go and procure more. This has been relatively easy because I have a lot of good ingredients at my disposal in both my freezer and my pantry. I think the stand out freezer concoction thus far was a wild turkey posole. (Posole is a southwestern stew with hominy.) We had some leftover frozen turkey from Thanksgiving, a batch of hominy left over from previous soups and some frozen red chile paste. I added some fresh onion and spices and let this simmer in the crock pot for a few hours. It was a great meal and came entirely out of my freezer. We strive to never waste food so my resolution hasn’t been too revolutionary, but it is a great way to challenge yourself. We call these meals “Iron Chef” challenges because you take the random ingredients you’ve got and you can come up with some pretty awesome things — often a one-time meal that can never again be replicated.
As much as I love and patronize my local library, I have really enjoyed grabbing books off of my shelves that I’ve collected over time. The majority of the books are ones that I have picked up at the thrift store for less than a dollar and they have provided me with hours of enjoyment. I now have these books in a read stack that I am either going to donate back or pass along to friends for reading. It has been great, especially during this winter, to be able to peruse my own library, grab a book in my PJs and cuddle up on the couch under a quilt. I used to keep all of my books carting all of them around proudly for years, but now I am happy to let many of them move on to another house and be used instead of just stagnant on an overcrowded shelf. A couple of years back, I started a book journal where I write down every book I read. I do some commentary, or I jot down poignant passages, but this journal has in a sense been able to replace my big stack of books. I’ve also opened up my cd binder and pulled out some real gems to listen to instead of just defaulting to online radio. It’s amazing how music can make one so nostalgic and also how it can create a certain mood. I’ve been experimenting with quilting to different music to see if it impacts the way in which I quilt. So far I do not have any definitive proof that music effects my stitching, but this has been a less than rigorous examination of this correlation.
I have been very diligent with the use of materials I already have. I found 4 skeins of yarn that were given to me as a gift that I am making into a very simple blocked baby blanket. I made so many baby blankets last year that it seems pragmatic to have an extra one lying around for a future gift. This hasn’t challenged my knitting skill set in the least, but it is a project that uses materials I already own.
I have been more successful with trying new skills and using up materials in my quilting. Part of this education has been through my monthly art quilting group. This group challenges me to think outside of the traditional and to try all sorts of new techniques. (All of the skills I’m learning is an entirely different blog post/posts.) One project I made is a baby quilt for my cousin out of ikat fabric in my stash wherein I quilted two identical yards together without any piecing or blocks. This is the same idea as the quilt in a day, but this time, I free motioned around the ikat pattern in the blanket and it took me more than a day. Because this fabric was so dynamic, it is hard to tell the level of detail that was involved from afar but it was a great practice project for me to get more comfortable with free motion quilting. I have also made 2 very different log cabins out of scraps. The smaller of the two is made entirely out of scraps that I had lying around and did not cut — I simply laid them out and let the design be very organic. This quilt got sent to a friend living in the Baltics who longs to build her own tiny log cabin out of reclaimed materials when she gets back to the States. Her dream was my inspiration for the quilt. My second log cabin is very measured and based off of a pattern that uses 1-inch scrap pieces. I’ve made several of these and always enjoy how the randomness of scraps creates an entirely different quilt each time. This quilt will be heading north to Alaska where a couple of dear friends are moving for work (and adventure!). I could easily make dozens more of these projects and still have remaining scraps of fabric. Also, because of the size of these quilts, I’ve been able to use leftover batting scraps stitched together. All three of these projects were made without spending any money.
We have been ever grateful for all of the time we are able to spend enjoying our nearby public lands. Lately it has been mostly nordic skiing, but we have also enjoyed some crisp late winter hikes as well. We are both stewards of our public lands and hope that the access to these precious resources never changes. However, in this uncertain time, we have realized just how important and necessary this land is to us and we are taking full advantage of it while land still remains public.
So far, this intention/resolution/commitment has been a good challenge and a relatively easy mindset for me to adopt. I am still buying fresh groceries, and I still spend money at the local quilt shop and thrift store, but it is very comforting to know that everything I need, I already have. I do not feel limited by my intention in any way and the more I practice this habit, the more I have ingrained this practice into my everyday mindset.