A few years ago I started a blog with my friend Courtney. (You can find it here at http://thirtydaysofjune.wordpress.com/ ). We were going to try an experiment: to be like June Cleaver for thirty days. We were going to make home-cooked meals, keep a clean house, pack lunches for our fellows, etc. I even went so far as to only wear dresses to work, wear pearls, and give up swearing.
I didn’t last the full thirty, at least not to the full extent of the rules. Courtney did a little better, but I was (and still am) working two part time jobs in addition to my full time gig. It was a little difficult to meet *all* of the high expectations I had set for myself as June. Plus, I wasn’t married yet and was still living alone as a single woman, so there was no one to appreciate the hospital corners on the bed.
Though not a complete success, that experiment, along with a few other things, really changed my life and the type of wife and mother I wanted to be. I see that experience as the beginning of my journey to be a “happy homemaker.” Two years later and married, I am most definitely a happy homemaker. I have a graduate degree and am working on a second one, but if it was possible to give it all up to stay at home, milk goats, and feed chickens, I would do so faster than you could say “apron strings.” A far cry from the girl who laughed and said that making Hamburger Helper counted as cooking because she had to boil water to make it.
This journey led me to take up canning last summer. What I decided to try on a whim has turned into my favorite hobby. It is also my answer to how to serve home-cooked meals to my husband on a regular basis while still working full-time. Two hours of canning today could mean ready-to-go meals on six different nights. It also means healthier food, unprocessed. Most of it is from my parents’ garden, so it’s organic and not GMO.
And canning is so much more (at least in this house!) than jams and jellies. In the past year, I’ve done hundred of jars, including salsas, relishes, pickles, soups, beans, venison, chicken, pulled pork, ham, all kinds of veggies, broth, stock, chutneys, condiments, applesauce, and of course jams and jellies. Dear Husband (DH) loves being able to open up a jar and have a delicious sandwich. I can have homemade chicken and vegetable soup in the crockpot in fifteen minutes. It has changed the way we eat and think about food. It is a great stress reliever, it’s healthier, it saves money, and it tastes SO good.
Canning was so much fun I decided to learn more. I have purchased some homesteading books and tried out dehydrating. I have some fat from a ham sitting in my freezer waiting to become soap this summer.
Some of my friends think I’m crazy. When I say that I’m canning, say, chicken, they will respond, you know you can buy that in the store, right? Others ask how I find the time and energy. I wanted to create a blog to teach others how to can, and how to work it into a busy schedule. I joke that I’m a canning evangelist, because I am frequently singing the praises of canning to my friends. At first, I thought I’d make it a canning-only blog, but I’m starting to do other things, like drying food, and soap making. I also coupon, and I like making crafts from repurposed objects, and finally I decided that all of those things work together in my attempt to make a happy home.
Life can be difficult. Things get in the way of what we want to do and the home we want to create for our families. None of us is perfect. Lord knows I’m not! Some weeks are so crazy we just get dressed from Mount Laundry because the clean clothes never made off the chair and into the drawers! But each little thing we do can make us and our family feel loved and cherished. I love each jar I can, label, and put away because I feel I am taking care of my family.
If any of this interests you, come back! See what I’ve managed to preserve today, and preserve some memories of your own.