Monday, November 29, 2010

Home Crafts and Writing

cooking1 In the last week four people have asked how I can do all the home-crafty stuff like making soap, cheese, and butter, baking bread, fiber arts, gardening and cooking from scratch and still have time to write. So I gave it some serious thought.

First and foremost, I don’t have children. Those who are able to write while raising children and cooking from scratch, gardening, etc. have my greatest admiration. Now that’s tricky.

Plus, writing is my job. When I had a full-time job and wrote, the home crafting activities definitely declined.

And I cheat. Yes, I bake our bread, but I usually use a bread machine or the Five-Minutes a Day recipe for artisan breads. I’m a big fan of either dumping ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and walking away or using the pressure cooker to speed “slow food” along. Plus I cook for leftovers, either to be frozen or re-used in other recipes, so I really only cook dinner five times a week or less.

I plan my schedule for the week. Or at least I try to. That helps me identify chunks of time for larger projects like making pasta or processing garden produce.

Baking, making yogurt and simple cheeses, cooking, gardening, laundry, and cleaning are regular parts of the week. But in the fall I actually schedule time off for food preservation. Soap making only comes about twice a year, candle making once a year, and I only make butter once a month or so.

The key, of course, is that I love it. Even when I’m tired there is something soothing about puttering around in the kitchen. And not only do I really enjoy the activities themselves, but also feel a ridiculously immense satisfaction from using my own soap, cooking a meal with vegetables from the garden, biting into a simple slice of sourdough bread spread with cultured butter, or putting on a hat that I knitted from yarn I spun myself.

But let’s be clear: I often don’t pull it off. I fail. Sometimes there just isn’t time for it all. Writing has to come first, so that means some trade offs. It took me a while, but I’ve learned to let some things go. Cancel the milk delivery for a week, give away the eggs, buy a loaf of bread, and pick up a dang pizza!

Everyone has busy lives with many integrated parts. If you have any tips or tricks for how you manage yours, please share!

4 comments:

  1. I'm just in awe that you make your own soaps. To me that sounds like it would be complicated and a long process. I agree gardening can be very relaxing and helps you get your thoughts in order.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  2. This all sounds divine. "And not only do I really enjoy the activities themselves, but also feel a ridiculously immense satisfaction from using my own soap, cooking a meal with vegetables from the garden, biting into a simple slice of sourdough bread spread with cultured butter, or putting on a hat that I knitted from yarn I spun myself."

    Someday I will carve out time to do all these things. I dabble here and there, but I'd love to be more consistent with it.

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  3. My immense satisfaction comes from getting all the socks matched up in the laundry, but I can always dream about making my own soap! And candles. And chocolate bunnies. And AA batteries.

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  4. Mason, I'm afraid those soaps are just melt-and-pour. You melt chunks of the stuff in the microwave, add scent and color, and pour them into molds. Easy peasy. Lye soap is certainly more complicated (but fun!).

    Kerrie, you are one of the busiest people I know. I so admire all you've done with Northern Colorado Writers!

    Jenny, you're going to have to let me in on your AA battery secret. I can never quite get them right. ; >

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