Monday, January 7, 2013

Resolutions or Goals?

Ah, the ever popular "New Year's Resolution" post! I read another blogger recently who said she preferred "goals" over "resolutions." After thinking about it, I heartily agree with her. Resolutions are concrete, unshakeable decisions that MUST happen in their entirety to be considered a success (government being a notable exception-in-denial).

On the other hand, a goal is something that you have chosen to move toward in the coming year. It is something you want and have chosen to pursue. Your year can be seen as a success so long as you have actively PURSUED your goal. If you achieve it, hooray for you! But life was not designed to function within 1 year increments. If your "resolution" is to lose 50 lbs and you only lose thirty, you failed your resolution. Those hard-fought 30 lbs are inadequate, because you failed in your "resolve." BUT, if your GOAL is to lose 50 and you make it to 30, then you have made terrific progress!

Yes, many people see success in what they accomplished, but they still know that their resolution was unfulfilled. Despite the concreteness of their resolve in January, by November they have redefined the word "resolution" to mean: "a good idea I had while drinking champagne and wearing a party hat."

Perhaps this is just semantics, but I also see it as realism. I KNOW I'm not going to be perfect at maintaining house this year, much less this month. I want to strive for it, but why put the unneeded pressure on myself to achieve perfection? I will become frustrated and angry as I fight against my flaws. I am an imperfect being. But, the greatest mark of a person is to always yearn for and seek out perfection.

Some people reject the idea of a New Year resolution BECAUSE they fail every year. I think this is very unfortunate. Humans love nothing more than to chase after something. However, many people give up chasing because they are already convinced they will fail. We cannot grow if we never risk failure.

I want to be MORE than what I am, and yet I also know that I fail daily. How can I overcome this? One way is to focus not just on the end goal, but on the CHASE! Part of the thrill of love is to pursue your beloved. If we embraced our yearly goals the same way, we could see ourselves grow in incredible ways! We would learn the lessons of perseverance, patience, determination, ingenuity, humility, and many more. Each lesson refines us from WITHIN, and each one gives us the strength and skill to continue. I may not keep a perfect house by next January, but I pray that I will be at least one step closer. And really, isn't being one step closer better than never even trying?

In short, I think that calling it a resolution is to say: "I WILL achieve you!" However when I have a goal, I say: "I want you, and I'm willing to pursue you for as long as it takes to finally embrace you!" Doesn't that sound far more attainable, not to mention happier, than the resolution? Despite acknowledging that we will frequently struggle, we embrace the challenge with passion! It is no longer a fight, but a dance!

And now, I am off to make myself a small list of GOALS for this coming year. Well, perhaps I'll make it after I clean something. It can be one of the things I get to cross off the list as soon as I write it down. I love those.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Plan to Can

Pretty Jars!

Whew, the last year went by fast! Now that I've come full circle since first starting my foray into canning, I decided to make a list of what I want to do again and what I'd like to try in 2013. For posterity's sake, I'll aslo list what I won't be making again.

Make Again 
Apple peel jelly - The more I taste this stuff, the more I love it. AC likes it too! It's currently his most requested jelly! Plus, you really can't beat the fact that this is basically a bonus from canning applesauce! Great everyday jelly, could easily replace strawberry. 

Applesauce - so good, and relatively simple once you're done chopping those dang apples. 

Spiced Blueberry Jam - oh lawdy, this stuff is amazing! Absolutely dreamy on toast or pancakes.

Maybe Make
Apple butter - This stuff is really good, but I don't see much need for it if I'm making applesauce and jelly.

Apple slices in syrup - Since I just made this, i have no idea what my usage will be. I'm not ruling it out until I know for sure.

Balsamic Blackberry Basil Jelly - Really a gourmet treat! But I only need so many preserves.

Balsamic Pickled Asparagus - This is probably the only non-sweet pickle I've ever enjoyed, but that last jar sat on the shelf for months.

Strawberry Jam - Always a classic, but again, a gal only needs so many jars of preserves.

Not Making Again
Blackberry syrup - I am still up to my ears in syrup. It makes a nice soda, but we don't use more than a small batch per year. I'm set for a long time!

Cranberry Grapefruit Marmalade - It's not that it was bad, I just didn't use it. I haven't opened a single jar. While I know what to do with cranberries, I don't know what to do with cranberries that taste predominantly of grapefruit.

Honey Lemon Marmalade - Again, I never used a jar. I finally opened one recently, but found it slightly bitter. IF I try this again, It will be as a jelly and not a marmalade. I just can't get used to tough bits of rind.

New to Try
Beets - I've discovered a deep love of beets, and since it's an easy crop to grow I figured it would be a no-brainer to try and can. I'll probably start with pickled beets, and if I can find someone to loan me a pressure canner I'll move on to plain sliced beets. Yum.

Beans - We also discovered that green beans no longer upset Hubby's Crohns like it used to. I am beyond THRILLED to add a new veggie into our diets, especially since it's another one that's easy to grow. I'll probably only can this if I find a pressure canner, but I'm not ruling out Dilly Beans!

Carrots- Again, this depends on a pressure canner. I may not grow the carrots myself, considering I can buy organic carrots for a reasonable price. I like having shelf stable veggies, but am leery of metal cans.

Cranberry sauce - I've been stashing cranberries in my freezer since Thanksgiving, and when I find the time I want to make some plain-Jane cranberry sauce. I love the stuff in pork dishes, but store bought sauce always has HFCS.

Tomato sauce - Yes, I know, it's absurd that i didn't try sauce this past year, but between that dang blight and complete disorganization at harvest season, I didn't. In fact, I had originally wanted to make salsa. Sauce, however, would be much simpler, and therefore more likely to be put up.

Herb jellies or syrups - I made violet syrup last spring and found it fascinating. I'd love to try it as jelly! I also want to try dandelion jelly/syrup, which is supposed to taste like honey. I'm sure there are more wild plants I can play with, but I'll start with these in spring.

Hmmm... I think that's everything. Did I miss anything awesome? Especially something that can be used as a side dish in a meal. That would certainly do more for our food budget than a lifetime supply of jelly. I'll have to modify this list as I refine my plans for the year. Still planning that garden.

Oh! Something I also want to experiment with this year is Pomona's pectin. I've heard lots of good things about this, most notably that you can use little to no sugar and still have perfectly set jelly. Many times I've made jelly and absolutely HATED putting the last 3-4 cups of sugar in! Sometimes, nature did it right the first time 'round! What really convinced me to try Pomona's was when I learned that it lasts indefinitely. That's right, NO expiration! The traditional SureJell or Certo stuff only lasts a few months. I like keeping a few boxes of pectin on had for impromptu jellin', but there's nothing more frustrating than preparing to can only to realize your pectin is past due! Also, Pomona's can make larger batches and more batches per box. This not only makes the price comparable to other brands, but I no longer have to work some kitchen gymnastics in order to can more than 6 jars of jelly at a go! Definitely on my 2013 Must Try List!