I love being a homemaker. One of the reasons is that it offers a wide variety of activities that appeal to me. No two days are alike on this job. One day I might be a cleaning diva, the next day I could be a nurse, on the third day I can wow my family with baked goodies... the list is endless.
The only problem with this is, unlike a day job where the milestones are marked with pay raises, promotions, certificates and congratulatory parties, homemaking is a mostly thankless and featureless career. When I look back, it all seems like an endless corridor of cooking, cleaning and other mundane tasks that I have traversed with my apron firmly tied on.
So this year I've decided to sit down and list the things that I have learned and accomplished in the past 12 months. I don't want to remember years just for the memorable trips we took or tragedies in the family and friends circles.
Here is my list:
Gardening: Grew my first ivy gourds or kovakkai in pots and devised a pandal using plastic netting between our well and shed. The yield wasn't spectacular, but the vine is still alive and that is a huge accomplishment for me!
I also improvised a trellis for purple long beans and had a bountiful crop. We planted more fruit trees this year. So in addition to the jackfruit, tamarind and coconut trees we had when we bought the plot, we now have cashew, sapodilla, guava, papaya, bell fruit, passion fruit and mulberry. My plan for the next year is to nourish these properly. The pineapple that I had got to grow from the top of a store-brought fruit has finally decided to put forth a fruit after two years of merely taking up space in our backyard. Talk about bonuses!
I also managed a couple of elephant yams and finally succeeded in getting a kanthari (bird's eye chilli) to grow from seed. DH and I planted around 26 banana and plantain rhizomes in May and got help in maintaining them. They are flourishing. And here I was thinking that I barely did anything in the garden due to health issues in the latter part of the year!
This year is notable for my discovery of a miraculous addition to my gardening - cocopeat! We have clayey soil that becomes quite hard in summer months. I was looking for a way to loosen it up and happened on this product at an agro store. I've used it for all the new plantings this year and it has worked wonders. Later, my hunch was confirmed by an agricultural expert's YouTube video recommendation for loosening and aerating clayey soil!
Craft: Learned and made three crochet amigurumi. Made my first macrame pieces.
I am also learning polymer claying. My first pieces are very rudimentary and I am still learning the various techniques.
And of course there was that needlework project that is now framed and hanging right at our entrance so that the maker can boast to her heart's content...
I managed to BuJo through the year and have decided that I don't need any other planner ever again. But the recommended BuJo journals are very prohibitively pricey (Leuchtturm 1917 - Rs.3000 for a notebook!!!) and the dotted notebook I got from Amazon shed pages so badly that I was left pasting back the pages more than I was writing in it. Other replacements had pages that ghosted and even bled.
So I bought a package of cream-colored A4 premium bond paper from my favorite stationery shop and learned kettle-stitch binding from YouTube. My first attempt at trimming the pages after binding turned out like a rat chewed up its edges. Ani now uses that as a sketch book. I bound two more and got them trimmed and covered by a professional binder. Then I added elastic closures and colorful endpapers on my own...
Here they are: my new BuJo and Craft BuJo for 2018. Hope to learn how to do the covers by myself next year. The paper quality is the best! I can even paint in them if I want to. I thumb my nose at you, expensive stationery manufacturers!!!
Cooking and baking: Baked Tres leches, Red velvet, Devil's food and Caramel cakes. Learned how to make Swiss meringue buttercream icing - think I will never go back to plain ol' buttercream unless I need an eggless cake and icing. I tried my hand at icing flowers too! Here was my best effort of the year made for the "baby" in our family who complains if I don't write his name in icing on the top of the cake! (Yep, that's my DH)
In addition to baking I tried my hand at Unniyappam (turned out soft and yummy in spite of my skipping the step of letting the batter rest awhile after mixing), Kumbilappam during the jackfruit season and a savory, tangy Bhakarwadi that was a huge hit. I tried pickling tender mangoes, but got the proportions of masala all wrong so that instead of being soft and mushy, they turned out hard as bullets and too salty after the requisite 6 months in a closed jar. Ah, some you lose!
Home: Painted a whole room and learned quite a few valuable lessons in the process. Then I read this (highly recommended) book...
... learned to repair a leaky toilet by myself (cost 20 rupees) and emboldened by the feat, went on to replace the lights on the gate post by myself (no manual required). This is in addition to the valve-changing, picture-hanging etc that I usually do.
I also managed to give our living room a makeover this month, but more on that in another post!
Books: I managed to stick to my resolution of listing all the books I read this year and writing a short precis of each. So far, the number is 131 - therefore I have managed to bring down the average number of books that I read from 15 to around 10 a month. Definite improvement, I would say! I will share my favorites of the year in another post.
Please don't think I am boasting about the number of books that I manage to read because anyone who knows me can tell you that reading is almost as essential to me as breathing. And please don't imagine that all my reading is either high literature or philosophical reading - those are certainly there, but I love reading potboilers, well-researched romances, memoirs, travelogs, good whodunits, thrillers and humor. I am looking forward to reducing this number even more because this year the power of the left lens of my specs went from -10.00 to -10.25 dioptre, not a good thing at my age!
Writing has not been very good this year: I managed a measly 12 blog posts not including this one. Didn't do any creative writing this year. And I didn't miss it much either...hmm, that is food for thought...
Towards the end of the year, I managed to help out a friend by copy-editing his wife's doctoral thesis. It led to my now getting two paying clients for my copy-editing and rewriting services!
All in all, it has been a good year for domestic activities at Karthi! I am so grateful for the new things I've learned this year. But my greatest thanks goes to DH who works hard and manages our finances so well that I have the leisure to be a homemaker. I cannot thank him enough for that.
Do you look back at each year? Do the years appear distinct or do they telescope into each other and become a jumbled mess? How do you chronicle the year's events? Do comment in the form below...
Wish you all a very merry Xmas and a Happy New Year! Signing off for 2017!