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    January 6, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    Well, I suppose I should post my New Year’s resolutions before February or something. I have a lot of angst about such resolutions. Part of it is because it takes me a while to decide to do something, but once I decide, I like to do it while I am still feeling inspired. Trying to determine goals for an entire year–specific, practical goals, especially–is hard for me. And if there are too many, I forget before the year is up!

    But on the other hand, making goals is part of what helps me to improve our life, to get more things done, and so on. Without them, I would do the same thing, day in and day out, because I am a creature of habit.

    I’ve divided them up into random categories, but in no way do I pretend that I have made a goal for each area of life.

    Spiritual Formation Goals

    • Read a book of the Bible with a commentary. I haven’t yet decided which book, mainly because I am trying to find a commentary I like. I have used commentaries for specific passages over the years, but I have never walked through an entire book using a commentary, even though it is something I’ve always wanted to do. I am considering The Epistles of John Through New Eyes: From Behind the Veil by Peter Leithart, which is especially tempting because I adore the writings of John.
    • Journal the promises of God and the Bibles IF/THEN statements. I have only read a tiny bit of
    • Future Grace, but I was struck in my reading by the fact that I felt so ignorant. I have never really paid attention to God’s promises in Scripture. Much of this is due to my education being steeped in Dispensationalism. I consider this part of my recovery plan. I know there are books out there on God’s promises that can be purchased, but I like the process of building my own notebook.

            Self-Education Goals

            • Add literature to my self-education program. I maintain a rigorous reading plan. This doesn’t mean I read a lot of books in a year, because I don’t. But it is my policy to always be marinating in a book. I do this because I think that without inspiration, it is impossible to keep up the stamina required for real teaching. I am a non-fiction junkie, I fully admit it. But I have read a number of books that insist that the course of study for the Classical Master must be literature. I own wonderful books that I have been neglecting to read, so it won’t cost me a dime. Oh. And I might need a commentary for these, too.
            • Keep track of books read. I actually started a list in a widget at the bottom of this blog. Basically, any book I’ve opened this month is listed there. I used to keep track of the books we read as a family and then post them on the blog, but I stopped. I like knowing the list. It is sort of like looking at the map of a journey we’ve taken. So I’m going to start documenting our reading again.
            • Finish summarizing Charlotte Mason’s Volume 3: School Education. This might have to wait until summer, but I’d like to finish it up. This has been truly helpful to be in my teaching.

            Kitchen Goals

            • Perfect sourdough skills and finish sourdough class. This is something I started working on last year, but I thought I’d put it on the list anyhow, seeing as it is a big focus for me right now. I am almost ready to post photos of my perfect sourdough sandwich bread. After not eating bread for years, we are really enjoying this sourdough journey.
            • Learn to ferment vegetables. I bought some supplies for this last year, made one attempt, and grew mold. I still have enough supplies to make seven more attempts, and one of my goals is to do it. My husband is of German descent, and we shall have sauerkraut before year’s end, if at all possible!
            • Learn to make clam chowder. I make a great fish chowder, but it is the red, Manhattan-style chowder. I want to make a Californian white chowder full of clams.
            • Focus on nutrient density. Last year, I did this also, mainly by incorporated healthy fats like butter, expeller-pressed coconut oil, and grassfed beef tallow into my cooking. About halfway through the year, I found an inexpensive source of wildcaught fish, and added that as well. This year, I’d like to learn to cook shellfish once or twice per month (in addition to the vegetable fermentation once per month). I’d also like to find recipes for preparing organ meats that don’t disgust my children. So far, I have found that adding heart to my soups passes this test.

            Health Goals

            • Get more sleep. At the end of the year, I was doing well about going to bed on time. Then, during Advent and Christmas, there was so much to do that I started staying up late again. I am going to need to retrain my body for the early-to-bed, early-to-rise cycle that I’m aiming for.
            • Build a healthy snacks rotation. Um. Something more than cheese and apples is what I’m aiming for. I have some pumpkin seeds I’m going to brine and roast, so that is a start. I don’t mind doing cheese and fruit for the most part, especially as more and more of that fruit is coming from our orchard. But I’d like to incorporate a greater variety of nutrient-dense foods into the day.
            • Buy a lightbox or sunlight lamp. I am looking at this Executive Sunlight Desk Lamp. I know that I need more vitamin D than I’m getting, and this lamp costs a little more than a one-month supply of high-quality supplements. I am still looking around a little, but I hope to have a lamp to use each morning by the end of the month.

            Home, General Life, and Microhomestead Goals

            • Focus on the master bedroom. This will work fine, as long as I don’t get distracted by my living room. We bought a bed when we first married, but other than that we have acquired children rather than furniture. With all the foreclosures in our area, though, I think it is time to shop for (used) bedroom furniture. We have been using the set from my childhood for almost ten years, and it doesn’t fit our room in this house like it has in the other houses. We need a dresser that is less wide, but nightstands that are taller. I am praying for a miracle. I’d also like to add drapes.
            • Make window covering for play nook. The only reason this isn’t done is Procrastination and Fear. I even own all the supplies to make it.
            • Paint with the children weekly. It would make them so happy, and now I even have a vinyl tablecloth to protect my table.
            • Enroll all 4 children in swimming lessons in March. Let’s hear it for Christmas money!!
            • Organize girls’ desk/craft supplies. They received Christmas money specifically for the purpose of buying organizers, so we just need to decide what is needed and make a shopping trip.
            • Research the raising of meat rabbits. This is something we are toying with introducing into the microhomestead. We think we can pasture rabbits for very minimal cost in our backyard. We just have a lot to learn, and we also have to decide if, at the end of the day, we are willing to eat something so adorable.
            • Replace the two dead trees in the orchard. This also requires me to decide what to replace them with. I know that I want to replace the almond with another almond, but I am ambivalent about the pear tree.

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          • Reply Kimbrah January 26, 2011 at 1:11 am

            You caught me! I have barely been online lately (a very good thing!) so I catch up when I can. πŸ™‚

          • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 23, 2011 at 1:41 am

            Kimbrah, Catching up on your reading, dahling? πŸ™‚ I am so glad to know you have experience! I am sure we will drill you for your wisdom before we really get going. πŸ™‚

          • Reply Kimbrah January 21, 2011 at 1:08 am

            Brandi- I raised rabbits in high school for show. I could probably give you some tips if you would like. I need to make a list like this. You can do it! I believe in you! πŸ™‚

          • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

            Heather, from one recovering Dispensationalist to another: welcome! πŸ™‚

            Dawn, You will have to let me know what you think! It is assigned reading for Ambleside in the later years, so we picked it up at a garage sale this summer. At this point, I only plan on reading the sections pertinent to my own ignorance. πŸ™‚

            Jen, I was going to ask you: do you know anyone around town raising meat rabbits? I am interested in discussing with someone who knows about them, plus if we decide to acquire some, it’d be nice to have some bred in our area so they better tolerate the summer heat. Let me know! Thanks!

          • Reply Jennifer January 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm

            You go, girl! Those are some lofty goals, but so worthwhile. And if anyone can do it, you can! Love you.

          • Reply dawn January 7, 2011 at 12:08 am

            Oh, yeah. I should put How To Read a Book on my list. I read about half of it several years (and two children) ago …

          • Reply Heather January 7, 2011 at 12:03 am

            I’m relatively new to your blog and found the recovering Dispensational comment amusing. I can relate. Anyways just wanted to pop in and say Hello and I’m enjoying your posts.

          • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

            You girls just reminded me that I actually own Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book. I should probably start by reading the pertinent chapters of that book.

            I have never read the Through New Eyes commentaries, but I admit I got a bad taste in my mouth from James Jordan’s Creation in Six Days. However, we really liked Leithart’s The Baptized Body, and Si gave me Solomon Among the Postmoderns for Christmas, so I suppose I’m going with the theme. Plus, I won’t let my irritation with Jordan ruin a whole series for me! πŸ™‚

            I have never heard of Pink Monkey, but I will definitely check them out…

            On bedrooms: I am seriously considering just buying furniture that fits, and then painting all of it gray or black or brown or something. This also solves the issue of buying used furniture that doesn’t match…

          • Reply Mystie January 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm

            Good for you for taking a big step like this.

            We decided we’ll collect the “Through New Eyes” commentary books as they come out. I loved the Ecclesiastes book, only glanced through the Hebrews book, and haven’t cracked open the John one yet. But I also *love* all Leithart’s literature commentaries, so I have high hopes. πŸ™‚

            I love your idea of journalling the promises and if/then statements of the Bible! Future Grace is in my to-read pile for the year, and I’m just beginning with reading through the Bible; I think I will try to do the same!

            SWB’s literature guide has a great, short intro to “how to read literature.” If you don’t want to find commentary books (I recommend all Leithart’s, and also is free and straightforward), SWB’s book can be a good guide to what to look for as you read anything. Perhaps you could just borrow it for a short time from someone.

            I have incorporated being in front of my light with my early morning devotional time, and I love it!

            Redoing the master bedroom is actually a project I have for this year, also, but I couldn’t put it on my blog because I plan to do it as a 10th anniversary surprise in July. πŸ™‚ It won’t include furniture, I don’t think, unless a dresser-miracle happens, but it will involve paint and curtains and a new bedspread and a faux headboard (we just have a mattress and boxspring on a stand)….and I would like something for the walls, but I can’t decide what yet. πŸ™‚ I am hoping to turn it into a cohesive, nice room rather than a bare, functional, cobbled-together mishmash as we have always had. Instead, I’m going for pulled-together mishmash. πŸ™‚

          • Reply dawn January 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

            I used the Ruth/Esther book from this series and thought it was great. Maybe there’s something you’d be interested in.

            Susan Wise Bauer recommends Pink Monkey commentaries to her students and adults for literature. Leithart’s book Miniatures and Morals is *great* for seeing Christian themes in Jane Austen’s books. It is amazing. I have the Shakespeare book too, but am not familiar with Shakespeare like I am with Austen.

            I like your book list! You should try

            Looks like some busyness in your life for the year πŸ™‚

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