First post and a 13 skills update:

So finally getting a post out on here, I bet you all are starting to get sick of Mike doing all of the rambling right?  Ha, just kidding, anyways he is such a talker and is taking most of the photos so I guess that is how it goes.  To kick off from all of his posts on the 13 skills challenge, I thought it was high time that I put up my progress so far as well (though I sadly admit that I am not as far along in tackling them all).

1.)    Canning:


One of the boxes of jam that have been put up with those three in the front are gifts from family.

So for all intents and purposes, this is definitely completed.  I went from pretty much having no knowledge, just a little watching over my Dad’s shoulder as he whipped up many tasties from tomato sauce to jam.  Which as a side note, always gave me a chuckle since he is an Italian flannel wearing type of guy who you wouldn’t picture being a perfect little homemaker as he makes delicious jams and things.

Anyways, so I started out making marmalades for the family last Christmas time since our lovely realtor and friend gave us a bunch of organic lemons and oranges from her trees.  I specifically made:

Lemon Vanilla Jam from Canning Across America and Orange Pomegranate Marmalade from SBcanning.  The next step was to finally put our new All American Pressure Canner to use (which I will write a canning post and talk about it in detail).  I canned poultry stock (turkey and chicken) which turned out great.  It finally got me over my fears that I was going to screw it up, it turns out pressure canning really isn’t that hard.  Though it is hard when you lose the pressure regulator weight while moving like I did, made me a sad panda… Anyways since then I have made many jars and varieties of blackberry jam (dewberries from down near Venice at the end of the Mississippi river delta), blackberry pie filling, blueberry jam, chicken soup, ham and bean soup, shrimp stock, and many rounds of chicken stock.  So wow, didn’t realize that I have done so much until I wrote it all down.

Here are some of the many soups and stocks put up for the winter and general need.

Here are some of the many soups and stocks put up for the winter and general need.

Oh wait, did I mention I also made pickles, okra pickles, and jalapeno pickles?  Anyways, yeah I completed this one.  Next step this weekend is to pickle all of the peppers we picked to get ready for this tropical storm heading our way in anticipation of the pepper plants getting battered around.

2.)    Driving:

So driving sounds like an odd skill to have put down here, since I have technically been driving since 15 (even though someone likes to point out that I didn’t have a car until I left college…).  Well I have finally learned out to drive manual, it was long overdue.  When we got our truck, we traded in my crappy Honda Accord, that ok I will admit gave me a couple good years and I did enjoy it when it was acting normal and not scaring me (it wouldn’t like to shift into 2nd when it was cold, which Kansas winters are quite cold).  So anyways, I had to learn manual since Mike’s car is a manual.  I should really say it is my car now, since I use it every day to go to work (30 min. drive).  It was a rough start learning to drive stick, but oddly enough, it seemed like that I went from one day being scared and not inherently knowing what to do, to losing that I knowing how to drive manual.  Very odd, it was like when you all of a sudden knew how to type from before just picking and poking at the keys.

3.)    Fiber arts:

This is sort of a work in progress.  I finally feel comfortable using my sewing machine after having made some hot pot mit holders and pot handle holders as well as repairing and tailoring pants.

Here is our 12" cast iron pan with homemade pot handle holders keeping our hands burn free.  Still need to make one for the 10" also in this picture.

Here is our 12″ cast iron pan with homemade pot handle holders keeping our hands burn free. Still need to make one for the 10″ also in this picture.

Mr. Jazz looking particularly fuzzy (he needs a haircut) and slightly guilty.

Mr. Jazz looking particularly fuzzy (he needs a haircut) and slightly guilty.

Also had an interesting time repairing Jazz’s dog bed after he tore the whole bottom out of it, with very big patch from my old pair of corduroy pants that finally kicked the bucket.  Next step with this skill is I would like to make a skirt, curtains, and a Christmas tree tree-skirt.  I am not sure if I will get to all of those before the end of the year.

4.)    Cooking:

I had specifically mentioned “to cook with a solar cooker, pressure cooker, and gluten free cooking.”.  So far, I have used our pressure cooker (made stock and soup) and have been almost exclusively been baking gluten free using Jeanne’s gluten free flour mix from The Art of Gluten Free Baking.  Unfortunately, we still don’t have a solar cooker and I am not sure we will get one/make one by the end of the year.  So I am a little disappointed in that, however, I have started a meal plan sort of thing to get more organized with cooking.  That so far has turned out to be pretty useful and is a work in progress.

5.)    Money Management:

So with this one, I had wanted to set a budget and have a forward plan for savings, retirement, etc, etc.  I will be the first one to admit that I personally haven’t done this; however, I have contracted out Mike on this one haha.  He has done an amazing job getting that all squared away by writing many programs on that.  I have helped for sure, but I am not claiming credit.  So this one is partially completed.

6.)    Gardening:

Again, here is another skill where Mike has done most of the work and I have been more of the “sous chef” equivalent of the garden help.  I have certainly learned a ton on this one, I thought I had learned things from my dad, but it always is different when you finally apply it.  I also did get certified at Ben Falk’s PDC so I am going to call this one sorta completed as well.

7.)    Firearms:

This is a work in progress skill as well.  We have gone to the range a few times so I do feel a bit more comfortable with what we have.  I think we need to work on this the rest of year though and I would like to take some classes as well.

8.)    9.) Candle and Soap making:

These two I have completely not done anything with other than research what I would like to do.  I am not sure if I will get to these skills this year with all of the gardening and preserving we need to do this year.  I have made some powered laundry soap from Jillee’s blog which has worked very well.  I have not used it for my nice clothes, but towels and Mike’s clothes works great 😀 .  However making soap from scratch has not happened yet.  I think these skills will be second fiddle to a lot of the other skills on this list.

10.) Computer skills:

I hate to admit this; I haven’t really learned very much programming at all yet.  I was planning on learning python programming, but I have not learned much yet.  (shhh, don’t tell Mike…).  I have become very comfortable with Linux though, I use it at home as my main OS and also it is one of the main systems I use at work.  So this is a partial completion for this skill.

11.) Dehydrating:

Here is another skill that I have started, but have not done too much with yet.  I have tried to dry peppers and yellow squash in our car out in the sun (which I have heard good things about how well that can dehydrate veggies) but did not have very good luck with it.  I think I need to try it again on a less humid day.  We are planning on getting a dehydrator which I can quite excited about.

12.)  13.)  Knitting and crocheting:

So far I have not advanced either of these skills so far.  I have made scarves and a hat previously using knit and purl and have started a baby blanket for Karen (which her adorable baby is now 1 and 3 months so you can guess what happened with that blanket).  I am planning on learning to crochet by making a hat for myself this fall and we will see where I go from there.


So far I would give myself a 6/10 on completing and advancing forward these 13 skills.  I certainly feel that I have work to do with the list; however, I certainly have learned quite a bit so far this year.  I will keep you guys updated whether you like it or not later in the year haha.

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