One of my personal goals is be increasingly self-sufficient. My love of gardening is more than growing my own organic produce, but also a source of food that is not heavily dependent on petroleum. This year, I discovered I like making freezer jam for my own consumption and to give as gifts. While I do use a bread machine, I love my loaves of honey wheat bread produced on demand. Each of these things brings me closer to my ideal of food self-sufficiency.
In fact, one of my friends asked how much a loaf of my honey wheat bread costs me. Using my most recent prices (September-October 2008), I calculated the ingredient costs to be $0.80 for a 1 pound loaf. That is certainly less than most purchased loaves and freshly baked with near instant gratification (well, after 3 hours with my bread machine).
However, my independent streak does affect my bottom line and involves more than food. In my efforts at self-sufficiency, I have taken on replacing a headlight on my car. Removing the burned-out bulb as not as easy as I thought, but I felt quite accomplished to have replaced the bulb myself. While having someone else change the bulb would have reduced my frustration, having successfully completed the task myself means I saved some money (only the cost of the bulb and not of labor) and gained some pride in a new skill.
I have many projects on my long list of good intentions. Being a homeowner of a 30+ year old home that had been rented for a time, I have replaced damaged standard standard outlets in the house. However, I also installed a GFCI outlet in the garage since it is a place that gets wet (both rain and melted snow). Again, just the cost of the outlet (~$15) and my time for a new undamaged GFCI outlet I can use.
To add to my growing space around the suburban lot, I scavenged wood boards, had my dad cut some of them to length and screwed them all together to construct three raised garden beds for another 80 square feet of growing space in 2009. I plan on growing another fruit (a bed of black raspberries) and expanding the number of vegetable crops I can grow
I have much to learn and do including repairing outdoor electrical extension cords. (My dad fixed my not-so-little oopsie with the extension cord.) I just purchased a greenhouse to get a jump start on my garden for 2009, a definite learning experience, and Christmas gave me a food mill to nearly complete my own water-bath canning setup (just lacking a jar holder).
I am excited about all that I can accomplish as well as what I can add to my skill set. Figuring out what I can do myself and being able to build something useful or grow something for future consumption means I am that much closer to being self-sufficient. And I like the satisfaction I feel about completing such endeavors.