February 29, 2012

Bread for the Family

This year I am trying to make all the bread we eat at home, as indicated by the 2012 New Year's resolutions. Our family eats a fair bit of bread. For breakfast I eat a slice or two, topped with a big pile of sprouts, Becky has a slice or two, and Millie and Violet each have a slice. Sometimes sandwiches get made for lunchtime. So all in we usually had eaten about 2+ loaves a week of store bread, plus some homemade bread.

Based on consumption in the year so far, we go through two 1.4kg homemade loaves a week, which will be in the 100-120 loaves range for the year, which would total around 140+ kg of bread range (over 300 lbs). This will represent around 85kg (187lbs) of flour. At typical yields, this would require around 4300 ft^2 area planted with wheat. Not that much actually. Hmm... should we plant wheat in the back yard??

February 10, 2012

Sewing with a treadle sewing machine

Why bother?

Vintage machines are generally cheap, reliable, oftentimes repairable and serviceable by the user, and can stand up well to years of heavy use. The ones still around in good shape have proven themselves worthy in a Darwinian sense. I would be surprised if a $1500 machine bought new today and packed with plastic and electronics is still around and useable 100 years from now.

A treadled machine specifically will be quiet to use, doesn't need a cord to the wall, and will work even if the power goes out. I also get more of a sense of control over the stitching with the treadle machine. My WW9 has a large, heavy balance wheel that makes stitching with hand power in tricky spots convenient and enjoyable.

February 9, 2012

A Treadle Machine finds a new Home

Wheeler & Wilson No. 9

Looking forward to starting my new life free from commercial clothing vendors, I began cruising craigslist and ebay for a suitable treadle table to house my newly acquired Necchi BU Nova. Becky and I agreed that a good looking treadle table would be best located in the dining room, where we could use is as a little sideboard or side table to put flowers when it is closed up. As you might expect, there were plenty of options on craigslist for cheap, but I was picky and wanted something that looked (or could look) great, was in reasonable shape and so wouldn't need a ton of work, and also not too big in size.

So I bought this Wheeler and Wilson No. 9 from a guy in Salem, who was kind enough to deliver it for an extra fee.

February 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

1) No buying of clothes for the whole year
This includes socks, underwear, and shoes. Whatever we need, we will sew ourselves, preferably from fabric already in my stash. I thought this would be more exciting if we got rid of our electric machines and moved to exclusive use of an antique treadle machine or hand work. So my mom is going to become custodian of Becky's mom's nice 80's vintage Kenmore sewing machine, which I've been sewing on for the past 11 years, and a friend of Becky's will get my serger. In reality, this is less kooky than it sounds because we all have enough clothes to last a year sitting in our drawers. Plus our kids get a lot of second or third hand clothes from their cousins, which is still fair game under this system. But I want to take the opportunity to ramp up the amount of sewing done in the house, and simultaneously up the quality of sewing work done and start dressing better. Sounding a little like wishful thinking at this point, but we'll see how it goes!

2) Bake all our own bread
We eat something like 6-8 loaves a month. I bake the equivalent of ~4 normally, so upping the baking shouldn't be too hard. The trick will be in making whole grain bread my family is willing to eat, and managing the schedule so that we always have bread but it doesn't sit around long enough to get stale or moldy.

3) Cut back on spending and consuming
Try to only bring ingredients or raw materials when possible. When contemplating a purchase, ask whether we really need that thing or not. Can it be had used instead of new? If it is a replacement, can the old one be fixed instead of replaced?