* It’s very early in the morning, on the last day of the year. I’m up before the chickens (which I don’t have–double whammy of city and HOA rules) so that I could have a quiet moment with you before the family wakes up (let’s give one more shout-out to the pajama chicken). It’s the last week of Kudzu’s Must-Do 52 enewsletter. It tells me to check my washer, stock up on the firewood pile, and “winterize” my outdoor plants and shrubs (although our unseasonably warm weather this year has turned “brrrr” into bounty in my winter vegetable garden). But really, there is only one thing I truly need to do today, and that is to say goodbye to you. This year-old daily blog is ending, and I am moving on. You can follow me on my personal blogs, FoodShed Planet and Sustainable Pattie, or on twitter @pattiebaker. Small biz owners–you may find some of the 101 Marketing Ideas with Pattie Baker helpful (that was a business-to-business blog I wrote for Kudzu prior to this one). Thank you to Kudzu and Cox Enterprises (Kudzu’s parent company) for this opportunity, and to all of you who have shared this journey with me. A very special thanks, of course, to my family, who have literally “lived” this blog.
* Gosh, remember when we started? I was a different person then (or at least my house was). Faucet leaks. Wood rot. No ceiling fans and no screen door. Things have changed. Repairs have been made (well, not the doorbell yet–sorry to my friend who stood out there for ages with his famous white chocolate mousse holiday gift recently). Items have been knocked off my to-do list. And most importantly, I’ve finally accepted the blatantly obvious fact that yes, indeed, I am now a grown-up and it is time to stop being in denial about things like regular home maintenance and repair. I’ve also figured out that I actually do have my own personal style tastes, which run toward some freaky combo of “reclaimed barn” and “ultra-modern” (with lots and lots of color), and that perhaps my dream home would actually be a restored carriage house down a cobble-stoned lane in New York City (I started following Brooklyn Heights open house alerts and subscribed to Edible Brooklyn somewhere around July, even though I live in metro Atlanta) or the HGTV Green Home 2012 in nearby Serenbe–it is being billed as a “farmhouse with a modern twist.” (Sign me up!)
* I tried to showcase a wide range of lifestyles, from “traditional families” to the sandwich generation to empty nesters to those coming up with their own solutions to a tough economy and changing needs. I threw in the “dream stuff”–the gourmet kitchens, home spas and theaters, and enviable basements and backyards–with even a celebrity stop or two: see Oprah’s house here, and Things Are Looking Rosie (Plus How to Find Real Star Power Right Where You Live). But I also stressed how much a can of paint can transform a room, how clearing out clutter and loving what you have can change a point of view, or how hanging a simple hammock can make you feel suddenly rich.
* And mostly, I “leaned green.” If it was reclaimed, reused, recycled, or repurposed, it caught my attention, even that darn recycled street sign chair that, let’s admit it, is probably not all that comfortable, but yes, I still love it (here is a picture of a whole dining room set of them, including the table). Non-toxic solutions, from no-or-low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to organic gardening just plain fit with my feelings as a mom trying to build a healthy bridge to the next generation. I even gave you some tips for getting involved beyond your home to create healthier communities–see (1) Embrace What May Be a Better Way to Live at Home and in Your Community, (2) The State of Growing Local Food in Cities around the Country–and in Your Backyard, and (3) Make Your Home Easily Livable and Endless Lovable (and Give a Gift to the Street–because, frankly, we’re all connected (and I believe that’s part of being neighborly). But, granted, even all that had its limits as my budget doesn’t always allow me to make what I think is the best choice (that darn water heater purchase comes to mind). (Let’s face it–we’re doing our best.) If you’re interested in more tips and stories about a mom’s journey to live more sustainably (or just grow a fresh vegetable or two), you may be interested in my book.
* My favorite post of the last 12 months on this blog, however, was this one: A Lesson from Steve Jobs. I received the new book about Steve Jobs as a gift this holiday season, and I am finding his story to be particularly inspiring as I set off on a new phase of my own journey.
* Maybe one day I’ll have solar panels on my south-facing roof, or reclaimed wood floors on the old linoleum in the kitchen, or packed boxes ready to go to Brooklyn after the girls are grown and gone. But for now, we live here. We live here. In all its mess and imperfection. In all its need of repair and renovation. In all its glory, which became clear to me just this week when we returned home from a stay at a log cabin in the mountains (pictured) and smiles broke across all our faces as we rounded the corner and we saw what we had left behind just a few days earlier. Home.
And so, I will keep tapping into Kudzu for local service pros who can help me get my to-do list done and get on with my life (after working at a computer all day as a professional writer, I like to get outside and garden, as pictured here at a nearby park), and who can help me keep dollars circulating in my local economy (now, that’s sustainability). And now, a new year dawns.