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McDonald’s and Costco – making good chicken decisions?

It’s hard for me to ever find anything good to say about McDonald’s.

I’ll qualify that by saying that I worked there for almost 5 years, during the end of high school and through college. I have a lot of pride for the work that I did there with my other ‘crewmates’ – we worked very hard for very little money. And compared to any other work environment I’ve been in my whole life, the sense of teamwork was the strongest. In a job that is often truly disgusting (oh the tales of what you find in the bathrooms and Play Place) and often exposes you to the worst of humanity’s selfishness and rudeness, it was an important and formative experience in my life to work there.

There was a time when I could spot a Golden Arches a mile away, like a homing beacon, calling me to those familiar smells and beeps of machines. And the fries? Don’t even get me started on my love for their fries.

But I haven’t stepped foot in a McDonald’s in more than three years. Or any other similar fast food restaurant. I have previously written about why I gave up fast food, but in a nutshell, it’s because I can’t find anything redeeming about the food or the sourcing of it, and I won’t buy even water there so that I don’t support their horrible labor practices and predatory marketing. (While I loved my fellow co-workers, we were routinely cheated of overtime and labor laws were ignored, all while we were making virtually nothing.) So let’s say I haven’t had anything positive to say about the company, well, ever.

But last week, McDonald’s announced that it will move away from using chickens raised with human antibiotics as well as milk that’s free of rBST (an artificial growth hormone). And a few days later, Costco, a company I look much more favorably upon, announced something similar.

Let’s start with the positives. I am never going to fault a company for moving away from using antibiotics to promote growth in their animals. Animals should never be raised in conditions where infection rates are so high that they need them to promote growth in the first place. So there’s the animal welfare side, but more importantly with this particular issue, public health is at stake. The CDC has repeatedly said that overuse of antibiotics is a major public health threat, and thousands of people die each year from antibiotic resistant infections. We are closer than we think to a situation where common antibiotics are no longer effective, so that a simple cut could be life threatening.

This is a good decision for public health, personal health and animal welfare. I was happy when Purdue announced it was moving to be antibiotic free in its hatcheries as well as later for growth. It means that they have to improve conditions for their birds to prevent disease from killing off the flocks – and they are a huge chicken producer in this country.


And there’s always a but, right?

I’m wary of a statement or press release that doesn’t specifically call out the antibiotics that will not be used and instead uses terms like “antibiotics that are important to human medicine.” What does that mean? Who decides which ones are important to human medicine? A doctor who is on their payroll? You know the press release was very carefully crafted, particularly when discussing the milk issue (because law requires that anyone making a claim about rBST-free milk state that no difference has been found between milk with or without).

I really think that both Costco and McDonald’s know that the public is becoming more conscious of these issues. And this is a money-driven decision, especially for McDonald’s who is seeing its sales drop significantly. But that’s exactly why I’m wary of these decisions. All too often, labels end up like marketing terms (see “natural”) and they don’t have teeth behind them. I’m interested to see how both companies market this information on packaging and in advertising. Costco already sells a lot of organic and natural foods, so I’m glad to see them moving in that direction with meat. But how will both companies work with suppliers to really change the game?

For-profit companies will always have the bottom line as their first priority. Public health is a secondary concern – and one that can work to their advantage when it comes to public opinion and beliefs about health. (Was the McLean really a health food? I mean, seriously?)

So will these decisions cause me to start eating at McDonald’s or buy meat at Costco? No.

But I am happy to see them take a baby step in the right direction. Gives me something to keep my eye on. And when a mountain gets moved, it only takes one baby step to get the whole thing started.

winter north park

last week at next gen house

It takes me longer than the average bear to recover from long, busy weekends. So this past week was spent generally trying to get my bearings and get things back into a routine. That and actually trying to clean my house.


Last Week in Running

Mileage went up to 23 this week, my fifth in training for the Pittsburgh Half. It was also my fifth week of running 5 days each week. Which means my calves are the size of those giant turkey legs you see at state fairs, and they are pretty much tight all the time. I did my first hill repeats with Elite on Tuesday night for a total of four miles, and I thought it went well, though I was pretty cold. But I didn’t actually know what running in the cold was until I went out on Saturday to the group run at North Park. Six degrees with a “feels like” -3. And wind. I realized that gear is what makes the difference, because the parts of me wearing good gear, like my hands, ears, torso, feet? Nice and warm, once we got moving. But my butt and legs were another story, since I’ve been wearing Walmart tights all winter (after having found ones marked petite this year). And let’s just say they are not for arctic temps, because the wind went right through and it was for the first time, actually painfully uncomfortable. So this weekend I tried to buy new winter running tights from a company that sells them. And the only company I could find with available petite length tights was Athleta. And they were $86. (Hey other companies. Don’t be telling me that your tights are “short” when I see a 32″ inseam, get out of here with that. Under Armour and the North Face in particular should be ashamed that they don’t carry even ONE line of tights for an under 30″ inseam. Let’s just say they will be hearing from me about this.)

OK, rant over. It was nasty cold and I did 8.4 miles. With ice in my eyebrows. For real.

IMG_20150131_095307 I keep trying to tell myself that these cold temps and nasty conditions will fade into spring eventually. And that it’s weeks like these that produce the PR, the good race, the great feeling. So I keep going.

Last Week in Eating

I barely remember what we cooked last week, which probably means that none of it was particularly remarkable. This week is another crazy one, with one or both of us gone a lot of the evenings. So it will be more easy stuff – salads and chilis and penne with defrosted tomato sauce – and nothing remarkable. But it doesn’t need to be. Even people who are crazy about food, like me, need weeks where the meals aren’t photo worthy and they mostly just do the job. To me, when the weather is nasty and work is crazy and your life is busy, just making the time to cook at home is enough.

Last Week in Homesteading

I mentioned that I tried to actually clean my house this week. Which is about as much homesteading as I got done (though thanks to Deanna for the tip on the lights around the kombucha – going to see if that helps it maintain temp).

But can I just say something about house cleaning? Just like every other facet of modern life, there are blogs and books and Pinterest boards a plenty about how to keep your house sparkling and organized, as if giving me a 30 day challenge or a fun printable can just miraculously help me get this done. I would like to see a realistic cleaning list entitled “The Minimum #$%^ You Must Do to Not Qualify as Foul.” That is what I spent a lot of time this weekend doing, and that is the free printable that I would like to see next.

Last Week in Reading

I am about 20 minutes from finishing the third Dresden Files book on audio, so by the time I get to work, that will be finished and I will have started the third book in the Lunar Chronicles. I really need to stop reading books that are first in a series of 5,000.

I’m also reading a book called The Chain, which is about the meat industry, but not from the perspective of health or animal rights, but from the workers on the line at meat packing plants. I am about 100 pages in and will officially not be complaining about my job this week, let’s just say that. Review coming when I’m done.

Last Week in Randomness

Shout out to 1 of 4*, our remaining black austraulorp, for laying 3 eggs this week, when she hasn’t laid in months. Go get it, girl.

How was your week?


*Oops. Original post got the name of the chicken mixed up. It was 5 a.m. What can I say?

2014 resolutions – how did I do?

We’re finally to the last day of 2014.

Before I can finalize my goals for 2015, I need to check back in on 2014 and see how it went. You can see the other goal posts for 2014 here: January, AprilJuly and October.

Here’s how I did!


Read 75 books.

Knocked this one out of the park. As of right now, I’ve completed 99 books. There is a high likelihood that if I get to take a lunch break today, I’ll hit 100. I didn’t anticipate blowing this goal so far out of the water, but I shouldn’t be surprised. Reading is like plugging myself into the Joanna charger. I only feel like me when I have a chance to read every day, even if it’s only 5 pages. I read some truly great books this year, which is a post unto itself. I didn’t finish the two sub-goals of finishing Atwood’s canon and reading a Russian doorstop, so I am considering whether or not those are still goals for 2015.

Write letters on three issues to my elected representatives.
I wrote one in April on the DARK Act, and I wrote again in the fall regarding funding for food assistance. But I didn’t hit the third letter. Fall was a very busy time for us – the craziest of the year – so my ability to read up on the current food issues was somewhat limited.

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Run a marathon.

Done. Boom.

Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
This has been pretty close, so I’m calling it a win. I am trying to turn to water when I want coffee in the afternoon at my desk and I’ve done that more often than I’ve given in, so that’s a win too.


Start my home brew kombucha.
Finished this one earlier in the year, though I need to get a better restart going. I tried to do one after the marathon was over, but the room wasn’t warm enough to inhibit mold growth. So I think I’ve found a warmer spot and will try again soon. This will be ongoing.

Sew a t-shirt quilt.
Did this. And also sewed this Star Trek Quiet Bookt-shirt blanket resize

Can one new thing.
We made one new variant of jam this year, but mostly we canned the usual.
Plant a bee-friendly flower garden.
I didn’t do as well with this one as I would have liked, but most of my flowers stayed alive all season, so that’s huge progress for me.
Make the chickens some treats.
Done. With two days to spare!

Organize the basement.
I did this. And then it creeped back to cluttered, and now it’s a mess again. I think when we put away the Christmas decorations, I’ll take that opportunity to work on it again. We’ve given over the larger room to Mark’s work space, so I need to make the best use possible of the remaining space. Definitely an ongoing challenge.

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chicken treat wreath

We haven’t had much of a harsh winter yet, with pretty mild temperatures through December. But I’ve been wanting to make the chickens a treat for their coop for awhile, and finally did that this week.

I used a recipe from a book called Fresh Eggs Daily, which I picked up last year for Mark. It’s by chicken blogger Lisa Steele and published by our friends at St. Lynn’s Press, a great independent, sustainable and eco-friendly publisher in Pittsburgh.

chicken wreath collage


This is a great book to have if you have chickens – we have used it multiple times as a reference when we have questions about one of the ladies. So I thought it would be a good source for a treat recipe. When I saw this cranberry wreath, I figured that was the one I should make, considering we had extra cranberries to use up in the freezer.

You first dissolve some gelatin in cool water, and then mix it with some boiling. Straight gelatin is kind of gross. Just saying.


The basic ingredients of the wreath can vary. I used oats, scratch, some general feed grains, sunflower seeds and raisins.

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I then liquefied some bacon fat we had been saving up for this purpose and mixed it with the grains and gelatin mixture.

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The cranberries get added to the bottom of the bundt pan. I didn’t do a good job of arranging them – the chickens aren’t art critics, as far as I know.

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In went the grains on top, and then the whole thing went into the fridge for the night.

And then, it popped out looking like this.

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Two things. I don’t like that the grease pooled at the bottom, so I think next time I will go easier on that. Also not sure if I was supposed to measure the cup of grease from solid state or liquid state, and that could have made a difference.

I would also use a different pan next time – one that is wider and less deep. This seems pretty thick, now that it’s out of the pan. I finished it after the chickens had “gone to bed” for the night and it was too dark to take it out to hang. But I think the two of them will be occupied with this for awhile. Maybe one of them will actually give us an egg in thanks!


*I was not paid or perked to talk about Fresh Eggs Daily. It’s just a good, useful book that’s published by a great, local company. So if you have chickens, you should pick it up because I said so.


losing our second chicken

I was just getting home last night, frustrated by bad traffic on my way home. As I bustled up the sidewalk from our garage, I glanced over at the chicken coop and said “hey chickadees!” like I do every day. But today, I stopped in my tracks. Sambelu, one of our Americauna hens, was laying in the run, dead. 

I ran to get Mark, but I knew there wasn’t anything we could do. With no marks at all on her body, no broken neck and the fact that she was inside the run and our yard is fenced, we knew it was likely not an animal that killed her. 

Knowing that the remaining two hens were running around the yard just fine and they all ate and drank the same feed and water and garden treats, we doubted that she was poisoned in some way. We quickly did some research to try to figure out what happened. We think that she was egg-bound, where an egg was trapped in her oviduct. Sadly, this is a fatal condition if not treated right away. Either that or she had a heart attack or some sudden onset problem.

Because we never knew she had an issue until she was gone. On Sunday, she was out running around with the others like usual while we picked in the garden. She came out and ate fine with the others in the morning. But we are at work during the day and can’t watch them for those hours. We made the choice to let them free range while we weren’t there because they love it, it’s good for them and it’s a risk we’re willing to take. But I wish we could have known something was wrong to try to possibly help her. 

We buried her under the chickens’ favorite bush. She was one of our chickens that was featured in Edible Allegheny when Next Gen House was part of Online Dish last year. (She’s the brown lady on the right.) 

We will likely get more chickens, now that we are down to two. We need to do some research on how to introduce more into an existing group, but we know that they are social, and we don’t want to risk one of them being alone if the other dies. 

I love her beak open in this photo, like she’s being fierce and laying down the law. Her name comes from our closest approximation of the Klingon name for chicken. So here’s hoping she’s in Sto’Vo’Kor, the Klingon afterlife. She had a fierce warrior face, after all.

2014 resolution update – July

This is the first year that I’ve made a concerted effort to work on actually completing my resolutions for the year. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t aim too high and made them realistic. Here’s an update on how I’m doing at the halfway point in the year.

Read 75 books.
Today I will finish book #46, so I’m well on my way to that goal. I do have to get the sub-goals in of finishing Margaret Atwood’s canon (6 more books) and one Russian door-stop novel. I’ve been reading a lot of books that are part of a series, so I end up going through the series and it delays my next choices. Even if I don’t hit the sub-goals, I will still read more this year than in any year since graduate school. I’m also reading in genres outside of my comfort zone, which is pretty cool. (I am a total graphic novel and comic convert.)

Write letters on three issues to my elected representatives.
I haven’t done another one since this post on the DARK Act. I need to get on that. I might write next about funding to reduce hunger.

Run a marathon.
I’m in my 8th week of a 23 week training schedule. (Most plans are 18 weeks, but I am drawing mine out due to previous injuries and lingering issues with my IT bands.) Last week’s long run was 13 miles, and it was the first time I ran that far when it wasn’t a race, and only my fourth time at that distance at all. It was quite honestly one of the most difficult runs I’ve ever had – humid and disgusting outside, dehydrated big time. Everything was screaming at me to stop, and even though I had to walk more than I had hoped, I finished. (Which was really only because of the two awesome ladies I run with.) 

It’s been good to be on a training schedule and to be following it. I’ve put in 246 miles so far this year and that number is about to go way up because it’s going to get hard soon – after the holiday weekend we bump up to 15 miles for a long run and I go into distance territory that my body has never traveled. It’s an adventure, this marathon training. Don’t forget, I’m posting photos on Instagram under the hashtag #yearofthemarathon in case you want to follow along on the adventure.

Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
I really need to kick this into high gear during this marathon training, because even though I do drink water constantly, I am always fighting being dehydrated in this weather. And I was doing some research this week that dehydration while running can also increase your heart rate, which is something I’m hyper sensitive to as an asthmatic.

Start my home brew kombucha.
Done and done. Completely knocked this one out of the park, and it might be the coolest thing I accomplished this year (unless I do complete the marathon, that is). Read about it here

Sew a t-shirt quilt.
Making slow progress on this one. I finished cutting all of the squares for my quilt this weekend. (I’m technically getting materials together for two, planning to start with my own quilt to get the hang of it before I do Mark’s.) Now it’s time to fire up my grandma’s sewing machine, which will hopefully happen in July.

Can one new thing.
Technically I’ve met this goal with our strawberry vanilla jam, a variant I hadn’t made before. But since I think the spirit of this was for me to do something entirely new, I won’t count this done yet. But it will be full on canning season in the next couple months.

Plant a bee-friendly flower garden.
Didn’t really get around to planting specifically bee-friendly plants, but we definitely have more flowers this year compared to last, which is at least a step in the right direction.

Make the chickens some treats.
I actually completely forgot about this one, so this is a good reminder. Perhaps because of the heat and humidity, I’ll make something that’s refreshing for them.

Organize the basement.
The basement has stayed relatively organized since we transitioned one side of it to a work area for Mark. I still have a few things I’d like to do down there, especially to get a root cellar ready for later this year. But it’s better than it used to be (at least when Stormy and Vader don’t knock food bowls all over the place).

How are you doing on your goals for 2014? Share them in the comments!


2014 resolution update

Usually by this time of year, the resolutions I made in January are like a distant, vague memory. But this year in a stunning turn of events, I’ve been staying on track. So seeing that we’re about one third of the way through the year, I thought I’d check in.

Read 75 books.
I just finished #23 this week, so I’m on track to meet my goal. I need to still pick up a Russian doorstop novel along the way, as well as several more Margaret Atwoods to finish her canon. But so far, so good. Man do I love to read! 

Write letters on three issues to my elected representatives.
I have one down, two more to go on this front. For my most recent letter, see this post on the DARK Act recently introduced in the House. Bad news.

Run a marathon.
Well, I’m in training. 
This Saturday marks my first race of the season – the Boston Trail half marathon (not in Boston). That’s followed up by my town’s 5K the following weekend, and then the Pittsburgh Marathon Half on May 4. Don’t forget there’s still time to donate to my fund for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank! Shameless plug! I’m only $5 away from $600!

Also, I’m posting photos on Instagram under the hashtag #yearofthemarathon in case you want to follow along on the adventure.

Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
Doing pretty well with this one, especially through the day at work. I also carry my water bottle around with me at home, and really it’s only after runs that I don’t do so well rehydrating. Going to keep working on that.

Start my home brew kombucha.
Fail. Still nervous. Will make it happen this summer though.

Sew a t-shirt quilt.
Making good progress on this one, especially since it’s something I have zero experience in. I have Mark’s shirts all prepped and ready with interfacing, and mine are almost complete. Then it’s time to get the sewing machine cranking! I’ve even had an apprentice. Isn’t he helpful?


Can one new thing.
Not quite into canning season yet, so this one will be a summer thing.

Plant a bee-friendly flower garden.
I recently did some research on bee-friendly plants that do well in our area, with info from the Penn State Extension. Look for a post about that in the near future!

Make the chickens some treats.
Winter has made me not want to go outside with them more than necessary, so probably once I’m in the backyard with them more often, I’ll be more inclined to start making some treats.

Organize the basement.
The basement has come light years from what it was. This is a pretty significant accomplishment, as it’s now a more usable space for both Mark and me. And we’ve kept it relatively in order!

How are you doing on your goals for 2014? Share them in the comments!

losing our first chicken

I came home from work and a five mile run last night to find Mark in the backyard still in his work clothes, having just got home after a hellish commute of his own. His first words to me were “a hawk killed one of the chickens.”

I hauled my bags in the house and came back out to find Ensign Rickey, one of our Black Australorps, dropped in one of our raised beds, her neck broken and feathers everywhere. (Ensign Rickey’s name is a Star Trek reference – our affectionate name for a generic redshirt.) Ensign Rickey was our best layer – a champion, even through this brutal winter. We even joked that we should let her retire in style since she was so dependable and was largely responsible for us even having any eggnog at Christmas at all. She was always the first to pump her legs across our yard when we’d walk onto the porch and yell TREAT!

Even though we don’t really look at the chickens as pets like we do our cats who live with us inside, the chickens are part of our family and we protect their lives and care for them like we do our pets. They are valuable to us and we make their lives as carefree and chicken-y as possible.

But the side effect of a free life outside of a cage is that sometimes predators show up. We’d actually never seen a hawk in Carnegie before, until Mark opened the back gate to find one sitting on the chicken coop, with Ensign Rickey on the ground and the others terrified and squacking behind our compost piles. If we lived in the country and could really have the chickens free range outside of a fenced in yard, we’d lose some to other ground predators. I know this. Animals die just like humans do, and thankfully we don’t think Ensign Rickey suffered too much. Mark walked into the yard and startled the hawk before it could go after one of the other hens.

It was dusk by the time I got home in the first place, so we got out the boots and shovels and dug into the frozen ground as it was getting dark, to make a place for her. We even said the gralloch prayer over the spot, a prayer of thanks for life that gives sustenance to others, as Ensign Rickey gave us eggs faithfully for the almost 3 years that we had her.

It was a sad evening. When I first laid eyes on her body, I cried. My first thought was that I hope she didn’t suffer. But it made me think that even if she did, the rest of her life was carefree and full of delicious scratch treats, digging for bugs in soft earth, chattering with her flock and pooping wherever she darn well pleased, with a warm and comfortable roost for cold evenings. 

Allow me to step on a soapbox here. What about all the other chickens that we use for eggs in this country, housed in horrid conditions, smashed into cages with broken legs and clipped beaks, unable to move, wallowing in their own waste, sick and dying? Just so we can have cheap eggs? No one cries for those birds when they die, and most people prefer it that way – because to turn your face away from the suffering of those animals allows you to buy eggs for $1/dozen and not worry about it. And that’s what it is – suffering. If you don’t believe me, watch this.

Consider finding a farmer near you that sells eggs – many farm stands and farmers markets sell them. Or consider your own backyard chickens. But think the next time you buy eggs about what we as a society are giving those birds for the gift of their eggs, a staple of many diets. Torturing another species in order to take something from them, giving nothing in return – not even compassion – isn’t right. Think about where you are sourcing your animal products. Not all eggs are the same. Ensign Rickey’s sure weren’t. 

backyard chickens in winter

If you live anywhere that sees the change of seasons, you’ve been having a rough winter. (Come to think of it, some people have had a rough winter who never see snow. I still feel bad for people in Atlanta sleeping in CVS.)

When we’ve had the polar vortex days and the heavy snow fall and the ice storms, a lot of people ask “how are the chickens handling the snow?” 

Well, in short, just fine.

(One of the black australorps, the laying champions of the world.) 

We went through a period in the late fall/early winter where molting and the reduction of the daylight hours made all four stop laying – we got only a few eggs over that time. This seemed to be happening to a lot of people this year.

Thankfully, one of our black australorps is a laying champion and she started up again, even during the short winter days. Both black australorps are back at it, and just recently we got our first green egg in months, from one of the americaunas.

As far as water, we use a heater system that Mark rigged up, which uses one of those holiday cookie tins with a light kit attached to the side. The light bulb warms the tin and keeps the water from freezing. We just use Chinese takeout containers for their water in the winter since they are easily refillable and seem to help the water stay in liquid form. 

However, they do like to knock it around from time to time, and one day this winter found me in my dress clothes on the way to work, crawling into the coop to recover it. 

Way to stick your face in her butt just as I snapped the photo, lady.

As far as snow, they aren’t big fans. We try to keep areas of the backyard shoveled so they can walk around a bit without being up to their beaks in snow. We usually have a path from the coop to the deck, where they like to hide for a wind break and to be close to the house, which gives off some warmth. Their feet are sensitive to cold, so they prefer to stay out of the snow, but I’ve seen tracks around, so I know they aren’t completely averse. 

Now ice? That’s another story. The ice storm we had recently had them going nuts, clucking away and making all kinds of noises because they were irritated that they couldn’t walk well. I had to bring hot water outside to de-ice their coop (and took a spill myself) to even get the door open, so when they realized that they couldn’t step outside and get any traction, they made an unholy racket.  

In the cold, they huddled together a lot and hung out under the deck to get a wind break. We give them extra scratch when it’s going to be a very cold night so they have food to be digesting while they roost. 

They’ll be happier when they can poop all over the yard and get back on top of the compost pile, but they’re doing fine. I think I’m more sick of the winter than they are. But who isn’t?

on resolutions

Happy New Year!

There’s something about January that brings a sense of new beginnings. Maybe it’s the breath of fresh air after the hubbub of the holidays, or the fact that we flip a new year on the calendar that makes us feel like we can press the reset button and start anew. In 2013, I set some goals for myself – concrete things like “run a half marathon” and not just “run more.” I met most of those goals, and exceeded some of them. It gave me a sense of satisfaction to open my goals document every so often and check to see that I’ve made progress. 

So I’m setting my resolutions for 2014 and will keep myself accountable for progress on them during the year. They’re all reachable, but will be a challenge in one way or another. I don’t like to go overboard, since I know that my work and my commute take up a huge portion of my week and my attention during my waking hours. Plus, I don’t like setting myself up for failure. I’d rather succeed at a few small things and be content with that.

With that, here are my goals for 2014 in three categories: mind, body and home.

Read 75 books.
I read 70 books in 2013, and I’m going to up the ante by just a bit in 2014. Within those 75 books, I have a goal of reading one of what I call the Russian doorstop novels that I haven’t read before, as well as finishing up the rest of Margaret Atwood’s canon. I use Good Reads to help me keep track of what I’m reading when.

Write letters on three issues to my elected representatives.
I have no shortage of things that outrage me, and I know that battles about GMO labeling, Ag-Gag laws and farm bills will keep me occupied with this one.

Run a marathon.
Yes, I’m putting it out there. I’m not going to beat myself up if I work on the training and my body doesn’t cooperate (I’m looking at you, knees!), but I’m going to try. I know in my heart I will always regret it if I don’t try, and that’s reason enough for me to start. I will begin training in February, with the goal of working up to a marathon by the fall. I’d also like to do several halfs this year, and to travel to at least one race outside of my area. The goal for the full marathon is just to finish, and my goal for a half marathon in 2014 is to get a PR, which I think is doable. 

Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
Rather than set a goal for weight loss, I’m focusing on health and fitness this year. Water is a big one for me – I feel so much better and have so much more energy when I’m properly hydrated. It also helps me with my running to be hydrated at all times, so I’m going to dedicate myself to hydration.

Start my home brew kombucha.
Mark gave me the tools to make kombucha for my birthday last year and I have yet to start, out of fear that I’ll mess it up. I did stop buying kombucha in the store, like I promised myself, but I haven’t taken the leap. 2014 is the time.

Sew a t-shirt quilt.
I have my grandma’s sewing machine, and I’m going to put it to good use this year. I’m not particularly gifted in this area, so I’m starting easy and hoping to make Mark a quilt from a pile of old, beloved t-shirts.

Can one new thing.
I want to branch out this year and can something we’ve never canned before. Doesn’t have to be elaborate, but I’d like to try something new and different.

Plant a bee-friendly flower garden.
I want to do some research on bee-friendly plants and make the flower beds along our garage an all you can drink nectar buffet for bees. (Can you tell that Vanishing of the Bees inspired me?)

Make the chickens some treats.
I want to be more actively involved in the chickens’ care and I really want to make them some treats to give them a diversion.

Organize the basement.
I did a great job of simplifying and downsizing our house this past fall, but the largest work to be done is our basement, which is a mess of boxes and disorganization and junk that is just begging to be a functional space. If the only house related thing we get done at all this year is to organize the basement, I would count it a success.

I’m going to check in monthly here to keep myself accountable to these goals, and hopefully share some how-tos when I have some success! 

What are your goals for 2014? Share them in the comments – I’d love to know what you’re doing to make 2014 the best year it can be!