The Last Hurrah for 2016

americauna-chicks-96Other than my Sunday menu posts, this will be my last regular post of the year. I generally take off and recoup between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

2016 was a fairly good year. Greg was home. We got lots of homestead projects done.

Made a little money with the animals this year too–enough to pay for those homestead improvements.

solar array


The biggest project this year was the solar power array. It still boggles my mind that I can flip a switch and get light (and power) without being on the grid. A big nod to Greg, who without knowing anything at all about making it happen, made it happen. He’s a genius! (Shh…don’t tell him I said so.)

We rebuilt the rabbit hutches, built more raised beds, and did a little landscaping to the front of the house on a very frugal nana at hay barn2budget. We built a hay barn. For the house, we painted several rooms, built a custom decorative fence to my atrium, and completely remodeled the kitchen.

We bought two new goats–Nubians. Sweetest freeloaders you ever saw.

We sold the house iGreg saying goodbyen east Texas. You cannot imagine how much that lightened my load.

We paid off our present house in full. No more house payments!


On the personal front, I did fifth-seasonvery few freelance jobs. I guess I could’ve done more if I had advertised, but I stopped all advertising in 2016 and only did a few projects for long time clients. I loved the covers I did this year though. It’s some of my best work yet. I’ve put a few on my gallery page, but a couple of clients haven’t published their work yet, so I still have covers waiting for a reveal.

I’m trying to decide whether to go bigger on my blog for next year. Different affiliates, guest blogging on other sites, and expanding my reach by joining a larger blog network. It’s either that or go back and get a regular job. \o/

Actually, I’m not opposed to having a regular job if it could be seasonal. A job at a nursery would be ideal. Think of all the plants I could get for wholesale!

Another bright spot of 2016 is that greg-iko-nanano one died on us this year. Any time I can say that, it’s a good year. Sadly, I can’t say that for several of my friends. They’ve had hard losses this year and it breaks my heart to see them suffer. I know what it is to lose someone you love. It crushes you.

We had a few bad times this year, but not many. The worst was losing one of my pregnant goats. We did what we could, but in the end we couldn’t save her.

We had a lot of break downs with cars, appliances, and plumbing this year. Very expensive, but non negotiable.

Money-wise, as the first FULL year of retirement, we did famously, despite some wallet gouging expenses. Living on a fixed income made us cautious, which in turn, kept us well above the cost of living.

For 2017 I’m looking forward to finally getting that fence up around our property, relocating some grapes and fruit trees, and maybe building another solar panel system for the house if we can agree on the best spot.

For myself, I’d love to pick up a few new clients for my design business, expand my blog’s reach, and maybe write a book about urban homesteading. If my arthritis will allow it, I’d also like to paint again.

I’m hoping 2017 will be a turning point for me professionally, and calmer for me personally. My ducks are almost in a row now. It’s been a plan several years in the making. If those ducks don’t all waddle away at the last minute, 2017 could be a very good year.

Am I ready? There’s only one way to find out. 🙂

What kind of plans do you have for 2017?



This year I bought all my gifts online, using the research I did for my gift guides. Multi-tasking!

I hope I gave you some good ideas along the way. This is probably the last day to buy anything online and have it arrive on time.

If you still need some gift ideas, check out my gift guides.

Gift Guide for Foodies
Gift Guide for Pets
Gift Guide for Readers
Gift Guide for the Animal Lover
Gift Guide for Gardeners
Gift Guide Just for You
Gift Guide for the Creative Soul
Gift Guide for Silver Seniors

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All original content copyrighted by Maria Zannini 2016 - 2019.


  1. Did you build a pocket pantry too? We love ours.

    For me, even with my book releasing in early February, 2016 was the worst year of my life so far. None of the good that happened (and there was a lot of good, too) can overcome losing George for me.

    • Sarah: I know. Losing George had to have sucked the joy out of life. You took such good care of him though. He knew how loved he was and that’s all that mattered.

      I hope 2017 brings you happiness, and maybe even a George jr. 🙂

  2. I am over-the-top impressed with all you’ve done! I am even more impressed that you’ve kept up the blog (and even improved it) and write regular, interesting posts. Not to mention, useful posts. I am still living my homesteading dreams vicariously through you. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on “our” plate for next year!

    We don’t have many concrete plans for next year. We have one cruise scheduled for March (coast-to-coast Panama Canal). We have tickets to BayCon in May – haven’t been there in about three years and I know it’s changed venues and gotten smaller. It will be interesting to see how it’s doing. That’s it for definite plans. We’ll probably visit kids around the country, but I’m still not excited about traveling. Our Peru trip really wiped me out and just took all the fun out of it. I’m still feeling that I just want to stay home.

    We’ve finally started clearing out clutter and I plan to keep at until it’s all gone. It will take many months, but it’s happening. I will be so GLAD to have it all gone!

    Enjoy your time off. Happy holidays!

    • Marlene: Ha! I never think we get much done, but when I start to look back, yeah, I guess we did.

      It might not be completely off the grid and wilderness living, but for us it’s a comfortable way to live as self sufficiently as we can.

      re: Peru
      You have to admit that wasn’t a normal vacation. I’m proud of you though. That’s what I call an adventure!
      A cruise will be a lot more relaxing, I’m sure.

  3. I have no idea what’s in store for 2017. Well, except for the two conventions I’ve already registered for and the two cruises we’ve already booked. Oh, and then there’s my son’s wedding to look forward to (in Sep). Right now I just want to concentrate on the holidays and spending it with friends and family. Hope your Christmas and New Year’s are just what you want! 🙂

  4. Busy, busy year! but you accomplished so much – and the cover is fantastic! Rich and dramatic.

    I hope all your ducks stay in a row … I think ducks have been infected with cat-curiosity recently. They keep wandering off in all directions 🙂

    Happy 2017, Maria!

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