A lot has happened since I last updated this website. The most exciting and dramatic change is one in the form of a baby boy. That’s right! The adoption is final and he is ours to love and cherish forever. The second exciting and dramatic change is that we are now living in Alaska. I’ll give you a second to process and then resume with the “norm” for this site.
Ah yes, the norm. Goodness it feels terrific to be sitting here typing out my thoughts in real time to readers I’ve come to call my friends! I promise to post the full story of the adoption in a future post. Promise! It is far too amazing to share space with an update post or a post of rambling thoughts.
I’m sure you are curious about the goats, chicken, and horse. Fear not, we didn’t haul them 5,000 miles to the pre-Aslan Narnia that is wintry Alaska. The goats and chickens are enjoying life in Albany, Georgia on a friend’s farm with lots of grass and adoring humans. Anna, my lovely mare, went to Virginia to stay on a friend’s farm. Sadly, she spooked in the pasture recently and sustained tendon injuries for which there is no treatment. She was laid to rest in a pasture shaded by the Blue Ridge mountains in the Shenandoah Valley.
Our life in Alaska feels very ordinary compared to all the chores and labor of small-scale farming but we miss it. Now, we are focused on saving money for the next leg of our life adventure to begin upon Josh’s retirement from the military. We have decided to move to New Zealand and start our farm there on the 38th parallel South. Until that day comes (and likely well after it), we will continue to live a simple life and I will rededicated myself to sharing it with you.
One aspect of living a simple and frugal life is staying home. Our house is not far from downtown Fairbanks, Alaska and there is always some temptation to go into town for meals, window shopping, or just to escape the feeling of being held captive by snow. This is a direct violation of The Code. Those of you who are actively trying to get out of debt or remain debt-free know that the first rule of reducing spending is to STAY HOME. Why? Because every time you leave your house, you increase your odds of spending money by 97.66667% (NOTE: I made up that percentage. If politicians can make up stats to hammer home their points, I figure I can, too!).
Instead of leaving the house to combat boredom or lack of culinary creativity, its important to sit down and make a list of what you intend to accomplish while you are out. If you can’t make an adequate list, then you can’t grab the keys and flee. To make the most of our pilgrimages to town, I plan our meals at least two weeks out and purchase groceries based on the calendar. Try as I might, certain items (ahem… NUTELLA, the dark wily goddess of cellulite) still manage to mysteriously fly from the shelf into my shopping cart.
A side-effect of the two week meal plan is that it usually lasts longer than two weeks. I don’t work leftovers into my meal plan so that I may freeze leftover food or extend it to the following day — which simply tacks extra days onto the meal plan — and translates to extra funds in the food budget for sneaky little items like Nutella or Biscoff. On my calendar, I only pencil in one meal per day. The other meals are usually a hodgepodge of leftover items from previous meals, fresh fruit, soup (made from leftovers), or an inexpensive bread item like homemade crumpets. This ensures that we do not waste food and it keeps me from cooking the entire calendar in just a few days.
One of the best ways to save money and stretch your groceries over many meals is to make soup and vegetarian dishes. Meat is very costly and the less of it you purchase, the more money you have to put toward hacking away at a mountain of debt, a vacation, or a small farm on the North Island of New Zealand.
The menu should be written in pencil so that changes may be made and if you plan on following recipes it’s wise to note which cookbook the recipe is from and the page it may be found (the arrow is pointing toward A.V.C. which means that the recipe is from Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook). Once made, a basic monthly meal plan may be recycled throughout the year with minor changes. The recycled meal plan is particularly lovely for households in which the adult(s) work(s) outside the home because the shopping list is also recycled. Less time spent planning meals and making shopping lists means more time for Facebook and Pinterest. 😉
I buy large quantities of fresh vegetables and freeze them for future meals. This is a huge money saver because commercially frozen vegetables are little bags of deception. Once you get in the rhythm of unpacking the groceries and immediately filling the sink with salt water for the vegetables you intend to freeze, the task seems much less daunting.
Oh, and if you are particularly observant, you will notice that my calendar is the homemade variety which claims to include scheduled cleaning except that not a single day on the calendar says a dang thing about cleaning. That’s because I forgot to plan the cleaning for October because I was busy unpacking (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!).
Thank you for tuning in! There is much more to come!