We have found the land!!

This is so exciting!  We have found the land we want to purchase and it is perfect!!

Let me back up, it’s not a perfect piece of land.  It’s actually a terrible piece of land.  The first time we looked at it (back when all we wanted was a tiny home), we were horrified by it.  Nobody is going to want this land.  It’s 5-10 acres (two 5 acre plots next to each other) of rolling hills.  there is almost no flat surface.  No access to it off the main road, no utilities, nothing.  It is a raw piece of crappy land that someone is going to have to pay a LOT of money to do anything with if they plan on building a traditional home.  However, it is PERFECT for an earthship.  The hill slopes on the SE side which is exactly where we need it to for the greenhouse, there are no trees so we don’t have the added cost of removing the trees to excavate, and there are absolutely no neighbors.  The only issue we may have is where to put the garden, but that shouldn’t be too big of an issue either.  The best part?  The seller is willing to do seller financing!

We are planning on contacting the seller soon to go look at the land.  take measurements, look at property lines, and discuss possible financing options.  We may actually be able to purchase the land earlier than expected!  We still need to do some massive work beforehand.  Fundraising, blueprinting, approval on the house (or at least no major issues with building an earthship), locating tires.  The amount of work that must be done before we can purchase the land is a bit overwhelming but it’s totally doable.  It’s exciting to think we may be able to start building before May.  Our ideal thing would be to move in may (not to the house but a temporary dwelling closer to the property that doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as we are currently paying in rent).

Keep us in your prayers please!!  Also I am considering starting a fundraising campaign to help with the cost of the build.  We are confident that we can get together a nice down payment on the land but we are looking at about $10-$15 thousand to be able to excavate and put in the cement floors.  We really don’t want to be living in temporary housing until we get that money together…. But it’s still possible if we are paying less than we are now in rent.

Important lessons we should be teaching our children

We hear this time and time again, “I want to give my kids the things that I didn’t have”.  It’s a great sentiment, especially for those who didn’t grow up with much.

I have been in both places.  I have wanted for nothing and have had extra to spare and I have struggled to pay for food and gas to get to work.  Neither place is an especially happy place for me to be, but if I had to chose between one or the other I would chose the later.

I never again want to live in excess, and I don’t want to teach my kids to live in excess either.

In church today the sermon touched on how we aren’t truly grateful (and the way that I took it) you don’t truly know yourself until you have nothing.  We live in a world of excess, where we praise excess, expect excess, and we live in the comfort of this excess, yet it can be lost easily.  It’s just things, money, arbitrary items and numbers that can be taken from you in an instant.  It isn’t until these things are gone and you are truly humbled do you realize your strength and where it comes from.  I still struggle with the thought of other people knowing how little we have, I feel that it makes me less than them, but it doesn’t.  Whether your strength comes from yourself, or your God, or whatever it is that you believe in that keeps you stable, you don’t really know until you lose it all.  Two years ago I realized that no matter what happened in my life that God had a plan for me and I had to trust that plan.  The less I have in my life the more I trust the plan that he has.  It’s a comfort to know this.  I am a better person for it.

When we have more money, when we are finally able to pay all of our bills and put money aside, will I give my kids the things that I can’t give them now?  Probably not.  I will put money aside for their college funds, I will put money in a retirement fund for us, and we will probably have some sort of small savings, but i like who we are now better than who I am when I have disposable income.  We have discussed it in great detail and whatever excess funds we have we will donate to a greater cause.  I don’t want us to buy something new every time an old thing breaks, I want us to try and fix it first.  I want our kids to have essential problem solving skills aside from just spending money.

I recently went on a rant about how we put things above people.  It was a harsh rant, and probably should have been more thought out more than it was, but the truth of it is still the same.  When I had excess I put money and things about the Lord, people, and my family.  I became a person I was no longer proud of.  I don’t ever want to see that person again, and I don’t want to see that person in my children.  I want to teach them the value of money, the value of faith, the value of critical thinking, and the value of people.

When we do have more money we will sit down every few months, with our kids, and decide what we want to live on, what we want to put in savings/college/retirement funds, and the rest is going to people in greater need than us.  We will involve our children because I want them to understand what we do and why we do it.  I want them to understand money before they leave home and have to control and handle it on their own, and I want them to have faith that no matter how much money they have that they can be happy.

More ups and downs

I would absolutely love for this blog to be all about the ups. We propose this goal and things are just awesome everyday, and the momentum keeps growing exponentially, but it’s not. It’s life, and life doesn’t work that way.

You have your ups and your downs. Sometimes the ups are very up and sometimes the downs are very down. As much as I want this blog to be about how you can make a great fulfilling life for yourself even given the hard circumstances most Americans have to face, it also has to be real. It has to face the real harsh realities that those of us living in it have to face on a daily basis. It’s hard. It’s very hard.

I don’t feel like getting out of bed today. I have massive sinus pressure, I can’t breath, I have a throbbing headache, I’m stressed to the max because of money. after promising he wouldn’t get less than 30 hours at work they once again cut Cs hours down to 24, we can’t live off that and nobody is hiring anything other than seasonal employment right now. Both kids are screaming at me. All I want to do Is take a nap but between the kids being hungry, needing to use the bathroom, thirsty, bored, throwing fits, I can’t even sit down for longer than 10 minutes and truthfully all I want to do is cry.

So welcome to my life. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

Update: Things are still rough, we are getting through though.  For anyone who says that people who are on assistance are lazy, that may be true for some, but it is the most annoying process that I have ever encountered in my life and if we weren’t days from having our electric shut off I wouldn’t even bother.  Also C has some pretty good job prospects so please keep him in your prayers that he will get something.  this month is going to be ROUGH.

fish tacos with cabbage and AMAZING pan fried bacon brussel sprouts

I have been asked to post some of my recipes.  I should probably make a category for these.  I think I should probably start categorizing my posts in general.

So lets begin with two of my favorites.  A main course and a side dish.  Both are super easy, super cheap, CLEAN (ie no preservatives) and take very little time to make

Fish Tacos

Ingredients

White fish filets.  I typically get the cheapest White fish I can find in the freezer section.  If you can find FRESH, like you live off the coast and its recently dead then go for that, but here in KY that’s hard to find.  1 filet will make 2 tacos, so plan accordingly.

2 tbsp expeller pressed oil.  i usually go for olive oil if i have it.

1/2 cup flour

1 tbsp salt

Head of cabbage

Cheese (I buy a block and shred it myself)

all natural sour cream

Whatever else you like to put on a taco.  I typically do chopped tomato, onion, and avacado, but you can also put corn, beans, the possibilities are endless.

Thaw the filets, heat the oil in a med to large skillet on slightly higher than medium.  Mix flour with salt, you can add other spices in there too if you want.  dill is a nice addition.  Dredge (dip into until completely covered) each filet into the flour mixture.  shake to remover excess flour.  (i know a lot of people who first dredge in egg or egg and milk mixture first, then into the flour, that’s ok too.  it helps the flour stick to the fish, but i find it also makes the crust thicker).  place in skillet for about 5-7 minutes, until the crust is brown and crispy, then flip and cook again for 5-7 minutes.  test the fish to make sure it is done by sticking a fork in it and try to pull it apart.  if it’s flaky inside its done.  if there is resistance it’s not.  once they are done remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.  Cur each filet in half.

remove top 2-3 leaves from the cabbage and discard (in your compost bin).  They are usually wilty and no fun to eat.  remove one cabbage leaf for every taco you are making.

in each shell place a piece of fish, cheese, whatever else you are putting on it, and sour cream.  voila, done!  Most people have almost all these ingredients in your house already except the fish and the cabbage.  buying just a package of fish and a head of cabbage costs about $5 and I usually have 1-2 fillets left over and almost an entire head of cabbage I can then make into cole slaw, or cabbage bake, or some other awesome dish I’ll blog about later.  So this meal MAYBE cost you $2-3

SUPER AWESOME pan fried bacon brussel sprouts

This is OMG one of my most favorite side dishes to make.  We eat this about once a week.  Or at least we eat brussel sprouts once a week.  sometimes we make them other ways, but this one is pretty awesome.

Ingredients

2-3 slices Nitrate free bacon (shop around to get the best price.  whole foods typically charges $8.99/lb, lucky’s charges $5.99/lb)

.5-1lb FRESH brussel sprouts, end cut off. chopped in half.  it is very important to get these FRESH, and not on the vine because you don’t eat the vine, or at least you typically don’t eat the vine so places that sell them on the vine are really just doing it to charge you extra for something you aren’t going to need.  When they are in season (like right now) they are REALLY cheap so I buy in bulk and freeze them in usable portions.

salt. pepper

organic lemon juice (this is where it gets expensive, you can buy a fresh lemon and use it instead, we just go through a TON of lemon juice so it’s better to buy it in a jar)

Chop the bacon into small pieces and pan fry them over medium heat.  When the bacon is close to being done throw in the brussel sprouts.  The grease from the bacon will cook and flavor them.  Cook with the bacon until the sprouts begin to turn a nice dark brown.  before removing from pan add a bit of lemon juice.  cook an addition minute.  Remove from heat, add salt and pepper.  enjoy!  Once again, super easy, inexpensive, and fast!  brussel sprouts usually cost me about $1.30, the bacon can run about $2, and you can get a lemon for about $1.  So you are looking at about $4 for an awesome good for you side dish.

Why we are choosing to live off the grid

I told you in the beginning that at some point I was going to get political, well here it is.

There are sooo many different reasons to live off grid.

1) you aren’t subject to the same outages that other people are. Power lines go down and you still have power!

2) Little to no environmental impact. No nuclear power plants, depletion of coal reserves. You are hooked into renewable clean energy.

3) and finally the MAIN reason we are choosing to live off grid. To make a statement against utility companies and other large corporations. On average we pay $75-$100 a month in electric. This past month our electric bill went up by $100 because we are heating our house with heaters. That is still cheaper than the $150 we were paying the gas company last year. The really sad part is that when we get those energy updates that say how well our house is doing compared to other houses we are considered “efficient”. That means that most people pay more than this.

Then today we got a letter in the mail saying that electric rates were going up 10%. That doesn’t seem like much, an extra $10-$20 a month but it adds up. the cost of everything is increasing. In the past year regular butter, not organic, just regular grocery store brand butter is $4. That’s up from the $2.50 it was. We take it because there is nothing we feel we can do about it. Yet most people aren’t even getting the 3% cost of living raise every year. So we struggle one year only to have to struggle harder the next.

C makes $12 an hour. That’s a pretty good wage here in the great state of KY. It’s the same wage he has had for the past 2 years with 12 years of experience behind him. I know people say “just get a better job” or “go back to school”. He has been looking for a new job for over 2 months but nobody is wiling to pay more than what he is currently making and he can’t afford to go back to school especially if there is no guarantee he will be able to get a better job once he is out. The market is being flooded with new graduates who accept less money than what they are worth to be able to even get a job. If I were to go back to my old job I would need a masters degree in order to make $2 an hour less than I was. That’s what happens when you have too many people qualified for the same job. It’s a great example of supply and demand.

we can try for the things that are out of our hands, we can try to work more, sell more, apply for new jobs, whatever we need to but in the long run the only way out situation is going to change is if we make it. How do we do that? Decrease our spending. Do you know that most people can spend $5000 on a solar panel kit that would decrease their electric bill by 1/4 to 1/2. That doesn’t seem like much but let’s say that means you save $50 a month. In 8 years you have paid yourself back. Not to mention that you can get tax credits and rebates for adding solar panels.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am NOT offering a political solution. I am saying that no solution can come to pass unless we agree that there is a problem. We need to agree that there is a problem in this country and it’s not with lazy people, it’s not with people who don’t want to work, it’s with the fact that someone who makes almost twice minimum wage isn’t making enough to support a family. Our solution to our situation is to change the cost of living for a family of 4. A family of 4 shouldn’t have to make over $2400 a month to be able to survive (the cut off to qualify for most government services). If we allow the cycle of money to control us it will, forever.

Imagine what your bank account would look like without a gas, electric, or water bill. For us that a savings of $150-$275 a month. That’s huge!!

The 2 most essential homestead kitchen items

Wow!  What a loaded topic!!

Bear with me here, I am going to be discussing the two most important kitchen items I feel every homesteader needs.  Now don’t get me wrong,  I am a STRONG advocate for canning, which is really the most important thing to know how to do.  My fantastic mother in law is slowly teaching me the basics.  I have stewed tomatoes down though.  I can do those.  However, I am forgoing the canning discussion because that is more of a process involving many different kitchen items.  So the importance of canning will be discussed at a later date.

Today we are discussing the 2 items I fought against having because they were expensive and I didn’t feel they were necessary, but without them we would not have the ability to store so many different types of food.  C won the argument on why we should get them and since getting each one of them several months ago we have completely gotten our money’s worth.

So here they are

1)The vacuum sealer.  I love the vacuum sealer.  They are expensive, they are about $100 for the sealer itself and then you have to keep buying the bags, but totally worth it.  We were lucky though. C worked with a guy who had no idea the gem he had and sold us his unopened sealer for $40, with bags.  It was a complete score.  I use this thing like crazy.  I can now feel comfortable about freezing just about anything without having to be afraid of freezer burn.  I used to be the worst at freezing stuff.  i would just throw it in a bag or plastic container and throw it in.  Not only does that take up OMG a ton of space, but everything tasted nasty when I took it back out to eat.  We now freeze meat, vegetables, meals, etc.  I make the best chili rellenos out of my home grown pablanos, but they are only available for a few months over the summer, which is sad.  So when they are ready I stuff a whole bunch of them at once and freeze them in batches of 2-4 depending on how big they are.  If you plan of freezing things, plan on investing in a good vacuum sealer.

2) I have saved the best for last.  The dehydrator.  (I think I may hear angels singing).  Now I don’t know about you, but when I heard C wanted a dehydrator all I could think of was the crazy roommate from Friends.  I am sure about 90% of you know what I’m talking about.  I wasn’t really on board.  He convinced me last winter to go look at all the different models at the outdoors store.  The one he wanted was 1500watts and was also $150.  That to me was an insane price, partially because we could hardly afford the food to put in it let alone the thing itself.  There were others there that were much much cheaper, but he wanted the best.  A few months later we miraculously had an extra $150 which we used to buy the dehydrator.  We have used the pooooooooop out of that thing.  We make jerky, “sun dried” tomatoes, beans, mushrooms (which we keep in an airtight jar on the kitchen counter), honey coated cranberries, kale chips, banana chips, the list goes on and on and on.  there are times that machine is running for almost a week straight.  We put it away the other day only to take it back out the next day to do something else.

Here is the  MOST important thing about buying a dehydrator…. spring for the best.  Spring for the most powerful industrial strength one you can find.  Why?  Because one of those other ones probably would have died on us already.  In fact, neither of us would be surprised if this one died in the next year or so.  It would be sad and we would definitely mourn for it, definitely buy a new one, but we wouldn’t be shocked.  Not because it’s poor quality but because we…use…the…pooooop..out of it.  As I am typing this C is removing the last batch of kale chips from it.  yummy yummy lemon garlic kale chips.  After he is done removing the kale chips he is putting on a layer or two of banana chips to dehydrate overnight.  You cannot beat this thing.

So there you go.  I personally do not believe you can have a fully functioning homestead without these two items in your kitchen.  Ok, I take that back, YOU probably can, but I cannot.  I am just a slight bit too lazy, scatter brained, whatever you want to call it to truly do things the old fashioned way.  So go run out and get yourself a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer, just don’t scare your roommates….too much

The official end of Month 1!

We have made it to the official end of Month 1!!

How did we do?

WE HIT OUR GOAL!!!!

It was really touch and go for a while.  It took me selling a ton of product for black friday and I had a party on the last day of the month which finished up our last $50 of the $400 savings goal.

Now I know, $400 isn’t much in the grand scheme of $5000, however, considering this was a short month (we only started saving about two and a half weeks ago), and momentum tends to grow exponentially, i’m pretty excited about our savings.  The best part?  It’s safety tucked away where nobody can touch it.  I can’t overspend it from my account, or take money out with the hopes of someday paying it back.  It’s done, put away, not to be seen again until May.  That money does not exist except in the idea of this land we are buying.

You know what the best part of this month has been?  Realizing that we can do ANYTHING we put our minds to.  We went from having zero savings, living paycheck to paycheck, not knowing how we were going to buy gas to get to work, or food to feed ourselves, to having $400 tucked away. That’s HUGE!

This next month that we have just begun has a far more ostentatious goal.  We are looking to raise another $1100, bringing the grand total savings to $1500.

Why is the goal so much larger than the previous goal?  Christmas!  We are forgoing Christmas presents to each other, and asking everyone who intends to give us gifts to give us cash towards the goal.  My thoughts are that I will put away $600-$700 while christmas will count for $400-$500.  Of course I really shouldn’t be relying on Christmas at all because I don’t want to expect anyone to give us anything, but I can still ask and hope.

I’ll worry about that later, for now I’m going to bask in the glory of meeting a goal!!!!