Food Experiment #1

So every once in a while I don’t know what to cook. Sometime its because nothing sounds good. Sometimes it is because there is really nothing left to cook. What is a busy mom to do in those situations? That’s right, we improvise!

A little of this, a dash of that, bake for 30 minutes and its like a miracle (or a fiasco) depending on the day.

Today I had one of those days nothing I had pre-prepped and frozen sounded good. So without a recipe and no idea what i wanted, I set forth to make something tasty…..

Today’s ingredients: Whole chicken, raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette, lemon, garlic powder, and fresh Rosemary from the garden.

Today’s Method: No measuring. Just throw everything into the convection roaster and wait.

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Miracle or fiasco? Only time will tell but it sure does smell yummy!

Paying bills & having fun too?

Today is bill paying day. It wasn’t always this way but, bill paying day is a good day. These days we actually have a little bit of extra money to work with and that makes it a little bit fun. We still have $16,522.81 to pay on our credit card but are really making some headway with paying that down. We are still on track to knock that out this year!!
 
We did something a little bit crazy today: We bought the fencing and designed the layout for our orchard. We plan to have 20-24 trees in all. I am most excited about the almond tree. I’m kind of a nut so it stands to reason, lol. :P
 
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My almond tree. It even has a flower already. Exciting huh?

Anyways, this weekend is going to be full of extremely hard work. We have 7 trees to plant (pomegranate, almond, apple – grafted 5 in 1, nectarine – 2 different kinds, cherry – grafted 3 in 1 and bing) plus some raspberries and blueberries.  Hopefully the kids cooperate and Greg and I can get a lot done. Wish us luck!

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

 

We are a work in progress

We are a work in progress, ever changing, adapting as we walk down the path to our goal. Each step holds a new adventure for us.

As we were working on our garden path this weekend, I started thinking about how our plans have changed over the years. All the things we have been through have led us to this life, this path.

It seems that everyone wants to be debt free but not many are willing to make the hard cuts to make it happen. We ARE making those cuts every single day. We make very few purchases but, the ones that we do make are nearly always well thought out. I say “nearly” because we do have the occasional slip up. This is a hard path. It is not for everyone but it IS for us.

I am looking forward to the day that we pay the final payment on our credit card. We will briefly take a look back at the path that we’ve travelled and then dive headlong into paying off our house!!

As we lay the stones for our garden path I am reminded that even though we know where we want to be, our path is not set in stone. We have the freedom to deviate and change our path. As long as we keep our eyes on the goal we will get there!! :)

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.  
-
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Here chickie chickie…..

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw
 
Knowing where our food comes from is extremely important to us. In addition to our debt free journey we are also on a journey to cut out all pre-packaged processed “foods”. After all, we want to be around to enjoy our life when we are debt free, right?
 
Why hello there!

Why hello there!

At the beginning of the month one of Greg’s co-workers adopted chicken from someone who could no longer keep them. There were more than he wanted so he offered us 4 hens that were already laying. We had already built a chicken coop so we said, “YES!! We’ll take them.” I was really nervous about getting them while the weather was still so cold but, they made it through the freezing temperatures just fine.

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They are awesome little chickens and I am glad we got them when we did. We are getting 16-18 eggs/week (the perfect number for our family).

Had we stuck to our original plan (getting baby chicks in April) we would have still been buying eggs until October when the chicks were mature enough to start laying eggs. Sometimes modifying the plan a bit is a good thing. :)

Our first eggs!!

Our first eggs!!

Now I’m off to search for re-usable dishwasher safe egg cartons. I know they exist it’s just a matter of finding a good quality one at an awesome price.

Recipe: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

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Our eating out budget is $60/month. We are extremely frugal so we are almost always able to go to a nice sit down restaurant twice a month (unless of course we splurge and go to Cattlemen’s). We also allow $20/month for fast food. We are trying to get away from that but sometimes when you are out and about it is just plain unavoidable so we built it into the budget. Pretty decent for a family of 5, huh?

So, what I’m getting at is this — We eat at home a lot. Years ago (before my middle child was even born) I stumbled upon the inspiration for this recipe. I have no idea who or what gave me the idea but I know something did. When I figure it out I’ll be sure to give proper credit.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

  • 6 tilapia filets
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 tsp. parsley

Directions
Melt butter and pour 1 tsp over each filet. Sprinkle parmesan cheese to cover top. Add a pinch of parsley to the top of each filet. Bake at 375 degrees, until edges start to turn golden brown (aprox 15-20 minutes).

It is super easy and is one of the BEST ways to eat fish. Go ahead and give it a try you won’t be sorry!

The Plan

So I’m sure you are wondering how we plan to get out of debt and still continue to live a normal life. Well first off let me warn you, we are NOT normal. I have never wanted to be normal. Being different was my thing (ask anyone who knew my 11-year old, multicolor headband crocheting, self). Being different was cool. Umm yeah, we are very very insanely “cool”. ;)

STEP #1 – REDUCE SPENDING
In this step we will eliminate wasteful spending and become better stewards of the money we have. We started this step back in 2009 when we nearly lost our home. Our funds were extremely tight as it was and then my husband got an unexpected reduction in pay it pushed us over the edge. At this point we decided to stop using credit cards to stay afloat. Anything we could cut, we did. Losing the house just wasn’t an option for us neither was adding to our debt.

If all our debt was gone right now we would need roughly $1k/month to live, including food. The lower we can get this number the easier it will be to live without a guaranteed monthly income.

STEP #2 – INCREASE INCOME
I am a stay at home mom to three kids. I am also homeschooling my oldest. So this part will be tricky for me. I can’t realistically pull in a full time income but, I can come up with a few different income streams. My goal is to make a fairly steady $1000/month from home by January 2015. Add that to my husband working towards doubling his salary and we might just have a chance to make this happen.

STEP #3 – ELIMINATE DEBT
In this step we plan to attack our debt head on. We owe just about $16k in credit card debt (accumulated before 2009). We are planning to knock that out in less than a year. Then we will move on to our $20k equity loan. After that we will start paying down the mortgage on our home. We are still undecided as to if we will stay here long enough to pay it off or if we will sell it to buy our forever home. Either way, the goal is to not have a mortgage or any other debt by 2020.

STEP #4 – SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
This step will seem so much simpler when all the debt is gone. We want to save up enough money to cover our basic living expenses for 2-5 years. We would like our income streams to sustain us when my husband is no longer working but we don’t want to be stupidly optimistic that every month will work out perfectly. Having a fairly large savings (that will more than likely be invested in mutual funds) is our backup plan. If however the savings is ever low enough that it alone will not sustain us for two years, someone will have to start looking for a “real” job. That will also be our motivation to not touch the savings.

So that is a rough overview of our plan. There is so much more to it and I will go into more detail as this blog progresses. Be forewarned, I LOVE cooking and am VERY crafty. So there will be no shortage of pictures and posts about those two topics. :D

You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now.
Harry S. Truman