Friday Follow-Up: Keto, De-Cluttering, Budget

While this week hasn’t been as productive as I’d hoped, I haven’t been treading water.  I’ve been making steady progress on my current priorities despite the fact that one of my children has tried to share his plague with me.

Keto

I’m continuing to eat on plan, and the weight is slowly coming off, but the fact that I’m under the weather has impacted my meal prep.  I’ve been grazing rather than eating complete meals, and that’s something that’s never sustainable for me.  Perhaps I need a nice vegetable stew of some sort.  That usually hits the spot when I’m not feeling well.

De-Cluttering

My kitchen progress has mostly been maintained, but the dishes are starting to get out of hand again, and I haven’t really made any additional progress since last week.  Again, with me not feeling well, I haven’t really had it in me to get in there and knock out more chores in there.  We’re supposed to have some bad weather this weekend though, so it might be the perfect excuse we need to work on furthering kitchen efficiency.  That’d also make meal prep easier for me even when I’m not really feeling up to it.

Budget

This is the line item on which I’ve been pretty fixated this week.  I’ve been trying to come up with a strategy to get us where we want to be with our financial health, and it’s going to take discipline and creativity, but it’ll be so worth it!

My Zello friends have been such a huge help! They’re a great sounding board off which I can bounce all kinds of strategies.  Some of the ideas we flesh out are pretty ridiculous and others are downright brilliant.

While I wasn’t able to cut my internet bill like I’d hoped, we figured out a strategy that’ll save me $35 per month on dog food.  That might not be a big deal for a lot of folks, but to me, it’s huge! I’ve also decided that if I can find a student alto saxophone for less than $400, I can save almost $600 on a rent-to-own contract and knock out another $56 per month that’s leaving the house.  Now, I’m just waiting for all my tax documents so I can put some plans in motion and get this snowball rolling!

Winter Weather

We had a storm here last weekend, and now that we’re finally recovered from it, we’re supposed to get more snow and ice tomorrow.  They keep changing their minds about the storm’s impact for us, but no matter how it goes, I’d rather stay in if I can.

Facebook Discussion Group

The Claiming Liberty Discussion Group on Facebook has gained a few members, but I’d love to see it grow.  If you haven’t already, don’t forget to come join the conversation.  I’d love to hear your feedback about my blog posts and the ways that you all are increasing your liberty each day.  Remember, what we do matters!

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Life Design Using Goals Instead of Dreams

My husband and I had the start of a really great conversation on the way home from an errand earlier this week.  He said something like, “If we ever win the lottery…”, and then he listed some things he wanted to do.  Now, we play the lottery maybe two or three times a year, so it’s possible that we could win.  It’s also fun to dream.

Something occurred to me though as we continued to talk.  The difference between dreams and goals is timeline.  What does that mean for us exactly? Well, to me, it means that we can have our dreams if we turn them into goals with a timeline and a solid plan.  The key to my previous statement though is “we”.  Fred and I are the only ones that can make our life what we want it to be, and while that responsibility might be scary to some, I find it exciting.  It means that Fred and I hold the power; we don’t have to wait on someone else or depend on some other passive something or other to move our lives in a positive, fulfilling direction.

Like I said though, the “we” part is probably the most crucial element in the discussion.  If we’re not working together, if we’re not on the same page, we aren’t getting anywhere productive.  For example, I was talking with Fred this morning about how our eating on plan has already made noticeable improvements for the two of us, and he agreed saying, “But it’s hard for me to eat on plan when you’re not.”

I told him, “Of course it is, just like it’s hard for me when you consider foods ‘on plan’ that I don’t.  I get it.”

Our life design is no different.  It’ll require us to be on the same page, and it’ll require us to stay focused and not run the other person off the rails.  I’m certain we can do it, and for the first time in a while, I’m actually really excited about the prospect.  While sitting around and dreaming can be fun, it doesn’t really solve the issue of plan and direction.

Long story short, and my husband doesn’t know this yet, but we’re going to stop dreaming and start planning and goal-setting.  It’ll involve several conversations, I’m sure, but that’s OK.  Planning the rest of our lives so that they’re the lives we want them to be seems like a pretty healthy thing to do in a relationship.  As Fred and I approach our 19th anniversary, I just can’t help but think that the next 19 years will be even better, and he and I are the only ones that can make that happen.

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Going Keto: Update for 01/14/19

My first week back on plan went relatively well.  There were two snags, but I still ended up dropping six pounds this week.  Better yet, my two choices to eat off plan (potatoes both times) didn’t result in my giving up and throwing in the towel, so there’s something positive to be said for that.

In general, last week went the way I had expected it to go.  At first, I struggled with obsessions of foods that wouldn’t further my goals, and then the cravings for salt started.  By Friday, I was feeling pretty settled about my eating choices, but we had to run an errand that involved getting food on the road.  I opted out of fast food when my husband and father-in-law ate because I’d had a late lunch and didn’t like the choices at that particular restaurant.  By the time we got to Chili’s to pick up my daughter from work though, I was really hungry.  Fred ordered dessert since he’d had his supper, and I ordered a bacon burger without the bun and a side salad.  I didn’t skip the fries though, and I justified it to myself by saying, “At least I wasn’t eating grain or dessert,”, but it was really just an excuse.  I wanted to eat off plan, so I did.  I think I could have planned better, but the choice to eat fries was totally mine and I owned it.

Then on Saturday night, I was planning to go home and fix a ribeye for myself.  Fred snagged a shepherd’s pie from Aldi though, and by the time I was hungry, it was starting to call my name.  I should have fixed the steak and called it good, but the rest of Fred’s food was sitting on the counter calling to me, so I decided to eat that instead of the steak.  Again, it was “just potatoes”, but potatoes aren’t a part of my food plan, and I’m really susceptible to the slippery slope of bad food choices.

Overall though, I’m happy with the way that my first week wrapped up.  I still have a lot of good habits to re-establish, but I’m confident that I have this in hand.

  • High Weight: 290.2lb in May 2017
  • Current Weight: 247.4lb on 1/14/19
  • First Goal: 233.6lb
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Join the Claiming Liberty Discussion Group on Facebook

About three years ago, I created a discussion group on Facebook for the blog.  I had hoped to interact with readers of my blog, but more importantly, I hoped to build community and bring folks together who shared my interests.  Since nobody other than my family and my best friend joined the group though, it really didn’t go anywhere, and since I didn’t develop the community with intention, it never took off.

Now that I’m producing more regular blog content in an attempt to expand the blog, I thought it’d be a great time to develop the group as well.  I love community.  I love to support others as they try to improve their own lives and increase liberty for themselves and their families, and a discussion group makes all of that possible.

If you’d like to join the conversation, join us over at the Claiming Liberty Discussion Group on Facebook.  I imagine we’ll end up discussing all sorts of things related to homesteading, personal liberty, healthy living, cooking and recipes, and anything else that comes up.  The only rule is, “Be great!” While I appreciate freedom of speech, I don’t tolerate bullies, but I don’t expect that we’ll have any troubles with that.  I can’t wait to see what you all have to say over there!

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Clutter and Anxiety

Over the last few months, I’ve had this recurring dream where I’ve moved out of our home to get away from the “stuff”.  Sometimes, it’s a small apartment.  Other times, it’s a perfectly designed house with smart storage.  At the heart of it though is a desire to live a less cluttered life.

I know some folks, including a few family members, who don’t seem to be bothered by clutter and disorder.  If we’re being completely honest though, clutter and disorder impacts productivity, but more importantly, it can provoke anxiety that isn’t fun for anyone.

As most of my readers know, I’m legally blind.  This presents me with some interesting challenges in life, most of which I’ve worked around nicely, but mess is one of those things that really causes problems for me.  In navigating my home, I rely on muscle memory.  I know just how many steps it takes to get from one place to another.  I know just when to zig or zag for furniture placement or design elements in my home, and I usually do a pretty good job at making the whole process seem painless.  Add a new element to the mix though and things can go sideways fast!

A few years ago, I was tidying up my kitchen.  I started loading my dishwasher, and something called me away from my task.  When I came back into the kitchen, I had forgotten that the dishwasher was open, and I smacked my shin hard enough to require a trip to the ER.  I was the one who left the dishwasher open, but since I had been distracted, my muscle memory hadn’t accounted for the obstacle.

If I could cause that kind of drama for myself with a momentary lapse of concentration, imagine the chaos that can be caused by the rest of my crew.  It’s something that we’ve been working to improve around here, and my family are definitely making progress.  I’ve decided though that it’s something that has to be a priority not only for my physical well-being, but for the whole family’s mental health.

Tripping over things provokes anxiety for me.  Bumping into things frustrates me.  Not being able to find the things I need to finish a given task annoys me.  Other family members are starting to experience the same feelings, so I’ve decided that I’m going to facilitate some decluttering and healthy habits to help the entire family succeed.

I suspect that my feelings aren’t unique.  And with the start of a new year, I’d imagine that others are trying to declutter and establish healthier habits as well.  That’s why I thought I’d share a little of my perspective here.  I’ll tell you folks what I plan to do, and I’ll share my progress along the way with the hope that I can inspire others to get their own poop in a group and start living more effectively.

For me, the key to handling the clutter and managing the anxiety that’s caused by said clutter involves baby steps.  After Thanksgiving, we removed everything from the dining room that didn’t belong, and for the most part, we’ve maintained the space.  Yes, we just up and moved everything that didn’t belong there into a different room, but that’s one of the strategies that works really well for me.  By moving everything that didn’t belong out of my dining room, I could see some immediate progress.  Also, by getting everything out of there that didn’t belong, it made it easier to keep up with things like vacuuming and the other weekly chores that go along with keeping a house cleaner and neater.

Eventually, I’ll have to deal with everything that’s been moved to our family room, but my strategy for that will be quite simple.  I’ll deal with things one box, bag, or item at a time, and I’ll make certain that everything has a place whether it’s another part of the house, a donate/sell pile, or the trash.

By starting with rooms that I spend the most time in, I feel the effects immediately, and it encourages me to keep going, both with the decluttering and the maintenance of the spaces that I’ve considered “done”.  For that reason, my kitchen is next on the “high impact” list.  Because our family is focused on healthy eating, I’m spending a lot more time in my kitchen, and I need to be effective and productive there.

I’m actually very blessed in the kitchen department.  It’s laid out well with lots of cabinet and counter space.  I need to do a purge though so I can use the space efficiently instead of wastefully.  I’m not sure I’d know what to do if the majority of my countertops weren’t cluttered with one thing or another.  Obviously, there are certain things that stay on the counters all the time.  My stand mixer, coffee maker, coffee grinder, toaster, and electric kettle need homes on the countertops, but I can arrange those items in a more workable way, I think.

Because of everything that’s involved, the kitchen won’t be a quick or simple project.  I’m probably more excited about that room than any other room though, and I’ll be happy to share my progress with my readers.

If you take nothing else from my ramblings here, consider this.  Take baby steps, maintain what you’ve already accomplished, and before you know it, you’ll have your house and your life in order too.

 

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N.O.P.E. — No Off-Plan Eating

My keto journey went seriously sideways last fall after my housemate and dear friend was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  Our lives changed so much in the blink of an eye, and I felt like I was barely managing to keep it together as we tried to get used to life without Sue.  There were financial changes, emotional changes, and lifestyle changes that had to get woven into a new life plan, and getting my food back on track was the least of my worries as we navigated the grieving process.

If I’d gone into that challenging situation with my keto feet underneath me, things likely would have gone differently.  The fact is though that I decided to prioritize other aspects of my life above sticking to a keto meal plan, and I was completely willing to accept the consequences of that choice.  I knew there’d be weight gain.  I knew I’d struggle with meal planning and habitual meal prep.  And lastly, I knew there’d be some health struggles.

So here I am on January 7, 2019, and I’m ready to get my poop in a group! I’m in a place where I’m not setting myself up for failure, and I’m ready to take back the ground that I’ve lost.  There are a lot of strategies I can use to support that plan, but the biggest one is NOPE — no off-plan eating.

I coined the term NOPE sometime last year when I needed to remind myself every day to stay on track.  I posted it on social media, I wrote it in my diary, and I shared it with my friends who were supporting me.  It’s such a simple concept to grasp; it isn’t necessarily an easy concept to implement though, especially when NOPE isn’t yet a habit.  I’m up to the challenge though.  I’ve done it before and I can do it again.  I’m worth it.  My family is worth it.  What I do matters!

  • High weight: 290.2lb in May 2017
  • Current weight: 253.4lb on 1/7/19
  • First Goal: 233.6lb to get under my lowest weight since recommitting to keto in September of 2017

Of course, I’ll keep everyone posted!

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Side Hustle Thoughts for 2019

After our experience with homestead turkeys this fall, I’m more determined than ever to increase homestead productivity.  Before Christmas, I had a fantastic meeting with a CPA friend, and now that I’m no longer suffering from the plague that got us down, I’m ready!

Honey Caramel Popcorn

Just after Christmas, my husband happened across a 2.5-ounce popcorn machine at Aldi for $30.  Unlike the manual stove top version that sits unused in our kitchen, this contraption is so easy to use, and I can make popcorn in much less time.  I’m going to make a few batches to share with friends, and I’ll also put some on Facebook Marketplace.  If the machine doesn’t work out as a business investment, then I will have a nice little toy for home use, and if I end up breaking it because it couldn’t handle high use, then I figure I should have generated enough revenue from sales to buy a better machine.  Either way, the machine was a great score!

Homemade Bourbon Vanilla

When someone calls you up and tells you, “Sarah, your vanilla is so good that I’d love to pay you for it,”, and you don’t start selling it, I guess you hate money.  That’s what happened with me, and since I don’t hate money, I’m going to get my bourbon vanilla going within the next week so that I’ll have some young product within three or four months.  It’s so easy to make, and it’s so good.  It should be a no-brainer, but for some reason, it wasn’t for me.

Homemade Face Scrubs

These are low-hanging fruit really, and a lot of folks really enjoy them.  My daughter and I were supposed to make some for her friends for Christmas, but again, because of the plague, it just didn’t happen.  Once we do that though, I know they’ll be a hit!

Baked Goods

I’m a fantastic baker if I do say so myself, and baked goods are also low-hanging fruit that I didn’t pursue.  I kept worrying about what I was going to bake instead of just baking and seeing what sells.  I’d really like to do something with sourdough products, and I’ve come up with an idea to make the cinnamon rolls marketable in Indiana while playing nice with the cottage food laws.  I also got a book from Mom at Christmas that should help me come up with some really amazing keto recipes.  I feel like that’s a niche that needs something, but we’ll see.  I could be wrong in this market.

I have some other assorted plans too like homestead poultry and eggs as well as some other odds and ends, but right now, the key is to “get busy living” and the rest of it will take care of itself as long as I stay focused and determined.  Remember, what you do matters!

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Stay Motivated! Seize the Day!

With the start of the new year, folks tend to have no lack of motivation.  They also tend to over-promise and later, as the year marches on, they also under-deliver.  It is for precisely that reason that I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t contemplate ways that’ll keep my family moving in a positive direction.

The last four months of 2018 were incredibly challenging for my family.  We lost our housemate and beloved friend to pancreatic cancer.  Because we had been living as “chosen family” for the better part of four years, losing her really did a number on all of us.  It also taught us some important lessons that I plan to carry forward, and I thought these lessons were worth sharing.

Seize the Day

At Sue’s funeral, one of her childhood friends told me, “Carpe diem!”, and she couldn’t have been more spot-on.  I just turned 42 in December, and you’d think that means I have plenty of time to get my poop in a group, but the fact is, every day is precious.  Even though Sue knew she was terminally ill, she made every day count.  She stayed positive and motivated right up ’til the end, and she wasted no time.  Despite the fact that it was hard for her, she still gave her all every day that she was with us, and that lesson will stick with me for sure.

Focus on Something Productive

About a month after Sue’s diagnosis, she started to experience paralysis in her dominant arm.  Since she wasn’t terribly comfortable with technology, and since she was a person who loved her lists, she was determined to practice writing with her left hand.  In hindsight, I think her staying productive led to a better quality of life in those last days, and if she was able to do that while she was dying, why can’t we do that when we’re living?

Don’t get me wrong.  Downtime is important, but sometimes we let ourselves off the hook too easily.  It’s easy to waste time being unproductive and justifying it by saying, “I have plenty of time.” It’s like that quote from Shawshank Redemption though, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Personally, I prefer the former.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that when it comes to productivity however.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Folks who have positive attitudes are better equipped to get things done.  They also seem better equipped to push through the tough times.  While fake cheerleading can be annoying at best and counter-productive at worst, surrounding yourself with people whose attitudes won’t drag you down is a crucial life strategy for success.

Another important part of that strategy is gratitude.  Throughout Sue’s last months, we all did a lot of reminding each other about how grateful we were for everything from each other to the ability to brighten others’ days.  When you’re focused on gratitude, it becomes more challenging to focus on what you don’t have or didn’t get.  It also helps to keep you focused on the end game.

Sue taught me so many things about living life, and interestingly enough, I learned a good number of those things as we shared her last days on this earth.  It’s strange how a loved one’s death can be motivating, but it reminded me that life is precious, my family and friends are precious, and my life is what I make it.  I dedicate it all to her, and because we rejoiced in the sharing, I’m posting these sentiments here as well.

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Lessons Learned Raising Homestead Turkeys

2018 was the year of the turkey at the homestead, and it occurred to me that I never shared a “lessons learned” post on the blog.  In sharing, I hope to encourage others who’re thinking of taking the plunge.  I would also submit that the winter solstice is a perfect time to ponder homestead plans for next year, so here’s our story for what it’s worth.

From the moment we ventured into homestead poultry, I knew I wanted turkeys to be a part of the plan.  I had these glorified ideas of what it’d be like to raise “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas”, but I didn’t fully understand the scope of that dream until after we had 23 homestead turkeys in body bags in the back of our SUV.

I’m glad we raised turkeys.  We’ll likely do it again.  There were some important take-aways that’ll definitely make things easier (and more profitable) in the future though.

Order of Operations

I once heard a farmer in the regenerative agriculture space say something like, “Start with pastured chickens.  That way, when you offer turkeys, it’ll be easier to get a buy-in on a $100+ bird.” But since I’d also heard folks say things like, “If you’re going to raise one animal, you might as well raise ten and sell the extras,”, I didn’t think it was unreasonable to order 25 turkey poults from Hoover’s Hatchery.

I figured I’d gift some birds, I’d put some in my freezer, and I’d sell enough to pay for the costs involved in raising the birds.  It didn’t work out that way though for two reasons.  First, I didn’t have a clear marketing plan.  I just figured I’d “wing it” and it’d all work out OK in the end.  Second, about eleven weeks into the 22-week project, our lives were forever changed when an extended family member who lived with us was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.  After her diagnosis, it was all we could do to manage the normal stuff let alone “extras” like trying to sell a bunch of turkeys that were going to be ready the week of Thanksgiving.

Our loved one passed the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and had we not been dealing with that hardship, I probably could have done a better job marketing our product, but in the end, I think it all boiled down to doing things backwards.  If I’d started with chickens, the turkeys may have sold themselves, and dramatic life changes shouldn’t have really impacted the turkey project.

Feed Management

I went into the turkey project knowing that feeding meat birds would take careful management.  In the end though, we spent a lot more money on feed then we probably should have, and we didn’t really see that investment flesh out in the final weights of the birds.  We bought almost 2000 pounds of feed over the 22 weeks that we had the turkeys.  Now, in the beginning, that feed was not only going toward 25 poults, but it was also feeding ten guineas and 10 chickens.  I don’t know how much feed those other birds ate, but it probably wasn’t more than 10% based on when we stopped feeding those birds together.

This means that 1800 or so pounds of feed yielded 372 pounds of turkey in the freezer.  We definitely used too much feed for that kind of yield, so we’ll have to plan more carefully the next time.  If that means more forage or changing the protein ratios, we can do that, but there’s definitely some work to be done there.

Stocking Density and Labor

I found a reference on small flock turkey raising that suggested a stocking density of 3 to 4 square feet of pasture pen per bird.  Since I had an 80-square-foot pen and I expected to have brooder losses, I ordered 25 birds.  As it turns out though, we’re really great at brooding birds with a new outside setup we designed, so we ended up with a tighter stocking density than I think was optimal.

Feeding and watering one pen of birds makes for less labor and equipment, but I think a balance can be found so that adding an extra pen doesn’t end up adding 100% more labor.

We also learned that hauling water is the biggest part of the labor involved in raising the turkeys, so if we can come up with a more efficient way to handle the water situation, things will be easier (and more profitable.)

Final Thoughts

Until I tasted that turkey that I roasted for Thanksgiving, I’d never had pasture-raised turkey before.  I immediately fell in love, and I wasn’t sad that I’d been “stuck” with over 300 pounds of turkey in the freezer.  We learned so much from the experience, but more than anything else, we learned that we can produce some amazing meat, the likes of which you can’t get at the store.  There’s something to be said for enjoying an animal that you raised humanely with care and respect, and in doing that, we learned that we can take even more responsibility for the food that our family enjoys.

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Trying for Turkey 20 Ways — Methods 3-5

When you have more than 15 homestead turkeys in your freezer, it’s relatively easy to explore all the possibilities for delicious turkey preparation.  The first post in this series covered two “recipes”; today, I’ll share three more.

Prep #3 — Bone Broth

You can’t roast a chicken or turkey without making bone broth.  There’s nothing more delicious, and honestly, bone broth was probably the thing that excited me most about the prep of our homestead turkeys.

I usually make bone broth in the slow cooker, but the carcass from my first roasted turkey was so large that there was no way it was fitting into my biggest one.  I actually struggled to fit it into my 4-gallon stock pot at first, but after about six hours of simmering, I was able to push the frame below the water line.  I simmered that first pot of stock for about two days, and it was amazing!

Prep #4 — Tamale Pie

Some of us were chatting on Zello one afternoon about homemade tamales.  I love tamales, but I’ve always had the impression that they’re very labor-intensive to make.  As we talked though, it occurred to me that tamale pie is a thing, and I wondered out loud about how it’d taste if I made it with turkey.

I found a recipe that looked pretty straight-forward.  Instead of ground beef, I used shredded turkey from my bone broth, and I added an entire can of chipotle chiles because we really enjoy spicy food.  I have to say, the concoction was pretty darned tasty, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Prep #5 — Broccoli, Rice, Cheese and Turkey Casserole

I’ve had cheesy broccoli and rice casseroles in the past, so I thought I’d try one with some of our roasted turkey.  While I couldn’t quite bring myself to use Velveeta, I did follow the gist of a recipe I found online.  My half steam table pan was almost overflowing with amazing casserole goodness, and that too is a dish that I will certainly prepare again!

Related Links

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