Get Real! Dinner Edition

I was invited by my friend Adrie to join a little blog party series called “Get Real!” A handful of bloggers are going to write about a variety of different topics related to homemaking, and how that really looks in our lives. I thought I’d come out of semi-retirement to join in because if there is one thing I like, it’s being real. 

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Today we’re to talk about dinner. Here’s what I have to say: I like it simple, I like it planned, and I like it by 5pm. My great dream in life is to actually sit down at 5 for a meal that is perfectly cooked by a relaxed chef (could that be me?) and with a family that is scrubbed and smiling. But the sun has been shining kind of late in the day, and that’s such a fine time to take a walk and let the family freely unwind, that well, we eat before 7 and that does just fine.

I meal plan once a week, and archive those plans, just in case next time the week of March 24th rolls around I want to just repeat the genius. I often tell folks that meal planning is my secret to eating well on a little. I flatter myself that I am a little famous amongst my flock for being the most frugal shopper. Meal planning is one secret. The other is not buying much food. My husband likes to ask once the groceries are unloaded, “Did you get anything to eat?”

While on the subject of dinner, and speaking of getting real, I’d like to confess that my name is Kyce and I am on a Special Diet. There, I said the words I never thought I’d have to utter! It wasn’t so bad. Nor is the diet. It’s been a week since we began eating what you might call Hard Core Nourishing Traditions. You know, GAPS. No grains or potatoes or pinto beans. Gallons of bone broth. 4 dozen eggs a week. Yogurt cultured almost past recognition. Fish oil for breakfast.

There is something radical happening in my kitchen right now. The amount of attention and care going into preparing our food is not tiresome or restrictive, but enlivening. Our food deserves this level of commitment, and I feel blessed to find myself giving it. It is very reminiscent of my last special diet, aka the plastic fast. Remember that, old friends? During that time I felt this amazing feeling of “Wow, I didn’t even know it was possible to live like this!” and I’m feeling the same way now: If I always thought I had to eat grains with my meals, and it turns out I feel great without them, what else do I believe that isn’t really true? 

Also, it’s kind of fun to try on this super-bad-ass and a little most-high kitchen persona. I’m, like, one of those people that can go through a bottle of apple cider vinegar in a week, now. Whoa.

What else? Pretty much a crockpot of bone broth is going round the clock. All our nuts are getting soaked and slowly dehydrated in the pilot light warmed oven. I’m fermenting vegetables–and I’ve always wanted to be not just a person who fermented veggies, but also ate them, and here we go, it’s happened. Every mason jar in my house is being used not for jam but for tallow and chicken livers. Kefir is around the corner, though I swear I’m not doing kombucha. But I will trade chicken stock for it.

I’m far from perfect. Let’s just say it’s good luck that the invitation to write this post didn’t come in the midst of one of our special mac and cheese diets. I have many dear friends that have been on the journey of eating as well as possible for a long time, and they have inspired me along the way, even as I’ve resisted–for a whole host of reasons–major changes. I’ve always done my best while staying within my comfort zone, and felt it good enough, so this is a radical new direction for me and my family. And yes, it is stretching my frugal ways, and asking for certain compromises. For instance, half our milk is raw goat milk, but not organic. The other half is organic but not raw or grassfed. What a problem, right? I try not to feel too sorry for myself.

Who knows how long this will last or where it will take us, but for now, it has been healing on many levels. Like Sandor Katz says in Wild Fermentation about fermenting, it’s kind of like “a health regimen, gourmet art, multicultural adventure, form of activism, and spiritual path all rolled into one.”

There’s so much more to say–about the commitment we make through our food, and about extending that commitment not just to our own health, but the planet’s. Perhaps another day, but just know that is on my mind right now.

In the meantime, I need a home for my sourdough starter if anybody in the hood is interested. It makes very, very good bread, if memory serves.

Any revolutions brewing or fermenting in your kitchens? Share the good word, please, without fear of being real, and then stop by the other blogs in this series to see what they’ve got going on:

Plain and Joyful Living ~ Hullabaloo Homestead ~ Our Ash Grove ~ This Blessed Life~Fields and Fire~ Shivaya Naturals

 

money bags: making more out of less

Since leaving my job as a nurse two years ago (on the cusp of giving birth to my daughter), I’ve become keenly aware of the fact that our family lives in a more earth friendly way on one income. Partly this is because I have time to do all the “green” things that one has time for as a hausfrau, and partly it’s because we plain don’t have money to spend on travel and new stuff and all the other things that are decidedly unhelpful to the planet. Either way, we are getting the hang of the whole live simply so others may simply live concept. And liking it.

The only trouble with was that we couldn’t afford it. Every month since Cora was born we’ve slowly but surely gone into the red, dipping into our small savings just to cover our most basic expenses. It was, you see, green and earth friendly, and yet ultimately unsustainable. I was looking down the road and seeing blue scrubs in my future.

For the record, I loved working as a nurse. But if I had to choose between the high stress of the hospital to a day of nursing my girl, soaking beans, walking to the store, and living fully, I’d take the latter. Hands down. If only the latter could make economic sense. Which I became determined to make happen. In essence, my job was to figure out how to make staying home pay. Clearly, just making yogurt and shampoo, while helpful, wasn’t enough. I had to get a firmer grip on our budget.

Funny enough, it took me awhile to see the answer sitting right in front of me. Here we were, discovering the richness of a life with less plastic, and I was still using my debit card for just about everything. So, I extended the no plastic rule to that magic little card. Thats right: less plastic, more cash. As with most of my brilliant discoveries, lot’s of folks have been touting this method for…ever. This post on the envelope system is quite helpful, and it’s basically what I’m doing now. For the first time since I said goodbye to a paycheck, we’re fully in the black. Just like that we were living within our means.

Shortly after I started divvying up cash for our different expenses, I found these tempting little cloth money envelopes. Don’t they just make you want to be frugal for the sake of cuteness? I wanted them so bad. But you guessed it: not on the budget. So then I thought, I could make those. And then I thought, no I can’t because I can’t buy (plastic) zippers.

Welcome to my world, folks.

I might have been able to find metal zippers, and might even have figured out how to install them. I’ve learned that there’s almost always an alternative to plastic. In this case, it happened to be a couple little wooden buttons from my sewing box. And a bit of improvisation. Perhaps I’ll get to embroidering little labels like “gas” or “comida” on these purses, but for now I just like to pretend all the money in them is for yarn.