Our family makes about 90% of our food from scratch. However, we don’t have a lot of time for cooking fancy meals, so I have been learning to make very simple recipes lately.
The recipes in the Super Simple Recipe series should only include a handful or so of ingredients and take 10 minutes or less of prep time. However, they make take an hour or more to cook, but with little or no further work required.
This week, I made a simple fish and potato recipe:
5 – 7 medium size, local potatoes
1 lb of local caught fish – if possible – otherwise store-bought will do
Your favorite seasoning – I used one called Israeli spice
Olive Oil – other oils like coconut can work too
Chop up potatoes into chunks and put in 9X13 dish. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle seasoning to your taste. Cook for 50 – 60 minutes @ 400 degrees, give or take a few minutes for the kind of potato. We used Idaho (where we live) Yukon Gold and they take longer to cook than some other varieties.
Take dish out of oven, add fish on top, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with more seasoning. Cook another 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the type and thickness of the fish. We used store-bought salmon here. Haven’t had time for fishing this year:-o
Serve with a mixed green salad and favorite healthy dressing.
I read this and wished I hadn’t. I don’t always have time to make homeade granola (seriously) and have opted to purchased some of these cereals on this list in the past.
And then the idea came to me – why don’t I start a multi-part series on my blog about where our stuff comes from. Not just food, but everything – our clothing, our furniture, our electronics. What is in them, who made them, and are they good for us?
My next blog post on this topic will be the results of asking a couple of companies (for which I currently have a container of a food item that they produce) if their food contains any GMO ingredients or other additives that aren’t made from truly natural food.
V8CYEBMDUTTJ April Schroader is a freelance writer and blogger. She is available to guest post on your blog, write a quality article for your magazine, help with a non-fiction book project, or write quality content for your website. To contact her, visit her portfolio and click on the Hire Me link.
So you left the big city, moved to the country, bought a farm, and are growing and canning most of your own foods?
Or maybe you just downsized a bit in the suburbs and are using cloth napkins and cloth diapers?
Maybe you sold everything and are backpacking around the country?
But there is a problem.
Life is supposed to be simple, but you are exhausted and are not sure you can go on. You are not sure this life is so simple after all.
What went wrong?
The Cloth Diapers Almost Killed Me
As we followed God into a simpler life, we also followed the crowd of people that we were around us. This crowd was doing really neat things: gardening, canning, using cloth diapers for their babies, making their own laundry soap, growing their own herbs and treating their own ailments, and about one hundred other things that looked great.
But they weren’t all for me.
First off, I am not strong. Years of hard (read: indulgent) living really took a toll on me and I have a couple of physical issues.
Second, I have small children and am in my early 40s now. I was 36 when I had my first baby!
Third, I was raised in suburban yuppiedom and this was ALL new to me.
So, when I tried to use cloth diapers with baby number one, and then pregnant with number two I tried to setup a large garden, I came to the end of myself.
Backsliding or Smart
I am actually not sure how I kept even the basics going in those days. It had to be God because I was so tired, I could hardly move my body throughout the day. The extra loads of laundry and leaky diapers was just too much and I gave it all up.
The garden sat with lot of lovely plants that bloomed instead of getting harvested.
And I stopped being so judgmental of people who weren’t doing what I was doing.
Are You Sure?
Are you sure you are doing what you are doing for the right reasons? Or do you wonder how anyone survived back in the “old days”? Well, many did not (survive, that is). The quality of life for all but the upper classes, those that could afford servants, wasn’t very great.
I think that these are great goals to be aimed for – off grid lifestyles, simple living, getting back to the country, etc… But I also think that it is no longer simple living if one is being broken or crushed by it.
A friend of mine emailed me about an article in Above Rubies magazine. It said that women with young children should just focus on meals and laundry. Yes, that to me is A Simple Life Too!
How do you live simply where you are at? I would especially like to hear from people in large urban areas.
What is the media trying to tell us and is it a good thing?
The Reality for Most People
Some statistics say that the average family spends about $1700 a year on clothing, with women spending about $600 of that amount (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Please understand that I don’t decry this amount. But I ask, do we really need to spend even that much per year? And does anyone really need to spend more?
Most of the families that I know now spend a lot less. Many have little or no budget, maybe $200 a year.
That might be hard for you to hear. That might even seem a bit crazy to you.
But what is even crazier is that these families still have plenty of clothing and they are, for the most part, quite content with what they have.
A Full Closet With a $200 Clothing Budget
When my husband and I committed ourselves to Jesus, we walked away from my salary to have children and gave up many things. This included a clothing budget. For three years, our clothing budget was around $200, and 90% of that went towards my husband’s clothing since he was working out of the home.
That is correct – mom, one girl and then a second girl, had a full wardrobe with $20 a year. And no, we did not make our own clothing. God, as He promised, provided us with clothing.
We did not ask anyone for clothing, we only prayed for it. And it came! Friends and family would come to us with bags and boxes over those three years, and my girls had so many dresses that we ended up passing some on to others. We also have a neat Grandma who has given myself and the girls a few new things, which is always fun and a true blessing to us.
And me? Again, God provided. People would say, hey, I got this skirt but it is too long for me, do you think you would like it? And it would not only be something that I liked, but it would match a top I already had! Clothing even came from distant family members that had no idea of our situation.
Just a Little Bit More Now
Although I was happy to make do with what I had, I did get to spend $200 this year on clothing for myself. It was like WOW, I get to spend that much!!! I used to be so ungrateful for what I had so many years ago.
Now I can’t even imagine needing that much over the next few years. I am blessed to have what I have.
What is your clothing budget?
What if you “fasted” from purchasing clothing for a year, do you think you would appreciate what you have more?
How do you feel about how the media portrays woman’s shopping habits?
Either one husband or waiting for the one who should be your husband. If you date and leave behind boyfriends, you will leave behind bits of you that you can never recover and carry with you bits of them that you can not get rid of.
A grateful heart that is blessed by what others have given you.
Clothing that you can feel pretty, but modest in.
A humility that is OK to go places with the old and battered things in your life.
A youth you are not ashamed of.
A past that glorifies God.
Children that will take care of you in your old age, even if they are “adopted” from another family.
To not have to hide anything with an individual email, voice mail or bank account.
A house full of laughing, joyful children or a job that allows you to come in contact with them.
Friends that know what you really need.
Accepted that you are not Superwoman and it is OK to need others and their help.
Given money to help others who have less.
The belief that helping others is better than serving self.
A healthy attitude toward care of oneself with out being a slave to ones vanity.
A solid start on a family or a mission.
By 30, you should know…
How to love others more than ourselves. Or at least as much…
That you should not wait any longer to have children if you want them and can have them. It gets harder to take care of little ones when you are older.
How to humble ourselves and admit we are wrong.
When to love more and when to walk away and pray.
How to kiss our spouses with out any thought of controlling them.
Where the people are in the world that still need Jesus… and food, water, clothing and an education.
How to not end up alone – even if you never marry or have children.
To go to Jesus when your soul needs soothing.
How to love who you are as one of God’s creations.
That you can be healed of the hurts of your childhood and help other children with the same issues.
That you should do everything for God and let money and love follow.
That there is help for your addictions and that everyone is struggling with something.
How to be a trustworthy person.
To apologize, even if it isn’t your fault.
That we should learn as much of this as we can before we turn 30.
I will admit that I was closer to 40 before I learned a lot of these things, but at least I was willing to still learn in my “old age.”
What would you like to have or know by the time you are 30 (or 40, or 50)?
Do you want to travel? How about change jobs, move or start a home business? Do you feel a calling to ministry, evangelism or aid work? Do you want more time with your family or be able to start a family? Do you want to get more involved with you local community or have a hobby you have always wanted to try?
Is your debt keeping you from doing these things?
The Serious Issue of Debt
Are you in debt? If so, how much debt?
I am sure, like most people, you don’t really want to be in debt. Maybe you aren’t even sure how you got into debt.
Maybe, during the course of growing up, you came to believe that it was your right to own a home, a nice car, and all the furniture and clothing you want.
Or maybe you went through a trial of a lost job or an illness or accident that took everything you had.
Our Debt Story
Unfortunately, we were the first scenario. We thought it was our right to have everything we wanted – NOW.
We were in nearly $220,000 worth of debt when we had a radical change of heart in our lives. We wanted to start a family. But I, the woman of the house, was the primary (actually, only) wage earner. We not only wanted me to stay home with the children while they were little, but we wanted to homeschool them right though to college age. And we did not just want to have two children, but as many as God willed.
So we prayed and asked God what to do. And He answered and directed us to do two very radical things.
1 – Sell All That We Have
We put our house up for sale. At that time, the market in our area was still pretty good, so we were able to sell our house, which we had for five years, for enough to payoff the mortgage, our line of credit, and most of our credit cards. We sold some other things that we did not need for basic survival, including some music equipment and furniture. We also tried to sell our car, but we owed more than it was worth. More on that later.
Yes, we rent at the moment. To some people, this does not make sense. But people are loosing their homes or their homes are not worth as much as they owe. Many are not free to do what they really want in their life.
I understand, that for some people, their house is what they want for their life and others have plenty of money and their payment is of no consequence. If God is not leading you to sell your home, but you are in debt, He is trying to show you what you do need to get rid of.
2 – Return What We Can’t Sell
When we could not sell our car, a Jeep that we were paying about $535 a month for, we returned it to the dealership we purchased it from. Yes, we were without a car for the moment. Yes, we still owed $3100 after they sold it. And yes, this does sound pretty radical.
But God convicted and God provided.
Just a week or two after we received our bill for the balance of the Jeep, we received $3200 in the mail from something from our past that we weren’t sure we were ever going to get. We paid the auto financing company and we were almost debt free.
Then God brought us a car. A long term loan from a friend named Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a Honda with 300,000 miles on it. It ran and we were grateful. Eventually, we were given two cars from family (again, quite used, but running) and then after awhile, the doors opened to make payments to a lady for her van. We still own the van and the lady was grateful – she never ACTUALLY had anyone finish paying her off for something like that before.
We are now 95% debt free. We actually made the choice to purchase something, partially on debt for our health and to build up a little credit. We are diligent and it will be paid for soon.
Now we have three lovely children and counting. We are homeschooling them. We are serving God, our community and our family. Money worries and stress are significantly lower than they were. Being free of debt has only been a blessing.
What are your radical getting out of debt stories? Do you need some help getting out of debt? Feel free to ask questions, I would love to be of help.
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links.
If you are looking for a gentler way to reduce your debt and manage your budget, you should check out – You Need a Budget!
Are you making good money, but it is never enough?
Do you have lots of things or have done lots of things, but you still don’t feel fulfilled or satisfied?
Are you so busy trying to make money, that you forgot why you are doing it?
Do you feel restless and overwhelmed?
You are not alone. I was there once. Millions of people are there now. Are you ready for a change?
About 7 years ago, I was ready for a change in my life. I was making good money working in the tech industry, I had a nice car, nice house in a good neighborhood, and ate out and socialized a lot. I had a life most people would admire. But I wasn’t happy.
So God got a hold of me and changed my heart. Part of that heart change was the desire to live a simpler life.
As I started to make changes in my life, I needed God and people to help me to understand what a simpler life looked and felt like. And after 7 years of that help, this blog has emerged.
In this blog, I hope to help others walk away from the cluttered, consumer driven world we currently live in and make a path to “A Simple Life”.
Some come join me in a couple of days when I share how we walked away from $220,000 worth of debt bondage.