Friday, June 6, 2014

Sifting Through Life: My Disposable House

I took Isabella down to the beach to take pictures of the sunset.  It was a bit too cloudy but we did have a fun time shooting silhouettes and learning to skip rocks.
Sifting Through Life segments are about my life and how I have dealt with certain situations.  The topic changes weekly and they don't always include food or recipes.  It is a segment that allows me to talk honestly and openly.  All opinions are my own and are just that, my opinions.  This is my voice talking about my life.  ENJOY!

What an amazing week I have had filled with private messages and conversations from a variety of friends and family.  My post last week seemed to have resonated with people from all walks of life.  I am glad that I was able to share a bit of our story about why we decided to branch out on our own and leave organized religion behind.

If you would like to read the two part post they can be found HERE(1st part) and HERE (2nd part).

This past week I cooked a ton of recipes.  Most of them new recipes to my family.  I was seeking after recipes to try that involved new ingredients and techniques.

--I made my first dish using kohlrabi. I made this gratin.

--I made garlic scape hummus using this recipe for inspiration.

--I experimented with a yummy coconut treat and added my own twist to the list of ingredients.

--I made a hotdog casserole with gluten free cornbread for an upcoming post.

--I made farmers cheese because I forgot to buy ricotta and I needed it for the kohlrabi recipe.

--Isabella made blueberry-mulberry jelly because I don't usually buy jam or jelly.

--I cooked a salmon filet to eat the crispy skin.

--I made grits in my slow cooker.  DELICIOUS!

--I made my own breakfast sausage.  Still trying to perfect the flavor.

I was running at full speed cooking, cleaning and homeschooling.  Our school review is in two weeks. I get so nervous with each review.  I do well but still get butterflies when I go and meet with the teachers. This week we are finishing up projects and reports.

We planted a garden.  I am determined to grow something this summer.  Our plants are doing well after the first week.  We will have tomatoes, squash, lettuce, carrots, hot peppers, zucchini and maybe, a watermelon or two.

It rained.  A.  LOT.  Our summer has been incredibly mild with cooler days and rain-filled evenings.  I thought this was artsy of the rain on the window in my front room.  The green is from a huge tree we have in our front yard.

And finally, I have been spending some time thinking about my house.  We moved into our current house three years ago.  In January we signed another three year commitment to stay in Maryland.   I feel like we just climbed a hill, looked across the valley and have decided to climb back to base camp. Up three amazing miles (years) and down three miles (years).

The plan was for us to settle down until the big kids were ready to leave home.  Drake and Rye need to get through high school and into college. They are not up for another adventure with a different RV rig.  I guess I kind of understand.  Rye is in college, she is starting her 3rd year in the Fall, and Drake will be a senior next year in high school, working for the NSA as an intern and then heading off into the real world.  Does it have to go so fast?

We are almost to the point of ridding ourselves of "stuff" again. When we moved into our house we had only the possessions that we brought with us in the travel trailer. The stuff we stored in Utah did not arrive for 6 months.   I remember stepping through the front door and thinking that we had moved into a mansion.  Our trailer was 30 feet long.  We had roughly 300 square feet for the 5 of us (Finnley was not born yet), one dog and one cat.  I love how cozy a trailer is.

The anxiety of filling another house was an overwhelming thought.  How would we fill it?  What would we buy? Where would it all come from? I was on sensory over load.  Living on the road was simple compared to moving back into a brick and stone abode.

When people learn that we lived on the road for a year they are one of two things: jealous or confused.
Jealous because that is what they want to do when they retire.  Confused because why would anyone in their right mind sell everything and pack a family into a small space for FUN.

THEN--they want to know how we did it.  How did we walk away from everything and survive living from state to state? How did we get our mail?  How did we get medical treatment?  How did we pay bills, get paid, make money, etc....?

Why am I telling you this?

This is the top of Finnley's head.  I looked down and she is holding onto my pant leg.  Finnley is a momma's girl and doesn't let me out of her sight.  This was while I was taking pictures of the rain hitting the window.  

We have decided that at the end of this next three year lease we are heading back on the road. We love living a nomadic life-style, meeting new people, visiting monuments and attractions, etc...  We are after the adventure again.  We want to experience life first hand.

With this in mind, we are back to a down-sizing mentality.  This does not mean that we won't buy anything but we are really choosey with what we purchase.  Each item we buy anything, in the back of our minds, we know that it will spend some time in storage or possibly be given away or sold.

This is what makes my house so disposable.

We have moved over 20 times in out 26+ years of marriage.  Most of the moves happened in our first 10 years of marriage with school, military and work.  Each move was a hassle except the last one.  We have decided that we like moving with barely anything to actually move.

So how do you get to this point?

First, we decide to use the "recycle" mentality when we furnished our living space in Maryland.  This means that we shopped at thrift stores and consignment stores for all of our basic needs.  I mean everything.  I bought all of my kitchen dishes, cups, pots, pans, utensils, small appliances, linens, towels, trash cans,  etc....

Our couches, tables, dining room chairs, night stands, living room chairs, rugs, bookshelves, and lamps all came from Goodwill.  I am lucky enough to live in a large city with some amazing thrift stores.  I also live in an area filled with students and military personal.  The transfer rate in my area is quite large each year and this provides a unique availability of high quality merchandise.

In one weekend I spent almost $2000 dollars to furnish and supply our home with the basic needs that a family would use.  I spent that on one couch in my previous life...LOL  Crazy--I know. 

I tell you that was a fun weekend.  I set out with a vengeance to find the best deals and stretch our money as far as it would go.  We did not want any debt.  We did not want to use credit for anything. Our goal is to live way beneath our means and this was a great way to accomplish this new life-style that we are creating for ourselves.

This is it.  Everything from our trailer of about 300 square feet moved into our 3000 square foot house.  LOL
 Was it hard to sell most of our stuff the first time?

When I first inventoried my house in Utah, before we sold 95% of our stuff  I was emotionally attached to each piece.  Who wouldn't be?  I had spent countless hours researching, hand selecting, buying and decorating. In my opinion, and looking back, I spent way too much time on this stuff. Those are hours, days and months that I can't take back.  I kind of wish I had spent my time doing other things.

I began to feel that my stuff was clouding my ability to have experiences, to enjoy life.  We thought about putting it ALL in storage.  I was using my stuff as a crutch as to why we could not go on the road.  I was listening to the stuff whisper to me that they would miss me.  My stuff was starting to piss me off!

Saying a quick little prayer for strength, I told my stuff that they would all find great homes but I was no longer going to need them in my life.  The time to end our cleaning and rearranging routine had come to an end.

Through this process, I promised myself that I would never grow attached to things again.  I find comfort in cookbooks.  I enjoy quilting.  I cherish my pictures.  I just don't want to have them hold me back from living life because I am tied down by my house, yard and toys.

I have several friends that are doing the same thing as I write this.  I notice that they are also going through the same process.  You feel attached for a while and then you discover that, to let it go, is refreshing, freeing and becomes quite addicting.  You suddenly find yourself reaching a moment when you don't care anymore.  The feeling is hard to describe because our society teaches us that "stuff" defines our success, status and experiences in this life.

This is a shot of the inside of our travel trailer. Our home for one year.
In the end it was a rewarding test of will--me against my stuff. I know that living in our current house with my disposable household of belongings is temporary and I am okay with this.  I have learned to enjoy what I have now and not to worry about the future.  Stuff is always replaceable but our health and ability to travel is not a guarantee; riding this wave of adventure keeps us young at heart and in spirit and mind.

When the time comes in a few years for us to move and leave, we will simply put our stuff into our driveway and give it away to whomever needs it at the time.  I won't bother with a sale this time because the stuff we have now is nice, but it is really, really used.

What do we do with the 5% of stuff we keep?

We put it into storage.  When we settle down then we will send for it and start the process all over.

I want my time and money spent full-filling our dreams, our adventures and our passion for traveling. For us to accomplish this we need to live a simple life and this is one way we have accomplished that life-style, by living in a home with stuff that can easily be replaced.

This was the kitchen.  Oh how I do miss this kitchen.  It was awesome!
What's next?

Well, I am glad that you asked.  In July and August I am going to share 8 weeks (a new subject each week) of things to plan and prepare for if you decide to live on the road yourself.  I meet people all the time that this is a dream they have.  That dream is not as hard as is sounds to accomplish.   I will share the sites we used, the details that led us to do what we did, and insight into the process of preparing to plan for living on the road.  I know that I am a few years off from our departure date, but someone else might find this information useful now.  Don't put it off.  I can't tell you how many widows we met on the road that wished-with all their heart-they had done it sooner than later.

I will write this under the Sifting Through Life Friday post and label them: part 1, part 2, part 3, etc....

If you have any questions or comments, just leave them below in the comments, and I will try to address those in my segments.

Enjoy your weekend friends!

This is the kohlrabi gratin I made. The link is up above for the recipe.

The Farmer's Cheese I made.  Link shared above.  It is similar to ricotta in texture.  The difference is that ricotta is made from whey and this is made from whole milk.


  1. What a great post! I totally miss the Annapolis Goodwill :)

  2. I go about once a month. They have changed their pricing and I believe they are much higher than when we first moved here. The one in Gambrills is amazing too. Thanks for your comment. Lets try to hook up again soon. Now that are babies are here life should be easier---lololol---that was a joke, of course.

  3. We've moved around a lot too, Sherron, and taking less with you does make it easier. For the first 20 years we had furnished housing so all we took were the pictures and rugs, kitchenware and toys/lovies for the girls. Those items made each house our home no matter how ugly the provided furniture because they were familiar and meaningful. About seven years ago, we made the first move to an unfurnished house and had to buy stuff that has now made three more moves with us in a 40-foot container as sea freight. The packing and unpacking is the worst. We have promised ourselves that the next move (when Simon retires) we will leave most of it behind and get back to traveling light again! Mark me firmly in the jealous category!


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