October 6, 2011

DVD give away at New Life On a Homestead!

I am entering New Life on a Homestead's DVD giveaway for:

Inherit the Land: Franklin Springs DVD

You can find the giveaway here.

I hope to win this to help inspire our long term goals to raise a family on land, learning how to grow our own food. 

October 1, 2011

Still settling in

I am almost to a point of taking pictures of our new home.  We still have clutter to deal with in the laundry area and of course our everyday clutter.  Not many, if any, are reading this blog, so I guess there is not much of a rush. LOL That is okay because this was meant to be a record of our journey and if I am going to journal it, most probably won't read. Which is fine with me.

Fall commitments began to get busy last week so it was really good that we moved when we did. I've learned that whenever you move there is a small window of motivation before you lose steam.  We still have some projects left, but we all really feel the need for a normal life routine.  Perhaps we can still fit a project in every week as part of our routine.

We are still waiting on the bank for finalized paperwork on an asking price for the house. We've learned to be patient and to just let the negotiator do his job.  The house is completely vacated save Jake's hydroponic lights and our plastic wheelbarrow behind the shed.

We hope we can close before snow so we are not having to go snow blow for every showing. LOL

The light at the end of the debt tunnel is getting bigger. I am not even allowing myself to look at land until we start actually saving money.  Plus, we have no idea when the right land will present itself. That is God's timing. I've become more picky on location recently, although I probably shouldn't.  It would be nice to stay within an hour of our hometown. Family is here and we don't want to be too far since one of us is not a big traveler.    Being far away and driving in to see family is a gas guzzling activity though, if you allow yourselves visit so often.

Our goal is not get away from family, but to be frugally below our means so we are able to give.  "Be a fountain not a well"  If we are called to be further away we know it won't be because we really want it, but because it is God's will. Which is always best, and also usually not what we think we want. Wanting what God wants is always better and takes discipline to listen to Him in the present, trusting Him with the future.  His way is perfect. I am thankful that He has given us His Word, the Bible, to know His will so we don't have to hem and haw.  If it is according to the Bible, it's what He wants, which usually always means..He wants our hearts pure and faithful only to Him, not any man. If our purpose and allegiance is truly with Jesus Christ's and the furthering of His Kingdom it will be God's will and we will have peace.

I am comforted as I look back at our decisions to see that we were making huge directional changes about things we saw as being unwise.  For both of us to really have the same mind about something big like this is really rare. As a married couple with very different personalities it was odd that we saw our inward promptings similar as we discussed our future on our anniversary overnight.  Perhaps it shouldn't be odd, but to us it was. Perhaps this is a new way for us, which would be great. :)

It is comforting to see Christ at the center of our relationship.  With our different personalities it is difficult to maintain a productive marriage together.  It takes real Love as described in I Corinthians 13. It takes patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, selflessness, etc.. to be at peace with one another.  When any of those things are off, even one, we are at odds.  It has become a high priority for me that our family be at peace with one another and to not have any inner dwelling bitterness. That takes work, but it is worth every ounce of effort to see God working in and through us as we live at peace with each other.

September 12, 2011

Move in ready!

In the previous post I listed what we needed to do to make the new home liveable.  We have done all things shy of finishing the kids/guest bath walls (ran into issues with the paneling) and getting the tubs ready for use.

We are doing the big move tomorrow and hoping to have all the little things over by the end of the week. Jake took the week off last week and built beds and an entertainment center. The home is already looking quite cozy and I'm looking forward to organizing all our things, as tedious as it can be. :)

Once settled I will be posting some after pictures of what we have done to the place in the last 5-6 weeks.

The short sale is moving along.  We have had one showing despite not even being on the market yet.  I am glad we will be showing a just vacated home.  Our short sale negotiator has informed us that we would have a investor who would buy the home, but we hope and prefer the home to go to a family so the home is not sitting vacated like so many are these days. It is nice to know that this chapter could be coming to a close shortly.

Now I am off to crank the music and pack the last of our things for the move tomorrow! :)

August 9, 2011

Home Preparation Checklist

We have come a long way in just 10 days of getting our "Transition home transitioned"! All the yellow highlighted items need to be completed for the home to be ready to move in. Everything else is cosmetic that can be completed as money and time allows. Jake is focusing mainly on Flooring and handyman fixes and installations. I am focusing on the cleaning and painting. We help each other out as need as well.

Last night was fun. My sister took B to Big Lots.. it's their special place to go together. Jake and I had a lot of fun and got a lot of work done in just a few hours. He did the kids bathroom floor and installed the toilet. I prepped the walls in his office for painting and was his helper while moving one toilet from one side of the house to the other. Helping, as in, following him with a rag to catch the drips... This is where you say ew! (we are switching the toilets to have the nicer one in the hallway bath.

B’s Room Tear out old floor
Staples out of floor
Patch walls
Prep walls
Lay carpet

Kids Bath
Put in new sub floor
New Floor
Install toilet
Floor to ceiling white wainscoting Paneling (great idea Dad in law!!!)
New vanity
New tub fixtures
Towel racks
Storage shelf over toilet

Master Bedroom
Tear out old floor
Staples out of floor
Patch Walls
Prep Walls
New floor

Master Bath
Put in new sub floor
Prep walls
New Floor
Install toilet
New vanity or Pedestal sink
New tub fixtures
Fix tub caulking (worst caulk job we've ever seen!)
New shower curtain

Living Room and Hallway
Staples out of floorPatch Walls
Prep Walls


Clean everything
Contact Paper on Shelves

Replace screens
Wash windows
Sew curtains
Curtain rods
Put up shades

Replace front screen door
Paint door frame
Paint front door white

Light Fixtures
New throughout inside and out
Exterior outlet thing

Trim hedges
Weed Whack
Fall Landscaping

All carpets cleaned
All trash removed

August 2, 2011

Exterior photos of Transition Home

Here are the exterior pictures of our transitional home that we are transitioning to be more livable. :) Estimated move in is mid-September.

July 30, 2011

Positive short sale news and transitional home before pictures

Before we get to the transitional home that we bought last night here's the update on the short sale. The bank has gone through our house to assess the home value and we are waiting on a price to put the house up for. It should be a week or so according to our negotiator.  The negotiator with the Realtor says they already have a few interested parties in our house!  So we are happy to see things moving along now. We are also glad we found this home because we have work to do and it will take a good month at least.

The transitional home we found is in the park we were originally looking to move a home into because of their special deal. We were in the office handing in paperwork for residency application and the park manager had told me on the phone about a new house that would be available. When we got there I asked the price. We were jaw dropped by what they said!! We snatched it up right away.

For only $4000 we nailed a 3 bed, 2 bath home.  If we were to rent a place at that price it would be at least $700/month (and that is conservative). If we stayed in that rental place for 5 years it would be $42,000 which we would have spent over the course of that time.

With this home we are paying a $376/month lot rent, plus the $4,000 purchase price. Over the course of 5 years as a comparison to the above number we will spend $26,560 saving $15,440!  Even if lot rent is raised we'd still be saving a good amount.

Here are the before pics of the home. I forgot the kids bathroom and will have to add that pic later.

To the right as you walk in the door is the East end of the home.

The first room on the left is the kids room.

Kid's closet:

The next room to the left is the kid's bathroom.

Jake's office is the front room. Nice bay window for natural lighting.

Closet in Jake's office:

Back to the front door looking into the living room. See the kitchen on the other side.

Looking at the southwest corner. (see a bit of the front door on the left) I can not wait to tear out those vertical blinds! 

Looking through the kitchen you can see all the way to the master bath.

Looking the other direction at the kitchen. I'm standing in the dining room.

The dining room and a silhouette of wonderful Dad in Law.

The pantry just next to the kitchen. Love it!!

Standing in the corner of the master bedroom.

Walk-in closet? I KNOW!!!

Garden tub that needs help in the Master bath. The toilet has a cove to the right and their are shelves to the right as you walk in the room.

Back where Dad in Law was standing in the dining room there is a door to a 3 season porch. The laundry areas is also by that door. 

Um, yeah. All this for $4,000 folks!!!

This just dropped in our laps.  Not only was it a deal, it has all the amenities we would desire for a functional home. Without having many more children we could live here very comfortably I think!

I have half my colors picked out for the walls. You can ask Jake. I am itching to get going and work on this place. I think I'm nesting early for the baby. :)

July 25, 2011

Things are Happening

A couple quick notes because things are busy around here.

A) An internal broker is coming in to assess the value of our house tomorrow
B) We found a mobile home park that will relocate a home into the park for $5500 and give back to us any extra money.
C) We found a home 924 sq ft home on property for $3500... the guy at the mobile home park that a single wide would average about $3000 to move.. leaving us $1500 to help pay for the home.
D)  We may be about to purchase a home for $1500 moved to the park for free.
E) Lot rent would be $376 and perhaps an extra $10/month for our doggy.

We are trying to just breath right now. We could have a vacant home ready to be moved in by the end of this week to early next week. WHAT!?!?!

July 9, 2011

Weighing options

Well, I will be completely honest with you all.  We seriously are not sure if we should continue making payments on this house.  Mind you, we are not going to go and make some drastic leap like this without feeling completely kosher about it.

Finances are tight as it is, but what's really the kicker was when Jake talked to someone he knows who does foreclosures for a living.  They talked about it for a little while and he really drove the point home that the bank just simply won't hardly look at us unless we miss payments.  He also suggested buying another house and defaulting on this loan.  We still don't think missing payments is an option unless Jake loses his job, which might not be too far off anyway.

So, There we have it.  Do we go with the unethical system of the bank because everyone else does and that is what they expect us to do as well? Or do we stick to our guns and trust that God will cause the road to rise up in His timing. Whether Jake has to lose his job or the bank miraculously begins to look at our file, something is bound to happen at some point!

July 6, 2011

One month later...

Still waiting after one month ago the bank saying there would be an appraisal ordered within a few days. It has also been almost 4 months since we started the process. I know it can be done in 2 months if the other parties do their part without procrastinating.  If Jake loses his job we're sunk, but then maybe the bank would get the picture. Not sure if I've said this before, but we have next to no savings.  They are sucking us dry, but we will never miss a payment if we are able to pay.  We don't think it is right to stop paying just to stop paying, but the bank is taking advantage of that.

We will homeschool so I will begin planning for the fall a simple curriculum for a 3 year old. We are going the Montessori route.  This includes setting up a room that is suitable for children. Kid sized everything. If we move at least I will have all the supplies. I will just have to set it all up somewhere else.

We continue to rest on God's direction.  There is a good reason we are waiting. It's hard, but  I try to think that maybe the longer we wait the greater blessing we have in the end.

June 30, 2011

On We Wait!

Why do they call it a short sale?  I mean I knew that it wasn't going to be short, but I was hoping we could be out of this place within 6 months and it's been over 3.

Now that I am 10 weeks pregnant I'm getting really anxious and worried that we'll be moving when I'm 8 months pregnant or with a new born.

These days have really taught me to live in the moment and to be thankful for the small things, like feeling the baby move already and my 3 year old saying "I love you mommy and daddy" over and over.

We have a choice every moment to be grateful or to grumble.  I want to choose to be grateful. There is so much more life there. I'm thankful to have a husband that looks at the positive to help me from becoming the grumbler.

On we wait! I hope to post news (good or bad!) soon!

June 20, 2011

What is "a few days" in bank lingo?

The latest update on the house sale is that two weeks ago the bank told us they would order an appraisal "in a few days".  So right now we are just wondering how much longer this "few days" is before we can actually think about listing the house on the market!

We are being patient, almost too patient I think at times, but we trust that the waiting will bring about a blessing in the end.  Who knows what kind of land we might find. We are beginning to get quite creative in looking into things like land auctions and comparing small towns in Michigan.  It's kind of fun, but also gets old and we just want to move forward in our 5 year plan that feels like it is becoming a 10 year plan. 

There is no reason to take our current blessings for granted. We have no excuse not to live our current situation out of gratitude for the one who gives us each new day.  At the end of the day we work hard at being thankful for each other, food, and covering.

Don't forget to wash your veggies thoroughly before you eat them... unless you are blessed to have an organic farm in your backyard! But you should still wash those...

May 12, 2011

What to do while we wait

We could start showing our house next week for all we know. It just depends on when we hear from the bank. I have already made quite a plunge in starting seeds in our living room. 

It feels like we are in some sort of limbo. On one hand I know we need to enjoy the home we have now, but what effort do we put into the house if we are only going to be here for a few more months? We don't have money to fix up the house for sale. That mortgage payment sucks up all our saving money.

Another I am trying to figure out is how to start homesteading and simplifying now without planting my roots in this home or land.  I have concluded in my mind, though I need to keep reminding myself, that making things from scratch is a good thing to start on while living here. There is a lot I can do without having to have the garden or land we look forward to. I can learn more about baking bread, making my own dairy products, and I can even learn a lot about food storage like canning and freezing seasonal foods.

It is really easy to stick to my old way of life. Transitioning off grid is not just moving ourselves to a different location. It is living completely differently than we do now in every necessity of life. One thing I don't think I will be enjoying much longer is being able to just jump into a hot shower whenever I need to.  The energy consumed in heating water is a major expense. We hope to discover an ingenuousness way of heating water that is tried and true. (Who knows we may get all our hot water from heating it in a pot on the wood stove! A wood stove hot water heater is not out of the running for us yet either.)  Discovering new and better things does not come without it's trials and challenges.

So here is my new list to focus on, not to a 'T', but just to get my head around my priorities at the moment.

Line dry the clothes
Learn to bake bread without the bread machine
Hand wash the dishes
Flower gardening and maybe a few potted veggies(to enjoy this season and be thankful for what we have now)
Do some canning and freezing with seasonal foods from the market (roasted red peppers, tomatoes, salsa, pickles, fruit, corn, etc.)

To inspire myself here is my canned goods from last year. It wasn't much, but at least I started! This year I hope I have a whole pantry full!

May 11, 2011

Backyard Corner Flower Gardening

This is my project area this summer.  I think it will add a lot of beauty to the home when we show it for sale. I mulched all around the house yesterday, with a few more bags left to buy and throw down. All we need to do now is keep up on the mowing and weed whacking and the lawn should look great.  This areas already consists of hostas, roses, lily of the valley, widows tears, daisies, and lilies. Anyway, on to my seed starting adventure.


To spend as little as possible I decide to start my own baby annual plants. I color coded the seed packets so I knew which cups were which. Marigold, Pansy, bellflowers, sweat peas and silver dollars (aka money plant).

I filled medium size paper cups with dirt and poked holes in the bottom for drainage.

I found a couple plastic tub lids that weren't being used in the basement and use them to catch any drainage.

I was so surprised at how fast the marigolds and sweat peas started popping up!  Marigold after about 3 days and sweat peas only 2 days!  that must have been really good potting soil!  Only about $1.50 a bag at the back of the gardening section at Meijer.  I can't wait to update on my progess in mid-late June!

May 5, 2011

Dream Garden

Can I be unrealistic for a moment?   Below is my dream plant list.  I know not only am I dreaming, but also some of these will take years to grow and some are not even possible in my climate. It would just be nice to list the plants I desire to have. These are also just things that pop in my head so humor me and feel free to gently correct me if I have a plant in the wrong category. :)

Veggies/grains - carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, swiss chard, corn, wheat, quinoa, oats, rice, black beans

Fruit - Apple, pears, plums, kiwi, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, orange, avocado, banana (ok ok, I know it couldn't be edible in my climate! Is it possible in a 30' green house to do an avocado or banana tree?)

Nuts - walnut, pecan, almonds

Herbs - basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender, rose hip, rosemary

Flowers and trees (besides the already listed)  Peony (will be the first thing planted on our land...) , lilacs (every color), daisies, pansies, coleus, holly, roses, maple, did I mention lavender and lots of it!

Oh I'm sure I could sit and think of more, but enough dreaming for one night!  How many acres will I need for all these plants?

Tomorrow my 3 year old and I will be seeding a bunch of flowers I picked up at the store tonight. Pansies, marigolds, sweet pea, silver coins, and canterbury bells!

May 4, 2011

Look Ma! I made goat cheese!!!

With the help of a few youtube videos I made goat cheese last night.  I look forward to making more variations in the future, but I do need to find a better deal on goat milk.  I think $3.12 for 1 liter (1/4 gallon) is a bit steep! Does anyone know of a good place to get goat milk in West Michigan? We may need to practice with cow's milk for a while. What on earth does "ultra-pasteurized" mean?

For lunch today we made goat cheese and crackers with green onions, cucumbers, and carrots!  They were so pretty I had to take a picture.

Things like making our own cheese and yogurt are just a few of the things we desire to do on our own out in the country.  We don't expect to do everything, but at least right now these are things we can learn to help make the transition a bit easier. Like I have said in a previous post, going off grid is not social independence. We are not going to be able to provide for all our personal needs. This is why I don't really like the term "self sufficient." That would be cool to find someone who provides everything for themselves and never needs to go to the store even for cotton or TP. :)

I also posted over at my Undertaking Homemaking blog about the coleus I planted today.  I have decided to focus on a few things until our house sells one of them is doing flower gardening to help make our house look nice.

May 3, 2011

Off Grid Home Design Notes

While we wait for our home to sell we have been considering and thinking about the new lifestyle. So much will change for us.  There is no need to wait until we are in our new place to work on the transition.  It won't be easy, but planning ahead will help the process feel less sudden.

Growing up in the society we have is a subtle "corruption". I don't mean to make it sound all bad.  What matters most in life truly is loving others sacrificially and caring for your family.  When I say "corruption" I mean those convenient short-cuts we make to ensure an easier life for ourselves without considering the long term consequences.  It is easy to do and I think really in our human nature to try to make life "easier".  Growing up we never concerned ourselves with how much we were throwing away or where it went when we put out the garbage.  This is something I don't want to miss in raising my child(ren). 

My personal goal as I grow older in regards to material things is never just do what everyone else is doing.  I want to always ask why and move my life according to what I find when I ask the hard questions.  In the end I believe this will make life to be more rich and fulfilling. Most importantly we will be putting ourselves in a position to help others.

Anyway, all that to say I sat down last night and drew out a really good idea of what our dream home would be.  When I say "dream home" I don't mean some extravagant beautiful large dwelling like a mansion. When I think of a perfect home design I think "functionality", "purpose", "resource", and "efficiency". 

I made the plan below in Google Docs Spreadsheet.  I have played with this kind of thing before and it is just the easiest way for me to do it. I tried to get the appliances and furniture sizes somewhat accurate, but wasn't too picky. I know that it will probably continue to change as our plans changes.  Hopefully I can get Jake to post his plan for plumbing sometime. It is very unique and efficient.  You will notice that all our water utilities are located directly next to the utility room. We have plenty, and I mean PLENTY of time to switch this up before making any final drawings or decisions.

Click here to see our plan- subject to and most likely will change!

Coming up soon I will start discussing the ways in which we are gearing up for our new hardworking lifestyle. Hint: It has to do with me not being on the computer as much as I would like.

Proverbs 16:9 "The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps."

April 30, 2011

Considering Types of Homes - The Straw Bale House

When done right this type of home is extremely efficient with an R value of around 28!  From the outside most of these homes don't look any different from other homes. The construction can be very versatile to any design whether traditional or contemporary.  What I love about these homes are the deep window sills where you can sit and relax and take in the view.

Our major concern with the hale bale building structure is the bales being very porous.  If moisture were to get trapped in an air pocket we can see how mold would grow rapidly. According to this article it should not be a concern if the bales are properly compacted.

Being that we are in the northern climate we need to heed words from articles like this one at Green 3D Home. Quoting the article:

"The major disadvantages of straw bale construction are rot and infestation. Rot is the result of improper moisture control. In arid regions, moisture isn't much of a concern but in northern climates, special attention should be paid to controlling moisture seepage and infiltration and also removing moisture from the walls."

I found another very informative .pdf here that lays out some ways to prevent moisture problems and stucco cracks for those who desire to overcome this issue.

The more I read the more I see that the straw bale home is doable and very efficient. I just watched a YouTube video of a single mom who built a 1200 square foot straw bale house for $50,000 with only a few projects hired out professionally. (i.e. the roof and plumbing)  She gave a very positive report of the home after 7 years. I would really like to hear more tried and true stories, but the way in which the homes are constructed has only been around about 17 years with the first permit handed out in 1995 in Arizona. Straw bale homes were built prior to 1950. I would like to see or hear stories of how these homes have held up over the years.

We have ruled this type of construction out.  The risk of getting moisture into one of the pockets of air could create a very costly problem, especially in our northern Michigan climate.  This is a risk we don't want to take on.  Another factor is that we desire to  maintain an organic/natural lifestyle and I'm sure bug friends would feel the need to make their home in our bales and we would not desire to use chemicals for our sake.

Pretty soon we will be sharing our desired building structure, but I want to give a good thorough look at green building structures and share our reasons why we are not choosing these alternative options for building our home.

April 19, 2011

April is a slow month

There is not a lot happening for our transition this month.  We are waiting on the bank, sold a bunch of stuff on craigslist already, and our dream switch feels turned off right now until something starts happening with the house sale. This is hard when the motivation is high.   We just need to keep plugging away with fixing up the house and getting it ready for the next home owners.

My summer money savings list has not quite gotten off the ground yet.  I've hung clothes out to dry on the nice days, but April is known for rain so we'll have to hold off a bit.  We will be going dishwasher free when our dishwasher soap runs out.

I've purchase grapefruit dish soap to help with ants. Did you know that ants don't like citrus?  If you get aunts by your sink try a citrus dish soap. It works for me! That and keeping the counters free of little ant treasures.

So, please forgive me for the lack of posting.  There really isn't much to talk about these days. It's just the waiting game right now.

April 6, 2011

Craigslist works for us!

We have done so well selling stuff on craigslist that I am considering a career in it. Not really, but it does make me want to go garage-saling to find really cheaply priced nice things and resell them. It is garage sale season and if I can make a few bucks before we sell the house it would be useful. Perhaps I could set the money aside for getting new things when we move or maybe I can buy some fabric for curtains or cloth napkins or something.  The extent of our success with craigslist has been about $350 plus a trade for a 6 person tent! 

We were just joking at my in-laws tonight about me starting a craigslist sales business where I would sell stuff for people after their garage sales are over and charge 5-10%.  The logistics sounded too complicated once we started talking details, but we had a great name picked out. KCQ (doesn't that roll off your tongue nicely?)  Katy the Craigslisting Queen.  Craigslist shoppers would know me so well they would stop by my house just to find out what I had for sale that day.

Click here to see my favorite "best of craigslist" ad

March 25, 2011

Beginning thoughts on home design

To create a functional home you need to design the home around your basic needs. As we go off grid we need to look at these basic needs and how we are going to fulfill them in the most simple manner.  It definitely will take a lot of ingenuity, research, and creativity.We also need to seriously consider the things we are willing to give up for the sake of saving energy for other things.

Top priority needs:

Water - Well - Still considering plumbing options, but we would like to do something less conventional when it comes to water pressure. Jake has some unique ideas that just might work that have to do with a raised buried water tank.
Hot water - Trying to figure out the best route for a hot shower/clean dishes that doesn't take a lot of energy. It is interesting to look back in the past to see how it was done.It helps us to really reconsider the way it is done and think about different options.  It's not that we are looking to recreated the wheel, but to find the avenue that works best for us.

Clean Clothes - Energy efficient washer, perhaps a less conventional route.
Clothes Drying - Unsure of  how to do this without making our home one large clothes line in the winter.
Heat- Wood stove (we plan to center the home design around the wood stove to create even distribution of the heat.)
Photo courtesy of Good Time Stove Co.

Cooking - We agreed that we need to do natural gas, but will do a lot of water warming on the wood stove. Whether to go cookstove or not or just have burners on our heat stove is still up in the air.
Food storage -Considering having a freezer and doing an old fashioned ice box with 2 liter pop bottles replaced every day. Also considering a solar fridge for summer and utilizing the outside cold some how in the winter. Perhaps something like this:
Photo Courtesy of Apliancist.com

Toilet - Incinerating Propane Toilet - We have our eye on this one in particular at Popane Products 

Electricity for lights/appliances - Solar/Wind/Bike ;)

All of this is subject to change as we research and what the township will approve of, but it will give you and idea of the route we are taking.  We are somewhat conventional with a few tweaks to conserve energy.

If you have any ideas for us to consider, please do tell!

March 22, 2011

The Toy Challenge

I did not realize that going through toys to get rid of while my son is in the same building is useless.  Somehow he knew, with no hints from me whatsoever, that the laundry basket full of toys were going to be given away or sold. Must be some special child's instinct or connection to his toys!

Yes, I'm doing this to declutter and clear out for selling the house and moving, but also to try to transition from plastic toys, which feels really impossible.  At least I will reduce the amount and if we can commit to buying healthy toys from here on out we'll be in a better case scenario long term at some point.  And hopefully family members will catch on and start getting wooden, cloth, etc... toys for presents.

Some plastic toys that we can't say good bye to are:

-Anything G.I. Joe or army men (unless they have wooden army men I am not aware of.)
-Legos (although right now they are an object of training and are put up until someone decides to start listening to mom and dad on a regular basis.)
-Anything Toy Story
-Matchbox cars
-Outdoor toys like bats, balls, etc...
-Some bath toys (everyone needs a wind up bath toy!)

Most everything else really could be replaced with a better/healthier version of the same concept.

Considering Types of Homes - The Tree House

Perhaps a Tree House would be fun.  It doesn't have to be high up and we can always have stairs if necessary (instead of a ladder) Here are some inspirations:

Tiny House Blog's 3-33-11 post

freshome.com's Top 8 Most Amazing Treehouses - unrealistic for us, but feeds our creative minds!


Realistically the township would probably not like us with this one.  This is an interesting option and while I wouldn't rule it out, I also would not be quick to rule it in.  Plus, my mom doesn't do well with stairs and I think there would be some folks who would not fair well with any form of heights. This is really fun to consider though, and perhaps someday we could build a sweet kids tree house if we have enough mature trees on our land.  Perhaps it could second as a guest house. ;-)

March 18, 2011

It has begun

The sign is in the yard.  It's official. 

This could take 3 weeks to 6 months so now its all about organizing and prepping the house for the sale and the move.  We have decided that we need to have a transitional renting situation before buying land.

4 options for renting
-Mobile Home

All of these things will be considered as we look for a place.

Land Examination Priorities

I've done enough reading about land buying to know that you pretty much need to know the property upside down before you buy it.  Here is a list of things I have compiled of what we need to do before deciding to buy any land. Some are obvious and simple, but we don't want to forget to check them. Others require a little more effort.

1) Zoning
2) Township requirements and restrictions (including building ordinances)
3) Mineral rights or other obligations
4) Well test/water level/flood zone?
5) Soil test
6) Radon test
7) Check with any nearby farmers on what kinds of pesticides they use (air quality)
8) Research Bugs or Pests in the area. Ask neighbors, look at local nature center, go to the library.
9) Educate yourself on easements and road taxation. And if we are serious about a particular property have a new survey done if it has not been done recently.

Here's a fun thing I just haphazardly figured out (This is just for kicks and giggles. Please don't take it seriously)

I was just thinking "I wonder how many acres of land there are in the world compared to people and how many acres we could each have if we spread out a bit." (especially thinking about crowded cities like Hong Kong and New York.) Here is the general numbers I have found:

There are 36,794,240,000 acres of land on earth and 6,905,913,252 people in the world
That leaves 5.3 acres per person

Mind you much of this land is either a frozen tundra or a swamped marshland, still.. you could probably build some sort of structure depending how much money you had.  So, my conclusion is this. The rich people can move to the tundras and rain forests to build their extravagant structures to deal with the climate, buying all their needs on the internet and have them shipped. Then as you get lower in income you are in the more lush bountiful land.  The rich can pay us to send food out to them.  I totally have this all figured out. Why am I not a dictator, I mean, politician?  Or maybe this is the reason I'm not a politician.

So their we have it.  Our little family of three are entitled to about 16 acres. If we have more children, we can have more, but by that time we might only be entitled to less due to population growth so maybe we should be satisfied with 5-10. Oh don't you love my analytical brain?


March 17, 2011

The push we needed

Going off grid is not a new dream for Jake and I.  Solar and wind energy have often been the topic of many discussions for a few years.    Just before our 6th anniversary this year Jake watched a documentary by Les Stroud (survivor man). You will laugh when I say we actually watched it together on my laptop in the hotel room on our anniversary getaway. It was a very exciting time for us. This documentary gave us that push that we can do this and we are not crazy.

Click here to view the documentary yourself. There are 7 parts and each part is about 10 minutes long.

We began to discuss the steps we would need to take, talked about what it would be like,  discussed how far we would go away from family and friends. We crunched a lot of numbers and searched out available land in the area(just to get an idea of prices and such). Most importantly for us, we took time to pray.  If we do all this and in the end find that we did it all for our own whims and desires this whole thing would be useless. After that weekend we still kept praying, talking, figuring, researching, and planning.  We will keep doing this the whole time. If a question or idea comes up we write it in our notebook.

So much depends on the sale of our home so there really are not a lot of decisions to make until we sell the house.  In the mean time we will focus our efforts on prepping the house for sale.

March 15, 2011

Summer Money Savings

This summer, through some extra work, we are hoping to save a few bucks by cutting out certain conveniences.  Not only that but it will prep us for being off grid and finding alternative ways to deal with every day necessities.

No Vacuuming - This one I've already started (except for yesterday when I was cleaning house like a mad woman for the real estate guy to come.)  I've already taken up all but two rugs in the house. One still protects my floor from my desk chair and the other is in the breezeway to catch dirt.  Anyway, I plan to sweep every day and mop once a week.

No Dryer - My arms will be buff after putting clothes up on the clothesline all summer - I know this will be hard for me to get a handle on.  I will need to take advantage of the sunny dry days. It might be okay to do loads in the dryer of socks and underwear because who wants stiff undies? Don't go there...

No Air Conditioning - After fixing our attic we think we might be able to better endure the summer without A/C. It will help that now our attic actually vents (long story that would be nice to keep in the past).  With a few fans, well positioned windows, and lots of popsicles we'll be golden.  We might need to turn the A/C on if we have a showing on a really hot day, but then again maybe we need to show off our awesomely vented attic!

No Dishwasher - This one is up there on the list of me whining about it, but I need to get used to it. The dishwasher, the dryer, and the vacuum are some of the highest energy consumers in the house.  We have come to love Mr. Electricity's Website . He thinks against the norm and promotes alternatives to energy consumption.  We love that kind of thinking. 

New phone system - We have been considering getting something like the Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service.  The idea stems from us having to have our PC on all day long so that our Magic Jack phone would be on.  The Ooma system is connected into your network, but does not have to go through the computer.  This would save us a few bucks by not having the PC on all day. I think we can transfer our current magic jack number somehow too. This is definitely an option that we are looking into.

- I'm not sure how much this is a money saver as much as it's just a non-lazy approach to food. We've already begun this, but hopefully we can continue to make good choices regarding our food intake.  Not that we have to only get beans and rice, but to be thoughtful in our calorie/fat consumption and try to put veggies into our bodies that are full of great nutrients.  I'm not a minimalist when it comes to food. If we eat a lot of the right stuff, we gain energy to keep our bodies going, which I believe is a natural motivator for the rest of life's activities.

There it is.  Don't expect me to keep it perfectly now, although I would like to go a whole month without those conveniences just to say that I did it.  I will give it the good ole college try.

You people have yet to find out how badly I have princess syndrome. Going off grid will be gruesomely good for me! :)

March 14, 2011

Prepping house for sale

Here are the things we have to do to prep our house for the market.  We haven't even decided on listing with a realtor yet, but we figure we need to get things cleaned up really well to make things easier later on.

- Declutter
- Fix exterior plumbing issues
- Keep selling stuff on craigslist, have a garage sale, or bring to a consignment store.
- Organize storage
- Clean up garage
- Paint a few things/rooms
- Plant a few annuals

Today we had a meeting with a short sale negotiator with a local Realtor.  They are very good at what they do and it may be the route we take in selling our home. We've already listed it on some FSBO sites. I think we should maybe wait a week or two before starting the short sale process, which usually takes 4-6 months anyway. We just hope to not have to pay the bank too much after selling the house. We'll just be happy to almost be out of that silly mortgage situation.

As far as temporary housing we have discussed some options, but will cross that bridge when we get to it. Hopefully my future posts will focus a little more on ideas for our dream home/land.

March 13, 2011

De-cluttering Checklist for Home sale

We have watched enough home improvement and real estate shows.  When selling your home the first thing to do is de-clutter.  We' have already done a lot of our de-cluttering and have sold a lot on craigslist.  I still plan to go through the checklist I created to make the house look spotless. I may need to do it a couple times while our home is listed so it will be handy to have.

Here is my checklist in case you find yourself surrounded by clutter.  You can do it, too, one step at a time!

Home de-cluttering and simple deep cleaning checklist room by room
Prior to beginning your de-cluttering choose a place in the house where you will bring items to sell or giveaway.

Dump all clothes on bed
Sort in two piles “keep” and “give away/sell”
Neatly put away clothes/accessories, perhaps even color coding your closet.
Take all things off closet shelves and put on bed
Sort in two piles “keep” and “giveaway/sell”
Place “keep” pile back into closet
Take all decorations and picture frames off dressers/shelves and place on bed
Sort items by “keep” and “giveaway/sell” again
Place “keep” items back on dressers or find another place in the house
Remove any items that do not belong in the bedroom (i.e.  giveaway/sell piles)
Dust the room
Sweep ceiling and walls for cobwebs
Clean floor
Put on clean sheets and fluff up the pillows
Light a candle or spray some air freshener
Additional suggestions for children’s bedrooms:
Use plastic bins to sort kid’s clothes by size
Sort (keep/sell) and organize by size/seasonal clothes in drawers and closet
Store any unseasonal toys or clothes in plastic bins
Store unneeded clothes and take giveaway/sell pile to determined spot
Arrange toys and furniture on outside walls

Take out all items out of bathroom and place on table or kitchen/living floor(caution with kids or pets)
Sort in “keep” or “give away/sell” piles
Take giveaway/sell pile to determined spot
Open window and steam/spray whole bathroom
Clean Toilet
Sanitize whole bathroom and polish faucets
Wash/replace shower curtain
Place “keep” pile neatly back into drawer and cabinets
Fold towels neatly

Determine which cupboards need reorganization or sorting
Empty and sort each cabinet one at a time into “keep” and “giveaway/sell” piles
Wipe down shelves if needed
Place items back in cupboards neatly
Take all items off counters and question which is necessary to keep on (less is best for de-cluttering, especially for sale of a home.) Perhaps you will only keep out appliances you use on a daily basis such as coffee maker and toaster.
Wipe down the outsides of all cabinets
Clean and polish sink, stove, and other appliances exterior
Clean interior of microwave
Take old food out of fridge and make some sort of rhyme or reason of the food (produce in drawers, cheese/dairy on bottom shelf, leftovers on top shelf, etc…)

Kitchen (cont’d)
To deep clean the fridge take all items off first shelf, take the shelf out, shut fridge, clean shelf in sink, dry well, and return to fridge along with the food. Repeat with other shelves.
Sanitize counters, faucets, appliance handles, and table/chairs
Sweep and mop kitchen floor
If there are any decorations/pictures dust and sort as you did in the other rooms.
Light a candle or spray Air freshner

Living Room
Place on the couch all decorations, pictures, movies, cds, etc… that are not on the walls.  Choose some to store or giveaway/sell.
Dust and put “keep” pile back on shelves
Place giveaway/sell pile in designated spot in the house.
Clean couch and chairs
Dust lamps, electronics, furniture, etc…
Clean the floor
Light a candle or spray air freshener

Pull out all items into one pile (papers, magazines, catalogs, bills that need filing)
Organize papers into piles (i.e. recycle, good coupons, “to file”, magazines to keep)
Place sorted papers where they belong on the desk
Any items that are not used on a daily basis should be placed in drawers or box nearby
Dust Computer and Desk and clean the monitor
For bookshelves, choose books you would like to read in the next year. Store all other books in plastic bins.  Use extra space for small decorations or pictures
Sort any other items in “keep” or “giveaway/sell” piles and remove any items from room that do not belong