Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From A - Z {Alpha to Zucchini} ~ A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle ~ Entry #2


{Entry #1 is shared here, titled A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle}
{Entry #2 is shared here, titled "From Beautiful Books to Blueberries"}

Each journey has different beginnings. Our personal journey toward a home-grown, debt-free lifestyle started with one word, "simplifying". Ladies, many of us have too much and think we need even more! Frugality is at its finest when we are not swimming in chaos and clutter. It is like the woman who is dressed tastefully and yet you can't put your finger on exactly what she was wearing. You just remember she wasn't gaudy or over-done, she was classy. And as downsizing is often necessary in order to live within one's means, let's start with the simplification process and how it relates with our humble version of the "shabby chic" frugal farm lifestyle.


When we moved into our old homestead, space was significantly smaller. We sold off one-half of our household belongings in order to fit into the farmhouse! Why buy something so small you might ask? Small was our budget and therefore small was our home :) It is embarrassing and sad how much one can accumulate that one does not really need. In our case, every time someone gave something away in the family, they thought of us and I had a hard time saying "no".



"A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more you own, the more "it" owns you in the form of time spent cleaning it, storing it and maintaining it. This lifestyle is not about accumulating things, rather it is about appreciating and maintaining with love, everything you do have. Do you remember Ma Ingall's prized possession of the shepherdess? She had little but made a big deal out of the little. This is what makes something precious, quality and not quantity.



"The key lies in simply weeding out the unnecessary, trusting your instincts about what is comfortable and practical, noticing details..."
~ Rachel Ashwell, Shabby Chic

I know that many times we can fall into the trap of thinking we need mounds of money to make our home appealing and beautiful. However, let's begin with the truth of the matter, the real "pretty" is practicality and order. For a home to be cozy, it needs to be somewhat tidy and clean. Having a organized home without excess distractions is better than any decoration at all (in my opinion). In fact, a clean home is decoration in itself!*

*Note: Although I do say that (and mean that) about an orderly home, I realize that we women do like to fluff our nests! I will be sharing some of the frugal ways I have done so in a future post.



"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know
to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
~ William Morris, Victorian Era English Designer

For those of you that want change and don't know where to start, I suggest that you remove any decorations, dust-collectors, small appliances, odds and ends, etc., that you do not use and love and put them in a box labeled "garage sale". If you find that you have lived without these items in one year, feel at peace to sell them or donate them. It is best to start off with a clean slate as clutter is not clean nor beautiful nor frugal. As a fellow friend put it, real estate in your home is valuable space! 

"... if the cost of your house per square foot is $100, every plastic bag of clutter is worth $100 of real estate! Now, that's real estate investment!"
~ Mrs. Laura Lane, Harvest Lane Cottage


We can live in smaller homes and within our means if we rid ourselves of the excess. For example, many moons ago we ditched our microwave. It took up valuable "real estate" on our kitchen counter and I was also quite leery of its safety (to be honest). We also let go of the toaster oven (we found the broiler on the oven did just as well) and the waffle maker (we made pancakes more than anything and I never did like cleaning the waffle maker). I sold many of our individual small appliances (i.e., juicer, blender, food processor) and used the money to buy the attachments to such things on our Bosch mixer. This saved us much more space than housing the individual units! 



Now that we have touched a bit on the "alpha" (simplifying and downsizing), it is time to talk zucchini. I did mention this would be random writings! And if any of you have a garden, then you know this topic is inevitable! You are probably swimming in it. But there is a bit more to it (the nitty-gritty so to speak), it is about using what you have.



You see, this new life taught me that having something like coconut oil in the pantry is not a necessity but a luxury (as much as I love it!). In fact, the grocery list is a luxury when one is trying to homestead on a budget. I don't take certain things on our grocery list for granted anymore. Though it isn't as tight as it was in those first few years, I still very much need to keep a watchful eye on household expenses because there is always winter here on the farm! There are some weeks that what the garden produces is what we need to eat. It isn't about what is in the supermarket but what is in our back yard. And so, "shabby chic" meals were created.

Though this meal was the simplest ever, my husband marveled at it because it was presented with love on pretty dishes! 

One day it was a bag of potatoes and a beautiful harvest of squash. I steamed the potatoes and placed a pile on each of our prettiest dinner plates. I drizzled them with the olive oil we had purchased during our last sale of hay. This we reserve for foods that don't require cooking, to serve it raw, to receive the health benefits. This is now a treat for us to have and I use it sparingly and with much appreciation. I sautéed mounds of zucchini and layed them proudly upon each plate of potatoes. I clipped a bouquet of our parsley, chopped it coarsely and scattered it atop. The last bit was a final sprinkle of dried herbs, nutritional yeast seasoning (I would have loved parmesan cheese!) and sea salt. It was a humble little meal but made with affection. The idea here is, plain food can be made fancy with a bit of love!

Having an herb garden is also very helpful. It gives meals that gourmet feeling without spending a penny and adds nutrition. Parsley grows like weeds and can be sprinkled atop anything to make it special.

I fear that all the magazines and fancy food blogs have created more work and has overwhelmed the homemaker. We think we must make certain meals! Each dish has to have a name which everyone can recognize as a food. For instance, we had "tacos" tonight, or we had "lasagna" tonight. Not many are proud to say, "we had squash over potatoes" tonight. Is there even such a menu? Perhaps not, but for those who are trying to practice frugality, we must often-times make this stuff up depending on what we have.

These breaded zucchinis may be an appetizer on a restaurant menu, however, they are the main course in our home. Served with a green salad and our farm-raised hard boiled eggs, this is filling, frugal and satisfying. 

There are many things we may need want that will get ignored on the grocery list for awhile. But when the day comes when the tractor (aka hubby) brings in another paycheck, we will rejoice at the fulfillment of the list. And we will appreciate everything the more that is placed in our pantry! These foods are like embellishments. Sometimes we have a bit more to add, sometimes a bit less. In between, our God given creativity will guide and inspire us on how to make do.



But back to the zucchini. The one year my zealous husband planted 38 plants (that is a story in itself and I barely lived to tell it), that was the "meat" of our meals. I had to be creative to prepare them differently each night to appeal to everyone because that is what we had to work with! It wasn't meal planning around what our family was accustomed to eating, it was about learning to like to eat and planning around what we had. Traditional dishes were not in the budget because they would cost money to create. Here I had zucchini to work with that was homegrown, organic and free.

Zucchini was dehydrated for the winter to put into soups and sauces, blanched and frozen in serving-sized pieces and when time is an issue, it is shredded and frozen in a flash! Our favorite method of preserving zucchini for the future is to make and freeze quiche fillings in freezer bags. This we simply dump into homemade pie shells and serve with whatever vegetables we have growing at the time. All of these preparations help lower the grocery bill and are a blessing during the slow winters.
Preserving meals for the future does take work on one day, but think of the ease on the day you will reap from it! Though I normally limit myself to one cup of coffee in the morning, on days like this, when I need to tackle an additional project, I lure myself in with an afternoon cup of coffee. For I will not lie, I do get tired and it does take energy and effort (but again), like the Good Book says, "In all labor, there is profit". 

So, this is how we ate zucchini for a month and through the long cold winter (via what we preserved). All of these meals were very thrifty to make and yet they were all delicious because they were made from scratch. Simple foods are tasty when prepared with fresh and seasonal ingredients! 



"That's the way Great-grandmother did it. She looked in the larder, the cellar and then took a walk through the garden to see what she had. And then she made menus for the next couple days."

I suppose the moral of the story is thinking outside of the menu-planning box. We need to look around at what we have growing (or what is on "special" if you haven't a garden or means to plant one due to living in an apartment, etc.). "Normal" menu ideas can be very expensive when you need to purchase every single ingredient that goes into them. Ma Ingalls did not survive like that. Her food revolved around very basic, bulk pantry ingredients and what they had growing or preserved. For instance, here zucchini is the main dish. As it is both the "free" ingredient and "main" ingredient, with a bit of flour and a few eggs, we can prepare a variety of pleasing and thrifty meals with them!



Well, it is time for me to step away from the computer and enter the "real world" called "home". I am out of breath! I didn't realize how much one could speak about squash. My apologies, my next post will be shorter I hope! I am wondering what ideas you have to share on these random topics of simplifying and zucchini? Have a lovely week!
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making Mondays, Modest Mom Monday's, Monday's Musings, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Good Morning Mondays, The Scoop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist, Raising Homemakers, Wise Woman Link Up, Homestead Blog Hop, Wow Us Wednesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Homemaking Thursdays, Home Sweet Home, Our Simple Homestead, Awesome Life Friday Link Up, Five Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). Special thanks to Antique Images (for the first image) and The Graphics Fairy for the label.

45 comments:

  1. Hi Jes!

    I have decided that it takes a lot of effort to achieve a simple life, and each step made is very worthwhile! We are still in the process, and constantly learning and discovering simpler ways!

    I loved seeing the hay and kitchen garden that your husband tends. They're really wonderful!!

    As for appliances, I always think of electricity consumption (being Down Under, where power is dear), so love cooking items that can be used on (or in the firebox of!) the wood fire, or outdoors on picnics. This includes quality French enamelled cast iron pots, a light camp oven of spun steel, a stainless steel billy (which is wonderful for cooking rice) and camping cookware ..... and an 'ecobilly' which heats water using leaves and sticks as fuel! I have an op shop hand beater (as well as an electric immersion blender and small processor bowl kit) and other hand tools. My husband is designing our new barbecue plate for cooking potato-choko (which makes it creamier) cakes with olive oil, when potatoes come down in price. (Chokoes are used similarly to zucchini!) I make our own olive oil hot potato chips in an old saucepan on a portable gas bottle, and could manage this over a fire now, too. I thrive on all this. It's both satisfying and relaxing!!

    Now this might make you laugh! Sometimes, we steam a whole cauliflower (& only cauliflower) and eat it with cheese sauce. We love it!! Also, just the other day, I crumbed comfrey leaves and fried them. This depression era food is nourishing, and goes by the name of 'comfrey fish'. We ate it with raw, thin-leaved dandelion greens and mashed potato (the meal mostly cooked on the fire). Yesterday, I cooked pumpkin, in its own steam, inside a buttered enamelled cast iron pot. Half of this was mixed into a very moist damper (a basic baking powder bread) that baked on coals of the firebox, inside the light spun steel camp oven. We could tell when it was cooked by the aroma from the flu outdoors!!

    If you like to simplify life, then you would likely make a fair dinkum Aussie!

    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

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    1. Hi Rachel, thank you for sharing all these creative ideas! We did some experimenting with over the fire cooking when we first moved in. You inspired me to try once again! We have an indoor BBQ pit in our sun room which is our go-to in case of emergency. And let me say, I am NOT laughing at the cauliflower! Throw in a salad and that would be a meal for us also. Especially as we get a fair crop of cauliflower. Our favorite is steaming them with broccoli and carrots, adding some butter and herbs for a steamed veggie platter. We have made nettle soup in the past from foraged greens which was fun also. Those pots you mentioned sound handy. I will have to keep a look out! Have a wonderful week :)

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  2. Please don't make your next post shorter! This is just what I needed to read. My mom used to say that about "the more things you own, the more they own you." Thanks for the reminder. And I am with you all the way about setting a gracious table. I think the family feels the love we pour into making something for them. God bless you for putting into words our deepest thoughts! Janis

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    1. Thank you Janis for sharing a bit of your heart here today! I appreciate these comments dearly. Have a lovely week! :)

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  3. What a wonderful and enjoyable post. I really enjoyed it. We too, moved to the country this summer. We had lived in our former house for 35 yrs. We had to really downsize, and I dont miss it at all.. The house is so much easier to keep , with less "stuff' . smile.
    Had to laugh at the zucchini gardening. We had so many zucchini last summer, I couldn't give them away.. We eat squash every way ,you can think of.. We stll laugh about our over abundance and what a blessing it was and how at the time, I thought I would never get out from under zucchini.lol God is good, He supplies what we need.

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    1. Great point Judy about the house being easier to keep! I find that very true! And I am so very there with you about the zucchini... I was getting a 5 gallon bucket every day!!! Happy harvesting! :)

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  4. I agree with "Our Old Paths Home"...please don't make your next post shorter {{smiles}} Once again, you have blessed and encouraged me, sweet JES. Thank you for your sweet testimony and your desire to help others.

    Hugs to you!

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    1. And thank you for the kindness and sweetness you sprinkle yourself! :)

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  5. I love and appreciate this, thank you! I have a son who is vey allergic to eggs and milk and nuts, this often makes it difficult to be frugal in the usual ways, I don't know if I how I do things is frugal, but I try and I try to learn other ways. I can't make quiche or hard boiled eggs, or add a scrambled egg to fried rice for cheap and easy proteins.

    I do so enjoy your blog. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to share here today! Have you ever tried using the bean purees to fortify the foods? It is difficult dealing with the food allergies. We have been dealing with some issues in our home that has challenged us and caused changes in our menu lately too. Perhaps some of our dairy free/egg free readers will be able to offer some ideas...

      Have a lovely week! :)

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    2. I have not tried adding bean purée, thanks for the tip!

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    3. Jes - It's also valuable to know that organic OR old household flannel/towelling cloths (which have had chemicals washed out over time during their use as wash cloths, towels, etc) can make a huge difference for 'women's problems', instead of commercial purchases. Joybilee Farm has interesting information on this. I find there is a mystery behind current food allergies, and they are booming around us. I even learnt that certified organic grains here are kept in silo with diatomaceous earth, which kills pests by its sharpness. We are dubious about the effect this has on our insides. I am sympathetic with your household's current dietary challenges!

      Regards,
      Rachel Holt

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    4. Thank you for sharing that Rachel and for your kind sentiments! I have heard of the women's frugal and probably healthier solution awhile back and have been mulling that information over. It is such a drastic change that I haven't been able to make a commitment on it! I will check out the web source you mentioned! As far as the food allergies go, I agree. I think our generation is finally the fruit of all the un-godly growing practices of the last few decades! Or perhaps ever since WWII when the rationing started and replacement foods like Crisco were created... When butter became margarine and so forth! This is why raising our own food is also important to us.

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  6. Loved this post! And I think most of us would benefit greatly from a bit more doing on less and using our imaginations on more interesting yet simple meals. I would love to cook simpler meals and would revel in soups and simple fare everyday, but Goodman grew up with full meals and expects meat and potato type meals most days. My only recourse is to make those as healthy as I can. ;)

    We do plan to down-size drastically when he retires to an even smaller house. Our little brick farmhouse is small by most standards, but we want to trim the house down even more. And I'm really tired of dusting things I once thought I loved. o.O It's so easy to fill every corner with things we don't need.
    Hope you're having a great week!

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    1. Yes, I understand. You would have to add a side of beef to the potato/zucchini menu. I also came from a meat/potato family but married into a vegetarian one so I get away with a lot more. I am just thankful my hubby does eat meat! :) Also, being he wants to economize, he is willing to expand his horizons. But it must be tasty and filling as he is a hard worker! :)

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  7. Your zucchini story is hilarious! You handled it very graciously! I would have probably cried while I pounded a fresh zucchini for sale sign in the front yard and then prayed the Lord would send someone who was desperate for zucchini! Or I would have bartered! Anything to get out from under that much zucchini! Lol! But you handled it beautifully I must say!:)

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    1. Ummm.. not always gracious... It was a hot and humid summer with no air conditioning, I was getting a 5 gallon bucket every day that stared at me, defying me to break down!!! And there was a few tears shed when I finally ran out of freezer space... P.S. We did take a few crates down to the local produce seller who was already inundated with squash himself :)

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  8. I really enjoy your blog, and have especially enjoyed this new shabby chic topic, and today's squash writing was really well done! No need to make it shorter, it was quite interesting. I am paraphrasing Thoreau; a man's freedom can be measured by the things he can do without. Very similar to your Emerson quote and both are true. Thank you for taking the time to write on this topic.

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    1. Thoreau is also a treasure of "simplifying" quotes! Thank you for sharing that one as well (and for taking the time to comment in general!). Thank you for the encouragement and I hope you have a lovely weekend! :)

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  9. This is a very wonderful and real post and I loved every word !
    When I was about 7 , my family of 5 subsisted on nothing but zucchini for 3 months ! We had the smallest amount of flour which my mom used to fry them, like you have pictured above, we had a bit of oil to fry them in ( I believe it was a can of white crisco ) We had fallen on hard times and so my mom got really creative! Those times( some not so harsh but still very humble ) still stick with me. ( now 40 years old ) I learned to cook without a recipe because we often did not have half of the things listed..haha. My friends are so amazed how I whip stuff up by throwing this and that from the pantry and fridge and making a tasty meal,like you have shown here , to me it's second nature. Sometimes as adult we need to grab a new perspective on "thin" times. It's really such a good life lesson for our kids , learning to do without and not get too spoiled ! This Post is a good lesson and reminder to me as well to be content and make the best of it. The beautiful way you arranged the fried zucchini on the platter makes all the difference. It makes it fancy and looks like a deluxe meal ! Attitude and presentation of the food ( or home ) makes such a difference. Thanks JES for opening up your heart. You are blessing so many with your blog. Leticia Justus
    ( I found something the other day that I have had for about 30 years. It was in my sewing cupboard , as soon as I saw it I thought of you , its small but I really think it's YOU . Please give me your address so that I can send it to you. Here is my email to leave your address llwjustus@gmail.com ) I hope that you will allow me to bless you with a small gift.

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    1. Dear Leticia, thank you for sharing your wonderful and encouraging memories with us! That is such a blessing to hear! :) I will be emailing you shortly... Love, JES

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  10. Dear JES,
    I really loved this post. Last year I decluttered my whole house and any unused items I sold and put towards extra mortgage payments. The house seemed so much larger after doing this! What an abundance of zucchini you had! We are currently growing kale and have so much of it! Of course I am super happy and grateful as this is like free food, but I am running out of ideas of what to do with it! xx

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    1. Hi Mel, that is so very true! Our houses grow bigger when we let go of the excess baggage and that is a very big blessing! We also grew kale for the first time and have put it in egg casseroles, quiches, end of the garden soup (I will share link below), in pasta sauces and of course we made the kale chips I have read so much about (they were good!). Thank you for taking the time to share! I love hearing back from the other side of the screen! :)

      http://strangersandpilgrimsonearth.blogspot.com/2015/10/end-of-garden-soup-sabbath-soup.html

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  11. Oh this post is Fabulous. I bought Zucchini yesterday and tried to fry and it was mushy. I want to try the fritters. The salad looked good with the potatoes (haven't met a potato I didn't like) but Cowboy wouldn't eat the Z that way. Anyway. Loved this.
    I saw you came by my old blog. I was hopping you were looking for the party link. A couple of people did that. The party is here:
    http://mychristmasjourney.blogspot.com/2016/08/2016-fabulous-fall-party.html
    See you there!

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    1. Sorry to hear about the mushy zucchini! I think you will like the fritters and maybe even your cowboy! :) And thank you for the kind invitation Sherry! Have a lovely week!

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  12. Dear JES...oh, how I would love to meet you! This afternon my dear momma said to me, ''Have you read her new post? It is amazing...go read it NOW!''. And so I did! Oh, your words blessed, challenged and motivated me in so many ways... I will confess I love gourmet cooking and considered studying to become a chef...but the Lord had different plans! He is now revealing how I can go about cooking beautiful, gourmet meals with very little and ''plain'' ingredients with some creativity, prayer and a good attitude! Also, He has shown me that the garden must be my key focus while I am blessed to be at home...so my bitty patch is not sufficient! Our family are in agreement that we need to get more serious and extend our current vegetable patch...I want to thank you for sharing...your words have been the topic of conversation around here for the last couple hours!
    And by the way, I think your meal was ever so pretty...made with love, served on a beautiful dish and the presentation was just stunning!
    Ah, very inspiring! Thank you, JES! May the Lord continue to bless and keep you and your family!
    Hugs!

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    1. Dear Kelly-Anne, thank you for sharing enthusiasm on these topics! You have got me excited and inspired by it! How often I thought that these kinds of things were of interest to only the little world of my own making. I am so thrilled to find others with the same lifestyle. May God bless your whole family and your next harvest! :)

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  13. Oh I love this post!!! Simple is the way we do things here. Our meals are not five course fancy restaurant style but our bellies are full and we're happy so all is well. Ma Ingalls inspired me a lot in the realm of making do. You know the saying,"Use it up, make it do, or do without." That's our motto:) If we run out of milk I refuse to run to the grocery store for more (sadly we rely on that right now instead of a four legged critter in the backyard...one day though); Water works in a jiffy. “The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.” Great oost! :)

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    1. Exactly! I think the same way in that area! There are many ways to make do. And I love the quote and had it here before, I think "Erma Bombeck"? So very true!!! :)

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  14. Thanks for another great post, Jes. I haven't had a lot of success with zucchini as ours get powdery mildew but what a great harvest you have over there. You really are amazing.

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    1. Oh dear, sounds like your zucchini is our "tomato"! We haven't gotten a good harvest in years!! I think we all have that one plant that either doesn't like our soil or perhaps our weather... As far as "amazing" goes, it is my husband with the green thumb! :) I think the only thing that grows for me is lavender, mint and other easies :) Thank you for your visit and have a lovely week!

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  15. Jes, bless you for sharing your testimony. It's filled with heart-lived truth and we all need that kind of reality check; a reminder that we CAN live with less, and that the Lord is faithful - SO VERY FAITHFUL - to provide. xxxx

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  16. This was a wonderful post Jes. I have far to go in my real estate investment, but I am making progress. I hope to have a yard sale in the next few weeks.

    I am so glad you addressed the issue of cooking with what you have instead of making menus then buying everything. Doing with whatcha got makes more $ sense.

    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Laura

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    1. Yard sales are excellent! They help to reduce the household excess while bringing in a bit extra to apply where really needed. I hope it goes well!! :)

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  17. JES - so much has been said already, but I wanted to add that I loved this post. It was encouraging to me... in many ways.

    We have had our home in boxes for well over a year, everything we own does not fill a 10 x 10 storage unit... when the time comes for us to have a place of our own again, small will be the size and by the Grace of God, there will be a garden. :)

    Again - thank you!

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    1. That sounds like a beautiful plan Andi! Thank you for sharing! :)

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  18. I just love your blog! It's so charming! I'm really glad I found it through the Blog Hop. I really appreciate your attitude towards simplicity and thrift. It's inspiring!

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    1. Thank you Michelle for taking the time to comment and encourage! We are glad to have you visit here :)

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  19. 38 Zucchini plants! Oh my! I needed a laugh today, so thank you. That reminds me of when a young friend of mine planted something like 20 tomato plants because he thought each plant only grew 2-3 tomatoes. You can imagine his surprise when he was drowned in tomatoes!

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    1. Oh my-- is right! On some of those hot humid days, it felt like a death sentence :) But we lived through it and were blessed with free food! :) And so was the whole state...

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  20. I agree with some of your other commenters. Please don't make your next post shorter! So much good encouragement! Thank you for taking the time to write in the midst of all you do. :)

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    1. Thank you Yvette for the encouragement! It means a lot! Have a lovely week! :)

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  21. My husband and I moved to the country 11 years ago after he retired. I have been a "stuff" collector for many years and I am trying desperately to thin things out. I love your posts. They are quite encouraging.

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    1. Thank you Cindy! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage here today! :)

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