the barefoot budget

unconventional grit for a mindful life


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Homesteading in Small Spaces: The Homestead Mindset

One year ago we moved from our suburbany townhome into an 1800’s Victorian smack dab in the middle of town. As many of you know, we had originally wanted to purchase a house, but the stars wouldn’t align. So we made the financially right decision to delay home-buying and took action to at least get closer to the life we want. Andrew wanted to be closer to bars, restaurants, and shops. I wanted to be in walking or biking distance of my office. We broke our lease and moved into town.

Just because we didn’t buy a house doesn’t mean we gave up on homesteading. It’s just a different approach, one that I’ve been exploring and have found both exciting and frustrating. I got a lot of positive feedback on the last ‘Homesteading in Small Spaces’ post I did that talked about creative gardening solutions. Today I am continuing that series and discussing the value of the ‘homestead mindset’ – something that takes no space whatsoever.

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My Herbs Arrived!

For Christmas last year, Andrew gave me a Rosemary Gladstar classic- Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. I read it cover to cover and then some! After studying it carefully, and learning more about herbalism from other sources, I finally decided I was ready to dive in. I made two big orders of organic herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals. Both packages came in the mail this week, and I was jumping for joy telling Andrew how excited I was to start making *potions*.

I picked out a number of recipes from the book, and ordered the herbs I needed accordingly. I have an anxiety disorder as well as chronic headaches, so I focused on nerve tonics and immune system tonics. I also ordered plenty of herbs for homemade beauty products, including herbal shampoos and hair rinses, face washes, and salves.

I whipped up my first few batches of goodies! First, I made a ACV hair rinse with calendula, chamomile, and comfrey to encourage blonde highlights. Look how pretty the herbs look in the mason! They smelled amazing.

I also made Rosemary’s Miracle Grains, which are a facial cleanser made with ground almonds, white clay, and a variety of herbs. I used to use the ‘Herbalism’ face wash from Lush, which I loved, and I am hoping the Miracle Grains will be a fine replacement. So far so good! I mixed up a toner called ‘The Queen of Hungary’s Water’ which consists of a plethora of herbs left to sit for a few weeks in ACV, then mixed with witch hazel extract.

I was unfortunately and uncharacteristically sick this week, and made a couple teas from the book. Yesterday I was floored. I took one advil and drank a vitamin-C tonic made of rose hips, hibiscus, lemongrass, and cinnamon all day long and feel much better today.

Yay herbs!


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Football Witch


This is a picture of my desk, and this picture is the epitome of me.

A few weeks back, I cut, washed, and hung big bundles of mint and nettle to dry. I like to hang them all over the house for fragrance. Seeing them all over evokes that nice witchy feeling and feels cozy in our small space – like herbs are stuffed into every corner.
After a few weeks of drying, the herbs turn brittle and are ready to be put up. I make a space on my messy desk to separate leaves and buds from tough stems, then to crumble all the medicinal plant parts into labeled mason jars that go onto my makeshift apothecary.


My apothecary is a shelf in the middle of our beautiful oak bookshelf, and it somehow feels right that the herbs are nestled between VHS tapes of the Matrix and The Blues Brothers, but also The Critique of Pure Reason and Harry Potter. It’s me. It’s us.

My fantasy football lineup serves as my altar for harnessing my herbs. Alongside sit everything from my heavily highlighted and dog eared copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living to coloring books to black metal stickers to old issues of Audobon and National Geographic that I use for making collages. All the while I’m singing along to the supreme pop of Ruby the Rabbitfoot. There is nothing solemn about it but it fees sacred in my own special way.


I’ve spent a lot of energy in my life comparing myself to others, especially via the internet. Other people have always seemed to have it more together than me, and their lives have seemed more beautiful and happy in general. I am trying to stop thinking this way by celebrating the unique things that make me – me. My home doesn’t look like it’s out of a Tumblr blog and my garden doesn’t look like a magazine cover. My spaces aren’t perfect or Instagram-worthy. But they are mine. They feel like mine, and they reflect the unique person that I am. After all, there’s only one football witch.


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The Natural Progression, or Getting My Life Back


To me, the heart of homesteading is regaining control over my life – control over what I consume, control over my impact on this planet, and control over how I spend my time. I’m 27 and I’m transitioning from a Standard American Lifestyle to a self-reliant lifestyle. I’ve been stuck in the middle for two years now, only an infant in this journey to retire early, live off the land, and teach others how to live simply, sustainably, and in sync with the environment. Days are long, full, and stressful, attempting to balance the lifestyle I want with the demands of my paid employment, relationship, and personal health. I’m still learning and having growing pains, and I hope to one day be able to stabilize the balance. Because the problem is, once you take up this lifestyle, there’s no going back. At least for me there’s not.

There’s a natural progression to this lifestyle, a progression that has no end goal or pinnacle. I want to talk about bread because I LOVE bread. I used to buy a loaf of store-bought bread every week and I didn’t dare read the ingredient label because ignorance is bliss. One Christmas, my mom gave me a bread machine. I started cranking out loaves of white bread on a regular basis. I loved my bread machine for a couple years – it was easy, no fuss, and I got to see the ingredients for myself. But the loaves always came out kinda misshapen and bland. I decided to venture into homemade bread, kneaded by hand and baked in the oven. I used the cheapest flour I could find, which usually came in $5/ 50 pound bags from Costco. As much as I wanted homemade bread for taste, I also wanted to save a buck.

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Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake

We’ve been getting tons of blueberries from the farm through our CSA. I’ve made muffins, biscuits, and smoothies with them, and was starting to run out of ideas. I was perusing Colleen’s badass blog Grow Forage Cook Ferment and came across this recipe for Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake from Quinn Veon of Reformation Acres‘s book Cake Stand. Seeing as Andrew handed down a household dictum a few nights prior to start baking more in the cast iron, I knew I had to try it.

Now, I don’t like to bake. I do bread, but that’s about it. I don’t like eating sweet foods, especially anything with refined sugars and flours. Baking makes a mess. And I generally don’t have the patience required to measure everything out and do all the steps in perfect order.

This must have been the perfect recipe for me because damn, that is by far the prettiest thing I have ever baked in my entire life. I often forget that half the fight is finding nutritious ways to put up the harvest. To make this baking project healthier, I used whole wheat flour and left out the white sugar, adding some extra raw honey to compensate. I also used 0% Fage greek yogurt for a big protein boost. I whipped this thing up in 15 minutes and cleaned up in 5. I’m so proud, I had to share it on my blog!

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The Barefoot Home, Part 2: Hiatus

This is the second part in The Barefoot Home series: a series detailing my adventures in buying my first home and turning it into a homestead. Part 1 can be found here.

Life is crazy – you know that. I’m not buying a house this year. It’s just not meant to be. The market is too difficult. I don’t have the time and energy to flip a home that’s in god awful condition (basically everything in my price range). I’m only 5 months into my new job, and as it’s a newly created position, I’m busting my ass trying to get it off the ground. It’s sucking all my time and energy, but I’m making serious progress and need to stick with that. And as I have shared a bit of on this blog, I’ve been going through a lot of personal stuff and I’m not in the best place to make a monumental decision like buying a home. Phew! Glad that’s off my chest.

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Almost

I’m living perpetually on the edge of being where I want to be. We almost have our housing situation figured out. My job is almost getting easier. We almost have our little homestead running smoothly.

Almost means things are messy. We have pressuring cookers and home brewing equipment teetering on top of kitchen cabinets because we have nowhere else to store it. We have a cubic yard of potting soil tarped on our back porch, waiting for amendments. We have more half read books than anyone I know. I kinda like it this way.

It’s difficult because this life doesn’t feel real yet. We cook, homebrew, ferment, bake, grow, dry, preserve, sew, mend, compost, and make. But we don’t have land, chickens, rabbits, goats, or a real garden and that’s unbelievably hard for me. Not an hour of a day goes by that I don’t daydream about quitting my job and finding a way to buy a farm and make it work. I need a playground that belongs to me to put all these practices and ideas into motion. Only then will it feel real. Until then, we’re almost there.