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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Eat Yo Veggies

First off, let me say, I got to have Romanesco broccoli for the first time in my life at my parents house last month. This veggie was MADE FOR ME – a math loving vegetarian. I’d been looking for it for years and never was able to find it for a reasonable price. My mom and I found it at Whole Foods in the local produce section!! It lived up to it’s reptuation – nutty, wonderful crunchy texture, and beautiful. C’mon, IT’S A LIME GREEN FRACTAL!

I was talking to a coworker today about diet and they said, ‘you can’t expect someone to eat pounds of vegetables every day!!’ Um, I eat pounds of vegetables, fruits, and legumes everyday. I don’t know how to explain this to people without sounding pompous or pretentious. Eating your veggies shouldn’t be pretentious!

But the sad truth is that most Americans don’t eat their veggies. Veggies are pathetic little sides or non-existent on their plates. Many times, the veggies are highly processed or drenched in butter, fat, oil, cheese, etc. Often, these people come to me asking for diet advice, usually knowing that I’ve lost weight and kept it off. Back then, veggies were side dishes for me too. And like any change that lasts, it took years for me to re-learn how to eat.

I don’t want people to be intimidated by a whole foods diet and feel like it’s out of reach for them. So often, folks think of diet as ‘all or nothing.’ Which is scary, because under this notion small slip ups are punished and folks get discouraged and quit. I eat whole foods 80% of the time and vegan 50% of the time. But you know what, after dinner tonight I ate two – two! – peanut butter chocolate chip cookies choc full of white flour and butter. Hey, at least I bought organic flour and butter!

Old Christine would have beat myself up over this, but you know what? Life is meant to be enjoyed. I find great enjoyment in eating whole foods most of the time, because it gives me energy, vitality, and hope. It makes me feel more alive and confident in myself and my choices. But on the other side of the spectrum, a life without gelato and beer is not a life worth living in my books. Having these things as occasional treats makes them all the more enjoyable for me.

Eat your veggies and you might feel the benefits. Start small by adding something dark and green to your plate. Cook it simply with a bit of olive oil and some pepper. Eat it slowly. That’s how I started. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I honestly started noticing how much better the veggies made me feel than the cheese and carbs. I felt lighter and stronger. So I naturally started putting more and more veggies on my plate and removing most of the dairy and some of the carbs.

Notice how you feel!


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.




artist credit: Roman Cuilla Martinez

Proof yoga works: I had not run for almost three months. Hell, I’d barely been hiking. No cardio. All I’ve been doing for the last three months is yoga every single day. Yesterday, I attended a 5K, hoping to be able to run half. I ran the entire thing with no muscle soreness, no compression, and no cramping. I felt amazing. Boom!

I don’t talk a whole lot about yoga on here, other than stating I practice it, because I don’t feel qualified. I sure can point you to someone who is not only qualified, but gentle, kind, funny, and inspiring – Miss Adriene Mischler. She runs an AWESOME Youtube channel called Yoga With Adriene (YWA), which I’ve mentioned many a time on this blog. Today I want to talk a little more about yoga, the channel, and share my personal experience.

You can read thousands of books and articles on, “what is yoga?” and still walk away knowing very little. I can tell you what yoga is to me though. Yoga is a practice. My practice involves meditation, reflection, self-care, and a physical “asana” practice which is the stretching and movement most of us in the Western world call yoga. As you can see though, that’s only one-forth of the equation. The good news is, for almost everyone, a yoga practice begins with the asana, and then leads into the more intellectual and spiritual aspects. So if you’ve never tried yoga, don’t sweat all the heady stuff! It’s normal to begin with the stretching and let the other aspects develop naturally.

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This has been the year of “I’ve learned.”

I’ve learned that:

I’ve learned how to:

But the number one, most important thing I learned this year is:

dear christine – you can’t do everything at once

Boom. What did y’all learn in 2015?


The End of the Overdoing Era

eastatoe falls, 05.15.15

2015. You were a hard year.

Half of me hates New Years. It all seems so silly – getting worked up for a day just like any other, making resolutions you probably won’t keep, and acting like just because the year is changing, everything will somehow be different. Historically, New Years Eve has always been a shitty disappointment to me. For the last two years, my headaches have been so bad I’ve been relegated to the couch at my parents house. In college, I somehow always ended up alone and pissed off. I’ve come to begrudge NYE.

The other half of me is aching for change. 2015 was a really hard year for us. We both experienced serious physical and mental health issues, and our relationship was tested as a result. There was a lot of fighting, crying, making up, and holding each other, wondering if things would ever improve. I absolutely feel stronger for everything we went through, and haven’t loved Andrew more than I do now, but damn, this was a messy, exhausting year for our personal life.

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Limbo, Mistakes, Intentions, Frustration, and Finally, Some Farm Talk – A Rambling Post

 Every week, I aim to write a concrete post: something tangible about money, or one of my DIY projects. Yet every week, I end up being drawn to write a reflective post. So much of my life is in limbo right now. Switching jobs has meant adjusting to a new schedule and workload, meeting so many new and awesome people. and re-balancing work-fitness-practice-relationships. Also,I’m preparing to buy my first house. Everything in our current home is now impermanent, with a shelf life of 8 months – no more starting big projects, buying equipment/ tools, or altering our home. I’m doing a lot of research and soul-search, and the deeper I go, the more uncertain I feel. All of this change is effecting my finances too. I’m making significantly more than I did before, but I also need to get a down payment squared away. I feel like I’m standing on the brink of real change, waiting, waiting, waiting … All this to say, it’s hard to talk about tangible parts of my life right now.

The funny part is, the tangible posts are the easy ones to write. That’s why there are thousands of hits for, “how to brew beer” or “how to pay off your debt.” What’s hard to write about is the emotional side, the intellectual side, in a way that others can relate to. [Shoutout to our next life for their totally reflective take on personal finance! I think that’s what makes their blog so special :)] I may not be the authority on growing your own food, but I am trying, and experiencing the learning and growing process. I want this blog to not only be an account of my life, but also be useful to others. And right now, I feel that the best way to help is through reflection, not how-to guides.

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