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Are you serious about living a life of freedom? Then you need to invest in yourself. Yes, I mean spend money to learn what you need to learn to achieve that freedom.

The resources I have to offer you

If you’re in debt and/or want to be able to retire much earlier than the mainstream tells you is possible, buy my book Hatching The Nest Egg: Achieve Super-Early Retirement Without Gambling, Side-Gigs, Or An Above-Average Income.

If you know you’re not eating right, and need a nutrition/diet book that culls through all the confusion in the nutrition world, buy Simple Diet, Beautiful You.

If you want to get into a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle, I have two books that will be up your alley: Crazy Simple: 307 Ways To Save Money, Your Health, And The Planet, and Simplicity: Finding Freedom From The Inside Out (this is a book and course in one).

Need a step-by-step guide to achieving a particular dream? Buy Simple Success: Eight Steps To Dream Fulfillment. (Also an e-book course.)

Still looking for your soulmate (finding the right person is a critical part of living a free life!)? Buy my book, No More Broken Hearts: The Low-Stress, Joyful Way To Find Your Soulmate.

Want to get more food freedom? Buy How To Grow Vegetables Without Losing Your Mind.

You will not pay more than $6 for any of those books. If you bought all of them, you would pay under $40.

$3.99 would save you hundreds, even thousands, in future medical bills.

$2.99 would save you untold amounts of money when you apply the frugal living principles in the book.

$2.99 would help you leave the work force and live most of your adult life on your own terms – with more money in a nest egg than many people have even by the time they finish a 40-year career at a job they don’t like.

$5.99 would lead you to the life of your dreams.

If you’re serious about changing your life, you will invest money in books that will help you to do so.

Thanks in advance for checking out those resources! 🙂

Blessings to you,

Emily

 

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Crazy Carrots, And Other Fun Garden Stuff

I’ve heard one “expert” say on a podcast, and another state in a book, that growing carrots isn’t worth it because they’re so cheap at the grocery store. Even the organic ones.

I beg to differ.

Once you figure out how to keep pests from eating just-germinated carrot greens, carrots are relatively easy to grow. And much cheaper than buying them from a store – especially, of course, when you usually buy organic. And like with all food you grow yourself, it’s quite the heady feeling to harvest at least part of your meal from your own backyard or property.

But when you don’t quite thin the babies out the way you’re supposed to, you can end up with some interesting creatures.

Here’s one – er, that is, two – that I pulled up the other day:

In this case, don’t think the problem was that they were too close together, but that one or both decided to grow at a slight diagonal. Usually, when carrots grow too closely they are either both very small (even if the part sticking out of the soil looks like it’s at a mature size), or they end up looking like a pair of legs or a three-legged stool. That is, instead of one decent-sized root, you end up with two or three skinny roots, usually of different lengths. Maybe one day I’ll remember to snap a photo of one of these marvels.

Then there’s this one:

It’s like some obstruction got in its way a few inches under the soil, so it decided to grow wide instead of long.

Other fun garden stuff

Are goji bushes supposed to put off a second crop? Or are mine just being weird this year because of the mild winter?

Ignore the animal skull in the background, heh, heh. (I have a pre-teen son, remember?)

See the blossoms? This, my most productive goji so far, had already blossomed out pretty well in March. Well, can’t complain about a second crop, especially when the young bushes are taking their own sweet time to grow!

Below, a photo of the sweet potato vines going crazy.

Now, this is fun. Last summer, I declared that I was no longer going to water the blackberries. They could die as far as I cared (mostly because I discovered they make me sick to my stomach). But lookee here:

Nature decided to keep them watered this year. Even though I’ve had both bugs and birds snacking on the ripening berries, I was able to harvest a handful the other day. It went into J’s afternoon smoothie, if you must know, you nosey thing, you. 😉

My broccoli plants, which I planted WAY later than I should have, are huge:

The leaves are full of holes because both before we left for Minnesota, and after we came back, I had to remove a bunch of cabbage worms. Also, there’s another kind of weird and colorful bug I’ve never seen before that I think is munching on the leaves, and I know that the grasshoppers like anything from the Brassica family. BUT…I’m still harvesting and cooking the leaves. It takes a while for the florets to form.

My wrath of grapes

Probably my biggest gardening lesson learned this year will be that in humid areas, grapes must be sprayed with a fungicide in the spring, several times, to prevent black rot. *Sigh.* And according to the information I’ve found, once grapes have black rot, you might as well cut down all the vines and bunches of grapes and hope for better luck next year.

So I cut most of the vines down a couple of weeks ago. However, there were two bunches that had mostly mature grapes that looked like they really, really wanted a chance to ripen and bless our tongues with their sweetness. So I left them, just to see what would happen.

Well, so far this bunch looks good:

But this one has had it:

I’m not holding my breath that we’ll have any grapes this year. But the good news is, this vine is quite prolific, and as long as I fertilize it and spray it (with non-toxic stuff, of course!) we should have grapes next year.

My garden update for late June, 2017. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

 

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Should you use sawdust in a “Back To Eden” garden? If you’ve watched the documentary by that name or seen any of the videos of Paul Gautschi on YouTube, you know that the mulch of choice is wood chips. But what if wood chips aren’t easily available to you, and sawdust is? Sawdust is wood, too, right?

Those were my thoughts in early 2016, the thoughts that led us asking the guy who runs the sawmill two miles down the road if we could show up every once in a while and fill up buckets with his inches-deep blanket of sawdust. He ended up scooping it up with a machine for us, and dumping it in what was to become our orchard area.

So, how’s it working for us? Long story short, last year I ended up pulling away the sawdust from all the bushes and from the mulberry trees, and replacing it with wood chips.

Check out this strawberry plant:

It has more sawdust than wood chips mulching it. I took this picture when we hadn’t had much rain for a couple of weeks, and daytime temperatures had been consistently above ninety degrees. Notice the wilting leaves.

Another one. Notice the leaves turning red, a sign of stress in strawberries (if the plants are well-irrigated, this discoloration doesn’t happen until it freezes).

Next, check out these strawberry plants:

The top photo shows plants that are growing in the garden. When we first moved here, I amended the garden soil with spoiled hay, and after planting the strawberry plants, I mulched them with three to four inches of wood chips.

The second photo is a different area where strawberries are growing, a 100-foot-square area I created specifically for growing strawberries, and area which I mulched even more deeply than the garden area. Notice that in both photos, the plants look happy.

The plants that are  not sitting in sawdust.

That said, you might be able to make sawdust work if you mixed it fifty-fifty with grass clippings or cut-up weeds. Probably even a smaller portion of sawdust, since it is, unlike wood chips, so dense and void of any greenery.

In other words, when the chips are down, sawdust might work. But it will never be as good.

Maybe. But then there’s this:

I got THREE strawberry crops this year!

This year, thanks to most of the real winter weather ending sometime in January, a lot of my strawberry plants began flowering in late February and early March. That’s the earliest this has happened since we’ve been here (we’re into our fourth year). As a result, I was able to begin picking strawberries in April.

Yes, I’m talking about my June-bearing plants, not everbearing.

No sooner had that crop just about given out, than the plants began to grow more flowers again! Unfortunately, thanks to the spring rains and not keeping either the orchard or garden secure, this second crop was pretty much a bust. Either critters ate the berries, or they were too moldy to eat.

As I write these words, it’s the third week of June and I took the following photos last week:

Yep, finally June strawberries from my June-bearing plants! And the good news is, after taking this photo I harvested and ate a cup of sweet, delicious ripe berries because we recently secured the orchard to make sure no non-human mammals could get in. The even better news is that, as I write these words, there are still flowers growing, and dozens of little green berries waiting to be July berries!

Here’s the clincher: these berries are from the plants that have sawdust at their bases! Some of the plants in the garden are putting off a third crop, but not nearly in the proportion as the orchard plants. Almost none of the plants in the 100 square-foot area have shown any signs of producing a third crop.

So, what to conclude?

Is the sawdust providing an extra dose of fertilizer? Is it because the plants aren’t as crowded as those in the other two areas?

Or is it just a fluke?

I really can’t say. Maybe I’ll be more certain of the reason next year.

In the meantime, my conclusion is: be careful with sawdust in a Back To Eden garden. It does not have the same characteristics as wood chips.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep the berries from getting moldy…

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A Minnesota Epiphany

Recently, we took a road trip to my native state, Minnesota, to visit with family members we hadn’t seen in five years. I’m not going to complain about it like I did in my other posts about it.

Au contraire. I want to share a life-changing, positive revelation I experienced during one of our last days there. I was standing in the parking lot in front of the retirement community, thinking what a beautiful June day it was. You never know in Minnesota; my sister swears it snowed one year during the first week of June.

But during our visit, the weather was perfect. The best part about it? Low humidity.

Humidity. The bane of our existence here in southeast Oklahoma. Here, low humidity days at any time of the year are a special treat to be relished. They are few and far between.

And I don’t care if the humidity here is much lower than that of Houston, Texas. I’m not from Houston. I’m from Minnesota. And living in the South for the past twenty-four years has done nothing to get me used to the almost constantly moist air – even more moist here than in north Texas.

Not only that, I never had allergies until I moved to north Texas at age 23. Then, I would have nasty symptoms every single spring. Now, in rural southeast Oklahoma, surrounded by allergen-producing cedar trees, I (and my husband) experience allergy symptoms the whole year through. These allergies afflict just about everyone who lives in the area, and result from a combination of humidity and cedar trees (not to mention other allergen-producing plants that are in much greater abundance in rural areas than in cities).

Along with my realization that day in Minnesota that the humidity was at a perfect level, I also realized that my allergy symptoms had finally faded away! I was no longer waking up with a cough, or having to sneeze and blow my nose several times a day.

My epiphany

Even I stood there, basking in the non-moist air and warm (not roasting) temperature void of allergens, I realized that I did not want to stay. I wanted to go home.

Home. As in, our five-acre property in southeast Oklahoma…not the city and state where my mother lives. As in, the place that my soulmate and I have worked, and continue working, hard at to make it our dream place. As in, the place surrounded by natural beauty, where we can let weeds grow as tall as they want and where we can be as off-grid as we please without bothering with regulations and permits.

That was Part One of the epiphany. Immediately thereafter, Part Two followed: if southeast Oklahoma is home, then I need to accept the climate and learn how to be happy with it. I need to figure out a way to get rid of the year-long allergies, not continue fantasizing about moving to New Mexico or Arizona.

Making home a healthy, happy place to be

I said nothing to J at the time, but when we arrived back home, I shared these thoughts with him.

#1: I’m going to stop cheaping out on air conditioning in the summer. No arguments from J there; he’d keep the temperature at 70 if I let him! A couple of years ago I twisted his arm to agree to allow the house be as warm as 78 degrees.

But even for cold-natured me, that’s too warm. To sleep, definitely, but sometimes even to think.

In Plano, we kept our thermostat set at 77 in the summer. It gets expensive trying to keep a 2100+ square-foot house cool in 100 degree weather, and we wanted to keep our electricity bill as low as possible because we had some serious financial goals. So it was usually much warmer in the house than J wanted. Ditto for when we lived in the Tuff Shed.

But our small earth-sheltered house is a lot easier to keep cool in the summer. Since J is fine at 72 and 73, and okay up to 75, our new aim is to keep the house between 73 and 75. For the first time in forever, I don’t feel tired all day long on hot days because the indoor temperature is below 77!

#2: I’m going to try out an allergy mask for a couple of months, wearing it any time I’m going to be outside for more than a couple of minutes. If I stop coughing every time I lie down, and stop sneezing ten times (or more) a day, hallelujah! If not, I’ll give it up and reach down deep in my pockets to pay for an Airwise® air purifier.

We currently have carbon filter (same as the mask I just bought, actually) purifiers that are okay noise-wise, as long we keep the fan no higher than medium. But each of them is only supposed to purify 200 square feet of air, and we only have two but our house is almost 600 square feet. They have definitely brought results, as I report in the video below. But our indoor air obviously is not as clean as it could be.

For twice as much money as we paid for the two current air purifiers, we can get a multi-room Airwise® which makes almost no noise, and which will purify up to 1500 square feet. I know these purifiers work, because I’ve used them in the past. One of them also uses less electricity than one of the carbon-filter purifiers.

I decided that spending money for the sake of our respiratory health – and perhaps J getting fewer allergy-based headaches – will be worth it.

#3: I’m going to make working outside enjoyable. I already made one decision along these lines when I decided to use the Kratky method to grow most of my annual crops. This will reduce my work in the garden, and thus my time laboring outside in weather of 95+ degrees and 70+% humidity.

I have also committed to working a few minutes several times a day on whatever garden/orchard maintenance tasks I have to do so that chores don’t become overwhelming. This is easy now that, number one, we are unschooling, and number two, we are not frenetically trying to finish out and move into a house.

It’s also a lot easier because I am no longer almost constantly bombarded with negative thoughts that make me feel like a failure, dissuading me from trying to do anything to turn this acreage into our dream homestead.

Adaptation equals happiness?

My Minnesota revelation boils down to this: I can be happy in any climate, if I would just make the right adaptations to suit my personal comfort levels and health.

Well, except maybe at the Arctic Circle, where the natives live in tents in fifty-degree below zero weather and eat mostly meat.

But for where we are now, my epiphany is already proving itself out.

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Have you received an e-mail with the subject line, “US Tax Court Notification #_______”?

I did. Just today. Here’s what the body of the message says:

U.S. Tax Court ext#5693874

We inform you that you were suspected in violating of the U.S Federal law under “Title 26 USC § 7201 – Attempt to evade or defeat tax”.

Related hearing will be held on 06/17 at 2:30PM in courtroom 6B. Case number is 228-157660.

In case you or your representative are not able to face the court on the mentioned day, please inform us by responding to current letter with the reason for abscence. The response has to be sent not later than 10 workdays before the day of hearing.

List of documents you have to provide in court and further information can be found in an attached file.

Download Notification

Irene Sharp,
Chief Secretary Prosecutor,
401 Second Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20217

If you have received such an e-mail, SEND IT TO YOUR SPAM IMMEDIATELY, AND FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE, DON’T CLICK ON THE DOWNLOAD NOTIFICATION LINK.

My first reaction to the e-mail was, of course, alarm. But a second later, my rational intelligence kicked in.

First of all, J and I have always done our taxes using H&R Block online, and have never had any problems, and have always paid what we owed. Including this year.

Second of all, if the IRS needs to contact you, they will send a snail-mail letter.

Third, check out the misspelling of the word “absence.” Uh-huh. Don’t you think a letter from the IRS would be void of such obvious errors?

Fourth, 6/17 this year is a Saturday. As far as I know (and I’ve served on a couple of juries), judges and lawyers have Saturdays off. At least in the courtroom. Also, 6/17 just happened to be the day just after I received this e-mail. So much for the ability to reply within 10 workdays!

Fifth, why am I not addressed by name at the beginning of the e-mail? phishy phishy phishy…

Sixth, check out the sender: jziwmv@thefriskywolfe.decisiveboundaries.netvia eugene.dreamhost.com 

Yeah, right. That sounds like an official address from a government office, doesn’t it?

Why is this jerk sending out these e-mails? One of two reasons. Either to capture your e-mail address when you send a panicked reply, or to give your computer a virus when you click on the link.

Don’t click on the link, and don’t reply. And no matter how Libertarian you are, pay your taxes on time. That way it will be very hard for you to fall for crap like this.

PS – You might want to read this scam warning from the IRS, while you’re at it.

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