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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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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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It’s Official. I’m A Vegan.

I am officially a vegan. Not a plant-based eater, but a vegan. You know, one of those annoying people who talk about the “dead flesh” that you’re eating when you’re trying to enjoy a steak or chicken salad. One of those people who cringe at the thought of going to a zoo.

Actually, I considered myself a vegan before a couple of weeks ago simply because I had come to believe that the most ethical diet is one that avoids killing sentient beings (plants are not sentient; animals are). But up until a couple of weeks ago, I was okay with other people eating meat. I didn’t feel grossed-out by it, didn’t feel sorry for the dead animal being consumed.

I also justified visiting zoos and aquariums for the sake of making life more interesting for children.

The first eye-opening moment

No longer. I didn’t make the shift consciously, hadn’t even realized I’d made the shift until our recent trip to Minnesota when my sister had chicken with her Thai take-out. And even my Hindi bro-in-law ate some! (Aren’t they supposed to be against eating meat?) I sat next to her, totally grossed out, thinking that she was eating the flesh of a dead animal, something that had been butchered mercilessly (I can guarantee you the bird came from a factory farm), bled, and cut into pieces.

Yes, I’ve become one of THOSE people. A real vegan. Please forgive me.

Anyway, it was all I could do not to say something. Not to try to make her aware of what she was doing. Maybe the reason I didn’t was that part of me knew that it would be futile, and cause more tension than there already was between us (read this post to understand what I’m talking about). I knew it, because a month earlier if you had told me that at that moment I would be wanting to preach animal rights to a meat-eater, I would have lifted an eyebrow and looked at you askance.

I knew it, because I know that we are all at different points on this journey called life. And if you haven’t passed through certain points, you can’t be at the one called Vegan, and you just won’t get it.

I knew, because up until recently, I didn’t get it. I didn’t get the “meat is murder” cry and the frustration vegans feel toward their meat-eating friends and family. Even though I was all for a 100% plant-based diet, all for not exploiting animals for any human needs in my head, it hadn’t hit my heart.

Yes, that’s it. At some point just before we left for our trip, my mind made some shift that allowed everything I’d read and heard about respect for all life pour into my heart.

The second eye-opening moment

The next thing that happened is we visited a reptile and amphibian place in a Minnesota town. I suggested it because I knew it was something that B would enjoy, even while suspecting that the animals would not have nearly the space they needed to have freedom.

I was right. But instead of just thinking, “Oh, well, here we are, might as well enjoy it,” I got angry. I mentioned several times to my mother and B that their cages should be several times larger (actually, not exist at all, but I was trying to fit my indignation into the reality that this place wasn’t going to shut down on my say-so). And wanted to slap the caretaker who was there who claimed to love animals.

I had been unhappy about the state of the animals at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, Oklahoma, but this visit brought me almost to my Full Vegan Self, the vegan who was supposed to not support places like this. It was our next trip, right after that one, that brought me into fullness.

I’d been to the zoo at Oxbow Park before. Several times as an elementary school student, and a few years before with my mom, stepdad, B, and J. But I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten that two wolves were caged up in a space smaller than our 576 square-foot house. I’d forgotten about the bear forced to live in a space about the same size. The otter who had just the dinkiest fake waterfall and stream to play in. The big birds in relatively small cages.

I did my best to ignore the feelings of injustice and disgust as I chatted with my mother. But the next morning, when we woke up in the retirement home guest room, I told my son and husband that they could do whatever they liked as far as zoos and aquariums, but that I was not going to support them anymore, with either my money or my presence.

I could no longer stand my hypocrisy

People rationalize all kinds of things for the sake of maintaining the status quo, even when the status quo isn’t the healthiest way. Last year, when we went to the Oklahoma Aquarium, I rationalized that I had a curious child who needed different experiences in order to grow and learn. That we were unschooling, so it was my duty to take him places that interested him, even if they went against my conscience.

This past week, I realized what a hypocrite I’ve been. And if I was going to grow as a person, and learn to be truly happy, I had to stop ignoring my moral principles. I had to begin to say, “I am a Vegan, and consarn it, I’m going to act like one!”

If you’re not a vegan and you’ve read through this entire article, thank you. Understand that I didn’t write it in order to try to “convert” you to the movement. Understand that I understand that if you’re not a vegan, it’s only because you haven’t reached that place on your journey.

And I recognize that you may never reach that place. That doesn’t make me better than you, or more spiritual, as many vegans would claim. It just makes you and I different.

While I hope and pray that one day, you will get the revelation that I did, I’m not going to beat you over the head with a vegan hot dog, screaming, “Meat is murder! Meat is murder!”

You’re welcome. 😉

In the meantime, you’d probably best not invite me over to your house for dinner.

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