The Simple Life – Simple Grocery List During Hard Times

As a follow up to the previous post, I thought that this topic would be of some practicality. I’ve met all kinds of people in my lifetime, rich people, poor people, and people in between. Each person views the world/life in a different way. Their life situation determines how they see the most basic things. Some people might consider eating steak daily, or an iPhone, a necessity, while for others it is a luxury. Their views are different according to their experience. For some people, “hard times” might be lacking the luxuries they are accustomed to enjoy, but for other people, it might mean lacking the basic necessities such as food, water, electricity … At the grocery store, I have seen people putting a basic staple back on the shelf, the shopping cart containing only a couple of necessary items. I’ve also seen the frustration in their faces. What would you do if you had to come up with a small grocery list that would give you the most for your very limited budget, last longer, and provide basic nutrients? Would you know what to buy or how to make it last? Would you even know where to start?

When having a very limited budget sale price is important, but also, brands and organic products might have to be passed by if the cost is much more than you can afford at the moment. Price per ounce or servings might become important instead, and knowing shelf life might be necessary, in case you cannot shop in a longer period of time. Knowing how to preserve and make last what you bought might also be important. During hard times, your brain will be rewired differently, and you will start thinking in ways you have never thought before. Words such as ration, preparedness, long-lasting … and other words will become familiar words. Suddenly, your vocabulary has been expanded, and so has your old world.

Once I met a very educated elderly lady who had been very prosperous. Her world change one day when her country became a communist country. She was left with nothing. Her nephews and other family members were shot against a wall, and she had to escape her beloved country in a cargo boat, thanks to a captain she knew and was her friend. She left her country with only the clothes she had on, and her daughter, hidden on that boat. I will never forget the lessons I learned through that lady.

Your world, your situation can change in a short period of time (there is no blame here). When life changes and hard times come, how you respond to change is extremely important. I also met a rich gentleman who once told me that his kids only received one gift for Christmas. He wanted them to appreciate what they had and see the season for what it truly was. I met many people for whom the only source of food was the local food pantry and not the supermarket. All of them beautiful souls in very different circumstances.

What would you do if suddenly, food became an important challenge in your life? You would probably go back to simple basics. Here is an example of a very simple, basic, and long-lasting food and basic essentials list. Although this list is very basic, I know that for some people it might seem a long list (26 items), depending on the circumstances. The list requires for you to know how to cook, combine meals or ingredients, and ration meals. Also, assuming you only can purchase one of each, or what your budget allows.

  • milk (any kind). Powder milk is long-lasting. A source for calcium, vitamin D, your dairy.
  • butter or oil (your fats, also for cooking.
  • flour – for many uses (any kind of flour, and also will last)
  • rice or pasta – a little fills you up.
  • beans – good source of protein; you need protein to live.
  • bread or crackers – fills you up, carbohydrates/sugar give you energy. Can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also make your own bread or crackers by using flour.
  • eggs (liquid or powder too, powder will last you longer). Source of protein. Can use any time as a meal.
  • salt – for flavor, cooking, and medicinal. Also supplies iodine which you need to survive.
  • pepper – for flavor.
  • cheese – (your dairy and protein). Any kind will do in an extreme situation, even powder cheese or Velveeta cheese, which are long-lasting.
  • coffee or any powder drink – Although not essentials, (you can drink water if needed) some people need their caffeine, and many powder drinks provide sugars and are enhanced with vitamins or minerals.
  • meat, fish, or poultry – for extra protein, but if you cannot afford these, an alternative is canned meat or peanut butter. Peanut butter is long-lasting and does not require refrigeration. It will provide fats, sugars, and protein for your body. It is also affordable in comparison to other items.
  • fruit – for vitamins and antioxidants.
  • tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, puree) – for cooking
  • sugar or honey – for cooking or if you cannot go without it for flavoring meals.
  • canned veggies – if you cannot afford more expensive veggies these will do.
  • apple cider vinegar – for cooking, but also aids in digestion, and also for cleaning.
  • baking soda – for baking, but can also be used as a toothpaste, for acid and indigestion, or even cleaning your home.
  • bar of soap – for bathing, but also cleaning and laundry.
  • toilet paper
  • toothpaste
  • pain relief pills/alcohol/hydrogen peroxide/Vaseline – first aid as needed. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean your teeth.

If you can afford a bottle of multi-vitamins that will help provide what is lacking in your diet.

One can make bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pancakes with flour.

Anything in powder form or canned is longer-lasting.

Pets, kids, and people with special diets or medical conditions will require other food items, meds …

When in need, your local food pantry, church, or community action center can be of much help. They can also direct you to other services.

I hope this list is helpful, however, when in need, I will also add a prayer to your Creator. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love and light.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

Garden Bliss

I love this time of the year. The beginning of Spring, when bugs are still half asleep, and the garden is awakening. The temperatures are a bit cool enough to enjoy preparing the garden for the rest of the year. That is what we have been working on, setting up the garden. Cleaning up winter’s memories and hoping for a good gardening year. Last year we had a drought, and everything looked sad and dry. I am hoping for plenty of rain.

We cleaned up around the garden and added a new flag. Heavy winds and ice destroyed the other one. The first blooms are here.

We cleaned up the veggie garden. Had to discard one of the large boxes; it broke on the sides. A layer of fresh mulch was applied, and containers were moved around to make room for new planting boxes. My husband made veggie markers, and I am hoping to plant much more. Despite the ice and crazy weather, lettuce came back from last year. Two full containers, so I will not have to plant lettuce this year. It survived the frost.

I started two new areas in the garden this year. These are a work in progress right now. One is at the very front of the property, and the other area is next to the faerie garden. This area is covered by lush green moss in the spring, which I love, and the only thing I have been able to plant here are hostas; it is a shady area. We try to add to the garden something new every year. Little by little this garden has been transformed from the original mess of weeds and overgrown bushes to something more delightful. You can see the progress on the Restoring a Farmhouse series of posts.

The garden as it was. This was the entrance to the property.
What we started with when we purchased the old farmhouse. First time working on the garden. What a lovely mess!

I am very happy because a small garden center opened in our area, and now we will not have to drive that far to purchase plants or gardening material. After all that hard work, our reward was my delicious version of Fiesta Rice.

I hope you enjoy this post. Love and light.

The Simple Life – Simplicity vs Lowering Your Expectations

Simplicity is at the core of living a simple life, along with frugality (not to be confused with poverty or lack), best use, gratefulness, and beauty, among many other things that I will write about on this blog, according to my experience. When pondering about this topic, it occurred to me that many people do not want to live a simple life; simplicity does not entice them, and that is fine too. Other people may have a misunderstanding of simplicity and may think that by embracing simplicity, or overall, a simpler existence, they will be lowering their expectations, standard of living and even quality of life. That is a misconception that may scare them away from simple living.

Simple living is about appreciating every aspect of one’s life, environment, and possessions. It is about only allowing what serves us now in our spaces and enrich our lives. It is about enjoying those aspects/things that will best fit our lives and also, making room for those things, dreams, aspirations … that will enrich more our life and the lives of others by default.

When we live a simpler, balanced life (not perfect) in turn, we can give more to others, whether that is materially, in time, or by giving of ourselves. For me, that is the opposite to lowering one’s expectations; on the contrary, it is about raising the bar because I am operating from a place and disposition, of generosity and gratefulness, and not of lack or disillusion. To put it in terms of the material as an example, when we live simply, we will bring into our environment that which we value (not necessarily monetary value). If I value durability in a product (clothes for example), I might forgo cheaply/fast made items which will cost less and will be easily affordable in quantity, and instead, bring one piece that will last for many years but will cost a bit more. This can be applied to every aspect because I am operating from a value system, what is important to me. This is far from lowering one’s expectations in life. Living simply opens space, time, and energy (mental, physical, even emotional) to welcome new opportunities and enrich our existence. This is far from lowering expectations.

Simplicity can be beautiful and breathtaking. (Photo by M.A.D.)

The Simple Life – Simplicity and Beauty

As I have slowly learned to embrace a much simpler life, I have also learned to find simplicity and beauty in the everyday flow. Easier said than done at times. When we are presented with good and rosy days, a lot easier, but more challenging when what we perceive is the not so nice or the ugly. Embracing a simple life taught me to find beauty and simplicity even in those circumstances. Never easy at the start, but willing, the focus and vision became clear, and I realized that even in less than perfect or idyllic circumstances, one can find something good, even beauty, and learn appreciation for what truly is. It is through challenges that we grow the most, although I believe that one can experience growth looking at a beautiful sunset or watching a fire, more so when in the midst of it. In both circumstances there is beauty and simplicity, that is, if we care to see in humility. I have experienced both extremes and can honestly say that from both there is much to learn and appreciate. I’ve found that simplicity and beauty are always present, inviting us to learn a life’s lesson. Maybe not so easy to recognize when we are in the midst of a challenge, when things don’t seem too pretty, when anger and bitterness dominate our thoughts and hearts, but much later on, when we have surrendered our will to God, and experienced a shift in disposition, acceptance, the beginning of clarity.

A clouded vision cannot see beauty, even when in front of it. A heavy heart cannot experience simplicity because it is burdened at the moment, in a complicated state, far away from simplicity. Only when we let go and open our mind and heart to receive a new beginning can we see the new dawn. In learning to live a simple life, I had to let go, but I received so much more.

Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Gratefulness

Grateful – Appreciative; thankful. Expressing gratitude. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Sometimes, we forget the meaning of simple words. When living simply we go beyond ridding ourselves of unnecessary material and non-material items, and as a natural next step, we end up practicing frugality. It has been my experience. We start appreciating everything in our lives, develop a thankful heart, and start expressing our gratitude in many ways.

In embracing simplicity, I started appreciating my environment and the things that comprised it, material and unmaterial. I view the things that I had learn to appreciate during the process in a different light. These are not only things that serve a purpose and function, but also enrich my life. I am grateful for what we have, and for each day that I am given. I started operating in gratefulness, in gladness, and respect of the gifts I had been entrusted. In the process, I learned to become a steward of these blessings. In mind and heart, I went from ownership of things to stewardship. Owning became less important, and generosity towards myself and others went along with feeling grateful for what God had given me. My focus slowly switched from accumulating to a more giving/generous disposition because despite crazy challenging circumstances, I felt blessed and not lacking; I started operating from a place of abundance. I switched my attention to gratefulness and now I focus on what’s important – experiences, people, values … Things are enjoyed and shared because they take second place. I feel blessed and grateful for it. I have given new meaning to our possessions – these do not control my attention anymore; instead, these serve us, our lifestyle, because while embracing a simple life, I am operating under gratefulness and generosity with myself and others.

Every person takes as long as needed to embrace simple living; after all, it is an individual process that develops in many layers, steps, and what fits me doesn’t necessarily will fit another person. In the writing of these series, I come from a place of understanding my own journey, with the hope of inspiring.

Photo by M.A.D.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you – Matthew 6:33

A Garden at Rest

The garden is ready to go to sleep, and it seems that the planting/harvest season went so fast this year. I am very happy with what the garden offered, and this year was better than last year. There were a few green tomatoes left in the vine, and the rest is done. I picked what was left on Saturday. It has been a bit cold, a bit early. Last year we lost tons of green tomatoes due to an early frost. Until next year.

Grape tomatoes were a plenty this year.
Yellow tomatoes did very well too this year.
I grew these potatoes in pots; it worked.
This year I learned that potato pants are gorgeous when they flower and more beautiful when they produce this green fruit (poisonous) that looks like a green grape tomato. The seeds inside can be planted ahead of time to grow the plant, but it takes much longer for a potato plant to produce from seed than if planted from the tuber/eye. Who knew?
The last two pumpkins.
The first two pumpkins.
The largest pumpkin we picked sits in the back. I think is the nicest one. We only got two cantaloupe, which we picked a few days early but turn out delicious. First timers.
The birds were lucky this year. They enjoyed the sunflowers, and I collected tons of seeds for them. I saved a bag for planting next year.
A round patch of a different type of grass seems prominent this year. I like it.
These colorful beauties are still in bloom and the butterflies are loving them. These get many winged visitors.
Finally, a better picture of a cardinal. These were hard to photograph. They don’t stay put for long.
A happy visitor who sometimes makes his rounds around the garden. I think he belongs to a neighbor, as I always see him coming from the direction to her house.
A little bird makes friends with a scarecrow. I was lucky to take this photo.

As the garden gets ready to rest, I will be ready for cleanup and ready up for next year plantings. We have enjoyed many blessings from it, and I could not ask for more. Happy Harvest!

The Magic of an Ordinary Life

I am sharing with you something special today. I came across this YouTube video by The Elliott Homestead, and as I watched it, I felt a sense of serenity, peace, joy, beauty, gratefulness, and love. I decided to share it here because its main message is so beautiful and true. I hope it inspires you to appreciate the beauty that is all around us every single day. Thank you to The Elliot Homestead for making this lovely video and sharing it with the world. It truly touched me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Beauty of Creation

I believe that God made everything. The beauty of nature has no limits. I have always enjoyed watching nature, even as a kid, I would spent hours observing it, whether it was ants, butterflies, birds, the ocean … Those are some of my favorite memories as a kid. These days, many years after, I still love to watch my surroundings. It recharges me, somehow. Sometimes, one can see the hand of God in the most unusual and tiny places.

One of my favorite wild flowers dressed in the perfect blue.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Four leaf clovers – I have found three around here so far, but I am sure there are more.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Mushrooms are beautiful. There are so many shapes and colors.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Acorns abound in all sizes. A perfect pair.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Even rainy days offer surprises – water  diamonds.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Trees present their offerings. This year we will have tons of pinecones, more than in previous years.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Critters that play around, always welcomed.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

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Photo by M.A.D.

Nature will always be a special treat for me, a sanctuary, the perfect gift from God.

A very young me, one of many hats I’ve worn over the years.

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M.A.D.

Hope you enjoyed this post.

What recharges your soul?