Planning for an ex-pat adventure

Written on 11/10/16
I am seeing things through a different lens right now and I am both anxious and excited. I have been working on the whole Marie Kondo/minimalist/downsizing thing for a while now and feel like I have made some progress. Quite a bit of progress with clothes and books and decor and linens but still not enough with sentimental/inherited items, photos, kitchen things.

And then the election happened and we woke up yesterday and thought, “Why don’t we get out of this country for a few years?”

The whole point of minimizing is to make one more flexible, adaptable, able to do things, able to take advantage of opportunities when they come up. So let’s see if we can make this happen – to work through the anxiety of getting rid of things, renting the house, figuring out mail, visas, health insurance, car insurance, banking and to actually do it. I have very little anxiety about actually living in Mexico. I think we will find a place with little trouble and we will like it there.

I have a lot of anxiety about leaving.

The lens I have right now when I walk through the house goes something like this, “Will I/we get rid of (this thing) when we go or put it in storage? Will we want/need it when we come back? Is it something we could leave at the house if we rent it furnished or do we need space in a storage unit? How many boxes of photos/sentimental/inherited items do I want/need to keep and how will I dispose of those that have to go? What will out lifestyle be when we get back? Will I still want/need canning equipment, bicycles, soap making items, beer making stuff…?”

Everything looks different through this lens.

That’s a good thing. By January 2018, we will be in Mexico for a year. Let’s make it happen.

Winter has arrived

Winter has arrived here in Western Oregon. Painfully short days, darkness starting so early and lasting so long. Cold rain. Ice. Damp chill.

What does it mean at our house?
* Going to the gym a lot to keep obesity at bay.
* A gorgeous Oregon-grown Noble fir tree with LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes, as my husband tells me often).

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* Lots of cookie baking.

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* Chili and curries and things in the crockpot.
* Planning our winter escape to Mexico.
* Some entertaining of friends and neighbors.
* Holiday parties.
* Eating cabbage and kale from the winter garden.
* A little volunteering at the warming centers that open for the unfortunate freezing unsheltered when temperatures drop below 30 overnight.
* Buying a couple kids’ coats at Old Navy and taking them to the family shelter.
* Overwhelming gratitude for what we have and deepening empathy for those who are suffering.

A cold dark time for sure, for me, missing my parents, thinking of holidays past and people who have passed. I’m doing my best to honor my mom’s memory with her cookie recipes. I’m doing my best to make my tiny sphere of influence a little bit brighter and kinder.

And I’m focusing on the warmth of Mexico we will be enjoying soon.

Kitchen Days

There are few things I like more than a kitchen day. Maybe champagne in bed day or hot air balloon over Goreme, Turkey day.  A day in the kitchen is pretty high on the list, though.  Here are some kitchen food preservation projects from a recent kitchen day:

– pickled jalepenos
– pickled garlic
– dilly beans
– whole plums in honey syrup
– grapes to raisins
– plums to prunes

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Garden update…and never look a gift box in the mouth

What’s going in the garden?

After a disappointing pea crop, we have had a good run of spring things.  Asparagus. Cabbage. Broccoli. Our tomato plants are the largest we have ever had; nothing ripe yet but I think there will be tons. Peppers look okay. We have had a few bells so far. Green beans are starting to produce. Love these beans, from seeds I purchased in Europe. Just put some leek starts in the ground for fall harvest. And our potatoes are almost ready to be dug.

Here are some of our first string beans on the grill with the almost-last broccoli, potatoes (from the store) and marinated tempeh skewers. Marinated tempeh because someone (was it you? If so, thanks) sent us a gift box from Try the World. The theme was Brazil and there were some Brazilian spices and BBQ sauce in there so I applied them to tempeh instead of their suggested beef and chicken. How lucky are we to get a mystery gift box?!

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Dutch oven mac and cheese

Another camping adventure.

We are getting our camping system down to a system — what to bring, how to set up and take down, cooking and dishes. Most recently, we headed out to a camp ground along the Pacific Crest Trail. Having the PCT there made for great hiking! The weather was clear and we saw lots of mountains. We camped next to a tiny lake. It was quiet, with only a few other camping parties.

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Lakeside

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A tidy camp is a happy camp

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The SIsters

Cooking-wise, we tried out the dutch oven mac and cheese. It’s a keeper. We had a little miscommunication about the temperature for the dutch oven (my husband thought I wanted it as hot as for pizza, but alas, I only wanted 375 degrees). Luckily, the recipe calls for opening it and stirring after 30 minutes so were able to salvage our dinner. The burnt crust at the bottom was actually quite good too. I looked at a zillion recipes on the internet and zillion minus two all started with pre-cooked macaroni. Who wants to deal with that on a camping trip — either bringing cooked pasta with or cooking in camp? Not us. Continue reading