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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
933 articles written by Shannon


It has been one month since we started this no-spend challenge, and we are halfway through. I feel like I have gained so much perspective from this experience. In considering purchases we want to make in the future I want to be more mindful. I am reevaluating our budget and how much we really need for the basics. I have broken myself of the habit of just running out and buying something. While I didn’t do that often, it is better not to have that option at all. This week was a really good end to the first month, let’s take a look…


Spent: ~$6. I had no expenses for milk & eggs this week because we stocked up last week. While my father-in-law was here he did some grocery shopping at the health food store we normally shop at. He agreed to barter some pre-made food that I had in the freezer for a few items from the grocery store that we might need. The $6 is the amount of cash we had to pay on top of our bartered items for the grocery store items. We enjoyed a lovely no-spend Thanksgiving meal (besides the disastrous cake) on Thursday and on Friday we received our bulk food order that we purchase around once per year. This contained dried beans, millet, cans of coconut milk, coconut flakes, dried apples & raisins, bulk spices, nuts & seeds, peanut butter and sesame & olive oils. So we are set on pantry items.

Here is the tally of fresh items remaining for December:

  • 1 quart of applesauce
  • 5 onions = 1 onion/week
  • 5 heads of garlic = 1 head of garlic/week
  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 head of celery
  • 6 winter squash

It is time to start getting creative with the dried and frozen goods in the house!

Car Mileage

I forgot to get the receipt from my husband for this week’s gas purchase. I believe we spent less this week than last week, so I will put it at $11.00.

Other Expenses

Spent: $0

The only bill we paid this week was rent for the month of December.


Still not finding the time to hang up laundry. I hope this changes soon, but there are just too many other things to keep up with right now. Like my over flowing diaper bucket and a kitchen stacked with dirty dishes.

Wrapping it up

Total spent: $17.

I’m really happy with this number and am encouraged to see that I think we will make it through December without having to make any unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Hopefully by the end of the year we will be paying a big loan payment.

How is everyone else doing?

We begin week four.


Thursday was an absolutely lovely day. It was possibly one of the most relaxing and joy-filled Thanksgivings I have ever had. Up until the past few years Thanksgiving was always about eating a huge meal with your family and then watching football or passing out. When I started attempting to be more mindful about all that I think or do things changed. Do you know who prompted the first Thanksgiving? George Washington. I recently came across the following historical text and it really helped to keep my mind and priorities in the right place during our Thanksgiving day.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Our only guest was my father-in-law so we didn’t have to travel and also didn’t have to feed a lot of people. Our toddler was so excited for days that grandpa was coming :).

Our menu was made up of foods we already had on hand since I wouldn’t be making any special trips to the grocery store. I will provide our menu as well as some recipes below.

No Spend Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted lamb shoulder with garlic and rosemary.


I purchased this before I even knew we were doing no spend months. When we decided to do this challenge I reserved this roast for our Thanksgiving meal, knowing that we wouldn’t be traveling elsewhere for the meal.

~ 5 lb. shoulder of lamb
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 T. dried rosemary, chopped
sea salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover roast with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper on all sides. Cover the whole roast with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 325 degrees. Roast for approximately 6 hours, or until temperature reaches 180 degrees. You can leave the foil off for the last 15 minutes of cooking time, if a brown crust hasn’t formed yet.

Sweet & savory butternut squash with crispy nuts and sunflower seeds.


I love winter squash, don’t you? We’ve kept just under a dozen of them in a cool closet for about a month and a half and they are still wonderfully delicious.

Steamed green beans. These were in our freezer and again I set them aside just for this meal. Having only eaten canned green beans recently, these were delicious.

Stewed tomatoes. I used two large cans of whole tomatoes and stewed them in my crock pot with some olive oil and black pepper. At the last minute I stirred in some fresh garlic and my husband declared “These tomatoes are really good!” I’m pretty sure he’d say that about anything containing garlic, though.


2 cans whole plum tomatoes, drained (save the juice for something else)
1/4 t. black pepper
good olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced

Place the drained tomatoes into a 4 qt. crock pot with pepper. Cook on high for approximately four hours. Just before serving stir in the raw garlic and drizzle good olive oil over the whole thing.

Double cranberry coconut SOAP cake.

Soap, you ask. Yup. This cake was actually really delicious, unless of course you eat the outer crust of it. I cooked it in a silicon baking pan that I greased with coconut oil. I’m not sure which of these two things did it, but the edges of the cake that touched the pan TASTED LIKE SOAP. We all sat down for dessert last night and a couple of bites in I started thinking “That’s strange, this tastes soapish.” Immediately after that my husband looked at me and said “Do you taste soap?” Yep, sure did. After cutting off all of the edges, the cake was actually really tasty. I simply used the yellow cake recipe from Bruce Fife’s Cooking with Coconut Flour book and stirred in a cup of halved frozen cranberries.  Just don’t cook it in a silicon baking dish greased with coconut oil. I served this with the last of the cranberries made into a sauce and pureed to form a glaze along with whipped cream that I got off of the top of my raw milk.

Everyone loved the meal (besides the cake, of course). On a day of giving thanks it was nice to know that we were able to use and be thankful for what we already had instead of purchasing more. It was a blessing.