The 1,000 Pound Challenge


I’ve heard it said that a good move every now and then forces you to take stock in your belongings, encouraging you to reduce, reuse, recycle.  This March marks the 15th year in our home.  No move.

The footprint of the house feels heav-y.   I can almost feel the house sinking a little further into the dirt.  Our large, unfinished basement has served us well as a storage room for us and for others.    As we consider finishing this prime area to gain some needed living space for our growing kids, it’s evident that there is some work to do first!

Some tough decisions to be made.  Boxes of things from my husbands parents home-that-is-no-more; a pink rotary telephone, some old games and trucks, a wooden valet.    Trophies reminding me of oldest sons youth and time gone by.  He doesn’t want the trophies – I don’t either, but it’s hardly seemed right to throw them away.  These things are amongst all of the other usual suspects that you would find down in a basement used for the convenient storage of both useful items and ones not quite ready to parted with.

Kevin coined it best when we were talking about how difficult it would be to get rid of some of these memories saying, “Well, if we don’t do it, someday, it will become the difficult work of our children.”  We’ll do it.

Hence, the 1,000 pound challenge was born!   Simple rules: lose 1,000 pounds from now until Easter.    Weigh it as it goes out the door.  Keep a running list.  Doesn’t need to just be the basement.  We’ll recycle where we can, donating much of it to the Salvation Army, maybe a few items will go on Craigslist.  Someone else will get some good use of it.

I started last weekend by cleaning out the closet in one of the bathrooms.  40 pounds of ancient smelly lotion, a liter of hairspray so old there is danger it would change the color of my hair if I used it, pepto-bismo two years past its prime- all out the door!  The light-house themed stuff from a dozen years ago (what was I thinking?), stashed on the bottom shelf behind the hand towels, all gone!  What a great feeling!   I found an unopened bottle of expired rubbing alcohol, and asked my husband to put a new bottle on the grocery list.  He asked exactly what we do with rubbing alcohol, I don’t really know.  Off the list.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.  I’m sure we are all carrying baggage we don’t need anymore.   My challenge, if you choose to accept it:  Lighten up!  Take stock and lose 1,000 pounds with me!   Or you can always just move.


Fiscal Cleanse – Week 2-3 update – Seeing things in a new light

Peter the Woof

Peter the Woof

Highs and lows.  We are now officially half way though our fiscal experiment with three full weeks under our belt.  Some days I wonder why we are doing this and am ready to throw in the towel, and some days it seems like we could do this forever.

Both the pantry and freezer still have plenty to offer.  Kevin articulated what I was thinking, “Maybe when this is over, we’ll carry over some of what we’re learning”.    We’ve gone from, “What are you hungry for?”, and running to the market, to looking to see what we already have and coming up with some amazing way to utilize it.

January is typically the month when I am hitting all of the after-Christmas sales, filling up on more things.  That we don’t need.   Time has been found by not spending it in the stores or on-line.  More time for the stuff that’s truly important.  Very strategic of me, If I do say so myself.

In that same vein though, when I hear about a great sale I’m missing, I wrestle with my mind trying to justify dumping this whole plan,  “Think of how much money you’re losing in the long run by not taking advantage of this sale!”, I tell myself.   It’s taking some re-conditioning.

Grocery bill for my family of four (perishables only allowed):

Week 2:  $45

Week 3: $22 (is this getting easier?)


-1 liter’ish of generic EVOO (extra virgin olive oil): $9.24   Don’t want to use the good stuff to fry up the chickpeas.  I know, I know.

-Root Beer at Harvest Valley Farm $2.50:  We stopped after church to get eggs.  My youngest son was quick to volunteer to go in with my husband, while my daughter and I waited in the car.   I commented to my daughter, “Bet he thinks if he goes in, he’ll get a root beer.  He must have forgotten about “fiscal”. ”   A couple of minutes later, he comes out with a sly grin, and 2 bottles of pop, one for himself and one for his sister.    They’ve done great so far, guess they deserved this treat.

-Panko crumbs: $2.70

-Pop Tarts for Nate: $7.17

-Dunkin’Donuts: $7.08 (we don’t have one here, once again, the husband was traveling and brought some home)

-Parchment paper: $2.09

-Garbanzo bean flour: $2.69

-Bottle of wine:  .06 (my husband used a reward gift card, and this was the balance)

Now for the big exception:

Dinner out for 7: $152.   I struggled with this one, but in the end, no doubt, it was important and money well spent.   This week marks 10 years since my mother passed away.  My oldest son requested the family all get together at the restaurant we went to 10 years ago, and remember her.

I’m getting a little worried this may be building up to a big spend at the end.  More to come on that in the next week or two.  In the meantime…

Three weeks to go.

Fiscal Cleanse – Week 1 Update


“Do lightbulbs count?” my husband Kevin asked, as he pointed to the dark pendant light hanging above his head.

“Yes”, I replied.

“Really?  Cause this is where I sit to pay the bills”, he went on, “It’s not really the intent of this thing is it?  This wouldn’t really be a superfluous purchase.  Six weeks is a long time to go without replacing this lightbulb.”

I gave it some thought, and supposed he was right and told him so.  He then offered, “Well, I didn’t look downstairs yet to see if we have any.”    I headed downstairs and found three of these specialties in the box chock full of about every type of lightbulb you can imagine.   This is why we’re doing this.

After Christmas I felt the need to try to simplify our lives, eliminate some of the too much and hopefully foster a deeper sense of appreciation for our blessings.  Beginning on January 2nd, my family joined me in my pledge to go on a “fiscal cleanse”, freezing our spending with the exception of dairy, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, meat if we run out later, and of course bills.  All other food needs to come from the pantry and the freezers.  Realistically, we recognized there would be a need for exceptions, and agreed that they would be discouraged, and that we would document them after we have gained approval from each other.

The first week has gone very well.  In the world of excess it feels like we have made nary a dent in our surplus.   Near the end of the week Kevin remarked that there should be plenty in the freezer for another five weeks.

Our weekend grocery shopping trip for fresh essentials for our family of four: $40.32.

Exceptions made this week:

-$3.36 for a Hunger Games Calendar I found for my daughter on clearance at Target.   Totally unnecessary BUT I knew it would delight her, and I couldn’t pass up the price!

-$12.37 for some caramel and cheddar “Nuts On Clark” popcorn my husband brought home for us.  It’s been a few years since either of us has been through the Midway airport, so was a rare treat.

-$3 for a box of crackers.

Not bad huh?

We’ve had some great and different meals.  It’s taken some creativity, and has been fun- we’ve taken it as a challenge.  Kevin found a recipe for some yummy Tuna cakes one night because we definitely have plenty of tins of tuna.  Another night we repurposed some left-over mashed potatoes – inventing these amazing croquettes that had a little surprise center of mozzarella.    I only had a second to snap this picture of the last two.  As soon as the shutter clicked, I looked up from the camera and one lonely croquette remained.


The kids don’t love all of what we are presenting them with though (like the tuna), and we aren’t giving them alternatives – they’re hungry and are finally learning to eat what’s in front of them.  The turkey noodle soup made from the left-over carcass in the freezer was wonderful on the first night.   It served us two subsequent lunches.  We’re ready to move on, so a whole batch of this goodness went back in the freezer for another time.

Not wanting to make it sound too easy, it’s important to note that our grit has also been tested.  We both work full time, and have two active kids with extracurricular activities at least three nights of the week (soon to escalate to 5 with basketball starting this week).  I’ll admit,  I was tempted to stop for fast food more than once.   But I didn’t.

Our little project, has lovingly taken on the nickname of,”fiscal” by the kids.   I can feel a whole new kind of grateful developing.

We’ll finish up, appropriately, on Fat Tuesday.   I jokingly suggested we continue through Lent.  My family did not see the humor.

Five weeks to go!

Fiscal Cleanse

OK.  All this talk lately about the “Fiscal Cliff” we are headed off of, has got me thinking.

Maybe I jumped on the consumerism bandwagon a little too hard, and it’s time for a fiscal cleanse.  Time to recover from the inevitable financial, and “stuff” hang-over left from a big and beautiful family Christmas.  Time to clean out the freezer, the pantry, get creative, make-it-work, realize how very lucky and blessed we are, if we don’t have it- we really don’t need it, live a little simpler.

I’ve talked my husband into it, and my children reluctantly understand.  Here are the rules we established:

  • The Fiscal Holiday will begin on January 2nd, lasting for 6 weeks
  • No spending ANY money during this period except for on the following items:

Milk, eggs, bread, fresh fruits, vegetables.  Maybe some meat if we run out

  • Any other exceptions are discouraged, require approval from each other, and will be tracked on a list

Contrary to the spirit of the cleanse, my husband did make a Trader Joe’s run to ensure he has some Cookie Butter in the pantry, and my youngest son requested I buy a bag of shrimp to put in the freezer so he could have some Shrimp Havarti.  I’ll need some Diet Coke.

Aside from these essentials, we already have been given everything we need and more.   A beautiful, healthy family full of tremendous love.  Wonderful jobs to provide, with the opportunity to make a difference.  A warm, safe home.   The rest is inconsequential.

Anyone care to join us on our fiscal holiday?

Happy New Year!

My oldest son Nick, hiding behind some pressies

My oldest son Nick, hiding behind some pressies