Our New Life

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Contents & Features


Simply Gourmand

Days of Cabbage Wine and Salads

Millennium Chic

Monogamy, Research & Conjecture

Decision Support

The Reality Store -or- Sacrificing Your Life to Consumerism

´Better Homes´Strategy

Montana Quonset Home..
dreaming with our eyes open
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Simply Gourmand - Simple, easy, economical, nutritious, & pleasurable

Days of Cabbage Wine & Salads

A while ago I was searching for a way to integrate more green leafies into our diet and was entertaining visions of somehow setting up a salad bar in my kitchen. We had adjusted to beanage without any hassle by setting up the crockpot at bedtime with one of our many bean recipes and then feasting the next morning, and sometimes off and on throughout the day.

As I saw it, the main holdup to progress in our attempts to eat more leafies was the fact that there was a prep-time penalty with each use.

On top of that, leafies were so perishable. If only I had a salad bar instead of my extra crockpot.

About that time, I came across a curious little article in a health newsletter that mentioned the benefits of "fermented cabbage juice".

The writer, a medical researcher, seemed only interested in the juice but the benefits of cabbage are legendary. It simply was too strong for our use as a green leafie. My son told me Korean men have a special dish called KimChee which was basically fermented cabbage. Apparently strong stuff!! That head of cabbage in the crisper began to look excitingly exotic.

Many healthy ethnic foods, including yogurt, are fermented and we enjoyed making our own yogurt... so...

Well, I was tempted. The process was so simple and could be done in my crock. In addition cabbage is extraordinarily inexpensive and it keeps well in the fridge til I´m ready to use it. We would try it. How much could I ruin?

Wonderful opportunities arose on this adventure. The early fermented cabbage turns out to be milder than raw cabbage but more flavorful than most lettuces. It went well as sandwich toppings, salad fixings, a side dish with baked beans as well as soup enhancer. I now have the equivalent of a mini salad bar in my crockpot as an alternate to sprouts as our source of greens, on demand.

So here´s the scoop. I buy a small head of cabbage, maybe 5 inches diameter, probably about $.75 at your local market, yearround. When I´m ready, I trim and wedge the cabbage. Then I set up my hand cranked grater over my crock and within a very short time, the entire head is shredded and ready to be covered with water.

You want all the cabbage under water, no little shreds clinging to the sides during the fermenting.

Cover and set the crock aside for 3-4 days, no heat.

Then the fun begins.

Keep your slotted spoon or your salad tongs handy. For the next 2-3 days you have green leafies at your fingertips.

When the last of the leafies have been used, empty a can of frozen apple juice into the remaining liquid. Stir and in a day or two you´ll see the thin, foamy head develop on your "wine". Add a ladle and your crock is now a punch bowl for a day or two. Days and days of salads and "wine" with absolutely minimal time, effort and expense.

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Millennium Chic - Voluntary simplicity and holistic lifestyles

Monogamy -- Research and Conjectures

Ever wonder...
- why breaking up is so hard to do?
- why we find monogamous species like wolves, swans and beavers so appealing?
- why the ´cigarette after´ is so alienating?
- whether casual sex, even if ´protected´, is ultimately good for you?

The answer may be that we are one of those naturally monogamous species. Research in neuroscience, last year, has begun to unravel the mechanism and chemistry that characterizes naturally monogamous behavior.

According to Insel, Gingrich and Cascio in their study of voles, there is an imprinting period after mating during which the monogamous voles´ brains release a compound called oxytocin, which activates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. During this period, which lasts several hours in voles, their enduring partnerships are formed. Dopamine in humans is known to induce ´pleasant sensations´ which the brain begins to crave. You become addicted to your mate. Which leads to some wonderful speculations as well as some decently grounded cautions.

First, casual sex becomes extremely unappealing. Interrupting a natural high to avoid attachment being totally unsatisfying and alternatively, allowing the attachment to form knowing the coming withdrawal symptoms, is simply a nightmare waiting to happen. No free trial periods! At the very least, you´re right to wait for certainty that you´ve found your true love. And yes I believe in a true love because I found mine, but on the second try. I´m so glad I kept a diary or even I wouldn´t believe how incredibly romantic it was. But that was years and years after the first try. Divorce may not be fatal but it´s not at all simple even after the courtroom trauma process is over.

Second, we could speculate on tactics to deal with withdrawal or even the occupational hazards for ´working girls´ but let´s get to the best part. The pleasures of building the bond with your true love.

How about a blissfully passionate joint meditation, after each climax, -- a happily ever aftering for imprinting -- like a mirror image of the preliminary rituals of Tantric lovemaking. And while we´re on the subject of optimizing the experience, research also shows that for most of us our peak sexual arousal comes after a few hours sleep in the evening.

It´s time women talked about it.

<Look for other papers by Thomas Insel, Brenden Gingrich, and Carissa Cascio>
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Decision Support - Finances, Stats and Quantification

The Reality Store -or- Sacrificing Consumerism

The Reality Store is a program for high schoolers where students select a job they might like to start their working life doing. Then the game master reveals the salary they would make and sends them into the "Store" to buy the lifestyle that goes with that income. A fascinating exercise for teens to experiment in managing and life choices, if it were genuinely intended and structured to mimic the full range of options at your disposal. But the creators of the game had a different agenda.

The game is used as an exercise to convince teens that reality demands you to get on the same misbegotten rat-wheel that powers and torments our world in order to have the necessities and pleasures of life. Presumably the players will then choose to pursue the career and educational goals the promoters designed the game for. The problem is the game reinforces the mindsets we are indoctrinated to accept in the advertising that drives our lives, our entertainment, our education, our thinking; which makes the fallacies nearly impossible for an insider to recognize and unravel.

But we´re not insiders here and with home-building creativity, research and quantifying skills we can expose the fallacies underlying that biased set of options, and in the process, make apparent how distorted our socio-economic culture has become. So you can have all the options.

To begin, an examination of life´s expenses will quickly show you that housing and its mortgages, taxes, repairs and maintenance, is the largest piece of your budget. What would happen to life´s reality if we made major changes to the equation there?

That´s exactly what our better homes strategy does and in the process we discovered the merits of self-building as a strategy for teens to escape the rat-wheel.

Financially, the self-build strategy for young people would get them a home to live in, with minimal mortgage, with potent repair skills, and with a substantive amount of equity to persuade banks to fund their future ventures. The obstacle, namely the paralyzing complexity of the current housing production process as well as the banking establishment´s reluctance to fund novices, presents young people with -- not an impossible quandary, but -- an even better deal.

To remove the complexity barrier, research leads to self-doable building designs and reveals the most wonderful range of choices with features that make apparent the failure of conventional housing anyway, unraveling its authoritarian complexity: many advanced self-doable models have disaster resilience, environmental sustainability, ergonomic mindfulness, heating/cooling independence, ease of maintenance, health, safety and affordability. Hallelujah!

With names like earthships, bubblehouses, windcatchers, terracruisers, each with their own special combination of features, experimenters have been pushing the limits of various climate regions and selected goals and assumptions. We think our culvert house meets all the challenges in our humid summer/cold winter tornado-prone corner of the world.

You´ll naturally need to consider rural living to escape the antiquated zoning laws but there are advantages in that as well. Most important, it´s easier to escape consumerism there.

Consumerism is the philosophy that, for every problem we immediately go out into the marketplace and buy the solution, that all the truly viable answers are already thought of and ready for purchase. You need only sell your lifetime to earn the price demanded and if you haven´t that amount in your pocket or on your plastic, you are deprived, a failure, probably a sick degenerate in need of remediation or punishment. A masterpiece of self-perpetuating misery in the guise of righteousness. One that we need to escape, one that our better homes strategy will free you from by liberating your budget.

Once you have a home with no mortgage, no heating/cooling, and low maintenance, what has become of your reality store exercise?

In the process of studying the living requirements that our culvert house would have to support and while viewing the alternatives others chose, we became more conscious of exactly which of our activities and possessions were genuinely contributing to satisfaction. The logical step, dispose of the wasted efforts and optimize our use of resources. The result, a budget for two or three adults that would only require each to contribute $400-500 per month to sustain, even long term.

Unconventional, definitely but we eat healthy, enjoy our hedonistic simplicity, update our computers about every seven years, our cars every dozen years, our appliances every fifteen years. We have access to the richest array of information sources available through the web, interlibrary loan and personal contact with people doing exciting things. The optimal education and entertainment.

Some things fell out of the picture that many people have come to think of as critical but when we examined what we were getting from the system for our expenditures, we found that we would never opt most of the system-mandated solutions, and the solutions we wanted they would never grant in their place. In the case of medical insurance, we discovered that it required our individual research to even find the treatments we needed so we´re banking on self-funded options.

Imagine your independence, from job market instabilities, workplace tyrannies, independence to be creative, to be self-determined. A lifestyle that most will not understand, even after Escape from Affluenza -- fear that you will fail, and anger that you persist, inspiring attempts at coercion and obstruction. And when your presentations are convincing -- envy that you will succeed, inspiring fear of sudden mass adoption of this alien culture.

But the sudden adoption of a radically different but promising alternative is not a danger in this society. Consider homeschooling as a model. The first few focussed on proving its merits. The next stage focussed on establishing its networks and brought attitude adjustments. Now as record numbers adopt the concept, the whispers of curriculum changes, more charter and special schools, favored university recruiting, in the establishment are barely altering the system. The system´s impending chaos is of its own making, generic to its internal flaws. The system has plenty of time to consider the required changes.

The success of your transition is built into the length and mindfulness of the process of customizing your home-building plans. The simplifying of your lifestyle that takes place, not only engages creativity, self-awareness, and peace, it contributes to the accumulation of the economic resources.

For example among the many experiments we did was to quantify the economics and myriad adjustments required to take the indoor winter temperature down several degrees in our current/conventional house to see what we would need in case our building schedule was delayed and we wouldn´t have the culvert house earth sheltered in time to capture the summer´s warmth in its heat storage area. Along with energy savings of $80-100 per month, we discovered amazing things about clothing and our bodies' adaptive capabilities. The extra layers required for slim figures, or for children´s little forms, made the indoor-to-outdoor routines so easy and taught us the importance of personal temperature. A little extra body weight became a measure of pride. Hoods, quilted clothing, arm/leg warmers, new-fashioned bed warmers, more baking added to camaraderie and adventure. Each discovery lessens the likelihood of failure, improves our solutions, strengthens our resolve.

We´ve been experimenting with both the lifestyle changes and the numbers for several years and the confirmation grows. Not only from our own experience but from those fellow experimenters we share notes with. From those who make the transition in order to retire early by risk-free accessing of the equity in their current home, to the young who find the better home the way to realize dreams of family-centered living, to the teens who invest their education and exploring years and resources in order to prepare for even more ambitious liberation longterm.

There´s power in the strategy to carry your dreams, and in the process expand the possibilities that defeat greed and passivity, redefine wealth and make it accessible to all. For that reason alone, there must be extra angels that guard our efforts in times of difficulty and will be there for you too. Take your time and never give up, your answers are there.

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Better Homes - More equity & less debt, fewer expenses, less maintenance, more space and ease of use...
a business launching strategy

Montana Quonset Home... Dreaming With Our Eyes Open

Ever imagine that you could use that wrench in your hands to create a castle of your own design? Meet a couple who built their own beautiful Earth-sheltered Quonset Home with a view of Big Sky out their front door.

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