Normally I spend my posts on this blog waxing poetically about intense topics like investing, saving, and other areas of immense importance (like food). Today, instead of doing another one of those super-serious blog posts, I decided to just go casual do more of a ‘life update’.
My recent blog posts might give the impression that I’m laser- focused on money and investing, but this is far from the truth. I’m actually spending a lot of my fall outdoors… which is fantastic and something I was missing when I lived the 9-to-5 life.
Now that fall is here, the weather has cooled down considerably. Days are crisp. Nights are getting cold. Like the seasons, the Tako family’s life also goes through little changes and adjustments to match the season.
Tako Jr. #1 and I still make our daily trek to-and-from school, but we’ve now added a hat and thicker coat to our “walking ensemble”. The cold weather doesn’t bother us!
While most parents load their kids into the car every morning and drive them to school, we simply walk the 1 mile from our house. It’s a two mile walk for Tako Jr. every day, but I do it twice (which means 4 miles of walking for me). It’s great exercise!
Colder weather also means I’m regularly cooking up more soups and stews for the family every night — Those tend to be popular meals on cold October nights.
Take for example, this sausage soup garnished with kaiware daikon (radish sprouts). It isn’t terribly pretty like some of my dishes, but it was hot and filled our hungry bellies.
Then there was “The Brisket Incident”. A friend of mine from Texas recently smoked a gigantic brisket for 12 hours, and then gifted me like 7lbs of it. I was a little overwhelmed, but decided to try making some “smoked brisket Pho” with it.
It’s not traditional, but OMG was it delicious! Umami was off the charts. Easily the best Pho I’ve ever made!
Fall also means Halloween and Halloween activities for the kids. This year the boys were old enough to do a little pumpkin carving by themselves (with only minor adult supervision).
Here’s Tako Jr. #1 very seriously cleaning the guts from a pumpkin:
Overall, I think the carvings turned out great for a four-year old and a six-year old carving mostly-solo. We only helped a tiny bit with the tools and strategies. Not bad for first timers!
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to finish off all my outdoor projects before the deluge of Pacific Northwest rain begins (usually in November).
Remember the bench project from my September expense report? Well, I finally got it moved to the front porch a couple of weeks ago:
The bench weighs close to 300lbs, so it was quite the workout to move. (Yep, that’s a solid slab of wood and each of the concrete feet is 120lbs) Let me tell you, nobody is going to be stealing this bench off my porch in the middle of the night!
Overall, I think it’s going to be a great addition to the house. Guests can now sit down and “take a load off” while they put-on or remove their shoes. (We’re a ‘no shoes’ household.)
I also found time to finish my landscaping project that I started WAAAY back in May. If you recall, my landscaping project looked like this at the start of summer:
That’s pretty much how it stayed all summer. I put the project on-hold while we traveled and enjoyed summer-time with the kids. Once school started back-up though, I needed to get to work and finish it.
One day I ordered order 8,000 pounds of rock (3 cubic yards) and had it delivered and dumped in the middle of our driveway.
Boom! Then it was just me, my shovel, and my trusty wheelbarrow moving rock for roughly 4 days.
At first I was disappointed because the rock arrived super dirty. It wasn’t the color I was expecting, but after a couple of rainstorms the rocks cleaned-up nicely and I think it matches the house exterior rather nicely.
The rest of my fall outdoor projects have revolved around preparing the garden and yard for winter. This means cleaning and covering the garden beds (to prevent weeds and soil nutrient leeching), and trimming back dead leaves so the decorative plants look better and grow a little better in our limited winter sunlight.
This red hot poker plant (sometimes called a torch lily) will bloom nicely again next spring.
Another thing we always try to do is plant our garlic in the fall. (Garlic is normally planted in fall and then harvested in summer.) I’m happy to report this year was no exception. This year’s garlic bulbs are already growing quite nicely…
Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow, and one of the most useful in the kitchen too! It is an excellent choice for any economic garden.
Unfortunately all the leaves haven’t quite fallen off the trees yet, so I’ve been procrastinating my fall leaf cleanup. The yard is a total mess right now!
I’ll get it cleaned up… eventually! In the past, cleaning leaves was always one of those irritating chores that I used to dread… but now I find myself actually liking it.
Raking up leaves on a crisp, clear fall day is an extremely pleasant way to pass the time.
Which brings up a salient point about this whole Financial Independence thing… I feel much more in tune with the seasons now and the passage of time. Instead of spending every day in an office, or commuting to work by car (essentially shielding myself from the elements and the changing of the seasons), I now spend a lot more of my time outdoors.
This is something I think people quickly forget when they live in the corporate bubble. They never really get outside all that much.
On any given day I’ll walk Tako Jr. to school, then I might ride my bike to the library, go shopping, or just work on my various outdoor projects. I’m now spending many more hours outside than I ever did when I was working. It’s quite a pleasant way to live actually.
I still spend plenty of time inside… but it seems like I live a much more balanced life now that I’m outside more. Balance is important! It feels like a much better way to live. I highly recommend it!
Enjoy your fall everybody, and have a Happy Halloween!