Reunited And It Feels SO Good!

Michael and all our fur-kids are here! (and have been for a few days… I just could NOT get around to writing and posting)


After 3 months in the mountains missing him (and my Bailey) he is here and we are officially completely moved! Michael was able to find a temporary job at the college I work at (Yay for lunch together again!)  which we’re hoping will lead to a more permanent position.    Mountain life is great. Every time I leave the house (or even just look outside) I am awed at the luscious green everywhere I look. It’s nice to not see pavement and civilization everywhere. Large chunks of land are dense natural forest. It’s amazing! Part of the reason it’s so green is that it rains A LOT… I thought I was moving here from the tropics, it rains every day in Florida in certain seasons. This is totally different. It rains for weeks straight. In the last few weeks we’ve only had a couple days that it didn’t rain all day. Turns out, Southern Appalachia is a temperate rain forest! I knew that before I moved here but I don’t think I knew exactly how rainy that was. Not that I am complaining at all, the abundant water is one of the reasons we chose to homestead in this area. I’m sure I’ll be especially grateful once I have a big garden I don’t have to water.

On Michael’s second day here, we put together one of the 80 gallon compost tumblers I got on a sweet deal a while ago. I’m really glad to have that up and running because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could handle the guilt of putting compostable things in the trash… All the seedlings I started died due to an unfortunate accident involving strong winds… I have a few things I am growing in pots on the porch (and in the kitchen) but I think I have given up the idea of having a real garden in this rental house. Honestly, I’m hoping that we will find our homestead property soon so we can move out of the tiny, old rental we’re in. If that hope were to come to fruition, all the work I’d put into starting that garden would be wasted. Besides, with my expanded work hours and longer commute (compared to my previous job), the property search, on top of the usual household and life sustaining chores, I don’t have much time to be putting into a garden. That being said, in the little spare time I do have, I assigned myself some homework. I am reading a bunch of Bill Mollison’s Permaculture textbooks (Permaculture One, Permaculture Two, and Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual). I am toying with the idea of getting a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) but this would only be worthwhile as a knowledge-proving credential if I wanted to make a living doing permaculture design… which I’m not opposed to but I’m not sure if that’s what I really want to do. I think I’ll have a better idea after I finish the books.

A few weeks ago I went to the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville. I meant to post about it separately but never got around to it, so I’ll just cram it in this post! It was amazing! I got a weekend pass and went both days, although I left early the second day because I was exhausted and suffering from information (and people) overload. We are definitely going to go the next time it’s in town, which I think is annually. Hopefully next time, we will have our land and that will make some of the concepts being taught more tangible. If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of these conferences, I enthusiastically recommend it!

We are scheduled to close on the sale of our house in Florida on June 16th and have already begun searching for a property up here in NC to purchase. I’ve seen about 15 properties in person (Michael has been here to see 4 of them) and I spend way too much of my time scouring the internet looking for other potential places. Finding the right place for us has been, and will continue to be, challenging. From what I gather, buying a home/land is always difficult, time consuming, and a lot of work. Of course, I knew that going into this. But, there are some added concerns that I didn’t really have to deal with when I bought my house in Florida. One is that over half of the places we’ve seen have water problems, from leaky roofs to wet basements… apparently people don’t consider the fact that this is a legit RAIN FOREST when they build houses here and so a lot of people have issues with water damage, mold, and rot. It’s pretty discouraging when some otherwise fantastic houses have an issue like that. Also, a lot of the properties up here are mobile homes/trailers. Securing financing for these is an added layer of complication, and since they won’t hold resale value like a “site built” house it means any mobile homes we consider have to have some other features that will help the land build and hold value.

Because we are buying land that is to be our future homestead, we have a reasonably long list of “needs” and “wants” that we are hoping to find in whatever we purchase. We’d like there to be several “usable” acres, at least two water sources, good sun exposure, good neighbors, less than an hour from where we work, and the list goes on. Some of these things are somewhat negotiable, for example, our definition of “usable” land is probably different from most people. This is the mountains, you can buy 10 acres but there’s a good chance (at least in our price range) that only an acre of it is usable at all. And by usable I mean less than a 30% slope. A lot of people think you mean cleared and flat pasture when you say you want “usable” land; we’re not that picky. If there isn’t a secondary water source on the property, we’d still consider it if we can get it cheap enough that we can afford to have a well drilled later. We will not consider any property that is in an HOA or any sort of restrictions. We’re not going to deal with someone telling us we can’t build a shed, or that our chickens are “illegal” or any of that nonsense. So, that rules out a lot of potential places too. I won’t go into any more explanation right now or this post will end up a mile long (it’s already way longer than I intended it to be) but suffice it to say we have our work cut out for us! We’re scheduled to see two more properties this coming weekend. One of them I looked at before Michael got here and I want him to see it because it meets much of our criteria. Hopefully we find some promising places soon because I am chomping at the bit to start building and living our homestead dream!

It’s Official!

It’s official! I am a North Carolinian!
Well, according to the state of North Carolina anyway (I have a feeling some of the locals would have a different opinion). I spent a morning last week getting my North Carolina Driver’s License and License Plate. While the DMV was predictably unfun, the people working there were nice and I got everything done; so hopefully I don’t have to go back for a LONG time. Woo-hoo!!

I have been in NC for a little over 2 weeks now. All our belongings arrived about a week ago. Aside from Michael (and Bailey… and Mango) not being here yet (I am missing them terribly), it’s starting to feel like “home”. It has set in that this is not a vacation. I have had almost two weeks on my own (plus a few days the previous week with my predecessor) at my new job. I think once I settle in and learn the new software, and new policy/structure, I will feel right at home there also. Everyone I work with seems really nice and not at all annoyed with all my frequent interruptions to ask them questions. All that, AND my drive to work has some amazing scenery.

The weekend before last, Michael and his brother (and Bailey) came up to help unload the trailer with all our stuff in it. We used a moving company called U-Pack. I think we definitely made the right decision on that front. This company dropped off a giant 28’ trailer thing in the driveway in Florida. We put all our stuff in. They picked it up and drove it to the new house in North Carolina. Doing it this way really made the logistics of getting our stuff moved so much easier! We paid by the foot and since we only used the first 12’ of the trailer it saved us some money. This was great because deciding how big of a truck you need is darn near impossible. Also, it was cheaper than renting a U-haul truck and just a little bit more than a Penkse truck, for our move. Plus, neither of us had to drive and maneuver a big ol’ truck 12 hours and into the mountains! Additionally, there was a possibility that I would have needed to move up here before we found a place to live, if that happened they could have stored everything for me until I found a place. Going this route saved me so much stress! And the drivers from the company seem highly skilled because they fit the trailer some tight locations. My new NC neighbors were impressed lol. I don’t plan on making any more long-distance moves in my life but if I did, I would use them again. It definitely took a lot of stress off of my shoulders.

I think I can comfortably say that I am mostly unpacked. I do have some boxes stacked around the house… Ok, a lot of boxes. But in my defense, most of them are not going to be unpacked in this house; they will stay boxed until we get our forever land and home. I am hoping the Florida house can be ready to put up for sale the week after next. Michael is working hard trying to get the last few projects completed before it’s listed.  The sooner it sells the sooner Michael can come up here… AND, the sooner we can get our land.

It snowed this past weekend. So, while I was inside keeping warm, I started some of the garden projects I’ve been itching to start. I upgraded my worm bin. I had a worm bin in Florida but for some reason they all disappeared a couple months before the move. So, I planned to start over once I got to NC. A wonderful and generous (former) co-worker in Florida gave me some of her worms to bring to NC with me. I got them some bigger accommodations and set that all up. They live in the kitchen for now but once it warms up I’ll move them outside.  

I also started some seeds in a seed tray for transplanting into our first NC garden when it warms up. In the past I hadn’t bothered with starting seeds inside but it’s necessary now that I live somewhere that freezes. I started seeds for asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, peas, spinach, and tomatoes. At least 2 varieties of each type are in this round. There are some things I will direct sow into the garden bed and I may start another tray or two of seeds inside when my next seed order arrives…

I ordered a bunch of seeds from SeedsNow this weekend. I usually order from SeedsNow because they have a great selection, good prices (plus they email me discounts), all their seeds are non-GMO and many are organic, heirloom varieties. They have an awesome search tool that makes it super easy to find the right seeds for your climate and planting location. When I was shopping on the website this weekend I signed up as a SeedsNow affiliate. For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, it means that if you use my link, it doesn’t cost you any extra but I will get 20% of whatever you spend! Basically, I am collecting a marketing fee from SeedsNow to encourage others to buy from them. It is pretty amazing actually! I have been recommending them to people for years, even before I was an affiliate, but now I get paid to do it! So, if you’re going to buy seeds anyway, consider buying them through my affiliate link and help support our homestead dream. It would be greatly appreciated!
This weekend I will be assembling one of the compost tumblers we got on a sweet deal. I’m pretty excited to see how they’ll work. I’ll keep you posted, of course. 

Hope you are all chasing your dreams too! Thanks for following along 🙂

Packing and Moving

T minus 5 days to departure!

That’s right. In just 5 short days I will be packing up (almost) all our belongings and driving north. Not for a vacation, but to live!

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!

We have been planning for this move for a few years and preparing for over a year. This means when I got the call saying I got the job in Asheville, the house was already more than half packed. I already had a (mental) list of all the furniture that would be coming with and the stuff that would be getting trashed/donated. Of course this list did require modification based on what kind of rental I could get up near Asheville.

When I was in NC for the interview, I looked at 1 rental house. It was the only one I could find that met our needs and the only one was able to schedule to see in person on a Sunday (the only day I was in town and available). I wasn’t thrilled with the house, but it was satisfactory. It is small, old, and in town. It has no A/C and no central heat, just an oil heat monitor (don’t really know anything about that but I’m sure I’ll learn fast). But, it is cost effective, less than 30 minutes from my new job, and it has a big garden plot we get to use (YAY!). All that was almost completely irrelevant. The biggest, most important factor was one that I knew would be a challenge during our housing search, but I had no idea how challenging….. This little house was THE ONLY place that would allow my pets; I have a dog, Bailey, a Catahoula mix who is around 50 lbs, and 2 cats, Kona and Mango. Every. Single. Place. within 45 minutes of my work either had 2 pet limits, or 15lb weight limits for dogs. Or, in one instance, was about $400/month more expensive than everything else. The most commonly suggested solution to my dilemma was that I have a secret cat. While I came to terms with the fact that I would do that before I got rid of any of my animals, I REALLY didn’t want to be dishonest. After scouring the internet and calling a whole bunch of apartment complexes to see if there was any exceptions to their official pet policies. We went ahead and applied for the little house I saw while I was up there for the interview and we got it (I just heard back this morning)! I’ll be honest, I was a little panicked about the possibility of moving up there without a place to live. Hotel living is expensive and uncomfortable and creates a number of other complications, like what do we do with all our stuff during the period of hotel living.

At this point, we have finished packing almost everything except for things we are still using. Most of the garage has been cleared out and we have begun staging the items to be moved in the garage. Until today, I thought we were going to use U-Pack ReloCubes but when I told U-Pack the address we would be moving to they said they can’t deliver ReloCubes to that location, so I would have to go with the trailer. Luckily, I found this out before it was too late or it could have been a disaster! Both the trailer and the cubes function the same way, they deliver the cubes or trailer to your house, you have 3 days to fill it, they pick it up, a week’ish later they deliver to your new location, and you have 3 days to unload. If I had gone up there without a place to live yet, they offered storage but that of course costs money and you don’t have access to your stuff for that whole time. We went this route, as opposed to just renting a truck and driving it up, for a bunch of reasons. First, we don’t have to drive a big truck for 12 hours and into the mountains. With the trailer being picked up and delivered in roughly a week, I can help load, go up and start my new job and then Michael can come up later to help me unload. Also, it is about $200 more (for our move) than renting a Penske truck. To me, all the benefits are worth the $200.

As prepared as we were for the move, it has still been a pretty chaotic week since I got the job offer. But, we are arriving at the point now that almost all the plans have been made and it is just a matter of going through the motions. I think now that I have a place to go, I will feel less mentally stressed. But, this means the physical stress is going to get kicked up a notch. My bed time has already been pushed back an hour or so and there is no more sleeping in on the weekends to get as much done as possible each day. I am already feeling the pain of the heaving lifting and sleep deprivation and that is going to continue for another couple weeks until everything is unloaded in NC. But, it will all be worth it when we get our land and get to start building our homestead.
The homestead life is certainly not one that is chosen for its easy living and excessive leisure. It is a life of sore muscles and lost sleep, at least that’s what I hear. I will be able to personally vouch for this statement in the next few years. But it is also a life of passion, love, freedom, ingenuity, delicious and healthy food, appreciation for the natural world around you, and a million other positives that more than make up for the difficulty. For now, I will remember that growth is often painful and I will chose to look at the hardships of the moment as training and growth for the future life we are building.

It’s finally happening!! We’re moving to the mountains!!!

It’s finally happening, y’all!

I got a job in North Carolina! I will be working at a college in Asheville; serving in the same capacity that I do my current college, working with veterans to secure their education benefits. I am so excited that I get to keep doing what I love and move to the mountains and start doing even more things I love!

So, now starts a whirlwind of chaos as we finish a few things in the house in Florida and put it on the market. Then, in less than three weeks I will move to start my new job. Which means I also have to find a place to live near my new office that allows pets… Not an easy task, especially from a distance. I also have to figure out the logistics of moving all our stuff since we aren’t moving at the same time. (Michael will stay behind until the house sells and/or he gets a job in North Carolina also.) The list goes on and on and on…

As soon as the house in Florida sells, it will be time to buy some land in North Carolina and start building our homestead! The next year (and probably the rest of my life) will be one wild ride and I am so excited!

I have talked to many other people who are interested in a similar path. I know when I was just beginning to think about going down this rabbit hole, I read SO many stories by other people who had done it before me. It helped me think the whole process through and really inspired me when I felt discouraged. I will share some of these books and blogs, as well as my personal experiences, on MountainBound.org and the new Mountain Bound Facebook page. So, if you are interested in learning more about this lifestyle please follow Mountain Bound on Facebook and keep checking the website and see what it’s all about! I will do my best to post frequently about our progress, even during the chaos.

*happy dance* “We’re goin’ to the mountains… We’re goin’ to the mountains… We’re goin’ to the mountains…” *happy dance*

Web design noob!

Creating a website while on a mission toward self-sufficiency means I must learn at least some webdesign— so I can create and run the website myself. It is very challenging, especially with everything else going on right now (more on that in a later post). But, I have started teaching myself using codeacademy.com and some youtube videos. There is so much to learn! I have completed the HTML and CSS training. I am now working on the PHP training.

I decided to take the leap and create this site before I really knew what I was doing. You know what they say, experience is the best teacher! So, I’m diving in and doing what I can and learning as I go. You can see how it’s going… the site is very basic. And I haven’t figured out how to make it do several things I want it to do. But, as I progress, you will begin to see the evolution and growth of the site.

As I mentioned in the first post on this blog, I have been planning to create a website for a while. I was inspired to finally do it after listening to a great podcast from The Survival Podcast. Jack, the guy who does the podcast, interviewed Austin, from Homesteady (who has a podcast and website of his own). Halfway through the podcast, I decided it was time, I decided to take the leap and start my own website. Not a .blogspot type (like my first blog), but a website I would own! This meant doing a lot of research on purchasing a domain and web hosting. 

If you are thinking about creating your own website be sure to do some research before you jump in. There is a lot to consider. Give the podcast (linked here and above) a listen.  I also found The Site Wizard and several of their pages to be a helpful starting point. I have provided links below.

How to Start / Create a Website: The Beginner’s A-Z Guide
How to Register Your Own Domain Name
Important Precautions to Take When Buying a Domain Name

After I learn more, I will share it with you.

Do you have your own website? What are some of your favorite resources for building and maintaining your website?

Do you have a WordPress site? What are your favorite plug-ins?

We Are Mountain Bound

Hello, people of the internet!

My name is Sarah and I am the new proud owner of MountainBound.org.

This project has been in the idea phase for years. I started a cooking blog years ago to get a feel for blogging but over time I decided I wanted to have a blog with a little more possibility. What do I mean by that? What is Mountain Bound going to be about? Well, I will tell you. But first, let me start with some background….

Bound: (adjective) Heading toward somewhere.
Mountain Bound: Heading to the mountains.

My partner and I currently live in South Florida but have been planning a move to the mountains of North Carolina for a few years now. We are at the point in the process that all we need is for one of us to secure employment and then I will put my house on the market and we will make the leap. Once we get up there, we will begin the process of purchasing land, building a home (or renovating an existing home), and growing a homestead. In the meantime we have been learning all we can about the homesteader lifestyle that we intend to live once we get up there, and we are putting into action all that we can now.

Bound: (noun) A leaping movement upward. (verb) Walk or run with leaping strides.
Mountain Bound: Huge (read: mountainous) leaps in knowledge, skill, character, health, etc.

The cooking blog I started was kind of a natural place to start for me because one of the first things I began learning was to cook from scratch. I have always enjoyed cooking. I grew up cooking with my mom regularly. After moving out of my parents house though, I became a consumer of mostly convenience foods. You know, the packaged stuff you add water too and it only takes 10 minutes and zero thought. After a few years of eating that way I began to realize that I was completely unhealthy. I had gained quite a bit of weight and I was sick all the time. So, I started making changes. Over the last few years I have honed my skills and now most of the meals I make are from scratch and healthy (or relatively healthy).

The next natural step was gardening. I took the stance that to cook truly “from scratch” I needed to grow/raise the food myself. Last year, we had our first garden and I loved going out into the yard to pick the ingredients for that day’s dinner. We don’t have a garden right now because our focus in the last 6 months has been on getting the house ready to sell. But, I can’t wait to have a HUGE mountain garden!

We desire to attain a certain level of self-sufficiency (I will write a post about self-sufficiency and what that means to us in the near future). We try to “DIY” everything that we can. For example, instead of hiring someone to replace the flooring in the house, we did it ourselves (with some help from our families). In this process, we learned another new skill, laying tile.

Bound: (adjective) tied, in bonds.
Mountain Bound: Tied to the mountains in spirit.

Why have we started this journey? In part, because we feel drawn to it; tied to it. We knew we wanted to move to somewhere we could start this new life we are building but we had the whole country (whole world) to consider. It didn’t take us long to settle on the mountains of Western North Carolina, for so many reasons. For the last couple years we have been going up there to visit and explore and every time we have to leave to come back “home” to Florida we don’t want to. And not just because we don’t want our vacation to be over. But because the mountains really feel like our home. We feel at peace there. We have already rooted our heartstrings in those mountains and we can’t wait to go home and really put down roots.

So, what will Mountain Bound be about? It will be about our journey. It will be about all the new things we learn. It will be about building a homestead, raising our own food, self-sufficiency, and anything and everything that is related to this journey. This may include tutorials for projects, recipes, stories about our experiences, and anything else I think people might be interested in seeing or being a part of. There is SO much to learn and do and I am so excited to be able to share it with you.

By now you have likely figured out why I chose the name Mountain Bound… Because we are Mountain Bound, in just about every way it can be meant.

I hope you will join us on our journey!