I feel like the last several weeks have just been a wild ride of revelation and ducklings and craziness. I want to invite you over to have a big piping mug of coffee or an herbal cocktail, and I want to just talk, because everything is happening faster than I can reasonably chronicle it on this blog. If I had you over, all these ideas and anecdotes and stories would tumble out of my mouth faster than I could contain them and I would be a very bad host, hardly letting you get a word in edgewise.
In the blog world, jumping around is very bad form – it’s better to make tiny bite-size, stand alone posts that Google can conveniently index and that are easy to share on Facebook. But hell, some of you have been reading for years – you are virtual friends. I think I can bend the rules this once. So come on in, let me get you a drink and catch you what’s been going on.
1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Holy Mother of God, people, go buy this book. My life actually changed. I first heard about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – a tiny tome of tidying – from Kelly and Erik of Root Simple. They’re the cool LA kids of Urban Homesteading, and personal heroes of mine.)
The wait list at the library for Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was something like 600 people long, but I had a few Audible credits so I downloaded it as an audiobook. This was a great choice.
Over a whirlwind week, I listened to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on my phone on repeat while decluttering according to author Marie Kondo’s simple mantra: if an item doesn’t “spark joy,” out it goes.
I could write a dozen posts about the process, the emotions, the practicalities and more of this method. Realizing many of the things surrounding you do not bring you joy brings up its own mess of emotions.
I had to let go of not just stuff, but of careers and interests I’ve moved on from and will never revisit. I had to let go of the ghosts of half-a-dozen aspirational lives.
I had to confront a strange, confusing sadness when I realized my home – a home I love, connected to gardens I’ve built for over a decade – is simply more than I need. What I need is far less than what I have, and what I want is somewhere in between.
See what I mean? It’s not just organizing – it’s this life changing introspection when your entire relationship to stuff shifts.
But for now, some numbers:
Nick and I set aside items of moderate value through this decluttering process to sell. Depending on the item, it went on Ebay, to the used bookstore, or to a big community garage sale.
Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up “Get-Rid-Of-Our-Stuff” Sales Numbers:
- Garage Sale – $463
- Ebay Sales – $585
- 2nd Hand Bookstore Sale – $22
- Amazon Rebate Book Credits – $96 (Paid in Amazon gift card credit)
Total Sales: $1166
And we aren’t done. There are more items to sell and donate. But for the moment we are taking a breather.
2. We Became A One-Car Family
Out here in suburbia, the expectation is that you should have N+1 cars, where N is the number of licensed drivers in your domicile.
So when Homebrew Husband told his coworkers he was “selling his extra car” most of them assumed he was getting rid of a third vehicle. Nope. With life arranged so that both Nick and I do most of our work from home, having a dedicated commuter car didn’t make sense any more.
We sold the commuter car, kept the more versatile kid-and-chicken-feed-and-straw-hauler, and I tuned up my bike and 7 year old bike trailer for those days when Nick has to take the car all day and I need to run local errands.
Becoming a one-car family in the suburbs has been slightly inconvenient once in the month since we sold the car. Other than that, we haven’t really noticed. There’s been no big crisis that required an extra vehicle, no emergency that required Nick and I both be on the road at the exact same time. It works.
The money we got for selling the extra car went straight into savings, and immediately lowered our expenses on insurance. All in all, it feels really awesome only having one car.
3. Duckling Drama
See Wednesday’s post for the full story. I’ll just reiterate here that ducklings have taken over my life.
Oh, and the little black one? He’s doing great and back out with his family with no sign of problems.
4. Can We talk about Money?
Look, guys, there’s just no way around this. I’ve tried to put it off for as long as possible, and I’ve tried to invest in alternatives, but I had to smack traditional shitty third party ads on this site. This was the hardest blog decision I’ve ever made, and truthfully I’m still really unsure about it.
The reality is, this website costs several hundred dollars a month just to run, and I had to find a way to pay those bills that didn’t require a ton more work for me.
Something like 3-and-a-half million people or more will come visit NWEdible in 2015, and most of them aren’t part of our community. That’s fine – they don’t have to be. They can show up for a jerky recipe or some info on canning and go on their merry way.
Just think about how many sites you visit once and never return to. It’s the nature of the internet.
All those “Wam, Bam, Thank You Ma’am” visitors cost money. Not a lot, individually, but it adds up. And for the most part, they don’t stick around to leave comments, engage, buy a garden planner or be part of our community.
I never wanted to subject our community to those third party, Google AdSense type ads. I find them irritating as hell, to be honest, and I am uncomfortable selling your eyeballs to companies I probably don’t support at all. But realistically, ads were the best way to recoup the cost of people who are one-and-done in their relationship to this site.
I could give you a long list of expenses that have grown as the site has, but I fear that would just be justifying what is, even to me, and ethically iffy decision.
The bottom line is – this site was becoming financially unsustainable. It just wasn’t going to work long-term. I’d rather compromise my ideals a little bit and hopefully make the whole package more sustainable for everyone (including my family) than abandon this space by making the perfect the enemy of the good.
It’s a terribly hard call. Honestly, I have a number of ideas on the back-burner for how I might move away from these ads in the future while still keeping the site financially viable, but all of them require a lot of work I just can’t do right now.
So, for now, it is what it is. I hope you understand, and if you don’t – well, I get that to. That’s why AdBlock is so awesome.
I’d love to know if and how the placement of third party ads on this site impacts you – I suspect most people honestly just don’t care, but if most of my regular readers feel like this is a huge betrayal, I want to know.
5. Eat From The Larder Challenge
Despite the lack of updates, I’m still doing it! No grocery shopping and still using up what we have. This time around has been far easier than last time, but I fear that’s because I’ve been far less hardcore.
I have to admit I slipped. After the exhausting garage sale where I spent all day hawking wine glasses and decorative kitchenware for 25 cents, I left with a car full of donation items and about $500 in cash in my wallet.
We stopped and got burgers. I’ll admit – not cooking was absolutely delicious.
Full post with food photos soon but one thing I’ve really noticed this time around is how nice dietary flexibility is when eating from a rapidly dwindling cache of food. Some days we eat full vegetarian, some days it’s paleo meat and salad, some days it’s a big hunk of whole wheat bread and some simple soup, some days no gluten or grains pass our lips.
None of this is out of some dietary identification as vegetarian or paleo or gluten free or whatever. We just eat all the things, in whatever combination seems to work that day. No one in my immediate family has allergies or severe food intolerances or ethical issues with meat consumption, so there are no practical impediments to eating this way.
I gotta say, in the natural living blog world, people often define themselves by what foods they will and won’t eat. Sometimes I feel like I’m a radical omnivore. Like I’m making some kind of statement by liking both steak and chickpeas, bread and broccoli. Weird, huh?
So, that’s the last several weeks of my life in one giant nutshell.
Jason Sinclair says
Bring on the ads! If they’re pertinent, we’ll learn something. If not, we’ll use out Internet blind spot and un-see them (roll to disbelieve). You deserve to be paid for your hard work and many people, myself included, would be damn unhappy if your web site went poof.
On my end, I’ve been…
– Re-building my annual low-class green house out of PVS and plastic drop cloths
– Jumping around in frustration that my green beans haven’t sprouted yet
– Weeding around cabbages, thinning the Asian green and glaring at the beets
– Writing a web comic with a friend that’s snowballing into a graphic novel
– Slogging through an edit for a mystery novel
– Submitting manuscripts to Tor
– Preparing for travel to in-laws in Oregon
– Preparing for the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane
– Seeing (yet) more doctors, taking more tests
– Planning my twin’s fifth birthday party
– Doing the usual grocery, cooking, cleaning, and kid wrangling stuff
– Juggling heart meds, huffing tanked oxygen and refining my gallows humor
Damn. I need to delegate. And take a nap. 😛
Yeah, WHAT is with the green beans this year??? I keep planting, they keep not coming up. Yet the peas and tomatoes (and weeds) are germinating fine, so it’s not some general soil deficiency or whatever. Just a bad year for beans?
I don’t usually comment, but with someday dreams of living in the PNW with a fantastic garden, I read almost every word you write. Put as many ads on here as you need to. If I had money to donate to the seed fund, I would, but I don’t, and so I’m more than happy to support you by reading and clicking on ads. Just please keep gardening.
I had to turn off my adblock to find the ads. Usually I can tell where they are but not this time. I find them completely unbother-some even with the adblock off (nice to know too, your site just got white listed on the ad-block, so I’ll see your ads).
The ones that bother me are (and yup you nailed it in your comment above) the ones that scroll across the screen, the ones that play videos, or music, or other such sillyness!
I envy you the one car household. My husband and I have considered it repeatedly. However we live 1/2hr from EVERYTHING, and even if only one of us is working trying to schedule Dr visits, and vet visits and store runs and everything else so that we only need one car just doesn’t work when you add in the round-trip-time…..
Yep, I, too, had to “look” for the ads because I am so accustomed to tuning them out, so I wouldn’t worry about it. What I have learned from your blog has been invaluable. I teach at an elementary Montessori school, and I have passed along much of my gardening skills learned here onto the next generation, so if a few ads subsidize that kind of informational power, bring it on.
that’s awesome! thanks for teaching them 🙂
I’m not a homesteader and I’m never gonna be, but I do love your blog and and still learning from you. I don’t understand why your blog costs you money, but I believe you 100% and can ignore your ads just as well as all the other ads I ignore, so do whatever you need to do -please- to keep on writing!
I agree, I ignore the ads, and you making money is fine by me. BTW, I love my Garden Planner and Journal I purchased from you and highly recommend it! I have pre-ordered 2 of your books! I love your blog and have learned so much from you!
Coffee any time!!
Janet in woodway
Ads don’t bother me when there is real content on the site. Some sites have really good product linkages that may be helpful to the audience. Ads only are annoying when that is the sole reason for the page and when it is click baiting.
I started to do the home downsizing from your inspiration, but I will admit to being overwhelmed by clothes and I am by no means a clothes horse, although I still have clothes I wear regularly that are 20 or more years old. Books have been slower. I got through the kid’s books, and started on mine.
We have too much house on purpose. We have a basement suite that I intended to rent out when we bought the house. City permit reasons nixed this plan, but those rules have lightened up. But now we want to try our hand at Airbnb. I have friends who pay a significant part of their mortgage this way. It might be something for you to look into. I bet people would love to stay at your place with the gardens, and poultry. Just a thought.
Thanks for doing the work that you do because it does change people’s lives for the better.
Kris @ Attainable Sustainable says
A friend of mine has been tagging a bunch of tidy photos with #konmari but I didn’t realize it was related to this book you mention. I am immensely intrigued!
Ina from Amsterdam says
This is the first or second time I leave a comment here but I read all your posts. I love the way you write…it is funny how I religiously read your gardening and cooking posts,since I cannot do either of them from my apartment in middle of Amsterdam. However,you have such a way with words that I’m addicted to your blog for a couple of years already. I agree that you should get something out of it, so the ads are totally fine. Will keep coming back for your posts,even if I don’t have much to share. Kisses from Amsterdam!
Bring on the ads!! *gasp*panic attack* I’ll take them, just don’t leave the interwebzzzzzz!!
I’ve yet to find such an in-depth and fun gardening/family site like yours. That you live in the same gardening zone makes it even better-you have no idea how many times I’ve stared at the garden, pulling out my hair, only to find the answer on your website. Or I find other people suffering the same fate and it takes some of the sting away.
Have you thought about offering an online class? Maybe about blogging or gardening (or blogging about gardening)?
Congrats on the housecleaning! We are (slowly, so freaking slowly) going through the house and doing the same. Its painful and I’ve yet to convince the kids to pry their grimy fingers off any toys but its getting done.
Now, to hunt down your potato bin post. Last year’s experiment failed so its time to try something new. Keep up the FANTASTIC work! And if you go to the Albany Mother Earth News Fair don’t be surprised if a short brunette waves manically from a distant.
Thanks for choosing ads and being real about it. I love your blog and am happy you found a way to make it work for you and your family.
I’m so relieved! Ads I can deal with, but I didn’t want you to say you were quitting your blog. Also relieved about black duckling. Also really into the idea of getting rid of stuff that doesn’t cause joy.
Great update post! The kids and I have been following the duckling drama. We’re all happy to hear everyone is finally doing well. I hope AdSense or some other form of monetization works out for you. It takes a lot of time and energy to blog, it shouldn’t be a financial burden as well. I’m still trying to figure out the whole ad thing, but there are some decent companies you can affiliate with. The downside is they get a lot of free advertising while you only get a small commission.
Meh. Ads suck, but are far, FAR preferable to your blog going away. There are posts I’ve read two or three (or a dozen–mayonnaise, anyone?) times… Your blog is the ONLY one I read regularly; I pop in on others a few times a month or year, but I never miss a post from you. So bring on the ads, I’ll ignore them as I do on the other 99% of the internet. 🙂
Glad your duckling is doing well! I still think ducks are in our future, maybe a year or two. We just added beehives, as in, just two weeks ago, so I’m cramming all books bee-related right now… No time for ducks this year. 🙁
I have one-car envy. We had one car for four years, but bought another 5 years ago. We’ve brainstormed how to get back down to one, but with our location and work schedules and kid schedules, it’s just not feasible.
Thanks for all you do!!
Jennifer DS says
When the content is as good as yours I don’t care about the ads. No judgment – do what you have to do to stay on air. And thanks for what you do, your intellectual rigour and your humour. Your site is one of the few where I will come back to a post again and again to check if I have something right. I feel very naive about the amount of effort you need to put in. But having said that it does show.
I just finished that book about tidying up! I am super excited to get started on the great purge. I’ve started looking around and seeing that I really just want to get rid of stuff, simplify.
And I agree with above comments, I don’t care about the ads if I still have you. 😉
Ien in the Kootenays says
For goodness sake woman, enough with the apologizing! I had no idea this blog was costing you money. We are all grownups and can ignore ads we don’t agree with. You are indeed one of my favourite bloggers and deliver value for eyeball time. As for decluttering, I feel a visit to FlyLady coming on. I can do without the saccharine Christian lady stuff, but the tips are awesome. And now, back outside….
Ads are a-okay as long as you don’t leave us!
I’ve seen several mentions of that tidying book…gonna have to check it out.
Put the ads in rather than go off line. Maybe some of them are OK. Love your blog.
As long as you don’t have the ads that pop up over what I’m trying to read, we’re cool. Or even pop up at the bottom. Just no popping!
Lois Tonkin says
Same with the ads Erica. I didn’t even notice (but I would have if it had started flashing or talking at me). I’m in New Zealand, and I love your blog, even though a lot doesn’t apply. I just love the *spirit* of it, and that certainly applies, wherever we are. Also, I want to acknowledge your commitment to the little black duckling, and your diagnostic skills! May the road to Heaven be lined with happy quacking ducks for you 😉
I love your blog and will take it any way I can get it!
Oh, life of pie, honey. Put ads on your blog if you need to. Don’t even worry about it. 🙂
The tidying up book sounds amazing. I will definitely look into it. (I like the “does this inspire joy” test. It’s a little bit daunting because, yeah, the ghosts of possible lives… But it’s worth thinking about. AFTER the “does this fit, will I ever wear it again” question, mind you).
I know what you mean about “radical omnivore”. I do a lot of lentils-and-rice in meat stock around here, and it feels like that sometimes.
I’ve been gardening – at long last – and I’m really excited about it. One of our sweethearts gave us a rhubarb cutting, and my peas are starting to look like peas! 😀
We had a full house this weekend, and it was wonderful. My wife and I are fast confirming that we LIKE being the house where our People congregate and get fed. 🙂 Open doors, and all that. 🙂
Hi Erica, I’m one of those folks who loves the blog and reads all your posts, but rarely comments, so just wanted to chime in and say I don’t mind the ads, they’re very subtle compared to a lot of sites. And I would definitely pay a subscription for your content if you decide to go in that direction. Have you looked into Patreon? I don’t know a lot about the details, but as I understand it, it helps you manage a monthly subscription service with different levels of support, where patrons get access to extra content depending on their support level. My husband is a patron for several webcomics he likes, and it seems like an interesting way to monetize creative endeavors.
Also wanted to add that my husband and I have been a one-car family for over 8 years, and it’s great! We live out of town and people are constantly amazed that we can survive with one car, but honestly we’ve been doing it for so long now, we don’t even think about it anymore. At this point, it would feel really weird and frivolous to have two cars. I also think it has helped us to slow down and really prioritize our activities. Plus, you might get kinda famous. Along with our one car, we also have one cell phone (whoever has the car has the phone) and these two oddities are so novel that they often get immediately pointed out by our friends, “Oh have you met D & J? Well, did you know they share a car AND a cell phone? Yes, it’s true, come meet these rare, under-consuming creatures I call my friends!” It’s actually pretty sweet 🙂
Jenny B says
Love your site! If ads keep it running, then so be it!
Just one more reader chiming in to say I rely on your posts. I came for the tomato sauce canning tips, returned for half-assed Hugelkultur, and before long I was emailing you to gush about the agony and ecstasy of Raintree’s catalog.
Ads? Who notices them or cares. Several of my favorite sites have ads and I don’t find it unethical at all. I don’t want to live in a world where only rich people can blog, so like everyone else these days I’ve trained myself to ignore side bar ads.
We’re all rooting for those ducklings!
Thank you for being so cool.
I didn’t find the ads a problem on this post, at least. And I’d definitely rather ignore the ads than lose your blog! I like the occasional “here’s what’s happening in my life” post. It feels like we really are chatting instead of just reading a magazine full of recipes, etc.
First, thanks for doing what you do. I learn a lot from you, and really appreciate your well-reasoned, thoughtful, inclusive, and detailed perspective on a variety of topics.
Second, AdBlock works efficiently enough that ads rarely break through. Since third-party ads are not sitting well with you, have you considered a different model? Karen Bertelson, of ‘The Art of Doing Stuff,’ writes quite openly about the need to monetize her blog:
She has a small number of advertisers, most of whom were new to me, but who have been interesting enough to have spurred gift and personal purchases. One of her advertisers turned a flame birch rolling pin that almost glows from within — it’s truly beautiful, as well as functional.
Thank you for the reminder to eat down the pantry and freezer, too. I keep forgetting to pull out some chickens for smoking on the weekend, and desperately need to pull everything out and find some kind of stackable freezer racks, so it’s not an eternal archaeological dig every time I want to find some chickpeas.
Looking forward to your book!
Don’t sweat the ads. Just keep writing and educating/entertaining us. You are a spark of joy to read and some silly/necessary ads certainly won’t put you on my ‘don’t keep’ list.
To be honest, I didn’t even notice the ads. I’d much rather read your blog and learn from you and your readers, and I bet most of us feel that way too. Those of us who want to be are ad-avoidance-savvy these days.
All the best to you and your family!
I’m an every once in a while reader, occasional commenter. I remember two other bloggers asking about ads. One blot (young house love, RIP), the commenters complained about the ads, other were strongly suspicions that the giveaways were product placement, even through the bloggers clearly stated that they were often products offered to them for free, which they turned into a giveaway. Another blog (makingitlovely), she has managed to turn a tidy profit, but she also had people complaining about clearly sponsored ads.
Here is my point, you can’t make everyone happy. You deserve to earn a paycheck; this is work.
I promise to comment if there are obnoxious ads. I went a new blog today and had this awful starbucks ads that wouldn’t let me scroll. I’m never going back there and I told them.
I have been reading your blog for years and have really appreciated it through out. I’m finally delurking to say that I think the ads are just part of the world we live in now. I would much rather be subject to ads and leave the site accessible to everyone without something like a membership than have the people who most need the information not getting it. And, as you say, if someone finds it off putting, there’s ad block.
It just seems to me that it’s the trade off we have to make. And honestly, if I’m buying a magazine with similar content, I’m paying for the magazine and the ads without the fun of the immediacy and interaction of the comments so even with the ads I think you’re still ahead here.
Kathy Denatale says
I just found your site, I was reading about ducklings, and then kept on reading. I don’t care if you have ads on your site or not. but I do like what you write and so will bookmark and be back. to read more. Anyway, blow of the trolls and carry on, if you answer them they just get worse and bring inn their troll-ets. I am a terrible gardener but I still like it. I am also in The Pacific northwest ( Oregon coast) so I think I can learn from you . Yay!