Make It This Weekend: Kuchen!

This past weekend, Mr. ThreeYear’s sweet tooth was activated. Unfortunately, my emergency supply of cake mix was depleted, so we had to resort to Plan B. “I would love some kuchen right about now,” he said.

Kuchen--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Kuchen, which originated in Germany, is a delectable cross between a fruit pie and a tart. Let’s start with the pronunciation. I know it’s tempting, but it’s not in fact pronounced like kitchen with a “u”–instead, coo at a hen and you’ve said it correctly. Continue reading “Make It This Weekend: Kuchen!”

Can You Shop Zero Waste and Be Frugal?

I discovered the Zero Waste movement, like so many others, when I stumbled on Béa Johnson’s blog, Zero Waste Home. Zero Wasters try to purchase and create as little trash as possible. People like Bea, who really originated the movement, get so good at it they can put all of the trash they generate in a year in a mason jar–everything else is refused, reused,reduced, recycled, or rotted, in that order.

Zero Waste and Frugal--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

The movement is super inspiring. Paying attention to how much trash you purchase and/or generate gets you thinking about how much waste we, as a society, generate. Zero wasters freely admit that for most people, creating no trash is really hard, if not impossible. The idea is to reduce as much as possible the amount of trash you create, to really think about what you purchase and be creative about ways of buying stuff with less packaging.

The biggest place you can make a difference in the amount of waste you make is at the grocery store. Continue reading “Can You Shop Zero Waste and Be Frugal?”

How We Spent $0 on Clothing Our Kids This Year

If you have kids, you know that outfitting them can be a challenge. Kids grow so quickly that they can sometimes shoot up a size overnight. This growth magic apparently happened to my youngest son night before last, because yesterday he told me, “Mom, I can’t button these jeans. They’re too tight!” Because I heart hand-me-downs, I pulled out my Voodoo-Overnight-Growth-Thing-Happened-Larger-Sizes-Clothing Container.

Box of clothes--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
The container!!

I’ve heard people say (ok, it was actually just one), “I would never let my child wear someone else’s jeans. That’s just gross.” No, that’s just ridiculous. Continue reading “How We Spent $0 on Clothing Our Kids This Year”

That Time I Moved to a Different Continent

Our family is on a journey to become location independent in three years. One of our plans is to move across the world for a few years. Today, I’ll share the story of the last time I moved to a different continent.

Moved Continents--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Travel back with me, to many, many, many (ok, not quite so many) years ago. The setting: a shabby chic apartment near my college campus. Two twenty-something women are starting to realize that the real world was closer at hand than they would like: Continue reading “That Time I Moved to a Different Continent”

On Continuous Improvement

“It’s simple. You just take something, and then you do something to it. Then you do something else to it. And then something else. Keep this up and pretty soon you’ve got something.”

-Jasper Johns, Twentieth century American artist (who, incidentally, grew up near my hometown)

Continuous improvement is an idea that comes from the business world. After World War II, Japanese manufacturers invited W. Edwards Deming, an American engineer, professor, and management consultant, to their country to help them improve their manufacturing and production processes. Before the war, Japan was synonymous with cheap goods and shoddy craftsmanship. Deming taught leaders that improving the quality of their products would reduce expenses while increasing productivity and market share.

boy in mask--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

In 1982, Deming published a book, Out of the Crisis, outlining his philosophy. “Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.” Continue reading “On Continuous Improvement”

Closet-to-Bathroom Conversion

Part of our family’s plan for becoming location independent in the next three years is to sell our house and convert the equity into equities (excuse my bad finance joke there). We bought a short sale in 2012 and have lived in the house for five years. By the time we’re ready to move, we will have lived here for seven and a half years. Which is exactly half the length of our 15-year mortgage. (If only that meant half of the house would be paid off…. But I digress…).

closet to bathroom conversion--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Since we were fortunate enough to buy an undervalued property, we’re hoping to sell the house for quite a bit more than we paid for it, but to do so will mean some strategic investments. Continue reading “Closet-to-Bathroom Conversion”

Combatting the Mid-Winter Blues

Midwinter is always the time of year that gets to me in New England. It’s March and, despite being teased with some 50-degree days in February, we’ve been staring down -4 for the past week. A blizzard with 18 inches of snow is coming tomorrow.

This time of year causes certain problems.

One, I find it almost impossible to drag myself out of bed for a run if the temps are below 15 degrees F (if that sounds horrible to you, believe me, it does to me too). I do not take running lightly. It is critical to my being tolerable to the rest of the human race, so imagine how fun I am to be around in the winter. Two, Spring feels forever away. And I need the hope of Spring.

bleak midwinter--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
In the bleak midwinter…

Most of the time, I really dig the weather here, Continue reading “Combatting the Mid-Winter Blues”

Why Location Independence is Important for Us

Our family is on a journey to become location independent in the next three years. Currently, our plan is for either Mr. ThreeYear or me to take a job, since we won’t quite be ready to retire. If I take a job with an international American school, I will see if I can negotiate my boys attending as part of my compensation package.

What Does Location Independence Mean, Anyway?

Location independent means different things to different people. Some families, Continue reading “Why Location Independence is Important for Us”

How to Run Your Own Race

“To be beautiful means to be yourself.” 

― Thich Nhat Hanh

About three years ago, I was talking to a friend about training for a half marathon. “I would really love to finally run a sub-two (13.1 miles in under 2 hours),” I told him, “like [our other running friends.] But I’m just so slow!” “You have to run your own race,” he told me.

corn husks--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Life is beautiful.

Those words have stuck with me, probably because I struggle mightily with comparisons. I know, intellectually, that comparing yourself to Continue reading “How to Run Your Own Race”

February Net Worth Update

If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent so we can move abroad. Each month, I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. This year, we’ve got some major goals, including paying off our outstanding debt (car and apartment in Chile), replacing our roof, AND saving around $70,000. (Wow, that is scary to type all those goals out in one place). In January, we made some solid progress toward those goals, and got 7% of the way to doubling our net worth.

crazy snow--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
This all melted a week later. No lie.

Ah, February. Month of heavy snowfall and rampant sickness Continue reading “February Net Worth Update”