Suburban Stockade

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Every day, we’re bombarded with messages that demand we spend more, that we need to spend more, that we’re dissatisfied with our lives and the empty hole can only be filled with more stuff. But when the bad times comes — when we lose our jobs, suffer health reversals, or the economy goes into the dumper — those things won’t save us. Only we can do that.

Brought up in a frugal household, Teresa Peschel has spent a lifetime learning and applying these lessons, and “Suburban Stockade” distills them into simple tools that anyone can learn, apply and benefit from. Each Saturday, we’ll offer along chapter that will help you live your life the way you want to. It won’t make the bad times go away, but it can make them easier to live through.

  • Winning the Omelas Bargain (part 2) Last week, we talked about the Omelas bargain, how we’re surrounded by the fruits of other people’s labor made under dreadful conditions but since they take place far, far away, ...
  • Making the Omelas Bargain I don’t go into a lot of detail about the philosophical underpinnings of our mindset here at Fortress Peschel. I don’t discuss my religious beliefs; my feelings about the world ...
  • Evaluating Goals Every goal may look like it fulfills one objective but often they fulfill multiple objectives. The goal of improving your fitness is like that. It works on multiple levels. You get ...
  • In-Depth Home Goal Setting (part 2) The second half of our home-improvement goals, while never directly stated, was to reduce our maintenance issues and make the house one in which we could age in place. Thus, ...
  • In-Depth Goal Setting and Time Management So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, and undecided on which of the many, many things I should do next. I could certainly waste time playing Spider (I play ...
  • The Domestic Economy (part 2) I have never met anyone who didn’t appreciate a reasonably clean house that is comfortable and looks nice. I have never met anyone who doesn’t like eating real meals prepared ...
  • The Domestic Economy I do one of the most radical, unfashionable things there is to do these days. I have been doing it since our kids were tiny. I stay home and I ...
  • Learning Self-Sufficiency Last week, we talked about how it was impossible to be completely self-sufficient. But there are areas where we can still rely on our skills and resources to take control ...
  • Home Self-Sufficiency It is impossible to be completely self-sufficient. I don’t believe anyone ever really was. Humans evolved to live in small groups, and they worked together for the good of the ...
  • Decluttering Closets There are vital places where organizers can be very, very handy. Take decluttering closets. We use and love ClosetMaid shelving systems. I’ve installed their system in many closets in multiple ...
  • Decluttering Books, Clothes, and Dishes Moving from the material world decluttering that we discussed last week, we turn to our books, clothes, and dishes. First, the books. Should you get rid of them? That’s hard ...
  • Home Decluttering Made Easy Last week, we looked at reducing our mental clutter with the help of lists, a year-at-a-glance calendar, and other devices. This week, we’ll focus on organizing the material world. “The one ...
  • Building the Organized Home We do a lot to keep the Fortress Peschel going. It sounds like when you read my posts (over 140,000 words written!) that I never stop working, that I never ...
  • Energy Efficient Appliances The last step with energy efficiency comes from choosing the most energy-efficient appliances. You normally do this when you have to replace something, but not always. How about your lighting needs? ...
  • Hacks to Stop Wasting Electricity The next set of changes address wasting electricity. Why are you pouring electricity onto the ground or heating the outdoors? The library is full of helpful books on how to ...
  • Mindful Energy Savings We’ll cover lifestyle choices first as they cost the least and can be implemented immediately. At the head of the pack is turning off things you aren’t using. Are the ...
  • Home Energy Efficiency (Part 1) All of the goals here at Fortress Peschel lead to one ultimate destination and that is financial independence. Being financially independent, or at least closer to it, means having some ...
  • Cooking From Scratch Another part of cooking from scratch is changing what you think a meal is. Omelets, sautéed vegetables, and toast for dinner? Sure, why not? We do it all the time. ...
  • How to Cook from Scratch So you’ve decided to learn how to cook from scratch. If you’ve never done this before, the place to start is not with gourmet magazines or cooking shows. The stuff ...
  • The Ins and Outs of Scratch Cooking So what is scratch cooking? To me, it means that you do some or most of the work yourself. You start with raw or cooked ingredients and transform them, via ...
  • Why I am Cooking from Scratch I cook from scratch. I used to do it a lot more, but now my days seem to be filled with writing about what I should be doing. Nonetheless, I ...
  • Keeping Your Basement Water-Free (part 5) We were now at the point where it was time to do the concrete landing at the front of the house. It had been laid out so that the landing ...
  • Dryloc Your Basement (part 4) The inside of the basement was another set of projects, involving years of work, and we still aren’t finished. The worst part of the basement was the inside corner, right by ...
  • Keep Your Basement Dry with Landscaping (part 3) To keep your basement dry landscaping can help by keeping the water from working its way through your foundation. I believe the fern rain garden hasn’t caused problems despite how close ...
  • Keeping Basements Dry (part 2) (This is the second post in the Keeping Basements Dry series. Part one here.) Because the previous owners routinely let water into the basement (lazy? incompetent? uncaring? oblivious? who knows?) we ...
  • Keeping Basements Dry Strictly speaking, keeping basements dry isn’t a sustainability topic. It doesn’t involve setting goals, food storage tips, or getting out of debt. But it does involve a major mental adjustment ...
  • Using Your Public Library (part 2) What other things do you do with your public library besides research on obscure topics? My husband and I read voraciously, and we buy books. For my husband, it began ...
  • Using Your Public Library One of the top goals at Fortress Peschel is to never spend money if we don’t have to. We never did have much spare hard coin floating around—it was all ...
  • Exercise (part 2 update) So I’d been doing my exercise routine for over a year now. I’ve been feeling much better, tighter, more toned. My weight loss seems to have stabilized but I’m not ...
  • Dental Care (part 2) Last week, we looked at basic dental care. This week, we see what more you can do to get the teeth you need. First, get that dental checkup every six months ...
  • Dental Care One of the great miracles of modern life is dental care. Think back to those Dickensian miseries of tooth decay that couldn’t be treated other than yanking out (with pliers!) ...
  • Pantry Improvements This pantry space can be found in most homes, but it doesn’t necessarily start out by looking like a pantry. Do your kitchen cabinets go all the way to the ...
  • Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers The second component of good food storage is your storage facility itself. The goal is cool, dry, pest-free, good air circulation, and in the dark. Anything will last longer ...
  • A Date With Food Storage The Pantry Principle means you save money by buying in advance when the price is right. You store the groceries you purchase, using them up in the usual way, until ...
  • Grocery Shopping Strategies: Gas Points and Fixing Mistakes Last week, we looked at how to use your Sunday grocery flyer and coupons to save money. This week, we’ll look at other ways grocery stores get you to ...
  • Coupon Shopping at the Grocery Store Good grocery shopping habits, however, like the price book, the Pantry Principle, shopping and cooking only from sales, sticking to a list, staying out of the grocery store other than ...
  • Grocery Shopping and Coupons Last week, we talked about how to use a price book and the Pantry Principle to save money grocery shopping. This week, we’ll move on to using grocery coupons ...
  • Grocery Shopping and the Pantry Principle (part 3) Last week, we talked about learning basic cooking skills and using simple recipes to get started on saving money and improving our health. Let’s go a little deeper this ...
  • Grocery Shopping and Cooking (part 2) The second part of better grocery shopping is deciding what you need to buy to make meals for the family. If most of the meals you eat are prepared ...
  • Grocery Shopping (part 1) I am a firm believer in shopping locally as much as possible. So as a dedicated energy saver, conservationist, and locavore, I source all our food from with a ...
  • Creating Your Dream House (part 7) Home renovation isn’t for sissies but it ...
  • Finding Your Dream Home (part 6) Now that we have considered how much yard we want, and whether we want the privacy of living deep in bear country versus the shorter commute and more access to ...
  • Finding Your Dream Home: Gardening (part 5) For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at the decision-making process while shopping for a home. (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four). Now, let’s turn ...
  • Finding Your Dream Home (part 4) Do you want the least expensive, smallest house? That leaves more money left over to pay off the mortgage and any other debt. You can achieve financial independence sooner without ...
  • Finding Your Dream Home (part 3) When you zero in on a potential dream house, drive out to it from your job at your normal time. I did not buy a townhouse in Virginia Beach ...
  • Zeroing In On Your Dream Home (part 2) Last week, we looked at why most of the time it’s preferable to buy a home rather than rent. This week, I’ll go into our experiences house shopping and share ...
  • Buying A Home (part 1) An awful lot of people concerned about the upcoming difficult future think that you should have a large property somewhere way out in the rural areas of the country. ...
  • Home Operational Security Operational Security is a military term and is commonly abbreviated as Opsec. Opsec has plenty of real-world value and should definitely be a skill you add to your daily ...
  • Home Sewing Beyond Patterns (Part 5) Whew! After a month of posts on sewing, we’re approaching the home stretch. For those of you entering here for the first time, in part 1 we looked at ...
  • Home Sewing with Patterns (part 4) This is the four part of the series on sewing. In part 1 we looked at how cheap clothing manufactured overseas killed home sewing. In part 2, we discussed simple ...
  • Learning to Repair, Mend and Sew, part 3 This is the third part of the series on sewing. In part 1 we looked at how cheap clothing manufactured overseas killed home sewing. In part 2, we discussed simple ...
  • Why I Repair, Sew and Mend (part 2) Last week, we looked at how learning to sew, once a skill taught to girls in the school system, has nearly vanished thanks to an increase in the supply of ...
  • Why I Sew, Repair, and Mend I learned how to sew decades ago, partly from my mother and partly in the home economics classes that every girl used to take in junior high and sometimes, high ...
  • You and Your Arsenal This one will be short as I can’t recommend any specific type of firearm for anyone. I don’t know enough about the topic to generalize and everyone has different needs. ...
  • The Limited Value of Ideas (part 2) Last week, we talked about ideas and how they’re not worth anything until they are tried out in the real world. The same problem of ideas versus reality happens in my ...
  • The Limited Value of Ideas or, They Aren’t Worth Much Until They Are Executed So: Ideas. So very important to have fresh ideas and keep coming up with new ones, right? Well, actually no. Ideas are ...
  • The Joys of Exercise Last week, we looked at why you should exercise. It comes down to a choice: use it or lose it. We lead more sedentary lives. We spend more time behind ...
  • Exercise Just like our bodies are meant to sleep, our bodies are meant to move. These days, most of us don’t spend hours and hours in a field hoeing beets and ...
  • Clean Your Life with Sleep Hygiene Basic sleep hygiene consists of first: admitting that you need to sleep! That you most likely do indeed need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Then you rearrange ...
  • Satisfying the Need for Sleep It’s been years since I last got on an airplane (and I probably never will again for a whole host of reasons) but I recall that the flight attendants did ...
  • The Dark World of Debt Collection Despite my continuing time-management problem of too much to do and too little time in which to do it, I do make time to read the small selection of magazines ...
  • Protecting Your Personal Security You can enhance your own personal security by doing a few things. They are simple, but not easy. The first is: PAY ATTENTION! That means knowing where you are. Who ...
  • Home Security Begins With Your Neighbors The next easiest step in home security is getting to know your neighbors. If there is any kind of disaster, the people right around you are the most likely ones ...
  • Dogs as Passive Alarm Systems Electricity is a wonderful thing and I really like it a lot. But I don’t like using more than I have to (I don’t want to pay for it) and ...
  • Home Security (part 3): Automotive Safety There are some easy security fixes for your car. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive: they work for any vehicle. First and foremost, is keep it locked! ...
  • Home Security (part 2) Take another walk around your house, looking at it from the street. Do you have large, legible house numbers for your house that are clearly visible at all times of ...
  • Basic Home Security When it comes to military bases, nuclear power plants and other high-value targets, good security is tedious, expensive, intrusive, and requires constant vigilance. You have to be right all the ...
  • That Pesky Time Management Time management is a difficult subject. Like everyone else, I have too much to do and too little time to do it in. The moment I’m writing this, I could ...
  • Long-Range and Long-Term Water Storage (part 3) In the long term, the easiest, cheapest way to store water is in the ground. There are two ways to go about this. For household water, i.e. drinking, laundry, hygiene, ...
  • Efficiency and Cutting Water Waste (part 2) The next stage in water management is efficiency and cutting back on waste. The reason for this is the less water you use, the less water you need. This can ...
  • Home Water Storage You cannot live without water. Your garden, everybody’s garden, will die without water. Every single living thing on earth has to have water or die. Every industrial product uses water ...
  • Swimming Against the Tide Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without We are not mainstream at Fortress Peschel. We do odd things. I stay home to run the domestic economy ...
  • Soil-Building (Part 3) Read Part One and Part Two of Soil Building. Traditionally, fields were allowed to lie fallow every few years to let the soil recover from being plowed and all the nutrients ...
  • Soil-Building (Part 2) Part One of Soil-Building Can Be Read Here Many of my plant die-offs have been related to not improving the soil prior to planting my expensive baby shrubs and perennials. The ...
  • Soil Building (Part 1) Sometimes, we do things not in the best order. Better gardening books will tell you that soil building is important. But they don’t go into intensive detail about how, and ...
  • Everyone Agrees You Need to Do This (Disaster Preparedness) There is a lot of disagreement over how the world as we know it will end. Economic disaster, electro-magnetic pulse (natural or man-made), zombies, asteroids, super-volcanoes, foreign invasion, nuclear war, ...
  • Fixing the Work-Life Balance Work has to be done, no question. The question, really, is how much work do you want to do? What kind of work do you want to do? What kind ...
  • Enhancing Your Home’s Natural Light (Part 3) Read Part One of Enhancing Your Home’s Natural Light Read Part Two of Enhancing Your Home’s Natural Light 7. Interior Windows Many older houses had real transom windows. These are the windows that ...
  • Enhancing Your Home’s Natural Light (Part 2) Part One of Enhancing Your Home’s Natural Light 3. Paint and Color Magic Paint, correctly chosen, really can work wonders. The lighter the color, the brighter and lighter the room. This is ...
  • Enhancing Your Home’s Natural Light (Part 1) Reducing the use of electricity for lighting is a terrific goal: stop sending money to the power company and be greener. However, substituting candles, oil lamps, propane fixtures or active ...
  • Hedges and Fences (Part 3) Last week, we looked at how to determine what hedge would be right for your yard and how to plant them so that they don’t grow into your power lines ...
  • Hedges and Fences (Part 2) Creating A Privacy Barrier That Won’t Take Over Your Yard Last week, we looked at placing a chain-link fence around your property. This time, we’re going to add some sound-deadening and ...
  • Hedges and Fences (Part 1) or, How to Hide from the Neighbors and Google Earth Why do you need a fence and a hedge? Fences and hedges work together. The fence acts as a placeholder while ...
  • Doing the Window Dance: Long-Term Shade (Part 3) This is part three on how to use shades to even out the heating/cooling cycle of your home. Read Part One and Part Two. You can have the best windows in ...
  • Doing the Window Dance (Part 2) This is part two on how to use shades to even out the heating/cooling cycle of your home. Read Part One and Part Three. Last week, we discussed how to use ...
  • The Window Dance (Part 1) This is part one on how to use shades to even out the heating/cooling cycle of your home. Read Part Two and Part Three. The window dance is what we here ...
  • Putting Television In Its Place Soon after Bill and I got married, we became television less. Our one, lone TV had broken down. Older son, a tot at the time, was finding it increasingly ...
  • Winter Laundry I have never been really keen on sending my money to the electric company. Please don’t misunderstand me. I love electricity. There is no good substitute for electric lights or ...
  • Spouse Conversion or Being A Team (Part 2) So you decide to stay. Overall, you and your children are better off if you stay with the spendthrift. Now comes the hard part. Fixing or at least modifying your ...
  • Spouse Conversion or Being A Team (Part 1) Bill and I have done as well as we have because we work very well together as a team. We have similar goals, needs, wants and desires. We both agree ...
  • Building Your Home Library We love books. We absolutely believe that there is too little time for all the wonderful books in the world. Uncontrolled book buying leads to two problems: bad books (or ...
  • Choices and Consequences Bill and I spend a lot of time discussing our long-term goals and how we might better achieve them. Our goals interlock and support each other: you can’t be ...
  • Hanging Laundry Why hang laundry on a clothesline when I could use my dryer? Because it fits the goals at Fortress Peschel: to cut costs, to be more sustainable, to be ...
  • Mongo and Obtainium A major goal here at Fortress Peschel is to cut costs. The less money we are required to spend, the smaller our monthly nut, the lower our bills — ...
  • Adding A Canine Companion to Your Household We were dogless for many years at Fortress Peschel. We made do with a few worthless cats (as we called them whenever they acted cat-like: yowling in the ...
  • Control Your Future by Setting Goals Here at Fortress Peschel, we spend a lot of time considering the future. What do we want? Our hopes, fears, concerns: all come up regularly in discussions while sitting ...
  • The Joys of Financial Independence I suppose you could say that the overall goal here at Fortress Peschel is to never, ever again have to set foot off of our property, unless we want ...
  • Suburban Stockade Mission Statement “Suburban Stockade: Strengthening Your Life Against an Uncertain Future” is intended to help people prepare for a decline in America that has been accelerating since the Recession of 2008. ...

(c) 1995-2016 by Bill Peschel