My previous entry: Report 3 of 13
Next entry: My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Report 5 of 13

Check out Report 1 of 13 to see how this year-long experiment began.

My fourth month into this experiment may go down as the most epic of the entire thing. Huge strides made on two big projects related to getting my little hobby farm in the nearish future (paid a significant chunk of debt down and met my funding targets for my long-term investment fund, which will power the array of improvements to the property, once I get it).

Also, this month, I came to fully appreciate the value of trade in a post disaster scenario. While it’s true that I’ve utilized trade in the months prior to this, this month, my good relations with friends and neighbors really redefined and reframed the whole experiment. I’ll have more to say about that over the course of the rest of this piece.

With that as a preamble, let’s jump right in and see exactly how the month of December played out!

Daily Food Diary for December 2018

Sat, 12.01.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastProtein Shake300
DinnerYet More Thanksgiving leftovers1000
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1950

A bit tired after pulling an all-nighter to salvage the month of November but I’m determined to get December off to a strong start. So, it was another epic writing day. Although, I did take time out to unbox the stuff I had ordered from Amazon a bit previous.

Among other things, I got a battery charger with two spare batteries for my drone. If you’ll recall, Sharon gave me a drone for my birthday back at the start of this experiment. I was able to use it once, but then, the charging cable for my cell (which the instructions said should work) wouldn’t actually recharge the drone’s battery. Now, armed with a specialized charger and not one, but three batteries, I should be able to play and experiment!

I also received the stuff I’m giving Sharon for Christmas. We go hiking on a regular basis together, and she wanted a “badass walking staff” so I got her one, along with a book she had been wanting. Her new cellphone also arrived, and I started the laborious process of getting it set up for her.

Finally finished that at about two in the morning, so a very long day, to say the least. I’m going to bed, feeling good about the day’s progress. Even managed to get some good movie watching in!

Sun, 12.02.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastOne serving of Multigrain cereal180
DinnerYou guessed it – more Thanksgiving leftovers1000
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1830

Having spent a couple days steady at it, I took Sunday off. My eyes were beginning to feel the strain, and they’re not completely healed. Yes, I want December to be an epic month, but if I don’t look after myself, that’s not going to happen, so…I goofed off, rested my eyes a lot, and listened to music.

I did get out of the house today. Went on a scouting run and found a couple of shipping pallets for Mike. I disassembled those and gave them to him in return for his emergency cat sitting while I was recuperating from the “Eyesaster.” Also took delivery of this month’s trade goods, but there was a slight change.

Mike was cleaning out his freezer, so instead of the usual venison, I got a Kielbasa and a package of Italian sausage. I foresee those going into a splendid chili in the near future. Finally, I played a bit with the drone! Took a test flight that ended in a crash landing.

The good news is, I got the footage uploaded to the internet. The bad news is – I think I broke my drone after just one flight. It will come on, hover for exactly four seconds, then crash land again. I don’t know what happened, but will work on it as time permits.

Here’s the link to the video though:

Mon, 12.03.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastOne serving of Multigrain cereal180
LunchYet more salad500
DinnerStill chewing through the Thanksgiving leftovers1000
OthersHalf Coffee150
Total Calories1830

After taking a day to myself, it was back to the writing desk, although I did press pause long enough to take in another sunset with my cat Patches, who’s still slowly losing her sight.

As IJ mentioned in a previous report, I definitely want to get in as many of them as I can with her. It matters.

Tues, 12.04.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastSkipped breakfast this morning0
LunchApocalypse Pizza!220
DinnerThe last of the Thanksgiving leftovers1200
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1570

It’s days like today that make life run smoothly up here. Wrote some, paid a few bills, then knocked off rather early to snuggle under the electric blanket and do some reading before drifting off to sleep.

Weather turning cold again. Both heaters running, but taken together, they’re doing an admirable job at keeping the chill out of the house. Works for me.

For readers just tuning in to this month’s report, Apocalypse Pizza is a recipe of my own invention. I’m a firm believer of using what I have. In this case, I had bread, cheese and a few slices of pepperoni from salad makings. It’s not much like a pizza, but that’s the name I came up with for it. 

Wed, 12.05.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of Multigrain cereal360
LunchSkipped lunch0
DinnerYuuuge Salad900
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1410

Sharon is headed this way in the evening, so I got up early to get a head start on the day’s writing. Want to be able to knock off early when she gets here.

She’s a little shopper. Me, not so much, but I enjoy watching her have fun. Today’s hit list included Dollar Tree and Walmart. I played the role of pack mule, toting the day’s selections around.

She wanted to do a bit of redecorating in my little farmhouse, starting with the bathroom, so she picked out a new shower curtain and a few other sundries. I footed the bill, and she spent the rest of the evening playing with the newness.

Thurs, 12.06.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of Multigrain cereal360
DinnerVenison and veg950
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1460

Sharon still here, so I took today off. We slept in, went for a drive and just spent the day goofing off. We collaborated on dinner, with me grilling some venison and Sharon making a veggie medley.

Fri, 12.07.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastCan of split pea soup240
LunchRigatoni Boxed Dinner270
DinnerTwo PB&J’s460
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1120

The weather report says we’re going to get snow. It hasn’t started, but the weather is certainly cold enough for it.

An Image of Snow Fall for My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report

Sharon headed back to the lowlands, and I spent the day writing, closing out the day by making sure all my preps were in order in the event that the storm starts tonight and the lights go out.

Invoiced the day’s work, made a huge pot of “just in case” chili (using the sausage I picked up earlier).

I’m calling this “Frankenchili” because it’s made from a hodgepodge of ingredients, including both types of sausage, a bag of the White Bean and Lime Chili from Valley, and two cans of chili from my pantry.

The white bean chili is a bit on the bland side, and I’m hoping this will spruce it up a bit. It’s perfectly acceptable, just not exciting like the Mango Habanero is.

Anyway, that done, I hit the hay early. The heaters are now struggling against the cold and it was just warmer in bed under the covers.

Sat, 12.08.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of Multigrain cereal360
LunchThrive Life chicken salad80
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories820

Still waiting for the storm to hit. No snow, but the wind has picked up markedly, and it’s bitterly cold. I’ve got the house buttoned up and had the “auxiliary heater” (the stove) on for a while to keep the place warm.

Only moderately productive though; just too cold to really get into it. Wound up going to bed early again, taking refuge under the warmth of the electric blanket.

Sun, 12.09.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastOne serving of brown sugar and maple oatmeal180
LunchBowl of chicken noodle soup500
Dinner2 servings of Frankenchili1200
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2030

The snow has arrived! Not sure when it started, but it was already coming down when I rolled out of bed, and it continued literally all day.

The morning light had an eerie, blue, otherworldly quality to it. I don’t see it like that all the time, but often enough that it was like a welcome friend returning for a visit.

I snapped pictures throughout the day to mark the progress of the storm, and note – there aren’t any filters applied. That’s just the color of the sky up here sometimes. It really does look a bit like living on an alien planet – I love it!

Anyway, a few hours into the storm and the road out of the holler and off the mountain was effectively closed. Time to dig in, so…I put on some Amazon Prime videos and got to writing. Good, solid day with the snow falling steadily outside.

My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report First_Snow_01 - Consumer Files
My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report First_Snow_02 - Consumer Files
My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report First_Snow_03 - Consumer Files
My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report First_Snow_04 - Consumer Files

Mon, 12.10.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast1 serving of Multigrain cereal180
LunchCan of split pea soup300
DinnerKing-sized bowl of Frankenchili1800
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2430

TWENTY inches. That’s how much snow we ultimately got, despite the prediction that it would be five to seven. So much for weather forecasting. Nonetheless, although I sank to my knees when venturing out today, the road is more or less open, though getting the car ready for the trip was a bit of an adventure. Here was my process:

I got all dressed up to do battle with the snow piled up on the car, and grabbed my hiking staff. Using the staff, I broke the snow on the hood into manageably sized chunks and shoved it off the front.

The Writer Selfie Image of My Year of Eating Like the World Ended

Once I did that, I cleared the windshield and the front half of the top of the car, to the edge of the front door.

Then cleared enough of a path to actually open the car door, crawled in, fired the Equinox up and turned the defroster on high to get some assistance from technology, then got to work on the snow on the back half of the car.

Overall, it took about an hour, but by that time, the car was nice and toasty.

It’s all wheel drive, and though I got stuck once, a bit of rocking broke it loose and the tires found enough of a purchase to get on the road.

Once in town, I topped off the gas tank and picked up my BP meds.

Later in the evening, there was a curious tapping at my window. I don’t get many visitors up this way, especially just after a snowstorm, so I was curious.

Turning, I saw a young gray cat, literally tapping on the window, trying to get in out of the cold.

I opened the door, and he trotted right in like he owned the place.

I called my neighbor Mike and described the cat, asking if it was his. Turns out that it was. “Tom,” is his name. Rather unimaginative, and the poor youngling isn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, so I took to calling him Odd Thomas, Oddy for short. He promptly decided the cat bed on my other desk was custom made for him, curled up and took a nap.

My cats are reformed ferals and used to being in a pack or pride, so they tolerated his presence surprisingly well (except for Bella, who seems horrified by him). I expect there will be some jockeying for position as they sort the pecking order out while he’s a guest, but it shouldn’t be too bad. In any case, we have an unexpected visitor.

An Image of Modoff Tomas (CAT) for My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report

Tues, 12.11.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast1 serving of apple oatmeal180
DinnerPB&J + 1 serving of Multigrain cereal410
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories970

Today was pantry reorganization day. Now three and a half months into the experiment, there are notable gaps on the shelves as my stocks begin to dwindle. Also, I’ve accumulated a growing collection of empty coffee tins, so I decided to put them to good use.

I took all of my breakfast freeze-dried stuff (the various flavors of oatmeal, the rest of the “Cream of Evil” (strawberry cream of wheat) and the Multigrain cereal, and put each in their own coffee tin. That made the gaps in the shelves even bigger and more notable, but it also made the breakfast stuff that much easier to access. Very good.

I also worked out a better way to cook the breakfast stuff. Previously, I had been following the instructions: water in pot, cereal in pot, boil and stir, but that left me having to wash the pot plus the bowl. More efficient to just put the water in the pot, boil it, and pour it into the cereal in the bowl. Works for me and one less dish to wash!

Tom wound up staying the night and was quite restless. While doing my reorganization, I discovered that he had gleefully attacked the loaf of bread I had sitting on the kitchen table. About a third of it is ruined, but I salvaged the rest. Lesson learned: Keep the break out of Tom’s reach.

Patches was needy today. It took me a while to work out what she wanted, since I don’t speak fluent cat-speak, but eventually I worked it out. She was cold, and wanted me to wrap her up like a feline burrito. Here is the result. Happy cat.

Tom in the Cat Bed for My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report Review

Wed, 12.12.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of Multigrain cereal360
LunchTwo PB&J’s460
Dinner2 servings of Doom Sketti800
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1770

If there’s one defining principle in my life, it is this: I say what I’m going to do, and I do what I say. I can count on one hand (with fingers to spare) the number of times I have not kept a commitment. Twice, I was in the hospital and physically unable to, and once, it was pointed out to me that my course of action would have dire consequences I had not considered. It’s just not something I do, and I expect the same from the people in my life.

Sharon and I had a bitter disagreement about that. Guess I’ll be spending Christmas alone.

In other news, I found a bag of meatballs in the dark recesses of the meat freezer. No idea how long they’ve been in there, and they’re probably suffering from terminal freezer burn, but – I don’t care. Waste not. Ima put them in a batch of freeze-dried mac and cheese and make some more “Doom Sketti” (recipe from an earlier report). I don’t have any spaghetti sauce, but I’ve got some ketchup and a few spices, so…I’ll make it work.

Thurs, 12.13.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of brown sugar and maple oatmeal360
Dinner2 servings of DoomSketti800
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1310

Bummed out about the situation with Sharon. Throwing myself into work as a balm. Epic writing day, although my mood is sour.

Fri, 12.14.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastCan of split pea soup300
Lunch2 boxed dinners (meatloaf)540
Dinner1 serving of DoomSketti400
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1390

Bitterly cold today and my mood really isn’t any better. Tom still hanging out with us and still finding his “place.” The day was occasionally interrupted by hissing, snarling and yowling, but for the most part – that’s cat business. I didn’t intervene unless it got serious (and it did a couple of times).

Sat, 12.15.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastCan of chicken noodle soup500
LunchVeggies and venison800
Dinner2 PB&J’s460
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1910

Last night was a VERY long night. Tom was restless. Every thirty minutes, he would get on the cat tree and tap on the window to be let out, then repeat the process in thirty minutes to be let back in. I would have just ignored it except I’m used to the stillness of the nights up here, and the tapping was MADDENING.

At one point, I grabbed him by the scruff, locked eyes with him and hissed like a cat right in his face, then nipped his ear till he howled. I think maybe I’m part feral myself. In any case, that was finally the end of it. He decided it would be best to curl up in the cat bed and sleep through the night. Thank GOD.

Got a year-end bonus from one of my clients – made a HUGE difference in the picture of the month and allowed me to reduce my outstanding debts by a significant amount. Thank you, Jeff!

Sun, 12.16.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastSlept thru breakfast0
LunchBowl of Tomato Soup120
DinnerCan of chicken noodle soup500
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories770

Today was unseasonably warm, so the snow is melting quite quickly now. As for myself, I was beyond comfortable under the blankets, so slept in, after a very long, trying night dealing with the antics of Odd Thomas.

An Image of More Snowing

He was eager to get outside when I finally rolled out of bed, and came and went sporadically throughout the day, causing a general ruckus each time he was let in the house. I expect that they’ll settle in in a few days, but until then, it’s starting to get on my nerves.

Taking out a couple of chops to put into another batch of Frankenchili (white bean and lime from Valley, combined with two cans of chili from the pantry)

Mon, 12.17.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of Multigrain cereal360
LunchCan of split pea soup300
Dinner1 serving of Frankenchili600
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1410

A day of high drama in the Kingdom, although it didn’t start out that way. I got up early, made breakfast, and simultaneously put on the pot of Frankenchili, then got started with the day’s writing.

Solid writing day, so I knocked off early and went to bed, unaware that cat drama was unfolding.

Bella doesn’t like Tom. She’s made no secret of that, and apparently feels threatened by his presence. Threatened enough that she felt as though she had to up her game.

She did that by going on a late-night hunt.

I was awakened by what sounded like a human child screaming. It’s always very quiet up here…very still, so needless to say, that sudden sound had me out of bed and on my feet in an instant, big machete in hand.

It must have looked like quite a sight, half naked giant standing in the living room, brandishing a machete that could easily pull double duty as a sword, but there was…nothing. The room was empty.

I blinked twice in confusion, thinking that maybe it had been a dream, but then the sound came again, from under the other desk.

Cautiously, I got down on my knees and peered under. Saw some dust bunnies the size of wolverines, Bella, and her prey, a medium-sized rabbit.

I’m not sure where she found it, but best guess, the unexpectedly warm weather lured it out of hiding. Regardless, the how didn’t matter. I was left to deal with the now.

I cleared the dust bunnies and grabbed Bella by the scruff, figuring that she would not relinquish her prize, and sure enough, that’s how it worked out.

Without going into too much gruesome detail, the rabbit was as good as gone. There was no way he could have been patched up and sent back into the wild, and he was suffering, so…I cradled the dying creature in my arms, grabbed my army knife, and took him to the kitchen sink where I put him out of his misery.

I don’t like wasting anything, so afterward, I thanked the rabbit for giving his life to help see us through the winter, then skinned him, set aside the gnawed-on bits for the cats, and a bit more besides, and fried up the rest to add to the Frankenchili.

That’s life (and death) on the Mountain.

Tues, 12.18.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast1 serving of strawberry oatmeal180
Lunch1 serving of strawberry oatmeal700
Dinner2 servings of Frankenchili1200
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2230

Another unseasonably warm day. More rabbit meat for the cats, more chili for me, and another very strong day of writing.

Wed, 12.19.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of apple oatmeal360
LunchSharon’s parents got me a sub for lunch600
Dinner2 servings of Frankenchili1200
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2310

Before our big falling out, I had previously committed to helping Sharon move her things out of her ex’s house where they had been for an unending string of months and again, I always do what I say, so…I saddled up and headed that way, our falling out notwithstanding.

Spent the day moving heavy things, and talking to Sharon and her parents during the lulls. We basically patched things up, and by the time I got back here, I fell into bed, too tired to do anything else. Sharon may be headed this way for Christmas after all.

Thurs, 12.20.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of brown sugar and maple oatmeal360
Lunch1 bowl of steamed veggies (finished the bag I opened yesterday)200
DinnerFinished off the Frankenchili600
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1310

Today turned colder, but still not as cold as it had been during the storm, so more melting.

There’s still enough snow lying about that when the UPS truck came bearing a package for Mike and his family, they did not want to risk going all the way back down the little winding path that leads to Mike’s house, so the driver asked if he could leave it with me.

That’s fairly standard practice up here. Most of the townies down like coming up here even when the roads are good.

I said it was fine, then texted Mike to let him know it was here. He saw Tom settled into the cat bed when he came by later and said I could have him if I wanted him.

I thanked him for the offer, but three’s my limit according to the landlady. He shrugged and said if I changed my mind, it seemed as though Tom had basically adopted me. He gave him a scratch behind the ears and headed for home, packages in hand.

Fri, 12.21.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastCan of tomato soup200
Lunch2 boxed dinners (rigatoni)540
Dinner1 boxed dinner (meatloaf)270
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1160

The warm snap is over. Today was bitterly cold again. Even with both heaters running and the stove on, it barely kept the house above freezing.

Not much writing today, and what there was, was painfully slow. I knocked off early after a rather pitiful performance at the keyboard, and piled the blankets up on top of me.

Sat, 12.22.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of brown sugar and maple oatmeal360
LunchCan of tomato soup200
DinnerTuscan Style Beef (From Thrive Life’s Simple Plate Collection)1000
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1710

Today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday. Too cold to do much of anything, though I did inch the ball forward.

The big thing today was that I prepared my Thrive Life main course, Tuscan Style Beef.

It’s a lot more like cooking than the food from Valley, but I’ll say more about that in the section below where I update the Thrive review.

The bottom line though, is that it was DELICOUS.

I planned to save half for later, and wound up wolfing down all of it in one go. Definitely going to be buying some of those dinners when I rebuild the stockpile!

Sun, 12.23.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of Multigrain cereal360
LunchPB&J x 2460
Dinner2 Boxed Dinners (Lasagna)540
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1510

Marginally warmer. Managed to keep the place toasty, so got my fingers limbered up and made good progress on the writing front today, but did not leave the house. BRR!

Mon, 12.24.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of apple oatmeal360
LunchCan of chicken noodle soup500
DinnerCan of split pea soup and cookies500
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1510

Christmas eve brought the first of many holiday surprises, and this, more than anything, underscores for me the importance of trade and maintaining good relations with neighbors in the event of a crisis.

Last year, before I got my meat freezer, I went on a couple of hunts with Mike, but wound up giving him most of the meat. I simply had nowhere to put it.

This year for Christmas, Mike returned the favor. I think he brought the meat from an entire deer, maybe more. I’ve now got about a hundred pounds of venison in my freezer. Steaks, roasts, venison cut into bite sized chunks already for more chili…the works.

I was worried that the shelves wouldn’t hold it all, but…I have a big freezer (biggest I could get through the door), now bursting at the seams with meat.

To say that this changes the game would be an understatement. I had been rationing and limiting my portion sizes, but because I did a good turn for Mike a year ago, he returned the favor this year, and…I’m set.

I will be eating like a King for the rest of this experiment and have tons of meat to trade besides. Loving it.

In addition to that, the postman brought a package to my door. A care package from Christine Mallory, who is following my adventure on Facebook. It was she who sent me the selection of Thrive Life foods to try, and now, she sent Christmas goodies.

I have a variety of teas, coffee, and sweet treat in the form of cookies to enjoy. Thank you, Christine. It is greatly appreciated! As I’m writing these words, I’m nibbling on a popcorn ball.

An Image of Care Package for My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report

Tues, 12.25.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastOne serving of strawberry oatmeal160
LunchCan of chicken noodle soup and cookies800
DinnerSub and a slice of pecan pie1200
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2310

I rose early on Christmas day so I could knock work out before Sharon’s arrival. We tentatively patched things up, and I wasn’t 100% sure she’d come, but she did, arriving at about 8pm.

She stopped at Sheetz and picked us both up subs for dinner and we exchanged presents. She got me a Google Home Mini! I didn’t hook it up while she was here, but am looking forward to experimenting with it.

Her parents gave me gifts too, sent by way of Sharon, in thanks for my assistance with the move. Hadn’t expected that. Got two pies! (pecan and key lime), a basket of single sized servings of mixed nuts, a badass, industrial multi-tool, and some LED emergency lights. They’re amazing! And PIE! We had pie for dessert.

Again, I’m struck by the power of maintaining strong relationships. None of this would have been possible in the absence of those.

Also got a call from my mom. She said she’s sending me an electric ice cream churn, though no idea when it might get here. One Christmas, I got a box from her on Halloween…two years later. LOL, so…there’s just no telling. Even so, I have big plans for that when it eventually arrives!

I really hadn’t expected that Christmas would be much of anything. Just another work day. I was proved spectacularly wrong. It turned into one of the best Christmases ever. Sharon and I had a great visit and eventually fell asleep reading to each other.

Wed, 12.26.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast2 servings of apple oatmeal and cookies!750
LunchVenison and salad with Sharon1200
DinnerCan of split pea soup300
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2400

Took the day off and spent it with Sharon, though got her back on the road early so she didn’t have to drive the mountain roads at night. Then, after she had departed, just couldn’t bring myself to sit at the keyboard. Wanted to enjoy the lingering satisfaction and happiness. Went to bed with a smile on my face.

Thurs, 12.27.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
LunchLast of the cookies and a can of split pea soup700
Dinner2 boxed dinners (meatloaf) and PIE940
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2190

Wasn’t really feeling moved by the Muse, but I did sit down at the keyboard and picked at it a bit. Didn’t get much done though. Still feeling the after effects of that amazing Christmas!

Fri, 12.28.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
Breakfast1 boxed dinner (meatloaf)270
LunchCan of split pea soup500
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1920

Today was basically a repeat of yesterday. I’ve got to watch that. I can’t allow myself too many days off. Even so, it’s been such an epic month that I can coast for at least a few days.

Sat, 12.29.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastPecan pie for breakfast. Mmm.400
LunchCan of chicken noodle soup500
DinnerVenison and a mixed veg medley (huge portions!) – with key lime pie for dessert1600
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories2650

Can’t seem to get my head back in the game. Very little writing again today. I worry that I’m going to have a tough time breaking out of this trend, and if I let it continue, it’s going to derail progress in January. Grrr.

Sun, 12.30.2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastLoving me some pecan pie for breakfast!400
DinnerCan of chili and pie for dessert1040
OthersHalf coffee150
Total Calories1820

Nope. Still minimal progress on the writing front. I sit down to do it and then…there’s nothing. No ideas that normally spill out of my head. Tried some free writing to break the spell of the dreaded writer’s block, but another day with little to show for it. Cold too, and that doesn’t help.

I tried to break my routine up. Promised myself that if I just wrote one piece, then I could get up and read a chapter of the book I’m working on. Or watch a movie and actually watch it, rather than just having something playing in the background.

Or go to town, except that I don’t really like town and don’t see any need to go there. And it’s too cold to go outside and play in the wilds so…I dunno. I’m temporarily stumped, but this has GOT to get fixed, and soon.

Mon, 12.31, 2018

MealFood EatenCalories
BreakfastPecan pie, of course!400
LunchCan of tomato soup200
DinnerMEAT. Just cooked a bunch of venison and ate it as finger food. And had pie for dessert. Because…you know…pie.1200
OthersHalf Coffee150
Total Calories1950

New Year’s Eve. Gave up trying to write today, and spent most of the day cuddling cats and listening to music. Wound up going to bed early to escape the growing chill as temperatures really started plunging after the sun went down. Looks like I know what my big challenge will be next month.

As good as December was (and it has been an epic month by every possible definition), I fear that January is already in danger, courtesy of that dreaded disease writers live in fear of: Writer’s Block.

The cure is, of course, more writing, but – I’m trying that and it’s just not breaking loose.

Ah well. That will be for tomorrow. For now, I’m going to curl up in bed with a big pile of feral cats and go to sleep, ringing in the new year with the sounds of purring in my ear.

After, of course, I raid the fridge for another slice of pie.

Another Update on Thrive Life Food

A Booklet Image of Thrive Life for My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Monthly Report

While I don’t have anything to add to my earlier review of Valley Food Storage products, I did want to mention a few additional thoughts about Thrive Life foods, after experimenting with the Tuscan Style beef, Simple Plate dinner.

The key difference between the two companies is this: Valley Food Storage stuff is essentially camp food. It’s simple, it’s easy to fix, and it’s decent quality. I flat out love some of the dishes, while others leave me wanting.

Granted, I’ve only tried a very small selection of Thrive Life’s food, but it’s all categorically next-level delicious.

I would say that Valley Food Storage food is survival food for guys, while Thrive Life food is survival food for ladies. Sure, that’s an oversimplification, but I stand by the point. Preparing a Thrive Life meal feels like actual cooking. All the ingredients are packaged separately, and it took two pans to get it ready.

Valley Food Storage food is like camping. Stuff goes into a pot. Water boils. Eat.

Both have a place in my pantry rebuild. But in my opinion, Thrive Life foods are a great fit for people who don’t want the end of the world to feel like the end of the world. Valley Food Storage food is for people who are looking for simple and utilitarian.

The Importance of Trade

Okay, I mentioned this during various points of my journal entry this month, but it’s important enough that it deserves its own section here.

I’m a member of a few survivalist and prepping groups scattered around the internet. One of the recurring themes I keep hearing from people who are members there is that if, and when the shit hits the fan, they plan to isolate and shelter in place. Little to no contact with the outside world and certainly no trading.

This, in my view, is a spectacular mistake.

Trade has become a vital component to my success, and in fact, I would say that my success in trading to this point has made my experiment almost too easy. Anything I’m lacking, I can simply trade for it.

Of course, the key here is that those relationships need to be in place BEFORE the S hits the proverbial F. Would I be this successful if I were trading with complete strangers? Almost certainly not, but that’s instructive, too. Start making those associations and connections NOW.

That’s every bit as important as building your food supply and making your other preps. Once disaster strikes, it’s probably too late, and at that point, trading is going to be a much trickier proposition. That’s the latest lesson learned from my experiment to date.

I’ll close out this section by saying that given the vast influx I enjoyed this holiday season, I’m changing my goals slightly.

Slight Goal Changes

It’s no longer a question of “can I survive for a whole year under the rules of the experiment?” I absolutely can. I know that now without doubt or question. So…one of the things I’m going to do is when I get my little electric ice cream maker, rather than buying salt and the other ingredients I’d need to make my own ice cream, I’ll trade for them.

Sure, buying a bag of salt wouldn’t be breaking the rules I’ve established for myself, but I’m anxious to see if I can get what I need via trade, rather than buying. I’m certain I can, but it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds, so that will be coming in some future report.

I’ve also decided that I’m extending the experiment to at least the end of September. It only seems fair, given the vast influx of richness I received during the last week in December.

End of Month Summary

What a reversal of fortune! Where last month was my trial by fire, this month was an incredible cornucopia. Honestly, based on the good tidings I got this month alone, it completely changes the game. There’s no longer any question in my mind that this experiment will be a success. I’ve now got such a bounty that I can begin looking at more than just scraping by and dragging myself across the finish line. I can begin making strategic trades for extras and niceties that were simply out of the question even a couple of weeks into December. That blows me away.

Of course, it also occurs to me that my good fortune could just as easily be stripped away in the months ahead by some unseeable and unknowable disaster that’s hiding just over the horizon, but…we shall see. We shall see.

Month End Stats

Weight: 329 (I’m actually shocked I didn’t gain more weight than this, given all the feasting!)
BP: 130/83

I’m heading into the new year with as much bravado as I can muster, but also, a bit of trepidation. Writer’s Block scares the hell out of me. If I don’t write, I don’t EAT. Well…that’s not technically true in this situation, but if I don’t write, I don’t keep the rent paid and the lights on, so next month is already gearing up to be a challenge. We’ll see how it goes. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!

My previous entry: Report 3 of 13
Next entry: My Year of Eating Like the World Ended – Report 5 of 13

Check out Report 1 of 13 to see how this year-long experiment began.

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