Mindful Consumerism

I've written about our small house and how we've sorted and downsized our stuff through the years (leaving the USA in 2008, leaving Uruguay in 2010, moving within Córdoba in 2015) with the most recent downsizing thanks to Marie Kondo and her amazing book

But what I haven't said is...

we really don't buy stuff.

This isn't easy. It's not something that comes naturally. We work on it and struggle with it all the time. We WANT stuff. It's ingrained, taught from and early age. Now we're fighting against it. Every. Day.

We recently made our first clothing purchases in over a year. We bought 2 pair of pants & 2 shirts for our 7-year-old (she is 56"/142 cm tall and is going to be a giant like her parents) and two simple tops for me. That's it. 

Thankfully we have two girls. Everything from daughter #1 gets packed away according to size & season and saved for her younger sister. The girls wear uniforms to school and don't need many other things. As adults who work from home, we don't need work clothes like if we went into an office every day.  

When we do make purchases, we create lists for what we have versus what we need (I am a little obsessed with spreadsheets), including where we could get that item for the best quality, then watch for sales and strike when we can get a great deal. If possible, we prefer to wait until we're in the USA to make purchases, so sometimes that means delaying purchases for 6-12 months (or purchasing ahead of time, in anticipation). We find the quality is much better and the prices lower in the USA than purchasing in Argentina. 

We all still have too many clothes, among our too-much-stuff in general.  But we're working on that. 

Yes, there are things that we want, but nothing that we really NEED. That is the difference. 

We've switched from focusing on needs and wants, to focus on ENOUGH. We have more than enough to make us happy and comfortable. We do not NEED anything more in our lives

With our new, small house, we had to buy a bed for the girls (our previous house was furnished and their bed stayed with the house) but we've not purchased any new furniture. We have two desks, a kitchen table with chairs, a rocking chair and two beds. Thats basically it. In a small house, you don't need (and can't fit) much more. 

Here are a few of our questions about use, sustainability and function that influence our purchases: 

Can we repair or replace items when worn out? 

  • I have Birkenstocks (love them or hate them. I think they're amazing) that I purchased in Germany in 1996. Seriously. They have been re-soled 3 or 4 times, with footbeds replaced twice but these things are nearly indestructible and will be with me until I die. They've been well worth the expense nearly 20 years ago. Now the Vibram replacement soles are better than ever and will last even longer between re-soling. Bonus. 

Quality (and careful consideration) will outlast cheaper alternatives.

  • We will always spend more to buy quality items. They are usually a better design, long-lasting and sustainable/repairable. 
  • When our oldest was a baby, we bought an expensive, foreign-made, wooden highchair, the Stokke Tripp Trapp. We were already planning our move abroad, so we purchased with the consideration that this seat is not only beautiful, it packs flat for easy shipping/moving and thanks to adjustments & accessories, the seat can "grow" with the child(ren). We love this chair, our kids fight over it and we anticipate it'll be with us for many years to come, long after a typical high-chair would have been relegated to a yard sale. 

Can it serve more than one Purpose? Is it Multi-function?  

  • Because space is at a premium, both in our home and our luggage, we search for items that can be used in more than one way. 
  • One appliance that is the epitome of multi-function is our 14-year-old Braun MultiMix (a wedding present that is, unfortunately, no longer made). It's a standard hand mixer with interchangeable immersion blender attachment and mini food-processor. 
  • We practice the concept of "capsule wardrobes" where your closet is built from a certain color or colors, with almost everything being able to mix and match to make different combinations. My capsule consists of 20 main pieces for summer and another 15 for winter, with some overlap (this does not count accessories or athletic gear). It makes packing and travel much easier, too. 
  • I specifically buy products that can be re-used, repurposed or recycled. At the grocery store, I'll spend more for a product that comes in a jar that can be re-used for spices or dry goods, rather than a different packaging. (I avoid styrofoam and canned goods whenever possible).  

(I know I was just mentioning multi-purpose items, but...) 

Is the Simple Solution Better?

  • Why do I need a toaster when we rarely ever have bread in the house? A stovetop, oven or one of these nifty gadgets work great for warming up a tortilla or defrosting Low-carb Ricotta Pancakes (my favorite!!)  
  •  Although a huge pot of steaming hot coffee is appealing, it really is mediocre coffee (and our old drip coffeemaker broke. Twice). An old-fashioned percolator, press pot or our trusty AeroPress have few moving parts and less to break. (Okay, I must admit, I've broken a couple of press-pots in my day.) The routine of boiling water over the stove and physically going through the steps to make a cup of coffee is really simple but beautiful. 

Do we want to move it or sell it when it comes time to leave? 

  • We evaluate everything that comes into our life (even more with the small house) by asking ourselves, "Is this worth buying just to sell it or move it (internationally) within the not-so-distant-future?" Very often, that stops us in our recovering-from rampant-consumerism tracks. 
  • Since we are not in a "forever" home, city or country, we are okay with not having the perfect "thing" for every corner of the house. 

It is hard though, because while we're comfortable where we are in life and how we're living, I do want to feel settled somewhere, and that hasn't really happened in the last 7 years. We're not living out of suitcases, but we are keeping our eyes open for the next opportunity. A semi-nomadic lifestyle leads to (and alternatively is caused by) a restless spirit. Itchy feet. The travel bug. 

We're also a little jaded because we started off in our 20's with the American Dream that we're all indoctrinated with as kids in the US---

"Grow up, find a good job, get married, buy a house, fill it with stuff, have kids. That's what life is all about!"

Blah, blah, blah. 

We had all of that. For a time, we REALLY wanted to be like the Joneses. Then we decided that the house full of stuff, two new Euro-imports in the garage and our full-time jobs that we needed to afford all the stuff were not worth it.

And I guess our story really began there. 

We've grown to look at frugality in a completely different light. This is not austerity. It gives us the flexibility to decide how we want to live our lives. It gives us options to work part time, spend more time with our kids and travel for 2-3 months every year. 

It isn't easy. We struggle with the burning WANT (and keeping up with the Joneses) but we always come back around to the fact that those material wants do not get us to our life goals. We have what we need to be happy and comfortable. We want to spend our money and time elsewhere. 


So, in reference to the first photo:

No, I DON'T want to go shopping. I won't buy a new pair of jeans, because I already have one and I really don't need another (at least not until my current pair of jeans wear out.) How about coming over to our little house for a great cup of coffee and conversation instead?? 




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My 12 Health & Fitness Tools

After sharing my food/fitness/diabetes story, I want to talk about tools that helped me lose 25 lbs and get (more) fit over the past year. I am not some amazing physical specimen, but I hope that something here might work for you, too...

Sorry, but these are NOT sexy, high-tech solutions.

Quite the contrary; my tools are very simple:

  • Books (okay, I buy on Kindle, is that high tech for you?!?!)
  • Websites
  • A few physical gadgets

Yes, low-tech might be boring, but these things have been great reference materials and have kept me accountable. Which, in my opinion is the most important thing. Don't knock it if it works. 

**Included are several Amazon affiliate links (in gray) and buttons, which do not cost you anything additional if you choose to purchase, but we get a small percentage of the purchase price to help to support our travel and blogging activities. Thanks for your support!


"It Starts With Food" Book: This is where I started two years ago. Mind-blowing. Contains very detailed descriptions of what grains and sugar -in particular- do to your body and how to re-set your diet to reduce cravings and move in a healthier direction long-term. It's the basis for the Whole30 (of which I've completed 2) and Paleo programs.


"Well Fed" Cookbook: This is a cookbook spin-off of It Starts With Food (above). I was very excited for the first Well-Fed cookbook (there is also Well Fed 2 which I have not read). I cooked a lot of whole foods before starting to eat Paleo, but this had some great concepts for organization, shopping, meal planning and prep. 

If you are not accustomed to cooking whole foods, or are looking for ways to cook once or twice per week and create flexible meals for the rest of the week based off of your pre-prepared ingredients, this is a great place to start.

Now that I am doing more meal planning ---Imagine that! Me, plan ahead!?!?---and have less time to cook every day, these cookbooks are a great fit for my (our) lifestyle. Time for me to start reviewing and planning our recipes. I'm already using several recipes and concepts from the first book and I look forward to digging into Well Fed 2. 

Diabetes Solution Book: The Holy Grail. THE guidebook for Type 1 Diabetes management and low carb eating to control blood glucose levels. The author is an 81 year old medical doctor and engineer who has type 1 diabetes for the last 69 years. After suffering serious complications due to high blood glucose levels, he revolutionized diabetes self-care and developed the low carb eating plan for diabetes in the late 1960s to botain normal blood glucose levels (using himself as a test subject). Dr. Bernstein went to medical school at age 40 so he could teach others what he had already learned from his years as a diabetic, successfully reversing many of his long-term complications.

This book is incredible, but strict stuff. Not for the faint of heart but it works like nothing else I've read/seen/experienced to control blood glucose levels. 



I tried MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, MyPlate by Livestrong and others but I prefer MyNetDiary w/ optional Diabetes App for the metric food inputs, more whole foods listed and the diabetes trackers. Integrates with Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings.  You can get the app for Ipad/Iphone for $10 on the iTunes store. 


DoYogaWithMe.com is my favorite free yoga website where you can search through a variety of styles, class lengths and fitness levels to find the perfect at-home yoga class. Classes are all beautifully shot in a professional studio or gorgeous natural setting and the instructors are all seasoned professionals. You can also download your favorite classes for a small charge, which is perfect for when you can't stream video. 

A DIGITAL FOOD SCALE:  Simple, simple. Costs less than $15 and it's crucial for accurate inputs of non-processed foods into your online food tracker program (such as MyNetDiary, as listed above). You can get some cool bluetooth digital scales that connect to Ipad apps for automatic food tracking, but that is not where I am right now. Simple is fine, just make sure it has a "tare" function. This food scale on Amazon is similar to mine. 

A PEDOMETER (OR WEARABLE FITNESS TRACKER): I had a pedometer and really liked it. Then I shattered it on the tile floor when I forgot that it was clipped to my belt (damn tile floors!!).  I wanted a fitness tracker but it is too hard to get one to Argentina, and I'm cheap, so I've done without.

One thing that helped keep me on track with walking (my every-day workout) is to have a non-flexible walking schedule (I had to get my daughter to school every day).  If you need to see your numbers to stay accountable, get a pedometer at the least or a wearable fitness tracker that can sync to an online program such as....

MAPMYRUN / MAPMYWALK / MAPMYFITNESS: Using these programs can show you where you've gone, track your steps and keep you pushing forward. I love to see my maps and log a new entry (Yes, ahem.. I am SO analog and log the routes by hand after they are completed). You can also sync with all the major wearable fitness trackers to automate your fitness and connect with your friends to see how everyone is doing and stay accountable. Do you see this common accountability thread here?? ;) 

WHOLE30 WEBSITE: The companion to the Whole30 book and It Starts with Food (listed above). Positive online community in the forum, recipes, sample menus, shopping lists (including specialty lists, such as Vegetarian Whole30, GAPS Whole30 and Nightshade-free) and answers to all your questions/real-life situations when starting a Whole30 diet re-set or beginning a paleo eating plan. 

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution Website: Additional information and online forum for Dr. Richard K Bernstein's plan for both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes management. Includes excerpts from his book, Diabetes Solution (mentioned above) and includes numerous supporting articles, research and patient testimonials. 

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes UNIVERSITY on YouTube: Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's online resources, with an incredible amount of sort video sessions answering questions and addressing recommendations about his diet/blood glucose maintenance plan for the treatment of Diabetes.

TypeOneGrit Fan Page on Facebook:  Facebook page and FB online community for Type 1 Diabetics following Dr. Bernstein's recommendations for diet and optimal blood glucose control. This is the most strict of the Dr. Bernstein groups and dedicated to those trying t achieve A1c level in the low 5% and upper 4% range, in an attempt to reduce and reverse long-term diabetic complications through the maintenance of normal (non-diabetic) blood glucose levels. A closed group for Type 1 Diabetics (and parents of juvenile T1 diabetics) that requires vetting prior to acceptance. 

This group has been incredibly supportive and full of additional information about Dr. Bernstein's plan, along with recipes, research and real-world experiences. It's like family. 


So, yes, I might be SO 2005 in my technology here, but This works for me.  Please Leave a comment to share what works for you. 




Our Small House Experience


It's a duplex and measures about 800 sq. ft, not including the garage. 

This has led to many hours of evaluation and re-evaluation: about our possessions, about what our family of 4 truly needs to be happy, our future goals and what factors have contributed to our being able to live this way.

A few things about us/our thoughts: 

  • We're not terribly organized. This is NOT a contemporary DWELL magazine-worthy space and we still have too much stuff lying around.
  • This house isn't perfect, but it HAS exceeded our expectations in many ways.
  • While we have lived in houses that push the 2500 sq. ft. mark, this small house is more comfortable, more cozy, more HOME for us. 
  • We find that we are actually more calm here, even with the close quarters. We don't have to yell to get someone's attention across the house, yet there are spaces where we can escape if we are feeling too much togetherness.
  • This IS a live-work space with the adults in the home almost all the time. Add the littlest one for lunch and every afternoon, and the oldest kid here the rest of the time. We spend a lot of time in the house, together.
  • This house fits perfectly with our thrifty, minimalist goals: Less stuff, less expense, less time working, more time together, more time traveling. 

Here are the plans for our 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house in Córdoba, Argentina (click on the image to view larger):

There are some lifestyle factors that we feel make it easier to live in a small home, many of which are influenced heavily by living in Argentina.


  • No microwave (although one could be installed above the range).
  • No dishwasher. I know, I hate washing dishes too, but it's easier to keep up when we have few dishes to get dirty. 
  • Few pots/pans I currently have 4 but we use 3. One more thing to give away!
  • No counter coffee pot. We use an AeroPress Coffee Maker. It is absolutely worth the time and becomes a great morning routine. It was perfect for our 38-day road trip around Argentina last year and we bring it everywhere we travel, along with a travel mug and thermos for hot water. 
  • No clothes dryer. The washing machine is in kitchen. We have a portable drying rack that can sit at the end of the kitchen or outside on the patio.
  • No furnace. We have two natural gas wall heaters to warm the chilly winter mornings. Nothing more is needed. 
  • Outside storage is available for bikes, brooms, etc. Even a few extra boxes are sitting in the carport with no fear of freezing temps. Note to self: Get the boxes cleared out!
  • Local, fresh food. No bulk storage needed for refrigerated and/or pantry items.  We shop the local, neighborhood stores every few days to get the essentials, with a trip to a larger grocery store every few weeks. 
  • Few pieces of furniture. We don't have a living room. It's a play room. We don't watch TV in the traditional sense and we sit together at the kitchen table, so no living room set is needed. The girls share a full-size bed, so two beds are not needed. This also saves on extra bedding. We COULD use a shelving unit to get the toys off of the floor, but then again, maybe the girls own too many toys. ;) 
  • Few lights. Small space + lots of natural light = not many lightbulbs needed. We have installed half LED and half CFL for the lights we do use.  


  • Walk-out outdoor spaces and the back  patio has a "galleria" with a mesh cover to filter the light. We leave the back door open all the time, and with no screen door and a straight-walk out to the patio, it's a great transitional space. 
  • Built-in outdoor grill. A parrilla is standard in Argentine houses...and large garden/yard available for entertaining.
  • We're across the street from a large park.
  • Great natural light in all rooms (the only exception is the powder room). Both upstairs bathrooms and the center hall have clerestory windows. 
  • Substantial masonry construction. This is a very solid house. 
  • On-demand water heater hidden inside a kitchen cabinet. Never-ending hot water is amazing. Who needs a 50 gallon tank in a small home? A "giant" albatross. 
  • Two gas wall-heaters provide more than enough heat for the entire house.
  • All tile floors in the main living areas, bathrooms, stairs, garage and back patio. Easy maintenance and they get toasty warm by the heaters.
  • Operable shutters on all main floor and bedroom windows. The bedrooms can become pleasantly cave-like, night or day. 
  • Vaulted ceiling heights in bedrooms provide for extra tall closet storage and create a much more spacious feel in the small bedrooms. 


As an interior designer, I look at every space with a critical eye, and our own space is no different. Besides changing most of the finishes to reflect our more contemporary aesthetic (hey, I can dream), there are a few plan changes that I would recommend: 

  • Widen the house by 2-4' to accommodate easier entrance into house if a car is in the garage (you enter through a gate into the garage, then enter the house). This would also create better head height in the stairwell.. we have to duck ever so slightly. But, hey, we're tall.
  • In colder climates, the house would need additional heating supply, possibly a utility room and mudroom and/or entry storage for cold-weather gear.  
  • The garage could easily be made into another room, or elongated to add a mudroom and utility room against the stairwell wall, which could also add space to the terrace off of the 3rd bedroom. But... then it wouldn't be such a small house anymore, would it?? (However, do we really need a car? We lived here four years without and feel we could do it again.)
  • If the house is built free-standing (not a duplex with walls on either side, as it is currently), additional windows could be added on the side walls, as well as bump-outs for stairwell and/or dining room.
  • Remove the utility sink from the kitchen because hey, counter space is at a premium and add a prep/utility sink to the side of the parrilla area outside for the grand asados we would surely have on the back patio.
  • Merge the two upstairs bathrooms into one larger bathroom. Both are on the small end of comfortable and I wouldn't recommend more square footage, unless you absolutely needed a larger kitchen as well (which is directly below).
  • At the very minimum, take out the bidets in the upstairs bathrooms. For us, it is not a cultural norm and they take up a huge amount of real estate in those tiny bathrooms. 
  • Change the wood-burning fireplace in main level to gas insert or more efficient heating stove for an auxiliary heat source.


I really love that after years of designing for size and luxury, I'm now designing for efficiency and extreme usability. "Mindful, minimal and efficient" is our personal goal and this little house fits right in. 


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We're Dual Citizens!

Our Argentine passports just arrived!

Our Argentine passports just arrived!

After an 18-month process, we are proud to announce that we are dual US/Argentine citizens! Okay, the adults of the family are naturalized Argentine citizens. Our youngest is a natural-born Argentine citizen since she was born here. And our 7-year old... we are still working on her status. She is a permanent resident but citizenship is a bit tougher since she was born in the USA and is currently a minor, but we will get to that in detail later. 

Dual citizenship was not our goal of moving abroad, but it has been a nice benefit. 

Brad represented the two of us throughout the process with the federal courts in Cordoba and it was an unbelievably smooth and inexpensive, albeit fairly long process. We have now been through both the permanent residency and citizenship/naturalization process here in Argentina and I daresay, citizenship was easy. 

The US State Department does not limit the citizenships that one can acquire and you can read more about that here and here . The main point as written is: 

"In light of the administrative premise discussed above, a person who:
  • is naturalized in a foreign country;
  • takes a routine oath of allegiance to a foreign state;
  • serves in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities with the United States, or
  • accepts non-policy level employment with a foreign government,
and in so doing wishes to retain U.S. nationality need not submit prior to the commission of a potentially expatriating act a statement or evidence of his or her intent to retain U.S. nationality since such an intent will be presumed."
(i.e.: We have no intent of giving up US Citizenship, and the US government presumes the same.) 

We'll be writing about the steps to Argentine Citizenship in great detail in upcoming posts. 

ALSO in the works: We're reclaiming Italian citizenship (granted since birth to Brad and the girls) with the goal of the three passport trifecta of USA-Argentina-Italy. The exciting details will be saved for yet ANOTHER post- or ebook if these citizenship posts get too lengthy. 

We feel that Argentine citizenship was a natural step for our family because:

  • Our youngest will always be a natural-born Argentine citizen
  • We have spent the last 5 years here in Argentina
  • We feel a great connection to the Argentine people and culture
  • As citizens, we can move freely throughout Mercosur (The EU of South America) without visas (US Citizens need visas for many countries in South America or pay a reciprocity fee for entry) and have the flexibility to travel/work at will... and not run into the possibility of having permanent residency taken away from us at some point in the future. 
  • While we do not plan to stay forever, this gives us options. 

The girls will have the option to live, study and work on three continents, with little or no bureaucratic or visa requirements.  United States of America, Italy/European Union (EU), and Argentina/Mercosur and its affiliate members.  


Want to move to Medellin, Colombia? Residency visa is granted in approximately 5 days to Argentine citizens. Nothing more than a background check which can be obtained same day. The process is substantially easier than what US Citizens would have to do to get a similar residency visa in Colombia.

Want to go to University in Germany?  It's free to all. See the link here to compare University costs throughout Europe. 

Now we just have to keep track of our 7 passports... hopefully soon to be 8...and not long after that...12! Looks like we'll need a larger travel wallet. 





Food, Fitness & Type 1 Diabetes: Lisa's Story

Food is a very personal thing. There is no one-size fits all in the real world and I'm convinced that what's right for one person may or may not be right for the rest of us. I also believe that if you've found something that might lead to self improvement, you need to give it a fair chance. If you've found something that works for you, you have to stick with it.

Easier said than done, I know.

I am not a nutritionist, a doctor, a fitness guru. I just want to share my story in the hopes that it might help someone out there find their own path. There are so many people looking, searching for answers. I hope to serve as a guide.

The Back Story:

Like most people, my relationship with food has been complicated and flexible (more like dancing and gyrating, but we'll get into that...)

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (I will refer to it as T1D) in late 2002. I had just turned 26. My mom and brother both have T1D, so I grew up around diabetes and didn't think it would affect my life too greatly. I knew it. I thought I understood it. I used insulin injections for a while, then switched to an insulin pump after a year. With the exception of two short stints on injections when I was traveling in recent years, I have used an insulin pump for the great majority of the last 13 years.

I was newly married and gained weight, as many newlyweds do. I remember huge glasses of orange juice, and matching my portions of pizza and Thai take-out with my husband. We were both chubby, but happy. I felt like I could eat anything and as long as I covered it with insulin and I did. My A1C levels were good, but I probably still produced some background insulin (appropriately called the "honeymoon period" after T1D diagnosis).

In order to gain control of our eating habits, we latched onto the South Beach Diet in 2005-ish and both lost weight. Portion control was key, along with the tough initiation period that broke your addiction to simple carbs.  The thing with South Beach is that you gradually re-introduce carbs and herein lies the downfall. 

Like most "diets" we slipped away from those better eating habits as the years passed.

Jump forward several years:

I had two beautiful baby girls, 4.5 years apart and although I lost all my pre-baby weight after my first pregnancy, my second wasn't so easy. I was at the heaviest (non-pregnant) that I had ever been, 175 lbs.

In late 2013, I had heard of Paleo eating and the Whole 30 and was trying to cut down on my carbohydrate intake to lose weight and gain better control of my T1D & blood glucose numbers. October 2013 I completed by first Whole 30 month and it changed my entire outlook on how I could feel. I started at about 173 lbs and lost about 10 lbs in a month. I felt amazing while not eating dairy or grains, but tons of protein, fruits and veggies.

Then came the holidays and a 6 week road-trip around Argentina in Feb 2014 with hours in the car and more restaurant eating than I care to admit (plus the tragic thinking of "Oh, I can have that. We're on vacation!!") The weight was back and what I had learned on the Whole 30 just months before went out the window.

Here's the visual evidence. This is hard to post: 

Feb 2014 - Our Road Trip through Argentina. Lisa at approx. 170 lbs

Feb 2014 - Our Road Trip through Argentina. Lisa at approx. 170 lbs

March 2014 was my second Whole 30 month and much harder than the first. It was also the start of daily exercise, bringing our youngest daughter to preschool everyday. I walked 5 km round trip, half of that pushing a jogging stroller along bumpy suburban sidewalks. I walked fast and felt strong. I felt great. The weight came off again and then some, totaling 23 lbs lost in a year.

March 2015- Lisa at approx 150 lbs 

March 2015- Lisa at approx 150 lbs 

I didn't care so much about the weight, though. I wanted to feel strong, fit and healthy.

Here it's July 2015. My daily walks with our youngest have ended as she started school with her sister, much closer to our home this past March. To make up for less time walking per day, I am taking 2 Pilates classes per week and trying to walk more on the weekends. I've also been looking for a yoga class nearby and have been exploring the concepts/motions of MovNat. Their motto "Be Strong To Be Useful". Who can argue with that??

Dr. Bernstein's Low Carb Diet for Diabetes Management: This past January, I re-discovered Dr. Bernstein's Book, "Diabetes Solution" after I bought it on Kindle last year.

Dr Bernstein is an 81-year-old Engineer (his first career) and Medical Doctor (he went to med school at age 40) that has had Type 1 Diabetes for the last 69 years. Dr. Bernstein has successfully reversed many of his own diabetic complications that came from years of high blood glucose levels following this diet that he advocates and discovered in the 1970s. He is currently practicing medicine in New York and accepting new patients.

I first read Dr. Bernstein's book in early 2014 and thought it was extreme and insane. It's an eating plan that is close to the Ketogenic diet, which has been used to treat Epilepsy since the early 1900's. Dr Bernstein's plan is close to what doctors prescribed to their patients at the discovery of insulin in the 1920's. It advocates very low carbohydrates to control diabetes blood glucose levels but even reverse the complications that high blood glucose levels produce. It is tough plan, with a limit of 30 grams of carbs per day, completely through vegetables, meat and dairy. No fruit. Higher fat than you'd imagine. Target blood glucose of 83 mg/dL. My target range is 70-95 mg/dL. 

So, with Dr. Bernstein's plan: 

  • Healthy fats/oils, eggs, red meat and dairy. YES!!!
  • Non-starchy vegetables. YES!!!
  • Nuts & seeds in limited quantities (depending on the type). YES!!!
  • Sugars (as in breads, crackers, pasta, rice, legumes, fruit, etc. -- because they are all turned into sugars in your body) ABSOLUTELY NO!

The first month was a difficult transition, but my blood glucose levels have been normal. Completely non-diabetic normal, with an  A1c of 4.4%. It had been so dramatic of a change that I don't know how I can give this up. I am not hungry, not feeling deprived and my T1D is completely under control. 

I am within a healthy weight range and BMI using all the recommended charts. (Based on some, my weight is still on the high end of recommended, others I fall right in the middle at 5'-10" and 150 lbs).

I feel great compared to the previous ups and downs of blood glucose levels that make a person feel tired, irritable and at times really foggy.

Do I feel less emotional, more clear headed, more ... ME?

I am happy to say.... YES!!!

March 2015-Lisa at approx. 150 lbs 

March 2015-Lisa at approx. 150 lbs 

** The next Health Post will discuss specific tools that I use and recommend to keep track of food and exercise. I'm not selling anything here, but there are things that work for me and keep me accountable on a daily basis.

New Beginnings and Reminiscing

The Truck Being Loaded
The Truck Being Loaded

Just over one week ago, we left the house where we have spent the last 4 years in Cordoba. A lot of living had been done in that house and it was an emotional goodbye.

When we moved to Cordoba in early 2011, we had just spent 5 months in Bariloche, Argentina. We left our two dogs there and had driven with our eldest daughter from Bariloche, across the Andes mountains to Puerto Montt, Chile and north through Chile to Santiago.

Cordoba, Argentina was to be our sight-unseen home. A few nights in a hotel and a temporary rental in downtown Cordoba led us to an exploratory drive where we stumbled upon the house and neighborhood where we've spent the last 4 years.

First Day of School for Daughter #1 - 2012
First Day of School for Daughter #1 - 2012

That house, while not perfect, was partially furnished and in a great neighborhood. We moved in when daughter #1 was just over 3 years old and our two Pugs joined us soon after their extended vacation in Bariloche. We were a whole different family unit when we moved in. Parents, one child and two dogs. Now, after the birth of Daughter #2 IN that house (who is now the age of daughter #1 upon move in) and the deaths of both dogs in that house, we are a completely different family upon moving out.

So... After strained contract negotiations with the owner of that house, we knew that this was an opportunity to change. We opted to stay in the neighborhood, took a referral and found a great little house that I will call the "casita" just across the plaza from our "old" one. In fact, even our street name is the same, just the number has changed.

We are taking this opportunity to re-group and reevaluate our possessions and in fact, our needs. Truth is, we don't NEED half of the stuff that we own and it doesn't bring joy to our lives (see my post on Mari Kando's Art of Tidying Up)

At first glance, it looks like we are crazy.

We went from a large, furnished 3 bedroom/3 bath home with a pool and garage (and much more space than we needed) to a very cozy 3 bedroom/3 bath that needs work and furniture. Bedrooms/baths aside, the casita about 1/3 the living space of our previous home but honestly, we love it.

Maybe we thrive on change and things had gotten a bit stale after 4 years at the other house. Maybe we are looking for adventure. Maybe both. The excess is being sloughed away and the essentials are coming to light. This is a test for the type of small living that we have always wanted and will seek out in the future, whether that is in the USA, Europe or elsewhere.

We are convinced that our family does not need 2000+ SF to live in. The casita has about 300 SF on the main floor and I am estimating about 500 SF on the upper level (which extends over the carport). It is efficient. Every inch counts and there is thankfully no more yelling across the house to get someone to hear you. We had rooms in the last house that were never used. For us, it wasn't worth the cost to rent and maintain when something smaller is much more fulfilling.

Last Thing Out Of The House: The Fish
Last Thing Out Of The House: The Fish

We will miss that big house and swimming pool and will always reminisce about the good times and the changes that happened within those walls. Goodbye big house, you were excessive but we loved you nonetheless.

Now we look forward to streamlining our lives even further and saving a ton of money in the process. Onward and upward!!

NEW Healthy Family Abroad Format

Ugh. Changing blog formats is never simple. The look, the layout, re-categorization of 6 years worth of posts. Here's the deal: We've changed the blog format to include three branches of information: Health, Family and living/moving working abroad information (thus our new name of HealthyFamilyAbroad!!) See the three tabs up above.

You'll be seeing a new blog design coming soon, utilizing these new categories to more easily search posts by interest.  There will be overlaps as many subjects can fit into more than one category.

Family will consist of posts on:

  • Time Together
  • Communication with Family at a Distance
  • Education: Local & Electronic Options
  • Trips "Home"
  • Holidays
  • Pregnancy & Birth
  • Kid Gear/Supplies
  • Language & adaptation
  • Minimalism
  • Travel
  • Packing How-To's


  • Food/ Diet/Cooking
  • Meal Planning
  • Local food availability & cost
  • Medical Care & Insurance
  • Fitness
  • Diabetes Care
  • Homesickness
  • Work/Live Balance
  • Mental Health

Expat/Living Abroad: 

  • Technology
  • Visas
  • Residency
  • Citizenship
  • Anchor Baby
  • Rentals
  • Transportation
  • Location Independence
  • Lifestyle Design
  • Money Exchange

Thanks for all your interest. We are very excited to roll out the new blog format and focus! Remember to comment on our posts and like us on Facebook!

Happy Travels,

Lisa signature
Lisa signature

"Clutter is The Junk Food of Your Home"

A link on Facebook caught my eye. Not the usual click-bait, it was this article. I was hooked instantly. It's a topic I find very interesting- Tidying- or rather sorting, getting rid of unneeded possessions, then simple organization solutions for the items that are left.

This is the book:

Turns out this book has been on the NYT best seller list. Who knew? (I'm living in something of a self-imposed media black-out here in the middle of Argentina, so this book was news to me.)

In our family's journey for health (spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc.) this clearing of our excess possessions fits right in.

"Consider clutter the junk food of your home"

I admit, I bought Marie Kondo's book for Kindle online a few minutes after reading the article and I am totally hooked.

The idea behind the book is to sort thorough your clutter in batches. Not a few items a day, not a category every month. Whole house, one category at a time, taking no more than 6 months to sort everything in your home. As recommended, I started with my clothes.

I don't have many clothes to begin with so this task should be easy, right? Well, yes and no. Turns out I've been keeping things I don't love (too big, too worn, the wrong color, the wrong fabric) just because I have nothing to replace them with. Not a good enough reason. You must evaluate every item in your wardrobe with a question of:

"Does this (item) spark joy in my life?"

In my experience, it's a pretty clear answer.

A few select items WILL be my shopping list after this, but there is no hurry. I will be selective. I have to make sure it will be perfect for me and the new items will spark joy in my life.

Here are all of my clothes (pictured above) before sorting. The two bins in front are workout clothes (left) and tank tops (right). The bin in the back is scarves and the bag is off-season clothes. It's currently early fall in Argentina.

I am happy to say that by evaluating my clothes using the KonMari Method described in the book, I was able to separate two full bags: one to donate and another to sell at a nearby consignment shop. That is in addition to two other bags I already had in the garage to donate.

I gave myself a little wiggle room (which the author would NOT approve of) and kept a "maybe" bag, and a bag with a few heavy winter sweaters.  This "maybe" bag contains items that I'll evaluate again in the coming days:

  • Items in need repair or alterations.
  • Practical items that don't yet have replacements (like a well-worn but too big fleece).
  • Other items I just have to think about if I really love. (If they're in the bag, though, chances are that I will be able to part with them. Just not today.)

I also sorted through clothes of Geneva's that she has outgrown and we are saving for her sister. I only kept the pieces that are special and in good condition, resulting in the removal of one more bag of clothes from the house.

My Sorting Results:

  • 2 bags of clothes out of my closet, resulting in much more streamlined shelves. I will go back and fold everything as the book recommends.
  • 1 bag of Geneva's old clothes.
  • I also inspired the Mr. to sort through his clothes and we have two even larger bags of clothing that have been removed from his closet.

Bag Count So Far Using the KonMari Method: 5

I honestly feel like a weight has lifted off of my shoulders...and this is only after sorting through clothes!

We have done massive possession purges before (2008 when leaving the USA and again in late 2010 leaving Uruguay) and while I am constantly shocked at how much we can easily accumulate, I embrace the physical and emotional freedom that comes with fewer possessions.

My closet, after sorting and before folding

My closet, after sorting and before folding

My Six-Hanger Closet

My Six-Hanger Closet

Clothes remaining in my wardrobe, pictured above (not including exercise gear):

  • 3 dresses, hanging on 2 hangers
  • 4 long pants, folded (including 1 jean)
  • 1 capri pants, folded
  • 2 outdoor jackets (one dressy, one sporty), dressy jacket hanging
  • 3 long skirts, folded
  • 2 skorts, folded
  • 1 suit (skirt/jacket) hanging
  • 2 lightweight blazer/jackets (one dressy, one casual), hanging
  • 1 cardigan sweater, folded
  • 2 sleeveless sweaters, folded
  • 3 blouses, 1 hanging, 2 folded
  • 6 tank tops (I like to layer!) in one purple bin

Next phase: My purses, shoes, foundations, hats, accessories and fitness gear. Then folding & organizing* all according to the plan.

*One great thing about this book is that the author does not recommend any special, high cost organizing tools. Nothing else to buy. Fold your clothes using the recommended method and put them in drawers when possible. Do NOT stack.

That's it and it's working brilliantly.

One more step on our way to living a more minimalist, streamlined and mobile lifestyle. Check!

**If you're interested in the book, please click on the link button above to buy through Amazon. If you buy through the link included here, you help support our blogging while not costing you any more.  

I love the kindle version of this book on Amazon because, hey, I don't want any more clutter. If you prefer traditional-book-in-hand, that's cool, just select that option when ordering. Whatever floats your boat :) 

Just remember, I would never (NEVER!) recommend anything that I have not used and love.

Peace and love,