could this be contentment?

 

I have a confession to make.

I have been experiencing something. It’s snuck up slowly.

I’ve tried to deny it, rename it, question it.

But friends, I believe it’s called Contentment.

Sunset 30 miles north off the coast of Cuba, taken this February.

After years of believing that I always have to be moving forward, growing, taking on more and more.  I’ve reached a place where I finally trust that no, right now for me;  I want to sit and bask in this time.  I don’t want to expand the time I put into my business, I don’t want to be involved in large numbers of art shows and networking and online classes.  I don’t want to join a bunch of mom groups.  I love my life right now.

After years of diligently looking at all my commitments and areas of stress, many which I wrote about in my ebook Finding myself in the Moonlight, I have added in breathing room and space into all areas of my life.  I’ve learned to trust myself more than ever before.  We’ve busted our asses for years and finally gotten to a financially free place where the only debt we have in the world isour home.  It’s truly freeing.  After years of having my head down and checking off an endless list of to-do’s I finally feel like I am in that place I prayed for so many times.

 

I’ll never stop learning (in fact I’m listening to a TED talk right now while typing this) but what I am getting better at is looking at classes and programs and knowing that now is not the time for most of them.  I’m still growing and learning and in fact my faith and spirituality is deeper than ever. Prayers and meditations and time in nature have all helped me to feel a contentment that I’ve never felt before. 

I share this to offer hope.  This may surprise you but I’m rebellous to my core.  I’m a rule following rebel I suppose.  I love to do good, I love to find good in others… but… the  minute society or people tell me that something should be done a certain way.. I question it.   It works though; I’m the happiest person I know.  I don’t feel like I need to do things the way everyone does them.   We all have areas we feel that pressure from. Here are some of the choices I’ve made that work for me (us) that have lead me more towards contentment:

  • moving 40 miles from the cities to a property where we can grow food, embrace nature, have a workshop to build and create in.  We are tucked into the trees and have privacy and also the rejunating energy of nature.  We get a whole floor to ourselves and the kids have their own bathroom, all in our cozy little 1500 sq. foot house.
  • getting out of debt.  We paid off $48k in just under 2 years (you can read about that here).  What that has done to our lives and the peace it has brought since though has blown my mind. We recently were able to take our kids on a week long cruise to Belize and also do a small road trip after we got off the ship and see the Everglades and visit a state park in the Florida keys.  The best part; we paid cash for the trip. It is so freeing to be able to plan and save and pay for a trip like that and come home and still have money in a savings account.  We worked so hard for so many years saving every penny, selling things and praying that I share that to say all that sacrifice was worth it.  
  • Homeschooling our youngest. Our oldest is in public high school and she thrives and loves it, I was faced last year with a decision to homeschool our youngest.  While I admit I wouldn’t prefer to have homeschooled my oldest, each kid is different and it has been the right decision to homeschool our little guy. And we LOVE it.  Just this morning in fact, sitting with him and watching him learn to read.  It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve gotten to do in my life. Teaching him about living from the heart, music and the arts, endless time for science and real life experiences.  I am so incredibly grateful for this time, piecing together a curriculum and resources so I can connect him with learning opportunities that help him become the best whole health and knowledgeable person he can be.
  • Our 16 year old just got her driving permit and I’ve had a similar feeling teaching her to drive. It’s so special to get to witness and be a part of that growth. In a world where everyone’s first reaction is to go to the fearful side of this time, and yes of course that part is there too; I’m choosing to really honor the blessings that this stage of life is bringing for her and us.
  • This past holiday season I did something that I had never done before.  After years of doing holiday art and craft shows and in person shows, hauling all my work from place to place, getting sitters and paying entrance fees I turned them all down and trusted this little voice inside that knew I could do it my own way. (At least for now, with kids at home I have found myself losing interest in shows. There is only 1 that I love where the people and atmoshpere and crowd are so amazing that I may keep doing it, we’ll see – lookup 4Angels boutiques if you’re curious)   Instead I offered very specific items online including remembrance ornaments and sold hundreds of them. I also got a chance to connect with small groups of people in online artwork parties. During these parties I was able to show videos where I got to explain the deeper meaning behind my artwork pieces and really hear people’s stories and what exactly what people around them were going through and connect them with the perfect gift they could get for those they love.  It was such a rewarding and special set of parties and I got to meet so many beautiful women. Plus I got to do all of those from my home on my own schedule. 
  • January 1st, I deactivated my personal Facebook. I was finding myself having underlying levels of guilt, after cutting my friend list from over 600 to around 250 that helped a lot. Ultimately though I had to get really real that me being at home and having endless access to “check in” was costing me many minutes once I added it all up.  Now after 2 months after being away I can see that the part I was really reluctant to admit to myself was that there was a continuous feeling of static in the back of my mind. Anywere I was, anything I was doing; I always felt like there was something else I was supposed to be doing.  I don’t know if everyone feels that, but for me stepping away has allowed me to feel so present in my day to day life.  At some point I’m sure I’ll get back on but for now it feels like the right choice for me.
  • I don’t do networking groups.  Or mommy groups.  Here is what I know about me. My go to emotion is guilt. I really want to honor and connect with people once I let them into my world.  What can seem like a fun one time, meet new people networking experience for most people leaves me feeling flaky and unreliable after the fact.  I connect with people and then within my daily life I have no room for follow up.  I am not available to do follow up coffee meetups, business meetings in person or mommy activities.  So instead I’ve chosen to honor this time and know that someday I may want to dive back in and network and meet more people and really give it my all then I will do so with joy. For right now though I feel fulfilled with those in my life and the simplicity of our day to day.
  • I don’t do phone calls or in person meetings if at all possible.  Artwork is visual and for me sharing information via email or online works best.  I am choosing right now not to do a ton of in person events.  What I have found also is on my deeper, more intuitive based artwork projects I attain better results if I don’t have phone conversations with my clients.  That my sound strange but I hate the phone. I don’t like talking to new people on the phone and it drains my energy.  So knowing that I choose to keep my internal energy high and my intuitive energy at it’s deepest level by honoring them.  This will change at some point, but for me right now with a kiddo in tow and a routine we stick to it is what works best for me.
  • Choosing to drive used cars.  We don’t do car payments and all our cars (4) are paid for in full.  I was especially glad the other night (when I hit a deer a few hundred yards from our driveway) that I don’t worry about scratches or other life things that seem to happen out here. For the record the deer jumped back up and was fine and so was my car.  Someday we’ll get some nicer cars but for now, this works great for us.  I’m grateful that Bruce knows how to fix cars and keeps them all running.  I think the biggest thing has been to disconnect our feelings of self worth from the cards we drive. Yes, of course it is fun to drive a super new, decked out car and we had fun last year when we rented a car for a weekend and chose a new BMW suv. It was really fun.  But I don’t feel like less of a person because our cars are from both the 90’s and early 2000’s.  I actually feel great pride and think of the other things we have been able to do with that time instead of having to spend it making money to pay for upgraded cars. Right now, I prefer more family time.
  • Minimalism – we have gotten rid of so much extra stuff over the last few years.  6 months after getting married and combining our lives (stuff) my mom passed and over the next couple years our garage filled up with furniture, decor, clothes and candles that were hers.  It’s taken almost a decade but we finally feel like we have just a few really special things that help me remember her but don’t need to have our whole house stuffed with things.  We spend less time organizing, cleaning and moving things which has freed up not only time but also energy for the things we really want to spend it on.
  • We don’t have cable. We have a roku with netflix and amazon and a couple other channels.  We don’t dvr things.  So yes, we miss things that are on tv quite often.  Years ago I spent so much time watching tv and scheduling out what things would be recorded and learning about new shows but now it has faded.  But somehow I’m still okay.  This past year I’ve bingewatched; Heartland, Hart of Dixie, Hallmark’s Home is where the heart it and a few other shows that everyone else enjoyed years ago.  I’m okay with that.  They are coming into my life at the perfect time for me to really savor them and enjoy them.
  • Diminishing toxic relationships.  We can’t always completely avoid people who bring negativity into our lives but I strive to eliminate unnecesary drama or people I don’t trust.  Today I don’t have to spend much time or energy on this but years ago I had a list of people in my life who I knew I needed to move on from. I send them love and I chose to limit or cut them out out completely and it’s been life changing.
  • We talk in the language of love.  If you where a fly on the wall in our home you would hear my 6 year old talk about how his heart is exploding with love. How he happy cried in the car yesterday while looking at the sunset and again last night when we all sat on the floor working on legos with him.  We talk about our love, what eachother mean to us and share gratitude fr
    eely. Even while having a 16 year old daughter I love that we can talk so openly and validate feelings, our intuition and have worked so hard to make our home a peaceful respite in contrast to a sometimes crazy and stressful world. 

I share some of these things because I know so many people do fill so much of their day’s doing things they “should” do instead of really allowing themselves to schedule in breathing room, space and peacefulness.  We want to make the people around us happy and sometimes we let the rule over that little feeling in our gut that knows something doesn’t feel like it fits anymore.  Give yourself permission to honor peacefulness as much as success and knowledge in other subjects.  It will make every area of your life better.  I’ve experienced the death’s of loved ones, a divorce, multiple moves, and defining and developing my business. Then later marrying a wonderful man and making choices that move me closer year after year towards a life I really connect with (including working really hard to un-learn so much I’ve been tought growing up.) That journey has led me to now has given me this gift of a chapter of contentment.  I feel so grateful, even grateful for the really tough times that make me even more grateful each day for good times.  I know life will be full of ups and downs and times where I can’t wait to be around people and others where I again crave solitude and quiet, but for now in this moment…  it feels so right.

Sending you all love!

The nitty gritty – behind the scenes how to pay $48k in debt off in 2 years

35things_debt

So hopefully you’ve read my other post here talking about why and the general how we got out of debt.  Let me be clear that when I say out of debt, I am referring to all debt other than our house.  Our house is a little further down the list but we wanted to take a moment and give reverance to this moment.  To paying off $48k in credit cards, principal on the house, school fees, cars and more.

Let me be really clear up front.  We busted our asses, worked a ton, sacrificed in every area we could.  But let me also say, we’ve never been happier, we’ve never felt more proud and we feel aligned with what is important in life.. not stuff but eachother.

For me saving was easiest if I could figure out ways to save behind the scenes or ways that other than a one time activity I wouldn’t have to change my daily behavior too much.  Progress came from places we could save money or places we could make money. Here are a few of those:

  1. We cut the cable.  Over the last 4 years this has saved us over $4,000.
  2. We found the lowest, most reliable internet provider we could.  We signed up for a year to get a promotional rate. Then I’d call back after our bill went up and ask nicely if they could still honor their promotional rate.  They did.
  3. We went cheap on cell phones.  We switched to Virgin Mobile and bought middle of the road phones.  No iphones for us, no phones with payment plans. Our phones could do the basics but nothing fancy, not too many apps. It was hard on me for my business and may have not been the best business move but I had to make a sacrifice here so I just went for it.  Now upgrading to a little nicer phone is on my list.
  4. Cloth diapers.  When our youngest wes little we bought a large batch of cloth diapers. They saved us hundreds of dollars a year.  I loved them. I got into a routine with them and since I worked from home while being there it was pretty easy to stay on top of them and have them not be too big of a deal.
  5. We cut back on eating out.  We cut down to $30 a month total for 4 people.  This is what worked best for our family.  Since I am home both with the kids and working I am able to make dinner each night.  This left eating out for only when we really were strapped for time or energy.   We said no a lot to eating out.  We had to be okay with being left out for a couple years, and after awhile to not be invited much to dinners.
  6. I made homemade toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaners and more.  I found a diy version for everything I could.  I loved also that I knew exactly what was going into each product so I trusted their safety more and it saved us money.  Once I spent the time making these projects the time actually spent using them was identical to anyone else. So it was a one time investment of my time and researching and many share the same few products so buying them was justified even more.
  7. I sewed reusable cloths for our household.  We have these everywhere.  It’s helped us to go down to only 1-2 rolls of paper towels a year and we never buy tissues.  I would buy flannel baby blankets and wash them, then cut them apart and sew into rectangles.   dscn3970
  8. We bought a hair cutting clipper set.  I watched some youtube videos and learned how to cut my hubby and son’s hair.  This has saved us about $20/month and the time and energy of going to a salon.  I’ve cut my own hair too for the last 2 years and mostly done Sky’s.  Being a teenager she’s a bit more picky so she used some of her work money to got get some highlights and a cut a couple times a year.
  9. We bought most clothes from consignment stores or garage sales.  With the exception of a couple things for me and a few things the kids and hubby got for gifts, I became a garage sale queen.  This works expecially great with a young boy.  I’ve also gotten myself barely worn champion and nike tennis shoes for a couple bucks each. Once I even found really nice Merrill dress shoes for a dollar. Amazing!
  10. Patience – their have been many times we’ve wanted something right away, especially after moving into a difference house.  The best and hardest thing was to be patient where we could. There are so many times that we can’t control what things are needed so anytime non vital things were added to our list we tried to keep our eye out for sales or checked online sites like the FB groups or craigslist.  A perfect example was this summer. The weather was getting hotter and my art studio would have the sun beating in it all morning and almost be unbearable. This would then cause the rest of the house to be hot.  So we knew it was time to get some blinds for that wall of windows and take down the super chic zebra fabric I had nailed over them.  We were actually on our way to the store to buy the blinds when there was a garage sale near our house.  We got out and found a ton of really great stuff I could re-paint and sell and then right there was a buck full of miniblinds still in their boxes.  There were 3 the exact size I needed for my studio and Bruce found 3 that fit his garage workshop windows perfectly too plus they were only 50 cents each!!!  AMAZING.  Thank you universe.
  11. We lowered our insurance costs.  For years I had been with one company, I finally agreed to have a friend who offers insurance give me a quote.  While our auto insurance went up by a couple bucks a month through her, she saved us almost $400/year on our homeowners and offered better coverage. We were stunned!
  12. We lowered our interest rate on our house.  For years we were upside down on our mortgage in our old house and couldn’t refinance. We had a 6.95% rate and it was killing our budget.  When we moved were were able to drop that to a 3.125% and get a 15 year.  This saved us instantly over $100/week in interest that instead is going to principal plus knocked over a decade off our mortgage.
  13. I had to limit my art supplies.  It’s easy to let a hobby or a business get out of control and justify every want.  I would justify endless classes, books, supplies to try new techniques and all sorts of other marketing goodies.  I loved it all.  I had to be very diligent about keep my inventory at a low yet good amount and taking home as much profit as possible these past few years.
  14. Sales – we had garage sales.  We sold clothes to consignment stores.  I sold lots over FB groups and craigslist.  I also donated lots.  It was both about getting more money into our funnel but it also was about mentally and physically clearing clutter from our lives.  I keep a lean household, if we don’t use something it’s gone.  I’ve watched too many people around me be buried by clutter and eventually not have the energy to deal with it.  I prefer thinking of things that we no longer use that our time with them is done and it’s time for someone else to get to enjoy them.
  15. We made simple things fun.  We camped, we rented most of our movies from the library for free. We had picnics and bike rides, we hung out with friends and family doing simple things. I turned down shopping invites and instead met to just hang out or go on a walk together.  I turned dinner invites into coffee dates.  We played games, had bonfires, made forts and had dance parties.  We only went out to 1 movie as a family in the last 22 months. We went to 1 county fair.  We bought a family science museum pass and also visited our local zoo.  We spent less than $240/year on entertainment. (this is separate from sports fees, school activities or vacations)
  16. We had a written budget.  We wrote down all our income.  We wrote down our monthly expenses that we knew we had, we created envelopes for once in a while expences like toiletries, pets, gifts and we averaged what those took a month and we’d add that amount to those envelopes.  This helped keep our month to month expences pretty even. It also took away many surprise expenses.
    1. Our envelopes- grocery, restaurant, misc, entertainment, clothing, gifts, g. sale, toiletries, chore $ for kids, each kid had an envelope for what we estimate their expenses to be each month (mostly school activities, friends events, etc), lunch $, pets, household projects, beer.  My husband agreed to only spend $20 a month on beer.  He’d then treat himself to a fun 6 pack a couple times a month of some new local brew or another favorite.
  17. We made furniture and sold it. We bought used furniture and other items and fixed them, painted them or repurposed them and sold them in our booth at a local store in town.  It created some extra income and was a fun bonding experience for us.
  18. We had to abandon our bi-annual 2 week road trip this past year and instead chose to be a bit more budget conscious and flew to where my in laws where staying for the winter.  We crashed with them for 4 days and got enjoy them and the warm weather during this past February. This cost us only 25% of what our normal 2 week road trip budget is, yet we still got to get away and have some great family time.
  19. We had to set some boundaries and say no… A LOT.  We said no a lot to the kids, we also had to say it to ourselves and those around us who would ask us to go out and do things we knew weren’t in our budget.  Sometimes this was even saying no to things that were “free” because we knew that the gas would be an expense over our budgeted amount.
  20. We had to change our thinking and instead of thinking of our available money being everything that was coming in.  Our available money was only that which we had budgeted for the month.  ALL the rest went towards debt.   We followed Dave Ramsey’s philosophy on the order we paid things down.  We started with the smallest debt and paid it off as quickly as possible.  Then we put that amound towards the next largest until that was paid off.  It helped us to see progress and also gain some momentum.
  21. We put $1000 in our savings before we did anything else.  What this savings did was help us sleep better at night, it helped in case something unexpected came up so we weren’t completely in desperation at all times.  We tried not to touch this money. The only time we did use some is when we had to buy a car this past summer.  Then we spend the following weeks building it back up instead of putting that money towards paying debt.
  22. We had to give up a lot of short term fun for the sake of long term security and genuine well being.   This meant camps for the kids were out, we cut back on hotels and some of the traveling sports.  We tried to just buy less in general.  As I mentioned in my other blog post; we sold our atv, land  up north, camper, extra trucks and more.  All with the vision of getting out of debt and preserving our energy so we could put more of both towards our bigger goals.
  23. We stopped trying to keep up with the Jones’.  Sometimes the Jones’ are relatives, best friends or even our kid’s friends.  We had to get real about all the activities we were involved in, we had to stop caring about what anyone thought about the car we drove. We got okay with being considered wierd.  We had to constantly balance between being frugal and wise with money while NEVER taking on a poverty or lack mindset.  Being tight with money while also believing in abundance was a balancing act; one that I’m not sure I was able to perfectly reconcile.  Especially being an entreprenuer; there is an underbelly of that world where you dress to impress, you pay others to do things for you so you can focus on your craft and work in your genius. It would be highly frowned upon to become complete DIY’ers.  It’s true sometimes when doing that we were probably spending hours to save a few bucks.  But accumulatively it added up.  It was a lifestyle shift.  It also felt good to use our hands to create, our minds to problem solve and spend more time than ever doing simple family activiites.   Some of my favorite times were having all of us outside last winter chopping and gathering wood. I loved it.
  24.  dscn0396
  25. I wore the same black dress to  many events.  I wore it with different necklaces or different jackets to change it up but I wore the same dress to my sister’s wedding, 2 funerals, many fun summer picnics, grad parties, my art studio open houses and more.  I just made do and wore it while I could.  It’s finally worn out now so I probably wouldn’t wear it out again but it sure did serve me well.   Between us, I also wore the same black dress shirt to my 20 year class reunion that I wore to the 15 year reunion… and I’m still alive nor did anyone care or notice….  What was important is I felt great wearing it. I wouldn’t have worn it if it made me feel bad, I instead chose to wear it with pride. It fit me and it carries lots of great memories with it.
  26. Gift giving – we had some big family discussions about gifts.  One thing I do differently now than I did in my 20’s… during my first marriage if money was tight we would not buy eachother anything.  After that marriage fell apart, I knew there were several things I wanted to do different during my 2nd marrage. One of those things is honoring my spouse and not being a martyr or so self sacrificing that we don’t get each other gifts. They don’t even have to cost much but it’s the energy behind someone being able to put thought into someone and show they care. I value that so much now. Even if it’s flowers cut from the yard there is a different energy to that than saying lets not get anything. There are times we would also go out to an event for our gift instead of a thing too.  For others I created gifts where I could, got creative with some so we could do them on a budget. I still love to give so we just had to do it carefully.  We started to draw names for our relatives instead of buying for everyone.  Here are a few of the fun things we’ve made over the past few years to give hand made wreaths and coat/jewelry racks:
  27.  img_20141123_182527_011 dscn0283
  28. We quit the gym.  We moved to 6 acres now so we try to get outside each day.  We were also gifted a treadmill, this has been a life saver especially during the winter months.
  29. We kept eachother motivated.  There were many times we were exhausted over the last few years.  Especially when you factor in the couple years of half assing trying to pay things off before that.  We had to keep our eye on the prize.  We talked a lot about dreams we have. What we will do someday when we don’t have a house payment.  We made sure to build eachother up and be a great team instead of turning on each other or blaming.   There were times I felt isolated, especially after moving out here further and working from home.  I now homeschool our youngest also. While 95% of the time I absolutely love it all there are moments where I crave being around the hustle and bustle a bit.  So now I try to plan ahead so I don’t get depleted and instead every few weeks plan to run errands in the cities or be out and about and see family or friends.
  30. We’re teaching our kids that things will not buy you long term happiness.  Even the house we bought now is not large. We chose a house that was just big enough for us but also small enough that we can keep up with it and possibly grow old here.  I am always making sure the kids don’t have too much clutter, they re-sell toys or movies and put it towards new things. They are learning about budgeting and have both also done chores to earn money.  We try to create experiences with them and focus on those more than things. They are well loved and live amazing lives, my hubby and I took on most of the sacrifice but I do think it was important to let them feel just enough of the weight of this experience to help them stay out of debt in their adult lives.
  31. We take good care of the things we have.  My computer is 5+ years old.  Our cars, our lawnmower, our clothes.  We try to treat our things well. We wash them, we mend them, we be careful with them in the first place.  This has helped us in many ways being able to extend the lives of some of our biggest expenses.
  32. I hang our laundry.  Outside in the summer, inside in the winter.  Thankfully now we have a laundry room but for years I’d stretch out pieces across our living room to dry.  Now it doesn’t take up the whole house but it’s a win-win. It saves energy and it adds moisture back into the air of our home in the winter when it tends to get very dry.
  33. While we were completely frugal in some ways we also believe in luxuries where we can. For us that mean buying organic food whenever possible, having life insurance and hiring an amazing photographer for family photos every few years.  There were a few times we were able to donate to fundraisers for causes close to our heart.   I read blogs about how people can only spend $100 per person on groceries per month but for us that never seemed doable.  I don’t eat meat, grains, rice, potatoes, corn, wheat, milk.  So it was lots of veggies, seafood or fish, nuts, some dairy, good oils and fats.  We have a few others that also don’t eat wheat so we try to buy good quality foods.  Our monthly grocery budget was $800/month. But as mentioned earlier we only spend $30/month on restaurants so that is the majority of our eating.  I also don’t drink except a couple times a year so there isn’t much spent on drinks and we very rarely have soda in our house.  It’s mostly water, milk or home made almond milk.   We also made sure we all have life insurance.  We had 2 parents pass away in the last decade. My mom had life insurance and it gave my dad breathing room to take care of things. My hubby’s dad did not and I watched the complete stress his wife felt as she tried to pay for expences and their day to day life. It left an imprint on me
  34. We bought organic, non gmo seeds and started them inside this spring.  We then grew lots of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers (many are now pickles), and other foods and herbs in our garden ourselves for a fraction of what they cost in the store.  We are hoping to expand this each year as our knowledge base grows and our time is no longer spent on so many house projects we’ll have more to invest in growing our own food.   We saved many food containers to start the seeds in and now this summer I got 2 large stacks of starter pots for free that I’ll use to tranplant the sprouts into once they get too big for the small starter containers.  (we use applesauce cups).
  35. We heat our house using a wood boiler.  This was a large cost up front to get a wood burner that then heats the water that runs through our garage floor and our house but we now are able to use our downed trees in this burner to heat our house all winter.  This is more of my hubby’s department since my knowledge on it is limited but that is what I do know. For us, living on 6 wooded acres it’s been a perfect fit.
  36. We transitioned to LED bulbs.  The cost of LED had come down greatly the last few years but for us even back a couple years ago we transitioned each bulb as it burned out. Some we used CFL then transitioned those to LED as we could.
  37. We stayed out of malls and stores as much as possible.  I stopped using store credit cards and praising myself on how much I saved.  Instead we just stopped shopping and found other hobbies.  We literally only shopped to buy what we needed.
  38. We sat and talked a couple times a month about our budget.  We compared notes, we’d do our best to predict any possible expenses for each new month.  We’d go back over past months and see where we over spent or where we did good.  I LOVED these meetings.  I could talk about our budget and lay out spreadsheets and goals and dreams for days.  But I learned that my hubby didn’t share my enthusiasm. For him he liked a bullet points meeting and also needed to hear about what was being paid.  In the years prior to these past 2 hard core ones, I learned he was going to work every day for years but would only ever see that our bank account was just enough to cover bills.  So now communicating better he could see how much debt was being paid off and how great his and our hard work was indeed paying off.
  39. We try to never do anything with payment plans, even zero interest.  We don’t charge things and we aim to pay cash for everything possible.  It helps us to shift our thinking into the big picture cost of something instead of monthly cost.   We also only pay cash for cars now.   Our goal is to get our house paid off early and then only pay cash if we ever buy another.
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Life’s full circle moment. After selling the trucks, the atv, the camper. We have a fun jeep to plow the driveway and do some heavy lifting… and it’s paid for. 🙂

Mostly, it’s important to know that we had to find what worked for us.  I know that some of our situation is unique, but I encourage you to find what can work for you.  You may be lucky to have much more income to work with than we were, awesome.  Think of it as a bigger shovel to dig yourself out.  I do know this; people are in debt at all income levels.  There are a few that aren’t bothered by it (maybe like us years ago, thinking we had it all handled) other people are going to be with knots in their stomachs trying to figure out what to do.  I’ve spent way too many nights of my life with that feeling and I hope to NEVER have it again.  I can’t control all of life’s circumstances but we have decided to control what we can and get ourselves in a better situation.  Let me tell you… eating peanut butter sandwiches feels better than eating out when you know you’ve got your bills paid.  There is such a peace of mind that happens as things are paid off.  Plus, it’s an amazing journey to go on as a family. It’s hard and you have to get really real and vulnerable but the reward is looking the real you in the mirror and feeling incredibly proud.

I know there are many people who have their house paid for, tons in the bank for retirement and are just fine.  I celebrate you.   But I know for every one of you, there are tons of us here in the trenches where every dollar and five dollar decision can make a big difference in our days and years.

I offer you all the cheerleading and support I can if you see yourself in any of our story.  If you are buried so deep you don’t know how you can dig yourself out.  I offer you hope.  I offer you hope if you are someone who hopes to be home with your babies, or someone who hopes to be able to live in a different area or just feel internal peace.

We’re all on our own journeys and ours is full of hiccups and ways we coulda/shoulda did things different.  Let’s all give each other some grace and love and cheer each other on. I don’t know anyone out there who needs people to judge them or shame them.  I just offer support and encouragement for you and for myself to keep on keeping on and doing the best with what we can control.

Wishing you a life where you can have authentic joy, creative dreams and peaceful sleeps.

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How to create an inspired outdoor space that’ll make you swoon

I have decided that I really want to spend more time outdoors this year.  Relaxing, inspired, bug free time.  So I put it on our budget for this spring to find a gazebo tent with screened sides.

As we searched every online site we could, we ended up finding one that was clearanced out for 1/2 off and ended up being just under $250.  SCORE!   Step one was complete, now for how to find inspiration.

  • I started by finding a shower curtain that I could hang on the back wall.  This helped set the mood and color scheme for the decor.  I chose a fabric shower curtain for two reasons; a) they are more durable than many fabrics and have been sewn around the edges and hemmed.   b) they already have holes cut at the top for a rod (or in our case zip ties).
  • Next I found a chandelier at a garage sale.  I found this one for $5.  It works, it was just a less trendy color of brass.   I gathered up other items that I wanted in the tent.  A basket for reading magazines, some twinkle lights, etc.

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  • I found indoor/outdoor spray paint and painted the basket and chandelier in this great deep teal color.  (the pictures make them look different but the color of the basket below is more accurate)

 

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  • We’ve had a coffee table that I made in high school laying around in our garage for years, so we took that out and decided to add repurposed fending boards to the top.  I cut them all down so they overlapped the top by about 3/4″ on each side.  I then faux distressed a few boards with some white paint and painted the legs of the table white.

 

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  • Now that we had all the pieces, we started assembling it all.  My hubby and I strung up the chandelier from the top, center.  Then took these great white lightes and strung them around the inside of the top. We made it so both cords met up on the same back corner and we zip tied an extension cord in the corner.
  • The original back curtain I had bought wasn’t going to be wide enough, so I found 2 more brown ones on clearance and put those on the sides of the middle one.  I love when things work out perfectly; I was looking for something to hang the curtains from in the garage and I found a 1″ piece of pvc piping that was exactly the right length. AMAZING.   So I got a bunch of zip ties and I zip tied every other hole to the pole.  Then we zip tied the bar to the top of the tent at different points.
  • On the table I added one of my hand painted wine bottle torches.  This one happens to be one that was used at our wedding reception luau so it holds extra sentimental meaning for us.
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Here is our finished results:

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A few other side notes – we plan on keeping this gazebo tent together in this part of the yard for years, so we anchor bolted the legs to concrete blocks on each corner.  If you have tent sides you could also place those behind the fabric background to add protection from the weather.  This tent was going to go in a space right next to our future bunkhouse but instead we decided to put on a different side of our yard that is at the top of a hill so it’s pretty windy.  So my hubby put a couple sheets of plywood behind the curtain and anchored them to 2 metal yard stakes.  This helps prevent the curtain from blowing around.  (similar to if we would have backed it up to a fence or building).

We have this one about 20 feet from our fire pit so it’s incredibly relaxing out there.  If possible I highly recommend putting in a part of your yard where you can relax, the original spot we almost put it left us looking at all the projects we still had to work on so we realized it would be as relaxing there.

One more project checked off our list here at the Little house on the hill.  We have almost been here 1 year now, it’s hard to believe.  We are loving every minute.

Wishing you an inspired day!

Noelle_Signature

Thrifty Thursday – pallet side table

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Fun side table – from pallets

My hubby is lucky enough to get these great fee pallets every once and awhile from work, we love making fun projects from them.  I was using two tv trays in front of a window to hold our plants, it was time to make something more permanent.  We found some table legs that had been in our garage for years, we never knew what to do with them.  I drew up some plans and had my hubbs help me make this.

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Bruce assembling the top and bracing onto the legs.

Aspen helping out too:

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All finished!  Here it is before I paint it:

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I love the painting part, lots of water mixed with paint to “age” the wood.  Then fun pops of reds, teals, greens, browns, whites.  Partially just colors I enjoy and partially to match our decor.   The legs were a blackish/green when we pulled them out of the wood pile. Originally I planned on painting the whole table white but once it was together I loved the contrast.  I instead added some touches of color to the legs, a bit of copper, browns, and reds. I love the final result:

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This setup means so much to me.  The legs came from my dad years ago.  Aspen helped me paint the flower pots.  The plants are from my ex-father-in-laws funeral. The metal cage used to be my moms along with the lamp on the bottom shelf.  Skylar painted the frame on the bottom left and it has her picture in it.  The silhoette on the bottom is of my mom, the painting behind it is one by Aspen.  And the cardinals on the top shelf were a gift from me to Bruce, they are two cardinals snuggled up together.   Whew, a table build by me and my love and full of meaningful things from people around me present and past.  Love love love.

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Thrifty Thursdays – Bulk Garbage Burritos

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My husband and I are constantly on the lookout for easy meals for him to take to work.  I also wanted some healthy and easy meals for me and the kids.  So we bought these tortillas one day from Costco and I started looking around the house to see what else we had here.  I added some beans, rice, chicken (for him) and other goodies.  These have been a huge hit.  They are super cheap and easy.   Keep in mind that I’m am far from being a chef/cook.  So if I have left any pertinent information out just ask and I’ll add it in.

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Here is the recipe.  Feel free to add what you love or take out what you don’t:

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Thrifty Thursdays – Covered bench makeover

 

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I absolutely love to find solid wood furniture that just needs a little pick me up.  This looked great in the room it was in but my daughter wanted it for her Paris, hip themed room. So some black paint and funky zebra fabric and viola! Beautiful and new feeling.  Enjoy!

For this one we unscrewed the top from the base. Painted the base with primer then black paint.  Using heavy duty staples I stapled the new fabric to the underside of the top.  Picturing the top as a clock, staple at 12 o’clock, then 6, then 3, then 9.  Then fill in the spaces between. Making sure to pull taught and even.  Screw back on the base and your set.

 

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What are your favorite furniture makeovers? I’d love to hear.

 

 

 

 

Thrifty Thursdays – Cheap and easy Breakfast Skillet

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Cheap & Easy Breakfast Skillet:

We are OBSESSED with this in my home right now.  It has a variety of food groups and it pretty simple and CHEAP!

It includes:

  • 2.5 lbs cups Diced Potatoes (3 large potatoes)   (Cost: $1.13 for 2.5 lbs. We buy the 20lb bag from costco for about $9.  We’ve also used organic potatoes, for that we paid $3.69/lb at Aldi.  So for 2.5 lbs it’d be $3.08)
  • 1/4 c. Vegetable oil (we had this so I’m gonna guess $0.20)
  • 1 medium onion (.25)
  • 1 diced tomato  (We got a 5 pack of roma tomatoes from Aldi on sale for $1.00  so for 1 tomato it’s $0.20)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese ($2.00 for a block of cheddar at aldi,  we used 1/2 of it.  So for 1/2 it was $1.00)
  • 1/2 cup chopped brocolli ($4.59 for 48oz at Costco  = 4oz for $0.38
  • 3 eggs  (we use organic from Costco, $6.50 for 2 dozen, so about $0.27 each;  $0.81 total)

= Total of $3.97 for a huge skillet breakfast for 4 people!  AMAZING

Optional:   chopped fresh spinach, other veggies

Instructions: Chop the potatoes into 1/2″-1″ squares.  Heat up the oil in a large frying pan over med/medium low heat.  Add in potatoes.  Cover and allow to cook, stirring every 5 minutes.  After 30 minutes add in chopped onion.  Continue cooking until potatoes are tender and starting to crisp.  Then add in veggies, I add in a few Tablespoons of water here and re-cover, it helps steam the veggies.  Start making scrambled eggs in a separate pan (or make before you start the skillet and set aside).  Then top the potato mixture with the scrambled egged and shredded cheese.  Serve immediately.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

We used to  buy hash browns and diced potatoes already chopped, shredded. But when we realized what the savings were if we would do that ourselves we dove in and have been doing it ourselves ever since. PLUS we know there are no extra added ingredients that we don’t like.

Some more pics:

 

I’d love to hear what your favorite breakfast recipes are!  Share in the comments below:

Thrifty Thursdays – New blog series debut

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Welcome to my new Thrifty Thursday blog!

I love to live  life where I save money on the things that I can so I have money to do the amazing things I REALLY want to use my money on. For me that is traveling, and currently paying off the mortgage.   To accomplish those things and still live a good life I love to find unique and fun ways that fit into my lifestyle but also save money, reduce waste or help save something from a landfill.

Here is a BIG difference between me and some other thrifty, money saving bloggers.  I REFUSE to take on a “thrifty, bargain basement mindset”.  I live an abundant life, full of great blessings, family, a business I love and I believe we should surround ourselves with things we love (like art!) 🙂    I think it’s important to know why your saving money, do not fall into a “I’m poor” mentality.  I know people of all income levels that struggle with money, I know people of all income levels that feel abundant and happy.  It seems to be the American way for us to live a bit beyond our means no matter what we make.   I’m putting my foot down.  I refuse.  We work hard in our family to not use our Credit cards, pay cash for things in full and still live a great life.

We are just beginning the process of painting all the trim in our home, next we’ll be ripping off all the sheetrock in our kitchen, living and dining room.  Our house was built many years ago and it greatly suffers on proper insulation.  In the last year we’ve done 2 bedrooms and re-insulated. I can hardly believe the difference.  Since we do it all ourselves, it’s relatively cheap to do. (A couple hundred bucks).  But the savings on our heating and a/c bills are huge without leaks all over the place.  I realized when I found a vine from our fence outside that had made it’s way under the wall and was growing up into our living room awhile back that somewhere there is something wrong.   So today I’ve been home with Aspen, we’ve been painting trim all day.  It was going really good til he went rogue and painted the doorknobs.  He is 3, so ….

I look forward to sharing great bulk cooking recipes, ideas and other cheap food ideas.  I also LOVE to find furniture and other pieces and give them new life.  It one time took me 8 hours to sew a pair of rectangle curtains… so I’m not very talented in that area. However, there is much room for growth.  I have a few basic things that I’ve done in the last few years that have saves us big time. Good think for me I only needed to sew rectangles on those…     I also want to share ideas on how to save money and do other things, like giving up things that it seems like “everyone else” has.   And lastly I love talking about money and the mindset of money.  How to change our thinking so we don’t shut off abundance and blessings from flowing in, how to keep ourselves connected and in the flow of money.

Today’s topic: Clutter and Stuff

Tip:  When you buy, are given things, or receive gifts. In your mind categorize them into these categories:

Lifers: They are things we will use and keep for as long as possible. They are heirlooms, art, some decorative things.

Passing Through: These are things you will need and value but won’t need them forever.  Things such as baby items, toys, baby furniture, etc.  Items for an event (Example; when we got married we had a luau in our backyard for our reception.  We had bought a trellis, some silk flowers that were mixed in with real flowers, other decor, a tiki bar, etc.  Once the wedding was done we knew we didn’t have room for them anymore.  So we sold them all.)   These are things that you can re-sell, donate or pass on to others who need them when you are finished with them.  Don’t mistake these for the first group.  This is where clutter begins, we think because these items were special during a certain time period that we need to save them or hang on the them.  You don’t. Free yourself.  Take some nice photos of them to remember them and let them move on to others who will be grateful for them.

Fillers: These are things that are hand-me-downs, thrift store finds that you don’t love but needed until you can find exactly what you want or afford.  My entire first apartment was filled with these. It was cute but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to be a bit more picky about what I surround myself with.  I know really aim to have NOTHING in our home that we don’t use or REALLY love.  We rarely keep stuff anymore just because, or because it’ll do.

Projects:  These are things you pick up to re-do, makeover.  Art projects, hobbies, etc. These are things that make you happy and feel good.   A few years ago my dad after years of raising 5 kids and after my mom had passed away had to analyze his hobbies.  He was realizing he had more hobbies than he did time to do them.  Guiter, building and fixing boats, cars, woodworking, and a few others.  So he picked his top 2 and had to let the others go. This actually helped free him up so he could really dive in and enjoy those.

Momentos:  Yearbooks, photos, old trophies, concert booklets and guides, etc.   Pick a box or tote and make a pledge to only hang onto that much.  This is key for raising kids too.  Realistically they aren’t going to want 7 bins of momentos when they move out someday.  Pick the best, more memorable. Take photos of the others and put them in an album and add that in.

Here are a few things that for me where in the Passing Through group. I had them in my studio last year. It was fun to work on them and fun to see them all find great new homes when I was done with them:

If you have things to sell try ebay, craigslist, garage sales, giving away, consignment shops or donate!  You’ll feel amazing as you start to clear out things that no longer have a place in your home. Plus energetically and physically you’ll be making room for things that genuinely make you feel good.