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!

True Freedom! How we cleaned up over 48k in debt in just 21 months

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I was in conversation a few weeks ago with a close friend and we were talking about bills. I mentioned how hard we were focusing on paying bills because we were close to getting out of debt and only having our home left to pay.  “Wow, you’re lucky.  Must be nice.” That was her reply.  That stuck with me… we must be lucky.. it just didn’t sit right.

Over the last few weeks that’s been stirring around in my mind between errands and other thoughts and I finally am able to articulate why I don’t think luck had much to do with it and I certainly wouldn’t call the experience “nice”.  It was hard.  Really hard.  It is was raw and real and I feel like we’ve been paying off debt FOREVER!

Fair warning; this post is really honest and really long.

I believe in going after dreams, in living a big life and in living in true authenticity and joy.  I want a life that is full of love and experiences that make me grow and expand my life and relationships.

Let me rewind to 2011, our life was busy and full of joy. We had a small modest home in the suburbs of Minneapolis, 2 used cars we drove, a few acres of land a couple hours away with a camper, atv, an extra truck that ran and an extra truck that didn’t.  We’d spend the week working our tails off then pack up and go up to the “cabin” for the weekends.  As Sky got older and had more sports tournaments over the weekends we noticed that our attention, time and money were being pulled in more directions.  It was getting harder for us to really enjoy each thing we were doing because we were always racing to the next thing.  With a preteen and an infant we knew it was going to be many more years before we re-gained full chilled out weekends.  At the same time we were getting by financially, we didn’t think about all our payments since we were able to pay them all each month.  We didn’t consider ourselves paycheck to paycheck…  looking back we had about an extra 2-3 paycheck buffer that kept us feeling falsely safe.

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During a vacation to Colorado and out West in 2011, one of my dearest friends introduced me to Dave Ramsey and we talked about debt, and dared to dream what it would be like to have no payments.   It was after we got home that we had some serious conversations about money, goals and life.  We made a choice to sotp reacting to life and instead make some hard decisions that would help us in the long run.  We knew that someday we wanted the best of both worlds, not the home and a cabin but instead a home where we could live like we were at the cabin. We set the intention and we got to work; that first year we sold the land, the camper, the atv, the trucks, extra furniture and everything we could think of.  Doing all of that also allowed me to continue to work part time and be home more to help raise the kids. It was a win-win.

Years before, after I was going through my divorce I remember feeling so hopeless financially.  I remembered sitting at the kitchen table with my dad and I was crying my eyes out. I had just gotten a notice that my credit card with an $11k balance was raising my interest rate to 33%.  As a single mom at the time I was panicked.  I couldn’t see out of the 10’s of thousands of dollars of consumer debt I was left with after that world came crashing down on me.  From that hopelessness I filed for bankruptcy.   I justified it in my mind and at interest rates of greater than 30% at the time on all my credit cards I had paid my original balances plus some but because of all the interest I couldn’t seem to gain ground.  I filed and felt like I got a new start. The ironic thing.. even the day after filing bankruptcy I still was never debt free. There were still student loans and other things I was still paying on.

Fast forward back now to 2012 and the hubby and I were in the midst of working to pay things off then our main car broke down.  Note – this is was a defining moment for us looking back –  We chose to let that car sit for a bit while we figured out how to fix it and we went out and we finance a newer one.  Eventually we fixed up the first and sold it for a loss. This cycle went on for the next couple years.  2 steps forward one step back.

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At the end of 2014 is when we officially had it.  I was fresh back from a life changing European trip working with women and had a glimpse of how big life could be!  I knew that life was so much more than work, bills and being tight on time.  We were done playing this game, especially with money.

We bought a used car for cash and put our financed suv up for sale.  It finally sold in the spring of 2015, we owed more than it sold for and we had to pay the different and take a loss but we wouldn’t change it.  That same time we were down to just around $1500 of debt.  Free of car payments and only a small minimum payment on 1 card left we felt our world start to open up again.  We’d been dreaming of moving out of the house we were in but were upside down in it and couldn’t figure out how to make it happen.  You can read all about that miraculous story here.  From paying down all that debt we were finally almost debt free but we were cash poor.  We knew we had to make that move happen.  In the meantime it built back up over 20k in debt again fixing up the old and new house and all the extras that come with a move. Add in a school trip for Sky to Europe at over $5k and other life that was turned to payments our world turned back into one of frugalness and very strategic spending.  Thank goodness for all the joy and how much we love it here, I admit it made it all worthwhile!

From January of 2015 through Sept of 2016 (21 months) – yes we managed to clear $48,986 in debt.  HOLY MOTHER!!!  I see that and it gives me hope.  We are a family that loves the simple things in life and living out here really made that easier to pull off but it has been anything but easy to make that happen.   We’ve had to say “no” hundreds of times a day to spending.   I’ve laid out all the details of how we saved money and what we did to bring in extra in this blog post for those that want to read all the nitty gritty details.

  1. We set a budget every month.  I can tell you what we spent in each area of our life for any month going back years.  I had to know exactly where all our money was going and then from there decide what to cut and what to allow.  I keep really detailed spreadsheets and I LOVE it, it must balance out my artsy side but I get a complete natural high from doing our finances and calculating all the numbers.
  2. We worked as a team.  The hubby and sat down at least a few times a month and laid out what our goals where we wanted our money to go, saw what was actually being spent, and made adjustments to get the two areas to match.  We stopped reacting to things and became very intentional.  We decided what to keep and what to cut, where to spend and tried to minimize unexpected things anywhere we could by predicting needs and planning ahead.
  3. Our entertainment budget averaged only $20 a month. FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!!  That is pretty much a few redbox rentals and then add up the extra over a few months and it’s a cheap night out.  We saw 1 movie at the theatre as a family and went to 1 county fair as a family in 22 months.  We had tons of bonfires, game nights, movie nights at home and work nights.  Plus we knew that we wanted to pour money towards debt and a couple strategic vacations. (this was not counting our family vacation – where we flew then stayed with a family member)
  4. Our restaurant budget averaged $30/month.  That meant a few drive through trips a month and we saved them for when we really were short on time or energy and savored them, or we’d stock up so we could go out to dinner with family or friends.
  5. We swallowed our pride and embraced a more minimalistic lifestyle.  This was actually the most enjoyable part.  After my mom passed away, it took years of going through her things and sorting through the layers of guilt, grief and the reality of physical space that “stuff” takes up.  Year after year I was able to let go of more of it.  What happens is it becomes a bit addictive when you start to feel empty space around the house.  It’s freeing.  Craiglist, ebay and FB groups became our selling machines.  We sold and donated a TON of stuff.  I let the kids re-sell their clothing they didn’t use anymore and they could keep that money as well.  It became a family mission to live with less stuff and instead enjoy eachother more and free up more time for life.
  6. My husband packed a lunch EVERY DAY for work.  For years he ate these garbage burritos.  Super cheap and filling.
  7. I learned to make my own laundry detergent, toothpaste, from scratch recipes, cleaning supplies and more.  I did this both for cost savings and also for the health aspect of knowing what was in our products.
  8. We cut our cable and only late last year got a Roku.  We got cheap cell phone plans and have scraped by with cheap phones.  (one of my next goals is to get a phone that actually has enough memory where I can have more than 6 pictures and also have instagram, FB, gmail, yahoo and etsy apps all installed at at the same time… seriously)
  9. We sold the financed car mentioned above and knocked out $12k in debt!
  10. A better interest rate on our house meant that we were paying down $400 more a month off principal than we were in the old house. We switched to a 15 year loan and had the same payment we did in our old house where we had a higher interest rate and a 30 year loan.
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To get the kids involved we filled a jar with beans. We used 1 bean for every $10 in debt on our last card to pay off. Here is Aspen counting beans to add to the other jar so he could see that one jar was getting almost empty and that mean we were close to being debt free!

 

Those are just a small sample of all the behind the scenes things we did while no one was looking so that we could be so “lucky”.  We had to consicously decide to not keep up with those around us who were able to go out and eat dinner out multiple times a week or month, drive fancy cars with payments or even get to buy new wardrobes each year.  Whether it was true or not we had to decide 100% that we didn’t EVER want to feel so stressed out about money again.    It’s funny, I can honestly say that over the years the times I had to make decisions based around money and feel the most consumed by thoughts of money are the years where it was the leanest.   This summer was a perfect testament to that.  In contrast to 2012 when our van broke down, we were in a panic we had no money to fix it right then nor did we have money to replace it.  So out we went that weekend and financed a $20k used SUV.   In contrast this summer our car went out, we were able to calmly share a car for a week as we assessed what to do; then we stuck to a $2,000 budget for a new car knowing that we wanted to pay cash for this car and stay out of debt. It was our true test again, our do-over to see if we’ve FINALLY learned our lesson.  2 months later and we are so happy with our decision and have zero buyers remorse.

I don’t share this to brag and I don’t share this because I don’t think people should have nice things.  I share this to offer hope to anyone out there who is feeling hopeless, feeling how I was years back facing 10’s of thousand in debt and feeling like I had no options and full of shame.   I share this to show it is possible to pay off debt and not have car payments.  It is possible to give yourself breathing room instead of living from crisis to crisis.

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I believe life should be about surrounding ourselves with things, experiences and people that genuinely make us feel good.  Living authentically and truthfully.  Living within our financial means so we have breathing room when life hands us a curveball or a friend goes through a hard time and we then have some money to help them with.

When we aren’t paying hundreds (or thousands) in interest and debt payments each month it frees us up to be more in tune with our creativity, our goals, our truest authentic selves.  It leaves money to get select things that truly make us feel good (like art, ahem 🙂 ).  It lets us come out of survival mode and into a part of our being that we didn’t even know was there.  It takes guts and courage to get so honest and real with a spouse about every cent.  Things we think are necessities or secret spending.  It’s taken incredible amounts of self discipline. Mostly though I think it’s taken patience.  Once we decided we were done wanting to live the way we were it wasn’t like we could snap our fingers and actually be done.  No, instead that was just the beginning of years of sacrifice and years of being patient and trusting the process.  Years of feeling like some months there was only a hundred left over to pay towards debt and knowing that better months were to come.  Patience and not giving up.

one of the many days of hanging laundry to dry inside at our old house.

one of the many days of hanging laundry to dry inside at our old house.

Another lesson, other people will spend your money for you unless you learn to consciously control it.  People shamed us, people judged us, people laughed at us, people talked behind our back about our choices, people didn’t take time to ask us our goals but instead assumed we were in a downward spiral.  Looking back I can only imagine what it looked like to people close to us.  Suddenly they hear we are selling the land, camper, atv, trucks, furniture… they must have been scared for us.  Wondering if one of us had a secret addiction or gambling problem.  Wondering why we were giving up all the things we loved.  What they must have thought when we sold our nice 2012 suv and got an older ’02 model with some rust.   This is the lesson we learned in humility and believing in ourselves.  The lesson in making a plan that worked best for OUR family, choosing how OUR money would be spent and then learning to not care what anybody thought.  We learned to know  in our hearts that we were doing what we had to do for the best LONG term well being of our family and put that priority over the short term sacrifices.

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I am also partly sharing this just for my own self to fully grasp it and have it documented to share with our kids so they can understand all the times we said no to things.  Also because it gives me hope, after living so lean for years I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I see a year of intense saving coming up, making up for lost time and creating a buffer  so the hubby can switch jobs and have more free time.  I see hope of more travel, and lets face it… some new bras.  Truthfully though I hope other things don’t change.  I love the feeling of being a team, knowing we are working towards a goal, choosing time together over things and places.  I loved saying no 900 times so that we could budget in a family vacation that we’d savor and never forget.

I’ll be back in a few days with a write up of many of the things we did to make this happen.  We’ve found inspiration in so many others before us who have paid things off.  It’s funny because in theory it doesn’t seem like it should be that big of a deal to not have consumer debt. Maybe that’s why we so easily get into debt, we assume we’ll fall back out of it just as easily as we fell into it.   But the truth is it was really freaking hard just to get to the point where we stopped accumulating more debt.  Our incomes both fluctuate so it was easy to live high during the good times then freak out during the slow seasons.  It’s only when we figured out how to live within the earning of the slowest seasons and then consider the busy times as bonus that things started to change.   Even just giving up cable.  It was years ago now and I in my head was remembering it as no big deal.  However, I recently found a journal of mine and I was journaling through the process of giving up cable.  It was hard!  I was going through withdrawl.  I was missing my shows I loved, I missed my ability to watch things when I wanted (thank you dvr).  I felt completely disconnected from the world.  It took a good month or so I noticed reading back through my entries before I started to really unwind and really enjoy the new quiet space in my life.

Last Saturday night, we put all four of our fingers on the computer mouse and as a family we clicked to make our LAST consumer debt payment!!!!! Then we had an epic hour long dance party.  Singing, dancing and feeling thousands of pounds of pressure being lifted.  Especially for the kids I wanted to make that night a big deal. A celebration, an end of a chapter.  A night they can use to bookmark these past few years as well.  We all gathered round and counted down and did our own private scream, yelling, “3…2…1… We’re DEBT FREEEEEEEEEE!!!”.  It was awesomely nerdy and fantastic and felt amazing.   Next up… savings and house.

I thank you for reading our story.   We are sending out love to all of you and we thank you for all your support over these last few years.  We’re saying cheers to each of you on the same journey and saying prayers for all of us; that we may be able to live with a wisdom beyond our immediate knowing that guides us in love, compassion and joy.

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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 – Pallet fun

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I am amazed at all the awesome things people do with pallets.  I’ve read some incredible blogs about people who have done entire floors of them and they look amazing if done right.  Pinterest is a super fun place to check out more ideas.

When I got my art studio last year I needed a cost effective, fun, artsy table solution. One that didn’t seem intimidating to paint on, drip on and felt like it fit in my studio.

My awesome hubby helped me build a table and shelves. I wanted to share.

You can find free pallets behind buildings; just ask them first.  Almost always they’ve told me to help myself when I’ve asked.  When using pallets also do some research, some are made with toxic coatings, so do an online search and there is plenty of info on what to look for to make sure they’re safe to be in your home.

 

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After I closed the studio I painted the table white so it’s be a bit more neutral:

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I also sell a prints mounted on pallet boards.  It’s been a really fun way to showcase art with a urban/upcycled feel:

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 into this:

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Enjoy!  Happy Creating.

 

Thrifty Thursdays – End Table Makeover

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End Table Makeover

I LOVE to get my hands on ugly furniture and make them over.  Sometimes I do intricate painting on them other times I just need something to match my decor and I know I’ll change it again later.

This is an end table my sweet mother in law gave me, she knew I could find a way to paint it and give it an updated look.  I’m going to be repainting it soon after our home remodel is done but it did it’s job well while being carried around tons by the 3 year old. I intentionally scratched it up a bit when I did it. This gave it a distressed look right away and no one was afraid to use it.  If I was doing a more permanent job on it I would have sanded it well and primed it first before painting.  For what I needed it for just painting it seemed to work just fine.  Enjoy! Do you ever paint paint furniture to match a wall in your house?  Even if it’s a trendy one that you know you’ll be re-painting?  I’d love to hear your makeover stories! Share in the comments below.

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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.

Toy organizer

Just had to share:  A couple years ago I picked up this closet shoe organizer.  For awhile I used it to sort postcards, business cards, etc for my business.  Once I moved to the studio I had enough space to have other shelves for those.  So this shelf ended up in the garage… until yesterday.  When we realized it would be the perfect organizer for my sons growing truck and tractor collection. Viola!

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