Friday, January 29, 2010

Know Thyself

My little girl likes pink--pink clothes, pink crayons, pink bowls for her breakfast. Pink is present in every room of our house. Pink, for us, is simply a part of life. And it is a beautiful part of life.

Sometimes I get frustrated when she won't eat out of a bowl because it is not pink. And sometimes I get impatient when she complains that her clothes don't match because they are not all pink. But one thing I have learned from this persistent little girl is the value of knowing who you are and what you like.

“How shall we learn to know ourselves?” asked the German writer Goethe. “By reflection? Never; but only through action. Strive to do thy duty; then shalt thou know what is in thee.”

This week our girls have both been sick. Yesterday was the first day we did not go to the doctor's office. I have had more to do than usual, or at least that is how it feels, and I am not getting any of it done. Instead I find myself once again learning from these little people, whose care God has entrusted to me.

Bruce D. Porter has said, "It is not only in quiet hours of meditation that we discover ourselves, but also in hours of wearying toil, in service without reward, in smiles that hurt, in hungering, thirsting, striving, and seeking."

I can still hear my mother's voice in my head as she would repeat the words: "Your Father in Heaven knows you. He loves you. He has a plan for you."

Part of knowing myself is knowing this. I am a daughter of God; my beautiful, pink-wrapped daughters are also part of His family; and my life is part of a greater plan. That means I have divine heritage and am surrounded by others who have the same incredible potential.

I may not know what my favorite color is from day to day, but I know myself enough to know that I want to live up to this potential. In the Sermon on the Mount the Savior of the world taught, "Be ye therefore perfect." (Matt 5:48). Of this command, Bruce D. Porter concludes: "To reach that ideal, we must know ourselves, for until we are conscious of our weaknesses, we cannot correct them; until we know our strengths, we cannot use them well."

We are given such simple things to help us remember who we are. I am so grateful for a little girl in pink who helped me remember this today.

What helps you remember?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

My Daughter is 3. When we moved into our new house she wanted a pink room. This is our very first house I will add, and she is 3. It is a color she is going to grow out of! I was not about to spend $25 on a can of pink paint at the store. So I will teach you all a wonderful trick about saving money on your paint.

Every store has a mistinted paint section. It is just a matter of finding it. Lowe's usually has it by the paint counter. Home Depot usually has it right outside of the door of the contractors entrance. It is also sometimes called as-is . Well, Lowe's as-is is where we found her paint. I was not looking for a specific pink. I knew what kinds I did not want, like bright/florescent pink. Just something softer. To paint her room, we spent 10 dollars on paint, one can of as-is pink, and one can of as-is green. It is not my favorite room in the house, but it was for my 3 year old, and she loves it. So if you are not looking for a specific color, check there. Most places will also color match if you need an additional can of the same color. We had to do that with our office paint. It was as-is too, grayish from Fred Meyer. We also used as-is in the kids bathroom. I can of Blue from Walmart. Yeah, our house needed/still needs some painting, and it is painting on the cheep! So go check them out! It can be a gold mine. And check regularly. Some weeks there is nothing and others there is tons! Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Poodle Skirt Tutorial

Here's my first attempt at a tutorial, so please be gentle. :-) This Saturday our church is having a 50's sock hop dance, and what better excuse to dress up the kiddos?? I'll probably come up with something for Hubby and me too, but for now, here's a little bit of cute for you to try if you want. This can be adjusted for girls of any age and's all about the measurements.

**Disclaimer: I have to apologize for the shoddy picture quality. It's a perfect storm of bad indoor lighting, the point-and-shoot being on the fritz, waiting for a new camera, and having to resort to taking still photos with the video camera. Ugh! Better photos to come in the future, I promise!

Step 1: Take measurements, waist and desired length. Typically poodle skirts hit just below the knee. In my case, the waist is 18" and the length is 9".

Step 2: Make your pattern. Take 1/4 of the waist measurement and add that to the length. Here, 1/4 of my baby's waist is 4.5", added to the length gives me 13.5". Now, here's a little geometry. Divide the waist measurement by 6.28 (remember the formula Circumference = Pi(3.14) x 2 x Radius? That's where 6.28 comes from). In my case, the waist (18") divided by 6.28 comes out to 2.866242". I'll round it up to 3" and ease in the fullness later. Use a large piece of paper to draw a "donut." From the center point of your circle, measure out this distance in all directions and draw a circle. From there, measure out the new length (13.5") in all directions and draw a large circle. I just measured a quarter of the circle and sewed 4 sections together so I wouldn't have to buy a big piece of material and have a bunch left over. If you do this, make sure you allow for 1/4" seam allowances.
Step 3: Cut out material. I used black felt so it would be stiff and stand out without having to add tulle to give it body. Plus it doesn't ravel, so I didn't even hem it. Pin pattern piece to fabric and cut out the skirt. Also cut out a strip 3" wide by the waist measurement (again, allow for a seam).
Step 4: Sew skirt sections together. Skip this step if you cut out one big donut shape out of your fabric. If you have 2 or 4 sections, sew them together to create the donut shape. On the right side, while holding the seam flat to one side underneath, top stitch close to the seam to make it lay flat, like this:
so it looks like this on the front:

Here's your donut!

Step 5: Attach the waistband. Sew the ends of the 3" strip together to make a tube and fold in half lengthwise; press. Pin the waistband to the skirt so the raw edges of the waistband match up with the top edge of the skirt. If the top of your skirt is a little bigger than the waistband because you rounded up after figuring out the formula, just ease it in, and it won't be a big deal if there's a tiny little pleat in the back. Stitch all the way around, leaving a 1" opening for elastic.
Step 6: Insert elastic. Cut a 1" piece of elastic to the length of the waist measurement plus 1/2" for the seam. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it through the inside of the waistband through the opening you created in the previous step. Stitch ends of elastic together and hand sew the opening closed.
Step 7: Embellish! What would this little creation be without a cute pink poodle? The one I made isn't elaborate...just a sillouhette of a doggie I drew. I attached it to the skirt using Heat n' Bond, and the leash is a length of tiny pink rick-rack that I sewed on using matching pink thread. The collar is made of a few rhinestones glued on using my favorite fabric basting glue.
Step 8: Make it stay put! If you're making this for a baby, here's a tip that will help keep the skirt in place. I can pretty much predict with certainty that this will ride up to Baby's armpits if I don't do something to keep it put. I took a pair of bloomers from one of her dresses and safety-pinned it to the inside of the skirt. That should do the trick.

There you have it! I hope this makes sense and that it's something you'll want to try. Maybe put it in your back pocket and pull it out to make for Halloween. Let me know how it goes! And, also ask any questions you might have so I can clarify and make future tutorials even better. Thanks for letting me share my project with you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pink Lady

My grandma, Janet Dorothy Wells. 1980-ish.

January is the month of my Grandma Dorothy's birth. This year, she would have been 95. I was looking through old photos recently, and I realized that in almost every photograph and memory I have of her, my grandma is wearing something pink - a brooch, a dress, a necklace, a flower in her hair ... and she was definitely the kind of lady who wore flowers in her hair.

Grandma Dorothy's life always seemed to me to be full of adventure. When her father died, for instance, leaving her mother alone with 10 young children, the family got up in the middle of the night and left New York to avoid being split up by the state authorities. Her mother told them they were going to be gypsies. At least, that's how the story goes. She loved to tell other stories, too, about wearing out her dancing shoes at the Inwood Park Dance Hall in Cincinnati, and how she met my grandfather. In the years before she died, Alzheimer's disease took her back to that dance hall many many times, and her inward world was full of words like "beautiful" and "wonderful." She was one of those women who could get away with calling anyone "Honey."

She was also full of advice. She taught me that "to be beautiful, you must suffer" whenever she had the job of brushing my hair; and to "always keep the ring; it's what you get for your trouble." But my all-time favorite: "Just because you told the boy you'd go to the dance with him, doesn't mean you promised to leave with him."

Grandma also had plenty of sorrow, and she was far from perfect. But she was gracious. Always kind and gentle. She saw beauty in everyone. Truly. In everyone.

And so won't you join me, one day before her birthday month is over, in wearing some pink? In honor of women like Grandma Dorothy. And if there's someone in your life that this post makes you think of, please do leave a comment and share him/her with the rest of us!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweet Pink Day Dreams

I feel like I have been doing a lot of this lately...dreaming instead of doing.  I believe that it's partially my broken sewing machine's fault, partially my budget's fault and the rest is just because I have been so...well...careful with my time I guess.  I don't want to bore you with the details of that right now because today is about my day dreams!  Dreams for valentine's day prettiness, hopes of getting some of my Sadie's scrapbooking done and most importantly day dreaming about a future room I can't wait to make true. 


There...I vented and now I am back. Having a little girl makes for one awesome excuse to use pink.  If I wasn't so obsessed with blue lately and trying to please my pink hating husband I would paint our entire room pink (jk).  It's Sadie's room I can't stop thinking about and I can hardly stand it!  I get butterlies just thinking about it.  This can't be normal.  Anyway...Let me show you what's been floating around in my head, keeping me up at night. I know. I have issues.  Mark reminds me of this every time I end up on the computer late at night searching for that inspiration and motivation to create. 

First I saw this quilt...yum right?

I love these colors...all of them! I love the little scalloped details and the soft look it has to it.  So, I have started to collect fabrics that I thought would be perfect.  I have not found them all yet but I do have a pretty good start just staring back at me as I drool.  I really want to sew!

Here is some of my collection so far. Blues, greens, oranges, but mostly pinks! I was just drawn to the fun pink patterns.

I wanted to do her walls this pretty light aqua blue color with some sort of tree on one of them and then I found this picture and tutorial on how I could do it myself! Crazy huh? Isn't it so cute?  I sound like a teenager talking about an outfit but I really love this idea! 

  I can't wait to try this!  I think I'll add some little pink buds to the tree though.  Have any of you done this sort of thing before?

Then I created this play kitchen for Sadie which some of you have seen on my personal blog.  It has an old vintage feel to it and my hope is to carry on that feel throughout the room without making it feel grandmaish. I love how it turned out.

Today, when I saw this picture my mind began to race...

Wouldn't this be cute on curtains? Not the sweatshirt, of course, but the fun details: the ribbon and the embroidery and the vintage looking flowers. Yikes! I could go nuts thinking about this. I literally get more excited about ribbon and fabric and frilly fun things then I do on my own birthday or for Christmas morning. I might have more serious issues then I thought. Do they have obsessive creative therapy?

Well...that's enough for now. There is more...there always is but I will save it for another time. Pink just has a girly effect on people. It’s funny how this color has such a feminine connotation. I'm just happy I am a girl and I don't have to pretend I don't like it!

Oh!  And there will be a pretty pink chandelier hanging over head.

Baby, Break the Chains of Love

I love paper chains. Oh, how I love paper chains! So when I saw this tutorial on how to make them from fabric, of course I had to make some. And we've made this thankful jar/paper chain idea a holiday tradition.

Our Family Home Evening lesson tonight is based on a mashup of what my kids learned in their Primary and Nursery lessons yesterday: Because I Chose to Follow Jesus Christ, I Will Love Others. As I was putting it together, I came across this:

Image from

And I could feel little explosions going off in my brain and I thought: What a perfect excuse for a paper chain! So I cut out some strips of colored paper, and put them in a jar ...

and every night from now until Valentine's Day, we'll each take a strip of paper and write something we love about someone else in our family. We'll make the chain as we go, so we can see how much it grows every day!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Huckle Buckle Beanstock!

Huckle Buckle Beanstock!

It sounds a bit odd, I know, but this unique phrase may be the solution to saving a little piece of my sanity. Let me explain...

Lately we have had more than the usual struggle to get Sophia to clean up. She will tell me, "No, I'm sorry, but I don't think I want to right now. And I may not ever." Yes, she is three. When she eventually does participate in the cleaning process, she just plays with the toys rather than put them away. My frustrated mommy response is a very stern:  "It is not play time, it is clean-up time!"

And then I think-- Wait, I know this could be fun. She would respond so much better if I made it a game--clean-up time could be playtime, but how?

I know! I know!  Huckle Buckle Beanstock!

This is a game I learned from my Grandma Mac. It is simple, all you need is one small object to hide. It could be anything--a small stuffed animal, a sock, an apple, a hairbrush, even just a piece of paper. One person hides it in a visible place, meaning that it cannot be completely concealed in a drawer or covered by a blanket--it must be at least partly visible and no player should have to move anything to find it. Then all the other players try to find the object. The first person to find it yells, "Huckle Buckle Beanstock!" and then runs to sit on the couch until everyone else has found the object. The person who finds it first then gets to hide the object to start the next round.

You can adapt this for children of all ages by hiding objects of different sizes and difficulty to find. And now, when things look like this...

...all you have to do is hide your object somewhere amid the mess--this time it can be completely hidden because you actually want them to move things while searching--move them and put them away! Explain to your children that if they are the one to discover the item while cleaning, they will get a special treat or reward. Then when they do find it, you can re-hide it and give them opportunities to earn as many rewards as possible. If you want to have lots of rewards, hide it somewhere quick and easy to find. If you want to have only one or a few rewards, hide it somewhere difficult that will be found near the end of the chore. If you are comfortable with sweet treats, the reward can be a Hershey Kiss or something they can munch on while they continue to clean--this will help them continue cleaning if they are young and need immediate and effective rewards. If you have older children and want them to earn other rewards--TV, movie, video game or computer time (we call them "media points")--then the reward can be something gained later, an extra five or ten minutes for a special activity.  

We tried this tonight. The result was enthusiasm for cleaning and participation with the family in the task at hand. It was completed quickly because of the race to find the object, and clean-up time became playtime. Playtime was a much more peaceful family time, and we all got a treat in the end.

Thanks, Grandma!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thoughts on Organization

photo found here

If you're having trouble getting your thoughts organized and keeping your new year resolutions in focus, head on over to Steady Mom and read my post for January. I hope you like it!

A Weekly Game I Play

No, it is not the Lotto, but it is similar, without as much gambling. I am a weekly ad junky. I love Tuesday's. That is when I get the ad's in the mail, unless there is a holiday like this week, so I got them on Wednesday. I love a good bargain. I love saving money. It allows me to splurge every once in a while on the things I want either for me, the house, the kids, the Hubbie, etc.

Here are a few things I am excited about this week.

80/20 Ground Beef for $0.99/lb
on Saturday and Sunday they have Goldfish Crackers for $0.88 (that is the steal of the week)

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts for 1.88/lb
Green Bell Peppers $0.69/each

Rite Aid (not a grocery store I know, but I could not resist)
Mott's Applesauce, 24 oz, $0.99/jar

OK, so I know this is not a huge list, but these are the best deals regardless if you use coupons. Now, I use coupons as well, and there are other deals, but that is a whole different topic and there are blogs devoted to it, so I am not going to even go there right now. If you are terrified of the coupon thing or it is just not for you, and even if you are using coupons, here are some tips on saving money while shopping the ads.

1) Read the front and back first. Those are the loss leaders. The ones that they are using to just get you into the store and there profit is slim to none. Usually the best deals are on the front and back.

2) Circle what you are interested in with a bold pen or marker so you remember what you were going to get when you come back to your ads.

3) If you are just starting, get a notebook. In that notebook write all your staples that you use regularly or even your splurges. Every week write down the cost so you learn what the lowest price is. Like meat for example. I don't buy meat unless it is under $1.88/lb.

4) Don't be afraid to go to multiple stores. Some things are cheaper at others while others are more expensive.

5) Make a list before you go that has the item, item size if listed and the price listed on it so you know you are getting the right product.

6) Enjoy yourself. It is not something to stress about.

I grew up going to the grocery store with my dad. It was something we did together. I did not go on many dates in high school. I can count them on one hand. So as my friends were on dates, I spent Friday evenings on a date with my dad at the grocery store. It started out as a Saturday morning thing as a kid. I loved it. That time spent with him has taught me countless things about saving money, couponing, and budgeting. So enjoy it, and enjoy it with your kids. I know it can be hard. I have 2 of my own and it is not always pleasant. But learn the tricks of the store. For instance Fred Meyers has free kid cookies as well as they have a supervised area for my three year old so I can shop without her for an hour. It is great.

It really can be fun.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Play Joyfully!

Here's a nifty little game that's easy to play and simple to make as a fun housewarming or Christmas gift. My sister made it for us for Christmas and it's called the Joy Game. She made it with little wooden blocks found at the craft store and wrote on them with a Sharpie marker. There are ten sets of three dice, making it playable for up to 10 players. Each die has two of each of the letters J, O and Y. You'll need a bag of your favorite individually-wrapped candies. Then she put it in a cute little tin and included a paper with the game rules:

Players kneel in a circle or sit around a table. Each player is given three joy "dice." Place several pieces of candy on the floor or table. Time the length of play for about three minutes. When the clock starts running, players start rolling their dice. Every time they spell the word JOY on a roll, they may grab a piece of candy from the center. After the candy is gone from the center, players take them from each other. When the time is up, whoever has candy gets to keep it! (Or you can put it back in the center, play a few more rounds, and THEN keep the candy.)

No hiding the can dy to protect it during the game. For added craziness, it's fun to add one or two "special" pieces of candy.

This would be fun as a family night game...easy for all ages to play. It doesn't take a lot of time to set up or to play. You could also make the dice with adhesive scrapbook letters, or you could use other three-letter words besides JOY, like FUN, TOY, WIN, etc. or if you have a three-letter last name. We played it at Christmas with a bag of Hershey kisses and a couple of *extra* yummy candies, and it was a fun grab fest!!

Here's to playing joyfully!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Driving in the Rain

Illustration by Andrew DeWitt found here

Instead of staying indoors while it rained last week--all week--I went shopping. Not window shopping or clothes shopping or grocery shopping. This was more like a search and destroy mission: it was "Operation Family Car."

the goal: save money--reduce monthly payments, reduce fuel costs, reduce overall travel expenses.
the parameters: something smaller, something safe, something comfortable, something simple.
the troops: a sassy three-year-old, an energetic one-year-old, a patient and intelligent accountant, and me, the determined mother and budget enforcer
the battle grounds: rainy, greater Seattle car dealerships
the enemy: unnecessary expenses

I was determined to find what I was looking for and at the price I wanted--even if it destroyed my sanity.

There was one moment, as our long day was approaching the girls' bedtime, we were transferring car seats from one car to the next and standing under a steady rainfall,  when the sassy three-year-old first choked on a hard candy and then repeatedly threw up. The kind car salesman stood holding an umbrella over us, and remarkably still let us drive away in his leather interior hybrid car without any indication of concern for the possible replacement of  new car scent for the stench of fresh vomit. Yeah, that could have been the end of our search. But we persevered and came out conquerors.  

It only took two more days of searching, test driving, bargaining, debating, and number crunching to complete our mission and bring home a new family car. It meets the goal, it meets all the parameters, it gains the approval of all my comrades, and the enemy was destroyed, humanely and honorably.

I am happy. My budget is happy. And my sanity is in tact.
Rain or shine, car shopping is not easy. But it's worth it.

Reader's Choice

Would you like to tell us what to write about?

When we created this blog, we knew we wanted to share the fun and meaningful parts of our lives, but we also knew that we would need to have some structure and direction for our posts. So we came up with a schedule of topics, or prompts--one per week--to help us each tap into the inspiration that keeps us writing.
Now we want to hear from you.
What topics would you like to hear about from us?
You may have been able to pick up on some of our topics so far...
rainy days
We all take a pretty different approach perspective for each topic, and it's fun to see how it inspires each of you.
So, leave a comment on this post to let us know what you'd like to hear about. Give us one, two, three--as many suggestions as you like.

Oh, and thanks for reading.

Games Without Frontiers*

Before we got married, Robert and I had already been living away from our parents for years. So we didn't really need anything in order to start our household together. Thus, when people asked us what we wanted, we said, "Games."

Seven and a half years later, here are some of our favorites to play as a family. (Royal Rescue is more of a one-person logic game, but it's definitely awesome. Especially when our 4-year-old daughter really gets into solving the puzzles - amazing to watch their little brains work!)

And here is one for the adults. Especially if you're a geek (which we are). But it's also fun if you're not!

How about you? What are your favorite games?

*Quick! Who sings that song? Bonus points if you can get it right without peeking!

If your thoughts are with the people of Haiti...

And you're wondering what you can do to help the people there then go check out Craft Hope for Haiti Etsy Shop. Their website talks about the purpose behind this organization and how we can help. Read what they have written on their website.  It's amazing how thoughtful and generous people can be. You can make something pretty to donate to the shop or just go find a treasure for yourself and know that your money is headed some place special

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Myself

I love the rain.  We moved to Washington so that I could jump in puddles.  Well not really, but that is one of the reasons we adore this place.  Something happened last week though and I think I may understand why a rainy day is usually associated with some negative feelings.

The plan was to take the idea of this cute print and turn it into something of my own...a little scrappy paper and fabric with some ribbon and maybe a little bit of embroidery... but ironically I found myself having to think about this quote just to get me through this dreary last week instead of getting to create what I had in my head and appreciating inspiration.

Nothing really bad happened...just a billion things didn't. I, no matter how hard I tried to switch my thoughts, couldn't do what I needed to do. My poor kids didn't get any fun rainy day activities and I didn't enjoy a good book or make anything fun. It was pathetic and totally my fault!

A toilet takes 5 minutes to clean and I opted out of that one for 6 days. I think I still have a wet load of laundry in the washer from 3 days ago which I will now have to rewash again just to get the stinkiness of wet out. I also have a week of being grumpy to my kids to make up for and the stickiest floor on earth to clean. I usually do pretty well when it rains but this time the drips just kept on coming  and I could feel myself slowly transforming into a lazy mess. And for those who know me best know that when I don't get things done during the day I tend to give myself a really hard time thus letting all that grouchy goodness spread to my family. I am not proud of last week. I will admit that.

So the plan for today is to really be grateful for this day no matter the rain or piles of makeup work I need to get done. I also hope to get to my project. That alone will help me get back to my normal self...but first the laundry.

* Wait!  I just noticed something...the sun is up now and the sky is blue!  Go figure!  Today will be easy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rainy Day Soup

So, it has been rainy here in Seattle. Really, I know we have a reputation for that, but in the two and a half years I have lived here I have not experienced the rainy day blues this bad till now. I am the biggest lazy bum. So to go with that, I will post a delicious recipe for some soup. It is an easy, lazy soup. Not too much fuss. It is from a cookbook I got from my mother-in-law. With a few modifications it has easily become one of our favorites. It is the "Gravy Bend" cookbook. It is a compilation of recipes from people in her community. So since you will be unable to get it from a store I will post some of my favorite recipes here on occasion. We ran across this one a few months ago and boy was it a find. So with out further adu, here it is.

Nacho Potato Soup
from Myrlann Clement, modified by me.

4 or so potatoes diced (more or less depending on how hearty you like your soup)
1 can drained corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes or diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Milk
4 oz of Velveeta Cheese or 2 cups cubed Velveeta cheese

In a pan combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and water. Mix well. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer till potatoes are tender

Add milk and cheese and stir till cheese is melted.

That is it. Easy peasy! Enjoy! Serve with some Rhodes rolls, or have someone pick up some bread at the store if you don't want to go through the trouble of making rolls. It is delicious!

Saving for a Rainy Day

A couple of years ago my sister-in-law gave us this book for Christmas, not because she thought we needed it, but because she found some invaluable nuggets to implement in her own household. I decided to crack it open and, sure enough, my eyes were opened to better ways to save money.

I consider us conservative spenders in our family. It's easy for us to have buyers' remorse, so when we make big purchases, we make sure we 1)really need it, 2)really love it and will keep it for a long time, and 3)can pay for it.

Money is a taboo subject to talk about. In fact, it has been shown that parents are more comfortable talking with their children about sex than about money. I thank my parents for their frugality during my upbringing. I remember, as a girl, we were doing a little shopping and I really wanted this pair of new shoes. Mom said, "We don't have money for that right now." And I said, "That's OK. Just write a check!" I've learned lessons the easy way (listening to valuable advice) and the hard way (selling my plasma in college because I was broke and too proud to ask for help). "It is human nature to want it and want it now; it is also a sign of immaturity. Being willing to delay pleasure for a greater result is a sign of maturity."

This book is targeted toward high-debt, desperate, on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy consumers, but it's a useful reminder for anyone trying to improve and add padding to their nest. Briefly, there are 6 baby steps to achieve financial fitness, IN ORDER:

  1. Save $1,000 cash as a starter emergency fund. Ramsey: "It is going to rain. You need a rainy-day fund. You need an happens, so be ready. This is not a surprise. You need an emergency fund, an old-fashioned Grandma's rainy-day fund...Now, obviously, $1,000 isn't going to catch all [the] big things, but it will catch the little ones until the emergency fund is fully funded."
  2. Start the debt snowball. Make a list of all your debt, starting with the smallest. Once you pay off the first one, even if it's a $59 phone bill, add that payment plus any extra to the next debt until it is paid off. You will feel empowered and the snowball will grow and grow until you are debt free.
  3. Finish the emergency fund. Add to the original $1,000 to cover 3-6 months of expenses should anything unfortunate happen that cuts off your monthly income.
  4. Invest 15 percent of your income in retirement. We've taken this advice, and although we have less expendable for "fun things," I know we'll be glad when it comes time to retire. Ramsey's motto is on the bottom of each page of the book: "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else."
  5. Save for college. Ramsey gives numerous options for saving for this inevitible expense in most families. There is a reason to do this after saving for retirement. A trusted financial advisor once told me that your kids will forgive you (eventually) if they have to pay for some of their college, but they won't be very happy about bailing you, their parents, out when you're old and out of money. Blunt, but I see the point. Just like on an airplane, put your oxygen on yourself before you help your children with theirs.
  6. Pay off your home mortgage. This seems far away for many of us homeowners, but if you do all of the other baby steps first, you should have the means to chop your years of commitment to your house payment in half and save nearly $100,000 in interest just by paying a couple hundred more dollars a month.

So, there you have it. We are by no means rich, except in blessings. :-) We are "living like no one else" because we pass up purchases that would probably make us more popular by the world's standards. But I have faith that because of our sacrifices, we will be blessed with the things we need and occasionally the things we want.

Here's to prosperity and a fiscally healthy and happy life to you! Oh, and I'd love to know some of your strategies for fiscal fitness!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A-hem! A Story of a Girl and Her Jeans

Once upon a time, I bought these jeans that I love. For, like $10 at our local consignment shop. I would wear them every day if I could. There was just this one little problem - they were way too long. They were so long that I'd step on the cuffs even when I wore them with heels. But hey, do you like how I said *were*? Yep, that's because I found this really great way to hem jeans. Specifically, I found it here and here and here. So not really a unique way of doing it at all, but for short little me this was a revelation!

I wish I had a "before" shot, and I wish that we had another full-length mirror in the house besides the one in the kids' dress-up corner. But can you see where I messed up? No? That's because this hemming method is so easy and pretty much foolproof. I'll never roll up my jeans again - hurrah! And we all lived happily ever after. The End.