Thursday, January 2, 2014

The DH and I have been talking more and more about what we could do to make my little dream of living on a piece of land a reality. We are considering everything from trailer homesteading to log cabin kits to straw bale geodesic domes and all kinds of other things. All our ideas are focused on ways we could achieve this without a mortgage or 150k in savings.

I know its nutty, but I find myself thinking that if only we could find a way to eliminate the money we pour into rent each month, we could afford to live on considerably less and be able to achieve financial independence a lot earlier. Reducing our monthly expenses would free us up to spend more time focused on whats important in life like family. Like our daughter.

Obviously there are costs associated with home ownership. We are not naive to that. The difference would be that any maintenance and improvements done to our own property would be an investment rather than a temporary solution to a long term need.

In the past when I have talked about this idea with people they have shot me down and pointed out all the flaws and expenses associated with such a plan. It kinda left me feeling like it would always be a pipe dream but in the last few weeks I have found bloggers, forums and books dedicated to the very topic of living without a mortgage and becoming financially independent. Its really neat to lurk on those sites and start building ideas. Its neat to not hear that Im crazy and it can never happen.

I dont know. It still might never happen for me. But a girl can dream. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Filling my days with daydreams of simplicity...

My newborn is of the verity that likes to nurse once an hour and cries when we set her down. So I spend a lot of time confined to bed or the table. I have a couple different carriers that I can wear her in but its still tricky because she doesn't have enough head and neck control to nurse that way yet.

So, while I nurse her I surf the web and daydream. I like to dream about downsizing. My husband and I live in a small rental apartment house. Its bigger than the tiny home I grew up in with a mom, dad, three siblings, four cats and countless short term guests. So of course, I always think about how we could make do with so much less space.

The tiny little casita I grew up in with my family, it was just 750 square feet.

I won't lie, part of the reason a downsize appeals to me is the idea of a reduction in rental expenses. We live in a state with some of the highest cost of living in the country and housing here is just insane. With my husband still in school and me working only part time, our income is very tight. About half of what comes in is spent on rent alone. But the fact of the matter is, unless we are willing to move into a crappy apartment in a dangerous part of town with crazy slumlords landlords, we cant actually find a cheaper place to rent. This scenario combined with my love of simplicity, eco-sustainability, tightwad habits and adventure and I find myself day dreaming about how to live rent free in ways most people would cringe at.

I like the idea of living in an RV and moving from free state campsites to campsite every few days. That might be fun. But even more than that I love the idea of buying a small plot of land and living in a yurt, camper or tumbleweed home off the grid while we build our own earth sheltered dwelling place. In my mind, we magically inherit $15,000 that buys a little plot in the town we currently live in. I find and renovate one of the motor homes I see offered on Craigslist for 0-1,000 and we save the nearly 12,000 a year we put into our rental  to build the Dream Home.

Wouldn't a yurt like this be dreamy?

In a rare act of indulging my whimsy, my husband accompanied my to a plot of land down a quiet country road in our town today. As I stood in the over-grown lot with him in the rain, gazing at the beautiful burnt out shell of a house on a hillside too steep to do much of anything but raise goats, a spark of hope was kindled in me. I see it all-- the earth sheltered house, the passive solar heating, the chicken coop and dairy goat pens, the clothesline filled with cloth diapers, the children running around in the enormous vegetable garden.... I can almost hear the crackling of the wood in our homemade rocket-stove and the creaking of our wind turbine.

The actual property we looked at today.

Yeah, I know its not realistic- I could write a book on reasons it wouldn't work. For starters, my husband would be miserable. He hates the idea of rustic and small- the combination would surely kill him. He would never be on board with living out of a "tent"- as he calls Yurts. Never mind the fact that we are both so busy with work and school that we would never have time to put the work into it that we would need to make it happen. Not to mention neither of us know a thing about building a home or setting up off grid capabilities to a camper.

But....I still cant help but dream.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween and a DIY Baby Roo Costume.

Happy Halloween! Today is my baby's first holiday, and what a fun one Halloween is! As far back as I can remember I have enjoyed making costumes- for play, for renaissance fairs and for the church harvest festival. I mean, combining crafting and make believe play? It doesnt get better than that!

This year I wanted to make the baby a costume. I wanted to dress her up as Roo from Winnie the Pooh but I knew I wouldnt have time to sew an outfit from scratch. So I went to the children's consignment show looking for a brown sleeper suit and found one that looked like a monkey. I knew it would do perfectly. Heres the baby modeling the before shot of the costume, unaltered.

And another shot of the monkey sleeper jammies. The Jammies are a size 6 months and my little miss is just barely out of the newborn size clothes. So this is pretty big on her but since she cant walk and trip in it i figured it was fine. ;) These jammies cost $4.99.

Next, I had to find a blue shirt since Roo wears a blue, long sleeved turtle neck. I was lucky to find EXACTLY that although I would have been content with a plain blue t-shirt. The shirt was $.99 at the thrift store.Surprisingly finding a blain blue shirt of any kinda was tricky. I looked for a few weeks before I found this one. Its a size 24 months.

Finally, I needed some felt to make the ears ,tail and to make letters to put Roo's name on the shirt. I used 4 sheets and each one cost just .33 cents. I got two browns, a pink and a white.

So first I put the t-shirt over the jammies. I considered cutting the shirt down the middle from bottom to top adn stitching it to the jammies to make it easier to put on and take off, but since Im a tight-wad, I didn't want to ruin the shirt. Also because the shirt and jammies were so large, I felt confident I could get the baby in and out easily enough.

I folded the bottom of the shirt up and basted the hem in place. Again, I didnt want to cut it or put real hems in it that would ruin the shirt. I also rolled up the sleeves.

Next, I drew the letters on to the back of the felt material. You have to make the R backwards if you want to be sure not to have pen marks on the front of the letters that would show up on the shirt. I just free-handed these letters but you could use a stencil too. I cut those out and basted them in place.

For the ears I made a stencil out of an old cereal box and traced it on the pink. Then I cut them out and used them as a guide to make the same shape on the brown. I wanted the brown just a little larger than the pink so it would show in the front. At first, I tried to glue the front and back together. That didnt work so I ended up sewing it really quickly on my sewing machine. I only went around the edge ot the side of the eats, leaving the bottom open. I then was able to stuff the monkey ears into these Roo ears and safety pin them in place. Sewing them in place would have been a nicer option but I was doing "quick crafting" as my baby doesnt like to let me do much besides nurse her.

Finally, I free-handed a tail to cover the monkey tail on the costume. I made it out of the brown felt and then sewed around the edge except for the base which I left open in order to stuff the monkey tail inside. I safety pinned it in place. Then I gathered a couple inches of fabric on the monkey PJs and safety pinned them. This gathered bit makes the jammies fit my baby better and also gives the illusion of a Roo's legs which are shorter in the back than in the front.

And Tada! We are done!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I don't get the chalkboard-paint-on-everything fad.

I mean, i just don't. Why does everything need to be written/drawn on? Okay, nice chalkboard signs and placards, tags, ONE wall in a room, table tops and even cups, I get it. But why does it have to be on all.the.things??? 

I've seen chalk board paint:
  • covering whole rooms
  • on earrings---so you can draw on your earring to match your outfit?
  • on baby bibs
  • on Christmas tree ornaments
  • covering whole refrigerators
  • covering a chest of drawers/dresser
  • on Easter eggs in lieu of dye
  • As fancy wall art
  • On pumpkins

Now, I love to doodle as much as the next gal. But this really doesnt make sense to me. I mean, chalkboard paint is usually black (but of course we have all seen the pinterest pin about how to make any paint into chalkboard paint) so its dark and not suited to cover walls in huge rooms and its very unforgiving of that nasty chalk dust that always covers the surface. 

Also, if its regularly written/drawn on then it will usually feature sloppy handwriting and scribbles and half-erased messages and CHALK DUST! At this point it ceases to be an art piece and just becomes and eyesore. And if its NOT drawn on but is meant to feature a permanent word, design or image, why do it in chalk which wipes away so easily?? 

I just think this trend is bizarre and outta control. Chalkboard paint, like all things is much better enjoyed in moderation.

No offense to people who have chalkboard paint covered houses. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baby Is Here

My baby was born a little over seven weeks ago- on August 22nd. A beautiful little girl. Still trying to decide what to call her here in the blog world. I'll have to write about her birth some time. Ive been putting it off but it needs to be done.

She weighed a little over 7lbs and was 19 inches long.
We are settling in nicely. Shes a pretty mellow baby. Only cries when shes hungry. She nurses great, sometimes all day and all night long. Hehe. And she is growing so fast! She was up to 9lbs 2 3 ounces last Thursday.

Im really, really in love.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Prepping for Baby

Well, Im 37.5 weeks along. This means my baby could arrive at any moment. But statistically, it will be another 2.5 to about 4 .5 weeks. So, we shall see what happens. Im just relieved to be to that 37 week mark where the baby can be born and NOT be considered premature.

Anyways, nesting instinct. Wowzers is it strong! I feel like I need everything in the house to be PERFECT. Im decluttering, rearranging, decorating, organizing, etc. Its often that my drive to get stuff done outlasts my physical stamina to accomplish it right now and that's a little frustrating. Im trying to be conscious of my body and not overly tax it because- since I could go into labor any day, I feel its wise not to get down to zero energy. Ill need energy to birth my baby after all. 

Im also cooking up a storm. I have lots of freezer meals prepped and I have got to rearrange my freezer now to see if I can fit any more. I'm kinda out of space. We just have a small freezer above our refrigerator, not a stand alone freezer, so that does limit me. But I'm glad to have in there what I do. We eat vegan so I have; lentil loaves and mashed potatoes, bean chili (and need to make the cornbread,) a dozen beans and rice burritos, casseroles of veggies and black bean enchiladas and guacamole, one meal of macaroni and yellow sauce, waffles, pancakes, and banana bran bread. I still have to make a few pizzas and pot pies, minimally, 'cus I already have the crusts in the freezer and even if I am out of room those can at least be filled/topped. But there are several other things I want to make. I think all the food I have listed will feel us for a little over a week and a half. And I know some of my friends are planning to give me freezer meals at my Blessing way this weekend- so I need to be sure to have room for those too. :) 

My dad is coming down this Sunday. It will be nice to see him and his wife He's bringing me a cradle he made for the baby. He made me a cradle for my dolls when I was a small girl and its so sweet that he now made one for this little baby. 

Life is good!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Well, I'm 36 weeks and two days pregnant. I got to enjoy my baby shower this past weekend with some very sweet ladies from my church. We really have just about all we need at this point and what we have not received, I will be picking up soon using the gift cards we got. I am immensely grateful. :) And Im very much looking forward to my blessingway that my hippie friends are planning for the second weekend in August. Yay, henna belly!!

I have been off work since the 8th of this month, kinda unexpectedly. Too much to go into here, but everyone is fine and its not related to my pregnancy. Weekend before last, I took my friends three children camping. I went with another couple of friends and their kids and a few more friends. Hehe. I was lucky my husband made it too because of a lucky gap before he started his new job. All told, we had 20 people at our camp location- 12 of whom were kids (okay, okay, including my yet-to-be-born baby!) It was a ton of fun. Of course a lot of people thought I was crazy to go camping at 35 weeks pregnant, and to bring kids along no less, but it was something I VERY MUCH wanted to do and I feel so lucky it worked out! We stayed two nights, three days. It was perfect time-wise. There was a heat wave but we had a fabulous lake to swim in and I also brought a fan along. Haha. Ummm, other creature comforts I had included an air mattress. My husband prefers them for camping and I think its silly but this time I wasn't arguing!!  There were so many grown ups around, each in charge of their own set of kids that the childcare part went really easy for me. I kinda helped with meals, Kept eyes out for the kids and relaxed. Im hoping to go again next year--yes, with a baby in tow!

Lately, I have been keeping very, very busy preparing for this lil bubs arrival. This includes purchasing things we have been putting off, setting things up, cleaning the house to within an inch of its life, grooming the dogs (trying to minimize shedding fur!!) lining up care for the dogs, prepping freezer meals for after babies arrival, organizing the house, rearranging the house, making sure things are straight with my insurance, making my labor playlist (downloading a million CDs to do so,) and buying and gathering all the supplies necessary to have a successful home birth per my midwives list. Sigh....Oh, no wonder if feels like Im so busy. Looking at that list I see I really am quite busy. I have to actively remind myself to slooooowdown.

I've been getting a lot of contractions lately. Not the Braxton Hicks contractions I was getting earlier. More like "real contractions," supposedly. They are not ramping up so I don't think it means labor is eminent. I just need this kid to hang out 'till Sunday at the soonest because the Midwives cant deliver at home before week 37! Of course, it would be nice if Im able to get in and to the legal change of name before the baby comes...Umm, I still havent legally switched over to my married name. Opps.

Okay, I'll leave you with some of my favorite photos from my mini maternity session my sister and I shot on Sunday. Isnt she a talented photographer for just a hobbyist?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First private sale!

Well, I made my first PRIVATE sale. :) I sold a paperback book that I picked up for free for $1.75, customer paid for shipping but I lost a little by having to purchase a mailer at full price ( I have a bunch of wholesale priced envelopes on order so that expense will be minimized) I also had the sales when all is said and done, I think I made something like $1.50-$1.60 on the sale?

I do know that's not much but it was exciting to me. From what I understand, if I can manage to make a bunch of small sales on eBay or Half, I will build up my reputation and people will be more likely to make bigger purchases form me. We shall see, I guess.

Im still planning to sell a few books directly to book retailers. I *know* I'm losing out on the opportunity to make more money by selling them myself, but its a guaranteed sale, so for the time being I think it might be a good idea. I guess time will tell.

I think the main things holding me back right now are technology!! My camera is on the fritz. It works sometimes, it doesn't work other times. It never focuses in micro, it hardly focuses on in auto. Its just a mess. When I do manage to get photos of the merchandise to post, the eBay photo upload process causes my crappy little netbook to crash. Grrr. So, I still only have one thing currently listed for buyers to see on eBay! Thats very frustrating to me. I cant make sales if nothing is listed. My mother-in-law wants to send us her old digital point and shoot. My (home health) client has a similar one which I have used, and it might work. Those don't do great for detail but its heaps better than the camera we have now. Im also gonna try uploading the pictures via my husbands computer though, once hes not so slammed with summer school finals.

I do have a couple dozen books listed on and a few books on Still have stuff on etsy too. But Im expecting my primary money maker will be eBay, so the fact that Im not able to use that resource now? Not good.

Remind me later to take some photos of my inventory storage set up and to tell that story. I love organizing. LOL.

Okay, now for pregnancy news.
How far along? 30 weeks
Total weight gain/loss: Not really sure where I am...
Maternity clothes? Yup, have been since about 10 weeks! Maybe earlier?.
Stretch marks? None so far, but I envision them coming soon, I FEEL so stretched!
Best moment this week: Kinda  a rough week, with more than one day of working a 12 hour shift, so I guess my best moment was making that sale. Yeah, that puny little dollar sixty profit gave me a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe one day I will be able to work from home and not be killing myself working for other people while my own house is sitting a disaster zone.
Have you told family and friends: Everyone. ;)
Miss Anything? My energy?
Movement: Lots and lots. Its almost constant.
Food cravings: ehh, maybe still sweets a bit?
Anything making you queasy or sick: The heat
Have you started to show yet: Still am
Gender: No clue
Names: Still no boy name, girl name is a secret...kinda
Labor Signs: No, but lots of Brackston-Hicks(sp?) contractions
Belly Button in or out? outie, been an outie since about 14ish weeks?
Wedding rings on or off? On, for the most part. I have to take them off sometimes and Ive had to remove my other ring I wear and my watch due to swelling.
Happy or Moody most of the time: A little moody, especially when its hot and Im working like a slave ;)
Looking forward to: Making sales on eBay. LOL, yeah, I'm a loser. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Foray into the World of Online Sales

29 weeks along today! It would be reasonable to expect this little on to arrive in 8-13 weeks from now. Eek! That's soon. We most likely have about 11 weeks, but's so soon!

So, with the baby's imminent arrival, I have been thinking a lot about what life will look like after its arrival. Before my morning sickness got very bad, I was working three days a week for pretty good pay. I have not been able to get back up to those three days a week yet and probably wont until the November! I've been really considering how to work more from home and have been beginning to experiment with that.

I have a lot of skills that would lend well to certain businesses but unfortunately my rental agreement forbids running a business out of the home so that severely limits me. So I've had to get...well, actually less creative, more typical. id love to have a vegan food service or even a homeschool tutoring service for parents who work during the day, but I cant do those things. I am allowed to have an internet based business, though. Anyways, it started off that I sold a bunch of textbooks that were laying around the house to some online retailers. And then I got the idea of buying books to sell. And I've been doing that and having some real success. I've made a couple hundred within two weeks. I bought a smart phone to use some of the apps to make it easier to buy only books that sell well and that has already helped. And I'm researching a TON!! Thankfully there are a lot of blogs and articles about selling things online. There's a lot to learn. I've made a couple mistakes, thankfully only one that has actually cost us any money (40 bucks, eek!)

Now, I have rummaged through the house and found several items that I think I can sell on Etsy and Ebay in addition to the books that Ill continue trying to sell to online retailers. On Etsy I can sell some of the hand made goods I've made ( I'm pretty crafty) as well as a few "vintage" things that I either already had or bought very inexpensively. Oh, and I can sell some of my art supplies too. I need to purge that stuff anyways.

On Ebay, right now my goal is simply to learn how it works and make enough to at least break even and maybe only earn a couple bucks while I learn the system, fees, what sells, etc. I'm not risking much because I already have the stuff I'm selling. Once i have a better idea of how it works, I'd love to eventually expand that. I know of a few people who consistently make a few hundred dollars every week. Some people online who make a few thousand every month, which would be like a full-time job.

There are calculators for both Etsy and Ebay that include the PayPal fees and can help me figure out what the minimum price I need to set for each item is. If the item doesn't sell, I also know how much I have to pay to have the item listed (about 30 cents each.) So that's a tool that will really help.

Anyways....The other things I'm looking at is a company called Leapsource. They are a trusted company that hires at home workers to help improve search engines. The pay is about 13 an hour and Id only *have* to put in about 20 hours per month but could put in more as time (and sanity!) allowed. There's a testing process to get in there and I've known a few people who have not been able to get past that. Leapforce also prefers people with bachelors degrees and so far, I only have an Associates. We shall see.....I'm also sure I would want to stab my eyes out from boredom with that sort of work but you gotta do what you gotta do.

And finally, Ive been getting paid to take surveys. I've made a whopping 10 bucks for a few hours worth of filling out surveys. What bothers me most about it is that there are so many surveys I start and take for about 10 minuets before it tells me that either I don't qualify or they have reached their quota of participants and I dont get paid for my time. Its a waste of time. However, when  I have a couple free minutes, I do find myself clicking away answering survey questions. I guess if I can even earn enough in my spare moments to fill the gas tank once thats not a terrible thing, but in no way will it ever be a significant way to make money.

So, Im having a ton of fun with online sales and praying that will take off, but if not, I do have two other, more boring options to look into....Let see how this goes!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How far along? 27 Weeks!

How far along? 27 Weeks!
Total weight gain/loss: First I lost about 7% of my prepregnancy body weight from the Hyperemesis gravidarum, now I have gained that back and am finally at about 12 lbs over my prepregnancy weight! Wohoo!
Maternity clothes? Yup, have been since about 10 weeks! Maybe earlier?.
Stretch marks? None so far
Best moment this week: It wasnt a moment, really, but Ive had a good week. Lots of progress made around the house and lots of good prepping for the baby...and some nice conversation meeting up with a friend for coffee
Have you told family and friends: Yes, we told everyone right away this time, even on FB. With the last pregnancy our close friends knew, our families knew and our church knew. But we had not made the announcement public yet when we found out we'd lost the baby at 10.5 weeks. Everyone's support when we lost that baby was just so helpful. This time we announced to everyone within about two weeks of finding out because we decided we wanted everyone to celebrate with us, for as long as we had the little one to love.
Miss Anything? Im not a big drinker, but Im surprised Ive been missing alcohol! LOL! I also miss sleeping on my stomach.
Movement: Tons! The baby was kicking up a storm in church this morning, we could actually see it through my shirt. :)
Food cravings: Beginning to crave sweet foods, before this it has mostly been spicy foods.
Anything making you queasy or sick: After the hyperemeis, where everything made me sick all the time, I am surprised Im mostly okay. Every now and then certain smells make me gag, and the other day in a store I heard a small child retching and I almost vomited in the aisle! Im still on my anti-nausea med and if I skip doses of that I do get sick and throw up again.
Have you started to show yet: Oh big time. People think Im having multiples. Been showing since 8 weeks.
Gender: We are not doing ultrasounds* so we dont know and I dont have any guesses.
Names: We Think we have settled on a girls name. Boys names are giving us a lot more trouble!
Labor Signs: NO!! Eeek, what a scary thought!
Belly Button in or out? outie, been an outie since about 14ish weeks?
Wedding rings on or off? On
Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy and productive, if not a little anxious.
Looking forward to: meeting this baby!!!

*although we did not want any ultrasounds, we did have two very very fast ones on two of my ER trips (I was in the ER every few days because of the hyperemsis) Total, our baby was probably only exposed to the ultrasound for 5 minutes. Just enough time to see a heartbeat, that there is only ONE baby and at the last one (at 10.5 weeks) to see the most adorable profile and wiggling around. *inlove* Unfortunately we dont have a picture from the ultrasound because it was performed on the little portable machine, but it was still neat to see. :)

Okay, so...Im about to start trimester three. According to some Tri three starts at 27 weeks and according to others it doesnt start until 28 weeks. *shrugs* whatever. Its so hard to believe that Im already basically done with my second trimester. It felt so short!! I think that is because I was sick in bed until about week 18, so I tend to lump that time in with the first trimester, making my second seem like its only 9-10 weeks long. Hehe. I'm still comfortable most of the time- its a little hard to get comfy at night and my ribs and sacrum really hurt sometimes. But my midwives are referring me to a a physical therapist (if my insurance doesn't approve the chiropractic) And, Im officially starting biweekly check ups with the midwives too. Wow, already!? About two weeks from now I have the GD test. Hope that goes okay.

Thats all for now.