Monday, March 23, 2015

Trying New Things and Learning to Say Yes (even more!)

I like living small.

I like living simply.

I feel like for the first time ever I have the time (and the guts) to do whatever I want.  I feel like it has taught me to say yes.  Yes to the kids when they want to take on a project that will make a mess.  Yes when they want to explore something new.  Yes to myself when there is something I have wanted to do for years, but put off because I didn't make myself a priority too.

You see, I didn't say no because I didn't have enough time.  I said no because I was tired., or more likely because I was overwhelmed with all the things I should be doing (but probably wasn't).  I said no because I was busy doing things that distracted me from doing the things I was overwhelmed with, which if I had done them I might have felt free to say yes.  But it never worked that way.  Why clean the whole house if I could I binge watch some show on Netflix instead?  And how could I say yes to my kids' project ideas when I was overwhelmed with having to clean the whole house?  Quite the ugly cycle.

I can't say I never binge watch anything anymore.  And I can't say that I always say yes to my kids.  But I can say that I almost always do say yes now.  I can tell you that my house is simply too small to ever be overwhelming.  This is what I've said yes to this week (that would have been a "no" 2 years ago)...

1) California Rolls.  We love them...and they are a fairly expensive treat for us, therefore, we don't have them often. This year my in-laws bought me sushi making stuff for my birthday...but after months of non-use, the kids finally pressured me to try it out.  First I started sweating...then I started thinking of reasons why we couldn't...then I started thinking about all the work there was to do...then I decided to watch something on Netflix to help ease my anxiety.  WAIT---nope---that was the old me.  The new me said---sure. Within the hour both kids were able to do it on their own (and better than me).

2) Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  This is another favorite treat of ours that we almost never ever get. We've said for years that we should just learn to make them.  (and I've pinned them at least 3 times!) But they seemed so darn intimidating! Of course, the sushi rolls seemed intimidating too...and they turned out great! So on the very next day after the california roll success, we jumped in.  And they were WONDERFUL!  Literally one of the best things we've ever eaten.  And SO SO SO easy to make. And this time, it didn't take an hour.  The kids took over the whole she-bang and churned out more than a dozen of these delicious raw treats. (with our short-cut peanut sauce on top...mmmm)

How-to Instructions for Spring Rolls
Recipe for Instant Peanut Sauce- 1 cup of any asian dressing (sesame ginger, etc) and 1Tbs of peanut butter (I use all natual Adams) use more or less PB to taste, and then I add chopped up peanuts too. It's delicious!

3) Guitar.  This one is all about me.  I signed up for guitar, figured out how to pay for it within our budget...and now I can say...I can play guitar.  Er, well...I can play a G chord.  Um...I'm not evern sure that's how you say that.  But I can play it nonetheless.  Today while my kids made the spring rolls, I practiced my G chord over and over again. I am so glad I learned to say yes to me too...even though my fingers are sore.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Valentine's Pop-up Cards Revisited

We don't do gifts for Valentine's.  No flowers or jewelry, or anything like that.  But we do DO homemade Valentine's cards.  Yeah...they're kind of a big deal.  So we try to come up with new ideas, which is why we tried pop-up cards to begin with.  But,the first time we tried pop-ups, they didn't turn out the way I thought they would.  Nothing really "popped" out, and it was kind of disappointing.  I checked out a book at the library to help...but it was just too complicated.

This was my attempt 2 years ago, see?

Fast forward to this year. We were ready to try again, so THIS time I used the ultimate learning tool...YouTube.  I truly don't know why people waste their time on YouTube watching stupid videos when there is SO MUCH TO LEARN!!  

Notice the wine coolers?  To make the homemade 
Valentine making more fun for my husband 
I created the first annual Valentine's 
Wine Cooler and Valentine Making Party.

Do you know how simple it is to make a pop up?

This simple.

I finished the cards just as I finished my wine cooler...perfect.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stop Motion Christmas Present

I realize this post is a little dated, since it was from Christmas...but it's not my fault...I just took the tree out of the boat today., February 4th.

To be fair, I took the tree "down" 2 weeks ago, but just couldn't find a convenient time to get it out of here.  So now it's in my car.  At least it's not in the houseboat, that counts for something.

Anyway, I really wanted to go homemade this year for our family gifts, but I just couldn't decide what to do.  My inspiration came from a friend who has been doing Stop Motion projects with her kids for a while.  One day when my kids were playing over there, they did some Stop Motion with them and got the SM bug.


My friend suggested that we buy the iStopMotion app for the ipad, then import the videos into iMovie to put it together and add sound, music, special effects, etc.

We started by sketching out some ideas and putting them together.  Lesson 1 is that it's harder than it looks to do even some of the most simple SM tricks.  So for your first project, KEEP IT SIMPLE.  I went with paper-sketches for my SM medium; but legos, clay and playmobil characters work well too.

To make it easier, I sketched out a basic scene and left out the faces and arms.  This way I didn't have to sketch it over and over again, I could just add the changes.  For instance, the carol part took 4 frames per person, so 16 frames all together.  The more frames, the more fluid the motion. After I did the photography sequence in iStopMotion I opened iMovie and placed the sequences in a row.  From there we added the singing.  This took a couple of tries to line up the movement of the video with our voices, but re-recording is a snap.

The project was a lot of fun, and with the technologically advanced world we live in, I was able to upload them late on Christmas eve for the recipients to see/open/get on Christmas morning.  And the kids felt very involved and very proud of the finished product.

37 years old

For my birthday, Alaska gave me no rain.

Laurel gave me a walk in the woods.

My husband got me my Yelloweye mug.

My son got me roses.

A delicious and smiling homemade carrot cake.

And a tired husband who managed to get things done even though he worked all day.

I am blessed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Living Below Your Means

I feel so liberated that I literally glow when I talk about how I've changed since finally embracing a cash system. If you have fights about money with your significant other (or yourself), let money get in the way of your dreams, or feel like money problems are drowning you, please read on. 

We live below our means. We do this very intentionally. We have financial goals, near and far, that require us to save. The near goal being our plan to travel as a family for at least one year. The far goal being that once we settle again, it will be on farm we buy in cash.

For ten years we have gone on and off the cash system, and I hated it every time.  I wanted to live a "normal" life, and not feel like I had to do without. Granted, I'm not a fancy gal, I don't buy shoes or electronics or new clothes (very often)...but the girl likes her coffee and Thai food. Part of my feelings of wanting to live a normal life came from being raised in the suburbs.  Buying Starbucks everyday is the norm, shopping at Target on your lunch hour is just a good way to spend your time, hanging out at the mall is just what you do.  For me, trying to live that life in the very materialistic suburbs was impossible. 

Thankfully we don't live in the suburbs anymore.  Those daily money wasters are mostly moot up here in Alaska...though not non-existent.  My issue here is that groceries are expensive...and I still don't like to not be able to buy things when I want/need them.  So, for the first 2 years I put every purchase on the credit card, and every month we went over our budget.  Part of the problem is that my very mild mannered husband (who happens to be the one that sees and pays the bills) didn't want to talk to me about it...because I on the other hand---ahem---am not so mild mannered.  I'm not a beast or anything, but talk of restricting money does not bring out my best side. 

Nonetheless, he finally bit the bullet (after stressing out for several months) and talked to me about it.  It was not a nice conversation...but it might have been the single most important conversation of my life.  And I realized four things...

1) He was right
2) We should never have to fight about money
3) The only way to keep from fighting is to stick to the budget
4) The only way to keep me from going over budget is to use cash

I'd like to say that I realized this all gracefully, and incorporated the changes with ease. 


The transition took about 2 months.  My transformation about 3 months.  Once I really got into it, I realized I had more freedom to buy the organic foods I wanted, I wasted almost nothing (no more Starbucks or $5 movies from Walmart), and for the first time in 6 months we were able to put our full amount of savings into our travel fund and into our retirement fund.  And here is the CRAZY part...I really enjoyed not wasting money.  It gave me a sense of power over the big corporations, and over my own life.  And when I had leftover funds at the end of the month (and every bill is already paid, and all the savings have already been put away) they are simply there to spend.  Because of that surplus I've been able to buy more things I've wanted to try (but felt like I couldn't afford), like organic foods, a Vitamix and guitar lessons. I have focused on what I want to spend my money on, which gives me more strength to say no to mindless spending. 

Once the bills are paid, the saving coffers are filled, the belly is filled with healthy food, money is spent on family experiences...what's left to spend on?  I have found that the answer is nothing.  So the surplus goes into a can to wait for a rainy day, or when the budget doesn't cover it, or just to take my family to the movies.  And my heart feels light.  And there are no fights about money. 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

7 Amazing Years

Happy Birthday my little man.

I hope you liked your scavenger hunt, and your birthday cake (this was my first and last attempt at fondant). I loved watching you walk around the sun, and I won't lie, I teared up with every revolution.  I love that you are obsessed with the Apollo missions, and Ray Troll's art.  I love your quirky, silly, detail oriented brain.

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