And Our World Was Quiet

They said it was going to snow on Friday. For the nearly 8 years we've lived here, they've often said it was going to snow. At the mention of it, the groceries become crowded, the schools shut down and hysteria rules the roads as people race home. More often than not, the poor weather workers are wrong. We've had the occasional dusting; I think one year we even got a couple inches - enough to race to the park, sled a few times and roll around before it all turned to slush and mud.

So, the Friday forecast was laughable - 4 to 10 inches. I'll believe it when I believe it, I said to Nicole as I left for work. By mid-morning, I think I started to believe it.

For a kid from Colorado, watching a good old winter storm unwind and unleash made me smile and think back to late nights staring out windows, wondering if it would be enough to make the School Officials give us a break. For many of my co-workers and patients at the hospital, it was simultaneously mesmerizing and terrifying. People kept talking about the Blizzard of '96, when the town shut down for a week and havoc was king.

The kid from Colorado, I realize 11 inches later, was surrounded by flat roads, underground utilities and an armada of strong trucks with enormous blades to clear the way. Around these parts, the power lines run under trees, there's not a flat road to be found and I can count the number of snow trucks the county owns on three fingers.

Unlike many, many, many people throughout the region (including my parents' house and my brother's house) we never lost power. I think now, three days later, the weary utility pros are still picking up the pieces. Our little wood stove has burned steadily through the days. We have eaten well and enjoyed the quiet unique to fresh snow. We were able to pack the entirety of our family, and a couple more, into our tiny house for a meatloaf bonanza last night. We don't understand our lot in life, but we are thankful.


Free Yoga

Tightwad Tip:

So, a friend of mine recently told me about the yogatoday website. I'd been looking for a yoga class I enjoyed and that I deemed worthy of my 8-10$ per class. I haven't found one. I finally decided to try out the free class at yogatoday. Pretty good. They offer all sorts of classes for a monthly fee, but they always have one free class that you can stream from your computer. They change it every week. If you like yoga, I definitely recommend it.

Oh, and there's been lots of Christmas crafting going on in our household. I don't want to post pictures yet, as that might ruin the suprise. Stay tuned.



Gingerbread Houses

Yesterday, Sam, Kedzie and I made our way to the lovely Grove Park Inn. Sam and I always comment: we forget how beautiful that place is until we visit. It really is amazing.

This is the size of the firewood needed for their gigantic fireplaces.

They had this sleigh set up in one of the 2 giant fireplaces.

Every year the Grove Park hosts a national gingerbread house competition. I'm not sure of the official rules, but I am pretty sure that everything in the house must be edible and partly made out of gingerbread. These houses are amazing. So creative and so meticulous. Here are a few examples. (It was hard to get pictures of most of them with all the people gathered around).

It's hard to tell but this one was the First Family's holiday home. That's Obama on the roof going down the chimney. (It really did look like him!)

A little creepy, but amazing nonetheless.

Kedzie had a blast crawling all over and checking out all the Christmas trees (they had about 30 in the area we were in all decorated with a different theme).

The displays are laid out around the Inn and there is no charge to come see them. I think we spent a few dollars to add a hot cocoa to the merriment. It's a beautiful place that really put us all in the Christmas spirit.


Holiday Fest in West Asheville

This past Saturday we convinced our neighbors (and friends) Chad, Marissa and Eloise (who is about 2 weeks older than Kedzie) to walk up to Haywood Street with us and check out this Holiday Fest they were having. It wasn't all we thought it would be as it mostly entailed some window displays and free samples of beer. It didn't quite live up to the Chicago window displays but it was a lovely, local, walkable activity which we will continue supporting in the future. We did have a good time and enjoyed a walk in the brisk air with the babes. We topped off the evening by finally getting to try out the UJ. Good wings + good beer + good friends + well fed babies = happy parents.

Ship to Shore window display...love the antique doilies.

Happy boy.

Sweet Eloise.

Blue Barnhouse Letterpress Christmas Card: This one says "Rudolph...where are we?"

Burgermeisters had the awesome window display featuring "The Snowy Day" one of Kedzie's faves currently.

A good, festive time was had by all.



Month 2: Results

I just made a payment to the dastardly Direct Loans for a whopping $481.42. Not as high a payment as I'd like, but it's where we're at this pay period. New grand total of $96,882.75. Slowly but surely.


Bike Commuting

I finally made an appointment to get my hair cut. Recently, I was looking like Cousin It with the astronomical amount of hair growing from my head. It was ridiculously long and I was not able to style it very often because of the time commitment involved. We finally had enough money in our Hair Care envelope to get both Sam and I haircuts. We go to the same place (The Blue Ribbon) and to the same stylist. She sweetly gives a 10% discount to anyone who rides their bike to the shop. As her cuts are already on the cheap side (but still awesome), and she offers a free Pabst to anyone who comes in, her place is where we now frequent. Really, it's probably only 1 1/2 miles from our house. There's no reason not to bike.

Yesterday, on the other hand, there was a reason...it was raining and it was December. That rain was COLD. Being the tightwad that I am, I donned Sam's bike rain gear, red-blinky light and headed on down the road.

I neglected to realize that by the time I would be riding home it would be dark, and even colder. My fingers and face were frozen by the time I got home. You see, the ride there is uphill mostly and therefore very warming. The way home is downhill with icy breezes freezing every part of you. Nothing some hot cocoa can't cure!

I would say biking there was worth it, but come to find out we had a free haircut waiting for us. Beth also does a punch card and every 8th cut is FREE. Awesome, but the whole riding the bike was a bit pointless this go around. Not pointless, I'm sure the earth and my heart thank me.

Side note: That's my relatively new bike I got for commuting and tooling around town (like biking to the hair salon). THANK YOU to Ann Lee and Dave for selling my old bike (more of a road bike) for a sweet price! We celebrated last night with an annual trip to our go-to restaurant Heiwa and a nightcap of sweetness at the Chocolate Lounge. Thanks again you guys!

Another side note: If you're looking for something to do this Saturday check out the Holiday Bazaar hosted by West Asheville Businesses. There's sure to be some great bargains, and you'd be supporting those awesome local businesses that I can bike to! Also, the City Market is having a holiday bash. Hopefully, you'll see us at both, perhaps on our bikes with a Chariot in tow.


Christmas is here!!!

First let me say a hearty thank you for all of the wisdom you shared. It's funny how fear works. It starts by making you doubt everything you believe in. I'm back on track and know that we will make the best decision for Kedzie when the time comes. If it turns out to not be the best decision...we can change it. No need to be afraid. Thanks again for all you shared.

Now, let's get down to business. Yesterday was Christmas decorating night. We've been trying to get a day that both Sam and I had off together and it just wasn't coming together that way. So, we scratched that plan and made a date for last night. It was awesome. I wasn't into it at first...not sure why, I was just grumpy. Then the tree, and lights and stockings and snow globes came out and I was in heaven.

We almost made an unfrugal move. You see, the Christmas tree we've had since our second year of marriage (a tiny, tabletop, artificial tree with lights built in that I got on clearance for $15) would only light the bottom half of itself. It was pitiful. This tiny tree has kept its place in our life so long mostly because our home is 770 square feet. Have I mentioned that before? Our house is small cozy.

So, we said, perhaps it's time to step into the world of adulthood and get an adult sized real tree. A tree that smells of Christmas. A tree that would help support our local economy. (Christmas tree farming is a huge crop in Western NC). Yes, that's it, we need to support the local economy. We had just read our friend, Sarah's blog. (Try to read that post and not want Christmas tree wafting through your home.) We were getting all excited to go out and cut down our own tree. After about 15 minutes of this we realized the expense involved. I've been reading and reading and reading the Tightwad Gazette (which Sarah sent us). In our old life we would've tossed the miserable little tree out to the curb and went and got us a shiny new one. "How can we fix this?" We had a string of lights we could put around the top of the tree to make it good as new. That's what we did. We stayed true to our frugal roots and the tree is lovely. While I may need to go out and get a Christmas tree scented candle, the tree itself still makes me smile.

A friend got Kedzie this stocking for Christmas last year. It's awesomely roomy. It already has some treats for Christmas day in there! Thanks Robin!

Not the best picture but I wanted to show you all the Christmas jammies I whipped up for Kedzie. I thought it would be a fun tradition to buy Christmas jammies every year and maybe have that be day one on the advent calendar (whenever I finish it). So, I was about to purchase some jammies when I found this sweet little red number at goodwill for $1.50. I quickly cut out a snowman and felted on some accessories. Put all this together you have Tightwad (adorable) Christmas jammies.

Hope you're enjoying your family's Christmas traditions.



I know a couple people (friends) visit us regularly and so, to them and the void, I'm asking for some guidance, help, love nudges...

I just watched Nursery University while I was addressing Christmas Cards during a much needed nap of Kedzie's. It scared me. Sam & I obviously don't live in New York City (as lovely as Asheville is), and we really haven't talked about school much at all. I've had a desire to homeschool long before Kedzie showed up on the scene. I think that desire fits in with my desire to live in a much more simple world.

I guess what scared me about the movie is, it got me wondering if I'm going to ruin Kedzie by not giving him a preschool education? Will he miss out on too much if his social interaction is limited to playdates, cousins and homeschool groups? My gut says no. Why does a 2 year old need to know her ABCs & 123s? Does this make her smarter? Does this make her a more compassionate and loving human being?

I was on Soulemama (again) this morning and recently her family has been visiting and tending a farm. This is my dream. I'm not sure we'll ever have all the animals, but the simplicity of the lifestyle is what I want for our family. I also found this website recently. It's helped me stay grounded and true to who we are as a family.

Sorry about the stream of consciousness typing. I had to get it out there.

What do you think oh mighty void (and friends)?

P.S. Here's a Franciscan Benediction that Sam regularly prays for Kedzie.
Try to not be inspired. Can traditional preschool help him with this?

"May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.



King for a day. King for a year.

Yesterday was Kedzie's birthday. While we are still sorting out our details of raising children in a material world, we are certain that birthday's can, and for our family, should be celebrations. Of course, Kedzie will not remember a thing about the day, but we sure had fun celebrating him.

Inspired by her cursory look at Soule Mamma, Nicole transformed a ratty old sweater into a felted crown in less than 2 hours. It was quite a sight - both the making and the wearing.

Of course, the birthday king deserved a tour of his realm to check on his subjects. And, no tour is a tour worth anything without a first stop at the scrap yard.

I think I was happier than the king, but jesters are a strange lot. And, I was able to sell some copper pipe I tore out of the basement during some plumbing reworking a few weeks ago.

With our $6 in hand, we took the king to his favorite coffee shop, for a bagel, an Americano and a latte for the court.

(As the mission of this blog is to document our financial transformation, I feel obliged to acknowledge the questionable decision to spend instead of save. The morning, though, was a wonderful family date, and I wouldn't change it for anything.)

Next, the king requested a respite, and proceeded to nap for nearly two and one half hours, an eternity for a kid who tends to pop up after an hour on the dot.

Eventually, it was off to gammy and papaws for dinner and drumming, not to mention some cupcakes, cousins and a friend or two.

Cousin Eily

It was a beautiful day, worthy for a beautiful boy.

Of course, nothing lasts for long; we took Kedzie to the doc today for his 1-year check up and walked out with a sobbing, angry little mess with four immunization holes and a toe prick for a blood screening.



Payperiod 11/8 Payoff

I needed to see that we've made some progress. I don't like waiting a whole month to get some satisfaction out of our new journey. So, Sam helped me crunch the numbers (not really crunching as his spreadsheet is pretty much idiot proof) and took me on a tour  of the direct loans website and we put another $543.17 into our loans.

Awesome. Check out that new total on the banner.


Food, glorious, food.

Today was grocery day. Kedzie and I trek around town and head to 3 different grocery stores in order to keep costs down and just get what we need. I've learned what's cheapest where and have really brought our grocery costs down by visiting all 3 grocers. All this to say that our house is packed full of food. I've been craving making some bread, so the menu chosen for tonight's dinner included Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls from the cookbook "Simply in Season." This is a cookbook written by a Mennonite woman who cherishes local, sustainable food. The Mennonite philosophy is "to promote the understanding of how food choicer we make affect our lives and the lives of those who produce the food." I know you can purchase this cookbook at your local "Ten Thousand Villages" store, as that's where we purchased ours, but you can also get it here. OK, technically this book is not ours as we gifted it to Sam's mama a couple years ago. But, in an effort to be frugal, we stole it out of their kitchen on Thanksgiving. Sorry guys! (To my in-laws: We'll invite you over for dinner soon!)

I digress, the rolls were amazing. Fluffy, healthy, easy and delicious. I paired them with a simple spinach, tomato, gruyere quiche with hash brown crust. Sounds fancy, but super easy and most of the ingredients I got from Amazing Savings...which means, organic and cheap.

Here are the rolls before we got into them. Quiche in the background. I jazzed up the rolls by adding a sugary glaze on top. I think that put them over the edge. I know my sweet tooth. This soothed it. (I think they would also be delicious with butter.)

Here they are after. Yes, there were 8, now there's 3 1/2. Sooooo gooood.

I'm not sure this is legal, but Sam assures me that since I adapted the recipe a bit, I can post it. Here it is, if you're interested.

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls
Yields 2 dozen (Mine yielded 16 b/c of how I cut them)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour (I used farro flour, because that's what we had)
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. active dry yeast
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. allspice

Combine in large bowl. (I put everything into the Kitchen Aid and gave it a quick stir)

1 Cup Sweet potato cooked and mashed (I cooked a whole sweet potato and gave Kedzie the leftovers for dinner)
1 Cup Milk
1/4 cup butter

Combine in saucepan, cook over medium until butter is melted and mixture is warm. Add to flour and beat with mixture set on low 1-2 minutes until everything is moist. (I did this in the Kitchen Aid)

1 large egg, beaten
Add and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.

2 1/2 cups bread flour

Stir in enough flour by hand to make the dough easy to handle. (Once again, I did this all in the kitchen aid...I just watched for the dough to start to come together and not be so sticky on the sides...I used the dough hook) Place dough ball in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled. 

Our dough got to rise outside in the sun for a bit...It was beautiful today.

Punch down. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each 1/2 into a 12 inch circle. (I saved one ball and put it into the freezer for another time).

2 T. Butter melted

Brush each circle with 1 T. butter. Cut into 12 wedges (Like I said, I did 8). Tightly roll up each wedge wide end to point. Place rolls on cookie sheet point side down. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

I added the glaze after they came out of the oven. For 1/2 batch rolls I made a glaze by mixing 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 1/2 T. half and half. (You can use water, or cream or whatever you'd like)

I'd love to know if you make them...and if you have any suggestions!




When I ask most folks, Thanksgiving is the most common answer to the Favorite Holiday question. Occasionally, I'll get a 'Halloween' or an 'Arbor Day;' rarely do I get 'Christmas.' It's like the Flight or Invisibility question - we get a glimpse at the hearts of others with a simple query. I'm not sure if their answers show the person they are or the person they want to be.

For me, when I answer 'Thanksgiving,' it's both.

To be thankful I must look out. Sometimes, it's a natural, instinctual movement for me; other times, it can be a bit more difficult. For the past two months, thankfulness has been my theme. Like my faith, that theme has less to do with my choice and more to do with some inescapable pull into Mystery.

While my hope is to become a person who gives thanks in all things, I appreciate this day of focused, socially accepted gratitude. I am thankful...

  • for the inordinate amount of food cooking in our kitchen, for the healthy family who will help us eat it, and for the consistent electricity, running water and technological marvels that will make cleaning up a breeze. 
  • for a wife that has loved me, in spite of me, more every day for 8 years. She has changed me, and I am better for it.
  • for streets free of landmines, a government that lets me say what I will about it, neighbors who let me borrow what I need and the ability to walk outside without certain catastrophe. 
  • for a son who is developing his own personality with panache and grace, and who informs every decision I make.
  • For friends who abandon plans to pay for a local Turkey Trot, donate the money to the food bank instead, and chart a 5k course of their own to establish a new tradition.
Dave, Ann Lee and the rest of the motley crew post-trotting

The local 'sponsored' Turkey Trot, which we drove by on our way home. Needless to say, we did not have police escort.

Nicole's t-shirt logo, ironed on and ready to roll.

I am thankful.


Where'd my baby go?

The day is approaching quickly. My baby is not so much a baby anymore. Today, he didn't nurse at all. Not once. He's over me. As a matter of fact, this afternoon, he had the option of nursing or goat's milk from a bottle...he chose the goat. He's practical (he gets that from me)...he enjoys the portability. He's on the move. I get it.

I love him. Everything about him, but I'm going to miss our time.


Happy Anniversary.

Today marks 8 years for Sam and I. It's funny how fast time passes when you're all grown up. I think it's one of those things "you know you're an adult when...time passes so fast you can't keep up with it." Don't you remember being a kid and thinking a month was SOOOO LOOOONG. You couldn't possibly wait that long. A month in adult time, is more like a day. So fast.

All that rambling to say that these past 8 years have been the absolute best 8 years of my life. I love and am in love with my husband, our baby is ridiculously sweet, and we have the privilege to pay off debt, when most people are fighting to pay their rent. We are truly fortunate.

My mom sent this edible arrangement for our anniversary. Those are dark chocolate dipped pears...delicious. Thanks mom!

Other good news includes we finally saved up enough in our Savings envelope to purchase Jamie Oliver's new cookbook! Oh my, it is more beautiful than either of us ever imagined. His philosophy about food mirrors ours AND he's passionate about getting others to love good, natural, wholesome food. This book is all about getting non-cooks to begin cooking from scratch. There are about a billion pictures to ensure good results for each recipe. If you've been intimidated to begin your cooking adventure, invest in this book (or check it out from your local library)! You will not be disappointed. His writing style is super friendly and laid back.

The recipe from the book to make the menu this week is called:
Asian Chicken Noodle Broth. We'll let you know how it goes. I have to say, his recipes have NOT ONCE let us down.

One more thing, please, please, please, if you enjoy Christmas music go to pandora.com and type in "Blue Christmas" by Elvis and you'll get the most dreamy Christmas music station ever created. Awesome!

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Holidays are Here.

Hooray! Holidays are here. Hard to believe with our recent weather of sunshine and 70s, but it's upon us. Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Yesterday, Kedzie and I (Sam was at work) rang in the beginning of this season with Asheville's holiday parade. I haven't been to this parade for years...now that Kedzie's here, I have a good reason to get out there. It was sweet. It was packed with people. It was raining candy. It was the South once again.

Fairview Flyers (unicyclists)

Junior ROTC
(made me sad...and a bit nationalistic at the same time)

yes... a llama

Kedzie LOVED the marching bands.

This was the caboose. Santa's float with all the reindeer.
Santa was singing...pretty good voice, actually.

This was Kedzie for 1 1/2 hours. Eating pirate's booty and watching everything!

Yesterday evening we went to our good friends' house for Hot Turkey Party. It was duly named and created by Dave because his Thanksgiving usually consists of cold turkey cooked the day before. You see, his wife is vegetarian and doesn't do turkey so she could care less about the temperature of the turkey. Nevertheless, Hot Turkey Party was born a few years back. We missed last year because of the little man, but this year it was back in full swing. Dave and Ann Lee are the perpetual hosts, and this year was a delicious feasty potluck.

Kedzie couldn't hold back his hunger.

Turkey, dressing, gravy & vegetarian gravy, baked tofu, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with caramelized apples, green bean casserole, rolls and cranberry poundcake and apple pie with cinnamon whipped cream for dessert!

Dave helping Kedzie wash down his turkey with a porter.

Shelby and Jonah.

Right this minute we are thankful for a cozy home, full of heat and love and safety. I think it's our home that's on our mind mostly because it's 40 degrees and raining outside and inside we have a nice cozy fire. And, I think, we're both very conscious of our home as this morning we spent some time volunteering with our church and serving homeless men & women breakfast. I spent yesterday hard boiling eggs and buying juice boxes and today was spent pondering what life would be like if my circumstances were different. I am thankful...very, very thankful.

What are you thankful for?