Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Month With Less: Final Thoughts

Our monthlong moratorium on buying (with the exception of food, meds, hygiene products) came to an end on Monday. Leading up to the end I had several people ask me if I was going to go on a spending spree or if I had something that I really needed to buy. I wasn't really excited to be done, but there were a few things I wanted to but and couldn't find second hand. I needed soil for the garden, a new spray nozzle for the garden hose, and I hadn't found a good lampshade at a thrift store for a previously thrifted lamp. So that is what I got on Monday, no big spending spree.


What did we learn? Well, it was hard to actually crunch numbers on purchases we didn't make, but we estimate that we were able to save at least a couple of hundred dollars. We posed hard questions like,"is this a need?" And "is there another way to get what we need or want?" More often than not we didn't need that thing that we would have, at another time, just grabbed.  

The thing is, we saved enough money that we have decided to step up our payment plans on our student loans. If we continue to be more mindful with our spending we can pay off our student debts more quickly and that is a very exciting prospect. So, yes, this was a life changing experiment. We have, as a result, more closely scrutinized out budget as a whole. We are changing our way of spending and hopefully making more wiggle room to grow. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Outside

With the sudden onset of spring the entire state of Wyoming has gone completely insane. We are all just so thrilled to be outside on a warm day and not to feel the icy face slap of wind. People are wearing shorts and tank tops and sandals without socks!  There is biking and weed pulling and magically there are convertibles and all of them are driving with their tops down--the convertible tops, the people are all fully clothed at this point. Although I imagine we are on the cusp of the season of dudes who drive without shirts---it's way ,way less attractive than you may imagine.

 The girls and I spend most days out back. They play and I go between a little play and a lot of hard work. I have been cleaning out all of the winter build up, you know the stuff that I looked at in the fall and thought, "That looks like a problem for Future Maria." Now that Future Maria has magically turned into Present Maria I am looking back at Past Maria and thinking that she's a pretty shady character. *Did that make any sense? Work with me here people.

With the new season I can't help but think about all of the change that has come since the last time we were visited by spring. I suppose having kids really accentuates that passage of time. Elise is now so much more independent. She and Cordelia play together and it leaves me free to work a little. Once the yard work is less insane I plan to spend these hours working on some painting while the girls entertain themselves. It's going to be bananas (every time I spell bananas I think of this skip to 2:34, you?)!

We have been having meals out back, watching the sun sink in the sky. I water plants, we chase the dogs. We blow bubbles and talk and laugh. Seriously, it is pretty much the best time of year and I am soaking up every single moment of this time. Spring will roll into summer before we know it and we will be able to be outside pretty much constantly.


Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside
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Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside

Spring outside


Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Eric was up and off before the sun as he, in the choir along with my mother, had to preform a solo at the sunrise service and the normal service. The girls were up, but slow to motivate. Once they remembered that they got to wear their new dresses they were unstoppable. The dresses, matching of course, were layers of pink that swished and swirled about them like soft pink clouds. There was twirling, the magical twirling that little girls naturally do when given a full skirt. Cordelia nearly insisted on sneakers and a Russian style hat, but was placated with sparkle shoes and a jeweled hair clip.

We managed to get to church on time (!) where the girls, all too farmiliar with the place (my dad works there and we are there plenty) felt comfortable shouting to people across the room, dancing, and running about like feral beasts in cotton candy dresses. I think most people were charmed more than they were annoyed by the distraction from the back corner.

Easter 2014

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Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

After church we returned home and gave the girls their Easter baskets. Fact: I regifted their Easter bunnies from last year, they played with them for one day, so I put them in storage with the baskets and voila a new bunny this year. I may try and get away with it another year too! Once the basket opening was complete Eric hung out with the girls while I prepared dinner for all of us, my parents, brother Sam, and borrowed sister Laura. I made a Field Roast and a Gardein roast to see which we liked better. I mashed potatoes, made gravy. Baked some spring fresh asparagus and drizzled with a little olive oil, gomashio and lemon juice. I made a simple and delicious chickpea, basil and tomato salad. A fruit salad with just a sprinkle of sugar and vanilla and a splash of orange juice. My mother brought rolls made with her own sour dough starter. Laura brought sparkling drinks and some wine for the adults (sorry Sam, you'll be 21 next time).

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

When we were done stuffing our faces we went outside for the much anticipated Easter Egg hunt. Eric and I had prepared eggs the night before with vegan candy. Elise is still not toothy enough to handle jelly beans so she had her own eggs.  Eric put Elise's two tone eggs in easy to find spots and Cordelia's one color eggs were hidden a little better. The girls raced out the door and had a blast while the rest of us looked on in delight. We gave clues as needed and soon enough all of the eggs were collected.

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

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Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

We returned back inside for another round of basket opening from my parents. The girls were gifted with new dresses so they had to change into them immediately, Elise insisted! Then we ate dessert, a berry cobbler with soy ice cream. Then we headed back outside. The girls played in the yard. Eventually there was a walk, it was just lovely outside, perfect weather in fact. We talked about how there had been snow the week before, seems like a distant memory now. There were no coats in sight yesterday.

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Once the group left Eric and I took the dogs and the kids for a stroll to the park and spent the rest of the evening lounging out back. A perfect spring day!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Quote: A Fool

Betty Sprinkles

“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
~Samuel Butler

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thank you!



Thanks to everyone who made me feel so very loved on my birthday!

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Year


 me

I don't know about you, but my birthday has always kind of bummed me out. I don't care about aging at all, that's not it. It just so happens that my birthday often falls on inconvenient times: moves, travel days, poverty (thanks college),Good Friday--ahem. The thing isn't even that it falls on bad days, it is the expectation. People who love me really want my day to be super-duper special, but sometimes life is just beyond their power, and then I feel like I am letting loved ones down by not having the most amazing birthday...even if it is a perfectly good day. Anyway, I am done with all that. Today I am thirty three. THIRTY THREEE YO! It is going to be a beautifully normal day and I am going to revel in that fact. I am so thankful that I get to spend the day with family, meet my bestie for breakfast, do some yard work, take a walk, snuggle with some hounds, play with my girls, laugh with my husband.

Today I am celebrating the fact that I have been given the gift of thirty three years to learn and grow. Over the course of these thirty three years I have accomplished a lot: from learning to walk and talk, to falling in love, bearing children, becoming friends with my parents and brothers, learning, traveling, loving, friending, all of it and it is freaking wonderful!

Yesterday I was fretting, knowing that my parents and spouse would be worried about how to make my day special in spite of their very busy schedules. Then it hit me, it's not their responsibility to make my day special and it isn't my responsibility to pretend that my birthday has to be a special day, because you know what? Every single day is special (it's my birthday I can be soy cheesy). While I was at it I decided that this is going to be my year. I am going to make this year special. Today I am going to set some personal goals. I am settling into 33 and I am going to make myself good and comfortable. Life is good and today I celebrate 33 years of things to be thankful for.

Also, I should really thank my mother who birthed a behemoth baby. I was over two weeks past due and weighed as much as a Ford Fairmont, so I pretty much came out walking and talking with an opinion about things. Thanks mom! I love you! I am sorry I took so long to join you all those years ago.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Project: Dresser Redo


Perhaps you've seen our triangle dresser before. Here is is several years ago in our apartment in Denver. We found this piece nearly a decade ago when we were poor grad students, but we were drawn to the shape and the dresser was marked down 90%. So we bought it.  We quickly realized that it isn't the most practical of pieces. I mean, look at that top drawer, what can that hold?The answer is six mixed tapes from the 90s that we can't bear to part with. The has had many incarnations, but mostly serves as storage for odds and ends.

Over the past few weeks we have been going through our house, making some changes and updates and we both realized that the dresser needed a little updating as well. The dark wood had never really gone with our style. We quickly agreed that the dresser should be white. The shape of the dresser is so unique and visually striking that the dark wood added more visual weight than it needed, a lighter paint we hoped would help it to fit in with the rest of the house rather than having it stick out.

Thankfully we had white paint in the garage. One afternoon and four coats of paint later we were done. I only painted the exterior and left the drawers dark. Part of me wanted them to be a teal blue, but then I thought to myself, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" So, I settled with the exterior only. The painting was simple and straightforward. We took off the drawer pulls, lightly sanded the wood and then wiped it down with a damp cloth. I painted it and managed to get paint in my hair. Cordelia got some in her hair as well. Elise threw a mitten into the paint can, but otherwise it was a pretty simple operation.

dresser

The only thing was that when we were done Eric was able to clearly see that the bottom drawer handle was installed a little wonky. I told him that I thought it was quaint. I think it will haunt him for ages, since the wood isn't high quality I don't really think drilling a new hole would be possible as the wood would probably split. So, Eric gets to handle a little wonky.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Month With Less

So we have less than a week left in our month with less. If you are just joining me then let me catch you up. My family has spent the last three weeks and two days without buying anything new! Obviously we aren't homesteaders so we have purchased food, medicine, hygiene products (toilet paper!). I also have a confession of sorts, I accidentally purchased glasses. I piked out my new glasses without realizing that they were over the cost of my insurance covered glasses, so we did pay the difference.


Since I am going to live with these glasses for a loooooong time I didn't feel very guilty about it. 

Cordelia is happy to support my decision.

Anyway, when the last week has ended I will share with you just how transformative this experience has been, and it has been pretty amazing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Dug Trenches

Two hours and forty-five minutes of sleep is how I started Saturday morning. Eric wasn't faring much better. We tag teamed it over the night as Cordelia awoke thinking maybe she was sick, she wasn't really sick. Elise was up and down as a result of the wake-up wails of Cordelia and it was all over before 5am. It was one of those days that Eric and I looked at each other, bleary eyed, across the breakfast table and wondered how many hours it would be until bed time. We had a long day ahead of us, with some really fun activities planned so we just did our best to pull ourselves together and soon enough, thanks to the power of parenthood, we were functioning in a mostly normal manner.

We got the girls dressed and ready, took the dogs to my parents' home and then headed back into town for a symphony for kids. Our good friend is the director of the symphony and we love to support her work and even more so when it gives us the opportunity to share music with the girls! We settled into our seats and enjoyed the show. There was great music, lots of laughs for the kids. Although Elise was annoyed when the music stopped for skits, at one point she shouted, "STOP TALKING." Then when the music resumed she leaned back on me, transfixed. Cordelia enjoyed the whole thing!

After the symphony we rushed home and had a quick lunch before hitting the road. We drove to Buffalo for the opening of Eric's show, a selection of works from his series We Dug Trenches, a photographic study of our life in the West. He showed his photography at The Crazy Woman Fine Art Gallery in Buffalo. If you haven't been to Buffalo, Wyoming then let me tell you it is a mighty small town with a lot of charm and character. The community is very art friendly, but we didn't really know if anyone would show for the opening. Thankfully we were pleasantly surprised as locals as well as friends from our community showed up to see his work. The event was really a lot of fun. The girls were on their best behavior and everything went smoothly.

You can see the full We Dug Trenches show here. Purchase prints here.

reception
reception
Elise walked around charming everyone

reception

reception

reception
Cordelia was working it for Eric, telling everyone that her dad had taken all of the photos

reception
Eric and gallery owner/artist Jenny Wuerker

reception

reception

After the reception we decided to return home ahead of a storm that had the potential to keep us from returning the next day. Initially we had planned to stay at The Historic Occidental Hotel, but we will have to save that for another time. We made it home in the early evening, talking along the drive to keep weariness at bay. We fed our children...not quality food I will admit...and we were all sound asleep before it was even totally dark outside.
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