Bringing an old home back to life. And on a small budget.

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So, here is the unveiling of our wonderful little hidden gem.  We only had $130,000 for a loan to work with and I found this HUD house, made a bid and God was kind, no one else bid on it that night so in the morning we were proud parents of a poor, neglected and abused home.  It had been abandoned for years and housing squatters.  It had some funky energy and smells, to say the least.  But with some of our savings, lot’s of scrubbing, soap, paint, and planting of trees and gardens…it is back to a wonderful life housing a loud and fun family.

We purchased the house for $135,000, closing costs were $9,000 and all the work and supplies along with hiring Leo, our carpenter, was around $15,000 give or take.  Total $159,000.  We used savings that came from 6 years of frugal living and we still have some savings left.  Our mortgage with insurance, taxes and MIP (mortgage insurance you must pay if you didn’t put 20% down) all included is a fabulous $918.02!  It took us 6 weeks to do the work with Leo working daily and my husband working after his job each day and his one day off.

Here are the rest of the before and afters.

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The color is wild but it’s hard to see from those little swatches what you will really get.

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It still needs a little work here and there.  But this is the main chunk of the progress.  I look forward to seeing how this little house evolves over the years.

For those of you interested in getting out of debt and living a more frugal lifestyle for peace of mind and real freedom in life, check out my new book The Homemade Housewife.  I have every tip and advice that I have learned over the years from hundreds of other frugal hens and applied.  This frugal living was the only way we were able to purchase our first home because we live on one small income and have 4 humans and 3 furry family members to take care of.

So, if you want to get motivated get this book and have fun with the journey.  It cost less than a cup of gas station coffee.  I want everyone to have the joy and freedom I have found in living sustainably, frugally, and simply.

 

 

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Learning to write romance. And how to make bad reviews work for you.

I’ve been immersed in paperwork and study.  And not really the fun kind.  I’ve been doing the homework to buy a house, the hunting, finding, failing, the victory, the paperwork, showing proof of everything down to your blood type, the scanning of forms, endless emails and phone conversations, the driving all the way back and forth to the new town and house and back…the real life drama and nail-biting moments.

Then I’ve been on my quest to know Jesus and all that entails.  Books, books, and more books…and the internet which sucks as far as being a good source unless you know what you’re doing.  I’ve been studying Evolution, Creation, historical proof, archeological proof, scientific proof and on and on.  I was losing my mind with all the science.  Sometimes I had to reread whole paragraphs over and over until I would decide that maybe it was ok that I didn’t know what the heck they were talking about.  I believe, I believe!!!  Lord have mercy!

Finally today I’ve reached the end.  My goals were to find a house and find out who Jesus truly is.  Done!  I found the house and I found Jesus.  Check.  Check.

I cleaned off my desk, filed all the housing papers, and took all my books back to the library.  Now, time to get back into fiction writing mode.  Back to fantasy land.  Back to having some fun.

I’ve been getting some delightful reviews and stars on some of my books including one of my fiction books A Farmer’s Widow.  However, the other day I was hit with a double doozy.  I received two very, very bad ratings on two very different books.  One was my Queen of Sober book on how to get through the first year of sobriety.  The woman gave me a token star and said that if you didn’t drink to excess before this preachy, cliche, nothing to back it up book, you would after.  The other token star and an unpleasant review was on A Farmer’s Widow.  The reviewer said it was 2 hours of her life she would never get back and then wrote up a whole page on the book ending it with a claim that the whole book left a bad taste in her mouth.

So, I’m thinking that since one person wanted to drink herself to death after reading my book on sobriety and another lost 2 hours of her life on my fiction she said had no romance…well, I may need to put some focus on this department now.

I know it seems twisted but I was sort of pleased that the woman that hated my romance book so much took an extra hour of her life to write such a long review.  I mean really.  I read stacks of books all the time and if I can’t engage by the first few pages or chapter I just send it back to the library.  I feel like I’m finally making it.  A year ago I wasn’t even getting reviews!  Progress.

I also received a five star and golden review on the romantic book the same day (but I didn’t see this until days later).  This reader said the exact opposite, that the book was a skilled portrayal of human emotions from grief to passion!  She said the book was captivating from beginning to end.  Hummmm.  The point is that I’m creating strong emotions in my readers.  Either love or hate.  Glory be!  I’m on my way sister!

The good reviews are what keep you motivated and Gods wink toward keeping on the path. Those bad reviews are great tools to be used to hone your skills.  I did a little research on the reader that detested my book.  Often reviewers on amazon have a little site of their own that list all the books and products they review and rate.  She seemed to like a more sexy, intense, hardcore scene.  I understood why my book was a nightmare to her.  It was boring.  My books are borderline Hallmark and she wanted some schmex.  I don’t know what schmex is but she had it in many of her reviews.  Maybe that’s the problem…I don’t know what schmex is and I should as a writer of romantic novellas.  Or maybe not.

I refuse to join the world in all it’s hot love scenes and soft porn.  I will continue to write clean books, however, I will agree with this reader that I could probably steam it up a bit so I  ordered Romancing the Beat and Save the Cat on screen writing.  I’m not writing screen plays…yet, however, this books sounded fantastic on how to actually construct a movie to impress.  I’m sure you can apply the tools to writing books.

 

Romancing the Beat has already arrived and I’m going to settle in bed with it tonight.  It’s time get off the study and work train and get on the fun, fictional writing train.  I have to get back into storytelling mode.  A few romantic movies, a few books on how to actually write these books, and a little time writing out some plots.  Who knows.

Maybe I should wait until I’ve moved into the new house.  After all, I don’t want to get into book writing, story telling mode and have to abruptly stop to pack and unpack.  Ah, an excuse to extend my vacation.

When I start a book I have to go like mad until done or I may get bored or insecure and quit.  I have something like 4 started books, a half-written book, and one finished book that I didn’t like in the end.  Sometimes I think you have to write and publish before you can come to your senses or nothing would ever be produced and marketed.  Did I mention that I have five book covers that have no books as of yet?  Sigh.

 

 

 

 

The 40 days to change complete!

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Yesterday was the final day of my self-created 40 days to change.  It was magnificent because my biggest goal when I started this game was to find a home for my family and yesterday I signed the escrow papers for our new home!  I didn’t even realize this fantastic gift until today when I looked at the calendar and found that, not only am I done with this challenge, I had finished with such a huge goal achieved.

How did this challenge come about?  I had gone to church one Sunday (we are irregular, unfortunately).  Arjan, my eldest, had asked that we go to church.  He said it was time to go back.  Now, he’s 4 years old and when a 4-year-old tells you that it’s time to go to church…I’m thinking, especially now, that it’s God sending a message through a pure little spirit.  I didn’t mess around.  We went to one of the mega churches in Roseville.  I did get a message, two actually, while there that day.  One of them came in the form of a big banner that said “40 Days To Change Challenge!”  I’m sure it was more about the Bible and knowing God, however, I decided to take it and apply it to myself and my home.  I can’t remember the other message but this one pretty much changed my life so we will let the other go.

What inspired this challenge?  I had fallen into a sort of housewife blues.  I was working like crazy on my writing career for over a year and my home and family life was way out of balance.  I had also become depressed with house hunting and not having the funds, losing out on a couple homes, and just feeling hopeless.  My home was a mess, the money was a mess, I was tired all the time, we were eating a lot of frozen foods and drive thru.  My boys were watching way too much TV and I had stopped exercising completely.  I had hit a wall with everything!  I need to be snapped out of it and really motivated and inspired.

 

The house hunting was really getting me down.  We only had $30K in savings and, although it sounds good, it was pocket change when it comes to putting a down on a house these days.  Then I started working with this great lender and she handed me the reality that we only qualified for a $130K loan.  In today’s market where, even in Sacramento (once a very affordable area), homes are now starting at $350K to $500k.  And that is for an average home.  You can see where the depression started growing.  We had worked so hard and went without for so many years preparing for this moment.  The moment came and we were priced out of the market.  I was finding homes alright, but in ghettos, and they were still above our price range.

The Challenge.  I refused to be a victim.  One day I rose off that couch and looked about.  I was truly disgusted.  I began a new and better life right then and there for myself and my whole family right down to the dogs and Maggie, my beloved cat.

I decided to start practicing what I preach.  I write books about being frugal, homemaking, cooking from scratch, staying inspired.  I had gotten off track but no more.  I picked up the vacuum and my budgeting notebook, I turned off that TV and put the boys outside in the sandbox and sunshine, I brewed my coffee, put on my music and started making big plans.

First, to get my house scrubbed and organized again.  To get back to all my home cooking and up the vegetables and produce times three.  To get back to exercising every day for an hour.  To complete some of my unfinished novellas.  To find a house we could afford.  To understand the Bible and God a bit more.  To have way more play and fun.  To have way less TV and more outdoor time.  To have less work and more family and friend time.  To get our budget in order.  To find a balance between work and home.

What happened on the journey.  My list was pretty simple.  I got out the cleaning supplies, the budgeting notebook, the Bible.  I started making schedules and plans, setting goals and cutting cost.  What wound up happening was amazing.  What was accomplished in the end went beyond my goals.

Every day I would do a large and a small task and I would take the boys out to the park, an errand outside the house, or to the library.  We started ordering tons of books from the library again.   I didn’t take the boys out every single day, however, the days we didn’t go somewhere they would play out in our back yard all day.  As long as they get dirty and soak up the sun and air, I’m happy.

TV is minimal now.  The house is filled with good music most of the day.  The boys watch some educational PBS in the morning.  I enjoy Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen in the mornings with my coffee.  I’ve taken a liking to Creflo Dollar lately also.  As for the evenings, my husband’s diet of 2 hours of news has been reduced to half an hour and then we enjoy some comedy.  We both really enjoy The Big Bang Theory lately.

As for exercise, I got back onto my tread climber and almost daily I read, sweat, and put in an hour.  I don’t work out every single day.  We traveled a bit and I had appointments.  But it was at least 4 to 6 days a week.  I haven’t lost even an ounce but I do feel great.  I feel energetic during the day and deliciously tired at night.  My body feels good and strong and I’m much happier.  Exercise will do that.

Our diet is fabulous again.  I am back to making everything from scratch, we eat tons of produce morning, noon, and night.  We have had some drive thru (Taco Bell of course) and I have done some convenience food.  I love Annie’s mac and cheese, however, we will have organic green beans, salad, and some chicken with that.  We have a salad daily, twice a day at times and we have 1 to 5 vegetables with lunch and dinner.  Breakfast has a lot of fruit.  We snack on avocados, apples, carrots, mangos.  We are down to eating one chicken a week and that is the only meat.  We are maybe 60 percent vegetarian through the week.  I don’t want to be vegetarian completely but I feel better eating a minimal amount.  Our diet is tons of produce, yogurt, chicken, bread, brown rice, beans, eggs, potatoes, and coffee, of course.  Everything listed is homemade.

I find my cooking is getting much better, more flavorful lately.  We are all feeling and looking good.  What a difference healthy and homemade makes.

I sat down and made out a monthly budget.  I found the best way to get finances under control is to stop spending.  I did not get this book but I did read this woman’s blog and I like her ideas.  I was going to buy the book and then decided to save the coinage and start the NO spending.

I usually do get books when I need inspiration but the books have to be through the library.  Or I look up blogs of women that get me motivated.

Anyway, the best way to get your money in order is to stop all spending.  So, I pay the rent, the utilities, some gas and grocery money and that is it.  I got the groceries down to around $400-$600 with all the cooking from scratch and not buying extras.  No junk food, convenience food…nada.

Then the tax refund came and I paid off all the little debts that just happen, the tread climber, my editor, my credit card (it was a secured card but the bank “rewarded” me by turning it into a regular credit card and kept increasing the limit until I called and ask them to stop).  I paid it all off.  Little debts and extra bills can really cause issues.  They start to choke the budget as a little patch of weeds can get out of control in a garden very fast if not pulled and cleaned out.

I then created a household savings account linked to the family checking account and put a $1,000 in that account.  Our big savings in another bank altogether so we can’t touch it.  I filled up Bali’s secured card.  With the remaining money, I stocked up our kitchen pantry and bathroom toiletries cabinet.  I used a small amount to buy gifts for friends and family and for us to have some fun at the thrift store.

All my accounts are full now and we are very comfortable.

Now, the house.  We couldn’t afford a house in our area so I moved South.  The town my husband works in is small, sweet, and affordable.  Still, couldn’t afford it.  Then I started studying foreclosures.  The problem with foreclosures is that there is usually so much damage that it won’t qualify for a conventional or FHA loan.  But HUD houses do!  They are kept up to state standards of good repair and will qualify for all kinds of loans.  I just happened to read about this and then low and behold…I drove past a HUD house for sale in a nice and tidy little neighborhood.  It was $135K.  Bingo.  I put an offer on it and the bidding started.  By midnight no one else had bid and we won.

Long story short, we now own a little 1941 house that needs some work but has good bones.  The closing cost was far lower than predicted and we will have enough to hire the carpenter, plumber, electrician, installation company, and buy all the supplies with money to spare.

I continue to be as frugal as my great, great grandmother.  I love having plenty of money in the bank and not sweat the bills.  I have grown fond of this way of living and I now set aside some money monthly to do a little thrift store fun, go to the movies, or out to eat.  I even do these things frugally as in dining at two for one deals or a buffet like the Golden Corral.  Movies are something I brought back to my life after years of not going to a theater.  I can get half off on the ticket and popcorn on Tuesdays with my new Regency card.  I get free Starbucks cards through my bank when I use my credit card.

Then I started working on my self-esteem.  I feel pretty good but I’ve had a lifelong struggle with the weight.  I don’t know if it will be leaving in this lifetime so I decided to look my best as is.  I finally went clothes shopping at one of the best thrift stores where the wealthy dump their clothes.  I created a new wardrobe that I love.  I also purchased all kinds of new makeup (I’ve been wearing only mascara for years), hair dye, and I actually bought myself two new pairs of great Sketcher shoes!  This is all big.  I haven’t had new shoes in 8 years.  I say no to thrift store shoes, I believe they cause body issues, back issues.  Don’t do it.

I also decided that from now on I purchase quality only.  That goes for clothes, shoes, household items.  I started by buying really great, high thread, long lasting sheets at this thrift store.  I found Calvin Klien and Bed and Bath items.  No more shabby things or cheap stuff that falls apart easily.  If you really take the time you can get great pieces of furniture, sheets, and outfits at thrift stores.  I shop in the towns were the wealthy bay area people live.  The rich tire of their goods quickly.

Last of all but the most important and the most unexpected part.  I grew my relationship with God in an incredible way.  It started with an advertisement to The Shack, then I saw a trailer for a movie called The Case for Christ. My interest was peaked.  I ordered the book The Case for Christ and wound up with Lee Strobel’s book The Case for the Real Jesus.  I’m sure now that God decided that I should start with that book.  Why?  Because I didn’t order that book from the library…at least I didn’t mean to.  But that came and it led to me reading The Case for the Creator.  I then took myself to the movies and watched The Shack and cried for two days.  I knew that God was talking to me and it was an incredible feeling when the supernatural comes into your life.

I have purchased The Everyday Life Bible with Joyce Meyers and I read it daily.  I once upon a time looked on the Bible with suspicion and disdain.  I find comfort in it now.  I don’t understand it all and I never will.  I’m ok with that now.  I love connecting with God daily through the written Word.  I am currently reading The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel.  I have to say that I came into this riding the fence.  I didn’t like the Bible, I was sure Jesus was just a prophet, and God was just this Universal energy to be bent with positive thoughts and the art of manifesting.

Oh, how different my thinking is now.  I have always had a love of Jesus and felt His presence in my life for the last decade, however, now that my eyes and heart are being opened in all matters and I continue my research and learning, my love and respect grows.  I feel my relationship with God changing profoundly.  I see myself and my life blossoming in all these miraculous ways, I feel so good, I feel protected, provided for, guided, and I feel an unseen presence taking root in my heart and my life.  I laugh deeply and cry heartily almost daily and I love it!  I may seem a bit unbalanced to the outsider’s observance but I feel more sane and happy than ever in my life.  I have an anchor in the storm at last.  I know where I belong.  I have decided to turn my life completely to the Christian life without further question.

And so, I have my mug of coffee in hand and I watch my Joel, Joyce, Creflo…whatever is on at that time.  I read my big, pink bible and I continue on this fantastic journey.

Life has improved vastly in the 40 days.  Finances are good, the house purchased, kids sun-kissed, music replacing media, we are all eating our veggies and getting daily exercise, I love God and have a growing relationship with Christ…

The books and my writing career…almost forgot.  I accomplished a lot in this area as well.  With the books that I’ve already published, I stopped being cheap but remained frugal.  I used to do all my own editing, proofreading and I’d create book covers from Amazons free cover creator.  I have been selling my books on a larger scale now and with that, I’ve also been receiving ratings and reviews.  I’m pleased with all the reviews.  Some are great and ego boosting and some provide much needed criticism which I then use to improve.

One criticism I have been receiving is in regards to my proofreading and typos.  So, I stopped being so very cheap and I hired a friend who does editing to proofread and edit all my books.  I sent every book to her.  Fortunately, she is kind and knows I’m still a struggling artist and is charging me a fraction of what she should be charging.  I also found this great website that offers two for one ebook covers and if I do a coupon for $75 with the combined two for one I can get four book covers!  Yay!  Probably not yay for James, the cover maker, but it’s great for my wallet.

I have put new and store bought covers on ALL my books and had them ALL edited.  My sales have increased.  It gives your books more of a reputable standing when they look polished and as though the author spent some time and money on them.  I have also changed my blog.  I was weary of putting real family photos up but I realized people want to connect to the blogger.  I have changed my format and add a combination of personal photos and free photos off the internet.  My traffic has doubled and my views quadrupled and beyond.  It helps that I’m writing more from the heart than ever.

I have not worked on my fiction books at all.  I have one book half written and two books started.  I cannot even begin to focus on writing at this time.  That will be another challenge.

The novella writing challenge!  Challenges are what keep me motivated.  I hope this blog has inspired and motivated some of you out there.

How a family of four lives well on one income.

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When I found out I was pregnant with my first son I was thrilled and older than most new mothers.  I was 41 years old and had been working very hard since I could remember.  My husband and I knew that I would quit work and become a housewife when the baby came.  I didn’t want anyone raising my baby or enjoying all the firsts; first word, first steps, the first time he babbled incoherently or held his spoon.  I wanted to enjoy every little, chubby, yummy, gooey, babbly moment.  I had worked harder than a horse all my life and was ready to retire to the home and hearth with tots in tow.

Now, we were prepared for this moment in a few crucial ways.  We had no debt, no credit cards, and only one car that was paid for.  I had paid off a ton of debt over the years by living on a shoestring budget and working 2 and 3 jobs.  It was worth it in the end.

Without the stress and added burden of debt and car payments, dropping that second income didn’t hurt at all.  The other step we took to prepare for this lifestyle change was to save all my paychecks for the 8 months I was still working.  We built up a big savings fund quickly.

I then quit the job and began my life as homemaker and mother.  My husband had a good job at that time and we had a roommate who paid a nice chunk of the rent.  We were living very well.  But life comes in cycles and there is always a time to harvest or to sow….or become unemployed.  For many soap opera story reasons, the station wound up in the wrong hands and had to be closed.  We lived in a tiny coastal town with very little employment and my poor husband was without a job and a new wife and new baby to look after.

I built a little daycare and wound up with a family of 4 children.  It was enough to pay the rent and bills and food.  The daycare was a great way of having my own business, being with my son, and paying bills.  They even had food programs to reimburse you for the meals for the children.  This got us by for some time.  Then my husband was contacted by an old village friend (he’s Indian) and ask to come manage his business.

Off we moved to the tiny town of Walnut Grove and into a ranch house on the Delta river.  The job turned out to be more of a cashier job with Bali making a bit more than minimum wage and working long hours.  I became pregnant with our second and last son.  I was prepared to do another daycare but instead, I found a book called The Complete TightWad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.  What a life changer!  Everyone who reads it says the same thing.  This book is loaded with advice from woman all over the US and advice that has been passed down from grandmothers and great-grandmothers that lived through real depressions before there was such a thing as government assistance.

I began reading everything I could find on being frugal and thrifty living.  I began hanging my clothes on the line outside that had probably been there for 50 years.  I picked the fruit that was growing on the farm (we lived on a pear and cherry orchard with all sorts of other fruit that the past families had planted in the yards).  I started cooking everything from scratch and baking my own bread.  I started envelopes for our monthly grocery budget and other bills.  All the toys and clothes, pretty much anything we needed I would get at the GoodWill or other thrift stores in the big towns 30 miles away.  I began cutting my son’s hair and my own.  I reused and recycled everything and used what I had.  I began making my own laundry detergent and even purchased a sewing machine (I have yet to master).  I canceled cable and we used an antenna.  Out on the Delta, you get great reception.

The next step we took was to downsize further.  We found a small house in the city and cut our cost $600 or more a month.  I was able to walk with the boys to parks, libraries, and stores.  We have had a lot of fun living in a small part of the city and we have more money to be flexible with.  I even planted a strawberry patch when I saw the strawberries were $11 a pack offseason for organic.

We lived well and I never had to open another daycare.  Thank goodness because two little boys require a lot of focus.  We had some more employment shifts before we got to a great place.  Bali is now reunited with a boss that he really loved working for and is managing his own little and charming gas station.  Yes, gas stations can be charming if you have a wife help you decorate and gussy it up with flowers and a woman’s touch.

We are doing well now.  Well, we make 44,000 a year and I realize that this would have been a decent living in the 80’s.  I really feel that what is making it so hard for people to make it these days are the horrific rents and housing prices.  It is all about greed and money.  We have a decent rent now but I have seen the rents go up $200 to $500 in the last year.  It’s criminal really.  I don’t have many suggestions for this except to look at downsizing the house or apartment to what you really need.  Get a roommate or convert the garage to an apartment to bring in extra money.

Don’t overlook those working class neighborhoods.  We live in an area that is supposed to be “rough” and I love it here.  Yes, we have graffiti now and then.  But we have great parks and a beautiful library.  The people around us are kind and friendly.  Try moving to another town or out of town.

Right now we are facing the challenge of buying our own home in this market.  We have very little to work with.  I have decided to move to a smaller town out some.  This town is not close to the bay area so the commuters haven’t invaded it yet and pushed prices up.  It is a little rusty and dusty but what we can afford and we just may love it there.

Until then, we just keep finding ways to save money and enjoy life simply.

 

 

 

 

40 Days to Change.

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One Sunday, not too far back, I attended a church service.  My son had suggested that we go and, being that he is not even five years old, I went simple out of the sense that higher powers were sending a message through my son.  That is how the Universe works after all.  You never get direct and clear guidance, you get a riddle that comes through a person, place or thing.  During the service, there was a banner that said, “40 days to change”.  I liked it.  Of course, it was more about Christianity and the message of the bible but I’m an opportunist and I decided to put my own spin on it.

40 days can be used to inspire all kinds of change.  People do 30-day challenges all the time to jump start a new direction in their lives.  It was time for a change and why not give yourself a full 40 days to get to the finish line.

 

Here are the challenges that I’d like to meet; optimizing my families health, getting sugar completely out of our diet, having more fun, being active daily.  For my own personal goals, I want to focus on my writing.  I want to have the books that are already out there shine and to build a big fiction library under my pen name.  I want success with my writing, with my families well being, for my well being.

I can start a program that will be outlined through the 40 days, however, these are goals that will only be integrated during this period and then continued for a lifetime. That’s the hard part and the fun part.  Finding what works for you and the family, finding things that you all will enjoy to infinite.

Day 1 began yesterday.  It started with the books I already have and our diet. I also had to adjust our budget so we can start living a bit better and having some fun.

First I must explain that we live on one income and it’s been very small for years.  Only recently has my husband taken over the management of a small gas station and is doing well, thus our income has increased.  With our tax refund, we paid off a couple little debts.  Our income is larger and more flexible now.  We are still in that extreme frugal mode and it has become a drag, to be honest.  Bali wants to take all the extra money and save like crazy.  I agree with this and I also want us to all eat better, as in green juicing and more organics, and I want to travel to be with friends and family.  We need some fun with that savings regime.

So, I will need to create a new budget.  That will be on Day 3.

So, we will focus on diet.  I have been experimenting with Paleo but I missed baking bread and I found it boring.  Then I went crazy and wound up going off it by practically shooting up bread and chocolate.  I made myself sick and now I’m at the drawing board again.  I have decided to mix a few ways of eating.  Paleo is great and I saw the benefits for me and my family,  however, it’s also not super realistic in the long run for us.  We like homemade baked bread and beans and rice.  We love our homemade french fries.  So, what am I really trying to accomplish here?  Getting rid of the sugar and more vegetables.  This is doable.  Cooking from scratch is what I love doing and it is the best way to get the sugar out.  If you don’t eat convenience foods you don’t eat chemicals and sugar.  Getting my kids on more veggies.  Juicing!  I love juicing and they love drinking it.  Then there is the coffee.  I have to let it go for now.  There is nothing wrong with it except that I must have honey or sugar and lots of cream in it.

Last night I began cleaning my kitchen deeply and organizing all the cupboards.  I didn’t throw anything away, I just put certain foods and baking supplies up on higher shelves.  We aren’t going extreme this time because I always act out.  Cake stuff went on top shelves and dried beans went in jars on the counter.  If a cake day happens, so be it.  There is a comfort in knowing that there is cake mix or a box of macaroni and cheese in the cupboard.  When you strip out your kitchen you feel like your life has been changed so drastically and that is when the freak out happens and you find your face planted in a cake.

I ask Bali to bring home some tea and veggies for juicing and he brought home bags of organic vegetables, greens, lemons, apples, ginger, and all sorts of teas and natural Stevia.  I scrubbed the teapot and washed and stored the coffee pot.  Out came the juicer onto the counter.  By the time I went to bed my kitchen was scrubbed and organized like a cafe.  A natural foods cafe.

I have also switched the cat and dogs off the cheap food and to Taste of the Wild.  That is expensive but grain free and some of the best stuff.  My dogs are sensitive and the sweet potatoes used in the cheap grain free brands gives the hound hot spots and the rice in the other brands was making them itch.  I switched back to this good brand and this is the second day.  No itching.  Maggie, the cat, has also been switched to Taste of the Wild for felines and she has stopped itching.  She also has firmer stools now and isn’t as frantic to get out the door when that moment comes upon her.

Today I made a huge batch of green juice with 4 types of greens, apples, lemons, carrots, celery, ginger, and beets.  I had a quart and the boys drank 3 cups.  I have black beans soaking from last night and now they are simmering with garlic and salt.  I have brown rice steaming in the rice cooker.  I will be baking bread today and steaming veggies to go with our burritos along with an organic chicken I baked the other day and have already used for 3 meals.

When we cut out the snacks, even pretzels, and any kind of eating out, especially the occasional dollar menu at Taco Bell, we have that extra money to exchange for more organic greens and fruit.  I find that my children will eat much better, they will eat the plate of vegetables and bowls of beans if they don’t have the choice of crackers.  They get a huge dose of vitamins with the green juices in the mornings and the day starts out powerfully in the health department.

As for me, I am on my second cup of tea and I’m not suffering.  I like the idea of tea.  I can drink cup after cup all day and not feel nervous and shaky when I’ve accidentally had one cup too much.  I can feel my poor little liver thanking me.

Now for the books and writing.  Yesterday I took some of the tax refund money and bought more nice book covers for my ebooks.  There is something about having a purchased cover that ups sales.  I also sent the last of my books to my friend the editor.  She is kind in not charging me a full price yet as I only make a .35 cent royalty on my books.  I’m only beginning to do well and it is literally enough for tea, covers, and a little editing work.  As my books grow in popularity so do the ratings and this phantom person, I call “The Professor”.  It’s always someone different but each and every book that starts to do well will eventually get a visit and a rating from “The Professor” who will say that he/she would have given me the full 5 stars but my typos and grammatical errors kept me out of the top list.

It’s time to spend that extra money and get professional about all this book business.  When I started it was all just fun and a dollar here and there.  I couldn’t afford a dime.  I did free covers and did my own editing.  I sold a book a week.  Now I sell 11 to 16 a day.  I have to step it up.  I am having all my books recovered and edited professionally and I can still do it on a budget.  I go to the friend that gives me a deal for proofreading and I buy covers from James from GoOnWrite.com who has a section of two for one.  I get the $75 discount on two books but then select from the two for one.  I get 4 covers for the price of two!  I’m still frugal people!

With my fiction, I just need to sit and write.  And write fast.  No thinking.  Just write.  When you get into a rhythm and in tune with your characters and story,  you will know when you are going the wrong way or creating the character in a way that doesn’t work.  You “feel” your story.  You can’t think about pleasing others or if this story will get those stars and good reviews.  Just remember that there are readers for all and any kind of books.  You will find your readers.  And you will have your very own group of them.  You will also have your very own set of critics.  God bless them.  Once you have fans and critics you will know that you’re making it.

With blogging, that’s still just fun but I have found better photos and a better background.

Today is Day 2.

Today I’m baking homemade bread and simmering homemade beans.  I’m going to tackle a room a day.  Yesterday was the kitchen.  Today is my closet.  I’ll get rid of the frumpy clothes.  I’ve purchased a little makeup.  I miss wearing more than mascara and it boosts my looks and esteem when I go out.

Another part of the 40 days challenge is getting me to my best inside and out.  Focusing on daily meditation.  Creating a more attractive wardrobe where I don’t look like a slob when I’m out shopping for groceries.  Going back to wearing nice makeup and coloring my hair.  I have slacked on the exercise so that will become daily again.  Getting the sugar and junk out of my diet.

I had a family reunion recently and my aunt gave me some old photos.  I was not that chubby as I always thought.  It was the sugar and chronic dieting that got me to a larger and not so fabulous state.  I’m not looking to lose a grand amount, I am looking to lose a good 30 lbs and have clear, glowing skin and shiny hair.  I am looking to have a great and simple wardrobe and always present myself to the public looking bright and pretty.  I want to look my absolute best at all my ages.  I have young sons and I’m an older mother and they can still be proud of me.  I can be proud of me.  That starts with self-care.

The journey begins.  We are off to a good start.

 

 

How to climb up out of poverty and addiction.

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Some of you who come across this write-up will not do it by coincidence, just as I did not write this by coincidence.  There is no such thing as coincidence, bad luck, good luck, or happenstance.  Everything has meaning, everything has a reason, and it is all of our creation.  Choices we made years ago may still be affecting us today, the feelings and thoughts we marinate in today will create our tomorrow.  You called this in to your experience today.

If you are struggling with hard times…financially and emotionally (because they go hand in hand), if you have more bills than a paycheck, big debt, and other dark times…I’m here to help!  I’ve got some great advice that I have used to pull myself up out of poverty, debt, and bad, bad habits.

First, know this; all this will pass.  You will not be here forever, the debt will go, the hard times will pass into more golden times, life is about to get easier and better.  I promise!  But…and here is the but, you have to be willing and surrender to the process.  Willing to do whatever you need to do to change your circumstances and surrender to whatever happens in the journey to get you from darkness to light.

There is a saying in the AA fellowship, “All you have to change is everything”.  There is also another saying, “You can’t change your situation from the same mindset that got you here in the first place” (not really word for word but you get the idea).

If you are in the crap hole of life and you want out…you will have to work from the inside out and outside in.  Your actions and your thinking got you here, so you will have to reinvent yourself.  How exciting and fun right?!  Yes, it is scary, but it is easier than you think and it will get easier with each step.

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Creating abundance for the future:

So, how do we start the climb?  Here are some ways to start fixing things from the outside and inside.

  • Take a good look at where you are financially and start finding ways to cut cost in big ways.  Move to a smaller home, get rid of cable, get rid of the car and bike or walk everywhere, reduce the cell bill, start finding ways to reduce the electric and water bills.
  • STOP going out, period.  Make all food and coffee from home.
  • Find every book on being frugal and use every tip.  Queen of Penny Pinching is my book and I have every bit of advice and tips that I had researched and read for years, along with my own practices.  I will teach you every frugal and thrifty tip and way to get out of debt, live on a tiny budget, and I will point you to other books and resources to help you in big ways.  I give away a free ebook at the beginning of each month so just look and you can get all kinds of great books of mine with tons of advice.
  • Start growing your own food.  Even if you have a patio you can grow buckets and pots of herbs and food.  Even some fruit and lemon trees grow in barrels.  Be creative.
  • Look up Dave Ramsey online for advice on getting out of big debt.
  • The Complete Tightwad Gazette was my frugal bible for years.  You can get it at the library.
  • Love the library.  You will never have to buy a book again.
  • Consider homeschooling.  It can be an amazing experience for the whole family and can be free if you utilize the library and internet.
  • There are all kinds of programs to help with food, shelter, college, free internet, discounts on electricity and gas.  Do some research to see what assistance you can get.  If you are in dire straights, get the help to help you up and out of the situation.
  • College can be free.  There are BOG fee waivers for free classes and financial aid for the books that you don’t pay back.  Go back to school to learn a new skill.  You don’t have to get a Masters, you could do a secretary program, dental assisting, mechanic, computer training, and all kinds of trades that take less than a year but will improve your life.
  • If you have an addiction or bad habit…overcome it.  Find AA meetings and support to heal and get sober.  Find a Church.  Get a community that is improving themselves.  You can NOT get out of poverty or a shitty situation if you use drugs and booze.  You must be clear and present.
  • Join a Church or Spiritual Center.  These people are loving God, living wholesome lives, are sober, and many of them are also working toward getting out of debt, overcoming addictions, and improving their lives. You need a support, a community of people that will show you the way and carry you when you need it.
  • Work toward moving up in your job or getting a better one.  Take classes or whatever you need to do.
  • Start working on your mind.  Get into huge gratitude, learn to be positive no matter what, and heal yourself.  I would suggest the Bible, Law of Attraction teachings such as Abraham with Esther Hicks, Tony Robbins, Florence Scovel Shinn, Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteen.  You can get it all free on the internet and Joyce and Joel are on TV.
  • Get negative people out of your life.  People that are doing drugs, drinking too much, angry, creating drama.  Act like they have the Black Plague.  For your spirit they do.
  • Find new and positive friends that are working hard on their lives to make them shine.
  • Believe in yourself.  Give yourself full respect, love, and honor your feelings.  If it doesn’t feel good go.  If it feels good stay.
  • Eat healthily and get rid of all the junk food.  Cook from scratch to get nutritious food and save money.
  • Exercise daily.  This will improve the mind, body, and spirit vastly.  It can be free.  Walk or do exercise on the internet for free.
  • Simplify your life.  Spend time alone if you need to for awhile.

This is a long list and simplified.  There is so much that goes into healing and righting the mind and changing your life.  You will need to do a lot of reading and research.  Think of it as the college of your life.  Jump in with both feet and get to work with all the diligence you can muster.  It takes some time to get a rhythm and start to see change and improvement and then it is like a domino effect.  Once the train gets going you become unstoppable.

Just don’t give up.

Many Blessings!

Queen of Sober: Getting Through the First Year by [Singh, Kate]

 

The magic of cleaning, uncluttering, and tidying.

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I have been reading this delightful little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  She is a professional tidy upper.  She has a waiting list of clients that is months long.  I agree with almost  (almost) everything she says about cleaning out that house.

She talks about the magic and transformation that comes with cleaning out the clutter.  Now, I’m going  to go on my own little inspirational speech and recommendations for doing such work quickly and easily, but I have gotten a lot of new little ideas from our new friend Marie.

WHY DECLUTTER 

Clutter makes our homes look like shit.  We are embarrassed to have people over.  Clutter confuses us, it wastes hours to “find” that shirt or that paper.  It holds us back and it holds us down.  It keeps us in a holding pattern.  We are always busy “getting to that pile” or “organizing that room”.

We could be outside playing or taking  a long walk listening to the bird’s chatter.  We could be pondering a new career and starting the steps to study and learn about that career.  But instead we are sitting in a room immobilized by the filth and clutter (I know this may be extreme) and we are trying to motivate to finally tackle it…and we sit and stare.  We’ve done this for months.

MAKE A DATE

No more!  You set a day aside.  Marie Kondo calls it a “special event”.  I agree.  Don’t drag this silliness out for days, months, a year.  We need to see immediate and huge results to get inspired and make lasting changes.  We also need to NOT give ourselves time to think.  We need to DO!  Clear your calendar for a weekend or just a day sister (or brother), we are going in!!!

  1. Get a friend that is hardcore and will rip that old 80’s sweater from your claws if she needs to.  Someone that is a neat freak and will get in there and help load those bags up and keep you moving.  Less talk, more action, less sentiment, more detachment.
  2. Start early, brew a big pot of coffee (you’ll need it), turn up the radio (not too loud, the neighbors are still sleeping).
  3. Have piles, bags, boxes.  There will be the give away pile.  This stuff goes to thrift stores, dog shelters and people shelters.  The next is garbage, stuff no one will want.  Next is stuff that can be salvaged with sewing and such (but only if you are REALLY going to do it.  If you have been saying you were going to do it for months…forget it!  You had your chance)
  4. You are only going to keep what you love and brings you a smile, joy, happiness…you get it.  Start with big stuff and go down to small.  Furniture first, throw pillows, rugs, wall hangings.  Then move to books, DVD’s, CD’s.  Then clothes, linens, towels.
  5. Now you go the cabinets  and then the drawers in the bathrooms and last the kitchen.  Get rid of all expired medicines and old make-up, lotions and such.
  6. For the kitchen,  you get rid of old foods and seasonings, expired stuff, and even foods your family doesn’t eat.  The food bank will welcome you.
  7. Now clean out your desk and computer.  File everything.  Go to the store and buy files if you need to.
  8. Last is the sentimental stuff.  Photos and mementos.  Don’t keep junk and don’t keep photos you don’t like of yourself or that make you sad.  Don’t keep photos of the back of someone’s head or 50 pictures of the desert.

When you want to hesitate, think about all the people, children, and dogs out there that really could use this stuff and will be so grateful for all the blankets, clothes, toys, and food that you are just stuffing in closets and  drawers.

Make the uncluttering  huge and extreme.  You won’t go into shock.  You will actually sit back and feel like you can breathe for the first time in ages.  You will be able to enjoy all the clothes you forgot you had because they were buried with all the junky clothes.  You’ll start using new spices because they are no longer hidden behind the old herbs you never used.  You’ll read the books you forgot behind the stack of old textbooks from college.

You will also be able to move forward in your life and do things you want to do.  Clutter and filth have such a big impact on us.  We don’t realize it until we clear it out and do a good scrubbing.  It’s therapeutic.  The Bible talks about cleanliness.  The Bible is all about getting our minds right and righting our lives. When we clean we reset our thoughts.  We work through life’s issues as we scrub and take out the garbage.

With our house clean, spacious, and in order we can think clearly and we are motivated to do other things.

I have done huge decluttering.  One of the biggest was when my mother past.  She was a packrat (not as bad as the Buried Alive people, but bad).  If my mother had only allowed the clearing and cleaning out,she would have enjoyed such a great house while she was living.  The difference it made to her house was astounding.

People are comforted surrounded by their  belongings.  I get it.  I’m not extreme and I love my things.  You can have cozy things and colorful delights filling your home but do away with clutter and messiness.  It’s a balance and I believe the biggest advice that I got from Marie Kondo was to keep only what makes you happy.  When you are surrounded by what brings you joy in your home, you are more likely to go out and find more of what brings you joy in this world.

I have a new book on the way that goes into all this and more on creating an amazing home and life for the family.  Stay tuned!