Monday, March 30, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity...Tracy & Kimberly's Journey!

(WARNING...this is a long post...sorry)
Books that changed our life!

Little did I know it when I purchased this book over 16 years ago that I was planting seeds that would help Tracy and accept and embrace
"voluntary simplicity".
What does that even mean? Stay tuned!
Well, 10 years ago Tracy and I unknowingly embarked on a journey that has forever changed our thinking and our lives!!

Without going into boring detail, I'll just say, Tracy and I are children of the eighties in terms of obsessing over "stuff" and materialism in general. Our relationship with "things" and money was much different 20 years ago than it is now. As a result, we've owned a LOT of stuff and spent a LOT of money on it over the years. We've owned motorcycles, boats, SUV's, stereo equipment, TVs, lots of pretty furniture, clothes, clothes, clothes, shoes, shoes, shoes... you get the picture!

Along the way we took a different path and had no idea how significantly this journey would change us and mold us into different people.
Thankfully, it is a journey Tracy and I took TOGETHER.
As Robert Frost would have said:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and we took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference"
There is far more to this journey than I could really explain in a Blog but I'll hit some of the the high points because I want you fellow bloggers, friends, family and neighbors to have at least a cursory understanding of who I am and who I've become so you will have a better understanding of where I am coming from when I Blog about the things I Blog about.

I have a favorite T-shirt with the word "Different" in gold lettering on it. This shirt sums me up so well. I look around at how other people choose to spend money and time and realize how very differently Tracy and I think compared to most.
For some reason Tracy was really fascinated with lightweight and to some degree ultra-lightweight backpacking and about 10 years ago he started doing some serious research on this topic and even joined some Internet discussion groups devoted to lightweight backpacking.
Over time he learned a lot and even became of serious contributor of knowledge to newcomers. By employing these lightweight principles Tracy discovered it is easier to really "enjoy the journey" (of backpacking). Rather than slogging down the trail stumbling along in heavy boots, you can bounce along the trail in comfortable approach shoes with your head up taking in the beauty along the way.

It was fun and intriguing to him that you could significantly cut down on the weight of the pack without seriously affecting the comfort and safety of the backpacking trip (if you learned how to do it properly).
He also learned this type of backpacking represents the "road less traveled". Most backpackers out there have not discovered,the greatest luxury you can take with you, is a light backpack. They crave all of their "stuff".

A funny thing happened as this learning experience unfolded... Tracy began to realize many of these principles apply to LIFE itself! Being weighed down with stuff and bills and slaving away to earn more and more money to buy more and more stuff was NOT truly helping us "find joy in the journey".
At the heart of it, this change in thinking (some call it voluntary simplicity) is all about making the most of TIME.

Benjamin Franklin said it well:
“Dost thou love life?
Then do not squander time,
for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
One day while browsing one of Tracy's discussion groups he noticed a frequent contributor who went by the moniker "lessizmore". Tracy assumed his name was "Les Sizmore"....after Tracy kept referring to him as "Les" he finally explained it simply meant "Less is more"! During the ensuing conversations they had, Tracy started to wrap his mind around this "Less is more" concept. Like I said, there's a lot more to this life changing saga, but this post is merely an introduction to it.
we go to our jobs we exchange time for money so really money at the core represents our "life energy". This is a philosophy explained really well in The following book which Tracy and I highly recommend.
"Your Money or Your Life"
by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

"Your Money or Your Life" was the first book we read after this new mindset we were having, but the following are some other books we highly recommend as complements to it.
"The Simple Living Guide"
by Janet Luhrs

It took us about 2 years to read these books and shortly after these books were finished we purchased and read the following books:
"Simplify your Life"
by Elaine St. James

"Living the Simple Life"
by Elaine St. James

"America's Cheapest Family
by Steve and Annette Economides

And then while on one of our weekly Friday night dates I purchased the following book:
"Frugal Living for Dummies"
by Deborah Taylor-Hough

Tracy and I LOVED everything that we were reading in these books and slowly, things started changing in our minds as far as the way that we were spending money and actually our attitude about money and "Stuff" in general.

We learned from these books to really evaluate the money that we are spending, because remember; when you spend money you are giving up a portion of your life and is it worth it?
You essentially have to give up part of your life to go and earn the money to buy that item, not to mention the hassles of taking care of the item and other associated obligations. When you buy an item you really have to ask the question....
"Will this simplify or complicate my life"?
We really think hard before purchasing things nowadays. And by the time we figure out how much of our life we have to work to make the money to pay for the item we most of the time decide it's not worth the price.
This has not been a passing fancy in Tracy's and my life. I'm not proud to admit it, but like many, we used the equity in our house like a "cash register" to stay afloat during "hard times" (serious medical bills, car repairs, etc...). Had we been more responsible with our money prior to these "minor financial emergencies" we wouldn't have needed to. So seeing our debt rise and rise and rise finally caused "alarm bells" to really go off in our minds and "BINGO" we decided serious changes were in order.
Several years have gone by now and we have learned to "Enjoy" living frugally...We LOVE it! It helps us be thankful for the things that REALLY matter in life and gives us a craving for the things we really want and to not be bothered that we aren't spending money "as the Joneses do".

It's a countdown for us. We've gone from debt that made our eyes pop out of our heads, (when we really admitted this is where we were), to watching our debt literally "Melt away". We don't make a lot of money, yet using these principles we've learned, we've been able to pay off a LARGE percentage of our debt and get "more joy out of life" by "embracing simplicity!
(Albeit, soaking beans and baking home made bread and things from scratch is something that I have always done from the start of our marriage)
This journey we have taken is making it possible for us to be FREE from debt in 4 years and 7 months (this includes our home).
What this means less than 5 years we will be able to live comfortably off my part-time income and put 100% of Tracy's full-time income into our "nest egg" so we can have endless amounts of TIME to give to the things that really matter most in life to us...Family and Friends and ourselves!
(for all of you who made it through this Post...
"Thank you", I appreciate your patience and friendship
and just know this is a once in Kimmie Blog post and you won't have to deal with another LONG post from me again. (wink)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Sunshine for the Soul...Sunday"!

So, anyone who knows me knows that I am a lover of inspirational quotes AND over the past 6 years we have had many great family adventures and taken some really great photos with our digital camera and so I thought I would combine great photos and quotes for a nice Sunday post each week and call it...
"Sunshine for the Soul...Sunday"!
I hope these inspire others as much as they inspire me!
As I was browsing through our family photos I came across this rainbow photo that we took after we had a late spring rainstorm. I love the dark ominous sky and shadows that are created by the bright sun that is shining through brightening everything up. The way the rainbow looks like our house is at the end of the rainbow, hence the quote.....
"Home... the true pot of gold
at the end of the rainbow"!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sweet Memories of Honey!

Oh, the memories of being a kid....

especially the treats we got when we visited grandpa and grandma's house.

Tracy and I
have such fond memories of going to our grandparents houses when we were young. I don't know what there was about it, but it was so much fun.

My grandma always made the best Honey Cookies. In fact, I loved them so much I always volunteered to go and mow her lawn every week because I knew that she would have honey cookies for me to eat with a glass of "Tang" when I was finished!
(I loved her "Tang" container...
it was a glass pitcher with orange slices going around it with an orange top).

Tracy and I both have fond memories of going to grandparents houses and getting fresh baked whole wheat bread or scones with fresh butter and honey or jam to spread on it. This was so yummy with a bowl of bottled peaches, pears or cherries they would dish up for us as well.

Oh, the "Simple Life"....I miss it!
Many of my "Sweet" childhoold memories involved
"honey" in some way or another!
Honey cookies, Honey Wheat bread and Honey candy.
(also, I grew up in a town with "Honey" in the name)
Anyway, I'm sad that my children will not have these same sweet memories as Tracy and I had (because it seems that going to grandpa and grandmas houses in this era of time means getting fruit snacks, their favorite candy bar, candy, pop and juice, etc....)
Don't get me wrong, their memories will be great, just different than the memories Tracy and I had and so I have tried to make as many "treats" from our past that we used to enjoy when we were younger so my kids can enjoy these yummy treats as well!


Honey Cookies are actually Tracy's favorite cookie...he would choose a honey cookie over a chocolate chip cookie anyday.

Honey Wheat Bread
is a treat to all us. Especially when Jade can put Honey Butter on it.

"Energy Balls" this is the favorite recipe that my kids have added to the mix...I honestly think if I made these every day they would never get sick of them.

And so, I am listing my 3 of my favorite honey recipes today!

"How Sweet every day can be
when a little Honey is drizzled on top of it"!
Light Honey Cookies
3 cups

1 teaspoon
baking soda

1 teaspoon

1/3 cup
REAL butter

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cups

1 teaspoon
lemon extract

together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Next beat in egg, honey, lemon extract and salt and soda.
Stir in flour 1/3 cup at a time blending well to make a stiff dough.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight OR at least 1 hour.
Roll out and cut into shapes.
Bake at 350
degress for 8-10 minutes.

Kids LOVE these cookies and they’re not too sweet.
My grandma had these cookies to eat every time we came to her house when I was a little girl.
Kimberly’s Homemade Bread
(our family’s staple)
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the following:
3 cups HOT tap water
1/3 cup

2 tsp
. Salt

Stir above ingredients until dissolved.
1 ½ Tbsp. SAF yeast (you HAVE to use this yeast… it is by far the best yeast you can get)

and 3 cups

Let sit until bubbly.
(about ½ hour)
Then add

1 more cup WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR and
2-3 cups
unbleached white flour (or enough to make a nice soft dough).

This recipe can also be made with ALL whole wheat flour—if you have “High Protein” wheat. If your wheat is low in protein you will need to use the “unbleached white flour” to make the loaves rise and not be so dense.

(you may also substitute 1 cup fresh ground oat flour for 1 of the cups of flour—this is exceptionally tasty)

dough in oil in another bowl.
Let rise until double. Shape into 2 or 3 loaves and let rise.
Bake at 350 degrees for 42 minutes.

This bread FREEZES well and is GREAT for toast, French toast and sandwiches.

Energy Balls
(my kids favorite...they would eat them everyday if I let them)
1 cup
peanut butter
3/4 cup DRY powdered milk
1/2 cup raw 

peanut butter and honey in large bowl.
Add milk a little at a time until mixture is firm.
Shape into many small balls.
(also yummy to add in coconut or chopped peanuts)

I keep these in a container in my fridge
and it is a great treat for my kids to "grab and go"
Great energy treats and they are not real bad for children***

Monday, March 23, 2009

Economcially, Delicious Chow Mein!

last week was a high energy week with 3 evenings of different birthday celebrations for Ethan, Young Men's for Jade, RS Birthday dinner, date night, weekend projects and getting concert tickets and church!!

So, I am glad life is now "back to normal"...
I didn't do much cooking
and I actually missed it!

We enjoyed
a wonderful Sunday dinner of homemade Chow Mein, which was very yummy, low fat and also very economical.
This was a wonderful meal to start off our week!

Chow Mein
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups cooked chopped meat (I use boneless, skinless chicken)
1 chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1-1/2 cups hot water
1 can bean sprouts
1 small can water chestnuts

Melt butter, add onions and cook 3 minutes.
celery salt, pepper and hot water, cover and cook 5 minutes.
Add bean sprouts, water chestnuts and meat. Cook for 5 minutes.

3 Tbsp. Water
3 Tbsp corn starch
1-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp sugar
Add slowly to rest and cook for 1 minute. Serve over brown rice (or fried rice). Also yummy with chow mein noodles.
How FRUGAL is this meal?
Bean sprouts--.79
Water Chestnuts--.59
Misc. sauce ingredients--.25
Chow mein noodles--.33

We fed 4 people 1 dinner
3 people 1 lunch!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Depeche we come!

So, Friday afternoon
Tracy called me and said: "Do you want to hear the good news first, OR, the REALLY good news first"?
I said: "Tell me the REALLY good news last"...
And Tracy answered: "Well actually, I only have really good news... Something we thought would languish on our "bucket list" is within grasp. DECHE MODE is going to be on tour this year and they are playing in SLC in August! Tickets are going on sale tomorrow at 10:00 am.
So, you can guess what Tracy and I did his morning...cranked up our stereo and listened to Depeche Mode and bought our tickets! Yay!
It's sad, but Tracy and I are basically "concert virgins". Neither of us has really taken the opportunity to go to live, loud, crazy, concerts (aside from old "has-been" groups that come to the state fair)
Depeche Mode is one of my all time favorite 80's groups (along with Pet Shop Boys and New Order) We have many of their albums and even bought their "Violator" album when we were on our honeymoon. I LOVE Depeche Mode! We have even created a "Depeche Mode" station on "Pandora"!
Anyway, we'll likely not become "concert junkies" anytime soon but we've just always wanted to see Depeche Mode LIVE before it's too late, so this is REALLY exciting!

I am SO excited...
August 25th

will be at a concert of one of my favorite music groups,
with my hubby, having the time of my life!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Joy of Children and Birthdays!!

7 years ago....
our little miracle Ethan arrived into our lives!
(Tracy snapped this photo after I was loaded onto the University of Utah's "Life Flight" fixed wing that flew to Rexburg, Idaho to pick me up and take me to U of U hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah)
(One of the sweet Life Flight nurses snapped this photo of Tracy and I...Tracy gave a "half-hearted" smile, but he was just a tadbit nervous and stressed at this moment in time...worried about his wifey and unborn child)
I was on bed rest with really bad "pre-eclampsia" and my body just could not take pregnancy one more day
(my blood pressure was at 228/133 stroke and heart attack level)
and so our little Ethan was born 9 weeks early
by emergency cesarean birth weighing in at 3 pounds!
But, he was a fighter and the nurses and hospital staff called him "Champ"!!
We actually got to take him home a month early because he did so well (he weighed 4 pounds 10 ounces when we brought him home) and my most favorite moment of all was that he took to nursing greatly and I was able to breast feed my little baby
and he loved it!!
From the moment we brought him home
he has filled our lives with an abundance of joy and excitement!!
And he grew and smiled LOTS!!

His First Birthday!

Very Sweet 1 year old!!

Full of Energy 2 year old!!

Ice cream loving 3 year old!!

Just plain adorable 4 year old!

Great helper to his parents 5 year old!

"Hot Wheel car loving 6 year old!!

TODAY (3-19-09)
our Indiana Jones Loving
Ethan Kip Celebrated his 7th Birthday!!

7 things I LOVE about Ethan
DETERMINATION---anything Ethan sets his mind to do he accomplishes! (Jade is quite a good little artist and Ethan couldn't stand that he couldn't draw as good as Jade and so every little piece of paper Ethan "doodles" on and he is getting to be quite good at drawing himself)
ENERGETIC---I can't believe how much energy he has. He runs AND jumps everywhere he goes!
INTELLIGENT---I can't believe how smart he is...he is getting A's in all of his classes and he is reading, writing and doing math so well. His mind is a "sponge"!
FUNNY---I love Ethan's sense of humor. He is always telling jokes and making us laugh (Tracy tells me if I want to know what he was like when his was little to take a look at Ethan--spitting image in action, mannerisms and looks).
HARD WORKING---I can't believe what a hard worker Ethan is. He faithfully does his chores everyday without having to be asked and is always going the extra mile in helping us out. I sure appreciate that so much.
LOVABLE---Ethan is just a lovable kid and he loves for you to tickle his back, his arms, his hair and I love to snuggle on the beanbag with him and read him books everyday. It's a treasured time for me!
HONEST---Ethan is meticulously honest and if something happens he always tells the truth (even when he knows he might get in trouble).
I sure love and I'm proud of my Ethan Kip!
And Ethan got his "dream cake"
and Indiana Jones Action figure!
(made with love by his mom Kimmie!)
(I found the idea here)
(I only used this as an Idea and I made up my own special chocolate cake, and frosting from scratch and I feel VERY lucky that I was able to find an Indiana Jones figurine We checked every store in Idaho Falls last weekend and finally at Fred Meyers on an end cap clearance we found this one.
I was feeling very lucky about that find.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Visitor!

This is going to be a quick post....
My kids and I have been watching a sweet little robin outside our window for the past week and it is always so quick and runs off before we can get the camera to snap a photo of it. Well, yesterday was our lucky day and we finally got a photo of it.

This sweet little robin has been eating the leftover berries/crabapples
on some of our trees.
I LOVE sweet little birds!
I LOVE Nature feeds my soul
and I can't wait to be able to be out in nature more!

This sweet little bird has now been hanging out in the tree in our front yard and there is a nest in the tree from last year and so I am wondering if we are going to be having another batch of baby robins in our yard.
(last year we had 2 robins that made nests in our trees and 2 batches of baby birds to watch and enjoy).
It was SO fun!!

Happy Spring!
This winter has drug on long enough...
The snow is finally melted
and we can now officially see grass in our front yard.
(If you can't tell I very much have "Spring Fever"!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A stroll down memory lane!

It was a stroll down memory lane
this weekend as I pulled off my snowman and winter village off my entry shelf and boxed them up until next winter (the towels that I wrap them in to protect them are some worn out apple dish towels that Tracy and I got 19 years ago for wedding gifts). Just seeing the towels brought back a flood of memories!

19 years ago "Bunny's" and cute "country decor" were really in style and Tracy and I had an apartment FULL of all kinds of these crafts!!
Lots of seafoam green, mauve and country blue!
Anyway, obviously these colors/decor is not really in style anymore and so that is why I LOVE my entry shelf, so I can display my cute holiday decorations, without having to have my whole house decorated this way. I Love it!!
I am married to a very talented and artistic husband and he has made me many treasures over the years for Christmas, birthday, Mother's day, etc....and many of them I display on my shelf. Here is one of my favorites....

Tracy was "doodling" during our first General Conference together and he made a grid work and painted these hearts all different water colors and I just LOVED it! He wasn't too fond of it and so he just put it away, but I kept begging to be able to put it somewhere in our apartment becuase I liked it so much. But, little did I know that in his spare time he took some old scrap wood he found and made a frame for it, took matte board and made a matte for it and then took little tiny pieces of wood to frame each heart and he wrote in his fun handwriting....Hearts...Hearts....I love you!! around the edge of it. I received this as 1 of my presents on our First Christmas together.
One of the main reasons I love this so much is Tracy made this with minimal tools and materials. When we first got married he only had a handsaw, hand plane, hammer, sand paper, etc...(no power tools at all).
Tracy does not particularly enjoy this creation of his and he has threatened to throw it away on many occasions when I am not around.(wink)
Needless to say,almost 19 years later Tracy has a fully stocked garage with almost every tool imaginable and he also built our house with those tools and own two hands.
I'm a very lucky girl!

Here is what it looks like!
Anyway, it was fun to put away winter and put out SPRING on my shelf!!
I love it so much and everything on my shelf is some kind of "memory"
from Tracy's and my wonderful 19 years together!!
May we all
"Scatter Seeds of Kindness"
this month!
As Tracy always says:
"Life is Good!!

(here are some "memory lane" photos showing our Newlywed apartment days with our "cluttered" crafty apartment and showing our "closet work bench" area and Tracy's tools. )
Tracy built me this desk...this is before we stained it!

Here is the desk after it was all stained
(notice the lampshade...
Tracy made this by folding and scoring paper and he painted it a nice hunter green and even "flecked" on gold leaf paint).

TOO many crafts!!

I can't believe this looked good to us!!
April 1994
My hubby the builder...

he built this barn over "spring break" with his good friend Jason while he was attending ISU and I was 8 months pregnant with Jade.
They built it from the ground up in 5 days!! Amazing!
April 1994
Inside of the barn they built...
this is the north side with stalls for horses...
Tracy is balancing on the log!
Since we lived in an apartment

Tracy ran an extension cord out our apartment window
and hooked up his table saw to cut boards.
Tracy assembling the boards together into what would now

be our Storage closet "Work Bench".
This is how our work bench

and Tracy's "wall of tools"
looked like when he was done!
We were SO thrilled to have a house
and Tracy was thrilled to have his "tools" organized
in a nice garage.

Tracy has a pile on his work bench
of "light weight backpacking stoves"
he makes for our yearly hikes.
Tracy very much enjoys puttering in his garage...
he is working on my entry shelf.
More Puttering....
Tracy is easing the sharp corners with his router on the blocks for my entry shelf!