Imagining career options…then creating them…

Since my last post voicing my desire reinvent a new path as a micro-entrepreneur, I’ve honestly been second guessing myself a lot. I was actually on heavy pain meds at the time I posted it, and really wondered what I had done once I sobered up.

I’ve continued to consider my career options, but I realized that I’ve been spending more energy trying to talk myself out of it than on actually doing anything. It feels out of reach, and hard to believe.

So, I decided that I needed to at least start by writing down my higher goals:

  • Create better balance between career and family
  • Work approximately half time
  • Create community – build community capacity and create networks
  • Support fellow moms and families
  • Educate and inspire
  • Write, reflect and learn
  • Reduce climate change
  • Inspire simplicity
  • Grow friendships
  • Find/share resources
  • Hone public speaking skills
Yet, even once I typed up this list (copied from my written journal) it seems more like a wish list than a career plan.

One of the options I’ve been considering for over a year now is to become a Simplicity Parenting leader. This feels like it could truly fulfill all of goals, but it’s hard to know how much of a market there is for such services. There’s a thousand dollar training just to start-up, and even though it’s nothing compared to grad school, I wonder how long it would take to recoup, plus all the time/energy.

I’ve also been thinking about growing succulents to supply the local ecoroof movement (in high school I had a green house where I grew/sold veggie and flower starts, and I love being in the dirt.) Both of these options could fulfill my goals, but it’s hard to know which way to move first. So, today, I’ve finally decided that I need to stop questioning myself and start acting. I’m going to start with a few informational interviews in the hope that they may give me more insight, motivation, and inspiration.

Wish me luck!

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Reinventing The Future


First, I must say, my how priorities change.

Despite my best intentions to navigate my life, health hiccups are defining this year for me. I’m laid up with a broken ankle for the second out of three weeks of complete bed rest, and another four weeks without being able to walk. I’ve been too out of it to write much beyond the occasional FB update and respond to selective emails.

I was coming online to finally post an update about the beach houses, when I glanced at the statistics: 50,000 pageviews! Even though I haven’t been writing frequently in months, the site is still averaging over 3,000 hits each month. And this post is the 450th that I’ve written since . I was originally inspired by my twin sister’s DINKs Finance Blog (which she recently bought back…), which is now has 1,000,000 hits. So even though my blog stats still feel puny, I feel it’s important for me to celebrate this blogging milestone

Regardless of my health circumstances, I haven’t had a will to write prolifically since our family trip to Denmark. I haven’t been motivated to truly define my/our new goals (on top of a becoming beach house owners and a busy pdx family.) I’ve been frustrated at work, and needed to reconsider my career goals lately, and I’ve honestly been fantasizing about not working lately. And no, it’s not because I’m enjoying being laid up, it’s more like a seed that keeps growing inside. When I think about my priorities, it’s really about spending time raising my children/family, creating my personal community, writing, volunteers, and contributing to society in meaningful ways. 

“Not working” really doesn’t categorize how I imagine spending my days. Rather like my current “days off,” I rarely sit down the whole day, and when I do, it’s with a to-do list in hand

Yet, fantasizing is very different that committing to, such as my good friend Kim who is blogging around the world I ‘ve had a great deal of my identity wound around being a working mom, as has my family. I don’t even know if Hubby could get his head around the idea being the only breadwinner, regardless how relatively close that aspiration might be if we really made it our goal. I’ve been reading The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . It’s very inspiring to make me just want to go for a variety of ventures, without putting all my eggs in a heap.

So, I’m still in the research mode about what exactly might lure me away from devoting myself as a public servant, but I’m pretty certain that I’m ready to make the transition to entrepreneur. I’m ready to make my own hours, take time to write, be with my family, and take care of my body/soul.  

I know this transition will take a mental leap, but I’m feeling like risking it. For now I don’t have any big reveal about my plans, though it feels refreshing just dream out loud. Regardless of my eventual direction, the only way I’m going to reach the goal of reducing my hours and/or becoming an entrepreneur is to get my financial ducks in a row and write about the actions I take on this blog. With baby steps in mind, I’ll work to get a renewed view of our current finances, while defining what our lifestyle requires financially, as well as how we can living more simply through our values.

Wish me luck…both with my aching ankle and my fledgling dreams! 


Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Takes a Village to Throw a Wedding

When I first started this blog two and half years ago, I brainstormed at least fifty topics that I wanted to write about related to trying to raise a family with sustainable values. I came up with ideas that both immediate and more long term. One was the desire to share a special thank you on our 10th anniversary, and I’ve had this post scheduled for over a year now .

Any guest will tell you, our wedding was unique, just like us. It was an organic blend of East coast meets West coast. My tribe of family friends outnumbered Hubby’s closest family visiting “Or-re-gon” for the first time by a 5-to-1 ratio. Yet, every mingled joyfulness, and it made for an entertaining evening 🙂

When hubby and I married, we were already committed to living our sustainable family values, just minus kids. We wanted our wedding to be as eco-friendly as possible, but we also needed to have a frugal wedding. We wanted an all-out party complete with an eight piece swing band, but we didn’t have a bank to break.

As shared a bit before, I was raised by hippie parents and communal giving second nature. So when it came time to plan our wedding I didn’t hesitate to ask family and friends for favors, and by the time our wedding day came, we were both totally blown away by how many wonderful people were a part of making our day so special.

My mother did all the flowers, including an amazing bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, and centerpieces. Many of the centerpiece flowers were given to her by neighbors, including buckets blooming hydrangeas. My mom also coordinated all the decorations exactly according to my vision of “simple and elegant.” My mom also bought my wedding gown, which I had fallen in love with on day-one of shopping (then drug one of my bride’s maids around for a second day of shopping, continuing to tell her about the dress I found on the first day, and at the last shop of the day, they pulled out “my” dress after I gave them a description of what I wanted 🙂

My father, Wally, really wanted it to be a party and insisted on paying for an eight-piece swing band, the Easy Valley Eight. Most of the band members were over 70, but they were classic and truly authentic. Wally also wanted to buy the beer, and we all enjoyed local Caldera Brewing. I knew one of the brewers, so that made it even better.

My parents splurged for the venue, the Schoolhouse Retreat and Cultural Center, located just outside the City of Talent (where Hubby was the city planner). It’s beautiful little school house from 1929 with Wagner Creek flowing through the grounds, in the valley below Wagner Butte. The grounds were perfectly manicured, and we loved it at first site.

Our catering was very personal and delicious: when our parents got married their reception was located at the Tiller Tavern, and the owners put on a big spread. They later moved back to the Boston area, and started a catering business (Jimmy and Betsy are now a real estate team). But they never forgot their beloved Oregon and every summer they would come back for a few weeks, and often cater a big party for friends. So my mom wondered if they might be interested in catering our wedding, and to my amazement family friends who I didn’t even really know as an adult put their hearts into creating an amazing menu, some of the dishes from recipes that I picked out. I naturally had to do a lot of coordinating to put on a dinner for 150 people with caterers from out of town, but it turned out to be fun picking up all the food from the local farmers’ market. I managed to buy the free-range chicken and wild salmon from a friend’s restaurant at cost. Our friend, Javelin, who owns Promise Natural Foods in Canyonville baked the bread and prepped the salmon. Long time friends and organic farmers, Susie and Robbie Lee, contributed fresh melons and peppers.

Our wedding cake was a homemade gift from a dear family friend, Susanna. When my sister and I had our seven birthday, she made us the most amazing carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and we both begged her to make our wedding cakes. It turned out that she really honed her decorating skills. Before the wedding, she asked me to send her an image of what I wanted the cake to look like. To my amazement, our cake was an exact replica, only I’m sure much tastier 🙂 Susanna also went on to make my Twin Sis’ wedding cake too 🙂 🙂

Our pastor was my 4th-5th-6th grade teacher, “Mr. A” who had taken up ministering to prison inmate as his form of community service.

Our music and wedding helpers were more close family friends, Mike and Ruth, my grade school music teacher and librarian/Sunday school teacher/college prep adviser.

Our photographer was the school’s sports photographer, Shelly, who was trying to build her portfolio, and who charged us just $200 for her amazing services, including the negatives.

Our rehearsal dinner was hosted by my beloved in-laws, Mary Ellen and Neil, at the beautiful Ashland Springs Hotel, where they also put us up for our wedding night.

Our honeymoon was a gift too, a work associate of Hubby’s offers us her rustic cabin on Lopez Island for a week, and we cherished every minute.

Everyone truly pitched in, and I want to give a special thanks to my Twin Sis, Miel, who worked to make everything perfect (including decorating our Subaru 🙂 We teased that “it takes a village to throw a wedding!”

Lastly, we were also passionate about keeping it local, so we had Valley View Pinot Gris, King Estate Pinot Noir, BJ’s ice cream, and Endangered Species chocolate as wedding favors.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped out in our wedding, especially by celebrating with us!

Here’s a link to a “top 10” slideshow of photos!


Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Berry Abundant – Edible Landscape Design

Abundant garden strawberries

As the 4th of July approaches, I’m always reminded to take stake of what matters.

To me, that means berries.

In July 2000, when Hubby and I first moved in together in a converted three-bay garage on Ladd’s Circle, our landlords happened to be going out of town for the holiday weekend. So, they offered us the chance to forage blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries from their amazing back yard. We had berries with breakfast each morning and berries with ice cream each evening. The brilliant mix of red, white, and blue felt as patriot as you could get. W hen I lived in Denmark, my host family would harvest a bowl of strawberries every day for weeks…to be served with cream and a dash of sugar. I’ve always aspired to these two berry-benchmarks.

So, when we hired Alissa and Dreya at Seed Garden Designs to create a landscape design for us, creating an abundant edible landscape was my top priority. Their plan indeed does include all our favorite berries, plus several columnar apple trees.

While we haven’t implemented the whole plan yet (we’re on a 3-5 schedule), we have already started to reap the benefits of the the plan. Over the spring, we used the Seed Garden Design plan to remove multiple small trees and shrubs. This included a Camellia shaded the raspberry row that was trying it’s best to grow the neighbors fence, and it dumped wilted flowers into the strawberry bench. As a result, neither our strawberry or raspberry harvest were much to speak of it. I’m happy to report that we’ve now been harvesting bowls and bowls of berries.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for our blueberry harvest. It’s still minimal at best, and we’re planning to try to revive the soil in the fall and/or replace them with new plants by next season. Life is too short for blueberry plants that don’t produce. In the mean time, we’re looking forward to a trip to our family friend’s organic blueberry farm on the McKenzie, Mohawk River Blueberries. They are plump and delicious, and will fill our freezer for the next year…yum!

On a side note, I was naturally intrigued by the recent Oregonian Home and Gardens article on the top eleven books on edible gardening.

Does your garden focus on edible berries?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Update on Kiva Experiment

Faith Group from Tanzania

In January, I shared about a new experiment of mine: loaning $1,000 in micro-loans through Kiva. I’ve continued to relend the money, and in less than six months I’ve almost doubled the amount of loans, lending out another $900 with the original seed money.

I started lending money through Kiva two years ago when I gave a $25 loan to my Dad and Father. While I started pretty small, I’ve been able to relend and relend the money over and over again. At this point I only relend $100 at a time, and I’ve now provided 23 micro-loans, totaling $1850. I’ve experience 0% default and 0% delinquency. Six of the loans have been repaid in full, and remainder are still repaying them.

I’ve funded people in Bolivia, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Palestine, and even the United States. I lent the most in Africa, since I have a soft heart for my sister’s work there, and the most has gone to Kenya and The DRC. The group above is my most recent loan, I loved the photo with the nursing mom!

Have you started lending with Kiva?
Use this link to lend your first $25 for free!

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.