Missing Rings = Insurance Claim

Pumpkin carving 2010, rare photo showing both rings…

Close friends of mine know that earlier this spring, my wedding rings disappeared after an emergency surgery. My platinum wedding ring and 20’s era heirloom diamond engagement ring, and another heirloom ring that was made from a spoon by a Great Aunt during the depression were inexplicably lost at the surgery center.

After I got over the grief of loosing these irreplaceable items (which took a good month), I finally took everyone’s advice and went through the steps of reporting them as stolen and filing an insurance claim. In the process, Traveler’s naturally wanted proof that these jewels existed…this was surprisingly difficult.

At one point many years ago I took up-close photos of my rings for insurance purposes, but somehow after switching laptops several times and loosing some photos in a melted motherboard, I wasn’t able to locate any close-up photos. The best photos I had were distant shots of me signing our wedding certificate and another of me in a family photo in Denmark. Note to readers: take a photo of your valuables today!

I also needed to find a receipt, and deep in our old filing cabinet, I discovered that we do in fact still have copies of checks and financial records from 10 years ago! I need to write another post on this, because it was fascinating to see what our financial life was like just ten years ago. I had almost completely forgotten that for two years of working temporary/part-time/hostessing I barely brought in enough to pay my minimal bills…

Back to the rings, I told myself ages ago that I would get an appraisal for the heirloom jewelry, but I never did. I know they were more valuable the covered by our basic insurance. While I’m somewhat satisfied to have gotten our maximum of $1500, the truth is that I still bring myself to purchase any “replacement” rings. Our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up in August, so I’m hoping to feel inspired to get a new ring. Until then, my hands will feel naked and I’ll always wonder what really happened to my rings…

Have you ever had stolen/missing jewelry?

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

A Woman with a Garden Plan

Dreya and Alissa, permaculture designers extraordinaire

My favorite season has a officially begun; the season of eating outdoors whenever possible. This evening we had salmon burgers on our patio’s red picnic table, and it felt like our little private paradise. I t’s hard to not feel madly in love with my yard this time of year. I spend as much time as physically possible there, and seem to savor the exhaustion at the end of the day. I love watching our kids’ rake and dig and play, washing off their mud at the end of the day.

And yet, even though in my estimation our yard is maybe 80% close to being complete, I obsess about the final 20%. After three full years of puttering around with various design ideas, I finally decided that it was time to hire some professional landscape designers. While I’m already fairly educated, having taken a permaculture design course in graduate school, the truth is that I could never seem to develop a wholistic design. I’ve wanted to clear out several bushes and holly tree, and Hubby always wanted a definitive “plan” before doing so (at our old place I did make a full permaculture plan, so I could never seem to find/make the time, plus there were some problematic areas where I really needed a second/third opinion). More importantly, without this illusive plan, I could never get Hubby’s buy off to purchase more than about a $100 of plants at a time. So, when we finally had some extra cash, I new a garden design was at the very top of my wish list.

I searched for permaculture designers, and was excited to find a small company of two women about my age doing landscape design and installation. Seed Garden Design has a philosophy that I aspire to as well, and just from checking out their beautiful before/after photos, I had a strong feeling that I had found the right duo to fulfill my garden dreams. They were truly a pleasure to work with, and they met with Hubby and I to gain a deeper understanding of how we want to use the outdoor space and what we view as beautiful.

Throughout the design process we met three times: first to determine the scope of the design, second to discuss likes/dislikes, and third to reveal the final design. We also had a bit of homework between sessions to help them assess our likes/dislikes better. I ended up deciding to do the full design for our front and back yards, which is a larger lot than most in Portland. The design cost $1550, and I feel it was worth it.

I love having a full vision for my yard/garden. I can finally see its full potential, and can hardly wait to see it come into reality. We most want our yard to be kid-friendly and ready to entertain/enjoy. Plus, we want to produce more and more veggies/fruit from our garden. I also have a dream of having our yard in some type of local garden tour, so we have high hopes for our little paradise.

We plan to pace ourselves though, and it will probably take 4-5 years to implement the full design. I bought $120 of native plants at Audubon’s native plant sale this weekend, and it felt so great to have my plant list in hand, knowing each plant had a destined place. I felt like a women on a mission…

Since I’m admittedly more inspired by plants than our finances lately, I’ll soon share some specifics of the design…which really rocks, by the way! I’ve also stared a new “permaculture garden” tag to help you find other related posts in the future.

Does your yard/garden have a plan?
How much is your yard/garden worth investing to you?

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

Olivia Beach Camp Cabins

I haven’t written much this year, and I have two goods reason. We’ve been working swiftly toward our dream of owning a beach rental we’re actually building two camp cabins at Olivia Beach! So, we’ve been really busy setting up deal, and I didn’t want to jinx us by writing anything before a contract was signed and our 10% down.

But before I get into the recent details, I’d like to share the back story of how this became our dream…

Not long after Hubby and I met, he shared his dream of wanting to own a beach house by age 50. It sounded like a great dream, but I was skeptical that we’d be able to pull it off in that time frame. He was still in graduate school, without a solid career, and I was piling up college loans. Regardless, I happily agreed to the goal, and have been secretly dreaming of our beach house ever since.

Early on Hubby also shared with me his passion for New Urbanism, and the concept of designing communities around people, not cars, really appealed to me. I was pretty sure that I could never see myself living in suburbia, but a New Urbanism community would be a different story altogether.

Then, a few years ago, Hubby heard about some New Urbanism communities being developed on the Oregon and Washington coast. We visited Bella Beach and Olivia Beach when they were breaking ground, even though we weren’t actually anticipating ever being able to purchase…we were secretly a little jealous.

So, when we received our family inheritance, I couldn’t help but think back to our deepest seeded dream of owning a beach house. I also knew that we still couldn’t afford it on our own, so I proposed to my Twin Sis and our Aunt that we go in on a venture together. After visiting Olivia Beach, and weighing between buying a single house or two small cabins, we eventually settled on the “camp cabins.” It turned out that our timing couldn’t have been better, and they had just proposed the option of building small 1 bedroom/1 loft cottages.

There were lots of factors that swayed us toward the cabin option (even though two was a bigger investment than a single 2 bedroom house), and one of the reasons is that there are only planned to be four cabins. Therefore, our cabins will be the most affordable rentals in the whole development. Plus, we really like the “small is beautiful” aesthetic.

We just met with the builder/realtor team this morning, and I’m still pinching myself that we’ll soon be picking out paint colors and will likely be able to stay there for our 10th anniversary this August. Setting up the business, furnishing the places, and marketing them is going to take a lot of my time in the coming months, but I do hope to write more this spring (we’ve also been working on a permaculture garden design!)

What’s your deepest dream?

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

Simplicity Parenting – Bunk Beds

January always feels like a very long month in our home, particularly this year. It’s partly because I’m always gearing up for the year ahead and setting our goals in motion. It’s also because we are still celebrating…we have 3 birthdays in January (Hubby turned 42, Girly turned 3, and our Big Guy turns 6 today!). Our goals and celebrations seem to have merged very fluidly lately with us working together to further our “simplicity parenting” process.

Even though I hadn’t yet read Simplicity Parenting last year, I spent a post writing about how simple I tried to be in birthday gift giving (previously about our family gift policy). In hindsight, I realize that I didn’t even need to purchase as much as we did…the flashcard puzzles were barely touched, and I haven’t seen the soccer ball in almost a year.

This year we took it down another notch, and gave the kids a bunk bed. It wasn’t itself a cheap gift, but it did turn out to force us to really refocus on simplifying their bedrooms. Our Big Guy had asked for bunk beds since I was pregnant with Girly, but during Thanksgiving he got booted into his little sister’s room for our family guests…but then he didn’t want to go back to sleeping in his own room. They continued to room together so well that we soon agreed that if they could keep it up until their birthdays, we would buy them bunk beds.

Now Girly’s old bedroom only has a toy tower, bookcase, and dress up chest (we plan to set it up as a guest room soon…). The new shared “kids’ room” has their dressers, lamp, kids’ CD player, alarm clock and a closet with games in it.

Admittedly, even after two weekends of gutting their rooms (and another putting together the bunk-beds), I know that I still have work left going through the toys in the tower…most of which they haven’t played with in months! I purged many of our board books, but I still need to take another look to cull more unread books…it is emotional to let go of those original baby books, and I plan to hold on to a few…

Our kids really didn’t balk at getting rid of anything, there were naturally a few items they became temporarily enamored with again, but I just let them play until they were done and then scooped it into the give-away.

The kids were thrilled when we finished assembling the bunk beds. It kind of feels like a new era for our family, and we’re all happy to have simplified living space.

Otherwise, the only gifts we gave this year were a few really beautifully illustrated Irish/Faery tales to replace the classic board books. They got some needed sneakers/cleats. They also got a world/U.S. map to decorate their new room. Plus, Girly got to pick out sheets for her new bed.

Have you simplified your child’s space?
Do your kids bunk together?

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

Maybe Baby…

It may seem strange, but after the initial shock of my father’s passing softened, I suddenly had the urge to have another baby. It wasn’t in sorrow, but in tears of joy. I felt like my heart had been broken open and I needed a place to give my extra love. Suddenly, deciding to  only have two children based on environmental ethics felt like I was limiting myself.

Admittedly, the logistics of it had to do with money. Knowing that I would be passed down family money, I contemplated what I could do to satisfy a legacy. My grandmother would have loved for me to have more children…she always joked, “You know, they are cheaper by the dozen!” She had three children herself, but came from a well-off family with seven children. My grandmother was proud of me for going to college and getting Master’s (and she always pushed that in this day/age that I should be able to support myself, just in case), but she also thought I work too long of hours. She worked long hours herself until she had a family (and remembered her hourly wage for every job she worked until she passed away at 94), but she  lived in a different era, and shook her head at the idea of getting two little ones dressed and out the door by 7 every morning. 

So, back to the baby decision…

Well, when I brought up the idea to Hubby he was less than enthusiastic. While he had pressed me for a third just a year earlier (which I thought was way too soon), he suddenly felt he was too old (he just turned 42). Or maybe he thought I was just making an emotional decision (which I was…). At any rate, we’ve come to a place of peace with our equally balanced household.

But I still can’t help but think that if I lived in different economic era that I would be quite happy with more kids. Finances simply does play into our family planning these days, whether families want to admit it or not. E ven if we had decided to have a third, we had only ever talked about the possibility in the context of having at least our older in grade school so we could afford  expensive child care . I know an  acquaintance, whose husband owns a small bike shop, who decided to not have another child based on the fact that they felt they couldn’t afford it while his shop was getting off the ground and she was staying home to take care of their son and assist on the business. 

How much has your family finances played a role in your family planning?

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