Thursday, December 29, 2016

Living Room

I didn't think I'd love another room more than the Master Bedroom, but it happened! The living room is done! I'm so excited the sun finally came out enough for me to photograph the room. The only big project we did was to change out the half-window back door for a full window door. It lets in so much more light and was a great compromise to my plan of tearing out the whole wall and installing giant french doors (which I still wouldn't mind to do someday if we decide to stay here forever.)

My goal was to use minimal decor and allow all the light and the beautiful vaulted ceilings to take center stage. I love how the giant mirror Tom bought me for my birthday (flea market find!!) brightens the room even more. I also wanted to implement a lot of plants into the room, because I've been reading a lot about the air in our homes and how plants purify what we are breathing in and out all day. Walker and I spend the majority of our time here, so it makes sense to me to make our home as healthy of an environment as humanly possible for him.

The only non-useful, non-sentimental item in the room is my "Good Vibes" throw pillow from Urban Outfitters. I had to have one throw pillow, just one. And if it's going to be the only one, I'd say it's a pretty good choice. I'm basically in love with it.  I'm thrilled with how everything turned out. Let me know what you think!

(but we got ours on Craigslist, new with tags!)
(ours is well-loved and it looks like they don't sell it anymore, but this one is similar)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Birthday Bear

We had such a fun day celebrating little man's birthday! I pretty much refused to spend a second of the festivities on my phone, so I really only got pictures of the decor before we started. I am trying to be more present when I'm with him and really soak in the time we have together, so I especially wanted to make that a reality for his big day. I think there are some good shots of him circulating around with my family so I will post them when I get them. I know I have a lot more mental snapshots than I could have ever captured on my phone, so I am content with that. We went with a simple, low-key theme - just a few decorations, coffee and cake. It was low stress and beautiful. I made the cake myself which was super fun and terrifying at the same time. It's the first cake I've ever made so I was really glad it turned out. He wasn't too into opening the presents, but he was really excited about the toys themselves. We let him eat his own cake! It took him a minute to figure out what was going on but once he had the first bite he was pretty much convinced that cake is the best thing ever. It has been a struggle this week to get him to eat his normal food after that! I think his favorite part was being around kids for a day, he LOVES kids which just melts my heart. He loved showing off his dance moves for everyone as well. Such a little attention seeker! We are so thankful to our family and friends for joining us and so thankful for the year we have spent as parents to the sweetest boy.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Simple Giving: Birthday Edition

Our little bear is one year old today. I can't believe it's already been a year, but I also can't believe we've only known him for a year either. It seems like he's always been a part of our family. As tempting as it's been to buy him everything under the sun, I really wanted to establish simple gift giving from the get-go, so we decided on the four gifts idea (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read). So here they are!

1. Something You Want

          This little guy from The Land of Nod has been in my closet for about six months, so I'm soooo pumped to finally get to give it to him! It's a beautiful piece of furniture for his room, and he is going to LOVE rocking on it. You can check it out here!  

2. Something You Need

          Little man is almost exclusively on solid foods and is loving to feed himself with his spoon these days, so we are going to let him eat a bit more independently with the plate and bowl set from Avanchy. These are eco-friendly silicone and bamboo dishes that suction to the table so they stay put for meal time. So excited to try them out! You can view them online here!

3. Something to Wear

           The something to wear category kind of backfired on me this year, because I did not take into consideration that Walker may have a growth spurt right before his birthday. I bought him these beautiful handmade leather baby moccasins on Etsy. I let him open them early so that he could fit them for a little bit at least haha! 

4. Something to Read

        Walker loves to read, so I was particularly excited about picking out a new book for him. We went with a classic, something that would be fun for him to listen to. You can get your own copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom here

 I'd love to hear any of your simple gift giving ideas!! It's so fun to get him things I know he needs and will love while at the same time making the day about him and the year we've had together, not about a mountain of presents.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Ways to Save Money in 2017

The new year is almost here, and I always like to get a head start on my resolutions because I LOVE New Year's resolutions! I love fresh beginnings and big dreams and new plans. So fun! Something that makes my list every single year is our finances. Last year was to pay off our debt which (AHH) we completed! 2017 will be my first full year as a stay-at-home mom, and with just our one sweet baby boy I think I'll really have time this year to devote to developing some big money savers. I have a whole notebook of house projects I'd love to accomplish in the coming year which will take some extra cash, so here are five ways I plan to save money in 2017.

1. Cloth Diapers
             I'm pretty sure the day we announced we were pregnant with Walker I had three people ask me if I would be cloth diapering. My answer: NO. Too much mess, too much work, too gross. However, we did receive enough free diapers to last us until now (a year), so I haven't really considered the cost of diapers until now. Although I did use the free diapers regardless of brand in an attempt to save money, I am really trying to reduce our waste as a family so when purchasing diapers I have only considered eco-friendly brands which are significantly more expensive than generic brands. With a year plus of diaper time ahead of me, I ate my words and purchased some Bumgenius organic cotton cloth diapers to try. I actually found some very lightly used ones on Ebay (don't judge). Probably the most natural, eco-friendly and budget-friendly diapering option. When comparing to a monthly subscription to Honest diapers, this will save me over $750 this year.

2. Homemade Cleaning Supplies
             Okay it's no secret that I LOVE The Honest Company. Everything they make smells sooo good, and every one of their products has the cutest patterns and packaging. I have been subscribing to their cleaning supplies bundle for about six months now and have really enjoyed it. However, with a focus on saving money in 2017, I am going to try my hand at making my own cleaning supplies. I actually bought a 5-gallon bucket of homemade laundry detergent from a fundraiser for $35, and it has been six months and it's less than a fourth of the way used. So assuming it will last us another 18 months that's $17 total in 2017 that I will be spending on laundry detergent. I looked up a homemade dishwasher detergent that will cost about $6 for the year. I can use ingredients I already have in the house (baking soda, vinegar, etc.) to make homemade all-purpose spray, toilet cleaner, etc. So even if I double the amount I think it will cost to clean my house with homemade supplies this year, we are looking at under $50 (WOW). When compared to the cleaning supplies subscription I have been buying, this will save me $400 this year. I realize that the subscription is more expensive than generic brand cleaning supplies, but I am pretty passionate about all-natural, eco-friendly, non-toxic, etc. products, so making my own should kill two birds with one stone.

3. Consolidated Trips
            Right now to break up the day, I drive to Springfield (15 minutes away) at least once a day if not more. I split up my grocery shopping and toiletry shopping and house project shopping to different days and don't really plan my trips very well. I currently fill up my car about three times a month, twice for normal use and once for our monthly trip to St. Louis. In 2017 I am going to attempt to only drive to Springfield twice a week. Even if I have to drive there three times a week it should cut my normal gas usage in half, taking out the third fill-up each month. Over the year that should save me about $480 (one $40 tank of gas x 12 months). Plus I'm excited for the challenges of planning out my trips and finding fun things to do at home or in Ozark to break up our day. An added bonus - reducing our family's carbon footprint.

4. Meal Planning and Home Cooking
            I currently meal plan on a semi-regular basis, but this is an area that I know I can beef up my efforts and do better. My goal is to reduce our grocery shopping bill by $15-$20 per trip (we shop once a week). I also have days when I'm just feeling lazy and we order pizza or eat out. Each time I let that happen we are easily adding $25-$30 to our monthly budget. I'm not saying we are never going to go out to eat in 2017 as a family, but if I can reduce that to once a month or once every six weeks, we'll be saving money for sure. I also plan to cook a vegetarian meal twice a week to save money on the meat. It will be fun to learn how to create a balanced meal without meat, and I'm excited to try it out. If I can reduce our overall food cost by just $20 a week, that's $1040 in savings for the year!

5. $25 Date Nights
            Tom and I really enjoy going out together, and we try to go on a date every month. We probably spend about $40 on a date for food and dessert, sometimes more if it's a nicer restaurant. I think it would be fun for our monthly dates to give ourselves a $25 limit. We tend to stick to the same restaurants and the same entertainment, so this will save us money and force us to get creative and get out of our box a little more. Even with the conservative calculation of $40 per date, dropping it down to $25 will save us $180 over the year.

So altogether these are 5 things we will be doing in 2017 for a total savings of $2850. Which should cover my notebook of house projects. Yay :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Project 12

As an aspiring minimalist, I have been trying to come up with a solution to a problem area for me - my crafting "leftovers". I have a bag of material and a box of odds and ends from various projects that I have been hanging on to "just in case", which is a classic minimalist no-no. The problem is that these aren't things I can donate...who wants a bag full of material scraps and a box of ribbons? I couldn't bring myself to throw them away either. Trash is easy for me to throw away, but this stuff has potential!

So I have challenged myself for the month of December to focus all of my creative energy on cleaning out the crafting boxes and creating unique exciting new products from all of 2016's leftovers. It's a great way to clear out space, recycle and gear up for a fresh start in the new year. If you wonder about the randomness of this month's featured items in the shop, there you have it. The fun thing is that I'm actually really excited about the first product I've come up with (pictured above). I will probably continue selling it after this month as well! You can view and purchase the Arctic Taggie Toy here.

December is a month focused largely around the celebration of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the precious gift of salvation that he brought to us when he came to earth to die for mankind. Giving is such a wonderful way to honor his sacrifice and to remember the gift we've been given in him. I have chosen Project 12 to be the recipient of all of the proceeds of these fun up-cycled products this month. It seems fitting since it's the 12th month and there are 12 days of Christmas haha :)

Project 12 is an incredible multi-part ministry that rescues, aids and empowers women and girls of all ages all around the world. Please check out the information in the link and share with your friends! You can be involved this month by purchasing from my shop or by donating directly on the website.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Paradox of Materialism

It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that you may still encounter various temptations after diving into a minimalist lifestyle. Decluttering and getting rid of things is such a liberating experience, but those uplifting feelings of relief and freedom from your possessions are constantly warred against by the desperate feelings of need and want. Our society, especially during this time of year, bombards us on a minute by minute basis with  all of the things we need to be happy and healthy and successful.  My current problem areas are Walker and Ebay.

Walker is a baby and baby things are cute, so it is a DAILY challenge to say no to things I want to buy him. I obviously don't deprive him of things he needs and he is currently swimming in a pile of toys in the middle of his floor, so we're not having a problem there either. But I do have to constantly remind myself that he might need some new sweats to fit his growing little legs, but he doesn't need all eight pairs of the new sweats on Zara. He might need a toy food basket to go with his play kitchen for Christmas, but he doesn't need a basket for every food group, he's not actually eating the darn things. When I'm 100% honest, 95% of the things I want to buy him are really for myself, which is a humbling observation.

Ebay is so tempting for me. I love to buy used items on Ebay for multiple reasons including discounted prices, support for small businesses, environmental conscientiousness, etc. I think it's a great way to get quality items that will last at more affordable prices, especially when we're talking about clothing. The problem isn't the calculated, thought-out, researched items I buy. The problem is the suggested sales Ebay throws at me multiple times a day based on previous purchases. It is SO tempting when you see things you want at such cheap prices, and the auction-style sales are so enticing in themselves. I needed one pair of shorts, so I found some and bid on them and won them, but now I have suggestions day in and day out for similar items! I still have it in my head that I need them, so my initial reaction is to bid on them, but I have to remember that I need ONE pair of shorts, not two, not ten...and that one pair is already in my dresser.

Just a little transparency today. I still struggle with the desire to consume. It seems that would only be natural as it's been ingrained in my identity for 25 years.  Don't be discouraged if you have days again when stuff seems to define you. Minimalism is a journey. Take some time in those moments to think about who you are. What really defines you? I'm not the mom in our neighborhood defined by the least number of Lululemon yoga pants or the smallest amount of Christmas decorations, I'm the mom defined by my sweet Walker. I'm not the girl defined by wearing the same few outfits to church every Sunday, I'm a child of the King defined by grace and salvation. The craziest thing is you're most likely the only person defining yourself by the lies of materialism. When is the last time you looked at someone and thought WOW that girl doesn't have nearly enough stuff, how pathetic is she? Probably never! The ugly paradox of materialism is that the point is to impress everyone, but the only person who cares about the stuff is you.

Now get out there in this week of family and Thanksgiving and celebration, and value yourself and your family for who you are and the experiences you've shared...without the stuff.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hand Knitted Mittens

When (if it ever) gets cold this winter, we will need something to keep little man's hands warm. I learned to knit when I was little when it was a super uncool home school thing to do. I got made fun of plenty of times for bringing my latest "grandma" project to class in high school, which in retrospect was pretty nerdy, so whatever, but who's laughing now?! While these handmade bad boys sell for $15-$30 on Etsy, I was able to make my own for under $5. I followed this YouTube tutorial and just lessened the amount of rows to 11 on the ribbing and 14 full rows on the glove body to make them toddler size. I used size 7/4.5mm knitting needles. I didn't mess with a thumb this time because Walker's chubby little thumb will be too hard to get into a glove, but I love how easy it will be to add one next year! If you've never learned the purl stitch, this is a great tutorial that I found. I am so excited to have this skill to use for all our cold weather needs and to pass on to my future daughters, Lord willing. If you don't care to learn how to knit or don't have the time to make these yourself here are some shops on Etsy with a few really cute options:


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Shop Three Fergs

I am super excited to announce the opening of my shop - Shop3Fergs. (Super original title can be attributed to my son's recent teething episodes which equal zero sleep and a lot of caffeine in every form.) I have always loved creating things, and in the midst of three moves in the last three years it's been all about decorating my home(s). I know there are lots of you girls (and maybe some guys) out there who love to decorate but don't necessarily have the time to devote to creating your own decorations, so check out the handmade, one of a kind items for purchase in my shop! Right now I'm obsessed with mid-century and minimalist themes. It's a work in progress, so come back often to see what's new, and follow me on Instagram for updates!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Preparing for Christmas

Major retailers are doing it already, so why can't I?

Christmas has always been a BIG deal to my family. At least four of the seven of us (one being myself) have gift-giving as a love language, so that giving nature really amps up around December. This will be our first Christmas since fully embracing the idea of minimalism, so I have been putting a lot of thought into how we can maintain this lifestyle through the holidays. Because of the atrocity our society has made this blessed holiday into, it's tempting to just boycott everything, "Christmas with the Kranks" style, and take a vacation away from the madness. Unfortunately, avoiding the problem will just push it out to next December and the next, so it's probably better to face it and come up with some solutions. The great thing about this journey is that progress is progress. We are going to try a few new things this year, and see how it goes!

  1. Draw Names: This is something Tom's family does already, and it's a great way to simplify gift-giving. It's really straight forward, you draw names for each person to see who gets who a gift. You set a reasonable budget for each gift, and then open all the gifts at your Christmas get-together. It minimizes the number of gifts each person receives to one gift, and it minimizes the number of overall gifts you are expected to purchase, meaning you can spend more money on each gift to get something that person will really use and enjoy. We are trying it on my side of the family for the first time, so I'm really excited for the outcome! 
  2. Purchase Gifts Together: Tom and I usually decide what gifts to get each other together. We've found that when we try to give hints and do surprises, we typically end up with a huge pile of really nice and thoughtful things that we could really live without (and sometimes a small pile of things we don't really want to begin with). So instead, we set aside a budget and take a shopping date together to spend time with each other and pick out our gifts. This ensures that we give each exactly what we want so that we don't end up with a box of items we keep for an obligatory amount of time and then throw in the yard sale. 
  3. Give Intangible or "Experience" Gifts: I am trying this out for the first time this year. For my gift from Tom I actually chose to get my hair done. I am really excited about the new look! It's a gift I will use and appreciate that won't clutter my house. It involves some me time and pampering, and it's something I will appreciate for months or longer. I haven't actually gotten around to Christmas shopping yet, but when I do I am hoping to find more "experience gifts" to give. Examples that come to mind are concert tickets, event passes, day passes to a theme park, etc. 
  4. Four Gifts: This is technically Walker's second Christmas, but he was only ten days old last year soooo we didn't get him anything (gasp!). Well...I labored him out of my body...does that count as an "experience gift" haha? Since this will be our first gift-giving Christmas, we are really hoping to set the standard for future years. We have decided as a family to give four gifts to Walker and our future children: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. It's a great guideline to reign in my desire to spoil Walker rotten, and with only four gifts to buy it has really helped me to focus on making each one the very best! 
  5. Make Suggestions: This tip is best used defensively rather than offensively. Making suggestions for a gift to the wrong person or in the wrong way can come across as suuuuuper tacky. But, if you can manage to pull it off appropriately it can actually help in your quest to simplify by again ensuring that you will receive a gift you need, use and love. For example, my Nana has been asking me what to get Walker for Christmas. I normally would say "Oh, we would appreciate anything, whatever you think!" which is true; however, I took the opportunity this time to tell her exactly what items we are wanting for his new play room and asked if she would like to choose some of those for his gifts. It was perfect, because she can confidently choose something she knows we will want and use, and we will get the items we want for his playroom instead of toys in addition to them. Now, my Nana and I are very close and beyond social courtesies, so this was an appropriate and well-received response to her question. Don't write a Christmas list next to your name on the Secret Santa drawing at work. I think a good rule of thumb for this one is just to answer honestly if people ask you what you'd like or what your kids want/need. 
I'll check back in after Christmas with an update on how these ideas played out in real life. My hope in maintaining a minimalist lifestyle during the holidays is to cut out the clutter and make room for family and the celebration of our Savior. Leave a comment if you or your family has a good way to simplify the holiday season! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Early Morning Walks

Walker is sick and teething right now, and as a mom it breaks my heart to see him in pain and as a human I NEED SLEEP. Despite going to bed three hours after his bed time we were up before the sun this morning, so we made the most of it by getting dressed and exploring the dead end road in our neighborhood. My mom bought his jacket at a yard sale before we even knew we were having a boy. It's crazy to think that he's here and wearing it now. Time is beautiful and cruel.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Explaining Minimalism

Minimalism is an exciting journey that can take you from an obsession with accumulating STUFF to a deeper appreciation of time, family, high-quality goods, etc. It's difficult when you've started the process of de-cluttering your life to keep it to yourself. You want everyone to experience the joy and freedom that comes from climbing out from under the piles of possessions. The problem is that people who a) think minimalism means wearing paper bags and living in a cardboard box, b) think minimalism means never buying anything whatsoever in any way ever at all ever, c) think minimalism means having seven babies and cramming them and your husband and your goat farm into a Tiny House are apt to be defensive, offended, or confused when you bring up the subject of "less".

Joshua Becker,  a leading blogger in the minimalist movement (Becoming Minimalist) and author of the inspiring read The More of Less, brilliantly defines minimalism as "the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it". It is a simple lifestyle built to highlight the things that matter most and get rid of the clutter that keeps us from enjoying those things to the fullest potential. The fact of the matter is that minimalism looks different for everyone. The home of a married minimalist teacher with three kids will look much different from the home of a single minimalist woodworker with a dog. Their lives and professions require different things and different amounts of things. When explaining minimalism to a friend or family member who is unfamiliar with the concept, it might be easiest to start with what minimalism is not. 

Minimalism is not about frugality, rather it is about making your purchases count. There are of course certain monetary gains you make when living with fewer possessions. For one, you buy less, so you aren't spending money on as many purchases. You also don't spend as much money maintaining, storing, or organizing your possessions. However, saving money is not the focus of minimalism. The focus is to make conscious, planned purchases that contribute to your life by fulfilling a need with longevity. You may need a pair of shoes and instead of searching for the cheapest option, you search for the option that will match the most, last the longest and be the most comfortable. This may not be the cheapest, but it fulfills your need simply and with longevity. 

Minimalism does not mean having no possessions, it means having only possessions that you need or highly value. It's more about breaking possessions' hold on you and being most concerned with what matters the most - people and relationships. When you walk into my house, I do not have bare walls, I own multiple pieces of furniture, there are clothes in my closet and dishes in my kitchen, but each of these categories has been pared down to what matters most to me and what I actually need. Instead of 85 pieces of plastic Tupperware, I have 8 pieces of glass Pyrex that is more than sufficient for my weekly food storage needs. Instead of three shelves whose sole purpose was to hold hoards of themed decorations, I have a clean wall holding my most favorite pieces. 

Minimalism isn't a quick fix or a phase, it's a lifestyle. I've purged my belongings multiple times in my life to get rid of things I no longer use or that have gone out of style, etc. Everyone does this. Now that I've been introduced to minimalism, I have a really different perspective. I used to be about accumulating new items and getting rid of old items. Out with the old in with the new, a cycle that repeats itself on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Now I desire to only allow things into my home that I treasure enough and are of a high enough quality to keep for years. I no longer want to host an annual garage sale, because I don't want to accumulate enough things in a year to fill my garage. After experiencing the freedom of fewer possessions, I can't see myself going back to the way I was before - a slave to my stuff and to the desire for more stuff. 

If you desire to share your story with minimalism and the impact it's had on your life, I hope this helps you to explain it. Even though it's a growing movement this lifestyle is not appreciated by the majority of our society. If after you explain the idea to a friend or family member they still think you're crazy and they prefer to continue to fully embrace their consumerism, love them and let it go. After all, minimalism is about making time and space for the things that matter most, and it defeats the purpose to allow minimalism to cause distance between you and the people you love. 

Happy simple living!! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016


We are done with the nursery! Two rooms down, the rest of the house to go. I have to confess...I pulled out some of his Christmas and birthday presents to shoot the room (insert monkey emoji covering his face in shame). They have been hiding in my closet for WAY too long, I couldn't resist. I'm sure he'll forget them by the time December gets here. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

I have moved thirteen times in my life, but the house my parents are in now is the closest thing to "where I grew up". I lived there from age 12 to age 17, and the home with its beautiful dirt road drive and spectacular hilltop view does offer a sense of nostalgia and comfort when we get the chance to visit. My dad built a tree house on the hill in front of the house, and it is just one of those things we won't quite be able to replicate when the house sells. I took Walker out there this week to enjoy his Gran-Dey's handiwork. He loved it!

Shirt and pants...and shoes actually...from Zara Kids. Clearly we love Zara :)