Saturday, February 20, 2016

{Life on a Budget} Day Trippin' - Point Lobos

Life can get pretty busy sometimes. Since this past week I've been on vacation, I decided to tackle a list of to-dos that have been lingering for forever. I cleaned out more of the house, organized the garage, we dropped off about fifteen bags worth of items at Goodwill, I cleaned out and organized the two hall closets, and I re-caulked the bathtub.  While it felt amazing to get so much accomplished, I definitely wasn't feeling very relaxed.  Neal was feeling similarly drained - he hadn't been on vacation, and was feeling just kinda "blah" and in need of a little break.  Since he always magically knows just what to do, he surprised me on Wednesday by telling me he had taken that coming Friday off of work, and that we were going on an adventure!

On Friday we dropped off E at school together, and then headed south to Santa Cruz.  We stopped at a little cafe for a delish breakfast ($30 total, including tip) that included homemade croissants, avocado, eggs, and bacon. So insanely good!  We then continued to head south some more until we reached Point Lobos.  We spent the next few hours hiking the entire outer rim of the park, taking in the incredible weather, clear skies, and the sound of waves crashing onto the shore.  It was such a wonderful time, and we got to just enjoy the nature surrounding us and each other's company, which obviously cost us nothing.

While the cost of living in the Bay Area is nothing short of absurdly astronomical, I will say that we at least have a ton of great things to do nearby that cost little or nothing.  For a mere $35 (I added $5 in for gas), we got to spend a sweet day together and got our hike on, one of Neal and my's favorite things to do.

View from our hike.

God bless Neal for putting up with my endless selfie requests!

{Year of Change} February Edition

Last month I began my "Year of Change," where I decided to tackle some of those big life "wants" that I never actually did anything about.  In January, I started by cleaning out and decluttering my home.  It went so super well, and I feel really good about all that I did.  To date, I've donated about 500 items to Goodwill, and thrown away about 25 items that are not able to be donated (no one wants a nasty old stained pillow, you know?).

For February, I aimed to give up drinking diet soda.  So far, not so good.  I started out the month very focused, aiming to cut back little by little.  I stuck to it for about five days, and then it just all went to hell.  At this point, February 20th, I'm no better off than the beginning of the month.  That being said, I am no quitter! I just read an article about Whole30 (which, spoiler alert, is my March goal) and in the article it said something that really struck me.  To paraphrase, the author wrote about how lots of things in life are hard, and giving up bad-for-you-food is NOT one of them.  Living a life in poverty is hard. Having a chronic illness is hard. Giving up diet soda is NOT! So, even though I only have nine days left in the month, I am still committed to giving up diet soda by the 29th.

In case you are curious about whether or not I've stuck to my previous month's goals, here is a quick update.

For decluttering, I mentioned above I have continued to do really well.  It felt so incredibly good to clear out so many useless items from my home. I'm still working on not buying so many clothes, but other than that I think I did really well on not bringing too much stuff back in to the house.  Neal and I had a really wonderful, cozy Valentine's Day without buying each other gifts, except Neal did get me a great card.  I decorated the house in post-its that each had a reason I loved him on them.  We then went out for a super not-fancy but none-the-less perfect dinner for Chinese food down the street from our house.

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up was an inspiring and refreshing read to help me this month.  I love Marie Kondo's first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and this is a follow up.  It helped me prioritize and evaluate literally hundreds of items that I had not had the discipline or courage to discard previously.

I have continued to be better with sugar, too.  I did have one two donuts this past month, but that's okay! I rarely eat donuts and I love them, so I didn't feel too bad indulging.  Other than that I haven't eaten any sweets that I can remember around the house, and Neal and I don't ever order dessert when we go out.

Outside the neighborhood donut shop with my little love. :)

March is going to be a really big month for the Year of Change, so stay tuned for lots more updates!