And then, we decided to move…

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…even if it’s just up the street, and we are nothing but excited to go down from 3 bedrooms to 1, from 2 bathrooms to 1, and from 9 rooms to 3, and I get to live my minimalist dream and get rid of almost everything we own, and Justin gets to be less concerned with being safe in such a big space and for the first time in our married lives we get to have internet at home! For many people downsizing would be a struggle and a disappointment, but Justin and I are so ready to embark on a life of more simplicity, practicality, and modernity. It’s certainly going to be a change, but it’s one that we feel we want to experience and so, we are. :)

What I Will Miss

  • Big picture window in our living room
  • White walls
  • ‘Henry’ the tree in our front yard
  • Neighbor-less free walls
  • Space to store crafts
  • The quaint dead end road our house is situated on
  • Two bathrooms

What I will NOT Miss

  • Too few windows
  • Empty, useless spaces (aka: garage + attic + back porch)
  • Old appliances (we’re talking 70’s appliances, at best)
  • Cracked ceilings
  • Too many things in too much space
  • Old windows, walls, and floors with spaces and cracks I don’t even know of fully
  • The habit of not getting rid of things only because there was space to keep it
  • Cleaning two bathrooms + an entire house
  • Lack of Internet

More updates to come along the way!

The Humble Budget | #1 | Birthday Presents

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I’ve decided to pursue another series on this blog called ‘The Humble Budget: a compilation of tips and tricks for those living on a truly modest budget’.

Being a, not freshly but still newly, married couple who are half in school and half out at this time, but  lived the first year of marriage fully in school, I find that the budget by which we must live by is one that is many times looked over by creative tricks and practical tips across the internet. I’ve been frustrated more than once by tips that claim to be budget friendly, but are still exorbitant compared to our available funds.

Enter The Humble Budget.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean this series to in any way be an avenue to complain about our current financial situation, nor do I intend for it to be a way to condemn those who have more available funds.

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To start off this series let’s talk birthdays!

The best way to have available funds for birthday presents is to, obviously, set up a planned area of your budget that you add money to when possible. However, this ideal system is rudely interrupted or even ended when the ‘gift’ money must instead be put to groceries or gas, a possible/common occurrence on a tight budget.

When this happens it can feel incredibly disappointing and very much like a road block, but as it is proved over and over again necessity is truly the mother of invention!

This past September was my niece Evie’s first birthday. At the time I had only just started working my current job after 2 ½ months of unemployment and it’s certainly fair to say our budget was tighter than usual. But I just knew I wanted to be able to give her something in celebration. I started thinking through DIY projects I’d come across or homemade possibilities and then it dawned on me, a doll. I could make a doll! I’d never made a doll before, but I knew that I could do it and more importantly we could afford it! So, with leftover fabric, yarn, and buttons and already owned thread I went to work! In the end the doll was almost nothing like I had imagined it might be, but the way Evie smiled so big when she opened the present was confirmation enough that the little doll was just right! :)

In summary, gift giving can seem like one of the first things that has to be given up when the budget gets tighter, but with a little ingenuity and inspiration the opportunity can actually become a way to utilize talent and resources that would otherwise be forgotten!

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Autumn Growth

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I have attempted to grow and maintain plants numerous times before, but I’ve never actually succeeded in seeing a plant I’ve cared for fully grow from a seed to a flower or a vegetable or a fruit. Last week at the state fair in the agriculture section I got a small container with two sunflower seeds and I became determined once again to try my hand at a successful growth process!

For almost a full week I didn’t see any green sprouts coming up and thought I had, once again, failed an attempt to have a green thumb, but then two days ago a spot of green caught my eye and there it was, a tall strong spurt of growth! I can’t even tell you how proud I was when I saw it, it was so satisfying to know I am providing an environment that fully allows the seeds to grow! I am hoping that I can nurture the little plants into full bloom, and even though my record with plants is sad at best, I am always ready and willing to try again! Maybe this time success is in the future! :D

As a side note, even though it’s mid October the leaves surrounding my house have barely changed, but yesterday I was walking past the back window and the yellow leaves on this tree caught my eye, Fall is coming!!

IMG_6520 copyAlso, one of my favorite parts of our house is the fact that the backyard is pretty much a sea of clover! I thought I would finally document it, even though these photos do not do the mass of clover justice at all!IMG_6532 copyIMG_6531 copy

2nd Annual Fall Party

This past weekend was Fall break for Justin and it was celebrated with a street festival, the 2nd annual Fall party wonderfully hosted by my brother Johnny and his wife Ryan, and of course the making of the cover music video of ‘All About That Bass’ ;)

IMG_6449 copyIMG_6468 copyThe street festival was called Jam Room Music Festival and even though we only stayed for about an hour and a half (next year we’ll come prepared with lawn chairs and cash to spend!) we had a great time wandering between the 3 different stages set up listening to each band and style of music!

The Fall Party came after the festival, last year was the very first Fall Party, and it was a grand time of reprising all of the old goodies and activities, as well as making a few new memories! Johnny and Ryan have a brother/sister duo of cats named Jack and Earnest and I couldn’t help but record the sweetness that is there little faces and personalities! :D Overall Fall break was immensely well experienced, until next time then, cheers!!

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All About That Bass

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We’ve all seen evidence of my affinity for videos, music, family, and otherwise. A Christmas Decorating Video, Thanksgiving Holiday Video, Mountains of Virginia Video, and a bored Final Week of School video are a few of the projects that have found there place on this blog at one time or another. Back in the day my younger siblings and I used to work on video projects together constantly, some as solo projects other’s as joint ventures, not many of them have found their way onto the internet but a few examples are as follows ONE and TWO. Also in our repertoire of videos we have at least 5 more Bockies Shows, a numerous amount of music videos, one 15 minute video project called the Grenfield Secret which was written, directed, produced, etc. all by my siblings and I, it’s not necessarily an amazing production but most certainly a challenging feat for a 12, 13, 14, and 15 year old, and so many other movies that capture our dynamic so perfectly! I wish I had more I could link to so it might give you a well rounded perspective on our movie making ventures, but I suppose there is no better time then the present to introduce our latest video production. :D

To preface, a bit more, back in Spring of 2012 Justin and my brothers, Johnny and Andrew, created a music video to ‘We Are Young’ by Fun, it was, in a word, spectacular. Sadly the only place the video dwells online is on my brother’s Facebook, making linking it nearly useless, so instead I would like to introduce the second of music videos created by my brother Johnny and an assortment of other members, in this case Johnny’s wife Ryan, myself, my brother Andrew and Justin.

With all of that said, please enjoy our take on Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ and be warned, it may be a little too brilliant to handle ;)

a family af-FAIR

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Yesterday was $1 entry day at the state fair so a bunch of my family made plans to meet up together to walk around! Last year I went all out and made a video of our trip to the fair, but this year I went with simplicity and decided to merely shoot with my phone. The great thing about shooting with a phone is that you are so much less concerned with getting every aspect right in the photo, it allows for experience and capturing of the moment to happen a little more seamlessly.

We started off with the state produce, the pumpkins were Justin and I’s favorite part. When we walked in we saw little ones and appraised them as being quite excellent, then we discovered the following selection,

Fair PumpkinsWe thought that a 195 pound pumpkin was the biggest we’d see that night,  and then, we turned and saw THIS:

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A pumpkin that weighed more than Justin!! :D We deemed it thoroughly fit to have won the blue ribbon and continued on our way to the art. The art section included everything from kindergarten art to professional art, a couple of my favorites were the following,

Fair Art

Our favorite part by FAR at the fair is always getting to see and pet the animals!! We met bunnies and more bunnies, huge fat ones and little tiny baby ones, fuzzy cows, little sheep, expressive birds, and a somewhat frightening llama!! :D

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After the animals had been pet and hands had been washed we took a stroll down the midway in search of a treat. Last year I had gotten a funnel cake, but this year my mind was set on getting a twist soft serve cone with rainbow sprinkles!!

Fair JustinBethIn the end the night was a brilliant success, and completely worth the $1 entry!! Our family group that went this year was smaller than last year and the next year could bring changes to family members lives that take them out of the state so it could be that our fair going group will shrink once more, I am grateful though for this year and the memories we were able to make!!

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Stole the above photo from my mom, I even reactivated my facebook for a few minutes to get it!! :D

Oh and p.s. here’s some of us as butterflies ;)

Fair Butterfly

Fashion.

Picture1 I have always loved observing people’s personal style. I became aware of The Sartorialist website a good many years ago now and love visiting it now and again to see how people have dressed over the past months. Normally I don’t go to necessarily be inspired to make a wardrobe change personally, but there is one girl that Scott has multiple shots of who’s style I find fascinating and inspiring, plus the dirty blonde shade of her hair is near perfection. Her name is Vika Gazinskaya and she is a designer from Paris, France.

One of my goals in style is to be a minimalist, which can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, but I have perhaps never seen my goal in style as clearly interpreted as Vika does it. Simple, mostly pattern-less, but with clean interesting lines, clothes that are worn with nearly no accessories. 

Every time I see a picture of her street style, since she has been shot by multiple other photographers and appears on many other street style websites, I can’t help but be intrigued and inspired. I can’t seem to put my finger on what exactly it is that is so uniquely inspiring to me, but it is a mystery that I hope to unravel and apply to my own wardrobe. Picture2

Hobby Honing

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First off can we just take a second and acknowledge how weird the word ‘honing‘ looks written out…it just looks like it’s spelled wrong all the time. :D

Next, I have decided that I need to begin practicing two of my most favorite hobbies more. Photography and Piano. I have decided that I have become a bit lazy with my skills in both areas and that there is no better time then now to begin really focusing in on and shaping the interest I have for both. I would like to always remember that there is no replacement for sincere practice time and that no one is ever beyond needing practice. The photos in this post are from a shoot I did with my sister-in-law last night, there was no agenda for the shoot, just simply a time for me to work on my ability as a photographer to shoot and direct a subject. At first I felt rushed like I needed to get the perfect shot right away, but over the course of the shoot I began to feel more relaxed and reveled in the freedom to make mistakes in directions the first few times, especially if it meant finding the perfect pose after the 4th or 5th suggestion!

Practice shoots are my plan to grow my photography skills currently and as far as my piano skills go, well, I’ll say more about that soon ;)

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

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Yesterday I read a blogpost about a woman who recently bought a crib for her first (only) child. She wrote about how her and her husband labored over making the decision over the look/type of crib they wanted to bring into their home as to not upset the aesthetic or compromise their values. The crib was an unpolished/unvarnished wooden crib from Ikea, and the mattress a (used) organic cushion off of Craigslist. Their mattress choice stemmed from this direct quote, ‘For the record, yes: we’re less skeeved out by our baby sleeping on a gently used mattress than her sleeping on polyurethane foam’.

What struck me most about the blogpost as a whole was their clear ability to have the money and the access to choose exactly what they wanted. Settling was not an option, at least in regards to getting the most natural, organic, and minimalist option. This blogger is known for her strict minimalism and all natural ways, she is a role model for many and does indeed give many excellent tips and tricks for living simply. However, as I read through this post I couldn’t help but realize that her ability to choose is so beyond what I can achieve now and perhaps forever.

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Justin and I are poor. Poor now, probably poor our whole lives. We’re not without what we need, but no one, specifically in America, would call us well off or anywhere near part of the middle class. We are middle class of the poor perhaps. :) Basically, we don’t have the option to choose certain things that we have in our home. I can’t replace all of the hangers in my closet because they are mismatched, I can’t decide to purchase only certain types of sheets from certain stores, I can’t afford to buy matching furniture in minimalist designs, I can’t afford to buy completely all natural and organic groceries, I can’t throw out all of my cleaning supplies, hand soaps, shampoos and conditioners and replace them all with organic products, I can’t afford to be picky and I can’t afford to need the best.

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I don’t say all of that to gain pity, or to boost the pride of the poor who just want to condemn the rich, I say it because it’s true. I would like to say ‘for the record’ that you can still provide for your family, be concerned about their health, their well-being, your home, and your décor even if you can’t afford to buy the very best. I don’t blame the above blogger and I don’t want to make it seem like this is meant to be fuel to be unkind to those who can afford certain things, I truly believe that she loves her family and that she is merely providing in the way she believes best. What I am concerned about however, is that those who can only afford a polyurethane foam mattress could suddenly be thought of as not providing for their families as best as they can. In some ways this comes down to a personal security in knowing that you are working to give your family the best, and this security won’t be intimidated by or victimized by the way others provide for their families, but I think it’s also alright to be able to respond to strong beliefs with other strong beliefs. I truly believe that we should all work towards living more naturally, in what we eat, put on our bodies, and interact with, but I also believe in not going into debt to do so. If I attempted to replicate my life to use the products, eat the food, wear the clothes, and use the things that would be deemed the most natural, most effective for health, and best for living, let’s just say Justin and I’s student loans would be a pittance compared to the amount we would accrue in credit card debt.

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And so I live a mismatched life, with the dining room table I didn’t choose, the room décor that doesn’t match, the blankets and sheets that come from Walmart, the food that comes from Aldi, the shampoo and conditioner that contains sulfur, and a mostly hand-me-down wardrobe.

In the end, a lot of learning how to live a content mismatched life comes down to your focus. We are called as Christians to be content in our circumstances, but we are also given the rest and joy from the Holy Spirit to be so! I can find relaxed security and contentment in my home not because I have things that look aesthetically complimentary or are deemed the most natural or stylish, but because I know each and every piece was provided for me to find joy in and use out of! I don’t believe that God is overly concerned with how well your décor goes together, what I know He is concerned about though is how your are using those things to give glory to Him, both by being grateful and putting them to good use! The important part about getting this focus correct is that when/if you are able to have a home where you have everything little detail exactly how you want it, you will still be able to be discontent with your surroundings if you have not found you contentment first in Christ.

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With wisdom and contentment I strive to move forward in my mismatched life knowing that God provides good things and that it is not my goal to live focused solely on mirroring my life to those I see around me, but more on contentment with the things God provides and wisdom with funds that He has provided my family to live by! So I will celebrate being able to buy the organic animal crackers at Aldi this past just as much as I will celebrate being able to buy the pumpkin from Walmart for the future muffins that will be made! :)

p.s. Happy October!! Also I left one social network and found myself today asking to join another (ello.co - mostly just from curiosity though ;) )

it only takes 1 and i go to church with 20

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I can’t help but see their faces peeking over the edges of a sling or their mother’s shoulder. The sweet little eyes wondering at the crowds that surround them. I see their mother’s arms holding them strong, but gentle, and the trust in their expression shows how well they are loved and cared for. Little ones. Little lives.

A good many months ago now I read a blogpost about a woman who was expecting her 4th baby. And I don’t know why, but it just cut me to my heart. Selfish as it may be, and though I tried to separate my own experience from her joy, I just sat and cried out of what felt like overwhelming sorrow.  Cried as I was honest with myself about my lack of trust, cried because I can’t know for sure that I will even be able to get pregnant, cried because I’m so afraid I won’t, cried because it isn’t time yet.

You may be thinking you’d like to tell me to stop being so emotional, trust God, trust His timing, stop thinking that what I want is the best, understand that it isn’t the right timing, that we probably shouldn’t even be parents right now, that it would be foolish, that others have wanted children a lot longer than I have and are still struggling to get pregnant, to enjoy my current stage of life to its fullest, to not be so selfish.

I really am trying.

Trying to give us time to grow up, trying to give us time to work and pay off loans, trying to find the joy in what I am doing in this season, trying to remember that being a mother is not all joys, but is just as, if not harder, than working full time. I am trying to remember to keep my perspective straight.

But then I see another little face at church or happen to come across another pregnancy announcement and my resolve and trust crumble into a pile of hormonal mess that only knows I am not allowed what I so long for.

I feel as though I’ve been this way forever, always pushing this desire back from my thoughts and emotions. No, I’m not wallowing in despair. It isn’t that kind of hurt, which sometimes makes it even harder because my life can’t/won’t stop because I want a baby. So I carry the ache with me in my heart as I live, and learn to cope with the desires and periodic sadness.

I love my nieces, feel joy for those who are pregnant, smile and wave at the little faces at church, and am glad to be able to know that so many little lives are well cared for. Despite the deep ache in my heart that I can’t ignore, I am living with love for the little ones that surround me, even though they are not my own. And someday, someday God will see fit to allow Justin and I the blessing of children. I just know He will. Whether I am a Mary or a Sarah or somewhere in between, I trust Him in His love, His goodness and His mercy.

And someday, someday I will be a mother and it will be right.