Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simple DIY Cards

In need of quick and cute cards for Christmas? Don't waste money on the usual boring cards for the holidays... Seriously. It's easy to get that handcrafted look, I promise:

Pick up a package of blank notecards, some 3D scrapbook stickers, and you're all set. Choose a sticker design that is large enough for you to just place it in the middle of the card. Less is more... Don't cover each card with multiple stickers. Write your note on the inside and you're done!

The photo above is of the moving announcements that I made when we moved down here to Texas. For anyone who received one, you can expect this style of card for Christmas as well. Now, I just have to get around to making them!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Goodbye MINI

Yes, you read that title correctly. After 5 years, 2 cars, tons of events, and countless new friends, I am taking a temporary MINI-hiatus. And yes, it makes me want to jump off a bridge sad. I mean heck, I just bought Minja in January... and I nearly killed people fought hard to even get that car. He was my prize, the only thing that made trading in Moxie a little less painful. Now he's gotta go too and I get to drive a new Mazda 3 [insert less than enthusiastic and monotone "woohoo" here]. Does anyone actually get excited about buying a Mazda?

I know this is going to come across as a total "white girl problems" kind of post, but I don't care. It's really sucky and you're all just going to have to listen to me whine for a little bit. In the grand scheme of things, I'm aware that not having a MINI isn't the end of the world... I'm not THAT delusional. It just feels like I'm saying goodbye to a lifestyle and culture... and friends... and it's not just a car that's getting traded in.

Maybe whats getting to me is that this is kind of the final nail in the "moving" coffin: I've already left everything else behind when we moved to Texas. Family, friends, jobs, familiarity, and an area in which I spent my entire life. The MINI was really the only other big thing that I had up there, that came with me down here. Of course I know that I have Jeremy with me and that's most important... but regardless of how awesome our life is down here, it's still really, really hard to give up every single thing that I've come to know over the past 30 years. It's like walking to the edge of your comfort zone and saying, "Oh what the hell... and launching yourself out of it in a rocket ship."

Over the next couple of months I'll be finally able to turn this blog in the direction I've been wanting to take it from day one. Posts about decorating, and crafts, and cooking, and hobbies, and all other sorts of fun stuff like that. What does that have to do with my car? Its simple... money and priorities.

We moved down here for a better life, a simpler life, and a happier life. We came here to start a family and be able to provide for them in a way that just can't be done in New Jersey anymore. In the end, those desires all boil down to money. While we absolutely have a lower cost of living down here, we still need money to finance our dreams. This way of life that we're looking for is our number one priority... which bumps cars, and everything else, down on our list.

Could we afford to keep our MINI and BMW? Absolutely. But in the end, we don't live in our cars. They are an expense that can be minimized, leaving extra money left over for other things. Also, cars don't seem to matter down here like they do in New Jersey. Let me explain...

Where we're from its impossible to buy a new, 3,000 sq ft house in a nice neighborhood and a good school district, unless you have at least a $1mil for the house, and $30K to blow each year on property taxes. You go home at night to your 1,000 sq ft cape-style home that was built in 1950. As an added bonus, it hadn't been updated since the 70's, so you had to gut the house after you paid at least $250,000 for it to begin with. And don't forget, you're still forking over around $10K per year in property taxes on your .00001-acre piece of land.

So, since you can't afford to buy a big, impressive house, what do you use for a status symbol? Simple. Your car. I wish I had a video of what it looks like to drive down a street in some towns in NJ. You'll be in a little neighborhood full of tiny 2-3 bedroom homes and nearly every one has a BMW, Mercedes, or other luxury car parked out in the driveway ( attached garages in those homes, by the way).

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with a small home... we looked at plenty of them before we decided to move to Texas. I am well aware that it's just how life is in NJ. It has never been a cheap area to live. Unfortunately, it has just gotten worse and has now also become one of the most uppity, materialistic, self-centered, expensive, and socially competitive areas in the country. Your car, your purse, your shoes, your clothes, your kid's stroller... if you can be judged by it, you will be judged by it in NJ. Life revolves around stuff.

Of course you'll find people like this in all parts of the country, but Northern NJ probably has one of the most materialistic societal groups in the nation. And I'm not saying that there aren't people or areas like that here in Texas, but this is what I see down here everyday:

Most people have mid-priced cars and trucks in the driveway garage of their home. A home which is spacious, newer, well maintained, professionally landscaped, impeccably decorated, and full of furniture that didn't come from Ikea. These homes are also full of families who don't need to work 24/7 just so they can spend their money on designer bags, luxury cars, and other over-priced and/or unnecessary items. What happens when people don't work all the time, or have a constant financial strain? They're less stressed and happier. They can spend time with friends, family, and their children. Heck, women can even be stay-at-home mom's without putting a huge financial burden on their husbands. People here have time and money for hobbies, relaxation, and vacations. Basically, they live a happier and healthier life.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm never going to go out and buy another Coach bag or expensive car... that would be a flat-out lie. However, I don't feel the need to get these things like I was so accustomed to in NJ. I just don't feel the materialistic pressure down here. Maybe its all in my head, I don't know. But I do know that I live amongst very kind, respectful, and religious people here... and I know for a fact that those are qualities that have become almost non-existent in NJ.

So, now that I've probably lost all of you with my rambling, I'll return to my point:

While I am very sad to be losing my MINI, it is for the best right now. Sure, we could afford to keep it, but there are so many other things that I'd rather be spending that extra money on. Plus, owning a MINI right now just isn't as important to me down here as it was in NJ. Yes, I loved that car more than a person probably should, but I have big goals for my Texas life. And if I have just a little more money in my pocket, I'll reach those goals just a little more quickly.

So goodbye for now, MINI... its been a blast. Motor on.