Just Heather

I’ve come a long way on my 40×40 project—it is amazing the things you can do when you actually make it a priority. In addition to the 6 items I have crossed off in the last year, I am working towards several more. Even if they never get completely crossed off the list, I’ve done a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have if I’d never started the list in the first place. And, really, isn’t that the real goal?

4. Losing weight has been a side effect of taking a dance class. Actually, I’m finding a lot of my items kind of lead into another. The list seemed way more random when I was writing it out over the course of a year. Now that it’s a complete 40×40 list and I’ve gotten started, I’ve noticed there is a bit more of a theme than I had expected.

5. I’ve got a good outline on a book and have actually started a few chapters. What I’ll do with it if I ever actually finish, I don’t know. I’m getting some good lessons on working with editors through my writing at Blissfully Domestic. I’m also learning about meeting deadlines as part of the Mom’s Marbles team. Maybe one day I’ll get up the nerve to pitch an agent or two.

7. I am in my last semester of college. It has only taken me 14 years. I graduate in December, after completing the 2 courses I’m taking now. I’ve already been trying to decide what shoes I’ll wear under my gown!

10. Crossing off #14 was the first step in increasing my income. I have a few other ideas as well and we’re working on implementing them. The real conundrum is a lot of my ideas would do really well, but we don’t have the time to work on them until Spencer can quit his daytime job. He can’t quit his day job until we make more money. Paradox.

12. My Girl Scouts earned a sewing badge last year. I learned a good hand stitch along with them and can now officially sew on a button. I have also gotten pretty good at machine-sewing a straight line. The ultimate goal would be to create something from a pattern. I’ll probably start with a pillowcase dress as a simplistic way to practice.

18. The Melting Pot is letter F in our alphabet dating game—that’s happening next weekend! (As is G, but Jonathan Coulton was not on my list. I guess I’m working two lists too!)

25. I have been modifying my wardrobe bit by bit over the last few months. In another year or two, it will have officially completed an overhaul. Learning to walk in heels was a large part of that. The clothes change when you’ve got great shoes.

26. We’ve been cold composting for a couple years now. I think next spring, we might be able to add some of it to the garden. It has been an interesting experiment. I’m amazed at how much food we toss in there and then a few months later it has decomposed to practically nothing for us to fill up again.

32. This summer, my mom and I froze 16 dozen ears of corn for winter use. We didn’t get our garden planted this year, though, so I didn’t grow it (Also? I don’t grow corn.). It’s only 1 food, though, not a full supply of vegetables. We have plenty of apples to put up this fall too. Next year, I hope to get to even more.

35. Although a Vegas trip is not in the works at all right now, I think just reconnecting with my husband was a good first step in the whole renew our wedding vows idea. Probably, it’s good if we’re, you know, still married when we get there.

It’s only been a year since I started working on the list. I think it’s coming along quite nicely. I have a lot of travel on there, and that’s going to be tricky to squeeze into the last few years. Obviously, completing #10 is going to be key to being able to afford most of the list! Still, it’s not even about finishing all 40. It’s about getting out of the mundane and finally doing things that I want to do. I can definitely say it’s already a complete success.

Alternate Title: How a meteor saved my marriage.

Okay, so this Perseid thing comes along every August. I am 32 years old and had never seen it. That’s why it went on 40×40“>the official list. I hadn’t made a specific plan to watch it this year, although having it on my list did put it on my radar. I was paying attention to the dates and the optimal viewing time was middle of the night the evening before Blog Indiana. I didn’t think that was wise.

Then, instead of going to bed early so I’d be well rested for my conference, I stayed up late fighting with my husband. I’ve made no secret of our ongoing struggles. They’ve come to a head in huge blowups a couple of times in the last few years, and this one was bad. As in packing my suitcase bad. Then, I read this and cried. Buckets. But it wasn’t enough to make me go back into the house. Pride, probably. Fear, a lot.

I was standing outside thinking about how many times we’ve had the same fight. Wondering how we could co-parent separately if we couldn’t even co-parent together. Trying to figure out how to make it on my own. Contemplating how you can love someone so very much and still not be able to find a way to live together. Something in the sky caught my eye, but as I’ve never seen a meteor shower I didn’t really know what it would look like or what to expect.

As I was looking up, a huge meteor, as in movie effects huge, streaked across the sky. I was doing it—I was crossing off another one! That’s when the tears started. I wanted to tell someone that I had just moved another step closer to 40×40 and he wasn’t there. I didn’t stop to think; I just tore back into the house with tears streaming down my face to tell him I was watching it and he should go watch it too.

He joined me in the front yard to see the meteor shower, but then he grabbed my hand and tugged me to the backyard for the better view. And never let go. We quietly enjoyed the show for a bit, until Spencer went back into the house for a blanket so we could lie down. We watched for a couple hours, actually, and started talking. I realized our life, our marriage is kind of like that meteor shower.

It has its darkness. It has bright beauty. And just when you think it’s over, something spectacular happens. And, just like Perseid, we’ll be celebrating every August. Our latest Alphabet Dating adventure occurred just a few weeks ago for our 12th anniversary. We’re in this together, for life; we just have a few things to figure out along the way.

Today’s 40×40 accomplishment brought to you by Wordless Wednesday:

My first manicure...

My first manicure...

And the pedicure MFJ talked me into.

And the pedicure MFJ talked me into.

It took me about a year and half to actually finish writing my 40×40 list. I wouldn’t stoop to the hubby’s level and cheat (#1. Put 40 items on my 40×40 list.), though. As I got more involved in working towards my goals, I found that the subject came up a lot with my friends, especially MFJ. During one GNO, we window shopped at a mall and saw the cutest shoes. With heels. I commented that I could never wear them because I can’t walk in heels. She stopped in her tracks and told me I absolutely had to learn and she could help. It became #40 on the list.

Enter BlogHer. The one and only professional conference that’s all about the shoes. When celebrity guests include Tim Gunn and Carson Kressley, fashion is definitely at the forefront. MFJ informed me that I would absolutely be wearing heels with my pretty dresses for the BlogHer cocktail parties. She was determined to teach me.


After a week of walking around the house on my tippy toes, we planned one of our infamous girls’ night in. It happened to be National Pina Colada Day so, naturally, that was our beverage of choice. We began with dinner, then moved onto pina coladas (including virgins for the littles). After the pineapple-coconut slushies were consumed, we sent the girls upstairs for their sleepover portion of the evening. After a few quick lessons, I was suddenly circling the house in heels (gotta love an open floor plan). We spent another hour or so walking and talking (and, okay, drinking pina coladas) before she deemed me sufficiently able to walk in heels and we collapsed on the couch.

Yet, I didn’t cross it off the list. I wanted to prove that I could actually wear them regularly. And, let’s face it, I want to be able to graduate to some serious stripper heels. Otherwise, what’s really the point? I wore casual, baby heels during the day at BlogHer, then donned my shiny new black heels each evening when I got to wear the pretty, pretty cocktail dresses. I survived the weekend rather well, I think, but I still didn’t cross it off the list. A few hours each evening just didn’t have me convinced. For BlogIndiana, I rocked the heels all day long.

That should have been good enough. I never tripped, never toppled and never kicked them off (as that would have meant losing their power). I should have stopped there. There really was no need to cavort around downtown Indy, amidst the freaks and geeks. Oh, yeah—stormtroopers! Who spends GenCon weekend in downtown Indy and doesn’t get to see stormtroopers? Not me! It was an absolutely fabulous time hanging with people I adore, great bloggers I’d never met in real life and all new friends, documented much more efficiently by fabulous people who are not me.

All while crossing an item off the list. I have officially learned to walk in heels. And I have the blisters to prove it.

When I included this on my 40×40 list, it was just a pipe dream—a vague “wouldn’t it be cool if I could help more people” kind of thing. The problem is that I can’t do it alone. The best part of what I do is being local. I can bring people the best deals and tips because I shop in their stores, dine in their towns and entertain my family in their favorite spots. If I were to simply go national by seeking out deals all over the country, I would lose that community feel that makes my site real and relevant.

Along came inexpensively” target=”_blank”>Twitter, and I began to notice followers from all over the country. I discovered that my site was already somewhat relevant to people outside of Indiana. The tips and advice I share, in addition to the grocery lists and local deals, help people live inexpensively in all aspects of their lives. I had the idea of using that niche to launch a national site in the back of my mind for months, along with a variety of related projects. One of those projects was a Facebook application—a fun way to track grocery savings and compete against your friends. We were getting close to launching it when I blurted out how much better it would be if the app were sponsored by a national site instead of just FeedIndy.

The Facebook project was immediately shelved and we set about brainstorming ways to recreate FeedIndy on a national level. I already knew I wouldn’t be doing grocery lists for other states. I also knew that I didn’t want it to be a simple link exchange. It needed to be more. It needed to be something very new—a network of people just like me who could provide deals, tips and grocery store lists that are real and relevant in their own, local communities. The next step was a domain name. FeedIndy was obviously out, but my weekly tips on saving in other areas had become such a focus that any version of Feed the World also didn’t fit.

Thus, Inexpensively was born. Our goal is to provide a whole lifestyle concept for savings. We compile weekly lists for grocery store deals, suggest ideas on living your life for less, offer tips on finding the best savings and encourage our community to be charitable even on a budget.  We connect a network of individuals from around the country to provide families with the most up to date and accurate savings tools in their own communities.  In short, we encourage families to maximize their budgets so they can use some of their savings to help improve their neighborhood.

And, that, my friends, is the official mission statement. We launch today in 4 states—California, Georgia, Tennessee and, of course, Indiana. I have partnered with The Sassy Saver, Savings with Sadie, Luv2BFrugal and IN Good Cents to expand our reach and bring that personal touch I was looking for to the grocery lists we provide each week. We are also in the process of adding 2 more states and hope to continue expansion throughout the year. In addition to providing deals for other locations, it brings new opportunities for savings as our contributing partners come with their own talents, interests and expertise.

I am excited to announce my new business venture, after months of hard work (mostly by him). Plus, I get to cross off another 40×40 item!

img_1759-largeWhen I was a kid, we went to the carnival every year around the 4th of July.  There were rides, games, cotton candy and lemonade shake-ups (which I hate but everyone else seems to love). As I got older, I realized that what carnivals really had were rickety rides, scams, dyed sugar and overpriced lemonade. As I like keeping my children safe, avoid dyes & processed sugars and generally refuse to waste money on overpriced anything, my girls have never been the fair. They have, however, been to Indiana Beach many times. That’s kind of like a carnival, right?

img_1745-largeWhen I set about writing my 40×40 list, it was all about things I want to do but never really have the time, money or opportunity.  The someday project isn’t about obligations. It’s about finally making dreams come true. Because my children’s dreams are also important, I have included two items on my list that I don’t personally care to do. Ever. However, I desperately want my children to have these memories. So, during the last week of school, when I saw a sign in our local shopping center advertising a carnival, I immediately added it to the summer fun list and started getting excited about crossing off another 40×40 item. I think I was more excited about the idea than the girls.

Lemonade Stand

Of course, the overpriced part of the equation was still a problem for me. Funds are tight these days and throwing money away at the fair, even for a good reason, doesn’t sit well with me. That’s when I remembered that the neighborhood yard sale was happening the same weekend. I decided to put together a small yard sale in hopes of raising enough to pay for an evening at the fair. The girls had listed “have a yard sale” on their summer fun list so we got to cross off two items this weekend. Three, since the girls had their annual lemonade stand in conjunction with the yard sale.

img_1760-largeWe made enough off our junk to cover dinner at Steak ‘n Shake, a few rides at the carnival, the requisite cotton candy and one game in which Lorelai accidentally won a fish. Quite ironic, since we had just gotten rid of our old fish bowls in the yard sale. Luckily, I found another fish bowl that had a previous life as a crystal ball for Stacia’s 9th Arabian Nights birthday party. The fish has apparently been named Five, though I have no idea why. That is, however, the cost of the bucket of ping pong balls she used to win him.

img_1766-largeThe girls chose the Octopus, Gravitron (aka Megatron, according to Brenia) and the Ferris Wheel to ride. I also talked Lorelai into riding the Super Slide with me, though on the way up I distinctly remembered why I stopped riding fair rides. We all survived and the girls declared it their “best day ever” so it was definitely worth the rickety climb to the top of the slide.  Brenia has made the Best Day Ever declaration every day this summer. Even though we’re just now starting the second week of summer, I am declaring the summer fun list a complete success.

Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, carpool…Life is often about to-do lists and mundane tasks, but everyone has another list. A list in the back of their minds of things they would do someday, if only they had the time. Or, if money weren’t so tight. Or, when the kids get older. Yet, someday never comes. The excuses continue, and the things on our most important list never get accomplished.

What if we all took the time to make a list? Write down the 40×40“>40 things you want to do before you turn 40. Come up with 50 fun things to do before the kids go back to school. Write down 25 creative dates for you and your significant other. It is a to-do list of things you’ll actually enjoy.

Life is passing us by while we make the list of chores and obligations. I am excited to announce the launch of my latest project! Someday I Want is about experiences, not tasks. This site is permission to think about your own personal to-do list. Write down the things you’ve always wanted to do and start crossing them off. We’ll be there, encouraging you along the way.

At Someday I Want, you have the opportunity to connect with others who share your dreams. Pair your talents, skills and resources with those who need your help to attain their life goals. Learn about people who have already accomplished things you’ve always wanted to try. Make a list, make some friends and start making memories.

It’s your life and it’s time to enjoy it, one list at a time.

2003-08-032Today is the first day of summer vacation. I am excited to have the girls home, even as I dread the constant bickering. We have big ideas, a schedule of activities and plans. I have a lot of exciting things coming for me and my series of projects too. As as spin off of my own 40×40 project and inspired by The MacLeods I am starting a new to-do/dream list.

I have enlisted the help of my girls to create a list of things to do this summer.  By the end of July, I’ll have a standard list of things to do before school begins—eye doctor, new backpacks, buy clothes & shoes, stock-up on lunch supplies—but this one is about experiences, not tasks. Some are simple (and already planned);  some will require a bit more effort (not to mention a larger budget than ours).

I’m hoping it will keep us entertained over the next few months, add a new dimension to our relationship, create lasting memories and teach the girls some valuable lessons.  They’ll learn about realistic goals, how budget is a factor and that it’s okay to fall short sometimes.  They were quite ambitious (they didn’t get the memo on the no travel thing) so we obviously won’t get to everything, but I think we’ll have a lot of fun along the way.

  1. Creek stomp. (AKA Play in the mud.)
  2. Go to the fair (double bonus—it’s also on my 40×40).
  3. Play outside in the rain.
  4. Water balloon fight.
  5. Color with Blendy Pens.
  6. Have a big sleepover.
  7. Get a kitten.
  8. Design & create shirts.
  9. Hula hoop.
  10. Fly a kite.
  11. Have a restaurant.
  12. Go to Indiana Beach.
  13. Visit the in-laws lake cottage more. (Hubby’s goal: 5 trips)
  14. Start Sunday Suppers, hosting various friends & family for dinner each week.
  15. Teach the girls to ride a bike with no training wheels.
  16. Go to Holiday World.
  17. Have a picnic.
  18. Go to Florida.
  19. Go to North Carolina.
  20. Visit all Indiana’s surrounding states.
  21. Swim in the dark.
  22. Go to Maddy’s house.
  23. Go to Georgia.
  24. Go to Six Flags and Medieval Times again.
  25. Go to the library.
  26. Go to the movies.
  27. Have a yard sale.
  28. Have a lemonade stand.
  29. Walk to the playground at least once each week.
  30. Shop at yard sales.
  31. Make crafts.
  32. Jump rope marathon.
  33. Feed the ducks.
  34. Build a sandcastle.
  35. Grill pizzas again.
  36. Have a movie marathon.
  37. Visit the Farmer’s Market.
  38. Make homemade ice cream.
  39. Play board games.
  40. Teach the girls how to play Four Square.
  41. Run through the sprinkler.
  42. Celebrate a random holiday (Go Skateboarding Day doesn’t count; he does that already).
  43. Go to camp.
  44. Pick apples & drink apple cider slushies at Stuckey Farm.
  45. Take friends to the Children’s Museum.
  46. Plant a butterfly garden.
  47. Build a living room tent.
  48. Have a PJ day.
  49. Eat lunch outside.
  50. Scrapbook our summer of fun.