A Reason for Living: How I Know I’m Right Where I’m Supposed to Be

Admittedly, my posts have become sparse the past few weeks with school finals approaching, so I have not been able to give proper justice to the dozens of DIY projects, tips for saving money and recipes that I have in my head, just waiting to explode onto the page. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to share this week. Since I’ve tended to veer toward the thriftily side of Thriftily Domestic in my posts up to this point, it might come as a surprise to know that I find the domestic side of life to be exponentially more important.

For me, without domestic, there is no thriftily. The two are intertwined so perfectly and destined to remain side-by-side. So I’ve decided to take some time today to talk a little bit about one of the things in my life that I am most thankful for.

His name is John. Not only is he my husband (2 months and counting), but he’s my partner in life. And yes, I definitely just paraphrased part of our vows. But I digress…

He is the person I see when I first open my eyes in the morning and the last person I see before I close my eyes at night. Sometimes I even see him in my dreams. He is my rock, my teammate, my soul. In fact, he’s my destiny.

I often think back to when we first met and our friendship began. I was a broken-down shell of a human, self-destructive as all hell, and he was a typical 19-year old guy, living a typically 19-year old life. Our lives couldn’t have been more different. And to this day, I still wonder what made him ever – and I mean EVER – decide to stick around.

I guess the reason doesn’t even matter. What DOES matter is that he helped me save myself. Even when I was beyond the reaches of anyone’s help, he still somehow managed to make a difference. He gave me the space that I needed to get well. My family and friends gave me space too, but they knew me. They knew who I really was. John had just met me, yet he did not leave. He chose to stay and I owe him everything for that.

I got my life back on track and we started dating. And here we are, 10 years after we first met, married and happy and excited to start the rest of our lives. We’re a team now. We face the world each day, together. The versatility that John demonstrates is both inspiring and humbling. When I needed space, he gave me space. Now that I need affection and interaction, that is exactly what he is giving me. It’s like he can read my mind and predict what I want and need before I even know myself!

So what does this have to do with being domestic?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines domestic as “relating to or involving someone’s home or family”. In that case, this has EVERYTHING to do with being domestic.

I’m a wife now. And I hope to be a mother someday. John is my family. He is my purpose and the reason I go to work each day. I go to school to further my education in hopes that it will benefit us in the future. When I use my research and thinking-outside-of-the-box skills to find various ways to save us some money here and there, I am doing it because of him. He makes me want to be a better person and to make us a better team.

Sometimes I sit in bed at night after he falls asleep and I just watch him (he’s going to think I’m so creepy when he reads this!). I’m thankful for meeting him. Thankful for falling in love with him. Thankful for wanting to be with him and be happy so much so that I called “time out” in my own life, stood up, dusted myself off and CHANGED EVERYTHING.

I’m domestic now. But the even more remarkable thing is that I can see John is starting to join me. This does not make him any less of the grizzly, manly man that we all know him to be, but rather it shows that we are growing together. Every single thing that we each do now affects the other. Yes, it is going to take some getting used to. But I know that we can handle it because I know what we’ve been through.

I may never know the reason that John stood by me through it all. Maybe I don’t ever want to know. Whatever it was, it brought us together and that is the only thing that matters to me. We took what life handed us and made it our very own. Sometimes we struggle, but we support each other. I am so thankful for John and everything that he stands for. If you had asked me 10 years ago where I thought I would be now, my answer would probably have been “dead”. Now, all of these years later, looking back, I finally know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be: married to my hero and soul mate, and rockin’ the thriftily domestic life!

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Cheap? I Prefer Thrifty and Fabulous!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been called cheap by those who know me. Being a huge believer in research, I will admit that it does take me a little longer than most to make a decision. Whether it’s choosing a vacation destination or how to decorate my living space, I just can’t get enough of research! It’s not that I don’t want to spend any money ever (let’s be realistic here), but I am so confident in my ability to not pay full price for (almost) anything, that it pains me to think of the alternative. But that does not make me cheap. Rather, it makes me thrifty!

Cheap, to me, implies not giving two hoots about the quality of a product or service, as long as it’s the least expensive option. I feel that thrifty, on the other hand, implies being economically smart and frugal. In the grand scheme of things, I believe that there are two financial lifestyle extremes: cheap and generous. Thrifty falls somewhere in the middle (albeit closer to the cheap side). I consider myself thrifty because I don’t just buy the least expensive product or service that I see. I weigh my options, compare their value and hunt down the best prices available for what I’m looking for.

For instance, when I am planning a vacation, I visit different travel sites, both direct and third-party. I scour the web for anything of interest to my wants and needs at the time. If I know where my husband and I want to go, then I engage in more specific research. If we decide that we don’t really care where we go, then I will conduct a more general search of web travel deals. I create spreadsheets and I make pros/cons lists to ensure that I have analyzed every aspect of the decision that’s just waiting to be made (and I’m dying to make!).

When it comes to home décor, and everyday household items, I tend to lean more toward the DIY side of things, if it’s within reason of course. My logic behind this is that a) I like to make stuff and feel the pride associated with the finished product, b) recycling old things into new wonders ROCKS!, and c) I thoroughly enjoy saving money. In fact, I’m pretty much obsessed.

Whether it’s travel, shopping, décor, cooking or just plain living, I approach all of the financial challenges that I face with my main objective in mind: to get quality products and services at a steal, while gaining knowledge that can be utilized in the future. Does this make me cheap? I guess it depends on who is judging. Regardless, I’m going to continue on my current path, gaining savings sensibility while always – ALWAYS – remaining thrifty and fabulous!

Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on the specifics of my money-saving strategies and how you can save too!

How Planning My DIY Wedding Saved My Soul

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Well, my creative soul, that is! If you had asked me three months ago, I would have told you that planning my DIY wedding was horrible, wretched, brutal and downright miserable. But, in reality, that was not the case at all. If only I could have realized it then.

After all, it was my own fault for deciding to plan a wedding amidst working full-time and going to graduate school in the evenings. But as they say, hindsight is indeed always 20/20. Together with my husband, who should undoubtedly reach sainthood after all of this, I created and pulled off the wedding of our dreams. What our dreams lacked in tradition and fanciness, they made up for in uniqueness, creativity and simplicity.

I was my own wedding planner. Over the course of our year and a half engagement, I spent hours (I’m talking hundreds of hours) researching online before making any decisions. Being on such a strict budget, I was forced into being a jack of all trades. Not only was I my own wedding planner, but you can add baker, interior designer, foreman, landscaper, event manager, handyman, seamstress and craftsperson to that list as well. Overwhelmed and anxious, I spent every spare second that I had planning.

Looking back, our wedding saved me. Since getting my life back on track nearly eight years ago, I have struggled day in and day out with my creativity. Before my life hit various speed bumps years ago, creative was the first word that I would’ve used to describe myself. I happily filled my time with crafts, sewing, photography and writing. But life got in the way and I had more important things to worry about at that point than fostering my inner creativity.

Once I steered myself onto my right life course again, I tried desperately to be creative. To write. To brainstorm. To craft. But to my dismay, I felt washed up. I started to question life and my purpose. Even worse, I started to question myself.

And then I got engaged and everything just clicked. I have no explanation other than that maybe the pressure of needing to get everything done, and making sure our 150 guests were full and happy, outweighed my own personal struggle and hesitations. As an admitted procrastinator, I was accustomed to putting everything off until it absolutely had to get done. But with a wedding, that’s just not possible (trust me, I learned this the hard way with a few wedding projects). I had to step up and make it happen. I was determined to make our DIY wedding dreams a reality.

In the end, we pulled it off (with the gracious help of family and friends, of course). My husband and I crafted our own invitations, arbor, bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, photobooth, guestbook, card box and the décor for the ceremony and reception, to name a few. I personally baked 14 loaves of various dessert breads! But we did it (thanks to many “all-nighters”). We were able to have our dream wedding with 150 guests for $7,500, including our one “splurge”: the photographer.

Since the wedding, I feel like I have my soul back. That creative drive that I felt so many years ago has reemerged. Part of me was scared that, once the wedding was over, I’d go back to being my mundane, creativity-lacking self. Boy, was I wrong!

My mind races now with different writing and craft ideas. I started this blog to help people realize their creative potential, with a budget-friendly twist. Planning my wedding saved my creative soul, unquestionably. Slowly but surely, I’m becoming more confident in my abilities and I can’t stop. I won’t stop.