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These don't crumble. They disappear!

Hi Loves!

So I was sitting and brainstorming some ideas for fat bombs recently and I decided that I wanted cookies. Isn't that the way? You sit and plan for a healthy lifestyle, Keto in my case, and immediately your mind goes to the decadent and the sweet. I couldn't get it out of my head so I decided to mold a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe into a more Keto/Low Carb friendly option. That's just the stubborn lady in me that wants her sugar-free cake and to eat it too.

Since the recipe is completely safe without baking, this make for a wonderful snack and it really satisfy the sweet tooth like noone's business. In fact, just this evening my husband made some delicious asian-flavored burgers and we had them Keto style, with butter lettuce buns, some mayo and a little red onion to kick the flavor into high gear. After all of that messy, savory, spicy goodness, it was natural that we would dig some after meal sweets. So we pounded a couple of these, fresh from the oven, and I even slathered on a bit of sugar free chocolate icing.

So, let's get on into it.


Grass Fed Butter - 1 Stick (4 oz.)
Almond Flour - 1 1/2 Cup
Swerve Confectioners Sweetener - 3/4 Cup
Sugar Free Chocolate Chips - 1 Cup
Vanilla Bean Paste - 1 tsp.
Pinch of Salt

The first step is easy: take the butter out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter to come to room temperature. Once it has done that, drop it and the vanilla paste into your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk it up until the butter is all around the bowl. Then you toss in the sweetener continue whisking until the sweetener is evenly distributed through the butter. Lastly add the flour and salt and whisk it in the mixer until it turns crumbly. At this point, you add the chips and CONTINUE to let the mixer distribute everything evenly. When it's done, mix the dough around with a spatula to get any of the last little bits clinging to the bowl. 

Yeah. It should look like that!

From here, it depends on how you want to divy the dough up for consumption. I prefer to use a small cookie scoop and make little bite sized balls then throw them into the freezer. You could also just put the dough into a jar and spoon it out when you want it. 

You could also put a bunch of toppings on the dough. Icing, chocolate syrup, mint ice cream. The sky's the limit. Let's have a little crowd interactivity and if you make this recipe, send me a photo of your topping selection! Bonus points if you keep it low carb! Otherwise, please leave a comment and share if you enjoyed this recipe. Have a great day!

Even the duckies love a good treat now and again! Except instead of tossing them some bread or cookies, try going to the store and springing for a big bag of sunflower seeds. You can get a 20 pound bag of sunflower seeds for around $10 at Lowe's. That will feed your little feathered friends for a few weeks and will be better on their little bellies than a bunch of white bread. We've got a bunch of mating pairs of mallards and canadian geese running around with their little peepers tagging along. The two in the above are slacking but I'm sure we'll see some little fuzz balls running around soon!

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She's. My. Blueberry Cheesecake... pie.

Hi Loves!

Another week and another recipe for you! To celebrate this short Spring and the coming Summer, we've been busy tending to our sprouting garden, enjoying long walks in nature, me learning to fish for the first time since I was a little girl and my husband trying to bag us a Spring turkey. We've made a commitment to being out in nature more so we are planning some hiking trips to get stronger and go farther. I love spending time outdoors and being one with nature, feeling the breeze on my face and the grass under my feet. We are working on having a healthier lifestyle overall.

Today, however, I have for you a rich, velvety and tart blueberry cheesecake. I'm not a cheese-o-holic but my husband and best friend absolutely dig them some cheese. They can almost make a meal of nothing but a tub of marinated mozzarella balls! They have even been known to add grated parmesan to anything resembling pasta or meat sauce.

Unlike most cheesecakes, which are thick and rich and, well, cheesy, I went a slightly different route and whipped up some heavy cream for this particular recipe. The result was all of the deliciousness of cheesecake but not quite as heavy. This makes for a perfect Spring/Summer desert. To further brighten things up, I added a beautiful and tart blueberry compote to the top and grated some fresh lemon zest over that. The lemon adds a perfect amount of zing that really heralds the coming heat of summer. My husband and his family completely demolished a whole cake over Mother's Day weekend. My father in law, who is diabetic, was in absolutely in love with this recipe, which also happens to be sugar free!

So, without any further ado, here is the recipe!

Crust Ingredients:
Almond Flour - 1 1/2 Cup
Salted Butter - 4 Tbsp. (left out until room temperature)
Swerve Confectioner Sweetener - 2 Tbsp.
Salt - 1/4 tsp.

For the crust, set the oven to preheat to 350 degrees and pour the ingredients into a bowl and use a fork (or a pastry cutter) to mix the butter with the dry ingredients. You want a nice, crumbly texture with the butter evenly distributed. When that's done, press the dough into a generously greased round pie tin or cake pan. I prefer a spring-form pan to make it easy to get the cheesecake out later. Set the pan into the preheated oven and let it bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Pull it out and let it cool.

While the crust is busy doing its thing in the oven, it's time to juggle the making of the cheesecake base and the blueberry compote.

Filling Ingredients:
Cream Cheese - 16 oz. (2 bricks)
Swerve Confectioner Sweetener - 1 Cup
Heavy Cream - 1 Cup

Put the cream cheese in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Turn in on medium and let it whip up the cream cheese for a couple minutes. Then add the sweetener and continue whipping. Finally, add the heavy cream and continue mixing/whipping until the filling makes soft peaks that fall gently. You do it in this order so that the heavy cream doesn't go directly into a whipped cream. You want the filling to be lighter than typical cream cheese filling but still that thick, rich dairy deliciousness that reminds you of a cheesecake. I certainly wouldn't begrudge you a few tastes throughout this process, you know, for the sake of making sure the consistency is on point.

At this point, you should have enough time to start working on the compote.

Blueberry Compote Ingredients:
Frozen Wild Blueberries - 1 Pound
Lemon - 1 Fruit, juiced and zested
Swerve Granular Sweetener - 1 1/2 Tbsp.

In a large pot, toss the blueberries and put them on medium heat. Add the lemon zest, juice and the sweetener. Stir regularly for 15 to 20 minutes, until the blueberries look like they are covered in thick dark purple syrup. Reduce the heat if necessary because this is a bit of a slow process but its necessary to keep the blueberries from burning.

Once the crust is cooked, the filling is whipped and the compote is cooked, allow the crust and compote to cool completely. When they're cool, layer everything into the springform pan. Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth it out with a spatula. Then, pour the compote over the top of the filling. It might help to spoon the compote over the filling to make sure that it fills an even amount of space. When this is all done, place the cheesecake in the freezer for about an hour to speed up the solidifying process then put it in the refrigerator and keep it refrigerated until served. Zest a lemon and sprinkle it over the cheesecake when serving to further give it that POP of citrus.

And that's it! Relatively simple. Absolutely delicious.

I'm gonna plug for Swerve sweetener for a second. You will likely have noticed that it's used in every component of this dish. I discovered it recently when looking into sugar alternatives. I was impressed by the fact that it measures like sugar and doesn't leave a weird flavor. It also doesn't cause an upset stomach like you see with many sugar alternatives. It's basically pure erythritol sweetener with oligosaccharides and natural flavors. Oligosaccharides are good for promoting good gut health and erythritol itself is absorbed primarily by the small intestine which makes it easier on the stomach compared to other sugar alcohol derived sweeteners.

It is a little pricey at about $8 for a 12 ounce bag, but it is definitely worth the investment if you have a sweet tooth and are trying to cut sugar out of your diet. I can tell you that it made for a damn good cheesecake. So, if you feel like you need the sugar, go ahead and use the same measurements. If you don't need the sugar, then I promise you won't be disappointed. I hope you enjoyed the recipe and if you liked it, please share and leave a comment! Have a wonderful day!

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Hi Loves!

Do you know what ghee is? It's this wonderful, rich, fatty substance that comes about when you cook butter just right, then remove the milk solids with a sieve. I have been acquainted with ghee for pretty much my whole life, growing up in an Indian household. Everything from small dishes, to entrees, to dessert, my mom and grandma made all sorts of delectables.

Kind of like clarified butter, Ghee goes a step further by being cooked longer. This not only results in the same kind of substance like clarified butter, but it brings out this lovely, nutty flavor. The cooking process also concentrates the flavor of the ghee and makes it more, well, buttery.

Some great things about ghee besides the flavor:

Cooking: Ghee has a higher smoking point than regular butter. Regular butter starts smoking at about 350 degrees. Ghee is closer to 485 degrees. This makes it more ideal for cooking than regular butter. It's very good for baking and sauteing. I make a mean steak with some thyme and ghee!

Heatlh: Ghee has excellent amounts of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. It also has much reduced or even no amounts of lactose and casein, which many people have severe sensitivity to. Then there is the more concentrated amounts of butyric acid which is good for digestion and at reducing inflammation.

Flavor: Yeah, it's pretty good. Enough to mention twice.

One thing is always common with ghee, and that is that it tends to be a bit pricey. A small jar can easily set you back at least $10. So, you might find that you can save a few bucks doing this yourself. It helps that this is probably the easiest recipe I've got on this blog and you can't mess up this one at all, unless you have a habit of forgetting the pot on the burner. Then you must be careful please! On that note, let's get started!
List of Ingredients:

Butter - 16oz of salted butter (Use good quality, grass-fed butter for this. We prefer Kerrygold).

Things you need:

Cheese Cloth
Large Strainer
Slow cooker
A glass container big enough to hold roughly 2 cups of ghee. I prefer a mason jar with a rubber seal and a locking lid.

This is extremely simple: Set a timer for two hours and let the butter melt and slow cook on low until the milk solids separate at the bottom of the slow cooker. When the time is up, turn off the cooker. Cut a good sized piece of cheese cloth, about 4 times the size of the strainer. Then fold that cloth in half twice. That should make it about the right size for the strainer and you will have 4 layers of cloth to strain out the solids. Place the strainer over your container. Now, carefully, and with oven mitts, pick up the slow cooker insert and pour the ghee through the strainer and into the container. Make sure you do it slowly so that you don't waste any of this precious gold!

When you've got it all, use a silicone spatula to press the remaining ghee out of the cloth. Now, just let the ghee cool, with the lid open, to room temperature. Once the ghee has cooled, it is ready to be used.

I'm not going to spoil the fun by giving you a bunch of recipes but I will say that this stuff, brushed on some pretzel buns, tossed in an oven set to broil and pulled out just when the edges start to crisp is wonderful. A perfect accompaniment to a Man Cave turkey burger with some caramelized onions and arugula with a bit of mayo.

So, I'm very hungry now. I'm going to go eat. Meanwhile, I really hope you all enjoyed this post. Please share and leave a comment if you could! Have a great day!

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Hey Loves!

How are you all? I apologize because I've been M.I.A. for a while, but I'm back at it again! Today, I bring you a salad to herald the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Here in Indiana, the temps are still on the chilly side, so on a warmer day I took advantage of the weather and made my husband and I some delicious dinner. We had tossed around ideas for a while about springtime ingredients and I decided that nothing is better than a good lamb leg steak. Seared nicely on the cast iron skillet and flavored with fresh thyme and butter, these lamb steaks were a perfect accompaniment to the salad of baby kale and pear. Topped with some goat cheese and whole pecans, this salad is already a winner for the spring. Only an amazing, to-die-for dressing is suitable to complete this green deliciousness. For that, I put together a mustard and lemon base with honey to sweeten the deal.

My husband and I enjoyed our dinner outside on our patio while a warm breeze flowed across the lake and we watched geese and ducks bathing in the lake. Enough of this talking and lets get started!

List of Ingredients:

Lamb Leg Steaks - 2 steaks, bone in
Thyme - Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
Butter - 1 Tablespoon of KerryGold Salted Butter
Black Pepper - 1 Teaspoon Freshly ground
Salt to taste

Get started by selecting the perfect lamb steak. Ideally, you want something with plenty of meat and plenty of intramuscular fat around a nice slice of the leg bone. We always found excellent cuts at Whole Foods but this time we were brainstorming while at another store and just decided to pick up the best cut of lamb leg we could find. We brought home this example in the picture below. It's more of a shoulder steak but still had a good bit of the leg bone inside. I made this work for us but the downside was that it had a few rib bones as well as a good amount of connective tissue to remove. I really like the good solid leg bone in the middle which helps with the flavor. You can see the pink marrow that will start to render and flavor the basting liquid.

Once you've found the perfect steak and brought it home, take it out of the package and give it a nice rub down with salt and pepper. Preheat the skillet to medium-high heat with a bit of oil if needed. We keep our skillet well lubricated at all times so I just tossed it in when the temperature was right.

I'm a leg girl. A lamb leg girl!

 Let the leg sear for a few minutes. Add a bit of butter to help it along to get a crust, but don't add too much, you don't want to smoke yourself out of the house! Once you see the meat start to brown at the edges, and the meat has released from the skillet (you can move it around the skillet with little effort), go ahead and flip that bad boy. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature, when it gets to about 135-145 degrees F, add the thyme and remaining butter, let the butter melt, and start to spoon it over the steak. Keep an eye on the temperature while you do this. Most people STOP at 145 to get medium-rare lamb steaks. I like to take it through to at least medium, definitely not well done, because no one likes chewing on lamb leather.

When it has hit 160 degrees, remove the steak from the skillet and let it rest on a plate. Cover with aluminum foil and let it be fore about 10 minutes while you prepare the salad.

 I make this bad boy look goooooood!
Baby Kale - 5 oz.
Bosc Pear - 1 sliced to wedges
Raw Pecan - 1/2 cup
Goat Cheese - 1/4 cup, crumbled

Yellow Mustard - 3 Tablespoons
Lemon - 2 Juiced and Zested
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Honey - 6 Tablespoons
Garlic - 1 small clove finely chopped or 1/4 of teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt to taste

For starters, get everything prepped. Slice the pear into wedges, crumble the cheese, juice and zest the lemon and chop the garlic. If you like, you can chop up the pecans as well but I like the whole pieces, if for nothing else than for the beautiful presentation. When you're done, go ahead and prep the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well emulsified. Give it a taste to make sure it's to your liking and making adjustments accordingly.

When all is done, go ahead and set up the salad, toss it however you like and plate it all. Slice the steak into strips and place them on the side. Last thing, just before you eat, drizzle on your fabulous dressing. Finally, enjoy!

I hope you liked this dish as much as we did. It was truly a perfect weekday evening for us, I hope it will be a great meal for you and your family. If you like this recipe, please share it and leave a comment. Have a wonderful day and enjoy the blessings of Spring!

The bigger, meaner, kinds of my little fatties!

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Hello Loves!

I can't believe it's going to be SPRING soon! Yes, I know, it's been "Spring" for a while now, but I think we can all agree that this Spring has been a little slow to start. I'm so excited for the warm weather and all of the plants waking up from their winter nap. With the flowers starting to bloom, I've got a few projects in mind that I think you all will enjoy.

The BIG project is our little raised garden. A couple years back, Christian built us a small 11'x3' raised garden so that we could enjoy some fresh vegetables and herbs on our apartment patio. We are going to provide regular updates to show how we get from seed to storage to table. This year we are going to focus on making some good pasta sauces, with San marzano tomatoes, basil and garlic.

We are also planning several trips around the state to go hiking and getting more back to nature.

Of course, I'm also going to provide a few crisp, fresh springtime recipes to get this season started right!

I also recently celebrated my birthday and the weather happened to take a pleasant turn while my husband and I enjoyed an extended weekend, which brought with it some delightful cupcakes from the Flying Cupcake here in Indy. Their Chocolate Ganache cupcake was absolutely awesome!

I turned the big 3-0 this year and I'm going to share with you what my goals are for my 30's and how I plan to reach them.

As a celebration of warm winds finally finding their way to central Indiana, I decided to take apart my Christmas wreath and rebuild it. I'm a big believer of using what is already available to you instead of buying more things to add to your pile. We are almost completely out of storage space in our little apartment so I made this beautiful wreath using nearly everything from my collection. As I said before, I already had the wreath from Christmas. The magnolias were hidden all the way in a dark corner of our closet. Even the wreath hook pulled double duty for this decor piece. All that was needed was to unscrew the reindeer from it before putting everything together.

The final touch came in the form of the 'E' that hubby and I picked up from Michael's while we were out for my birthday. With our last initial glued to the wreath, the total cost of this project was less than $5! Just in case you are interested in making something similar, I'll link everything that I used below:

Wreath - Hobby Lobby 
White Magnolias - Michaels 
Pink Magnolias - Michaels 
Intials - Michaels

I used a hot glue gun to adhere the 'E' to the wreath. The magnolias were just woven into the wreath and trimmed as needed to fit. In order to make sure that my work didn't come flying off of the front door whenever it was opened or closed, I wrapped some floral wire around the wreath and the hook to keep everything nice and tight. And that's about it. Very simple. Very little mess. And if you're like us, you'll get some compliments from the delivery gentlemen when you sign for your pizza!

I hope that this simple and pretty wreath inspires and helps you to create wonderful decor with things you already have at home. Not only does it help you save a little cash, but it will also help you to reduce the clutter in your storage spaces. If you enjoyed this post, then please share and leave a comment! Have a wonderful Spring!

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Hey Loves!

Today is going to be a guest post by my husband, Christian. My husband and I have dug ourselves into debt to the point where it has started effecting our lives and our happiness. It's to the point where we want to get out of debt and stay away from credit cards for good. We've also been craving minimalism and self-sufficiency. We are tired of renting but we refuse to get into more debt so therefore were trying to pay off all of the bad debt and school loans before we starting looking for a house and get ready to start our family. So, without further ado, here is Mr. E.

I think we all get to the point where we realize that debt is a constricting monster. It starts small sometimes. You get a credit card with a low limit, maybe $300-$500, to build your credit as a teenager starting to go to college. You commit to building your credit and only use it for some groceries or gas here or there. Then, you figure "Well, I've got the limit. I can use it to buy that game console I really want and just pay it off quickly." or "It's just $300. I can go out with my friends and have a good time and then worry about paying it off later."

Hi, my name is Christian. My wife has mentioned me numerous times in this blog. I should know since I edit these posts for her before they make their way to the screens in front of you. Like many of you, I have made the same mistakes as above and more. Both of us have. We convinced ourselves that debt was a necessary evil. That you need credit to do anything of worth. Or even worse, that we can purchase this or that and we will pay it off later.

We found ourselves being constricted by this monster that is part societal pressure but mostly lack of personal discipline and direction. It's a bit difficult to admit that we have had trouble with finances, but they say that admitting that you have a problem is the first step. When you understand that there is a problem then you are in a position to start finding a solution. That understanding is what led me to pick up The Total Money Makeover by Mr. Dave Ramsey.

What I found when reading this seemingly generic, self-help-guru looking, book is that this is a fellow that gets it. According to his own website, Dave was a millionaire by age 26, making $250,000 a year with all of the bells and whistles coming along with it; beautiful house, new cars, etc. Along the way, he managed to dig himself into a massive debt hole that caused him to lose everything. Dave isn't the only one.

Let's see some numbers. I have gathered these all from
  • Total Revolving Debt (98% of which is Credit Cards) in the US: $798.3 Billion as of May 2011
  • Average Debt per household: $6,600.
  • Average Debt per household if you only count those that use credit: $15,799
  • Number of credit card holders in the US: 178.6 Million
A direct quote from the website: "Let’s say you have exactly the average credit card debt of $6600. You manage to get a balance transfer to a new credit card without any balance transfer fees at 12% interest – just below the national APR average right now. If you paid only the minimum payment which will start around $132, it will take you over 23 years to pay back your debt and you will pay $6144.87 in interest."

But that's just credit cards. Things look even more bleak when you consider consumer debt. Consumer debt is non-business related debt that is accrued without a credit card, such as lines of credit.

  •  Total Consumer Debt in the US: $2.43 Trillion as of May 2011 
  • Average Debt per household: $16,046.
  • Average Debt per household if you only count those that use credit: $54,000
  • The average college student graduates with $20,000 in student loan debt
  • In 2009, 1.4 Million bankruptcies were filed.
Those are a lot of numbers, the website has a few more if you're interested, and they illustrate the problem well enough. Debt is strangling many people and their families.

Maybe you have even found yourself stressing over reducing your own debt. If so, I want to help if I can. My suggestion for your first step is to buy or borrow a copy of The Total Money Makeover. If you aren't convinced then I will go over the 7 steps that Dave outlines in his book: the Baby Steps.

Before we get into it, I want to be clear. I know that many people use credit very responsibly and don't use more than they can pay off from their budgets each month. Many people like to use credit for the "benefits" that you accrue, such as points that can be redeemed for gift cards, air miles or even to pay off some of the balance on the credit card/line. Many people do see credit as at least a necessary evil. I get it. At the same time, my wife and I have come to disagree with folks that believe this way. For us, credit is not a positive thing, it is a pitfall. A pitfall that most people are conditioned to believe is wholly necessary in order to live in the modern world. Once we discovered that credit is actually unnecessary, it made it easier to commit to these steps.

Do you want a car? Save up for it or purchase what you can afford. You don't need a brand new car if you can't afford to bankroll it. If you're committed to dropping debt, then this is the reality. Buy a car for a few thousand or less that will last you for a couple years while you attack your debts.

Want a house? Don't take on the biggest payment you can afford a month. In Dave's method, he suggests finding a home that you can REALLY afford. That means getting a 15 year fixed rate mortgage in which the monthly payments don't exceed 25% of your monthly income.

It sounds difficult. That's because it is. It's hard to get out of debt. But if you really want to cut the credit noose once and for all, continue reading. Before you get into the Baby Steps, it is essential that you sit down and budget your money. Budget EVERY monthly cost and consider EVERY income. We use the EveryDollar app that you can download to your phone or tablet. If you're so inclined you can purchase a premium subscription and attach your bank account to the app and it will automatically populate the incoming and outgoing money for you and make it a bit easier. Once you have budgeted and know where your money is going, it's time to hit the Baby Steps for real. Let's get it started!

Baby Step #1: Save $1,000 for a beginnner emergency fund

This is how you get started. The goal is to dump all of your excess funds into paying down your debt. But what if life happens? That cheaper vehicle that you have may need repairs or you may need to fix some stuff in the house. Maybe you have to take a kid to the doctor. You will need SOME safety net. As quickly as you can, generate $1,000 and put it in a separate savings account. This an EMERGENCY fund. Don't make excuses to pull from it for Sunday night pizza or for entertainment.

To make it even harder to misuse, I suggest a Money Market Savings Account from Ally Bank. It's an online bank that has some of the highest APY's for savings accounts that I have seen. The money market savings account has a debit card but allows for only 6 transactions/withdrawals a month. This is good to discourage frivolous spending. It also makes your emergency fund easily accessible should an emergency arise. All you do is drop it in your lock box for that rainy day and your emergency fund is save and sound.

Baby Step #2: Pay off all debt but the house

Here is the big part. Only the second step but one of the biggest steps as it signals that you are turning your life around for the better. This is where the Debt Snowball comes into play. The Debt Snowball consists of a list of your debts, from the smallest balance to the largest. You will pay them off in this order. You make all of the minimum payments but you throw all of your excess money at the end of your budget into the smallest debt. When you pay that debt off, you take the extra money and throw it at the next largest debt. This way you make progressively larger payments to pay off the larger debts.

Here is a very simple example.

Credit Card #1
  • $300 balance
  • $35 minimum payment
Credit Card #2
  • $500 balance
  • $35 minimum payment
Student Loan #1
  • $2,000 balance
  • $100 minimum payment
Income for paying debt
  • $200 a month
Pay Card #2 and Student Loan #1 on the minimum payment. Put the extra $65 towards Card #1. Once Card #1 is paid off, roll over that $65 into the $35 you're already paying on Card #2 for $100 a month going into that balance. Once Card #2 is paid off, roll over that $100 into Student Loan #1 for a total monthly payment of $200. Make payments until all debt is paid off. Incidentally, this will take you about 14 months to pay off these debts at this rate. This doesn't take APR into account. It's just an example to show how this plan works.

Some might ask, why not pay the higher APR debts first? You could do that if you want, but by paying the smallest debt off first, it makes for a more progressively increasing monthly payment and it provides you with some encouragement. You can do this! It will take time but at the end of this hard work is a lifetime of debt-free living!

Before we move forward, a note on the Debt Snowball and your emergency fund. So, you get in an accident and you pull from your emergency fund to pay $500 for the insurance deductible. Now you don't have the full $1,000 in your savings. In this case, press Pause on the Debt Snowball and replenish your savings to $1,000. Once you've done that, resume the Snowball and get after it again. It will take some time but don't be discouraged, you're on the right path. 

Baby Step #3: Save 3 to 6 months of expenses

First off, Congratulations! You've paid off all of your debt, except for your house. Take a moment and breathe it in. No creditors calling, no debt collection, that much less stress in your life. It's good isn't it? However, you are far from done, so don't lose that intensity. Not only are you leaving debt in your rear view, but financial struggle in general. Every step moving forward is going to build on the foundation that you've laid by removing debt from your life.

In the first step, you saved up a bare minimum amount of money as an emergency fund. Now, you expand on it. Since you have no debt now, except for the house, it should be relatively easy to build up your emergency fund to cover 3 to 6 months of your expenses. Experts suggest 3 to 6 months of expenses because life happens. Cars break down, roofs get old and people get sick no matter what you do. The point behind saving up expenses by the month like this is also in case you and/or your spouse lose a job or becomes temporarily disabled. Yes, you might get lucky and find a job right away but sometimes it takes a while. By saving up according to your expenses, you ensure that you can keep the lights and heat and fill up your car and fridge while you are out of work.

Dave Ramsey recommends getting Disability insurance for these instances as well, but having this built up emergency fund will cover any eventuality.

Baby Step #4: Invest 15% of household income towards retirement

You never figured you'd get to this point did you? I mean, you thought about it, but never actually did anything about it right? Don't worry, we did the same thing. But there is a reason that all of the financial people and old folks say to start saving for retirement NOW. The more you contribute now, the more your money will grow before you start taking distributions when you get to a certain age.

If you aren't sure what to do about saving for a retirement, look to your company for your first step. Many companies have 401(k) plans in which they will match your contributions up to a certain percent or dollar amount. Take advantage of this if possible! I actually work for a company that makes contributions regardless of whether I make contributions so we were blessed.

If your company doesn't have any retirement or 401(k) plans, visit your bank or other financial institution to learn about the Roth IRA. The main difference between these two vehicles for retirement is in the taxes. With the 401(k) all of the contributions are made directly from an employees paycheck, by the employer, before any taxes are taken out. The annual limit for 401k contributions is $18,000 for those under the age of 50. Those over 50 may make an additional $6,000 in "catch-up" contributions.

With a Roth IRA, the first difference is that the individual seeking retirement investments goes directly to the investment firm to set up an account. There are no employer contributions but because the plan is not limited to what an employer determines, the investment opportunities can be greater. Also, the contributions made to the retirement account are done with after-tax income but annual contributions cannot exceed

Another difference is that investment gains made with a 401(k) are not taxed, however, distributions taken from the account after the individual turns 50 are considered taxable income. With a Roth IRA, no investment gains are taxed and no income taxes are levied.

If you want to invest more for retirement than what is allowed annually, you can look into other retirement plans. If you have a 401(k) with your employer, you can look into a Roth IRA to contribute the rest of your retirement funds.

Baby Step #5: Save for College

We all probably have some sort of student loan hanging over our heads. As mentioned above, the average college graduate will have a $20,000 student loan bill hanging over their heads at the end of their program. With that in mind, wouldn't you want your children to avoid that as much as possible?

There are mixed feelings on college. Some say that it is essential to make a decent living, others disagree. I find that both sides of the argument make good points on the matter. Regardless of whether your child goes to an actual college or not, it's a good idea to set aside funds for any kind of post-secondary education after high school. This is where Baby Step #5 comes into play.

If you have children or plan on having children, then look into starting a College 529 plan or an ESA. I'm sure you're asking what they are.

A College 529 is a post-secondary only savings plan that is good for parents who make more than a certain amount ($110,000 Single, $220,000 Married, Filing Jointly) and want to be able to save up a good chunk of change quickly for their children. Contributions made to the Plan are not taxed until after $14,000 has been reached for the year. In this instance, Gift Taxes may apply. The total plan limit is between $200,000 and $500,000 depending on the state of residence. And then, if the child in question does not go to college, the plan beneficiary may be changed to any other person, so long as they are a relative.

A Coverdell ESA (Education Savings Account) is an education savings plan that is good for elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. This plan can only be used by parents who make less than $110,000 (Single) or $220,000 (Married, Filing Jointly) and the contribution requirements are a little tighter. Whereas the 529 plan is an account in the name of the parent (or someone whoever opened the account) with a named beneficiary, the ESA is in the name of the child and the bank is the custodian. Also, while there is no limit on lifetime contributions, there can be no more than $2,000 in contributions per year. Then if the child decides not to go to college, then the ESA beneficiary may be changed to another child or, when that child turns 30, they will receive the funds in a distribution, less income taxes and a 10% penalty.

There is more to these savings plans, so I strongly suggest looking into them. Even if your child doesn't go to a typical post-secondary school, you might be able to use these funds towards their education. If nothing works, you can always just start a simple savings account or invest in some mutual funds, anything to get your young ones off on the right foot without a debt burden!

Baby Step #6: Pay off your Home

So you've gone from hopeless and in debt to hopeful and in control of your finances. You've started to save for retirement and your children's futures. You even have an emergency fund for when Murphy comes for a sleepover. But you aren't QUITE out of debt completely. If you followed the Baby Steps tightly and have a house payment, it's time to tackle that. Every bit of excess money you have, throw it at that mortgage. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, interest only or even a 30 Year fixed rate, consider refinancing to a 15 year fixed rate. This will save you on interest and will encourage you to pay off faster.

If you don't own a home, I would think about getting into one. If you are smart about the home buying process, you should be able to find a house payment that doesn't exceed 25% of your monthly income or less. Try and stick to a 15 year fixed rate mortgage if you can, you don't want to be tempted to take your time to pay the place off. The goal is to be without any debt payments in as little time as possible. You're almost there! Maintain that intensity that brought you this far and get it done!

If you elect to go ahead and buy a home, we have read some good things about the FHA loans which are good for those with bad credit, no credit or unconventional credit, which might be the case since you've just gotten your debt taken care of.

Baby Step #7: Build Wealth and GIVE!

All of the hard stuff is over. Now it's time for the fun part! Enjoy your life! Set some savings aside and buy that awesome new(ish) car that you've wanted. Take your spouse on a celebratory vacation to whatever tropical paradise suits your fancy. Or, use your newfound financial freedom to build even more wealth.

You can invest in rental property and become a landlord or start your dream business. You can max out your retirement saving and live in comfort for your golden years or just give the grand-babies a full ride to their school of choice.

What many wealthy people say is the absolute most fun you can have with your money is by giving it away. Share your blessings and become an inspiration for others to take the same path and become financially free. It's all up to you now. As Dave Ramsey has said numerous times: "Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else."


This concludes the Baby Steps as explained by Dave Ramsey. My explanations were by no means in depth or exhaustive. As I have said in the beginning of this post, seriously, get your hands on a copy of the Total Money Makeover and start listening to Dave's podcasts. He even has a radio show that you can catch every weekday. I strongly, strongly, STRONGLY recommend hearing the "Debt Free Screams" and the thousands of testimonials of people who have followed the guidelines listed above. This is not a gimmick. When you put these steps into practice and stick to them you will get out of debt. You can do it! I believe in you!

I hope that I've encouraged you and given you some sort of inspiration to get yourself into a place where finances are no longer a source of stress. This is your life and you will take control of it!

I hope that you have enjoyed this post. If you have any questions or comments please give Shelly a message. If you have questions about what you have read here, let her know and I will get back to you as best as I can. Have a wonderful day and a prosperous year!

Shelvina E
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Hello Loves!

I hope this finds you all doing well. Today, I am going to bite the bullet and start to share about something that I don't feel altogether comfortable talking about. I'm going to talk about my Bipolar Disorder and what I am doing to cope with it. I'm usually fairly open but I also don't usually do heart-to-heart posts like this. Please bear with me as I go over the last couple of months.

Do you ever you feel like you're drowning, yet nobody to can save you? Even when you're surrounded by a ton of people?

That's how I feel pretty much every day or every other day. My mind races and races and rarely settles on ideas long enough to get something creative done. Which is sad because I feel that I am incredibly creative but I don't often have something to show for it. I also go from happy to sad or angry at the flip of a switch. I can have the best day ever, but someone might say something to me, my brain then over-analyzes what they said, and my emotions go through the wringer the rest of the day. I become impulsive; ask my husband how often I have cut my hair with a knife or a box cutter, even though he promised he would give me a hand when he gets home. I have such a strong sense of urgency that I can't stop myself from doing something. I struggle with money, I create all kinds of reasons why I need something, when I really don't, and end up buying what I feel like. Then there is the flip side, my depression. I have days where I literally can't wait to get out of bed because I want to get so much done, and then there are the days where I have this dark cloud hanging over my head and I don't even crawl out of bed. I don't eat, I don't drink, I watch videos on Youtube and pin things to my Pinterest boards and dream of all the things I want in life, then I realize I don't have those things and I sink even lower. I don't shower for days, barely brush my teeth. I won't discuss our sex life but let's just say that it, too, struggles. I don't work, I struggle to even think about leaving the apartment to go for a walk most days. I am constantly worried that the people around me are looking at me and thinking, "What the hell is her problem?", judging me at every opportunity.

Back in mid October, I was in the worst place in my life. My mania (the Bipolar term for when you feel "high") had gotten so bad that I hardly slept but maybe 8 hours A WEEK. I was so careless and impulsive. My husband was constantly asking "Why did you do this?" but I never had an answer other than I just felt the need to. But it was weird, I felt so great but I felt so out of control that I literally felt like I was drowning and no one could save me from myself. It was at that point that Christian decided that he couldn't do anything more to help me without us seeking out someone who knew how to handle Bipolar Disorder.

Does this sound familiar to any of you reading? If so, it might be time to see a professional, if you haven't already. I don't say that lightly, because I have been terrified to see a therapist or mental health doctor for the last 6+ years.

Those of you who know me or have read some of my posts  know that I was previously diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I lived back home in California, but the doctors I saw there just threw medication at me but rarely tried to help me work through the issues that I had that exacerbated my illness. I was on all kinds of medication that helped me stabilize my moods, helped me sleep, bring me up or down or just not worry about anything and walk around like a zombie all day. I was scared that seeing a doctor this time would be exactly the same. But I was more scared of breaking up our marriage after having just celebrated our first year as husband and wife. Granted, we have been together for over 6 years, living under the same roof, so Christian has become accustomed to my ups and downs. He also noticed how bad I was becoming. I could no longer rely on holistic and natural healing to live my day to day life.

So he got on the Psychology Today website and used their search engine to find a good therapist near us to get started with my healing. That is how we met my therapist, Denise. I've had about 6 sessions with her since we started visiting back in mid-October and we are just now starting to dive into the past issues that are affecting my present and future life. When you see a therapist, typically they will spend some time getting to know you, figuring out how you do things and generally why you do them. They will typically observe the way you answer questions, your demeanor, in addition to what you actually say. During this preliminary period, they get an idea of what you need and will likely recommend a psychiatrist or other medical doctor which is licensed to provide medication, if they feel you need it. In my case, Denise recommended a doctor that worked in the same building as her, Dr. L.

When I visited Dr. L., he started off by evaluating me to see if he agreed with Denise's own evaluation of my mental health. He agreed that I had Manic Bipolar Disorder, Type 1, which means that I suffer from the most severe form of Bipolar with a harder lean towards the manic side than the depressive. He and Denise also agreed that I have severe anxiety and some PTSD. I was in an accident back in January and I still haven't had the courage to get into a the driver's seat of a car, so I believe that is an accurate assessment.

Following a short discussion on medications, he decided to put me on some mood stabilizers: Divalproex ER and Aripiprazole, also known as Abilify. I was scared initially of being on medication but my life was being turned upside down without professional help so I figured we would give it a shot. I'm going to go ahead and plug for GoodRx and say that if you aren't checking them out for your medications, you should start. If any of you are acquainted with mental health medications at all, you will know that they can be crazy expensive. Depakote goes up to $265 retail price and Abilify can reach almost $800 for a month supply! But my husband looked into GoodRx at the suggestion of his insurance company and the total cost was $63.17 through Costco's pharmacy. That's amazing! Please check it out!

Divalproex is primarily used as an anti-seizure medication but is also commonly used to treat the manic stage of Bipolar Disorder. It's also good for treating migraines. Aripiprazole is an anti-psychotic that is used to treat Schizophrenia and manic episodes of Bipolar Disorder. My doctor also suggested to take Benadryl to further take the edge off and help me sleep (I was already doing that because the week before I started to take the medication I slept 8 hours in 5 days.) The main reason for all of these medications was because I was worried about becoming addicted, like can happen with medications like Zanax or Valium or some sleeping medications. So my doctor guided me towards non-habit-forming medications, which I really appreciate.

As of this posting, I have been on my medications for over 2 months. My husband and I, as well as our friends, all notice a gradual change. When I first met my doctors, I was going weeks without consistent sleep schedules, staying awake for 24 or 48 hours and crashing for 14 hours for sleep, if I was lucky. Now, I sleep pretty much when we go to bed and sleep through the night. When I was being evaluated by Dr. L. he had trouble understanding me because of how fast and erratic my speaking was. Now, I have an easier time slowing down my speech and getting my thoughts out of my mouth gradually. I had crazy, 0-to-60 style attitudes. I would be depressed one minute, the next I would be bouncing around and hyper. Now, I feel much more evened out than before.

Are all of the issues dealt with? No. Not by a long shot. Many of the issues are still there and still affect my day to day life. But I feel like my mind is better able to sort through them when we go over them in therapy.

Do I still practice holistic health? Yes, to a degree. I still enjoy good things like golden milk, essential oils, crystal healing, general healthy eating. I just no longer rely on it as a whole treatment of my Bipolar because it didn't help enough that it made my life improve. I have always believed in both holistic and conventional, or modern, medicine and I feel like having both in my life have helped significantly.

That was a lot to divulge and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you are reading this and going through a similar problem, I just want you to know that you aren't alone. I am here for you if you need me. I know that this journey of mental illness is a tough one, but it is one that we can all overcome. With just a little hope, a little faith and a big village, it's possible to live in such a way that you can be happy. You rule your illness, not the other way around.

To help you on your way, I've put together 5 ways that I cope with my Bipolar Disorder.


When I am having a rough time with anxiety, my go-to method of combating the racing mind and heart is meditation. Whether I have the presence of mind to get a whole station set up or if I am in a hurry, I make sure to sit up straight, cross my legs with my arms on my knees, and breathe deep in through my nose and out through my mouth. The goal is to focus all of your mind and energy on your lungs and breathing and detouring your thoughts into that central location. When I can, I set up my diffuser to pump out lavender essential oils, I grab a few healing crystals and really amp up my anxiety neutralizing power. Sometimes my meditation turns into a Yoga session. When I'm done, I'll move on to my next coping method:


My absolute favorite thing to do when I'm feeling a little manic is to cozy up with a nice steamy cup of tea. My favorites are lavender and chamomile, bumped up with some lavender essential oil. Like meditation, it helps to just focus on the heat, vapor and flavor of the tea. I also enjoy my family's recipe for ginger chai that helps ease the stomach as well. This is especially lovely if it's cool out and you can cuddle up on the outside chairs and enjoy the warmth from the tea.


Yes, it's that thing that everyone suggests but we never really love doing until we've already done it. If you're feeling stressed, and have anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour of free time, throw on the sports bra, your favorite active leggings and get after it! Studies show that exercise releases endorphins which are natural painkillers. If you are struggling with a racing mind, then exercise has another beneficial effect: if you're focused on trying to kill it at your workout, you aren't worried about your other problems. Exercise helps you lose weight and improve your overall health which also helps with your mental health. A healthier body is more hormone balanced and, if you're like me and have PCOS, that's a very good thing! Burning the excess energy also helps get a more consistent sleep pattern. I personally like just cleaning up the living room, throwing in a DVD from Shaun T's Insanity workouts and getting it done. When I'm done, I feel SO much better! Give it a try!


This one is probably considered even more unfun than the previous. I have a big problem because I love to eat my feelings. My personal weakness is sweets. My husband's is salty food. When we feel lazy, we hit up Wendy's and come home with big burgers and big soft drinks with a big frosty. Afterwards we usually feel like crap and we can even feel our blood pressure spiking. When I am consistent with my diet, I feel amazing and my health problems are significantly reduced. Last year, my husband and I stuck to a ketogenic diet for several months. During those months, we felt better than we ever have because we were losing weight and putting real nutrients into our bodies. ANY diet can work wonders if you discipline yourself and stick to it. I don't care if you are ketogenic, vegan, vegetarian, atkins, paleo, they all can make you lose weight and improve your health. Make sure that you are taking in as many vegetables as possible and limiting processed foods. And, of course, be sure to get a good amount of water to stay hydrated at all times.


It's absolutely important to keep yourself busy. No, you don't need to be going 100 miles an hour every day and then crash a midnight to do it again in the morning. That can have the opposite effect. What I am talking about is keep your mind occupied so you are less likely to become anxious. When I was involved in my car accident in 2017, I was stuck doing very little while I waiting for my arm to heal. Since then, I haven't worked aside from working on this blog. I also haven't made myself work harder in my day to day life. Many days this led to all sorts of anxiety problems. On days that I kept myself busy, working on the blog or cleaning or coming up with new recipes or crafts, I felt so much better and more distracted. When you are sitting still, watching TV all day, you're not burning energy, you're not occupying your mind and you're not treating your mental health. Get up, put together a to-do list, and get it done. Do this every day and actually schedule some down time for some intentional thinking so you can become more proficient at lowering your anxiety.

And that wraps it up for this post. I hope that it helps if you're going through trials like I am. Remember that we can all help each other. You are not alone! Dealing with Bipolar Disorder is a fight but one where it's okay to bring some friends to help. If you have questions or comments, please let me know! Have a great day!

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Hi Loves!

Any who know me fairly well know that I suffer badly from anxiety. One of the things that really helps to bring me down from my anxiety is the scent of lavender. It really helps calm my nerves! What I usually like is putting couple drops of lavender essential oil, mixed with some coconut oil, on my wrist so I have an immediate source of calm on hand. Or, rather, on wrist. I also like putting plain Young Living Essential Oil on the rest of my pulse points. I have found that this particular brand is gentle enough to put on my bare skin without any irritation.

Sometimes, you need a little more immersion into the lavender love. So I put together this Honey Lavender Body Scrub. With most of the items already in your pantry, this is a remarkably simple recipe. I used my favorite Young Living brand essential oil but you can certainly use whatever brand you prefer. I buy a lot of Fresh Thyme and Now brands which are both great but I still prefer Young Living for ingestion and dermal use.

It doesn't apply to this post, since it's a scrub, but if you want to you can generally ingest Young Living brand essential oils, such as Peppermint oil in your tea or Lemon in your chicken or fish dish. The brand representatives that we have spoken with all agree that this brand is okay to ingest, as long as they are derived from plants that you would typically eat. You would eat Basil or Cinnamon but you wouldn't generally eat Frankincense and Myrrh. Other brands are usually better for aromatherapy or limited skin use when mixed with some coconut oil. With ANY brand of essential oil, you should try very limited use at first to determine if your body will have any reactions.

So, without further ado, here is the soothing scrub for your aching everything!

Here is the list of ingredients:

Sugar - 1 Cup
Coconut Oil - 1/2 Cup
Young Living Lavender Essential Oil - 30 Drops
Honey - 2 Tbsp.
Dried Lavender - 3 Tbsp.

And here are the directions:

It's very simple. Gather all of your ingredients and mix them together in a glass or ceramic bowl. It's important that you don't use plastic as it's possible that it can become damaged by the essential oils. Certain properties in the oils can degrade the plastic and the plastics can destroy the oils and nobody wants that, especially since some oils can be pretty costly.

The ingredients should be very evenly mixed, no big clumps of anything. When you're done, deposit the mixture into your favorite glass container. I got a few of these little glass jars from the container store! To make it pretty, sprinkle some leftover dried lavender over the top and there you have it! This is perfectly placed next to the sink to give yourself a quick scrub before washing your hands.

So I hope you love this scrub. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to let me know! Have a wonderful day!

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Hey Loves!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Last year many of you absolutely loved my wreath and tree. I got such a warm reception that I decided to do a mini photo tour of the holiday decor around our home. I truly love this time of year. The lights, the decorations, the gifts, the food; I adore all of those things! I especially enjoy the process of decorating my home while listening to some Christmas music. It's such a stressful activity while I'm doing it but I can't get enough of the atmosphere that the holidays bring.

I'm going to apologize in advance for the mini-ness of this tour but with getting ready to see my family for Christmas for the first time in 6 years and getting the apartment decorated it's been a very busy month. I just wanted to make sure to share at least a few pictures to sprinkle some holiday joy for all my loves that follow me!

In addition to showing you some of my decor, I'm going to share with you 5 of our holiday traditions towards the end of the post.

So, go on and see!

So, this was a very exciting year. How so? Well, my wonderful father-in-law bought Christian and I a brand new, full sized tree! No more 3 foot tall tree for me! Don't get me wrong, I could make that little tree sparkle like a diamond for Christmas. But now I can decorate a Big Girl tree! We raided Hobby Lobby, Michaels, TJ Maxx, Homegoods and Lowes finding new ornaments to fully deck out our tree. We made sure to get one special ornament (one of our traditions) to commemorate Christmas as a married couple. It's that lovely white and gold ball in the picture above. If you look carefully near the top, you can see the golden heart ornament that we got for our first Christmas.

I expanded my decor to other parts of the apartment this year besides just the tree and the wreath. I put together this beautiful garland piece on our entertainment dresser. The garland is from Lowes, the flocked picks are from Hobby Lobby, the bulbs are from Michael's and the stockings and deer bust stocking hangers are from Homegoods. Can you believe that those stockings are UGGs and we found them at Homegoods for under $15 a piece? My point is to not be afraid to shop around for your decor. There are all sorts of options out there and you don't need to break the bank to make your house look good!

Of course, the holidays aren't complete without a creative coffee and tea station! Unfortunately we couldn't do a crazy amount of decorating to this area but I found a few pieces to tie it in to the rest of the home. We have had the Mr. and Mrs. mugs for a while but I dressed the cake stand that they sit on with the JOY sign. I also kicked up my artistic side with the chalkboard above.

On a side note, if you want to flavor your coffee or tea, I really recommend checking out Homegoods. We found all of those syrups there. Such things as S'mores, Pumpkin Spice, GLAZED DONUT, Peppermint Mocha and Salted Caramel can be found for under $6. I am obsessed with Peppermint Mocha flavor at this time of year!

And this is one of my favorites. I'm so proud of this centerpiece you see above. Unlike 95% of the greenery you see around the apartment, this is composed entirely of REAL greenery that we found at Trader Joe's. The candles and jars are from Goodwill. The mirrored base is actually an embossed four piece mirror that goes on the wall. We never put it up after we moved and I found them while I was digging up Christmas decorations. The place mats, plates, bowls, napkins, napkin rings and silverware were all dug up at Homegoods. Oh, and the wine glasses we found at Goodwill as well.

Of course, since I set the  table, we haven't touched it because we don't want to mess it up!

And that about does it for the photos that I have. I hope that you've enjoyed them and I hope they give you some inspiration for next year!

Oh yeah! I'm not going to forget about our Christmas traditions! Some of these we are going to start this year and some we have already started.

  • Buy A Special New Ornament! We've been doing this since before we got married but we've focused on getting even nicer ornaments to celebrate the holidays together.
  • Leaving Out Cookies For Santa! Yes, we don't have children yet. But I am a child at heart and I want to pretend that Santa actually exists. If you encourage your young ones to believe in Saint Nicholas then it's always fun to preserve the magic of Christmas in this way. And it's a valid excuse to make some delicious cookies!
  • Incorporate As Much Real Greenery As Possible! This isn't so much a tradition as a determination of mine to move away from using as much plastic. We already throw away so much garbage and I feel that it's a great way to be green and enjoy your greenery.
  • Go And Look At Lights! Some people might think it's creepy of us to slowly drive through neighborhoods. But we like to appreciate the beauty and hard work that goes into decorating the outside of your house for the holidays. A place called Reynolds Farm Equipment up in Fishers always has a huge setup! So pretty! 
  • Buy A Simple, Meaningful Gift For Eachother! We seem to get wrapped up in the holidays every year but we forget to actually get eachother an actual Christmas present. We are going to start making it a tradition to get eachother at least one simple and affordable gift.
 That's all for now but we will do more in the future, I have no doubt. Especially when we have children!

What do you think? Do you have interesting Holiday Traditions? How does you decor look this year? Leave comments and share! I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of our Christmas decorations! Have a great day Loves!
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Hey Loves,

Even though it's getting chilly outside, I am back with another way to make your outdoor space look amazing and be functional on a budget!

If I can share anything with you, it's to not be afraid of considering things that other folks throw away. My husband and I live in an apartment and on our way to an evening out we found a very nice, yet damaged, trunk dumped out near a dumpster. We saw it and thought how easily we could fix it and add it to our small apartment patio.

This is just one example of things that you can find that some folks are only interested in throwing out.

Isn't it pretty cool? Of course, you should investigate thrown out or otherwise used items with some care. You want to inspect them to make sure there are no pests, like bed bugs or termites, or that there are no other health hazards, like black mold. A rule of thumb that my husband and I have is that, if we find something that someone has thrown out, it shouldn't have fabric or padding on it. That helps lower the risk of health hazards that you can't see. Of course, it's all up to you but this is just our own rule. Some folks don't mind reusing old couches, chairs and even mattresses. Not us.

You also want to make sure that it is, after all, okay for you to be grabbing someone's old, thrown out furniture in the first place. Since this was next to an apartment community dumpster, we didn't feel odd about grabbing it. If it were out on the curb in front of someone's house, then it's still technically their property. It's also, most likely ON their property so it then becomes a matter of trespassing. So just be careful and if you have any concerns, try and ask the owners.

Don't take this to mean that you should go roll around in the garbage, but that you could definitely find some hidden gems if you care to take a look.

So, without further ado, here is our little coffee table/storage bin project. I'll describe some of the ways that we fixed it up to make it fit our space!

The first step is to repair the damage. In the photo before the one above you can see that everything looks to be in pretty good shape. But the photo directly above shows that one of the legs with a wheel has been broken off. It's difficult to see but there was also alot of dirt and grime coating the other three wheels. You could barely see the heads of the screws that held the legs on. It was a bit of a mess. But one what we decided to get cleaned up.

To clear up the grime around the screw heads that kept the legs on, we just scraped at it with an old butter knife that was nearby. You could use a pick or a box cutter. We tried using a flathead screwdriver at first. We got the grime cleared up enough that we could get a good grip on the screws and draw them out. There was so much crud in there that a couple of the screws really didn't like leaving their home. Unfortunately one of the screws was so insistent on remaining where it was that we ended up breaking some of the wood slightly.

When you have things like this happen, get some wood glue and try and stick the broken off piece back where it came from. If it's not a major structural piece then don't worry too much about it. We just want it to look good.

Now that we've removed the old legs, and buttoned up the damage, we will get it cleaned up and ready for paint.

The first thing you want to do when dealing with old wooden items like this trunk is to strip it of the old coats of paint, or in this case, the clear coat/sealant. This trunk just had to be cleaned and roughed up for the paint. You can either just grab a few slices of sandpaper or, if you're like my husband, use this project as a new excuse to buy a new sander. We used the rotary sander to strip the surface off of the trunk. Typically, you'd use at least two different types of grit to do this. A more coarse grit is good for getting the cleaning up done quickly. Once all of the old surface is sanded off, use a finer grit to even out the wood and make it nice and smooth. This will help the paint adhere smoothly to the trunk.

The same principles apply to sanding this by hand. It will get done but it will likely take longer.

The next thing we did was to add legs to the table to keep it off of the ground and well within reach of the patio seating that my husband made earlier this year. You can glue some legs to your furniture, figure out a way to attach them to it, but we got lazy when we hit Lowe's. We found out that other folks had dealt with the same issue and the market had replied with an easy way to add some legs to our trunk.

As you can see in the above photo, we found these metal attachment points right next to the legs that were pre-threaded to screw right into them. They only cost $15 for the plates and the legs so it's not expensive in the least. The plates have their own screws to attach them to the bottom of the trunk then you just screw in the legs good and tight. Of course, being such a quick and easy method of affixing some legs to furniture, they might be a little crooked. Ours were but the metal is soft so you can gently bend them a little in whatever direction you need to straighten them out.

Once the legs are screwed in place and you've made sure that they are straight, turn the trunk over and check for it to be level. If it is a little off, use your sander or sand paper to remove some of the material from the longest leg or legs. Remove a little material at a time and constantly check for levelness. When it's level, go ahead and turn it over. We are going to do one more thing before we paint.

One thing about old pieces of wooden furniture is that they are definitely NOT weatherproof. They have cracks and crevices that hold onto water and that leads to mold and damage. We want to get rid of those so that it helps keep out water. For that, we will use a wood filler and a scraper tool to press it into the cracks and smooth it out. We got a nifty tube of it which made application really easy. Just make sure that, when you use the filler in the tube, you squeeze it around to mix all of the ingredients thoroughly. When the ingredients are mixed thoroughly, squeeze it out over the crack or damage. In the photo above, we fixed a spot where the trim was separating from the lid. In the photo below, you can see my husband pressing the filler into the crack. Let the filler dry for the prescribed length of time on the container then sand the location to smooth it out. If needed, apply more filler until it is filled completely. This will allow the paint to completely coat the trunk and seal water out.

We had a much deeper cut in the front of the lid. In the below photos you can see the rough fill then how it was cleaned up before we painted.

When you're done applying the wood filler, make sure you sand the areas around the repairs. Now you can paint! Put down 2 or more coats of your favorite color. We were lazy so we used some spray paint. We put down 2 coats of the color and 2 coats of satin clear.

Note: With older furniture like this, the sealant or whatever oils that were originally used can seep through the paint job and ruin your hard work. Even with 4 coats of protection. I am speaking from experience because the old chemicals came through some spots. To fix this problem, first lay down a couple thick coats of primer that is made for covering up old oils. THEN use your paint and clear coat of your choice.

And that's it! All that we spent on this project was ~$35 for the legs, paint and wood filler. This resulted in a table/storage solution that would have cost nearly $100 in some stores. Of course, I realize that this is coming as temperatures are dropping and being outside isn't as often an order of business, but it can serve as a place to put your hot chocolate while you curl up under a big blanket to watch the frost melt off in the mornings. For us, it does exactly that and also gives us a place to put some of the blankets that we want easier access to. However you do a project like this, I hope it comes in good use for you! I hope you also learned a few things to help in fixing up some old furniture instead of tossing it away!

Enjoy the Fall while it lasts because we have Thanksgiving coming up this week and Christmas soon after that. I hope you all have a wonderful day Loves!

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