The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, Ron Lieber

A great reminder that it’s never too soon to think about how we teach our kids about money and the meaning and values behind budgeting and spending and saving and giving. Added to my to-read list!

Books, j'adore

This week, I finally settled down and read a book that my husband had found for us. Technically, it’s not about babies. He and I are both terrified of our children’s adolescence (and yes, I recognize we have a few years, but it’s never too soon to start worrying about things over which you have little control, like the passage of time), and although we both spend enough time with teenagers to know we’re comfortable with them, we’re not nearly so comfortable with the value based conversations around finances we want to be able to have with them. 

I wasn’t sure it was necessary to start reading up about this topic so early, of course, but as soon as I started Lieber’s book, I was completely engrossed. Here was practical advice about how to approach the topic of money with children as young as three or four years old, as…

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March Mint

Sunset tells me that it is time to plant herbs, citrus and succulents.  Well, I’m already behind and still need to plant the peppers that I was supposed to put in last month.  So, this weekend I am catching up on that and will start to work on my succulent garden additions too.

My mint from last year is really starting to spread.


What to do with all this mint?

Mother Earth Living has some fantastic suggestions and I am particularly excited to try mixing chopped fresh mint leaves into chocolate chip cookie dough and baking for some minty-fresh cookies.  Might have to give that a go this evening!

What are your favorite things to do with mint?


Well the little guy is 7 months.  It’s definitely time to finish baby-proofing because he is ON THE MOVE.  He rolls, he flops, he crawls, he drags himself… anything to get from where I put him to where I don’t want him to be 🙂


I found a gate I love.  It’s mesh so he doesn’t whack his head on it.  It doesn’t require any holes or drilling, and it fits tight in our wide doorway.  Baby pushes on it and it doesn’t budge.  It doesn’t have a door but it’s easy to step over or take out.  We have a step in the doorway separating the living room from the rest of the house and he already goes up and down the step easily! But the living room is much easier to keep baby friendly, so we add the gate in when we want to corral him in that space.

We have outlets covered, and the TV mounted on the wall.  All cords are behind furniture.  Last on the list is the bookshelf he’s crawling around in.

I’m sure I’m missing something!  And we’ll find out when it comes crashing down.

Buying Our First Home – 4 Lessons Learned

Lesson 1) You pay for location

So living in Southern California is basically living the dream.  Except for those pesky earthquakes. And fires.  Otherwise – it’s paradise.  And who wants to live in paradise?!  Why…EVERYONE!

So what our money would buy us in Idaho or Texas…let’s just say it does not go nearly as far here. Not even close.

Now, of course we did know this before we started the home-buying process. BUT. Like any dedicated newbie home-shopper I watched a lot of lovely HGTV.  And may I recommend that you avoid this if you are also home shopping in a high-demand local?  It is so DEPRESSING seeing all the huge and amazing things you could do with your money in, say, Wyoming.

So, don’t do it.


Lesson 2) DIY is your new best friend

There are so many – easy – ways to spend gobs of money decorating and updating and repairing your new home.  But you must RESIST!

Part of why I began this blog was to begin my own exploration of how to create our nest in a way that was homey and inviting but did not entail having to pick up an extra job or three to pay for it.

On that note – there are also a lot of DIY projects where you can end up spending a lot of $$$ without realizing it.  So, my advice is look for those projects that require supplies you already have or will likely use for other things.

I’m very excited to explore fun projects with you!

Lesson 3) Be patient and kind to all the players helping you with this scary purchase.  

Namely, your real estate agent, your lending agent, your loan processor, your escrow agent….and on and on.  Remember that they are rooting for you to close the sale.

The unexpectedly frustrating part for me was the constant request by the lender for new documents for the underwriter…every few days they needed something different.  And immediately! So, be aware of all transactions in all your accounts – even if related to funds you won’t be using for your home purchase.  Everything has to be traced and understood by the underwriters.  If any family members are gifting you funds, know that those monies will also have to be sourced – so plan ahead.  And for heaven’s sake, keep all statements and receipts of big ticket items. If you do not use the online banking of your various accounts – make sure you get that set up now as that is the quickest way to get info. to the underwriters – log in and print stuff off online.

Whew.  I better buy several bottles of wine for all the thank-yous I owe.

Lesson 4) Don’t stress out your spouse!

I learned quickly that my husband would feed off my stress and that takes some of the fun out of the process.  Your spouse is also on your side.  And, just like being pregnant caused waves of anxiety in each of us (usually at different times – thank God!), the home-buying process is the same. One day it will hit home how LONG you are committing to being in this place.  Later you realize how BROKE you will be for…well…forever! But, the reasons for wanting our own nest far exceed the scary side (room for a garden! a garage! a family!).  And ultimately, we will learn a LOT in the process and have an amazing time…..gardening, painting, decorating, hanging out, having visitors, hosting parties, investing our money, and expanding our family in our very own NEST.

Now, off to gather twigs and branches to build that nest.


Time to plant those strawberries!

February in SoCal  – Garden time!


I’m already behind in my grandiose garden plans for this year, but I WILL NOT miss out again on delicious, garden fresh strawberries.  It’s the perfect time to plant them (in the Inland Empire) while it’s still somewhat cool (low 70s).  I realize the rest of the planet seems to be under piles of snow – but I will enjoy my temperate climate knowing I put in my years in snow-laden locals.


Here’s a quick trick to planting and adding weed control in one go – lay out your bags of top soil, cut some holes in the top, flip the bag over and cut off the top, leaving the plastic bottom and sides of the bag to plant your strawberries in.  Form rows for your plants in the bagged soil and in they go.  Voila!  Weed guard is established under your plants, drainage holes are there for water, and a little spreading of the soil covers any hint of the plastic underneath.  Done in 15 min. tops.

I’m dreaming of jam and pies already.