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I wasn’t going to post additional content on the blog before we left for The Netherlands. However, I wanted to drop you a quick note and say thank you! I’m grateful that you take the time to read my blog.

As small a thank you, below are three images for you to download. Feel free to use the snapshots on your desktop, blog, refrigerator, or share them on social media. I hope the photographs remind you to practice gratitude every day.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Download links:

Image 1.
Image 2.
Image 3.


1. Good reads: If you’re looking for something to read during August, check out my digital bookshelf. My favorite summer reads include Shrill by Lindy West, At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider, and Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn.

2. An epic giveaway: My friend Cait created one of the best giveaways! The Simplify Your Life and Finances Giveaway ends on August 13, 2017, 4:00 pm PDT. Be sure to enter. Details here.

3. Book sale: I extended my digital book sale through August because Everyday Adventures is available on the Kindle for $1.99. I’d be grateful if you bought a copy and left a review on Amazon. Grab your copy: Print | Kindle | PDF

Make it a great month, friends! I’ll be back to blogging at the end of August.

With gratitude,

Photo by Tammy Strobel

{This month: Grammarly, The Five-Minute Journal, an action checklist, and more.}


Our trip to The Netherlands is approaching quickly, and I’m excited. While I’m in Amsterdam, I’m going to host an informal reader meet-up. If chatting about living simply, creativity, everyday adventures, and good coffee sound fun, RSVP here.

Also, the digital version of Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life is on sale for $1.99 until the end of July August!

With that, below are ten happy links that inspired me this month. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. My sweet husband, Logan, told me about Grammarly a few months ago. I finally signed up for the service and love it!

2. I needed to change my gratitude practice because it was getting stale, so I bought The Five-Minute Journal. My first entry was on July 8, 2017, and I’ve been writing in it daily. It was a small purchase that’s brought so much joy into my everyday life.

3. A helpful resource: Weekly Action Checklist for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans of Conscience.

4. Thoughtful questions to consider: 10 questions for mid-year reflection and Do you need that?

5. Beautiful: A land you learn to love slowly.

6. Real talk: Who’s Driving Your Uber?

7. Why I Quit Freelancing (to Really Work for Myself).

8. My friend Shanna started a sweet new site. It’s called Average White Van!

9. During July, I read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Check out my favorite quotes here.

10. Instagram accounts that inspire me: @melissa_hartwig, @fiveminutejournal & @bemorewithless.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my link roundup, buy a book or share this post with a friend. Thanks!

With gratitude,

Photo by Tammy Strobel

In June 2017, I walked into my local DMV office to register our tiny house with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). We should have re-registered the little house with the DMV when we moved from Oregon to California in September 2012, but that didn’t happen for a couple of reasons.

1. We lost all the paperwork associated with the tiny house. I don’t know what happened to the paperwork. I suspect the papers got tossed in a decluttering session.

2. Losing all the paperwork lead to four years of procrastination.

I’m sharing our story because I hope it will encourage fellow procrastinators to stop procrastinating. Logan and I are responsible for our lack of action, lost paperwork, and the financial consequences of procrastinating. Onward with the story.

To register our tiny house with DMV, I gathered the following documents:

— The contract for the purchase and sale of the tiny house. The contract was missing, so we had to re-create it and have our builder sign it again.

— The receipt for the purchase of the tiny house trailer. I contacted Iron Eagle Trailer, the folks who made our tiny house trailer in Oregon, and they sent me the old invoice. Thankfully, it was still in their system!

— The pink slip for a trailer. Like all our other documents, the original pink slip disappeared, so I filled out the paperwork and had to pay for a new title with the DMV in Oregon.

— A DMV vehicle verification. A staff member at the DMV had to verify the width, length, and height of the tiny house. In the summer of 2016, a very kind staff member at the DMV drove to the family ranch (where our tiny house is parked) to verify our wee abode. I’m grateful for the staff’s help. Otherwise, we would have had to tow the tiny house into Yreka for a vehicle verification at the Yreka, CA DMV office.

— In addition to the documents above, I filled out the “California DMV Application for Title or Registration” and a “Statement of Construction” form.

In the summer of 2016, I started off with good intentions to complete the tiny house registration process. However, I gathered about half the documents and reverted to procrastination mode. To be fair, Logan said he would help with the process, but that didn’t happen.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017…

In June 2017, I walked into the DMV with a bright yellow manila folder filled with paperwork. I felt hopeful and happy. I assumed that we would owe the DMV roughly $1,000 for back fees and penalties. I was a tad off with my estimate.

We owed the DMV and the State of California $3,932. Let me break that cost down for you:

1. The penalties, interest, and back fees for the yearly cost of registering our tiny house with the California DMV totaled $1,362. I paid that in full.

2. The second portion of the cost included a California vehicle-use tax as well as penalties and interest on that tax. The tax came to $2,570.

I was shocked and ashamed that we owed the DMV and the state that much money. Thankfully, the staff members at DMV were incredibly kind and helpful. One of the staff members encouraged me to fill out a “vehicle tax clearance request.”

In non-DMV lingo, I filled out a form asking the state to waive the $2,570 use-tax. I immediately filled out the form and sent it to the California Department of Fee Administration.

Last week, I chatted with a staff member at the California Department of Fee Administration about our request. She had a few questions about the house, and we talked about why we moved back to California (due to my dad’s illness and death). I explained that I wasn’t trying to avoid the tax; I honestly didn’t know the fee existed. She told me that if you have a vehicle/trailer in another state for more than twelve months, this use tax doesn’t apply. We were two weeks short of that threshold before moving back to California to support the family after my dad died. She told me that the office would be in touch about their decision. Regardless of the outcome, I thanked her for calling and listening to my story.

Y’all, on Tuesday, July 11th, I received a voicemail from the department. Our tax clearance request was approved, and on Thursday, July 13th, I received the waiver in the mail. I immediately went to the local DMV office to finish the paperwork. Our little house is officially registered with the CA DMV, and we’ve got plates. I’ve never been so GRATEFUL and HAPPY to have a license plate!

Lessons learned and advice in no particular order:

— If you have paperwork to fill out, don’t procrastinate. Be responsible and make the time to get it done. If you don’t make the time, it will probably cost you money or more time in the future.

— Always be kind to the staff members at the DMV.  I spent hours waiting at the DMV over the last few weeks, and I saw a few people lose their temper. Being an asshole won’t advance your argument.

— After Logan and I paid off my student loan debt, we made a commitment to each other to create an emergency savings account. At a minimum, we keep $10,000 in this account. The account is separate from our retirement savings, and it’s used for emergencies or unexpected expenses. I’m thankful for this account because I could pay our late fees and penalties immediately.

— If you’re in the process of decluttering physical papers, make sure you go through every single document.

Parting thoughts …

Our experience with the DMV brought up questions and concerns about our wee home. We no longer live in the house full-time, so Logan and I have started to talk about selling our tiny house. We haven’t made a final decision about whether to sell or keep the house, and if we sold the house, I don’t know how much we’d sell it for. Regardless of what we decide, I’m grateful that our tiny house is now registered with the California DMV!

With gratitude,

My bike

Logan and I are visiting The Netherlands in August, and while I’m in Amsterdam, I’m going to host an informal reader meet-up. If chatting about living simply, happiness, everyday adventures, and good coffee sounds fun, RSVP here.

Meet-up details:

Date: Monday, August 21, 2017
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Café de Blaffende Vis

Make it a great day!

In other news:

1. The digital version of Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life is on sale for $1.99 until the end of July August! I extended my book sale until the end of August because the digital version of Everyday Adventures is available on the Kindle.

Grab your copy: Print | Kindle | PDF

2. If you purchased Everyday Adventures, THANK YOU! Also, I have a favor to ask. Would you consider rating my interactive journal on Amazon? Readers rely heavily on reviews before purchasing a new product, so the more reviews, the better! Many thanks in advance.

With gratitude,

Photo by Tammy Strobel

A few weeks ago, I wandered into Books & Sustenance in Murphys, CA. It’s a sweet little bookstore, and I enjoyed chatting with the staff. While I was browsing the shelves, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss caught my eye. I read a few sections, put it back on the shelf, and wandered around Murphys before I bought the book. I’m happy I decided to purchase the book because I love supporting local bookstores, and I’ve learned a lot from the people that Ferriss profiled in the book.

When I read a book, I take notes and record quotes in my journal. Today, I thought it would be fun to share ten quotes from Tools of Titans along with the micro-actions I’m incorporating into my daily life.

10 Quotes & Micro-actions:

Quote #1: “If you’re over 40 and don’t smoke, there’s about a 70 to 80% chance you’ll die from one of four diseases: heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, or neurodegenerative disease.” —Dr. Peter Attia

Micro-action: I’ve made a lot of progress on the health front over the last year (for example I go to CrossFit 4–5 times a week, and I’m eating cleaner). However, as I approach 40, my aim is to become stronger and leaner. I’m also avoiding processed sugar and highly refined carbohydrates because some studies suggest that they drive the growth of cancers.

Quote #2: “. . . don’t hold yourself back. I think this is a trait of a female more than a male. We have a tendency sometimes to sit on our talents and potential because we don’t want to offend anyone or be singled out.” —Gabby Reece

Micro-action: Reece’s quote reminded me to keep going and experiment with personal and professional projects (even if they fail). The idea of not holding myself back is something that I want to incorporate into my daily writing practice.

Quote #3:. “Stop drinking now. Stop drinking right now and patent all your ideas . . . and exercise compassion every day.” —Laird Hamilton

Micro-action: I’m no longer drinking alcohol, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for my physical and mental health. That’s not to say I’ll never have a glass of wine again, but drinking a glass of wine—or two—every night isn’t a habit I want to bring back into my life. Also, Hamilton’s words reminded me to pursue my ideas and to practice kindness and compassion each day. We’re all fighting internal battles, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt if they are rude, cranky, etc.

Quote #4: “Those of us who are lucky enough to live in a world where we have enough and we have a roof and we have food — we find ourselves caught in this cycle of keeping track of the wrong things. Keeping track of how many times we’ve been rejected. Keeping track of how many times it didn’t work. Keeping track of all the times someone has broken our heart or double-crossed us or let us down. Of course, we can keep track of those things, but why? Why keep track of them? Are they making us better?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep track of the other stuff? To keep track of all the times it worked? All the times we took a risk? All the times we were able to brighten someone else’s day? When we start doing that, we can redefine ourselves as people who are able to make an impact on the world. It took me a bunch of cycles to figure out that the narrative was up to me.” —Seth Godin

Micro-action: I have a tendency to focus on negative experiences, which is why my gratitude practice is a big part of my morning routine. After reading Godin’s words, I decided to order The Five Minute Journal. The journal arrived on Sunday, and I’ve already noticed a difference in my mood. I’ll share a review of the journal on the blog soon.

Quote #5: “If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for people. That draws more destructiveness.” —Tracy Dinunzio

Micro-action: Complaining less goes hand in hand with my gratitude practice. My aim is to complain less this year and be grateful for all the good in my life (hence the new gratitude journal).

Quote #6: “When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world-changing, massive action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all their friends about you.” —Derek Sivers

Micro-action: When new readers subscribe to my blog via email, they receive an automated welcome message from me. Sivers inspired me to develop a better welcome message (one that includes more humor). It’s still a work in progress.

Quote #7: “Sit in any posture that allows you to be alert and relaxed at the same time, whatever that means to you. You may keep your eyes open or closed. Repeat the cycle once per minute: bring to mind someone for whom you can very easily feel loving-kindness. Wish for him or her to be happy. The joy of loving-kindness may arise, and if that happens, bring full attention to the joy until it fades away. For the rest of the minute, just rest the mind. When the next minute cycle begins, start the cycle again, for a total of three minutes. You can do this for however minutes you choose … The timing is not important; The only thing that is important is attending to the joy of loving-kindness, that is all.” —Chade-Meng

Micro-action: Meng’s loving-kindness exercise is beautiful, and I’ve started to do this daily. However, I haven’t been doing this exercise in a seated position. I prefer doing the exercise when I wash the dishes. It makes the dishwashing process way more fun!

Quote #8: “What if [you] just can’t come up with 10 ideas? Here’s the magic trick: If you can’t come up with 10 ideas, come up with 20 ideas … You are putting too much pressure on yourself. Perfectionism is the ENEMY of the idea muscle … It’s your brain trying to protect you from harm, from coming up with an idea that is embarrassing and stupid and could cause you to suffer pain. The way you shut [this] off is by forcing [the brain] to come up with bad ideas.” —James Altucher 

Micro-action: Altucher recommends writing down ten ideas each morning in a small notebook (or on the computer). I added this exercise to my daily journaling routine, and so far it’s helped me generate new creative ideas for my book proposal and blog.

Quote #9: “Not long ago, Noah gained 40 pounds of muscle in 6 months. One motivational trick he used was loading his Instagram feed with images and videos that killed his excuses. I now do the same. Too old? Too bulky? To busy? There is someone who can call you on your BS.” —Tim Ferriss

Micro-action: This quote references Tim’s interview with Noah Kagan (Kagan is an entrepreneur). I decided to add this idea to my motivational toolbox. If I’m going to grow, learn, and build strength, I have to surround myself with positive people online and in real life.

Quote #10: “Send someone a thank-you note tomorrow.” —Seth Godin

Micro-action: Recently, I haven’t made time to write letters, and I want to write more thank you notes. More letter writing is in my future. I can’t wait to send my pen pals postcards from The Netherlands!

What about you?

What inspiring quotes do you refer to each day? Or is there a quote or book that’s sparked a habit change? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

With gratitude,

In other news:

1. During July, going on adventures will be part of my daily routine. Also, I’ll be documenting my adventures with my camera. I invite you to join me.

2. The digital version of Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life is on sale for $1.99 until the end of July! Grab your copy here.

Today, I have a photo round-up to share with you! If you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, visit RowdyKittens.com to view my photo gallery.

In other news:

1. During July, going on adventures will be part of my daily routine. Also, I’ll be documenting my adventures with my camera. I invite you to join me.

2. The digital version of Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life is on sale for $1.99 until the end of July! Grab your copy here.

With gratitude,

If you’ve read my new interactive journal, Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life, you know that I’m obsessed with everyday adventures.

As I explained in my journal:

“ . . . I’ve found that I don’t have to visit faraway places to experience the joy of traveling. For instance, I’ve discovered dozens of magical places near my home in Siskiyou County, California. My husband, Logan, and I take frequent day and weekend trips because we love exploring northern California. Exploring local sights reminds me that my adventures can be tiny, yet extraordinary!”

During July, going on adventures will be part of my daily routine. Also, I’ll be documenting my adventures with my camera. I invite you to join me.

I created a list of photography prompts that you can use throughout the month. Some of the prompts are vague; others are more specific. Use the prompts below as a guide, and remember that there are no adventuring rules. For example, your everyday adventure could be an epic day-hike or a 10-minute nature walk. As Gloria Steinem said, “ … adventure starts the moment I leave my door.”

A Month of Everyday Adventures

Here’s how the daily photography challenge works:

1. Take a photo every day.

2. Share your photos on your blog or social media. For example, I’ll share my daily shots on Instagram using the hashtag #EverydayAdventures2017. Keep in mind that sharing your photos online isn’t a requirement.

3. There are no emails for this challenge, and there is no pressure to keep up. I’m keeping this photography challenge simple.

Other important notes:

1. You don’t need a special camera to document your everyday adventures.

2. If you need additional guidance, consider buying my new interactive journal—Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life. The journal is available in print and digital formats. Also, the PDF version is on sale for $1.99 until the end of July!

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Let’s make it a fantastic month!

With gratitude,

{This month: Hiking, books, body image, a social media detox, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Hi all,

Below are 10 happy links that inspired me this month. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. I discovered Carrot Quinn’s work via Nicole, and her book, Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart, was so good and honest!

2. Books I’m currently reading: The Nordic Theory of Everything & At Home in the World.

3. So good: Anna Guest-Jelley on Body Acceptance, Trusting Your Gut, and The Process of Change.

4. This is neat: YOU-app is small steps for a happier, healthier you.

5. A fantastic piece by Cait Flanders: The Most Important Lesson I Learned During My Social Media Detox.

6. Truth: Why breaks are essential.

7. Want More Time? Get Rid of The Easiest Way to Spend It.

8. Where will you be on June 15, 2020?

9. I love Amanda Sandlin’s art and design work. Recently, she redesigned her website. It’s simple and beautiful!

10. In mid-June, I collaborated with JEDI on a webinar called The Art and Discipline of Blogging. The webinar is available to watch on YouTube!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my link roundup, please share this post with a friend or buy a book.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Update: If you missed the webinar, no worries. You can listen to The Art and Discipline of Blogging here. Enjoy!


I’m collaborating with the Women’s Business Center at JEDI and we’re hosting a FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, from 12–1 p.m. PDT. It’s called The Art & Discipline of Blogging.

Read the webinar description and register here. Even if you miss the event, you’ll be sent the recording. I hope you’ll join us on Wednesday!

With gratitude,

June 10, 2017

In June 2015, I shared the following essay with my newsletter subscribers. I decided to share this piece on the blog because today is the fifth anniversary of my step-dad, Mahlon’s, death. Lately, I’ve been thinking about love, loss, gratitude, and hope. I’ve also been seeing butterflies everywhere, so sharing this article again seemed appropriate. Wishing y’all a beautiful day.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

June 10, 2015, marked the third anniversary of my step-dad, Mahlon’s, death. It might seem strange that I track the years since he died. However, they serve as a personal marker and as a reminder: a marker of significant life changes and a reminder to continue creating a joyful life.

I used the word “continue” in the previous sentence because my life is a work in progress. I’m still learning, growing, and trying to figure things out as I go. Since Mahlon’s death, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I want to move through the world … but that’s another topic for another letter. Today, I want to talk about serendipity, spirit, and butterflies.

First, I want to share a background story …

After Mahlon’s funeral, I left my parent’s home in Red Bluff, California and returned to my home in Portland, Oregon. I jumped back into my routine and tried to get used to my new normal. It wasn’t easy because I felt overwhelmed, confused, and uncertain. Everything in my life was shifting, including family dynamics, friendships, and work, and I kept wondering if we should stay in Portland or move closer to family.

Despite my worries and sadness, I kept writing, taking photographs, teaching, and working on creative projects. Working and making time for my relationships gave me a sense of purpose and meaning to my days, even when I struggled. That sense of purpose lead me to Laurelhurst Park about a week after Mahlon’s funeral.

It was late June, and it was a perfect Portland day. People were out walking, cycling, and sitting in the park reading, plus the grass was intensely green, and it was 70 degrees and sunny.

Being in the park offered me a small slice of joy because I’d felt sad all day. I was missing my mom and Mahlon, and as I sat in the park, I thought to myself, Mahlon, if you’re here, show up as a butterfly.

I continued to sit in the park and people watch. Then, two orange butterflies appeared and chased each other through the trees and leaves. It might sound crazy or woo-woo to you, but I felt like Mahlon was with me on that sunny afternoon.

Fast-forward three years …

On June 9, 2015, my father-in-law, Roy, asked if wanted to go on a day trip with him, and I said yes. I’d been feeling unfocused all week because I kept thinking about Mahlon. Also, my Great Aunt Winnie died at the age of 97 on June 6, and her wake was on June 10—the anniversary of Mahlon’s death.

The timing was strange, and since I’d been feeling so unfocused, I jumped at the chance to go on a day trip with Roy. Roy is super cool, funny, and patient, and I love his stories. In essence, he’s an awesome dude.

We went to Orr Lake, drove on back roads near Tennant, CA, and ended up eating lunch at Antelope Creek. Being at the creek was serendipitous because Mahlon, Roy, Logan, and I camped at Antelope Creek about 12 years ago.

Roy reminisced on Mahlon’s ability to get his trailer into the camping spot at Antelope Creek. It was a rough road and a tight squeeze, and we weren’t sure he would be able to pull the camper out the next day. Roy said, “The only reason he got out was because his truck had a lot of power. And, he didn’t leave with the whole trailer. He high-centered it in the meadow.”

Mahlon broke pipes and other connections on the bottom of the camper, but those types of mistakes never phased Mahlon. He didn’t get pissed off or mad. He’d just laugh about it, move on with his day, and fix the mistake later.

I thought about Mahlon as Roy fished, and I was also trying to take photos of butterflies. They’d flutter by, pause, and then float away. I gave up trying to capture a butterfly image and sat down on an old stump to write in my journal.

I journaled about some of my favorite Mahlon memories, and as I wrote, I looked up and watched the butterflies go by. I decided to put down my journal and chase butterflies again. I was determined to get a photo of at least one butterfly. When they’d float by, I’d think, There goes Mahlon again.

I walked along the creek, and I noticed a butterfly sitting on the pebbles. It was completely still. I walked up slowly and sat down on the pebbles. I was only a foot away, and I snapped some photos. I couldn’t believe it didn’t fly away.


I thought the butterfly might have been injured, but suddenly the butterfly took off. My encounter with the butterfly lasted less than a minute.

As we were getting ready to leave, I said, “Roy, I can’t believe the butterfly let me take its photo. That was so amazing.”

Roy said, “Maybe it was Mahlon.”

I believe the butterfly was Mahlon’s spirit or his way of telling me that everything would be okay. My grief has lessened over the past three years, but it will never go away. It just changes shape over time. I can’t control the past or the future, but I can choose love over fear and find small slices of joy in my daily life.

With gratitude,

Additional Resources

Missing Mahlon will never change. When I’m missing him, or struggling with sadness or loneliness, I remind myself that I’m not alone. Today, I want to remind you that you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with grief or loss, ask for help. Find a counselor, talk to your partner or a close friend, write in your journal, or find solace in nature.

Also, I hope the following resources will help:

1. I started my daily photography project—My Morning View—to honor Mahlon’s memory. I also wrote a short photography book—My Morning View: An iPhone Photography Project about Gratitude, Grief, and Good Coffee—about the project.

From Saturday, June 10, to Wednesday, June 14, 2017, the digital versions of My Morning View are free:

Amazon Kindle | PDF

2. I highly recommend reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It’s one of the best books I’ve read on love and loss. Alternatively, you can listen to Krista Tippett’s conversation with Sheryl and Adam here: Resilience After Unimaginable Loss.

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