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Everyday Adventures

Friends,

For the last six months, I’ve been working on a secret passion project, and it’s finally ready to send out into the world. This passion project is an interactive journal called Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life

Here’s the description:

Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life is an interactive journal. It includes twelve tiny quests that will enable you to explore what your community has to offer, document your adventures, enjoy tiny beautiful moments, and find beauty and magic anywhere. Photographer and writer Tammy Strobel encourages journalers to record observations about their daily adventures with words, photos, drawings, watercolors, and more. Discover that your adventures can be tiny, yet extraordinary!

The journal is available to purchase on amazon.com. In addition to the paperback version, I’m selling the journal in an 8.5 x 11 PDF format. Buy the PDF version here.

If you decide to purchase Everyday Adventures, PLEASE leave an honest review on Amazon. Readers rely heavily on reviews before purchasing a new product, so the more reviews the better! I’d also be grateful if you shared this post with a friend.

And last but not least …

I’m self-employed but I don’t work alone. From blog posts to books, my creative projects take a team effort. A big thanks goes to:

  • Debbie O’Byrne for her superb design skills
  • Chris O’Byrne for his copyedits
  • Tina Gower for her cover design advice
  • Shanna Trenholm for being a first reader and excellent content edits
  • Logan Smith for his constant encouragement and endless love

This project wouldn’t have come to fruition without the folks I listed above. I’m incredibly grateful for their support and encouragement. As Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Thank you for reading my blog and supporting my work. I appreciate you! Happy journaling, friends.

{This month: A Homemade Life, The Case Against Sugar, hygge, happiness, 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. A Homemade Life—Molly Wizenberg’s book is beautiful. It’s filled with gorgeous prose and mouth watering recipes. In early March, I made Molly’s coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache. They turned out so good! I don’t keep many books these days, but A Homemade Life has a permanent home on my tiny bookshelf.

2The Case Against Sugar— Gary Taubes’s book is research heavy, but it is so GOOD!

3. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy LivingThere are awesome ideas in this little book and so many connections to living simply & joyfully. Also, the author is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute. If you’re interested in hygge or happiness research, check out Meik’s work.

4. And speaking of happiness, Norway is the happiest country on earth.

5. Have you read Rachel Macy Stafford’s book Only Love Today? It’s filled with doses of encouragement and inspiration. I really enjoyed it.

6. Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year—I’ve been thinking about mindful budgeting all year, and Tim Ferriss’s interview with Mr. Money Mustache was excellent. Also, his interviews with Krista Tippett and Dr. Phil Zimbardo were enlightening.

7. How to Be A Person in the World—I’m in love with Heather Havrilesky’s writing. I highly recommend reading her weekly column and book.

8. Treating Yourself is Not the Answer—a beautiful and brave post by Cait.

9. The Wisdom of Nokia’s Dumbphone—this article made me think about getting a dumb phone again.

10. Discover Siskiyou—a beautiful new website featuring Siskiyou County. Come visit friends!

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

With gratitude,
Tammy

P. S. I’m releasing something special soon! Details here.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

My obsession with tracking every penny and saving more income amped up in January. Part of me feels like my desire to save more and spend less is a control issue. My worries about the Trump administration—and the direction of public policy—continue to grow. I fully realize that I can’t control politicians or public policy, but I can control my actions, which include spending and saving mindfully, calling my representatives, being a kind human, etc.

In addition, the five-year anniversary of my dad’s death is approaching quickly. As a result, I’ve been thinking about the fragility of life. There’s a lot I want to experience before I die, and some of those experiences require money. For example, Logan and I want to live abroad for a year. (This probably won’t happen until our early 40s.) We’re also planning a trip to Amsterdam this year. (More on that in a future post.) In short, making some of our dreams come true means we need to save more. That’s where our food and dining bill comes into the picture.

The Numbers

Whenever I read essays about money, I find it helpful when people share real numbers. Today, I’m going to share our numbers with you. By sharing this information, I hope it will provide context for our situation and give you a few ideas, too.

During 2016, Logan and I spent $11,281 on food and dining. That’s roughly $940 per month! When I looked at the numbers, I stomped my foot and yelled, “Holy shit, Batman! That’s a lot of damn money!!!!”

Leaving Batman aside, below is a list of what’s included in our food and dining bill:

  • Groceries for the house
  • Dining at restaurants and fast food establishments
  • Cafe stops
  • Coffee and tea for the house
  • Food and coffee gift certificates for friends and family (we prefer gifting people experiences rather than things for birthdays, holidays, etc.)
  • Alcohol

Friends, we’ve taken our DINK status too far. On the one hand, I’m ashamed that we spent so much money on food during 2016. On the other hand, I’m incredibly grateful that we have the resources to eat well and to share the gift of good food with loved ones. However, I know we can spend our food dollars a little more mindfully (and have fun with the process).

How We’re Slaying Our Food Bill

In 2017, our aim is to cut our food and dining bill by 50–65%. That seems like a huge decrease, but with a little planning, I believe it’s possible.

Here’s how Logan and I are going to make it happen:

1. Tracking spending. We’re tracking every cent in Mint and reviewing our purchases a few times each week. As we get into the routine of going to the store less for food, I’ll probably only do this review once a week.

2. Planning meals. My CrossFit coach, Mykala, turned me onto meal planning. I love sitting down every week and mapping out what we’re going to eat. I always thought meal planning would be boring, but it’s actually helpful and fun. Since I know what I’m going to eat, I don’t have to agonize over each meal. Also, the types of meals I make aren’t complex.

For example, here’s what we ate last week on Wednesday:

  • Pre-breakfast: Brew coffee.
  • Breakfast: Rolled oats with 1 tablespoon of almond butter, 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 teaspoon chia seeds & 1 teaspoon of shredded coconut flakes mixed with hot water. This breakfast bowl takes less than five minutes to prep.
  • Snacks: Small apples, tangerines, coffee, tea, and lots of water.
  • Lunch: Black bean tacos with sour cream, cheese, spinach, and hot sauce.
  • Dinner: Tilapia with coconut rice and asparagus.

As a side note, we slow cooked one pound of black beans on Sunday. Pre-cooking food like beans, chicken, rice, etc. cuts down on cooking tasks during the work week.

3. Less easting out. Other than buying expensive groceries for the house, we spent way too much on dining in 2016. That includes going to coffee shops, nice restaurants, fast food, etc. We’re still going to eat out in 2017 but less frequently. Also, the more I learn about cooking real food and baking, the more I love it. I’ve even been fantasizing about going to culinary school.

4. No booze for me. I began to reevaluate relationship with alcohol in July 2016. Forgoing a nightly glass of wine (or two) has been good for my body, mind, and wallet. Logan and I were spending between $25 to $50 per month a month on wine. Now, that money is going toward our CrossFit membership. This is a much better investment in my overall well-being. I’ll eventually write an in-depth essay about why I gave up drinking alcohol.

5. Buying in bulk. We buy in bulk from local grocery stores or via ‪amazon.com. For instance, I love making coconut rice and Logan is going to experiment with a few coconut curry recipes. Recently, Logan did a little price shopping for coconut milk at local stores and online. He ended up buying a dozen cans of coconut milk from ‪amazon.com. That might seem crazy, but we have an Amazon Prime membership and this bulk purchase made sense for us. If the price is right, we’ll do the same for rolled oats, quinoa, dark chocolate, and other staples in our diet.

6. Growing food at the community garden. Yreka has a beautiful community garden that’s only a few blocks from our home. Logan was the gardener in our family last summer, and he’ll be playing in the soil again this summer. I’m excited to see if we can lower our food budget by growing some fresh food.

Parting Thoughts …

When I look at the list above, it feels really basic to me. It also seems like I should have this shit nailed down by now. With that being said, I’m trying not to be hard on myself. Instead, I’m looking at everything with beginner’s eyes. Logan and I began our downsizing adventures over ten years ago, and we continue to learn, grow, and make mistakes along the way.

Further Reading & Listening

Tim Ferriss’s interview with Mr. Money Mustache

Killing your $1000 Grocery Bill by Mr. Money Mustache

Grocery Shopping with Your Middle Finger by Mr. Money Mustache

MONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez

With gratitude,
Tammy

You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap)

Back in 2005, my husband, Logan, and I began to simplify our lives. I detailed our story in my book, You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap), and the core philosophies I wrote about are still true. However, some things have changed. For example, we no longer live in our tiny house full-time, and we bought a used car in 2013. In essence, our quest to live a simple and happy life continues to evolve—as it should because nothing in life is static. This is especially true when it comes to money. When we began to simplify our lives, we wanted to redefine our relationship with money, pay off our debt, and buy a tiny house on wheels. We accomplished those goals (and a whole lot more).

However, I wish we’d been smarter with long-term financial planning during our twenties and early thirties. For instance, it would have been wise to set aside money for an old age fund. However, we were focused on paying off our debt and purchasing our tiny house. The good news is that we’ve been saving for our old age fund for the last three years.

Saving more and working with a fiduciary has eased my money worries because we’re making wiser investment choices. My worries aren’t completely gone, but hopefully that will change.

Below are six steps that are slowly helping me let go of money worries. If you struggle with anxiety around money, I hope these ideas inspire you to take action.

Before we move forward, I want to be very clear with a caveat. I’m not being compensated for any of the products or services below. I’m sharing this information because these resources and people have helped Logan and I get our finances in order.

With that, let’s get started.

1. Track everything. I’m obsessed with Mint because it’s a digital tool that makes tracking our income and expenses easy. In addition to Mint, I use GoDaddy Bookkeeping to track my business income and expenses. Separating my business and personal accounts has been so helpful. Tax time is less stressful because my numbers are in order. Plus, I have a clear understanding of how much it costs to run my business.

2. Focus on mindful budgeting. In addition to recording everything in Mint, I record my daily and weekly purchases in my Mindful Budgeting 2017 Planner. Being able to write notes, reflections, and goals in my planner is helpful and grounding.

3. Talk about money. Logan and I have weekly and monthly money meetings to stay on track. It wasn’t always that way, though. In 2015, I had a melt-down about how much we were spending every month, which resulted in tears and an argument with Logan. Since then, I’ve been working on my money issues, and the more I talk about money, the less worried I feel.

4. Work with a fiduciary. A fiduciary offers fee-based, non-biased financial advice based on your circumstances. In short, their job is to help you make informed financial choices. We found our fiduciary—Michael Harris—in 2015, and he’s been incredibly helpful.

5. Save more and spend less. As I mentioned above, I want to put more money into our old age fund. I also want to work toward financial independence. As a result, I’ve been questioning all my expenditures (like the amount I spend on groceries, dining, coffee, and more). It’s great to be debt free, but we’ve become a bit lazy on the budgeting front. This year is all about saving more and spending less.

Parting words …

After experiencing debilitating back pain in 2016, my aim is to maintain my health by taking small steps every day. Some of those actions include not drinking alcohol, eating real food, going to CrossFit, getting enough sleep, and making sure our finances are in order because money matters.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more essays about money. For example, I’m working on an article about how we’re decreasing our monthly food and dining expenses. If you have money questions for me—or topics you’d like me to write about—leave a comment below.

If you’re reading this article via email, just respond to this message. I don’t have time to respond to all of the emails I receive, but I read every message that arrives in my inbox. I’m grateful for your continued support and encouragement.

Cheers to living a simple and joyful life!

With gratitude,
Tammy

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”
—Jane Austen (via Flow Magazine)

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.

Hi all,

I’m teaching my online journaling course—Write to Flourish: A Beginner’s Guide to Journaling—in March. Registration closes at noon on Sunday, March 5, 2017. If you’d like to take the class and it isn’t a good time, please sign up here to be notified when the course opens again.

Photo & art by Tammy Strobel

Course Overview

I still remember the bright pink Hello Kitty diary that I wrote in as a sixth-grader. I hid the diary behind my collection of miniature troll dolls. Those little figurines were considered collectables during my tween years, but that’s a whole other story.

During my tween and teen years, my journaling practice wasn’t consistent. However, journaling got me into the habit of writing down stories, ideas, and lists. It wasn’t until my 20s that I developed a daily journaling practice. Now, I’m in my mid-30s and my journals (and pens) are never far from my side.

Journaling has given me many gifts, like:

  • the ability to sort through complex emotions
  • self-confidence
  • a safe writing space
  • the ability to capture ideas on the go
  • a simple gratitude practice
  • the courage to share my story online and in books
  • and so much more

I’m a journaling advocate and junkie because it’s a powerful way to unlock your truth, record stories, and find your voice. I constantly encourage loved ones and blog readers to begin a daily journaling practice because it offers gifts that are unique to each individual.

If you are a beginning journaler, a dabbler, or a seasoned writer looking to reboot your writing practice, this class is for you! My goal is to empower you to write in your journal for 20 minutes every day. I do this by offering tips, tools, and resources during this class.

Read the full course syllabus and register here.

With gratitude,
Tammy

{This month: Books to read, notebooks, comfort food, and more.}

Only Love Today

Hi all,

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

1. Only Love Today—I received an advance copy of Rachel’s beautiful new book. I loved reading it! The book will be released ‪on March 7, 2017. Preorder a copy or ask your library to stock this beautiful book on their shelves.

2. The Telomere Effect—Logan—my super-smart scientist husband—studied telomeres during his Ph.D. program. Logan is a huge fan of Dr. Blackburn’s work, so when Logan spotted The Telomere Effect in Ashland, OR, he purchased the book. I’m happy Logan bought the book because I have a better understanding of telomeres, and it’s neat to have a stronger connection to my hubby’s research background.

Blackburn and Epel addressed so many important topics in their book—including how aging cells make you look, feel, and act. They also talked about mindfulness, nutrition, stress, and the power of taking one small action step each day.

3. Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness—Herz’s profile of the CrossFit community and her summary of research on fitness, nutrition, and high-intensity exercise blew my mind. If you’re a geek like me and enjoy learning about health and building strength, read this book.

4. Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living—I enjoyed the wide range of voices in this compilation. Plus, Scratch made me reconsider how I run my business and how much I give away for free.

5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—a fun and entertaining read.

6. Maple Blueberry Apple Crumble—I’m obsessed with this recipe.

7. How To Get Out Of The Cycle Of Outrage In A Trump World—if you’re experiencing outrage fatigue, read this essay. Arianna Huffington offered reminders that I needed to hear.

8. A good place to have bad ideas—short, sweet, and true.

9. The Privacy Paradox—the segments and tasks in this series were thought-provoking and important.

10. Real Talk Radio—Nicole released Season 9 of Real Talk Radio. The episodes are awesome!

11. Tiny House Magazine—I’ve got a bonus link for you this month. A few years ago, my friend Kent created the Tiny House Magazine. Issue 50 is out! Buy a copy here.

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

With gratitude,
Tammy

Before I dive into today’s essay, I have news to share with you. In March, I’m teaching my online journaling course: Write to Flourish: A Beginner’s Guide to Journaling. Class ‪begins on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. I hope you’ll join us! You can register here.

Photography by Tammy Strobel

With that, let’s dive into today’s essay …

Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt anxious because I’ve been worried about work, politics, and world events. The anxiety ball in the pit of my stomach led me down a road of self-doubt that soured my work, mood, and well-being. However, I didn’t ignore my feelings or the signals my body was giving me.

In my early twenties, I would have tried to numb my anxiety with alcohol or sugary treats. That isn’t how I cope anymore. Whenever I feel anxious or overly worried, I revisit my core mindfulness practices because I can’t let anxiety consume my personal life or work. If I do, I’ll get sick, and that won’t help me, my family, colleagues, or the causes I support.

Below are six steps I commonly use to reduce my anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety, I hope these ideas inspire you to take action.

Let’s get started!

1. Consume media mindfully. Before I simplified my life, I spent hours each day watching television. Back then, I ditched my television because I wasn’t using it mindfully and pursued other interests (like reading, swimming, hanging out with friends, and more). I don’t watch much television anymore; however, I spend a lot of time online. I work online, read the news online, hang out on Instagram, and more. I love the Internet, but like TV, spending too much time online isn’t good for my health.

Consuming media mindfully—whether it’s television or social media—continues to be an area that I revisit. Over the last few months, I’ve scaled back on social media. For example, I don’t use my personal Facebook account, and I’m only following one person on Twitter. Instagram is my favorite social media platform, and that’s where I spend my fun social media hours.

I’m also following Arianna Huffington’s advice and stepping out of “the cycle of outrage in a Trump world.” I’m taking care of myself first, so I can help others.

2. Cultivate strength. In February 2016, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my lower back. Both of these issues—along with disabling back pain—woke me up. I thought my self-care practices were good and that I was building strength, but my body was telling me a different story. Since my diagnosis, I’ve taken small action steps each day to regain my health.

One of those action steps included walking into CrossFit Northern Limits in mid-September 2016. At that time, I didn’t think I’d be able to do CrossFit because of my back issues. I was wrong. Today, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.

When I’m doing CrossFit, I’m fully engaged in the movements. My focus is on form and getting through the workout. I’m not thinking about my business, career transitions, relationships, or the many annoying and mundane worries that infiltrate my mind every day. I’m excited to see where CrossFit will take me this year. Building strength is extremely important to me because I see my body as a holistic system. I want to be strong, not skinny.

3. Cook real food. Y’all, I’m obsessed with cooking. Trying new recipes is a great way to unplug from the Internet. If this writing/photography thing doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll go to culinary school and become a kitchen ninja (kidding, not kidding). In all seriousness, since January 1, 2017, I’ve been creating a weekly meal plan and preparing food in advance. As a bonus, we’re saving money on groceries, and I’m not running to the store constantly.

I’ve cooked a lot of yummy meals this month, and here’s a list of my favorites:

  • Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (with fruit, peanut butter, and a scoop of protein powder)
  • Egg & Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole
  • Rice noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and Romano cheese
  • Homemade chia pudding (recipe found in The Telomere Effect)
  • Chicken, steamed broccoli, and coconut rice

The non-linked recipes above were given to me by my coach. If you’re interested in making one of the non-linked dishes above, Google the topic. You’ll probably discover a plethora of yummy recipes to try making. Moving forward, I’ll be cooking up vegan and paleo dishes in my kitchen.

I want to experiment with a variety of recipes because it’s fun and the type of food I put into my body has a huge impact on my daily routine. If I’m eating processed foods, I feel terrible. If I eat real food, I feel like a badass, mindful human.

4. Revisit your routines. My morning and evening routine are two rituals that are extremely important to me because they help me stay grounded. For example, over the past five years, my morning routine has been fairly consistent. I get up early, make coffee, sing to my cats, journal, take my daily photo, and then I start my workday.

After I read The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington I modified my evening routine to prioritize restful sleep. Currently, I end my work day at 4.30 or 5:00 p.m. and make a homemade dinner. Over dinner, Logan and I chat about our day, and what we learned. From there, I read a book, snuggle with the cats, listen to music, and sometimes take a bath.

5. Change your work routine. As a self-employed teacher, writer, and photographer, I tend to work too much and that needs to change. For the past few years, Logan has encouraged me to set firm work hours and not to work on the weekends. I finally decided to follow Logan’s advice. I’m not going to work on the weekends (even if it’s “just for a few hours”), and my phone is no longer following me into the bedroom at night. Powering down by 4.30 or ‪5:00 p.m. every day and making time to rest on the weekends is refreshing, and it has been sparking creative ideas.

6. Savor tiny pleasures. I started February oscillating between hope and despair because of politics. Instead of ruminating, I decided to take action, voice my views, and focus on creative projects. For example, I created a photography challenge called A Month of Tiny Pleasures. Throughout February, I’ve been capturing tiny pleasures every day with my camera. In addition, I’ve been journaling about the tiny pleasures I’ve experienced. It’s a simple, creative exercise that’s helped me focus on gratitude and mindfulness in my daily life.

***

Everything is interdependent and that’s why I come back to my mindfulness practices; especially when I feel anxious, worried, or stressed.

With gratitude,
Tammy

Photo by Tammy Strobel

“What is your cellular legacy? Each of us has a time-limited opportunity to leave a legacy. Just as your body is a community of individual but mutually dependent cells, we are a world of interdependent people. We all have an impact on the world, whether we realize it or not. Large changes, such as implementing policies for societal stress reduction, are vital. Small changes are important, too. How we interact with other people shapes their feelings and sense of trust. Every day, each of us has the chance to positively influence the life of another person.”

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer
Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD & Elissa Epel, PhD

I’m sharing this quote with you because it was a message I needed to hear and it inspired me. I hope Blackburn and Epel’s words inspire you, too. If you’re looking for a good read, I highly recommend The Telomere Effect.

In other news, I’m teaching my online journaling course—Write to Flourish: A Beginner’s Guide to Journaling—in March. I hope you’ll join us. Course details here.

I’ll be back next week with a long essay about mindfulness and anxiety. Make it a great weekend!

With gratitude,
Tammy

Photo by Tammy Strobel

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.

And, in case you missed it …

During February, I’ll be savoring a tiny pleasure every day. In addition, I’ll be documenting tiny pleasures with my camera. I invite you to join me.

With gratitude,
Tammy

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