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Downsizing My American Dream

Photo by Scott Cotton

So we finally did it. We bought a "small" house...almost a tiny house. It's tiny compared to what we have been living in the past seven years, and there are limited closets, no storage, no attic or basement storage, and a detached single car garage.

Does that sound like the American Dream to you?

If it doesn't, let me tell you why it's mine.

We have one income and a large mortgage. This means we have less cash at the end of the month to have fun with. So that means we've been using our credit cards to buy things we really  want.  Our income covers the things we need like groceries, insurance, gas, clothes etc. If you boil it down, our lifestyle choices have brought us under, not built us up...we don't have money to retire on, no 401K, no pension.

We've been living in a big house, with a big yard, in a nice upscale neighborhood and enjoying it. Although, hanging over our heads has always been the fact that we can't afford to take care of the big house properly, and we are always worried it will fall into disrepair and then we wouldn't be able to sell it.

You have heard and seen how the tiny house movement is surging...well, I don't want to live in a real tiny house...I would lose my mind in 200 square feet.... But that lifestyle is appealing because you can get out of debt and find yourself.

Then, after going on a trip and traveling light (one suitcase for two weeks), I came home to this huge mountain of laundry, and a huge house to clean, and it struck me that I didn't like how I was living. I was feeling cluttered and uncreative, stressed about bills, and considering going back to work.

As a stay at home mom of three daughters, a homeschooler, a crafter, a home decorator, a chef, a go-fer and many other hat wearer, it was pretty daunting considering giving away my time again to the Man. So I started hatching a dream. Then I told my husband about it.

Living smaller in a big world

My kids love their separate bedrooms and all their toys, and they love running through the house screaming and dancing. So why would I want to give that up and be free?

I want my darling kiddos to learn more than consumerism and the want of more and bigger and better. I want them to have a more experiential life, the one I dreamed of giving them before they were born.

I love having an entire room dedicated to my craft/business. I love my newly remodeled kitchen and bathrooms...

I don't love my 80+ year old neighbors who don't like kids running on their lawns. I don't love rules and regs of how it's all supposed to be done. I guess I'm a rebel. Well, yeah.

It's a funny story, but two years ago I drove by this adorable "english" looking cottage and even toured the inside. So small!!! I thought.  Then it came up for sale and I told my husband lets sell this house!!! I didn't think much more about the cottage because of the lack of space. But then I kept imagining the green space and how close to the park it was, and how low the price would cut our current mortgage in HALF!!!

Okay, so you want to hear the rest of the story? Stay tuned.

I'm going to spill the beans on how much money we have now.

Things To Do Instead of Blogging - Here's Your Free Pass

I tried. 

I really did.

 I wanted to be a good blogger and post for ya'll every day in January. 

Didn't happen did it. 

It's the 15th and I got to about 50%. So I apologize for not accomplishing my goal and I hope it hasn't let you down too much. We can always discuss later right?

Today I'm making a list of all the things I did instead of blogging...does your mind work this way too?  Here's what I've been doing:

  • Tiling my kitchen
  • Dealing with a case of head lice and all it entails (see below)
  • Major housework
  • Major laundry
  • Major everything
  • Teaching my kids (homeschoolers)
  • Teaching other people's kids (homeschool classes)
  • Making ribbons for my Etsy shop
  • Celebrating my daughter's 25th birthday (baking)
  • Helping my mom move house
  • Organizing things
  • Moving furniture/redecorating
  • Beginning prep for moving
  • Searching for a new home
  • Shopping and cooking dinner every night
  • Dealing with food allergies
  • Letting dogs in and out every hour (old dog)
  • Binge-watching The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels while not sleeping
  • More cleaning
  • Cleaning out the garage so we can park in there before it snows
  • Taking furniture and other items to sell to my flea market booth
  • Researching and planning for the Pinterest class I co-teach
  • Breathing, eating, a little sleeping

What have you been doing the past two weeks? Don't envy me...the other half of the time I'm dealing with winter blues...yes, I'm complaining. This So Cal gal does not like winter and lack of sunlight. Anyway!

I just wanted to give you a FREE PASS if you haven't been blogging so far in 2016. 

It's okay. 

In the grand scheme of things, blogging will be there when you get back.

Hope the rest of your month is awesome! 

(Like a trip to Florida or something!)


Day Six - Creating Blog Post Images To Use on Pinterest and Instagram

Tutorial on how to use Picmonkey to make great post images for your blog

When it comes to images on a blog - size matters! If you don't have the correctly sized image then it won't look perfect in its placement. This is one area where you can be perfect and look very professional.

We have a great tutorial to create buttons for it and see if you get some inspiration. If you need tips on sizing your images check the list below.

How to make a button for your blog - tutorial from The Blog Guidebook

You can use this tutorial to make great blog post images that help a reader to click on your image faster, hence getting them to your blog faster.
  • Instagram - 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Pinterest -  735 x 1102 pixels
  • Facebook - 1200 x 628  
  • Twitter - 1024 x 512
In experimenting with the fastest, easiest way to create images we know will work well in most social media feeds, we came across a couple of image sizes that work well: one size for horizontal (landscape) images and one for vertical (portrait) images.
  • Horizontal (landscape) – 1,024 x 512
  • Vertical (portrait) – 800 x 1,200
Changing Image Size - if you don't have access to Photoshop then I suggest PicMonkey (again), sorry for the repeat!  Upload your image, make any changes and then save at the pixel size you require.  If you're starting from scratch on PicMonkey, you can choose a custom image and start with the size you want it to be, then add your image and graphics to that space.

We've also written about how ALT tags can enhance your images being found in a web search. You can do that from Blogger...and it's easy peasy.

After you'd uploaded an image it is easy to add a link to that image, but you should ALT text on the just added image, and a bar of choices will pop up. You've seen them before. Click on Properties.

Then the box below will pop up and you will type your description in the Alt Text box, then click OK.

Usually in the ALT TEXT box I use a good description and where the photo can be found...something like:  "Useful Guidelines To Blogging at The Blog Guidebook". Etc.

Cropping Your Image -
PicMonkey allows you to crop your image pretty much a click away from when you uploaded it.
You can also change image size via HTML in the sidebar if you're using Firefox as your browser. After you've uploaded your image, click Edit HTML and you can drag the image larger or smaller. It's a great trick, but it doesn't work in Chrome (or others).

I know I've thrown this at you very quickly...but you can do it. Don't be afraid to move things around a bit and try new sizes, fonts, colors etc. You can always put it back the way it was. 

Day Five - Discovering That It's All About the Font

Do you have a favorite font? Are you a font junkie? Have you just discovered the luscious world of fonts and want to know how to get some of your own? As a graphic designer it is easy to create a collection of lovely fonts that can create movement, branding, and imagery...but when you're just starting out, well, the font world can be overwhelming.

Let's dip a few toes in to the pool of letters and type...FONTS!

A font can make your brand recognizable. It can make it bold, happy, friendly, and memorable.
Think about the Star Wars font...if you change it does it look as good? Do you think you would remember it? It really is a font can download it for free.  

Fonts are so interesting...and so are the people that create them. If you want to know more about the history of fonts, you might want to read I Love Typography.

Okay, now you are a font buff, grab a pencil and jot down some ideas on how you can use fonts to customize your blog, your blog name, or just play with fonts.

Here are a few of the BEST FREE (or almost free) font sites:
Check out Font Squirrel's free user guide on how to use free fonts.

Creating your own font: Turn your handwriting into a font 
or check out this article on Buzzfeed

And speaking of Star Wars I thought this little poster was super cute, created by illustrator Vincent Rondia!

If you love fonts you will also love ELEMENTS...check out our short series: