Birch & Pine » Learning to live small, live simply, and with intention.

Have you guys heard of the capsule wardrobe? My friend Jessica is blogging about building her own capsule wardrobe and through her experience, I was introduced to the Un-Fancy blog. I’d heard the term capsule wardrobe tossed around before, but wasn’t quite sure what it entailed. In support of my own efforts to become (my version of) minimalist, I thought I should […]

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  • Tiff L.

    I’m definitely interested in the capsule wardrobe concept! My closet is chaotic and overwhelming. I would LOVE to pare down and really define my style. Looking forward to following along with your experience.ReplyCancel

We are currently living within our means. That feels extraordinarily good to say. However, one might conclude after such a statement that we’re financially stable, that all our ducks are in a row, that we’ve got it all figured out. Unfortunately, and it pains me to admit this, but that’s not at all the case. […]

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  • Susan

    Something you might want to check out. (Full discloser: I’m not a blogger and I’m not getting any kickback for this)

    Look into YNAB (You Need A Budget). I’ve been on it now for a little over 2 years. I started with some eye watering debt. It totaled almost 80K. Damn, it makes me shudder to see it like that. I knew I needed a budget but everything I tried on my own just failed to work for me. I ran across info about YNAB from a blogger I used to follow and thought I’d give it a try. They have a new version now that I’m not using since the older version works perfectly for my needs.

    That 80K debt is now gone. Granted, I had a little windfall that helped but, quite frankly, without the budget that windfall would have just gotten pissed away on … nothing with nothing to show for it. I know because part of that debt came from a home equity loan my husband and I took out to redo our kitchen. That money got pissed away and our kitchen is the same as it was – no changes were ever done to it. It infuriates me to this day just thinking about it.

    YNAB pretty much saved my life. I highly recommend it. We are now living on last month’s paycheck which is one of the goals.ReplyCancel

    • Kate

      Susan, this is excellent! I’ve heard of YNAB but hadn’t looked into it. I am definitely going to show the website to Ellen. Congratulations on attacking your debts and finding your way. So happy for you! Can’t wait to be right there with ya.ReplyCancel

  • Knowing this, it’s even more awesome that you create all the beauty around you on a budget. You are once more a proof that taste and style are not related to money.
    I have been living on a budget for years now, out of necessity. It gets a habit pretty quickly. And once you see how right-now sacrifices enable you to spend money in other categories that are dear to your heart, like local food or travel, there is no way back to mindless spending.
    It might be helpful to include a small amount as personal “spending money”. For me, it’s a book, a scented candle, or having cappuccino and a croissant four times a month at my favourite place. Whatever I need to feel good and alive, I can get it without guilt or calculating – otherwise I might feel deprived and start to dislike my budget. So far, I needed it every month, so it seems to be important (to me).ReplyCancel

  • Not sure if you’ve read “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” but if not, it might reinforce some of what you’ve already put into place. Some of it, like thanking my purse or socks wasn’t really up my alley. But, the two takeaways that really stuck was me is to 1) only have/keep/buy what you really, I mean really and truly, LOVE (be it functional or not) AND, in the process of letting go of stuff, to recognize that the purpose of that brand new shirt with the tags still on it that’s never been worn may not have been to wear it at all. For me (or you), it’s real purpose may be to show you that, hey, you don’t really and truly LOVE this style/make/trend after all. Thank you and into the giveaway bag you go!

    On another note, I use to read a blog (have to see if I could find it again) and this woman, wife and mother, was on a strict budget. She used to do a feature on the “date nights” that she and her husband would do at home or that were free. Just something as simple as making a carpet picnic in the living room with candles lit. Or having dinner then going someplace new for an after dinner walk. I think one time they set up the TV and DVD out on their back porch and had movie night outdoors. I used to always enjoy how she was able to recognize and then convey on her blog that “going out” and spending money on dinner & drinks, didn’t even really scratch the surface of all the simple, mostly free ways you could make a “date night” seem special.

    Anyway, I’m still going through my own process of becoming very intentional about what I purchase and the trends/traps I fall into. Once you sort of wake up to all the influences coming at you and begin to really figure out what you truly love, it’s so much easier to not covet all of the stuff. So, I’ll be excited to follow your posts in this regard and see what your process can teach me!(Your comment is awaiting moderation)ReplyCancel

  • Ok, the date night at home thing was this “dinner at eight” series (8pm being when the kids went to bed) from “A Bit Of Sunshine” Blog. Think I’ll revisit these posts myself! comment is awaiting moderation)ReplyCancel

As the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were wrong. I’d actually been making an argument for buying a certain expensive, popular item of clothing in order to remain relevant to my Instagram followers. I was mortified. Admitting it now…also embarrassing. I’m also sure that a great deal of the people reading […]

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  • What a timely post… As you know, I am new to your site and already love it. Before you wrote this, I found myself thinking about your chemex and actually starting to want one. Which was strange as I never have owned a coffeemaker – I always prepare individual mugs with my handfilter, exactly the way my grandmother did, and even if I have guests. And I have always been content and happy this way. So I started to question myself: why do I want a chemex so suddenly? Is it really the coffeemaker, or do I want the message your photos transport? And I realised that that’s the reason. The design of the chemex is lovely and cute, without a doubt, but what I want is a quiet start into the day, time alone maybe, time to write silently while sipping the first coffee, an aesthetically pleasing surrounding, being aware of the special morning light and beauty around me – all this is in your photos. And I can have that without purchasing a new item for my home.
    And then came your post… What a coincidence!
    So let’s be honest to ourselves and find out what we really need.
    Your last two posts have a special, somehow new quality of openness. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • Kate

      Isn’t it strange how this happens? The little leak into self that whispers ‘you need this’. How wonderful and truly amazing it is that you were able to dig deeper and find your own needs and wants within the message of the photo, instead of assuming you’ll find it simply by buying the item in the image. Ironically enough, those photos are usually taken in times of chaos…ReplyCancel