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Napa + Simplicity

June 5th, 2011 at 07:45 am

Yesterday we drove through Napa/wine country for an elegant birthday party on top of a hill. The picture does not do it justice - was just gorgeous:



We have probably been through the area in less lush (more average) times. It's not like we get this much green, usually. It did not rain too much on the drive, so we got to take in the scenery.



The landscape was far more beautiful than I remembered - vineyards as far as the eye could see.

I've never been to Napa and the areas north of there, but for a few family functions in the past. Dh and thrown out earlier that he wanted to do a weekend getaway for our anniversary. My first reaction was, "eh." I'd love to stay home! Ship the kids off, of course. But, we had settled on maybe going to Carmel. We can swing a free hotel room through MIL's endless timeshare points. It's an hour's drive from Grandma's house - so it is not a pricey proposition.

But, yesterday, we changed our minds. We will be adventurous. We will stay in Napa and do the wine country thing. Will shave 3 hours of driving down to about 1-hour (each way) and a perfect half way point is on the way - to drop off the kids with Grandma.

So, I am excited to explore a new area. I think we lean heavily in our state exploration as far as where friends and family live. Particularly when younger - of course we only traveled (in college) where there was a free place to stay. & here is Napa practically in our backyard, and we have never explored.

Anyway, dinner last night was lovely. We were supposed to eat outside on the terrace, and the view was divine. Instead, it poured down rain all through dinner, and we were stuck inside. It worked out because it was pretty dry for our drive, thankfully.

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I've got a ton of chores to do today. Have been pretty lazy. Some house cleaning, some fiscal chores, etc. The cold/blah weather is not very motivating. You think it would be, because otherwise we'd be lazing by the pool today. But, I just feel very blah.

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In other news, had a shopping spree at Target. I had been promising some new art supplies for LM's Christmas present easel, and had never gotten around to it.

I felt very silly when we went because found a lot of great stuff for very cheap. Should have gone ages ago...

So, we bought a bunch of art supplies there. Bought a birthday present for BM (from LM - he will owe me some money for that), bought some underwear for the kids, and some magnets for the fridge (we sold all the kid fridge magnet toys last month). Just a lot of stuff like that.

We got the Target cars in November for the 5% off. We have been averaging about $100/month for groceries. This was the first shopping spree I've had there with the new card. Most everything we bought was on our "need to buy" list for a long time.

I haven't been much in a retail mood this year. Not sure why. But, I will take it.

I always get annoyed in the forums when people get judgemental of bare bones type budgets. I've had to defend a few people who said they "spent very little" who were attacked as leading boring lives, etc. *Whatever* It strikes me too much as "If you don't spend your money just so, you can't be happy." Oh yes, the people I know endlessly upside down on their cars and homes are so happy, in comparison. Right? These are the biggies where culture tells you to spend the bulk of your money. Vacations also come to front of mind - I can't even go there. Vacations are fine, but not the be-all, end-all of human happiness.

I share, because my own retail purchases have dwindled down to virtually nothing. $5 here and there to itch the scratch, but not much more. I think there is always a bit of an itch for something different and beautiful. Which I think is fine within reason. Last week I bought some flowers, for example. I've spent $20 for 2011, thus far. I managed 3 new sweaters on deep discount, and several pairs of earrings. Flowers last weekend, as mentioned. What the heck? I have never spent so little in my life, on stuff. Ever. I wonder if I have just reached a level of extreme contentment in other areas of my life. (For reference, I spent $425 last year on allowance purchases - $575 in 2009, $535 2008, $900 2007). I have been focusing on less clutter and trying to spend my money only on things that truly make me happy. All of this has been YEARS in the making - small progress every year.

I find great happiness from my electronic toys. I have really delighted having any/all music I could possibly want on my teeny-tiny MP3 player. The ebook is just one more step in that direction. I delight in carrying all those books with me everywhere I go. I really enjoyed our last trip to Hawaii because I could carry our netbook and Mp3 player and a handful of clothes, and felt I had all that I needed. (We had packed a lot of books, because we didn't have our e-readers at that point). I think it reinforced how nice it is to have all your belongings fit in a tiny carry-on suitcase. We view electronics like this as very simplifying. I am not a huge fan of travel, but enjoyed it much more feeling I could bring all my important belongings along. I think all that contributed heavily into a very happy/no-homesick vacation. Usually travel just reinforces for me how much I love being HOME. For the first time I felt home could really be anywhere, with all these electronic gadgets. We skyped the kids a lot, for one (it wasn't *just* about the stuff - it was a better connection with loved ones while gone, too).

I am blessed to know that spending more money on more things and more experiences, won't make me any happier. It's the quality - not the quantity. I think my shrinking spending habits illustrate that perfectly. Though I've never felt like a particularly material person, that small material side of me is just shrinking down to hardly anything any more. I think it's interesting. Will see how the rest of 2011 pans out. Will see if I can get through 2011 with such a lean spending on myself. Who knows - I admit the year is young.

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Every topic I write about reminds me of another. I believe the fact that BM's class all gets iPads next year is very lucky and probably not very cost saving? (I suppose I do not know for sure).

BUT, since the school expands to 6th grade next year, BM's teacher has been pushing the electronic angle as a cost saver. The school has decided to use iPads versus expensive and out-dated textbooks. For the middle school grades.

I am so excited about this. Though I knew this 3rd grade iPad class would be an amazing opportunity for BM, I also realized his future education would likely be a huge downer in comparison. I mean, to see the amazing-ness of all the technology, and to go back to pen and paper for the rest of his education... He is a smart boy - he will wonder why he is stuck with pen and paper after that. Obviously the technology is amazing.

All that said, a lot of the programs the kids piloted this year in the same teacher's class will go school-wide next year. The kids' test results in this one class have been that amazing. If they can pull off the same with the iPad (show real results) they may eventually be used school-wide. The teacher is just really into technology. I like to see the "thinking outside the box," myself. It hadn't occurred to me that they could save money with the iPads, for one. It initially struck me as very frivolous, but my mind is changing.

2 Responses to “Napa + Simplicity”

  1. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I'd recommend going to the restraunt my brother works at in Napa, but o don't think you'd like the price tag too much. Smile a fairly simple meal for two can cost upwards of $200. Of course, if you got my brother as your waiter, it might be worth it. Big Grin

  2. Looking Forward Says:

    Re: the small amount of spending on yourself - The year is only half over Wink. Plenty of time to "catch up". hehe.

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