a gal pal making cents

This post is a lot of words, and almost no photos… but I wanted to share a blog post (keep reading, I’ll share it with you in a paragraph or two) by a special little lady who I’ve been following since her brother and sister-in-law (the fantastic Parsons) photographed our wedding back in 2009. A few years later I took it to another (somewhat creepy) level when I decided to message Annie and see if she’d like to meet up while I was in Denver visiting my dear friend, Paul.  Ok, here’s a photo of Paul and I during that Denver visit, just because he’s cute and I really miss him. And come to think of it, Paul and I are financial kindred spirits and have sent many an email back and forth discussing our money. IMG_4302FORTUNATELY, Annie was not creeped out at all and met us for a drink and some laughs. What a gal, that Annie P.

So I haven’t received her permission to post her pic…. BUT I think it’s safe to share her blog with you. Her writing style is on point and I relate to EVERY WORD she writes. I mean, the girl can put words on paper like none other.  I mean, she wrote a song for Larabar (the maker of the most delicious and wholesome bars on the market) that they loved so much they were all like, “girl, you gotta work here”. Hootenannie makes things happen all the while being friendly, genuine and fabulous on a budget. I am straight up gushing and I ain’t ashamed.

Why am I bringing up Annie Parsons? Well, because this morning she posted a blog all her finances and being thrifty and my financiallovingmoneytalking self was compelled to share it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Dave Ramsey fan and I was raised by the original Dave Ramsey, Harpo Jones. I thoroughly enjoy talking about and putting our money to work. I’ve had several friends and family ask me about being debt free and our financial mindset. I’m not going to bother sharing that here, because Annie did it for me on her blog. Please read it if you are at all curious about money-money-MO-NEY and a life of financial FREEDOM. giphy-3Living below your means may seem like unbearable existence, but I’m telling you for a fact, it is NOT. We used to have FOMO and torture ourselves thinking, “well if we don’t go on this trip or try out this restaurant then our lives will be lacking and incomplete.”  NOT TRUE. Because when da $$ in da bank, you have no worries.

We did not always have this mindset. One year in to our marriage, Dean lost his job. It was completely devastating and we were totally panicked. Living on one paycheck? IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? I’ll tell you that YES, IT IS. This unfortunate situation donkey-kicked us in to a harsh financial reality and we got REAL, real quick, with our money. We learned to live on one paycheck and budget like our lives depended on it. Dean was unemployed for 10 long months. I’m not trying to get all cheesey or emotional on you, but we learned A LOT in those 10 months. And honestly, we wouldn’t change a thing. I cringe to think about how we were with our money before he lost his job. Hell, I cringe to think what we would be like today if we had not had that life lesson. That blessing in disguise light a fire under our asses to get out of debt and save to make sure we always have an emergency fund. Over the past five years we’ve HAPPILY lived below our means and been able to do things with our money we never thought possible. Shockingly enough, our lives have not suffered one bit.

So, thank you Annie P./Hootenannie for that little read this morning and for all the other reads you share! Keep on, keepin’ on, my gal pal.

…. and August

In August, I….

  • spent a hot and happy weekend in Dallas, TX (aka THE SURFACE OF THE SUN) with my D-town cousins. Fortunately, there was a pool and drinks and air conditioning and the newest addition to the Koestner family – Charlie. Calling all child model agencies, get this kid’s face on TV because daannnggg, he cute;

    photo courtesy of earth angel Lauren P-hizzle @lkphilips
    photo courtesy of earth angel Lauren P-hizzle @lkphilips
  • convinced CJ and Dean to roll with me on the deck project;
  • learned how to use a pressure washer which I unleashed on our furry green fence (will share more of this hose down in a future post); IMG_4051
  • read “Landline” by Rainbow Rowell (I do not recommend because the writing was dull and the plot was lame) and “Self Help” by Lorrie Moore (which I DO recommend but I feel I should tell you that the short stories in this book are somber and downers – just so you are in the right frame of mind if you try it out);
  •  gutted our hall bathroom with the help of Harpo, CJ, and Uncle Denny, because one huge project just didn’t seem like enough for the month (and yes, yes a full post of this project to come, my little darlings); IMG_4168
  • cheated on Trader Joe’s after I discovered a new grocery store in our ‘hood, called Lucky’s (soooo many inappropriate jokes going through my head). I mean, every time I go there I get Lucky. It’s a guarantee. IMG_4119Example: the first time I walked in I saw green peppers “5 for $1” WHAT?! Yes – and here’s the proof:IMG_4120And then the crowd parted and I locked eyes on the CANDY SECTION (my candy-loving aunt Camille would be in heaven if she saw this place). Years ago I went to the Jersey shore with my college friends and I bought, literally, 2 lbs of saltwater taffy. IMG_4121I scaled back on taffy and hit up the sour patch kids and gummy bears…HARD. I can’t even explain to you how good these gummy bears are. I couldn’t fill the bag full enough. Have you ever seen a $10 bag of gummy bears? It kind of looked like that 2 lb bag of legit Jersey shore taffy. I thought about asking what the entire barrel costs. Dean and I can kill a bag of these bears in a disgusting, but impressive, amount of time. IMG_4122
  • started the new gig at Wells Fargo and it’s going well. I’ve made some friends and Dean occasionally lets me catch a ride with him… which means I can relax with my coffee and snapchat on the commute. OR catch another 15 minutes of shut-eye. Ahhhhh yeahhhhh.

So that’s August 2015 in bulleted format. aannnddddd, I’m already halfway through September. Well, my friends, as my buddy Rust, said, “Time is a flat circle.” giphy-2

recalling July…

You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging regularly…. or not at all. One might say I kind of gave myself the summer off. I’ve also been told that I am “slacking on snapchat”. Well, my friends, I’ve been busy. Doing what?

Great question.

WTF have I been doing? It’s September 10th for God’s sake and I feel like I blacked out during July and August. This seems as good as place as any to jog my memory…

In JULY, I….

  • watched my nephews light fireworks and not lose any fingers or eyes IMG_4276
  • watched my cousin (who is in his 30’s) almost nail his kid in the face with a bottle rocket… right after we told the children to BE CAREFUL WITH THE BOTTLE ROCKETS. It was honestly hilarious and we laughed our A’s off (because no one got hurt so it’s okay to laugh);
  • tried a (new to us) restaurant in St. Louis and I’m still thinking about the delicious drinks the bartender whipped up;
  • tried a (new to St. Louis) restaurant and I’m still thinking about the sweet breads and the arepas;
  • welcomed a new nephew in to the family (oh hey there Oliver Dean);IMG_4277
  • soaked up the sun and relaxed at the lake with Dean’s family (thank you Leanna and Vernon!!). I also confirmed that I, at 31 years of age, still cannot jump in to water without holding my nose or else water shoots up my nose in to my brain and then I stress about brain-eating amoebas for days;
  • saw the boys in blue play a make up game in St. Louis with the cousin crew;IMG_4279
  • was cheered up by a street drummer after the Royals lost 
  • admired the Buck Moon on 7/1 and the Blue Moon on 7/31 whilst sipping cold brews on our deck;
  • creepily took photos out of our bedroom window of the retaining wall our neighbors built off the south side of our house – and damn they did a fine job;

    and after!
    and after!
  • faced my fears and hosted a gal’s night at our house during which I ate, drank and laughed until 1:30AM;
  • seriously regretted the drinking part of said ‘girl’s night’ the next morning when I, most unfortunately, had to teach spinning class at 9:30AM (I survived, BARELY);
  • spent the remainder of that day on the couch watching Orange Is the New Black Season 2, which exceeded my expectations (why are season 2’s never as good as I hope them to be? ahem, True Detective) and I recommend;
  • went on a hot & sweaty hike with the dog pack on Harpo and Uncle Denny’s land (not sure that’s mud that Mo’ is standing in). I also found a tick attached to me after this hike and then stressed about Lyme’s disease for about a month;IMG_4103 IMG_4104
  • oh, and I put in two weeks notice at work and accepted a job at Wells Fargo.

I’m sure I’m leaving a few things out because my life is so interesting and full of adventure. But I’d say that about sums July up more or less.

deck envy

I tend to get ideas in my head and these ideas turn in to projects… and these projects turn in to massive efforts requiring lots of time and money. That’s how everything started with our deck makeover. What was supposed to be a quick few days of power washing and simple staining turned in to a massive overhaul. All because I was perusing Pinterest and saw this deck lookin’ all stylish and cool….IMG_3981

And once you see a deck like that on Pinterest you just can’t settle for anything less. It seems that ours had been severely neglected over the past many years. So I took matters in to my own hands and made the decision to give her a makeover.

First I scrubbed both decks with every ounce of shoulder/arm strength I could muster using Behr All-In- One cleaner from Home Depot. Word of advice – wear gloves when you use this stuff. I say this, because I did NOT wear gloves and my skin was peeling so badly for the next two weeks it looked like I had leprosy. IMG_4053After the cleaning, the wood was looking slightly better. At least the green algae and furry moss was washed away.
IMG_3986 IMG_3987

Now when  I say that my projects tend to take loads of time… I don’t just mean my precious time. I also take up the time of anyone I can sucker in to helping out. Fortunately, Dean and CJ were willing to go along with me. After all was dry, we removed every single one of those individual railings or balusters (whatever you call them). THEY GONE. IMG_4022If you recall, the model deck has sleek horizontal boards to prevent one from falling. The good news is that by trashing all those hundreds of 4-sided balusters, meant we didn’t have to stain 4 sides of each one (which would have taken YEARS). BUT, the downside was that we had to buy new boards ($) and install them (time).

I have many strengths… none of which are measuring and thinking through a design. I married a person who actually is really good at measuring and thinking through a design, so that’s where Dean came in. He did the math to figure out how many boards we needed and then spaced them out oh-so-perfectly to recreate the deck of my pinteresting dreams. CJ was our little work pony that just kept painting and DOIN’ WORK. Ain’t no work party like a CJ work party because CJ GETS WORK DONE.

She was also my moral support when I had to rent a Home Depot truck to get the 48 8ft boards for the side railings, and one 16 ft board home which proved to be a challenge because the bed of the truck was only 8 feet long. I asked the lumber guy, who loaded all the wood in to the truck for us, “Do people do this often? And, if so, do they make it home WITH the 16ft board still in the truck?” To which he replied, “Well, how far are you driving?” I’ll just say he didn’t make me feel very good about driving with half of the board hanging out the back of the truck, but he did put a bag of concrete on it to hold it down. um, THANKS. Once CJ and I pulled in the driveway we almost peed ourselves with relief to be safely home.

I’ll save you the step-by-step details, but here’s the progress in photos. Side note – our clothing may deceive you in to thinking we got this done in one day but this project was completed over a span of 4 very long days… but we definitely lucked out with beautiful weather in the 80’s. So that’s why we could wear the same clothes every day – absolutely acceptable.

We stained the railings with Behr Weather Proofing semi-transparent stain in black (it wasn’t called “black” but it was the darkest color they had).

We worked on the lower deck first and moved up to the deck that’s off the dining room. IMG_4007

The floor and new railings were stained with Behr Weather Proofing semi-transparent in Chestnut.


As soon as Dean had the new boards up, we were right behind him with stain. Now, I bought 1×6″ 8ft white pine boards which are NOT recommended for outdoor use… but these boards were only $3 for 8ft. The 16ft pressure-treated outdoor boards were $18.87 each. And I needed 24 16ft boards for the side railings. That’s a very expensive face lift. So $144 for 48 8ft pine boards or $450 for 24 16ft outdoor boards? I decided (and admittedly may regret) to go with the less expensive boards because (1) I’m a Jones and cheap is my unofficial middle name and (2) the guy at Home Depot said that as long as I weather proof the boards once every 1-2 years, there’s no reason these shouldn’t last a long time. More work on my part, yes. More money in my wallet, YES (at least for the time being). IMG_4008IMG_4013IMG_4041

The deck as you walk out of the dining room…




As of today, we still have a few finishing touches to wrap up. The stairs leading down to the yard have a small landing that needs to be dealt with, but I assure you that project will be underway in the coming weeks. I just have to break the news to Dean first…