Monthly Archives: December 2013

My 2014 Bucket List

Where did 2013 go?  I think some aliens invaded earth and stole it.  Will Smith, please save 2014 before it’s too late!  C’mon Fresh Prince!

I’ll let you know what I hear back from Will, but until then, the show must go on.  Here’s My 2014 Bucket List!  I’m also going to recap my 2013 Bucket List at the end of this post.  So, hang on you’re in for a wild ride.  Okay, maybe not so wild.  More like a really long kiddie ride.  I promise it will be fun.  Rick’s excited about it…

2014 Bucket List

Rick, watch out there’s a shark behind you! Oh, wait it’s just your tail…


2014 Bucket List

1.  Organize one room in my house every month (Reoccurring and taking the place of a January Challenge).

2. Lose 10 pounds through the Paleo Diet or South Beach Diet (February).

3.  Go on a Vegas Vacation (March).

4.  Run 365 miles (reoccurring and taking the place of an April challenge).

5.  Go one month without artificial sugar (May).  This one is going to be a doozie, because  I’m a Diet Coke addict.  You might not want to approach me during the month of May.  I’ll probably give you one of these looks…

Lady, take one more picture of me, I DARE YOU.

6.  Learn to hula-hoop or whistle (June).

7.  Go skydiving (July).  I’m really nervous/excited about this!  I’d love to have someone/anyone join me… if you’re up for the challenge.

8.  Write 2 blog posts every week (Reoccurring).  I’m planning on writing on Tuesdays and Fridays.  I hope this is okay with you, let me know if it’s too much!

9.  Become debt free– including paying off our house (September).

10.  Write a fiction book and sell it on Amazon (October).

11.  Do something spontaneous (November).

12.  Make $1,000 of side income a month, by freelance writing/blogging/video projects (December).

I’m so excited about everything on my list!  It took me three months to make this list.  I had hundreds of ideas, but most of them didn’t make the cut.  Like these three:

#1.  Get a tattoo.  Since I don’t know what I want to get, I’m going to hold off on it until next year.   #2 Ride a Camel.  I went through an exotic animals phase a couple weeks ago, but I’m over it now.  That camel hump got bumped!   #3 Get abs.  This didn’t make the list because I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

What’s not impossible?  Most of the challenges on My 2013 Bucket List.  Overall, it’s been an amazing year.  Here is the official re-cap of My 2013 Bucket List.

1. Write and publish and an ebook.  (Deadline: June December)

This is DONE!  Want a copy? Check it out here: MyYearlyBucketList Ebook.

2.  Make a monthly video (Ongoing.  First deadline: January 31)

I made 10 total, so technically I’m 2 down.  However, since I make the rules around this place, I’m calling it a success!

3.  Keep my car clean for a month.  I was tired of riding around in a trash can on wheels.  So were my passengers!!!

I finished this in January. Check out the results.

4.  Finish P90X.  (Deadline: March) This one was ugly.  I threw it out in July.  FAIL!

5.  Do something really nice for Mr. We’ve Had them Since They Were Tiny. (Deadline: July)

Did this!  We went fishing in the Gulf of Mexico!

6.  Pay off 40K on our house (Ongoing)

Drum roll please… We didn’t make it.  But, we got pretty close to our goal.  We paid off $34,000 on our house.  We were so close, I’m calling it a success.  This was by far our biggest challenge this year.  It took a lot of budgets, sweat, and time, and it’s been incredible and really miraculous to be a part of.

We started this year and didn’t even know how to get halfway to this goal, but sometimes, if you just set a goal and work really hard you can achieve results you never thought possible.  It’s that whole, “reach-for-the-moon-you-might-land-among-the-stars…thing.”  Even thought that saying is so overused that it makes me want to barf, it’s kind of true.

7.  Invest in something besides retirement. (Deadline: December) FAIL

This one was pretty miserable.  We’ve had a lot of fails here’s  the last one that didn’t work out.

We just couldn’t make any traction on this challenge.  I’m not sure why, we tried a lot of different stuff, from buying rental houses to starting side businesses.  I think we could have made this work, if we wouldn’t have been so aggressive about trying to do #6.

8.  Really help out a stranger.  Or someone I know.  Just help out another person in a big way. (Deadline: December)


9.  Tithe every month.

We’ve tithed every month this year, and it had shocking results.

10.  Eat low carb for a month.  (March)

I did this and lost 10 pounds!  I’ve kept them off, but I need to lose another set.

11.  Sew something I can wear outside of the house (Deadline: September)

Done!  Check out my project here.

12.  Make a podcast (Deadline: August)

Done!  Check out my podcast here.

13.  Run in a 10k (Deadline: October)

Good news is I did it.  Bad news?  I was beat by a baby.

14.  Wake up early for an entire month.  Early means 6:00…a.m.  (February  September) NEVER!

This one is as dead as a bag of treats in front of Pink and Rick.  I tried to wake up early a couple months ago, and I made it two (okay, one) morning.  I’m officially declaring a…FAIL!  Plus, I’m pretty sure dusk is as pretty as dawn anyway.  Here’s a picture to prove it.

2014 Bucket List

I can’t stop thinking The Lion King when I look at this picture.

Overall, I completely failed at 3 challenges.  Which isn’t so bad.  Hopefully, I will have the same results in 2014…as long as those aliens don’t steal the year again!  Are you working on your goals for next year?  What do you think of my new list?   Did I miss anything?



How to Give a Little and Get a Lot

We’ve officially reached a milestone.  Here is the last 2013 Bucket List Challenge I will write about!  Woooop!  However, I am going to do a full re-cap of my entire bucket list next week.  Annnnnd I’m going to debut my 2014 Bucket List.  I guess is going to be full of buckets for the next week.  If you’re roof starts to leak, just let me know.  I’ll bring a bucket over.

The last challenge I completed on my 2013 Bucket List is #11 “Really help out a stranger.  Or someone I know.  Just help out another person in a big way. (Deadline: December).”

Initially, when I wrote this challenge, I expected to give someone a chunk of money around Christmastime.  We talked about how much to give, and who we could give it to, so we were pretty serious about our plan.  Welllllll… God has a way of changing plans.

Let’s go back to September.  One fall afternoon I was talking with our neighbor lady.  Here are five facts about our neighbor lady:

1.  She is so sweet and kind.  She brought us flowers last spring, and helped me plant them (after she saw that I had NO IDEA what to do).

1.  Last year, she was laid-off from her job.

2.  She doesn’t have a high school education.

3.  She has three of the sweetest, most well-behaved children.

4.  Her husband works like a maniac.

5.  For the last year, she looked for jobs that worked with her kid’s schedule (they’re all under 7, so paying for a babysitter would pretty much eliminate her earnings).  No luck.

In September, we were visiting and she asked, “Do you have any friends who would like their house cleaned?”

“Um…”  I said, “let me check around for you.”

She said, “Thank you, thank you so much.”  (See, she is the sweetest!)

Unfortunately, in September we started our extreme house payoff plan.  So, I knew we weren’t in a position to pay for someone to clean our house.  But, as I asked people if they were looking for anyone, it felt weird to talk about someone I hadn’t used myself.  I felt like I was saying, “hey, you should spend your money on this, but I’m not going to.”  My dilemma left me stumped.  Until, I remembered #11 on my bucket list.  The only problem?  Hiring someone to clean my house hardly qualifies as “helping someone out.”

In pop culture, helping someone means giving them a house (extreme home makeover), giving them a car (Oprah), or just handing out cash (the lottery).  But, I thought about someone has helped me out the most financially, and one answer was, “my employers.”  They’ve given me a salary, new skills, and a network.  And, they pay me for a service..

Even though I didn’t have a clear answer, I ditched my original Christmas gift idea, and I told our neighbor, “if you have time, we’d love for you to clean our house.”  I’m still not sure if we are really “helping someone out” but I love having our house cleaned.  There is NO better feeling than coming home from working all day to a sparkling clean house.  Oddly, we get waaaaaay more out of this arrangement than I ever imagined.  It’s amazing.  I’m so excited to come home and see our sparkly house, I feel like Rick when he sees some food!How to Give a Little and Get a Lot

I still feel weird about everything.  I can’t decide if I’m either a nice neighbor, or the cheapest person on the planet.  I’ve tried to make up for my “helpers guilt” by introducing our neighbor lady to friends and making her some business cards.

Do you think paying someone for a service is, “helping someone out?”  Or, am I just a Grinch, who didn’t give a stranger money this Christmas?

The Real Duck Dynasty

Want to know what the real duck dynasty looks like?



Can’t tell what that is?  Me neither, and I shot it.

Here’s something a little easier to look at.

duck dynasty

I went duck hunting.  My husband always offers to take me, but I’ve politely declined because I’m really good at sleeping in and not so good at waking up in the middle of the night.  But, a couple weeks ago, I was ready to go.  It was the hunting trip I’ve been looking forward to for the last 2.5 years– the day Pink and Rick were born.

Let’s rewind: when Pink and Rick were born, we gave “Pink” his name because out of seven newborn puppies, he was the only one we could tell apart– his pink nose gave him away.  Two years later we found out his pinkyness is some giant genetic screw up, but at the time, it was just something to distinguish him from the rest of his identical brothers and sisters.  Side note: newborn lab puppies look like tiny burritos.

When all the puppies were given homes, and it looked like Pink and Rick were going to be our forever dogs, we had talked about renaming “Pink,” because he’s a boy.   But suddenly, a voice from the future told me, “don’t do it!”  I envisioned a time in the future when Pink and Rick would go duck hunting, and my husband would have to yell “Pink!” across a duck pond.  I laughed inside.  It was so funny, because all the other duck dogs are named super masculine names like, “Moose,” “Ace,” and “Harley.”

In my mind it was supposed to be a glorious moment.  So, over Thanksgiving my husband was talking about his next hunting trip and then, the moment I’d been dreaming of came to my mind, “you should take Rick and Pink,” I said.  “And, I want to go watch their first hunt” (a.k.a. I want to watch you yell “Pink”).

So about 4:00 A.M. we headed into the woods.  First we walked through a thorny forest, then we walked over logs, then we got into this soupy quicksand area.  That’s when I met Mr. Karma.  For torturing my husband and naming our dog Pink, I got stuck in the mud.  I tried to move forward.  I couldn’t lift my feet.  But, my body kept falling forward.  I ended up on my hands and knees in the cold, wet soupy mud.  I wasn’t so “happy, happy, happy.”

I wasn’t alone.  My sister-in-law also fell–a couple times.  At one point she told her boyfriend, “just leave me here!”

I don’t know how, but eventually we made it.  Just in time to take some pictures and call some ducks.

photo 2

Action Shot!

photo 5

Can’t believe he smiled. Look at Pinky go!

photo 4

A man and his lions.

Pink and Rick did a great job retrieving the ducks, but they wouldn’t sit still (shocking).  They scared a lot of the ducks away, because they kept jumping in the water.

If you want to see some stuff in action, I made this video.

Anyway, we didn’t get very many ducks, but after a couple hours, I got what I’ve been wanting for 2.5 years.   After the millionth time of the dogs jumping into the water and scaring off the all the ducks, my moment arrived.  My husband yelled, “PINK, SIT DOWN!”  My dreams came true.   Even thought I was wet and cold I was, “happy, happy, happy!”

But, I was still cold and by then I felt disgusting.  So, my sister-in-law and I called our father-in-law to come get us.  We snuck out of the woods.  Mission accomplished.

photo 5

My side pony is completely accidental

Do you want to go duck hunting in my place?  There’s a spot available!

How to Cut Your House Payment in Half

We got stuck in the middle of Storm Cleon.  Since we live in a place that NEVER gets snow, everyone freaks out.  Exhibit A: the bread aisle at the grocery store.

no bread

While it took me a little longer than expected to write this post, I did make this GIF of Pink busting it when we played fetch on ice!



Now that you’ve caught up, here’s How to Cut Your House Payment in Half…

If a genie said you could get rid of one bill, what would it be?  For me, it’s our house payment.  Our house payment grates on my nerves for several reasons:

4 Reasons my house payment irritates me.

1.  It includes an escrow account.

An escrow account is an account for your home insurance and property taxes.  This means, the bank charges extra every month and they put this money in an account to pay your taxes and home insurance every year.  This drives me crazy, because rising prices in home insurance and taxes made our mortgage go up every year.  Also, it was hard to shop around for home insurance prices, AND the bank got to hold on to our money all year.  Annoying.

2.  It’s our biggest bill.  This year, I started whittling down our monthly expenses.  We’ve cut our cable.  I drive for free.  We cut our satellite radio and our country club membership (that we never used).  Because, we’ve been shaving down our monthly bills, it started getting to me that we couldn’t lower our house payment.

3.  I hate bills.  They come every month.  They scream until you pay them.  They’re just needy and entitled.

4. The main reason our house payment irritates me is because we’ve been working on paying off our house.  So, the house payment is literally the only thing between us and our goal.

Because I started thinking that if we could lower our house payment then we would free up more cash to throw at the principle of the house.  And, since we’ve paid off about 50% of our house, I thought now might be the perfect time to try leverage our equity to lower our payments.  (I can’t belive I just wrote “leverage our equity.” Giggling.)

3 Ways I Considered Hacking our Mortgage

1.  Putting our mortgage on no interest credit cards.

2.  Getting a home equity line of credit– and using it to pay off our mortgage.

3.  Just keep our nose to the grindstone and pay off our mortgage as fast as possible.

Needless to say, my husband wasn’t a fan of #1.  Unfortunately, #1 was my FAVORITE because I could have written a blog post called, “How we put our mortgage on credit cards.”  But, I didn’t win that battle.  So, we were stuck between options #2 and #3.

We had setteled on #3, thinking we’re less than a year away from paying off our house, so let’s not get distracted.  But, because I’m queen of distractions (literally, “Kelsie” means Queen of Distractions in Finnish) we decided to go to the bank to talk about our options.

I met with a banker and I explained our issue.  I said, “we’ve got some equity in our home and we are working to pay it off in the next year; but, I’d like to lower our payments– and get out of this annoying escrow account.  Would it be worth it if we took out a Home Equity Line of Credit?”

The banker said, “you could do that, but the Home Equity Line of Credit has an interest rate that changes, so if you don’t get your house paid off, then you might get stuck in a situation having to pay more than you do now.”

My face must have looked really sad.  I was about to ask the banker what he thought about putting our mortgage on credit cards.  Luckily, he interrupted my thoughts.

He said, “I think we have something else that will work for you.  We recently started doing small Home Equity Loans at the branch level.  It’s a fixed interest rate, and the bank will pay all your closing costs.”

After he did some calculations he said, “It looks like you could cut your payments in half.”

“What?!?” I thought.

Here’s what is happening in Kelsie terms:

Say your house is worth $100,000, but you only owe $50,000 on it.  You could take out a Home Equity Loan of $50,000 and use it to pay off your mortgage.  You won’t have a mortgage anymore, but you will have a Home Equity Loan.  Your payment will be sliced because you’re only making payments on a $50,000 loan instead of a $100,000 mortgage.  So, you’re “hacking” your house payment by resetting it at a lower amount.  In our case, this slashed our payments in half.  Also, because our interest rate dropped as well, we even shortened our loan from 30 years to 15.

So, what’s the catch?

There’s an early payoff penalty.  If we pay off our loan in under 2 years, we will have to pay the bank $500.  But, with the money we were saving, either way it will be worth it.

So, now the question is: do we continue working to pay off our house?  Or do we start working on buying a rental house? Answer: I have no clue.

Our payment is SO SMALL right now.  Like, less than I paid to share a tiny house with four girls in college.  So, we’re going to crunch some numbers, and I’ll let you know how we decide to go forward.

This post may not apply to you at all.  Maybe you don’t have much equity in your house yet, maybe you’re working on paying off a credit card or student loans.  But, I hope you realize that if something annoys you, there is ALWAYS something you can do to hack it.  Find a 0% interest credit card.  Take some Christmas money and put a chunk of it toward your student loans.  Go sit in front of a banker and ask questions.  Or, just put your nose down and get rid of your debt.

You can do it!  You live in one of the most privileged times in history!  Tell those needy and entitled bills to shut it.

Getting Beat by a Baby: My 10K Race

One of the last items on my bucket list is to run a 10K.  Since, my time is running out, I found the last 10K around my house and signed up.  This weekend– the Saturday after Thanksgiving–while I was stuffed with salad pie, I got up at 6:00am, in below freezing weather, to hit the pavement.

Despite the pie and weather, I finished!  I ran the entire 6.2 miles.  And, I finished in 1 hour and 4 minutes.  Which is pretty amazing for me, but it still wasn’t good enough to beat my race nemesis– the baby in the stroller.

10K Race Finish


I was terrified before the race.  I was so nervous, I forgot to bring my pants!  Luckily, I borrowed some from my sister-in-law, but my fears weren’t over.  My stomach still felt like butterflies mixed with chocolate pudding.

Here were my top 5 fears:

1.  Needing to use the bathroom

2.  Falling in a ditch

3.  A full body cramp

4.  Getting last place

5.  Not finishing at all

Number 4, ‘getting last place,’ was my biggest fear.  I had dreams of being alone on the street… trying to find the route… but getting lost in a donut shop (most of my dreams involve donuts).

On race day, we lined up, and I thought I caught a lucky break–behind me I saw a lady pushing a baby in a stroller.  ‘I’m so lucky’ I thought, ‘Surely I can beat a baby!  Babies are so slow…’

Then, something terrible happened–a baby beat down.  Less than 5 minutes into the race, the baby was right behind me.  Seconds later, the baby passed me.  I saw a baby fist pump the air, taunting me.  Worse than getting passed by a baby, I never got close to catching up.  It smoked me!  I’m pretty sure that baby’s mom was on some kind of “Momma Adrenaline” (also known as steroids).

After mourning getting beat by a baby, I’m focusing on the fact that I finished–and didn’t end up in a donut shop.  Take that baby!

A big shout out to my brother who drove 5 hours to join me in the race.  He beat me by a minute, but he couldn’t catch the speeding baby.  So, I don’t feel so bad.

10K Race

Also, a big shout out to my husband, mom-in-law, and sis-in-law who came to cheer us on!  We will get that baby next year!

That’s all I’ve got for today.  Please check back on Friday.  I have very exciting news to tell you about how we cut our mortgage payment in half.  Big.  Really big.