broke and happy





Although May has been pretty it has not been kind to my bank balance.  First there were the two huge trees that had broken limbs and threatened to take part of my house down.  Big trees = Big money.  Then there was the septic line to the house that had to be replaced. Yes, replaced.  What a nasty, expensive job that was. There were car repairs and an expensive doctor visit too.  And a kid that needed to borrow some money. Oh and before all this I booked a cheap flight to Hawaii to visit M.  Isn't that the way life goes?

But all this life stuff got me thinking about times in my past.  Like when I first moved out from my dads house.  I had a little bungalow that was my first house to fix up.  Not as old as the house we are in now but similar in size. I ripped out the carpet, refinished the hardwood floors, painted everything white and polished the pink tile in the bathroom.  I loved that little house.  Even though I was broke that house taught me my first lessons in simplicity and how to keep a home.  Weekends were now about cleaning and gardening and Saturday nights were more fun staying in than being out partying. This is where I really grew up.

After we married we moved into a little bit bigger house in a much nicer neighborhood.  This is where our family started.  I loved being a young mom with little kids in strollers  Again, we didn't have much money but I was content.  I had the most wonderful neighbor, Sally. Sally was older and much more worldly than me. She had lived in Spain for awhile with her first husband and her home was gorgeous and full of art and antiques.  She invited me over for coffee almost every morning and really taught me how to decorate and entertain.  She taught me to use my best china daily and I sat in awe of her stories about antiques, travel and men. I often wonder if she knew what a big influence she had on me.

The funny thing is that these periods of my life were the leanest and yet the happiest. I don't know why that is but for me it's true.  I think I savor the little details more when I'm broke. It's seems like all the little things get elevated with a grateful heart. I think what has always brought me the most happiness is the idea of doing things on my own and in my own way and making something out of nothing. x

PS - Ok you guys, I caved.  You can find me on Instagram at MRSKORFF  Come visit for 15 seconds of daily beauty.  Or not.  :)

119 comments

  1. i agree. love this posting.

    ann

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  2. That's why we love you so:).

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  3. Couldn't agree with you more! And living it again now, later in life makes it even sweeter!
    Lisa in Fort Worth

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  4. My favorite blogger. Thanks so much for this post. Much food for thought!

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  5. Great post ! It's the simple things that can mean the most.

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  6. Hello Janet,

    We have found you on Instagram. What fun. However, for the life of us, we seem to be pretty clueless about what to do and how to do it. Still, as they say, one can never be too old to learn new tricks!

    Expenses do seem to come along like buses......all in one go......and one does wonder when a month will arrive which does not have so many calls on one's finances. Like you, we can certainly recall very stringent times when money was tight. For us, they represented some of our more creative and inventive periods. How to make a little go a long way was our motto.

    An aged parent once gave the advice that it is not how much money one has that matters but how much one appears to have that counts. What precisely she meant by this we have no idea but we have followed this maxim for the majority of our married life.

    Perhaps as you say, it is when times are difficult in whatever way that one focuses on the essentials of life. Happiness is to be found there, of that we are convinced.

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    1. thank you for following. i'm new there and am still getting the hang of it too. so far i find the community to be very positive and sweet.

      hard times do come and go. i've seen my share but focusing on the positive has gotten me thru lots. x

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  7. We've always been broke and we've always been content. There was never any choice in the matter, lol!


    S
    xo

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    1. that's funny and sweet at the same time sue!

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  8. May was rough for us as well. One of our dogs got into a new bag of food and ate herself sick. An overnight at the emergency vet clinic and a full day at the regular vet equals about $800. Then we had a plumbing issue as well, and a few medical bills arrived too. Thank goodness for savings. I love your photo of the roses and your message in today's post. Very true!
    Claudia

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    1. ooo sorry to hear about your doggie. hope he is on the mend soon. and yes thank goodness for savings!

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  9. "It's seems like all the little things get elevated with a grateful heart"

    So profound, so deep, so true!

    Thanks for opening the Instragram account!

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    1. thank you jeanne. i'm glad i opened it too.

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  10. Woohoo! iamthegirlof100lists and I just started following you.

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  11. I think having limited means really helps us focus on the truly valuable things in our lives.

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  12. I agree. Happiness is all about contentment and creativity - having more money doesn't buy you those things - as long as your basic needs are met. So glad to have you on IG - I succumbed (too) in February xo

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    1. i'm glad i succumbed b/c i find it easy and fun. while money can makes things easier it isn't the only way to happiness that's for sure!

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  13. Thank you for this post Janet! At the time when I should be thinking about retirement, I was laid off from my well paying corporate job and am now practicing esthetics. The pay cut is steep, but we've scaled back so that I can live my "career dream". We have been here before and we'll get through this just like we have in the past. Now I have to figure out how to cut my grocery bill like you have!

    I love your blog and always look forward to your new posts. They make my day.

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    1. thank you wanda. i'm glad you are practicing your dream now.
      maya angelo's quote that i just love...
      I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

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  14. I wish I had been more content and grateful years ago. I guess we just need those years of learning to learn that happiness and fulfillment are usually found in the simplest things. I was in the woods gathering pinecones this morning to add to my bowl of collected things from my walks.....those leaves and rocks and sticks are my favorite things in the house. I'm happy it didn't take me any longer than it did to really be content.

    One of my favorite things (there are many) about you is your passion in being who you are. XO

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    1. sarah you strike me as a very content woman. and it's all about the journey right? thank you for being a good friend. x

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  15. I thought well if you have jumped to instagram I should try too. But I have NO IDEA what I am doing NONE.
    We live a very frugal life too. Love Leanne

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    1. leanne, i didn't know what i was doing either. a few friends gave me tutorials and i was up and running. it is actually so much easier than blogging!

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  16. Splendid. It's also pretty refreshing that you look upon your cleaning days with a genuine regard for its charm. The best is anyone can get into that with the right cleaning materials and the proper perspective. Good luck!

    Weston Adams @ Leonard Brush & Chemical

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  17. You have a good attitude. I've always been grumpy in the lean times, I think because it can be so scary, and it's when you need to summon up courage and resilience which maybe doesn't come as fast as needed.

    I feel for you on the expenses. Ouch. We learned with our own 90-year-old home that there can be a price to pay for the charm of a lovely, vintage property...because, even with good-quality construction, it's simply the passing of time when even the good parts wear out with age, weather, etc. We spent a ton of money...thousands we didn't have...over a decade, trying to rein-in three centuries-old oak trees from damaging our newer, steeply-pitched roof and, ugh, did those roots cause plumbing damage. We didn't even know where our plumbing lines exactly ended up over the hilly half-acre, so had to bring in one of those expensive companies with the cameras which they push down into the lines; just a labyrinth of pipe. I miss the house; I don't miss the worries.

    My current '50s-era fixer-upper has pink and maroon bathroom tile, just coated with hard-water stain (my husband thinks it's not salvageable, but I'm determined...). I could use your tip(s) on how you polished up your pink tile back in the day. Did you use something eco-friendly AKA cheap? I'm thinking baking soda could scratch. Elbow grease with a plastic scrubbie, using what kind of green cleaner?

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    1. hi vicki! yes old houses can cost a lot. thankfully this place is small and pretty solid. but i suppose with everything comes upkeep. with this huge repair behind us we plan to build up our savings again. we were lucky we had it saved. as far as the tile goes, it's been a long time since that little bathroom but i do remember scrubbing with ajax or comet and polishing it with car wax when i was done. it didn't scratch and looked darn good. i bet there are better, safer products out there now. good to hear from you. x

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    2. Thanks for the tip; I'll give it a go...with something. I do remember using car wax on fiberglass a long, long time ago (cheapie shower stall).

      You're on top of things with your pretty little cottage. Really, no matter where and what you live in, there's always some kind of maintenance! I've had FOUR places, one a brand-new condo, one a brand-new house, a '40s-era rented apartment and a '60s-era rental house, where I came into water leaking in a stream thru the ceiling, three due to rain (construction glitch; the other two, termites) and one due to a burst pipe (manufacturer defect). It felt like a curse. And, I tell you, pulling up spanking-new, wall-to-wall carpet, drying it out and trying to get it to lay flat again just never worked; had to have it professionally stretched, twice, really to no good result.

      Hey, Janet, I was scrolling thru, scanning the many interesting, heartfelt responses to your post here...a few really giving me pause (I love this blog; I learn so much)...then seeing again The Negative Comment which could have been a thought-provoking one, truly, if it just hadn't gotten personal amid the pain. Flick the dart off your back and out of your air-space, okay? You know who you are!

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  18. Such lovely words Janet. It is so true - my happiest memories are times of frugality. Love the grateful heart comment - rings true for me. I have had a number of influential women like your Sally, who have inspired me with their creativity and passion in the everyday, and have helped to enrich my life.
    I hope the next few months are a little less expensive.
    Jenny

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    1. thank you so much for your kind words. you must be wired like me. :)
      women llike sally are so precious and rare. i think of her often. x

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  19. Janet, (don't be mad!) I think you're going to despise Instagram in less than a year. I've been wrong before though. Now, admittedly so, I am a competitive and neurotic type...so maybe it just wasn't for me. At this point, I've had my fill of social media bullshit. I miss myspace where it was encouraged to complain and take slutty pictures. I like blogs so much more. More sincerity and a cohesive depiction of who someone is. I even had to delete my Facebook to scrub clean the many years of my own obnoxious photos and status updates!
    You have such a great attitude and you inspire me to complain less. And I hope I'm like Sally when I grow up. Did she smoke? I picture her smoking very fabulously.

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    1. OH and hope you had/will have a spectacular trek to Hawaii! You'll remember the time with a friend far longer than the financial pinch. I know, I should go into financial planning.

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    2. Oh, Good Gosh! I'm reading easily through these posts,and (not paying attention to who posted this reply) I loved, loved, loved this one, and hit reply to the reply (eyeroll). Lo and behold - Its my favorite Janet commentator - Mr Stephen Andrew! Lololol Made my Friday. You are adorable. Ive been off Crackbook now for over a year. While I had no slutty pics to show off, it has destroyed lives with the "private messaging" and calling people out and cheating, and Im just so glad I cut that umbilical. Im afraid to join any other bullshit social media (hahahahaha) other than Twitter. Here I thought I was the most boring person on earth and the only one to want to give it all up. Are you my twin, Stephen Andrew?

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    3. oooo i need to get my ass out the door for work. i need to comment on all these lovely comments. but like lor says...stephen you are the best. i would so love to follow you on insta. i'm on b/c i'm doing little 15 sec videos of my day. i'd love to see a 15 sec slice of your day. i know we all would. ok gotta go but i'll be back!

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    4. ok i am back stephen. you may be right but b/c you have been wrong before i will trudge forward in the land of kindness which seems to be IG. everyone is so nice there! and suppotive! sally would have one cigarette with her evening cocktail (all v sophisticated) she wore one of her 3 minks as a bathrobe in the winter b/c really in southern california where else you gonna wear it right? she cut the tags out of chanel blouses - still have no idea why. she was a bon vivant eccentric and i wish she were still my neighbor!

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    5. lor you and stephen need to be on IG. do it.

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  20. You've just confirmed the age old addage: "money doesn't buy happiness". Indeed it does not!
    Glad you're on Instagram!

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  21. Janet your writing is so soothing! Would you ever consider writing a book on simplicity? You have so much to say and really elegant style. Think about it ;)

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    1. thank you marianne. i wish i could put together a book. i've sat down and tried but it seems i have nothing to say. maybe this will have to be my book?!

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  22. I hear you. A floral designer, well at least this florist designer, isn't the highest paid person on the block. Well maybe my block :-)

    And yet I'm usually quite happy and very grateful with my place in the world.

    Had I stayed married to the last husband I'd probably be having face lifts and drinking.

    I just came home from my first Zumba class since the surgery and am sipping a smoothie made with spinach from my garden.

    Could it get any better?

    i don't think so.

    xo J

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    1. jane, you are such a talented floral designer. i gasp when i see your work. and you live a very beautiful life that seems quite rich and full. your neighbors alone enrich your life so much. i don't think it could be better. x

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  23. Beautiful roses! It's a good feeling to be content where you are. That is a blessing!

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    1. indeed i am blessed to be the caretaker of those roses. x

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  24. Janet, what a great post. And the commenters - wow, some really neat things being shared. And Stephen is a crack up : )
    Aw, I love this blog!
    Safe travels,
    Julie

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    1. thanks julie. really this place is just a stephen andrew fan club. lol

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  25. I have the very same feelings about our younger lean years, we were happy but broke, I love that you reminded me of this, I always say that material possessions don't make us happy but I never thought to take that one step further in my thinkng, money does broaden our choices, gives us a bit more freedom, less worry maybe but for the purpose of buying more "stuff", nope, the old adage is so true, one can not buy happiness,

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    1. we think alike laurie. thanks for your kind words.

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  26. Tried to find you on Instagram but you have to JOIN to look at it? No thank you. Thumbs down to that.

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    1. You can type in instagram.com/ and then her user name (above) to see the pictures. You can bookmark it to check it whenever you want to see new pictures. You do have to join to comment, or to have the sites you like appear in a "feed". (I don't like that aspect of it either.)

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    2. I must be an idiot I don't see any place to type in her username. All I see is "log in" when I go to instagram.com

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    3. sorry ladies. you really are not missing much. it's just a little creative outlet. a bit different from here but not much. x

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    4. Anon, type this in your search field: instagram.com/mrskorff

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    5. I've had a few blogs I loved go into abandonment because the blog owner went over to 'other things' like Facebook, Instagram, etc. It's a choice, and it irritates my friends/family, but I'd long ago decided not to get started with Facebook, so I've felt the 'loss.' Janet, I just selfishly hope you keep the blog even though I applaud you for trying new stuff! I ran into what Anon at 6:08 did, with the log-in issue, so am glad to know how to see mrskorff without joining Instagram, at least for now. Thanks!

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  27. Another wonderful posting! So many lean and leaner and leanest financial times have really smartened us up ... and we are grateful for the lessons!

    Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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    1. yep nothing like lean years to smarten you up. i've learned so much from them. cheers to you jan.

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  28. Love your blog! And, will love following you on Instagram!

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  29. I love the song about a dissolving marriage called, "I Miss the Hungry Years". This line always touched me:

    I miss the hungry years, the once upon a time;
    The lovely long ago, when we didn't have a dime
    Those days of me and you we lost along the way..

    As for me, I realized long ago that simple pleasures rarely cost much.

    Donna from alovelyinconsequence.blogspot

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    1. oh what lovely lyrics and so true. so many good memories from those days. thanks for sharing donna.

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  30. Beautifully said Janet. As we make decisions for our upcoming wedding, I've tried to be considerate and practical, splurging a little here and there to make things really special for guests, but also keeping things basic and affordable in other departments, like my dress and the size of our wedding party. But after this, I feel so desperately like I want to clear out my house and get back to a simpler life. I am so frugal in many ways, and yet I splurge on good chocolate and wine other days. But more and more, I think simpler is better. Less clothing, less stuff to manage. Excess doesn't suit me and I always feel better when I live in a more restrained way, when a treat feels earned...when I savour rather than gorge on life. You're a wise woman. :)

    xo Terri

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    1. terri there is no doubt in my mind that your wedding is going to be not only beautiful but elegant just like you. i can just see it in my mind. thanks for your kind words. x

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  31. Hi Janet,

    A timely post...Sorry you have had a tough month. Yes, trees and septic issues cost money. Most of my neighbors are on septic, our house and a few others are the exception. I have heard the septic stories and the cost involved. Very expensive.

    I've been feeling a little stressed about money lately myself. After a year of saving for my daughter's wedding, I am close to meeting my goal. (have 4 months left) However, I know it will probably end up costing a little more than I planned on. (don't they always?)From the beginning I said I would not charge anything for the wedding, nor would I take $ out of our other savings, but in the end I may have to which I do not like.

    On top of that our house needs some things (exterior painting, a new lawn, and some major appliances are probably getting ready to bite the dust) so once the wedding is paid for, I will have to start saving for THAT. But I have to remind myself that in the end, family and our health is what matters most and I should be very grateful for what I do have. :)

    Glad to hear that even though you are broke, (like me) you are happy!

    Linda
    xo

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    1. ah you and terri are both in the wedding stage. so expensive! we still have a few things to do around here to but we'll tackle them as we go. that septic thing really was unexpected and such a drag. glad it is over! happy weekend linda, it's looking to be a pretty one. x

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  32. I really enjoyed your story. I agree with your thoughts at the end . Thank you for sharing, it made me think about what's important.:-)

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  33. Beautiful! Welcome to Instagram! :)

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  34. Janet - great post. I have been finding the same thing since our incomes were reduced in the last year - you have to make choices and be careful and prioritize and it forces you to be grateful for what you do choose. Having replaced a septic field and tank at this house, I know the cost and the fact that it adds absolutely no value to one's house (potential buyers always expect to flush the toilet, don't they? :-)

    I will find you on Instagram. I am a VERY random poster there for some reason. I think I am missing the hubbub, so I guess I must have to try harder!

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    1. you are so right about that septic tank. ugh.
      i'm loving the gram so come on over!

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  35. Janet,
    So very poignant are your stories of life and lessons we learn along the way about learning to find joy.
    My first apartment, I used the pretties sheets for curtains and my Mother came and was raving to everyone about my curtains. Women can teach us and inspire so many valuable lessons by sharing. I think you would be a very rich woman with a "book" that everyone would want to devour. You share so many real life lessons.
    I truly value you and your humble honesty.
    pve

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    1. patricia i made my drapes from sheets too! i'll never forget them. so many good memories. i'm having a hard time trying to write said book. i've tried i really have! help!

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  36. Janet,
    It's always a breath of fresh air to read your posts. I've been in the same situation, maybe everyone has, but you remind us to be happy. It is what it is and there will be more prosperous days ahead.
    Enjoy your weekend and thank you.
    Karen

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    1. thank you karen. i do not doubt that good times are ahead. i feel blessed every day. thank you for your comment. x

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  37. Sorry/Not Sorry the pinch has come for you, Janet. Yes to all you said. I agree. With my new 1950s fixer, the idea that my Saturday nights are now more happily filled at home than out on the town (or however you put that) would be my Real Housewives of The Boring Midwest tag line. Not ashamed to say it in this competitive world of having to always "be seen." Hate if this has stressed you/Love that you are sharing and getting through it in your own fabulous way. Hugs XOXO

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    1. you again? jk

      love the name of your tv show. i might actually watch that. lol

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    2. I'd say Biotch! cuz that is what I would say to my GFs, but I don't know you that well, so lets go with....LOL!

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  38. You've always had a roof over your head and food to eat. Many don't.

    Many live in true poverty.

    Many have had their spirit truly broken due to violence against them. That is being "broke" not simply the fact that you just haven't as much money in your bank account this month as you did last month.

    This post just reinforces the fact that you are materialistic and inward looking.

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    1. you've assumed a lot in your comment. i know what true poverty is. i know what going hungry really feels like. thanks for the insights into my life though. you sound like a lovely person.

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    2. And you are uncharitable and unbelievably negative. (Above anonymous comment. No one is interested in what you have to say. This blog isn't about you)

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    3. Janet materialistic and inward looking? Really? You must have her confused with someone else. If you read other blogs you would know what I am talking about.

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    4. I added a comment below before looking through previous posts. Janet, what an insightful and delicate comment to post as an answer to Anonymous. We all know there is a difference between the sparse times that we go through and the truly awful life situations of some fellow Americans. Thank you for your kind words to Anonymous and for understanding where she is coming from. this is why I truly look forward to chatting with you and your followers each week.

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    5. Anonymous @ 8:35

      What is your problem? You only make yourself look bad when you make remarks like that.

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    6. there is actually a lot to learn from anon's comment. he/she is right in that i do look inward...a lot. i purposely do to try and grow as a person and i suppose maybe too much? also, i do have to fight materialism. sometimes it gets the better of me but i am learning. :)

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  39. Hi Janet, jeanne here OK I'll bite what the hell is an instagram? Nah I dont expect a cyber lesson. Hell I cant even figure out how to offically join this blog. Must be my simple mind...;)
    love ya,
    j.

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  40. The post above mine is just plain mean. That just goes to show, you dont know what you are talking about.
    Love ya jan,
    j.

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  41. I was thinking about these same things today, Janet! It's always a pleasure to read your thoughts.

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  43. I retired three years ago with a limited income and I have never been happier. Don't think that it has been all roses--there has been cancer, sick elderly parents, and a variety of other life bumps. But even with my limited resources, I have never been without. And I am letting go of so many things. I think back to our early years and can't believe we survived. But 43 years later, the marriage is going strong, the kids are happy and I don't need half of what I own. When I think of all the energy I spent moaning about what I lacked, I could cry. I now know the meaning of living within my means and it has made me a much happier, less anxious person.

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    1. ah so beautifully put kristien. really. xo my love

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  44. i think one can go without fairly happily if you have love. i truly feel sorry for those who are trapped in emotional or physical relationships, even when they have escaped. if there are children involved there is never peace of mind.

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  45. you have such a great perspective on life! Glad you can see through the surprises and appreciate life.

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  46. thank you.....needed this post today..... I'm heading thank you for joining insta!!!! I love your pictures and will follow you for sure!!!

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  47. Thank you for writting this post. It hits home for me these days. But I just wanted to point out to you that sometimes the universe can make up for bad things happening. Even if it shows up in the tiniest ways. Like putting Jack White on the cover of Rolling Stone just for you.
    ;)
    ~diane

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  48. LOVE the comment from "Diane in rhode island". The important part being that she's evidently a person who notices "tiniest ways".

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  49. Such a beautiful post. Thank you. Like you, May was an expensive month for us too, and I'm loving being at home and being grateful for our simple space.

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  50. I love your blog ~ so much food for thought!

    Could you please tell me where you purchased the white summer curtains you have in your bedroom and living room?

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    1. the drapes in the living room are from pottery barn and are quite reasonable. I don't remember the exact name but they are cotton and run about $25 a panel.
      the ones in the bedroom are pretty old and i got them at target but they no longer carry them.

      hope this helps!

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  51. We had to pay out 50,000 for our daughter to go into a rehab/recovery center.Blew all our travel money and meant I have to keep working even though I am 60. On top of dental bills, car repairs, house repairs..it never ends so you might as well find happiness when and wherever you can.
    My daughter is doing incredibly well so it was all worth it!

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  52. Too true. I'm much happier (and my wardrobe is a lot more stylish) since I gave up chasing a big salary. I'm new to Instagram, I'm still not convinced by it, but I'll try and find you! x

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  53. Could you put a link in your blog to go directly to your Instagram, please? I was unable to find you. I enjoy your blog and I know I will also enjoy your photos.
    I resonated with the phrase "making something out of nothing." I do believe that limitations inprove creativity. Enjoying simplicity brings richness, don't you think!
    Blessings,
    Kim

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  54. I really enjoy reading your blog! Your story sounds familiar...and is such a good reminder to savor these moments! We too had a small bungalow starting out that I adored...and just moved into a bigger home when we had our first child. I love it and try to be thankful for all I have daily...as hard as it is to have a toddler (especially when he doesn't nap like today), I know these times fly by. Thanks for sharing!

    http://simplesoutherncomforts.blogspot.com

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  55. What wonderful photo of those flowers, everytime we've had to have heavy duty cutting down it costs loads.

    Lovely words of yours:
    fter we married we moved into a little bit bigger house in a much nicer neighborhood. This is where our family started. I loved being a young mom with little kids in strollers Again, we didn't have much money but I was content. "

    I am reminded to enjoy the kids in the ages they are because it really flies by. Strollers, then university and it really feels like that. Contendedness is a gift it really is.

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  56. I read house ... and house and house and I see a garden. I can see, why you are happy - you have everything many people wish for.

    Greetings from a lovely part of the world, where houses and gardens are out of reach for most of my friends. A small balcony or terrace is considered as a luxury.
    And we are not (even) broke! ;-)
    Which leaves us with parks, public gardens and the streets. Which isn't bad! Just not as nice as a house and a garden.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I learned, living overseas in a developing country on $120/mo. that I was as happy and as sad as I ever have been…with more money. The world had its dark moments then, as it does now. And it had the same bright moments. I try to remember that now, back in the world of marketing and consumption. It's easy to get pulled back in. :)

    ReplyDelete

kindness is never out of style.

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