Growing up in a busy California town with 9 people in an 1800 square foot home, living off of super healthy homemade food (dehydrated fruit leather all the way homies) and wearing clothes my momma hand made, was very normal for me. We picked fruit to eat and bought our milk from the local dairy in huge 10 gallon buckets. I still remember the day one bucket tipped over in the trunk – my poor mom spent all afternoon cleaning it out and it still stunk. My nose still smells it…
Both my parents were such hard workers when us kids were growing up. Momma taught herself how to sew and learned the piano. These skills proved to be a Godsend when Dad was out of work years later. I would stand for hours getting my dresses hemmed, she was very particular and each stitch had to be perfect. In the afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays I would watch all my brothers upstairs, trying to keep them quiet while she taught piano lessons to all the neighborhood kids. With very little technology back in the 80’s you can imagine how fun that was in the California hot summers, being stuck upstairs with 5 little brothers running around. But we did it – it was a necessity.
Dad went back to college when there were 5 of us kids. He finished his Masters Degree and Thesis in one year – absolute miracle. He hardly slept and we rarely saw him. We scrimped for the next 2 years while he looked for a job in his field. Everyone told him he was “overqualified” – such an ironic statement that left us poor and living scarcely.
Nonetheless, we were happy. We roamed the town with our friends, took the city bus anytime we needed a ride to the dollar theater, and walked up to the local Circle K and .99 Cents Store to buy a little treat. We didn’t know how broke we were, my parents just carried on and lived the best they could. The .49, .59, .69 cent deals at Taco Bell were exciting eating out dates we looked forward to.
This is were I learned how to do home decor on a budget. My mother was the QUEEN of DIY. Yet there was no Instagram to share it on. But if there was I know she would have had a million followers. She was that good. But no digital cameras to document the madness. Getting film developed by putting it in the mailbox and hoping 1 of your 24 double photos would turn out deemed way to expensive for the outcome.
Momma stenciled everything. Pink and Blue houses were so “IN” back then. She would spend hours and hours taking her 3 house stencil and painting it on the top edge of our walls. Her lines were perfect and her steady hand was constant. She did this over and over until the entire kitchen was a stenciled masterpiece. She saved money to buy the matching hand towel sets and flour jars. Then at her local Church Relief Society Super Saturday craft days she would paint little blue houses to match our decor. For being on such a small income – our house was darling.
And not to mention her sewing skills. I remember when Cabbage Patch Dolls became the new hot ticket item for Christmas. They were so expensive. I laugh now when I see them at Ross Dress For Less for $20, with the signature on their little bottoms. I still want to swipe them up and save them as if I was 10 and can’t believe I found such a treasure.
That Christmas, we woke up to the most amazing site. All 5 of us kids (two brothers had yet to join our family) walked to the stairs to see five homemade Cabbage Patch Dolls relaxing on different steps, waiting for us to find them and be loved. Each one had their own homemade outfit they were dressed in. My girl had the long blonde hair in two pig tails, my baby brother Dallin’s was bald. I literally could not believe it. I was not angry one bit that it wasn’t brand name. It was mine. Made with an intense amount of love and endless hours of devotion. That sweet gift remains in my special box over 30 years later and continues to be one of my post prized possessions.
Blue and Black Fleece checkered jackets also become popular. I wanted one so bad. Everyone seemed to have them on during the “chilly” months of winter. I laugh now about that as well because that was nothing compared to the Utah winters my children endure. Nonetheless it was cold to us. The day she brought all those matching jackets out for us kiddos to wear was one glorious day. I was so proud to have that thing on, it kept me warm and happy.
The stories are endless of how my mommas DIY’s saved our family – my homemade prom dresses, the wood crafts for every holiday, and the meals she made up to keep us healthy (with no Pinterest to teach her). She made our house a home, our bodies were clothed, our tummies fed, and our hearts were happy.
This is where is started for me. My love for DIY. High school was filled with hours upon hours of scrapbooking my life. Eventually I would scrapbook each one of my brothers lives as well as my grandparents. I loved doing things with my hands.
I left for college and told my mom I would love to meet a “farmboy” who drove a truck. I had never met one before and it seemed so fascinating to me. I packed my things up in my friends car and gave lots of hugs to the boys. I was off on a new adventure in Idaho. Ricks College was my destination.
I arrived on the weekend and headed to an opening social outdoor dance that next Tuesday. I saw this darling young man pushing around his friend in a wheelchair (who had a horrible cliff fall the prior weekend). We crossed paths and he asked me to dance. I asked him where he was from.
“I’m a farmboy from Montana.”
I literally couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Could it be that I could meet one that quickly? I am in Idaho I guess. It was time for the next question then…
“So what do you drive?”
No way. Three days in and I already met him. I wrote it down in my journal that night and then called my Momma to tell her the news. Now, the rest is history…