Hillary’s been Trumped

by Bella 

Regardless of which side you were on,  or even if you were put off by both candidates,  you’ve gotta admit election day results were a shocker. 

This isn’t a political blog,  and in striving to keep all things simple,  I think I’ll leave it at that. 


Airbnb virgins no more

We’ve avoided traveling in recent years because it can be complicated, expensive and tiring. We’ve opted for stay-cations instead. This year, we decided to try something new in the hope it would make traveling easier and more enjoyable.

Living in the Northwest where several locations in Canada are just a short drive away. We only wanted to go somewhere we could drive to to avoid the headaches of planes and rental vehicles. We chose Calgary because it’s less a tourist destination than Vancouver, Victoria, or Banff. Few people go there in summer, that coupled with the exchange rate in our favor made for an affordable choice that would leave us spoiled for choice of accomodation.

Using Airbnb were found  accommodation with free parking for only USD$45 per night in a cool, trendy suburb within easy walking distance of the city. The place was a new and immaculately clean townhouse with our own private bedroom and bathroom with use of the kitchen. The hosts provided us fantastic advice on local cafes and restaurants that were the hot spots for locals. We traveled with a very small duffle bag and one small backpack between us. Everything else we needed as far as toiletries, towels, hairdryer, etc. were provided.

I made a short video of our room (sans la salle de bains) ….. Check it out! Not bad for $45 per night, eh?  Sorry, couldn’t resist slipping in the stereotypical Canadian “eh.”


This was our first time using Airbnb, and we were so glad we did. We never could have stayed so close to the city in a hotel of similar quality for anywhere near the same price. We were able to walk the beautiful Bow River trail along the edge of the city and take in the sights at our own pace. Having our vehicle with meant we could explore further afield and get around safely after dark. The only preparation needed in advance was to register with Airbnb, to book and pay for the room, then pack our bags and enter the destination in our GPS.

It wasn’t totally without complications. We ran into a bit of a hitch with Airbnb registration process. As they have grown, they’ve increased their security making all users provide sufficient verification of who you are. That’s fair enough. If I’m staying in a strangers home, they have every right to make sure I am who I say I am. It’s they means of proving who you are that posed a bit of a problem for us.

Because we live simply, we avoid using much social media, and a large part of the Airbnb verification process is giving them access to your social media contacts. Without that, we had to jump through a few hoops, but now that we are verified and have received positive feedback from our hosts, all future bookings should a snap.



2015 in review

It’s always interesting to see who’s reading my posts. I’m doing this more or less as a periodic journal for the time being. I started a year and a half ago hoping to find like-minded people through blogging. I’ve since discovered that more than that, I want a place to record my thoughts and small achievements. Somehow writing things down is therapeutic. Finding like-minded people is a bonus.

Thanks for reading. ~ Bella



The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 610 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A beautiful day

by Bella

The Northwest is covered in a cloud of smoke. It’s been a long, hot dry summer, but, even with the smoke, it’s still such a beautiful place.

We went hiking in the Idaho panhandle. It was so peaceful. It’ s a Monday, and I’m sure many are staying indoors to avoid breathing the smoke.

We decided to get out there despite a bit of risk smoke inhalation.

I wanted to share a couple of pics.




I hope the region sees some rain and gets the fires under control soon. It’s sad to think that so much of this amazing wilderness is aflame.

Our goals – 1 year later

by Bella

Where are we at one year after posting our goals? Adapting and changing. This is a family made up of individuals who are growing and changing all the time. In that process, we often have to change our path, though our end goal remains the same.

One constant is our desire to achieve voluntary simplicity. We just keep revising our ideas on what that is and how to get there.  As we learn more, and environmental factors impact us, we make the necessary adjustments.

The goals we set a year ago were our ultimate dreams. It’s great to have dreams and to strive to achieve them. The real world may have other plans for us. Keeping that in mind, here are those same nine goals and where we are today, one year later.

  1. to be free of boxes of stuff. If it’s not something we use on a daily basis and truly need or love, it’s got to go. Jack has done a fantastic job of selling our excess stuff. We don’t really have a lot left as he has made a huge dent.
  2. to eat only simple foods that are nutritious, organic, vegetarian/vegan whole foods that are easy to prepare. We strive everyday to find the best quality, healthy, but simple foods to eat and have become inventive with our recipes. Jack and Bo decided late last year to reintroduce some meats into their diets, but I have remained vegetarian and have avoided most animal products. We eat mostly whole natural foods, cooking vegetarian recipes, to which Jack and Bo often add a bit of meat. We did have to start a “meat box” in the fridge to keep it separate from the produce.
  3. to live in an environment where we can bike, walk or use public transport and be car free. We do live in an environment where this is technically possible provided we stay in our isolated small town for everything and forever. Because that’s not an appealing concept to us, we keep and use a vehicle. I do walk to work 95% of the time, John works from home and Bo studies from home, so our vehicle use is minimal.
  4. to be able to fit all of our possessions into one small bag each and only one small container of kitchen supplies. Not even close. We still have a long way to go on this. After a long talk with Bo when she expressed a strong desire to stay put until she finishes her high school education, we decided to keep a few comforts to make our place feel like a home. See numbers 5 through seven for more info.
  5. to travel, to live, to love life without the constraints of maintaining a home, having excess physical possessions or working at jobs we that don’t feed our spirits. Without the stuff, we don’t need the home, without the home, we don’t need the jobs. This is where the dream and reality conflict comes into play. Our daughter Bo doesn’t want to do this until she finishes school, and then she wants to go it alone like her older sister who lives in Australia. We raised very independent kids. When she told us this, we stalled our travel plans because we always put our kids and their happiness first. Since that time, financial reality has sunk in. We have the money to travel and explore, but not the location independent income source to be able to maintain that lifestyle for long. We are working on a revised goal that will temper the dream with the reality. It is a work in progress. We live in a month-to-month rental that is fairly stable and inexpensive. Because of this, if our situation were to change, we have the freedom to get back on track with our travel dreams.
  6. to generate an income from things that we enjoy. I like my job, but, as I said, it’s not location independent. In fact it’s very much tied to one building. Jack, though he works from home, and, as of yet,doesn’t earn enough to support all three of us. He likes what he does, and is looking for new ways to grow his business.
  7. to have the time and money to travel and explore our passions. See number 5 about financial reality.
  8. to post on this blog weekly to track our progress and hopefully help others. I now want to revise this to say, to post on this blog when I find inspiration and want to share it with the world. I have so many ideas that I want to share, and I want to do it with passion, so I plan to write when I’m excited or fired up about something. I also have so many things that I want to do. Blogging is just one of those things. IF I focus too much on blogging, I’ll burn-out; so I’ll try to maintain a balance. I hope to get Jack involved. He’s full of ideas that I’d know people would enjoy reading about.
  9. to start a YouTube channel about our adventures by the end of this year. I’m proud to say that I did start a YouTube channel where I posted a video and had fun doing it. The video wasn’t about adventure, but it was about something I’m passionate about, genetics and genealogy. I will most likely post more on a variety of topics in future.

So there you have it. We’re real people, sharing our journey. Voluntary simplicity remains our main focus, and we continue striving toward achieving our dreams. As we succeed and inevitably, sometimes fail, we will continue sharing our story.

Split down the middle

by Bella

So it’s super cool what 23andMe does with your results when you link results with close family members. They were actually able to split my results down the middle, 50% from dad and 50% from mom. They also refined my results and some of the percentages changed.

So initially, I was going to just get my dad tested rather than myself, because we had scant info about his side of the family. By just testing myself, as a female, I would have only gotten the info from my 2 “X” chromosomes leaving big gaps regarding my paternal line. In the end, after researching and finding out that having both of us tested would yield split results, the decision was obvious. I had to get us both tested. It also helped that Jack was able to get the test kits on eBay at 25% off. Schweet!

In my last post, I shared my overall final results that further proved that I made the right decision getting myself tested. We got a bit of a surprise on my mom’s side that revealed that she had at least one ethnically Jewish grand-parent. No one in her family had a clue despite their extensive ancestry research and family tree that goes back to the 16th century.

Now I want to share the oh so cool split results.

I was able to link my dad’s results to my by going into my 23andMe account after both our our results were in and searching for and designating him as my father under the “Ancestry Overview,” “Paternal Line.” Once I’d done that, it took about a week and the revised overall results as well as the split results were available.

Not only did 23andMe split the maternal and paternal DNA, they also were able to refine the percentages of ancestral groups. For example my percentage of Ashkenazi went up from 12.8 to 13.2 percent. That’s not a huge difference, but it means that for every linked close family member who’s tested, your results become more refined.

An added bonus is that when my familial matches contact me through 23andMe to share their DNA, andI accept their invitation, I can compare their results to my father’s and instantly know if they’re related through my paternal or maternal line.

So what’s next? I’ve found a way to build an excellent quality detailed free family tree on line which also links my tree to others in their database. It’s Family Search. I created a free account and start putting in my info. Well I had only entered in about a dozen names before I got my first match. It turned out to be genuine and took one line of my family back 8 generations. Maybe I was just lucky, but, needless to say, I was pretty stoked with how easy it was to get a match.

Between the DNA test, ancestry.com and Family Search, I hope to continue learning about my family history. The DNA test has been the most insightful so far. I’ll use the results to try to find the ancestors who put all the different flavors in my genes.

If you know of any great, little-known sources that would be helpful in my search, please share them in the comments. I have yet to find any family members on ships records or in Europe. Any help or advice would be appreciated. I certainly hope that some of the information I’ve shared can help someone else.