On The Page: You Can Buy Happiness

I picked up Tammy Strobel’s You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) at the library. I was drawn by the play on “you can’t buy happiness” and figured that if I picked up just one new idea that reading the slim volume (about 200 pages) would be totally worth it.

You Can Buy Happiness

You Can Buy Happiness relates the story of Strobel’s journey (along with her husband Logan) from a paycheck-to-paycheck corporate job life in California to living a simpler life in a tiny house in Portland, Oregon. The book begins, as does Strobel’s journey to living simpler, by discussing “stuff.”

Discussing how much “stuff” we own is a complicated topic. Depending on my company at any moment, I vacillate between feeling like Forrest and I don’t have any “stuff” at all and feeling like we have entirely too TOO much stuff.  A lot of the book focuses on Strobel and her husband downsizing from a 1,200 square foot apartment full of stuff and to an 800 square foot apartment and finally into their 128 square foot house. Along the way, she examines how “stuff” actually can have a detrimental effect on our happiness

The part I was most interested in was the section on “Buying Happiness.” This section seemed to be the place I would learn how to “buy” happiness (as promised in the title). As expected, it was a purposely-misleading title, however not in a dissatisfying way. “Buying” happiness, according to Strobel, can be accomplished by “investing” in those things actually make us happy: relationships, experiences, community, and appreciating the small things. Remembering that “stuff” and money can’t ever outweigh these things is so incredibly important being reminded never hurts.

Perhaps the best thing about Strobel’s structure of the book was the mixture of personal and interview anecdotes combined with “mini-actions.” The mini-actions found at the end of each chapter were designed to allow the reader to have small, concrete steps towards making their life simpler and happier. Some mini-actions Strobel suggests include the common sense (“eliminate non-essential spending”), others are more thought provoking (“evaluate how much time you spend managing your stuff” and “track your time for a week”).  At first, the mini-actions seemed a bit cheesy to me but the concept grew on me as I read through the book.

Since we structure our life with a focus on so many of the same concepts that Strobel argues for in You Can Buy Happiness. (fewer possessions, less debt, more focus on free time and relationships, etc.), I was surprised that I was left feeling somewhat confused by my reaction to the book. I found myself feeling that while I hadn’t necessarily gone the most radical route possible, that Forrest and I, more or less, are actually practicing a lot of what she’s preaching. It made me wonder where I could go further and try harder.

I would recommend You Can Buy Happiness for anyone looking to start along the path towards a more simplistic life. If you’ve already done some reading on the topic, this book may be a little bit repetitive of the same ideas you’ve read elsewhere (although you may, like me, find going back to basics to be food for thought). If you read You Can Buy Happiness (or already have), give me a shout, I’d love to hear about what you thought!

Mesa Verde National Park

After we explored Brown Mountain and poked around Durango, we headed for Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde National Park has more than 5,000 archeological sites including some very impressive cliff dwellings. If you decide to visit Mesa Verde, definitely arrive early to avoid lines to sign up for the ranger lead tours of some of the bigger cliff dwellings. Since we didn’t get there early and had to be really aware of how long we left Sprocket in the car, we chose to just do a self-guided tour of Spruce House.

The drive from the visitors center to Chapin Mesa and Spruce House took about an hour. It’s a pretty drive through juniper and pinyon pines with sandstone cliffs here and there (a lot like Log Hill Mesa where we live actually…).

Road through Mesa Verde

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum unfortunately. The building itself interested me a lot more than the sort of outdated displays. Partially funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., it’s just a beautiful example of classic National Park architecture!


After checking out the museum, we headed down to Spruce House.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde

Spruce Tree House

View from Mesa Verde

I’m a Stonewear Designs Ambassador!

Last week, I had a message on my phone from Stonewear Designs, they had picked me to be an Ambassador!

StonewearAfter winning a skort from these guys last fall, I’ve kept up with them via Twitter and Facebook. Just after moving to Ridgway, they put out a call looking for women who are involved in their community in addition to leading active lifestyles who would promote them via social media, blog posts, and product reviews. I applied, figuring being picked would be a long shot.

They picked eight women to be Ambassadors this year, including me! I’m so excited.

Be sure to head over to the Stonewear blog today to check out my fellow Ambassadors. We include yoga instructors, climbers, moms, runners, hikers, photographers, and more. It’s going to be a great year and I look forward to sharing it with you all.

Hawaii Hiking


Brown Mountain

Red Mountain

Last week we started our “weekend” (Wednesday and Thursday) with a drive up Brown Mountain. The road had some awesome views of the north side of Red Mountain #1 (we had views of the south side from Corkscrew Pass a few weeks ago). I am always astounded with the contrasts between the Red Mountains, the green trees, the blue sky, and the gray peaks beyond!

Brown Mountain

Although no van was pictured on the list of transportation for Brown Mountain Road, it seemed to do just fine:

Van on Brown Mountain Jeep Road

At the top of the road, we headed up the gully to the ridge of Brown Mountain. The hill side is really steep but the views just get better and better as you get higher. It felt so good to be out exploring with Forrest and Sprocket.

Trail to Brown Mountain

Down valley

The ridge of Brown Mountain leads to Mt. Abrahms which stands out prominently from the Million Dollar Highway. We decided not to venture that far down the ridge on this trip (although we’ll be back!) and instead relaxed on the first small peak we came to and enjoyed the view.

Brown Mountain Ridge

View north east from Brown Mountain

South on Brown Mountain Ridge

A Glimpse at my Browser Window

I’ve been woefully deficient in the adventure department lately (out to fix that today!) so I’m going to share a little glimpse of our life as it is right now.

Since we don’t have internet at home right now, we’re sitting in the library using the internet. I’m here on our computer while Forrest is using a public computer. (We’re totally gChatting across the building.)

Tabs open on my computer right now:

  • Google Search: “Dogs on Abrahms Mountain?” Looks like a short jeep ride, a long ridge hike, and a great day with my boys.

Brown Mountain Slopes

  • Pretty CJ-8 on Craigslist. $40K is a bit much but it’s quite pretty. (What happened to me?? Oh that’s right, Forrest. ♥)

Restored CJ-8, silver

USGS Map download

  •  REI’s dress department…because that’s how I roll.

REI Dresses


On The Page: The Wilderness Warrior

I recently finished The Quiet World, Douglas Brinkley’s history of the wilderness preservation movement in Alaska, and since I really liked it I checked out the other existing volume in his Environmental History of America series: The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.

Last winter I read Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life and found myself wanting to know more about TR and Gifford Pinchot. The Wilderness Warrior definitely filled in some of the blanks left by A Strenuous Life regarding TR’s environmental policy. Like The Quiet World, Brinkley’s bias towards seeing TR as a hero for the wilderness movement was evident (as was his opinion that wilderness should be prioritized over commercial interests). I am glad that I had read a more comprehensive biography of TR first.

Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir; Yosemite, 1903
Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir; Yosemite, 1903

In many ways Wilderness Warrior was a much easier read than The Quiet World—because it focused on just TR, it jumped around less in time and place than The Quiet World did. As with all biographies, I wonder just how complete a picture I’m getting of the person I’m reading about—how do you condense a life down to a book?

Wilderness Warrior was full of anecdotes about TR that I hadn’t heard before. (I meant to make notes of these to share with you all to illustrate the awesomeness of the book but I didn’t…oops.) What was most amazing though, is the sheer number of sites that TR helped to preserve in this country. He created or enlarged 150 National Forest areas. He created 51 Federal Bird Reservations. He created 18 National Monuments using the Antiquities Act of 1906; including the Grand Canyon and Mt. Olympus (later, my favorite national park: Olympic).

The Wilderness Warrior was another excellent read. I’m looking forward to the next installment in his Environmental History of America series!