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Yes, we really live here

I was recently asked if everything I do is for real. The answer is,yes, we really live here. I actually get that question a lot, along with “Can you really make money blogging?”

They wanted to know if my house really look the way it does on-line? And my yard? The honest answer is yes, well, most of the time. The pictures are real, and that is how my house is decorated, but I also live in a real home, with a real family. They are messy, and sometimes a little destructive. We are messy as a family lots of time too. They leave backpacks by the door, dishes all over the house, random socks in weird places and stuff everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. My bathroom sink is decorated with a floral arrangement, and gobs of blue toothpaste. My Middle has a beautiful new bedspread…wadded up on her floor mixed with dirty shirts.And ripped paper. Don’t ask me why, because I really don’t know why.

But also, I think one thing that throws people off is our home looks a bit fancy sometimes in pictures, however, we are not fancy people. We are not people who have high paying jobs, or drive crazy-nice cars. Can I tell you a secret,that our neighbors know? We drive a 10 year old mini-van with a door handle missing, and a muffler that needs to be replaced. You can  hear us coming from a block away. It often smells like feet and old milk. But, it’s totally paid for. Our plan is for our oldest to drive it in a few years (hopefully it will make it that far), and then we can get something newer, that hopefully we’ll pay cash for.

Old front walk before putting in a new path. Yes, we really live here.

We were in debt for a long time. We made a lot of mistakes when we were first married with money, and then we had a lot of crazy things as homeowners that happened to us that ended up costing a lot of money. Slowly we sunk deeper and deeper into the mire, feeling like we couldn’t keep from drowning. Some months, when the kids were smaller, we wondered if we would ever see our way out of debt, and if we would ever have a time when we didn’t worry about having enough. We worried about groceries, we worried about bills. We worried about it all.

Debt is a hard and heavy weight to carry. And it’s mostly a secret shame. You look at other people’s lives with envy, and while you don’t know if they are living that way debt-free or not, it certainly seems like it. We did it for 15 years. Even with both of us working, we could never seem to get ahead. It was always something else. After years of struggling, we buckled down, made some smart decisions, and we finally got totally out of debt last year.It’s is such a relief, but it makes me never want to get back to that place.EVER.

But, there was a gift in the messiness. It did do some really great things for us, and me. It deepened our faith together, and made us realize we needed to depend on God to give us what we need, which is a scary thing, but very freeing.

It’s been hard, but on the upside,it has taught me how to be creative. My home is the result of not having enough money, so I learned to really stretch my creative muscles, and make what I couldn’t afford.I might not have done that if we were rolling in the dough (not that I wouldn’t have minded mind you…). Like when I did my front walk for free. Someone was getting rid of the stones, and I transplanted plants from what I had, or what clippings I could beg of my neighbors and family. And I started digging.

Front walk way with hosta and coral bells and annuals in raised urns

It taught me how to find things cheaper,be crafty about how I used what I have, and it made me realize that I loved making home decor,and I love sharing it with you. A long time ago I realized that I didn’t want to fill my home with things from other home designer’s ideas, that I only want to fill my home with things I love.

This last October when we finally had a big breath of debt-free air, and it seemed like we were finally going to be able to take a break and roll around in all of our excessive cash, in one big naked money party, and my regular job, a  job had been working at for 16 years closed our division.I was out of work ( along with lots of other people.) and now only had my creativity, this blog and the other creative things I was working on. Our safety net was gone. You know what, it’s OK. It’s a total God-thing too. We’ve learned things will be provided for us, things have already stared turning up, and that there’s a plan bigger than us. Sometimes we need those pushes to move to the next thing. The whole door opening and closing thing….

Yes we really live here. In a home that’s not perfect, or not the biggest, but brought about by something deep inside for very little money. It’s ours, something put together with paper and paint, and hard work, and creative brain juice. I love a good cold, glass of creative brain juice.

Lavender lemonade

So when you look around at all of these homes on social media, realize there are a lot of people like me, like you.

They are messy, and creative, any maybe broke. Maybe struggling. But, maybe trying, really hard. Living real lives.

If you are in debt, I recommend you read (affiliate link) Dave Ramsey‘s books. They made a huge difference for us, and I got mine from the library. They are a great way to get on the path to getting out from under that debt. I’ve read all of them now, and I also like to watch him on the Fox business channel. He has series called Debt-Free Friday where people call in and share their stories and how they go out of debt. It is really inspiring and motivating!

Don’t let feeling like you don’t have enough money to make your home the way you want. There is always a way, and  there is always paint, and paper, and creative brain juice.

 Yes, we really live here, Why do people always ask if I really live in my house or if it's all just for show?


  1. Personally, I think one of the fastest ways to get deep in debt is credit cards. If you can’t pay your credit card in full every single month, cut it up and close the account. You can get so deep in debt so fast, and if you don’t have the money to pay in full, it’s often a losing battle. Pay cash. Best way to stay debt free.

    And Jen, just once, post a pic of a messy house. Just once….

    1. Actually if you have been paying on time and you close out the card you will hurt your credit score. You will close out good credit history. Even if you don’t use the card don’t close the account.

  2. Jen-Thank you for being so transparent! It is refreshing! You and your home are beautiful inside and out:))

  3. Thank you for sharing this. It was like reading a ray of hope! The debt struggle is real .. and exhausting … overwhelming … scary. (the list is endless!). Thanks again. God bless!

  4. Thank you for being genuine and transparent and loving and supportive and incredibly talented. I have experienced much of the same since almost 4 years ago when we started renovating our home (we’re still not finished and won’t be for awhile). I know that God has a plan for us and that things will work out perfectly… in His time. I love your home and the love that you fill it (and your life) with. xo

  5. Hi

    I started reading your blog a long time ago when you shared a recipe for chalk paint. I have enjoyed watching your development and have used some of your patterns.

    It is refreshing hot have an honest viewpoint. I sometimes sit here watching the surf in Northern NSW Australia. I was beginning to think everyone who blogged was very wealthy. Good for them, but you have shared with us the truth of getting to a staged where contentment is the name of the game. You go girl, I really love your honesty.

    1. I agree Larain. Because we can’t all keep up! I love the idea of just watching the surf and enjoying the simple things!

  6. Love everything about this. Your style is so much more than just taking pretty pictures at the right angles or buying expensive things to decorate. You are a true artist, one that CREATES the beauty around you. All of your art tells the story of who you are. You rock Jennifer Rizzo!

  7. Jen,
    What a beautiful blog today, sharing your heart and being real to the readers is so inspirational. You spoke the truth!!! Thanks for being transparent, you are beautiful inside and out!!!! I love your creative spirit.
    From one Kindred Spirit to another,


  8. Wow, what a great post. Very encouraging. I love your new walkway. Can you give the name of the red flowers you used. Fanstatic job!

    1. Those are actually just garden mums from the grocery store. They bloom in the late summer and early fall.

  9. Hi Jennifer, it’s good to know your behind the scenes story and to hear all about some of the struggles you have faced. I have to admit though, that I got to know about your blog during the big Christmas hop you put on each year and did feel a bit ‘out of your range’ your blog because the hop seems like it’s only for the most polished homes and most creative decorators. Also, I recently realized that our homes are in the same state and while that made me happy, it still was kind of intimidating. Anyway, it is good to know that what you share on the blog does not solely define you – your story goes deeper than just what others see on the blog. I feel much more confident leaving a comment or connecting now that I know a little about the ‘real you’. Thanks for sharing – that is a testimony in itself!

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