Creative Caretaking Ideas

Creative Caretaking Ideas

Next month marks our four-year anniversary as Caretaking Couple.  Last week we visited Evergreen, Colorado, where we met back in 2006 and moved away from in 2009.  Evergreen is a beautiful place.  I recently asked Paul if he was ever sorry for leaving it.  His answer was no.  It is always good to be back, but becoming Caretaking Couple was one of the best things we ever did.

Evergreen Lake House

Evergreen Lake House

Several of my blog posts here are in response to questions I receive from friends and strangers on a regular basis.  A lot of you want to know how we find those people or organizations that are looking for us and what it is we do, exactly, once we find them.

I have addressed this before (click on this link about finding house and pet sits for a good place to start), but it has been a while and I just want to reiterate that there are many ways to go about finding caretaking and/or house and pet sitting gigs and there are opportunities out there for just about everyone.

For us, caretaking is a lifestyle versus a paycheck.  We focus on long-term sits (6 months to a year) across the US and typically exchange our services for a lovely place to live.  For others, it is a career.  It is not unheard of to make six-figures in this field, but those positions usually require a longer-term commitment and more work-hours/expertise than we can provide at this point.

This may very well change once Paul retires.  Ideas we have tossed around include substitute innkeeping, staging and caring for homes for sale, cultivating organic farms/gardens, vineyard management, yacht-sitting, becoming tour guides for historic properties (lighthouses/museums, etc.), working for the National Park Service…

Tending the Community Garden (Run by Estrella Del Norte Vineyard) During our New Mexico Sit

Tending the Community Garden (Run by Estrella Del Norte Vineyard) During our New Mexico Sit

These are just off the top of my head, and every position I mentioned was inspired by a “help wanted” ad or a face-to-face conversation with someone in need of this type of service.  I would love to know what your experiences have been with creative caretaking, or what kinds of gigs you would be interested in if and when you decide to become a caretaker.

Feel free to leave us a comment here.  I respond to every comment and look forward to getting a conversation going!




Creative Caretaking Ideas

Got any Route 66 and/or Grenada Recommendations?

Paul and an Arizona Saguaro on a 2010 Road Trip

Paul and an Arizona Saguaro on a 2010 Road Trip

October 1, 2013 marks our New Mexico departure date.  We are busy firming everything up and I can’t wait to share with you a couple of epic New Mexico blog posts I have in the works.  In the meantime, I have a question or two for you.

We will have a few weeks off between sits and you know what that means…ROAD TRIP…and some possible flights, as well.  Our road trip will start here on Route 66, which we will follow across Arizona and into California (our next sit destination).  From there, we are thinking about flying to Grenada for a week.

So, here are my questions to you…

Do you have a favorite place, either along Route 66 (in NM, AZ, or CA), or in Grenada?  And, if you haven’t been yet, are there any places you have been wanting to go to?  If so, what is it about those places that appeals to you?  We have all kinds of ideas to share, but I want to hear yours first.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to you and yours!

Creative Caretaking Ideas

Do You Pin?

Wine Tasting at Estrella Del Norte Vineyard

Wine Tasting at Estrella Del Norte Vineyard

We just wanted to catch up with everyone real quick.  My new job at Estrella Del Norte Vineyard is going well and keeping both of us occupied (ha ha).  I am enjoying meeting wine-lovers from all over the US and Canada, learning about New Mexico Wines (YUM), and having fun playing with various marketing ideas for the vineyard.

I’ve finally been bit by the Pinterest bug and am working on a separate Caretaking Couple business page.  If you would like, you can leave your page in the comments section and I will be sure to check it out.  I am curious to know what people pin and why.  So far, my pins include Airstreams, maps, wine, natural cleaning product recipes, books…yikes…this site is addicting!

What else?  We are six months into our year-long sit here in New Mexico.  It isn’t crystal clear yet where we will end up next, but we’ve got some ideas up our sleeves (stay tuned).  What are you up to?  We would love to hear from you, so please leave us a comment and catch us up!


Creative Caretaking Ideas

What Would You Do?

Front Porch Decor Brought to you by Wildflowers and Neighbor Cat

Paul and I have been in NE Portland a little over a year now.  Initially, we came here on a three month sit. Next thing you know, we are renting a sweet little Craftsman smack dab in the heart of the Alberta Arts District and close to just about everything we love about Portland. We have had a great time furnishing it and making it homey. The garden has been a highlight of our summer and I often wonder how we ever got on without a front porch.

From 2009 to 2011 Caretaking Couple was simply the two of us, traveling around the States and taking care of people’s properties and pets.  Each sit has been a bit different than the one before and we have learned so much along the way.  As I have said before, we aren’t going anywhere until the fall, as summer in Portland is absolutely divine (and well-earned after a long, wet winter)…but now that fall is just around the corner we find ourselves at a crossroads.

Do we stay here in Portland, because we are happy here, or do we continue on our adventures, because we love adventures?

Of course, I have given some thought to the pros and cons of staying put…


We have a comfortable place to stay.  Our neighbors are nice.  The landlords are great.  We have room for guests.  We have privacy.  We don’t have to worry about other people’s things.  We are able to enjoy our things.  I have built up a decent little pet sitting business here in the neighborhood.  We can walk or bus to our favorite places.  Our garden is awesome.  We are in an urban area with lots to do.  This community suits the both of us.


The rent is high for two people, especially when we can be long-term sitting for $0.  The landlords would like to sell.  We are in one place (I like to travel more, but most of our sits here are on weekends ~ the only time Paul is able to get away).  Work is hard to come by…twice I have been offered jobs, spent my own time and money preparing for them only to find out that they weren’t really jobs after all (super frustrating). There are urban issues like gentrification and crime. And with this beautiful home comes maintenance (time that could be spent wandering).  And it is true what they say about the rain…

So, what would you do if you were in our situation?  We are curious!



Creative Caretaking Ideas

Where To Next?

Paul and Valynne at The Smallest Bar in Key West ~ 2008

Paul and I aren’t wandering much farther than Portland this summer, aside from an occasional drive to the Pacific or train ride to Seattle.  This is because Portland is absolutely gorgeous in the summer and we have local pet sits lined up through August.  In late August, Paul is spending a week in Orlando, Florida with his boss and co-workers from around the globe.  I will meet him there the first week of September (yay!).  Yes, this is a hot time to be in Florida.  That is why we are renting a convertible and heading for the Florida KeysKey West, to be exact.  But not before visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.  Cannot wait and am actually wearing a Muggle shirt as I type this.  Feel free to call me a nerd.  Don’t care.

I'm a Muggle

OK, back to Key West.  Key West is one of our favorite places here in the US.  Nothing is set in stone, but I will be keeping an eye out for a potential long-term sit of the island variety beginning in late fall/early winter. Both Key West and Northern California are on our radar at present.  We love Portland and would be happy to stay here, as well…it is just that yours truly has a serious case of Wanderlust (by the way, have you seen the movie yet?  I got a total kick out of it) and it is true what they say about Portland being a bit…soggy for a good several months of the year.  And the tagline for Caretaking Couple is “Caring For Properties and Pets Across the US”, after all.

Have you been to Key West?  If so, tell us about it.  If not, where have you been that you would love to get back to?  Or, where haven’t you been that you would really, really like to visit?  Leave a comment on this post or any other for a chance to win a prize (details here) and I will draw a name on Monday, 5/28.  Thanks for keeping in touch!

Creative Caretaking Ideas


A Glimpse of The Collection

This isn’t the first time I have written about collections, or handwritten letters in general. Both topics fascinate me, after all. I typically have an easy time letting go of material objects, and I don’t buy much “stuff” for myself or others, unless I truly believe it will be appreciated by the recipient and I can truly afford the expense. Yet, I am a hoarder of ephemera. Honestly, what you see above is just part of my collection. At least it is relatively light-weight and easy to haul and/or ship.

What does being a hoarder of ephemera even mean? It means that I am the person that has saved just about every little ticket stub ever handed back to me, every wedding invitation extended to me, and every post card and letter sent to me (how else could I keep track of all of the places I have lived?). I treasure journals and yearbooks, love notes from grammar school crushes, matchbooks from favorite establishments, creative business cards, and let’s not even get started on old photos. Oh, and it isn’t just personal. I love all ephemera, especially of the vintage variety.

I know that I am not alone, but it does seem that I am increasingly in the minority when it comes to things that have been easily replaced or tossed aside by technology. Please tell me. Do you collect ephemera? What kind? Or is there anything else that you collect that you feel you can’t/won’t ever voluntarily let go of? Books? Beads? Guitar picks? Records? Crystal? Matchbooks from vacations past?

*Leave me a comment between now and Saint Patrick’s Day and I will draw a name and send the winner a handwritten letter with my Waterman pen on some stationary or an old card. Your comment can be about anything – what you collect, why you collect it, the (lost?) art of all things handwritten, etc. etc. Rapport. It (still) matters to me.




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