When Paul and I tell people that we have been taking care of properties and pets across the US since 2009, the response is oftentimes an enthusiastic one, followed by lots of questions.
Sam, curious to know if I have any more carrots for him.
One of the most popular questions is “What are some of the pros and cons of this lifestyle?”. Listed below are a few of my typical responses. These usually lead to a more in depth conversation, and I am happy to elaborate here if any of you would like more specifics (you can leave your questions in the comments section and I will reply).
- We get to experience new places in a way that most tourists don’t (we live like locals, if only temporarily).
- We meet people from all walks of life and form beautiful friendships along the way.
- We get to care for and enjoy a variety of pets, knowing that they will be just fine when it is time for us to move on.
- Our living expenses are much less than that of the average homeowner/renter.
- The possibilities are endless and pondering our next locale is part of the fun.
- Caring for someone else’s loved ones and belongings is a huge responsibility. There will be stressors.
- Some places and people (and pets!) are harder to leave than others.
- Some people are harder to caretake, or sit for than others (we’ve learned to respectfully decline ridiculous requests).
- Setting up house in a different state every few months to a year comes with it’s own complications.
- Sometimes, there is “amazing opportunity” overlap and the decision making process can be tricky.
So, there they are, off the top of my head. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you share a similar lifestyle, and have something to add to the list or comment on, we would love to hear from you as well!
The Santa Fe Plaza ~ Inspiration Mecca
Recently, I’ve had a couple of friends tell me they want to start blogging. They want to know how to get started. I’ve referred them to WordPress, because this platform has worked for me more so than the others I’ve tried. I am not an overly techy girl, and WordPress is pretty darn intuitive.
If you are somewhat computer literate, you can start a blog quite easily…and it will cost you nothing but some time and energy. Start with the link above, and then if you decide you love it and want to monetize it and all sorts of other fun stuff, you can upgrade it later like I did.
Backyard Blogging in Nambe, New Mexico
That’s my easy answer to the question of how to blog. The more complicated question that needs to be asked of anyone who wants to start a blog, is why? What do you expect to come out of this blog you are contemplating creating? This is important, as blogging can be a real labor of love…it can take quite some time to build an audience, and no time at all to lose said audience if you don’t keep at it.
It doesn’t really matter why you want to start a blog, so long as you yourself know the reason. Do you want to share your travel stories? Build brand recognition? Meet other Harry Potter fans? Post your head shots in hopes of furthering your acting/modeling career? Gauge interest on a new business idea you have? Establish yourself as an expert in your field? Great! Just know your “why”.
I began blogging because I enjoy both writing and photography and the thought of communicating with people all over creation excited me. Initially, I blogged about Mountain Girl Organics, a company that I have since sold. For the past three years, I have blogged mainly about our adventures as Caretaking Couple, throwing in suggestions and support to those who are interested in a similar lifestyle along the way (to date, there are over 160 posts on this site).
Like I said, I am not all that techy. Still, I have managed to capture an audience of like-minded people. My target audience or demographic is mainly caretakers (or house and pet sitters) like us along with people who are looking for caretakers like us. This demographic includes travel enthusiasts, animal lovers, and friends and family who enjoy keeping in touch on a more personal level than our other social media outlets allow.
New Year’s Eve in Nambe, New Mexico
My main expectation for this blog was that I would get the word out that we care for properties and pets across the US. This I have accomplished. We are now offered sits based solely on the contents of our blog. This has saved us tens of thousands of dollars, owing to the fact that when we caretake, or house and pet sit, we typically have no rent/mortgage/utilities to worry about. I have a looong list of other goals to accomplish as well, including publishing our e-Book and making SEO a priority.
Are you a blogger? If so, how and why do you blog? Has your blog met or maybe even exceeded your expectations? Please let us know via the “comments” link and share your blog address as well, if you wish. If you are considering starting a blog, please let me know if you have any specific questions, and share with us what you expect to receive in return for your blogging efforts.
Binks says Goodbye to the Brit
Caretaking Couple officially moved to Santa Fe in October. We are here on a long-term sit (a year or longer). The drive from Oregon to New Mexico was an adventurous one, and we arrived just in time for me to help unload and clean before heading off to spend three weeks with family in Connecticut (stay tuned for a separate post).
Our New Neighbors
Sadly, I don’t have many photos to share. My beloved Canon G12 is now beyond repair. It was never the same after having broken a fall I took back in Oregon (lots of cracked and uneven sidewalks in Portland), and it finally kicked the bucket for good. So, the few pictures I have are from my i-Phone.
We are actually living on a reservation on the outskirts of Santa Fe. It is full of peace and quiet and we are smitten. There are horses and cows in the backyard, along with rabbits, roadrunners, lizards, and the occasional coyote. The house is a 1950’s ranch with an open floor plan and a fabulous fireplace.
Our social lives are much different here than they were in Portland. We had so much fun there, living right off Alberta Street and being able to walk everywhere. Now, we are doing a whole lot of hunkering. It feels right. We’ve been out on the town (in Santa Fe) twice so far, and both times were great. I will talk about our favorite spots to go and some of the cool people and pets we’ve met soon.
In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you and yours! Love,
Valynne & Paul
Raised Garden Beds ~ Before
Paul and I started looking for rentals here in Portland, Oregon last fall and found a sweet little Craftsman in the Alberta Arts District. The house had almost been sold but the deal fell through and we were given the opportunity to rent it month to month. One of the things we loved best about it was the fact that it had a backyard with raised garden beds. We couldn’t wait to start playing in them come springtime!
Weeding, Fertilizing & Planting a Bed at a Time
The house was unoccupied for a while, so there was some catching up to do. We tackled the beds one at a time, netting each one upon completion in order to keep the cats out (strays had taken to using the back yard as their hang out and the garden beds as jumbo litter boxes). We pretty much had to start from scratch with these beds (weeding, then digging out old soil, then adding new soil/fertilizer, then planting and covering with net). By the way, the strays are still welcome, but not in the garden beds.
Sweet Pea Prep
We used a combination (about 50/50) of seeds and starters to fill the beds with, depending on what needed to go in when and what we were able to find locally and were able to find just about everything we wanted at Portland Nursery, Marbott’s, and Garden Fever.
Paul planted the peas about a month ago, and here they are a few weeks later. The combination of sun and rain has done our little garden beds lots of good. We are both super excited about enjoying and sharing the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers of our labor, including raspberries (already growing wild), strawberries, leeks, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, string beans, peas, eggplant, collard greens, bib lettuce, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, chamomile, lavender, rosemary, basil, oregano, dill, and dozens of different wildflowers (making sure to choose ones that attract bees and hummingbirds).
Raised Garden Beds ~ (Almost) After
This can’t really be called an ‘after’ shot as there is still much growing and maintenance to do, but I really couldn’t wait any longer to share with you what we have been up to these past few weekends. I will add another picture or two in the coming weeks if I see that there is interest here on the blog (feel free to ask questions, give gardening advice, etc. via the comments button).
I Love Garden Gnomes
It has been sunshiny these past few days and today we are getting just the right amount of rain, it seems. The Pacific Northwest is in it’s glory this time of year and Paul and I continue to love it here. Now, to pick out the perfect gnome (or two) from Garden Fever. Paul is not convinced that we need one ~ what do you think?
PS Thought I would add another garden shot, a month or so after this post was written. We have enjoyed this back yard SO much!
Raised Garden Beds ~ A Month (or so) Later
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.
WordPress has a weekly photo challenge at The Daily Post. This is my contribution.
I recently asked Paul what five places he loved most in America so far (he has been here for nine years this coming March). The Redwoods of Northern California made #1. We will be making a return visit, in the late spring/early summer. Do you have a favorite camping spot in the area?