Recession woes? A creative way to beat the system

Like most of you, the recession hit hard in the homes of some our grown children. One of our families with five children 10 and under was without an income for nine months. Luckily they all love rice and beans and the recent happy ending of that story is a great new job in a new location. Oh that everyone could be that lucky!

For our son Jonah and his wife Aja, it wasn’t quite the same story. With his own construction business and as a general contractor, Jonah had just built eight beautiful homes in St.George including his own when the recession descended with a fury. Fortunately the other homes were sold before the crash but the realization soon settled in that after working so hard to build and furnish their own superb home in Snow Canyon, they were going to have to sell it for a little over half of what it was worth.

You have to know this couple to appreciate what happened next. Fortunately their favorite place to shop on earth was the Deseret Industries and the great deals they came up with were remarkable! Also, running a car on gasoline seemed silly to them and Jonah figured out how to turn old diesel Mercedes station wagons into what we call “Greasels”. I don’t know if that is a word but it fits because their car runs on vegetable oil that they pick up used from chinese food restaurants or fish and chip places. They have traveled over 70,000 miles without having to buy gas!

So they loaded their three adorable children ages 9, 6 and 3 into the old station wagon, smelling like a fish and chips joint all the way, and drove to Washington State on a wing and a prayer until they found a place that “felt right” to them. In a little town called Sequim on the Olympic Pennisula they bought a little one and a half acre farm with their savings and set up shop.

The house on the property was really just an old shack that hadn’t been lived in for several years but those two, who could have been in mourning over the loss of many things…. just bloomed! They recently had a new baby and the kids are pleased as punch with their new home and schools and farm animals!

They went from this:

To this:

Here is a quote from Aja’s blog, “I saw an old motorhome a couple of months ago with two bumper stickers that I really liked:

Honk if Parts Fall Off
Don’t laugh, it’s paid for!

That pretty much sums up our life here. BUT, the house is looking a lot better I think. We’ve put a lot of work into the house, but very little money, so that feels good.”

What you need to know about Aja, in addition to the fact that she was a former “Miss Las Vegas”, was that she also graduated from Harvard. She was one of the few undergrads in history to walk through the graduation line married…and pregnant! We pretty much think that she is the on of the most amazing people we have ever known!

One of Jonah and Aja’s greatest attributes is finding great deals! It is hard to believe that they just rolled up their sleeves, spray painted the entire inside of the house white (our Grampa used to say “paint covers a multitude of sins”) and started looking for deals.

The kitchen went from this:

To this:

And the most incredible part is that they did all this, granite countertops, cabinets and paint throughout the house for $150! Unbelievable! That old shack now looks like this:

(Hey, not a palace but they could care less!)

And this is what Aja has to say about the renovation: “Some of the free stuff included trades or a LOT of hard work on our part, but I’ll spare you the details. The most important thing I need to say here is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to our friends out there who have so GRACIOUSLY donated stuff to our quest for “free”dom. We’ve had a lot of friends give us their unwanted furniture, hand-me-down clothes and/or old building supplies. We hope that you know how much we appreciate it all. Our mottos here are REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE and DON’T CONSUME–CREATE!!, and we could never do it without the support of our understanding and generous friends and a local Non-Profit Building Materials Recycling Store (the source of our paint and many other things) AND Craigslist, the great liberator.”

Of course Richard and I think this is a book in the making. There is so much more to tell! Oh that we could all be more like this!

Jonah and Aja love their little farm. Aja adores animals and I love the farmer genes that Jonah comes by naturally as families on both sides of my family came from working the earth!

Their oldest, Aniston, who is nine just bought her first horse with money she has been saving all year. The horse was $100 and the saddle and equipment was another $100. She withdrew her money from the bank on the way to pick up Cocoa!

On Thanksgiving Day their pig Luau had 10 piglets:

And Christmas this year with Jonah and Aja was a riot! Aja does believe in a plethora of creative gifts that we opened from morning until night but I think the best ones were the wigs that she got from the Halloween store at 90% off! The creativity of this couple goes on and on. But for now we’ll just say how blessed are we to have these two as part of our family. Richard and I just keep thinking that in order to deserve them we better do better!

What a gratifying, noble, splendid and valiant way to beat the recession!

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