A family's journey of learning how to make a home, save money and be healthy… while having fun doing it!

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I can’t believe a year has gone past…

Happy New Years Eve!

It seems like it flew byIt’s hard to believe it’s the last day of 2011. Since we had Auden, we can’t really go out anymore but this IS probably the first New Year he’ll get to stay up with us and celebrate for the first time! We’re going to go out to dinner as a family and then celebrate with family… what are you doing for New Years?

I’ve never done a New Year’s resolution, but this year I’m motivated to. A lot of it involves the goals of my blog and I will be using my blog to track my progress. My goals this year involve my overall wellness. Although there is no overall universally accepted definition of wellness, most involve having a state of acceptance or satisfaction with your present condition. My goals for better wellness and a better me involve:

  • quit buying Starbucks and make more espresso at home. Coffee also falls into our family’s financial well-being.
  • A cleaner, more organizer, more efficient, less cluttered house
  • eating healthier during exams and stressful times
  • getting enough sleep
  • financial well being (have all of our debt minus student loans paid off at 100% and having a good emergency fund set up)

In addition to having New Years resolutions, this year I want to spend some time with my family reflecting on the past year. I will be using this PDF from simplemom.net.

Have a great New Year and see you in 2012!


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Do You Have a Life List?

Photo: Courtney Renaud. Please do not use without permission or photo credit.

I’ve finally come up with a “life list.” I’ve had a word document saved on my desktop for sometime of some rough ideas I’ve come up with. I don’t like the term “bucket list” because it’s very Hollywood now and somehow implies you life is less than ideal unless you accomplish those things. I heard the term “Life List” on another blog and have decided to publish mine. So here it goes:

  • Create a blog
  • Learn to speak another language
  • Have a garden
  • Become 100% debt free
  • Go to Greece, Japan, and India
  • Run a 5k
  • Adopt
  • Go to New York city
  • Teach my son to read
  • Get 8 hours of sleep every night for one month
  • Swim with the dolphins in Cabo with Auden
  • Build a house from the ground up
  • Write a book- even if it’s horrible and I’m the only one that ever reads it
  • Read through BBC’s list of 100 Books to Read before you Die. The list is found here: bbc100 books
  • Visit all of the major league baseball parks with my husband
  • Climb a mountain with Greg and Audie- preferably Desolation Peak- Kerouac’s mountain. After all, it is “impossible to fall off mountains.”
  • Graduate grad school

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How I get all the free stuff:

A lot of my friends and family members have asked me how I get free stuff or very discounted deals. It was part of my motivation to start this website to share how to be frugal with others. Whether you are a mom, a college student, or just on a fixed income, deal sites are probably one of the best ways to get things for free. Buying things I have no interest in paying full-price for on deal sites affords my family to spend more money on the things we’d rather have and allows me to be in college. For example, I would rather be able to have extra money to take vacations and buy good, quality, organic food than spend full-price on something else. I save where I can so that I can buy other things that have meaning to me and my family.

I use a lot of deal sites. I usually sign up for the site when they are giving a sign up bonus and then I wait to use my credit until they have something I can get for free! It’s time consuming and you constantly have to check the deal sites to find a free deal, but that’s what I’m here for! I will try to alert you to when a credit will make your purchase free or very cheap!

I have purchased facials, vitamins, a free $25 water bottle (crazy, I know- I would NEVER in my life pay $25 for a water bottle!), pedicures, golf outings, kitchen supplies, and food… just to name a few! So here are the main websites I use! Go and sign up now so you can have the sign up credit so that when a good deal comes along you can use it to score some free stuff!

Groupon: groupon

Living social: living social link

Plum District: (I love this website because it was created as a deal site just for moms) -but even if you aren’t a mom, don’t let that keep you from signing up because there are lots of things on the site that make great gifts! Plum District Link

Eversave: eversave link

Keep in mind that for some of these, they will occasionally send out free $10-$15 in credit emails and these are the times when you have to jump and the website and find something that will be free!

I hope this helps get someone started!

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It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life

Merry Christmas, everyone! This year was a huge success. Our family didn’t take on more than we could handle this year, and we actually had time to cook and to watch a Christmas movie together.

My goal this year was to have great memories, and lots of family time.  That is what Christmas is all about.  Love, being able to relax, fun, and memories. Love has long been commercialized, which works great for retailers- because people will always try and prove their love more and more by spending more and more. I did end up running around (with a cold) the night before Christmas-eve tying up some last minute things, even though I swore I wouldn’t this year.  I am not against it, but kids can’t be bought.  Gifts are fun, but gifts aren’t what memories are made of and with the small amount of time I have off from school to enjoy being a stress-free mom, I wanted every second to count.

After reading one of the blogs I follow, I decided this year I wanted to try something new relating to gifts. Instead of giving out candles, bath sets, and neck ties, our family decided experiences were more important this year. I used a couple deal sites to score some cool things for family. My mother in-law got a massage, my Aunt got a facial, and my future sister-in-law got yoga classes.

When everyone asked what Auden wanted this year, I tried to emphasize that our house is small and Auden has TONS of toys but what we would really love are experiences with Auden. Check out Becoming Minimalist’s post for moms: Minimalism for Moms

Our Aunt got Auden a zoo pass for the family (which we can use all year round for the Milwaukee Zoo and other area zoos and aquariums) which I’m incredibly excited about! Auden loves animals and I can’t wait to spend as many days as possible at the zoo with him! My still received mostly toys, but that’s okay too- a lot of the toys were things like Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Play-Doh that develop spacial skills.

Plus, who can resist seeing a little boy’s dream come true after receiving Buzz and Woody for Christmas? This was one of my favorite Christmases in a long time, and I was very grateful to spend the time enjoying family and relaxing. I hope everyone else had a fun, relaxing holiday as well!

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The Best Things in Life aren’t things

The best things in life aren’t things

It’s such an easy concept but it’s so hard to remember sometimes. Kids learn this right away. You know, the whole “kids would rather play with the box than the toy” saying. I first came across this quote while reading the blog: becoming minimalist. This one line inspired me to begin writing a blog. This blog is about the journey of our little family- our goal to live more minimalist, our everyday adventures, the crazy stuff my kid says, and anything else we come across.

For those of you who know us, we live in a tiny condo. VERY tiny.  One day I just got fed up with all the clutter in our house. Being in school full-time, having a two year old, and working doesn’t exactly leave a lot of time for organization.

As I was googling organizing ideas (I was planing to tackle our clutter over winter break in hopes of having a less-stressful next semester) I came across this blog. The first idea that stood out to me which Joshua Becker wrote was about the fact that you can only come up with so many creative organizing solutions before you run out of room. The second idea that stood out is that we waste all this time organizing and cleaning through stuff that we could be spending with our family, like Christmas break. I feel horrible that I don’t get the quality time with my son during the school year, but I was planning to de-clutter during break? I was sold. I’ve been a messy, unorganized person my whole life and enough is enough. I don’t have the time or effort anymore to waste my (very) precious free time cleaning through stacks of papers and spending 20 extra minutes looking for stuff.

Here’s my motivation:

  1. More time with my family
  2. Less stress
  3. Less debt
  4. More productive life

We won’t be getting rid of all of our furniture or living in a concrete house. I like Becker’s idea of “rational minimalism” because there will always be a small amount of toys around my house. I have an obsession with news magazines and Real Simple so those will be around for awhile too, until I am able to get e-versions of them. Our mission is going to be: to find everything a place, control what comes in our house, control the amount of clutter in our house, and live a more fulfilled life.

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Why Augre Court?

8 months pregnant♥

Auden is my son’s name.
W.H. Auden was a poet at the turn of the century, and my husband is an English Major so it just worked for us.
My Hubby is Greg, my name is Courtney, or Court (for short!).
We live in a tiny condo, unlike lots of bloggers with big gorgeous houses to decorate- so we do what we can with the space we have, and save some money in the process.
Thats where we came up with “Augre Court”
Au+ Gre + Court = my family and our home!

I am a mom, wife and a student, who works. I’m also a big fan of getting more for less- although I’m not a “Couponer” because it seems like it’s hard to find healthy food with coupons, and this family is working on being as healthy as we can!
I spend most of my time happily delving into my future career, but all work and no play makes me a dull girl. So, I’ve decided to blog to write about topics as diverse as current life happenings, money saving tips, subscription boxes, house/condo renovations and anything else that is a current interest. I enjoy writing, spending time with my family, reading, interior design, photography, drinking espresso & wine, learning about History, long dinners w/ husband & shopping. In another life, I live in ♥Chicago.  My true passion is traveling & documenting experiences with my camera.

I’m married to Greg, and I think he’s a pretty awesome husband and dad.


Together we have an amazing little boy named Auden Brody. Auden has inspired me to be a better version of myself by tackling what goes into our house (chemicals and foods) and furthering my education. I can’t begin to explain the joy I find in being this little boy’s mama ♥