Debt Free Dates

Here’s just a short list of 10 things you can do with your spouse in and around St. Regis, so not only do you save gas money, but the dates are basically free or very cheap. We will be employing these soon on our date nights in our efforts to reach financial freedom.

  1. Hit up our famously large, elaborate, and eclectic Gift Shop. St. Regis’ Gift Shop is huge! Full of unique gifts, home decor, jewelry, clothes, toys and so much more. This date doesn’t need to include buying anything, but simply browsing with your spouse, try on cowboy hats, get weirded out by the moose that talks on the wall, act like a kid and enjoy the trout display. Eat some FREE popcorn as you peruse the stores vast array of collections.
  2. Find a scenic view and depending on the season enjoy some ice cream or coffee or hot cocoa. We both enjoy heading up to the Point, or the Horseshoe, or whatever you may call it. The best view in town, we’ll sit in the warm truck or on the tailgate and look out across this beautiful place we live. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect, talk about important issues, or just make out ūüôā The Vista Trail in Superior has great views too after a climb to the top.
  3. Check out both of our town’s Antique stores, the one by the post office and the other on 135. See if there are any treasures that you recognize, like old toys or watches or knives. Admire the vintage glass-work, furniture, and jewelry. Discuss what living in those different time periods would have been like. Find items that are very ambiguous and guess what their purpose was, then ask the shop owner for some insight. Meander, talk, and appreciate these antiques from times past.
  4. In the winter when you’re struggling with cabin fever and overall sluggishness, get outside and enjoy nature. After a fresh snow take a hike with your spouse, and your pups (if you have some) and explore the crisp white mountains. Being in the forest in the snow is more serene than¬†any other time of year, the quietness from the layers of snow, the shapes of the trees, the movements of animals.
  5. Become masters of borrowing and loaning. If you want to go snow-shoeing but don’t have the gear send out a plea on good ol’ Facebook and see if someone will loan em to you for a day. In return bring them some cookies or let them borrow something of yours. Think of all the winter related sports we have space to enjoy out here: Cross country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing.
  6. Go to our local library’s and make it a mission to find these six items, a recipe from a cookbook, a quiz to take from a magazine, find your favorite children’s book, pick a book with jokes in it, a travel book or magazine, and lastly a book of poems. Once you’ve each located the six, share with one another, a recipe you’d like to make, take a quiz from the magazine together, read them your favorite children’s story, share a joke, dream of places to travel, and express your love with a poem you’ve picked. For some more humor take a walk down memory lane at the St. Regis library and look through all the old year books you were in.
  7. Watch a local basketball game this winter, junior high games are free to attend and provide entertainment as young ones are learning the ropes. And because my husband is a teacher we get to watch high school games free as well. Cheer on the teams, hold hands, and reflect back your own glory days together. Applaud the performers at our local school concerts.
  8. Attend one of Mineral County’s many free events during the Holiday Season. On our local tourism website the events calendar displays numerous Christmas outings and activities that are free to enjoy. In December St. Regis will be having a Christmas Bazaar on the 5th at the Community Center, then the following Saturday Superior will be hosting their annual Holiday Stroll.
  9. Sometimes the most rewarding dates with your spouse are those where you give back to your community and volunteer. Find ways to help with the local food bank, or simply stop the by the Assisted Living Center in Superior and have lunch with the residents. My boss does this twice a week and has been doing it for years. Another way to interact as a couple with some wiser members of our town, go to Senior Citizen Center and sit down with them during meal time. You don’t even need to eat, but instead just get to know some elders that you can glean some life experiences from, ask a couple who’s been married forever their advice on making it last.
  10. Stay home. Have a picnic on the floor in your living room. Watch a new movie or a favorite old one. Play board games, or conquer a huge puzzle. Drink coffee and do the daily crossword (our favorite), have a spa night with a bubble bath and give massages, look through old pictures together, dream of your future and make a bucket list for your marriage, cook a fancy meal and dine by candlelight, play video games for some friendly competition, workout and exercise, or have a fire in your backyard and roast some marshmallows.

Owning it

Responsibility. Having it is one thing, but taking it is another. As adults we have responsibilities in our work, our homes and society. Duties that must be performed, expectations that need to be met, rules that must be followed, and laws to abide. As an adult taking responsibility for our lives is another story, owning it, facing the truth about how you got to where you are, right this very moment….

I saw a quote the other day that I completely resonated with…..

dr phil

Think back on your life and consider all the different types of influences you had around you. Did you have control over what they were or whether to have them be apart of your world? For children that answer is generally no. They are subjected to whatever environment and atmosphere their parents create for them. Safe or harmful? Loving or abusive? Positive or negative? At least that was my experience growing up.

I didn’t get to choose to have a “normal” ¬†family with parents that were married and expressed love to me and my siblings. It wasn’t my choice to have two alcoholic parents, to have a mom that was neglectful and a dad that was abusive. It wasn’t my dad’s choice to go to Vietnam. It wasn’t my mom’s decision to be physically abused by my dad. But God gave us free will and I am so thankful for that.

Eve decided to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was her choice.

In this broken world that we live in accepting our mistakes, and taking responsibility for our actions is not a common trait instilled in ourselves. A teen experimenting with drinking and drugs blames their parents for lack of guidance, or mirrors their behaviors. A young girl without a father chooses dangerous relationships and seeks love in miserable forms because of that void. A boy explodes with rage and anger after seeing his father react in this way. A teenager with low self esteem and little confidence feels worthless due to a parents neglect and rejection. A marriage crumbles and falls apart because a husband and wife were never shown how a marriage should work.

Valid reasons, really good excuses, cycles and patterns, cause and effect. Yes your upbringing will have a profound impact on who you are, what you will become and how you’ll live your life. BUT. And that’s a really important BUT, you have a choice! God gave you a mind, will, and emotions so that you can decide for yourself whether or not to choose Him. Whether or not to repeat the mistakes of our parents. Whether to take the same road or forge a new path to a brighter future. Whether to take that drink, or to cheat on that test , or to stay in school, or to stay pure until marriage. Every single moment¬†we have choices to make. And our decisions are our own, your parents didn’t make you do it, your friends, or anyone else.

Indeed we are the sum of every experience, triumph, tragedy, and commitment we ever make. For me the greatest decision I ever made was to ask Jesus to come into my heart and save me and forgive me of my sins, I was 11. Then in junior high and high school I made a pact with myself to avoid drinking and drugs, because I saw what it did to my parents and my family. Was I pressured? Of course. I was tempted and just as susceptible as the rest of my classmates but I promised myself I wouldn’t go down that road, simple as that. I made the decision to move out of my home at 14 to escape an unhealthy and dangerous upbringing.

Then I decided to date the boy who would become my husband (well I didn’t exactly decide, my heart did that for me). Then I chose to attend counseling to help deal with the trauma of my past and because I was angry, bitter, and co-dependent and these were behaviors that I didn’t want to keep.¬†I then decided to go to college, neither of my parents or siblings went.¬†Then when my relationship with Christopher progressed and we got older we decided to get counseling so both of us could find healing from our painful childhoods.

We then made an even bigger decision and got married in spite of having no direction on how to build a marriage. We both had a vision of how a marriage should look, and although we’d never been taught how to be a good husband or a wife, we agreed on how NOT to be married. My parents were abusive to one another and unloving, so I did the opposite. He had an absentee father, and stepfathers ranging from abusive to criminal. My husband makes a daily choice to not react in anger, to be faithful and respectful to me.

You don’t have to be someone you don’t want to be….¬†

Along the way we have made thousands of decisions, individually and as a couple. I know that through God’s grace in my life I made a lot of smart choices I wouldn’t have made on my own. God’s Holy Spirit was inside of me giving me direction when I didn’t even know it. Praise Jesus cause I am so lost on my own.

Own….I own my life and all the things that have led me to this point. I own my marriage in the ways that I prioritize it everyday, and by investing in my relationship with Christopher. I have a great marriage because of God and the work that we put in. No one else is at fault for the life you’re living. Own your past, accept whats happened to you, pray for forgiveness for things you’ve done wrong, and for healing. God can help you let go of the wrongs that have been done to you. Learn from history and from the errors of others, tomorrow is a new day and anyone can have a new life/marriage/family in Christ.

Weekend Rewind….The Fainting Goat

outside fg
courtesy Alana Damron

Sometimes a date night calls for good friends, great food, and fabulous fellowship. So instead of a double date, the fab five of our Young Adult Life and Death Group (our personal moniker) made a trip to Wallace and perused the hip and modern Fainting Goat Wine Bar.

FG sign      FG wine

We were here for the Eatery, and the Espresso of course! We all picked different menu items and shared bites and tastes around the table.

FG duck          FG cheese

Christopher’s order of duck, and Shelly’s cheese and meats platter. Tasty and Pretty!

FG tea
courtesy Alana Damron

Did I also mention they have an amazing Tea Shoppe where you can sit on plush fancy couches and sip tea’s from all over the world. The decor in the wine bar and tea shoppe are incredible, vintage and antique pieces hand picked by the owners mixed with industrial and modern chic. Such a ritzy place for Wallace Idaho. And it’s a spectacular place to go out for a date or a meal with friends not too far from home.

Fun & Free-ish Fall Frolics

fall metal

Honestly, I struggle to go on dates that are cheap or free. Which is ironic considering I’m very frugal in all other areas of my life. It’s not for a lack of finding frugal dates, I just usually lean towards more expensive outings because of my passion for trying new things. Adrenaline filled dates are great but can be overboard for many and can put a dent in the dating fund. But so can fancy restaurants and meals out. So here are a couple events and ideas that shouldn’t cost too much but should still be novel and a treat for you and your spouse.

Fourth Annual  Canine Fun Days & Camp-out

(For couples with fur-babies)

October 10 & 11, at West Side Bypass Trail, north of Seeley Lake the Montana Mountain Mushers will be hosting their 4th Annual Canine Fun Days and Camp-out. The event is free and welcomes new comers to experience and learn about dog sledding, skijoring and dry-land mushing. No experience is necessary, you can bring your own dogs to try it out or simply come and watch the fun. 
Go to MMM’s website here¬†to find out more info.¬†

Tamarack Time

In Bigfork on Electric Avenue goes from 12:00 – 5:00pm on Saturday and will provide an afternoon of old fashioned harvest celebrations. Food tastings, harvest decor and entertainment will be in store. Local businesses will have specials offered all day to merchants. Also they will have Birds of Prey on display. Free brats for customer appreciation at the Garden Bar make for a well rounded date.

old house

Fresh Air Hikes

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year to get out on the trails and explore the woods. The crisp air feels great on your lungs, and the colorful foliage makes for a enchanting backdrop. Over in Idaho I recommend hitting the Pulaski Tunnel Trail outside of Wallace. This was a moderate hike, a couple of miles in and out. We did it in the snow. On the MT side try out the Cascade Falls trail up 135. This trail is good for beginners and offers a magnificent view to those who reach the top. ¬†There are numerous resources to find local hiking trails whether online or your local Forest Service Office. Buy a local FS map of your area and you’ll discover more back roads and trails than you know what to do with.


¬†Attend a local high school football game. Go on picnic and play in the leaves. Grab a latte and go for a stroll hand in hand. Drive you truck up in the woods and sit on the tailgate with some blankets and a couple pints of ice cream, find a pretty view. Have a campfire and make s’mores, snuggle and watch the stars. Explore nearby towns, Wallace has wonderful shops and antique stores, Plains has a great thrift store. Go to the local library look at books on travel, dream up your next vacation. Stay home and make a fall themed meal, anything with apples or squash or pumpkin.

There’s the rundown, now pick one and pick your spouse this weekend!

Date Roundup for October 2-3, 2015

The MBIA Parade of Homes Fine Food and Homes Tour will begin busing participants around the city at 5:00 pm Friday night. Sit back and relax as you let someone else do the driving all while viewing breathtaking homes of the Missoula valley you’ll also take in savory appetizers and beverages from local vendors. This date is on the most expensive of the weekend at $50 a person. But I’ll assure you it will be a unique and memorable night out. For ticket information check MBIA.


First Friday Free Fencing at the Missoula Fencing Association is an awesome chance to try something new with your spouse. And it’s Free! Key word here. The Foray into Fencing lasts from 6:30 – 7:30 pm and is for anyone 9 and older. That means adults too. When Christopher and I went on this excursion we were the only adults there, other than one young swordsman. Actually they aren’t really swords. You’ll learn all about the fencing lingo, hilarious gear you wear, your weapons, how to stand and move properly, and the basic techniques of fighting. It was entertaining to say the least, and a surprisingly good leg workout. While fencing your spouse you can let go of built up frustrations from the week, just no cheap shots, there are rules you know. I highly recommend this date to a couple needing a pick me up, exercise in any form together is beneficial and bonding. Arrive early to ensure that you get one a spot. So grab your husband and go poke him with an Epee. (You’ll find out what that is if you go).

Evan and Scarlet-Billings-lg

Living Country: MT Lifestyle Expo¬†is being held Friday and Saturday at the Missoula Fairgrounds. This is also a FREE event featuring a variety of exhibits and presentations of all things Montana. From hunting, fishing, biking, and skiing all who live here love to find any excuse to be outdoors and enjoy our state. This event will have scheduled demonstrations throughout the day including archery, avalanche awareness, healthy cooking, RV walk through’s. Take an hour or so to go day dream, learn a new hobby that you can picture taking up as a couple.


The 36th Annual McIntosh Apple Day in Hamilton is on Saturday in the Bitterroot. Quoted to be the Biggest Bake Sale under the Big Sky. We attended this event last year and it was a relaxing and fun way to spend the afternoon. There is live music on the courthouse lawn, hundreds of different vendors selling everything from homemade knives, honey, and lotions. There are several booths selling farmers market goods and produce. The best part of the event is all the apple delicacies, we shared a “caramel apple” but this wasn’t on a stick instead it was sliced up and plunged into a warm buttery bowel of caramel. Best caramel apple I’ve ever had! There are numerous types of food vendors to grab a bite for lunch and not just dessert ūüôā Once you’re done with the vendors make sure to go an mosey on through downtown Hamilton they have many unique stores. Other than the cost of a food and a caramel apple, this is a very inexpensive date.

Courtesy of Ravalli County Museum

Apple Moon: Fall Gathering and Fundraiser at the Moon Randolph Homestead just outside of Missoula is my last stop for the day on Saturday. This event features live music, cider pressing in their historic orchard, tours of the homestead, food and beverages are also included with cost of admission. When you arrive at the homestead you instantly feel like you’ve been transported back in time, sitting amongst the century old buildings sipping freshly pressed cider around the fire, doesn’t that just describe Autumn?! The last time we attended they had an array of super delicious soups from restaurants all over Missoula, all of which had a Fall theme, butternut squash, chili’s, chicken and rice soup. The gathering will go from 3-10pm. I would recommend getting there by at least dinner time so you can experience all the activities.

Courtesy of