Hi, I’m Jennifer – I’m a mom of a busy three year old, co-owner of a custom furniture business; Michael Fleming Designs Adrift, www.designsadrift.com, a gardener, and lover of all things beautiful, practical and well made. I live on 20 acres in rural Maine and for the past two years have been creating an unusual life for my family and our business on less than 25K per year – amazing I know…‘little miss thrift’ to say the least…

We had always been a two income household – then our son was born…before becoming a mom, I waited tables at a fabulous restaurant which afforded me the daytime hours to start, launch and build our business…Now my days are filled with keeping up with my son,   the household, my garden and my nights are filled with being an entrepreneur…which leaves little time for a ‘job’. We’ve simply decided to live a bit differently for awhile…

Now, I need to clarify, we do not intend to stay in this income bracket – nor did we plan on being in this income bracket. We arrived here as a result of choices we have made…I am sharing all of this because a lot of people are interested in how I do it – they want to know how to live well on less. Granted, the word well is subjective, I am here to simply share what is important to me – take from it as you wish …

I admit, we are extreme.  Not everyone wants to ‘do without’ as we have chosen, nor could everyone choose as we have – though my question to you is, have we chosen to live ‘without’ or simply differently?

Four years ago we decided to stay in Maine year round and start our business.  Prior to that we had been living between Maine and the Caribbean. Prior to that we had been traveling the globe – living mostly in our tent and hostels with our belongings on our backs…ahhh, the good life…We launched Designs Adrift just as the economy spiraled downward and then became parents, practically simultaneously.  Two challenging things to do in any economy, much less an uncertain one…add to it our location and most people think we are absolutely nuts or brilliant. I’d like to think the later…

We wanted to raise our son ourselves and keep our business moving forward – two things which either require a lot of capital or a lot of creativity, resourcefulness and patience – what we lacked in capital we’ve made up for with ingenuity and skill.

I have always been creative with my finances and stuff. Looking at things differently has allowed me to travel the world, attend and graduate from a highly respected teaching college, start and run a business as well as decorate my home beautifully and simply – as seen in the NYTimes article below;


My life experiences thus far have made me a person who chooses to see beauty in everything… Hence, the reason behind this blog. I want to share my experiences and opinions about all things beautiful; from how to maximize your spending, to utilizing what it is you already have, to having fun finding free stuff…and everything in between…beauty is everywhere and in everything – it’s all just a matter of perspective.

Isn’t everything?

Thank you for reading this and I hope to inspire you to think differently…

Lots of love,


19 thoughts on “about

  1. I’d have to say you are both brilliant and courageous for living your life with YOUR priorities first, not someone elses. Finding and recognizing the beauty in things makes for more beauty! I encourage you to keep following your dreams and desires, as you may be surprised just how ripe and red your lwill become. Can’t wait to read more.

  2. What an inspiration! 25k . . . I’m impressed. My hubby and I also went from two incomes to one when I became pregnant with our son. We thought the drastic drop in income would be hard to manage, if not impossible . . . But like you we discovered there’s a difference between going “without” and choosing to live your life differently, with different priorities and different values.

    You’re very courageous, and are teaching your son incredible lessons through your choices.

    Good luck and enjoy your adventure!

    • Thank you so much for your comment and support! Yes, it’s kind of crazy ‘making it’ on what looks like so little, yet while it certainly isn’t ‘easy’ it’s what needs to be done for the moment and it keeps us creative…all the best to you and your family and looking forward to your posts. all the best.

  3. what an inspiration – looking forward to reading more about how you are doing this!
    we have a lot in common (not the baby bit tho!) as we gave up very successful and well paid jobs in the UK to move to Portugal and live on one small ‘pension’ – and now I am a full time artist (doing ok!) and loving every minute of a down-sized simpler life! it can be done (and we’re on a lot less than 25k!)
    very best wishes for your continued happy future – and looking forward to reading more – thanks for finding my blog too!

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  10. Wonderful to read your story. We did the same things 15 years ago. I stopped working to be with our son. On our very minimal income the high cost of living in Seattle made things a little difficult. It took us 10 years to buy our first home! Although I am back into the workforce we still live a very minimal lifestyle. And beauty is very present in our home! Our son is such a grounded, stable young man and we are so glad we made the choices we did. So good to hear you too have the same values!

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave such a supportive and encouraging comment! It’s great to hear from other like minded individuals…
      The same will be true for us as well. This limited income will not be forever, nor will our sons first few years be forever, hence why we chose to live this way – same as you…it’s a lifestyle choice, a conscious choice, a choice to live within one’s means both before having a child and after – that makes all the difference…
      Thank you again for your encouraging and supportive words!

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