When we were in England last year, I came to love the quiet secluded spaces I found in certain parks and gardens. It occurred to me that if I were creative, I might be able to create such a spot on our property.

A few days ago, I took the time to pick up debris and pull out weeds in a 15-foot diameter area underneath some overgrown laurel and lilac in our front yard. It’s a perfect spot. Now I need to find a low-cost way to turn into a space where I want to spend time. Can anyone point me to good resources for building patios or outdoor seating areas? I’m willing to spend a little money to do this, but I’d like to be as frugal as possible. (Maybe it’s time to start scouring Craigslist for patio furniture.)

Meanwhile, here are some personal finance articles that I’ve found interesting recently:

SVB at The Digerati Life recently wrote about simple, affordable changes you can make to increase the value of your home. Though she’s writing about prepping a home for sale, these changes can also be used to make your home more livable for you. When Kris and I prepared our first house for sale, we were shocked by how much nicer it seemed from just a few small changes.

A writer at Divine Caroline shared a list of the 20 healthiest foods for under one dollar. No surprise — most of them are whole fruits, vegetables, and grains. Maybe next year I’ll track expenses while eating only high-quality foods for a month, and then track expenses while eating only processed foods for a month.

Finally, The Mighty Bargain Hunter wonders, “Will frugality ever be ready for prime time?” As part of an ongoing conversation with a couple of other personal finance bloggers, MBH notes that stories about people getting out of debt are inspirational and exciting, but nobody wants to hear about a person who simply makes smart choices day-after-day. It isn’t sexy. Yet that person who regularly makes the right choices deserves praise, too.

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