Introducing: Christmas On A Budget!

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With Christmas one month away as of today, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce my new series, Christmas On A Budget! I adore Christmas and, like most people, I love to give gifts! However, I live on a pretty tight budget. We are a one income household, and every year it seems like our Christmas to-buy-for list grows. I wanted to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for how to survive Christmas on a budget. For every Monday before Christmas in December there will be a new part in the series, featuring some of my favorite ways to save money and still give gifts for the holidays!

December 1st: Handmade Items
December 8th: Food
December 15th: From Kids, and For Kids
December 22nd: Stocking Stuffers

I hope you’ll tag along for each post! It’s been so much fun to plan, and hopefully you’ll find something helpful!


Below are some of the basic things I do each year to ensure this season doesn’t become overwhelming on the bank account.

1. Make A List
You know how I live off lists, right? Well, the Christmas season is no different. Often what can be so overwhelming (and killer on a budget) is the fact that the possibilities seem endless for items to buy. I always start by making a list of everyone I need a gift for, and then listing a few items I know they’d like. It’s kickoff point, and can help narrow down things for each person.

2. Stick To A Budget
I know this sounds like a DUH but I feel like it is one of those things that gets out of hand quickly. I am completely guilty of it. I’ll say to myself, Okay, no more than x amount for this person, spend it, and then a week later find something I just HAVE to get for them and spend more. Don’t do that! If you pick a number, STICK TO IT.

3. Make A Gift or Money Limit With Friends/Significant Others
This can really ease some stress if you worry about not being ‘even’ in your gift giving, which I think can be a legitimate concern! So whether it’s your mom, your BFF, your partner, or all of the above, agree to a no-more-than X number of gifts/$$ for each other and some shopping stress has been lifted.

4. Limit Gifts To Your Own Kids
This one is situational and a bit age dependent, but it can save so much money so do it if you can! In my case, my child recieves a TON of gifts from friends and family members. So as much as I want to buy her a massive amount of fun new things, I force myself to stop at a few, with a big special one from ‘Santa’. She will still get plenty, and my wallet is a lot happier. I say if you can get away with doing that too, go right ahead.

5. Shop Early
If I’m out and about in July and I see an item I know a friend will love, you better believe I’m buying it and stashing it away for later. I have a designated hiding spot for presents and I always put them there, that way it’s out of MY sight and I’m not tempted to give it to them early. Then come November, check your stash and see how much you DON’T have to buy! Seeing how it’s nearly December I realize this tip isn’t that helpful, but maybe tuck it away for next year?! A tweak to this could also be make it a goal to finish ALL your Christmas shopping by the end of November (I do this EVERY year). That way come December you have nothing to do but enjoy the season, and maybe snag a few last minute things if need be!

6. Comparison Shop
Another DUH, but one I forget about more than I’d like to. Often I buy something on impulse, than see it later on Amazon or a different store for cheaper. Now when I do my holiday shopping, I check everywhere I can think of online and then figure out what gets me the best deal. I do a lot less in-store shopping, but when I do I also try and coordinate it around sales.


These tips have worked well for me in the past few years! I feel a lot less stressed about the holiday season knowing I don’t have to worry so much about my budget, and that is a great feeling.

What are some of your holiday money saving tips?

Local Love

Despite being currently buried under a foot of fresh snow, we actually managed to venture out of the house this past weekend and Monday for some fun! We ventured out of our little town to explore our neighboring town of Meredith, New Hampshire.

The weekend provided some grownup fun. On Saturday we headed to the local comic book shop to play some Ascension. Ascension is an awesome deck-building board game where you buy new cards and fight monsters to accumulate honor. The person with the most honor at the end wins! If you’ve ever played Dominion, it plays very similarly; almost a more simplified version, but I find Ascension more fun.

*Image via Acension’s website*

Before we headed out, we decided to snag a present for our little miss – a new My Little Pony comic! She received one for her birthday, loves it, and has been asking for the next one. It’s never to early to start a comic book collection, and she’s kicking it off at the ripe age of three!

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After we finished up there, we decided to hit up some of the local shops in Meredith, which I had never really explored. We ended up coming across a locally owned bookstore, which just about made my day. I had no idea a bookstore was tucked away so close to me! I’m up to my ears in books to read right now, so I didn’t purchase any. Instead I opted for a new journal, since my new one is pretty tiny and will fill up fast.

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Isn’t it gorgeous?! Hand stamped leather, hand bound pages – I’m so in love with it. Can’t wait to start filling the pages!

Monday was filled with an adventure to the Meredith Children’s Museum. We met up with an old friend from middle school days (Sarah Chase of Chase Photography – check out her blog too!) and her husband and son. It was great! The museum was actually much more than I was expecting – huge open layout rooms with plenty for the kids to do. We never even fully explored the lower floor since there was so much to do! If you’re local with kids, I definitely recommend checking it out.


She was so excited for a playground inside!
Completely fascinated by. . .
. . .all the billiard balls rolling around these tracks! She loved this room.

And now, we are reburied under mountains of snow, so it’s a good thing we got in our trips when we could! I really wouldn’t mind the snow if it were warm enough (by which I mean at least 30!) to play outside. But it’s only been in the teens, and add wind to that – no thank you. We’ll stay inside with our arts and crafts instead! Here’s hoping we see warmer weather soon!


Christmas Wrap-up & Handmade Gifts

Did you know there is a difference between handmade and homemade? I learned a couple years back that handmade refers to items or things while homemade refers specifically to foods. Fun fact of the day!

I hope everyone’s holiday was excellent – ours was as usual. Busy, but wonderful. I love to have a couple days completely filled with family, friends, and food!

Every year, I always try and make presents for people. I grew up hand making presents for people as long as I can remember. My mum and grandparents still have paper ornaments I made when I was three. I still remember making cinnamon dough ornaments with my mum to give as gifts. It’s something that has always been extremely important to me, and therefore it’s something I want to pass along to my daughter. Since she was a year old she has been making presents for people and I hope she grows up enjoying it!

For her gifts this year, we did a combination of photo gifts, and ornaments. My family loves photos, so these are always a winner.



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These were incredibly simple to make. We sat down with watercolors and salt to make the backgrounds. Then she looked through photos of her and Daddy and picked her favorite, and of her and Mimi and picked her favorite. For Mimi’s gift I did a little ‘interview’ with her about her Mimi (what Mimi likes to do, her favorite thing to do at Mimi’s house, etc) and wrote it up under the photo. Then I snagged two shadowbox frames from Target, assembled them together, and voila! Perfect gifts from a toddler.


For the ornaments I made a cinnamon dough, and we rolled and cut out shapes together with cookie cutters. Then I used got out some ABC stamps and she helped me stamp the letters on. Once they were all dry (a few days later), she painted them (I did the letter outline in white of course). The little ones were strung up as garland for our living room, and the big ones will be gifts. As you can see, I didn’t turn the snowman quite enough as he was drying so he got a bit curled. Adds character right? Right.


As for my handmade gifts, I did some drawings and paintings for friends.

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And also some Doctor Who bookmarks! I definitely made one for myself as well – who wouldn’t crack up seeing that face sticking out of your book?! On the backs of each bookmark are the words ‘Property of (insert recipients name) written out in Gallifreyan (aka the Doctor’s language for those non-Whovians out there). I found this awesome Gallifreyan translator on DeviantArt; it’s pretty fabulous.


And being somewhat of a crazy cat lady, I made a couple new toys for our two kitties. Again, very simple. I cut out two pieces of felt and sewed a button and a bit of detailing on, then stitched around the edge, stuffed ’em full of catnip and sewed the rest shut! Pardon the wobbly stitching – I don’t hand stitch things often. One of my kitties could care less about them, but our other one is OBSESSED with them! He wrestles, chews, throws, and generally tries to destroy them to get at the catnip. It’s hilarious.



As for my homemade gifts (aka yummy treats) tune in for my Holiday December Baking post on Monday!

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Making Jack

Back in December of 2012 I introduced my daughter to The Nightmare Before Christmas. She was not quite two then and while I was worried it might be a little scary for her, I thought she would love all the music and singing. I was right. She became obsessed with it. She would ask for ‘Jack’s movie’ multiple times a day (and then had many hissy fits when I did not let her watch it all day on an endless loop as she would have liked to). But we did watch it at least once a day for about three months.

So in January of 2012, since she loved it so much, I decided I would make her a Jack Skellington to play with as he was her favorite character. I wanted it to be kind of like a stuffy, but also have movable arms and legs. So I set to work.

I made this little Jack Skellington back when I still considering having a blog so luckily I took pictures along the way. However,  I was not thinking about this from a tutorial aspect, and I also had never made any type of stuffy/plushie/action figure type thing before. Ever. I was entirely winging it. I used no directions, and completely made it up as I went. So I apologize if anything I did was unclear, and if you feel like making a Jack, please feel free to adapt this and make it easier on yourself! But, here’s my little Jack project.

First off, I gathered supplies.


  • Reference of Jack
  • Black and white felt
  • Cotton batting
  • Various pipe cleaners
  • Small pieces of balsa wood
  • Hot glue gun
  • Fabric scissors
  • Black and white thread, plus a sewing needle
  • Black Sharpie
  • Fine tip paint brush and white acrylic paint (fabric paint would work as well I assume – acrylic was what I had on hand)
  • Tea (no project is complete without tea!)


I started off making a white felt ball. I did this by cutting pointed oval shapes and hand sewing them together, then filling with cotton batting to form a sphere. If you have an easier way to make a felt ball, definitely use it! Make sure you leave a hole in the bottom of the sphere to insert the neck. His eyes are just small pieces of cut black felt I hot glued on, and I drew on his nostrils and grin with the black Sharpie.

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For his neck I cut a small piece of balsa wood I had, then wrapped and hot glued it in a scrap of white felt. I wanted the wood to give it stability to hold his head up so he didn’t end up with a flopping head.


Then I inserted the stick into the hold in the bottom of his head, and sealed it shut with hot glue.


Next I made his torso. The finished torso (above) is only picture I took, but it’s not too complicated to explain. Basically I cut out two torso shaped pieces of white felt and hand sewed them together, making sure to leave a neck hole open and two arm holes open. I shoved in some cotton batting through the neck hole – Jack is skinny, but he still needs SOME shape. I didn’t worry about the stitches being visible since nearly the whole torso will be covered by the pants and clothes meaning the outside stitch won’t be at all visible. Once finished, set it aside as you won’t need the torso again for awhile. Next up I worked on the collar pieces of his suit.


I grabbed a second reference picture to use for his collar detail since in my first pic it isn’t too clear. First I cut out the shapes. Then I hand painted on the bat’s eyes,


and added the striping detail to the collar pieces using the white acrylic paint.


Next I started the pants. First I twisted two pipe cleaners together (they are much less flimsy that way and hold a better bent shape) that will serve as Jack’s legs. I made a paper template to cut out two halves of the pants.


Then I stitched them together (obviously leaving the top and ankle holes open) and flipped it inside out so the stitches don’t show and you just have a regular seam. Flipping the pants in on themselves was incredibly frustrating and time consuming. It was such a small area to work with but eventually I found a method that worked. I used a small wooden dowel and shoved some of the material in, then used tweezers to pull it through the other side. It still took some serious time, but it got the job done!


Then it came time for the pin striping. I used white acrylic paint because it’s just what I had, and hand painted on the stripes. This actually went much quicker than expected. Because of the felt, you do get some felt wisps of fabric that get stuck in the paint; I just trimmed them off with cuticle scissors once the paint was dry.


Then I threaded the pipe cleaner legs through the pants, and glued the pants and tops of pipe cleaners to the torso. Also as you can see at this point I have glued Jack’s head and neck to the torso too.


Next I started the coat. I made two sleeves with black felt (using the same process as the pants and if you thought the pants were frustrating to turn inside out, just wait until you get to the even skinnier arms) and twisted two pipe cleaners together again to make arms. Then I made a paper coat pattern (using the oh-so professional method of visualizing how the coat would look open and sketching it out in pencil!). To make sure it would fit the Jack body I’d made, I fitted the paper template to his already made torso. Note – the bottom of Jack’s coat doesn’t end in regular coattails! I just made this to cut out the top shape and did the bottom coattails by eyeballing it.


Here are the two arms and the overcoat all cut out with the proper coattails.

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Then I cut two holes in the coat and sewed on each sleeve. The first picture is the view from the back, the second is the front view with the coat open.


For the next step (before pin striping) I wrapped the coat around Jack to see where to hot glue down his collar/jacket folds. Once those were glued, I pinstriped the coat. It’s not attached to Jack in this picture; this was just the best way to display the pin stripes.


Next I threaded his pipe cleaner arms through the sleeves, glued the arms into their torso holes, and glued his coat shut and used a teeny piece of white felt to make that middle button. I ended up painting the white felt with the white acrylic so it stood out more.

This would be the point where you would make hands. . .and I realized I don’t have any pictures of me making those. Ugh. But all you do is draw a very basic hand shape with pointy fingers on a paper template and cut out four of the templates on white felt. Then take two of them and glue them together so you have two hands (I used two layers of felt so they’d be less floppy). I made my hands with four fingers and a thumb and realized only after that Jack only has three fingers and a thumb. Whoops. Then draw on the knuckle bones with a sharpie (see the finished pictures below for a view of the hands).


Before I start the feet if you look at the top of the pic, you can see the felt hands I cut out! That’s the only picture I have with the hands!
Now onto the feet. I completely made up jacks feet. In all the reference pictures I look at you see that he has some form of pointy black boots. So I made some pointy black boots! I cut out two triangle pieces and folded the farthest corners together to make the shape you see in my hands. If you look in the below picture you see that the two corners aren’t glued together, they are open (look at the boot laying on the table). Make sure you leave those corners open (aka dab a TINY drop of hot glue in the middle of the boot area, not at the top corners)! You’ll need them when you glue the shoes to his legs.


Then I hot glued two tiny pieces of balsa wood into the base of the boot (to hold the shape). After that I cut out two more pointy oval shapes (you can see one in the right of the pic) to glue on to the front of the boot, essentially ‘closing’ the boot. Now it’s time to attach the boots to Jack’s pipe cleaner ankles, which is why you need the top part of the boot open. Insert the pipe cleaner in that open part and glue the sides shut – this hides the funny looking top part of the boot under the pants, and gives the boot more stability with the ankle inside. Lastly, glue on his collar pieces and you’re done!

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And there you have it! Your own Jack Skellington. Hilariously enough my daughter was terrified of him. She did not like the fact that a TV character was IN her real life, and she refused to touch him. I actually had so much fun making him though that I still consider it totally worth the effort! He now has a permanent home on our geeky/nerdy collectibles shelf, as you can see here in this post.

Questions, comments, concerns? I’d love to hear any and all!

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Home Redo: Part 1

Despite me being rather creative and art inclined, I am an absolute disaster when it comes to interior design/home decoration. I think my main problem is that I like many different things from many different styles of decor, and end up with a mish-mashed wreck of design, as opposed to a nice cohesive look. I can never narrow down just one theme; I always want to mix and match. And while some people can flawlessly get away with that, I am most certainly NOT one of those people. So as usual, to get started, I’ve made lists. And there will certainly be more.


Our long term project is the living room. The color it’s painted was absolutely not my choice (a dark burgundy/maroon; it came with the apartment) and while I do like it because it’s unique and a nice color, it’s too much for the whole room and I want a change. It has been five years of this color and I’m done! As for furniture, nothing in our living room matches. When we first moved in together we were both quite tight on money so furnishing became way more about budget than looks. We have almost every kind of wood finish you can imagine from white pines to cherry to cedar. Needless to say, it needs some serious cohesion. So I’m REALLY going to try and stick to a nice simplistic color scheme, and we’ll go from there. This year, we’re really only focusing on the painting. We’re saving purchasing furniture and whatnot ’til after the holidays, mainly to accommodate our (rather modest) budget.

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Some photo shelves, with the aforementioned burgundy/maroon paint I can no longer stand.

As for decor, I bounced back and forth for awhile on whether I wanted the sole focus to be family, or incorporate other things as well. My hubs and I are rather geeky – we both enjoy a lot of video games, TV shows, and board games that are generally considered a bit geekish, but it’s a big part of who we are and one of the big things we share together. Both of us enjoy collecting things having to do with our fandoms, and we’ve amassed a decent amount of items I like having on display. Since the living room is where both the TV, computer, and our game systems are it’s also an appropriate place for them. So after discussing it with the Mr. we both decided we want to keep that stuff in the living room, along with the family oriented things (photos, etc.). Now the big question. . .can I find a balance successfully??? Let’s hope so. . .

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Some of our nerdy collectibles. Note the shelves do not match the shelves in the previous picture. . .like I said think all the woods in our living room are different colors!

This years big project will be our daughter’s room. She will be three in December, and her room hasn’t been updated since she was born! It’s definitely time to turn her nursery into a ‘big girl’ room. We’re getting her a twin bed and ditching the crib. She’s been using it as a toddler bed (aka no sides) since she was about 20 months old, but it’s time for a real big girl bed now! Her walls are going to be white (already bought the paint even). For me and my lack of decorating skills, I find it easier to have neutral walls to decorate around. Plus as she starts getting her own tastes, we won’t have to repaint the room when she’s ready to pick out her own decor. Her current room is pictured below.

Toddler converted crib. She sleeps on the big teddy – got him for Christmas and she absolutely loves him! She has named him ‘Big Bear’ and has to sleep on him.

Play area – dolls, toys, blocks, etc

And her reading area.

I’ve ordered her an awesome custom quilt from D. Rix Creations – I can not WAIT to get it in a couple months! I always wanted my child to grow up with a special blanket that was made just for them, and Danielle does absolutely beautiful work. Plus, it’s supporting an indie biz which, as you know, I love to do! A lot of her wall decor is going to come from indie shops too.

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Fabric for her new quilt – I just love it!

I’ll also be painting/making some decor for her too. I think we’re sticking with lavender as the main accent color of the room. Basically I’m basing it all around the quilt colors. So I’d like to make her some wall art that brings those colors out. The plan is to have the walls done in advance, but everything else will be a surprise. The night before her third birthday party she’s going to have a sleep over at Mimi’s house, and when she gets home she’ll have a whole new room! There will certainly be more posts about the room makeovers as I keep going. . .expect lots of ranting and raving about disasters I will undoubtedly run into!

Any advice for redoing rooms, especially for a beginner with terrible design skills?? I’d take any and all.

Until next time,
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This Week We. . .

  • Had a sleepover with my best friend, and her daughter (who is my daughter’s best friend – we are a double trouble team!). We took the kids to Beans & Greens which is an awesome local farm/store that has lots for little ones to do – for free! We had so much fun feeding the goats, cow, and pig. The chickens weren’t out the day we went, but they often have them. In the fall there is a hay maze, and other fun things! Their store is great too – tons of fresh vegetables, and lots of yummy baked goods as well. It’s a great place.



Mini best buds!

Awesome teepee made out of leafy vines!

  • From there we went to Imagination Station, a wooden playground that is just FABULOUS. There is so much for little kids to explore there – all kinds of wood tunnels, bridges to climb, tires to play in, and of course the standard playground fare of swings, slides, and see-saws (or as my best friend’s adorable daughter calls them ‘Up-Downs’).


Isn’t it amazing! I just love this place.


  • As you can see at the top of this post, I finally got a dang bee photo! I’ve been wanting a bee-on-a-flower photo all summer, and the opportunity finally presented itself. Yay for me!
  • I finished up a commission but I can’t post it yet! It’s being delivered this weekend so I’ll post about it next week – don’t want to ruin the surprise!
  • I ordered and received my Indie Purchase Of The Month to fulfill my 1AM Promise. I got a SPECTACULAR print (see below) from Papyrusaurus. I love me some tenth Doctor! Got some gifts from there too. . .which again I can’t post in case of surprise ruining. Just a side note about the store – I was really impressed by their customer service! I had a question about a print which they responded to very quickly, and when it came time to ship them, she emailed me double checking my address as it seemed wrong – somehow the address was set up to ship to a Wal-Mart somewhere instead my home address! What?! Point being, she had the courtesy to check and fix it which I really appreciated!!

I mean seriously, does it get any better?

And although I know it’s supposed to be Fun Fact Friday, yet again I have nothing prepared. I swear Friday comes twice as fast as usual sometimes. . .so I think I’m gonna to say Fun Fact Friday’s will be an occasional thing instead of EVERY Friday. At least for now! Happy weekend everyone!

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Weekend Wrap-up

I think I’m still riding the life-high from this weekend. Me and my best friend had a total girls day on Saturday, just the two of us, no children or husbands, for the WHOLE DAY. It was so incredible. The entire day was jam packed with laughter and fun. Let’s dive in.

We got up bright and early and met up with my grandparents for some yard saling. Here are some of my favorite finds from the day:


Littlest Pet Shop house with some accessories: $3.00

My little miss is two and half and just loves dollhouses and the like. She is very into the stage of setting everything up, and having her toys talk to each other and walk/do things in their little house. I knew she’d love this, especially since it has little animals which she also loves. At $3.00, it was a steal. She played with it for forty minutes straight when I gave it to her, only stopping so her Daddy could give her a tubby! Money well spent.

Chalkboard: $2.00
I have been dying to find a chalkboard for my front hallway. Right now the wall is blank when you walk in, and I really wanted a chalkboard so I can spiff it up with some chalkboard art! Much nicer to see when you first come in then a blank white wall. I may paint the border, but haven’t yet decided. This is roughly 16″ x 20″ which is decent sized. I’d be fine with a larger one, but for two bucks I wasn’t going to pass it up.

Wall art sign: $5.00

I shelled out a lot for this (I consider $5 a lot when yard saling, don’t judge!) but I really like it. I’ve wanted something along these lines for awhile, but was never willing to pay the $35 – $40 I’ve seen them priced at in a store. And since we’re finally going to be redoing our living room, I figured this was a perfect time to snag it.

I also got a couple vampire YA novels (which are probably cheesy and riding on the coattails of Twilight’s success), but they were a quarter each so I went for it. I enjoy a good YA novel, and even if these are awful I can laugh it off instead of saying I CAN’T BELIEVE I PAID FIFTEEN BUCKS FOR THIS! Ah, the beauty of yard sales. I also got a new picture frame, and a mini cork board for my daughter’s big girl room redo (of which there will be probably be multiple posts). My best bud snagged some great deals too – a few Stephen King books for her SK collection at a quarter each, and her best find: Wizard of Oz Monopoly. This retails on Amazon for $100 (okay, technically it’s $99.99). She paid $5 for it, and the kicker is it is still in the plastic. As in definitely brand new, with no pieces missing. Loving it! She bought it simply because she collects Wizard of Oz things, but that’s an amazing deal!

From there we were planning on heading down to MA for a concert later that night. But first we got a call from her hubby. He tipped us off to a deal he’d read in the paper – a local car dealership was giving away free tickets to Whale’s Tail (a water park in case you weren’t aware) so we hightailed it over there and scored a pair of tickets for each of us. For free. Could our day get any better??

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Hello Boston, and hello Ikea!

Why, yes it could. We did head down to MA, and planned to spend the day at Ikea before the concert since it was only about fifteen minutes from the venue. Neither of us had ever been to an Ikea and can I just say Good. Gravy. It is seriously the Disneyland of home shopping. The parking lot itself looks like a theme park lot. Walking inside we didn’t even know where to begin! We kinda just took in all in for a minute, then dove into the upstairs showroom. Three hours later I found about 7,000 things I now want, but all in all only walked out with a couple purchases. Budgets are important after all.


I bought this chalkboard/whiteboard combo for my daughter for $15.00! The whiteboard is on the back, and on the bottom there is a dowel to put the large rolls of paper to come up over for drawing. Love it!

This board was for me, in the kitchen and also $15.00. I’ve wanted a chalkboard for awhile now (for the menu, grocery list, etc), and I love the mail slats in this. I had a piece of slate mounted on the wall (using it as a menu) but it ended up falling off and shattering into oblivion, whoops! So this is a great, and prettier, replacement!

I also got a couple new oversize throw pillows for the living room, some deliciously scented tealights and holders, and a big ole package of chalk for the boards! Success!

Bye bye Ikea. . .

From there we headed to the venue for the concert. Since we were super early, we decided to tailgate for a bit. Being the cool kids we are, we ended up busting out my daughter’s new chalkboard and playing hangman like loons for awhile. Then it just devolved into ridiculous chalk drawings and laughter. But that’s how we roll! Finally it was time to head in for the show.

We went to see Gavin Degraw, The Script, and the headliners – TRAIN!! Love me some Train, that’s for sure. I know of Gavin Degraw, but really only know a couple of his tunes. I love his voice, but his songs aren’t always my cup of tea. I’d heard of The Script since they play on one of my Pandora stations often, and they turned out to be AMAZING live. I also had no idea they were all Irish, straight from Dublin. Part of me would have been entirely okay if they just wanted to talk through their whole set so I could listen to their fabulous accents! The lead singer ended up coming up in the crowd for a song and was about three feet from us. Swoon!



And then finally, Train. They put on such an amazing show. Pat Monahan (lead singer) is so incredible with the fans. He started out taking peoples phones from the front row and snapping pics of himself with them, just ’cause he can. He always signs and throws a million t-shirts and beach balls at his shows. I think it’s great that they are still so connected to their fanbase, despite being around for decades. I think some big name bands just get a little jaded, but Train always impresses!



Their stage sets were incredible.

This was their Mermaids of Alcatraz tour, so they invited people to dress up like mermaids and then brought them onstage to dance and sing with him. In case you hadn’t already figured this out, it was a great show.

With all the mermaids on stage.



Sorry the photos are terrible quality. You can’t bring a DSLR camera into the venue, so I had my little Sony Bloggie which takes terrible pics. Good for video, but disaster for pics, especially with lots of movement and far-ish away. But it works in lieu of another option!

Sunday we went to a birthday party for one of my dearest friends. I’ll have another post about that one. That afternoon I went to see The Conjuring with some friends, which was amazing. Actually not as scary as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, it had tons of jump out your skin moments, but it didn’t have the lasting feeling of terror once the movie is over, which I was glad for! I love scary movies, but sometimes the fear just sticks with me and I don’t like not being able to sleep at night. Sinister was one of those. Maybe because it had to do with children but that movie freaked me the heck out. Anyway, we wrapped up the night with a board game (Ascension – I’ll have a post about it at some point) back at my place. I don’t think I could’ve fit more fun in this weekend if I tried!

What did you get up to this weekend?

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Yard Sales and Thrifted Things

Yard sailing. One of my favorite summer activities. Before I get into this post, I’d like to discuss the spelling of yard sailing. This word drives me banana sandwich. I’m a bit of a grammar stickler, and I realize that it probably should be spelled yard saling, but that looks incredibly broken to me. However as my mum pointed out, yard sailing would be riding around in your yard on a sailboat. Which actually sounds like quite a good time, so I will continue to use my wrong (but better looking) spelling. Moving on!

Some of my favorite memories with my grandparents are going yard sailing when I was little. Saturday morning would roll around, me and my mum would pack into my grandparents car with them at the crack of dawn, and we’d truck around different towns hitting up sales.
Now, my Grampa is not your average yard saler (Oh geez, now do I go with saler or sailor??? My grammar OCD is freaking out right now, BAH!) He is what I call a professional yard sailor (saler???). By which I mean on Friday, he gets every newspaper from the surrounding towns, and marks down every yard sale. Then, he organizes that list by what time the yard sales start, and where they are so we can maximize our time by going to them in driving order. Yeah, he’s pro.

As an adult, I still love to yard sale. I still get up to go with my grandparents on Saturday mornings. More often than not, I come home with nothing. But occasionally you’ll find that one perfect thing! Lately, my things have centered around my daughter. I love getting toys at yard sales. She outgrow toys and games so fast that I just find it wasteful to constantly buy her brand new toys all the time. And I’ve never met a little kid who cared whether or not a toy was ‘new’ or not, as long as it’s new to them. Here are some of the sweet finds I’ve found (this year and last) for my little miss.

Storage bin: $4

Second storage system: $2
This was originally marked at $4 but it was missing bins, and I asked her to halve the price, which she happily did! We utilized the missing bins space by taking out the dowels and storing things underneath. FYI, the fullsize version of this storage system retails for $60 on Toys R Us’ website.

Play kitchen (teapot not included, that’s ours): $4
I about died when I saw this fully clean, no pieces missing play kitchen for four bucks! Me and my Gramps had to completely rearrange the back of his SUV for it to fit, and it was totally worth it. My little miss loves it – she loves to make me ‘tea’ on the stove. . .and strangely cooks ALL food in the microwave. Which is odd, because we rarely use our microwave. But the point it she loves it, so it was $4 well spent!

This lovely little rocking chair was $5. My little girl loves to sit in it to read!
However, it did NOT come with all the colored pencil stains you now see – that was my little miss getting a little over zealous in her coloring! But for five bucks, WHO CARES?? 🙂 To me that is also the beauty of yard sales – if it gets wrecked (which often kid things do) you didn’t spend/waste a ton of money. If I were really ambitious I’d sand, stain, and seal it. . .but for now, I’m not. And lastly,

A talking number puzzle: $1

The main things I look for myself are usually craft related. Antique books to use in projects, picture frames to repaint, oh and canvases! That sounds like a weird one, but you can get paintings on canvas at yard sales for anywhere from 25 cents to 2 – 3 dollars. I bring them home, sand them down some, and re-coat them with opaque white gesso – instant new canvas ready to go! Since new canvases cost anywhere from $10 (for small size) and up as you get bigger, I’m happy to save some money that way. I’m sure the quality isn’t as good as a brand spankin’ new canvas, but it works perfectly for my personal use.

Two upcycled canvases, decent size. Left is 14.5″x21″, the right is 16″x20″.
These canvases were FREE. As in sitting in a FREE PILE. I may have done a happy dance in the sellers yard. . .they were half finished paintings which I’m assuming that the owners thought no one would ever want, hence the free pile. Clearly they weren’t thinking of the thrifty/artist/up-cycling crowd.

Antique books (from the 1920s, 40s, and one from the 50s): 50 cents for all four!

The two books on top did originally have covers – I tore them off to use in a photo book project I made for my mom and grandmother this year. I’ve also used some pages from the two larger one to make paper roses for my mom – keep an eye out for a post on that in the future!

SWEET retro camp set: $2
My mum is the one who found this set and snagged it for me. She knew I wanted my own camp set instead of just putting bits and bobs together to use for cooking. Isn’t it marvelous?! There is a set of four plates there, since you can’t really see the full stack. And that teapot – I just love it.

Retro camp cups
My mum also got these for me – I forgot to ask her the price, but I know my mum and she would not have paid more than a quarter for each. They are perfect for me and my husband – he likes a giant cup of cocoa, and I like a nice little cup of tea!

This yard sailing year has been pretty slow for me in terms of going to sales. I broke my ankle (I broke it leaving to go yard sailing actually – oh irony) at the end of May, so there went five weeks of yard sailing out the window! But I’m excited to start going again for the rest of the summer – I’m sure I’ll post more fun finds!

Do any of you yard sale or thrift? What kind of stuff do you look for?

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Busy Busy Busy

The above photo was the sunset on July 5. Being so mad busy this month make it even more important to me to stop and notice the little things.

This month is so jam packed sometimes I don’t even know where to start! Between working on portrait commissions, planning for birthday parties and camping trips, and a few other plans we already have there isn’t a single weekend free this month! So my blog posts may be a bit spread out compared to the last couple weeks.

This past weekend was filled with art, board games, good friends, and all around great times. I’ve got some projects in store this week to do with my little miss, so there will definitely be posts about that at some point.


I hope everyone’s Independence Day went well. I happily paid the insane price of $4.00 for my yearly piece of fried dough. . .it’s just sooooo delicious!! And I can justify the splurge since it is only once a year. . .yummo.
Chowing down on some fried dough!

Our town does a big celebration at our rec center field – there are booths, a raffle, live music with dancing – it’s really a great time! My little miss loved dancing with Daddy, and her Mimi (my mom) came up to enjoy the evening with us too. Which of course ended in fireworks!
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Dancing it up with Daddy!

What’s everyone up to this week? Exciting plans for the summer?

Launch Day!

I’ve finally made my first foray into the blogging world! And I’m pretty darn excited about it. Seeing’s how this is my first post on my brand spankin’ new blog I figured I’d give you a little taste of things to come. To get to know me personally a bit better, feel free to venture to the About Me section and take a look around!

I love art. Expect to see lots of artwork posted. Some will be my own – currently I’ve been hard at work on some commissioned pencil portraits. But in my free time I also enjoy oil painting. I love to browse other artist’s work too – I’m constantly printing out little images to tack onto the wall above my art desk. That’s why I’ve made my Pure Inspiration page. It’s nothing but art that I find inspiring in some way. Take a look, and get inspired!

sarah&braylon      Drogo

Two of my drawings. One of my friend and her son, and Drogo from Game of Thrones. Both graphite pencil.

Definitely don’t miss the Shop ‘Til You Drop page. It’s filled with amazing indie shops. One of my personal goals this year is to buy as many gifts (including gifts for myself!) as I can from indie vendors. There are SO many things to choose from, and who doesn’t love a unique, often customizable gift? As someone who is just venturing into an indie business I can really appreciate the importance of helping out other small businesses.

As for my post content, that’s going to cover a lot. Stories from my life, crafts I make, projects with my little miss, art I make, products I’ve bought and love. . .the list goes on! After I get the wheels greased and things are running smoothly for me, I will eventually be including a Monthly Feature page. This could be an artist, a shop, a blog, a product and have a page up and promoting it for a month. A great way to get the word out about things I find spectacular. Oh, and get used to this little face.


You’ll be seeing lots of her around here. I tend to be a photoholic when it comes to my daughter. What can I say, she just inspires me!

So thanks for stopping by my blog – stay tuned for some features of things that I love, some serious art inspiration, and I may just need to start up a Fun Fact Friday. Because who doesn’t love useless trivia? I’d be happy to hear any feedback on my blog, or any advice – I’m still learning about the blogging world! Thanks for reading!


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