Why I loved this week

Untitled-1Never before has my focus been so clear. I’ve always been working on various projects, giving a little of myself to each one. But since I decided to simplify my life, there seem to be two key aspects that I am really focusing on right now (aside from my family…I’m always focusing on that) and they are: living the homemade life – cooking and baking from scratch and doing more DIY projects and crafts and, my creative business – honing in on what’s important and doing what I need to move forward.

So, it’s no surprise that what I loved this week involved just that, learning new homemakin’ skills and building your creative business. Now that I think more about it, they go hand in hand.

Photo from The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking

Photo from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking

The awesome ladies over at The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking are sharing their review of this book, and a funny experiment making kefir from scratch! They are also offering a giveaway for this book, which ends on Jan 28. I already signed up for the giveaway, and if you think this book sounds interesting – you should, too! I would love to learn how to make my own cider, beer and wine. Does that sound bad? I hope not.

Photo from Betty Red Designs

Photo from Betty Red Designs

I really enjoyed this post by Betty Red Designs. I have been guilty t of feeling a little down when I get super excited to see a new Facebook like or Twitter follow, then I visit a different page and they have thousands of people who follow their site. But, I’ve always just kept doing what I do. I’ve turned down advertising requests because I don’t believe in what they are saying. I change things up a lot in this blog because it’s mine, and I can. Nesha, who wrote the post on Betty Red Designs, does say to step away from the blogs and start creating more.

That is one thing I have a hard time with. I usually dedicate Saturdays to crafting and creating, since I have people who can hang with Cecilia while I work. I take about 5-10 breaks during a post when she wants held, she wants fed or she needs changed. Sometimes it takes me all day to write, because she will always come first. So, I often visit blogs during the week because it’s easier for me to step away from when she needs me. But, I do take a break from the computer on Saturdays and Sundays.

Nevertheless, I loved what she had to say and it made me feel really good about not having all the fans that other pages have. She wrote out some good goals, and I am definitely going to take those into account when I set up my creative business project next week.

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And…the best part of the week! It’s garden season at my house again! I actually did this Rosemary coffee can planter as a project for a local magazine, and I will be sharing the tutorial soon. For now, let’s all just bask in the beauty that is my rosemary plant. I’ve been waiting to get back in the garden for a long time and this is just the start of what is going to be a beautiful and challenging journey!

So, this got me thinking. I would love to start a book club! We can read books like Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, True Brews and creative business books, too! Then, we can post our review and share what we learned from the book and any projects we worked on and experiments we tried after reading the books. Who’s with me?

Why did you love this week? Share in the comments and on your social media channels! You can connect with me by clicking on any of the social media icons on my blog. Let’s be friends!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I love when I get a new book and it opens an entirely new world for me. Last year, I got the Handmade Marketplace book from my stepsister, and it introduced me to Kari Chapin and her handmade community, which also led me to Oh My Handmade! This year, I got Wonder Walls by Sarah Bagner from my boyfriend’s sister…and I fell in love with the book. This is my new favorite find!

Photo from Sarah Bagner

Photo from Sarah Bagner

I saw that she has a website called Super Market Sarah and immediately deemed it necessary to check out. The book features different collectors who have their items displayed on their walls, and the website is the same way. You can click on items that you like in the photos, and that will lead you to the store to purchase the item.

You can click Browse to view the 91 eclectic collections, and then you simply click on the item for its price and link to buy it. Some of my favorite collections are: Kirstie Mary Allsopp (who wrote the book Kirstie’s Homemade Home), Tuckshop (awesome jewelry designed by Lynn Allingham) and Bits of Bike (cyclist and designer Clare Pollen makes jewelry out of old bike parts)

Photo from Sarah Bagner

Photo from Sarah Bagner

While I have not had time to go through all of the collections, I can almost guarantee there will be more collections I will fall head over heels for. The best part is when you click on the name of the collection, it takes you to an info page which gives you a little more background on the artist and links to the artist’s website and/or shop. That’s awesome! What an amazing way to promote the artists.

You can join the Supermarket Sarah group on Facebook – like I just did – and you can follow her on Twitter! Her blog hasn’t been updated since August but she does update her Facebook and Twitter with shows she is doing and projects she’s working on. Pretty neat to see the behind-the-scenes action!

What is your favorite new find of the week? Post the link in the comments and share on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Instagram with the hashtag #fridayfavorite. You can find more of my favorite inspiration on my Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

We did it! We survived the Christmas mania! Time to venture back to reality – where we wash dishes, and clean floors and make dinner. We don’t survive on cookies for our only source of nutrition and we don’t participate in the A Christmas Story marathon. All of our money is gone, and we don’t want to think about making another gift or batch of sweets for another year.

I put so many of my projects aside to focus on Christmas, that I want to start getting back to them. Like, today. I officially have four weeks left of my vacation and I plan on getting a lot of crafting done before I’m back to the grind. So the first project on my list? My DIY Cork and Chalkboard!

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I got this barn window from my stepsister, and after all the glass broke in our car (fun experience that was), I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it!

Since the glass was already broken, I didn’t have to worry about what to do with that. I decided to change the paint color of the window, so I got a sander (I think the sander may be one of my favorite inventions) and sanded it down until it was smooth enough to paint over.

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Then I got a piece of plywood at Lowe’s and made a line in the middle. I painted half of it with chalkboard paint and I spray mounted cork paper (?) to the other side. I also mounted foam to the back of the cork to make it easier for pinning. Right now, I’m at the point where I’m going to staple some fabric I got to the corkboard and then it will be time to mount the wood to the frame!

Before the chalk and cork

Before the chalk and cork

I’m really excited to see this project finally come to an end, so I can use this bad boy! Hoping to finish it by next week so I can move on. I have a big bin of odd things I’ve been collecting to make stuff with, and I can’t wait to share all of my projects with you! I’m planning on keeping some of them and then either selling or gifting the rest.

What projects do you have in store? Is there anything you put aside for Christmas and are going to get back to now? Post your project link in the comments and share your progress with us on Facebook, Instagram, Google + and Twitter with the hashtag #staythrifty. You can also find more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Yo Momma Monday: Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Meet Gretchen Fleener, 34, from Mound, Minnesota. She is an Industrial Designer, Web Designer and face painter. She runs her own business, Junk Mail Gems, where she sells fun items that she makes out of junk mail. She is also an awesome momma to her two sons, who are three and five. Gretchen took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about how she manages everything, and what she wants her sons to learn from her business.

Gretchen got into junk mail art when she was making magnets from junk mail to preserve patterns that she liked in a functional way. She heard over and over again that she could sell her magnets, but it wasn’t until her sister urged her to start selling online. And that is where Junk Mail Gems was born, six years ago.

“She and I came up with the Junk Mail Gems name because the magnets looked like little gems.  I had a lot of fun designing the logo, then website, and coming up with more things to make out of junk mail to fill my store!”

Although  it may not be for everyone, Gretchen says that being the boss is the best part of running her own business. She loves that she can work when it fits in her life, rather than having to wait for work to be over to enjoy life. A life-long multitasker, she can be found packing items during a commercial break.

As for most small business owners, finances are a worry of hers. Fortunately, she has an incredibly supportive husband whose stable job covers the important bills, allowing her to work from home. He fits her business schedule into his and will come home early to watch the boys if she needs to go to a face painting job or a client meeting.

“He never talks down about my businesses or makes me feel less important because I don’t work 9-5 in an office anymore.”

Before she had her sons, doing anything creative or artistic gave her the most fulfillment. Now, she gets the most fulfillment from using her artistic skills (and revenue earned through them) on her boys.

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

“My kids blow my mind with the things they create already at age 3 and 5 and it’s so cool to see that part of me in them.”

As you might imagine, her boys love crafting with her, and her five-year-old has even caught the bug for turning junk into something he can use and play with! To help cultivate her boys’ creativity, Gretchen labeled a Rubbermaid bin “the project box” and throws odds and ends that the boys can use for their crafts. She also keeps all the kid-friendly crafting supplies at their level so they can create on their own.

“I love coming up with projects to do with them, but my favorite thing is to let them loose and see what they come up with on their own. One of my 5 year old’s most used Christmas gifts is his collection of brightly colored masking tape rolls that my sister gave him.  He is constantly rescuing things form our recycle bin and turning them into things…rocket ships, monster trucks, and houses for his stuffed dogs!”

Not only do her boys love crafting with her, they also love going to yard sales and thrift stores, too! Gretchen says that she talks to them about not wasting things or money, which has also taught them to be patient when they find brand new toys in a store, as they will probably end up at a yard sale or thrift store in a matter of time.

Much like her children, Gretchen loved going to yard sales as a kid and quickly became a big collector. Her collection is now limited to what she can use to decorate her house, and what her family can actually use. I feel your pain, girl. Her vintage finds came in handy last year when she redesigned her kitchen and decorated it with her scores from the 50’s. After facing the normal collector problem of acquiring more than she could use, she set up an Etsy shop.

“This gives me the thrill of the hunt, without the worry of collecting too much.  I love to imagine people looking through my site and getting as excited about finding the perfect thing for their kitchen as I do for mine!”

Gretchen says that she finds inspiration from everywhere – like an oil slick on the street or an old brick building. She also finds inspiration from surrounding herself by other creative people.

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

“I take TONS of photos and am always collecting inspiration for art, graphic, design or craft projects!”

As an Industrial Designer, Gretchen likes to stay current and is always looking into current and future trends. However, when it comes to her personal style, her love for the ’50s does not stop at kitchen utensils. She also leads a life that is deemed old-fashioned by many people today.

“..Staying home with my kids, canning stuff from my garden, baking cookies, making things by hand and cooking a family dinner each night!”

While Gretchen has always considered herself a motivated person, she says that she is now motivated by different things – like getting her work done early so she can spend more time with her family.

“I know that if I get overtired or overworked, I won’t be as good of a parent or spouse, and my family come first.  So in a way, getting in a little “me” time or letting the laundry sit there one more day  can be better for the family and everyone’s mood!  “

Gretchen credits her ability to get everything done to multitasking and creating lists, just like she used to make fun of her mom for doing years ago. Along with that, she stays super organized, and will rework how shes does something if she feels she’s not doing it efficiently enough – often finding a tool or an app that will help.

“But the one thing I don’t compromise on is sleep.  I just can’t function well on any less than 8 hours a night, and when I get enough sleep, being super productive comes much easier during the day!”

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Although Gretchen says that she doesn’t really feel like her work is “work,” she does like to get outside and go fishing, biking and gardening. Living on a lake doesn’t hurt, either. She also likes to paint and work on something creative that is related to her businesses. One craft that she would like to practice more is knitting.

“I’ve done a little, but I love to crochet and really like how much faster it goes!  I’d love to learn how to make my own soaps or candles.  And I’d really love to learn Henna.  It seems right up my alley and would be a great addition to my face painting offerings!”

Gretchen also runs as a series of “Momtreprenuer” Interviews on her blog, as she says that she is always encouraged by hearing how other moms run their businesses and homes.

“So, I thought others might enjoy them too!  It’s also one small way that I can help support fellow moms by spreading the word about their businesses.”

She hopes that her Junk Mail Gems business gives people a new way to look at “junk.” She shares tutorials on her site for various recycling projects, so that people can get new ideas for their own projects.

“I hope to inspire them to find a way to do what they love and maybe even make a little money doing it!  I am always so happy to hear from people who were inspired to try a project I’ve shared too.”

Since Gretchen’s sons will be in school full-time pretty soon, she plans on adding more jobs to her line of work (as if she doesn’t have enough already) like freelance retail fixture design and body painting. She also wants to expand the merchandise section of her online face painting store and seek out more retailers for Junk Mail Gems.

“Right now I have no desire to go back to the corporate gig, but have a huge list of things I’d like to do to grow all of my businesses”

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

If you are feeling inspired by Gretchen like I am, you can connect with her through Junk Mail Gems and ID Mommy and can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest. If you know someone who would be a good fit for Yo Momma Monday (your beautiful self included), post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find more Yo Momma Monday inspiration on my Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I love books. Big, old books that have that  old book smell to them. Any time I’m at a flea market, swap meet, thrift store or yard sale, I always go for the books. Not just any ol paperback, but the old books, with the hard covers. I always image a million things I can do with them, but they usually end up on the bookshelf, rarely touched. In fact, the only hard cover books I read are generally cookbooks. I was cruising Pinterest the other day, and found some pretty neat crafts you can do to reuse books, and I thought I would share!

The first three I found through Saved by Love Creations. She shared over 50 different tutorials, and I picked a few of my favorite. Her site is also a really good resource if you want to find creative ways to reuse discarded items.

Photo belongs to The Gilded Bee

Photo belongs to The Gilded Bee

Vintage book cover postcards from The Gilded Bee – Sasha used old book covers to create postcards and shared her process on her blog. As a crafter and collector, she also has an Etsy shop where she sells floral arrangements made out of paper. How neat!

Image belongs to Hello, ReFabulous

Image belongs to Hello, ReFabulous

Make your own paperback wallet from Hello, ReFabulous – I got this tutorial from another awesome site, Craftster. Since Craftster is a wonderful crafting community, it’s always good to click on the contributor’s website link. More likely than not, that person will share other awesome tutorials, and it’s good to see the crafter behind the craft! Don’t you think? I digress. Connie shares a step-by-step tutorial on her blog, complete with photos of her process. As a mother of nine, I have no idea how she has time to craft since I can barely find time with one baby, but I’m grateful that she does!

Image belongs to Ruffles and Stuff

Image belongs to Ruffles and Stuff

Book Art from Ruffles and Stuff – Disney (the creator of the blog and tutorial, not the cartoon giant) got her inspiration for this project from an Etsy store, Collage-O-Rama, and decided to make her own book art. We all see items we love on Etsy, but when you are strapped for cash, sometimes you just need to make your own. Collage-O-Rama is definitely worth checking out. So much rad stuff on there! Ruffles and Stuff is also good to check out, even if you don’t want to make book art. She has so many tutorials, they have categories: Ladies, Kids and Home.

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Book Page Fabric from Design*Sponge – Everyone knows how much I love this site. This happens to be just one of the very, very many tutorials that Contributor Brenna from paper & ink shares with us. You can visit her page for more awesome tutorials, and if you are into paper crafting, some very beautiful eye candy.

Image belongs to Rook No. 17

Image belongs to Rook No. 17

Upcycled Book Journal from Rook. No. 17 – Jenn not only shares a step-by-step tutorial, including the amount of time it will take (which is good when time is always of the essence), but also the specific names of all the tools she uses. She spent about $5.50 per journal, which is awesome. This would be the perfect way to jot down all of my creative/crafty ideas and document my creative business journey. Wonderful!

I hope this inspires you to either make something from your vintage hard-cover books, or to go out and get some books and get to work! If you happen to find first-edition books, always make sure to check online for the worth. A collector may love you forever if you post the book online for them to purchase. And if you do go for cookbooks, make sure you don’t want the recipes, or jot them down to save somewhere!

Have a fun book craft idea you want to share? Post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #bookcrafts. You can always get more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest! Stay thrifty, my friends.

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I’ve been collecting plastic bags FOREVER. I always used them as my trash bags in my room and then later when I felt capable enough to have a pet or two, I used the bags to clean up after my animals. In fact, I had so many bags that one time when I moved, my friend told me that I could only pack one huge bag full of smaller plastic bags. The others would have to go. I hated that idea, but Pinterest wasn’t around back then, so I had no idea what to do with them.

I still have a bag full of small plastic bags that I use as our trash can liners, or for lunches when my boyfriend forgets his lunch chest at work. Now that big bag is getting overloaded with plastic bags, so I need to think of some more ways to use the bags that will last longer than a trash can liner or lunch bag would. Here are some ideas:

Image belongs to Etsy

Image belongs to Etsy

Fusing plastic bag tutorial from Etsy Labs – I guess I’m WAY behind the times because I just discovered that Etsy had a “lab,” and it hasn’t been updated since 2007. Damn. There are still a lot of great tutorials on there, like how to turn jeans into a skirt, and how to make envelopes. Now, they have a blog on their main page and share some tutorials on there, as well as recipes and profiles on some of their shop owners. I’m still going to check out those tutorials on Etsy Labs though.

Image belongs to Blog A La Cart

Image belongs to Blog A La Cart

Plastic Bag Bags tutorial from Blog A La Cart – This tutorial from Ashley Weeks Cart shows how to turn your plastic bags into yarn to use for crocheting a bag. Now, you need about 80-100 plastic bags so this might take me a little while to accomplish, but maybe we can have a huge plastic bag party and everyone can bring all of their unwanted/unused plastic bags and we can crochet. I started to count how many tutorials Ashley shares on her blog, and then I lost count. So go check it out – you will fall in love with the design, and all of the beautiful pictures.

Image belongs to Jana Trent

Image belongs to Jana Trent

Recycled Plastic Bag Weaving tutorial from Weave Zine – When I first saw this picture on Pinterest, I didn’t think that all of that “yarn” was really plastic bags, but it’s true! Jana Trent shares her step-by-step tutorial for weaving plastic bags on Weave Zine. The tutorial includes photos, which always helps me. Once you get the weaving down, I suppose you can really make anything you want. She used hers for a pillow case, but I’ve seen mats and more.

Image belongs to Mami Made It

Image belongs to Mami Made It

Plastic Bag Flowerpot tutorial from Mami Made It – This tutorial is both in German and English, so if you don’t know German already, you get a little lesson as well! Petra crocheted plastic bags and turned them into a flower pot, which is pretty sweet. All you need are 7-8 plastic bags, which I totally have. It will be perfect for the winter, when my garden is no longer but I still want to keep my herbs going. And I can crochet some extras to give as gifts. Now, I just need to learn how to crochet.

Have any plastic bag crafts to share, or did you use one of these tutorials to make something? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #plasticbagcrafts. Follow my Pinterest for more plastic bag craft inspirations. I’m also open to any ideas you want to see on Thrifty Thursdays so feel free to share those as well!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

Nothing really gets my engine going like a good thrift store. Given the opportunity, I could spend hours upon hours just looking through the clothes and imagining all of the cool ways I could transform them. Thrift stores hold so many stories and memories, and you can find pretty much anything you’re looking for. Except for stand-up cheese graters. Apparently you can’t find those there.

Anyway, while online thrift stores can’t offer the feeling that you get when you walk into that big door of upcycling opportunity, they do offer an option to buy affordable clothing and household items online if you don’t have the chance to spend hours in the thrift store. Just think, you’re kid can’t throw anything out of the shopping cart if it’s online! Here are a few online thrift stores, and some even offer to buy your clothes! This will come in handy when I fit into my old clothes…whenever that happens!

Image belongs to ThredUp

Image belongs to ThredUp

thredUP – An online thrift store that only offers clothing, but they offer cool maternity clothing, which is always a big hit for me. When I was pregnant, it was hard to find maternity clothes that I liked, and what I did find, was expensive. The maternity market is so small, designers are able to charge insane prices for clothes that we wear for a few months and then are more than happy to dispose of, even if those super stretch pants are super comfortable. You can also ship your clothes for a possible sale, but it’s subject to a pretty strict inspection. If it passes, they’ll pay you 40% of the resale value upfront. They also pay for pick up and delivery, all you need to do is order a free thredUP Clean Out bag online. *SPECIAL DEAL: USE CODE AUG15 FOR $15 OFF YOUR FIRST PURCHASE! SPECIAL ENDS TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT! (8/9/13)*

Image belongs to Notnu

Image belongs to Notnu

Notnu – Notnu is another online thrift store that offers cute clothes, accessories and jewelry for a good price. Pretty much everything is $5 on that site, and some items are even less! No maternity section, but I’m sure as they get more clothes, that will happen. I don’t see an option to sell your own stuff online, but the shop is run completely by one person, Whitney Strouse, and only opened two years ago so there may be an option for that in the future, who knows! Either way, this is a killer store and an awesome idea.

Image belongs to WebThriftStore

Image belongs to WebThriftStore

WebThriftStore – This online thrift store offers clothing, furniture, household items and a whole lot more. The most amazing thing about this store is that all of the proceeds from each item sold go toward the designated charity. So, whoever is selling this item will choose a charity, and when the item is purchased, the proceeds go there. The prices are a little higher, but there’s a lot to choose from, and it all goes to a good cause.

Know of any cool online thrift stores? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #onlinethriftshop. Check out my Pinterest for more online thrift shops!