Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

Sacramento residents breathed a little easier yesterday. After 52 days of dry weather, we finally got our first day of rain! And from what I hear, there are more rainy days on their way. So, what this means to my admittedly self-absorbed self is that I can finally put my garden in! I did finish a coffee can planter for my rosemary, and I will be sharing the tutorial soon. I’m hoping to expand my garden and while I will replant vegetables in the back, I want a few herb planters for the front yard that will be easily transportable when we move.

We have plenty of things to use as planters around here, but I’m not 100 percent sure I have permission to take them with us. So, I have gathered quite the collection of awesome DIY planter tutorials. Turns out, you can pretty much make a planter out of…anything.

Photo from Little House Blog

Photo from Little House Blog

I must admit – this will take some work. Lindsay from Little House Blog actually bought and mixed the concrete and made this by hand. That sounds pretty intense, so I would probably give in to my laziness and just find some concrete blocks lying around. But in the hopes that I am actually productive enough to actually make a concrete planter by hand, this is for sure on the list.

Photo from Heavens to Betsy

Photo from Heavens to Betsy

Before meeting Sam, I did not frequent the swap meets. Swap meets are more for car guys, but it turns out that they may or may not have a couple booths of collectibles, in case the car guy also happens to collect antiques, or they bring someone who does. It’s where that I discovered a love I have for old oil cans. My collection is small with only three, but I was thinking of turning them into planters and candle holders. This tutorial from Heavens to Betsy is the perfect inspiration!

Photo from The Paper Mama

Photo from The Paper Mama

I have an old three-tiered basket that is super rusty and the chain no longer works. In the event that I will not be able to restore it the way I want, this will be a great back-up plan. I would love to attach this to a fence, if we end up having one. You can read the full tutorial from Chelsey (The Paper Mama) on Better Homes and Garden’s blog.

And, of course. The windowsill planter.

Photo from Design*Sponge

Photo from Design*Sponge

One thing is for sure. You can find old wooden boxes anywhere. Thrift stores, flea markets, swap meets, your house. The issue I have is that I get old wooden boxes like this to hold all my pens. Then I decide I want my pens in a little pack I can bring everywhere with me. As a writer, I have to have my pens with me. Even in this digital age, I still get a kick from writing things down when I think of them. So, the boxes end up sitting in my closet until they have a purpose. And now, they have one! This would be good for your windowsill, and will actually be a cute gift for your favorite people, too. Check out the full tutorial on Design*Sponge.

Do you have any DIY planters to share? Did you complete one of these projects and want to share what you did? Then do it here! Just post the link in the comments and share on your social media so we can all check it out! Use the hashtags #staythrifty or #makestuff so I can easily look up your posts!

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!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I love getting a new calendar and/or planner! While I have plenty of devices that are more than capable to track all of my important dates and ideas, I am not yet trained in relying completely on my phone. I just have this crazy concept that I am able to think better when I am writing on something in front of me rather than on my phone. And I like to make little notes and goals…so it just works better that way.

It never really occurred to me that I could create my own calendars until recently, and now I have found plenty of awesome calendars that you can create and personalize yourself! I am most definitely going to work on a calendar and can’t wait to share mine with you! Here are some ideas to get your creative juices going:

Photo from Our Collective

Photo from Our Collective

This calendar from Our Collective is simple and classic, and you can use your own photos for the graphics. You can get the calendar template by clicking on the photo or the link above and clicking on the “free calendar” tab. Once downloaded, you will receive 12 .psd templates (one for each month) and instructions. They also share an awesome idea for reusing your CD cases to hold the calendars!

Photo from Going Home to Roost

Photo from Going Home to Roost

Use your Instagram photos to create this calendar from Going Home to Roost. Just click on the photo or the link to be directed to her website in order to download the template. You will be given three different file types: .png, .pdf and .eps, depending on how much you want to edit. Don’t want to use your own photos? Then download and print hers!

Photo from Poppytalk

Photo from Poppytalk

Now, in order to complete this project, you will need to purchase the 2014 Stitch the Stars calendar set from Heather Lins for $25. So, it’s not free, but it’s worth the same amount of money that you would spend on any other calendar. And this one allows you to use a little creativity! She also offers a Year in Stitches calendar kit, but that one is unfortunately sold out 😦 Find out more about this project on Poppytalk.

Don’t feel like doing the work…or paying for a calendar? I ain’t mad at ya. Here are some free calendars with all the work done for you!

Photo from The Elli Blog

Photo from The Elli Blog

Download and print out this FREE 2014 calendar on The Elli Blog. I love this calendar because it’s simple and also has enough space to write down important dates and put your notes on the other side. She says to print on white cardstock, but hey…I say get crazy and print it on any card stock you want! Lots of good DIY projects and tutorials on this site!

Photo from Eat Drink Chic

Photo from Eat Drink Chic

I absolutely love this calendar from Eat Drink Chic! It’s fun and colorful, the only downside is that it really makes want some chocolate the moment I look at it! I would love to print this out and put it in the kitchen – which I think I just might do! You can circle or put little markers by the important dates, and I already know a couple people who would love to get this as a little gift!

So if you are like me and still don’t have a good calendar, don’t worry. You’re only two days into the new year and these projects are simple and easy! Have a DIY calendar you want to share, or did you complete one of these projects and show off what you did? Post the link in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. Find more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest!

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

Since becoming a mom, I can definitely say that my idea of a good time has tremendously changed. While I still do like going out with my friends, it’s usually to thrift store or yard sale instead of the bar. The only shows I go to anymore have the word “antique” in front of them. Don’t get me wrong – if Atmosphere comes to town, I’ll be there in a jiff. But that’s very rare. I like craft fairs and street fairs over house parties, and I want to go to the Sacramento Antique Faire for my birthday rather than 2nd Saturday.

In the last few weeks, I have been lucky enough to go on many a thrifting adventure. It all started with the estate sale/yard sale/ antique store adventure on the “Mom Day Out” I had with my friend a few weeks ago. That’s right, we had a few hours all to us, and we spent them going thrifting. That’s how we roll. Then there was the Lodi Street Faire (aka…crack for crafters) and last weekend was the Stockton Swap Meet. This was all topped off by the Galt Flea Market just a couple days ago.

Side note – taking your baby for a stroll through anything like that is amazing. They love being strolled around outside while you get your thrift on! And, the undercarriage of most strollers can double as storage for your smaller items! Someone without a stroller can push around a cart for bigger items.

I also recommend taking out a specific amount of cash and leaving your cards at home or in the car. Somewhere that is not easily accessible – by you, or anyone else for that matter. You can usually talk the sellers down a little since they generally overprice for that reason. And if you can’t, maybe it just wasn’t meant for you that day.

Luckily for me, I can only afford $20 or less per adventure, so there is no way for me to overspend. I wanted to share with you some of what I got. Now, this isn’t everything. A lot of my stuff is being used for projects, but this will give you an idea.

thrifty finds

1. Cheese graters – I think my collection is up to ten right now. You can buy vintage cheese graters like these online for anywhere from $5-15 each. Or you can buy them at a swap meet/flea market/yard sale for $1-2 each. I have only found a couple at thrift stores, but when I do, they are pretty cheap. I’m going to share a tutorial for turning them into earring holders soon.

2. Suitcase – I got this vintage suitcase and another one at the estate sale for $5 each. You can find these suitcases pretty much anywhere – you just need to be cautious that some of them can be pricy. Bring your cell phone and research each suitcase if you can to find the worth.

3. Records – This pile is from my sweep. A few were gifted, but most of them were purchased at the swap meet and street faire. You can find records everywhere. Again, some will be more expensive and others will be cheap. It all depends on the artist and the condition. I will be sharing a tutorial on how to upcycle records into all kinds of things soon. Before you begin crafting with records, check the worth. I don’t craft with any records that could mean something to someone. Always check that first. I also play my records when I’m crafting, so I have a “keep” “sale” and “project” pile.

4. Apron – Got this for $1 at the flea market. Planning on tie-dying it but I’m not sure what I’m doing with it just yet. Whatever I plan to do, I will be sharing it with you for sure.

5. Oil cans – I got these as a package with 7 records, all for $8. I really want to learn how to make vegan candles (I’m not for messing with animal or human fat) and I thought these would be perfect inspiration/motivation for doing that. I want to use these as candle holders.

6. Loteria cards – I got these at the flea market for $3. I definitely could have bartered for them, but I have been wanting them for a while and haven’t been able to find a used set. The sets sell online for anywhere from $5-20, so I did get a deal. There are so many projects I can do with these, and I also want to teach my daughter how to play with these, along with other card games. I think it’s good for her to embrace all of her heritage (Mexican/Italian/Irish/etc.)

7. Three-tiered fruit baskets – I got this set for $10. Again, probably could have bartered a little. Apparently I’m not the best at that. I’m planning on cleaning them and restoring them a little. Then, I will use them as bread and snack baskets in the pantry. Our landlord (aka my boyfriend’s dad) isn’t so hot about me hanging anything from the ceiling in the kitchen so to the pantry they go! Still looking for a three-tiered fruit basket that stands on the kitchen table. If you know of any that are handmade or vintage/thrifted, let me know!

So, everything in this suitcase (suitcase included) cost me less than $40. And they are all things that I’m going to either use on the daily, restore or use for projects. What are some of your favorite thrifty finds? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest with the hashtag #thriftyfinds. Who knows – your thrifty find could show up on my blog, with your permission of course. Stay thrifty, my friends!