Family Movie Night – Big Hero 6

movie menu printout

Wow – has it really been this long since I’ve posted!? I guess it has! Life has certainly been busy. My absence can be attributed to being back in a degree program half time (which means 2 classes per term) taking courses that are fun but more challenging than the classes I took for my business degree, as well as getting my daughter through preschool and cheerleading, and still working full time and trying to keep the house running.

I work really hard to make sure that I am still spending as much quality time with my family as possible while life keeps up at this crazy speed, which will be for another year and a half until I’m done with school (the half was only added on recently when I had to drop a class and re-add it and two others to my “sentence” to help pass the originally dropped class). While I don’t think that my daughter seeing me do homework a lot will have a poor impact on her, I do want her to know that she is still a priority to me and I’m always here for her. One of my favorite things to do is plan Family Movie Nights.

Our Family Movie Nights are kind of a “big deal.” It’s not often we are all sitting and watching a movie – TV is definitely one of the things that got kicked out of my list of things I do to make way for homework. The movie has to be planned and chosen in advance so that the PLANNING can commence!

Family Movie Night is not complete without a themed menu and snacks, comfy clothes on the couch, and generally a sleeping bag lined with pillows on the floor because that’s cool to a 5 year old.

Big Hero 6 was one of the most recent movie nights we held. If you haven’t seen that movie, I highly recommend it. It’s got action, superheros, and a great message about friends & family and coping through a devastating loss. And of course, Baymax. Who doesn’t love Baymax?

Baymax Cheese Pizza
Use sliced olives to act as the eyes, and cut the slices in half to make the line between.

To accompany the movie, we had a Baymax cheese pizza, made complete by using sliced olives to add the Baymax face. You could certainly order a cheese pizza to save time, or do homemade or frozen. I took a shortcut and picked up a pre-made, half-baked cheese pizza from my grocery store and finished the baking at home. Those pizzas are great for those times that I actually do the grocery shopping in the store (opposed to online) and I’ve had such an ordeal of it that the last thing I want to do when I get the groceries home is actually cook them!

Honey Lemon-Aid was made by adding some honey to some powder mixed lemonade, but you could easily make this even better by making your lemonade from scratch. It would also be DELICIOUS with the addition of some fresh mint leaves… I know what I’ll be making to drink tonight!

Honey Lemon Aid
Honey Lemon Aid was very refreshing after all the salt from the pizza and olives!

My daughter loved making the Max-mallows while my husband and I got the rest of the food together. These were so simple with the use of an edible food marker. I picked mine up at a local craft store that sells baking supplies. I’m not sure what is in it to make it edible, but some questions are better unasked. If including a child in this, be sure to explain that there are some markers that are edible, but most markers shouldn’t be used to color food! She spent some time adding the Baymax face to some jumbo marshmallows and only ate about half of them in the process. It’s definitely not a precision marker, so forgive the blotchiness.

Using our edible food marker to make some Baymax marshmallows.
Our Baymax Marshmallows










Our Microbot Bites were simply some whole pitted black olives. I didn’t realize how divisive black olives were until I had a daughter that loved them and noticed that my husband avoided them and scoffed whenever she asked for them. So if you’re not lucky enough to be in a black olive eating family, well, you might have to think of something else to act as your Baymax face and Microbot Bites! Now, green olives – those things are disgusting!

lemondrops and olives
Lemon drops and Microbot Bites made the last of our movie buffet.

Last but not least, I picked up a bag of lemon drop candy to be our sweet Honey Lemon Drops.

The menu wasn’t as diverse as I typically like it, focusing only on two characters, but I wasn’t feeling particularly creative and I didn’t exactly have other easy-to-relate-to-food characters. The movie and food were hits, though, and the quality time in both thinking of food to have, preparing the food, and watching the movie while scarfing down was a wonderful break to the homework and chores.

finished pizza
All finished – Baymax got a bit of a tan in the oven!

If you’d like to go so far as putting together a menu for your Big Hero 6 movie night, I’ve attached a printable that is yours to enjoy!

movie menu printout
Feel free to print and use this menu for your Big Hero 6 movie night!

Affordable Valentines & Craft Supplies

I love doing craft projects and anything DIY, but I’ll admit – it’s not always cheap! Handmade, or homemade, if you prefer, is definitely NOT cheaper than store bought. So I rely on sales, coupons, and clearance to fund my projects when possible.

I’m also always perusing the Target Dollar Spot aisles when I get a chance. These are the little block of aisles right inside the door that look like a tornado has hit them. I’m normally not expecting to see much when I make my way through the madness that those aisles have become. I was very pleasantly pleased, though, when I saw all of the Valentine’s Day supplies and crafts that were of good quality, and priced right for my budget!

Never overlook this area as a good place to find good supplies for your crafty projects.

Valentine's Day Supplies
Target Dollar Spot Valentine’s Day Supplies
Affordable Craft Supplies at Target
More Craft Supplies – don’t be intimidated by the mess!









I also found some Valentine’s kits in the Dollar Spot aisles that were amazing! It hearkens back to the day where Valentine’s were better quality than a thin piece of cardboard strapped to the back of a candy. Although I’m conflicted – I won’t be the only cool mom to make really clever Valentines with the ease of picking these up. I guess I’ll have to get over it sooner or later.

valentines at target

valentines at target

valentines at target


I’ll have to find some other way to be the cool mom. As the parent of an only child, I just have one chance 😉

My daughter is really getting into the holiday this year, so she was all over making Valentines for mommy & daddy. We stocked up at the dollar spot and got to work one icy weekend.

Daughter Making Crafts
My daughter is all ready to make Valentines!
Unicorn Onesie
She is also a Unicorn, did you know?









From the dollar spot, we grabbed some jars, felt heart cut outs, plenty of stickers (because when you are five, stickers are golden), and a pack of Valentine’s themed paper. This paper was well worth the purchase – it has glittered sheets, patterned sheets… It will live nicely in my collection of papers that I’m someday going to scrapbook with.

Picture of Supplies
Supplies all purchased from the Dollar Spot at Target

I helped by using the hot glue gun to affix all of the felt hearts, but otherwise, my daughter directed me on where to glue everything. She placed many, many stickers wherever she could, and we filled them with candy.

Jar with Felt Heart Glued On
These felt hearts were great quality and easy to decorate with!
Choosing the right sticker
Choosing the right sticker was a lengthy process.


We used the prettiest paper from the paper pack to cut hearts, which were glued to blank cards that I had on hand. She dictated to me a message for each myself and my husband, from her, of course, and she signed the outside of the card after affixing, oh, I’d guess ALL of the remaining stickers.

Daughter working on writing on the envelope
Working on Handwriting with her concentrating face


Adding more stickers to the project
More Stickers!

Finally, her gifts for Mommy & Daddy on Valentine’s Day are complete! I think the best part for me was to see the excitement on her face as she found a place in her closet to hide these gifts from us until she can give them to us on Valentine’s Day. Seeing how thrilling that was for her was priceless for me.

But it was nice to be able to do this with cheap supplies, and stock all of the leftovers into my craft stockpile for later projects!

Finished Candy Jars
Finished Products

Pokemon Inspired Valentine (with free printable!)

Valentine’s Day is coming!

Was there ever a more fun day at school than Valentine’s Day?

Decorating those shoeboxes, writing a valentine for all of your classmates, and reading the valentines from your secret admirers… Not to mention the CHOCOLATE!

Something happened a few years ago, and they just don’t make Valentine’s like they used to. They no longer contain the teeny little envelopes. They stink.

I’ve been enjoying all of the professional looking homemade valentines all over Pinterest, so for the second year running, I’ve made my own! It’s inspired by my daughter’s latest obsession, Pokemon! Okay really, I guess they aren’t my own – they are my daughter’s. And someday when she actually shows an interest in making her own crafts, I will totally step aside and let her do it. Until then, let me at em!

Supplies for the project

I started by printing my valentine onto some thick paper/cardstock. I’ve included a link below so you can print off the valentine for free! This is my first publicized Photoshop project- woohoo! I also used some scissors, packing tape, and a ziploc sandwich bag.

Packaaged pokemon toys

I ordered a bag of assorted Pokemon toys from Amazon. Well, I am told they are Pokemon… The reviews were good, but I guess you get what you pay for! They are perfect for four and five year olds, though.

To attach the little pocket monsters to the valentine, I simply cut off a corner of the sandwich bag. Using the packing tape, I sealed up the side that no longer had a seam, inserted Mr. Chu, and used another piece of packing tape to attach the bag to the valentine.

I love how fun these are! All of my daughter’s friends and teachers will get a fun little toy, and it’s less candy filling those kids with craziness!

And I just can’t get over how happy Pikachu looks to be included in a Valentine!

Here’s a link to a free printable – I’d love to see what you do with it, so please share your results if you use it!

Download Pokemon Valentine


PS – If you haven’t resubscribed to my blog, don’t forget to do so since it’s been moved to new hosting! Share with all your friends, too! Everyone’s doing it.

Saving Money in 2017 – or, the Stop, Start, Continue activity for Resolutionists

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, for a few reasons. Mostly, because they are trite and done only because other people are doing it, and then they fail when people stop talking about them like they are a “thing.” Also, because I’m stubborn and fail to see how a date set on a calendar made by such a small subset of the universe is reason to change your life. However, it is a good time to reflect and make small life changes that are easily and realistically attained. The end of the holidays signals for many a return to normalcy, and it’s a perfect time to redefine what your normal is.

So, though I don’t make resolutions, I do like to make plans for how to live after the holidays. And I am not alone when I focus on changing my financial situation – in 2015, Spending Less and Saving More was 3rd highest resolution, beat out by losing weight and getting organized. It seems we all want to see our bank accounts change in some way or another. As I age, I’ve noticed my view on money and spending has become less about the sticker price of things, and more about the cost in terms of what I’m giving up – eg. is this item worth the 2 hours I’d have to spend at work – and away from my family and my hobbies – to pay for it?

At any rate, this time of year has be reevaluating what I spend my money on, and where I could stop spending it. Bleeding my work life into my home life (don’t you hate when that happens?) I’ve created a Start/Stop/Continue analysis for my wallet.

You could do a similar effort easily by making a list of activities you’d like to stop, activities you’d like to start, and activities you’d like to continue. It’s a good way to make some simple changes in life that add up, while recognizing what you already do that’s great. Below is my list – feel free to use it completely as your own or as a starting place to do your own spending analysis.


  • Go to the library more often to borrow books, movies, or for kid-play time
  • Buy USED – use Poshmark to buy used clothes, Letgo/Craigslist/Sale sites to buy items locally, and other items that can safely and reasonably be purchased secondhand.
  • Open a new ETSY/Online store to sell some of the crafts I make that sit around the house
  • Have At-Home date nights: make dinner & drinks and watch a movie or play a board game. Dressing up optional – no reason not to put on a nice dress!
  • Shopping ALDI – I’ve recently learned about shopping at Aldi, and while I’m not yet an expert, I’m getting there. After you get over the intimidation, it’s a really good place to shop for groceries. Also, since it supports my husband’s income through his new job after being laid off from Con Agra, I’m really supporting the household’s budget by doing my shopping there. Score!
  • Shopping seasonally. I would like to really learn how to shop seasonally to save money on produce. Not only as a cost savings, but as a way to incorporate fresh, healthy foods into my diet more easily.
  • Canning! I’d love to learn how to preserve my own food, which in combination with the above step of shopping seasonally, could truly result in some cost savings down the road. Once I get over my fear of botulism, that is.
  • Reviewing all bills for potential savings. There are some costs and charges that you just can’t fight – the electric bill, the water bill, the garbage bill… But others, you can. One of my former colleagues used to astound me with her ability to call up a company that she had contracted with – such as Direct TV – and tell them that she didn’t want to pay them as much as she was, AND GET A DISCOUNT FROM THEM! She must have been an amazing customer for them to not want to lose. The lesson I learned from her is that it’s worth a shot to call and ask these companies how you can lower your bills. You never know what discounts you are missing out on just because you aren’t asking. And what’s the worst that could happen?


  • Buying Calendars! (oops, too late for this year). There are so many options out there for printing your own calendars, including this adorable one I downloaded and printed myself. Vintage Botanical Printable Calendar – Live Laugh Rowe Granted, I paid for the paper and ink, but that is peanuts compared to what I would spend on a calendar from a store. It’s also supporting an artisan directly – if not monetarily since it was free, at least with my appreciation.
  • Buying books! I love supporting writers and local bookstores, but I have done that quite indiscriminately over the years, so it’s time I take a break.This is a two parter-
    • My ‘to read’ pile is GINORMOUS! I don’t need any new books for at least the 2 years it will take me to get through this.
    • Books can be borrowed from the public library for free.
  • No more gym membership! This one was painful, not because I will miss going to the gym to work out (I never did), but because my daughter will miss the swimming lessons that were free with membership and the once a month kids’ parties at the gym. However, when I compared the cost I was paying to be a member each month to the value I was getting out of it (26 or so swimming lessons a year + 8 or so nights of kid fun), it’s not worth it in the least! I went so far to see what it would cost to terminate my contract, and it was less than half of the cost of a month worth of membership, so I paid the fee and got out of my contract 9 months early. Totally worth it. I may go back someday, but it’s going to be after I’ve done enough gym-free working out that it will be a place I want to go more than once or twice a month. Time to dust off that treadmill in my basement, or the bikes in the garage, or my walking shoes and take a walk around the block. I can get just as great of a workout from home as I can at the gym (minus the hot tub- I will miss the hot tub).
  • Weekend Breakfasts Out. My family has gotten into this habit where once or twice a month, one of us will call the others on Saturday night and ask if we all want to do breakfast the next morning. And, after we argue for a good 45 minutes about where to eat (my stepdad doesn’t like places that are ‘fancy’ or ‘expensive’, and I don’t like the places he likes…) we finally decide on a place that isn’t spectacular, healthy, and can’t do anything I couldn’t do at home (more realistically, what my husband can do at home- I can’t cook an egg to save my life!). So from now on, if we want to do breakfast together, I’m cooking and anyone can come and join me. I like to cook and host, and this way I can do it more affordable and health-fully while I don’t have to worry about if the wait will be long.
  • Buying DVDs. Similar to the book situation, evaluating how often I pay $20 or more for a new DVD or Blu-Ray compared to how often I watch it just doesn’t add up. Not trying to short the movie industry here, but enough is enough!  There will be certain movies I buy regardless (Star Wars (anything but ep. 1 – 3), but otherwise, there’s Netflix, the public library, and friends that can loan me movies.
  • Paying for a smartphone. Yes – I said it. Once my current phone is paid off, I’m going back to a dumb phone. Hear me out. Since my husband is the bill payer in the household, I have a general idea of things, but not specifics. So imagine my shock when I found out that for two cell phone lines, including the lines themselves, phone payments, and phone insurance, we were sending the cell phone company OVER $200 A MONTH! Lots of shock. Lots and lots of shock. I couldn’t believe it! That’s how they get you though – new phones, data, taxes and fees… When I started to really think about how I could lower that bill, it dawned on me – I don’t need a smart phone. I need a phone to make calls from and send and receive text messages, but I can’t think of a life or death situation where if I don’t have google at my fingertips, I’m going to regret it. Most places anymore have wifi, and I will still be able to use that on my existing device once it’s paid off and no longer connected to the cell service. Additionally, I can still keep the device to use as a camera so I don’t have to carry my DSLR with me everywhere I go. And when I get home and on my wifi network, I can upload pics to instagram or twitter or whatever I’d like to do with them. So call me old, or un-cool, or whatever you’d like, but I for one CANNOT WAIT until I can go back to a slider phone with a qwerty keyboard for texting (sorry Mom, but flip phones are still a no-go for me) and send the phone company that much less money each month.
  • Subscription boxes. This was a tough one for me, since a subscription box is like getting a special gift once a month in the mail. Who doesn’t love getting gifts in the mail? But when you stop to think about if you’d actually spend the money you spent to go out and purchase the items, and if that answer is no, you should probably not have the subscriptions. Take a look at what you can live without, and then live without it.


  • Saving $10/week for Christmas shopping. This is something I started a few years ago to help make the shopping at December easier on the budget, and I’ve never regretted it! That $520 at the end of the year covers all of my shopping so that I don’t feel a strain from it. I also don’t notice the $10 gone each week since I’ve been doing it for so long. Additionally, I start my shopping early in Aug/Sept when I see things on sale/clearance that I think my gift recipients would love and store them in my closet. When I do this, I just do it from my regular budget, so that when it does come time to shop, I find that the more done I am, the more I have of that $520 to put toward whatever else I’d like to put it toward. It’s a fun little bonus for me in December.
  • Listing unnecessary items for sale on sale sites. While I’m no millionaire as a result of it, I’ve made a nice little stack of cash from selling things on sites like Poshmark and Letgo to help pay for the new computer I needed in the fall. This is a great way to not only minimize the stuff and clutter in my house, but also to keep items out of landfills, help others buy used at a discount, and put an extra few dollars in my pocket. The little things all add up!
  • Meal Planning & Prepping. Saying that I spend nights on the weekend planning out what my family and I will eat for the coming weeks isn’t that glamorous or exciting, but it pays off in spades. Planning the meals out for the week decreases the odds that I will come home from work, stand in the pantry for five minutes staring blankly at 7 cans of random vegetables and 8 cans of tomato sauce, only to then shout, “Shoes on! We’re going out for dinner!” Additionally, taking time on Sunday to actually prep what I can for the week in advance further decreases those odds. Notice that they are only decreased? Yeah – I still have days where when I get home, the last thing on my mind is cooking – or warming up – food. But baby steps – it’s all about baby steps. I’d like to get even better at this in 2017 (uh oh- did this just turn into a resolution)?
  • Online Grocery Shopping & Curbside Pickup. Technically, this does cost a bit of money depending on what store you shop. But the advantages are absolutely worth it! Firstly, by doing your shopping online, you aren’t going to browse or wander past those bakery fresh croissants that are full of warm, buttery, flaky (fatty) goodness and find them somehow jumping into your shopping cart. There are no impulse buys when you do your grocery shopping online (side note – Hy Vee – PLEASE don’t add a function that tells me what other people are buying like Amazon does. I don’t think I can control myself). Secondly, it saves me so much time! I can sit on the couch Saturday night with a coffee (cocktail) while watching a TV show (for free) in the background as I order my groceries, as opposed to spending up to 2 hours Sunday morning/afternoon going through the store, picking the items, standing in line to pay, trudging through the parking lot… Seriously – have you not tried online shopping yet? It’s life changing! I give it less than a decade before there are grocery stores that have no actual store and are made only for online shoppers. Wait – that’s my idea. You saw it here first, people, so let’s give credit when that comes around 😉
  • Cut the Cable Cord. I struggled to put this in the continue bucket as I don’t think it needs to be said. My husband and I cut cable a few years ago when our daughter was getting old enough to move around and seriously limit the amount of time we were actually able to sit and watch a show. And we went through the same thing other families do when they consider getting rid of cable. What will I watch? Netflix. Hulu. DVDs. But won’t I get bored? No. Read a book if you can’t find anything to watch. But I’ll miss (insert show title here). No, you won’t. You’ll miss it the first season. After that, it will come out on Netflix or Hulu or DVD that you can borrow from the library or a friend and you’ll be caught up again. It only takes one season to cycle through and feel like you’re not missing out. Not only will you save so much money each month (I think my household saved over $100 a month when we cut the cord – how sad is it looking back that we spent that much on a bunch of channels that still had nothing on them), but you’ll start to find yourself with the TV on less and less, making the time to actually sit down and watch a show more purposeful. It’s amazing how much more time you have in life when you turn off the “idiot box.”
  • Home Movie Nights. I LOVE going to the movies! It’s so fun – the movie is on a huge screen, you aren’t distracted by all the things at home, the popcorn is DELICIOUS, and for 2 hours, your only job is to sit back and be entertained. But, they are so expensive. Half the time, the movie isn’t that great. And how many calories did I just eat in that $10 bucket of popcorn? Especially now that I have a child old enough to see the movies – as much fun as it is to take her, I also need to consider taking out a loan each time I do! I’m going to start to incorporate more at home movie nights, complete with healthier, movie-themed snack & dinner menus, comfy pillows & blankets, and a strict no-distraction rule to make it seem more movie theater like. And saving movie theaters for more special occasions will make it even more enjoyable when the time comes to head to the theater.


Stuff those Stockings!

pexels-photo-186613Second to the Christmas tree, stockings are one of the common images of the season that transcend borders & styles.

As a kid, I could always depend on an apple and an orange being in the bottom of my stocking. I had attributed their appearance to being a cheap & reasonable way to fill a good portion of a stocking. It was fascinating to learn later that this had less to do with the burden of filling stockings after buying all of those gifts, but actually traced back to tradition. Which specific tradition, however, is a matter of contention among “experts.”

One item of folklore about St. Nick is that he had given a gift of a dowry to the daughters of a poor farmer, who could not afford to marry them off otherwise. The sacks of gold in the toes of the stockings had the look of oranges to them.

Other traditionalists claim that oranges – and soon after apples – started appearing in the stockings of the Great Depression, as at the time, fresh fruits were hard to come by and were considered a luxury. This doesn’t really explain why people from other countries could count on getting an orange in their stockings, however.

So after the oranges and apples have been placed softly into the toe of your socks, what next? You never realize how much a sock can hold until it’s stocking stuffing time. Filling stockings can add up to be an expensive endeavor, as well as one full of unnecessary, impractical clutter-makers. I’ve compiled a list of stocking stuffers for all ages to help make filling them easier for you.


Age: 0 – 6 months

At this age, you could get away with just handing the child the stocking (if they are closer to 6 months), or filling it with crumpled up wrapping paper. But, for those that insist on the joy of filling a stocking for the littlest of ones, here are some suggestions:

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Rattles
  • Socks/hats/mittens

Age 6 months – 2 years

This is also an easy age. Practicality is the key!

  • Socks/hats/mittens
  • Christmas Plushies
  • Fisher Price Little People toys
  • Baby food/applesauce pouches
  • Fruit snacks
  • Tiny board books

Age 3 – 4 years

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste (I’m a fun mom)
  • Socks/hats/mittens (there’s a theme going on here)
  • Bath toys
  • Bathing products – soap, shampoo, bubbles
  • Stickers
  • Play Doh
  • Crayons
  • Christmas trinkets from $1 store/$1 aisle


Age 5 – 7 years

  • Hotwheels
  • Blindbag toys (shopkins, littlest pet shop… those $4 that are sealed so you don’t know what you’re getting and you keep trying for those darn Super Rares)
  • Lip Smackers
  • More bathroom products
  • Socks/hats/mittens
  • Play jewelry
  • Legos

Age 8 – 12 years

It starts getting trickier to be cheap the older they get. Fortunately, at this age they likely have favorite things that hopefully need little accessories.

  • Trading cards
  • Action figures
  • Batteries
  • Socks/hats/mittens
  • Hobby related items (paints & brushes for artists, legos for builders, comic books for comic book kids)

Age 13 – 15 years

I’m light years from dealing with this age as a parent, but this is what I would think would be appropriate.

  • Makeup
  • Fancy lip gloss (EOS or other brands that seem grown-up (although I still love me a good Lip Smackers))
  • Gift Cards
  • Bathroom products (at this age, you may be delving into the age of razor blade cartridges, which are not cheap and do count as good gifts because of that)
  • Nail Polish
  • Socks/hats/mittens
  • Earbuds/charge cords
  • Batteries


Age 16 – 18 years

Can parents do anything right at this age?

  • Gift Cards
  • Bathroom Products (again) (but parents, let’s all agree that getting pads/tampons in a stocking is NOT cool)
  • Fashion accessories
  • Earbuds/charge cords
  • Phone accessories
  • Gas cards
  • Keychains
  • Movie tickets

Females over 18 years

Yes, I would still do a stocking for adult kids. Assuming my kid isn’t a butt head adult. #goals. But really – if you’re way into stockings and giving like I am, there’s no rule against doing stockings for adults. Here are some ideas that will vary in usage depending on your relationship with the adult.

  • “Expensive” chocolate – Lindt, Ferrero Rocher, Godiva… Nothing against Hershey’s, but I grew past that being acceptable gifting chocolate years ago.
  • Perfume
  • Warm, fuzzy socks (getting someone pratical socks would be weird at this point. But those fuzzy ones for the winter – awesome giftage)
  • Hats/mittens
  • Lotion
  • Candles
  • Planned out date night plans
  • Lotto Ticket scratchers
  • Tiny liquor bottles
  • Pens/stationery/washi tape if they’re into that.

Males over 18 years

This will again differ based on your relationship with the male. But in my research, I still believe that the key to men’s hearts is truly the stomach.

  • Beef Jerky
  • Tiny liquor bottles
  • Needed/wanted/nicer tools (do not be that person that gets a screw driver every year and winds up years later with a drawer full of nothing but screwdrivers) (although having one in each room of the house is sometimes more handy than you’d think)
  • Beard oil/grooming kit
  • Print outs of favorite pictures
  • Lotto ticket scratchers
  • Gloves/hats/mittens (switched it up on you!)


When all else fails, have fun with it! Gift giving shouldn’t be so serious. Sometimes the best thing to get a stodgy old adult is a good old slinky or yo yo to bring them back to their childhood for a moment. And who doesn’t enjoy a good whoopie cushion?

Enjoy those stockings!

November Finds & Faves – Shopping Local!

I was a Black Friday shopper for a few years, and I found that it absolutely was not worth the effort. You can find better deals throughout the year without the mad rush of crowds and greed, just hours after giving thanks for what you have.

As a reformed individual, I do find that I can get on board with supporting Small Business Saturday, though! By giving my money to a small business, I can see my funds going toward them keeping their livelihood, putting food on their families tables, and doing what they enjoy doing. Not that employees at Target don’t also need to be paid, but I feel less enchanted by the idea of how much the CEOs at large corporations are putting under their roofs from my hard earned dollar.

So, if you’re local to the Omaha, Nebraska area, or visit here frequently, I’d like to share with you some of the businesses & individuals I was happy to support this most recent Small Business Saturday.

To be completely transparent – these thoughts & opinions are all my own and I am receiving nothing in connection with my rants. I hope only to further local small business owners and contribute to their success, so please do stop by their pages/shops out of the kindness of your hearts. You may just find the perfect gift for someone on your list!

Wry Goods


etsy – Wry Goods Etsy Shop

This shop has some cute, clever, and just generally warm & fuzzy print work that caught my attention right away (and not only because I’m insanely jealous of the concepts and prints she’s created when my mind goes completely blank once I get the carving tools out). My husband and I bought a “Lovecraft” print and can’t wait to find the perfect place to hang it in the house.

In addition to the items listed in her shop, you can also contact her through etsy for custom orders and for large quantity orders (think – Christmas cards). Anything you get from her shop will definitely stand out amongst the crowds of greeting/holiday cards. I’m also a sucker for a clever pun, so I am all over this shop. I need to have more greeting card occasions in life just so I can send these out. They will be a nice addition to my unique stationery collection!

If you haven’t found a gift for a hard to shop for person, this is the etsy store to check out!

Cee Whit – Baked Goods

image used with permission from cee_whit’s instagram

Find her at pop-up shops and Instagram @ cee_whit

I like baking, therefore, I am extremely picky when it comes to eating baked goods. I expect a lot. And when it comes to macarons – I expect even more. Going to France and having Laduree macarons spoiled me rotten. So when I say that I’ve found the only macaron that I’ve had back here in the states that measures up to the Laduree macarons I remember gaining about 5 pounds from in Paris, that means something.

This woman’s macarons are devine. And her hand pies… you’ll never look at a pie that comes in a wrapper the same again. Never. I also bought a red velvet whoopie pie that made me want to bathe in it. I’ve never liked whoopie pies, but I could eat these things to my sugar fueled death.

I may not do any holiday baking this year and may just buy more of her cookies instead. And then, I may not share. We’ll see how generous I’m feeling, because seriously – these are hide them from the rest of the family and eat them hiding in the coat closet good. Seriously – head over to instagram and check her out! A plate of her cookies would be the best teacher/neighbor/favorite blogger gift ever!

Furbelow Folly Terrariums


Find her at pop-up shops and Instagram @ furbelow_folly

Terrariums have always been neat to me, but not something I could actually see in my eclectic home, until seeing Furbelow Folly’s terrariums. They are the perfect mixture of terrarium and whimsy for my likings. A well arranged plant that I can’t kill – and it has fun characters in it? Sign me up! I’m sure it will not only help my home’s chi/feng shui/whatever, but I smile each time I see it!

The hardest decision I had to make was between a Star Wars terrarium, or the Doctor Who terrarium that had a really gorgeous pocket watch as the centerpiece.  Strangely enough I went with Doctor Who – but had the StormTrooper terrarium not already been sold, it probably would have gone home with me instead. My husband is the Doctor Who fan in the house – I lost my love for it when Rose’s story ended, though now that the insufferable bowtie doctor is done, I’m more tolerant.

Take a look at her instagram feed and watch for her to be at a pop-up show – you will not regret it!

Daisy Jones Locker

image used with permission from daisyjoneslocker instagram

Benson Omaha NE

This adorable little boutique is my favorite source for fancy clothes anymore! I’ve never loved clothes shopping until I ran into this store. It’s full of vintage inspired pinup clothes and shoes, in addition to great accessories and art from local artists. The owner is the nicest ever, and we have an inside joke where I end up going back for belts all the time. The clothes all come in a full range of sizes, from the super small to the plus side of things. Anyone can find something in this store that will make them feel like a million bucks. If you’re a lady, stop by and fall in love. If you’re a man, stop by and get a tee-shirt or a gift for a lady in your life.

And in addition to the awesome clothes & dresses & shoes & everything else, she carries the most excellent Star Wars (and other) themed purses that I get asked about everywhere I go.

You must visit!

I hope you enjoy this list of people & places to shop that are local to my corner of the world.



Alternative Advent Calendars

With the last of the turkey made into soup using the broth I made from the turkey carcass, I can officially call Thanksgiving DONE! And now I can say…




This is my favorite time of year, hands down. It takes everything I’ve got to put up Thanksgiving decorations after Halloween and not just go straight to Christmas. I revert back to my 6 year old self when it comes to December time, so to be able to hold it all together, I plan a bunch of fun Christmas related activities to last throughout the month.

December 1st is often kicked off with the start of an Advent calendar. Did anyone ever actually hold themselves to eating only one of those tiny little pieces of chocolate a day until Christmas? I never could as a kid, but my daughter has been pretty good at it so far. Anymore, there are a multitude of Advent calendars to choose from – you are no longer limited to that tiny square of chocolate wrenched out of it’s plastic shell. Here are some fun ideas for alternative Advent calendars, which range from cheap to pricey, and easy to involved. By creating your own calendar, or by purchasing a fun new kind of calendar, you can feel like a kid again experiencing something new each day of Christmas time!

Toy Advent Calendars

I don’t know if these are technically new, but I’ve noticed them more and more lately and actually bought one for this year. Advent calendars are available for sale by many different toy companies, like Playmobil, Lego, Disney, Fisher Price, Play Doh, and Barbie. While these are considerably more expensive than your $1 chocolate calendar, they do provide a longer lasting, tangible reward. The calendar I chose was a Playmobil Advent Calendar whose pieces add up to make a family Christmas scene. What I enjoy about that is that the pieces can become a part of our holiday decorations and come out year after year – IF my daughter doesn’t abscond them as part of her toy collection. Either way, it’s a fun way to see a scene build day after day and make the excitement last for 25 days, rather than 24 days of anticipation for 1 big day.

DIY Drink Advent Calendar


This calendar is definitely not for kids 😉 With the help of some PVC and spray paint from a hardware store, some Advent stickers from the Target Dollar Aisle, and many, many bottles from my local grocery store (Hy-Vee has a great selection of mix & match craft beer), you can put together an advent calendar that will bring 25 nights of deliciousness.


This calendar isn’t just limited to beer, either – mine contains craft & vintage sodas in glass bottles, as well. If you’re a fan of just one beer, you can certainly fill it with 25 of your faves.

To construct the tree, I had a 10ft section and a 2ft section of 3 inch diameter pvc cut into five inch sections. You’d think 5 inches into 10 feet would work out to not require so much extra, but when you account for the small amount removed from the cut itself, it adds up. Using PVC glue, the sections were attached together to form a Christmas tree shape, with 4 pipe sections at the base for the trunk. Spray paint added the festive colors.


Next, I used the advent stickers to top each bottle cap and loaded the tree up!

My husband is really looking forward to picking his bottle each morning and putting it into the fridge for a cold drink in the evening. It was really fun to put together as well. I’m not a beer drinker, so if I were to make one of these for myself, I’d have to get a much bigger diameter pipe to hold the wine bottle and would likely need rehab after the holiday season! But for someone that drinks an occasional beer here and there and likes to sample many different kinds, this is a fun gift to put together. I’ve paired with it a taste tracker so that he can remember which of the drinks he liked, and which weren’t as great.

Santa Beard Calendar


Who else remembers the advent calendars that soda companies gave out for free where you glued a cotton ball a day to Santa’s beard? I know they are truly a thing and not just my imagination, because I’ve met one other person who remembers this, and surely two people can’t be wrong!


I wanted to recreate that memory of my childhood, but also wanted it to be more permanent than a sheet of paper & cotton balls. With the help of a friend, I had a Santa head cut out of pine. Using Rustoleum Magnetic primer, I painted the bottom half of the santa head with two coats of the special paint. This paint is loaded with iron filings that make it magnetic upon drying. One drawback to this is that it is super expensive – so find a few friends that want to do this project along with you and split the cost.

After applying & drying the magnetic paint, I painted on a Santa face. You do not have to be an artist to do this if you have carbon paper – this was not free handed! Do not let this intimidate you. If you have a santa pic that you love, just use the carbon paper between your wood & print out to put the lines onto the santa to guide your painting. Instant artiste.

Finally, using some white pompoms scored from the quite successful Target Dollar Aisle and some glue & magnets, I made 25 beard balls (need a better name) that stick to the beard, despite my fears. Success! Instant Santa Beard Advent Calendar.

There was so much excitement that she couldn’t hold still for a second picture…

DIY Jar Advent Calendar


A pretty jar, some scraps of paper, and a pen make a really simple & quick advent calendar. Cut out 25 strips of paper and determine what you’d like to add to them each day. You can either start with 25 pre-filled items and pull one each day, or fill them out as you go and end up with 25 filled tags at the end of the day. Here are some ideas of what to write:

  • 25 favorite Christmas memories
  • 25 acts of kindness to perform during the holiday season
  • 25 types of baked goodies to make (if you have all the time in the world to bake daily)
  • 25 Christmas movies to watch
  • 25 Christmas stories to read
  • 25 Christmas songs to listen to
  • 25 bible verses to read
  • 25 Christmas themed activities to kill the time while you wait for the big man in the red hat
  • Have children write nice things about their siblings and read them each day until Christmas (you may want to pre-read these and remove the element of surprise)
  • Any combination of the above

Alternatively, you could use this as a perpetual advent calendar by reusing the same scraps over and over again. On each scrap, leave a lot of room for writing. When you draw a scrap for the day, write your best memory of that day. The next year, you start over with new memories being written right below the previous year’s memories. It’s a great way to keep a Christmas journal that you revisit year after year.

Envelope Advent Calendar


Similar to the jar calendar above, you can use an envelope to hold a daily treasure for the days leading up to Christmas. Fix your envelope to a cute bunting using some safety pins, or just tape them strategically around your home or on your fridge.

Treat Crackers


While not diet friendly, making 25 holiday crackers with your favorite holiday treat is easy if you can save 25 toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes. Simply fill them with your treat of choice and wrap them in some leftover wrapping paper scraps. Then hold yourself to only opening one per day!


Even though we now have a variety of advent calendars around the house to keep us busy until the big day, my daughter insists that she still needs the $1.99 chocolate advent calendar or her holiday will not be complete. There’s no pleasing some people! This is one craft project where you can let your imagination go wild and turn anything into a 25 day long activity that fits your family, home, style, tastes, and effort levels. Remember – putting together a red & green paper chain still counts as crafting!

Make Money with your Smart Phone – 3 quick, easy apps to put more dough in your holiday shopping!



“It’s the holiday season! So whoop-de-do, and hickory dock…”

I always thought that was the strangest lyric in a Christmas song ever. Maybe whoop-de-do had a better connotation in the days of Andy Williams? Maybe it wasn’t as sarcastic as it is today… Who knows!?

Point of fact- Andy Williams was born in my wonderful state of Iowa. There’s some great trivia for you the next time someone wants some good Christmas trivia. Which happens all the time, I’m sure.

At any rate – IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON! And while I feel a lot more excited than I do whoop-de-do about Christmas time, it’s a strain on the budget, even when I’m taking it easy. I attribute it to my love language of gift giving – I’m a giving person. It’s hard to reign me in once the Christmas music starts playing in stores and I see wrapping paper and tinsel and bows…

Here are three apps I’ve used to make some extra spending cash this season, along with the pros and cons of each. Hopefully you can find these useful like I did and make a little something on the side!


Poshmark calls itself a fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion, and I do agree with it being simple. Fun? Well, I suppose if you find fun out of buying clothes on your phone, you won’t find this not-fun, so, sure!

Poshmark is a buying and selling marketplace for all things clothing & accessory related. Much of it is second hand clothes being sold by people like you and I – although it does appear that there are some retailers using it – or people that appear to be acting as retailers.

I have used it both to buy and sell items, and I do agree that they make the process rather simple. To buy, you simply find an item you’d like to buy using their easy to use search functions and can choose to purchase it. You can link it through your PayPal account for convenience, and you can even make offers on items if you don’t agree with the price the seller has listed. Sellers have ratings that you can read from other people that have bought from them. Once you receive a package, you have three days to accept it or reject it and send it back, using a shipping label provided to you by Poshmark. So you don’t need to worry about buyer’s remorse.

I’ve actually used this app more for selling, and somewhat successfully! To sell an item, you can simply take a picture of it using your smartphone. You can take up to four pictures and load them all on the item listing. Then you need to provide a description, including the color, size, type of item, and state it is in (brand new, hardly worn, in good condition…). Before the listing goes public, you can enter the price you’d like to list it at. The app automatically shows you what your earnings would be if it were to sell at that price. Yes – Poshmark does take some off the top. But with the calculation done for you, it is easy to set the selling price at one that will make you happy with the earnings. You can also go in later if your item isn’t selling and adjust the price.

When your item does sell, sending it to the buyer is easy as long as you have a shipping container lying around and a printer. Poshmark covers the shipping, and you can download a shipping label and print it out at home, tape it to the box, and just drop the box in your mailbox. Once the buyer has received and accepted the purchase, Poshmark will hold your funds either in a Poshmark account for you to use to buy from, or they can transfer them to your Paypal.

I have found this a great way to not only get rid of clothes I hardly wear, but to get money for items that I would have otherwise just sent to the Goodwill. And it’s a great way to save money on clothes if you’re willing to buy clothes from your phone. This is actually the app that I’ve had the best luck with, believe it or not!

PROS – Simple & quick to use, shipping to a buyer is simple, and it’s easy to see how to price your item for maximum earnings.

CONS – If you have your phone set to allow notifications (which I would recommend as I originally did not have notifications set and it took me two days to realize I had my first sale), you will get A LOT of notifications. There are “parties” that you can be invited to, which I imagine is a way to get your item seen by more people, and I get notifications for at least 10 of those a day.

Words of Advice – Before you list, take a look at similar items and their prices & descriptions to get an idea of how to price competitively and what sort of information to share in the listing.



Ibotta is an app that gives rebates for products you’ve bought. You need to have your smartphone to be able to not only scan the barcode of the item, but to take a picture of your receipt. There are many different categories of rebates, as well as categories of stores you can browse. To earn a rebate, you select the item that is shown for rebate and for some, have to watch a quick commercial video or answer a quick market research survey question. So there truly is no such thing as a free rebate…

You can cash out on your accumulated rebates in a few different ways. One way to cash out is to receive a gift card of your choice with the amount of your rebates credited onto it. There are many different stores/restaurants/etc. to choose your gift card from. Another way you can get your earnings is to have Ibotta deposit them in your PayPal account. However – the minimum amount of earnings required for this is $20, which doesn’t seem like much, but for me, took a long time to reach.

Of all of the apps, I have found the least luck with this app, but that is likely based off of my lifestyle. I heard about this originally from a blog I read that talks about couponing, and there is a lot of money to be earned if you combine an Ibotta rebate with a coupon. Additionally, it appears that at almost all times of the year, you will get a $5 bonus for your initial sign up with Ibotta, which is large compared to the size of the other rebates. However, if you’re not a coupon shopper, or a sale item grocery shopper, it may take you a long time to rack up enough rebates to cash out. The items that are available for rebate are rather random at times, and were not items I saw myself buying normally. I didn’t want to go out of my way to buy something for $4 that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise for a $0.25 rebate, so it took me almost 3 months of use alongside the $5 bonus to reach the $20.

If you are the type of person that doesn’t mind buying things that you wouldn’t otherwise to stock up on them and take advantage of the related savings, this is right up your alley.

The other thing that disappointed me about this service is their customer service and the policies that they don’t share with you until you’ve gone outside of them. To explain, I do a lot of my grocery shopping on my local grocery store’s website, and then I pick them up curbside the next day. This saves me a lot of time on the weekends where I already have so little time. It is truly a lifesaver for me. I had submitted many receipts through Ibotta this way with no problem; however, when I submitted my final receipt to reach that $20 threshold, my rebates from it were all declined because the receipt had printed on it, “DUPLICATE RECEIPT.” This happens often when I do the online with curbside pickup, I’m sure because one copy of the receipt is created when I do the online checkout, and the other is done when the person at the store puts my groceries together. At any rate, Ibotta told me – after waiting for my email to be replied to for 3 days – that the purpose of Ibotta is to get people into the store to see products, so they could not honor my rebates. Strange that they had every other time… I was frustrated, so I went to Target and bought a bottle of liquor to get the associated rebate and be able to cash out. Good deal, though, because now I have a batch of fresh vanilla extract brewing and $21.75 in my bank account.

PROS – Simple & easy to use

CONS – Policies that you aren’t aware of until after you’ve stepped outside of them, very random assortment of items up for rebate, long wait to be able to cash out your accumulated rebates

Words of Advice – combine this with coupons to increase savings or use this if you’re a stock-up grocery type of person, but if you are particular about what you buy or aren’t buying to store a surplus, the effort may not be worth the payout.


Letgo reminds me of Craigslist in a way. It’s an app that lets you sell just about anything and ask for whatever price you’d like. You can load pictures taken with your smartphone and add your own description. What makes this different from other online secondary markets like Ebay is that it assumes you are listing locally, or that if you are looking outside of your geographical area, you’re going to figure out how to transport the item. It seems to be geared toward local buying/selling. So the items that will pop up in your listings if you are browsing are those that are close to where you are located.

The interface when it comes to listing is very easy to use and understand. I haven’t purchased anything from this app, or even browsed, so I can’t speak to how that works. But I have sold a few items from this and do think it’s a simple way to make some cash if you have something that might be worth value to anyone else. It works very similarly to the new Facebook Marketplace (before I got rid of my facebook account, that is.)

It does seem to be harder to sell items on this app than it does for me on other apps, but I don’t know if that is attributed to the types of items I am selling, or just that people are inundated with other ways to buy things. But, if you have something worth money that you’d like to part with, it’s much quicker to list with LETGO than it is on Craigslist or other types of services. There is a messaging area where you can speak back and forth with the buyer/seller without giving away any personal information like phone number or email. There are also verified sellers, but I don’t really know what it takes to be verified. It must be pretty cool, though. It is also easy to discount previous listings if they don’t appear to be selling quickly enough for you.

PROS – really quick & easy to get an item listed.

CONS – can take a long time for things to sell, if at all.

Words of Advice – as with any transaction where you are meeting a person that you don’t know, use caution & common sense! Only have a person to your house if you don’t have another alternative, and meet them outside. I would only advise having a person to your house if you have another person there to intimidate them ;).  Always have a 2nd person with you for added safety whenever you can. Only accept cash. Many Police Stations have places now at the station dedicated to these types of transactions for safety – if this does not exist in your area, consider meeting at another location that is well traveled and only in daylight. I’m a big fan of meeting at places like gas stations or grocery stores – places where there is always likely to be someone walking around that could aid if anything bad were to happen. That said – I’ve had many transactions that have all been 100% safe and legitimate by following these steps, so don’t be intimidated to give it a try.

I’d love to hear about your experience with these apps, or with any other similar apps that you’ve used and had success (or failure) with. Share with me in the comments section!

Thanksgiving Dollar Tree Craft Challenge

Can anyone believe that Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away? I sure can’t! Maybe it’s the warm weather we’ve been having, which I loved at first, but I’m actually starting to want weather that is more fall like to get me into the holiday spirit.

At any rate, it is truly coming quickly. It’s not too late to create some easy, quick, and cheap décor for your home to help usher in that Thanksgiving feeling faster than a blobby cylinder of purple sour “cranberries” will. It’s another Dollar Tree Craft Challenge!

For this project, you will need:


  • Plain glass vase – or other vessel – from Dollar Tree
  • Tissue paper in fall colors – or colors of your choice – from Dollar Tree
  • Mod Podge – not from Dollar Tree, but a versatile supply that will be an investment in many craft projects. This should really be in every crafter’s tool box!
  • Brush to apply mod podge – this could come from Dollar Tree! I use the spongy brushes for this, but you could use a standard paint brush in any size just as easily.


To start, tear or cut your tissue paper into small bits no smaller than the size of a quarter, but no larger than the size of a post-it-note. You could really do them in any shape – if you like a more uniform look, cut them into squares. For a more random or unplanned look, rip the paper into different shapes. There are no rules in craft club. That’s not true. There are rules. But for this step, go wild.


To affix these to the outside of the vase, we will start by working in small sections to put a base layer of mod podge onto the vase. Mod podge does tend to dry quickly, so I work one piece at a time by putting down the mod podge in a layer that I think is the size of the piece of tissue paper, then putting the tissue paper down on it. Smooth any wrinkles out as much as you can, but tiny wrinkles here and there won’t impact the overall piece.



For my vase, since I had lost my yellow tissue paper somewhere so only ended up with red and orange. Because it was going to be difficult to really alternate two colors, I didn’t worry about placing a red next to a red or an orange next to an orange. So placement of colors/shapes of paper is entirely up to you as the artist. Depending on if you want a uniform piece, a random piece, or a logically random piece (red, orange, yellow, red, orange, yellow…), you will place your pieces how you like them. Don’t stress it, though. This is a Dollar Tree craft, after all! If you don’t like how it turns out, Goodwill it and head out for another $1 vase.



Once you have a section with a few pieces of tissue paper glued to the vase, go over these with a top coat of mod podge. This will put a good seal on the pieces, making them stick for a long, long time. Mod podge has different finishes – the product I was using has a matte finish, so I tried to keep my top coat thin to avoid having too much of a cloudy appearance once dry. Mod podge does dry mostly clear, but the thicker you put it on, the cloudier it is. I’ve never used a glossy mod podge, so if you use it, let me know what you think of it!

Repeat this process until your vase is as covered as you want it to be – base layer, tissue paper, mod podge! The tissue paper is great for this project because it’s thinness allows for a really great adhesion using less mod podge, and it also still allows for some light to shine through. Allow this to dry for at least 24 hours before handling or using.



I finished my vase with some fake flowers that I also got at Dollar Tree! For a $1, I think this looks pretty good!

Things that are coated with mod podge are not food safe, and not all finishes are water safe, either. I would also not recommend using mod podge for anything that will hold a candle or be near a flame as all glue finishes should be considered to be highly flammable. Here are a few alternatives if you were using this on something you hoped to be able to eat off of, wash, and/or use with a candle:


  • Food Safety: Mod Podge is non-toxic, but is not recommended for food touching surfaces as it would have to be tested and approved by the FDA to be considered food-safe. If you are doing a glass plate, mod podge your decorations to the BOTTOM of the plate so that the top can still be used for food. This would make a really cute charger or saucer!
  • Waterproof-ness? (not a word…) Mod Podge is not water proof. That said, you can get items wet by accident and not lose hope. You can even clean items that have been sealed with mod podge with a lightly dampened rag. But I wouldn’t submerge anything that’s been Mod Podged in water. There is an Outdoor Mod Podge and a Dishwasher Safe Mod-Podge, however, even the outdoor mod podge is not water-proof and is water-resistant. Using the outdoor version would be your best defense if what you’re making will be in wet elements, but it’s still not fool-proof. I have not personally used the Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge to be able to recommend it or not, so if you have, please share with me your thoughts!
  • Flammability – I always assume anything that has glue or sealant or paint to be highly flammable. Actually, I assume EVERYTHING to be highly flammable. Thankfully modern technology has come up with flameless candles – which are basically tiny flashlights that look like tea lights or other candles. I like using these as much as possible when decorating as I don’t have to worry about the cats starting their tails on fire or my daughter starting herself on fire, or falling asleep without remembering to put them out. This vase would look really pretty with the glow of a flameless candle coming out from it!


For more Mod Podge related questions, you can visit their website at or their blog at where they have some extensive tutorials and Q&As that will surely inspire you and answer any lingering questions you may have.

As always, I’d love to see your version of this if you attempt it, or anything inspired by this! Please feel free to share in the comments section.





I received an email on my phone today that actually caught my attention – unlike the handful of emails I find myself deleting each morning out of habit (I should work on unsubscribing more often). The attention grabbing email was from WordPress, and it was notifying me that my subscription was going to renew in 2 days since my year was up.




I’ve had this website for a year now (in two days).


Not that you’ve seen it for a year – I did a lot of prep work before I took the website live. But wow – so much has changed in a year! Outside of New Year’s Eve or my daughter’s birthday, I never really take the time specifically to think about how much has changed in a year.


So much has changed for me in one year’s time –

  • I started out on this blogging journey.
  • I’ve learned A LOT about blogging do’s and don’t’s.
  • I’ve gotten slightly better at taking pictures.
  • I’ve gotten a little better about time management (but not much).
  • I’ve learned a bit more about the size of “my plate” and when I have too much on it.
  • I’ve learned that I’m really not good at some things I’d like to be good at (like painting).
  • I’ve learned that I’m actually good at things I’d never thought I would be good at (like wood crafts).
  • I’ve gained new skills that I hope to go even further with.
  • I’ve enrolled to finish my bachelor’s degree.
  • I’ve un-enrolled for my bachelor’s degree in business and re-enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design.
  • I’ve un-enrolled for my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and have completed courses to become a Web Developer.
  • I’ve re-enrolled for more Associate’s degrees in Front End Web Design, Web & Database Management, and yes – Graphic Design.
  • I’ve learned that I’m not as bad at math or logical thinking as I always thought I was.
  • I’ve lost 20 pounds.
  • I’ve gained back 15 pounds.
  • I’ve decided that my focus right now is not on the numbers on the scale, but on being healthier overall – mentally and physically – and making lifestyle changes that are small baby steps toward someday worrying again about that number on the scale.
  • I’ve found through experience that time truly does go faster the older you get, and that it’s hard to have it all.
  • I’ve learned that there are friends out there that understand that, and will be there three months – or six months – or nine months later to pick back up exactly where you left off ages ago when you weren’t quite as busy as you are now.
  • I’ve learned to recognize in myself when it’s time to phone-it-in.


  • I’m still learning that when I’m afraid of failing or letting other people down, that there are no other people to let down but myself, so I should stop making up imaginary people that will be left down by my “failings” (lack of consistent blog posts, changing school directions once again, still having a credit card bill because for some reason I just cannot commit to not spending money on things).
  • I’ve learned that no matter how old I get, I’m still going to make bad decisions sometimes, but life goes on.
  • I’ve still not gained much patience in my life, but have instead learned ways around my lack of patience and how to be calmer.
  • I have a lot of room to go still toward being calm.
  • I’ve been to another new foreign country.
  • My husband and I got matching tattoos in the new foreign country. His faded quickly, and mine got infected.
  • I have fully lived many times the idea of “too good to be true.”
  • No matter how hard I try, I’m still NOT an outdoorsy person, and I don’t think I really ever will be.


Possibly the biggest thing that has happened over this year is that I’ve truly learned that there are things in my life that I am unhappy about, and what those things are. It can be hard to pinpoint the thing that isn’t working for you, but I believe I have. And I believe I’m taking the steps necessary to fix it. It’s been a slow road – and it’s hard when I see people doing similar things much faster than I am (some have started and succeeded in the time that I’ve still been working on it). But I’m sure there is an adage about how things that take a long time and are hard are usually better than if they weren’t hard or didn’t take as long.


I’m going to fail along the way.


I’m going to get frustrated along the way.


I’m probably going to waste a little bit of money along the way making bad decisions and failing (see above). But money is just paper. They print new money every day, right?


I think it will be worth it. I think I’m teaching my daughter important things by being at class at night when I’d rather be home with her. I think I’m teaching her that you have to work hard at life sometimes to make it how you want it, and it’s worth it. Nothing is truly ever given freely, and you can’t count on luck to get you through.


What does all of this have to do with blogging? Well, nothing, and everything. Taking the plunge and putting myself out there has opened me up to new possibilities and reminded me of what I enjoy spending my time on, which has led me on many paths I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Hopefully all will become clear and transparent in the next coming months.


I guess the moral of this almost-anniversary post is to put yourself out there, fail, make mistakes and bad decisions, but keep growing and learning. Because the only time you are DONE learning, DONE evolving, DONE changing as a person, is when you are dead. There is no age of being done, or having your life together.


What’s the phrase? If you want God to laugh, show him your plans? I’m sure I have that wrong, but the sentiment is there. If you think you’ve finally got it all sorted and your ducks are in a row, those ducks could be running amok at any moment.


Be ready with a duck grabber.