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!

Creative Business Journey: Project 2014

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

I have a lot riding on February. I have thought about where I want my creative business to go, and everything I have lined up is for next month. So, February is all about being fearless. I have been waiting for a lot of these changes, and they are finally coming to fruition. I need to put my fears aside and go headfirst into everything I want to do.

I loved this post from Krochet Kids

I loved this post from Krochet Kids

Here is what I’m most excited for next month:

  • I’m finally getting a blog update! I’m making the switch to self-hosted, and since I learned my lesson from trying to DIY it last year, I’ve taken another route. I’m going through Amy Cluck-McAlister, who I met when she donated some beautiful and fun jewelry to the first fundraiser I helped organize for Vox. Her site, Amy is the Party, is not only about web design – she shares a whole bunch of crafts, party ideas and spreads some of her local love for Sacramento. So yeah, I love her.
  • After a lot of thinking, re-thinking and some more thinking…I have ultimately decided to start selling Pampered Chef. It’s not a complete DIY approach to running my own business, but it will sure help me get to where I need to be in order to grow my business. It also gives me an opportunity to practice cooking and baking as much as I can, and who doesn’t love them some Pampered Chef? I’ll share the link to my site when it’s up in case you are longing for some cookware.
  • Getting Sweet Mariposa on Facebook and promoting the heck out of our stuff! We have a lot of good stuff up there and I’m excited to share it. I’ve learned a lot about product photography and photo editing through this, and I love that all my projects urge me to learn new skills that have been on my mind for a while.
  • Organizing the fundraiser for Vox. We need to get down the specifics so we can start creating flyers, Press Releases and getting more people involved. This is going to be a whole lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

be fearless

I have joined the Project Accountability Club through Oh My Handmade! Goodness, which has totally motivated me to get serious about my goal planning. I have simplified some and have limited my commitments to a few important things that really get me going. Since we’re doing this week by week, I’m sharing what my goals are for next week:

  • Hone in on my design inspiration for my blog and make a dream board specific to my blog. I already have a lot of ideas on my Pinterest, now I just need to pin down exactly what I want (see what I did there?). I need to pick the exact font, colors and theme that I want. This is so exciting! I am beyond thrilled to see what Amy comes up with. I’ve looked at her past work, and I love it. I know this will be good.
  • Get all set up on Pampered Chef. Sign up, get my website set up and then start thinking of some recipes I want to use with all of my fancy cookware!
  • Create a Facebook page for Sweet Mariposa and load all of our photos on there. Connect the page with our Etsy shop for a seamless theme. All of the other social media will be done through my blog account.
  • Meet with Estella of Sol Collective and Eric from Vox. Set a date and time and choose a name. Get started on the sign-up sheet for everyone who wants to get involved.

Ok, that should be it! This is all so exciting…I can feel the productivity flying out of my fingertips right now! I know if I can get all of this done next week, I’ll be on a really good start. What are your creative business goals? What do you hope to achieve this week? Share in the comments and connect with me on social media. Let’s ride this sweet rockin’ rollercoaster we call creative businesses together!

Inspired Recipe: Quinoa Lasagna

I love getting a new canvas. It’s so fresh and clean, not a speck on it. You wonder what will come of it. What will you paint? What colors will you use? How many revisions will it take until it’s just the way you want it? How long will you spend on it? I feel the same way when I find a new recipe. Something about starting from scratch, touching something that has been untouched by you until now. It’s even more exhilarating when you improvise a little to make it your own. That first bite is a mixture of agony and excitement.

And then…it’s delicious! And other people enjoy it, too!

This is what happened when I made the quinoa lasagna inspired by MJ and the Hungryman at my aunt’s last week. When I lived with my aunt a long, long time ago, I was always amazed and a little perplexed by all of the healthy food she ate. Now that I’m on my healthy journey, it’s fun to share these recipes with her – as she is part of a very small group of people I know who truly appreciate the whacky, healthy recipes I attempt.

I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures because we were busy visiting and eating. Actually, I only got one picture.

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The original recipe called for this:

  • 3 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce or prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

This is what we did:

  • 3 diced Russet potatoes – because that’s what we had
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli – again, what we had
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce or prepared pasta sauce
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • A few slices of pepper jack cheese – it’s what we had, and I put pepper jack on everything so this is no surprise

Next time, I would like to make my own pasta sauce. I can’t even comprehend making my own cheese yet, so if that ever comes, it will be much later in life.

Have you ever improvised a recipe you found? How did it turn out? Success, or total failure? The next time you find a recipe that you haven’t tried due to lack of ingredients, see if you can sub in what you have. You can Google substitutions for just about everything and if you are trying to make your favorite recipe a little more healthy, you can consult The Gracious Pantry. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter for more healthy inspiration!

Yo Momma Monday: Stefanie Schiada

yo momma monday

Stefanie Schiada, 36, is a home design blogger who started the very popular Brooklyn Limestone in the midst of her recent home renovation. She is a world traveler who calls Brooklyn, NY her home and she is mama to a beautiful one-year-old named Agatha Grace.

Stefanie started Brooklyn Limestone to document the renovation of her 100-year-old limestone in – you guessed it – Brooklyn. Now, her blog includes entertaining, design, travel and decor. Since Stefanie does not receive her primary income from her blog or graphic design site (she works in finance), she keeps the blogging to the weekends.

Stefanie admits that she never wanted to add a personal side to her blog. She was simply going to document her renovation, post some photos and hopefully make a photo book out of it when she was done. Two years later, she finally showed her “mug” and more personal details about her and her family.

Stefanie and Agatha at Agatha's first birthday! Photo taken by Stefanie's brother.

Stefanie and Agatha at Agatha’s first birthday! Photo by Stefanie’s brother.

Before she moved into this house, she and her husband lived in a much smaller house and did room-by-room renovations. Now, she “just takes a lot more photos.” Stefanie says she has been interested in the DIY process for as long as she can remember.

“I think I’ve always been a little on the cheap side which definitely makes me ask the question “can I do this myself?” and “can I do it better?”.”

Stefanie says she gets her inspiration from all the places she visits, and trips to the home improvement store can also get her creative juices flowing. “Sometimes a pile of wood can really spark the imagination.” She also searches for items that she knows she won’t tire of quickly.

Just a little snippet of the renovation that was done. Clearly, she doesn't mess around! Photo taken by Stefanie Schiada

Just a little snippet of the renovation that was done. Clearly, she doesn’t mess around! Photo by Stefanie Schiada

“While I always seem to have one project or another going, I don’t really want to have to change things out unless I’m in the mood.”

The experience Stefanie has with being a tourist – mixed with her knowledge and love of her city – has led her to create a downloadable one-day tourist guide for people who are visiting Brooklyn. Now, this was back in 2009 so I’m sure some stuff has changed, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you are going to be visiting.

In fact, she loves her city so much that she had a hard time picking just one thing that she loves the most about it.

The beautiful house when the decorated it for the holidays. So magical!

The beautiful house when the decorated it for the holidays. So magical! Photo by Stefanie Schiada

“If I had to pick a favorite its having the variety of choice here in eating and shopping.”

And in all of her travels, Stefanie says that her safari in Africa stands out from the rest, and says it’s hard to compare it to any other destination. Stefanie has even taken on the daunting task of traveling with her daughter – something I have yet to do.

“I’m a pessimist so the reality is much easier than I imagined.  Obviously so much depends on the temperament of the baby and the parents but we have found that its not that different than spending time with her in a restaurant or any other public place.  The key is just to GO!”

Asam Church in Munich, Germany

Asam Church in Munich, Germany. Photo by Stefanie Schiada

As a new mom, Stefanie wrote a post titled “Things I Wish I Knew Before Bringing Home Baby,” and man, could I relate. That post hit so close to home that I felt like I wrote it, and it is actually what pushed me to contact Stefanie about the interview. If you are a new mom, or you have been one before, you should read this. Trust me, you will have yourself a good laugh.

“My advice would be to not be so hard on yourself.  I think our generation of parents put this incredible burden on ourselves about creating the absolute perfect environment for our children (breastfeeding exclusively, organic only diet, educational toys, etc.) that cutting yourself any slack at all (no matter how much you are trying!) feels like a big failure.  

I know I cried many tears on countless subjects (especially about nursing!) that seemed absolutely crucial at the time but even  with just the little time I’ve had to think about it, its just not that important in the scheme of thing.  Its hard to remind yourself you are doing your absolute best and you are allowed to enjoy it too.”

Photo from Agatha's Christening Party, which Stefanie styled. Photo by Stefanie Schiada

Photo from Agatha’s Christening Party, which Stefanie styled. Photo by Stefanie Schiada

Stefanie recently planned her daughter’s first birthday and shared her experience and photos from the party on her blog. Since it was smack-dab in the middle of winter, and they live in New York, Stefanie came up with the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” theme, and beautiful decorations that fit perfectly with the theme.

“Don’t be ashamed to go over the top!  I love parties where you can see the host put a lot of time and effort into all of the elements and didn’t take the easy way out.  As a guest, it feels like you are part of something special.”

Thank you so much Stefanie for participating in this series! You can find photos from her travels and get tips here, and you can find party ideas here.  If you are looking for home renovation and design tips, just peruse all over her blog! And don’t skip this About page – it’s where she shares a lot of her tips and answers FAQs. Want an overload of inspiration – and adorableness? Check out her Flickr!

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Karen LePage of One Girl Circus!

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!

Project 2014

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

One of the biggest reasons for me starting my blog is that I had a lot of ideas and projects running through my head and was tired of searching for the random notebook I wrote them down in. I also wanted to connect with other creative people who could inspire and move me to work on all of those projects I’ve been holding off on, and I wanted to find new ideas to build on and grow from.

When I went to write my post today, I needed some inspiration. While I had a lot I wanted to say, I didn’t really know how I wanted to say it. So I ventured over to Oh My! Handmade to see what the monthly discussion theme was. Each month, there is a new theme for bloggers and creatives alike to use as inspiration for their businesses. This month’s theme was Project 2014: Choose Your Own Adventures. This felt like the perfect time to share a project I have been working on!

A couple years ago, I found a nonprofit art studio named Vox through Twitter, and I started volunteering for them. With a few friends, I helped organize one fundraiser for them called Art Speaks. It was a huge success and because of all the community support, it was a lot bigger than I had ever imagined. Unfortunately, Vox has run into some funding problems and will probably have to close their brick and mortar studio.

A little piece of Art Speaks

A little piece of Art Speaks

Luckily, creative people are always open to new ideas, and when we’re lucky, those ideas can turn into solutions. Before I found out about their funding issues, I brought up an idea of restoring furniture with children at their studio. It was something I would hope to get my daughter involved in when she was old enough. Since they will be closing the studio soon, we have decided to turn it into more of a mobile community studio, where can work with other organizations and involve more of a community.

To kick things off, we have come up with a fundraiser to help raise money for our new project, and to raise money for another nonprofit who is doing the same thing – Out of the Dark in the UK. While the fundraiser will be in-person, we are hoping to add an online component as well.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

The most important goals at the moment are:

  • We need a name for the fundraiser – something that implies renewal and restoration. That is our theme for the project and the fundraiser as a whole.
  • A location for the fundraiser – Since Vox is closing down soon, we don’t want to count on the studio as a venue. There are a few choices in Sacramento, and we want to work with an organization/company that we can continue to work with in the future.
  • A date – We need enough time to send info to local publications and get everyone involved.

There is a lot of work to get done, and I’m actually pretty excited about getting to everything. This is going to be such an amazing experience, for many reasons. I have wanted to get into community organization and promotion, so this will help me decide if that’s truly what I want.

It will also allow me to practice my graphic design more, and to use my writing skills to help get my ideas across. It will also be the first time that Kandyce and I will have a booth for Sweet Mariposa, so we will need to get everything together for that.

This will be a huge moment, not only for Vox, but also for my creative business. It will help guide me to what I really want to do, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

What projects are you working on? Do you want to get involved in my project? Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest, and you can e-mail me!

Weekly Wishes

weekly wishesSomething happened last week that hasn’t happened in a long time. I sat down and methodically planned out my goals and I achieved each and every one of them. Come to think of it, I don’t think that has ever happened! And I know what was different. I kept it simple. I made simple and meaningful goals that I really hoped to conquer, and then I just did it. I gave myself time for my blogging, my crafting, my baking, and most of all…the house, my daughter and myself.

Last week’s wishes:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog (Ok, this one I’m still working on)
  • Finish my cork board
  • Write on my blog daily
  • Start my coffee can planter project
  • Make one recipe from scratch
  • Practice yoga once 
  • Update products on Sweet Mariposa

I was able to finish the cork board that I have seriously been kind of working on since Summer. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I still love it. And now that I have the hang of it, I see a lot more cork/chalkboards in my future! Even though it took a super long time, I loved working on it here and there and having a big project looming over me. Made it all the more wonderful when it was done.

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All done!

I gave myself a couple hours to write out my blog daily when my daughter was napping. I’ve gotten in the habit of writing the next day’s post the night before, but since she has been staying up later, that has been difficult. I figure that if I give myself one or two hours of doing things I love, I’m much a more pleasant person to be around. So it’s for the good of my family that I do this.

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And I started AND finished my coffee can planter today! I didn’t even know it was possible to start and finish something in one day anymore. Luckily, my daughter happens to have a loving and amazing grandpa who will spend any moment he can with her, so he entertained her while I got stuff done today. I’m really going to miss him when we move!

While I didn’t make all of the ingredients from scratch (ain’t nobody got time for that), I did make three – count that, THREE – recipes from scratch this week. I know! Crazy, right? I made some delicious cookies and coffee cake for the house and then some cookies for my friend’s birthday. I was kind of amazed by the Betty Crocker I was channeling this week.

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And I finally practiced some yoga! It had been so long and I needed a good yoga session. I did some restorative yoga with Erin Motz and DoYouYoga.com right before bed, and my back popped the moment I got down to stretch. That’s when I was reminded of how much I needed it.

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And finally, I got to listing Kandyce’s items on our Sweet Mariposa Etsy shop! I haven’t had much of a chance to promote our shop, but I’m hoping to do more of that in the future. We have 14 items right now, and we’re hoping to reach 20 soon! Now that I force myself to save a couple hours for myself, I should get a lot more done!

What I wish for this week:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog – Still need to work on this.
  • Work on map tote - I joined a creative penpal collective but I suck at it. Really bad. So I still need to work on my gift that is long past due. I know, no more signing up for stuff for awhile.
  • Write article for Childhood Magazine - Now that the coffee can planter is done, I need to write the article and attach the photos. I’m so excited!
  • Make one dinner and one treat from scratch – As much from scratch as I can. We all have our limits.
  • Practice yoga twice - I need to keep it going and do one practice at night and one in the morning. I miss getting up and doing yoga every morning and I would love to get back in that routine.
  • Figure out a venue and date for the Vox fundraiser – I am planning a fundraiser for my favorite nonprofit, Vox. We are going to start restoring furniture with kiddos! We are in the works of planning a fundraiser/kickoff party so I need to work on the venue and date this week so I can start getting everything together. Hooray!
  • Start promoting Sweet Mariposa – Start posting on my social media sites and getting people excited.

Do you set goals for the week? If so, what are they? Join the Weekly Wishes link-up at Nectar Collective and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest to share and motivate each other!

Why I loved this week

Untitled-1Well, the time has come. My daughter has decided that her toys are way cooler than mom, and she would much rather hang out in her room and play with all of her cool stuff than hang out with boring ol mom. And while it’s a little insane seeing her grow up so fast, I’m relieved that she’s finally getting into all of her toys that take up every inch of space in that room, and I do have to admit that it is nice to get some things done around here. And I love hearing her in there, blabbing away and turning everything into a drum set.

This week, the Creative Collective started on The Nectar Collective, and our first prompt was to choose a word for 2014 and make something creative with it.

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I chose simplify because I really want to work on simplifying my life and slowing down a little. I have a closet full of clothes I never wear and it stresses me out every time I look at it, I have a craft closet that has gone complete bonkers with projects that I barely touched. I need to simplify my closet, simplify my crafts and simplify my routine. I try to do too much of everything, and end up falling short. I am slowly learning to focus on one goal until it’s done and move on from there.

I’m choosing to let go of anything that causes unnecessary stress, and zoning in on what matters. I’m choosing to allow myself some creative time every day, because I need it. I tend to get so worked up about things, and when it comes down to it…my life is pretty simple.

And so far, it has worked! I finished more by doing that than by trying to do everything at once. I finished my cork/chalkboard that I have been putting off forever and I was actually able to make cookies AND coffee cake this week. What the what?!

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The cake was so crumbly that I had to eat it with a spoon, which I was totally fine with.

I got to share Print Therapy‘s story this week, and I was so excited about how excited they were about it. When you write about someone else and their business, it can be a little nerve-wrecking. You are putting that person’s name out there, and it can be a truly amazing experience…or it can be horrible. Luckily, this was a particularly amazing experience. I also purchased this Valentines card from them, and I will continue supporting their business in the future. Because they’re awesome.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

meet the maker

And, finally. I got this package that I ordered from Wilderess, and I love everything about it. I got an apple scented 20 hr candle, two cinnamon chapsticks and they included a little tealight! It came with a cute little bag and was shipped with eco-friendly packaging.

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A Burts Bees devotee, I was a little weary of trying another chapstick, but I love these! And they’re less waxy. I’m definitely sticking with them. Sorry, Burt.

So, what did you love about this week? What did you get accomplished? Share in the comments and post a link to your blog if you have one! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest!

A Thrifty Project

Let me tell you a story about an old barn window. An old barn window that I got some time ago from my stepsister. An old barn window that all the glass fell out of, and I later learned that that glass was actually some kind of fancy antique glass. An old barn window that sat around and sat around, collecting dust and being passed up for more pressing projects. An old barn window that, after many paint jobs, sandings, and more paint jobs – has FINALLY been repurposed into a chalk/corkboard! YES!

Step 1: Procure old barn window

Step 1: Procure old barn window

First, I sanded this bad boy down before I could repaint it. I used an electric sander because it’s way easier than doing it by hand, and I like easier. If you are getting into restoration, invest in a sander! Or buddy up with someone who has one, like I do!

Step 2: Sand down procured window

Step 2: Sand down procured window

Obviously, I could have sanded it down completely, but that’s unnecessary. You just need it sanded down enough to paint another coat over it.

Then…I got the plywood from a home improvement store and had it cut there. I also got the backing there too, it was a thicker cardboard that could withstand being hung on the wall or any other beating it would take. I measured the plywood and painted half of it with chalkboard paint. The other half, I used spray mount to attach the corkpaper and the foamy backing.

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Note…I had to apply quite a few layers of chalk paint to get it thick enough to write on.

Then it sat around. Sat around while I completed all of my Christmas projects. Sat around while I laid on the couch, declaring that I was too tired after Christmas to work on anything for the next year or so. Sat around until I finally decided that I really wanted a cork/chalkboard and decided to finish it.

Raise your hand if you can see the gap

Raise your hand if you can see the gap

Here was one problem, though….the wood was too small and didn’t fit in the frame! There was a gap on one side! But my stubborn self decided that I would just put something over the gap to cover it. Now that it was time to put it all together… I found some old fabric that I loved and cut enough of it so it would cover the cork portion and I could pull it over to staple it to the back with a staple gun.

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Note: I used a craftsmart chalk pen, and to be honest….I’m not too excited about it. I’m going to look around for a better quality one. Please let me know if you know of any!

It was my first time ever using a staple gun (I think) and I loved it. I wanted to staple EVERYthing in the house! Then, I got over that feeling and continued. I stapled the wood to the frame so it would stay put, since it didn’t fit perfectly. Had it been measured correctly, I probably wouldn’t have needed to staple it down. Then I stapled the back on, and it’s done!

I’m waiting to attach a hanger to it so it can go up on the wall, or I might keep it on top of the dresser. Not sure yet. But I do know that I love it.

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What thrifty projects are you working on? Post a link in the comments and share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google + with the hashtag #staythrifty. You can also find more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest!

Meet the Maker: Print Therapy

meet the maker

Meet Melissa, 30, and Nicholas Wert, 32 from Longmeadow, Massachusetts. They are the adorable and creative couple behind Print Therapy, a handcrafted paper expression company, and I am honored to have them as my guests today. And how perfect (and not planned at all) is it that Valentines Day is officially less than a month away.

Melissa and Nick decided to start Print Therapy while Melissa was in a hotel room during a business trip. She still works full time as a project manager and has one foot in the creative world, one foot in corporate America, as she would put it.

“After several weeks of travel (for work, not for pleasure!) and too many moments of not feeling like my best was good enough and not being able to truly stand behind my work, I called Nick and said “Dang it! We’re starting Print Therapy. For real!” A few hours later, we registered the name and had filled out all of the legal paperwork.”

Melissa has both a Bachelors in Business Management and a Masters in Communication and Information Management. She and Nick started Print Therapy a year after she got her Masters. She admits that at first it felt like a waste – paying off a whole bunch of student loans after realizing that she wasn’t all about corporate America.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“But when I stepped back, I realized how much they would help me run my own business and handle the non-creative portion of my work, which I love almost as much as the creating!”

Melissa says that she wouldn’t rather work with anyone else, and that the secret to their success is working in separate offices. She adds that having her husband as her business partner gives them both an understanding of all the work they put into it.

” If one of us needs to take a break or step away from it for a while, then it’s totally okay. We both know that we each love this business and want it to grow, and that we’re 100% committed to that. Nick doesn’t get on my case if I devote an entire Saturday to Print Therapy or if I fall asleep on the couch at 8pm after a long day of work. We appreciate each other for the work we’re putting in – and make sacrifices together to keep it all going!”

Since Melissa is an early riser, she is able to get a huge chunk of her work done before anyone else gets up and the neighborhood is still quiet. She makes a cup of coffee, checks her email and visits the blogs and social media sites of her favorite creative people. Then, it’s time to handle business. Some days, she works on all the of business aspects and other days, she’s creating a new design.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“I am a methodical planner (hence my project management background), and have had to learn that you cannot plan creativity. It’s not something you can schedule on the calendar (yes, I’ve tried), or slot in a certain time of the day. When it happens, it happens.”

The upstairs spare bedroom of their 52 Cape doubles as her office, where she says all of the white space inspires her; yet the beautiful charm and character are her favorite. She has a desk, some storage racks, a Print Therapy design board and a Yoga Dogs calendar. Her only office mate is her dog, Sawyer, who is always hard at work on his comfy bed under the window.

“The bones of the room give me  a warm and fuzzy feeling…being surrounded by color would limit my design sense.”

While Melissa does get a lot of her home inspiration from Pinterest and creative inspiration from Instagram, she is most inspired by things that are not related to stationary at all, a nod to a subject she studied in College.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“I studied architecture in college before switching to business, and I tend to find a lot of inspiration in different architectural pieces and in interior design.”

Before Adobe introduced the Creative Cloud, Melissa and Nick were creating all of their cards on Microsoft Word (yowza!). After watching all the Adobe TV tutorials they could handle, they now use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign for all of their designs.

“It’s opened up a new level of creativity and confidence for me. We print most of our items at home, but are slowly beginning to work with a great printing company that prints out of California. They will greatly expand what we can offer, and can help keep our prices reasonable for bigger orders.  It’s hard to let a big piece of the business go like that, but we’ve found someone we trust and really enjoy working with, so … baby steps!”

Since both Melissa and Nick work full-time aside from running Print Therapy, they don’t get a whole lot of downtime. So when they do get a chance to unwind, they will get burgers or Chinese take-out and snuggle with Sawyer on the couch and watch a movie or catch-up on their favorite shows.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“As much as we love working together, getting to unwind together is even better! Both of our families are about 10 minutes away, so we love getting to spend time with them, too. We also treasure dinner dates with our closest friends – whether they be out to a restaurant or home cooked at someone’s home. Quality time together is where it’s at!”

For Melissa, being responsible for it all is both the best and scariest thing about running her own business. She loves having control over every aspect of her company, but also admits that it can get a little hairy when there’s not an IT Department or a paycheck, for that matter.

“You get to know yourself pretty well when you’re the one behind it all, and you have to learn to work within your strengths and weaknesses, and to push yourself farther than you thought you could go.”

When they need to buckle down and get to work, Melissa and Nick have different ways to get in the creative mood. Melissa will turn her workspace into what she calls a “safe space” and shuts the door, turns up the heat, lights a candle and turns up the emotional music. Nick, on the other hand, revisits the 90s with his musical choices. “Method Man, Wu Tang, all of it”

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“Nick often jokes how much I love sad music – it’s true! I feel most creative when I deeply, deeply feel something. To me, that’s the point of stationery – to put feelings into text and images that can be shared with someone else.”

And when there are simply no creative juices flowing? Melissa doesn’t force it, and just stops trying. She will start cleaning and organizing and comes back to it later. If there is still nothing, she will just start designing something and eventually the creativity will reemerge.

“Sometimes walking away is the best option though – becoming frustrated with the process certainly isn’t going to help that creativity to start flowing.”

And when there are design flops, Melissa has learned to not rush the process and to work on a design until it feels right. And if she doesn’t love it, she will not have that innate urge to sell it. And when she’s not jumping up and down to promote it…then maybe it shouldn’t be up for sale.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the trends and to try to make something because you think it will sell. But, if it doesn’t fit you and your brand, good luck”

Melissa loves the familiarity of the handmade movement and community, and loves how it feels like “we’re all in this together.” She has a lot of friends who run their own small businesses, and she feels inspired being able able to purchase items that help people support families, fund an adoption and give back to their communities.

“You just don’t get that feeling from a Wal-Mart. There’s nothing better than purchasing a product you love and knowing that that maker is excited by and appreciative of every purchase coming his or her way, and is using that money to live their life. Double whammy goodness.”

She discovered Oh My Handmade! while on Twitter when she was starting Print Therapy. She checked out the website, and ultimately decided that the small monthly fee was worth all of the support she would get from the online community.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“Through my OMHG membership, I’ve learned that I’m not alone and that everyone struggles. Everyone has off days. No one feels like a creative successful genius 365 days a year. It’s been eye opening for me, in the best way, and has helped me better accept myself as a maker.”

While Melissa agrees that starting your own business is incredibly tiring, she also knows how exhausting it can be to work at a job that you don’t love. So, she knows this is the right path for her, and if she does have children, she hopes it will be an inspiration to them.

“Every day that I look at Nick, and the family we’re building, I am inspired to go down this path, because it makes me the happiest person I can be. That’s good for me.”

Now that they finally have their website launched (yay!), Melissa hopes to work on a Wedding collection and add more “just because” cards to their shop. “Those are my favorite to send, and to receive, so I want to offer more of those as well.” Next year, they hope to move into wholesale.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“I hope to inspire people to do what they love, and to not feel constrained by what they think they should be doing or by what someone else thinks they should be doing. I hope to inspire people to find a partner to share their life with that fully supports their dreams and visions.

I hope to inspire people to rescue their next pet versus buying from a breeder, because man, rescue pets are the best. But mostly, I hope to just inspire people to tell someone else how they feel about them in a way that will always be treasured. Leave a love note, send a card. However they choose, I want to inspire people to tell those they love, that they love them. I want to inspire people to send happiness; from their mailbox forward.”

You can find Melissa and Nick on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you can order Valentines cards (like I did) and any other cards you like from their Etsy shop. If you would like to participate in this series – or know somebody who should – leave a note in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you want to be all private, you can e-mail me too!