Cheap and Awesome Mother’s Day Gift!

How was your Mother’s Day? Ours was great! I told Jason that what I really wanted was to go to a park for a picnic and playing on Saturday (because Sunday was jam packed!), and then we went for ice cream. It was Clark’s first ice cream cone. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the boy has had plenty of ice cream — just not a cone to himself! He loved it!

Even better, every time he took a bite, he wanted to wipe his face off with a napkin. He’s not a tidy kid, but once he saw us use a napkin, he had to be a big boy and use one, too!

So, I know it’s after Mother’s Day, but I had to wait to post this fun gift idea because my mom can see my posts, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise!

Both my husband and I are full-time students right now (since I had to quit real estate for the past few months due to family obligations, which without getting into too much detail, involved taking care of my grandmother after a high-risk surgery) and we’re living on very, very little but we’re pretty darn happy and learning that less is better, anyway. But when it comes to gifts, it’s pretty stressful. This time around, we had way less than I wanted for a Mother’s Day gift for our moms, so I had to come up with a creative solution.

Both of our moms are crazy for their first grandchild, so I thought back to the portrait cameo Sherry @ Young House Love did of Clara for her room – it would be the perfect gift! I set to work on a cameo of Clark for our two lovely ladies. Total cost for this project was somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 each for both the frame and matte from Hobby Lobby (during the 50% off frames week). I had the professional matte photo paper at home and fully-loaded ink cartridges from my normal Etsy order stock already.

Here’s where problem after problem happened.

First, I couldn’t get my Nikon to work again (yes, for the millionth time! but it’s working now off-and-on for some weird reason) so I had to take a cell phone pic. That meant that I had to erase the background in Photoshop by hand instead of using the magic eraser tool because the lines between the subject and the background weren’t crisp enough. And I’m not a steady eraser because I don’t have the luxury of a pen tablet. Sigh.

Mistake #2 – I tried to take a picture of my crazy mobile toddler with my cell phone camera and NO ONE TO HOLD HIM. What was I thinking??? It’s why it’s more of an angle shot, meaning you can’t see his lip profile! Creepy no-mouthed baby pictures ensued.

So, all-in-all, for the problems I had, it turned out really cute! But since my Nikon is working temporarily, I’ll recruit my awesome-sauce husband to hold the wiggling boy and take a better shot to replace in each frame. And Momma-Bear-in-Law, you’ll be getting your copy when we visit this summer since I couldn’t figure out how to mail the frame with glass.

Crafty Crafty: Modified Date Night Jar

We’ve all seen this awesome date night jar on Pinterest (click on image to follow to original post):

I absolutely loved the idea because often, we either don’t have the money for a formal “date”, or the time, or when we do have both we can’t decide what to do! I aimed to make this project as cheaply as possible, so the only thing I purchased was the set of craft sticks. In making my Date Night Jar, I washed an empty chocolate milk mix container. It was the perfect height to hold the craft sticks and even a baggie of extra sticks that we haven’t written on yet. I didn’t do anything super fancy (and maybe will in the future when it’s not stashed away in a cabinet), so I covered the container in scrapbooking paper and wrote on it with a Sharpie. After all, the theme is DIY on a very small budget!

I opted for the small sticks instead of the large ones for two reasons: the came in more colors (for adding more categories later) and they came in a much bigger pack for the money. Sure, they fall over sometimes, but it helps randomize things.

We also don’t necessarily draw them at random. Sometimes, we simply pick out all the sticks of one color and choose something that we haven’t done for awhile or that sounds interesting to us. I’ve written the categories on the back as a reminder.

And just to help you find some date ideas, here are some (but not all) of our sticks, by category.

Orange: At Home

Yellow: $ to $$

Green: $$$ + and prior planning

Quick Tip: Start a Rock Collection

I don’t know about your kids, but my son loves rocks. It’s something totally natural to him – he loves to pick them up and carry them around all over the place. Rocks were one of the first things he stopped trying to eat because he loved them so much. So this weekend, I decided to start letting him collect very special rocks by making the very first rock for his rock collection.

I picked this smooth stone from our large gravel patio as the perfect candidate to paint. It’s got a smooth surface for his name, and it’s big enough that if he did start eating rocks again, he couldn’t get the whole thing in his mouth. It’s funny how much differently you look at things as a parent!

Next, I just painted it very simply. I picked a light blue (almost the same color as the stone itself) and a bright red for the decoration. I’m not very adept at painting, haha, so I knew from the get go that it wouldn’t be a work of art. But Clark absolutely loves it and loves pointing at each letter as we spell it outloud for him over and over and over. It’ll be one of those silly things that I hope he’ll hold onto forever and make for his kid one day. It’s so simple and cost nothing since I already had all the materials on hand. Try it for your kids and let me know if they love it!

Fun Button Down Shirt Refashion

Let me start this off by saying that I’m not the best seamstress and that I won’t have specific dimensions posted today for those of you who need that kind of thing. I’m the cook that just throws stuff in and the seamstress who cuts and sews without measuring (which is why quilting never works out for me). But if you are willing to take a little bit of a chance, you can have a fun new shirt idea to add to your collection!

I decided to take on this project because, well, I’m fat and my arms don’t fit in traditional button up shirts. Even when I was normal sized, I always had bigger arms (although originally this was due to muscles from spinning rifles and flags) that hated button ups. And, let’s face it, button ups by themselves are pretty unflattering on just about every woman that has some sort of curves or they are just too plain to wear without some sort of cardigan.

We have a few higher-end consignment shops in the area so I found a great deal at Strut on a shirt that I thought I could live with while only spending just over $5 (because, hey, I’m cheap!). It’s a tailored three quarter length with ruffles on either side of the buttons.

The cardigan I had in mind was my new favorite yellow that you see popping up everywhere. I scored the cardigan off the clearance rack at Dress Barn with a gift card just after Christmas but only had one shirt that I really thought would go with it. When I found the button up in question, I loved the little pops of yellow but I also loved that it was complementary instead of matchy-matchy since the predominant color is pink.

To start off, I decided to add some off-white ribbon behind the ruffles. I made it so that you can barely see the ribbon, but when I move, it helps define that there is some kind of detail on the front of the shirt.

To attach the ribbon, I just pinned underneath, lifted the pleated ruffles, and sewed. Super easy and I didn’t have to be careful with the stitching since no one can see it 🙂

Yes, I am that pasty. No, I can never tan despite how hard I try. Next, I took the sleeves off my shirt. Now, I could’ve cut the sleeves right off, but I HATE hemming so I decided to rip the stitches and surging out. Yes, this took a little while, but it was totally worth it later.

I flayed open one of the sleeves after I removed them (for you skinny folk, you might need both sleeves here but I had plenty of fabric with one). I cut a rectangle approximately 10 x 9…

… and then cut it in half (to leave two 5 x 9 rectangles).

Next, I folded the fabric hotdog style and ironed so the seam would be sharp. Then, I slowly pleated my fabric and ironed each pleat as I went.

Finally, I pinned the pleats on the top of the sleeve hole as kind of a cap sleeve. I didn’t really need this as it served no purpose, but I liked the more finished look it brought (to make it not look like a summer tank top) and the carryover of the pleating from the ruffles on the front. I sewed all the way around the sleeve for the hem (which was easy to do because of the way I ripped the stitches instead of cutting) and everything was finished!

Not too bad for my first try ever, eh?

Oh, and I had my hair recolored and a new cut done! Love it, wish pictures did it justice 🙂

Easy Peasy Valentine’s Decor

I wanted to find a cute, easy way to dress up a mantle for Valentine’s Day, but I had two parameters: it had to be cheap, and it couldn’t be all pink (yuck lol). Digging through what craft stuff I have easy access to in our current small living space, I dug out two blank 4×6 ivory cards, some post-it notes, highlighters, and a pair of scissors.

(Don’t you love the old media shelf that I use as a craft tray? Ah, pressed wood haha.)

I cut the cards in half on the seam and wrote the letter/symbol that I wanted on each card in a corresponding color to the post-it I wanted to use. Notice that I messed up the heart proportions, but because I was going to cover it up with post-its anyway so it wasn’t a big deal.

I cut only the adhesive strip of the post-its off and kept the paper-only part to use with pushpins on my bulletin board so it didn’t go to waste. I then cut the adhesive strips into small, irregular pieces of varying sizes and shapes and placed them over the highlighted areas. I tried to make sure that it was as imperfect as possible!



Once I finished all four pieces, I went on a hunt for a frame. I thought about doing a single frame around 8×10 but I’m cheap and found four silver frames with a matte included. Sure, there was an obnoxious “woof” imprint on the glass, but at $1 a piece, I just removed the glass and called it a day. They are 5×7 frames so if I want to purchase panels of glass from Hobby Lobby later, I can do it cheaply and easily.

Here’s the final product (in crappy lighting, on a dreary day, with a really old point-and-shoot on a tiny mantle that isn’t mine) from a few angles. Not to shabby for a grand total of $4!