Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The 2015 Holiday Ornament Exchange kickoff

I know, I know: it isn't even thanksgiving yet! But I have an idea, and it takes some planning, so we have to start early!

I would like to start a world-wide Christmas ornament exchange! This exchange will take place annually, each year on a different theme. This year's theme:

Home For The Holidays! 

This is inspired by my recently revived love of travel and seeing places, hence the picture of my most recent Christmas acquisition:

Here's how it works:

1. Decide you want to join in. I promise it will be fun, and can be a one time thing or on going, depending on how committed you want to be.

2. Send me an Email with an address for your delivery, and let me know if you want to be a "continuing giver" or  if a one time gift is more your speed. You can also choose to be a domestic (U.S. Only) giver.

3. If you're a one time giver, all you have to do then is make (or buy) an ornament and mail it to me, and I'll mail you one back. Done!

4. If you're a "continuing giver", I will pass your address on to the others on my list, and then you send an ornament to each of the,, and they will also send one each to you!

Does that make sense? Basically, give an ornament, get an ornament!

Now, when it comes to the ornaments themselves, there are only two simple guidelines:

1. Keep it PG. it's the holidays, y'all.
2. The ornament must be a representation of this years' exchange theme: Home For The Holidays! I'm hoping for ornaments that represent the place you either are currently living or the place that means "home" to you. I won't tell you what mine are going to be yet (spoilers!) but I will tell you that they are going to represent one of three places:
- Dayton
- the United States

I'm really, really hoping this will result in ornaments from all over the world and all over the country, and I can't wait to decorate my tree with them!

So with that, I declare the 2015 ornament exchange up and running! I'll continue to post updates and pictures, of course.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

When enough is enough

Hi friends!

Sorry for the break- but that's what today's post is about.

I'm not trying to make excuses, but I've been so busy. I've been blessed recently with an abundance of life- friends, social events, work, more work, vacation opportunities, you name it, I've probably got it. I've even had the opportunity for a few dates- no, I haven't accepted them.

And the results of all this activity? Mixed, to say the least.

I have loved reconnecting socially with people- old friends, a few new. It's been simply amazing to hear their opinions, laugh at their jokes and just enjoy the company.
And the work isn't all bad either- stressful, and always a learning experience. But there's been plenty of it, to say the least.

And it all leaves me feeling... tired. Stressed.

My dad talks about "noise" a lot. Not noise like the sound of the highway out my window, or the sound of the wind or the clicking of the ceiling fan as it goes around. But mental noise- the kind that gets in your brain, keeps you from thinking. The kind that you're hearing when you enter a place, and although it might be silent, you can't truly relax there. My whole life, I've wanted my home to be peaceful- quiet, so to speak. But recently, between one thing and another, that's been difficult.

This is a common problem in my life- I fill my life up with things until I threaten to explode. Stress is still stress, even when it's good stress. But this busy-ness? This is my addiction. The need to be occupied every minute of every day, from the moment I wake up until the moment I drop from exhaustion is poisonous. Dangerous. I'm very extroverted. I love people. I need people. But I also need time to just be. That can be with another person, but right now, it usually isn't. And while that's ok,  it isn't alright for me to not take the time I need to unwind simply because someone isn't there to force me to do so.

So how do I break this addiction? How do I change this cycle now, before I'm down the road 20 years and a confirmed work-aholic? All I can do is make small changes, one at a time. All I can do is say "Enough is Enough".

Enough of too many side jobs so I can't focus on my day job and I don't take care of myself
Enough of hanging out with people who don't bring me joy.
Enough of projects that are more stressful than they're worth.
Enough of letting people guilt me into doing something that I don't enjoy or simply don't want to do in that moment.
Enough of taking work "for the experience"
Enough of taking on so much I don't have time to grow as a person and professional because I'm too busy jumping every time someone asks me to.

But also:

Enough of holding onto people and things that used to bring me joy but don't anymore
Enough of sacrificing my health and well being to other people's motives.
Enough of thinking that if I do the "right" things, I'll get ahead somehow.
Enough of letting my life get so out of control that I don't have time to take care of myself and my priorities.

Enough is enough.

Until next time~

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Get Crafty: Nerdy Key Rack

Hi friends!

Thanks for tuning in for another post in my $5 Summer Series! I promise these won't all be craft projects, but I'm really feeling extra creative this week, so that's what we've got!

Today, I'm so so so! excited to share with you my Nerdy Key Rack! The tutorial is a little low on pictures, but I'll try to be extra clear about what I'm doing.


I know. Love it. Very proud of it. Ahem.

So, I've been a Harry Potter fanatic for most of my life (the first book came out when I was about to turn 11), and I've recently decided to add some of my nerd loves to my home decor. (So keep your eyes peeled, I have plans!)

Well, I promptly fell in love with this beauty:
Available here

But, I'm a little too cheap for $35. (Sorry Etsy seller who worked very hard on this!)

So of course, I DIYed it.

I started with a piece of 1/4" ply wood that I got the guys at work to give me. It was scrap from something, and they cut it down a little bit for me. My board measures 18" L x 6"W.

I brought it home and gave it 2-3 coats with my black chalkboard paint  I'm using this brand:
I got it at JoAnns around Christmas time, and I've been very happy with it. On wood, though, you want at least two coats. I'm not planning on actually using it to chalk things very often, so two-three coats were enough.

I let it dry overnight. I hate it when tutorials say that because I am very impatient when I'm crafting, but I wanted everything dry... and it was time for bed.

The next afternoon, I came back to it!

Very lightly, with a pencil, I drew a couple of reference lines: I put a vertical line four inches from each edge (so I knew where I wanted to write!) and then a line at 2" down from the top and one at center horizontally, so I had a straight line to write on, and a straight line to mark for my hooks.  Then I started at center and marked out every two inches until I was happy- I ended up with seven hooks, which is probably too many, but it looked right on my board.

Next I lightly traced out my lettering. I freehanded it, but stencils would work really well too! I did them in pencil first, and came back later to finishing them off. 

Next I took some 1" cup hooks and screwed them into my board. This took a little elbow grease, but not actually very long. One caveat. If I could do it over I would use a 1/2" thick board- my screws are coming through onto the back side and I'm going to have to find a way to trim them off the back now.

Once those were screwed in tight, I gently blew away the small amount of sawdust they had churned up and used my sharpie paint marker to trace the letters over. Mine is white, but as with the paint, any color would work, really. I traced over a few times, being careful not to stop too often, as it leaves a little blip in the line.

Finally, I went back with some qtips and black paint and got rid of my pencil lines. Yes, I probably could have erased it, but I didn't want any of it to be smudgy or pink from erasers. 

There! The hard work was done! It looked great! I was so pleased.... now how do I hang it up?!


I got out my picture hanging kit and dug around. I started with two nails, and then found two tiny eyebolts. I screwed them carefully into the top edge of the board, about 2 inches in from the vertical edges. (approximately over top of the out side screws). Then I took about two feet of picture wire, wrapped one end around each eyebolt and twisted several times, being sure to hide the raw end.

Then all I had to do was put a nail in the wall and find my keys!

Best part? It was cheap cheap CHEAP. My only purchase was the hooks, and they were $4.21 for FIFTY. (So... anyone need a key rack?)

The board I got from work... so... free!, and the paint and marker I had left over from some other projects. The wire and eyebolts were from a picture hanging kit I got from Lowe's after my last move. And pencils and rulers hardly count!

To recap:

-One board. I got some scrap from work. They also sell premade plaque thingies at craft stores, or the hardwarse store will usually cut something down for you! Mine measures 18x6". You want something at least a half inch thick.
-Paint of your choice. I like my black chalk paint.
-Paint marker in contrasting color
-1 inch cup hooks. I used seven.
-2 small eyebolts
-Small amount of wire or hefty string
-paint brush ( I used a 1.5" foam one)

1. Paint your board. 2 coats is a good rule.
2. mark out some reference lines over your paint, and trace out lettering
3. screw in your cup hooks
4. Use paint marker to draw out letters
5. touch up any paint. Let dry.
6. screw eyebolts into top edge
7. string wire or string in between them
8. Hang and enjoy!

Enjoy! Let me know if you have questions in the comments! And don't forget to check out the other $5 Summer Series posts

Until next time~

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Get Crafty: Boho dreamcatcher wreath

It's summer time!

Summer always makes me long for flower crowns, maxi dresses and good music. I always want to bring the outside in, and hit the road.

I have a pretty wide hippie stripe and summer busts it wide open.

And, of course, I'm always full of house projects. So today I'm bringing you a crafting tutorial:

My Boho dreamcatcher wreath!

(someday, maybe I'll get into pretty photo editing on this blog. But it is not this day)

As usual, I was mega inspired by Pinterest... I mean, with pictures like these, what's not to love?

Bright, beautiful, laid back...

evocative of Summer, definitely.

And then, I had a thought: A dream catcher wreath for my upstairs front door!

A little more pinterest searching led me to this image:

And I was hooked. So I did some googling, and bought a 12 inch grapevine wreath at Jo-Ann's ($4.99). I pulled out some embroidery floss and some ribbon and I got crackin'.

I tried to tie the top 'web' part together... but I couldn't get the hang of it. And then I found the above video. I'll admit, the girl hosting it drove me slightly insane, but she does a great job with the tutorial! I didn't need it until about 1:30, since I was using my grapevine as the hoop part. .

After I finished the web part, I simply tied my ribbon scraps along the bottom, and then trimmed them to a length I liked. Then I simply hung it on a nail from my front door, and, well, I love it!

So, to recap:

12 inch grapevine wreath ($4.99)
embroidery floss in color of your choice (white is traditional, I used multi colors that I already had on hand)
ribbon scraps, beads, feathers, trims etc.

1. Watch the video and make the "web" part
2. Tie on your trims, scraps and beads
3. Trim the ends until you are pleased with them
4. Generally fidget all of the pieces. I tied a bow and added a piece of trim I'd pulled off of a top for a show I was working on
5. Hang and admire!

Thanks for reading- until next time!

This post is a part of my Summer Series: $5 Summer fun. For more posts in this series, please start here

Summer Series: $5 Summer Fun

Hi friends!

Summer is finally here! I may not be in school anymore, but there's something special about summer. It makes me want to try new things, take on different projects, go places, eat yummy food... (ok, I always want to do THAT!)

But you know what's a downer? Blowing the budget because of your summer plans.

So (drum roll please) presenting my Summer Series: $5 Summer Fun!

All Summer long, I'll post things that I'm doing that are costing me $5 OR LESS. Craft Projects, hikes, meals, day trips, etc.

I have a ton of ideas, but I want to hear from YOU! What are your favorite inexpensive Summer plans? If I try them out, I'll post about them!

In any case, I'll link to all of the series posts from this one, so check back often to see what I've been up to!

The $5 Summer Fun series posts:

A couple of caveats.
  • cost only includes money spent specifically on that project/activity/event. Grocery staples, previously purchased craft supplies & gasoline do not count.
  • Occasionally if I do something super awesome that's a little more expensive, I might post about that too.
Ok, cool? Cool. I can't wait, this is going to be fun!

Until next time~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day hike

Hi everyone- and Happy Memorial Day!
A big thank you to all of you who have served or are serving in our armed forces. That isn't an easy life, and we appreciate your sacrifice.

Today, I had a day off. No show requirements, no costuming requirements, and no work. My first one in nearly six weeks. I could not have been more excited! My plan was to go for a long hike this morning, get some laundry done, prep for the week and relax at home.

But when I woke up this morning, it was raining! First Penelope let me sleep until after 9:00, which is pretty much unheard of. Eventually, we got around and hauled the laundry to Momma's, scoring some lunch in the process (thanks!).

After lunch, the skies cleared up, and about 2:30, we headed out. I had decided to go over to John Bryan State Park, which has some good hiking trails, and also an entrance to Clifton Gorge. Turns out pets aren't allowed in the gorge, so we didn't get in there, but we had plenty of lovely sights in John Bryan! We hiked almost 4 miles along the Little Miami River. It turned out to be a lovely day, and Penelope was an ANGEL the entire time... here's a few pictures.

 This is a tiny, disgusting, murky swamp-pond. Why is it in my pictures, you ask? Because this is the site of the burglary almost three years ago. When my car was broken into in July 2012, the thieves threw most of my things in this pond, and Mom and I climbed in after it- I haven't been back out here since, so it seemed fitting to take a picture!

I tried to get us to take a selfie, but Penelope wasn't really having it. Clifftop climbing!

 See? She really wasn't having it. However, she did so well while we were out today that a failed selfie is a small price to pay! She didn't bark or fuss, and she didn't get overly excited about any of the dogs we passed while we were hiking the trails.

 We even found a cave! I really wanted something magical to be inside, but I only found graffiti. Still, it was pretty cool, and an awesome site for future pictures of something, I'm sure!

Penelope made a pretty rad trail leader, and, as you can probably tell, she was having the time of her life, bless her.

It was so nice to get out for a few hours, reconnect with nature. As I walked, I could feel the tension and anxiety draining out of me from the past weeks. The trails were fairly busy, but there were long stretches of time where I couldn't even hear another person, just the trees whispering to each other and the occasional bird call. What a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. We stopped once for a water break, and we didn't hurry, just walked at a fairly comfortable pace. I would love to be able to make this more of a habit! There are lots of good hikes in this area.

As for John Bryan itself, I really enjoyed the trails. The paths were neat and well maintained, the park is easy to find, and the trails mostly connect so it's pretty difficult to get too lost. Also, it's really lovely. Lots of huge exposed rock features, the river rushing by... just incredibly scenic. And it's all in the trees, so it's very shady!

After we were done, we drove back through Yellow Springs and stopped at The Corner Cone, a little outdoor ice cream stand. We both got some vanilla soft serve in a cone- they do a "doggy cone"! They keep the broken cones and add a little vanilla ice cream, then give them to dogs for free! This last picture is of Penelope munching on her ice cream- I held the cone for her and she ate it all up, before wolfing down the cone itself. Loves ice cream, just like her mama!

Bonus- she's EXHAUSTED. She's been basically asleep at the foot of the bed for the last 4 hours- the house will sleep well tonight!

Hopefully you got a chance to enjoy the great outdoors today! What's your favorite summer time activity?

Until next time~

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mango relish

Hi friends!
Sorry I went dark on you there for a few days! The show opened- it's going very well, and I'm enjoying it immensely, but it has completely absorbed me for the last week.

Unfortunately that has included some relapsed eating habits. However, I was still down about a half pound to a pound this week, and it's That Time of The Month (yurgh), so I'm giving myself a pass on some of it. This week I'm looking forward to hopping back on the wagon, so to speak.

Tonight, however, I wanted to share with you all another recipe that I developed earlier in the week. I used it to top some baked porkchops and fresh asparagus- incredibly tasty and turns an average meal into a super quick and easy "people are here for dinner" meal. Best of all- the whole meal was ready in less than 45 minutes- and that includes all prep! Now that's my kind of recipe!

Pictured above: Baked pork chop, fresh sauteed asparagus topped with mango relish.


-boneless thick cut pork chops
-one large mango
-onion (yellow or red) ( I used two small)
- 1Tb minced garlic
- asparagus
-olive oil
-garlic salt
-one lemon (for juice)
-2 Tb tangerine juice

I started with the pork chop. I put them in a 9x9 baking pyrex that I'd drizzled some olive oil in. I add some salt, garlic powder and pepper to both sides and popped them in the oven for 20 minutes at 425. (I ended up cooking them for about 25-30). While they were cooking, I chopped up the mango and onion. I added some olive oil and the onion to my favorite flat bottomed skillet with a little salt and a heaping spoonful of minced garlic. After a minute or two, I added the mango to the pan and let that cook, stirring occasionally. Then I added the lemon juice and a splash of tangerine juice (mostly cause that's what I had in the fridge). I let the whole thing cook down until the onions were getting translucent before removing it from heat and setting aside.

Lastly, I added some olive oil and a touch of bacon grease to my griddle. I chopped the stem ends down on my asparagus, set them on the hot griddle and cooked them for a few minutes, rolling them over about half way through. When one of the thicker ones was easily speared by a fork, I removed them from heat. Then it was just a matter of plating and enjoying!

If I make the relish again, I think I would try to use lime juice and add some chopped cilantro to it, which would be very tasty. But I didn't have it and I didn't really miss it, either!


Talk to you soon!