Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fab Friday Sketch

I've been in a bit of a card making rut this year. I recently had a couple of occasions to give out some handmade cards at work and was reminded how much I enjoy sharing and personalizing the cards. This week I enjoyed trying out this sketch from Fab Friday:


I was originally inspired to use my Morning Meadow and Simply Sketched stamp sets with the ruffled ribbon after seeing Stacey's card.

Here is my card:



Supplies Used:
Cardstock - Whisper White & Smokey Slate
Paper - Blushing Bride (exact pattern retired)
Ink - Blushing Bride & Costal Cabana
Stamps - Simply Sketched & Morning Meadow (Hostess sets)
Embellishments - Tea Lace Paper Doilies & Costal Cabana Ruffled Stretch Trim
Tools - Paper Snips, Stampin' Sponge
Order supplies anytime at http://saragrafton.stampinup.net

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Growing Up

The events of the past week are starting to make me realize how much Alex is growing up. On Thursday I registered him for kindergarten. Even though he will not start until August, it still feels like a big step.

Alex saw his first movie at the theatre today. We all enjoyed The Lego Movie. For a variety of reasons, we've had extra limitations on Alex's screen time and had not found the right opportunity to take him to a movie until now. We went with two of John's co-workers and their kids, so Alex wanted to sit next to the other kids instead of next to his mom and dad. Sigh. He enjoyed the movie and the popcorn and is becoming more independent.

We are grateful for the mild weather in the Bay Area. We walked to the movie theatre and stopped at the park on the way home. After a little hesitation, Alex slid down the big pole at this playground.

After The Lego Movie, Alex built this space ship at home by himself:

Alex's fifth birthday is quickly approaching and that will be another milestone. Sigh. But really, "Everything is Awesome."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Small Cottage & One Car?

When I think about minimalism, I think of Tammy Strobel's tiny house, which share shares with her husband and cats.

I think of The Minimalists and pictures of this apartment.

Also many words come to mind: simplify, freedom, security, clutter-free, less stress, more time

I've found a podcast about simple living that I really enjoy called Simple Life Together. They even read one of my comments towards the end of episode 57. I wonder if we could eventually live in a small cottage like the ones designed by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Could we live in 557-884 square feet? John and I shared a car for the first three years of our marriage, and I wonder if we could do it again in the future.

For now, I take little steps. This photo is from some recent kitchen cleaning and decluttering. Somehow I usually make a big mess to get things cleaned and organized. Why did we have so many spatulas?! (I recently donated four bags of clothes and household items, and we now only own a couple of spatulas.)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Happy Birthday to You

I participated in a card swap last month with the Fun n' Crafty Stampers to share card ideas with new supplies from the Stampin' Up! Occasions Catalog. I chose to use the Another Great Year stamp set. I love both the large Happy Birthday stamp and the cute little cupcake stamp. The Fresh Prints Designer Series Paper Pack became a fast favorite. Also, the Banner Punch is free now through March 31 with a $50 order. I made 8 of these cards to swap:


Instructions
1. Cut Whisper White card stock to 5½ x 8½ and score and fold to make a card base
2. Cut Real Red card stock to 5¼ x 4, the Costal Cabana card stock to 5 x 3¾ and another piece of Whisper White card stock to 4¾ x 3½
3. Stamp “Happy Birthday To You” with Crumb Cake ink on the smaller piece of Whisper White card stock and color in open letters with a Costal Cabana marker
4. Stamp the cupcake with Real Red ink on a scrap of Whisper White card stock and color in stripes on the bottom with the Costal Cabana marker
5. Punch cupcake with the circle punch and add it to the stamped image on dimensionals
6. Adhere the stamped piece to the Costal Cabana card stock and then to the Real Red card stock
7. Punch banners from the striped paper from the Fresh Prints pack.
8. Adhere banners to the card with dimensionals and add the Whisper White Bakers Twine
9. Adhere finished piece to the card base

Supplies
Card stock: Whisper White, Real Red, Costal Cabana
Ink: Crumb Cake & Real Red
Marker: Costal Cabana
Stamps: Another Great Year
DSP: Fresh Prints
Punches: 1 Inch Circle & Banner
Other: Whisper White Bakers Twine, Stampin’ Dimensionals

You can see more samples from the Fun n' Crafty Stampers on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nwstamper/fun-n-crafty-project-samples/

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another Blog Post About Minimalism

Based on our reading referenced in my last blog post, John and I started taking steps towards saving more money and simplifying our lives. One step was to limit our eating out. We packed more lunches and cooked at home more often. For John, his packed lunches involved keeping bread, peanut butter and jelly at his office. He can get free apples at work to add to his lunch. He does still go out to lunch about once a week with his teammates.

For me, I realized that I enjoy cooking at home when I make time for it. My packed lunches include leftovers, salads and sandwiches. Overall, I go for variety. We had a few family meals out in January, and we enjoyed them more. Now they are a treat. We enjoyed one dinner at our favorite local pizza place, Cicero's and eating at Burma Superstar in Oakland for the first time while visiting John's brother.

We also stopped all spending on our credit cards, especially the reoccurring payments. Even though we do not carry a balance on them, it is too easy for charges to creep up on credit cards. You forget about all of those little charges until you go to pay the bill. When February 1st rolled around, we did not have balances on our credit cards. We had two less bills to pay and that simplified our lives.

We took some positive steps in January and will continue to work on our spending this month. We live in an expensive part of the country and that will be part of our journey towards minimalism. Since this is my second post about minimalism, this is starting to become a blog series. I will label all of these posts under Minimalism. Thanks for reading, and please share your money saving tips in the comments.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Defining Minimalism

I have been reading some frugal blogs on and off for years. I've had random thoughts about saving money, living with less, and happiness floating around my head for years. Last week I read a blog post that really resonated with me: http://www.theminimalists.com/pitch/

Here is my favorite part: "Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist life. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life."
-The Minimalists (who also happen to be from Dayton, Ohio)

We downsized two years ago to move to the Bay Area of California. It was for practical reasons since we expected to have a smaller apartment or house here. We live with about 600 less square feet and are debt free. We sold our house in Texas and do not plan to buy in the crazy Bay Area market.

Now I am digging deeper and reading more about simply living and minimalism. I really dove in to some reading on January 1st. We had a really long travel day after being rerouted to miss the snow in Chicago, and I needed a new book to read. I started with Tammy Strobel's book, You You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too. I read most of the book in one day and loved it.

Around this same time, my husband started reading a blog called Mr. Money Mustache. To put it in terms that my son would relate to, he is a money and retirement superhero.

There are so many resources and ideas out there, especially in the age of blogs and e-books. Any favorite frugal, simple living and minimalism books or websites to share? I think that I am just scratching the surface...