Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Five Frugal Things

Wow... It's been a while since I posted! Maybe I will write a more in-depth update, but for now I will start with Five Frugal Things.

I have been reading some frugal living blogs, which reminded me that I like blogging about things other than just cards. I have been reading The Frugal Girl and The Non-Consumer Advocate, who regularly posts her list of Five Frugal Things. Here is my list:

1. I sewed the holes in Alex's socks to get some more wear out of them. His feet have been growing like crazy, so he may just need bigger socks soon.

2. I returned a $44 pair of designer jeans to TJ Maxx since they would have needed alterations to fit well. I found a $6 pair of almost new crop jeans at Goodwill instead. These are actually a good option for fall since it is still hot here.

3. I continue to check out books from our library instead of purchasing books.

4. I am still driving the first car that I bought in the fall of 2002. It runs well, but it is not looking as good these days.

5. Even better, some days we ride our bikes around instead of driving.

I found a couple of new-to-me blogs this week to add to my frugal reads. I recommend the Frugalwoods and 1500 Days.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Craft Updates

In June, I started a separate paper crafting blog at to post my cards, projects, and updates from Stampin' Up!.

In July, I joined the design team for the Stampin' Stylin' Inspiration blog. I am honored and excited to join my first paper crafting design team. I am contributing about 4-5 projects per month to this blog. The team is very talented and the blog includes new inspiration 5 days at week.

I will still post general family and personal updates and ideas to this blog. I also post to Instagram and Pinterest.

I am really enjoying my time with Alex this summer, and I hope that you are having a good summer!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday Recipes

It is barbecue season, and we attended 2 recent events with grilled hamburgers. It was so easy to bring along some veggie burgers for the grill! Everything else being served was already vegetarian, and I enjoyed these get-togethers with friends.

I tried 2 new recipes recently. This quinoa salad from Mind Body Green was delicious for dinner, and the leftovers were great for lunches. This vegan chocolate pudding from Minimalist Baker is really rich and easy to make.

Have a great week!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meatless Monday: CBLT

The first tomatoes are ripening from our garden.

I wanted a vegetarian BLT, and I made a batch of coconut bacon. The recipe is from Joyful Vegan, and I really like it. I do have to carefully watch these in the oven so they do not burn.

Here is my yummy "CBLT" made mostly with ingredients from the farmers' market and our garden.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Masculine Card with New Colors

I love the new 2015-2017 Stampin' Up! in colors. The Delightful Dijon and Tip Top Taupe are great for masculine cards. Plus, Tip Top Taupe makes a nice, neutral card base. I created this card for the Fun 'n Crafty Stampers monthly card swap. Jennifer Blomquist leads this group of stampers from all over the U.S. Our card swaps are optional, and they are one of my favorite ways to stay involved with the group.

Tip: I used a Stampin' Write Marker to ink of part of the "birthday wishes" stamp in the Build a Birthday stamp set. Markers are a great tool for customizing and stretching your stamps.

Supplies Used:
Big Shot
Hello You Thinly Dies
In Color Card Stock
Whisper White Card Stock
In Color Markers
Build a Birthday Stamp Set
Extra-Large Oval Punch
Decorative Dots Embossing Folder

If you are interested in building a stash of quality, coordinating craft supplies and being part of a fun craft group, then you should consider joining Stampin' Up! in June. You can build a business or do this as a hobby. The starter kit (for $99) offers your choice of $125 in product, free shipping, and 2 free stamp sets in June. You can learn more here or contact me for more information.

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June Blog Hop

Welcome to the June Fun n' Crafty Stampers Blog Hop! We are sharing some NEW Stampin' Up! products with some of our returning favorites. I have two cards to share today.

First up, I have a picture of the newest Stampin' Up! catalog, which is my favorite in my 6+ years as a customer and now demonstrator with this company. From stamps to inks to kits to Project Life, there is a variety of wonderful crafting products and ideas in these pages.

Stampin' Up! is known for color coordination, and it is fun to see the new set of "in colors" each year. I adore these new colors and played with my Stampin' Write Markers recently to make this sign.

This first card I made features a new stamp set (Build a Birthday) and new washi tape (Cherry on Top).
The Build a Birthday stamp set is a lot of fun to use, especially with washi tape. This card came together quickly and I like mixing the Watermelon Wonder and Pool Party card stock.

For the second card, I used some of my favorite returning stamps.
I was really excited to see the Watercolor Thank You continue into the next annual catalog, and I recently added Flowering Flourishes to my collection. I also used some of the new Watermelon Wonder card stock and Cherry on Top washi tape.

Don't miss the other stops on the hop & thank you for visiting my blog!

Fun & Crafty Blog Hop

Jennifer B. of Northwest Stamper

Tobe B. of The Craft Sea

Susan S. of Stampin' By The SF Bay

Pam W. of Stinky Tofu

Sara G. of 1200 Some Miles

Monday, May 18, 2015

Meatless in Monterey

We just returned from a weekend in Monterey, California. I had no problem traveling with my omnivore family and staying meatless. We rented a cottage with a kitchen, so we ate about half of our meals there. We brought a little food with us and made a trip to Trader Joe's. As a treat, I think that the Trader Joe's Coconut Milk Chocolate Ice Cream cannot be be beat! It is really rich and delicious. Is not not low calorie or low fat, but it does have less calories and fat than a serving of regular ice cream.

Before the trip I bought the Happy Cow App to help research veg-friendly restaurants. We played our meals by ear, but it was still nice to have this tool. Our first meal in town was at the Sand Bar and Grill. John wanted seafood, but I was still able to find a meatless and delicious pasta dish. It had olives and capers for a nice flavor. Our view of the bay and boats was fantastic.

One of our favorite Bay Area chains is Ike's Place. They make a huge variety of sandwiches, including vegetarian and vegan options. Alex and I split a "Meatless Mike" since the sandwiches are large.

I was impressed with the cafe at the Monterey Bay Aquarium even though it is a bit pricey. I was able to find a veggie burger and plenty of other meatless options. They had menus out that shared their vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

The food was just one part of this fun trip! I will share more pictures from our trip in a future post.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Easy Vegan Waffles

My husband made whole wheat vegan waffles for Mother's Day, and they were a hit.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 pinches of salt
4 TBSP sugar (I can find vegan sugar at Trader Joe's.)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup plant milk
4 TBSP vegetable oil (I may sub apple sauce for some of the oil next time.)
Makes approximately 12 small waffles

We enjoyed our waffles with some veggie bacon and raspberries from the farmers' market.

(Recipe adapted from Spark People.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

TGIF Challenge

I enjoyed making a card to enter into the first TGIF Challenge. I love the color combination of Crushed Curry, Calypso Coral and Pool Party!

I was so happy to see that the Kind Koala stamp is not on the Stampin' Up! Retiring List. I wanted to use this cute stamp again and decided to fussy cut the cute koala from some Crumb Cake card stock. I used a blender pen to add some Crumb Cake ink to the ears. The blender pen also allowed me to add Crushed Curry ink to the flower petals.

I originally intended to die cut a Crushed Curry oval to layer on my card until I realized that I am out of Crushed Curry card stock. Another easy way to add a pop of color is to ink the edges of your card stock with the Stamping Sponges.

Here is my finished card:

Supplies Used:
Stamp: Kind Koala
Card stock: Pool Party, Calypso Coral, Whisper White, and Crumb Cake
Ink: Black Staz On, Crumb Cake, and Crushed Curry
Tools: Blender Pends, Big Shot, Oval Framelits, Polka Dot Embossing Folder, Stamping Sponges, Scissors, Trimmer
Accessories: Pool Party Baker's Twine (retired) & button (from the Everyday Occasions kit)

The new Stampin' Up! catalog goes live on June 2, 2015. Based on the demonstrator preview, this is my favorite catalog in my 6 years of stamping. If you do not have a demonstrator and want a free copy of this catalog (US only), feel free to email me at

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Around Here - April 2015

Here are some of our pictures from April 2015:

Alex enjoyed an Easter Egg Hunt and then we headed to the East Bay for a yummy vegan brunch with family at Sanctuary Bistro. I managed to avoid eating milk chocolate Easter candy this year!

We continue to have mainly vegetarian & vegans dinner, and recently I made vegetarian chili with "Happy Herbivore" cornbread. I found a vegan cheese that I like on grilled cheese sandwiches. It takes a little longer to melt than dairy cheese, but it fulfills my grilled cheese craving.

Alex and I planted a little garden during his spring break. We need to add a little more dirt, but I am happy with the fabric container. It will be easier to move in the future and holds a tomato plant, a blueberry bush, and some strawberry plants. We planted spinach, summer squash, and carrot seeds. We also have a couple of herb plants.

On April 25th, we headed to the first ever Oakland Veg Fest and had a great time. We enjoyed yummy food, free samples, and inspirational speakers.

Happy May!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are easy to make and taste great. I adapted the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
4 ripe mashed bananas
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray or line a muffin tin.
2. Mash 4 ripe bananas and set aside.
3. Mix all of the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips
4. Add in the wet ingredients and stir.
5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Fill each muffin spot about 3/4 full.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
8. Cool & Enjoy!

We are not big egg eaters, so I do not often have eggs in the house. I love baking with bananas since they are a binder and taste great. I got 16 muffins from this recipe, which was enough to share with friends. What have you baked recently?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Cleaning

I spent some time decluttering this week and am happy with the results. My latest efforts were inspired by this book (borrowed from the library).

One of "Konmari's" central ideas is to only keep the items that spark joy. I said this in a tongue-and-cheek way to John when I started reading the book. It sparked his curiosity, so he also read the book. She recommends that you start by decluttering your closet, and John donated many extra clothing items.

While Alex was a day camp during his spring break, I found the time to tackle my clothes. I have been decluttering my closet as we've moved, but this was my easiest session. The ideas in the book really helped me let go of items that no longer fit, items that are worn out, and items that just did not spark joy. My side of the closet is pictured below (for now my swimsuit is hanging.) I also have 3 drawers in our dresser. I currently like all of the clothes in my closet, which was not the case in the past. My shoes are on a hanging divider and my bags are nested in the bottom of the closet.

A lesson from The Minimalists also helped me purge my closet. They write about how many items that we own can be replaced for under $20 and in less that 20 minutes. I confirmed this with a pair of jeans. I donated a pair of jeans last fall before we moved because they were too small. After changing my eating habits this winter, I bet they would finally fit again. I was able to find a similar pair of Levi's jeans in a lighter color at Goodwill for $8. Now I don't regret giving away my smaller jeans, and I donated my jeans that are too big. There are also online sources for used, name-brand clothes such as thredUp and Twice. My first order is on it's way from thredUp with a shirt for me and shorts for Alex.

I am going slightly out of order from Marie's recommendation in the book, but I wanted to declutter my craft supplies this week. I was able to sell some stamp sets online, recycle some scraps, and start my donation pile. Here are items ready to ship out to new homes. My pattern paper and card stock stash are finally contained.

It has been both a productive and relaxing week. How is your spring going?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Card: Tic Tac Toe & Birthday Challenges

At the beginning of this week, I received my order from Simon Says Stamp and found this challenge from The Paper Players.

I chose the three items across the middle and really wanted to use the Lawn Fawn Year Five stamp and matching die. I have done more coloring in the past month inspired by Kathy's 30 Day Coloring Challenge.

Here is how my card came together:

I am also entering this card in the Simon Says Happy Birthday Challenge. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Pho

I have been fighting off some form of allergies or a cold for the past two weeks, and in my dad's words, "I am sick enough to be cured." Once it turned into a suns infection, it was time to get some antibiotics. It was also helpful to get some soup, so last night John took us to his favorite Pho restaurant. Alex and I had not tried this Vietnamese dish yet even though there are lots of Pho restaurants in our area. I ordered the Vegetarian Pho (with tofu) and loved it. I am finding lots of tasty vegetarian and vegan options at local restaurants. Alex and I are both getting better with chopsticks.

Happy Meatless Monday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Blog Hop

Welcome to the Fun 'n Crafty Stampers Easter blog hop! I do not usually buy Easter stamps, so the Crazy About You Bundle and the Oval Framelits Dies were handy for making an Easter card. (Upon writing this post, I realized that the oval frailest are not currently available from Stampin' Up!. Due to strikes on the West Coast ports, a few items are not available.)

I adhered the Gold Soiree Designer Series Paper before die cutting my oval. I continue to use the Decorative Dots Textured Embossing Folder and the In-Color Sequin Assortment on many cards. The Stampin' Write Markers are also a versatile supply to have. I colored directly on my rubber stamp with the brush tip of the Strawberry Slush marker. After stamping Easter, I traced over the letters with the fine tip to help them stand out on the card.

I am loving the Crazy About You Bundle from the Occasions catalog. It is fun, versatile, and easy to use. For the thin dies, place wax paper between the die and the paper to keep it from sticking. I adhere my script words with a little Tombow liquid glue, and the 2 Way Glue Pen also works well.

Through March 31, you can earn a free Sale-A-Bration item for every $50 of merchandise you order from Stampin' Up!. Purchasing the wood or clear-mount Crazy About You Bundle will automatically earn a free item! I have the clear-mount version of the stamps and really like them.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and make sure that you hop along to all of the other fabulous posts!

Tobe B. of The Craft Sea

Sara G. of 1200 Some Miles

Jennifer B. of Northwest Stamper

Pam W. of Stinky Tofu

Monday, March 23, 2015

Meatless Monday: For the times that I do not want to cook!

I have been cooking more dinners since I left full-time work and especially since adopting a plant-based diet. (I wrote a post last summer when I left my job, but I am overdue on for an update, including my observations from "kindergarten lunch duty.")

But some days I do not want to cook dinner. Here are a few meatless options that we've enjoyed:

We really like the Trader Jose's soup. The Creamy Tomato Soup is vegetarian and the Butternut Squash appears to be plant-based. (I need to find a vegan recipe similar to the Trader Joe's Tomato Soup. It needs to be creamy and a bit sweet and not seasoned with basil. This is my new challenge for another post.) While homemade soups can be healthier than packaged ones, I do appreciate the convenience of just quickly heating up some soup. The Trader Joe's website has a list of all the products that are completely vegan.

I was recently stumped for an easy dinner option and walked by Amy's Roasted Vegetable Pizza. I really enjoyed this find and it was on sale at Target! I have surprised myself by not really missing cheese on my pizza. The Amy's brand products are all vegetarian and some are vegan.I have liked everything I've tried from this brand and can often find their Indian wraps on sale at Safeway.

While I strive to eat less processed food, I appreciate seeing plant-based and vegan products in the grocery stores for when I need a fast and easy option. What is your favorite quick meal?