Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I've always wanted to use the phrase "Sui Generis"....

Sometimes genius, beauty, and thriftiness collide to create a cosmic craft baby of such illustrious amazingness that I get all confuddled and flabbergasted that said baby was not conceived of before. Or at least from my brain anyway. I'm sure others have created such sui generis before but this creation tickled me pink and I am normally not a fan of the shade.

Confused? 
C'mon! I love me some Johnny Flynn!!

Check out this squawking newborn! (...as in cosmic baby...have I lost you yet??)


This blue crystal cupcake stand was perfect for my nephew Ryker's 2nd birthday party. It was ABC themed with bright colors and in lieu of a traditional cake we made cute cupcakes with ABC chocolate molds on the top. We realized that we didn't have a place to display the 48 cupcakes so to the $0.99 store we went!

Of course we kind of had an idea as to how to make a cupcake/cake stand as we are avid Pinterest followers and a crafty friend of ours had made a stand using bowls and plates a few years ago. We picked up these colorful vases for....wait for it....$0.99!


Next we picked up these plastic "crystal" patterned plates. We chose a large 11" plate to serve as the base to our cupcake stand and a smaller 9" plate to be the top. Both plastic plates were also only $0.99.


We used hot glue to attach the plates to the vases and Voila! A beautiful cupcake stand for a measly $2.97 plus tax. I don't know if you can beat that price!

Here is the cupcake stand again. 

Here is the green vase stand loaded up with the cupcakes for Ryker's 2nd birthday party.
What amazingness have you created from the $0.99 Store? Do you get a thrill like we do when you create Sui Generis while saving money? (LOL, okay, I had to throw just one more in!)

Happy Crafting! :)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pom-tastic!

Hey all! It's been awhile, I know.... summer = vacation.

Summer also = birthday's. My sons birthday is coming up and I have alot of ideas I want to implement. First off, I have quite a bit of tissue paper, gift bags and scrap-booking stuff that I never use. I decided to put what I have to use instead of going out and buying decorations.


One of the things I wanted to do was the tissue paper pom-pom's you see all over Pinterest. The tutorial I found was from Martha Stewart and let's just say it is pretty lacking in info. You can find the tutorial HERE.


It is a good start and if you have tissue paper the exact size she uses then you are set. It will come out really well. It will not come out like the picture no matter what you do!!! It really wont. The still look great though. :)

Start with 8 sheets of tissue paper of matching size. If they don't match in size then cut them to match. This is the fun part cause you can use all your random pieces of tissue paper. 8 is a good amount to make the ball puffy so that you dont see the middle. 10 might even be better but is not necessary.

I decided to make this one yellow and white. I haven't made any yellow pom-pom's yet and it will lighten things up a bit. I had to add white to it because there wasn't enough yellow to get to the 8 sheet minimum. I love just using what I have!

 The sheets were too big as they were, for my purposes. I think if you were to do that big of a pom-pom you would probably want 16 sheets. Anywho, I just cut the long, yellow ones in half. I then cut the white sheets to match the size of the yellow.

After you stack them neatly it's time to get your string ready. You can use whatever you want to tie them together. The Martha Stewart tutorial says to use wire, which is a good idea, but I didn't have any. So I decided to use good ole' fashioned thread. I tripled it up to make it a bit stronger to hold the pom-pom together. I get that ready before the next step.

Accordion fold the 8 pieces. I do each pleat about an inch or so. They don't have to be perfect, you wont be able to see any mistakes. As you can see my ends don't meet perfectly and my paper is cut a little ragged. It all washed out in the end. Feel free to trim it up if it bothers you!


The first time I made the mistake of folding the paper horizontally (long side). The pom-pom has to be a rectangle and you HAVE to fold the paper vertically (short side) to get a nice tight poof. I made the mistake of folding it the long way and got a loose mess. Although maybe that is the look you are going for....whatever.....everyone has different styles!!

After you are done folding, bend the paper in half to get the center. Then insert the string through the middle and double knot it.



 Nice thing about this is, if you want to, you can just cut the string after you are done and reuse the paper. I think this paper is destined for the recycle bin after the party. :)

 Now that you have the base of your pom-pom formed you need to cut the ends in order to get a design. You can leave it if you want to save time and clean-up. Some round the corners, some cut zig-zags, I did a simple point. Easy.

 Almost done!!  Fan out the pom-pom. And start carefully pulling the tissue apart. Also if you haven't done so already, cut the thread to the length you need it. I always go super long just in case.

How I do it is to first separate the pom-pom from the middle. 4 sheets to the left and four sheets to the right. Do this to both sides.


I then take two sheets at a time and separate gently. I do this all the way around. Finally I get down to seperating individual sheets. 4 then 2 then 1! It seems to help with tearing. I tore a whole lot of pieces but due to the nature of this beasty it doesn't show.

The most important part in the end it to gently frouf it. What is frouf you ask? Well to me it is taking the pom-pom in your hands and patting it all over till it is round in shape. This step really shapes it!


There you have it! Glorious pom-pom's all made with stuff you probably have on hand. It probably takes 10 minutes to create each one.


Has anyone else out there made any pom-pom's? How do you like the idea of just using crinkly old tissue paper?

Best natural acne treatment

Acne sucks and there is no magical potion for it, because there are different causes for it and different resolutions. I've struggled with acne since I was 16 years old, and being almost 24, that's nearly 8 years of trial and error with acne products. 
But if you've tried everything, at least you know you tried. I'm going to tell you a couple different methods I've tried that actually worked. (T've tried EVERY product on the market that you can buy in stores or order online, including ProActive and every single acne face wash and lotion you can imagine.)

First off, the very first doctor prescribed acne treatment I ever used was called Benzaclin.

I was 19 years old with severe/moderate acne and it took my acne from severe to mild in about 6 months. The side effects were really bad, making my skin peel and flake from dryness. 
Nevertheless it did it's job, and I didn't cry anymore from the pain of the acne and redness all over my face. My skin made a total turn around and looked noticeably clearer. My breakouts weren't so bad and my skin eventually needed less and less product. 

Eventually I stopped using that product, and only used it during bad breakouts. Then I stopped using it all together. For a year or so my skin regained it's natural moisture, stopped peeling, and my breakouts didn't come back. 
And then around the age of 21, my acne came back and started to get bad again. I couldn't afford Benzaclin since I lost my insurance, and so I decided to just try to get through it with drug store products. 

Nothing worked until I found Dickinsons 100% Pure Witch Hazel.



Now, I have used witch hazel before. But never pure witch hazel, and never for this amount of time. I used it for a week or so before I noticed a difference. It is the absolutely best acne treatment with the least amount of side effects. There are NO side effects that I have noticed and works BETTER than my expensive and drying Benzaclin. I bought it on a whim at CVS and use it twice a day with a cotton ball and it has improved my skin so much. 
But one thing to keep in mind: Witch hazel works best as a preventative acne treatment. That means you mostly use it to prevent acne from happening. Existing acne disappears with time, but the most important thing is keeping your skin from getting new acne.

My current skin care routine is gentle face wash, witch hazel, and lotion. Surprisingly, since I have started using witch hazel as a toner, it doesn't matter what lotion I use because the witch hazel protects my skin from breaking out. 

But I have used the exact same face wash since I was 19. It's called Purpose gentle cleansing wash and it has never failed me. 







No matter what those retarded face wash commercials tell you, you DON'T NEED acne face wash. Every item in your skin care routine should NOT have a harsh acne product in it. Your face wash should take off your makeup, oil and dirt. That's it. Spot treatment and preventative toner is key.

Your entire skin care routine can be free of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide and you can have clear skin. Because benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid don't PREVENT acne and that is what my years of acne struggles have proven. You have to find a product that works before acne forms. And 100% Pure Witch hazel is the only one that has worked for me. I sound like an advertisement but I was truly amazed. It's a little stinky, but you'll get used to it. 




Have you ever had acne? Had severe was it? What products worked for you? 






Monday, July 9, 2012

Burnt Mill Road Trail

I should start off by saying this is not a trail guide and I would not suggest you follow my routes. This is posted only to share with you what we did, it is not meant to be followed. Before going on your own off road adventure do your own research.


With that said, my husband and I like to explore our local mountains which make up the San Bernardino National Forest. There are several lakes in these mountains which make it a nice summer destination for desert folk like us. The largest lake is Big Bear Lake, followed by Silverwood Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Lake Gregory. On a side note, Kevin and I are hopping to save our pennies next year so we can buy a pontoon boat to take to our local lakes. That would be so much fun! :)


While the lakes are fun-and the towns surrounding them-we like to go off the beaten path. I'm not really into rough terrain and 'testing the limits of our Jeep' as my husband is. However, I do like heading off the paved roads and finding little secluded spots or hidden streams. It always feels like an adventure.



In Hesperia, CA, head south on Arrowhead Lake Rd., until you reach 173. Head west on 173. Continue west until you reach the 138 then take that south. You will notice Silverwood Lake to your left and will wrap around to the back side of the lake. There is a nice sized turn out where you can park your car, walk for a bit, take in the crisp air, and take some pictures.

Once the 138 turns south and you start winding your way up the mountain (roughly 1/2 a mile) you will find a trail. In the winter it is closed but in the summer you can take your off road vehicle-we took a Jeep Wrangler-down this trail. It is not too bumpy and you really don't need any special driving skills to manuver this well maintained trail. 


Just getting started on the trail, these beautiful yellow flowers line the dusty road.


Why do we love this trail so much? About half way down the trail, there is a little secluded corned of the trail where the trees overhang shielding the sun, and a small waterfall trickling over rocks makes it's way down, crossing over the trail at one point. The sound of the running water is very therapeutic and relaxing. Kevin and I refer to this as 'our' spot.

This is where the water crosses over the trail. We have seen it almost impassible so be careful. This is my husband Kevin and our 2 year old Atticus.



We named these rocks The Butt rocks. Appropriate, no?
Our Jeep.

This is the little pond at the bottom of the waterfall.


The butterflies were en masse, it was quit a sight. 
Overall, all this trip cost us was a few bottles of water, some crackers, and gas in our Jeep. I feel like seeing the 'back roads' of our land will teach Atticus of its value; to keep it clean and take care of it. Knowing that our local mountains have these little gems makes me proud to be a part of this community. Living in the High Desert is not always pleasant (and I'm not referring to the climate) but having the ability to explore makes it a whole lot better!

Do you like going off-roading? What hidden areas have you explored where you live?


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thrift Store Exposé Part II

Hello party people! Just trying to get the mood up on this lovely Tuesday.

Whew! To much excitement for me, let's get down to business.

The second thriftstore in town I decided to visit was Goodwill on Seventh Street in Victorville.

14580 Seventh Street
Victorville, CA 92395
(760) 241-3079

Not bad! A good storefront finally! Parking lot is large and well maintained. It is in an older shopping center but the whole building is in good repair. (Plus Dollar General is just a few stores down!)

Donations are dropped off in the back of the building so that was a nice difference from Salvation Army. Not so hectic walking up. Click HERE for the Salvation Army review.

When you walk in the front door you are greeted with a sign specifically telling you what is on sale that week. They also have baskets for your items.


l will start off with their discount schedule because it is really what I was hit with as soon as I walked in the store.

DISCOUNT SCHEDULE:

Goodwill does weekly color discounts. Every Saturday a new color is chosen for the following week. They cycle through all colors in the same order! If you have an item you really want you can come back and get it half off on that item's color discount week.

An example of how they color tag their items. 

They will also periodically have certain items get an extra 25% off. The week we went it was long sleeve shirts. I assume it is because it is because they want to move certain merchandise faster.

They do not do any bargaining, pricing is as is. They seemed extremely firm on this.

Here is a link to the Goodwill Return Policy. It is a pretty good policy. Most likely you return something you will get store credit.

That's that. Goodwill pricing is pretty straightforward. What you see is what you get. At Salvation Army two similar shirts could be two different prices. Not so for Goodwill. All short sleeve tops are going to be the same exact price.

This Goodwill location is extremely organized.


As you can see the aisles are clear plenty of room to walk and most importantly plenty of room for a stroller! That made it convenient.

Even better, they have dressing rooms. I can't stress enough how awesome it is to have dressing rooms. I want to make sure I'm not wasting my money. I put a couple of items back because they did not fit. So I guess dressing rooms can save you money!

See there under the menswear lettering? That is the men's dressing room. There is one on the opposite side for women. Nice!

We found tons of stuff we loved! Unfortunately all the stuff we loved was not on sale.  Most of the Green Items were already gone. I think the best thing to do is to go on Saturday or Sunday early in order to get the best pick of the current color discounts.

These are just a few of the things we loved but were not on sale. The pink plaid shirt/dress was $7.99! I just couldn't do it. The thing to do would be to maybe take a picture of the items you loved along with the color tag and come back on Saturday to see if it is on discount (and still there).

 We also discovered that some items have special prices. Dresses are all normally $7.99 but this dress had a tag for $29.99. It seemed their "fancy" stuff was always marked a little higher.

Goodwill keeps all it's furniture, nick-nacks, books and luggage in the back of the store. Here is it definitely more cluttered, which is why they stick it in the back most likely. It is easily to navigate all the items though because like items are grouped together. There were some definite good finds back here!

The desk on the left was 29.99 and was in pretty good shape. I could see it as a refurb piece.  The cabinet in the upper right corner was brand new and $99.00. I would keep coming back until it was half off then you would be getting a great bargain!


Booksection was small but packed full. Stacy found several things she was interested in. The motherlode came in the nick-nacks section.


I mean...c'mon.....the Gandi quote brand new??? Stacy snatched that right up! The pictures of the little girls are kinda scary but have really sweet sayings that we thought if you reframed them they would look adorable in a little girls room. 





Goodwill had a large selection of jewelry. There was some good stuff in there!

One thing that makes me happy to spend my money at Goodwill is that they put the money back into the community, and they hire from the community.This location has a career center. I love programs like this. They had alot of staff on hand constantly cleaning and restocking items.

So this is what I left with:

In order from left to right: army colored capri's, dark skinny jeans with embellished pockets, a black skirt, a brown plaid skirt, a t-shirt for my niece, a copper plate and a silver charger.

I really love the things I found. The copper plate is going to add a bit of texture to the plate wall art I am making. I have been collecting silver pieces to display on the top of my cabinents, so the charger will fit right in. It was $5.00! I recently went to an antiques store and found the same one for $20.00 so I definitely got a bargain.

Grand Total: $26.00

All in all I came away with some good stuff. I didn't get as good of deals as I did at Salvation Army but now that I know the discount schedule I think I can do better if I go on a Saturday or Sunday.

I have to admit....I did go back for something that had caught my eye. Remember this:


I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wrestled with the thought of refinishing it the whole time we were shopping. It was so unique and I loved the detail on the legs. Looks like a perfect chair for a pirate, eh? It was priced at $14.99. I left Goodwill without it. :(

Then I went back and grabbed it!


It is now sitting in the corner of my dining room and has become a cat sanctuary. I can't wait to refinish it and put some new fabric on this baby! So I spent a little more this trip but it was worth it. This will be a one of a kind piece when I'm done with it and for $14.99 you can't beat it!



How do you feel about Goodwill? Would you pay more for used items knowing that the money was going to a good cause? Has there been any items you have gone back for?