Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What a great year!

With just a few days left in the year, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what I've accomplished and am thankful for in 2014.  I feel like this year has been really epic for me.  I started my business and have already watched as it has changed and grown.  I've had lots of fun adventures with family and friends and at least one that involved me stepping way outside of my comfort zone.  I've had some amazing friendships with people who seriously keep me sane.  It's truly been such an excellent year and there is one thing that absolutely stands out as most amazing- getting to spend time with my brother, Jamie.
He's that handsome fella next to my handsome little Benny and he is seriously the best big brother a gal could ever ask for.  We have had more time apart in our lives than together, but I've always felt close to him. There were times growing up when I felt like he was the only one who could possibly understand things I was going through and often I felt like we were all each other had.  Jamie has had a less than ideal life, one that is exponentially shittier than he ever deserved.  He's absolutely the kindest person.  He cares and worries about others, a quality we share to a fault.

This year we have been fortunate to share more time together than we probably have shared in the past fifteen years.  I've gotten to visit him twice!  And he's come home to visit several times.  It has been so cool to see how much alike we are in so many ways, qualities we likely inherited from our dad, I've loved seeing him finally living a life he deserves, and it has been absolutely the best to see how over the moon my boys are for their uncle.

I'm looking forward to more opportunities to visit Jamie in 2015 and more time to chat and be silly and reminisce about good and not so good old times.  Let's hope next year is even better!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Music to Ring in the New Year

I never understood the hype behind New Year's Eve.  I get that it's the last day of the year, but in movies and on TV shows and even with many people in my life, there's always so much pressure to have the perfect evening.  And don't forget having someone to kiss at midnight.  I'm not much of a party gal, so I guess that's probably why I don't get it.  I will be home with my hubby and with my boys.  I think we will cook something fun for dinner and then play some board games.  Doesn't that sound perfect?  No fancy party, no cocktails, and we will probably be asleep before midnight.  I doubt I will even know the musical acts performing on the televised countdowns.  I noticed some of the songs on this list are a little depressing.  Maybe if this darn holiday was less of a big deal, these songs would be happier!  They are good, nonetheless, so enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day!

I know we don't really celebrate Boxing Day here in the US, but I have friends in countries where it is observed.  For those who don't know, Boxing Day was traditionally the day churches opened up their donation boxes for the poor in order to distribute the contents.  Servants were also typically given off on this day, so they could celebrate with their families.  I like that it was a helping holiday.  A search for images related to the holiday have pretty much given away that it has turned into another excuse for big sales at the stores, but I think it should be a good reminder that as you are enjoying your gifts, those tasty holiday leftovers, and the warmth of your comfy home, there are those who do not have such luxuries.

I'm taking this time to encourage you all to do what you can to help those who are less fortunate.  That doesn't always mean just giving money or donating items.  It could just be spending some time listening and talking with someone.  I recently made Donnie stop and get some food for me to take to a homeless man along one of the interstate exits.  He was touched by our kindness and seemed pretty happy about the food, but I think what meant the most to him was that I stood and talked to him.  I listened to his story, asked where he was from, and held his hand while he thanked us.  We tend to keep to ourselves these days and ignore everything outside of our own little bubble.  We make snap judgments without learning people's stories.  Sometimes even a smile and a hello can make a difference!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to each and every one of my amazing readers and friends.  I hope everyone has a wonderful day full of laughter and love!  We will be opening gifts, watching the Disney parade, and filling our bellies with delicious treats.  xo

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Magic Kingdom

I'm actually really glad that I am just now getting to the Disney photos, because they are a great reminder of our vacation and enjoying some warmer weather.  We only visited two of the Disney parks this time, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  The boys were overwhelmed with excitement during the entire visit to both parks, but especially at Magic Kingdom where they got to meet Buzz Lightyear and Donald Duck and lots of their other favorites.  I loved experiencing the park with them.  I think because Donnie and I were forced to go at a slower than usual pace and because our little guys were so excited, we enjoyed our time at Disney more than ever before.  I took loads of photos, so it was difficult to choose my favorites to share with everyone!
Donnie and I have always stayed on Disney property, so we have never had to park our car and take the ferry.  This was a new view for us and an amazing first view for the boys!
Seeing everything decorated for Christmas made the park seem extra special and lovely!
We loved this part of the park, especially because we got to meet Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy!  And there were plenty of rides for the boys!
Fact: Everything tastes better when it's shaped like Mickey Mouse!  My children and I can verify this.
It's A Small World is my very favorite ride at Disney World.  It is by far the cutest and I'm certain that it resembles the inside of my mind.  
The boys loved the Dumbo ride and the wait area includes an indoor playground, so bonus points on that one!
The amount of detail and extra touches Disney puts into everything just simply amazes me!  I wish I could find a replica of that little owl clock that hung in one of the restaurants!
There aren't even words to describe how beautiful the castle looked after dark.  It really was breathtaking!  I thought I would do this post ahead of time, because hopefully I am nowhere near a computer or phone right now and am enjoying some quality time with my family.  Happy Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Is it just me or did the holidays come extra quickly this year?!  I haven't really been too bothered with buying gifts, because we've been busy enough without the stress of shopping.  I am looking forward to a very short work week and lots of time with my guys and other family.  Our home and my office are both looking super festive and we've started taking our evening drives to check out lights and decorations.  I'm hoping to spend Christmas Eve baking and crafting with Donnie and the boys.  I think we need to make that a tradition!  And now, a little clip from my favorite Christmas movie.  What's yours?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Shop Update

After what seems like a lifetime, I have finally updated my shop with all of my leftover stock.  The last month has so busy, so I actually looked forward to this downtime in front of the computer.  I may have even stayed in my pajamas today too, because clearly one needs to be comfortable to update a shop!  I won't be adding any new stock until after the new year, but I really can't wait to get back to work in my craft room.  Click the link at the top of my page to see what goodies I have left!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hooray For Happiness!

It's definitely no secret that I struggle with depression and anxiety from time to time and I've posted about it being pretty bad recently.  Well I finally had this a-ha moment and it was all so clear.  My birth control was playing a part in my awful moods!  I realized that on the weeks that I was taking a larger dose of hormones, I was miserable.  I was having unexplained anxiety, something I've had in check for a long time, and I was having some really low moments.  At my lowest, I deleted all of my social type apps and was prepared to just sort of shut myself off from some really great people in my life.  After spending quite a bit of time researching birth control effects online, it felt good to have some validation and to know that I wasn't alone in my experiences.  I sat down with Donnie and told him everything I had learned.  He told me to stop taking it right away and I didn't hesitate to listen.  Flash forward to a month later.  I am doing so well!  No crazy severe PMS symptoms, no depression or anxiety, and no migraines (another crappy side effect!).  I really feel like my old self and I can honestly say I haven't felt that way in ages!

I have lots more to share about our Florida trip, but I wanted to take a moment to share this really important piece of my life right now.  I haven't consulted my doctor about my choice yet, but I felt like this was one of those situations where I just needed to do what felt right for me.  Let's hope I can keep up this happiness business.  I know it's always something I will have to work for at times, but I think it will be easier from now on!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blue Springs

The last time I visited my brother, he talked about a springs where they go to see manatees and alligators. We didn't have time to get there on that visit, so we made sure to make time for Blue Springs on this trip.  I don't recall ever seeing a manatee in real life, so I was really excited about it.  Driving into the park that morning, we were told that there were about 160 manatees in the area.  What an amazing experience!  The water really was a gorgeous clear blue and there were so many manatees just floating about.  There were lots of other great wildlife too and the park itself was just so lovely.  I can see a repeat visit on our next trip to Florida!  I should really shut up now, because the pictures speak for themselves!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

South of the Border

I've never minded the long drive to Florida, because there is always lots to look at and tons of places to stop along the way.  One of my favorite things about the drive has always been the attention-getting signs for South of the Border and,of course, the kitschy attraction itself.  Did you know this attraction actually got its start in 1949?!  I'm actually a bit surprised that in today's ultra politically correct society this place still survives.  Its mascot is Pedro, a quite stereotypical character, and there is everything from an ice cream parlor to a hotel on the property now.  I think what gets me is that the place hasn't really changed much since my childhood when my family stopped there on our way to Florida.  The boys enjoyed all the giant statues and ice cream, so it was well worth the stop!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Handmade Arcade

This past Saturday was Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh.  I've been working like crazy to get lots done for my very first craft show and was feeling super excited to see everything all set up.  Heidi came along to help and we left late Friday morning, so we could take our time getting there and hit some thrift and antique shops along the way.  I'll have to show off those finds later!  Heidi is the best helper, by the way, in addition to being the very best road trip partner.  She was awesome at helping me set up and break down and regularly organized my table and kept it looking good.  She has been awesome through this whole thing, actually, offering lots of encouragement and suggestions.  I'm pretty sure I have her to thank for even applying in the first place!
Jessee made me the super cute banner!
How great is the doll face display my grandpa made me from scrap wood?!

The show was great and was seriously such a positive first experience!  I really enjoyed interacting with customers and hearing and seeing the reactions to my doll faces.  People ranged from completely enamored to totally creeped out.  I had lots of older women asking where I was even able to find those faces and some of my other vintage supplies. I really loved it when someone would get a little nostalgic over the faces or cake toppers.  It was a long day and one that I spent a lot of time preparing for, but it was also oh so worth it!  I got to meet a few Instagram friends, something I always enjoy, talk to so many sweet people, and sell lots of my creations.  I wasn't sure if selling at a show would be my thing, but I really can't wait to do it again!

I will be listing my leftovers on my Instagram shop for my followers to have first grabs and then I will put everything left in my shop!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Guess who??

November certainly flew by and without much blogging.  Here we are already into December and I am realizing that I really need to do some catching up!  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already have a good idea of what I've been up to and the most recent previous blog post pretty much sums it all up as well.  Now that all of the madness is over, I am looking forward to getting back to blogging and relaxing and actually enjoying this wonderful time of year!  Since it is Monday, I will leave you with a song for now!

This is Paul Baribeau and I really cannot get enough of his sweet voice and music.  Go listen to all of his music, especially his album of Bruce Springsteen covers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November Already!

Can you believe that we are already headed towards the end of another year?!  This year has flown by and November is shaping up to be a pretty busy month, so I thought I'd share some of the exciting things going on.  This Friday Donnie and I will head to Baltimore to see Andrew McMahon, which I previously mentioned in this post.  It's been awhile since we've been to a show, mostly because we are too tired to deal with crowds and long drives and staying out late.  We used to love seeing bands, but alas, we are getting old!  This venue has some seats, probably for parents, but that is where you will find me for the show!
The most exciting thing about this month is Thanksgiving.  Turkey and stuffing are pretty darn awesome, but I'm referring to where we are spending the holiday.  We are headed to Florida and are spending the holiday with my brother and his family.  I cannot even begin to express how thrilled I am.  I've been counting down the days for the last month and a half!  I had such a great time on my last visit and just seriously love spending time with my brother and sister in law.  And did I mention that we will be taking the boys to Disney World?!  I think Donnie is probably most excited about that.  It is the most magical place on earth, after all.
And finally, I have something exciting coming up in December that I will be spending all of my free time working on.  I am doing my very first craft show, Handmade Arcade!  I applied back in September and didn't really expect to get in, so I was pretty surprised when I got the acceptance email.  I actually asked Heidi if she somehow pulled some strings to get me in!  She assured me that she had nothing to do with it. She is going to be coming along to help me and has been such a tremendous support, along with Jessee.  I text them fairly frequently with questions and ideas.  Thanks, gals!  I'm completely nervous, but super excited!  If you live nearby, please come see me!!  Here is the info-

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Put A Bird On It

I'm pretty sure I did a bird related post previously.  I really like birds, though, so here is another!  Happy Election Day to my fellow Americans.  I hope you've done your homework, educated yourself, and are voting today!  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Musical Monday

I was pretty amazed by T-Pain's voice and musical skills on this video.  For those who aren't familiar, T-Pain is an artist who is pretty well known for his use of auto tune.  This video is like T-Pain unplugged and it's pretty darn good!  I love NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, because they are so intimate and are a great way to discover new artists or watch your favorites play stripped down live versions of their songs.  You can check out others here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Here Comes The Big Parade!

The boys look forward to the fall parade in the little town of McConnellsburg, PA, during the Fulton County Fall Folk Festival.  It mostly consists of tractors and steam engines and almost everyone in the parade has candy to throw.  It's like heaven for my little guys!  Those handsome fellas on the red tractor are my cousin CJ and his son Oakley!  And see that steam engine in the bottom corner?  That was made by a company that used to be right on my street!
I absolutely adore the architecture on the main streets of old towns!  Oh, something else I adore is marching bands!  I don't know that the boys cared about either, because there were buckets just waiting to be filled with candy!
The yellow "car" is actually a tractor in disguise!  I thought there was something so lovely about that rusty old steam engine and I am a complete sucker for cute homemade parade floats!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October Crafternoon

I actually skipped September's crafternoon and almost passed on this month's as well.  I just haven't really been enjoying the group setting, so instead of showing up and being a grumpy jerk, I have just been staying home.  On the evening before this month's crafternoon, though, I decided I needed to go.  I missed my friends and really have to stop being such a hermit!  Donnie helped me think up my costume, Heidi's number one fan, threw together a good gift for the white elephant exchange, and brewed some iced tea to share with everyone.  I'm so darn glad I went.  It was a nice small group of gals and may have been my favorite craft to date!
Heidi, of course, is always an amazing hostess!  She made everyone little treat bags and Halloween mixes. She made the paper mache shapes ahead of time, so we just had to carve and paint them.  It's a pretty fun and easy process, using a Dremel and X-acto knife.
Once the faces were carved and the paint was dry, we glued printed eyes, noses, and mouths.  I could have made a dozen or more, but stuck to three!
That last minute costume won me a prize!  I'm certain it was the only time someone won anything for having donuts hanging from their hair and glasses.  There won't be a November crafternoon, but I will be sure to attend the December event!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Break The Silence

We all know by now that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, right?  It may have been mentioned once or twice on the blog.  I've been trying to be involved as possible at raising awareness for this important cause.  I started out the month by attending a candlelight vigil at a local hospital.  It wasn't really well publicized, but there was still a nice little turn out.  I'm hoping this event continues and grows each year! Sorry for the grainy photos, but candlelight and nighttime does not make for ideal iPhone photos.  
The hospital staff member who was responsible for organizing this event was great!  She clearly believes in the cause and spreading the word, so I believe she will be a great ally in the community!
I kept thinking about what I could to help out our agency.  Times have been really tough for us financially, with one position's funding being completely lost a few months ago and expensive renovations at our shelter this past year.  I knew the Instagram community would come through for me, so I organized an online auction.  I had so many amazing donations and am so touched by everyone's kindness and generosity.  The auction is actually open until Wednesday evening, so if you are on Instagram, head over to my shop account (@thethriftydoll) to bid on  amazing fabric, sweet vintage goodies, and amazing handmade items!  Here is just a small sampling of some of the items available-
So although there are only a few days left in October, please keep in mind that domestic violence is a problem that deserves attention every month.  It affects more people than you would probably guess and knows absolutely no boundaries of race, economic status, age, or background.  Now get on some purple, take to the streets, and break the silence about domestic violence!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Well hello there!

Long time no post!  I think everyone who knows me knows that I sometimes struggle with being a bit withdrawn and antisocial.  That's sort of been happening again lately, at least as far as the internet and social media goes.  I've actually been pretty darn good at connecting with people in real life, including reconnecting with some really important people from my past.  I definitely went through some depression again recently too.  I suppose I am still going through it, but I am doing my best to work past it.  I've been meaning to post. I know it helps loads with my moods.  I just haven't felt like doing it, though.  That's the long version of why I haven't been posting.  The short version goes like this- I've been busy!  I actually have had a lot going on, so there is no shortage of blog content, and I have a lot coming up, so expect more posts!  And because it's Monday, here's some music to start off the week.  I guess I should go with something Halloween themed, but instead, here's a song that makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's that time of year again!

What time you ask?  Well time to pick pumpkins, of course!  I have a feeling that this will not be our only pumpkin patch trip this year, but this was our first and we went back to the same place we ended up at last year, Gray Wolf Plantation!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Candy Japan

I've made it pretty clear that I'm a sucker for subscription boxes.  They are a great way to try out products and to get happy surprises in the mail.  Candy Japan is one I've been thinking about for awhile, so I was pretty happy when I received a sample box to review.  For $25, you will get bi-monthly shipments of candy and snacks from Japan and you can expect to get between two to six items each month.  There were four different items in my box and I was pleased with the variety and the size of each item.  There was more than enough for the boys and I to sample!  Here's what I got-
These were the most popular among the three of us.  First of all, look at the adorable packaging!  The candies are cute too- little egg, tadpole, and frog gummies!  They are apple and grape flavored and the one item that we all agreed was yummy!
I don't speak or read Japanese, so I'm guessing these candies are ramune flavored.  I loved their chewy texture and slightly fruity sweet taste!  Oscar thought they were tasty too, but Benny promptly spit his into a napkin.  Two out of three ain't bad!
I wish I had gotten a better photo of the item on the left, but I ate them all pretty quickly!  They were like little crunchy pretzel sticks, but tasted just like low mein.  So yummy!  The boys disagreed, but I was okay with that!  Lastly, we tried the Calorie Mate Block.  I've seen this before, but this was the first time I've tried it.  It was chocolate flavored and really very tense and dry.  I get that it's something sort of filling to eat on the go, but I could only eat one bite.  It was just a bit too dry and chalky for me.  Oscar liked these chocolate "cookies", though, and Benny had lost interest by this point, so Oscar finished them off!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn Love

Autumn is most definitely in full swing and I am loving the cool weather!  Lots of cozy cardigans, tights, and comfy boots make up my fall wardrobe.  The outfit below fits those themes absolutely perfectly!Autumn