a very etsy mother’s day

Since moving four hours from my mom, I’ve begun to realize just how much I miss her (something I’d never have admitted when I threw my car door shut and shouted dramatically “I AM NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVERRRRR COMING BACK HERE!” the day I moved away). I’ve come to pick up the 99 cent cards for meaningless holidays (hello, Columbus Day) and sending them out with little colored dots all over the envelope whenever I get the chance. They’ve really became less of the Lisa Frank style and more trendy than anything, haven’t they? I haven’t been disappointed in quite a while with my finds.

So, when it came to find something for the upcoming Mother’s Day, I began sauntering around my favorite online haunt: Etsy. For anyone who is new here: I’m definitely a person with a budget in mind. If I can find something of great quality for a decent price, I’m doing a little victory dance in front of my computer. While my mother is worth countless dollars to me, I still wanted to find her something that wouldn’t have me scrunching up my eyebrows in concern. So, keeping that in mind, here’s a few fun ideas I found!

Shelley’s Glass Studio | Playful and vibrant glass decorations
Price range: $7 – $30

This cute little Etsy shop boasts handmade glass art for your home, garden, and windows. I bought a bumblebee, ladybug, and snail garden stakes for my mother’s garden. You can choose your mom’s favorite color or ask for a custom color that may not be featured in her shop.

katied

The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy | Beautifully illustrated prints of inspiration in many colors
Price range: $18 – $30

While I haven’t actually purchased a print from this shop, I’ve gazed from afar for years. If your mother enjoys bright, pastel colors and adorable illustrations, Katie has literally a zillion and one to choose from. Her artwork embodies spring itself and would look perfect in anyone’s home regardless of their taste. That’s why I enjoy checking out her shop so often — there’s something for everyone at all times, it seems.

Modern Radar | Screenprinted pouches and prints
Price range: $15 – $22

The pleated pouches featured in this shop immediately caught my eye — I love how playful they are, yet durable as they’re made out of a sturdy cotton canvas material. It appears as if she can take custom requests if you had a specific color or quantity in mind, as well.

Amber Alexander | A unique twist on nature and animal illustrations
Price range: $10 – $35

My mom loves anything that has to do with nature — so when I came across these paintings by Amber, I immediately clicked “favorite” and put them on my list of potential gift ideas. Her shop features everything from rodent to landscape to feather illustrations and also a small array of cute “critter” cards for any occasion.

There’s also several single items in various shops that caught my eye:

Want to make something yourself? Take inspiration from other Etsy sellers and branch out on your own.

Finally, a simple card always does it best.

Embroidered Card by Quill and Fox
Scanatron Card by Besty
You Complete Me by Paper Michelle

Not Raised By Wolves by Pigeon Pie Design

tips and tricks for your home

I’m going to be honest — prior to graduating university, I definitely didn’t spend much time worrying about household items or laundry. University life certainly didn’t count as my dorm room was the size of a small closet and I didn’t have to do too much other than keep it tidy. My incredible mother always did everything for me at home — something I didn’t acknowledge or appreciate enough! Since truly living on my own, I’ve picked up a few things along the way that have helped me (particularly in terms of expenses).

Dryer Balls:

Dryer balls function as a “natural” fabric softener and are sold in nearly every chain store that you walk into. They are marketed to cut down on your drying time, hence saving you a bit of money on your energy bills. I thought I was doing the “right thing” by using a set of the blue plastic dryer balls with the little grips on them. They were less than $5 and I’m sure they function as well as any other, right? After purchasing a new dryer and continuing to use them during every drying cycle, I discovered that they literally had stained the inside ring of my dryer after prolonged use. It took me several minutes to actually realize this, as I thought the dye from my new jeans was the culprit.

I’ve since decided to switch to wool dryer balls. They will cost you more than the store-bought type, but they will last for years and years without leaving any residue in your dryer or on your clothes. You can even have them scented, too, so there’s no need for dryer sheets (which have waxy chemicals on them) or fabric softener. I purchased my dryer balls from CleanSypria (you can purchase them in really cute color combinations and different scents), but there’s several sellers available if you want to look around.

Shower cleaner:

This little concept is certainly making its way around Pinterest — and for good reason! Fill a dishwand with half vinegar and half dish soap (I use one that has bleach in it) and scrub your shower while you’re bathing. I have one in both of our bathrooms and it’s made such a big difference. No more getting on my hands and knees and scrubbing away any longer! You can purchase everything you need at a dollar store, too.

Olive oil dispenser for your dish soap:

It seems like a strange idea, but throw your dish soap into an olive oil dispenser and keep it next to your sink. You can paint it with paint that is suitable for glass or leave it plain as I have. It helps to not have those ugly dish soap containers around but, really, it’s just easier. You’re not squeezing out a big glob when you didn’t mean to any longer — you’re just pouring as much as you need. Some people worry about the color, but I currently have green, clear, and purple dish soap partying in my dispenser and it doesn’t look abnormal at all. If you have a T.J.Maxx nearby, they always have a variety of painted and clear dispensers that are high quality and normally less than $4.

Countertop spray:

My first thought when browsing over the countless Mrs. Meyer’s products: why would I spend $4 on countertop spray that isn’t antibacterial when I can buy Lysol or 409 for less than $2? Sure, it’s “better for the environment” and that’s a really good thing but, when you’re on a budget, you’re looking to save money in any shape or form. Target was advertising MM products with a $1 coupon in celebration of Earth Day this weekend and I decided I’d give the lavender spray a whirl (normally $4.09 a bottle). I’m actually ashamed I was trying to squeeze my pockets to save $2 before. I’ll always keep an antibacterial on hand, but this product smells absolutely divine and is much better than coating my counters with 409 at every chance I can (read: I deeeeespise dirty countertops).

Cleaning paste:
I was asked (okay, pressured!) into going to a Norwex party a year or so ago. Norwex is a company that sells cleaning products through Norwex consultants. It’s the Mary-Kay of cleaning. I felt obligated to purchase something (which is the problem with these parties), so I decided that our stove-top deserved the most love. This cleaning paste (cost: roughly $29) took care of our problem when all other over-the-counter products didn’t. You can learn more about its uses here.

A little goes a long way and I’ll likely have this little tub for another 5+ years. You just use it with a little dab of water and scrub away! They’ll try to tell you that it’s “better” when it’s with their microfiber cloths that are made with silver (oh, come on!) but, as someone who fell prey to such talk, I can tell you that it really doesn’t matter what cloth you use. I’ve had success with even paper towels.

Speaking of clean-freaks, here’s a few useful ideas for your inner germaphobe:

  • 150+ Household Users for Vinegar (Reader’s Digest): vinegar has become my best friend. I love to use it to clean our washer and dryer, along with dumping it down drains with baking soda to prevent any clogs and clean our garbage disposal. Throw a bunch of orange peels into a jar of vinegar if the scent of vinegar truly bothers you. You can also clean your showerhead with the same mixture.
  • Freshen up your kitchen with citrus: throw your orange or lemon rinds down your garbage disposal to get rid of any disgusting scents (further details here). Be sure to chop them up a bit first, though. We used to buy those little lemon drops that were filled with chemicals, but this is much better. You can also clean your microwave with a lemon.

remodeling laundry area on a budget

I’ve been attempting to focus on paying my student loans off before I’m 92, so I’ve been keeping a close eye on my expenses and have created a new (extremely tight) budget with the help of PearBudget’s free downloadable spreadsheet (highly recommended to spend half an hour tackling this beast yourself) and by being inspired by Em for Marvelous’ Marvelous Money series.

I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time on Mint.com and other finance tools, but resorted to the old-fashioned way of “doing it myself” after reading a few Dave Ramsey articles featuring the envelope system. Since the idea of using paper envelopes is up my dear grandmother’s alley and certainly not anywhere near my preference, I use the free version of the EEBA iPhone app to help track my expenses.

I’d been bored with my laundry room area for quite a while, particularly due to its lack of functionality. The woman who lived in our home prior to us was over 6 feet tall and, clearly, the shelves pictured below weren’t meant for someone my height. I’d have to awkwardly climb on top of the machines to gather any items we haphazardly threw up onto the shelf. Very inconvenient and I found myself being far too comfortable with hanging millions of clothes on the shelf just to make the room less bare. My work wardrobe was constantly on display for all of our visitors.

After being inspired by Kelly’s laundry room remodel via a pin on Pinterest, I decided to take action! I wanted to spend less than $100 on the remodel, including getting our closet/hamper area in order.

Plan: I’d count absolutely everything that I purchased.

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We took two awkwardly-placed shorter shelves from the closet and disposed of the previous shelf. Since I didn’t have the money to rebuild shelves or purchase a cabinet for the wall (and trust me, I scoured Craigslist for one), I decided to use handy-dandy spray paint for plastic. I didn’t prime them, but did let them dry for an entire week before placing them on the wall. I also decided that I wanted/HAD TO do this remodel in the middle of winter so, hey, spray painting in my storage room in the basement totally wouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. We had to leave the house for an hour with the dogs as the scent wafted throughout the entire house. I’m smart.

I bought the mirrors at IKEA five years ago to use in my “chic Minneapolis apartment” that never actually happened — they’ve been sitting in storage ever since. I just threw them on the wall with no idea in mind (fun!). Lighted branches will stop us from needing to turn the light on all the time when we entered the house from the garage. The print is from Etsy and is meant to serve as a daily reminder when I leave the house to stop worrying so much and enjoy my day. Sometimes, it does the trick! If you like it, I’d suggest joining the seller’s mailing list as she frequently has promotions — I didn’t purchase it at full price.

  • Deep teal spray paint for boring white wire shelves: 2 cans @ $2.50 each
  • Dark gray paint for wall (satin due to moisture in room): $20
  • Laundry cart for between machines: $25 (via Amazon)
  • 3M Command Strips for behind mirrors: $12
  • Divided pop up hamper (closet – not pictured): $8 (via Amazon – previously on sale)
  • Shelves on wheels (closet – not pictured): $12 (on sale at Target)
  • Broom organizer (closet – not pictured): $7 (via Amazon)

    GRAND TOTAL:
    $89

It was fun to challenge myself into re-purposing the random decor that was in storage in my basement for years. This little project helped me realize that I have far too much clutter and, since completing this, I’ve gone through everything from my messy bathroom closet to everything under my kitchen sink and disposed or donated items that I’d been keeping “for a rainy day” or “what if this unrealistic event happened?” — it has been quite liberating!