Monthly Archives: June 2013

I swear I haven’t forgotten you!

I’m sure this happens to you. You’re going along in life and all of a sudden BAM! And then you’re running like a scalded dog for 17 hours out of the day.

I haven’t updated this blog in about a week but I swear I will soon! In the meantime:

Hubby got a job! He finished training and started this week.

My family and friends are in town for a reunion party. They had so much fun at our wedding a year ago that they wanted to do it again. Since I refused to throw another wedding, they’re just here for the drink and the people.

I’ve finished cleaning the office AND the living room! Next I’ll be working on decorating in the office, living room, and kitchen in as CHEAP and male/female-friendly as possible!

Stay tuned!


Thrifty First Year Anniversary Gift Guide – Paper

I am so excited to tell you all that this Sunday, June 16th, is the Hubby’s and my first year anniversary! I can’t even tell you how excited I am! We have made it one year without killing each other and thankfully it wasn’t that hard.

But of course with each milestone, gifts must be given, especially with a milestone as important and this one. So I take to the internet-machine to figure out what I am supposed to be getting for him. According to, the first anniversary is traditionally paper.


Yes. Paper. What am I supposed do with paper? How am I supposed to give paper? When in doubt, ask Pinterest!


Um… Uh. Okay, so these ideas are fine and dandy if that is what you’re into. This, however, is NOT what hubby is into. These ideas are really cool for the giver, not necessarily the receiver, especially if the receiver is a guy. So what’s a girl to do?

After some thought, I’ve come up with a few hopefully unique and useful ideas for… paper.



I am not even close to kidding. I think that “paper” was designated to anniversary number one because newlyweds are BROKE and money would be the most helpful thing for them. Right? Especially if they are newly wed college students.

But this is a practical gift to give even between certain spouses if given in the right spirit. If the Keeper of the Finances sets aside even just $20 for the spouse to spend on whatever he or she wants, no questions asked, no stipulations, no saving any part of it to put toward bills, especially if the couple hasn’t allowed themselves many {or any} extras in quite a while, then this is a pretty sweet gift! We have a gift card left over from Christmas for $10 at Barnes & Noble and we are so excited to spend it between the two off us. I think if Hubby had $20 all to himself, he’d be so excited!



Who doesn’t love a good wine? Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Moscato, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot noir, Zinfandel, oh my goodness when is Sunday going to get here?! And there are plenty, PLENTY of cheap and tasty wines at your local grocery store, unless you’re in a dry county, in which case I am sorry for your loss. I can pick up my favorite cheap bottle of wine at the HEB grocery just up the street for under $5. At 4 pours to the bottle, that comes to $1.25 per glass! That same glass of wine can go for $4 to $7.50 at many local restaurants, so you can already see how much you’ve saved!

What does wine have to do with paper? The label on the bottle is paper, obviously!


Magazine Subscription

I love gifts that keep on giving! Potted plants. Jewelry. Puppies. Any gift that doesn’t get “used up” is excellent. But in my humble opinion, gifts that continually surprise are the best! Of-the-Month Clubs are great! But if you can’t quite afford one of those, magazine subscriptions are a great option for those who want the joy to last through the entire year.

Hubby loves Men’s Health, and at you can get the Print & Kindle combination subscription for $19.95 ($2/issue). What a steal!

If Hubby {or one of our friends} is reading this, he and I would both enjoy a subscription to Opera News, available at for $22.95 ($1.91/issue).


Gift Certificate

If you are poor but like eating out, then this is the website for you! Just type in your ZIP code, hit ‘enter’ and BAM! Food for cheap! Buy your sweetheart a gift certificate at 60% off at, print the certificate, and no body has to cook or do the dishes for a night! And you won’t be put in the poor house over it either! I’m not saying that all the restaurants they will be listing 5-Star dining experiences in your area, but to be fair some of the most romantic and meaningful times I’ve had with my hubby have been at one of the local hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joints around town. Nothing says romance like ordering a Piña Colada for your hubby so he won’t look like a sissy ordering it for himself. For the record though, he orders his own Piña Coladas now. So proud!

brown butcher paper


Or beef and cheese slices. Pick up some spicy mustard and some marbled rye break. Grab a couple of drinks while you’re at the deli too. Because what could be better than a picnic in a local park! And since it’s wrapped in Butcher PAPER, it’s will totally fit this anniversary’s theme! If you’d rather head home for an indoor meal, grab some steaks {in butcher paper} and let the Hubby do the cooking! Men like to grill. It’s fun for them. And I know I want my Hubby to be in a genuinely good mood instead of just putting up with the romantic pomp and circumstance.


Lottery Tickets

This one is really more for entertainment value than anything else. Be sure to get the one where you pick your own numbers and wait for the announcement, NOT the scratch-offs! And of course the numbers you pick MUST be your anniversary date! It’s surprisingly fun to daydream about what the two of you would buy with all that money if, I mean when, you win!

For the record, when Hubby and I win {we’ve played the lottery exactly once during our entire relationship}, we are going to pay for the renovation of our church’s 60-year-old organ. And probably get the church a new AC unit for the hall.

Refashion Plus – Maxi dress with cardigan and belt

What’s so wrong with being “Plus Sized”? Someone tell me, because I genuinely want to know. And don’t tell me that plus sized women are lazy and out of shape and it’s dangerous for our health, because any amount of research will tell you that what’s dangerous for our health is mostly our genetically modified, nutritionally voided food. Also I can bench 100 lbs. and will probably throw you over a wall just to prove how “Lazy and out of shape” I am not. Seriously, I have guns and curves. I can flex my pecs and shimmy with the best of them. I’m maxed out about 1/4 of the leg machines at my gym but still have “thunder thighs.” And I like the way I look. So why doesn’t the fashion industry like me? I would buy their clothes if they fit me!

To be fair, 90% of the battle is that at 6-feet tall, I’m too tall. And when you combine tall and curvy, the fashion industry thinks that equals frumpy. Just so we all know, I AM NOT a frumpy person. I’m not even thirty! I am such a long way from “Frump” that to be presented with neutral colored high-water peasant skirts is insulting. So sayonara fashion industry. Arrivederci ugly, ill-fitting clothing! I will see you on the other side of my sewing machine!

While I’m still getting my office set up (Creation within a newlywed’s apartment: Step 1) I will be sharing with you some of my previous creations. Today I have for you what I’m wearing to work. I’m warning you now, I am NOT photogenic and my hubby is still getting used to working with my junky camera.

A while back I was shopping at Joann’s, my town’s ONLY fabric store, and I came across some fabric on their sale table that caught my eye. It was $2/yd so I bought 2 yards for $4 (yay math!) and took my new lovely fabric home.


Sorry for the awkward folding but isn’t that gorgeous!!! I love the way the browns and black work together next to the blue. So what did I do with this fabric to fit a tall and curvy frame? {For all my future work I promise I’ll have step-by-step pictures like everyone else. I made this dress a while ago and it was my first adventure in sewing clothes since about 2007.}

First, I folded it, front-sides facing each other, with the cut edges together. I sewed that side shut with a straight stitch and then secured it with a zig-zag stitch. I threw it over my body really quick to see what it was going to look like.  I looked like I was in a giant, colorful potato sack with the bottom cut off.

I then folded over the top, leaving enough room to thread the elastic through later, and sewed it almost all the way around. I left about 2 inches open by which to feed the elastic through. The elastic came from a set of wicker baskets we got from the wedding. There were two long pieces of elastic holding the biggest wicker hamper shut and there were 4 smaller wicker baskets inside of it. When I got this amazing gift (Yay Bed Bath and Beyond Wedding registry!) I just saved the elastic that came with the packaging. Hooray for free elastic!

I threaded the elastic through using the old Two-Safety Pin method: Pin one end of the elastic to the opening of the whole. Use the second safety pin to fold over the other end of the elastic. This makes it bulky enough to shove through the fabric tunnel. When the elastic came out the other side, I sewed the two ends together and called it DONE!

When I wear this I always pair it with a cardigan and a belt. It’s my firm belief that ladies with curves should wear belts around the smallest parts of their waist to emphasize their shape. And this is how it wore it today!

Tube Dress 1

This is really a terrible picture because it makes me look short and jawline-less. But really I get a ton of compliments on this dress. And notice how it goes down to the floor instead of being awkward high-water ankle length. This picture also doesn’t do it justice because the fabric is billowy and not tight in the awkward areas lots of maxi dresses are. AKA no panty lines or butt clinging!

Outfit total:Dress: $4 total – DIY
Cardigan – Lane Bryant $30
Gladiator Sandals – Torrid from forever ago
Belt – Lane Bryant – $15 on sale.

Creation within a newlywed’s apartment: Step 1

If you’ve planned your own wedding within the last decade, you’ve probably used What a helpful and pushy website that is! If I’d sat down and thought about it, I would have seen that 90% of what they said I had to do was completely bull and was a direct cause of me spending way more than was really necessary. Don’t get me wrong! We had a FUN day! But it was expensive.

The next extension of is, a website built to “help” newlyweds navigate the perils of newlywedhood in categories such as Home Buying, Money Matters, Home Decor, Food/Recipes, Holidays, Tools, and Quizzes. Take a stroll through their website and you’ll see some pretty unrealistic pictures of how most people spend their first few years of marriage.

In our first year of marriage, we did NOT buy a home because we may only be in this town for another year or two. We have not decorated it to the 9’s because it’s a rental apartment. We are still working on paying off all our pre-marriage debt, including student loans to which I, as a graduate student, am still adding!

The newlyweds featured on, however, have beautiful {and I mean BEAUTIFUL} houses, and if not houses then spacious apartments with wood flooring or pristine white carpeting, huge windows and exquisite window coverings. Their storage space makes me green with envy and their leather couches and stylishly upholstered loveseats make me wonder if I forgot to pick up my Wedding Money-Pot after the honeymoon. I understand that these newlywed featured are supposed to serve as inspiration for how to decorate and live stylishly, but all I’m inspired to do is rob a bank.

And the decor itself is right out of a magazine! These photos come from either the homes of actual newlyweds or from the minds of the editors and contributors of Let’s just examine the Southampton Living Room: The cheapest thing in there is probably the throw pillow on the couch which I have to guess the going price to be between $25-$40. Tack on the rest of the furniture from the Libby Langdon collection and you’re looking at more than I make 4 months. Not to mention that potted tree which, real or fake, is not going to come cheaply. I could show you more examples of “Nestie’s” homes but why bother when I think you’d get such a kick from visiting for yourselves.

Now on to my home…

What you are about to see is my starting place.
◊ Have we decorated? Barely, with what we already had or have found for free.
◊ Do we have expensive furniture? Nope, what we do have was given to us, purchased at 50% off as a floor model, or is simply the illusion of furniture. {The illusion of furniture is definitely a real thing. Get excited for that.}
◊Am I intimidated to show you my messy apartment, home to one dog, one puppy, one husband, and me? YOU BETCHA!

Today I am starting with the second bedroom, AKA Our Office! I teach voice lessons from here, I keep our books and scores in here, our desktop is in here, and the worst: The Storage Closet!

Before Far wall

What we can see here is a room in desperate need of some TLC. In the bottom left corner is the desk {covered in stuff} and behind it are two bookcases packed with books, a record player, some records, and my hymnal collection. On the right is my treasured collection of sheet music, opera scores, oratorio scores, choral scores, opera magazines and calendars {exciting plans for those later!}, Met Librettos, a bugle, a picnic basket, and a box of winter clothes covered by a decorative sarong.

Before Piano wall

Moving around the room, you see my keyboard; it is actually a lot better than it looks. There are also two mirrors that I use for teaching and practice. Singers are so vain!

Before Closet wall Before Closet

Here is the Closet of Doom! So much storage space being wasted! Boxes packed hurriedly, without care! Shoved on top of or underneath the Smoker {Yes, we’ve shoved our Smoker into the closet! We didn’t have another place for it and Hubby was NOT getting rid of it!} Maybe this needs to be one of the areas I clean first?

Before Computer wall

And back around to the computer desk and Erda’s derriere. Hideous room, isn’t it? Not much in the way to inspire creativity at all! If this is going to be my Command Central for all family and home planning, Refashion Plus inspiration, and Tall and Strong Bloggery, then we need to get this room looking better!

Before Before Floor

I show you this “Floor – Before” picture to show you the “Floor – In progress” picture:

In Progress - Floor

What I’ve found so far:

◊ All my yarn! Plus a few unfinished projects. Oops.
◊ My wall sconces! I love these things! Hubby likes them less.
◊ Paint from over a year ago plus fabric paint that Hubby used to decorate a shirt. He’s thrifty too.
◊ Thread, needles {safely packaged}, and fabric! So excited!
◊ A whole bag of Hubby’s old clothes that he says I can Refashion Plus! Expect something later this week, y’all!
◊ Painters tape and scissors!
◊ A bunch of pictures from the wedding as well as the Engagement shoot! I feel a project coming on!

My first priority is to clear the back wall to make room for a small desk upon which to place my sewing machine which as been living in Hubby’s bathroom. Why Hubby’s bathroom? Because when I asked him to move it when we had guests coming over, that is where he chose to put it. I can’t be mad, he did move it.

After Bookshelf

Isn’t that much better? Okay, not “much” but it is better! And I swear it doesn’t lean like that in real life. It’s just the angle of the picture. Now I just need to find a desk.

What I did was take the top layer of books from the shelf to make it easier to move. I then dragged it over by pulling from the bottom of the bookshelf so as to avoid tipping the center of gravity or upsetting the books. Working slowly, I moved it toward the wall on the right, then again pressing from the bottom, I pushed it into place. Easy peasy! I replaced the books on the top shelf then began to sort through the remaining folders, calendars, sheet music, books, etc. and decided on the best way to store them until I get more shelves.

I’m planning to cover the ugly folders very soon in a creative and CHEAP way. Look for that soon.

And voilà! My new music area! The picnic basket and the box of clothes went into the closet. And now, the cleaned out Closet of Doom!

After Closet

The cost of this renovation: $0

Since cheap is good, I will be attempting to spend much less than all while showing you how to live beautifully in an ugly rented apartment. I hope you will enjoy my room-by-room renovation!

Has this ever happened to you?

Has this ever happened to you?

A series of seemingly random events have occurred in your home. Your brain, filled with a thousand other worries, tries to come up with a reason and ends up with nothing. But somewhere in the back of your mind, you’ve figured it out. You know what you need to do to stop these horrible events from continuing. But you don’t commit to it! Maybe it was too far-fetched. Maybe it was too simple. You let it slip back into the recesses of your mind while you are at school, at work, at the gym, running errands. You come home again and WHAM! It’s happened again! And it all clicks back into place! You could have prevented this new disaster if you’d just believed in the power of your own mind and taken action before now! But it’s too late…


I have lost my favorite wicker laundry hamper!

I’m so sad! And it’s only now, with this final piece of evidence that all the pieces come together. Everything she has destroyed has been right next to the front door and the front window! Other dogs come by and she gets upset and anxious that we aren’t home with her and she destroys whatever is near that wall! She never destroyed the laundry hamper when it was in the bedroom. It’s all to do with that wall and probably what’s on the other side of it. Oh well. It’s only stuff.


Guest Blog on Perseverance

A friend of mine, Abby Garrett, is an incredible inspiration to those around her.

In her own words: Metamorphosis Project: […] is about becoming our best selves, and a major way we can do that is through fitness and personal development. Metamorphosis Project hopes to inspire and empower others to reach their potential, and as a result, for them to continue the cycle and inspire the rest of the world to do the same. When you work toward a goal or make a positive change in your life, others notice. This may sound cheesy, but this creates a ripple effect that can touch the world. One metamorphosis leads to another… whether thats in your own life, or the life of someone else.

She asked me to guest blog for her and this is what I have written.

Refashion Plus

Are you familiar with this woman?

Jillian the Refashionista

Jillian the Refashionista

If not then, oh my goodness, you should be! This woman is incredible. She takes some of the most hideous clothes you wish you’d never seen in your local thrift shop and turns them into amazingly wearable outfits! Every outfit she makes gets worn once by her, then donated to Revente’s Last Call where all profits go to the Women’s Shelter.

How awesome is that!

I’ve been following her blog the Refashionista for about a year now and have begun searching for plus sized refashioning blogs with minimal success. Standing at 6-foot-nuthin’, the majority of the clothing in stores is simply too short. I’m also curvy (buxom, voluptuous, curvaceous) and the trends in fashion favor the lithe and slender. But all bodies are good bodies and I simply want to clothe mine without feeling like my goodies are going to fall out and I’d love to include you on my journey. Therefore, I will be rearranging my home-office to better serve my sewing and refashioning needs and will be posting pictures of my creations! Check back soon for pictures and such!