image of Bathroom Vanity Transformation from this to this (3)

How To Magically Change Your Old Bathroom Vanity

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When I decided to remodel my downstairs bathroom I had all these dreams of changing the vanity, the walls, the floor and the shower stall.

But life likes to throw curve balls and when I first started demo-ing the bathroom I found mold! Of course, my heart sank! There goes my budget.

So I had to hire professionals to get rid of that and turns out they had to take down parts of the walls and that meant finding asbestos too!!

This house is from 1965 and drywall had asbestos back then. Yet, another ding on my budget.

After all was said and done my budget was pretty much gone and with that, my dreams of having a new vanity and a fancy granite top.

Here are some of the things I dreamed for this bathroom:

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure my foster birds have enough food and toys until they find their forever home.


I girl can dream, right?!

I will soon have a post about my entire bathroom remodel. But what I really wanted to show you today was how I was able to save my original vanity (yes, from 1965!) and transform it into a modern looking piece just like the ones shown above. And all of that using less than a quart of paint, wood strips and wood putty (well, a couple of other things too but this was a cheap project considering the final look).

I did spend some serious money on a 8ftx.25in butcher block but I only used a 4ft x 22in piece for my bathroom counter and I was able to use another piece for my powder room remodel (see image below).

After those two projects, I still have a lot leftover I can use for other projects like a DIY kitchen cutting board for a handmade gift or some cool shelving. So it was a good investment.

MIRACLES DO HAPPEN!

Since my dreams of getting a new cabinet were shattered by the unforeseen expenses I decided I was going to “save” the vanity that was already there. 

This is “the beauty” in all its glory:

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Notice the doors? Ugh! 

I thought about improvising or buying an antique dresser and transforming it into a sink but there was a minor little issue with this bathroom:

If I put anything deeper than 18 inches for the counter top near the door, my bathroom door wouldn’t close!

Notice how the old counter top had this angled cut on the stone near the door? 

Here’s a picture of the angle in more detail

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I could have put a smaller cabinet away from the wall near the door but then I would have a big gap between the wall and the cabinet.

Also, any shelving or garbage can would have looked weird in that space since it would be on the other side of where the toilet was.

The old cabinet not only had drawers that were the perfect size for the area but the entire piece was perfectly lined up with the plumbing too. So I decided to keep it and make the best of it.

The Prep work and paint

Going back to demo day, I took the old vanity outside thinking it had mold on it too. But after a thorough inspection, there was only one small spot in the base. Since the base was warped anyway I cut it off and I decided that it would look more modern with wooden legs.

The first thing I did after chopping the old base was to give it a good clean and apply wood filler to cover any dings and scratches. Once the wood filler was dry I sanded it to remove any imperfections.

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Then I gave it 3 coats of paint. I chose this light gray color called Morning Mist by Behr in semi-gloss. The semi-gloss would make it more impermeable and easier to clean in a bathroom setting. 

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Looks like a million bucks already! I bought one quart of the paint and I didn’t even use half of it and that included painting the doors!

The next thing I did was modernize the front of the cabinet doors. No matter how much paint I used, I had to do something about those doors or the cabinet would have still looked dated. Here’s a better picture of the doors:

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After a lot of searching for the right trim and how to make it work with the current curve in the corners, I decided that a “Shaker style” trim would not only be easier to apply but it would look modern and “farmhouse-y” at the same time. It was sooo easy I wish I had done this a long time ago!

Shaking the Style

To turn the cabinet doors into a Shaker style, I needed a flat trim with no curves or anything. I went to the hardware store and found this 1in x 1/4 in x 4ft wood strip that would be perfect for my “Shaker” trim. For the two doors, I calculated that I needed four “4 footers” of this trim.

Basically, all I did was measure the edges of the door where the curvy detail ended and cut two strips for the vertical trim. Then I measured the distance between the two vertical strips to cut my horizontal trim that would sit in between the vertical trims. 

Here’s a better explanation:

image-of-curvy-corner-edge-bathroom-vanityimage-of-schematics-for-shaker-vanity-door I used Liquid Nails to glue the trim on the door and I let it sit overnight with the door faced down. I made sure to put a few books (weights) on top of it to make sure there would not be any unglued spots.

Here’s the door after the trim was added:

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Notice I plugged the hole for the old door knob with wood putty because the new door handle would be installed on the trim.

I did the same for both doors and painted them. Don’t they look modern already?!

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Then it was time to paint the drawers and install the feet (I painted the feet before installing them. Much easier that way). 

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Notice I didn’t add any strips on the drawer fronts because the curvy details on the edges already looked good. And the paint alone gave them a more modern look. 

Let’s not forget the hinges!

My budget was so beyond tight that I even decided to save the hinges. 

First, because the holes were already there. Second, they were in pretty good shape (these were not from the 60’s, I don’t think). And third, I already had silver spray paint from another project and didn’t fell like going to the store to buy new ones.

These hinges are not really that expensive (about $3 bucks each). I was just really penny pinching here.

Here’s what the hinges looked like before painting them (sorry, not a good picture):

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 and here it is after paint:

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The vanity is finally taking shape

After putting the vanity together and putting it back in the bathroom, it was time to install the new butcher block counter top. 

To cut the butcher block, I used the old countertop as a template for the new one. But I didn’t want that ridiculous angled cut in the corner like the old countertop so I decided to make it a straight cut instead.

If you are tackling cutting the butcher block with a circular saw and you never did that try recruiting someone who knows how to do this. Maybe the “hubs” or a neighbor. Unless you are crazy like me and will try anything. Then just watch your fingers!

Oh, Don’t waste your time using a jigsaw to cut the butcher block, it’s pretty solid wood and you will be going through several blades if you do. Unfortunately, I had to cut the hole for the sink with the jigsaw (that was so fun…not!)

After making all the cuts including the opening for the sink, it was time to seal the countertop with polyurethane waterproof sealant.image-of-butcher-block-countertop-bathroom-vanity-amigas4all

Be sure to sand between coats and follow the instructions on the can. It’s not a difficult job but it’s messy. And for someone impatient like me, it was tough to wait 2 hours in between coats. I did about 5 of them.

After the countertop was done, installing it was a breeze. I just needed “L” brackets to hold it in place with some short screws (make sure they are not longer than the thickness of the countertop or the vanity frame. 

Plumbing: not my Favorite Activity but “doable DIY”

Because I was using the same vanity as before, the pipes were pretty much there. Except, I wanted new pipes because they were pretty gross (who knows how old these were?).

If you DIY the plumbing, be sure to watch plenty of videos if you never did this. It’s not hard, but it’s a frustrating job. Be sure to check for leaks so you don’t have any surprises like mold or ruining the wood under the sink.

After it was all in place I installed the sink (pretty easy to do) and sealed the edges with clear silicone. Be sure to use blue tape on the counter around the sink and on the edges of the sink to avoid getting silicone everywhere.

Oh, and wear gloves! What a mess! Wipe the excess silicon and pull the tape and voila! A clean “caulking” job.

The finishing touches

After the plumbing work was done it was pretty much just installing the new drawer and door pulls and the hinges. I found these modern looking pulls on Amazon and they gave a very fresh and modern look to the vanity.

Here’s the final look!

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The vanity looks completely new and fresh. It doesn’t even look like the old sad vanity. The total tally on this project? $195.28.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $17.98 for paint – Color: Misty Morning from Behr (I used less than half a can and I was able to use the same paint on my hall bath project)
  • $4 bucks for the wood trims (home improvement store)
  • $19.84 for the door pulls and knobs from Amazon.
  • $120 for the butcher block (I paid $250 for a large piece but used less than half on this project and used another piece on my powder room project and still have left overs)
  • $29.98 for the porcelain sink from the hardware store
  • $3.46 for a Pipe kit from the hardware store
  • I already had the sealant, silicon calk, liquid nails, tape, rollers and brushes at home but if you were to buy it all it would be less than $40 bucks for all of them.

Not bad for less than $200 bucks with the counter top and sink and pretty much custom!

Other options and final thoughts

Another way to do the counter top, if you think the cost for the butcher block is too steep, is to buy 2×6  or 2×8 lumber and make your own butcher block.

You can glue the boards side by side with wood glue.  Then let them dry overnight with clamps holding them together to ensure that there won’t be any gaps between boards. Seal it with polyurethane and voila! DIY butcher block for less than $20 bucks!

I had fun doing this project and seeing how it turned out. I know some may think $200 is a bit much for a vanity redo. Especially, when you can buy a new one for around $300. But you won’t buy quality for that price.

Plus it will never have the “personality” of a butcher block finish. Nor will the quality of the wood construction be the same. I can probably get another 40 years out this vanity (maybe with a new color trend when the gray gets old).

If you have a decent countertop but only the vanity needs a fresh look, you may only have to spend money on paint, replacement pulls or minor finishes. You could probably do that for less than $100 (that’s counting buying a faucet that’s over $30 bucks).

I hope this project has inspired you. Try using things you already have at home. Make something new out of them. If the piece has “good bones”, why not use it? 

Please share your before and after pictures and stay tuned for more projects.

I hope you enjoyed this project. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for new updates and cool projects. And don’t forget to sign up for our email list below to receive news and updates.

Until next time!

 

 

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How To Teach Kids to Budget For a Lifetime of Good Financial Choices

It’s difficult to imagine how your seven or ten year old could learn how to budget so early in life. Especially when he or she is still coming into the house covered in mud or glitter and you still have to beg for them to brush their teeth. But it is absolutely possible and actually not that difficult.

 Leading by example is a way to start teaching your kids how to budget

As the oldest of 5, I was very close to the decision making process, the planning and what the family needed to buy or save for.

My father constantly traveled for work and sometimes spent a whole month out of the country while my mom all-by-herself took care of the house. When he traveled she would be the one handling the budget. Financially, it was a great thing for the family when she was in charge of the money.

She was a stay at home mom who never quite finished school and she had a very poor childhood (financially, of course). Every Cruzeiro  she made was carefully saved (no pennies because this was in Brazil). So as a child she learned the value of keeping track of her money.

Because of her budget skills, she was able to make the money last the whole time my father was out of the country. She would even save enough money to buy us each an outfit so we could dress up to pick up our father at the airport when he returned. Happy times!

Be very careful with your own budget or the kids may learn some bad habits too

In contrast, I learned at an early age that my father was not good as good as my mother with his budget. During his career he was always a hard working man but he also spent too quickly. That habit came from his own father. I learned and still remember the adults saying that grandpa just got paid. He then would spend his entire budget with presents for the kids on the day he got the pay check.

While it was nice to get presents I never understood how grandpa could pay for his food or rent. I know, I was an inquisitive kid, thinking about that even back then.

Nowadays, many parents want to shield their kids from the world so they can enjoy a few more years with fairies and superheroes and not so much of the “real life”.

I know it is commendable to give your kids a childhood but it is also important that they learn to budget early on. If you do so they will have a reasonable understanding of why you are not buying that toy or video game today. Who here doesn’t remember throwing tantrums in the supermarket?

A Kid’s budget lesson should start with an allowance and some chores that can they turn into cash

I don’t know about you but when my father asked us to mow the lawn or wash the car we just ran for the hills. Until he made a list of chores that we could turn into cash. That was one good thing we learned from dad: you work-you get paid!

For us kids, it was like finding a gold mine. If we wanted that video game, we could finally buy it (remember Atari cartridges? Cough, cough! Sorry, a lot of dust flying here!).  Or we could buy the next hot toy out there.

I know you are going to say that “kids should be doing their chores regardless”. Yes! I agree. For the most part.

I also think that since kids are not legally allowed to work for an actual paycheck until a certain age (at least in the US) giving them a list of “for hire” chores can teach them the value of work in exchange for money.

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They can learn that by working they are able to buy that game.Or that doll or even that dog they always dreamed about (before you buy a dog please read my article about gifting a pet). They will also see that they need to work first in order to get that money, and that it is not “easy” making money. 

Learning the value of money is the first step for kids to learn how to budget

If kids learn that there is an “exchange” in order to get that money, i.e. you dedicate an hour or two to mow the lawn and you’ll get money in the end, they will quickly learn that the time spent working (mowing the lawn, washing the car) has value.

The first value they will learn is that “time is money”. The second value they will learn is that it takes a combination of several “hours” (“time”) to get the total amount of money they are looking for.

For example, if you pay $5 for your 10 year old to wash the car, he will see that it took 1 hour or so to make that amount of money. Just like us when we are adults we get our first check and realize we worked 40 hours to make, say $300 a week or $1000 a week.

And let’s say your kid wants a game that costs $25 dollars. You should explain that if he is looking to get that game he will need to wash that car at least 4 more times to be able to buy it. Or find another chore on the “for hire” list to make more money.

When they realize the value of their work, the “budget talk” should come next

When your child realizes that it will take a little longer to get enough to buy that game or doll you are probably going to get one of two responses: “Can I just wash the car everyday so I can get this money quickly?” Or ,“This sucks! I don’t want to do this anymore”.

When you get the “can this be faster” response, this is a great opportunity. Clearly explain that saving money takes time and effort but with patience he or she will get what they are saving for. Ask them to imagine the day they are finally going to the store to buy what they want.

If you get the “this sucks!” response, ask your child why, and have her explain to you why. I bet you, their issue will be how long it takes to get enough money to get what she wants.

In this case, she will need a “small victory” to get the “taste” of getting what she wants to buy in exchange for work. You have to be careful because this is where kids can also feel “entitled” after you “give” them that small victory.

Here’s what you are going to do instead: You are NOT going to make this easy.

Sure, they need to experience that “thrill” of making enough to get what they want at least once. And maybe only once.

But you need to make the chore a little more “difficult” to complete and make it clear that it is a one time deal. That if they want to get something else they have to go back to the “old system”.

For example, if your kid wants that video game/or that more expensive doll have him/her agree to a “set of chores” before they get their money. Combine a lot of things you want them to do into this one time deal.

DO NOT give them chores that they are supposed to be doing already like cleaning their room or gathering their toys or picking up after themselves.

You could offer a prize here and there for doing those chores but NEVER make that part of the “for hire” chores. Maybe every 2 months they get free ice cream or something they value but that it’s not too expensive.

The chore should be something unusual like mowing the lawn (not for a 7 year old of course!) or sweeping the yard. It can also be something you are working on yourself but could use the extra help like sorting papers to shred, or organizing the garage.

The point is that after they complete ALL the tasks you gave them, they get that one big “payday”.

When they finally experience the first purchase with their hard earned cash, in most cases, they are “hooked”.

Yes, be prepared for them to ask you for more “for-hire” chores, and your own budget may not allow you to offer those a lot. But even if you start with a dime here or a quarter there, they will get the picture. And start early on in their lives. Start with a candy purchase with that quarter. Or a small toy with that dollar.

Show them how to stretch that budget too and the value of bargain hunting 

One way to monitor your “little workers” is to make a grid or checklist for each child. Have them create their own goal list too. Something like this for example (click on the image for a downloadable form like this one):

how-to-teach-kids-to-budget-for-a-lifetime-of-good-choices-budget-grid

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure I can feed the cats in the neighborhood.

When you see that your child is getting close to getting the amount they need to reach their goal, take them “window shopping” for the item they want. Online shopping also counts.

Teach them to compare prices. Show them how to stretch their money by showing them that they can buy something similar for less. Or that you can find their particular item at a more discounted rate. Show them how to wait for sales if you know a “season” like Black Friday is coming up.

This lesson will trigger their “bargain hunting” skills.

They will see that their money can go much further if they take the time to find the right price.

Let’s say your kid wanted a video game.  After “bargain hunting” you both find out there is a deal for the original game he wanted. You also find out there’s an expansion for that same game for the same price or for a “hair” more.

Make them excited for that possibility. Give them the opportunity to learn to wait so they can gather that little extra cash to get that extension. Who doesn’t like a bargain?

Of course, to show your kids how to budget you should also know how to do your own budget. I wrote two articles called How to Create and Maintain a Budget Without Starving. I also wrote about How to Balance Your Budget Like a ProThese articles are a good way to start your own budget if you are not sure how.

Learning How to Budget Early will help them avoid a lifetime of Debt

Teach your kids how to budget early on. When they reach college age they will know how to handle their own finances. A lot of us have huge student loan debts. This is partly because we were unprepared to budget college living expenses.

Even more critical is knowing how to use a credit card at an early age. A lot of college kids nowadays don’t know how to use credit cards. All they see is that they can swipe their card in a machine and they can buy “whatever” they want.  It is “easy money” until the bill shows up in the mail box and panic sets in.

Set up a time with each child. Choose a favorite “piggy bank” or box as their “savings” account. You can choose to let them keep control of the “bank”. Or teach them the value of banking once they understand how a budget works. You could offer to be the “bank” so they are not tempted to spend the money earlier if they prefer.

Either way, your child will be more prepared for a lifetime of good financial decisions.

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Until next time!

 

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How to Get an Awesome Laundry Room With Paint

Laundry Room painted. Case closed!

Kidding!

For the DIYers out there, it’s probably very clear that paint can do magical things to just about anything. But if you never tackled a paint job it can be scary. Some wonder: Can I even do that? Yes, you can! Everyone can.

The best way to start if you never painted any room is to start with a little project first. Even if it’s painting a cardboard box just to get the hang of it.

But once you do: Oh! So fun to see the results. 

This is the story of how I completely transformed my laundry room using nothing but paint!

My Boring Laundry room

Here’s my before pics of my laundry room:

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When I bought this house the previous owner had some nice things installed in the laundry room.

They put in a white marble counter top (not the best choice for a laundry room but still fancy). They also had new(ish) white cabinets (they really needed some cleaning and adding a few shelves in the broom closet).

As you can see it is a festival of white on white plus white appliances. It all so blended that despite having these nice features the room was just BLAH.

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Ok, I admit that the sink is more like “brown” but it’s because my husband put the coffeemaker in the laundry room (long story and why I think marble is a bad choice), and he can’t seem to be able turn on the faucet to wash out the grounds. Argh! 

No worries, I will work on that too

The first thing I needed to do was to find the right color for the laundry room. I thought yellow would be a cute choice but my kitchen already had some yellow there. Plus the bamboo floor in that room was already yellowish (it has since been replaced thanks to “the flood of 2015!” LOL).

And I also didn’t want the room to be an extension of the kitchen but its own little world.

Most of the rooms in my house have their own color. And the only beige wall is still beige only because it’s in a spot I can’t reach (we have a 20 ft ceiling in the foyer). I’m afraid of heights and don’t trust the husband with a brush (I still love him. He buys me tools! HA!). So it’s still there is all its beige glory!

So when it was time to paint the laundry room I wanted it to be a pop of color and that matched something in the room. Since matching the floor was out I chose to match the wall with the gray veins in the marble counter top.

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Gray is my new best friend

Yes, gray is the new beige. I’m not a fan of beige but yes, I can live with gray!

And since I was planning to redo the bathroom right next to the laundry room in gray (also thanks to the flood of 2015), I decided for a slightly darker gray for the wall.

Here’s is the laundry room with its new gray wall:

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This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure I can feed the cats in the neighborhood.

Paint is all I did. Some gray paint and POP! I can finally see my white cabinets!

Now it looks like a nice room with a nice counter top and new(ish) cabinets. I did repaint the broom closet since it was not a match cabinet from the other cabinets and the built-in was also not from the same system.

Oh, and I did use some elbow grease to restore that sink (I could not find a reasonably priced one that matched the size of that cabinet). Plus elbow grease is free and it did look brand new….until the next pot of coffee! Sigh.

I’m still day dreaming about a cool backsplash to give it an extra pop of color. For now a shelf with a cute sign (←here’s some other cool ones online) and a sweet little bird will do.

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I hope you liked this project. Find a small room to start if you are a little hesitant. A powder room is small enough or a coat closet if you want to start with something really REALLY small.

Happy Painting!

 

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Get a Toxic Person Out of Your Life and De-clutter Your Soul

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No man is an island or so they say. No one can function without the love or attention from our family and friends. Even a small gesture from strangers here and there is part of the cycle that it is life and contribute to your evolution. 

Heck, I just learn that my new friend’s husband works at the winery that makes my favorite wine! Little did I know that I’ve been helping support this new friend and her husband one wine at a time!! You just never know how your most simple actions are affecting someone!

One hand washes the other

What you do today will affect people across the globe. Call it butterfly effect or call it whatever you like. The reality is, we need all the help we can get. And that requires us to surround ourselves with people. Good people.

Yes, we learn a lot when dealing with difficult people but we still need to be surrounded with good people.

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We are not an Island but why not take a “vacation” for ourselves?

There are times when isolation is the best possible thing you can do to yourself and others. A time to concentrate and get to know “the real you”. Or a time to heal your soul and recover the energy that has been sucked from your life.

We isolate ourselves during illness or during hard times where the thought of giving one ounce of energy (or attention) to others would deplete any spec of whatever is left of you. There is nothing wrong with that. At all.

We must find balance when it comes to how much we “give” ourselves to others

Because I never quite belonged to one place (long story) I have learned to handle a distant relationship with friends and family. When I moved to the U.S. I left many friends behind. Some I kept up with and others I lost track. But they still live in the back of my mind and I always wish I could see them again.

For most people pushing a toxic person away is an impossible task. Either because they lack courage or are simply too polite to do it. Even if those people are absolutely toxic for you.

Know the difference between being a good friend and a doormat! A toxic person doesn’t!

We all have or had that one friend who is always in crisis. The one we all dropped everything we were doing to “accommodate” that friend. Or we went out of our way to console, wipe tears, hug or even spend hours and hours listening to that person’s drama. That is the definition of a “toxic person”.

While it is honorable to always be a good friend, at a certain point you need to stop and think about: “why are you always in this situation?” “Why isn’t someone else taking care of that person?

Did you notice how many of that person’s friends “scatter” when the drama begins? Why is that?

Well, you think: “I’m just being a good friend!” And you think that for years and years. Until you wake up one day and you notice that you just spent 1 hour of your time, right around dinner time listening to that person.

After you worked hard all day and you were hoping to sit down and eat and that phone rings: Everyday. Around the same time. And the story? Same as yesterday.

How do you know it’s the same again and again?

Because you start making a mental list of all the things you talked about already. Same as yesterday. And the day before and the year before. 5 years before.

“I know things are going to change, I can feel it” that person says. Today. Yesterday. Last year. 5 years ago. The toxic person is stuck in a loop!

So for a person used to helping others and whose profession is also helping others, there came a time I had to say “enough”.

What I noticed from that particular person is that she was afraid to succeed! Years gone by telling me the same goals and never realizing them.

Some were very simple and easy to accomplish. Others a little more difficult. All of them doable if she put her mind to it. I even offered to partner with that person and still she could not make herself do that either.

you’re going to say: Everyone has their own life and their own mission. 

Understood. What I don’t need is to spend hours, years even listening to the same list of goals and dreams, and the person still lives in the same house, same job, same everything.

So I came to the conclusion, after years of dealing with that toxic person that it was time to go. She didn’t need me. And I sure didn’t need her!

Better yet, by “jumping shipI was probably helping her! I don’t know. I haven’t talked to that person since, and it appears that nothing changed from what I hear from other people who know her.

The point of all this is: Yes, you are supposed to be a good friend and be there for other people. But if the relationship becomes toxic it’s time to go!

It’s not necessary to have an argument with that toxic person

You can certainly and gradually pull away. But I am from the school of just “pulling the bandaid”. So yank it! Right now!

If the world is about energy and having people around you is the “exchange” of energy, you do not need bad energy in your life. Life is tough as it is!

Imagine that all your friends are a colorful garden and as you look at each one of them, there is always a feeling of “goodness”.

You best friend is a good listener. Your friend from high school makes you laugh. Your church friend brings you peace. They all contribute to your life.

In exchange, I’m certain they get something good from you.

Or they would not be your friends. Whatever that “good” is, they love it and need it. But this is an even exchange. This is how it should be.

But imagine that in your garden someone is “eating” your leaves. You regrow them by spending time doing “the good” that you do. But then when that toxic person approaches, there go your leaves again. There is no exchange. Just destruction.

Even if it’s just a nibble each time. You don’t even notice.

The years go by and you’re still trying to give that person “your good” and that person takes your good but there is no return. Never.

The reality is, that lack of exchange is what  a relationship with a “toxic person” is

You can’t afford to “sustain” that person. You cannot afford to lose other friends and not be part of the “good” because you have to “rescue” that person. It’s time to go. You need “the good”. We ALL need “the good”

So look into your soul and your friends and family and make a mental list of those that are so toxic that you need to just walk away.

Don’t be afraid to yank the bandaid. Don’t be afraid to say no to that toxic person.

No! I can’t.

No, I won’t.

Why? “Because I don’t want to!”

“Say it! Out loud!”

Relish in the fact that as you are purging the “extra” physical things that you need to get rid of, know that “material things” will never hurt you (unless of course we are talking about a hoarding situation) toxic people will.

Sure, you can get rid of all the kid’s toys that are just cluttering the house. But your “mental clutter” is draining and consuming.

The kids toys can always go in a box. “Out of sight, out of mind”. But that person, who is constantly “nagging”, “bragging“, and “draining” you is never away. Even when you sleep!

It’s there inside you like a hammer on an anvil. Ping! Ping! Ping! That can never be put away.

Unless you finally realize that it’s time. That this toxic person doesn’t have a grip on you anymore.

It’s liberating! Oh, feel the breath of fresh air!

toxic-person-image-of-flowing-curtains-in-sunset-amigas4all

I can sit down for dinner and not be interrupted. I can have plans now, because they are not being reshuffled anymore to accommodate someone else’s needs!

If you are having second thoughts or “feel bad” about doing so, think about it this way:

-What are the things YOU dream of doing that this person has prevented you from doing?
-How many times has that person interrupted YOUR life so that she could get her “fix” from you (and I’m not talking drugs-just your presence or ears)?

If you need to write it down, then do it! Pros and cons

make-a-list-pros-cons-toxic-person

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure I can provide a good foster home until my feathered friends find their forever homes

Embarrassing to do that about a friend? NO! Not for a minute. Why? Because she would not have done any of those things for you.
-Would she stop eating to listen to you?
-Is that person willing to stop talking about herself to listen to you?
-Can that person drop everything she is doing to “rescue” you?

If the answer is no or I don’t know, then make that list! Read about it! (here’s a good read)

Remember: being a friend at a time of need is honorable. Being a doormat isn’t.

I never knew I was a doormat until I realized that in all those years I helped that person, she has not evolved one bit!

Not mentally, not professionally, not even her love life! What was all my help for, then?

Nothing! A total waste of time.

After purging this toxic person I feel better. I feel lighter and I have accomplished so much in just one year of not having that person around.

She was not the reason I was not accomplishing my goals, I still would have. But because I was not in “rescue” mode all the time I was able to use that time for me.

To meet new people. To be part of a network of people who share their knowledge and I am able to reciprocate with mine.

image-of-flower-toxic-people-post-amigas4allAll because my energy is efficient now. My aura is balanced. My garden is blooming with colorful flowers and not one “bug” to destroy what I have built in just one year without that toxic person.

So make that list if you have to. Purge your material items but also get rid of people that clutter your soul with negativity.

Regain your positive energy so you can concentrate on the “good” in your life.

And do help people! But focus on the ones that stand to gain with your help. This is not a financial gain or one more brick in your “heavenly home”.

I’m talking about knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life one small gesture at a time. You will know that you are when you see that person moving forward in his/her life, one way or another, positively!

All the best

How to Create a Budget and Maintain it without Starving-budgeting (2)

How to Create and Maintain a Budget Without Starving

The biggest issue most people have when trying to fit in a budget is not seeing “the big picture”. The big picture is your income versus your budget.

Once you have the big picture you will be able to “see” what kind of budget you will need to fit in.

Most people fit in 4 categories: “Thrifty” (or extremely thrifty), “Thrifty but will splurge occasionally”, “the big spender” and “the hoarder“.

Believe it or not, these categories have nothing to do with how much a person makes a month. These are simply “behaviors” around money. The “big spender” is not necessarily a millionaire and you can certainly have a millionaire who is extremely thrifty. Ebenezer Scrooge, anyone?

Before preparing a budget or even considering a budget you need to know what you are and where you fit in those categories. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Dodging that question will only prolong the issues you are having with your budget.

Pretend you are going to an addicts meeting. Look at yourself in the mirror and say:

“Hi, my name is so and so and I’m a_________ (Insert your budget behavior here)”.

No one needs to hear it but you. You can do this in the bathroom, bedroom or in a forest. As long as YOU are listening.

Why should I be asking the budget behavior question?

If you are asking yourself that question you probably have a stack of bills and you are panicking about what to do with all of them. Or you are having a “guilt trip” about that trip to Europe (Should I stay or Should I go?).

Or you just can’t accept the fact that someone did not give you that 1 cent change at the grocery store and you are grumbling about it for 3 days.

Finally, do you live pay check to pay check because you buy collectibles? Things that you think or know are collectibles and sit on those things for years? Without negotiating them or using them (boxed Superman toys, anyone?)?

Who do I want to be on Budget Behavior?

Of course, most people want or should be in the “thrifty but will splurge occasionally category”.

The person in this category knows how much he/she makes, plans the bills and expenses. That person has just a bit left to save for something big and expensive, or for retirement.

There is a good balance of budgeting and behavior. Why? Because while we shouldn’t be throwing money away, life is short and it should be lived.

If you worked all year and lived tight to save some money to go to Europe, please go to Europe!!

Now, if you have an excellent salary but you count the number of toilet paper sheets you use when going to the bathroom (yes, I’m going there!) then you are extremely thrifty.

I know it’s your money and you can do whatever you want with it. I also agree that saving for a rainy day is an excellent idea. But it saddens me to think you are eating oatmeal for lunch and dinner. And you make six figures a year and won’t spend on anything! This is a bit extreme.

And in the end, you die and either someone else will burn that money real quick or it goes to the government. So, why not enjoy the fruits of your labor?

The Big Spender

The big spender usually has an average salary that could give him/her a comfortable life but that person’s life is surrounded by luxury she/he can’t afford.

I once knew a person who lived in an 800sq ft apartment and had 3 TVs! Oh, and he didn’t own them. He rented them!! Who needs 3 TVS anyway? (The guy was single too!).

Another person I knew owned a Hummer and was a stay a home dad. He said he was pursuing an “acting career” (nothing wrong with a stay at home dad or having dreams). However, it was not ok to see his wife driving a “beater”. And she was working two jobs because they could not pay their bills including that big Hummer!

REALLY?!

Another characteristic of the big spender is high credit card debt and nothing to show for. This is a person who buys a lot of trinkets, purses, and expensive things that lose value as soon as they leave the store.

The big spender also buys or “needs” to buy brand names only. The thought of buying some secondary brand is “so last year” for that person.

The hoarder

I’m not talking about the ones from the TV show but some can certainly fit in that category. I’m talking about the toy collector, the comics collector, the car collector who has 20 cars in various stages of restoration but that are rusting by the minute and nothing gets done about them.

You don’t restore it, you don’t use it but it’s there. Taking real estate in your yard or your bookshelves and giving you no joy or money.

And the most absurd part of it all, the hoarder lives paycheck to paycheck and yet they are usually sitting on a small fortune!

Why not sell? Live better?

Wanna have a small collection? Sure, but when you can’t even feed the dogs because of your collection, you have a problem! Sell some of that stuff that you know you will never use, restore or play with!

Finding balance on spending behaviors

We all should strive to find balance in life. It’s not just starvation or big spending. You can have a comfortable life with very little and an uncomfortable life with a lot. So strive for a middle ground.

Now that we know who we are, it’s time to create a budget so we can at least find peace of mind knowing that we can “make it” to the end of the month.

The Bankruptcy Method of Budgeting (hear me out!)

I am going to show you how applying a “Bankruptcy” method of creating a budget will put things into perspective when it comes to balancing your budget.

Oh, and I’m not saying you are bankrupt or that you will need to file for bankruptcy when we are done (well, it may come to that for some). But it is eye-opening when you see how it works.

First, I need to explain the difference between the most common types of bankruptcies most people file so you can understand what a tight budget is and what a more flexible budget is.

The tightest form of budgeting is applied to a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the one where you eliminate all of your debts (with some exceptions and exemptions. And this is a very generic explanation).

Now, to qualify for this type of bankruptcy there is a certain budget that the courts allow and when comparing your net income (after taxes) and your expenses, there cannot be any money left to spend AFTER paying all of your BASIC* bills. You are either at zero or in the negative.

That’s why you fit in a Chapter 7. There is no money left to pay creditors.

If you find yourself in this situation after doing the Chapter 7 budget then it’s time to tighten the belt. Something it’s gotta give!

The Chapter 7 budget will likely reveal where you are spending too much on or where you are losing control on things.

Yes, I understand your salary simply may not cover everything. That’s why we will talk about tightening your belt here (yes, even more!).

The Chapter 13 budget

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is the type that you repay a portion of your debts (again with variations and lots of rules).

In this type of budgeting, you have the money to pay all of your BASIC bills and there is some money left over. If there’s money left over, why would anyone need to file a Chapter 13?

That’s where things get interesting and where a lot of people get in trouble. Yes, there is money to pay all the basic bills but not enough money to pay for credit cards and other “splurges”.

The person is simply overextended.

This happens a lot with people using credit cards and not realizing that they can’t even make the minimum payments. That is, your basic bills plus just the minimum payments eat all your income and more.

That’s why they fit into this category. A Chapter 13 repayment plan will allow some of the debts (not all of them) to be forgiven but you will still pay a portion of them.

The Bankruptcy Budget Outline:

List all of your earnings: Salary (after taxes), rental income, overtime pay. List any and every source of income. Add the total.

Outline all your BASIC bills: These are the “bankruptcy budget” acceptable bills (Do not include credit cards here).

The BASIC* bills are:

Rent/Mortgage (does it include tax and Insurance?) This should not exceed 35% of your salary

Utilities: Water, electricity, gas, oil (heating), sewer, trash, telephone (landline) and cell phone.

Home Maintenance: This only applies if you hire a gardener to clean your yard or mow the lawn every month or a pool person. It also applies for minor repairs around the house.

This is a place where you can cut costs. Do you really need a gardener? Can you or the kids help with the lawn?

Can you learn to DIY some of these repairs? 

Food: This will vary per State-Some states have a very high cost of living. But this is another area that needs to be trimmed to BASIC necessities. Do you really need that candy or that expensive yogurt if you are trying to cut costs and make things fit within your salary?

Notice that if you cut “crappy foods” you may spend less in the long run even if you think fast food cost less than a head of lettuce. There are health considerations with that change too.

You eat better, you spend less with doctors. Not always true. but in most cases, you see a difference after a while.

Clothing: Do you buy clothes every month? If so, set a budget for the year and stick with it.

For example: Say you select $80 a month for clothes. If you don’t buy anything this month, now you have $160 for next month.

If you budget it this way, you will see that you will have more money than you think and may even see that you don’t need all of that money to buy clothes. You may also find that you are spending way more than that amount in clothes per month (or week!), and that’s why you are “blowing” your budget.

Maybe visit outlet stores or consider overstock type stores. Stick with the basics to start: classic pants, shirts, underwear, socks, classic shoes. Buy clothes that are “neutral” in style and that can be worn for years.

Save the “in season” stuff as an extra that you can only buy if you were “good” with the budget the month before(meaning, you did not spend the whole monthly budget in clothes.

If you don’t require a business wardrobe consider the basics too: t-shirts, pants, socks, sweaters, basic shorts. Do you really need a brand name? What you could buy for $50 maybe available for $20 somewhere else just because of that label.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning: Do you wear a lot of suits? If so, consider ways to rotate them so you don’t require weekly dry cleaning. For the ladies, maybe buy some classic pants that could be worn as separates with your suit jackets for example. It’s better for the environment too!

Medical and Dental: These can really do some damage to the expenses unless you are insured.

But just like a credit card minimum payment, those co-pays add up if you have a medical condition and need to be at the doctor all the time. If the time is right, consider revisiting your health plan to see if you can get a lower cost plan and with better coverage for co-pays.

Of course, usually, the lower the co-pays the higher that deductible is.

Same goes for the insurance monthly payments (even if you are partly covered by your employer). For medical expenses, consider any out of pocket expenses such as co-pays, medications you need every month and maintenance fees for braces for the kids, for example.

Transportation: You need to check your gas consumption per month, oil changes, tire changes. Do you drive for a living? Who covers the cost? Does your employer pay for mileage?

Try to stick to a monthly budget if all you do is go to work and back. Carpooling can save you some money too.

Recreation: this is a “budget blower” for sure! Cable, Internet, Magazines, Newspapers, clubs, your subscription channels.

Do you really need all those channels? There are many “cut-your-cable” options out there nowadays.

Internet: This one is almost like the air we breathe.

Consider having home internet and watching your usage of data on the cell phone. Sometimes we are “LOL-ing” too much when we are out and about not realizing that we are paying for too much cell phone data that could be reduced if only we used that time to talk to people instead of staring at our phones.

I just “blew” my phone data this month because I went on a trip and used the phone GPS for directions on a 5-hour round trip! Yes, even us professionals mess it up sometimes!

Insurance: Health insurance (if not covered by employer), auto insurance. Can you check for lower rates? I know, we put off doing these things and end up going for another year “just because…”).

Life Insurance (consider the type that allows you to have access to it instead of term life where the money just goes away if you stop paying).

Taxes: if not deducted from wages or self-employment.

– Installments: car payment (consider buying an older car that it’s paid for).

Remember that a new car loses value as soon as you drive it out the lot!

There are excellent cars out there from private parties if you know where to look. If you can’t afford to pay for one out of pocket then finance it with your own bank.

You will be surprised how much money you can save. Plus you don’t have to deal with a car salesman pitch (no offense if you are one).

Alimony/child support: another “budget blower”. But please pay your dues!

You don’t want to end up in court. However, if your financial situation changed, don’t wait until you are so far behind that now they are looking at wage garnishment.

That would certainly mess with your budget BIG TIME! Going to court may allow you to lower your payments and you will still be on time with your duties to your kid(s) and ex.

Payments to support others: This can really mess with someone’s budget.

That family member who is always in trouble and you always “bail” him/her. Or your kid in college (does he/she have arms and legs?)

They can work!

Even if it’s just for a few hours a week to help out with some of their expenses. Think of it this way, if you had to work to survive college, they can too!

I know you want to be a good parent and help but if you are not meeting your minimum payments just so your kid can go to “Toga” parties and study, then you are not teaching them responsibility too.

Life is tough and if they don’t learn how to budget soon, they will never learn.

Expenses for your business: if you are self-employed. (That’s another set of budget tips for another post).

Miscellaneous expenses: Set a budget for lipstick, nail polish. For the guys: buying tools or any other extras that you like: lotion? New pens?

Make sure they are necessary and that you will use them until they are finished BEFORE buying a new one (I say this because I’m addicted to buying mascaras! Long lashes, volume lashes, you name it! I need to improve that for sure!)

Contributions for retirement: This is important if you have any leftover money. If nothing is left then cutting expenses would certainly allow you to start this.

Even if it’s $10 a month. Put it away in a retirement account (consult your banker of course) and “forget” that money.

The list is extensive but you can narrow it down to your situation and expenditures and take control of your expenses.

The bankruptcy method of budgeting follows the guidelines from the IRS. Believe it or not, they have guidelines for expenses that you can use and they are even divided by States. That way you can fit your budget more closely to the cost of living in your State if it’s higher than the national average.

Here’s a link to the IRS siteNotice that the IRS budget is posted for collection purposes but you can use this as a guide if you are trying to fit into the “bankruptcy budget” I’m suggesting.

Don’t forget that when doing a monthly budget, start with your last 6 months of expenses as a comparison. That’s the only way you will figure out how to average things out like electricity (hot months versus cold) or seasonal expenses.

For example: If during the summer you use more AC and your bill is $400 a month for 3 months and during the winter it goes down to $100, then average it out by multiplying $400 x 3 and the average for the lower months and multiply that by 9.

So if on the higher months the total is $1200 and for the rest of the year it’s $100 on the average, then $1200 plus $900 = $2100 a year/12=$175 per month.

That’s is, you should budget $175 a month for electricity.

The months that the bill is only $100 you set aside that $75. When the higher months come along then you will have that money sitting there. You will be able to make ends meet when you get that $400 bill in the summer because you saved for it.

The same goes for every expense that you don’t spend every month like medical or home repairs, tire, and oil changes too.

I hope you use these tips to create and maintain a healthy budget. You don’t need to splurge all the time. Honestly, if you have a roof over your head, a warm bed, and food, what else do we need?

Click on the link below and get a nifty budget “cheat sheet”.  You can use it to create your own budget and be on your way to financial stability.

yes-i-want-my-budget-cheatsheet image of button

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this style of budgeting. Oh, and don’t forget to check my friend HoangChi’s blog. She talks a lot about being a minimalist and living within your budget. She also has great advice on getting rid of excess stuff and even making some money in the process.

See you soon!

the-12-days-of-halloween-ghost-stories ghost town

The 12 Days of Halloween-Part 12-Visiting a Ghost Town

On the 12th Day of Halloween my true love said to meeee…12 visits to a Ghost town, 11 Halloween wine charms, 10 Day of the Dead headband(s), 9 candy wreath(s), 8 dragon eggs, 7 fluffy Halloween pillow(s), 6 Halloween Banner(s), 5 Keep Out sign(s), 4 Jack O’ Lantern, 3 creepy spiders, 2 friendly ghosts…lots of candy in a bag-eeee!

Today we have a treat for you and it’s not anything you make or cook. So take a seat and relax. Maybe grab some wine or hot chocolate and join me in this adventure… Let’s go on a trip to an Arizona ghost town.

Without creepy stories there would not be a real Halloween season, right? 

’twas the night before Halloween and I was really down. I was bored through my skull and wanted to get out of town.

So I looked at a map when driving from home and on the GPS pops the town of Jerome.

halloween-ghost-town-image-of-the-town-of-jerome-arizona

So I drove up the freeway with curious glee, little did I know that how spooky ‘t would be.

halloween-ghost-town-old-house

halloween-ghost-town-image-do-not-enter-sign

halloween-ghost-town-image-of-old-barn

halloween-ghost-story-image-of-old-torn-down-building

A town like no other, population 500 but no one had told me the town was most haunted.

With narrowing streets as high as a kite this ghost town has people that walk through the night.

A biker town with riders in a bar while others are looking to buy a cigar.

halloween-ghost-town-image-of-connor-hotel

But the most interesting thing lurking up in the hill is the Asylum Hotel that was once a place to heal.

halloween-ghost-town-image-of-the-asylum-hotel

A hospital for miners during the early days of the city then abandoned and forgotten, the place was a pity.

Then one day just like magic the place once forgotten, it’s now a hotel for folks to get frightened.

The haunting begins at the hotel’s elevator. But beware of the story so hold on to your neighbor.

Now a fellow working down at the shaft got his neck cut off without warning or chat.

So when you look at the glass while you visit the shop don’t be surprised if the air temperature drops.

But there are many stories and this one I will tell, not all people are alive walking through that hotel.

There is a sad story of a mother who died she thought ’twas her daughter but she was not right.

For the daughter survived and was able to heal but the mother to this day relives that ordeal.

So if all through the night you hear a mother ‘a callin’ know that she lives in the halls of the fallen.

There are so many stories to tell you about it but it’s almost midnight and the candy is calling.

If you feel like visiting this town for Halloween know that this ghost town is not very mean.

halloween-ghost-town-image-of-old-bank

There are many visitors living and dead, and seeing you leave makes them really really sad.

So come to this ghost town, population 500 you won’t regret it if you like going “haunting”

The real ghost town story of Jerome

I wanted to finish the series with this ghost town story because like the 12 days of Christmas ’twas an interesting story to tell.

The town is in Jerome, Arizona and it was once a miner town where in the late 1800’s and early 1900s copper was a huge source of income. 

The city once housed 15,000 people and went through ups and downs including 4 fires that destroyed half the city. But now a lot of artists make it a cute place to visit for a day trip on the weekend.

halloween-ghost-town-gallery-image

The town of Jerome is less than two hours away from Phoenix and from its hills you can see the mountains around Sedona, Arizona. It’s one of my favorite places to visit! Check it out sometime. It has so many cool ghost stories. Too many to tell!

halloween-ghost-town-image-of-sedona-mountain

I think nothing says Halloween like a visit to a ghost town.

I hope you enjoyed our series about “The 12 Days of Halloween”.

See you soon and Happy Halloween!

Cheers!

 

 

The 12 Days of Halloween-Part 11-Halloween Wine Charms

On the 11th Day of Halloween my true love said to meeee…11 Halloween wine charms, 10 Day of the Dead headband(s), 9 candy wreath(s), 8 dragon eggs, 7 fluffy Halloween pillow(s), 6 Halloween Banner(s), 5 Keep Out sign(s), 4 Jack O’ Lantern, 3 creepy spiders, 2 friendly ghosts…lots of candy in a bag-eeee!

We traveled the world of Halloween decorating and covered from costumes, to food, to party decor and even a pillow!

Today, we will add an extra “charm” to the party (pun intended!). We will be making Halloween wine charms!

Setting yourself apart as a host

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure trick or treaters will have candy on Halloween

Just like most of our latest Halloween projects anyone can make these Halloween wine charms. They will give you party that extra, well, charm that shows you are a great host and your guests will feel extra special too.

How nice it is to know your guests are not going to lose their wine glass if they set it down somewhere. It will actually save you a lot of wine too since you won’t have to throw away a perfectly good full glass of wine because you don’t know who it belongs to! 

When I throw a party I invite one person and 10 people end up coming!

Those Brazilians! Well, for us the more the merrier so I don’t mind. But it can get a little crazy. And despite “cachaça” being the famous Brazilian distilled drink, “my Brazilians” like wine. A lot of wine!

So when 100 Brazilians show up at my house I need these charms or no one will know where their glasses are!

I made a ton of these charms for my parties. I have charms for most occasions: regular parties, Christmas ones, wedding ones. You name it, I have it.

There was just one holiday I never made charms for and that’s Halloween!

I got inspired to make these charms when I came across these Halloween rings. halloween-wine-charms-image-of-skull-rings I thought I could just paint them in various combinations of color and then I could cut the ring loop in the middle and the ring would hook right on the stem of the wine glass. How cool is that?! You can get something similar to these rings online.

For now, let’s make some Halloween wine charms and now my collection will be complete! Mua-haha!

Materials for the Halloween wine charms

The first thing you will need is a thin gauge flexible wire.

image-of-halloween-wine-charms-steel-wireI like stainless steel because it won’t rust but feel free to use galvanized if it’s what you have around.

Another option if you don’t want to use a wire is to use a thin ribbon, rope or yarn. The reason I like the wire is because you can open and close. With the rope you have to tie it when using it. But then after the party there you are either untying the string if you want to reuse the charm, or you are cutting it off and there goes your ability to reuse the charm.

The next thing you will need is anything and everything Halloween you can find that it’s small and durable for your charm.

halloween-wine-charm-image-of-cut-outs

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-stickers

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-ribbons

If you have left over Halloween signs with small bats or pumpkins you can cut those out and use that. You can also find prints online and print them on paper or card stock and you cut them and decorate them.

Finally, you will need needle nose pliers and a thick tube or pen that you can use as your template for the wire bending. I used one of those highlighter pens. It was just the right thickness for the loop.

Making the Halloween Wine charm wire 

The first thing we need to do is the wire loop where you will be hanging your charm. It’s super easy.

Grab a piece of wire and loop it around your tube or pen.

halloween-wire-charms-image-of-bent-wire

Leave a little bit of extra wire so you can twist it at the end. This twist will be the hook to close the charm around the glass stem. Be sure the hooks are flat on the tube or pen or it will be difficult to close the hooks when using the charm.

Placing the Halloween wine charm pendant

The next step is running the charm through the wire hook.

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-wire-though-cut-out If you are using a cut out be sure to pierce a hole on it so you can run the wire through.

Another method is to run the cut out through the wire first before bending the wire.

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-wire-through-cut-out-withot-twisting

Then place the cut out in the middle of a section of wire and twist the wire right above the cut out.

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-wire-through-cut-out-withot-twistingYou will then bend the wire around the tube or pen and close the hook.

The many faces of a Halloween Wine charm

These Halloween wine charms are so easy to make you almost have to be careful. If you sit in front of the TV and start working on these you will have 100 charms just watching one show!

Here are the different types of Halloween wine charms I made using what I had around the house as pendants.

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-cat

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-pumpkin

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-googly-skull

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-googly-skull

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-jack-o-lantern

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-some-charms

halloween-wine-charms-image-of-more-charms

I hope you had fun making these as much as I had.

And remember that you are not limited to Halloween. You can make these for all occasions!

You know those earrings you can’t find the pair anymore? Or that bracelet that broke but you can’t make yourself throw it away because it has all these cute dangly things? Use them!

I am a big fan of upcycling, and repurposing. And this is a great opportunity to do that.

Join me tomorrow for our last project for “The 12 Days of Halloween”.

Cheers!!

 

 

the-12-days-of-halloween-day-of-the-dead-and-headband

The 12 Days of Halloween-Part 10-A Day of the Dead Headband and a Freebie!

On the 10th Day of Halloween my true love said to meeee…10 Day of the Dead headband(s), 9 candy wreath(s), 8 dragon eggs, 7 fluffy Halloween pillow(s), 6 Halloween Banner(s), 5 Keep Out sign(s), 4 Jack O’ Lantern, 3 creepy spiders, 2 friendly ghosts…lots of candy in a bag-eeee!

A Day of the Dead costume is likely the cheapest and easiest Halloween costume you can possibly make. For the ladies, any dress will do and for the guys, any suit will do. The secret is in the make up and accessories.

Today I’m going to show you how you can make a Day of the Dead headband for the ladies!

Materials for the Day of the Dead Headband

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The most obvious material of course is a headband.

image-of-headband-for-day-of-the-dead-headband-projectNothing fancy but preferably plastic and wide. You don’t want those wire thin ones because you will need a good base. If you don’t have a headband at home but you have some wire, you can shape the wire into the shape of a headband and wrap some fabric or ribbon around it to give it a little more width.

The next item you will need is artificial flowers.

image-of-purple-flower-for-day-of-the-dead-headband-projectAny flower you like. Roses, Daisies, you pick. Dollar store flowers are more than fine unless you really want to go fancy. I find that the more “cemetery-looking-cheap-artificial” flowers you can get the coolest it looks.

To glue the flowers the best thing and quickest will be a hot glue gun. Anything else and you will need to wait for each flower to dry. That will take hours, not minutes like the glue gun.

Finally, you will need ribbons for the finishing touch. I found some cool Halloween ribbons online. But you can use just about any type you like.

Making the Day of the Dead headband 

You have the choice to wrap the headband with a ribbon before you start but I think if you do that you will have a headache by the end of the night. Those headbands are already tight as they are and adding a ribbon will make it even tighter.

If you’re worried that the headband will show, don’t! There will be so many flowers on it that there’s not way anyone will see under them.

The first thing you want to do is push any leaves that come with the flowers up (closer to the base of the flower).

Then cut the flowers at the stem leaving about 1/2 in of wire. Bend the stem with pliers. This will give you some surface to glue the flower.

Hold the headband firmly and apply a small glob of hot glue just about 3 inches from the tip of the headband.

image-of-flower-for-the-day-of-the-dead-headband-project-hot-glue-gun-the-first-flowerPlace the first flower and hold until the glue is dry (about 30 secs to 1 minute).

image-of-flowers-staggered-for-day-of-the-dead-headband-projectStagger the flowers: one forward and one backward so you can cover the front and back of the headband. Space each flower at about 1 to 2 inches apart depending on the size of the flowers you chose.

Placement of the flowers on the headband

I started with all the purple flowers first. Then I added the black flowers later. You can apply the flowers however you like. You don’t have to start with one color then the next like I did. The reason I chose to do it this way was because I wanted to have some control on how the colors go together and how much of each color I wanted.

After the purple flowers were glued I started placing the black flowers.

image-of-day-of-the-dead-headband-project-with-black-flowersIf you find some blank spots that need a little something to add more volume, get one of the left over leaves from the flowers you cut and hot glue them to the band in the area you want to cover.

image-of-day-of-the-dead-headband-with-black-flowers-in-placeThe Day of the Dead headband is looking good already!

Adding some extra sauce to the Day of the Dead Headband

What makes the Day of the Dead theme so cool is that it has a touch of glamour but in a creepy-licious way. So the next step and the finishing touch on our Day of the Dead headband is applying the ribbons.

day-of-the-dead-headband-image-of-ribbonsI chose 3 different types of ribbons and of various widths and I cut 2 sets of three ribbons at about the same size (in this case about 12 inches long).

Place the thickest ribbon first and then hot glue the medium sized ribbon on top of it and then the thinnest one. To glue them together just put a drop of hot glue at the tip of the ribbon.

image-of-day-of-the-dead-headband-project-hot-gluing-the-ribbonsOnce the glue on each set of ribbons is dried apply a dab of glue to the headband right under the first flower on each end. That’s it!

Your Day of the Dead headband!

image-of-the-day-of-the-dead-headband-final-product

How do you like my model? Isn’t this “Calavera” the coolest thing?!

Notice the extra cherry on top with the little skull added to the headband?

image-of-skull-on-day-of-the-dead-headband

Here it is a little closer! You can also add spiders and other creepy insects to the headband.

Completing the costume

Find a dress matching the colors of the flowers you chose and your costume is ready. You can also wear a long skirt and a puffy blouse for an authentic Day of the Dead costume.

Here are some Day of the Dead headbands in different colors and flowers.

day-of-the-dead-headband-in-red

day-of-the-dead-headband-in-lbue

Now, no Day of the Dead costume is ready without the make up!

Remember, I mentioned a freebie in the title of my post?

Guess what?!

By clicking the link below you will be getting a template for a Day of the Dead make up! Enjoy!

gimme-my-freebie

Join me tomorrow for one another cool Halloween project! I hope you had a good time making this Day of the Dead headband.

Cheers!

 

the-12-days-of-halloween-candy-wreath

The 12 Days of Halloween-Part 9-Candy Wreath-The Lazy Man’s Halloween!

On the 9th Day of Halloween my true love said to meeee… 9 candy wreath(s), 8 dragon eggs, 7 fluffy Halloween pillow(s), 6 Halloween Banner(s), 5 Keep Out sign(s), 4 Jack O’ Lantern, 3 creepy spiders, 2 friendly ghosts…lots of candy in a bag-eeee!

Today’s Halloween project is sweet. Really sweet! I mean, covered in sweets!! Like, all around the loop sweet!

I’m talking about a Halloween candy wreath!

That’s right! If you dream of a quiet night on Halloween and don’t feel like handing out candy, why not make your front door do all the work?!

Sure, some kids may take more candy than they should but you can certainly put creepy Halloween signs like “Eat it at your own risk” or “one candy per kid” or “the big bad wolf will get ya”. A spooky good time indeed!

This wreath is so easy to make you can even recruit the kids to help you out. It is also a great gift idea for teachers or an ice breaker at the office. How cool it would be to hand out candy and “pretty up” the place in the process?!

So join me now in this sweet adventure making a Halloween candy wreath.

Materials for the candy wreath

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The first thing you will need is a wreath base. You can use a foam base, straw or even a pool noodle as your base. I used a straw wreath because it was a lot cheaper than the foam. But I can tell you that the foam is much easier to work with. But it was $3.99 versus $9.99, so straw wreath it is!!

halloween-candy-wreath-straw-base-image

The next thing you are going to need is candy and lots of it.

I opted for lollipops because all I had to do was insert the sticks into the foam. That’s it!. If you use regular candy you will need to either hot glue them or use a stapler to secure them. 

Also realize, one candy is not that heavy, but when you add 300 of them you can imagine the weight. So if you can, stick with lollipops. You’re welcome!

I have seen wreaths made with candy bars too. This is also an option as they may be easier to secure onto a wreath. You will definitely need a hot glue gun for this.

Finally, you will need ribbons of various sizes and colors (I found some cool Halloween ribbons on Amazon). You can also add other decorative items like flowers or Halloween lettering if you prefer.

Making the candy Wreath

Place the wreath onto a table or counter top and start placing each candy from inside out in a row. Make the first row as close to the center of the wreath as possible. Then move outwards until the last row touches your work surface.

halloween-candy-wreath-straw-base-with-candy-image

Notice my lollipops had 3 different colors so I decided to stagger halloween-candy-wreath-with-lollipop-on-base-imagethem. Also, usually you want to wrap your wreath with ribbon or yarn to cover the wreath before you start working. You don’t want to do that here. Otherwise, your sticks won’t got into the foam.

Of course, if you are hot glue-ing your candy I suggest you wrap the wreath first since the hot glue may melt your foam base before you are able to add any candy to it. A ribbon will ensure that does not happen.

Finishing touches for the candy wreath

After you are done placing the candy or lollipops onto the base you will need to wrap the center of the wreath with ribbon or fabric to cover any spots where the foam can be visible.

halloween-candy-wreath-straw-base-image-with-ribbonIn my project, I opted for a ribbon in the center. I didn’t bother with the back of the wreath since the candy covered the wreath base almost all around the back. I used tacky glue to glue the ribbon but you can use hot glue or school glue for this.

The Cherry on top of the Candy Wreath

Every wreath needs a big bow to make it complete. I chose a larger orange wired ribbon for the larger bow. halloween-candy-wreath-ribbon-bow-imageThen added a purple and black flower in the middle and added a black bow behind the flowers for volume. There are many good tutorials for bows on Pinterest.

It’s not my fortè but it looks good enough. No one will care for the bow. I promise you. Unless you are crafty. Then at least I made you laugh! HA!

halloween-candy-wreath-rope-imageDon’t forget to run a rope, wire or some kind of yarn to hang the wreath on your door. I would not recommend hot glue-ing a hook. The weight is probably too much for that.

And here it is! The Halloween Candy Wreath in all it’s glory!!

halloween-candy-wreath-final-product-image

So, what do you think?! How sweet is this?! Sooo sweet!

This project was so easy to make it and eating the candy in the process! It literally took me 30 minutes to make the wreath (well, not counting my entanglement with the ribbon!).  Ribbon: 1 x Me: 0!

Join me tomorrow for our 10th Day of Halloween! Almost at the finish line! Can you smell the candy?

Cheers!

 

dragon-eggs-halloween

The 12 Days of Halloween-Part 8-Halloween Dragon Eggs

On the 8th Day of Halloween my true love said to meeee… 8 dragon eggs, 7 fluffy Halloween pillow(s), 6 Halloween Banner(s), 5 Keep Out sign(s), 4 Jack O’ Lantern, 3 creepy spiders, 2 friendly ghosts…lots of candy in a bag-eeee!

Dragon eggs? On Halloween?

That’s right! You must be thinking: Dragons and Halloween don’t really mix. This is not Comicon even though we wear costumes!

But wait! What if your costume is a “Mother of Dragons” costume? Wouldn’t it be cool to carry dragon eggs around to compliment your costume? And here’s a even wilder idea:

What if you can eat those dragon eggs? 

Oh yeah!!! In this whole series we learned how to make all sorts of Halloween decorations. But how about food?!

Of course, everyone will bring creepy looking foods like the man on the tray with sausage as his bowels, or franks made to look like fingers, or the jello worms made with straws. But these are not part of a costume. Not usually.

So today we will be making a prop that is part costume/part food. This is so cool your guests will be wowed with your talent and the connection to your favorite show/costume!

The recipe for making these dragon eggs is actually in my post about Giant Easter eggs here.

What?! What does Easter have to do with Halloween?

Huh, nuthin’! Except that we will be making eatable dragon eggs. And to make this work we will be making chocolate eggs. And what better season to find recipes for chocolate eggs? Easter, of course!

So follow the recipe for molding and forming the egg (Easter egg tutorial here). Notice that my mold had these indentations that made it look like scales.

Amiga4all giant easter egg dragon eggs plastic mold 1

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You can find molds on Amazon very easily. The one on the link has latices and they could work. But if you want scales like mine you will need to do them by hand since my molds were bought in Brazil and I haven’t seen anything like this in the U.S.

What if I don’t have a mold with scales?

You can use a heated fork or skewer to draw the scales. But be careful not to puncture the egg or you will have to start over. You may also make a “branding” tool with stainless steel wire to make the scales too. 

That way you don’t have to draw on the egg and less risk of puncturing it. Notedon’t use galvanized steel wire-Not food grade!). And if you do puncture the egg, just melt it and start over with the molding process.

Dragon Eggs!

Here they are!! In all their chocolaty glory!! I love the scales and how shiny they look.

image of halloween dragon eggs

Now you have to put the egg together or you can serve them just the way they are in the picture (in half, face down). If you decide to put them together you can make a nice presentation by using a box or a small trunk with a cool liner. Maybe an earth tone napkin or even celophane.

Here’s an even wilder idea: What if you could make that chocolate dragon egg iridescent?! You can find eatable iridescent glitter online. Be sure to follow the instructions of application. But you want to make sure you just lightly brush the glitter onto the chocolate surface or it will lose it’s character.

Place your dragon eggs presentation on the counter or table and WOW your guests! 

To keep the eggs together you can use melted chocolate to “weld” them together. You can also use tin foil in various colors for the initial presentation.

Amiga4all giant easter egg dragon eggs plastic mold egg together

If you put them in foil make sure you delicately rub on the surface of the foil so that the scales appear in the foil.

Now, if the eggs are in foil most people won’t know it’s eatable unless you tell them. So why not make a sign like the one below?

Just copy the image onto a word processing or photo imaging program and print! Go ahead, use this one! It’s ready to go for you!

halloween-dragon-eggs-sign

Making it extra special

If you decide to weld your egg halves together or even wrap them in foil you can fill them with more chocolate. And, you can use any type of chocolate, nuts or candy. Use your imagination.

Here’s what I did for my Easter egg. But you can find candy with Halloween colors for an extra touch! 

Amiga4all giant easter egg dragon eggs plastic mold egg with bonbon

I hope you liked making these! I sure did! Yummers!

I know they are not creepy looking like most Halloween foods but how cool is it to have chocolate dragon eggs be part of your costume!!

See you tomorrow for more!

Cheers!