Friday, January 27, 2012

Upcycled Domino Tile Pendant Necklace

My metals/jewelry making class that I am taking has inspired to create some really cute upcycled/recycled tile art necklaces.  I was at the thrift shop last month and I picked up this tin full of Dora the Explorer domino type pieces.  They were in great shape and made of a nice heavy filled plastic/resin with white on one side and Dora characters on the other side.  I sat them aside until this past weekend when I thought – I need to do something with those cute little pieces.  By nature, I’m a big recycler.  I love taking something old and making it new.  I’ve seen these necklaces all over Etsy so I thought I would give it a try.  So, while hubby was out and about, I plopped down at the kitchen table and began creating.

I had already downloaded a few art sheets specifically designed for domino size pieces from Etsy (these sheets are really inexpensive). You don’t have to use these, I just chose to.  Leading up to this project, I had already bought jewelry bales, jump rings, and chains.  While at my local Michael’s this past weekend, they had tons of jewelry findings on clearance, so I grabbed some really cute ones to add to some of the finished necklaces.

I used modge podge, modge podge dimensional and E6000 glue (in the future, I may switch to Diamond Glaze in lieu of the modge podge dimensional).
I glued my art design to the tile and allowed it to dry.  I then put several coats of modge podge dimensional as the top coat to give it shine and protection.  I then glued the jewelry bale to the back of the tile with the E6000 glue and allowed it to dry.  On a few of the pieces, I added some bling for extra affect! I LOVE the way they turned out – what do you think? 

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To see them all individually, go to my Etsy Shop

Linking up with:

Ladybird Ln

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Save 50% or More on College Books

I have spent that last 3 years finding the cheapest college books on the planet. And now with two college age students, I have to be even more prudent.  If you are looking for ways to cut down on the cost of supplying your child with his/her required text-books, take a look at how I did it.   NOTE:  this only covers buying the physical book as we did not download any books through a reader which might be even cheaper.

1. We would get the list of required books from the University student account website
2. We would look at the cost of each book if purchased directly from the University bookstore
3. I would then open up browsers to
    a. (free on-line book trading site)
    b. Ebay
    c. Amazon
    e. Chegg (on-line rental)
    f. Barnes and Noble.

Here is a real life example.  My daughter needed a book entitled “Research Methods in Social Relations (7th Edition)”  Hoyle and Judd.
School Price:  $140.56 new/$98 used: 
    a. Not available
    b. Ebay:  $92 - $109
    c. $64.96 - $71.01
    d.  $61.00
    e. Chegg:  $42.99 as a Rental
    f. Barnes and Noble:  $71.74

What I paid:  $42.23 from Amazon two weeks prior to writing this article.  Amazon’s inventory changes daily.  I ordered as soon as we found out what book she needed and avoided ordering at the last minute when inventory levels are lower.

I have been successful at getting free books from  All you need is to sign up for an account and list some of your old books that are just lying around.  After listing them, people can electronically request a book from you.  When this happens, you mail it at your expense (a couple bucks at the most) and you then receive a credit.  You can use this credit to pick from among the thousands of books listed on this site.   I have been trading books on for over a year and I love it. 

I have probably ordered the most books from Amazon, but I have used every site listed at one time or another after comparing prices.  After the semester is over, I re-sell the books on Amazon and usually re-coup at least half of my money if not more.  Amazon also has a buy-back program that pays pretty well if the book is still being used.

College is extremely expensive, so you have to find ways to save money wherever you can.   Hope this helps anyone out there that is trying to figure out – how in the heck am I going to pay for all this??  Good luck and remember to shop around – it really does pay!

Do you have any suggestions for places to buy college books not already mentioned?  If so, I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Refurbished Thrift Shop Chair

When my daughter moved out this past September, I decided to take an old chair that I had picked up at the thrift shop and re-finish it for her first apartment (paid $4.00 for it).  This was one of those DIY projects where I actually started taking pictures as I went along.  I wanted some really nice before and after pictures to share.

Well, a funny story about those before and after pictures….. 

It was a nice sunny day........and I was painting in the garage with the garage door open.  After taking several before photo’s, I laid my camera on top of the hood of my Santa Fe which was parked right in front of the garage.  While I was on my second coat of paint, I got a call to pick up some items a few miles away.  So, I pushed everything in the garage, ran into the house and got my keys and jumped into the car – and took off.  At this point, I still didn’t realize that my camera was been sitting on the hood of the car.  I drove to my friends house and then returned home.

I opened the garage and got ready to start painting again when I decided to take another shot of the project.  It was that very moment that I realized what I had done!  I looked over at the hood of the car and there was no longer a pretty red camera sitting on top.  I grabbed my keys again and retraced my route. Unfortunately, I never found that red camera.  I don’t know how I missed a shiny red camera sitting on a silver hood!  I miss that old camera.

So, I only have the “after pictures” to share.  Guess you’ll have to take my word for it when I say the previous version of the chair was a little on the hideous side!  I think it turned out pretty good though.  The chair had stampings from 1959 on the bottom of it.  

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I am participating in Thrifty Thursday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jewelry Making Adventures Part 2

Last week I told you about the Ghost that haunts the building where I attend Basic Jewelry/Metals class.  This week, I want to share with you what we are actually learning.

We will be learning basic metalsmithing techniques to create a simple linked bracelet.  At the end of the 6 week course, we should know about annealing, pickling, stamping, drilling, sawing/piercing, filing/sanding, plier usage, and patina.

Annealing, pickling, what kind of class is this?  These terms were so foreign to me.  So….I listened, watched and I learned.  Annealing is the process of softening the metal (copper, nickel, etc.) by heating it with a gas/air torch.  Me -- use a torch??  I don’t even like to light the BBQ grill :)

Pickling is the process of cleaning the soot off the torched or dirty metal from the annealing process.  Pickle is an acid (Sodium bisulfate).  I had no idea!

We also watched the instructor perform some stamping techniques. 

My assignment for the week is to design my bracelet link shape – I didn’t know I had to be so creative already!  I guess I will have to look on Etsy for some inspiration.

Note:  We are starting with a flat rectangular 4 x 2 piece of metal that will somehow be made into what I hope is a really cool bracelet.  I chose Nickel to work with because I love everything silver!  Wish me luck!

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The above picture contains some of the sample pieces that were made in previous classes

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This is the annealing process using the gas/air torch

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Some of the tools we will be using for stamping

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Free to use tool chest!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Annie Oakley, Girls and Guns - Who Knew!

Ohio’s own Annie Oakley's most famous trick was being able to repeatedly split a playing card, edge-on, and put several more holes in it before it could touch the ground, all while using a .22 caliber rifle at 90 feet!  Can you imagine that?

As a female, have you ever shot a gun?  I have.  For three years, I was a rifle and pistol range instructor in the US Marine Corps.  How in the world did I ever get that assignment?  Well, by being a good shot I guess :)  

Of all the talents a female could possess, I have to be good at target shooting??  I can honestly say that it is a natural talent and one of the few I have discovered to date.  I’m sure I have more, just trying to figure out what they are.  The first time I ever “qualified” on the rifle range, I scored high enough to be classified as an expert (my highest score ever was 248 out of a possible 250 points).  I was immediately snatched up to become an instructor.  I started out on the rifle range, teaching Marines to qualify with an M-16 rifle.  I then moved over to the pistol range and taught officers to shoot 9mm pistols. 

As I continued to get better, I was asked to join the Marine Corps rifle and pistol team where I shot competitively in various competitions at military installations and in the state of Nevada.  If only I had realized how cool that really was at the time.  I look back now and wonder what could have been….if I had pursued it more.  Maybe I could have trained for the Olympics or something, or a modern day Annie Oakley of sorts.

Anyways, fast forward to present day.  For my birthday last year, I asked my husband to go to the shooting range with me.  I wanted to see if I still had it.  Besides, he was in that “other branch” of the military (the Army) and thought he could out shoot me and so it became a little friendly competition!

Let’s just say – you never lose it.  Take a look at my shot pattern!

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blog shooting

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Now it's your turn, go out and try something new this week or this month!  Have fun.

Annie Oakley Picture Source: Denver Public Library, Call Number: X-22137.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Ghostly Time At My New Jewelry Making Class

Well, I finally started on one of my yearly twelve goals last night by attending a beginning metals/jewelry making class.  It was held at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, a castle like building in downtown Columbus, OH.  The building traces its roots back to 1861 where it became one of the first Ohio State Arsenals, designed specifically for the purpose of storing arms. The inside of the building has high ceilings and the classroom floors are all concrete.   In the particular room I was in, all the floors were sloped and we were told that the room used to be a stable at one time – really cool right! We were also told by the instructor that the place is haunted.  This piqued my interest so I looked it up on-line and found out about Esther!

Many patrons of the Arts Center have seen the “bedraggled visage of a woman in nineteenth century clothes through the narrow windows of the pottery room. She sometimes appears among the tables and pottery wheels inside the room--sometimes only her top half, sometimes with her face completely obscured.

No one is sure if Esther is the ghost's real name, but it's as good as any considering local history. A woman named Esther Foster was put to death alongside James Clark on February 9, 1844, not far from Arts Center. Both had been found guilty of prison murders, Clark for killing a prison guard with an axe, Foster for doing another female inmate in with a fire shovel. This was the era of public hangings, and the spectacle of a double execution involving a woman (a relative rarity) was enough to bring spectators in from all the surrounding towns. The crowd was so large and unruly that a man was trampled to death by a horse. Is "Esther" really Esther Foster, unable to leave the area where she was put to death before her time?”

There happens to be one more ghost at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center known just as the presence in the basement. If you take the elevator down to the cellar of the building to get lunch from one of the vending machines, you might feel the sensation that you're not alone or that you are being watched from one of the tunnels nearby.

All I can say is that I’m bringing my own drinks, you won’t catch me in the basement anytime soon!


As a side note, the Columbus Cultural Arts Center has so many classes to choose from.  I have lived in Columbus most of my life and I had not heard of it until recently.  Guess it’s about time I get cultured!  You can choose from ceramics, pottery, clay sculpturing, bronze casting, stone carving, drawing, painting, printmaking, surface design, weaving, dying, jewelry making, copper enameling, and so much more.

More to come next week on my jewelry making adventures!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Buttercup, the Three Legged Dog

When I came home from work on the day before Thanksgiving, this adorable dog was hopping around our house. My 21 year old daughter had brought her home from the shelter because she couldn’t stand the thought of her being at the shelter on a holiday. I also think she had hopes that I would adopt Buttercup. As soon as I walked in the door and sat on the floor, Buttercup came over and laid her head in my lap. She had the prettiest blue eyes. We don’t know what happened to her before she got to the shelter, only that she had a severely broken leg and it had to be amputated. My daughter was not very happy that I decided not to adopt Buttercup, as a matter of fact, she told me that I didn’t have a soul :( Luckily, Buttercup was adopted by week’s end and she is living happily ever after!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lions, Tigers, Widgets, and Buttons, Oh My!

Help, what are all those buttons on the side of this blog?

There are so many different ways you can follow your favorite blogs so that you don’t have to type in their web address each and every day. Which one is best? I would say whatever is most convenient for you. As an example, I like to either receive an email or a Facebook update because I look at each of these on a daily basis, several times a day. But recently, I discovered RSS feeds through my Yahoo! page and to reduce the amount of emails I receive, I started receiving RSS feeds of my favorite blogs and I love it!

In case you’re still not sure, I will further explain all those buttons on the side of my blog.


Google Friend Connect is a service that helps site owners easily provide social features for their visitors. Users gain the ability to sign in to, make friends on, and interact with your site, making it more social and more dynamic. It is a really cool way to add another dimension of “community” to your blog or website. This is slightly different than just following a blog and receiving post updates.

Follow Me Buttons:

Pinterest is a place to organize and share online images that you find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as Pins, which the user can place on customized, themed Boards. You can create Boards for any topic imaginable, from DIY projects and crafts to cute puppy pictures. The possibilities are endless. By clicking on the “Follow Me On Pinterest” button, you can see the boards I have pinned.

Twitter – by clicking on this button, you can follow my tweets on Twitter.

Bloglovin – a way to follow your favorite blogs. Once signed up, you will get notified every time your favorite blogs have written something new! Bloglovin logs fresh posts in sequential order sort of like a facebook feed. You can keep up with all of your favorite blogs by visiting one website instead of bookmarking one by one. – another way to follow your favorite blogs, similar to Bloglovin. What is the difference between Bloglovin and Not much. Think about how you search for information on the web. Do you use Yahoo or Google? It’s just a matter of preference.

Subscribe to:

RSS Posts or RSS Comments:

An RSS feed is a summary of web content that is updated on a regular basis. It allows users to be updated on content changes to a web site. You don’t want to waste your time going to your favorite blogs each day with no new content. Don’t go to them, let them come to you! I like RSS feeds, although I will admit that I didn’t know much about them before I started blogging. Now that I have educated myself, I think they are great.

There are only two things you need to do to be able to subscribe to RSS Feeds:

1. Sign up for a reader (popular ones are Google Reader, Bloglines, Newsgator, My Yahoo!)

2. Click on the RSS icon and subscribe.

If you want additional information, there is a great video and transcript on RSS Feeds at

Follow Me By Email

Finally, if you just like getting emails, you can just sign up the old fashioned way and Follow By Email to receive an email each time the blog is updated. Nothing wrong with this, this had been my first choice for a very long time – old habits are hard to break!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just a Little Note

Sometimes all you need is a little note to make you smile....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How I got a Rachel Ray Cookware set for $17

A few weeks ago, I ordered a 10 piece Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set with the orange handles. This set normally sells anywhere between $159 and $179 for the complete set. After checking out Amazon and a few other websites, I decided to purchase from Kohl’s. At Kohl’s, with all their holiday discounts, I was able to get the set for $129 including shipping (as an added bonus, I also received $30 in Kohl’s cash for making this purchase). After receiving the set and going through all the pieces, I decided that I really didn’t need two of the pots (a 6 quart stock pot and a 1.5 quart sauce pan). I started wondering what I could do. I really liked the pans and it was the pans that I mainly needed.

I decided to look on Amazon and Ebay to see how much the 6 quart stock pot was selling for. I couldn’t find this particular size on either site. I did find an 8 quart oval stock pot which was selling for $89 on Amazon. So I thought, let’s try to sell both items on Ebay. If they don’t sell, I’ll just keep them. I listed the 6 quart pot for $69 with a Buy It Now price of $80 and listed the 1.5 quart sauce pan with a starting bid of $22.

To my surprise, the 6 quart stock pot sold within 4 days with the Buy It Now price of $80 and the 1.5 quart pan went the whole seven day listing period and after 5 bids, sold for $30 bringing my total earnings for the two pieces to $110. Here are the pieces I got for the remaining $17:

· 3-quart covered saucepan with lid
· 3-quart/10-inch covered sauté
· 8-inch French skillet
· 10-inch French skillet

The set features soft-grip bright orange silicone handles are oven-safe to 400 degrees F - a great buy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Tried Insanity!

Picture Credit:

OK, not the whole program, but I tried the first DVD :)

I’ve always been into fitness. I’m a regular subscriber to the magazine called “Fitness” I have a YMCA membership and I have a small home gym in my basement.

Just because you have access to all this stuff, doesn’t guarantee that you will work out though. I’m also a sucker for Infomercials. Last year around this time, I bought Zumba – and that craze lasted about a month! Luckily, I was able to re-sell it on EBay right before Christmas for $50, getting most of my original investment back. This brings me to my first fitness tip of the year – if you’re not sure you’ll like a new fitness craze, try to buy it used off EBay or Craig’s List.

A few weeks ago, my husband purchased “Insanity” off Craig’s List for $45 and it was still in the shrink wrap (the guy told us that he recently found out he had some sort of nerve damage and decided not to try the workout)! New, this would have set us back about $140.00. Since it was just sitting around the house, I thought I would give it a try this morning. The program comes with 10 DVD’s – I started with the second one (the first one is a Fit Test). The second one is called: Plyometric Cardio Circuit with a description of “Burn fat with intervals of intense lower-body plyo and sweat-inducing cardio.”

What I liked about it was the fact that you do not need any workout equipment. All you need is a 3 foot by 4 foot space. I also liked the 45 minute timer that was constantly viewable in the bottom left hand corner. I thought I was going to give up after the first 10 minutes (it was intense), but just when I thought about giving up, they went into 10 minutes of stretching. That kept me going! The last 20 minutes is full fledged cardio again – with 30 second breaks between the circuits. This DVD is very doable. I will admit that one of the things that kept me going was that I knew I wanted to write about the experience to share with my readers.

What new exercise program are you starting this year?

The Grand Pup

“The Grand-Pup” as she is so affectionately called. This dog should be in pictures!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas in Columbus

The Columbus Commons is 9 acres of live, green space located in the heart of Downtown Columbus, OH. It is the former site of the City Center Shopping Mall. The Christmas light display is beautiful!

A Christmas Memory

I have two daughters who are now 18 and 21 years old. You know how it is with the first child, you keep up with the “Baby’s First” book with their first words and first steps. When baby number two comes along, you’re a little less organized and start slipping up on keeping track of all those firsts.

It just so happens that at some point, for my first daughter, I ended up with not one, but two Baby’s First Christmas Hallmark tree ornaments. Somehow, daughter number two never received such an ornament. Each year as she got older and would decorate the tree, she would ask, “Mom, where’s my Baby’s First Christmas ornament”? I would say – not sure what happened honey. For a few years that seemed to work, but by the time she was 10 years old, she was really mad about the whole situation :)

When I realized that she really felt slighted about it, I started searching the internet for a Baby’s First Christmas 1993 ornament. I thought for sure I could find one on Ebay, but no luck. I continued to search. Lo and behold, I finally found a company that carried past years Hallmark tree ornaments and ordered one – 3 days before Christmas! I had no expectations of receiving it before Christmas, but was OK with it. I figured that once I received it in the mail, I would just save it for the following year.

Christmas morning finally arrived that year and we were all busy opening gifts. About half way through opening presents, the door bell rang. I thought boy, Grandma is early this year! I walked over to the door and opened it and to my surprise, it was the UPS guy, on Christmas morning! When he handed me the package and I saw the return address, I knew exactly what it was; Baby’s First Christmas 1993 had finally arrived. I turned around and handed the package to Kaitlyn. I couldn’t wait for her to open it as she had no idea why the UPS guy was at our house that Christmas morning. As she opened the package and realized that she was finally getting the ornament that had been missing all these years, she was smiles from ear to ear. I truly believe that little $15 ornament was the most important gift she received that year. Somehow I had forgotten to get this important first ornament, but in the end it gave us a Christmas memory that will last a life time.

We Met on

I am always intrigued and inspired by how people met their significant other. I thought it would be unfair if I asked you to tell me how you met your husband, boyfriend, wife or girlfriend without me sharing my own personal story. I think it is these kinds of stories that give people hope that they too will meet ‘the one.” Please comment and let me know how you met. Just reply back with your first names, ages, and where you are from. The rest of the story is up to you!

Here is my story….

I had just arrived back from a four day trip to Tempe Arizona where I had witnessed the Ohio Sate buckeyes defeat Miami for the 2002 National Championships in triple overtime. My girlfriend and I went with a group of tailgating friends as a once in a lifetime experience. After four long days of fun in the sun and screaming my Buckeyes to victory, I came home feeling like I had just been run over by a Mack truck. I was exhausted and when I tried to talk all that would come out was a faint whisper and a few high pitched squeaks. I had laryngitis for the first time in my life.

When I arrived at Columbus International Airport the guy I had recently started dating was waiting to pick me up. His name was Greg and I was glad to see him. It was early January and he was wearing his black leather jacket. Greg was the tallest man I have ever dated and he looked handsome at 6’5” tall with short salt and pepper hair and a closely shaved goatee. He was only 35 years old, but the hair color had come early in his life. I thought it made him look even more handsome and it suited his tall frame well.

As I approached Greg, I tried to greet him verbally but the laryngitis had the best of me, so he had to settle for a big hug and a sheepish smile. I know I looked like crap. I had been on an overnight flight from Tempe to Columbus. I wasn’t feeling well and who looks great after sleeping on a plane for five hours! I thought to myself, ‘we’ve only been dating for a few months and he is seeing me at my absolute worst. I wonder what’s going through his head right now.’ I was too tired to think about it much though, so we headed down to baggage claim and then to the car for the ride home.

Greg picked me up in my VW Jetta. I had asked him to keep it while I was away. Before I left for the trip, my car was a mess. I have two daughters and they tend to leave McDonalds wrappers and empty water bottles lying around everywhere. As I opened the passenger door to get inside, to my surprise, Greg had completely detailed my car inside and out. It was cleaner than it had ever been – it must have taken him hours to clean out all the crumbs, softball dirt, and Capri-Sun packages. I was ecstatic that he had taken the time to do this for me.

Since I wasn’t feeling very well, he suggested that we go back to his place and I could take a shower and lie down for a while. I agreed that it was a good idea. Once back at Greg’s place, I hopped in the shower. Once I was all cleaned up, I came downstairs and lied down on the couch. Greg got me a pillow and covered me up with a blanket and turned on the TV. He asked me if I would like some hot tea. I wasn’t much of a tea drinker but I liked that someone else was taking care of me as I hadn’t had anyone do that for me in a long while. So, I lay on the couch watching TV and dozed off for a little while.

When I awoke, a hot cup of chamomile tea with honey was sitting on the coffee table for me. Greg had waited until he saw me starting to wake up before he brought my tea. That cup of tea was the best I’ve ever tasted. It was sweet, warm and made me feel good inside. It was like a little cup of happiness. From the first moment I saw Greg at the airport, I felt a glimmer of hope from someone I had just met two months earlier. Hope that there were still good guys out there if you took the time to look around. Don’t ever give up; you never know what might be waiting around the corner for you. It might be your cup of chamomile tea. That was eight years ago and that guy is now my husband.

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