A Simple Modern Life

Living a simple, sustainable, modern life… with vintage flair!

Going in a new direction January 12, 2015

Filed under: DIY — asimplemodernlife @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hello! Once again, it’s been a while.

To say that things have been hectic is the understatement of the century.  We will get to the awesome little project I worked on in between Christmas and New Year’s, but first, let me catch the ASML friends and family up.

Long story short, after putting thousands of miles on our van, spending a lot of time traveling (and I mean A LOT!), and being technically homeless for months now, New Hampshire is no longer going to be our new home.

I know, I know.  Our life is a bit insane.  We had a house under contract up in NH, but the home inspection revealed some horrible things going on which would cost over $30,000 to remedy to the point where the home would be safe. Then we got the news that the job we were relying on wasn’t going to happen. This all caused us to take a step back and rethink what we were doing.  We were so set on moving up to New Hampshire that we hadn’t taken into account that it might not be the direction we should go.  That is what today’s project symbolizes, boys and girls, DIRECTION!

(I know that you’re eagerly awaiting the announcement as to where we’re going {or you’re just wishing I would shut up about it and get to the project already}, but you will have to wait until the end of the post. AND NO SCROLLING AHEAD!) 🙂

Ok, so direction…

Did you ever feel like your life was lacking direction? Or things were not going in the direction you would like?  Or you feel like you’re heading in the wrong direction?  We have been feeling like that for a while.  Instead of just going forward in the direction that you don’t like, change directions! We made some changes to our priorities. We have decided that we’re not going to go “our way” and keep pushing when things are not working out the way we want them to.  Instead, we are going to go God’s way; even if it’s nowhere near what we had in mind.  Because of all this “direction” talk, I have become slightly obsessed with arrows.  Yes, like a bow and arrow kind of arrow.  It reminds me to keep heading in the right direction.

Hence the arrow pillow!


Yes, another pillow. GOTTA FEED THE OBSESSION, PEOPLE! I made it out of an old pair of jeans, an old tank top, and an old pair of socks (all with holes in them).  I also used a piece of leftover white fabric from when I made the paper airplane pillow.  Wanna know how?  🙂  Well of course you do, that’s why you’re here!

The stuff…

All for free, baby, all for free. Which is my favorite price!
I started by making a template for the arrow out of a piece of cardboard. I made two separate ones, the shaft/tail portion and the arrow-head portion. I traced them onto a doubled up piece (2 layers) of the leftover white fabric, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around each template to make allowances for sewing them together. Then I pinned the two layers of fabric together (around the inside of the arrow), cut it out, separated the 2 pieces, and ironed them.
arrow pillow 1 arrow pillow 2
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I cut long, thin strips out of the old socks, jeans, and tank top and sewed them onto the tail of the arrow.
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Next came the arrow-head. Now here’s where I made some mistakes and alterations to the original plan, so near with me. To be honest, when I started this project, I did not have a clear picture of what the finished product was going to be. I had a vague idea and I just rolled with the proverbial punches, if you will.
First of all, I decided that the arrowhead should be made out of the inside of my jean’s pant leg; seam showing. So I cut out a “jeans” arrowhead and then chopped the white arrowhead off. I also decided that the arrow shaft was just a bit too long, so I cut some of that off also. Once I was happy withe overall look of it, I did the same thing to the other white arrow and sewed the jean arrowheads onto the arrow shaft.
arrow pillow 7 arrow pillow 8
arrow pillow 9
The arrows still looked a bit plain to me, so I decided to use the sewing machine to make a few additions. I do not have a fancy-schmancy sewing machine, just a regular, run-of-the-mill cheap one. It is super easy to do the fun little stitches that are on the dial. Just grab a spare piece of fabric, sew a little bit of each setting on the stitch dial, and figure out which ones you like. I added some stitching to both shafts and tails in varying shades of brown and blue thread.
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After all of the beautifying, I laid the 2 arrows on top of each other (pretty sides facing each other), and sewed each side together leaving both ends open.
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Then I turned the arrow right side out and viola!
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I stuffed it from both ends, since it was so hard to get the stuffing through the shaft. After it was sufficiently stuff with fluffy, pretty stuffing, I used a slip-stitch to close both the tail and the arrowhead. If you had a bunch more old, holy clothes, you could very easily cut those into strips and use them to stuff the arrow! Talk about re-using and re-cycling!
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The kids were having a ball with it! I, of course, sat there demurely not engaging at all in the craziness and screaming happening with the kids… 😀
Yeah, right…
Amaris (the youngest) came up with the idea of putting the arrow on one end of the sofa pointing towards the other end of the sofa where we should have a “bulls eye” pillow. I think that sounds pretty cool, so we will see what happens in the future!
A couple of years ago one of my daughter’s friends was into mustaches, yes, mustaches. Her birthday was coming up and we decided that it would be cool to make her a big mustache to go across her bed pillows. We went to the fabric store and found a fuzzy, black fabric (thankfully this was right before Halloween) and went wild! I made a template out of cardboard of one half/side of the mustache, traced it onto the fuzzy fabric, flipped it over, and traced the rest of the mustache. We made 2 mustaches, sewed them together right sides facing in, turned it right side out, stuffed it, and sewed it shut. It ended up being about 2 and a half feet long.
Needless to say, her friend loved it and we loved making it!
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What funky-shaped pillows can you think of? Don’t be square! (come on, you didn’t really think that I could get through an entire post and not have a corny joke!)

HAHAHAHA, I tricked you! You thought I forgot, didn’t you? No worries. 😉

Aaaaaaaaand drum roll please………………………………………….

We are moving to Wilmington, North Carolina!!!!

Since we spent 10 years living in Jacksonville, NC, and had all 3 of our children there, it’s kind of like going home again. We should have a house under contract by the end of tomorrow, so stay tuned!!


Don’t forget to enjoy Christmas! December 22, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — asimplemodernlife @ 1:36 pm
Tags: ,

There is a lot of stress associated with this time of year. It seems to me that people are generally more kind to strangers during this time of year (which is awesome) but experience a lot more fighting with loved ones (which stinks). How did this come to be? Didn’t Christmas used to be more simple? More enjoyable?
Yes, yes it did.
Then we, in all of our knowledge, technology, and consumerism made it what it is today. Luckily, lately, there seems to be a push back to “the way things were”; more simple times. That’s probably one reason that you are reading this blog, because you, like me, are trying to live a simple life in a busy, modern world. This post is all about taking some time to enjoy what YOU like about this season, not what everyone else says you should do.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is, and always has been, baking cookies. I am not going to lie, however, there have been a few years, recently, when I have not baked my Gram’s cookies.
I know! For Shame!!
This year, I made sure, even in our “currently in the middle of a move and have no house” chaos, that we made cookies.
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We even tried a new thing this year and made some tiny gingerbread houses. Which was so much fun that we have decided to make it a new yearly tradition. We didn’t make homemade stuff, we bought a store kit with 5 little houses. And I’m not afraid to admit that. I’m not superwoman, just a pretty super woman. (if I do say so myself hahahaha)
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It was great and the kids loved it! Years from now they probably won’t remember what gifts they did or didn’t get, what department store Santa they saw, or dad or mom’s company Christmas party, but they’ll remember making cookies and gingerbread houses in their great-grandma’s kitchen … and so will I.
We also took the time to go see “The Boulevard”. For anyone in Northeast Pennsylvania, you may have heard of it. It is a tradition that started in 1947 and has grown over the years. It is a mile long show of lights and displays that is just a sight to behold. I looked forward to it every year as a child and finally got to take my children to see it. Their wide eyes and excited squeals will stay will me forever. Even the teenager cracked a few smiles. 🙂
One of my high school friends, whom I “see” on Facebook, posted a couple of weeks ago that she put up a tree and that was it. No outdoor lights, reindeer on the mantle, or wreaths on the door; just a tree. She was tired of being stressed out trying to make her home look like a magazine that she decided to forget the decorations and concentrate on spending time with her husband and children.
Am I saying don’t put up outside lights?
Once again, this post is not about other people telling you what to do (or not to do) to make your holiday season better, it’s about you doing what YOU want.
Why do you celebrate Christmas? Or Hannukah? or whatever?
Is it for religious reasons?
To spend time with family and friends and share the love?
Then honor that and make your holiday season about why you celebrate in the first place!
Just do what makes you and yours happy and forget keeping up with the Joneses, or whomever you’re trying to keep up with. My life has gotten so much better since I stopped trying to impress others and started trying to live more intentionally.
Am I perfect?
Nah, not even close, but where’s the fun in that?

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy last couple of days of Hannukah and to hoping you enjoy every minute of these next few days! I know I will…


DIY upcycled magnet boards December 17, 2014

Please read the following few lines in your best “television announcer voice”.
Are you in need of an inexpensive, easy, last-minute gift?
Or do you just need a way to organize all of those Christmas receipts and the cookie recipes that you tore out of magazines?
Do you love DIY projects?
Well, then, you’re in luck!
It’s time foooooooooooorrrr………MAGNET BOARDS!!
(some assembly required)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I’m corny, and I’m cool with that.
OK, so I did this project years and years ago, long before ASML was even a glint in my eye. I recently remembered about it and thought that it would be a great last minute gift during this crazy busy Christmas/Hannukah season. Now I know that Hannukah is already in full force, but maybe you’re super procrastinator and still don’t have a gift for day #7 or 8. (Don’t worry, no judging of your procrastination. Hey, if you’re going to do something, go all the way and do it well, right? Super Procrastinate!)
I did 2 different versions, the burner cover version and the cookie sheet version.
Let’s face it, old burner covers that were all the rage in the 90’s , are now gracing the shelves of thrift stores and garage sales all over the world, for DIRT CHEAP. I got these beauties for a dollar!
(Come on, you KNOW they were in your kitchen! Just admit it!)
And then I got this “pistachio” spraypaint for $5 and made those roosters disappear. Abra-cadabra!
041 circle magnet board 3
Once the circles were all pistachio’ed up, I had to decide on a design. I decided to do these in a way that would appeal to adults. Black, white, and twine it was.
The first small circle got some naturally inspired pizzazz with some twine. I had it left over from the magazine rack makeover, so might as well put it to use. Come to think of it, the magazine rack was painted a similar shade of green with twine accents… maybe I have an obsession here?
Aaaaanyway, I simply cut small pieces of twine, glued one end of it onto the underside of the circle, wrapped it around the front, and glued the other end to the underside of the circle.
circle magnet board (4)circle magnet board (5)
For the second circle (the first large one), I decided to take a paint pen that was leftover from the rocking chair makeover and make dots in a random pattern. Once I started, I decided to do an area of few dots on one side of the circle and make it kind of “burst” outward into an area of lots of dots: kind of like a spray of water.
circle magnet board (6)circle magnet board (7)
For the third circle (the second small one) I took the black paint pen and wrote a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit; in honor of the newest movie premiere that happened today!
The first time I did it, one of the words turned out wonky, so I took a magic eraser and started to scrub it off. It did this cool little effect. At first, only the insides of letters were coming off, because the outer edges had already begun to dry. It was a neat “burn-out” effect. So, next time, I did it on purpose and it turned out awesome! Don’t you just love it when mistakes turn out awesomely?
circle magnet board (18) circle magnet board (19)
It really does look so much cooler in person.
For the fourth, and final, circle (the second large one), I decided that all of the other circle’s design elements should be brought together. So this one got the whole she-bang: dots, lines, black, white, twine, and some added flair with a herringbone pattern.
circle magnet board (9)circle magnet board (10)
All that was left was to put hangers on the back of each one. Twine and hot glue are all you need in life, people!
circle magent board (30)
TAH-DAH!!!!! Aren’t these babies just gorgeous?
circle magnet board (20)
And here are the originals from a few years ago. I covered these guys in odd bits of fabric and yarn, using hot glue to secure everything to the back.
Now onto the old cookie sheet!
Here it was before:
rectangle magnet board (2)
We found it in the back of my grandmother’s cabinets while cleaning them out. It was so old and rusted that we were going to throw it away. Then, I had an idea…
So I cleaned it up, spraypainted it bright yellow, and glued some letter beads on the top that spell out our youngest daughter’s name. Since she has been asking for a magnet board for quite some time, I figured she should get this one.
rectangle magnet board (4) rectangle magnet board (3)
It looked rather plain, even though it will soon be covered with magnets and various drawings. She requested a rainbow, so we rainbowed away using Q-tips as our tools.
rectangle magnet board (5) rectangle magnet rainbow
rectangle magnet board (8) rectangle magnet board
And TAH-DAH! It totally works!
So, there they are, 2 gifts that can be done in just an hour or two (plus drying), for minimal cost. Just think of the possibilites!
If you have a super hero lover in your life, do one as a Superman symbol, one as a Batman symbol, one as Wonder Woman, and one as The Flash.
Got a military buff? Go wild!
Know a botanist or gardener? Decoupage seed packets!
Musician? Music symbols and sheet music!
Paris buff (like my middle daughter? Umm yeah, Eiffel it up!
Art aficionado? Do a Mondrian style pattern or decoupage a print out of Van Gogh!
One more idea, which I think is super that I just HAVE to share with you. Buy lots and lots of sets, paint them all the same color or varying colors within a chosen palette and hang them as a huge art installation on a large wall. A grid would be neat, as would a random pattern (like the dotted large burner cover above) Large art for cheap is always hard to do. It would look something like this:
cheap large art
So the next time you see some metal that outlived it usefulness, grab the spraypaint and get upcycling!!


Etsy List 2014 December 13, 2014

Filed under: Living Intentionally — asimplemodernlife @ 2:31 pm
Tags: ,

This morning as I was getting all of the information for this post together, I came up with a super cool name for the title. Do you think I can remember it?
Oh well, “Etsy List 2014” it is!
So this post is one that I am hoping will become a yearly thing.
Throughout the year, I find some pretty cool things on Etsy. I have decided to share these finds with you all.
Let me start off by saying that this post was supposed to be on here by the end of November, but because of my little self-pity party that had been going on for a couple of weeks around that time, it did not make it. Then I was thinking of canning the post all together, since most of the Etsy shops can guarantee gifts by Christmas. Thankfully, I came to my senses and decided to do it anyway.
So, day, consider yourself seized!
It’s Etsy Day!
This is a list of 10 cool Etsy shops in no particular order. I have actually ordered things from some of them, and am salivating over the rest.
Make sure you share any of your favorites with me in the comments below the post!
1.) Tiny Green Apples
*****You still have time to order from TGA. Get your order in by Dec 16th!*****
Last year the hubby and I decided to get Raine, the little baker in our family, a personalized chef’s hat and apron from Etsy. I messaged Monica at Tiny Green Apples on Dec. 12, 2013, and she said there was still plenty of time to order for Christmas delivery. Then we forgot to actually place the order. ( yeah, yeah, NOT parents of the year last year, we know ). We messaged her again a few days later, explaining our idiocy, and she still said she could do it. She got us the hat and apron in time for Christmas and Raine was thrilled. So, yes, Tiny Green Apples definitely made “the list” this year! Raine has been using her stuff all year long, and it still looks great!
If you’re looking for cool personalized stuff, TGA is the place.
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2.) Splendid Jewelry
********U.S customers can still order by Dec. 18th and get it in time for Christmas!!********
This year for Christmas, I ordered Adia, the teenager, a pair of beautiful “wing” earrings. This shop is the perfect mix of vintage and bohemian for me. I am loving this jewelry! This stuff looks like it would cost $100 at some retail shops, but is well priced and is so much more beautiful.
In my mind, knowing that someone poured their heart and soul into something makes me proud to wear it. In fact, I have a confession to make.
I ordered something from this shop for myself this year.
Don’t judge me, I couldn’t resist!
It’s the awesomely amazing arrow necklace below.
And it was only 8 bucks!!
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OK, truth be told I am NOT a do my nails kind of person, but the middle daughter, Raine, is. I ordered her the Eiffel Tower ones pictured below.
This shop almost made me want to start being a do my nails kind of girl, let me tell ya. These Nailthins come in so many designs! I’m not just talking about your usual run-of-the-mill kind of stuff either. There were nailthins for every holiday, classic design, trendy design, and some completely off the wall stuff like “Supernatural” and camouflage!
If you are, or know someone who is, a nail freak, check this shop out!
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4.) Quartertwenty
This shop barely needs an introduction. As soon as I saw this shop I fell in love. You all know my obsession with simply designed things. (hence the name of my blog) I always say that it is easier to design fussy things than it is to design something pure and simple. Quartertwenty achieves simplicity in all of its raw, natural beauty, using wood and metal in a glorious juxtaposition. Some of the names of these beautiful items are just downright funny too. I am totally going to order the “holy roller” for our new house! It’s a toilet paper holder! (pictured below)
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5.)Sassy Bags WV
Bags, bags, and more bags. The cutest freaking bags ever! I am currently having a love affair with all things chevron and quatrefoil, which Michelle has in abundance at Sassy Bags WV. These would be great as gifts that you could fill with other gifts; like 2 gifts in 1. Almost everything in this shop can be personalized. I personally ordered the adorable little owl change purse (pictured below) for, you guessed it, Amaris. It will be a perfect addition to her stocking, since her other change purse just broke last week.
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6.) CorPottery
I picked this shop because the stuff is just plain cool. As I am sitting here preparing this post, I really read about this shop and discovered that 5% of all proceeds go to a charity. Talk about getting more bang for your buck! I am always preaching to put your money to good use, this is how to do it, ladies and gents! There is honestly not a single thing in this shop that I do not want. Talk about natural, simple beauty and CorPottery will definitely be in the conversation.
I will definitely be asking for some of these Brooklyn beauties for my birthday! After all, Brooklyn turns out some pretty awesome things… like my hubby! 😉 Oh… and pottery, yeah, pottery.
CorPottery 1 CorPottery 2

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7.)Treehouse Illustrator
(The Treehouse Illustrator is on break right now, but to see more goodies, check out her FB page or take a look in her “sales” on her Etsy page.)
This girl happens to be from the area in Pennsylvania where I grew up! She is very talented artist who brings back nostalgic memories with her artwork. Her medium is wood and the look is beautiful. She can do just about anything from beloved characters from a book to the Beatles! What I love most is that she doesn’t use a canvas, a.k.a. “the norm”. She uses blocks of wood, wooden spoon, wooden rings, etc. to bring her art to life. She takes everyday objects and makes them extraordinary!
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8.) Modern Crowd
For the love of all things modern! I love that this shop has a bit of an industrial vibe. Just because it’s handmade and crafty doesn’t mean it can’t be edgy and modern, people! This is metal, plexiglas, wood, and gorgeous. They even use “green” processing methods. I cannot even begin to imagine how they work with metal and make such beautiful things. I can barely keep the aluminum foil in line, but these guys are rockin’ the aerospace grade aluminum.
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9.) Roszberries
I am not going to lie, this is my friend’s shop, but that is NOT why I am promoting it! She is a kick-booty seamstress and her stuff is awesome! If you have little ones in your life, this is definitely the shop for you. I know that this stuff is well made and will l-a-s-t, last. My favorite things are the name pillows. Special orders are available, for just about anything. This stuff is well worth your money and it’s adorable! My favorite is the name pillow. What’s yours?
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10.) Indie Bambino Toys
So Indie Bambino Toys is on vacation too, but Mindy be back in January 2015, and when she is back, you have seriously got to getcha some of these! Talk about simple and modern: beautiful, simple, “green” toys with a colorful, modern twist. These toys truly encourage kid’s imagination like no electronics or fancy, expensive toys can. Did you ever notice that kids play more with the packaging that toys come in? Or your favorite scarf? Or they build a fort out of the couch cushions? Kids are imaginative, and these toys are perfect for imagining (or pelting puffballs at your sister, which is also fun). I know that I will be placing an order for some of these beauties for Easter time.
If you want to see more, go to Indie Bambino Toys’ Etsy page and click on her “3,557 sales” on the left side of the screen. You can peruse all of her past items. 🙂
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So there it is!
Don’t forget to tell me all about your favorite Etsy shops and…


Simplify Christmas: gift giving December 12, 2014

Filed under: Holidays,Living Intentionally — asimplemodernlife @ 2:05 pm

I am starting this short series about Simplifying Christmas. Some of you may be thinking, isn’t this a bit late in the game? Well… yes and no. While I had intended this series to start right after Thanksgiving, intentions sometimes don’t make it to reality. Plus, it’s never too late to simplify anything in your life!!
Do you feel like these pictures sometimes during the Christmas season?
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crazy christmas 3
photos courtesy of: sarahsellers.co.uk , http://womanonline.co.za , and http://www.sexysocialmedia.com , respectively.
Today’s post is all about simplifying your gift giving. If we are truly honest with ourselves, most of us spend more time, money, and energy shopping- or planning our next shopping trip- than we do on helping others, being with family and friends, or reflecting on what the season is all about during Christmas. Myself included.
We used to go quite overboard on gifts for our kids, especially with the first one. I am talking like 30 gifts under the tree. It got a little better after the second kid, then a little better again after the third, but it wasn’t until about 6 years ago, when we really made the conscious decision that we needed less stuff, that the hubby and I decided to go with a Hannukah-like approach and give a limited number of gifts for each child; 5 gifts plus their stockings.
I am not going to lie, it was hard the first year, like super-duper-duper hard. I saw so many things that I wanted to get for them! There were all of these cute little things out during Christmas time that the girls would have just loved! We totally caved the first year and got them each 7 gifts.
What? No one is perfect. 😉
And actually, Amaris got less! She was about a year old at the time, so she didn’t really want anything.
Christmas 1
You know what? The kids didn’t even notice! Because there were a limited number of gifts, we were extra careful and thoughtful about each one we bought. The gifts were truly perfect for each child, not just some little novelty thingy that has a panda bear on it, or whatever else they were “into” for that year. Plus, we could spend a little bit more on a big, special gift for each of them since the money was not being stretched so thin on stupid little crap that would end up broken or in a yard sale/donation pile within 3 months.
Here is a picture of 2 years later, when we actually had the first really, truly, “five gift Christmas”.
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Simplifying is like most things, it gets easier with practice. Although, I still am nowhere near perfection, I have grown as a minimalist.
Wait, are minimalists allowed to “grow”? or would that be anti-minimalist?
Here’s a little story from just last week.
The youngest is into “My Little Ponies”. She already has each of the ponies, but I found this cool thing. It was her favorite pony that had a small flashlight attached to it. Not only did the flashlight light up, but the pony glowed form within. It was even on sale for $5! I had it in my hand and almost put it into my shopping bag when I decided to take a moment and really think about it. She likes to play with her toys, and this one was too bulky and wire-y to really play with. I decided that she would think it was super cool, and then one of the wires would break, or she would get sick of its bulkiness and it wouldn’t be around for more than a month or two. So, I set it back on the shelf and walked away, feeling slightly proud of myself. I actually did a small happy dance right there in the store.
Go me, go me, go me, go me
Over the course of 2014, a friend and I were discussing Christmas gift giving and she told me about something that someone told her (no, we’re not back in the 8th grade, he said, she said stuff, just bear with me).
They get their kids 4 presents, “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read”. I fell in love with that! So this year the hubby and I decided to adopt that way of controlling the mass of toys that always seems to enter our home no matter how much we minimize, with one exception: the fifth gift, the “wild card”.
We are still giving 5 gifts. The first 4 will follow that lovely little saying and the fifth gift is a wild card! This year it happens to be a “communal gift” that all three kids can use and want, but it could be individual gifts next year. Who knows!??!?! It’s a wild card!
Since my kids never read my blog (until now, since I just said that), I will let you all in on what we decided to get them in each category. But for those of you who know us personally, don’t tell them!!
christmas 2014
As you can see, some of the categories sort-of “overlap”. Each kid’s “something they need” is something they can wear this year. And Adia’s “something to wear” is something she really, really wants, and has been asking for all year.
We also tried to tailor even the “need” gifts to each kid. Amaris got some super cute pink and black L.L. Bean snow boots, and Raine’s were purple and grey. Both of which we got for a steal on Ebay!
We decided to make a donation in each child’s name and pair it with their “something to wear”. Each donation is in line with each child’s likes. Adia has such a heart for young children and the less fortunate, so we donated a winter coat to a child in need in her name. Raine LOVES pandas. She wants to save them all. So we made a donation in her name to the WWF for panda conservation. Amaris is, of course, obsessed with owls. We adopted “Sophie”, the owl she met at an event in Colorado, through an organization that helps injured birds of prey, Wild Wings.
We did this to help the children think of others on Christmas morning and get used to the good feeling they get when they know they are helping others.
Here are the links to the charities that we donated to.
There are plenty more worthy causes out there, if none of these float your proverbial boat. Google, my people, google. How did we live before google? Seriously?
We’ve also got a lot of their stocking stuff already. I like to put essentials like undies, smelly soaps, and the like in there along with a few little “wants”. Etsy is a great place to find some really cool stocking stuffers, by the way. (A post on some awesome Etsy shops is coming tomorrow!)
To minimize even further, get some gifts that are intangible, so to speak. Movie tickets, massage gift certificates, mani/pedi’s, personal coupons for babysitting or lawn mowing, donations to a worthy cause, tickets to a Broadway show or sporting event, cooking classes, hot air balloon rides, etc. are all great gifts that will give the receiver a wonderful experience that will not clutter their home or their lives. In fact, those gifts enrich life!
It truly is the thought that counts, not the gift. Think about how happy people are when someone gives them something that truly shows that someone thought about them and gave them something tailored to their life and loves.
So put some thought into your gift giving this year. Not only will that help you give better, but it will make you a happier person as you think on the people you love instead of fighting crowds to get the latest craze in a crappy store.
How do you give during this season? Any more cool tips, tricks, or sayings out there? I wanna know!!!


I’ll be homeless for Christmas December 10, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — asimplemodernlife @ 2:59 pm
Tags: , ,

I channeled my inner Christmas caroler for the title of this post, with an obvious slight twist.
Lately things have been a bit rough for me. I like to keep it real on this blog, so here it is, reality.
(But don’t worry, this is not a “pity-party, doom and gloom” kind of a post. That is NOT how I roll)
We are officially homeless, and have been for weeks.
We have looked at about 15 possible homes during 2 separate trips to New Hampshire, only 2 of which made the cut.
We lost those 2 homes to other bidders.
The hubby is still in Colorado while the kids and I are traversing the eastern coast of the country.
The job in NH is still not 100% for sure, 99.9%, but not 100%.
I received a medical diagnosis that is not fun. (nothing serious, just annoying)
We’re getting sick of not having our own stuff, our own space, and our daddy/hubby.
And Christmas is in 2 weeks.
My attitude has been less than stellar as of late, which accounts for no fun posts of fun projects on the blog here. I had an entire list of awesome stuff that I wanted to share with you all for some really neat Christmas gifts. I may still be able to get some of them on here, but let’s face it, time is not on my side now.
Let’s just say that no matter how hard I try, our life is NOT simple right now; but it is modern.
Modern families are having more and more stress and less and less fun. I try to aim for more fun and less stress, but lately that has not been happening. Then it hit me.
Shut up and stop complaining.
We still have each other emotionally, if not physically. We have an amazing opportunity to move our family somewhere where we’ll all be happy. We have visited some amazing places. We have friends and family willing to share their homes with us and show us around their towns. We have a God that has been providing for us all along this stressful journey in our lives. We have food to eat. And a million other blessings to be thankful for.
Once I had this realization, I decided to get off of my rear-end and do something to make life a little more Christmas-y.
We donated some money to worthy organizations and bought some presents for those who really are in a hardship during Christmas. This is the season of giving after all!
That really made me feel better and have a more grateful attitude.
I got some of our Christmas shopping done. I had NO presents, people. NONE. Now, I am almost done.
I only shopped at small businesses, online at Etsy, or in stores who were NOT open on Thanksgiving. If you’re going to have scruples, don’t give them up in order to save a few bucks. And really, I don’t think I spent a whole lot more than I would have at a big-box store and I got some truly one-of-a-kind and handmade gifts. Really cool stuff, seriously.
And sorry, but after promising that I would post my finds, I realized I couldn’t! Everyone I shop for reads this stinkin’ blog! Sorry y’all. That’s the price of being as insanely popular as I am.
HAHHAHAHHAAA. Oh, man, not even I could keep a straight face on that one!
Maybe instead of “popular” I should have typed “infamous”. 🙂
We made a tree.
Oh yeah, baby, a tree.
Is it as cool as the lighted wall tree from the past 5 years?
Is it portable and super easy to do?
All that we needed was 3 sheets of large posterboard, some stickers and bows and other trinkets to decorate it with, a couple of sheets of sticky-back foam, and a few household tools like needle and thread and a box-cutter.
To start with I made a rather odd color choice for a Christmas tree: black.
Yes, black.
Yes, everyone in my family has already “dogged” me about this choice, but I think it turned out rather well.
To start with, you all know that I am a little crazy and don’t like boring, normal stuff, right?
So black it was!
I cut large triangles out of each piece of posterboard. Like this:
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Then I took the leftover pieces of posterboard and glued them on top of the full-size, large triangle that I had cut out. The reason was simply to make it stronger and sturdier.
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I made 3 tree triangles. In order to get them to all go together and stand up I had to cut each triangle differently. Tree triangle #1 has a slit cut from the top, down the center, to about halfway. Tree triangle #2 has a slit cut from the bottom, up the center, to about halfway. Tree triangle #3 has both slits, one from the top and one from the bottom, just make sure the two slits don’t meet up and the triangle just ends up being cut in half! This part was a lot of trial and error.
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I put it all together before we started the decorating part, just to make sure. Take triangle #3 (the one with both slits) hold it by the very top point and pull triangle #1’s slit up the bottom into the slit on the bottom of #3. Then take triangle #2 and put it down over the top of the other triangles, lining up the slits so they all fit together.
This is much easier to show than explain with text on a screen, so I hope you understood some of that. It’s really not hard, I am just making it sound that way.
Then I took it all back apart and started on the cut-outs. My favorite part. 😀
I laid the tree triangles flat on the floor, got a glass from my grandmother’s cabinet, and began tracing 4 or 5 circles onto the posterboard using a white colored pencil. I didn’t put any in the middle, since that’s where the trees “fit together”.
Then I carefully cut the circles out using a box-cutter.
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After that we started on the decorations. I gave each of my girls a sheet of foam that had a sticky backing. They drew things that reminded them of Christmas. I gave them no ideas, and they each covered a different part of Christmas in their designs. The oldest went with the Nativity, the middle one went with our family portraits, and the little one went with traditional secular Christmas items. Once they were finished we put another sheet of foam on the back and cut out each ornament. I finished them off by placing a piece of long black thread in between the 2 sticky foam pieces that made each ornament and having the girls color on the back of the ornaments as well.
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The ornaments were placed in the tree triangle’s cut outs using a needle threaded with the pieces of black thread that were sticking out of the top of each. I simply pulled the needle through the posterboard and tied it off, leaving the ornaments dangling.
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Then the girls prettified those tree triangles with some bling and bows! We stuck to a jewel-toned color palette of blue, green, purple, and pink (which encompassed everyone in the family’s favorite color).
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Once it was all beautified, I just put it back together and viola! A portable tree, just perfect for this home-free family.
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Every time we visit someone new, or head or a different hotel room, our little tree can go with us. I thought about getting lights to wrap around it, but this is all about simplifying and enjoying the season.
If you want another portable, cool funky tree idea, check out the magazine trees from last year. Sorry about some of the pictures being missing on that post. I am not sure what happened to them. Maybe once I win the lottery I will hire someone to be my own personal “explainer of technology”. Until then, bear with me, ASML family! 🙂
We also grabbed some cheap stockings and some glitter glue. Since their stocking are all packed up in boxes in our storage unit. We may not be having the fanciest of Chistmases, or the Christmas that has been lingering in my head all year long, but we are making the best of it, and having some fun along the way.
Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
Celebrating the birth of someone who loves more than anyone else ever has or ever could?
So get on out there and celebrate, even if things are no where near perfect.



Small Business Saturday! November 29, 2014

Filed under: Living Intentionally — asimplemodernlife @ 2:47 pm
Tags: ,

So this post is s super short one.
“Why?” you ask. (even if you didn’t)
My girls and I are about to head out to downtown Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and put our money where our mouth is.
“Why shop small?” you ask. (again, you don’t have to actually ask it, I’m just going to tell you anyway)
Because it’s putting money into your local economy, helping out hard-working, middle-class, just-like-you shop owners in your own neighborhood.
It’s about living better and more intentionally; not just heading to the nearest big-box store buying the same cheap crap as everyone else while fattening up some CEO’s wallet.
It’s about getting more for your money, both in quality and experience.
It’s about thinking small, and, in turn, living large in every way possible in this day and age when greed, big screens, and corporations rule.
small business image small-business-saturday-
If there are any Europeans reading right now, kudos to you all! Shopping small is a way of life in Europe and I LOVE it! You all know how to live. Small markets that you visit almost every day, small pubs and shops lining the streets, filled with people, small apartments and houses that make the most of every inch. Seriously, you Europeans have “got it goin’ on”!
While the U.S. has it’s own things that make it special (like Thanksgiving!), that is one thing we could stand to learn from you guys: living small=living large!
What that’s you said? You spent most of your money yesterday on Black Friday? That’s ok! Every little bit helps. Just head out and see what amazing things await you! Google your local downtown and see what’s happening today.
I saw something somewhere sometime that said, “Shop where you can yell at the owner!”
So not only do you help your economy and get better, more unique merchandise, but there is a relational quality to small business shopping that you just can’t get anywhere else. People who actually TALK TO YOU and care about your purchasing power.
OK, OK, enough “preaching”. Time for me to get to shopping!! I will post my amazing finds tomorrow. 🙂
Oh! And if you’re more of a “DIY-er” when it comes to Christmas, or Hannukah, or whatever, stay tuned for next week! I will have a post full of easy, cool, funky, modern, DIY gift ideas!