January 2023 Create Date – Creating a Budget

This month was a little rough as far as going on dates goes. I’m not going to lie, I thought we were going to have to skip it. Then I realized that we have some big goals coming up this year (travel, paying down debt, both girls in college in the fall) and we will probably need to be better about budgeting. So, we had a Create a Budget date at home.

I wish I could say that we didn’t find any surprises when we dove into our finances, but I would be lying. It is amazing how much we have been spending on restaurants – and I have actually been cooking a lot, so I would hate to see what it was just a couple months ago. Rising prices have not helped, but we have definitely gotten used to the convenience of grabbing food on the go or treating ourselves to a nice dinner more than we should.

We’ve also been spending more on coffee shops (Tim Hortons, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks) than I would have ever suspected. I will take full ownership that this is mostly me, and I have been taking steps to eat breakfast at home more, so I know this will improve dramatically.

After analyzing several categories over the past few months, we have made a budget that should allow us to pay down some debt and also save some money towards other goals. We did not include my income in the budget, so that is where our Adventure and Create dates will likely come from and also where things like hair cuts, mani/pedis, and gifts will come from. It isn’t perfect and will likely need adjusted, but it should make a real impact on our spending habits.

For your viewing pleasure, here is our workspace and our faces when we finished.

Do you have a budgeting system? Any tips on things we should always include? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

January 2023 Goals

I am having a very hard time believing we are in a new year – but I am super excited by the possibilities! I am currently working on reflecting on my goals from last year – what went well, what I need to update, what I want to add, what I want to leave behind. I can tell you that I did accomplish so much in the past year. I can also tell you that I had several goals that I did not even start or that I made progress on and then lost the progress. I do think I need to make my yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals line up just a little better. There are definitely monthly goals that were lovely but didn’t move the needle on my big goals. There were definitely things I could have been more consistent with. But there were also things I did very consistently and things that did impact my goals in big ways.

Let’s start this month by reflecting on my goals for last month. I think this is going to be a mixed bag because I was very sick for 2 weeks in December, so I did not do anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. But I know I also tried to plan goals that allowed me time to get ready for the holidays and celebrate with my family, so we shall see….

  • Add previews to my Time, Winter, and Arctic products – I did not start this. I am obviously at a block here, so I need to start really small with a goal for January that I can accomplish and that will move this forward.
  • Market my January classes on Instagram and Facebook groups to fill my classes – I have been doing this – I need to make a big push this week. I actually have decent enrollments right now for my classes that start next week. It could definitely still get better, though. 🙂
  • Add 20 Pinterest pins – I did not start this. Again, I know it is important to move the needle here, but I just need to rethink how it will work.
  • Figure out sewing machine logistics in my classroom and list a sewing class – I did not do this. But I do have ideas for a sewing club and will try to get it listed this week.
  • Make 4 blog posts – I did 2 blog posts – and then this will be the 4th one for this specific day in the beginning of January. I’m going to count this as a done.
  • Hang blinds and plates in my office – I did not start this one. I completely forgot about it, actually. Adding it to my list for this week.
  • Send Christmas cards to friends and family I did this! And they probably even received most of them before Christmas!
  • Make dinner 12 times – I am pretty sure I did this as well.
  • Hike 4 times – visit 4 winter hike series parks – We visited 4 of the winter hike series parks and we did 7 hikes total in December!
  • Do my 20 hours of continuing education for my SLP licensure – I actually ended up doing 22 hours of CE this month.

It looks like I get about a 6/10 on this one. I am super pleased with this because, as I said, I was out of commission for a good chunk of the month. I have been feeling really, really frustrated with having 2 businesses I am trying to grow at the same time recently. When I started my TpT business, I was averaging about $1500-$2000 a month on Outschool. I thought it was stable, so it seemed like it would be easy to maintain while also building my TpT business. Instead, I have really had to put in a lot of time into both. I am feeling stretched and need to find balance there. So, I think adjusting my goals a bit to fit where I am in my businesses and life will really help.

So, for January, while I am still working through goals and my visions for my businesses, I am going to make some pretty simple goals. Here is what I have:

  • Get my goals for 2023 and my first quarter goals ready.
  • Get matte screen protector for iPad so I can photograph Valentines products and get previews made.
  • At least 1 adventure and 1 create date with blog posts.
  • Film 12 craft videos for Crafty Phonics – L Sound FLEX class.
  • List a sewing class and a Communicate and Create for the Make Your Year Edventure Conference with classes to continue after.
  • Finish the ACE Educator process.
  • Walk outside or on treadmill 20x.
  • 12 hikes – finish my last few for 2022 and begin 2023 52 Hike Challenge.
  • Make dinner 20x.
  • Pay off $1500 in debt.

I’m not going to lie, a lot of this list is things that is already in progress. I am working through writing my goals. I have chosen the workshops for my ACE educator pillars. I have already hiked twice. I ordered the matte screen protector last night. I am paying bills this morning. But, if I write this list and actually finish the things on it, I know that it will propel me into February with so much momentum. I am excited and hopeful and feel more in control of my businesses already.

What are your goals for January? Do you have goals for this year to share? Let me know in the comments!

December Create Date: New Year’s Eve Charcuterie Board

December almost got away from us friends. We had 2 weekends of Frozen Jr. where I was co-costumer and Keith was light designer, and I honestly thought we may have to fall back on that as our create date for the month. Then I realized that we have never made a charcuterie board together, and it would be a perfect thing to make for New Year’s Eve. Boom! Month saved! We spent the first part of the day at 2 stores to make sure we had a variety of things to fill our board with. We may have gone a bit overboard, but I think there was only one thing in this picture that we didn’t use at all.

Keith started by filling the corners with cheese and berries and I made some meat flowers.

Next, we made little streams of cheese and meat to the sides. Crackers came in above and below the cheese and meat. Finally, we filled in the top and bottom with sweet stuff – cookies from friends and family and Andes mints on the bottom and chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels, thin mint chocolate covered pretzels, and cocoa peppermint almonds. Chex mix and Fritos Scoops round out the offerings nicely.

After that, we each loaded up a plate and settled in to watch football and performances for New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. It was lovely!

Don’t worry, this was just the first pass – I ate more. We hope you had a fantastic New Year and that 2023 brings you joy and peace!

What did you do for New Year’s Eve? Did you have any good food? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

December Adventure Date 2: Pandora Hike at Scioto Grove Metro Park

A few days before Christmas, Keith and I found ourselves on our own for the evening. We decided to check out the Pandora Hike that was being hosted by Scioto Grove Metro Park. It was pretty cold, but we figured we would be moving, so as long as it wasn’t too far, we would be okay. We arrived at the nature center and were greeted by the rangers. They gave us a UV flashlight and sheet and marker to record the clues we found to spell a secret word. We set out from the nature center through some lovely scenery.

We found all 7 clues along the path near hanging lights. I was unable to get a photo, but the flashlight revealed a letter on each symbol.

In the end, it was not a super long walk, but it was fun. And we definitely solved the puzzle. I am not going to spoil it, though, in case another metro park decides to have a hike. Here is our completed clue sheet.

This would be an especially fun experience for families with young children. Older children will likely feel it is too easy, but will probably still like hiking and shining the light on the clues. I would definitely recommend it if you ever have the opportunity.

Have you done any special events at Columbus Metro Parks? Let me know which ones you love in the comments! 🙂

December Adventure Date 1: The Christmas Tree Home

The last two years at Christmas, I have been aware of several friends and acquaintances touring a place called the Christmas Tree Home. After one friend in particular posted a link to a Facebook group, I joined in the hopes that we would be able to visit in the future. This year, I was alerted when they posted the sign up page, so I was able to snag us a time slot to visit. The home is only open 3 Saturdays and 3 Sundays each year, and the hours are quite limited. Probably because it is an actual house on a cul-de-sac and they are trying to be good neighbors.

When we arrived, we found a place to park and walked up to the house – as you can see, the weather cooperated to make the scene look quite wintery. The house was impressive even from the outside! The front porch reminded me of the department store window displays we used to go see when I was really young.

When we got inside, we were greeted with so. many. Christmas. trees. At last count, the owner, Barb, had 649 trees. They are all sizes and made from all materials. Barb also had a fun juke box where you could pick favorite Christmas songs to play. Oh, and also, there is a cat. My girls were very happy about that. 🙂 Here is just a small selection of her displays.

In addition, Barb offers everyone that visits a homemade cookie and what I hear is really amazing hot chocolate. You also have the opportunity to donate money to causes that help food insecure and homeless people in the Columbus area. Last I heard, they had raised over $2000, so that is fantastic.

While I don’t know that we will go every year, I do think this is worth at least one visit. It is impressive and Barb is a wonderful hostess. I definitely left with more Christmas spirit, and that’s never a bad thing.

Have you visited the Christmas Tree Home? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

November 2022 Adventure Date – Alien Zoo at Dreamscape AMC Easton

There are currently 3 locations that have Dreamscape AMC Theatres in the United States, and one of them happens to be 10 minutes from our house at Easton Town Center. So, because November was a little bit crazy in the Emigh household, we decided it would be the perfect month to try the Dreamscape experience. The website was a little hard to use to get our tickets – maybe it was getting a lot of traffic, or maybe it has some sort of internal problems, but that ended up being the most frustrating part of the experience for my husband. We bought our tickets the night before, but the people that did the experience with us bought them right before we started, so both options may work for you.

Dreamscape shows are VR experiences, so I was a little worried and took a Dramamine beforehand. When we arrived at the theatre, we had to choose our avatars and we got to enjoy the pre-show lounge which featured decorations from all of their current offerings and a digital schedule board that showed which shows were currently boarding. There was also some merch for sale if that is your jam.

The first thing we had to do was get our gear on. There were hand and foot sensors, a very heavy backpack, and VR headset. Please enjoy the blind selfie I took in gear – sorry it doesn’t show everything, but it shows the headset.

The Alien Zoo room was really cool and about 15 minutes long. We got to see lots of interesting creatures, interact with things, and “move” through the environment without having to do a lot of walking. It was really weird to look at Keith but see someone else – it was maybe the most discombobulating part of the whole thing. Two of the people with us were children, and I did have something taken from me during the experience because they saw I had it and couldn’t find their own. It really didn’t make a difference in the end, but if you are an adult that goes with kids, please be ready to help them to find the objects and buttons in the experience so that it doesn’t affect the experience for others.

Overall, we really liked the experience and will likely be back for another round in the near future. We saw that there might be a How to Train Your Dragon themed room, so if that ever heads to Columbus we will for sure want to try it. Have you ever done any VR? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

December 2022 Goals

Is it just me, or was November a downhill slide? I never quite got my feet under me, so I did not even get to set goals for the month. I did make it through a lot of additional volunteer obligations, but I seriously feel like I have been just surviving for the past couple of months. I never even recapped my goals for October, so let’s see what the damage was there before we start with December as our clean slate. Here is the good, the bad, and I’m pretty sure the very ugly.

  • Figure out photography and previews for 10 TpT products – I still didn’t do this.
  • Add 10 new TpT products – I did not do any TpT the past 2 months.
  • Create an Outschool and Allschool schedule that feels doable – I did create a good Outschool schedule, and tried to add in some Allschool without any enrollments.
  • Finish organizing our front room – I did this!
  • Hang blinds in my office – I did not do this.
  • Figure out classroom set up for live sewing classes – I did not do this.
  • Make 4 blog posts, 20 Instagram posts, 20 Facebook posts, and 20 Pinterest pins – I know I made 3 blog posts, but I don’t think I did much with any other social media.
  • Make dinner 10 times – I got into a really good pattern here. I am proud to say I did do this.
  • Hike 6 times – I hiked 3 times in October and I did not hike in November at all.
  • Do 6 strength training workouts – I did not do this.

So, to recap, I earned a 3.5/10 over the course of 2 months. This is better than the 3 that I gave myself for September, but in 2 months I would have hoped to accomplish more. There were family and volunteer things that kept me from getting everything I would like to done, but I definitely still had time I did not use towards my goals. I feel a deeply tired, whether from my businesses or from the rest of my life. So, I am going to claim that Fall 2022 was a season of rest in my business and growth in other areas of my life. I have continued to have at least one sale each month in my TpT store, and I am still teaching many loyal students on Outschool, so that has allowed me to coast for now. I would like to think that I can start to pick up the pace a bit, but I know that this month is going to be hectic with the holidays. So, my goals will be:

  • Add previews to my Time, Winter, and Arctic products.
  • Market my January classes on Instagram and Facebook groups to fill my classes.
  • Add 20 Pinterest pins.
  • Figure out sewing machine logistics in my classroom and list a sewing class.
  • Make 4 blog posts.
  • Hang blinds and plates in my office.
  • Send Christmas cards to friends and family.
  • Make dinner 12 times.
  • Hike 4 times – visit 4 winter hike series parks.
  • Do my 20 hours of continuing education for my SLP licensure.

I feel like this is a really good mix of personal and business goals, and it should set me up for success in the coming year. I also got really specific with some of these goals in the hopes that they won’t seem as overwhelming to me. I am looking forward to seeing if this plan will bring me more success with my goals this month.

What are your goals for December? Let me know in the comments so we can cheer each other on! 🙂

November 2022 Create Date – Gatehouse Blooms Thanksgiving Centerpiece Class

I have been trying to book a flower arranging class for a create date since April, so when I saw Gatehouse Blooms posted dates and times for their Thanksgiving Centerpiece class, I signed up right away. Our class was on a Sunday morning in early November, so we really lucked out that the weather was gorgeous and we were able to work outside in t-shirts. We arrived to find some goodies and drinks provided, as well as buckets of flowers waiting to be put into our arrangements. After a brief introduction to the flowers we would be using, we were off.

We started with the biggest flowers and a lot of our greenery to fill in a lot of the space. Next, we added in lots of other flowers and even some accents.

Melissa, the owner and creator at Gatehouse Blooms, gave us all kinds of facts about all of the flowers and greenery we used and came around with helpful suggestions. It was very laid back, and she definitely allowed her us to be creative and try our own thing, all while encouraging us to keep adding until we were happy with our creations. It never felt rushed, nor did it drag. I would 100% recommend her classes to anyone. We are very happy with our final arrangements.

We ended up keeping Keith’s arrangement and giving away mine – they were so big we couldn’t keep both. My friend was more than happy to benefit from our class.

Have you ever taken a flower class? What did you make? Would you do it again? Let me know in the comments!

October 2022 Create Date – Inspiring U Quilling Class

This month, our create date was something that was new for both of us. I mean, I tried quilling as a preteen, but I didn’t really have the tools, so it didn’t go super well. This time, I think we both discovered something we enjoy. We took our class at a place called Inspiring U in Westerville, Ohio. Our teacher, Lisa Wheeler, was friendly and helpful. We started by opening our kits and familiarizing ourselves with the tools.

Next it was time to make our acorns. It was pretty easy to make the coil and then use the tools to make it a mound. After that, glue holds it in place and it gets hot glued into an acorn cap. Easy peasy!

After making our super cute acorns, it was time to take on some fall leaves. We started with maple leaves because corners are easier than curves. First we put pins in to hold the paper to the shape we wanted, wove one layer of paper through, then added a second layer with glue so that it would be really sturdy. This involved removing and then replacing pins and was kind of a pain. After that, we were able to fill in our leaves with quilled shapes. This is where we found that we were running short on time. So, mine is not very creative as far as shapes, and Keith’s is more creative but has more empty space.

We both agree that we find the process meditative and relaxing, but maybe not as much when you are rushed to finish during a class. We did not end up buying one of the kits at the end because we both don’t need one more thing right now. I can definitely see us coming back to this in the future to make ornaments or gift tags. Thank you so much Inspiring U for offering such a fun class! We love how our acorns and leaves turned out and added them to our decor right away.

Have you ever tried paper quilling before? What did you make? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

October 2022 Adventure Date – The Haunted Sewer

I don’t think I have every shared this here before, but I strongly dislike – maybe even hate – haunted houses. I do not like people scaring me, and I really do become a ninja of sorts when I feel startled by family members. But my daughter has been involved in a haunted house fundraiser at our high school for 2 years now, so I have been a guinea pig to give them ideas for improvement. Last year it was not as bad because there were lights throughout the haunted house, but this year there were definitely parts that were very dark. Regardless, we braved it. Here is a before shot of several parents ready to take on the Haunted Sewer.

Eventually we were allowed to enter the building. It was actually pretty cool because we got to go into a basement in the school that is usually not open to the public. It is pretty creepy on its own. The kids added their own spin to it to make it even creepier, of course. This is the make-up we were met with.

I did not go through again when there was make-up and complete darkness. But I will say that I think our kids did a fantastic job. And we raised quite a bit of money for the theatre program, so we were quite pleased. I don’t think I will be going through any more haunted houses – maybe the Haunted Mansion at Disney, but that’s definitely the only exception. 😉

Have you ever been to a haunted house? Do you love them? Hate them? Let us know in the comments!