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! 🙂
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! 🙂
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!
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! 🙂
September felt really busy friends – did you feel that as well? By the time we would get to talk about a create date for the month, the option was full or canceled or our schedule changed. So, this was the month that I had no choice – the month I made Keith paint pottery with me. My wonderful husband has tried so many new things with me, but he really, really doesn’t like painting pottery. And his job is stressful right now, so that stress is bleeding over into other areas as well. I would love to say that this was a pleasant time for both of us, but that would be a lie. I did really like the people at uPaint Pottery Studio and thought they did a great job explaining things to us. I thought they were missing detail work brushes which made some of the things we wanted to do really hard. Maybe we just didn’t ask. Maybe it was because we were at literally the last table they had. Who’s to say? Regardless, we were there on a create date mission.
We each picked a pumpkin themed project and a fall leaf. Keith’s had a spooky face on one side and was a plain pumpkin on the other, so we figured we could just turn it around after Halloween and leave it up through Thanksgiving. I picked a fun pumpkin dish and decided to use the special writer paints they had to write the season/my name. Here are some before shots:
In the second photo, you can see we used quite a few sponges to “erase” mistakes. We will most likely just be displaying a plain pumpkin all fall – the jack-o-lantern face did not go as planned. I was pleasantly surprised when I picked everything up, though – it all turned out pretty well.
Could I list all the mistakes we made. Yes, yes I could. Am I really happy to add these to our fall decorations anyway? Also yes. I love that the leaves are our wedding colors – we wanted a fall wedding and used leaves as our inspiration even though our date was in August. Would I take someone else to paint pottery with me at uPaint Pottery Studio? Definitely. I loved their selection of projects and their wide array of colors to use. I love that they had special paint writers.
Have you ever painted pottery? Where did you go? What did you paint? Let us know in the comments!
As soon as we decided to go to Disney World for our Anniversary, I knew that I wanted to do the Animation Experience while we were at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as our Create Date for August. I knew we both wanted to see the new Pandora section and all the new rides, so it was an easy addition to make to that plan. We took the Wilderness Train to Conservation Station and got in the queue. I was really happy to see we would be drawing Pua – I have always loved pigs. Keith has not, but even he admits that Pua is cute. The area of the class is amazing – there are sketches and paintings of animals and characters all over the walls. It was nice to have something to look at while we waited for the class before ours to finish. They drew Shere Kahn from the Jungle Book which was cool to see as well.
When it was our turn, we grabbed a golf pencil, a guide sheet, and a lap board to work on. There were long rows of seats, so we were actually not able to see the animator that was doing the demonstration very well, but they had big monitors set up so that everyone could see his hands as he drew. Here are some set up and in progress shots.
So far, so good. The ears, though. That is the tricky part. The part that made you really wish that golf pencils had erasers… We will probably go back and add some finishing touches to these, but this is what our drawings looked at when we finished the class.
As a side note, the animator shared with us that the pig they used for inspiration for Pua is actually named Charlotte Mae, and she is actually a deaf pig that lives in the petting zoo at Conservation Station. How cute is that?!
Have you ever done the Animation Experience at Animal Kingdom? If so, what did you draw? If not, what character would you want to draw? I think if I could choose any Disney animal character, I may have wanted to draw Tod or Copper from The Fox and the Hound, but Pua was definitely just fine with me. 🙂
When we arrived home from Seattle it was July 28th. I knew that I wanted to create the start of a photo collage wall with some of our trip photos, so we immediately started trying to narrow down our choices. If you have read all of my July Adventure Date blogs, you know that we had some gorgeous photos – and the best ones weren’t the ones I posted here from my phone. I knew it was going to be a struggle, but I did not foresee my husband testing positive for COVID two days later. That definitely stalled our date opportunities. We did, finally, narrow our choices down to 3 photos that represented the core of our trip. Our first choice is this beauty that has Chihuly and The Space Needle both represented.
Our second choice was this shot of an Orca from our FRS Skipper Whale Watching Tour.
Rounding out our pics is this gorgeous shot of Mount Rainier with some tiny rapids and waterfalls in front from our time in Paradise.
We added our bicycle spin art to the wall as well – might as well make it about as many Create Dates as we can, right? We also added a little painting that we bought with 2 ladybugs because it reminds us of a story Keith used to tell the girls when they were younger. I LOVE how it turned out and I can’t wait to continue adding to it. We may go back and add some things from previous trips, or we may wait to add new adventures to it. Only time will tell. 🙂
Do you ever display photographs from trips? Do you have a photo wall? I would love to see and hear about it in the comments! 🙂
I know I say this every month, but I sincerely can’t believe it is already July! Wow! I am not complaining, we are getting so close to some super fun vacations, but we also have online classes and fair projects that need some time. Looking back, June was actually a really productive month. First of all, I stopped coughing, so I was able to be more active. Secondly, Keith and I had our little waterfall tour in Cleveland which was wonderful. In fact, we liked getting away on our own so much we decided to book a Disney trip for our anniversary in August. Celebrating 23 years during their 50th anniversary celebration just seems right. Also, we were there for the 25th anniversary birthday cake castle, so we decided we needed some redemption for that…
Without further ado, here is a recap of my June 2022 Goals:
Add 20 products to my TpT store – I did this! I am up to 80 products and need to start switching gears to get more traffic to my store.
Make 5 blog posts, 25 Instagram posts, 25 Facebook posts, and 40 Pinterest pins – This was not a good month for social media and posting on the blog. I got 3 blog posts, 7 Instagram posts, 8 Facebook posts, and no pins. This will be my focus for next month.
Update Play-Doh listings for TpT to follow copyright guidelines – I finally took care of this!
An Adventure Date, Create Date, and 2 Family Game Nights – We did the 2 dates, but I am going to have to rethink Family Game Nights. We are not doing well… I am hoping maybe we can play some games on the planes or in the hotels this month when we go on vacation.
Organize cabinets and shelves in my office, including clearing craft supplies from front room – This is about three quarters of the way done. I have more organizing to do, and I think I need to host a FREE Garage Sale with everything we are getting rid of.
Reserve the rest of our Seattle tours and tickets – This is done! I am so excited for this trip!
Make dinner at home at least 16 times – I think we did about 10 dinners at home this month.
Walk 12 times (cough and energy dependent) – It took until about June 10th to be able to walk without coughing, but I think we got in 10 walks.
Hike 6 times (cough and energy dependent) – I had to look these up twice, but we did this! Our waterfall tour and Schnormeier Gardens tour helped a lot.
I feel really good about this – I earned a 7.5 out of 10 this month! It’s amazing what feeling good and having a little extra time in my schedule will do for my productivity. As I mention above, this month I am pivoting a little to start driving more traffic to my TpT store. With that in mind, here are my goals for July 2022:
Add 10 TpT products to my store.
Write a Sticker Collectors Club class for Outschool.
Make 4 blog posts, 25 Instagram and Facebook posts, and 31 Pinterest pins.
Set my Fall schedule for Outschool.
An Adventure Date, Create Date, and 2 Family Game Nights.
Finish organizing my classroom and our front room.
Have a Free Yard Sale with everything we need to give away from organizing efforts.
Make dinner at home 12 times (this is a stretch with tech week, fair, and vacation all falling this month).
Walk/work out 15 times (I am starting a new health program this month, and I am hopeful).
Hike 8 times (we have a few tours and hikes planned in Seattle, so this should be okay).
I am really looking forward to our family vacation this month – it has been almost 6 years since we have taken a true family vacation to somewhere new and 10 years since we have flown anywhere as a family. We are running out of time for these family trips, so I am so glad it is working out. I can’t wait to share the adventure with you in a post later this month! Have you ever been to Seattle? What are some things you loved? What things did you think were over-rated? Let us know in the comments. 🙂
In April, I tried to set up 3 months worth of Create and Adventure dates. At that time, we were supposed to take this Pandora Bead class at Glass Axis in May, but it got postponed to early June. That left us scrambling a bit for a May date, but it made things really easy this month as I was at a dead end with the company I tried to work with for June. So, we made the trip over to Franklinton for our class. We were pretty excited to find out that we were the only ones signed up, so we got a lot of attention and tips from our wonderful instructor, Helen.
To get us started, Helen explained the tools and supplies we would be using. Neither of us had worked with a flame so closely before, so I know there were definitely nerves involved. We chose our colors and got all set up.
After we had our colors in front of us, Helen gave us examples of a couple of techniques we would be using. Then it was trial by fire to create 5 beads each.
After we finished each bead, it was labeled and then placed in the kiln to safely cool over the course of a week. We were able to pick them up about a week later, and I am so very proud of both of us! I think they turned out fantastic and I can’t wait to maybe wear some and give some as a gift. There was one bead that broke, but everything else turned out better than expected. 🙂
All in all, I found the process of making the beads pretty meditative. You had a lot to think about (preheating, always rotating, keeping things hot but not too hot, mixing colors, etc…) but it was also easy to get into a rhythm. I would definitely do this again, and I’m pretty sure Keith feels the same.
Have you ever done any flame work? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂
We did it! It was the last few hours of the month. It was the day we had to be up at 3:30 to take Charlotte to the airport. But we totally did a create date for May. Originally, we were supposed to make Pandora Beads at Glass Axis a week ago. That class was moved to next week by Glass Axis, though, so I was scrambling a bit to find something we could do. Then I remembered how much we liked out last cooking class at Sur La Table. After checking their website last week, I signed us up to do their Sweet & Savory Grilling class because it was definitely a new technique we’ve not tried. We don’t even own a grill anymore, but we have been toying with the idea of getting a new one. So, I thought this would convince us one way or the other.
Our class tonight was small – only 4 students – but it was really nice because I feel like we learned a lot and got to try everything. We started by chopping and prepping all of the ingredients for our dishes. Once everything was prepped, we were given a demonstration of how easy it is to make homemade whipped cream – and we got to try vanilla paste for the first time. I loved that we put cinnamon and cardamom in it – so yummy! That was quickly put into the fridge to wait for dessert. Our first creation was sweet pea and mint puree in a small food processor. We spread that on grilled bread and then topped with parmesan cheese, radish slices, olive oil and salt/pepper. It was amazing – I can definitely see us doing that again.
The next thing we did was chargrill corn, cherry tomatoes, and red onion slices to make a refreshing salad/salsa. A little basil chiffonade, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper mixed in and it was one of my favorite parts of the meal. We ate it with the grilled salmon, and it was a really refreshing combination.
The final part of our meal was grilled nectarine halves. The nectarine halves were soaked in honey and Grand Marnier before being grilled. We topped it with the whipped cream we made earlier in class and it was divine. I would seriously recreate this entire meal – and it wouldn’t even take that long.
Overall, we give this class 5 out of 5 stars. The chef was very knowledgeable and I feel like we learned lessons that we can use to make variations on the recipes. We also learned a lot about grill pans and knives, which I appreciated. Last of all, she gave us the best idea for a gift for my Dad – but I can’t reveal that before Father’s Day/his birthday this month.
Have you ever taken a cooking class? Where was it? What did you learn? Leave any and all ideas in the comments – we are always looking for new things to try. 🙂