I've intended to jump on the bandwagon for one of the Young House Love Pinterest Challenges since they started, but this time I finally did it. In fact, I did it twice. And...I'm gonna have to have another go.

The project I chose was animal bookends, made with plastic animals from the dollar store or similar. Several versions have popped up on Pinterest, including these, these, and these. First, I attempted the type mounted on wooden blocks, as instructed by kellyqc at Maddie Grace Interiors. The materials were simple:

The dinosaurs were from Dollar Tree ($1 each), the wooden blocks from Michael's (about $1.50 each, I think). The paint was leftover from another project and the adhesive was a couple of bucks at Big Lots.

The process was also simple--spray paint the dinos and the wood blocks, then glue A to B. And they turned out cute.

Unfortunately, they also turned out too lightweight to actually hold books. About a half second after this photo was taken, the books fell over. Oops. Back to the drawing board.

The next set, using acrylic photo frames, as described by Jessica at Mad in Crafts, had even more cheap and simple materials:

Again, leftover spray paint, and the same adhesive as above. The two photo frames were about $.50 each at the thrift store and the slightly larger dinosaur was from the $1 bins at Target. The hardest part was figuring out how to cut the plastic dino cut in half (in the end, I used a bread knife). Same process as before--I spray painted both pieces, then secured each half dino to a frame.

Again, turned out cute. And again, totally useless as bookends.

So now I plan to make a third try, using the directions Cassie gives at Hi, Sugarplum! I haven't decided yet whether I will buy some sort of stones at the hardware store or try to use a more natural set I gathered on a walk. At the very least, those should hold books up! I'll keep you informed. In the meantime, I'm glad to have attempted a Pinterest project! It's inspiring me to do a few more.

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Actually, that liberal arts degree WAS a good idea

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Over and over again lately, I see high school students advised only to take on the financial and time investment of a four-year undergraduate education, particularly one in a liberal arts field, if they are very sure about their career goals and how the philosophy/English/art/whatever degree they want to pursue will directly feed into them.

I get where this advice is coming from. College is extraordinarily expensive, setting kids up with 20 years or more of monthly financial burden that they can ill afford without a good job. However, as someone who is still paying student loans for a private school undergraduate history degree, it's just not the advice I'd go back and give my 17 year-old self when she was deciding what she was going to do after high school. With 15 years in the rearview, I'd tell my younger self to do it exactly the way she did.

Last April, Frank Bruni (BA in English from UNC Chapel Hill, by the way) suggested in the New York Times that the government and universities provide incentives to "steer students into the fields of study that will serve them and society best." That is, direct them away from the uselessness of liberal arts (his article also makes use of the tired trope of the philosophy major barista) by giving better financial aid to those who make "better" major choices. I think he's wrong, and that's what I would tell my 17 year-old self.


When I decided to attend a private liberal arts school, and to make humanities my course of study (it was originally English, then political science, then American Studies, then history), I didn't have a very specific goal in mind. Or, rather, I had lots of them. I intended, at various times, to be a journalist, a lawyer, a book publisher, a professor...you get the idea. I just wanted to be well-educated; I didn't necessarily know, or even care, in what career direction that education would take me.

I'm sure this attitude would horrify Bruni and his cohort, but it has served me really well. My meandering career hasn't included any of the fields I thought I'd get into, but it has included various forms of professional writing, project management, non-profit research, work in higher education administration, and a (much more ill-advised than the original BA) masters degree. Aside from my current (short, in the relative scheme of things) unemployment, I've never been unable to support myself or make my student loan payments. While none of my jobs have specifically required that I have the history degree I hold, I'd argue that my undergraduate education helped to prepare me for all of them. Over and over, I have benefited from the critical thinking, analysis, comprehension, writing, and editing skills I honed during my time as a liberal arts undergraduate.

The author with her baby at her alma mater.
 

I don't think I'm as much of an outlier as the popular conception of the underemployed humanities graduate would have me believe. Looking back at the fellow liberal arts graduates of 2001 that I know personally, I find a taxonomist, a professor, a couple of lawyers, a commercial buyer, a casting director, two marketing executives, a teacher, a nurse, a corporate insurance agent, and a development director. Have some of us had a rough path to get to our current professional state? Sure. Are we still paying student loans? Probably. But that doesn't differentiate us from our STEM major counterparts.

Bruni claims that going to college is not a "guarantor of a certain quality of life." That's certainly true, but it's true for everybody, not just those of us who go the way of humanities. I don't know anybody, regardless of what they studied, who hasn't had some bumps along the road to establishing themselves professionally.

It isn't enough for me, though, to tell my pre-college self that she won't be harmed by the liberal arts degree she wants to work towards. I'd tell her she'll be helped. In fact, I'd tell her it will be the single most powerful and mind-expanding opportunity she'll ever have, and she should grab it with both hands. That goal of being a well-educated person, regardless of what it does or does not do for my professional or economic success? Fifteen years later I still think that's a valid ambition, and I am still extraordinarily thankful for the broad-based humanities education I got as an undergraduate.

The line between reading the classics and learning to write a persuasive paper and professional and personal success may not be clear to many of the current crop of liberal arts education naysayers, but it's crystal clear to me. I would simply not be who I am without the education I got. If I could go back, I'd thank my idealistic 17 year-old self for not listening to the likes of Bruni. She was right.


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This post is part of BlogHer's Success Tips For My Younger Self editorial series, made possible by Kaplan.

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Nautical Baby Clothes for Spring

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So I have this obsession with baby clothes these days. Probably not surprising, given that I have a newish baby. But baby clothes are so much cuter than I thought! And so much more stylish! This spring, there is a ton of nautical-inspired stuff for babies, and I particularly love that. It's available in both the boys and girls sections, and, to me, it largely reads as gender neutral. The color scheme (navy, gray, red), the stripes, and the motifs themselves (anchors, boats) are refreshingly un-gendered, and also a little bit mature, while still being cute for kids. I just love it.

So, I picked out a few favorite things available right now for kids, at price points across the board. And I'm sitting on my hands not to buy numbers 2, 8, and 16 for my kid!

Nautical Baby Clothes for Spring

Nautical Baby Clothes for Spring by avengingophelia

Here's what we've got:

1. Carter's 2-Piece Tee and Short Set, $13.20
2. Trendy Twin Shop Baby Boy's Anchor Nautical Onesie, $20
3. Gymboree Button Stripe Top, $16.49
4. Boden Baby Applique Jersey Dress, $30
5. Circo Infant Toddler Girls' Pants in Navy Voyage, $5
6. Gymboree Tugboat Submarine Tee, $12.71
7. Cherokee Infant Toddler Girls' Stripe Blazer, $14
8. Boden Baby Vehicle Applique T-Shirt, $20
9. Hatley Infant Boys' Super Soft Day Romper, $29.99
10. Circo Infant Toddler Girls' Jean Shorts--Dark Chambray, $5
11. Le Top Nautical Stripe Tee with Canvas Shorts, $46
12. Circo Newborn Boys' Short-Sleeved Bodysuit--Gray, $5
13. Cherokee Infant Toddler Boys' Short-Sleeved Tee, $6
14. Burt's Bees Newborn Boys' Boat Print Bodysuit--Blue, $9.95
15. Hatley Anchor Long Sleeved Kids' Graphic Tee, $19.95
16. Hatley Blue Whales Boys' Short Set, $39.99
17. Cherokee Infant Toddler Boys' Long-Sleeved Top, $12

What do you think? Seen any awesome nautical baby clothes recently? What am I missing?

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Spreading the love in the mail

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I've been thinking a lot lately about putting positivity and gratitude and love out into the world. It can sometimes sound really cliche and sentimental to talk about, but I think it's important to try to leave the world better than you found it, to do what you can to spread joy. There are lots and lots of ways to do that, of course, and all of them are better than doing nothing. For me, though, one of the ideas that resonates most, which won't surprise anybody who has read here for long, is to spread joy through the mail.

A few years back, Karen Walrond hosted a photo drive wherein she had her readers send in copies of happy and beautiful photographs they'd taken, which were then distributed to the kids at Texas Children's Hospital. In her explanation of what inspired the project, she posts about sticking a picture of a sunflower an envelope and mailing it off to a friend in need of cheering. It's such a simple thing to do, sticking something in an envelope, stamp, address, and viola, a tangible piece of your love arrives at the doorstep of someone far away. And yet, we do it very rarely. Instead, we write two lines on Facebook. We send an email. We do nothing at all.

Karen's photo project was brought back to my mind by a blog I ran across more recently, Giver's Log. In specific, I've been pouring over the Happy Mail archives. For her Happy Mail, AmberLee sends joyful objects, weighing 13 oz or less in order to make best use of first class shipping rates, through the mail to family and friends. The kicker? She sends them unwrapped, or wrapped as little as possible, so that the surprise of getting mail that isn't junk or bills is compounded by the surprise of receiving something without a layer of cardboard and paper between it and you. Examples have included such simple, happy things as a bottle of sprinkles, a giant car wash sponge, a rubber ball, and a pair of flip flops.

I am absolutely in love with AmberLee's idea, not just for its whimsy, but because it is so very doable. None of it is expensive, none of it takes a lot of time. All that is required is a roll of stamps and a little bit of imagination. The mailed objected themselves can be thrifted, found at the dollar store, or even found around your house. And the possibilities are endless. Anything that makes you happy, isn't too fragile, and weighs under 13 oz is fair game!

So, I'm in. I'm shamelessly ripping AmberLee off and starting my own Happy Mail project. I've spent the last week or so looking around for possible stuff to send, and I have quite a number of things in mind. To start, though, I decided to send a little joy to some of the dogs who share their lives with the people I love.

I was inspired, as I so often am, by the Target clearance section, where I found these:

These guys are among my favorite dog toys. My dog won't actually lower himself to playing with toys, but if he did, I'd make him play with these crazy grinning weiner dogs just because I like them (here are some on Amazon, BTW, or check your local Target--mine has them for 50% off). And you can't tell me you wouldn't smile to find one of these in your mailbox, right? So I made some kraft paper and Avery label labels, embellished with some off-brand washi tape, and they're ready to go!
My first Happy Mail! I'm so excited to get these out. I feel fairly confident they'll arrive more or less intact--they don't break any USPS rules I can find, and they're clearly labeled and have sufficient stamps ($2.07 each, by the way). Hopefully, in a week or so when they hit their desintations, both human and canine friends will smile!

My hope is to send out at least one piece of Happy Mail a week for the forseeable future. It's just a little project to keep me entertained and engaged, and to spread some love. I'll try to keep posting about them, if y'all are interested, and let you know how it's going. And I encourage trying this out yourself--I couldn't stop smiling as I was labeling these guys, imagining their recipients. That's good for the soul.

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Resolution 2013 Check-In: February

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I'm a bit late in the month for this, but how about a check-in on my 2013 resolutions?

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Read 40 books.

Kicking butt on this one. As of mid-February, I should have read 5 books to be on-track. I've completed 11 (3 audio, 4 electronic, 4 paper) and have 3 more (one of each format) in progress. I'm currently at 6 non-fiction and 5 fiction, for whatever that is worth.

2. Send birthday cards to my friends/family.

Doing well here, too. I sent 5 in January and 3 in February! I'm going to expand this goal to include more mail-related efforts, but I'll tell you about that in another post.

3. Use the 52 Week Savings Plan.

This one is happening automatically. 

4. Prioritize visits with friends (at least 4).

No progress here yet, but there are two friend visits on my March calendar.

5. Complete the Couch to 5K, then reassess.

I was doing well with this (completed up through Week 5), until I got sidelined with a stupid injury. I was really enjoying it, too. Hopefully I'll be back to it in a couple of weeks.

6. Blog at least three times a week.

Success on this one! I blogged three times a week every week of January and every week so far in February.

7. Do something to improve my space every month.

Doing pretty well with this one. My focus so far has mostly been on decluttering, but I've also fashioned myself a new nightstand from a thrifted piece and put a new collage of photos in my living room, so I'll call this one a yes.

8. Volunteer.

No movement here. yet. :(

9. Institute a gratitude practice.

I'll say more about this in another post later, too, but I've been very successful with this one and have completed a nightly gratitude list for each of the last 27 or 28 days.

10. Re-engage in social media.

I'm doing well with this one, particularly in upping my participation on Facebook, Twitter, and (especially) Pinterest. Still need to work on getting more comments on blogs, but I am reading more blogs, so that's a start.

11. Get a new job.

Nothing so far.

12. Play with the baby.

I feel pretty good about this one. I spend the largest part of every day with my son, and I spend a lot of it not just caring for him, but interacting with him. This is more and more true all the time, as he gets older and easier to play with. It's an incredible, incredible experience.

I'd say I am doing well so far. Obviously I want some movement on the job front, and I'm a little disappointed not to have done anything about getting some volunteering in, but everything else is in good shape. So far, I feel pretty good about 2013.

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Thrift Finds, 2/15/13

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Last time I went thrifting, I forgot to photograph all of my purchases before they made their way out into my house. However, I did manage to snap photos of my two favorite scores, so I thought I'd share them with you today.

First, an addition to my collection of Mexican animal pottery. Or, really, several additions:

Apparently, an owl collector just made a bit deposit at my thrift store, because there were literally hundreds of owl figurines, pictures, etc. I managed to resist all of them except for these guys. I love these guys. The littlest ones are only about an inch tall.

And then these. Does anybody know what where these alphabet cards are from? There aren't any markings or labels on them. I absolutely LOVE them. They'll be decor in Buzzy's room, once I figure out the best way to display them. I can't decide which I like best. Urchin? Iguana? Marmot? Hedgehog? It's so hard!

Some details:
How about you? Done any thrifting lately?

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Dollar Store Craft: Pink & Shiny Valentine's Jars

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As promised, my contribution to the dollar store craft repository!

It occurred to me, as I looked through around ten thousand Pinterest pins, that two of the things that make inexpensive materials and simple procedures look nice as gifts are 1) putting it in a jar (seriously, everything is better in a glass jar) and 2) color conformity. With those two things in mind, I conceived a craft project for my kid to send to some of the ladies in his life (the grandma ladies, that is) for Valentine's Day. I envisioned a jar full of small, pink, useful items. And when you're looking for small and inexpensive, where better to start than the dollar store?

I came home with this bounty:


Lots of pink stuff, right? Everything except for the Lindt truffles, which were from Target, came from the dollar store. I ended up supplementing with just a few things from the dollar bins at Target and stuff I had on hand, too, but this could easily be done with just dollar store finds. A few things I included were: fuzzy socks, shower sponges, multipurpose cleaning cloths, paracord bracelets (my favorite addition), hand sanitizer, pedicure kits, and candy. You could literally use anything, though, and it doesn't have to be pink--I think the important part is that it's all the same color, rather than which color you choose.

After I had my contents ready, I worked out what I wanted for vessels. Cheap and simple were the name of the game, so I used all supplies I had on hand:

Then it was pretty much a matter of adding A and B together! I covered each jar's lid with a circle of scrapbook paper, then glued ribbon around the rim (Washi tape would have been easier, probably, but I didn't have that on hand). I made some heart-shaped tags using the paper and some small pictures of Buzzy I had leftover from Christmas presents. And I stuffed each jar as full as possible with pink things!

Cute, right? I was happy with how these turned out. Hopefully the recipients will be thrilled as well!

Done any dollar store crafting lately? Any special Valentine's? Leave a comment! Leave a link!
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The Obvious Game: Review and Giveaway!

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I am not, as a rule, a huge fan of YA literature. I was when I was the target audience's age, but I haven't much taken to the trend over the last few years wherein adult bibliophiles go gaga over books meant for preteens. That said, I was quite excited to read The Obvious Game. Why? Because the author, Rita Arens, is a favorite blogger of mine (she blogs at Surrender, Dorothy). I've been reading Rita's blog for several years, and I admire her honesty, enjoy her stories, and relate to her voice. I've really loved peeking in on her work to get The Obvious Game completed and published, too--though I don't have a particular dream to publish a YA novel, it's been fascinating to read about how it happens. It's fun to watch anybody you admire work hard to accomplish something important to them, and that's how I've felt whenever I've read Rita's updates about getting the book published. Given that, it seems almost like icing on the cake that I really enjoyed the book itself.

But I did enjoy the book. The heroine, Diana, rang so true to me. Though she actually bore little resemblance to my teenaged self, I still felt, at points in the story, as if I'd had the exact feelings she was having. Though I never struggled with an eating disorder or a critically ill parent like Diana does, I still felt the truth in her reactions to those situations, just as I related to the parts of her life--difficult friendships, a rocky first romantic relationship--to which I could empathize. In a guest post at B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E, Rita describes early drafts of Diana as "too unlikeable" and "all rough edges and whining." It's exactly this part of Diana to which I most related. Too often, it seems, fictional teenagers are portrayed as far too rational, too moderated, too likeable. Diana isn't like that. She's a small town teenaged girl dealing with some very weighty stuff, and she's doing the best she can, but she screws up. A lot. And not just in the ways typical to fictional teens, like staying out all night and drinking, but in ways that, for me, felt more important. In one early scene, Diana doesn't stop her obnoxious (and again, so recognizable from my own teenhood) friend Amanda from ruining one of her mom's new wigs. The whole feeling of that scene, Diana's helplessness to stop Amanda even though she clearly knows it's not going to end well, made me feel 15 again in a way that was both uncanny and uncomfortable.

The Obvious Game
lets the reader in on just enough of Diana's internal monologue to both feel for her and get frustrated with her. So often, not just kids' literature, but in adult novels as well, looks inside a character's head, particularly when they are repeated or thematic, start to feel forced. The things that Diana thinks, though, skip right past forced and just make a weird kind of sense. For example, there are several points throughout the book where she calms herself by imagining what type of wig the person to whom she is talking might wear, if s/he needed, like Diana's bald-from-chemo mother, to wear a wig. Each time this device is used, it makes you like Diana more, and hurt more for her.

Another strength of the book is the relationship between Diana and her parents, particularly her mother. Again, something that sounds like it could be a YA novel stereotype (the mom with cancer) feels not like a plot device, but like something real. Diana's mom isn't a sickly saint--she cries, she yells, and she's a lousy cook. Even though she's not the book's central character, Rita takes the time with her to make her feel like someone you know--maybe not your mom, but your friend's mom. It's a great characterization.

I also like Diana's friends. Not Amanda, so much, but her "real" friends, who are fairly minor characters in the book but still feel fleshed out. I like that Diana has a relationship with a male friend, Seth, that is believably platonic--you see that so rarely in media about teens, but I remember it happening when I was in high school. I appreciate that it was included, especially as a counterpoint to Diana's relationship with her boyfriend, Jesse, which was the one relationship in the book that didn't really work for me.

The thing that most impresses me about Rita's book is that she takes theme that are so typical to YA novels that they're almost stereotypical--a teenaged girl with an eating disorder, a sick parent, an unequal friendship, first romance/loss of virginity--and makes them feel not like she's writing yet another novel about them, but like she's telling you a real story about a teenager named Diana that happens to include those elements. It doesn't feel preachy, or like you're supposed to be learning a lesson. It doesn't feel like ground that has been covered a million times. It feels like its own, unique story. That's really impressive.

So, obviously, I think this is a book you and/or your teen/preteen daughter should read. And Rita has been kind enough to donate one copy, either in paperback or ebook, to a lucky WINOW reader, so you can! Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite YA novel. For a second entry, tell your social network of choice (Twitter, Facebook, whatever the kids are using these days) about this book and leave another comment. I'll pick a winner on Friday, February 15. GO!

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Target clearance for the home: doing it right

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Recently I was walking through Target, like I do all the time, and I noticed that a) they had some awesome stuff for the home, and b) a lot of that stuff was on clearance. So, I thought I'd show you a few of my favorite pieces:


Target clearance for the home

Pin Jang Turquoise Large Metal Canister Tq
target.com



Great stuff, right? I love the Moroccan influences, the patterns, the colors...I think my favorite pieces are the gray and white ottoman with legs ($70), the wooden accent table ($35) and the large turquoise metal canister ($11), but there isn't an item here I wouldn't love to have in my house. Have you seen anything awesome on clearance lately?

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Thrift Finds, 2/6/13

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A friend recently told me that the posts in which I show you all my thrifted finds are her favorite part of my blog. I was surprised--I always feel self-indulgent blogging about stuff I've thrifted and am afraid it's boring. I guess at the end of the day, though, blogging is a fairly self-indulgent venture all the way around, and at least I know one person likes my thrifted finds posts, so I may as well keep doing them. Besides, telling y'all what I come home with keeps me honest about buying worthless junk!

My last thrift trip had about a $20 price tag, all told. It also had a bit of an aeronautical theme. I bought:



A baby bathtub has been on my list for a few weeks now, but all of the ones I've seen have been kinda skanky. This froggy model, from Safety 1st, looked to be unused! It was, I think, $5.



These two new-in-package acrylic frames are intended for a future craft project, so you'll be seeing them again. They were $.69 each.



These are both new-in-package additions to the big bin of potential gifts I keep around, which has been getting pretty empty lately. The Klutz Build-a-Book kits just tickled me--how cute are they? They were, I think, $1.91 each. The Make-Your-Own-Kaleidoscope kit is also awesome, and was, I think, $2.50. I am considering opening and checking it out, though, as I think I could put together a really cool DIY version, too.



This partial set of Tupperware Toys kids' play dishes is one of my favorite finds in a long while. This isn't the 1979 version I had, but it's the next one out, I believe, from the mid-80s. It's also in perfect shape, and all it is missing to be complete is the cake plate and the pitcher! I can't wait for Buzzy to be old enough to play with these! I believe the set was $1.99.

And then we come to the promised airplanes. I came home with two airplane related purchases, and one of them is another total favorite thrift find.






The top picture is a yard of fabric I got for $2.99, intended for a weekly picture backdrop for Buzzy. It's cute, right? I love how it says "Amerika." The bottom picture, however, is my big score. How much do you love those vintage planes? It's a ROLL OF WALLPAPER. I haven't decided what I am going to do with it yet, other than possibly line Buzzy's dresser drawers, but I adore it. It was $1.91.

And that brings us to the end of this week's installment! See anything you like? Anything you can't believe I bought? What have you thrifted lately?

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Dollar Store Craft Love-In

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Back before Christmas, I made a post about finding cool stocking stuffers at dollar stores (in my case, Dollar Tree). My "research" for that post (i.e. walking around the Dollar Tree near my house) reinvigorated a long-dormant love for the humble dollar store. So I did what anybody would do--I started a Pinterest board for all of the cool dollar store finds/ideas I could collect from around the web. Turns out, I'm not the only one with a bit of a dollar store crush. People all over the web have great ideas for crafts, organization projects, and gifts from dollar stores. There are whole blogs dedicated to it--Dollar Store Crafts, Dollar Store Mom, etc. And yeah, some of the ideas leave me wondering why you'd bother, even with dollar store materials, but others are a little bit genius, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite uses for:

1. Plastic animals

hi sugarplum bookends.jpg

Image via Hi Sugarplum!

Several bloggers made bookends from dollar store plastic animals and acrylic photo frames. Mad in Crafts has instructions, as does the Kansas City Public Library blog. Hi Sugarplum! suggests another version, replacing the frames with stones, and I absolutely adore the red elephant ones she made (shown above). I also really liked the more subdued matte white version on a wooden base at Maddie Grace Interiors.

Curbly editor Chris turns plastic animals into glimmering Christmas ornaments using glitter spray paint. Other Pinterest users point out things that might not be made from dollar store items, but could be emulated with them, including the animals mounted on wooden plaques and used as necklace hangers on Twinkie Chan and the amazing dinosaur topped novelty jars featured on Uncovet.

2. Glassware






Image via Nest of Posies.

Dollar store glassware was probably the most popular item used by blog crafters--there are tons of ideas out there! One Fabulous Mama suggests beautifying clear glass vases, while keeping shiny, by painting them on the inside. Similarly, Nest of Posies makes cool dipped votive holders with simple glass dollar store glasses and paint (shown above). Featured on Dollar Store Crafts, Barb from Craftsty uses glass bowls, and candlesticks to create a display stand. Vintage Gwen combines a dollar store vase and candlestick with small wooden disc and a finial dowel cap to make a cute mini dessert stand. Laura at The Steen Style makes a DIY version of an expensive piece, using glass dollar store vases, bowls, and candlesticks to create stylish apothecary jars. Finally, The Devil's Punchbowl explains how to use simple dollar store glasses to create gorgeous mini terrariums.

3. Ceramics

Image via Craftberry Bush.

Almost as popular as the glassware are the dollar stores ceramics. The baked Sharpie marker mugs suggested at A Beautiful Mess are probably the most popular dollar store craft on Pinterest right now. Lucy at Craftberry Bush turns three ceramic bowls and two glasses vases into an amazing tiered succulent planter (shown above). A Lotta Magazine, they use stainless steel bowls and table legs to create a posh and cheap craft organizer (but ceramic bowls would likely also work).

4. Other cookware


Image via Chickabug Blog.

The rest of the cookware section is not forgotten! On the Chickabug Blog, a dollar store tart pan and candlestick emulate a chic white cake stand (seen above). Carlee at Ladybird Lane has the ingenious idea of turning dollar store pizza pans into magnetic car games for kids. Thermoweb's Melissa does something similar, turning a cookie sheet into a child's magnetic chore chart. In another magnetic craft, Shannon at Madigan Made turns burner covers into magnetic memo boards. At the aptly named Crap I've Made blog, Char makes kitschy cool kitchen art from dollar store frames and silverware. So You Think You're Crafty features a dollar store kitchen towel and a mesh laundry bag turned into a farmer's market tote with produce bags. Nest of Posies tears it up in this category, too, making adorable mini chalkboards from dollar store chargers.

Sometimes, crafting as as easy as seeing how things could be packaged together. Dollar Store Mom Breanna has the great idea of wrapping up a bunch of small scale dollar store utensils (spatula, wooden spoon, strainer, basting brush, etc.) to gift to a cooking-obsessed kid. 

5. Everything else




Image via Dollar Store Crafts.

The creativity found all over the Internet astounds me sometimes. The Dollar Diva turns cheap ceramic figurines, small flower pots, and candle holders into finials. Meg & Andy package dollar store clamps, a flash light, glow sticks, clothespins, and suction cups with revamped twin sheets and cheap rope to create a "Super Hero Fort Kit." Dollar Store Crafts features a Waldorf-style doll made by Carrie of Sew Very Carrie, using all dollar store materials (shown above).

The question, then, is how do-able are these crafts by someone who is...not that crafty? Do the awesome craft bloggers just make it look easy, or are these things a mere mortal could manage? Over the next few weeks, I think I'm going to try a couple of these ideas and report back. I'll also be adding a dollar store craft idea of my own to the mix, for Valentine's Day. Stay tuned, things are gonna get crafty!

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OK, so I have huge love for the blog Young House Love. I can't quite explain why--I'm not personally into home decor, particularly, though I wish I were. But I love their aesthetic and I really enjoy the quality of their blog posts. That said, it fosters a very deep sense of inadequacy in me.

Until now. When I read about the Young House Love (Completely Unofficial) Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge, I was very excited. I may not be a decorator, but I AM a thrifter! 

The rules were pretty simple:

Step #1. Go to a thrift shop with - just as the chorus of the song says - "$20 in your pocket" and take a picture.

Step #2. Spend that $20 any way you'd like and photograph your spoils.

Step #3. Find one item (or more) referenced in the song and snap a pic.

So, of course, I only managed to do #2. I forgot to get cash, so no picture of me holding my $20 bill at the store. I did take a picture of the sign, though, so I get some credit, right?

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I have a general list of stuff I am looking for at the thrift store in my head all the time, but some trips, I am also after specific things. This time, though, I went with the idea that I could buy anything that appealed, so long as it didn't come to more than $20. And I did it!

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So what did I get?

For $3.93, an addition to my wooden animal collection! I'm honestly not 100% sure what it is--a porpoise, maybe?

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