Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life as . . . Economist : by LeAnne Flora

I’m a budgeter. Some say, cheap! I say, frugal, thrifty, a creative spender, wise steward... call it what you will, I know how to stretch a buck! I believe strongly in living within your means, in other words, not spending more than you make. With rare exceptions, if I don’t have it, I don’t spend it. (Now, here is where I add, I do NOT claim to have all of my family finances perfectly planned out and designated for the future, retirement already lined up, income property, or have the children’s full college accounts safely stashed away.) I’m talking about day to day life, paycheck to paycheck, paying the bills all the while keeping the family dressed and fed. I am one of those crazy moms that keeps little envelopes full of cash with a different category pencilled on to each one. I coupon groupon, barter, offer, repurpose, refinish, do-it-myself, garage sale, and thrift. Yes, I thrift. It’s by far my favorite thing to do. Recently, I have had a couple acquaintances show utter SHOCK to know that we live on a very tightly run budget. In addition, with the exception of about half of my husband’s professional wardrobe, we are all clothed in almost completely clearance items, thrift store, and garage sale finds... and so is our home. I don’t pay full price for anything if I can avoid it. If you want to try and just don’t know how, I’d encourage you to just go for it.

Here are a few of my tips:

1: Keep An Open Mind - When it comes to home decor, look past the color and original purpose, and focus on the shape and design. Brainstorm about new ways it could function or serve a purpose.

2: Don’t Rush - Garage sales and thrift stores both take patience. Don’t be afraid to dig to the bottom of a big bin or long rack of items to find a gem.

3: Just Chill - Talk yourself out of being grossed out (even my formerly anti-thrift husband can handle thrift finds now). Remind yourself that ALMOST everything can be washed, cleaned sterilized, and sanitized. If it can’t be, I don’t buy it.

4: Go For It - Don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something you have not done before - most often a good thrift find, can be made a piece of your dreams. Even if you have not done a remodel, repurpose, or make-over before, if your investment is minor, you have little to lose. Besides, if it’s a total flop, you can just start over and try again.

5: Make An Offer - this is one that LOTS of people are intimidated by or embarrassed to do. Make an offer... yes, at a garage sale; yes, at a thrift store; yes, even on something brand new from your local retail store. I cannot tell you how often I ask to buy a “floor model” of something at a retail store and get a percentage off. INCLUDING my entire family room furniture from a major furniture chain... oh, yes, I did. Really, what’s the worst that can happen, they’ll say no?? It’s worth the risk.

6: Don’t Give Up - If you have something specific in mind, keep hunting. It’ll pay off with persistence.

7: Ask Questions - Know the special days, color sales, or tag sales of all the different thrift sotres as well as delivery/clearance days of retail stroes.

8: Do the Research - Know your prices. Occassionally, a thrift store or garage sale will mark a used or worn item higher than what the clearance or sale price would be at a retail store brand new.

9: Work It - Never underestimate the power of spray paint and elbow grease.

10: Focus - Don’t over-buy... sometimes, it is easy to get carried away buying things just because it is “a good deal” even if you have no need or purpose for it. I’ve come home with this excuse lots. Oops. Very easy to do... make wise choices.

11: HAVE FUN!!!

Enjoy looking at some of my very favorite pieces in my own life. (No pictures of my kids’ clothes... it’s one of my all-time favorite things to buy. But they were in bed asleep so I couldn’t rummage the closets...:( My kids are dressed in LOTS of amazing clothes that we otherwise could not dress them in. ($$$).) LOVE my thrifting!!

Took my inspiration from a $180 table I had seen at a discount store. Knew I could do it. This was an ugly, beat-up, $12 flat-topped coffee table thrift store find. I saw beautiful potential in it. I sanded it, distressed it, stained it, found & attached all the letters & numbers that were significant to us, had Hubby attach some “walls” around it for glass support & found a glass slab at a garage sale for $5, had it cut at a local store ($10) and voila... My coffee table = my favorite peice in my whole house.

My mantle. Repurpose window that I was hanging onto (much to Hubby’s dismay) from when we had our old windows replaced. Favorite cozy corner thrift store milk-jar-holding-thingy, mason jars, old school books from my dad, old vase and cheeseboard glued together and sprayed black for a great display piece, and a heart-shaped rock from a favorite camping trip gifted to me by one of my precious children.

A few of my own personal favorite things. ALL thrift store or garage sale finds. (It seems I have a love relationship with trench coats.) However, not even a slight indication fot eh obsession I have with vintage jewelry (and yes, girls, that IS a tiara) and handbags. These two bags here are my faves. One gifted from my sweet sister fro my bday and the other, just a lucky find in perfect condition.

Great cabinet perfect for the space outside of my TINY master bathroom. ($12) I planned on it holding ugly stuff - curling irons, hairdryer, extra hand creams, hair product, etc. Glass doors would never do. Shape , color, and size = perfect. I had some burlap fabric that I hot-glued to the inside of the glass windows for covering up all the uglies!

A couple finds worth mentioning... no, I do not roller derby, but found these at a local thrift store and knew right away, they were something valuable. So, I snapped tham up for $5. Called my brother-in-law who knows what’s happening on the roller derby circuit. Let’s just say, these will be finding their way to a certain online auction site selling for $100 or more. WOOP WOOP! The bowls, on the other hand, are a personal collection of mine. I LOVE vintage mixing bowls. this is my coveted set. They are over 40 years old, and in amazing condition. They auction online  for anywhere from $130-$180. I searched patiently and persistently for over 2 years and pieced this set together one lucky thrift find at a time, finally completing it last summer. My cost? $16. And, in case you’re wondering, NO, these will not be sold. ;)

So, overlook the birthday party... this is another fave in my home. Inspired by my friend’s home, I was determined to have an oversized chalkboard in my home somewhere. So, I was on the hunt... found a gigantic empty frame at a thrift store that was rather ugly ($7) found a tint-able stain (because I did not want a solid painted look for this) and went to town. I stained it and not so patiently, let it dry (who knew stain took SO LONG to dry) had the hubby cut a piece of wall panelling to size, chalkboard painted it and attached it. Aside from my less-than-beautiful handwriting, I LOVE this piece. I use it for everything from handwriting assignments, to grocery lists, to inspirational sayings and scripture for the family.

Go give it a whirl! If I can do it, anyone can! For real!!

I am LeAnne, better known as Aunt LeeZ.  I am a full time Jesus follower, wife, stay-at-home-mom, and homeschool teacher to my own 'fantastic four'.  I run two small businesses out of my home and also work alongside my hubby as his photography assistant, bookkeeper, scheduler, and personal chef. : )    I love to dance, craft, "redo" old stuff, and all things creative. I dance in grocery store aisles, sing in the shower (& louder in the car), laugh out loud, and wear my 'heart on my sleeve'. I try to see the positive in everything and be an encouragement to others. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Style{in} Skirts : Work-Out Edition

From (very limited) experience, I have found that working out is way more motivating when 1) you're in a good groove of doing it regularly, and/or 2) you feel like you look good. Walking with confidence is a key to success in almost every area of life. This confidence cannot come completely from appearance, but that is a part of it.

So when I got a Y membership, one of my first challenges was finding things to wear that were practical and modest. I also knew that going out in a old, baggy t-shirt and sweatpants multiple times a weak was not going to be appealing to me. If I was going to have a night out, I should at least look presentable.

Shirt (a fave): TJMaxx (less than $10)
Skirt: Target (forever ago)
(Top) Pants: TJMaxx (less than $15)
(Bottom) Biker Shorts: WalMart
The skirt I got from Target a couple of years ago, and wore for soccer games. It was probably $15-20, but I've worn it an unbelievable amount of times. Things like this are easy to miss because typically you don't look for soccer clothes at Target. With these types of things, keep your eyes open, and be creative!

 Shirt: Old Navy (forever ago)
Skirt: Target (same as the gray one)
Pants: TJMaxx
Jacket: Patagonia (the only thing that wasn't cheap...but I totally puffy-heart it)
 Shirt: Had for forever
(Left) Skort: TJMaxx
(Right) Skirt: Thrifted

It's been fun to try different combinations of what I already have, along with treating myself to some actual work out gear (like the blue shirt, and the black pants). The biggest challenges are 1) lightweight skirts with enough mobility/flexibility, and 2) shirts that aren't too tight/revealing (but that's nothing new). Also, a gal's best friends (besides some awesome sports braziers) are biker shorts and capri leggings.

It's also a good thing to think ahead to what you are doing... like, when I'm going to yoga class, I should obviously wear something different that what I'd wear to cycling.


(p.s., in case you were wondering, no, I haven't had time to work out in CO... but I've missed it so much! This post was, indeed, a draft I wrote beforehand... is that cheating? Maybe, but it's pretty practical for this situation!)
(p.s.s., see how well my boot rack is working? yeah... not the cleanest my room has ever been... this is why I have only ever posted one "organization" post. haha!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Painting with Light : By Rob Flora

Here’s a fun thing to try the next time you have a few friends over.  

Stuff you will need:

A camera with a manual setting mode, 
a tripod, 
glow sticks or colored plastic cups, 
and a few friends! 

First and foremost you need a tripod (a table or trashcan will do in a pinch) to make sure your picture doesn’t get blurry.  
Most cameras have a manual mode on them (take a look at your owners manual.. its the booklet that came with your camera that you’ve probably never looked at) you will need to set the aperture to F7 or so the iso to around 400 and the shutter speed to 20 seconds or more.  There is no exact science to this but these settings are a good place to start.  

Plan out your shot!

You will only have the time allowed by your camera’s shutter to create your image.  Use the flashlight to paint light on your subject (an external camera flash, if you have one, works the best) then use the glow sticks or flashlights with plastic cups over them to paint in different effects in your shot.  You could also try using sparklers for some fun added light.  So be creative and have fun!

Here are a few images I created this year on a camping trip.  Enjoy!


I'm Rob, Casey's favorite uncle. I am a devoted Christian, husband to my bride of 15 years, father & school principal to four brilliant homeschoolers. Following my full time job at home with my family, I am a 9-5er computer network engineer, but my love is photography. I shoot as much and as often as I can as a part-time side business with hopes of, one day, making it a full time reality.

P.S. You can see more of my uncle's AWESOME photography at Check it out!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Colorado Week 2

Another quick look at what my week's been like :)

Saturday morning breakfast picnic:

Awesome breakfast:

Weird breakfast:

More scarves:

New Bible!!
Crazy sunrises...

 And crazy sunsets.

 Early morning prayer times

Sick days (a.k.a: forced relaxation:p

Learning how to use a laundromat all by myself (I felt so grown-up and college-kid-ish)

Finally some more CO snow!!
Me, Janae (from Canada) Anna (one of my roommates) & Kelly (from GA:)
And FINALLY some of my pictures came! 


Hope ya'll's week was a good one, and that your weekend is fantastic!!
Be back on Monday. :)

Love, Casey

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Style{in} Skirts : By Faith Flick

Hey y'all! Remember me?;))))
I'm Faith and I blog over at A Walk by Faith:)
Sooooo, I was asked by dearest Casey to do a fashion post for her lovely blog.
I was excited but also kind of nervous. What outfit should I do? It of course had to be adorable;) 
I wasn't really sure what to do, so it took me quite a few days to think this one out.
But, I'm really glad that I got this opportunity to share with y'all and thank you so much Case for giving me this opportunity!:)

We get so caught up on what the world calls beauty.
And, on what other people will think of us.
What is beauty? What is TRUE beauty?
It really depends on your perspective.
We could choose to define beauty by what the world says:
Big puffy lips, flawless skin, hips, really skinny, and tall.
Or we could choose to listen to what God says about beauty.
True beauty, comes from the inside.
A woman who follows God, loves Him and obeys Him, is kind, compassionate, and caring is much more beautiful than the typical Hollywood gal.
 Now, she may not be real physically beautiful but Jesus SHINES through her.
She radiates Him and that makes her beautiful.
Her heart makes her beautiful.
I've been trying to spend more time with Jesus.
To help me be more like Him, and that when people look at me, they will see Him.
That I will radiate Him.
That He will shine through me.

Now, of course I've had those days where I just look in the mirror and think "I'm not beautiful".
But God says, "Yes Your ARE, my daughter".

He is constantly calling you, "Come to me, my daughter".
And we can either choose to run to Him and become close to Him, or walk away.
I've chosen to run to God. To spend more time with Him and to seek His face.
He is our Father, our Heavenly Father, and He loves us more than anyone on this earth could.
As I've been seeking Him, I've also found that I'm more confident in myself.
I'm more comfortable being myself, the woman God made me.
He's blessed me and shown me so much, I'm just sooooo blown away by His power, never-ending love, and forgiveness.
He is everything.
He is wonderful.
He is the Almighty.
I try to honor God with all of my choices.
Especially with my clothing choices.
But, being modest AND cute is really hard, at least for me. 
This is one of my favorite outfits (because it kind of puts both of those into one outfit:) 

My hair in a bun and some high heels add some sophistication and makes this outfit more formal.
I can also dress it down a bit by adding a cardigan, scarf, and flats:)
The skirt and tights were both Christmas presents, and were picked out by my dear mother:)
(She knows my taste so well;)

I like the color of the skirt because it's not to bright, and actually is a pink that looks good "on" or "with" my skin tone:)
I LOVE the color of the tights, and the way they look. They add some more color to the outfit and also look real good with the color of the skirt.

 Some more shots:
I've never been real good at making scarfs look good, but this is an attempt;)
My straight/intense face;)

So, just to recap:
Shirt: From my bestie.
Cardigan: Thrifted or swapped.
Skirt: Target.
Tights: Nordstrom.
High-High Heels: From a friend.
Flats: Urban Outfitters.
Scarf: From a friend.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30 

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
1 Peter 3:3-4 


Love, Faith