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I started a business over Christmas. Accidentally. That’s the only way I know how to describe what happened.

Mitch and Katie Cloth2

A few years ago, I made a tablecloth for my dining table using a canvas drop cloth and some Sharpie markers. I found the inspiration on Pinterest when I pinned some kid-decorated drop cloth curtains. I’ve made these table cloths as gifts for family members and friends over the years. Why? Because I’m always on a budget. And I like to doodle. Every time I made one, my friends would encourage me to start a business.

And I would shrug them off.

“It’s canvas drop cloth and Sharpie markers. That’s not a business.”

“I’m not a salesperson.”

“Why would anyone pay me to make one of these? It doesn’t cost much to make one.”

I would roll my eyes at the absurdity of starting a business with something so … silly.

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Back in November, my friend Jami called to ask if I might be able to make something using my hand lettering as gifts for two of our mentors, Yvonne and Menielle. Jami and I had just finished taking Yvonne and Menielle’s Bible class, and Jami wanted to give them a special gift at our last class.

Jami said, “Maybe a throw pillow with one of the verses from class on it?” I said, “I could make them tablecloths. It wouldn’t take me that long.” Jami gasped, “Seriously?! You could make TWO of them?! Over the weekend?” I replied, “It really doesn’t take me that long. It’s not a big deal.”

She texted back later, “Seriously, You are so awesome. I know this sounds odd, but I was just saying the other day that Kelly has the most awesome handwriting. This is so your gift – giving thoughtful gifts!”

When I read her text, I rolled my eyes. Jami exaggerates. This is really not that big of a deal.

I worked on the tablecloths over the weekend and wrapped them up before our last Bible class. When Yvonne and Menielle opened their gifts, they both teared up. They hugged and cried with us. They both sent me a thank you note, telling me how much the tablecloths meant to them. Yvonne showed everyone in her neighborhood, her bridge club, and even made her landscaper (I know!) come inside to look at her new tablecloth.

I started to see that maybe my little tablecloths weren’t so silly. They were meaningful. And I needed to stop short-changing my talents.

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Then, in December, I made a table runner for a Christmas Gift Exchange party. I needed to bring a $10 gift. My van was in the shop, and I didn’t have time to go shopping once Tyler came home from work. So, I took some canvas drop cloth, hemmed it with heat bonding, and hand lettered Christmas song lyrics onto it. Voila! A gift that didn’t cost me a cent and fits in at a Christmas party.

During the gift exchange, my runner was “stolen” three times. Tugging was involved. And name calling. Good Christian women were fighting over something I made.

After the party, I had several friends request a runner of their own. They were all so complimentary, and I would say, “Guys! This didn’t cost me anything! I made it because I couldn’t go shopping.” To which my friends would reply, “Kelly! This is amazing! I write like a serial killer! You could make $100 a piece off of these.”

Reluctantly, at the encouragement of my closest friends, I posted a couple of pictures on Facebook with some price quotes, and within a couple of weeks, I had 14 orders with the promise of more to come. As I started making and delivering these tablecloths and runners, I began to see how this silly little talent of mine was actually a gift to others.

Friends Runner

When I delivered a runner to one of my dearest friends, she cried as she touched each of the names of her children and grandchildren. She read over each passage of scripture, choking back tears. We hugged and cried together. My friend Jami asked me to make another tablecloth for her grandparents full of treasured memories from all of her cousins, and Jami texted me pictures of her family hugging and crying over each memory.

Through this process, I’ve remembered something I say all the time to my kids:

Words are Powerful.

They are. And this little tablecloth business of mine with my hobby doodlings and imperfect seams has turned into meaningful gifts for my friends and family. And I’m no longer saying, “It’s just some fabric and Sharpie markers.”

If you would like to order something from me, please contact me through this link.

Our August at a glance: August in our home means birthdays (my oldest and my husband, plus a cousin and a brother-in-law), anniversaries (our 12th this year. Go us!), summer band, and back to school for everyone. (You can follow me on Instagram here.)

I’m joining up with Leigh Kramer and friends to talk about What I’m Into in August.

Books

Attachments: A Novel: Funny. Interesting premise. I could be friends with two of the main characters.

Fangirl: I liked this one (mostly), but not as much as Attachments or Eleanor & Park.

The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel: The story of a painting originating in Northern France in WWI and its journey. Fascinating. I’m quickly becoming a Jojo Moyes fangirl.

The Invention of Wings: With Notes (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 3): I loved the narrative voices in this novel, and I loved the imagery: “The sun looked like a little white button stitched tight to the sky.” Isn’t that lovely? I enjoyed the setting of the 1840s, the beginnings of Abolition and the hints of Women’s Rights for our nation – all tied together in this novel.

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 2): Graphic. Disturbing. A little gross. I couldn’t put it down. I love Cormoran Strike (and Robin!).

Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel: An interesting novel about a woman, waning in her career as a professional photographer, getting a new start in a small town.

Mary Poppins: Very different from the movie, but still enchanting and fun for my kids.

Beezus and Ramona (Ramona Quimby Book 1): My boys and I have decided that their sister is exactly like Ramona.

Treasure Island: We listened to this on audio. More on that in a minute.

Music

I should just re-categorize this as Spotify. It’s pretty much my sole source of music (Follow me here).

Vienna Teng: I love this album. My husband introduced me to her through the song “The Hymn of Acxiom.” It was the ballad for one of the top DCI shows this year. (Drum Corp International. It’s like Nascar or March Madness for band nerds.) I’m embedding a video where Teng explains her composition process for this song:

And here’s a link of the Bluecoats playing this ballad in their DCI show “Tilt.” I started it at the ballad, but watch the whole show. It’s great. (Amateur video. The official video isn’t available.)

Jim Weiss on Spotify! Jim Weiss is on Spotify! I learned about this from The Art of Simple Podcast. I can get an extra 15 to 20 minutes of read aloud time for my kids WITHOUT HAVING TO READ ALOUD. Entire books are available along with folk tales, short stories, as well as history and Shakespeare for kids.

Kid Grooves: The most requested playlist in our home.

Podcasts

I’ve been walking in the mornings, and I love listening to podcasts. I ran out of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Back Logs, and I’m all caught up with The Art of Simple. I need some new ones.

Television and Movies

Arrow (interesting but has “roll my eyes” moments), Last Comic Standing (Really like the judges and format. Watch the Best 100 jokes episode to see if you’d like it.), The Amazing Spiderman II (needed some better plot arcs, good overall), The Muppets Most Wanted (I’m glad we waited for RedBox), How to Train Your Dragon II (excellent!)

Come see what everyone else is into at LeighKramer.com, and share your current favorites in the comments!

This post features affiliate links. Thanks for supporting KellyWiggains.com.

David’s Veins

June 30, 2014

“Look at his veins.”

My husband whispered to me.

“Seriously, you can see his veins.

Michelangelo, David, 1501-04 

Tyler and I stood dumbstruck in the Accademia, the museum in Florence, Italy, housing Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. From just about everyone, we knew to take the time to visit him. David impresses everyone. He’s not cliché. He’s not touristy. You can see his veins.

For those who don’t know the background, Michelangelo accepted the commission to create a sculpture for the top of the Duomo, Florence’s iconic domed church. With a slab of marble other artists had rejected (many saw it as too flawed, too big, too much), Michelangelo created the definitive symbol of a Renaissance Man.

As my husband and I listened to an audio guide on our iPhones, David stood in all of his glory – all 17 feet of him, with nothing more than a few rocks and a sling and the power of God dwelling in his perfectly chiseled body, ready to face down a giant. He’s relaxed, composed, a little wary, but poised for battle.

My husband and I walked in slow circles, over and over, taking in every detail of David. I marveled at his muscles, his composure, the features of his face. And then, I would remind myself – he’s not actually human. Of course he’s marble and stone, but he’s so incredibly human that he tricks you. I mean, you can see his veins.

The hall leading up to David’s special cathedral features unfinished sculptures created by Michelangelo. These sculptures, for whatever reason, remained unfinished by the master and left for other projects. Roughly cut, the bumpy chisel marks still visible, art historians named them The Prisoners because the sculptures stay captive in their block marble holding cells. Looking at The Prisoners and then looking at David in his polished nakedness, it’s easy to see Vasari, a friend and contemporary, saying Michelangelo’s subjects emerged from the marble like a person emerging from a pool of water. It’s quite breathtaking.

Michelangelo worked in a fever. He would chisel away for hours on end until his prisoner trapped in marble would emerge. He didn’t sketch something out beforehand or use a model. He didn’t go back to add on embellishments. He saw the art and released it.

Too often, I look at the ideas of others, and they seem so polished and beautiful. My own ideas feel locked, held back by imperfections, by lack of inspiration, huge barrier blocks holding onto my ideas, not releasing them. In comparison, my work is amateur and insignificant.

And yet.

I don’t see behind-the-scenes. I don’t see the consistent hard word that comes along with the polished, the beautiful, the inspired. The every day hacking away, slicing off the rough patches and edges, cutting to the heart of the matter.

Before I can get to the veins, I have to do this work, and I can’t wait around for the perfect slab of marble to create it.

It’s no secret that I’m a Lazy Housekeeper. However, I’m trying some new simple systems at home. I can get things done without wasting brain power or using up my time for writing, reading, and playing with the kids. I will never like to clean, but I can be responsible by caring a little more. Anyway, today I’m sharing my laundry system. This is not glamorous, and it doesn’t involve color-coding or using a cute chart or even chalkboard paint. But, this simple laundry system gets the clothes cleaned and put away.

simple laundry system

Step 1: Clothes belong in a drawer or a basket.

That’s my new house rule. Clean ones? Drawer. Dirty ones? Basket. This rule eliminates my original laundry step of “gathering all the clothes into one huge pile in the hall and ponder the likelihood of my impending death by suffocation if the pile ever topples.”

Step 2: Each family member gets a basket.

Towels get thrown in as needed or their own load, depending on the messiness of the past few days. I wash clothes by the basket (or person), not by color or fabric type. I wash everything on warm, and it all gets clean. This step removes sorting, both before and after washing and drying, which is like two whole steps! Steps removed so far? 3

Step 3: Wash your own clothes.

I give my husband a pass because he’s gone most of the day, and I help out my three-year-old. My boys (7 and 6) are pretty much on their own, and they like it (What six-year-old doesn’t like control? Answer: No six-year-old.) The boys gather their baskets. Add the soap. Hit the buttons. Move wet clothes to the dryer. Empty the dryer and put away. I’m losing track of the steps I’m eliminating just by getting the boys to do all of this themselves.

Step 4: Once the clothes are dry, you put them away.

This “life-changing” rule is for me. Before this system, I would let clothes just live in baskets until I finally got annoyed enough to put them away. Somehow, looking at two baskets of clothes to fold seems less daunting (see step 3). Plus, I’ve eliminated all of those other steps, so I can celebrate my efficiency!

Step 5: Folding is optional.

List of things I no longer fold (it’s grown over the years): underwear, kids’ clothes, cleaning rags, kitchen towels, most pajamas, athletic shorts. So, if you’re keeping up, I match socks, fold shirts and pants, and bathroom towels. If you’ve wanted a way out of folding everything, consider this permission. Live life on the edge! Stop folding things! (If the idea of unfolded clothing bothers you, I’m betting you don’t need much advice in the cleaning or laundry department.)

Questions:

What about fabric dies bleeding or whites getting dingy?

What can I say? Sometimes, you gotta roll the dice. Honestly, I haven’t had any issues with this. If your whites are getting dingy, take a special day to group them all together for a bleach fest once in a while. To me, having socks stay together is more important than the occasional dingy white or rogue red shirt bleeder.

Aren’t you wasting water and energy running the washer with smaller loads?

Maybe. But this saves my own personal energy as well as my time and sanity. Also, we are not a “wear it once, then wash it” sort of family. So, that should balance out some of the energy-saving issues.

How often do you do laundry?

The kids and I need to wash clothes once a week. My husband needs laundry done twice a week, and I usually do an extra load of towels during the week, too.

Do you have a laundry system? Or, better yet, do you have a simple cleaning/organizing solution?

I like to save as much time as possible cleaning because then I can justify reading on the couch. Have a great weekend everyone!

Photo Credit: IvanClow via Compfight cc

Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit

I’ve talked about the Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit before, and it’s only a few weeks away! But, if you register for the Summit TODAY, December 31, you could win a free registration. Two lucky moms will win back the cost of registration in a drawing.

Here is my friend Connie talking about the highlight of the Summit:

In case you need more persuading, check out these posts from friends who attended the Summit last year:

Lisa Pennington from The Pennington Point

Brandy Ferguson from The Marathon Mom

And here is my post about the 10 Reasons You Need to Attend.

So, what more do you need to know? This is the perfect retreat for any homeschooling mom, and January is the perfect time in the year for refreshment and encouragement.

I hope to see you there!

Homeschooling During the Christmas Season

Christmas Season is in full swing, and for my little homeschool, I am trying to stay on track with a semblance of a routine. When I am in charge of our school calendar, I can easily become one of the children, “Who needs school? Let’s make cookies!” Then, I can swing the other way when I start contemplating the cost of college tuition and become a complete Grinch, “NO CHRISTMAS!! READ LATIN!! ALL DAY!!”

Read the rest over at The Marathon Mom here.


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Favado

Just released last week, Favado is a new comprehensive grocery shopping and savings app, and you can download it to your iPhone or Android for FREE.

Though I’m not a coupon blogger, nor do I pretend to be one on television, I want to give a shout out to Favado. We are all about saving money around here, and I’m even more excited about saving money without having to work extra hard tracking down deals (I am, after all, a lazy housekeeper.)

What is Favado?

Favado does all of the work for you, finding the best deals in more than 65,000 grocery stores and drugstores across the nation. Favado combines coupon data with in-store promotions to offer the best deals, which saves you the time and hassle of doing the leg work yourself. The app also features planning tools as well as access to secret deals not listed anywhere else.


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How Do I Get Favado on My Phone?

1. Get a Favado account. Sign up for one here. (You will need this account to log in to the app.)

2. Then, go to your iTunes or Android store and download the Favado app for FREE!

3. Log in to the app, and you can start saving money right away! How cool is that? You will choose your favorite deals and then email yourself a list. You can print off your coupons and list and head to the store (and the bank – cha-ching!)

Favado Features

From the Favado website:

  • Compare prices: Favado features sales information for your favorite grocery,drug, and big box chain stores that touch every corner of the country. Easily compare prices on specific items or categories across multiple stores at once.
  • Easy organization: Save the sales you want to your list, organized by store. Email the list to yourself and access opportunities for additional savings.
  • Top deals: Favado partners with the nation’s top money-saving bloggers who provide additional regional sales data. These experts pick their favorite “top deals” for the week to help shoppers save even more.
  • Personalized sales: Most people buy the same items week to week. Save favorite products and brands to the “Faves” list to see stores offering sales on preferred items.
  • Notifications: Hate missing a new sale? We’ll send notifications of new sales for stores you select.
  • Coupon matching: Ever bought something to realize later there was a coupon for it? Stacking grocery coupons on top of sales is the secret weapon for a lot of shoppers. Favado lets shoppers know when additional savings are available and where to find them to get the best possible price. Extra savings examples include: ecoupons, newspaper inserts, even mail-in-rebate offers.

I love saving money at the grocery store, but I easily get burned out shopping several stores or trying to track all of the latest deals. This little app does the leg work for me. Now, I just have to go to the store, wrangle three children, unload groceries, and cook dinner! So much easier (sigh).

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting KellyWiggains.com

Enjoying the Fall

Happy October, Dear Readers! My kids and I celebrated October 1st yesterday by buying a big fat pumpkin to put on the porch, and then we gutted a little pie pumpkin so we could roast some seeds. Yum. Fall is easily my favorite season.

I usually make a list of things I want to do in the fall, but I also want to keep things low-key – not getting bogged down in the frenzy of activity just for experience’s sake. You know what I mean? I don’t decorate the house from top to bottom. I don’t create every ghost, jack-o-lantern, candy corn confection I come across, and I don’t attend every hay ride/pumpkin patch/cookout/football game/carnival available either.

Trick or Treat

*My daughter last year. I gave her a mini-Twix and she perked right up.

Here’s how I found a happy medium:

Crafts

I pull all of our fall crafts straight from Pinterest. Feel free to follow my board for inspiration. I usually spend a few dollars on some felt and a couple of other things at the Dollar Tree. Otherwise, I use things we already have at home to create a festive, crafty element in our school day.

Fun Eats

At some point, I’m going to get the ingredients for “Baby Ruth in a Bowl.” It’s a super fun treat for fall, and it cannot be more simple. Bag of candy corn. Bag of chocolate chips. Jar of peanuts. Mix. Put in a Jar. Instant Fall Snack! I’m also into pumpkin-izing all of our favorite foods: pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, and we love to roast pumpkin seeds in the oven. I’m planning on mixing up a huge batch of homemade hot chocolate mix, too.

Big Tex

*My family posing with Big Tex, the day before his unfortunate incineration.

Activities

Of course we hit the obligatory pumpkin patch. Go check out Pumpkin Patches and More to find one in your area. My husband gets free tickets to the Texas State Fair every year, so we try to find a day to go. We always make several trips to our local park, and we can spend hours there playing, finding pine cones and feathers for our nature jar. Towards the end of the month, we will head to a fall festival, so the kids can dress up and stock up on candy.

Decorations

You don’t have to be super creative to create a sense of fall in your home. I cover one of our side sofa tables with an autumn-themed table cloth, set out some cute pumpkins and a decorative plate. Last year, I hot glued some ribbon to pine cones (from the park) and hung them on the door. Our home was festive and fun with the few decorations along with all of our crafts.

How are you going to enjoy fall this year?

Toddler&PreschoolActivities

 

Do you need ideas for entertaining your toddler or preschooler during homeschool activities?

I’m over at The Marathon Mom today, where I made a lengthy list of easy and frugal ways to keep those toddlers busy!

Easy and Fun math games

 

I’m over at The Marathon Mom today talking about easy math games to play when the summer heat zaps all of our energy. Got some fun learning games to share? Come on over and leave a comment!