The Ballard Challenge

So like many I know my day is made all the better when the Ballard Catalog shows up in the mailbox. Beautiful rooms, cool accessories and pages and pages of inspiration and crazy enough on occasion I order something!

But more than anything I use the the images as a catalog of potential craft projects and each item is inspected for it's chance to be made in a budget friendly manner which makes both my creative and frugal sides very happy! 

 Call me sick but I think this sort of stuff is so much fun and I thought maybe there were others out there that also feel the crazy siren call of the Ballard Challenge.  If you do please feel free to join up by leaving a comment in the post.

It will work this way, every couple of weeks I will select something from the Ballard Catalog that I think has great potential to be re-created in creative and frugal style. I will post  up  a photo and a completion/show date, usually about 1 week from the start date. I will  put out the contestant call via  Facebook and e-mail. Those who want to play on that round leave a comment and then get to crafting!  You will then post it up on your own blog on the " show date" ( or if you don't have one I will post it up on mine) You will also send me a good photo of your project and a link for my blog so people can visit you and see what you did.. your tips and over all wisdom you have to share. I will also be participating in each round so it's not like I am asking everyone else to do the creative heavy lifting!

Alas there will be no prizes besides the  satisfaction of having made something super for you home at the merest fraction of the cost of the original and we will not be pitting people head to head in a Crafty-Thunderdom style show off ( no matter how fun that would be!)

The Ballard Challenge is about engaging the crafty part of everyone out there and seeing what they can do with a bit of inspiration and determination. It's support, pats on the back and the occasional glue gun burn... want to come play?

The first challenge will be posted up on Friday!

Four Eyes...

So what do you think?... I am totally loving them and better than that I can see what I am stitching!

p.s. notice how much thinner my face is?  I am getting there!

Collective Clothing - My Chattanooga

 As a semi-on going series I am highlighting some of the best places in my sweet little town, Chattanooga TN. I only post the places that I would take you if you showed up on my door step tomorrow and we had a whole day to shop...  I promise only the very best and coolest for you!

 Today  I wanted to let you know about Collective Clothing in the St. Elmo area of Chattanooga.

Collection Clothing is a  jewel of a little shop that is a fantastic urban wonderland of  clothing and retro memories from the fabulous and funky past. This place is a total must visit if you are the sort of gal or guy who swoons over retro records or rocking 1950's prom dresses.

I never fail to be amazed at the selection and the fantastic prices.. just the other day my daughter got the most wonderfully cool hooded jacket for about $10...  I happened to have scored my all time favorite vintage  Garden Gnome set ever there... ( yes, I like gnomes, sue me!)  . I have seen a vintage tux that was to die for not to mention  1950's  collectable plaid shirts, cool skirts and some scarves that I would wrestle you to the floor for!

Sondra and her husband  run the place to care and friendly flair and have a bit of everything, it never fails to enchant me.. ohhhh and have I mentioned the retro jewelry?.. well I won't... it's all mine.. forget I ever mentioned anything!

Live here?.. Live near?.. Go check them out.   Click HERE  for the address and store hours.

Ready to shop??

Pretty Pretty Packages- Marketing Mindset

Wow, sorry about that false start this morning and then the day.. wizzzzzzzzed by  and here we are at 6pm.. crazy!.. anywhooooo I thought we might talk a little about packaging and how effective use of such can really be the thing that takes your product or gift from "meh" to  "wow oh wow"!

Even the smallest of  gifts can be made to feel extra special and perhaps even bigger than  it is with the addition of the right thematic design for the packaging.  This all sounds super fancy but the long and the short of it is that we all like to receive a well and cleverly packaged gift. It sticks in our mind and heart long after the moment we first got it.

With the hysterically wide variety of stamps, scrapbook papers and bags on the market  it is super easy to look creative even if you don't feel you are. (really.. I promise)

Start with theme, in my case I knew that the tool charms were small and I did them in a cute little retro print so I took my cue from the color and pawed through my scrapbook paper and came up with the birds on a dark background print that was quite cheerful and fit the mood of this little bitty gift. I cut the scrapbook paper the size of some small beading bags that I had on hand and attached the charm by cutting a little slit in the paper and anchoring the ribbon in the cut.

So far so cute, but they still needed something more.. and that something was a  bag-topper. Easy enough, take some paper that went well with the primary paper and cut little squares and then fold them into little tent shapes that can folded over the top of the bag and be stapled in place.

Bag toppers are the perfect place to add some wording, logo or in my case some creative inspiration for my sewing class students.

In keeping with my theme I picked a bird stamp to add a bit of beauty to the card and then stamped on the word  "Imagine" since it seemed fitting given that the class I was giving these to was working of learning new techniques to help them move forward with their art.

The cards are held in place with a single staple but two might be in order for a larger bag.  These little favors were a really big hit and made each person feel very special and that is what it is all about!

Marketing Midset Tip - Make sure to include your business card in everything you do. I like using Mini-Moo cards for their novel collectable nature. Also take advantage of the back of your packaging to add an offer, coupon or further contact information by printing it on a sticker and attaching it to the back of the bag!

So what do you think.. does the way something is packaged effect how you feel about it?.. let me know what you think!

and.. if you don't mind... if you enjoyed this post  I would love to keep in contact with you.. by "liking Domestic Anarchy "  on FB you will get each post piping hot and ready to read from your FB page.. how cool it that??

Click HERE to join my FB page... and.. thanks!

Crunch Time

The kids start back to lessons on Monday so this weekend is crunch time to make sure everything is in order for a good start so please excuse the quite this weekend and meet me back here on Monday for what I hope to be a very cool project to share with you!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Meat Ball Casserole, it's what's for Dinner!

I  love to cook for my family, putting a meal on the table that makes them swoon with delight is a special joy for me. But sometimes there are days that are so long, so intense or so wrong that cooking does not seem like a pleasure. Some days just getting something hot, and filling on the table is all you can ask for. 

Obviously not a food photo taken by the Pioneer Woman!

When those days roll around it is great to know that the freezer holds the key to a no-brainer dinner that everyone will enjoy. If you Google MeatBall Casserole you will find a ton of recipes that all look pretty darn good and I am adding mine to that list.  My version is made without pasta since we are doing our best to avoid grains. I am not rabid about this since it is not a dire medical choice and is more about how for as much as I love pasta when I eat it I end up hungry a hour later and that is no help to my waist line!

This meal can even be thrown together in the morning and sit in the fridge and it's easy enough for even a 10 year old to put in the oven!  I like to serve it with bread ( for those who indulge) and a large green salad.

Please note, that as usual this is a fly-by the seat of my pants recipe so please feel free to adjust the amounts to fit your family.

Maddie's MeatBall Casserole

1bag frozen meatballs - beef, turkey, soy, goat...whatever blows your skirt up
1 jar pasta sauce - I buy sugar-free.. who need sugar in pasta sauce???
1 large can small diced tomatoes, fire roasted is even better but harder to find
2 cloves garlic mashed up
cheese of choice, parm, cheddar, provolone..  2-3 big handfuls

In a large baking dish dump the meatballs, one will bounce out... it's for the dog. Sprinkle on the mashed up garlic then pour on the jar of sauce and the diced tomatoes. If you have picky kids sell them.. KIDDING! (kind of).. just mix the the diced bits into the sauce really well to hide the potential of something nutritious  coming their way. {at this point if I am feeling a bit better about things I will also add frozen spinach which I have thawed by screaming at it  to defrost faster in the microwave and then pressed/drained it until it is but a small and lifeless bit of green.. this part is your call}

OK.. balls in pan hehehe, sauce on, tomatoes on, garlic mixed in, possible spinach action going on.. cover the  casserole in foil and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, then pull it out, pull off the the foil, and dump on the cheese and pop it back in the oven for about 10-15 more minutes... then eat up!

My family who usually basks in the world of fancy eating  ask for seconds and thirds of this meal which I think is sort of funny but am  thankful for since on the nights I make it I don't have much more of myself to give to anyone who might want to gritch about what's for dinner... know what I mean??

Vintage Sheet Love

Vintage sheets are a passion of mine and as much as I love them in a pretty stacked pile I love sewing with them even more. So I could not be more thrilled to find a like minded soul and better yet to be re-featured on her blog.

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Pop on over and have a look!   VINTAGE SHEET BLOG

Food for Thought

Are these not the best looking grilled veggies you have ever seen? and yes they were delish!

So last night finds me out on the back deck grilling up veggies and "off the stick kabobs" for dinner and reflecting on how my Paleo/weightloss adventure was going so far. As you can see I have lost about 12 pounds so far and am resting at a stubborn 180 pounds. I can say that while not hyper strict with my Paelo ways that I can tell that when I am more dedicated I do better and when I slip it is a fast flume ride to eating grain based items and sugar like it is going out of style. And while I have not slipped much at all  when I have each time I have learned something new so from that point I am not beating myself up too much about it.

Today was a good example, I had a large meat protein filled breakfast with good oils coming from Avocado and I was not even remotely hungry until almost 2pm. This is where things went wrong, I decided to have some left over pasta salad that was in the fridge for lunch.. very non-Paelo.. and I did enjoy it but within 1.5 hours I was hungry again and found myself back in the kitchen craving sugar and bread, without much thought I found myself eating a piece of bread with butter.. then back again, ..yadda yadda... it was so "old me" that it took some time to catch on and at that point I just locked myself in my office as not to eat more since I was now stomach full but full of cravings.. bad.

I made lots of beef for dinner with tons of veggies.. ate all  could and I am good for the night. ... lesson learned and ready to face another weight loss day!

How is your journey?

It's a Sign....

Ok.. I know... enough with the signs already!..last one.. for now.

This one just tickles me to pieces and reminds me of the think-heavy inspirational advertising that was used in the 1930's. Often ad's were presented as word puzzles or cryptograms or a clever play on words that kept your mind thinking about the ad long after it had passed your eyes. 

With that inspiration I used the image from Karen at Graphics Fairy of the nosey lady with the binoc's and then a created a sort of play on a eye-chart with a slightly mixed up bit of inspiration to make you smile once you figure it out. Sort of a pun on a pun if you will.

The board is about 16 inches tall and 10 wide, it was a thrift shop score that previously lived it's life as one of those weird board style place mats which I never understood. I scored all 6 of them for $1.49. They make great painting surfaces after spray primed.

I had intended this to hang in the bathroom and thought I had a good color match going but after I got it in there it turns out that it is way too green/blue so it will have to find another place to hang it.. such is life.

I get so many questions about how to do this.. I think I might have to do a class!

Have you tried your hand at sign making?  How did it go?

Money On Monday

Money on Monday will be a semi regular feature dedicated to making you feel more powerful and in control of your money.. are you ready??


Coin purse from the Vera Bradley Collection

How much money is in your wallet right now?  Take a guess and then check.. were you close? Even in the ball park?  What about how your money sits in your wallet?  Are the bills in order from smallest to largest as opposed to crumpled up, stuffed or scattered about your purse? If you don't have cash in your wallet why not?

Like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey ( oddly two people who would not care to hang out with each other) I believe that how we treat our money, how we respect it has a lot of do with how we deal with money and how we understand it and manage it.

Getting right with your money first means knowing how much you have an not playing head games about what you "think" you can afford. This can be painful for some and an exciting challenge for others but I highly suggest that everyone ( at least for a while) try to live on a cash only basis for their non-bill expenses.

We have been living cash based for about 4 years now, daily expenses that once meant frequently zipping the debit card through scanner at the checkout now mean pulling cold hard cash from my wallet. Bills are still handled via online pay but groceries, extras, eating out,  are paid in cash.

Every other week on payday I go to the bank and withdraw enough cash for two weeks worth of expenses and that is it.. that is the money we use. At one time I broke this up into further categories and used envelopes and I really encourage this for anyone just getting a grip on their spending.

As a culture we have become disconnected from cash-money in the age of the debit card, but interesting enough the rate of people overdrawing their account  muliplied x4 with the advent of the debit card ... coincidence?..I think not!

Do you feel confident about money or would you like more tips and skills and ticks to get right with it?

p.s. If you enjoyed this post, and I sure hope you did would you be so kind as to take just a small second to click on one of the sharing buttons down at the very  bottom of this post? There are options for Facebook and Twitter and others...  I really appreciate it!

Old Owl Soda

Have you ever heard of Old Owl Soda?.. no?.. well that would be because I just made it up tonight!  Honestly I really need to find some more productive hobbies besides obsessive crafting but when it comes to Halloween I am just helpless!  While some go for the blood dripping gore I tend to like the sweet and sentimental and that is what this project feels like to me.

This sweet sign was inspired by a trip to the thrift where all manner of weird  faux wood plaques can be found for little to no money (  59 cents!). In this case it was a  frankly fake bread board made of MDF with the image of a loaf of bread on it. Less than inspiring imagery but the shape was cute and over all it was in  good shape.

I started off my spraying the faux-board with gray primer which dried in like 2 minutes flat given our 100+ temps today! I then dug through my Halloween images until I found this really great owl who had a strong Halloween vibe and reminded  me of images that were often used in  1930's advertisements. With that inspiration and some half way decent photoshop skills I  added the wording OLD OWL SODA at the top and then made up a silly company name and found the PERFECT image of a lady dressed up as a sexy bat come on.. say it with me.. The Graphics Fairy.  Where Karen even found that image I don't know but she was the perfect mascot for the Batty Lady Soda Company!

I used Elmers Craft Bond to glue the paper to the board. The stuff stinks like crazy but your paper will not ripple when you use it.. and that makes putting on an the image in a smooth manner MUCH easier.   I let that dry for about 30 minutes while I fixed dinner and then sprayed it with a light coat of Gloss Clear Coat to make it easier to distress. ( Sorry no photo, I dropped the multitasking ball on that one)

After the clear coat dried I sanded the edges where the paper met the board. This blends  the two together and gives it a very professional look.

Almost done... time to add a bit of ink destressing to the edges and the surface. With the layer of gloss  already on the  surface it makes it easy to get the ink right where you want it and wipe away any that ends up being too heavy.  I let that dry and then another quick shot of gloss to keep it all protected.

I will probably add an orange or green ribbon to the top and then all I have to do is wait for October 1 to hang it up!

So what do you think???...

Are you crafting anything special for the most fun holiday of all??

Glorious Hapenstance- Front porch Primping

My life is blessed with a wild assortment of wonderful people and one of them called this week to see if I would be interested in the bounty of  floral supplies that she was cleaning out  since she is also starting her Fall house spiff up season ( so there.. I am not crazy!).

Heck yeh..  since I knew for a fact that the stuff would be wonderful because she is one of those people who is tasteful in everything she does ( I am a great friend picker :)  I was not disappointed.. it was a wonderfully huge storage container of beautiful florals and ribbon.

The timing could not have been more perfect, I was able to use a good amount of it to put together some sweet posey bundles for the ladies over at the nursing home and  even have enough left to put together this wonderful Fall theme floral woven market tote for my front door!

I love adding the artichokes in for more texture and interest.

Thank you Anna...  and no you can't have it back :)

I love adding the artichokes in for more texture and interest.

Spiffing The Place Up

It was actually what one might charitably call cool the other morning and  just that little bit of hope was all I needed to feel like swinging into gear to get Anarchy back into shape. You see, opposed to most people who  do the big clean in the Spring to me it is Fall that gets my motor running and ready to get the house back into shape after a long hot Summer. 

There are lots of big projects that need to be done  but time was short yesterday so I settled for redoing a  sad looking tired platter  into this sweet little beauty.

 I am totally crushing on that shade of blue these days so forgive me if it looks a lot bit familiar. I would like to say that I just picked up this little darling and had it redone in a wink but that would be a really big fat lie. It has been sitting around here in a sad state for well over a year.. and if someone said it had been two years I don't think I would call them a liar.

Those familiar with the re-do game are way ahead of me on this one... I took the levels apart by unscrewing the top ring and three the glass parts in the dishwasher (NASTY)..

I then sanded the faux silver sections since at some point they had been exposed to heat or something since the silver paint was all drippy and cracked.. but a quick sanding got it all smooth.

Then ..well what else.. a coat of spray primer.. I will say it again.. Primer is your FRIEND.. it makes spray paint hold on better and gives you a nicer finish.. don't skimp!

After two coats of primer I then sprayed on the blue... you will have to believe me on this one since I totally forgot to take a photo.. but you are creative people I know you can figure it out!

Let the whole mess dry in the shade for a couple of hours ( it was humid) then thread it all back together and basked in the retro swank that was life when you used something like this all the time. On my part I am going to be putting it by the sink for the soaps and sponges... a wee bit of everyday glam to be sure!

So.. what are you sprucing up for Fall???

A Peek Into Anarchy....

I have gotten a few requests to see the inside of the Anarchy Estate so today I thought I would start with a quick shot of the "mother-ship" couch were the puppies hang out and kids flop down to read books. We don't keep a TV in the living room so this is a room for being together or if you are lucky enough, alone to get a nap with a couple of Westies as you pillow companions.

Anarchy is relaxed, colorful and above all comfortable since worrying where you can sit never sat real well with me so it is all up for grabs around here.

My grandmother once said that my  teenage bedroom looked like a gypsy caravan.. and she did not mean that in a nice way.. but today I take it as a compliment and will continue to embrace it as long as it feels good and continues to make me smile.

Does your home make you smile?

Embroidered Napkins- A Practical Starting Spot

This is 3 of 6 that I did last year

 Are you stitching yet?... why not????

Hand embroidery is a wonderfully relaxing and portable hobby that I have long enjoyed so I could not have been more thrilled to see that ever talented Bari J has a wonderful new website dedicated to just that!

Her website is chocked full of videos tutorial and freebies that make learning easy as pie. and don't miss the Cosmo Floss that is really a dream to work with!

My victims of choice when it comes to embroidery are cloth napkins, since when don't you need another set of napkins?.. we go through 7 sets a week so this gives me lots of options when  dreaming up new images to embroider.

Getting started is easy! Not to mention that this is a great hobby to introduce to children.

Need some inspiration? Check out BariJ's Pinterest Inspiration Page for some jaw dropping thread fun!

Currently I am on the hunt for some black, orange or acid green napkins to start a some Halloween Napkins for the month of October.. how fun is that??  

I will also be doing an introduction to stitching class at Stitchology this Fall, so be watching for that!

Stitch Happy!

The Homeschooled Bookshelf- Philosophy For Kids

Me thinks I need to tidy these shelves!

The  best part about being a homeschooler is being able to pick the very best books on the market and create a dynamic learning environment that is just right for each child. Even schools with the very best intentions are hamstrung with national and state regulations about what must be taught, when and how and that is not always the right fit for each child.

 Long held subjects that were once cornerstones of  a quality education are now dusty relics of a bygone day and I can't tell you how sad that makes me. ...Now don't get me wrong.. I did not get one of those wonderful educations.. they were already pretty much gone with the wind by the time I passed through the front doors of my  1970's open concept elementary school filled with ' NEW MATH and Free/Inventive  Spelling ( GAH!- this SO explains my inability to spell myself out of a bag!)

My hope with homeschooling  has to been to craft a free spirited education for my children that embraces the best out there while still being grounded in some classical educational ideals that create fuller more well rounded people!

To that end I give you two great  books/workbooks to introduce Philosophy to your children in an accessible way that will have them asking the deep questions and enjoying the search for the answers.

Feel free to read the reviews of both books for a deeper understanding of what they cover and do check out Prufrock Press  ( love them!) for more  resources for some of the subjects schools have given up on, much to the devastation of the deep thinking public!

Philosophy For Kids

The Examined Life

Button Card Inspiration

Vintage buttons and button cards have long been a tiny little passion of mine, and seeing an adorable button sampler project done by a friend contributed to me dreaming up this one! There is just something so charming about the attention to detail that was paid to even the backer cards for even a simple 4-pack of buttons back in the day. It is something you just do not see today.  With that inspiration I created this small piece of art for my home.

Using a vintage image from Karen at the Grapics Fairy I  went into Photoshop and fussed with it a bit and added a  ficticious name to add a touch a fanciful reality to my project.  I went so far as to add, EST. 1901 under the company name for just a bit more fun.

I then printed it out on a piece of Artist Transfer Paper and  ironed it onto a piece of muslin. I hunted through my buttons for just the right ones and then stitched them on. Of course then I had to go in search of a frame. It was what I like to call a ~Goldilocks project~.. one was "too small", the other "too large".. and let me tell you I had to do some digging to come up with "just right". Or in this case, "just right enough" since begggars who don't want to drive to Hobbly Lobby can't be choosers.

I added a thin piece of batting to the glass for some dimension and then wrapped the muslin around the glass and secured on the back with some double sticky craft tape and put it back in the frame... easy peasy!

And it now lives very happily on my Vintage Typwriter.. I  think they are a happy match!

I printed out a second iron-on... If you would like it add a comment and I will pick a name midweek!