Adding Text to Photos – Without Photoshop

So I’ve had a few people ask me how I add all the text to my photos for Bryson’s photo project. I use Photoshop Elements – which is a scaled down version of Photoshop. I got it on Ebay (new) for around $20 but it has a pretty big learning curve – at least it did for me. It’s not the most user-friendly program and I’ve had to download a bunch of free fonts, actions, and brushes over the years.

I wanted to share a new site I just found called PicMonkey. This site is cool! It has a ton of options and is really user-friendly. I played around with a photo of my son to see if I could come up with a similar look that I had previously achieved in Photoshop.

Here is the photo straight out of the camera
IMG_3214 Here are the two edits
PicMonkey-Photoshop_edited-1Honestly I was a little surprised at how close of an edit I was able to achieve. The tones are a bit different and if I had played with it more I probably could have gotten even closer but I didn’t have a ton of time. I don’t claim to be a great photoshopper, I’ve just learned things here and there and I’m probably doing a lot of things “wrong”. Someday I will take a class, but for now I just look up tutorials online and watch YouTube videos!

PicMonkey is free for a lot of the features but if you want you can pay $33 per year to have the full version. Depending on what you want to do with your photos that may be worth it to you. You can do most simple edits, add fun effect, simple touch ups (blemish remover!!), overlays, textures, frames and add text all using the free online version.

I hope this ends up being a useful tool for some of you! Happy editing!

Freezer Meal Challenge

So I have decided to give myself a challenge! I want to make some freezer meals before the baby comes so I decided it would be kind of fun to see how cheap I can make the meals!

I’ve couponed off and on over the last year or two, so I decided if I plan all the meals I want to make now, then I can try to coupon/watch for sales on the ingredients that I need. This will keep me motivated to watch the sales each week and watch my favorite coupon blogs for the deals!

In addition to making freezer meals I decided I wanted to try a couple new recipes this time around. I do enjoy the ones I normally make but I’m hoping for some variety this time around.

So here are the meals I’m going to shop for:


Ground Beef

  • Taco Meat
  • Lasagna – I may tweak this one a little this time…I’ll let you know how it turns out!
  • Hamburger Patties
  • Meat Loaf/Meat Balls




  • Banana Bread
  • Zucchini Bread

All the bold items are new recipes. My baby is due at the end of May so I decided that it would be good to make some hamburger patties and freeze them ahead and also to marinate some chicken and freeze it. Both of these are super easy but I know Tom will be excited to start grilling again so It will be nice to have them on hand and ready to go!

I’m going to make two or three loafs each of the banana bread and zucchini bread – I’ve gotta make sure this mama eats breakfast every day!

Now onto the planning/tracking spreadsheet…I put together a spreadsheet of all the ingredients I need for the meals. Then I went through my pantry/fridge to figure out what I already have.

Here is what I’m working on….it’s a lot! But I think I can make it happen!!

Meal Planning Spreadsheet

Rustic Paint Stick Light

I’ve been plugging away at all the little projects to make Bryson’s room come together. Today I’m going to share the light I made for his room out of paint sticks. I saw this idea in Pinterest and knew it would work perfect in his room!

While we were at Home Depot picking everything up for the bathroom remodel I asked the paint counter if they sold bulk paint sticks. They told me no, but I could help myself to free paint sticks. I proceeded to explain that I wanted about 50 paint sticks for a project…I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy but they were happy to give me all those paint sticks.

Next up I needed a lamp shade to use as the form for my paint sticks – I ran to Goodwill and found one that was the right size but was ugly camouflage! I put two quick coats of spray paint on so that it would blend in better (I forgot to take picts of this part of the process…fail!!)


  • Lamp Shade
  • 40-50 paint sticks – depending on your lamp shade size…you’ll just have to estimate
  • Stain – I used Minawax Jacobean
  • Tons of hot glue

I stained one paint stick to see if I the color was what I wanted. I started my first paint stick on the seam of the shade to make sure it was covered up.Then just keep gluing them all on. This probably took me 15-20 minutes.

The finished shade – now it was time to stain it.

Make sure you do the staining outside…it has a really strong smell. I just painted it on and the wiped it off with a rag.

Here is the finished product!! It turned our really well and was a super cheap project. It probably cost me about $6-$8. We did have to buy a kit to hang the light, which my husband wired in. That was an additional $15 but you may not need that if you are just making a lamp shade or if you can modify the current light to fit the new shade.

Homemade Eye Make-up Remover

I’m on a money saving kick right now…with the baby coming in 4 short months I know our budget will be tighter then it has been with one child. I figure all the little money saving things will add up!  I’ve see pins all over Pinterest about making your own laundry soap, dish soap, cleaning products and eye make-up remover so last night I tried one! I’ve been wanting some eye make up remover so I found a tutorial and whipped a batch up. The most amazing part was I already had all the ingredients at home!

This recipe is for a 4 ounce bottle. I had a bigger bottle so I doubled it.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. baby oil (any brand)
  • 1 Tbsp. “tear free” baby shampoo (any brand as long as it’s “tear free”)

Mix all three ingredients together and pour into your bottle and your done! I used a travel shampoo bottle but you could also reuse a bottle from your previous eye make up remover or any other bottle you have around the house.

What I love is that it doesn’t burn my eyes, and it’s not greasy at all!

Make sure you shake the bottle slightly before you use it because the oil and water will separate.

Coat Closet Makeover

One of the latest trends for small houses seems to be turning a closet into an office space. I decided I wanted to turn our coat closet into my sewing nook. Originally I was going to do this in our spare room but then I decided I wouldn’t be able to use it as much when we have another kid. Also I didn’t want to be suck in the spare room all the time. Our coat closet is right in between our living room and dining room so I can still feel like I’m part of what’s going on while I work on my projects.

Last summer I found a wall mounted Ikea folding table at a garage sale for $5 and I knew it would make the perfect desk. Here is a breakdown of my supplies:

  • Ikea Wall Mounted folding table  – $5
  • Paint- Free (left at our house by the previous owner)
  • Extra Shelf – $10
  • Storage bins – $5
  • Chair – Free (already had)
  • Magnetic Knife Rack from Ikea – $9
  • Magnetic Storage Containers from Ikea – $5

Total Cost = $34!!

Here is the before picture(mostly Tom’s stuff)

We relocated the coats and shoes to our closet and the spare room closet and here is what it looks like now.

I painted it a bright sunny yellow so that the room would be cheerful! I didn’t want it to be dark since it’s such a small space.

I ran an extension cord from our dining room to get power to the closet. It works great!
Next closet makeover I’m going to tackle…the furnace closet. It has become a dumping ground for household items – light bulbs, vacuum, steam mop, dining table leaf, plunger, tool belt, tool kit. I have plans for it this weekend.

It started last night with patching this hole…not sure why it’s there but I’m pretty sure it’s easy access for spiders…eeeww!!

Habitat Restore

A couple of weeks ago I went to Habitat Restore and Earthwise with my friend Lisa.  Her and her husband are closing on first home in a couple of weeks and plan to update the house with only used items – she NEEDS to blog about this!! Anyways back to Habitat – I’ve been hearing a lot about Habitat Restore on different blogs so it was awesome to finally get to go.

The best way to describe these kind of stores is sort of a thrift store for home goods. They have salvage stuff, donated stuff, vintage stuff, and some new stuff at discounted prices. Here are a few pictures from Habitat Restore

Sorry for the crappy cell phone pictures – I forgot my camera!!

Ton and tons of doors, interior and exterior

Cabinets – all different sizes and colors

Cabinet doors – $5.00 – drawer fronts – $2.50!!

Ton’s of appliances – new and used – this was a brand new cook top for $250 originally $500

Check out this awesome vintage stove!! Only $150 and in perfect shape!!

A couple of tips – you need to know what you’re looking for and be prepared to dig. Bring a measuring tape…you’ll probably need it!

I got a new interior door and some basic white tiles for $0.10 a piece!! I’m  planning to make some of these for Christmas gifts.

Here are links to the stores in the Seattle area

Habitat Restore – Seattle
Earthwise Salvage– Seattle
Restore – Ballard

Happy Hunting!