Emerald Creek Garnet Area (Clarkia, Idaho)

Alright, so I have family in Northern Idaho and my family and I have made several trips. I think we’ve been there a few Christmas’s and at least two summers. The two times I have been there in the summer we have drove to Clarkia, Idaho to the Emerald Creek Garnet Area and have not been disappointed.

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For $10 an adult can purchase a permit to dig “star garnets.” These particular garnets have only been found in two locations in the world. At this location in Idaho and in India.

So you park down near the river in the parking lot and “hike” up to the site.

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It’s about a quarter mile, slightly up hill, but beautiful. When you reach the site you stop at the ranger shack and purchase your permit prior to digging. Here at the shack they will show you examples of what you are looking for and talk you through the entire process. They are very friendly and knowledgable.

What they have done is pulled the sand and silt from the river up to the site and everything is done up here to prevent damage to the river from individuals “mining.” So you grab a bucket or two and head to the digging area.

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It really is just a big pile of dirt and you are welcome to dig where ever you desire. You then carry your bucket(s) to the shifting area. Please keep in mind I have only done this twice in my life and do not know if I am utilizing the proper terminology.

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So here you dump your bucket into a wire mesh box (sluice box) and shake vigorously. This process assists in removing small rocks and sand/silt. It makes utilizing the sluice easier as there will be less dirt to remove from your rocks.  You then carry your bucket(s) to the sluice and proceed to shift the remaining dirt off.

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When we were there in the summer months this was a hot and dirty process. The water is pumped into the sluice at the top and gravity flows down the sluice and the hill. So ideally you would like to be the individual at the top of the sluice so that you have the clearest water, but usually it’s so busy out there that you just take what you can get.

What you are looking for is:

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The above are raw garnets as found at Emerald Creek Garnet Area. I have four ziplock bags of them now and I have yet to take any of them to the jeweler to be cut or made into jewelry. My husband and I have talked about it for a couple years, but have been unable to find anyone in Wisconsin that we trust to cut and polish the stones. I know it’s a weak excuse, but all in due time.

If you ever get the opportunity and are near Coeur D’Alene, Idaho I strongly suggest that you make the short trip to the Emerald Creek Garnet Area. I don’t think it’s possible to go there and not find at least one garnet.

**So my absolute favorite part about heading to this area! There is a little creek just below the parking lot with the clearest coldest water. It’s amazing! It’s not the water that I’m fascinated with but rather the purple garnet sand that covers the bottom of the river. The last time I was there I took a baggie full which I have displayed in a vase in my bathroom. It’s a beautiful reminder of the full trips our family has had at this location. I have several pictures of the sand in the river, but have been unable to locate them. As soon as I locate them I will be sure to update this blog.

You know what? I think I will also take a few of the garnets in to be inspected, cut and turned into something or other and I will update with this information as well.

Princess Chandelier

Upon moving into our new house I told my five year old that she could decorate however she liked. She has gone through and remained in a “Princess” phase for quite sometime now. Her and I were looking through room ideas on Pinterest and this is what she decided she wanted…


Alright, definitely not something I would have chose, but I want to make this move a positive experience so I agree. First things first, she wants a chandelier. Alright, this seems like a reasonable request so I start looking.

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Um, yeah pretty sure that’s not going to happen. I cannot believe how much a silly princess chandelier goes for! I then start looking locally as there are a few shops around the area that might have what I am in need of. That turns up to be just as expensive. So again being thrifty and frugal I start researching and looking into making my own chandelier.

My daughter’s and I take a quick trip to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and are pleasantly surprised. They have a lot of different orphaned chandeliers ranging from $15-$35 dollars. Now, this is my price range. She picks out:


It’s really ugly right?! I text this picture to my husband, telling him we have found exactly what we are looking for. He immediately calls me and tries to talk me out of the purchase, but is too late. We have paid our $20 and are happily on our way.

Kind of a funny side note: so I purchase this chandelier and then remove all the glass and set it back on the counter and tell the cashier that I would like to donate it back to the store. The cashier looked at me like I was absolutely crazy, but accepts my donation. My husband opens the trunk of the car when we get home and inquires as to where the glass globes went. I tell him the story and I’m pretty sure he is mad at me. These people just don’t understand that I have a vision and I don’t need those pieces.

Anyway, our purchase sits in the garage for about two months before we finally get around to it. I had purchased an off white spray paint and some items to “decorate” the chandelier. I still needed to order the battery operated candles, but I’ll get there I tell myself.

One Saturday afternoon I head out to the shed to paint the chandelier, but my plan is quickly shut down….see a few years back I purchased some used folding chairs at the local thrift store. I then proceeded to sand them down and repaint them at the end of our drive-way apron on a somewhat windy day. My actions resulted in a film of spray paint being deposited on both mine and my husband’s vehicles windshields that needed to be removed with a razor blade. Another time I set out to spray paint something or other on a piece of cardboard out in our yard. I had a bit of an over spray that resulted in some dead grass. No big deal you would think right?!? Well, that’s where you are wrong. My husband spent hours on our yard and spent considerable time mowing a diamond into it. Therefore, my killing of the grass didn’t go over well. I figured the third time is the charm right? Yeah, we’ll never know for he and my daughter painted the chandelier alone, without me.

We allowed the paint to dry a for about a week before bringing the piece into the house to hang and decorate. In the meantime I found the perfect lights to add to the chandelier.

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I mean seriously, they have a remote! What child would not want this in their room. I didn’t realize it at the time, but these particular “candles” have various flicker speeds and options, as well as, a setting to not flicker. My daughter thinks it’s the greatest thing ever and I look good, everybody wins.

My husband assisted in hanging the chandelier and I decorated. I think that for about $50 we did an amazing job, but I’ll let you be the judge.


It’s simple, elegant, exactly what she thought she needed and cost me next to nothing to make. This is my kind of craft. In fact this craft has inspired me to start looking at high end furniture and decorating websites and find ways to remake their products for a fraction of the price. It really feels good to turn something out that looks as good, if not better than the original product. However, I’ll have to save some of those projects for another day.

Let’s make a T-shirt

If you read my post about making Valentine’s Day cards with my daughter I had mentioned that while she personalized them that I worked on other projects……what I really meant to say is I had purchased iron on vinyl and made them customized Valentine’s Day shirts.

This was my first attempt and in hindsight I probably would have choose to make the arrows a bit thicker as it was difficult to work with them being on the “skinny side.

This project did not take me very long and received many compliments from others. Also, the shirts have held up well. My 5 year old wears this shirt on occasion and it has gone through both the washer and dryer and is still interacted over a year later!


Shortly after making these our family began our relocation journey. Again, not having a lot of space in our “cabin” I was forced to leave my circuit in Oshkosh. Therefore, the past year I really have not had the time or pleasure to make other holiday items such as this. However, now that we are all unpacked and settled all bets are off! I will be posting many other fun homemade items in the months ahead!

Homemade Valentine’s Cards

I know that valentine’s aren’t expensive, but my daughter really enjoys doing crafts. Her Pre-K class was having a Valentine’s day party and she wanted to make them something. I suggested making cards and personalizing them for each of her friends. Just a little side note: at age 4 my daughter enjoyed writing words for fun. This was a perfect combination for her to practice her words, make a fun craft and knock out her Valentine’s all at once. Boom! Oh and she like to use stampers, but who doesn’t?!

Anyway, again together we looked at the Cricut store for card ideas.

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There are a lot of different options, but we settled on the Tyrannosaurus Rex and set to work.


Just cutting out the designs took a couple evenings, but we again set to work after her sister had gone to bed. It was relaxing and fun to just hang out and talk.


While she put the final touches on her cards I worked on other projects. I did have to help with the glue as the front of the card had a small border around the edge that was just too difficult for her to do on her own. This wasn’t too big of a problem as we are a pretty good team.

Let it Go….

As I have mentioned I have a 5 year old girl. As with most 5 year olds she went through the Disney “Frozen” phase. It’s just now winding down and I have heard rumor that there is going to be a Frozen 2 coming out, shoot me now!

Anyway, as a way to spend quality time with her we occasionally pick out a craft that she’s interested in and make it together. Since she was obsessed with Frozen and was at the time a new big sister we thought it would be nice to make a “poster” of sorts for her bedroom.

As I have mentioned before the Cricut image store is amazing. You don’t need to purchase expensive cartridges that you many never use again. You simply search for what you are looking for.

Below is the home screen for the circuit store. As you can see they offer a number of project ideas to get you going and assist you in your journey. As I have also mentioned it’s highly addictive as they have a number of great ideas that are reasonably priced. All you need are the time and materials required. You can choose to purchase images as needed or for a $9.99 monthly subscription gain access to thousands of images. One word of warning would be the monthly subscription will not gain you access to all of the images you may want.

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So, in doing a search for the particular design we choose it would appear that Cricut has changed their offerings. About a year ago when we completed this project I could purchase individual images for about $1.99 each. Now they have them bundled into a a $14.99 package. I don’t think we would have done this project if this had been the case at the time. Anyway, there are other options I’m sure.

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My daughter decided on a photo and I found a quote off the internet about sisters. The two of us worked together on this a few nights after her baby sister at the time went to bed. I find doing crafts with number one to be fun, she has a great personality and a fun sense of humor.


Some of the detail on this particular cut were a little difficult for a small child, heck even her 30 year old mom struggled some. However, it was a fun memory. Here is the final project:



I think it turned out pretty good. I have not previously cut out letters. I didn’t take any photos as I had not started blogging at this time, but I utilized contact paper. I stuck it directly to my cutting mat, programmed my machine for what I needed the words to say and cut them. I then stuck the contact paper to the canvas and we spray painted over the top. We allowed the spray paint to fully dry overnight and then slowly peeled the contact paper off to reveal the message.

The image of Elsa and Anna is simply glued together with Elmer’s glue and then glued directly to the canvas. It has been on her wall going on a year and shows no sign of fading or peeling. Not too bad for a few dollars and a couple fun filled hours.

Woodland Creatures via Cricut Explore

So about a year ago my husband and the girl’s purchased me a Cricut Explore for Mother’s Day. Which, happened to be the perfect gift as I had pretty much wanted one my entire life!

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I have really had to curb the amount of time I spend on working on decorating and projects with the girl’s as I need to focus on school for another 25 days or so. I say this because I have somewhat of a addictive personality. For instance, if I allowed myself I could find projects to do with this machine for weeks. Seeing that I don’t have that kind of time or money really, I have to limit myself.

Anyway, a few weeks ago my husband nonchalantly mentioned that I have yet to decorate the nursery. Huh, he was right, but I have had a few other projects going seeing that we just moved in. I had already picked up a crib set that had Woodland creatures on it so I had a theme in mind. I set out to do some looking online to see what my options were. I don’t know about you, but I can not justify spending the amount of money retailers want for anything that has the word baby or nursery in the title. I found some really cute things, but decided I would wait. Then I remembered, I have a Cricut and I haven’t used it since moving into the new house!

So I ordered the vinyl birch trees for the wall because I don’t have the time, patience or knowledge to do these on my own right now and honestly for $20 it was a good investment. Then I ran out to Hobby Lobby and got some paper as I knew I did not have enough in stock at home. I knew I could get the animal designs I desired from the Cricut image store, but how to display them?

I did some more research and found that I really liked the ones on canvas. Having previously been an art major I have a lot of items in stock in my craft room, but I also have an intimate relationship with Hobby Lobby, haha! So I picked up a few packages of blank painting canvas.


It was another Friday night, the girl’s had gone to bed for the night, the husband was out in the shed getting stuff ready to duck hunt with his buddy in the early morning and I was waiting for the new paint to dry in the living room, but not exactly tired yet. I pulled out all the supplies and set to work. In a matter of hours I had what I needed.


They actually turned out better than I had anticipated!

The next morning after hanging them I decided that I needed more as there was still something missing from the nursery. So the girl’s and I returned to the store to retrieve more supplies for a fun filled afternoon.



In total I made 8 woodland creatures. Besides the ones photoed I made a buck to match the little doe. I find this both relaxing and therapeutic. I enjoy making things for my children and saving money. I realize the unit itself is an investment, but for the number of things you can do with it, it was well worth it.

I will work to get some more of the project’s I have done with the Cricut up. Prior to owning my machine I had never used one. I had done plenty of reading about them and looking at project’s on Pinterest. Like I said I was a previous art major and would consider myself pretty crafty so this item was right up my alley and fits well in my tool kit 😉

2015 doTerra Holiday Gift Giving Guide

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Good Morning 🙂

So I literally just realized that Christmas is 30 days away. I’m really struggling to accept this as just a few weeks ago it was 80 degrees outside and my family and I were out in the yard raking leaves, but that was mid-November.

Anyway, I decided that I need to do some holiday shopping for loved ones and stumbled across the 2015 Holiday Gift Giving Guide. I think it has some great starting points if you have a loved one that is interested in embarking on an essential oil journey. I did notice that the dryer ball set is sold out. However, I have previously blogged about utilizing dryer balls and they can be purchased elsewhere.

I was also thinking about the Giving Guide and thought there are some nice smaller kits available that I could give some of my girlfriends to get them started and join me on my crazy train! Whatever you decide to do, remember it’s not about the gifts or food, but about the loved ones you choose to surround yourself with.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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Selling on eBay.

So I have this obsession with purchasing and reselling items on eBay. I just am so fascinated by what people are willing to spend on various used items. I think at this point it’s actually an endorphin rush for me, no lie. I can’t get enough. I have been doing it for a little over five years now.

While we were in the process of relocating and renting the “cabin” this summer I had to close and then cut back on my store for awhile. This was depressing for me as I really enjoy listing, shipping and answering questions on various items. However, we just did not have the room to store the listed items.

After being in our new home a little over two months I am slowly starting to build my store up. It’s going to take a long time to get back to where I was, but challenge accepted. Since we have decided we are done having children I started listed the girls clothes. This isn’t so fascinating for me and kind of boring. I thought I would have a hard time listing these items, but it’s turned out to be easier than I thought.

So what started this entire obsession? I think it was 2011 I wanted a pair of UGG boots for my birthday, but just couldn’t justify spending the money. I started looking online and found some on eBay. Having never been a frequent user of the site I was apprehensive. The first pair I purchased there was an issue with and eBay removed the listing and gave me a full return. The second pair turned out to be the real deal. I got an amazing, gently used item for a fraction of the price.

While thrift shopping on my lunch break one day I literally “stumble” upon a jacket with what appeared to be a real fur collar. I took the coat into the fitting room and proceeded to Google the article. It turned out to be a $900 jacket, for sale at the thrift store for $10. That was ridiculous. Having just used eBay to purchase my boots, I had an idea.

I purchased the jacket and listed my first item in the Fall of 2011 (it was similar to the photo below). I set the price to $200 and waited. It didn’t take long, a couple weeks, and I had a buyer! I was beside myself. I had literally just made $190 for doing next to nothing. I was instantly hooked.

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My selling habits have prevented me from taking numerous items to the thrift store and donating them. It’s not all bad, but I do find that I need quite a bit of space to house all of my inventory. I’m not sure this is something that I will do forever, but for the time being it’s an enjoyable hobby of sorts.

If you ever have questions on how to list, ship or use eBay please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’ve learned quite a bit over the years and would enjoy sharing with you. I enjoy it so much I am starting a new section on my blog dedicated to helping individuals that are interested in selling. I know there are probably a million other blogs like that out there, but there’s only one me and I’m awesome. Hahah, not really, but I’m going to do it anyway.

**Note: I listed a few ugly Christmas sweaters this morning and needed to send the link to them to a family friend. I don’t usually view my store from a buyers perspective (not logged in) and was pleasantly surprised to see that I have 11 followers. I guess it threw me off guard as I wasn’t really expecting any followers. I have been particularly blessed as of lately and for that I thank you for reading/following the things I do.

If you are interested in checking out my store go to:


Happy Bidding!

Homemade Reusable Napkins, Paper Towel and Say it isn’t so Toilet Paper?



So for the past six years my family and I have been using reusable napkins. On top of being reusable they are also homemade. My sister-in-law gave us the original set with the “B” on our wedding in 2010 and then I asked for a second set one Christmas so there would be enough to last the week with our growing family.


They really aren’t anything fancy. Pretty much unbleached muslin with a design stitched on. I am surprised at how well they wash up and how long they have lasted. Yeah there’s a few stains, the one has purple marker or something on it, but that’s fine. I can’t even begin to imagine how much money these have saved our family over the years.

After taking these photos I have determined that I need to gather material and make a few new ones as they are a little more dingy than I thought. This will have to be another, in my spare time projects, haha!

Something that I was looking at prior to our relocation was reusable paper towels. They are pretty sweet, it’s pretty much the same concept except they have snaps on them and then roll up on this plastic tube. They still sit on the holder like a normal paper towel, but you can wash them. I think now that things are pretty much back to normal this is something I need to purchase.

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I just did a quick Google search to pull the photo above and was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices have significantly dropped since I started considering them. Price was the main reason that I had originally held off. It was one of those items that I wasn’t really sure if I was ready to give up yet, ya know?

The other frivolous item that I can’t seem to give up is a kleenex. I don’t know about you, but a hanky just seems really gross to me. My husband uses them profusely, but there’s just something (to me) about sticking my nose in a soiled linen and blowing it again?! I don’t call me strange. Also, I really appreciated the lotion in the kleenex. The few times I year that I get sick I get really sick and end up going through a lot of kleenex. I’m not really sure that I have the time or patience to wash a hanky?

Things could always change I suppose.

Don’t worry, I haven’t considered reusable toilet paper yet 😉 Hahaha, boy that would be an interesting topic to broach with the husband….

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However, again doing a quick Google search. (Man what did we do before Google?) Anyway, after doing a quick search there is such a thing. I had better stick a spare roll of toilet paper in my car because if I ever roll up to a friends house and see this……I’m sorry I’m not really sure I can come over anymore as this is a bit much, even for me.

Absolutely Ultimate Potato Soup

I’ve been known to be a bit of a soup hound in the fall. I don’t really enjoy making the same soup time and time again. I like to mix up the rotation. This recipe is amazing and super easy. It’s also well liked by the entire family which makes meal time even better. The last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is fight with my 5 year old to eat her dinner.

I’m not entirely sure this recipe is low in calories due to all the bacon and bacon grease, but I figure you only live once. However, once is enough, if done right.

Ultimate Potato Soup