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Tips To Get Your Priorities In Order Now So You Can Hit The Ground Running In The New Year

I used to hate New Years because it would bring a sense of dread that I didn’t accomplish anything, that the “deadline” was fast approaching and I had nothing to show for it, that life was moving on without me. I got sick of feeling that way so I made changes and I want to share them with you. Use the following 14 steps to get your thoughts and actions in order before the new year so that you can hit the ground running towards your goals on January first.

1.Declutter/Organize – Just do it! Purge your clothes closet, dump out the junk drawer and use dollar store organizers to put everything back in, clean that nasty microwave, and either finally list that dang pile of items you don’t use anymore on Facebook Marketplace or give them to the nearest thrift store. Oh, and the trash hiding in the nooks and crannies in your car HAS. TO. GO.

2. One Hour of small tasks – Not only should you declutter your home, but you should declutter that mental to-do list you’ve been conjuring up all year. I recommend making a list of the clutter and then designating one hour, once a week, to cross off as many items as you can until you’ve completed it. These things look like – change that lightbulb on the front porch that has been out for six months, finally start the journal you’ve been thinking about, or call your grandparents.

3. Plan healthy meals – I know that this task looms over most peoples’ heads. Here’s the deal… Eating healthy will help your physical health, your mental health, your energy levels, and your bank account. Use my Meal Planner & Grocery List planner page to help you get started planning healthy meals. This small step alone will make a big difference in starting out the new year right.

4. Be intentional about your actions – This upcoming year is YOUR year. It’s the year you will make strides towards your goals and the year that you will become the person that you want to be. How will this happen? Every single decision you make, adds up to the bigger picture. Make the decision to smile at every coworker you pass in the hallway because it’s important to you to be thoughtful and kind. Make the decision to only say “yes” to the choices that get you one step closer to the vision of the future. It’s the small things that count.

5. Define your goals – But wait! You can’t make the appropriate strides if you don’t know the direction you’re headed. Have a talk with yourself and decide just what your goals are. This includes career goals, and personal goals.

P.S. “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they are’t big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

6. Get familiar with yourself – … so you can make adjustments where needed. There is an importance with tracking your moods day-to-day throughout the month to be able to recognize any possible trends. I think you know what to do next. All I am going to say is that a negative mindset will reflect into your relationships and productivity.

7. Choose one thing you want to learn and make time to do so – Hey, you. This is your life, and only your life. So, that instrument you’ve always wanted to learn… learn it. That online course for watercolor lettering… take it. That class on beekeeping down on at the vocational college on Wednesday evenings… sign up for it. It’s time to invest in yourself, whether that be with money or time or both.

8. Buy that item that you’ve been dwelling on that would improve your life and help you reach your goals – This tip can go hand-in-hand with the previous tip or you can take it as a permission slip to upgrade your website builder or your daily pair of shoes. In this new year you are moving up in the world.

9. Get familiar with your spending – Like tip six, this one requires some self-reflection. Use my Spending Tracker to get your card-swiping under control.

10. Recognize the areas in your finances that need fixed – for those areas that you spend too much, consider withdrawing an allotted amount of cash at the beginning of the month and sticking to it. Here is a Budget Worksheet to help.

11. Write out your required expenses, Pour all left over into a small savings fund – Here’s another money tip for you because getting control over your finances is just as daunting, but important as planning healthy meals. Build up a savings account reserved for emergencies and emergencies only.

12. After you’ve got $1000 in the bank, pour all left over into paying off debt – Okay, one more, I promise. Make a plan to payoff your debt at an expedited rate. Plus, you have your emergency fund to use so that you don’t have to go into debt again if something comes up. Check out this Debt Payoff Planner.

13. Choose the ONE thing a day that you are grateful for and choose wisely – After a while, you will find yourself seeking out things to be grateful for all day long and if you stick to one item a day then you’ll be continuously finding new things that top the last one. Commit to giving it a try for the rest of the year. I think you’ll be hooked.

14. Reflect on your year – Reminisce on five ways you grew, four ways you intend to grow in the new year, three highlight events, two things you didn’t get around to doing but you will schedule to do this year, and one thing you love about yourself and intend to make your most identifiable trait.

I hope these 14 tips help you make this new year the best one yet. Or least give you something to think about. Happy Holidays!


CHECK OUT THE HOLIDAY SALES PAGE TO SEE WHAT DEALS YOU CAN SNAG THIS MONTH!

DIY Windmill Decor

Hey everyone. I just wanted to share how I made this windmill decor because I love the way it turned out and it was so easy!

                A little back-story… Earlier this year my husband and I set out to make ourselves a little garden out of as many recycled materials as possible. A work friend gave us some old and rusty roofing tin that was so perfect for the job. The last touch I added to the garden was the sign above the entrance that read “Martin Family Farm, Welcome to the Garden” with a chicken and a windmill decal that I cut out of vinyl with my Cricut. I love that thing.

                I liked the rustic, farmhouse look of the garden, and I liked the windmill decal, and I had an empty space on the wall in our short-term rental home. It was one of those “The stars just aligned” scenarios.

                I made a fan blade-shaped stencil out of printer paper and traced it onto the scrapes of tin with a Sharpie. My husband let me use his neutral-direction metal shears to cut out the shapes. Four blisters, two puncture wounds, and one tetanus scare later, I had 12 blades and two tail pieces in front of me. I just eye-balled the shape of the tail pieces.

                A month or so prior, our neighbor asked if we could use a massive metal spool of sorts for scrap metal and my husband can’t turn down anything free… He cut off the round end piece and let me use it for the windmill. I cut a slit into each blade and fit them all evenly around the circle. Then I attached the tail pieces to the frame with handy wire.

                If I remember correctly, I took a break around this time to wrap my wounds and get a cold beer to hold against my aching hands. See! I’m getting double uses out of all sorts of materials today! #goinggreen

                Lastly, I used a hammer and nail to make a hole in the middle of the narrow ends of the blades. Then I laced handy wire through the holes and when I made it back around to the first blade, I twisted the ends of the wire together and tucked the twist out of sight.

                Boom! I had myself a damn good-looking piece of art, straight from the farm, to fill the empty space on the wall.

                We hung it up high, out of reach of children and with a shit ton 3-inch screws because the sharp edges would be like a guillotine if it fell onto an unsuspecting person or pet. We can’t have that!

As you can see we still have a few items to cross off our to-do list: crown molding above pantry, paint touch-up above the stairs, dry wall.

Thanks for reading. I hope it has inspired you to build something beautiful with recycled materials. Share your ideas below!

One last thing! Should I write a post about building the garden?

Tea Party/Bridal Shower Tea Bag Invitation – Alice In Wonderland

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Earlier this year my sister-in-law asked me to make invitations for her upcoming bridal shower. I made the invitations for my wedding and I was beginning my dive into surface pattern design at the time, so it was perfect timing for this challenge. She told me I had free creative reign over the invitations, but I still poked for some criteria to follow. What she came up with was that the bridal shower would be tea party themed… Alice in Wonderland (AIW) tea party, and the colors were red and black.

If you’ve Googled it before then you know that Etsy, and Pinterest and every other creative platform is riddled with AIW themed invitations and graphics and playing cards and more. However, it was all too bold, or for a baby shower, or stereotypical. NO! I was envisioning elegant, mature, and unique. I know that those are not the typical words used to describe AIW, but I was determined. I dream big!

I did about a month of research and brainstorming then set out to make it happen. After trial and error and many, many trips to every craft store in town, my vision came to life.

Below I share the files I created with you for FREE and all you must do is print and assemble them and then of course share this post with everyone you know!

Alice In Wonderland Tea Bag Bridal Shower Invitation

Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

MATERIALS:

  • –          Cardstock
  • –          4”x6” unlined index cards
  • –          Twine (or similar material)
  • –          Printable Vellum paper
  • –          Loose leaf tea – flavor of choice
  • –          Charms
  • –          Printer
  • –          Stapler
  • –          Paperclips
  • –          Word Editing Software (Microsoft Word is best)
  • –          (Optional) software such as Adobe Illustrator or GIMP
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DOWNLOADS:

INSTRUCTIONS:

DRINK ME/TEA TAG: I started by printing a “drink me” tag and a tea info tag, one on either side of a single piece of cardstock. To do so, print one document, then place the cardstock back into the printer, printed side up (adjust if your print feeds differently) and print the second document. REMEMBER TO PERSONALIZE THE “TEA INFO TAG” WITH INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TEA IF YOU BOUGHT A DIFFERENT TYPE THAN I DID. I recommend cutting loosely around the shape and then cleaning up the edges in case they don’t perfectly line up. As you can see, mine was off a bit but I chose to not reprint them. Cut all those puppies out and then put some band-aids on your scissor blisters.

Take this opportunity to cut 6” long pieces of twine, tie a knot in one end, and staple it to the tag you just created.

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PLAYING CARD/RECIPE CARD: I created the recipe side of these cards. However, I purchased the digital file of the playing cards here. This is the one file I cannot supply you with because they are not mine to give but I encourage you to purchase them for yourself. If you do, open the files into software such as Adobe Illustrator or GIMP, ungroup the individual cards and resize them to 4”x6”. You will have to tweak your printing process to make the recipe graphic and the playing card graphic align perfectly on both sides of the card. Instead of cardstock this time, I printed them on 4”x6” unlined notecards from Staples, and then just rounded the corners as they came out of the printer. It was a time-saver and looked professional with the straight edges.

                If you don’t want to purchase these playing cards, or if resizing them seems too difficult then I think the recipe card alone is just fine!

     Print the instructions, cut them into squares, and paperclip them to the recipe cards. Fair warning: you still won’t get all of the recipe cards back (so much for a full deck of 52)! But, this instruction card helps with that.

Halfway there!

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INVITATION TEABAG: REMEMBER TO PERSONALIZE YOUR INVITATION TO FIT THE BRIDAL SHOWER OR EVENT YOU ARE HOSTING. The actual invitation is printed on 8.5”x11” vellum and then folded into a “teabag.” NOTE: make sure to fold it to appropriate size to fit into your envelope. In my case, the envelopes were 5”x7” so I folded the vellum to 4.75” x 6.75”. The easiest way to do that was to use the grid on my cutting mat as a folding surface. I purchased this vellum paper at Hobby Lobby. I used double-sided tape to close the overlapping ends. Then folded it over and used one staple to close the bottom end. I tapered the top two corners and folded down the top to create the tea bag look. 

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Almost Done! Now to fill the tea bag with tea! I poured about a couple big spoonfuls of Tiesta Blueberry Wild Child loose leaf tea into each bag. This stuff smells amazing! I folded the top back over. I slipped a key charm onto the twine and stapled it onto both sides of the top of the teabag, and then pulled the twine tight to the staple. I chose small, vintage-y key charms from Hobby Lobby, but a variety of other charms would also work. Again, I was going for a subtle AIW look. 

charms

Lastly, print the names and addresses on the back of the envelopes (mine were silver and 5”x7” from Staples). REMEMBER TO PERSONALIZE THE ENVELOPE DOWNLOAD BEFORE PRINTING. Hand-writing the names and address would work just fine too. Finally, slide a recipe card and a giant teabag into each envelope and DONE!

I got so many compliments on these. I’d love to hear about your experience making them below! P.S. I don’t make a commission off any of the products I mentioned above.

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Farmhouse-Style Window Frame Picture Frame

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Is that title a mouthful, or what?! Follow along to see how I created this country/farm-style work of art!

 About a month ago my husband and I came across a whole bedroom set and a couch at a yard sale. It was exactly what we had been looking for to furnish our short-term rental house; modern, can be disassembled, yet inexpensive. We really scored with this bundle!

We get home and begin hauling everything up the stairs to the apartment above our shop. This space was a messy construction zone for a year and a half, so it was truly a shock when we got the couch reassembled and freshly laundered covers put on. Our view of the place completely transformed. We took off our shoes for the first time up there and sprawled on the couch in amazement!

                Now it was officially time to decorate the place and ideas had been floating around my mind for a while now. The first project I tackled was this vintage, window-framed barn college.

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window frame

Our wedding was just over a year ago, and I know it’s hard to believe but I DIYed and thrifted the entire event. Another yard sale find that I got at the time were two white, dirty, flaking paint, window frames for $50 bucks total… I realize now that I $50 seems like a lot for these but NO REGRETS… I wasn’t able to find a picture of the frames when I picked them up, but they didn’t change much from the pictures you see below except for the glass wasn’t shiny and there were a lot of webs across them.

At the wedding we used them for signs and enjoyed the rustic vibes they gave (see above). After the wedding I decluttered as much as I could and found myself faced with these windows and the ideas started flowing. The first project was this hinge-lid coffee table that still needs painted. Color ideas? We just toss all of our travel tickets and memorabilia under the glass and it effortlessly creates something interesting for guests to look at. It wasn’t until many months later, when the apartment started to come together, that I pulled the second window out of storage and cleaned the glass. 

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I am obsessed with old barns and there were several photographs on my Instagram of the old barns that I came across as I began traveling Montana for a living. These photos were all taken as a drive-by photoshoot; driving with my knee and holding my phone out the window, while snapping as many pictures as possible in two seconds. It’s also worth mentioning that my phone is one of those extremely outdated, free-gift-when-you-sign-up-for-a-phone-plan, off brand phones with a horrible camera. 

To make matters worse, I no longer had the originals on my phone and had no idea when the next time I would get to drive by these barns again to stop and get a quality photo with my camera. So, through trial an error I ended up pulling my Instagram up on my laptop and used the Snipping Tool to save the pictures on to my computer. I used Photoshop to change the photo from 50-some dpi to 300 dpi. I applied a grey-scale filter and a little bit of “noise” to complete the vintage look. Then I was able to order 8”x10” prints from Walmart. I chose 8”x10” because each windoszpane measure 9 1/2”x15” and I thought that would leave just enough of a glass border around the photos.

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barn1

                That day I learned that my Walmart photo center becomes overwhelmed and goes out of commission during tourist season every summer. I ended up waiting a few days for the photos to be ready but once I got them the art piece came together quickly. After using a Clorox wipe to freshen up the frame one more time, I just used very small pieces of extra clear office tape to tack the corner of each picture to the middle of each windoszpane. 

The last step to completing this piece was to add these brackets to the back. I know that this is frame is heavy and should be anchored into the studs. In this house the studs are 16” apart. The frame measures 19 3/4” across the top so I divided that by 2 and found the center point to be 9 7/8”. From the center point, I measured 8 inches on either side. I then measured the width of the top frame; 2″. I made a mark 1″ down. “X marks the spot” to center the brackets over and nail them on. Next, I used a stud finder and marked two adjacent studs, just above eye-level.Then used a level to make sure the marks were straight. Lastly, I hammered a 2″ long finish nail into each mark.

bracket measurments

                The picture frame sits level on the nails, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the final result. What do you guys think? Should I freshen the paint, and replace the photos with sharper, clearer, possibly even colored ones? Or do you like the farm-style, vintage look?

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My Mission Statement

background photo taken by Rachel Silver Photography

By Cedar is my creative outlet. I am building this brand to showcase my love for surface pattern design, arts and crafts, and nature. As a beginner entrepreneur, my brand is a work in progress. My website and all that I publish are steps toward a bigger goal of finding my niche; my place in this wide world of artists.

                To reach that goal, I will share blog posts on new projects, I will continue to make new items for my Etsy, I will build my portfolio for surface pattern design, and I will continue to try new things and to share them all with you.

                Now that I have a little bit of your understanding and trust, close your eyes. Go back to the last time you sat around a campfire with friends. The crisp night air chills your backside and turns your breath to a visible cloud. The fire crackles, pops, and warms your knees and hands and cheeks. The bright orange glows in your friends’ eyes as they stare, captivated by the dancing flames. Your friends, warm your soul, keep you laughing, maybe even reminisce about good times.

Now, picture that time you and a loved one got caught in the rain. At first you tucked your face and attempted to stay dry but eventually, you were holding hands and dancing and running in the downpour. When you arrive home, you change into loose fitting pajamas, and try to warm up on the couch with your hair still wet… the sound of thunder in the distance.

One more time, its autumn, the breeze is rustling the yellow and red aspen leaves, and broken sunshine is streaming through the trees. The air is fresh and has a bite to it as it kisses your nose and holds your hands.

These scenarios make you feel a sense of comfort, happiness, and contentment. It’s like you can almost hear the popping of the campfire or feel the rumble of the thunder. This feeling can be wrapped up into the term “hygge.”

So, if I had to cram all of that into one concise statement, it would be:

The mission and vision of By Cedar is to capture the essence of hygge and to sprinkle some into every work of art that I create; to allow people to bring this feeling into their homes and wardrobes to enjoy on the daily.

Let me Introduce Myself

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     Hello! I’m Cedar, an aspiring surface pattern designer. My roots are in a small Colorado town but I have grown and now live in the Northwestern tip of Montana, where I flourish. My heart is filled with mountains, lakes, and everything nature. My mind is filled with ideas on how to share my passions with the world through fabric, wall art, and hopefully someday area rugs, ribbon and more.

     I grew up in a household where my dad was Mr. Fix-it, my mom was Mrs. bake/make/create-it, and my 3 older siblings and ran around the farm with our imaginations out and our shoes no where to be found. We were constantly surrounded by extended family and we fit snugly into the small town community. It wasn’t uncommon to be part of a chili cook-off, family barbecue, or to have others join us for holiday meals.

     I’ve been reminded time and time again that as a toddler, carrying my baby blanket around the church, I told my primary teacher that when I grew up I wanted to either be a daddy or a monster… I obviously came to terms with why neither of those were going to happen, and I eventually started telling my school teachers I was going to grow up to be an artist or a teacher. Those two professions stuck with me throughout middle school with “teacher” sometimes being swapped out with “nurse.” In Middle School my art teacher took notice of me (whether it was because of my artistic ability or just abnormal excitement for middle school art class, I don’t know) and she became sort of a mentor to me. I was asked to paint a mural of sunflowers on the nurses office wall at one point…I chose sunflowers and butterflies. Another time she let me flip through her catalogs and choose one item that she would special order just for me… I chose those rainbow scratch off papers. The most memorable time was when she took me to a pottery shop in the neighboring town and I made a bowl on a potters wheel. It was on this trip to the pottery shop that she shared her opinion that there isn’t money in being an artist. I know that we have all heard that and similar phrases like “starving artist” but it still hit hard coming from my beloved art teacher. It stuck with me.

     Fast forward 5 years where I found myself in the Animation and Motion Graphics program at Colorado Mesa University. I made it through one semester paying a fortune to sit in classes that taught things like how to make a flip book, and the basics of the color wheel. It wasn’t at all what I expected and a “What should I do what my liiiife?” melt down ensued. The following semester I was taking science-based classes, shadowing at the community hospital and applying for the Radiologic Technology program. I got in! Shortly after, I was spending most of my time in the Health Sciences building and wearing stark white on white on white scrubs while fulfilling my clinical requirements. I worked three jobs to graduate x-ray school completely debt-free in two years.

    Today, I am the lead technologist of a mobile x-ray company, married, and own a home on a small chunk of land in Montana. Life is good. I work a job that I enjoy. I share a beautiful home with my dream man and we are equally driven to build a comfortable, stable, and exciting life for ourselves. And if you’ll let me brag a little bit more… Glacier National Park is practically my backyard. I have recently felt the urge to stop and smell the roses; slow down from my busy life and learn to be fully present for the little things. This change of heart has allowed me to get reacquainted with my artistic side again. 

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    I yearn to create art from the moment I wake up to the second I close my eyes at night. So I have learned to prioritize that time into my day whether that be sewing, painting, learning Adobe Illustrator, or a doing home improvement project. In early 2019 I created my first repeating pattern and uploaded it to Spoonflower.com, eventually selling one entire yard! Shortly after, I created a watercolor repeating pattern and suddenly knew that I had found something promising to pursue. Now, in mid-2019, I have created a complete 12-pattern collection, in two colorways, called Backyard . I am learning to share my work with others, and now have found myself creating a website in order to have a “home base” to connect with others in the SPD world. I hope you’ll stick around to see me through this journey!