5 Mother’s Day Gifts for $5

Mother’s day is this Sunday! It seems everywhere I look there are gift ideas with price tags in the triple digits. Just to prove that that you can show her you care with very little $, here are 5 extra budget-friendly Mother’s Day gift ideas for $5 or less, including a couple DIYs. But truly, a simple phone call can make a difference. Your mother is priceless, so be sure to take a few moments to tell her so.

Mother's Day Photo Cards from Target

1. Target Photo Greeting Card. For the same price as buying a traditional Mother’s Day card, you can create your own personalized 5×7 Photo Greeting Card for just $3.99! There are several nice designs to chose from. You know she’ll love it!

2. A Cheryl’s Cookie Greeting shipped straight to her door ($5 includes shipping). I can personally vouch that these butter cream cookies are delicious. Don’t you think it would be a cheerful treat for mom to find in her mailbox?

trader joes body butter

3. Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter ($4.99). Have you tried this yet? Super rich and creamy with a sweet coconutty fragrance. Lots of natural ingredients, too. Mom will love it after showering or before bedtime , especially for tired hands and feet.

DIY Wooden Popsicle Stick  Seed Plant Markers

4. Herb Garden Markers DIY. The things you can make with popsicle sticks! These garden markers are pretty and practical, and Lil Blue Boo has a great tutorial and a free download to show you how.

DIY Paperclip Earrings

5. DIY Paperclip Earrings. Learn how to make these unique paperclip and string earrings by Evie S. from her post called Art From Everyday Objects: Paperclips + String. Definitely unique!


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The Deco Tape Bandwagon

Can you believe the deco tape phenomenon? I haven’t bought any yet, but every time I read a posting about it I get the shivers all over again. Every package I’ve ever received wrapped with a strip or two of deco tape has seemed that much more special. And it’s so quick and easy! Some of my favorites:


Deco Packing Tape and Envelope Wrap from TapeSwell (via design sponge)

Rich & Deep 10pk Japanese Washi Paper Tape from Happy Tape (via Ohdeedoh)

Jumbo Deco Tape from My Happy Store

Autobahn Floor Tape at Up to You Toronto (via Ohdeedoh)


The danger of online browsing

Somehow I fell into window shopping online tonight. So dangerous. I just love the fabrics and styles that are coming out right now for fall. Especially in dark or charcoal grey, one of my favorite colors to wear. Oh man. If I had a normal figure right now I would be spending so much money. First of all, check out the awesome dress below from Anthropologie. I hardly ever wear dresses, but I would find a reason to wear this one. Can you imagine? With some tall black boots? Oh boy, I’d feel like a million bucks. Love the shape and pleated asymmetrical details. If I was slightly less sane I would go wild and buy one now, with the hope that someday, after baby is born, I might have a defined waist again.

Echo, Echo Dress

Yes, some really nice things out there. And to be fair, there are some wearable and semi-reasonable maternity finds, too. Like this well-designed coat and sweaters from Old Navy. Quite a surprise to find them there, if you ask me.

From Old Navy Maternity: Wool-Blend Swing Coat, Cable-Knit Crossover Cardigan, Pleated Sweater Coat

I tried the coat on the other day, before David noticed the $88 price tag. Since I mostly work from home, I have no reason to buy a maternity coat that I’ll only wear for a few months. More likely, I’ll be wearing David’s jackets and coats, at least until I can fit into my own again. Sometimes I forget that my body won’t simply bounce back to its pre-pregnancy size the minute baby is born. Luckily I was reminded recently, that I will likely be wearing maternity clothes for at least a couple months after baby. So I guess that is a good enough reason to buy a few nice, warm pieces to supplement my borrowed goods, since there is only so much I can stand of looking like a sack of potatoes. 🙂


Yard Sale Score

Our very first yard sale finds for the future nursery – a set of Pottery Barn Kids Wooden Alphabet Blocks (with a letter, a corresponding word, or image on each side) and 2 Pottery Barn white wood frames, all at a fraction of retail price. Normally, we wouldn’t even consider more Pottery Barn stuff, considering our history there, but these were an exception. There was lots of other baby/kids stuff, but not much that really suited our taste or aesthetic. But, you never know. We’ve been advised many times that yard sales (and craigslist) are the way to go for cheap and still-useful baby goods.


Tea Collection

Not too long after we found out we’re having a little girl, I ordered two of my first baby dresses online. I had gotten a catalog for Tea Collection months ago, although I’m not sure how I ended up on their mailing list. Fate, maybe? I’m not on any baby or children-related mailing lists that I know of. Anyway, I just LOVED their asian-inspired styles. So once I knew, I got on their site to find that they were having a summer sale and that most of my favorites were 50% off! How could I resist?

So this is what I got:

Daily Tea Blossom Tank Dress (Check out the Video View…so adorable!)

Daily Tea Mini Blossom Tank Dress

Daily Tea Solid Bloomers (which matches both dresses)

It was kind of weird buying outfits in next summer’s sizing, considering she is not even here yet, but I didn’t want to loose this opportunity. I rarely see baby stuff I like this much, and their fall collection is Norway-inspired, which doesn’t really impress me the same way.

The package just arrived today, and they are just as cute as I’d hoped! I wonder if this color scheme could somehow translate to the nursery…


Plain & Simple Maternity Swimwear

Okay, finding a swimsuit is hard, but finding a maternity swimsuit is ridiculously difficult. And it doesn’t help that I am as picky as they come on this topic. As a matter of fact, my favorite pre-pregnancy two-peice is a red halter-style bikini top with boy short bottoms. It is a few years old now, but back then I drove to three different Targets in order to finally find my size. So you can see, during the rare times that I find one I like, I am willing to go the distance.

After doing a fair amount of internet searching and perusing the racks at a couple nearby stores, I saw a lot of ugly maternity suits. I really wanted PLAIN – no polkadots, animal prints, plaids, ruffles or hardware. It is bad enough that my stomach is becoming an ornament in itself. I don’t want to be baring it to the world either, so I’ll just take a one-piece (or a two-peice with respectable belly coverage), thank you very much.

So. I finally found three acceptable options. Each one simple (some would say boring) and no frills. Budget-wise they can be described as:

The extra fancy pro: gorgeous, con: expensive
Middle of the road
pro: somewhat more affordable, con: two-piece
The big cheapster
pro: cheap, con: not a very good fit

I deliberated for quite a while, but knew with the summer months ahead and a pregnancy swim class starting soon, that I had to make a decision. I’m kind of embarrassed to even admit which one I prefer, but it might just end up being my one big splurge. Am I just being crazy?

The extra fancy

Middle of the road

The big cheapster


Polar Lights & Swedish Fashion Stamps

polar lights stamps postage

I was at the post office the other day to pick up a new supply of first-class stamps. David wanted the Marvel Super Heroes, but they were out, so I got a sheet of the Forever stamps instead. I also picked up a sheet of these pretty Polar Lights stamps, too, depicting photographs of aurora borealis and aurora australis.

This is what the back of the two stamps say:

The southern lights, aurora australis, are the polar lights as seen in the Southern Hemisphere. Auroras often appear in visual forms that combine aspects of arcs, curtains, and rays; this photograph shows an aurora over Antarctica, where hints of red indicate particularly strong magnetic activity in space.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a common sight in the northern polar region; here they appear over the Talkeetna Mountains in Alaska. During particularly intense magnetic storms, aurora borealis can occasionally be seen in some of the lower 48 states as well.

swedish fashion stamps

swedish fashion stamps

Speaking of stamps, I was reading another blog (was it this one?) that mentioned these Swedish Fashion Stamps that I thought were really artsy and cool. I bookmarked the Postal Shop but not the blog, although I was able to find a larger image of the stamps here.

I’ve always liked stamps, but I’ve never been a collector (not counting the random old ones that sit in the bottom of our stamp drawer, like a pair of 32¢ Marilyn Monroe stamps that I can never bring myself to use). David has several sets that his mom has framed from him in the past, some cartoon ones and a nice collector’s sheet of Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku.

And for those of you who don’t already know, you can even make your own postage stamps. I made a set for my sister in-law a couple years back, using a photo of her new baby boy, and they were adorable! Check ’em out here.

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Versatile Eco-Shoes by Patagonia

Patagonia “Sugar & Spice” shoes available in 4 colors (brown leather not shown)

I absolutely love the idea of these versatile “Sugar & Spice” mary janes from Patagonia. They can be worn two ways – the inner slippers by themselves when you want something a little less casual, or, when more durability is desired, they can be worn with their all-natural latex outsoles (perfect for rainy Portland winters). They’d also be great for traveling since both the outsoles and slippers “roll up or pack flat to fit in a briefcase or suitcase.”

patagonia mary jane shoes

Separate slipper and outsole (detail view)

This is a particularly good fit for those who are uber-eco-conscious, because Patagonia is well-known for their strong commitment to the environment. According to their website, these shoes incorporate:

  • Latex from the milk of the Hevea tree (the harvesting process is good for the tree, and the milk has a microstructure that when cured creates thousands of tiny air bubbles for natural cushioning)
  • Environmentally Responsible leather from tanneries registered as compliant with ISO 14001, a set of standards that measure how efficiently a company uses natural resources, and how closely it adherers to international and local environmental regulations
  • Glueless construction, minimizing impact by eliminating toxic glues
  • Recycled TPU footframe and piece fastener

Now, if only I could actually afford to buy a pair!

patagonia shoes

Other Patagonia styles worth mentioning: “Toast & Jam” “Gumwood” “Patrol” and “Freeflow”


The Cutest Little Buttons & Tutorials

I’ve come across the cutest custom button crafts lately. I had no idea they could be so charming and versatile, especially the fabric covered variety. Here are a few of my favorites, plus I’ve included two good tutorial links below:

button paper clips

button pins and magnets

Paper clips (top) and magnets and pushpins from Shim + Sons

The photos above are from Shim+Sons. The button crafts are available in their “shoppe” along with some nicely designed paper goods. I also really enjoy their blog and was pleasantly surprised that they were also Portland-based.

button ponytail holder

button headband

“Sienna Sunrise” ponytail holders (top) and headband from Gazzu

button hair pins

button bookmarks

“Magical Forest” hair pins (top) and “Trip to the zoo” bookmarks by Meeting Streets Designs

Here are links to two really good tutorials, one for fabric covered thumbtacks at How About Orange and a fabric covered button tutorial at Little Thing by Magda K. Both of these ladies are really talented and do amazing work.


Drawing on other people's creativity

“Treehouses” limited edition cards (photo and design from Kirin & Co)

I was thinking today that I should feature other people’s designs more often, especially the ones that really strike me as particularly beautiful, creative, cool or otherwise inspiring. Since I can’t afford to buy anything right now (see this post if you’re wondering why), I thought it would be like “window shopping” using my monitor… or maybe it would be more like curating my own imagined shop? Plus, I’m really hoping to motivate myself to begin at least one of the projects that have been sitting in the back of my mind.

One of my very recent favorite finds is the letterpressed card shown above, a collaboration between Lara Cameron, an Australian designer, and Lynn Russel of Satsuma Press, based right here in Portland. There are a set of three designs: treehouses (above), japanese tree, and birch. According to Lara’s Etsy shop, each card is letterpress printed with a vandercook sp-15 on crane’s 100% cotton lettra paper with hand mixed inks. However, if you live in the US you’d save on postage by purchasing from Lynn’s shop. I love the single use of color, the mixture of thin lines and solid shapes, and especially the little details.

“Japanese Tree” limited edition letterpressed cards (photo and design from Kirin & Co)

“Birch” limited edition letterpressed cards (photo and design from Kirin & Co)


Why I bought an imac

imac side

This past weekend I finally broke down and bought a new imac. Somehow I missed puremotif’s Mac Dreams post – we could have been commiserating together – apparently she was also struggling with the decision to buy, although she eventually chose a laptop. I can only hope my old ibook will hold out a little bit longer.

Working on my old G4 was just getting too painful… waiting for items to load or save, not being able to work properly on large files, and seeing the “wheel of death” way too often … it was just too much. I think I was beginning to loose my sanity. Plus, while working at my old design firm I got really used to scrolling with a mighty mouse and not just an optical. It’s kind of embarrassing how we get used to new technology and feel like we can’t live without it.

So, why did I go with an imac? Price, really. Since I’ve been working at home more than ever (which is still not as much as I’d like) I realized that it only made sense to have the proper equipment. Although, in some ways, I wish I could have waited, and maybe purchased a G5 tower. Besides being stronger and faster, it would have lasted much longer due to its many user customizable and upgradeable features. With the imac, I learned, the only upgrade I can do myself, without an apple certified specialist, is adding memory.

On the other hand, lucky David already has a G5. You’d think we might have been able to split time on it a little bit better, but when two graphic designers get simultaneous jobs, it is hard to sit and wait around (me) knowing that clients expect a reasonable turnaround. Also, we both do other computer-related activities like Age of Empires/surfing the web/emailing (David) and blogging/photo archiving/surfing the web/emailing (Me). Actually, it is downright scary how long we sit in front of our computers – our chairs maybe 2 feet away, yet world’s away in our heads.

And lastly, I had a monitor problem. Can you imagine concentrating on a project, only to have the screen go blank for several seconds at random every once in a while? Just the memory of that makes me GRRR!!! I will admit that patience is not one of my better virtues. It just isn’t. Thus, my brand new imac. I only wish they still came in white. 🙂

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