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April 29, 2015

5 ways to save cash

There are a myriad of reasons to save money. For emergencies, for for big life changes, or for retirement  (it's never too early). There are also more exciting reasons to save, like for a new car or a future vacation. There's different levels of saving money too. Our household has been pinching its pennies for the last year since we're moving out of state. Our saving has been extreme: no frills, no extras, no fluff for 12 months. Even if you're in a predicament where saving seems out of the question because of student debt or credit card payments, these tips may help deal with your financial burdens. Whether you're saving up for the next big thing or you just want some extra financial cushion, it's always a good time to start saving your extra dough. Here are some of the things we've done over the past year to help us fill our proverbial piggy bank.

  1. Set To Save Automatically // Whether through your bank or through your job, there are options to have money set aside automatically. Some companies will offer to pull money out of your paycheck every pay period & have it set aside for you. You can also contact your bank about their automatic savings plans. My bank sets aside $1 for every debit/credit transaction I make & puts it into a savings account. It's helpful for me because I don't have to remember to save - it just happens when I spend.
  2. Set To Save Manually // If you're the type of person who can remember to set funds aside, plan it out. Heather budgets her paychecks this way. She sets aside enough money for necessities (gas, food, utilities, etc.) plus a little wiggle room, & puts the rest into savings. While it may seem extreme, putting yourself on a budget really forces you to consider where your money goes. If you're a little less budget-minded, like me, you can try this trick: every time I run my debit card, I ask for $20 cash back. The $20 never gets spent - it goes right into my savings bank. Knowing that I have to pull out an additional $20 every time I run my debit card makes me less likely to use it. Those $20s add up fast!
  3. Plan Your Meals // This is not a new trick. You've seen it a dozen times in articles just like this, but that's because its effective. The moment our household started planning meals by the week was the moment we started saving some serious cash. It may seem droll to plan out your menu week-by-week, but in the end it makes dinnertime less stressful. Decide on seven dinners before you make your shopping list. Try & pick meals that work with the same ingredients (for example: if you're buying a pack of mushrooms for pizza on Tuesday, use the rest of the mushrooms for quiche on Friday). Take stock of what you already have on hand & work that into your meal plan so nothing goes to waste. When you get to the grocery store stick to the list. Never shop hungry, & don't get distracted. Planning meals ahead of time means no last minute trips to the store (saving on gas money), & you're less likely to eat out (which we all know is expensive). 
  4. Don't Help Yourself Be Impulsive // I haven't seen the inside of the mall in a long time. You know why? It's because my mall just got an H&M store. I love that place. I love everything they sell. Plus, when I walk in & see the sign that says "SALE," I freak out. Sale? That means I'm saving money! Sadly, no. Sales & coupons aren't an excuse to spend money. They're great when you actually need something (& you should plan to spend when there's a sale or a coupon) but they shouldn't be an excuse just to buy. Steer clear of places that make you want to spend - for me it's H&M, World Market, & the craft store. If you receive e-mails from your favorite stores alerting you to deals & coupons, flag them as spam. That way you never have to see the potential "deals" & if you do need a future coupon you can still retrieve the e-mail from your spam folder. 
  5. Cut Your Wants In Half // Get a piece of paper & divide it into two columns. One column will be your "Needs" & the other will be "Wants." In the "Needs" section, write down all the things you have to have in life (running water, food, rent, etc.) & how much each thing costs every month. In the "Wants" section, write down all the things you purchase that aren't necessary, like the cable bill, coffee, movie rentals, going out to eat... anything that doesn't seriously alter your life if you were to lose. Write down how much each "Want" costs every month. Don't guess the amounts - pull up your online banking statement & really investigate how much money you're spending. Now it's time to cut your "Wants" in half. For instance, if you spend $25 a week on lattes, cut that down to $12.50. Treat yourself to a latte twice a week & stick to making coffee at home the other days of the week. If you're spending a large portion of your "Want" budget on the cable bill, consider switching to only watching Netflix or Hulu. This past year we were serious about saving, so we cut the "Want" column out almost entirely. That may seem drastic, but if you're serious about saving or trying to get yourself out of a financial hole, it's the unnecessary things that have to go. 

While setting aside money may seem daunting, it's totally doable. The unnecessary things I cut out of my financial life hurt to let go of initially, but now I don't even miss them. Every time I get the itch to blow a bunch of money on something, I just think of why I'm saving my money. & I'm happier for it. 


Related // Put your newly saved money in a DIY mason jar change bank.

April 27, 2015

how-to // alter pants (straight leg edition)

If you’re like me, you have clothes in the back of your closet that don’t fit quite how you’d like. I guess I should have said “If you’re unlike me” since people come is a variety of shapes & sizes, & that’s why clothes don't fit universally on everyone. I’ve had these pants for a while & kept meaning to do something about their awkward fit. They were too long & too baggy for my taste, but they fit really well in the waist. I’ve been putting together potential interview outfits while in the midst of job-seaching & I finally decided to do something about these baggy slacks. 
This method of alterations is just like the skinny jean tutorial, only we’ll be tailoring these into more of what’s called a “cigarette pant." It’s basically a straight leg, but unlike the traditional cigarette pant I won’t be making the legs as short. That being said, these pants came up few inches since they were too long, & we'll cover that alteration as well. Knowing how to alter pants is a great skill to have since not every pair of pants is going to fit everyone exactly the same way. 
This method of alterations works well if the pants fit in the waist. If you're trying to bring in pants that are too big overall, a belt can help the extra space up top. The waist band is a tricky thing to alter without taking the pants apart completely, & if your pants are way too big overall, you may as well start from scratch. If you have trouble finding pants that fit your body shape, always opt to purchase pants that fit in the waist. The length and fit around your legs are the easiest points to tailor to your body.

To do this alteration, you'll need:
  • Straight pins
  • A sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Matching thread (preferably of a strong weight)
Step 1. Find Your Fit | Put your pants on inside out. Button them at the waist & make sure they’re sitting on your body where you would normally wear them. Next, pin along the sides of your thighs, knees, & the widest point on your calves, bringing the pants in to fit your body. This step is easier to do with a buddy, but not impossible to do on your own. Since this is a straight leg alteration, it's not necessary to pin all the way down the leg. Pin down to the widest point of each calf. Make sure you leave about 1/2 inch of wiggle room between each pin & your leg. If your pant material is stretchy (a.k.a. contains a fair amount of spandex), you can pin closer for a more fitted look.
Step 2. Taking Them In | Take your pants off carefully - watch out for the needles!. With the pants still inside out, sew a straight stitch from the top of the pant leg to the bottom cuff. Begin your stitch line along the original seam line, meeting your newly pinned line. When you reach the last pin marking the widest part of your calf, sew straight down to the bottom cuff. Backstitch at the start & finish of your seam. Do this for both sides of each pant leg. 
Step 3. Check & Check Again | Turn your pants right side out, & try them on! As you can see mine didn’t fit right on the first go. That’s totally okay. If you don’t get it right the first time around, put your pants on inside out again, re-pin & re-sew. Always start each new seam along an old seam to avoid puckering. There’s no need to rip out the old seam & try again, just add to. 
Step 4. Find Your Length | When you're satisfied with the fit of your pants, you can cut off the excess fabric about 1/2 inch away from the seam. 

[Note: As you can see, I did not cut off the excess fabric. It's because I'm finicky & worried the skinny-fad will soon die out & baggy will be the new black. If you're altering pants for a growing child you can leave the excess fabric too for future letting-out.]

Put your pants on inside out & turn the bottom cuffs up to the desired length. I would recommend doing this step with shoes on so you get a feel for how they'll look in real time. Pin in place. 
Step 5. Finish The Cuff | Take your pants off, leaving them inside out. Do any readjustments to your cuff pinning to ensure the cuff is even all the way around. Sew a straight stitch along each cuff, sewing it in its new place. Backstitch at the beginning & finish of each new hem line.
Step 6. Press & Party! | Don't forget to iron your pants! If you opted to cut off the excess fabric in Step 4, press your new seams open. 

Hey-o. These pants are interview ready!


P.S. Now that you've got a stylish interview outfit, time to polish that resume!

April 24, 2015

life | links

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm so excited for the weekend. There's so much to do! 

Every time I tell someone I'm moving to Minnesota, the first response I get is about how cold it's going to be there. At first I was like, "Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I can always put on more layers. I'm a tough girl from Pennsylvania." But now I'm getting worried. I don't know if it's the number of times people have brought up the cold or if reality is finally sinking in, but I'm starting to fret about it. Maybe I'm not tough. Maybe I've totally acclimated to living in the south & this coming winter is going to break me. Maybe I won't make it. This is a silly thing to worry about. Over 400,000 people live in Minneapolis & don't die mid-January. Still, it has me reevaluating my vegetarianism & thinking of investing in down jackets & animal skins. I'm just hoping that Minneapolis skyway is all it's cracked up to be. 

Anyways, on to the links! They're almost all lady-based today (except for Pancake the cat, which if you visit one of these links today, it has to be that one. I'm still squealing). 

I hope you all have a lovely & productive weekend!


Related // We Can Make Anything finally made the move to Facebook, check us out here

April 22, 2015

out & about // nudes update, news update

Doing // All I really want to do is make things instead of planning our move. You'll be seeing less tutorials for a short period mostly because I can't find any of my supplies. I know they're in the house, I just can't figure out which box they're in. Packing ahead has its pros & cons. Thanks for bearing with me.

I've officially gone through & cataloged all of my old artwork, tossing what I don't need to lighten my moving load. I had no idea I did so many nude drawings. These are two of them. There's a ton more on my professional website

Watching // Okay, I'm super late to the party on this one, but Mad Men, guys. That show is so good, & I've been on a Netflix bender. 

Listening // Since I got rid of my car I realized I don't need to hold onto my CD collection anymore, so I've been loading them all onto my computer. Fun fact: the first CD I ever bought was the Tarzan soundtrack. Phil Collins, you'll be in my heart, forever.

Feeling // Excited. Nervous. I only have two weeks left at my current job. It's a weird feeling. I've been working there for seven years! It's the job that got me through college, the job that introduced me to my circle of friends & even to Heather. As I'm typing this I'm realizing I only have two weeks left working with my girlfriend. HOW WEIRD. 

Loving // The fact that we've finally making the move to Facebook. You can officially find the blog at!


Related // More thoughts on artwork.

April 20, 2015

tips on moving

Moving is one of the more stressful events in a person's life. Yes, it's exciting, but it's also a disruption of your life's routine. When relocating, it's important to minimize stress as much as possible. I've been trying to implement some stress-relievers in my life as we go through the process of moving. It's been tough. My go-to reaction is to lay awake at night fretting over every last detail, letting the idea "what if" consume my every thought. The thing I've found most helpful in calming my nerves is making a calendar. Listing all of the details & scheduling them into these last few weeks before we leave has allowed my mind to breath a little bit. Knowing that everything will get done & can get done in a timely manner has helped a lot.

When it comes to moving, it's really all about planning. Here are some tips that we're implementing in order to make our move more stress-free:

  • Plan ahead: Like I said, it's all about the plan. Don't wait until the last minute to get your affects in order. Once you have decided to move, make a schedule of the tasks that have to be completed before you leave (packing, renting a truck, finding an apartment, etc.) & space them out. If you schedule & plan ahead you'll save yourself a lot of stress. 
  • Save ahead: Planning ahead also applies to saving money. Heather & I have spent the past year saving for this move, & while that meant doing NOTHING FUN for 12 months I wouldn't take that decision back. Moving, if you haven't heard, is expensive. Save more than enough money for a moving truck, gas, rental & pet deposits, hotels (if it's longer than a day's drive), utility deposits, & emergencies. There will always be unexpected expenses. Plus having a little saved up really alleviates stress because it's one more thing you don't have to worry about. 
  • Pick a date: It's important to pick a moving date ahead of time so you can inform all the appropriate people politely in advance. Not only will you have to tell your friends & family, but also your work, current rental management, future rental management, truck rental or moving service, etc. The sooner you lock down a date the sooner you can get all the other big stuff out of the way. For instance... 
  • Rent your truck ASAP: Once you have picked a date, rent that truck! Securing a truck will be less-stressful than trying to wrangle one closer to your moving date, & you also may not be able to rent the truck you want if you wait. This is especially true if you are moving in the summer - everyone moves in the summer, so lock that truck down. Since we were moving such a long distance with pets we wanted to look at the various models to make sure we were getting a vehicle that would fit us all. We didn't want to be surprised the day we picked the truck up! You can totally ask to see the truck ahead of time. When picking a truck also consider whether you will be towing your car behind it - not all trucks have this capability. You also want to check with the truck rental company as to their securing policy. Some companies will not 100% secure the truck for you - cover all your bases. 
  • Pack ahead: Don't save all the packing for the week before you leave. You can pack away things you don't use as frequently (i.e. holiday decorations, books, wall art, out-of-season closing, personal keepsakes, etc.) way in advance. 
  • Pack a "Go Bag/Go Box": This is where you store all the items you will need along the move & right when you arrive at your destination. Your "Go-Bag" should include personal items like toiletries, clean clothes, tampons (seriously, you don't want to be rummaging through boxes looking for those), toilet paper (see previous statement), etc. Your "Go-Box" should also include cleaning supplies for last-minute cleaning of your previous residence & for any cleaning that's needed in the new residence, as well as trash bags, cutlery, & dish ware for when you arrive. If you're traveling with pets, include pet food & toys, & a litter box for the felines. 
  • Trust your gut: While moving can be scary, go with your gut in terms of decision-making. Remind yourself that people do this all the time. Make a plan & go for it. You can do it!


Related // More thoughts on eliminating stress by taking it easy.

April 17, 2015

life | links

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

There are so many people to visit with. The social engagements are piling up the closer our moving date approaches. Dinners, lunches, drinks, & puppy playdates - a lot of that's happening in the next few weeks. Speaking of puppies, we're teaching our old dog some new tricks. Doria has learned to bark on command! Granted she'll only do it if food/treats are involved, but I'm proud of her new skill. The theory behind teaching her to speak is that we can then teach her to be quiet. That'll be important once we've moved into an apartment with lots of random noises that may startle her.

This week's links:

April 15, 2015

diy t-shirt quilt

DIY T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial

If you've been following along on Instagram, you know that I've been working a t-shirt quilt. I'm excited with how it turned out & I'm already planning for the next one based on what I learned through this process. If you've never tried your hand at quilting, the good news is: neither had I! 

How to make your own t-shirt quilt

April 13, 2015

how-to // build a resume

Trying to find a new job is terrifying. I haven't had to look for a new job in almost seven years, & as it turns out, I'm a little rusty. I had never even made a resume before! Fortunately for me (& for you if you find yourself in the same boat), my lady-friend Heather has ample experience with resumes. She took a whole course on the matter of preparing for real world job experience. Here are some tips she shared with me on how to build a classy & powerful resume. 

  • Clean & simple: It's important that your resume is easily readable. While it may be tempting to show off your awesome Microsoft Word font skills, try & resist that temptation. There is a fine line between your resume standing out & having it turn into a visual person's worst nightmare. Use clean, bold lines that carry direction. It's fine to use color in your resume, but try & keep it to one color in addition to black. Make sure you pick a color that will also look good if printed in black & white. Don't be afraid of negative space. A little bit of white space only brings more attention to the stronger elements. 
  • Short & sweet: In addition to creating an aesthetically clean resume, your text should be uncomplicated as well. Don't droll on about your experience. Prospective employers will see right through your fluffing. Keep it simple, keep it short.
  • One page for every 10 years of experience: This falls in line with keeping it simple. If you have  been working for 10 years or less, your resume should be no longer than a page. End of story. If you've only been working for 10 years & your resume takes up more than a page, pare it down. This includes all of the other information that needs to go into it (i.e. references, contact info, education, etc.). 
  • Highlight your skills in a real way: Instead of making a list of your skills (attention to detail, punctual, problem-solver), try & incorporate them into your achievements. For example, if you created a more efficient system for accomplishing tasks at your current job, include that as a way of showcasing your problem-solving. Anyone can just say they're good at something, it's better to show it.
  • No objective statements: There's no need to start your resume off with an objective statement. Your resume should reflect fact only: what your background is, where you worked, & what you've achieved. An objective statement is only required if you are taking your career in a vastly different direction. 
  • Include up-to-date information for your references: Make sure that the e-mail address still works for your old college professor. Check that your boss from two jobs ago has not switched phone numbers. You don't want prospective employers attempting to contact your references based on faulty information - that will only make you look bad. 
  • Test print: Test print your resume. Test print it every which way: full color, black & white, fast draft - any option your future employer may pick. Make sure it is readable & still strong when in print format. 
  • Always, always, always include a cover letter: This is what makes your resume more personal. Your cover letter is a simple document (not included in the 1 page = 10 years limitation) that shows prospective employers that you're truly interested in their company. Address the letter to the hiring manager by name - never address it with a chilling "To Whom it May Concern." Make it look like you've done research in the company you're applying for. Don't repeat in the letter what you've said in your resume. Instead, show why you're interested in the job in a way that compliments the company. Each job you apply for will require a unique cover letter. 

Your resume & cover letter serve as a first impression. Remember to show your best side & be direct. Hope this helps! Happy job-hunting!


Related // Why am I building a resume? Because we're moving

April 10, 2015

links i love // minnesota on my mind

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

Everything in my life is a flurry (wishing it was more of a McFlurry). Even though I'm practicing some deep-breathing exercises, I don't think I'll be calm until we've settled into our new home. Aye, my nerves! I'm so excited about the move, though. Other than stressing, my days have been filled with researching our new city. It's a crazy-cool time to be alive when you can take a virtual tour down the streets of your new home on Google Street View. I have already virtually "walked" to all the local coffee shops & bars in our new neighborhood. I've also been reading up on how radiators work, since that's what our building heats from & I've never used one before. Then there's the more boring stuff like taking the Minnesota driver's test, how to turn on the utilities, getting a pet license (even though she'll have her license, I think Donut's still too young to drive), where to park the car in a snow storm, etc. So many new things to worry about. If you have any tips for staying calm in the middle of some serious life-changes, let me know. 

Even though moving is the only thing on my mind, let's talk links. 

Top links of the week:


Related // I want to fill our new apartment with plants, but I'm wary to do so since I killed off each & every one of my succulents. My thumbs are NOT green. 

April 8, 2015

out & about // big news

Guess what?


We're moving.

Not across the street, not to the other side of town, but to another state. Another state that is like six states away from where we live now. You guys, I'm so excited/terrified/nervous. 

This is our big "project" that we've been working on! I've hated keeping you in the dark, but now that I've officially put in my notice at work I can spill all of the proverbial beans. It's been weird keeping such a huge decision in my life so hush-hush, but we wanted to wait until all the pieces were in place before we announced it.

Long story short - it's time to move on. I love my current city & my current job, but knowing that there's so much more out there to explore & experience has us wanting to get out & try to make it on our own. Plus it's a little weird being a gay couple in the south. Okay, more like uncomfortable & often times scary. Plus it's so (whiney voice) hoooootttttt down here. Give me four seasons & a pile of snow, for goodness sake.

Which brings me to my next point: we're moving from Florida to Minneapolis!

Because moving is stressful/hectic/time-consuming, the tutorials may not come as frequently over the next short while. I wanted to give the heads up that I may be too busy stressing about my new job/new apartment (which is adorbs, btw) to post anything.

I'm so excited to explore our new city & take lots of pictures. Wish us luck on our crazy endeavor. We're going to need it. Like, seriously. How do you even drive a moving truck?


Related // Sad I had to take down the pretty contact paper on the fridge. Should I do the same at the new place? 

April 6, 2015

how-to // transform plastic bags into yarn

Hello, lovelies! I hope you all had a fantastic Easter weekend. Now onto the real celebration: half-priced Easter candy. Cadbury Eggs, I'm comin' for ya!

In the spirit of using up materials around the house, I wanted to share this fun trick for turning old shopping bags into yarn. If you're like me, you have a plethora of plastic shopping bags from a variety of grocery stores (okay, mine are mostly from Target - don't judge). Sure you can use your bags to line tiny trash cans or pick up dog poos, but if you're looking to purge your plastic bag stash in a serious way, plastic yarn is the way to go! It's perfect for crocheting or knitting heavy-duty projects.

The best part about working with plastic bags is it's basically free. I turned a whole stash of plastic bags into this bright new bag, which is totally sturdy & awesome. Plus I can call myself an official "bag lady" because my bag is literally made from hundred of bags. It pairs well in those times when I find myself talking to myself. Also, because it's made from plastic it's really easy to clean. This is my designated "beach bag" for sure, since the sand falls right through & I can rinse it out if it gets dirty. I also try & take it on trips to the grocery store as a grave reminder of the amount of bags I managed to collect in the first place. 

All you'll need to make your "yarn" is a bunch of shopping bags & a pair of scissors. The amount of bags you'll need depends on the size of your project. Like I said, mine was made from a few hundred old shopping bags.

Start by laying one of your shopping bags flat. 

Cut off the handles & the bottom of the bag.

Cut the bag into strips about 2" wide. Each strip should be a continuous loop. 

Now you're going to connect your loops.

1. // Start with two loops, the left (blue) overlapping the right (red).
2. // Fold the left end of the red loop over the right end of the blue.
3. // Pull the inner loops away from each other.
4. // Pull tight enough to form a knot (but not too tight to break).
5. // To build your chain, repeat steps 1-4, with your original chain serving as the initial blue loop, adding a new loop. Continue to build your chain.

I recommend using a large hook when crocheting, & large needles when knitting with this material. I used a size "K" hook to crochet this bag. You don't have to loop all of your plastic bags at once, you can add to your chain as you go. The plastic yarn is durable & sturdy, so it works well for projects that take a lot of wear & tear, like handbags or even a doormat.

If you are eco-friendly & don't have an embarrassing hoard of plastic bags (but still want to join in on the fun!), recruit your friends & family to lend you some. There's plenty of plastic that needs to be reused.


Related // Turn old shopping bags into a cute coin purse.

April 3, 2015

links i love // bicycles & birthdays

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

I hope you all had a lovely week! I got to spend the week riding my bike (my calves are really hating me) & celebrating the fact that I'm getting older. Birthdays are fun as long as the whole aging thing isn't meditated on too seriously. Heather & I spent my birthday getting coffee & eating Mexican food, two of my favorite things. We also took the dog on a helluva walk to work on her training. She just gets so pumped when she leaves our house. I also want to add that I have the best girlfriend in the world. Rather than getting me frivolous gifts like jewelry or clothes, she got me what I really wanted. A power sander & a staple gun. That girl seriously knows the way to my heart. I'm so excited to use them!

Have a stellar weekend! I'm excited to share with you all our secret project next week, so stay tuned for that. 

This week's top links:


Related // See our craft room at Cut Out + Keep's craft room tour page.

April 1, 2015

springtime iphone wallpapers

I'm on a springtime kick lately. It's something in the air, I think. Suddenly I have this huge desire to wear pastels & put flowers in my hair. Rather than dressing myself like an eight-year-old on Easter Sunday, I made some iPhone wallpapers to share with you guys. 

To use these wallpapers, get on your phone & click the links below to open the wallpaper you want to use. Then press down on the image until you're prompted to save it. Save & set as wallpaper!

The weather is seriously nice, ya'll. I'm saying "ya'll" because I think the weather is really only nice in regions where people use the term "ya'll." Is is ya'll or y'all? Either way, I've been posting myself up on the back deck for hours a day, soaking in the sunshine. Happy April!


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