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I am not a huge fan of shopping. I like to get in, get my stuff and get out. But I do like to find good deals on things, even if it means a little bit of work on my part. Especially if I can do something way cheaper than I can buy it from the store. I do however, love looking for new products. Art prints aren’t a huge selling point. You have to find the right person who wants the size that you have, and some want it framed, others want to do it themselves, there are a lot of factors, and the biggest one is, art is in the eye of the beholder. I have painted pictures that I love, I think are beautiful, and I get a few prints only to discover that maybe, I am the only one who loves it. On the flip side, I have painted practice pieces that I shared just for fun, and sold and continue to sell numerous prints of those, ones that I didn’t particularly like, or didn’t take time on because I was just practice.

But, when I put my art on different products, it becomes much more saleable. And I enjoy the search so that’s a plus as well. About a year ago I decided to try putting my art on fabric. I wasn’t sure how that would go, so I started with just a couple of prints, but the local fabric stores started to buy them, and amazingly enough, they started to sell them! The nice thing about fabric panels is that they are so versatile. They can be made into wall hangings, so, kind of like a framed picture. They can be made into quilts and blankets. I have done a couple quilts myself with my art panels (picture of my most recent one above, not quite finished). They can be made into throw pillows and used in so many other ways.

How does all this relate to Cheap? Well recently I decided to try making a couple of tutorials on making throw pillow covers with my fabric, and putting them on my YouTube channel. However, pillow forms are quite expensive, and even just pillow stuffing isn’t particularly cheap. So, I pondered on this for few days, and came up with an idea. I went to Wal-Mart and found a regular size pillow for $3.47. I decided to cut it in half and sew the 2 halves into 2 pillow forms. I wasn’t sure if it would work how I wanted, but I tried it anyway, and it worked great! I now have 2 pillow forms for just under $1.75 each. And the best part was, it didn’t take me more than about 10 minutes to do them both. It took longer to set up the camera and make the video. So, if you would like to see my video tutorial on making your own pillow forms, you can check it out on my YouTube channel: Stephanie Richey Art, or you can click here.

I love finding great deals, and I love finding ways to make cheap and inexpensive things work for my needs. I hope you watch the video. I am not a great public speaker, videographer, or video editor, but I enjoyed filming this video, and I hope you find it useful! While you’re there, check out some of my other tutorials, and subscribe to my channel if you enjoy the content. Hopefully in the very near future I will have the pillow cover’s videos posted. Where do you find great deals? What ordinary items do you turn into extraordinary beauty in your home?

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I enjoy all the variety that the different seasons bring. But I do have a favorite – Summer. And my least favorite season? Winter. I am by nature, cold all the time. I do not like being cold, and yet, I live in a very cold climate. But, winter is not all bad, and some of my favorite things happen in the winter.

I love basketball. I am so grateful some of my kids also love, and play basketball. I enjoy this sport for many reasons. For one, it’s inside. I have been to football games where it rained the whole time and I froze, or had friends at track meets that said they about died because it was so hot in the stands. Basketball is in a controlled environment, so while the gym is kept cool, and I have to wear a jacket, it’s comfortable to be there and watch my kids play. I don’t like professional basketball however, so when my kids are out of high school, I’ll have to figure out something else to do in January and February.

I love hot chocolate and hot apple cider. I know I could drink those all year long, but there’s nothing better coming in from a day outside in the snow, than making homemade hot chocolate. My recipe has been tweaked from several I found online, but my kids love it, and no matter where they go in the winter, I always get a request at some point for the recipe so they can make it themselves. It makes quite a bit, but even if they’re by themselves, it still gets finished off.

Steph’s Hot Chocolate Recipe:

3/4 C. Sugar

1/3 C. Cocoa powder

A couple of pinches of salt (this makes the chocolate flavor stand out)

1/2 C water

Mix these ingredients in a 2 quart (or bigger) sauce pan until well combined. I usually put this on low heat while I get the milk out and measured, but you don’t want to “cook” it, just start the warming process.

5 1/2 C. Milk (I use whole milk, but 2% would work well)

1 tsp Vanilla

Add the milk as soon as you get it measured and whisk everything together. heat on medium to medium/high heat, but continuously check for temperature as you are not trying to boil it. Allow to heat to the temperature you would like to drink it at, whisking fairly often. This usually takes between 5 and 7 minutes. Check often.

Add the Vanilla at the end and serve. My kids also like to have some freshly whipped cream for the top, and a candy cane is always fun as well.

One of my other favorite things about winter is the time. For some reason things tend to slow down, which can make winter longer, but for me, it gives me more time to do a lot of the things I put off all summer. Mainly, painting all the pictures I wanted to paint all summer, but just didn’t have the time to do so. But I also enjoy quilting and sewing, and I have more time to practice my piano, which also gets pushed to the side quite often in the summer. I also tend to read more in the winter, which I love doing. And baking, I love to bake, but when it’s hot in the summer, that’s the last thing I want to do.

Those are some of my favorites, and they help the winter months pass quickly, usually I don’t get everything done I had planned to do in the winter, but I am grateful I have plenty to keep myself busy. What is your favorite season? What do you enjoy doing in the winter?

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Harvest Moon Tutorial

I know this is not on a Wednesday or Sunday, but I have a couple of tutorials on my YouTube channel that would benefit from some supply lists. There are 2 different tutorials, one acrylic and one watercolor, so I will give a separate supply list for both. Both videos are a 2 part series, so the links above link to part 1. I will put a link at the bottom again for both parts 1 as well as part 2 of each video.

This is the Acrylic Harvest Moon. The things you will need to paint this picture are:

Canvas – It can be a wrapped canvas, or canvas board. I used an 8×10 wrapped canvas for this painting so that it would fit in the frame of the video well. But you could use a larger or smaller canvas and it would work just fine.

Paint – I used 3 colors for this painting, White, Payne’s Grey and Mars Black. If you wanted to reduce to 2, you could use the Mars Black for both the background and the silhouettes. You would need to lighten the black for the background to make it more of a grey for the most part as you want your silhouette’s to stand out. In the watercolor tutorial I used a blue in the sky as well, and you can add that to the acrylic if desired.

Brushes – I used a 1/2 inch flat brush to paint in the background. If you make a larger version you may want a larger brush, but it’s not necessary. I used a couple of smaller brushes for the silhouette’s, they were more of a flat brush, but a round brush would work well for the silhouettes as well.

You will also want to have a couple of paper towels handy, and water to rinse your brush once in a while. But you don’t want to use the water with the paint. Before dipping into the paint after rinsing, dry your brush on a paper towel. Those are the things I used in the acrylic painting.

This is the Watercolor Harvest Moon painting. I did 3 other’s with different silhouettes. The moons in each one are different as well, so go to my Instagram page to get some ideas of other types of silhouettes. The supplies you will need for this one are:

Paper – I used 140lb cold pressed Arches watercolor paper, that measured 8×8 inches. I like the cotton paper versus the less expensive pulp type papers as they hold water better, and the paint colors are more vibrant. I used a watercolor block that is sealed around the edges, so there is no need to tape it down. However, if you are using a single sheet of watercolor paper you will need to tape it down, either to your table (I don’t like this method as it can’t be moved as I paint), or tape it down to something like a piece of cardboard (not cardstock, that’s not heavy enough) or foam board.

Paint – I used 2 colors for this painting, lamp black and Prussian blue for this particular painting, but on the other 3 I used a lighter blue. If you’re using blue, just about any blue will work. A purple color would also look nice, but you don’t have to use the blue at all, and can just do a monochromatic painting with the lamp black, and it will look nice as well.

Brushes – I used round brushes for the majority of this painting. The size doesn’t matter as much as the ability to cover the paper quickly with the wash and initial background color. I think the big brush I used was a size 16. Everything else was done with smaller round brushes, use ones you feel like are easy to handle, and come to a good point for the smaller details. I used a rigger brush for the thin lines of the small tree branches.

As with the Acrylic, you will need to have water, but unlike the acrylic, you will use a lot more water with the watercolor. You will also need to have a couple of paper towels and 2 jars of water, one for rinsing your brush, and one that stays clean for your washes.

I hope you take the opportunity to paint these pictures! I would love to see your finished product as well, so drop me a picture in the comments here, on my Instagram page, or on my YouTube channel.

Acrylic Harvest Moon: Part 1 Part 2

Watercolor Harvest Moon: Part 1 Part 2

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Growing up my mom made almost all the food we ate, from scratch. But my favorite things she made usually had to do with baking, like homemade bread and orange rolls. But, she didn’t just make amazing meals and baked goods, she also taught me to cook and bake. I don’t know if the rest of my siblings learned how to, but I am grateful that I did. When I was in high school my mom had me fix dinner for our family every weekday. She did the weekend meals and the big dinners, but the family dinners were my job. She usually assisted where needed, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn how to feed people.

When I got married, I became extremely grateful that I had learned how to cook, and the majority of my adult life I have prepared most of the food that we eat in our house from scratch as well. However, I have noticed that as our kids get older and busier, I have a lot less time to make really involved meals like I used to. A lot of my meal prep now is throwing a bunch of stuff from the fridge onto the counter and saying have at it. But, as we are shifting, or here in Alaska, have shifted, into fall, with winter fast approaching, I rediscover, every year, how much I love baking and cooking really good, homemade food. And one of my favorite ingredients in the fall is … Pumpkin!

Love it or hate it, tis the season for all things pumpkin. I love pumpkin, especially in baked goods. But I only make pumpkin type treats in the fall. I don’t know why that is, but that’s when I crave them. My kids love pumpkin, or at least they devour any type of pumpkin items I make, so I guess that’s a good sign. I love pumpkin because it is such a versatile ingredient. It can be made savory if you buy whole pumpkins and cook like a regular squash and season accordingly, but it can also be made into sweeter treats, which is the way I prefer to use it.

Pumpkin is so good for our bodies as well, like many of the deeply colored vegetables, just 1/2 cup of pumpkin has 40 calories, 0.5 gram Fat, 252mg Potassium, 9mg Carbs, 2 g Protein, 1325 IU Vitamin A (300% of your daily requirements), 6mg Vitamin C, 1.5mg Vitamin E, 0.5mg Niacin, 11.5mg Folate, 14.5mg Calcium, 11mg Magnesium, 0.5mg Zinc. Over the years I have done a bit of research about Electrolytes. As a workout enthusiast, and a person who sweats a lot, a lot of electrolytes are lost. Before I understood electrolytes, this caused a few problems for me. Electrolytes affect several bodily functions, including fluid balance control, regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction (including the heart muscles functions), maintaining correct pH, etc. The most common electrolytes are Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sodium. So pumpkin is a great food to get electrolytes naturally, and support all of those systems.

Today I made pumpkin cookies, you can find the recipe here. I used to make cookies all the time when my kids were in elementary school, but as they have gotten older, I haven’t done so. It’s been a couple years since I actually made pumpkin cookies, but today I remembered why I don’t, I love them! I could eat a whole batch of them by myself. My husband says the same thing, so I guess once a year is plenty. However, I have some other favorites, that are still somewhat sweet, but not as sweet as the cookies. One of my favorites is pumpkin waffles. This is the recipe I use here, but I have never made the apple cider syrup. I’m not a big syrup fan, we usually have whipped cream, and depending on the waffle, berries or fruit to go on top, so if you make the syrup, let me know how you like it. I also love pumpkin bread, but I don’t have a particular recipe that is my favorite, so I’ll let you search and find your favorite. And, of course, I love pumpkin pie. That is the one thing that carries over to at least Christmas, as we have to have pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner. It’s one of the few pies that my kids have all liked, all their lives. I just use the recipe off the inside of the canned pumpkin label, so if you need a recipe, I recommend that one. But there are so many options out there, so try a few.

I love pumpkin, and now you know some of the reasons why, and you have some of my favorite recipes. I hope you take the opportunity to bake something with pumpkin, or even try something with pumpkin spice. What are your favorite pumpkin recipes?

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I have two favorite weekends every year. The first weekend in April and the first weekend in October. These are what we call Conference Weekend in my Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have the opportunity to listen to the prophet of the Lord, as well as the Apostles He has called, and a number of the general leadership, both men and women, throughout the five – two hour sessions. There are 3 session on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. When I was a child, I didn’t always watch the Saturday sessions, and when my kids were younger we often allowed school activities and things to interfere with our Saturday watching. Fortunately, all of the talks are available on the Church website, usually within 4 or 5 days of the conferences. If you would like to read any of them, you can do so here. As I have gotten older though, I really like to listen to all of them. They bring peace to our home, guidance, and comfort, as well as much needed instruction in these crazy times we live in. My kids haven’t always enjoyed watching all the sessions, but the comment this year was, “Wow, this went by way too fast!” They enjoyed it as much as we did. So today, I will share several of my favorite quotes, and then one in particular that I really enjoyed the talk, as it’s something that resonates with me and is one of the things I wrote about in my first book.

These were some of my favorite quotes, but the one that struck me in particular was the last one on the right. There were a couple of similar talks, but I’m pretty sure it was Elder Dunn’s talk (I’ll find out in 4 or 5 days!) He talked about the British cycling team, and how they went from being the worst in the world to the best. It didn’t happen over night, and they continue to work on improving. But it did happen through consistent, incremental changes to every aspect of what they were doing. Not just equipment, or how they rode, but diet, how their time was spent, training, gear, everything was looked at and changed in it’s time. I would encourage you to go read the talk when it becomes available later this week.

We too have that same opportunity to change in our lives. We don’t have to make monumental changes. Those types of changes cannot always be sustained. But through consistently work on 1% changes in our lives, we can make huge changes in who we are, what we are, and where we are going over time. Amazingly, it doesn’t take as much time as we think it will, but often we have the perception that it will take a lifetime so we don’t even try. Don’t do that! Have the courage to make small change, because it is in fact, by small means that great things actually happen. If you haven’t read my book, you can check it out in the link above, and be watching for my second book, “Gratitude: Becoming a Happier You” to become available on my website this week. This book covers one of those small changes you can make in your life that will make a monumental difference in the very near future.

What kind of changes do you want to see in your life? What kind of small change can you start making today to achieve that change? I would love to hear your thoughts.