Naturally Beautiful

I made these prior to the slap heard around the world. Those of you know know me know that I *struggle* with alopecia.

Because of it, I cut my hair very short every couple of years.

Hair loss is very emotional for women because her beauty is often tied to her hair. I don’t attribute any length or texture of hair to beauty but some days I feel beautiful with my short, curly hair and some days my short hair is just a reminder that I have an illness that a isn’t being properly treated.

My appearance is not a reflection of my personal beliefs in beauty standards; my appearance is just that- “a look.”

I create art with women of many different looks. I created these pieces not for any political reason or any moral belief about how a woman styles her hair. I created these pieces because we should be able to feel beautiful as we are. We should not have be subjected to scrutiny because of our hair.

While I do feel scrutinized, at times, when I wear my hair straight, wearing our hair straight is socially acceptable. Wearing our hair natural is not.

From Dingy Basement To Studio

I LOVE renovating and repurposing! So when I decided to make my art studio in my basement, it was a forgone conclusion that I would use what I had unhand.

As you can see from the photos, this is the most basement of basement rooms ever. I have exposed plumbing and radiator pipes overhead. The flooring is a very undesirable tile. I put floor covering paper on the floor and used it on the 2 doorways and spray painted the ceiling white and then painted the walls a very light gray.

The blue tape on the wall was the beginning of me visualizing my furniture layout. It’s much easier to tape off the layout than it is to move heavy furniture.

Next, I laid my floor. I used a water resistant laminate because the floor is not completely level. I got water resistant flooring because though the basement does not flood but basements generally have moisture issues and there’s always a possibility of a spill.

Laying laminate is relatively easy with the correct tools.

Laminate floors are more forgiving of lumps and bumps in the floor.

After I laid the floor, I taped my vision for the furniture layout onto the floor.

The first piece I added to the room was the was actually 3 pieces of furniture put together. I have these 2 paper shelves that I bought for one of my classrooms about 10 years ago. In another post, I’ll share how I’ve recovered these a couple times. I put them on top of this filing drawer then added legs to each side to balance them out. It made sense to add this piece first because if I work from the corner out I’m not squeezing around large pieces. In another post, I’ll show you how I’ve resurfaced it over the years.

You Keep Saying This Word…

What does it mean?!

Sublimation is a form of heat transfer where dye transitions from solid and gas without going through a liquid stage. Modern sublimation has been used for over 70 years.

Sublimation has greater durability than other methods of imprinting words or images not a product; a shirt, cup, hat… Customers are familiar with screen printing, heat-transfer vinyl, and ink on products. Each of these methods have pros and cons. 

Think of it in terms of a tattoo- we used to think of tattoos as permanent until we were introduced to removal technology. We learned that tattooing only lays the image on a few layers of skin; a doctor can remove those layers and reveal skin that is not tattooed. With conventional methods of placing images on product, the image is laid on the item. Eventually the image can begin to fade, crack, and or peel. (Those items will vary in durability from “temporary tattoo that can wash off with soap” to “‘permanent’ tattoo that can be removed with a few doctor’s visits”)

Sublimation is superior to these other methods because it actually fuses the image into the item. It is what we thought tattooing was. The same way that most people will have a tattooed image for a lifetime, sublimation can last the lifetime of the product IF it is properly done on an item that is appropriate for the process.

As you can imagine, sublimation is more expensive. The machines used to generate the images, the ink, and often the items the images are transferred to (a shirt, cup, etc) are more limited in availability and more expensive.

Therein lies the limitations of sublimation. We can’t sublimate a rhinestone onto a mug or shirt. Neither can we sublimate a great, holographic vinyl. Sublimation is 2D and works best on 100% polyester fibers (as it pertains to textiles) and certain surfaces (only certain ceramics, plastics, etc for instance are receptive). Even though a sublimated image can transfer onto improper surfaces, the image is not permanent. The image will fade as if the image were made with a water-soluble ink. There are methods and products to improve the life of sublimated images on surfaces that are not proper for sublimation but those items will always have care instructions that an item that is meant for sublimation would not have. (Those items will also vary in durability from “temporary tattoo that can wash off with soap” to “‘permanent’ tattoo that can be removed with a few doctor’s visits”)

As a consumer, an item being sublimated should spark excitement! It should be able to stand up to abuse that similar items could not withstand. But beware of creators advertising an item as sublimated on cotton or a dollar store coffee mug, for instance. Those do not have the maximum durability.

Since I’m an exhausted mom of four, rest assured that whatever method I use to make your products, I make them to maximize the durability of the product to maximize product life AND ensure easy care. Whenever possible, I sublimate. I will only sublimate on the appropriate surfaces because sublimating on incorrect surfaces are a waste of your and my time and money.

See the ExhuastedMomM item care page.

Recover Wasted Money

We are all guilty of leaving money on the table; just wasting it. Maybe it’s that forgotten free trial you gave your credit card number to. Maybe you buy things you don’t need and they sit collecting dust for months or years in their original packaging. Whatever your money-wasting habits are, you can change them.

Here’s a list of ways you can recover wasted money. I know I don’t cover every scenario but maybe reading these gives you ideas or motivation to tackle your own bad habits.

Spending because you got a sale email

We’ve all done it. The worst is when you go into your email to conduct important personal business and you get distracted by sale emails. Some people shop during work because they got an email about a hot sale while working. Heck! That’s the whole premise of cyber Monday/ cyber weeks.

What you can do:

Create an email address just for stores ads and online shopping. If a store asks for your email address, don’t give your primary, personal email address or work email; give this one.

  • If you don’t have money, don’t look at the store email account.
  • If you have money to spend, check your emails for deals first.

Stores and restaurants usually have members only or app only deals. Often, the employees are told not to tell customers about these and to let customers pay higher prices!

  • Use your advertisements only email address to sign up for those apps and start saving!
  • Always download the app for any stores and restaurants you go to more than twice per year BEFORE YOU GO. In fact, take a moment to do that asap. If you go to a store or restaurant and realize you don’t have the app, sit or stand there and download it before you shop.

This is also a great way to limit spam on your other email accounts!

It will take awhile to de-junk your other accounts but you’ll get there!

Keeping unopened, unused purchases

Always make note of the return policies of the stores and websites you use AND USE THE ABILITY TO RETURN. Some stores have up to a year no questions asked. Also, know your managers; some are more linient than the company policy, some are more strict. Along those lines, always be kind to store employees even when they tell you no. I have a story about getting a return after it was too late on my Patreon.

  • If you buy an item and you don’t like it or do not use it, RETURN IT.
  • This may require you to keep receipts. Keep them in an organized fashion. You’ll be a happier shopper.
  • I hate keeping up with paper receipts so I love that many apps will keep electronic copies of my receipts.

If a store has an e-receipt option, I give them my advertisement email address. Two reasons, they will probably add you to a mailing list, and you will rarely need that receipt.

  • Also, return policies come in handy for sales. If you see something you bought more than $1 lower, get a price adjustment. (I have a story about saving a significant amount of money like this on Patreon)
  • If the store will give you store credit for being outside the return window or not having the receipt, take it,

I’ve been told the generations after gen x hate returning items. I honestly hate it too! But I like not wasting money more than I hate it. Because I hate doing returns, I don’t return an item necessarily every time I go to the store. I have a place where I organize unwanted items and when I accumulate a few, I do a return trip to the store.

You don’t need every tv subscription available

If you get a tv app because its free or at a reduced price, IMMEDIATELY put a notification on your phone or computer calendar reminding you to cancel ONE DAY before the trial period expires. When the notification comes up, CANCEL!

Speaking of tv apps, place a habit tracker by the tv or your computer if you watch tv on the computer. Write all your tv apps on it. Mark each time you watch each app. Set a threshold for how many times is too little. cancel unused or under used apps


You can make money for things you aren’t using. Right now they’re sitting around collecting dust. SELL THEM!

One note about unused items- whether they are unused with tags or used, you will rarely sell things you aren’t using for more than you bought them. So make sure you keep that in mind from here forward if you elect to not take my advice about returning items to the store. You lose money when you sell unused items; you’re only minimizing your loss by sell.

Think outside the box when getting rid of unused stuff. I don’t like those apps that promise to help you sell but take a big chunk. I prefer to list large items like washers and dryers on apps like Offer Up. Smaller items like shirts and blenders on Facebook.

We have even sold cars online instead of trading them in because we get more money that way.

*A note about safety- if at all possible, DO NOT meet people at your home to do the sell. If you must have multiple people present acting casual like 700 people live at your house. This may scare them but it’s better they’re scared than you get hurt or worse. Take down information of anyone you invite to your home for sales- they might be back. I’m not trying to scare you; this stuff happens.

Along those lines, try not to meet people at public places alone. And always meet at a police station or a Walmart or Home Depot. Why Walmart or Home Depot? Because they have the best parking lot cameras. If you get robbed, all you have to do is file a police report and they’ll give the police the footage.

Ready? Start looking for ways to recoup wasted money!

You’re Taxing Yourself

I know that many of you aren’t even thinking about your taxes, yet. Many of you will be waiting until the very last moment to file. That’s not a judgement, just an observation. Because I can claim no superiority for being an early filer- we’ve been filing as soon as possible for years only because most of our marriage my husband has worked a seasonal job and we need the tax refund to supplement our Winter income.

But anyway. I’m posting this public service announcement early to each my early filing peeps.

Stop paying a tax preparer to file your taxes!

Stop it now!

Today! This year!

You can do your own taxes for 1/8th to 1/10th what a tax preparer would charge.

I’m not saying, “Make this the last year you pay someone to file your taxes for you.” I’m saying, “File your taxes yourself this year! You can do it! I believe in you!”

Please, hear me out. I have a few fancy letters behind my name but I’m no genius. If you follow me for any length of time, no doubt you’ve seen grammar and spelling errors and probably you’ve had some serious, “I’m smarter than her,” moments.

Yet, I’ve been doing our taxes since we were freshmen in college.

…and we’ve NEVER been audited.

One year, we were applying for a home loan and the loan officer noticed a mistake on our taxes. They said in order to close on our house we had to correct the mistake.

I went back and re-did our taxes, did the walk of shame to the local tax office, refiled and went on with my life. That was over 10 years ago so we’re FREE from that error with no fear of recompense.

Taxes aren’t as scary as we’ve been conditioned to believe they are.

I rarely think the annoying inspirational, “Look at her. If she can do it, surely you can” is applicable. But this is one of those times.

I have absolutely nothing to gain if you listen to me. I am not plugging a particular software and I’m not getting compensated to tell you to do your own taxes.

There is not Society For Those Who Convince People To File Their Own Taxes Award.

Talking to you about filing your own taxes will not get me to the UN to speak about this great humanitarian effort.

Seriously Though

You pay some company HUNDREDS of dollars to file for you. Why?

Do you think they can get your money faster?

Do you think you are “covered” if you make a mistake?

Are you worried that you don’t understand the tax process enough to do it yourself?

Do all of the different “schedules” scare you?

What is your hold up?

Let me say this: If you think your taxes are super-complicated because you have multiple properties or you run your own business, dude. No, they are not too complicated to do them yourself.

I’m not suggesting you go to the post office and get a paper 1040 and sit in the corner with a beer and a pizza and suffer.

Do they still keep the tax papers at the post office? I don’t know.

This is what I do

If I currently own a slow computer and/ or I have slow internet, I go to the store, to the tax software aisle and I find the program that is most applicable to me. If I have quick download ability, I simply go to the company’s website and download my copy.

In order to determine which version of the tax software I need, there are huge, green checkmarks next to each version telling you which “schedules” that software has. If you have more complicated taxes; own a home, run a business, have rental property, etc, the software is more expensive but it is still about 1/8th to 1/10th what a tax preparer would charge.

Be prepared to pay a filing fee of about $20 in addition to the software cost for the filing fee. You can avoid this by printing out all the forms and mailing them instead.*

I want my money fast and the fastest way is e-filing.

And here’s why

If we file in January or February, we usually have our money back within a week or so. The only hitch in this had been a few years back the government did some weird thing where they held the refunds of people with dependents until the end of February. I was HOT but we still got our money quickly.

The later you file, the more people are filing.

When you prepare your taxes with a program, you don’t see the tax forms the program is filling out for you. It asks you a series of questions much like filling out an online application

The software updates itself with the newest tax information available the date you start and finish your taxes. Just like those preparers get.

The software checks for errors and it will tell you exactly what to change and will not let you proceed until you fix it. No. it doesn’t find every error, like the time I made a mistake on our income but it’s pretty thorough.

*When you file electronically, some IRS program or person at the IRS somewhere will accept or reject your taxes within 24-48 hours. This is the other reason I like filing electronically. If I use the software then print and mail to file, I don’t know how this is handled and if they do give me the opportunity to correct my taxes, the process could take weeks instead of hours.

You will have access to your tax information on a hard drive all year. This has proved very helpful to me through the years. My kids have needed tax information for FAFSA and we have needed it for other reasons. Doing this makes finding the information super-easy.

I no longer print out all those pages of tax forms. I only print past taxes if someone requests it.

Another benefit is the the tax preparation software uses your tax file from the year before to start your taxes each year. This saves you time filling out information like names, social security numbers, addresses, etc. -The program auto-fills a lot. You only have to change whatever information changed that year.

Once, my computer died and I lost my copy of my electronic file. In order to load tax information from the previous year, you need the software from the previous year on your computer and access to your tax file that software made. Don’t ask me why it needs the software. I don’t understand. I contacted the company and they sent me a copy of the software so that I could load the info I needed. Easy peasy. It was like a 12 hour delay. That’s it.

Tax prep software companies usually send returning customers coupon codes for reduced cost on the program. I like saving money.

Bonus: The program I use allows us to use the filing code 5 times. In the past, I have let my parent file with the software I bought. And as my kids get jobs and need to file taxes, I teach them how to use the program to file their taxes using my 5 free codes. LEGACY SELF FILERS!


You’re welcome.