Category: Advice

Frugal Gift Ideas for Important People

Hey, Don’t forget these people!

You know the ones that make your life easier… every day.  Don’t take them for granted!  These are the people:

Postal Worker:  They brave all conditions to bring you bills and junk.  But they also bring you good things too, and hey, don’t blame the messenger.  Postal workers must abide by certain laws in accepting gifts.  The full details are here.  Basically they cannot accept cash, or cash equivalent (that they can exchange for cash) over $20.  And the gift should fit in your mailbox.

Sanitation workers, trash collectors, recycle, etc:  Those garbage people take your heaps of smelly garbage, moldy forgotten science experiments from the back of the fridge, and other too gross to think about things.  If you can’t catch them, try to put the gift on top of the trash can clearly marked so that it is NOT trash.  Also try to do this as close to the time that they arrive so no one will steal it.  If someone does steal it… that karma is on them.

School Bus Drivers:  Every year my grandma sent me out of the house and onto my school bus with a token for the bus driver too.  Driving your kids around is an important job.

Teachers and coaches:  You might think about the school teacher, but, and I might be a little impartial to this, also think of all the other teachers in your child’s life.  The lessons that are taught in the classes your children attend, whether it is dance, karate, fencing, soccer, football, tennis, piano, music… whatever it is, are more than you can ever know right now.  I teach plies, and tendus, but I also teach young minds to critically think about problem solving, and build confidence, morals, and discipline in dance class.  We love your kids almost as much as you do.  Any small token is very much appreciated, even if it is a Christmas card with you and your child telling us thank you.

Landscaper:  I have a guy who comes every week in the summer and every other in the winter.  In Florida, with the bugs, and sun, and heat, and dog poo that I might not see to pick up in my yard… the man deserves a little recognition around the holidays!

First responders:  The police, fire, emts…. they are there when I need them, and that’s enough for me.

Current Military:  Try to find a reputable organization to donate to those that are deployed or overseas, or ask around for a local military family who might need some extra cheer.  It’s hard when your spouse isn’t with you during the holidays, because they are doing a service to benefit others.  Military children, and spouses can use a little magic too.

Veterans:  They did their duty, and they deserve some extra special attention.  Again, ask around.  There are so many veterans around us, we can’t even begin to realize.  A card, a handshake, or a thank you might be all they need.

Daycare, Elder Care, Pet Care:  Anyone that cares for something you consider priceless in your absence needs to be remembered!

Hairdresser, Barber, Manicurist, and anyone else that does a personal service for you.

Neighbors that you feel close to, or would like to build a relationship with.  It’s much better to feel like a community than a street of total strangers.

These are the ideas.  Any of these ideas below would make a great gift for any of the important people above.  Make it personal by including small items for a particular person, or career.

Gallon size ziploc bag stuffed with all kinds of snacks, and trinkets.  What shall you put in?  Think lunchbox style of granola bars, trail mix, small bags of coffee, hot cocoa packets, candy canes, gummies, etc.  Keep it fun, and include a lot of variety.  Other ideas are trial size items like hand lotions, lip balms, perfumes, and tissues.  Make it personal to the recipient.  Include a Christmas card with a handwritten thank you.

Lotto ticket.  Not only are you giving the gift of thoughtfulness, but the anticipation of winning!  The only rule is that you can’t be sour if they win. (Might be a little odd to get a total stranger a lotto ticket, but you do what feels right to you!)

Homemade baked goods, candy, or fudge.  Again, this day and age it may be strange to give a complete stranger something you made.  Make sure they know you a little, or you include your info.

Jar of old fashioned hard candy, jar of mixed nuts, holiday wrapped candy like kisses placed in a glass dish.  You can get pretty glass at Dollar Tree or Thrift stores.  Tie it with a ribbon, and include a gift tag.


Broadway Colors Lip Cream Review

I ran into Dollar General for some eyelashes.  I don’t normally wear them but I had a special occasion to go to, which I’ll explain a bit later.

Husband and I wanted to go to the next stop on our list of errands, but they hadn’t opened yet, and so by him telling me to “take my time” I ended up buying a few lipsticks.  I know, you can hardly believe it.

The brand is one I am not familiar with, but decided to give it a shot after I was so displeased with the Colour Pop lip creams I purchased a while back.

Today’s review is on the Broadway Colors buttery matte lip cream in the shade, Hello, Sunshine.

The product is very affordable, at only $3.  That’s half the cost of the Colour Pop matte lip creams.  I’ve had a hard time going back to lip creams since then.  Those lip products were very drying, and had a chalky, uneven look.

But… I was killing time and that led to lip color purchases.

First, the product states it has mango, shea and cocoa butter in the formula.  The scent is light mango and refreshing.

The wand has a precision tip, which is quite useful.  I was pleasantly surprised that the product was buildable, unlike others that just wipe off more when you try to fill in that pesky spot.  One coat was all I needed to get a nice pigmented color.

And once you have it wiped on your mouth… well it feels comfortable and easily wearable.  I even forgot I had lipstick on at one point.  A dangerous move, as you can easily end up with it wiped clean across your cheek without a helpful friend to point out your faux pas.

Here’s the product before

And here it is right after lunch, a while later

I liked that the product did not bleed, and would only need a slight touch up after eating.

This one is a winner for only $3 at your local Dollar General!

oh yeah, and what did I need the lashes for?  Well I performed at a wedding, alongside my aerial friends, in the lyra and poured champagne during cocktail hour.  Here’s my makeup look for that day:

3 Tips to Easy Winged Eyeliner

Winged Eyeliner….

It’s literally flying everywhere!

Everyone wants it but most panic.

Just do it…. Nike Swoosh… (Hey! come to think of it….Looks a lot like a winged eyeliner.)

Follow my 3 Tips to get you started on your easy winged eyeliner journey (click here or on the photo above to go right to the video) so you can rock that cat eye on the daily if that’s your thing!

I used a .99 Wet N Wild Black eyeliner pencil here.  Go pick one up today, and get your swoosh on!



What I learned during Hurricane Irma

I had a whole play by play of our Hurricane Irma drama typed out, but then I decided that there’s been enough of that.  Let me cut straight to the point…

Hurricane Irma was scary as H E double hockey sticks, and as of typing continues to provide struggles for many families.

Many have faced devastation beyond compare, and my prayers go out to them, and their families.

I choose to look on the bright side of my situation, so here’s my take on the positive aspects of the storm.

During the power outage, I looked at every photo album I own before putting it away.  I had so much fun looking back on memories, and happy moments.  I looked at my grandmother’s and my mother’s childhood photos with new eyes, swooning over their decor, and exclaiming when I realized my great aunt actually owned an aluminum tree.

I got to read a novel.  Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews reminded me of being at the beach and reading chick lit books, dreaming of my prince charming just like the main character in the novel. (Feels nice to know that I found him now)

I was surprised that I didn’t miss the internet, or the cable, but I was worried about using up my batteries for the light, only to read by.  I really didn’t look much at my phone, except to text back to a few people that I was ok, and to call my sister.  The heat was more of a concern to my furbaby, who seemed to acclimate easily after the first day.  (We sat in the car a bit to cool off in the ac, and charge my phone.)

I was also surprised at the outpouring of generosity among my friends here and back in PA.  A friend gave me the key to her home, for me and the furchild to stay there as an option to have a safe, hurricane shutter house to weather the storm in.  Another friend offered me her spare room to power my cell phone and get cooled off a bit because she had power.  And many of my friends and family in PA checked in on us to make sure we were ok.  I am so touched by the wonderful friends I’ve made over the years.

Things are still getting back to normal here.  Until then, try to look for the silver lining, and be grateful for what you have.

Top Ten Thrift Tips: 10 Thrift store shopping tips to adopt

Whether you are a self proclaimed thrift store junkie, or new to the thrift store game and still a bit apprehensive, (see: only poor people thrift shop, every thrift shop is dirty, and other horrible thrift shop stigmas) there are still many tips to be reminded about when browsing and shopping.

Here are my top 10 thrift store tips to keep in mind:

  1. Have a plan:  Especially if you are new to the game, and eager to find savings, this can be an exciting new world of bargain bin items that you might have never known existed.  It’s easy to go a little super market sweepstakes, and gather up everything you think you might want.  But hold your horses there buckaroo.  Narrow your thinking to what you actually need.  Back to school essentials, decor for a specific room, a table with specific measurements….whatever it is, reign it in.  Make a list, and stick to it.

  2. Or not:  “Wait, but I thought you just said….?”  Yes, I told you to reign it in, BUT there can be items to be found when you’re not searching too.  Keep an open mind.  You might find a little gift for someone else, (my favorite thing to do at the thrift store) and a little gift for you by the thrifting gods.

  3. Go Often:  It’s best to go frequently.  Inventory at stores, especially with high volume, have a quick turnover.  If you see it and you like it, truly, get it.  This is when you have to have a hard talk with yourself.  See tip number 6.  But going often will allow you to see the inventory, as opposed to only a sampling of what they have on that given day of the month.

  4. Go on a Monday:  A case of the Mondays might not be the truth for thrift stores.  The most popular day for yard sales is Saturday.  Most people who have just done all the work of a yard sale, want nothing more than to just throw the leftovers in the car, drop it off at a thrift store, and run with their arms flailing back to their car while screaming, “Good Riddance!”  So, most inventory from those yard sales are making their way onto the floor by Monday evening.

  5. Check Everything:  Check, then double check, then do one better than Santa, and check again.  I’ve been a victim to this sooo many times, so heed my warning.  Don’t get all excited, toss that into your cart, and not look at it again until you get home and find there is a big hole, then try to think how you can fix said hole, hoard the item for too long, then toss it.  Sound like I’ve been there?  I have.  Sometimes, I find something I have been looking for, or fall in love with, and we all know that love is blind.  But, you have to take a deep breath, and stop to really examine.  Look everywhere, three times or more.  I know, now I’m adding even more system checks.  Look for holes or stains in clothing, damaged appliances, more wear and tear than you want to deal with or fix, etc.  My elusive pink leather jacket, was found at the Goodwill.  It had something all over the shoulder.  A quick search proved that Leather is pretty hard to treat when it has that kind of damage, so I passed on it.  I’m still on the hunt.  

  6. Will you really?:  Ask it.  Challenge yourself.  Will I really like this piece of clothing tomorrow?  Will I really paint this furniture to match my living room?  Will I really youtube to learn how to rewire a lamp, and have enough confidence in myself that I won’t set my house on fire over a $2 lamp?  If the answer is no, leave it.  Do not pass go, do not look back.  Another question to really ask; Does this item bring me joy?  If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain.

  7. Konmari Method:  One in, one out.  I tend to do some in, and a lot out.  I like the therapeutic feeling of purging a lot of items at once, looking at my massive pile, and either donating or yard selling those items.  If you want to stick to one/one, make a bin somewhere, and when it’s full, donate or sell.  Either way, you must get rid of some in order to keep from outside looking in, as my grandma always said.

  8. Cash is King:  I like to negotiate, but I hate negotiating at a thrift store unless an item is something I really want and is insanely overpriced.  I’ve been honest with store owners before by telling them I could get a new one at the price they have it listed, but would rather support their store.  If you have cash to use, it makes the blow a little less painful for a store that is getting hit with high merchant fees on top of your haggle.  Not many, but some stores out there, are cash only stores.  Inevitably you will find just the thing you need at a cash only store, with zero cash on you.  If you know you will be thrifting, get some cash.

  9. Thrift Kit:  I gave away free swag bags to our first ten thrifters at our first thrift store meetup group this past Saturday.  It contained a thrift kit of items that are helpful to have with you if you are thrifting.  A notebook and pen to jot down your wish list, measurements, or ideas you might get while thrifting for inspiration on other projects.  Socks for trying on shoes in store.  I clean everything before I wear it, thoroughly.  It’s hard when you find a pair of shoes, and don’t want to stick your bare foot in there to try it on.  This is Florida, and most people, myself included, live in sandals.  It’s nice to have a pair of socks in your bag.  Hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean when you are digging through and touching many items.  I also have hand sanitizer in my car for after I touch the gas pump too, so thrift stores shouldn’t get a complex over this.  And gum, for when you need a little boost of refreshment while you are hunting.

  10. Join a community:  You might not have a super awesome person in your community to spearhead a Thrift Store Meetup Group like the lucky residents and visitors of the Space Coast (wink wink) but you can be friendly with the thrift store employees at the store you shop.  Either way it’s nice when you have some connections.  When I’m thrifting, and I find the perfect item for a friend, and it’s super cheap, I’ll pick it up for them as a gift.  Four eyes are better than two, six eyes are better than four, and you get the idea.  Plus store employees will tell you when sales are, when is the best day to come, and maybe even call you to let you know your perfect mid century pink stove just arrived at the store.

You’re a lucky duck if you live in, or visit the Space Coast, and want to join a community of thrift store friends, AND get some extra discounts along the way.  Check out our community of thrift store fanatics.  I have sooo many plans for the future of The Nicolyndime Thrifter’s Group, and I want you to get on board ASAP to take advantage of everything that’s to come.

Seriously, I get the excited butterflies in stomach the morning we are going to Disney feeling when I tell you that this group is created to treat you like royalty.  This group is all about what I love, like free stuff, giveaways, advice, thrift stores (duh) mail swaps, special holiday events, strong communities, charity, spreading kindness, positive vibes, and self care.

So what are you waiting for?  Join the list for free here:

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Happy Planner Update

Remember my Happy Planner Haul post last year?  I was tempted to get a brand new Happy Planner to start using this August.  But frugal living is the main name of my game, sooooo I did the responsible thing and used the 6 month extender I purchased last year.
So the other day it looked like this:
So I decided it was a great time to get to work on my planner.
My Happy Planner is an 18 month planner (July ’16 to Dec ’17), so I purchased a 6 month extension packet to get two full years out of my planner.  It didn’t seem to make much sense to let a few months go to waste, even though I was tempted to get a fancy and cute new planner with the numbers already all filled in for me.
Since my yard was flooding, I began to meticulously put the stickers onto the planner on the appropriate days, using the calendar on my computer as a guide.  It actually went really fast, and though this is plain, I can really spruce it up with stickers and little bits of artwork.  I want to try to make my planner more artistic, as that idea kind of fell to he wayside as I got busier in my life.

But looking at a colorful planner, makes me, well… happy!  So my plan is to collage it a bit, and doodle, and maybe use it as a “smash” journal to add some ideas.  I wanted to do more memory keeping, since I do love going back to see what was going on a year ago on that day!

Did you know that you could purchase this 6 month extension, and save money getting two years out of your planner?  It had stickers for the tabs, full month calendar view, and the individual days.

Shop online craft stores, and be sure to use your coupons, and competitor coupons if you need to purchase an extension, or a new happy planner.
Update to original post:  I still LOVE this Happy Planner.  It has so much space to write in all my lists and ideas, and plenty of space to jazz it up.  It really held up in my purse with some minimal wear to the edges of the cover.  I take it everywhere!  To lighten the load of taking it everywhere, I took out every month leading up to June ’17.


It’s my Anniversary, and a lot can happen in two years.

Photo credit  Max ☢  Foter  CC BY-NC-NDTwo years ago, I came to Florida after a whirlwind of emotion and events in my hometown of Pennsylvania.  I’d never lived anywhere else before.  I’d never been a resident of another state, and I hadn’t much been on my own.  After caring for him for years, and then quite intensively for weeks at home, my father had just passed away.  My father’s side of the family did an about face on me for trying to honor my father’s last wishes.  They aren’t the type of group to have anyone tell them no, so this did not go over well.  I was quickly cast out, even at my father’s funeral.  Despicable, I know, but I was ok because I knew I was doing what was right.  My husband, who was already in Florida for work, quickly made arrangements to come to PA.  While I was sitting in the funeral home making final arrangements, I got a call that my husband was being rushed to the hospital.  Kidney stones… which required a few surgeries!  SO…. we buried my father, had an estate sale, packed up my belongings, all while working around husband’s surgeries.  When all that was done, we prepped for the two day drive to Florida.
With a deep breath, I knew I had a new chapter ahead of me.  I was determined to finally start calling my own shots.
After arriving here, I quickly sent out my press kit, and proudly was hired by a local dance studio within 4 months.  I let my passions and my heart guide the way while making smart judgments with my head.  If it wasn’t good for me, I didn’t do it.  I finally put me first.
It paid off.
From that one moment of making the decision to pursue the best for me, I landed that studio dance job.  Then I landed a job teaching aerial dance.  Then I landed a job teaching children creative dance for a summer.  Then I landed a job teaching at the college level.  Finally, I just spearheaded a dance program for figure skaters at a local ice skating rink.
I’m still going strong.
Last year this time, I was lost in an idea of something I wanted to do.  I put it on a shelf, and focused on all the above stuff.  The other day, the sidelined idea finally clicked… and now I’m pursuing that.
I’ve got other projects in the works too.
There’s a reason the end of something always begins something new.  Sometimes the old junk needs to end, so you can turn your eyes to focus on the new stuff.
Don’t be afraid to state what you want out of life, and don’t ever be afraid to ask yourself if it is good for you… or not.  If it’s not, say no.  It’s really that simple.
I pride myself on my reliability.  I guess that’s why my dad confided in me his last wishes.  If I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it.  You can count on me.  If I can’t do it, there’s a really good reason.  I used to go into a long story about why I couldn’t do something presented to me at the last minute, or used to feel guilty if I had a way to change my schedule by didn’t feel like it last minute.  Now, I don’t.  I am not the world’s superhero, and I do enough.  Know when to say no.  Know when to take a leap of faith.  Know when to close the book, turn the page for the new chapter, and know when to soar.
PS:  The photo posted above was one of the first photos I posted on my blog.  Still an ongoing project, (and aren’t we all?) I found it because I felt the blog marked the beginning of a new path… that started out with my bright pink (power) lipstick.  The pink pathway that I decided to head down has led me to so many great things, and I can’t wait to see what else is around the bend!
PPS:  I do have a few beauty products that I have been trying out … stay tuned!

Things You Should Be Cleaning More Often and You’re Not!

How’s your spring cleaning going?  If you haven’t had a chance yet to join the Nicolyndime Club and get your FREE Spring Cleaning Guide, you should do that now, before I replace the free sign up with something else!  You’ll still get the new content once you’re a member.  I don’t send excessive emails to clog up your inbox… because trust me, I hate that too.
Spring clean hustle graphic
And speaking of clogging up your inbox, I’m checking in today to point out some things you SHOULD be cleaning more often but you’re not, (or ::gasp:: not at all!)
  1.  Laptop:  2 ways to clean.  Cleaning the actual physical laptop.  Using an alcohol prep wipe clean the keys, and mouse area.  Use some screen cleaning towelettes for the screen.  Second way to clean is the inside of the computer.  Go through every file and every area you have on your computer to delete photos, documents, pdfs, etc.  Free up disc space by cleaning out unnecessary files in the control panel.  You can defrag while you’re at it too.
  2. Phone and other handheld devices:  AGAIN:  2 ways,  You should be cleaning your phone often and regularly with an alcohol prep wipe.  Take some time to go through your phone and save photos and videos to another source, so you can free up space on your phone.  It takes a while but I email photos and videos to myself so I can save them.
  3. Pet bowls:  I’m guilty of this one too.  You should be cleaning the bowls once a day with the family dishes.  Our pets deserve clean bowls too!
  4. Toothbrush:  This one is gross to think about, but since you store your toothbrush in the bathroom, your toothbrush is at risk from germs from the potty and mildew.  I have an electric toothbrush, but you can do this with your manual toothbrush also.  About once a week, I take the toothbrush head off, and place it into a shallow small dish, then fill the dish enough to cover the head with peroxide.  If you have a manual toothbrush, just find a small cup to place the brush, bristles side down in.  I leave the brush overnight, and rinse very well in the morning.  I also use an alcohol prep wipe to clean the handle.
  5. Face Brush:  I use the same method to occasionally allow my ultrasonic face brush to foam those small areas that are hard to reach.  On a more frequent basis, I take the brush head off and use some Dawn dish soap on a toothbrush to clean the back and lather up the front with my fingers in order to cut through any dirt, grease, and makeup that may have built up.
  6. Garbage Disposal:  I like to pour baking soda and vinegar down both drains then plug up the sink and fill with hot soapy water.  I allow the baking soda+vinegar to do it’s job, then I rinse it all away with the soapy water, while the disposal runs awhile.  Afterwards, I often follow up with some lemon peel and cold water, while the disposal is running to give an extra fresh boost.
  7. Toilet scrub brush:  In the very least you need to rinse the brush after you use it when you flush the potty after cleaning.  But every once in a while you should also fill a bucket with a diluted bleach water mixture and allow the brush to soak for several minutes.  Use the bleach water to flush down the potty.  If you have a septic system, or want to avoid using bleach, you can use vinegar as a substitute.
  8. Dish cloth, Dish towel, Hand towels:  You can easily sanitize your dish cloth by microwaving it for 2 minutes.  Make sure it’s damp.  You should also clean hand towels and dish towels every few days.  Most people don’t wash their hands properly, so bacteria can be transferred to towels.  Towels tend to be moist, where bacteria LOVE to breed quickly.  Get a few more hand towels so you won’t have to throw a load of laundry together just to have fresh towels!
  9. Bath Pouf/ Loofah:  You wouldn’t use a wash cloth over and over so why would you do the same with that mass of netting hanging in your shower?  Same goes for your loofah, that has all those little holes just harboring mold and bacteria.  Use the diluted bleach or vinegar method for the potty brush, and do the same with your loofah, and/or pouf.  Rinse VERY well and thoroughly when finished!
  10. Makeup:  Including brushes!  This is not a science experiment, and you certainly don’t want it on your face.  Using an alcohol prep wipe, frequently wipe down the outsides of the containers of makeup, and wash your brushes with a brush shampoo, or Dawn dish soap in a pinch.  Remember to let everything air dry thoroughly.  Replace makeup that has changed color, consistency or scent.  You already know you shouldn’t be storing that makeup stash in the bathroom…. RIGHT?!
Once you look at your home, and your environment from a deep clean perspective, you will find many more places that you should be cleaning more often.
Do you have any tips, advice, tricks, or areas that you discovered you need to clean more frequently?  Please share them below, or on the Nicolyndime Facebook page!

Happy Cleaning!!!!


Perk up, Buttercup. Self motivation conversations to… well, yourself.


Last Wednesday I had a bad day.  It started out innocently enough, but I was depleted in the energy bank, and feeling rundown.  I popped an echinacea, and started my busy day.  I was off to teach a private lesson, then to another spot to perform in the silks and lyra.  I underestimated my pale nature in the heat of the Florida sun.  Hanging upside down, while spinning, in the heat for a few hours further depleted me.  I wasn’t done yet.  I was off to teach aerial and dance classes later on, and by this point I just wanted to lay down and take a nap.
Because of my loopy nature, I hit my head on the lyra after hanging it, which made my already splitting headache feel good for a second as it took my mind off the dull aching pain that I was trying to ignore.  I mottled through that class, and actually was embarrassed at how off my game I was.  I really strive to make every class worthwhile for my students.
Later that night, after making it home driving with only one eye, a blinding present migraine clouding the vision in the other eye, I lay on the couch trying to get the pain to stop.  Drifting in and out of sleep, I had anxiety dreams about the horrible, horrendous, no good class I taught that I was sure no one would ever return for ever again!
The next day I woke up feeling pretty down about myself.  Then I decided to perk up.  I decided to make a plan for myself, and set out to draw up some ideas to better my teaching, and myself.
It’s important to remind ourselves that we all have bad days, and days where, because we are humans and not robots, we won’t be feeling at the top of our game.  But your mindset allows you to stop that chain of bad vibes and to abruptly put an end to the thoughts that are haunting and clouding your judgement about how awesome you can be.
Remember to perk it up, buttercup, whenever you’re feeling low down and not so good about something.  Put a plan into effect to change it right quick.  Go out and be awesome!!!!


Welcome Spring, The Spring Cleaning Hustle

Spring clean hustle graphic

Today’s post is about welcoming spring by reminding you that now is the time to do some work!  Seriously is the work ever done!?  No, it’s not.  And that’s why you need some help.

I’ve created “The Spring Clean Hustle” to help you get your cleaning and organization under control in about 4 weekends.

It’s not going to be easy, and anyone who sells it as such is a liar liar pants on fire.

You actually need to do the work!  BUT, with helpful guides, cleaning tips, and a plan to follow, you won’t be running around from room to room doing more steps than work!

All you have to do is sign up to become an email subscriber in the Nicolyndime Club.  It’s free, plus you’ll get other great information throughout the year.  This is only the beginning!!!