Popsicle Stick Dolls

Guest blogger here, Steph Low – proud sister in law to the other Stephanie…Patino!  While Mrs. Patino takes a brief break from her blogging duties, I thought I would throw this out there for the world wide web to see!

Just a quick little tutorial on adorable popsicle stick dolls!

I originally found the idea on Pinterest and really they are pretty much the same as the ones I found, but I went wild and made dozens of them!!  I have gifted them, lost many of them, made ones to look like neighbor kids I know…  I even have one for each member of my family!  Next I plan on making one for members of our extended family – grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.

My three year old daughter loves them!  But my little one year old does too, just taking them out of their jar and making a mess with them is a thrill!  Heck, even my six year old boy loves to play with them!

I use the thicker popsicle sticks from Michael’s, and washi tape but I think good old fashioned markers and crayons and colored pencils would do the trick just right!  Or even colored paper, cut down to size and mod podged on. get creative.  You can now find washi tape at office supply stores, Michael’s and even Wal-Mart!  I started my collection years ago and was paying twice as much and could only find them online.  So go hunt for some and start your collection!


IMG_8724I chose a few colored pencils that resemble hair color.  Grabbed a few colors I thought would look nice as “clothing” and just went for it!








Draw a face and hair and then strap some tape on it!










































IMG_8750 IMG_8749






Over the time that I have been making these I have lost so many of them!  But this is what I have left!  I love my little stick doll fashionista army!



Chalkboards Gallore!

My sister-in-law and I have been making chalkboards!  Her sister is getting married in June of this year and she is going with a rustic type of theme for her reception.  But…She is on a BUDGET!  That’s where we come in!

There are a ton of “how-to” tutorials on chalkboard making out there and in the past when I have considered making one, I felt overwhelmed by which method to try.  Kinda like when you want to make a dish you have never tried and look up a recipe only to find literally THOUSANDS of different variations of the same thing!

So I decided to just sort of wing it!  I went to Micheal’s (because somehow it seemed easier to go to with kids in tow than Lowe’s or Home Depot!) and found that Martha Stewart has a line of chalkboard paint that comes in a few colors for about $8 each.  A greyish beige – greige, black, blue and I think there was even a clear one (didn’t occur to me till now that you could probably paint over anything with that clear one and make it a chalkboard!  Maybe I will try it next!)

I got traditional black per the bride’s request!  Then I went to my local thrift store!  I found two pieces, the first a long framed print of some super ugly 80’s style fish painting for $3; and the second was an adorable wood cutout for $2.  The third piece you will see is an old serving tray that I was given – so it was free!

Ok so here goes!  No prep work (OK, well I did clean everything first…), no real explanations, no choices – I just went for it!

Bottle of paint, foam wedge paint “brush” and the three different future chalkboards

The first coat of paint went on and I was nervous, second coat, still nervous!  You can see just how streaky (did I just make a word?) that it is!









By the third coat it is starting to look better!









Fourth, even better!









And finally I did one more coat for good measure and finished off the frame with plain acrylic black paint.









Here are my three finished products!





















All done with one bottle of paint!  I may use regular black acrylic paint for the first few coats next time to save some money, then do the last few coats in the chalkboard paint and see how that works.  But for winging it, they turned out pretty amazing!  I do already have one scratch through to the original surface on the serving tray chalkboard, so I will give it another coat or two.  But that is just part of the learning process!  Better than wadding through all of the thousands of tutorials online!!!

Now I am looking at everything as a potential chalkboard!

DIY New Years Decorations Continued

Happy New Years EVE! Need things to do to keep you up until midnight? Here are some more great DIY decorations to ring in the New Year!

nye9I had pine cones sitting around left over from my Christmas decorations. We actually found these on a walk so they were free. I Sruced them up for the New Year by adding some silver and gold to match my theme.

nye7nye8 I used very inexpensive materials. The glue from the 99 cent store and the same 4oz bottle of glitter from Walmart that I used for my bottles. I painted the tips of the pine cone with the glue. I did the top and sides so when you look at it straight on you see the glitter as much as from a top view.





You have to have some sparkle on your wall right? These are not only full of sparkle, but they don’t look cheesy and make for a classy New Year feel.




I had a spare canvas lying around, but I wanted more than one to go on my wall, so what did I do? I Painted a shoebox lid white! It took a couple coats of paint to cover the print completely with white, but if you use a different color you could get away with using less paint. So here is how to make these awesome decorations.

nye11nye12You take your canvas (or shoebox lid) and use painters tape to cover the areas you want to keep glitter free. Next you paint glue all over (once again I used the glue from the 99 cent store). Once the glue is spread, you sprinkle on the glitter. I used the same 4oz bottle of glitter I used for all the other crafts. So believe me, you do NOT need a huge bottle of glitter. When the glue is dry (I waited at least an hour. It wasn’t 100% dry, but dry enough not to smear) you peel off the tape and viola! A beautiful wall decoration!

DIY New Years Decorations

So Christmas is over, you have ribbons from gifts, candy left over from stockings, and empty bottles from Christmas dinner. What now? DECORATE FOR NEW YEARS!

Although Christmas decorations are so festive, some people like to change it up for New Years. No sweat if you are on a budget. After all, you just spent a lot on Christmas.  Here are some tips and tricks to decorate on a budget for New Years:

nyeAs for those empty bottles from Christmas dinner I simply covered them in glitter and turned them into a beautiful centerpiece!

nye2nye3I used an empty Martinelli’s bottle for mine. Different sized bottles would look cute too. Don’t worry about taking the labels off because it will be covered anyway. I simply covered the bottle in glue that I bought from the 99 cent store and glitter. The glitter I used was from Walmart and was the cheapest I could find. It was a 4oz bottle of glitter and I used about half of it. It was quick, easy, and they turned out so cute! Great way to upcycle.

nye4A week after Christmas and you still have candy lying around. For my silver and gold color scheme the candy wrappers look so pretty on display! The glass I purchased from Dollar Tree and the candy was left over from Christmas. I have children, so I didn’t have a LOT of candy left, but I was determined to make it work so here is my little trick:

nye5I used a gold ornament as a filler! It matched my colors and made it appear more full.

nye6My family always kept the tree up through New Years. I love having the lights on while we wait until midnight. Although the tree is staying up, I changed the decorations. I took down our ornaments and wrapped the tree in silver and gold! Silver tinsel and gold ribbon make the tree look beautiful and matched the other decorations.

A great tip for decorating for New Years is that most stores sell Christmas decorations at clearance prices the next day. If there is anything you may need, it is a good place to start. Though most of my decorations I already had, you can easily purchase decorations, treats, and more at rock bottom prices!

Tis The Season

The whole point of my blog is about living in San Diego on a budget. I plan out what I am going to post. With the holidays upon us, I was thinking up holiday themed ideas. Gifts to make, places to see, and treats to make. I was determined to show others that the holidays can be enjoyed without spending a lot. Well, tonight I was caught off guard and have another ‘tip’ to add, that will help bring the holiday spirit without costing you anything. It can’t be bought, made, or wrapped but it can be enjoyed all year round.

Any guesses? Here is one of my favorite poems by Reba McEntire to help you figure it out:

It happened one day near December’s end
Two neighbors called on an old friend
And they found his shop so meager and lame
Made gay with a thousand bows of green
And Conrad was sittin’ with face ashined
When he suddenly stopped as he stiched a twine
And he said “Oh friends at dawn today
When the cock was crowin’ the night away
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said ‘I’m comin’ your guest to be.’
So I’ve been busy with feet astir
And strewin’ my shop with branches of fir
The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined
Now I’ll wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear His step
As He nears my humble place
And I’ll open the door and look on His face”
So his friends went home and left Conrad alone
For this was the happiest day he’d known
For long since his family had passed away
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas day
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best
So he listened with only joy in his heart
And with every sound he would rise with a start
And look for the Lord to be at his door
Like the vision he’d had a few hours before
So he ran to the window after hearin’ a sound
But all he could see on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby begger who’s shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn
But Conrad was touched and he went to the door
And he said “You know, your feet must be frozen and sore
I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that’ll keep you warmer too”
So with grateful heart, the man went away
But Conrad noticed the time of day
And wondered what made the Lord so late
And how much longer he’d have to wait
When he heard a knock he ran to the door
But it was only a stranger once more
A bent ol’ lady with a shawl of black
With a bundle of kindlin’ piled on her back
She asked for only a place to rest
But that was reserved for Conrad’s great guest
But her voice seemed to plead “Don’t send me away
Let me rest for awhile on Christmas day”
So Conrad brewed her a steamin’ cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup
But after she left he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slippin’ away
And the Lord hadn’t come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he’d misunderstood
When out of the stillness he heard a cry
“Please help me, and tell me where am I!”
So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before
It was only a child who’d wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas day
Again, Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad
But he knew he should make the little girl glad
So he called her in and he wiped her tears
And quieted all her childish fears
Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door
He knew the Lord was not comin’ today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away
So he went to his room and he knelt down to pray
And he said “Dear Lord, why did You delay?
What kept You from comin’ to call on me?
For I wanted so much Your Face to see”
When soft in the silence, a voice he heard
“Lift up your head, for I kept my word
Three times my shadow crossed your floor
And three times I came to your lonely door
I was the begger with bruised, cold feet
And I was the woman you gave somethin’ to eat
I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked and three times I came in
And each time I found the warmth of a friend
Of all the gifts love is the best
And I was honored to be your Christmas guest.”

For a while now I have been thinking of ways to make this season special to me. I love looking at Christmas lights and listening to music, and yes, wrapping presents and baking treats are always enjoyable. Though I have been enjoying this time of year, I still felt I could do more to make it special.

As my husband and our kids were heading to dinner I recognized an acquaintance of mine walking home with her son with a lot of bags and looking rather down. We must have circled my block three times. Each time wrestling with the thought of asking her if she needed help. I sent my husband to see if she was okay. He came back and said she was fine. We circled the block once more and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to help her. So, we parked and I found her and invited her and her son into our apartment.

As her son played with my kids, and while my husband was sneaking around cleaning, I gave her my attention as she poured out her troubles. It amazes me how a little gestures can do so much for someone.  By the time she left she was smiling. There wasn’t much I could do to solve her troubles, but lending an ear brought her comfort.

This has made my Christmas so much brighter. Let us strive to make this season special for everyone. Christ knew the way to be truly happy and that is by serving others. There is so much you could do! Visit nursing homes, go caroling, secretly leave goodies on a doorstep, volunteer at a kitchen or shelter, give blankets or jackets to the homeless. It is the season of giving. So let’s give what we can and make this a special holiday for those who might not be able to make it special on their own.

I am sorry this isn’t about a craft or a yummy treat, but I had to share this great tip on making the season wonderful. Share your wonderful Christmas experiences in the comments, I would love to hear about them! Have a very merry Christmas everyone!

Win A Drawing by Stephanie Low


1461828_10201786959809978_2081036632_nWinner will be announced via Facebook today at 5 p.m. PST. Simply comment on any blog post and you could win! Make sure to like my Facebook page to see if you won! Want a sneak peak at the prize? Check it out! She is almost finished and it looks AMAZING!


Big thanks to Stephanie for giving away her work! Make sure to check out her etsy shop for more great pieces!

DIY Decorative Letters

Christmas is just around the corner, money is tight, and you still need gifts. No worries!  This quick, easy, and money saving gift idea is sure to please. Michaels craft store has a dollar section. In that dollar section I found cardboard letters.


I needed an “L” but all I could find was “F”. If you can’t find the letter you need, there is a fix for MOST letters. For my situation, I simply cut off part of the “F” to make an “L”.


Instant “L”! You can make an ‘F’ out of an ‘R’ or ‘P’, ‘C’ from a ‘Q’ or ‘O’, ‘R’ to a ‘P’, etc. Once my letter was the actual letter I needed I taped the end of yarn to any part and started wrapping! Do not be discouraged if your first layer of yarn doesn’t cover every part. The simple ‘L’ design used three layers to cover everything. To finish up with the yarn, simply cut and tuck the end piece in the back. Then the fun begins. Also in the dollar section at Michaels I found paper flowers.

yl3The flowers add such a nice touch. You can have it match the recipients home decor or simply use holiday colors! These adorable letters are quick, easy and so much fun! Because I had the yarn already, they only cost me $2 each! You can use any color or texture of yarn, or if you don’t have yarn lying around, you can paint the letter and decorate with whatever you have around your house. Stickers, stick on jewels, beads, or use sharpies to decorate! Whatever your style is, these letters can be a great ‘go-to’ gift idea.

Candy Cane Court

Holiday fun in San Diego doesn’t need to cost a lot. Check out this awesome group of houses that are full of Holiday Cheer!


A street in Poway, San Diego is so full of the Christmas spirit that they can’t contain it! Lights are every where and each house is so unique and amazing! The kids have a blast getting to run around and see all there is to see. Some houses have a heater or fire rings in their driveways for you to warm up. It does get a little chilly (or so we San Diegans think) so bundle up and sipping some hot chocolate while you walk may be fun too. The only thing missing from this is music. If you have a music app on your phone, just choose the holiday station and turn up the volume. I’m sure the other on lookers would enjoy the music too.







The community has come together to bring us this spectacular treat! Many houses have even created ‘photo-booth’ type display for you to capture this magical visit. These are just two of the photo areas, but there are more. The lights start early enough in December that you can take cute pictures in time for your Christmas cards.


No matter where in San Diego you live or are visiting, there is a community like this near you! Click here to find Holiday lights near you! Whether as a family or a date for two, this is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.


Abstract Feather Art


il_570xN.526273545_6touOne of my favorite artists is Stephanie Low. Her abstract art is so elegant and full of beauty! Everything from her wispy feathers to blooming flowers are simply gorgeous. Need a one of a kind design for a wedding invite, birth announcement, or even a tattoo design?   She can do custom orders and is reasonably priced. She can be contacted via her etsy shop and make sure to check out her shop for new pieces!

Visit the Slow Designs Etsy Shop

Do you like what you see? Would you like to own work by Stephanie Low for free? Simply comment on any post and you could win a 5×7 drawing! Winner will be contacted via facebook so make sure to ‘Like’ my page : Mrs. Mama Mockingbird

Winner will be contacted by Monday December 16th 2013.

Simple DIY Christmas Wreath


 My husband and I love the smell of pine during Christmas. We both grew up with real Christmas trees. Our first Christmas together money was really tight and my brother was kind and gave us his artificial tree. We were so happy to have a tree, but we still missed the smell of pine. My husband remembered his parents always cut the bottom branches off their tree each year. We brought the branches home and made a wreath that filled our apartment with the wonderful scent we missed! It has become an annual tradition. One day in December I come home to find pine branches ready to become wreaths. It’s a simple and inexpensive tradition and way to decorate my home.


The most simple wreath is a twig wreath.

cwFirst you need to acquire branches and cut them to the size of wreath you desire

cw2you will place branches with the needles facing out. I alternate left and right to ‘hide’ the ends of the branches.

cw3Once you have the desired size, you simply tie a knot with the ribbon you want to use for your bow

cw4To finish it, simply tie a bow! I hang this type of wreath above my front door, but it can also be used as a centerpiece for your dinning room table. For a more festive look you can add bells, tinsel, pine cones, or holiday flowers. Get Creative!