Playing Many Parts

10 Ways to Earn a Little In Your Empty Nest

clocks-nickWhen you are an Empty Nester, one of the things that is so overwhelming, at least for me, is the amount of free hours I now have on nights and weekends.  I can bathe, feed and exercise myself quickly and then often have several hours of free time to fill.  I have passions, dreams, things I want to do and places I want to go, so how to create the extra money so I can do those things?  I have developed a small list of services mostly that I can provide quickly to my friends, neighbors and community.  Here are my go-to quick money makers that also make me happy and give me a sense of purpose.

1.  Dog walking and sitting.  Since I have to walk my dog daily, I can advertise on Craigslist or in the paper that I will do this for others for a small fee.

2.  Child sitting.  If you really like and miss having kids around, why not offer your time helping a mom with small children?  And ad in the paper advertising your free time and experience may get you more jobs than you can handle.

3.  Writing.  You can write an article about parenting, cooking, cleaning or whatever.  You could offer guest blog posts, contact you community paper, or submit articles to one of your favorite magazines.

4.  Cleaning Service.  Are you a great home cleaner or organizer?  Why not put out the feelers to see if there are people interested in your help in this area?  Again, Craigslist and your local newspaper are great resources.

5.  Musical Instrument Lessons.  My kids could always find people who wanted to learn to play whatever instrument they were mastering at any given time.  My son taught drum lessons to kids one summer and my daughter was always giving private flute lessons, do you play an instrument?  Piano lessons are harder and harder to find.

6.  Math/Tech/Science/English Lessons.  Put all those hours your spent helping your kids with their homework to good use now.  You probably have several good years of experience helping kids and teens learn everything from basic math to Algebra and even Reading.  Offer you skills to a school or youth center near your home.

7.  Sports tutoring.  Are you a former tennis champ?  Play basketball for 4 years on your high school team?  Did you play soccer or star on the volleyball team?  Lots of kids can’t afford expensive sports camp in the summer, but they may be able to pay for a few private lessons from someone who loves their sport.

8.  Baking or Cooking Classes.  Do you love to cook certain foods or bake cakes or pies?  You could offer classes online, at your library, or at a local craft store.  You of course could try Craigslist and your newspaper again, but try to think of audiences and places where people gather who may need your help.

9.  Housewife Training.  I know when I was a young mother and wife I had no idea how to organize my life in a way that made it easy to get all the house work, kid work, and spouse work done.  Could you offer articles, services or advice somewhere to young women who are just starting out?

10.  Financial Advice.  Are you a genius at finding, keeping and making money?  Could you write or talk about that?    Is there a local business or group who would love to have you come in and show others how to do that through chats or classes?

These are really simple ideas that you can work on and develop further.  The internet is full of sites that can help you gain a larger audience once you have chosen your niche and are ready to share.  Enjoy, have fun, and send out all that knowledge you developed over many years of hard work raising great kids!


10 Ways to Beat Empty-Nest Blues

Chicks are Cute

Chicks are Cute

My chicks are gone. . .and I have an empty nest.  I don’t mind too much most of the time, but there are days when I get sad and then confused by what my new role in life is.  On those days when nostalgia threatens to darken my mood, I have found a few ways to punch it in the nose and do an about face to get my mood back on the happy track.  Here are some of my tips for remembering how awesome life is no matter where my children are.

1.  Explore old hobbies.  I used to play tennis in high school and love it.  It also helped me keep fit, so I am picking up my racket once again and re-teaching myself to play.

2.  Learn new hobbies.  I always wanted to learn to play the piano.  I am going to do that now, a bit at a time.  I haven’t decided yet how I will do this, so if you have suggestions please let me know.

3.  Read.  I love to read, but often felt guilty when my kids were younger taking time away from them to read fiction.  I now find I have plenty of hours in the day for TV, so I am turning that trap off and reading all those books I meant to years ago.

4.  Take online classes.  I absolutely love online courses.  I can learn about everything from Math to French Cooking through online courses.  I have signed up for free classes and have paid for some too and have enjoyed both.  I took a class on Science Fiction from the University of Michigan and a class on web design from Udemy.

5.  Start an exercise routine.  Now is definitely the part of my life where I can carve out time to get fit before it is too late.  All those TV hours can at least be put to use even if I can’t totally give up my guiltiest pleasure.  I can do plenty of situps, pushups, planks and jumping jacks while catching up on the last season of The Good Wife.

6.  Work on eating healthier.  Since I am only cooking for two now, I am finding it much easier to try new recipes with strange ingredients like kale, brussels sprouts and edamame.

7.  Adopt a pet.  I never thought adopting a dog from the shelter could be so amazing.  There are so many reasons why this is a great idea, but the top two are I now have someone I can still mother, and I have a walking buddy who can’t wait to go outside and get some exercise with me!

8.  Make new friends of all ages.  I have found that spending time with friends from some of my community groups of different ages has kept me feeling younger.  It is awesome to hear the opinions of younger women and I love hearing how older women are redefining themselves as they age.

9.  Watch stand-up comedy.  Laughter is just good medicine.  If you don’t believe me, Google it.  I have also found that in addition to making me laugh and smile, comedy routines are a fun way to keep up with all that crazy stuff that is happening in the world.  Even if the spin is a bit odd sometimes.

10.  Write a book.  Every woman has enough material for a book by the time she has an empty nest.  Childhood and teen years are awkward, funny, crazy times for kids and their parents.  I bet you have plenty of stories to tell that will be very entertaining to others who have similar experiences. . .maybe you can even be that stand-up comic from #9!

That’s it for now, my kinda “tongue-in-cheek” list of things to try if you are having a hard time adjusting to life at home without your kids.  I would love to hear back from you with fun ways to remind yourself that you used to be an entirely different person before your life was turned upside down by kids!

A New Addiction – Embroidery

I found a new hobby/addiction. . .Embroidery! I have decided to spend the next year really working on all of my creative skills, especially sewing and needle work. I had planned to really get into knitting and crocheting, but a book I checked out of the library started with embroidery so I did too.

A quick Google search for other enthusiasts brought hours of enjoyment, and my first project. The creator intended this to be a quilt block, but I was anxious to make a bag to carry all of my new embroidery tools in, so I made my own project. On to a new one now. . .

Diversions – Sewing Machine Cover

I am still planning away on my bedroom makeover, but I did embrace a little diversion this weekend to finish a project that actually needed to get done.

When I bought my Target special sewing machine last spring, it came without a dust cover of any sort and I have noticed that when dust gets in the bobbin case and on the thread I do have issues. . .so it was time to invest or sew. . . of course I decided to sew 🙂

I bought the ADORABLE Michael Miller Pet Deer fabric from my new friend over at Lucky Kaeru Fabric that I was dying to use, so when I came across these instructions, I decided to give it a try.  I think it turned out ok.  I am not crazy about the two fabrics together, and sort of wish I had gone with one fabric, but it was fun to work out the corners on the cover and it was certainly an easy project to knock out quickly in a night.   Now that I look again, I think I will go back and add the optional pocket on in the brown fabric. . .I will get more of my lovely deers in that way!

Cafe Thursday – First Purse!

So I finished my first handmade purse for DD this past weekend.  It took a bit longer than it should have, but still it was pretty much a weekend project and I am quite certain that the next one will go even faster.


I picked up the latest edition of Quilts and More to feed my latest passion and one of the first projects listed was this adorable purse.  I checked with DD to make sure she would even want one, and she assured me that any purse would be fine with her, but one in her favorite colors would be most appreciated.

I had so much fun picking out the fabric, ric-rac and webbing for the shoulder strap that I was in JoAnn’s for hours.  In the end I probably spent about $15 on this, but I have enough fabric, webbing and thread left over to make several more purses.  I will have to use different decorations, but then that is half the fun anyway.

My next purse project will be a bit bigger and will have a matching fabric strap.  If I had made a fabric strap on this purse I could have also saved money.  I also could have used some leftover fabric and saved more, or even used some old clothes and saved more. . .the options are endless. . .

Just Sewing Away

I love my new sewing machine.  My projects have a LOOONNNGGG way to go before they are a thing of beauty, but I sure am having fun decorating and planning outfits to sew.bench

My latest project was to recover a piano bench cushion that my mother-in-law made a long time ago to match her decor.  My pad is not nearly as neat and crisp as hers was, but then again, it is better looking than I expected and now matches my own curtains.  You will also see in this little picture a view of my new little sewing machine. . .oh what a joy it is!matchingcurtains

Finished Project – Pajamas

First_outfitI finished my first outfit!  Ok, so I couldn’t possibly wear it out in public, that is ok, I finished my first hand sewn outfit and I really like it.  I hope that next year I will look back and laugh at my silly attempts because I will have graduated to more challenging projects, but for now I am quite happy to have simply finished something other than curtains.

I used the Butterick B3314 pattern (on sale today no less) and found it pretty easy to follow.   Although I will admit to having quite a bit of trouble with the shorts, until I looked around online and found this helpful little tutorial.  I just couldn’t see quite how to attach those legs and do the crotch seam.  But once I navigated that hurdle, the shorts were quite easy to finish.

The shirt, well, I took one of my favorite shirts, added about an inch, and traced around it.  I then sewed it up, without pinning it.  Yes, my greatest challenge in sewing will be taking the time to pin and measure and do things right.  So naturally, my stitches were a bit crooked and I had trouble in a few spots with my thread, so I added the ribbon that you see around the arms and neck…and walla…problem solved.  I do like this sewing thing!

Only one remaining question.  I will have to ask around and see how other people address the cutting of the paper though, because now that I have cut the pattern for shorts, I can no longer use it to make pants unless I tape the paper back together.  I guess I can do that, but knowing me, I will never end up with a straight leg again and will no doubt end up with very strange looking pajama long pants.

Next Project – Pajamas


Ok, I am posting this to push myself to actually work on this project tonight.

As a reward for a very difficult week I

went out last night and purchased the materials for new PJs.  Below is a picture of the soon to be jammies. . .I hope to post a finished product tomorrow or Monday.  They are a birthday present to myself, and I am quickly running out of time!

Fun New Detective Series – by Joanne Fluke

cccmurderThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is a fun book that came highly recommended, and free, from a friend. I don’t think I would have picked it up off the shelf, because I am ashamed to admit that I often base my book buying decisions on the cover art, and this one is sadly lacking.  It is a quick, easy read that is entertaining on a couple of levels.

I am still trying to decide if I liked the mystery or the included recipes best.  I really appreciate the main character, Hannah Swensen, as she is a strong, independent small business owner.  Hannah is not intimidating or overwhelming, and is therefore very believable as a main character from a small town.  Both the strong tie to the setting, Minnesota in this case, and the relationship between Hannah and her mother had me remembering my first Stephanie Plum mystery.  I haven’t tried any of the cookie recipes that were included throughout the book, but I do have plans to do so this weekend and will report back with pictures and a full review then.

For now, if you are looking for a cozy mystery to read at the beach or poolside, I would recommend this one for a quick and easy read.

Newest Hobby – Sewing

A friend invited me along to the craft store on Saturday, as she got a new sewing machine for Christmas and is finally getting around to starting a project.  After two hours dreaming of all the clothes we would sew and all the money we would save by doing this, we both walked away a bit terrified and a little excited.

I am a realist, I know that I will probably never finish the skirt I really want to try, but my friend is more optimistic so she walked away with a pattern and fabrice for a dress, a shirt and a beach cover-up.  I was excited and surprised though to see all the great patterns (many of which were on sale at my local JoAnn Fabric this weekend) and all of the adorable cloth out there.  I have ideas grand and simple flying around in my head this week if I can just calm down long enough to reteach myself to sew.  It would probably help if I had a machine of my own, but DH says it is best to go to my friends and use hers until I have at least one sucessful project under my belt.  He is right. . but here’s hoping my new hobby will remain as exciting once my skirt is finished!