Simple Steps

Voice Lessons in Chesapeake, Virginia

by Laura on September 1, 2014

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Since 2007 I have been teaching private voice and piano lessons in the Hampton Roads area (between coupon classes of course).  This past year I took a breather and only had one lovely piano student and two lovely voice students who have put up with me trying new teaching material on them.

I am ready to begin teaching again and wanted to be sure my local readers know in case you or your children are interested in voice or piano!  I will only take a few new students and they must be 10 or older.

I teach in the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake or for an additional fee I can come and teach in your home.  My base cost is $20 for a half hour lesson and students are expected to take one lesson a week during the school year (with the exceptions of normal school breaks).

I am also available to do short term lessons if you have an audition coming up or just want a little extra feedback for singing in church or school.

If you are interested contact me and I can send you my qualifications and answer any additional questions you might have!

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


I Am An Artist

by Laura on August 15, 2014

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One day this week I stopped by my sister’s house to bring her lunch.  We both have this BBQ Chicken Salad we love so I was a good big sister and took her one.  I was sitting next to my nephew who was drawing in his notebook (which we got for $.01 at OfficeMax last week.)

He looks up at me, quietly says “I am an artist” and goes back to coloring.

Those words gave me a serious flashback to a seminar a few years ago at a blogger convention (yep we have those).  The speaker opened with something like this:

“How many of you are artists?  Raise your hand.”  I was one of maybe five people who raised our hands.

Then he asked “if this room was full of four and five year old boys and girls, how many of them do you think would raise their hands?”  We laughed collectively, realizing that the answer was probably all of them.

That moment has given me pause several times over the last 24 months.  What is it that happens to our self-esteem as we get older?  When do we become so worried about how other people judge us we quit worrying about being true to ourselves?  When did another person’s success turn US into a failure?

Maybe these aren’t issues you deal with but I do every day.  With my business, my art, my weight and my life.  I am always watching to see how I stack up to others.

My nephew doesn’t look at the work of Picasso, Rembrandt or Asher and think it takes away his ability to be an artist.  They can all be artists together.  In his four year old heart he knows there is limitless potential.

I am currently in rehearsals for a new show and I am so proud of the work I am doing.  The cast is amazing.  The material is stellar.  It’s a more mature show than I typically do and I have welcomed the chance to really develop my acting chops.  For the first time in my acting life I also have some fight scenes.  My poor scene partner has taken a beating as we have figured out every fall, twist and turn (although so far I am the only one who has shed blood- it turns out having someone ALMOST poke your eye out leaves a mark).

Tonight I went to a movie and watched some incredible fight scenes.  Instead of appreciating the skill and flexibility of the actors it just made me feel inadequate about my own work.  It made me wonder if we need to go back and make something more complicated.  Maybe ours isn’t good enough because it isn’t as good as someone who got paid millions of dollars for a movie.

In two minutes pride turns to fear of being inadequate.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I know most of my readers probably have something inside of them they want to express.  Maybe it’s to sing a song in church.  Maybe it’s that book idea that you are scared to put on paper.  Maybe it’s auditioning for community theater or trying out for a sports team.  Maybe it’s painting or sculpture or sewing.

We don’t create enough.  We exist.  We begin our days with a list of things to get done before going back to bed.

My challenge to you is this: MAKE something.  DO something.  TRY something.  Don’t let potential failure or someone else’s success keep you from an experiment in creativity or risk.

If you fail, you know you tried.

Imagine what could happen if you succeed.

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


A Monk, A Vow of Silence and Burning Toast

by Laura on July 14, 2014

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When I was in graduate school I had the unique opportunity to live with monks for a week in a Mojave Desert Abbey.

I’ll wait while you read that again.

It was an incredible experience and I have many stories but the funniest is the story of the burning toast.

Joshua Tree

The whole abbey was surrounded by Joshua Trees.  I had never seen one except for on a U2 album cover!

At this particular Abbey they have a practice where you spend a good portion of your day in silence.  After the last service of the evening, which I believe was around 9 p.m. there is no more speaking until after breakfast the next morning.  It allows for self-reflection and also a chance to be more aware of what is going on around you.

It also allowed some people in our class to go absolutely mad.  It’s pretty much 12 hours of your day with no talking at all.  No thanking someone when they open a door for you.  No singing in the shower.  No radios or music playing.  They even have someone from the Abbey who goes through in the morning and rings a bell when it’s time to get up (for the first service) so that no one has to use an alarm clock and creates an artificial noise.  Some of my more tech savvy extroverted classmates went bonkers.

Room At The Abbey

This was my little room at the Abbey.  

Honestly I found it very refreshing.  It was easier for me to wind down and go to bed without having a big conversation.  Some components were strange but for the most part I liked it.

The weirdest thing was breakfast.  You couldn’t talk at all during breakfast.  (Actually you didn’t talk during lunch either but that’s another post.)

Think for a moment about what it’s like when you sit at a big long table with lots of people to eat.  Picture a big Thanksgiving.  Generally it’s incredibly noisy- people shouting over each other to be heard, clanging of spoons against bowls and just general noise.  Let’s say that 5 people down from you is Uncle Frank.  And in front of Uncle Frank is the syrup.  If you want it you just yell at Uncle Frank and ask him to pass the syrup.

Now imagine you can’t speak.  But you still want the syrup.  We spent three days figuring out a system.

So the last morning we are at breakfast.  My 20 classmates and I have gotten REALLY good at making eye contact and somehow communicating things like “pass the butter.” (It’s amazing what you can figure out when you can’t talk.)  Each morning there was a cart put out with bread, bagels, butter and jam.  While they served an incredible hot breakfast some people did prefer something simple. Additionally a few of the monks only ate bread and water on certain days and seemed to prefer if they were eating something plain they would like for it to be toasted.

This last morning one of the older monks puts bread in the toaster and walks off.  It has been cooking for about 30 seconds when smoke starts billowing out of the toaster.  It really was ALOT of smoke for two slices of bread.  I open my mouth to shout something and then realize I can’t.  As I was trying to decide if “FIRE” was an acceptable word to shout in a quiet cafeteria the guy sitting across from me (John) sees the same thing. He jumps up, goes over to the toaster, pops the bread up and comes back to his seat.  I smile at him in a “thank you” kind of way and we continue eating our eggs.  In total silence.

After a minute or so the monk comes back to the toaster and is surprised to see his bread has popped up.  Upon examining it he discovers it is not quite toasted yet (I am assuming something lodged INSIDE the toaster was what was actually smoking).  So he pushes the bread back down and walks away again.  30 seconds later smoke begins billowing out again.  John  jumps up, runs over, pops out the toast, blows the smoke away and turns to the look for the monk.  He has totally disappeared so John comes and sits back down.

(By the way this was one of the SLOWEST monks in the abbey.  Yet I swear after he pushed that toast in he RAN out of the room.  It was like he teleported.)

Eventually the monk returns again to the toaster.  As he walks up a look of confusion is all over his face.  John and I are trying so hard not to laugh as he pulls the toast out and stares again at the fact that his bread has popped up and yet it is not toasted.    Finally he seems to accept his fate, takes his slightly warm bread to the table and eats.

John and I never did talk to the monk.  But we shared the story with our classmates as SOON as we could talk!

I believe this story has two morals.  One- you never know when you are being watched.  And two- sometimes when things don’t go the way you think they should it’s for your own protection!

Want to read another story about my adventures?  Check out The Journey To Delaware!

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Build A Dog Bed

by Laura on July 9, 2014

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Build  A Dog Bed

Grabbing a dog bed at your local pet store can be expensive and honestly, they don’t often last too long.   If your dog is just going to tear something apart you might want to Build A Dog Bed of your own.  Or if you have a unique color or print you like this can give you a chance to create something to blend in with your home.

Build  A Dog Bed

Supplies:

56” x 30” piece of fleece fabric
Sewing Machine*
1-2 large bags of stuffing
Straight pins

Build A Dog Bed

Directions:

Step 1: Lay the fabric out on a flat surface. Fold the fabric in half (with the print on the inside). You should now have a 28”x30” square.

Step 3: Use the straight pins to pin the sides together. This will help keep the fabric from shifting when sewing.

Step 4: Using a ¼” allowance sew the sides of the fabric together leaving a 6”=8” opening on one side.

Step 5: Turn the fabric right side out. Stuff the bed with the stuffing until it’s as full as you like.

Build  A Dog Bed

Step 6: Use the sewing machine to sew the opening closed.

*If you do not have access to has sewing machine you can use seaming tape to adhere the edges together. Simply fold the raw edges in, tape down with the seaming tape and then use a warm iron to secure the edges together.

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


I Never Believed It Sucked Out Your Brain

by Laura on June 22, 2014

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I totally borrowed this picture.  It was too perfect.

Generally speaking I handle stress pretty well.  I was always the kid who did better in school when I was on Student Government, a lead in the school musical and trying to make Dean’s list.  When I was building my business I was actually working three jobs while going to graduate school.  I got SO much done and besides having occasional exhaustion I feel like I handled it pretty well.

I never understood how people couldn’t just juggle 4 or 5 things and stay on top of them.  I always took great pride in my multi-tasking and it came naturally to me.

Until this week.

Tuesday night someone close to me got very sick.  At their request I am not going to give details but it was the kind of illness that could have resulted in the death of someone I love very much.  And they have weeks, if not months of rehab ahead of them.

And all of a sudden my brain is just gone.

It’s been gone for 5 days.

Tasks that I used to be able to do almost without thinking suddenly require great concentration.  I can’t read a book because my mind wanders.  I keep burning things on the stove because I forget I started it (don’t worry- nothing dangerous).   Twice I have left the house while talking on my phone and almost turned around to go back in to grab my phone.  I am washing the same load of laundry for the third time this week because I keep forgetting to put it in the dryer (granted on this front I was also without electricity for almost 24 hours so that contributed.)

I get it now.

I understand how thinking, praying and trying to help someone else can make you forget everything you thought you knew how to do.  My friends have told me when they are pregnant that the baby sucks their brains out and I get it now.

So if I forget to post grocery deals, or you start seeing lots of words misspelled in my posts or the math doesn’t add up on a deal, just drop me a comment.  Odds are it made total sense in my head.

And if you see mistakes use them as a reminder to pray for myself and my family.  The journey ahead is going to be a challenge, yet it is so much less than many of you deal with.  You are in my prayers.

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Navy Retirement Gift

by Laura on May 12, 2014

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Navy Retirement Gift

I’m from a Navy town and I can tell you, retiring from the Navy is a BIG deal.  Being in the Navy is a hard job with many sacrifices so retiring is an event the entire family can participate in.  Some of my friends have spent as much on their retirement parties as you would a wedding.

Things to display their navy memories (flags, coins etc) are generally purchased by family or co-workers.  So as friends here are some ideas you can check out!

1. Biographies of people with their hobbies: For the first time in a while your sailor may be able to start a new hobby.  If you know what it is maybe find a book from a leader in that field.  Or take a look through Amazon’s Top Selling 100 Books and see if anything might be interesting!

2.  A Leatherman or Multi-Use Tool- This can be a fantastic gift without breaking the bank.

navy retirement gift

3.  A Personalized Wine Bottle: Get a bottle of wine personalized with their name, rank and retirement date.  There are tons of options!

4.  A Nice Dinner Gift Certificate: There is a VERY good chance the sailor’s spouse is owed a night out, or a romantic weekend.  Grab a gift certificate to a nice restaurant or a Bed and Breakfast!

5. Navy Veteran License Plate Frame: I see this ALL around my hometown.  I don’t know if they just GIVE them to you when you retire but they seem to be something most retirees have.  You can also grab them by rank!

Show up with one of these to a retirement party and you should be just fine!

And don’t forget to check out the Police Academy Graduation Gifts!

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It is important to note that this blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorships, paid insertions, or other forms of compensation. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All opinions stated in this blog belong to its author and no one else. I will only endorse products, companies, and services that I have found worthy of my time and opinion. A Frugal Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.


Ways To Organize Your Coupons

by Laura May 7, 2014 Simple Steps
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Ways To Organize Your Coupons

When you are making the decision of how to organize your coupons you have one big decision to make up front- to cut or not to cut.  Some couponers like myself store all of our coupons in the inserts and don’t cut them until we take them to the store.  Others [...]

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Earth Day Word Search

by Laura April 7, 2014 Simple Steps
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Earth Day Word Search

Print out this great Earth Day Word Search for the student in your life (or maybe for yourself).

As you look for the hidden words, remember that they can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal—frontward or backward.

There are 15 popular words in this search that can also give you a [...]

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The Journey to Delaware (Part III)

by Laura March 10, 2014 Simple Steps
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If you haven’t read The Journey To Delaware Part I and Part II STOP READING!  Go back and read my previous posts before you continue!

We ended up having a perfectly lovely conversation as they finished the car.

It turned out the Godfather (whose name I cannot remember) was actually Polish.  We talked about when [...]

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The Journey To Delaware (Part I)

by Laura March 6, 2014 Simple Steps
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Sometimes when someone asks a favor, you just KNOW there is going to be a story at the end. No matter how many scenarios have been imagined it is inevitable that SOMETHING will go wrong.  This story is about one such favor.

One Sunday night, I got a phone call from my friend Matt.  After two [...]

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