Five Minute Friday: Half a Cookie

Generosity is Contagious | Five Minute Friday: SHARE - What spilled onto the screen when I set a timer for five minutes and wrote on one word: share.

I felt a yearning I haven't felt in a while...a yearning just to freewrite!  The kind of writing inspired by a creative prompt where you set a timer and just let the thoughts spill onto the page or screen, scritchity scratchety or tickity typity.  You don't censor yourself.  You don't correct yourself.  You fly forward with the freedom to just write. Well, this yearning couldn't have been better timed because there's an event that happens across blogland every week around this time called Read more

Our Budget Binder & Simplify eBook Giveaway!

Our Budget Binder!

G'day, mates! Yesterday, I shared how Mark and I are venturing into uncharted financial waters this new year: we're going to try a cash budget envelope system.  I have to say, I was really encouraged by the flood of comments, many from others who have adopted the same system!  I've enjoyed seeing all of the Dave Ramsey fanatics come out of the woodwork.  Now, if you're just tuning in and are like, "Dave Who?" be sure to catch up by reading yesterday's post HERE; it includes a free printable Read more

DIY Cash Budget Envelopes: Free Printable

DIY Cash Budget Envelopes: Free Printable | Learn how to create your own wallet-sized envelopes using any paper or scrapbook paper. Free downloads include a PDF Printable & Silhouette cut you've got options! Great resource for anyone wanting to take their monthly budget under control with Dave Ramsey's Cash Budget Envelope System!

Mark and I are taking a leap this year and venturing into something brand new on the financial front: we're preparing to try out a cash budget envelope system.  I know, your eyebrows just furrowed a little, didn't they?  Mine did, too, pretty much for an entire year.  Here's a little background on what changed that furrowed brown to an intrigued eyebrow raise that said, "Okay...let's give it a go!" We are both avid podcast listeners, and one of our favorites of 2014 was The Dave Ramsey Show. Read more

Why I’m Taking a True Day of Rest Each Week & How It Has Changed EVERYTHING


It was late August, and Mark and I found ourselves in the cool quiet north of Wisconsin.  I had just started amping up my eBook writing and was feeling the impending crunch of deadlines. In some ways, it seemed like the worst possible time to adopt a new habit that meant less work time.  And yet, it was exactly the right time.  I needed a break somethin' fierce, and I recall that first week of trying it out: I could not wait to start.  I powered down the computer, put away the TO DO list, and Read more

The Top 10 Posts of 2014

The Thinking Closet's Top 10 Posts of 2014!

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you all had a blessed holiday and that your 2015 is off to a fantastic start. I recently took two weeks off from the blog--the longest break I've taken since the inception of The Thinking Closet in September 2012.  But it has been a much-needed time of rest and renewal for me after a busy year.  It turns out that the pace I had worked up to in publishing my eBook is not one I am capable of maintaining on a regular basis.  #humanproblems (Actually, Read more

Making a List, Checking it Twice…. My New Tool for Holiday Gift Planning

Holiday Gift Tracker | Making a list and checking it twice.... It's so helpful to have a chart to help you stay organized with gift brainstorming and budget planning around the holidays! Visit to learn how you get your hands on your own tracker!

I was feeling uncharacteristically relaxed about my holiday gifts this year.  We spent Thanksgiving with Mark's family this year, which means we're not doing Christmas gifts.  And my family is keeping it simple with small stocking-stuffer gifts. However, when I started to think of all the neighbors and co-workers and friends for whom we want to give a little something, I realized I needed to get my game face on and get focused.  Christmas is coming, people.  And apparently the goose is Read more

5 Ways to Boost Your Decorating Confidence

5 Ways to Boost Your Decorating Confidence | Because there's no good reason why we need to let intimidation hold us back any longer. It's time to make our houses homes! And here are some actionable ways you can enjoy the process of discovering your inner decorator! via

Can I be honest with y'all for a moment? Most days, I feel like a decorating dunce, haphazardly throwing together a few picture frames with outdated photos and random knick knacks atop a dusty surface, so that it looks like I tried. Tea candles are my safety blanket.  Mason jars are my cliche.  And admittedly, I couldn't pull together a Christmas house tour this year because the thought of getting even just our living room in decent enough shape to take photos just plain overwhelmed me. Read more

DIY Rustic Pallet Christmas Tree & Silhouette Giveaway!

DIY Rustic Pallet Christmas Tree | A do-able step-by-step tutorial for creating your own Rustic Christmas Tree out of pallet wood and embellished using your Silhouette machine. FREE cut file included!

Last week, I came to Mark with a glint in my eye, and an idea for a collaborative project.  As soon I showed him my sketch and told him it would be made out of pallet wood, he jumped on board to help me make this vision a reality.  And I cannot wait to share it with you. I give you: our Rustic Pallet Christmas Tree! Today, I'm going to give you the run-down for how Mark built the tree and how I embellished it using my handy dandy Silhouette machine.  Then at the end of this post, Read more

Glitter-Dipped Gift Tags

Glitter-Dipped Gift Tags | A simple way to add some rustic glam goodness to your brown paper packages this holiday season.  I just love how easy this tutorial is!

Brown paper packages tied up with string.... ...truly are some of my favorite things! The only way to improve upon them?  Combine them with some glittery kraft paper gift tags, and you have some gift wrap guaranteed to wow your recipient with their rustic glam goodness. The Inspiration Now, you've seen the gold-dipped table legs, right? And the glitter-dipped mugs? Well, I got to thinking, why couldn't create the same fabulous look with some Glitter-Dipped Gift Tags?!  And I turned Read more

Christmas Tree Gift Boxes: FREE Printable

Create your own Christmas Tree Gift Boxes out of paper! Perfect for stocking stuffers, co-worker gifts, jewelry, or even a gift at each place setting for Christmas dinner. Grab your FREE printable template at

What's better than teeny tiny thoughtful gifts for those you love this holiday? Well, wrapping them in teeny tiny adorable gift boxes you made out of scrapbook paper, of course! And this creative gift wrap idea works for everyone because today, I have a FREE cut file for the Silhouette users as well as a FREE printable for the scissorhands in the stick around! Now, some of you may be scratching your heads right now because these cutie Christmas Tree Gift Boxes are looking Read more

Epic Silhouette Holiday Sale & Parody Music Video!

"Cutting in a Crafting Wonderland" Parody Music Video by Lauren from The Thinking Closet | For lovers of their Silhouette well as those who have one on their wish list. Here's a lil entertainment for ya in honor of the EPIC Holiday Silhouette Sales running 11/27 - 12/8! via

Today is the very first day in the EPIC Holiday Sales over at *, and not only am I going to give you a full run-down of all the extra special deals, but I am going to offer you some in-flight entertainment as well.  (Would you expect any less?) My Silhouette Cameo is my absolute favorite crafting tool of all time.  I've created over 60 projects with my machine in just about 2 years, and the inspiration never ends. I get all amped up about Silhouette's annual holiday Read more

Silhouette Portrait Giveaway for 2 Winners!

Giveaway for 2 Silhouette Portrait Machines for 2 Winners | Nov 24 - 28 at | So excited for this opportunity to give away my all-time favorite crafting tool to not one, but two winners!

It's no secret in these parts that my absolute favorite crafting tool is my Silhouette machine.  I received mine as a Christmas gift back in 2012, and since then, I have made over 60 projects with this powerhouse of a digital craft-cutter.  She barely gets put away. I don't know what I love more: the versatility of how many types of materials it can cut (from paper to vinyl to fabric and beyond!) or its ability to enable an ordinary crafter like me to make some truly professional-quality Read more

The Most Surprising Thing about Writing an eBook (That No One Ever Told Me About)

The Most Surprising Thing About Writing an eBook (that no one ever told me about) | Personal insights from Lauren Lanker's self-publishing journey. She thought she had researched everything there was to know about launching an eBook...however, there was one BIG surprise that struck her along the way. One surprise that no one had addressed in all the podcasts, blog articles, and eBooks on eBooks.

This past Monday, I launched my very first eBook, Thinking Outside the Gift Box.  It was a project over a year in the making.  You see, I had never written a book before let alone launched a product.   And I desperately wanted to do right by my readers.  I wanted to create a killer eBook that would help bring more joy and deeper meaning to their gift-giving.  And I wanted its pages to be jam-packed with ten times more value than the price. So, I immersed myself in research: I listened to Read more

Gift-Giving Expert Interviews: Sneak Peeks!

The Expert Interviews - Sneak Peek!

What.  A.  Day! Yesterday was the launch of my first eBook, Thinking Outside the Gift Box, and it was one for the record books: full of encouraging texts, comments, a barrage of social shares, a few mini panic attacks when my sales page was acting glitchy, and over 60 sales (eek!).  Thanks to everyone who took the plunge and joined the #thinkingoutsidethegiftbox revolution!  It's an honor to have you along for the journey. I had been working pretty much around the clock in the days prior Read more

“Thinking Outside the Gift Box” is Officially Released!

Thinking Outside the Gift Box!

Am I dreaming?  Or did I just self-publish my first book?  {Shakes head, pinches self.}  Ack!  I most definitely did. It's true, it's true.  The virtual shelves are stacked with copies of Thinking Outside the Gift Box all ready to be shipped to your email inboxes and downloaded to your computer or favorite eReader.  Here's the sales page to prove it! Wait, what?!  You wrote a book? For those who may just now be tuning in, over a year ago was got inspired to channel my passions for writing Read more

3 Days Till Launch & eBook Sample Chapters!

Hustle time! Gettin' this eBook ready to ship!

Seven years ago, I wrote a bucket list in the back of a book.  30 things I wanted to accomplish by age 30. Some of those dreams became realities... Get my Master's.  Dye my hair red.  Go on a hike. Other faded away or have simply been bumped up to the 40 x 40 list. Ride a bicycle built for two.  Visit Spain.  Perform in a coffeehouse with Lisbeth. And #25 is becoming a reality in three days.  Yes.  Three.  Days. It has been a journey of over a year to get here. 11 months of Read more

FREE Printable Pack: 12 Months of Pre-Planned Dates, Version 2.0

12 Months of Pre-Planned Dates Mini-Book | Such a creative and meaningful gift idea for the loved ones in your life. The FREE Printable Pack also comes with everything you need to create mini-books for Parent-Kid Dates, Friend Dates, and wedding gifts! So many gifts in one!

Some gifts are so much fun to give...they deserve to be given again.  And again.  To all of your loved ones.  And all of your loved ones' loved ones. That's how I feel about the 12 Months of Pre-Planned Dates Mini-Book. It started as a Christmas gift for Mark last year.... ...and then grew to become my most popular freebie by a landslide with over 10,000 downloads (gulp!). Here are just a few of your creative renditions that you've shared with me: And as this mini-gift Read more

The Grand Reveal of my eBook Title, Cover, & Launch Date!

Thinking Outside the Gift Box: 21 Money-Saving & Meaningful Gift Ideas | eBook by Lauren Lanker | coming November 17, 2014 to!

G'day, mateys!  And a very good day it is.  I am biting my nails at a higher rate than usual because of some very exciting eBook updates I get to spill today. As most of you know, one of my biggest bloggy dreams for this year was to write and publish my first eBook.  And after loads of brainstorming, I settled on the topic of gift-giving, and have spent the past few months doing research, writing rough drafts, and most recently, landing on a title, cover art, and launch date.  Whoo Read more

20 Punny Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples

20 Punny Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples | An epically awesome round-up of literal interpretations of the word as portrayed by dynamic duos! There are some great last minute Halloween costume ideas in this mix, too. Prepare to win MOST CREATIVE COUPLE at your Halloween party this year!

So, in 2012, I created my round-up of 20 Punny Halloween Costume Ideas...not knowing how many other pun-lovers there were out there.  But y'all came out of the woodwork! And with your pun-tastic reaction to that post, I just had to follow it up with 20 MORE Punny Halloween Costume Ideas last year.  And you all ate that up like Garfield eats lasagna. So, I'm back this year with more sweet puns, but keep it interesting, I decided to tackle 20 Punny Halloween Costume Ideas for Read more

Punny #Hashtag Halloween Costume Tutorial

Can you guess the pun in this PUNNY Halloween costume? | The knee-slapper of an answer to this visual word-play and the full tutorial for how to create your own couples' Halloween costume over at! It's so much pun!

First, there were The Black Eyed Ps. Then, there was When Life Gives You Lemons....  And his friend, Blessing in Disguise. No, I'm not talking about chart-topping hip hop groups or cliché phrases!  I'm talking about our punny Halloween costumes from the last two years, which you may recall. Of course, the word-play tradition just had to continue, and I'm ecstatic to reveal this year's punny Halloween costume to you today...and it's just as groan-worthy as its predecessors! Are you ready to Read more

Fall Cleaning Before & After Videos with RYOBI’s “Miracle Maker” Pressure Washer

Fall Cleaning with RYOBI's 3100 PSI Pressure Washer

One of the many "perks" to living in the most humid state in the union is that our backyard possesses magical powers to transform into a jungle almost overnight.  In fact, by the end of the rain-soaked summer, a thick layer of dirt, grime, and mold had grown onto our dock, pavers, and fence...blanketing everything in gray.  Well, that's no way to start the fall! We knew we needed a little more power than old-fashioned elbow grease could offer to clean things fact, we needed a Read more

30 D.I.Y. Coaster Gifts

30 DIY Coaster Gifts | A round-up of coaster gift ideas galore, brought to you by A slew of inspiration for coasters made from tile, cork, leather, fabric, and unconventional materials.

Balance has been my word of the year this year.  And in the words of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, "How do we keep our balance?  That I can tell you in one word: tradition!" The last two Novembers, I've made it a tradition to make a few sets of D.I.Y. coasters: a set to keep, and the rest to give away as gifts! In 2012, I discovered how to get my hands on free wallpaper samples from Anthropologie {read more about that HERE} and used those samples along with some Mod Podge to create some Read more

Reader Showcase: A Look Back at Summer 2014

Summer 2014 Reader Showcase at where we turn the spotlight onto the readers and check out the inspirational creations they've been working on. They knock the ball out of the park, every time!

First, I'm just bursting at the seams to share a piece of exciting news with you all: Wednesday was a big day for me because...I finished the first draft of my eBook!  {Squeal.} There are still many miles to go before I sleep and heaps of behind the scenes work that needs to happen in order to hit a November launch date, but I feel I have summited the highest mountain in the journey.  And I couldn't have done it without all of the support and cheers that y'all have sent my way.  Thank you, Read more

DIY “Give Thanks” Fall Sign

DIY Give Thanks Fall Sign by Crafts by Courtney | The perfect addition to a fall mantel display, especially one of the coastal variety! Courtney offers great tips on how to use a craft-cutter and some paint to transform a plain wood board into an inspirational work of art.

The other day, my MIL and I were talking about how many fantastic friendships I've made as a result of blogging.  And it's true!  Blogging has put me in direct contact with so many women whose interests align with's almost like meeting dozens of long-lost twins all around the world!  One of those long-lost twins is Courtney.  She shares in my love of Silhouette creations as well as coastal decor.  Plus, in the dictionary, next to "sweet," you'll see Courtney's smiling face.  Meet YOUR Read more