DIY: Travel Fund Box


When I was saving up to go to New York in 2014, I wanted a physical bank to pop a few bills in every payday or any spare coins I had lying around. So as always, I took to Pinterest and came upon a shadow box picture frame project. This particular one is inspired by the DIY Honeymoon Frame by Something Turquoise (note: if you’re planning a wedding, I definitely recommend checking out their site for more great DIY’s like this one).

The first time I made this, I designed it specifically for New York — a photo of Times Square in the background, NEW YORK in big letters in the front. Having a visual definitely gives you more motivation to save up, I find. The beautiful thing about this project is that once one trip is over, you can change the design to reflect your next one, thanks to the use of water-based paint markers. Just wipe the old design off, switch out the background, and start over. I’ve got a couple of trips coming up this year and early next year, so I thought I’d revamp my box and make it a bit more general this time around.


  • Top-loading shadow box picture frame
  • Water-based paint marker
  • Photo for the background
  • Optional: design for the foreground

The top-loading frame is a must, as it’s just more practical. I found this 8″ x 10″ shadow box from Michaels about 2 years ago. I lucked out as it was on sale at 50% off then, but typically I’ve seen frames of this kind go for about $20.00 minimum. If you know of any stores that sell them (any size) for less than that, please leave me a comment!

I also picked up a set of Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers; mine are gold and white, which is a combo that I’m bit obsessed with at the moment. I love the quality of these markers, because they come out boldly and smoothly, and they’re not messy. That’s the most important thing. I’ve had a couple of paint markers in the past that just go all Niagra Falls if the slightest bit of pressure is put on the nib. The worst.


The first thing you’ll need is an idea of what you want your box to look like. I personally like minimal designs, so I simply wrote up some “travel fund” typography onto regular paper for my foreground design. Customize this any way you want, of course. I like doing the designs ahead of time because I’m terrible at freehand, but if you’re brave enough to get right to writing on the front glass, then by all means, soldier on.

I set my design aside and worked on the background design, which will sit at the rear of the shadow box. I found a really simple drawing of part of a world map on Google and replicated it onto some black cardstock with my gold paint marker, and set that aside to dry as well. For this, you can put together a collage (just make sure it’s thin enough to slip between the two rear glasses of the frame), find a photo online, literally anything.

Now the last step is getting your design neatly onto the front glass. I removed the front glass from the shadow box and wiped it down with a cloth just to make sure I was working on a clean surface. I positioned it over my foreground design and traced over it with my white paint marker. No worries if you make a mistake — just use a wet cloth to wipe off the marker, maybe a bit of soap if it’s being extra fussy, wipe it dry and start over.

When everything is dry, simply assemble the box back together (always use extra care when dealing with glass!) and you’re good to go. Start saving that hard-earned money and plan the best trip you can. And try not to take out of it every week for coffee, like I did a couple times. Unless you’re making a rainy day box, which is just one of the many other money-savers you can use this project for.


In you go, Sir Wilfrid.


DIY: The Book Jar (aka TBR Jar)

The Book JarI have a huge problem. I buy way too many books than I know what to do with. And don’t even judge me about spending so much money on them, because I know I’m not the only one. I have a library of about 350 books and counting, and to my horror, I realized recently that I’ve only read about less than half of them.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that this is one of my biggest dilemmas: trying to figure out what book to read next. It’s either I buy a new book that everyone’s talking about and read it as soon as I’m out of the store, or I read a book that I’ve committed to reviewing. Or I’ve borrowed something from the library and don’t want to keep renewing or accrue any fines, so I prioritize it. But what about the books that I buy during a trip to the book store and buy solely because I’ve heard about it in passing, or because the cover caught my attention? It’s like.. “yeah I’ll buy you now because I know I’ll read you eventually.” But it happens way too often and the last book just gets pushed further and further onto the back burner. And now I’m stuck with (and I’m not exaggerating here) 183 books that I spent money on but never read.

These said books have been doomed into the abyss that’s known as the dreaded “TBR pile”. You know what I’m talking about. TBR, also known as ‘to be read’, also known as ‘books I’ll get to eventually’, also known as ‘books collecting dust’. Honestly, I have books in this category that have been purchased literally years ago. I knew something had to be done. Surely I can’t keep neglecting another one of my children like this?!

Luckily the Lord has blessed the internet with Pinterest, and one day the clouds opened up and this little DIY project shone down on me, and I knew my problems were solved.

Ladies and gents, the TBR Jar (which, for my own aesthetic purposes, am calling ‘The Book Jar’, because how pretty does that look? And rhymes make me uneasy). Ironically, I didn’t pin this project and couldn’t be bothered to backtrack or search for it again, so I had to wing making my own.

The materialsMATERIALS:

  • 1 jar (size depends on the amount of TBR books)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 1 sheet of card stock
  • String / cord
  • Computer paper (colour is up to you)
  • Your list of TBR titles


The most important thing, naturally, is your list of TBR books. I personally have an Excel workbook that I keep updated with all my books. So with some filtering, I pulled up all the books I haven’t read yet and after a bit of formatting, I printed off the titles. This step is all personal preference. I’ve seen people use different coloured paper depending on genre, write out all their book titles by hand, etc.

Cut them up into individual slips and fold them to your fancy.

To make the jar, I printed a little label on some card stock and cut it into the shape of a tag. You can design it however you’d like, or print off the one I’ve created using my superior Microsoft Word skills (click here).

Punch a hole at the end of the tag and run the cord through it.

Take your jar and wrap the cord around the rim a few times. Secure it by tying a bow, making sure the text is visible on the tag.

Fill up the jar with your slips of book titles, cap it off if you have a lid, and you’re all set.

Of course, feel free to add new titles as you acquire new books. I’ve seen some people use their jars for stuff like yearly or monthly challenges, or just for picking out of when they’re stuck on what new book to read. Give it a shake, take one out, and there you go. May the odds be ever in your favour.

The Book Jar in action. I didn’t even know I owned this book…


The Book Jar in its new permanent spot

Product Review: Personalized Monogram Ex Libris Rubber Stamp

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything substantial besides scheduled reviews, but there’s a reason. I was trying to brainstorm ideas on how to expand my little blog. Plus I came back from vacation at the end of January and I’ve been in a post-vacation haze for almost a month now. I’ll post more about that another day, because wow was New York incredible. But without further ado: the real point of this post.

I’m starting a new monthly alternating product haul/product review feature on the blog (that’s a mouthful, I’m not officially calling it that — I’ll think up a better name later). I buy way too much book-related merchandise and figured, where better to share than with all of you? I’ll do a haul post or a review post depending on what and how much I get that month.

My first product is a review for this Personalized Monogram Ex Libris Rubber Stamp (Product ID H16) from AsspocketProductions on Etsy. First of all, the shop name made me chuckle. Of course I’d buy from there. Second, I was hunting high and low for months for a personalized stamp small enough to apply to all of my books and wanted one that wasn’t incredibly fancy. I’m a simple person and this design was perfect for me.

The design itself is 1″ x 1″ with the default text reading “ex libris” (Latin term for a decorative bookplate applied on the inside of books in order to identify who owns the book). I wanted “ex libris” specifically, because… hi, Classics major. I love Latin. And it looks cool. It is personalized, so you can fit a name with up to 12 characters along the bottom — that includes spacing and punctuation, and your first initial in the middle. If you visit the product page, you’ll be able to see the font used for the monogram. The fonts aren’t customizable, but I think both fonts are elegant in their simplicity.

As for the hardware, I got it wood mounted and it came with a convenient wooden handle. You can insert a label to identify the stamp, which I did by simply printing one out on Microsoft Word and cutting it down to size.

This particular stamp cost me $15.69 CAD ($12.49 USD) when I bought it in April 2015. I’ve used this on every single book in my personal library, and about 340 stamped books later, the quality now is still as good as it was when I first got it.

I was delighted when it arrived in the mail so quickly; I immediately reached for a stack of books and got to stamping. I tend to always use black ink, though I do own a brown stamp pad as well (both purchased from Michaels). And a good thing about this stamp in particular is that it’s not difficult to clean if I do want to switch colours. It can get difficult because of the dotted borders, but that’s nothing a good stamp cleaner can’t fix.

All in all, very happy with this purchase. The owner, Stacey, is great in communicating and hand makes each stamp. She also ships internationally and combined shipping is automatic if you order more than one. Which is great if you want to pick one up for yourself and a friend; it makes a great gift — I think anything personalized does, really.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I do not have any affiliation or relationship with any of the creators or sellers of these products. Purchases were personally made by me. Photos were taken by me, and reviews of the products are based solely on my opinion.