Active Life Choices Are The Key To Making Changes In Your Life

by Richard Furleigh

Conversations with different important people in my life combined with my own recent frustrations with not feeling like I’m creating as much as I want have led me to a deep reaffirmation of the following: anything you want to do has to start with an active choice.

When I say an active choice I do literally mean something that is an action (or lack thereof) in your life. Putting on your shoes and walking around the block, eating a carrot instead of chips, not buying that new game that just came out, putting pigment on that brush and applying it to the canvas. As long as it is something that physically moves you toward your final objective that is the crucial first step. It shows that it isn’t impossible to start, that accomplishing small tasks as part of the whole is do able, and even if it’s as small as going on that walk to start your diet you can point to it and say “I did that, and I can do this”

Recently I’ve been struggling with feeling like my time has constricted itself to the point that I have no time to be creative, to really create new content and art that I feel is important. So I’ve made two changes that I know will help me. First I’ve looked at other things that I have done this semester. I may not have made any “art” per say, //

A silly little thing I made, I call it “Penguin Execution”

but I have broadened my horizons with blogging, and making the couple videos for other classes. These are still very valuable skills to have in creative creation and framing that in that way has helped me feel a little better about it. Second I’ve decided that I will begin writing or editing a piece once a week for a minimum of 30 minutes without interruption, which means no cell phone! This is my actionable goal, and honestly I have to stick with it, just to get things down. I’ve told myself I’m not shooting for Shakespeare here, just getting words on the page is important because especially in the creative process sometimes you don’t know what you’re putting down is good until after it’s already there. I could also just write utter crap, but that could be the crap that spurs the golden thought, or the groundwork for a great scene after editing it. Honestly it doesn’t matter, just getting something done to progress my goal is the key to get things going.

When it comes to life and our choices it really does boil down to “if you always put in what you’ve always put in you’ll get in return what you’ve always gotten.” If you want to change something about your life then find one thing, it doesn’t even matter how small, and start there. Maybe you’re trying to write the next big movie script but can’t seem to get past character and world development. Cool, just writing even one line of dialogue a day is a start. The key here is to make a change that echoes across your life, to pull the trigger on something that is actionable to you.
So what is it that you have been putting off because it seems too daunting? What is that thing that you know you should do but just haven’t got around to it yet? Well, this is the time to do it. I’m not asking you to plan every tiny detail, but get a rough idea on where you want to go and start with one item. One task that will move you in the right direction. Once your done with that one, make another, and another, and…. But for now, just one, small, task, to finish is all you need. If someone needs a little advice, help them out, share this with them and offer to help them be accountable for their task. We can help each other grow and learn too. Until next time Pengminions!

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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 2: Housewares

~Kristen Furleigh

Thrifting part dos! Richard and I have been able to furnish our rental primarily with finds from the thrift stores around town. It takes time and you have to be patient. You have to be willing to go without for a little bit when what you are searching for isn’t readily available. The pay off for you patience is grand!

Some of your finds will take a bit of elbow grease to turn it into something you will like in your home but the upside is you won’t pay nearly as much as a brand new item and you can tailor it to your specific home decor. Here is an example of a couple of my favorite pieces I happened to find separately.


$7 thrift store dresser

I had found the dresser for around $7 and when I stumbled upon the night stand for a whopping $2.50 I had to have it. The styles were just too similar. Both were originally a cream and gold color when I bought them and I was able to turn them into what you see now for an additional $10 in re-purposing materials.


night stand



The savings compared to new are astounding. You can find pieces like this too if you take the time to go look and are willing to put in a bit of elbow grease!


Thrift store finds

Not all items need work though. I found this red piece for under $5 and felt the vintage look was perfect and now we use it as a bar/liquor cabinet. It also keeps my candy too but that’s another story…


When you allow yourself to open up to all the possibilities thrift stores can offer you there are thousands that can be saved by buying used items. Outside of furniture you can buy many other housewares if you can get out of the mindset of needing brand new things or needing things to come in perfectly matched sets.

Silverware and kitchen items can be found at pennies instead of dollars. Do your forks, knives, and spoons really need to match??? You need them to transfer food from your plate to your mouth and whether or not they match honestly is trivial. If someone is going to judge you for not having matching plates you can just wave your plane ticket at them as you jet off on yet another adventure with all the money you save by thrifting.

Now not all thrift store furniture is under $10 bucks, but their prices will be a fraction their traditional cost. Our couch was the most expensive purchase, it was a 5-piece sectional in exceptional condition for $150, but had we bought that same exact couch new it would have cost over $1,000 easily.

It takes patience and a long term outlook to get exactly what you’re looking for, but that will be worth it for your bank account and as we talked about in our previous blog the environment since you will be utilizing things that would otherwise end up at the dump.

The next time you need a new dresser or something small like a food processor I challenge you to check out your local thrift store first and see what you can save! Are there any questions you have about thrifting? Leave us a comment below and we would love to answer them for you. Til next time Pengminions!


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Travel: Making it Happen

Travel: Making it Happen
~ Kristen Furleigh

Travel can almost always seem to be an ever elusive endeavor. Often it feels like it is never the “right” time; is there a “right” time? I came across this quote recently,

“There’s never a convenient time to travel in your life. When you’re young you have the time and the energy to travel, but not the means. When you’re middle-aged you have the energy and means to travel, but not the time. And when you’re old you have the time and means to travel, but not the energy.”

It was posted by a lovely RV travel couple Heath & Alyssa and they were unsure as am I as to where it originates but it really resonated with me. This has often been my rationale for why I make travel a priority now and hope to continue well into the future so our adventures span a life time.

Without the means at a young age; doing things differently than many of my peers has set me apart and given me opportunities that I otherwise would not have. Everyone has to get creative in their own way to make things happen and I would like to share with you some of the things we have done to secure our many travels.

First, we are frugal and mindful of almost every penny. One of the biggest ways we save money is by taking our time choosing our rental “home.” It takes time to search for the best deals and we are willing to give up some luxuries when choosing where to live but the savings of a couple hundred dollars a month make it worth it. In Chicago, right after college graduation, we rented a small studio apartment for $550; all utilities included and it met our needs of a place to put our things and our heads down at night. When we first moved to Reno our search was daunting but with time and perseverance we found an amazing apartment, almost 1200 sq ft with w/d included, for $615 which was a steal. We have also stayed with family during some of our transition periods that has helped us out a ton! It is not the most glamorous to move back home but it can be one of the smartest decisions you could make for your future.

Picking a place to live can be stressful but I encourage you to take your time and wade through the ads, expensive, and flashy places and I am confident you too will find a diamond in the rough. The key is to start searching early and often.

Another way we have been able to save money is by how we buy our groceries. We get made fun of ALOT by family for our 25lb of rice. It is definitely absurd yet the cost savings keep us laughing too. We buy our chicken exclusively when it is on sale and stock up. When it is half off is our favorite!  We often keep it basic without depriving ourselves too much. Most of our fruits and veggie purchases are done when it is on sale. We have a running tab in our head and sometimes in a shared Keep document on what they cost normally and compare sales each week or two depending on when we go shopping.

Going out to eat is a very rare occasion because we have found out that we can cook a fancy, restaurant-quality meal for a fraction of the cost + its a fun date night! It takes practice to put down that item that sounds good in the moment or not to stop in at the drive-thru on your way home. You can build in rewards along the way as you reach goals or are really price conscious all month. Make it small but worthwhile so you feel accomplished without undoing all of your hard work.

These are just a couple of the biggest ways that we are able to save money regularly. This got me thinking about all the other ways we have been thrifty over the years and while traveling so a follow up blog is to come! What are some things you think you could change to start saving more towards your endeavors? Leave us a comment and let us know of any you plan to start or you do so that we can cheat off you! Til next time Pengminions!



Your morning coffee says more than you think

by Richard Furleigh

Think back to one of the last purchases you made, what were some of the reasons behind it? Was it a trendy piece of clothing that you got because it looked good, groceries you needed to stock up on, coffee at one of the many roastery options out there because you needed a pick me up? Think harder for a moment about why you  actually chose that particular item however and you may find that it has a little more to do with the influences of those around you than your own thoughts.

In exploring Living Creatively we repeatedly have to reexamine the reasons behind our choices, even the everyday answers to why we buy one product and not another at the store, or even what store we went to in the first place! Sometimes the reasons we make certain choices seems benign and inconsequential, but sometimes they are subversive and over time will hurt us more than we realize if not caught early on. Social influences on our purchase choices account for an astounding proportion of the reasoning for… Well…. Everything. Check out this article written by Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry talking briefly about the extent to which this is present.

Personally I will ask myself what is it I’m actually searching for in a product or service I can break it down and find the real reasons rather than allow how people may perceive me for my choices to affect me. When searching for a good quality mug for coffee and tea I came across the RTIC tumbler. Not as well known, but their stainless steel cups are identical to their much more expensive and popular cousin Yeti. The price difference for doing my research and choosing function over everything else saved me $28; for almost ¼ the cost of the Yeti my Earl Grey stays quite hot all day.

It can be choices as small as a $1 coffee at Mc. D’s vs $4 at Starbucks. The green mermaid has a certain status associated with her, but in more recent years McCafe drip coffees rank just as good or even better than Starbucks. So if you stop and ask yourself, if what you really want from your coffee is good taste then oddly enough you’d be better off going to McDonald’s for your daily dose of caffeine.

These may seem inconsequential, but it is small actions and decisions that will in the end add up to bigger and better changes. Questioning the small things in your life will build up into strength that allows you to look deeply into your own life. Everything from relationships, to your job, to your own purpose, to as a man changing my own last name when I got married.

Have you begun to question some small things in life or have some tips on other ways to make those shifts happen? Let us know in the comments below and get out there to make some positive changes in your life today!

Living Creatively and How I See It

Living Creatively and How I See It
by Richard Furleigh

Many people say they try to live creatively, to think differently, yet few people manage to actually achieve this. To me it is the culmination of questioning the reasoning behind why people choose to do things, to examine if there is a different or better way, and then actually following through. It seems more and more that the last part of that is the difference between those who live creatively, who make real change in this world, and those who simply talk about it.

Creative living is more than just life hacks, alternate lifestyles, or simply being an artist. It is utilizing the ability to tap into the creative process, to seeing things from new eyes and perspective, and to think at a higher level in order to help make better sense and navigate the world around us. It is about using information given, and when that isn’t enough reaching out to those who do know or teaching ourselves, in order to grow.

One of the most pertinent examples I can think of is the entire fact that Kristen and I enrolled into a Master’s level business program after getting a Bachelor’s in theatre. When people ask what I do I tell them I am a professional actor, who also happens to not want to be a starving artist. From many of my artistic friends I get quizzical looks and questions about my commitment to my craft; the starving artist lifestyle is so ingrained into the collective psyche of our community that people often don’t think about any other way to do it. I have made the bold decision to opt out of that life by getting a degree that will allow me to get a well paying job with health benefits and financial stability.

There is also another major component to being an actor that having a well paying position will allow me; the ability to self fund larger projects. Instead of waiting around for a role to come up I can simply put up a show myself. Don’t think there are enough quality scripts by women being shot? Find one and collaborate to produce it.Even the simple ability that when producing a project, to actually pay other artists for their time will be extremely fulfilling; the ability to help someone else be able to pay their bills with their craft will be indescribable.

There is also an element of creativity in the workplace that feeds into this very mindset. The actor’s ability to enter the mind of someone else to bring other issues to light, improvisation that allows us to ask “yes, and”, the ability to look beyond the obvious for the deeper meaning and purpose of the work. These are all invaluable team driven skills that are not taught in any management classes that I’m aware of.

I hope that in some small way Kristen and I can help empower you as well, this is truly my fervent wish. Find some grain of insight here that you can take back to both your work and personal lives and use it to build something better. If you do then stick around, subscribe, and check back soon as the Furleighs add more on our little perspective of the world.

Richard Furleigh

Crafting Steampunk – aka – we’ve hit 1st gear

Hello Pengminions!

Craftyhands Richard with you today to share some recent developments in two exciting worlds. Kristen and I’s, and creating our handmade steampunk bonanza!

Life has been blazing by at what feels like a blistering speed here in Houston as we’ve adopted a fairly routine schedule of working three days a week and trying to get as much detail work on our crafts/constructions as possible. We’ve been swiftly ushered into the young adult life of come home from work, only to have to work more, not even counting the day to day existence workings (can I just be 11 again?). Progress at times has felt slow as we bog down on specific details, and the infinitely minute amount of details that go into a start to finish wedding reception.

In much more exciting news however I have received in all the major pieces of my outfit for the soiree. YEAH BUDDY!! I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I am one sexy dapper beast. I’m keeping everything under wraps (it’s a clothing pun, get it?!) for now, but I will say that the body of my tailcoat is blue and black. Of course I’m still accessory shopping (because what’s a good steampunk outfit without killer goggles right?) and trying to figure out exactly what needs to get attached where and how.

Of course, no true theme is complete without plenty of ambiance decor. On a tight budget however this can start to become an exceptionally daunting task. In order to fight against the squeeze we’ve thrift shopped, garage sale’d, and clearance rack’d everything we could manage. From Hobby Lobby we picked up a couple large lanterns that were missing a few panes of glass for $9 each, saving us almost $100 for the three. On the walls we have decided to have huge wall hangings, and ended up choosing…. landscaping fabric. Yup, a 4′ wide roll of professional grade landscaping fabric. At only $30 for a 200′ long roll it ended up being only .45 a yard; at least a dollar a yard less than any real fabric we could buy. It’s all about re-purposing! That and scrounging through a ton of Goodwill and thrift bins.

I also have completed the first cut out gear for our soiree! 1st gear

Woo!! It didn’t come out QUITE as well as I would have liked, but it was a great 1st prototype and let me learn more of “what to do” in the future. Side note: drawing perfect concentric circles is HARD. Now only like 300 more to go…..

That’s all for now Pengminions! And hey, thank you for reading. We throw out a lot of random thoughts about our lives and a ton of other subjects and we do appreciate it. So if you have any questions or anything let us know below!

Until next time!

Richard F