Meet one of our featured artists & teachers - Charlene Magargal

I strive to bring as much meaning into my life as I possibly can through the process of building a business and I get to meet so many amazing individuals. I know there are so many more out there I haven't even met yet but I feel very lucky indeed to have met this lady. In addition to a peppered past sailing boats, working with race horses, staffing and directing for large hotels, and being such an amazingly positive and bright woman. She makes things! I love makers. To me they are people who look for a way to give a gift to the world through the gifts that they have been given. So each month I will be featuring a local maker on our blog and working with them to offer you the chance to experience their art form in our studio workshop through classes and craft socials! Charlene is among many things a book maker, recycler, lover of the outdoors, and she's had a life long case of papyrophilia (love of paper). In elementary school she made her own folders for class - how adorable is that! It makes me smile to think of little Charlene off to class with her own handmade folders. Wherever she travels her journal is always in her bag and the many travel journals she's compiled over her time on this earth would astound you with the beauty they contain watercolors, thoughts, maps, and stunning papers. What a beautiful way to collect your experiences. If you come and meet her for a class I bet she'll even grant you a peak! For the Month of January she'll have two classes here at Better to gather and one at the YAM! All will be different and wonderful. Here's the information on each of them and more about Charlene here on her website, REBOUND 2015 is a new year and with it come new chances to grow, branch out, share, learn and create. I can't think of a better devotional pursuit in this new year then to keep a journal. If you are going to start a journal it helps to carry around one that you are proud of. I can't think of a better way to do that then to Make a journal. Thursday January 8th from 6-8pm Charlene will show you how and you can register here! BOOK MAKING CLASS Now if journaling isn't going to be your way of putting words to paper perhaps writing to the people you love who live far away is a better way for you to connect with words and those you love. If so come to a paper class where Charlene will show you how to create your own beautiful handmade cards. If you want to really make someone's day send them a mailed handmade card! It's a simple beautiful gesture they won't soon forget. To take part in that class just go here to register: STATIONARY CLASS


I strive to bring as much meaning into my life as I possibly can through the process of building a business and I get to meet so many amazing individuals. I know there are so many more out there I haven't even met yet but I feel very lucky indeed to have met this lady. In addition to a peppered past sailing boats, working with race horses, staffing and directing for large hotels, and being such an amazingly positive and bright woman. She makes things!

I love makers. To me they are people who look for a way to give a gift to the world through the gifts that they have been given. So each month I will be featuring a local maker on our blog and working with them to offer you the chance to experience their art form in our studio workshop through classes and craft socials! Charlene is among many things a book maker, recycler, lover of the outdoors, and she's had a life long case of papyrophilia (love of paper). In elementary school she made her own folders for class - how adorable is that! It makes me smile to think of little Charlene off to class with her own handmade folders. Wherever she travels her journal is always in her bag and the many travel journals she's compiled over her time on this earth would astound you with the beauty they contain watercolors, thoughts, maps, and stunning papers. What a beautiful way to collect your experiences. If you come and meet her for a class I bet she'll even grant you a peak!

For the Month of January she'll have two classes here at Better to gather and one at the YAM! All will be different and wonderful. Here's the information on each of them and more about Charlene here on her website, REBOUND

2015 is a new year and with it come new chances to grow, branch out, share, learn and create. I can't think of a better devotional pursuit in this new year then to keep a journal. If you are going to start a journal it helps to carry around one that you are proud of. I can't think of a better way to do that then to Make a journal. Thursday January 8th from 6-8pm Charlene will show you how and you can register here! BOOK MAKING CLASS

Now if journaling isn't going to be your way of putting words to paper perhaps writing to the people you love who live far away is a better way for you to connect with words and those you love. If so come to a paper class where Charlene will show you how to create your own beautiful handmade cards. If you want to really make someone's day send them a mailed handmade card! It's a simple beautiful gesture they won't soon forget. To take part in that class just go here to register: STATIONARY CLASS

Summer Workshops ARE UP!!!

You guys!!! So much fun stuff to do this summer with us! Download our summer class list
JUST CLICK HERE! you can print it out and put it on your fridge, email it to your buddies and get them to take a class with you, or just keep it on your desktop for days when you feel like doing something stylish, creative, and different!

foraging herb hikes, feathery hair extensions, gardening ideas, home decor string art, painting projects, block parties, farm to table prix fixe dinners under the stars at a ranch, weddings, paper flower making, and that's just skimming the surface. The best part is YOU. You get to be a part of it. We've been working our lil fannies off to create these fun opportunities and collect all the supplies and now all that's missing is one key ingredient.... you.

So please come out and play with us, explore, and create with us. You never know what you might find inside YOU. A hidden talent, a piece of art made from scratch, something to wear, a sense of release...

Find out how you can play a part or take part in what is going to be an epic summer!

Take a photo safari and learn iphoneography

There are so many fun  i-phone apps out there  nowadays, how can you resist playing with them? But it can be hard to know where to start. As a graphic artist and gadget lover I’ve spent many diverting hours playing with my iPhone photo-apps. Lately I’ve especially loved turning mundane images into abstract and artful patterns using a variety of apps. In this post I share with you some of my favorite  apps along with a brief description of what they are best for, and if you’ll indulge me, I’d love to show you a few of my recent pics too!

Retouching Apps:

  • CP Pro: this is my favorite app. I love, love, love it and it has so many great pre-sets and effects. Strangely not much is written about it out there.
  • Snapseed: for subtle shifts and more natural effects most everyone I’ve met swears by this app. I’d say it’s currently my second fave.
  • Brushes: for painting or hand coloring photographs. I love using this to doodle facial
    hair on loved ones. Tres diverting!
  • Osmo leaker: for light leak effects, and fun colorful light blurs.
  • Swanko Lab: to experience a darkroom like effect with different developing times and
    chemicals they even let you shake the photo around in a the photo bath.
  • Camera Plus: an app you take photos within and then can alter all within the same app.
    Haven’t really used this one that much.

Novelty Photo Apps:

  • easyTitler: for adding text to images with a good assortment of fonts and a very simple to use frame work this is a must for bloggers.
  • PhotoFunia: cheesy effects – it’s just meh but, my little sister told me about it so I downloaded it.
  • ColorSplash: coloring one item in a photo. Personally I think this is a pretty cheesy effect to put on photos but sometimes it works.
  • Halftone: turning photos into comic-book like frames. My geeky comic book buddies love this!
  • Mr. Chiizu: goofy doodle-esque borders, animals, and cartoony effects. Your inner japanese schoolgirl will jump for joy if you get this one.

Easy Layout and Frame Apps:

  • Fuzel Pro: diverse shapes, and grids and it gives you the option to create your own shapes. This is my new fave for formatting layouts.
  • Pic Frame: lots of pre-set shapes to choose from just import your photos into them.

Things I want to try:

  • wacom tablets (can’t decide if it’s time for this splurge yet)
  • the VSCO app because I’ve been hearing good things

Do you have any suggestions? These are just the ones currently on my phone but
I’m open to hearing about your favorites too!

The greatest thing about phone-ography is that your phone is almost always handy so it can lead to some great candids of friends or famiy in the moment. One beautiful evening in the park I took these pictures of my lovely friend and songstress, Michele Riganese.

For me shooting a good portrait is the closest I’ll ever come to hunting.  I was literally stalking Michele from the bushes to get these pictures of her. I love  capturing an aspect of  a person I love in a shot. Michele is so serene and at peace in these photos and It makes me happy to have witnessed that.

I experimented with my photo Jojo ultimate lens set . There was a lovely garden all around us and I wanted to experiment with my macro lens. By shooting from behind the flowers I was able to get soft and beautiful framing of color around Michele. What I was hoping to show here is the wonderful range you can get from mixing and matching apps. Some dark and moody images and some sweet and vibrant. I left the photo in the bottom right corner untouched and I kinda love it sometimes you don’t need the fancy apps.

Lately, I’ve been trying to transform photos of ordinary buildings that seem just blah or so-so into beautiful patterns.  It baffled me that some of the images I was taking were “OH WOW” moments in person but then translated into “Oh bummer” moments when I saw the photo on my phone. I am so drawn to forms in architecture but stone and rust don’t always make for the most interesting pics. For example when I was in Omaha of all places and there was this beautiful spanish renaissance revival church (pictured above) and the shapes on the building were stunning. It was so huge and whimsical almost mythical. I wanted to relish that form and highlight it so that I would have a image that felt like what I experienced when I stood beneath the buttresses of that cathedral. It took a few hue, saturation adjustments and some symmetrical mirroring to finally communicate visually the feeling of that place  successfully.


Above, you can see more of my continued exploration with architecture as pattern
in the before and after shots above. Now go get you some great pics!

If you want to come and learn from me in person. I am teaching a class on photo apps for your phone and we are doing a walking picture taking tour here at Better to Gather. So come on down and experience this instead of just reading about it! Click here to register and save your space! Our class and walking tour will take place on May 10th 2014 from 2-4pm and we'll start from Better Together Boutique located at 1938 Grand Ave.

Journaling To Heal

This last Tuesday was our first class in a three part workshop series taught by Anna Paige, a local writer here in Billings. I have much admired Anna's way with words and have been following her blog Pen & Paige. So I was a little nervous to reach out and ask her if she'd consider developing a class for Better To Gather.  Happily she seemed excited by the idea and we made time to meet and daydream up a curriculum. The first class was a little bit of magic just a hand-full of bright women in our small and cozy space talking about the books and poems that had shaped their lives and minds. 

Followed by a mini-craft crash course allowing each lady to customize her own pocket sized journal with a word or phrase that would encourage her to write. These were pounded onto metal plate and carefully stitched into the leather bound journals for each writer. (pictured above) each one completely unique and personal. What would inspire you to write? Here's what inspired us: Fearless, Wanderer, Truth is stranger than fiction, Be Brave & Just Begin, Seek the Amorist, & Breathe. 

Well armed to begin writing we moved on to discussion. Anna had some great encouragement and insights into how journaling can be a key to being healthier. She passed out our first assignment and we each got to work with an initial twenty minutes of free-writing. Here are her helpful do's and don'ts culled from: Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives, by Louise A. DeSalvo. These tips are great for mindful journal writers seeking catharsis and change through writing practice:

Do's:
- write twenty minutes a day. If you feel overwhelmed, try to break it up or work toward 20 minutes sessions. Try different times of day to determine what works best for you.
- Write in a private, safe, comfortable environment.
- Write about issues you're currently living with, something you're thinking of or dreaming about constantly, an unresolved trauma, for instance.
- Write about your joys and pleasures, too.
- Write about what happened. Write how you feel about what happened, and why you feel that way. Try to link events with feelings.
- Try to write detailed, vivid, emotionally compelling narratives. Don't worry about correctness, about grammar, or punctuation.
- This is writing for you. It is okay not to share it with anyone. If you choose to keep your writing, safegaurd it.
- Expect, initially, that in writing in this way you will have complex and appropriately difficult feelings. Make sure you get support if you need it.

Don'ts:

- Don't use  your writing as a substitute for taking action.
- Don't become overly intellectual.
- Don't use writing as a way of complaining. Use it, instead to discover how and why you feel as you do. Simply complaining and venting will probably make you feel worse.
- Don't use your writing to become overly self-absorbed. Over-analyzing everything is counter productive.
- Don't use writing as a substitute for therapy or medical care.

We all left excited to begin discovering what we might uncover about ourselves inside of our journals. Personally I am interested to see how I might progress forward in my life simply by writing more. If you missed out on this class you shouldn't let that stop you from starting your own journal and following the talented, Anna here! 
 

MyFight

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am very passionate about helping individuals in need.  The last 10 years I have been dedicated to crisis volunteer work.  Since opening Better Together I have let that passion die a bit.  So, I am super excited to be involved with Jesse and MyFight!  The fight is too help with extreme poverty!  I have witnessed poverty, abadonment of children due to lack of money and women treated like 2nd class citizens with no respect!  It's sickening and heartbreaking.  You can WEAR MYFIGHT tees, scarves and jewelery-------BTB is selling the merchandise!!!  Every dollar spent goes to women in Ethiopia, giving them the ability to rise from poverty and become the solution!  Thanks,S

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Why you should Shop!

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Admittedly shopping doesn't always seem like a worthy cause but here's the thing it actually is! Your city is made up of hundreds of small business each supporting the lively hood of many people. Those small shops benefit your community in ways you might not even realize. Take us for example, we donate all the clothes we don't sell to local shelters, teens and women from backgrounds of abuse? Or take Bottega, for instance they are throwing fashion show on Dec. 6th to build wells in Africa? These places around you they have heart and they are part of what makes your city unique.

Small business saturday is coming up this month on November 30th and we thought a great way to honor that this month was by SHOPPING. So we chose a few local boutiques, reached out and boy did they deliver! They have offered some really great deals to our Shop-a-thon tour and even if you don't find anything you wanted to buy (which is totally fine - no pressure) then you'll still be supporting the local TipsyTrolley which makes sure people don't drive drunk! So vote with your wallet by supporting the small shops and the local people who strive to make your city the cool, weird, wonderful place it is!

WE have worked to make our day excursion a fun EXPERIENCE! Because that's what Better to Gather believes in and what we are striving toward. Creating moments of connection and fun gatherings for women and families. So come, ride a trolley, get a little jolly, throw back some champagne, try a mini cupcake, have a hay day, be glad that you came, get off your booty and do your civic duty! Shop Billings! 


Here are the announced sponsors & participating boutiques in this event:
Meridian Boutique LTD.
Marcasa
Bottega
Montana Vintage
Joy of Living & Joy of Kids
Better Together
Purl Yarn Boutiqe

Thankful - A week in review

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1.) Saved a Dress: One of the most wonderful thing that's happening right now as I slowly grow this business is I am starting to develop fledgling relationships with people I didn't even know before I started this. People who have been brought in to my life through Better To Gather like this sweet mother and daughter!  People are starting to call me with their creative emergencies which is kinda awesome! these ladies knew that I love to re-vamp clothing and thought maybe I could lend a hand shortening the straps on a pretty dancing dress. Turns out together we did just that and Voila a new dancing dress ready for action! I can't wait to see the pictures.

2.) Admiration Society: It's no surprise that there are so many whip smart women out there building small business. They struggle, they have moments of panic and doubt and then they prove stronger. No matter what else is going on in their lives, they open their shops, set up the booths, make the strong coffee and connect with the people who walk through the door. This little lady, Ren, was one of the first to walk in our doors. She is such a truly talented and sweet woman. Her knitting shop has become a source of inspiration and a comfort circle for many women in the area. I admire her and that fuels me. Learn more about her store by clicking here. In addition to Ren so many other amazing women came out for this weekends market hosted by the junior league of Billings. Thanks ladies you had me smiling all weekend long watching you bust butt! which brings me to my next point.

3.) You gotta hustle: Okay so it's weird to tell everyone you meet at market everything, 10% off, or hey were new in town! You feel like you are coming on too strong but you also realize that there is no other way they'll ever find out if you don't put it out there. So you gotta just do it. Bite the bullet and put it out there.

4.) Make it fun: I love doing my workshops and I really love the response I get at the end of a workshop when the people who came together shared a creative, good time. This group of ladies was a blessing, they were all so sweet and such good sports. We had a few laughs about sniffing glue, and getting our hands dirty and ultimately they reminded me of why I love doing this. 

So that's my week in review and a few of the things I'm grateful for - what about you?

 

Cellphones

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Last week I was feeling real flashy and celebratory because my new i-phone 5s arrived in the mail. I was patiently uploading all my old data, re-entering all my contacts and passwords and when at last I was nearly done somewhere mid victory dance I noticed, "hey wait this thing doesn't fit in my old case anymore?" My i-phone new and improved had also gotten too big for it's britches. Once my minute long pouting session concluded I realized that when life hands you apples that's when you make apple-juice. 

So lets design it better! and because it's what we do round here lets design it together! 

You can sign up for the workshop and we'll make use of your instagram pics, facebook photos, and any images on your phone, camera or flash drive and then we create a custom one-of-a-kind phone case designs by manipulating, images and text. Once we have something you love, we send the digital files off to be printed on your new case via (casetagram so check to make sure they have your phone case available) and only 10-15 days later delivered strait to your door is your new case!

If you have a phone loving teen get them a gift-certificate to come to the shop and design-it-themselves (with yours truly) it'll give them a few basic graphic design pointers and they'll create a new phone case at the same time. 
Register by clicking  here or call me at: 406-647-0835

 

Shopathon

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Holiday shopping time is approaching and we have planned a way to make it a fun day out by taking all the stress out! Pure shopping joy is our end goal.
- cool local boutiques so you can feel good about shopping locally
- each stop on our tour is giving you special treatment and great deals
- we chauffeur you around. so you don't have to park, feed meters, drive or worry.
- we start our tour with bubbly and snacks so you won't get hungry
- we end our excursion with custom gift wrapping included as a freebie when you book.
- we provide support and honest feedback to help you find just the right thing
- you get to just enjoy the ride, the company, and the shopping!

When: Saturday November 16th from 1pm to 4pm
We will start the tour at our location: 1938 Grand Ave.
To join us just call and book a spot: 406-272-6774


 

Simdog and Naked Princess are in the House!

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Two totally different lines!!  We have Simdog: edgy and chic.  Dress it up or down, just an all around fun tee.  AWWW Naked Princess, sensual candles, lovely scented lotion, lip balm and a beautiful gift set with a sample of all three plus some body powder!!    

Come by and check it out!!!   

s  

PopUpShop

Look what we did last night! 

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This Friday we built a pop-up-shop! Which entailed loading a bunch of Cassie's vintage-chic props out storage unit and into our van, selecting some of our pretty things from the Better Together Boutique, and heading down to the Billings Depot. The two of us assembled it all into a fun drop in and shop experience for the attendees of the Taste of Billings. It would have been nice to have a pair of magic elves to do all of this for us but as luck would have it those are hard to find short notice. Instead we relied upon the magical powers of sugar! It was nice to get out there and mingle. We met quite a few new and very nice folks last night and we were grateful for the exposure and the night out. Thanks to the ladies from Radio Billings for sneaking us some yummy food, keeping us organized and helping us unload our van! A huge virtual hug to our new shoppers who helped make the night both memorable and worth the effort! For those of you who missed it Here are a few pictures from last night! 

Cass & Stace

Dress UP!

Listen up, this is a big deal if you love pretty dresses! For the month of October we are celebrating dress up. Come in and try on our pretty dresses and if you find one that speaks to your heart, makes you want to twirl, or hugs your curves just right then you can buy it and get 10%off! Yep, any dress and all dresses at Better Together Boutique for this month only are all 10% off!  

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What's that you say, Jenee?

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My lovely gal-pal and fellow blogger, Jenee Naquin shared the invite I designed for her today on her super fun blog. I constantly check her  blog for her fashion cliff notes and to learn sexy french phrases. She's such a stylish and lovely creature. You can see the results of our shared efforts if you click here.


 

We did it - HIGH FIVE!

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We have been in business for exactly 19 days!!!!  Some might say, "well big deal that's nothing."  But to us it's huge!!!  We have waited, worked, cried and cursed in the process to open this business and make a dream become reality.  We have learned ALOT in those 19 days!!  and will continue to learn, grow and succeed, so give me five!

 

"It's good alone, but certainly Better Together and when we Gather it's even Better!!! "

That's my cheesy attempt of making my own quote.  No more, I promise!!!  I will stick to the buying!!! 

Stace

 

DIY - what a blast!

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On top of having such a lovely evening last night at our Hair wrap & accessory workshop here at Better to Gather we also had the pleasure of being written about by the talent (Jodie) at Billings365 last night. To re-cap here are some pics of our group and what we made. *not pictured here the lovely Jessica Baldwin who also participated.

Check out the post about our craft and the re-cap of our night here!
If you want to get in on the action check out our upcoming events here by clicking on "EVENTS CALENDAR" We have so many more fun workshops coming up be one of the first to come and check them out!

xo - Cassie

 

Check it out - we made bleach art!

We had our first workshop at BTG thanks to all the sweet ladies who made it out. There were some really neat ideas. We busted out our stencil making skills and created trees, swallows, and skulls! It was so wonderful to feel the studio buzzing with everyones ideas. It was a proud moment. Here's a little photo-collage of the hour we spent together making bleach art clothing and if you missed this one - no sweat. We are doing another bleach art workshop next month on October 17th at 5pm.
Check our event's calendar for more info and pre-register if you want to join us!
To make reservation just call: 406-670-1702

 

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Jewelry + Gypsies

Angel Court & Gypsy Junkies are new lines that have just arrived at our boutique. Angel court, is the coolest line of jewelry!!  I love every piece!!  Gypsy Junkies has a wonderful boho, Stevie Nicks vibe that's perfect for fall. Here's a teaser but you'll want to come in and experience how luxurious this burn-out velvet coat feels on cause it's divine.

Hope to see you!! 

S

 

Here's Cassie showing off some of our new inventory! The dress and coat are both here at Better Together Boutique - but they won't be for long!

Here's Cassie showing off some of our new inventory! The dress and coat are both here at Better Together Boutique - but they won't be for long!

A Seat at the Table - Farm Dinner at White Deer Ranch

A beautiful harvest moon, a crisp fall evening, a farm and garden tour from Lee Dunn, a good old fashioned bonfire, a lesson on foraging for native plants, an adorable lady named Lena wearing vintage clothing and serving wine, Lovely conversation under the eaves of a simple half shed, glowing candlelight atop shed antler candelabras, antique heirloom lace tablecloths, table side service from the team at Montana Jacks, and a belly-full of amazing food from the truly creative chef, Chris Lockhart.

I'm still remembering what a truly pleasant night I passed last evening and it gives me such bliss to know that I was part of it. Creating intimate moments of connection is one of the joys of my life and last nights gathering was a success. A warm thank you to those who were in attendance last night and to those who couldn't make it this time (since we sold out so darn fast). Email me at bettertogatherevents@gmail.com so I can personally keep you well informed about the next dinner and make sure that you'll have a seat the table. 

I'll leave you with a great quote by Joel Salatin and some images of the Farm and the community surrounding White Deer Ranch. I hope it gives your heart a tug and gets you excited for fall. Cheers Everybody!

Cassie,
Lead Coordinator with Better to Gather Events

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