Friday, December 30, 2011

A bit of a slacker, but I enjoyed my Christmas!

I've been neck-deep in my sewing corner this past month making fun goodies for Christmas. Did I take a picture of half of them to post? No. But maybe if you're really good next year I'll post them as ideas for next years Christmas presents. :)

To hopefully make up for my slackerness, I'm giving you this: 101 Ways to Save Money Now! I found this article in Parent Map magazine, a Seattle based parenting magazine. It's wonderful and FREE itself. They have articles on anything and everything pertaining to parenthood, they host events, have a Seattle events calender, and a hardcopy can be picked up for free at most libraries and other kid-friendly stores. Check out the article and peruse their website, I'm sure you will find other goodies.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kid's Tights 2

About a month ago I posted about an awesome idea about making/repurposing kid's tights and here is where it led me.

My youngest suffers from a lot, but one thing she really struggles with is being a little on the skinny side. She has no blubber on her body so she's constantly cold, even on warmer days. Layers of clothing is my remedy, but you can only layer so many pairs of pants. I love Baby Legs but can't really afford to buy a bunch (cost ranging from $8-$15 a pair). And I've been meaning to crochet her some wool leggings and just haven't gotten around to it.

The other day I  was about to throw away a pair of socks that had a rather large hole in them when I thought about the kid's tights. I simply cut off the foot part of the socks. That's it. I was done. You wanted more instructions? Well, there ain't none! :)

No sewing required!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cutest Bookmarks Ever

I thought it would be nice to give my son-in-law bookplates as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. He likes to read and has a lot of books. I got online and did a search for bookplates. I checked out a few sites and then I found myself at HP’s site
Book Plates
Not only did I find some great bookplates but I found some bookmarkers that you can easily insert a picture into. I added pictures of my granddaughter and they are the cutest. This is all free (though there are some things on the site that do cost). I also found scrap booking printouts, party kits that include invitations, favors, hats, all that you need for a themed party and a bunch of other stuff. I even found “How to Train Your Dragon” bookmarks for my grandsons. All you need to do is to print it. You ought to check it out and see if there is anything you can use for Christmas gifts. All it costs is the paper and ink to print it. Can’t get much cheaper than that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garage Sale Bliss

I'm always happy when I find a good deal, but this one was fabulous. I stopped by a garage sale the other day (yes, there are still garage sales in November!) and was pleasantly surprised by my findings. I bought the following:
  • a practically brand new file tote (I have been wanting a new one to replace a broken one for about 2 years now)
  • a black boa and a pink flowered lei for my girl's dress up box
  • a 2 Tlbs cookie dough scoop
  • some Lego wheels and toy cars (I want the wheels from them for a Christmas present I'm making)
  • and a brand new, unfinished floating corner shelf so I can get my 1-year-old out of some electronics
Can you guess how much I paid for all of that???? Come on, just guess.

Only $3!!!!!!!!!! I would have paid $3 for just the tote at a thrift store. I didn't even have to barter with the guy. He named the price.

I know, I'm amazing. :-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Pretty Darn Good Barter

I am pretty proud of this. I can hardly contain it! : )

It was about time for family pictures. I thought I could just ask a friend to snap a few photos on my camera but that didn't excite me to much. I wanted something better. We had some family pictures that were stunning a few years back and I wanted that again. They were a fortune so I knew we wouldn't get that, but still I wanted something in that direction. That's where Megan comes in.

My friend Megan (you'll remember her from the Frugal Wrapped Canvas Photos post) is a photographer and said that she would do them. I knew I couldn't pay her anything so asked if we could barter something and she agreed. All she wanted was some crocheted hats for use when she did baby photos. And I have a huge bin of yarn so that didn't cost me anything but my time.

Next, my husband and I badly needed haircuts. Another friend of ours gladly bartered two haircuts in exchange for a night of babysitting. No problem there, her girl is easy!

After a new haircut, I needed new clothes. No room in the budget for even a new shirt so I raided my sister-in-law's closet for some 'new to me' clothes.

Lastly, a wonderful friend of mine offered to come and babysit Megan's kid while she was taking our pictures so we didn't have to hire a babysitter. That deserves cookies at least.

Result: Close to free pictures (a little bit of gas to drive to the park) that I'm excited to share!

Just check out a few:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Ornament

My name is Carol and Cindi is my wonderful youngest daughter. She is letting me test my very limited skills at new technology (well, new for me anyway) by letting me contribute to her blog.

One of the things that I do at Christmas for my grandchildren is the 12 Days of Christmas. I made bags out of Christmas material that I had in my fabric stash. One for each day. I then find little things to put in them that they may like. This year I decided to include an ornament. I’m on a kick to use up all the supplies that I have on hand. (I’m trying to reduce all the stuff that my kids will have to go through when I die. You know how it is when an old lady dies, she has boxes and boxes of “stuff”) I had seen a Christmas tree ornament made out of a zipper in a magazine. Well, I have a bunch of zippers that I will never use so I went to my zipper drawer (yes, it is indeed a drawer, but a little one) and sorted through them and didn’t find any green zippers that would work. I had some white coat zippers and thought I could make some snowmen. With a bit of trial and error I came up with one that didn’t look too bad. I even found an orange zipper to use for the nose.

What you will need is a white zipper (I used a 28 inch jacket zipper, which makes two, but any zipper over 17 inches will work), an orange zipper or orange felt or other material for the nose, ribbon, yarn or material for the scarf and some button thread, carpet thread or some other thicker thread to use for the loop to hang the ornament from.

Cut the white zipper into two lengths. One 17 inches for the body and one 81/2 inches for the head. Make a circle so that it will complete the circle twice. (see picture) for both the head and body. I glue both ends of the zipper and then put a dot of glue opposite the ends to keep the circle together. When you do this for the head make sure you don’t put the dot of glue where you will be sewing on the loop. You can’t get a thread and needle through the glue (ask me how I know this).  Using a glue gun, glue the circles together. Cut a triangle for the nose. With the orange zipper I cut it so the coils of the zipper were up. Add the scarf and glue in place. Add the loop hanger and then stand back and admire your handiwork.

If you don’t have a stash of zippers you might ask your mom or grandma or the nice old lady next door. They may have just what you need.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Didn't Spend a Dime!

I spent this weekend working at a scrapbooking and keepsake fair and loved it. Though I was a little worried because I love to scrapbook and thought I might spend what I was suppose to be earning, I made it through without spending a dime! However, I didn't walk away empty handed. I got a few minutes to browse during a break and it was fun to get some ideas from fellow scrapbookers. I learned about a new product that I have fallen in love with (Fabulous Sticky Products) and I found a new online store that could save me some money in the future (

It also came to me that a good way to get into something like that for free is to volunteer or find a vendor that needs temporary help. You can get paid to have fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post: Inexpensive Developmental Gifts/Toys for 3 and Under

This post comes from my sister, Anne, who is a Family Educator for Early Head Start. A lot of these could be 'spruced' up to make it a shower gift or a Christmas gift. Let your creativity shine. Thank you Anne for all the awesome ideas!

Inexpensive Developmental Gifts/Toys for 3 and Under

1)      Old plastic peanut/mayonnaise jar, cleaned - this is an amazing toy! Here are some uses:

a)      fill with shiny/noisy small things, put lid back on, and put in front of a child learning to crawl (acts as incentive as they push it away and then have to move forward to get to it again)

b)      play "clothes pins in the bottle" with jumbo crayons (nice large opening for beginners, as they get better swap for an old water bottle)

c)       put a piece of string or yarn around the neck of the jar, fill with shiny/noisy things, close lid, hold by ends of the string to hang above baby's feet to encourage kicking

d)      use contact paper and paste pictures of familiar things around the outside of the jar to create a "roller book", sit across from each other and roll it back and forth, when you catch it respond to the picture your finger lands on (farm animals, make that animal's noise; family members, yell that person's name; etc.)

e)      put your mouth up to the jar and take turns talking or reading a story into the jar (great for kids behind in communication skills)

2)      Laundry basket - just the right height to use as a prop when learning to walk, pulling to stand, etc. also a great way to exercise large muscle groups (hiding under it, pushing it around the room, climbing in and out, etc.) NOTE: use for pulling to stand might require a weight inside or it will tip over. Also, parental supervision is a good idea with this one.

3)      Collapsible mesh laundry basket - light enough for the child to carry around, great for putting toys in and out of, easy to stash away (collapses to 5 inch circle) NOTE: Watch for tears and wires getting lose.

4)      Texture quilt - cut up old clothes of different textures (corduroy, shiny, mesh, wool, fuzzy, nubby, etc.) and sew into a quilt the baby can have tummy time on. Add short pieces of ribbon or fabric that won't fray for some extra fun. Great fine-motor practice and neural stimulation.

5)      Box and metal juice lids - Decorate the box (old wipe boxes work great, cereal boxes are fine but tend to have a short life) and cut out a slot. Practice putting juice lids into the slot. Decorate the juice lids with various shapes and colors for added fun sorting and counting.

6)      Foam - cut various shapes out of craft foam, punch a hole in the middle of each shape and string them together. Babies have fun exploring the shapes, older kids can organize them or pretend with them.

7)      Yarn balls - wrap yarn around and around a book, take it off and tie it tightly around the middle, cut the loops - ta da! a pom pom. Fun for older kids to throw and catch (won't hurt like some balls do), fun for younger kids to explore the textures and learn hand and finger skills by pulling the little strings out. NOTE: strings are short enough that they shouldn't get wrapped around body parts and cause a problem, but be aware of the possibility if you are making large balls, also watch for strings as a choking hazard.

8)      Teething doll - sew an old sock inside of a washcloth (ghost style), stitch or draw a face on to the doll, give to a child who is teething to chew on. Wet the ends a little for a different experience. Toss in the wash with other clothes after each use.

9)      Blocks - save (clean) old juice boxes, milk cartons, etc. When you have two of one kind, cut the tops off and put one inside the other. Tape closed or wrap with paper like a present. Allow older child to color the block.

10)   Dress-up clothes - ask for used Halloween costumes, dresses, hats, etc. from friends whose children have outgrown them.


25% off

Someone gave me a code for 25% off at, a baby and kids online clothes retailer, valid from November 10th to November 13th. I'm not super familiar with them but just from glancing on there they have some cute stuff. I also found a whole bunch of $2.99-$3.99 shirts, skirts, and pants. Some of them were only $1.99! Take 25% off that and it's a steal for brand new clothes.
Happy shopping!

Remember this code is only good November 10-13, so don't procrastinate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kid's Tights

Someone sent me a link to Choose to Thrive blog (go check it out) that had an awesome article on making your own kids tights out of cheap women's knee highs and an old, hole-filled pair of kids tights. They are super cute! I only wish I had thought of it first. :)

Make Your Own Girls Tights!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making those credit card miles work!

Today I realized that I had unused credit card miles that could have gone toward a flight purchase I made a few weeks ago. My bill is not due yet, so I just went online and redeemed a $100 voucher with my "miles" and voila! my credit card bill is $100 less. I saved $100 by using a credit card. (You won't hear me say that very often.)

We got out of the habit of using credit cards for everyday purchases several years ago, but I love earning free money. We ALWAYS pay our monthly balance and so we really do get free money. With good credit, finding a card that gives you amazing perks is not too hard. Just make sure that you are responsible and disciplined enough to only put on what you need. We strictly put big purchases and reoccurring bills only on our cards. That way we don't ever get surprised by the balance. They are all calculated purchases.

I hesitated posting this because of how easy it is to get out of control with a credit card (believe me, we know). However, I think it's good to see how you can really make your money work for you. Just be careful!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Membership Savings

Today we went to a children's museum here in the Seattle area that we have a membership to. The membership was a gift, but I was thinking how much cheaper it really is to get a membership if you are going to go multiple times. Let's break it down.

I come with my two girls and admission is $7.95 per person. That's $23.85 every time. Sometimes my husband comes to, so we'll throw in an extra admission every couple of times. A basic annual membership is $85. So we would only need to come three times for our membership to pay for its self.

Let's take another local attraction. The Pacific Science Center is $14 for an adult (16+) and $7 for a child (3-5). The PSC is usually a whole family event for us so our cost would be $35 every time (since our youngest is under 3). Another thing is that you can throw grandparents into this family membership, so it could be $63 per visit if granparents were coming. An annual family membership is $80. For our family we would only need to come three times for our membership to pay for its self. If we included the grandparents (who often visit with us) it would only be two times. And if the grandparents are AAA members (10% discount) the membership would only be $72. It would almost pay for its self the first visit! I didn't even account for the fact that if you wanted to see an IMAX film you would need to pay $8 more per person.

Of course you need to ask yourself if you will actually use it or need it, and don't forget to think about transporation costs. Like I always say, break it down and see if it's worth it! Those pesky math skills that you never thought you'd need again come in handy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You know you're a frugal nut when.....

You know you're a frugal nut when you save the string and the handles from the 25lb bag of sugar you just bought.

I turned to my husband and said, "I think I've gone crazy." His reply, "What on earth are you going to use those handles and string for?" It was a reasonable question since we share the same space and I thought I had a pretty good reply. The handles could be used to make my girls a shopping tote or purse for their dress up and the string, well I always keep random string and ribbons. For projects like these:

[A fairy wand completely made out of ribbon and fabric scraps. I know....I'm good. :)]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Art Hour

My daughter and I had some wonderful craft time today. My daughter (master feather placer and gluer) and I (paper cutter and gluing director) made a simple turkey today that was pennies to construct and a whole lot of fun to do! We tend to do a lot of coloring and paper crafts because they are cheap. But I have found that the imagination can pretty much go anywhere with some paper and a pen and so my girl is satisfied.

The other item in the picture is a used popsicle stick that I washed the other day to put in her craft box. She can go through a lot of craft supplies so I'm always on the lookout for things that I can stuff in there. I've put in paper bags, random stickers, magazines, old gift tags, etc. and they all seem to get used up one way or another.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reusing Envelopes

I have officially run out of envelopes from a box that my parents bought me in college. It was a sad, sad day since I no longer have fresh blank envelopes. : (  You may ask "how did that box last her so long?" (Especially since many of you know how long ago I entered college.) Well, it's because of how often I reuse/repurpose envelopes.

Any envelopes I receive to send back payments and such, I keep. You can just put a white label over an unwanted address or white it out. There's no law against reusing an envelope you just have to make sure it's clear where you want it sent and put the proper postage on it. The only thing that I have come against is that you have to make sure to black out any barcodes. Otherwise the automated USPS system will send your letter somewhere you don't want it to go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Yesterday I told someone that I canned applesauce last Saturday. (Yum!) She questioned if it was cheaper to can your own food versus buying it at the store. My answer is usually a firm "yes," but it got me thinking as to how much a difference it was.

Let's take the applesauce for example. I paid $28 for 40lbs of apples. It costs me on average $0.25 per canning lid and I processed 19 quarts.
My grand total = $32.75
Price per oz = $0.06
I priced a Mott's Natual Applesauce at $5.99 for 23 oz
Price per oz = $0.26
19 qts of Mott's = $158.34

I just saved $125.59!!! Is it cheaper to can your own applesauce? YES!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Frugal Wrapped Canvas Photos

This tip comes from my friend, Megan. She was telling me a few days ago about a way to get the canvas picture look without the high price tag. In a nutshell she mounted a photo enlargement onto a canvas she bought herself and painted the sides of the canvas. She got this idea from the blog bexcaliber and there are detailed instructions on how to do it on her site (just click on the link). Here is Megan's cost break down:

Total for a two-pack of 11x14 canvases with Joanns 50% off coupon: $6.50
Total for two 11x14 prints from Costco: $5.74
Total for one bottle of Elmer's spray glue from Joanns with 50% off coupon: $2.39
Bottle of black acrylic paint= 75 cents from Joanns
Grand total= About $15.50 total for TWO 11x14 canvases compared to about $60 (Kits Camera) or $80 ( EACH.

That saves you $144.50 if you were going to get one from Shutterfly.

The other great thing is that the spray glue and paint can be used for other projects too. Thank you Megan for telling me about this awesome money saving project!

Uses for Newspaper Roll Ends

Thanks to a previous boss who had me pick these up for him while he was moving, I was made aware of newspaper roll ends. They are the ends of rolls that newspapers print on that they can't use. The Seattle Times here in Bothell, WA give them away for free. Here are just a few ways to use them:
  • packing paper
  • art paper
  • sewing patterns
  • wrapping paper
I'm sure the list could go on and on, but I'll leave that to those of you who comment!

Here's how my daughter used it today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Coupons and Making The Drive

I needed material to make some PJ pants and decided to order the material online. However when I looked at the shipping price ($6.95) I decided to take the time and make the drive (about $2). The other reason for my trip was that I had a 50% off coupon and didn't want to let such a valuable thing go to waste and expire.
My coupon saved me $20.61 and my drive saved me $5. I just saved $25 by making the drive and using a coupon. I know it may be the opposite in some situations but take the time to figure it out, it might just save you money.

Here's another thought your way. Those PJs that I'm making, they are for a Christmas present. I have already figured out what I'm getting most of the people on my list and have started to look for them on sale or are gathering materials to make them. I am almost done shopping and have hardly spent anything. I can't quite divulge what I'm making and give you break downs for fear of someone on my list figuring out what they are getting, but I will try to remember after Christmas to tell you how I did.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Costco or Not to Costco

In my money saving schemes I once made a deal with another family to split their Costco membership just so I could save $25/year. Before I did anything rash I actually sat down and did the numbers.

At the time, and just looking at gas, our local gas station was $.10 more expensive than Costco gas. We filled up about once a week for a 11-gallon tank car.
52 weeks in a year*(.1*11) = $57.20
A Costco membership is $50 a year, so just in gas I save $7.20 a year. However, this does not even count the groceries (or cellphones--coming soon) that I save on every year from shopping there. You do have to be careful though because not everything is cheaper. They get you on some items.

So, if I had paid for part of the membership I would have only gotten groceries since we wouldn't have had our own card and would have been to the mercy of whenever my friend went to Costco. Since we get gas there too it is worth it to have our own memebership.
It goes to show that sometimes you should crunch the numbers. Your findings might surprise you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wheat Grinding

Over the weekend my husband and I ground wheat into flour. This was a brand new experience for both of us, but we are pleased with our results.

The budget is pretty tight right now so after we ran out of flour we decided to use the buckets of wheat we had stored. I can't remember how much the wheat was (we purchased it over three years ago), but by borrowing someones wheat grinder we didn't have to pay a cent for three 4-gallon buckets worth of flour.

We used the flour twice yesterday, once for pancakes and once cornbread, and it was so good! I couldn't believe the difference fresh flour made on taste.

THE NUMBERS: My source of wheat (LDS Church's Home Storage Centers, costs $11.45 for a 25lb bag. So 25lbs of whole wheat flour is $11.45 by grinding your own wheat. Going to the store and buying whole wheat flour costs me about $6 for 5lbs which is about $30 for 25lbs. I just saved myself $18! Even if you bought a grinder, the cost of it would be covered over a few years and you would be surprised how many people have grinders just sitting around being useless. They are begging to be used! Begging! (Can you hear them?)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Speaking of Rapunzel....

We're on our way to see "Rapunzel" at Molbaks in Woodinville, WA. For those of you who don't know, Molbaks is a garden nursery and boutique. In addition to other fun events they have year round, they also do plays. And they are FREE. My oldest is pumped! I couldn't be a cooler mom right about now. :)

Below is Molbaks "Rapunzel" times and days. It runs through the end of October.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Rapunzel.....let down your hair! Now you say it, mommy."

This is the phrase I keep hearing from atop my daughters bunk bed as she pleads for me to say it to her. Guess what she wants to be for Halloween?

When she told me that she wanted to be Rapunzel for Halloween I cringed at the thought of paying for a Disney princess dress. I never imagined a Disney Rapunzel dress would be $42.50. $42.50 for a one time wear dress!!! I don't think so. I was talking with my mother-in-law about my daughter's wishes and she immediately thought of a purple skirt that I could use for material. With that in hand I watched Tangled for the millionth time with my daughter and just looked at her dress. I could make that, I thought.

Next trip to the fabric store I scowered the sale patterns to see if I could find anything close to it and low and behold I find the trademarked Disney Rapunzel costume pattern. And even better it was on sale for $0.99! Needless to say I picked it up. The purple skirt wasn't quite enough for the entire dress, but I sifted through my fabric bin and found enough scraps of a white material to do the rest with. I had scrap ribbon (from my wedding 9 years ago) and I just used white thread.

Grand total? $1.08 for one Rapunzel costume that my husband has dubbed "adorable." To make things even more adorable I'm going to use more left over material from my wedding and make our youngest Pascal (the chameleon from Tangled). Her costume will be completely free.

(The yellow is fabric for her very long hair.)

Even if you don't know how to sew you can borrow, trade, and barter for a killer costume this year. In fact I just heard about a store in Kirkland, WA that is doing a costume swap. Its deadline is past (I heard about it too late), but I'm sure there are others like it out there. Just get creative and spread the word. You never know who will have what you need.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Messy Eater

My youngest is a really messy eater. And to make things worse her neck is so skinny none of the waterproof bibs completely cover her neck. All of her shirts have a brown haze on their necklines. Instead of buying new clothes, or new bibs, I got creative and made these:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh Cheap!

I was at a playgroup today and the hosting mother had a craft out. And what an easy and inexpensive craft it was. The kids made paper bag puppets and then put on a puppet show. Each kid used one paper bag, scraps of paper, and crayons. If you were to purchase the materials it would only cost a few cents per puppet! I usually keep small paper bags in good condition for such an occasion and I scrapbook so I always have a pile of scraps for my daughter to use. I could safely do this craft for free.

No need to pay outrageous prices for art kits. A well stocked art corner (with lots and lots of free and recycled materials) are all you need.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Returning for good......hopefully!

I'M BACK! I have survived another child's baby years and am ready to get back into blogging. :) I will be doing it a little bit different than I did before but posts will still be packed with money saving tips and creative ideas to help anyone live more frugally. Hope you enjoy!