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.