Saturday, March 28, 2009

I fell in love....

....with cleaning and organizing my house!

I'm hosting a party at my home this coming Thursday night, and so today has been dedicated to cleaning my house. Of course I will have to keep it clean throughout the week, but I wanted to get the big chores done and over with. I started looking around my house, and I began to get really depressed. It seems like no matter how hard I try, I just can't keep everything clean and decluttered! And trust me, I know how to clean. I grew up in a home that looked like a museum all the time--even my friends called it "the museum!" I don't know how my mom did it!

Well, I decided to look to the Internet for some ideas on how to keep my house clean, decluttered, and organized. I checked out several websites that gave some useful information, but they all wanted to sell me something. Being the thrifty girl that I am, I am definitely NOT going to pay for someone to tell me how to clean. I then stumbled upon a website called Organized Home. The second that I started to read this, my heart started to flutter, my knees went weak, and I knew I was in love!

Organized Home give you tons of information for cleaning and organizing your house, and you don't have to pay for it! Some of the topics that you can choose from are Clean House, Cutting Clutter, Get Organized, In The Kitchen, Family Ties, and Printables! Each topic has many different stories that you can choose from. There is even a fourteen week plan to organizing and cleaning your entire house--I'm not talking about regular cleaning--I'm talking thorough, crazy cleaning! You will love it!

I think that my favorite area of this website is the Printables area. It has so many different pages that you can print for FREE!!! You definitely need to check this out, because there are way to many printables for me tell you about. A few of them are: Daily To-Do List, Monthly Menu Planner, Pantry Inventory, Freezer Inventory, Craft Inventory, etc. Call me naive, but I never even thought about doing an inventory on my freezer or pantry!

I went through and organized all of my stacks and piles of craft items! I thought I would never get done. But I did, and it looks so much better! I still definitely have a long way to go to get my entire home decluttered and organized, but it sure looks a lot better, and I am ready for my party!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Obsession: APRONS!!!

Okay...I honestly don't know what it is about aprons, but I absolutely love them! I love full aprons and half aprons, vintage aprons and brand new aprons, and bright colored and muted colored aprons! If it is an apron, I've gotta have it! There are aprons that are made to where they have a great flirty shape when you put them on-I love these....they are probably my favorite!

I have come up with a list of possible reasons that I love these little gems so much! Here it is!

*They make me feel girly.
*For some reason, when I put one on, I feel like a better wife and mother.
*The patterns are so pretty that they dress up what you are wearing.
*You don't get your clothes dirty.
*I feel like I get more done when wearing one-it's an inspiration!
*People always say, "Oh...I love that apron!" If I just have on normal clothes, they usually don't say anything at all. (I know that this is completely vain of me, but sometimes a girl needs a compliment!)
*I feel like June Cleaver...which as hard as I may try, I will definitely never be.
*They make me proud of the job that I am doing.
*Just because I do.

Well, you all probably think that I am a total and complete freak now, but I don't care! I would scream it from the rooftops! I LOVE APRONS!!!! I know that there have got to be some of you out there that share my love....please leave me a little support with a comment! I would like to know that I'm not the only one out there!

I think that this obsession started when my Mother-in-Law gave me an apron as a gift right after my husband and I had gotten married. It is a pretty turquoise half-apron that has two pockets on the front, ties in the back, and has beautiful multi-colored embroidered flowers on it. When I opened it, I thought to myself, "What an odd she trying to tell me to be more domestic or something?" Well, the apron laid in a drawer for a couple of years, and I never thought once about it. Then one day, I came across it, and I decided to put it on when I made dinner that night. That is the night that the magic happened! I was totally swept off of my feet and the apron obsession began.

Now as you know, I am all about saving money. I have to make a confession though. I have spent quite a bit of money on aprons. I am a very crafty person, but just haven't really known how to sew, and I haven't had a sewing machine.....until now! My Mother-in-Law got a brand new, top-of-the-line sewing/embroidery machine, and decided she didn't need her old one (which I might add is a older model, top-of-the-line Bernina). So, she knew that I was really into making things, and decided to pass it down to me! Yea! Thank you MIL! My mother is totally jealous, because as she says, "It is totally the Cadillac of sewing machines!"

Well, I have found a blog that I just absolutely love! It is called "This and That." It is run by Angie out of Alberta, Canada, and she has tons of great tutorials on her site! And guess what?! Today's tutorial is "How to Make a Hostess Apron!" Thank you so much Angie! I now know how to make an apron, and maybe, I can stop spending so much money on them! She also has tons of other tutorials on her blog that I am so glad that I have found. You should definitely check her out! Her blog is: I am sure that you will love her as much as I do. I am now a devoted follower of hers too!

I also have to give some love to one of my new favorite Etsians! The picture of the beautiful girl holding the shovel in the apron, is from momomadeit! I love her aprons! She is so talented! I hope to one day have the type of talent that she does. I am so jealous....talented and beautiful.... Anyway, her site is

As much as I love talking about aprons, I had better run! If I talk to much about this, I am going to be tempted to go shopping for more! Hmmm....maybe I'll go shopping for some great fabric that I can use to make my own.....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Make Extra Money

Well...not good news around our household. My husband got laid off yesterday. :( This was totally unexpected! So now, we are really going to be attempting to find more ways to save/make money. I have come up with a list of several ways to make extra money. These are not guaranteed to make you tons of money, but every little bit helps, right?

1. Have a Garage Sale - Sure, people are buying less these days, but more and more people are looking for great deals. As people's incomes are decreasing, they are turning to discount stores, consignment shops, and garage sales to find items they need at lower prices. Having a garage sale is a great way to sell all those items that you never use anymore, and have no space for.

2. Sell Items on eBay - If you don't have enough items to justify a garage sale, eBay is a great place to sell items that you no longer use. A lot of people also make money doing something known as eBay arbitrage where they scour for deals on popular products, buy them, and turn around and sell those products on eBay for a profit. For example, Office Deport may offer an unbelievable deal on a popular brand of laptop computer and limit it to only 5 per store. A person gets up early and purchases the computer and then turns around and sells it on eBay. You can find these types of opportunities on Slickdeals and FatWallet. I also knew one lady who went to garage sales and thrift stores looking for brand name clothes to re-sell on eBay for a decent profit. I know that I have done this, and have made a big profit on an item that I spent very little on.

3. Put clothes on consignment - During recessions people tend to shop more at consignment stores to save money on clothing. If you have a closet filled with clothes you haven't worn in over one or two years you might gather them up and take them down to the nearest consignment store. Some stores offer you more if you take a credit for their store. If you shop there regularly, this might be something that you should take advantage of.

4. Babysit - Babysitting is a great way to make a little extra money. You can post fliers at your local church, or throughout your neighborhood. There are also some websites out there where you can list home services. Also, many times places like grocery stores and colleges will let you post fliers on a bulletin board with approval.

5. Rent out a Room - If you have an extra room in your home consider renting it out to make a little extra cash. With foreclosures on the rise, more and more people will be looking for places to rent. I would recommend that you do some research of who you are letting into your home. You can never be too cautious these days, and you don't want a criminal living in your home.

6. Bake/Craft Sales - Do you make an amazing pound cake, or beautiful stationary? You might consider selling your bake goods at a local farmers market. For craft items you could sell them at local arts & crafts fairs, on eBay, or sites like

7. Medical research - More than a few people have made some extra money by participating in clinical trials and medical research. Some medical research is pretty harmless such as answering questions in an MRI machine. Heres an account from GetRichSlowly. You can also sell your plasma at local plasma donation sites. They actually pay really well, and you get a check as soon as you're done donating.

8. Marketing Focus Groups - You might look-up local marketing research firms in your area and call them to see if you can be placed on their calling list for upcoming focus groups. The way it works is when they have an upcoming focus group they will call people on their list to find people who qualify based on certain characteristics such as age, sex, products used in the past year, etc.

9. A part-time Job - Consider taking on a part-time job. Some common part-time jobs include catering staff, ushers at sports events, and other types of temp and seasonal work. If you are looking for a part-time job in retail, I would recommend trying to work at a place that you shop at regularly. This way you can get an employee discount on the items that you regularly purchase.

10. Start a Blog or Niche Site - Do you have a hobby or subject you are passionately interested in. You might consider starting a blog or niche website. A word of caution, everyone thinks they are going to make a ton of money doing this and it is very rarely the case. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and time before a site starts to cover the full cost of your time. But if you are passionate about a subject, and are already spending time on it, why not earn a little extra money running a blog about it and connecting with others who share the same passion.

11. Offer Your Services on Craigslist - Craigslist has several categories where you can offer up your services. Common ones include domestic service, man with a van, catering and other types of service related work.

12. Bank Promos - Be on the lookout for bank promo offers as they can be a great way to earn a couple hundred bucks per year. Just last week I was offered $50 to open a checking account with First Fidelity Bank. Many times, you can find these on SlickDeals and FatWallet. You could also setup a Google Alert for "Bank Promo" or other related keywords.

I hope that this list has given you some ideas on ways to make some extra money. If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment! We all appreciate suggestions during these rough economic times!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ode to IKEA

Okay...I have to say it...I heart IKEA!!!! It is quite possibly my favorite place in the whole world. You can go spend an entire day at the store (it should be called a city because it is so huge), and never see the same thing twice! It is a decorators dream come true. Not only are the items beautiful, but they also are amazingly inexpensive! So....I have decided to do some browsing, and show you some of my favorite things from this shopping mecca. (By the way-we furnished almost our entire home with IKEA products, and we spent right around $1000.00! This would have cost tens of thousands of dollars at other high-end retailers.)

Beautiful "Beata" Decorative Pillow-$14.99-At least half the price that you would pay at most stores!

"Hemnes" Queen size Bed-Also comes in white-$299.00-Whatmore can I say? The price is amazing!

"Solig" Beach Bag-$1.49 -I could carry a bunch of stuff in these!

"Luns" Writing/Magnetic Board-$14.99-Okay people...this is a seriously good deal. You would pay about $60.00 for this at Pottery Barn!

For those of you who love "shabby chic"-"Ektorp" chair-$349.00-also available in other fabrics

"Lack" Coffee Table-$49.99-Seriously...a great item for the price! I own this and love it. And, it is so inexpensive, that if it gets messed up, we can afford to buy a new one!
Isn't this beautiful? It is "Mixtur" priced at $8.99 or all four pieces! It is actually for food and can be used in the oven, but I can think of a ton of other things that i could use this for!

I love this "Borrby" Lantern priced at $6.99. It would be beautiful to use inside or out! Put a candle inside of it, or fill it up with some pretty greenery.

This pretty "Hasthov" blanket will be a nice accent in any room. $12.99

I think that this "Granas" table and chairs would be the perfect touch in a dining area. You can't beat the price-$249.99 for the table and four chairs!

I think that this "Barnslig Rund" rug is just adorable for a child's room or playroom. And, the price is adorable too at $12.99!

Well, I hope that you have enjoyed looking at some of my favorite IKEA finds! Leave me a comment, and let me know what your favorite item at IKEA is! I would love to hear from you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Great Weekend Project!

With Spring finally here, it is time to start spending more time outdoors. Playing in the sandbox was one of my favorite things to do when I was a child. For those of you with children, this is a very simple and inexpensive project that your children will really enjoy!


1. Pick out a spot of the right size and shape for your desired sandbox.

Things to Consider:
Drainage after a rain storm, shade for the kids who may play for hours out there, line of sight for the adults watching over the kids, proper type of sand (see tips below)

2. Get black plastic garden tarp.

3. Get 2X4's or 2X6's that will fit the size of area you need. Consider wood that has been treated and is non toxic or synthetic decking 'wood.'

4. Dig a 3-inch-deep hole in the squared area with a shovel.

5. Take your boards and put three nails or screws in from top to bottom.

6. Lay the boards (which now should be in the shape of a square) and take the black plastic garden tarp and lay it on one side of the square to the other and do this until the square is covered completely. Staple the plastic to the boards.

7. Flip the square over and set it in inside the hole.

8. Fill with sand.


Consider a seating rail around the inside or outside of the sandbox where the kids can sit or place toys.

Bigger is better for the kids. A little sandbox doesn't allow for friends.

Don't use plastic. You'll end up with a muddy swimming pool after it rains. Use landscape fabric so the water can drain naturally.

If there are lots of cats, rabbits, other 'friendly' creatures in your area, consider enclosing the sandbox in screening or chicken wire so the kids aren't playing in animal droppings.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ways to Save Money on Utilities

When it comes to household bills, utilities can be some of your highest bills. I have put together a list of tips to help cut the cost of those bills. I know that you probably can't do all of them, but even just doing a couple of them will save you some serious money in the long run.

Minimize electricity use during peak hours (weekdays during work hours). Do laundry, use hot water, etc. in the evenings.

Cook enough for several meals at once.

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.

Turn off shower when shampooing and soaping.

Work or read in the same room with family members or roommates to consolidate light usage.

Take advantage of natural daylight to get your work done. Sleep when it’s dark, get up as soon as it is light (before sunrise).

Hold off on personal phone calls that can wait until evenings and weekends when rates are lower or free.

Wash things on the lawn to water the grass at the same time.

Water the lawn or garden in the early morning or after sundown. Skip watering on windy days.

Use curtains to keep your house cool in summer and warm in winter.

Keep thermostat lower in the winter and wear extra layers.

Don’t separate colors in your laundry; instead, hand wash items that bleed. This way, you can reduce the number of loads. Saves water, electricity and soap.

Keep thermostat as high as can be tolerated in summer without harming your pets, antiques and musical instruments.

Drink lots of cold water to keep cool and reduce need for air conditioning.

Turn off air conditioning in late afternoon, open doors and windows and turn on fans. Spring is a great time to enjoy the fresh air!

Using ceiling fans in summer and winter (reverse directions to push warm air down).

For laundry, set a shorter dryer time. It’s better to have to do a touch up instead of using unnecessary gas or electricity. You’d be surprised how little time some clothing need to dry. If taken out still warm, damp things can still air dry quite quickly.

Cancel cable, purchase a few DVDs a month (which cost less than cable and leave you with an asset) and watch current shows online.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gardening on a Budget

We planted our first real garden yesterday! I am so excited! It was super easy, and really fairly inexpensive. After much research, we chose to plant a raised bed garden. We found some instructions online at, and headed off to Home Depot. Our total cost for building the garden was $110.00. This included the cost of the lumber, the wood screws, the weed block liner, and 30 bags of organic humus and topsoil. The total time that it took to build this garden was about an hour! Here is a picture of what our new garden looks like!

We planted red onions, white onions, and strawberries. I have ordered some seeds on Ebay to complete our garden. We are going to plant green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers as well. I have to say...I LOVE EBAY!!!! When you go to the store and buy a package of seeds, they range anywhere from 0.77 to 4.99 per package! That can really add up! Well...I got on Ebay, and we have a total of about 20,000 seeds (yes...20,000...that's not a typo!) being shipped to us, and we paid a total of 14.97! Not all of these are for the garden...we purchased a bunch of seeds for flowers too. This is the most inexpensive way to landscape your yard! And, if the plants don't live, you haven't spent hundreds of dollars on them!

I will keep you updated on our little garden. I am so excited for this summer, because we love to eat fresh vegetables, so this is going to save us a ton of money! Plus, it's a great family activity, and it will be really good for our two year old to be able to help out!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Decorating on a Budget

I don't know about you, but I get tired of my house looking the same all of the time, and I am always wanting to change something. The problem costs money to redecorate, and if you're not careful...lots of it! Being a person who has completely changed how our home has been decorated at least four times in the three and a half years that we have been married, I have become an expert at redecorating on a budget! I have listed some of my ideas below!

1. When it comes to big purchases, like furniture, buy neutral colors. You may really like that red sofa right now, but more than likely, in a year or two, you are going to be sick of it, and want a different look for your house. We bought a light beige solid color couch and chair when it was time for us to make this purchase. We also went for microfiber because it is easy to clean, and we knew that we would be having children. Choose a great pattern for a chair or an ottoman!

2. Completely change the look of your furniture with pillows! I cannot even begin to tell you how many pillows we have had in our short marriage! Just by changing the color or pattern of pillows in your home will give your home a completely different look. You can find really great pillows for cheap at a lot of stores (you can also find really expensive ones, but just steer clear of those)! Ikea, Hobby Lobby, and Pier One all have pillows for a really reasonable cost. If you are like me, you may find pillows that you love at Pottery Barn, and sometimes this is the only place that carries that particular pillow. Let me just give you one piece of advise on have to purchase the pillow and the pillow cover separately...often times making the total cost of the pillow over $60.00! If you have to have that pillow, buy the pillow cover at Pottery Barn, and buy the actual pillow insert at WalMart, Hobby Lobby, or any other discount store. It will save you tons!

3. Paint! This is possibly the cheapest and most effective way to change how your home looks! Paint everything! Don't hold back! Change your walls from white to a great shade of blue, green, yellow, or red...whatever you like. This is where you get a lot of bang for your buck!

4. Change your items that you display. Often times, this can be done for free. Just remove the items that you had on your coffee table, shelves, or counter, and replace them with other objects that you love in your home. Group similar items together in odd number groupings, and it will give a finished look to your home. This is a great way to show off a collection.

5. Change the pictures on your wall...or add pictures or mirrors. If you already have pictures on your wall, you can take the original picture/painting out of the frame, and use the frame for new artwork. On a pretty day, go outside and take some pictures! You will be surprised at the beautiful objects you can find to photograph. You can then take them to a discount store and have them blown up to be larger for a very small price. Use the old frames that you have to frame your new creation. You then have original artwork for a fraction of the price it would cost you to go out and buy a new piece of art. You can also purchase artist's canvas' for a small price and then find a beautiful fabric that you love. Wrap the canvas in the fabric very tightly and staple to the back of the canvas. Makes beautiful wall hangings! You can leave it as is, or frame it. If you add mirrors to your home, this will make any room look larger. Think about where to hang the mirror, and which direction you hang it. Sometimes a mirror that was meant to hang vertically, actually looks really great hung horizontally. Just be creative with can't mess up!
6. Rearrange your furniture. This is a free way to completely change the look of a room. Figure out what looks best will be amazed with the difference!

7. Paint furniture. If you have an old table that you are not thrilled with...paint it a different color! You will have a piece of furniture that looks completely different, and is customized for your home...without the custom price! You can paint any furniture...a desk, an end table, an armoire, a chair, etc. Just play around with it, and you will be surprised at what you will end up with.

There are many other ways to decorate you home on a budget, but these were just a few to get you started. Come up with different ideas, and leave a comment so that we can all gain some new ones. Happy thrifty decorating!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Save $237.00 A Month-It's Easy!!!

I keep trying to find ways to save money each month, and sometimes it's difficult to come up with new ideas. I keep thinking that I have cut back as much as I possibly can! Well, I have figured out a list of some new ways to save just about $240.00 per month...and it is so easy! If you don't spend money on some of these items, just adhere to the ones that you do, and it will still save you tons!

Save $0.50 a day in loose change- $15/mo.

Cut your soda consumption by 1 liter a week - $6/mo.

At work, substitute 1 coffee for 1 cappuccino - $40/mo.

Bring lunch to work (saving estimated $3/day) - $60/mo.

Eat out 2 fewer times a month- $30/mo. (This could be an even bigger savings depending on the size of your family!)

Borrow, rather than buying, one book a month - $15/mo.

Comparison shop for gas (save est. $.25/gallon) - $4/mo.

Maintain checking account minimum to avoid fees - $7/mo. (Or switch to a checking acct.with no minimum balance....there are tons of banks that offer these.)

Bounce one less check a month - $20/mo. (Or better yet...none!!!)

Pay credit card bill on time to avoid late fee - $25/mo.

Pay off $1000 of credit card debt, reducing interest - $15/mo.

Total these up, and it comes up to $237.00 per month in savings...or even more depending on how much you usually spend! I hope that this will help you save some extra money every month! Keep thinking of new ways that you can cut back on your spending each month, and share them with us! We can all use some good ideas!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm Back....

So sorry it has been so long since I've posted. We have been having some family issues going on, and that has obviously taken priority over everything else! Anyway, I hope to begin posting regularly again!

Today's post is going to be about ways to save money on clothing!

First of all, let me start by saying that until last Saturday, I had never been to a consignment store. I am now hooked! We went to a consignment shop called "The Daisy Exchange," and it was amazing! They are picky about the items that they take, and so much of their stuff looked just like new! My husband and I bought a total of four pairs of jeans, about ten shirts, and a pair of shoes for $106.00! I was so excited because the items looked like new, and were all name brands like Banana Republic, Gap, and Express. Plus, we found out that they will buy our used clothes and give us 30% cash or 40% store credit for what they think they can sell the item for up front! This is definitely something you should check into!

Anyway...on with ways to save on clothing!

1. Trade hand-me-downs with other families/friends. Meet regularly to make this exchange of items that you are tired of, or that you have outgrown. This is a great way to save! Just because you are tired of a shirt does not mean that someone else would not love to have it!

2. Go to end-of-the-season sales. This is a great way to stock up on items for the following season. If you are buying for a child, buy larger sizes that the child will be able to wear next year! If it is a basic item that you wear all of the time, purchase several so that you won't have to pay full price when the item wears out.

3. Choose classic styles when making purchases. Trendy clothing tends to go out of style very quickly, so your wardrobe is going to look dated very quickly. Buy items that never go out of style...jeans, black pants, solid color shirts, classic dresses, etc. It's okay to buy a few trendy items, but just make sure that they are not very expensive...use the majority of your shopping budget for the classic items.

4. Pay attention to the labels. Avoid dry clean only items at all costs! This is going to cost you so much money over time if you stick with it, and if you don't stick with it, and wash the items yourself, the item will last no time at all. Look for items that are machine washable. If you cannot stick to this, at least make sure that they are hand washable.

5. Take care of your clothes. If you spill something on your clothes, spot clean the spill immediately before stains set. Also, repair rips and tears right away so that they do not get larger.

6. Shop at second hand stores or discount stores. Check out your local consignment stores. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at what you can find. Also, check out your local discount stores like "Ross." You can get name brand items for a fraction of the price you would pay at department stores. Just make sure to look closely at the item because a lot of the time, these items are irregular. Sometimes this means that the items is just missing a button, but sometimes, there is a stain or a hole in the item. Just do some checking before you buy!