Thanks

Thank you to everyone for the kind belly comments.  Needless to say, I had quite the difficult time maneuvering around a VERY crowded house yesterday for Thanksgiving.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and found numerous reasons to be thankful and celebrate.  Wouldn’t the world be such a better place if we were able to maintain that level of gratitude year-round?  I think I will make that my early New Year’s resolution.

Anyway, not much time to write today, busy updating the shop and running around with Dr’s appointments, etc.  Oh, and there’s this little shin-dig happening tonight….

Have a great weekend!

Thanksgiving 08

Advertisements

WHOA!

Drum roll, please

And the winner is……

 

Debbie! She left a tip about line drying her clothes, and a strategy to acquire some bailout money, which, with four kids, she probably can legitimately declare herself a bank….

Hey, a special shout out to Micie66, Katrina, and Amelia who all linked the blog and shop as well.  You guys rock!

And of course, thanks to everyone else for playing along, leaving your valuable tips, and for reading!!  So much fun.  I’m already thinking of the next giveaway 🙂

 

One more thing on a random note– I’m not the best about deciphering my blog stats, but I have noticed I’ve been getting steady traffic from people clicking the wordpress tag “big belly”– is this weird, or just me??  And…. should I be offended?  LOL– Gotta love that Maxfield!

 

😉

How to Make an Inexpensive Curtain Rod

Since we’re sort of in the process of finishing off the boys’ room, I thought I’d share a fun & easy project that goes along with this week’s theme of money saving ideas:  custom curtain rods.  I first tried this when we lived in Florida, and vowed to never buy one of those expensive, heavy wood curtain rods (you know, the ones with the fancy finials & all?) again.  It’s so easy to make something yourself.  Please keep in mind, that this really only works for single windows.  If you have a double or triple, I’m sure you could use something else (like PVC)  for the rod itself, but mine were for singles so I used dowel rods.  Here’s what you’ll need for each window/rod:

One 3/4″ or 7/8″ wooden dowel rod- approx.  $2.50  (can be purchased at local craft or home improvement store

Two 2″ or 2½” wooden doll heads- approx. $1.99 (can also be purchased at craft store- I used my 40% off A.C. Moore coupon)

One 3/16″ dowel

Paint or stain and optional sealer

Wood glue

Hooks to hang curtains on-  Some inexpensive options to consider are the Giant Cup Hooks ($1.99 for a 4 pack from Walmart), or closet hooks ( $2.79/for two from Lowes).  Just make sure they hang far enough from the wall to accommodate the finial (doll head).

Drill and 3/16″ drill bit

These are your unfinished wood supplies

This will work for the larger dowel size

Closet hooks- will work for hanging the larger dowel size

 

These only work with the 3/4 size dowel
These only work for hanging the 3/4″ size dowel

 First, cut your dowel down to desired size, if needed.  I personally like my curtains to hang beyond the actual window itself, so I left it at the 48″ length.  Paint or stain desired color. 

Paint or stain the wooden dowel heads also.  This is the part that will mostly be exposed, so you can get really creative here, either using a different color than the dowel, or painting cute little designs, like swirls, stripes, flowers, etc.  on it.  I painted mine orange with yellow polka dots to match the furniture in the room:

 

 

Once it’s all dry, you can seal it with polyurethane, tung oil, or whatever clear coat you choose- or none at all.  I used a clear acrylic gloss medium because it drys in minutes.  You can get it in the art & paint section of your local craft store.  Allow to dry.

Next, drill your hole into either end of the dowel rod, trying to keep it as centered and straight as possible.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be close.  You want it to go in about an inch or so. 

Do the same thing on the bottoms of your doll heads (flat side) if they’re not pre-drilled already.  Mine were, but the hole wasn’t big enough, so I enlarged it with the 3/16″ bit.

Once this is done,  cut your 3/16″ dowel down to size (about 1½-2″).  I used garden pruners to cut mine.  To make it feed into the hole a little easier, you can insert the end into a pencil sharpener for a second or two.  Also, if you find your hole is slightly larger than the dowel, just wrap it with a layer or two of masking tape.  Fill the hole in the dowel with wood glue & insert the small dowel in both ends.  Or you can insert the dowel into the finial first, like I did:

Insert one doll head into dowel on one end of curtain rod.  You can fill the hole on the ball with glue, too, but mine had a tight enough fit & didn’t need it.  Plus, you’ll need to leave at least one end un-glued so that you can remove it to get your curtains on and off:

 All that’s left now is to put your curtains on, insert the doll head on the other end, and hang your curtain with your choice of hooks:

  

Before

Before

After

After

Detail

 

 

Please excuse the poor quality photographs, and the icky plastic over the window, that we inadvertently already punched a hole through!  I have also done this project with pre-made finials that were bought on super-duper clearance for, like, $5.00 and just stained the dowel to match.

Don’t forget to leave your tips on the Giveaway post to be entered in the drawing by 8 PM EST!

Giveaway Reminder and Some Swag

Hey everybody, thanks for all the great money saving tips!  Some really interesting ideas happening.  Don’t forget, it’s not too late to enter, you have until 8 PM EST on Friday, Nov. 21.  Just leave a comment on this post with your money saving strategies (either holiday related, or everyday) to be entered to win.  And remember, if you link my blog and/or my Etsy shop on your blog or website, you get another 5 entries each! Thanks to everyone who’s done that already!

I thought I’d finally let you know what the prize is:  A set of 4 handmade felt holiday ornaments perhaps something like these, from my woodland series:

 

I will have a few different series to choose from, but right now, I just have woodland photos. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also thought of a couple more small money saving, or at least economical tips: 

1.  If you have a Walmart Super Center near you, they have a discount bread section for items on which the “sell by” date is about to expire.  They mark down a lot of their specialty & artisan breads by at least 50%, as well as pastry & other fresh bakery items.  I know grocery stores do this with their meats, too.  Since we usually either freeze or immediately eat most of our breads & meats anyway, we can get a higher quality food item for the same price as the discount brand.

2.  Speaking of bread, no one in my household likes the “butts” of the loaves, so I save them to make croutons.  Just cube them, toss them with some melted butter & seasonings, and bake them in the oven or toaster oven until they’re crispy.

I do have one more money-saving project if you’re looking to do custom, cute curtain rods on the cheap, but I would like to post photos, and I’m not quite done yet.  Hopefully Friday.  In the meantime, keep your great tips coming!!

The Great Bed Debacle

This weekend marked a milestone in our household.  It was the first time we transitioned Wyatt into his new big-boy bed.  Well, technically Max is the one with the new bed, we bought him a loft bed to fit over top of his old one so that Wyatt can take over the one below.  For simlicity’s sake, we will refer to the beds as “bunk beds” because that was the easier explanation for the boys.  The transition went about as smooth as 20 grit sandpaper. 

For several months now, Wyatt has been waking up in the middle of the night, crying to get out of his crib, say, anytime between 1 and 3 a.m.  After much coaxing and screaming, Bill or I could usually get him to settle back down again for at least a little while, sometimes with Bill having to sleep on his floor.  By “a little while” I mean until about 4 or 5 a.m., when he would expect to get up for the day, and demand to go downstairs and have his milk.   I hate to admit it, but we learned that he would sleep an extra hour or so if we brought him in our bed with us.  I know, you’re not supposed to do that, but there is a reason why sleep deprivation is considered torture.  It didn’t help that he’s just too fun to cuddle with.

Anyway, it was becoming obvious that with the new baby coming, this scenario was not going to fly for much longer. It was decided that Wyatt should be put in a big bed now, so that we could lay with & comfort him in his own room instead of ours.  The plan was always to move Wyatt into Max’s room- we sweetened the deal for Max with promises of him getting the top half of a new bunk bed, which seemed to work, he was very excited, and didn’t seem to mind having share his space. 

For anyone out there considering getting bunk beds for a 4 and 2 year old, allow me to forewarn you of some possible complications that you (like me) may not have considered:

1.  Try bringing home said bed and telling an irrational two year old he’s not allowed on the top bunk, only his brother.  You might want to have earplugs on hand.

2.  If you have any kind of routine that involves the children playing quietly in their rooms while you get ready in the morning, you can pretty much kiss that goodbye, as they will be fighting over who gets to climb the ladder and risk life and limb in the process.

3.  If your older child who sleeps in the top loft has a tendency to fall asleep downstairs, he’s probably going to have to stay there all night, since climbing a ladder with a 40+ pound preschooler is not happening.  Getting Max to wake up & walk upstairs on his own is not an option, he sleeps like the dead.

4.  If you like to check in on the sleeping children before you turn in for the night, be prepared that one is now too high up to actually see if he’s warm, covered, breathing, etc. Granted, since Max’s bed is technically a “loft” bed, it’s probably a little higher up than most bunk beds, but still something to consider.

5.  Once one wakes up and starts calling/screaming for you, they will inevitable wake up the other.  Sleep deprivation: 1, Us: 0. 

Yeah, good times.

 

🙂

An Economic Challenge and Another Giveaway

It seems these days all everyone in this country and really, all over the world, is talking about is the economy.  October saw the US unemployment rate sore to 6.5 percent.  Every day, more and more jobs are being outsourced to other countries in an effort to save money.  Maybe I need a little education here, but, how can a country support itself if its citizens cannot support themselves?   The holidays are right around the corner.  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  Are you feeling it?  Abundance is everywhere, if you’re willing to look for it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a little smarter about our finances.   I am interested in hearing about everyone’s money-saving tips, or if it’s even an issue for you.  They can involve how you’re adjusting your holiday shopping, ways to recycle/reuse items you already have, or just general everyday strategies.  I’m sure there are some great, “outside the box” ideas out there, and since we’re all friends 😉 , let’s share!

In the spirit of my Potluck post, I’ll pose the same challenge.  Leave a comment with your strategies for keeping more of the cold hard stuff in your pocket (that’s what she said), and you’ll be entered to win a prize.  Once I have confirmed my last recipient has gotten her prize, I will post what you are playing for this time (yes, I was late in sending it out, but I assure you, that won’t happen again!).

Also,  I would like to modify the rules a little to be fair.  Each comment you leave will be worth one entry.  You may leave more than one comment, but you will only be entered again if you leave another tip.  Also, if you have a blog and link to/mention this blog and post, that will get you another 5 entries.  If you link my Etsy Shop, yet still another 5 entries.  The prize will again be something handmade, like I said, I will get more specific once I have confirmed my last recipient has received hers. Contest will close at 8pm EST on Friday, November 21, 2008.

So, without further ado, I will get started.   First, let me say that when I talk about & share the things I make, I’m not trying to make anyone feel inadequate, nor I am looking for accolades (don’t get me wrong, I  *love* hearing your feedback, it’s just not why I do it).  I simply love what I do, and I like to share. I feel blessed for that.  I feel dually blessed that, although I wouldn’t say I am at the point of making a living at it, there are wonderful people out there that are willing to appreciate and support my passion.  For this reason, I do appreciate the fact that I am able to make a lot of holiday and other gifts and (arguably) save money at the same time.  I’m not sure if you can call this a tip, but it’s one thing I do…

Ok,here we go.  I despise credit cards.  That’s not to say there isn’t a hefty balance on mine right now, but I will do everything I can NOT to use it.  I also know enough about myself that if there’s cash in my pocket, that spells trouble, so very rarely do I carry cash.  I try to pay for everything with my debit/bank card.  This keeps my spending in check, because basically, if the money is not in my checking account, I won’t spend it.  We use direct deposit, and take advantage of the fact that they will split the deposit into separate accounts.  This might sound backwards, but since I use the debit card for everything, it allows me to make sure I’m not spending the money that should be going toward monthly bills.  Once or twice a month, when I’m paying bills, I transfer the money that I need from the savings to the checking, and it’s all taken care of.  Ah, the beauty of online banking!  I also pay everything I can online to save paper/stamps/time.

Speaking of credit cards, there are some great point- earning programs out there.  I know a friend of a friend who bought a car on her credit card, (which she paid off the following month) because she knew it would earn her enough points to take her European vacation!  So smart!  That’s like, free money.  I love free money.  Like I said, I’m not a fan of credit cards, but I there are two other programs that I use:  Upromise and MyPoints.    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Upromise and how it works.  If you haven’t, basically it allows you to register your credit cards, bank cards, grocery cards, etc. and certain restaurants, stores, and manufacturers in turn give you a small percentage of what you spend on their products/services, which can then be converted into a 529 plan for anyone’s college tuition.  I have to admit, I pretty much let this run on auto pilot & don’t actively seek out as much savings as I could. There are a lot of online shopping resources that I could/should be using that would contribute a lot more than my grocery purchases, but hey, it’s still free money. 

MyPoints works in a similar way, but you don’t have to wait quite as long for the rewards.  You basically sign up for their emails, and get sent various opportunities to earn points by visiting websites and taking surveys, if you want.  It’s totally free, but it does take longer to earn enough points for rewards this way.  If you want to earn points faster, you can shop through their website at various online merchants to earn a greater percentage of points.  You’re also entitled to special member discounts, etc.  I figure, if it’s something I need to buy anyway, why not earn the points?  I’ve done a lot of Christmas shopping this way in the past, as well as for myself at Amazon.com, drugstore.com, and Overstock.com.  And I’m always looking for who’s willing to throw in free shipping, especially now that the holidays are approaching.  Anyway, so far with the MyPoints program, I have earned enough to purchase myself a $100.00 MP3 player from Circuit City, and various gift cards for restaurants and retailers like Old Navy, Regal Cinemas, and Bath & Body Works…. all for free.  Do I sound like an infomercial?

On the homefront, since we can’t afford new windows, this year we bought the plastic coating that fuses onto the windows with a hair dryer to keep the drafts out– not sure how/if it will affect our energy bill, but it’s worth a try.  I’m also finally, after over a year, getting around to hanging curtains around the house, which will hopefully help as well.  We also are in the process of insulating our attic and outside doors.   

I would share more, but I feel like I’ve already written a novel- so let’s hear from you!  I will try to update later this weekend with more info on the prizes- Good luck, and have a great weekend!