Thursday, April 30, 2009

Restoring Order: Coupon Box

This week I decided to tackle a small organizing project: my coupons! I have been using a small expandable file for a while, but have gradually been using more and more coupons. The file has been too small for some time now.

In addition, the categories were too broad, especially the "toiletries" and "paper/household" categories. These pockets were so full and took a really long time to look through to find coupons for toothpaste or Lysol wipes.

I got a larger box and used index cards for the dividers. I'm not sure what I think of the new system - it will definitely take some getting used to! Also, I ended up with a lot of categories - almost 30!

I will try this box for awhile and see how it goes. It was a lot easier finding coupons today when getting ready for a CVS trip, though!

Check out Restoring Order at That's What It's All About for more!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wal-Mart Deals: Burt's Bees and BHG

Our Wal-Mart is in the process of remodeling and as a result has a lot of clearance right now. On Saturday, we stopped there for a quick trip and I found some great Burt's Bees sets for only $3! I got a Classic Lip Stash and a Classic Tin Quartet. I plan to break these up and use them as gifts for Mother's Day, graduation, and an upcoming birthday.

Today my mom and I stopped at WalMart and I found some nice BHG placemats clearanced for $0.50 each. I got 4 to add to an upcoming wedding shower gift.

I don't know if these deals are only because of the remodel or if you can find them at your store, too. I am pleased to be working on our gift closet stash as there are many events coming up!

I'd love to hear your favorite "go-to" gifts for moms, dads, weddings, and graduations. I love reading about creative gift ideas!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Decoupaged Magazine Holders and Baby Food Jar Pincushions

Sorry for the long post title! I have been doing a little crafting lately and have been trying to repurpose existing items (inspired by Simple Mom's 40 Tips to Go Green at Home #30).

A week or two ago, I saw a tutorial about how to make baby food jar pincushions. I decided to make a few; one for me and some for Mother's Day presents. These were very simple, a lot of fun, and required few supplies.

Last week, I loved the Frugal Friday Mr. Linky party at the Shabby Nest. There were so many fabulous, inexpensive decorating ideas! I really liked the inexpensive craft room storage at Pajama Mama - the cereal box magazine holders, especially. Then, Rhoda decoupaged some cardboard magazine holders in her post. I decided to combine the two and create magazine holders out of cereal boxes and then decoupage them.

Here is the finished product. Perfect? No. I am learning as I go! But, I definitely think they turned out cute! My mom will probably be getting a couple of these for Mother's Day...she loves to save magazines and other items.

What have you been making lately?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mother's Day Tea Wallet Sale at CJ's Craft Corner

From now through May 1, enjoy 1/2 price shipping of only $1 on tea wallets at CJ's Craft Corner! If you buy 2 tea wallets, shipping on the second wallet is free! That is 2 tea wallets for $12! Stop over and check out our shop for Mother's Day gifts!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Restoring Order: Frugal Utensil Drawer Organization

I feel like I should have accomplished more this week for the Restoring Order challenge. I did tackle my kitchen utensil drawer. I used the idea here at Design Sponge to make my drawer organizers using cardboard from boxes.

Here is the before:
And the after:
The drawer is still very full...but I do use a lot of gadgets in the kitchen! It seems much neater and I really like the polka dot wrapping paper!

Visit the homespun heart for more posts on Restoring Order!

Visit Life as Mom for more Frugal Friday tips!



Check out I Am Blissfully Domestic for more ideas!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recipe Roundup

I finally got back into the habit of doing some cooking ahead and freezing some different items. This has made such a difference at lunch and dinnertime over the past couple of weeks. Here are a few of the recipes I've made - there have been some great ones posted lately!

Applesauce Muffins - These freeze really well. I omit several of the ingredients (raisins, walnuts) and they still turn out great!

Calzone/Pizza Dough from Life as Mom - This was the first time I've made calzones! This is a great recipe and I have enough dough for two more meals ready in the freezer.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from MomAdvice - What a simple, yummy recipe! I added some M&M's, too.

French Toast Cassrole from Mommy Snacks
- This is in the oven right now! I topped it with some blackberries and am really excited to try it.

What have you been cooking and baking this week?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shopping and Saving: Meijer, Kohl's, and Target

Today was a great day for some deals! Since we are getting close to the end of the month, we are trying to stretch the remainder of our grocery budget. We made a list of necessities for us and are hoping to get through the end of the month. I spent $37.88 on groceries today and saved $26.66 for a savings of 59%.

While at Meijer, I picked up a darling dress that I am hoping will fit our daughter next Easter. Total cost: $2! I received a $10 off any purchase at Kohl's coupon that I also used today. The spring coat pictured was marked down to $12.80 from $32.00. I used the $10 off to get it for $2.98 including tax!

While I was at work this afternoon, my husband took our daughter to Target to get this great deal on Glade candles. He spent $4.33 for 2 candles (great as gifts - I have an orange one and it smells yummy!) and 2 boxes of cereal (which we needed). Check out this $5 gift card deal at Target!

What have been your best deals this week?

For more deals, check out Super Savings Saturday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Small House Living

We live in a small house - 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, about 1,000 square feet. My husband bought the house 6 1/2 years ago, before we were married, and did a great job of renovating it...gutted the bathroom, re-carpeted, etc. There are so many things I really like and appreciate about our home - the flowers we've planted over the last few years, the small size is simpler to clean, the reasonable house payment.

Over the years, we've talked about whether to stay in the house or move. With the current market, we feel that now probably isn't the best time to sell. We got several estimates on a family room and bathroom addition, but the estimates were much higher than we expected. If we added on, we would definitely over-improve the house for the neighborhood. We would never get our money back.

Our newest idea is to remodel the kitchen and make it into a kitchen, 1/2 or 3/4 bath, and laundry room. The lack of a second bathroom is high on my list of concerns right now. We have no idea how much this kind of remodel would cost.

When thinking about moving, I really dislike the idea of getting another 30 year mortgage. We have been paying extra on this home since we got married and have made some great progress that I hate to see erased.

I guess if I'm honest, I would love to make this home work for us. We may have another child down the road, so the bedroom situation is on my mind, as well as my daughter's current bedroom situation. We have large bookcases in her room that will need to be moved (somewhere!) once she gets in to her big girl bed. In addition, she really doesn't have a "playroom" to speak of - all of her toys are in our living room.

If you have experience with this type of decision or living in a small house with children, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Christy's Craft Challenge: April

A few weeks ago, I saw something about Christy's Craft Challenge. I looked at the instructions, checked out some of the March projects, and decided to give it a try for April. Now, I definitely do not think I am a true "crafter". I enjoy crafts, but most don't come easily to me. (Just a disclaimer, my mom is the crafter behind CJ's Craft Corner...in case you were worried. :)

When my April Craft Challenge Supplies arrived, I was stumped...I had no clue what to make. I talked it over with my mom and came up with an idea to use the supplies to make a photo holder. I decided to make it in a flowerpot and have the pictures be the "flowers".

After spending some time crafting today, here is my finished product!

In addition to the included supplies, I used the following:
  • Wire
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Green flowerpot (from the Target $1 Spot)
  • White ribbon
  • Floral oasis
  • Green and yellow ribbon
  • Letter stickers to spell "bloom"
Close-up of "flowers":

Back (to show I used all the supplies...including clothespins and felt!):
I am looking forward to seeing all of the wonderful, beautiful, creative ideas everyone comes up with! I did have fun participating in Christy's Craft Challenge this month!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frugal Friday Field Trip: Garden Center

My mom wanted to stop by a local garden center today to pick up some pansies. We accompanied her and my little one loved it! She stopped to (gently) touch many of the plants and flowers and I tried to name the colors, kinds of flowers, etc. She even loved the huge fans at the ends of each aisle. For some free fun, take your little ones to look at the plants and flowers at your local garden center!

For more Frugal Friday tips and ideas, check out Life as Mom!

Restoring Order

When I saw the new series on Restoring Order at Monica and Rebecca's blogs, I knew I wanted to participate. Honestly, once I started thinking about it, there were so many things I wanted to work on, I had trouble picking where to start.

So on Monday, I just decided to work on something - anything - and I started in our living room. Monday I went through my work bags and cleaned them out, went through my daughter's library bag and got several items together to return, did a bit of furniture moving to start working on creating a library corner for my daughter, and went through my daughter's books that we keep out in the living room.

On Tuesday evening, I unexpectedly did not have to work, so decided to clean out our front closet. In the process, I got rid of 2 pairs of shoes, 2 coats, and moved 1 coat that didn't fit my daughter anymore into storage. I even vacuumed out the closet! (And boy did it need it - there was cat hair in the back that looked like another cat!) I didn't take a before picture, but here is the after!



Last night, we went through one of the bathroom cabinets and sorted through our stockpile of toiletries, got rid of some expired items, etc.

I didn't get done as much as I wanted to...my lists tend to be a bit over ambitious. I am excited to have another bag of donations started and am looking forward to tackling some more projects next week. I will try to take more pictures! Visit Rebecca's blog to share your projects and read what others did this week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quiet Time Tubs

A little while ago, I mentioned wanting to work on quiet time tubs for my daughter. I put together 5 tubs for her with a variety of activities and books for her to play with.

I am not using these terribly systematically yet. I do not rotate them or use them daily right now. I do bring out a tub of toys in the morning or after a nap when she needs something to play with independently.

Not all of the toys are truly "quiet" - for example her Fridge Farm and her Baby Einstein Music toy. The tubs also work nicely for rotating toys and books. I have also taken a tub of items with us to church twice so far.

Most of my tubs have themes: Colors, Letters, Numbers, Farm, etc. but there are items in each that don't really fit the theme. Here are some of the items I've included in them.
  • Foam Letters
  • Large Pom Poms
  • Flashcards - Colors, Letters, Shapes, Words (She likes to look at these.)
  • Books
  • Stacking Rings
  • Farmer in the Dell Cards
  • Soft Cat Puppet Book
I am looking forward to adding to these and refining them as she gets older and there are more things I can include. The Dollar Spot at Target and the Dollar Tree are sure to yield some good finds. (I got the flashcards at the Dollar Tree.)

Do you have any other ideas of items I can include in these tubs? Do you do anything similar with your toddlers or young children?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday...on Tuesday

We have been having a hard time getting our little girl to eat well. I know this is normal for toddlers (She is 17 months, so I guess a toddler.), but I still stress out about what she eats. We also still (!) use fruit and veggie purees to supplement her meals because we are worried about how much she eats.

We are trying to make some changes and gradually phase out the purees. I'd love to do so by her 18 month appointment. So, when I was making her lunch today, I thought that maybe she would like her food on a plate instead of her high chair tray. Then I remembered Muffin Tin Monday! I decided to try offering some different foods in a muffin tin.

Here is her lunchtime tin!
Contents: applesauce muffin, hardboiled egg, cheese cubes, Triscuits, Spaghetti-O's, and strawberries

The verdict: She was very excited to see her muffin tin. It took about half of the meal for it to get dumped over...not too bad! She ate up the cheese and the applesauce muffin and tried the Spaghetti-O's, Triscuit, and eggs. The only thing she didn't try was the strawberries.

I had a lot of fun with this and hope to participate again. For more ideas, check out Muffin Tin Monday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Craft Day

I have been in awe over the darling Easter crafts and activities I have been seeing at different blogs! In general, I feel like I am not terribly crafty or creative, but I do enjoy making things. I was feeling sad because I hadn't made anything for Easter this year (except the names of Jesus Easter garland), so I was excited when my mom suggested we have a craft morning today! One of the best parts was that the crafts we chose required very few supplies, making them very frugal!

With a 17-month-old, we had to take turns crafting and playing with the little one, but here is what we made today!


My little girl and I watercolor painted this egg. We didn't put a cross in it, but I love the idea here at Totally Tots. This is the first time we painted together, and I think she enjoyed it!





While we painted, my mom worked on this sock bunny. I cut the idea out of a past issue of Good Housekeeping, but I found a similar tutorial here.


I sewed this little bunny using the pattern and directions at Twig and Thistle. It's not perfect, but I really like it!






I also love this idea for making Resurrection Rolls. What a clever teaching tool for little ones (and grown-ups) plus they look really yummy!

We are also hoping to decorate eggs with our little girl for the first time this year.

For more frugal tips (including some great Easter ones), check out Frugal Friday at Life as Mom!



To see more great ideas for your home, visit I Am Blissfully Domestic!

What are you crafting or cooking this Easter?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Swagbucks and The Grocery Game

A few weeks ago, I mentioned trying out Swagbucks to see how long it took me to earn a $5 Amazon GC. Well, I reached the magic number (45) today! I will keep using Swagbucks, but I have to say that the search engine isn't my favorite. I know it is powered by Google, but in my opinion, it doesn't seem to work the same way. I'm excited that it didn't take too long to earn a GC though!

This week, I read the book Shop Smart, Save More by Teri Gault, founder of The Grocery Game. I enjoyed the book and learned quite a bit from it, especially about stockpiling. I am trying The Grocery Game for a 4 week trial, and last night we did our first grocery trip using the list. I was pleased to save 41%! I am hoping The Grocery Game will save us time and money in the long run.

For more tips on saving, visit Super Savings Saturday!

Do any of you use The Grocery Game? How do you like it?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blog Hiatus

Just wanted to write a quick update that my blogging will be more intermittent for awhile. I hope to still post occasionally, but definitely not as frequently. I feel like there are lots of things I need to do some catching up on right now, so blogging is going to take a bit of a back seat for the time being!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Praise Baby Blog Post

My Praise Baby post is up today on the Praise Baby blog! I am so excited to be a part of this project! Stop over and read it and the other great posts!

Easter Goodies at CVS: Week of 3/29


This week's CVS trip was short and simple again! I got 2 Paas Egg Decorating Kits, 1 Glade Sense and Spray, a CVS reusable bag, and a bag of M&M's. I had an email coupon to get the CVS bag free, and then I used a $4 coupon on the Glade. My total oop was $0.89 after coupons and ECB, plus I earned $5 in ECB to use on a future purchase!

How did you do at CVS this week?
 

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