Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Items at CJ's Craft Corner




We have been taking inventory of our crafted items to get ready for an upcoming craft show as well as stocking our Etsy shop. We added a couple of cute patriotic and summery items this morning. Check them out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On My Bookshelf: Go Green, Save Green

I saw the book Go Green, Save Green in a recent CBD catalog and requested it from the library. It came in and I picked it up yesterday. I am just starting to read through the book, but am already enjoying it and finding it very informative. The book is about green living written from a Christian perspective, and the strategies and ideas contained in the book are very practical and frugal.

I am keeping a notebook near me as I read the book and jotting down some things I would like to talk over with my husband to try and implement in our home. The book is divided into 11 chapters that include topics such as green living in the areas of home, work, entertainment, schools, and more.

I will have to post more when I finish the book, especially if we implement some of the ideas. Have you read this book? What is your favorite green living book?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Tea Wallets at CJ's Craft Corner

I just finished stocking my mom's Etsy shop, CJ's Craft Corner, with some new tea wallets. These make darling little gifts and come in a variety of prints. She also makes some lovely placemats and tablerunners. I was so excited she made me a tablerunner for the top of my piano. (I needed a new one because I melted candle wax on my old one!) If you have time, please take a minute and check out her shop!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Notebook Experiment: Homemade Cupcakes


Over the past weekend, we celebrated several family birthdays. I decided to make some cupcakes, but didn't have a mix in the house. I haven't made cupcakes from scratch in awhile, so went searching for a recipe. I found a great one through the MomAdvice blog. The recipe is for Chocolate Cupcakes and Vanilla Buttercream frosting, and originally comes from the Farm Chicks. It appeared in Amy's Notebook on 01.08.09.

This recipe was simple (I had all the ingredients in my pantry.) and easy to whip up. The boiling water added at the end does make for a very runny batter, but the cupcakes turn out great. The frosting was perfect and I tinted mine a pale blue and added some confetti sprinkles. The cupcakes are a hit and we have been enjoying them as treats this week! This recipe will definitely go in my recipe book for the future!

For more ideas, check out Amy's Notebook Experiments!

Recent Crafts

We are still ironing out some camera difficulties, which have made it hard to post lately with pictures. I haven't had a ton of time to work on crafts lately, but I did finish up this little dress. It used some pre-smocked fabric from Joann fabric that I got for $1. It is going to be my little girl's Fourth of July dress.


I also made up this cute little notebook as a sample for a teen craft program I'm holding at the library this week. I used this tutorial from Blue-Eyed Blessings to make the notebook and it was so fun! It was a quick little craft that would be easy to make up as a simple little gift. I will be making more.


I got some more (!) fabric from Joann this past weekend, so now I have a little list of things to work on. I am hoping to make a skirt for me (I am drafting a pattern right now...scary!), some new valances for our kitchen and living room, and some kind of purse or tote bag.

What kinds of crafts are you making?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Save Ohio Libraries

I know that most of you who read this are probably not Ohioans, but libraries in Ohio are facing devastating funding cuts proposed by the governor. This loss of funding will result in drastic cuts in programming, hours, even library closures. If you do live in Ohio, please visit Save Ohio Libraries and contact your state representatives and senators. Also, please forward this information to others you might know who live in Ohio!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Working From Home

I see many, many people at various message boards asking questions about working from home. While I am no expert by any means, I have explored some different work at home options, and wanted to share some of the resources I've used to get more information about work at home companies and job opportunities.

Two forums that I use often are:
Both forums have fairly active boards. They are organized by type of work/or different company names. These are great places to start looking for names of legitimate companies that offer work at home work as well as to ask specific questions about certain companies.

I primarily focus on the Online Tutors/Teachers forums because of my background in education.

Have any of you tried working from home? What have been your experiences? What resources do you use to get more information about different opportunities and companies?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Frugal Fathers' Day Gifts

(So sorry for the picture..Blogger is rotating my photo when it uploads!)

I was so excited to see these neat Wordle art prints at 12 months of Christmas (via One Pretty Thing). I decided to make some for Fathers' Day presents. It was so easy to type in the words, change the fonts and colors, and then print them out.

I ended up mounting each one on scrapbook paper (about $0.50 per piece), edged some in ribbon, and framed them. Each frame was $3.00 each, so my total cost including tax was about $4.00 each. I hope our dads and grandpa will like these!

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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weekend Bargains: Garage Sales and Fabric

It was a fun weekend for bargains! My mom and I went to some garage sales on Friday. We ended up getting my little girl a playhouse for $30! I have gotten her almost all of the outdoor toys on my list at garage sales this year. We also picked up some fall clothes and a basketball hoop for her, too.

On Saturday morning, we made a quick Target trip and I was able to use the $1.50 off Kashi coupons and some of the organic coupons I printed out last week to get some reasonably priced items for snacks and lunches.

Today, we stopped over to Joann Fabric for their Firefly Frenzy sale. All clearance fabric was an additional 50% off. I picked up some mock-smock fabric to make my daughter a couple of sun dresses for only $1 each (for 2/3 of a yard)! One is red, white, and blue and will be her 4th of July dress. I can't wait to make them!

What fun bargains have you found lately?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Financial Goals Update

It's been a few months since I did an update on our financial goals for this year. Since we're almost(!) halfway through the year, I thought I'd do a quick update.

1. Reduce gift spending by approximately 1/3, but not our gift giving.
As for many of us, this is a busy time of the year for gift giving. In June, July, and August we have 6 family birthdays, plus Fathers' Day. In addition, this is the time of year for weddings and graduations.

I keep a really close eye on the deals the bloggers in my reader are posting each day. Anytime there is a good deal, free magazine, or sample I think would make a nice gift, I try to follow up on it right away. One example is the free subscription to Organic Gardening for my mom's birthday.

I've been working on making more gifts, too. I made a sweet 16 gift for a girl in our church and am working on Wordle art like the one found here for graduation and Fathers' Day.

I also watch for clearance deals at stores. I did well at Old Navy recently for Fathers' Day (50% off on men's apparel), and right after Christmas got a cute croquet set for 75% off we'll be giving as part of a wedding present. The other part of the gift is a gift card from Target we got with credit card rewards points. I also use Swagbucks to earn gift cards. You can sign up for Swagbucks here.

I think these efforts are paying off. We are just shy of the halfway mark this year, and have spent just over 1/3 of our allotted gift budget. Soon, I'll start giving more thought to gathering items for Christmas.

2. Continue to prepay mortgage.
We continue to pay a little extra on our principal each month, and are hoping to put a small amount more toward our payment in June.

3. Create a CD ladder for savings.
Still only one CD!

4. Continue to save for daughter's college fund and general savings account.
We had the opportunity to put some extra in our daughter's college fund from our income tax refund and an "extra" paycheck. Every little bit helps!

How are you doing on your 2009 financial goals? Check out Money Saving Mom for more!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Onesie Dress

When I was going through my daughter's clothes a couple of weeks ago, I found a fairly new onesie with a hole in the fabric. I was sad because she had only worn it a few times. While I was checking out blogs online, I found this cute idea for a onesie dress at the Artful Parent! I decided to give this a try with the ripped onesie using some fabric I had picked up at Joann Fabric for $1.99 a yard.

I used the above tutorial in combination with this one found at Michael Grace Designs. Overall, the project was pretty simple, but I had a terrible time with the french seams to attach the dress and onesie used at the Michael Grace tutorial. I ended up ripping out two seams to use a simpler method of attaching the onesie and skirt. I also had to cut off the sleeves of my onesie to make it short-sleeved.

This was a fun project! I like that I could salvage the flawed onesie and make it into something really cute. I am hoping to make one of these dresses for the 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Simple Strawberry Jam

Strawberry picking has just started in this area and last night my husband helped me by making this very simple jam recipe. The recipe was taken from the back of the package of Ball Simple Creations No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin. The recipe takes 4 C of crushed fruit and 1 1/2 C of sugar or Splenda.

It is so simple and tastes good! The recipe makes two full 16 oz. containers and one partial, about 4 oz. container. I like that the recipe takes less sugar and doesn't require cooking. We had quite the disaster last year with a cooked jam recipe!

What are your favorite things to make with strawberries?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment on my one-year blogging anniversary giveaway! The winner is Mary Ellen! Please send me an email with your contact information so I can get your package out to you!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tot School

Tot School "A" is 18 months old.

I really enjoy the blog 1+1+1=1 as well as Carisa's other blogs, Totally Tots, and Raising My Lil' Ladybug. I especially like reading all of the Tot School posts and seeing what everyone else is doing.

Since my daughter turned 1, I have been trying to incorporate some Tot School activities, but have been feeling bad about my efforts. As a teacher, I have been putting some pressure on myself to "formalize" curriculum for my daughter (who is 18 months), but I don't think it needs to be a precise as when I was teaching older students.

I know that little ones are learning so much every day, through all of our interactions and activities with them. I am going to try and record some of the books and activities that we do each week, mostly as a way for me to look back and see how much we really do each week!

Books We're Reading:
Signs We're Learning/Using: (These are some of the new ones she is doing. She has several other signs she has been using for a few months.)
  • Library
  • Kitty
  • Rabbit
  • Daddy (All of a sudden she is using this one!)
  • Please
  • Mail
Activities:
  • Naming animals/sounds on her farm See 'n Say
  • Helping put items, especially fruits in the cart at the grocery store
  • Sweeping the front porch
  • Visiting the animals at a local barn
  • Coloring with crayons
  • Shaking a single-serve milk jug filled with sprinkles (I heard this idea at a summer reading workshop. The best part of the sprinkles is that they are harmless to little ones if they were to eat some! They also make a really nice sound.)
  • Playing computer games at Kneebouncers
  • Writing with chalk on our chalkboard easel ($10 at Pat Catan's! The other side is magnetic, also.)
  • Using alphabet magnets on the dishwasher (Purchased the letters for $2 at a garage sale!)

Sorry for the lack of pictures! I am not in the habit of taking them, plus our camera is not working right now, so hopefully we'll have more pictures in the near future!

Visit 1+1+1=1 for more Tot School ideas!

Sears Fathers' Day Apparel Deal

Sears is running an awesome Fathers' Day promotion. They did something similar last year, but here's the scoop! Purchase $50 in men's pants or jeans from Sears, earn $50 in Sears rewards to be used on men's apparel. View more details and get access to the rebate form here. The offer is good from 6/7/09 through 6/21/09 and must be postmarked by 6/30/09. Offer is limited to one per household and rewards must be used by 10/30/09. If you need clothes for your dad or husband, this is great deal!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Orla Kiely Placemat Purse

There have been so many beautiful crafts made from the fabric in the Orla Kiely line from Target around the blogosphere lately! I was so excited to find one (!) placemat on clearance at our Target. I was inspired by this Orla Kiely tote bag, so I decided to give it a try!

I used the directions here from Small Fry & Co in addition to the ones above. I boxed the corners using this tutorial, but I followed the first set of instructions to use a seam ripper to put in my handles and used cotton webbing for the handles. I also used elastic and a button to close the bag.

The finished product! I love this fabric. I may have to go back to Target and get a tablecloth to make a tablecloth skirt like this one here.

One quick reminder: my little one-year blogging anniversary giveaway closes at midnight tonight. Drop me a comment and you'll be entered!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On My Bookshelf: Craft Challenge

It's been awhile since I've written a bookshelf post. I have been doing more crafting lately and requesting lots of craft books from the library. One fun book I just got is Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase. I haven't had a chance to try any of these projects, but it is definitely full of great ideas!

The book is divided into 4 sections: "Pillowcase Basics", "Wear", "Show", and "Live". Craft ideas fall into one of the categories and include ideas such as a purse, an apron, a tunic, a cape, coasters, and more! I love the idea of repurposing items, and this book is great for inspiration!

Have any of you read this book or tried any of the ideas? Let me know what you think if you have! Which (simple) project should I try first?

One Year of Blogging

I was surprised to discover that today is my one-year blog anniversary! Overall, I've really enjoyed blogging, from "meeting" new people to getting many great ideas. In honor of this occasion, I am having a little giveaway.

I am giving away these two little items. First, there is a floral embellished place mat. I thought it would make a darling purse or makeup brush roll. (Pictures coming on both of these crafts as I have tried them both!) The second item is an 8x8 scrapbook album with 10 page protectors/20 pages. One winner will get them both!

I am currently researching frugal, "green" ways to clean and take care of our home. If you have a great tip or web site/blog on this topic, leave it in your comment. If not, just leave me any comment to be entered. This giveaway will be open until 12:00 midnight on Friday, June 5. I'll draw a winner over the weekend and announce the winner on Monday! Good luck and thanks for reading!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

I had so much fun entering all of the giveaways over the past few days and reading all of your comments and blog suggestions. I am looking forward to checking out your blogs in the next few days.

I used random.org to pick the winner of this giveaway and came up with comment #24 Dolphin Girl! I have emailed you; please send me your information so I can mail you your prize.

Be sure to check back this Wednesday. It's my one-year blogging anniversary, and I'm hoping to host another giveaway. Thanks so much for entering this one!
 

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