Thursday, September 23, 2010

Frugal Home Decor Challenge

It's been a while since I have yet again posted (I have a bad habit of that).  However I think having a challenge like this will hopefully keep me on my toes.

Yesterday I was looking through some potential crafts.  I was coming up with a list of "to do" projects that I would like to tackle.  However, as I brain stormed, the dollar signs were starting to pile up.   Even the smallest projects can add up unbelievably.

Then it hit me.  Why not give myself a challenge?  For the rest of the year - when it comes to home decor updates, my challenge is to spend no more than $10 per month. 

$10 per month?  That's crazy!  But I think that given that simple parameter, it will really help me to think outside of the box (and probably think into the trash) and give me the motivation to create some neat/unique things that I normally wouldn't.

My rules:

I can only spend $10 each month.
I CAN use coupons, specials, incentive points, etc. (ie, greenbax or the like)
I CAN reuse and repurpose any item I already own or an item that is gifted to me (my birthday is in October afterall). 
I CAN use freecycled items, things that other people are tossing, etc.

So wish me luck!! 

My first goal - I am going to make curtains out of something I already have.  Not sure if I want to use fabric that I already have or if I want to use something else.  I will make it happen though.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Offer: Kids N Pets

As a "mommy" to four fur babies (plus one husband and one actual baby), as you can imagine it is a chore to keep the carpets cleaned.  Our littlest dog, despite our best efforts, still has serious marking issues (he'll hike his leg to anything new on the ground if we don't watch him closely).  Plus we just had a bout with our bigger dog getting sick over something she ate.  Needless to say, we went through a lot of carpet cleaner. 

I needed to get some new stuff and went to Walmart.  I came across this "Kids N Pets" carpet cleaner and thought "hmmm, I have kids.  I have pets.  This is perfect!"  And the fact that it says it is endorsed by Animal Planet, gets my vote. 

However the biggest perk is that it had a little tag on it that said if someone "likes" them on Facebook, they will get a full rebate for the purchase of the product. 

I haven't actually tried out this product yet, so I can't give too much input, however, I thought I'd go ahead and pass along the coupon:

http://www.facebook.com/kidsnpetsbrand?ref=search&v=app_7146470109#!/kidsnpetsbrand?ref=search&v=wall

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Custom orders welcome!

Don't forget that I take custom orders!  Knit hats, necklaces, embroidery, and more!  Just email me or click the button at the right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's been a while...

I've fallen down on my blogging job - but that's because my "real" job took up most of my time and brain cells.  ( Not to mention my now completely mobile child who likes to get into everything).

I'll be posting some more things this week.  I need to get cracking on some real projects.  I've been overcome with costumes for Dragon Con 2010....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

BBQ Pizza Recipe

I know this isn't a crock pot recipe, but it is one of my favorites to make.  It is quick and easy and a hit.

Ingredients:
Prepackaged roll out Pillsbury pizza dough
1 container bbq sauce
1 large onion cut
cooked chicken breast, diced
1 package shredded cheese - I like using mozzerella
Optional - jalapeno peppers

1.  Roll out pizza dough and "pre-cook" per package instructions.
2.  For this next step, I'm going to tell you what we do because my husband LOVES pizza drenched in sauce.  You can cut back to your specifications.  But I will squirt a good portion (about 1/3) of the bottle onto the dough and spread around liberally.
3.  Add chopped onions - chop as thinly or coarsely as you'd like.  We like thicker onion chunks, some like smaller bits.
4.  Add the chicken.  Usually I will use whatever chicken we have on hand.  If I'm doing breasts, I may use 2 cooked breasts.  I've used canned chicken before (1 big can) and that works.  I've also used half of a pack of those pre-cooked chicken breast strips from Tyson's before as well - I just cut them up a little more. 
5.  Drizzle another 1/3 of the bottle or more of BBQ sauce over the chicken and onions.
6.  Sprinkle 1/2 package of pre-shredded cheese liberally over pizza.
7.  Opitional - if you want some kick, add a few jalapeno peppers on it at this point.
8.  Bake for about 15 min. 

Voila!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Free Chick Fil A

I do love some Chick Fil A.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Alison, I got a lead on a free spicy chicken sandwich from Chick Fil A.

Go to http://www.getspicychicken.com/ asap and reserve your sandwich.  There are limited sandwiches and you must reserve it in advance.  Many places are already sold out!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bedroom make over


I'm working on a bedroom makeover right now.  More of a mini makeover.  I'm trying to do it frugally. 

I bought the bed pictured at right.  It was on sale at Overstock.com and was a great deal.  This is the exact kind of bed I'd been wanting for years but could never find one like it, and certainly not one for $200. 

My existing comforter and linens will stay.  They are a light brown with a little shimmer in them.

I'm painting the walls a blue color - similar to the ones pictured, but maybe a little brighter.

I'm hoping to get some prints from one of my friends who does a lot of flower/plant photography.  I'd like to get a series of three.

I'm going to post pictures when I get everything finalized.  I'm just in paint mode right now.

Oh - and I'm going to paint our existing furniture as well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Really behind this week!

I'm really behind this week.  I didn't get out a crock pot post and I've been trying my hardest to figure out time to take more pictures of my stuff and add to my etsy site, but its just been a crazy few weeks.  My goal is to try to take some this afternoon. 

I'll be participating in the Rhythm and Blooms event at the Riverbanks Zoo...taking my camera and plan to take a bunch of photos of my stuff there!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Crawfish Festival

Had a great time at the Rosewood Crawfish Festival. 

To anyone who stopped by - thank you!

To anyone who purchased items - I greatly appreciate your business.

I'm working to get some additional items added to Etsy, but for the time being if you have a particular item (be it hat, necklace or any other item) please feel free to email me and I will gladly work with you to make the custom item that you would love!

gamecockjen@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recycling onesies/baby clothes

I've been trying to figure out what to do with old onesies/outfits that Jackson can't wear anymore.  Some of them I didn't want to put up.  Some I didn't want to part with.  And yes, some I've already stored away in case we decide to add to the brood. 

Realistically I didn't want to save all of the clothes for a potential "second" anyway because:

1.  We didn't even really use all of the ones we had not anyway.
2.  Even if we have another, we are kidding ourselves to think that we wouldn't end up buying more clothes anyway.  As frugal as I love to be, clothes can be pretty cheap, plus people like to give them.

Hence my researching different recycling projects.  I now have two projects at hand.  One that I have completed (see below) and one that I am going to collect items for.

The latter is a small blanket/quilt made out of onesies.  Specifically, since Jackson has a good bit of Gamecock apparel, I would love to make a small quilt out of all of his Gamecock stuff as he grows out of it.  I've already put aside several onesies that either fit this bill directly or match it (like black ones where I could use just a plain black square to fill in).  I'm collecting those as he outgrows them and putting them to the side until I have enough to satisfy my needs.

The first project though is my "onesie crinkle blanket" project.  Here is the link to the site where I got the idea:  http://dollarstorecrafts.com/2010/04/recycle-stained-clothes-into-baby-toy/  Her's are nicer than mine.  I did this and didn't think to go get some more ribbon to use.  Not to mention that the jersey fabric onesies that I used were not easy to sew with.  The fabric of course was worn and so it made it harder to work with and get straight lines.

I took these items of clothing (two onesies, one gown, one shirt and a hat/cap):


And turned it into this:

And since you can't actually hear it through the pics, when you play with them they crinkle!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Crock Pot Monday: Reuben Dip

I have not actually made this yet, but this is next on my list.  I do love a good reuben anyway, so having it in dip form is exciting!

Ingredients


1 (16 ounce) jar sauerkraut, drained
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups shredded cooked corned beef
1/4 cup thousand island dressing

Directions

In a slow cooker, combine the sauerkraut, cream cheese, Swiss cheese, corned beef and thousand island dressing. Cover, and cook on high for 45 minutes if you're in a hurry, low for longer if you're not, or just until hot and cheese is melted. Stir occasionally while cooking. Serve with cocktail rye or crackers.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cool new buttons

I'm adding these cool new buttons to the side of the page!



It pays to be frugal...

Just wanted to share a nice little frugal tid bit:

I purchase diapers for Jackson at Babies R Us most of the time.  I am brand loyal to Pampers (it's a preference).  I usually wait until I get coupons for $5 off of the boxes and stock up. 

I have a Rewards card with Babies R Us. 

After you purchase several boxes, you get a nice little voucher in the mail for a FREE value box of pampers. 

That's a $40 deal right there.  I just got mine in the mail yesterday and I am giddy.  And I'm running over there to pick up my box at lunch!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Deal alert: Dairy Queen has BOGO for $.25!

In honor of DQ's 25th birthday, blizzards are BOGO for only $.25 tomorrow (check your local store).  That's a great deal!

Crock Pot Monday: Italian Sandwich Beef

This is from Allrecipes.com, which is an excellent site for recipes:

Ingredients


3 cups water 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon onion salt 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 bay leaf 1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix 1 (5 pound) rump roast

Directions

Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil.

Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat.

Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Piggly Wiggly Greenbax Deal

I probably should have posted earlier, but there is an awesome deal going on with Piggly Wiggly right now.  If you use 10 coupons (up to 10) per visit there, you will get an extra Greenbax per coupon used! 

This goes through the end of April. 

I'm SOOO close to getting a free car seat (convertible).  It's one of the ones I've been looking at anyway, so that's kind of cool.

Crock Pot Monday this week: epic fail

Didn't get in my crock pot post this week.  Boo on me. 

Hopefully I'll get one (maybe two) in next week.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tales of Negotiation

My husband and I recently decided to do a few home improvements to make way for baby!  We needed a new storage shed to keep all of the odds and ends Jackson is ultimately going to outgrow (that we want to hold on to just in case we decide to have another munchkin).  Since we're starting to outgrow things now and we are running out of indoor storage space, this jumped up on our priority list. 

I went and got a quote on a new shed.  It was kind of expensive, but not as bad as I thought.

While we were brainstorming, we thought "hey - we really need a new fence too."  Ours is very  old and has old wood and nails and it screams TETANUS.

I called up the place that quoted us for the shed.  I explained what we wanted and they sent out an estimator.  The guy told us how much the fence would cost.

It was actually MORE than I thought (I had no idea how much a fence would cost). 

Fast forward - I called and told them we were thinking about doing both and wanted to see if, in doing both, they'd give us a price break. 

Several conversations later, basically for a little more than the price of the fence we're also getting the shed.  And they are going to tear out our existing stuff and haul away the old.

That's going to save us about $1000.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Vera Bradley Deal Alert

The Vera Bradley Stephanie bag is on sale today for only $29!  I own this style bag already and use it as my every day purse.  Only when I bought it, it was "on sale" for $45.  It is very roomy and has lots of pockets.  I am tempted to buy a new one at this price.  If you are looking for a new bag, this one is cute and $29 is an excellent price for this.  Now if only Vera Bradley came out with more free shipping coupon codes...

Crock Pot Monday: Grape Jelly Meatballs

Grape jelly meatballs are an excellent snack, appetizer, etc. that you can prepare in your crock pot.  They are easy to do.  Make them healthier by using turkey meatballs - no one will know the difference.

1 package frozen prepared meatballs (usually a package has around 60).
1 bottle Heinz 57 chili sauce
1 jar grape jelly

Heat grape jelly and sauce in crock pot first and stir every few minutes till the jelly is more liquidy.

Once it is liquidy, add frozen meatballs and cook on low for 4 hours. 

I also usually keep an extra bag of meatballs handy because I can usually add more to the sauce afterwards for a second round.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Tales: What NOT to do when you want to save money on photos

This is just a short story about how I thought I was going to get a good deal and ended up dropping more dough than I wanted to:

I had an appointment to go to Sears on Saturday.  I had received a coupon in the mail for a portrait package there for $4.99.  I thought "gee - that's a lot of photos and I'm SURE I can just get one pose...I mean, Jackson doesn't like the camera anyway so I'll probably only get one really good one."

What a joke.

I went in there with Jackson and he proceeded to take the best pictures ever.  Which meant I ended up walking out of there with $150 less than I had before.


Moral of the story:

When it comes to photos of your kids, be prepared to be suckered into spending more than you think...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crock Pot Monday: Coke BBQ

This could be one of the easiest recipes that ever existed.  Two ingredients.  No real prep.  But this recipe yields tender, fall off the roast BBQ.

Ingredients:

1/2 boston butt.  (if you have a big enough crock pot you can do the whole thing, but I like the smaller portion of using half of the full "butt")

1 20 oz coca-cola

1. Put the butt in the crock pot.
2.  Pour the coca-cola over
3.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

That's it!  Once it is done, you pull out the meat and gently pull apart with a fork.  Serve by itself or on a bun, with bbq sauce if you'd like.  Delicious!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PYOL: Pack Your Own Lunch

I'm going to share/give this advice right now, however I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow my own advice. 

This might sound like a no-brainer, but if you work out of home and in an office, packing your own lunch can be an excellent way to save money.  And, as a bonus, packing your own lunch can also save you extra calories too!

For example:  Let's just say that you go with the cheapest value meal on McDonalds menu each day - the double cheeseburger meal for $2.99 (and for this example, I'm going to avoid calculating any taxes or ahem, biggie sizing anything). 

$2.99 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks per year = $777.40

Or you can get a can of Campbell's Select Harvet soup each day for $1.50 per can.

$1.50 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks per year = $390

That's a $387.40 savings per year at least!  Often when we eat out, we splurge and end up spending even more.  I never get the $2.99 meal - I often opt for a salad, bottled water, and then top it off with an iced coffee and spend upwards of $10 for lunch!

But of course I know that people avoid bringing their own lunch because it isn't as fun.  So how do you make it fun?

1.  First and foremost - grab a lunch buddy!  If you can find someone else who is interested in dining in with you, it makes it easier.  Half of eating out tends to be the socialization.  Why not get someone else involved with you to bring lunch in?  You can even take turns bringing the lunch and make it fun!

2.  Bring left overs.  When canned soup and tv dinners don't cut it, bring in leftovers from the night before. 

3.  It's all in the presentation.  Eating leftovers or tv dinners or soup out of the boring packaging can be depressing.  Grab a pretty plate that you like and keep it in the office.  Serve your food on it daily to make your food seem more posh.

4.  Don't eat in your work position.  If you have some place in your office to go to get away for a moment to eat - this would be optimal.  However, even if you can't, try to turn to a different position or angle from your normal work setting.  If you normally sit directly in front of your computer (like I do), turn to the side.  It won't feel as monotonous. 

5.  Have back up plans.  I like to keep a small stock of non-perishable options in my desk drawer (various soups, ramen noodles, etc.) so that if I'm not feeling what I brought in that day, I have some options.  It's also great for the days where I forget to prepare.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My new favorite website

I found my new favorite website/blog: 

http://homemadebyjill.blogspot.com/



This site is full of great DIY homemade crafting tutorials and ideas!

Now if only I could craft some more hours into my day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crock Pot Monday: Italian Chicken Alfredo

I'm going to start a weekly post of crock pot recipes that I'm trying out.  Crock pot cooking is an excellent way to get a great bang for your buck, stretch your food dollars, and also save a ton of time and energy in the kitchen.

As a new mom, it is imperative that I find ways to cut corners and costs and crock pot/slow cooker cooking is the best way that I've found to do this.


Italian Chicken Alfredo
(This is modified from this recipe found on allrecipes.com.  I modified based on the ingredients I had readily available)
1 package of chicken breasts (I purchased a bunch on a buy one, get one sale and froze a bunch - these packages have approximately 3-4 good sized breasts in them)
1/2 regular bottle italian dressing (less than $1 at Aldi)
1 package spaghetti noodles or fettucini noodles (less than $1)
1 package cream cheese (I prefer the Neufch√Ętel lower fat alternative - generic brand is around $1)
1 can cream mushroom
oregano/parsley to season/taste

1.  Cut up chicken breasts into smaller, bite size chunks.  Toss in the crock pot.
2.  Pour 1/2 container of dressing into the crock pot and mix.
3.  Cook on low for 4 hours.
4.  At 4 hours, add melted cream cheese and cream of mushroom and mix. Add parsley and oregano to taste.
5.  Let sit for another hour.
6.  When you are close to serving time, prepare noodles in boiled water as per directions.  Prepare to your liking (ie, if you like al dente, etc.)
7.  Serve chicken mixture/sauce over noodles.

If you want, you can serve with a green tossed salad. 
7.  Add

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hair Care Tip

Are you using too much product? 

A lot of people think that more is better when it comes to shampoo and conditioner.  That's actually not true.  You only need about a dime size amount of product to wash and condition your hair.  More than that is overkill and doesn't make your hair any cleaner or more illustrious.  In fact, using too much conditioner can make your hair dirtier and weigh it down, while too much shampoo can strip your hair of extra nutrients.

Not only that - but it helps you save too.  If you aren't washing that extra product down the drain, it will extend the life. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What to skip when creating a baby registry...

When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited about the prospect of creating a baby registry.

When I actually created one, I was overwhelmed. 

When you are pregnant, you get tons of advice - some solicited, some not.  A lot of people will tell you what you surely need and what you shouldn't get. 

If you have tons and tons of family who want to buy things for you and have endless resources for spending, then by all means go all out.  However, knowing what I know now there are several things that I would have changed regarding my registry that would have saved me money and been more beneficial for me:

  • Do not get a ton of "newborn" sized anything.  Get one outfit to begin with to see if it will fit.  If you get more, do NOT take off tags and wash yet because you may need to return them.  My son couldn't fit into most newborn sized items, ever.  You can always go out and get more should you need them.
  • Don't buy multiples of things unless you know for a fact that you will need/use them.  I got several swaddlers before hand because I thought surely I would use them.   When he was so little it was much easier to swaddle using receiving blankets but by the time I thought to use the actual swaddlers, he was not interested in swaddling.   I also got several different "types" of wraps or carriers....I actually only use one of them.  The rest have gone to waste.  Also I bought one type of  bottles because I thought I would like them.  I didn't.  So then I had to turn around and buy all new bottles of a different kind.
  • Do register for bigger clothes ...down the road.  You will be amazed at how quickly those kids grow.  My son is 5 months old and in some styles/brands, he is already wearing 9 month clothing.  Kids can grow into them.
  • Don't go crazy registering for too many clothes.  Some outfits never got worn by my little man.  And I quickly found out which ones I like and which ones I don't.  (Some are more user friendly....like anything with zippers as opposed to buttons).
  • You don't need 40 something activity toys.  There are so many bouncers, jumpers, walkers, exersaucers, etc. out there.  You don't need multiples of these items.  Some are good for the time being and some are good for different stages, but honestly a good deal of it is overkill.
Those are just a few suggesetions.  I guess my overall gist is that it is hard to anticipate what you and/or your baby will like and even though you want to be prepared, it isn't always the best idea to go ahead and get things. 

When in doubt, gift cards are a great way to go. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Deal Alert: Old Navy

Old Navy (website: www.oldnavy.com) has an awesome clearance right now. I just stocked up on a ton of basics (plain tees/tops, yoga pants, etc.). None of the tops I bought were more than $5 a piece - with most being around $2.99 or $3.99.

After Christmas Clearance

Here's how to shop after Christmas Clearance to get the best deals:

Now is the best time to shop after Christmas Clearance. The rookie frugalista may think that the best time is right after Christmas, however it is best to wait. Why? Well first of all, right after Christmas, most "Clearance" items are only marked at 50% off. That may seem like a lot, but not when you consider that waiting an extra week can save you anywhere from 75% off to 90% off! Also, there is a much bigger selection at first so you may get carried away with the "oh wow, its on sale so I must buy it even if I don't want it or need it" bug.

What to Get:
  • Pick up wrapping paper and other wrapping supplies.
  • Christmas decor that you actually will use (for example, if you need a new Christmas tree topper, now is the time to get it. But don't pick up extra odds and ends that will just take up space).
  • Non-dated/generic Christmas ornaments - When you get them at a great deal, you can use them for lots of things and actually make wonderful package trimmings. And when you get them for 10 cents a piece, it isn't too shabby.
  • Christmas cards for the next year.

What Not to Get:

  • Don't pick up the candy unless you absolutely need it (I've picked up Clearance candy for work events, but that's it). You don't really need the extra calories and when you buy it in bulk, it will tempt you to no end.
  • Don't get any gift items that are dated OR are trendy. For example - don't pick up that Jonas Brothers notebook that is on clearance for 95% off...you never know if they will be hot when you need to gift the item.
  • Don't get a ton of generic "gifts" that you are planning to stash for extra presents. You'll find better deals throughout the year, plus you may end up with a closet full of stuff that you never end up gifting.
  • Don't get more things than you can comfortably store. What's the point of loading up on goodies if you are going to be miserable finding a place to store them?

Pointer: If you buy things for next year, remember to place them or store them in a place where you will remember them. If you are going to get a good deal on Christmas cards, they don't do a bit of good if you don't remember where you put them next year!