Monday, January 31, 2011

Have fun with your electric bill...

That's right, you heard me! There's a free program online called Earth Aid that allows you to monitor your gas, electric, and water utility bills. You can compare your usage against others in your city or state to see how well you're doing. The nice part is that when you save on your energy and water, you can earn points that can be redeemed for rewards and discounts from Earth Aid's partners. We've enjoyed using Earth Aid and it has helped to make saving on our bills more rewarding and even a little fun. So turn down the heat, throw on a sweater, and check out the link:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wrapping Paper Storage

The lid broke on my trash can last year and I hated to throw away the bottom, so I let it sit in the garage until I found a good use for it. Here it is: a wrapping paper corral! It's great because it keeps the rolls from becoming unrolled or crushed and I can see exactly how much and what kinds I have. It stands in the closet by itself- no more digging and knocking them over. Brilliant!
*I know some of you have already thought of this, but humor me this time and let me bask in the glow of my small bit of originality!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

February...a month of savings!

February is almost upon us. I have to say I'm happy to see January behind me! I've been feeling some intestinal discomfort over the amount of money I spent in January. I don't regret shopping those wonderful sales and getting tons of birthday gifts out of the way in the first month of the year, but it just goes against my nature to spend a lot. So for the month of February, I'm going to challenge myself to spend as little as possible. I realized this week while digging through my very full chest freezer that we have eaten very little of the fruits and veggies I froze from last summer. In fact, we could probably survive for a month just eating from that freezer! So here goes nothin'! Since Valentine's day is just around the corner, I'll be sure to supply plenty of ideas that don't cost much or are free in case you decide to go on a spending halt with me. There, I said my piece. I feel relieved.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Instant Menu Board

You can create a custom menu board for very little dough! All you need is a tray or platter with a smooth surface, chalkboard paint, and a foam brush. Just paint the bottom of the tray with the chalkboard paint. That's it. No taping necessary. I bought the tray from a thrift store for $3, but you can probably find something cheaper. The chalkboard paint was $12 at Lowe's, but I didn't even put a dent in it and will be posting more this spring on more uses for it.

So here's what you need:

Here's what you get:

*Please excuse the chicken scratch handwriting. I discovered that the only chalk I had on hand was sidewalk chalk! Hopefully you can use your imagination on this one...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Golden Egg

Hi folks! After several thrift store runs while visiting family last week, I acquired my golden egg at the last store. There I was, in the housewares section. I didn't need anything in particular and was browsing just for the fun of it. And there it was. A huge, gorgeous, white octagonal platter in the very same pattern as my dishes! Even better, it was in new condition and was only $2.98. Come to mama! I snatched it up and did a little victory jig. (I kid you not.) My dishes are antique, so it's very hard to find matching pieces. So far the only places I've found them are at yard sales and thrift stores. It pays to look around!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When Flu Season Strikes...

Strike back with a flu-season readiness kit! Keep these essentials on hand to avoid an expensive (and miserable) trip to the drug store. Other great items to have are tissues, ginger ale, and saltines. If a friend asks how they can help, ask them to pick up a library book for you. (Reserve it online first) Now you have something to occupy your time and you won't be spreading your germs. And always remember: buy your stuff on sale and use coupons!

*Bananas, applesauce, rice, and toast are all good things to eat if you have an intestinal bug!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Deal O' The Day

I've tested this to make sure it isn't too good to be true, and it passed! If you create an account with , which is a photo processing website, they will give you 25 photo cards for free! The only thing you pay is shipping, which is $4.95. I made Valentine's day cards with our daughter's picture on them. After all's said and done, $.19 per card isn't bad! It sure beats paying $1-$4 per card from the store and there's a cute picture to boot. Just enter the promo code 25cards at checkout. Even if you're not using them for Valentines, it's a great deal for party invitations or birthday cards. The offer expires 3/31/11.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Of love and loss...

You may have noticed that I have "gone dark" the past few days. There was a death in our family and I've been out of town. The wonderful experience of being taken care of by so many friends and family have inspired me to write a post about it! When a friend is going through the loss of a loved one, I have often wondered what to say and what to do. Well, here are a few things that people have done for our family that I found particularly helpful and thoughtful, so I'm passing them along to you.
  • Bring practical items to the family such as coffee, creamer, napkins, paper cups and plates, and yes, even toilet paper!
  • Make a donation to a worthy cause in lieu of flowers.
  • When you send food, put it into disposable containers.
  • Don't feel like you have to say anything at all- a hug will do just fine.
  • Offer to do dishes or take out trash.
  • Offer to watch children for parents to go to the funeral or run errands.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Challenge...

Since it's January and I seem to do this every year, I'm starting the new year off with an organizational overhaul. I've decided to challenge myself to organize at least one thing each day until I'm sick and tired of it! Whether it's a dresser drawer, toy box, or a cluttered counter top, it doesn't matter- as long as I get one thing done per day. (Yesterday was a dresser and today it's the fridge.) I'm happy to report that this is going well and I'm getting more done than expected! So I hereby challenge you all to employ your organizational prowess and follow suit. It's a great pick-me-up on these dreary January days!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Makeup Sale!

The CVS where I shop is marking a lot of their makeup down 50-75%. Paired with coupons, you can get a variety of makeup products for very little! The makeup with markdown tags are scattered among the rest of the makeup, so you have to look through each shelf for the orange and yellow tags. It's definitely worth checking out your local store for some great bargains!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Feeling crafty. Or not.

 In case you didn't know, I am not a crafty person. The very words "craft, glue, or paint" strike fear into my heart. I would rather have my toenails yanked from their comfy cuticle beds than attempt to be involved in a craft project! My daughter, much to my chagrin, loves crafts. While they do keep her occupied, they are also taking over the house!! If you find yourself in the same boat, try this: designate a bin or container strictly for crafty items. This way your child can put them away herself and you don't have to look at the mess! Any old bin or tote will do. I understand this may not be a news flash for some of you, but as I am a foreigner in a crafty land, it has been a great help to me. Mine is pictured below. At last my soul is at peace. I no longer have to look at the offending craftiness!

*Disclaimer: If you are crafty, please do not be offended. I admire your creative genius and wish I had your gift. The world needs more of you crafty folk!