Archive | August, 2012

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

30 Aug

A picture from the Battle of Blue Licks re-enactment I attended. My brother is shown in the picture on the right.

  • I attended a battle re-enactment where my brother Caleb re-enacted.  It was lots of fun!  I carpooled with family to save money on gas and I successfully resisted buying any snacks or drinks by taking a nice little cooler.  (If you don’t yet own a cooler large enough for a day trip invest in one soon.  My favorite cooler cost only $12 new and has saved us so much money!  They are also easy to find second-hand.)
  • I sewed a baby sleep sack as a gift for a friend using McCalls 4236.  I used a darling fleece print from my stash and a red zipper I had on hand.  I’ve really been trying to use up a lot of the fabric in my stash.   😉  The project turned out wonderful and I sewed it one evening after Elijah went to sleep.  I can’t wait to give it to her.
  • Accepted free zucchini and tomatoes from my aunt.  I made a nice side dish with them for dinner one night that was practically free.  I also made 2 loaves of zucchini bread.  We ate one and gave one away.
  • Went to the beauty shop and had my eyebrows waxed on Wednesday when waxes are only $5.  🙂  One of my favorite ways to splurge.
  • The green beans in my garden are finally ready.  Hooray!  They were supposed to be ready a month ago.  Better late than never right?  Eli and I picked them together and canned 10 quarts.  Elijah is actually getting pretty good at picking green beans.  I also had him dump my little basket of green beans into the bigger basket at the end of the row.  He was truly a help and a joy to be with!  🙂  So far I have canned 38 quarts of green beans and hope to do lots more.  They taste so good in the middle of winter.  🙂
  • I decided to be adventurous and canned 8 pints of zucchini pickles.  I”ve never had them but decided to give them a try.  I figured if there was a recipe for them in my simple canning book that they must taste at least decent or they wouldn’t be included in it.  Anyone else ever had them?
  • I finally have enough cucumbers in my garden to make pickles.  Hooray!  I canned 8 pints of Bread & Butter Pickles while Elijah took a nap.
  • My sweet hubby painted a picture for our kitchen that I absolutely adore.  🙂
  • I watched a free 75 minute lesson from Greg Howlett on playing mood (soft) music during worship services.  It was really good and challenged me a lot as a pianist.
  • I baked a chicken in the Crock Pot.  The next day I made homemade chicken broth in the Crock Pot.  It is so simple to make you simply must try it!
  • Used a coupon to get an oil change for the van for 19.95.
  • I went to a dozen yard sales on Saturday morning and purchased a number of much-needed items: 2 shirts for myself, 2 pairs of shoes for Eli, 2 church sweaters, 2 dress shirts, 3 play shirts, lots and lots of books (to save for birthday & Christmas), a Thomas the Tank Engine game for his birthday, and a pair of overalls for my brother to wear in the fair parade.  I had a great time and scored a bunch of great items.  I even found baseball card sleeves for the hubby.   🙂
  • I picked zinnias from my yard and made 2 bouquets one for the bathroom and one for the kitchen table.  They have brought to a smile to my face numerous times throughout the day.  Such simple beauty that means so much.  I will be planting tons of flowers next year!  🙂
  • I found this great recipe on Pintrest for Betty Crocker Knock Off Box Mix Brownies.  These were great and only 30 cents a batch!  So much cheaper (and easier) than my usual recipe.
  • I purchased 5 sewing/craft books at a used bookstore for $13.  One of the books I bought was even on my current Amazon Wishlist.  😉  I also found 6 piano books that I purchased for $3.  I love finding older piano music.  I used one of the sacred piano books I bought to play the prelude for church on Sunday morning.

What sorts of frugal things did you do this week?

Putt Putt Golf to Remember

27 Aug

Eli was so excited.

Last weekend Elijah got to play putt-putt golf for the first time at Blue Licks State Park.  To say he was excited would be an understatment.  I handed him a ball and a putter and tried to explain the basic rules.  No throwing the ball or putter, no hitting people, etc.  I was pretty nervous and thought I bet he doesn’t last through two holes of golf.  I’m proud to report that Eli did a great job having good behavior and had a blast!  He actually played all 18 holes right alongside of me.  😉

Such a sweet memory.

I encouraged Eli to use the putter to kind of drag the ball along and he did great!  Elijah was very patient as he watched Aunt Katelyn, Aunt Bekah, and myself try to get our ball into the hole.  It was so fun to watch him try to get the ball into the hole.  He was enthralled with the whole game and mesmerized by hole 18 where the machine eats the ball.  I look forward to taking him for years to come.  What a fun summer tradition it would be.  🙂  I never would have dreamed that at the age of 2 he would enjoy putt putt golf as much as he did.  Once again I am so thankful for the opportunity to make a precious memory with my sweet little boy.

Bubbles and Pocket Shorts: Kwik Sew 2858 Review

22 Aug

Eli enjoying the day playing with bubbles and sporting his “shorts with pockets”.

One of my goals this year has been to sew more for my little boy Elijah.  Not only is it a great way to treasure him it is also very practical.  Every week it seems he grows taller but his waist appears to grow smaller.  Add to it the fact that he is now potty trained and no longer has nice cloth diapers to add some bulk to keep his pants up.  🙂  It seems that we are now resigned to buying only adjustable elastic waist pants or sewing them myself.

After another day of fighting pants that were falling off (despite a pair of suspenders) I decided I would sew him a pair of shorts.  I looked over a number of patterns and finally decided to splurge on Kwik Sew 2858.  I’m so glad that I did.  This pattern is wonderful.  I have made the shorts twice this summer and look forward to making the pants and vest this fall.  (I actually made the shorts in May but am just now getting around to reviewing them.)

The perfect pair of play shorts.

I made a size 1 for my little boy but this was probably a bit small.  At the time of making these his waist measured 18.5 and his hip with a diaper was 22.5, without a diaper 21.  They fit great in the waist but seem to be a little bit short for my taste.  Next time I plan on making the size 1 in the waist and taper them out to a size 2 for length.  These are the perfect pants for my active little boy.  He absolutely loves the pockets.  There are two pockets on the front and Elijah just loves to walk around with his hands in them.

Notice the pocket on the back.

There is also a small pocket on the back.  The pattern only calls for one pocket on the back but you could easily add another.  It would also be cute to add a patch or applique on the back pocket.  On the second pair of shorts I made (not shown) I used 2 coordinating fabrics for a very boutique look.  🙂  The waistband and pockets were cut from a solid coordinating print.  While making the shorts I also stitched the crotch seem twice in order to reinforce the seams.  Since they are play shorts I thought they would experience plenty of strain and appreciate extra support.  I also hemmed the legs using a 1/4″ seam instead of the 1″ seam suggested.  I plan on making this pattern a lot so I also added a size tag of 24 months for the size 1 shorts I made.

This will be my go-to shorts and pants pattern for the next 2 years!

Overall Kwik Sew 2858 has to be one of my favorite patterns I have sewn this year.  I’m still amazed at how easy it is to sew.  Kwik Sew patterns always have great instructions but they are expensive and never go on sale.  I did purchase this pattern used off of etsy for around $5 including shipping.  It’s still a lot more than the usual .99 I usually pay for patterns but since I traced this pattern I will be able to use it for probably 2 more years.  (The pattern includes T1-T4.)  It also includes a vest and pants pattern that are at the top of my fall sewing to-do list.

Frugal Things I Did This Week

21 Aug

I embroidered the above design onto a piece of plain fabric in order to give it a little more pizzazz. I think it also makes it more special don’t you?

  • Brandon and I went on an overnight for one night this past week.  It was wonderful!  Not necessarily the most frugal thing we did but we did save up for it and pay CASH so we should get some credit right?  😉
  • I made homemade pasta salad and zucchini bread for our church banquet rather than picking something up at the store.  I had such a lovely time at our church’s GROW banquet.  🙂
  • I sewed half of a historical Colonial American era costume.  I made the chemise (undergarment like a nightgown) and the draw string skirt.  I altered two patterns (to make them period correct) that I had purchased for .99 each rather than spend $32 on a special patterns.  I didn’t complete the costume because my brother came home from Kuwait and his welcome home was during the re-enactment.   What a wonderful reason not to complete a project.  😉  I won’t be re-enacting this year but look forward to attending next year.
  • Eli and I gathered a few vegetables from our garden and ate them rather than purchasing vegetables at the store or farmer’s market.  They tasted absolutely wonderful.  There is just something about growing your own food that feels great!  We also got an excellent workout while weeding.  😉
  • Helped my sister Katelyn sew a nightgown.  I’m adding this to the list because it was a frugal yet fun activity to do together.
  • Finished teaching a summer Algebra refresher course to a tutoring student.
  • Cleaned my home with natural cleansers.  For more on how I clean my home visit this post.
  • Ordered 75 sewing needles for $15 which makes them $0.20 each from Newark Dressmaker Supply.  If I had purchased the needles from Hancock’s or JoAnn’s I would have paid around 3.50 for 5 needles making each needle cost 0.70.  For each needle I use from Newark I save 0.50.  🙂  Just so you know these needles have to be purchased in increments of 25.  I would imagine that I won’t be purchasing needles for at least a year or maybe two!  🙂  It is important to change your needle often when sewing.  Experts disagree on exactly how often a needle should be changed.  I usually change my needle after sewing one large project or two small projects.
  • I took along a cooler this past weekend while I went on a trip.  This allowed me to have plenty of cool drinks without having to purchase expensive drinks at a gas station or vending machine.  It is also really handy.
  • I embroidered the front of a gift while waiting for my brother’s returning home (from Kuwait) ceremony to begin.  The soldiers were delayed about 1.5 hours so this was a great way to use my time and really adds a nice touch to the gift.  (I’ll be blogging about this in a couple of weeks when it is finished.)  This is my first time to embroider something I will also be sewing so we’ll see how it turns out.  🙂
  •  Purchased 5 Simplicity patterns for 1.00 each verses the 10.00 each or more they usually cost.  Although many would say that sewing is not frugal it can be if you follow sales and are not wasteful with materials.
  • Visited an Amish salvage grocery store and bought two bags of goodies.
  • I carpool with my sister in order to save gas money.
  • Purchased a pair of Osh-Kosh dress shoes for Elijah for 1.00 at a yard sale.
  • I received a refund check for an awful stay at a hotel last month.  I had written a letter about the deplorable conditions.
  • Accepted a bag of clothes from my sister to re-purpose into other things.  This is one area that I would like to become more proficient in within the next couple of months.
  • I resisted the urge to purchase 2 new piano books.  Instead I got out all of my sacred piano books and added post-it notes to about 10 songs I want to learn in the next 2 months.  Sometimes you don’t realize how much you already have until you look for it.

What sorts of frugal things did you do this week? 


The Get-A-Way

20 Aug

Brandon & I had the nicest time on our getaway.

Last weekend my super sweet hubby did something so kind.  He whisked me away on an overnight to Adams County, Ohio.  I knew we were going away together but I had no idea where we were going.  He tried to throw me off for about a week and it worked.  I had no idea where we were headed.  I did guess we would probably go north since we have explored pretty much everywhere south within a couple of hours of us.  Last August we went on a trip together to Natural Bridge which was wonderful.   

As we were driving I was absolutely convinced Brandon was lost.  We had no GPS and he kept glancing at the directions but wouldn’t let me help navigate at all.  🙂  He told me we were pulling over for gas and we ended up in the middle of nowhere which was really quite nice.  I’ll never forget when Brandon looked at me and said, “Amanda you can’t laugh but I need you to look for a road called Coon Hill.”

Of course I laughed my head off but I was thrilled!  We pulled up to the Rooster’s Nest Bed & Breakfast and butterflies started to form in my stomach.  I had never stayed in a bed & breakfast even though I have always wanted to.  All of a sudden I started to think of the Gilmore Girls episode when Rory and her mother go to a bed & breakfast.  Thankfully our stay wasn’t anything like that at all.  It was great!

The owners were wonderful and we just happened to be the only couple staying there so it was even better.  Everything was so relaxing.  There was a nice lake and plenty of hiking trails right on the property.  Perfect for Brandon and I.  The next morning we were served a fancy 4 course breakfast overlooking the lake.  Pure bliss?  I think so.  🙂

Our bed & breakfast was also situated in the middle of an Amish community much to my surprise.  Around 100 Amish families live in Adams County.  I had been to Amish Country up in Ohio as a young girl but in many ways Adams County seemed so different.  It wasn’t near as touristy as the other community I visited 15 years before.  I felt like we were able to interact more with the Amish community and even visited 3 businesses: a bakery, a furniture store, and my favorite a fabric store.

That’s right.  My sweet hubby took me to an Amish fabric store.  If that doesn’t say I love you I don’t know what does.  The majority of the fabric was high quality solids but I did find a cute red print to take home with me.  Now what should I do with it?  I picked it up as kind of souvenir of our trip.  It was also interesting to see a bunch of ready-made baby & toddler clothes.  One of the biggest differences between the Amish fabric store and the stores that I usually shop at is the fact that they sold no patterns.  Not a single one in the entire store.  I forgot to ask the owner about it but I imagine that they just sew the same patterns that they have sewn for generations.

We enjoyed one of the best pretzels ever at Miller’s Bakery.  They put even my Auntie Anne knock off pretzels to shame.  😉  One of my favorite parts of our trip was just hanging out with Brandon and getting lost on the back roads.  I”m really glad we did since we got to see an Amish schoolhouse and an Amish baseball game.

Our get-a-way was wonderful and made me even more thankful to have such a wonderful man in my life to call my husband.  Brandon planned every bit of our overnight and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with how it turned out.  It was just wonderful to spend some time together and focus on one another.  I would encourage any of my married friends to make an overnight/getaways a part of your budget.  Even if you feel like you are barely making it just put aside $10 or $20 a month and before long you will have enough to get away.  It is so important for your marriage and for your children!

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

16 Aug

One of my most successful attempts at blessing my family and being frugal at the same time!

I’m a big fan of The Prudent Homemaker.  Each week on her blog she lists her “frugal accomplishments of the week”.  I enjoy reading them so much that I thought it might be fun to add my own list each week.  (We’ll see if I really keep up with it!)  😉  Here are some of the things I did this past week to enjoy life, bless my family, and save money:

  1. Cut flowers from my garden and arranged in a vase to add beauty to our bedroom.
  2. Harvested zucchini from our garden and made killer zucchini bread.
  3. Made a cute summer shirt for my upcoming getaway with Brandon.  🙂  I spent $3.50 on the pattern, thread, and fabric.  I absolutely love it (pictures coming soon).
  4. I harvested cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, and banana peppers from my garden.
  5. I picked green beans for almost 3 hours with Eli and canned 28 quarts of green beans from my Uncle’s garden.  A huge thanks to my mom who helped me and finished up canning them for me (I had to take Eli home and put him to bed).
  6. We went to the library 3 times this week.
  7. I purchased close-to-date yogurt and cottage cheese at the grocery.
  8. I froze 6 pounds of clearance rack bananas for use in smoothies/banana bread.
  9.  I darned a hole in a sweater in preparation for fall weather.  I’m so NOT ready for fall yet!
  10. Replaced the adjustable elastic in a pair of Elijah’s pants with the elastic from another pair of pants that were worn out and headed for the garbage.  I also saved 3 buttons from the old pants to use in future sewing projects.  Now I just need a good way to keep track of buttons.  Any suggestions?
  11. Sold 2 books on amazon.
  12. I stopped at Staples and spent $5.18 on 2 bags of school supplies.  We use lots of school/office supplies for my tutoring business and for general organization.
  13. I ordered some undergarments online saving at least 50% and the hassle of taking Eli to the store.  They arrived today and fit wonderful!
  14. I received a few samples in the mail and signed up to receive a couple more in the upcoming weeks.
  15. I downloaded and printed free piano sheet music (legally) from The Piano Student for a piano student, friend, and myself.

Please share what frugal things you accomplished this week in the comments!  I would love to hear from you.  🙂

Toddler Craft: Milk Jug Lids, Foamies, & Paint

15 Aug

Eli couldn’t wait to try Mom’s latest Pintrest art project.

Once again let me just say how much I like pintrest.  It is filled with wonderful ideas many of which are just for kids.  When I came across this idea from Vanessa’s Values I knew I needed to start saving our milk jug lids and plastic bottle caps.

All smiles.  Please disregard the leftover lunch on Eli’s face.  (Elijah did this activity as I was washing the dishes after lunch.) 

All you do is take foamies and either glue them on a plastic lid or do like I did and use the foamie stickers.  Elijah chose a plane and a car.  We keep a bunch of foamies on hand for art projects or to keep Elijah entertained during church.  I save the plastic trays that come with produce to use with painting activities.  (I don’t save the meat trays.)

Action shot

This was also a good craft to do to use up some old acrylic paint I found when I was cleaning.  It doesn’t have the right consistency for any of my projects but works great for Eli.  🙂

I was fairly impressed with Eli’s stamping abilities.

This craft was so much fun!  I did find that milk jug lids worked much better than plastic drink bottle caps for Elijah’s little hands.  Guess we will adding milk jug lids to the list of things to repurpose around our home.

We loved this easy inexpensive craft!