Archive | July, 2013

DIY Special Date Personalized Art Canvas

31 Jul
Bedroom Home Décor on a budget.

Bedroom Home Décor on a budget.

One of my goals for this past month has been to put more effort into decorating our home.  Home Décor is just one of those areas I just plain stink at.  We’ve lived in our current home almost 2 years and most of the windows still don’t even have curtains!  (I have an aversion to sewing curtains because it just seems so boring compared to everything else one can sew.)  I really desire to have a cozy home that is a place of rest for my family so I decided to start making this more of a priority.

My plan is to work on one room each month.  This month I worked on our bedroom.  It’s probably the easiest room to start with.  🙂  So far I have switched out my bedside bookcase for the one that had been in the sewing room.  I like it much better.  I also added black sconces on each side of the mirror above my dresser and added candles.  My favorite thing I did this month to decorate our bedroom was to make the above sign.  Can you guess what the numbers mean?  It is the date of our wedding anniversary and no doubt my favorite day of the whole year!  🙂

When I saw this number sign on Pintrest I knew I had to give it a try.  Since all of our walls are white I knew I wanted to paint the canvas first.  (My canvas was 16″ x 20″.)  I chose a light green color that matched our curtains and bed spread.  I gave the canvas two coats of paint.  (Elijah ended up wanting to paint also so I let him paint his own canvas at the same time.)

Since I can’t actually paint anything besides a plain background, I decided to utilize my Cricut.  I thought about making a stencil but then decided to just cut the numbers out of vinyl since I already had some on hand.  (I used brown.)  I used the Plantin’ Schoolbook cartridge for the Cricut and cut 6″ numbers.  I had planned on using the transfer tape this time but cut my vinyl too deep so I ended up placing them on the canvas without the tape.  The numbers 1 and 2 were easy to place but boy did the number 3 and 7 give me fits.  Still I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I also painted a sealer that I had on hand over the canvas.

This project turned out to be very inexpensive!  I purchased a 2 pack of canvases for 3.99 at Michaels.  (I plan on using the other one in baby girl’s nursery.)  I spent 0.54 for paint and had the vinyl, sealer, and paintbrushes on hand.  Total out-of-pocket expense: 2.54!  This may be one of my cheapest craft projects yet.

The hubby seemed to really like it.  (He’s a bit sentimental himself.)  He joked that now he will never forget the year we were married.  Ha, ha!  (I still think he will forget one year but I don’t think he will forget the day because it is also his birthday!)  I would still like to add something to the wall opposite our bed but I just haven’t figured out what yet.  Maybe a wedding picture?  I’m really thankful I was able to devote more time to decorating this month.  Before you know it we will have a little bassinett in there with a sweet little baby.

What sort of home décor do you have in your bedroom?  Has anyone made a photo gallery of pictures of the hubby and yourself?

Budget Friendly Health & Dental Scheduling

24 Jul

 

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As a college student I always scheduled all of my checkups-Dental Cleaning, Eye Exam, and Well-Checkup for the first week I was home in May.  That way I could get them over with and enjoy the rest of my summer.   When I got married I continued with this idea and included my husband.  Unfortunately this turned out to be a budget disaster for us!  He also hated the idea of having three appointments in a single week.  Our small budget just couldn’t handle the expense of copays for the dentist and paying for the entire eye exam, contacts & or glasses for two people.  Somewhere in the past almost five years of being married we figured out that we needed to space them out.  Not only is this much easier on our budget but we don’t find ourselves going crazy trying to get everything done within a week.  We set aside a monthly amount in our budget each month for health, dental, and vision expenses.  Spacing out our appointments insures that there will be enough money in our health budget to pay for different services when the bill comes.

If you would like to adopt a similar plan it’s actually quite simple.

  1. For each family member write down exactly which appointments they will need within the next 12 months.
  2. Then write down what each visit will cost you.  In our family everyone has a well check-up which is covered 100% by our insurance (as long as the doctor’s office bills it correctly).  You may want to call your insurance company and find out exactly what sort of Well-Check Ups are covered.  Each family member also goes to the dentist twice a year for a cleaning where we will have to pay a small portion.  Some dental insurances require you to pay a copay where others pay only a set dollar amount towards services.  Brandon & I also both wear contacts and must have an eye exam every year.  We do not have vision insurance so this is one of our biggest expenses because we have to pay for the eye exam and contacts.  If anyone in your family takes prescription medicine they might also need to schedule lab work every three or four months so keep this in mind.

I thought it might be helpful to share what exactly this looks like for our family:

January-Amanda has her well-checkup and lab workup.

February- Brandon & Amanda go together to the dentist and out to eat afterwards.

March-Elijah visits the dentist.

April- Brandon has an eye exam.  He will then try out contacts for a month and we will order a six-month supply at a time.

May-Amanda has an eye exam.  Her contacts will be ordered the next month.

June- Brandon has his annual Well-Check Up at the doctors with labs.  Since this is covered 100% there is money in the budget to cover Amanda’s contacts which are then ordered.

July- Amanda visits the dermatologist.

August- Brandon & Amanda have their teeth cleaned again.

September- Elijah visits the dentist.

October- For the past few years this month has held no appointments but we will soon be adding yearly well-checkups for our new baby girl.  🙂

November-Elijah has his well-check up.

December- We schedule NO appointments during this crazy month and focus on enjoying the Christmas season.  This is also a crazy month to visit the doctor since many people have met their deductible for the year.

I can’t begin to share just how helpful it has been for our family to space out our check-ups.  I hope you find this idea helpful.  We have actually found this schedule to be the most beneficial this year since I am expecting.  I visit the doctor once a month but will soon find myself going every two weeks and then every week.  I am so glad to have so many of our visits over with before our baby comes. 

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

21 Jul
I grew this sunflower right outside our front porch.

I grew this sunflower right outside our front porch.

This past week I decided to bring some of the beautiful sunflowers indoors.  I can’t remember the exact name but I do think they were purchased from Renee’s Garden.  Now if I can only stop Eli from picking them for me!  We won’t have any left in another week or two.

I attended two non-consecutive days of the KY State Horse Show this past week.  My brother Jacob and sister Rebekah both showed at the show on different days.  I got up early and drove down rather than spending the night in a hotel.  I also packed lunch one day and a cooler of snacks both days.  I took a small soft sided cooler that I was able to carry up into the stands with us.  I also rode with my family in order to save on gas.

Elijah and I went to the splash park with my aunt and cousin.  We purchased a season pass at the beginning of the summer so the cost is minimal.  We took a cooler of snacks and drinks along.  Do you see a trend yet?  🙂

We also met friends on another day at the local park and had a picnic.  I had a wonderful time catching up with a good friend.

We had the tires on Brandon’s car rotated.  Not only does this save money in the long run but it is much safer.  We rotate our tires every 5,000 miles.  Our local tire store Tire Discounters guarantees that your tires will last for a certain amount of miles if they are rotated every 5,000 miles or they will give you money off your next tire purchase.  We had this happen with our Saturn and they did make good on their promise.

On Wednesday I had a good friend over for brunch.  We often meet to go walking but it is getting hot outside.  I served a simple French Toast Bake, fresh fruit salad, and homemade Starbucks.  It was wonderful to spend time with her.  Elijah simply played while we visited and neither one of us went home with a large bill from having gone to a restaurant.

On Friday night we went to the Cincinnati Museum Center.  We had to pay $4 for parking but we received free entrance to all 3 museums.  The museum center offers free admission once a month in the summer.  It was great!  It would have cost us $34 for just the 3 of us.

The family and I went to the library on Saturday morning together.

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

12 Jul
Elijah caught his first fish this past week!

Elijah caught his first fish this past week!

We enjoyed a wonderful week last week enjoying the 4th of July and even had the opportunity to visit with family who live out of town.  Summer continues to be a fun time for our family but also an expensive one.  I think we may try to put “Summer Fun” into our budget throughout the year.  Has anyone done this before?  We have been able to continue many of our frugal ways this past week.  🙂  

I was able to sew a lot this past week.  I made a 9″ x 8″ cosmetic bag for Brandon’s Grandmother for her birthday.  I finished sewing 2 more fitted cloth diapers from the Kwik Sew pattern.  I finally completed a new kindle cover for myself using Kwik Sew 3924.  I started working on my cover in February so I was really happy to finally mark this off my to-do list!  I also made my first pocket cloth diaper using Green Pepper PatternF708.  I used 4 layers of flannel for the insert which I don’t think is near enough.

I spent a couple hours working in the garden.  With all of the rain we have been having the weeds are definitely winning!  I expect to have squash and green beans in the next few weeks!  Hooray!

We had VBS Commencement with a Cookout at our church.  I made Energy Bites, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars, & cupcakes.  We also had an inflatable water slide which was lots of fun.  Eli had a blast on the slide!

I headed to Goodwill one afternoon and had a great time browsing for clothing for our little Pumpkin.  I found tights, little pants, a onesie, a lightweight jacket, and a dress.  I also picked up a nice winter shirt for Eli and a book on breastfeeding.

My husband’s grandmother gave us a bunch of cat food and makeup that wasn’t her color.

I read 3 ebooks on my kindle for free.

The hubby and I went to one of my favorite restaurants for a breakfast date!  It was delicious and inexpensive compared to lunch or dinner.

I made homemade chicken broth in the Crockpot.  I like to freeze the broth in 2 cup servings in the freezer.  Not only does this save money but bone broth is good for you!

We spent a fun afternoon at a neighborhood park as a family.  Elijah also caught his first fish!

I used Kohl’s cash to buy: a BPA free cup with a straw and 2 pyrex dishes with lids for .50 out-of-pocket.

I purchased a lot of size small Bummis Super Whisper Wrap cloth diaper covers from ebay.  (These are my favorite covers.)  In my experience babies don’t stay in the size small long enough for them to be worn out at all.

I ordered 99 prints from Shutterfly for 4.99 shipped.  (I always wait to order prints until I can find a nice deal.)

We enjoyed the 4th of July with family and a fireworks show.  On two separate evenings our neighbors shot off fireworks which we were able to enjoy from the comfort of our home.  Over the weekend we attended dinner at our neighbor’s house.  I took Pineapple Fluff.

 

Pregnancy Update: 25 Weeks

9 Jul
Our little pumpkin!

Our little pumpkin!

 

Last week we had the opportunity to do a 3D ultrasound.  Such a fun way to get a sneak peek at our little girl.  We had a 3D ultrasound with Eli and I think he looked a lot like the ultrasound pictures when he was born.  We took Elijah with us for the first time so he had a chance to see the baby and hear the baby’s heart beat.  So fun!

I can’t believe I’m finally in the second half of pregnancy.  It’s crazy to think that we will have a sweet little baby girl around here in about 15 weeks.  Ever since I hit 20 weeks the time has been going by much faster!  In so many ways I feel as though I have been pregnant forever but I am so thankful for this gift.  Thankfully I have been feeling pretty good.  I do find myself having to slow down a little from the amount of activity that I usually do.  My usual daily schedule involves gardening/playing outside for a couple of hours, lunch, and either a rest or nap in the afternoon.  Some days it’s really hard for me to sit down and rest but I know it is really important.  Traveling long distances has also become a lot more uncomfortable but still bearable.

I have started tackling some organization projects around the house.  Am I nesting already?  The baby’s room is currently a sewing room that includes a twin bed.  Almost everything in the room will need to be removed before the baby comes.  So far I have cleared out the shelves in the top of the closet.  That was a big ordeal.  The top of the closet now holds five Rubbermaid totes to store clothing.  I’m anxious to get the room cleared out but wow it takes forever!  I’m also not supposed to lift anything heavy which doesn’t work well with re-arranging!  🙂  Thankfully we do have a finished basement with an open layout.  We are really trying to use that space more in the upcoming year.  I have been working on creating a cozy little corner for crafts and sewing.  I’m looking forward to having a larger area for crafting and sewing.  I may try to set up a special craft area for Elijah too!  Elijah has a play area and another area will serve as a guest room for when we have family visiting from out-of-town.  We also have TONS of books downstairs.  I’d love to put a couch or nice reading chair down there but that is on the distant future list.  🙂

Pumpkin continues to move around like crazy.  Brandon & Elijah have both been able to feel her kicks.  They are that hard already!  I found a new OB which is such an answer to prayer.  Brandon and I both really like him.  At our last appointment we heard the heart beat again which NEVER gets old!  The baby and I both look great.  Baby is currently measuring 2 pounds!  I can’t believe that.  Let’s just hope she isn’t as big as I was when I was born (11lbs 10oz.).    At this point I am probably back to my pre-pregnancy weight (I lost some due to morning sickness).  I have an appointment next week where I get to enjoy the fabulous glucose drink.  🙂  I’m definitely starting to feel “big” in the front.  I seem to be surprised every Sunday when I sit down to play the piano at church.  I now find my arms brushing against my belly.  People have really started to notice and comment a lot lately too!  We also signed Elijah up to take a Big Brother Class next month which will be lots of fun.

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

6 Jul

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We made homemade popsicles.  In the photo above Eli is enjoying his popsicle and his cousin Anna’s.  🙂

I borrowed Downton Abbey Season 2 from the library.

My niece June Eloise was born.  I gave her two flannel crib sheets that I had made and a set of cloth wipes as her baby gift.

We packed a cooler for all of our outings.

I sewed another newborn fitted cloth diaper from scrap fabric in my stash.  (I will try to take a photograph soon.)

My son got an ear infection and needed antibiotics.  I had the prescription filled at Meijer Pharmacy where many antibiotics are free.  His prescription cost nothing!

I used a coupon at Kohls when my husband bought new clothes.

I did not go to the grocery store all week.  I try to only go to the grocery 3 times a month.  I would love to get it down to every other week by the time our new baby comes.

My friend gave me a huge box of girl clothes that will fit our new baby after her first birthday.  There were lots of pretty dresses too!

Hope you are having a wonderful summer!