Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Laundry Before and After

Try and control yourself, people.  This post will change your life.  Seriously, you may want to take a bathroom break before you have an accident. 

Dillon and I have been married for four years now. And since day 1 (ok probably day 18 since I most likely avoided laundry for awhile) the poor man has been subjected to hanging our clothes on the line next to this hot pink striped bag filled with clothespins.  You seen at one point in life,  I bought clothespins and needed a place to put them.  I looked around and BEHOLD! The perfect size bag. And that's how this beaut of a system was born.

Dillon had been embarrassed by this this for four years.  It's sat on our counter when we have had guests.  It's hung next to clothes drying on the line for ALL THE NEIGHBORS TO SEE. So now that Dillon finally got over the embarrassment, I'm changing it up. Enter the grown up clothespin holder:

Growing up my mom had a bag that appeared to be made out of a little girl's dress (sewn across the hem and hanging on a hanger) so that's a similar look that I was going for.  Except I don't have a little girls dress.  And the hanger was going to be encased inside the bag so it would never fall off.

So I poked around in my fabric stash until I found this patterned upholstery fabric.  I have no idea where it came from,  but it reminds me of my friend Josie's dining chairs after she reupholstered them.  Any thoughts on how it  came to be mine, Josie?  Well I hope you didn't want it back cuz I cut it up into this shape (it is folded at the bottom and has a layer of white cotton to be the inside lining) that lines up with a baby hanger it will hang from.  Don't be like me: iron your fabric.  I notched out a chunk to be the hole where you can reach in and grab a clothespin like this. Then sew each piece (outer fabric and lining) up the side (so you will be sewing 4 lines).

Folded in half at the bottom (the right side on the picture)

Here's where things always stump me. I always get confused about how to layer pieces inside each other so that the lining and outer fabric line up and have the seams sandwiched inside (and therefore invisible).  So it goes: lining on the inside with the seam facing in and the patterned fabric on the outside with the seams facing out. I sewed around the "collar" leaving a 3inch gap to turn it inside out and then stuck a baby hanger in the hole. 

Sewn up each side, ready for sewing along the "collar", then turning

 I finished it quick by hand stitching the two last flaps so that the raw edges weren't exposed. If I was ambitious I would have done a cute line of gray piping around it but let's face it. Newborn.

Yup, he's the cutest baby in the world.

So there you have it. A two-nap craft that I should have done years ago.  Instead I made it with all my spare time with this baby around.  I know you've never been more thrilled.  You're practically hysterical with excitement, I know.

Monday, July 21, 2014

One Thrifty Lady

So here's the thing: I'm cheap. Thrifty, if you will.  And now that hospital bills, an infant, a sudden major car repair, house purchase and maintenance, and quitting a job has happened this year, we are trying REALLY hard to live inexpensively. Because we have to. 

I keep reading "101 tips to save money" type articles online but there isn't anything new for me so I thought I'd throw my 2cents in the ring and see if any of you all had and tips to trade.  Here we go...

Step 1 is to adjust your expectations.
-First of all Pray.  I frequently find myself praying that we have enough money for this expense or that and God always provides. One way or another.  I also pray for God to change my heart so that I am not jealous of other's good fortune or prosperity. 
-Remind yourself that you don't really know other peoples' finances. Your fiends or that neighbor with the fancy boat might be one of the millions of people who carry insane amounts of debt. Don't be jealous of that!
-Remind yourself that our culture is crazy. Things and stuff, things and stuff and then you die(to paraphrase my pastor). Despite what the commercials say, you can live without it, and may even enjoy your life more.

Ok, ok, so how about the practical tips?

Plan ahead
-pregame for eating out.  My husband eats like my son: all the flippin' time. And they are both skinny. Jerks. Anyhoo, a lot of people will tell you to split an entree to save money but that doesn't work for my black-hole of a husband. So he will most often eat a sandwich (or more) before we go to a restaurant. He still gets an entree and sometimes my sides and that way he actually feels like it was money well-spent instead of still being hungry.
-Along with this "hungry husband" thing, we eat a lot of potatoes and eggs. Both are really cheap and fill out meals that would only satisfy a normal human stomach.
-Save your gift cards and returns for needs.  We often get gift certificates (or end up with store credit for returns) for gifts.  So instead of going right away and spending them, we save them until we need something specific like jeans, a dress for a wedding, or (yup) socks&underwear. Not super fun but, hey, you can get the cute underwear, right?
-Get thyself a cheap hobby. Blog, craft, run. Bonus points for anything that saves/makes money like canning food or selling your quilts.  None of this interior decorating/hobby car racing/gambling business for you, sir. You're too thrifty!
-DIY as much as possible. The old standby. Everything from cooking to home improvement to car repair to gifts. Even if you can't do it all yourself, what parts can you do?
-Make your own cards. Get a pack of pretty paper and fold one in half. Write something sweet. Instant card. No one really treasures cards anyway and its the handwritten part that leaves an impression. When card companies charge $3-$5 per card, you can save some decent money over the course of a year.
-Sell your shtuff.  Garage sale, consignment, craigslist.  Books are good. Just think of the stuff wasting away in your basement.  Remember, "things and stuff and then you die".  Purge, people!

-My favorite store is Target. (Fun fact, my son's favorite is menards. No joke!) Oh Target, you're the best. So when I say "know your store", here's how I know Target.  I have the cartwheel app and use it frequntly.  I look at it every time I plan my shopping list.  At Target, they often have things on sale along with being on Cartwheel, so you feel like a real winner when that happens. I also can sometimes combine Cartwheel, sales, clearance, Target coupons (printouts from the register they give you with recepts OR this incredible print your own thing on their website). That website is my fav because they sometimes have high value coupons like $10 off $50 in groceries. Totally worth installing the coupon printer on your computer.

-Target has lots of lovely clearance endcaps and I try not to buy anything unless it's at least 50% off. Hopefully 70% or even 90%.  The percent off is located on the top right of the clearance sticker. 

This one went from 15% off to 50% off.  WIN!

-I'm totally blessed in that my area has 6 Targets within an hour of my home and often each Target has different clearance items or at least different percent-offs (I think I made that term up).  So if I'm going on a Target run, I try to go to a different Target each time just in case the clearance is better in one or the other. 
See that "was $10.79".  I got lucky at a different location.

-If you see groceries on clearance, especially in the aisles (not just endcaps), you need to walk down every darn aisle cuz there are some deals to be had!  And we're not talking weird expired food here, we're talking totally normal food.  I've gotten flour/sugar/canned goods/baking mixes/spices/granola bars.  Like these super tasty muffin mixes.  I may have purchased 5 of these bad boys.

-Fnally with Target, I am going against all other "seventy-billion ways to save money" lists and I say Shop often.  The key to this is to have self control.  You can't go into Target six times a week, impulse buy things and stuff, and expect to save money.  But if you can see cute things and resist buying, I think it can be smart to shop often.  You won't be taken off-guard by the adorable thingyoureallywant, and will be more likely to be patient for them to go on clearance because you know you will be back soon.  Its easy to wait for it to go on better clearance, too.  Oh yes.

So that's what I got.  Hope you like Target!  What are you tips and tricks?  Anything I haven't read on "sixty-bazillion and one tips to save money"? 

Aaaand now I'm literally going to go pick up something someone put out for garbage.  Spoiler alert: It's a kids plastic jungle gym. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

2 months

My growing boy!

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7
Week 8

You are smiling at us with some regularity now,  and we suspect that you are working up a chuckle.  You and I have sorted out a few things, and now you are eating more efficiently and giving us more frequent moments of "happy baby", which we love.  You rolled over at 5 weeks old and continue to evade tummy-time by flipping over right away.  We've been going for lots of walks and you sleep like a baby (ha!) when you're in your carseat/stroller.  You've recently figured out that you like being swaddled and don't fight for your life anymore.

 The part where I get sappy...I can no longer fit my thumb and finger around your thigh and it makes me sad that I'll never be able to again although I knew you were going to grow sometime.  I always want to remember how you fold your hands so angelically at your chest while you nurse ("it couldn't have been me who was crying so hard just 2 minutes ago! ") or how you don't mind one bit when I stare and stare and stare at you and imagine what will come of this life that seems so little now. Ok im gonna cry so let's just spend a minute thinking about all the poop, shall we?