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Friday, February 13, 2015

Frugal Friday #2: Mindless Spending


Welcome to another edition of Frugal Friday. If you missed my first post from a couple of weeks ago, you can catch it here: Frugal Friday #1. In that post I talked about how I feel clutter is costing us money, real money. I'm guessing many of you reading can relate.


This week I thought I would talk about another area that costs my family money: buying stuff we don't need. I can't tell you the number of times I have gone to the store (Target specifically) and bought something I didn't need because, "it was a good deal" or "it was on clearance". Well, I'm about to share a big fat secret with you, prepare yourself.



If you don't need the item any cost above $0 is NOT a good deal. Let that sink in. It is NOT a good deal. Let me give you an example of where I purchased an item I don't need. In order to make room for a recently installed dishwasher (my first one EVER!), I lost a kitchen cabinet. With this loss, I needed to reorganize a few cabinets to make room for my homeless items. In my cleaning/reorganizing, I found fifteen insulated lunch bags. FIFTEEN! We only have two people in our house that need to even pack a lunch, my hubby and I (my oldest son gets free lunch at school thanks to a grant his school district receives for all students). I of course only use 1-2 of these bags and my husband doesn't use any, he opts for the classy system of shoving his food in his briefcase. Sigh.


Too many hats and mittens for one family!
Ok, so I found these fifteen bags in my cabinets in October. During the month of December I found myself at OfficeMax and they had an insulated bag on clearance for $3. It is a freezable sandwich bag.... I don't have one of those .....and it was only $3.....and it was a super cute pattern. I bought the stupid thing. Why? Why? Why? I know, it is only $3, but these little purchase are what add up and I didn't NEED the silly thing. In January I did this at Target with crib sheets. We already have 4, I bought 2 more because they were on clearance for $2.98. Ugh, why?


I am especially guilty of these mindless purchases at Target. Their clearance aisles are so irresistible. I find all kinds of goodies all the time but before you know it, your quick run in for your prescriptions has you standing in line with $50 of "stuff" in your cart. My husband has this problem at Menard's. He goes for nails and comes home with crap we don't "need" all the time: hand soap, batteries, rugs(!),household cleaners. Heck, my garage and basement are full of these silly thoughtless spending trips.

Look at all those lint rollers!


So we're making a real effort this year not to make these purchases and to ask ourselves, "do we really need this item" before making the purchase. Just asking yourself that simple question before making the purchase can help. Another way to cut back on mindless purchasing: make less trips to the store. Wait till you have a list of items you need instead of going for one thing or going because you're bored. If less trips isn't enough, ask your partner to make the trip to the store for you instead. Swap trips, for us that means my husband may need to go to Target and I go to Menard's. I won't be as tempted to fill my cart with unneeded stuff at the home improvement store and he will not do such mindless shopping as I do at Target....heck, I don't think he knows where their baby aisle even is! 


We also created a "do not buy" list that we both have access to on our phones when we are at the store. We have items on our "do not buy" list that fall into this mindless spending category and our "clutter" spending category (related to the first Frugal Friday post). Here are some of the items on our list:  batteries, hand soap, lotion, toothbrushes. Very similarly, you could keep an inventory list of items you have, I could see this being really benificial with food items. How many times have you found yourself buying a spice for a recipe because you weren't sure you had any at home but when you get home you already have 3 bottles of that same spice....Ugh, molasses anyone?....it will only take me till ETERNITY to use those bottles.

So in closing, give some thought to your mindless spending and find ways to reduce or eliminate it before it becomes a real budget buster!



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cards for In-Betweeners


So my six (almost seven) year old has hit that age where he isn't a baby anymore but he isn't a grown up either. He's what I am calling an in-betweener. In-betweeners don't cry when the nurse gives them a shot because they're tough, but they cry when their mommy doesn't make Mac n Cheese because....well....they can. In-betweeners don't like superheroes because those are for babies but they watch Sesame Street when nobody's watching. In-betweeners don't kiss their mom goodbye at school but they kiss their mommies goodnight at home.

Aweeeee, Ooooohhhh, how I love my in-betweener and all the sassiness that comes with him. Finding cards to fit this age group can be challenging but I think I designed a few that will work for this age group and I thought I'd show them to you today.


I have found that kids of all ages LOVE balloons and so I thought a card full of them would make any kid smile despite their age. For this card, I used the Sweet Cheeks stamp set from PTI to make some animal shaped balloons to create an in-betweener card with a stamp set that would normally only work for babies. This helps me get more bang for my buck with this set! Double duty, right?


The next card was created using the Bubble Talk stamp set. This set screams in-betweener and teenager alike! This card would be perfect for those kids who just got their own phone or anyone with a bit of sass in them....speaking of phones, I says a lower El student with a phone today.....TOO YOUNG! To make this card gender neutral, I stamped it in primary colors and covered up the heart stamp with a star. This gives me the ability to gift this to approximately 50% more people and let's face it, with three boys in the house and no girls, I'm more likely to need this for a boy! Score again!


This card uses the Simple Stars stamp set with the corresponding Stars cover plate. I love this card because not only does it work for kids, but I can use it for adults too. These are the types of cards that are great to have on hand because it works so well for everyone.


Last but not least, I have this CAS card that uses the Random Stripes stamp set and a die from the Birthday Trio die collection. Again, another card that works well for either gender and any age because of the layout and color sceem.

Ok, that's it for me, I need to go check MY in-betweener's attitude!  I hope I've inspired you to create a few cards for the in-betweener in your life!

Ta-ta!

Ericka

Friday, January 16, 2015

Frugel Friday #1: How Clutter Costs Me Money

I return to work in just one week from now after having off for the last ten weeks on maternity leave to care for my third (and final) baby boy, Thomas.  I have really enjoyed my time home with him and my middle son part time for three days a week (he goes to day care for the other two days to keep some routine in his life). Our day care bill is about to go from $240/week to $635/week, so we need to be mindful of our spending.  REALLY mindful of our spending. 

We do not have a lot of areas we can cut back on.  Our mortgage is already pretty cheap, we don't have car loans or credit card debt, we don't have cable or super huge cell phone bills.  Our family has done "no spend" months in the past and those have been popular posts on my blog (see here, here, here, and here) so I thought it would be fun to pop in once in awhile on this blog and share how we're saving money where we can.  I'm calling it, Frugal Friday.

Frugal Friday will be a day where I can share our ups and downs, share tips on how we save, and hopefully have you the reader do the same!  PLEASE!  I love reading blogs about saving money, if you have a great tip, please share it with me.

So let's begin by talking about one area where I think this family loses money:  CLUTTER.

Dun dun duuuun. 

Clutter.

Clutter costs this family real money.  You see, everything is so disorganized in this house, I'm guessing many of you can relate.  When things are disorganized you can't find the "thing" you are looking for.  When you can't find that said "thing" you go out and buy a new "thing" to replace the "thing" you can't find.  Suddenly before you know it you have 35 of that same "thing" in the house.  For us, this happens a lot.  The "thing" is: hats/gloves, batteries, dishtowels, lip gloss, plastic containers, socks, crib sheets, etc.  I could keep going but I think you get the picture, I'm sure you all have plenty of your own "things" that multiply.  Not only do they cost you money when you replace them but the time you spent looking for them is precious time you can't get back.  I read we all waste something like 40 minutes a day looking for stuff.  I believe it.  Sometimes it is just easier to go buy a new one than to look and find the one you're looking for, right?  This mindset costs us money, real money.   So it is time to get rid of this money drainer. 

I've been slowly working on trying to organize our house.  With three little boys in the house (and one big one), that hasn't been easy but so far I have managed to organize and group a few areas that I think were costing us money.  Here's one:

Household Supplies


Our entry closet has been under utilized since the day we moved into this house (11 years ago!).  Look at that hot mess!  Every time I opened that door, something fell on top of me.  This is nothing but a waste of space and a place where we were losing money.  You might be asking how this dirty closet was costing us money.   This closet was supposed to be holding our supply of paper products and cleaning supplies but you can't see them behind all the clutter....and because you can't see it, we went out and bought more.  More than we need.  We bought two huge packs of toilet paper in the last two weeks because we thought we were out.


Seriously?  Look at this closet!  That floor mop is suspended in the air and defying the law of gravity.  Like that isn't waiting to fall and get broken and then I would have to buy a new one that would cost me more money.  


And that poor shelf up above has so much potential but is being under utilized by disorganization.  


I cleaned out this under utilized closet and got to work.  Usually this means a trip to target to get some new and pretty organizational crates, baskets, plastic containers ($$$), etc BUTTTT, remembering my neighbor's recent post on her blog challenging us to living simply, I reorganized organized this closet for ZERO DOLLARS!  ZERO DOLLARS people, come on, I should get a high five for doing that!


I grabbed a shelf from the basement that wasn't being used.  My husband wanted to put this ugly beast in our tiny office off of our bedroom.......gasp......the horror..... so I needed to come up with a purpose for this shelf stat.


So here it is, being put to use.  Isn't this closet all nice and pretty now?  Now I know just how many rolls of toilet paper and paper towel we have, the answer is too many.  Oh, anyone need a lint roller?  We have more rolls than we will ever use!


Look at all those Swiffers!  My kids love to push those around It is nice to know how many boxes we have (enough to last us till the kids move out of the house).  I mean seriously, they don't love to push them around that much and I'm smart enough to realize their love for cleaning will wear off before the Swiffers run out)!   Oh, I even found a battery operated push broom new in the box inside this closet, I didn't know we had that! I had just added that to my "to buy" list the day before.  Score! 


Then this morning, I found myself searching Amazon.com for pretty over the door organizers and had a light bulb moment when I thought, I bet we have one of these in the basement and I can put all of our hats and mittens in it!  Sure enough, I found one in the basement (a couple actually) and got to work. The one on amazon was really pretty but this one was free and it is going inside a closet, no one is going to see it....oh, and did I mention our increasing day care bill? 


I gathered all of our winter hats, gloves, and scarves (you know, the ones we can never find so we go buy more of them) and now they are all nicely sorted and stored in one location.  No more need to buy hats!

I challenge you to find the areas in your house that are costing you money because of clutter and take some action this week to organize, sort, and get rid of stuff you no longer need/use.

Let me know what you find!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Knee Deep


It ain't no joke.  During this maternity leave I am knee deep in poop.  I'm changing dirty diapers on some kid left and right.  I can't keep up.  What are they eating?  I swear someone with an axe to grind with me gave my kids a laxative when I wasn't looking and now that person is peaking in my windows and laughing at their handy work.

It's ironic because after delivery most women can't go.  Those of you with kids know exactly what I'm talking about.  For the next week after delivery all you want to do is go to the bathroom but you can't.  Yeah, that's right people with no kids: you can't poop.  It's your body's last "ha ha" of pregnancy.  Not being able to go #2 doesn't sound THAT BAD....maybe even quite possibly a way to free up some spare time (but then when would anyone get any reading done).  But not being able to poop is no joke, people!  No joke.  Man, I was only a push away from calling it quits and driving myself to the ER this third time around.  Luckily my body took pity on me and starting functioning again. 

The ironic part is, while you're sweating it in the bathroom, your wee little precious newborn is pooping for the whole gull darn neighborhood.    My precious little Thomas was pooping up to twelve times a day that first week, while I cried and swore like a sailor every time I went to the bathroom. Alright, I am WAYYYY over sharing, but it is all in the name of humor.  What else would I talk about here, crafts?


What does all this talk about poop have to do with my card?  Well, during this last diaper change.... times two poop-filled {lovely} children.... I was thinking I could really use some alcohol.  Alcohold sure would make the day go quicker and would make these poopy diapers a bit easier to tolerate....butttt..... the kids are about to take their naps and I really want to stamp, I don't have time to drink...oh.... I got a great card idea and it fits the bill perfectly for this week's Make It Monday ChallengeSEE, I wouldn't talk about poop for no reason people!  I clearly had a point to this story. 


I got out the shakers + sprinkles dies again this week and thought I would make some bubbles to go along with my new Uncorked set.  Yeah?  You see them?  I know, I know, wine doesn't have bubbles, champagne does.....don't get hung up on the details, please?  I think this is a swell card, despite the technicality and any of your friends that are knee deep with their own problems will think so too!

Cheers!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year With Sprinkles


The kids are currently napping which in and of itself is a small miracle so that gives  me a few minutes to show you what I did with the MakeIt Market Kit: Shakers + Sprinkles.  When I saw this set come out I just HAD to have it (yes, at the expense of my oldest going to college someday as my husband would so lovingly say to me)!  It looks like a lot of the rest of you wanted this set too as I waited a good month for this baby to come in the mail.  Once it arrived, it sat.  And sat.  And sat. Oh, and it collected some dust, well a lot of dust.  Leave me alone, my house is messy, I just had a baby 7 years ago, and 22 months ago and 7 weeks ago.  I have no time for cleaning, I'm busy stamping and blogging....oh and ignoring a kid here and there.  

In December, I finally took this bad boy out of the packaging and started to play with it.  I apologize to those of you that wanted it and never got it and then I got it and just let it sit without being used.  What a waste.  I'm a shame to the acrylic stamping world and I will hang my head in embarrassment when in public.  Hopefully my husband will still stand strong by my side (I asked, he said "no, not even I can look past this disgrace"...actually he just said, "what" and I replied, "never mind".  My made up version is funnier anyway).  Oh well, who needs a supportive husband when you have SPRINKLES!

Ok enough already.  Back to the real business at hand.  The whole concept behind this set is that you can create shaker cards easy peasy with the included dies.  While these cards are not "quick" because you need to run a few pieces through your die cut machine, with the help of the dies, they come together easier than trying to free form this as so many of us were doing before this set arrived.  I love my first card but I put nowhere near enough sprinkles inside of it and the static electricity of this dry winter house caused my sprinkles to not move freely (and does a number on my skin but nobody wants to see that).  Anyone else have that issue?  Any suggestions?  I did see someone mention using a paint brush with some baby powder on the exposed sides of the foam adhesive once you have the shaker put together to help the sprinkles not stick to any exposed adhesive.  I thought that was a great idea.  Will that also cut down on the static electricity?  Maybe I'll try it and let you know. Please comment if you have a solution to either of my problems:  static electricity and dry winter skin!


This next card uses the same set but is a snap to put together (I tell you this in case you have a baby crying and you just NEED to get a birthday card done before he eats, social services would be understanding).  Even though it comes together super fast, it is still super cute and I bet would put a smile on anyone receiving this in the mail! 


Here is the last card I wanted to show to you today.  I was going for that poster print "Keep Calm" look that is everywhere right now.  There is no avoiding it.  Keep calm and walk your dog.  Keep calm and have some ice cream.  Keep calm and blow your nose.  Seriously, there is a poster for everything and everyone.  Just pinterest it if you don't believe me.  Is that a THING or did I just make up the next hottest saying?  Just so you know, I was also the first to say, "google it".  I really should take out a TM like Donald Trump did or tried to do with, "You're fired".  Seriously, that's a thing, google it.  :) 

I hope I provided you some inspiration to break out your stamps and create something and maybe (just maybe) made you chuckle along the way!

See you soon! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 2014 PTI Blog Hop: Silver and Gold


Updated to add a daylight pictures!  Much better!

 

This month's Papertrey Ink Blog Hop challenge is to create a card using both silver and gold elements on it.  I knew exactly what I wanted to create and quickly whipped up this card using some silver and gold embossing powder. 



Sorry for the terrible pictures, I'll try to re-take them tomorrow using some natural light!  I had this card done a few days again but the holidays happened and here I am just minutes from the blog hop closing trying to quickly get this posted!  Ugh, I bet I'm the last entry!  :)




After embossing Mr. & Mrs., I added gold card stock to make it all come together!  I hope you enjoyed this month's challenge as much as I did!

See you next time!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas and happy holidays from our family to yours.  Just a quick post today to show you our Christmas card for 2014.  I don't know about you but I love getting everyone's Christmas cards in the mail especially those that are handmade or have family photos on them.  They are all so lovely.  I love watching everyone's family grow from year to year.  I keep the good ones in my Christmas card box to look at each year.


I also love making our Christmas card, it's something that I look forward to every year.  And while it can take some time to create, it's something that's important to me.  With a newborn at home I knew this year's card needed to be quick, easy, and simple.


Thanks to my friend Jesse's mad photography skills, that was easy to achieve with this card.  I knew I wanted this photo of my three boys to be the star of the show.


I printed the photo out in black-and-white, cut it to size, and added a simple stamped greeting on the bottom.  Despite it being quick and simple, it is still beautiful, right?  Of course it is with those three boys on it! I wanted to show you that during this busy holiday season, if you keep it simple, you can get handmade cards out to all your loved ones with just a bit of planning and a couple spare hours.


I fit this in while the kids were napping over the course of a few days (I used to sit down and make them all in one day,but I don't have that much free time in one day any more).  I addressed some and postal stamped all envelopes while the kids were napping in the minivan, which I love (BOTH the minivan and the kids actually napping!).


The interior of the card was kept simple too.  I typed up a couple quick sentences about each of us and what this past year has brought to us and glued it to the inside.

The most time-consuming part of this card was writing all five of our names on the bottom before
sending them out to all our family and friends.


Well I'm sure this is my last post for the year so have yourself a happy holiday and see you in the new year.

Peace!