Monday, October 29, 2012

Fifth Holiday Card

Ever since having a child, I have found it a MUST to have a picture of my cute little guy on every holiday card I send out.  Let's face it, nobody cares about the hubby or myself, they want to see our son.  I can't blame them really, he is the cutest kid ever (I know, that title is claimed by every mother out there!).

I love this photo card that Nicole Heady did a few months back and it provided me with my inspiration:

I feel in love with this card the moment I saw it.  It is so simple, classic, and pretty.  My card has similar elements to it, a nice peak-a-boo cover and simple colors but I finished my very different.

Mine is a three part card.  The first layer is the vellum paper as you see pictured above.  It offers a good first glance and the little treasure hiding underneath. 

The next layer is the photo layer, backed by a nice piece of cardstock to give it some heft, see isn't he just the cutest?  This is him with the big guy when he was 9 months old (I think, time really has a way of sneaking past you, he is four now):  

The third and final layer has the sentiment stamped on it:

I love this card and I bet if you made a similar card with your cute kids incorporated into it, that your friends and family will cherish the card well after the holidays have past!  

I hope you all have enjoyed these five holiday cards and seeing where I got some of my inspiration and ideas from.  I've enjoyed sharing them with you all!  I'm wrapping up my "no spend" challenge this week and have a need to dust off the sewing machine and make a couple holiday gifts because before you know it.....they will be here!  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 4 of Holiday Cards

Here is a look at my fourth holiday card where I am showing you how I came up with the designs.  Sorry for the delay.  This post should have been out last night but this momma was exhausted.  We took our four year son to the zoo last night for trick-or-treating.

There was this family of three there who's kid whined the whole time.  We kept seeing them in every building we went too.  We just couldn't shake them.  At one point the kid was crying belligerently about wanting popcorn.  Get your darn kid some food, man were they annoying.  That family was US!  We took our four year old hungry....trick-or-treating......for candy!  Man, was that dumb.  Clearly neither of us thought that night through very well.  So when we got home from what was supposed to be a fun night out, we were all tired, cold, and crabby (except the kiddo, of course he was fine once he had food in his belly).

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post.  My fourth card design in a series of five.  These are all holiday cards and I'm showing you where I got the original inspiration from so you can see how sometimes I only pick certain elements of a card,sometimes I pick up the whole theme, and sometimes a I just make it up all together.

Today's card came from this design by Maile Belles:

I loved the corners of this card and wanted to do something similar.  I turned her card design into this:

One element on the cards is this same but the finished cards look very different.  I love the scrolls in the corner, they add so much detail.  The light green is achieved by "stamping off" first.  That means you ink your stamp, stamp it on a scrap piece of paper and then stamp on the finished paper without re-inking the stamp.  Super easy technique and it always gives great results.

I die cut and stamped a pretty red poinsettia in the middle and added a little gold bling.  Done! 

That wraps up day number 4!  I'll be back tonight with my final project which incorporates a photo into the card.  Until then, we are attempting more trick-or-treating today.  We'll be sure to eat before we go!  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

No Spend Week 3

This week has proven to be the toughest.  I have had weak moments where I really just want to say, "screw it", but I haven't.  I'm sticking with it.  I'm sure addicts have similar feelings when they try to quit smoking, just on a much more intense level or like when you try to go on a diet:  the first week is easy because motivation is high but as the weeks go on, it gets tougher and tougher to resist eating those hot fudge sundaes.  

While I feel I have been struggling, my husband has struggled even more, except he is stubborn and won't admit it.  He bought vacuum bags (even though I had already bought some) because,  "they were a good deal", a stand for his tablet because, "it was only $25", and a modem because, "it was a good deal".  Do you see a theme here?  We are in the middle of a no spend challenge, EVERYTHING is a bad deal!  I really want to buy some new fabric and come home and say, "but it was a good deal", but I'm a bigger person than that (I'll just whine about it on my blog).  :)

As hard as I try, I just can't control him.  One day they'll make a robotic husband that will listen to my every command, until then, I'll try to work around with him.

I did splurge this week and went out to dinner with friends.  I had a goal to only spend $10 while out and I didn't get even close to keeping that goal.  With tip, I spent $17.  I told myself I won't order a drink: I got tea.  I told myself I wouldn't get an appetizer: I got soup.  I did however buy the cheapest entrĂ©e listed on the menu, a fancy grilled cheese sandwich.  I would have been better off getting the expensive scallops dinner and skipping the drink and soup.  I certainly would have left more satisfied.  Lesson learned and notes made for next time.

There were some positives this week.  I made a great breakfast that really can stretch a buck and it was delicious too.

Cheddar Popovers

Makes 12 popovers

3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
diced scallions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a standard size 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. 

Mix eggs, flour, milk, salt, and garlic powder in a bowl with a hand mixer (or whisk should work).  Pour batter in to muffin tin filling each cup 2/3 full.  Top each cup with cheddar cheese and scallions (skip the scallions for the picky eaters).  Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are risen and firm and golden brown.  

Remove popovers from tin and cool on wire rack.  Brown up some yummy hash browns to eat along the side, these potatoes came courtesy of my dad's garden.

In total, we spent $141 this week.  Our worst week yet.  Here is the breakdown:

Gas:                      $49
groceries:               $18
vacuum bags:         $13
Ericka dinner out:   $17
Modem/tablet:        $44 

I'm excited about this final FULL week.  My husband reminded me that we need to go into a 5th week for a few days too {AUGH} since this month has 31 days.  We should have done this in February.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Holiday Cards Day Three

This one is going to be short and sweet.  This is a really simple card that takes little time to make but has big time results.  It is so easy to make this card over and over again.  I love the simplicity of this card.  

My inspiration came from Ashley Newhall's blog and this cute little card that she made:

Lots of similarities, right?  Even the color schemes are the same but yet different.  I love her card but I really love mine too.  Her card is soft and sophisticated.  Mine is bold and simple.

I can't wait to show you what I have lined up for tomorrow!  See you then.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Holiday Christmas Card and October Blog Hop

You can read all about Papertrey Ink's October Blog Hop here on Nicole Heady's blog.  This month's focus was on color.  To be more specific, non-traditional colors.  I love this combo she pictured on her site:
Doesn't this scream vintage to you?  We all know vintage is in right now.  She has six different color combinations listed on her website but this one spoke to me.  It has a nice warm fuzzy feeling to it, which is exactly what we all want to be feeling during the holidays.

In addition to this color combo, this card I found on Melissa's Paperie blog, gave me inspiration to create my second card in my five day series.  Look how cute her card is (notice those chevron stripes again):

  Here's how I combined the two cards into my own design:

I used several different Papertrey Ink stamp sets and dies.  I die cut a tree from blue cardstock and used the negative portion on this card along with another Christmas tree that I die cut out and stamped with green ink.  I added those those cute little red birds and framed them all behind a fabulous frames die cut from Papertrey Ink.  I love this card and I love the color combination.  I hope you agree!  See you tomorrow night!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Holiday Chevron Card

I often get asked how I come up with my card designs.  Do I make them up on my own?  Do I copy other people's designs?  Do I get inspiration online?  Really the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE!  I'm a huge blog reader.  I regularly read (subscribe to) over 90 blogs each day.  They range in topics from food, money, parenting, and of course crafts.  They are all over the place and I usually get a lot of my card inspiration from my favorites like:  Dawn McVey's, My Favorite Things; Nicole Heady's, Capture the Moment; Ashley Cannon Newell's, A New Design.

Some of my inspiration comes from pinterest.  I LOVE pinterest.  I am on this site daily pinning something and anything (varies just like my blog subscriptions).  Of course some of my designs come straight out of my head.  Not everything is a success, in fact, most of it doesn't turn out at all like I thought it would.

I thought I would spend the next five nights showing you a new card each night and showing you where I got my inspiration from.  This will help you see the original idea and what I turned it into.  Some of my finished designs are really close to the original while others are not.

I thought I would start with this chevron card I came up with.  Chevrons are all the rage.  Everyone is working with chevrons right now.  I love them.  They are super versatile.  The work well for both males and females.

Here's my little beauty:

 Here is the original project done by Danielle Flanders:

You can definitely see the similarities but yet they are really different.  I loved the colors she used on the card and I love the cute little pin accent.

Since my card will be made in large quantities (making for the holidays), the pin wasn't practical for expense reasons but I made my own bling by adding sparkly glitter to the end of my snowflakes and a jewel in the very center. I also used solid red cardstock but stamped tiny snowflake images on it in red to give it a little more dimension and character. 

I bought the digital paper on etsy.  I love buying paper on etsy and wished I started doing this years ago.  You only print-what-you-need, and with a small craft space like mine, it is so helpful!  This paper comes from Kylie Healey Designs and was only $3!  What a steal!

While I like my finished card, I still like the original by Danielle better but I'm always my toughest critic. Stay tuned for a new card tomorrow!  It will be a fun play on colors. 


Sunday, October 14, 2012

"No Spend" Week Two

Day 9-  I went grocery shopping and spent $13 on basics:  milk, cheese, onions, spinach, cream, garlic bread (yeah I know, the bread is probably not a basic).  I tried real hard to keep it at $10.  That garlic bread put us over the $10 mark but it will also be used for 3 separate meals so I'm not feeling too bad about buying it.  I find myself studying prices more than ever (which is half the point of this challenge, I think).  For example, I only needed 8 oz of mozzarella cheese for the meal I was making.  The store had three options:

8 oz brick on sale for $2
8 oz shredded on sale for $3
16 oz brick on sale for $3

I would normally buy the shredded cheese for the convenience but for only $1 more, I was able to buy enough for a whole second meal and at the rate my family goes through cheese, I have no concerns about it being put to good use.

Day 10-  We were doing great this week until today.  My hubby went to see Louis CK and bought a round a drinks.  The ticket was $45 and the round of drinks (for two) was $9.  Man, this hurt.  I really think he should have declined the invite but I think I would have also accepted the offer to go especially if it was someone like Tom Petty or Keb' Mo'.  This show cost us 18% of our allotted budget!  At least he had a good time.

Day 11-  We found out we're having a boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was hard not to go out for ice cream to celebrate but we went home and I made chocolate chip cookies instead.  It was still special.  :)

Week Two is at a close and we spent another $100 of our $250 budget.  NOT GOOD.  Not good at all.  Here is the breakdown:

$19 Groceries (basics like bread, cheese, and milk)
$27 Gas
$54 Tickets and drinks at Louis CK Show

Take out the show and drinks and we'd be doing pretty good!  I'd say that's not too bad but with only  $52 left in our pockets and two weeks to go, I'm pretty sure we will be going over our $250 budget but we're still sticking with it to see just how close we can be.   

Sunday, October 7, 2012

No Spend Week 1

 Hi everyone!  We're finishing up our first week of our "No Spend" Challenge and we're still alive.  It wasn't exactly easy but it hasn't been life altering yet either.

Day 1:  I spend $45 on gas.  YIKES!  That's a lot of our budget spent on the very first day of this challenge and concerns me on how the rest of this month is going to pan out for us.  It really is a huge bummer that I had to spend this kind of money on the 1st day but I really didn't have a choice.  18% of our budget GONE.  On the 1st day!  This might be an uphill battle.

Day 3:  I had to buy a few last minute supplies for card class that I hosted this week.  This included spending $7 on vellum paper and craft bags at the craft store (I used a coupon to save $4) and $10 at Target on candy (it is a Halloween class which includes crafts with candy in them).  While at Target, I spotted a sweatshirt that is perfect for my son's Halloween costume (more to come on that later) and was on sale for $7, that should be all I need to spend on his costume this year, everything else will be from home.  

Day 5: I forgot my lunch at home but took my co-workers advice and bought lunch real cheap at the grocery store using items I had to buy for the weekend anyway (we had company over).  I bought one roll from the bakery for 75 cents, one piece of cheese from the deli for 29 cents, and got a pound of deli ham on sale (doubled as part of a weekend meal) , and a large bag of pretzels (also a double for a weekend meal) on sale for a $1.50.  It was a cheap and satisfying meal at well under $3.

We've had some good CHEAP meals for dinner this week as well.  I made a great twist on sloppy Joes this week.  We call them sloppy J's in this house after my son, Johnathan.  Here is the recipe if you are interested:

Stuffed Sloppy J's
makes 8 sandwiches

1 lb of your favorite Sloppy Joe mix (here is mine from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
2 tubes of crescent rolls
A dozen Dill pickles, sliced  (if your pregnant make it two dozen)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Flour your work surface and if your child is anything like mine work fast before they fill up on flour.

Pinch two triangles together to make 8 rectangles.  

Put meat on one half of each roll, dividing evenly between the rolls.

Top with shredded cheese.

Finish with the sliced pickles.

Wrap it all up and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with chips and a veggie of your choice.

This is a great meal that doesn't cost a whole lot to put together and can really help you stretch a tight budget. 

We've spent a total of $98 (39% of our budget!) in our 1st week of our "No Spend" Challenge, here is the breakdown:

$45  Gas
$17  Card Class Supplies
$7    Clothing
$5    Eating out
$24  Groceries

Let's hope we worked out the "bugs" during this 1st week and we fare better during on next 3 weeks because at this rate we are definitely going to fail this challenge.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"NO SPEND" Challenge

Call me crazy but the hubby and I are attempting a "NO SPEND" month for the entire month of October. By "NO SPEND" I really mean "almost no spend". The idea came from a
pinterest link I saw on a friend's account. Rachel Meeks from the Small Notebook blog  explains how this has become an annual tradition in their house. She says they budget $400 a month (currently, when she started it was only $250) to spend on themselves like food, gas, clothes, household items, and fun. Excluded items are: rent and bills, insurance, health care, business expenses, and gifts for others. In other words there is NO UNNECESSARY SPENDING.

At first glance this seemed easy to me so I showed it to my husband and asked, "Do you think we could possible do this?". Without hesitation, Mr. Cheap pants replied, "I can". Of course I knew that was going to be his answer before I even asked him. We agreed to try this with a $250 budget for this month. We decided on $250 because that was what Rachel's budgeted when she first started this challenge in 2007.

I'm expecting to see this face a few time this month
 Looking at our budget, this will be no easy task. We tracked every single penny we spent during the month of August and here are some examples of what we spent in different categories:

August 2012 Spending

Gas:  $148
Groceries: $260 (lower than normal)
Eating out: $235 (higher than normal)
Crafts: $102

Not spending money on eating out is going to be the toughest (for all three of us), me especially. I HATE packing a lunch. HATE IT. It takes so much work and planning, both of which I don’t want to deal with in an already stressed morning routine and I never feel like getting my lunch packed the night before, I just want to sit and relax at the end of the day. “But this was your idea”, said smart cheap husband. Yes. Yes it was. I’ll find a way.

Yeah, might see this one too!
So here are the top three reasons we are going to attempt this “NO SPEND” month:

1.Christmas is less than 3 months away and we always need money around Christmas time. I thought if we limited our spending in the month of October, our holiday spending in November might be a bit easier on the budget.

2. I like a good challenge. I am extremely competitive and I don’t like to lose at anything. Hopefully this challenge will help me use my competitive nature for good rather than for evil {insert evil laugh here}. Hubby rolls eyes and says, “Yeah right”.

3. We’re expecting baby #2. YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! When our newest bundle of joy arrives in February 2013, they will be putting a squeeze on our already squeezed budget. Day care alone for this new little worm will come with a cost of $310 a week. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not burying $1200 in the backyard every month just because I got nothing else to do with it.

Johnathan practicing being a big brother
I’ll be blogging weekly about our progress and how we’re doing towards our “NO SPEND” goal.  It will be hard, and it is going to require sacrifice. I’m hoping it will free up some time to work on those new year’s resolutions that I made but have not gotten around to. As the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. We’ll see if that really holds true for this family of three (soon to be four).