Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unfashionable Fashions

During  the winter I do anything to keep my heating bills down.  We normally keep the thermostat between 67 and 68.  I do this purely to save money.  I hate winter.  I don't think it should be allowed to be a season.  I am cold all the time normally, so winter just exacerbates my poor circulation.  

Today I was cold, as usual, and went searching in the closet for another layer and found my beloved poncho.  I bought it years ago when it was fashionable for a nanosecond, but have never been able to part with it.  I LOVE it.  I know it does about as much for my figure as a mumu, but I don't care.  It is so comfy and it is made out of a beautiful marbled purple yarn.  I thought this love had faded over time, but trying it on again today, it rekindled that old flame.  Not only is my poncho warm like a blanket, it is also amazing for nursing too!  It's a Snuggie, a Hooter Hider, and a sweater all in one.  How amazing.      

Fashion Faux Paux's be damned, this is true love and the poncho is here to stay. 

(At least in the privacy of my own home).

Monday, November 29, 2010


This past year we have been so incredibly blessed.  I have never been happier and I am utterly dumb founded by what God has given us. 

A year ago I was pregnant and headed toward a very complicated pregnancy.

Despite being born three weeks early, my lil lovey came out perfectly.

We have been able to create a wonderful family unit. 

Filled with adventures

and extreme happiness.

This has been a truly blessed year and I am immensely thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Funky Funk Funk

Not my favorite genre. The mood I'm in.  Tomorrow we jet off to visit our families and celebrate Thanksgiving.  While I am incredibly thankful for the year that we have been blessed with, I am allowing myself this evening to feel pure melancholy.  Tomorrow will be the last day that my lil' lovey, Pippin will be with us.  He just hasn't adjusted very well to Little E & is somewhat stressed out by her presence.  I came to the heart breaking conclusion that he would be better suited living my with parents.  Tomorrow we begin our journey home.  I love my lil Pippi Kangaroo and feel in a way that I'm experiencing the end of an era.  I got Pippin shortly after J.C. & I began dating, and a few weeks in to my student teaching.  So much has changed in that time and I'm just sorry that poor lil' Pip couldn't adjust.  I sure do love him, and my heart sure is breaking.

Tomorrow I'll return to my usual cheerful, thankful self, but for tonight, I'm going to allow myself to be sad.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Stock Up!

Behold a year's worth of vegetables!  It's that time of year again when canned veggies are on sale for amazing prices.   Last year, I regretfully missed my opportunity to stock up; however, this year, we took advantage.  These 96 cans of veggies came from Target.  After coupons, we paid $0.42 a can, which is cheaper than Aldi prices.

We also stopped by Toys R Us, as they had Gerber baby food on sale 10 for $10, and we need some for holiday travel.  The sale also included organic baby food, so I was thrilled.  After coupons, we paid $0.75/ two pack.  That's cheaper than Target has non organic Gerber baby food.  Woo Hoo!

We also got Little E's first baby doll, made by Under the Nile.  I love their products & they're eco-friendly and made out of organic cotton, so I'm excited for E to have this as her baby!  The best part is it was on clearance for $7.98!  Can't beat that! I love exclamation points!!  haha

After Toys R Us, we stopped by Kohl's to spend our $10 off Kohl's coupon (they just randomly started sending us these in the mail) and got this book of Christmas stories for Emerson.  This is a pretty great lil' treasury and is chock full of 320 pages of Christmas goodness, as well as a 20 track CD of Christmas Carols. (We read a Christmas Carol tonight to Emerson, and it is surprisingly good for a watered down version.  I taught CC last year, so I was pleased to start E early!)   HOWEVER, the best part was what we paid...NOTHING!  The book was marked $12.99, and when we went to check out there was a surprise 20% discount.  After our coupon, we didn't even have to pay tax.  Gotta love that!
I also used my Eversave voucher that I bought last week to by this lil lovely for E.  They're made from BPA free recycled milk jugs in California!  After using the voucher I bought at Eversave for $5, and the 20% off discount code; I only paid $2.20 for this whole set to be shipped & gift wrapped, and it retails for $39! 

All and all it was a great day for deals.  I couldn't be more pleased with our purchases!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Draft Dodger

In an effort to prepare for winter I made a draft dodger.  It was quite easy, and if I were a better seamstress, I'm sure it would be extremely easy.

I took fabric that I used as curtain in college.  It was bleached by the sun, so I figured it would be perfect for the job.


1.  Measure door frame.
2.  Cut fabric to proper length and width. 

3.  Turn fabric inside out (like sewing a pillow), fold in half, and pin the perimeter. 4.  Sew around the perimeter leaving an opening to fill.  I had planned on leaving one of the ends open, but due to being such an awful seamstress I accidentally made a hole on the long seam.  I DO NOT recommend this as it is a total pain to fill. 

5.  Turn fabric right side out and fill with your select materials.  I have heard of multiple things being used here:  sand, rice, beans, pillow fill.  I kind of had a hard time wasting food for this, but I found a pound of lentils that I have had for around 4 years.  Gross.  I did have to use some rice, but we're trying to move away from white rice anyway, so I didn't mind using it.  

6.  Once your dodger is filled, close the hole.

Finished product!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Baby Food: You Can Do It!

I have been making E's baby food for the past 3 months and I truly enjoy it.  I had planned on making Emerson's baby food before she began solids, but after reading that high levels of lead were found in commercial baby foods, I had no doubts about it.  I find peace of mind in controlling what she eats, making sure she has quality nutrition, and I find making baby food incredibly easy.  I use this site as a reference.  They do a really good job of breaking down safe first foods and the site also includes recipes.

Here is a tutorial of how to make zucchini baby food.

Slice zucchini.  Babies under 9 months are unable to digest the peel, so it may be necessary to peel your vegetables.
Steam until extremely tender...this is one time when over cooking your veggies is ok. Retain cooking liquids as they have minerals and will be needed to puree your veggies.  (My camera died, so forgive that there is no picture of the next step).  Add your veggies to your food processor, blender, or food mill and puree to a consistency that is appropriate for your baby.

Pour puree in to ice cube trays.  Traditional ice cubes are approximately an ounce, so they are an easy guide to aid measurement later.  Here I have a regular tray and a sort of pellet tray.  I like having both as they offer two different sizes.  For a while E would eat one regular sized cube and one pellet.

Cover (a good time to reuse those bread bags) and freeze.


When frozen, pop the cubes out the tray and store in a freezer ziploc.  When needed, simply take out the proper amount of cubes, microwave 20-30 seconds, add cereal if desired and voila!  

Also, as a side note, if you do not have children who eat baby food, you could use this method in preparing purees ala Deceptively Delicious


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Use It Up, Wear It Out...


 Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Do Without.  Have you heard this World War II adage?  I adore this saying.  I love that at one time it was one's patriotic duty to use creativity in making things last. In such a throw away society it is often a challenge to even think up ways to give items a second life.  

Let me introduce you to my first born, Pippin.  Isn't he just precious?  When I first got Pip as a young puppy he was an extremely zealous chewer.  He loved to chew up anything and everything.

Meet Pippin's handiwork.  Except times this by about fifteen.  My lovely lil Pippi Kangaroo got so excited in his youth that he made our blanket look like it was shot with an AK-47.  This was quite disappointing as this blanket is a warm snugly fleece and is perfect for fall weather.  This poor shredded blanket has been sitting in my closet for the past 3 years.  I decided that this was unacceptable and keeping in the spirit of "use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without"...I decided to make it do.  Like Dr. Frankenstein creating his monster, I quite gruesomely, yet lovingly sewed up every single hole in my blanket (while watching trashy reality tv on Hulu).


It's certainly not gorgeous, but it will work very well under our comforter and will provide warmth, and that is all I really care about.  

Welcome back blanket, we've missed you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Making The Most of Your Time

I was on the phone with a friend this weekend and shared that one of the things I love most about being a stay at home mom is it allows me the time to create the type of life I'd like our family to have.  And boy, does it take time.  Air drying clothes, clipping coupons, cloth diapering, making baby food from scratch all take longer than the more convenient, more expensive, and more wasteful methods.  But I LOVE it.  LOVE.  The trick is finding ways to fit everything in, in a day.  Here are a few things that I've found helpful in the past few days.

Idle Hands:  When watching tv or a movie, have something to keep your hands busy.  Whether you are clipping coupons, folding laundry, mending, knitting or something of the like, use time when watching tv to multitask.  It is certainly enjoyable to sit and do nothing, but I find I just sort of go in to a mush mode and hours pass.  If I'm trying to get something done in the mean time I don't feel so guilty about sitting and watching a movie.

Speaker Phone:  Make friends with the speaker feature on your phone.  Today I was on the phone with my sister, sitting on the floor playing with Emerson, and stuffing cloth diapers.  None of this would have been possible if I didn't have speaker phone.  It is a true gift from baby Jesus.

Tie One On:  If you have a small child at home, consider "wearing" your child while doing things around the house.  E adores being in her wrap because we can snuggle and I have two free hands to pick up, hang clothes, etc.  It is also a fabulous way to incorporate a bit of added exercise in your day.  I can only speak from my experience, but wearing a 20 lb child certainly makes loading the dishwasher a bit more strenuous.

Learn Something New:  Challenge yourself to do something that you would not normally do like picking up a useful hobby.  I enjoyed learning to knit, after the initial cussing and yelling phase was finished, and use my hobby to make things for my family and occasional gifts.  I've also busted out the sewing machine lately to make a few handy things around the house.  Learning to knit, and rediscovering how to sew has been a fun challenge.  Both are useful and enjoyable.  If only I could convince my husband to let me change our oil...


Read, Read, Read:  Use down time (car rides, nap time, tv time, breastfeeding, etc.) to read about something that will enrich your life.  Whether you read a book about gardening, peruse a cook book, read about your new found hobby, or my favorites, personal finance, and environmentalism, try to continually keep yourself enriched in texts that present new ideas.  I find that the more I read about environmentalism the more I re-evaluate my actions.  Likewise, with finances.  Whatever you are in to, the more you read about it, the better you will get at your daily efforts.  Also, never underestimate the usefulness of audio books! 

Priorities, Priorities:  Ultimately, decide what is most important to you.  Don't worry about what others think, figure out what you care about.  For instance, I would much rather play with Emerson, read her books, etc. than make sure all of the laundry is put away at the end of the day.  I am not a great housekeeper, maybe even an awful housekeeper, but that's ok.  My husband's knew who he was marrying, and as long as he doesn't care that our house isn't spotless, and as long as E is happy, we're good to go.  Also I don't worry about going out and getting whatever latest and greatest coupon deal.  I only grocery shop once a month.  That means I have a LOT of coupons that get wasted.  That also means that I spend more time with my family.  That is what matters to me.  Not frugal standbys like coupon clipping or playing the drugstore game.  Figure out what works for you and makes you healthy and happy.  Leave the rest.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Moment of Honesty

I use cloth diapers.  I also use disposable diapers.  Not a lot, on average, one a day, but I still use them.  I had grand intentions when I was pregnant to never use disposables, but then E was born 3 weeks early and didn't fit in to our cloth diapers, so we used disposables.  And then when we started using cloth, I tried to use them at night, and no matter what insert/doubler we used the diaper lasted about 3 hours before E was soaked.  So we started using disposables at night.  We also used disposables when we went grocery shopping or visited with friends, in order to save having to change Little E's diaper while we were out...and when I had to return to work after maternity leave and my husband stayed home with Emerson....and when traveling for a month at a time seeing family.

I say all of this to let you know that I too have to rely on disposable diapers.  Though I have written of my love of cloth diapers and cloth wipes and all that is green, I have come to accept that disposable diapers are sometimes a necessary evil in life.  When it comes to environmentalism I try to do all that I can, where I can, WITHIN the parameters of my budget.  This is a big key for me.  I would love, love, love to use only chlorine free, non bleached diapers.  Unfortunately, that is not a fiscal possibility for me.  Instead, I have cut down out how frequently we use disposable diapers.  We no longer use them when going grocery shopping.  We just bring along another cloth diaper, a just-in-case-we-have-a-leak-outfit, and hope for the best.  Now I bring our cloth diapers on our trips to see my family in Texas and in Indiana, as they don't mind if I wash E's dirty diapers during our stay.  For our month long trip in December to India, Missouri, Iowa, and Indiana, the only part where it will be feasible for me to use cloth is while we're in Indiana; however, I am toting all of my gear along, so we don't use disposables for that week. 

I often think that when it comes to saving money, or saving the environment, people tend to believe they need to have an all or nothing approach.  And while I truly admire people who are able to commit 100% to their cause, I often find that even doing a little bit makes a difference.  For me, though I do use disposable diapers, I try to limit my use.  As a result, I am greatly reducing the amount of garbage my otherwise average American diaper changing family could produce and, consequently, we save a HUGE amount of money.  Yes, we are still creating waste, and yes, diapers are still costly, but I am making a difference for my family, our pocketbook, and our landfill. 

It is not totally green, or totally frugal, but it works for us, and it's the little saves that I'm going to focus on for now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Bookshelf

I truly enjoy reading and researching green living.  While there are many more technical books out there, I tend to stick to more light fare, as I often don't have long spans of time to sit and read.  Here are a few green living books that I particularly enjoy. 

Simply Green Parties by Danny Seo:  I picked this book up at a publisher's clearing house and I am so thankful I did.  Not only is it filled with great ideas for entertaining, it also has many fabulous ideas for home decor as well. It is beautifully designed and filled with pictures of his how to projects; I appreciate a visual to inspire new ideas. Danny Seo is the Martha Stewart of green living. 

1,001 Ways to Save the Earth by Joanna Yarrow:  This book is fabulous!  It is laid out with brief suggestions in bold, so it is perfect to skim through, or peruse when you do not have a lot of time to dedicate to reading. The ideas run the gamut from wiping dust off your light bulbs to using lavender and thyme to fight dandruff.  This is a great book no matter your level of interest in green living.  It has something for everyone.

Sara Snow's Fresh Living by Sarah Snow:  This is a great book if you have more time to devote to reading about green living.  Snow has a very encouraging voice and has a sort of do-what-you-can-where-you-can approach to environmentalism that I appreciate.  She also details her childhood growing up on a zero impact family compound that sounds like absolute utopia.  She breaks her book down in to very approachable chapters so you can choose where you would like to begin making changes, which is also helpful.

All of these books are great resources and have been helpful in my life. 

But you don't have to take my word for it... 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It Doesn't Hurt to Ask

When saving money in small amounts I often evaluate the process like this:  Would I be excited if I found X amount of money on the street?  Heck yes I would!! I get excited to pick up a penny off the street, so I am ALWAYS excited to find new ways to save money, or "find" money that I didn't originally have.  

In the past couple of months, one of the easiest ways I've been finding money is through asking for discounts, and so far, I have not been denied.  It is shocking!  20/20, Dateline, and other news shows are continuously doing shows where their reporter goes to the local mall and haggles prices.  95% of the time they receive their desired price, or at least a significant discount.  While I am unwilling to attempt this fine art, I am willing to ask for a discount occasionally.  Let me give you a few examples:

Meet the newest edition to our family.  You can get this gorgeous Thomas O'Brien down at your local Target.  We needed to get a rug for our dining room so we could transfer our existing rug to Emerson's room, which was greatly needed as she is becoming more mobile.  As we were headed to the check out at Target I noticed a small orange smudge on the cream trim of our rug.  It wasn't anything significant & resembled a Cheeto covered hand print (that I figured would come out easily), but I wanted to see if they would come off the price.  I asked the next Target employee I saw if I could get a discount, as it was the last rug, and sure enough, she gave us a 5% discount!  It wasn't huge, but it save us around $8. 

For Christmas, I wanted to get E one of these classic Fisher-Price chatter telephones.  Target had some, but when I went looking they only had one left and it looked like the box had been to Nam and back.  It was shredded.  The toy inside was in mint condition, but the box was not in presentable shape.  I asked if they had any more, they didn't; I asked for a discount & received 10% off.  In this instance, this worked because E will only be 10 months old when she opens her presents, but it could work if it was something that was just for your use.  Another time I went to buy diapers at Target and the only package left in the size I needed was opened.  All of the diapers were there, but Target didn't have any other packages.  When I asked for the discount they gave me 10% off.

I was in love with these little socks well before Emerson was born, so once she was born I was thrilled when I found them at Kohls.  They only had one box left and again, the box was in horrible shape, but the socks were all still there.  I asked the cashier if I could receive a discount and she happily gave me 15% off.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you become an unethical miser and harm your future purchases intentionally, but, if you do come across something that you are genuinely interested in buying that has some form of a defect, gather your courage, and ask for a discount.  In most cases the store will gladly give it to you.

Also, if you have a store coupon, but forgot it, don't be afraid to ask for that discount as well!  I was at Kohl's shopping Halloween clearance and forgot my 15% off coupon.  I asked the clerk if I could still get my discount and he gave it to me on top of the clearance prices.  

 Whether it is a missed coupon or a flaw in a product, consider asking for a discount.  There is absolutely no harm in asking, if they don't give you the discount, you can evaluate whether you would like to pay full price.  Go ahead, get brave, and ask!  In the end you'll probably come out money ahead!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fashionista Friday

Happy Friday to you!  This week I'll be showing you a few of my cheapy cheap fashions.  Pardon the horrid photos,we don't have a full length mirror and I will not be purchasing one as it makes me think ill of my thighs.  Please don't turn me in the What Not to Wear.  This is what works for me.  <3


Wrap:  TJ Maxx clearance for our honeymoon
Tank:  Old Navy clearance
Skirt:  Banana Republic Outlet (gift).  Side note--I adore these BoHo skirts.  They're HUGE, which probably doesn't speak highly of my fashion sense, but they are fabulously comfortable and are great while preggo, post preggo, or after Thanksgiving.  Love, love, love, the big BoHo hippy skirts.

Green Turquoise Silver Earrings--Gift from my husband when he was still my brand new boyfriend.  God love him, he knew the way to my heart even back then. 

Shoes:  Kenneth Cole--TJ Maxx clearance 4 years ago

Scarf:  Target approximately 5 years ago.  Another side note--scarves are AMAZING!  They fit with every size and shape, and make every outfit special.  I HIGHLY recommend adding some to your wardrobe if you feel like you're in a rut.  It's way cheaper than buying new clothes.

Shirt:  Anne Taylor (gift)
Jeans:  Mossimo hand-me-up from my sister
Prescription Glasses:  Zenni Optical $9.95

 Shoes:  Kenneth Cole--TJ Maxx clearance

 Sterling Silver Green Amber Ring:  TJ Maxx (gift)  Don't you just love the Calla Lily?

 Green Amber Sterling Silver Earrings:  Boma $9.95

Antique Locket--Gift from my handsome husband.  He had them engrave our initials.  Love him.  Just love him.

And a Doodle Bug picture.  Just wouldn't be the same without her. 

Old Navy Sunsuit:  Thrift store--A splurge at $3
Bow--Gift from Grandma

Also, Ashley at Domestic Fashionista featured my little lovey on HER Fashionista Friday.  So exciting.  You can click on the link HERE

Have a happy weekend!  Don't forget to fall back!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gorgeous Christmas Album

My sister, Rita, sent me the link to this Sufjian Stevens Christmas Album.  It is never to early to start getting in the Christmas spirit and this album in incredibly beautiful.  You can listen the album for free, all forty two songs!   If you don't have time, listen to Come Thou Font of Every Blessing.  It is  so beautiful it hurts my heart. It reminds me of my days in the Mennonite church.  Gorgeous.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ways to Save Energy & Money: Laundry Edition

Today, while I was doing laundry I thought of a proverbial laundry list (couldn't help myself) of things that I do that help save energy and money while doing the wash. 

Air Dry Laundry:  I adore hanging laundry.  I find it totally and completely relaxing.  Having a clothesline was one of my criteria when searching for a home.  I love my clothesline.  I could write an ode to it.  I pray when I hang clothes.  I snuggle E in her wrap, I sing songs to her,  we listen to our dog, Pippin, howl with our neighbor dog, Meatball.  It gets me outside, it helps me slow down, and it saves me money while saving the environment.  I could go on...

While you might not have room or materials for a clothesline you can still hang some, if not all of your clothes.  If you have a small yard consider a rotary clothesline.  It does not take up the yard space, but still offers many feet of clothesline.  If you live in an apartment make use of your balcony.  When I lived in an apartment I made a clothesline across my balcony from a 20 foot cable cord my dog had chewed up.  (This is probably not allowed in a lot of complexes). You could also make an indoor clothesline in a utility room, basement, or attic.

Rack 'Em Up--If a clothesline is never going to be an option for you can still use a drying rack.  While this may not fit all of your clothes it will fit around half, and the drying time for your remaining clothes will be greatly reduced.  

Drip Dry Over the Tub--Take advantage of the space provided above your tub.  Add an additional shower rod in the middle of your tub and hang clothes on hangers over the tub.  If you have the additional rod, that will provide two rods from which to hang your clothes.  

Don't Air Your (Clean) Laundry--If it is TMI for you to hang your intimates out on the line, consider purchasing these hooks.  You can get them at dollar stores very cheaply and they can hold a lot of clothing.  Also, if you don't feel like purchasing anything new you can take a wire hanger and clip clothes pins on the bottom to hang your undies.

Even if you can't do all of these things, consider adding at least one to your wash routine.  If you reduce the amount of laundry you put in the dryer, your clothing will dry faster, saving energy & reducing your utility bill.

I use homemade laundry detergent, which saves a TON of money in an of itself, but if that is not your speed try some of these things.

 We Don't Need No Stinking Laundry Detergent--MSN Money posted an article in which someone tried this experiment.  The conclusion was that outer garments came out just as clean as they did with detergent.  Apparently, underwear and other garments worn close to the body did still retain a bit of body odor, but it seems that it is possible to get away without detergent.  Interesting.  I haven't tried it, but I'm just putting it out there.

Soften That Laundry-- Consider using white vinegar as a fabric softener.   We have an HE washer, so I just use a splash of vinegar in the softener tray, but you could also put some in a downy ball or measure out about an 1/8th of a cup during the rinse cycle.  Your wash gets softened, does not come out smelling like vinegar, and you can get a gallon for under $3.  That will soften a lot of laundry.  Also, if you strongly dislike the smell of vinegar you can add some essential oils to your bottle to cover the vinegary smell.

I Heart These Balls--Not that kind silly!  Dryer balls are a great way to naturally remove static cling from your clothing.  They also help decrease drying time as they help aerate the laundry.  I have also heard that tennis balls and balled up tin foil do the same thing.   


Wide Load--Make sure to only run your washer when it is full.  Not only will you save energy, & not waste as much water, but many machines do not run efficiently with small loads.

Polar Bear Club--Switch to washing your clothes in cold water.  About 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is spent heating the water.  Think how much that could slash your utility bills!  If you were to wash 4 out of 5 loads in cold water you would save 72 lbs of CO2 emissions this month alone.

Listen to the Experts-- Washing clothing causes eventual wear on the clothing, in addition to the use of water and detergents.  Real Simple has published a guide of recommended washes for clothing.  For instance, bras only need to be washed every 3 to 4 wears, while jeans should only be washed after 4 or 5 wears.  Consult their guide before throwing things in the laundry and you will save water, detergent, time, and cut down on your clothing budget!

Whether your motivation is environmental or driven by frugality, any of these tips will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.  What's to lose?