Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Life around here is pretty simple & it doesn't take much to liven up our days.  A little while ago after cleaning out our attic,  I found was a musical card that played Who Let the Dogs Out.  It has brought a great distraction from sorting through boxes & has given us lots of giggles & joy.   It really doesn't take much to entertain us...

 P.S. If you know my husband, don't judge him on his dance moves.  He'd do anything to make Emerson laugh, including dancing like that.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frugal Baby: Saving Money on Feeding Your Infant

No matter how frugal you are, having a child will increase your expenses--some.  There are many variables & many options depend on each individual family.  Whatever your circumstance, here are a few ways to cut back on the cost of feeding your infant.

Breastfeeding--Breastfeeding is a HUGE money saver, it's great for the environment, & an easy way for a mother to get her shape back.  I breast fed with Emerson & loved it.  Not everyone likes it, some people don't produce enough milk for their child, or if adopting can't nurse.  It is certainly an individual's choice, but it is the biggest money saver available, at least the first 6 months of a child's life.

**If you do plan on breast feeding I suggest reading about it or taking a breast feeding class.  We took one at our hospital & it was an invaluable to get to know the lactation consultant.  Our first night home E screamed all night & wouldn't nurse & it was terrifying.  The following morning we were able to go to the hospital, visit with the lactation consultant (for free), & discovered nothing was wrong & Emerson was getting plenty of milk each feeding.  That was huge. 

Formula Feeding--
  • Formula is expensive, but there are ways to cut the costs.  Whether you plan on formula feeding or breast feeding, sign up with the formula companies:  Enfamil, Similac, & Nestle.  They will send coupons & samples, which can cut the cost of formula feeding.  I think it's a good idea to sign up for these even if you plan on breast feeding, because you might not like it, you might not have enough milk, or you might need to supplement.  The formula can always be donated if you don't need it.

  • Consider generics, they are required to contain the same nutritional content as the name brands, but they are half the cost.    

  • Also, my OBGYN, our pediatrician, & the hospital offered us formula, so don't hesitate to ask or take what is offered & needed. Again, you never know...

Solid Feeding--

Make  Your Own Baby Food--Making your own baby food is a great way to control your babies diet, cuts way down on trash, & all the while saves money.  I made food from frozen fruits & veggies as well as fresh & quite enjoyed it.  I  made large batches, & froze them in ice cube trays until they were needed.  It did take more effort that popping open a bottle of jarred food, but it made me feel good to provide E with something I made.  If you can't make your child's food all the time, you can still use this method occasionally to save.  Every little bit counts.

Use Coupons--The biggest way I found to save on baby food was to use coupons, & combine them with sales.  If you sign up with Gerber they will send baby food coupons appropriate for your child's age.  I also emailed Earth's Best Organic & asked for coupons, & I'm sure the same could be done with your favorite baby food company.  Additionally, many companies have coupons on their websites, so look for them.  Recyclebank  also offers a reward coupon for a FREE Happy Baby product.  You can only order 1 per email address per month, but if you were really dedicated you could sign up with a few email accounts to get more rewards, & hey, it's FREE. 

Keep an Eye Out for Clearance--Peruse the baby section/clearance section of your store every time you are there.  I have found my absolute best baby food deals in the clearance section & the items are a long way from expiring.  Don't forget that you can use coupons on clearanced items as well. 

Try Generic--Like any food item, generic is always cheaper, so try generic baby food.  We had great luck & E never seemed to know the difference.   If I couldn't find a good coupon or sale, I always went for generic. 

Find "Non-Baby" Snacks--Every snack in the baby aisle is in a small package & is rather expensive.  Try standbys like cheerios, graham crackers, gold fish, raisins, or other snacks not sold in the baby aisle.


Once breast feeding subsided, I was shocked at the amount of money we spent on whole milk.  We average $20/month on one child.  Yikes!  Aside from milk try the following: 
  • Supplement with Juice-- If your pediatrician says it's ok, give a cup of 1/4 juice, 3/4 water instead of milk.  I like V8 Fusion, & I can usually get it under $1.50/ bottle with coupons.  It last longer & is cheap than milk.

  • H2O--Again, after checking with your pediatrician, see if it's ok to offer a glass of water an occasional beverage.  I've found that in the summer, nothing beats a nice cup of cold water, & it's free.

However you feed your child is certainly up to you, but it doesn't have to be incredibly expensive.  With a few tweaks here & there you can cut your costs, no matter what your circumstances. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recycled Craft Ideas

Country Living put together a list of some ways to reuse items around the house.

Some of the ideas are a little hokey & I can't see ever doing them in my own home, but the above images are two of my favorites.  I definitely think I'm going to do the Ball Jar.  Definitely.  Check it out

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Problem With a Stockpile--Over Stuffed Pantry Syndrome

I'm always on the look out for a bargain & groceries are no exception, so when I find something at a cheap price, I buy a lot.  After grossly over-estimating the amount of canned vegetables we would need this year, I have been left with a pantry that has slowly gotten more & more cramped.  

The main problem is our pantry is very small & under our attic stairs, which means you basically have to crouch on all fours to get things in & out.  So usually after a shopping trip the outside of our pantry is cluttered with bags & no where to put our groceries.  Needless to say, I have been putting this off...

After about an hour of extreme organization & rearranging our pantry actually became functional.  I don't have any room to put anything else on the shelves,  but that's probably a blessing, because we really don't need anything.

I'm going to look for another 3 shelf plastic storage system someday, but for now everything is properly put away, even our emergency water supply.

Perhaps the biggest bonus from all this cleaning is that Emerson discovered our little pantry is just her size & makes for the perfect hiding place!  All & all not bad for a day's work. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Greening My Cleaning: Easy Microwave Cleaning

I grew up working in a small midwest town that had an old school pharmacy with a soda fountain.  One of the many tricks I learning while working in the soda fountain was a simple way to clean a disgusting microwave. 

I recently needed to utilize this little trick when I accidentally over microwaved some baked beans.  Pretty huh?

Simply take a damp soapy wash cloth & place it in the microwave.  Set the microwave for 2 minutes.  Once the nasty particles are loosened from the steam, simply wipe down the walls.  In my experience no extra effort is needed beyond wiping, but if you happen to have something really difficult to remove, re-wet the wash cloth, repeat the 2 minutes, & try again.  

In just a few minutes I had a beautifully clean microwave, all without any chemicals!  Piece of cake, & nary a baked bean to be found. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

7th Generation Cardboard Bottle

If I didn't make my own laundry detergent, this would be my detergent of choice...

7th Generation has unveiled a brilliant change to consumer laundry detergent--a bottle made out of molded cardboard.  The bottle is recyclable, compostable & made from 100% post consumer recycled fiber. An interior plastic pouch holds the detergent, & according to their website, "the entire packaging system (fiber bottle, pouch, spout, cap) system uses 66% less plastic than a typical 100 oz 2X laundry bottle - while delivering the same number of loads!"  I love this & truly hope it revolutionizes the packaging industry.

For more info, check out 7th Generation's website

Thursday, August 18, 2011

America's Cheapest Family

I always enjoy hearing about the Economides family, a.k.a. America's Cheapest Family.  Some frugal enthusiasts have thrown them on blast for not bringing any new ideas to the table, but I have to say that I find them to be a perfectly logical example of how to live frugally.  They do have ideas that are more for beginners, but I think it is ideal to encourage all & make frugal living accessible.  The thing I find most impressive is that they're raising their rather large family of 7 on one income, without going into debt.

Earlier in the year they were on The Talk & shared some of their favorite tips.


Here's part two...

Hope you find something useful!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Handling My Lady Business--The Keeper Cup

FAIR WARNING:  This post will contain personal graphic matter.  If you know me, don't run me out of town, I'm sharing this because I wish I had had someone who could give me their first hand experience .  If you don't want to hear about my favorite Aunt Flo, DO NOT read this post.  Come back tomorrow for some lighter fair.  Consider yourself warned...

I first heard about The Keeper menstrual cup back in high school when I was on my I-love-anything-written-by-a-radical-feminist phase.  I then heard about it while reading The Tightwad Gazette and much a I value the opinion of Amy Dacyzyn, the idea of a reusable cup in my nether-regions wigged me out.

Flash forward to 9 months into breast feeding Emerson--it seems that after 18 months of not making an appearance, my period came back WITH A VENGEANCE.  Seriously, it had a vendetta & I could hardly catch a break.  After getting my period every 20-24 days for several months I was SHOCKED at the amount of waste I was creating.  Box after box of tampons wound up in the trash.  Finally I couldn't stand creating such waste & used my Swagbucks to buy The Keeper, a reusable rubber menstrual cup that is used in place of a tampon. 

I went with The Keeper because to my knowledge, it has been around longer than similar products, so I figured if I were to have a problem they could help.  After reading the instructions thoroughly I decided to try it out.  I have to say figuring out how to properly insert The Keeper was hairy for a minute, but after it was in it wasn't that bad.  Sort of like wearing a thong for the first time, at first it feels weird & you think everyone can tell, but after a while you get used to it & forget about it.

My first removal was also a tad strange, the cup sort of suctions, so you have to break the seal to pull it out.  From there you simply dump  the cup (I rinsed mine) & then re-insert.  In my experience it can be worn just as long as a tampon, including overnight, which to me is fabulous.  I have to say I was worried it would leak, or be gross, but I was truly surprised.  As bizarre as it may sound I actually found wearing The Keeper more reassuring & hygienic than a tampon.   

Things you need to know:
  •  The Keeper comes in two sizes, before birth & after birth, so if you order choose B for BEFORE & A for AFTER.  I was a little confused at first.

  • The Keeper is made of medical grade rubber, but if you happen to be allergic to latex you can try The Moon Cup, which is made by the same company.

  • I have read that wearing The Keeper can also cut down on menstrual cramps, & it seems many women get cramps due to the chemical in the tampons, rather than their periods.  I didn't have any cramps, but I can't be 100% certain that was due to The Keeper without a few more months of use.

  • The Keeper is economical. Though it is around $25 to purchase initially, it can last up to 10 years. Think of all the money you will have saved over 10 years!

  • The Keeper keeps A TON of trash out of the landfills.  The average woman uses 11,400 tampons during her lifetime. Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, states the average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene related products in a lifetime.   In the U.S. alone, an estimated 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed annually. Imagine if those tampons weren't adding to our waste. 

I know this might not be for everyone.  I realize that. .  I do however encourage you to at least consider looking into more reusables  in your life.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a menstrual cup, it could be cloth napkins, real dishes, or the like.  I think the important thing to remember is the daily impact of EVERYTHING WE USE & if it is possible to keep some of it out of the landfill, even tampons. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thank You Vick's

Emerson has been sick & cranky & woke up every 2 hours last night.  She's got a cold, she's teething, & last night she ran a low grade fever.  The unfortunate side effect from this is that a tired & cranky child can lead to a completely worn out & scatter brained mother.  (I lost the keys of our car today, inside the car, after I had unlocked it.  I have no idea that was even possible).

Today I felt so exhausted that when it came time for bed I was desperate for a better plan of attack than Ora-jel & Benadryl; especially because they failed so miserably last night. Then I remembered an article I had saved from a parenting magazine about natural & unconventional home remedies.  The remedy for colds is simple: put Vick's Vapor Rub on your child's feet, cover them with socks, & then put the child to bed.  I have to say I was somewhat skeptical, but equally desperate, so I went ahead & tried it.

It's been 3 hours since E went down & so far she's only woken up once, & that was because she was hot.  Last night she would have been up 5 times by now.   I'm pretty convinced it's the Vick's & I have to say I'll definitely be trying this myself my next cold. 

 Here's hoping the Vick's continues to work &  I get some sleep!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Everything You Wanted to Know About Homemade Laundry Detergent

I love making homemade laundry soap.   It is extremely simple & only requires a handful of rather cheap ingredients. 

 I first started making the liquid recipe a little over a year ago & have never looked back.  It's a huge money saver & is very environmentally friendly.  I've since moved on to using the powdered kind & I find making & storing the powder to be even easier. 

If you've ever been interested in making your own laundry detergent, but had reservations, I've come across a great resource for you.  Tipnut has compiled an extremely extensive list of commonly asked homemade laundry soap questions & their answers.  If you're on the fence I hope this helps you & convinces you to try it yourself.  You won't be sorry!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Organizing A Child's Clothing On A Dime

I buy ahead for Emerson & have found organization to be essential component to keeping up our clothing stockpile, despite our small closets.

I use this over the door organizer (Walmart $6.98) for things that we need access to on a daily basis:  bloomers, extra hair clips, & sun hats.  The sides hold bags for her diaper pail, masking tape & pens, & other essentials.  It's a great way to maximize her small closet & now is the time of year to buy such an item. 

Immediately to the left I used a nail to hang E's extra cloth wipes in a bag that once held our t-shirt sheets.  Because I only hang her Sunday dresses,  I have her sizes for the next year organized & ready to go.  I find that if I have access to all of her dresses I can get more creative when dressing for cold weather without purchasing anything new.  Below her clothes, in the after Christmas clearance snowflake basket, are Emerson's pre-fold diapers & covers; to the right of that is a shoe box that holds her shoes.  In the 3 drawer plastic organizer I've got a drawer for E's pocket diapers, a drawer for wipes, & a drawer for baby powder, q-tips, & first aid equipment, etc.

To the right of the plastic storage bins I have another storage system.  The shelves in the back are made of my re-purposed childhood nightstand.  It holds all of E's future clothes for the next year.  Because we try to shop sales or resale for Emerson it's helpful to see what she needs ahead of time.  I've found this to be a great money saving system & I have to say it also helps calm my nerves when I worry that we need to go out & buy a bunch of clothes for the next season; it's nice to have a tangible reminder that our child won't be cold in winter.  The plastic tub I got from my mom & it holds winter blankets, while the paper bag holds free store hangers.  Side note:  Don't waste your money on kids hangers!  Most stores will give you their hangers when you buy clothes, so you don't need to worry about purchasing them, even resale shops! 

We've also tried to maximize the vertical storage of Emerson's closet; so we put in boards the depth of the close & I try to stack things as high as possible.  In that orange shoe box I have all of E's shoes in the next size, so when she outgrows her current size I don't go to the store, I can just look in that box.

In E's drawers I use boxes to wrangler in smaller items like socks or tights.  This is particularly helpful with newborns because all of their stuff is tiny. 

I have found that by buying ahead & keeping everything meticulously organized I can save a ton of money on clothing our daughter.  It just takes a little bit of creativity & a lot of organization.   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Forever Frugal

I know that I mention the Tightwad Gazette rather frequently, but I find that book to be  a ceaseless source of information & inspiration.  Amy Dacyzyn retired from writing the Tightwad Gazette in the early 1990s, so when a journalist caught up with her years later it was fun to see she's still living frugally.  Check out the video to see how the Godmother of Tightwaddery is living forever frugal. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Eco-Friendly Ways to Unclog Your Pipes

I'm prone to having slow running pipes every 6 months or so.  I think most women tend to have this problem.  I have tried many, many things in the effort of keeping my pipes clear, but unfortunately in the past, my go to solution often required dumping incredibly harmful chemicals down the drain.  Never one to back down from experimentation, here are a few natural & homemade methods I've used the with great success:

Stop Before It Starts--Most of my drainage issues have to do with my ever shedding hair getting caught in the pipes.  Aside from installing a cheapo hair catcher in my drain, the most effective thing I've done is to brush my hair BEFORE I take a shower.  This catches all sorts of loose hair & prevents it from going down the drain.  This is also the only time I really can brush my hair, because brushing curly hair is an all expense paid trip to Frizzville.

Heat it Up--Pour boiling water down your pipes.  I have to say I'm not entirely certain that this would help clogs, rather I've found it helps in prevention.  Instead of boiling water for the sole purpose of dumping it out, I save the water after hard boiling eggs & pour that down the drain.  I wouldn't save pasta water though because food particles could grow some funky stuff.  Best to stick to clear boiling water.

Chemical Reaction--Use a combination of baking soda, vinegar, & salt to clean out your clog.  The baking soda & vinegar will react with one another & foam, while the salt will scrape down the sides of the pipe.  I've never precisely measured, I usually just pour equal amounts of soda & vinegar & finish with some salt.  Allow that to sit for several hours, rinse with hot water & repeat if necessary.  If you need measurements or more recipes look here

Mario & Lugi's Best Friend--When nothing is seeming to work & you're about to run out & buy some NASTY chemicals, try a plunger first.  I have no idea if a plumber would actually recommend this for sinks, but I am telling you, it has worked for me 9 times out of 10.  You might need to be persistant, espeically with the bath tub, but it will work eventually.  I had to plunge mine for about 5 minutes today, but now the pipes are running free & clear.

I realize that in extreme circumstances you might not be able to clear your pipes with these methods, but they are certainly a good starting point & could save you money & save our water ways. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On My Mind--A Day Late

Rhonda over at The Frugal Home does an On My Mind series on Friday.  I fell asleep before I could post my version, so forgive my tardiness. 

On my mind this week is this blanket I knitted when I was pregnant with Emerson.  Those white pieces of yarn coming out are some Lions Brand Suede yarn that I got at Big Lots for $1.50 a skein.  I took the blanket you see above apart & reknitted it, hoping that all I needed was to pay attention & a tighter stitch.  Unfortunately I'm mostly done with blanket number two & that dang yarn is doing the same pulled out curly thing.  After trying to knit this blanket twice with the same materials it is clear to me that despite my inferior knitting skills, the problem with the yarn, not the knitter.  Clearly there was a reason why the yarn was so cheap.  Ugh.  Hopefully I can pull it apart & finish it AGAIN (without the suede yarn) by Christmas. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Know You're Cheap When...

One of the many treasures I found while cleaning out our attic was a stack of undeliverable wedding invitations.  For whatever reason we weren't able to get our invitations to 4 people the first time & were stuck with extra invites.  I was just getting ready to chuck all of them in the recycle bin, when it occured to me that there were un-used RSVP envelopes inside.  After a little digging I was left with four 41 cent stamped envelopes. 

Now, I have heard rumor that you can simply take such envelopes to the post office & they will give you a new stamp, but I'm lazy, & our post office is on a part of town that I never frequent, so I figured I'd come up with a different plan.

I first used a Sharpie to block out the address, then I used glued some paper I got for free from a local credit union to cover the address.  I then applied some 1 cent stamps that I had on hand & finished with a little bit of tape on each side of the paper.

Now I know that these envelopes look like the dickens, but they're perfect for mailing rebates.  For less than 5 minutes of work I saved $1.64--not a ton of money, but every little bit counts! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Adjusting Expectations

It is frequent that we are bombarded with statistics that tell us that the average square footage for a home these days is greatly increasing In 2006 that statistic was inflated to 2,349 sq feet for 2.61 people.  We are also given a yearly figure as to home much raising children will be, $226,920 to be exact. We hear about the shrinking middle class & how people can no longer afford to live without dual incomes.  

Yet during these trying financial times I have personally seen a resurgance of a sort of old school way of living.  People are living off one income, they're buying used cars, they're shopping at thrift stores, & dare I say it, they're saving their money.  People are changing their entire lives, whether by personal choice or due to unforseen circumstances & finding HUGE benefits from it.  To me it comes down to one thing...expectations. 

Yes, it is difficult to live on one income IF YOU HAVE UNREALISTIC EXPECATIONS.  If straight out of college you expect to live in the same size home you lived in growing up, or drive the same quality cars your parents do, you probably can't live on one salary.  It seems that much of Generation X doesn't understand that our parents worked their whole adult lives to afford their home & theircars & we have to too if we don't want to be swimming in debt. It is ludicrous to expect to  afford the same as people 30+ years into the work force.   By simply accepting a more humble, but equally charming home, you can afford more & stay out of debt. Same thing with cars, or clothes, or furniture, or gadgets.

In the 1950s  the average square footage of a home was 983 square feeet for 3.87 people!   Most families paid cash for all of their possessions; if they didn't have cash, they didn't buy the item.  A large number of families lived with only one vehicle, either didn't have a television, & only had one.  Washing machines were considered a luxury. A washing machine! How, in 60+ years have we gotten so skewed?  Why do we now need so much stuff?

I'm certainly not saying that women need to be stay at home mothers, quite the opposite in fact. My point, whatever your goal maybe be--whether you want to stay at home, start your own business, become a freelance artist, or retire, is that it is attainable. You can most certainly live, rather comfortably, if you adjust your expectations, value the PEOPLE in your life ABOVE things, & if you save the money you have.

There is no way I would have survived the ticky-tacky-box life of the 1950s, but there are certainly lessons to be learned some of the lifestyle choices of that era.  And I think that the it all comes down to a matter of perspective & expectations.

I'll get down from my soap box now...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hangin' In the Moonlight

It is obscenely hot here.  Today it was 111 degrees & tomorrow it is supposed to be 113, with humidity.  I know some people can handle this degree of heat, but I, my friend, am not one of them.  Anything over 105 feels like an oven to me.  That being said, I have been really frustrated that the heat is disrupting my life, particularly my laundry schedule.

I've been letting the laundry pile up & have been getting more frustrated by the day; but today my sister suggested I hang the clothes over night, so I took her advice.  I know it's rather unconventional & you might be asking yourself why I don't just break down & use the dryer, but I just can't bring myself to increase our carbon footprint.  It's times like this, when our air is running 24/7 & the house is still 84 degree inside, that I feel I need to do everything in my power to cut back elsewhere.  Call me a tree hugger, I'll own it proudly. 

Truth be told, it felt rather miraculous to get outside.  Even though it was still in the high 90s at 8:30, it felt so good to feel the breeze on my face.  I realize that hanging wash overnight depends on the forecast & limits me to one load of laundry a day, but I feel it's well worth it if I get outside & I can still hang laundry. 

I wonder if my neighbors think I'm nutty...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Baby on a Budget--Cheap Nursery

I hate to spend unnecessarily.  It's not that I'm cheap, it's just I see no point in spending  money on things when I am able to use what I have on hand.  Not only does this save money, it also saves precious resources.   When it came to Emerson's nursery we utilized relics for our childhoods, thought creatively & came up with what I think is a rather cute nursery for less than $100.  Let me show you...

I'm not really a pink/peach person, but this was the paint color when we moved in, so when we found out we were having a girl, we kept it in order to save money.  Both the curtains & the rug I had from my single days & they happened to match rather well. 
Matching bedding set, a clearance baby doll, pillow case that was a high school grad present, & a blanket I knit in E's bed
The biggest purchase we made decorating was buying a 3 piece matching bedding set that included a sheet bumpers, & a quilt.  I bought it before we were ever pregnant because it was gender neutral & it was $34.98, down from $70.  I couldn't pass up such a good deal, even if I wasn't expecting...

This dresser was used by my sisters & myself in childhood & has since served our needs well.  It's not the cutest, but it works.  The shelves were left overs from my single days & are decorated with mementos from my childhood, as well as JC's.  To the left of the dresser is E's hamper--a clean, unused kitchen trash can (works great!). 

To the left of that is a Beatrix Potter growth chart my mom got for free from one of her teaching colleagues. 

Instead of purchasing a changing table, we use our pack & play that we received as a gift.  Our cloth diaper pail is an old stainless kitchen trash can, & JC bought the little one at Toys R Us, while I was hospitalized, for the un-godly price of $20.  Oh husband...

The wall hanging is the quilt that came with the bed set, I just safety pinned ribbon to the back & hung it as art.  Below the quilt is my childhood toy box that my dad made for me. 

To the left is a bookshelf left over from JC's bachelor days.  It holds E's sheets, extra diapers, toys & on top I've got some gifted & saved picture frames, as well as a toy & book ends from my childhood.

My sister bought the 4 pictures for Emerson last Christmas.

The little rocking chair was mine, as well as the Miss Piggy. The small pooh rug was purchased at the time we bought the bedding for $6.  JC's parents weren't using the big rocker, so they passed it on to us, & the rocking horse in the corner was made for me for my first Christmas.  Thanks Dad!

I have to say we were incredibly blessed to have E's crib given to us as a shower present, which is part of what allowed us to do Emerson's nursery so cheaply.  The letters JC hung as a surprise for me while I was in the hospital on bed rest.  He got them at Hobby Lobby on clearance for a dollar or two a letter. 

The art in the middle was made by a good friend for E's first birthday. 

 A few more favorites...
Toy Box Up Close

This needlepoint was made for me & hung in my nursery. It also does an excellent job hiding an old electrical box. 

Last, but not least, my favorite item in E's room hangs above the rocking horse.  This picture my mom bought when she was pregnant with me, having no idea that she was having a daughter.  When I was born, to her surprise, I was the spitting image of the baby in the painting.  I always think of my mother when I look at it & love to feel her love in my baby's room. 

Bottom line, when it comes to putting together a nursery, whether you have a little or a lot to spend, look at what you have on hand first.  It saves money & resources, not to mention gives you an opportunity to give a second life to many forgotten items.