I'm pretty frugal but not as creative as I would like to be. I know there is always more I can do but I'm just lazy sometimes. I say that because if I was to say I am too busy then that would be an excuse. I teach my girls to not give excuses so I'm taking my own advise.
Inspired by my favorite book The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, I have decided to try and be more creative. Christmas is coming very soon and I need to save money where I can. I know I'm not the only one out there so enjoy these steps Amy has outlined in her book. I have quoted from her book and added a few personal notes after each one.
Ten Steps To A More Creative You
Step 1. Realize that you are creative. Look for it in your daily life and nature that part of yourself.
My Note-I worked at a craft store for 10 years there is no excuse why I'm not creative. Just need to implement it into my regular life.
Step 2. Give yourself mental space, a clear field. We tend to fill up our days with TV, car radio, reading the paper, chats with friends on the phone. Instead do that "mindless task" in quiet time. This type of activity dominates my life……housework, mowing the lawn, scraping paints. Boredom never strikes, as the mental gears whirl continually. I write only after mentally rehearsing paragraphs a dozen times. When someone says, "I'm just not creative like you." I reply "No, I just thought about it longer."
My Note- I can honestly say I have been doing this. Ive been watching less TV and less radio. Lately I've had Christmas music playing on my record player and the TV turned off. In the car I've even stopped listening to the radio. Since I have 4 daughters my life is filled with little girl voices 24/7. So when I'm not around them I have been enjoying the silence. The one thing I need to work on is thinking a little more before I act. I have a very hard time with this. Once I get something into my mind I have to do it. Reminds me of a piece of advise someone once told me. If you feel you need to buy something just wait 24 hours. Usually you don't actually need the item and you save yourself some money by not buying it. Need to remember this more.
Step 3. Never ever compare yourself to others, but rather enjoy your own innovations. I stumble over this block working in the shadow of many award winning designers. No matter how good I could become there would still be someone better. Later I realized that no matter how bad I was there was always someone worse. Compare yourself only to yourself. "This is how good I am today. I am better than yesterday and I will be better tomorrow."
My Note-Ive actually never compared myself or my design to others. I am personally eclectic and so is our style. Others prefer cookie cutter looking interior designs. Me I prefer vintage, good quality and natural color things. Our furniture is new but our decorations are all 2nd hand thrift shop finds. Our kitchen table is 2nd hand but the matching chairs we salvaged from our old set and repainted. I like our taste. Mostly because no one else has it. Yeah for me having one less step!
Step 4. I use a strategy I call "putting the problem into the mental computer." your brain functions continually, even as you sleep. Study the parameters of your problem and then let it rest for a few days. Very often your mental computer will spit out the solution unexpectedly as you shower or drive to work. This works much better than trying to perform as the clock ticks away. If you are trying to come up with a great party idea, give yourself a couple of months of mental back burner time.
My Note-This is a great step. I find myself doing this often especially when it comes to Christmas gifts. I have a few things and think about what to do with them. Sometimes it takes me a week to figure something out. Most the time I have an idea and just need to narrow it down to details. The end result isn't at all what the beginning thought was.
Step 5. Brainstorm. Toss the idea around with another person. Be flexible and say or write down every "stupid" thought that comes. Very often another person can take your idea and add a twist that makes it great. Jim is my brainstorming partner. he is very good at telling me when my idea is good and I should run with it. Sometimes something isn't working just right and he can look at it and come up with a better sentence or illustration idea.
My Note-Another step I'm pretty good at. I talk with my husband about a project I'm working on and he usually has another good idea. He's a honey do husband and grew up in the sticks where you have to be creative because town was too far away and a waste of gas. You either fix it or your stuck. I grew up very poor and my mama had to be creative when it came to food and clothing us. This makes us a great team. Its one thing I love about my marriage. We make such a great team.
Step 6. Find a springboard, a starting place. For the tightwad this usually means determining which resources are cheap or in surplus. Build from that point.
My Note- I love this step. Since we do 99% of everything ourselves we always have left over wood or hardware. For example I wanted more garden beds that I could move around. My husband had built our deck and had plenty of left over unstained wood on the side of our house. I just used his ends and pieces to put together some small frames. I use these in my front yard each year to grow lots of things. They are small and only about 6 inches tall so they are easily movable. I get bored and change my mind all the time when it comes to my garden and its design. I took my idea and used what we had.
Step 7. Do not share your creative ideas with anyone who continually tells you they are dumb. This is often a spouse or parent. Professionally I should have switched jobs until I found an art director who shared a similar creative style. The art directors that didn't like my ideas were not more creative than me. Often they were less creative. Mostly it was a matter of seeing things differently. But, the constant message that I was doing it wrong took its toll. A mouse does not go down the same hole over and over if he fails to find the cheese.
My Note-My husband often things some of my garden ideas are not good. In my head I know how things grow and how things will change. He doesn't because he doesn't help me with the garden. When I roll a idea past him he sometimes doesn't agree with me. Not because he things they are dumb but he doesn't see why it matters. Since I am the gardener I know why it matters. Our ideas clash sometimes. So most the time I go with my own ideas and don't even talk to him about it. Sometimes he things they look ugly but most the time he likes the ideas. Years ago he didn't want me to garden in the front yard. Over time he has not cared and now I garden in the front yard as much as I garden in the actual garden. It's all pretty if you ask me.
Step 8. Practice. As with any skill, accessing your creative ability improves the more you do it. You will develop your own methods and strategies to fall back on when tackling new problems.
My Note-As any gardener knows its never perfect. The more you garden the better you get. Some plants need more sun and some need less sun. I'm consistently changing things up to have a better outcome. Same with my food budget. Every once in a while I get lazy and buy things that are easier to make. I always see myself spending more money and go back to my old frugal ways. There is always room for improvement and I never stick to the same thing. Always change things up and alter your choices.
Step 9. Avoid negative stress. This also tends to block creativity, as your mind focuses on that problem instead. Try to limit contact with individuals who bring on these problems. If it is one within your household, try to limit your reaction to their actions.
My Note- I FAIL FAIL FAIL when it comes to this step. I'm a high stressed person naturally and need to handle it better. For example right now its Christmas time (my favorite!!!!!) and I have all these great ideas in my head. Just the other day I pulled all our decorations out and set aside time for the girls and I do decorate. Well my oldest was in her room except for 5 minutes to set up her nutcrackers. My middle daughter was more interested in her iPod and my twins only wanted to play with the wooden reindeer decorations and nothing else. I was getting upset which got them upset. I felt like my whole day was ruined by their lack of wanting to do anything. In my head I had this perfect idea and it didn't go as planned. I know I need to limit myself and my ideas with them. I know its mostly me thats upset. They were just as happy to play with the wooden reindeer or with their own things than to decorate with me. I need to not have these high expectations and feel sad when they are not met. If they are happy I should be happy. But honestly having hot cocoa. listening to Christmas music and putting up decorations is so much fun to me! One day I hope they feel the same way.
Step 10. Start small. When you bite off more than you can chew you set yourself up for failure. instead set small easily attainable goals to build a sense of success. in subsequent projects stretch yourself to slightly more ambitious undertakings. Sometimes as you were reading the beginning of
this place you thought, "What the heck does creativity have to do with thrifty?" Tighwaddery without creativity is deprivation. When there is a lack of resourcefulness, inventiveness and innovation, thrift means doing without. When creativity combines with thrift you may be doing it without money, but you are not doing without.
My Note-I need to work on this one a little more. Usually I put everything off to the last minute. This year I had to plan a tea party birthday party for my twins. Sad because its probably the last little girl birthday part I will every get to throw. They are big girls now (sad mama!). I planned several decorations and party supplies. For weeks I hunted in thrift shops for things. And when I had no more time I bought what we needed which wasn't much. I took time each day to complete different task. one day it was pretty paper cones filled with fake pretty flowers. One day it was a happy birthday garland made from paper doilies and ribbon. I felt less stressed and did manage to get it all done in time. In the end I saved enough money to afford to take them to the mall to spend some birthday money.
To find out more amazing information head to your local library to snag these amazing books written by Amy Dacyczyn
Tightwad Gazette 2
Tightwad Gazette 3
Amazon has the set, Ebay, Half.com, Barns and Noble and Powell's all have these books.
Or maybe your as lucky as me and scored yours at a thrift store.
Don't want to buy? Ask your friends and family if you can borrow theirs!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
You will really love me for this I promise. Want to know how you can save money & enjoy your favorite flavor of all???? Mmmmmm bacon. Drool........
For Portland Oregon readers you can find nitrate free bacon ends and pieces at New Seasons for only $3.29 per pound. Yes that's correct $3.29 a pound. It makes no sense to buy bacon slices for $7.99 a pound for soups or your favorite dish. I mean really. That's just crazy talk.
These ends and pieces are the se bacon you buy sliced. It's just the ends! So go enjoy your bacon and eat it too.
P.s. It freezes really well & does t need thawed. Simply take it out, cut it up and cook it.
P.s.s. Don't throw that fat away!! Pour the bacon grease I to a mason jar for later. Use it to cook eggs, veggies or if you really like it skatter it on your hands. I'm no judger. really. I mean come on. It's bacon.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
There are several frugal and free ways to have fire starters and kindling. Any paper or cardboard with no plastic attached gets out in this pile. It's kept under our throw blankets so we don't have to see them. We don't get a paper delivered but Food Saver (a Portland paper) gets delivered once a week. We put it to good use.
One if my neighbors let us have some of her sappy pinecones to use as firestarters. These work the best! Best part is it's non toxic and free! Don't heaitate to ask your neighbors if you could have some. It will probably be one less hoer for them to do outside.
About 2 years ago my neighbors Jim & Hazel replaced their fence that we share with them. Jim was gracious enough to let us have some of the wood. Perfect for kindling! Thanks Jim & Hazel!
Lastly here we have some tree bark. Each year we get a wood permit to cut our own fire wood. When we bring it home a lot of the bark comes off & we stack it in one place. Bark is a great kindling that burns hot like a coal & it smells so wonderful when burnt.
You could also make your own firestarters with egg crates, lint and wax but why when you have easy things like these? But I must say hose are excellent gifts for family or friends.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
This is a HUGE pile of organic mulch. A while back my neighbor asked if I would be interested in going in on some mulch. "Yeah!" Well I forgot all about it till yesterday. I pulled into my driveway and saw this giant pile in my neighbors driveway. As soon as I stepped outside my car I saw my neighbor giving me the thumbs up. WOOOOOOOT!!!!!
I had one hour till I needed to cook dinner so I quickly went to work. One of my 9 year old twins helped me which was fun. Our mulch from years past was so thin that the weeds started to grow everywhere. First thing I did was lay mulch by the wood pile. My husband was so happy. We have a french drain along our small sidewalk because it floods easily. Mulch on top just gives it a finishing touch. Once I sweep it will look a lot better.
Next I went to work on our area by the fireplace. We can see this area from our living room so it must be done. I managed to get to the large tree but will need to finish the rest today. When laying down organic mulch you have to remember not to put any around the base of any plants because it will suck away all the nutrients from the plants to the mulch. We don't need that. So I keep a clear area under all my plants.
And here is what I am doing today. I need to rake all those leaves and put them into my compost bins or garden beds. These leaves are tiny and will break down pretty fast. Then I need to spread mulch along that wall and our fence. Its going to make our yard look so much nicer!
So I bet your asking how we managed to get free mulch? Well its pretty easy actually. My neighbor once worked for a tree maintenance service company. When a company is done doing tree maintenance they usually give the mulch to the city which distributes it to parks around the city. But if you call they will deliver it for free to your home. Not all do this so I could call around to your local tree service companies. Here in NW Portland you can call this place. BUT remember its organic and needs to be spread within a few days. It will break down and start to mold. Once its spread it won't mold. You also won't be guaranteed what kind of tree mulch your getting. Sometimes it has lots of pine. If it does make sure to only put pine around areas you don't want weeds or garden veggies. Blueberry plants love it though. Honestly this stuff is WAY prettier than any bark dust and heck its free!
Northwest Tree Specialist
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Beauty products are something I don't splurge on often. I'm a pretty simple lady so give me some tinted lip balm, mineral mascara and maybe some blush. I'm good to go. But I have four daughters two of which are teenagers. Ive done a good job of teaching my girls that inner beauty is what counts the most. But sometimes they want to treat themselves to some girl time. This usually makes me cringe because 99% of beauty products are packed full of toxins, chemicals and synthetic perfumes. To make things worst the natural food stores that do sell all natural toxic free beauty products are so over priced and not even geared towards teenagers. So to avoid all of these we have made our own facial products. Fun for me but not so much for them sometimes. I get it. I was a teenager once upon a time. When my friend Paige told me about 3 Girls Holistic I was super excited to have the chance to try them out. Lucky for me they sent me these for free to review. Woot!
"You look your best when you feel your best.
Our line of products is intended to not only nourish your skin, but your overall health as well. Our skin is capable of absorbing up to 60% of what we put on it; we believe that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t want to have inside your body."
Um yeah! That's what I'm talking about!
A few more amazing details-
Not only do they have tween/kids geared products but also post postpartum, aromatherapy, first aid and women's skin care.
They give back to the community by giving a portion of proceeds to several charities.
Based in Nevada and all products are made in the USA.
Recyclable packaging. They even reuse the packaging from products get get shipped to them.
100% all natural. So pure you could eat it. Literally.
100% toxins and synthetics free
$5 flat rate shipping
On top of all this wonderful stuff they have a blog.
I mean come on. All this is way freaking cool!
My little package came with these products inside. Here is a brief description and our review of each item.
1. Purifying Toner-$6.95 After washing your face simply spritz this on your face. Its very lightly scented and dries super fast.
Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel Extract*, Wine Vinegar*, Lemon Balm*, Chamomile*, Roses*, Calendula*, Comfrey*, Lemon Peel*, Rosemary*, Sage*, Essential oils of Bergamot, Grapefruit, and Lavender.
Review-A favorite of my girls. My older girls love this item because of how easy it is to use and it doesn't smell really strong. I love the glass bottle which we can reuse when done with this. $6.95 is pretty darn cheap if you ask me. Well worth the money.
2. Nourishing Cream-$11 A lovely light moisturizer for the night.
Distilled Water, Aloe Vera Gel, Apricot Kernel Oil*, Coconut Oil*, Meadowfarm Seed Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E, Essential Oils of Frankincense and Lavender
Review-I personally really enjoyed this cream. Light on my skin and didn't leave any grease on my pillow. It actually made the pillow smell lovely. I felt really comfortable letting my girls use this. Easy to wash out of their clothes! Perfect for messy little girls. Again love this glass bottle because I get to reuse it. Best part is its only $11. Way cheap compared to those other toxic name brand creams.
3. Cleansing Grains-$7.95 When your skin needs a little scrubbing this will do the job. It removes oxidized oil, dead skin cells and dirt without feeling like your face was hit by sand paper.
Oat Tops*, White Kaoline Clay, Almonds*, Chamomile*, Comfrey*, Lavender*, Poppy Seed*, Rose*, Essential Oils of Ylang Ylang and Tea Tree
Review-I was excited to try this out but quickly realized I didn't like it. I didn't let my girls use it because of fear of chunks getting into their eyes. They are not old enough to keep the product out of their eyes. I did use it and found it to be a bit too chunky. I think if I added it to my facial soap it would probably work better. I really did enjoy the light scent though. Also love the glass bottle. $7.95 is a great price for this.
4. Day Serum-$22 Rich in essential fatty acids, it helps fight free radicals, protects against UV damage and the assault of environmental toxins, while restoring and conditioning the skin.
Calendula and Comfrey Infused Grapeseed Oil*, Hazelnut Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil*, Sea Buckthorn Oil*, Essential Oils of Neroli, Frankincense, Lavender and Rose Otto
Review-This might be my favorite out of all of them. I use this after the Purifying Toner and my skin feels amazing all day long. It also helps blend my foundation more smoothly. A little goes a long way so one bottle will do ya! Oh and have you priced serum from major stores? My gosh they are expensive. At $22 I can even afford this. That's saying a lot.
5. Calming Mist-$7 Spritz to help tease tension and create a sense of calm. Enjoy a little bit of the aroma prior to slumber to help you rest more peacefully.
Distilled Water, Essential Oils of Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Yland and Vanilla Absolute
Review-Every single girl in this home loved this! They spray it on them when they feel angry. They spray it on them before bedtime. My tween sprays it on her like perfume. Can't say enough about this spray. LOVE IT. Only one issue I have with this is the plastic bottle. Wish it was glass. We don't like plastic of any kind. Would love if they switched to glass. Otherwise its perfect! And at $7 its a steal of a deal!
6. Pretty Flower Perfume-$18 Bright, colorful bottles, playful labels, and scents that don’t overpower, make them a perfect introduction to the land of big girls! Spill free and mess free roll on applicator. 100% natural, toxic and alcohol free. Organic oil base won't irritate skin.
Apricot Kernel Oil, Essential Oils of Grapefruit and Lavender. 100% Organic Ingredients.
Review-As a mommy I was so excited for my twins to have their own perfume that was safe and non toxic. Its lightly scented so it doesn't overwhelm anyone around them. The pretty bottle makes my little girls feel like big girls. Even my tween loves it. Heck even I love it. As a bonus its only $18 so it won't break the bank.
p.s. I have my eye on a few other products for my girls too. Including a $3 lip gloss!
p.s. I have my eye on a few other products for my girls too. Including a $3 lip gloss!
I really can't say enough about this company. I feel good as a mommy knowing I can buy healthy non toxic safe products for my little girls. They finally get to use things that mommy gets to use. My older girls loved it because they can travel with them and not be embarrassed by our DIY products in mason jars. I can't blame them. If I was a tween I wouldn't want to travel with them either. I am just happy my girls are happy.
For more information you can contact them online. Or go old school and call them by phone at (888) 283-5399 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
These products were sent to me for free with no compensation of money from the company. I am not being paid for writing anything in this post. All reviews are my personal opinions.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Last night I sorta came to a epiphany. I was in bed watching TV which is something I always do. Every single night we go to bed and watch the 10 o'clock news. Its our thing. It's not a complete day without watching it. While I was sitting there I was thinking of how much TV I actually watch. Then I started to think that I was wasting my life away watching TV when I could put that time to good use. Then I started to think about how when I'm older I will look back and see how much time I wasted watching the boob tube (my mama calls it that). Then I started to think of all the ways I waste away my time and how I need to get out and explore more. I then went to sleep as usual expecting to forget everything I thought about.
But then when I woke up I remembered everything. My husband came home from lunch and I told him about my epiphany. He agreed with everything I said. This is why I love him so much. He's a guy that when the sun is up so is he. He gets his stuff done then does what he wants. Usually a ride on his motorcycle on the back roads enjoying the beautiful nature. He doesn't come inside unless its raining or gets dark. He's always been this way unlike me. I enjoy nature to its fullest when I have time. And when I say "When I have time" I mean when I'm not wasting time doing things. Watching TV, playing around on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc. Well its now going to stop. Here's my plan.
See this TV? It sits above our fireplace and I usually have it on during the day. I like to say its for the noise but its not. AM Northwest, The Talk, Kelly & Michael and so on. See its not just for the noise. I watch it more than I would like to say. So for now I limit myself. No TV during the day. No TV when my girls come home to do homework. No TV unless its family time. Every Sunday we as a family watch Once Upon a Time. Thursdays its Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Friday my husband and I watch Grimm (its filmed here locally!). Maybe a movie here or there. Maybe a documentary here and there. But that is it. Sorry TV. We need to break up. Its not me. Its you.
Since I'm cutting back on things I thought I would cut back on my Internet use. Here is my laptop my husband bought me this year. It will be my source of News. It will be my source of research. It will be my source to you the reader. It will no longer be my buddy I play with and then realize that hours have passed and my kids get out of school soon. Darn you Facebook! Darn you Blogger! I will no longer be on my computer for hours and hours. I will write when I feel like it. I will let my girls watch old cartoons on YouTube because its free (well besides my Internet bill) and I love that my kids like old cartoons like I did as a child. I have a few reviews to get some here soon but besides that I'm in no hurry to write. I often run out of things to talk about and find myself not looking forward to writing at all. That makes me sad. I want to be happy and share things with you all. I don't want to write about something just to get something on here. Its not as creative. Its not as informative. Its just plain boring. So when I am happy I write and share it with you. Deal?
Yep thats a old school desk turned into a side table. Paid $5 for it and its WAY cooler than any new side table. Thats my green afghan my Aunt Robin made me when I was 1. We use it every single day.
I recently visited a friend who has a beautiful library of books. WITH A LADDER!!! That's such a cool factor! It made me want to start reading again. So from this point on I will fill my days with books instead of TV. Inspirational books. Good old nerdy cook books and garden books too! Foraging, DIY, etc. This is the most exciting part of change I am looking forward to. Nothing beats the excitement of finding a thrift store book at a good price, a old book with character, pages already broken in and the smell. OOOOOHHH the smell of a old book. Just can't beat it!
And here we are. This is my front door. This is my new entertainment. Maybe do some yard work, go pet my Tabby who is sitting there awaiting me, drive to my favorite farm, go for a walk, take some pictures, etc. Its here awaiting me. Its a huge world out there and I plan to enjoy it 100%.
Besides, life is too short to waste my time sitting in front of the boob tube or laptop. Peace!
Whose with me?
Sunday, October 27, 2013
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 cups sugar
3 cups baking cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups shortening
Yields 8 batches
Mix the first five ingredients well. Cut shortening in as best you can. Store in a mason jar in a cool dry place. This mix makes enough for eight batches of brownies. Put 2 cups of this mixture into one mason jar.
Attach these instructions
Combine mixture , 2 eggs, one teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup of nuts of your choice. Stir till mixed. Spread on a greased 8'x8' baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes making sure the center is set. Cut into 2 inch squares. Makes 16 brownies.
Chocolate chips or sprinkles would be a great addition to this gift. If you have a coffee lover toss in some espresso powder.
Stay tuned for my next jar idea.....
Chocolate chips or sprinkles would be a great addition to this gift. If you have a coffee lover toss in some espresso powder.
Stay tuned for my next jar idea.....