Friday, December 16, 2011

The Non Toxic Avenger by Deanna Duke

For months I have been hearing my blogger friend Deanna Duke talking about her book she was writing and random things she was testing out.  So when the book finally came out last month,  I knew I had to get it.  I could of easily bought it off Amazon but I wanted to find it in person at a local book store.  I waited....and waited...and waited until the day it came out and I ran up to my closest Barns And Noble.  I saw it on their website and thought I would save myself some shipping cost and get it from them locally.  But of course they didn't have it. That would be too easy wouldn't it? Darn them. Then I checked Powell's because I knew they had to have it.  Powell's is my favorite store because its locally owned and sells used books as well.  Again it was a no go. 
One day I was out with my friend shopping off Capitol Highway in Portland and came across this cute little book store.Annie Blooms is a small store but has a community feel to it. There was no way I would find it here.  But I asked anyways.  I almost peed myself and did squeal when the nice lady said they had one copy.  Took a minute but she handed it to me and I swear I heard angels singing in the back of me. I am a life time shopper to Annie Blooms from now on. 
I took the book home and there I sat for hours reading the book.  I couldn't put it down. I am not a fast reader and it usually takes me forever to actually finish one because I get easily distracted.  Well that and I have four children bugging me consistently.  But I literally read half the book that night and was angry when I had to put it down to go to bed.  Long story short I read the book faster than any other book Ive ever read. 

Everything Deanna talked about over the last year was all the sudden coming back to me.  From first page to the last page it was full of great information.  What I love most is her sick and twisted mind which resembles mine.  She can always put a funny spin on just about anything.  You really can take her experiences and turn them into useful information that you can use.  I loved that she shared everything she does from her deodorant, face wash and even her tomatoes (which I also use).  If she eats them then I know I'm doing something good.

What I really love is that she doesn't just give up and go back to her old ways.  She found non toxic alternatives to her toxic main stream products she has loved over the years.  And if she couldn't find one at the store then she would make it.  If her son didn't like so many plants then she would sneak them in one by one.  And lets not get into Hank and his cakes.  Another great thing is that she explained everything so well that even I could understand it.  I couldn't pronounce all the chemicals but I sure could tell you what they were and how they would affect us. 

This book would be great for the newer greenie and even a novice greenie like myself.  I learned so much from this book and will read it a few more times.  Maybe I will be able to pronounce the words too.  Maybe. 

Would I recommend this book? YES
It would be a great gift to your family, friends or even just a neighbor.  And if your from Seattle then you have to buy it.  Support a local writer! And because Deanna has always been a great friend and fellow blogger of course I had to buy it.  She rocks.
So what are you waiting for? GO BUY IT!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Something borrowed nothing new

My daughter has a choir tonight which she told me about just a few hours ago.  Instead of going to the store and throwing down a good chunk of green cash I decided to see what she had already to work with.  Here is what we came up with. 
I found a white Gap summer dress at Goodwill a few years ago and she is finally able to fit it.  It's a halter dress that ties behind the neck and had silver sparkles everywhere.  I love her connect the dots (freckles).

  My daughter can never take a bad picture.  Seriously its crazy.  I don't understand it at all.
I then found a cute little black cardigan that drapes down.  This will keep her shoulders warm and add to the Christmas feel of the outfit. 
She needed something red to top off the Christmas feel so I purged all of my jewelry.  I took one of my many pearl necklaces and hung a beautiful red pin.  I found this pin at my grandmother's house.  I have no idea if its real or just red glass but that means nothing to me.  Its just beautiful and I feel my grandmother with me when I wear it.I then used two of my pearl bracelets and we tied a cute ribbon bow on it.  Hailey added the cute little bell. Hailey wore a pair of black dress shoe's with this outfit.   This completes her Christmas outfit for tonight. 


I dare you to put together a Christmas outfit!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Penny Pinching Christmas

You can save money at Christmas many different ways.  Here are a few things to inspire you.
In 2009 I made several ornaments. These copper ornaments are super easy. They are made from frozen juice metal lids, ribbon and left over copper sheeting from another project.  I simply drew a design on the copper, used a pen to make a imprint on the copper then wrapped the copper around the metal lid.  I then added ribbon onto the copper on the back.  No glue needed!
This year I bought many santa's from a little thrift store.  I remember these from when I was a child so I had to get them.  Paid $1.00 for 5 of them. Now thats a deal!
One of my very good friends gave my girls each a ornament with their names on them.  They are always on our tree.  I think giving ornaments for gifts is a great idea.  Helps them save money and is an inexpensive gift for you to buy.  Thank you Krisin!

Another year we took pine cones, added glutter on the edges and then added ribbon to hang them.  These are super cheap and easy to make! Kids love to make this one.

When I was working at Michaels (did for 10 yrs) after each season they would take down the examples and toss them into the trash.  I took these cute guys home for free!

When we brought home our Christmas tree my husband trimmed the bottom so we could put the tree in our tree holder.  I used the trimmed pieces to make my wreath.  I saved a wreath form that I bought last year just so I could use it again.  I then found some red raffia and made a bow to put on it.  This was a FREE project!
This beautiful tree skirt was painted by my mom when I was young.  It looks exactly the same and even smells the same each year when I bring it out.  Sorry mom but im keeping it! Christmas would not be Christmas without this tree skirt. 
Here is our tree today.  Some bought, some hand made, some are 2nd hand and some are given to us.  Simple but beautiful.  And pay no attention to the angel on top.  Its a little crooked like we are.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bubble wands, teethers and hand kites oh my!


I recently saw a bubble wand kit that would be perfect for my girls.  Until I saw the price tag! It retailed for $20 and you could only make one bubble wand. You dip these into bubble water and swing around making a ton of tiny bubbles.   I knew my girls would love it so I decided to make my own for them.  Here is what I used and how much it cost. Would cost less if you use what you have from home.
.89 one wooden dowel
$1.99 Super Glue
$2 Bottle of bubbles
$3.99 Copper colored aluminum wire
scrap ribbon
That's only $8.87 for TWO!

You can make any shape wand you want. I wanted two star ones but as you can see it didn't happen.  Simply attach the metal shape to the wooden dowel that I cut in half.  I super glued the wire to the wooden dowel and wrapped a bit more wire around the wire shape to make it stronger.  I then glued some ribbon around all the wire to make it pretty.  DONE!
BTW-If you get super glue on your fingers don't freak out.  You don't have to use fingernail polish! Just get a sink full of warm water, lather your hands up with soap and rub a pumis stone on your hands.  Works like a charm.


I ordered some wooden rings online in hopes to make my own hand kites for the girls.  Well they were a bit too small. Will read more carefully next time.  I decided to use them to make teething rings for a family gift.  I simply melted some beeswax, olive oil and cocoa butter in a small bowl.These are safe for kids to chew on and a wonderful all natural finish. I then dipped the unfinished wooden rings into them and laid them down on newspaper.  I heated the wooden rings in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt off excess oil and then let them cool.  I then simply looped them on some ribbon and I was DONE!  Pretty cute huh? These sell for up to $30 each on Etsy and about the same in shops.  My total cost was $6. Woot woot!


These are hand kites.  Children hold the ring and run around watching the ribbon fly in the wind.  They can also throw them into the air like a shooting star. I am in love with these.These also sell on Etsy for $7-10 each.  These two were soaked in beeswax, olive oil and cocoa butter.  Here is what I needed to make these.

Wooden Ring-found mine at Home Depot bag of 7 for 7.99. Found in the curtain department and unscrewed metal clips out of them. 
Ribbon-.50 cents each. I used 6
Total cost for the two-$5

How to make them cheaper?

I could of used ribbon I already had
I could of used something different than wooden rings but I liked these.
I did use a beeswax candle (bought from Goodwill) , olive oil from the kitchen and already owned cocoa butter(can leave out)
All items could of be bought from second hand stores

My girls will be very happy on Christmas and it was worth me sneaking around trying to make them.  One of a kind items are always better than any plastic toy you can just go buy.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

$50 a week and busting my budget

My husband gets paid once a month so I have to stick to a budget or there will be no money at the end of the month to buy groceries.  Each payday I go what I call big time shopping.  I buy a ton of bulk dried foods and a weeks worth of fresh food.  I then stash away $50 for each week so I can buy fresh items that cannot be stored for long.  Things like milk, eggs, and meat.  This allows me to have fresh food all month long and take advantage of weekly sales and seasonal food.  I do not plan any of our meals, instead I cook meals around what I find seasonal, local, organic and on sale.  This keeps my food budget down and keeps our meals interesting.  Check back each week so see what were eating and be sure to check Surviving And Thriving On Pennies on Facebook to see pictures of our dinner meals or just to get inspired!


$2.14 Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce (hubs doesn't like any of the natural kinds so its this that I buy)
$3.62 Oven Browned Turkey Deli Meat All Natural (on sale $3.99 per lb)
$2.17 Store Brand May (I cannot stand the all natural kind so I buy store brand)
$2.65 White Jasmine Rice
$5.98 Kraft Cheese ( cheapest one...not a fan but budget friendly)
TOTAL MINUS 5 cent bag credit =$16.70


$4.99 Organic Milk (switched to organic...thought about it freaked myself out again. Its back to organic)
$1.50 Organic Romain Lettuce (sale)
$3.63 10% ground beef all natural 1.
$3.42 10% ground beef all natural 1lb
TOTAL minus bag credit=13.49


$1.97 Organic Cannelloni bulk beans 1lb
$1.99 dozen vegetarian fed free range eggs
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half
$2.01 Organic Red Lentils 1lb
$2.99 Organic Gala Apples 3lbs
$3.99 Organic Fuji Apples 3lbs (rang up wrong, sign said $2.99. Of course I was in a hurry and didn't want to complain so I sucked up the $1 over charge. UURRRKKK!!!!)
$1.59 Fair Trade Banana's
$3.29 Tomatoes
$3.29 Tomatoes
$3.84 Italian Sausage Deli All Natural
$1.49 Tomato Paste (tried to avoid canned so picked this. Then realized that duh..its in a aluminum tube. CRAP)
$4.99 Dark Roast 3 Bean Blend Coffee


$2.49 Holiday Tortilla Chip
$1.69 Salsa
$11.69 Organic Noodles(cheapest organic ones I can find. These sell out often so I snagged a ton)


So as you can see I went over budget by lets just say A LOT. I blame a few things.
First of all big ticket items like coffee, cheese and lunch meat put a dent into my budget. Uggg
Trader Joe's has the cheapest organic noodles and always sell out of this particular kind.  I snagged as many as I could possibly pay for today.  It will save me money later but as of now its busting my budget. 
Last but not least some people have been complaining about not having anything to eat (aka snacks).  So I had to toss in a few bags of not so bad snacks. 
That being said I think I did pretty good.  Bought in bulk when I could, bought organic when I could and didn't buy anything not on my list. 
Last but not least I should get a gold metal for how fast I shopped.  There was bad traffic, tons of people Christmas shopping, and it was in the evening on a Saturday.  Yep I need a metal.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

$50 a week

 My husband gets paid once a month so I have to stick to a budget or there will be no money at the end of the month to buy groceries.  Each payday I go what I call big time shopping.  I buy a ton of bulk dried foods and a weeks worth of fresh food.  I then stash away $50 for each week so I can buy fresh items that cannot be stored for long.  Things like milk, eggs, and meat.  This allows me to have fresh food all month long and take advantage of weekly sales and seasonal food.  I do not plan any of our meals, instead I cook meals around what I find seasonal, local, organic and on sale.  This keeps my food budget down and keeps our meals interesting.  Check back each week so see what were eating and be sure to check Surviving And Thriving On Pennies on Facebook to see pictures of our dinner meals or just to get inspired!


$2.36 Saltines 2 boxes (I make peanut butter sandwiches for the girls lunches with these)
$1.69 Pretzels (snacks for lunches)

TOTAL minus bag refund =$3.99


$2.69 RBST free gallon of milk
$4.99 Organic carrots 5lbs
$2.99 Apples 3lbs (was cheapest organic option. Bag will be recycled)
.95 Brussels sprouts (if something is charged by the lb you can open up net bags. This way you only buy what you want. I did this)
$3.71 Natural beef meatballs (sale for $3.99 )
$4.07 Natural beef meatballs( broken down into smaller meatballs to stretch further.)

TOTAL minus bag refund=$19.35


$2.19 Organic dried garbanzo beans (no more caned beans..only buying in bulk from now on)
$3.99 Organic bagged apples 3lbs
$1.76 Organic Split Pea
$2.49 Sunshine Dairy local egg nog (YUMMY! and 1/2 price!!)
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Local Half n Half
$1.24 Fair Trade Banana's

TOTAL (bag refund donated to local charity)=$13.06


Also pictured is a great 6 pack of seasonal beer.  This was not taken out of our food budget and its more of a treat than anything.  We do this once in a while and anytime they have a seasonal beer we usually will buy that one.  You can only buy them once a year so we try new ones often. 

As you can see were under budget which means I can get things later if we run out of anything.  I also want to mention that my brother gave me a 50lb bag of oats for Christmas which should get some creative juices flowing in me.  I also was able to get 10 lbs of whole walnuts from a friend who lives on a farm.  I have shelled about 5lbs and put them in the freezer and have another 5lbs to do in the next couple of days.  These will be used for baked goods all year long.  My daughter watched a friends dogs for the weekend. They have 6 chickens that laid 4 eggs which I was able to keep.  And last but not least my friend Theresa gave me some organic produce that she could not eat up so I will be incorporating them into our meals.  This week has been really good for us.  Cheers

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ruby And Her Angels

When I think of Christmas it's not about my favorite things given to me.  It's not about the amazing food I ate.  Its not even about the (dare I say it?) tree.  I think of the moment I pull our Christmas boxes down from the garage and dig into them to find my favorite pieces.  Oh sure I could just run up to Target and buy some cheaply made plastic decorations.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  And for two reasons. 

2. Nothing is made to last

Today I am sharing my ultimate favorite Christmas things.  Enjoy and share if you have these or remember them.  I LOVE THEM!
I picked up this pretty thing at a little out of the way thrift store.  It reminds me of the angel decorations from when I was little.  Their expression on her face just makes me smile. 

Seriously how beautiful and delicate is this little pretty? Her glitter is almost all gone but you can still see sparkles here and there.  I'm pretty sure it was a ornament at one time but these days she sits on my fireplace mantle.  When I turn on my lights she sparkles ever so much. LOVE.

These are absolutely adorable.  They have some paint chipping off here and there but I fix that with some pens and paint.  Just look at their faces! I mean COME ON!

This little thing is my ALL TIME FAVORITE! My mother had one of these and I remember as a child always wanting to hold her.  I found this one at a thrift shop and almost peed when I saw it sitting on the shelf. I have no idea how old she is or how she lasted this many years but I am thankful she has made it to my home.  She sits atop a little tree we decorate each year and put on a table.  Perfect size!

Last year I found this party vintage paper party sign.  It is very old and again I have no idea how something like this could last this long.  Its one of those paper party signs you throw out after you use it.  I think some older couple from the depression kept this and finally let it go.  They held on to everything (including my grandmother) because they didn't have much and what they did have they treasured.  People these days are such a disposable mass of people. I just know kids these days will not have many things to cherish as I do.  My kids will be lucky because I treasure all of my things. Each year this sign will be up on our entry way beam for all to see.
Again here you see more paper decorations I found in thrift shops.  I find them, fix them and then laminate them to last for years and years.  I just love the curly hair around her cheeks. 
Then you have the cute little snow man with a winter hat and mittens.  Love the smile on him.

This Santa is one of my girls favorites.  From his Rosy pink cheeks to his fuzzy eye brows. 

And another snow man.  There is never enough of them. 
And then there are these.  I mean COME ON!!!! They seem to be made from bits of plastic melted together.  I have no idea how old they are but they look like they would be from the 40's-50's.  You see why I love thrift shops?
A new tradition is all thanks to my oldest daughter.  She has always loved nutcrackers so each year we get her a new one.  We moved to this home and these were lost in the shuffle.  So for one year they were not out and my daughter was so sad because she thought she lost them forever.  The next year we finally found them and it was like Christmas day for her.  They now live on our buffet side table each December protecting the tree. 

This year I turned one of my handmade plates, a ugly brass candle holder, a broken vintage pine candle ring and some smelly pine cones into a lovely table display.  I burn a apple/cinnamon candle which makes my home smell lovely.
Last but not least we have these.  My grandmother had ruby table wear stashed away and I always heard of it but never saw it.  When she passed away earlier this year we were going through her stuff and I stumbled upon all her ruby wear.  I swear I almost peed my pants.  It was like I hit gold and I screamed for my mom.  It now lives at my mothers place once again stashed away and never see the light of day. 
A few years ago I started collecting ruby wear from different stores.  Fred Meyers and Target were selling them for just a few years and I only allowed myself to buy them if they were at least 50% off.  I now proudly own 6pc setting of wine glasses, goblets, mugs, bowls, plates and large bowls.  I now proudly own two green pieces of glass bowls that were my grandmothers.  Each year we use these every day from December to all the way up to Valentines day.  It's something my girls look forward to and I love the beautiful smiles on their faces when we bring them out.