Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

Archive for the ‘Money-Saving Tips’ Category

Fun and Creative Costume Memories

We never bought a costume when I was a child. As a result, I’ve always loved putting together costumes with items and clothing we already had at home.

To this day, I can remember this beautiful, full-length, paisley skirt that I wore quite a few times as a gypsy outfit (and sometimes just to play in). What it was originally purchased for, I haven’t a clue. All I had to do was add a white peasant blouse, big hoop earrings, perhaps a scarf around my head, a few bangles on my wrists, and voila!

Hey, it was in the 1970′s. What mom didn’t have a few extra bangles, a scarf and a pair of big hoop earrings that her daughter could borrow? :D

I loved that skirt. I would twirl around and then quickly sit down on the ground so the skirt would swirl and settle in a full circle around me. Golds, browns, creams, and orange surrounded me. I felt like a royal gypsy princess!

Other years, I’d grab my dad’s army cap and field jacket, a branch from our backyard, tie a red bandana filled w/pebbles or socks at the end of the branch and go trick-or-treating as a hobo (bum). Oh yes, and wipe some charcoal on my face for a’dirt’ effect. Didn’t cost a cent! As far as trick-or-treat bags go? I believe we always used pillow cases.

As I grew older, I put together costumes in college for Halloween Dances and/or Masquerade Dances. Sometimes bits of them were borrowed from roommates. Occasionally, my mom would send me something she picked up at a yard sale. One time she sent a bright pink flapper dress that had black fringe on it! That was a fun costume! Luckily, I already had black high heels and a long pearl necklace to add to it.

This Storm Trooper costume was good for a few years of trick-or-treating!

Years later, I became a mom. That opened up a whole new world of playing dress-up with my son and realizing there weren’t a lot of dress-up, fun clothes for boys in the world. So I pulled out my sewing machine (I’m not a seamstress but I can sew fairly well, just don’t ask me to put in zippers or elastic), bought some fabric, hunted in thrift stores or yard sales, and pulled from my clothing, my husband’s, and my son’s clothing to create various costumes for school projects, Halloween, or just for fun.

Have any other mothers run into this shortage of boys’ costumes for playing dress-up and Halloween? What great DIY costumes have you put together? I’d love to hear about them. 🙂

Copyright 2012, 2013 – All rights reserved.

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The Night Before Delivery

(A nod to Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.)

The Night Before Delivery

Twas the night before delivery
When all through our home
We were sweating, trying to sleep
but tossing and turning, dreaming of gnomes.

The area was cleared, laundry was done and removed
For we had received a phone call with news…oh, what news!

What had planned to be a Wednesday delivery
Had been moved up to Tuesday. Oh gee!

So Hubby in his boxers and I in my pj’s
Had finally settled down for a cozy night of sleep…NAY!

When out in the driveway there sounded a loud beep!
I rushed to the kitchen and made ready to greet.

Opening the garage door I threw up the switch
Turned on the light and I began to twitch!

***

The sun on the pavement and bright white truck & van
Made my heart flutter as my eyes tried to scan.

Hark! What to my tired and bleary eyes should appear?
But a van and two trucks with five workmen in gear.

With a tall young driver, so prompt and polite
I knew in a moment, everything would be alright.

More rapid than greyhounds, introductions were made.
And he pointed and shouted and called them by name.

“Here’s Todd. Now Dave! Now Michael and Dixon!
Now on to the plans we have for a fixin’.
To the inside of the garage and the side of the house!
We need to detach, remove, install and replace for her spouse!”

As bees set to work on cleaning the hive
When they carry the debris to the outside,
So on to the old units the workmen encroached
With a truck full of tools and the Supervisor’s approach.

And then in a flurry, I heard the men chatter
Then the clinking and clanking of wrenches and hammer.

As I withdrew to my home, and was closing the door
The Supervisor quickly said, “There is more!”

***

He was dressed in his uniform, so clean and so pressed
A striking comparison to me who was so rumpled and depressed.

A clipboard and pen were ready at hand,
He went over the details, waved over my land.

***

His eyes were so bright! His smile so happy!
His demeanor so nice! Whereas I was quite flappy!

His voice was too pleasant for me at this early time.
And I almost swore that he may have mimed!

But the clipboard he held with pen tight in his hand
Was bouncing and moving as if in a band.

He told me of supplies, measurements, time, and expectations.
With barely 5 hours of sleep, I’m not sure I heard all the information.

He was fairly thin and agile, a right pleasing good fellow.
And I laughed when he told me I would soon be able to mellow.

A flick of his head to his workers, the four
And he was off for supplies for an hour or more.

When he came back with supplies, the workers they pounced.
They were ready to finish. They grabbed, strolled and bounced.

And turning again, he drove off with a wave,
And I turned and walked wistfully back into my cave.

***

Then the team called me out, the new HVAC was installed!
And they all drove away. I was so glad I called.

 And I heard their comments so clear in my head,
“Happy Sleeping to you!” The four of them said.

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.


A Christmas Tree Story

Yes, it’s a Christmas Miracle

The way the cost of Christmas trees have skyrocketed over the past 5-10 years, I really didn’t think we could afford to get a tree this year. Not that I mind, we’ve gone without before due to the cost. We have a couple of large plants that look particularly charming wrapped in white lights. 🙂 However, I must admit I miss the scent of pine trees in my home at Christmas time.

As it happened, one of our neighbors’ homes was broken into about a week or so ago (was just tossed, nothing stolen or damaged), and the owner asked my husband to help install some security measures on the windows and around the house. My husband has done quite a bit of work for this person in the past, including a complete kitchen renovation.

He was happy to help and hadn’t planned on charging for his time. However, after a couple of hours worth of work, he was paid for his time and expertise. Thank you, neighbor!! With this unexpected money, we went and bought a tree. Behold!!!

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Another Christmas Miracle

My husband and son came home with this tree and a great story to tell. (I had food in the oven so I couldn’t go with them that day). Here is their story:

They looked at this tree and really loved it, but balked at the price tag: $85!!! Moving on, they looked at a few other smaller trees (still expensive but do-able). Noting how much they liked the bigger and more expensive tree, the tree guy offered them a deal. He told them that he had trimmed off a bit of this tree already so they could have it for $50 instead of the $85.

My husband and son looked at each other and quickly agreed. That was exactly how much our neighbor paid my husband. It was meant to be! The only money we spent on it from our own pockets was the tax. We got this big, beautiful tree for $3.31 $3.13. How cool is that??? 😀

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

I saved $41.22 at the grocery store with only 1 coupon!

Yup. You read that correctly. I saved $41.22 at the grocery store yesterday. Woo-hoo!! 😀  This is a personal best for me. Here’s proof:

**Happy Dance**

And the kicker?? I used only ONE coupon! **gasp** Yes, that’s right. Only ONE 50-cent coupon.

I used to shop once a week when both of us were producing steady, reliable incomes. For several years now, my husband’s income has been intermittent (more steady recently but still we never know if he’ll get a full week’s worth of work-he’s a carpenter), and my income has been negligible so we shop on a daily basis.

I also stopped using coupons years ago on a consistent basis because 1) my Mac couldn’t print out online coupons; 2) we stopped buying the Sunday paper long ago; 3) my husband or I would forget them or would take them and forget to give them to the cashier.

I’ve gotten back into using coupons again because I now have access to online coupons (thank you to the coupon people for programming this ability for the Mac computers!). I am also following the weekly sales at our grocery store more consistently.

Double coupons

As a side note, unfortunately, no one in town has a double coupon day. When I was out west in Washington state, it was wonderful! Not only could you shop at discount grocery stores but they would have double coupon days every Wednesday.

A few times every year, I call up a few of the local Publix stores, and ask if they have a double coupon day and sadly, they’ve never said, “yes”. I keep telling them they really should have one but to no avail. It’s been 15+ years now and it doesn’t look like they will ever change. Also, the other two local grocery stores don’t have them either. I checked. 😦

How did I save all this money then?

The weekly ad this week just happened to be filled with Buy One Get One Free offers on products we use regularly: olive oil, pasta sauce, cheese, ketchup, pasta, crackers, sour cream, baked potato chips, and salad dressing my husband likes. Then, items like flour, orange juice, and sugar were marked down in price. Add to that, sale prices on broccoli, cauliflower and apples and I made out like a bandit!

I saved $40.72 on store sales alone!

The 50-cent coupon was for the crackers which brought the total savings to….$41.22!! Woo-hoo!!

The only things I had to pay full price for were the toiletries and paper goods (paper towels, toothpaste, floss, band-aids), but I’ll get them on sale in the next few weeks, I’m sure. 🙂

Do you like to save on groceries too? Tell me about your savings success stories! I’d love to hear about them.

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

Suit up, it’s Halloween!

Some of the most creative and fun costumes are made within hours or minutes of trick-or-treating.  Use what you have on hand, swap clothes with your brothers and/or sisters and/or parents.  Just make sure you have permission, of course.

One prime example is this Man in Black costume my son wore several years ago.  It was great!  I think the shades really made it. 🙂

Man In Black

Man in Black

He used one of my husband’s old suits, (from hubby’s bank management days) along with a tie.  We already had the white Oxford shirt but a polo shirt with a collar could work as well), and you don’t have to worry about shoes.  Sneakers (any color) work beautifully with this look.  You do have to have sunglasses for this costume, they really cap it off.  Everything, totally free!  Not one cent spent.

Sadly, I believe this was the last year my son trick-or-treated because some idiot at the far, far end of our neighborhood got really angry with him, yelled that our son was too old for trick-or-treating, and refused to give him candy.  My son’s feelings got hurt and when I found out, I was appalled.

Had I been out with him that night instead of my husband, I would have given that man a piece of my mind.  No one messes with my son!!  I believe it was the first night I’ve ever thought about egging someone’s house.  I never was allowed out on Mischief Night (the night before Halloween up north) as a child.  This Halloween night, I was very close to following through but…I didn’t.  I have to say, though, the thought of it gave me some joy.

My son was only 14 or 15 years old at the time and, honestly, what would it have cost this guy to give a bite-size piece of candy to my son.  Really!  Life is too short to dash someone’s fun, especially when that fun is harmless.  This guy not only stole that Halloween from my son but it prevented him from going out for his last two years of high school. 😦

Rules of trick-or-treating

I say you can trick-or-treat right through high school as long as you’re creative about it.  I don’t like it when it’s obvious that the teenagers didn’t put any thought into their costumes or aren’t even wearing costumes!!  That’s just wrong because it honestly doesn’t take a lot of effort to be creative.

And if you’re wondering…yes, I’m the woman who makes you say “Trick-or-Treat!!” before you get the candy.  😀  I had noticed the children were slacking off on this wonderful tradition several years ago.  The following year I didn’t have to remind anyone to say it.  🙂

Dorian Gray

In my son’s senior year in high school, they had a dress-up day for Halloween with a theme: come as a character in a book.  He chose Dorian Gray and yup, we used the same black suit.

I grabbed an old jean vest I had from my college days, a scrap of white muslin left over from some curtains I made years ago, and one round pearl-like earring.  We used the same white Oxford shirt, folded up the collar, wrapped the piece of muslin around his neck and formed a beautiful ascot, then took my earring and pierced it through the center of the ascot.  My son loved the way he looked and how he felt in this costume: rich.  It was quite impressive.  😀

Rich Man

This exact same suit can also be used if you want to dress as a “rich or wealthy man” for Halloween.  Just add a pocket watch and a cane for trick-or-treating.

What costumes have you made from a suit?

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

Baking powder instead of baking soda

Several years ago, when I went to make my dairy-free, egg-less chocolate cake recipe, I discovered I was out of baking soda.  (The recipe called for baking soda and red cider vinegar.) I looked online to find the substitution measurement of baking powder vs. baking soda so I could use what I had on hand in the kitchen: baking powder.

On a cooking site (forgive me, I’m not sure which one it was), they recommend using 3 tsp. of baking powder to replace the 1 tsp. of baking soda (minus the vinegar).

Okay, fine.  Skip ahead to one or two years ago, I was running low on baking powder. I only had 2 tsp. of baking powder left.  My desire for cake won out and I used the 2 tsp. and baked the cake anyway. I thought I’d just have a denser cake, which was fine by me.  It would still taste just as good. 🙂

‘Lo and behold!! My cake was as high, if not a little higher with only 2 tsp. of baking powder versus the 3 tsp. I’ve used all this time! I was pleasantly surprised!

Why? For two reasons. 1) This meant my baking powder would last longer, and 2) It decreased the amount of sodium in the cake. (We’re being careful about how much sodium we’re using in our diets.)

The calculations:

55 mg of sodium per 1/8 tsp.  = 440 mg of sodium per 1 tsp.

I was using 3 tsps. so…3 x 440 =  1320 mg sodium for a single-layer 9-inch cake!

Granted, you don’t eat one entire cake in one sitting but still, that’s a lot of sodium.  I broke that down to 220 mg per slice out of 6 generous slices, (remember, it’s only a one layer cake).

Versus: 2 x 440 = 880 mg sodium.  That’s about 147 mg of sodium per slice using the 6 generous slices example.

Now for the fun, money-saving part!

The container says there are 383 servings per container.  Remember, the servings are 1/8 tsp., so 383 divided by 8 = 47.875 or about 48 tsps. of baking powder per container. If you use 3 tsps. each time, you get 16 single-layer cake uses out of one container.

However…if you use 2 tsps. each time, you get to bake 24 single-layer cakes instead of 16 out of the same amount of baking powder from the same container!!!  🙂  Woo-hoo! 8 more cakes before I need to buy another container of baking powder!

In times like these, I’ll take that savings! 🙂  LOL  Life’s simplest pleasures.

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

My Savings on Work Shorts!

As some of you know, we are awaiting news about our college son’s wrist surgery coming up and are dreading what the costs are going to be for that.  Luckily, he has insurance through the college that we pay for so that will help…some.  As self-employed people, we don’t have insurance, and my business hasn’t proven profitable yet, so it’s even more critical that we save money wherever we can.  I’m happy to report the following:

Today was a good day.  I saved us $126.45!  I think I deserve chocolate.

My husband has been using regular cotton cargo shorts for work shorts for a couple of years now and they are almost shredded.  They’re also a bit too long for him because his tool belt is so heavy it drags them down a little and when he kneels, his knees catch the legs and he either trips or tears.  Now, well, the tears are too big to ignore.  It’s time for new work shorts.

While these regular shorts lasted for a time (longer than you’d imagine), they didn’t last as long and weren’t as rugged as his Carhartt’s so I was on a mission to find a good deal on those shorts for him.  He’s been looking for replacement shorts for a few weeks now locally with no success in his size.  That was a sign for me to step in.  **rubs hands together**  I’m on it!

Success!!  I found the Carhartt work shorts he needs at the right length, the right weight of fabric (it’s bloody HOT and HUMID here in Florida so the lighter weight canvas shorts are best), and the right price!  In fact, I got an even better deal than I imagined!

Regular price was $32.99 each, and they were on sale for $19.99.  I thought that was a very good price for the quality (we bought these work shorts years ago from this same site) PLUS they are having a sale (last day is tomorrow) PLUS if you order a certain amount, shipping/handling only costs you .50 cents.  That’s right…50 CENTS! 🙂

Now…get this…it seems that if you order 2 or more, they take an additional amount off of the items but you don’t find this out until you look at your shopping cart.  I ended up paying only $16.99 for each pair of shorts!!  😀  Because of this, we ordered an extra pair.  See?  It pays to pretend you’re checking out to see if an additional sale price comes through. 🙂

The Breakdown:

7 pairs of shorts x $32.99 = $230.93

7 pairs of shorts x $16.99 = $ 118.93

Savings of——————–>$ 112.00

PLUS savings of s/h——->$    14.45

TOTAL SAVINGS  ——->$126.45

Every little bit helps and this is a huge savings for us!  **Happy Dance**

Interestingly enough, although I don’t shop for clothing very often at all (once every several years), I am usually very lucky.  I seem to stumble upon sales that will be ending either that day or the next day, just like today.  Thank you, shopping goddesses! 😀

Have you had any recent shopping successes you’d like to share?

Special note: I have provided the link to the online site where I shopped today for your convenience.  I am not paid by Carhartt or the Cabela’s site in any way, shape or form for mentioning them.

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.