Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Look What Gail Did!

I love it when I happen across super crafty bloggers and Gail at My Repurposed Life is one of those!  After finding a kitchen hutch at a thrift store she gave it a fabulous makeover.  Check it out!

Great job Gail!

Want to know all the steps she took to get this fabulous hutch?  Click here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Getting Ready For Camping Season

After selling our travel trailer when we moved back into our house the last thing I wanted to do was go camping.  But the bug has bitten me once again and I am excited to get out in the woods and play.

This time around I want to be a lot more minimalistic with our gear.  As much as I miss my Scamp and as crazy as I am about retro travel trailers, at this point in my life I have no desire to own another one.  Maybe later, but not right now.

Over the past year I have been collecting stuff for us to camp with.  I went through the house and pulled some things together to put in our camp box.  We've had this box for years and it has served us well.  It has done everything from storing food and supplies to bathing dirty little girls that had way too much fun. J

So much of our gear was old and I had sold it at a yard sale so we were basically starting from scratch.  One of the first things I bought was a 3 man tent on sale at Fred Meyer.  I got it at the end of the season so I was able to save a bundle.

For Christmas I got the girls mess kits and Go Bags.  Later I bought myself a mess kit and assembled my own bag.  Most recently I bought two sleeping bags, three camp pads an LED flashlight and an LED lantern.  That pretty much took care of my checklist.

Fortunately most of what we needed we already had.  I spent less than $200 on gear, not including the girl's mess kits and Go Bags as those were Christmas gifts.  I thought that was pretty darn good.

We have a State Park Pass that I bought for $10 when I licensed my car at the DMV.  We had one last year and only used it twice which more than paid for itself.  I plan to use it a whole lot more this year and really get my money's worth.

I'm ready for some fun!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I spent most of Sunday sewing and it was heavenly.  A whole weekend devoted to sewing, almost never happens.  I managed to finish putting my Americana stencil quilt top together and it is turning out better than I imagined.  I can hardly wait to show you all when it is finished.  Whoo hoooo!

We took a break around 3:00 in the afternoon Sunday to run down to the fruit stand and pick up a flat of strawberries they had on sale for $8.95.  Then off to Fred Meyer as we were out of milk and they had fresh raspberries on for 99¢ per container (I bought the limit of four).  I also grabbed several bags of chips so I could stock up for Memorial Day, an upcoming picnic and some other fun events we have planned.  I used a $1.00 OFF $5 in Kroger chips coupon Fred Meyer sent me in the mail too so one bag was free!

My youngest and I took turns slicing up the strawberries.  Actually she did most of them.  Over the course of three days we laid them out on cookies sheets and froze them to put in bags.  I did the same with the raspberries.  We'll use them in desserts, jam, yogurt and just to eat.  Yum!

After work Monday the young one and I gave the coop a light cleaning and added fresh bedding.  We composted the chicken poo and dirty bedding.  We pulled up a huge pile of dandelion greens in the backyard and fed them to the hens.  We also gave them all the strawberry trimmings.  They were quite happy and stocked us very well with eggs last week.

Kitty in the strawberry box

A friend gave me a coupon for 50% OFF at JoAnns.  I used it to buy four more yards of off white muslin for $8.  I plan to use most of it to back the American stencil quilt and the rest will be used for more projects I have planned. J

I bought two brushes from Amazon for only $1.85! Free shipping too.  That totally beats the $ Store.  I used the smaller one for my Go Bag and the other one will be kept as a spare until somebody needs it.

The girls and I used some dish towels to make drawstring bags (post coming) for our mess kits for camping.  Fun little project to do together.  We were able to use up some things I had in my sewing stash including some wide grosgrain ribbon I had saved that was tied around a stack of wash cloths I had purchased a couple months ago and another one that was tied around a fleece throw my daughter received as a gift.  I knew they would come in handy.

We made a double batch of granola and four pints of vanilla yogurt.

I trimmed my bangs.

We washed out a two gallon Ziploc bag and a few quart sizes to reuse.

We returned books to the library and checked out more.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, May 20, 2016

No Garden This Year

As a family we have decided not to put in a garden this year.  We discussed at length that because we have quite a few activities planned for the summer and my oldest will be in school full time that it would be best for all of us to lighten our load a bit this summer.  Gardening was the one thing we felt would take a significant amount of our time so reluctantly we decided to let it go.

After making that decision we all decided we now have the opportunity to improve our backyard space.  We have several projects we've been considering:

Expand our chicken coop area
Rebuild our raised garden beds and planting areas
Build a better compost bin
Add a potting shed
Improve our soil
Continue to improve the lawn and flowerbeds
Rebuild our gate
Add rain barrels

I like these ideas a lot and am hopeful that we can do a few of these things this summer.  I especially like the idea of adding on to the chicken coop to give the ladies more space to run about and play.  A potting shed would be nice too.

More importantly I'm looking forward to the other activities we have planned for the summer.  Stay tuned. J

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Under The Kitchen Sink

I was definitely not in love with the cabinet under the kitchen sink.  Ever since I bought this house over twenty one years ago it has bugged the heck out of me.  Dark, dingy and dirty looking.  The wood interior was really difficult to keep clean.  Finally I did something about it.

Simply abysmal

After work a couple weeks ago the girls and I headed off to Home Depot.  I needed a few things for various projects on one of my To Do lists.  While there I picked up a quart of primer, a disposable paint brush and six vinyl self adhesive floor tiles.

Not sure what those two wet looking spots are.
Never could get them to go away no matter how hard I scrubbed.

The oldest and I cleared out the cabinet before I scrubbed it clean with some heavy duty all purpose cleaner.  Once it had dried inside we measured and cut the vinyl tiles to fit inside the cabinet and around the water lines. 

She and I took turns painting the inside of the cabinet with the white primer.  The wood was so old and stained that I figured regular white paint would have a lot of bleed through.  This way the primer would seal up the wood and later, if I wish I can come back and add a coat of white paint.

Can you believe this?!

After the primer dried I peeled off the paper backing and pressed the tiles into place.  Then I sat back and said "Wow!"

Not scary anymore

What a difference this simple little low cost project has made.  It only took about two hours, start to finish, including drying time.  I washed out the plastic bin I keep my cleaning supplies in and then filled it back up before putting everything away in there.

I decided I'll touch up the exposed wood edges
when we refinish the cabinets.

I spent $7.68 for the quart of primer and the six vinyl tiles were only 69¢ each plus 99¢ for the paint brush.  I hardly used any of the primer so I have plenty left to use on future projects of which I am sure there will be plenty

So much better, I can't even tell you.

Now I am in love with the cabinet under my kitchen sink.  Why did I wait so long?  It is bright and clean and it will be so much easier to keep it that way too.  My daughter wants us to do this to the upstairs bathroom cabinet next.  I'm sure we probably will. J 

I'm excited to get started on another kitchen project now!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How I Acquire Our Clothing On A Budget

Recently I shared with you that we don’t own a lot of clothing.  Now I thought I'd share with you how I go about acquiring our clothing on a budget.  On the whole I don't spend a lot of money on clothing.  That being said it is my goal to spend those dollars on the best quality items I possibly can.  I find that by investing my dollars in higher quality items I don't need to replace them as often.  They simply last longer.

With growing children it is much more of a challenge to keep them clothed than it is to clothed myself.  I begin by trying to anticipate their needs ahead of time, especially when it comes to school clothes.

I start out by doing an inventory of what we have.  I keep a list of items I know we will need.  I am always in shopping mode when it comes to clothing.  I purchase continually so I don't have to buy all at once.  The children's needs come first and then I work on my own wardrobe.

Clearance Racks

My favorite place to shop are the clearance racks at the end of the season.  By anticipating our needs and estimating my girl's growth rate I buy ahead with sizes and fortunately this has worked out well.  Saving up to 90% on an item of clothing makes me very happy.

Store Coupons & Sales

I take advantage of store coupons, additional percentage off offers, online sales and free shipping.  Anytime I can combine a sales or clearance price with a coupon or additional percentage off means I keep more money in my pocket.

Second Hand

I carefully purchase second hand.  This worked really well when it came to clothing my children when they were younger.  Baby and toddler clothing sees relatively little wear so it is a good value to purchase second had.  As they entered grade school it got harder in that children tend to wear out their clothes, however I still found some wonderful tops, coats, sweaters, skirts and fancy dresses to be a great value.  Jean and pants were hit and miss as the knees tended to be worn out.

I also purchase second hand online, in particular eBay.  I've found quite a few lovely items for myself on eBay as many people will purchase clothes and never or rarely wear them.  They resell them on eBay for a fraction of the cost they paid and I end up with a nice new or a seldom worn item.

Sew, Mend & Repurpose

I'm not much of a seamstress when it comes to making clothing, but I do well with simple items, especially robes, pajamas and shorts.  When my daughter needed track shorts last year we headed to the fabric store with a coupon and bought a yard and a half of grey fleece to make her two pair of shorts for less than the cost of one pair on sale.

I mend things as they need it to make them last longer and keep them nice and in good condition.  Every summer I usually end up chopping the legs off of my youngest daughter's worn out jeans, hemming them and making them into shorts.

Hand Me Downs

We happily accept the offer of hand me downs.  My girls have received several nice items from friends and I've been given things from co-workers too.  One of my co-workers had a girl two years older than my girls so it was really nice when two or three times a year she would bring me a bag of clothes for the girls to have.


I include clothing items in my gift giving.  Christmas stockings quite often have socks in them.  I try to give the girls a new outfit or a significant piece of clothing for their birthday and Christmas.


Shoes are always bought on sale and with a coupon too whenever possible.  We take turns so I am not buying shoes for all of us at the same time.  Staggering these purchases makes it much more affordable.  At the end of summer I stock up on clearance sale flip flops and sandals, usually around $3 a pair, sometimes even less.

Keeping our wardrobes relatively small means we need fewer things.  Buying higher quality items helps our things wear better and last longer.  Staggering our purchases means we aren't pressed to shop and buy all at one giving me time to find what we need at the best possible price.  Spending as little as possible on those items keeps more money in my pocket and lowers the financial strain on our budget.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Joy In Creating

We all create in different ways.  My medium, I think, is in thread and fabric.  

I love to embroider and I feel it is my greatest talent.  While some paint or draw I do my art with a needle and floss.  I thoroughly enjoy it.  I think I get that talent from my great-grandmother.

I just love this tea towel with a rooster embroidered on it.

My mother is a very gifted and talented seamstress.  She seriously can make anything.  When it came to my talents with a sewing machine I'm afraid I'm not nearly as blessed as she is.  Those talents simply weren't passed down to me.  I struggled for years to learn to sew well and because I tend to be a perfectionist, and my work was anything but, I ended up hating it.  I really wanted to be good at it, however, so after taking breaks from time to time I would go back and try again.

Finally I figured out how to make it work for me.  I do fairly well with simple things.  And a lot of patience.  Well, patience was never my strong suit, but I finally realized that if I would just practice it I did much better.

My mother's advice to buy a decent machine was also very helpful.  Fighting a temperamental sewing machine hadn't helped me much and only served to add to my frustration.  Now that I have a good machine, simple and easy to thread and operate, I've really enjoyed the process.

Pink chenille throw pillow

Once I had a few successes under my belt I was able to sew with much more confidence.  After all these years I really enjoy sewing and I am eager and excited to do it more and more.  Most of what I make is simple and I really enjoy making items that are useful in our daily lives.  From dish towels and tea towels to curtains and valances.  Decorative items like throw pillows and doilies too.  I'm ready to begin quilting again and that is exciting too.

Pretty scarf and ear warmer.
I learned to make the ear warmer on Youtube.

I crochet and knit a bit and I really enjoy it as well.  Again I do basic simple things and I hope to expand my talents.  Thanks to Youtube I've been able to learn to make a few new things.  I'm not great at reading and understanding patterns so watching videos has made all the difference for me.

There is a lot of satisfaction in creating things to make our life nicer and a little prettier, I think.  For me it brings a lot of joy as well.