Friday, June 29, 2007

Frugal Fridays - Frugal Scrapbooking

I'm a scrapbooker. Correction: I'm a wanna-be scrapbooker. I love playing around with the papers, the do-dads (not the official name but you know what I mean), the adhesives, the stamps, the pens... I just about went into a happy scrapping day dream there but back to my post. All of these things can become rather expensive. What's a creative frugal mama to do?

- Always, always watch for sales. Hobby Lobby has some great 50% off sales. Michael's regularly puts their acid free cardstock on sale.

- Check clearance areas. Target and Hobby Lobby are two of my favorites for clearance stuff.

- Keep your eyes open at any store you might visit. I've heard that Big Lots and some Dollar Stores sometimes have a nice scrapbooking section. I haven't actually looked for myself yet.

- Yard sales or thrift stores. Lots of people try a craft and don't like it so their things end up in a yard sale for us to find. I've seen albums (still in the shrink wrap), kits, rubber stamps, pretty much anything.

- E-bay or websites. I can lose a lot of time browsing e-bay if I'm not careful. There are some good buys and some junk. To me e-bay is most helpful when I'm looking for something specific and can't pay the retail price.

- Trade with friends. If you have friends who are fellow crafters you can sometimes trade things that you ended up not liking or using. Your mistake may be a blessing to someone else.

- Develop a traditional, minimalist style. Sure a lot of the do-dads are cute but do they really add much to your pictures? It's about preserving your history and those precious family moments, not about how much bling you display on one page. This is your chance to be creative but that doesn't have to mean spending the big bucks.

- Use what you have. Most of us who enjoy (or think we enjoy) scrapbooking have plenty of supplies. Be honest when evaluating and then purpose not to buy anything else until you've finished a set amount of pages, used a certain amount of supplies, or whatever you determine. Then stay out of the stores until that happens.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my scrap stash is calling my name! If you've got scrapbooking tips I didn't mention please leave them in my comments - I'd love some more ideas! And find lots of great frugal tips on many different things at Biblical Womanhood, hosted by Crystal.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Email phrases to avoid

As I read a book about Email - yes, there is an entire book about email, who knew? - I came across this list:

Stupid (and Real) Email Phrases That Wound up in Court

2. Do NOT tell Joe.
3. Can we get away with it?
4. They'll never find out.
5. I have serious concerns.
6. I don't care what the [heck] you do*
7. This might not be legal.

These just tickled my funny-bone today. I especially liked numbers 2 & 4. Reminds me of two small girls I happen to know...

Stage whisper from 2 feet away from me, "Don't tell Mom".

The book is called Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, by David Shipley & Will Schwalbe. So if you have any pressing issues concerning email you might look it up. Or not. What on earth can a book tell you about emaling that you, the intrepid Blog reader, don't already know? I know I read it, but I'll read almost anything.

I suppose if I ever get an email using one of the above phrases I'm now duty bound to contact the authorities. I'm just letting you know in case anyone ever planned to include me in a conspiracy. I'm not your girl. I'm a tattler from way back. Just ask my poor sisters (known around here as Lulu & Princess). I follow the rules even when there are none. I actually make up rules for fun.

I found rules I had no idea existed in this book. Things concerning who to cc in emails, who to bcc, when to forward...Not that I'll ever need anything like this. Most of my email goes to the previously mentioned sisters and also to Prince Charming. Who actually, you know, lives with me. But I still like to email him. Now I'm thinking I should try to find a way to work one of these phrases into the emails I send him although I can pretty much guarantee that any email that uses the phrase, "I have serious concerns" is going to send my beloved running. Because it will no doubt concern such fun topics as potty training, discipline problems, or budget issues.

*I edited this one

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WFMW - Special Storage Shelf

I've mentioned a few kid storage tips in the past. You can browse my handy dandy links on the side if you're interested in reading those. Here's another tip because, as those of you with children know, you can never have enough storage. Just when you think you've got it covered, someone has a birthday. And somehow no matter how much you donate to Goodwill or sell in a yardsale, there's some special process in which books, My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets, and whatnot just multiply like rabbits. Is there some scientist trying to figure that out?

Anyway, for all those necessary child-life accessories, you need storage. Here's one of my secret weapons. This is a very tall shelf that we bought when a local K-Mart went out of business. In its former life it displayed blue jeans. Now it holds most of the girls' books. Not all, because some are too large to fit but most books are here. The two big boxes of Duplos are also stored here (you can just glimpse one of them behind Polly).

On the visible side is a ribbon board the girls and I made with Prince Charming's mother. They display cards, pictures and drawings here. Prince Charming simply put screws into the side of the shelf and hung the board that way. It's made of foam core so it isn't very heavy.

The beauty of this system is things are stored where the girls need them. Their socks are stored in the white wicker baskets. The board books are stored very low so that Tigger can get them. The picture books are a bit higher so that Polly can get them and put them away. (That's very important!) Chapter books are stored on the higher shelves where I can get them when we want them.

Since this was a store fixture it's very heavy. My girls are not climbers but if they were I'd probably secure the shelf to the wall. We don't store anything heavy on top. At the top we put a few stuffed animals but nothing else. This shelf was much less expensive than some shelves I've seen for sale and it's heavier (which made it kind of a trick to get home!). It works for me! Check out lots of great tips as Rocks in my Dryer, hosted by Shannon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

They don't stay Bitty

When you're five and (almost) three years old there are few things more exciting than getting an unexpected package in the mail. It's not Christmas, not your birthday - in other words you have no reason to be expecting any mail much less a big United States Post Office shipping box. We had this kind of blessing last week.

Prince Charming's Aunt Jackie sent these adorable dresses all the way from Florida. Pink for Polly and her Bitty Baby (Baby Lisa Pink) and Blue for Tigger and her Bitty Baby (Baby Sammy Lisa). Yes, they named their babies themselves. And yes, you have to say the whole name when referring to the baby. As in, "Someone better pick up Baby Lisa Pink before I run the vacuum" or "No, Baby Sammy Lisa cannot play outside!" If Prince Charming or I just say "Lisa" or "Sammy" my intelligent daughters will have no idea who we're talking about, even if we are actually holding the aforesaid baby.

Aunt Jackie also sent this sweet dress for Sweet Pea, although she didn't make it. (Polly told Sweet Pea not to worry about it - Aunt Jackie would probably sew her something when she's bigger...)

So Sunday morning the girls dressed in their new finery. And Baby Lisa Pink and Baby Sammy Lisa got to go to church too, because of course, everyone needed to see the matching dresses. Thanks to Aunt Jackie and Grandma my girls and their babies have a better wardrobe than I do. (Just kidding! Sort of.)

But I felt a twinge of sadness as I looked at these pictures. Polly received her special baby when Tigger was born, almost three years ago. And Tigger received her special baby just before Sweet Pea was born and Sweet Pea is already 4 months old. Where did the time go? Just yesterday each of these precious girls was my bitty baby.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friendship Bread, Falsely So-Called

This has been a busy day. Baking. Yes, an entire afternoon spent baking. Some well-meaning soul (o.k, it was my mom, aka Gram) "gifted" me with some Amish Friendship Bread starter a few weeks ago.

Friendship bread sounds so loving doesn't it? It's sharing some of my favorite things (baking & eating!) and the Amish connection harkens back to a simpler, calmer time. So, I should love it, right?

Wrong. This is another mouth to feed. It's not quite as hungry as a toddler but it eats flour, sugar & milk like nobody's business. Last time, after dutifully caring for this concoction for 10 days, I mixed up my first batch of bread. I also had three other portions to freeze because any of my friends who might actually want Amish Friendship Bread already have it, from the same wonderful soul that passed it to Gram and I'm not ready to inflict, I mean bless, anyone else with it.

So back to the original story, I made my first batch last week. I only have one loaf pan so I used a different pan for the excess. Not a smart move. My one loaf turned out pretty well but the extra just burned. I let the girls eat the part that wasn't burned straight off the plate, before Prince Charming came home. (I wasn't exactly trying to hide it but he's been skeptical of this bread since Gram gave it to me and he doesn't need more ammunition...)

A bit discouraged I resolved to try again in 10 days. So I've "mushed" the bag (yes, that's the technical word for it - the instructions say to) and fed it its flour, sugar, & milk rations. And today I baked again. I baked a lot.

I made Amish Friendship Bread, Amish Friendship Coffee Cake, Amish Friendship Cookies, and the makings of Amish Friendship Cinnamon Rolls are rising in my kitchen as we speak (as I type and you read, I mean). Every non-metal dish in my kitchen has been used. (Because you can't use metal bowls or utensils on the Amish Friendship Batter). Everyone, you should know, my kitchen looks like a toddler threw flour, sugar, and batter up at the ceiling fan and let 'er rip. Which she didn't. That I know of...

"But Karen", I can hear you say, "At least you have lots of goodies to eat, now." Well, you'd be almost right. After mixing & making all these things I don't even want to look at them, much less eat them. Prince Charming, bless his discriminating taste buds, is not very fond of anything made with Amish Friendship Batter, saying "It all tastes like that bread." The girls on the other hand, are quite fond of "that bread". Which is why I found them, after I stopped to check on something in the bedroom, eating the cake straight off the plate in the middle of the kitchen table. Yes, with their hands.

No, they are not being raised in a barn. But it feels like it sometimes.

So, I have frozen the rest of my precious starter. I'm not up for this right now. I have failed to realize any friendship benefit from this. I have used ingredients that could be used to make my favorite cookies (which, by the way, do not claim any Amish product as an ingredient) or any number of things, really. Hopefully the cinnamon rolls will turn out well. There are few problems in this world a nice gooey cinnamon roll doesn't help.

O.k, they probably won't help my girls learn table manners, which I promise, I am working on. But for now, just take my word for it, if someone offers you a plastic bag full of batter: run!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Cowgirls

Just to show I wasn't making this stuff up here's the photographic proof. We didn't take any of Tigger in her full regalia but trust me - it was a sight glorious to behold.

Sweet Pea Cowgirl Princess

The Tiggerific Cowgirl

(Don't mess with Texas or Tigger...)

The Pollyanna Cowgirl

Complete with Why-are-you-taking-pictures-now expression!)

Cowgirl sisters, ready for another night of ridin' the ranges, roping some dogies, gatherin' round the chuck wagon...or just more VBS, but the first way sounded better.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

WFMW - Tidy Refrigerator

We've got three budding little artists in our house. Their art project production would shame any professional artists. We also have several lists that keep our family happenings, well, happening (menu plan, grocery list, etc.) All of these things must be displayed on the fridge. Yes, it is law that drawings by your five year old, scribbles by your two year old, Sunday School papers, grocery lists and whatnot grace your fridge. This used to bug me until I found these little treasures.

These are chrome plated magnet clips, available at any office supply store. I have three on the freezer door and two on the side of the fridge (which is hidden). One clip for Polly Art or papers. One clip for Tigger Art or papers. One clip for things Mommy needs. If the clips are too full, it's time to purge something. It keeps the fridge looking tidy, without too many novelty magnets and these things are strong

The bottom of the fridge (aka, kid level) is another story, what with its alphabet stickers (uppercase and lowercase), Leap Frog barnyard animals... Hey, we are homeschoolers after all! So, magnet clips work for me. Find tons of great WFM ideas at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This day in history...

...This is my beloved and this is my friend... Song of Solomon 5:16
June 19, 1999

Friday, June 15, 2007

Frugal Fridays - Frugal Fun!

Just last week I had the kind of fun that I anticipate for an entire year. Yes, it was the local library Book Sale. (I hear your groans from here...) Our library system has several book sales through the year but this was the Mother of all Book Sales. It lasts for one week but Friday is Bag Day. You pay $5 for a plastic shopping bag and then whatever you can fit in that bag is yours. And they have more than books: there are c.d.s, movies, records, books on tape...

So, as this is not our first time around this rodeo, Prince Charming and I had a plan. My beautiful younger sister, let's call her "Princess", spent the night with us, thereby allowing Prince Charming and me to rise up early, eat our Wheaties (proverbially speaking - I can't stand Wheaties!) and take off - child free. I know, I could hardly believe it either.

We bought three bags and let me tell you - you have never seen such well packaged shopping bags! We ended up with a total of 102 items: 36 c.ds, 4 books on tape, 4 children's books with a tape, 13 children's books, 9 piano books, 35 books, and 1 DVD. According to my calculations that's $0.14 an item. Not too shabby.

The books on tape were a real find as I've been wanting to get some for the girls to listen to during quiet time. (This is a habit that's recommended in the Well Trained Mind). I found an unabridged copy of The Little Princess that no one else seemed to want but I was thrilled!

So there you have it, my frugal fun that will also benefit my family. Find more great Frugal Friday posts at Biblical Womanhood!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WFMW - VBS hints

This week is our church's Vacation Bible School. You can read some about that here and here. VBS is a busy time for us as Prince Charming is the Children's Director at our church and therefore has quite a bit to do this week, I help, and we now have 2 girls old enough to really get into the whole thing.

One thing that has helped us this week is "VBS bags". I found two little bags in the girls' dress up clothes. They are felt type purses. Each day I put the girls' Bibles, their penny offerings, and anything else they're supposed to bring that night. Tigger, for instance, is supposed to wear her Sheriff's badge every night, so I slip that in so we won't forget it.

I planned quick, easy suppers for each night. This way Prince Charming actually has time to eat (you don't want cookies & Kool-Aid on an empty stomach!) but we can still get to church as early as we need to. The girls just grab their bags as we walk out and I don't have to worry about cries like "Mom! I won't get my points for bringing back the paper from last night!"

Not that anything like that ever happened here before...
Find more great tips at Rocks in My Dryer, hosted by Shannon!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We're VBS-ing

Our first night of VBS went very well. The girls did wear their new cowgirl hats. Tigger also received a bandanna and a badge that she's supposed to wear every night this week. Right. Like Tigger needs more evidence that she's the "sheriff" in our family.

Polly enjoyed her first night as well. We moved her up to an older class. Because we homeschool it's not exactly easy to go by grades but we thought that the Kindergarten class (children who have just finished that grade) would fit her better than the younger class. So far, so good.

So we got home last night worn out from the good times and with four more nights to look forward to. Just for the record: I reckon (a little cowboy lingo for you...) that there are few things as cute as two little girls wearing too big-for-them cowgirl hats with red Kool-Aid mustache-stains on their faces and multi-colored marker stains on their fingers as they eagerly tell all they learned about Jesus. It's just one of those priceless joys of parenting.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


I have to preface this post by explaining that I am not a shopper. My heart doesn't beat more quickly as we drive past the mall. I don't dream about shoe sales, make-up counters, or dressing rooms. Prince Charming will tell you that when it comes time to buy something he has to pry the money out of my loving frugal fingers.

So, with that established, I must admit that occasionally a bit of shopping does a mommy good. Today was such a day. On a whim (I'm not usually whimsical but...) we stopped by the local Old Navy today. I've never been in an Old Navy store before -scrape your jaw off your keyboard - but I wanted to pick up some new swimsuits for the girls. Aside from the obnoxious music the store was really nice. And I found exactly what I wanted for the girls: matching 2 piece swimsuits (the top is like a shirt and the bottom cut like a swimsuit bottom), a flowery pink pattern that's not too cute, sizes to fit all three girls, and, best of all, they were clearanced!

Excited from this find we drifted on down to the Bath and Body Works. It must be summer clearance days because they had lots of items marked down as well. I don't use a lot of their products but I do enjoy their hand soap. We bought three bottles of the foaming soap in three different "flavors" because my girls had to smell every single item in the store and couldn't quite decide their favorites. (Free parenting tip: good smelling "foamy" soap is a good bribe for a reluctant potty train-ee). Because we felt bad for Prince Charming (waiting out in our van with the Sweet Pea) and lest he feel neglected, we picked him out a bar of soap.

It's pink. And he will use it without complaint because that's the great kind of guy he is. In this house of women-folk I think he manages very well. Of course, what man wouldn't want the adoration of so many marvelous ladies?

Lest you feel too sorry for him, I should point out that the real reason we were out shopping was preparation for our church's VBS, which is next week. The theme is Wild West so we had a few "western" purchases to make.

The girls each picked up an inexpensive cowboy ("Cowgirl," Polly insists) hat. And they've practiced galloping around the house - wait, that's what they always do - and swaggering. They want to know about real cowboys and I'll be happy to tell them what I know from the years of watching my father's cowboy movies and television shows, leaving out some information obviously. For instance: spitting. This is an activity Tigger needs to know nothing about, for everyone's sake.

So next week they'll be the cutest, sweetest smelling, cowgirls this side of the Mississippi. If I can just get them to take their new swimsuits off...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

WFMW - Zoo Fun

This year our family is enjoying a family membership to our local Zoo & Botanical Gardens. The membership was a Christmas gift from my folks. Now when the mood strikes us and we just need to go somewhere and see something different, we can take off to the zoo. Because we have a membership the cost is minimal, as long as we avoid the pricey concessions. And we only stay as long as we want to, because we don't have to stay and "get our money's worth." This is a great way to spend an afternoon.

The hottest days we tend to hang around the Manatee house which is air conditioned. Tigger likes to watch the manatees swimming in their water and she keeps an eye out for their belly buttons. Some animals are almost too fascinating for a two year old!

The zoo is always putting on programs or adding exhibits. Since we don't feel we have to see everything, each trip is different. It's fun and it works for me! Check out more great ideas at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A New Obsession

The blogosphere has introduced me to so many new things. Some things are fun. Some things are scary. Some things threaten to absorb my entire free time.

In that latter category I've found a way to integrate my love of books and my love of spending (read: wasting) time on the internet.

The site is
Library Thing. Do not, I warn you, visit it unless you're ready to be absorbed. It catalogs books. But that is so little description for what it does. I spent a few hours and reached the "free" limit (200 books). So, I am now a lifetime member. (Hey, I'm flush with birthday money...)

I warn you: it's addictive. If you love to read as much as I do you will certainly be sucked in. There are message boards, book suggestions, author bios, etc. So check it out. And don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Parenting Conundrums

How is it that the child that makes you furious melts your heart 3 seconds later?

How can a child that is less than 3 years old and not allowed to watch television, identify "Spiderman" in a magazine ad?

How can a child go from cute, clean and ready-to-go to dirty, sticky, and in-need-of-a-bath in the time it takes you to buckle the baby into a carseat and pick up the diaper bag?

How does the baby you hold in your arms turn into a five year old, masterfully cuddling the new baby, seemingly overnight?

How does the very-really-really hungry child become not hungry at one quick glance of the prepared supper?

How can the child that can't sleep unless kissed by Mommy and Daddy skip off to stay with the Grandparents without a second glance back?

How can someone you've only known for a few short weeks become one of the dearest people in the world to you?

How can one milky smile make your dreary day 100% better?

How can one belly laugh make your entire week 100% better?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Frugal Fridays - A Beauty Tip

As a mother of three daughters and an active life, revolving around our family, homeschooling, & church, I don't have a lot of time for sitting around and primping. O.k, I admit to playing dress up with the girls sometimes but that doesn't count...

Anyway, I've never been a person who enjoys make-up. I don't buy lots of products or dream of the latest blush or lipstick. (If you do - more power to you!) I generally wear a bit of eyeshadow, mascara, and maybe some powder. Concealer is a favorite of mine but I avoid foundation as much as possible. I do wear a bit of blush on occasion but I never wear lipstick - I'm a strictly chapstick or lip balm type of girl. This saves quite a bit of money, as you might imagine, but that's not my main tip for today.

No matter how much make-up is worn, faces still need to be washed. And, as I am not speding a fortune on make-up I don't see the need to spend money I don't have on potions to wash/soften/tone my face with, either.

Lest you think I am going around with a filthy face, let me share my cleansing secret: Johnson's Head to Toe Baby wash and a common baby washcloth (the small terry cloth type). Yes, this is my secret: I am a grown woman (26 years old qualifies, right?) and I'm a secret Johnson's Baby wash user. And not the newfangled stuff they've come out with for grownups. Nope, just the good old fashioned yellow bottle, green cap, clean smelling stuff they've made for ages. We've had a decent supply of this stuff for the past five years and it is not that expensive to buy.

It's gentle.

It's effective.

So, with the added benefit of not cluttering up our very tiny bathroom with unnecessary stuff, this is a winner all the way around for me. My face is clean and soft and I haven't paid a lot for unnecessary chemicals. Maybe I'll change my tune as I get a bit older but so far, it's frugal, it works, and that's a blessing for me!

Check out Frugal Fridays at Biblical Womanhood. These great tips inspire me every week!