Posts Tagged ‘Works-For-Me-Wednesday’

Booster Seat Cleaning Solution

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

I hate cleaning underneath my daughter’s booster seat, but the things that can get stuck under there can be quite unappetizing a few days after sitting there.

The other day I decided to tuck Emily’s plastic placemat under her seat instead of on the table and can’t believe I had not thought to do that sooner. Now after we enjoy our meal, I just pick the seat up and slide out the mat for a quick rinse instead of trying to clean under the seat, creating a sea of crumbs under our table.

It doesn’t help the nasty on the top of the seat, but sure makes the nasty underneath a little bit easier.

For more fun solutions for your family, be sure to visit Works-For-Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Sound Off: Do you have any clever solutions for dinner clean-up?

Be a Wrap Superstar: Use What You Have

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Sometimes it is more fun to spend money on the gifts themselves than it is to spend it on wrapping your gifts. While I love an elegantly wrapped gift, I do enjoy sharing on creative wrapping solutions too. In fact, sometimes those creative solutions are right under your nose. Wouldn’t Hallmark be disappointed if we used items we already had to wrap our gifts instead of keeping them in business with their gift bags and wrapping paper?

Here in this first picture is a grocery sack. This paper bag was purchased for five cents from Aldi Supermarket. This was, of course, before I had made the switch to cloth grocery bags so I have many of these useful bags laying around my house that aren’t being used.

You can leave the paper bag plain or you can decorate it. I happened to have a Christmas stamp that I stamped onto the paper. The gift tag came from a book of scrapbooking tags that I happened upon at Michael’s. I used my coupon to buy them and they were $2 (less with the coupon) for 24 tags. Tie it up with a bow or a piece of raffia, and you have a beautiful gift out of items in your home.

This second gift is wrapped in a map of our hometown. You can pick these up in the different cities that you visit or in different hotels or restaurants. Save them in a folder for wrapping paper and use special areas for the special people in your life.

The gift tag was made out of my business card and then the gift was tied with green raffia. Business cards can be a fun way to tag your gifts to coworkers. Considering many companies overbuy in the business card department, this is a great way to use some of these cards up and also reminds your boss how much he should appreciate your efforts, particularly for large companies where employees and superiors can be a bit more disjointed. Just give it a hole punch and loop it through the ribbon.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget all of those lovely coloring pages and how useful they can be for wrapping gifts.
Kids love to feel special and they love to contribute towards the making of and the purchasing of the gifts for your family. These scribbled drawings, while not as appealing to the eye as many fancy gift wrap choices, are true beauty to grandparents and other family members.

If you like to have more control over the color choices and such, give your children crayons in your color scheme that you are going for or make suggestions for drawings (“Grandma LOVES snowmen, maybe you could draw her a really special one?”).

The gift tag was made from scrap cardstock that I had and then I stamped the tag with the same stamp that was pictured above in my paper bag wrapping job.

Don’t forget the other solutions that I have shared on like tailoring your gifts for their recipient and using wallpaper for gift wrap!

I hope this offers some other creative solutions for your wrapping needs! I plan to put this all together into an article for our website for future reference!

***For more great solutions for your family, be sure to visit Rocks In My Dryer for more great ideas for this edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday***

Be a Wrap Superstar: Wallpaper That Gift, Yo!

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
I was asked to speak to my mom’s group this week on how to celebrate Christmas on a budget. Since I do those Tuesday morning show segments, I figured it would be in my best interest to make some pretty props to go along with my morning discussions (and that could double for my mom’s group discussion).

How about serving triple duty and sharing them on my blog here too? Why not!

I have several ideas for thinking outside of the box when it comes to wrapping your gifts. Sure, I could go to the store and get a giant roll of wrapping paper, but what is the fun in that? Some of the most fun is in the inventing of new ways to wrap those gifts under the tree.

The gifts might not all match, they may not be overly red and green, they also aren’t going to be uniform, but at least each gift will have their own original style.

Today’s gift wrapping idea is to check your local thrift store for wallpaper to wrap your gifts. I frequently find gigantic rolls for only $1. Try to pick a design that can be used for the holidays, but also can double for those other special occasions where a gift is needed.

This gift is not only covered in wallpaper, but the gift tag is made from a deck of cards. Is your dad a prankster? Give him the Joker! Is your brother the jack-of-all-trades? A Jack! Does your mom think she is the queen of the castle? Give that woman the Queen!
Tie it off with a little holiday cheer and embellish your gifts with a little ornament or something holiday-ish. I love those ornaments for those teeny trees to put on my gifts or I love to add big old jingle bells to make my present a little more festive.
I hope you enjoyed my quick tutorial on being a wrap superstar. I will discuss another idea next week!!

***For more great ideas today, visit Rocks In My Dryer for Works-For-Me Wednesday!***

Sound Off: Are you a wrap superstar? What are some things you use to wrap your gifts?

Cheap Outdoor Music System

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

I love to listen to music outside, but we don’t have a spare radio that we can use while we are dining outdoors. I decided to create our own outdoor music system using our baby monitor. I hooked our baby monitor up next to our computer, and then turned on our computer with our music loaded on that. The receiver got placed outside and we were able to hear all of our favorite music without making any additional purchases.

Using my baby monitor outside works for me! Please visit Shannon’s entry for all of the other participants and their great Works-For-Me Wednesday ideas.

Prepping for Garage Sales

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

And, no, I will not be hosting a garage sale. My prep work involves everything that I need to know in order to truly maximize my visits to other people’s garage sales. I am not ambitious enough to have a garage sale myself. I prefer to donate our items and take the tax deduction. It might be the lazy person’s way of decluttering, but it works well for us!

I love to garage sale during the summer. I, in fact, look forward to garage sale season all year long. In the interim, I do a lot of thrift shopping until I can take advantage of all of those great garage sale prices.

I do most of our clothes shopping for the kids by visiting the thrift store often throughout the year. We also have friends & family who pass on their clothing to us, which is a huge financial help. All of these clothes were folded in several boxes in our basement, but I had never taken inventory of what we already had.

This weekend I pulled out all of the boxes and started grouping things together. All of the dresses in a pile, all of the pajamas in a pile, and so forth. And remember when I mentioned that I got some great organizing units from a university student? Well, in her stash were large three drawer rolling carts that would be perfect for organizing the kid’s clothing.

I used my label maker and labeled each drawer with the child’s name and the size of the clothing. All of the clothes were neatly sorted into the drawers, instead of thrown into boxes that might have been forgotten.

I also got out a piece of paper and wrote down what I have for each child. It was time-consuming and a pain to do, but now when I hit those garage sales I will know just what my kid’s need. I realize that ten summer dresses are enough for one little girl, but one pair of jeans won’t cut it. I know that my son is great for the fall, but his summer wardrobe is really lacking. This information will really help me when I go to the sales this summer.

Take inventory of what you already have in your house and make a list of things to look for when you go to the garage sales. Try to stick to the list, or only buy things that you will really and truly use in your house. Even if it is only ten cents! Do not buy things that will not have a purpose in your home. A deal is not a deal, if it is just taking up space and collecting dust on a shelf.

Do you have any tips for preparing for garage sales? Do you have a way of tracking the inventory in your homes? Please share! Your comments are invaluable!

Don’t forget to swing by Rocks in My Dryer for all the other wonderful participants!

Getting the Car Organized

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

This week’s Works-For-Me Wednesday solutions are all ideas for your car. Shannon requested any great ideas for moms on the go. It is great timing to read all of these entries with Spring Break fast approaching. Be sure to read all of the entries there!
I like to keep a tidy home, but the car is a completely other story. It seems like we are in the car a lot and somehow cleaning out the car becomes last on my task list.

A couple of weeks ago, the warm weather got me out to finally clean my

car though and I must say that the car is looking much better this month. Whether or not we can maintain that is yet to be seen, but I do like some of the solutions I came up with for organizing it (for now!)
- I had two small milk crates that I put on each side of the back seat of the car for each child. My son’s crate is filled with crayons, paper, flash cards, and workbooks for him to work on. My daughter’s crate is filled with lots of baby toys for her to play with. Each child’s also contains a clean sippy cup. This solution has worked really well for us if we visit people’s houses who don’t have toys or when we go into a restaurant and want to keep the children entertained. The container is small enough that my son can carry his own and I have been toting my daughter’s around when I meet friends for coffee and such. This is much better than toys haphazardly thrown around in the back and they now have their own organized space.
- In the front seat, I have a small folder and today I am working on printing out directions to all of the local parks and a few day trips in the area. This will be a great reference for us if we want to get out of the house when the weather is nice out and it will save me a step when we need to be somewhere. I also keep directions to other people’s homes that I frequent. I belong to a good size mom’s group and to try and remember where everyone is can be difficult. This makes for a great reference and saves me from printing the same directions out multiple times.
- In my trunk, I have a small tote bag filled with a few things that the kids can do when we go to the park. I put two Frisbees in there, bubbles, and bubble wands. I am planning to hit our dollar tree to get a few more things to add to the mix, but it is a nice thing to have to keep the kiddos entertained.
- We also keep a spare phone book in the trunk of our car. This makes it easy to call for directions or place reservations with restaurants.
- Take advantage of times when you are filling your gas tank, to clean out wrappers and such out of the car. I keep a tissue box filled with plastic bags under our seat and I pull that out to make gathering trash up a little easier.
- One thing that I try to do is keep a spare backpack in the trunk of our car. Sometimes we are on the road and aren’t able to get home to pick up a backpack before I have to drop my son off for school. This spare backpack comes in handy for those occasions and helps the teacher too!
Feel free to share your own car solutions and be sure to check out all of the entries this week!

Caring for Your Table Linens

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007
I love having a tablecloth on our table. We have three tablecloths that I can rotate throughout the week- a red, burgundy, & white tablecloth. Of all of the colors I have, the white tablecloth is my most favorite of all. Although spills show on it more initially, I can toss it in the wash with bleach and the stains come right out. There is just something about a clean tablecloth & napkins that makes everything look fresh.
Despite loving the look of linens, I do not enjoy ironing. The rarity with which I iron is, at times, a little embarrassing.
Frankly, there are not enough hours in the day for me to be spending them standing over an ironing board.
Since the word ironing is not in my vocabulary, caring for my linens promptly is important when laundering them. I run them through a normal warm cycle (check the tags on your tablecloths to see what is best for your fabric type) and then I dry them until they are just barely dry. They are then folded into thirds inside out and hung on a hanger. I hang these down in our laundry area until it is time to use them.
If you do iron your linens, the best time to iron them is right before you use them. Spray the linens with starch or a spray bottle of water and press away on the reverse side of the tablecloth on the recommended setting.
If linens only make a rare performance on your table, there is one other storage solution that might work better for you. Take an empty wrapping paper roll and line it with acid free tissue paper. Fold the tablecloth in half and then wrap it around the roll. Line the top again with the tissue paper and then store the tablecloth horizontally.
While on the discussion of table linens, I did want to share a few links for folding cloth napkins. I am going to attempt a few of these and see if they improve the look of my table.

Cloth napkins are not only used to wipe faces, but they can also highlight something in the center of your table. This vintage napkin was the perfect place to rest an arrangement of flowers on our table.
Do you have any storage tricks for linens in your home? Do you use linens on your table?

And for those of you that are curious just what it is I am serving at my table, please visit the new “Aldi Queen” blog where I share my recipes and menu plans with everyone!

Be sure to visit Rocks in My Dryer for more tips & tricks from some of the best mommy experts on the net!

Frugality Births Creativity

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I feel very blessed to have learned to be frugal because it has stirred within me creativity that I never knew I even possessed. The blessings from my thriftiness are endless and seem abundant in our life. When we had money, we did not feel the urge to be creative with our resources. If we wanted something, we bought it. End of story. Now that we are trying to be more careful with our funds, I have found that I am more creative than I have given myself credit for.

I just want to share with you one example of creativity that has helped us financially. Obviously the website has been a great endeavor for me, but there are little things in my life that I haven’t had the opportunity to share yet.
When we found out we were having a girl, all I could feel in my heart was love and a sea of pink. I couldn’t wait to dress her up in pretty dresses, tights, patent leather Mary Janes, and get to have tea parties with her. I love my son like crazy, and was just so excited that I have one of each child so that I can do unique things with each of them.
When she was born, I never knew that a baby could have so much hair. She had this beautiful, thick dark hair and all I wanted to do was put hair bows in it. We started out with the baby headbands and I was disappointed with the selection in our area. When searching online though, I thought the prices were ridiculous and not worth that amount of money.
Fast forward to six months later, and I had completed a spokesperson position with Cascade. We received the money from that endeavor and I turned to my husband one day and said, “I want to invest that money into a little business for myself making girl’s hair bows.” I won’t say that he was jumping up or down or anything, but he said he supported me, if that is what I wanted to do with my money.
I got a book on how to do it and started hording myself in our basement with a glue gun. I researched for hours on ways that I could get these little masterpieces to stick in their hair without ever being removed. I researched the best types of ribbon, where to purchase the ribbon, how to present the bows and pricing on them.
Pictured here is an example of some of my handiwork. These batches of bows were made for my girlfriend and I was so thrilled to put together such fun ribbon selections, chosen by her. When purchasing ribbon for her bows, I also happened upon these really cute Irish ribbons and I grabbed as many as I felt I could afford. We live in Irish Country (Notre Dame University is just minutes from our house), so in other areas this would be a seasonal item. In our area, it is a year-round type of thing.
I have had great success with selling the girl’s hair bows. Although I am not brave enough to put myself out there online, as it is a tough market, I have had great success by just taking my daughter places in her bows and people asking where I bought them. She has been a great little model for me and I have made some good money doing it. This money is being socked away for something special. What that is? I don’t know yet, but I feel empowered knowing that I can help with the finances and to have a little stash stored away for a rainy day.

The lessons I have learned through my latest little business are great…

I have learned that I can be a creative, even though I never believed that I was.
I have learned that a supportive spouse is worth its weight in gold. My husband could have shook his head and told me he thought my idea was ridiculous, but he didn’t. I didn’t say he didn’t think that in his head, but he never voiced those feelings to me.
I have learned that if there is something not out there that you want, or if there is something you want but can’t afford, find within yourself to be creative and come up with it yourself.
I have learned that there are two types of people- those who think I charge too much and those who think I am selling myself short.
I have learned that asking for money upfront is the best policy. I have had people place orders that have never paid or make requests for items that I worked tirelessly on, only to tell me that they changed their mind.
I have learned that one compliment can go a long way with me. Just one person telling me that they liked what I do is enough to push me for an extra week on whatever I am doing.
I have learned that there will always be people who think that they can do whatever you are doing, but better. There will always be haters out there, but the important thing is to not allow their negativity to take the best parts about yourself out of you.
I have learned that by teaching myself new skills, that I can draw from those skills when occasions arise and save a lot of money on gifts for others.
I have learned donating my creativity to good causes makes me feel more creative and powerful than I have ever thought I could be.
I have learned that doubting myself is the biggest creativity buster of all.
I have learned that frugality fuels creativity. Creativity fuels our bank account. Our bank account fuels a peace about what we have. The peace fuels a happy home. A happy home fuels my life. My life fuels my family. My family fuels me.
What are some of your proudest creative moments? What has frugality fueled within you?
For more Rocks In My Dryer Works-For-Me Wednesday Participants, please click here.

Kid’s Craft Idea: Painting Mugs

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Since it is another snow-filled day, we worked on a craft project to pass the time today. What better way to pass the time than to work on some fun projects?

When I have been going to the thrift store, I have been picking up plain white mugs. The cost on these is fifty cents and I have been putting them in a box downstairs to make gifts for our family.

I then went to the craft store and purchased a porcelain paint set. The paint set was around four dollars and I used my forty percent off coupon to knock some money off of the total on that. These types of paints require no heat-setting since the glaze that is included sets the paints for you.

With this particular paint set, you need to do a glaze on the surface first and allow that to dry. I actually did this the night before so we wouldn’t have to wait on this step.

Today we painted the mugs, which my son had the best time doing. We did put a heart on each of them, in honor of Valentine’s Day, and we will be giving these out to some special people in our life.

While waiting for the paint to dry (to apply a final glaze on them), I have been doing a little baking for a mommy that I am running a meal over to. She just had a baby and I get to bring her Valentine’s Day dinner. I am making a heart-shaped pizza, a cold pasta salad, and these giant heart brownies. I found this stoneware dish at the thrift shop for two bucks and have been waiting to be able to use it. I hope she will enjoy the meal as much I as have enjoyed cooking for her. Hopefully the weather will hold out so that I can deliver that meal!

I also need to get moving on some laundry and make cookies for my son’s class. It has been fun though getting to squeeze in some quality time with my son and do something fun like this.

Give this craft idea a try with your children! These mugs are great for any occasion and what teacher wouldn’t love a sweet mug like this made by your child?

Please visit Shannon’s Blog, Rocks in My Dryer, for more Works-For-Me Wednesday tips!

I Heart You!

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Lucky for me, today’s theme for Works-For-Me Wednesday is all about Valentine’s Day ideas. I happened to have posted a whole article of budget-friendly ideas for the holiday last week, so please stop over to the article to get tons of ideas that won’t break the bank!

On a related note, I attempted to do Valentine’s this year with my son. Now being the frugal self that I am, I realize that the store-bought cards are really not expensive at all. You can get a ton of them for a couple of dollars that have dogs on them and say, “You’re Top Dog!” and such…They are very nice and we have done that in year’s past.

This year I decided I wanted to make the holiday a little more meaningful and with only eleven kids in my son’s class, we could definitely swing actually making the cards this year. I was proud that we did it because it required more effort than the store-bought hearts and it was a creative way for the two of us to pass another snow day at home.

Since the weather was bad, all I did was pull all of the red & pink construction paper from his craft bin. I would have loved to incorporate doilies, but after seeing them going for $4.99 last week, I decided that we could do without these. The idea was to save some money, not spend four times as much!

I did have some of those cool jagged scissors that the scrapbookers use and by cutting all my hearts out with those, it gave a pretty lacy effect on the hearts and also on the edges of the cards.

I sat everything out for my son to put his cards together including a big box of buttons and a glue stick to incorporate different dimensions into his work. He came downstairs with a piece of paper (not provided for this mission) and covered it with buttons saying he would rather make lots of planets instead of doing the task at hand.

I then came upstairs to redirect his attention to all of the paper I had cut out for him and all of the pretty hearts and what happened next was exactly what I had expected…I sat and made Valentine’s for an entire hour while he made planets on other sheets of paper.

Me: “Do you want to even sign your name on these?”

Son: “Nah!”

So much for being a fun & creative mom! Maybe there are more creative ideas on Rocks in My Dryer as mine was not inspiring enough even for my own kid!