Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to school Bargain Shopping

My girls started school today, one in 1st & one in Kindergarten. As a mom yo want them to have the best. You want them to feel their best and look their best. I got up super early and curled their hair and helped them get ready. Here they are with their schlutes, prior to opening. My flash on my camera doesn't work so the inside shots didn't turn out too well.
About a week ago I knew I had to get serious about back to school shopping since the school my girls are attending requires uniforms. I didn't really shop around at first because I'd been keeping my eye on the ads and there never were very good sales on uniforms. I settled on Target since I know that store well and they have good quality most of the time. My mom generously offered to buy their school uniforms so I wouldn't have to worry about the expense. However, I found out that I am so not used to buying retail for anything anymore! Since I mainly use coupons while grocery shopping, and have been shopping Goodwill so much in the past year had a little sticker shock when it came time for the buying. Even though I wasn't the one doing the buying I had serious buyers remorse, especially when I didnt have all the same items for each of my 2 girls, 1 had shorts while the other had pants, 1 had a sweater and the other didn't. I was going to still have to spend more to get the ramining items.

Over the next week each time I'd go to Goodwill, I would find a bunch of uniform items on their racks. I was able to buy at much more comfortable prices a lot of the items they would need for the school year. There are some great items on both sides. At least I had piece of mind that they would have them just in case, but I really do think that now I will be returning some of the Target items. Check out the difference:

Target - 2 skirts, 8 shirts, 1 sweater, 1 pr pants, 1 pr shorts, 2 pks ankle socks, 1 pk knee highs, 1 pr shoes (our only clearance item). Approx $160.

Goodwill & Deseret Industries - 1 sweater vest, 2 jumpers, 1 dress, 3 prs shorts, 2 prs pants, 4 skirts, 2 shirts. Approx $28 and all great quality wth a variety fo brands: Cherokee, Gap, Justice, Lee, Old Navy, French Toast, etc.

See what I mean??? They can still dress well on a better budget. Plus Goodwill gets a lot of Target clearance items so I'm gonna keep frequenting it in hopes to get more!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School Schlutes

The rest of my house may be a disaster, but aren't these super cute?!
My girls start school for the first time tomorrow, one in 1st and the other in Kindergarten. I remember receiving a Schlute when I went to school for the first time too. We lived in Germany at the time, and it's a German tradition to give these cones full of goodies, school supplies, candies, and toys on the first day of Kindergarten. Though I think I am going to make this a back to school tradition. They were fun to put together and I can't wait to see their little faces!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Resale Upscale

I purchased this lovely little Disney Store Cinderella costume at Goodwill for $2.99 - a deal! I posted it with high hopes on eBay for $6.99. Unfortunately that's all it sold for. The buyer turned out to have a huge eBay store of just costumes!!! She relisted the dress for $39.95. So I stalked (watched) the item to see if it would really resell for that much, with my own doubts. After only a week or two,
it sold it for a whopping $32!!! Apparently I have been doing way too much leg work. I'd have never thought of re-selling from eBay! She probably watches the good deals and bids last minute in order to get them cheap.
What a mark-up from $2.99!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kids Room organization ideas

I know I should take a before & after set of pictures to document the progress of a much needed Kids Room redo, and maybe I will but my camera situation is a real stinker right now (I actually have 3 partially working cameras). So for now, a description: 3 kids, 1 set of bunk beds, 1 toddler bed, 1 bean bag, 1 large dresser, 1 packed closet = 1 tight uncomfortable situation which leads to 1-2 kids in mom's bed at night. This is because mom's room is light, airy, open, cool and comfortable. My idea is to Craigslist the dresser, it is a really great one but I no longer feel its necessary (100 thing inspiration). Instead my husband is going to build shelves into the bottom of the closet (after I empty it of everything non- child). Their shoes will go along the bottom, and each kid will have 2 cubbies for clothes. I'm hoping it will help them keep their school uniforms handy and home clothes separate. Then on top will be little baskets for undies and socks. The hanging section of the closets will be for all the girls dresses, sweaters and coats. I need to rid it of all the parents coats & out of season clothes. Then the top of the closet (shelf) will hold their "growing into" buckets of clothes, which ironically right now are in my closet taking up room!
Then I think we are going to say good-bye to the big denim bean bag. Either it will travel to mom & dads room, or it will travel out of the house. I think it's time. Right now my little guy (almost 2) sleeps in it at nap time and bedtime because it is more comfortable than his little toddler bed. So instead, I think we will also get rid of the toddler bed and give him his own twin bed (my mom has an extra). And for his birthday maybe I'll go ahead and get him a buzz lightyear bedding set. He would be over the moon. And his sisters think that is the only way he'll sleep in his own bed.

I should mention that because I have my 3 kids in one room to sleep, this gives us a second room for all their "stuff", toys and books. The bean bag could end up in there, but I think it is actually just too close to the kids room and would make for an easy night time jaunt.

My girls have recently requested some sort of basket for their beds for their special dolls. I know, they should just sit on the pillows right? LOL. Since my girls have bunk beds I was thinking along the lines of planter boxes or something but nothing seemed right until I saw this!

The Mother Huddle has a fabulous tutorial on her blog of how to make these cute hanging baskets! It took a novice sewer like me about 3 times to re-read it before I fully understand and think I can tackle this project, but I am so excited to try! Although I think I will make them smaller so that just one or two will fit in each basket.

I also like this idea for a couple special books - a book sling!
On her blog post, PennyCarnival not only has a great tutorial, but also showcases book slings from other blogs. You've got to check it out! Some are very trendy and great for living rooms! Problem is - now I want to do them all over the house!
I will probably make some sort of coordinating window treatments to the baskets and book slings. But all of that cannot happen until I have a working sewing machine. I do however have lots of fun fabric that I can start dreaming of how things will turn out!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Livin in Las Vegas

When you live in Las Vegas, you tend to not get too excited about "The Strip".
At least that's how I feel. I rarely go anywhere near it. When friends and relatives come to town, they spend time down there occasionally, but I can't remember the last time I did. Some host I am, right? It's just so unappealing to me. And I don't really like crowds, waiting in line, and paying too much for too little. Also, living in Las Vegas, you tend to block out the sounds of slot machines as you walk into the grocery store, the pharmacy, and gas stations. At least I do. I forget about them until I am in Utah and things are a bit too quiet when I go into the grocery store, pharmacy or gas station there.

When it comes to gaming, I prefer a fun site called I can play slots (and lots of other games) there for free and meet friends. I play with a gal from California and one from Utah. It's so fun, and it's free! You can earn prizes too. When people hear I'm from Vegas they always laugh that I'm playing online instead of on the Strip.

Tonight we went with some visiting family to see a neat attraction at the Silverton Hotel (which is off the strip, just south, almost at the end of town). They have an amazing salt water aquarium with tons of fish, rays, sharks and...mermaids! They are pretty fabulous. I've heard they are Olympic divers but I cannot confirm or deny that so for now I just plain believe it. They blow kisses, play patty cake, kiss the fish and rays. They are fabulous. My two little girls, and little boy, and my niece were enthralled and I was rather enchanted. My husband, he was hungry. Which is why we visited their buffet. It was, EXPENSIVE, but probably comparable here in Vegas. Sometimes just can't get over the sticker-shock. But that's cuz I'm cheap and cuz I don't get out too often. It was friday, and it was seafood night, but for my family of five (my baby being free of charge) it was $88. The food was good, but since I don't eat much seafood, and neither do my young kids, I don't see how it was worth it, except for the time out with family, and the great time seeing the fish & mermaids (but those were free anyway).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wishing for a partner in crime

So remember the post I did on decluttering? Oh, yeah! It's the one right before this one. Well, this week should have been a great decluttering week, a great anything week. But alas, it has been a rather crummy one that I wish I could have a do-over on. What a wasted week. I have spent a lot of unproductive time on the internet (something I do when I don't want to face reality), not enough attention and time on both my house and my kids. And that stresses me out even more because in a week they start school! In a week I'll have time to worry about my house so I'm still on strike when it comes to cleaning, but my kids and I need a last hurrah! Boy, I need some ideas for that. Thrifty ideas. Which probably means more web-surfing till I get some good ideas. Good thing they're in bed for the night.

In a week though, I'll really be pinning for a partner in crime to get my house under control. See, I always figured myself for an organized kind of gal. Truthfully I like to organize, and I like to BE organized. Yeah, I get lazy when it comes to picking up clothes and dishes, and all the stuff my kids drag all over the house. My mom says I do really well organizing in small spaces. You open up a closet, and there it is! Organization! But my counters, table tops, floor - they can get a tad bit CRAZY cluttered. It's all the stuff that doesn't fit in a small organized space. But it's a work in progress. A week ago was my birthday and I kicked my kids and husband out (sent them camping - literally) and had myself a gals night in! 13 of my closest friends helped me celebrate 31 and my house was spotless and cheery. A week later I am wishing for a rewind.

I have a couple gals in mind that would be great partners in crime for fighting the mess -
  1. My sister in law Monique. She is a faithful reader of my new blog and just one reason this post is actually on now. Every time I log on I see that she has several times since. How wonderful! But probably disappointing for her when I'm not updating enough. Anyhow - she is fabulous at looking at a drawer of junk and saying - what are you gonna do with this? do you need this? THIS is trash - right?

  2. My cousin's wife Tristan. She is excellent when it comes to organizing. She has great tips because she used to work at a daycare center and things have got to stay organized in a place like that! Her house is so comforting and tidy. She also has a real knack for decorating, especially for Halloween!

  3. My dear friend Danielle. She has some serious stamina when it comes to decluttering. We can go from room to room and come out with bags of stuff to get rid of.

All three of these gals are fabulous when it comes to keeping things under control. For the most part their houses are tidy, company-ready and clear of clutter. And I've got to say they all have great style when it comes to decorating! Oh, what examples you are to me! Too bad you all live far away. Texas & Georgia are, well... not close enough to come help, but I can keep you in mind while I'm whistling and working. There is hope for me!

And that brings to mind this favorite clip of mine:

And lastly a favorite quote of mine:

Cleaning your house
while your kids are still growing
is like shoveling the walk
before it stops snowing
~ Phyllis Diller

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simpler Living

I've been rolling some ideas around in my head since reading an article about a couple who simplified their lives. I mean really simplified - down to 100 possessions!

Tammy Strobel from was a newlywed with all the monotonous things of life - 2 cars, a 2 bedroom apartment, and enough wedding china to serve two dozen people. Yet with all of this and more (like many of us) , she and her husband weren't happy. She was , as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.” Until the day she decided to step off.
Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, and with a challenge to live with just 100 personal items, Tammy and her husband Logan, both 31, began donating their belongings to charity. Over the course of the next few years, they simplified by donating clothing, books, pots and pans, furniture, and even their TV. Eventually, they got rid of both of their cars and now bike everywhere and occasionally rent a car for trips. Today, three years after Ms. Strobel and Mr. Smith began downsizing, they live in Portland, Ore., in a spare, 400-sq ft studio. Mr. Smith is completing a doctorate in physiology; Ms. Strobel happily works from home as a Web designer and freelance writer with an annual income of about $24,000 which covers their bills. They are now debt-free.

Isn't this fabulous? And scary? And well... Simple.

With the economy being yucky, work being slow, housing values plummeting, stress is mounting for everyone! At least everyone I know. I've seen more friends and family members have to claim unemployment, bankruptcy and lose their homes, than I ever could have imagined. We have felt the burden of low & no hours for my husband who works in the construction industry. It's hard. And living paycheck to paycheck is not simple. It's complicated, frustrating, scary and depressingly sad.

Aside from the money factor, is the idea that you constantly need more and better things. Even living frugally there is a temptation to get as many free or cheap items, because they are FREE and CHEAP, so why not? For the past few years I have really struggled with the amount of clutter that seems to accumulate in daily life. The kinds of things I have to deal with picking up off the floor each day is maddening: toys, dishes, mail, clothes, shoes, tissues, trash, TOYS, things that are mine that smaller fingers find and adore and then discard, it goes on and on. So many times I have thought to myself, I need to get rid of all this junk! And so many times I've told my husband we need to move into an apartment where we will need and not be able to have so much stuff! JUNK! STUFF! And yet, I am always decluttering!! Always loading up bags with things to give away. So why has it not ended??

Partially I blame myself. I have a tendency to buy things (gasp) that I do not really need. Because they are pretty or new or whatever. Shiny. LOL. Now, I must clarify, I am not a shop-o-hlic. Doesn't that sound like a classic case of denial? Well think hat you want, but for the record, I'm not. It is just gradual, and small, like sometimes I overbuy for projects I am working on. Crafts always get me. I return lots of things to JoAnn's :") The other day I went through the house and then went on a returning spree of things I had bought, still had tags on and still had the receipts for. I came home $37 richer. Today I returned 2 more items and came home $28 richer. The returning I find is almost, if not more satisfying as the buying.

“The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false,” Tammy Strobel says. “I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”

I really agree with her on that. I also think that the clutter in my house has a direct correlation to the clutter in my mind, on my nerves, on my body and in my heart. So I am working on a transformation of all of that. That I think will bring true happiness. To be able to clean more simply for one. To be able to leave the house and walk out the door with a lot less guilt on my shoulders, and fear that someone will stop by later without my having had the time to overhaul my living room.

So with all this poured out of my brain and into the computer via my fingertips, I am on a mission to declutter my house once and for all! Well, I do realize it will be an ongoing process throughout the years. Regardless, once school starts (a mere two weeks away) look out!!! I am sure there will be more posts on this very topic so I'm starting a new category for them.

Might as well go out of business

Olive Garden that is. Now that I have learned to make copy-cat versions of Mozzerella Fonduta, Alfredo sauce, and Zuppa Toscana, I don't ever need to go back there, unless I'm forced??? "Mom this soup is BETTER than the soup at Olive Garden's! We don't EVER need to go there again!" She was preaching to the choir there my friend!

Anyhow, their prices have risen in the last few years not unlike all other restaurants, to the point where it just doesn't make sense for us to eat out. My 6 year old daughter said as much at dinner the other night.
My husband laughs when on dates nights I pull out my coupon-file and look through the restaurant coupons. And lately Restaurants like Sweet Tomatoes and Quizno's rule out anyway. Both very tasty and less expensive than a restaurant with waiters. Who needs to spend fortune on date-night? Not us!

I'm working on putting together a cook-book of my fav recipes (of course none actually created by me- I'm no chef- I just pretend), most restaurant worthy ;) in my opinion!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I see a Kingdom

This is a favorite video of mine regarding One man's trash, another's treasure... Plus who doesn't love Vanessa Williams? Oh, and ELMO!! Haha!

Friday, August 6, 2010


I opened my email today and had lots of offers for FREE FOOD. Why? My birthday is coming up, and because it makes good business sense, a lot of restaurants offer free items for celebrating your birthday at their restaurant. They figure you are most likely to bring a few guests along who will be paying for their food. They wouldn't want to miss out on that opportunity!

Here are some of the places that wat my birthday business:

Coldstone Ice Cream
Del Taco
Red Robin

Some yummy options! And some deals are definitely better than others!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Best Wrappings

My kids love to be able to wrap their friends b-day presents, but me being the control freak that I am, I prefer the presents not to look like a young-un wrapped them. So, I let them decorate them instead. Awhile ago I bought a huge thing of packing paper at Lowe's to wrap my grandma's china for moving. We ended up using a lot more bubble wrap than paper, so I kept it as cheap wrapping paper. The paper is pretty think and easy to work with. My kids decorate their presents, and I don't have to buy and store wrapping paper or a card!! Win, Win!!

When I worked at the local newspaper you could buy the end rolls (or middle of the gigantic paper rolls that the newsprint comes on) fr only $3 for a ton of blank newsprint. The downsides of using it for wrapping paper is you have to makes a lot of passes around a preset ad it's easier to tear - plus they are heavy and awkward to store. But it's great for art paper! See if your local paper offers this! Those rolls can last a whole childhood ...maybe :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

FREE Nursing cover

I didn't know this, but this week (August 1st - 7th) is World Wide Breastfeeding Week!!

I would show you an adorable pic of my baby smiling ear to ear while nursing, it always cracks me up, but then you'd know what I look like...underneath my clothes!! So, um, I won't! Hee hee.

So instead I'll let you know about a fabulous and thrifty find!
To show support for breastfeeding UdderCovers is running a promotion where you can get any of their nursing covers (regular price $32) for FREE! The code is"Breastfeeding" on their site.
If you're not currently nursing, this is your chance to stock up on great baby shower & holiday gifts and a great promo code to pass along to your expecting friends - (they will thank you)!
Once you get to, click on "Shop Now" and select the cover or gift set you would like. Type Breastfeeding into the promo code box and it will bring your product total to $0. All you pay is the shipping fees (I think it was around $7). You can use the code more than once - you just have to open a new browser window to do so. You can also use this promo code to get a 3 piece gift set for only $5!
Right before my last babe was born Sept 2008 they had a similar deal and I got one of these, and I do suggest them! These covers are lightweight and not too big. They are a bit plain (or they were when I ordered mine just blue or pink) and as your baby gets older they may reveal (Surprise!!) you from time to time. But I was very happy with mine.
p.s. I was trying to log on to the site and it was down. Not sure if it's my computer or their site is just overloaded. Good luck!

Trash to treasure

I LOVE turning trash into something fabulous! My little girls will just die when I show this project to them. They are always looking for a project, and always dreaming one up and scribbling it down in notepads - could this get any better?

"Need some new notebooks for school or just to stock up on while they are dirt cheap? Make them cuter while also reusing stuff that would normally be trash!" Bethany at The Paper Pony has a GREAT tutorial on how to do it! Her site is really wonderful so you should check it out anyway!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

Have you heard of Bountiful Baskets? Is it available in your area? Not sure? Check it out:

Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op (BBFC) distributes produce baskets, organic produce baskets, breads and other products weekly. BBFC is a group of people who work together for mutual benefit. This is a grassroots, all volunteer, no contracts, no catch co-operative. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, as a group they pay rock bottom prices on your food. (You pay $15 for a regular basket and $25 for organic, for approx $50 worth of food. It is super fresh, fairly locally grown (meaning California instead of Ecuador, etc).
The co-op would not happen without volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include helping prepare the baskets, breaking down boxes, assisting with the distribution, and packing up. If you are interested, check the website for local site, order your basket, and then to help out simply arrive an hour early dressed and ready to work with water to drink.

I've been receiving Bountiful Baskets since they first entered out market in April of 2010. A friend of mine told me about this food co-op which is volunteer run, and suggested I get involved. Soon after in May she started a site closer to our homes. I've been to help sort the fruits and veggies which is a lot of fun.
I have been very happy with the variety of fruits and veggies I've received, and I like that it is a different mix each week. Its a fun challenge for me to try new foods and recipes in order to use all the food by the next week!

I haven't taken a pic of any of my baskets to date but a friend of mine wrote me and told me what she received last week (I actually skipped this last one)
" 6 ears of corn, 1 broccoli, 5 onions, 4 large tomatoes, 2 of the biggest cucumber I've ever seen, romaine lettuce, 1 bag of gala apples, 1 bag of purple grapes(2lbs), 2 mangoes, 6 peaches, 6 plums, 6 other apples, 2 of the largest bananas I've ever seen! "

Make sure you order each week before the deadline (ours is wednesday night by 10pm) though the earlier the better because each site has a set number of baskets available and the food has to be ordered for each site each week. There is a time frame usually of tuesday to wednesday to order. There is also a pickup window of time. Because is it volunteer run nobody wants to sit around at the park all day for you, so 20 min after the pickup time if you haven't showed, the local firehouse benefits from your loss! I've never seen that happen though, because usually people are pretty prompt.

Check out the beautiful pics of what Karina from Bunches and Bits did with her basket full of fruits & veggies! I'm gonna have to try some of these recipes!