Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cleaning Makes Cents

    So I'm cleaning my house today and a thought occurred to me.  Well actually many thoughts occurred to me,  like "I really needed to clip my toe nails like a week ago" and "Darn it, I forgot to buy hot dogs Sunday" and "Why is Lightning McQueen in a sock behind the toilet?" and "If I find one more clump of dog hair I'm trading Copper in for a non-shedding poodle!"  But the thought I wanted to share with you pertains to cleaning supplies and detergents and such.  I spend A LOT of money on cleaning supplies.  Especially since we moved.  I've been better about cleaning the whole house weekly instead of.....well I'd rather not say how often I did it before.  I've got a much bigger house now.  I went from one teeny, tiny bathroom to three bathrooms!  We eat most of our meals here instead of at my momma's house.  There's a lot more to clean these days!  Every week I'm buying Pledge or Scrubbing Bubbles or Windex or Gain or Downy or Finish, and those things aren't cheap!  Now cleaning supplies are absolutely necessary so I'm not gonna stop buying them and let my house go to the dogs.  Although if you could see the red hair on my wood floors right now you'd think I already have.  Copper!  But seriously.  There's got to be a cheaper way to keep my house clean.  My husband works really hard for us to have a comfortable life style and for me to stay at home and how do I thank him?  By making the throne smell like "mountain streams."  Let's spend the money on a trip to the actual mountains and play in an actual stream when we get there!  And is it really necessary for my windows to smell like "crystal rain."  I don't recall ever seeing anyone walk through my house sniffing my windows.  The dogs rub there noses on them, but I don't think that counts!   I pay extra so that my wood furniture and my dishes smell like "oranges," my laundry smells like "the tropics" in "April,"  and my bathroom smells like "fresh mountains springs."  And for what!  So I can open the windows and have the smell of cow poop from neighboring farms fill the house (which I do because turning off the ac and opening the windows and letting the breeze blow through the house saves money on our electric bill).  Well no more!  It's time to start cleaning with the basics.  I know my grandma's didn't have all these choices for cleaning products, and there houses were probably cleaner than mine.  So here's where you come in....  I could probably google it and find all the answers I need, but I want to help you while helping me.  Is there something you've always wanted to try, but you've just been to afraid or even lazy to do it.  Tell me!  I'll try it for you!  For instance, there's a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that I've always wanted to try and I've never done it because I'm too scared that I'll go through all the trouble of collecting the ingredients and making it and then I won't like it.  Not anymore.  As soon as I run out of my current $12 detergent I'm gonna whip up a batch of the homemade stuff, which I know is gonna be way cheaper, and I'll let you know how I like it.  Send me any tips or ideas you have by emailing me or leave it as a comment.  I want to start saving some major money this month and I want to help you do it as well.  So get to sending!

The Woman Who Just Realized She Forgot To Wash Her Hands Between Cleaning The Toilets And Typing This Post 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thrift Store Decor

    At this moment I should be either bathing dogs, cleaning the basement, emptying some boxes I have stacked in my living room, or cleaning something in preparation for my parents arrival this Wednesday.  But instead I'm gonna blog!  I had a few compliments today regarding my blog and it's made me want to share something!  I've decided to show you a few things I did in my living room.  Lots of pictures in this one.  I hope you don't mind.  I doubt you will.
    About three weeks ago I made a run to my local Goodwill and then JoAnns.  I love turning other peoples junk into my own treasure.  You can find some cool stuff at thrift stores if you use your imagination and think outside the box.  Oh, and if you're not afraid to use paint!  I spent about $30 at Goodwill and $17 at JoAnns (clearance and sale items only at JoAnns).  A couple of days after that I invited my neighbor and her toddler to Arc Thrift Store with me and my monkeys.  We had a great time going through the aisles and aisles and aisles of outdated decor.  The key is to go through twice.  You always miss something the first time.  In fact, I missed half of my items the first time.  And probably could have gotten more if I'd gone through again!  But I left with $30 worth of gooooood stuff.  Here's what I got in my two trips....

   The first pic is from GW and JA's, and the second pic is from ATS.  So I didn't use every bit of this in my living room, but I wanted to show you what all I got for the moolah!  The black bone shaped picture frames are gonna go in my groom room, and the books were just bribery items to keep my monkeys quiet and under control while I perused the aisles twice....or maybe three times.  They weren't totally effective.  I mean, it kept them occupied, but when I noticed a long line of people staring angrily at me because they couldn't get past because my 2 year old was laying flat on his back across the aisle looking at his book...I got a bit flustered.  Especially when his bones turned to jelly the moment I tried to lift him to a standing position.  Bah!  I just smiled and apologized to all the grumpy people passing by while my little one grunted and flopped and flailed in my arms.  I wonder how I'm gonna pay him back for that one when I'm old and he has to take me places with him.  Maybe I'll do the jelly bones maneuver and slide out of my wheelchair in the produce section at Walmart.  Then he can be the one to pick me up grunting and flailing while people just stare at him like he's an idiot.  Ha!  Anyways...back to my thrift store decor.  There are a few more of these items you won't see again in this post, but I'm using them other places or have plans for them.  So in a previous post you saw I painted the frames for my staircase wall.  In this post I'm going to show you two other items I painted with a pretty blue spray paint.  Unfortunately I didn't get an up close picture of the befores, but here are the afters.  First is a brass colored metal barrel shaped thingy.  I have absolutely no idea what it is, but I liked the shape, so I painted it, distressed it a bit, and threw some smell good pine cones (that I bought at JoAnns on sale) in it.
    I think it's cool.  Then I painted a small candle holder.  It's a pillar style, which I love, but it was dark wood, which I don't love.  So after painting and distressing it a bit, I put it in the white tray I had bought at JoAnns.  The tray was originally $17, but because it was cracked all the way across, they gave it to me for $4.  Score!  I threw in more of the pine cones, which covered the crack, and put it on my coffee table. 
   I love the pop of blue and the red pine cones!  Moving on.....did you see the "whiskey jug" I had gotten at Goodwill.  I loved the shape and I wanted to fill it with green peas to add some color.  However, I did not want to buy $10 worth of peas to put in my $4 jug.  So.......with a hot glue gun and some jute twine I already had I wrapped the bottom half of the jug with the twine and then shoved plastic bags inside.  That way I only had to buy half the peas and you wouldn't see the bags in the bottom.  Also, the screw lid on the jar was plastic, which I did not like, so I cut a piece of burlap I had to put over the lid and tied it down with more twine.  I decided it looked nice on my fireplace. 
     There are a couple of things I like about this.  The textures from the twine, burlap, and peas, and the colors from the twine, burlap, and peas.  They add so much to the already cool shape of the jug.  Love it!  Okay, so I'll try to wrap this up.  I wanted to put the rest of my super cool thrifty finds on my empty arch.
    Isn't it so sad up there?  But oh the possibilities!  Here were a couple of my favorite purchases....
    I love this little lantern!  It has a broken leg, but you won't be able to see it.  I absolutely adore the shape and glass and metal details.  Here's another cool piece....
    Eeeeeeeee!  I got so excited when I found this.  And look at that price tag...$1.99!  Soap and water and a magic eraser made this baby shine.  I stacked my goodies on each side of the archway.  I would love to have twice the amount I have up there, but if I'm patient I'll find the perfect pieces.  Here's how it turned out.....

    The two baskets and the greenery in the first pic were things I already had, so I stacked 'em up and threw 'em up there.  The cool basket in the second pic is a picnic basket I found at Arc.  The handle was broken so I just removed it.  I love that basket!  I'm aware that the blue barrel shaped thingy needs more pine cones.  I'm working on it.  I've mentioned before that my enthusiasm runs out.  It may take a few months.  I threw the greenery up there because it needed something.  I'd prefer a vase with some tall grass, but I didn't have one.  I guess that means I need to go back to a thrift store.  There's a new one on Lincoln I want to try.  Who wants to go with me?

Awaiting Your Invitation To Go Thrifting,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Idiot In The Kitchen

    I consider myself a pretty smart girl.  Not a genius by any means, but I have a good head on my shoulders.  Of course someone in high school once told me their sister said my head was small in proportion to the rest of my body and since that moment I have always been self conscious of my seemingly small head and how it looks against the rest of my body especially when my hair is slicked back into a pony tail.  Teenagers are cruel.  Forget my small head.  Back to my large brain!  I made good grades throughout school.  I graduated third in my class.  I made a 4.0 in college.  (My college career consisted of one class, but I got an A so that's a 4.0 thank you very much!)  I successfully ran a small business for 11 months.  I'm no idiot!  Except when I enter a kitchen.  My brain seems to totally disappear whenever I come within 6 feet of a stove.  Or measuring cups.  Or measuring spoons.  Or crock pots.  But I'm great with a fridge or dishwasher!  Sometimes my brain will even disappear when I'm making my grocery list.  For example, yesterday I made red beans, sausage, and rice.  It was on my list to make this week.  I had gone to the grocery store Friday and gotten all the ingredients, except THE RICE!  Rice is in the title of the entree and yet I still managed to forget it.  And I didn't realize I forgot it until it was almost time to cook it.  Oh well, nothing a quick trip to WalMart with two extremely whiny and cranky children can't fix.  There were tears and gnashing of teeth but I managed to keep them alive until we got back to the car.  And we got brownies.  So it was all good!  Cooking eggs is always a nightmare.  If everyone's life depended on me being able to successfully fry an egg, then I hate to say it, but we'd all be dead.  I've tried for years.  I can't do it.  In the event our lives depend on it then please choose someone else to save us.  I also think I develop dyslexia when reading recipes.  I constantly confuse one ingredients measurement for another.   Especially when making oatmeal.  You'd think I would have learned by now, but it's the dyslexia's fault.  Have you ever tried to cook 1 & 3/4 cup of dry oatmeal in 1 cup of water?  It. Don't. Work.  Now 1 cup of dry oatmeal in 1 & 3/4 cup of water works!  Which is why they print those directions on the side of the oatmeal container that I can't read because I develop "kitchen dyslexia."   
    In closing, I believe this is all my own fault.  For years I teased my mother for her lack of culinary skills.  She cooks well enough.  She kept our bellies full for umpteen years.  I always asked her "How can you do exactly what the recipe calls for and it still doesn't come out right?  Geez!"  Well, I still don't know the answer to that question, but it's one I ask myself almost every time I finish cooking something.  Punishment from God for questioning my mother?  Why yes.  I believe it is.

The Kitchen Dyslexic 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


    Today I'm going to write about something thrifty.  My idea of thrifty is getting what you want without paying very much money.  And by "very much money" I mean the price you'd pay for something brand new in a store.

    We have been in our new home for six months now.  We love this house.  It's everything we wanted (except the fenced yard that I was promised would be the first priority when we moved in. Pft!).   Out of all the houses we looked at this was the only one that had a bit of a Southern feel.  We loved it instantly and knew it was meant for us.  And now it's time for decorating.  Well, it's past time actually, but I've finally come to the point where I just can't stand its bareness anymore.  I decided I want a picture collage going up the stairs.  I love picture walls of randomness.  I'm not a "line it all up" kinda girl.  I'm a "throw it and see where it lands" kinda girl.  I also like the mix and match feel.  So I didn't want a bunch of the exact same frames.  Where's the fun in that?!  So I went to my local Goodwill.  We have an awesome Goodwill.  I poured over the stacks of frames.  I wanted to make sure they weren't broken.  Nothing worse than getting home and realizing the back won't stay closed.  I made sure the glass wasn't broken, obviously.  I wasn't too concerned with size or color.  I just had to like the shape and design.  I bought six frames and didn't pay more than $2.49 a piece for any of them.  Here's what I brought home.  (Ignore the other stuff.  That's for a later blog.)
    After Goodwill I ran by Lowe's and bought a can of brown spray paint.  I chose something with the slightest hint of red in it.  I like color and I didn't want anything too dark.  I removed all the glass and backs and spray painted them all.  I actually added another frame I had bought a while back for another project and never used.  While they were drying I pulled out my Windex and cleaned all the glass.  Then I chose the pictures I wanted to go inside.  All of the frames were 5x7 or larger and I only had the standard 4x6 prints.  So instead of spending more money to print bigger pictures, I simply added a piece of burlap fabric behind each picture as a kind of matting.  I love the way it pulls all the different pics together with a neutral background while adding a little texture.  Four days later I decided to hang them.  (My enthusiasm runs out quickly.)  It took forever for me to pick a good layout for hanging them because random placements are not truly random.  So this is a before and after of that wall....

    See all that empty space farther up the stairs.  I call that the place where dreams come true.  Because one day I'm hoping my hubsband will wake up and say, "The rest of that wall is really bare.  We need to put something there."  And I'll say, "Yeah, you're right.  Some more family pics would look really good.  Ooooo....Maybe with mountains in the background!"  And he'll say, "Oh yeah!  That would look really nice!  Why don't you go ahead and find a photographer for us?"  And I'll say, "Okay!  That's a good idea sweetsie pie."  And he'll gladly pay for and participate in family photos and we'll live happily ever after.  And since I'm dreaming it will truly be a dream come true.  See how the wall got it's name..... 
    Here's an up close shot so you can see the burlap in the back.

    Dawwww....  Isn't that the cutest wittle picture.  Here's another one for the cuteness....
    Precious!  Quite frankly I probably could have hung these pictures on the wall with thumbtacks and people would still think they were wonderful.  Look at Ian's afro puff and Wesley's basketball head.  I miss those tiny wittle guys.  Wait a minute.....they're potty trained now and they weren't then.  Maybe I don't miss them that much.
     Here's the last frame.  I had intended on putting it on the wall, but I like it better on the fireplace. 
    I'm finally able to display some of my favorite snap shots.  So for roughly $12 in frames, $4 in spray paint (which I didn't use all of), and $2 in burlap (which I only used half of) I was able to decorate half of my staircase wall and begin decorating above my fireplace.  Spending $18 to decorate and display my family pics, I'd say that's pretty thrifty! 
    More to come in the decor department.  You saw that table.  I got lots of gooooood stuff. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Culottes and Shin Socks

So today was my big boy's first day of school.  I can not believe he is old enough for school!  It seems like only yesterday he was at the pantry asking for doo-wah's (that's cookies) and ro-ro (that's peanut butter) and crawling all over Ro-Ro (that's our dog- Confusing I know.  Imagine my frustration).  Anyhoo, today was the big day.  Last night I let him pick out his clothes for this morning.  I'm not too particular on what he wears, so I had no problem with him picking it out.  He chose a nice red shirt with "Freedom" written across it.  Not surprising to me as red is his favorite color.  And green.  He thinks everyone must have two favorite colors.  He also chose a pair of navy blue gym shorts.  Didn't exactly match the red shirt with black letters, but I'm cool with that.  So this morning he gets himself dressed and happily hops down stairs.  I take one look at him and think, "Yeesh!  Is that really how I want him to look on his first ever day of school?!"  I guess it was partially..... ok totally my fault.  When I bought these clothes a few weeks ago, I just assumed that the correct size on the tag meant they would fit him.  So I never tried them on him before now.  I was wrong!  The shirt was big, but I could live with that.  The shorts, however, were culottes!  "Ian.  Baby.  Maybe we should get you another pair of shorts."  "But I like these shorts."  "But they're a little too big, sweetie."  "No they aren't."  "Yes. They are."  "No they aren't."  "Yes, they.... Fine.  Whatever."  We have enough battles in this house.  I choose mine wisely!  "Well, can we at least roll your waistband down once.  Here.  Like this."  "NO!  I don't like that.  I like them like this."   Bah!  Oh well, it can't get any worse, right?  Wrong!  As my sweet child put on his ankle socks, he proceeded to pull them up as high as he could get them.  Mid shin, in fact.  I tried in vain to persuade him to pull them back down to his ankles, but you can imagine how that went.  (Read the previous battle and apply it to the sock situation if you just really can't imagine!)  Alas we were ready to go.  I pulled out the camera and began to snap a few "first day of school" pictures.  This was the result of Ian dressing himself.

Isn't that McDonald's happy meal light saber toy awesome.  He could totally take out an entire miniature clone army with that thing.  But don't worry.....it's not real.  It won't hurt you.  He assured his Sweetie of this when talking to her on Skype the other night.  As awesome as it is, I really would have preferred the picture without it, but this is what happened when I asked him to put it away...
As someone else said.....Pure Disappointment.  Fine!  Keep the dern thing!  Now for a back shot...
See.  I told you.  Culottes!  And check out the gray heel of his socks.  Right where they should be.  Peeking out of the back of his shoes.  (I'm rolling my eyes.)  And here's one more of my sweet, adorable, precious little angels.
 The moment after this picture was taken Wesley "let one go" on his brother, they erupted into giggles, and the photo shoot was over.  Ahhh....little boys.

Good Night,

A Burning Question

So last night I decided to make Salisbury Steak for my hubsband.  (That's not a typo.  I like to call him my hubsband.)  The recipe called for one onion finely chopped.  Bah!  I hate chopping onions.  My eyes are watering right now just thinking about it.  Well maybe they're watering because I just sent my baby to school this morning and he's way too young and I should be pouring him a sippy cup of chocolate juice and kissing his boo boos but instead he yelled "I love you Mommy" and took off like he had better things to do and he could totally take care of himself but I miss him!!!  Phew, anyways, where were we?  Oh yes.  Onions!  So here is my question.....  Who was the first person to cut open an onion and, with tears streaming down their face and vision blurred by the fumes, say, "Oh yeah, we should totally eat this!  Let's just throw it in some butter and cook it for a while.  It'll be great!"?   If I cut something open and it made me cry and unable to see I would go straight to the ER and make sure I wasn't poisoned, not EAT it!  But apparently onions are okay to ingest, so I began to slice and dice and chop.  I chose to do this at arms length on a cutting board on the stove with the vent on high, but the tears still came.  "What's wrong, Mommy?"  "Nothing, Ian"  "Then why are you crying?"  "It's this onion."  "Did the onion make you sad?"  "No, Ian.  My eyes are just burning."  "Did the onion hurt you?"  "No, the fumes just make your eyes water."  "So you're not sad."  "No."  "So you're not hurt."  "No, Ian!"  "Then can I have a cookie?"  "NO!  Get out of the kitchen!!"  Have I mentioned how much I love my children?  Maybe I should make that my next post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here We Go.....

I finally did it!  I've been wanting to start this blog for a while, but one thing was holding me back.  The title!  I could not figure out what I wanted to call this thing.  I wanted the title to describe what I would be writing about, obviously, but I didn't want it to limit my writing options.  Mostly I wanted to write about the crafty stuff I do.  I also wanted to throw in the occasional funny story.  My kids have created some hoopla in my life!  Lately I've been determined to be even more frugal.  I love the satisfaction of getting what you want but spending as little money as possible.  Which made me realize that a lot of my craftiness comes from wanting to spend less.  So there you have it.  I wanted to write about the funny stuff and the frugal stuff that is "My Witty Thrifty Life!"  I'm hoping that by sharing some of the things I do to save money, it will actually inspire me to do more thrifty things as well as inspire you.  So enjoy!  I hope you laugh!  I hope you save some money!   And I hope you continue reading!  (Really.....please continue reading....it would be kinda pathetic if I were sharing these with no one.)

Take care, polar bear!