Archive for ‘{un}Perfect Finances’

March 8, 2011

FREE 8×10 Canvas!

I have SO many photos of my kids…on my computer.  I need to get some of them printed!  This is a great opportunity to get a super deal on wrapped canvas prints.  Canvas People is offering {for a limited time, so hurry!} a free 8×10 canvas or $50 off a larger size.  Check it out here!  FREE 8×10 CANVAS

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March 2, 2011

Who likes money??

Over the years I’ve come across MANY programs that claim to earn you big bucks online.  Some of them are a bust, but some of them are legit and pretty darn cool!  Allow me to introduce you to a few of my tried-and-true faves 🙂

MYPOINTS
I’ve been using MyPoints for 6.5 years now.  They send emails daily and you can earn points by clicking on a link within the email.  Other ways to earn points include surveys, online searches using the MyPoints toolbar, online shopping and completing “deals”.  I typically stick to reading the emails and an occasional survey.  On average I’m able to rack up enough points to earn a gift card every 4-6 months {my go-to: $25 Macy’s gift card – sure helps take the sting out of paying for those pricey jeans I’m drawn to!}.
CON: The daily emails {sometimes up to 10/day} can get a bit overwhelming if you don’t keep up with them.  The plus side of that is that if you do stay on top of them, you can earn points pretty quickly.  Click here to check it out.

INBOX DOLLARS
Similar to MyPoints, Inbox Dollars pays you to read emails, take surveys, shop online and more.  The really cool thing about Inbox Dollars, though, is that they’ll actually send you a check!  Each email you read {make sure you click on the link inside the email} gives you $0.02.  Not a huge amount, but it adds up!  Once you earn $30, you can request a payout.  They’ll charge you $2 or $3 to cut the check, but hey–that’s $27 for just clicking on some emails!  And Inbox Dollars will send you an average of 2-3 emails/day.  Taking surveys will give between $0.50 and $2/survey.  You can get paid for referring friends as well and get this–you’ll get $5.00 right off the bat, just for signing up!
CON: With just 2-3 emails/day, it can take a while to earn the $30 necessary for a payout.  But at least you won’t get overrun with emails 🙂  Click here to check it out. **{I’m not sure why, but that link isn’t working.  Try copy/pasting this: http://www.inboxdollars.com/?r=ref1832033}

SEND EARNINGS
See the above information.  As far as I can tell, the only difference between Inbox Dollars and Send  Earnings is the color scheme on their website.  Seriously.  Not sure what the deal is, but I tend to get identical emails sent from both programs.  Whatever–I’ll take it!  Click here to check it out.

SWAGBUCKS
Probably the quickest way to earn rewards.  You can earn “bucks” by searching {tip: download the toolbar!}, playing games, shopping, surveys, daily polls, special offers and more.  I stick to searching almost exclusively and I’m able to earn enough bucks to get a $5 Amazon.com gift card {450 swagbucks} each week.  Although lately I’ve be holding out just a bit longer to earn $5 deposited into my Paypal account.  I love free money!  I was even featured on our local news for using SwagBucks 🙂
TIP: Download the toolbar and use it for ALL your searches.  I typically start each day “searching” for things like Yahoo {to get to my email}, Facebook, ebay, etc.  For every few searches {approximately every 6 searches or so} you’ll be rewarded with swagbucks.  Could be 6, could be 12…you never know.   Click here to check it out.

None of these programs are going to earn you a supplemental income, regardless what they claim, but they will give you a little financial boost every now and then.  All of these programs are free to join – don’t ever pay to join an online reward program! 

Do you use online rewards programs?  Feel free to share them in the comment section!

January 18, 2011

A good ol’ American contest of my own

When we were in Chicago for our annual Christmas trip with my family it was taking a bit longer than expected to check into our hotel.  My mom always does the checking in, the kids always throw pennies {from the rolls they get in their stockings} into the fountain with The Hubs.  I was just standing around and noticed a small American Girl display at the end of the counter–it was a contest.  Why not??  I had nothing else going on right then, so I filled out an entry.  I never win things, so I didn’t really even pay attention to what I could win.  We got our room keys and off we went, not giving the contest another thought. 

Cut to a week or two later: I’m hustling to get out the door to bring M to school.  The home phone rings {which is pretty rare in and of itself}.  The caller ID says Embassy Suites.  Huh.  Maybe we left something in our hotel room?  I don’t usually answer unless it’s someone I know {and, truthfully, I don’t always answer even then!  Shhh!} but for some reason I picked up the phone.  The guy asked for me {this is}, then asked if I had recently stayed at their hotel {yes}.  Well, I had been chosen as the winner of their quarterly American Girl drawing!  Me!  I was SO excited that I still didn’t ask what I had won–oops!  I knew the guy said something about a doll coming from the warehouse in a few weeks, but that was about it.  YIPPEE!!  A has two Bitty Babies that she got for her 4th and 5th birthdays, has had lunch at American Girl Place with her doll and looks forward to a trip to AGP each time we’re in Chicago.  Being the eBay queen that I am, I was calculating how much I could make by selling an AG doll, but I knew A would appreciate a “big” doll so much more 🙂 

Cut to today: the FedEx truck pulls up to drop off a package and I was thinking, hmm…can’t remember ordering anything; must be for the Hubs.  I grab it and see that it’s THE DOLL!!  A was THRILLED! 

{A with her new "big sister" doll. Excited??}

{a "mama" with her girls...which--she often reminds me--makes me "grandma". Booo!}

I’m not gonna lie, I checked eBay now that I knew exactly what we were looking for and other similar new-in-box AG dolls had sold for…$139.99!!!  {sigh}  I asked if she wanted me to sell it so we could find one {used, perhaps??} that looks like her {brown hair/eyes}.  At first she said yes {yessss!}, but then she changed her mind.  Bummer.  Oh well, she loves her new doll “Eliana” and I look forward to the fun trips we’ll take to AGP with her in the future 🙂

January 2, 2011

Pics for the Pits

Here are the aforepromised pics of the deodorant-making process.

{most of the lovely ingredients}

3 Tablespoons shea butter
3 Tablespoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons cocoa butter
2 vitamin E oil gel caps (puncture and squeeze out the oil)
Essential Oil {I use tea tree oil and lavender}

{Measuring in the shea butter}

Measure the butters, baking soda and corn starch into a microwave safe container.

{Here’s where I’ll add a weird {un}perfect little tidbit about myself.  I get the chills just thinking about corn starch!  I mean, nails-on-the-chalkboard kind of chills.  Seriously can’t stand it.  Other things that give me the willy-chillies: styrofoam, red delicious apples, under-cooked green beans, and cotton balls.  I hate things that are “squeaky” to the bite or touch.  You should see my arms right now–TOTAL goose bumps even just thinking about all these things!}

Hmm…guess I didn’t remember to take any more pics of the deodorant process.  Remember how I said I’m good at starting things??  Yeah…

In any case…  After you’ve measured all the ingredients {minus the vitamin E and essential oil}, microwave for about 30-60 seconds until the butters have melted.  Stir it all together, then add the oils.  It takes a bit more essential oil than you would think because the smell of the butters is pretty strong.  Not necessarily bad, just strong, ya know?  I use tea tree oil because it has anti-bacterial properties, but I also use another scent {like lavender} to sort of soften the scent up a little.

After you’ve stirred in the Vitamin E oil and the essential oils, pour the mixture into your container.  This recipe makes about 1/4 pint.  Put the container into the fridge {I promise, this time it’s ok to speed up the setting process!} to harden.

When I use this deodorant, I use a craft stick {think un-used popsicle stick} to scrape out about a pea-sized amount and then rub it in on my pits.  It feels a little oily and moist {in a good way}, so go ahead and rub it in like lotion.   This deodorant won’t necessarily keep you completely dry, but it’s a great all-natural {without all those scary breast cancer concerning chemical ingredients} deodorant option.  I’m extra-stinky {I’ve been known to use “prescription strength” deodorant}, so sometimes I’ll apply twice a day, but for more normal pitted people, once should be enough.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Send me the good, the bad and the stinky comments!

January 2, 2011

Better late than never, eh?

On New Year’s Eve, The Hubs and I had a few couples over for a low-key evening.  Part of the evening involved me showing off my awesome skills with lotion and chapstick, which also gave me the chance to take a few pics.  True to my {un}perfect life, this would be the one time I’d run into trouble with the super-duper-easy-to-make lotion.  Oy!  I’m still not totally sure what went wrong, but there ended up being a layer of thick creamy lotion on top of a milky white watery substance in the bottom of the jar.  As I went back to the original recipe at A Sonoma Garden, I saw that the temperature of the wax/oil mix and the water has to be correct in order for it to set right.  Fortunately I made it work…I gave the jars a good stir and heated the mixture up just a bit {1/4 pint jars = 30 seconds}.  That seemed to fix my problem.  Now I just need to figure out where I went wrong in the first place.  {Update: I made another batch last night and left the jars on the counter to set rather than putting them in the fridge.  The lotion set up perfectly–no separation at all!}

Ok, enough about my issues…on to the photos!

{Ingredients}

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 Cup emulsifying wax
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1-1/4 Cup water
  • Essential oils

{wax & oil}

Measure the wax and oil into a microwave safe dish.

{melted waxy oiliness}

Heat it until the wax has melted {about 60 seconds – 155 degrees}

{time for the scent}

Heat the 1 1/4 cup water for about 30-40 seconds {120 degrees}.  While the water is heating, add a few drops of whatever yummy scented essential oil{s} you’d like.  I’ve used my trusty lavender {from my laundry detergent}, or tea tree oil {remember, it has anti-bacterial properties?  Sort of an all-natural antibacterial lotion, if you will}, or a “grapefruit blush” fragrance that I got at Hobby Lobby {yum!}.

{like magic!}

Now watch in amazement–as you pour the hot water into the wax/oil mixture, it turns milky white!  How cool is that?!  {Sorry, I’m easily amused}  The lotion should be about 125 degrees at this point.

{pour away}

Pour the milky lotion liquid into your jar/container of choice.  This recipe makes a pint of lotion.  The jar pictured is a 1/2 pint jar, but I just bought some 1/4 pint jars that are pretty cute, too…and the recipe fills 4 of them!  {I’m good at math, huh?}

{Doesn't everybody keep lotion, Sprite and broccoli together in their fridge?}

This may be where I went wrong.  I think I shouldn’t have put the lotion in the fridge to set.  Again, I’m impulsive and impatient {do you sense a pattern here?} and couldn’t wait “overnight” for the lotion to set, so the fridge seems like a logical option.  Maybe it cooled it too fast and that’s how the separation occurred?  Anyway, don’t put it in the fridge, just let it sit on your counter for a few hours to set.  {Definitely where I went wrong–when I made a batch and let them set overnight on the counter, it worked perfectly}

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s photos: deodorant!

December 29, 2010

{Un}Chemicalled {aka all-natural} Beauty Products

So, have I mentioned that I’m not perfect?!  🙂

I am SO good at starting things, but often fail to follow them through to completion.  Can anyone feel me on that?

I’ve been busy, busy, busy this Christmas season taking a brief trip back to my craftiness.  For gifts for some of the women in my life I MADE all-natural lotion, chapstick and deodorant {yes, I took another stab at the homemade deodorant}!  Oh my goodness…super-duper fun.   I haven’t taken any pictures {yet!} of the process, but I will point you directly to my source at A Sonoma Garden.  I’m going to give the deodorant one more shot at controlling my WAY {un}perfect stinkiness!  The thing I like a lot better about this new recipe than the first one is that it has cocoa butter and shea butter and feels oh-so-good on my pits.  I think I may have to use a little more tea tree oil {which has all-natural antibacterial properties} than I’ve been using.  I’ve been holding back because it’s a strong scent, but for crying out loud, I need something to cover the “scent” of my B.O.!  Ok, enough about my stinkiness…  The lotion is THE easiest thing to make.  Seriously, unbelievably easy.  The toughest part for this “want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it” mama was waiting for my shipment of supplies from Mountain Rose Herbs.  And besides being easy, it is also of the feels oh-so-good persuasion.  Speaking of oh-so-good…the chapstick!  I can’t say enough about it all!  Lovin’ my all-natural, free of {un}perfect chemicals, beauty products.  Try them–let me know what you think!

Oh, and these products {while they may require a small investment up front–like $20-40, depending on how many of the recipes you attempt} are easy on the budget too!  The supplies make so many batches–great gifts and plenty to stock up for yourself.  Maybe you could share supplies with a friend or two to cut down on the cost even more?  Have a make-you-own beauty supplies party!

We now return me to my regularly {un}scheduled {un}perfect life…

July 27, 2010

FABuccino!

So…I have a serious coffee addiction.  I’ve been known to scrounge and present nickels as payment.  Starbucks, Biggby, McDonald’s or even Speedway–it just doesn’t matter as long as it’s got caffeine and tastes halfway decent.  Recently I was perusing Martha Stewart’s website and she had the most glorious idea that helps my coffee addiction {in the summer} AND my budget!  What’s the main problem with making your own iced coffee?  The ice always dilutes the coffee way too much.  Enter genius {and DUH} idea: coffee ice cubes!  Why in the world had I not thought of that?

{Iced Coffee}

Every morning/afternoon when you have cold coffee left over in your coffee pot, pour it into ice cube trays to make your coffee cubes.  And then maybe start another pot dedicated specifically to chill so your iced coffee stays even colder.  Once your cubes are frozen, combine them with chilled coffee, milk and/or creamer, optional sweetener, optional syrup, mix, sit back and refresh your way to a fatter wallet!

Today I thought I’d take my iced coffee a step further and try it blended.  Can I just say…YUM!

{Coffee cubes}

Fill you glass with coffee cubes, then halfway full of chilled coffee.

{Chilled coffee}

Fill the rest of the way with milk, creamer and the rest of your optional {and highly recommended} goodies.

{Milk--fat free for me, please}

{Mmmm...Oh how I love caramel!}

Dump it all into the blender {I love using my Magic Bullet} and Frappe away into a creamy dreamy budget friendly treat.

{Talk about magic...}

Not only do I love a DIY caffeine fix, but I love saving $4+ on my addiction–I mean, habit 😉

{More GOODIES on top!}

July 26, 2010

Stinky Pits Solved: Au Natural

I found this “recipe” for homemade deodorant here the other day and thought, why not? Here’s how:

{Ingredients}

  • 1/4 C. Corn Starch
  • 1/4 C. Baking Soda
  • 6 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • Empty deodorant container

{Mix it up}

Mix all three ingredients up with a fork until it forms a semi-solid mixture.  Since I made this in the summer and I don’t always keep the AC on, my coconut oil melted making my mixture look like this:

{creamy dreamy}

Very creamy and pretty, but not what I need…so into the fridge it went for about 10 minutes.

{That's better}

There we go!   I also added a couple drops of lavender oil for a light scent.

{SMASH}

Now it’s the perfect consistency to smash into an empty deodorant container.  Smash away!

{Ta-Da!}

The end product!

I tried it for a few days in our humid 80+ degree weather and I’ve decided a few things about it:

  • It worked!  It honestly kept the stink away!
  • Unfortunately my {unperfect!} skin might just be a bit too sensitive for this recipe, but I think I’ll give it another try.  Stay tuned…
  • It’s a great idea to keep the deodorant in the fridge during the summer since coconut oil “melts” and turns to liquid at 76 degrees F.
  • Deodorant is FUN to make!
July 21, 2010

Gettin’ {un}Dirty on the Cheap

About a year ago I stumbled across a blog posting about homemade laundry detergent.  Being that I a) am crafty and love making stuff, b) have sensitive skin, so the more natural the ingredients, the better and c) am cheap, I thought I’d give it a shot.  It was easy, fun…and it works!  I’ve been using nothing but this homemade laundry detergent for the last year and I don’t see any reason to start buying commercial detergent again any time soon.

Ingredients

{detergent ingredients}

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap
Optional – several drops essential oil for scent (I use lavender)

I found all three of the soaps in the laundry aisle of Meijer.  I’ve seen Borax and the Super Washing Soda in a lot of other grocery stores, but the Fels-Naptha can be a little trickier to find.

{divided fels-naptha}

Step 1 Cut Fels-Naptha.  I “draw” lines on the bar with a knife so I have a guideline for the thirds.

{grated fels-naptha}

Step 2 Grate 1/3 of the Fels-Naptha bar into a stock pot.  I used my Pampered Chef cheese grater, but any old grater will do.

{add water}

Step 3 Add 6 cups of water and heat until Fels-Naptha dissolves

{fels-naptha + borax + super washing soda}

Step 4 Add 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup super washing soda.  Heat on med-high heat for about 15 minutes.  The original recipe says that it should reach a honey-like consistency, but I have yet to accomplish that…and so far it’s worked ok 🙂

Oh…and don’t be like me and decide that 4:00 in the afternoon is a good time to finally finish getting ready and FORGET that soap is cooking on your stove at a high heat!  Oops!  Luckily I caught it just before it cascaded into a super soapy mess all over my squeaky clean {ha ha…right} stove.

{to scent or not to scent...that is the question}

Now is also a good time to add a few drops of essential oils if you’d like.  It’s certainly not necessary–this stuff smells pretty darn good all on its own!

Step 5 Now you get to add 5 1/2 quarts of water {Not so good at conversions?  That’s 22 cups} and stir until it’s mixed well.  I have a large enough stock pot that it all fits, but you may need to use a bucket.

{fill 'er up}

Step 6 Using a funnel, pour the mixture into an old detergent bottle.  This recipe makes 1 1/2 gallons so you’ll likely need more than one bottle.  I’m impulsive and don’t like to wait around once I’ve got an idea. I didn’t have big enough empty bottles so, in addition to my two smaller Tide bottles, I had to improvise and use an old {very well washed out} windshield washer fluid bottle – ha!

{yep, an old windshield washer fluid bottle--whatever works!}

For a regular sized load of laundry, use about 1/2 cup.  I typically do LARGE loads {because I’m a procrastinator and let the laundry pile up until we don’t have any clean underwear left} and I use 2 caps full {Tide bottle caps}.

I’ve been making this detergent for a year now and I–just yesterday–made my 4th batch.  I’m still on my first box of super washing soda {about 1/2way through @ $3/box) and Borax {about 1/3 of the way through @ $5-6/box}.  I just started another bar of Fels-Naptha, but at $1.39 each, it sure doesn’t break the bank 😉

Stay tuned…today I made my own deodorant.  If it works and The Hubs doesn’t force me back to my old “regular” stick, I’ll post the pics and recipe.  Gotta love ways to work on that {un}perfect budget!

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