Posts tagged ‘budget’

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

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 🙂

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.

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:}

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.

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 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!

February 9, 2011

Oh happy day!

Today was my birthday and it was such a fun one!  In the past I’ve had super high expectations for this once-a-year celebration.  You know what happens when you have really high expectations?  They almost never get met, then you’re left with disappointment.  Not fun.  This year I collaborated a bunch with God to lower my expectations and truly appreciate every little thing that came my way.  And you know what?  It was an incredible birthday!  Seriously, the best.  I started out last night enjoying some trash TV {The Bachelor} with my girlfriends.  We had wine, fun and a lot of laughs.  I even got an early gift of…comfort food!  My girl C.Y. brought me a box of Wheat Thins {HA!} and another fave–a Starbucks gift card.  Yum.  I just love Monday nights with the girls.  We “partied” until it was officially my birthday, then we went home to crash.

{with my friend/neighbor J.J.--showing off my rosette necklace}

This morning I got to sleep in a bit, then went downstairs to gifts from my fam.  Monkey A was more than happy to give me her sweet card {one that plays a song…which will inevitably become HER card to listen to over and over} that included a gift card to one of my favorite cheap/trendy stores: Charlotte Russe 🙂  The Hubs had made me a card with a poem he had written about our last year {love his poems!} and another CR gift card.  Yes!  A informed me {stage whisper} that M’s card contained a 3rd CR gift card.  WOOHOO!  However, M was insistent that I not open his card until I was eating birthday cake.  That’s what you’re supposed to do; that’s what he did.  🙂 

After breakfast we got in the car and headed west a bit {but not before using part of my Starbucks card, of course} to join my mom, my friend A.M. and her kids for our “usual”.  Our “usual” is most parents’ nightmare.  But we love it: Chuck E. Cheese’s!  Honestly, where else can you go and, for under $25, enjoy lunch and 3-4 hours of adult conversation while your kids run around FULLY entertained?  Ok, maybe there are a few other places, but we seriously love our regular CEC “dates”.  We have found that Tuesday mornings are usually pretty dead around there.  And we’ve been there so many times over the last 2 years that the manages know us by name.  They now help us find the best coupon codes, sneak our kids extra tokens and tickets {M calls one manager “Sneaky Tony”}, bring special treats for them…it’s our own personal kid-friendly Cheers!  And ok, I have to admit that A.M. and I have a favorite game we like to play as well 😉  No cake was consumed {I’m trying to actually complement my working out by sort of watching what I eat}, but M agreed to let me open my card {another musical one, of course} over my birthday pizza {I said “sort of” watching what I eat…}, especially since I was opening my gifts from A.M. 🙂

{A.W. and A.M. at C.E.C.}

After a fun and full day at CEC, the kids and I headed back home just in time to pick up the house a bit before the babysitters came over.  Warning: you’re about to be totally jealous.  Our two neighbor girls {ages 12 and 14}, who our kids adore, babysit FOR POINTS!  Yep, for about half the year they don’t accept money for babysitting.  Their church has a point program where the kids earn points by doing things like shoveling {yes, we’ve been on the receiving end of that one too!}, babysitting, and other forms of helping.  If the kids earn a certain number of points, the church will pay their way to summer camp in full.  It’s awesome!  So…after our super-sitters arrived, another friend dropped over to bring me yet another of my comfort food staples: Diet Dr. Pepper!  Not only that, but a new tube of lip gloss.  I’m a little more than slightly obsessed with lip gloss and I LOVE trying new stuff.  Perfect little birthday surprises!  The Hubs and I headed to the mall to do a little bit of shopping before our dinner reservation.  Once at the restaurant, we ran into not one, not two but THREE sets of friends!  Two sets were celebrating birthdays today as well.  The Hubs and I enjoyed a delicious dinner, I had some incredible wine and a cute little complimentary dessert.  And even better–we used our GROUPON {if you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to!  Click here}, so it was half price!  Oh, how I love saving money 🙂

{The Hubs and me}

{random run-in with J.S. and K.S.}

{fun birthday treat}

{isn't it cute??}

Now here I sit, so grateful, a heart full of love and toasty warm in my University of Michigan Snuggie… Amazing how when we lower our expectations, they’re almost always exceeded!  As my mom says, We need to raise our expectations of God and lower our expectations of people. People will let you down, but God never will.  Right on, Mama; right on…

February 2, 2011

A Greener Cleaner

A friend of mine from high school owns a company called Greener Cleaner, an enviro-friendly cleaning company. She makes her own plant based cleaning products and customizes the scent to the liking of her clients.  {How cool is that?!}   I recently asked her to send along a “recipe” that’s GREEN all around–good for the environment as well as the budget.  This one’s a  fun drain cleanser/deodorizer you can make and use with your kids:
~1~ Vinegar
~2~ Baking Soda
~3~ Your Favorite Scents {essential oils} – this is where we would customize!  I usually choose Orange with a hint of Lavender for its antibacterial properties. 
~4~ Measuring Cup


Now grab your goodies and head to the bathroom or kitchen sink!  Yup, that’s where we’re headed!  Also, call the kids; it’s going to be time for cleaning fun!  Hey, you want your kids to grow up to know how to do the basics, and to learn a few tricks along the way.  And while you’re at it, teach them how to take care of the earth!
Step1) now that you’ve arrived @ your destination, you’re going to sprinkle about 1/4C Baking Soda into the drain in the sink.  ~ I keep mine in a “shaker”, sort of looks like the Parmesan cheese holder @ Pizza Hut.  Can pick them up @ Hobby Lobby for about $2.  Label with Avery Label and Keep in Greener Cleaner Caddy!

{also a good opportunity to teach your kids about math and measuring}

{shake it, baby, shake it!}

Step 2) Now that your drain is nice and powdery {and hopefully one of your kiddos feels really proud–and you do too.  You’re teaching them how to clean, one chore you can “give away” and they feel “bigger” being able to help out.  And after all, a family is a team, right?}, you’re going to mix about 1/2C white vinegar with your essential oils/fragrance -for example: 2 drops Orange essential oil {I used the “grapefruit blush” fragrance I got from Hobby Lobby and used in the lotion}, 1 drop lavender essential oil. 

{sniff, sniff...lavender and vinegar??}

Step 3) SLOWLY pour this mix down the drain.  The slower the better {for the kids’ sake, mostly}, as your “experiment” is working right before your eyes!  The kids will love the dramatization and the vinegar will react with the baking soda {think science fair volcano!} to take all the gunk off the walls of the pipes as it flows down. 
**Follow these steps on all your drains–bathroom, shower, kitchen, and laundry room–about once a month as routine maintenance.  It’s quick and easy; nothing to it, really.  It lasts a long time and smells so fresh!  {My little Helper A was concerned about the smell of the vinegar, but it goes away quickly, I promise!}

{here comes the exciting part!}

{bubble, bubble...with some stuck-on food just for good measure}


I had A helping me through the process–she just LOVES to help!  We did 2 kitchen drains, 3 bathroom drains and one shower drain {my other shower houses all of the items that I’ve listed on eBay that are waiting to be purchased 🙂  So no drain to be cleaned there!} and it took less than 5 minutes!  And now, seriously, I can smell the grapefruit blush & lavender scent all throughout the house.  {SIGH of contentment}  I’m so not a cleaner, so this trick totally works for me:
Easy?  check
Easy on the clock {quick}?  check
Easy on the wallet {cheap}?  check
Easy on my mind {don’t have to worry about A & M inhaling dangerous chemicals}?  check
Easy on the nose?  oh yes, check!
February 1, 2011

Pump It!

Hey there…anybody snowed in yet?  We’re hunkering down for the “Big Blizzard of ’11” here in the midwest.  Got my workout in this morning and I’m coming to grips with the fact that school will most likely be canceled tomorrow {booo!}, but I might need to send the Hubs out to the grocery for some milk.  If you’re snowed in {and have the supplies} now is the perfect time to try making some zipper flower accessories or some skincare products, wouldn’t you agree?  Has anyone out there tried the lotion or chapstick yet?  What did you think? 

 I love the lotion, but last night I thought I’d experiment a little bit.  I wanted to see if I could make a slightly thinner version of the lotion {it ends up pretty thick and creamy} that could go in an old lotion pump bottle.  I also wanted to try adding a little coconut oil for added benefits and moisturizing. 

 I started with the original recipe of 1/4 C emulsifying wax but I substituted some of the olive oil with coconut oil–about 1 Tbsp coconut oil, then added enough olive oil to fill the 1/4 cup measuring cup the rest of the way.  I melted it like before {60 second in the microwave}.  Then, instead of using 1-1/4 C water, I used 1-1/2 cups.  This morning I checked the lotion {setting it overnight on the counter–didn’t want to make my previous mistake of letting it set in the fridge!} and it was still pretty thick so I added another 1/4 C water and put the lotion in the microwave for about 45 seconds.  Then I stirred the concoction to blend it.  Perfect!  The lotion was still creamy-dreamy, but thin enough to put into the lotion pump bottle and pump successfully.  I’m sure you could probably add even more water if you wanted to.  I’d guess a total of about 2 cups of water {rather than the original 1-1/4 cups}.  Not only will it dispense from a regular lotion bottle, but you’ll end up with more lotion!

Stay warm, friends!

January 13, 2011

A girl and her glue gun

If there’s one tool {crafting or otherwise} that I wouldn’t want to go without, it would be my glue gun.  I married into this little mini–it’s old and homely, but I love it anyway!  It has saved me many times over.  I use it for the hair bows I make for Monkey A {and to sell occasionally}, all kinds of craft projects…remember the zipper ring when the super glue just didn’t cut it?  Yep, my trusty glue gun saved the day!  I even use my glue gun for fashion emergencies.  I got a pair of tall brown riding boots to wear with my black LC leggings.  Because I like to change things up with the trends, I tend to buy less expensive shoes/purses/clothes/etc.  {these boots were on sale for $34.99 when I got them–now they’re $29.99!  Hurry up and get yours!}  As much as I love these boots, the inner lining just didn’t hold up for me.  It ripped right at the heel/bottom of the zipper when I put my foot in once.  After a few weeks of using a shoe horn to get into the left boot every time I went to put them on, I said, “enough is enough!” and I grabbed the super glue.  After getting nothing but my fingers stuck together, I turned to my trusty old glue gun.  Success!  One of these days I’ll learn that in most of my scenarios, glue gun trumps super glue!


{so sad}

{glue gun = great fix on the fly}

Now, back to wearing my favorite boots sans the sweating, frustration, and shoe horn!

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!



  • 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…

August 5, 2010


***Contest closed {although you may still comment if you like 🙂 } RANDOM.ORG has chosen comment #3 – April Gann.  Congratulations, April!  Guess we have to get together 🙂 ***

{All zipped up}

Reconstructed zippers are all the rage these days.  Rather than shelling out for some designer YKKs, I thought I’d DIY a little zipper bling for myself.  While out garage saling a few Saturdays back with Monkey A, I found a bin full of old {still-in-their-packages} zippers for $0.10 and {joy!} since it was raining and the last day of the sale, everything was 1/2 off!  I bought a whopping $0.20 worth of zippers to play around with…and now I’m kicking myself for not snatching them all up.


Get yourself a zipper.  Any zipper will do, but I personally like the look of zippers with metal teeth better.

Cut off both ends of the zipper, separate the two sides and discard the zipper pull

{Cut off ends}

{All the pieces}

Cut off all but about 1/4″ of the fabric tape and throw it away {or save it for another project–any ideas?}

{leave 1/4" of fabric}

Fold the first couple of teeth back toward the rest of the zipper and make a few stitches to tack it down

Continue wrapping the zipper around and stitch through the entire spiral every 1/8″ or so.  Keep the needle as close to the teeth as you can to avoid stitching through the unraveling part of the fabric tape.

Once you reach the end of the zipper, secure with a few extra stitches and tie off

{back of your zipper spiral}

Once I finished my first two spirals I thought they were cute…but now what?   Earrings?  Hair pretties for Monkey A?  Then I remembered I had some ring blanks saved away from a fabric-covered-button project that never happened {typical!}–perfect!  I super glued the spiral to the ring blank and VOILA!  Or so I thought…

You probably already knew this, but super glue doesn’t adhere fabric to smooth, shiny metal very well.  So…I used hot glue.  I didn’t trust the hot glue too much, but I’ve been wearing my ring for a few days now and everything’s stayed together quite nicely, thank-you-very-much!  I wanted to try some Aleene’s Jewelry & Metal Glue, but the top was stuck.  Again, typical–I’m impulsive and didn’t think the project through all the way to the end…but I made it work.  Tim Gunn would be proud 😉

{front side with ring blank}

***Now for the fun part: use this tutorial to make your own zipper spiral ring…OR win this one!  All you have to do is leave a comment here telling me what other {un}Perfect types of things you’d like to see on my blog.  At midnight {EST} Friday I’ll randomly choose a winner.  Get an extra entry by sharing this contest with a friend {or your whole FB friend list or all of your Twitter followers 🙂 }.  Leave a separate comment letting me know that you shared.  Good luck!***

%d bloggers like this: