2/28/10

"A little dab'll do ya"

"A little bit goes a long way."
"A little dab'll do ya."
You've heard all those sayings, I'm sure, and there are many others that convey the same idea. I've recently rediscovered the philosophy behind these colloquialisms. Ever since we switched to cloth diapers, for some reason, I've become increasingly aware of how much we waste. We waste so much in every area of our lives—personal care products, food, money, etc. You name it!

This may seem unrelated, but bear with me. I have frizzy hair. My hair was straight, until I started getting perms in 3rd grade. Hey—don't judge. It was the thing to do back then. Then, I stopped getting perms in junior high, cut my hair so the perm would grow out, but I've had naturally curly/wavy (I call it "bent") hair ever since. It's healthy, but frizzy . . . perpetually frizzy. Drives me nuts! Don't get me started on humidity! Ugh! And what drive me even crazier is that once I find a product that works and that I like, they stop making it! Aaarrrggghhh! Anyway . . . when I wash my hair, I tend to use a LOT of conditioner. I mean, A LOT, just to try an keep my hair moisturized and less frizzy, which means I go through it quickly. And, I don't use expensive stuff. It's debatable whether this is a waste or not. . . .

As I was looking through my copy of Super Baby Food, and ran across this little piece of advice about my conditioner. There's an invaluable section in this book, Appendix B, "Homemade Baby Products." It's actually the only section I've read, so far. The author talks about everything from making your own baby wipes, home remedies for diaper rash, money-saving tips for deoderant, and much more. But, there's a teeny little paragraph on hair detanglers. I had to see what she said.
"The commercial spray detanglers and conditioners that you buy for your baby's hair are nothing more than very dilute solutions of hair conditioner. Make your own by adding one or two tablespoons of baby-safe hair conditioner into a pump or spray bottle and fill with water. Shake well before each use. I sometimes use this for my own hair after shampooing and towel drying. But most times, while I'm still in the shower and after shampooing, I take a tiny dollup (about 1/2 teaspoon) of regular hair conditioner, spread it on the palms of my hands, and massage it through my hair. I don't rinse and this 'leave-in conditoner' makes my hair as soft and tangle free as when I use a lot of conditioner and rinse it out." (Taken from Super Baby Food)
Really?!?!? I had to try it. She also mentions that you can make a bottle of conditioner last for years, this way, and you save time and water by not rinsing. Sold! It seemed like an easy way to conserve. So, I've been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and I'm a believer! I think my hair is actually less frizzy than it's ever been!

I don't have the guts to go completely chemical-free, yet, like the Simple Mom, but this is one more easy way to conserve both time and water, but also take a load off your wallet!

2/25/10

DEAL ALERT: 20% off photo books at Shutterfly

Now, through March 3, get 20% off photo books at Shutterfly. Use promo code "TWENTYOFF" to get your discount. If your order is $30 or more, use coupon code "SHIP30" and your order ships to you for free!

Join or shop through Ebates first, and get an additional 10% cash back on your purchase!

2/22/10

DEAL ALERT: 80% off at Restaurant.com (thru 2/28/10)

Restaurant.com is offering 80% off their gift certificates. Use code "SAVOR" at checkout to get the discount. That means you can get a $25 gift certificate for only $2! Offer ends 2/28/10.

ALSO . . . visit or join Ebates first, then visit their link to Restaurant.com and get a additional 15% cash back—seriously, that's 15%!

2/19/10

Be a winner by being a follower!

Lately, I've become a fan of following other Web sites that I enjoy reading. Many of them have fun giveaways, which I have entered. The most fun part of it all is that I recently won in two of these giveaways! I've never won that much in my life, but now I've won twice! The first one was on TheClothDiaperWhisperer's Super Fluff Friday Giveaway 63, where I won a Gro Baby cloth diaper prize pack valued at around $50. They host a giveaway every Friday, and you can enter throughout the week. Woo-hoo! The second one was a jewelry giveaway at Living Locurto for a $50 gift certificate at Lisa Leonard Designs (hand-stamped jewelry), and I was one of two lucky winners! Big-time woo-hoo! I just ordered this necklace with my gift certificate, and CAN'T WAIT to get it!

For a bargain shopper like myself, you can get much better than "you won!" and "free!" These little buzz words bring joy to my heart. Entering these giveaways is usually super easy, and a lot of times (if you meet their entry criteria) you can enter multiple times for the same giveaway, which increases your odds of winning. There were 1199 entries in the cloth diaper giveaway I mentioned, and 10 winners—I was one of them. In the jewelry giveaway, there were 258 entries, and I was one of 2 winners.

So, what am I suggesting? Become a winner by being a follower. Find blogs and Web sites that interest you, and follow them. Pay attention to the ones that normally host giveaways, and enter. It's that easy! You might just win free products, or gift certificates. The sky's the limit! Check out the blogs I follow—there are several of them that give things away on a regular basis. I even hosted a giveaway on my photography blog, and have plans to do it again in the future.

Good luck, and happy winning!

2/18/10

One-Sale Web Sites

There are several Web sites out there that specialize in selling one item per day, or just one item until it sells-out. I love these Web sites. It makes shopping so simple. You only have one thing at a time to choose from. It's great! Not that I only shop these Web sites, but they're fun to peruse. When I know I'm shopping for something particular, I keep my eyes on sites like these, because I never know when the item I'm looking for will pop up at an unbelievable price. I've purchased a car seat, baby clothing items, a TomTom GPS unit, a blue-tooth headset, and much more from some of these sites. These noteworthy sites are worth your daily browsing:

Babies/Kids/Mommas:
General:
And those are just the ones I'm aware of! If you know of others, post them here.

2/17/10

Home Decorating: Artwork and a Cheap Brass Chandelier Fix

We're renters—at least for now. When we moved into our apartment, we noticed that the property owners seem to be stuck in the "brass age." You know . . . brass chandelier in the dining room, old-style brass folding fireplace screen, brass hardware, etc. Nice. Now, maybe I'm being a bit judgemental of you brass-lovers out there, but it's just not our style. 

We're planning on moving from this apartment in the next few months or so, but I've been itchy for a crafty/creative project. Our little one was born just after we moved in, so we never painted or did anything to really make it our own. Something had to be done.

Step 1 was to add some artwork to our bedroom, above our bed. You can see what I did here.  I did this VERY cheaply by using some black frames and cream mattes that we already had, taking my own pictures, and customizing them using Adobe Photoshop (available for WIndows or Mac). The entire project only cost me around $27—the cost of developing the prints (I had several done at the same time). 

Step 2 was to tackle our very shiny brass dining room chandelier (right). It's not a great before picture, because I had to crop it out from the background of an older picture. I forgot to take an actual before pic. Oh well. I'm an HGTV-lover, and I've seen them paint chandeliers countless times on Design on a Dime. It's such a cheap fix, so I had to try it. I also wanted to add some lamp shades, to give it a more elegant feel. I found a set of 6 (I only needed 5) in mint condition at one of our local Goodwills for $1.50 . . . for the set! I bought a can of black satin-finish spray paint from Wal-Mart for around $3. All I needed was my husband's help to prep the area. We're not real handy sort of people, so we opted for NOT taking the lamp down, and left it on the ceiling for the actual painting. I know, I know . . . some of you are wincing right now. But, I mean it—we're not handy! So after taping everything off and rigging up a paint screen to keep paint off the ceiling and walls, we went to work. It took a few coats, but after a couple of hours, our work was done and NO MORE BRASS!! So exciting! With my $1.50 lampshades, and my $3 can of paint, here's the end result:


Ain't she a beaut?! It's a thousand times better, now. Have I inspired you? I hope so! For just under $6, we have a brand new lamp that fits our style and is amazingly less obtrusive than that old brass thing.

And for a grand total of under $35, we have really attractive artwork in our bedroom, and a totally new, updated, classy feel in our dining room.

Artwork for bedroom.................$27
Lampshades (set of 6)................$1.50
Spray paint.................................$3

TOTAL......................................$31.50



Beyond The Picket Fence

2/16/10

DEAL ALERT: Free "20 in 10" Sister Hazel album download from Amazon

Download Sister Hazel's "20 in 10" album FOR FREE from Amazon. I'm not sure when this offer ends.

2/10/10

Simple Organic Giveaway!

Simple Living Media has unveiled a brand new Web site in their family . . . Simple Organic. The goal of Simple Organic is "all about natural, sustainable living for regular people," according to their Web site. In honor of the new site's unveiling, they're sponsoring a wonderful green giveaway, with some really great prizes. Hop on over and check them out. Enter the giveaway while you're there!

2/9/10

My latest cloth diaper savings

Here in Lexington, we're very fortunate to have Mother Nurture—a great resource for green baby products, cloth diapering, etc. This past Saturday, they hosted their semi-annual cloth diaper consignment sale. Diapers and diaper supplies usually sell-out within the first couple of hours, and the line starts forming about 15 minutes before the store opens. It's quite an event! I went with a friend of mine, and my daughter in-tow—you know, because I love cloth diapers. The nice thing about this sale is that you can drop off your gently used diapers ahead of time and actually SELL them at the sale. I sold a couple of diapers at their last consignment sale, so I had almost $16 in credit. Gotta love that! This time, I was shopping specifically for diaper doublers, cloth wipes, and whatever else tickled my fancy.

As the doors opened and the line of dedicated cloth diapering parents piled into the small store, we all descended like hungry wolves on our prey—the cloth diapers and supplies. It's really a fun time, but it can get a bit crazy. Fortunately, everything remained civil. :o) I did end up picking up a Thirsties all-in-one (Medium) diaper for $6.50, several cloth wipes (a total of ~$6 for a ton of wipes), and a 3-pack of diaper doublers for $4. With my in-store credit, I picked everything up for about $2.50!! It thrills my heart to say that!

Why do I share this? To inspire you! If you have a local cloth-diapering resource, talk to them about hosting an annual, or semi-annual cloth diaper consignment sale. It's a great idea! You can earn and save a ton of money, all at the same time. And it's very, very green . . . especially if you carpool to the sale! :o) Plus, it's really a fun time of being around other moms. I saw several people I knew and got to spend some fun time with a friend.

Now, on another note, I've decided to switch to cloth wipes. Yes, I'm taking the plunge. I haven't started, yet, but I have the supplies, the know-how, and the will. A friend of mine told me about a super simple recipe for the wipes solution (she found it in Super Baby Food). As I looked through that particular section of Super Baby Food I also discovered that Huggies wipes can be washed and reused! Who knew?! So, I'm doing it! I'll keep you posted on how it goes. I'm really excited to get going.

DEAL ALERT: 80% off at Restaurant.com (thru Sunday, Feb. 14)

Restaurant.com is offering 80% off their gift certificates, now through Valentine's Day. Use code "HEART" at checkout to get the discount. Offer ends 2/14/10.

ALSO . . . visit or join Ebates first, then visit their link to Restaurant.com and get a additional 15% cash back—15%!

2/3/10

Swagbucks update, part 4

Search & Win

I just cashed in on my next Amazon $5 gift code through Swagbucks! Man, that second 45 swagbucks accumulated WAY more quickly than the first round. I've been a member for 3 months now, and I have $10 to spend on Amazon! Pretty cool. I think I'm sold on Swagbucks!

"How to Host a Trading Party"

Recently, my friend Michelle did a great post on "How to Host a Trading Party." I love this! Trading parties are one of my new favorite things. It's a fabulous idea in times like these! A trading party has some wonderful functions:
  • Spend time hanging out and getting to know some really cool people.
  • Get rid of stuff you don't want.
  • Get stuff you DO want.
  • Have fun!
Sounds great—sign me up! After reading Michelle's post, I'm inspired. I just may be hosting one of these really soon. The women in my church hosted a clothing swap this past summer, and it was so much fun! I'm thinking I may do a book and movie swap, like Michelle's, though. I'll keep you posted!

2/1/10

DEAL ALERT: 20% Cash Back at OldNavy.com through Ebates (2/1-2/4)

Now through February 4, shop Old Navy through Ebates.com to receive 20% cash back on EVERYTHING! This bonus is only available through Thursday (2/4/10).

FREE pancakes at IHOP, February 23!

IHOP will be celebrating National Pancake Day on February 23, 2010, by offering one free short stack of their buttermilk pancakes (three), 7:00 AM–10:00 PM. All they ask is that you consider making a donation to the Children's Miracle Network. Make plans to stop in for your free pancakes! Find a location near you.

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