Posted in minimalism, Ponderings about life, saving money, Uncategorized

Aiming high in 2018!

As I take down and prepare to recycle our 8-year old, pre-lit, 4 ft. Christmas tree that slowly dwindled down to having only 1/5th of the lights working, I start to think about how I might miss out on the after-Christmas sales, where I was hoping to snag a replacement.  They’re probably all sold out by now! I worry.  (Did I mention how I am an expert? At least at worrying.  I’m trying to lose that credential lately.)  Even if they weren’t, I spent the cash, mostly piggy bank quarters, on groceries and now we’re not using credit this month! I think, defeated. 

Then I catch myself and say, as it is a new year, how about a shift in thinking?  I am determining to stay on the sunny side of life this year.  The past several years were way too wearing on me, full of anxiety and more often than I’d like to admit, negativity (which grows easily when you’re chronically fatigued), and I’m ready for an improved point of view. (And hormone health…but that’s for another post!)

My January goal, as mentioned earlier, is not using credit.  After December and gift buying, mostly on Amazon (where Discover offered 5% cash back on purchases!!), my husband showed me our mint info…and there was a lot of red.  Actually, in more than just December.  Because we don’t buy what we can’t afford, I didn’t think of it as a problem.  I’m the acquisitions expert in the family.  (Read: shopper extraordinaire).  We had money in savings. I discussed everything beforehand with my financial partner, my handsome hubs.  But with over half the year drawing from it (mostly for medical bills and health efforts like buying organic and gluten free foods), maybe it’s time to scale back in other ways?  So, thought-pattern shifting time!

I don’t really do things half-heartedly.  I’m kind of all or nothing.  So when my husband suggested we be careful the next few months and try to save, I got curious.  What if we didn’t use credit AT ALL this month?! (With the exception of buying gas, which Discover offers 5% cash back on, again…that’s making money, you know)?! How much could we save then? The possibility was rather exciting. 

The goals?  Save for our kids’ next year at a private school, be able to afford plane tickets to visit my brother on the other side of the US, and budget for a dog (wasn’t that like $1,000 a year including vet bills?).

So, no impulse buys this month.  Empty our pantry.  Get creative with meals, only use gift cards ($40 to Target, $25 to Amazon, and the rest of our cash, which was about $20 in bills, and $10 in coins) to restock the empty fridge with fresh milk, fruit and veggies for the kids after returning from Christmas vacation.  Put all “wants” on a list for next month.  I got this.  So I think.

Stay tuned. 

P.S.  Back to the Christmas Tree…I changed my thinking to more outside the box.  I’ve always wanted a little 2-3 ft. live one that come in cute little pots at Lowes!  So that’s my plan.  Next year, we’ll have a tree/bush to plant outside after adding some live greenery to our home.  No artificial one in storage(we don’t really have storage spaces in our home) for me!  How’s that for a step towards minimalism? I should pat myself on the back for that triumph out of decor-tragedy!

Posted in DIY, Quick Project, saving money, Uncategorized

Old Vanity = New Window Seat!

We are remodeling our master bathroom and while I enjoy doing things the frugal way, I didn’t have the energy to paint or refinish the old vanity.  But then I had a hard time just taking it to the Re-store or tossing it away.  So I told my dad what I was thinking of for our living room: a storage window bench.  Dad is a can-do guy and can build basically anything Mom and I envision.  He used a circular saw to cut off the base sides and kick-board as well as the top drawer area, making it bench height.  Then he sawed the back 5 inches off to make it a narrower length from front to back; then we reattached a back.  We had a sturdy scrap of plywood for the top, which we glued and screwed on, and to which I upholstered this heavyweight fabric over an old blanket and batting.  It’s a great stash for the kids’ books and toys in baskets I found at Aldi.  (But the kids just want to hide inside it.)IMG_2415IMG_2416

*Update: We have moved states since this project, and it held up well and is now used as a shoe storage location near our exit for a tidy solution to kids’ shoes.  I simply put a two-tier shoe shelf inside.  I also keep a little hand broom and dustpan inside in case they track sand inside for quick cleanup.

Posted in DIY, Quick Project, saving money

Sewing adventure: Frumpy to Fitted

Enough reminiscing for now! On to my present-day the sewing room!  It used to be a jungle in there, lemme tell ya.  A recent organization project has made it more navigable, and consequently I more frequently venture in there, whereas before I would often close the door and try to forget the mayhem that lay behind it.    

This particular instance of creativity was conjured up when I wanted to pare down my hubby’s T-shirt collection (do YOU have an army of T-shirts, too?…I’m going to make heavy-duty t-shirt bags out of them, since I like the one I have already so much), and decided I must be fair.  You know the rule: if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  But…I have a hard time getting rid of anything (working on that).  Still, I couldn’t justify keeping something that made me feel like an old lady when I wore it.  I just loved the colors and the feel, so I made myself a deal.  If I could refashion it into something I would wear, I could keep it.  Sweet Sassafras has a lovely tutorial on how to alter a wool sweater, but certainly it needn’t be wool for her method to work.  Not all my attempts at clothing alteration are successful, but a spur-of the moment project can be fun whether or not it works out, especially since I was going to get rid of the sweater anyhow.  So, I lost track of time at my sewing machine.  

Pardon the poor photo quality, please.  
Before: looks like I raided Granny’s closet.

 Note the collar and the waistline.
What’s wrong with this picture?  The collar annoyed me because it came up too high and the shirts I liked to wear under it never worked right with it.  Trying to wear the top unbuttoned didn’t work well because the button flopped open oddly.  As for the waistline, perhaps it’s because I’m a new mom with a post-pregnancy body that the whole muffin-top affect makes me not want to wear sweaters that supply the wearer with one regardless if it’s actually under there or not.

What to do about it?  Attack it with the sewing machine and scissors, of course.  First, I guestimated (measuring isn’t usually my area of expertise) how much to tailor for a more fitted look. It would have been wise to try the sweater on inside-out (since that’s the way you sew the new seams) and pinch and pin the excess rather than wing it, since I have better things to do than seam-rip. Or better yet, use the sewing form I am lucky to have nabbed off craigslist for cheap (but it has an unfinished dress project on it I didn’t want to disturb).  Thankfully, I eyeballed it well enough that it fit the first time, with a few extra alterations (like slimming the sleeves further so I didn’t have granny-arm-flab going on.)


I had used small stitches (which would have been awful to have to pull out again) so after cutting, the raw edges would not fray and rip out.

I decided to be really committed and just cut the excess off, hoping I wasn’t overzealous with the new sizing.  No going back now!  I tried it on and breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t too tight.  Again, if you do this, you can take the precautions that I skipped because I like to live dangerously…or am just lazy sometimes.


So the fit was much better, but the ribbing bothered me a lot at the waistline, so I cut it off, along with the neckline, which I made into a V-neck.  I didn’t like losing the length at the waist, but it looked ok anyhow.  With it cut off, I sewed in the sides again about another inch for a better fit, then decided to reattach the hem now that it wasn’t narrower at the hips than the middle.  There may be a better way to deal with the hem than how I did it, but it worked.  Then I used a satin ribbon as binding around the collar and though it wasn’t the most perfect outcome, I was satisfied.


I wore it the next day.  It was an enjoyable project and I think I’ll be doing more versions of it in the future.  I like the idea of using what you have, and if what you have doesn’t work for you anymore, changing it so it does!