I freaking hate winter. It’s the worst. In summer you can go to the beach, the pool, play in the sprinkler, or just lay around to cool off. There is (thankfully) no snow where I live, so there’s just nothing to do. We’re all just trapped inside, stumbling over each other, fighting over the best blanket in the house. On top of that, one of my FAVORITE pairs of Halloween socks got holes in the heels. If you know one thing about me, it’s probably that I’m a cheapskate. If you know two things, you probably know that I love Halloween more than all the other holidays put together. That’s right, even more than Washington’s birthday! I mean, look at these awesome socks:
When these socks became unwearable, I stuffed them in my scrap bag, awaiting an epiphany. I couldn’t just throw them away! Well, here we are, epiphany-had!
I didn’t even have to cut a thumb hole! I did hem it, however.
Then, I put it on inside-out, and folded the top down until it was the length I wanted. I then pinned it in place, took the sock off, and hand sewed the seam in place. Because these socks have stripes, it also made it easier to ensure I was folding it straight.
And we’re done! The whole thing probably took an hour or so, but it’s hard to tell because toddlers and dogs kept distracting me. But now I’m ready to kill some zombies in comfort! And I can keep my amazing skeleton socks! Honestly, I’m so happy with these I’m almost jealous of myself for having them.
I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!
You will need:
Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.
And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.
I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.
Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!
Rainy days, blah blah, kids trapped in the house, yadda yadda, mom’s out of booze, we need an activity. My son can’t get enough of playing with balls, so I thought I’d look at the resources I had on hand to craft an activity for him.
What does every crafty mom having laying around? Cardboard tubes! Whether from paper towels or toilet paper, we know there MUST be a use for them, and we hoard them like canned goods in a bomb shelter. I have these things falling out of cabinets when I attempt to put dishes away, so I figured it was about time to use a few up.
You will need: paper towel tubes, a cardboard box, strong tape, scissors, balls.
I had this Costco yogurt box laying around, and it is the perfect size for this. You can use something bigger or smaller, it’s up to you. I’m going to show you the basics of how I made mine, then you can adjust according to the materials you have on hand.
I started out laying the cardboard tubes in the box to measure how many I would need. I cut the tops off, long ways, just using scissors. I didn’t cut them directly in half, but if you have a shortage of paper towel tubes (Ha! Yeah, right) then you can do that and use each half.
I used pieces of toilet paper roll to add extra support to the paper towel tubes, with double stick tape. Important note: make sure the balls you’re going to use for this will fit through with those supports on there. Mine did not. I used whiffle golf balls and had to remove my beautiful supports.
I used big loops of masking tape to stick the tubes into the box. You can also use duct tape, or whatever you have laying around that’s fairly tacky. Again, test this thing before you hand it to your toddler so you don’t have to frantically rip pieces off while they run off to play with power outlets.
Success! He played with it!
Disclaimer: it does not work with kangaroos. I apologize for this huge oversight.
There are certain items that we habitually buy, use, and throw away, that could easily be replaced with something reusable. These can be a great source for savings. Here are a few examples, and some tips on how to decide whether or not a reusable is a good value.
1) Paper towels – I admit, most of the items on the market to replace paper towels are not great. I too have had a problem finding something that is both absorbent and cost effective. BEHOLD cloth diapers! Not the super fancy ones that look like actual diapers, these are the old fashioned grandma-used-to-boil-them-in-a-cauldron type, aka prefolds.
I use these as burp clothes for my son, and used them to clean the house growing up. They are tough and absorbent, but don’t take forever in the dryer. *Note: I’m using Amazon to show you what I’m talking about, but that doesn’t mean they have the best price. Always comparison shop!
There are some times when you will have to use paper towels, like for cat vomit, and I totally understand that, but you can pay ~$15 for a 10 pack of the diapers, or ~$12 for 12 rolls of paper towels. How fast will those paper towels be gone?
Keep in mind you should NEVER use fabric softener on these or any other towels. It coats them in grease and ruins absorbency. If you’ve done this to your towels, wash them in hot water and vinegar to clear off the gunk.
2) Coffee cups – When I saw disposable coffee cups for sale at the grocery store (like the kind from gas stations) my first thought was “People are literally buying garbage”. That might be harsh, and obviously people might buy them for some kind of picnic or brunch thing, which I understand. However, if you buy those for your house, I think that’s pretty ridiculous. Travel coffee mugs are cheap and very easy to care for.
3) Coffee filters – coffee filters are fairly cheap, but are yet another item that can be replaced with a permanent version. They even make them for those fancy, over-priced Keurigs. Why worry about adding one more thing to your shopping list?
4) Plates and utensils – I really hope that you aren’t using paper plates and plasticware at home. Seriously, use grown up dishes. If you get Correlle you don’t have to worry about them breaking (seriously, I dropped a bowl once and chipped the kitchen tile, but the bowl was fine), they’re compact, and you can slowly collect them at thrift stores.
5) Bathroom items – this maybe a no-go for some people, but ladies, there are certain things that women use every month, then throw away. We have a couple different options, however. Some people even use cloth instead of toilet paper, but I’m not personally willing to go that far.
6) Baby stuff – we use cloth diapers, and wipes, and I mentioned our burp cloths previously. For the wipes we use baby wash cloths that come in packs of 10 (we have 3 packs). I have 3 Tupperware that I cycle through for batches of wipes. I put a small amount of baby shampoo in the tub, add water, shake it, and add a dash of vinegar, then add the washcloths. When we use them, we just stick them in the dirty diaper, and wash everything together.
7) Water bottles – I’m fortunate to live in an area where the tap water tastes great, and I also live in the US where tap water is highly regulated, so I know it’s clean and safe to drink (unless you live near a fracking operation). If you live somewhere with terrible water, use the analysis below to decide if buying bottled water or a filter is more cost effective for you. For the rest of us, get a reusable bottle.
I don’t know how we survived in the 80’s, going from place to place without a beverage immediately at hand at all times. It’s a miracle society didn’t crumble. There are a million varieties of bottles out there. A couple criteria I use are: dishwasher safe, wide open mouth for easy cleaning, no straws (hard to clean), clear so I can make sure it got clean, holds a decent amount, and hopefully fits in a cup holder.
Analysis: How do you decide if a reusable item is a good value compared to a disposable? Let’s use the paper towels example. I personally use very few paper towels, but that’s because I never clean anything. I surveyed several friends to find out how long one roll of paper towels lasts them. They said from 3 days to 2 weeks.
Let’s assume that one 10 pack of towels will substitute for one roll of paper towels. If we assume that one roll of paper towels lasts for 2 weeks, a 12 pack will last 24 weeks. (I did that math right, right? Guys? Where’s my math minion…) One 10 pack of diapers costs about the same as a 12 pack of paper towels, so if they last longer than 24 weeks, you’re saving money. So far, mine are doing just great. When I was a kid, we used cloth diapers for all kinds of cleaning around the house, and they lasted for years.
Obviously for any reusable item, there will be maintenance, such as washing and possible repair. Take this into account when analyzing which option is the most cost effective.
Buying something reusable instead of disposable usually saves you money, is generally better for the environment (though everything we do has an impact), and means you have one less thing to remember at the store. Driving down your monthly costs gets you that much closer to your financial goals.
A friend of ours, Sara of the Long Red Hair, hand made us this adorable baby pirate outfit. Unfortunately, I gave birth to a behemoth, and he never fit into it. We decided to use it to revamp one of baby Nacho’s stuffed animals.
Here is Hobbes, a gift from Hubby in years past, when he was still Boyfriendy, which doesn’t have a great ring to it. He agreed that Hobbes would probably enjoy the new outfit. The bow simply came untied, and a seam ripper detached the heart easily (that is a grotesque sentence).
Fortunately, Hobbes is MUCH easier to dress than Nacho:
Now we have another pirate to join Nacho’s crew! You can do this with any really special baby outfits. When I was growing up, my clothes got handed down to my sister, Beans, and then to my Cabbage Patch doll.
For the bulk of the clothes, since small kids generally outgrow things before they’re messed up, hand them down to friends and relatives kids, or donate them to thrift stores (assuming you aren’t saving them for your next kiddo).
A wonderful, thoughtful blog post from my sis, Beans
[Warning, this post is not as Light-Tight-And Bright as I normally keep my posts.]
While I was teaching biology labs in Grad School, I had the opportunity to get on my soap box from time to time, and say the things that matter most to me, and hopefully pass on some knowledge other than what was in the textbooks.
It’s been a while since I was on my soap box.
I have missed my soap box. [Steps up, and clears throat]
I posted this on my Facebook page here, but I felt that it was not quite enough to get my words out. It didn’t cover enough ground. I needed a bigger outlet. So I’m re-posting it here, with a little more oomph.
I saw this video posted on Facebook about Midway Island. It’s a tiny island 2,000 miles from the nearest continent, that is frequented by seabirds like the…
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