Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Frugal February

A few weeks ago, I read an article on MSN about ways to save money in the new year. It provided tips on a monthly basis. I felt like I already had completed most of them so I did not find the article all that useful. There was one suggestion which was not to spend any additional money,.discretionary money, in February. Rationale being that February is the shortest month of the year. I laughed at it at first, but this tip really stuck with me. I mentioned it to a friend a work who shared that she had done this when saving for their down payment on their home. After a few days, I decided I was going to see if I can do this. Part of me thought there is no way that I can only spend money on bills, gas, and groceries in a month, but then I would think of the money I could save.

In the weeks leading up to February I thought....what am I going to do with myself if I can't spend any extra money. I then started looking around the house. I have all these "little" things that I want to get finished, I have lots of books that I have purchased in the past and have not read. Suddenly, I can not wait for February as I am excited to cross off some items on a large To Do List.

Here are some of the items on my list for February:
  • Paint first floor bathroom (had $5 off coupon at ACE for January, so I bought some paint)
  • Clean baseboards, fill in nail holes, recaulk where necessary, and repaint in kitchen
  • Clean baseboards, fill in nail holes, recaulk where necessary, and repaint in guest bedroom
  • Clean baseboards, fill in nail holes, recaulk where necessary, and repaint in master bedroom
  • Clean baseboards, fill in nail holes, recaulk where necessary, and repaint in office room
  • Paint master bedroom closet (don't ask!)
  • Paint guest bedroom closet
  • Paint basement bathroom shelves
  • Re-grout kitchen tiles
  • Clean and paint walkway into kitchen
  • Sew place-mats for dining room table
  • Make cards for various upcoming occassions
  • Read some books
  • Clean, fill in nail holes, and paint steps to the basement
As you can see, there is lots of cleaning and painting to be done. I am fortune that I already have the paint. I bought a bunch when we moved in and the previous homeowners left all the paint they used to paint the rooms behind too. This is not a fun list, which is why I have not completed any of it since we moved in a year ago. I will have to say, I am excited to know that by the end of February, most of this tedious work will be completed. I did the dining room over the weekend and it made a HUGE difference. Even though it felt like torture!

And since I won't be spending any "extra" money (I think that is an oxymoron), be ready for a bunch of post on my before and afters!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Knitting Again

Along with sewing, I also know how to knit. I am probably the world's pickiest person when it comes to shopping and making things. If I can not make it look like I bought it in a store, I won't make it. I would rather buy it. Well, at least that is how my philosophy usually went. I am trying to realize now that it is the items that are not perfect and handmade that are special and not the store purchased items.

My sister is an avid knitter. She would rather design as she goes than follow a pattern. This is probably why she is an architect. I will say, she is very good at knitting. I have a hat that she made for her husband that he didn't like and no matter where I go when I wear it, I get compliments. So, she had decided to knit a purse. Whenever I saw this "thing", I would tell her I just did not get how it would work. It was so loose and had no structure, it just didn't make sense to me.

Back in December when I was home, I went to the knitting store with my mom and her. She came in carrying this purse that was incredible. I couldn't wait to know where I could get one. Yeah, you know where this is going! Turns out that purse I made fun of had been felted and produced an incredible tote bag. It is awesome!

I have decided that I want to make it, however, I need some practice first. So, I have been making some fun infinity scarves as my "practice" items in hope of being able to make a purse later this year. If I had a picture of her purse, I would post it, but I don't. Here are some of my recent "practice" items.

Ironically, I have worn the top scarf to work and I have been asked where I have gotten it from. Maybe I am not so bad after all!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sewing Success

So, I come from a long line of women who are quite crafty. However, I only seem to have a portion of their talent compared to the rest of them. When I was younger I was taught to sew. We would pick out fabrics, patterns and make our clothes. I know their are women who would have enjoyed this, but I would have preferred to go to the mall instead. I'm sure my mom can tell some stories about my whining. Oh, and my constant criticisms. Now that I am a homeowner and trying to be a more responsible adult, I realize it is better to make than to always buy. I bet no one in my family would ever thought I would say that! And it is in writing too!

My mom and I made the curtains that hang in my living room (more on that later) and I actually enjoyed sewing again. So she left me a sewing machine to practice on. I wanted to find ways to make the house cozier without spending a fortune and I thought making some things would be the best way to do it.

My first project was a fabric box. I though I could use this to keep various items in and it would provide some additional storage. I found some fabric that was fun and would go with any colors.

The project seemed pretty easy once I had it cut out and started to sew it together. I was actually quite impressed with how much I remembered. I did have to go and buy tracing paper to transfer the pattern markings as my improvising methods were not working.

It was about this stage when I broke the sewing machine. The sad part is that I had joked a few weeks previously that I was worried I would break it, well I did. So my mom was kind enough to buy me a new Bernina. Now, I'm kind of terrified to touch it! But like any new toy, I quickly overcame my fear and finished my project. In fact, I was so excited to finish, I forgot to put in some of the interfacing. I'm pretty satisfied though.

 After it was all put together, I realized there was a mistake early on. So, we will see if you can figure it out. But hey, after not sewing for over 10 years, I would say, that is pretty impressive!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Seems ironic to write about snow, but this is what happens on Beech Street. It was so pretty out and really the second snowstorm with measurable snow since we have lived in the house. There were two great things that happened this day. First, this snowstorm was a Friday night into Saturday morning so there was no reason to go out. Second, I got to meet the man who shovels the sidewalk.

We have only lived here for 1 year and 3 months. Any time we would get any snow last year, I would hurry home to clean the sidewalk and steps and I would find the sidewalk already shoveled. And in case anyone was wondering, no Sam did not do it. He does not believe in shoveling snow! I always wondered who was cleaning our sidewalk and now that I do not work weekends, the mystery is solved. There is an older man who is a retired mailman. He knows how busy everyone is and since he is capable, he shovels the entire street. Now, how nice is that! 

I am sad to say though, I had the opportunity to meet him after he had shoveled my walk. So to try and pay it forward, I went over to my older neighbor's and shoveled her sidewalk and steps. Maybe next time I can beat him to it!