Posts Tagged ‘Frugal’

Handprint Picture Frame

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

After Oliver was born, I randomly came across this clay keepsake frame at AC Moore.  I imprinted Oliver’s hands when he was 7 months old and it is one of my favorite mementos from when he was a baby.  Luckily, they still sell these kits today and I purchased one for Evelyn too.  The regular price is about $21.  I used a 40% off coupon and got it for about $13.

The kit comes with the bi-fold frame, 4×6/5×7 mat, “acrylic glass”, clay, roller, and a clay tool.  You basically fill one side of the frame with the clay, make your impression, and bake it to set.  Super easy, fast, and inexpensive!

First, you knead the clay to soften it up.  This was the fun part!

I went ahead and made an oblong pancake out of the clay and then pressed it into the frame.  It reminded me of pressing pizza crust into a pan.

I used the roller to flatten the lumps and smooth out the clay.

The hardest part of this exercise was getting a squirmy 10 month old to press her hands in the clay.  At 7 months, Oliver was satisfied with whatever mommy wanted him to do.  At 10 months, Evelyn wanted to grab the clay, dig into the clay, squeeze the clay, eat the clay… 

By the way, if you make a mistake, all you have to do is reroll the clay and start over.  I had 2 full do-overs, 3 half do-overs for her left hand, and 1 partial do-over when I wrote her name in the wrong place.

The clay is soft and elastic.  Writing the name is trickier than you would think.  Once you are happy with everything, you pop the entire thing in the oven on a tray.  Detailed instructions are printed on the inside of the box that include oven temp and time.

When it’s done there was hardly any shrinkage or color change.  The product will harden even more as it cools.  Evelyn still wanted that sculpey clay!

I can’t wait until we move and I can put out our family photos again.  I matched a photo to the age of the handprints (10 months) and have such a nice momento that I’ll keep forever! 

When they get older I’ll probably put their latest pictures in the frame and it will be neat to have their baby handprints next to their too cool high school selves.

Fall Fun at the Corn Maze

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Daddy came home this weekend bringing crisp fall weather with him.  We went to a local corn maze for some fun in the sun.

They had tractors of all sorts, bouncy houses, play gyms, hay bales to climb, a sand pit, horses, hay rides, and a corn maze to go through.  The maze, horse and hay rides all required tickets – everything else was free!

Evelyn got lost in the toddler hay maze.  She kept thinking, “Why would I walk through this maze when I can just climb over these hay bales?”

Oliver thought that billy goats ate anything.  The goat was like, “Dude, that’s a rock.  Give me a cheeto.”

Evelyn kept the cheetos to herself.

It was a breezy and cool 61 degrees in the sun when we went.  The kiddos had cold little noses and frozen fingers by the time we left.  I need my friend Rebecca to make Evelyn a little hat for the winter (wink, wink).  Evelyn liked checking things out from the wagon and Oliver loved jumping in the bouncy house and running around.  It was a great way to have some family time before Daddy ships off to Atlanta again on Sunday.

Search the internet to find your local farm, pumpkin patch, or corn maze and see what they have going on.  Sometimes, you have to pay to enter the property and experience what they have to offer.  Other times, you can walk right in and have all the free fun you can stand for one bright and sunny autumn day.  It’s worth a look!

Install Tile Backsplash: Using Silicone

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

We had planned on installing a tile backsplash in our kitchen after we got the countertops in.  I asked the countertop installers what their recommendations were based upon their experience going into hundreds of homes.  Without hesitation, they said “a tumbled stone, to hide the irregularities in the wall, and silicone.”  By irregularities, he meant – the damaged wall where they tore out the old backsplash, and by silicone, he meant – no thinset or mastic – just glue them suckers right on the wall!  He said it would be a super easy do it yourself project and inexpensive.

Oh, the horrors of not following the tile installer’s bible.  Just glue them on?  Really?  Yep.  He said that the backsplash was not a high water area like the shower/bathtub.  He also said the irregularities of the tumbled stone would blend in/hide the irregularities on the wall.  If we had used a smooth tile, we would have had to use thinset as a leveling compound.  For 4 inch tiles, silicone would be fine…  After all, the tiles in his own house have been adhered for over 10 years without a problem, so it’s gotta be true!

We couldn’t find a tube of just “silicone” at Lowes so we bought an uber silicone product from Loctite called, “Tub and Tile Ultra Sealant”.  The description says it will stick to just about anything.

We prepped by patching holes, by removing last remnants of wallpaper, and by cleaning the walls.  We then laid out our first row of tiles along the countertop to test fit them before we glued them on.  I then broke a bunch of toothpicks to use as spacers for the bottom of the first row of tiles.  We only need the slightest of clearances to caulk the tiles and countertop together.  For the rest of the tiles, we used 1/8 inch spacers.  Ready, set, go!

We squeezed out a dollop of silicone in the center of each tile and pressed it on the wall.  The goo took several minutes to set, which gave us wiggle room to get the spacing just right.

Once we locked a few tiles in place to use as anchors for the first row, the rest went up very, very quickly.  When I say locked, I meant that we let those tiles dry over night so they were rock solid.

We did 2 rows of the 4 inchers and then we did 2 strips of tumbled stone cut from a mosaic tile.

Looking good so far!  Come back to see tips on how to cut tiles and how to work with mosaics.

Does It Work – Spray Paint Brass Chandelier

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I love scrounging around at the Habitat for Humanity ReUse Center for great finds for the house.  In our home renovation project, we’ve replaced all the lights with modern brushed/satin nickel/steel/shiny silver looking stuff except for our old school brass chandelier in the dining room.  I went to the Habitat Center to see if I could find a nice used chandelier and they had on display 2 spray painted “Look What You Can Do With Brass” chandeliers.  Apparently, they have a glut of brass that no one wants, so they primed a couple and spray painted them to look like more modern.

I figured what the heck!  I taped off the light sockets and hung my lamp outside.  I used a grey metal primer and went to town on everything. 

I sprayed on a couple very light coats following the directions on the can.  Since the chain was brassy and the wire was a yellow/gold color, I even spray painted those…

After the primer thoroughly dried, I gave everything a couple of coats of a fancy hammered finish spray paint.  I have two table lamps that have a hammered finish and in comparison, things were looking promising with the chandelier.

Voila!  Here’s the final product.  I bet you can’t even recognize the original brass fixture!

Actually, here’s how the chandelier turned out – which is why we went and bought a new one from Lowe’s.  Once the paint dried it took on a matte finish, which looked really bad.  The spray painted chain and electric cord also looked strange.  When you add the weird fluted glass shades, the entire project went downhill. 

As far as technique, the spray paint adhered flawlessly.  Maybe if we had chosen a different finish and had some nice white alabaster shades it would have looked better.  If you try this, I would not suggest painting the chain.  Chain is cheap.  Go buy a length in the color that you need.

All in all, the spray paint cost us $5 (both cans were from the Habitat Center).  It was worth the gamble to see if it would work.  The new light fixture was the basic $42 model from Lowe’s.  Home Depot had a less expensive one for $37, but it looked a bit strange.

I would have to say that, technically, you can spray paint a brass chandelier.  Whether you should or not depends on the color and finish that you choose (go for something with a gloss).

Homemade Gift Wrap Using Stamps

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

For us, summer means lots of birthday parties and presents.  One of my favorite things to do is to decorate my own wrapping paper.  For pennies, I can make a unique and homemade design.

I love using the new clear acrylic blocks and rubber stamps.  The rubber stamps usually come several to a sheet for cost savings over the traditional one per wood block of yesterday.  The clear acrylic blocks also make it so easy to see where you are placing your stamp – no more guess work!  Since I’m only a part-time stamper, a nice multicolor ink pad works for me. 

I wrap the presents in plain drawing paper that I bought in rolls from Ikea.  The rolls are $4.99 each and are 98 feet long. That’s about 5 cents a foot!  Depending on the package, I may wrap the package before I stamp or after.  It’s all up to you and your creativity.

The colorbox stamp pad has “petals” that you can take out to use individually.  All the ink cleans up easily with soap and water.

Add some ribbon and for pennies, you are done!  This was something fun for a kid’s birthday gift.  I have several stamp sheets and can do more intricate and elegant designs, as well as some theme stamps for the fun of it.

Your initial investment for years of stamping fun is probably about $25-$30.  I always buy my stamps on sale or use the 40 and 50% off coupons for Michael’s and AC Moore.  The large acrylic block is $10, but with a coupon is $5.  The stamps range from $2 – $20.  I usually get my sheets for $7 or less with a coupon (and there are always sales on this stuff).  The ink pad was about $5 with a 50% off coupon and has lasted me 4 years so far.

I cannot wait until the kids are old enough to help me decorate.  It will be so much fun to have them stamp their own paper and doodle designs!

Renew House Numbers and Doorbell with Paint

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

One way to kick up your curb appeal is to trade out your worn out house numbers and doorbell for something new.  The 2Pennies way is to give them a fresh look with spray paint.

My old house numbers were a dingy, tarnished, and faded heavy metal (maybe brass?). The doorbell was also grimy and worn from years of dirty finger use.  The first thing to do is to remove them from your house and give them a good scrubbing with soap and water.  Be careful not to soak the doorbell in water.  Next, LIGHTLY rub them with some fine grit sandpaper – 220 or higher.  The point is to take away the sheen or shine.  This helps the spray paint to adhere.

Layer your workspace with newspaper and work in a well ventilated area.  Spray paint has serious fumes.  I elevated my items on some crushed balls of aluminum foil.  This method ensures the paper doesn’t stick to the pieces as they dry and you can spray the sides along with the tops. 

Shake your spray paint the recommended time that is posted on the can and do a few test sprays to make sure the nozzle is clear.  Start the spray away from the object being painted, sweep the can over the object, and end the spray away from the object.  You never want to aim the can directly at the piece and push the nozzle.  The paint will immediately pool and run. 

Make several passes and let the pieces dry.  Spray a second or third time if it needs it.  If the edges of the pieces are not fully covered, don’t despair, we will fix that later on.

For the door bell, use masking tape to tape off the button and/or the ring around the button.  Press it on firmly and use a sharp knife to cut away the excess.

It will take at least 24 hours for the pieces to fully dry and cure with low humidity.  When they are ready, you can now touch up the edges. 

Spray some paint into a little aluminum foil bowl and break the end of a toothpick off to use as a brush. 

Dip the toothpick in the paint and then touch it to the edge of your item.  The paint almost wicks itself off the brush and onto the metal!  Keep dipping and dabbing until all your edges are set.  Be sure to make some new foil balls to set your pieces on to dry.

After a few hours, everything is ready to go!  If you want to further weather proof your stuff , buy some semi-gloss or gloss polyurethane spray and spray on several coats.  My spray paint was already exterior semi-gloss so I did not take this extra step.

We tacked up the new numbers on the front porch post where they would be more visible.  Not to shabby!

The doorbell turned out decent as well.

A new doorbell would have cost $14 and comparable new numbers were $4 bucks each.  Buying new would have cost $30.  Instead, I used a can of spray paint that I already had to pull of this redo for free.  Even if I had to buy a quality can of Rustoleum Interior/Exterior High Gloss Black Spray Paint, it would have only cost me $3.98.

I’m going to break out my trusty toothpick again and touch up the old screwheads with black paint to finish it off.  Not to shabby!

Frugal Easter Baskets

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

I made my kids Easter baskets for the first time ever!  I used little buckets and pails that I had bought on sale for less than a dollar each.  I figured that these would be more useful than baskets in the long run.  I then waited until the week before Easter to buy the little plastic eggs.  I ended up getting 12 for a dollar on sale.  The obligatory Peeps were 50 cents for 3 boxes.  I bought Oliver a book and Evelyn some bunny ears for one dollar each in Target’s $1 bins.

Instead of buying that fake plastic grass, I made my own for pennies.  I folded up 2 sheets of construction paper accordian style.  With the paper folded up like a closed fan, I cut off 1/4 inch strips.  I fluffed the pile, and voila!  – instant filler for my buckets.

Oliver liked his bucket.  I filled the eggs with strawberries and blackberries.  He was hooked!  He also got to eat one peep all by himself (the other ones vanished in thin air!).  He stuffed the entire thing in his mouth and after giving it a few chews he spit it out.  Smart kid…

Evelyn liked her little bucket too.  The Easter bunny brought her a spring outfit to wear, a teething ring, and some cool rabbit ears.

After chowing down on peeps, we tromped outside to hunt for eggs.  That wascally wabbit couldn’t pull the wool over Oliver’s eyes!

He very efficiently found every single egg and then dropped the bucket to go play on his slide!

The shirt says it all!

Their Easter baskets cost $7.50 to make, including $2.50 in fruit.  Evelyn’s outfit is a hand me down from a friend that she is now able to wear and her teething ring was a gift at Christmas that we had put away.  Everything else was on sale.  The best part is that Oliver can use his pail (and shovel) outside for play and Evelyn’s bucket is going in her room to hold tubes of butt-cream and nose spray.  The eggs and bunny ears will be stored until next year and the “grass” will be composted.

We hope you had a happy Easter too!

Clear a Slow Moving Drain with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I have read from several sources that vinegar and baking soda will unclog a drain without using harsh chemicals such as Draino.  Now that I’m in my full post-partum hair shed-a-thon, we’ve finally gotten the opportunity to try.

Here is what you will need:

1/2 C. of baking soda
1 C. of water
approx. 1 gallon of hot water
drain plug

Helpful items: 1 wire clothes hanger, 1 paper plate/funnel, 1 chopstick or screwdriver

Okay, so here’s the gross part: the clog.  Our tub drained very, very slowly and got worse over a week or two.  It wasn’t fully clogged, but it was getting close.  When you are standing in 4 inches of water after a shower, you know its time to fix the problem!  We bent the end of a wire hanger into a small hook and fished out a hair clog.  The leftover gunk was extensive soap buildup and probably more hair down the line.  The drain was a little clearer after fishing out the hairball, but still clearly gunked up.

Using a paper plate as a funnel, we dumped the baking soda down the drain.  You’ll notice that the drain makes a 90 degree turn a few inches down.  The baking soda won’t magically turn the corner and pour down the drain.  You will need to coax it down with a chopstick or long screwdriver.

It took some fiddling, but the hubby managed to pack in 1/2 of cup of baking soda.

He poured in 1/2 of cup of vinegar and had the plug ready for the INSTANTANEOUS foam eruption (think back to your volcanoe science project).

When he capped the drain we could still hear the mix foaming and then a very audible “PoP” as the clog was pushed through.  We poured in the second half of the vinegar and plugged up the drain.  A much smaller pop was heard and there was much less push back from the foam.

We waited 15 minutes and then poured about a gallon of hot tap water down the drain.  First off, the drain was clean as a whistle!  The soap scum had vanished from the drain itself.  Second off, the clog was 100% gone and the water ran free.

Very Cool!  We were amazed at how well this worked considering how bad the drain was clogged. 

Here is more food for thought: 

A) We haven’t tried this on a clog with standing water.  I don’t see how it would work as the baking soda would dissipate in the water and wouldn’t react with the vinegar.  I could be wrong though. 

B) We also did not use boiling water as some other websites suggested.  We weren’t sure how hot our bathroom plumbing could stand.  212 degrees is a big difference from 120 and the hubby thought it might melt the caulk and cause leaks in the plumbing.  Hot water did just fine. 

C) I’ve read that it may take more than one application to clear the clog.  I guess that depends on what the clog is made of and how bad it is.  By digging around first, we were able to break through the first try. 

This treatment is suggested as a monthly ritual for all your drains to keep them clean and running free.  I am so impressed that I am adding it to our chore list!  Much less caustic than Draino and MUCH less expensive!  More money to save for a new house.

Spring Festival 2011

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Spring is officially here!  An organization we belong to threw a Spring Festival at a local park.  There were face painters, free food, a bouncy house, and games galore. 

Oliver spent the afternoon chasing down the Easter bunny.  Wherever the rabbit went, Oliver wasn’t far behind.  In this pic, Oliver was inspecting a decoy when the real rabbit popped up.  He hightailed it outta there!

Evelyn loved chomping on the rabbit.  She even got a purple one of her own.

Oliver played a few games, including this Duck Swim.  Some ducks had the word, “Winner” written on the bottom of them.  If you picked those ducks, you got a prize.  Oliver, very systematically, picked all the ducks and they loaded him up with swag for being so cute.

Oooo, that wascally wabbit!  This was as close as Oliver got to the bunny.  I’m sure he’s going to have some crazy dreams tonight of a white rabbit.

Evelyn was a big hit.  With her bling and her shades, she looks like a superstar!

We had a great time out and about today.  We got some fresh air, some sunshine, and some exercise.  Best of all, we did it together and it cost us nothing.  It’s amazing what public resources are out there for everyone.  Google has become our best friend.  :-)

What have you done to celebrate spring this year?

SAHM one year anniversary

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Wow! It has officially been one year since I left my job to be a stay at home mom and a semi-regular blogger.  I traveled to yesteryear to refresh my memory on why I left the work force

I quote myself, “Instead of thinking of everything we will do without, we are thinking of everything we will gain – peace of mind about the baby, less stress, more sleep, more family time and more time to have a cleaner house and better meals.”  This was written without the knowledge that at that very moment, I was pregnant with Evelyn. 

Would things have been different if I had known?  Probably not.  My baby, Oliver, needed to be home with me.  I couldn’t take one more weekend of him being sick or another hospital visit.  (It’s funny that we are both sick right this moment as I type).  I did get more sleep, for a month or two at least, and we had loads of family time.  No more dinner in front of the TV and our clothes managed to get clean every week! 

I can’t say there was less stress.  Transitioning from being a career woman to a stay at home mom was difficult and has its challenges even today.  I give working moms a million kudos for being able to work and take care of your little ones and I give stay at home moms a million kudos for being able to work and take care of your little ones.  There have been times this past year where I have never worked harder in my life to keep the family going.  This must be why they say that you can’t truly appreciate your mother until you become one.  (I love you mom!)

And then there was this little blog that I started… Out of all the things I have written about can you guess what my top 3 posts are?  Make your own foaming handsoap, make your own liquid laundry detergent, and make your own powder laundry detergent!  I’ve pulled some data from this past year on the different things people are typing in search engines to come across my blog.  Soap, soap, and more soap wins hands down.  People find 2Pennies because they want to be clean, clean, clean!  What to do with Fels-Naptha, Kirk’s Castile, washing soda, and borax are repeat searches.  Foaming hand soap dispensers, clogs, and recipes are top searches.

Here are a few unique search engine queries:

thai basil plants fort walton beach
study of mandalas
blog on saving money on hunting clothes and equipment
pregnancy cheese
tvp dry lbs per cup
1lb of tvp is equal to how many cups
tvp conversion for 1lb of ground meat
roasted whole 6 lb chicken cooking time 400 degrees
can you roast a chicken upside down halfway through cooking
do melissa and doug toys sell at consignment sales
$12 banana box pallet
squeeze a booger out of lincoln noise
picture of rubbing pennies
napping breastfeeding

I don’t know how some of those people came to 2Pennies via those searches, but I hope I helped the rest!  I was tickled to see the TVP queries, as I had worked hard on the TVP conversions.

To celebrate 2Pennies2Rub’s anniversary, I am hosting a giveaway next month.  In honor of my most read post, I will be giving away a (wait for it…) – Suds Pump from Pampered Chef!  It’s a foaming hand soap dispenser with markings built in for the soap and water measurements. 

Clean on my friends and stay tuned for the giveaway in April!

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