Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Easy Pacifier Clip

Hi my name is Brave Brooke and I hate searching for pacifiers. The other day I went and bought a bunch because I detest looking for them and yet I was still searching for the 7 we own. Months ago I made KZ a pacifier clip that is sadly sitting somewhere along our route home from our long road trip so it was time to make another one and a couple to spare.

This is one of the first sewing projects I've done in quite a few weeks. It was so rewarding to finish and it was so simple. This is a great project to use scraps for

All you need is:
  • A piece of fabric that is 10"x 4" (one of the ones I made was more like 10" x 3.75" and it still worked out just fine)
  • A clip (this is the kind that I ordered)
  • Ribbon (about 4")
  • Velcro/a snap
  • Optional: button pacifier (MAM or NUK) adapter

First fold the short ends down 1/4" and press.

Next fold it in half lengthwise and in half again (see picture) and press.

Before sewing the fabric closed unfold and sew any embellishments and the fastener (Velcro or snap) for the clip on. For a button pacifier you will need the adapter for the top and the clip for the bottom. The first one of these I made I put Velcro on either end. For this one I used a piece of ribbon on the adapter side. This tutorial can be used for any type of pacifier. 

Refold the fabric and sew around all sides. As you come around the end opposite of the clip side sew in the ribbon folded in half with the ends inserted into the top. 

Make sure any embellishments are secure. For the bow I back stitched before I sewed it closed and then once it was sewed up I tied it and with coordinating thread hand stitched it through the knot to make sure it wouldn't come untied. 

Notice the clip on the left has a snap. 

These are the best pictures I could get of her using her pacifier clip. She is on the go with no time for pictures!

What embellishments would you put on a pacifier clip?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coupon to Christmas: How I'm Earning Money for Christmas Gifts This Year PT 1

Not a sponsored post BUT if you sign up for any of these programs I get a referral bonus, just like if you referred your friends yourself. I'm not doing this to earn money (although that'd be great) but to spread knowledge. 

So I've already started on my Christmas prep (remember when I posted about being Wrapped and Done by December One?). I have been using apps and sites to coupon and earn money which I will use to purchase gifts for Christmas. I have only been doing it for a few months, but I hope to cover a lot of gifts this year using my earnings. Here's what I'm doing:

1. Ibotta. Ibotta is a rebate app for grocery stores, alcohol stores, health and beauty stores, apparel stores, electronic stores, restaurants, special occasions, pet stores, home improvement stores, babies and kids stores and movie theaters. That covers a lot! I mostly use it for groceries. They have weekly rebates for milk, bread and eggs as well as major brand items. Easy to use and you get $5 for each person you successfully refer. I've made $15.75 so far. My referral link (disclosure: signing up through this link earns me $5!)

2. Shopkick. Shopkick is a rewards app for both going to a store (like Target) and then scanning items you find there (but don't have to buy). The kicks you earn you can use for all kinds of rewards like gift cards to Target, Starbucks, Macy's, Old Navy, Itunes, American Eagle, gas stations OR big items like Coach handbags, iPads, Tiffany jewelry, Kitchen Aid mixers or Beats by Dre. You get kicks for going into stores you probably already frequent: Target, Best Buy, JC Penney, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Kohl's and a lot more. Easy to use. So far, I've earned a $10 gift card to Target. My referral link (disclosure: you signing up through this link gets me up to 500 kicks, it matches what kicks YOU get in the first month)

3. Bing Rewards. Searching and earning rewards: so easy! You earn credits for searching on your phone (up to 10 credits per day) and PC (up to 15 credits per day). You can search for anything, and aren't you already searching for stuff anyways? So far I've earned $15 in Amazon gift cards. My referral link (disclosure: I get 500 credits for people I refer who reach "silver status" or earn 200 credits)

How are you earning money for Christmas? I'd love to get some more ideas!

Look out for Brooke's post telling us how she's earning money for Christmas!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Precious Cargo Baby Shower Decor

Back in March, I co-hosted a baby shower for my friend. The theme was Precious Cargo. It was really fun to plan. Here's our Pinboard: Precious Cargo Baby Shower Inspiration Our colors were red, white and blue and we decorated with air planes, boats, globes, and luggage, as you will see!

Here are some pictures of the decor:

Here's the food table. We had some Jelly Belly candies in the colors of the shower, chicken salad sandwiches, a relish tray, a fruit tray (it came later, so not pictured), mini ice box cakes with strawberry whipped cream, and a banner cake. For decor, the honoree had the boat, cloud paper and typewriter. My co-host brought the glasses and straws.

Banner cake: banner by me (made with my Silhouette) and cake by my co-host.

Guests came in and picked up their travel passports. Inside were the supplies for all the games and other shower activities including:

Travel advice cards. Made by me =) Sign made by honoree (She was very happily involved)

Here's the whole table. I loved the globe she had and it fit perfectly with the theme!

This amazing chalkboard style art was made by the honoree (she is so talented) and so was the banner.

"Drop your luggage here" sign to show where the gifts went as well as some vintage luggage =)

Airplane banner by honoree. So fun!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Leaves Monogram

Happy Fall, Y'all! I wrote this post as a guest post two years ago but never shared it on our blog. So to get in the spirit of the season, here is my  Fall Leaves Monogram. I started by grabbing some fall patterned paper scraps from my scrapbook stash.


Using my Silhouette, I cut out a bunch of leaves from these scraps. Then I cut out my monogram also using my Silhouette. If you don't have a Silhouette, you could get some leaves like these and then hand cut your monogram. For this craft, you want a simple monogram because it ends up being really busy--straight lines are best!


I covered the "W" in adhesive and then stuck my first layer of leaves on.


Then I added more glue and filled in the holes.


I let the leaves staggered the leaves to create more visual interest and then trimmed down the sides.


Then I used some 3-D pop adhesives to give it a little dimension and backed it on a coordinating piece of cardstock.


Last, I popped it in a frame and called it good. Here's the finished product!


Here it is with my fall table scape:


(kinda weird to see this--I've moved two times since I wrote this post!)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Why I quit clipping coupons--and spend even less on groceries!

Yes, you read that headline right. I don’t coupon, and typically I pay $30-50 a week for groceries for a family of six—three meals a day (including lunches for my kids). I know that a lot of bloggers will tell you how wonderful couponing is, and it’s true that you can save a lot of money. I've done couponing in the past—I tried the Grocery Game for 12 weeks and did save money . . . when it worked. But here are the reasons why couponing just didn’t work for us.

Local grocery store sales schedules don’t cooperate

First of all, when I tried the Grocery Game years ago, they included some of the larger (more expensive) grocery stores. Now they only list deals for chains like Walgreens, RiteAid, and Walmart. When they did list actual grocery stores, the deal list came out on Sundays, and the deals ended on Tuesday. To get deals, that means I absolutely hdd to go shopping on Monday or Tuesday. If I’m busy or sick, too bad. Plus . . .

By the time I could shop, the shelves were picked clean

That wouldn’t be quite as bad except for the fact that, when I finally did get to go out armed with the best coupon/deal/sale combinations, there was nothing left. No, I don’t mean “Oh, my favorite flavor of this is gone, so I’ll have to settle for my second favorite” gone.

I mean the shelves with the sale items were completely empty. The end-of-aisle displays and island displays were gone. There was no more stock in the back. And the next shipment wouldn’t be in for days—till after the sale ended. “Gone” gone. No rainchecks.

Granted, this only happened with the absolute best sales, but it usually happened by Friday night (sometimes as early as 9 PM on day one of the sale, though!). The premise behind the Grocery Game is that sales run in 12 week cycles. If they’re so predictable, why not time the new lists so I can go at the beginning of the sales, before everything is picked over? And, really, are there that many good coupons in the coming week that waiting until the next Sunday’s paper justifies missing most of the good sales?

Frankly, I don’t need this stuff

To paraphrase Jurassic Park, couponing keeps you so preoccupied with whether or not you can, you didn’t stop to think if you should. You can get 50,000 razors for pennies apiece, but what are you going to do with them?

If you really want to save money, don't buy stuff you don't need. At all. Ever.

It’s just food

I know, I know, food is a little bit important in sustaining life. Right. But the things that coupons come for most of the time will not form part of a complete meal. For example, in this week’s paper, I found coupons for:
  • Fruit snacks
  • Cinnamon rolls, biscuits
  • Cereal
  • Desserts
  • Snack cakes
  • Chips
  • Candy
  • Frozen pizza and pizza-type things
  • Spaghetti-Os
Actual meals in there? Breakfast, biscuits as a side with dinner, freezer pizza and canned spaghetti (which I don’t even like). Healthy.

It’s mostly just food—food I probably didn’t need anyway. Again, even if I can get $50 worth of snack food for $0.50, once again, it doesn’t mean I should. It’s $0.50 I don’t really need to spend (and it’s never just $0.50) and it’s probably 50 pounds I don’t need to gain.

Granted, many couponing programs do note when there’s a good sale on fruit and meat, but I can figure that out myself.

I’m just not convinced

I know that it’s so easy to come home from couponing with a huge amount listed on the receipt as your “Amount Saved.” The rewards seem very tangible. But when I buy the store brand on sale instead of the name brand, my receipt doesn’t list that as part of my amount saved. While I could be saving just as much, the rewards are less tangible.

For example, I took a look at my grocery receipt for last week and compared prices on a few things that you just can’t use coupons on: store-brand milk, store-brand juice, meat (London broil), cucumbers, tomatoes and nectarines. I chose these because they happened to be on sale at both the discount store and the larger store I used the Grocery Game with store that week.

What did I discover? I was overcharged for my nectarines! I want my $1.47 back!

Erm, um. . . . In the amounts that I bought of these six things, the discount store was cheaper by more than $5 for one week’s worth of groceries. But if I really wanted to compare prices, one thing I’d have to take into account: I bought 2.23 lbs of meat, and the sale price at the other store (already $1/lb more) only applied to “Super Value Packs,” which would probably be at least twice as much meat. (And then I’d have to figure out a place to store it…)

Taking into account what I’d really have to spend to get that price, assuming I could find a small Super Value Pack (5 lbs, or two London broils), the difference grew to $13.63. On six things. That’s a lot of coupons.

What Works for Me

When I was on top of couponing, I review my stock of coupons before looking at the cheaper grocery store’s fliers. Then I look at the fliers and plan the week’s meals around what’s on sale. Then I write down anything else that’s a good deal that we normally eat and check my shelves to see if we’re low. Finally, I see if I have a coupon for anything in the flier and decide whether I really want it. (More ways I save money on groceries.)

We do still stock up on many things and rotate through our stock, but the #1 thing that helps save money is getting a sense of good prices for products. It takes observation and time, but eventually you'll be able to tell whether that's a good deal on meat or milk or mangoes.

My favorite shopping trick: Local stores periodically offer “case lot sales,” where canned goods (usually store brand) are marked down considerably—usually 50¢ a can or less. We stockpile canned goods during these sales. We use several FIFO organizers (first in, first out) and I’ve never run out of canned goods since we started really stockpiling during these sales.

I prefer shopping when and where I want, bringing less junk food into my house, and bringing home meals and food we’ll actually eat. To me, that’s the most cost effective way to get our grocery shopping done.

Need more help grocery shopping? Check out 11 ways to stay sane while grocery shopping with kids and 25 unconventional ways to save money on groceries.

Photo credit: coupons by 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Road Trip Tips: part two- Navigating, Saving Money, Items to Bring, and Memories

I have been working hard on some crafts around the house I can't wait to show you guys!

Today is the second installment of traveling tips. See the first post here.

We brought 4 different types of navigation and we used them all. Most of the time at least two at the same time. Of course we brought our trusty GPS. We put our final destination (going and then returning) so we could keep track of how long total we had to go. We also used the Google Map app on our iPhones to give us the best directions and update us of traffic conditions (which we hit a TON of in Arkansas, boo!). We used an atlas. It gave us distances between cities and and broader view of where and how we were traveling. Last, we used pre-printed paper directions of the whole trip. 

We tried to get as much done as possible when we needed to make pit stops. Gas, potty, food, and nursing the baby and we were back on the road. We had a sheet that we used as a picnic blanket in case we wanted to eat outdoors and let the kids run around. We had a pretty set schedule of when we stopped which coincided with meal times and my usual nursing schedule. For staying the night we used apps on our phones to decide. Mid-afternoon we would decide where we would try to make it to and I would begin my research into where to stay. I used the Expedia and Trip Advisor apps which I will talk about more below. 
Picnicking on a beautiful day
Money Saving:
Gas: So there is no app available on the iPhone for this (only Android) so I had to look at their website but I used . Once we had about a 1/4 of a tank I plugged in our current location and about where we could make it to and found the cheapest gas. We frequently found that at Sam's Club which is lucky my mom has a membership! If we were close to where we wanted to get gas I used the Gas Buddy app. 
Hotels: As I mentioned above I used the Expedia App. It is super user friendly and I found a promo code the first day to save the first time I booked on the app. We also used the TripAdvisor app to look at reviews of the hotels. There are reviews on the Expedia App but I just like to double check there to make sure.

General Tips for things to bring:
  • First Aid kit with (at least) bandaids, triple antibiotic ointment, anti-itch cream, and stomach, headache, and allergy medicine. 
  • Strings, paper, tape, scissors, and pens. Trust me in case you need to fix something or make something stay in place. I created a paper towel holder with the string and we tied it onto the handles on the back of one of the chairs.
  • Air freshener. Trust it will get gross smelling especially if you were lucky like us and had a puker on the first day!
  • Grocery bags for trash or other carrying needs. Both the paper towel and the trash hung by a baby toy chain link.
  • Sunscreen 
  • Camera (which is easily accessible)
  • Single dollar bills for tolls
  • Pillows for kids and adults
  • Sheet- as mentioned above we used it as a picnic blanket and we also put it over the baby when she napped so she could have some darkness and peace.
  • Gallon sized bags to put snacks once they get opened and all different sizes of baggies.
  • Club membership cards. 

Along our trip we did a few things to remember the fun times we had. I made a calendar of our trip. It gave us a visual of when we needed to leave and how long things had and would take. Each day we also wrote in box where we went, funny, sad, and fun things that happened. On the back we wrote our memories about each state. We also took a picture of each state welcome sign. 

I have one more post to write about traveling with kids! Do you have and tried and true methods of traveling?!

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