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No Spend October

We are always looking for ways to save money around here, so when I heard the concept of a No-Spend month, I was definitely intrigued. The idea is, barring absolute emergencies, to go an entire month without spending any money! Sounds crazy, right? Well, we’re in an interesting financial spot at the moment (my husband is going on 6 months of being unemployed – anyone need an IT professional??), so it seemed like as good a time as any to try it out!

The first thing I had to do was check our schedules and make sure it was practical or even possible. We have an October Birthday in our home, and a standing trip we take as a family every year. These won’t be excluded from No-Spend, but instead I made a strict budget for each and we will have to stick tightly to those budgets.

The next step was checking our pantry and freezer to see what food we had to subsist on for 31 days. An in-depth inventory revealed that, with the exception of 1 or 2 items, we had plenty of food to last a month. To be honest, that’s a little embarrassing to admit, but perfect for a month of no-spending!

The last thing I will have to do is make a meal plan using the oodles of food I found. That means this month my husband will have to try Quinoa and I will have to find a way to not get tired of chicken recipes! Sounds like a fun challenge 😉

Have you ever done a no-spend month? How did it work out for you?

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Valuable

Something I think I learn more and more about the longer I’m a wife and mother is Stewardship. I’ve gone in and out of crazy couponing phases (and settled on something practical, which I’ve chronicled on this blog,) I’ve learned how to make things stretch, reuse old things (partly to save money and partly because it’s fun!), and, most importantly, how to budget and save. It’s a big deal. Sometimes I go overboard. I don’t want to throw away cereal boxes or jars because I see what they have the potential to become. (I know, it’s crazy.) My wonderful, loving husband has a way of being the voice of reason in these moments… The point is, I see value in every little thing.

When I was a little girl, my parents gave me these china-esque dolls. They were beautiful, wore Victorian garb, and I was instructed that they were never to come out of their boxes. I was 7 or 8, and the idea of a doll that had to live in a box was just ridiculous. But I obeyed my parents and left them in the box… till I was 22. After I got married, I decided that the boxes had been beaten up like crazy over the last decade and a half and if they were “worth anything” before, they probably weren’t now. But I knew they were valuable and wanted to preserve them, so the boxes went into the garbage, and the dolls, on their stands, went on a shelf. They were beautifully displayed there along with my boxed-up Barbies. I respected my parents’ wishes, but even in my 20s, it didn’t make sense to me that they were dolls that weren’t to be played with.

My daughter turned 6 over the weekend. I’ve watched how responsible she’s become, and seen how she does everything she can to truly care for her things. I decided these dolls needed to learn to play, and that Alexa was the perfect playmate for them. So today, I took them off of their stands and gave them to her. I must say, the joy on her face at receiving such beautiful dolls was far more valuable than any amount I could have sold them for. Now, there are restrictions, of course. These dolls don’t go outside, and they shouldn’t be around food or paint, but they are just perfect for a tea party, or as she’s doing now, to put on mommy’s high heels and dance around your room with.

Sometimes, I think our ideas of value are skewed. As I thought about the last 18 years that those dolls have sat in a box and on a shelf, I began to picture all the things I could have done with those dolls. Growing up, I was the middle child in the house. I had 2 older brothers and 2 younger sisters. How nice would it have been if I could have had tea parties with dolls in beautiful Victorian dresses. I wonder how that would have changed my perception of play, girliness, or life. But instead they sat in boxes on shelves and I was allowed merely to look at them.

My parents meant well. I think they thought they were giving me something I would cherish as I grew. And I do cherish those dolls, and the fact that they are still so beautiful after so long… but I have a feeling I can cherish them better through watching my little girl’s enjoyment of them, than having them sit on a shelf. I hope, as a parent, that I never to put the cost or potential value of a thing above the value of childhood.
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Valentine’s Dress!!

Okay, so I saw the material for this dress at JoAnn and decided the girl had to have a dress made out of it. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna make it (her Christmas dress didn’t turn out all that well), but I had to try!! Well, I’d been piddling around about doing it because I was still dreaming it up… what would look good, how much of the material to use, what to put with it, yada yada yada… This morning I was laying in bed and it hit me! My funky little biscuit was gonna have a dress that matched her personality, and it was all made up in my head. So, finally, on a snow day with my hubby hundreds of miles away, I made it happen. And here you go!

haha, she’s so sassy! (forgive the boring DOOR background, but I wasn’t about to make her step outside in the snow, and the living room is pretty much a war zone what with being trapped inside the last 2 days!)

I improvised the waistline… I was SET on a belted look, but after gathering the skirt, it was TOO cute up top not to let it be seen. And, since I’d already put the belt on, it looks even neater!


And it absolutely needed a matching bow…

That pretty girl. And if I do say so myself, I rocked this dress haha…

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Bag for dirty dipes…

Yesterday was interesting! My lovely family all had some terrible allergy problems – hubby had it worst – so everything fell on me. No big deal, but it was exhausting! (And I’m pretty sure I forgot to eat all day. I had a bottle of Coke. Oops?)

BUT, this project was a necessary one. I was gonna lose my mind if we didn’t come up with a solution to where Chris’ diapers should go. (You see, we decided on cloth, and have no regrets, but we never did buy a diaper pail… so those diapers just haven’t had a place to go… until now!)

So lastnight, I took a receiving blanket we’d been given that was somehow already losing some of the stitching on the edges, and made it into a bag. (I tried taking pictures as I went, but I was literally sewing while calming a needy baby, so pictures just didn’t happen. I’ll do better next time!)

Here’s the bag. Voila!

And it was so quick & easy, I made two 🙂

They fit about 6 diapers each, and we usually wash at that point, so it’s perfectly practical!

BTW, the fam is doing a little better today. Keep praying for wellness 🙂