Friday, February 25, 2011

Second Attempt This time a complete outfit

This time I completed an entire outfit. Not without flaws of course.
I did measure better as you can see it pretty much fits.
However the top part took me an amazing 6 hours to complete.
I did mess up quite a bit, and let me tell you straps are no fun for beginners.
I did use a trick that a friend told me about on here about using a safety pin.
It worked wonders on the elastic, and even worked with turning the straps right side out. Although it took me 2 hours to figure out that part.
I also would have to admit that pattern companies are trying to mess with me.
I follow along like I am supposed to then get jumbled up and confused at one step in the process every time. If I didn't follow a pattern I would have done it totally different, But then again The top would probably not have looked like it does if I had done that.
I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. I need to work on my technique in many areas, but I am learning a bunch of things as I go through this learning process. One example is how valuable You Tube is.
I didn't know what casing meant or under stitching, but a quick search sent me in the right direction.
I think these easy sew patterns are not all that easy, But then again most people attempting them probably have a least a little knowledge of how sewing works and such.
The pants went by fast this time. Although the crotch doesn't exactly line up with the front and back. Somehow I think I missed something, But I did not notice until we did a test wear and they were pretty much finished
Well now I guess its time to see if they hold together through the wash, Which I am kinda nervous about since I might have missed a back stitch or something along the way.
WE shall see.
Well here is the a few pictures with my test model.
Perhaps the wife will let me make her something. I guess the washing machine and baby testing will have to see if that will be a Go or not.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Sewing Adventure

When my wife got me a sewing machine I was a little intimidated. Sure I had made an owl. But that owl has, after only a few months, decided to try and return to the fabric state at which he started .
But after some research and a new fabric store opening here in town I decided to give a pattern a try.
I started with a pajama set, But after cutting the top pattern upside down and messing up enough that it turns out I have only been able to construct a pair of pajama pants instead of the whole set.

So as you can see they look like pants, Which I suppose is a good thing.  But as an absolute beginner I can tell you some things I had a hard time with and the some things I learned in the process.
Pants were pretty straight forward, Fold here put pattern on and cut it out.
then sew the inside of each leg. Easy enough. I wasn't very straight but in the end they came out pretty good. Next was putting on leg in the other and sewing the front and back together.
Luckily I paid attention as I almost started sewing so the end result would have been One leg right side out and the other inside out.
Then I had to make a band or casing for the elastic. Not too hard but I did find that trying to pass the elastic past the raised areas where I joined the legs to difficult. That and I'm not really sure how you sew this easily. I felt like a I did this wrong but somehow managed to get it to go in a straight line all the way around the waist.
Then it was time for the hem. I'm not sure but I managed to get it sewn from the inside, But to me this didn't feel quite right and it was not that much fun trying to sew a straight circle from the inside of a tiny leg hole.

I finally finished a pair of pants in about 2 and 1/2 hours. No mass producing of toddler pants anytime soon for me. on a side note I had to refill my bobbin twice. I didn't realize how much thread is in one piece.

One of the final steps is to have the person try out the item you made. Now I had followed the directions for the size it that was supposed to fit my daughter. I made sure I used the 5/8 of inch seam line and did the 1 1/4 hem and waist line. But when I put them on my daughter for a test run, They went to her armpits, and hung past her feet by about 4 inches.
As you can see they came out a little big.
My wife says I can take them in and hem them up some more.
Which will probably take me quite a bit of time to figure out how to do.
But at least they look like pants, although it was supposed to be a whole set,
I did learn that I should measure the kiddo before cutting out the whole pattern :)
or Ashlynn can wait about 8 months before she can put them on.
Next sewing project will be to make a matching puppy from the left over material.
Then another set for the kiddo.
For some reason the wife wont let me make things for her lol.


 



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Super Discount Program for my Etsy Shop

You read it correctly.
I have created a promotion that I think will be quite a bit of fun.

I am going to offer discount codes for a variety of things associated with my shop.

The first part of the promotion for February is by mentioning my shop or blog on face book or blog spot and sending me a link you will receive a 15% OFF entire order from my shop.
( I will forward you the code when I receive a link )

If you really do not feel like doing that,
You can order any combination of items at 10.00 or more and receive a special code for 20% off your next order. Or you can forward that code to a friend. ( Please do not forward it to everyone, It will be a special code generated for you and up to 2 others)   * 10.00 is for items purchased not including shipping


If you order any combination of items 20.00 or more and receive a special code for 30% OFF your next order. Again you can send this to 2 other friends if you prefer. ( Please do not forward it to everyone, It will be a special code generated for you and up to 2 others) * 20.00 is for items purchased not including shipping

Any combination of my jewelry section purchase for over 12.00 and receive and coupon code for a coupon code equal to purchase price ( **up to 40%)  and receive free shipping on second order. ( Jewelry already ships free)

* This special code will have a one time usage for the next order. You can send it to a friend if you choose not to use it your self. The code will be generated and sent when you or your friend are ready to complete the second order and will have a time limit of one hour. ( This is to protect myself and my shop from abuse)

The BIG Promotion is spend 50.00 or more and you will receive a Free sample box (11.00 value) and get free shipping *(less 3 or more soaps and numerous candles, in which case I will take 50% off shipping* refunded via paypal *)

The special part of this is you will also get a Super Code for 50% off your next order or you can forward the code to a friend. * This special code will have a one time usage for the next order. You can send it to a friend if you choose not to use it your self. The code will be generated and sent when you or your friend are ready to complete the second order and will have a time limit of 30 min. ( This is to protect myself and my shop from abuse)

All codes will be unique and generated after any completion of the above situations.
My hopes are that people will take part in the promotion and try some items from my shop.



Also as a fun little game, Find the one item in my shop that says You Found the Secret Item and you will receive a set of 6 Bath teas free with any order. Just follow the directions following the sentence.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Organizing Coupons and Short Cuts

OK well I had some great response to our coupon adventures thus far, So I'm going to break down some more tips to get the most of a shopping experience.
This time we we saved 46% from a 306.00 Bill ending with a 172.00 grocery bill.
That was pretty fun. Although we spent most of Saturday afternoon in a grocery store.

We could probably save more but we still get items that do not have coupons.
Such as Meats, Pet items, Dairy and Produce. ( Look for recipes this week)

 This is mostly about good organization,  Ill explain how we did it with groceries and add some organizing tips for the week at the end. ( another project of mine )

The First thing we do is plan of attack, For one you don't really want meat and dairy hanging out in your cart for 3 hours. secondly produce is fragile and doesn't really like being stacked up on with tons of other foods.

What we did this time and it seemed to work the best is to start in the snack and soda aisle and then work through the middle of the store. Followed by the meats, then dairy and finally produce. Since most produce doesn't last very long I only get about 4 days worth. We eat alot of salads.

Also keep track of you spending with a calculator, Remember to add tax if you have it in your state for non-food items and prepared food. ours is at 7% ish so I add .10 to each dollar to round up.

Since you will be starting in the middle, Higher priced items like dog food toilet paper and cleaning/ Household supplies add up pretty quickly.

Another tip I do is not take off any discounts like the coupons your using. I use cash so we don't go over budget if you keep track of your spending and use coupons its a fun surprise when you get to the check-out.

Another thing you may want to do is have some sort of tracking on your electronic coupons if your using them. We print off our list and Highlight the deals that match with our coupons or store discounts.
It kind of a pain in the butt, but worthwhile if you spend some time loading them and keeping track.

The aisles that take the longest are household cleaning and laundry, condiments, and toothpaste/ personal hygiene. But I can say our family can skip those aisles completely for a few months due to the savings we have accumulated this last month.

I will check the deals though since you cant really lose on getting something like that for super cheap.

Now that you have a game plan on targeting the best route on the grocery store.
Let me explain a little better our coupon book.
I had explained that we have baseball card sleeves and sections broken down by aisles.
Well my wife took that a bit farther to make it a little easier to navigate this book.

Here goes.
A. Deli meats and bread.
     1. This section only needs one sleeve as not many coupons come out for this area.
     2. Mostly deli packaged meats, Hot dogs, and that are all in one area. You might even find stuff like Bob  
         Evans or items like that.
B. Baby Items.
      1. If you don't have a baby, Lol well that's pretty easy, just omit this section.
      2. Almost every time I get diapers ( hopefully ending soon ) at Target I get a coupon for 1.50 off
      3. You can put juices and baby bath items in this section.
      4. You only need about one sleeve for this.
      5. If you have a newborn, sign up at every baby site you can think of, Huggies, Pampers, etc. As well as
          baby programs for your store. You will get valuable coupons for items like formula, wipes and more.
       6. Most stores have some way to track your child's growing phases and you will get coupons for this
       7. If you qualify for Wic. go for it.  It doesn't work for Stay at home dads though.
C. Vitamins and Medicines.
       1. This includes band aids, hand sanitizers
       2. This is a great section if you plan on doing CVS, and Walgreens deals.
       3. We have one sleeve in this section.
       4. Coupons for Aleve and those type of Name Brand things are usually pretty good but in most cases I
           I have found the store brand has the same ingredients and works the same for a fraction of the cost.
D. Cosmetics.
       1. This is a 2 page section
       2. We broke it down to make-up on one page
       3. Hair dyes on the second page.
       4. For me I have found that can get alot of matching electronic coupons for this area, Making it a good
           way to get Name brand make-up for little cost.
       5. We used to skip this section, but if you look carefully and at close-outs and such you actually can do
            very well. And its keeps the wife happy as well.
E. Tooth Paste and Personal Hygiene. ( Big Section )
        1. This section has 7 sleeves and we use the back side of the sleeve on each page by putting the
             coupon backwards so you can see it on the back-side.
         2. Break it down like this for ease of navigation.
             a. Mouth wash and floss
             b. toothpaste and toothbrushes.
                 1. if you subcategories into brand like Colgate and crest its much easier.
             c. Body washes and deodorants.
                 1. Subcategories this into men and women. Since the stores do that as well.
                 2. Keep like brand together like Suave, Olay and such together, stores do that too.
              d. shave creams/gels and razors.
                 1. These are usually in the same area.
              e. Lotions.
                  1. these are all broke down by brand as well
               f. Facial Cleansers.
                  1. It took me 35 years to realize this is its own section.
               g. Shampoo and Conditioners.

You may have to adjust for your store. But this makes those 2 or more aisle much easier to get through.
Might I suggest staying away from the Superstores when doing this as this aisle is the most shopped section of a Superstore and can get quite crowded.

F. Breakfast and Cereal.
     1. If you signed up for Kellogg's and other brand stores like this you will have additional coupons on          2. Snack bars and fruit cups can be added to this section as they are either close to cereal or very close.
      3. .We have 2 sleeves for this.
G. Canned good and Soups.
      1. Rice, Pasta and canned vegetables/ canned tomatoes are usually in the same aisle so these are all here.
      2. Soups are usually with condiments, But that section is usually full of coupons so I found it easier to
          have here.
      3. 2 Sleeves should suffice, Unless its around the Fall holidays.
H. Condiments, Spices and Baking.
      1. This includes salad dressing.
          a. I have quite a few easy home made dressings, But lately have found that getting a good dressing for
              a good price is cheaper than making it at home.
      2. Sugar and yeast are in this section.
      3. Three pages should work.
          a. Do salad dressing and items like hot sauces, soy sauces on one page.
          b. Pickles, olives, Oils can be together too.
          c. Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup and BBQ sauces should be together also.
I.  Candies Snacks and cookies.
      1. Crackers and cookies
      2. Popcorn
      3. Pepperoni is in this aisle also :)
      4. 2 pages are allotted for this but since Superbowl was recently I think alot of coupons were put out.
J. Paper and Storage
      1. Plastic bags, trash bags and paper products like Kleenex
      2. Toilet Paper and Paper Towels also.
      3. One page works, ****Remember Electronic coupons on this section*****
K. Pet. ( omit if you have no pets )
      1. Usually Dog items are on one side or section and cats are on another.
      2. Always look closely at wet food items. You sometime have to buy 15 cans to get 1.00 off(Not a deal)
      3. Sites for animals have coupons sometime too, Like tidy cat and such.
L.  Cleaning and Laundry.
      1. These are usually on either side of the same aisle.
      2. Febreze candles and air fresheners are scattered in here as well.
      3. We break it down like this
          a. Cleaning items categorized by brand
          b. Dish soap, Both dishwasher and regular stuff
          c. Laundry soap by brand.
          d. Fabric softener
       4. We have 4 pages here
You can further break it down by bathroom kitchen and other rooms if you want.

M. Frozen Foods.
       1. 2 sleeves are in this.
       2. One page is vegetables, frozen breakfast, and ice creams
       3. the other page is like frozen appetizers, dinners and meats like chicken and meatballs
 N. Dairy
       1. Yogurt gets its own page. And if you store doubles you get yogurt for really cheap, and Its good for
            you.
       2. Cheese can be its own area, followed with butter and eggs, and sometimes cream cheese, sour
           cream.
       3. 3 Pages work good here.
       4. Pillsbury has been putting out coupons since we started this. So much so that we don't even clip those
           since we would use that much of them, But its good to put in this section.

    O. Specialty.
        1. Juices sometimes have coupons. These go here.
        2. Coupons that come with your products,
        3. Febreze coupons go in here. I only get them if they are basically free.
        4. Store exclusive coupons like Target and Publix which send out coupons in the snail mail occasionally.
            a. These are great store coupons that usually last for 4 months.
            b. Publix takes Target coupons so when Bogo or something is there Bonus !!!

     P. I have a weekly deals section.
         1. This is where i keep my printed electronic list
         2. I keep a short list of accumulated Great deals here so I make sure I get those Items.
            

Holy cow I don't think I have typed so much at one time in a few years.
I hope this section will help people like is helped us.
Ill have more on coupons at the beginning of the week to help everybody and myself to deals of the week.


As far a organizing, This week is Bathrooms Plus on extra bedroom ( Not office or hobby room though)
Take today and Tomorrow for DE-cluttering. Spend 15 minutes once or twice a day and get rid of old magazines, medicines, shampoos almost empty and such. 

As far as Tuesdays go, Its pretty much a free day
For me minus my normal schedule. ( check archives )
I tend to plants, spend 15 minutes in my weekly area
and Work on my etsy shop. 5 items only

Have a great day and see you tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just a quick note

This weekend I managed to make some new items.
Some Jewelry sets and a few new soaps
I also made some re-usable votive candles with holders.

The biggest thing that we did this weekend was with our newest venture of using coupons.
Our latest outing we were able to get 306.00 in groceries for 172.00 So our total saving this time was about 46%.

I plan on doing a blog about it this week as well as some product descriptions.
I just wanted to make sure I posted today so I get into a routine, like everything else I have going on.

Please feel free to check out my new listings by clicking on my etsy link.
My poor shop has been feeling a little left out so far this month :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New adventures. Coupons

Well for the last few weeks we have been working on trying to save on groceries.
So far our average is about 40% off what we have gotten. Pretty good in my opinion for just starting out.
For example last week we spent 170 on groceries and such and ended up saving 130 in coupons and discounts.

I figured I would share some of my tips and update how we get better at it. This is part of my whole reorganizing and getting better about how our house operates.

Let me first say, This is very labor intensive and requires a great deal of preparation.
From first cutting coupons to getting them all organized, then finding the best deals for the week, It takes quite a bit of time.
Secondly I was skeptical to even try this doing it. As an example I would see store brands of an item for .79 and with coupons or discounts I could get a name brand for .49 I didn't think to be much of a deal, But if you take 5 of the .79 and 5 five of the .49 you save 1.50 which when applied to something else, adds up pretty quickly

WE shop mostly at a store called Kroger, There are links to deals at other stores, but for where we live and the fact that they Double coupons up to .50 is what keeps us going there.

Here is a breakdown of what I did to save some grocery money. Hopefully it will help you too.

A. Get a Grocery savings card for your store you shop most.
     1. Sign up with your information, You get additional coupons in the mail
     2. Some stores have electronic coupons you can load to your card.
         a. Be selective about your electronic coupons, For example our family doesn't use some specified
             medicines or pregnancy tests. :)
         b. The store I use has a phone application that I cant bring up to see what I have on the card.
             this saves me time and I don't have to print off 8 pages of additional things to look for while    shopping.
         c. Electronic coupons are sometimes pretty nice. For example we get 3.00 off toilet paper every so
             often.
     3. Link websites such as P and G saver, Upromise, to your shopping card.
         a. P and G Saver will let you sign-up to receive additional coupons by mail and free samples.
         b. Upromise offers college saving and exclusive coupons.
         c. There are other sites that link to your card such as cellfire (phone app) and shortcuts.com
      4. Set-up a folder from your email to be for coupons and a Favorites tab for coupon websites,
          a. You Favorites Tab can include sites like Clorox, or Kellogg's which offer coupons as well.

       5. Know your stores policies, Stores like Publix for example accepts Target printable coupons.
           and Target accepts their printable coupons and manufacturers coupons, Which can make for some   
           great prices.

B. Get a 3 ring binder and at least 2 sets of baseball card sleeve packs.
        1. Get 2 packs of dividers as well.
       
Here is what I have learned doing this research,
Your going to have about 3 months of coupons at any given time.  Most coupons are at their prime towards the expiration date as this is when a new product to replace the old is coming out and the price should be lowest.
You are going to have a major amount of hygiene products, make-up. Cleaning supplies and laundry coupons. You can stock up on toothpaste almost every week, Getting a tube for .25 or better almost every time. My family and I are stocking up on these supplies so they don't pop up later when we need them and we are forced to pay full price.
One benefit we have noticed so far Is my wife is able to get some nice things. Such as we were able to get a Olay Facial cleanser for 1.25, which normally cost about 7.00

C. Organize your binder by your store layout,
    1. This may take a few times going to the store. As you have probably been through the aisles of your
        store hundreds of times, Trying to remember each aisle is tougher than you think.
    2. Put your older coupons in the front page of each section. This way as each week passes your can have
        older ones up front and ready to go for those great deals,
    3. Couponmom.com suggest putting the date and what coupon book they came from on each coupon. I 
        have not started doing this but it may be easier for some to keep track this way.

D. Save yourself some major time and energy and go to couponmom.com
     1. this website breaks down the deals per store the best deals for that week and well pretty much helps
         you find the best deals. Slickdeals.net has the same thing and has some more intense coupon
         strategy's but is a little harder to navigate and follow.

E. Be ready to spend some time in the store.
    1. even though I have a book, organized by store. It seems I get to that aisle and we get stuck there for a while looking for the deals we want to get. I am sure there is an easier way to do this, but it does lead to some family time, Which is always good.

F. Not convinced.  Try it for a month, I think you will see that its worth the extra time to do it. If you spend 15-20 minutes a day or less you can get ready for your grocery day.

G. Some of these deal you get items for pretty much free, or for a less than .25
     You can keep them for yourself or donate the extras to charity's and food banks as well.
      I fully think the good Karma from that will come back to you ten fold as well