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Spinning Straw Into Gold

Lately, I’ve found myself in hunting mode. Not actual hunting, of course, but hunting for hidden cash. This much I know: It’s not in our attic.

Nothing is in our attic, except for the air conditioner, and that sure ain’t making us any money this time of year. I’m not mad at it, mind you — I still remember what life was like this time two years ago when it went kaput [shudder] — but I can’t help but hear a faint ka-ching! ka-ching! of money falling out of my pocket every time it kicks on. Well worth it. (I can’t seem to stress that enough. Can you tell it’s hot this week??)

A while back, this post really struck a chord with me. I don’t have a latte habit, unless you can call a cup every other month or so a “habit”; we eat out, but not every night; we’re getting better at the whole DIY thing around the house. Clearly, it’s not like we couldn’t cut back even further if the need arose — far from it, since we’re still talking about eating out at all and have a house — yet it would be hard to do so without feeling uncomfortably tight-fisted at this point.

One does like a little mad money, though. Especially since I don’t work outside the home right now, a “little” mad money is exactly what I’m bringing in. Better than nothing, I say! Here are a few of my favorites these days (though most are nothing new to you longtime readers):

  • Swagbucks : I happen to love Swagbucks. I’d read about it on some blog or another ages ago, but didn’t quite get it and didn’t sign up until I read about it again last fall. Man! When I think about the gift cards I would’ve been earning! Basically, you use the Swagbucks search engine for any of your everyday searches, and are randomly awarded “bucks”. In addition to that, there are lots of other ways to earn points throughout the day. Now, when I first signed up, I was pretty feverish about racking up points and spent a lot of time at night completing Tasks and Surveys. These days, I’ve sort of slowed down, but still earn about at least a couple of $5 gift cards per month. (Those are the best value, in my opinion.) Another way to earn bucks is through referrals, which is why my referral link is embedded above.** Thanks, friends!
  • Ye Olde Coinstar : Seriously — I cannot recommend this often or heartily enough. When I do want that occasional latte, I’d rather feel like I’m not paying good money for it. It’s silly, but cashing in coins for gift cards makes it feel free to me. Back when I was still frequenting the coin-op laundromat, it was a different story, but now? Please don’t try to part me from my change. Don’t ask me if I have a nickel so that you don’t have to count out ninety-five cents — I’m saving that money for some books (hello again, Amazon!) and a coffee.
  • Once Upon a Child: When Joey was a toddler, I used to clean out his closet fairly regularly and made a stop at Once Upon a Child a few times. The first time was pretty worth it…and then it became progressively less so. There’s only so long I’m willing to wait around for $3, ya know? However, I gave it another shot a couple of months ago, and it was a much better experience! I mean, I only made less than $20, but I only came in with one basket of clothes and the whole transaction took less than twenty minutes. And therein lies my key piece of advice: Don’t go in with more than one basket of clothes, and make sure it looks nice. It seems to me that the more I come in with, the less it ends up being worth. Not sure why that is, but there you go.
  • Garage sale: I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but I think we’re going to have another garage sale. Talk about an experience becoming progressively less lucrative: At our first one, we brought in about $80. A sweet haul for two hours! Next time, our take was $5. O…kay. At the last one? Not one slim dime. Zero dollars. And…we were done. That was two years ago, though, and it’s time to clean out the garage anyway, so why not?
  • Staples Ink/Toner Recycling: If you sign up for Staples Rewards program, you can earn Rewards dollars by turning in your used printer ink cartridges. These rewards come in handy, especially around school supply sale time. They also have some good rebates from time to time that are super easy to redeem online; I always like that!
  • : Here’s another one where you can make a little change from something you are already doing. In this case, you create an Ebates account [and feel free to click on the link I provided over there which also happens to be embedded with my referral link, thankyouverymuchagain!]. Then, whenever you’re shopping for something online, check their database to see if that particular site has a rebate offer. If so, follow the link to the site and shop as usual. The rebates are applied to your account, and paid out quarterly. It’s definitely not a speedy thing, but couldn’t be easier. You definitely want to exercise some restraint, here, as you may find yourself tempted to just shop away since you’re “making money”. Let’s not fool ourselves, friends. But if you’re like me, and have a crazy shoe size that usually requires some online shopping anyway, it comes in handy. Loved it at Christmas time, too.

Do you have any other favorite money-making tips? If so, please share!

**Swagbucks is having a promotion today where you can receive a bonus 70 Swagbucks (in addition to the standard 30) by entering the code “SummerSocial” upon enrollment.


Double Time!

The baby showers are coming fast and furious now. Last week, there was one honoring two moms at once — very efficient!

One is expecting a girl:


The other, a boy:


After making the first half-dozen sets of bibs one way, I was in the mood to switch it up a little. The ones for “him” were made using this pattern. They were so much fun to make that I got all glazed-eyed and almost went into the “must make 100 more…” trance, but snapped out of it when I realized that there were more pressing matters.


Like preparing the gifts for exit. I always forget that part til the last minute; bad habit that I’m trying to break.

We have another shower this weekend, and this time my friends and I are hosting! Everything’s moving right along…but I haven’t finished that gift yet.


It’s almost done, though. The thing is, it should’ve been done days ago, but I just kind of lost steam. But today’s the day!


And Then I Actually Used It

The bias tape, that is, and I didn’t even wait a year to do so.


Ms. Fancy is on quite the skirt kick lately, so I managed to crank out a couple last week. Well, not so — I managed to finally finish a couple last week, but they’ve been on the back burner (already cut, in the case of one) for a looong time. I use this tutorial for the double-tiered skirt and love it; it’s very simple. The Tutti Frutti line at Joann Fabrics [which I guess are just available in the store, because I’m not finding them online] are great for these; just the right weight.


Here’s just a little side note: I think that I cut corners a little bit when attaching the pink binding [above], and didn’t press it into place before attaching it to the back. As a result, this one looks a little…puffier. You might be able to get away with doing that and not have the same results, but I’ll be pressing from now on.

Not that it matters that much. She’s worn the skirt three times already in the past week, which shouldn’t be too surprising since she goes through three outfits a day. In fact, she’s wearing that chicken skirt right now. It’s not the one she was wearing at breakfast.

Clearly, I need to get back to work.

But Wait! There’s More

Follow me back over to Heather’s for more quick-fix wrapping ideas for  your tasty treats!

Next week, I plan on returning with lots of good stuff. Namely, all that which has completely sucked up November.

Because it’s over — you know that right? That November’s over? Well, it’s as good as true.

Here’s wishing a happy, lovely Thanksgiving to you and yours!!


Psst! Over Here

I’m popping in over at  Heather’s {PRESENT}ing Party today! Join us, won’t you?

[And be sure to check out the previous week’s posts in case you’ve missed any — so many fun ideas! Thanks for hosting, Heather!]

Like the Elf of the Shelf, But Better

Happy Halloween!


It’s a Tradition

My family (the one in which I grew up, rather than the one living in this house) has a peculiar tendency to turn absolutely anything that you do one time into a “tradition”. It kind of gets on my nerves, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not guilty of it myself from time to time. That is, after all, how school conference day magically morphed into our Annual Halloween Decoration Party (which amounts to my sister and I tagging each other in while one goes to their conference, and the other entertains the kiddos.)

This year, we:

And, since I know this group, we also added the last-minute addition of:

  • paper plate and fun foam pictures! Yes, you, too, can create beautiful art using only fun foam, crayons, a glue stick, and a paper plate. Feeling really crafty? Punch a hole in the top and add a yarn “hanger”. Ta-da!

All that crafting (and the less-than-an-hour it took to complete) can leave a kid pretty hungry, so we feasted on Pimento Cheese and Pumpernickel Bats, Ham Ghosts [can’t remember where I found this idea; it’s just a ham sandwich cut in the shape of a ghost), chips, and grapes. We were supposed to have a cool Shirley Temple-like drink, but “someone” was too lazy to find the proper recipe, and that “someone” made the extra special ice cubes all wrong [hint: grenadine will never freeze!], so we just had regular Shirley Temples. For all anyone cared.

Top it off with a special showing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! and you have the makings of a fun morning with the six and under crowd!

Not pictured: The mummy and pumpkin cake pops,  and funny parrot glasses/ masks. Because I did not make them. Awesomeness is overrated!

Happy School Year!

Technically, we are already three weeks into the school year. It still feels rather new, though, even as it starts galloping away.* Homework arguments (which have so far been fairly low-key, thankfully), rushing out the door in the mornings, and — of course — AWANA Wednesdays are back on the docket. Ahhh, Wednesdays. Even with a solid plan in place, we still can barely manage to get out the door in time. In theory, it should be fairly straightforward, but something always falls apart along the way. But we will prevail!

Add soccer season, back to back Precept studies for me, and the discovery of a new [to me] online language-learning website  through our local library, and we  have the makings of a very busy and exciting September.

[So much so that I keep thinking the month is almost over, even though today is only the 8th; might need a minute to slow down and re-group.]


*Yes, galloping away — not unlike the first day of school itself, where I was so excited to actually get out on time that I completely forgot to take the all-important picture. Doh!! Well, nothing that couldn’t be remedied when he got home, right?

From Our Home to Yours

Our Kind of Holiday


Happy Pi Day!

[We’re celebrating with apple.]