Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Weeks

As of Saturday I have been pregnant for 31 weeks!  It's a little hard to believe that it has been so long, time is just flying by.  Saturday was spent hanging out with Steve, and we had such a good day!  It was his first Saturday off in a while, and it was so nice to have him home two days in a row, especially since Sunday was so busy.

Sunday we woke up to snow, which was so exciting!  It was actually kind of funny; Steve had been awake for a few minutes and I was just opening my eyes.  Then I remembered it was maternity pictures day, and I sat up really fast and asked Steve, "did it snow?"  He sat up and looked out the window on his side of the bed and said, "It did!".  I did not believe him at first and climbed over him to look out the window.  When I saw the snow with my own eyes I was so excited.  It had finally snowed!  And it was in the 20's, so this wasn't a dirty, ugly, slushy snow, it was a soft dusting of sparkly, beautiful snow.

We got up and headed to breakfast with Steve's dad and step mom at Middle Way Cafe.  I got multi-grain pancakes with real maple syrup and fresh fruit, and it was so delicious!  I LOVE their pancakes, they are the multi-grain/vegan pancakes I've ever had.  It was great to catch up with Rick and Dorle, who run a kayak tour company, A Seaside Adventure, out of their cabin in Little Tutka Bay, which is across the bay from Homer.  Steve's dad and mom built the cabin when Steve was just a baby, and various family has lived over there running the business ever since.  They are so busy in the summer (as is Steve) that they don't really get away from Homer at all, and we only got down to see them at the beginning of the summer for Memorial Day in May.  They were so excited to get to see my baby bump in person :)

Here's a blurry iPhone picture of us at breakfast
We headed home to shower up and get beautiful for our maternity photo shoot, then headed over to Kincaid Park to meet our photographer (and long, longtime friend) Mitch Kitter for the pictures.  Beau wore his Christmas Sweater for the occasion and was very excited to be included in some of the pictures.  It was so fun and I cannot wait to see all the pictures.  I posted a link to some teasers from the shoot earlier today, so you can go check them out if you haven't already.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and a great October!  And I guess I should add Happy Halloween! for all of you who like to dress up and celebrate this holiday.  I'm not really into dressing up, but I love seeing my nephews dressed up and seeing all the decorated pumpkins and such.

Maternity Picture Teasers!

Here is a link to our Maternity Picture Teasers:

We woke up to a beautiful, clean dusting of snow, and I was instantly excited about the prospects of our maternity pictures having snow in them.  I was hoping it would snow in time for us to get them done, but knew it was a long shot.  God really answered my prayers, because not only did it snow, it stayed cold enough for the day and didn't get windy so the snow just dusted every surface and stayed there the entire day.  No dirty, slushy mess, it was truly a beautiful day and perfect for getting our pictures done.  We met Mitch from Propaganda out at Kincaid Park and got started.  I can't wait to see more of the pictures, and have to give a huge shoutout to my longtime friend Mitch for always being so amazing.  We love you Mitch!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nursery Decorations!

Last week I received the prints and number cards I ordered off of Etsy but unfortunately I wasn't at home to get them all set up so I've had to wait.  Plus I had to go pick out frames for the prints, which I finally did yesterday.  I spent all morning holed away in his room getting things set up, and it's finally done!  I'm so happy with how everything turned out, what do you all think?

view of his little dresser and crib
the cards are from InkTreePress

larger view of the prints - I love them!
they are from ohhellodear

New Sled and a Moose Parade

This has been a busy week.  Steve finally found the perfect deal he was looking for and purchased another snowmachine.  I've been busing moving us back into our home and getting baby's room even more ready for him to get here (more on that later).  Plus last night I went to Fiddler on the Roof with my mom and older sister, Kelsey.  We had a blast!  We went to dinner at a fancy restaurant, Saks Cafe, then walked over to the Performing Arts Center for the show.  I wish now that I would have gotten a picture of us all dressed up and enjoying the evening, but alas, I did not.

Steve excited about his new sled:
2010 Polaris Assault 800

30w and 3d pregnant, blocking part of Steve's new toy with my big belly

Steve and I were out in the yard, putting the cover on his new sled.
We heard some crunching and looked over to see this moose staring at us
as it walked by...

Then we hear more crunching, and see that there are actually three (3!) moose
in our yard.  They walked slowly up the hill, stopping to watch us every few
steps or so.

Goodbye moose!
This is one of the reasons I love winter at my house, the moose just love our
little circle for some reason!  I just have to be careful not to let Beau run out
into the yard without checking for big ol' moose first.  
Hope you all had a great week, I am just amazed again at how fast time is flying by.  Next week is November!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

All 4 Kids - a Review

All 4 Kids - Old Seward Highway

Out of all of the second hand clothing stores in Anchorage that I've reviewed, this store is unfortunately my least favorite.  The store is poorly merchandised, and has a little bit of an odd smell (probably from the previous tenant).  There aren't prices on most of the items, which can make browsing a little frustrating.  Many of the clothes are pretty outdated and well worn, and a lot of the toys just seem junky to me.

But on the positive side, the prices are definitely the lowest of any of the other stores, and there is a wonderful book selection.  Like the rest of the store, the book section is pretty poorly organized, but it is enjoyable to look through the wide selection.

I had a little luck finding some cute clothing items, but felt like I was very lucky.  Here are some of the items I found:

BabyGap sleeper

BabyGap newborn pants

Izod (?) overalls

Value Village Purchases

I promised I would add some pictures of items I've purchased at Value Village and the prices I purchased them for.  I finally was able to go home and get the pictures off my computer, so now I will share them with you!

Splendid for Target one piece outfit
(Splendid is a designer brand usually sold at places like Nordstrom and boutiques.
Each season Target has a different designer design clothing for them)

Oshkosh button up

Gymboree overalls, brand new condition

so cute - I love each series with the little stuffed animal in the pocket :)

Old Navy Sweater vest
As you can see, if you look hard enough, there are always super cute, very affordable things to be found there!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

wordless wednesday (one day late)

(okay there are some words, but they're in the picture!  just a little something to think about)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Christmas Crafts

I just scored this book on eBay and am so excited for it to get here!  It has two of my most favorite things, gnomes and Christmas!   It has step-by-step instructions with patterns and diagrams for more than 50 gnome inspired Christmas decorations and crafts.  Can't wait to start crafting!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

something to make you laugh

a friend shared this on facebook.
I laughed for like 10 minutes.
for some reason it reminds me of gnomes,
so I kind of like it :)

Yogurt Lounge

Steve and I have a new obsession; a little shop in South Anchorage called Yogurt Lounge.  We really like Yogurt Land, and were impressed with how much better the prices were for what you get than Coldstone.  But, it's in the airport, so dealing with the entire parking situation is pretty annoying.

So this weekend when we got done at the gym (the Alaska Club South is right next door), we decided to head over and try the copy cat store, Yogurt Lounge.  It was amazing! So nice and clean inside, lots of great flavors and toppings, and cheap, cheap, cheap!  Literally half the price of Yogurt Land.  So if you live in Anchorage and have a chance, you should definitely stop by.

the yogurt selection

the counter and toppings...
I wish I would have gotten a picture of the seating, because there is plenty and it's really nice and clean, but I didn't want to be a creeper lol.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nearly 29 Weeks!

Tomorrow I will be 29 weeks pregnant! I can't really believe it.  Time is flying by even faster now that it's fall and I'm in holiday excitement mode.  Plus there is so much going on over the next two and a half months that I don't know how time couldn't fly by.  Next Sunday I turn 25, then I have some baby showers a few weeks in a row, then it's Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, and then my baby will be here!  It's sort of scary, but in a totally exciting way.  I feel him moving so much during the day (and night) and I am so, so ready to meet him. 

feeling huge.  am I really going to get bigger?!

28w 6d
In other news, I had the worst scare yesterday.  I have been getting more and more sick of my heart monitor contraption being hooked to me at all times.  My skin is getting destroyed and is constantly sore, I am so sick of carrying another cell phone around at all times and charging it twice a day, and sleeping is bad enough without worrying about tangled cords and disconnected electrodes.  Needless to say I am pretty dang excited about only having about 10 days left of misery.

So when I received a phone call from Life Watch (the company monitoring the data that is being continuously recorded and sent away to a computer somewhere) calmly informing me that my account was never activated and they haven't been recording the information this entire time.  I had a breakdown.  I just started crying on the phone, and I mean really crying.  The poor lady was so taken aback by my tears, she just didn't know what to do.  I tried to explain to her that I'm 7 months pregnant and sleeping is hard enough and I just can't wear the monitor for another thirty days and that's why I'm crying, and she calmly tells me I just have to call my cardiologists office and talk to them about it.  She was very nice, but still couldn't do anything. 

So I call my cardiologists office, still crying mind you, and try hard to be coherent enough for the receptionist to understand what I'm saying.  I finally get put through to the nurse who got me set up with my monitor, and she assures me that she did in fact register the device, and that she will call Life Watch right away and make sure everything is sorted out.  I only had to wait a few minutes before she called me back and let me know that there was a mistake and they actually had been recording the information.  Which was obviously a big relief, but after hanging up the phone, I just sat back exhausted from such a rollercoaster of emotions. 

Luckily I revived myself and worked on shower planning with my sisters the rest of the day, and my mood improved greatly.  I can't believe that my baby shower is only four weeks away!  I am so excited to celebrate with friends and family.  I've always loved baby showers, and the fact that the next one I go to will be celebrating my baby is pretty surreal. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

free Christmas card templates

Rebecca from Simple as That has some free Christmas photo card templates on her blog that I wanted to share with you! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

nursery decorations and John Denver

So I purchased a few things for the nursery today on Etsy and I had to share.  Hope you love them as much as I do!  I can't wait to post some pics of them actually framed (if applicable) and in his room :)

Woodland Counting Wall Cards - 4x6 - Archival Giclee Art Cards
adorable woodland number cards to hang above the crib
by InkTreePress

Pinned Image
here's a perfect example of how they will look - pretty darn cute!
(and if they fall off the wall they won't do permanent damage,  like
a heavy picture frame.  I just kept thinking, earthquake, earthquake! 
even though so many of the nursery designs with heavy stuff above
the crib are so cute)

Grey Fox Prince 8x10 Archival Print Turquoise
here's one of three 8x10 prints I got for his walls
I love this one so much!
these are from Etsy:  ohhellodear's shop.

Favorite Story 8x10 Archival Print
here is the second one:  "favorite story"

Hullo 8x10 Archival Print
and here's the third one:  "hullo"
I'm in love and like I said can't wait to hang them.  Now I need to go find some pretty frames for them.  I think I'm either going to go antique store shopping or go to value village, get the frames and spray paint them the blues and yellows that I want. 

PS I just wanted to add a note remembering John Denver as it was 14 years ago today that he died at the age of 54 in a plane crash.  I love his music and wish I could have seen him in concert.  I've heard people make fun of him and his music more times than I care to remember, but I truly love the lyrics of his songs and his voice.  I've added one of my favorite photographs of him as well as one of his songs that's been stuck in my head lately and is one of many of my favorites.


So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter
the fear that is within you now that seems to never end
and the dreams that have escaped you and the hopes that you've forgotten
you tell me that you need me now, you want to be my friend
and you wonder where we're going, where's the rhyme, where's the reason
and it's you who cannot accept, it is here we must begin
to seek the wisdom of the children
and the graceful way of flowers in the wind

for the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers
their laughter and their lovliness could clear a cloudy day
like the music of the mountains and the colors of the rainbow
they're a promise of the future, and a blessing for today

though the cities start to crumble and the mountains fall around us
the sun is slowly fading and it's colder than the sea
it is written from the desert to the mountains they shall lead us
by the hand and by the heart, they will comfort you and me
in their innocence and trusting, they will teach us to be free

for the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers
their laughter and their lovliness would clear a cloudy day
and the song that I am singing is a prayer for non believers
come and stand beside us, we can find a better way.

Rhymes and Reasons
John Denver, 1969

frosty fall update

I have finally been feeling some braxton hicks contractions, at least I think that's what they are.  This entire pregnancy, I've felt like other pregnant ladies seem to know right away what they are feeling or going through, whereas for me it's not so clear.  For example, I think I've felt a little bit of heartburn here and there for the last couple of weeks, but I'm not sure.  It wasn't that bad, just a little bit of burning in my chest after eating in the evenings, but it goes away pretty quick.  Was that heartburn? 

It's the same thing with Braxton Hicks.  I'll start to feel pretty uncomfortable in the whole abdomen region, and I reach down to feel and my entire uterus feels pretty hard.  It lasts for what feels like a long time, but I'm sure it's only a minute or two at the most.  Was that a BH contraction? 

One thing I know for sure is that my little guy is always moving now!  He might not necessarily be kicking or punching, but he's definitely wiggling and rolling around in there!  When I'm moving around a bunch I might not notice the movements quite as much, but I look down at my belly and there are definitely movements going on!  I'm glad he moves so much, it is very reassuring and a great reminder that he's happy and healthy in there.  Every night when Steve and I get in bed, we love to just lay there and watch our baby move.  It's so exciting to think that in just 12 weeks (give or take) , he'll be moving and squirming on the outside! 

In other news, I've been having a lot of pretty annoying lower back/pelvic pain.  It just started about a week or two ago, and is sometimes much worse than others.  I wake up in the night to use the bathroom, and can't get back to sleep because of it!  Last night Steve just pushed on my lower back for like five minutes straight, and I was finally able to relax enough to get back to sleep, but it is always there in the background, this nagging ache.  I went swimming on Monday, and it was probably the best I've felt in a very long time.  I loved it!  Plus the Alaska Club South has a saltwater pool, so the water wasn't harsh or irritating to my wounds from my heart monitor stickies.

Which brings up a whole new can a worms - my heart monitor. Only 11 more days, but who is counting, right? I can't wait to not be getting tangled in cords every night and not have painful open wounds on my chest and ribcage from the sticky electrode pads. Did I mention they were sore and itchy all the time? Becuase of that I was a little nervous to go swimming (about how the water would affect the wounds) but I never even noticed a difference, so I'm excited to get back in the pool (hopefully right after I'm done with this blog post!)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven't been on my home computer and won't be for another week, so my access to picture editing software is pretty limited. I feel sad blogging without at least a picture or tow, so I thought I'd share some pictures from my phone. It's better than nothing, right?

Sunday we took Corbin to the park...

...he had a blast, as you can see :)

my pile of poodles
we're watching my parents two standard poodles,
with our little guy, it's oodles of poodles!

Monday, October 10, 2011

third trimester!

I cannot believe it but I'm already in my third trimester of pregnancy!  I'm feeling pretty good, but have started to notice a lot of lower back pain developing in the last week, which seems to be getting worse as he gets bigger.  Even though it is frustrating to deal with and hard to get relief from, it is also exciting because it means my little boy is growing bigger and getting ready to come out and meet us! 

I'll try and get a picture of my big ol' belly sometime this week, but for now here is some information about our little one at 28 weeks from Babycenter:
Chinese cabbage lol

By this week, your baby weighs two and a quarter pounds (like a Chinese cabbage) and measures 14.8 inches from the top of his head to his heels. He can blink his eyes, which now sport lashes. With his eyesight developing, he may be able to see the light that filters in through your womb. He's also developing billions of neurons in his brain and adding more body fat in preparation for life in the outside world.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I know, I know

I am not able to access my computer right now, so my final installation in the Used Clothing Store Series has been delayed until I get access again.  So sorry about that!  In the mean time, I came across a great blog post about Do-It-Yourself Christmas Gift ideas, and thought I'd share it with you all.  I know it might seem like it's a little early, but if you want to make homemade gifts, you have to start soon! 

PS - some of the ideas have links in their text; I couldn't get it to copy so you'll have to head over to the original blog post here for them.  Sorry about that!

A Do-It-Yourself Christmas: 34 Great Homemade Gifts You Can Make

Thursday, 13th November 2008 (by J.D. Roth)
Last month, I asked readers to share their favorite frugal Christmas ideas. You responded with over a hundred fantastic tips. One common theme for saving money and adding meaning during the holiday season was to make gifts yourself.

My wife and I are lucky to have many crafty friends. Every year, I’m delighted to see what they create for the holiday season. I drew on our own experience, pulled some of your best tips from the past, and scoured the web for new ideas, in order to produce the following mammoth list of do-it-yourself Christmas gifts. But remember: in order to complete many of these, you need to get started soon. Also follow our Facebook page for money-saving tips and advice year-round. Enjoy!

1.Almost everyone loves homemade truffles, says Mo. “My husband and I made them last year, and they were a big hit. I had no idea how easy to make they were, and we covered them with different kinds of crushed nuts and such. It was really fun! We then went and bought blank little white boxes and I decorated them with just some wrapping paper (glued) and ribbon. I think all together, we made about 15 boxes of truffles (9 truffles each box) for under $30. And we used good chocolate to boot!” Upside? Yum! Downside? They should be made only a short time before giving, and eaten soon after. If you’ve never made truffles before, try this recipe from Alton Brown.

2.JM has a great suggestion, one that many of you may have already seen: “[My mom] gives some people unbaked, made-from-scratch cookie kits. Basically she gets most of the dry ingredients to her favorite cookie recipes together, along with a mason jar, a note card, and some ‘country’ style ribbons. She then layers all the dry ingredients in the mason jar, screws on the lid and prints the recipe on the notecard in an old-fashiony looking font, and then ties it to the jar with the ribbon. The result is cool looking, because the ingredients are layered in the jar.”

3.Create a secret hollow book. Find a cheap musty old classic at your nearby Goodwill or used bookstore. Glue the pages together, use an X-Acto knife to hollow out the center of the book. Now the recipient can store his treasures!

4.Martha Stewart has a great idea: create a recipe booklet containing a collection of your favorite holiday recipes, and then include it with a small assortment of samples. “Pass your culinary traditions on to your friends.”

5.Live in a cold climate? Give your friends the gift of warmth with a homemade hand warmer. If you know how to make a beanbag, you know how to make a hand warmer. Use wool or cashmere or felt material, but instead of filling the bags with beans, fill them with ceramic pie weights. To use these toasty treasures, simply microwave them for a couple of minutes and then slip them in your pockets.

6.It’s difficult to go wrong with themed gift baskets. Did you can your own pasta sauce over the summer? Use a colander for a basket, add some garlic bulbs, gourmet noodles, and a wooden spoon — a little taste of Italy. Or consider a breakfast basket. Or a breakfast basket (syrup and pancake mix), a movie basket (popcorn, candy, and a movie rental coupon), or a gardening basket (a trowel, a gardening hat, and some packets of seeds).

7.If you’re artistic, GRS-reader Beck suggests giving memory drawings: “Draw a very simple black-and-white picture of a memory that you have of you and the person (e.g. me and my dad playing NES back in the day). This could be a very simple (think Shel Silverstein) drawing. Frame it and gift. The great thing about this (besides being cheap) is that you can give it multiple times to the same person. They will have a growing collection of ‘memory drawings’ from you.” Beck reports this gift is very well received by family members.

8.Elizabeth has another artistic idea, one that was very popular with readers when she suggested it: “I’m a graphic designer, so this year I’m creating a booklet that Photoshops my 6-year-old nephew onto cheap stock photos of world landmarks, such as the Great Wall, so it looks like he’s traveled the world.” This home-made travel brochure is perfect for adventurous young minds. (Come to think of it, I think one of those would be fun for me — and I’m no longer young…)

9.Give the gift of experience. The Gift Weblog suggests, “There’s nothing like giving someone the gift of experience, it is something they will always remember.” Sample gifts of experience: sky diving, scuba lessons, hot-air balloon rides, cooking school, lunch with a hero, etc.

10.What could be cuter than a stuffed pig? This project from Martha Stewart allows those who are handy with needlework to assemble an adorable, docile pet from felted wool, a pipe cleaner, and some cotton or polyester fill. (Crafty Daisies has instructions for making a felt penguin, and Expert Village has a video series demonstrating how to make stuffed animals.)

11.Build a gingerbread house. Or ten. Give them to the little kids (and the big kids) in your life. Lifehacker diva Gina Trapani has a photoset demonstrating how she put together a gingerbread house from a kit. If you bake, you can certainly build a better house from scratch. Your nieces and nephews will thank you. (And so will your brother-in-law!)

12.In the GRS discussion forums, Brad suggested giving the gift of time or skill. Brad has given music lessons. He has colleagues who have given bike tune-ups and wine advice. What skills do you have? Can you help somebody set up a blog? Plant a garden? Learn to change the oil in their car?

13.Every year, Kris looks forward to the gift from my cousin Nick. He makes her a batch of home-made almond roca. I can’t stand the stuff, but Kris eats it up. She’s in heaven for days afterward! Here’s one recipe.

14.One Christmas when I was a poor college student, I leafed through children’s books at the library, looking for pages and pictures that reminded me of various friends. I photocopied these pages, colored them by hand, and then framed them with construction paper. I added a little note to each friend on the back of her piece. I spent maybe $10 total for all my gifts, though it took hours of my time. That was perfect: In college, I had plenty of time, but very little money, and making these things felt like an act of love. But giving somebody a CD I bought from Amazon? Not so much.

15.At AskMetafilter, LadyBonita suggests making personalized calendars: “You can buy calendar blanks or use a template from a program; add pictures of things or people meaningful to the recipient; add in important dates (birthdays and anniversaries of family & friends); and maybe a special note or quote every once in a while. For parents/students you can add in the school schedule; for homeowners you can add in a home maintenance schedule; etc. for sports fans, astrology followers, on & on. To make them extra special I sometimes add little treats – a couple dollars taped to a summer date for an ice-cream treat; a coupon for free babysitting on a weekend; video & popcorn night, etc.”

16.Here’s another great idea from Martha Stewart: create one of several dime-store games. My grandparents had several of these modest toys when I was a boy, and they could keep me entertained for hours. The Martha Stewart site has instructions for creating six different games, toys, and puzzles.

17.Sick of all my Martha Stewart links? Me too. Head on over to Not Martha to learn how to make stuff, including these marble magnets. You can pick up all of the supplies at your local craft store, and are reportedly fun to make. They look fun to make — I’m tempted to do these myself. (And though I couldn’t give them as Christmas gifts, I ♥ these cups made out of bacon.)

18.Stephanie is an artist, and to those who appreciate hand-made gifts (not everyone does), she likes to give small paintings or or personalized gifts of art. Here’s an idea from another reader: “All the adults in my family are great cooks. Last year I made functional pottery serving bowls & utensil holders. I placed them in a basket with colorful, but inexpensive kitchen cloths, a nice set of teak utensils (purchased a set at Walmart for the cost of one at Pampered Chef), & a grocery gift card.” Do you dabble in photography? A framed print of your nephew might be the perfect gift for your sister-in-law.

19.One Christmas, our friend “Santa” Craig handed out a gourmet salt assortment. It wasn’t because we’d been bad, but because we love great food. Buy large containers of a variety of unique salts (you may have to visit a gourmet food store), and then divide the salts into small ziploc bags. Be sure to label the bags to to include a bit of info about each variety. (You can create similar gifts with other items, of course, tea leaves or…)

20.Similarly, you might create a spice sampler. Bulk spices can make an affordable and appreciated gift for anyone who loves to cook, or who is moving into a new kitchen. Don’t know which ones to choose? Find some tempting recipes that call for exotic spices, then include the recipes with the spices. Or, get creative and make a custom spice blend for a meat rub, marinade mix, salad dressing kit, dip, or seasoning (search the web for ideas).

21.My favorite past GRS reader suggestion comes from Amberlynn, who wrote: “We are now writing a chapter of our family history each year. We’ll pick a topic, and each family member will write about it. One person plays ‘editor’, collecting the stories, and presents them all together for Christmas. We’ve written about our favorite Christmas (seven differing perspectives on the same year), the house we grew up in, and this year we’re writing about how we met our spouse. Last year, my Mom sent out her first draft of her entire life history. This gift costs nothing, unless you choose to make fancy copies or books. It does take a little time if you want to contribute quality. It will, however, carry a lasting value unmatched by any tangible gifts we’ve exchanged, or even experiential gifts!”

22.One winter, my wife made felt-backed tile trivets. You can find lots of beautiful tile designs at the home-improvement store. Sometimes the end of a lot can be had at a deep discount. Using a hot-glue gun, add a layer of felt to the back of a 6×6″ (or larger) tile, and you have a useful trivet for bringing a hot dish to the table. If you drink a lot of wine, you might consider creating cork trivets.

23.Here’s an idea from Tanya: “This year [my sister and I] are making personalized mirrors with one word affirmations, like ‘fabulous’ and ‘gorgeous’. We started by picking up a bunch of the smallish (8×8) mirrors from Ikea, I think they are $5-6 for a four pack. My sister is obsessed with fonts, so we had some fun searching for fonts that fit the word we are going to use and the receiver of the mirror. We printed out the words to make stencils that we could cut out on contact paper. We used some glass etching glaze, left over from a candle holder project a few years ago, to etch the words on the mirrors. We added some cheap rhinestones to glitz up the mirrors for the girls and added a masculine etched pattern for the boys. We finished them off by attaching ribbon and twine so that they could be hung easily. I really like that we are giving them a reason to smile at themselves everyday when they leave for work or school.”

24.For several years, my wife and I gave each other love coupons. Sounds sappy, I know. But it was nice to be able to come home at the end of the day and redeem a coupon for a dinner out, or for a back rub, or for an evening watching a favorite movie.

25.In last month’s discussion about frugal Christmas traditions, Cobblestone offered a great idea: “For my cash hungry nephews and niece I make sure to do something creative to get the money. This year is going to be a family trivia game with questions that make them talk to other family members. It is much more interesting than a $20 bill.” Of course, it’s also possible to do this without the monetary reward.

26.Genevieve makes her own stationery sets to give to friends. She writes: “I make envelopes out of pretty magazine ads and then pair them with nice stationary paper that you can get cheaply by the pound from any stationary or craft store. It is a great way to recycle magazines and the resulting stationary sets have been a real hit with my friends. If the gift calls for a little extra just pair a set with an address book or a nice pen.”

27.Kris likes to make homemade granola year-round, but it would make a perfect Christmas gift, too. Low-cost basic ingredients turn into toasted goodness and don’t require a fancy kitchen. Granola blends can be easily customized to your tastes with add-ins like raisins, nuts, cinnamon, dried cranberries or cherries, sunflowers seeds, coconut, wheat germ, etc. Begin with a couple of mini-batches to fiddle with it to your taste. (Start with this almond maple granola. Stretch your budget even more by omitting the coconut and adding three more cups of old-fashioned rolled oats.)

28.Here’s another gift my wife has made in the past: teacup candles! You’ll need craft-store wicks, wax (or old candles) that can be melted down, old teacups, and maybe a fragrance or two. Pretty single teacups (with or without saucers) can often be found at thrift stores for less than a dollar. Melt the wax in a double boiler, add fragrance if desired, then support the wick standing in the teacup while carefully filling the cup with wax. As the wax cools, it will contract and form a well. You can add more melted wax of the same color or add a second shade. These are fairly easy to make, but beware cups with obvious cracking; the hot wax may cause them to shatter.

29.Knip has a fantastic idea for a grandparent or other older relative: a memory jar. “The most wonderful gift I’ve ever given (it’s still talked about years later) cost me almost nothing. I spent a few months contacting friends and family members and asked them to send me memories and old pictures of my grandfather. Then I wrote one memory (or printed one picture)on each of 365 business card sized pieces of cardstock. I folded each in half and secured it with a bit of tape, then placed them all in a big jar I decorated. Every morning for the next year, my grandfather would take out a paper, open it, and see what other people cherished in him. He loved it.”

30.Ayelet has a gift idea that’s after my own heart: “I’m really excited about my holiday gift to my fiance (will be married by the holidays)this year. We love to cook together so I’m going to sit down with him and create our first family cookbook. It’ll be something we can update as we add more recipes. This would be a good one for a big family…get everyone together for a recipe day (could be some cooking involved) and then print and bind the recipes somehow for all to have. Good for a HS senior or college student, too.”

31.Personal gift certificates also make great gifts. In essence, these are gifts of time. Give new parents a gift certificate for a night of baby-sitting so that they can enjoy a night on the town. Are you good with computers? Give your brother-in-law a gift certificate for free computer repairs.

32.Leanne has an idea that might be useful for college students looking for gifts on a budget. “I have a friend…who compiles a mixed CD every year and mails them out to all his friends. It serves as a holiday card, gift, and moment of reconnection (we get a sense of how his year has been/things he’s been dealing with or excited about based on the music he chooses) plus we get introduced to new music we might not have picked up ourselves.”

33.Fred Bloggs has a unique idea. He gives his friends joke boxes. These are “mostly gleanings from charity/thrift shops, picked up through the year when I see something particularly ugly or particularly good for a silly theme, and wrapped, because they don’t have to pretend to be expensive, in last year’s paper. Or sometimes one can make the jokes almost from scratch: things like knitty’s knitted womb, or my friend’s idea of a ‘rock concert’ — painted stones glued onto a ground with musical notes and dyed cotton bud mikes, that kind of thing. Someone else I know comes up with comic verses, and a token gift to illustrate the verse. Laughter’s a cheap gift, and a good one.”

34.You can make more than gifts. Kayla says she makes her own greeting cards: “Making your own cards is a great money-saver. I’ve been doing this for the past year. I’m a scrapbooker already (which I know can be a huge money-waster, but I try to be frugal about it). I buy boxes of 50 assorted bright-color cards at Michael’s for around $7. Then I use my leftover paper scraps and stickers to decorate them. I enjoy doing it, and everyone gets a very personalized card. I’d estimate my cards cost about 50 cents each (or less), so I’m saving at least $2 per card, usually more.” (Copperivy suggests you can make your own Christmas ornaments, too.)

And as a bonus idea – for something that can mean a lot for a child in the long run, there’s always the idea of opening an online savings account, with a little bit of cash, so that they can learn the lesson of saving early. Hopefully it’s a lesson that will last for a lifetime.

Friday, October 7, 2011


this cracked me up, I had to share.  SO true :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kid to Kid - a review

Kid to Kid - Anchorage location

Kid to Kid is probably my favorite used clothing store for children.  I love the way the store is organized, and I think their prices are the most reasonable in town.  New with this post are pictures of things I've found at Kid to Kid with accompanying prices (at the bottom of the post).

My favorite things:

1.  Organization & Layout:  The store is organized very well, and I always see the gals who work there scurrying around the store tidying up after messy shoppers.  A few areas I love that are easy to overlook:

    • the onesie bin:  they have a big bin of onesies near the infant clothing full of boys and girls onesies for only 50 cents each.  I love this bin!  I always find good stuff in there, and it's a great resource since onesies get the most wear and tear of practically any item of baby clothing.  You can't find onesies in town for less than 50 cents each, so they win the prize for price here.  Lowest price I've seen at VV is 99 cents, same with Once Upon a Child.  
    • the sock bin:  this is the first "area" I go to whenever I shop here.  Simply put, all the socks in the bin are four for 99 cents.  And let me tell you, they aren't dirty, stretched out old socks.  They are cute socks in all sizes!  Nearly all of the socks I've gotten for Riggs thus far are from the sock bin at Kid to Kid. 
    • shoe wall:  The first couple of times I shopped at Kid to Kid, I managed to ignore the shoe wall.  I don't know how, I just never noticed it.  In my defense, it is sort of tucked into a back corner of the store.  I was missing out!  Nearly every time I've gone since I noticed the shoe wall, I find at least a pair of adorable barely used shoes (even for boys!).  
2.  Prices and Trade-in:  Like I mentioned before, the prices at Kid to Kid are very reasonable.  Most items are about $2.99 to $7.99 (this includes outfits).  They also give pretty good credit for items customers bring in, and are always very nice and honest about why they couldn't take certain items.  Plus they have a frequent shopper card - "Earn one stamp for every $10 spent.  Redeem the full card on your next visit for 20% off your entire purchase!"

3.  Technology:  One thing I especially love about Kid to Kid is their utilization of technology.  They have both an active webpage and a very active facebook page.  Their webpage gives up to date information about what items they could especially use in the store, and their facebook page is constantly being updated with new items they get in, and is also a great place for asking question since they are on so regularly.  

Problem areas:

1.  Stock:  Compared to Once Upon a Child, the selection of clothing at Kid to Kid can seem a little sparse.    For some of you, this might be a problem.  But for me, it just makes it that much easier and faster of a trip!  Their inventory is also moving much faster because of this, and so nearly every time I go I find a few things in each size that I like or would purchase.  But, if you are looking for a specific item, this might be a problem for you from time to time.  
2.  Size:  The size of the store is on the small size and can feel sort of cramped from time to time.  Luckily, they combat this issue by keeping everything very well organized and having no heaping piles of "stuff" all around the store.  But it can be frustrating if there are a lot of customers shopping, especially with kids. They do manage to squeeze an enclosed play area into the store, which makes shopping there even more convenient for moms with kids in tow.  

Here are pictures of items I've purchased at Kid to Kid and their prices:

from the sock bin at Kid to Kid - 4 for 99 cents

Smartwool, Baby Gap, Gymboree - all for about 25 cents each!
Smartwool booties for $5.99
dress outfit - size 6 - 12 months
shirt:  Children's Place $3.99
vest:  Baby Gap $2.99
pants:  Ralph Lauren $3.99
total:  $10.97


I am on the Pinterest waiting list and in the mean time have been looking at other people's pinned items and holy cow, there are so many good ideas!  Pinterest is sort of like an online version of what I've been doing for years with cutouts from magazines and newspapers that I've read.  Since about 9th grade I've kept "idea journals" where I keep all the special little pictures and ideas I've seen in print without having to keep the entire magazine.  So I am all for an online, more streamlined version of this!  I decided to share some of my favorite ideas with you guys here while I'm waiting on having a Pinterest page...oh and if anyone knows a quicker way to get a page, please comment or email me!!!

Clear, zipper, baggie, storage, organize, label, declutter
best idea ever:  "grab bags" to keep fully stocked in the car at all times

Pinned Image
Busy Bags:  best idea ever.  there are a few mom blogs out there that have
hundreds of ideas for these, I have made this picture into a link for my favorite site. 

Pinned Image
this one I need to remember for December:  10 pictures to take on baby's first day

Pinned Image
alternative advent:  wrap up Christmas books you already own
(or add in a few new ones each year) with a Bible verse.  let the kids
pick one to be read each night for the first 24 days in December.  

Pinned Image
yummy looking breakfast idea:  savory breakfast cupcakes

amazing mom-blog that has lots of free, downloadable
packets for "mommy school" - so cute and thrifty!

Okay I think that has to be it for now, otherwise this blog post might never end.  I'll share a link AS SOON as I get my own Pinterest page, and then you can see all the ideas I love there. xoxo.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Once Upon a Child - a review

Once Upon a Child - Anchorage location
  1. As I mentioned yesterday, my biggest issue with Once Upon a Child is their prices.  Some things are just ridiculously priced.  Gymboree outfits can run anywhere from $8.99 to $19.99.  While I know that this is still a good value considering the original price, it is just too much for me to pay for a onesie and a pair of pants, regardless of how cute it is.  Especially when over at Kid to Kid, you can get the same type of outfit from Gyboree for a lot less.  There are still good deals to be found here however, and there is plenty of stock to search through in order to find that good deal.  There are sales here (seasonably, I believe) and they make it especially worthwhile to stop by.  
  2. This store is a smart place to go if you are looking for something specific to complete an outfit - as they have so many items you're almost sure to find that one obscure item you are looking for used, such as a knit vest for a boy or a cardigan for a girl in a certain size.  They also don't seem to price anything over $20 (although a lot comes pretty close) and $20 is still a good price (in my opinion) to pay for things like barely worn REI or Patagonia snowsuits and the like.  One of my best finds at Once Upon a Child was two sets of Patagonia long underwear in different infant sizes for only $15 (included the thermal top and bottom).  These same items cost $50 a set across the street at REI.   
    Here's a picture of one of the sets, you can see they are in brand new condition.
  3. Finally, in regards to trade in, they are very conservative in how much cash value they will give you for used items.  Clothing is probably never credited for more than a $1 per item, ever.  Big items are also pretty stingy, especially if they have a lot in stock at the time.  I saw a mom bringing in two swings, a bouncer, a bathtub and a bag full of clothes and she was offered $23 cash.  Toys are given pretty OK credit for, especially if it is a barely used item that is in high demand.  I assume the only things you can get a fair amount in cash or credit for are items very high in demand.  Because of this, I don't bother taking time to bring things by, especially clothing.  Another reason I don't like to sell items to Once Upon a Child is because of the attitude of the people looking through it and the organization (or really lack of it) at the counter.  I can't tell you the amount of times I've hear people complain about the customer service at Once Upon a Child.  I have friends who have brought nearly brand new outgrown items there to sell, and rather than tell the truth (we have too many clothes in that size and can't take yours sorry) they say things like, "The clothes were too out of date" or "Many of the items were stained".  Not only can this be embarrassing for some, it's very frustrating since you know the items are perfectly good and you or somebody else probably paid good money for them.  As you'll read tomorrow, I prefer to sell things only to Kid to Kid.    

Once again, I still enjoy shopping there enough to return, and think they do a pretty good job keeping up their stock levels in all infant sizes.  I don't know as much about older children (over 4T), but it seems like all of the shelves are always full.  Bottom Line:  Definitely stop in now and again, and especially during sales, but only bring things by to sell if you are ready to be disappointed with how much they will give you for them.