Thursday, November 11, 2010

DIY on the Fly: Easy Fixes for Household Problems

Everyone's got problems. It's a fact of life. Some problems are big, others are small, and when they are all put together they could drive you plum crazy. Fixing some of those annoying little things that have been irritating you might just take the edge off. Maybe you've heard of some of the household fixes maybe you haven't. But I swear by every one of them.

Stinky fridge: Put a small bowl of dry coffee grounds in the back of the refrigerator and it will neutralize that pesky mystery smell.

Clumpy salt shaker: Add a tablespoon of rice to the shaker. The rice will absorb excess moisture, making for smooth shaking.

Dirty dishwasher leaving spots: Add a packet of lemonade koolaid (no sugar) to the detergent cup and run an empty cycle. (No dishes.) This will remove buildup and fend off those spots for a while.

Stubborn zippers: Rub the zipper teeth with a bar of soap or a candle. It will allow the zipper to glide.

Scuffs on White sneakers or shoes: Rub of scuffs with a Mr. Clean magic eraser.

Small Bleach Spots: Find a matching color prismacolor marker (the come in every color). Dab the spot with the marker let set at least 5 minutes. Launder item. Repeat it necessary.

Musty Vintage Books: Slip a few used dryer sheets between the pages. Leave in for a week.

Small scratches and nicks on wood: Matching wood markers rubbed onto the scratch and then buffed with a cloth. Matching crayons, heat up the scratch with a blow dryer on low, rub the scratch with matching crayon and buff with a cloth.

Bored, whiny children: According to this advertisement, this pesky problem can be solved with a couple of paper bags.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Learning to Sew is Smart

Remove home economics classes from school? Heck no! They are teaching valuable skills that our youngsters can use through out their lives. Still today, friends of mine who attended the same school as I did talk about that funny old duffel bag we made in Home EC. Every kid used that bag to tote their gym clothes to class. I still use techniques I learned in that class today.
But besides oddly shaped duffels, there are countless reasons that sewing is an essential skill for a thrifty gal. The most obvious reason is it saves you money!
The list of how goes on and on... You can hem your own pants. You can repair and save damaged clothing, housewares, and toys. You can make gifts, Halloween Costumes, or even party favors! You could save tons of loot on medical bills by doing you own surgery! (hehe just kidding) Here are some serious ways that learning to sew can help you save.
Skip the Tailor.
At least sometimes. If you are altering your wedding gown or if you've ripped a hole in a Chanel bag it is time to seek professional help. But for everyday issues, tailoring can be surprisingly simple. Hem your own skirts and pants. Change buttons on your clothes. Give a fitted shirt a little tuck, all with a little know how.
Repair and Care.
Avoid tossing clothes by extending their life. There are many simple sewing techniques that can be used to repair or reinforce your clothing. Replace buttons that have fallen off. Repair ripped seams. Fix frayed hems. Reattach belt loops that have popped off.
Gift Giving
There are so many charming gifts that you can make if you have basic sewing skills. Blankets, bags, head scarves, toys and more. Everyone loves getting a handmade gift. It's so personal and thoughtful. Check out the following resources for tutorials on simple hand sewn gifts.
Couture Galore
Making your own clothes is both rewarding and fun. You can make your own trendy, quality clothes once you really get into sewing. In the meantime, practice your sewing skills on your kids! Making kids clothing is a great way to become familiar with garment construction. The small projects go quickly and use up less material. When you feel ready, try tackling a simple skirt or dress for yourself. Before you know it, you'll be whipping up an entire handmade wardrobe! But take care, sewing your own clothes is not always cheaper than buying them pre-made. Fabric can get expensive, but the quality of the clothes you make may be better than what you grab off the rack at Walmart. Consider the price of each project as you go, and be a savvy shopper. Most fabric stores have mailing lists which can get you special coupons and discounts. For example, Joann Fabrics regularly send out 40% off coupons, good for any single cut of fabric. Their circulars and emails also let you know when things like notions, thread, and equipment go on sale. These savings add up, especially when you are making a big project. Also be sure to scope out the clearance and remnant sections of your fabric store regularly. Another tip: if you buy the end of a bolt of fabric, you can usually ask for a huge discount on the last yard of fabric. Use remnants and extra fabric to make kids clothes, toys, bags, and accessories.
How to Get Started
Start by picking up a needle and thread and learning to sew by hand. This method is slow, but essential for fine details, and for understanding the fundamentals of all types of sewing. After you have the hang of hand sewing, get on a machine! If you want help, check your local craft workshops, classifieds, or fabric stores for beginner's sewing classes. You can also be brave and try to teach yourself. The internet is a great source for information. There are countless videos, guides, and tutorials on basic sewing. Here are a few resources that may help:
If you prefer to learn from a book, the following titles are great for beginners. Check your local library for these or other titles on sewing. You may be surprised at what is available for free!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Looking Fabulous on the Cheap (Ways to save on your favorite Cosmetics)

Every gal wants to look her best, even frugal gals. There is just something so exciting about opening up a new tube of lipstick, or a new bottle of perfume. Well, at least for me there is. I know personally that you DO NOT have to spend hundreds of dollars to have a collection worthy of a makeup artist. I like some drugstore makeup, and I like some department store makeup, but I get both for next to nothing. Want to know how? Well, listen up.

Drugstores and Grocery Stores
Annoyed that a tube of Revlon lipstick you want cost 9.99? Don't be. I would never pay that much. Just wait for it to go on sale at one of your favorite drugstores. Then throw in a manufacturer's coupon, and maybe even stack it with a store coupon. Presto! That 9.99 lipstick now costs you a 1.99. You can collect valuable manufacturer's coupons on everything from lipstick to hair dye in your Sunday paper. Browse the best drugstore/ grocery store deals at my favorite coupon websites, then match them up!
Outlet Shopping
Once or twice a year I make a pilgrimage to the outlet mall. It just fits into my whole shopping and saving scheme. When I go to the outlets, a must stop for me is The Cosmetics Company Store. This store is a chain at many outlet malls. Click here for a list of Outlet Malls where you can find The Cosmetics Company. What do they sell? They sell discounted department store cosmetics, lotions, creams and perfume. Some brands include Estee lauder, Prescriptives, MAC, Origins, Clinique, and Bobbi Brown! Although there are many deals to be had in The Cosmetics Store, the best bang for your buck are Sample Bags. You know those free gifts with purchase that department stores regularly offer? They sell those. They cost around 10.00 to 25.00, and are filled with full and travel size makeup, creams, cleansers, perfumes and other treats. I buy 2 or 3 of these bags every time I go. So for the price of around two department store items I get 15 or more products! That's enough to satisfy my champagne tastes for a whole year. The only drawback is that these sample bags don't often include the newest, trendiest products. Frugal girls must be patient. But don't fret, the products you are drooling over in this month's glossy magazine ads are likely to be available in sample bags or at the outlet shops next year!
Another great stop to make while you are at an outlet mall is Perfumania, or any other perfume shops available. Come prepared with a list of perfumes that you are after, and how much they would cost you locally and online. You may just find a great deal hidden away in one of these shops, especially if you can find a sample pack or promo item. At the smaller perfume shops, you may even be able to haggle the price down.

Before hitting any outlet mall, do your research. Look the mall up online, find out what stores you are most likely to shop, then do a google search for printable coupons. If you're lucky, a few minutes of searching, and a little ink & paper could save you a bundle!

We all love Sephora. It's like a gals wonderland! All of those tiny little packages of shimmering, sparkling goodness! Unfortunately, it can also be "It's-Too-Expensive-Land" or "Oops-I-Over-Spent-On-Cosmetics-Land". But savvy gals take heart! Even the most tight waisted ladies can shop at Sephora now and then.
Start by signing up for their Beauty Insider Rewards program. You earn points with every purchase that can be used to receive free gifts and top notch product samples. You also get a FREE birthday gift every year! The gift is usually pretty good too. In addition to freebies, beauty insiders are privy to special discounted items online, such as mega sized cosmetic palettes, samplers, and preview products.
P.S. Sephora likes to give out samples. It doesn't hurt to ask if they have any extras when you visit the store.
It goes without saying, but definitely browse their clearance section. But if you REALLY want to stock up at Sephora shop sale/ clearance just before and after Christmas. The prices rock! They have made many "special edition" holiday sets of your favorite cosmetics and now they want to get rid of them. Do you really care if your favorite eye shadow's case has a picture of a snowflake on it, if you got 50- 75% off?? I don't.
One more tip about Sephora. They will give a sample of a perfume of your choice. Just ask. The sample lasts about 4 uses. Get some Chanel and save it for a special occasion.

Finding Makeup Deals Here and There
The are always makeup deals lurking out there, too many to count. Check Ebay and Amazon for particular items you have your eye on. Sometimes, these products become available at great prices. Check out the The Christmas Tree Shop, Big Lots, or other bargain stores too. They buy leftover cosmetics from various stores and sell it at rock bottom prices. Just be careful to inspect the products as carefully as you can before buying. Sometimes, these items can be expired or even counterfeit.
Buy your fragrances around Christmas time. They often come in gift sets and bonus packs or have free gifts. You get more bang for your buck. They also go on clearance quickly after the holidays.
I hope these tips help. I want you to get the stuff you love with out paying too much for it. :)