Friday, May 22, 2015

Stitch Fix, take 3

I'm sure most of you have heard of Stitch Fix. I tried it out a couple years ago for the first time, and recently received my 3rd box. I really updated my profile this time, and specifically requested a dress and tops. Thankfully, my stylist listened to that, as I received a dress and 4 shirts.

It's always fascinating what someone else picks out for you, I think. And the two pieces I ended up liking best surprised me, as I wasn't thrilled at first glance.

Here are the pieces I received:

1. Though I didn't love this dress at first, it was a very flattering style for me. I really debated about keeping this. My main hang-ups were the price, the length (a little short), and it was a little tight in the shoulders. I hope to find a similar style soon, and don't know that I would've looked for that without trying this one on.
 2. This shirt surprised me. It's not a real stand-out pattern, in my opinion, but it looked really cute on. I almost kept it, but there's kind of a weird seam/pleat that goes down the middle that hangs a little funny. Will look for a similar style of this, though, too.
 3. Not a fan of this shirt. The sleeves are angled strangely in both front and back, and I didn't love the floral print on the back.
 4. I could use a cute white shirt, but this one is too plain in the middle, and it wrinkles easily.
 5. I really like chambray, but this shirt had a weird fit--didn't even consider keeping it.
I had $25 of credit via a referral (thank you!), so I didn't spend anything this time around. (The stylist fee is $20, which you can apply to any pieces you keep.) Was still fun to give it another whirl, even if I didn't purchase anything. It did give me a couple ideas of things to look for.

Would you like to give SF a try? Click on this referral link to get started!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

Whew, it has been a very busy few weeks. Blogging has been on my to-do list for awhile, but it's never bumped to the top until now. I totally skipped over my 8-year anniversary of blogging in early May--can't believe it's been that long! I have several other updates to share, but will start with this post of my frugal accomplishments from the past three weeks.

*Made scones, rhubarb muffins x2, sugar cookies, chocolate and vanilla ice cream (using heavily discounted whipping cream), strawberry jam, strawberry rhubarb crisp, lentil soup
*Stopped by a dozen garage sales, and scored some great deals and freebies. These items were from a free table on campus--the drink mix is unopened, as is the DVD!
*Attended an event at the library that provided a buffet of international snacks, free books, crafts and activities. And Naomi even won a door prize: a $5 card to use towards library fines. I thought that was a creative prize!
*Stocked up on cereal and produce deals
*Had our final college cafeteria supper with Ryan and Alyssum, which they covered with their remaining meal credit
*Gave haircuts to Eric and Nathan
*Scored all kinds of goodies left behind by college students
*Eric took advantage of a free dog food rebate
*Received a check from Ebates--so great if you ever shop on-line!
*We've been doing a lot of free or very inexpensive activities--bike rides, parks, fishing
*We participated in lots of events at our town's annual festival, and spent very little money. We ate all our meals at home, and just bought a couple snacks over the three days. The kids earned coupons for free festival treats from school, and we gave them each some cash to budget over the three days for refreshments or activities. It was interesting to see what they chose!
*Received an awesome box of free samples in the mail:
I'd love to hear about some of your recent frugal accomplishments!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

Here are my frugal accomplishments from the past four weeks:

*Scored several freebies: candy bar (Saving *), baby wipes, mousse, quinoa/rice mix (coupons)
*Eric purchased a couple short-sleeved work shirts for $3 each at the thrift store
*Made granola, pumpkin bread, lentil soup, "better than Pam," banana bread
*Cut boys' hair
*Attended a free local egg hunt and carnival; filled eggs with treats I had on hand
*Took advantage of after-Easter clearance, snagging a couple gifts and some holiday items for next year at 50-70% off
*Used a gift card to buy lunch at CFA for Naomi and me
*FINALLY accrued enough diaper rewards points to order a large box of "free" diapers--I have been hoping for months that I keep buying the last box, but Naomi has not been very interested in potty training!
*A friend I made some lip balm--something I'd been wanting to try for a long time. We split the ingredients and the finished product, and I have plenty to give as little gifts. Fun!
*Grocery deals: spinach for 24 cents (sale and cpn), avocado for 23 cents (sale and C51), 1/2 gallons of milk for 99 cents (super-sale!), whipping cream for 99 cents (awesome markdown price!), 2 loaves of French bread for 60 cents each, free eggs with purchase, stocked up on tortilla chips at $1.25/bag
*Attended a free fairy tale workshop and program at the library--it was both fun and educational, and they provided snacks and several different craft stations. We love our library! According to a new feature at the bottom of our receipt, I've already checked out $2000+ worth of materials in 2015!
*With somewhat warmer weather, we've been trying to walk/bike more places. All-around win.
*Made pasta salad, granola bars, corn dog muffins, syrup, venison burgers, black bean burgers, brownie pudding pie
*As I've mentioned before, I try very hard to only buy on-sale produce. Here is an example of some of the deals I got the other day (Keep in mind that these are prices from 4 different stores--price matching is awesome!): celery $1, red pepper $1, onion 69 cents/lb. +Saving*, mango 77 cents, strawberries $4.98 for 4 lbs., grapes $2.19/lb., bananas 48 cents/lb. Buying on-sale produce makes a big difference in the budget!
*Attended a swap meet in my sister-in-law's dorm, and brought home an unopened container of organic almonds (random!), a car first aid kit with most (packaged) items still included, and a dress (which, humorously and unknown to me, had belonged to my SIL!)
*Bought a pair of shoes for Nathan for $2 at a garage sale
*Took Naomi out to lunch, and had coupons for a free kids' meal plus a free brownie.
*Made hummus, peanut butter cups (very yummy!), banana blueberry bread (new recipe--not yummy), granola bites, strawberry pie, vanilla ice cream, granola
*A friend gave us a pair of girls' tennis shoes that her daughter had outgrown
*Attended a delightful play at the college at no cost (staff and spouses receive free admission--a wonderful perk!)
*Visited a consignment shop when some of their clothes were 50% off, and scored some great deals, especially with having store credit to apply as well.

And though this wasn't a frugal outing, here's a pic from my recent mother-son date with Nathan--a delayed part of his Christmas present! I'm glad to save in some areas so that we can splurge in others sometimes. I had no coupons for any of our activities--bowling, pizza, ice cream shop--but we had fun (Mostly--Nathan doesn't like to lose, and his mama beat him twice in bowling!) and spent some rare 1-1 time together.

I'd love to hear about your recent frugal activities!  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter exploring

Though we'd decided not to travel for Easter, we had a hard time figuring out our plans, and I am grateful for how things came together.

Saturday was spent doing a variety of egg hunts. And on Friday, we painted/colored a set of plastic eggs. I hadn't been able to find them last year, so it was fun to add those to our decorations this season. 

On Sunday, we attended the early service at our church and then took off on an adventure. We first drove to a state park about an hour away. We had a picnic lunch and then went on a 5-mile bike ride, stopping to hike on some rocks midway. 

Next we drove about 20 minutes to a historical site called Devils Gulch. It was interesting to explore there. Then we hopped back in the car for about 10 minutes and drove to another state park, which was absolutely beautiful. We hung out there for a couple hours, climbing on rocks, and just enjoying the beauty of God's creation.
After several hours of exploring these different sites, we drove 20 minutes again to a nearby city for supper. We devoured our delicious Easter dinner, and then drove home. We were all tuckered out, but it was a nice way to spend the holiday!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Draining vs. energizing

I told a couple people this week that I had recently made two lists: one of things that drain me, and the other with things that energize me. I have been trying to use these lists to help me avoid drains when I can, and either way, to seek out what energizes me, especially when I'm feeling worn down.

I thought I would share my lists, and hope this may inspire some of you to consider doing something similar. Of course, I already knew instinctively most of what was on the list, but having it written down was clarifying for me. These are not exhaustive--just what came to mind initially. 

Here is what I find draining:
*Drawn-out decisions
*Interrupted sleep
*Interrupted conversation (repeatedly)
*Cold, gray weather
*Too-long to-do list

Here is what I find energizing:
*Fresh air
*Talking with a friend
*Healthy food
*Beautiful scenery

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Would your lists be similar? What would you add--or take away?

photo by Monica

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

Here are my frugal accomplishments from the past two weeks:

*Used a gift certificate to get a free pedicure. I watched a friends' kids several times last summer, and she surprised me with a gift certificate to a local salon. When my mom was here, she encouraged me to go out and do something relaxing, and I remembered I had the certificate. Nice!
*Scored several loaves of bread for 39 cents a loaf on the day-old rack.
*While my mom was here, we went to my favorite consignment store. They were having a spring sale with all clothes and shoes 25% off, and I had a decent amount of credit. I had just gone through the kids' spring/summer clothes, so I had very specific things to look for, and I had great success.
*I made a batch of strawberry jam, some cinnamon muffins, pancake mix, pasta salad and pizza muffins (for school lunches)
*Used a coupon for a free donut that Naomi received at a library program. Eric earned a $5 coffee shop certificate from the library.
*Received a coupon for a free TwiX bar--my favorite!--from an on-line sweepstakes
*Scored two boxes of Fr0zen cereal for just $1.27 each--on sale for $1.97 and I had two 70-cent cpns
*Used several discounts to order some gifts for upcoming occasions
*Purchased a sweater for $2 off a local swap site
*The older kids received a free chapter book for participating in the library's occasional after-school program.
*Eric spotted a white wicker rocking chair on the curb at some friends' house--he confirmed they were getting rid of it, and brought it home for our porch, which has all white wicker furniture!
*Bought a brand new box of 20 super-cute birthday cards and a bundle of colored pencils at the thrift store.
*You may recall that our washer fritzed out a couple months ago; now it's our dryer's turn! Eric patiently tried several approaches to fixing it, and it became clear that we need to replace it. We decided to buy a new one, and Eric was able to get a couple different discounts. Every little bit helps!

I'd love to hear about your recent frugal activities!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grammie's visit

We are so grateful my mom was able spend 9 days with us. She was a huge help with all the kids, especially Naomi, and she did many acts of service around the house.

We were able to squeeze in a little fun during her busy visit.

 Celebrating Natalie's 6th birthday
Going out for donuts after school
 Lots of hanging out
 Grammie got to read a couple books to Nathan's class
 And have lunch at school with Natalie
 We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with plenty of green and rainbows
Thanks for coming, Mom. We love you!

Today is our final day of diet and activity restrictions following Naomi's surgery. Hooray!