Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stress FREE Christmas shopping

I’ve mentioned before that a few years back I discovered Dave Ramsey.  His simplicity to personal finance was refreshing!  The baby steps work.   We manage to pay off all our consumer debt (except our mortgage and a small vehicle loan that I discussed here) and pay cash for everything now.

 

One thing I was able to implement into our weekly budget is a Christmas Fund

I know this nothing new and earth shattering as far as ideas go,  but actually doing it and sticking to it has changed my outlook on the holiday season.  I use to start a mild panic attack in September and with each passing day it would get stronger. (does any of this sound familiar?)

Here are my tips for a stress free holiday spending:

  • Start today! (tomorrow doesn’t work….TODAY…or you’ll forget, put it off, and you know where you will be come September! PANICING)
  • Decide on your budget. (Set down with anyone who shares the responsibility with you)
  • Divide your budget up into the number of weeks left to shop. (If you want to have all your holiday shopping done by the first week of December then subtract 4 weeks from 52 weeks out of the year.)
  • Automate your money to direct deposit.  (this KEY to making it work and sticking to it.  Trust me… you almost forget about the money drafted.)
  • Set up an account separate from your main savings and/or checking.  (Another KEY fact, I use a completely different bank for my long term saving.  That way I don’t see the money on a daily bases.)
  • Don’t touch the money for anything other than holiday gifts.

 I promise this will add such joy to your life!

I remember the first year that I got to go shopping stress-FREE…. the way I walled through the shops whistling holiday carols… I bet people thought I just won the lotto!  In some ways I felt like I did.

I use   ING Direct for my holiday savings/checking account.  I opened this account specifically for this reason alone (and even earned a bonus $25). I couldn’t be happier with this bank!  All direct deposits go into the savings and then when it’s time for me to make a holiday purchase, I just log on and transfer money to the debit card!

To access the ING DIRECT Orange Savings Account $25 offer click here or if that link is already used, please email me at oprootbb@gmail.com with "ING" in the subject line along with your first and last name, and I will forward you a referral within 24 hours.
Be sure to completely read over the terms and conditions prior to opening up the account.
  

Full Disclosure: I do receive $10 from ING for each referral made through me (up to 25 total)

Carrie

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Did It!

Every year I set a new goal for myself!  Some times it personal, some times financial, and some times educational 

For 2010 I set a goal to go 365 days without a soda

Just for your FYI, I don’t drink coffee or tea.  For months I claimed to be caffeine free!! 

Until one day someone mentioned that I should check the ingredients in my vitamins.  Oh crap….. I’m addicted to my vitamins!!!    Yep, my one-a-day vitamins have 90mg of caffeine.

But….. I can claim to be

SODA FREE

for one whole year!

What do I drink?

water, water, water

and the occasional lemonade, milk, chocolate milk, or hot cocoa

This wasn’t a big deal for me…. see I never drank much soda years ago.  In fact, if I had a soda it would be a Sprite, which everyone knows is caffeine free.   But a few years back…… 

we started to travel a lot….

and if you have small children…. you know it’s a lot easier to travel at night.  Well, I need something to keep me awake while I drove or better yet…… help the hubby stay awake while HE drove!!! 

Of all the sodas, I was hooked on Mountain Dew! 

This stuff shouldn’t be legal! 

By the time we reached our destination or back home I couldn’t sleep!  It would take me a good 2 to 3 hours to come off my caffeine high!

Well…..I started by giving up the DEW for something less toxic and then moved on to giving it all up!

The first few months were the hardest…. (no shock there)

but now I don’t think twice about having one….

except….. on Pizza Night

PIZZA & SODA

they go together like hugs & kisses!

*

*

*

So the burning question is….

Will I continue to be SODA FREE?

 

Well, honestly I haven’t decided….

But I DO know for sure,  I won’t ever let myself be addicted again!

Carrie

 

PS     Do you how the magazine articles say if you give up this ?????  for a year you could lose this ???? many pounds a year?  Well, that’s crap!  I didn’t lose any weight from just giving up sodas.   Okay, it’s probably my fault.  I gave the empty calories of soda and most likely replaced them with another form of empty calories, such as eating more chocolate!  ha

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Amaze Me Monday #5

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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I had a lovely holiday weekend with the family.  I pulled off a Christmas miracle and finished all my holiday shopping by Thursday.  How is that a miracle???  It is a miracle when you start your shopping the Thursday prior!  Yep, I totally add a good 10 years to myself for waiting so long! 

On Christmas Eve I put together a simple dinner for my parents.   We had nice meal and a watched a movie afterwards.    On Christmas morning the hubby got me up at 4:00 am!  I still had four large presents that need to be wrapped, stockings to stuff, and homemade cinnamon buns to make (a Christmas morning tradition).  The kids came stomping down the stairs a few hours later.  It would appear that I did well in my week of mad crazy shopping  because I had  three happy campers once everything was unwrapped!  Whew  Before heading over to my parents house, the hubby and I snuck in a quick nap!  It wasn’t longer than 20 minutes but it sure was enough to keep me from feeling like a zombie the rest of the day.  Today I packed up all the Christmas decorations. Now my house looks empty!  A good excuse to go shopping if I wasn’t so broke!!!

I trust that everyone had an equally wonderful time with their loved ones on this glorious holiday weekend. 

Now let’s party!!!

Please share your decorating, crafting, tutorial, and other related projects for another fun week!!!

Linking up to the party is very simple.

  1. Copy/paste the web address of the specific blog post, NOT your blog home page.

  2. Add a title to your project.

  3. Choose a picture that best shows your project.

Please grab this button and add it to your post or sidebar.

 

Dittle Dattle

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stocking Candy Savers

Stocking stuffers can get expensive!     Am I right? 

Now that I have teenagers, it would be nothing for me to spend a hundred dollars or more on each stocking!  Have you seen what they want for a  holiday wrapped candies?  The same very candy that one can purchase in the checkout line for 2/$1.00!   

If I had only one stocking to fill, paying the extra money might not bother me but when you have multiple stockings to fill this really could really add up….fast!  Mother’s of two or more children, nod your head.

Here’s a few ways to save:

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Buy those fancy little wrapped candies once and save the container to use for years after.

 

 

deck_the_halls_christmas_064

 

 

 

 

 

 

                             {via}                                                                                               {via}

Wrap up your own 2/$1.00 candy bars with scrapbook paper and embellish.

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If the budget is tight, make your own candy creations and add some cute packaging!

Carrie

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Keeping It Under Wraps

When my kiddos were younger and still “believed”, I would go to great lengths to make it special.  Hoping all the way that they wouldn’t catch on….. and not find out who was the real Santa!   *wink * wink*

You already know that I would kick off the month with a holiday Letter from Santa and an ornament engraved with the year sent in the mail!

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{via}

When it came to wrapping the gifts I would even have separate paper, bags, bows and tags from the ones that we would use for family and friends.  Insane I know!  

I would buy the paper, bags, bows and tags the day after Christmas.  My thought is that they produce different designs each year and would greatly increase the odds of them see a similar one in the stores.  I honestly doubt that my kids were paying attention to wrapping paper designs from year to year…… but aren’t kids so smart these days?!?!?  I didn’t want to underestimate them and ruin the surprise.

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The real challenge was hiding the paper, bags, bows and tags for an entire year! 

I even had to disguise my hand writing when writing out the gift tags.  With homeschooling, I was afraid that the children would recognize my hand writing!   Am I completely insane?!?!  Please please please……someone else out there tell me you go through great lengths too.  

What we won’t do to fill Santa’s shoes.

Carrie

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Amaze Me Monday #4

This is the best part and the worst part of my week.  I simply can not wait to see all the fabulous things you have all been working on!!!  I dislike the fact that I can’t display every one of the AMAZING projects that you shared the week before. 

Thank you for taking the time to share with all the wonderful viewers and me, your creative talents.

Here are just a few of your AMAZING talented friends.

Inspiring decorating on a budget from Courtenay over at Signal Hill Interiors

Yummy!  Brown Sugar Pound Cake from Cricket’s Cafe

Warm and cozy master bedroom by *Becca* at Adventures in Decorating

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Please share your decorating, crafting, tutorial, and other related projects for another fun week!!!

Linking up to the party is very simple.

  1. Copy/paste the web address of the specific blog post, NOT your blog home page.

  2. Add a title to your project.

  3. Choose a picture that best shows your project.

Please grab this button and add it to your post or sidebar.

Dittle Dattle

 

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Homemade Christmas

A few years back, my mother wanted to get together with extended family over the holidays but didn’t want to put a burden on people to buy a present and a way for people to really give a gift from the heart.  So she came up with the idea of a Homemade Christmas.  Everyone needed to create a gift that was homemade to some degree.  You could purchase materials or an object and then transform it or start from complete scratch.

Who doesn’t love to receive a homemade gift that someone spent time making and creating just for you?!?!?

There are so many wonderful presents that I have personally received and I hope that the recipients of my homemade gifts would say the same.  I gathered a few of my favorite gifts and ideas to share with you.   I lost all my photos original photos recently in a external hard drive crash but I’ve gathered a few so you could see. 

S’more Camping Set

Camping Gift

smore gift set idea

Smore Camping bag

My family received this as a gift from my parents.  My dad hand turned the wooden handles for each of the skewers (so nice to have ones with long handles) and my mom stitched up the fun bag to hold all the skewers.  This gift set was complete with chocolate, marshmallows, and crackers.

Holiday Blanket

homemade Christmas blanket

Here’s a gift I made for family members.  Fleece material edged with holiday plaid  and embroidered with different holiday motifs in the corner.  {okay, I usually make an extra gift for myself!!!}

Wooden Bread Board and Knife

wooden Bread board and knife

This is another gift from my parents.   My dad cut the board and made the knife handle while my mother added a rooster motif to the other side of the board along with a loaf of homemade bread and jam!

 

Hand Painted Candles

painted candles

I hand painted these candles!  No, I don’t paint.  Seriously.  My mother is a wonderful painter and was gracious enough to let me barrow her painting books.  I spent the month of November and December teaching myself how to paint in the evenings while sitting at the kitchen counter.   I did 5 different candle that year and it literally took me hours upon hours to finish one candle!  The great thing I found about painting on candles is that if you don’t like it you can wipe off the paint and start again.   I don’t recommend that these candles be burned as they are meant to be purely decorative.

Sorry about the poor quality photo, I didn’t keep a candle for myself and I photograph this one at my mom’s house with my cell phone camera.  

Other great homemade gift ideas:

*Beautiful ceramic pie plate filled with homemade pie filling, crust ingredients, and towel/pot holder.

*Homemade embroidered monogramed outdoor flag and flag stand

*Collectors French Vanilla ice cream tin with homemade ice cream toppings (hot fudge and caramel) and an ice cream scoop.

*Homemade wooden serving tray with hand-stitched coasters, mugs, and drink mixes.

Carrie

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Foyer

I’ve kept it simple in the foyer, simply because I am running out of time to complete everything on my to-do list.    Let me show you how I transformed store bought stockings.

Upgraded store bought stocking

I started with 3 beautiful velvet stockings.  Green for the boys and red from my daughter.  However, if I could do it over again, I would have chosen one color for all three kids. 

I embellished the cuff of the stocking with simple gold beads that are hand sewn on using clear thread.

transformed store bought stocking

Used some fabric glue to tack on a gold cording around the edge of the stocking.

stockings hung by the stairwell

Yes, I went all out by embroidering their names on the cuff in gold metallic thread!

foyer bow

Single ribbon bow.

Christmas foyer

The morning sun was not making it easy to photograph the foyer.  The sun is out but it is freezing here!  I have several stands of light strung through the garland and is spectacular at night! 

On a side note, I really hate our stairway.  I always have despised it from day one!  This very well may be one of my projects for 2011!   Let’s keep our fingers crossed that I get to this project!  This foyer needs molding, wrought iron spinals, redesigned steps, artwork and new paint color!  {okay maybe a small explosive and I’ll start from scratch} 

simple christmas foyer

Simple arrangement.

Reindeer

I forgot to show a photo of my little reindeer up on the TV armoire!  I got these years ago from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I layered a string of lights and sparkly batting underneath. It’s just beautiful at night!

Carrie

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Amaze Me Monday Blog Party #3

I love looking at all your projects, crafts, and decorating ideas!  You simply AMAZE ME with each of your fabulous talent!  Keep them coming. 

A few that catch my eye this week

   The use of  Fresh greenery by  Savvy Southern Style

Cocoa in an ornament over at From Glitter to Gumdrops

When I first saw Andrea’s Christmas tree from Willow Wisp Cottage, I thought she stole the photo from a magazine! 

For many wreath ideas, hop on over to Savvy Seasons by Liz!

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Please share your decorating, crafting, tutorial, and other related projects for another fun week!!!

Linking up to the party is very simple.

  1. Copy/paste the web address of the specific blog post, NOT your blog home page.
  2. Add a title to your project.
  3. Choose a picture that best shows your project.

Please grab this button and add it to your post or sidebar. 

Dittle Dattle

 

Holiday Subway Art Vinyl Winner!

Congratulations to Tracie from Cleverly Inspired!!!

Kitchenaid-subway-art-left-side

giveaway winner

Tracie, please contact me via email.

Thank you to everyone that entered.  I’m flattered that you all liked it so much.

Carrie

 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Crafting

What have I been up to lately?  Mostly running around in circles!  Do you feel the same way?

I wanted to share a few projects that I’ve working on. 

Christmas tree

The Christmas Tree.  This is entirely different from the tree we usually put up.  In years past,  our family tree is set up in the dining room and is very formal.  However, this year I wanted to showcase the traditional side of our Christmas with things that our homemade and have sentimental value.  Our first tree in the living room!

ornament

 

santa stop here ornament

I saw something similar to the above two ornaments at Cracker Barrel.  I cut out pieces of wood, designed in Photoshop, printed out on glossy photo paper, and attached with two-sided tape. 

pinecone snowman ornament

Here’s an ornament that I made years ago for the kids tree in our classroom.  Pinecone, Styrofoam ball, felt & fabric straps, paint, hot glue and snow paint.

sock ornament

Here’s another ornament for our class room tree.  Child’s sock (I used new ones), paint, wooden button, bell, fabric straps, glue, white doll hair and a bell.

Tree topper

Tree topper.

Christmas Vingette

Our living room vignette.  This is silly but this took me days to decide how I wanted to arrange this.  I still tweaked before taking the photograph!  The merry & bright I saw this on another blog and loved it, so I had to make one myself.  The two lower artworks are from my kiddos craft projects from years past and the snowmen and Santa plaques are made by my mom years ago! 

Easy-to-do craft:  Take quilters fabric squares and Mod-Podge them to a piece of thin wood.  Embellish with glitter fabric paint! I have some that she did in fall prints too. 

Christmas garland and valance

I have two French doors that lead out to the deck that I added garland to the top of the cornices.  I love the look of  this simple garland!  Looks so real and full.

christmas bathroom

The powder room.  A few touches of Christmas in the powder room by adding garland over the mirror and white and gold poinsettias.

christmas touches in the bathroom

That’s not wall paper!  All hand stenciled!!  I woke up one weekend with a wild hair thinking I’ll add a little detail to the powder room walls and it would only take me a few hours.  Ha ha.  One week later it was finished. 

holiday trash bags

Even the trash can gets in on the holiday spirit!

pink christmas tree with silver ornaments

My daughters Christmas tree.  She’s not overly girlie girl and she wanted to paint her room blue but….. 1.  I’m not a fan of blue and 2.  She’s my only daughter.  This mom wouldn’t have it so I begged and begged till I got my own way and painted her room 3 walls pink and 1 wall blue.   To my surprise she picked out a pink Christmas tree!

pink christmas tree

Silver ornaments.  Some new and some she has received from our tradition of Letters from Santa.

wreath of coffe filters

After catching an episode of Martha Stewart, I made for my daughter's room a coffee filter wreath!   See I don’t drink coffee and have had a box of filters in my house for years!  Glad I didn’t through them away because this is so cute.  I added glitter to the tips of the filters! 

snowflake wreath

I also added a wreath to my youngest son’s room!  Very simple.  I think he would have exploded if I added anymore holiday decorations inside his room. LOL      Have a great weekend! 

Carrie

 

 
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