Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Amy - AKA "The UNDERWEAR Lady"

Ok, so I have a little bit of a dilemma.  Earlier this summer I was playing golf with a friend and at some point, to be quite frank, my undies started creeping and I had to "adjust" myself.  She jokingly asked if my undies were riding, and I jokingly replied that yes, they were, and that buying new underwear was part of my husband's and my financial goals for this year.  

Fast forward 1 week. 

My friend and I meet up again and in her hand is a little Victoria's Secret bag with, like, 9 pairs of panties! I laughed and joked with her, but was secretly mortified! She said that they were from her daughter's dresser (her daughter is 19, I think, and I am 34 with TWO children!), that she had so many pairs and was happy to part with some for the cause.  You will be relieved to know, as was I, that they ALL still had the tags on and had never been worn.  


So here is my dilemma... How in the heck do I thank her daughter?  I do make handmade cards, which is a hobby of mine (here is that blog), but what do I say? Thanks for the undies?  Although most of my undies were at least a few years old, I did have some new before the gift, but I don't want to come off overly grateful like a charity case.  I think it was a gift of good spirit and I guess I'd like to thank her in the same manner, but I just really have NO IDEA how to say it. 

At any rate, whenever my friend mentions me to her daughter, apparently she's like, "Oh, the UNDERWEAR LADY?" 

I Haven't Shampoo'd my Hair in Almost 1 YEAR!

Sounds completely gross, right? Well, for your peace of mind, I DO wash my hair, just not with shampoo!  Does this have anything to do with our finances? - Well, perhaps a little, but most of it has to do with my hair.  I have very fine, limp hair.  I have always struggled with changing seasons when my scalp gets itchy.  If I went more than 1 day in between shampooing my hair, it would look greasy, and that was regardless if I used $2 Suave or $20 salon brands.   And the last straw was after I had Max - my hair start falling out in clumps.  I never went anywhere without either a cap or a bandanna covering my head.  I was at the brink of shaving my head.

After a some time searching the web for some solutions - ones that DIDN'T cost an arm and a leg, I found a site that had some homemade hair washes and decided I had absolutely nothing to lose.  So, on Thanksgiving 2010, I shampooed my hair for the last time, and this was the best thing I ever did!

Ten months later, I can definitely tell which is new growth since I stopped shampooing.  I have a lot of "whispies" that is all that hair that fell out growing back! I take a shower at least every other day, but if I go a couple days (come on, you know you've done it too!) without a shower, my hair looks fine!  My hair ALWAYS looks clean, with shine, and fuller than it ever has! And NO, I am not representing any brand or company! LOL

So here it my secret hair wash...  are you ready?  

Here it is: 

It is really that easy!  All I do is fill my container 1/2 full of baking soda and fill the rest with water.  When I am in the shower, I get my hair wet and then squirt the mixture (shake it up well first!) over my hair.  No suds and it isn't exactly smooth, but don't worry!  I scrub my scalp and hair and then rinse it out well.  Next, I take my spray bottle filled with 100% vinegar and spray my head.  If you can stand the smell, it is TOTALLY  worth it!  I work it through my hair and rinse out.  This acts like a conditioner, making my hair super easy to comb through AND it adds shine!  And that is it! 

BONUS:  I also use the baking soda mixture to wash my face!  It feels squeaky clean afterward, and my skin is softer, smoother, and it has almost completely eliminated the occasional blemishes that I used to get.

I'll see if I can get a picture of my hair now to post...It is over shoulder length now, but I want to cut it short to get rid everything that is over a year old and, trust me, I can tell where that is!

I would love to hear anyone's feedback on this.  Is there anybody else out there who doesn't shampoo?  I admitted this to my sister a few months ago and I got a major EWWWW reaction, but when she looked at my hair, she was impressed.  I didn't convert her, but I just wanted to see what she thought. 

p.s. I do not use styling products in my hair.  I find that with the natural oils in my hair not being stripped away, I don't need those products anymore!  I rarely dry my hair with a dryer, but I will if I'm in a hurry.  I don't notice that that affects anything, except maybe less shine.

p.s.s.  Thank you to my 3 followers.  It is appreciated and it is nice to know I have a few peekers out there. ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mason Jars

Growing up, Saturday was always "clean the house day."  There was no playing outside or with friends until the house was clean.  My sisters and I used to grumble that the only reason our parents had children was so that they didn't have to clean.  Now that I am a mom, the idea of my kids doing the cleaning is definitely appealing!  I am no Susie Homemaker and, as busy as life gets, cleaning and dusting often get put on the back burner.   However, with a very small house and 2 small children, it sure doesn't take long for things to get messy.   I am forever trying to keep the clutter to a minimum and get rid of things we don't really need. When I can find something simple that can be used for many things, it makes me feel good about the precious space it takes to store it.

One of my favorite multi-duty item is the noble canning/mason jar.  No, I have never in my life canned anything.  I totally respect anyone who can (no pun intended) or willingly does this.  If I could  grow a garden, I could probably can veggies and save a ton of money, but I just don't have the green thumb, energy, or, most importantly, the desire to do it.  Nope, those jars in the first picture are our everyday drinking glasses.  They are pint jars and the half-pint ones are perfect for the kiddos.  Overall, they are just charming and, most importantly, inexpensive!  Yes they are glass and can break, but in the 7 years we have been using them for drinking glasses, I think I have only broken a couple.  They are surprisingly sturdy. 

My other favorite use for these jars is gift giving.  I often put my homemade powdered laundry detergent in a jar (recipe to come in the near future), dress it up with a strip of scrap fabric tied around the lid, and give as a sample for friends and family to try. 

Of course there are many other ways to use mason jars, and here are some of them.  If you are crafty, go to Etsy and do a search on mason jars - at lot of good inspiration there!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brand Name Vs. Generic...Toilet Paper Tragedy

Once money starting getting tight, I quickly realized that there were sacrifices that had to be made.   All of a sudden, the $3 I could save from buying store brand toilet paper instead of Charmin Plus Ultra Soft and Thick 5-Ply (okay, getting a tad dramatic there, but you get the idea!) was appealing enough to make the sacrifice.   Many times, the variety of generic toilet paper I have tried - and variety because I get whatever happens to be the best deal - has been okay.  However, I recently learned that while you can go cheaper, cheapest will leave you with a raw bum.  I made the mistake of buying a 1-ply (ugh, and why did I have to get the 12-pack!!) toilet paper that feels like a combination between tissue paper and fine-grit sandpaper.  TP should NOT sound crinkly! 

Here is the culprit!  The packaging is very deceiving.  As you can see, it says "soft and strong."  That would be a definite NO, and NO!  That poor little dog on the package.  This stuff would probably give the thing bald spots on his little hiney! 

I can't fathom wasting this stuff by throwing it away, so we are grinning and bearing through it (only 9 more rolls to go!).   Should I mention that we have guests this weekend?  I guess it is better than nothing, slightly better...  

I have seriously considered writing this company a letter about false advertising, but is it really worth my time?  Even if they sent me a coupon, etc., I can't imagine putting my family's privates through any more torture. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frappuccino Recipe

Above is one of the coffee art pieces I have hanging on my kitchen wall.  I LOVE COFFEE!  There is nothing more wonderful then the aroma of fresh brewed coffee first thing in the morning.  I am by no means a coffee connoisseur.  In fact, I admit I can't even drink it black.  I take mine with sugar and cream.  

One of my favorite summer afternoon drinks is iced coffee.  If I could afford it, I would be all over a Frappuccino.  That was actually a staple item for me before I got married, but these days it doesn't exactly fit into our budget. (These days even coffee itself barely fits in our budget!)  No problem, though, because I know how to make my own! And it tastes just as good!  

HomeMade Frappuccino

Cold coffee
Milk (or half-n-half or cream)
Ice cubes

Fill a 12-ounce glass about 1/2 full of cold coffee.  Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add enough milk until the coffee is a nice caramel color.  Add ice until the glass is about full.  Enjoy!!

Of course you can adjust the amounts to your taste - I use less sugar - but the key to the recipe is using cold coffee.  Otherwise, warm or even room temp coffee will cause the ice to melt quickly and then the drink is watery. I always have cold coffee on hand because I pour whatever coffee is leftover each morning into a pitcher and store it in the fridge.
Waste not, want not!! And what a delicious way to do it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am a Closet Food Stamp Recipient

We have been on food stamps for 2 years and probably will lose those benefits come next "review" time.  I didn't want to do it in the first place.  I was embarrassed.  I was humbled.  I absolutely did not want a single soul to know we were on 'em.

Why do I even care? Well, part of it is embarrassment.  I know I shouldn't be embarrassed, but I am.  It goes along with that we should be able to take care of ourselves without assistance.  Part of it is that I feel like people in our community see us as successful business owners and I don't want their perception changed, and I don't want them to think we are sinking and stop buying from our shop.  And finally, perhaps most importantly, I don't want anyone's pity.

So yes, we are closet food stamp recipients.  We have never used our EBT/food stamp card at the grocery store that is less than two blocks from our house.  God forbid anyone sees it in my hands and the word gets out (small towns have big mouths!).  I used to drive almost 30 minutes away to a large grocery store where the chances of me running into someone I knew would be slim-to-none.  Then I found a grocer about 15 minutes away and rarely saw anyone I knew, so I have been going there to save on gas.

It's sad, I know.

My husband doesn't care.  I told him to not tell anyone.  We didn't even tell anyone in our family for over a year.  A couple family members know now, and now anyone who happens across my blog will know.  I guess I am willing to divulge this information because we are getting ourselves out of the bleakness that has been the last few years - knock on wood - and it's not a long-term (as in forever) thing we will have to do.   I am okay with it because it is a program to help people like us to help us get through a rough patch.

Are there any other closet food stamp recipients out there? 

Monday, August 1, 2011

5 Lessons From Being Poor

1.  Hanes cotton panties are just as comfortable as Victoria's Secret panties.  Yeah, you lose some of the sexiness, but it's really hard to feel sexy when you're poor anyway.

2.  I can cook just as well as good restaurants and in the same amount of time it takes to drive there, wait, and get served.  Even if I can splurge on a steak ( once a year), it still costs a fraction of eating out, and a quick search on AllRecipes will get me a marinade that beats the steakhouse every time. 

3.   My untrained sister can do a decent job cutting my hair, and that is FREE.  No, it does not look professionally done, but it is definitely passable.  Heck, I wear my hair up in a clip or ponytail 99% of the time anyway, so as long as it is long enough to put up, I'm good to go.

4.   Unless they are born with a silver spoon, young children do not know difference between this season's brand name clothes and last years (or earlier) secondhand.  I live near an outlet mall that has Gap, Old Navy, The Children's Place, OshKosh, etc., but secondhand clothes (even brand name ones) are still less expensive.  Hand-me-downs are even better.  Kids grow so fast and are more interested in playing than putting on a fashion show.

5.   Christmas is not about gifts.  It is about family and fun.  Last year, my sisters and I did an experiment with all the kids.  Instead each family buying each of the kids (ages 1 to 7) a $20 gift (a total of $240 worth of gifts), we each pooled in about $15 (for total of $45) and played games like holiday bingo, pin the nose on the Rudolph, scavenger hunt, etc., and had prizes.  Everyone thought it was way more fun than sitting around and opening a few gifts, and the kids voted to do the same thing next year! 

Care to share any lesson's you have learned from living on a much smaller income than you're used to??