My Purpose

As a recent college graduate preparing to be a teacher and a recent bride, I'm learning how to live in a limited budget. In the process, I've had to find money saving tips & ways to re-use common items, create cheap lesson plans, cook inexpensive meals, design DIY wedding projects, and more. With the economic situation that many of us are in, I think we can all use any ideas that people care to share, and that's exactly what I want to do-- share my own ideas and those that I've found in my searches. I hope you find this blog useful and share it with others.

The blog can be viewed in chronological order of posts via the "Home" button, or you can select a specific title for pages that contain information organized for one idea, such as "College," "Wedding," or "Party Planning." Also, you can view pages specific to one particular label by using the "Categories" element down the left side of the screen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Found a New Blog

While trying to find a budget worksheet, I stumbled across this site and wanted to pass it on!

Mom's Budget

She has recipes for easy dinners, beauty products, household cleaners, and more! Make sure you check out the blog!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lil' Pumpkin- An Autumn Themed Baby Shower

1) Create a darling baby face on a pumpkin, cut out a mouth and insert a pacifier, add a bow or hat on top and you have an adorable pumpkin centerpiece or decoration. Photo by Thrifty Fun.

2) Cut holes in the top of a pumpkin and gut it. Then insert a bowl into the hole. This can be used a "cooler," chip bowl, punch bowl, etc.

3) Sprinkle the tables in rich autumn leaves-- whether silk or real.

4) Rust, Red, Gold or Brown table cloths will create a dramatic atmosphere in the party space.

5) Incorporate hay, mums, gourds, leaves, coffee beans, seeds/beans, corn, or sunflowers.

6) Serve drinks out of mason jars, or use them as centerpieces. They can also be hung from ceiling, arches, or hooks by wrapping wire around the rim and create a large hanger.

7) Serve warm cider, pumpkin pie, zucchini bread, and other delicious fall favorites.

8) Burlap is a cheap way to create a table runner, or to wrap around potted plants. Add a beautiful satin bow and you're good to go! BVWeddings

9) Create a pumpkin shaped cake with two bundt pans, and an ice cream cone as the stem. Check out the first few cakes here.   You may also consider skipping the cake and just serving pies! Delish

Bed Time Story- A Book Themed Baby Shower

Start a library for the baby with this book themed shower.

1) Encourage guests to include a children's book in place of a card. By signing the inside of the book, the baby and parents will always remember the guests that helped create the library of books that were read to the child. Suggest that the book they bring is one of their favorites as child.

2) Decorate each table as if it were a bed. Use bed sheets or linen table cloths to "make the bed." Complete the look with a pillow, books, and a stuffed animal on one end. To save space, the tables can be pushed up against the wall with the pillow propped up as if it were resting on a headboard. Hostess with the Mostess

3) Use foam, plastic or wooden letters painted to match the color scheme. Set up random letters on each table for an ABC look.

4) Scatter children's books around the room. Remember to keep them away from areas that could cause them to get ruined-- beside a punch bowl for example.

5) Give away DIY personalized bookmarks as favors.

6) Pick a few favorites and create themed tables or food: Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Peter Rabbit, Pokey Little Puppy, etc. CraftPad

7) For a fun game, make copies of graphics from famous children's book and play "Name That Character."

Care for a Cup of Tea? A Tea Party Themed Baby Shower

1) Shop local thrift stores for as many of the items you'll need as possible.
        - Pick up mismatch tea cups, plates, sauces, teapots, crystal, cake stands, etc.
        - Look around for old bedsheets in vintage patterns. Of course, check for cleanliness and quality. Be    
           sure to look for toile or any pastel floral print.

2) Doilies and lace at place settings or with centerpieces add an old-fashioned feel.

3) Use soft pastels for dishes (whether real or disposable), flowers, invitations, and other details for the party.

4) Use cake stands, oversized tea cups, teapots and more create beautiful centerpieces. Fill with flowers, bows, etc. A Bloom in Time

5) Beautiful cloths or wallpaper can become a table runner. Wedding Bee

6) Turn over women's hats and fill with flowers and/or baby items.

7) For a whimsical feel, add dragonflies, butterflies and bumble bees.

8) A few coordinating candles and create a warm atmosphere for your tea party.

9) Add a few rabbits, pocket watches, & butterflies to connect your shower to the famous movie.

Bzzzzzzzz! A Bee Themed Baby Shower

For the "Baby-to-Bee" that is as "Cute-as-can-Bee," try a bumble bee and honey theme. It's especially cute if the baby's name will begin with the letter B.

Check out: Sweet T Events for photos of a baby shower that used this theme on a tight budget.
1) Create a bee-hive out of a balloon, yarn or streamer, and store bought bumblebees...

2) Serve food on yellow supplies with black tableclothes, or vice versa.

3) Serve honey themed, yellow or "B" foods (Brownies, bagels, biscotti, banana, brocolli, beans, berries, etc).

4) Create a yellow and black candy buffet. Jelly beans, black licorice, lemon heads, lemon drops, oreos and others will make a great selection.

5) Embrace rich black, white and yellow fabrics. Check out toile or damask. Add yellow grosgrain ribbon for a nice accent.

6) A beehive shaped cake will be the hit of the party, especially if surrounded by bee cupcakes or cookies.
7) Add yellow and white flowers or poms to centerpieces. Make it even more fitting by adding small bees to the flowers.

8) Teddy bears can be used to create a honey themed centerpiece. Buy a small wooden pot at a craft store, fill with yellow hot glue, add a small twig as a stir stick, and attach a bumble bee or two.

9) Find great craft ideas here.  The balloon bumblebees are adorable!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! A Baby Shower Fit for a Prince or Princess...

Think Pink! or Think Blue!

1) Make the cake in the shape of a castle, or create a diaper cake that looks like one. You could also do a pillow with a crown, or a frog cake! Simply Sweets                                           Piece-A-Cake

2) Spray paint sand castle molds to be used as centerpieces.

3) Make or cover pillows to look like a pillow that a crown would be presented on. Remember fancy fabrics, cords, and tassels really make the look!

4) Add frogs around the room for a fairy tale feel.

5) Make crowns or purchase some from a fast food restaurant. Paint them or decorate them. They can be used to put around vases or pots of flowers.

6) For a princess party, add shiny confetti, jewels and sparkles. You can also add pink feather boas for a girly addition.

Quack Quack! A Duck Baby Shower

Guests will be waddling to a baby shower with these ducky ideas!

1) Float rubber ducks in blue punch.

2) Fill vases, fish bowls, or other clear glass containers with white styrofoam balls of various sizes. Place a rubber duck (of an appropriate size) on the top.

3) Float blue balloons in the air.

4) Place blue vases with yellow daises, tulips or roses on tables as centerpieces.

5) Buy ducks of all kinds during Easter when they're easy to find!

6) The illusion of water can be made around ducks on a table by using blue decorative marbles or blue basket fill.

7) Laminate large orange duck feet and secure them to the floor with a sign saying "Waddle This Way."

8) Neatly fold and stack white, yellow or blue towels and place them on a table with a rubber duck on top.

9) Use a wash tub as a cooler to serve drinks out out.

10) Use smaller washtubs with basket fill or even real water and rubber ducks as centerpieces. Add bottles of lotion, bath wash, etc. to the centerpiece for a complete bath time look. The bottles can then be given to the mom as a gift.

11) Create a cake that looks like a bathtub or pond and "float" rubber ducks on top. If you've created a bathtub, don't forget the bubbles!

12) Serve all yellow food: egg salad, lemon fingers, lemonade, deviled eggs, chicken noodle soup, etc.

Come Sail Away--- A Boat Themed Baby shower

Here are some ideas to help you keep afloat while planning a boat themed baby shower.

1) Make sails out of dowel rods and patterned paper. Put the sails in buckets or bowls of food or pots of flowers.

2) Buy blue & white striped material and use it as a table runner. After the shower, the material can be made into pillows for the baby's room!

3) Buy a cheap decorative fish net to hang on a wall or to decorate some tables. Add some kick with sea shells or fish hanging on the net.

4) Borrow sail boats, pelicans, oars, messaged bottles, starfish, alphabet flags, maps, steering wheels, artificial anchors, lighthouses, knotted rope, or life preservers from friends. One of your friends probably has a nautical themed room in their house.

5) Use removable letters to create a welcome message on a life preserver for a welcome message to guests.

6) Add a more delicate feel to the room with simple vases of white flowers as centerpieces.

7) Use reds, blues, and whites throughout the room!

8) Get wooden letters to spell out the baby's name and decorate them with thin rope. Make it more creative by adding some knots to some.

Check out these links for photos and inspiration: Enchanted Expectations   Celebrations at Home

Aloha! A Beach Themed Baby Shower

For a beach baby/Hawaiian themed shower, try a few of these ideas to make the party complete.

1) Fill the room full of beach items. You can include sea shells, starfish, beach balls, coconuts, flip flops, flippers, snorkels, goggles, beach towels, sunglasses, and sand toys.

2) Display food in sand buckets. Serve drinks with little umbrellas in them!

3) Grill up an all american beach party with hamburgers and hotdogs for everyone. You can also do submarine sandwiches. Add Potato salad and fresh fruit help to round out the meal.

4) Fill a glass bowl with blue jello with gummy fish.

5) If outside, add some tiki torches around the shower area, or hollow a pineapple into a candle holder.

6) Sprinkle sand down the center of the tables before setting your centerpieces out. Buy the sand from a hardware or garden supply store, not from the candle section of a store.

7) To put the "baby" in your hawaiian baby shower, you could buy or borrow a few small stuffed animals (like crabs or tropical fish) & place them in the party area.

8) Straw beach mats can be used as table runners.

9) Check out Oriental Trading for beach themed items.

10) Invite guests to dress in bright colors (or Hawaiian shirts) with flip flops.

11) Remember that brown sugar looks like sand! It can be added to anything that will be eaten and needs a "sand" look.

There's a Baby Blooming-- Flower Themed Baby Shower

Is everything coming up roses?? Here are some ideas to help you plan a flower themed baby shower.

1) Buy potted plants to use as centerpieces. Wrap the pots with fabric and attach with a beautiful matching bow. After the shower, give some of the plants away--- or use them as prices. You can also take some of them home and plant them in your flowerbeds.

2) If using silk flowers, search dollar stores for bundles of flowers. Use a pair of scissors to trim up any frayed edges.  If you desire to buy more expensive flowers, sign up for coupons from the store you'll be buying them from.

3) Five balloons can be attached to make them look like the petals of a flower, with a balloon of a different color as the center of the flower. These can be used in an entry way, or around the exterior of the room or party area.

4) Decorate cheap flower pots with bows, fabric and baby items as centerpieces.

5) Cakes can be made into flowers in many different ways. Create a garden look on the cake with artificial flowers, decorate one big cake to look like a flower, make small flowers on cupcakes, or create edible flowers out of soft candies and toothpicks.

6) Make tissue paper flowers for decorations around the room, on tables or to mark a mailbox.

7) Make a baby bootie bouquet.

8) Use a flower pen to sign the guest book.

Strike! Slamdunk! Goal! A Sports Themed Baby Shower

Dribble into a great baby shower with these tips and ideas.

1) Use green table cloths on tables. For a football field or soccer field, use white ribbon to create the look of the lines. (You can straight-pin, hot glue or double-stick tape the ribbon down). Use gold table cloths to create a basketball gym floor. Use a large marker or electrical table to create the lines..

2) Serve ballgame inspired food-- hot dogs, chips, pretzels, popcorn, etc.... but hold the beer!!

3) Shop for supplies during Easter, Superbowl, or the sports season. You can find cups, plates, napkins, sports equipment, baskets, etc.

4) Decorate with sports equipment, baseball for favorite teams, fake grass, whistles, pennants (make out of felt or scrapbook paper--- write the baby's name, "baby boy," or "baby ________" as the team name), sports bottles, megaphones, etc. Shop at teacher supply stores for wall decor!  Add a touch of baby by adding tiny tennis shoes, ball caps, soft/plush sports ball, or small baseball bats.

5) Decorate cupcakes to look like various shaped sports' balls, or make a sheet cake to look like one! You could also make a simple sheet cake to look like field or floor and buy cheap sports figures from the children's toy section to decorate.

6) Make the invitation inspired by a trading card. A picture of the ultrasound or the mommy's belly on the front, with the "stats" or party details on the back!

E-I-E-I-O... A Barnyard Baby Shower

Are you trying to create a farm like Old McDonald's?? Try some of these ideas!

1) Decorate your venue with straw and straw baskets, and galvanized buckets! Fill with flowers, baby items, material (gingham, paisley, or cow print) or stuffed animals.

2) Complete your decorating with stuffed cows, horses and other farm animals.

3) Make a small sheet cake into the shape of a barn and then use cupcakes as animals around the barn. Make chicks, pigs, or lambs. Here's a picture for inspiration, or try this.

4) Ask all of your friends that have kids if they have any farm toys you can borrow! Most little boys have some type of tractors, animals, or cowboy toys.... To mark who loaned you what, put their name or initials on a piece of masking tape on the bottom of each piece. This way, the toy isn't permanently marked. Don't worry if they don't all match!

5) Look around antique stores & garage sales and ask friends & neighbors if they have old barn wood, wagon wheels, or small hay bales that you could borrow. This can create adorable entry decorations or to spruce up the decor around the room.

6) Create themed food: chicken feed (chex mix), hay (pretzels), and vegetables (garden). Get creative!

7) Hit Easter sales (if timing allows) for stuffed animals, baskets, and more. Many stores offer stuffed chicks, lambs, cows and other animals for Easter. You might also be able to find great favors!

8) Cow or handkerchief scrapbook paper can be used as place mats or  to emphasize a centerpiece.

Birthday Party Themes

Here are some ideas to try instead of the TV or movie character themes...
Dr. Seuss
Teddy Bears
Winnie the Pooh
Bugs/Lady Bugs
Farm Animals
Seasonal- Winter, Summer, Fall, Spring
Under the Sea
Little Cupcake

Monkey-in' Around... Monkey Themed Baby Shower

The idea of decorating with monkeys has several options-- sock monkeys, brown cartoon monkeys, a full jungle theme or monkeys with bananas. You have to decide what branch of the tree you want to climb!

1) Decorate with bundles of bananas. Then, send some home with any guests that will take them!

2) Decorate cupcakes to look like cute monkey faces!! Or make a large cake in the shape of a banana!

3) Have small bowls of the banana candies (bought separately in candy stores) on tables for guests to enjoy during the shower.

4) If using sock monkeys, use browns, whites and reds. Incorporate the use of an old red wagon, or small red bicycle. Stars, stripes and polka dots work well also!

5) If using monkeys with bananas, create a rich feel with chocolate brown and yellow!

6) If using brown jungle monkeys, you may want to create a color pallete-- such as blue and yellow!

7) If using a full jungle theme, embrace the use of animal prints, palm trees, and all jungle animals-- giraffes, lions, hippos, elephants, etc.

8) Check out Oriental Trading for items such as these palm trees, or this inflatable monkey.

Thing 1, Thing 2, Or Does Horton Hear a Who?

Who doesn't just love Dr. Seuss!?!? Here are some fun ideas to really embrace the creativity of Dr. Seuss into your party!

The party should be decked out crisp red, blue and white! Polka dots, striped and solids work well for this theme. Each table in the room can be decorated for you favorite books, as well as foods inspired by different stories!

1) Serve devilled eggs with green filling! (Green Eggs & Ham)

2) Find your local teacher supply store for Dr. Seuss signs and wall hangings! You might also find pencils, bookmarks, or other items that make great favors!

3) Decorate cupcakes in red wrappers with blue fluffy cotton candy on top. (Thing1 Thing 2)

4) Use mint savers and red gummy savers in an alternating pattern (two of each) to look like the Hat from The Cat in the Hat. Set them on top of a white covered cookie-- maybe a white chocolate covered chocolate cream cookie. These can be used to decorate the top of a cupcake, or just as cute snack!

5)Stuffed animals that are Dr. Seuss themed are often sold at Kohl's department store. Also, look at garage sales, toy stores, and remember to ask all of your friends---especially those with kids! These can be used to enhance an adorable centerpiece.

6) Borrow, buy or check out Dr. Seuss books to set up around the room!

7) Buy a set of Dr. Seuss stickers or print off small pictures of themed graphics and create picks for food or cupcakes by adhering them to toothpicks.

8) Fluff, boas, and cotton balls in blue or pink can be used to create the idea of Horton Hears a Who or Thing 1 Thing 2.

9) Paper lanterns or balloons can be hung from the ceiling for dramatic polka dots! Also, scrapbook paper can be cut into various shaped circles and set on the table around the centerpiece.

10) Companies such as Oriental Trading sell hats that look similar to the "Cat in the Hat" Hat. They would make cute party favors! Or could be used as decor!

11) A fish bowl of sweedish fish or a similar candy could be used for "One Fish Two Fish."

Check out this blog!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yee-Haw! Western Baby Shower

Giddy Up!! Here are a few unique ideas to help you with your western baby shower!

1) Serve your guests western style with cornbread, chili, chicken wings, potatoes, chips and salsa.

2) You can also give the shower an old fashioned touch with homemade root beer or ice cream or spice it up with a salsa bar with different kinds of salsa.

3) Use bundles or bales of hay as decor around the room, or smaller one for decor on the tables.

4) Tip cowboy hats upside down or use cowboy boots and fill with flowers or baby items for a centerpiece.

5) Use red or blue bandannas as napkins.

Choo Choo! Baby Shower Ideas

Here are a few ideas for that Train themed baby shower you have to throw.

1) Cover your table with a white table cloth and make train tracks with black construction paper or streamers running down the middle of the table.

2) Use a train shaped cookie cutter to cut your foods into trains! Try cookies, brownies, sandwiches, cheese, etc.

3) Serve food on blue or denim colored plates/napkins/cups.

4) Dress a big stuffed bear in overalls and a red bandanna so he can be the conductor.

5) Set up a toy train set on the sign in table or cake table. Borrow one if you don't have one. The day after Thanksgiving or after Christmas would be a great time to buy if you want to purchase it!

6) Create train tracks on the floor in the room with black electrical tape. The tracks can lead from the front door, to the sign in table, gift table, cake table, food table, etc.

Baby Shower Themes

Having a hard time picking a theme for that baby shower you've been asked to host? Here are a few ideas!

Nursery Rhymes
Old Toys
Dr. Seuss
Noah's Ark
Pink or Blue
Teddy Bears
Bugs/Lady Bugs
Cute as a Button
Baby to "Bee"
Stars & Moons
Farm Animals
Seasonal- Winter, Summer, Fall, Spring
Under the Sea
Little Cupcake
Two Feet
Peas- Sweet Pea or Two Peas in a Pod (Twins)

Modern/For the Mom:
Tea Party
Garden Party
Bun in the Oven
Pickles and Ice Cream
Birds- "Mommy is Nesting"
Pampers- A Spa Party
Due Date
This Day in History- for a shower thrown after the baby is born
Old Fashioned Sleepover

Sprinkles are a smaller version of a shower for a second or third baby that arrives a while after the previous one. Only the closest of friends and family are invited, and the gifts are cut down to consist mainly of what the mother will really need--- diapers, wipes, bathware, new clothes if the gender has changed, formula, etc. The length of the party is shorter and it's also less formal. A cute idea for a sprinkle is to use the "Pickles and Ice Cream" theme and decorate with "ice cream."  Also, a rain themed party is simply adorable!

Party Planning--- A baby shower!

Trying to plan a baby shower on a budget?? Here are a few things that might help!

1) Buy a little at a time. Instead of buying everything for the shower at once, but a few things every time you go to the store. It will be much easier on the pocket book if you spent $5-$10 every week instead of $100 or more at once! Buy things that will keep well and store them in a safe place! One idea is to get a tote and keep it accessible to add items as you find/buy them.

2) Purchase items at discount stores. All your party supplies don't need to be purchased at a party supply store. Try dollar stores, dollar sections, Wal-Mart, Big Lots, etc. They have great deals! You can purchase things such as streamers, balloons, table cloths, basket fill, place settings, and more and save a big hunk of change! You will definitely want to check the durability and quality of some of these--- you don't want Aunt Betty trying to eat cake with a broken fork!

3) Plan early. Decide on a theme early in the game and plan quickly. This will allow more time to buy in advance and to shop for good deals! For example, if the baby shower will be in the middle of the year or later and you know you're hosting a bunny or duck themed shower, you can take advance of Easter deals for some decor or favors.

4) Use games as part of your gift. If you're playing a memory or pricing game, use the items to memorize or guess the price of as part of the gift you're giving the mom-to-be. Use a game that incorporates baby bottles to start off the mom's needed supply.

5) Utilize some of the decorations as the gift, also. You can hang a clothesline full of baby clothes, display clothes as a centerpiece, decorate with stuffed animals/books, fill baby bottles with tissue paper or candies, and more. Get creative! Centerpieces definitely make the atmosphere of the room, but you can still save money on them!

6) Add some pizazz to your table by placing a piece of colorful scrapbook paper that corresponds with your themes/colors at each place setting. It's cheaper than place mats and can be tossed after the shower. Also, shop for cheap material (by the yard or in the scrap bins) that matches or looks good with your colors or theme and can be used to spruse up your tables!

7) Design your own invitations (and other necessary paper products.) Design companies can charge as much as $2 for an invitation, so they can become a big part of your budget. Take a few hours to learn a design program such as Photoshop or something as simple as Microsoft Picture It! Premium (found on most Dell computers). Then look around online for an inspiration of what you want your invite to look like, decide on a size, create a design, buy some cardstock and envelopes (found at an office supply store) and you're ready to go!

8) Make your own food! Some caterers will charge $5 or more a person for a shower's meal--- and most budgets won't allow for that! Make ham salad/egg salad sandwiches, serve veggies & fruits, chip and dips, cheese ball and crackers, etc. Of course a cute baby shower idea is to serve a themed meal-- all the same color, baby themed or baby sized.

9) Use the theme of the nursery as the theme of the shower. Then ask the mom if she has already purchased decorations that can be used to help decorate the shower.

10) Make your own cake-- or cupcakes! A bundle of cupcakes can be dressed up by placing them in a shape that correlates with the shower--- a fish, a monkey head, a baby's rattle, a duck, a teddy bear, flowers, etc. You can also decorate each cupcake to look like a cute baby's face!

11) Host the shower from your home or privately owned facility instead of renting a hall or banquet room. Of course, the area will need to be large enough for your guest list and have a flow that will work for a party of this nature.