Thrift Store Shopping Spree and New Years Goal

I don't generally make personal goals for each New Year - not because I don't have goals, but because I have never thought of anything interesting enough to say "this is my New Years goal."

Paul and I set lofty financial goals at the beginning of 2009 and we're both thrilled that we exceeded those goals. And we're doing it again in 2010. But those are "us" goal, not a personal goal.

The past couple of weeks I have been inspired with an idea that I have decided to turn into a goal for 2010 -
To buy all of my clothes from the thrift store or yard sales.
I know I have linked to her a lot lately, but Jen has been a true inspiration for this goal!! Check this link for all her Frugal Fashionista posts to check out some of her great finds!!

On top of that, all of my children's clothes will come from those places and - I am so excited about this - my sister, who is living with us for five months, has agreed to participate too!

I already buy the majority of our clothes second hand, but it will be a challenge to be exclusively a thrift store/yard sale shopper!!

There are a few exceptions I have set for myself;

1. Undergarments will be bought brand new from a store.
2. Same with bathing suits.
3. If I get a gift card to a store I can buy clothes with the gift card (but chances are I'll use it for household items).

My shoes, purses and accessories all need to be second hand too. I am super picky about those things and don't wear used shoes or worn purses but over this past year I have discovered incredible brand new shoes and purses at yard sales or thrift stores. I feel confident making those a part of my goal because my closet has enough of both to get me through 2010 even if I don't find any second hand.

I am going to get rid of a piece of clothing for each piece I bring home - I don't like excessive clutter and that goes for my wardrobe too (though looking at it right now you wouldn't know it!!)

The point of my goal is:
1. To save money
2. To 'live green.'
3. To spruce up my wardrobe (I'll show you soon - I can't afford the regular price of the clothes I am buying!)
4. Just to see if I can do it.
and finally,
5. To encourage others to look at their clothing purchases differently.

Like I said earlier, my sister is living with us and she has agreed to this challenge for the next 5 months. I took her to our thrift store a few days ago to introduce her to its treasures - she is already a thrift store lover, but she also likes to shop at the mall. I think I have converted her. We found amazing deals between the two of us - a lot of the items were brand new with tags (BNWT) and we added those up and googled the items without a price tag and the low ball value of the items we bought was $1,240! We spent $60 that day.

The dress at the top of this post was one of the treasures - it still had the original store price tag of $70 on it!

This purse was there - it is a BNWT Liz Claiborn purse and has a $29 price tag on it.

This silk sweater had a $78 price tag.

I would never pay the original price for these clothes, but I will gladly pay the $1.99-$4.99 that the Thrift Store charges!

Over the last few days I have been thinking about how this goal could be turned into something that honors God and use it as a ministry for others. I have a few ideas I am praying about and considering. I'll see how the Lord leads in that way as it would be exciting to me to share these deals with others.

*Note: Paul is extremely hard to find clothes for, even at full price, which is why I am not including his clothes in this challenge. But as much as is possible his clothes will be second hand.

$2 Steve Madden Boots for a Friend

I don't think these are boots you can be on the fence about - you'll either love them or hate them.
I happen to love them.

I found these Steve Madden boots at the thrift store for $2 and was so disappointed when I discovered they were one and a half sizes too small for me.

I knew I couldn't just leave them in the store so I called a good friend and asked her what size shoe she wore. I don't even think I asked how she was I was so excited.
"Hi Ashley, it's Jessica. What size shoe do you wear?"

She just happened to wear size 7.5 - the exact size of the boots!

I was thrilled that they were the perfect size for her and was quite certain she'd love them too so I bought them for her. When I got home I googled them and they sell for over $100!!

It was exciting getting such a steal on these boots but even more exciting being able to share the deal with a friend.

If I can get it together I plan on posting my new years goal later today or tomorrow - I am excited about the challenge I have set up for myself, inspired by Jen and all her frugal fashion finds!


Saying Goodbye


My parents left to go back to Canada today and Judah asked me "Why doesn't Grandma want to stay with me?" And then he wanted Grandpa to chase him. Even though grandpa was hundreds of miles away.


This is one of my favorite pictures from this week - my new wide angle lens has been fun, and yet challenging, to use. My brother captured this shot on Christmas eve of the family sitting around the tree - everyone was waiting for their Christmas Eve gift to open.
Missing in the picture: Caleb, the photographer and dad.

The family is still here and my laptop needs to head into the store to be fixed, so blogging will continue to be done at a relaxed pace for the next week or two.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Judah - Christmas morning


The Tree

 Honestly - I think I am the most excited person in the house about these gifts.
They're all pushed in tight around the tree and there's tons of them in there.
So exciting!
In keeping with traditions of years gone by we will open one gift each this evening and then the rest tomorrow after breakfast.


Merry Christmas!

 We've got 6 additions to our home this week and I have discovered I won't have much time to blog.
Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas as we remember:
...how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

lyrics from the chorus How Many Kings by Downhere



I thought I would have a little fun with the Christmas lights and taking pictures, so I stood across the room and took these three pictures. All the settings were the same - ISO, shutter speed, F. - all identical. I simply changed the manual focus to get these three different looks.

They aren't good pictures and I wasn't planning on posting them, but I was struck by this simple thought: my focus affects how I view things. And I am not talking about photography here.

We included this verse in our wedding invitations and it has continued to be a special verse to me:
For this is God, 
Our God forever and ever,
He will be our guide,
Even unto death.
Psalm 48:14

He is my guide.
He should be my focus.


Christmas Plates

Weeks ago Jen posted pictures of her beautiful Christmas plates she picked up second hand somewhere.  Inspired, I decided to keep my eyes open for my own set of Christmas plates and within a week I found these cute glass plates! I love the glass and the simple snowflake in the center.

There were ten plates and each one was marked for $3.99. I took one up to the front and asked the manager if she could give me a better price if I bought all ten as I had no intention of spending $39.99 on plates.
The manager said "Oh honey, I don't think they were meant to be $3.99 each. You can have all 10 for $3.99!"

I don't think they were meant to be .39 cents each, but I was thrilled, said thank you and bought them all.
And we have been enjoying our Christmas plates since.

Ham and Cheese Rolls

These aren't around long enough to get a good picture of them, so just imagine they look yummy. Because they taste amazing!

Ham & Cheese Rolls

I used the dough recipe from the cinnamon rolls HERE. (Including the pudding mix!)

In fact, I followed all the steps from that cinnamon roll recipe, but instead of adding butter, cinnamon and brown sugar after it was rolled out I used butter, diced ham and shredded cheese.

I then rolled it back up, cut it and then cooked a few. The rest I put in the freezer (uncooked) as I wanted to test how well they would do cooking from frozen. They work amazingly! (which tells me that the original cinnamon roll recipe would work just as well.)

To cook from frozen preheat oven to 350 F, put desired amount of ham and cheese rolls on a tray, place in oven and set timer for 30 minutes! So easy!


Judah's Car Mat - Christmas Gift

I am so excited about this Car Mat for Judah.
I have been working on it for a couple of months now, but it's been going a lot quicker since I got my sewing machine!! It is possible to make this if you don't have a machine - it'll just take a long time to hand stitch everything.

I wanted to make him a car mat with lots of different scenes that he could rearrange the order of everything depending on his creative mood.
I found bags of red, white, black and green felt at the Dollar Store - $1 for 10 or 12 pieces. Each piece is about 5x7. On top of 4 bags of that felt I picked up a few other pieces at a craft store and used some scraps I had on hand. Some of the scenes still need a few details, but here they are up close:

Starting with the top scene:
A city (with a clothes line between two apartment buildings)
Fishing pond, apple tree, garden
Christmas tree, sled, snowman
Parking lot (the black line will be a light post, just need to add the button light!)

From left to right:
Rain clouds and puddles
Train station and train tracks
Sun, telephone pole with bird, stop sign

From left to right:
Tent, snake
Fence, barn

I will probably end up adding on to this if he plays with it as much as I am hoping he will. He has seen me working on it, and at the beginning I let him test it out just to see if he would play with it, and he totally loved it! I think it would be fun to let family and friends design a scene for him too.


Easy Birthday Gift for a boy

Judah's buddy is turning 5 and he entirely has my sympathies.
Being born anywhere close to Christmas kind of stinks.

I decided we'd try to make his gift a bit more fun, somewhat functional and... well, make it more than 1 gift to open.

I took mini matchboxes that I picked up at the Dollar Tree for $1. (There were about a dozen for $1)

I only need 5 boxes.
The boy is turning 5.
So 5 boxes it will be.

I took all the matches out of the matchbox. As certain as I am that a 5 year old boy would love 5 boxes of matches, I still want to stay friends with his mother. So out go the matchsticks.

Then I cut out 5 pieces of paper that flowed together. I wasn't looking for matchy-matchy.
Two prints got used twice. My favorite line says;
Boy, n. a noise with dirt on it.

I wrapped them all up fancy like and used some rub on numbers to put 1-5 on the front of each box.
That's the easy part.

Deciding what to put in these manly man boxes is a whole 'nother challenge. Seeing as it's from Judah I thought we could try putting Judah's things in it - each box would hold 5 of the treasured item.

But after coming up with rubber bands, pretzels, balloons, paper clips and quarters I thought his friend might just cry when he saw the gift.
And Judah might cry when he realized he was GIVING those items away.

So I thought a bit more. And am going to use money inside of it instead.
5 nickles
5 dimes
5 quarters
5 $1bills

And then 1 $5 bill to end it all off .

Judah still might cry when he realizes that when you give gifts you give for keeps.
But at least his friend won't be crying because he doesn't understand WHAT the gift is!

And a special note to all givers of gifts to my children: they truly would be overjoyed with a rubber band ball, a big jar of paper clips, some shiny quarters, pretzels - stale or not - and balloons.
Be warned: If you gift them any of those items you must stay to watch their full enjoyment of the gift. They are hysterical.


My Boy

--> Check out the link on the top over there -->
I am going to be reviewing the products eventually, but all the ones that are listed in the store are ones I own and LOOOOOVE. Well, except for volume 1 and volume 3. Those are on my "Honey this is what I want for Christmas List" :)

We spent the day together.

Me and you. You and me.

That's what he likes to say when he gets one on one time with either Paul or myself.
It started with an impromptu photo shoot during Wesley's nap. Then a good cuddle during an hour of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe.

When Paul came home from work Judah and I left Wesley and Paul at home and we went out to run some errands and eat dinner together. Just the two of us.
Judah said to me;
"Mommy, we're a team."

These first two images were taken with my new Sigma 10-20mm lens

And these last three images were taken with a 50 mm 1.8f lens


The new favorite reading position. It made me laugh when I saw them both chilling back with their books like this. I've got a large basket of Christmas books under the tree and they both like helping themselves to one and browsing.


Under Our Tree

They are guarding the gifts from curious boys.

At least they were until Judah told me he shot them dead.

Timberdoodle Review

Last Wednesday I had a couple cysts removed which required a few stitches in the back of my head. It hurt a lot more than I had imagined it would and I was pretty wiped out when I got home from the hospital. Thankfully Paul was home and the sweet man told me I should go lay down in bed.
Feeling badly about leaving the family I instead lay on the couch in the family room.

A package had been delivered while we were out and I opened it, rather unenthusiastically. It was from Timberdoodle - a Rocket Launcher and a My First Brain Box for the boys and I to use and review.
Even though I felt miserable I opened the Brain Box up for Judah and let him look through the cards - I was soon amazed by the creativity these cards inspired in my almost three year old.

Brain Box Games are sold by Timberdoodle for $17 each - they offer 5 different versions of the Brain Box. The other 4 boxes (which I have not seen) are titled World, USA, Animals and US Presidents.
My First Brain Box is designed to encourage observation skills and creativity and is recommended for children age preschool and up. With a 1.5 year old and an almost 3 year old this is a great product for their ages - and one that they will grow into too! My First Brain Box comes with 55 double sided cards. On one side of the card is a brightly colored illustration. On the other side is 6 questions related to the illustration.

The way you are suppose to play is to look at the picture, flip it over, roll a dice numbered 1-6 and answer the corresponding question about the illustration
How many clouds did you see? What was the man holding? Are all the flower pots empty?
If you answer correctly you keep the card, and the person with the most cards wins.

That is what the boys will grow into. They aren't quite at that level of play, however they have their own way of playing with it.

Back to that first night, with me laying in misery on the couch and Judah looking through the cards. I didn't give him any instructions as to what he should do, but looking at the cards one by one he went into great detail to tell me the story of each card. I love my boys imagination and I love things that encourage their imagination, and My First Brain Box definitely encourages the imagination!!
Wesley also jumped in on the fun and picked out the cards with illustrations he recognized - various foods, animals and toys. That first night we didn't play with My First Brain Box for long, but I knew we would have tons of fun with it!

Since Wednesday we have played with the game several times. Each time we play it slightly differently.
  • I have laid out 6 cards at a time and asked them to find a particular item. 
  • I have shown Judah 1 card, flipped it over and quizzed him on what he remembered - I was blown away by the fact that he could answer almost all the questions I asked him! 
  • I have shown Judah 1 card and asked him to list everything and every color that he saw. 
  • I have given him a huge stack of cards and asked him to pull out all the cards with animals or with cards or with the sun, etc. 
  • I have shown him 1 or 2 similar cards and asked him to tell me the story behind them. 
  • I have sat with him and gone through all the cards and let him ask me questions about what things are that he doesn't know.
There are so many ways you can vary this game and I really like that as it keeps me from getting bored!!
The cards are very durable, as is the box that they came in. Both important features with little manly men in the house :) I honestly really love this product. We love playing games in this house and this is a great game for our boys!

If you are looking for any last minute Christmas gifts I would highly recommend My First Brain Box. Check out the other educational games offered by Timberdoodle too.

The other item that Timberdoodle sent was a Hot Rocket. This has gotten a ton of attention from Judah - anything that resembles a weapon is super cool in this house. He hasn't gotten the hang of shooting it properly, but that doesn't matter to him. I like that it is made of soft foam so when he gets the hang of shooting it he won't be hurting anything or anyone!

The Hot Rockets sell for $1.95 but Timberdoodle is offering them for free with any other item ordered! Use the coupon code pfreerocket at checkout.

This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Timberdoodle for this review. The thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
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