Let's Get...Domestic - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 07-08-2010, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I never thought I'd use the word domestic as something to which I strive. I realize, though, that if I want to reach my lifestyle goals, that I'm going to have to do more to make DH's income stretch farther. I'd like to have my days free to pursue my artistic endeavors, and right now, we need the money I make. We shouldn't, but we have debt. Once that's paid off, things will be much, much better. I calculated, and we spend 30% of net pay on daily bills. With my student loans (which pretty much seem like an indefinite bill), we are at 41%. If we could get our debts paid off, we could save 25-30% of our income easily & still have money leftover.

One of the analogies that's stuck with me from The Millionaire Next Door is that the vast majority of the households the authors surveyed had a good offense (higher-than-average income) and a good defense (someone - usually the wife - who budgeted like crazy to stretch that income). In our family, we have a good offense but a terrible defense, so that's what I'm trying to do.

So, share your struggles or tips. I'll post more thoughts/questions once I have the kids settled for the night.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#2 of 19 Old 07-08-2010, 09:30 PM
 
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#3 of 19 Old 07-08-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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We have higher than avg income, too... and our only debts are the house and the minivan we just bought (having a third kid required a sizing up). I think we'd have a good defense if we didn't keep getting hit with nasty household costs. Seriously, since last year, we have had very few months where we were in the green. Part of that was paying for the homebirth midwife, who doesn't take our insurance, but just since february we've had to replace our furnace and clothes washer; repair the other car, fridge, toilet, dishwasher, and dryer (although a couple of those, we did ourselves); and paid a number of cat bills for our aging cat who made a slow decline and died in february. It's been INSANE. I'll be looking forward to tips on here

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#4 of 19 Old 07-08-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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Well...I like to think I'm pretty domesticated. cook from scratch, clean a lot, etc.

My biggest tip is to get on a schedule. Mine for example:
Mondays: Wash day - I wash all clothes, sheets, towels - hanging out everything possible
Tuesdays: Ironing (I iron all the hankerchiefs, cloth napkins, dress clothes)
Wednesdays: Decluttering/ironing if needed, clean out the cars
Thursdays: Errand Day - I do ALL errands on this day only. Saves on gas/money too!
Fridays: Cleaning Day - bathrooms, mop floors, disinfect kitchen
Saturday: Clean out fridge/freezer/pantry, plan menus
Sunday: cut out coupons, read ads, make dh's breakfasts for the week

I also do a lot of housework during the week other than the cleaning. I use an all purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth and wipe down the bathroom vanities and toilets and vacuum all the carpets every other day. Every day I have three "hot-spot times" where I walk from one end of the house to the other - visually and then physically getting each room into shape. It is easier for me to start on one end - bathroom counter clean, towels folded for another use or in the dirty hamper, water glasses back to the bathoom, beds made, pjs folded or hampered, toys in their buckets, etc. etc. I guess I'm weird. I do this though once in the morning after my boys are up, dressed fed and settled in for the first "project" of the day, another during naptime right before DH comes home and again before bed. It's nice to wake up to a clean house in the mornings.

I also every other Friday night cut everyone's hair in the garage. A cheap $20 set of clippers has given all three haircuts for two years. That's awful nice.

Hmmm....domestic - cooking too?

I get Chicken cheap at $.29 - $.50 a pound by buying quarters for when I need shredded or fried chicken pieces. Boil it and baggie it for the freezer. I buy nearly ALL my meat on the markdown racks - I struck up a friendship with the meat man at our supermarket - if I need meat on errand day I'll look at the sell by dates on the meat I need - go back on that day and usually can ask for meat to be reduced for me. This way I get ground beef for $.30 a pound and the above mentioned chicken. We eat steak probably twice a month too - $2 a pound is my limit on meat - usually purchased at Sam's where they mark their meats down in the mornings as well.

I don't buy any desserts for lunches either - it's easy to make a pan of brownies or batch of cookies and repackage them two or three to a baggie.

I'm too tired to think of much else right now, lol.
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#5 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Seriously, since last year, we have had very few months where we were in the green...It's been INSANE.
That's kind of how things are for us right now. We've just had lots of money drains at once, which I know everyone says is "life," but it sure feels like it hits us all the time.

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My biggest tip is to get on a schedule.
This is probably my biggest issue. We are making some significant family changes this year, and I'm hoping we can get on a schedule. I had DC on different school schedules, which was a nightmare. Plus with both of them in dance & soccer & the civic commitments DH & I have, it got ridiculous. So the kids aren't doing any activities this year. I organize an arts event & am on the board of a pedestrian/bicyclist advocacy group that I will stay with but minimize the time they take. So I'm hoping that will help a lot with coming up with a schedule.

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Every day I have three "hot-spot times" where I walk from one end of the house to the other - visually and then physically getting each room into shape.
I always like this idea, but we're not good at keeping up with it. I'll have to re-think a way that makes it practical for us. Honestly we worked on the kids' rooms this summer, and they've stayed really clean with just having them do a once-over everyday. If DH & I did that with the living room & dining room even, then I'd *feel* better about the house, which is part of why we leave for entertainment all the time.

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I also every other Friday night cut everyone's hair in the garage. A cheap $20 set of clippers has given all three haircuts for two years. That's awful nice.
I want to cut everyone's hair. DH will probably panic, but he can go get his done. I can cut the kids, but I don't know about mine. I know DH won't cut it, and I keep it short. Still we could save some by doing the kids' hair.

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I get Chicken cheap at $.29 - $.50 a pound by buying quarters for when I need shredded or fried chicken pieces. Boil it and baggie it for the freezer.
I like this idea! We actually don't even have a freezer, but it's on my list of things to get in the next little while. I think this would help out a lot.

I actually really enjoy cooking, but it's just the time that doesn't work for me. I feel rushed everyday, so I'm working on figuring all of that out.

I used to have a limit on what I'd spend on meat, but I've lifted that. I do try to save on groceries by doing things like making my own taco seasonings rather than buying the packets, since we have a fully stocked spice cabinet.

I keep reading about getting free products through pharmacies using the reward "bucks" systems, but I've not done it. That's something I'd like to consider doing that I think could save us some money. We don't use tons of toiletries, but it could help.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#6 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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The things I get the most "return" on are:

~Cut your electric bill. I hang drying our laundry, we have 6 people in our family, 1 in FT cloth diapers, so we do a lot of laundry. Be conscious of lights that are on, push your A/C temp up and your heat temp down, use passive solar if you can.

~meal plan. I can really see the difference in our food budget when I consistently meal plan.

~buy the basics in bulk. We buy our beef by the side straight from the farm (grass fed meat from clean sources is important to us). I belong to a natural foods co-op and am able to buy my wheat berries (I grind my own), oats, sucanat, maple syrup, nuts, quality cheese, etc for a considerable discount over buying from the supermarket. We also belong to Costco and buy some things in bulk there, too.

~Stay home and don't spend. I joined the "No Spend Challenge" thread and strive not to spend anything during the month, keeping myself accountable to the ladies on the thread. I try to make it a game, how many "no drive" days can I have (with 4 kids, we drive a Suburban, I don't like filling it with gas) How many days can DH and I stay out of the stores and hold tight to the $$.

~Reuse everything. Well, maybe not everything, but think outside the box on how to reuse things. I reuse glass jars for food storage, craft storage, etc. I cut up cereal boxes into magazine holders ala this. I also use the holders for storing my sewing patterns. I reused clementine crates as kids' craft storage. They stack nicely on each other and take up little space.

~Buy second hand, accept hand me downs, but know what you have. Having a huge box of second hand clothes doesn't do you any good if you don't know what's in there, you forget about them, and they just sit in your attic.

~I cut everyone's hair but my own. I get mine cut 2x/yr, at most 3x.

That's all I can think of right now.

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#7 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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I am on a domestic kick lately too. I notice that I am a much better housekeeper when I am doing a no-spend challenge. Something about being mindful with our money makes me more mindful of our home. Or maybe it is that I have no money to spend, so we spend a lot of time at home.


I am a total overlord when it comes to our money. I guard it! It makes me feel that the work I do at home is valuable and needed in our family. Dh makes the money and I manage it. It reminds me of an Elizabethan book where the housekeeper would jealously guard her collection of keys to the family larders. I have my metaphorical keys jingling to constantly remind me to take care of our precious budget.

Because of my vigilance, we have been able to live on one income, homeschool our kids, pay off our debt and start building savings.

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#8 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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Thought of another-

~increase your skill set. I can knit, sew, needle and wet felt, cook, put food by, quilt, make candles, make our herbal balms, I'm learning to make soap, etc. All these things have saved us $$ over the years.

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#9 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thought of another-

~increase your skill set. I can knit, sew, needle and wet felt, cook, put food by, quilt, make candles, make our herbal balms, I'm learning to make soap, etc. All these things have saved us $$ over the years.
This is definitely an area where I need to improve. I don't know how to do any needle crafts. I'm going to start working on some of the other things - soap-making, candle-making, etc.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#10 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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Thought of another-

~increase your skill set. I can knit, sew, needle and wet felt, cook, put food by, quilt, make candles, make our herbal balms, I'm learning to make soap, etc. All these things have saved us $$ over the years.
nak
How do knitting/sewing/felting save you money? When I was doing more sewing, I found that it came to abt the same as buying things 2nd hand or on sale and it's way less work for me to just buy it. And what types of knit things do you make that save $ as well?

Just curious! i found my crafty skills cost me more

Thanks in advance!

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#11 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As the person who doesn't craft but thinks about it...

sewing would allow us to get more use out of our clothes. In particular, my jeans tend to get holes, and sewing them up or patching would be cheaper than buying a new pair. The same thing goes for buttons, hems, etc. I pay someone to do those things now.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#12 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 11:53 AM
 
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nak
How do knitting/sewing/felting save you money? When I was doing more sewing, I found that it came to abt the same as buying things 2nd hand or on sale and it's way less work for me to just buy it. And what types of knit things do you make that save $ as well?

Just curious! i found my crafty skills cost me more

Thanks in advance!
I would think re-purposing fabric you already have would save. Knitting saved me money on baby longies...

craft abilities definitely save me because I can repair clothes, too... sew ripped seams, etc

oh, eta... the quality of the things I knit is higher than what I could get for the same price, too... plus, i like it... so it's like 2 costs (clothes plus hobby) for one price.

Jenna ~ mommy to Sophia Elise idea.gif  (1/06), Oliver Matthew  blahblah.gif (7/07) and Avery Michael fly-by-nursing1.gif(3/10)

 

dizzy.gif Wading slowly and nervously into this homeschooling thing.

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#13 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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I would think re-purposing fabric you already have would save. Knitting saved me money on baby longies...

craft abilities definitely save me because I can repair clothes, too... sew ripped seams, etc

oh, eta... the quality of the things I knit is higher than what I could get for the same price, too... plus, i like it... so it's like 2 costs (clothes plus hobby) for one price.
I've repurposed DH's dress shirts into dresses for my DDs. I've repurposed his old dockers that were wearing in the crotch seam into shorts for my DS. I've taken worn sheets, torn them into strips and knitted a bath rug that is so comfy under the feet, everyone wonders where I bought it I've repurposed old stain t-shirts into diapers and play shorts for the kids, I'm in the process of making a denim quilt from jeans that are beyond saving.

I only buy fabric on sale, and like stocking up on food, I stock up on basic fabrics; muslin, corduroy, different solid knits, flannels, etc. When my kids need clothes, we can go down to my studio, pick some fabrics and I sew them what they need. 95% of the time, I make their clothes for cheaper than I would have bought them, even on sale or second hand (the thrift shops/ consignment shops around here are expensive). The other 5% are specialty items I've made, like matching Christmas pjs with special appliques. When their clothes have worn out, I repurpose the fabric into something else, like family wipes, bean bags, or I use it as stuffing for draft dodgers or toys. I also buy remnants b/c my kids don't require too much yardage for their clothing, yet, and the remnants are always 50% off at my JoAnn fabrics.

2yrs ago I bought stretch corduroy fabric for very cheap. I bought a pants pattern for *me* and made myself corduroy pants that fit me perfectly, and cost me less than $5, brand new. In May, I bought some bathing suit yardage from a children's boutique line, that are classic prints, nothing "trendy". I'm able to make DD1 a modest bathing suit, fitted to her body shape with modifications that DH and I prefer, for less then $5.

Like some people see food storage as important, I think of fabric (and yarn) the same way. I buy quality yarn and fabric in bulk so that when I need it, I have it. I don't need to scour thrift shops for a particular size (I don't know about you, but finding boys size 5 corduroys in great condition for less than $5 is HARD). I'm able to whip up a last minute gift (that my kids can help with) for next to nothing because I can use scraps. I'm able to have clothes for myself, that fit me perfectly because I can modify the pattern and I don't have to pay a tailor.

My newest endeavor is going to be buying wool jersay yardage to make woolen undergarments. Even with group buy pricing, I'm finding that to outfit my family in just wool undershirts for the winter is going to cost almost $300. I can buy the fabric myself and sew the undergarments for less than $100. That's pretty significant savings if you ask me

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#14 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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nak
How do knitting/sewing/felting save you money? When I was doing more sewing, I found that it came to abt the same as buying things 2nd hand or on sale and it's way less work for me to just buy it. And what types of knit things do you make that save $ as well?

Just curious! i found my crafty skills cost me more

Thanks in advance!
Firstly (is that a word??), we prefer natural materials for our clothing. I knit my kids 100% wool mittens, 100% wool scarves, and 100% wool hats from humanely raised sheep. This is important to us, and to buy an equitable finished product from someone would cost at least 2x as much.

For Advent this past year I made my children felted slippers, like these . This is the only creator of slippers like these I have found, and to outfit my 4 children in them would be $170 I bought wool batting in bulk, dyed my own, bought the tutorial that the WAHM has available, and made slippers for my kids for about $10/pr. including needle felted designs customized to the delights of my kids.

And let's not forget the most important savings, for me, crafting, sewing, knitting, etc, has been cheaper than any relaxation therapy (which I would need quite a bit of having 4 kids under 6yo and homeschooling 2 of them right now)

ETA~ while your point of less work just buying something already made is very true, I also crave the creative process I go through in making these things and the outpouring of love I feel making them for my loved ones.

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#15 of 19 Old 07-09-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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I actually really enjoy cooking, but it's just the time that doesn't work for me. I feel rushed everyday, so I'm working on figuring all of that out.
I actually WOH every day and what has worked for me (in addition to the crock pot), is preparing a meal in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. Like putting together a meat loaf or lasagne, and putting it in the oven the next morning before I go to work. Then, I just reheat in the evening. I'll also prepare side dishes in the evening after bed time and just reheat for dinner. I make them in large enough quantities where I could either freeze some of it (if it freezes ok) or serve it with dinner over a couple of evenings and switch it up with a different side of fresh seasonal veggies that require no cooking.

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#16 of 19 Old 07-10-2010, 12:19 AM
 
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Are you a morning person or a night person? I ask because I realized that I had been trying to do the whole "evening routine" thing in the evening before and after my husband would get home from work around 11 pm. I would get everything done except the kitchen and then I'd be simply too tired. Well, I'd stay up online to take a break after supper and then try to clean the kitchen. This was disasterous in many ways. So I decided that I would be fine with leaving the kitchen dirty in the evenings even if it is depressing to walk into a dirty kitchen the next day. This allowed me to get to bed earlier, wake up earlier and be ready to tackle chores in the morning before heading out to work. Before, I would wake up late not clean up after breakfast, rush out and come home without any idea what I was going to cook for supper and a dirty kitchen to boot. Now, I prep the next day's meal as much as I can as I finish prepping supper (whether its a quick supper, side dishes, or I usually always have a fermented drink that needs to be restarted, etc), stick everything in the crock pot in the morning before work after the breakfast dishes are done and the day goes a lot smoother. If I were an evening person, I would stay up later and get as much done as I could before bed and leave as little as possible for the morning.

As far as saving money goes: what are your actual drains on the budget? I know that previously, when I had disposable income, I would get on these "money saving binges" (DH dubbed them this) and would decide that I would save money by learning a craft (and investing in the start up costs), or make my own detergent (and not cook supper that evening because I was too busy figuring out how to do so, requiring getting a pizza delivered), spend my day meal planning & budgeting and once again not have supper ready. Kind of silly, but true.

Also, I've found that meal planning does not work for me. I used to come up with these incredible meal plans and then end up spending more on groceries because my meals required ingredients that were out of our budget or because the meals involved complicated recipes that didn't fit my schedule or were otherwise inappropriate. So, I started cooking off the cuff with pantry items. I shop once a week, have a large bulk pantry, and regularly read cookbooks for inspiration and to learn "how to cook:" how tastes and textures fit together, what makes a good pasta sauce and what's better roasted, etc. But, when it comes to cooking I'll look in my refrigerator the night before, try to use up our CSA and decide what the next day's meals will be. That way I can put grains to soak for the next day's breakfast, see if I will need to bake another batch of bread and feed my sourdough, soak beans, transfer meat from the freezer to the refrigerator, then chop up any ingredients that I'll need the next day so that everything is ready to go. Once a week I have a cooking day when I make broth, pancakes, snacks for the week, etc. It's been working out great and our food budget is the lowest it has ever been. And I'll be honest, it's a lot more fun that way. It makes me feel like I'm back in Europe where I could go to the market in the morning and decide what I'd have for supper that evening, even though I'm "shopping" from my pantry rather than the market.

For sewing and crafts start very simply. Though I had learned to sew when I was a kid, to remind myself I got a book of simple stitches and mending. It has been great. I found it at HalfPrice for I think $4 and since then, I've fixed my own hems, mended DH's shirts, etc. I don't have the book in front of me and can't remember the title but when we get home I'll PM it to you. I've actually found that shopping for clothes on ebay or diaper swappers, etc. is much cheaper than anything I could sew. I've found wonderful designer clothes for me (like a Donna Karan skirt for $0.99) and great stuff for Ladybug simply by keeping my eyes on ebay and waiting for the right deal to come along.

For knitting/crocheting I tend to buy cheap and stock up on yarn and stuff too. However, that's actually backfired. When I have a new project in my mind, I find that I just don't want to work with the yarn I have on hand, so I end up buying new yarn anyway. Though I've saved money with knitting wool soakers for cloth dipes, I've saved even more money with repurposing sweaters for that purpose. If you are serious about yarn crafts though, go ahead and invest in a set of interchangeable needles like the ones sold by knitpicks. They will last you for many different projects and you'll spend much less money long term.

About hot spots. I've limited their number. Quite simply, when I see things gathering someplace, I'll move them to a designated hot spot. We have two in our home and that's the limit I keep it at. If I see stuff on the kitchen table, I simply move them to my desk. Ditto for dirty clothes, rather than sorting them I stick them in one hamper. This may not be as efficient as dealing with the items right away, but I find that simply not having clutter in my sight helps me keep order in my household (and believe me, I am a major messy and was desperate only a few short months ago). So, I have no qualms about "cleaning" by putting everything in a box and hiding it until I know I'll have fifteen or even thirty minutes to go through it.

As far as scheduling goes, I do have an ideal schedule, but then there's real life. If I don't get to laundry on Monday, I don't iron on Tuesday and do the laundry then. I then don't iron again till the following Tuesday (DH either irons himself or wears a wrinkle free but not crisp shirt). There are tasks that I know can be moved around (like ironing) and then there are tasks that really should be done regularly to prevent other systems from falling apart (like marketing and laundry). Actually, food and clean clothes are my priority now: I will let other things go on busy weeks but I make sure we have laundry done (even if it's not sorted) and meals cooked. I learned that here. Can't find the exact article right now, but the entire site is simply a treasure trove of real life help.

Good luck!
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#17 of 19 Old 07-10-2010, 11:30 AM
 
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I find that I can save a bunch of money by menu planning. I try to keep in mind what's on our schedule for the upcoming week before deciding on meals I'm going to make, and I always have a few really simple meals planned (avocado, spinach, tomato, and cheese sandwiches; breakfast for dinner; pasta w/homemade marinara sauce or fresh-basil pesto; peanut butter and honey sandwiches; etc.). I keep my pantry stocked with dried beans and grains and try to draw from them. I check my freezer/fridge before shopping, and when I shop, I stick to my list. Now that I've been living in this area for more than a year, I have a good idea where I can get which items cheapest. On any given Saturday, I might go to any combination of 4 different places for groceries: our food co-op for bulk stuff; Whole Foods for specialty items and some bulk items that are cheapest there; the local grocery store for pasta and tinned tomatoes and milk; and the corner fruit market for produce.

I have a great list of some cheap meals that I can PM you later. I'm off to grocery shop with my son now!
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#18 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 04:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ltlmrs View Post

For sewing and crafts start very simply. Though I had learned to sew when I was a kid, to remind myself I got a book of simple stitches and mending. It has been great. I found it at HalfPrice for I think $4 and since then, I've fixed my own hems, mended DH's shirts, etc. I don't have the book in front of me and can't remember the title but when we get home I'll PM it to you.
I would love to know the title of the book as well. I try to do basic mending for the family but it never looks quite right. I just know there is probably a better way to do some of these things!

I love Edward and we love our Libby (8/07) waterbirth.jpg and 'Nana' (05/09 )h20homebirth.gif and Eowyn (11/11) waterbirth.jpg  We are having a blast bfinfant.giffemalesling.GIFfamilybed1.gifcd.gif and homeschool.gif.

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#19 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 06:51 PM
 
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Thanks for the responses. I did buy over $300 worth of fabric last year when the shop was going out of business, for about $70 :

I am in major creative mode right now (as I am after every baby--just had #4), but I really got into 'special' items before, like fancy dresses for our holidays, but yes, as someone mentioned modest clothing, that's super important to us and as our girls are getting older it's harder to find in stores. I guess, though I love the process, I'm just a little overwhelmed still with new baby/4kids/homeschooling. I did make a pouch sling yeterday though from my fabric stash and hemmed a scarf which I was planning to take to a seamstress I know, so I guess I am saving some money

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