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Old 09-12-2004, 09:34 PM
 
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I'm going to start my index cards this week

My frugal find of the week was GOOD wine for $3.39 at Trader Joe's!

Spiral Chrissy, loving my life treehugger.gifread.gifhippie.gif, Mama to DS bouncy.gif (8/6/03), wife to DH guitar.gif, and hoping for another little bean dust.gifnamaste.gif
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Old 09-13-2004, 02:25 AM
 
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Hi Mamas!

Hope you won't mind me jumping into your thread. I have recently been granted my heart's desire and am a full time SAHM! This gift comes with the necessity to cut *all* unnecessary expenses. I got a huge severance package from my old job, which I think could last us 2 years if we really cut back on our expenses. This is in addition to DH's modest-to-moderate salary. I am up for the challenge and adventure of being frugal in return for being home with my DDs. Here's the big issue for me, though: I really want to be able to give people presents on special occasions. For example, our friends have a 3 month old DS and are hosting a Red Egg & Ginger party for him. It's a Chinese tradition and is similar to a baby shower. I got them a Hotsling. It cost $41 including shipping. When I was a WOHM, that would have been no problem but it hit me... If I continue to buy gifts for every occasion for my dear friends and family, it has the potential to cut into my ability to stay home with my DDs.

So what ideas do you creative women have? Do you give gifts, and if so, how do you balance your generosity with frugality? Ugh, and here comes Christmas!!

Help me put this into perspective...

Yours,
CurlyTop
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Old 09-13-2004, 02:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CindyC
We will be doing homemade gifts for Christmas.
Like what? Please, tell me
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Old 09-13-2004, 11:24 AM
 
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I make 99.9% of all our gifts. I am always scouting yard sales for fabric, mason jars and yarn. Then I quilt, recreate clothing (i.e. patchwork ds' old overalls for a little girl), put together various recipes in a jar and crochet.

For example for a recent wedding, I crocheted an art afgan, using various colors of similar weight yarns found at yard sales or from my stash (I love picking through yarn store orphans) at the end of seasons. While at the craft store, I found a small wooden trunk for less than $6. I would have spent more than that on a new bigger sized gift bag. The whole wool and mohair afgan, including card and wrapping cost less than $50 for a $300 - $500 piece (I sell at the occasion faire, so I know). That is the most I have paid on a gift in a couple of years.

My family of 3 (plus pup) Indigo (Aimee), Rob (dp), Ryne (ds) & Phebe (dog), plus my BIL's family of 3.

 
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Old 09-13-2004, 11:49 AM
 
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Fine for people who know how to sew, knit, crochet, etc. I don't do any of those things. The holidays are too close for someone to learn these skills. I just start shopping early to find good deals before the holiday rush.
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Old 09-13-2004, 02:30 PM
 
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Hi guys, I am catching up here.
The earlier poster who had trouble finding someone to pick up their freecycle stuff has my sympathy. Of the 5 lots I have freecycled, 3 didn't show and 1 took almost 3 weeks. Now, we are moving in 3 weeks, so I am thinking that I may have to donate all of my junk to the MCC thrift store.

My Sally Ann put all of the summer kids clothes on clearance at 10c-25c each! Ok, I have no idea how the perfectly fitting corduroy overalls for DS qualified as summer, but for 15c, I am not complaining. I also picked up a Mountain Equipment Co-Op jacket for him for the winter for $5 at the store. Even Zellers (CDN Target) sells their winter coats for $55 for a size 5-6.

I wandered down to my neighbor's garage sale yesterday, and for a Little Tikes cube with a slide for $15! Yaaay me! Our new house can't have any fixed playground equipment and we can easily set this up in the basement for the winter. I know, not necessary, but we had been planning to get DS something similar for Christmas.

Well, I didn't do so good finding frugal housing for us, now that we are moving back home. We drove around and looked at all of the cheaper places to live and, well, there is a reason they are so cheap. So, given the option of a townhouse at $675 plus utilities, or a larger townhouse with a pool at $860 including utilities, we opted for the larger one. I am such a snob when it comes to housing anyways. I am home all.the.time so I need somewhere decent to live.

As for non-crafty gift-giving, I relaize that not everyone on my gift list appreciates hand-knit socks, Dr Who scarves or needle rolls. For those naysayers I go shopping in the best frugal tradition. My SIL loves stripey socks, which will run about $5-15 per pair at Christmas time. But, in March when the winter stuff is being cleared out, they go on clearance for $1-3 each pair. This year, i bought her 7 pairs of striped socks, a matching toque and gloves too, and the total cost was $12.
This is just one example. now, it may be too late for Christmas for a lot of you this year, but look around! Sometimes you will find the perfect bargain. I keep a list of who I have purchased a gift for, who is still in need of one, and what I got.
Also, for Christmas my mom and I are trying to convince the boys that we should have a gift exchange, with a spending limit of $50 or $75. See, my family is huge, and at $20 per person (not including DS, I am such a sucker for toys) I spent just over $400 last year on gifts.
Curly Top, do you sew at all? Chinese traditions deserve traditional chinese stuff (so i say, anyways.) My cousin just had her second, who's paternal family is a very traditional chinese one. I made her one of these: http://webpages.charter.net/dshiel0742/FrankenKozy.htm out of a gorgeous brocade that was on sale, and some twill I had bought for $2/meter for some forgotten purpose. Total cost? $8. She thought it was pretty cool, her MIL just adored it, ad was so excited someone would give her a traditional carrier.
Gift baskets are good too. $5 worth of specialty coffee, a couple fancy tea bags (or loose tea, depending on recipient), home made shortbread cookies all arranged on tissue paper in a thrift shop basket look surprisingly similar to the $30 baskets in Starbucks. I also use my air miles to get Starbucks gift cards to tuck in there. I doubt I will be doing that this year though, ebcause I *will* get my mixer. Oh yes, i will.
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Old 09-13-2004, 02:51 PM
 
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Last year we asked some of our best friends to forgo the gift giving. Instead, we made sure we spent some time at the holidays doing something festive together--going ice skating, seeing a Xmas movie, dinner at home with Xmas carols, etc. People really seemed to appreciate that idea and I got to see more of my friends . Also, I'm in couple of groups. One group exchanges Xmas ornaments which are pretty reasonable. For the other group, we decided to skip all birthday and Xmas gifts. Instead we pulled our $ and stayed a night at a bed and breakfast. It was great!! And I'm sure I saved a lot of $$!
Good luck!!

Welcome Curly!
Chrissy

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Old 09-13-2004, 03:05 PM
 
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[QUOTE=SpiralChrissy]Last year we asked some of our best friends to forgo the gift giving. Instead, we made sure we spent some time at the holidays doing something festive together--going ice skating, seeing a Xmas movie, dinner at home with Xmas carols, etc. People really seemed to appreciate that idea and I got to see more of my friends .

What great ideas! I admit I get a little nuts around Xmas, (solstice) but I concentrate on "doing" instead of "getting". There are tons of holiday related activities here that are free.

Most people have way too much stuff anyway...
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Old 09-13-2004, 05:59 PM
 
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We were broke last Christmas, so all our friends got a jar of vanilla sugar. Get a nice airtight jar from the dollar store. Fill with sugar. Put one vanilla bean into it. Leave for a month, and giftwrap. The expensive part was the vanilla beans, but the jars all smelled so nice when they got opened.
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Old 09-13-2004, 11:02 PM
 
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I too love gift-giving, and am always trying to find cheaper ways to be generous! A couple of ideas I use are:
TIME over stuff - so "dates" somewhere, or I have a friend with a 7-year-old so I'm going to have a sewing date with her, and show her how to sew a shirt for herself, etc.

Little gifts all year long - so when someone finds out they're pregnant, I send some loose-leaf tea and bake some triple ginger cookies. When someone starts solids, I write out recipes we like, and homemake food. Someone is sick, I drop off a pot of homemade soup. Then for birthdays and Christmas I don't feel bad just giving a little, and I think the other gift giving all year long stands out more - when you're opening a million gifts at one time, its hard for one to stand out!!! Someone gave me a homemade card and a packet of seeds to grow a butterfly garden for my birthday, and I loved it!

Tap into your imagination and imagine stuff you loved as a kid - a couple of kids gifts I've given is a small bag with rocks that I painted with symbols on them, a funky pine cone and a jar of sand, and then sewed on a dragon on the bag - and went with a wizard theme for the kid. Or a necklace made out of beach finds, and wrote about searching for mermaids, etc.

I've given scrapbook calendars, camping recipes in a laminated cookbook, canned foods with recipes, burned CD's of the music we love, etc. I just find that it takes a lot more time and sometimes I'd rather just buy something as I don't have enough time!!!

Living life as fully as we can, with our three fellow adventure-seekers ~ K (2000), T (2003) and R (2007).  
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Old 09-14-2004, 01:50 PM
 
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Great Ideas!! 2

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Old 09-14-2004, 01:55 PM
 
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Here is my question.

There are awesome deals at the various (and plentiful) thrift stores around...but with a 3 month old and a 3 year old (and a 10 year old at school) HOW can I find the time to actually check them out regularly AND stay on top of everything else? SHOOT!! I just can't do it. Am I doing something wrong? Suggestions?? When exactly are you mamas finding the time to thrift?
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Old 09-14-2004, 02:17 PM
 
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I set aside time every Thursday, and I go do my errands out the way of the good thrift stores. The Salvation Army here has a play gym thing, which my 2 year old plays on while I scour the clearance racks right beside it.
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Old 09-15-2004, 09:02 PM
 
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I shop when my DH has my DS.

I have a question. We LOVE to eat out. Now that today was DH"s last day at work, we're going to have to seriously cut our dining expenses. Anyone have a good resource for finding restaurant discounts or freebies?? I hate to give up my little obsession completely! Help!

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Old 09-15-2004, 10:13 PM
 
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Mamaof3~ I have a 4yo and 1yo and we've always gone with pretty much no problems. Just have the sling and make sure they're child-friendly.. you know, not going to jump on you if your child touches something. We just came back from Boulder and did some major thrifting there, and there were some thrift employees who didn't want my kids playing with the toys, but I just made sure to let them see me picking up all the toys after them, and hear me telling them to also help pick up when they're done playing.

SpiralChrissy~ Have you thought about being a Secret Shopper? On the WAHM boards (I think that's the one) you could make a post or do a search for it, b/c I know I've seen good recommendations for reputable companies. Alot won't pay you, but will reimburse you.

A thought about gift-giving~ Did someone mention food, and I didn't see it? I do have sewing & some crafting skills, but don't find many uses for those beyond children's things. We have made LOTS of food gifts, though. From just plain ole' sweets, to canned jams & fruits, to roasted nuts. There are lots of options along these lines, and lots of books at the library with ideas. Also the Tightwad Gazette has excellent ideas for food gifts (and other cheap/homemade gifts).

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Old 09-16-2004, 02:11 PM
 
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I just got a copy of the Complete Tightwad and I'm loving it. Some things I can't picture myself doing though...like "refrigerator stew" I don't think I could eat that. LOL

I'm giving my accidently bought second copy to my MIL for her bday. I've got three bdays in Dec on top of Christmas. UGH!

Hubby and I don't get each other gifts for the holidays unless it's something we need for the house. For example he's getting a power washer for our anniversary cause we need one to clean our house.

I forgot to add that I went to a rumage sale and bought 1 pound bags of crushed walnuts for 50 cents a bag. I was pumped!
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Old 09-19-2004, 05:10 PM
 
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Are there any frugal mamas here who live in cold climates, who need to insulate their homes/ save on heating expenses?

We have a couple broken windows and many broken storm windows. Replacing them all before winter isn't an option. Any ideas about cheap insulation?

Last year I stuffed garbage bags in the cracks around the sills.

I have seen some people pile bags of leaves around the base of the house.

Has anyone tried the plastic window shrink wrap stuff?

We are also thinking of using a space heater in one or two rooms instead of cranking the thermstat up-- in our house either the heat is on in every room, or not on at all.

I know space heaters can be dangerous, so we would take every precaution.
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Old 09-19-2004, 07:32 PM
 
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Welive in Canada, and have survived some awfully chilly places (cinderblock walls w/o insulation etc)
Over said walls, and the single-paned windows, we hung insulated curtains and quilts. The insulated curtains were the absolute ugliest things I have ever seen in my life, being gold velour from the thrift shop, but they did the trick. Plus, for $5 i got enough of them to cover that whole wall. The quilts werte just scavenged quilts from around, and I sewed ties on one end so that I could hang them from curtain rods. During the day, I opened them up and let a little light into my dark apartment.
Obviously, replacing as many broken windows as posssible before the cold hits is the best option, though.
Vanessa, refrigerator stew isn't as ad as it sounds, especially if you do it like I do. Meat goes in one bucket, veggies (rinsed) in the other. So, when I am mkaking some stew, i will add the frozen and pre-cooked carrots, peas and corn to whatever else I am cooking. It also helps if you stick to a few basic spices for most of your cooking. I mean, if I make 4 dishes that are spices with basil, lemon, garlic and pepper, then when they are mixerd together it doesn't seem like such dog food.
Of course, usually leftovers get eaten as lunches around here anyways,
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Old 09-19-2004, 07:56 PM
 
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I used the plastic window shrink-wrap stuff in college -- I picked the biggest bedroom in our group house only to learn there was no heat register in it! it does work pretty well but it can be hard to put up, and I'm not sure how it would do with broken windows. Worth a try though -- good luck. I hate to be cold, too.
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Old 09-19-2004, 08:44 PM
 
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the plastic shrink wrap stuff can be ok...but i am far too clumsy to use it! i have used a variety of methods to deal with drafty/broken windows...but the best has been to make a frame out of thin wood (like a picture frame) and staple on see thru plastic of some kind...fasten on to or around window using hooks/nails/whatever...like a screen..this can them be removed when it warms up. if very poor i just put cardboard up at the window. in my last place my window in my bedroom had cardboard in it for the whole time i lived there...its cold all year round here in england!
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Old 09-19-2004, 08:49 PM
 
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Our house is over 120 years old and has never been insulated properly. We do a combo of shrink wrapping the windows and hanging quilts over doors and outside walls where needed. It works pretty good for us. You can definitely tell the difference.

Course our dream is to insulate the walls when we replace the crumbling plaster with sheet rock. Unless we win the lottery and can afford to do plaster, LOL.

My family of 3 (plus pup) Indigo (Aimee), Rob (dp), Ryne (ds) & Phebe (dog), plus my BIL's family of 3.

 
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Old 09-20-2004, 01:12 PM
 
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Oh, I had one more thought for you. Do you have a salvage yard nearby? Habitat for Humanity runs a used building materials shop here, and they sell used single-pane windows for $5 and up. Even if you can't find one in the appropritate size, maybe you could replace the glass in the broken windows with glass from a larger window?
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CurlyTop
Like what? Please, tell me
I'm thinking of doing candy, cookies, things like that. I might put together those cookies-in-a-jar mixes. Our family always makes tamales every year to give away at Christmas time. I never thought of them as gifts before, but now I will.
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Old 09-20-2004, 06:49 PM
 
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09-07-2004, 05:22 AM #53
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The BEST dumpsters I've EVER found were college ones at the end of the school year. Textbooks, clothes, random odd things (we got a couple gorgeous vases, and a box of about 30 pewter statuettes - wizards and dragons) .. and our entire living room set. Also got DD's dresser, a large area rug, and end tables .. because most college kids get 'em cheap during the year, then don't want to lug them home for the summer.
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Hehe D&D miniatures!!!! woooooooow! those are so expensive. hehe
My husband and i agree .. that is the BEST dumpster find EVER!
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Old 09-20-2004, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our house is rundown & uninsulated, and the property owner refuses to do anything about it even though actual *breezes* coming out from under the kitchen sink is obviously NOT "reasonably weatherproof"

One of the first things we did was hang blankets. Find the most reasonably attractive twin blankets you can at the thrift, or rummage sales or whatever. Then you can either nail them directly in place, or sew loops along one edge and hang them on a curtain rod. Put one over every door & doorway in the house. If you can, put *two* over each external door. You'll be shocked at how much this cuts down on drafts & chills.

Also hardware stores sell "draft stoppers" that screw onto the bottoms of doors; they have a rubber flap that "sweeps" the floor & seals any gap down there. People used to use long narrow sandbags laid up against the bottoms of doors. that gets inconvenient fast, though, as every time you go through a door it gets displaced.

This winter I might hang blankets over the windows too, or heavy fabric, if I can find decent looking stuff for cheap. I'm thinking I'd fasten them at each upper corner with a loop over a hook and during the day unhook one corner so it just swings down & hangs along one side of the window. Wait, DD will be pulling up by then. Hmmmmm ...

I second the suggestion about salvage yards. If you can't do that, then layers of cardboard & duct tape might work? Ugly tho.

We cruise our port district in autumn for free broken pallets and chunks of wood. They're fuel for our fireplace, which cuts down on the amount of electricity we use. We never get anywhere near enough for *all* winter, of course, but enough for quite a few cozy evenings with the heaters turned off.

Oh, and buy everyone several pairs of thick, sturdy socks and a cozy bathrobe! And plan on cooking a lot of meals in the oven!
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Old 09-21-2004, 02:53 PM
 
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Hi all!

Per my sig, I'm a newly minted WAHM consultant. I'm on comissions, so it looks like I'm going to be income-less for about a month or two, right as the holidays hit. For our families, holidays also include several immediate family member b'days, so it's particularly hard.

Fortunately, we've been impoverished for several years now, as DH was a SAHD, then I was in grad school. Our friends and families are accustomed to home-made, cheap gifts. I wanted to share a great holiday gift we made one year, though - fruit cordials. All the ingredients cost us about $15 and we made enough to give a TON.

1 qt. vodka
4 c. sugar
1 lb. dried peaches chopped OR 1 lb. dried cranberries OR 1 lb. dried sweet cherries
1/2 c. chopped crystallized ginger (ONLY FOR PEACHES)

In a 3-4 qt. saucpan,combine vodka and sugar. Stir over med. heat until 125-130 degrees (5 min.). Watch it carefully so fumes don't ignite.

Place dried fruit (and ginger if using) in a widemouth glass jar (at least 2 qt.). Pour in hot vodka mixture. Seal airtight. (If seal is rubber or synthetic rubber, cover glass top w/ platic wrap to protect seal.) Let stand at least 1 week, up to 2 months.

Line a strainer w/ 4 layers of damp cheesecloth and set over an 8 c. glass bowl or measuring cup w/ spout. Pour liqueur and fruit into strainer a bit at a time. When fruit is no longer dripping, save for other uses; wrap airtight and refrigerate up to 3 months (divine over vanilla ice cream or angel food cake!).

Pour liqueur into small bottles, seal airtight and give away! The cranberry cordial is a beautiful red color and wonderful for Xmas!

Enjoy!

ex-Californian, making my way on the East Coast with DS (10), DS (6) and WAHDH. Former extended BF'er, co-sleeper, and baby-wearer. Remembering how to garden.

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Old 09-21-2004, 02:55 PM
 
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Oh, I just have to share my great scavenge! I found a little red trike on Freecycle and DS has been begging for a tricycle lately! His b'day is coming up, so now we're set - for FREE!!!

Yay!

ex-Californian, making my way on the East Coast with DS (10), DS (6) and WAHDH. Former extended BF'er, co-sleeper, and baby-wearer. Remembering how to garden.

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Old 09-26-2004, 12:22 AM
 
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hey everyone! We drove through the entire town today and only found 6 yardsales. I guess it's winding down. But we found a juicer NIB for $4.
Does anyone here have a soy milk maker? I am looking to get one, but want to talk to someone who has one. I checked out yahoo groups for this sort of thing and there were only groups dedicated to specific brands that were moderated, so you couldn't say anything negative. Or if anyone knows of a good site for quality reviews, etc for this type of thing. thanks!

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Old 09-26-2004, 07:41 PM
 
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I was thrilled by my find last week!! Found great table clothes (for dining room tables) at less than $5 each. Great designs...they will make wonderful X-mas presents for my in-laws and some of my cousins. I live overseas though so I found them locally

I'm half done with my X mas shopping this year thanks to the table clothes (got 8 of them!!).

Xela
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Old 10-04-2004, 11:33 AM
 
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Hi everyone!
Love all the ideas
mmgarda-definetly going to try the cranberry cordial recipe-sounds wonderful!
I do the freecycling thing as well-sometimes its hard to get to a post in time. But I got a Queen size mattress and boxspring from a lady that said they only used it for their spare bedroom! Also I got some formula for the baby and a winter jacket!
Definetly don't have $ for presents and such so making things will be my route this year. Keep all those great ideas coming mama's

RayRay-

Life Learning Momma to DS17, DS16,DS9jumpers.gifas well a dog, a cat, two birds...ttc babygirl.gif homeschool.gifnamaste.gif
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