Thursday, February 28, 2008

I stopped by Debbie's blog this morning, and saw her funny post on having sick kids and being trapped in the house, and what a girl needs to keep from going totally nuts. It made me think of this special vintage, just for moms with cabin fever . . .It's Mad Housewife wine, which I am saving for just the right occasion, like, say, Mr. Jones' next business trip, the night before a school project is due, or possibly when my kiddos get the stomach flu. Once, my kids had the stomach flu for an entire week each ~ that is 7 whole days of puking, folks, PER KID. And do they all have it the SAME 7 days? Of course not! Then, when everyone was better for about 2 weeks, they got it AGAIN! I could have used a little MH that month.
And here's what I call a "keeping it real" photo. This is what is behind my staged photo: All the junk that was on the table, which I dumped behind the table for the photo shoot, and the game someone left out on the love seat. I wouldn't want you guys to think I'm neat and tidy or anything.
And here's a photo of the sweet bouquet of flowers my in-laws sent me for my birthday 2 days ago. It is so festive and cheery, and I love the vase. I know I will be able to use it for all kinds of things. Thanks Jack and Betty!
Here's a picture of me and Betty on a visit with her a year or two ago. I don't think there is a more organized person on the face of the earth. I wish I had just an ounce of that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Insanity

Good morning, girlfriends. What are you up to today? We have basketball playoffs, birthday parties, homework projects that I procrastinated on for an entire month and we're just starting 2 days before they're due, and a flat tire on Mr. Jones' truck (and 7 tire shops we went to yesterday don't stock F150 tires). I'm currently chugging down caffeinated beverages while the family sleeps in preparation for the Saturday Insanity that is about to ensue.

Am I making good use of my prep time?

Doing dishes? No.
Laundry? Nope.
Wrapping presents? Absolutely not (I like to save that for 5 minutes *after* we were supposed to leave the house).
Getting uniforms ready? Negative.
Taking a shower? No way.

I'm looking for new blogs. And I found a great one. So it was time well spent, right? I know you all agree, because we have our priorities straight!

I do love a blog that makes me laugh out loud while I'm sitting at my computer and everyone in the family thinks I've lost my mind (it's easy for them to believe, really). For my laughter fix, I always stop by Martha's because she is one funny girl. But today I have found another funny momma. So after you visit Martha, go check out The Country Doctor's Wife ~ you can start with this post.

What are you doing today?

Friday, February 22, 2008

New blog format

I've changed my blog format yet again, after visiting Dana's blog These are my two joys and seeing the gorgeous beach pictures of her two boys. Why on earth I didn't think of using my beach pictures for my blog, I have no idea!! But I like it ... thanks for the inspiration Dana!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thriftin' Thursday

I stopped by my little thrift store today to see what was waiting for me, and I found this beautiful vintage dresser. I have been wanting one for quite a while, but being patient about it. What I like about this dresser is that it is narrower and taller than most. Perfect for my tiny living room. I think it will be gorgeous with a new coat of paint and some new knobs. Just look at her pretty little feet!
Also claimed was a silver serving spoon/fork, red toile plate, swag hardware . . .
3 picture frames that just need a little big of paint, a white creamer, and in the bag is a bunch of flower napkin holders which will get a good dose of paint when I get a free minute.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A few small changes

Do you remember this sad little table . . . that I painted white? Well, I couldn't sell it at my garage sale or on craigslist. So . . .
I made a few little changes . . .
and sold it about 2 minutes after it showed up on craigslist . . .
for more money than I tried to sell it for before.
Inspiration came from Basiques Boutique and the gorgeous desk in this post. Some other places I like to go to drool over painted furniture are Sanctuary Arts at Home and Sanctuary Arts for the Home (she has a really cool decoupage tutorial here) and of course, the queen of painted furniture, SavyCityFarmer's furniture blog, Stuff in the Burbs.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Diary of a Wannabee Upholsterer

I'm going for it, girlfriends! Yes, I got sick of sewing the slipcover for the wingback and I just started ripping fabric off. Actually, it was a little more deliberate than that. I have been reading upholstery books, and drooling over reupholstered furniture, and in my secret fantasy life, I do this for a living. So what do I have to lose, after all, it's just a cheapo thrift store chair?

A little bit of skin, actually. All this prying of staples is a little rough on the hands. And what happened to my beautiful 20-year old hands?!! 10,000 hand washes after having children, that's what. I digress.
So I started this project by taking off the old fabric. I began with the piece under the chair, then did the back, and now I'm working on the sides and wings. I'm saving the old fabric to use as a pattern for the new fabric. I was taking pictures of every step so I could see how to put everything back on. My memory isn't so hot these days. And while I was snapping off pictures, I thought maybe I should share this with you as I go instead of at the end of the project (which really, knowing me, could take another year).

Ok, so as I take these pieces off, I make sure to label what piece it is, what direction it goes in, and what side it goes on. That way I won't get confused if I forget about this project for a while.

So that's it for now. I'll keep you posted as I go.

And if you have a furniture fetish like me (that will get all kinds of great Google hits, I'm sure), go drool at Basiques Boutique blog. Just click on the "Upholstered Furniture" section on the right side. Check out the Painted Furniture section too. That Miss Heather and her momma are so very creative!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Grocery Game and Other Ways I'm Saving Money

I have received a couple questions about The Grocer Game since I posted my intentions to organize coupons on Sunday.

Please do not be intimidated by seeing 55,000 coupons on my dining room table. Grocery Game is much easier than I am making it look!

The basic idea behind GG is that you begin stocking your pantry by purchasing items that are on sale and using a coupon. (We're looking for the good sales, not just trick sales for 10 cents off). On Sunday you go to The Grocery Game website, and they generate a list for you. It will not show everything on sale, but it shows you the items with "rock bottom" prices and exactly which coupons you need to use with them. The cool thing about the list is, when you are looking at it on the computer, you click on the items you don't want, and they will disappear from the list. So when you are done, you have your shopping list to print without all the other junk.

At first you might feel like you are buying too much of what you don't need. But after a while, you become stocked up on things and each week you go shopping you are buying less of things that you have run out of. As time goes on, your grocery bill will get smaller and smaller. Some of the stories of how much people spend are absolutely amazing!!

I hope this is making sense. It it is not, here is a link to GG's explanation of it all.

**Now, you don't need to cut all the coupons!** This is very important. The easiest way to organize it, especially for beginners, is with file folders. You take the coupons for that week and put them in a folder labeled with that date. When you print your GG list, the list will tell you exactly what date the coupon came out, and also tells you which packet it is in (eg, smart source, etc.). So you can just get out the folder for that specific day, open up the coupon packet, and find that one coupon to cut out. No need for cutting, filing, etc. of all coupons. I have to complicate everything, so I am filing them all by coupon (I do this because I like to be able to find coupons even when I'm not using the GG list - I recommend that you do not do this if you are not that into coupons because it can be a little overwhelming and will burn you out on coupons for good.)

You can try it out for $1.00 for 4 weeks, which is a pretty good deal. One coupon will pretty much pay for that. If you like it, you sign up to pay $10 for every 8 weeks. Again, this is a good deal considering how much time they are saving you. That is only $1.25 per week, recovered when you use one coupon. If you sign up, and want to give me referral credit, give them my e-mail address when you register ( I would be very grateful.

I would say the only challenge I have had with GG is that my newspaper has coupons that are slightly different than those used for GG. I still save money, but I do have to double-check things a little. My friend Penny says that if you look in the game rules (you get to this after you sign up) on their website, they will tell you the best paper to use for your area. The game rules will also explain the coupon policy for your grocery store, so this is important to read.

So this week I have been working on trying to save as much money as possible here at the Jones household. In addition to coupon mania, some other things I have been doing are:

1. Refinancing. I am a refinancing queen. Back in the good ole' days when housing prices were skyrocketing and interest rates going down (we bought our first house for about 8 1/2%), I had an amazing mortgage broker who always got me refinance loans for no points. When the rates went down enough, time for a new loan. Well, I caught wind that rates had dropped down to about 5% for a few hours last month, so I hunted down a new mortgage broker and started another refinance yesterday. This is very important to me: I do not shop for loans. I find the best mortgage broker there is, and then I use that person forever (or at least until I move out of state). I strongly believe in finding people who are the best at what they do, and then hiring them to do my work. And with mortgage brokers, the lender pays the broker's fee, not you! Be careful though, and make sure you don't hire someone who is not trustworthy.

2. On that subject, I am currently searching for a good financial adviser. I have never hired one before, but I've finally decided that it might just be worth the money if I have to pay a fee. Because I really want to get the most out of the money I save.

3. I do have college savings plans for my kids, but I'm signing up for our state 529 plans also. The plans they have in my state actually lock in the current college rates so even if rates go up, we will pay today's rates when my kiddos finally make it to college. Considering they are in elementary/middle school, THIS IS HUGE! That's like getting free money put into your savings plan.

4. I watched Oprah's going green show, and I'm replacing all the light bulbs in the house to low-energy bulbs. Here's what you should do, that I didn't know before: My power company actually has a program where you can buy bulbs at The Home Depot and the power company pays for part of the bulb. So we got a huge savings on the bulbs, and I expect a pretty good savings coming up on my bill (I'll let you know exactly what that is after a full month of using them). So check with your power company and see if they have any deals.

5. I signed up for an ING Direct savings account. This is an on-line bank that links up with your bank accounts, and you can transfer money into your savings. If you initially deposit $250 into your account, you get a $25.00 bonus. It also has a great interest rate to add to your savings. I am having it take $25.00 automatically every paycheck. Not a lot, but it will add up. Here is a link to another blog that has a better explanation of ING.

6. Transfer debt to low interest accounts. I have a credit card balance ... I shouldn't ... I'm paying it off as fast as I can. That having been said, I will pay it off much faster if I'm not racking up interest charges on it. I would be perfectly content never to look closely at my credit card bills again because they make me want to cry. But really, it's good to examine them closely. Are you getting charged $90 a month for interest? Take one of those offers in the mail for 0% interest, and transfer your balance. That's $90 a month you'll be saving. Be careful with this one, though. If you don't stop using the cards, you'll just end up with more credit cards.

So yes, this is a very boring post ... I know. I'm sorry. But I do like to squeeze as much out of my money as I can, and I hope this helps you do the same.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What I'm doing today

Ok, so here is what my dining room table looks like today. I signed up for the Grocery Game again. I have done GG in the past, but got frustrated when the coupon in my paper were different than the coupons in the GG list. But I'm going to give it another shot because I will still save money, right? I'm going to Wegman's today to see if there are newspapers from other major cities with coupons that are the right coupons. I know Wegman's sells all kinds of other papers, so hopefully they will be the version with coupons included or I'm out of luck. Are there any other Grocery Gamers out there who have had this problem?

I'm finishing up a furniture project today, too. I'm just going to give you a sneak peak, and when I'm done I'll post pictures of the whole thing.

Here is the chair that I was sewing a slipcover for. I decided I wanted to learn how to reupholster. How hard could that be, right? Hmmmmm, when I say that to myself little alarms should go off. But they don't. I never learn. Anyway, it is fun ripping the fabric off the chair. I'm taking pictures so I can remember how to put the new fabric on. So here's the deal. Instead of sewing, you really just staple the fabric onto the chair. There is a little sewing involved, but not much. I found the slipcover sewing to be a bit challenging, so we'll see if this is easier. I'll let you know.

Have a great Sunday!
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