My Totally Awesome Frugal Catch Of The Week

Well my frugal loving friends, I just had to share this with you. Recently I noticed the Smart Saver store in my town had a closing down sale on, so today while I was in town I decided to pop in to see if they still had some yarn left. To my delight they had plenty and everything was 50% off! I stocked up on 13 balls of yarn (normally $2.50 per ball) for $16.25! Unfortunately they had already sold out of art supplies so I missed out there.

Before I left the shop I overheard the cashier tell a customer that they were open for another three months yet as they had a lot of stock to clear. My first thought was “Yay! More time to stock up on discount yarn!” But then I realised that it would be likely as time went on and got closer to their closing date, that they would increase the discount… I just hope there is still yarn in store when this happens.

My advice is never pass up an opportunity to take a look at a closing down sale, it’s the best time to pick up bargains, whether you are increasing your yarn stash, stocking up your toiletry cupboard, or replacing worn out linen, very dollar saved counts.

13 balls of yarn for $16.25- bargain!
13 balls of yarn for $16.25- bargain!
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Dead Frogging The Ice Cream 

I always try to work smarter rather than harder, so it makes perfect sense to me to defrost ice cream a little before trying to scoop it out of the tub. People have always though of me as a bit of an odd ball but recently I copped a few comments on and off line for a Facebook status I posted of a brief conversation between myself and my three year old daughter. The status went something like this:Me: “Hang on, I just need to get the ice cream out to defrost.”

Daughter: “Mum, why did you say dead frogs?”

Me: “Defrost, not dead frogs, lol.”

I posted this status as I thought the conversation was amusing and cute, but it had people questioning my sanity for defrosting ice cream. So, the next time my daughter wanted ice cream I decided not to “dead frog” it before hand, this resulted in me almost snapping the spoon in the frozen ice cream and breaking my (already weak) wrist in the process. You see, this is where there is a method in my madness. Leaving it out to defrost for even just a few minutes helps to soften the ice cream without melting it completely, so that it is easier to scoop out of the tub. See? It’s just a simple life hack, people! And you get that tip for free 😉

What life hack do you employ that others find odd? I’d love to hear them 🙂

The Importance Of Building A Craft Stash (And How To)

My craft stash has helped me to produce many items on the cheap. But how does one build such a stash without a massive outlay of money to begin with? The short answer is time and a little effort.

Unless you have a lot of money to spend (and let’s face it, if you are reading my blog there is a good chance you don’t) a stash needs to be acquired  over time with a bit of patience (ok, I lied, a LOT of patience).  There are a few different ways that you can acquire items for your stash so I will break them down into different categories.

RECYCLE/REUSE/REPURPOSE:

This is a wonderful way to feel good about doing your part for the environment. A lot of household “junk” can be repurposed for craft. I have recently become fascinated with items made from the ring pulls of drink cans. I pinned a whole lot of ideas on Pinterest for jewellery, clothes and handbags made from ring pulls. But pinning ideas on Pinterest isn’t enough, now I have to collect the ring pulls. I have my brother and some friends also collecting them for me too… and with the cans they are pulled from, my brother collects those to recycle.

The start of my collection of ring pulls, gathering and awaiting to be crafted into wonderful creations.
The start of my collection of ring pulls, gathering and awaiting to be crafted into wonderful creations.

I wish I had a completed example to share with you but at present I don’t, however I will sometime in the near future.

You can recycle/reuse just about anything, just have a think about things before you toss them out. A bit of contact paper added to tin cans can make attractive pen/pencil/texta holders or seed planters. Plastic takeaway food containers can be used for craft storage or also dress up for holding other treasures. Some plastic can be used for shrink plastic items (only certain types though). Scrap paper can be used to make new paper or for decoupage. Wine corks can be turned into cork boards. I really could be here til the cows come home listing items that can be recycled and how, so I won’t, I just want to prompt you to think before you bin rubbish in future, as to how it could possibly be repurposed. Same goes for old/broken furniture… look to Pinterest, or do a Google search for inspiration.

OP SHOPPING:

I think American’s call them Thrift Shops but here in Australia we call them Op Shops (Opportunity Shops). Op Shops are a great source for the following items: fabric (I can find enough fabric to make several outfits for around $5.00), vintage clothing for upstyling, sewing patterns, yarn, craft magazines, crockery (can be upcycled using paint pens etc), old furniture that can be refurbished with the aid of some decoupage or woodworking, and many more items all at low prices.

Example of glasses purchased at an Op Shop and upcycled.
Example of glasses purchased at an Op Shop and upcycled.
Mug purchased at Op Shop and decorated by my daughter using paint pen and Sharpies to make a gift for her grandmother.
Mug purchased at Op Shop and decorated by my daughter using paint pen and Sharpies to make a gift for her grandmother.

USING SPARE CHANGE WISELY:

In my local area there are a lot of discount/super saver stores (once upon a time we used to call them $2 shops). In the cooler months I can pick up a ball of acrylic yarn for around $2.00-$2.50, in the warmer months they can be as low as a dollar as the stores attempt to clear their winter stock. You can’t even buy a cup of coffee that cheap these days. So next time you find a couple of dollars in your pocket and think about purchasing a snack at work with it, maybe give some thought to what that spare change could potentially come- a stash that in the long run saves you money. I purchase a ball or two of this yarn most times I pass one of these stores and over time have accumulated quite a stash.

Part of my yarn stash (yes, only PART of it)
Part of my yarn stash (yes, only PART of it)

These stores are also usually a good source of cheap art supplies, gift cards and wrapping, other craft supplies, cheap crockery, mason jars, and some household cleaning items and groceries among other things.

EBAY:

Out of each pay I put aside a few dollars for ebay purchases. I get some of my craft supplies from ebay for two reasons- firstly you can often pick up items for low prices, and secondly because I live in a regional area and some items can only be found in major cities. I will usually purchase one item fortnightly for around $5.00 give or take, this helps to build my stash.

GIFT VOUCHERS:

Make the most of family and friends that insist on buying you a gift for your birthday or Christmas- ask for a gift voucher to your local craft supply shop.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER:

Keep an eye out for and check out the following where you can:

  • Garage sales
  • Trash and Treasure markets
  • School fetes and fairs
  • Online social media groups for used items
  • Bartering groups

If there is anything you can think of that I should have added then please leave me a comment in the comment’s section below. Happy hunting 🙂

What Does Being Frugal Mean To You?

People can be frugal for a number of reasons. For me it was a skill I had to acquire because money is tight, but I have known wealthy people who buy their clothing from Op Shops (second hand goods stores) because they enjoy finding vintage style clothing to add to their wardrobes. For some it’s a way of being able to put extra money aside to save for a holiday or new home, for some it’s the importance of reusing rather than wasting, and for some it’s a learned way of life handed down through generations from a time when money was scarce.

I also tend to begrudge paying money for anything that I can make myself. I am also conscious of the footprint I leave on this Earth, and so in recent times I have starting researching into the art of upstyling/upcycling- reusing and repurposing. When I was younger the thought of reusing “rubbish” or “junk” held very little appeal to me, and attending Trash and Treasure markets and Op Shops bored me.

These days I see the fun and adventure in these things. I love to go on Op Shop crawls, attend Garage Sales, and second hand markets… and oh! the treasures I have found! If you are the creative upcycling type, these places hold a plethora of supplies and inspiration.

Also, much to my husband’s despair, I rarely throw anything away these days. I have a nice collection of empty jars, and recently I cracked a bowl (I can be a little absent minded in the kitchen and poured extremely hot liquid into a cereal bowl when I needed to drain something), I refused to throw the bowl away because I can repurpose it for mosaic tiles. Currently I’m collecting ring pulls from drink cans because I stumbled across the art of making jewellery, bags, clothing etc. out of ring pulls on my dearest Pinterest. This was good timing too since my brother recently decided to start collecting cans to raise money for an organisation he is involved with.

When I can see a creative outlet involved with being frugal it helps me to feel better about my financial situation, which is the point I’ve tried to get across in a few of my past blogs. It helps to take a tight budget and turn it into a challenge or adventure. You could even turn it into a small business! I have seen clothing that has been picked up in Op Shops, altered by someone with some imagination and a sewing machine, then sold for big profit.

Whatever your reason for being frugal is, you can have fun with it. It can save you money, make you money, and teach you to value and appreciate things that perhaps once before you didn’t. It can also help you to reduce for footprint on this Earth by reusing and wasting very little.

Metal Stamped washers made into bracelet.
Metal Stamped washers made into bracelet.

Above is an example of reusing tap washers to make into a bracelet. This is one I was commissioned to make a few years ago with the names of the woman’s three children on it.

So I’d love to hear from my readers, please leave me a comment and tell me what being frugal means to you, and also any pictures you may have on items you have upcycled, I’d love to see your creations.

Tis Better To Give Than To Receive…

So this Friday is my birthday… I’ve been trying to boycott my birthday since I was 13, don’t get me wrong, I love to have a party and get silly with friends, I just protest the whole having to become a year older. This year I have found a way to feel better about my birthday. As you may remember from previous blogs, May is full of birthdays in our family and so my husband and I don’t bother buying birthday gifts for each other, purely because we can’t really afford to. My parents have very little money these days and so I often tell them not to bother getting me anything. So for years now I have come to expect that I won’t receive anything for my birthday and I am happy with that, I don’t really need anything and I figure people’s money can be better spent.

I have always experienced far more joy in giving than receiving. There is no feeling like that of the anticipation of a loved one unwrapping a gift that you have especially chosen for them, and then the joy of seeing their eyes light up with happiness and gratitude as they behold the treasure inside. So this evening on a whim I decided to create birthday gifts from (you may have already guessed) Polymer Clay for the guests attending a little birthday get together at my place this Friday evening. I’m now really excited and cannot wait for Friday night to roll around so that I can give my guests a birthday gift and a heartfelt wish of love and happiness from me! I now feel a whole lot better about my birthday. I guess my gesture is similar in concept to the bonbonniere given to guests at a wedding, it is a symbol of my gratitude for such wonderful friends.

Below are some of the pendants that I will make into bracelets for some of the ladies attending on Friday night.

Polymer Clay discs to be made into bracelets.
Polymer Clay discs to be made into bracelets.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you… And I guess 35 isn’t old if you’re a tree lol.

For The Love Of Polymer Clay

So I am very new to Polymer Clay, like under a fortnight new to it, but I have taken to it like I was born for it. My Mother says I’ve missed my calling. I am absolutely enjoying it too, I tweeted earlier about how I was dancing around all excited in the kitchen waiting for the oven timer to go off so that I could pull out my creations. I felt like a kid again, actually it reminded me of being in early high school Ceramics class, eagerly awaiting the painfully slow process of kiln firing to be complete so that I could take home my wonky bowl to proudly present to my parents.

I guess I love this medium so much because it is so versatile, all you’ve got to do is Google it or check out Polymer Clay on Pinterest to see the endless possibilities of what you can be inspired to create. AND it is surprisingly easy! I purchased some Sculpey III from my local Spotlight store (and was delighted that not only is it relatively cheap, but there was a discount sale for members so I snagged it even cheaper), then I ordered some clay tools from eBay and impatiently checked my letterbox every day until they arrived. (Little tip here- I found the tools cheaper on eBay than they were in my local super saver store, and I found them within the country). Only once the tools arrived and I opened up the Sculpey did I discover that I really didn’t need the tools to create totally awesome stuff.

Depending on where you buy your clay from, they are usually just a few dollars each, and one pack goes a surprisingly long way. The only other thing I needed and was also able to pick up at Spotlight was the glaze. All of the items were relatively inexpensive especially when you consider how far they stretch. So folks, just imagine how many gifts you could make that won’t cost you the Earth! With my 3 packs of Sculpey III and a small bottle of Sculpey Satin Glaze I’ve already made two Goddess statues, three pendants, and my daughter made a snail and a keyring pendant, and I have only used half of my seemingly small stash of clay and it looks as if the glaze has only just been opened!

Below are some of my Polymer Clay creations:

The ring pull is to give you an idea of size.
The ring pull is to give you an idea of size.

It’s great to get the kids involved with it too. My three and half year old loved rolling “snakes” that I helped her make into gifts for her grandparents.

So in conclusion, I’ve found my new addiction. Until next time, stay crafty.

Marti

You Win Some, You Lose Some… You Learn A Lesson

So if you read last week’s midweek musings you will know that I attempted my first resin ring. I tend to like to experiment, I like to jump in and use my hands rather than spending lots of time reading and researching. In my family we had a saying, “If all else fails, then read the instructions.” I spent my childhood watching my father and older brother assemble flat packed furniture, toys, gadgets etc. without reading the instructions first, only defaulting to them when they failed to figure out on their own how something went together.

Being the kinaesthetic person that I am, and despite all the endless patience I seem to possess for fine fiddly work, I prefer to delve in and not waste time “reading the instructions.” So as for my resin ring, I figured well, I have the mould, I have the resin (and know how to mix and apply it), and I have a myriad of bits and bobs to put into the resin… how hard can it be?

Firstly I failed to think about the simple principle that even small children begin to grasp… what happens to the water level when you get in the bath? It rises. So, stupidly, I filled the mould to the brim with resin and then became annoyed when it overflowed after I drop in some seed beads. I was able to remedy this of course, and then I set about waiting for the resin to become denser as it hardened so that I could drop in my seed beads that would sink slower. I did this in stages, and although the resin was thickening, those darn, seemingly weightless seed beads still sunk to the bottom as if they were concrete sinking in a pool of water. The last lot I put in seemed to hang about the top a little better, so satisfied that these beads weren’t going to sink, I left the crafty cave for the evening.

By the next morning all the beads had sunk and made the bottom side of the ring rough and the resin would not set properly in this area. Long story short- Resin Ring attempt 1= FAIL. But within every failure is a lesson to be learned. I think my next approach will be to pour a thin layer into the mould and let it set completely, then add filling (i.e. seed beads or the like), then another layer left to set completely and so on and so forth. It will be time consuming of course, but folks Rome wasn’t built in a day either. Or I could just research how to do it, but where’s the fun in that? I feel like a crafty scientist 🙂 Experimentation is half the fun, if not more, and that creative process is one that helps me keep thrifty 😉

So here is my little crafty pearl of wisdom for the week: Sometimes there is more fun in the doing, than there is beholding the finished product. Do you agree?