Category Archives: DIY

3 Reasons Why I Coupon (And Yes, I’m Allowing That Word to Function as a Verb)

Or, 3 Reasons Why I Feel Motivated to Get a Tattoo in a Scandalous Place to Counteract the Fact that I’m Dangerously Teetering on the Precipice of Being Known as “That Lady With Four Cats Who Is Obsessed with Coupons”

1. Couponing appeals to my competitive nature.

It feels like an enjoyably elaborate game to me—hunt for deals, gather my coupons, find everything on my list—so when I do well, I win, hahah! And this victory is especially sweet because I win ACTUAL MONEY. So it’s essentially like Monopoly on crack. And the store in question just landed on my Boardwalk with three hotels bwaaaaahahahhahaha—sorry. I frequently lapse into Monopoly fantasies.

Original cost $82. I paid $14.50.

2. Couponing appeals to my finicky, organized nature.

It gave me a reason to arrange this file box and write a bunch of labels. That kind of thing is, like, the chief joy of my life. Yes. I am openly admitting that.

I got so excited about the folders for each month that I actually made folders for each week too. Totally unnecessary, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Now, you might be one of these folks who is interested in couponing but you always hold back because you’re thinking, “Seriously, who are these freaks who spend hours cutting coupons and standing in line to buy 200 boxes of cereal? Aren’t I doing enough for my family already? I mean, for the LOVE OF GOD, what do they want from me? MY BLOOD?!?!?!” If that’s you, lemme just share a little something (after which you will probably say, with tears in your eyes, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings). Here’s how it works:

  • Set up a file box with a folder for each month, plus a few general folders for coupons you print off the internet (groceries, household, etc.)
  • Buy papers every Sunday (good rule of thumb: get one for every person in the house)
  • Write each week’s date on your inserts and file them away
  • Check out this couponing site and others like it, which will tell you what deals are running at which stores, and which coupons from which dates and inserts you need for each deal.
  • Decide which deals you want, cut the coupons you need, and you’re all done except for the fun shopping part.

I have great success with this non-overwhelming method (not to mention, I just enjoy filing things) and it takes no more than an hour a week. Perhaps even less. Are you misting up yet?

3. Couponing appeals to my shameless-desire-for-lots-of-money nature.

Now, I am told that in the music world it has been posited that mo’ money = mo’ problems, but in my own humble opinion, the author of that sentiment is just STRAIGHT TRIPPIN. I will take all the money I can get and whatever “problems” come with it. Mo’ couponing = mo’ money = mo’ stuff from Etsy, is my personal view. Speaking of which, check out my favorite Etsy purchase to date, “Picky Duck,” which continues to make me giggle like a lunatic even though it’s been hanging on my wall for months.

From WhatParty, an embroidery shop par excellence.

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8 Reasons Why I Was a Productivity Goddess This Past Week

Or, 8 Reasons Why I Now Feel Self-Righteously Entitled to Laze About in a Peignoir and Eat Bon-Bons 

1. I updated the built-in bookcase.

Goodbye hideous, ill-advised orange (seriously, people who lived here before, what were you smoking?), hello elegant plum fabric which I bought for $6 from an antique/junk mall and hot-glued to the wall.

Before

After

After after

2. I unpacked the rest of our stuff.

I’d been avoiding a last giant pile of boxes in our downstairs bedroom—mostly miscellaneous kitchen, garage, and office things. In fact, the place resembled one of those lockers they auction off on Storage Wars (new favorite show!). Anyway, I unpacked everything and got all the boxes flattened and stored and all the furniture set up. The room finally looks like a room. ::OCDsighofrelief::

In my last place all this stuff went in an office closet, but now it has to sit out in the open on shelves. I am ruminating on a plan to create a lot of storage by refinishing some old dorm dressers from the university’s salvage store, but that’s another story for another day.

Come stay at the Faulkner Hotel. Comfy futons and free gym access available. Piglet (lurking by the scratching pole) might walk on your face in the middle of the night, but no biggie.

3. I organized the garage closet.

Oh, couponing stash, how I’ve missed gazing on your orderly beauty. Also, my tools and hardware and paint supplies are all much more neatly put away now that I have all this extra space in the garage. It makes me want to, like, build a million things. Right now.

This is our first garage ever. I’m thinking it means I can finally get a table saw!

4. I re-organized the cat closet.

When we first moved in I threw the cat box down here and that was about it. Now I’ve set up a feeding station and a litter area way at the back (these are weighty issues if you have four cats) plus some extra storage. Husband thinks it’s dreary, but I think it’s quite cosy, and honestly, it’s not as if cats really give a crap about where they…well, you know, crap.

Harry Potter wishes his cupboard under the stairs was as roomy and well-arranged as this cat dungeon. Erm, closet.

5. I made this lamp.

I can just hear you. You’re all, “WHAT?! She made that?” I know. I bought this vase from an antique store for I think $8, can’t remember. Throw in a special glass drill bit ($12), a bottle-adapter lamp kit ($10), and a harp ($4), and voila! Easy-peasy one-of-a-kind super chic lamp for $34. Well, it was mostly easy—it did take FOR-GAWDHELPUS-EVER to drill that hole in the vase. I spent probably 30 minutes holding the drill to the spot. It’s a wonder my teeth didn’t shake out.

My antique store find

A 3/8 glass and tile drill bit made a perfectly sized hole.

I feel like Pygmalion right now.

6. I set up a new trash/recycling system.

Tyler and I found out that Lansing offers a really great, totally free, no-sorting-necessary recycling program, so I wanted to get jiggy with it, as it were. Problem: I didn’t want two trash cans in the already small high-traffic area where the original can lived. Solution: I had to shift around a lot of stuff in the kitchen, but I managed to clear out the one cabinet we have with a slide-out drawer. I put two smaller trash cans in there and now the kitchen is less crowded, plus I feel like I’ve practically saved the planet.

I had to take this picture five times because Cricket kept climbing in and out. Cabinets are like crack to her.

7. I put up some holiday decor.

Easter approacheth! I wanted some Easter cheer for my mantle so I painted these cute little eggsters with help from the husband. Do you see the one that says “EGG” on it? Yeah. That’s one of his.

My color palette was fairly limited due to some of my acrylic paints having turned into disgusting sludge.

This vase is another antique store find.

8. Then…I blogged about it.

Seriously, I am ON FIRE.

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6 Reasons Why My Cleaning Solutions Are TOTALLY BOSS

Or, 6 Reasons Why These Magic Mixes Will Cause You To So Deeply Regret All Those Years and Dollars You Wasted On Commercial Products That You May Need Grief Counseling

1. They are homemade.

As Pinterest users can testify, anything DIY is automatically more awesome than the alternative. Which makes you cooler than other people who don’t make their own stuff. You can feel a little smug in your heart when you see people grabbing crap from the cleaning aisle, cause you don’t need some giant corporation to make your products for you. You’re self-reliant! You’re like a freaking pioneer in the wilderness! Before you know it, you’ll be growing your own wheat, constructing a water mill to grind it, and then baking homemade bread over a fire. That’s right. A fire built with wood you chopped.

[SIDE BONUS: The more stuff you make at home, the more prepared you are for the zombie apocalypse.]

2. They have simple, easy-to-find ingredients.

Everything you need to mix your own cleaning solutions can be found at your local supermarkets, and you probably already have a lot of this stuff at home. It’s best to buy these in bulk sizes if possible—that usually gives you a better value. Like the 32oz Dr. Bronner’s soap instead of the 16oz, and a gallon of vinegar instead of a small bottle. One exception is olive oil: I buy a cheap little bottle instead of using the kind I cook with. You’re not concerned about quality or taste–just its, well, oiliness. Here’s what you need:

Easy enough, right?

*I can usually find these for cheaper on Amazon than in a store. If you have a Prime membership (so worth it OMG), you can have them shipped super fast for free!

3. They smell ridiculous.

Before you mix up your solutions (recipes below), you have the exciting task of deciding which scent combinations to use. Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soap comes in a variety of ridiculous scents which are also based on essential oils, so you can combine different soaps with the oil of your choice for a knock-your-socks-off aroma. For instance, I made my first batch of cleaners with peppermint soap and lavender oil. For my next trick, I will be using citrus soap with thyme oil. Or you could try lavender soap with eucalyptus oil, or eucalyptus soap with tea-tree oil, or—well, the mind reels! And I think you will find that these heavenly smells actually make cleaning pleasant. I myself often feel compelled to burst into cheery song and let a little birdie alight on my finger.

4. They are effective.

I just recently became aware of the cleaning power of essential oils. I’d been using some boring vinegar-and-water mixes with a little baking soda here and there, but boy do these oils pack an extra wallop. They cut through grease better, they leave surfaces more resistant to grime, and they have natural disinfectant properties. I mean, seriously, it’s like cleaning with fairy dust.

5. They are environmentally friendly.

No nasty man-made chemicals or pollutants here. Safe for humans, safe for pets, and safe going down the drain into our lakes and rivers. In fact, not only are these cleaners not bad for you–they are very likely beneficial. Essential oils are known to have very positive effects on mood and overall wellbeing. Aromatherapy FTW! Of course, it’s important to remember that Borax and essential oils can be toxic in high quantities, but these solutions are so diluted there’s little risk of danger. Just don’t, you know, drink them or anything.

6. They are cheap.

Ok, I sat down, screwed my courage to the sticking place, and did some math. It was very complicated and I had to retire with a cold compress and hot tea afterward, so I hope you’re properly grateful. Anyway, if you follow the recipes below, you will need to mix more of the solutions around every six weeks or so. And remember that a little goes a looooong way (time to break that Lysol-spray-induced habit of sloshing gallons of cleaner around). With this in mind, I figure these solutions will ultimately cost you around 10 bucks a month. Basically, that’s six different solutions for $1.67 a piece. Remember how much you paid for the aforementioned Lysol? Mmm-hmm. You’re welcome. Please send all cards and flowers to my secretary.

Homemade = cool

RECIPES

I make multiples of some bottles so I can keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom and so forth. You need some empty spray bottles and some condiment squeeze bottles. Reuse old ones or get them cheap from the dollar store or Wal-Mart or something like that. And yes, I count the drops of essential oil.

All-purpose cleaner – makes 2 medium bottles
Use on all surfaces except maybe granite, wood furniture, and food areas like cutting boards.
2 cups hot water
2 tbsp Borax (dissolve)
1/4 cup vinegar*
1/2 cup Castile soap*
40 drops essential oil 

Disinfectant – makes 1 medium bottle
Safe for use on granite, great for killing germs anywhere.
3 tbsp Castile soap
30 drops essential oil
Enough water to fill bottle

Glass cleaner – makes 2 medium bottles
Shake often to keep mixed.
4 cups hot water
2 tbsp cornstarch (dissolve)
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1/2 cup vinegar

Furniture polish – makes 2 small bottles
This one separates super fast, so shake every other spray or so. Goes a REALLY long way.
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vinegar
60 drops (about 3ml) essential oil

Shower spray – makes 1 bottle
Lightly mist walls and tub after you shower—no more evil soap scum!
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar*
2 tbsp Castile soap*
10 drops essential oil

Soft scrub – makes 2 squeeze bottles (mix in individual bottles!)

Scrub into tubs, sinks, and toilets—let sit, then rinse.
1/2 cup baking soda per bottle (1 cup total)
1/2  cup Borax per bottle (1 cup total)
1/2 cup Castile soap per bottle (1 cup total)
15 drops essential oil per bottle (30 total)
Splash or two of water per bottle (get it to the consistency you want)

UPDATE 8/11/12
Shower spray: Guys, I had to tell you, I’ve just started putting this solution in a sponge brush with a fillable handle, thanks to a hot tip I found on Pinterest (unfortunately I can’t credit the originator, as the pin didn’t lead to the right place). AHHHHMAZING!
Soft scrub: So if I, erm, don’t use the soft scrub solution very frequently, I find that it begins to harden in the bottle. If you’re a slacker busy person like me who can’t always regularly clean your sinks & tubs, you might consider making the scrub in smaller batches instead so it stays fresh. If you do get some hardening, a little sploosh of water and a stir should also do the trick. Just a heads up, y’all. 

*UPDATE 10/6/12
Some readers have reported that combining vinegar and Castile soap creates a clumpy unblended mixture, so I recommend using either vinegar or Castile soap in these recipes, depending on your preference and desired effect! For myself, I’ll probably use vinegar in both. 

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