Exciting Saturday

It is an exciting Saturday here at the Happy Beehive!  TJ Mack has come to paint our new walls, Nick is going to install the knobs on our kitchen cabinets and I just found out there are two Christmas Tree Shops in Michigan.

I know the last one seems unrelated to the first two, but if you have ever been to a Christmas Tree Shop, you can understand my excitement.  The name is quite mis-leading.  Nick theorized that the Christmas Tree Shop must be like Bronners, but it is quite different.  The Christmas Tree Shop is a place to find bargains galore on anything and everything you can imagine.  Sure, at Christmastime you can find Christmas-related items, but the rest of the time the possibilities are endless.  As much as I want to jump right in my car and snap up bargains today, I think a Saturday 4 weeks before Christmas is probably not a great time to go.  So, I’ll go during the week on my leisure time.

I’m not going to post any pictures of house renovation until the painting is finished, but

here is a picture of my cat watching squirrels outside to tide you over:

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on December 4, 2010 at 12:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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Tuesday, Friday?

Happy Tuesday!  I know that for many of you, this is your last day of the week– your Friday, if you will.  Have a nice holiday and vacation!  Since Jim was here sanding the drywall today, I decided to spend a few hours out of the house to avoid breathing in the dust.

First off, I went to Penzey’s Spices to get my free 1/2 cup jar of Arizona Dreaming spice — which seems like it might be similar to taco seasoning.  I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, but it was free!  While I was there I also picked up some Pacific Fine Ground Sea Salt.  Good stuff.  From there, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought felt furniture bottoms.  The floor we are going with is Bamboo and it is very soft and easily marked, thus felt furniture bottoms are a necessity.  Also, there will be no heeled shoes allowed on my floor!  I never thought I’d be a person who doesn’t allow people to wear their shoes in my house, but I need to protect my floor.  It’ll keep dirt out as well, so that’s a bonus 🙂

I had to stop in Birmingham to visit my friend at Tiger Shoe Repair to see if he could fix Nick’s brown Ecco dress shoes.  Sadly, he cannot fix them.  Nick has had them for years and definitely gotten his money’s worth, but it is always better for the budget if we can fix old shoes instead of buying new ones.

Then, I was on to the Somerset Collection — dangerous place for someone on a budget.  Alas, all I left with were a few freebies from Aveda (I’m on their email list), much to the disappointment of the Aveda shop girl, I’ll wager…

My final stop of the day was where I got my best deal!  For my birthday, DSW sent me a $5 gift certificate.  I also had a $10 rewards certificate from them.  I ended up buying a pair of Minnetonka Moccasins (my favorite!) for $9 out the door — they were on clearance and then an extra 40% off.  I saved $51.03!  Whether I actually needed another pair of Minnetonkas is neither here nor there for that price.  They will get worn, for sure.

When I got home there was another surprise for me in the mail – a free sample travel-size toothpaste from Tom’s of Maine.  I’m not a die-hard Tom’s of Maine person.  Not in the way I’m a die-hard Burt’s Bees person.  I actually don’t prefer Tom’s toothpaste because it still has sodium lauryl sulfate in it, so we use Jason brand.  But it is better that Colgate!  Today was a good day for the freebies 🙂  Thanks Aveda and Tom’s!

You’ll notice the Daily Roundup will be absent this week.  With Nick off of work this week (except today), all the work going on at my house, and the fact that it is a holiday week, I don’t have as much time to track and I don’t really want to know what my nutrition is like this week. 🙂  You only live once, and the holidays are meant to do just that.

I hope you’ll all check in once or twice during the rest of the week but if not, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Craigslist isn’t just for lunatics

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  We had a nice weekend.  Nick worked on the brakes in the VW, I worked on gathering donations and eBaying.

shabby loveseat

As many of you know, we are in major renovation mode to finish the last two rooms on the 1st floor of our house.  This is in preparation for our special house guest from Japan, Kana, who will be arriving December 10th.  As I write this, Big Jim is working on the mudding and we’re hoping it will be done this week so Tom can come in and paint.  Then, the floor will be installed.  We’re really coming down to the wire on this, and Nick and I are keeping our fingers crossed that it will be done on time.  Another concern of ours was finding furniture to fill our living room.

A few months ago, we bought a sleeper sofa off of Craigslist with the intention of moving it into the TV room/guest room after the renovation.  In the meantime, it has been sitting in the living room, along with a very shabby loveseat we acquired years ago from one of Nick’s friends.  We’re both dying to get rid of it.  In fact, it is going on the curb Friday.  If you need a shabby loveseat, come and get it. 🙂  My brother-in-law has the matching shabby couch that he’ll be looking to get rid of, if you want a set.

So, anyway, we needed a new couch and since we always felt the loveseat was too big for the room, a chair to replace it.  I’d been looking on Craigslist periodically, but hadn’t really found the right combination of style, color, condition and price.  Saturday morning, I found it.  A midnight blue, low-back suede sofa from a pet-less, child-less home in Troy.  Killer price, great condition.  The guy is moving to Palm Beach this winter and unloading all of his extra furniture.  Since that was the case, we asked if he happened to have a chair as well.  He did, and the style matches the couch.  The chair is a bit more worn than the couch, and we’re uncertain about the color, but I figure that I can always slipcover it very easily.  All in all, we got a very nice couch and a good chair for under $200.  Very much under budget.

I think people hesitate to use Craigslist because of the “Craigslist killer” stories and other stories of people getting ripped off.  It is just like anything else though — be careful and use your head and common sense.  We’ve found two sofas, a chair and one of our cars on Craigslist and we’ve sold a door.  If you are looking to get some good stuff for a good price, give it a shot.  If you need to get rid of some things but don’t want to use eBay, give it a shot.  Craigslist isn’t just for lunatics.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 9:55 am  Comments (1)  
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Daily Roundup

This is actually for yesterday, but I was too tired to post before bed last night.

Productivity:

  • On the needles – finished the last pot holder in Nonie’s Christmas order.
  • Planned meals for the week and went grocery shopping

Nutrition:

  • 4 strips of nitrate-free bacon
  • coffee
  • salad with chicken and guacamole
  • strawberries with primal whipped cream
  • Simply Bliss Mint Chip coconut ice cream
  • Honey Hoisin pork tenderloin with mashed cauliflower, red wine
  • egg nog (yeah, this isn’t great but, ’tis the season!)

Budget:

  • Stayed under budget in total for Costco and Holiday Market.  I admittedly bought some things that were not necessary – the little Christmas pine tree, coconut ice cream, egg nog – but still ok because still under budget.
  • Stayed in and watched “Christmas Vacation” so didn’t spend money out.

Tip:

  • To clean stainless steel appliances, cut one lemon in half and sprinkle with salt.  Scrub the appliances with the lemon and they will be clean and sparkling.  As an added bonus, your kitchen will smell lemony fresh!

Use what you have

The area at which I am working the most hard for staying under budget, is the grocery/meal planning area.  For the past few years, I have planned our meals for the week and grocery shopped accordingly the weekend before.  Inevitably vegetables, fruit and meat would go to waste when we veered off of our plan, going out to dinner one or two or three nights instead of eating in.  Sometimes I just bought too much.  That kind of waste is no longer an option.  Now, when it seems like something is not going to be used up before it goes bad, I use it or freeze it.

Now comes step two.  Using what I have.  While I’m planning my meals for the next week, I take a look at what I already have in the freezer, fridge and cupboards (there isn’t much in the cupboards these days since we eat mostly fresh food — just spices, oils and the like).  Shop at home first.  You may be surprised at how many meals you can make with what you already have.  Get creative!  Use the internet!  There are some great recipes out there.

Step three: buy in bulk.  Costco is awesome (Sam’s Club too, pick your poison).  We buy our coffee, organic eggs, organic butter, tilapia, cottage cheese, carrots, bourbon, toilet paper, paper towel and sometimes berries and canned goods there.  Buying bulk is great because there is less unnecessary packaging and often you will find an item is the same price as the regular store, but in a bigger package (eggs, cottage cheese, lettuce — for example).  This is also where freezing comes in.  We are fortunate to have a chest freezer, so we don’t really have to think twice about buying a huge portion of something that needs to be frozen (except for now, because it is full of a cow).  If I buy strawberries at Costco, I’ll slice up enough for one week’s worth of Nick’s breakfasts (cottage cheese and strawberries), and slice the rest into canning jars and put them in the freezer.  When I buy the 10 lb bag of carrots at Costco, I peel 5 lbs and cut them into various sizes for various uses.  When those are gone, I peel the second 5 lbs.  They seem to stay good for quite a while.

We like to think of unused grocery items as money on the shelf.  That’s exactly what it is.  That money is on the shelf instead of in your pocket, so use it before you lose it.  When you throw away old food, it is like throwing dollar bills in the garbage.  Who would do that?  With a little planning, creativity and attention, you can keep a little money in your pocket, off the shelf and out of the garbage.  Use what you have.

Published in: on November 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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