Thursday, August 30, 2012

DIY Storage Box / Garage Organizer

Like many people our over flow from the house has found its way into our garage and lives in what we call “blue bins.” You know those great plastic containers that Rubbermaid makes? Yeah well over several moves we have accumulated “stuff” and these hold the “stuff” great. Sorting through the “stuff” is on my To Do List … someday! Until then we wanted a neat organized way of storing these boxes so that on those rare Saturdays when there isn’t much else to do we could easily pull a box out and sort and begin downsizing.

These great plastic storage bins are a great organizer for all your keepsakes and seasonal decorations, but what happens when you get more than 3 of them together? If you’re anything like me they get stacked one on top of them until you have something that resembles the leaning tower of Pisa! Let’s face it these containers scream for me to stack them the way they are made! Inevitably one of two things happens:

1.       The bottom box starts to buckle under the strain of holding up the rest of the stack or
2.       What I want is in the bottom box and so I have to move everything to get at that one box.


What if it didn’t need to be this way, what if you could easily access any of your storage boxes at any time without the hassle of re-stacking? Well this weekend we decided to try and tackle this project by creating a PVC storage box organizer. After looking online, visiting Lowes, Ace & Home Depot we came up with an idea (again this started with a Pintrest Pin!) and modified it to work for what we had and our budget. We did this for about $70.

Basic Grid

 Here is what we used:
1 rubber mallet
1 pvc pipe cutter
8 pvc ¾” corners
16 pvc ¾” X pieces
32 pvc ¾” T pieces
9 – 10’ lengths of ¾” pvc (you will have a bit left over, we are saving it to make another project!)

Here are the cuts we made & how many of each we used:
18” pieces (24)
12” pieces (12)
9” pieces (48)

And this is how we put it together (and by “we” I mean my darling husband and our two boys – they loved helping on this project!) If you think of it as a front and back grid you are attaching them together with the 12” pieces. So here is how we made 1 grid (you will need to make 2 grids)

Here is a grid:
from the side
Corner + 18” + T + 18” + T + 18” + Corner
9” + T + 9”
X + 18” + X + 18” + X + 18” + X
9” + T + 9”
X + 18” + X + 18” + X + 18” + X
9” + T + 9”
Corner + 18” + T + 18” + T + 18” + Corner

As you look at the picture (right) you can see the 12” pieces are the cross bars holding the two grids together.

So once they put the cross pieces and used the mallets to make sure each connection was tight we moved it (again this is the collective “we” meaning my darling husband J) into the garage and proceeded to organize what we had already downsized from the above picture into this tidy, loveliness. Oh, and the great thing is that you can expand this on either side, I’m already thinking if we did another grid of 4 on the side and if we put a board across the top the kids could store their bike helmets here … or whatever. I’m just sayin’ it sparked ideas of expanding the whole storage unit and it’s barely been in my garage for five minutes! Well at least it did for …

After! Easy access to each container - YEAH!!
This Frugal Momma!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School Lunch in a Snap!

So frugal to me doesn't always mean saving money, it can also mean saving time so that I can "spend" it other ways. So I thought I'd share with you a couple of my favorite frugal school morning time saving tips. Enjoy!

Whether your school year has already started or is getting ready to start soon, there certain things that are synonymous with a new school year, new pencils, fresh notebooks, and new backpacks. There are also the typical questions - will I like my new teacher, will I know anyone in class, will I buy lunch or bring one from home? While I can only encourage and reassure my kids about the new school year the lunch question is a no-brainer! I get more control over what they are eating and the cost if I send lunch. Sorry kiddos - Momma pulls rank on this choice!

So new lunch bags were purchased, water bottles were labeled and lunches were planned.

Ready for the first day of school!
With three kids who are not weekday morning people (cartoons on the weekends somehow magically change the mood of these same school day morning slugs) and an early start school (the late bell rings at 8am) mornings are always a little rushed making sure everyone gets ready (dressed, teeth & hair) and fed. So we try and do as much pre-planning and organizing before hand. Clothes are picked out, papers and planners are signed, homework is packed back into backpacks, water bottles are filled and put in the fridge, and showers are taken the night before so mornings are a little easier for everyone (ok read "for Momma" here!)

To make my mornings easier and to give me a couple extra minutes to get ready (or hit the snooze button one last time perhaps) I try and prep as much of the kids lunches before hand. So here are my favorite time saver tips for Back to School Lunches in a Snap!

On Grocery Day:

I keep all of these things in plastic bins either in my school lunch & snack cupboard or in the refrigerator. I find if they are portioned out and in a central location grabbing 3 of each thing in the morning is quick and easy! 
  • Portion out cookies into snack bags
  • Make snack packs of chips (some times I will buy the small bags of chips depending on price)
  • Open the package of cheese & peanut butter crackers so I can grab a pack quick and easy.
On the Weekend:
Depending on our weekend schedule I do these things either Saturday or Sunday, whichever works out. So long as they're done by the end of the day Sunday that's all I really care about!
Even making sandwiches has a 'frugal' process!
  • Make snack packs of carrots or celery sticks, this includes washing/peeling or chopping if necessary  (they get whichever I find on sale, but I try not to have the same thing for more than 2 weeks or they get bored!)

    packed, stacked and ready for the freezer!
  •  I make a weeks worth of peanut butter sandwiches, bag them up, label them and ... freeze them! I do give the kids the choice of if they want jam, jelly or honey on their sandwich so this is why I always put an initial on the outside of plastic baggie (I have a grape jelly hater in my house ... I mean seriously?!)

In the Morning:
So packing lunches in the morning is a real snap and only takes me about 5 minutes I always use a specific part of the counter because this is where I have the empty lunch bags waiting ..

  • Grab water bottles, fruit & veggies from fridge
  • Grab sandwiches from freezer (they are defrosted by lunch time and any jelly hasn't squished through the bread making it soggy!)
  • Grab 3 drink pouches from the top of the fridge
  • Grab 2 boxes from the snack cupboard
  • Pack lunch: Sandwich, Juice Pouch, Apple or Orange, Carrots or Celery, Crackers, Cookies & a bag of chips. Grab the water bottle and into the backpack it all goes! 
Add a bag of chips on the top and it's ready to go!

So if it saves me a few extra minutes to spend snuggling with each of my kids as I wake them up, a little organizing, planning and preparation it is totally worth it to ....

This Frugal Momma!

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Soft, Sexy Legs for Summer

    It’s a rainy day today, the kids are in school and I want to make something. My diet can’t handle baking right now and my budget can’t support a project that I don’t have the supplies for on hand. So this has sent me to my favorite creative inspiring place … Pintrest!  I just love looking at all the creative ideas people post here from food to crafts to cute outfits – I think it’s a one stop shop kind of place for me!
    About a month ago I saw (& pinned of course!) a scrub that claimed it would give you amazing silky smooth legs. I had a friend’s wedding to attend in a few weeks so I decided to whip up a batch as I would be wearing a dress, something I don’t normally do so of course my legs must look amazing! So for two weeks before the wedding I used this sugar scrub on them every couple of days, even if I wasn’t shaving. I did tweak it a bit to my personal preference but used the same basic ingredients (sugar, lemon juice & oil)

    So here’s the recipe:
    1 1/3 cups plain white sugar
    1/2 cup oil (I’ve used olive oil and grape seed oil so feel free to use your favorite.)
    2Tbsp lemon juice

    That’s it! Told you it was simple! So next step after mixing your scrub is to use it of course! Now I did mix it in my glass bowl but I don’t take that into the shower with me (I can see so many bad outcomes!) So I transfer what I think I will need into a plastic container and take it with me. I keep the rest in the fridge – no particular reason except I didn’t know where else to keep it but if you have a shatter proof container I would think you could easily keep it in the bathroom – it would sure be more convenient!

    Now I personally don’t shave in the tub – eww gross! So instead I shave in the shower and here is my best suggestion for getting great soft sexy legs year round:

    Wash & condition your hair – this will give your legs and the hair time to get wet and ready for shaving. You know what the shampoo bottle says – lather, rinse, repeat!

    All mixed up!

    Now things get tricky … well not really! Scrub your legs with the sugar scrub, rinse and shave (don’t use any shave gel, etc.) then scrub and shave again. I know shave twice? This scrub exfoliates the dead skin cells off your legs and shaving them twice using the scrub in between shaves gets any little stubble so you end up with soft, smooth and sexy legs.

    At this point I take a small squirt of soap (or shampoo) and using my foot rub the floor of the shower – it gets a little oily with the scrub but this seems to take care of it no problem. Now, I put lotion on after I get out of the shower, but that’s up to your personal preference.

    So in just a couple of minutes I had an inexpensive scrub using simple ingredients from around my home. And soft, sexy summer legs that will look great in shorts or a dress! Totally fit my budget!

    Well that’s it for …
    This Frugal Momma!

    P.S. Now I have to run and shave my legs before I have to pick the kiddos up from school!

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    DIY Laundry Soap

    I had a wedding shower to attend a month or two ago for a dear friend. I was so excited to go but wanted to come up with a creative, unique gift for this wonderful girl. So checked out my regular blog stops and of course spent a bit of time surfing around pintrest. Came up with some great ideas!

    So I pulled out some of my favorites and tried a few new homemade products. Here’s what I made for her:

    HM Laundry Detergent
    HM Stain Remover
    HM Fabric Softener on reusable Dryer Sheets
    HM Gel Air Freshener
    Personalized bottle of Hand Sanitizer

    DIY Laundry Products

    Here is are some of the items I used to make her gifts – out of all of them the laundry detergent is one of my all time favorites! Here’s the recipe for me it works out to about $0.015 / half cup – yes that’s right about a penny and a half per load!

    Here’s what you need

    1 bar Fels Naptha Soap (.97)
    1 box Borax (.29 / cup)
    1 box A&H Super Washing Soda (.17/cup)
    3 – 1 gallon jugs (empty & rinsed out, labels removed if you like)
    1 medium – large pot
    grater of some kind

    I will say that I don’t have a problem using my pots or kitchen equipment to do this – I wash everything really well afterwards by hand after all everything I am using is a type of cleaner! But if you want to use an old set of kitchen supplies then I’d hit up your local goodwill or thrift store.

    First you need to grate your soap, put this in your pot with about 3 cups of water. Over medium heat stir until completely dissolved.

    Add 1 cup each of borax and washing soda, continue to heat and stir until all the powder is dissolved, maybe 3-4 minutes.

    This is where it gets hard … okay not really!

    Pour the soap into your three bottles, I just eye ball it when I’m using my regular bottles because they are all about the same size and shape. A couple of times I’ve been making several smaller bottles to give away and so there have been times I will take a measuring cup and put equal amounts in all the bottles – but I’m a little OCD like that!

    Final step – add water to each bottle filling each one almost to the top – you need to leave a little room for shaking. Yes you heard me right – shaking! Put the lid on tightly and SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE! Leave it overnight to thicken some and you are ready to go!!

    You will need to give your bottle a shake before each use as it does tend to separate as it sits. When you shake the bottle you will see suds – when you wash your clothes you don’t see much/any suds – it took me a while to get past that because I don’t know about you but I always associated suds = clean. Trust me your clothes will come out just as clean as when you use commercial products but at a fraction of the cost!

    And with three kids every penny counts! Well at least it is for …

    This Frugal Momma

    Hello World!

    Welcome! I hope as you read this blog you will find some creative and interesting ideas to help you and your family save money while having fun!! That’s what it’s all about for me – its not worth saving the money if I can’t do it with my family and we can’t have fun doing it.

    I’m a full time mom who happens to work full time too, outside the home that is. My Darling Husband and I have three awesome kiddos, who keep us busy, on our toes and never cease to amaze.

    DH & I started working towards becoming debt free in 2011, it has been an interesting roller coaster ride this past year and a half and we are getting closer each month. Even though this is important to us we still want to give our kids a great childhood full of memories, laughter and good times.

    So In my OCD little head, one way we can do this is if I’m frugal with every dollar we have and find ways to save us money on the everyday of life so that we can enjoy the memory making moments. I have found some of those memory moments have happened when we build things together, try a new recipe together, or when we’re trying out one of the crazy crafts Momma found on Pintrest (another obsession, but more on that later.)

    Come back and visit often to see the crazy fun we’re up to.
    See ya soon,
    This Frugal Mom