Operation Handmade Holiday!

IMG_2323Operation Handmade Holiday has begun! As I prepare for the holidays this year  I  am taking the pledge to make more gifts than ever before.Yes you can go to a store and BUY things, but isn’t it better to make them ? More personalized and of course cheaper!

I will be chronicling my handmade travels on both  this blog as well as the ROBAY STUDIO blog as well . From soaps to crocheted ornaments ( pictured  to the right)  we will be making lots of gifty items for everyone on your list.

Quick Tip: I usually start by making a list of everyone on my ‘nice’ list 😉  I then sort them by groups, families, single folks, work buddies, kids etc. If you have 5 kids to buy for ask yourself, can I make them all something similar, say crayon roll ups or smock aprons ?  Lots of ladies to buy for  this year? If making soaps and spa gifts try bigger batches to save time!

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Now taking Custom Orders… Oh My!

Well hello again blog. It’s me. Holly J. Been a little busy the baby, juggling playgroups, animals, PR and oh yeah and everything else.

I received my first custom order on Etsy! Very exciting 🙂 I made two pairs of pink cloth shoes with corduroy bottoms for twin baby girls. The mom loved them which was great.

IMG_2044IMG_2045I have also been messing around on my sewing machine, which isn’t a good idea as I have so much to do! Bay needed a wearable sleep blanket as he was chilly in the evenings. Instead of paying 30$ I decided to try and make it. How hard could it be ?  I swore a LOT:

IMG_2112But its done and he likes it. He really likes it. Can’t you tell ?

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We have TWO shows coming up and have items due to a fabulous store. Soon to be revealed! We are also working on a facebook page!

I have been very busy doing PR for the Boston Vegetarian Soceity a cause near and dear to my heart despite my last post on a chicken recipe. The BVFF is holding their annual Boston Vegetarian Food Fest coming up October 31st and November 1st in Boston. This is a fabulous FREE event with FREE parkings. Wonderful vendors, speakers, and of course samples! We love going to this every year! Its a great chance to try out some of the veggie foods you wouldn’t otherwise try, also bring the kidlets.

Halloween is on the horizon, I am so excited about taking Bay out! He plans to be a giraffe if and only if mommy makes his costume!

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The Easiest Recipe In The World

I do love to cook but sometimes I just want to curl up on the couch and relax. My husband loves a good roast chicken and I love it because it can make multiple meals. Think chicken soup and chicken salad! Aren’t I a good vegetarian wife…

Try this easy recipe:photo

Ingredients:

1 small chicken

1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs, or 2 tbsp dried

1/2 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves minced

1 small onion, peeled

5 carrots, peeled, trimmed  and halved

Salt & Pepper

Clean the chicken and stuff with small onion. Place in a small baking dish. Rub on olive oil , garlic and salt and pepper, sprinkle with herbs and line carrots around the chicken. Cover with foil and place in the oven on 350 for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 min to brown.

That’s it!!!!

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DIY Wreath!

The magic of a glue gun and some patience saves oodles of time. Skip the pricey store bought wreathes and opt for spending some time being crafty.

The wreath at the end of this post was made for under $5. Materials were purchased on sale and I also used a twig wreath from last year.

Step 1: Grab a twig wreath as your base. They are super cheap and come in a variety of sizes. Purchase fake berries, small gourds,  leaves or even colored buttons for  vintage look.

Step 2: Pick a starting point and start building your wreath. It is best to start with the larger leaves or flowers. Place smaller boughs and gourds in the bare spots. If you are worried about gluing everything down, try a couple different positions for your materials first then glue.

Step3: Glue guns ARE your friend! I have two different sized glue guns. Depending on the project they retail for under $12. ( check the paper for coupons both Michaels and AC Moore have coupons weekly for 10%-30% off full priced merchandise.)

The key to using the gun is a allocating a dollop and twisting the “pull” or glue reminisce until it releases from your material. Its all in the wrist and it takes practice.

Step 4: If you feel that you made a mistake pull the piece off the wreath after it dries, scrape off the glue and start again! When the season is over you can either store wreathes in a wreath box, or garbage bag in the basement.

I like to remove all matieral from wreathes and pull off glue at the end of the season and recycle materials for next year. I store each season’s matierals in labeled sandwich bags and place them with the season’s decor for storage.

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Slight addiction starting…

Ok, confession time. I have a slight addiction starting… TO FELTING! Ugh my god I love it. I have made two hats one for Bay one to sell. Check em’ out:

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This one is for sale. I think it would be a 3-6 mos but I need to try it oun Bay to be sure.

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Top Ways We Save Moola.

One of my favorite blogs did a blog post about cutting down on waste. It inspired me to talk about the top 5 ways we save money in our home. I hope this encourages you to share your tips!

As I have now been home for 8  months( wow,  has it been 8 months ?)  I have had the opportunity to reconnect with home life and really take the time to take a look at our budget.

Top 5 Ways We Save Money

1) Green Cleaning:

About a year ago I purchased a mega bottle of Simple Green cleaner for my home. I am still working on it. I think the bottle cost me $8? I use a vinegar and water mixture for sterilizing toys. I also have a few Seventh Gen, Sun & Earth and Caldrea products from sales and coupons.

We have put a serious dent in our paper towel buying by using rags made of my husband’s old undershirts. Cut em’ up, bleach em’ out and use em’. This was one of our New Year’s resolutions and we really don’t miss them. I do keep a roll in the house for puppy accidents or guests ( even though I always offer up a clean rag for them. )

2) Cooking

We cook every night. If we don’t, we don’t eat. Easy as that. I can not remember the last time we ordered out. It’s difficult cooking for a vegetarian, a meat eater and a baby eating solids but somehow I get it done. Cooking in not only saves loads it’s much healthier in the long run.

I make a menu every two weeks ( conincides with paychecks) and plan what we are going to make. I use leftovers and try not to be wasteful.

If you do opt to eat out try Restaurant.com for discounted giftcards.

3)redbox:

Top movies for $1 a night- enough said. Enter code BREAKROOM or DVDONME for free rentals. ( FYI- They only work once per card.) Sign up for their weekly newsletter to recieve  more free codes.

4) Cloth Diapers:

As you know we cloth diaper. It doesn’t take up as much time as one would think. I do a load every 2-3 days. I was using regular, non-green ( gasp!) laundry detergent but I recently switched to a natural homemade blend. ( Just call me Mrs. Duggar) a great recipe recommended by a fellow mom.

The investment in cloth diapers was a bit hairy but we do save by not having to purchase as many disposeables. I keep one pack of disposables in the house just incase we run out of cloths and its laundry day.

One way to save on creating your diaper stash is buying diapers secondhand. I would say that we have apromixatley 40% secondhand cloths. Check your local Craigslist or DiaperSwappers.

5) Making Gifts:

I always say my husband is the luckiest SOB I have ever met because he has not had to purchase a gift for anyone in the last 7 years. For Christmas last year we gave out hand stamped muslin cedar bags and small glass herb jars filled with organic French herbs.  They were a hit and were very inexpensive to assemble.The year before we took Mason jars and planted paperwhite bulbs with river rocks. Everyone loved that gift.  T Kids birthdays I make T-Shirts with cupcakes or bibs from ROBAY STUDIO.

BONUS) Water, water everywhere…. DRINK IT.

We have saved hundreds by elimnating juice and soda from our house! We drink water all the time. Over the summer we did splurge on some lemonade here and there but for the most part water is number one. No calories and best of all its virtually FREE. We installed a PUR water filter on our tap. Opt for the one that takes out 99% of pharmaceuticals.

6) Coupons ( We call them ‘Coups’ to make them sound a little more fun 😉

My mother did coupons when I was a wee little one and I always dreaded Sunday because she used to make me cut them. ( Can’t wait til Bay is old enough!) I recently have rediscovered the power of these magical pieces of paper. You cut them out and it saves you DOLLAR BILLS. Really they do.

The kicker is you have to get coups for what you actually use. I just put ink in our printer and have started printing them online. It’s important to call your stores and see if they accept them. Most do.

Last week I did a test to see how much using printed coups could really save me. Here’s the loot:

IMG_1907Cost for this shopping trip: $7.08

(2) Healthy Choice Meals priced at $2.50 used two $2 off coups=.50$ each

Nature Source Bathroom Cleaner priced at 2.99 used one Target $1 off coup + a manufacturers coup for $1 off. =$.99

Up & Up Target brand disenfecting wipes priced at 1.99 used a Target $1 off coup =$.99

* Note I usually don’t buy these but the world has gotten even germier. I keep them in the car and use after the library and grocery shopping.

Whole Wheat Pasta Priced at 1.19 used one$1 off coup=$1.38 for two!

Chef Michael’s Dog Food Products, used a few buy one get one coups plus a few free coups.

* I usually buy Trader Joes canned but these were a great deal!

Silk Soy Milk priced at $2 used a $.50 coup=$1.50

As you can see I saved a lot of $$$. I am so excited to do grocery shopping this week with our printed coups!

Now I ask you , what are your tips? How does your family or household save cash?

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Upping the Creative Anty

Still sick. Poor little Bay is sick too! We had a good weekend though, made the most of it. Swimming has begun again and they are a bunch of energy filled  little ones!

We had the opportunity to go to Tower Hill in Boylston. They were celebrating one of their directors I believe and admisson was FREE! We were so excited to take Bay there. Here are some photos from the trip:

IMG_1846 Beautiful Fountain in the Atrium

IMG_1850Cherub Statue in the main Garden

IMG_1875Fountain Sculpture

IMG_1881Buddha’s Hand

IMG_1851Top: Meyer Lemon Tree Bottom: Lime Tree

As you can see it is a beautiful place. These few photos don’t do it justice. The weather was amazing.

I finally finished some shower gifts. Can’t post photos as the mom to be reads the blog 😉 but I made the happy couple some beautiful much needed accessories for baby. Still shoe making but slowly. Things have been moving very slowly the past few weeks.

We finally put ink in our printer and I will now become a complete coupon whore. I have been dabbling with the  local paper but printables, well they offer another world of couponing. I have been reading a number of blogs on the subject- most based out west, coincidence? I think not.  I have been learning about how to properly shop at CVS, Walgreens and all the other stores. I think I get it and over the next few weeks I am determined to get more for my dollar while still maintaining our healthy eating style.  I’ll keep you posted…

Off to bed. Lets pray my cough is gone by tomorrow.

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