Frugal Weekend Shopping from Your Sofa

A friend of mine shared a gift card with me to ThredUp.  I’ve been hearing about them, but never checked it out before now.  I looked around their site and was amazed at the selection of stylish stuff for thrift store prices.  Some of the items are brand new, some are gently used.  Each description is clear on what you are buying.  If there is a flaw, it’s clearly described so you can make an informed decision.

I picked out 2 dresses, a pair of studded skinny corduroy jeans, and a tunic top with a fun leaf print.  After my gift card savings it was shipped to my door for around $35.

Now here’s the part I wasn’t expecting:

polka dot box

Polka Dot Box

Polka Dot Promise

Cute little note on the inside flap.

Enjoy sticker

Tissue gift wrapped and sealed with an enjoy sticker.

Stuff Thred Up

There’s my stuff–it’s clean, inspected, and tagged.  Definitely not a thrift store shopping experience. (Ever feel like you need a good hand washing and maybe a shower after shopping at a thrift store?)

Thred up Tag

Thred Up Tag Back

Part of the reason why I ordered a few new clothing items is I’ve gained 20 pounds since I became ill last December.   I chose things that would fit me now and still look nice when I find healing and get my body under control.

Black Lace Dress

This is a stretch black dress (I brightened it and messed up the color so you could see the cool detail.)  The star burst style is Very figure flattering and the stretchy fit means it will still look great even if I get smaller again.

Studded Courderoys

Navy Blue Studded Corduroys.  I heart studs right now.  The low rise cut means they still fit in my old size (because of my hormone imbalance I’m only gaining weight in my middle area and my thighs and hips are staying the same size.) These are probably the highest quality pair of pants I’ve ever owned.


This leaf top was listed as a dress, but it is just a few inches longer than my bum.  It is an adorable tunic top to wear with my white skinny jeans and a belt to accentuate what’s left of my waist.

Sun dress with yellow belt

The last item I bought was this yellow belted strappy dress.  I thought I would be a safe choice since it is an empire waist, but it wouldn’t zip :(.  This is tucked in the back of my closet as inspiration to keep making healthy food choices.  Heidi might borrow it while I’m working towards being able to wear it.

Overall, I’m thrilled with my whole experience with ThredUp and will definitely shop there again.  If you’d like to try it, here’s a $10 gift card to get you started.  If you shop with that link, not only will you get $10, but they’ll send me $10 too :).

Feeling Blessed and Free Baby Crochet Patterns

The readers here are amazing.  One of you sent my son a pair of shoes so I wouldn’t spend the money left in my clothing budget, even though the money was there.  She wanted me to get a head start on our 200 ways to save $100.   Another reader emailed to ask me what sizes the kids are because her friends are always looking for places to pass down clothes.  And our family worship group has taken turns bringing us dinner for the month of October after we found out our foundation needs help.  It’s more than we deserve.

Heidi and I crocheted a few baby hats over the weekend for the Women’s Clinic.  Thinking too much about myself and our drama is a pathway to depression.  So we decided to break the cycle and do something for someone else.  We used this free pattern:


Hat picture belongs to

The hat worked up super fast.  We could make a hat in less than an hour all while visiting together and building our relationship.  My niece got in on the action too. There’s nothing as much fun as making something for a baby! And doing it with friends is even better.

And then I crocheted up this little peacoat for my new niece or nephew. By adapting what I learned from making the girl hat above I made a matching hat inspired by this one.  I also made a little tie onesie to go inside the jacket. It  is meant to help the mother feel the joy of the blessing that is coming in the midst of the overwhelm of daily life.  Sometimes at the beginning of a pregnancy it all feels surreal and can be overwhelming when there’s already a house full of children.  Holding something for the new baby helped me feel a connection to the new life.  And hearing the heartbeat helped a bunch too.  So even though the new baby isn’t due until May, we are giving the little package to the mother tonight.

Baby Boy Crochet Layette

 I had so much fun with these projects (all from stash too–so no new money spent) that I started this sweater for Grant:


I had gathered all the supplies one week at a time, using a 40% coupon for each skein of yarn and have had them for awhile.  I plan to make the brown part on the arms a lot shorter to match the length of ribbing on the rest of the sweater and am using YouTube videos to learn all the little parts of knitting (like how to cast on and SSK.)

Now that I see this list of projects, I see why my house is a wreak.  Forehead slap.

We have settled into a routine with dinner at a table all together and homework in the one room left with furniture in it.  Sometimes there are more stories and laughter than progress on homework, but it’s happiness to be spending time together as a family again. We are resting from projects and just living.  Next week we have 3 foundation companies coming out to give estimates.  Until then, we are finding a new normal in our space.

I’m starting to look forward to cooking again.  I gave myself a head start by putting a breakfast casserole in the slow cooker last night.   Darren said I could assemble a few of our lower cabinets if I wanted to put some of my dishes away on the main floor.  That sounds like a good plan to me :).  I’m gathering a list of crock-pot breakfast recipes and autumny foods that can be made without an oven. I’ll post on what turns out well.


Sew a Child’s Painting Smock: Tutorial

In an effort to save money on school supplies, I’m stitching up a painting smock for Brandon, the Kindergartener.


I started by following this tutorial.  It is excellent!  I made some changes since Brandon is too big for this size and I didn’t have any oil cloth in my stash.

I did a quick search at for oil cloth–just to see if I could justify the cost.  They have adorable prints averaging $15 a yard.  You only need 1/2 yard of fabric to make this, so $7.50 for a cute paint smock isn’t too bad. (But you’ll need to order extra stuff so you can get free shipping :).) Hobby Lobby also has some cute laminated fabrics in their decorator aisle and 40% off coupons available.  If you bind the edges with bias tape, you can wash it (The glue holding the fabric to the vinyl will wash out and separate the two layers without stitching them together in advance.)

Since I’m trying to do this without spending, I put my thinking cap on and remembered I had some clear vinyl in my stash.  So I layered it with a cute cotton print for the same waterproof effect and no money out of pocket!

Materials Needed:

1/2 yard of printed cotton

1/2 yard clear vinyl

4 yards of double fold bias tape

2 inches of sew in hook and loop tape, cut into two 1 inch pieces

1.  Cut a rectangle 40-44″ (selvage to selvage) by 17-18 inches wide. (Straighten your half yard of fabric and see what you have left.)

2.  Fold it into fourths and use a t-shirt to trace a neck hole.  I used a pencil and traced following the seamline underneath.  And cut it out.  While it is still folded round the lower corner (on the opposite edge–none of the rounds should be over a fold–I messed this up the first time.)




3.  Open up the rectangle and place it face down on the vinyl and trim it–giving yourself about 1″ extra vinyl all the way around.  Pin it with hair clips to keep from making extra holes in the vinyl.


4.  Now baste the two pieces together on the machine.  It helps to sew with the vinyl side up and if you have a walking foot, definitely use it.  Mine is broken, so instead I reduced the pressure foot tension a little and reduced the upper thread tension from a 5 to a 2.  (This kept the lower fabric from gathering up as I sewed.  It also helps to have room to lay your stuff out flat to the left of the machine.


5.  Don’t forget to baste around the neck hole too.  Then trim the vinyl to the same size as your fabric. It looks best if you trim very close to the basting stitches cutting both the vinyl and the cotton.  This makes sure your basting won’t show after you bind it.


6.  Bind everything with bias tape.  I used a triple zigzag stitch to make sure I caught everything well. I only had narrow bias tape in my stash, but would have preferred wider stuff.  Mine was super vintage–$.45 a package!  And I’m not sure, but I bet they don’t come with 4 yards in a package any more.


Stitch #8 is the triple zigzag

Stitch #8 is the triple zigzag

7.  Measure 9″ down from the shoulder fold and place velcro or a button on each side to hold it together. I zigzagged all the way around the velcro outside edges.


All tucked in his school supply bin ready for the first day of school.


Thrift Store Finds

I took a short break one day last week and ran to the thrift store by my home.  I took with me a trash bag of donations.  There wasn’t a lot–a king duvet cover; a nice woman’s shirt that was too small; a curtain rod and a pillow.  They gave me a 30% off your entire purchase coupon to use that day and a 20% off coupon for another time.  Woo Hoo!

I was looking for a new purse in a spring color.  A pair of jeans that didn’t scream, “I’m a mom of 6.”  And anything I might be able to wear for Easter–also Easter things for Heidi.

I found:


A tankini top that fit wonderfully.  It was $2.99 regular priced.  I have a whole bolt of black swimsuit fabric that I got at a garage sale that is begging to become matching bottoms.


A bag of plastic fruit.  This is the realistic kind that mature ladies use in bowls on their counters–not really meant for toys.   But I bought it for toys since it looks so real :).  Regular price $1.99.


This one is hard to show without modeling, but it’s an amazing tank top with a draped neck and ruching and studs on one shoulder.  It still had the brand new tags on it.  Regularly $7.99.


I found both these bags.  One will be the perfect spring purse ($4.99) and the other holds my scriptures for church ($1.99).  So fun that they are the same color but one is printed.  I haven’t had a new scripture bag since I was 12. Turns out they also match my diaper bag–it was meant to be.


Then I found this adorable top that will be perfect for work. $7.99–seems brand new.


And not sure what happened to the picture, but I also found a pair of jeans (Maurices) in low rise boot cut ($7.99).  It’s hard for me to wear skinny jeans when boot cut does such amazing things for my figure.  But I did get a lighter wash this time (mainly because it was my only choice, lol.) But it does look nice and Springy–although the darker wash was more slimming.

I did search for Heidi but came up dry.  She’s a hard one to buy for.  I found her Easter dress at Target (see previous post for pictures :).)

Easter Sunday

I’m not very good at taking pictures and don’t have a shot of their Easter baskets.  I bought plastic bucket style baskets at Walmart for $.97 each. They look just like ice cream tubs but say Happy Easter and have spring things on them.  I intended to sew covers for ice cream tubs I already had on hand, but I decided it was better to be cheerful and sane and have dinner on the table.  (My 10 year younger self would have made a different choice, lol.)


The tubs were all the same so I bought a different color of plastic grass for each one.  They will turn these items in in the morning and I will stack everything into my spring bin for next year so I don’t have to spend the money on it again.

Heather Easter 2013

I filled their tubs with:  silly string; bubbles; assorted chocolates from Dollar tree; Easter theme pencils; matchbox cars for the boys; and hair stuff for the girls.  They had choir practice early this morning so instead of hiding them, I stuck them right in front of their faces so when they woke up it was the first thing they saw.  It was very effective–almost more fun than a hunt.

Heather and Heidi Easter 2013

The Easter photos are on the porch at Mom’s house.  Heather’s dress came from Costco ($16.99) and Heidi’s came from Target ($20.00 on sale.)  We also bought Heidi a skinny belt to got with the dress and she wore her shoes from last year.  We would have all been happier if Heidi’s dress was about 3 inches longer.  Hello, Designers.  Are you listening? It was 3 inches longer than the other dresses being shown.

Angela and Darren

I wore a skirt I ordered from Kohl’s when they had 20% off their sale prices plus free shipping.  If I had shopped for it in store I wouldn’t have purchased it because the fabric is so thin that it shows every lump.  I had to iron my slip because the wrinkles from being in my drawer showed through! I love the stripes though.

The tank has lace at the top and bottom and was from my maternity pile (though I don’t think it is a maternity tank.)  The sweater came from Target last week ($15 on sale.) And the shoes I’ve had for years but rarely wear them since they are linen and I’m afraid to get them dirty.  I wore these footbed sock liners with them instead of hose and they were very comfortable all day and not at all sweaty.

Heidi and Heather

It’s hard to see but I found a huge coral stone necklace at Forever 21 that was the inspiration behind the sweater and them some white stone earrings in a similar style at Target.  Anyway, this is probably the most I’ve purchased for Easter–we usually sew and don’t go for jewelry much, but it was a nice change of pace this year.

Grant Hunting Eggs

The boys weren’t into dressing up and since I’ll being buying Brandon (5) a black suit in June to be a ring bearer, we held off on the new stuff right now.

We had a lovely service at church with the children’s choir and adult choir providing ministry.  Darren was an advanced greeter (code name for the security team) so spent the service standing outside wearing an ear wig to make sure that everyone inside was safe.  That left me juggling the children and I’m glad I sat in front of my brother who could grab Brandon by the neck when he got squirrely after I left to take Grant out.

Dub and Grant

After that we headed to my mom’s with my brother and his family for a roasted chicken dinner with scalloped potatoes; homemade rolls; fruit salad; lettuce salad; cheesy broccoli; green beans; and 3 kinds of dessert.  Plus all the chocolate candy we could want.  And I didn’t cook any of it, although I did set the table with my Sister in law’s help.  (Does that count for anything to keep me from total slacker status?)


It rained a lot yesterday, so Mom planned an indoor egg hunt.  Each child had a unique color egg to hunt for.  That way we could hide the eggs simply for Grant and super challenging for Heidi.


After the egg hunt we sat around in the living room and took turns talking and napping until the evening was well on.  The children spent the entire time playing out in the yard leaving the house quiet and perfect for adult conversation.  Interesting that not one of them came in muddy after all the fuss of having an indoor egg hunt, lol.

Happy Easter to you and your Family.

Jesus is Alive and is preparing a place for you and me, our loving advocate with the Father who has won the victory!

Organizing Clothes

Here's a shared girl closet from our previous home.

Here’s a shared girl closet from our previous home.

At the end of this be sure to click the link to a previous post about how I like to make sure we have just the right amount of clothing for our needs and space limitations.

But first, I have updated pictures of the little boy’s closet.  This closet houses 2 boys and the third boy has the 2nd closet in the room.  It’s a big room even for 3 boys.

Whenever I am organizing clothes, I think about what the needs of that specific person is.  Some will need lots of shoe space, others are more into ball caps, or t-shirts.

I love this look for Grant's closet. Espeically the lamp and artwork in it.  Right now we have a changer in his closet, but when he's out of diapers....hmm.

Photo from BHG. I love this look for Grant’s closet. Especially the lamp and artwork in it. Right now we have a changer in his closet, but when he’s out of diapers….hmm. Would need a lower bar for him.

Here are the 3 things that I was hoping for:

1.  Low hanging  bars that the boys could reach that could be moved up as they grew.

2.  Basket storage for their non-hanging clothes.  We have no dressers since our previous house was so small.  I purchased twin beds with drawers in the bottom.  This worked great  in the tiny house. Now that we have more options, the boys found the drawers annoying since their blankets are always in the way.

3.  High shelves for storing off-season or next size up clothing and bed linens.

Here’s a reminder of the before picture: (Ok, this is their sister’s before closet, but they looked the same.  It was even her stuff in their closet…long story.) They are twin closets that share a back wall.

Closet Before

We demolished the old closet and painted everything a bright white including the ceiling–which was a huge improvement since the room has no natural light. (I used Behr ultra-pure white in egg-shell.)

Closet during

Then Darren installed a Rubbermaid closet system that is moveable for when the boys get older.  The baskets are from dollar tree.

We sorted through their clothes and got rid of what didn’t fit or they wouldn’t wear.  And then labeled their bins and moved it in. There’s a little stool until Dub’s side since his jeans are still a little high for him.

Boy's closet after 1

A little later I ordered the robot rug from (on their 75% off black Friday sale.) And grabbed the huge mirror at Old Time Pottery.  It was $40 instead of $60 because of the gold on the frame.  The gold isn’t my favorite but I figured $20 would buy a lot of spray paint.

We will hang the mirror eventually.

Ignore the lady in the mirror

Ignore the lady in the mirror and the finger smudges…Oh and the price tag.  Not sure I should have used this photo after all…


I would love some motivational artwork for the walls and some peel and stick tiles that look like wood since the rug doesn’t cover all the original floor tiles (which are industrial looking and crumbling.)

Monkey Hamper

They have a monkey hamper (from Target)  in the corner by the door.  When Grant changes his clothes we hand the dirty ones to him and tell him to “Go Feed the Monkey.”  He LOVES this!  And always gives himself a wild round of applause.


Here’s a closeup of the chalkboard labels.  They are cut from chalkboard contact paper stuck to cereal boxes for strength.  Then stuck onto the baskets with scotch tape folded over on itself.  (All about cheap here, lol.)

We drew pictures on Brandon’s because he doesn’t read quite yet. It was very upsetting to him because then the whole world would know where his underpants go, lol.  As if the whole world was going to be in his closet, and actually cared, or couldn’t read the word “underwear.”

You’ll notice I’m not particular about how neatly the socks go in the basket.  I could do them neatly myself but as long as the 5 year old can keep the socks in the basket and not on the floor, that’s a High 5 for him.  This closet was all about something the boys could maintain themselves.


Up high is a tub for Warren to grow into and one for Brandon.  In the middle is a tiny suitcase for overnights.

This post shaped up to be a lot longer than I first expected.  (I snuck up to the sick room to snap some more pictures and didn’t dare move anything for fear of waking them–so it’s pretty real and not perfect.  You’re ok with that, right?)

And here’s the promised link to how to know how many and what kinds of clothes you need:

Saving Money on Clothing Part 1 (be sure to click on to part 2 for the good stuff)

Getting Stains out of Stored Clothes

Help Children Help


Summer Transformation Challenge and Checking In

We are back from Reunion and I have some photos and video to post later from Heather’s baptism.  What a lovely, glorious day!  I’ve been busy catching up on laundry and housework since then.

I also joined Holly’s Summer Transformation Challenge (STC) over at Club FYM.  I love it over there and writing in my journal takes the place of some of why I write here.  So when I’m in a challenge with Fit Yummy Mummy, I tend to want to neglect my blog.  I’m going to try hard not to do that this time.  As part of that challenge I’m writing a meal plan for 1–that coincides with what my family is eating too.  Theirs has more carbs and calories since they are all skinny.  But we are all eating healthy.  Here’s my plan for this week:

You can click on the image to see it bigger if the print is hard to read. PI stands for Planned Indulgence.

Also new for me, I’ve started teaching a sewing class on Monday nights in my new office.  It’s great fun! And right now am working on sewing my fall jacket that I’ve had fabric and pattern for over a year and never made the time to make it. I’m using this from

with this pattern:


New! Centsable Style Ebook

Hooray!  I worked through the learning curve and my new ebook is now available.  I tried something new this time and embedded some how-to video files in it.  This ebook takes the Grocery Shrink method from the first ebook about food and shows you how to use the same principles to shrink your clothing budget, all without compromising your style. This book is vital this time of year as we switch from warm weather to cool weather clothes. Let me show you how to make that change as painless as possible.

It is 50 pages long and includes printable pages to help you plan clothing menus for every member of your family.  This ebook shows you how to eliminate waste, maximize your dollars, and keep it organized at the same time.  For a larger view of the contents click on the photo below:

Until September 22nd, this e-book is available for half price  $10  $5!

Add to CartView Cart

 Please note this is a ditigal file and nothing will come in the mail.  As soon as your payment is received download instructions will be emailed to you.  Sometimes these are sent to to the spam folder by accident.  If you have any trouble, please email me and I’ll fix it for you.

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We started our homeschool today and so far I’ve only lost my patience a handful of times, sigh.  A sign that I am still overwhelmed even with 2 kiddoes in school.  On the bright side, I think I will be able to teach those 2 well and the baby and 3 year old are being fairly cooperative.  Brandon is sticking to my side like glue during Dub’s lessons and I expect he will pick up quite a bit by listening in.  (Ooh, did I tell my blog friends that I am sending 2 children to private church school this year?  It was a terribly hard choice but the right one.  I’m so happy about it and it’s fodder for a new post..with darling first day of school photos.)

Today I am also working on planning for our clothing needs for fall and winter.  This is my favorite part of homemaking!  (Besides cooking–and eating, lol.)  I’m writing all of how we do frugal clothes in a brand new ebook complete with imbedded video (if all goes well) and hope to release it  the week of Labor Day.  There will be a special introductory sale the first day that  you’ll want to take advantage of.  Now…the pressure’s on for me to finish in time!

Clothing plannin is especially fun becuase we have a spring baby!  That means that the older brother clothes are the wrong season for him during the baby months (though will work fine once he is in size 24 months.)  And I get to hunt for baby bargains :). Our baby is also a pottying EC baby (EC=Elimination Communication.) Which means his clothing needs are slightly different than the average baby.  Onesies don’t work well here since we leave him diaper cover free at home, and the flaps get damp if we have a miss (potty accident.)  For summer, I just used a t-shirt and diaper with a hand knitted soaker cover when we slip out. I cut the flaps off a few onesies to extend his wardrobe, but didn’t love doing that. 

I noticed Children’s Place has some non-onesie baby shirts starting in size 6-9 months.  With the coupon code (A7E2011) good today only for 20% off plus free shipping, the shirts are only $4.80 each.  I’m not into dressing my kiddoes like punk rockers or in clothing with skulls, so the choies were limited.  I found 3 shirts that will work great and plan to sew some envelope top shirts from thermal knit (all stash) later.  But since I’ll be drafting the pattern for these…I’m happy to order a few shirts to get by until I have time.

Though I’m using cloth diapers now, I’m ready to have underwear for the babe now since it is easier with pottying.  I found this super cute pattern on etsy for underwear style training pants that come in wee babe sizes (starting at 6-9 months) and  big boy sizes too (up to 12 years).  By sewing these from stash fabrics, I’ll save $12-15 a pair!  The pattern looks fantastic–very professional and easy to understand with some great tips.  I was excited that all my boys said they’d wear underwear like that (the pattern has an optional soaker that can be left out for big boys or girls) if I used camo fabric, lol.  This is not a paid endorsement of the pattern, just a happy customer.  I’ll let you know more how I like it once I stitch a few pairs up.

Underwear Style Training Pants PDF Sewing Pattern

Anyhoo, that’s my day today.  I’m slapping myself that I haven’t put a newsletter out in 4 weeks.  I need to write those ahead since the end of the week is always so busy!

Quality Vs Quantity

My husband and I have different opinions about buying clothes, but we both spend about the same amount. He would rather pay a lot for high quality stuff that he really likes and then wear it for the next 15-20 years. I would rather buy something inexpensive that I really like, wear it out in one or two seasons, sell it in a garage sale for almost what I paid for it, and then buy new.

For example, on our honeymoon, 12 years ago, Darren purchased a $300 Columbia brand coat. It had a zip-out liner, NASA invented thermal liner, tons of pockets and more. He wears the liner as his spring jacket, the shell for a rain coat and when it’s cold he zips it together and wears the whole thing. I nearly had a heart attack when he bought the coat, but so far it’s only cost us $25 a year to use it and he’ll be wearing it for quite awhile longer.

I bought a Columbia brand coat (without so many bells and whistles) at a garage sale this summer for $5. I wore it all winter, am tired of it, and will put it in our garage sale for $5. I’m on the lookout this summer for something about that price in another style.

A few months after our honeymoon, Darren purchased a pair of Johnston and Murphy black dress shoes with leather soles for about $175. The first soles lasted 6 years and he has had them resoled 2 times at $35 each. He polishes them faithfully and keeps them looking brand new. The cost per year (including new soles) has been about $20 a year and they are still going. On the other hand, I love shoes. Shoes with ruffles, straps, and heels. Black shoes, silver shoes, red shiny shoes, pink shoes with black trim…I’d be sad with just one pair of dress shoes. So I buy my shoes at garage sales for $1-3 or at Payless for around $15. They last a year or two before wearing, or I’m tired of them, put them in the garage sale and take the money to get something different.

While Darren’s shopping style makes me uncomfortable since I personally can’t commit to clothing like he can.  It hasn’t cost us a lot of money through the years.  There’s nothing wrong with buying nice stuff, if you can pay for it, and you know that you will wear it often and long enough to make it worth the price.   I look for quality too, but I prefer to buy used quality items.  Clothing drops in resale value faster than a new car, but when you buy used, you can generally sell your clothing for what you paid for it.

So which are you? Do you commit to quality higher priced items over a long period of time?  Or do you prefer to buy used  more often?