Friday, March 30, 2007

Frugal Fridays-Frugal Fresh Flowers

I love to decorate with simple bouquets of fresh flowers. It doesn't even have to be a whole bouquet-just a stem or two will often look great! But just going out and buying a bunch of flowers in the grocery store is expensive. I used to pick up a "cheap" bunch when I did my grocery shopping at Wal-mart, but now either the prices on flowers have gone up or I don't have as much extra money to spend. Could be either.:-)

Call me weird, but I don't like the clutter or the have-to-clean of silk flowers. Of course, there is a time and a place for them, but as a general rule, I don't like to have too many of these in my house. I prefer fresh.

While I still buy a bouquet every now and then- (I have found that daisies are usually a great choice, because they last longer and one of those bunches can make about 4 small bouquets. Carnations are also not that expensive.) I've found that using the flowers and greenery that are already around my yard is fun, looks great and is priced right!

I don't have many flowers growing, but that's where the creative aspect comes in. Look beyond the normal"cut flower" varieties for many interesting options!

I think one of the first Christmas' we were married, I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't afford to buy garlands of greenery and such, when my mom told me to go out and cut greenery from the yard and arrange it. I did and it looked so nice and I felt so frugal that I've adopted that idea for the whole year!

So far from my own yard, I've used:
  • holly(for winter)
  • ivy
  • greenery from various bushes
  • azaleas(I have these in a bouquet right now. They don't last long once cut, but are so pretty and I know where I can find more!)
  • flowering branches
  • camellias
  • daffodils (I only have 2 blooms that come up every year, but we enjoy them on the dining room table while we can!)
  • zinnias(in the summer)
  • mums(in the fall)
Other non-flower ideas that are nice natural ways to decorate are with seashells, pine cones or even interesting twigs and branches. I made a centerpiece that I used most of this winter that consisted of a tray with a couple of candles on it and then pine cones scattered all around.

Once you have the flowers or greenery, be creative with containers for your bouquets. Vases are nice, but not the only option. I use ceramic or glass pitchers, teapots and teacups, canning jars and even shallow bowls for larger flowers that would be nice floating arrangements. By thinking outside the vase, you will discover that you may have something nice to use without having to buy a vase.

Another option is to make friends with neighbors who have lots of flowers or a nice garden! Of course, you would always want to ask before taking someone else's flowers, but often they will not mind sharing with you if you ask nicely.

When driving out in the country, I will stop if I see great wildflowers along the road. These make great bouquets. I've found wild roses, black-eyed susans and many other kinds this way. You have to be careful about bringing bugs home with you this way, but usually that's just a minor detail.;-)

Don't worry about your arranging techniques. I am not a professional either. I just plop stuff in the containers and then fix it until I think it looks nice. I really like the casual look of flowers just setting in a jar, unarranged. Often one or two blooms are all you need for an elegant arrangement with a candle. It all depends on the look you are going for.

By looking around your yard, you too, will be able to bring original bouquets into your home. Try it-you might just like it!

For more frugal ideas, please visit Biblical Womanhood!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Cleaning-Hallway

I'm not sure if the small hallway in our house qualifies as a room, but it is an area of its own! I spring cleaned it yesterday. This was a great motivator task-it took me about 15 minutes to clean the whole area.

Here's what I did:
  • wash full-length mirror
  • sweep cobwebs
  • clean light fixture
  • scrub baseboards, doors and door frames and some spots on the walls as needed
  • vacuum floors
I'm glad to have another area in the house crossed off the list! I have the laundry room scheduled for tomorrow-I will need to post before and after pictures for that one. The laundry room is in sad, sad need of help!

Today, I'm baking French bread, doing weekly cleaning in the living and dining rooms and working outside in the yard. A fun activity for this morning is a trip to Lowe's Food for triple coupon day! I'm looking forward to what God will provide for us.:-)

For more spring cleaning motivation, be sure to visit the homespun heart!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Frugal Fridays:Creative Storage Containers

I love baskets and great storage containers, but my budget says otherwise! While I have a few nice wicker baskets around the house, I haven't been able to afford them everywhere I would like them to be. Ever since we've been married, I've stored my dishrags, kitchen towels and cloth napkins folded and rolled in stacks on the bottom shelf of my baker's rack in the dining room. (I have very few drawers and cabinets in the kitchen and these cloth items are probably a more toddler-friendly item to have out in plain sight!) One day not long ago, I was getting frustrated about how sloppy my stacks were looking and thinking how nice it would look to have perfect little wicker baskets setting there on the shelf. Then I started thinking about maybe using something that I already had-but what could that be?
These gingham-covered shoe boxes were the finished result! My husband's large shoe size finally came in handy-the boxes are exactly the right size to line the shelf. When I get another one(and I know I will eventually!:-), I'll wait until I find some yellow gingham and then cover that one to finish off the shelf. I love gingham and my colors pretty much throughout the whole house are different shades of red, blue and yellow. I had this fabric on hand. I cut the fabric large enough to fold down onto the bottom of the box. Then I cut the lid off the box and cut it to fit in the bottom of the box, then covered each "lid with fabric and glued it. I covered the boxes and folded the fabric at the edges until it looked nice to me-then I pushed the fabric-covered lid into the bottom. Not only does the extra cardboard at the bottom give more stability, but it also holds the outside fabric firmly in place so I didn't need to glue it(which means I can take the fabric off and use it somewhere else later if I want to!). These took me about 20 minutes total to complete. I love the result-it's neat-looking and cute, too!
After my shoe box success, I was pumped and began to look for other creative storage container ideas. These tea boxes (I cut the lids off) were just the right size for pudding and jell-o boxes as well as seasoning mixes.
And they fit perfectly in the white basket these boxes and packets were piled in previously. Much better!
The top of a Velveeta cheese box(a Super Bowl party treat) fits my small collection of sprinkle bottles perfectly, while my old Tupperware lunch box holds extra bottles of spices. The Velveeta lid isn't that sturdy, so I used it for something I wouldn't be using all that much.

The bottom of the Velveeta cheese box works well in my baking cupboard to organize flavorings and other bottles that just get pushed around a lot.
I held onto this IBC root beer tote(you guessed it-another Super Bowl treat!), because I was so sure I could use it for something clever. Finally, it came in handy to store odd bottles and canisters of cooking supplies in the cabinet. No more bottles falling down and hard to find! I was pretty proud of this one and so was husband-he said that I could buy more root beer anytime to get the boxes.hahaha (It's his favorite and a rare, rare treat!)

The best thing about this organizing spree was that it was absolutely free! Every container I used was either one I had or a recycled item. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas to organize different areas in your home, too!

For more great Frugal Friday posts, please visit Biblical Womanhood.

Spring Cleaning-Dining Room

Today I tackled the dining room! I got a faster start since I knew what kind of cleaners to use and a faster way to do some of the tasks. This is a small room, but a lot of furniture is packed in there, so there were a lot of details.

Here's what I accomplished:
  • wash curtains
  • wash blinds
  • wash windows
  • sweep cobwebs
  • clean light fixture
  • clean microwave(kitchen is small so microwave and most of my appliances live in the dining room on a baker's rack)
  • wipe all appliances
  • clean glassware(I filled the dishwasher with all the vases and dishes from my hutch first thing this morning. They were clean and ready to go back up as soon as I got the hutch cleaned off!)
  • dust and wipe down everything
  • vacuum carpet
  • clean table and chairs
  • wipe down baseboards, doorways, window frames, sills and any spots on the walls
This took me about 3 hours to do and I still have a few items on my list that I didn't complete, but will work on tomorrow. I won't be cleaning a room tomorrow, but rather finishing up the dining room and getting ready for the weekend!

This is what I still need to do:
  • clean pictures and wall decorations
  • rearrange and straighten bookshelves
  • hang a couple of pictures
  • clean cabinets under the hutch
I would go ahead and finish those few tasks now, but I am taking dinner to a friend who is under doctor's orders to rest for a couple of days. So I wanted to allow enough time to get the food fixed and delivered.

I'll be doing more spring cleaning next week-the kitchen, laundry room and also the hallway! This deep-cleaning is tiring but so rewarding!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Cleaning-Living Room

Today I started my first session of spring cleaning in the living room! I knew it was dirty as it had not been thoroughly cleaned for well over a year. But as I went along, I was quite embarrassed to discover the cakes of dust and cobwebs-it was worse than what I see on the surface every day. The living room is the largest room in my house, but relatively uncluttered-still with a few breaks and interruptions, it took me most of the day to complete the whole room.

I started with this list to keep me focused and on track:
  • wash curtains
  • clean blinds(I took them outside and scrubbed with ammonia water, then sprayed them off and hung them on the fence to dry! They were filthy!)
  • wash windows
  • sweep cobwebs
  • vacuum carpets and couches/cushions
  • clean baseboards, doors and doorways, window frames and sills
  • dust everything
  • wash afghans
  • clean fan
  • wash light fixture
  • clean fireplace and tile in front
We moved all the furniture out into the middle of the room and cleaned behind. We also moved the T.V. out and cleaned in that corner-this had not been done in a long, long time-horrors! I also wanted to clean the outside windows, but I haven't figured out how to remove the storm windows and screens yet.

I am tired tonight, but feel quite accomplished to have such a sparkly clean and nice-smelling living room! I'm going to try to go ahead and work on the dining room tomorrow!

For more Spring Cleaning inspiration please visit The Homespun Heart.