Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A new pantry

Storage is always an issue.
Is there ever enough space for our STUFF? Many think they need a bigger home or an addition to accommodate the stuff.  But, the reality is you probably have the space  already in your home.  This laundry room is off the kitchen and is under utilized.  It is a good size room but it didn't have the correct storage to help in organizing the space .

After sitting down with the  homeowner ,  it was clear the laundry room was going to be a perfect spot to incorporate  storage for laundry baskets, hanging clothes, household items, and food storage.  I drew up plans and after 2 revisions, we were ready for the fun to begin.
The installation has begun . Time for moulding and paint.
There is hanging space for the laundry, 5 large areas to store laundry baskets,  area for larger household items, and many shelves for food pantry items.

This shelving area is designed to hold food storage items like canned goods, cereal and boxed goods.
The entrance to the laundry room - new pantry.

Most homes have hidden spaces that can be used for storage.  Take a look around your home with a fresh view.  Donate , purge, and organize!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coupons and money saving ideas

Over 23 years ago I was introduced to "couponing" . The art of clipping coupons, organizing the coupons, checking out the local sale fliers, and saving lots of money.  I typically save 35-50 percent off my grocery bill per week.  Take into account we are a family of 7 and that adds up.  I am often stopped while in the grocery store when they see my coupon box.  I am also asked about how I can feed a family of 7 with a weekly bill of 140.00 ( on average).  We eat big home cooked meals every night so doing it on a budget is essential .

So, I thought I would share some of what I have learned after doing this every week for 23 years.  It does take some time but I can promise you once you get organized this is worth every minute.

A few tips :
- I shop once a week.
- I cut coupons and file them under the correct file in the coupon box before grocery shopping.
-I make a list of two weeks of meals ( posted on the side of my fridge ) and make a grocery list .  While I shop every week, I like having two weeks of meals ready to prepare according to what our day is going to be like.
- I check out the sale fliers and pull coupons for the ones I know I want to buy. I put them in an envelope in my coupon box.
- I plan meals according to what meats are on sale that week.  For instance , when boneless chicken goes on sale for 99 cents a pound, I make bbq chicken, baked chicken, and fry chicken. I always buy two extra packets for the freezer when they are on sale.
-  I save coupons on products I might like to try because sometimes they go on clearance and with the coupon the item is free.
- I always collect the coupons that are displayed in the store for later use.  Key is to file them away as the store will be putting them on sale very soon.
- I shop at Sam's Club once a month to buy those items I need in bulk such as noodles, milk, meats, and frozen items that might be on sale.
- I don't use a lot of prepackaged items so this keeps costs down.  Fresh products make the best meals. I found that if I was going to feed 7 people healthy meals , I was going to have to buy fresh products and prepare the meals. I have not found a prepackaged meal that feeds all of us.
-Buy when the item is on sale not when you NEED it.  If an item goes on sale, buy three or four of those items. That way when you run out of the item , you go to your pantry , not the store where the items  are surely not on sale.


I use a system that breaks down the categories into specific items that helps me find the coupons quickly. For instance, I have dairy, cheese, yogurt, ect. When there is a sale item, I can check for a coupon very quickly.  I keep an envelope in the back for the coupons that I am using that day.  When I get to check out I just hand the cashier my envelope.

I also pull coupons that are going to expire that week. I put them in the front of the coupon box . I check the items on the coupon to see if they are on sale . If I am not going to use them, I will put them on the grocery shelves next to the item for someone else to use that week.

This is not a fancy system but its functional. I have had this box for 10 years.  My previous box was stolen while at the grocery store !!  

Last week, I spent $62.00 and I saved $67.00!!! That is a lot of money!  I hope it inspires you to start your own coupon box.  I hope you will share your success stories with me! 

Happy Saving!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Decorating with thrift store treasures

Someones junk tends to be my treasure.  I "see" the potential in what others see as junk.  I usually keep a running mental list of items I am looking for.  I find if I am patient, I usually find that item at a price that make my toes tap.   When we remodeled our kitchen and added the custom island , I knew a chandelier above the island was top on my wish list.  The retail shops had what I was looking for but not at a bargain price .  I waited over a year but last week, I found my treasure.  Imagine my excitement when I saw the price tag---$ 18.00 ..... SOLD!!!!

My handyman husband was not as thrilled . Installation is his specialty.  We installed recessed lights during the remodel and the new light fixture was going to replace one of them.  The install was easy and the end result was perfection.   It adds light to the island and character to the kitchen.

Our dining room needed a buffet table. A place to serve food so we have more room at the table.  I had been on the hunt for over a year and just didn't find that right piece. What I did find was a pair of lamps perfect for a buffet table. The lamps with the shades were priced at 15.00 ( for both) .  

 Then, I realized I had a sofa table in my family room that , with a coat of paint, would be perfect as a buffet table .  Sometimes the treasures are right under your roof! You just need to see them in a different capacity.  Now, that's a bargain!

This was the desk area in the kitchen.
 We installed a new desk ( a vanity used from a master bedroom demo) and added a shelf unit I found at the thrift store for 1.50.  My handyman husband used mouldings to make it look built in and to match it to the kitchen cabinets that were installed.  I painted it the same color as the cabinets and added a brown paint on the back.

The family bathroom needed an update.  The existing vanity was ugly but a solid wood custom piece from another era.

I found a faucet and corian sink top that was a display at a local hardware store. After a bit of negotiation , I handed them 20.00 and I walked out with my a smile.  I decided to remove the doors and use baskets for storage under the sink.  A few coats of paint,  a 2.00 handle to match the faucet, and baskets found on clearance at the same store, I called it a success.

Decorating with thrift store finds is a great way to update your home without emptying your bank account.