Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Completed: March Hobby - Knitting

After nine years of on-and-off knitting, the scarf I began on New Year's Eve 2000 is finally complete! I learned how to bind & tie off the last row of stitches. Wow! It feels so rewarding! I love crafts that are practical and useful.

--How To Knit: Binding Off--
"Pull what over huh and through where?

My April hobby, beachcombing, is already under way. The coast was a little stormy, which made for some better "rock hounding", as it is called. I thought I could use what I find on the beach in my June hobby, making jewelry, but I'm starting to lean towards buying what I need from a store instead. *sigh* Starting out, I knew this hobby stuff wouldn't be cheap, but I'm learning about myself and I'm learning some new skills. In the end, I believe it will be worth it.

I collected a few agates along with some other pretty rocks from the beach at low-tide. I don't have a rock tumbler, so the polishing has been rough, to say the least. Steve and I tried polishing them with different grades of sandpaper. Supposedly, if you begin with a rough sandpaper and work your way up to the finer grades, it is supposed to bring them to a glossy shine.

I'm seriously doubting that since we spent almost a half hour grinding away at a few stones with very little success! :) I've been looking around Salem and the surrounding communities to see if anyone has a rock tumbler they are willing to share, but I've found nothing.

Anyone have any tips??

Finally, Steve and I went for a walk the other day. All of the trees and bushes are starting to bloom. Steve shot some beautiful photos. I can't wait for my parents to get here in a little over a week! This is one of Steve's favorites from that day:

Hope you're having a wonderful week!

~Steve & Kari~

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frugal Fun! No kids necessary!

I'm frustrated that all of the search results for frugal fun were about "family", always including kids. We don't have any kids! We won't for awhile... So, after that fruitless search, I decided to make my own list of ideas. Back to the classics!

  • Go for a walk in a city or county park, or on the beach. Watch for days with free music!

    Usually no fees at city or county parks. Check with your city's website or visitors' bureau for upcoming events and park info. A park I grew up near had a weekly event called "Jazz in the Park" on Sunday afternoons. It was free. All you had to do was bring a blanket or lawn chair, sit back, and enjoy! For that matter, you could just sit on the grass. :) Some McMenamin's restaurants in Oregon, especially Edgefield in Troutdale, have free outdoor music on the weekends (Thurs-Sun).

  • Go for a hike in a state or national park.

    Daily fees are usually around $2-$10 per car. If you are avid hikers, consider buying an annual pass. National Parks ($80). Oregon & Washington State Parks ($20 add-on to national parks pass).

    Total: $100 ($8.33 per month) for all-access annual pass.

    For a list of participating parks in Washington & Oregon, click here.

  • Picnic at a park.

    If I were to pack a picnic lunch for two, it would cost under $4.00/person!

    Bread .48 (4 slices/ $1.50 a loaf)
    Lunch meat .64 (4 oz./ $2.50 16 oz.)
    Cheese .60 (4 oz./ $2.50 per lb.)
    Lettuce .50 (1/2 head/ $1 per head)
    Tomatoes .40 (.25 lb/ $1.60 per lb.)
    Apples .58 (1 lb./ .58 cents per lb.)
    Carrot sticks .39 (1 lb peeled & cut at home/ .39 per pound)
    Water .00 (Fill Camelbaks or water bottles with filtered tap water)

    I omitted condiments since I already have them on hand and the cost of the small quantity used would be insignificant.

  • Watch for free or discounted days at places you enjoy.

    Check the calendar of events on their website. Admission is generally cheaper in the winter months.

    Steve & I were able to enjoy the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon for free! The "free admission day" was sponsored by a local credit union.

    We also enjoy $2 Tuesday (April 14, 2009 from 9am-4pm) at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

    In an event like this, you will want to get there before the place opens so you can find a decent place to park and beat the crowds.

    Another option is to talk about the places you would like to visit with co-workers and friends. Steve works with a guy who has an annual membership to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon and he gave us two free guest passes, which is a perk he received with his membership.

  • Consider buying your own annual or life-time memberships.

    Parks, museums, aquariums, zoos, etc.

    If you have a lot of out-of-town visitors who stay with you, the guest passes will really pay off! It's a great way to support the organization while saving you and your guests money! Consider it a donation rather than an expenditure.

  • Make Friday & Saturday your "Garage Sale Day" in the summer months.

    During the winter and spring months, make lists of items you need for your home or write down things you want, but don't want to pay full price for. Keep an open mind about cleaning or fixing something up. Stick to your list though! No unnecessary clutter!

    A good rule: When something new comes in, something old goes out.

    Steve and I give ourselves a monthly allowance we have deemed "fun money". This money is solely for having fun, whether it is buying new clothes, going out to eat or to a movie, ordering stuff online, or even garage sale hopping! It takes a lot of the stress out of budgeting!

  • Have a movie night in your own living room, with or without friends!

    We recently cancelled our cable t.v. and opted to try Netflix's two-week free trial. I liked it so much, I opted to continue our membership. For $9/month we get unlimited movies to watch online instantly, and we are able to request on DVD through the mail at a time. Your membership includes postage. You can keep the DVD as long as you want, but you cannot receive additional DVD's until you return the one you have.

    It's a pretty simple system and it's less expensive than going to the cheap theater ($3.99/person) once a month because you have the option to watch as many movies as you want!

    The only thing that bothers me is the buffering on the instant movies. However, it's not that much of a problem if you're a person who runs to the bathroom a lot or is easily distracted. I hate it when people talk during a movie or use their phones (texting or calls), but at least I can pause the movie at home!

  • Begin a tradition of cooking together & try new recipes!

    We've discovered we're not the only ones who have a "Pizza Friday" tradition. Steve and I have learned that one of the places we work really well together is in the kitchen! How awesome is that? ;) Depending on our energy levels at the end of the week, we either make homemade pizza or run to the store to grab a Digiorno.

    There's just something great about the feel of homemade dough between your fingers!

    I had started making homemade pizza crust with white, all-purpose flour. But due to my recent urge to have a healthier home, I bought some whole wheat, whole grain flour last month and it has been wonderful! It's so much more satisfying. If a recipe calls for white flour, I use the same amount of flour, but I substitute half of it with the whole wheat flour. So good! I'm addicted to All Recipes, and we like to use the Exquisite Pizza Sauce with the Pizza Dough I recipe. I've really been wanting to use string cheese to create a stuffed-crust pizza, but I am having a hard time justifying using so much cheese in one meal! :)

Well, that's all I have for now, but I hope it's got you thinking! Let us know if there are things you love to do on the cheap as singles or couples, and we would love to try them out! Have a beautiful week!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Summer Projects

I've been wanting to garden since I moved into our townhouse. There are two strips of gardening space on either side of the back patio steps. I have been planning the layout of my little garden and am hoping it will flourish under my care with a lot of work and a little water and sunshine!

Here's my idea:

Side A:
  • Basil ~ We love fresh pesto!
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Green Peppers
  • Grape Tomatoes ~ Especially for Steve
  • Petunias/Nasturtiums
Side B: I may just skip the following veggies & plant wildflowers. :)
  • Pole Beans
  • Cilantro
  • Nasturtiums
We have a lot of slugs out here. I'm wondering if they will play a big role. Do you have any tricks or tips for getting rid of them or for growing the plants I've chosen? The slugs already got their grimy little lips on my flowers planted in a pot on the front porch... However, the flowers are braving through the abuse and are looking pretty good!

Are you planning a garden this year? What plants have you chosen?

If you have any gardening advice, I would love to hear it! This is my first attempt gardening completely on my own! Mom was always there to doctor my plants if they needed it! :)

Miss you, mom!

Too Many Books?

Are you buried in old books you'll never read or tired of forking over your spending money to pay your latest library fine? Check out paperbackswap.com!

If you already know what Paperback Swap (PBS) is, you are probably one of the people that told me about it! For those of you who don't, it's my salvation from library fines! I'm all for sitting and reading at the library, but once those books get past my front door the cost starts to add up! What can I say? I'm forgetful!

I had heard that PBS was really great, but it took me awhile to take the plunge. The idea is to save money, reduce clutter, and reduce waste by recycling your books. If you have extra books lying around the house, you could donate them to Goodwill, but why not get something back instead? Register with PBS and post your unwanted books on their website. Post your first 10 books, and receive 2 free credits. Credits are what you use to request a book from someone else.

The only cost in this program is the shipping & handling. However, you don't pay for the books you request. You only pay s&h if someone else requests a book you posted. It is then your responsibility to let that person know if you can ship it or not. If you can, click yes on the page, package up the book, and drop it off at your local post office. I mailed 3 books today and the shipping cost was only $7. Overall, I am able to get 5 new books for the price of 3! Not a bad deal! Once you have finished reading the book you requested, post it again so someone else can enjoy reading it, and request a new one for yourself! It's that easy!

All the books I posted on PBS were previously posted on Amazon. I had the lowest price listed for the longest time, but I hadn't sold a book in months.

Within hours of posting my first ten books on PBS, three people had requested one. Talk about quick turnaround!

You can find almost any genre! My current favorites are frugal living/simplistic living, gardening, Christian romance, and Christian living. Try it out! Once you get going, you won't regret it!

Happy Reading!

2008 Work Year Reward

Steve's (mine too) 2008 work year reward has arrived!! We're very excited, and can't wait to set it up. It's going to be the center of our new media station. Steve has spent a lot of time building a computer on which to store all of our dvds, music, files, etc. The t.v. will serve as the computer monitor. I'm so proud of him. After working so hard over the last year, I believe we deserve a reward. Thanks to the Lord and our tax return, we were able to pay cash upfront. Movie nights, here we come! This will definitely pay off as we cut down on going to the theater!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Update::: Kari's Non-Commercialism Wish List

I'm making progress on my wish list! Yay!

  • Wish: A Puppy!
    No puppy yet! The reason we can't have a puppy is because we live in an apartment. When we have our own house, we can have one. I suppose we are making progress on this wish since we are chipping away at our debt and working toward owning a house in a few years!

  • Wish: Clean House
    The living room, kitchen, dining room, and downstairs hallway look great! Woo hoo!

  • Wish: More Time to Hike With Steve
    Steve's work schedule is staying just as hectic as before, if not more so. The good news is that the sun is beginning to set later in the evening! That means we'll have more daylight to hit the trails and get in some great hikes! I'm very pumped about that. I also have family visiting in both March AND April. Thank you, Lord!!

  • Wish: Successfully Hike Opal Creek
    As stated above, more sunshine equals more time!

  • Wish: Be a Better Friend to My Oregon Buddies
    I recently started a bible study with one friend, and am trying to get up the energy and motivation to start working out with another! I'm excited!

  • Wish: Experiment With New Meals
    I'm rather sad to say that there really hasn't been much progress here! I made lasagna by myself for the first time! However, my goal was to try more exotic recipes. I'll keep trying!

    **Any recipe suggestions would be great!**

New Hobbies!

I've decided to try something for the next year, starting this month (March). I want to explore new hobbies. There are things I've always been curious about, but have never taken the time to learn. So, my strategy is to give myself one month to explore a new hobby, whether that means reading about it, learning it from someone else, or by my own trial and error. This is my tentative calendar for the next year:
  • March - Knitting
  • April - Beachcombing
  • May - Biking, Hiking, & Camping
  • June - Homemade Jewelry
  • July - Photography
  • August - Carpentry/Painting (already have some projects: painting piano and desk)
  • September - Interior Decorating
  • October - Hospitality
  • November - Stationary/Correspondence
  • December - Homemade Soap
  • January - Crocheting
  • February - Weight Training
Do you have any hobbies or fun ideas to try?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pay It Forward

I am excited to be a recipient of Patty's Pay it Forward post and I'm even more excited to "pay it forward" here!

Here's how it works:

I will be receiving a handmade item from Patty. In the meantime, the first three people to comment on this post that they want to participate, will receive a handmade item from ME. The gift is a surprise and I will do my best to tailor it to you.

If you are interested, post in the comments here. If you are one of the first three people, then go ahead and post your "Pay it Forward" on your blog.

The handmade items do not have to be extensive. Do not feel you need to spend days and days on them. Just do what you can.

Sounds fun, right? =)

Ready. Set. And, go!