Short list this week.

Very short list this week. It was…a rough week, both stress-wise and spending-wise.

  1. Started brainstorming what sorts of simple gifts I can make for Giftmas this year, with an emphasis on gifts that I already have materials to make.
  2. Ordered my favorite teabags in bulk from Stash Tea using a $10 off coupon I got for taking a survey. I normally buy catering packs through Amazon because it’s a little cheaper (though I buy several other flavors directly from Stash), but thanks to such a generous coupon, I ended up paying even less than usual — including the shipping charges.
  3. We needed some new furniture due to the awkwardness of our new place — and couldn’t wait to find it anywhere but regular retail. (There is no usable kitchen storage for daily items. Like plates. Seriously. There is nowhere to put plates, let alone a microwave. There are no utensil drawers, either.) We managed to find a perfectly acceptable piece on clearance at Target, which was sheer luck, as I am very picky. I guess I am only counting this because we managed not to pay full price? Like I said, rough week.

There are still a few things we need to “throw money at” to solve, but fingers crossed that next week will be better.

This week’s list.

This week has been stressful in a monumental way. First of all, packing for a move is bad enough — and always takes longer than you’ll think — but the actual move itself is generally a terrible upheaval. Thankfully, our physical move went very smoothly (we lucked out and hired great movers), but our new apartment turned out to be a little…problematic. We’re going to make it work (and the new landlord is going to fix several things), but it has been a bad week.

And we have been spending like crazy. Ugh. Moving sucks!

Still, little things do add up over time, and though my money saving list this week is all small stuff compared to our moving costs, it still counts.

  1. Put book on hold at library instead of spending $7.99 on a very tempting ebook. (Also read an additional four ebooks from the library.)
  2. Used a piece of leftover fabric to make a reusable furoshiki style wrap for Lennox’s present instead of buying a gift bag.
  3. Dumped my piggy bank into the CoinStar machine and got a $10.30 Amazon gift card (which had no CoinStar fees). I know that I could roll my own coins and deposit them at the bank, or even…you know…spend them. But I have long had the habit of regularly dumping my coin purse into a piggy bank of some kind, then using the money on some kind of treat after it fills up. (I often used it on a movie ticket back when I could rarely afford to go.) Self-care is important, too. I’ll probably use the gift card on an ebook or two. Gotta support my voracious reading habit!
  4. Had a free hot tea at IKEA because of my IKEA Family membership. Hey, free tea is free!
  5. Decided not to replace our bathroom trash can. I’ve wanted a new one for a long time now (our current one is 16 years old!), but after I really thought about it, I realized I only wanted to replace it because I have trouble keeping its exterior clean. It’s a metal bin with a spring-loaded opening, but it has grooves around the lid and at the bottom of the bin that trap dust. I decided I would just try to clean those grooves a little better, and now it looks fine enough to me.

We still have to get our new washer and dryer and a few pieces of furniture before things calm down, but we’ll get back to normal soon.

These are a few of my frugal things.

We are spending a pretty penny on our upcoming move, both by hiring actual movers (a first time thing for us) and by replacing some of our worn out furniture — as well as purchasing a washer and dryer.

In order to remind myself to stay focused on longer term financial goals during this time of intense spending, I’ve decided to share a weekly list of frugal things I’ve done to creatively stay under budget or to create a little extra income. (This was pretty obviously inspired by The Non-Consumer Advocate’s “Five Frugal Things” lists.)

This week I…

  1. Took a few boxes of books, CDs, DVDs, and a few old videogames to sell at Half Price Books (a local discount/used book chain). They paid us $45.00 — and they almost never pay that much!
  2. Sewed a birthday present using a pattern I’ve had for years (and have used three or four times before), leftover thread and elastic from other projects, and $13.00 worth of fabric that I only paid $7.00 for out of pocket because I used $6.00 I earned taking surveys online. $7.00 plus two and a half hours of effort is a pretty cost effective gift, IMO.
  3. Spent only $26.00 on groceries this week as we’ve been cooking from the pantry and freezer to minimize waste when we move next week.
  4. Read 6 ebooks and 1 physical book from the library — also watched a DVD from the library. The library is a holy place. And it saves me hundreds of dollars every year (no exaggeration).
  5. Used a “Star Reward” to get a free chai at Starbucks. I love loyalty programs that actually pay off.
  6. Remembered to (finally) bill a client for her quarterly bookkeeping.

I’m not a black belt level tightwad or anything like that, but I’m pretty frugal. It’s easy to throw money at a problem — in fact, it’s sometimes unavoidable — but very often a flexible mind can find a more creative, and a more cost effective, solution.

KonMari-ing as fast as I can.

After 10 years at our current address, we are moving to another apartment in early September. As if that isn’t nerve-wracking enough, I’ve also decided to complete the KonMari process I began last year (then abandoned after clothes and books because my energy took a terrible nosedive) before we go.

Needless to say, this is probably not an approved application of the KonMari process. Oh, well! I’m a rebel and I’ll never-ever be any good.

It is, however, going well — at least in a tentative way. I did a very thorough sweep through clothing and books the first time, but I did a “touch up” to get myself started again. I managed to clear most of the clothes I had in the storage unit (a few small boxes), a coat I didn’t like, and a few other odds and ends — and another small box of books and a large box of magazines — before moving on to paper…for the first time.

I really thought I had paper under control. And I probably did have a lot less than the average household. I’m mostly paperless already, but even so I had not purged old tax files in years and found a lot of miscellaneous, random paper I’d kept for…question mark? I have no idea. I found a bunch of 2011 utility bills that had somehow escaped an earlier purge, for instance. Anyway, I did it all in one day — with lots of breaks — and today we took three boxes of paper to the recycling center and two bags of paper to Office Max to be shredded. I now have one plastic file box of important papers, one plastic file box of old writing and sentimental items (collected, but not examined — I’m mostly following the rules), and one file caddy of client work that is maybe a quarter full.

Good progress.

We also started on the komono today, and went through all of the CDs and DVDs. I had an unrelated purge of CDs a couple of years ago, when I digitized most of my collection after a shelf broke on our CD storage, so there wasn’t a lot left that didn’t spark joy for me. However, Lennox got into the spirit of things and discarded a whole box full of CDs and videogames. We discarded very few DVDs, though, because almost our entire collection sparked joy. Sometimes that’s how it goes! Some categories are already pretty joyful, and require far less pruning.

We took the books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and videogames to Half Price Books to sell, and they paid us $45.00. We were pretty pleased at the unexpected cash; they rarely offer so much!

Next up for me will be sewing and knitting related items, and then kitchen komono in various subcategories. I hope I can keep up the momentum. My energy level has been pretty good lately, so the pace hasn’t been too much for me — so far.

Wish me luck.

Wrapping up Me Made May.

I’m not sure I’ll participate again — I may, but it will depend on my energy level next spring — but like most participants, I did learn a few things during Me Made May.

I do a good job making things I actually like to wear — and I sew clothes that work with my existing wardrobe, and that are practical for the actual lifestyle I lead. No fancy party dresses with nowhere to wear them, that’s for sure! As I mentioned earlier in the month, I tend to stay within the same color palette to keep things simple, and that helps, too.

Though my favorite purchased garments are mostly all fit-and-flare dresses from eShakti, I really do like pared back styling. I like simple lines and knits, and although I’m certainly capable of sewing more complicated items, I really do like the stuff I make. So far, so good.

However, I’ve realized that many of my sewing expectations are bananas. I have a ton of fabric, hundreds of ideas, and almost no energy to sew most of the time. I didn’t write a single word on my novel re-write this month, simply because I was focusing on finishing sewing projects I had already cut out. I need to be more realistic about my limitations. That being said, I can knock out a simple tee or a Mabel skirt in just about an hour. So it’s good that my fashion instincts lean toward simple projects.

All in all, I had a really good month and I’m glad I gave it a shot. I only repeated one garment the entire month, and only failed to get a picture one day. I managed to wear something I’d made every single Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday — and one bonus Sunday. I actually wore a couple of other things on other days, too — my infamous bunny print lounge pants, yet another Mabel skirt, and some linen shorts — but I didn’t bother to document them.

I made my pledge, and followed through. I call it a success.

Not pictured.

I’m not posting a photo for Me Made May today because although I’m wearing a self-made garment, it’s basically a house dress and I can’t be bothered to take a picture. Way too low energy today.

This particular dress is a fraternal twin to the knit Staple dress I wore earlier in the month. It’s the same, except that it’s a black and grey floral print. I consider it a fabric failure, because it got extremely pilled only the second time I wore it. We drove to New Orleans last year for our anniversary, and by the time we reached our hotel, the front of this dress had a visible line of pilling where the seat belt had been! I was so sad. It was basically brand new, and already too “worn” to wear out and about — what a terrible, cheap fabric. Ugh!

The dress is perfectly sound in all other respects, though, so I often wear it around the house — and so comfortable that I’m tempted to make another version one of these days.

Maybe I will.

Practical sewing.

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Today for Me Made May I wore the same Comino Cap dress as the other day because I did laundry yesterday and it’s my new favorite. I also wore a self-made apron while I was baking earlier.

I probably wear this apron more frequently than any other handmade item I have — usually every day. I wear it while cooking and while doing dishes and other chores. There was a fad for apron making a few years ago, but most people were making frothy half aprons, which look great in a retro sort of way, but do very little in practical terms. A good apron has to cover your clothes to save them, after all.

I traced off an old apron to make the pattern for this one, and used two layers of quilting cotton instead of one of canvas. (I’ve also made reversible aprons this way.) I used purchased twill tape for the neck and ties, so it was even easier to make. I love that such a simple item gets so much use!

My friend Tanzy came for tea today, so I made bannocks and a hot black eyed pea dip. We also had the refrigerator pickles I made on Thursday, and the blueberry freezer jam I made yesterday. It has been a busy week in my kitchen! I really do enjoy cooking and baking when my energy level permits it. I get a little self-conscious baking for Tanzy, though — she trained as a pastry chef. Today she brought a meringue roulade to share!

But we had a nice chat, and my apron got yet a little more use. (And I made the Hello Kitty tablecloth, too.)

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This pattern has Comino Cap-tured my heart.

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*Groan!* What a terrible pun, am I right? Aren’t you glad Me Made May allowed me to force such dreadful wordplay upon you? Of course you are.

I now totally get why sewing bloggers  went bananas for this pattern when it came out. The t-shirt is great, and the dress is marvelous.

I graded out at the waist and hips again, shortened the bodice by two inches, and added several inches to the skirt’s length. I seem to add length to everything these days, despite being only 5’2″. I’ve got nothing against short skirts on others, but I’m 40-mumble years old and I work in accounting. I’m not wearing anything much above knee level to work. From a stylistic perspective I prefer midi length, anyway — I think it’s more elegant.

Yes, this is the same fabric I used for the tee. Unoriginal, sure — but at least I knew it would work well. I got both the tee and the dress out of 3 yards, even with all that extra length in the skirt. What a great (and economical) pattern!

I would also like to say that this is the best neckband application I’ve done to date.  But then I turned around and made one of the crappiest hems I’d done in a while! Eh, win some, lose some. I’m still very satisfied by this dress, and totally in love with the pattern.