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Budget Crafts – Christmas Past: Homemade Christmas Dough Gingerbread Boy OrnamentsCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
Some salt, flour, and water and you have yourself a vintage, low-cost creative arts and crafts Christmas activity that's perfect for saving money during the holidays and involving kids of all ages.
These homemade dough ornaments cost next to nothing to make and have been popular off and on for decades. The scanned Morton Salt advertisement with recipe to the right was published in Family Circle magazine in December 1975.
You can use the dough ornaments to decorate your own Christmas tree, or put together several boxes of them for some good, old-fashioned gift-giving for friends, co-workers, and family members. They're perfect for young couples just starting out or to send to college students who are away from home during the holidays.
My mom made these homey dough ornaments when we were kids. Ours were wreaths and flowers. I still have a few that I put up on the Christmas tree each year. While most have accidentally broken over the passage of time (dropping them on hard wood floors is not recommended), it's surprising that a few have been durable enough to survive several home moves, inquisitive young children, and frenetic kittens.
Make Inexpensive Floating Apple Votives, à la Martha StewartCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
|Martha Stewart shows host Conan O'Brien how to hollow out the top center of an apple using a melon baller and an Exacto knife.|
Here's a cheap, attractive, and unique decoration to add a festive quality to the home for either a Halloween party, a fall get-together, or the family Thanksgiving dinner. It would make a gorgeous table centerpiece for a Christmas party. Home-design maven Martha Stewart demonstrated making these festive floating apple votives on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien TV talk show on September 27, 2005. Love them!
Click here for how-to instructions and demo photos >>
DIY T-Shirt Transformations: Save Big Bucks with Adorable Fashion Makeovers Using Old T-ShirtsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Specialty and fashion T-shirts are often horrifically expensive... you can easily make your own cute and casual fashion statements at a fraction of the cost by using old T-shirts. Why spend $30 to $50 (or more) on a cool spring or summer shirt or dress or shoulder bag when you can T-shirt DIY for next to nothing?
Dig through your drawers for old T-shirts, or take a trip to the second-hand store or hit some neighborhood garage sales. Clearance racks at clothing stores or T-shirt swaps with friends are other good sources for collecting inexpensive T-shirts.
Fashion trends may come and go, but T-shirts are always in style at school, the pool, the park, or any casual gathering or outing. Some of these T-shirt makeovers are more upscale, making them suitable attire for clubbing or parties.
These how-to videos are easy to follow (some require no sewing) and barely scratch the surface of what you can create for less than a few dollars... and still look fabulous.
Frugality and recycling rock, so embrace your inner DIY!
Home Automation and Other Renovation Ideas to Save Money and TimeBy Thomas X
The expense and environmental impact that your energy consumption may be responsible for is a cause for legitimate concern for a growing number of home and property owners.
Learning more about the many important advantages home automation, energy conservation, and other efforts to reduce electric and power consumption may be able to create could be the first step you take towards a greener and more affordable household.
With a number of services, appliances, and other resources available to make use of, there has never been an easier time to create a more efficient, budget-savings home.
Make an Adorable, Cost-minded Baby Shower Diaper 'Cake' CenterpieceBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Clever and functional, this baby shower diaper 'cake' centerpiece is easy to make and will delight the mother-to-be and guests.
Party supplies have become quite expensive, and are often discarded after the festivities (money in the trash), so making a baby shower table centerpiece that does double-duty as party decor and as a gift is totally frugalicious!
This is über-adorable:
Beauty Is As Beauty Does: Great Ways to Reduce Your Grooming and Beauty Aid Expenses | Cheap Beauty TipsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Beauty products sure ain't cheap anymore. A single tube of waterproof mascara can cost more than a bag of groceries these days. Times are tough for those of us who aren't naturally gorgeous and rely on cosmetics to enhance our attributes and to fix or hide flaws.
I remember back when the price of a bottle of nail polish was less than an hour of minimum wage work.
When Vaseline dabbed on the lips for a bit of shine and lubrication was respected, and a restful, bubbly bath was cheap-cheap-cheap. When washing your face wasn't a complicated, expensive science project.
When pinching your cheeks for a natural glow of color was the "in" thing to do, a frugal and fast way to appear to be in rosy health (OK, that one's not really true of my generation—I had several palettes of Cover Girl and Revlon powder blush and a Yardley gel shimmer cheek highlighter—but my mom's generation of cosmetic wearers did a lot of cheek-pinching to save money).
It's not just women who are cringing at the escalating costs. Many men are feeling the financial pinch with the high-rising cost of bronzers and other subtle grooming/beauty enhancers. When bills need to be paid and your supply of grooming products run low, difficult choices must be made to stay on budget.
Being broke, though, doesn't mean you can't look good nor have to delay paying your utility bills.
There are many ways to combat the high expense of grooming and beauty aid products. You can make your own skin treatments at home using common items and foods and stretch out how long they last. Reducing your outlay of cash to be able to buy things that are actually more important in the whole scheme of things—important things, like paying your rent. You can skimp on your daily usage to make them last longer. Cheap (and free) beauty tips have been around for years... centuries, actually. During the era of Cleopatra, the wearing of kohl eye liner in 4000 BC was all the Egyptian rage with both men and women (and was made of ground lead sulfide, which it still is today).
DIY Recycling & Fashion: ThreadBanger
Video Demo: Recycling/Repurposing Plastic Bags & Making Shopping Tote Bags from Old ClothesCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
ThreadBanger's Rob and Corinne show a number of innovative ways to reuse plastic bags to keep them out of landfills. Also, a sewing demonstration is included with designer Rebekah Potter, who shows how easy it is to make a functional, attractive shopping tote bag from old clothes. Reuse and recycle rules!Click here to continue >>
DIY Dog Fashions on a Bare Bones Budget: Save Money Recycling Old Sweaters & Shirts to Make Cheap, Attractive Dog Winter Clothes & RaincoatsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Man's best friend can be quite tolerant of inclement weather, but sometimes, in those regions that have bitterly cold days and nights, it's preferred to keep your dog warm when taking him or her out for a walk or on a trip with an extra layer of insulation from a wrap, sweater, or coat.
Even in warmer regions, like my state of Arizona, a doggie shirt or sweater may be needed several months out of the year when the temps drop. When there's a light shower outside, a water-repellent raincoat will keep your dog drier, warmer, and more comfortable than he or she would be otherwise.
The cost of protective apparel for dogs is surprisingly pricey, considering the scant amount of fabric or yarn that is used in a small sweater or shirt. Bigger dogs' clothes obviously cost more. Many dog clothing items can run as high as $40 (ouch!), some even higher depending on the pet store in which it's bought, which can really ding a tight budget. However, pet owners who are financially strapped need not despair nor break their budgets — frugal DIY to the rescue!
Save money and recycle — you can easily and cheaply make your four-legged best friend snuggly, warm winter clothes from old sweaters, T-shirts, or sweatshirts that are languishing in your drawers or closets. If you don't have any that you're willing to part with, gently used winter wear can usually be bought for no more than a buck or two at garage sales or flea markets (especially during the summer months) or at local thrift stores. Pick fabrics that can be home laundered and are somewhat durable. Other than that, you can easily transform all sorts of used articles of human clothing into attractive and protective cover-ups for Max or Princess.
Ordinary Kitchens Have Magic... Cool Vintage and Retro Kitchens of YesteryearBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Recently, I was thumbing through a wondrous treasure box of vintage cookbooks that a colleague gave to me that had been his mother's. Tucked inside one of the cookbooks I found an old, ragged, stained newspaper clipping from 1971. It was a philosophical tribute to, of all things, kitchens.
Not fancy, hi-tech kitchens, either, but ordinary kitchens. Kitchens that millions of average families have lived in and prepared meals in for decades.
This lovely little article briefly explained how magical an ordinary kitchen can be in that it embraces simple traditions and rituals, and is one of the only rooms in a house that is expressly meant to create things. The essay also touted the spiritual side of bread making and the thrifty virtues of recycling food. This article's publication coincided with the launch of the first Earth Day.
Frugality and the magic of a loving kitchen haven't changed all that much since 1971, or 1951, or 1921, for that matter, although kitchen styles most definitely have changed.
Baking Soda... From Frugal Cleaner to Thrifty Freshener to Beauty Aid, So Many Cheap, Easy, & Effective UsesBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Good old sodium bicarbonate — aka baking soda. It's been in use in some form or another since at least Egyptian times when natron, a mixture primarily of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate, was created as a cleansing agent much like current-day soap. A compound using sodium bicarbonate was concocted in the 1800s that was used extensively in the commercial fishing industry to prevent freshly-caught fish from spoiling.
Baking soda's countless, multiple uses today are astounding and go beyond using it as just a leavening agent in baking. Cat owners have known for ages that sprinkling some baking soda in a kitty litter box will minimize the box's nasty odor. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more uses. Before pricey, potentially toxic cleaning products came onto the market, harmless baking soda was used in millions of homes and businesses around the world to clean, disinfect, sooth, scour, and even put out fires. Its first use in America was during colonial times.
Baking soda is cheap, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and abundant. It even comes in a small cardboard box that breaks down quickly in a landfill. What's not to love?
Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-hand BargainsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
My 21-year-old daughter and I hit the used thrift stores and garage sales in our area with enthusiasm at least one weekend a month. I raised my children as I was raised: second-hand shopping always comes before retail shopping. Buying used whenever possible is the smart path to take to give yourself more money at the end of the month for other bills or to put into savings, without having to get a raise or win the lottery.
When money's tight and prices soar in the retail stores, there's no need for despair or foolishly overspending. Second-hand stores always have inexpensive alternatives, fabulous buried treasures.
Granted, you can't always find what you're looking for at a used store, but you'd be surprised at what you often do find. And the hunt makes the conquest just that much sweeter. My daughter nearly shuns the malls these days, preferring instead to "go on the hunt" at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. Her friends are always stunned at the fabulously funky clothes she wears, many of which cost her only a dollar or two. She is quite petite and has unconventional tastes, and always scores a few amazingly cheap fashion finds when we go out. She never has been faced with not finding something she loves. When necessary, she makes a few alterations to make a shirt fit better or to update the look, but that's not too often. I have found Descoware, Revere Ware, a Pfaltzgraff serving platter in mint condition, and other kitchenware pieces stunningly under-priced. Instead of spending $7 to $10 on a new paring knife, I found an excellent one at Goodwill this summer for 99 cents, which I bought for 50 cents on half-off Saturday. I do about 60 to 70 percent of my Christmas shopping at the second-hand venues.
Being frugal doesn't mean going without or dressing frumpy. It means being wise with the cash you have and stretching it as far as it can be stretched. Why buy a pair of pants or a blouse or a large sauce pan at the mall for $50 when you can find often something of equal (sometimes even greater) value at the Salvation Army or a garage sale for less than five bucks? And you don't have to sacrifice style for savings.
Dress Like Royalty for Less: How to Copy Duchess Kate's Classic Fashions on a Commoner's BudgetBy Vicki McClure Davidson
When Britain's Prince William proposed to girlfriend Kate Middleton, much of the world was captivated by this English beauty, who has displayed humor, common sense, and style. Since their wedding in April 2011, the interest in Duchess Kate of Cambridge hasn't let up. Kate's frugality, considering that she is an international celebrity, has impressed many, while upsetting those who wish she were more lavish.
But while the new duchess regularly recycles her fabulous fashions and isn't excessive with high-end designers, her place in the royalty spotlight demands that she spends much more money on her elegant clothes than the average commoner can afford.
However, imitating Kate's classic, beautiful looks need not break the bank. You can recreate them for much less. Dressing like royalty, with a bit of creativity, can be quite affordable.