Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Diaper Bag

Sewing is my catharsis.  There's pretty much nothing that relaxes me more than creating something out of fabric.

That said, this bag idea came on a much needed day where my crazy post-pregnancy, presently-nursing hormones went even more out of whack than normal.  I think Jonathan would tell you he was happy he had plans on Saturday.

So, I took all of my angst and after a 6 hours, 4 feedings, 3 chick flicks, and a VERY messy apartment, I ended up with this:

I found the free tutorial here.  The only change I made was to add a little pocket on the back (which I forgot to take a picture of), and I sewed the pockets on differently than directed due to some measuring mistakes.  Oh yeah, and I didn't interface the bag.  Only the straps.

I can't remember where I found the pattern for the flower I made. 

 You can't see this, but I even designed one of the pockets to hold her bottles upright so I don't end up with a milky mess on the way to daycare.

All in all, I can actually say that this is the best sewing job I've ever done.  I would actually feel comfortable selling this bag it's so well done.  And...I sewed with a comfort level of actually knowing how to do stuff rather than guessing my way through it.  Awesome!!! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

More with Less Monday: Food

A friend wrote me the other day asking me more about our grocery budget.  As I quoted in a previous post, the government recommends that a thrifty family of two spends about $350/month on food.  Before finding that number, Jonathan and I committed to not spending more than $240/month on food.  When you think about, it's actually a really do-able number.  It breaks down into about $8/day and $4/person.  Hmmm, that actually does sound like a small number when I break it down...but still totally do-able!

Anyway, you've seen that we've definitely not mastered keeping the budget, but that's our lack of self restraint...not the inability to do it.  We have this problem called being lazy. It's so much easier to grab food out on the go when we're both tired after working full days and caring for a baby.  Or, I'm always tempted to forgo my thrown together lunch for where ever my co-workers are eating.

That aside, the months that we do succeed, we do it following these little tricks:
1.  Sales:  Buying things on sale and building our menu around that.  When spaghetti squash is on sale, we're having [you guessed it] spaghetti.  When avocados and bacon are on sale, we're having BLATS.  When cheese is on sale, we're having quiche.  Get it?  Read the weekly deals at Kroger and Publix.  If you don't get the paper, you can find the deals online.  Things usually go on sale once a month, so once we've used up all of our spaghetti sauce, we don't eat it again until it goes on sale again.
2.  Meat:  This is probably the biggest trick.  We don't eat very much of it.  Our year and a half of vegetarianism combined with my aversion to raw animal means that we have LOTS of yummy and filling meals without meat.  We usually don't use meat substitutes like tofu because that's also expensive.  Instead, when we have stir fry or Thai curry, we add peanuts instead of chicken.  RAther than chicken pot pie, we have potato pot pie.  Jonathan doesn't even notice we aren't eating meat anymore.  When we do buy meat, we buy it on major sale and we buy lots and freeze it.  We won't buy chicken for more than around $2/lb and ground beef for more than $1.50/lb.  (Note:  If we ever restructure our grocery budget, the first thing I will change will be to buy organic meat and dairy!)
3.  Soup and Baked Potatoes:  This week at Kroger, you can get a 10lb bag of potatoes for $2.38.  Do you have any idea how many meals that will make???  We have baked potatoes at least once a week.  We also usually have soup once a week.  Sometimes, like last night, we have potato soup!
4.  Ummm...are you bored yet?
5.  CVS:  This is Jonathan's deal.  I guess you can basically "make money" if you shop right at CVS.  I would have him write about it, but he's sleeping.  Maybe another day!
6. Snack foods and brand names:  We stay away from them.  As much as we adore Wheat Thins and Diet Coke with Lime, we don't buy it because it's expensive and unnecessary.  (We do break this rule for good ice cream though.  It's irresistible.)
7.  Where did I get these ideas, you ask?  From a book given to us by our apartment community called Miserly Moms.  Cheesy title, awesome book.

What do you do to save money on food?

Monday, November 15, 2010

More with Less Monday: Holidays

Church today inspired me to write this post.  Jonathan and I discovered this video a couple of years ago and were immediately sold on it.  (Watch it before you read more!)

Granted, we're not big gift givers in general so it's not much sacrifice for us.  But, we did find lots of joy in selling my [beloved] guitar that year and giving the money to help build a well.  (The organization we gave to must have thought we were super rich or something, because we got lots of hand-written notes after that.  I guess they were trying to get us to give more!)

Anyway, this Christmas will be the same.  Not many gifts (or any)...but lots of time to celebrate "the reason for the season" (thank you Kirk Franklin for introducing me to that line).

Our Pastor talked a lot about what we do with our money today and it was great to hear.  Jonathan and I have found that things always work out when we give first.  Our needs have ALWAYS been met, no matter what and we both believe it's because God is honoring our dreams to be generous.

Now, this post isn't so you think we're great...because we're not and we're much more selfish than we'd like to be.  But, we're thankful so far for what the Lord has done with our giving.

We're especially thankful to have a hand in what God is doing in the nations.  If you've spent more than 10 minutes with either of us, you know that our hearts yearn to bring life and light and love to the nations.  We've lived overseas apart and together and parts of our heart will always be in another country.  But for now, we get to live in Atlanta and be a part of a great new group called Resonate.  That doesn't mean we don't get to be a part of what is happening in the rest of the world.

Thanks to God's generosity to us and the joy He's given us in sharing, we get to be a part of what is happening in:
  • America
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • South Africa
  • Rwanda
  • Uganda (soon!)
  • Jordan
  • Honduras
  • Egypt
  • Bosnia (soon!)
  • Hungary
  • Russia
It's such a joy to give!  And it's worth it to sacrifice extra cell phone minutes, Starbucks, or whatever it is to be a part of a bigger and grander story than ourselves.

The more [with less] the merrier!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cloth Diaper Pants

One thing we've run across with Rory wearing cloth diapers, is that regular pants don't fit her.  She's wearing 6-9 month pants so they can fit over her big bum.  It' a bummer (ha, get it?) because she can't fit into little baby jeans, and babies in little baby jeans are adorable!

Anyway, I found this pattern for "Big Butt Baby Pants" on Made by Rae, and decided to go for it.  Yes, I had to pay for the pattern, but I've already made 3 pairs of pants and I'm sure will make plenty more throughout her first 2 years.

Here's the first pair...made from some cute vintage fabric given to me.

 The second pair is also made out of some great vintage fabric given to me.  I made an identical pair for Rory's cousin Jasmine so they can look like twins. I have a feeling that is going to happen a lot throughout their lives.

Sorry about the picture quality.  Pictures before 7am don't always work out very well.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3 Months

Rory is already 3 months!  The most shocking part is that she's more than doubled in size since she was born!  Her favorite things to do these days are eat, sleep, smile, and talk.  She also recognizes Jonathan and me when she sees us and always gives us a big grin. 

For those of you who are interested, here's her daily schedule when I'm not working.  (For those of you who aren't interested, I totally understand why!) :
7am: wake up, eat, and stare at the light (when I pump into a bottle, she eats around 5oz/feeding)
10am: wake up, eat, practice sitting and standing and talk to mom
11:15ish: sleep
1pm: wake up and eat, take a walk to the coffee shop and stare at the fan, talk with mom
4pm: wake up and eat, smile lots at dad and tell him about my day
5:15ish: sleep
7pm: eat, change into pj's, practice sitting and standing
7:30pm: sleep
9:50pm: sleep through the rest of the night

Yep, she's pretty awesome.

Monday, November 08, 2010

More with Less Monday: Laundry Detergent

I finally got around to making laundry detergent!  The most difficult part, by far, was finding a place that sells Fels Naptha and Washing Soda.  I finally found it at Ace Hardware!

Here's the $$$$ breakdown.  (Math done by modcottage):
Cost to make your own: Around $2 per batch. This is about 5.7 cents per load (using 2 tablespoons for each load, you get about 35 loads).. Arm & Hammer laundry detergent is about 12.4 cents per load.Tide detergent is 30 cents and more per load.

Here's the recipe.  (Also thanks to modcottage ):
1 bar of Fels Naptha soap...grated on the cheese grater!
1C. Borax
1C. Washing Soda

Mix it all together and tada!  It only takes 2 tablespoons for a large load.  (You can also add 1C. of Oxy Clean if you so desire!)

The one thing to remember is to start the washer on HOT water so the soap can dissolve and then move it to cold if that's what you normally do.

Also, there are lots of recipes online for liquid homemade laundry detergent.  But, that involves actually having a place to store a 2 gallon bucket of laundry soap.  So...I went with the powdered version. 

Check out the size difference.  Sweet!

Thanks for celebrating the More With Less world with me! 

What do you do to simplify?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Happy Halloween from Rory

 Believe it or not, all of these costumes were given to us...aside, of course, the one where she's only in her diaper!  And they're all so adorable, we couldn't let them go to waste!

Which one is your favorite?

Monday, November 01, 2010

More with Less Monday

Well, it's time to wrap up the month of October...and it wasn't a great More with Less month.  We (really I) ate out a lot.  Our morning schedule makes it super hard to also have time to pack a lunch on the days I work.  Jonathan leaves a little after 6am, so it's up to me to get up, get ready, get Rory's stuff ready, get Rory up (if she's not already), feed her, pump a bottle, and then head to work by 7:30.  Yes, I know I could do it the night before, but I don't do anything after the sun sets. I'm a morning person.  But, I'm getting better.  I took my lunch 2 out of 3 days this week, so that's a bonus.  And...I left oatmeal and coffee at the office if I don't get a chance for breakfast or coffee at home.

Anyway, here's the final rundown:
Food: $300
    Eating Out: $105 (embarrassing!!!!!)
Shopping: $59
    Recycled/Thrifted: $32  (Most of it was getting Rory warm pants and jackets for the winter, plus $1 pair of shoes for me)
    Moment of weakness for some cute boots: $27