Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Princess Tea Parties

For all of you parents out there, you know how difficult it is to keep your kids entertained all the time. I have been so busy all summer with wedding after wedding I felt like we hardly got to have play time this summer. My daughter and I were having a tea party one evening and came up with a grand idea! We decided that we would invite all of her little girlfriends over and have a really neat tea party with real cups and saucers and baked blackberry tarts. (We picked a bucket full of blackberries).

This was a great way to keep the kids entertained, keep my daughter involved and have some "playtime". It was a lot of fun to plan, inexpensive to put together and easy to execute. All of the dishes you see in the above picture were purchased at thrift stores. That way I don't care of one of the kids drop and break one and they are inexpensive to buy. They don't have to be matching, the new fad nowadays is pretty mismatched tea sets.

We made own own goodies, blackberry tarts, scones and peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We also had a candy bar on a separate table that the kids could grab a bag and take some home with them. (The parents sure loved me).

Next I wrapped individual knives,forks, and spoons in a napkin and wrapped a candy bracelet around it to hold it all together. I also laid out a beaded necklace and wand at every place setting. I purchased a color table cloth form the dollar store and paper doilies to put on top in the middle as seen above. It makes the table look fancy but it only cost me a couple of dollars. Then my daughter and I picked wildflowers in the grass to put in vases on the table as our centerpieces. A fun thing to do with your kids and costs nothing. It also makes for a beautiful vintage centerpiece.

I also was busy cutting card stock to make bunting to hang up. I just bought a few pieces of different card stock from Michael's craft store and cut one triangle out as a guide and  traced the rest. I then made holes in both sides at the top and strung them together with some colored string I purchased at the dollar store. I then printed out letters off my computer and glued them on and VOILA! It's simple and looks great! The cutting is what takes the most time. I also strung some bunting on the candy bar table.

Making and doing things with your kids is fun and a great way to spend time with your kids. I never had that luxury before as I was a full time working mom. Now that I've had my son, I'm still on maternity leave and so I have all the time in the world to spend with my kids and I'm loving every minute of it.

I hope that all of you with kids take the time and spend it with them, get to really know them, and have fun with them. I can't stress that enough. All I wanted to do when I was working was spend time with my daughter and now I am doing just that and taking full advantage of it. It probably won't be forever because I'll probably have to go back to work at some point, but I certainly won't waste the time I have now.

I hope this inspired some of you to throw a random party for your kids and their friends and get creative!

Thanks for listening!


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Coupon Trading

Coupon Trading is a great way to save money. I personally started coupon trading on online forums and it works great! I even put out an ad myself on our local Usedeverywhere.com and Craigslist. I never meet anyone in person to coupon trade just trade by mail and it seems to work just fine. If you're scared of giving out your address I guess you could use a PO Box but not necessary. I don't have a PO Box I just use my address. Coupon trading works best when you have big coupon books like the Entertainment Book or Coupon Saver Book. There are tons of coupons I will never use in there and so why not trade them for coupons I will use? Since I shop once a week at Safeway I like to trade for Safeway coupons. On average I save between 30%-40% every week when I do my big shop once a week. It's not as much savings as some of the extreme coupon shows down in the US, but nonetheless in Canada it's pretty good savings. It's better then a swift kick in the butt right?

I've had so much response in regards to my ad that I've already made my money back three fold on the purchase price of the coupon book. It's a great way to get coupons you want or need and get rid of ones you don't need or won't use. You can also do this with friends and family if anyone gets the newspaper with coupons in it you can trade with them.

Another way to trade is to have coupon parties and invite all of your friends to bring unwanted coupons. Someone is bound to be able to use them. I am actually going to be hosting one in a few weeks where all of my girlfriends will come over for some wine and treats and swap coupons! I can't wait! It's a fun way to get together and trade and hopefully someone will find a use for all of the unwanted coupons out there. You could put a fun spin on it and have a martini couponing party if you'd like.

There are some great websites out there with downloadable coupons and you can usually find coupons from merchants on their websites as well. I usually get flyers and coupons in my weekly paper as well, so there are a lot of great coupons out there. It's just whether you can use them or not. Remember  coupons is like having cash in your pockets and it's not just for the poor or middle class. Anyone can use coupons and why not? It's almost like the companies are handing out free money but in coupon form. Who can say no to free money?

Happy Couponing!


Friday, 21 September 2012

Saving on Christmas/Holiday Shopping

In this day in age, everyone is trying to find ways to save money. For some strange reason though they seem to splurge on Christmas, Birthdays, and other holidays. Why is this? The average Canadian spends anywhere from $1000 to $3000 on Christmas presents. Holidays and buying material items are so over rated. Why spend thousands of dollars when Christmas is supposed to be all about family and togetherness. My husband and I barely spend $300 on Christmas presents. How you might ask? Every Thanksgiving we always put all of the adults name in a hat on both sides of our family. Each person picks one name and has a spending cap of $50 per present. In total my husband and I each spend $100 each for both families and then we buy one larger present for our daughter from "santa" and then we also buy a few stocking stuffers for everyone and my husband and I don't buy gifts for each other. We always buy a "gift" for a needy village like a goat or a pig to show our kids about charity and the value of donating.

Another easy and fun way of doing gift exchanging is everyone buying a gift $10 or under and putting it in a pile in the middle of the room without any names on them. Write numbers on pieces of paper from 1-10 etc depending on how many people brought gifts and put them in a hat and shake them up! Each person takes a number and in that order starting with number 1 they pick a present and unwrap it. The next person can either steal  the first present from the first person or get a new one and unwrap it. The last person to pick a present can steal anyone of the presents or take the last wrapped gift. This is a fun and cheap way of getting a gift and not spending a lot of money. It's amazing what you can buy for $10.

For Birthdays, we usually get together for dinner with the family. Instead of giving presents, we all chip in $50 per person except for the Birthday man/woman and put it into a Birthday account. It's amazing how quickly it adds up. We then take the whole family and go on a family trip. This coming February my family including my parents, my sister and her husband, my husband and I and our two kids are all going to Hawaii with our Birthday fund. It's a great way to travel if you don't have a lot of spare cash and for me I'd rather go on a family trip then to buy a silly present for someone who may or may not stuff it into the corner of a closet.

It's easy to have a lot of fun with little cost. You could try only putting in $25 dollars if $50 is to much or more if it's too little. Play around with it a bit and see what you come up with. Remember it's all in fun and make sure everyone is on board if you are going to do it. It's not fun when someone is left out because they can't afford it.

A great way to save for Christmas is putting a little away into an account every month until the end of the year. That way Christmas won't come as a shock and you have money to spend. You can also buy Christmas presents when sales come up throughout the year. It's a great way to buy products cheap an you don't have to wait until they jack up the prices at Christmas time.

Another way to save around the holidays is to bake or make your own gifts. Are you really good at making jams or cookies? Then why not make some for everyone on your list? Canning or baking costs are minimal when you have a lot of people to buy for. Make your favorite treat and share in the magic of giving! My holiday favorites are Church windows made with colored marshmallows, shortbread cookies, antipasto (my mom makes some every year), and of course homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Feel free to post some of your holiday favorites!

Next time you have a Birthday or holiday come up, why not make a card instead of buying one. Homemade cards are a lot nicer and more thoughtful then store bought cards. They will probably end up in the recycling eventually so why spend $6 on a card when you can make one for pennies? Be creative, come up with your own ideas on how to save money!

I hope you enjoyed todays read!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Becoming Domestic

For those of you who know me personally know that I am not very domestic. At all in fact. I have just had my second baby and am now home for awhile now and so I must learn. I have an entire household to run including taking care of my three year old daughter, taking care of my two month old son and keeping my house clean. On top of that I need to learn how to cook. I don't do much of the cooking myself, my husband does most of it. I guess because he is working full days and I am at home now I need to start cooking. It's only fair right? 

Well the other day my daughter, son and I went and picked blackberries and filled an entire bucket. "What do I do with these?" I said to myself. I guess I'm going to have to make a pie! Man do I love a good blackberry pie with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. 

So I found a recipe online and got my husband to pick up the ingredients yesterday after work. Last night I baked my first blackberry pie and boy was it good! I was pretty proud of myself and my husband even went back for seconds. There is a picture of the final result up above. I even made it look pretty!

The recipe I found was this:

Blackberry Pie Recipe

1 Pie shell
5-6 cups blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry (if you use frozen berries, defrost and drain them)1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract3 Tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 30 minutes.

Pour into pie crust and place on middle rack for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes are up turn the oven down to 350 degrees and put on for another 15 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Makes for one yummy treat. I think I will have another piece today! Of course my daughter helped picked the blackberries and helped make the pie so she will get a piece too. I think it's a great way for kids to get involved and learn all about baking. If they are a part of the process, they are more inclined to eat whatever it is you made. Whether it's breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. I also made dinner last night for my family. I made one great spaghetti sauce and we all had a delicious dinner. I used a lot of herbs and veggies from our little pallet garden. It turned out really well and I will probably do it again.

I sure am turning domestic, and I love it! 

Hope you enjoyed todays read!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Which Mortgage to pay off first?

When you have more then one Mortgage the question is which one to pay down first? For me it's simple. We have a condo that we rent out where the rent pretty much covers our mortgage and strata fees in full minus about $100 a month. We also have a house where we currently reside. Because our mortgage is being paid for on our condo we don't really have to worry about it since our renters are paying it. So what if you have to pay interest on the mortgage? You don't have to pay out of pocket for it. Your renters pay it.

As for our house, we pay the mortgage, and we also pay the interest, therefore if we pay our mortgage down sooner the less interest we have to pay on it. In full, saves us money in the long run. I like saving $$$. Who doesn't in all honesty?

And so, I believe it is better to pay down whichever property you currently reside in. Saves you money in the long run. Our house also has a bigger Mortgage on it as well and so the interest costs would be greater. Paying it down sooner would in fact save even more money. I can't stress enough how important it is to pay down your mortgage sooner. Even if it's only an extra $50 or $100 a month. Those extra payments go directly onto the principle which brings your mortgage, interest and number of years down quicker.

I'm not rich by any means. I'm also not poor. I can afford to put down an extra $115 down on my Mortgage every month which I have budgeted into our monthly budget. It's not much but it saves me $40,000 in interest and pays off my mortgage 4 years sooner. So now my 30 year mortgage turns into a 26 year mortgage. The more I put on it the sooner my Mortgage will be paid off.

If I can save someone thousands of dollars in interest costs alone I will be happy. If I can keep your money where it belongs in your pocket, mission accomplished. I hate seeing people waste their hard earned money. I see too many of my friends and family members in debt and for what? I big screen TV, or a new kitchen that they just HAD to update? Why go into debt for material items? They just need to learn to be better with their money. Everyone would be that much richer if they didn't have debt repayment they had to budget into their monthly budget. If you didn't have that car loan of $200 a month or that credit card debt charging you 21% in interest you would be so much better off! Those things are not necessary to survive and certainly not necessary to live a nice life. They are extras, mire luxuries which if you can't afford, shouldn't have.

If I can get through to at least one person I will be happy and my job here is done.

I hope you enjoyed my rant today.