School uniforms and frugal finds.

Uniforms can be quite expensive. This being our first year (and experience) with buying uniforms, I've been hunting high and low for the best bargain. Although I've found inexpensive pieces here and there (Goodwill, garage sales, Once Upon a Child), we do not have an established supply of uniform pieces, you know, tops, bottoms, jumpers, etc.

So I had this goal in mind that I would buy an entire summer/fall uniform wardrobe for less than $100, but I think that might've been too lofty; now my goal is to establish a full wardrobe (on sale and with coupons, of course) and a backpack for less than $150.

I'm doing good on my new goal.

I began Harper's wardrobe with three khaki jorts that I picked up from a local 'online' garage sale group. A cute navy jumper dress from Goodwill, and a pair of 'classic' khakis from Once Upon a Child. Total: $9.25

Today, I saw that Children's Place had specials running on their uniforms, plus an extra 30% off $60 or more (off everything in the store) with this code: savemore3, so I picked up: five ruffle uniform polo shirts, two skinny uniform pants, two crew neck cardigan sweaters, two uniform shorts, and two pairs of modesty shorts.

My total today was $86.73 plus tax. Shipping was free, whee! Harper still needs a windbreaker/rain coat and a khaki jumper dress. I saw that these were on sale at Walmart; downside is that I have to pay $5 in shipping, yuck! Why won't they ship to store? Just not sure. Definitely going to get the coat because it is marked down quite a bit, but I think I'll wait on the jumper. I'm sure I can buy one off someone or find one at Goodwill for cheaper than this price.

If you are trying to buy school uniforms on the cheap. I know that Walmart has a sale on their gear (polos are $21 per 4 pack, shorts are $7) as does Old Navy (polos are $5/each, pants are $10). The prices are comparable to the discounted prices I received today with Children's Place. To add to it, I love that Children's Place will accept/exchange my returns if they don't fit; their pants and shorts have adjustable belt loops, which is important to moms of skinny minis. It helps that I had some rewards points to use, and the quality of their clothing is great, IMO.

Thanks for reading today, and here is a lovely pic of the fam from a date with the local farmers market a few weekends ago (before I dyed my hair red). I used a fun filter on these photos, not sure now much I like it though. Hm.

School supplies and frugal finds.

I'm all about saving a buck, whether its on groceries, clothing, school supplies, you name it.

Despite all that, I've been really lazy about hunting down a deal and jumping on it. I mean to say that I haven't couponed in a long time (like 6 months), which is horrible, and I have no one to blame but myself. This is my confession (makes you think of that song, right?). I do continue to price match from time to time, but I found that I was spending too much time hunting down, printing and organizing coupons, so I just took a break, a long one.
Because Harper starts school in a month, I figured it was time to start stocking up on school supplies and uniforms the frugal way.  I found her list on the school website as well as a uniform list. Then I searched for upcoming discounts with the help of Moms By Heart

Tonight I found some pretty cheap prices (good through Saturday, July 26) at Office Depot and Staples. Some of the prices were not the cheapest (the notebooks at Walmart were $0.25, hindsight is 20/20), but they seemed good at the time, so I purchased them anyway. Also, did you know that Staples offers a 100% Price Match Guarantee. Yeah, I didn't realize till I mentioned something was cheaper in the Office Depot ad, and they gave it to me for that price, crazytown.

Additionally, our teachers are looking for extra Kleenex, a binder and a writing tablet.

Not all everything she needs, but almost everything for less than $10.00.
White Glue, Bottle
1 @ $0.25
One Subject, Notebook
2 @ $0.40

Total: $1.05 + tax

Pencils, 12CT
1 @ $0.68
Pencil Box
1 @ $1.00
2-Pocket Folder
1 @ $0.15
Composition Notebook
2 @ $0.50
Glue Sticks, 4PK
1 @ $1.25
Crayola Crayons, 24CT
2 @ $0.50 -- FREE because the guy didn't ring these up apparently, oops!
Crayola Colored Construction Paper, 96CT
2 @ $2.00

Total: $8.08 + tax

Roseart Markers, 10CT
1 @ $0.77

Total: $0.77 + tax

**Side note, I don't know what happened at Staples with the crayons. I put everything on the counter, and I even saw him ring them up. He had to update my receipt to do the price match guarantee on the construction paper ($2 @ Office Depot), so I'm not sure how the crayons were overlooked. I feel kind of bad about it, but I did not even catch the mistake till I looked at my receipt when I got home. Eek!! At least it was only $1, I guess.**

Well all in all, I spent about $9.90 + tax on Harper's school supplies. Now all I have left to buy is Kleenex, manila paper, a 1/2 inch binder with pockets, a folder with brads, scissors, water color paints, ziploc bags, writing tablet, and baby wipes.

My goal is to spend $20 or less on Harper's school supplies.

My next goal is to buy Harper school uniforms and a backpack for less than $100. Uniforms and backpacks can be expensive, but I am confident that I can get a good deal by shopping at Walmart and by using coupons, we'll see. Thus far I've picked up a jumper dress (Goodwill), three skorts (garage sale), and a pair of khaki pants (Once Upon a Child) all for less than $8.00, so I am on a roll.

I forgot to mention that the Once Upon a Child in our area was having a 70% off clearance sale, so I bought two shirts, a sweater, and shorts for Sawyer (fall/winter apparel) and a shirt, a dress and khakis (summer/fall/winter apparel) for only $10.79. I just love a steal, don't you?

Do you have an action plan when it comes to stocking up on school supplies and clothing for the upcoming year? How do you save a buck on these items? Do you frequent garage sales, Goodwill and other discount outlets for steals? I'm always looking for new ways to save money. I'd love to hear your strategies for saving.

What's going on...

What's going on... what's going on... - such a fab song. Don'tcha think?

I haven't had a lot of free time lately. Well that's not completely true. I did just spend 5 wonderful days with friends and family scrapbooking at Memory Lane Inn, but I was "working" on scrapbooking, so not much "free time," if you know what I mean.

While on my wonderful retreat, I shared a "how to" Plan, Prepare and Pack for a Scrapbook Retreat over at the MLI blog. In addition, on Monday my mish-mash, scraproom on the cheap was featured over at Blissful and Domestic for Danielle's series on Creating a Beautiful Life on Less. It was truly an amazing opportunity. I am so glad that Danielle asked to feature my room because it is important for others to see that craft rooms are not always perfect. Most of them are not professionally designed, and they are not always the purdiest. They are places where memory making (and craft making) magic happens, and they get messy and are often a thrown-together mish-mash, like my room, which is still a work in progress. Would you believe that I am getting new flooring in there? I know it's all kinds of crazy in my house, and I am only getting updated flooring because of a mess of stuff that just came through the ceiling, literally.

In June, we celebrated Sawyer's 2nd birthday. We had a sweet Mickey Mouse themed splash birthday party. It was a wonderful day for hot dogs, swimming, sprinklers, cupcakes and cookies. Our family likes to do birthdays on the cheap, so with a couple of tarps, old sprinklers and a pool, fun was had by all.
Cookies are from TSCookies on Etsy

Cupcakes from local friend and cake decorator Tiffnie Schindler

July has also been quite an eventful month. We spent some wonderful quality time together at Dinosaur World in Glen Rose, TX.  It is a great little park, where kids big and small can see almost life size dinosaur statues, find gemstones, and dig for dinsosaur bones.

Then we had a lovely time watching fireworks with my family and friends on Independence Day.

A few days later, a small leak began in our playroom. It started as a dripping bubble, so we punctured the bubble and repaired the leak to keep it from happening again. The next day the AC stopped working, so we called in our home warranty, and they sent someone to the house. On Thursday, the ceiling in the playroom completely caved in, I guess from the weight of the wet insulation and the leak that had spread across the ceiling. It was a nightmare!! We've been very fortunate that our insurance is working with us despite our very high deductible. I didn't realize it was so high or else I would've changed that ages ago.

Just a few tidbits about my home... in the past year (since January 2014), we've fixed a foundation leak,  replaced our hot water heater, dealt with a burst pipe and flood in the carpeted bedrooms and hallway, installed brand-new insulation in the attic, resealed a broken toilet ring, fixed a leaky sink faucet, replaced a broken shower head, and now we are going to replace all the carpeting in the house, replace the lost insulation from the leak, fix the GAPING hole in the ceiling, paint the walls/trim, and our house will be practically brand new.  The next thing to go is the AC; I am well aware of this. Hopefully this won't happen for at least another year because honestly, we absolutely cannot afford to do that ANYTIME soon. 

Our home is such a blessing and our shelter, but this year it has also been a real money pit too.

Goodness, it just feels good to vent about this big mess. Eek. 


You might be asking yourself what B.Y.O.K stands for... and I have an answer for that: Build Your Own Kit! Why, yes! Now doesn't that sound like fun?

I love building scrapbook kits out of my stash. There are so many kits out there that inspire me. The kits that I create I take with me to crops (scrapbooking with others), retreats (again, scrapbooking with others, but overnight), or just plain scrapbooking at home. I know of some scrappers that build mini-kits and take them on the road even like Dear Lizzy. For me, having a kit on hand truly makes scrapbooking a bit more seamless and less stressful, especially if you feel overwhelmed by a large stash.

Like you, I have a tight scrapbook budget. Currently, I allow myself one kit subscription per month.  This helps to maintain my supply of papers and products. When my stash feels unmanageable or I'm not using up the kits that I purchase, then I cancel my sub for a time. Right now, I am subbing to Studio Calico. In the past, I've subscribed to Citrus Twist Kits, Scraptastic Club, and Gossamer Blue.

Now more about how to B.Y.O.K or build your own kit.

When I build kits, I follow a simple recipe. First I begin with an inspiration kit. This month I chose Gossamer Blue's May Main Kit. I was most attracted to the bright card stock and floral print.

I generally stick to four solid cardstock (including a neutral like white, kraft or black), eight pattern papers (including both large and small patterns),  large and small alphas, a stamp set, and embellishments (basically whatever floats my boat: doilies, stickers, sequins, buttons, brads, enamel dots).

Normally, I would start by finding a pattern paper that anchors the whole line, like the bright floral of the inspiration kit. For this kit though, I actually began with the card stock. I really loved the idea of combining teal and fuchsia, but I thought their brightness in the inspiration kit competed with each other; additionally, I didn't love the orange paper chosen for this kit. I know why it was chosen, but it really doesn't compliment the fuschia or the teal to me. For my kit, I chose a bright, chipper yellow to compliment my a lighter teal (which is more like an aqua) and bright purple based fuchsia (I actually couldn't believe that I had this purple/pink color. It's so unlike me.)
Cardstock (Bazzill, Cor'dinations)
Now that I have chosen the perfect color of cardstock, it is time to find a floral print that contains all of these colors. It was a process at first, but I settled on a beautiful print with a brown base and lots of color. Isn't it just lovely? Next, I began by looking for a strong stripe. I found a teal in a strong horizontal. A yellow gingham paper was a perfect too as well as a soft grey stripe. Next up, I wanted another paper that pulled some of the pink out without being overwhelming. Rather than choose a white based paper with a pattern like the pennant paper in the inspiration kit, I chose to go with this fun constellation paper. A neutral small print to replace the cream grid paper was next; I found this swell light taupe polka dot. Lastly, I needed something else to jazz it up and make it modern. I was looking for something white and black like the strong horizontal in the inspiration kit. I found this soft, yet masculine black and white chevron print and also these fun mopeds with a neutral base. Normally, I wouldn't add a competing patter against this strong floral, but I thought these were cute and they had all the colors to compliment the cardstock as well as the floral print, and ta-da. It comes together so nicely.
Cardstock (Bazill), Pattern Paper (My Minds Eye, Dear Lizzy, Amy Tangerine)
Stamps were next on my list because I often forget them. I wanted to make sure that I chose them before my embellishments. You see, I'm not really a stamper (or mister). I try, but it always feels so far out of my comfort zone, kind of like sewing on paper. I love how it looks, but it's been tough for me to master. Still a total beginner, but I digress.
Stamp (Amy Tangerine, Citrus Twist Kits)
When it comes to embellishments, I start by perusing through 'kit' leftovers. These are pieces from past kits that were never opened or I didn't use up all the pieces. For this kit, I found some glitter sentiments, die-cut frames, funky (boyish) stickers, a fun rub-on, small floral buttons, and other odds and ends that I had in my stash basket. And we can't forget about alphas. I am seriously obsessed with Thickers, and I have been since I bought my first pack (even paid full price) at Hobby Lobby in 2009.
Stickers (Heidi Swapp, My Minds Eye, Simple Stories), Tags (Chic Tags),
Die-Cut (Scraptastic Club), Rub-On (Jenni Bowlin), Washi Tape (Sticker Stop),
Brads (American Crafts), Poms (Basic Grey), Thickers (Amy Tangerine),
Doilies, Buttons (Melissa Frances), Label (Citrus Twist Kits)

And voila, I'm done.  Now some of you might like to include additional items in your kits, such as coordinating ink, mists, etc. I don't have very many of those, so I bring them ALL to each and every crop. They store very nicely in my little rolling tote along with my kits, so I can pick what I need in the moment. If you have too many to schlep around, then I recommend picking out a couple of inks and a mist to include in your kit for when you go to crops and retreats, that way you don't have to lug everything and the kitchen sink.
I transport my B.Y.O.Ks in lovely 2 gallon ziploc bags. Available at
Walmart; I purchased mine through a seller on Etsy for a steal.
So that is that. I create kits to use up my stash, streamline my scrapbook process, and to bring to crops and retreats. I have a lot of fun doing it. It is a very artistic and therapeutic process for me.

In other news, I was recently asked to guest blog over at the brand spankin' new Memory Lane Inn Blog. It was such an honor to be asked, so of course I jumped right on it. It was a fun experience, and I plan to share next week about how I plan, prep, and pack for an overnight retreat. They are looking for a few good bloggers, especially former/current retreat guests. Email me if you would like more details about blogging with Memory Lane Inn: tinyscrapper at yahoo dot com.

Tell me do you sub to kits? Which ones? Or do you B.Y.O.K.? Or a little of both, like me? I'd love to know. Tell me about your process; what works best for you?