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Life hack: How to save hundreds of dollars every year with one simple tip

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I’m always looking for ways to save money.  There is always something else to spend my money on.  This one skill, which I’ve learned fairly quickly and easily, has saved my family hundreds of dollars over the last year or so.  What is the magic?  It’s called sewing.  Now before you tune out because you don’t sew, there’s a channel called YouTube.  There are lots of videos that can teach you to sew, to maintain your machine, etc.  Just check out the reviews on some basic machines and buy one.  You can get one fairly inexpensively and it will save you so much money!

Okay, so let’s assume you bought a machine and watched a few videos on how to sew in a straight line.  So how do I use this skill to save my family money?

First, I have sewn lots of gift for friends and family.  Useful things that would have cost plenty of money to buy, but having sewn them, they were not so bad.  The best place for ideas and easy patterns is Pinterest.  Just of the few things I made (seriously they were not difficult):

One idea for kids of all ages – a monster towel.

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Here’s the pattern for the monster.  I came up with my own general idea, but it’s based on this blog: http://crazylittleprojects.com/2013/12/hooded-towels-kids-2013-towels.html

One idea for baby – a bib

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This is a super easy pattern.  Thanks to: http://www.sewmuchado.com/2012/11/spit-bib-tutorial-and-free-pattern.html.

One idea for a new mom – a specialized after-bath towel/apron

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This is slightly altered from the pattern.  I added a lining to the top, by the chest.  But I purchased this from: https://www.etsy.com/listing/100699219/baby-bath-apron-towel-and-mitt-pdf?ref=&sref=.

One idea for little boys – bow tie

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This is easier than you would think!  I got this from http://lemonsqueezyhome.com/2010/04/bow-tie-tutorial.html.

One idea for women – kimonos

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I did a few different patterns and materials here to try it all out.  The kimono on the left is a silk type of material.  The other two are more like a jersey.  I got these from: http://www.sewmuchado.com/2012/11/spit-bib-tutorial-and-free-pattern.html.

Those are just the presents!

I also have repaired all our clothes.

I’ve added extra material to the end of my daughter’s dresses so that they last longer.  I’ve also pulled in some dresses that I bought for her that were too wide.  Before I would have had to return the too-wide dresses and I would have had to tell my daughter, “I know we just bought you this dress and that it still fits, but it’s a bit too short to wear.”  Sewing has saved many tears in this household.  You can also add extra material to the bottom of jeans or sleeves to make them last longer.  The possibilities are endless with just this one skill.


I know that if you are just getting started you may think, I don’t want to mess up!  So take clothes that your kids have completely destroyed or just outgrown and try fixing them.  Practice fixing hems.  And then, move on to the real thing!

If you want to quickly collect easy sewing patterns, you can follow me on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/jolene1209/sewing/.  I have videos on there as well.

Don’t be afraid.  Give it a try!

 

 

 

 

Life hack: How to de-stress – when you really just can’t

Sometimes we get so stressed that we forget that really simple things can lessen our load.  Below are a list of ways to de-stress.  Everyone is different.  Every situation is different.  But all of these methods have been tested and have worked at some point.  The key is that you have to know what works for you.  And then you have to remember to work it.  If you haven’t found anything that really works, that is when you try other people’s suggestions, such as….

Calming music

Have you tried lullaby station on Pandora?  Lots of very soothing music on there!  Can’t handle all the calmness?  Try a love song station on Pandora or religious music or any other type of music that calms you.

Really fun music

Think “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or other music that makes you wanna bop around.  Can’t handle all that fun?  Try music that came out when you were a teen.  Music that reminds me of my junior high dances always makes me smile.

Stress music

Songs that just say, this sucks, I need out!  The other day I was stressed.  This song came on the radio and made me laugh.  Sometimes you need someone to scream about your issues to make you feel better.  After this song, my mood surprisingly was much better!

 

Smells

Everyone has favorite smells.  People can smell a fruit smell and suddenly cheer up.  Others need more of a lavender type smell.  You really need to try to figure out your “happy” scents before you are stressed so you can quickly grab them when things are heading downhill.

There are so many ways to get access to these scents too.  For example, I LOVE jasmine.  I had to drive a lot the other day.  I walked by a jasmine plant during one of my driving breaks.  I stopped to smell it.  I was suddenly smiling.  When I went to get back in my car, I broke off some of the jasmine so I could enjoy the smell for the next leg of my trip.

Another example, lavender doesn’t do much for me.  But lavender with vanilla apparently can calm me down so much that if I’m so overstressed and I simply can’t focus, suddenly after smelling lavender+vanilla, I notice I can focus.  It really is amazing. For this purpose I use doTERRA “Serenity” essential oil.  A drop on a diffuser ball or on my wrist or even just sniffing it out of the bottle, enables me to refocus.

If you want to know where to buy it, you can find it here:

http://www.mydoterra.com/blackbourn

Improve the view

Sometimes we need to just get away.  I have a Pinterest board that is called “Serenity” (by coincidence and actually not inspired by the oil I use!).  It’s pictures of places I consider beautiful.  Places I’d love to take a book and read.  Or places I’d just like to relax.  Even if I can’t go there, just looking at those pictures puts me in a different mindset.

You are welcome to visit my page at: http://www.pinterest.com/jolene1209/serenity

 

Meditation

It may not possible at all times, but taking a break and just relaxing for a few minutes can really reenergize you and make a difference in your productivity and your attitude.  Even just sitting at your desk, closing your eyes and focusing on breathing for a mere minute can alter your mental state.

Exercise

You may not want to exercise, but it really does change your whole outlook on life.  You feel better when you accomplish something as simple as a sit-up set you’ve been wanting to do.  Even just stretching can improve your outlook.  If you stretch consistently, you will find you will become more flexible.  When you suddenly can touch your toes or touch your forehead to your knee, it’s a very exciting feeling and will put a smile on your face!  Dedicate just a few minutes to doing this daily and your overall stress level will decrease!

Overview

All of these ideas have so many studies supporting their effectiveness.  But we often forget to employ them.  Using a combination of these ideas will help maintain a lower stress level.  But when you have reached a point where you just can’t calm down, make sure you MAKE the time to employ several of these techniques. That often is the key.  Just remembering how and when to get started.

To use an example.  If you are overwhelmed at your desk at work, focus on breathing, look at some pretty pictures, and breathe in some yummy smells (whether via oils, perfume, whatever) and play a song from your phone/computer.  This will take about 3 minutes and will probably improve your mood and increase your productivity.  If you can follow this with another 3 minutes of closed eye relaxation, even better.  This same scenario can be done in your car.  So even if you are on the road, just pull over for a minute and take a moment to regroup.  The lost work time it takes to do this, will be regained once you feel better.

 

 

 

Quick tips: Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact – the kitchen

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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen

Landfills.  They are one of the biggest environmental problems in our world.  Yet no one seems to talk about them.  We hear reduce, reuse, recycle.  But what we mean is, don’t buy items that you will just throw in the landfill.  If you buy something, try to reuse or repurpose it so it doesn’t take up more landfill space.  And if possible, recycle it so it doesn’t use up more landfill space.  The problem with the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is that it is so concise that people have forgotten (or don’t know) what happens if we don’t reduce, reuse, recycle.

As our population continues to blossom out of control, we have less and less park space, open space, etc.  We also need more room for larger landfills.  Landfills emit methane.  So you don’t want to live near or, heaven forbid, on one (they do bury them).  So I will be writing a series of posts about how to avoid adding to this very serious problem.  There are so many simple ways to do this.  I will divide them up by category.  Today’s topic…

Kitchen

Serving platters, silverware, dishes and so forth

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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen

When you need new stuff for your kitchen, consider getting it from your local second hand store.  A dinner party is much more fun if every guest has a different china plate and fork and so forth.  This will not only be potentially more cost effective, but also will reduce your stress level.  No need to worry if someone will break a dish, they don’t match anyway!  Having funky serving platters is more fun than having matching ones.

And when you feel your kitchen items are worn out, give them to the thrift store or to anyone going to college.  College students are always in need of household goods.

Plastic

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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen
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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen

Plastic does not last.  Only some containers are safe from emitting toxins.  Keeping track of exactly what is safe can be exhausting.  Overall, I’d say, the less plastic, the better.  There are glass food containers that can be used to store food instead.  While it is possible for them to break, they are pretty solid and are actually difficult to break.

Some plastic is recycleable, but not all and not by all facilities.  Again, it’s exhausting.  Overall, to reduce waste, buy better made products made from glass, cast iron, metal, pyrex, etc.

If you want info on plastic safety, here’s a quick article: http://www.popsci.com/earthtalk/article/2008-08/how-safe-tupperware

Jars

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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen

Mason jars are a huge fad right now.  People go out and spend lots of money on them.  But we are given free jars every day.  When you buy salsa, pasta sauce, jam – they come in glass jars.  If you are looking for glass jars to use as gifts, now you have some, for free!  If you need storage for various goods, like crayons, rubber stamps, small toys….use a pasta jar.  If you are running out of food storage containers, use an empty pasta jar.  Yes, it is a bit odd to store leftover chicken in a pasta jar, but you get used to it and it’s free!  No need to buy more storage containers if the grocery store is giving them to you for free.

Composting

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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen

This has been growing in popularity for quite some time.  In fact, it’s been covered so many times I’m just going to post a few links to help you out, if you haven’t already started down this path.

For all your most basic (and some more advanced) info, visit: http://www.howtocompost.org/

In Los Angeles, the city will give you a free composting bin.  So check out your local area to see if you can get one for free too.

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Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact in the kitchen

There are mini compost bins that you can put under your sink and empty every day.  They stop the odor from leaving the bin.  They are cheap.  You don’t even have to have a full compost bin.  Just use this and dump it into your “green” trash can.  Seriously, if everyone did this, it would have a huge impact on landfill space.  (Food waste takes up about 14% of all landfill space.)  http://homeguides.sfgate.com/much-waste-can-save-composting-78547.html

Recycling

Of course, recycling is key in reducing landfill space.  Every town has their own rules on what can and cannot be recycled.  Contact your local facility for details.  But in general:  http://www.wm.com/thinkgreen/what-can-i-recycle.jsp

Reducing

Here’s where I think we get forgetful.  Are you placing aluminum foil or plastic wrap over a bowl instead of using a proper storage container and lid?  Are you using disposable plates, silverware, napkins instead of reusable ones?  How do you pack your lunch?  Using plastic baggies that are thrown away after a use or two is a huge waste.

Recipes often call for using parchment paper to keep surfaces clean.  There is no need for such waste.  Make sure the surface is clean before using and then clean it after use!  People 100 years from now will thank you!

There are so many options available.  Any time that you find yourself holding something in your kitchen that must be tossed out after one use, try to find another way of conducting that activity.

 

6 Hacks for Clothing Care

Hack 1: Preserving silk

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http://www.lifehackquicktips.wordpress.com – 6 hacks for clothing care – preserving silk

You can feed the proteins contained in silk by hand washing with  a hair shampoo containing protein.

Hack 2: Preserving buttons

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http://www.lifehackquicktips.wordpress.com – 6 hacks for clothing care – preserving buttons

Before you wear a new shirt with buttons, place a small drop of clear nail polish on the center of each button to seal the threads.

Hack 3: Double heat ironing

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http://www.lifehackquicktips.wordpress.com – 6 hacks for clothing care – double heat ironing

For clothes you must iron, cut time in half by placing aluminum foil under the ironing board cover.  The foil reflects the heat so you are essentially ironing from both sides.  This is especially helpful for difficult creases.

Hack 4: Lint/hair removal

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http://www.lifehackquicktips.wordpress.com – 6 hacks for clothing care – lint/hair removal

If you have never used one of these rollerbrushes, you have been missing out.  They can remove most dog/cat hair and lint.  They even have travel sizes.  I keep at least one at home, one in the car and one at work.  These also work great in cleaning your car if you have had your pet in there.

Hack 5: Wrinkle removal

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http://www.lifehackquicktips.com – 6 hacks for clothing care – wrinkle removal

There are lots of brands but if you haven’t used one of these spray wrinkle releaser, you have been missing out.  I almost never iron anymore and yet rarely go out with wrinkles.  Per the directions you should spray the clothes and lay them out flat, but half the time I spray this on after I have the clothes on.  A light mist works on simple wrinkles, but for deeper ones, I somewhat soak the shirt.  I live by this stuff!

Hack 6: Proper placement

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http://www.lifehackquicktips.com – 6 hacks for clothing care – proper placement

Sometimes your clothes just won’t stay.  Bra straps show, buttons bulge outward showing your bra, tummy or who knows what.  Fashion tape is really just 2 sided tape sold in a say that makes the pieces very tiny and helps you get through your wardrobe issues.  There are several brands.  This is just one.  They are sometimes called fashion tape as well.

Some of these tips were found in a book called Household Secrets, published by Publications International, Ltd.  Others were just my lazy way out of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 quick tips to preserve food longer

Most of us spend way too much of our income on food.  We again spend way too much on food we simply throw away because it rots before we even eat it.  The following are 4 easy ways you can help preserve some of your food just a tad longer.

CHEESE

  1. Placing a sugar cube with cheese keeps your cheese fresh longer.

BREAD

2. Misting stale bread with water, wrapping it in aluminum foil and then warming it in the oven will rejuvenate it.

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4 simple tips to preserve food – bread

Lettuce

3. Wrapping your greens in a damp towel (paper or cloth) and placing them in a plastic bag can lengthen the life of your greens.

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4 simple tips to preserve food – lettuce

Milk

4. Freezing milk in freezer bags will preserve it past its due date.

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4 simple tips to preserve food – milk

So there you go.  You practically have a meal from food you thought would spoil.  Some of these tips I have learned on my own and some I’d like to credit to Melinda Lee.  She has a website and radio show with all kinds of great cooking tips.  You can check out her website here: http://www.melindalee.com/.