Jan 26 2012

Our playroom and office, updated (and their Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday)

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My daughter turned 1 on Dec. 17. My son turned 3 on Dec. 20. We threw a small party for them with the “Very Hungry Caterpillar” theme. I purchased wall decals on eBay (way cheaper than I could find anywhere else!) and put them up in our playroom on the night before their party. It was party decor, but also (semi) permanent decor and I’m happy with how it turned out. Roughly $45. I’ve seen other sets of VHC wall decals in the $15 range, though they have different and fewer stickers.

playroom with very hungry caterpillar decals

I created some construction paper caterpillars and wrote their names on it.

We had The Very Hungry Caterpillar board book, but I also borrowed another, larger version from the public library. And yes we had story-time while people were eating dinner and I read it to them. I wanted to explain why I had a platter of pickles, salami, swiss cheese….and a fruit salad of apples, pears, plums, strawberries, oranges…you know the drill.

We put up some balloons shaped like caterpillars and called it a day.

Between their birthdays and then Christmas a few days later, we had a toy avalanche over here.

Related: See the before shots of these rooms and how they looked in September, shortly after we moved in

I wanted to show you our playroom now. Our playroom is intended to be a dining room in this house, but we don’t care. We dine in the eat-in kitchen. We love the placement of their playroom because it’s right off the kitchen and office.

playroom view from office

I determined some other things I wanted to add to this room and put them on their Christmas wish list. Some doting grandparents helped finish the playroom. That’s a cheaper way to do it (for the parents) — tell the grandparents what you want and if they get those things, cool! If not, no harm.

The floor puzzle mat is great because it provides a cushy surface that they can play with and take apart, but also it keeps the floor a bit warmer. This version is thicker than others I’ve seen.

I wasn’t sure if the kids would play with the town landscape floor rug or if it would just be a rug, but they play with it quite a bit and push cars around to the little stores and houses.

I bought the play kitchen from a mom in my local mom’s group.

The car/train table is particularly cool because it has hills and roads to push trains and matchbox cars around, but it also comes with a heavy-duty lid. Pop that thing on and you have a surface for coloring, stacking blocks, whatever. (pictured both ways)

The 3×3 organizer came from Target and we bought it before Johnny was born. We have it anchored to the wall in case someone ever tries to climb it. My kids aren’t climbers, but we like to have playdates and I want others to be safe here, too.

The 3-drawer blue plastic organizer holds the wooden train pieces, wooden alphabet blocks, and small toys.

We keep their board books and small toys in the cubbies. The drawers hold cars, plastic animals, balls, etc. We have a brown cube on the floor behind the train table that holds stuffed animals.

I had a plastic tote, but the lid went missing. The tote then became perfect for holding their large cardboard blocks.

They have a few toys in their bedrooms, but we keep most of the toys downstairs since that’s where we are most of the day.

office with computer desk and glider

Our office is in the adjacent room and there is a set of French doors that we sometimes close.

The desk came from craigslist for $50. The computer was a refurbished model from eBay (just the tower…the monitor came from Walmart). Messy desk, I know. That’s me.

The curtains came with the house (we included that in our offer), but these were originally hung in the family room. I switched them with plain brown ones because I thought it matched our rooms better. The windows were the same size, so it worked out.

office view 2 with glider and bookcase

The end table you see came from craigslist. We have two of them, actually, and the other is in the family room. Below is our printer which is wirelessly connected. The cherry wood chair was my great-grandmother’s.

Our awesome glider and ottoman was a Christmas present from Shane’s parents. See — put stuff on your Christmas list and let generous family decorate your house :).

All we need now is a small area rug to anchor the room, and I think we’ll be done in there. This stuff is fun!

Disclosure: I linked to some items mentioned here and used my Amazon affiliate link.


Jan 24 2012

12 ways lemons can save you money

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Note: The Clumsy Coquette and I are swapping blogs today. She has a guest post below, and I’m posting on her site about ways to stay warm this winter

Hello, I’m the Clumsy Coquette. I’m a 20-something aspiring author that just finished graduate school and is trying to take the world by storm. I have a live-in boyfriend and we have two furbabies: Penelope our cat and Daisy our dog. I blog about a variety of topics, including : frugal living tips, recipes, life stories, beauty tips, giveaways, and product reviews.

Lemon (photo Chug)

It wasn’t long ago that I started cutting back my spending so I could enjoy other things in life and pay off some debt. Since the recession started I personally have been faced with a lot of financial decisions and budget limitations. My job has conducted a few rounds of layoffs, I haven’t been given a raise in years, and the prices of basically everything have gone up consistently. Not only did I cut my grocery budget significantly by couponing, I also started using other products in different ways.

Around my house, you will always find a lot of lemons. That’s because lemons are pretty inexpensive and they have a ton of uses. I use lemons a lot more than probably the average person. Not only do lemons have health benefits, they are a great addition to your frugal lifestyle. Here are 12 ways you can incorporate lemons into every day use:

1. Cleaning Copper.
One way to clean copper-bottomed pots is to squeeze lemon juice into a container and mix with salt. All you have to do is use a cloth to scrub the pot until the tarnish comes off. Or you can just cut a lemon in half, apply salt and scrub that way.

2. Vinegar Deodorizer.
Do you clean with vinegar? Hate the smell? Squeeze some lemon juice into your cleaner and not only will it help enhance the cleaning, it will also dilute the smell of vinegar.

3. Garbage Disposal Clean-Up.
If you have some funky odors coming from the garbage disposal used the shell or a juiced lemon or just the lemon rinds in your disposal. It won’t hurt the disposal, and it will help clear up the odor.

4. Soil enhancer.
If you are a gardener or have plants in the house, adding a lemon shell or rind to the soil is a great way to improve the quality. If your soil needs more acid, this is a cheap and easy way to get it.

5. Bleaching.
Did you know that lemon is a natural bleaching agent? If you put some lemon juice on the stains of your white linens and allow them to sun dry, the stain will disappear.

6. Cutting Board Clear-up
Is your cutting board stained or not completely clean? Cut a lemon in half and use it to clean a plastic or wood cutting board. Do you have dried-on food or red berry stains? Add coarse salt beforehand and then use lemon on it.

7. Natural Highlights.
If you are a fan of the sun and those summer blonde highlights, use lemon juice in your shampoo to help enhance those natural highlights.

8. Soften Brown Sugar.
Does your brown sugar get hard between baking escapades? If so, you can add a little lemon peel to the container and it will soften the brown sugar up.

9. Ant Problem?
A lot of insects are repelled by D-Limonen which is found naturally found in lemons. Use lemon juice on window and door thresholds. Don’t forget those holes and cracks too. If you can, leave peels in the thresholds.

10. Remove Faucet Limescale.
If your faucets are covered in limescale, take a lemon and rub it on the faucet. You can also use the inside of the lemon to hard water remove stains and soap residue. This can be used on porcelain too.

11. Soothe Sore Throats.
Mix lemon juice, honey, and warm tea together and drink before bed. You can also use honey, lemon juice and whiskey to soothe your throat.

12. Soften Dry Elbows.
Cut lemon in half and sprinkle with baking soda. Rub lemon on elbows for several minutes. Rinse, dry, and add lotion.



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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