Jul 22, 2013

DIY Wedding Bouquets

Jul
22
2013
Monday

DIY Wedding Bouquet - it's so easy!!


Have I ever told y’all that Ryan and I planned our entire wedding in just 3 weeks?

We were both still in college and we had to plan our wedding around school semesters. Our original plan was to get married the next summer (summer of 2001) but we decided that we didn’t want to wait until then and so our only option was to get married between the last summer session and when the fall semester started.

It was a CRAZY three weeks but we definitely saved a ton of money by not being able to plan everything out to the tiniest detail. And there is absolutely nothing that I regret about not having all of the latest and greatest “must-have” wedding items.

I was able to find a florist who could get us on the schedule at the last minute, but I only went that direction because it didn’t even cross my mind to use fake flowers instead of real ones! I didn’t think that fake flowers would look anywhere as nice as the real thing.

But then a week before we got married we went to the wedding of two of our closest friends and the bride had made all of her bouquets out of fake flowers. And they were BEAUTIFUL! They looked like real flowers, felt like real flowers, and were much much less expensive than real flowers.

Weddings are expensive enough. Food, flowers, the gown, the venue, the clothing, the decorations… everything adds up, so every little bit of cutting costs can help with that final total.

Yes, real flowers look nice, but they will only last for that day and you have the added care & expense of having to make sure they stay a good temperature until after the wedding and don’t get wilted and overheated. It ends up being pretty expensive for just a single day’s worth of flowers.

BUT, bouquets made with faux flowers not only will look great, but will last a lifetime – AND they are much less expensive than real flowers!

Before I saw the faux flowers at our friends’ wedding, I totally would’ve rejected the idea of fake flowers. So if you are a little hesitant to use them, just at least walk through the faux flower aisle at your local craft store and see the options. There are some excellent selections that look and even feel like real flowers!

If you are interested in making flower arrangements for your wedding, or a friend or family member’s wedding, then check out these great instructions from Merissa at Little House Living!

DIY Wedding Bouquets With Faux Flowers


DIY Wedding Bouquet - it's so easy!!

To pick the right flowers for your homemade wedding bouquets, make sure to find colors that will match your décor and bridesmaid dresses. Pick at least 2 different styles of flowers that complement each other, take flowers with you around the aisles until you find the right ones for your bouquet.

If you are having trouble…remember that Daisies are good flowers to balance out a stronger flower, such as a rose or a lily. Then find some smaller flowers, similar to Baby’s Breath that match your bouquet. These are a filler flower so you don’t need too much of them, just enough to add a little pop of color.

You will also need the follow items to put your homemade wedding bouquets together:

  • Floral Tape
  • Fabric Ribbon
  • Wire Cutting Scissors

If you are making bouquets for both bridesmaids and the bride, make sure you have a few extra flowers for the brides bouquet so you can make it a little larger than the bridesmaids’ bouquets.

Once your have your flowers picked out and you’ve brought them home, put them together how you think you want them to look, then hold them in your hands to figure out how long you need to cut the stems (always buy long stem faux flowers so you will be able to hold them together, shorted stems may not fit in). After you determine the length they need to be, use the wire cutting scissors to cut them to the correct length.

Re-arrange your bouquet so the flowers are arranged how you want them to be, then use the floral tape to wrap around all the stems and hold everything together. Make sure to wrap it as tightly as possible.

After you’ve finished this step, you can use the fabric ribbon to wrap around the base of the bouquet to have something a little bit nicer and prettier to hold. You can cut the ends of the ribbon off right at the bottom or you can leave the ends a little longer to let some ribbon hang down below the bouquet. You may need to use a dot of hot glue at the bottom of the ribbon to make sure it stays in place.

DIY Wedding Bouquet - it's so easy!!

Using this method you can make all the flowers for your wedding! You can even make the boutonnieres for the men, just cut the stems very short and use few flowers (usually just a single large flower and a few pieces of Baby’s Breath.)

If you buy faux flowers at full price, they can sometimes end up costing just as much as real flowers, but most hobby and craft stores will offer half price sales on their faux flowers (and ribbons too!), so make sure to wait and watch for those to get the best prices on your wedding flowers.

Also, be sure to check out the current craft store coupons for Jo-Ann’s, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Hancock Fabrics!

Are you planning on making any of your own homemade wedding décor (or for those of you who are already married, did you make your own wedding decor?)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Jun 24, 2013

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies With Apple Cider Vinegar And Dish Soap

Jun
24
2013
Monday

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies

Does anyone else hate fruit flies as much as I do?

I have tried a few different methods over the years to try to get rid of them, but a couple of years ago I heard about a new method (new to me) from some friends of ours using apple cider vinegar and dish soap!

Since the ACV/dish soap method is much easier than the paper funnel method that I had settled on in the past, I decided to try it.  When the flies get bad, I put out a bowl of apple cider vinegar and pour some dish soap in (it just needs a few drops in it) before I head to bed then then when I wake up in the morning it looks like the picture above!!

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I’d love to hear from you guys on this topic! What do you use to get rid of fruit flies?

If you like natural and chemical-free posts, then check out the ones below!

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Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
May 22, 2013

Planning A Staycation In Dallas, Texas!

May
22
2013
Wednesday

With the price of gas continuing to rise this year, many families are looking for fun and inexpensive things to do closer to home instead of spending an arm and a leg on gas.

If you have a limited vacation budget this year, don’t fret!  Myself and a ton of other bloggers are posting fun STAYCATION IDEAS in our areas!

The whole point of a family vacation is to have fun together, right?  You can still have fun together and not spend over half of your vacation budget on gas!!

If you are planning a Staycation in the Dallas area, there is a TON to do.  A. TON.

Here are several Staycation ideas for the DALLAS area:

WATERPARKS

Splash Kingdom in Canton – A family-friendly waterpark whose mission is to “Glorify God while providing a safe and fun recreation experience for families”
Wet Zone in Rowlett – {$10.50 for adults}
Surf & Swim in Garland – {Adults $6, children $5}
Bahama Beach Waterpark in Dallas – {$15 for over 48″ tall, $11 for under 48″ tall}
Hawaiian Falls in Garland – {$23.99 for adults, $16.99 for guest under 48″)
City Splash Parks – Harry Myers Park in Rockwall, The Harbor in Rockwall, and Forney Community Park all have Splash Parks! {FREE!}

OUTDOOR FUN

Blueberry Hill Farm in Edom – Pick your own blueberries and pay only for what you pick! They also have a great store with Preserves, Blueberries’n Cream Pies, Blueberry muffins, Blueberry Frozen yogurt, and Blueberry Lemonade!
Dallas Arboretum – enjoy a variety of flowers all year round at the Arboretum!
Ham Peach Orchard east of Terrell – Enjoy fresh picked peaches and blackberries and amazing peach ice cream. You can pick your own blackberries, but the peaches are already picked.
WIRED Zip Line and Challenge Course in Canton – WIRED is a unique zip line challenge course combining thrills, safety, easy access, and the beauty of rural Texas terrain. Our course is located on twenty acres of rolling meadow along a meandering creek.
Lake Ray Hubbard – Lots of info here for rentals & lodging
Lake Tawakoni – Lake Tawakoni is still a virtually undiscovered lake in Texas. It is clean and un-crowded, its size making it ideal for recreational water sports & fishing.
Belo Gardens – a fun family park in the heart of Downtown Dallas
Klyde Warren Park – The 5.2-acre deck park is an urban green space built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets in downtown Dallas. You can find a Performance Pavilion where regular concerts are held, walking trails, a dog park, a children’s park, and a games area.

SHOPPING

First Monday Trade Days in Canton – Held the weekend BEFORE the first Monday of the month, thousands of vendors from across the country turn this friendly East Texas community into a shopper’s paradise where you can find rare antiques and collectibles, furniture, fine home decor, arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, tools, produce, and much more.
The Harbor in Rockwall – The Harbor is one of our favorite places to go in the Dallas area! They have great restaurants right on the lake, a splash park, and live music on most weekends.
Northpark Mall – The kids will love the courtyard in the middle of he mall with lots of green space to run!  There’s also a fun water area inside the mall (right in front of Williams Sonoma) with ducks and turtles!
The Galleria – Our kids love going to the Galleria.  They recently updated their playground on the 3rd floor right in front of Nordstom’s, and they have a nice ice skating rink in the middle of the mall on the ground floor.  If you have younger girls in your family then you might want to make a lunch stop at the American Girl doll store too!
Firewheel Shopping Center in Firewheel - a fun outdoor mall right off of the George Bush Tollroad close to Garland and Sasche.
Antique Stores in Forney - Forney is a hidden gem for antique shoppers!  Just take Hwy 80 east out of Dallas and you’ll hit a huge line of antique shops!

ANIMALS

The Dallas Zoo – Be sure to bring swimsuits for the kids because they have a GREAT water area in the kids’ section!
Fish Hatchery in Athens
– {$5.50 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 4-12}
Texas Discovery Gardens – Butterfly House!
East Texas Gators and Wildlife Park – Live Alligators from hatchlings to over 13 feet . The alligator enclosures have been designed to be as close to their natural habitat as possible. They have rocked walkways, an air-conditioned Welcome Center, Bounce House, Concession/Grill, Mister fans, covered Pavilions with picnic tables and shade.

MUSEUMS

Dallas Museum of Art
The Perot Museum
Blackwell House Museum in Canton
Heritage Park Museum in Edgewood

FAMILY-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT

Shenaniganz in Rockwall – Bowling, Go-Kartz, Lazer Tag, Arcade, Rock Climbing, Billiards & Shuffleboard {Pay per activity, or $99 for an unlimited ALL-summer pass}
Rockwall Concert By The Lake – Thursday night concert series during the summer at The Harbor in Rockwall, TX {FREE}
Geocaching – Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. {FREE}
Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine – the prices do tend to be pretty high in the summer (close to $250 per night), but since you’re saving on airfare by staying in the area, why not splurge a little?  Being able to take a little break in the hotel room after a morning at the waterpark sure is nice.  This one is a perfect place for kids of all ages!
Clear Springs Scuba Park
Official Paintball Games of Texas, Inc. in Forney – See page for pricing options.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you know of any other great things to do in Dallas then please leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Apr 22, 2013

5 Easy Ways to Save on Kids Clothes!

Apr
22
2013
Monday

5 easy ways to save on kids' clothes!


Kids clothes can take a sizable chunk of your budget.  Luckily, it is one area you can also save on in a big way!  By keeping a sharp eye and thinking ahead, you’ll save yourself a bundle with just a few simple tips.

1.  Buy Out of Season

You can hit the jackpot during clearance sales!  At the end of the winter clothing season, you can get winter coats for half off or more!  Small children are pretty predictable with clothing sizes so snatch up all the end of the season deals for them so you can save money and have your clothing shopping done in advance.  Older kids can be a bit trickier, but buying key items like short sleeve shirts, boots, coats, and winter gear can still really help with your clothing budget.

Be sure to watch the Surviving The Stores Facebook page where I share the awesome online clearance sales that I find!

2. Second Hand Clothing Stores

You might want check out the second hand stores and even Goodwill before taking a trip to the mall.  You may be surprised what you’ll find!  This type of shopping takes active looking and patience to sort through all of the racks, and sometimes even huge boxes, of clothes.  But a little extra looking is worth saving up to 90% (or sometimes more) on clothes for your kids.  If you aren’t interested in buying then clean out your kid’s closet and sell back gently used items to an online resell store like thredUP or a brick & mortar store like Once Upon A Child or Plato’s Closet.

My friend Jen is a MASTER at finding great sales at Goodwill and other thrift stores!  If you need some tips, I highly recommend checking out her Frugal Fashion section!

3.  Garage Sales

I’m always shocked at what people decide to sell in a garage sale!  I have found some steals (as in under $1!) on dresses for my girls that would normally be $50 or more.    With a little searching, you can find holiday dresses, school uniforms, boots, and play clothes at garage sales.  Your area newspaper is always the first place to check, but you can also find some garage sale listings on Craigslist.

Here in Dallas there are several groups on Facebook where people can join to list individual items that they have for sale.  I’ve heard from many friends who only use these groups to find things that they need (and to sell things) instead of going to traditional garage sales.

4.  Hand Me Downs

Your favorite clothing may not grow with your child but you can see it again on your next one!  Just remember to save anything that has elastic in an air-conditioned area or the elastic might not work when you pull it out again.

One idea that I think is just brilliant is to have a clothing swap between friends.  Everyone brings their used clothing items that are in good condition and you are able to take as many items as you bring.  Let us know if you have tried this out with your friends!

5.  Shop Local Consignment Sales

These are a different from #2 above because they only come around a few times every year (ours here in Dallas comes once before the fall season and once before the spring/summer seasons).

You can find some incredible bargains at consignment sales, and usually the quality and prices are excellent.

My personal favorite sale is the Just Between Friends sale here in Dallas, but you can find consignment sales in your area by typing in “kids consignment sale” + “your city” into Google.

You can read more about consignment sales in our post on 6 Tips For Consignment Sale Success!

What are you favorite ways to save on kids clothing?

 

 

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Apr 14, 2013

Homemade Air Freshener – Clean The Air Without Harsh Chemicals!

Apr
14
2013
Sunday

DIY Air Freshener Essential Oils



I’ve mentioned before how sensitive my sinuses are to chemical-based cleaners, and while my reaction to typical store-bought air fresheners is a little milder, they are still not something that I want sprayed in my home.

Many have stopped using air fresheners because of the chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, p-dichlorobenzene and aerosol pollutants that are used.

Here are a few ideas for freshening the smell of your home without the harsh chemicals:

Essential Oils

Young-Living-Oils
I really think that I’m going to end up having essential oils in every natural remedy and chemical-free post from now on.  I’m finding SO many uses for my oils (lavender oil for burns and diaper rash, melaleuca for dry scalp, melrose oil for skin issues, thieves oil for infections) and I’ve loved adding them in various combinations to my homemade cleaners.

I also use essential oils in a diffuser to spread the smell throughout the house.  Diffusers can be pretty expensive, but you actually get one for an amazing price with an essential oils starter kit. You can get a diffuser that retails for $98, and a set of essential oils that retails for $161, for just $150 with this deal here!

Coffee Grounds

Coffee Grounds
Even those who object to drinking coffee typically agree that the aroma is amazing (there might be those of you out there who hate the smell of coffee, but I haven’t met you yet!)  You may use fresh or used coffee grounds but if you chose used make sure to dry them out first.  Place coffee grounds in breathable fabric and tie with a string or ribbon then place in key areas of your home to keep away odors.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda
Baking soda is definitely one of the least expensive ways to eliminate odors in your home.  Of course it’s useful in the fridge and pantry to getting rid of food smells there, but you can put an open container of baking soda in any room of the house that gets overrun with odors (i.e. the laundry room!)  I like to sprinkle it on the carpet before I vacuum too (along with some essential oils mixed in).  You may place it in a smaller container but be careful to position it away from pets since it can pose serious health risks in high amounts.

House Plants

African Violet
House plants are wonderful for fighting against toxic air!  In fact, an unassuming house plant can rid your home of 87% of toxic air in a day.  The African Violet and Spider Plant are tough on air toxicity and easy to maintain.

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Do you have any other chemical-free ways to freshen the air of your home?  I’d love to hear them!

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Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Mar 6, 2013

5 Uses For Soap Nuts {Shampoo, Body Wash, Toothpaste, Laundry Detergent, & Cleaning!}

Mar
6
2013
Wednesday

How to use soap nuts to make laundry detergent, household cleaner, shampoo, body wash, and even toothpaste!

Have you heard of soap nuts?  I hadn’t until a couple of years ago.

There’s a genus of plants called Sapindus that creates a fruit that can be used as soap!  And HAS been used as soap much much longer than Dial, Softsoap, and Tide have been around.

And guess what?  These little fruit pods called Soapnuts are MUCH less expensive than any of those name brands anyway!  And by “MUCH less expensive”, I really mean MUCH less expensive!

They are about 10¢ each, and just 10 of them will make enough soap nut liquid to last you a while!  Then you can use that soap nut liquid for all kinds of things like shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, laundry detergent, & cleaning!

Here’s how to make the soap nut liquid:

Put about 10 soap nuts in a small cloth drawstring bag and tie it closed (typically a drawstring bag comes with your order of soap nuts).  Then put the bag into 8 cups of boiling water.  Boil for around 20-30 minutes until it makes a semi-thick liquid (it should be a cloudy yellowish-brown color).

And that’s it.  Yep.  Now you have soap nut liquid… for only around $1.

So what can you do with this soap nut liquid?

Shampoo

Have you priced organic shampoo lately?? $25 per bottle or MORE?

Here’s how I make organic shampoo for A LOT less!

I like to add to my plain soap nut liquid a little bit of lavender essential oil (you only need ONE drop since the oil I linked to is so strong), lemon juice or one drop of lemon oil (to keep it fresh), and a little bit of homemade vanilla extract. :)

Then use just a LITTLE bit of it on your hair.  If your hair is especially dirty, you can also use some baking soda mixed with the soap nut liquid.

Follow it with either apple cider vinegar (which is super helpful if you have any dandruff issues), or a little bit of coconut oil.

Body Wash

Same recipe mixture as above, just use it like you would any other body wash. Again, you don’t need much, and while it won’t foam up like regular body wash, it does the job!

I would also recommend using coconut oil or olive oil to re-moisturize your skin afterwards.

Toothpaste

You can forgo the lavender oil for this one.  Just mix the following together right before you brush:

1/8 tsp. soap nut liquid
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 drop peppermint oil

I’m happy with just that recipe above, but some people prefer to sweeten it with a little Xylitol, or add a little bit of vegetable glycerin.  I’d prefer to keep my costs low and use as few ingredients as possible.

Laundry Detergent

Use the same mixture that you made for the Shampoo or Body Wash and use a couple of Tablespoons instead of your regular laundry detergent!  Your clothes come out super soft, but if you want to add some white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle, then that also acts as a fabric softener too.

And I love it that my clothes smell like lavender vanilla!

NOTE: You still will need to pretreat your clothes for any stains!  And, from what I’ve heard from others, soap nuts do not work very well for cloth diapering.

Household Cleaning

Take a couple of Tablespoons of your soap nut liquid and add it to a spray bottle along with water.  You can also put a little bit of vinegar in there too to help kill bacteria.  Then use it on your countertops & table like you would any other cleaner!

Mix it with some baking soda to use while cleaning the bathroom, or any other area that needs some extra cleaning power.

You can buy great quality soap nuts over at Nutz4Soap!

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Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."