Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Getting Rid of That Bloated and Sluggish Feeling with a Cleansing Diet

I have been feeling old, sluggish and fat for the past few months. I have reached an age where I can't eat whatever I want any more (sadly) and still stay in good shape. I don't mind the weight gain so much as the constant bloated feeling! It makes me feel lethargic and slow and OLD! I hate that.

So, I am doing a colon cleanse this week. A friend suggested the Fat Flush diet and did some reading about it, but it seemed too strict for me. I was going to do the 7-Days Sugar Free again, but I was dreading it - I did it in December '09 and and had good results, but I remember eating a lot of yucky cabbage soups and things and to do it properly you really need to have a juicer, which I don't. I just don't feel I have the willpower to do that right now. I came across another one that sounded easier, so I am doing that one.

It is Dr. Group's 7-Day Oxygen Colon Cleanse. Basically it involves grouping foods (no meat with milk, etc.) and having no caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, sugar, etc. It is going pretty well no far - this is the third day. I have already gotten rid of my bloat-y feeling, but I have a lot less energy than I am used to. And I am not a high energy person to begin with! I have decided that some people just have more energy than others, and I am not one of them. (sigh) 

I am expecting to feel more energetic in a couple of days, though. I know it is just my body getting rid of toxins.

I am nibbling on raw nuts and seeds right now and dreaming of Cheez-Its! Haha!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Listing at Holly&Sage Teal & Khaki Mother-of-Pearl Necklace

I sell more button bracelets and Mommy Necklaces than anything in my shop, but I love making other jewelry.

This is my newest piece just listed in my shop yesterday. I made a necklace like this for myself a while back, and I have enjoyed it so much I decided to make one available to my customers. It is made with mother-of-pearl beads in a variety of shapes in pretty, neutral spring colors.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Great Wedding Favors on a Budget

When you're planning your wedding, one of the things you'll want to remember to budget for are the wedding favors. These are the souvenirs that your guests will take home from your wedding as a thank you for participating in your special day. So, this is not an area where you want to scrimp. You hope that your guests will enjoy your gift to them, and see it as a token of your appreciation. However, you don't want to blow your budget on buying wedding favors either. Here are some ideas for great wedding favors on a budget and homemade wedding favors.

Bulk gifts. Items like candy and potpourri can make lovely wedding favors. You can buy them pre-packaged from bridal shops, but it is smarter to buy them in bulk and package them yourself. Instead of shopping at an expensive wedding store, visit a grocery or hobby shop for discount pricing. To create your own gift wrapped packages, wrap bundles of the bulk item in tulle and tie with a ribbon.

Make homemade treats. For a personal touch, make homemade treats to give to your guests. Special cookies are always welcome. If you make homemade candy, that can also be a nice gift. When you wrap them up, add a handwritten note thanking your guests for sharing your day with you. It will be an extra special touch that will make your favour all the more meaningful.

Candles and votives. Candles and votives can be beautiful reminders of your wedding day. Look for candles in the same colors as your wedding decorations. Almost everyone enjoys candles so it is a practical gift as well. These are also very affordable when purchased at discount or bulk stores.

Bubbles. For a fun twist and lots of laughs, give each guest a small bottle of bubbles as a thank you. Tie a note with the date of your wedding around the neck of the bottle. These will provide entertainment during the reception too, as most guests won't wait until they get home to blow their bubbles.

Make Music. Another idea is to burn a CD of music to commemorate your special day and give a copy to each guest. Be sure to follow copyright laws. Whenever they play your CD, your guests will think of you.
Flowers and Plants. If you're having a spring or summer wedding, consider giving out packets of seeds as a wedding favor. These will be a long-lasting fragrant reminder of your nuptials. Alternatively, you can give out tiny potted plants for a spring garden. These are very inexpensive, and if you buy in bulk, you may be able to get further discounts.

Scented soaps. These are another item you might want to consider giving out as a favor. They have an attractive scent, and often come in pretty shapes and wrappings. They are another practical gift that is pretty to look at as well.

Check Frugal Living Now for more homemade wedding favors and lots more ways to save on all aspects of your wedding!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beautiful and Chic Wedding Invitations on a Budget

When you're planning a wedding on a budget you still want everything to be beautiful and chic. Wedding invitations can be pricey, which cuts into the cash you've set aside for other items on your bridal shopping list.

Fortunately, with a little creativity, it is possible to send chic wedding invitations to your friends and family, without spending a lot of money on them. Here are some cheap, but still very attractive, wedding invitation ideas you can use.

Make your own homemade wedding invitations. Card-making is a very popular hobby and you can buy everything you need at a local craft shop or online. You can buy beautiful card stock and embellishments like ribbonsand bows. Your invitations will do justice do your big day, while still keeping expenses low.You can handwrite your special message inside with a calligraphy pen, or silver or gold ink, or ask a friend with lovely handwriting to do that for you.

Free printable invitations. Some websites are even offering free printable wedding invitations.They aren't that pretty on their own, but if you have a professional printer print them for you on quality paper, and add a pretty embellishment, these can be very chic as well.

Make your own printable invitations. If you have some design talent, or have a friend who does,and access to a design program, you can create your own printable invitations. All you will have is the printing cost when you take them to a professional printers and have them printed on quality card stock. And you will have a card that reflects your personality, and shares your special message. You can even purchase a kit to help you make your own printable wedding invitations.

Use a different printing technique. If you decide to purchase your wedding invitations from a stationery or wedding store instead of making your own, there are still some easy ways to cut down the cost without losing any of the appeal. Engraved wedding invitations are very beautiful but expensive. Instead of having yours engraved, have your invitations printed using a process called thermography. This will give your invitations the same raised look as engraving, but for less money.

The RSVP cards. It's not only the wedding invitation you'll be paying for, but the card used to RSVP to your wedding as well. One way to cut back on the expense of the RSVP cards is to use pretty postcards instead.

Shop online. Instead of just shopping in your local stationery shops, remember to shop online as well. You may find some great discounts on quality and chic wedding invitations. If you shop online, make sure you read all the store's policies, so you aren't caught off guard by something unexpected.

Shop at discount places. Don't restrict yourself to shopping at the expensive stationery stores. You might be able to find a great deal on your wedding invitations at a store like Kinko's or Staples.

Your wedding invitations don't have to be expensive to be beautiful and chic. By following these suggestions, you will be able to send out the lovely invitations you dreamed of, while keeping your budget in tact.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Help Us Name Our New Baby!

Our new kitten - what should we name her?
Lucky us, we are getting a new kitten next week! 

She is a beautiful Ragdoll kitten from Soulmates Ragdolls. They have been calling her Mona, but hubby says we have to change it because our 5-month old puppy's name is Molly, and he thinks the two names are too similar. 

So,I am trying to come up with the perfect name for her and I want your help. Please leave a comment with your name idea. On Saturday I will compile the names I like the best and have a "run off" contest for the best kitty name.

Molly, our Rottweiler puppy

What is Organic Gardening and How to Get Started

Organic Gardening is essentially gardening the way nature would. Too often non-organic gardeners attempt to force a garden to comply with their wishes, contaminate the soil, vegetables and water table with pesticides and fertilizers, and spend a hefty amount for expensive soil treatments and exotic or hybrid plants. All of these might result in a pretty garden and big produce, but at a dangerous price.

Organic Gardening, on the other hand, is a basic method of gardening that was used for thousands of years prior to the invention of chemical treatments. It protects people and animals from the dangers of chemicals leeched into drinking water and sprayed on vegetables, it reuses kitchen and yard waste, and it maintains the natural diversity of native wildlife.

The keys to organic gardening include staying away from chemical pesticides and fertilizer, using organic compost, and gardening with plants suited to your local environment.

The basics steps to start organic gardening are:

Create Natural Compost. Building a compost heap is a basic step that you can take at any time. It basically turns your kitchen and yard waste into a pile of nutrient rich soil which you can separate out and spread around your garden plants.

You will need to start with some loose dirt, a bunch of worms, grass clipping, fall leaves, and kitchen waste. Simply pile all of these together and using a shovel or other turning device, mix the items up on a regular basis. Do not add meat or animal fat to the pile. Speed up the process by making sure large leaves and vegetables are chopped into smaller pieces first.

Use Natural Pest Control. There are natural ways to avoid the damage caused by garden pests. The solutions will vary based upon the problems you are encountering. Some natural solutions include the introduction of insects that prey upon insect pests, complete removal of roots of plant pests, and using fencing or certain edging plants to repel animal pests.

Since the problems and solutions vary greatly by location, soil type, amount of sun or shade, and types of plants, you will need to research your specific situation for the right type of pest control. A great place to start is or your state agricultural outreach agency.

Buy Natural Fertilizer. The compost you are creating is one of the best fertilizers you can use on your plants. If you haven’t had time to develop any compost yet, you can purchase quality organic fertilizers. Many of these are specific to the type of plants you are growing. There is also the natural fertilizer that has been used for hundreds of years — manure. It is not a pleasant smelling fertilizer, and can increase the presence of mosquitos and flies, but it will help certainly help your garden grow if used appropriately.

Plant Native Plants. Plants that grow wild in your area are considered native plants. These have been a part of your local eco-system longer than people, they have not been brought from another region, and they will grow happily with little or no assistance.

These often are the wildflowers you see growing in unplowed fields or along the sides of country roads. They will reproduce themselves every year, either from seed or from root. Native plants are also suited to the local wildlife, and often are the food or shelter of choice for native birds and butterflies.
Time and effort are just about all that is needed to begin gardening organically. Making the switch will save you money and increase the health and environmental factors of your garden.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Highlight Your Tan with a Sexy Ankle Bracelet!

Summer is just around the corner and young women everywhere are heading to the tanning bed or the beach to get a summer tan. Show off that gorgeous tan and your new bikini with a flirty ankle bracelet!

I have listed three new anklets in my shop this week and will be adding more in the next few weeks. Stop by and take a look!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cheap and Cheerful Wedding Venues to Explore

When planning a wedding, one of the first things you need to think about is where you want to get married. As you check around, you may be surprised to see the high cost of the most popular wedding venues - especially during peak wedding months! With prices like these, you might be wondering if you'll be able to have the wedding you have been dreaming of without blowing your budget. 

Try taking a more creative approach and explore these cheap wedding venues; you will find that there are several cheerful and cheap wedding venues to choose from and one of them is sure to suit your dream wedding!

Need more frugal wedding ideas?

You might also like:
Setting a Realistic Wedding Budget

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Setting a Realistic Wedding Budget

You have dreamed about your wedding day since you were a child. You might have envisioned fairy tale dresses, plush limousines, hundreds of your closest friends and family members, and dancing until dawn. After all, this is your special day and you want to give your new life the best start you can.

Now that it's approaching, reality is setting in. You know you deserve all of your dreams, but perhaps you're not sure just how you'll pay for them. You could max out your credit cards, but starting your married life deeply in debt doesn't sound so romantic. You need to set a budget.

Setting a realistic wedding budget doesn't mean you need to forget the fairy tale. It simply means you need to prioritize and plan how you will spend your money. That way you will be able to afford the things that are most important to you. And you will be able to start your married life without unnecessary, burdensome debt.

Begin setting your budget by setting your priorities. You have a vision of what you want your wedding to look like. But it's time to take a more realistic approach. Decide which of the items you want to include are must haves, which are optional, and which would just be nice to have, but you could do without if you needed to.

Determine how much you can spend. How much money do you have saved for your wedding? How much will you be able to save before the big day? It's important to be honest about how much you really can afford. That will help you avoid a lot of problems and conflicts as you plan your wedding, and ensure that you don't create additional stress by running out of money too soon.

Decide how much you will spend on each area. Now that you know your priorities, and you know how much you have to spend, you can decide how much money you will spend on each area of your wedding. One way to organize this is to create a notebook sheet for each expense, such as dress, flowers, invitations, and write down your budget for that area.

Budget for the unexpected. As carefully as you plan, you may still have some unexpected expenses. If you overspend in one area, remember you'll have to make up for it by spending less on something else.

Be creative. There are many ways you can cut down on the high cost of a beautiful wedding. Perhaps you can make homemade wedding invitations so you can spend more money on your wedding dress. Do you have a friend who loves to cook for a crowd? Maybe she would like to help prepare the wedding feast. You can even rent your wedding dress, if you need to cut down in that area and spend more on others.

Setting a realistic wedding budget doesn't mean you can't have the wedding you always dreamed of. It is only a means of making it affordable so you can enjoy your day, without worrying about how much it cost.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Get the Holly&Sage News!

My first newsletter is going out tomorrow! If you still haven't signed up for it, it's not too late!   

Why do you want it?  

Once a month (no more - I don't want to wear out my welcome!) you will get:
  • news of what is going on at my Etsy shops, Holly&Sage and Restashable
  • insights into my creative process and my studio
  • tutorials for recycling old stuff into awesome handmade things (like button bracelets and felted wool coasters) 
  • news of shop sales and promotional coupon codes for discounts or free shipping on orders

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Buttons Galore!

I have acquired a lot of great new buttons and am now in the process of listing many new button bracelets at Holly&Sage

These bracelets are a unique finishing touch for casual outfits - light-weight, and fun to wear! They are even washable!

In celebration of Spring, I have made bracelets in pretty spring colors: sweet pastels and natural earth and flower tones.

Want to make a button bracelet yourself?

If you are feeling creative and have some unused buttons laying around in a drawer somewhere (who doesnt!) learn how to make your very own button bracelet here! (If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

DIY Handmade Envelopes From Recycled Paper

When my Etsy shop started generating sales, I wanted to find a unique and clever way to package my items.

I  also wanted to include an invoice, business card, and a jewelry care  sheet. I thought that a sweet little envelope would be just the ticket  for enclosing these things.

I considered (for about a  minute) looking for some on Etsy  to buy, and then I stopped myself,  thinking: "Wait a minute! I can  make envelopes! Why would I buy them  from someone else!!??"

So I did.

At first I used some scrapbook paper that I had laying around (I don't scrapbook - that is one more expensive and time-consuming hobby I don't need to start!!)

Then I started noticing beautiful pictures in  catalogs and magazines that would make pretty envelopes, so I started using those, too.

That led me to the realization that pages from old children's books and road atlases would make wonderful envelopes, too, so I made some of those!

This concept of using something that would otherwise be thrown away or sit in an attic box getting dusty is a common theme in my life. I have always prided myself on my quirky creativeness. I have more ideas of things to repurpose lots of things at Frugal Living Now.

You can make these, too - it is not very hard if you know how.

All you need is:

  • paper - something pretty with a nice 'heft' to it (not too thin); at least 8 x 11 inches 
  • scissors
  • permanent glue stick
  • marker or pen
  • an envelope to use as a pattern

    • open your pattern envelope at the seams carefully
    • lay it on a piece of paper and trace around it with the pen or marker
    • cut out your envelope
    • fold it up and glue it
    • let it dry thoroughly before using 

     That's it! You have transformed what was once waste into a cute envelope! 

    Here are some ideas for using it:
    • Send a note to a friend that hasn't heard from you in a while
    • Use your computer to make a birthday card for a family member and send it in your handmade envelope
    • Put a sweet little note in your kid's lunchbox to brighten his/her day
    • Write a love note to your sweetheart and leave it in his briefcase/car/underwear drawer

    Have fun!!

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Leftovers Recipe: Introducing The Leftovers Gourmet!!

    The last thing I need is another project, I know this, but...

    I just can't help myself - I love coming up with mouth-watering ways to use leftovers!  And of course I  want to share them. This is the age of sharing our lives on the internet, you know? So I am going to share them here. I am not going to promise on a specific schedule, but I am going to aim for weekly.

    My first recipe is stuffed peppers from leftover spaghetti sauce. I had about 2 cups of spaghetti sauce with meat left over from two days ago, and this is what I came up with for it:

    • 2 or 3 large bell peppers - green, red, orange or yellow (I used one each red, green and yellow)
    • 2 or more cups of spaghetti sauce, leftover or not
    • 1 cup cous cous or rice
    • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)
    Cook the cous cous or rice according to package directions. 

    Meanwhile, wash the peppers, cut them in half longways and remove the seeds and membrane. 

    Rub the peppers with olive oil (I pour a little oil in my hand and rub it all over the peppers with my hands), put them in an oiled baking dish, cover with foil and make at 350 for about 10 minutes until they are partially cooked.

    When the cous cous or rice is done, add the spaghetti sauce into the pan with it and mix them well. Let it remain on the stove until it is heated through, stirring occasionally. The sauce I used was chunky with lots of ground beef, tomatoes and carrots. You can use any kind, though.

    Take the peppers out of the oven and fill them with the sauce and cous cous mixture. Top each one with Parmesan cheese, if you like.

    Re-cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer to brown.

    Take them out and let them cook for 5 minutes or so before serving.

    Add salad and bread to make a scrumptious dinner!!

    (Dang! I forgot to take a picture of them! Well, next time!)

    I have lots more ideas for using leftovers at my site, Frugal Living Now. Check it out! 
    Or leave a comment about it here.

    You might also like:
    Quick and Easy Chicken Pasta Salad