Simply put, I’m cheap. I love to ‘beat the system’ and make things at home. I love re-purposing things and giving old furniture new life with a splash of paint. I love saving money.
I grew up in a very self-sufficient home. We had a huge garden each year, we lived within our means, and my mom cooked from scratch. I can still smell Monday mornings with fresh bread just out of the oven.
My mom spearheaded the do-it-yourself attitude in our house. She encouraged creative play for us. I remember my sisters and I making a doll house from two cardboard apple boxes glued together, adding leftover paneling from our living room, carpet from our bedroom, and making all the doll house furnishings from stuff around our home. It began to be a part of me, to make things from scratch.
My husband and I had a very DIY wedding. My sister made our cake. We arranged our own flowers. We made our own decorations. The bridesmaids made their own dresses. My friend did the photography. And we were happy with simple. That was the perfect kick-off to my decidedly DIY life.
As a new wife to a man building his business (he’s a farrier), I don’t have a ton of extra money to spend. Making our dollar stretch has become almost an obsession of mine. Seriously, if you were to go shopping with me, you would have to wait for me to debate before I put nearly everything in my cart. Getting me to spend money is like squeezing blood from a turnip.
I’m so bad that when my sister visited us once, she remarked, “You are some of the cheapest people I know! But in a cool way!”
I took that as a compliment! I guess it’s a good passion to have.
Here are a few projects I’ve done lately…
Chairs: I took our old, mismatched dining room chairs, cleaned and sanded them, and painted them with some high-gloss paint. They look so fresh and new, and it cost me about $12! Now they almost match; at least they look chic-mismatched. Or so I tell myself.
Felt Flowers: They’re knockoffs of some flowers I found on Etsy (for like $8 each!). I found the tutorial online and made these. They seriously only take about 10 minutes each to make and they’re so cute! I attached bobby pins to them, but you could also make a felt backing for them and hot glue them to elastic headbands. They make cute gifts for nearly nothing.
Foaming Soap. I make this by filling an empty foaming soap bottle 1/3 with shampoo, 2/3 with water. Then, I shake it up gently to mix the two together. Now you have homemade foaming soap! You can also use body wash or liquid hand soap instead of shampoo. (It might not turn out quite as well if you don’t have amazingly orange counter-tops like I do! ;))
Re-fried Beans: I used to buy canned re-fried beans, but found that I could save money and our waistlines (store-bought refried beans have added fat) by making our own. I just cook up pinto beans, adding water, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. I mash them all together and I’m done! They’re yummy and super-healthy.
Essential Oil Counter-top Wash: I make this by filling a small spray bottle with water, leaving about two inches at the top. Add about two tablespoons of soap and about 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice. (I use grapefruit essential oil, because it smells so fresh!) This saves not only money, but also reduces the waste I’d make by buying all those plastic cleaner bottles!
It is my hope that I can save my family money and improve our health by making things at home. It excites me to find projects that I can do — like making the counter-top wash — that not only save money and plastic bottles, but also are gentler and safer than harsh chemicals. It’s wonderful that I am a stay-at-home mom and can apply my passion directly to my “workplace”!