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saving money

Saving Money Creatively With Kids

One of the ‘not such a secret’ ways to saving money is first not spending it. The second half is actually taking the money you are not spending and putting it in an account someplace so that you aren’t just substituting ‘not spending’ on xxx for ‘spending on’ y. But some things are hard to give up, especially if you are in a married situation (with or without kids) and both halves of the couple are working full time outside the living unit. Life gets busy and then it gets really really easy to just call up the other person at 4:45 p.m. and say, “I forgot to take anything out; let’s go to …..” (more…)

A heel you can fix

Aunt Toby has written about shoes and the total unfairness of it all vis a vis men’s shoes vs. women’s shoes cost of shoes

But here is as good an example and demonstration of the unfairness of it. (more…)

Oh Sheet

The sheets supposedly chosen as being the finest (whatever that means – ‘best quality? Most comfy? Hardest wearing? No clue) in the world are supposedly made by Thomas Lee. They are 500 threat count pima cotton. best sheets They cost $239 regular/ $179 on special. That’s one fitted, one flat, and two pillowcases.

Now, it’s not that Aunt Toby and the DH are willing to sleep on burlap sacks. A good closely woven cotton (ok, perhaps with a bit of poly in it) sheet set is a joy to sleep on (more…)

Twill, Baby, Twill

Recently, I read on another blog that I frequent the author’s question about what sort of fabric he’d gone and bought to make himself a pair of pants. Male Pattern Boldness

He thought it might be ‘some sort of twill’. Several of us recognized immediately that what he had was not twill but I thought that perhaps a little bit of information on what twill is…and ain’t..might be useful.

The picture at the top is a twill (more…)

On Vinegar

(Ha – you thought I was going to go with a photo of bottles of vinegar or something, right? Fooled you. Photo courtesy of Casch52)
Vinegar comes from the Old French, “vin aigre”, meaning ‘sour wine’. Vinegar has the taste and the pH that it does because of the action of acetal bacteria which turns whatever carbohydrate there is in the liquid (and you can make vinegar out of the most amazing stuff out there – the list is almost endless and includes coconut milk and water, malt, any fruit known, and so on)in acetic acid. In the US, household vinegars are sold at 5% strength. This discussion is not about vinegar as a cooking ingredient. (more…)

DIY: Sometimes Saving $$ Means Doing What You Are Good At – Not Trying to Do What You Are NOT Good At

I truly, madly deeply love the DH. But I am not delusional. All marriages have their flash points; for some people it’s money. For other people it is sex. For still others it’s politics. For us…it’s 30 odd years of unfinished DIY house projects.

I finally came to the conclusion that no matter how much the DH truly WANTED to do rehab in the house (which needed it desperately – actually more desperately than even WE appreciated), he had ‘fear of screwing up’. So, he was great at starting…and abysmal at…continuing. Finishing was about as within his grasp as performing cold fusion on the kitchen table. The amount of money wasted on started projects was really bad. (more…)

Bleeding Money

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long line of guest posts. In case y’all didn’t know, I’ve been helping Aunt Toby (well, she’s just Mom to me) with the back-end of the blog since its inception, and I’m super excited to be able to contribute to the content now! So hello from me! xo Carolyn

If you aren’t already, you may want to sit down to read this, because the things I’m about to discuss are considered unpleasant by a lot of people. Physical discomfort and even sickness, throwing money away, and contributing to larger landfills – all of these things can and do happen when you use… (more…)

Sewing: Worth it…more or less

Given the plethora (today’s ‘big’ word) of opportunities to buy what looks like inexpensive (i.e., cheap and cheaply made, of cheap goods) clothing, Aunt Toby would like to ask the logical question: If I can go to Wal-get-ohl-H&M and buy a dress for $30.00, why bother sewing? Let’s just say that you are one of the lucky people(few though they may be) who actually can go to the rack, pull off a size whatever, put it on, look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Dayam, I look hot!” Well, let’s look at the major reasons people are STILL sewing clothing in A.D. 2009: creative outlet and fit and selection issues.

Creative Outlet. This is the ‘my eyes are bigger than my stomach’ situation – sometimes it is merely that people see clothing that they could not possibly afford to buy and feel their skills are such that they can reproduce the look for less. At other times, it is a case of people falling in love with fabric (whoever dies with the biggest stash wins) and are inspired from the fabric up. Another factor is actually practical: If you are someone who actually looks on a wardrobe as something that can be freshened up with the addition of certain more ‘on trend’ items (and by that I mean items in certain colors or prints or shapes) and you can’t find them in the stores (a situation your Aunty finds herself in many many times) in your size, or in a style that flatters you, sewing is an option. If you are the sort of person who would be wearing high end looks AND also have the skills to pull this off AND you value your time at $0.00, then you can definitely save money. As for stash-a-holics – as someone who not only has built her own ‘fabric edifice’ but inherited a stash from her mother and great aunties, Aunt Toby has to say, “I feel your pain, Sisters.” (more…)

Home Sewing: Is it worth it?

Once upon a time, many moons ago, your Aunty used to teach workshops on spinning. This was a time of Birkenstocks and flowers in the hair and dirt under the fingernails and livestock out in the barn that needed to get sheared once a year. And once in a workshop, I was approached by a very earnest couple who asked me this: “I want to make a sweater – what sort of sheep should I get?” And I asked what their goal was. If it was to get sweaters, then they should go to a store and get sweaters. If it was to learn how to knit, then go to a yarn store, get some yarn and get lessons and learn to knit a sweater. If it was fiber work, they could buy fleeces and learn how to clean and dye them and get them carded for spinning into yarn. But NONE of any of those things, I explained, was as expensive or time consuming as buying, raising, and caring for a sheep. And this has a bit of connection to a topic that is near and dear to my heart, which is: Is it worth it to make your own clothing or clothing for family members? This is a two-part post which talks about this in terms of this issue. (more…)

Money Saving Tip: Dress for the Weather

Today, I was reading a sewing blog that I am very fond of (Miss Celie’s Pants) and there was a posting about a dress which just so happened to be the dress that Mrs. Biden wore at the Inauguration on January 20th. Now, the reason it hit me is that at the time, when I saw the photographs of Jill Biden and Michelle Obama, I noticed one very striking thing: Mrs. Biden, even in her big red wool coat, looked really really cold. See: Number 19 is Jill Biden; Number 26 is Michelle Obama

Please notice what the two ladies, out in some extremely cold and windy weather, are wearing and how they look. It was 27 that day and with the wind, the wind chill factor was 7 degrees F. Except for a couple of breaks, they were exposed to the weather for hours.

Mrs. Biden is wearing a wool coat and high boots. And underneath that coat is the dress that Cidell wrote about in the link above. This dress, as you will notice from the picture in the link, has little tiny sleeves. Yes, it is made from wool (but it is men’s wool suiting – not exactly a heavy fabric at all) and considering the price, is probably lined, but undoubtedly with the standard polyester or acetate dress lining which is thin, slippery, and frankly, not warm at all. Mrs. Biden is also a very thin person; she is not exactly carrying around her own “insulation.”

Mrs. Obama’s outfit has frankly become quite famous – for its color, its cut, the bow on the front and so on. What is interesting about it, though, is what it is made of:
Michelle Obama’s Dress

“Ms. Toledo, who has been making clothes in New York for 25 years, said the coat and dress were made of Swiss wool lace, backed with netting for warmth and lined in French silk.”


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