Today, we have a guest post from my dear friend Rachel, from Supermom In The Making. She blogs about the adventures of making it work with two hands and three babies. Rachel is a mom to three children under the age of two, including 10-month-old twin girls. Sometimes I truly wonder how she does it all! Below, she clues you in on some of her ultra-thrifty DIY tips. Enjoy!
Hi. My name is Rachel, and I’m a DIY addict. Before I married my Husband I was hopelessly and utterly lazy. I took every shortcut I could in order to save myself the effort of “doing it myself”, even if it meant spending a couple of extra bucks in the process.
This is where I introduce you to my husband. He comes from generations of DIY addicts. While we dated, I would laugh about his stories of making soap, candles and homemade wine with his granny. I’d shake my head at his household “snacks” of homegrown vegetables that came fresh, canned and even pickled.
After we were married and started having kids, I finally opened up to the idea of being “thrifty”. My goal was to save money, but I have grown to really enjoy these past times. Compared to my original addictions like fast food, TV and shopping, my DIY hobbies are healthier, more active and a wonderful way to express myself without having to spend a fortune.
So, without further ado, my DIY list:
This is a little vague, but I just couldn’t pick one specific thing here. Soon after buying our first home, I quickly realized that shopping for things like bedspreads, tablecloths, wall decorations, centerpieces and curtains was going to cost an arm and a leg… and probably another arm for good measure. I decided that it was time for me to get down and dirty and get creative. Sewing, knitting, quilting and crocheting took some practice, but it was well, well worth the time invested once I get the hang of it. Do you know how much a single curtain panel costs? No? Check out the home décor section at Wal-Mart. You’ll drop dead on the spot. The same can be said for hats, scarves and mittens for kids. In place of those things, you could easily buy yourself a brand new sewing machine, knitting needles and a few crochet hooks to boot. Take that overpriced fabric products!
Once you perfect your skills you can not only utilize them to make curtains, but you can patch old clothes, create new clothes, make stuffed animals, make decorative pillows (once again, O.M.G.so overpriced), make blankets and anything else your little heart desires. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination! I have saved hundreds of dollars by doing this, and in the process managed to make something that completely projects my personality rather than buying a poor imitation. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s mine and its one-of-a-kind. The same can be said for those crazy expensive pictures and paintings you can buy at craft stores. Those same stores sell paint, paintbrushes and blank canvases. Catch my drift?
Out with the old, in with the old! Refurnishing and simple repairs on furniture and baby equipment that you buy second-hand can save you an incredible amount of money. I can’t say it’s that out of the ordinary, but it’s worth noting for those that turn their nose up at “used” equipment and clothes. Between thrift stores and garage sales it’s seriously a parent and/or homeowner’s dream! To date husband and I have gotten two cribs, a double stroller, a six chair kitchen table set, three beautifully functioning car seats, a pack-n-play, gates, toys, nearly brand new baby clothes and so somuch more. All were at a mere fraction of their original cost because of a couple of loose hinges or parts needing replacing. This is where the “refurnishing and simple repairs” comes in. Ta da!
With a little elbow grease and some love you can almost always bring something back to nearly perfect condition. You tell me if it’s worth the extra effort.
3. Hair cuts
This is one of the few DIY things I’ve been doing myself since before I met husband. I’ve been cutting and dying my own hair since eighth grade (with very few exceptions). I now regularly cut Husband’s hair as well as our three kids. I also have a number of friends that ask me to dye and cut their hair as well. This skill has definitely taken quite a bit of practice over the years, but it has become a really fun way to express myself… for free!
4. Home Brewing
Here’s one for the men. Home brewing has become something of an obsession for my husband. What started as a terrible soapy tasting beer on our first try has become some of my all-time favorite beers and wines. We literally have a beer/wine cellar for all of the different drinks we’ve made, ranging from beers like a Blood Orange Hefeweizen, an Oktoberfest or a Nut Brown Ale to Apple and Grape wine. All of it was made from scratch, and all of it is honestly better than most store brand beers and wines. I’ll be honest and say it’s kind of a long process from beginning to end, but it’s a fantastic hobby to get into. Check out your local home brewing store for more details. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s approx. $25 for ingredients for 5 gallons of beer? Cha-ching!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is our bread and butter. Gardening started as a fun past time and turned into so much more for me. The seeds are incredibly cheap, and you always get more vegetables than you know what to do with. You can easily have 20+ tomatoes per plant for the price of a bag of seeds. Over the past two years we’ve lived here I’ve planted head lettuce, leaf lettuce, broccoli, green beans, peas, zucchini, dill, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, [deep breath] cucumbers, onions, raspberry bushes, spinach, chives, cilantro, sweet basil and a few others. The vegetables were absolutely rich and delicious compared to store bought vegetables and I knew they didn’t have any preservatives or chemicals added. The best thing is that even if you don’t have a yard, you can still grow vegetables. Tomatoes and herbs have done well for me as potted plants.
When it was time to harvest, we picked, cleaned and stored the vegetables in a freezer and they lasted us most of the year. What we didn’t immediately eat or freeze, well, I learned that pickled vegetables and homemade jams really are quite the tasty household snack!
As a Mom, one of my favorite things about the garden is that I can puree a lot of the vegetables to feed to the kids once they were big enough to spoon feed. I knew for a fact the vegetables were organic. With so many preservatives, dyes and other chemicals going into food these days, it’s a comfort knowing exactly what’s going into their little bellies.