An Open Letter To the People In the Fashion Industry Who Design Clothes For Grown Women

Dear Fashion People,

Today I went to the mall to buy a shirt.  Just a shirt.  Something girly and springy to put with my khaki capris, something dressier than the solid knit shirts that serve as my spring and summer uniform.

I looked and I looked and I have finally reached a breaking point on an issue that has bugged me for some time:

The camisole.

Everything requires a cami, seemingly by design.  It's a vast layering conspiracy, and the salesgirls are in on it.  I come out of the dressing room wearing a shirt that plunges down to there.  "Is it supposed to be this low-cut?" I ask.

"Oh," she says, "just throw a cami under it."

So I try on something else.  The bodice has a lot of eyelet-ish trim on it, and eyelet has holes.  Holes, all over my abdomen, including one gaping open over my most impressive stretch mark.

"Oh," salesgirl says, "just throw a cami under it."

Round three.  It looks like a safe-enough white shirt, until I put it on and realize it's almost completely sheer.  Bridal-veil sheer.

"Oh," salesgirl says, (all together now) "just throw a cami under it."

But here's the deal:  I don't want to throw a cami under it.  I don't want two shirts.  I want one shirt.  My reasons are excellent:

1.  I'm cheap and I'm out of closet space.  A cami is one more thing to buy, launder, store and generally deal with.  Let's keep it simple.

2.  I live in Oklahoma.  In the summer, it is hot.  Melt-your-skin-off hot.  Even-the-pool-water-is-too-warm hot.  What's-wrong-with-the-A/C hot.  If I have to endure that heat wearing two layers of clothing, I might be (*shudder*) tempted to remove the top layer, which brings me to point three…

3.  Ever since I hit puberty, I have devoted a signficant amount of effort to making sure that my bra strap doesn't show.  And even if your cami matches your bra, your bra strap shows.  I don't like that.  I suspect you would recommend I find a cami with a built-in bra, to which I respond that such bras were not created for women who have nursed four children, and that's all I have to say about that.

4.  I'm a middle-aged woman.  I'm not overweight, but still, I have a general layer of padding around my mid-section, and it is a cause of consternation.  The last thing I want to do is add another layer of squishiness.  Your cami fabric may be thin, but if I wanted to add two milimeters of thickness to my abdomen, I'd much rather do it at Krispy Kreme.

Perhaps you will say that you have introduced the cami as a "stylish accessory" which provides "fashionable layering options".

I don't believe you.

I think you want to sell two shirts.

And I'd march right up to Madison Avenue and tell you this in person, except I'm stuck in the dressing room in a see-through blouse. 



Sometimes Having a Blog Is Handy…

…like, when you need to make a biggish purchase and don't know where to start.

My digital camera is dead as a doornail.  It's not an overly expensive one, and it served me well.  But I know the drill, because I've done it before–if I take it to the camera place, they will tell me it's more economical to replace it than to repair it.  (Since when did our electronic devices become disposable?  But that's a post for another day…)

With soccer season, birthday season, and end-of-school season just around the corner, I know I can't make it very long without a camera.  I'm not a photo buff; I know digital SLRs are wonderful, but I just can't justify the expense.  Here's what I'm looking for:

Never mind, I have no idea what I'm looking for, because I don't possess the terminology to know what I'm looking for.  Here's a revolutionary thought:  I want to press the little button and get good pictures.  I don't want it to suck my bank account dry.  I want it to have decent zoom for soccer pictures.  I don't want an overly long delay when I press the little button (I hate that about digital cameras).  And as long as I'm making my wish list, I'd like for it to be able to stop by and pick up milk on the way home and establish peace in the Middle East.

If you have bought a lower-to-mid-priced digital camera in the last few months, I would love to know what you bought, and what you think.  I know I could just Google it for reviews, but I always encounter words like "aperture" and "contrast ratio", while my photographic vocabulary is limited to "that little silver button thingy." 

Help me, Internet.  You're my only hope. 

The Scoop on CPSIA

Like many of you, I'm a big fan of supporting creative small business owners, such as those found on Etsy and elsewhere on the web.  The "cottage industry" environment fostered by the web inspires me, especially as I see creative women (many of them moms) making brilliant, artistic items in their home, and giving me–the consumer–a chance to buy something special and handmade.

So it's been with increasing alarm that I've followed the story around CPSIA.  (Never heard of it? Bear with me just a minute.)  This is a law that goes into effect in only a few short weeks, and it has the potential to greatly inhibit the productivity of crafty small business owners that make products for children. 

I do not own a business making children's items, so my knowledge on the subject has been fairly limited.  But I wanted to understand it better–and to be able to tell you about it–so I decided to ask for some help.  My real-life friend Heather is the owner of Blessed Nest, a small but growing company that makes organic nursing pillows.  This law has thrust Heather into the position of reluctant activist, as she's had to discern what this law means for her company (newspaper columnist Susanne Tobias even interviewed Heather on the subject here).  

Thankfully, Heather agreed to sit down and answer a few questions, and you may be surprised to learn just how far-reaching this new law is.  Heather's answers to my questions are in italics, below:

What exactly is CPSIA?

CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The way it was summarized for the U.S. Senate vote was: “A bill to establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children's products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

Terrific, it’s about time, read no further… right?  Well, it’s sort of their jobs to read the whole thing and think about it before they “yea” or “nay”.  See how your favorite Senator voted here and Congressman/woman here.

How will it affect Etsy shop owners and other small crafty businesses?

According to the actual scope and wording of this bill (H.R.4040), as of Feb. 10, 2009, all products made and/or marketed to children under the age of 12 will have to comply with mandatory lead and phthalates testing for each component of each product they sell or face felony charges and hefty fines. Tests have to be conducted by labs that have been approved by the Commission, and range in price from several hundred to several thousand dollars. (For one small business’s estimate based on actual quotes from approved labs, see Happy Panda’s blog). Even if you use the same materials for the 30 different things that you sell, every component of all 30 have to be individually tested, regardless of whether those materials have passed testing by other agencies or other manufacturers. For example, we use Harmony Art fabrics, which conform to the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) . Even if we had them tested by the lower standards of the CPSIA for our pillows, a mom who sells hand-made slings out of the very same fabrics would have to have her products tested as well.

In a nutshell, if you knit booties (or sew burp cloths, or make bibs, or create hair bows) and sell them on Etsy (or at your church craft fair or to your neighbor down the street) you will be required to have each size and style of each item you sell tested, even if they are made from the same material. Let's say, for example, you knit booties and sell them. Even though yarn is not known to inherently contain lead or phthalates, and even if your yarn has been certified organic by GOTS standards, which exceed CPSIA standards by more than 300%, your yarn would have to be tested.  And if you opt to have the testing done, next time you get the same yarn from the same manufacturer in a different dye lot, everything has to be re-tested.

There are some less expensive tests available through “unapproved” sources, but they will only be good until August, 2009.  So, it either means that if you sell without certification you are breaking the law or that you better have a rich uncle.

Will any other businesses be affected?  What about consignment stores and/or eBay?

The law applies to all products, even used items. This means that unless the stores (including eBay sellers and private parties) do the testing themselves, on Feb. 11 all of those products are to be treated as hazardous waste and destroyed. In a vague memo issued this week by the CPSA “resellers” may be excluded from certification, but these proposals also say that businesses owners will still face the same penalties if an item they sold ends up containing lead. It not only omits a specific definition of what a “reseller” is, it also fails to explain whether it applies to their entire inventory or just used items. So it exposes the store owner to the risk of either being shut down because of an item that may or may not have actually been purchased from them, but also to the nuts that could sue them if they claimed they were injured by the product. (Ouch, McDonald’s… I spilled my coffee!)  It also is a very effective tool for competitors to use against businesses who they know can’t comply, a practice that has already been used by some of the big guys.

Something else to consider is that Canada is apparently watching to see what happens with this legislation, as they structure their own policies for safety standards. Many other countries could follow suit, making handmade children’s products a thing of the past, globally!

How will it affect consumers?

If the only products on the market are those made by companies who can afford to comply with the CPSIA rules (especially on such short notice), consumers will have very few options. Taking away handmade and even used items will create a market that is little more than mass-produced, mostly foreign-made children’s products. It also sets a precedent which allows one government agency to determine what is in the best interest of “public safety”, without having to take other factors into account.

One other big issue is that the jury is still out whether books, including text books and library books will be exempt. If the law isn’t changed, libraries will have two options: “Either they take all the children’s books off the shelves, or they ban children from the library.”  (according to Emily Sheketoff, associate executive director of the American Library Association.

To play devil’s advocate for a minute, I suspect that advocates of this law support it in the interest of keeping kids safe.  What’s your response to that?

The irony is that most of the people who will be hurt by this are those of us who have been trying to get the government to pass safety laws all along. We all want our kids to be safe, and in fact many of our businesses were started as a way of being proactive in providing safe alternatives to the mass-produced, unregulated products on the market now. I doubt that many people want this law to be vetoed altogether, just for it to be reasonable. We want it to focus on areas where it will do the most good without forcing everyone else to break the law or live in fear of being shut down and hauled off to prison. There are many intelligent recommendations that have been made that would not only protect children but also would allow small businesses to operate and let parents make informed choices for what they buy.

Is it inevitable? Can something be changed?  If so, what?

Well, not to sound too dramatic… but I believe that inevitability is the enemy of liberty. Without going into too much detail here (feel free to read my soapbox letter here), I think that this is much deeper than whether I can call my pillows “nursing pillows” or not. Fortunately, this is still America, and our voices do matter. This bill was pushed through under the radar at an unusually fast pace, but our representatives are still responsible for representing us. You can join the efforts of the Handmade Toy Alliance here, sign a petition here, and vote to bring this issue before the President-Elect on Inauguration Day here.

Once you get into this it can become very emotional, confusing and overwhelming, especially if you are a small business trying to make ends meet (insert raised hand here).  We have made a page on our blog where we are trying to stream-line the most up-to-date information, links, articles and support that we find. We’re also looking into the technology to put a hug on it, but that could be years off and would be regulated anyway.  In the meantime, at least we know we’re all in it together!

I expect that many of you are very knowledgeable about this issue as well.  If you know of additional resources, please leave them in the comments section below.  In addition to contacting your congressional representatives, you might consider alerting local, state or even national media to this story that will affect so many hard-working women.

If You’re My Sister-In-Law, Don’t Read This

Lee Ann, I’m serious, stop reading now.

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Last chance.

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Thank you.

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A couple of years ago, my family started a meaningful and sensible tradition.  The adults draw names and give to only that one person. (Not kids, of course.  Everyone gives to the kids.  They make out like bandits.)  This means we can put a little more thought (or effort, or money, if you’re so inclined), and it’s considerably less stressful (or expensive) to shop for one person instead of the whole crew.

The hardest person to shop for is my dad.  This is mostly because a couple of years ago my brother gave him a gift certificate for a Razorback tattoo, a gift so spectacular that no other gift will ever measure up. 

The easiest name–the one we all fight for–is my mom. She is the most gracious person I know.  I can promise you that there has never been an easier-to-please soul walk this planet.  She loves (LOVES! LOVES!) anything.  It is impossible to buy her a gift that she won’t enjoy.  One year my dad visited a craft show and bought her a free-standing, hand-carved cow. Let me repeat that, in case you missed it:  he bought her a free-standing, hand-carved cow.  It had purple ears and hooves, and it was holding a sign that said (I swear I’m not making this up) "Kitchen Closed: This Heifer Is Gone."

To this day, I have a sneaky suspicion that he gave her that as a test, to see if she would love (LOVE! LOVE!) it. 

She did.

Anyway, I drew my sister-in-law Lee Ann’s name this year.  She’s my brother’s wife, and she is a remarkable woman.  She’s an artist, in the truest sense of the word–the kind of person who can casually glance at a pile of raw supplies and they suddenly transform into something spectacular.  As an artist, she appreciates things that are lovely, sentimental, useful, handmade and eco-friendly.  This makes her easy to shop for.  Hello, Etsy.

I’ve been having so much putting things together for her, I couldn’t bring myself to stop at just one gift.  I’m not spending very much, but I’m getting things that I know she’ll love.  For starters, I got her a piece at The Vintage Pearl with her kids’ names on it.  Second, she loves going to the coffee shop, so I got her a handmade Coffee Cuff from Bon*Bons (these are so stinkin’ cute, and they’re only $7.  Score!)

But I really wanted to make something for her myself, because I know that’s the type of thing that means something to her.  Anyway, I’ve been completely swamped lately, and I have a long and fruitful history of dealing with being swamped by starting craft projects.  Perfectly logical.

So I’ve decided to make Lee Ann some hankies, handmade with flannel, and embroidered with her initials.  That seems so personal, and she will appreciate that it’s much more eco-friendly than wads of Kleenex.  It’s softer on the nose, too.  I even did a little investigating about buying some organic flannel. 

HOLY SHMOKES that stuff is expensive.  Anyway, I felt a little intellectually dishonest shopping for organic stuff, being, as I am, a fan of Velveeta.

Instead, I’m going with with pesticide-and-preservative-laden-but-gosh-it’s-cute-and-cheap stuff I found at JoAnn’s.  Look how great this fabric is (one side will be the brown floral print; the other side, with her initials, will be the ivory):


I’m planning to construct these identically to my burp cloth pattern, except they will square (probably about 10" by 10").   

I realize it’s really lame to write a blog post about a craft you’re going to do but haven’t quite accomplished yet, but I thought it was a fun idea some of you crafty girls might be be interested in tackling yourself.  I know myself, and I know I will likely still be working on these December 24th, which wouldn’t leave a lot of time for the sharing of the information, would it?

So, if I promise to keep my lips absolutely sealed, will you tell me what is the most meaningful gift you’re giving this year?

Works For Me: Simple Gift Wrapping Tips

I really love gift wrapping.  I love it so much that I wish I could do it for a living.  In fact, shortly after college, I had a brief (and mostly unsuccessful) stint in retail, which was so lovely–I handled all their gift wrapping for the store.  Unfortunately, I also bungled the cash register and never could figure out sales tax and broke out in hives when I had to make change.  You know, math.  But with the scotch tape?  I was a wizard.

Here are a few fun (and cheap) gift-wrapping tips I’ve learned over the years, especially for Christmas, when you’re gift-wrapping on a large scale.

Consider using only one style of wrapping paper.  This is mostly a matter of personal preference, but I think it’s lovely when all the presents under the tree match.  Plus, it makes it easier to piece together leftover scraps when you get to the end of the roll.

The dollar store is your friend.  Those stores where everything costs a dollar are great places to buy wrapping paper, though if hyper-frugality is your thing, you might want to check the amount of paper you’re getting for your money (i.e., it would make more sense to pay $3 for 75 sq. feet of paper than to pay $1 for 10 sq. feet.  Thank you, math.)

Use address labels.  I slip a sheet of plain white address labels into my printer, and I type up one page with every label I expect to need this season.  For a custom look, you can use a pretty font, colors, and even clip art, and, best of all, all your labeling is done.  Slip the sheet of labels into the place you keep your wrapping supplies to use all season.

Let kids wrap the gifts they give.  This requires a little deep-breathing if you tend to be particular about how your gifts look, but it’s a satisfying thing for a kid to be involved the process.  Especially if the gift is from them.  (And, incidentally, the dollar store is another excellent place for kids to buy gifts for siblings.)

Make your own paper!  One year I wrapped everything in plain brown shipping paper and let the kids go crazy with stickers and markers all over the packages.  It’s a fun activity for them.

Tulle is cheap, easy and pretty.  Tulle–you know, the type of fabric netting you might see on a bridal veil–is incredibly cheap.  I bought some last week, on sale at the fabric store, for only 75 cents a yard.  Cut a strip about 6-8 inches wide, and tie up your gift with that, instead of some other kind of ribbon.  I wrapped a gift yesterday to demonstrate:


Have a marathon wrapping session.  I know plenty of people who gift wrap throughout the month, as they go.  True, this helps keep your gifts concealed, if nosy little creatures go snooping.  But I find it to be a real handful to be constantly lugging the gift wrap supplies in and out.  I hide my gifts, and then I have one big gift-wrapping session (with the door locked!) when I’m finished with my shopping.  If you are inclined to wrap as you go, though…

…consider keeping all your supplies in one place.  Find an out-of-the-way corner and stash everything together: scissors, tape, ribbon, paper, labels, pens, etc.

What am I forgetting?  Have you stumbled across any helpful giftwrapping tips over the years?

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Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you’d like to share?  I’d love for you to join us!  First timers, check out the guidelines herePlease note that the links will close at 8 pm CST tonight, in order to keep away the spammers!

Was your link deleted?  Click here.

1. Amy @ Finer Things (Brand New… Again)
2. Blue Castle (Kitchen Organization)
3. Audra Krell (Best gift)
4. Amy @ Experience Imagination (FREE food & ice cream)
5. HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEAS-Kelly the Kitchen Kop
6. we are THAT family (Handmade Gifts)
7. PASS THE TORCH (easy cookie exchange)
8. Memarie Lane (The Frugal Stocking)
9. Many Little Blessing (Great Gift to Buy Cheap for Next Christmas)
10. aunt mommy (these feet are made for crockin)
11. Raise Them Up (Free Treat for Boys)
12. Kat (How To Take A Yearly Retreat)
13. Amanda (Gift idea and GIVEAWAY!)
14. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers (Eat Your Christmas Tree)
15. My Twenty Cents Keeps Moving (free dvd)
16. Smockity Frocks (Coffee Creamers-Holiday Flavors!)
17. Kirsty@Momedy (Cure for Winter Blues/SAD)
18. Col @ gigablonde (stepping outside your comfort zone)
19. Scott (Turning On Tree Lights w/foot)
20. A Simple Walk (keeping track of christmas gifts)
21. Betty Beguiles (“Modest-ize” Your Dresses)
22. Buzzings of a Queen Bee! (Christmas Party Hostess Gifts!)
23. Happy To Be At Home (fewer gifts more thought=nicer Christmas)
24. Here\’s The Diehl (Slow Down Already)
25. “Cents”able Momma (Celebrating CHRISTmas)
26. mzzterry (EZ Christmas KIDS Craft Ideas)
27. Rainy @ More Gravy (Christmas tree tip)
28. The Happy Housewife (Christmas shopping for kids)
29. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet-A Guide to Natural Sweeteners
30. Joy @ Five J\’s (No Health Insurance)
31. The Diaper Diaries (gift ideas)
32. Lorie @ Be Different Act Normal (Christmas Decorations)
33. Michele @ Frugal Granola (Simple Christmas Gifts)
34. Sources of Joy (3 ingredient cookies)
35. Julie From Inmates
36. Land of Lovings (Save at Christmas!)
37. What About Mom (Tips for Featherbrains)
38. Sandwiched (Banana Bread)
39. Queen mother blog (Coupon codes)
40. Liza\’s Eyeview (Easy Gingerbreadhouse)
41. anhelpmeet(star wars coupon)
42. Sarah (Best ever Christmas cookies!)
43. flexible dreams (time out hack)
44. Amy (Cheap & F
REE Gift Tags)

45. BusyMom (saving money at the holidays)
46. Julie Stiles Mills (Husband who enjoyes cooking xmas dinner!)
47. Tamara (eating out with children)
48. Janelle (Mystery Shopping)
49. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet-Sprouting Grains
50. Judy (yogurt container snowman craft)
51. Julie From Inmates (Ice Cream Sandwich Cake)
52. e-Mom (How to Make English Trifle)
53. Cooking During Stolen Moments (merging Christmas food traditions)
54. Chief Family Officer (removing little sticky hairs)
55. Lisa@BlessedwithGrace( a good book to read)
56. Mother Hen (free music)
57. Shelley (cutting brownies without crumble!)
58. Jolanthe (learning US Geography)
59. Lynn@queenofthecastlerecipes (instant hot spiced cider)
60. Julie @ TheClarkChronicles {How to make a classy (EASY!) photo keepsake ornament
61. An Iowa Mom – CHORES – The Value Of A Ticket
62. Bailey\’s Leaf (Christmas Cookie Recipes)
63. Sliding Down The Stairs (keep ribbon from fraying)
64. At A Hen\’s Pace (pantyhose snow boots)
65. Joelle (what to do if you get sick)
66. Rachel (alternatives to gift tags)
67. Tammy-PinkStinx (Laundry)
68. mom2my9 (How to do Laundry With 9 Kids!)
69. MemeGRL (vertical tree lights)
70. Stretch Mark Mama (Homemade Hot Chocolate – Allergen Free)
71. Carolina Mama
72. marina
73. Christine (boys and their undies)
74. Christmas Shopping List Planner Budget Spreadsheet: Printable & Download
75. Rita @ My Precious Pennies (Foil that stove!)
76. TrentTribe (Monkey Bread)
77. Marina (FREE music downloads)
78. Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (cake decorating tips)
79. Nicole Ross (The Gift Shelf)
80. Tortilla Roll-ups (Angie)
81. Monica @ DailyDwelling (celebrating advent)
82. Sarah (Phone Interviews)
83. Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking (natural bleach alternatives)
84. Sprittibee
85. Green Baby Guide (Best Etsy Gifts)
86. Moms by Heart (RISING OUT OF A RUT)
87. Stephanie (FIrst WFMW)
88. Lizzie (easy ornaments~repost from last year)
89. JanMary, N Ireland (baubles & bells)
90. Amy @ Living Locurto ( Gift Ideas)
91. FishMama @ LifeasMOM (Ice Cubes & Xmas Trees!)
92. Mishmash Maggie (mixer attachments)
93. se7en (Kids Christmas Craft Party)
94. Jen (Photo Editing Tips)
95. Smellyann (GoodSearch)
96. One Mom (holiday tablecloth)
97. Fiddledeedee (Awesome Organizing Tip)
98. kitchendoor (a Christmas plan)
99. Stop the Ride (jerky)
100. Sandy Toes(Garage Sales)
101. LIly On the Fly (Big Griddle)
102. brandiandboys (lunch notes basket)
103. Thia(recording meds)
104. Tara @ Feels like Home (teething fix)
105. Susan – Personal Hymns for your Kids
106. Fairion – Ghiardelli
107. Sarah (displaying kids art)
108. Annie Jones (kids\’ clothing)
109. LooneyJen(Awesome Exersaucer Alternative)
110. emily (remember blog ideas)
111. Christa (Custom Digital Christmas Cards)
112. Denise (Advent Calendar & Chocolate)
113. Karen@Living Well on Less (monthly planning)
114. exhale. return to center. (getting a little messy!)
115. Christa (Salt Dough Ornaments)
116. Stacy (keeping littles busy)
117. Counting Sprinkles (How to read the Bible in three months)
118. Petersonclan (Scrapbooking the easy way)
119. Carol (Finding a little more time)
120. Camian Academy (401duk)
121. Amblin(Parenting with Intention)
122. jen (Christmas Cupcakes)
123. Sheila ~ To Love, Honor and Vacuum (FREE household organization charts!)
124. Frugal Carol – Home Made Gift Tags…
125. Kathy ~ Bona Vita (homeschool resource)
126. Ginny (passwords)
127. Trixie (Great Gift Idea: Fancy Soap Super Cheap)
128. Hadias (Homemade Freezer Omlettes)
129. Repurposed (Free Christmas Carol downloads)
130. Hadias (Organizing Coupons)
131. Traci @ The Sullivan Sitcom
132. Organizing Mommy (sand art brownies)
133. Julie (“GREEN” wrapping idea)
134. Katie (planning a holiday brunch)
135. Emily @ Little Home (how to eat oranges)
136. calina (Quitting Time)
137. Edi (Mittens from a sweater)
138. Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet (Great baking and Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints)
139. Lynn (easy peanut butter candy)
140. Sin for Joy-The perfect and easy combination of sweet and salty
141. Cyndi (sneaky Christmas delivery)
142. Amanda (foot mask)
143. Heather @ Not a DIY Life (ground beef help)
144. Nichole (getting up on time)
145. Julie at Elisharose (recycled from Antique Mommy\’s Carnival)
146. Candace (under the tree)
147. oh amanda (make a bow from gift wrap!)
148. Tonggu Momma (Simplify Christmas)
149. Leaving Excess (Battery Organization)
150. Michelle (date night tip)
151. impress your kids (jesse tree for preschoolers)
152. CaraM – The Household Helper (cooking spray)
153. Rachel (Canine Christmas Cookies!)
154. Sarah W. (10 fashion tips)
155. JessieLeigh(Taking An Accurate Temp)
156. Christy
157. Chic Critique (Last-Minute Gift Ideas)
158. Kaye (Artificial Trees Come to Life)
159. BB (Grocery list)
160. Elena (My domestic church) housebreaking a puppy and a toddler in the same week!
161. Homefront Mom – pay cash for gas
162. IfOnlyIHadSuperPowers (Rethinking Christmas)
163. Liisa -Mitten Liners
164. Peggie (sewing with a 2 yr old)
165. suzannah (cutting cable bills)
166. Susan (Scandalously Easy Meal Planning)
167. Having Fun at Home (Christmas presents idea)
168. Luanne @iwantmk ($Free0$10 gifts for teachers & such)
169. Brooke – gift swap
170. Donna @ The Frugal Mom Blog ( Free Holiday Project Downloads @
171. Melanie (Welcoming Guests)
172. uppervalleymom (kids party tip)
173. The Gluten-Free Homemaker (Christmas letters)
174. Bree @ Living a Fulfilling Life at Home
175. Lisa (Starlight~Christmas Eve~Cookie Mix recipe)
176. Thrifty Jinxy (Free Calendars for 2009)
177. Kristen @ frugal antics (edible decorations)
178. Cheri (Keep true meaning of Christmas)
179. Abbi (Making music)
180. Jill-gift solutions
181. Thrifty Jinxy (Corrected link!! – free calendars)
182. ilovemy5kids (EASY/Cheap on the go food for travels)
183. TexasTanya (Sample Spoon)
184. 5intow (freezer pack to go)
185. Carolina Mama (Gift Tips & Giveaway)
186. What\’s Cooking (homemade laundry detergent)
187. What\’s Cooking (using up leftovers)
188. Martia (Gift Tags)
189. Kara(something neat to do with Christmas cards you receive)
190. What\’s Cooking (cinnamon ornament recipe)
191. Jack\’s Mommy (Getting Your Avatar to Show in Comments)
192. Kristine (put a bag in it!)
193. Totallyscrappy (Entertaining Tip)
194. Amy (dumpling wrappers)
195. Rachel Anne (motivation!)
196. Jeni (Free DVD rental)
197. Vickie@PursuingSimplicity(Simplifying Gift Giving)
198. Jill @ MoneySavinDiva (giving back this holiday season)
199. Joanna @ Grace In The Home (Christmas Organizer Notebook)
200. Ryann (book list resolution)
201. LisaQ(traditions)
202. Miche @ Coordinated Chaos(staying organized)
203. Tidymom(Use your camera to decorate)
204. Keeslrmom (picky eaters)
205. Kirstin: (drawing names & extending the holiday)
206. Kendra (Editable 2009 Calendar)
207. Teal – Santa
Crackers for kids

208. just another day (EZ Christmas Breakfast)
210. Sarah Mae (Marriage is hard – Wisdom from Titus 2 Women)
211. What Moms Want To Know (Meal Planning Tip)
212. Wani ( cheap restaurant gift cards)
213. Michelle @ Saving Some Green (Universal Bisquick Pie)
214. Amy@GrowingLikeTrees: Jesse tree activities for preschoolers
215. Sing for Joy-The perfect and easy combination of sweet and salty
216. Kolfinnas Korner (ink refills)
217. Amanda (mom\’s plan-it calendar)
218. chanelireli(Count down to christmas)
219. My Best Cookie Baking Tips
220. Ginger (Annie\’s at it Again!)
221. Dawn (Snowman Soup Recipe)
222. Cheri (Collecting Christmas books)
223. View From The Glen (Safer Winter Travelling)
224. Sonshine(homemade pedialyte)
225. Melissa @ Miss K Cooks (Good Punctuation & Grammar!)
226. Working Mom (recipes on hand)
227. Kate\’s Kitchen: freezing garlic?
228. Cherilyn (shopping with kids)
229. $5 Dinners -“Perfect” Muffins
230. Ameda
231. Libby@Thrifty Victorian Home (Charlie Brown Christmas)
232. Miss Mommy (Crayon on the Wall…)
233. Garibay Soup (Christmas Traditions)
234. Saving Money Ideas (organize books)
236. Krisi – Smoothies
237. Diana/Ladybug Limited (a grass roots effort– please help!)
238. Janelle @ Now Play Happy (Homeschooling Christmas)
239. Jewel
240. Kat (Amazing FREE Christmas Music)
241. Jane Anne@Gravity of Motion (Holiday Planning)
242. Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart (Decorating Cookies with Little Hands)
243. Brandi (Fast, healty,kid friendly lunch)
244. Kara (Below Zero Projects)
245. Alisa-The Sweet Life- (just one pan)
246. Elizabeth Sue (Clean the Dish Sponge)
247. Heart at Home (Vegy Beef Soup)
248. Mrs Organic (A Plinko Christmas)
249. Reading Rosie (Recycling Christmas Cards)
250. Jaime (self serve snacks)
251. Beth – Holiday Shopping Help
252. Amyswandering (Elf Yourself)
253. Jenna (4 easy cleaning tips)
254. Julie @ Coupon Saving Family (Cleaning with Fuzzy Fingers)
255. Mrs. June @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home (Encouraging MOMS during the holidays)
256. Amy (Keepsake Handprint Ornament)
257. Dodge&Weave (rolling out dough again)
258. Paula (Wrapping Checklist)

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Dear Santa: My Knees Hurt

{Stay tuned to the end for a giveaway!}

I buy cheap shoes.  I always have.  In fact, I’ve always been a little smug about people who shell out big bucks for shoes, because I couldn’t imagine it was really worth it.

It’s easy to have ideals when your knee joints are, you know, 22 years old. 

But then your knee (and hip and ankle) joints start the downhill slide toward 40.  Suddenly climbing the stairs generates more popping than Orville Redenbacher, and you start to wonder if those quality-shoe people were on to something to begin with. 

Let’s just say I’m reconsidering my smug cheap-shoe buying. 

My husband has some KEEN shoes (these, in fact), and he swears they are all kinds of crazy comfortable.  My noisy knees and I suddenly have our sights set on these:


They’re clogs.  And Mary Janes.  Two of my favorite features in a shoe.  They also have a "metatomical footbed for personalized comfort".  I have no idea what that means.  But I think my knees would like it.

Just in time for Christmas, the KEEN people have offered to give one lucky reader any pair of shoes from their website, absolutely free.  Your pick.  For real.

To enter to win, all you have to do is visit their site, browse around the KEEN site, come back here, and leave a comment saying which pair you think you’d pick.

Oh, and it’s not a requirement, but if you want to, tell me your shoe-shopping philosophy.  Are super-frugal, or do you think that’s one item worth paying up for?

I’ll close down the comments on Tuesday morning, 12/16, and I’ll draw a random winner then.  You must have a valid U.S. mailing address to win. 

Good luck!

*The comments are now closed.*

To Cell Or Not To Cell

My second child desperately wants a cell phone for Christmas. 

He’s ten.  And he’s the most persuasive person I have ever met

He likes to play with my cell phone, typing out text messages to me without actually sending them.  Instead, he just walks over to me and holds the phone up to my face.  It reads, "What are we having for dinner?"

Dude.  I’m standing right here.  Please feel free to address me with the remarkable technological achievement called YOUR VOCAL CORDS.

The other day he observed aloud to me that "you know, I bet the best way I could convince you that I can handle a cell phone is to be really responsible about other stuff."  Then he proceeded to set the table, finish his homework, put away some laundry and help his sister with a project, all without being asked.

I thanked him heartily.  (And then I wondered how long I can milk this thing for all it’s worth.)

Hubs and I have been talking about the kids-with-cell-phones issue a lot lately, and he’s not a big fan of the idea.  He’s worried about the phone getting lost or over-used, and of course, he doesn’t want to receive any outlandish bills.  I agree. 

But I can also see a few positives about letting the two older kids have phones.  I like the idea of the boys having access to a phone when they’re away from me, for security reasons.  We could always buy a pre-paid plan, I’ve reasoned, so there would be no surprise bills.  We could find a bare-bones, inexpensive phone without Internet access.  The kids could help re-stock the minutes with their allowance

Most of all, I like the idea of the boys having some hands-on experience setting cell phone limits before they hit the teen years.  Managing a cell phone responsibly is a learned skill.  Learned skills require practice. 

That brings me back to the question I keep mulling over in my head: how young is too young to begin learning this skill?  It’s that shaky parenting tightrope I walk daily (on many more issues than just this one)–I want to give my kids enough freedom that they’re having contstant opportunites to grow and mature, but I want to do it at a common-sense, cautious pace. 

So I thought I’d throw this dilemma out to all of you, for (hopefully) some hearty discussion.  Specifically, at what age did you (or will you) give your kids their first cell phone?  What kinds of limits do you put in place to help them manage it responsibly?  How much of the financial burden are they responsible for?  Have you come up with any other creative ideas for managing this issue?

I’m all ears.

Etsy Love

Have I mentioned once or twice or eighteen times that I’m a big fan of Etsy?  I love and adore it in a way that is not at all bordering on an obsession or interfering with my productivity in any way.  *Cough, cough.*

If you aren’t familiar with this delightful phenomenon, I’ll fill you in–Etsy is simply “an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade” (that’s from their about page, which also has a good video intro as well).  You can browse by color (this is such a cool application), location (if you want to buy locally), or just randomly.  No matter how you do it, it’s completely addictive (and satisfying, too, to think of buying unique gifts handmade by small business owners.  I’ve already bought three Christmas gifts this way, and I plan to buy more.)

If Etsy has any downfall, it’s that there so much to see you can get blissfully lost, looking for treasures.  Since I know that so many of you are Etsy lovers too (either as shop owners or as shoppers), I thought it would be fun to see which shop(s) you love best.  I’ve put up a Mr. Linky below; please feel free to enter a direct link (or two or three!) to your favorites–including your own, of course, if you have one. 

For the sake of simplicity, I’m limiting this to Etsy shops only, so please don’t enter any other links (they will be deleted).  No need to enter your own name; simply enter the name of the shop, and then enter the direct link to it.  I’ll probably close this down to new links in a day or two, to ward off any spam.

Have fun, and link away!  I can’t wait to browse through your favorites and get a few more Christmas ideas…

1. Lily & Coco
2. Momo\’s Retro Fashions
3. Pickleberry Punch
4. Sugar Chic Baby
5. We Think We Can
6. Aliyah\’s Hope Chest
7. Bitty Block
8. For the Record
9. the vintage pearl
10. The Cherry Stem
11. Eldritch Designs
12. Do Over Designs
13. The Sweet Life
14. Katrina\’s Creations
15. Mouser-kins Magic
16. Pigment of your Imagination
17. BonBons
18. Hypernoodle
19. Cape Bags
20. That Girl Is Me Designs
21. Plain Jane Textiles
22. The Handmade Dress
23. The Plaid Giraffe
24. Crafty Mommy
25. made by crissy mathers
26. posie and me
27. Make It Perfect
28. Classic Rock Cupcakes
29. Lovey Duds
30. Portland Beanie Company
31. buggabugs
32. Quilt Baby
33. The Willow Tree
34. jaC jewelry
35. ae baby
36. Chic Baby Rose
37. Gulf Coast Cottage
38. Berkleys Clippies
39. Blossom Girl
40. Painted Designs by Cheryl Grant
41. Amber Hill
42. Retrofied
43. Little Cupcakes
44. Vintage Paper Parade
45. Jump Up and Down
46. 2cute4youfavors
47. Royal Buffet
48. LuvLugs
49. Sweetpea Arts
50. Knittin\’ Mama
51. Bonny Jewelry
52. Carrie
53. Spiderfelt
54. Think Victorian
55. the art of heart
56. Autumn Daisy Studio
57. Beech & Olive
58. Stonz Sterling Silver Beach Jewelry
59. DivaKami Jewelry
60. LilBees (for baby and mom)
61. BrightBlack (holiday goodies)
62. StonesOfHealing
63. WeeOnes (stitch markers)
64. Paco and Lupe
65. Daisy Layne Boutique
66. Stitches by cg
67. Noodles & Milk
68. Doodle Designs
69. Sweetbeets
70. Sweet Darlin\’ Ranch
72. Purple Frangipani
73. Autumn Leah Designs
74. simpledaisy
75. Phase Three
76. Moocowhandknits
77. Naptime Crafts!
78. Countree Toy Shoppe
79. umecrafts
80. hondamom
81. foofeee
82. Lanie
83. Susie\’s Homemade
84. Sarah and Abraham
85. SewSpun
86. Aprons, Tots, & Whatnots
87. Elasah Art
88. The Queen of Re
89. Shop Marigold
90. Bejoutiful
91. Oh Boy
92. Mimas
93. Super Fly Kidz
94. Sara\’s Art
95. Lottie\’s Loops (for little girls)
96. Woobie Designs
97. Unwavering Faith
98. Mamadama Designs
99. The Rocking Pony
100. Bit of Whimsy
101. His Dwelling Place
102. Sunnypond Home Designs
103. JunkPossee
104. MeanBean Bags
105. StarryBlueSky
106. Stone Lotus Pottery
107. Birch Tree Studio
108. Stinky Bomb
109. Lillyella
110. Because I\’m Me
111. See Mommy Sew
113. Back Home Again
114. Two Guitars (cards)
115. Autumn To May
116. Hip Violet
117. Heather
118. Laina\’s Laundry
119. Little Carrots
120. Lovely Yellow Ribbons
121. Peonybaker (earrings)
122. StarBaby (slings and baby things)
123. Smitten Invitation
124. Capturing Today Custom Creations
125. Laura\’s Bead Biz
126. Repurposing
127. Treasures by Tammy
128. Risky Beads
129. Kaylynn & Co. (Bottlecap necklaces & bows)
130. Little Pink Posies
131. Those Greathouse Women
132. Princess MiMi Designs
133. Kim Bobish
134. Fantasy Art
135. Faerie Made Soap
136. Yarntopia Treasures
137. Always Adorable
138. Creativethinks
139. Bon*Bons
140. Here to There (embroidery)
141. Kits & Caboodles
142. Cuddlebug Babies
143. Allikaye\’s Mama (Personalized Blocks)
144. PaperCrank
145. Lovems Baby Blankets
146. Little Alouette
147. Say It With Style
148. Play Family House
149. Fun is Always in Style
150. Little Precious Boutique
151. Raimbow Tree
152. Up Up Creative
153. little cupcakes (Christmas tees!)
154. Moon Over Maize
155. cindygert (handbags!)
156. Sunny Day Tags
157. RHBDesigns (hand stamped jewelry)
158. Artology
159. Chalkydoodles
160. Kickin\’ Glass (Lampwork earrings)
161. Sarah Jane Studios
162. Nestlings
163. LadyGil Designs
164. Azygous
165. CynthiaGarrett “Unique Hand Stamped Sterling Jewelry”
166. Baby Brain Nursing Bracelets
167. My Two Babes
168. Pink Lemonade Bags (correct link)
169. Paper Flowers Boutique
170. Second Story Window
171. Green Cottage Designs
172. Naiad Soap Arts
173. My MoonBean
174. Delight Design
175. My Craft Booth
176. SandersDesigns (children\’s original paintings)
177. Valentina Designs
178. SewICanStayHome
179. Passion for Paper & More
180. Refrigerator Art
181. PLUM BeaN (kids fleece hats)
182. PattyCake Designs
183. nikipetz
184. The Green Yak
185. Coming Home Soon
186. *Shey*[B] Camera Strap Covers
187. Jack and Jane
188. Shabby Vintage Mom
189. Prairie Mama
190. Kitchen Madonna
191. Tippy Thai
192. Perdoozy
193. Coyote Craft
194. A Dusty Frame (Alphabet Photography)
195. Baby Duds And More
196. Ginger Lehmann
197. The Black Apple
198. Little Grey Cat Designs (hand spun/hand knit goods)
199. Lindsey
200. LivvieLee
201. Less Ordinary Designs
202. by Brooke with love
203. vol25
204. Sweet Baby Creations
205. Inspiration Elegance (Beautiful wreaths! I own one.)
206. Chickpea Designs (photo cards)
207. Crystal
208. Belle & Boo
209. Little Sweethearts
210. Tiny Sweets (wool felt hair clips)
211. I Don\’t Bite
212. coon & cole designs
213. Cutie Pies Custom Creations
214. TwoSeasideBabies (Softest blankets ever!)
215. Too Cute
216. scrappermom (monogram and applique)
217. Naptime Craftiness
218. WildHairs
219. Sweet Pea & Bulldozer
220. LoLo Craft
221. Auntie Jill
222. Lima Bean Home
223. Simple Wishes
224. SugarBebe
225. L Herbert Designs
226. Rejardin
227. Ladybug Limited (hair stuff)
228. Frugal Granola (Home, Baby, & Clothes)
229. Bead Whimsy
230. An Iowa Mom – Beaded Socks and More!
231. Tara Stolz
232. Wishing on a Char
233. Pink Alligator Designs – Children\’s Crochet
234. Sweet Baby K\’s Bowtique (Hair Accessories)
235. Tutu
236. Butterflies and Lollipops
237. Heather
238. Wendy
239. BossyBella Accessories
240. The Homestylemom
241. jessicagm (awesome notecards)
242. To Live Beautiful
243. A well dressed bullet
244. Liz
245. CraftyCorner
246. Fishbowl Sense
247. Nesting Place: Tassels
248. Zoe\’s Heart
249. Karen\’s Kidz
250. Pretty Potables
251. Chic Made jewelry
252. Abigail\’s Hope Designs

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Why I’m Sleepy

There are two things very dear to my heart.  Two things I cherish and pursue at every possible opportunity:

1.  Sleeping late.

2.  Bargain shopping.

For 364 days a year, these two things co-exist peacefully inside my head. 

On Black Friday, they go to war.

Every year, it’s the same: there’s a tug-of-war inside my l-tryptophan-clouded head as I weigh my love for a day of sleeping in (the kids are out of school! no rushing out the door!) versus my love for the amazing deals to be had at an inhuman hours (Old Navy hoodies for $7.50!)

The most likely scenario is usually that, on Thanksgiving, my left brain carefully gathers the sale circulars and maps out a plan.

And then Friday morning, my right brain hits the snooze button.  Vigorously.

But I did it this morning!  I stuck with it.  To discipline myself, this year I thought ahead.  I called my friend Nan last night and asked if she’d like to meet at Toys R Us at 5 am (they were offering 50% off of A Certain Thing I Cannot Name Because My Kids Read My Blog).  I knew if I were actually meeting someone, I’d be less likely to sleep in.

Nan is a morning person.  I had a moment of panic when I wondered if she’d expect me to supply cheerful conversation.  (At 5 am, she’d be lucky if I remembered deoderant).  Thankfully she’s a good enough friend that she required no cheerfulness and gave me all the room I needed to emit a general air of sullenness.   

(Speaking of air, did you know that the air around Toys R Us on November 28th at 5 in the morning is very cold?  And I know this because I STOOD IN LINE IN IT.)

After our victorious Toys R Us expedition, we headed to Old Navy, where we scored some excellent bargains.  (Though we had to stand in line for an hour to pay for those bargains.  Old Navy may know a thing or two about hoodies, but their speedy check-out skills leave something to be desired.)

The last stop was JoAnn’s, where flannel is on sale for $1.50/yard.  Or, at least, it was on sale–by the time I got there at the slacker-late hour of 7:30 am, it was almost gone.  I was secretly relieved, because while they were selling flannel at an amazing price, as far as I know they were not selling the extra three hours of days I would need to, you know, actually sew something.

Now I’m home and shopped-out and happily sitting on my couch with my kids, watching a DVR’d version of the Macy’s parade (which is, incidentally, very different from how I was spending my November 28th a decade agohappy birthday, my boy!)

So I’m curious how many of you were wildly demented thriftily wise enough to brave the Black Friday crowds.  Just for grins, answer the survey below:

WFMW: Write Down Your Gifts

Have you ever bought someone a Christmas gift, then hidden it, and lost it?  And then you clean out your closet two years later, and there it is, right behind the too-small jeans, except now nobody plays with Rescue Heroes anymore?

Uh, yes ma’am.  Many times.  The more kids I had, the more likely this scenario became.  Or–and this is the worst–I’d find that I’d spent too much one person and not enough on another, and the whole thing felt unbalanced, causing a last-minute scurry.

A few years ago, I started keeping a close record of what I was buying, and for whom.  It’s simply a list, {DRYER CHILDREN, STOP READING} kept in the back of my daily planner.  I start it in the fall, when I first start mulling over gift ideas.  When a child mentions something they’d like, I record it on my list.  When I’ve actually purchased it, I circle it.  When I’ve gift-wrapped it (oh, the sense of completion) I cross it off.

Then (and this is key), if I hide it someplace weird, I write down where I hid it.

This list isn’t only for my kids’ gifts, either.  I keep every gift idea/record I have on ONE piece of paper, with notes jotted about sale prices and sweater sizes and any other relevant bit of info.  That way I can take it with me when I go shopping.  It has saved me a ton of stress, and a good bit of money, too.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you’d like to share?  I’d love for you to join us!  First timers, check out the guidelines herePlease note that the links will close at 8 pm CST tonight, in order to keep away the spammers! 

Was your link deleted?  Click here.

1. Blue Castle (Creative Recycling)
2. Audra Krell (Stay home on BF)
3. Memarie Lane (Another Use for Diapers)
4. Amy @ Experience Imagination (donate expired coupons & old towels)
5. We are THAT family (Thanksgiving & Kids)
6. The Well-Rounded Woman (Hair Tales: Straight \’n\’ Easy)
7. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers (Smells Like Christmas COOKIES)
8. kitchendoor (chilling out)
9. Raise Them Up (Frugal Useful Homemade Gift)
10. Life with Kaishon (great giveaway!)
11. Amy @ Finer Things (Fireproof Your Marriage
12. A Simple Walk (bribery)
13. The Diaper Diaries (Christmas Shopping)
14. The Happy Housewife ~ Christmas Trees
15. Jenny (Holiday Traditions)
16. “Cents”able Momma (Thanksgiving Ideas)
17. Lisa@BlessedwithGrace(mess free fingerpaints)
18. Andrea(Heat Embossing)
19. Melissa @ Miss K Cooks (Turkey Day Tips)
20. Muses of Megret (rainy day fun!)
21. Joelle (flu season tips)
22. Happy To Be At Home (stuffing balls)
23. Betty Beguiles (Look Ten Pounds Thinner)
24. Steph at Red Clay Diaries (Tablecloth Craft Memento)
25. Pam at BeyondJustMom (virtual reunion)
26. cool mum (frugal family in NYC)
27. Musings of a Housewife (holiday gift guides)
28. GROCERY CART CHALLENGE ($5 or less Christmas gifts)
29. Repurposed (homemade fabric softener)
30. Green Baby Guide (Thanksgiving Recipes)
31. Fiddledeedee (Hair Color)
32. Owlhaven( Easy Dessert)
33. Christmas at our house (quick dinner)
34. Tricia (Black Friday Shopping)
35. Amy (Hosting 40 people for Thanksgiving on a $60/wk grocery budget)
36. Many Little Blessings (Home Baked Christmas Gifts – Plus Giveaway!)
37. Julie (“perfect” cookies)
38. Impress Your Kids (christmas gifts)
39. Working Mom (Pretty Pies)
40. Julie From Inmates (Those Pretzel Things)
41. Amy @ A Day in the Life (Thanksgiving Fancy Mac and Cheese)
42. Shauna (felt food)
43. Teach your child a hymn to sing on Thanksgiving
44. Tammy W @ pink stinx
45. Here\’s The Diehl (baby\’s changing ta

46. The Clark Chronicles (5 in a row!)
47. Miche @ Coordinated Chaos(washable poster paint-great for making cards!)
48. What About Mom (Confessions of a Martha)
49. MamaMay @ Christ, Coffee and Knitting Needles (getting Hubby (or any male) to he
50. asnipofgoodness how to get encouragement
51. Daily Dwelling (how we\’re doing Santa)
52. Carol – (Secret Stash)
53. Thrifty Jinxy (Edible Playdough)
54. Lori~SimpleLifeatHome (Littles & Christmas Trees!)
55. Lizzie\’s Home (dealing with paper clutter)
56. Extreme House Wifeing (Potty Training)
57. Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (Thanksgiving Meals Solutions)
58. Chanelle (~*~Before and After Hair Cut~*~)
59. Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking (homemade produce wash)
60. Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking (nutritious gingerbread pancakes)
61. Amyswandering (Make-A-Wish & Santa)
62. Tanya (splurge for the holidays)
63. Mommy Bee (black friday sales online)
64. Penny Raine
65. Lynn (Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread)
66. Lynne (FREE Facial!)
67. Krisi (Freezing Casseroles)
68. Lee (networking with other mommies)
69. Col @ gigablonde (using the gift of emotions)
70. Joanna @ OneKrustyMama (Easy Peasy Bran Muffins)
71. mom2my9 (How to cure hiccups)
72. Heidi @ Blue Eyed Blessings (simple idea for Thanksgiving table)
73. Kristine (Black friday tips)
74. Tina (party notebook)
75. Sarah Mae (Teach Your Kiddos the 10 Commandments EASY!)
76. Mozi Esme (Kid Crafts)
77. Se7en (Crafty gifts that do or don\’t work)
78. Kate\’s Kitchens: Going Green in style
79. Kim (must have gadget)
80. Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom (e-cards to benefit KIDS)
81. Kimba@A Soft Place to Land (diy tablecloth)
82. Jolanthe (Teaching Times Tables)
83. Jolanthe (Teaching Times Tables) right link
84. BusyMom (shaving cream alternative – updated link)
85. Susan (FREE pet bedding)
86. Michelle- This One\’s for the Girls (FREE book giveway!!)
87. Occupation: Mommy (Free learning games!)
88. JessieLeigh(3 Car seats- HELP?!?)
89. I Blame Mom (cutting baby\’s nails)
90. Trixie @ Farmhomelife (How to Save Big Bucks)
91. Paula (Clutter-Free Gift Ideas)
92. Jennifer, Snapshot (fun exercise!)
93. PurpleFrangipani (DIY childs mannequin)
94. Frugal Fulfillment (Personalized Coasters)
95. Lori (clear sinuses)
96. Mom24@4evermom (hospital gifts)
97. Gina @ Six in the Country (Easy, Elegant Garland)
98. heidi (nacho therapy)

99. Sheila ~ To Love, Honor and Vacuum (ending gift giving chaos!)
100. Bailey\’s Leaf (Laundry 101)
101. Camian Academy (Keeping Nan in Their Lives)
102. Edi (Faster Pasta)
103. 5intow (homemade magnetic menu)
104. Jerri @ Simply Sweet Home (making Christmas gift lists)
105. TuTu\’s Bliss (Photographing children)
106. Ann (not losing baby socks)
107. Llama Momma (make-ahead gravy)
108. Andrea@rAndom issues (My Planner System)
109. Hanan ( When Embracing a New Faith)
110. Calina (Date your Food)
111. Lynley (travel tips for toddlers)
112. Thia(cook it all!)
113. Frugal Carol – A Frugal New Picture…..
114. Hadias (Don\’t Buy These Anymore)
115. Today\’s Housewife (once a month cooking)
116. Scott (Self-Sufficient Drinking Kids)
117. Hadias (Seasonal Clothes Storage)
118. Hadias (Menu Planning)
119. Heather L. (Quick Draft Stopper)
120. Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet (Road Trip Needs)
121. Amblin (Advent Christmas Bags)
122. The Fat Bottomed Girl (No Boil-over Potatoes)
123. Free 2 Be Frugal (Freezer)
124. Chief Family Officer (brown bag lunch tip)
125. A Frugal Housewife (Giveaway!!!)
126. Joanna @ Grace In The Home (homemade shower cleaner)
127. Amy (Semi-Homemade Pies)
128. Rebekah @Mundane Musings (why we\’re downsizing)
129. Amanda T (Frugal Photo Cards)
130. Karen @ Mommy, I\’m Home
131. SK
132. Trace (Skinny Jeans for Curvy Women!)
133. Clappy Shoes- Substituting Tips
134. Crystal (Four Favorite Desserts)
135. Lorie @ Be Different Act Normal (The Toilet Paper Diaries)
136. Michelle (thankful box)
137. Elizabeth Esther (How NOT To Sew!)
138. KnappKnotes (Yummy Chowder Recipe!)
139. Lively Lileys (Swapping Books)
140. MamaHen(Tasty Turkey)
141. Maren – Bill Organizer
142. Keep It Simple(Shipping savings)
143. Michelle @ Saving Some Green (Toy Rotation)
144. Homemade laundry detergent
145. Anne (YouTube)
146. Roxanne
147. Roxanne (Cute, Easy Turkey Craft)
148. Gina (Free Samples)
149. Carolina Mama (Thanksgiving Helper)
150. Mommin It Up (Buckeye recipe)
151. Janelle (hiding places for presents)
152. Cyndi (adoption-related)
153. Mrs. Sprinkles (Shaving Cream plus GIVEAWAY)
154. Renee (Freezing Cookie Dough)
155. Kirstin: Home Box
156. Laryssa (Germ Killer)
157. Bronwen
158. Ginny ~ (ReStore bargains)
159. Fuschia: Weight-loss
160. Leaving Excess (Make Ahead Meatloaf)
161. Amy (Cleaning the Microwave)
162. Luanne @iwantmk (Puffy Eyes & Dark Circles?)
163. Reading Rosie (Fun Learning)
164. Kaley (self tanner that works)
165. Abbi ( A favorite easy meal)
166. Aimee (The Mother Load)
167. Valerie at Home (Rockband and little ones)
168. Moms by Heart (How to Love my In-Laws)
169. Holli T. (getting the kids involved)
170. Petersonclan (Keeping Track of Rewards)
171. What\’s Cooking (easy cheap Thanksgiving centerpieces)
172. The Things We Do (Dave Ramsey book/CD sale!)
173. Will / A New Membership
174. Robin@Heart of Wisdom (Thanksgiving Harvest)
175. Heart at Home (Homeschool Happenings)
176. Noelle @ 6 Silly Sullys
177. Amanda (organizing ideas)
178. Thia(ground meat)
179. Schmamy (sunshine as bleach)
180. Emily @ Little Home (Hanging the Stockings)
181. Katie (being a good guest or host)
182. Nichole (weight control)
183. Organising Queen (decluttering children\’s toys)
184. Susan (Homemade Holiday Cards)
185. Amy@GrowingLikeTrees:Handmade gifts for Teenagers
186. Shannon-homemade cranberry sauce
187. Jerri (Easy Label Removal)
188. Toni (game plan)
189. Betsy (book shopping for kids — seeking suggestions)
190. chanelireli(how I keep my house clean)
191. flexible dreams (earning money)
192. Suzanne :: Adventures in Daily Living :: (Stocking Stuffer Ideas)
193. Miss Mommy (Shopping Before the Sun Rises)
194. Christine (when life is hard)
195. Heather (master packing list)
196. Crayl (Teach Thankfulness)
197. Jessica @The Cyrial Bowl
198. Jen @ Sabbatical Mom (Party invites & thank yous)
199. justanotherday–leather couch stains
200. Jen Zug (toyless Christmas)
201. Heather (cheap eye makeup remover)
202. Jamie/penguinsandladybugs (keep pets from peeing and keep fleas at bay)
203. Nicole (chore chart success!)
204. Maria (The Season of Giving – The Frugal Way)
205. Melody @ KidsandCakes (cinn. roll-rolling with less kitchen mess)
206. Brandi
207. Amy @ Buffaloes (Tablecloths & kids)
208. Brandi (Double Layer Pumpkin Pie)
209. Kathy
210. Tidymom(Have Pie? Will Travel)
211. Kathy (Gravy recipe)
212. SheMom – Date Night Idea
213. Grateful for Grace (for today specifically!)
214. Michele @ Frugal Granola (Homemade Air Freshener)
215. Amy W (great full hearts book)
216. Tamara (encouraging reading)
217. Tari – The Grass Widow\’s Diary (green gift wrap)
218. Tanya (Removing Wallpaper Adhesive)
219. MemeGRL (vertical tree lights!)
220. Martia
221. Frugalchick (low tech password keeper)
222. mzzterry(advent tradition idea)
223. Anna (Easy hems)
224. Totallyscrappy (Fun Advent/Christmas Tradtion)
225. Sandi ( Help for Canker Sores / Mouth Ulcers)
226. Tabitha (digital holiday cards)
227. Beth @ A Quest for Relevance (Quick Dinner)
228. Jenna (pretzels dipped in chocolate)
229. Jacquelyn @ Because I Said So! (simplifying school lunches [contest too!])
230. Catherine (Kids and chores)
231. Sandwiched (Free Christmas music!)
232. Beverlydru (Easy Instrument)
233. Jilann – Pie Dough
234. Ann Kroeker (pumpkin pie & potato tips)

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