Thursday, December 20, 2007

Unique Xmas Tree

I wanted to create a unique Xmas tree this year. But I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money either. And what you see is the result of my handiwork.

Materials used:
Inexpensive white fabric
Discarded corrugated boxes

Four large pieces of corrugated sheets were cut to shape and sheathed in white fabric. The four pieces were then stitched on to a central piece wrapped around a cardboard pole. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I had fun making this unique tree.

Dressed up a bear as an angel
Soft toys became tree ornaments
Motivational inscriptions were added strategically.

I have found several uses for this tree:
1. Serves as a conversation starter
2. Can be used as a display holder by collectors of coins, beanie babies, key chains etc.
3. Can be used as a money tree
4. Blood donors’ name tags can be placed on this tree at hospitals

I look forward to your comments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sella's Coupon World

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean!
- Old saying
Drink one less latte a day and retire rich!
- New saying

Welcome to the world of coupons
This post is dedicated to the savers of the world. I will update this section every Sunday night with the potential savings available during the following week. I encourage those of you who do not have the time or the patience to go through a ton of coupons, to use my list or my techniques, and save yourself some money. I primarily rely on the Sunday edition of my newspaper and junk mail for my rebates and coupons. I also look for online deals. I have found that when you combine manufacturers rebates and store coupons, the savings can really add up. I don’t claim to be an expert. I am just sharing what works for me. If it helps some of you, it’ll make my day. If any of you can post your experiences, I will be happy to include them in my strategy.

My Guidelines:

Plan ahead
I buy only what I need and plan ahead of time and stock up when there are deals to be had. Often a combination of a coupon and a rebate might yield higher savings. My best experience so far has been at Walgreens. I bought a bunch of stuff, turned in my coupons and walked away with almost two dollars cash back! Even the cashier was visibly impressed.

Be organized
I clip coupons first thing Sunday morning and make a schedule for the week giving myself time to visit the various stores. I also go through my junk mail and pick out the coupons I need. I have my list of favorite stores and focus on them first. I place all the coupons in a handy little organizer and carry it around whenever I go shopping. I have a full-time job, plus a husband, a six year old, and a dog, to take care of. Otherwise I would be done shopping by Sunday afternoon.

What do I do with these savings?
Although these savings do add up, they are not big enough for me to give up my day time job (LOL). Then why do I bother with this? Well, first of all I find it fun and exciting. It helps me stay updated with the market. But I do not add these savings to my retirement nest egg – it’ll only cause my expectations to go up and rob the fun from this game.
I keep track of these savings and here’s where they go:

1. It pays for our newspaper subscription – my husband has to read the newspaper everyday (sigh).
2. My tips/charitable contributions come from these savings.
3. I occasionally buy lottery tickets.

My favorite stores
I have listed a few of my current favorite stores and coupon resources below:
1. Walgreens
2. CVS/Pharmacy
4. Linens N Things
5. JCPenney
6. Office Depot
7. SuperCuts
8. Olive Garden
Resources: (Both online and paper versions)
1. The Star-Telegram
2. Valassis
3. SmartSource Magazine
4. Valpak

My savings during the week of Dec 09- 14, 2007: $41.02

JCPenney Savings - $20
$10 off of purchase of $10 or more with MasterCard.
I received two offers during December.
Three pairs of socks
Original Price $10 – Final cost with above coupon - $0
Leather belt (Original price:$20)
Sale Price $10 – Final cost with above coupon - $0

CVS Pharmacy Savings - $9.52
Combined manufacturer's $4 coupon with CVS $6 Extra Bucks Rewards and bought a Gillette Fusion Power Razor for $0.48. Original price:$9.99

ULTA Savings - $6.50
Purchased 2 packs of L’Oreal Excellence Hair Color
One pack was on sale for $5.99. Used UTLA $3.50 off of $10 purchase and used two $2 manufacturer's coupons to but 2 packs for $4.92.

Walgreens Savings $5
Purchased Triaminic Vapor Diffuser – Price $5.99
EasySaver Catalog Savings - $3
Manufacturer's coupon - $2
Final cost - $0.99

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dressing up Bears

I was just nine years old when my mom first allowed me to sit at her sewing machine and try out some straight line stitches. It started as a hobby and I enjoyed the creative opportunities that came with it. I was soon making curtains and table covers and hand kerchiefs. I also began to dress up my dolls. My skills improved enough to enable me to sew my own blouses and skirts. My brothers drew the line when I tried to sew shirts and pants for them! So much for trying to replace the family tailor!

When I seriously started dressing up bears, a whole new world opened up for me. I began to design a variety of clothes for bears of different sizes. My first step was to start a bear collection. To make it easy, I picked soft toys that were at least 18 inches or higher. The next step was the choice of clothes. I wanted to create memories. The Pictures will reveal the variety I have built up.

Army Bear sold for $1250

A heart warming experience!I had a lot of fun creating the uniforms for these two teddies. Click on the image to see the fine details of the uniforms and caps. The buttons and pockets are actually functional! But the real excitement came after I had delivered these two cuties to a non-profit organization. They were participating in a corporate holiday event. The organizers were collecting donated items to be sent to military personnel serving overseas. These bears were originally intended to be given away as gifts to the children of the soldiers. However, when the organizers saw these bears, they decided, on a whim, to auction them off to the highest bidders in the gathering and send the proceeds to the soldiers in the form of prepaid telephone cards.
What followed was unbelievable! When the first teddy came up for auction, a small bidding war began and it finally sold for $250. By now all eyes were on the remaining teddy. The gathering went into a frenzy as a bidding war erupted, sending the initial bid well past $250. The second bear finally was sold to the highest bidder at a whopping $1,250. Although I was not present at the event, I learned all about it in the newspapers the next day. It was a heart warming experience indeed!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Live Ivy lighted tree

Check out my latest creation!
This year I placed my traditional Christmas tree in our living room and decided to have a live tree up on my second floor window. Guess what I used to for a tree? An ivy! I placed the pot beneath the window and strung a few thin cotton ropes from the pot to the top of the window, tying it into one single knot to give the arrangement the conical look of a Christmas tree. Then I wrapped the soft vines of the ivy onto the ropes. The lights went up next and so did some light ornaments and colorful bows. When we looked at it from our driveway after dark, it looked simply amazing.

After seeing the effect, I decided to have a tree in my front yard as well. I used another potted ivy that stands five feet tall. I stuck one of our reading lamps in the center of the pot and let the ivy cover up the long pipe. I draped lights along the vines of the plant and placed a lighted star as the top ornament.

My friends loved my unique ideas and I wanted to share them with you too! I am sure many of you have done something unique with your Xmas tree this year and hope you’d share them with me.