January – 2012 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

January 2012

Getting Frugal With Bunk Beds

When you mix the word “frugal” together with the words “bunk beds”, the first thing that comes to mind is usually a set of boring wooden twin bunks that you’d see in a local campsite. These days, however, bunk beds are being manufactured with the end consumer in mind, and nowadays people are looking for something better. You can find cheap bunk beds that are stunning and modern without having to break the bank.

Secondhand bunks

Kids can outgrow bunk beds very quickly so it is quite easy to find secondhand bunks on classified ad sites on the Internet. While you probably will want to replace the mattresses, you can purchase a cheap frame that is stylish. It’s easy to wash down these frames so that you don’t have any concern about germs or bacteria. They are available online in both traditional wood designs and in modern metal tubing bunks.

Online stores

You’ll often find bunk beds at a cheaper price on the Internet, even once you have factored in the cost of shipping. Online stores buy bunks directly from the manufacturer, which cuts down on the overhead significantly. If you were to buy a bed from a retail store in your local area, you would be paying for the utility costs, the rental and leasing costs and the overall upkeep of the store itself. This is not to mention the wages for the employees or the shipping costs to get the bed from the manufacturer to the store.


From time to time you can find fantastic sales in stores where bunk beds are marked down to almost a wholesale price. These sales don’t come along too often, however, and when you find that you’re in need of a bunk bed you’re not usually in a situation where you can wait too long.

When you’re looking for cheap bunk beds make sure that you take proper measurements before heading out to look for them or searching for them online. Bunk beds come in all different shapes and sizes these days and it can get quite confusing once you start shopping to envision how they would fit into the room. This is, in fact, one of the most important things that you can do before you start shopping. It will be a quite a situation if you happen to fall in love with a set of bunks only to find out later that they simply cannot fit into the room as imagined.
If you haven’t seen bunk beds recently, you’re in for a treat. The old style of campsite bunk beds are still available, but there are also stylish and modern bunks that can fit into the decor of any bedroom.

I Love Avocados

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Avocados from Mexico for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s true, I do. I have to admit it wasn’t love at first sight. It wasn’t until, as a newlywed, my husband encouraged me to give them a try. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan! On burgers, on sandwiches, on tacos, with rice, by themselves, and most definitely in a freshly made guacamole, I absolutely adore adding Avocados from Mexico to my food.

If you’ve never tried making homemade guacamole before, by the way, you should go for it – it’s amazing! We make ours with 5 avocados, the juice of two limes, half a can of Rotel w/ cilantro & lime juice, minced red onion, minced garlic, chopped fresh cilantro and salt to taste. You can also add diced jalapeno if you want a little extra spice.

Do you love avocados too? Apparently we’re not alone. Over 27,000 people like the “Avocados From Mexico” page on Facebook! This page makes it easy for us avocado fans to share the love – they have ringtones, wallpapers, and badges you can download for free. I got one of the free ringtones. All I had to do was scan the QR code with my smart phone, fill in my email address, and they sent the ringtone right to me.

I also found this cute badge that I think I should add to every recipe I post with avocados in it:

Do you love avocados too? Visit the I love avocados on Facebook page, catch them on Twitter at @guacgrl, and tweet the love using the hashtag #iloveavocados.

Visit Sponsor's Site

It’s That Time of Year Again – Filing Taxes

Filing taxes can be a nerve-wracking process. You want to make sure you’re taking all the deductions available to you, but you also want to make sure you’re filing correctly. Some people choose to go with an accounting firm to handle taxes, and some use a program to do theirs on their own. We are really grateful to have an accountant in the family who handles our taxes for us.

If you’re handling your taxes on your own this year, there are a lot of good resources online for guiding you. Just make sure you consider the source before you take advice from any online entity. The IRS actually has a really impressive pool of Tax Tips, with articles on everything from “Tax Tips Regarding Income” to “IRS Reminds Parents of Ten Tax Benefits.” I was impressed with the wealth of information provided on this site alone – and you can definitely feel confident in any information you pull from the IRS directly. They even have a smartphone app called IRS2Go that allows you interact with the IRS using your mobile device. The app can help you get your refund status and tax updates. IRS2Go is available for the iPhone or iTouch and the Android. Isn’t that cool?

Most importantly, though, make sure you don’t have unfiled tax returns! I remember seeing on the news that a winner of Survivor hadn’t paid taxes on his winnings, had to hire a tax attorney, and was going to jail. The penalties for not filing taxes are way too serious – make sure you get it taken care of! I always think it’s better to get it done as early as possible so it’s out of your hair and one less thing on your plate. If it seems really complicated, go to a professional. You may spend money having your taxes prepared, but the peace of mind will be worth it.

How do you handle taxes? Do you file on your own, or use a professional?

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas


I know people either love or hate Valentine’s Day. I fall in the former category. I get that it’s a contrived holiday, that it was created to give people more reasons to shop, but I don’t care. I love the idea of a day set apart to focus on expressing love.

Brian and I don’t make a big fuss out of the day, but we usually exchange cards and have a date. In college we’d set price limits and have to make gifts for each other, which was a lot of fun. Since he loves to play video games, several years back I got him Lego Star Wars so we could play together. Not something I’d pick, necessarily, but it was right up his alley and showed him I paid attention to what he liked. And it really was fun playing together, even if I’m pretty awful at it.

When it comes to gifts for me, I’m pretty simple. Flowers are always a favorite, of course, and anything handmade. And now that we have kids, I love trying to think of creative ideas to do for them. Last year on Valentine’s Day I was sick with the flu, so I just lined their trains up to make a heart and stuck some store-bought treats in the middle. I like sending Valentine’s treats to my 90-year-old grandma too – it’s so easy to send cookies or flowers by post now and get them to her quickly. Plus, it’s always fun to get good mail, right?

I thought it’d be fun to share a few Valentines Day ideas to get your creativity going.

For Him:

A book made out of a deck of cards, highlighting 52 reasons you love him! I think this is so cute – and who doesn’t want to hear a ton of reasons they are loved?

For Kids:

I love this idea! I think it’d be fun to get a cheap bucket too and stick a few other goodies in there. The candy can be enjoyed right away and the shovel can be saved for a trip to the beach!

For Your Kids’ Friends:

We are SO making these valentines this year!! Simple, personalized and adorable. LOVE!

Note: Be sure and click the photos to go to their sources and get tips on how to make each of the projects.

Get Your Craft on with Factory Direct Craft!

I’ve always loved crafting. From painting pottery to decoupaging to paper crafts and more, I’ve discovered how FUN it is to create something that I can give to family or friends, or enjoy for myself! I’ve learned how to mimic expensive products for a fraction of the cost, plus I really just like the idea of adding a personal touch to things.

I mentioned that I love creating things for a fraction of the cost of retail prices, but the key to being able to do that is finding craft supplies at affordable prices to keep the cost down. It’s great ordering online because it makes it easy to hunt down the best prices.

Speaking of crafts, I thought I’d share some of the fun ideas I found on the Factory Direct Craft blog. Both of the ideas are simple and would be great to do with your kids!

The first craft I came across was the idea of making your own stamps with a hot glue gun.

Of course, be sure to have an adult around for using a hot glue gun, but seriously – how cute (and frugal) of an idea is this? You could even print out a design template and use a sharpie to trace it until it bleeds onto the surface for the stamp. You could do names (don’t forget to do them backward) or a special symbol. This is a great way to personalize a project, and uses mostly items you’d already have around the house!

The next idea I found is SO easy and I’m smacking myself for not already thinking of it. I love baking goodies for friends, but always end up putting them on bland disposable plates so I don’t have to worry about getting my plate back.  Why not dress up disposable plates with ribbon?

Just think – it’d be easy to use ribbon specific to the occasion! Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and more can all be easily recognized by picking the right ribbon. I’ll definitely be using this idea!

What’s your favorite craft? I’m always looking for something new to try!


Skin Treatments At Home

I’ve had skin issues since I was in 4th grade, when I had the unfortunate start of many breakouts to come. All through middle school and high school, and even college, I tried all kinds of different things to help. Thankfully now I’ve (mostly) outgrown that, but now I have another issue – large pores that I try to find ways to minimize!

For a while back in my teenage years my mom took me to a dermatologist. I got microdermabrasion treatments, and they really made a big difference! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the process in which fine particles are used to exfoliate your skin, removing the layer that might block your pores and allow for more breakouts. Microdermabrasion makes your skin softer and more vibrant. It may be performed to decrease the appearance of some superficial pigmentation issues and photo-damage, as well as diminish fine lines, wrinkles, pores and shallow acne scars. Removing the dead skin will aid in the penetration of skin care products and make-up will go on much more smoothly.

Today the cost of everything is rising, so going to a dermatologist or spa to get microdermabrasion treatments can be pretty pricey. And if you consider the fact that you get better results with multiple treatments, it’s easy to see how the cost of going somewhere could add up quickly.

Now with the advent of technology, there are more options than going to a dermatologist for treatments. I  may not have breakouts anymore but I’d love to have something to help minimize pores – and now I can do this on my own with one of many microdermabrasion at home products out there on the market. You can find many low-cost options at online retailers like ShopNBC. It’s nice too because microdermabrasion can make your skin slightly red for a little bit after the treatment, so when doing it at home you can choose to do it in the evening. Then you don’t have to go out and about until you’re ready!

Have you ever done microdermabrasion before? What skin issues do you have that you think microdermabrasion would help with?

Note: http://cmp.ly/3

Turn Something Old Into Something Bold – Home Decor On the Cheap

If you’re looking for a way to spruce up your house but don’t want to spend a lot of money, just get creative! There are a lot of ways to turn old items you have around the house into something new and great. Here are a few inexpensive ways to add some flair to your home decor and give everyday household items new life:

1. Turn an old picture frame into a vanity tray. Whether you keep the frame “as is” with old photograph and all or insert patterned gift wrap in the frame, picture frames make a terrific vanity tray.  The frame edges keep items from sliding off, while the glass top can be easily cleaned. Paint the frame to make it match your decor. You can even buy handles at your local hardware store pretty inexpensively if you want to add something more to the tray.

2. Re-use a sleek wine or water bottle as a vase.  Turn glass bottles you already have around into a great home décor piece for fresh flowers.  For example, you could add champagne colored stones into an empty VOGA Italia Wine Moscato bottle to match the champagne colored detailing.

3.  Turn cake pedestals into decorative displays. If you think cake pedestals look gorgeous with a one of your homemade cakes on top, try using them as a decorative piece for candles, flowers and more.  Add some height to your centerpieces and displays by putting some elements at surface level and others on the cake plate. You’ll free up space in your kitchen cabinet, too! I also have used square plates as candle bases before – just take a large white square plate (I got mine for just a couple of dollars) and group candles on it. Voila! Much cheaper than buying something specifically made for candles!

4.  Turn old clothing into throw pillows.  Turn outgrown, outworn or even stained clothing into great throw pillows.  Cut two squares of equal size from your clothing of choice, sew the edges and fill with pillow stuffing. You can add embellishments to dress it up a little, or leave it as is for a fun look.

5. Reuse glass bottles as soap dispensers.  Use old glass bottles to dispense your hand soap, body oil or body wash.  I love the idea of using vintage bottles, but you could even use a basic clear bottle for a clean and fresh touch.

6. Turn old jars into hanging candle holders.  I think this is such a charming look, especially for summer. For an elegant & fun touch to your indoor or outdoor décor, wrap wire around the lip of old jam jars and create a hanging loop.  Display under porch beams, curtain rods or anywhere you need a playful touch.

I love repurposing old items – I’ve also taken old windows found at garage sales and turned them into tables or picture frames. What’s your favorite way to repurpose something? Do you have a project you’re particularly proud of? Share in the comments – I love hearing ideas for this kind of thing!

Project 365 Update


So, it turns out I’m not doing so great with remembering to take a photo every day. I think my project should be called project three-hundred-and-something. When we just had J, it was easy to take multiple photos of him a day. In fact, I think I took almost as many photos when C was little – only because everyone warned me the amount of photos taken shrinks with each subsequent child. But now, even with my phone I forget. I decided not to sweat it, because it isn’t fun if I’m stressing over it like homework in high school. So, without further ado, here are eight pictures taken at some point over the course of the past two weeks. Here’s hoping I’ll do better this coming week!

In this first photo, Brian & J are standing in front of the duck pond at the park I grew up going to (Brian did too… I always wonder if we were ever at the park at the same time throughout the years).

We were insane and decided to take our giant lab/golden retriever puppy, Sally, with us to my parents’ house TWO HOURS AWAY. She acted like you’d expect a giant puppy holed up in a small space to act. She wiggled around pretty constantly and chewed the edge of our floor mat. And our dark carpet got covered in fur. But she sure did have fun!

Monday I was off work for MLK Day, and it was in the 70’s, so I decided to take the boys to the zoo. We had a lot of fun! My little monkeys loved climbing the fence and watching the monkeys at the zoo!

Tuesday night I decided to make Brian’s favorite cookies. There sure is something relaxing about baking cookies… maybe it’s knowing that you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor soon after.

We went shopping – for groceries, mind you – and I randomly decided to snap this photo to capture what it’s like going to the store with Brian and the boys. They all three want to stop on the Lego aisle. I’m so outnumbered.

Thursday I got called from the boys’ day care – C was running a high fever, wouldn’t eat his lunch and was acting lethargic. I picked him up and took him to the doctor. The verdict? Strep throat. He was SO pitiful.

Last night some friends braved our sick house and came over to play games. J and C adore their boys, who are much older and are SO sweet to them. J had a blast hanging out with big kids! Of course, he’d group himself into that category too.

This last picture is from tonight – J loves to turn off the lights, pop popcorn and watch a movie. C was asleep, but the rest of us enjoyed an episode of Cat in the Hat before bedtime.

I already know what my photo tomorrow will be – after church we’re going to be putting in some work on finishing our bathroom remodel. Can’t wait to take a picture of our progress!

Are you taking photos (almost) every day? Link up in the comments so I can check your photos out!

Support Healthy Living With Supplements

As I get older, I become more and more interested in taking measures to be healthy. I’ll be honest, taking a multivitamin in my twenties (aside from prenatals) was a rarity. But now I am much more conscious about making an effort. My parents have been good about this for a long time – they’re really knowledgeable about herbs and oils, and the benefits of everything from Echinacea to Fish Oil.

There’s a newer oil supplement out that I’m hearing more about and am interested in – Krill Oil. This is the oil harvested from antarctic krill, a shrimp-like crustacean that lives deep in the ocean.  The Krill oil site says,

Krill Oil also contains critical DHA and EPA but there’s one HUGE difference. When you take Krill Oil, the Omega 3 fatty acids are structured in phospholipid form and NOT triglyceride form. Phospholipids are the same type of fat cells found in the human body! This means there are no triglycerides to break down and the Omega 3s can directly enter your body without any additional work or conversion! Just by switching to Krill Oil you immediately gain 50% more DHA and EPA to boost your health!

I’m definitely going to be looking more into the benefits of krill oil – I’ve heard for a long time about how good fish oil is for providing crucial Omega 3 fatty acids, and the extra DHA and EPA from krill oil is really appealing!

Do you take supplements? Have you heard of krill oil before? I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions/experiences!

Note: http://cmp.ly/3