Friday, December 16, 2011

Lets Have Some Cake and Eat It, Too: how to save a lot by saving a little.

Say, what would you think if we had some cake and ate it, too, today?"
We often depict penny pinching ladies as shrewish prudes.  This is why I am going to call myself a penny saver and not a penny pincher.  Let's be serious--if I'm going to have cake, then I'm going to eat it too; and I'm going to do this by trimming my outflow without missing a moment of fun.  

Following are 12 simple and painless ways you can save a lot by saving a little at a time:

1. Use web resources. When making online purchases, google the store name and the word "coupon" before making your purchase.  Often, this will lead you to a coupon code, which can save you $3-$20 (whatever you do, don't give the coupon site your e-mail address.  Also, limit your search to 1 minute of looking.  If you haven't found it in 1 minute the coupons have probably expired.  This reminds me.  I just got a coupon from Olive Nation when I received my vanilla beans.  The code is 202011.  Feel free to use it until they won't let us use it anymore).  

2. Take the time to compare prices.  Before purchasing larger items, do a 30 minute search for the best deal. You might be pleasantly surprised when you find your $300 window unit for $25 on craigslist.  Or when Firestone tells you it's going to cost $399 to replace 2 of your tires, take 30 minutes to call around town.  You might find that Discount Tires can give you the same tires for $250 (yes I did. 30 minutes of calling saved me $150).  

3. Become a coupon clipper.  Get a Kroger card and go to to upload coupons onto your kroger account and visit  I know, saving 50 cents on paper towels isn't going to help you that much.  However, if you have multiple coupons you could save as much as $20 or $30 at the register.   

4. Buy in multiples.  Toilet paper is my least favorite purchase in the entire world.  But do yourself a favor and buy toilet paper in 12 packs or more.  I know that buying 1 cheap roll at a time for 99 cents is the less painful way to go.  But you could get really nice toilet paper for 50 cents per roll if you bought 12 at a time.  If you can't bare to spend more than 99 cents at a time, just bite the bullet once, spend $6 on a grown up pack of toilet paper and put 99 cents away every time you use a roll of toilet paper.  Then when you use all of the toilet paper you'll have $11.88 in your toilet paper jar and can buy another 12 pack of premium toilet paper and still have enough to sip on a really expensive latte while doing it (the same thing goes for sandwich bags, paper towels, potatoes, etc, etc). 

6. Have a loose change jar.  Every time Brandon and I have loose change we put it in the jar.  It's money that we'd probably end up losing anyway. Yesterday we emptied the jar and found that we had accumulated $32 in pennies, nickels, quarters, and dimes over the coarse of a month and 1/2.  

7. Be friends with your taylor.  I wear a 0/2.  I recently found a Michael Kors jacket at Music City Thrift, size 8, for 99 cents.  I took it to my taylor, had her sew a few stitches here and there and soon had a custom fit Michael Kors suit jacket for 20.99.  If you're not careful number 8 can be the cause of money lost--not money saved.  

8. Eat and be merry at odd hours.  Instead of going out to dinner, go out to Happy Hour an hour earlier.  

9. Make an extra trip to save money.  When buying veggies, purchase them at the international market or the farmers market rather than buying them at your regular grocery store.  At the international market I can cut my veggie bill in 1/2 (not kidding--I priced it out.  A group of vegetables that would have cost $24 at Kroger cost me a mere $11 at the international market).  And we all know that happy girls eat veggies.

10. Be resourceful.  Instead of buying expensive, organic cleaner, make your own. Instead of buying expensive bath salts, make your own.  Instead of paying someone many dollars to replace your electrical outlet, replace it yourself

11. Buy with intention.  Before you go to the grocery store make a grocery list.  If you must impulse buy like yours truly, then be intentional by budgeting for impulse buys (I give myself $25 every month for impulse buys, which saves me from my $200 disasters).  

12. Get free samples from sampleaday.  You might never have to purchase shampoo again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Olive, the other Reindeer: Gifts you can eat

Every Christmas my dad tells the story about the kid who goes to his mom and says, "Mom, I don't like Olive."  And his mom says, "Who is Olive?"  And the kid says, "You know, Olive.  The other reindeer?"  (i.e. Olive the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names).  My dad loves Kid-speak.  In fact, he loves it so much that even after my brother and I stopped using Kid-speak, he still called children "churren" and yellow "lellow" and balloons were still called "bombaloons."  My sweet little 10 year old sister (who is now my sweet little 22 year old sister) sat him down one day and said, "Dad, I need you to stop using those words.  I am 10 years old and don't know which words are real and which words are not real."  Thus ended the day of Kid-speak in the house of Thomas.

Back to Olives.  Every time I go to Seattle I have to stop at Pike Place Market to pay homage to the olive man.  His store is the 31 flavors of olives.  I once asked him if I could try them all and he told me yes.  It was glorious.  Glorious.

With that said, I have come up with a few Christmas presents, which will help your pocket out and 2 of which indulge my love of olives.  The only way you'll save money with these is if you give multiple people the same gift.  You'll need small jars for each of these--I suggest getting them at Old Time Pottery. Let's have money for groceries this month.

The-Best-Bloody-Mary-you'll-ever-have kit.
You'll need: a big bottle of Stoli vodka, a jar of olives, a jar of jalepenos.

Fill 1/4 of your vodka jar with jalepenos and olives.  Pour a bit of olive juice into it if you'd like (I'd like).  If you have the money and want to complete the gift of Bloody Mary, accompany your vodka with a bottle of Zing Zang and tabasco miniatures.

Rosemary Olive Oil
you'll need: a big bottle of extra virgin olive oil (whole foods has a nicely priced one) dried herbs (I'm just using rosemary, but you can fill it with any herb).  It is important for the herbs to be dry because if they aren't the water left in the herbs can grow harmful bacteria.  I have a Rosemary plant outside, so I am drying whole sprigs of this to put into my olive oil.  However, I'm sure you can find what you need readily available at specialty food stores.  Place your dried herbs in your bottles, then pour olive oil over them.

Wonder Salt
This gift will be of no use to someone who does not have a salt grinder.  Make a mixture of coarse Kosher salt, peppercorns, coriander, and dried herbs.  Package.  Fini.

Bacon Bourbon
You'll need a big bottle of bourbon (I suggest using the giant Bulleit bottle for $40 or just good old Four Roses yellow).  Good, smokey bacon--it'll be worth the extra bucks--I mean, who wants putrid bourbon?  I use Benton's bacon (available at our very own Mitchell's Deli).

Cook your bacon.  Make a sandwich for yourself, then pour the grease into the bourbon (1/4 c. of grease to 3 cups of bourbon).  Let it sit for an hour, then place the mixture in the freezer and let it sit for 24 hours in the freezer.  The fat will separate from the bourbon.  Remove from the freezer and strain the bourbon immediately with cheese cloth or a coffee filter.  Voila!  Bacon bourbon.

If you have the extra bucks, accompany your bacon bourbon with angostura bitters, an orange, maraschino cherries, and some brown sugar (or grade B maple syrup) for the ultimate Bacon Old Fashioned kit.

Homemade Vanilla
You'll need: Vanilla Beans (Olive Nation has good prices), your liqueur of choice (you can use vodka, bourbon, rum, or brandy), and sweet little glass bottles.

Use 1 vanilla bean for every 1/3 cup of liqueur.
Place the bean in your bottle and fill the rest with liqueur.  Shake the mixture and allow it to sit, shaking it again every week or so.  The vanilla needs to sit for 2 months before it's ready to use.  So, whoever you give it to will have to wait a month to use it.  But it'll be worth it--you just can't buy good vanilla anymore.

Homemade Sugar Scrub
Technically, this one isn't for consuming--but should you want to, there's nothing stopping you. Click here for the recipe.  If you're giving it as a gift leave the citrus out so it doesn't spoil.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Give Away!! Write a letter, save a post office.

Our RSVP card.
Brandon and I just celebrated our first anniversary.  Wow.  Has it already been a year?   In one year so much has happened, yet it feels as if I was walking down the aisle to Smog's "Let's Move to the Country" no more than 3 months ago.

In one year we have gotten married, both transitioned out of our old jobs and into new ones, have ended one business,  have started a new business, and as if that wasn't enough--we decided to open a shop, too.  Brandon and I just opened This Oktipus Printing Company, a letterpress stationery store in the heart of East Nashville.  This is why I haven't been blogging.  Every spare moment has been dedicated to this little shop.  We feel so blessed to be doing this.

Old Odd Fox Cards
In light of all the things mentioned, the standard gift for a one year wedding anniversary is paper.  So, I feel it is only appropriate to give away paper for the Monday giveaway.  I will be giving away a set of 5 Old Odd Fox notecards and envelopes.  Say hello in the comments below and I will enter you into the drawing.

Also....if you print this blog out and bring it to This Oktipus Printing Company by December 22, Brandon and I will give you 20% off of your total purchase (this does not apply to special orders).

We are located at 1108 B Woodland Street.  Monday through Saturday 11-6ish. For the holiday we will be open on Sunday from 12-4.

For those you who live out of state you can visit our Etsy. E-mail Brandon before you purchase to tell him to discount your purchases.