Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birthday Blast

I recently took a 4th of July idea and transformed it into an inexpensive birthday gift.

I wrapped candy with wrapping paper and attached ribbon and star garland to the top to make them look like firecrackers.

Next I added a tag letting my friend know that I hoped her birthday was a blast.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Get Well Cards with a Twist

When one of my friends recently had back surgery, I traded a traditional get well card for something a little different.
 She loves making homemade cards, but she was recuperating in a care facility and couldn't exactly bring along all of her card-making supplies. So, I made some cards she could get started on while recuperating then jazz up when she returned home.

Here's how I did it. I downloaded free coloring sheets from the Web and downsized them to fit on a 4.25 x 5.5 card. I printed them out on white card stock paper and paired them with a set of color pencils and a scrapbooking magazine for inspiration. It was easy and much appreciated.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beat the Summer Heat

Most of us find air conditioners essential to keep cool, but they're also responsible for driving up summer electric bills. With the temperature finally reaching 90 degrees in Minnesota, I thought it was a good time to share some money-saving cooling tips. 

  • Get an air conditioner tune-up. Check with your electric utility for special deals on tune-ups.
  • Sign up for a load management program. Your utility will cycle your air conditioner condenser on and off in 15-minute intervals. Most participants don't even notice when the air conditioner is cycled, and you get a credit on your electric bill in the summer months.
  • Close your shades.
  • Fans use much less energy than air conditioners. Turn up your thermostat and use a fan to keep cool. 
  • Use ceiling fans in the counter-clockwise direction in summer.
  • Don't add heat to your home. Use the grill or microwave to prepare meals.
  • Change your furnace filter once a month.
  • Keep air registers free of obstructions such as furniture.
  • If you have a programable thermostat, program it to automatically go up when you're at work and automatically lower shortly before you come home. Don't have a programable thermostat? Not a problem, just remember to manually set your thermostat at a higher temperature before you leave for extended periods of time.
  • Don't forget to turn off your air conditioner before you leave for vacation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Easy Way to Say Welcome to Your New Home

I recently made this marker board to help my friend Alyssa feel at home in her new apartment. It was cute, easy and affordable. I simply purchased a ceramic tile and vinyl shelf lining from a hardware store, attached with the lining to the back of the tile with Tacky Glue and teamed it with an iron-on monogram and plate holder. I completed the entire gift for under $10, including a pack of dry erase markers.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

60 Reasons to Use Your Library Card

On Thursday I went to the library with a laundry list of things I needed. On my way out the door, I started thinking about how much money I had saved simply by having a library card. So, when I got home, I added it up and it was $60! Here's how the savings break down:

Now that summer weather has finally arrived in Minnesota, I needed a book to read on my patio. Cost to buy: $13.99 Library cost: FREE

I got a couple of movies to watch over the weekend. Cost to rent for 2 nights: $4 Library cost: FREE Bonus: I get to keep them for a week instead of 2 nights.

I needed some magazines to read on my way to South Dakota next week. Cost to buy at a convenience store: $22.77 Library cost: FREE

The Minnesota History Center has a new exhibit about the Greatest Generation. Blake is really interested in World War II, so I wanted to take him to see the exhibit. Our local library has a program that allows you to checkout passes to museums in the Twins Cities area. Minnesota History Center admission for two adults: $20 Library cost: FREE

Total value of what I got: $60.76
What I paid: Nothing

Library Card Tips
  • Go beyond books. Most libraries offer movies, CDs and magazines in addition to books. Additionally, some libraries offer activity bags and museum passes. Visit your library's Web site or ask the librarian for a library overview to learn about all of the things your library offers.
  • Check for special events or programs. Many libraries offer classes, events and seminars for both kids and adults. Most are free.
  • Ask about book clubs and reading programs for kids  — many libraries provide the incentives you need to get your kids to read.
  • Take advantage of the atmosphere. I often head to the library to brainstorm and work on projects. It's fairly quite, they have nice big tables to work on and if you need some inspiration, there's tons of books to help you out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Every Reason to Love Evernote

I always struggled to keep track of the great ideas I found on the Web until I found Evernote. Basically, Evernote lets you "clip" ideas you find on the Web and store them. You can even sort "clippings" according to topic and apply tags according to topics.

No more scrolling through blogs trying to find the cute gift idea for your sister or acquiring mounds of paper with recipes and tutorials you've printed. Best of all, Evernote is free and can also be used with your mobile device.

Want to check it out? Click here


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