June 30, 2008

Hubby & Work

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 pm by bitsypieces

Although I have a little freelance writing income, it’s not enough for us to live.  (It’s barely enough to keep our “emergency fund” padded with cash.)  So, basically, Hubby’s income is our only real means of support.

Unfortunately, a new company is coming in and taking over the business.  As a result, Hubby had two choices:

  • Sign on with the new company.  He’d stay at the same job and the same pay rate.  However, he’d have to work swing shifts (sometimes first shift, sometimes second shift, sometimes third shift).
  • Sign on with a nearby competing company.  He’d work a similar (but not same) job with regular shifts (all first shift), but he’d also get almost a 25% pay cut.

It’s really a dilemma for us.  On one hand, swing shifts are just terrible.  Hubby is the kind of guy who needs regular sleep.  I know it would tear him down physically after a while.  And with Baby on the way, it doesn’t bode well for our family life.

On the other hand, a 25% pay cut is significant.

I hate these types of decisions.

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June 24, 2008

Labor Tricks

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:41 pm by bitsypieces

Ok… I admit it.  I’m about ready to have this baby.  Everything–bassinet, crib, diapers, etc.–is ready for her, so all the material/tangible things are prepared.

And since I’m starting to feel quite uncomfortable, I’d say that she can make her appearance at any time.

The other day someone told me that driving my car over railroad tracks can get labor started.  Frankly, I have a hard time believing it.  Other people have mentioned sex, walking and spicy food as labor inducers.

Anyone else have any other tricks to get labor started?

June 22, 2008

Cheaper Baby Announcements

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:12 pm by bitsypieces

Rather than spend $1-$2 each for photo baby announcements, I have decided to go the route of make-my-own.

I bought Staples brand printable notecards–they’re the size of a standard thank-you note.  I intend to print Baby’s photo on the front (we have a photo printer) and her stats on the inside.  Simple and basic.  Probably not as nice quality as real baby announcements on glossy photo paper, but they’ll do the trick.  I need about 60 total, which would easily cost me $90 or so from a baby announcement store.  The price was $30 for a pack of 100, which means I have plenty of extras, too (which can be used for everything from thank-you notes to birthday cards to holiday greetings).

So I sacrificed quality but saved $60.  Not a bad deal, especially since Hubby thinks I’m crazy for even wanting to send out baby announcements.

The absolute cheapest way would have been to set up a website… but not everyone I know is tech-friendly.

June 20, 2008

Changing Table Alternative

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:07 pm by bitsypieces

When I was deciding on nursery furniture, I looked long and hard at changing tables. On one hand, they were practical and provided storage (a must for anyone who cloth diapers). On the other hand, they were expensive ($99+) uni-taskers (once Baby is out of diapers, most changing tables can’t really be used for anything else).

Since I’m a pretty practical person who prefers to buy items with longevity, I decided against the changing table. Instead, I opted for a solid pine platform twin bed. At the cost of $99–the price of most changing tables–I got a piece of nursery furniture that could be used:

  • As a diaper changing spot
  • As a place to nap while Baby is in her crib
  • As a first bed for our toddler/young child

We left it unfinished and unstained. Once our child gets to the “I want to pick a room theme” stage, I figure we can paint it pink or purple or whatever she wants. Easy peasy! (And who knows… it may even become a guest bed one day.)

As a platform bed, it only needs a mattress (no box spring). Yes… I did have to buy a mattress ($199). But in two years or so we would have needed one anyway for our toddler, so it’s simply an “early” purchase.

We also had to buy something for cloth diaper storage. I opted for a shelf with bins that–after she’s out of diapers–can be used as toy and book storage. At the cost of $40 (with $10 off coupon), it was totally worth it.

Ultimately, my initial investment was much higher ($99 for changing table versus $338 for bed, mattress and storage). But we’ll definitely use the bed for 10+ years, and the storage bins will probably last through most of her young childhood. Overall, I think spending more money now was the wisest choice.

June 17, 2008

Cheap and Healthy Couscous Salad

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:17 pm by bitsypieces

This is a favorite recipe of mine during the summer… all year, actually. It’s frugal, it’s healthy and it’s easy, too. I make a big batch of it, then eat it for lunches and snacks all week long.

COUSCOUS SALAD

Ingredients (measurements are approximate)

  • 1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
  • 3-4 roma diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • Cilantro (fresh or dried)
  • Parsley (fresh or dried)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil

(For the most part, I just toss this together by taste.)

Cook whole wheat couscous according to box directions with frozen corn. (I usually just throw the corn into the couscous water before it boils, and it cooks fine.) Fluff couscous/corn mix and allow to cool. Toss in black beans, diced tomatoes and diced onions. (Onions and tomato amounts should be to taste… I like lots of onion.) Stir in herbs (chop first if using fresh). (I tend to think that fresh cilantro is a must-have, but I’ll also add in a few shakes of dried cilantro to boost the flavor.) Salt and pepper to taste. Lightly toss with some olive oil. (I probably end up using about 1 tablespoon of oil.)

That’s it! Loaded with nutrients and fiber… and sooooo tasty! I highly recommend it.

June 16, 2008

Crunchy versus Soft

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:50 pm by bitsypieces

CRUNCHY ———-ME——————————-SOFT

That’s probably about where I fall on the crunchy/soft continuum.  To define…

CRUNCHY: AKA “granola” or “hippie.”  Typically embraces the principles of Recycle, Reduce and Reuse.  Attire generally includes tie-dye shirts, broomstick skirts, and Birkenstocks.

SOFT: Sometimes known as “yuppie.”  A big consumer who believes “global warming” is a scam.  Vehicles are purchased based on appearance and status rather than gas mileage.  Prefers disposable items for convenience.

I tend to lean a bit more to the crunchy side, although I have my softer tendencies.  My crunchy style is generally based on things like environmentalism, health and ethics.  My softer side shows up when I want convenience.  Here are a few examples:

MY CRUNCH SIDE: I switched out my reusable plastic water bottles for stainless steel versions in an effort to avoid BPAs.  We plan to use cloth diapers and cloth wipes on our baby.  I do not eat beef, chicken or pork.  Whenever possible, I buy used books, clothing and household items.  We switched many of our lightbulbs to CFLs.  I usually use soaps, shampoos, cleansers, toothpaste and cosmetics that are animal-friendly, vegan and/or all-natural.  I tend to buy organic foods when possible.

MY SOFT SIDE: I sometimes buy cases of individual, disposable bottles of water that are easy to grab on my way out the door.  (Although I recycle the plastic.)  I use a harsh, commercial cleanser for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.  I eat seafood, dairy and eggs.  We have regular lightbulbs in the bedroom and bathroom, where I want to avoid the weird cast of CFLs.  There are plenty of non-organic foods that make it into my grocery cart, especially if the organic version is not available.

So, you see, I’m a little bit of both, I guess.  I’d like to be crunchier, but I’m not quite sure I have the motivation or dedication to take the plunge.  I like to think that every little bit helps, though.

June 13, 2008

Mineral Makeup

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:24 pm by bitsypieces

So for my previous Fight the Frump Friday at Fussypants post, I discussed my 5-minute makeup routine. To kind of stick with the theme, this week I’m sharing my general thoughts about mineral makeup.

For a few years I’ve been using Bare Escentuals Mineral Makeup. I just use one color of foundation–no mixing for me–and will sometimes apply a light dusting of Mineral Veil, too. The Mineral Veil is a translucent powder that’s supposed to give you that “air brushed” look.

I have not tried any of their eye makeup or other cosmetics.

So does it work? Well, there are a lot of things I like about mineral makeup in general. I prefer the application of mineral makeup over regular liquid foundation. I also think it looks a lot more natural, and it’s easier to find a matching shade. Personally, I also like that mineral makeup can be applied very lightly–it’s simple to avoid that caked-on appearance and that weird line of definition between chin and neck.

However, Bare Escentuals Mineral Makeup isn’t the best for dry skin. I have super dry skin, and sometimes it ends up looking flaky after I apply the foundation. Also, in some cases I think Bare Escentuals actually enhances my fine lines instead of covering them.

Just recently, however, I heard of a company called Everyday Minerals. According to some reviews I’ve read, this brand of mineral makeup tends to be better for dry skin. It’s also a lot less expensive than Bare Escentuals. As a bonus, the company offers a sample kit that includes 3 shades of foundation, 1 shade of blush, and 1 shade of concealer–all for free! You just pay the shipping cost (about $3). It’s a really inexpensive way to try out mineral makeup and find the shade that suits you.

I ordered their free sample kit, and it recently arrived in the mail. I haven’t had a chance to try any of it yet, but plan to do so this weekend. I can’t wait! I’m really hoping Everyday Minerals solves my dry, flaky skin issue, as well as does something to minimize my wrinkles instead of spotlighting them. (Note: The sizes of the free samples are very decent, too. I expect a free sample size of Everyday Minerals foundation could last me a month since I use it so infrequently.)

June 12, 2008

Alternative Vaccination Schedule

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:55 pm by bitsypieces

We’re thinking about using an alternative vaccination schedule for our baby… probably the one recommended by Dr. Sears.  Our reasons:

  • Reported allergic reactions or negative side effects
  • Inability to determine which vaccination is producing a negative reaction if given numerous injections at one time
  • The possibility of an “overload” of aluminum from some vaccines

The schedule we’ll use will give our baby all of her vaccinations… she’ll just get them at different intervals so they’re “spread out” over the years.  I tend to think this combines the best of both worlds: She gets all the necessary vaccinations, but side effects and negative reactions are minimized.

Now I just need to find out if the pediatrician we chose is okay with this alternative schedule.

June 10, 2008

How much do babies cost?

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:38 pm by bitsypieces

Hubby and I are wondering if we’ll save money during the first six months of Baby’s life.  Since this is all new to us, we really have no idea.  This is how we broke down our spending opportunities after Baby arrives:

Money-Saving Opportunities

  • We’ll be cooking at home more.  Much more.  (Right now we eat out at least 4x week.)
  • We’ll be driving less.  (Sometimes I think we make up errands to give ourselves something to do.)
  • We’ll be shopping less.  (I know we sometimes go shopping for the entertainment value.)

Money-Spending Opportunities

  • All those little things babies need (“I can’t find her pacifier!”  “She hates this type of bottle!”  “We’re out of Mylicon drops!”)

Since we’re using cloth diapers (already purchased) and I plan to breastfeed, the feeding and diapering costs should be minimal.  I think–since we won’t have to deal with those two big baby costs–we should actually save money after Baby comes.  Hubby thinks Baby will need so many extras anyway that we’ll spend the same amount.

Anyone want to share their own experience?

June 6, 2008

My 5-Minute Makeup Routine

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:36 pm by bitsypieces

In honor of Fussypant’s Fight The Frump Friday, I’d like to share my 5-minute makeup routine. I don’t do this every day. But I will apply this makeup if I’m going out for a day of errands or to dinner.

(Note: As I get older–I’m moving closer to 40 with each passing minute–I’ve been thinking about trying to do this 5-minute routine every morning. Part of me thinks Hubby would appreciate seeing a glowing wife rather than the uneven, red skin that usually stretches across my face. And I confess that there are times I scoot out to the supermarket without a bit of makeup on. God forbid I ever run into an ex-boyfriend during those “quick errands.” But I suppose, in all honesty, my mortification would be all of my own making. Especially since my makeup routine takes just 5 minutes. But I digress.)

5-Minute Routine

  • Moisturize. (I have very very dry skin.)
  • Prepare mineral foundation. (Just like on the informercials. I put a little in the lid of the mineral container, swirl my brush around, and tap off the excess.)
  • Buff face with minerals. (I usually do this two or three times… but it’s a quick job… it only takes a few seconds.)
  • Apply long-lasting lipstick.
  • As long-lasting lipstick dries, apply mascara. (Actually, I only wear mascara if I’m going out to dinner. Otherwise, I skip this step.)
  • Apply lip gloss (if I don’t, the long-lasting lipstick looks like wall paint.)

That’s it! Simple, really. I don’t wear blush or eyeshadow (and seldom even wear mascara). I don’t curl my eyelashes (mine are almost too short to curl… I have typical short/sparse Asian eyelashes). And my mineral foundation doubles as concealer.

So I guess my makeup routine is mineral foundation, lipstick and occasionally mascara. It’s easy… and it’s just enough for me to feel pretty.

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