Free Earrings Giveaway and there’s a catch :-)

It’s not really a catch though – it’s a question. I’m having my first Free Earrings Giveaway at Paper Jewels. All you have to do to enter the Giveaway is send me an email telling me what pair of earrings you’d like to win AND (this is the “catch”) tell me one thing you’d change 🙂

You want those earrings – but in another color? Or, you’d make them in silver, not gold? Or you wish they were smaller (or bigger)? Or – well, you tell me. 🙂

You could win these pretty paper earrings:

Japanese Kanji Onna, or Woman, Lacquered Paper Earrings or these: Lacquered Paper Pansy Earrings with Amethyst and Swarovski Crystals

Or, well, you pick your pair! Just tell me the one thing you’d change 🙂 Hint: these CAN be made to match your bridal gown / wedding party. Or you can choose your honey’s favorite color – and use these for the perfect First Anniversary Gift or Mother’s Day earrings 🙂

The Giveaway runs until April 15, 2010 – so we have something nice to look forward to on Tax Day.

Good luck!

A Silly Question about the U.S. Census

Only, maybe not so much. Like most of us (well here in the U.S. anyway) we recently got a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau (or whatever their official name is) telling us that we were going to get a letter from them soon, requesting accurate updated census information about our household.

Then we got the census form. Then a few days later, we got another piece of mail from them, reminding us how important the Census Data is, and saying if we hadn’t mailed it back yet, would we please remember to do so Real Soon.

Now first off this seems like a lot of (expensive) mail for them to generate. The guys on the news say it’s worth it because there are so many people who won’t bother, and the census people have to send real live humans to each house that doesn’t respond, to get accurate data, etc etc. Okay fine, I’ll go along with that.

But: the instructions on the census form very clearly state that you are supposed to fill out the form with accurate information AS OF APRIL 1, 2010. And they’re already asking why we haven’t returned the form. Note that I am writing this blog entry on March 27, 2010 – and we received the “why haven’t you returned your form yet” postcard FIVE DAYS AGO.

Well, duh, it’s not April 1, 2010 yet. (Gotta wondered who picked April-Fools-Day as a return date, too.)

I know a lot of households won’t change from, say, March 20 to April 1. But, sadly, many of them will. People die, people move out, people split up. The kids leave. The kids come home. His or her kids come home – and need to be counted in census because they have to fit into classrooms.

So is this a case of “you can have it now, or you can have it right”? Do they want us to follow their instructions? If not, why did they include them? And if they DO want us to follow their instructions, why are they bugging us?

Vintage Plus Size Wedding Gowns – Thrifty and Gorgeous

Of course I always think vintage is a great idea – it’s usually thrifty (or downright cheap) – which always helps. And so often, you’ll find clothes made better than new ones. And there are so many beautiful finds!

As, for example, these wonderful wedding gowns I found today at Pink Ribbon Bridal on Etsy:

Plus Size Bridal Gown Pic 2
Vintage Alfred Angelo White Lace Wedding Dress Bridal Gown Plus size 20W BNWT

Plus Size Bridal Gown Pic 1
Vintage Moonlight Plus Size 28 Wedding Dress
I know it’s sometimes hard to find terrific plus size garments when you’re searching vintage – for that matter, it’s always a crapshoot to find any particular size. That’s part of the hunt! So when there are wonderful choices like these, I think they need to be found 🙂 Don’t forget your unique engagement rings because it’s a very special day.

Now I will say, I’m not sure if these fit the definition of “true vintage” because they’re from the 1990s I think. But if I was looking for a wedding gown in those particular sizes, would that bother me? Oh no. I’d be thrilled to find them!

These gowns were purchased from a breast cancer charity – read more about it on her Etsy page so this is just a win-win all the way around.

Of course the most important thing is that you are finding the PERFECT wedding gown for your most special day. At a great price. Talk about a win-win!

DIY – Make a Gift Bow – with Recycled Paper :-)

You know it’s fun to give presents, and it’s very nice when they’re all prettied up to make the gift even more special. And now I’ve found a way to make those fancy bows I used to buy. And to make them out of recycled paper – so (1) you don’t have to spend money on them, and (2) you can make them out of practically any paper so they can be as fun or colorful or unusual as you want to make them.

And it’s easy! Take a look at the results:

DIY Gift Bow Pic 1
DIY Gift Bow Pic 2
Make your own gift bows from recycled paper!

Now I can’t take credit for this – I found instructions at How About Orange Blog.

The blogger is Jessica Jones, and she gives full pics and instructions and even admits she just grabbed what she had on hand – in other words, you can do the same thing and adapt as needed. She’s got lots of other good ideas over there – go read, you’ll see how easy it is.

No more having the money to either buy the present or the wrapping/bows 🙂 Now you can find cool mag pics – fashion mag? Harley catalog? Phone book? (She used that one!)

Easy. Cheap. Recycling-and-reusing. Fun. And did I mention easy? This is of the good!

Creative Cardboard Part Deux – Corrugated Wall

No, really, I’m not obsessed with cardboard. But once I started thinking about cardboard, and how useful it is, and how it’s all over the place, and we usually just throw it away – I couldn’t resist finding more good examples of what we can do with it. Easy, Inexpensive, and Fun Home Decor Idea No. 2 (or 3, or whatever):

Corrugated Cardboard Wall Decor - great idea from Jonathan Fong
Corrugated Cardboard Wall Decor created by Jonathan Fong

That wall looks great! Neutral, strong, geometric, dramatic – take your pick of descriptives. We could all use some version of this! The article even tells how to do it – though I imagine there are as many ways to do it (easily!) as your imagination can come up with patterns.

And if you mess up part of the design, you just cut new cardboard. If your baby scribbles on the wall, you can replace that section (or celebrate her creativity!) If your cat shreds the bottom, so what? Tear up another cardboard box. And reuse the pieces 🙂

Working out of a Cardboard Box – No, Really

And it’s not what you think. At least, if you think it means carrying a box of stuff to wherever you are that day. Nope, this is more of an inspirational piece. These guys have an office with all their furniture (and etc, it looks like) made from cardboard. And it’s fabulous.

Cardboard Box Office - 1
Cardboard Box Office - 1
Cardboard Box Office - 1

The office is in Amsterdam. Is it my imagination, or is there a LOT of inspiration and innovation coming from that corner of the world?

I haven’t tried to post all the pics here – go over to The Fast Company Blog to read the full article. And check out The Little Green Blog which is where I learned about this cool office. Little Green Blog is going on my check-it-a-lot list – there are so many green ideas over here. Not only green – but useful and practical and sensible.

I’m not expecting we’re all going to go out and build our offices out of cardboard. But looking at these pics (and there’s more links to visit for ideas) it reminds me that ordinary materials can be turned into something pretty special. And it makes me want to figure out ways to use cardboard more. In layers, bonded together, cardboard is strong. And it can be – well, you know. Reused, rethought, and recycled 🙂

Gorgeous Red Leather Vintage Bag

Talk about a color lift! And I’m not talking about your roots here. I’m talking about a shot of color you could use every day – red is the “new neutral”. This would be a happy-making bag!

Vintage Red Leather Bag

You know I think vintage is the best shopping ever. And when I find a goodie like this, I want to share! You can see the quality (and there’s several pics, so you get a good look).

This particular bag may or may not be sold by the time you go peek, but this seller – RiffRaffReview on Etsy – has lots of goodies – and more on the way. Check it out!

Eco Felt: Made from Plastic Bottles!

I’m one of those people who makes stuff. I sew, I do crafts, I make things for the house, etc etc. And I’m fairly knowledgeable about fabric. Felt is a fabric that used to be made out of, well, smushed up wool leftovers. It’s always offered great vivid colors, but it ‘pills’ and frays and it’s not sturdy, so oh well.

But! I have been re-educated here. Not only have I found some great colors in oh-so-useful felt, but it is made ENTIRELY from recycled stuff – even better, from recycled bottles! They’ve made a soft fabric – from bottles. And it’s not expensive!

Eco Felt Fabric made from Recycled Bottles

The colors are clear and vivid – and from what the vendor writes, the fabric does NOT fray or fall apart in the wash. (Old-style felt, forget it, you wouldn’t dare toss it in the washer). And she has it in many colors! And she even has it in this camoflauge pattern!

Camouflage pattern eco-felt made from recycled bottlesCamouflage felt fabric!

Now honestly, that wouldn’t be my personal choice – but lots of people would love it (imagine a pillow made with this felt, sitting on your couch in the den).

I will happily promote this vendor – K and C Supplies on Etsy. She is finding / sourcing / selling a product that is not only entirely recycled, but it’s pretty and soft and nice!

Talk about the best of all possible products. Go buy some!

Dryer Sheets – don’t use them – but if you do, REuse them!

So first off I should say that I never use dryer sheets. I don’t think we need them (the only thing that ever gets static-y is the few silk things we’ve got, and I’m totally willing to deal with that). I think it is a deliberate Proctor-and-Grumble-ish advertising invention to make us think we need them. And, we have birds. The fake perfume in the dryer sheets is poison to birds (and to us too, only we are bigger).

But a whole lot of people do use them, and think they need them. So I’m just asking, if you buy them, please do reuse them! Turns out there are a bunch of nifty things to do with them. These ideas aren’t original with me – I’ve gotten this handy list from Daily Green Cheapskate over on Yahoo. (Love that name, by the way.)
Dryer Softener SheetsA few highlights from the “how to reuse dryer sheets” list:

1. Use them more than once. (Back when I did use them, years ago, this totally worked. They’re good for three-four washes at least.)

2. Anti-static dust wipes (use them to clean your monitor and TV screen – they’re great for that).

3. Pot scrubbers and sink / tub scrubs.

4. Dust-free blinds: Not only do spent dryer sheets make a handy wipe for metal and plastic blinds, but the chemicals in them help to repel dust.

5. Get your shine on: When used as a polishing rag, dryer sheets make mirrors and chrome appliances shine. They’re also great for cleaning windows and other glass.

They’re also recommended as sort-of-sachet. Put one in your glove box or underwear drawer so you can smell that creepy sweet scent for ages. (Can you tell I don’t like the smell? Yeah.)

Check out the full article here.

And for even more super useful info on how to go green easily, go to The Green Cheapskate Blog. There are TONS of good ideas there.

And it’s fun. And you’ll feel good about it 🙂