Volunteerism: A Thrifty Activity for the Entire Family


Filed under: Blogroll — Francesca @ 9:00 am

Taking time out of your busy schedule to help someone else is an excellent way to earn your “heart of gold” title. It has become incredibly easy to contribute your time instead of money and is a great way to help others while still being conscious of a tight budget. 

As an added bonus, signing up for a volunteer opportunity will enable you to pass some of your spare time in a manner that will help encourage your children to be charitable in the future.

What are the Perks of Volunteering?

There are a wide variety of organizations that need volunteer assistance across the country so it should be a cinch to find an organization within your own community. For instance, if you reside in a city in Georgia, Macon, Athens, and Atlanta volunteering opportunities are abundant and you can easily find a good fit for your entire family.

For instance, if you want to spend time outside getting exercise, you can look for a group that is working to clear a nature trail, re-mulch a school playground, or clean up a neighborhood park.

Alternatively, if bad weather is expected and you do not have the money to entertain everyone indoors, you could volunteer at a local food bank. This option will make it easier to teach your children about the importance of treating everyone with respect regardless of their financial situation, and it will also enable you to fill some of your spare time in a meaningful manner without having a negative impact on your budget.

The Emotional Benefits of Volunteering

Even if you had unlimited financial resources, research indicates that it would be more beneficial for you to volunteer your time whenever possible instead of always resorting to writing a check. In fact, people who volunteer on a regular basis tend to be more physically and mentally healthy, and they also receive a boost in their self-confidence.

This can be especially critical for children and teenagers, which makes volunteering as a family a good idea. Additionally, you will be able to make new social connections while helping others, and this could help your personal or professional life.

Volunteering During a Staycation

If you do not have enough money to go out-of-town for your family vacation, you could consider volunteering locally as part of a staycation. Ultimately, it is crucial for your entire family to spend quality time together, and this can become hindered by daily routines.

However, if everyone takes a staycation break together, you can alternate between volunteering and doing inexpensive leisure activities so that everyone will receive the benefits associated with making a positive difference in the world and having time to relax.

No matter which volunteering opportunity you are interested in, it is important to take a few minutes to research exactly what will be expected of you so that you do not get in over your head. After all, the point of volunteering as a family to have an enjoyable experience that does not cost any money so that you can fill some time in a manner that helps the community.

Unfortunately, people who sign up for something that they are not qualified to do are much more likely to end up giving up on the idea of volunteering in the future. However, as long as you can avoid this potential issue, volunteering as a family should be beneficial for everyone.

 

Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and Georgia native. Volunteerism has been a huge part of her family time and has been an excellent way to build memories. Atlanta volunteering opportunities are plenteous for Georgia residents. Whether your family enjoys rescuing abandoned pets or painting murals for community improvement, there is something for everyone.

 

Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/f8rCAh

 

Why Replica Furniture is Okay and Places to Buy Modern Replica Furniture


Filed under: Blogroll — Francesca @ 11:15 am

Over the years, people have come to love furniture that is unique, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. This is one of the major reasons why antique and designer furniture pieces have become hugely popular. Unfortunately, the rarity, high cost and fragility of this type furniture has prevented many people from acquiring it.

To meet this demand for high quality and unique furniture, the replica furniture industry was created and has been growing rapidly. This industry provides furniture that is equal or almost equal to designer furniture in appearance, quality, aesthetics and comfort but at a much cheaper price. So basically, your home or office gets the look you’ve always been dreaming of but without having to break the bank.

There are arguments that replica furniture is not as high quality as the real one, or that it does not produce the same amazing décor. The truth is, if you chose the right type of replica or reproduction furniture you will discover the quality to be the same and in some cases even higher. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that some replica furniture is replica only because it is made in a different country than the designer one and not because of a difference in quality.

Advantages of replica furniture

The use of reproduction furniture has various advantages over using the real designer furniture.

1. Way cheaper – designer furniture is usually expensive because of the name behind the brand. Replica furniture does not have a specific designer thus the price is much lower. Instead of buying only one piece for thousands of dollars, you can buy a whole outdoor dining set. You get more for less.

2. Customization – as a buyer, you cannot go to a designer and demand that he or she design a certain piece in a specific manner. So you are forced to buy whatever is available even if you do not like some aspects of it. With modern replica furniture, you can find a local seller and ask for a customized piece.

3. Variety – in most cases, antique or modern designer furniture is limited in the number of different designs available. You may find yourself buying the same furniture that dozens of other buyers have purchased. Reproduction furniture on the other hand tends to be produced in a wide variety of designs to fit different customers.

4. Availability – To find a certain designer piece, you need to go further than your local furniture store. Designer pieces are usually found in specific stores. Replica furniture can be found almost anywhere and if you wish, you can even order it on the internet.

5. Quality – As mentioned before, replica furniture is not replica because it is of a lower quality. It is possible to find very high quality and durable replicas that compete with even the best of designer furniture.

Where to buy replica furniture

The increasing popularity of modern replica furniture has made it more available than ever. Buyers have the option of buying it at replica furniture stores or at an online shop. For those in Australia, HomeQ is an excellent online store that sells high quality replica furniture. Simply visit the website, browse available products and choose the one that meets your requirements.

For those in UK, Vertigo Interiors is a good choice when it comes to buying replica furniture online. In the US, some good stores include Elite Modern and Instyle Modern.

Important buying tips

To ensure that you get the full value for your money, here are some tips to help you in purchasing the best modern replica furniture.

• Check the quality of the piece before you buy it. Ensure that it is hardy and durable.

• Go for hardwood furniture to ensure that it lasts long.

• Metal replicas are also good especially for outdoor use.

• Ensure that the design of the furniture you intend to buy will fit in well with the existing décor in your home. If not, you can always look for customized replicas.

• Compare among prices of different sellers of modern replica furniture in order to get the best deal.

You no longer have to go by with low quality and ugly furniture simply because you do not have the money for designer one. Decide what designer furniture pleases you most then go out and look for a cheaper replica.

 

Image:  Wickerfurniture on Flickr

Five Money Saving Tips for the New Arrival


Filed under: Blogroll — Francesca @ 5:13 pm

According to the financial experts at CNN Money, the average cost of raising a child over the course of 18 years is about $241,000. That includes groceries, daycare, clothing, health care, education and all the miscellaneous expenses that kids seem to generate on a daily basis. If you have more than one child, multiply those expenses times the number of kids in your family, and you could be wondering how you’ll ever keep up. Before you contemplate the benefits of getting a part-time job to keep a roof over your head, check out these five money-saving tips that you can implement from birth, to help keep your family’s budget balanced.

1. Buy Pre-Owned Baby Equipment

Babies grow so quickly that they often outgrow their equipment long before it wears out. You may have a number of friends or relatives with kids who no longer need car seats, portable changing tables, toys, games, and even books that they have moved beyond. Ask to borrow these items or purchase them at a deeply discounted rate compared to new items at the local baby megastore. Garage sales and consignment stores are also great places to find quality equipment and baby gear that you can buy at a fraction of the cost, and even resell when you are finished with it to maximize the return on your original investment.

2. Consider Breastfeeding

Did you know that mothers who breastfeed their babies can save between $1,500 and $3,000 on baby formula per year? And that’s just the cost of formula. It doesn’t even include the cost of bottles, nipples, disposable liners, bottle and nipple brushes for cleaning – which all add up to be quite a significant expense from the day you take home your bundle of joy until she celebrates her first birthday (or longer).

Breastfeeding expenses are minimal in comparison. For example, you may require a few nursing bras or tank tops that you can purchase rather inexpensively at your local department store or discount retailer. You may also choose to purchase a nursing pillow for the best positioning of your baby as she nurses every two hours for the first couple months of her life.

The cost of a well-made and supportive nursing pillow such as a Comfort & Harmony nursing pillow Mombo design is usually less than $50 for the pillow and a washable cover. This is a significant savings over the cost of baby formula. You will not have to buy a bunch of pillows over the course of the year either. One pillow with two covers will last at least as long as you nurse.

3. Make of List of Not so Important Items

When you are having a baby, especially if it is your first pregnancy, you are bombarded with ads and advice and books telling you about all the special items you need for your baby and your home. Make a list of the essentials – as in diapers, receiving blankets, clothes for your baby, an approved car safety seat, and a sturdy diaper bag.

Really, when it comes right down to it, you do not need a bunch of expensive convenience items like a baby wipe warmer, or high-end, designer baby furniture. Along with a few essentials, your baby simply needs you, her parents, for the first few months of her life. It’s that simple.

4. Let your Friends Give a Baby Shower

Even if you are not a “traditional” mom-to-be, and you do not love the idea of sitting in a room full of women oohing and ahhing over tiny, pink ruffled things, think of the money you will save when you register for baby items. Your friends and family want to share in your joy and will be delighted to purchase these gifts for you. Refer to your essentials list and you could end up with many of these items even before your baby arrives.

5. Save Money for Maternity Leave

If you are going to taking the standard maternity/paternity leave from your job, or are taking additional time off to be with your newborn, planning ahead financially is a good idea. Try to save a percentage of your salary during the nine months of pregnancy so you’ll have a nest egg to fall back on right after your baby is born.

With a little planning and some creative ideas, you can begin saving money as you raise your child from day one. If you continue these wise financial habits throughout her life, you may just find yourself well under the average cost of raising a child. Along with your new little one, that’s something to celebrate for the next 18 years.

With a family of 6, Lisa Coleman understands the importance of saving when planning for another addition into the family. She was successful at breastfeeding her children with the helpful support of a quality nursing pillow like the Comfort & Harmony nursing pillow Mombo design and the help of her immediate family.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonbarles/9215713810/

 

 

Replica Furniture Vs. Authentic Design


Filed under: Company Headlines — Francesca @ 10:56 am

Once you have gotten over the excitement of moving into your new home, you will probably start to notice how bare your house looks. In order to create a warm and inviting look, many homeowners opt to purchase antique furniture. Although, antique furniture can be quite pricey and difficult to find. Fortunately, you can choose to purchase replica furniture with the same antique flair. Here are a couple of reasons why replica furniture is just as good as authentic design:

High Quality

Replica furniture can offer a touch of class. They are made of high quality material that is made to last. This type of furniture can battle the test of time. There are dozens of replica antique furniture that look and feel the same as authentic designs. The great thing about these pieces is that you can match them with contemporary looking pieces to add a modern vibe to your home.

Very Affordable

Shopping for antique furniture can put quite a dent in your budget. Not only are these pieces very expensive, looking for the right ones can take time. Replica furniture are a lot more affordable and are easily accessible. You can find lovely pieces online and have them shipped right to your door. This means that you can save time and money. You don’t have to spend a fortune to create a shabby chic looking living space.

Homey Aesthetics

Although minimalist contemporary designs are very popular right now in the world of interior design, antique furniture bring about a cozy and inviting ambiance. These pieces bring a touch of class to any home. Vintage or retro looking furniture are great conversation pieces that you can add to any room in your house. These types of furniture add class and character to your living space. Consider a sturdy leather armchair or a beautiful dark wood china cabinet for your living area.

Functionally Sound

Replica furniture serves the same function as authentic design pieces. They are made for any type of home and are impressively ergonomic. These pieces are made with comfort and function in mind.

Thousands of designs

When choosing the right furniture for your home, you will be pleased to find that there are many choices for replica furniture. You don’t need to limit yourself to the furniture at your local antique shop. There are thousands of designs to choose from when shopping for replica furniture. You can find all the pieces you need to create the space you want to call home.

No need for repairs

It is possible to find antique furniture in second-hand stores. The problem with these pieces are that they might be damaged or broken. In order to have them repaired or restored, you will have to look for an antique expert. You cannot just hire anyone to repair an antique piece. Having an authentic piece of furniture like this repaired will cost a lot of money. By purchasing a replica, you can be certain that the piece of furniture is sturdy and functional. You don’t have to worry about damage or broken pieces.

Image credit:  jinkazamah on Flickr

Save money by making your home sustainable


Filed under: Blogroll — Francesca @ 4:22 pm

Many homeowners realize the importance of sustainable living for the environment, but may not realize that adding sustainable features to their homes can also save them money. While not everyone can achieve a fully sustainable home, it is possible to dramatically reduce one’s impact on the environment while simultaneously reducing the amount of money spent each month on utilities.

An extensive remodelling project is often unnecessary if homeowners first look at where they use the most energy in their home. By making changes in these areas, homeowners can achieve the biggest impact with the least amount of spending.

Heating and cooling

Heating and cooling systems traditionally use the most energy in a home. There are several ways that homeowners can reduce the amount of energy they use, and bring down their overall expenses as well. If a home has centralized heating and cooling system, it can be zoned so that only the areas currently in use are being heated or cooled. Likewise, space heaters can be installed in only the rooms requiring heat rather than heating the entire house. Gas heaters produce about one-third fewer emissions than electric, and using fans instead of a cooling system help to reduce electric bills.

Insulation, roofing and windows

Ensuring that a home’s insulation, roofing, and windows are updated will help reduce heating and cooling costs over time. Many homes are under-insulated, meaning that they require more energy to both heat and cool. Similarly, old roofing can allow heat to escape during cold months, and cause cooling systems to be less efficient in warmer months. There are many options available for sustainable roofing materials and systems, and a roofing restoration specialist can be an asset when deciding which best suits your needs. (For help with some of these decisions, click here).

In the same way, replacing windows can help save money on heating and cooling. Newer windows are better insulated and can be installed to maximize sunlight while simultaneously increasing airflow through the house. Property installed and oriented, they can all but eliminate the need for a cooling system.

Well-shaded veranda

A somewhat larger project that can help reduce cooling costs is the addition of a well-shaded veranda. These were very common in earlier construction but have fallen by the wayside with newer model homes. Materials for a veranda can either be reused from another building site/project, or made from recycled materials. This will help reduce the environmental impact of building an addition, and purchasing re-purposed materials can often be less expensive than buying them new. (You can find more information on sustainable building solutions and design here).

Household appliances

White goods (major household appliances such as washers, driers, refrigerators, dishwashers, etc.) are another main source of energy consumption in most homes. As appliances age, they become less energy-efficient. Even at their best, older appliances cost more to run than newer, energy-efficient models. Furthermore, older appliances are likely to cost more to maintain. As they begin to wear out, it can actually be more cost effective to replace old appliances with newer, energy efficient ones.

When looking for new appliance, it is important to refer to the information provided by the Energy Rating Labelling scheme. This system provides specific information on an appliance’s energy usage, as well as a general five star rating scale. In addition to this scheme, appliances that use water, such as dishwashers, are rated by the Water Efficiency Labelling scheme. It uses a similar system to rate the water usage of applicable appliances.

Renewable energy sources

One final way to increase sustainability while reducing cost long term is by switching to renewable energy sources. Both wind and solar power greatly reduce or eliminate emission, and the savings in energy costs will eventually pay off the cost of installation. It is important for homeowners to check with local regulations to see what can and cannot be installed on their homes. This is another area where it is important to check with a professional to see which type of energy system is best for both your home and your local environment.

These money-saving techniques can provide wonderful incentives for homeowners that may have been concerned about the cost of moving toward a more sustainable home, balancing the cost of improvement with long term financial savings.

Image:  krossbow on Flickr

How To Create Recycled Fashions


Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines — Francesca @ 9:00 am

Many once out-dated fashion trends have made a comeback and are now modern trends. In the fashion industry, what goes around comes around. Today’s fashion items would probably become out dated soon then become trendy again in the future. However, you can be creative and create your own fashion trends through fashion recycling. Fashion recycling involves many factors including shopping in thrift stores and modifying current fashion items in your wardrobe. Reducing the carbon footprint involves taking personal responsibility and making certain sacrifices. Luckily, you can do fashion recycling without sacrificing your sense of style.

Upcycling

This involves the creation of new fashion items from old or cast off items. Upcycling has many applications. It includes various practices including knitting sandals out of grocery bags and reworking old jewellery to make new pieces altogether.

Shopping Your Closet

No matter how careful you are with your expenditure, you have probably made the mistake of buying an item that you know will not be worn. There are many reasons why people do not wear some of the clothes they purchase. Some clothes may not fit well while others become out dated. It is important to know that you can still give such items a second lease of life by making a few modifications. Here are tips on how you can modify old fashion items

Embellishment

You can add these onto old plain T-shirts and dresses. Sometimes a simple top can be too basic to be interesting. This offers you the chance to show off your style by adding a few statement-making pieces. Common cloth embellishments include old fabric pieces, broken jewellery, beading or charms and laces among others.

Length

Add length to that once-beloved mini skirt by adding ruffles to the bottom. The ruffles can be cut off from other cast off items or new fabrics. Choose fabrics that you love. Make sure the ruffles match with the cloth. You can leave the ruffle hem raw to give the cloth an edgy look.

Be Creative

Turn your once favourite dress into a skirt. Many people have dresses whose fabrics they love but do not like the fit of their bodices. You can easily turn such dresses into skirts. It involves making a new waistband for the skirt out of matching piece of fabric and adding some elastic. Remove the dress’ bodice and reattach the skirt to the new waistband.

You can recycle your old woollen sweater into a nice felted headband. First, wash the sweater in a washing machine on hot then dry it in the dryer. The dry sweater will be a little smaller than its original size. Cut the waistband off the sweater and open it up. Adjust the band so that it fits your head. Resew the side seams. Voila, you have a nice winter accessory.

One of the simplest ways to get recycled fashions is by purchasing used fashion items from thrift stores, consignment shops and garage sales. Many of the items sold through such markets are still fashionable and have little wear. Purchasing items from thrift stores allows you to minimize unnecessary waste and pollution associated with manufacturing and transporting new items from overseas. You can also upcycle items you find in these venues into something you love.

There are many thrift stores throughout the U.K. Consignment shops allows you to sell old fashion items and share the profits with the stores. Head out for a garage sale whenever you have a free weekend to look for used fashion items. To get the best items, shop early on the first day of the sale. Consignment stores and garage sales offer a wide range of items. You have to shop often to find the items you want.

Lauren Mackey is a fashion blogger. When she’s not writing about fashion she works for www.pizazzonline.co.uk.

Image:  epSos.de on Flickr

Three Tips When It Comes To Shopping For Clothing Online


Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines — Francesca @ 11:17 am

Many people love shopping online, but one area that frightens them is the clothing section of online retailers’ sites. While it may be a little daunting to purchase clothes online because you can’t see, feel, or try anything on, there are ways to ensure your shopping experience is a smooth one and that you will get items that are absolutely perfect for you and your body.

Continue reading for a list of three tips that will help you the next time you are searching for a new great outfit on the World Wide Web.

Use Built-In Tools to Find Clothes That Fit

Many websites, such as the official GUESS website, now offer consumers the chance to virtually try on their clothes before they purchase them. GUESS, in particular, uses a program called TrueFit. You put in detailed information about your body, including your height and weight, for example, and then the program will tell you how a particular article of clothing is likely to fit on your frame. For example, a pair of jeans may be too tight or a shirt may be too long if you are petite. These extra perks make shopping online a lot easier and a lot less stressful, helping you find clothes that you will love.

If a site you love to shop on does not yet offer services like GUESS’ TrueFit, you can go with your measurements for your bust, hips, and waist and then compare them to the measurements provided on the clothing you are thinking about purchasing.

Shop on the Most Secure Sites Only

Although there are countless online retailers selling a variety of clothing items and it may be tempting to just go with any site you find that has something you want, you need a discerning eye in order to determine whether or not a site is really secure enough to shop on or not. Shopping only on secure websites that provide checkout methods that encrypt your data will save you from falling victim to crimes like identity fraud or fraudulent credit card use.

Sites like Epinions and BizRate make it easy to determine if an online retailer you don’t know enough about is really safe and reliable or not. Check out the reviews on a company before shopping from it. Once on a site, look for the padlock icon or the https in the address bar to ensure it is encrypted and secure.

Never give out personal information like your bank account information or your social security number. No retailer needs that information. When it comes to making online transaction SellCell who help people trade in old unwanted items offer this piece of advice: “All you should have to give for an order is your name, address, contact information, and credit card number or PayPal email address, depending upon your preferred payment method.”

It’s advice that is worth remembering whether you are are buying clothes, phones, or anything else online.

Returns are Easier with Brick and Mortars

If you are worried about having to return an item that you ordered online, consider shopping only from clothing retailers that also have brick and mortar locations that will readily accept returns. This will prevent you from having to pay any additional return shipping costs.

spends most of his time writing about technology and gadgets, and enjoys offering tips and advice when making purchases online.

How to Get By After Being Denied Disability


Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines — Francesca @ 12:57 pm

Most Americans have no problem with waking up in the morning, heading out to their job and working hard for a living. Unfortunately, this option can sometimes be taken away from an individual if they suffer a serious long-term injury. Luckily, many of these individuals can receive disability benefits to assist them during the time that they’re unable to earn a living. Unfortunately, however, a person may sometimes be turned down for these benefits. In these situations, it’s imperative for an individual to understand how to survive financially.

Seek Community HelpLuckily, a person’s local community often has a variety of social services that they can make use of. From local churches to food banks, countless people in communities across America step forward to help out their fellow citizens. Many organizations will help with rent, utilities bills, food and a variety of other needs that must be met.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to track down all of these organizations. Luckily, contacting a single social service organization is often enough. This is because these organizations will usually have the contact information of others, so it isn’t often especially difficult to find help in an area.

Look into SNAP Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known by many simply as “food stamps,” can provide a great social safety net after being denied disability benefits. This is a government program that allows financially needy individuals to purchase food in their time of need.

Luckily, this process isn’t a difficult one. Applications are done on a state-by-state basis, but the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service provides plentiful information on their own website. In fact, they have a full list of the states that allow a SNAP benefits application to be filled out online.

Seek out Legal Help

One of the biggest mistakes that many people make upon being denied disability benefits is simply giving up. In reality, the bulk of disability claims are denied initially, but this doesn’t mean that a person isn’t eligible. Sometimes a simple mistake can result in a denied claim.

This is why a person should always seek out legal help after a denial. An attorney can help pinpoint the exact cause of a denial and file the appeal that’s necessary to request a review of the initial denial. In many cases, this results in benefits being granted.

Get Help with Medical Bills

Some of the biggest costs related to living with a disability are those related to medical bills. Even when a person suffers a minor injury, these bills can bankrupt them; so when an individual suffers a major disability, they can quickly face financial ruin. What many people don’t realize, however, is that with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many individuals who weren’t eligible for Medicaid before now are.

Upon the passing of the ACA, many states expanded their Medicaid systems to cover individuals with extremely low incomes. For those who are facing a major disability and are unable to work, this can be an absolute blessing. A person should look online for their state’s specific Medicaid requirements to see if they meet them. If not, many hospitals offer indigent patient programs, so it can help to check into these as well.

Surviving after being denied disability can be difficult, but it is by no means impossible. There are a variety of organizations and programs in all areas in America that can help those who are facing financial difficulties due to a disability. A person only needs to be a bit proactive in seeking out and using these helpful tools. Additionally, it never hurts to seek out legal help. Since many disability requests are granted after an appropriate appeal, this step can go a long way in helping.


No matter what the problem may be, there is always a solution to the issue. Handling denied disability can be quite challenging when you do not know the right steps to take. While searching through the web, writer Soriah Fleury found a website that is able to provide you with free consultation athttp://www.disabilitydenials.com/ask-a-question-to-a-lawyer-online.html. She hopes this information can come in handy one day for someone in need of guidance on how to handle denied disability.

How I Had My Dream Wedding In A Budget


Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines — Francesca @ 2:05 pm

Ever since I watched those Disney fairy-tale movies as a kid, my dream was to feel like a princess on my wedding day. And as a young girl, I thought that everything was possible. But after getting engaged and realizing the cost of having a wedding, I knew I had to forego some details and just be practical. So after thinking it through and striking a balance, I still managed to have my dream wedding while not busting my budget! For all engaged couples who want to know my secrets, here are some things I did that allowed me to cut corners and still have the perfect wedding!

Be firm with your vendor.

I was a June bride, which was definitely a busy time for many wedding vendors. This means the more bookings they have, the more likely they make a mistake. My wedding was supposed to be on a Friday evening, and I had already signed the venue with the vendor. The next day they called up me to let me know that they accidentally double-booked me. Instead of just accepting it, I was firm with them and politely told them that I would probably look for another venue. With luck, they offered me their Saturday schedule at the same price as a Friday! That saved me $50 per guest, which means I already saved more than $11,000 right on the bat!

So when your vendor makes a mistake, be polite AND firm and remember that you get the upper hand in negotiation. Show that you are dissatisfied and hope that they give you a better offer. Nothing to lose on your part and you get a small window of opportunity to get something better.

Get references from your venue.

If your venue could refer you to their preferred wedding vendors, you might be able to score a good discount. When I was looking for a great deal for hair and make up for me and my bridesmaids, I paid the preferred vendor $200 less than the market price. Of course, do your own research as well before making your choice so you know if you’re getting a good bargain or not.

If you could get it for free, don’t buy.

You might have had friends and relatives who recently got married. It wouldn’t hurt to ask around if they would be able to lend you some of the items they used at their wedding. The veil that I wore on my wedding was my best friend’s and would have cost me $50. But since it was borrowed, it was free. My mother-in-law knew an ordained minister who officiates weddings for free. He only asks to donate to any St. Jude organization to honor his deceased daughter.

Negotiate and think it through before saying yes.

My fiancé and I prefer to have live music instead of a less expensive DJ at our wedding reception. So when we negotiated with our favorite band, I didn’t agree with the steep price right away. After a few days I called back again to ask for a better price that we could afford. The band leader did agree and gave us less than half of the regular price as long as we pay in cash. Now that made me finally say yes!

Looking back at our wedding last year, it’s not only the event that made me smile but also the savings we had! A great chunk of money that we can easily put toward something less romantic but a hundred times more important—our own house.

Andrea Barnes is a contributing blogger for Presidents’ Quarters Inn, a romantic wedding venue in Savannah, GA.

Image:  Katsunojiri on Flickr

Buttons Up! 5 Creative Ideas to Make Button Crafts


Filed under: Blogroll — Francesca @ 12:38 pm

Crafts have been a hobby of many women for a long time. For women who love to use their hands, and spend quality time chit chatting with friends while they design and produce fun projects, crafts give an opportunity to stay social and productive at the same time. Recently, buttons have become a favorite item to include in many craft projects. These versatile accessories can add flair to any design.

For women with the knack for and desire to create something new, here are five project ideas to make crafts using buttons.

1.       Book cover – For women who love to sew, creating a new covers and items other than clothing can be a fun challenge with very useful results. Sew a cover that goes around a book or notepad. Then, add the finishing touch with a beautiful button that compliments the fabric and design. Book covers can be for textbooks, novels, or even journals and are used by people of all ages, from students to retirees. Because they are used by so many people, they make very versatile gifts to have prepared at all times.

2.       Hair pin – Hair pins and bold styles are back in fashion and girls of all ages love accessorizing with these unique pieces. To create a hairpin, simply purchase a supply from your local drug store, and begin gluing the buttons to the pin itself. You can add extra flair by adding feathers or flowers to the pin and finishing it off with a button to make it unique and stylish at the same time.

3.       Jewelry – From necklaces to earrings, there are many ideas for making jewelry using buttons. The fun part about jewelry making is you the designer have the ability to make it as big and bold, or as subtle as you choose. Buttons give even more autonomy to do this because they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Make each piece personal to the person who will be wearing it by selecting their favorite colors or patterns.

4.       Baby shoes – Baby booties have been sewn for years. But adding a button to the side of them can not only add a touch of style, but also create a way to secure the bootie easier on the child’s foot. There can be as many or as few buttons as you choose, but with smaller pieces, one or two buttons is typically enough.

5.       Leg Warmers – This style of clothing has come back in style both for a functional aspect of keeping legs warm, and a stylish aspect of pairing with leggings for an extra accessory. Create leg warmers with buttons along the side to create a unique and fun look that will stand out in a subtle but stylish way.

Buttons are fun accessories to play with for design and crafting, and have recently become a trend in the world of fashion. Create gifts for your family and friends using these unique tips and adding a touch of flair with the classic, yet stylish accessory.

 

Resources:

http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/design-photography-courses/introduction-to-interior-design.aspx

http://www.pinterest.com/mountainash83/recycled-thrifty-crafts/

http://thefrugalgirls.com/fun-crafts

 

Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges.

Image: hill.josh on flickr