If you've been reading Momma Told Me for a while then you know all about Momma's frugal side. How all of my clothing growing up was from the second hand store, every Summer I'd practice mathematics calculating coupon and sale prices, and that the large majority of our gifts were often handmade. The older I grew, the more I'd contemplate this need to save when our family had no seeming need to be quite so frugal. After all we lived in a nice home with new electronics, and our kitchen had the fanciest gadgets and gizmos. That's not to say my father didn't work hard, and very long hours, to support our family- but we surely were not living meal to meal.
The holidays were where I always seemed to feel this frugality the most. If I wanted to have a My Little Pony birthday party it would instead have to be a 'My Friend Pony' party because Momma wasn't about to pay triple the price for the same cartoon horses, just with different names. One holiday season, as I clung to one of the hottest toys of the season, full on melt-down mid-store, I at last let out a scream of frustration, "Why can't we buy the 'good stuff'? It's not like we're poor!" Naturally, being the sort of parent she was, Momma shut the tantrum down promptly, pulling the item from my hand and slapping my wrist as she answered rather calmly, "Because, daughter, you can buy the same exact thing, with a different name, for half the price. Why spend more, when you can spend less?"
Of course, today, being money smart doesn't mean you have to make compromises. In fact, smart shoppers can save plenty over retail pricing on name brands and products they use every day when they make smart retailer choices. That's exactly why I'm a 99er. Not only are there several 99 Cents Only Stores in my hometown, but their wide range of inventory covers everything from fresh produce to bedding and pet supplies. Even better, their stock is always changing as new items hit the shelves, so I know I'm in for some amazingly fun shopping whenever I visit!
With this being our first year in our house (rather than a condo), I'm extremely excited about the prospect of decorating for, and celebrating, each of the year's holidays. Easter is no exception, and I know I can stretch my budget on everything from delicious treats to adorable decor, and even gifts when I shop my local 99 Cents Only Store. With an entire aisle dedicated to Easter, I practically feel like a kid in a candy store loading up my cart! While I won't be planning any parties for the Spring holiday this year, I've decided to celebrate everything rainbow egg and bunnies with my furry family- the pets.
In the pet aisle I found a 3 pack of tennis balls for $.99, and in the baby supply department I found a 2-pack of swaddle cloths for $1.99. With these, and a pair of scissors, I was able to make a Springtime version of one of Nora's favorite handmade toys. We like to call this a 'rope octopus,' but you can call it whatever you want. Assemble it by doing the following:
1. Lay your swaddle cloth out, print side down, and place a tennis ball in the middle.
2. Cut diagonally from each corner into the center (towards the ball), leaving about 1" uncut fabric to the tennis ball.
3. Take 2 diagonal corners and tie them across the top of the tennis ball. Repeat with the remaining corners.
4. You should have 4 sectioned corners of fabric. Starting with 1 corner cut the fabric into 6 even width strips. Your lengths will not be the same, this is fine, you can trim when you are done braiding. Be careful with your cuts not to overlap and cut any fabric off.
5. Take 3 of the fabric strips and braid until you've reached the end of the shortest strip, tie a knot and trim any excess, leaving at least 1" of fabric from your securing knot.
6. Repeat with the remaining 3 strips.
Repeat steps 4-6 until all corners are braided with 2 braids each for a total of 8 braids. Don't worry if your braids are different thicknesses or lengths- your dog will enjoy playing with each end uniquely!
Using some ribbon I'd found in the Easter aisle and a cat toy from the pet aisle I actually tied the ribbon to the toy and fed 2" of the opposite end of the ribbon into the hollow pole. With a quick 'pop' I snapped the cap back in place and had an instant cat wand! Naturally one could duct tape or glue the cap on if they were concerned about cat's chewing or playing rough, and handmade 'lure' toys could be made out of multiple ribbons, pom poms, or more!
It's as easy as cutting the lowest supporting rung off (the plastic clips will snip easily with basic scissors), manipulating the top ring at an angle into the middle ring, and evening your posts to the same height at the top. Once you've got your tomato cage in a general shape go ahead and take your rope/cord/string and tie it around the 3 posts at the top. Use your excess string/rope/cord to weave in and out, and around the top posts multiple times until the structure holds on it's own. You should be able to adjust the length of the posts with a little force as needed.
Next drape your blanket over the structure and cut 2 horizontal slits approximately 1" from the edge, and 6" down from the top of your teepee. Run your ribbon of choice through it and tie in a bow to secure the teepee's fabric. Repeat about 6" down from the first bow. Place a pet bed inside, or leave as is for young children to use with dolls and such.
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What Daughter Says: Why spend more when you can spend less, indeed! My local 99 Cents Only Stores have my favorite brands, and new discoveries, at prices that make it fun to shop again!