Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mulligan Mama Tries It Out: Homemade Hair and Face Treatments

Mulligan Mama Tries It Out: Homemade Hair and Face Treatments
If you're like me, the advent of Pinterest has inspired me to try many crafts, recipes, and homemade concoctions that I normally wouldn't try. The blog posts promising "the best cookies EVER!" or "100 uses for coconut oil!" are very enticing.  I've tried many food recipes and loved them... and others, not so much. Since I'm always looking to save money and go green, I decided to try several beauty "recipes" for hair and face that, in theory, could be cheaper and greener than expensive store brands.  Here's what I found:

1. No 'Poo-
I tried the "no shampoo" craze several years ago, in the pre-Pinterest days of homemade beauty. I "washed" my hair with baking soda and water and "conditioned" my hair with apple cider vinegar and water. I adjusted the amounts based on how my hair felt afterwards. I remember my hair felt really weird the first few days, kind of like straw. But after awhile, it was soft and much easier to style. But... I didn't stick with the regimen. Why?  Because I love to shampoo my hair.  It feels nice and smells good. I buy cheap shampoo, so it doesn't cost me much money. What I ultimately decided to do was wash my hair every other day or every three days. My hair is smoother and healthier because I allow the hair oils to stay put rather than strip them off each morning. My hair was really greasy at first, but eventually it adjusted to being washed less frequently.

Short Review of No 'Poo- It doesn't hurt to try it and see if you like it, but you need to try it for at least a couple weeks to get to a place where your hair doesn't feel weird. Or try shampooing less frequently to see if you get the results you want.  (I don't have a link for a particular No 'Poo recipe, but if you search for it, you will find tons!)

2. Hot Oil Treatment for Hair
I often have trouble with dandruff, and no dandruff shampoo ever seems to work. I read these two Crunchy Betty blog posts on hot oil treatments for hair and scalp and decided to give it a try:

http://www.crunchybetty.com/the-secrets-to-a-phenomenal-hot-oil-hair-treatment-part-1-creating

http://www.crunchybetty.com/the-secrets-to-a-phenomenal-hot-oil-hair-treatment-part-2-indulging

I decided to try a concoction of coconut oil (Viva Labs The Finest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce), castor oil (NOW Solutions Castor Oil, 100 % Pure, 16 ounce), sweet almond oil (NOW solutions Sweet Almond Oil, Moisturizing Oil, 16 ounce), and tea tree oil (Tea Tree Oil 4 fl oz Liquid ). I ordered all the ingredients from Amazon (with a gift card I got for Christmas--woohoo!). I mixed about 1 Tb each of the first three oils and a couple drops of tea tree oil, which I read was good for dandruff.  (I warmed the coconut oil up in the microwave first, then added the other oils.)  I poured it on my head using a small squeeze bottle I had on hand and massaged it into my scalp. Then I slapped on a shower cap and left it on for about a half an hour. I was planning to leave it on longer, but the shower cap elastic started bugging me. Then I hopped in the shower and massaged some warm water into my hair, working the oil into my scalp and down to the ends of my hair. Then I washed it out with a little of my regular shampoo.

I did notice right away that my scalp didn't itch the rest of the day in the spots where it usually starts to itch. It didn't look as flaky either.  I knew further treatments would probably do more good, but I had to be honest, it was a bit time consuming and messy to warm up the coconut oil, mix it together, and slap it on my head. So I decided to simplify the recipe with 1 part castor oil and 1 part sweet almond mixed together that I leave in a squeeze bottle in the shower. At the beginning of my shower, I work some of the oil onto my scalp where I have trouble with dandruff, leave it on for 5 minutes (while I shave or sing a song or something), then wash and condition as normal. My dandruff has been almost non-existent since I started doing this 2-3 times a week!

Short Review of Hot Oil- If you have time to treat yourself to a hot oil treatment, it feels nice and leaves your hair soft and scalp less itchy. If you don't have time, using oil in the shower seems to work just as well. (The added benefit is that same oil works great as a post-shower moisturizer for the rest of your skin-- see #4!)
1 part castor oil and 1 part sweet almond oil for hair, scalp, face, cleanser and moisturizer
1 part Castor Oil and 1 part Sweet Almond Oil-- hair and scalp oil, facial cleanser, and all-around moisturizer!
3. Coconut Oil Face Wipes
I hate washing my face at night, but I know if I don't do it, I get zits. Plus I wake up looking like a raccoon from mascara smeared under my eyes. So I have been using generic make-up removing face wipes from the store. They work really well in removing make-up, especially mascara. When I saw this recipe for homemade face wipes, I decided to give it a try:

http://meganmecrafty.blogspot.com/2013/04/coconut-oil-face-wipes-easy-step-by-step.html?m=1

I followed the recipe exactly, including the distilled water and washing all utensils with boiling water to reduce the chances of mold growth. I had no trouble making it. The wipes did leave my face feeling soft and moisturized. But, I found it took 2-3 wipes to do the job of 1 store bought wipe, and the homemade wipes didn't do as well at removing mascara. I usually smeared some Vaseline on my eyes and then used the homemade wipe to remove the black gunk. The other issue... I don't really care for the scent of tea tree oil.  Some people love it, but I'm not one of them. I didn't look forward to opening the container at night to smear my face with something that smelled a bit funky to me. In hindsight, I could have added lavender oil or some other good smelling oil to counteract the tea tree oil.

Some reviewers on that blog mentioned having trouble with mold, but it took over two months before I noticed any mold, and even then, it was only one spot. If I was using it every night (which I wasn't), I might have used it up before the mold ever appeared.
Small spot of mold on homemade coconut oil face wipes.
Small spot of mold on homemade coconut oil face wipes.
Short Review of Coconut Oil Face Wipes- They work, but not as well as store bought wipes for mascara removal. By the time you buy coconut oil and tea tree oil, you might not be saving as much money as generic store bought wipes. The recipe could be modified to smell better if you don't like tea tree oil.  Adding more of the solution might have made one wipe go further.

4. Face Washing with Oil/ Overall Moisturizing with Oil
Since I had several different oils on hand for these experiments, I decided to try a modified version of Crunch Betty's Oil Cleansing Method for your face:

http://www.crunchybetty.com/nitty-gritty-on-the-oil-cleansing-method

I didn't want to do this at the sink, because we don't have any counter space, and I'm the one who gets to clean the bathroom, so I didn't want an oil spill to clean. I decided to "wash" my face with oil in the shower in the morning. I smeared my concoction of 1 part castor oil and 1 part sweet almond oil that I use for my hair onto my face and rubbed it in.  I left it on for a couple minutes, then washed it off with my normal face soap (which is usually either baby soap or castile soap). The oil washed off any residual mascara that I had missed the night before and left my skin feeling very soft. I didn't have to use face lotion afterward, or at least, not as much. My face often has dry patches in the winter, but it didn't when I started doing this method 2-3 times a week (usually the same time that I do my hair and scalp).

My skin gets very sensitive when I'm pregnant, and I break out in a rash when I use my normal soap and lotions. So I have to use Ivory or castile soaps during my pregnancy, and expensive Aveeno lotions to prevent rashes. I tried using this oil on my skin after the shower to moisturize, and it worked really well.  No rash--just soft skin.

Short Review of Washing with Oil- We usually think oil will clog pores and leave our skin feeling greasy, but 1 part castor oil to 1 part sweet almond oil has become my go-to regimen for dandruff control, face washing in the shower, and after-shower moisturizing.  One bottle of premixed oil stays in the shower, and I just shake it up before I use it (see picture under #2).

5. Dyeing Hair with Tea
I'm a red head, and as I get older, my red seems to fade.  I decided to try this blog's suggestion of using tea to dye my hair:

http://www.holistic-chick.com/2013/03/tricks-of-trade-3-hair-care-featuring.html

I used Rooibos tea as suggested for red heads, which I had on hand, and steeped it for about 5 minutes before applying it to my hair.

It was a mess. I splattered tea everywhere--on the sink, the tub, the floor, the bathroom rug. Tea will stain, so I was trying to clean it up quickly while my hair was dripping.  I put my shower cap on and left it the recommended amount of time.

Did it work?  No. As I rinsed my hair, I was rinsing all the red tea right down the drain. My hair didn't look any redder to me when it dried. Perhaps with continual use it might? I don't know. It was too messy of an experiment to try again.

Short Review of Tea Dyeing- Maybe it changes the color if you leave the tea on your hair to dry and don't rinse it out, but I have a feeling that would leave your hair with a strange texture. The color rinses right down the drain, and it's a bit messy.  Save your tea for drinking! (Or sunburn relief--which does work for me! Future blog post this summer, perhaps?)

So, all in all, some recipes worked well, some not so well.  My experiments further reinforced to me that you can't trust everything you read on the internet (shocking, I know!!), and blogs of beauty recipes are just one person's opinions and experience, not scientifically verified or tested. Including my blog and this very post! These were just my experiences. Maybe something will work better for you or not work for you at all. But if you were thinking about giving any of these a try, hopefully my anecdotal evidence will help you get started or avoid something all together.

And speaking of not believing everything you read on the internet, there are a LOT of claims about the benefits of some oils and the dangers of others. Listen, folks, coconut oil will not cure cancer and mineral oil will not kill you. How do I know this? Because there are no scientific studies proving either one. None. So the next time you read a Pin claiming coconut oil worked all these medical wonders or a blog freaks you out about using a certain product, take it with a grain of salt and do some further research for articles from scientific journals, NOT from a blog.  We bloggers aren't to be trusted 100% of the time, mmkay?

So, have any homemade beauty treatments worked for you?  Any disasters?  Feel free to share your experiences!

~Mulligan Mama

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pregnancy Then and Now


My mother-in-law told me a great saying about pregnancy-- The first 3 months are dreary, the second 3 months are cheery, and the last 3 months are weary.  I'm definitely in the weary stage.  Fatigue, achiness, insomnia, hormone-driven emotions, and heartburn that could take down a mule. But I keep reminding myself the little bubba is doing some necessary homestretch cooking, and I try to be patient.

I came across a blog of a woman who, like me, started a "B team" later in life (although she didn't call it that!). She outlined how her later pregnancy compared to her earlier one. Most of her changes centered around her healthier lifestyle of diet and exercise, which resulted in a much easier pregnancy.

It got me to thinking how this pregnancy for me has differed from my previous two.  This pregnancy has been so much "easier" than my first two (I know "easy" is a relative term!), and here are a few of the reasons why:

1. More emotional support
I felt very alone for my first two pregnancies. I didn't have many friends, and my side of the family lived far away. I didn't reach out to others, which left me alone with my thoughts and fears. This time around, I have had more support from family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. More people to smile and commiserate with me. More people to hug me and check on me. More opportunities to talk about how I am feeling.  I have support groups through social media to ask questions and express concerns related to my pregnancy. I have more opportunities to talk with my family via phone and Skype. I have also made a concerted effort to be more honest about how I am doing and feeling, rather than trying to keep a stiff upper lip all the time.

2. Working
I stayed at home and went to school during my first two pregnancies. This resulted in me going days and days without ever leaving the house. This pregnancy, I worked up until about 30 weeks, at which time I had to stop because of contractions and worries about pre-term labor. Working while pregnant is very, VERY difficult, especially during that first trimester. But on the plus side, it kept my mind occupied and made the days go by faster. I'm glad I was able to work as long as I did. While it made me physically tired, it did a lot for my mental health.

3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Speaking of mental health, I wasn't really familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) when I was pregnant with my first two. My hormone-driven emotions were off the chart, and it was so very hard to think rationally about my situation when I felt overwhelmingly weepy some days and numb on others. I learned how to use CBT years ago from a counselor. This time around, I use a simplified version of CBT in my daily life to recognize errant thoughts and emotions and change my reaction to them so they don't overwhelm me. For example, if I start feeling really down and depressed, rather than start to think that I am worthless or lazy or that life is just too difficult, I stop that thought in its tracks. I tell myself that my hormones are out of control due to pregnancy, and THAT is what is making me feel down. In response, I need to take a nap, go for a walk, read a book, or some activity that will help get my mind off of how my body is feeling. I also tell my husband, "I'm feeling xyz. I know it's not rational, and I know it's because of hormones, but that's how I'm feeling."  It helps to identify the thought or emotion and say it out loud, so that others can help change the negative thoughts with positive, true thoughts.

4. Exercising
Like the blog I referenced, I have been more proactive about exercising this time around, and it has made a huge difference in the way I feel physically. I don't have near the back aches or leg aches I did with my first.  I still have crazy heartburn and contractions that make me feel like I've been in labor for months, but I feel more flexible and strong overall.  I used Pregnancy Yoga videos on YouTube as a jumping off point, and doing those types of stretches and exercises every day has improved my physical complaints but also boosted my mood. I had to limit walking during my times of lots of contractions, but before and after, I have tried to make walking a daily habit.

5. Skipping Certain Pregnancy Books
I made myself crazy with "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" with my first two.  I think this book should be banned for preggo moms.  I'm sure it is helpful to many, but it made me feel like I was a failure of a mother because I didn't (and couldn't) live up to their model of a healthy pregnancy.  My mom often reminded me that my "baby hadn't read the same books I had" and so I shouldn't worry if the baby didn't act according to the book. Finding more balanced books this time around has helped tremendously. I perused my public library, utilized resources from my doctor, and of course, searched the internet. (Public service announcement-- beware of Dr. Google when looking up symptoms!  You can freak yourself out!) Any resource that made me feel guilty or shamed, I set aside. Any resource that was supportive, understanding, and balanced, I read and used. It made a big difference. (For morning sickness, the book The Morning Sickness Companion, along with doctor prescribed Zofran, made those months tolerable!)

6. Maturity
The biggest difference between my first two pregnancies and this one is that I'm more mature, and dare I say, wise. Over a decade of life experiences can make a person more able to adapt and cope with the twists and turns that come along. I am definitely braver to advocate for myself and my baby at the doctor's office, which has made a world of difference in my medical care. Of course, I've also benefited from the new developments in obstetric research that says just because a woman is contracting doesn't mean she needs to be on bed rest 24/7. I had to be on bed rest with my first two, along with several stints in the hospital to be pumped full of meds to stop my contractions. I have been able to avoid strict bed rest and all hospital stays this time around, and this is in large part to being more confident in what my body is telling me and not panicking.  I still get nervous and worried, but rather than let fear dictate my decisions, my husband and I think through each situation as rationally as we can and communicate with the doctor what we are feeling and thinking. That way, I am comfortable with every decision that is made. I don't feel like a lab rat this time around--I feel like an empowered mother.

There are more differences between then and now, but these are the biggies. Now, all of this isn't to say that my first two were bad... on the contrary, I got two beautiful, intelligent, funny, wonderful children out of the deal! Pregnancy is a difficult journey, even under the most ideal circumstances. I have found being more proactive about my mental and emotional health through family support, work, CBT, exercise, and resources have made these past eight months more than just something to endure. I have learned more about myself and what I am capable of, and I have an even greater respect and love for my husband, who has been steady as a rock through this whole thing.

Now, one more month... and eighteen years to go!

~Mulligan Mama

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nerd Nursery (Part 2)

Nerd Nursery
In my first post on the Nerd Nursery, I made some embroidery hoop art to hang on the walls. For this post, I'll turn a shoe box lid into some more wall art to match the embroidery hoops.

But first, let me show you the room we started with...  bright green walls with pink trim and flowers.
Nursery Before Pic

Nursery Before Pic

Nursery Before Pic

We wanted a neutral color that would work for both a baby's room and any future use of the room, such as an office or guest room. We decided on Behr's Paint and Primer in One in French Silver, a gray paint with a slightly bluish hue. We used bright white for the trim, closet, and door.
Nursery Walls After in Behr Dark Pewter

Nursery Walls After in Behr Dark Pewter

Nursery Walls After in Behr Dark Pewter
Much better!  My hubby did all of the painting, with a little help from my brother.  Of course, I would have helped if I wasn't pregnant, because I simply love painting.  Ha! Not so much.  I'm not a very good painter. You'd think I would be better at it, considering I've painted my share of rooms over the years, but alas, I'm not. But I digress...

I love the rectangle signs that are so popular these days, but once again, this cheapskate doesn't want to spend money if she doesn't have to. After completing the embroidery hoop art, I had a little bit of fabric leftover. I also had a leftover shoe box, so I decided to cover the lid with fabric.
Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art

Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art
I traced around the box, then cut away the excess fabric, leaving enough to hot glue it to the back.
Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art
After organizing my crafts last week, I found some old letter stickers. I used the outlines of the letters as a template to make the words on my sign.
Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art
I had some fabric markers leftover from a project my daughter and I did last year.
Crayola Fabric Markers
I had to freehand the inside of the letters, and of course, I managed to mess them up a little bit.  Oh well.  It's not perfect, but it is handmade and heartfelt!
Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art
I drew a few stars, then removed the sticker templates. I ironed the back of the fabric, per the marker instructions. I then hot glued the fabric to the shoe box lid, pulling it tight.  (And using my new low-temp glue gun--no more burned fingers!)
Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art

Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art
The finished product-- again, not perfect, but it's colorful, fun, and it matches the embroidery hoops.
Shoebox lid covered with fabric for wall sign art
The Star Trek theme continues... "To Boldly Go!" (Where no baby has gone before?)
Now, for the rest of the room...

The floor is a painted wood floor, and it's pretty rough in spots. Refinishing it, repainting it, or carpeting it is cost prohibitive for us at this stage, so we decided to go with a nice shaggy area rug with a carpet pad to not only provide soft flooring but also insulate the room.
I thought about dyeing the purple curtains a different color, but considering the room is a little drafty, we decided to go with thermal curtains (Best Home Fashion Silver Star Print Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains - Antique Bronze Grommet Top - Navy - 52"W x 84"L - (Set of 2 Panels) ) that also do a great job of blocking out the light.

We brought in my recliner that my hubby got me for Christmas, an old side table, and an old dresser that I hope to refinish one of these days. The in-laws got us a crib. (We still need a mattress, but we have time, especially since the baby will be in our room at first.) I found a lamp on clearance, as well as some cloth boxes to hold toys, blankets, and diapers in the closet.  After I hung up my artwork, it really came together!
Nerd Nursery After

Nerd Nursery After
You can't see it in this picture, but I hung up one of my daughter's paintings that won a blue ribbon at the County Fair.
Nerd Nursery After
I'm still in love with my barkingbirdart print from Etsy!
The thermal curtains can REALLY darken this room.  Here are the curtains open at about 3 pm in the afternoon, followed by a picture of them closed:
Thermal Curtains Before
Thermal curtains open...
Thermal Curtains After
Thermal curtains closed!
Holy darkness, batman!  I've taken a few naps in here in the afternoon, and it is glorious.

So, what's left to do? I'm going to hang a few yellow paper fan "stars" leftover from our wedding last year, and I'm finishing up one more Star Trek cross stitch.  These will all go on the embroidery hoop wall.
Nerd Nursery In Progress
More stuff for the wall.
Then I will have to come up with something to put over the crib... maybe something with the baby's name (which we are still keeping on the down low!).
Nerd Nursery In Progress
Maybe hang some stars above the crib like a mobile?
So, what did this room transformation cost?  The paint and supplies were about $100, the carpet about $150 (plus about $40 for the carpet pad), and the curtains about $130.  The furniture we had on hand or was given to us. I bought one print to hang for $18 on Etsy, but the rest of the artwork I made... and I probably spent about $10 on that total.  So all told, transforming this room cost under $500.

Now, I know $500 is still a lot of money. The decisions to spend more on carpet and curtains were calculated ones. I figured that we could have made it all work for less than $100 if we needed to, with second-hand throw rugs, dyeing the curtains, and using cheaper paint, and it still would have looked nice. It just would have been slightly colder, draftier, brighter, and noisier. (*Edit*- Actually, we could have made it work for $0 and not changed a thing. The baby wouldn't know the difference! The key to affordable home improvement is knowing what is necessary and what is optional, and this nursery was definitely optional.) On the other end of the spectrum, it would have cost us well over $1000 to refinish or fully carpet the floor! So, the thick area rug seemed like a good choice. Plus, we hope to save money in heating and cooling costs with the insulated curtains (and hopefully gain some much needed sleep by the reduced light and noise at night!). The high quality paint *should* last us for many years, barring any kid artwork with permanent markers.

We decided to invest a little more now in hopes the room would last longer and be more functional. But either way, DIY artwork is cheap!  Some fabric, embroidery hoops, thread, a shoe box lid, markers, hot glue, and some imagination and time is all it takes.  :-)

~Mulligan Mama

PS- Lest there be any question about our family's love of Star Trek, I recently found this picture of a drawing my daughter did a couple years ago.  This baby doesn't stand a chance!
Hand drawn Star Trek logo by 8 year old
Star Trek logo, drawn by my daughter when she was 8.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Six Steps to Thriftier Crafting

Six Steps to Thriftier Crafting
I have never really considered myself a crafty person until fairly recently. Even though I've done many different craft projects and DIY experiments over the years, it was not something I considered a true hobby. I didn't do it on a regular basis, I didn't designate a space for it, and I certainly didn't tell people about my many attempts to create things.

With a baby on the way, my nesting instincts have kicked in, and I've been trying to clean and organize every nook and cranny in the house. And I've discovered that while I may not have considered myself crafty--oh my goodness, have I ever accumulated a wide variety of craft supplies over the past 15 years! They've been shoved and stored in various places and traveled through several house moves. I'm tackling the pile to organize it today (it might be a several day job!), but I'm discovering that while I have a lot of stuff (or at least what I consider to be a lot), I haven't actually spent a lot of money on it over the years. There are lots of ways to be a thrifty crafter. Here are six ways I've managed to save money on crafting:
  1. Use what you have before you buy. (Organize and label!)
    When identifying your next project, it's tempting to rush out and buy all the supplies on the list. But check your inventory of supplies first to see if you have what you need or something close that will work as a substitute. Here's where organizing your craft supplies is key--you can't use what you have if you don't know what you have! (While organizing my crafts today, I found no less than EIGHT unused or half-used rolls of scotch tape.  Whoops.)

    Keep your craft supplies organized in a way that makes sense to you; it will be different for everyone based on what you have and what you like to do.  I'm not a scrapbooker, but I imagine people who like to scrapbook need to keep papers, stickers, stamps, scissors, and so forth, all organized by type, color, season, etc. For me, I am organizing my supplies into the following categories: glue, tape, mod podge, scissors, and other general tools; paper items; sewing supplies and fabrics; party supplies; flower arranging tools and supplies; ribbon; drawing and painting supplies; furniture refinishing supplies (which will go with tools instead of crafting). Your system will look different than mine. The point is to just organize it, label it, and put it where you'll remember it. Then check your stash before going to the store. (And don't be afraid to purge. If your bottles of craft paint are dried up, or some fabric has been sitting on the shelf for ten years, you aren't going to use it. Donate what you can, recycle what you can, and throw away the rest.)

  2. Save items that are easy to reuse, up-cycle, and re-purpose.
    Again, this will be different for everyone depending on what types of crafts you like to do. If you are into fabrics, save old T-shirts and sweaters for your crafts. (I've even saved the fabric from the little handkerchief the dog groomer puts on our dog after her grooming!) If you scrapbook, save neat greeting cards you receive in the mail to cut out pictures or letters. Save old socks for painting and wood staining. Save old plastic containers to hold mod podge or paint. If it's time to retire an old craft because it's out of style, broken, or dirty, see if there are any pieces you can save and reuse. I tossed an old Christmas decoration that was over 25 years old but saved the pine cones from it to use on a future craft.

  3. Utilize coupons, watch for sales, and go to second-hand shops. 
    Craft stores always have sales on different items, and many have coupons on their websites, so check for sales on the items you need and print off the coupon before you go. Or, if you have a smartphone, you can access the coupons directly from there. I've used coupons at both Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann Fabrics directly from my smartphone.  Apps such as RetailMeNot also show local deals and coupons at craft stores.  Look for deals at the stores in your area. There's really never a need to pay full price if you plan ahead.

    You can usually find even better savings at a second-hand or consignment shop, but it might be harder to find what you need.  But you never know until you look!  I made Christmas ornaments to give as gifts last year, and I almost bought the clear plastic ornaments at the craft store. Then I found two huge bags of used, plain-colored plastic ornaments at Goodwill for $1 for each bag. They worked perfectly and were much cheaper!

  4. Only buy what you need.
    I'll repeat this one--only buy what you need!  Have a list and a plan before you enter the store, and stick to your list. Sure, there are lots of great deals on a wide variety of supplies, but do you need them? Will you use them? As a child, I used to go to garage sales with my Grandma, and I was always fascinated by her ability to negotiate and haggle a price. She would be so thrilled with her cheap purchases, but often the things she bought--while super inexpensive--just sat unused in a box in her basement. It's only saving money if it's something you actually need!  So who cares if silk petunias are only 99 cents!  Do you have a plan to make something out of silk petunias?  No?  Then don't buy them.

  5. Borrow from other crafters.
    Some crafting items can be very expensive, whether it be cricuts or sergers or what have you. If you use them a lot, it justifies the expense. But if you use it only occasionally, it is not very cost effective. Find other crafting friends who will let you borrow their devices rather than rushing out to buy your own. (I hear scrapbookers get together to be able to scrap and share tools--smart idea!) If you find yourself needing a certain item a lot, then consider buying your own. But if it's once in a blue moon, it's better to borrow.

    I've also managed to inherit crafting supplies from people who didn't want them anymore, and it's a free way to build my supply. But it's also important to say no and not take everything offered to you, or you'll end up with a mountain of stuff that you can't really use.

  6. Budget for your crafting hobby.
    Really, this should be number one. I don't really struggle controlling my spending habits, because I'm a cheapskate by nature. I put things in my cart only to put them back on the shelf and walk out of the store empty-handed. I have to give myself permission to actually buy things. Part of the fun of crafting for me is to see how cheaply I can do a certain project.

    But I know this isn't the case for a lot of crafters. They walk into a craft store and feel like a kid in a candy shop.  So many cool things to BUY!!  If you struggle with spending too much on crafts, set yourself a monthly budget, and don't go over that amount. Challenge yourself to find cheap and free ways to make the crafts you want to make without spending a lot of money (read: Pinterest and Google are your friends!). If you really struggle, find a friend to go shopping with you to help you stick to your list and reign you in if you start to go overboard. Remember, you aren't saving money if it's something you can't use. And since crafting is generally just a hobby for most people (not a source of income), it's one area where saving money makes a lot of sense. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. Creativity is free, so use what you have!
What ways have you saved money as a crafter? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

~Mulligan Mama