Archive for April, 2009

Here’s a great $10 challenge!

I was scanning through radio stations while running errands this week and ran across a really neat feature on NPR — a challenge to create a delicious meal for a family of four with a $10 budget! Now, these aren’t just run-of-the-mill casseroles and crock-pot meals (though I’ve certainly got tons of recipes for those). These are chef-created meals using delicious, easy-to-find foods and spices.

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Check out the links below for the first three challenges (including recipes!), and bookmark the page to get the rest as they are posted:

From Chef Jose Andres, A Family Favorite for $10

Chef Ming Tsai’s $10 Dish

Navy Chef Gets Creative with $10 Skate Meal

Enjoy! Also consider submitting your own $10 meal recipes to NPR. They’re going to share the best on the air. And if you’ve got budget-friendly meal secrets you’re willing to divulge with the rest of us, share them in the comments section! I love to bargain shop and bargain cook. It’s amazing how creatively you can stretch the grocery budget when you’re willing to try!

PS – For some of you old pros out there, this challenge is a walk in the park. When we had a family of four, our entire weekly grocery budget was $40 — never $10 a meal! But if you want to make something really special for a birthday or to take to a friend as a gift, these $10 menus are fantastic!

The Contest Results!

img_budgetmakeover_1aThank you all for your patience during our busy weekend and the crazy ER trip day! It has been really fun to see your budget remodels — you beat DIY all hollow! A few ladies didn’t post their entries as comments but emailed them, and, though I wrote to ask them to post, they never got around to it. If those of you who emailed want to repost even now, you’re welcome to do so. It’s just fun to see what you’re able to do!

Rather than forcing you to go back and find the posted re-dos in the comments, I’ll put them here so you can see them all in one place. First I’ll share mine:

  • Knobs – $4.36 (4 @ $1.09/ea on eBay)
  • Cup pulls – $15.42 (6 @ $2.57/ea on eBay)
  • Light fixture – $39.99 (on eBay)
  • Faucet – $24.99  (on eBay – Someone bought it after I saved the link, though!)
  • Frame – $24.95  (on eBay)
  • TOTAL: $137.19

I didn’t include shipping, nor did I expect others to do so. If I added in all my shipping, I’d come right in around the $190 mark, though. Now, here are the other entries…. First, the winner!

Sibyl’s $160.47 remodel:

Congratulations, Sibyl! That was almost $30 under budget — and almost $740 under DIY’s budget! Woo-hoo!!! You’ve won a year’s subscription to Mary Jane’s Farm!

Now for our second-place winner:

Sandy’s Redo:

Great job, Sandy! This comes almost $20 below my top end and $730 under DIY’s!
Finally, here’s our third-place winner, who would have come in first except that she linked to a quart of paint rather than a gallon — multiplying out the quarts is what killed the win. OUCH! Still, this remodel is almost $14 under my $190 limit and beats DIY by almost $725! Fantastic!

Michelle Z’s $176.23 bathroom redo:

This was so much fun, I think we’ll have to do it again sometime with another remodel challenge! Maybe a kitchen refresh on the cheap? Thanks so much for participating!

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Slight detour…

Well, we had a little adventure yesterday that involved broken glass, a child’s foot, and a seven-hour trip to the ER, getting back home around 10:30 pm in a state of utter exhaustion. Needless to say, I didn’t get around to checking entries for the contest after the deadline last night!

Son #2 is doing fine — four shots and three stitches later! By tomorrow we’ll have our heads on straight again, and I’ll put up the contest results!

Warmly,
Amanda

Contest Deadline Extended ’til Midnight Monday!

I totally lost track of the time, because I remembered I needed to make my girls’ Easter dresses this weekend! That has kind of thrown off the blogging end of things — let alone checking for new entries. So I’m extending the contest deadline until midnight on Monday the 13th. Please do pass along the contest link — the more, the merrier!

Thank you!

Amanda

Don’t Miss This Fun Contest!

If you haven’t seen my April 4 post, be sure to check it out! I’m having a budget remodel contest — see if you can beat DIY Magazine’s bathroom remodel budget. The winner gets a one-year subscription to the wonderful Mary Jane’s Farm magazine. 🙂

A few ladies have already posted their entries in the comment sections on the April 4 post (that’s where to enter). I’m keeping the entries private until the end of the contest, and then I’ll reveal everyone’s finds and their bottom line budgets!

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Make sure the links to each of the items you find works — we need to be able to verify your finds.
2. Be sure you pick bathroom-grade paint rather than run-of-the-mill paint. It makes a difference!
3. It’s perfectly kosher to check eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle for your bargains!

Have fun!

Warmly,
Amanda

This is a “budget” remodel?

Anyone who’s followed my blog for even a short time will know I’m big on bargains and remodeling on the cheap. I love do-it-yourself features in magazines and online, so I immediately clicked through to an article titled “Budget Bath Makeover” in the latest DIY newsletter. There I found a photograph of a very pretty master bath that had been remodeled on a budget:

img_budgetmakeover_1a

And here are the first couple of paragraphs of the accompanying article:

This master bath had many advantages: a separate tub and a shower, a window, and clean white fixtures. The effect, however, was cold and impersonal. A color cure and pretty accessories much improved the look.

Instead of damaging (and then fixing) the wall by removing the plate mirror over the vanity, the homeowner hung an antiqued flea-market frame in front of it. Then she switched out the contemporary light fixture for a classic three-bulb affair; replaced the basic faucet with a porcelain-handle Victorian-style model; and ditched boring cabinet pulls for brushed chrome knobs and cup pulls.

Okay, so far I’m all there. I’m all about painting, replacing ugly pulls, updating light fixtures, and repurposing antique frames. But here’s where the jaw-dropper hit:

The total cost for the room redo: $900.

Wait a second. Was that nine-HUNDRED dollars? Surely you mean a hundred and ninety dollars, right? Um, no. In the alternate reality of today’s crashing economy, it seems there are “budget” remodels and then there are BUDGET remodels. I wouldn’t class spending $900 on a few bathroom fixtures as a real saving accomplishment. In fact, I feel a challenge coming on! I bet you that any one of us could re-do this room in the exact same way for under $190. Wanna try?

Okay, here’s the challenge: Get online and see if you can price out this remodel for under $190. That means finding bathroom paint (one gallon does it for this size room), pulls similar to the ones used in the photo, a three-light fixture, vintage-style faucet, and a frame to go around the mirror (antique or otherwise–just see what you can find). Post links to your finds as well as prices and your grand total (no need to figure in taxes, as we’re all in different states) in the comments section. Whoever gets this remodel done at the lowest price wins a year’s subscription to Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine.

I’ll play along with you and post my BUDGET remodel on April 10. That gives you six days to get cracking! Invite your friends — pass along this post. The more, the merrier! I bet we can show DIY Magazine a thing or two about real budget remodeling!

PS (4/7/09): I’ve removed the current comments with their running totals and will wait until the contest is over to reveal everyone’s finds. That will make it more fun and won’t discourage anyone from trying. Keep the budget challenge going!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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