My Shoe Stockpile

My Shoe Stockpile

Something most people don’t know about me? I have a shoe store in my basement. Okay, so it’s not exactly a shoe store, but that is what my kids call my shoe stockpile. You see, I really hate to pay retail, so I keep an eye out for good deals on kids’ shoes when I’m at thrift stores and yard sales, and buy ahead when I can.

Now, I know that probably sounds like I buy my kids a bunch of used shoes, but that’s not the case at all. I have found that by shopping a couple sizes ahead, I have plenty of time to find brand new shoes on the second-hand market.

And it only takes a couple of shoe racks tucked away in my basement to keep everything organized and neatly arranged by size.

My goal is to have a full range of shoes in each size before my kids need them – sneakers, black dress shoes, brown dress shoes, everyday sandals, dressier sandals and boots; and my stockpile hasn’t let me down yet.

So what do my kids think of my shoe store? They love it, and are always excited when a new school year or a growth spurt prompts me to open my “store”. I mean wouldn’t you be happy if someone presented you with a new collection of Keen, Timberland, Merrell and Born shoes whenever you needed them? It’s tough being the kids of a stockpiler, I tell ya.

My Edible Backyard

One of my favorite things to do in my backyard? Grocery shop.

When we decided to landscape our yard a few years ago, I knew I wanted lots of edibles in the backyard. We didn’t have a lot of space to work with – our lot is just .18 acres, and the house takes up a good chunk of that. But with enough research, I figured if could find some things that would work in our small space.

So what did we end up planting?

  • 3 apple trees
  • 6 blueberry bushes
  • 2 apricot bushes
  • 2 cherry bushes
  • 75 strawberries plants
  • Grapes

We later added a perennial herb garden and a prickly pear cactus (free from a curb pile).

So really, we managed to squeeze quite a few food-producing plants into our beyond-small backyard. And when you factor in all of the annuals that we grow (squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, swiss chard), that grocery list really starts to shrink down to size. I’ll take shopping in my backyard over shopping at the store any day.

Want to turn your small space into your very own mini-mart? Here’s what I recommend:

  • Choose dwarf, bush or compact varieties of the plants that you want to grow. I used dwarf apple trees, bush cherries, bush apricots and a type of high bush blueberry that grows tall and skinny
  • Choose plants with a high-yield and/or a long growing season. My scaled down plants produce just as much food as their much larger counterparts, but take up far less space
  • Plant in layers. Shade-tolerant plants like lettuce, radishes and strawberries will do just fine planted under something else
  • Grow vertically when you can. I trained my grapes to grow on arbors, so they don’t take up any space

Start a Ribbon Stash

Start a Ribbon Stash

You probably have a wrapping paper stash, but do you have a ribbon stash? If not, I recommend starting one. Years ago I began saving the ribbon that came on presents, along with any other ribbon that managed to make its way into the house, and before long I had a rainbow assortment to dip into any time I had a gift to wrap.

Gift Idea: Turn a Shared Pic into Photo Cards

Gift Idea: Turn a Shared Pic into Photo Cards

My sister’s Dog, Winston.

Is your phone or computer stuffed with pictures that your friends and family have shared with you? If so, you have everything you need to make the perfect gift for anyone on your list – even those hard-to-shop-for people. Just sift through your collection of photos for the perfect shot; upload it to a photo website; and turn it into a set of photo cards for the person who sent it to you.

With all of the free card deals out there, you may not even have to spend anything to pull this gift off. And, you won’t have to leave your house, either (Major selling point, in my book). But the best part? Since the person sent you the photo, you already know that they like it. So, there’s no agonizing over whether you picked out the right gift, bought the right size, etc. It’s a sure thing all the way. And that’s how we like to do things in frugal land.

250 Free Gift Tags

250 Free Gift Tags

You won’t find many people giving away free gift tags (unless you have to print them yourself), but you will find plenty of people giving away free business cards; and with a bit of creativity that’s just as good. I sifted through the free business card designs over at Vistaprint, and created these monogrammed cards to use as gift tags. Stripped of all the typical contact information that you’d expect to find on a business card, they’re perfect for the job; and with 250 of them in a box, I don’t expect to run out of gift tags for a long time to come. Score one for team frugal.

Want to create your own gift tags? Here’s where to go.