Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Hiatus

Due to increasing time pressures, the Susie's Sandbox blog is going on an indefinite hiatus.

Thanks to all my Followers and Commenters. I've enjoyed this experience. I hope you'll visit me at Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Yard Sale Bargain

Isn't this a pretty cup and saucer? I spotted it at a yard sale and couldn't resist. It's not a well-known brand, but the colors and flowers appealed to me. It even came with a spoon and tea.

What are some of your favorite yard sale finds?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mom's Doll Collection

One of my blogger buddies, Susan, requested that I show pictures of Mom's doll collection. So, I lined the babies up on Mom's couch and snapped away with my digital camera. (I'm so loving this camera!)

From left to right: Bridget (Precious Moments),
Billy (a Berjusa baby), a Shirley Temple reproduction, porcelain doll, generic baby doll in bassinet in the foreground, Katie (a Berjusa baby), and Patsy Joan, a reproduction.

Here's a close-up of Katie and Patsy Joan. Katie modeled the baby bonnet I crocheted back in September.

Here's a close-up of Shirley, the generic baby doll in a bassinet, and Katie. Note: I made the bassinet from plastic canvas and crocheted the skirt, pillow, and blanket.

Here's Bridget and Billy. They're all so cute and huggable.

Someday soon, I'll do a post on my dolls and what I learned about collecting. Do you like dolls or have other collections? I hope you'll share. Guys, I know you collect baseball cards and other memorabilia. Feel free to jump into the discussion.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Free Samples

I love free samples and rebates. Here are a few items I've received since hanging out at the frugal blogs like Hip2Save and Money Saving Mom:

Nexus shampoo, conditioner - free sample

3M Floor Gripper Anti-Slip Runner - free sample

Emergen-C - Samples compliments of Walmart

Clarins Lipstick samples

Sure Deodorant - This was a buy one and get a full rebate on the price.

Olay Body Wash - Trial size on sale, which became free when I used a $1.00 coupon with no size restriction.

Nivea Lotion - Sample

Soyjoy Bar - Sample

This is an economical way to try new products. I like getting these freebies before plunking down my money on a full-size item.

How about you? Do you use coupons? Rebates? Send for free samples?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shadow Box

Several years ago, I made this shadow box for my mother for Mother's Day. It takes a bit of time, but it's worth the effort.

I purchased an unfinished 8 X 10 shadow box at A.C. Moore and painted the frame a metallic gold. You can paint it any color that goes with your decor.

Next, I purchased about a half yard of cranberry moire fabric. (The color doesn't show up well here.) Some bits of lace, roses, and the butterflies add a nice touch. I also picked up some cotton batting, so it would be padded.

I selected some vintage items from my mother's collection of memorabilia - two old photos, one of my dad's medals, a pair of gloves, and an old wristwatch.

The shadow box comes with a cardboard backing. I cut and glued batting to the cardboard. I then wrapped the fabric around the cardboard and batting and secured it with a hot glue gun. All of the other items are hot glued to the fabric.

I've made other shadow box projects for wedding gifts, graduations, etc. If you decide to try this project, let me know how it comes out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Freezer Cooking for the Elderly

A lot of folks cook in advance and freeze meals for their families. This saves both time and money because they can grab something from the freezer, defrost it, and reheat it for a quick dinner.

While this works well for a family, the portions are often too big for the elderly. I found a post at Money Saving Mom on freezer cooking for the elderly. Check it out for some great suggestions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Great Yard Sale Find

I love a country look, and found this lamp at a yard sale this summer. The lady plugged it and verified that it worked. The blue and yellow flowers matched my color scheme.

Price? I snagged it for $5.00.

In my novel, "The Moses Conspiracy," I envisioned the lamp in Ellie and John's livingroom exactly like this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kohl's Bargain

I signed up for Kohl's email Sale Alerts, and they sent me a $5.00 coupon. On 9/19/10, Mom and I visited the store.

These trouser socks (3 in a package) were marked down from $12.00 to $4.99. Total cost to me: $0.00. I don't know about you, but I like FREE. Yay!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do You Have An Emergency Plan?

Lynnae McCoy, at Being Frugal, asks: "Are you ready to evacuate?"

Many parts of the country experienced hurricanes, fires, and other disasters. Her article gave some good tips on what to include in your luggage.

Do you have a plan in place?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

Tired of spending an arm and a leg on dishwasher detergent? Here's an economical and effective alternative you can make at home for pennies an ounce. Mummy Deals gives the recipe and even has a video on how to put the ingredients together.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Increase Your Vocabulary & Help Children

Today, I re-discovered the website, It's a fun way to increase  your vocabulary, and help feed hungry kids.

For each word you get right, 10 grains of rice appear in a virtual bowl. There are various difficulty levels, so even children can play.

I'd recommend this game for anyone, but especially for writers and students. Let me know how you like it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Summer's Last Gasp

Like an Olympic runner crossing the finish line, summer is about to finish her course. Flowers push out that final burst of color, and veggie plants put forth a Herculean effort to produce just one more eggplant or tomato.

When I got the digital camera, I wanted to take pictures of a pristine, well-ordered plot. By the time I learned how to use it, my garden resembled a tangled head of hair, wild and overgrown.

Now, I'm looking forward to the final harvest, clearing away the debris, and getting ready for next spring's planting.

I've made some mistakes, but I've learned:

1) In a 4 X 4 plot, one square is not enough for a tomato plant.

2) Three marigold plants in a square is one too many. They nearly overtook the garden.

3) Eggplant gets VERY big.

4) Lettuce is a cool weather crop and will bolt (go to seed and stop producing) when it gets too hot.

5) Tomatoes won't ripen in temperatures over 85 degrees.

6) Black pepper and red pepper don't stop a hungry woodchuck.

7) Cucumbers hate a regular garden trellis. They much  prefer wrapping themselves around the other plants and choking them to death.

Spiritual Application: You not only have to watch the bad stuff (sin), but also the good stuff that can take over your life with the busies.

What lessons have you learned from your gardening?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

FREE Audio Book!

When I saw this deal, I had to share it with you. :)

Christian Audio is offering Gary Chapman's audio book, "Love is a Verb," FREE as a download. The offer is good for the month of October 2010, and no coupon code is required.

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

African Violets and Mom

For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a knack for growing African Violets. The quality of this picture doesn't do her plant justice.

I thought you'd like to hear about her secrets to success.

Susan: Hi, Mom. How do you grow such gorgeous plants?

Mom: LOL! I've killed my share of them, but I've learned a few things. A good potting soil designed for African Violets is important. If the plants come in a small pot, you'll want to transplant them when they get too big for it.

Susan: How about watering?

Mom: I water my plants once a week. Always water them from the bottom, and NEVER get the leaves wet.

Susan: Yeah, remember we saw someone watering a whole display of African Violets with a sprayer. The next time we went to that store, a big sign warned employees to water from the bottom. They lost all the plants. What about feeding your African Violets?

Mom: When they're in bloom, I feed them with plant food designed for African Violets. Any nursery or major chain should have this in stock. When they stop blooming, don't feed them. They need to rest.

Susan: One last question, Mom. How much sun does an African Violet like?

Mom: A window with an eastern exposure is the best, but mine are thriving in a window facing north. African Violets don't like sun, but a lot of light.

Susan: Thanks, Mom, for your tips.

Question for You: Do you grow African Violets? Do you have a favorite color/variety?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crocheted Baby Cap

About a month ago, I came across a website with free crochet patterns. When I began writing for publication, I traded my crochet hooks for hooking readers (in the first paragraph for those of you who don't understand writer lingo).

My resolve evaporated when I saw this cute hat. I dashed out to Walmart and picked up yarn for the project. I thought you might like to see it.

I couldn't find a real baby to model this adorable baby hat, so my mother allowed me to use a doll from her collection. The hat is a size 6 months, a little big for this dolly. You can also make it in 12, 18, and 24 month sizes.

The pattern looks complicated, but it's super easy. The pattern calls for 1 - 3.5 oz. ball of Bernat Baby Jacquards in a design called, "Cherry Berry." I couldn't find that color, so I used the design, "Florals." The stitches are all single crochet for the cap and double crochet for the ruffle.

You can get the pattern at:

I still have quite a bit of yarn leftover. I might be able to get a second cap from the 3.5 oz. ball. If you try it, let me know how you liked the pattern. I can't wait to see it on my honorary niece, who will be born around Christmas.


Do you like to crochet or knit? What other crafts to you enjoy?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If Only I Were 5' 7 3/4" Again!

After spending most of my life trying to gain weight, I now find myself in a dilemma. I'm too short.

My once 5' 7 3/4" frame has shrunk. At the same time, my fondness for chocolate chip cookies and lots of BBQ's and graduation parties, packed on an additional 12 pounds.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out these two events worked against each other. While my weight is ideal for a statuesque woman, it doesn't work for someone stretching for 5' 6".

So, after much weeping and teeth-gnashing, I've cut back on my junk food consumption. A friend, who's a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, gave me some tips on what foods to eat. I've also used my Swagbucks Search Engine to find websites on resurrecting metabolism.

The good news: I've lost three pounds. The bad news: It took three weeks, and I still have 15 pounds to reach my goal.

NEWSFLASH:  Since writing this post, I've lost an additional five pounds. Yay!

I'll be sharing my progress in future posts of what works and what doesn't work. Do you have any weight loss tips?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Digital Camera Adventure

I've wanted one of these modern wonders ever since I started blogging. Visions of taking stunning  pictures of flowers, trees, and whatever else I needed for a graphic danced in my head.

Reality check: There's a learning curve, especially for a techy-challenged person like me. Everyone assured me it was easy as pie. Ahem.

After opening the box and reading the instructions, I still couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work. It's lens sat there, staring at me lifeless. No whirring sounds, no image on the screen - dead.

I carted it off to a local camera shop where a patient clerk discovered I'd put the batteries in wrong. Oookay. At least she didn't laugh. Of course, she did escape to another area, saying she had to look for something. Hmm. She noticed I didn't have a cable to transfer the pictures from the camera to the computer, so she sold me one. With her sticky note on how to erase the pictures on the inside cover of the box, I hurried out of the store, hoping no one overheard my silly questions.

Determined to work this thing, I took it to the Greater Philadelphia Writers Conference (hi, Marlene) and snapped pictures of my friends. Yay! My friend, Clare, cropped the pictures, and I managed to post them to the blog.

Lesson Learned: Don't let technology intimidate you. Try it, explore the features, learn by trial and error, and when all else fails, find a savvy teenager.

Spiritual Lesson Learned: When you pray for something, be prepared. There may be some assembly required.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Try Kellogg's Fiber Plus Cereal FREE!

A few days ago, I found specially-marked boxes of Kellogg's Fiber Plus cereal at Walmart. An 11.5 oz. box cost $2.68.

The directions say the rebate form is inside the box. Actually, it's printed on the inside of the box. The rebate requires the UPC code, original receipt with the price circled, and the official form.

One thing I found interesting: On the form, it says one rebate per flavor. For full details, see the box and form.

Please excuse the poor quality of the photo at left. I'm still learning how to use my camera.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Woodchuck Wars

This isn't an actual picture of my furry adversary, but a reasonable facsimile. Neighbors reported his presence in our backyards, as well as his forays into their gardens.

When I set up my mini-Garden of Eden, I prepared for the invader. I searched websites, studied his habits, and looked for organic ways to deal with him.

Aha! Red and black pepper mixed together in equal amounts supposedly kept critters away. I hightailed it to Costco and bought two giant-sized containers. I mixed, trying hard not to sneeze. (I think it repels people too!) Then I applied it in liberal amounts around my tender, young plants.

All went well until my tomatoes started ripening. Then he struck, taking a hefty bite out of a luscious tomato. Sigh. I wanted to eat that one. From then on, it was war. I went out every day and harvested any tomato that even gave a sign of turning red.

I don't know if I defeated him or if he got tired of not finding any yummy, red veggies. Perhaps he's moved on to another hapless neighbor's garden. I'm still watchful, but I think I won this round.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Expired Coupons Have Worth

The Krazy Coupon Lady is collecting expired coupons. They will be shipped to military families overseas. Manufacturers will honor them as a special consideration to our servicemen and women.

Separate your clipped coupons into two categories: Food and Non-Food. Try to use a baggie for each category instead of paper clips or rubber bands.

There's no minimum donation. The Krazy Coupon Lady requests you send them only once a month, preferably toward the end. Here's the address:

KCL Overseas Coupon Program
Carly Romano
11357 Visby Ave.
Port Charlotte, FL 33981

Please make sure your package has sufficient postage. Postage due will be returned to the sender.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Free Writing E-Book

Woohoo! I found this deal at Money Saving Mom. Sharp Writing - Build Better Writing Skills is being offered for the Kindle.

You can also get a version for your PC. Click the above link for details.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened...

A funny thing happened on Tuesday. I started another blog. A friend needed a lesson on blogging, so I used myself as the guinea pig.

The project took on a life of its own. The title flew from my fingers, and ideas crowded my mind. I thought about deleting it, but before I could, it garnered a Follower. Imagine that! With no advertisement or promotion, another friend discovered this tiny piece of real estate in the blogosphere.

So, I hope you'll enjoy this journey. Watch for Susan's less serious side, sound bites from my life, money saving tips, and anything else that tickles my fancy.

See you on Tuesdays and Thursdays. :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Money Saving Blogs

One of my favorite coupon/deal sites is Hip2Save. Collin Morgan is a military wife and Mom of three children. She's discovered ways to save money at the grocery store.

Check out her site and reap the savings.