Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Great Lunch Money Debate


I have read three stories in the last six months similar to this one

All of them are condemning schools who don't give students free standard meals. The school policies range, in the story above the school would throw out student lunches if they got to the end of the line and couldn't pay. Other schools offered "humanitarian" lunches which usually consist of something like a pb&j and milk. Other schools check accounts prior to giving food and simply refuse to serve the students.

All of these schools are receiving a strong backlash from the public. They are accused of starving the students and humiliating them. Yet is it the school's fault?

I know this will create a big debate and cause strange feelings but I actually agree with the schools! Most schools don't have the funds to provide your child with meals, and many schools are running at a deficit due to parents who tell their children to eat the school lunches yet refuse to pay for them. I have no doubt that many parents forgot, but that is the parents responsibility, yes a system should be established to auto call or email when a balance is low but again it is the PARENT'S responsibility.

I know its a hot subject and it is horrible when children go hungry. Louisiana has established a guideline where if your child goes to get lunch three times with no money in their account then DHS will pay you a visit. Yes, it is harsh. So is allowing your child to starve because you can't bother to call the school to check their account or remember to write a check every month... or pack them a lunch! Again, I know this will be a heated blog post and that my opinion may be offensive. I know that we aren't perfect and even an amazing parent can forget a lunch payment. If you miss three then I'm sorry but it is a problem. I am tired of seeing these schools bow to public pressure. Our education dollars should be spent on EDUCATING!

There is a federal program for reduced or even free lunches and breakfasts for low income families (some schools even provide free breakfast). It is the parents job to sign up for these programs, I have been to many schools and they always tell you about them. The school will get additional funds for every child enrolled in the lunch program to subsidize the cost. If you have money problems and don't qualify then there is always packing a lunch. Homemade lunches can be healthier and cheaper than the school alternative!

Everyone knows that students focus better when they have eaten. No one wants any student to starve, but when the choice is piles of debt or hungry students or textbooks or lunches what is the correct decision for the school? Please parents, be responsible for your children. By all means petition the school to start calling or emailing when student accounts are low, but ultimately be responsible for your child.

Go ahead, feel free to disagree. Sound off below.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tiled Shower Floor Vs. Prefab Shower Pan


When remodeling a bathroom or building your own house with a custom tile walk in shower the answer on flooring for that shower from an asthetic point of view is rather simple. I think it is safe to say that the majority prefer the look of the tiled floor.
These photos quickly show the difference in looks. As far as looks go tiled floor is the way to go, it matches up with the walls whereas the pan stands out in contrasts... but as the saying goes, looks aren't everything.

We don't close on the house for another month so in the mean time I am biding my time reading other fabulous blogs and researching my upcoming DIY projects. In researching tile shower floors I found out there is a problem with them. Tiled shower floors leak, yes even the ones that were "professionally installed". I'm not saying they all leak but even the professionals can mess up the install so I don't want to undertake it, I also don't want to pay a professional and still wind up with a leaky shower.

Leaky showers can cost serious money in repairs, given they can cause water damage to your house. If the base of the tile floor is done wrong that is even more money because you have to start over and pull your tiles up then redo the base. 

For me the simpler and more functional, if not as appealing choice, is the pre-fab. These are just about idiot proof. I have also seen Kohler offers shower pans in various colors so I can avoid the stark contrast. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

DIY Countertop Options under $500


There are many options when it comes to countertops: granite, soapstone, silestone, laminate, stainless steel, tile, quartz, granite, butcher block.
 My favorite is silestone because I'm one of those people who love to cut on their countertops. I would rather use my countertop, spray method, and wipe it clean then have to hand wash or run a cutting board through the washer everytime I need to cut anything! We have 3 cutting boards! Silestone is also attractive (pictured right).

My husband would probably love it to if he knew more about it as an option. His current favorite however is granite countertops, which I'll admit are also pretty nice. The thing both of our favorites have in common? Price, they generally run around the same price (depends on your area) and that price is expensive, especially for how much counterspace we have! I also hate laminate, although it can look nice ultimately its cheap!

Since I'm remodeling the house on a budget of under $10,000 I need to save all the money I can. So when you have to work with less than you get creative and get your hands dirty! I have 3 countertops in our new house and they all need redone! In the kitchen it has a wood grain look (dreadful), in the master bath we have orange yes ORANGE laminate countertops, in the other bathroom we have green laminate countertops... are ya'll noticing a theme... they are all laminate and they are all really old!
So while many would say to splurge on the counter tops I am not sure that I would get a good return on them... and I would really like my custom shower! I will still call for quotes on granite and silestone but even if I did splurge it would be in the kitchen only, which would still leave the bathrooms...

Viable DIY options on the cheap: Tile Countertops (you can even get granite tile), painted countertops, poured concrete countertops, or butcher block countertops. Lets begin by marking countertops off my list.

Smitten Studio Butcher Block Countertops, Remodelista Butcherblock countertops look best in a bright kitchen and I plan on staining my cabinets to a darker rich espresso hue. These aren't the countertops for me. I did stumble across a couple DIY budget kitchen makeovers however and they are a great go to depending on what your style is. These can be had very reasonably at IKEA, and yes you can order them online. While not my favorite kitchen design incorporating butcher block counters on the left you can get an idea of what they look like.

Poured concrete is not a bad idea. has in my opinion the best how to on how to do poured concrete countertops. The best part of their how to is they do it right over the old so you don't have to worry about building out new countertops! Pictured on the right is their finished product. They decided not to stain which is something I would choose to do myself but its nice and under $200!

My favorite option when I first began looking at ideas was the painted countertop, after I had established that if sealed it held up well. Rustoleam has counter transformation cans you can buy but DIY is not hard. I found out about it on The pictured finished product on the left is gorgeous right? Her mom did a $250 kitchen remodel! The cost for the countertops? She said $20, I would say maybe $75 I do think she left off the cost of the sealer and maybe the primer as well.

While I still really like the painted countertops, because isn't it gorgeous? Not to mention painted is going to be the cheapest option! Tile is also a great option, no not subway tiles! I HATE the look of the subway tile countertops. I have found other tile countertops that are attractive however, and they can be done cheaply! did the counter pictured on the right.
If you get a chance check out her blog. Her cabinet transformation was sensational and of course was done on the cheap. If you haven't noticed yet there is a theme going on this blog, it is conserving money! Anyway she estimated the tiles cost her $5 total, she went bargain hunting!

Another tile countertop I like is one that is actually one you would use in the kitchen. This came from
Pictured on the left I think its quiet cute! She did all the work herself and blogged about it including a little advice. Her total for the project came in right under $300, which as she put it is 1/2 the cost of new laminate countertops!

I have to say, I love the internet! Without it I never would have known about, considered, or though I could do many of these options. I also love my fellow bloggers and I hope you check out their blogs, they have some excellent posts! As always I would love feedback so feel free to soundoff below!

Green Roofs


I have long loved the idea of green roofs, cohabitating with nature. I won't go as far as to try to DIY install one on our new house, but I do want to do green roofs on the dog houses (when we build them)! From what I have read green roofs keep the temperatures cooler in the structure which makes them ideal for urban areas where the pavement causes the area to retain heat.

Clover's dog houseMy favorite green dog roof is from (pictured on the left) there is also a similar one on (pictured above), unfortunately neither shows how to build them.I realize the angles in the pictures aren't perfect to see the vegetation growing rooftop but there will be more pictures on other non doggy green roofs to illustrate that point!

I am also interested in having poultry so I have been researching different breeds, what they are best used for, care, feed, and most of all coops. Although you can buy coops I plan on us making our own so I wanted to get an idea on design, materials, how to, etc. Greenroofs are an option on coops too, and one that has been well played. It seems that chicken folk are the
gardening type! has so my favorite one (so far) pictured to the left. I love the colors in the coop its bright and cheerful, although I would pick different colors for my yard!

Its proven that plants improve air quality which seems to be a problem now with so many children and adults diagnosed with asthma. I have also seen a couple documentaries that have tested various peoples air quality in their house and found that it was not conducive to good health.

My last two points in favor of green roofs would be maximizing your space, and being able to grow your own food to eat healthy (sure you could grow flower instead...)

I will post pictures of our attempts to construct not only dog houses but green roof dog houses. You will have to be patient though, that project won't be for a couple months so check back, as always feel free to soundoff below!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

DIY Remodel of a house for under $10,000


As you all know, hubs and I are buying our first house. What you don't know is what the house currently looks like... lets just say the inside is trapped in the seventies, minus the shag carpet. I have so many projects and limited $$$, but that just means that we get creative and do the work ourselves.

Why $10,000 you ask? For me that number was a figure that I feel confident I will recoop when we sell the house. This is our first house and I have no illusions that we will grow old in it, however I think it is a great starter house, a great place to start our family and branch out, customize =)

Our projects?
Remove wallpaper (present in about 1/2 the house)
New Flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms
Refinish or Replace Countertops
Add a privacy fence for the backyard
Paint all the rooms in the house (possible stenciling and wainscotts?)
Refinish all of the cabinets
Add backsplashes
New Interior Doors
Remove Popcorn Ceiling
Refinish Fireplace
Replace Fireplace mantel
Paint exterior sunroom
New Light Fixtures
Custom Walk in Shower
Custom Closet
Custom Guest bath/shower with tub with jets
New Windows
New Hardware
New Faucets
New Sinks
New Toilets

Now, the things I plan to do may or may not change once I start working on the house. I realize I have a pretty tall order given that bathroom remodels can cost over $10,000 by themselves. Labor is a huge expense when remodeling and since we will be doing almost all the work ourselves we will be saving a lot of money. Another way we will be saving money is by shopping for second hand, clearance, and sale merchandise.

We close on the house in a month so check back and you can follow along with my remodel projects, before and afters, and my costs per project! I HATE when you look on a blog and they don't include costs!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kohl's Clearance Clothing


If you have been following along then you know I am FRUGAL (read cheap). Anyway I took my mom shopping at Kohl's to pick up a few birthday gifts for her that she picked out. We spent $200, and saved around $800! I will show ya'll what I got!

All the Pretty Brights - Bath Basics FavoritesAll is Calm - Replenishing Sea Moss Bath Trio

Now I will list prices in order $3.60, $4.00, $2.88, $5.80, $10.00. I also bought some jeans on sale for $19.99, and a really cute top for $3.60. So my total was around $50, but we had a 30% off which brought it down to $35. The top and the yoga pants (first picture) were both originally $36.00, meaning I got 7 things for the price of 1!

I have to say, I am disappointed in the H2O+ products... I haven't tried them yet but I was under the impression the products would be more environmentally friendly and free from sls and parabens... I haven't read anything to indicate they are and I bought them to review for the blog.

I also want to make a point that you could easily spend these prices or more buying 2nd hand!

Have you got a great deal lately. Feel free to sound off below.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Raising Poultry For Your Own Eggs


Since my husband and I began the house buying process I have been considering what I will remodel or change about the house and also looking forward to the freedom of owning a house. No landlord telling me how many or what kind of animals I may have (cities still have ordinances regulating this though).

I have always loved animals and ideally I would love to have a hobby farm... my husband not so much. However I came across the urban chicken movement and learned that in many cities you can keep up to 6 hens in the heart of the city! When looking up the subject I came across two great sites:

I love both of these websites! Anyway I was wondering what alternatives there were to chickens that would lay eggs and there are quiet a few. My favorite backyard capable egg layers are chickens, ducks, and quail! 

Quail is the smallest option, able to be raised even by apartment dwellers. They are all social animals and do best with company so plan on having two at the minimum! 

In addition to be the smallest option Quail lay the smallest eggs, however the eggs are more nutritious than those of a chicken!

All of these birds can lay eggs without their male counterparts, who are only needed if you plan on breeding. In general, if your only keeping a couple birds then the only bird that you would consider keep a male of is the quail since you can have two females to one male of quails where as the other birds require a higher female to male ratio. 

All of these birds can also be eaten, in fact if you raise chicken then count on eating them as their lifespan far outweighs their laying years. Quail have a shorter lifespan and thus can lay pretty much until they die, but are considered a delicacy so you may chose to eat them. Duck meat I can't speak on personally...

As far as coops has coop designs for free. Some people go overboard and spend upwards of a thousand on a coop. I personally want to build a coop DIY, as while as dog houses for our pups =)

What are your thoughts? Are you planning or currently raising laying birds?