What I've been doing...

In the online world, I've been over at Housewife Eclectic a bit... see a few of my favorite web-things here, here, and here.

In the real world, I've been snuggling these sweet cheeks

in between playing and rocking and reading with the best little boy in the whole world

and appreciating their fantastic daddy

and reminding myself that it's been not even three weeks while chanting the phrase "nine months to put it on, nine months to take it off..." :)

Thanks for reading! If naptime goes well (and long) tomorrow, I'll be back then to wrap up this month's Housewife MacGyver... if not, then I'll see you sometime! :)

Housewife MacGyver: Tips for a Handmade Business from Rachel the Kooky Queen

As part of our month spent developing our talents and smarts, today we have my good friend Rachel from A Little Bit of Kooky and The Bowlicious Bowtique here to share a few pointers on starting your own handmade business, to take your creative endeavors from a hobby straight to the bank! :)

Hi Housewife McGyver fans!
I'm Rachel---The Kooky Queen from
A Little Bit of Kooky

I bet there are a lot of you amazing and crafty gals out there who are making your fabulous items, wondering "Hmm...could this make money?"

My answer to you?

Most definitely!

Those crocheted shorts your hubby is getting millions of comments CAN bring in the bucks!

It's just all about getting it out there!

To the right crowd, the right people.

But how?


I started making hair bows for my daughters 4 years ago.
Granted, they were pretty stinking enormous and very crappy looking.

But eventually it blossomed to what it is today, a thriving online business.

So Step 1:
Make sure you have perfected your product.
This means that you have spent much time making your product beautiful and perfect. Then it will most definitely catch the eye of your desired crowd.

Once my bows were looking darn cute, I made sure my girls were walking advertisements.
Step 2:

Advertise in any way you can!
This part can be inexpensive! I have done giveaways on blogs, passed out business cards I designed myself and printed through Vista Print, made Facebook fan pages, and spread the word through friends and family. These were a tremendous help to getting my business started.

Step 3:
Find ways to get your business OUT THERE!
I started small with the local farmer's market that allowed crafters like myself to come in. It was a small investment of a shade tent and a fold up table. Make sure you have a pretty good inventory. The more items on your table, the more likely people are to stop and look. The fees at the markets are very minimal compared to huge craft shows and boutiques. Once my business grew, I was able to afford the larger avenues and events. But make your business known! The more exposure, the more you'll make.

Step 4:
Branch out online!
I started by making a blog and using PayPal buttons so people could purchase them. I tried to make it look as professional as possible. Click the button below to see.

Bowlicious Bowtique

I still have this site and now I just advertise discounts, giveaways and new items because blogging is a very hot thing these days. I taught myself a little html to make my own blog buttons and eventually, when my blog was doing well and I had a lot of sales, I moved it to a *real* site where I pay a small monthly fee of $15.00 a month. I created it myself through much online searching so I didn't have to pay someone to set it up for me.
And if I can do it, SO CAN YOU!
I promise, it's not as daunting as you think. I use only PayPal transactions so accepting credit cards is easy. I have also tried Etsy and eBay. Both worked well but remember, some of those websites will have a lot of competition and might not be worth the fees. They weren't for me so I chose to spend my energy on my own site.

I hope these tips will help some of you ladies, who have great talents and are looking for a way to share them and earn some money for your family. It's not difficult and if you have the desire and the motivation, you can totally do it!!!

Thanks, Rachel! And don't forget to stop by A Little Bit of Kooky for a laugh (because Rachel is seriously funny! check out one of my very favorite posts here) and then swing by The Bowlicious Bowtique to check out Rachel's fantastic handiwork... I have a very long wishlist of bows for my little girl (or maybe for me...), starting with these gorgeous ranunculus clips...

This post is part of the Housewife MacGyver series on just Lu. Read more about Housewife MacGyver and see all the posts in the series here.

Housewife MacGyver: Paying For Your Academic Goals

Keira is here again with another phenomenal post. As part of our academic MacGyver month, Keira will show you how to to pay for the schooling you've always wanted... using just a Swiss Army knife! Just kidding about the knife, but really, you don't have to be a financial guru (or use the knife to rob a bank) to achieve your schooling goals debt-free. Here's Keira to tell you how:

Hello again! I'm Keira, and I am a part-student, part-SAHM. Although I have done other posts on many different topics, why should you listen to me about paying for your education? Because I am about to finish my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology completely debt-free! This is my way of giving back for all the help I received to get my [priceless] education. You can do it, too!

First, let's define some terms:

Tuition: This is the cost of attending your classes. And a fact everyone seems to know is that it's expensive. What's sad is that even though tuition is a killer, it often doesn't include hidden fees (such as a lab fee, language fee, distance education fee, or "course" fee). I know. It's sad. That's how they getcha.

Books: These are almost always separate from your other fees, because classrooms rarely, if ever, provide textbooks for their entire class(es). These can be hundreds of dollars, even if you get the e-book version, because nowadays, they can come with specialized software for the students.

Scholarships: by definition, these are awards of money, or tuition waiving, that are given to a student. They are not expected to be paid back, except if conditions otherwise state (such as "If you fail a class, you must pay back the scholarship award").

Grants: Grants are sums of money given (usually by a government entity, either State or Federal) to a student, with no obligation to pay it back, unless you drop or fail a class. These are given on an as-needed basis, so you have to meet a certain level of income to qualify. You have to re-apply every year, in case your income has changed, because if it has, your awarded amount could be changed as well.

Student Loans: These are loans that can come from a variety of lenders--the US Department of Education loans money to poorer students with fantastic terms, but your bank or Credit Union probably would give you a student loan. This money has to be repaid, regardless of whether you finish your education, are dissatisfied with the quality of your education, you can not find a job, or even if you file bankruptcy. In short, you will always pay your taxes and your student loans. :)

Whew! With those out of the way, here's some ideas to get around those student loans:

Let's start with Tuition:

There are always ways to get around tuition. First and foremost is a scholarship, especially those that are awarded by the school itself--usually if you get a scholarship from the school, they have no problem waiving all or part of the tuition.

When you receive a grant through the government, you won't receive a check to spend how you like--it is credited to your college account to pay the balance. Anything leftover is yours to spend, after tuition and fees are paid for in full.

Discounted or free tuition is often given to employees of the University. Check with your potential college to see what they offer. Usually you can get some sort of discount, even being a janitor at the school. Plus, working at your University can have other benefits: you work with professors who can give you letters of recommendation, you can build your resume, and your employer will often work with your school schedule!

On Books:

The university's bookstore will make you pay the maximum price for a book. I'd suggest going there last. If you have any time, I suggest going online to search for your books. I use Amazon for their selection, and that's just the truth, not an advertisement. :)

Often, electronic versions of the textbook (if available), are cheaper, especially when you calculate shipping in. They're often the most current edition of the book as well.

On Scholarships:

Scholarships are not just for a 4.0 GPA, but not everyone knows that. Scholarships can be academic-based (my most recent one required a 3.0 GPA, not a 4.0!), activity-based (such as a sports scholarship), need-based (did you know that??), and lots of "other-based".

If you are handicapped in any way, if you are the first in your family to attend college, are poor, are a parent, are a minority, are short, or can make a tux out of duct tape for prom, there's a scholarship for you! People are silly with scholarship money, so don't give up hope! And if you feel lost in the sea of the internet looking for them, start at your school's website. They usually can have you apply once there, and it will be an application for all (or most) of their grants/scholarships!

On Grants:

You may think you have to be a special kind of poor to get government grants to go to school. :) But you don't. Even if you don't think it will be worth your time, please apply. Even if you only get a few hundred dollars, it's totally free money, and it can buy quite a few books. :)

Also, if you plan to get a special-terms loan from the government, you have to use the same application, but just check that you are interested in both grants AND loans. What could it hurt?

Also, grants are not conditional on your earning your degree. You really can take a class or two, try it out, and then not continue school. So, take a watercolor class. :) You can get grants for technical degrees and trade schools as well!

On Loans:

Alright. Be prepared to hear it from me. Try your best not to go into debt! It's just sad how hard it can be to climb out of it, but how easily it is incurred.

Remember that you cannot excuse yourself from student loans, unlike everything else. Sometimes, they can garnish your wages if you won't pay. Although I believe that an education would be one of the best things to go into debt for, try your best not to go there unless needed. Nowadays people use student loans like it's "free money"--buying cars with it, living large off of it, paying for vacations with it, and once I heard someone buying a house with them! But it's NOT free money, even if the interest doesn't accrue until 6 months after you graduate, even if they say the payment is next to nothing.

I hate to sound like a old grump, but I worked two jobs, as did my husband, to pay for what grants and scholarships wouldn't cover. We worked hard and we scrimped and saved, and even had a baby while in school. It IS possible. It won't be easy. But an easy education is a contradictory term. :)
I hope this helps all of you out there who desire learning (not even necessarily an education or degree), but don't know where to start or how to pay for it. I have treasured my education and my time in college, it has changed my life. I hope that it will do the same for you. Best of luck in all your learning!

Thanks, Keira! My husband and I also graduated with our Bachelors degrees without any student debt (hurrah!), so I, too, can attest that it IS possible. As I was applying for scholarships, my wise old dad would always tell me that it was time well-spent because, "Even if you spend 3 hours on the application and only get 100 bucks out of it, that's still WAY more money per hour than you'll make scrubbing toilets." And my job at the time was actually scrubbing toilets, and he was SO right. :)

Pop on over and say hello to Keira, and feel free to ask any questions you might have, too!

This post is part of the Housewife MacGyver series on just Lu. Read more about Housewife MacGyver and see all the posts in the series here.

Our little pineapple...

is here! And with perfect timing to have Daddy in between trainings and school starting. I always knew any daughter of mine would be an over-achiever like that ;)

So, things might be a little slower around here for a bit. I'm not going away, not by a long shot... just maybe scaling things back a bit, since blogging *should* always come after family. And because I'm not nearly organized enough to plan ahead for things like this :)

We are all well here and loving life. And Pudge and the rest of us are loving our little PiƱa:

Thanks for all your support and well-wishes!

Friday Confessional: A bag o' random


I'm weird and always try to theme my confessions... but today that's just not really happening. So welcome to the bag o' random confessional! :)

I confess that I went to the dentist this week.

I confess that I love going to the dentist. I love having clean clean teeth. And it doesn't hurt that my dentist always compliments my teeth, too. I like thinking that something in my life is perfect. :)

I confess that I always feel like the dental hygienist (the one who cleans my teeth) knows more about me than she actually (probably) does. I mean, if she can tell that I don't floss as often as I should and that I had corn on the cob for lunch, what else could she know about my deep dark secrets?!?

I confess that we are probably putting in an offer on an *adorable* house today, or at least soon.

I confess that I never thought the day would come when my husband, who some call the cheapest man alive, who is a huge save-save-saver, would voluntarily be wanting to put an offer on a house. The house is that awesome. And that cheap. :)

I confess that I hope to be coming home from the hospital with my baby any day now! No, I haven't actually had her yet. I'm just WAY more excited to bring her home than I am for the L&D part of it. :)

I confess that I still have a huge list of before-baby projects.

I confess that I've stopped caring about the aforementioned list. What happens will happen and if it means she'll come TODAY, I'll give up on the whole list. At least for a few weeks. :)

I confess that I'm not sure how this whole baby thing will affect this here blog. I don't plan on calling it quits, but I don't plan on still blogging as frequently (or infrequently :) as I have been. I have some Housewife MacGyver guests lined up and we'll see where this goes from there. Thanks for being along for the ride! 

Housewife MacGyver: Teacher's Wish List from On the Banks of Squaw Creek

Today I am so thrilled to welcome Katie from On the Banks of Squaw Creek. She's a teacher and a mom to two adorable boys, and she and her husband raise turkeys! How cool is that? But she's not here today to talk turkey (pun TOTALLY intended) -- instead she's giving us a taste of the *real* teacher wish list, not just the supply list that the PTA sends home...

I'm Katie, and my husband and I raise turkey that ends up on your Subway sandwiches.  (Seriously!)  We are also raising two little boys, and I am a part time teacher.  I blog about our life On the Banks of Squaw Creek.

With the help of some of my teacher-friends, I put together a little Teacher's Wish List for this fall.  These are all things that you, as a parent, can do to make a teacher's job a little easier:

1.  Read to your children.  Every day.

Source: google.com via Danae on Pinterest

Seriously, how many times have you heard that?  But we keep saying it, because it makes such a HUGE difference.

2.  Be interested.
  • Read the newsletter!  It takes a lot of time for teachers to put this together and contains important information.
  • Ask your child about their day.  But don't stop at, "What did you learn today?"  Be specific.  You will get more information from your children that way.  Here are some ideas...
    • What did you do in math/science/reading today?
    • What was your favorite/least favorite part of the day?
    • What was hardest for you today?  Easiest?
    • Who did you play with at recess?
    • Who did you help today?  Who helped you? 

3.   Seek and accept help.  For two years, I taught students who struggled in math and reading.  Some of the worst situations I dealt with involved parents who refused to believe that their child needed help.  On the flip side, parents who recognized that there was a problem and sought out help for their children were really an asset to their education, and those students flourished.

4.  This one is a big one for me, and might be something you haven't thought about.  If there is a problem, DO NOT blame the teacher or school in front of the student.  Do not put the teacher down in front of the student, either.  Doing so teaches the child to place blame on others, instead of taking ownership and doing their best to solve problems on their own. It also breaks down the student/teacher relationship and the student no longer respects the teacher.  When this happens, it is virtually impossible to motivate a student and the child may cause classroom discipline problems.  Instead, model how to disagree with someone and confront them about a problem respectfully.  Work cooperatively with the teacher to solve problems, and you will be teaching your child a valuable social skill.
    5.  Send cookies.  Everyday. (We'd also accept cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, or just plain chocolate.)

    Come visit me for more parenting ideas (like teaching empathy), to learn more about our farm, see our house remodeling projects, or take a look at my cute boys.  There's something for everyone On the Banks of Squaw Creek!

    Thanks, Katie! What a great wish list! Now, Housewives, it's up to each of us to make those teachers' wishes come true!

    And don't forget to stop over by Katie's place -- be sure to check out her genius pull-out pantry and children's book storage.

    Thanks for reading and MacGyvering along!

    This post is part of the Housewife MacGyver series on just Lu. Read more about Housewife MacGyver and see all the posts in the series here.

    Becoming the Housewife MacGyver ACADEMICALLY

    It's August which means back-to-school is just around the corner! At our house, since my husband is a teacher, this calls for a hip hip hooray! And that's HIM hipping and hooraying, not me. :) Well, I am too, but mostly him. We love summer but we really thrive with just the little bit of structure that come from daddy coming and going to work. :)

    With this back-to-school time in mind, August is our month to MacGyver our brains -- to become more like the Mac academically (both in and out of formal classroom settings).

    So what is academic self-reliance? As with most of our month themes, the definition and application of academic self-reliance is individual for each of us and our families. I'll tell you what it means to me, and you tell me what it means to you!

    For me and my family, academic self-reliance is, firstly, using our brains to do our own thinking. Our brains are our #1 resource in any situation, but so often we just float through life uninformed, apathetic, and disconnected. Okay, maybe y'all don't, but I sure do!

    Secondly, academic self-reliance is using our brains in different ways, both in and out of formal classroom settings. By stretching the limits of our brains (even just the 10% that we actually use ;), we can deepen our talents, develop new talents, and discover what we, both as individuals and as families, succeed at and love to do! Isn't that all anyone can ask for?

    So, with my definitions in mind, my academic goals this month are to

    1 - Keep up with the news. As connected as I am (or at least as I feel) online, I tend to skip over the nitty gritty of the world, the economy, the news and jump to the fun stuff like my blog reader full of craft and recipe blogs... which means I can come up with 15 different ways to repurpose an old cookie sheet (using just a glue gun and Mod Podge) but I don't know diddly squat about anything in the news.

    So, I will read the news (at least the front page) every day and then talk with my husband about it over dinner. (He watches Good Morning America while doing his lesson prep in the mornings, so he's covered ;)

    2 - Spend more time reading and playing academically with my son. We read and we play, but he is at the age where he is picking up on EVERYTHING so quickly, so it's important to me to not lose this opportunity to have him soak up the smart things along with the fun things. With this baby coming any day now, it's not realistic for me to plan too much structure, but we'll be taking every opportunity to talk about shapes, colors, letters and numbers.

    via flickr

    3 - Write more. I don't mean blog more or write myself more crazy notes and lists (which I will promptly lose), but write more to use my atrophying technical writing (and editing) skills. I am a technical writer by training, but I haven't kept up hardly any practice in the 2.5 years since I finished my degree and left my job to stay at home with my son. I keep wanting to do so some freelance work and just feeling too rusty, so I'm going to get the gears oiled up so I'm ready for freelance!

    So now, tell me -- what does academic self-reliance mean to you? And what are you going to try this month to become more MacGyver?

    This post is part of the Housewife MacGyver series on just Lu. Read more about Housewife MacGyver and see all the posts in the series here.

    Wednesday's Weather...

    I'm over at Housewife Eclectic today talking about the weather. Not just small talk... app talk. :) Come on over to learn about some fun weather apps and how to receive weather forecasts on your phone, even if it's not smart at all. :)

    Thanks for reading! I'll be back tomorrow to debut our next-up Housewife MacGyver topic, and don't forget to leave me a comment or drop me a line at iamjustlu@gmail.com if you'd love to be a guest for an upcoming month!
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