Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saving Money on Gas  


There is a lot more to saving money and making each dollar stretch, so I decided to continue the series I started yesterday. Today topic is the dreaded rising cost of gas (although, in our area it has stabilized, and gasp, even lowered some over the last month or so; it is still way high though!); so here are some tips to avoid being gouged at the pump...or at least make it hurt a little less!

  1. Hybrid Cars. Buying a hybrid is certainly the most expensive option (upfront anyhow), but maybe the most likely to pay off in the long run...the very long run, since these cars are not cheap! A new Toyota Prius gets 46 miles/gallon and costs about $21,300; a new Honda Civic Hybrid will run you $22,600 and get about 42 mi/gal. You can find lots more information on hybrid vehicles at
  2. Fuel Efficient Cars. A more reasonable (yet still potentially expensive) option is a more fuel efficient car. For those of us driving SUVs, we know they are gas guzzlers (beofre gas started to go down a bit, it was costing us over $90 to fill the tank of our Dodge Durango!), and almost any compact or mid size car will be more fuel efficient. However, there are cars specially designed to be fuel efficient, so you have to fill the tank less often, which definitely translates to lower gas costs for you!
  3. Take the Bus. For those of us who really can't afford a new car, taking the bus can be a great option! If you live in a city with a decent transportation system, look into a bus pass! In our town, bus fare is .75, which can really add up, but you can get a month long pass for $20, which is much cheaper, if you use it enough!
  4. Walk. God gave you two feet, use them! Really though, as a society, we use our cars so much, even when we don't need to! One of our grocery stores is right down the street, so when we are buying a few things (not potatoes, etc), we will put Cheyenne in the Beeb Along, and stroll down the street! Saves gas and is great exercise!
  5. Ride Your Bike. Same idea as walking, it's free, and good exercise. May not work as well for grocery shopping, but can be great for getting to work!
  6. Carpool. If you live near someone who you work with, try carpooling! It will save you both gas, and having someone else in the car can be great company. Carpooling also works well for longer trips! Double points if the person you are carpooling with has a fuel efficient car or a hybrid!
  7. Plan Your Route. Plan out your route ahead of time to eliminate, or at least reduce unnecessary zig zagging. When we are doing multiple errands, we try and do as close to a loop as we can.
  8. Minimize trips out. While you are planning your route, try to fit as many errands into one trip as you can. The fewer times you leave the driveway on 4 wheels, the better it is for your wallet at the gas pump!
  9. Time for School! For parents with school-aged kids, try and use one of the methods above for getting them there. Having them walk, ride their bike (you can go with them if they are young), take the bus, or carpool will save you money and be a good example for your kids!
  10. Comparison Shop. That's right, gas prices vary from "brand" to brand, and from one location to another. Generally, the more populated and closer to a freeway, the more gas is going to cost. We have several Shell stations in town. Two are within a block of each other, and can be more than .10 different in price! And the third station about 2/3 mile away is the cheapest, often being more than .15 cheaper than the expensive one! We have had really good luck with Costco gas lately too, it is generally much cheaper than anywhere else!
Good luck at the pump! Let me know if any of these tips are helpful, and if you have anything you do to save money at the pump! Also, what would you like to see a "tips to save money on" next?

PS-Here is my newest set of cloth wipes! I think they turned out very cute!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

10 Ways to Save Money  


Most of us here is the good ole US of A are feeling the pinch this summer, and with predictions that the economy is only going to get worse for awhile, many people are scrambling to make ends meets, my family included. We are young, Cody is still in school, we have a one year old, I stay home wit her, we each work a part time job (he warehouses, I nanny), and I am still in start up mode for we have had to get creative to save money on daily expenses. Here are some tips I've picked up that might be helpful to you!

Grocery Store/Food: Plan before you shop!

  1. Use coupons. If you get the newspaper, clip coupons; if you don't, check out these two sites (smartsource, couponmom ), or google "grocery coupons" and you will find a bunch online that are free to print.
  2. Look at the ad. The real trick to making coupons worth the work to find them, is to combine them with sale prices. Stocking up on what's on sale can be super helpful too!
  3. Shop around. I have been known to go to several grocery stores to get the best deal (with gas prices the way they are now, that may not be so practical, depending on your area).
  4. Plan your menu. A planned menu means fewer eating-out-at-the-last-minute splurges.
  5. Make a list. If it isn't on the list, and isn't a necessity, don't buy it! This keeps impulse buying (which the stores are designed to make you do) to minimum and saves money!
  6. Plan your trips. Shop your list, which should be written with your menu in mind, and only go once a week, or every other, or whatever works for you. I have found that if I am only at the store once a week, that is less opportunity to impulse buy, buy unhealthy food, and waste gas.
  7. Buy the store brand. With few exceptions, the store brand is going to be cheaper than name brand products. Usually, they are even made in the same factory/plant (that's why their bottles/cans/etc look so similar!)
  8. Stock up. If something you use regularly is on a great sale/coupon, stock up! Be careful to not stock up just because it is a good deal though (I have thrown away more expired cake mixes just because they were on sale), make sure they are products you will really use, before they expire.
  9. Buy bigger. Believe it or not, the larger packages of a product are usually cheaper bu the unit than the small ones. It may cost more up front, but you are getting more for your money.
  10. Eat in. We have pretty much quit eating out, and it has saved us a lot of money. Consider that even making a gourmet type meal at home will cost up to $5/person (and there will probably be leftovers), and eating out will be ($5 at the low fast food end) an average of $9-$20/person! That's a big difference! If you like eating out for the variety, dig out some cookbooks! We made buttermilk brined fried chicken for the first time last night and it was great! (I'll post the recipe later, but it was from the Betty Crocker book) If you eat out to avoid having to cook all the time, try assigning your husband or older kids a night. Another fun way to make it easy, when you make something like soup, chili, or casseroles, make double and freeze half to pull out another night!
I hope these tips help! Look for more fun ways to save money coming soon! If you have any great tips, please comment and share them!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

3 Years and love is still in the air!  


Time really flies, doesn't it? In the last three years...

  • I got married
  • Continued college classes (Cody also in school)
  • Got Pregnant
  • Austyn Nicole was stillborn
  • Declared myself done with school
  • Went on a 2nd mission trip to Mazatlan, Mexico
  • Cody went back to school to become an elementary teacher
  • Got pregnant again
  • Cody graduated (with his BA, still teaching classes left to go)
  • Cheyenne Lorrayne was born (yay!)
  • Cody continued school
  • I started CheyLoCreations
  • Cheyenne turned 1
  • Cody began his student teaching
  • and's our three year anniversary!

Oh, and we've moved from two places on campus, to our apartment together once we got married, to a duplex, to a house we are sharing with some friends...goodness, we've been busy! There is no one I would rather be spending this time with, Cody is my husband, my best friend, my soulmate, my future, my life.

Cody, happy anniversary, you have my love, always, in all ways!

EtsyBaby Treasury!  


EtsyBABY does a ton of amazing treasuries, and I am so excited to be in one! Check out this link and look at these super cute babies!

OhBaby Treasury

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wonderful Wipes  


I have been busy this evening and because of that, you all can look forward to a new stock of cloth wipes in the CheyLoCreations etsy shop within the next couple of days! There will be some old favorites making a reappearance as well as many new goodies!

In more news, look for a link to a CheyLoCreations giveaway in the next day or two! It will be an awesome prize, so you will definitely want to enter!

Go Green Tip: Cloth wipes make great lunch box napkins! They come in so many fun prints, every kiddo can find one they love!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cheyenne is One!  


Wow, a year goes by fast when you are having fun! And sleep deprived and all that other fun mommy stuff too! On August 20, 2007, after 40 hours of labor (8 of transition) at home, Cheyenne was born into water. It was the most amazing experience of my life! What an awesome way to welcome our new little one, in our own home. I know homebirth isn't for everyone, but it worked for our family.

We are planning a small bbq potluck for her party this weekend, with chocolate cake (wheat and dairy free for our allergy girl, or course) for the first time! Tonight though, she will get some frsoted teething cookies or something, for her actual day.

I would also like to extend the celebration to all of you! Today only, 10% off all items in my shop, even clearance! Just put "10%" in notes to seller at checkout, and I will send you a revised invoice! Browse Shop Now!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Showcase Tacoma Promo Packs  


Recently I had a booth at Showcase Tacoma and gave out promo packs full of great business cards, promotional materials and samples from many many amazing etsy sellers! The packs were a hit, and will be offered at many more shows or mine! Please contact me if you are interested in participating in the future!

Don't these look great? Everything from earrings to pencils, to soap and lotion to photography to stuffed animals and greeting cards, and so much more!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Snap Press Arrived!  


I make pacifier clips (Paci Keepers) that are metal free. Until now, I have used velcro as the closure (instead of snaps); the reason I have kept them metal free is pretty simple: my baby (who is nearly not a baby anymore!) puts hers in her mouth and I didn't want metal in her mouth! For the same reason, I use plastic clips for the clip end (instead of metal suspender clips); it is also more gentle for her clothes.

Now a few details about my daughter...she is very active, very sensitive and very busy! She had discovered how to open the velcro, thereby releasing the sucker (her paci), which then can fall on the floor! I realize most babies will never try, never figure this out, and certainly will not find it as much fun as Cheyenne; however for the few who might, it was time to change the closure material!

I researched and discovered plastic (poly resin) snaps (like the ones used on many diaper covers). The upsides: much more durable and difficult for baby to open and snaps are relatively inexpensive. The downsides, the snaps can only be applied with special snap presses, and the presses are not cheap! I did find a supplier with reasonable rates, and ordered one (from China).

I was super excited when it arrived 11 days after I ordered it and it works like a charm! I am now in the process of clearancing the old style clips and making new ones (they will be available at the next craft show on September 6th, and online after that!). The velcro style will still work fine for younger babies, and for most older babies as well.

The new and improved paci keepers will be available soon and will just as affordable as their predecessor!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nursing for Modest Mama's  


I am so excited to announce that my nursing covers are now in stock! My husband and daughter helped with an epic photo shoot yesterday so I could get them listed, and now here they are. More prints will be added over the next couple of days also. With the way etsy's search function works, it is important to spread out listings, but they will all be up soon!

Ironically, I never intended to use nursing covers, and didn't while my daughter was very small, which is why they were not originally part of my product line. However, when Cheyenne was about 7 or 8 months old, she started to get distracted while nursing. She would look at people walking by, the tv, a spot on the wall, anything at all! It was starting to drive me batty, so I gave in and made a nursing cover, and now, I wouldn't live without it!

The CheyLoCreations nursing covers are unique; each one is a different print, so you will be the only one with that cover! CheyLocreations nursing covers are larger than most on the market, come with a matching tote bag, have a peek-a-boo rigid neckline, adjustable straps and are two-sided!

Too see the selection, click here: Shop Nursing Covers Now!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tips for Choosing a Look for Your Business  


Going through the process of doing, and then redoing, the look of CheyLoCreations, I learned a few things, and I thought I might share them with you all. Hopefully someone will find them useful.

1. What is your target market (who are your customers, who are your end users)?

2. What overall feel do you want (modern, elegant, earthy, young, mature, etc)?

3. A logo is really very personal, a designer will want some input from you, so you need to have at least a general idea of what you might like. Several ideas would be even better. If you or someone else can sketch your idea, even better. It is really really really hard to explain something online, without a picture.

4. Shop around, try to find a designer who's previous work matches the style you are after. Many designers have a definite style, you want to make sure that works with what you want.

5. Get referrals from other business owners whose look you admire or identify with.

6. Have a budget, but realize you will need to pay for the service and skills of a graphic designer.

7. If you have a deadline, communicate that clearly, and make sure your designer can and will meet it. Try to plan in extra time, especially if working with a one-person company. Most etsy graphic designers have lives, families, other jobs, and can have a family emergency, or weather calamities as easily as you can! Basically, try not to procrastinate like I did!

8. Know what you will be using the graphics for (banner, avatar, packaging, mailings, etc) and communicate this to the designer. I personally needed my logo in a format that I could put on my product labels, and could manipulate the size of. Certain programs are needed (on the designers side of things) in order to do this.

9. Be flexible, and communicate clearly. If you don't like something, try and explain why, so that the next proof will be more likely to work for you. This is where giving your designer a clear idea of what you want ot begin with comes in handy.

10. Try to relax and let your designer do what they do best!

The Journey to a Logo and a New Look  


Pink and Brown are my favorite colors, so I chose them for my business (banner, avatar, business cards, website, etc) was all pink and brown. The problem arose when I belatedly realized that that much pink might be a turn off to potential customers, especially moms and dads of boys, and well, dads in general. And the closest thing to a logo were the hand prints I had put on my banner and avatar in photoshop (I used photoshop, much tears were shed, but they turned out well at the end of it) which I then had included on my business cards and cloth labels for my products. Because hand prints scream baby, right, haha, not so much I realized. It is important to me that people look at my branding efforts and know at least generally what they will find in my shop/booth/website. So the obvious answer became...remodel, intensively remodel.

I made this decision just about three weeks before Showcase Tacoma, where I was to sell my goods August 8-9 (which I did, and had a great time). So, I shopped around on etsy, hired a brilliant designer to do a logo, banner, avatar, business card, etc etc etc. I was super excited...until this question showed up in my inbox: "So, what would you like your logo to be (what main element/image)?" (paraphrased). I had falsely assumed the graphic designer would do it all...but really, my input was needed, which makes sense since a logo is so personal, and also so public (it could, foreseeabley represent one's company forever). So I started thinking and decided to stay with the hand print. Once I received a proof, I realized a hand print was just not going to cut it; it really doesn't represent my products, or my core beliefs about parenting and baby products. She agreed, I gave her an idea, and she was going to work on it. Status: Still no real progress and only a week and a half until the show.

After not hearing from the designer for a while, I asked my husband to doodle some logo ideas and he came up with one I love (the one that now represents CheyLoCreations)! I really liked that he had drawn it too, it fits with our family run business model. So I passed on the idea to my designer, she liked it, and we were going to move forward. More time passes. Several frantic emails later, it turns out she had a family emergency and was unable to finish by my deadline. I totally understood, thanked her for her time, received my refund and began to absolutely panic. Status: Have a handdrawn logo that I have no way to edit, no banner, etc; Sunday the week of the show (Friday/Saturday show), and I need to be able to print new labels, business cards, etc all by Thursday. ANd of course I have my heart set on having it all done by the show.

This has some practical purposes. I did not want to hand out cards in the old style, then get everything redone and have people wind up a site that does not match at all; too confusing. So, I post in the etsy forums in a panic and find a wonderful woman willing to help. Sasserstrom Designs did a beautiful job bringing my logo to life, picked really cool colors, and was super patient, all for a great price and in a serious time crunch! I am so so so grateful!

So, it all got finished, I was able to redo my esty shop, and print the business cards in time for the show. I stayed up until 3am early early Friday morning in order to get my website redesigned and relaunched, and then was able to sleep for two hours, before waking at 5 am to shower and drive from my parent's house in Bellevue down to Tacoma for a 7am setup, with my wonderful husband and oh so helpful daughter, 11 month old Cheyenne.

It was a very stressful couple of weeks, but I ended up with what I wanted with a little (okay a lot) of help from my friends, and I think it turned out well. What do you think?