Friday, February 09, 2007

Valentine's Day - Frugal or Free Gifts

It's often the small - unexpectedly - kind things that we do for one another that are the most memorable. There is no need to spend a bunch of money, or even any money, on a meaningful gift for someone you love.

Here are some of my favorite frugal ideas for Valentine's Day:

  • Buy a Single Red Rose - in full bloom, a single red rose means "I Love You."
  • Make or Buy his favorite Cookies from the grocery bakery.
  • Buy an "I Love You" balloon and put it in the bathroom or in her car before she gets up.
  • Take the time to find a romantic card, and add your own words to the card - Don't just sign it!!
  • Write "Will You be My Valentine" on a piece of paper and slip it into his lunch box or her purse.
  • Cut a heart shape from blank paper. Write "Will You Be Mine" on it and color around the words with crayons. Place it where she will see it when she gets home.
  • Write "Lucky Me - I have You" across the top of the mirror (with bar soap or lipstick) before you go to bed at night. Make sure the words don't cover the whole mirror and it's still usuable.
  • Have "Your Song" playing when she gets home, and sing along.
  • Write out All the things you love about your mate on little slips of paper and place them in a jar. These things don't have to sound romantic. "I love you because you cleaned up after the dog when I was too tired to do it," is a real expression of love and appreciation. Don't underestimate the power of honest appreciation.
  • Rent his or her favorite movie and plan on watching it with him or her. This is especially meaningful if you don't like the movie and usually won't watch it.
  • Tell your partner you want to go for a drive, and take her to the place where you first met, had a great time there, or something special happened. Talk about the memory and how it made you fall in love with her.
  • Show up at your mate's job with a home-cooked (by you) meal for lunch.
  • Write "I (draw a heart) U" on your forehead and pretend you don't know it's there.
Make the person you love feel truly loved on Valentine's day. That doesn't cost a thing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Who Lives in these Rooms Anyway

I was watching Decorating Cents last night, and as usual they had a segment on interior redesign. In that segment, interior redesigners move the furniture in the room around, then scout throughout the house looking for accessories to bring the room together.

To accessorize they bring in lamps, tables, throws, pillows, plants, candles, art, knic knacs, etc. Once the room is accessorized it looks good. Well, it looks like it's ready for a magazine shoot.

The problem with these rooms is that once they are accessorized, they aren't really comfortable to use. I mean, the room looks great but how are your guests going to sit down when the sofa is covered with pillows and throws?

How do you manage to see the person you are talking to with tall candles or a bunch of flowers on the coffee table? Someone please tell me - what's the point of a coffee table that is so full of accessories (things you don't use) there is no room for your cup of coffee?

Don't people intend to use these rooms? Are the rooms just for looking at? Do the people who live there constantly straighten the throw on the sofa or rearrange the pillows once someone leaves the room?

Are our "living" rooms really supposed to look like magazine ads? Aren't we supposed to live in these rooms? That's what the den is for, you say. Then your intention is to pay for a living room that you can't use, you can only look at, obsess over, and worry about, right?

I don't get it. I mean, I understand that everyone wants their home to look nice. But, who decides what looks nice? Is it up to the designers, or the TV shows, or the mother-in-law...or us?

If you ask me, a room is meant to be used. If you can't use the room without having to worry about everything being straight, centered, fluffed, and unwrinkled, then you have a showcase - not a room for your family to use.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cranium Board Game - Frugal Fun

We spent part of our Entertainment budget this month on a board game called Cranium. Although this game was one of the higher priced games in the store ($18.22), it was a good investment in our Entertainment needs.

Compared to the little value we would have gotten had we spent that money on a movie, a fast food run, or an hour of bowling - this game will give us months, if not years, of fun.

Cranium offers something for everyone. Depending on where you land on the board, you may have to draw with your eyes closed, shape clay into a recognizable form, act out a charades word, unscramble a group of letters, or answer a trivia question.

This game is fun because there is always something different to do. You aren't locked into just trivia (don't you hate it when you can't answer 3 or 4 0r 5 questions in a row), or just charades, or just word scrambles.

If you are good at some activities, but not so good at others, you will still have fun with Cranium, because it's just a matter of time till the fun activities come 'round again.

Cranium is set up for teams, but you can play it with singles. There are three people in our family so we just act out the hints for each other. For example, If a player had to guess a song title while a teammate hummed the song, one (or both) of the other players would hum the song.

Having a teammate wasn't really necessary, and helping each other kept us all interested in the game. We laughed at each other's attempts to hum or whistle a song that we could only remember the chorus to.

Cranium has a family edition of the game that is made for families with younger children (8 and up). We bought their regular version for adults and teens, and my 14 year old daughter enjoyed the game.

I recommend Cranium. The value you receive from this board game is much greater than just about anything else you could spend $20 on.