Friday, January 27, 2012

DIY Faux Capiz Shell Chandelier

We have been working here and there on the nursery.  Design is not my forte, and we are on a tight budget, so it takes me a long time to make decisions.  Finally, I found a light fixture option that had was I was looking for aesthetically and in the price department.  A tutorial for a faux capiz shell chandelier on Pinterest that really caught my eye, so I followed the tutorial at Freshly Picked, with a few changes.

Here is how to make your own.

Parchment Paper
Old metal-frame lamp shade or metal basket
Wax Paper   (2 boxes, cheap store brand is OK)
White Thread   (1-2 spools)
1.75'' Circle Punch   (I used Fiskars Lever Punch, X-Large, Circle)
1'' Circle Punch  (I used the Marth Stewart 1-Inch Punch Circle.  My one issue is it can't cut single circles, you must double up.  That was OK for this project but might be a pain in the future)
Swag Hooks  (I got the set at Home Depot, it anchors right in the ceiling and will hold 30 lbs)

Total Cost- About $30.  The circle punches can be pricey, watch Joann's for sales.

Total Time - I made this over the course of 4 days, it was rather tedious and time consuming.  I'd guess about 10 hours.  Definitely a great project to do with a friend or while watching a movie!

1. Layer 3 two-foot strips of wax paper between piece of parchment paper.  Four layers is about the most I could do.  Iron your stack of papers, and don't be shy!  The more you iron, the more wrinkly and capiz-esque your paper will look.  Remove ironed wax paper layers, and replace with fresh sheets.  You can, of course, reuse the parchment paper.  Repeat this for, what feels like, a thousand times.
2. Accordion fold the wax paper and punch away.  

3. Strip down your lamp shade to the bare metal.  If needed or desired, add an extra row of wire for an additional tier.  I didn't get a 'before' shot, but this should give you an idea.

4.  Now that you have your large and small circles cut out, it is time to arrange them.  First you need to know what length of strips to make.  I put my lampshade frame up against the ceiling, and measured from the bottom how long I wanted- about 11''.  That meant I wanted to make roughly 22'' long strips, that I then folded over the frame.  I used a pencil to lightly mark 22'' on my desk, and laid out a row of circles, intermixing large and small at random.

At first, I did this for each individual strip.  This takes forever!  To save time, once you've laid out a strip, make at least 5 piles of layered circles in matching order. 

5.  Then you just chain stitch sew each of the six strips, and start again.

6. As you go, you can layer the strips onto your frame.  Once you finish a section, cover the top with a stripe of hot glue to keep in place.

7.  Remove your previous light fixture, and hang up completed chandelier in it's place with swag hooks.

8.  Step back and enjoy your beautiful new chandelier!

Light off, in the afternoon

Light on, nighttime
Not too bad for $30!  Plus, at night it casts pretty shadows on the wall.

Somewhat Simple you are talking too much /> The DIY Show Off

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Having a Baby on a Budget

At 39 weeks, 6 days pregnant, I have baby on the brain! 

My first inner impulse was to go buy all the 5 star, mom-recommended baby products on Amazon.  Ben reminded me that even though we recently became debt-free (thanks, Dave Ramsey!), we've still got the house to pay off and other large expenses coming up.  So, we sat down and came up with a budget of about $2000 for baby supplies, feeding, diapering, outfitting for the first year.  Add that to the $2000 infertility treatment, the $5000 + 20% deductible, and we are looking at a pricey kid.

Here are some ideas for cutting costs and staying within a budget:

Medical Bills
1. Aflac Supplement- When we decided to get pregnant, we signed up for two Aflac insurance plans to supplement my regular insurance that will pay out about $1900 for a normal delivery (more for a caesarean).  After the premium payments of $70 per month for 11 months, that is a $1130 savings.

2. Use an HSA-  That means that our portion of the bill will be paid with before-tax income, at a savings of 15-30%.

3. Birth centers often are much less expensive than hospitals.  Our local Boise birth center charges $3500 for everything- prenatal visits, delivery, postpartum check ups.  Because this is our first child, we going the traditional hospital route in case I want that epidural.  If I can hack unmedicated birth, though, in the future we'll try the birth center out.


1. We plan on cloth diapering baby Martineau.  Cloth diapers have come a long way, and now have become nearly as convenient as disposables.  Over the course of the years our little one is in diapers, we estimate we'll save $2,000-3,000.

Even with cloth diapering, this is still the second most expensive category for baby.  Here is the $600 budget breakdown:

18 Bumgenius Elemental Organic All-in-One Diapers ~ $360  (this was a bit of a splurge, but I wanted the easiest to use and these come highly rated.  Also, we got the kind with snaps so they should last for at least two kids.  The resale value is also very high.  A great way to save here is to buy them at the seconds sale from the manufacturer at
Cloth Wipes ~ $2 - homemade from old flannel pajamas and a 1/2 yard of terry cloth
7th Generation Newborn & Stage 1 Disposables and Wipes ~ $70  (Baby won't fit into cloth until about 6 weeks)
Diaper Sprayer ~ $23  (Sigma brand on Ebay)
Wet Bags ~ $30  (Amazon and Etsy are two good places to look.
Step Trash Can with Carbon Lid ~ $60  (If I had it to do again, I'd go for the Diaper Dekor Plus and then get the matching liner on Etsy)
Charlies Gentle Detergent ~ $8
Cloth Wipe Spray Ingredients ~ $30
Changing pad & Covers ~ $9  (easily found at garage and consignment sales)
Changing Table ~ $40 for a dresser on craigslist
Diaper Bag ~ $60 (unnecessary splurge for a highly coveted Vera Bradley bag.  Great prices on Ebay)

The good news is, year two should be significantly less, as will the cost for future babies.


 1. Breastfeeding is inexpensive AND helps shed baby pounds!  Supplies, like My Brest Friend, nursing covers, pumps, etc. can be found very inexpensively at thrift and consignment stores.  

2. Sign up at all the major formula companies websites.  Around your due date, they will start sending you high value coupons and full-size formula samples. 

3. Practice baby-led weaning.  Baby starts on the solids that the rest of the family is eating, only perhaps a bit more cooked for softness.  

4. Make your own baby food with your blender and ice cube trays.  Very inexpensive and healthy!  There are tons of recipes online.


1. For safety issues, car seats should not be used if they are expired or have been in an accident.  Be careful buying used for these reasons.  

2. We found the best deals here at garage and consignment sales.  I did splurge on an Ergo carrier on Ebay- those are hard to find cheap!

3. Make your own Moby-style wrap with a $2 bolt of jersey fabric from Walmart.

The Nursery

All in all, we spent about $600, including all babies toys, accessories, clothes, etc.  This is a great area to pinch pennies if you need.  

1. Shop thrift stores, consignment and garage sales, craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon Warehouse for the best deals.  Remember that a lot of things you won't need right away, so you can take the time to wait for the best price.

2. DIY Decorate.  Check out Pinterest for great ideas that you can do yourself to save money but still have a cute nursery.

3. It is difficult to find a good second-hand fixed-side crib.  We ended up getting a drop-side at a garage sale ($5!) and then Ben sturdily bolted the sides to make it a fixed-side crib.  Safety problems solved, and over $100 saved. 

All in all, we have spent $1300 on everything we will need for baby's first year.  Most of those items will be reusable with additional children. Babies don't have to be expensive!