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406th Penny Pinching Party

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Are you lucky enough to have a dining room that you don't use? Check out my dining room conversions! I finally use the space and love it!!!

Evolution of a Dining Room and Reclaimed Space

Sunday, September 24, 2017

In the 7 years that I've lived in my current house, the dining room has evolved more than any other room. I always dreamed of having a formal dining room until I actually had one. It turns out that I prefer hosting large gatherings in the spacious kitchen/great-room.

This is my formal living room looking into the dining room before we moved in. Oh the possibilities!!! I was so excited to get to work.

The formal living room has windows and doorways on every wall, so it took a lot of thought and planning to decorate. Here is my post about decorating the living room:

Since this post, I've closed off the dining room wall to create my walk-in pantry, and changed the living room arrangement. New Living Room Post to come soon.

I decided that the dining room would better serve our family as an office for the kids to do homework and play games. I already had 2 IKEA desks and cabinets from our old house and only needed to buy another desk and some shelving to make it work. I used some dining room chairs from our old kitchen table and kept this makeover very thrifty.

Even the dog liked it! I kept this arrangement for a few years until our oldest son turned 18 and we let him have his computer in his bedroom (gasp!). The whole purpose of the dining room office was so that I could keep an eye on what my kids were doing in a public space. With only 2 kids in the office, I decided that they could go into a smaller room that is close to the kitchen and still public (yes, this house has a lot of rooms and I know that I am very spoiled).

Even though I finally have my dream kitchen, it didn't come with my dream walk-in pantry. I decided that the dining room would make the perfect walk-in pantry, but I didn't want it viewable from the formal living room and I didn't want to do anything permanent. I separated out the 2 rooms by going to IKEA and buying 2 Hemnes bookcases at 50% off.

My very nice and patient husband put the bookcases together and used trim to make them look like built-in bookcases. They are not nailed into the wall and can easily be slipped out to open the room back up. It was the perfect solution!!! When we go to sell the house in the future, we can pull the bookcases out and turn it back into a dining room.

We painted the bookcases white and I applied dark navy blue fabric to the back of them. I love how this turned out and was happy to be able to put the couch on this wall facing the windows instead of in front of the windows. We use the formal living room room a lot more now that we can sit and look out the windows and enjoy the view. 

This is what the bookcases look like from the pantry side (dining room). You can see that they are simply sitting there and can easily be moved like any other piece of furniture. The bookcases look built-in from the formal living room side and block the view to my new pantry. It is the perfect solution and I might even leave it like this for the new owners if we ever move. Who wouldn't love a huge walk-in pantry instead of a boring formal dining room!?

We picked up some shelving from Lowes on Black Friday.

With the microwave in here, my kitchen counters are clear!

I even have empty shelves!

I'm able to keep all of my small appliances and food storage in here so I no longer need to run down to the basement storage room multiple times when I cook.

I used to keep a small chest freezer out in the garage, but this upright one close to the kitchen is a dream come true and so convenient.

I've always wanted a broom closet to hide away all my mops, brooms, and cleaning supplies, but this is even better!

What do you think? What's your favorite use of a dining room? Leave me a comment!


405th Penny Pinching Party

404th Penny Pinching Party

Thrifty and Nifty - Great Ideas to Keep Kids Busy On A Budget!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

When we finished college and landed jobs, life was quite a breeze. We partied hard, went shopping with the girls (which included lunch and cocktails!) and spent our money on whatever took our fancy. Holidays were fun, we had little responsibilities (besides work) and always had extra cash in our pockets.

Then, we fell in love, married the man of our dreams (or someone close to that) and started having children. Suddenly, shopping for clothes and cocktails with the girls didn’t seem as appealing as time spent with the most precious objects of our affection - our children. Of course,  our money now poured into them. 

There is no end to the fun you can have with your children. When you literally go down to their level, simply sitting with them on the floor, building things together with your hands, makes you realize just how much fun it is to get down to grass roots basic play - it really is the simple things in life that bring so much joy, and they don’t cost a thing!

There are a multitude of things you can do/make/play in order to keep your child busy for hours, that are free or cost very little. A quote by the famous educator Maria Montessori is “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence”. Children learn by using their hands and the more fun exercises you can give them whereby they use their hands, the more they will learn and the more their fine motor skills will develop.

Here we compiled our list of top 5 fun things to make (based on the Montessori Method) that your children (between the ages of 3-6) will love doing, especially when you are on a tight budget!

1. Tweezing

  • Ice Tray ($1)
  • Plastic Bowl ($1)
  • Small Cotton Balls ($1)
  • Big Plastic Tweezer ($0.50-$1)
With the ice tray placed in front of you take the bowl, which is filled with small cotton balls, and place the cotton balls from top to bottom, left to right, inside the ice tray using the tweezer. Show your child, once done, to then repeat the exercise, only this time taking the cotton balls from top to bottom, left to right and placing them in the bowl. 
Total cost: $4

2. Sorting By Color

  • Circular Art Palette ($1)
  • 20 Small Buttons (10 matching pairs -all same size) ($1-$4)

This is a fun exercise that will keep your child entertained for a while. Place 10 buttons around the center of the palette and stick them down with Blu Tack. Then place the remaining, matching buttons in the middle of the palette. In an anti-clockwise direction (from the 2 o'clock position - indirectly teaching directionality) start matching the buttons one at a time, color to color. When the exercise is finished, show your child how to take the matching buttons, one at a time, from around pallete and return it to the center.
Total cost: $5 

3. Sorting By Size  

You will need:

  • Plastic Pill Box (with at least 5-7 slots) ($1.95) 
  • 25 Beads or Buttons (all same colour, 5 sets of same size) ($2-5)

In this interesting exercise your child’s differentiation of size will be tested. In the first slot place all the beads or buttons. In the next 5-7 slots stick down one bead going from largest to smallest or the other way round with Blu Tack.You will then proceed to show your child to sort out the beads/buttons from left to right according to size. Once done, teach your child to put all beads/buttons back in the first slot.
Total Cost:  $7

4. Folding Socks

You will need: 
  • Socks (preferably your child/children’s socks)
In this fun exercise your child will learn to match socks and fold them. Put a whole bunch of single socks on one side of the carpet and their matching pairs on the other side. Pick up the top sock from the left side and slowly start to match pairs and fold them. Let your child carry on doing it themselves. Leave a small, empty washing basket nearby for your child to place the folded socks into.
Total Cost: $0

5. Pegging

You will need:
  • A Plastic Bowl ($1)
  • Plastic Clothes Pegs ($1)
This is a great activity as it exercises the web of your child’s hand, physically strengthening it for being able to write and hold a pen, pencil or crayon. Place the plastic pegs into a bowl (around 8 pegs). Show your child how to open and close a peg. Start at the 2 o’clock position, go anti-clockwise and begin placing the pegs at the edge of the bowl one after the other. Once done, reverse the action, grab the pegs from the 2 o’clock position  and place in the bowl one at a time.
Total Cost: $2

At the same time that your child is doing these exercises, it’s important that you promote an environment that allows them to  concentrate, whilst doing the activity. The best way to guarantee this is by placing them in a spot in the house that is quiet and will be without distraction. 

It’s also important for your child to be consuming the right nutrition to aid concentration. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids has been  directly linked to better cognitive functioning. Such foods include salmon, sardines, pumpkin seeds etc. If they are unable to consume enough Omega-3 rich food, supplement their diet with Omega-3 supplements/oils which can easily be poured over and into their food. A leader in the health supplement field offers high-potent Omega-3 oils. Read our Research Verified reviews to find out more. They also have really good deals for multiple bottle purchases, which is great when the  budget is tight. 

Young children love repetition and naturally perfecting their actions. Teach your child these exercises and they will keep busy for hours! And the best part - these are great for anyone’s budget! Get ready and have fun with your child now!

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403rd Penny Pinching Party