Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stencil Rescue: a Key to Financial Freedom

The windows on our back porch
needed to be finished with wood trim.

My Farmer makes no claim to be a carpenter,
but he does really well;
much better than he gives himself credit for.

When he decided to finish them off,
I asked that he'd make the little squares in the corners
as so many of the other doorways in our house have:

I thought it would make them look quaint.

Then I suggested that we buy the wooden Rosettes
that have carved circles,
so they'd look even nicer.

I looked them up online
and they were $1.50 each.

We needed 24 of them.

Sure, that may not seem like much to the average guy,
well, let's just say that we are not the average guy.

We live tight.
We like finding ways to save a dollar here and there
because we know that it adds up.

We know this
because we've done it our whole marriage.
I'm not saying it's always easy.
I'm not saying we never fought disagreed about it

But we've been well rewarded for it,
 not being in debt to anyone for anything
(I admit, I owe a huge part of this to my husband's saving ways
even before we were married,
but we did continued the process in our marriage
until we completed it when we bought our farm.)

We paid off everything when we bought our farm.
It was an answer to many prayers
to reach that goal.

But we lived so tight when we were first married,
it was almost funny some of the things we did.

Here's just 2 small examples of things I did:

Not only did I shop at the Good Will
(I'm still their faithful patron),
but in those days,
I only bought items from the $.50 rack;
and I knew they changed the color every week
and put new things on that rack on Tuesday,
so that's when I'd shop.
(I think they even thought of me as the 'Cheapskate'
at the Good Will).

Most of my maternity clothes were larger-sized people clothes
that I just took in to fit me
that I paid $.50 each for.

I wasn't the year's latest fashion.

But there was a goal in mind.

I didn't use my oven much
because ovens use so much more energy
(I was the crock-pot/stove-top/top-of-the-woodstove queen).
When I did use it,
I cooked at least 3 different things,
often doubling the recipe so I could freeze
a meal or the extras,
to make it worth heating it up.

I still do that.
I can't justify to myself heating the oven up
for just biscuits or cookies.

(Is this some kind of disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Cheapskate?)

I usually wait until a day when I know I will cook a meal in the oven
and get a dessert ready,
and maybe a batch of biscuits
so then I feel like the energy hasn't been wasted.

There are lots of frugal tricks that we do.
Crazy things.

But it was worth it.

I tell you:
It was worth it.

There is NOTHING in all the world that feels as amazing
as paying everything off
and hearing
"Paid in full in Cash."

I think that day will stand out in my mind forever.

I tell you this because I know I hear so many people
say they are struggling
and don't know how it can be done,
but it can.

Just do the small things
as well as the big things
and eventually,
it pays off.

Somebody might say,
"You're crazy!
I don't want to live that way!"
And she might be right.

But quite honestly,
I didn't "want" to live like that either,
but I wanted our goal more
and was willing to make that sacrifice.

I just had to be so willing to get there
that I saw things,
not as deprivations,
but as stepping stones to the main goal:
financial freedom.

It makes for creativity,
living this way.

When you really want something,
you look for ways to get it
outside of spending.

living as we do
on purpose and by our choice,
both of us
(I think it's ingrained in us now),
we felt like $40 on decorative wood pieces for around porch windows,
it was just too much.

So my husband told me to stencil on them.

That's so cheesy,"
I grimaced;

so I got out my clay and tried fashioning a rosette.

Then I realized how long it was going to take,
and how much clay I was going to use.

I put the clay away.
Then I thought of The Graphics Fairy.

She has great designs on her website.
How could I get those on my wooden blocks?

I could Modge Podge them,
but then I'd have to print up that many,
and everyone knows how fast printing ink goes.

Suddenly, it hit me:
I'll make a stencil from one of her images
and paint them on.

"That's what I said to do in the first place,"
my Farmer kindly informed me.

"Did you?" 
I responded.
"Well, you didn't say to make a stencil from the Graphics Fairy."

He looked at me rather confused.
My logic does that to him sometimes.

I gathered my supplies:

 I printed up this design
making the circle fit the size of the blocks we were using
(from scrap lumber he had, of course).

I then taped the paper to my plastic sheet I had from something else.
 Being that it was a stencil,
I outlined the places that I wanted help with,
making sure to leave plenty of uncut places so that my stencil would stay together.

 Using an exacto knife,
I traced the stencil,
pressing hard so it would go through the plastic.
(This is the back, showing how the cuts have gone through.)

 I cut outside the line slightly on the outside circle...
 so that the circle would be a little more pronounced.

 (Here's a view from the back again)

 Toward the end,
I had to tape the paper in a new spot to hold it on
as it was getting quite flimsy.

I took off the paper
and cut some of the lines a little more clearly
wherever it needed it.

Then I carefully cut out the stencil so I could see where it's placement
would be on my blocks of wood...

 and chose a gray colored paint to pounce on the stencil.

 When they were done,
there was enough of the design there to help me,
and I embellished the rest using the paper example as a guide.

No, they are not EXACTLY perfect,
but nobody will ever notice that
(except all you blog people who come over my house).
But that's okay.
Just don't mention it.

 Here is the process I did to shade them:

 (rubbing some off with a rag here)

 Here are the windows before:
 They looked pretty good anyhow.

Here is one after:
 I think it will work the way I was hoping.

 Hey!  What's she doing out there?
 "Hey little girl, are you lost?"

Nope, just teasing.

 Her sister stepped right outside the door here with her
so they could peek through the window at me.

 I love this view!

 Now, on to my "Happy 200 followers" Giveaway!!!

The giveaway is an adaptation of some pictures from 
The Graphics Fairy as well:

I'm also including this little crochetted nest I made
with 5 little clay eggs.

You can enter by leaving a comment.
If you were a follower before this giveaway,
tell me so,
and you will have 2 entries,
because I'm happy you are my friend.

The giveaway will end this Saturday,
April 16th.

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  1. I just stumbled upon your blog. I love it! You are so creative. It takes TRUE creativity to do something amazing...without spending money! Love the 'after' pic with the kids ...and outhouse. I love your home and farm!

  2. Stopping by from Everyday Ruralty. You're so creative! We pinch pennies left and right too, but sometimes it's actually kind of fun - teaches you to find alternative routes through standard living.

  3. Tonya, you amaze me!! I love the way it all turned out. I want to come see it very soon!!

    (I was a follower before) Really hope to win one of your amazing giveaways!!

  4. I love it! We are a penny pinching family as well, and I'm with you... debt free is the only way to live. My sweetheart preaches at a little tiny church and works at Walmart so that I can be a stay at home mom to our almost-6-month-old little boy.
    I do all kinds of weird things to save on bills, etc. ...keep a jug of water in the back of the toilet to lower the water bill, rip up old skirts etc, for new sewing projects, like you - sometimes cook multiple things at once. ...drive a nearly 20 year old car, shop at thrift stores and again, like you - practically never spend full price at good will. For kids clothes 25 cents is about the limit, 50 cents tops, unless it's something really special. :)
    ...don't feel sorry for me peoples, I'm lovin it!

  5. So excited that this is my first entry....I'm sure my Mom will be along too :) And yes, I was a follower before this giveaway. By the way, very creative way of making the squares your own!

  6. Love your blog! I need this shot of creativity in my life. I, too, live with a frugal farmer, Tall Guy, and we still pinch pennies when we can because it's the right thing to do. I'm a new follower. Stop by the farm for a visit sometime!

  7. I love what you did with your windows and more importantly that you found a way to do it at less cost and make it uniquely yours.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    happy day!

  8. Love those rosettes! You are so talented!!! Andddd, I was a follower before this giveaway!!! I love your view, too! Any farms for sale in your neighborhood????

  9. I'm over from Everyday Ruralty -loved your interview, and now I'm loving your blog!
    We are late in learning that there is another way in which to live - apart from the debt-ridden way, and we are really struggling to know how even to begin to change our ways. I'm going to do a lot of trawling on your site to see if you can inspire us.... we know that it is primarily a heart-before-God issue, and that other things will follow on.

    I'm your latest Follower! But please don't enter me for the giveaway, because I live in Scotland. I'm following you only cos I want to!)

  10. I am already a follower. And I must say that you have inspired me and Erin to be more creative. I have a bird's nest sitting on my dresser that Josiah gave me, it has the bluish green moss on it. I'm still formulating in my mind what to do with it. Erin and I decided we should make some little eggs to put in it. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas!

  11. Of course I am a follower...and a very well satisfied one.

    I can't stop saying how much I admire your creative abilities...And I admire your frugality, too.

    We don't have any debt either, and you're right. It feels wonderful.


  12. Loving this entry! I've been following for awhile. I've always enjoyed the way you use pictures to tell a story. Truly inspirational!

  13. Girl you are an inspiration all the way around! I envy your financial savvy ways. Although, we are not in debt..I pay off my stuff, except house and cars...I could do better cutting costs. I am pretty frugal most of the time, but I love to shop too:) So I may nickel and dime it, it adds up. Love your trim work too.

  14. I have been a follower even before the giveaway!

  15. I have been a follower of your for a while now, and I love to read your posts. We are debt free, too, except for the house, which we are working on getting paid off soon, too. It feels so good to only have your utility bills to pay each month and not owe anyone!

  16. Love the trim around your new windows and the view is like I'm almost there! You have been given wonderful talents Tonya and I have been blessed that you share them with us! I became a follower before the giveaway. Being frugal is a good thing and a great example for the little ones.

  17. Wow...you are very talented:) love it all! Thanks for taking the time to share.

  18. Wow, Tonya, you're so talented. You're also funny. .50 rack is quite a deal my friend. If I could find the .25 rack, I would.


    Domestically Divine Link-Up

  19. Love to see pictures of your house Tonya - and all your ideas! Wish we saw each other's houses more often than every 5 years!!!

  20. I'm been your fan for sometime now. It's my way of being frugal. I have a laptop & for some reason I get free internet on it?? We won't pay for cable so I get my entertainment from Yours, your sister's & my daughter-in-LOVE's blogs ! Ask my son & he'll tell you how frugal I can be! I use a convection oven it really saves money since it slows cooks also. I would love to win your give-away then I won't have to spend money to make one :)

  21. Just discovered you and love it! The rosettes on your windows are beautiful! I would love to win your giveaway, I'm in love with anything birds, nests, etc. This would make a perfect addition to my Easter decor! :)

  22. Just found your blog through Thought Provoking Thursday. You inspire me! I need to follow you! :)

  23. I just found your blog - through the stencil you submitted to The Stories of A to Z. Anyway - very cute and thrifty project, it looks professional to me.

  24. I just became one of your newest followers!

  25. Looks great Tonya! Thanks for the advice to Financial freedom! Enjoy your new room! I Love what I just saw!

  26. It looks absolutely lovely, such intricate work. You did really great on this project. I just love the detail over the windows like this. I don't think I have ever seen it before. Love your view too.

  27. I love what you've done! But really....I want your house. And the land. And the pig that's in the pic at the top of your blog. Seriously. I love it!!!! thanks for sharing!

  28. I love this!!! I need to keep this in mind when I gradually replace the mouldings in my house!

    Now following!

    ~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage

  29. great idea for a cost saving way to spruce up the trim!!! love it! Thanks so much for sharing this at Transformations and Treasures!


I love your comments!