Harley Quinn’s Purse

The” Harley Quinn “bag…If you didn’t know I like to crochet. It lets me bring out my inner creative chic. I hardly ever follow patterns to the “T”. About a year ago I was into crocheting purses. I made at least 3 of them. I even tried to sell them on Etsy. I got a few hits, but not any purchases.

The “Harley Quinn” bag is just one of my many unfinished crochet projects from that era. I call it the Harley Quinn bag because it reminded me of The Jokers girlfriend,Harley Quinn, from Batman.

Not the new Harley Quinn. The old Harley, the one that wore red, black and white. I was even going to attach some white pom poms on the ends. Honestly, if you don’t know who Harley Quinn is…I’m not sure we can be friends. (I kid, but seriously…)

When I started this project I envisioned was a whole line of two-toned colored superhero/villain themed bags. Somewhere along the line, I stalemated with this project. I’m not sure if I couldn’t figure out how to do the handles… or if I just wanted to close it with a zipper.

My biggest problem was figuring out what kind of fabric to line the inside with…I just couldn’t find anything that I liked. Nor, could I figure out if I wanted to use one color or continue with the two color scheme on the inside. So many decisions!

In addition, I felt like my sewing skills were not strong enough to make the inside of the bag sturdy. As evidenced by the first bag that I made, where the cotton lining began to come undone on the inside. So why am I pulling this thing back out again? Because I’ve finally got a sewing machine!

And maybe nobody else will want to purchase a purse that they could wear with a black dress or a red dress or black and red plaid dress! (I mean all you have to do is flip the purse around! Holy Smokes Batman!) But now that I’ve got my sewing machine, I’m going to finish what I started (Once I learn how to use it.)

I’m looking forward to finishing this project.

What do you guys think about the “Harley Quinn” Bag? If you are interested in crocheting purses you can find free crochet purse patterns here. I used a variation of this pattern to create all of my purses.

Maybe you’re an experienced crocheter. If you have any tips on how to make the cotton lining stay together on the inside that would be awesome!

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Finances

The Smart Way to Transition to One Income-Part 2

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The money talk. (cue ominous music) Other than deciding who’s going to have the talk with the kids about sex. Talking about money and finances is another difficult conversation for most couples to have. How many of us honestly sat down and talked with our significant other about finances before we got hitched?

You know those really difficult questions like: How much debt do you have? How much money do you have saved? How do you handle your finances? What’s your credit score?

But you know that whole love thing kinda gets in the way of talking about these kinds of things. I will admit after 3 years of marriage we still hadn’t had the money talk. It wasn’t until we tried to buy our first home that it was even something we seriously discussed.

So if this is the first time you and your honey have looked at your finances together don’t feel bad. Chances are you’re not the only couple in the world that hasn’t.

When I decided I wanted to stay home with the kids my husband and I had to take another hard look at our finances. But before that, I had to make sure that this was something he was on board with. We had been a dual income family for our entire marriage.

I was asking him to bare all of the financial burdens on his shoulders and it wasn’t going to work if he wasn’t on board with my decision. Once I knew he was on board we began to formulate a plan on how to make living on one income a reality.

If we could make it work for our family. I’m sure you can make it work for yours.

Where Did It All Go?

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In my previous post, I talked about following the money trail. Where is all of your money going? How is it being spent? Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to check out some of the apps and were able to track at least 1-2 months worth of spending.

I will be honest. When my husband and I did this step I didn’t break everything down line by line. I just broke everything down by categories to see where we were spending most of our money. We had separate bank accounts at the time so I had to combine our information together to create one whole picture. (This was before I discovered Honeydue and Mint.)

We had the usual big-ticket items: mortgage, car payments, childcare, and food. We also spent a large amount of money on non-essential items. My husband has a subscription to Amazon prime and likes to find “deals”. Not to mention he has a couple of expensive hobbies like photography and detailing cars. Needless to say, we had to some areas that we could cut back on.

But I shared all that to say that at this point you don’t need to analyze where every penny went unless you really want too. Just knowing what your big-ticket categories are can be really helpful. But you know what can be even more helpful?

The B Word

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Budgeting…I have a very intense love/hate relationship with budgeting. It’s something that I know I need to do, but I just really don’t want to do it. However, when there is only one person supporting the family financially not wanting to create and stick to a budget is not a wise choice.

If your family does not have a budget in place the first thing you will need to do is to create one. This is the part where you’ll take a more in-depth look at your families spending habits.

Budgeting Methods

The truth of the matter is that about two-thirds of adults do not budget. So if you don’t currently have a budget in place you are not alone. Budgeting gets a bad rap because we don’t like for anyone to tell us how or when to spend our money. It’s seen as being restrictive and the killer of all things fun in life.

That’s simply not true. Budgeting can be very beneficial especially when you have limited funds. It helps you keep unnecessary spending in check, pay off debt, and it can even help save money. Here are 4 of the most common budgeting methods.

1.The Envelope Method

If you’re like me and don’t like to watch money slip through your fingers, then the envelope budgeting system may work perfectly for you. It’s fairly simple to set up. You create envelopes for each category: clothes, food, transportation, etc. Then based on last month’s expense you place a set amount of cash in each envelope. You only spend what’s in each envelope and you don’t borrow from the other envelopes. Once the money is gone that’s it. Or you could try the cashless envelope system.

2.The 50/30/20 Method

This method was developed by the bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren. For this method your break your come down passed on the following percentages: 50% of your income is dedicated to your needs (housing, food, utilities, etc), 30% goes to your wants (dining, cable services, new clothing, etc), and 20% goes to your savings or debt reduction efforts. The 50/30/20 method works well for people who are on a steady income or for people who work on salary. If you are interested in using this method check out this 50/30/20 budgeting worksheet.

3. The Zero-Based Budget

The zero-based budgeting system requires you to create a budget at the beginning of every month. Then you need to write down everything that you expect to spend for the month( essentials and nonessentials).

After you’ve written down everything you will subtract all of your expenses including debts and savings until you’ve reached zero. You can read Dave Ramsey’s guide on how to make a zero-based budget here.

4. The Goals Driven Budget

If you are reading this blog post, then I assume that your goal is for you and your family to comfortably live on one income. This is where goals based budgeting can come in handy. You create a goal and track your expenses based on your goal.

If your goal is to save $1,000, then you look at your income and expenses to see where you can eliminate or reduce spending every month to achieve your goal. The money that you would normally spend on going to Starbucks every day would be put in a separate savings account dedicated to that goal.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, these aren’t the only methods that can be used to budget your money. You could choose to use only one of these methods or a combination of two of them. Or you can find a completely different method. It really is all about figuring out which type of budgeting method works for you and your family.

To help you on your budgeting journey there are also plenty of free budget tracking worksheets online or you can create a budget using any of these apps.

The whole purpose of creating this budget is to get a handle on your current financial situation. Once you get a handle on your finances with a dual income you can start looking at how your finances will work on one income.

I am by no means a financial expert. If I have missed something or you have some more helpful tips please feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for my final and most important tip on transitioning to one income!

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family

What Do I Call You?

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Ok, so the other day my husband asked me something really weird. He asked me what I wanted to be called. We’ve been married for 11 years you would think by now he would have this figured out.(Ummm honey, baby, love of my life any of those names are fine.)

I guess he could tell by my puzzled expression that I had no idea what he was talking about. I needed a little clarification.  So he proceeded to explain himself.

What do you want me to tell people you do? Before I could tell people you were a high school science teacher. Now, what do I tell them? What do you want me to call you? A stay at home mom?

I didn’t know if I should have been offended, but I got what he meant. He had always been proud of the fact that I was a teacher and he didn’t have an issue with me staying at home with the kids.  A lot of people just don’t understand why a woman with a stable career would choose to stay home.

When you tell people you’re a stay at home mom (SAHM) you usually get the,” Oh I could never do that.” or “Oh, really? Good for you.” response. Even from family and friends. It’s always awkward and insincere. Sometimes it’s even accompanied by a look of superiority. Like you are somehow intellectually inferior because you don’t work.

If I’ve ever done that to SAHM when I worked I sincerely apologize. Being a SAHM is no easy task and deserves a level of respect that so often they are not given. Especially by other women.

We work just as hard as any other woman out there. We may not sit behind a fancy desk or broker million-dollar transactions, but taking care of little human beings all day(and keeping them alive) is no easy feat.

Have you ever tried to keep track of two toddlers and an infant in a public place on your own? Believe me, your sanity will be tested.

So what should my husband call me? How about a Child Survival Expert or a Household Management Engineer? (Try putting that on a resume, lol) In the end, I just told him to call me a stay at home mom. I’m not ashamed of my new vocation because I know that it’s one of the toughest jobs out there and not everyone can be a Professional Child Wrangler!

If you could create a job title for being a SAHM what would you call yourself? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Until next time,

The Crafty Afro

 

Posted in Crafting Corner

4 Easy Crochet Dishcloth Patterns

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One of my favorite hobbies is crocheting. Honestly, if I look at my stash of unused yarn that I have piled up all over the house, it’s probably a little more like yarn hoarding at the moment. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to spend crocheting these days with a mobile 10-month-old running around the place.

About a month ago, when I had more free time, I stumbled across the magical world of crochet dishcloths. I’ve crocheted scarves, amigurumi, ponchos, purses, etc. I even tried to start an Etsy shop. But for some reason, it never crossed my mind to crochet a dishcloth.

Can you even really wash dishes with these things? Apparently, you can if you use cotton yarn (which I didn’t even know was a thing). You can even add nylon or scrubby yarn ( Evidently, there is a whole world of yarn out there that I don’t know about.)to make it more abrasive.

So, I figured I would give it a shot. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up making 4 different dishcloths. Most of them were really quick and simple to make.

If you would like to try to make any of these I have included the links to each pattern.

1. Rescued Paw Designs by Krista

This was the first dishcloth I attempted to make because I thought it would be really easy and quick to work up. However, it took me a little longer to finish I had to refresh my memory on the difference between the front loop and back loop of a stitch. It is definitely a pattern for a more advanced crocheter. It has a really nice texture. I can’t wait to see if it has any real scrubbing power.

(I used sugar n cream cotton yarn (White and Bleach Glass) to complete the first three dishcloths.

1.The Blossom Stitch Washcloth by Erica at 5 Little Monsters

These dishcloths are really beautiful. I haven’t even tried to wash dishes with them yet because I don’t want to mess them up. The pattern is pretty simple. It consists solely of single crochet, double crochet, and chain stitches. Once you get the pattern down it’s smooth sailing from there.

4. Diagonal Dish Cloths by Olives & Okra

I really just wanted to try a corner to corner stitch. It was pretty simple to create considering the only stitch used is a single chain crochet and remembering which loop is the back loop. I like the ribbed texture created by this pattern. I wonder how it would turn out if I used alternating rows of cotton yarn and scrubby yarn.

3. Mama’s Wash Cloth by Susan Carlton at the Felted Button

I enjoyed crocheting this dishcloth. It’s really simple and only uses single and double crochet stitches. I used lily’s sugar and cream cotton yarn (the color is natural stripes) for this pattern. I liked making it so much that I created a larger one to use as a dish drying towel. The pattern creates a really cute spiked design, but it’s hard to see when you only use one color. This color combination is really pretty. Instead of keeping them to myself I gifted the set to my sister in law as a housewarming gift.

I can honestly say that I had fun creating these dishcloths. They were simple to create and worked up quickly.  They will definitely make their way into my arsenal of homemade gift ideas. They are way nicer than the dish clothes that I could buy in the store.

Hmmm…as a matter of fact, I might even try to make up my own dishcloth pattern! Just not today.

Until next time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Finances

The Smart Way to Transition to One Income

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Roughly 75 years ago it was normal for a family to live on one income. Mom stayed at home and took care of the kids and dad went off to work. Sounds so simple right? Well, I wasn’t part of that generation.

I grew up in a dual income household. There were only a few times in my life that I could ever remember us living on one income and it wasn’t intentional. And they weren’t exactly the best of times.

So when I decided 6 months ago that I was going to become a stay at home mom I didn’t have any real life experience to draw from. Good thing we have the internet. Granted the good people on the web would have you believe that you can magically become a single income household and pay off $10,000 all at the same time.

But wait aren’t you getting paid when I click on one of these lovely blue affiliate links or ads? So are you really living on a single income? Or what about this side hustle business that is so prevalent in our modern gig economy?

So maybe they should be telling us how to live on a reduced household income and not a single household income…single income sounds better…but I digress (FYI I just started blogging so I’m not getting paid for anything you click on around here. I just like to share information).

It is possible for a dual income household to become a single income household. It just takes a little effort and planning on you and your spouses part. I am going to share with you three things my husband and I did to ease our transition to living on one income.

Follow the Money Trail

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Where does it all go? That’s the question I often found myself wondering every year we filed our taxes. Our annual income was roughly $91,000 before I decided to leave my job. Now our family of six would be forced to live on an annual income of $50,000.

It wasn’t until I sat down and tried to figure out where it was all going that I realized how much money we spent on the essentials and how much we wasted on unnecessary things. For example, we spent $1500 in childcare each month (all of our kids are under the age of 8) and is easily one of the biggest expenses for any family with kids.  

In any case, you will want to track your expenses for at least 1-2 months.

Continue reading “The Smart Way to Transition to One Income”