Latest update: January 24th, 2012
If you are anything like me you may have noticed that slowly but surely the Internet is creeping further and further into your everyday life as you turn towards the web for countless tasks. From looking up phone numbers, to finding recipes and getting directions, my laptop has become an invaluable resource that I utilize throughout the day. Two new sites created by Orthodox Jewish women have caught my eye, both of which address a topic that you must know by now is near and dear to my heart – squeezing a dollar so tight it literally begs for mercy.
CreativeJewishMom.com: I have more than a little respect for a person who can crochet rugs out of old sheets and turn both old t-shirts and shopping bags into yarn. But a visit to creativejewishmom.com will dazzle you with how many fun crafts you can make out of items most people would just toss in the trash.
Sara Rivka Dahan was born in California, educated in New York and currently lives with her husband and five children in northern Israel. With a background in interior and graphic design, advertising and the fashion industry, she certainly has an eye for all things beautiful and creative, and her website is chock full of innovative ideas that breathe new life into humdrum household items.
Creativejewishmom.com began two and a half years ago, after Mrs. Dahan noticed that while there were many crafting blogs online, there were no Jewish blogs featuring the types of crafts she wanted to make. Her background in crafts, design and as a crafts writer made Mrs. Dahan the ideal candidate to take on this job.
“The idea behind my blog is to help busy moms enhance their lives with creativity and bring joy to the Jewish holidays with crafting,” said Mrs. Dahan. “I strongly believe that crafts are very important in childhood development and in helping children develop interests that will carry them through their teenage years and into their lives as adults.”
As an added plus, CreativeJewishMom.com gave Mrs. Dahan the opportunity to do more projects with her own children and she hopes that by teaching her own children to see the value in everyday items they will continually come up with new ideas.
“A person with creative interests will never ever think to say ‘I’m bored’ and that, quite simply is something I’m trying to avoid with my own children,” explained Mrs. Dahan.
With sections dealing with kids crafts, recycling crafts, birthday crafts, home décor, crafts for mom and Jewish crafts, the website contains an astounding number of fantastic projects just begging to be made. A Chanukah menorah made out of empty toilet paper rolls. Placemats crocheted out of “plarn”, yarn made out of plastic shopping bags. Flowers made out of empty water bottles. Bouquets made out of fruit roll up flowers. Bird nests made out of brown paper bags. Flowers made out of paper plates. The list just goes on and on.
While most of the projects on the site are Mrs. Dahan’s original ideas, she is sometimes inspired by a project she has seen either in books or online and is always careful to credit the original source. A weekly feature called “Craft School Sunday” showcases an interesting array of craft projects culled from various crafting blogs. CreativeJewishMom.com also features informative posts on cooking, gardening, parenting, sewing, travel and more. Check this site out and check it often. This is one website you really need to bookmark.
KosherOnABudget.com: If you haven’t spent some time on this amazing website, you probably want to rectify that mistake immediately, if not sooner. Chock full of coupons, deals, freebies, recipes and other money saving ideas, Kosher On A Budget (KOAB) is a terrific resource for Jewish consumers looking for ways to trim their budget.
What began in the summer of 2010 as a personal quest to save money for Overland Park, Kansas resident Mara Strom, has grown into a full time job as the busy mother of three children, ages eight, six and two, created a money saving website catering to Orthodox Jews. Just eighteen months later, KOAB has a daily email list of approximately 1200 and received 80,000 page views last month.
“I had been reading other frugal/coupon blogs for a while and learned how to coupon from them,” said Mrs. Strom. “But as a strict kosher-keeper, I had to figure out how to apply those principles to the kosher food – and lifestyle – that my family holds by. The better I got at saving money, the more friends asked me ‘how do you do that?!’ Rather than referring them to these non-kosher blogs, I finally decided to start my own website.”
KOAB is more than just a list of coupons, giveaways and available deals; it is a life lesson in thinking frugally. With sections on coupon misconceptions, the psychology of budgeting, coupon organization, a recipe exchange and menu planning, it offers practical advice on not just spending wisely, but thinking economically and includes the Strom family’s saga of paying off $30,000 worth of debt in an astonishing six months. Perhaps most intriguing are Mrs. Strom’s glimpses into her personal habits, as she shares her experiences with her own experiments in frugality, including whether it is worth making salsa (yes) and tomato sauce (no) from scratch and a list of thirty money saving habits she engages in and four splurges that the Strom family still indulges in, despite the added cost.
But it is the deals, delivered daily to subscriber’s inboxes that are the meat and potatoes of KOAB, with new and exciting money saving opportunities arriving on a constant basis. Mrs. Strom handpicks offers from stores, online retailers and coupon websites, even sharing ideas with other bloggers who run similar sites. Additionally devoted readers send their money saving finds to KOAB so that they can be shared with other readers who hail from all over the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Kansas City and even across the globe in Canada, South Africa, Australia and Israel. Mrs. Strom admits that KOAB’s growth has surpassed her expectations and credits word of mouth and Facebook for spreading the word about her site – which clearly appeals to cost cutting consumers worldwide.
“While most of the deals and coupons that I share are aimed at the US-audience, the tips for menu planning, getting on a budget, cutting debt and saving money are much more universal,” said Mrs. Strom.
Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full scale productions. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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