Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Meaningful Gift

Conversation starters are the perfect gift for a busy family. A simple jar filled with questions on paper will spark conversation and liven up a week night family meal. A friend sent the following link of conversation starters to me, so now I'll share them with you! (Thanks Lee!) Here are a few samples:
  • If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  • What would you do with your time if electronics were taken away?
  • What super powers would you like to have?

*Link is from www.beautyandbedlam.com

Friday, December 14, 2012

Candy Disposal

After bemoaning the plethora of candy left over from the local parade, a friend gave me the best idea: build a gingerbread house! We used graham crackers because let's face it, I don't have time to bake gingerbread, but it turned out great and used up all of the parade candy. No more begging for candy and we have a pretty little house to show for it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kid's Gift Idea

What kid wouldn't want to be a super hero for Christmas? For about $6, you can outfit your little one with a cape and mask. Here's one that we made for a friend:
For a small 4 year old, I cut a 24" X 26" rectangle and hemmed it.
Thread cording through the hem on one end to tie the cape around the neck.
Cut out and sew a design on the back.

For the mask, I traced a sleeping mask and used binding around the edges.
Sew on an elastic cord and you're done!

*Hint: you can also use a satin pillowcase for the same effect...and it's already hemmed!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Feeling sappy?

First of all, my apologies to all of you for going dark last week! Well, I'm back so here's a great tip that works like a charm:
Suffering from sappy hands after wrestling your tree into the house? Try peanut butter! Simply rub onto your hands and rinse. Dan tried this over the weekend and it worked perfectly- not a trace of sap!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rug Bargain!

I found a golden egg for all of you! Lowes is having a rug sale with area rugs for only $10 each! That's right, just $10. I happened to be needing a bunch of area rugs so I went ahead and ordered them and it is no joke! If you choose the ship to store option, you don't have to pay for shipping and you can also use this promo code for an additional 10% off: 470007216723254

Here's the link: http://www.lowes.com/Search=artistic+weavers?storeId=10151&langId=-1&catalogId=10051&N=0&newSearch=true&Ntt=artistic+weavers#!&Ns=p_product_price%7C0&page=1&AID=10926682&PID=1225267&SID=QfUi1DsNEeKY53J9paJ5ug0_Q1qJ3_wiK_0_0&cm_mmc=AFF_CJ-_-Slickdeals+Inc-_-1122587-_-10926682

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gifts for Grandma

It can be difficult to buy gifts for the elderly people in you life. Many are in assisted living facilities or have limited space for extra things. Here are a few tried and true gifts that they are sure to enjoy!

  • Write a family newsletter each month and mail with pictures
  • Lotion, body wash, or linen spray
  • Magazine subscription
  • Send a story that you've written each month of a memory together
  • A digital picture frame that you've pre-loaded with family shots
  • Photo calender
  • Amaryllis bulb
  • A homemade assortment of jams and jellies
  • For the reader: a collection of books
  • For the knitter: a basket full of yarn
  • A bird feeder to hang outside

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday

Don't forget...today is Cyber Monday! Look around online for super deals. Some good things to keep an eye out for include: free shipping and blanket deals (ie. 30% off entire site). Enjoy staying in and shopping from home!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday

To get a jump on the black friday deals, check out this website: http://www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com/ It has the store ads for black friday listed online and you can also search for specific items.
*Do the world a favor and please don't go shopping on Thanksgiving! Just wait one more day, you can do it! There, I said my piece. You can always check the store website if there is a super deal you have your eye on. Many stores will let you order online so you don't have to brave the crowds!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Easy as pie

If you haven't frozen a homemade pie yet, you really should. It will change your life! Ok, maybe your Thanksgiving anyway...
To take the stress out of making dessert for Thanksgiving while cooking the turkey and one hundred other sides, try this!

  • First, grease the pie tin or plate.
  • Prepare the pie using your favorite double crust recipe, right up to the point where it's ready to go into the oven.
  • Place pie into plastic bag and freeze.
To bake:
  • Thaw pie, still in the bag, overnight in the fridge. (Make sure the plastic isn't touching the top crust.)
  • Remove plastic and bake according to your recipe.
  • Devour with a smile, knowing you didn't lift a finger!
*Pies will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brine that bird!

Here is a fabulous brine recipe for your Thanksgiving day feast. If you have never brined a turkey, this is the year to try it. Trust me, you will never return to your previous cooking method!

Homemade Turkey Brine
  • 2 gallons Water
  • 2 cups Apple Juice
  • 2 cups Kosher Salt (can Decrease To 1 1/2 Cups If You're Concerned About Salt)
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Crushed
  • 5 pieces Bay Leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary
  • 2 whole Peel Of Oranges (Sliced Off The Fruit, Avoiding As Much Of The White Pith As Possible, Then Roughly Chopped)

  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready.

    To brine the turkey, remove turkey from wrapper, remove innards, and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag or large pot or bucket.
    Pour cool brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to cover. Seal bag or cover pot and allow turkey to brine in refrigerator for 8 to 18 hours before roasting.
    Before roasting, remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry. Discard brine.

    *The drippings will be VERY salty, so cut with water or add no sodium broth to make gravy.

    *This is a perfect time to pull out one of those free icing buckets for brining your bird!

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Easy Entertaining

    When I invited a friend and her family over for dinner last weekend, she surprised me by insisting on bringing dinner. She just stated that I would host and she would cook. I have to say that this arrangement was fabulous! It completely took the stress away and resulted in a fun, relaxed evening. I think everyone would entertain more often by trying this. The next time someone invites me over for dinner I think I'll offer to bring it too. Give it a shot- you (and they) will be so glad that you did!

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    New Traditions

     Looking for some new ideas for Thanksgiving traditions? Try out one of these this year!
    1. Have each family member choose one person they are thankful for that year. Take or send a treat or card to them to let them know why you are grateful for them.
    2. Share a Story. After dinner and at dessert have everyone share a story. Possible themes:
    • The greatest day of my life.
    • The best thing that happened in my life this year.
    • My favorite memory from childhood.
    • The funniest thing that ever happened to me.
         3. In the spirit of the original Thanksgiving, go local! Try adding venison, fresh-caught fish, and locally grown veggies to your menu.

         4. Have each person write on a slip of paper something they are grateful for and put them all in a hat. Let everyone draw a slip, read aloud, and guess who's slip they have.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Pancake Pops

    For a fun breakfast, add a lollipop stick to each pancake just after pouring onto the skillet. Carefully flip and serve with dippers such as maple syrup, melted butter, apple butter, and softened jams and jellies. *Be sure to leave plenty of room for flipping. These are not the prettiest pancakes, but you get the idea!


    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Quell the smell

    After forgetting a to put the clothes in the dryer this week, one of the loads smelled somewhat off even after I had re-washed and dried it. I also was combating the less-than-lovely smell of soiled bibs that day and in an act of desperation, tossed some apple cider vinegar in the wash. After all, vinegar fixes everything, right? Well folks, good ol' vinegar took the smell right out of those clothes! I was using unscented detergent too and there was no trace of vinegar smell on the clean clothes. So the next time you have a malodorous load, toss about 1/2 cup of vinegar into the wash along with your detergent. Noses everywhere will thank you!

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Save your plates

    I inadvertently made a discovery today when packing up some plates and platters for a friend to borrow. I needed something to put in between the dishes to keep them from clattering but didn't want to waste paper towels. Place mats did the trick. They are thin enough to not add extra bulk or weight and fit perfectly between the plates. This would be great if you are packing to move too- you will have place mats ready to put on the table when you unload your plates!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Halloween Breakfast

    Happy Halloween! Start your critter's day with a fun Halloween-themed breakfast. Mummify a link sausage in biscuit dough, serve pumpkin panckes in spooky shapes, or try these pictured below. *Thanks Rachel Ray and Betty Crocker for the lovely pictures!
    Bloodshot ketchup egg eyes with olives!

    These ghastly grins are made from yogurt, apple slices, and mini marshmallows!

    Shape hash browns into a brain for a cerebral treat. Don't forget the ketchup!

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Sugarless treats

    We enjoy the company of over 300 trick-or-treaters at Halloween! I have to say the favorite treat that kids love are the non-candy treats. Here's a quick list of ideas:

    • Halloween-themed pencils
    • Halloween-themed erasers
    • Tatoos
    • Sticker sheets
    • McDonald's or Wendy's coupon books
    • Silly bands
    • Trail mix
    • Fruit leathers
    • Glow sticks
    • Bubbles
    • Gum
    • Granola bars
    • Crazy straws
    • Bouncy balls

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    "Super" Boy Gift Idea

    I recently saw this idea online and thought it was just simply perfect for that adventurous little guy in your life. Give a super hero fort kit for Christmas this year! (Ok, I admit that I kind of want one!)
    What's inside?
    • 2 twin flat sheets (sew ties onto the corners from ribbon or fabric)
    • Nylon rope
    • Flashlight
    • Glow sticks
    • Heavy duty clothespins
    • Drawstring bag (Make a simple bag from scrap fabric)
    *This bright idea and picture are from: http://megandandymade.blogspot.com/

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Fall Treat

    Kids and adults love this quick and easy snack. They are also perfect for those fall bake sales!

    Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

    10 cups popped popcorn, lightly salted
    1/2 cup light corn syrup
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    • Over low heat, stir together corn syrup and sugar until sugar has dissolved.
    • Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter til' smooth.
    • Stir in vanilla extract.
    • Pour mixture over popcorn and stir to combine.
    • Spray hands with cooking spray and shape into balls.
    *This recipe is easy to adapt, since the measurements are all the same!

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Don't Forget!

    This is the time to plant bulbs and sow grass seed! I've already mentioned planting your fall garden, but don't forget your yard and beds. You'll be so happy to see the blooms and green grass in the spring!

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Spicy Christmas Gift Idea

    I love Christmas gifts that are hand made- especially when made by the person giving the gift! Dan made this beautiful, practical spice holder for me one year and I have to say it is among one of my top ten favorite gifts. So gals, if you like this one and you have a handy man in your life, have him check it out. Guys, if you are handy and are reading this, give it a shot!
    *He ordered the glass vials and corks online. (Can't remember where, sorry!) Be sure to order those first before you drill the holes!
    Sitting pretty on my countertop.

    Easy to refill!
    Ahh...walnut. My favorite!
    Yes folks, you will need a drill!
    Alphabetically organized...makes my heart sing!

    Thursday, October 11, 2012


    Add a dash of fall color and texture with beautiful, natural fillers! For about a buck, you can buy a bag of dried split peas, popcorn, or black beans to nestle around a candle. You can even eat them when you're through!
    Split peas


    Black beans- perfect for Halloween!

    *More fall filler ideas: green lentils, acorns, gumballs, leaves, dried beans, candy corn, coffee beans.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Crockpot time!

    As of late I have been getting my money's worth out of my crockpot. Not only does it save on electricity, it frees me up in the late afternoons!
    Here are some ways I have been using mine - give it a try!
    • Baked potatoes - literally pierce the spuds and place them in the pot - that's it!
    • Baked sweet potatoes - cook the same way as potatoes or peel, cube and cook with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon
    • Overnight oatmeal - awaken to breakfast hot and ready to eat
    • Whole chicken - prepare as you would for the oven and slide in the pot
    • Rice pudding
    • Soups, stews and chili
    • Apple cider or mulled wine
    • Dried beans
    Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal With Apples
    2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    4 cups water
    2 cups old fashioned or steel cut oats
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1 teaspoon salt
    Mix brown sugar and cinnamon with apple slices, coating apples.
    Mix oatmeal with water and salt.
    Put apples in bottom of crockpot and pour oatmeal mixture on top. Do not stir.
    Cover and cook overnight on LOW (8-9 hours).
    In the morning stir thoroughly. Serve with milk and additional sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisens, cranberries or chopped dates.

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Pumpkin prank

    Placing a baby monitor receiver in a pumpkin near the candy bowl is a fun way to spook even the oldest of trick-or-treaters! Have someone hide out of view and talk into the monitor with creepy messages for the costumed throng for a good laugh!

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    The Great Divide

    To de-clutter those jammed kitchen utensil drawers, use one drawer for cooking and baking utensils and a separate drawer for serving utensils. For example, one drawer holds measuring spoons, graters, basters, mixing spoons, and whisks and the other drawer holds spatulas, ice cream scoops, large serving spoons, and tongs. Now you will know exactly where each tool is!
    *Thanks Susi for this wonderful tip!

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Thank You

    Try leaving a stack of thank you notes in a prominant place in your home. Not only will glancing at them make you stop and think of things for which to be thankful, but it will also make it easier to jot down a quick note while the memory is still fresh. I loathe it when I can't remember what someone did for me or gave to me because I procrastinated in writing a note! It also increases the frequency of sending notes, which is a welcome break in the technology-laden, fast-paced world we live in. It's the simple things like this that bring beauty to an ordinary day.

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    This tasty dish is made from ingredients you probably have in your pantry and is a cinch to assemble. Enjoy it on a chilly autumn day!

    Sausage - Sweet Potato Bake

    1 pound bulk sausage
    2 medium raw sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced or cubed
    3 medium apples, peeled and sliced

    • Brown sausage in skillet. Break up large pieces and drain off excess fat.
    • Arrange in 2 qt. casserole: sweet potatoes, apples, sausage on top
    Combine and pour over all:
    2 T. maple syrup or brown sugar
    1 T. flour
    1/4 t. cinnamon
    1/4 t. salt
    1/2 cup water

    Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

    *My compliments to Joey for this super recipe!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    You've got a friend...

    If you live far away from someone you love and would like to make their day, send them dinner! I was having a hard week with sick kids and too much to do. I jokingly likened to my brain to a poached egg to a friend recently. You get the idea! As I swam in a sea of clothes to be folded and ironed, my phone rang to inform me that dinner would arrive at my door at 5:30. I was flabbergasted! Floored! Relieved! I wanted to weep, sing, and do a jig all at once. My dearest mother, though on the other side of the state, had ordered a pizza to be delivered to our house. I can't even describe how this turned my day around! So don't feel helpless if you aren't close by when a friend needs a little help. Just send dinner their way. Trust me, they will be thrilled!

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    As of Saturday, fall is officially here! Celebrate with a new decoration for your door. All you need is a package of fall leaves (fake or real), floral wire, and a letter cutout.
    Using the wire, wrap clusters of leaves around the letter. That's it!

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    I'm posting Christmas gift ideas here and there to get your creative juices flowing! This is one of my favorite gift ideas for a child (ours loves it).

    A friend gave this hand-made crayon holder. It's great to toss into a bookbag for travel because the crayons don't fall out like they do in the box. Each crayon has its own tiny pocket, which makes it easier for kids to pick out which color they want. It's a big hit in our house- if you're good with a sewing machine, give it a try. It makes a great gift!

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Wipe out

    I love all of the uses for old Lysol wipe canisters, but I have to say, the aesthetics are lacking. (I use them for holding grocery bags, and small toys.) Give yours a quick makeover with this simple method:
    You'll need: cotton fabric, a sponge applicator, Mod Podge, and spray adhesive.
    *The Mod Podge gives the fabric a more durable, water resistant finish

    Spread a thin layer of Mod Podge over all of the fabric. Let dry.

    Spray container with adhesive and roll fabric around the canister.
    Other applications: baby wipe containers, plant pots, etc...

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Save the ice cream!

    A good friend shared this amazing tip with me and behold, it worked! Do you have freezer-burnt ice cream languishing in your freezer? Don't toss it! Remove the lid and run water (yes, I did say water) over the block of ice cream. (Make sure your ice cream is frozen solid, not soft.) Give it a shake to get the excess water off and serve. The water rinses away the ice crystals that give it that off taste and yields creamy, delicious ice cream underneath! I would never have believed this that this worked, but it does!

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    The second time around

    My mom-in-law inspires me to try to use something at least twice before tossing. Here are a few ideas that I like to use for making sure something does double duty before it winds up being thrown out:

    • Dryer sheets: I have found that used dryer sheets are the best thing ever for making the tub sparkle!
    • Dryer lint: stuff into a toilet paper dowel for a "surefire" fire starter.
    • Mesh onion bags: fill with rocks to secure weed barrier fabric or to weigh down tent stakes.
    • Laundry detergent caps: perfect for sand and bath toys!
    • Tissue boxes and Lysol wipes canisters are perfect for corralling plastic grocery bags.
    • Used Ziploc bags are great for containing stinky diapers and biohazardous waste from cleaning out the fridge!
    • Old garden hose: poke holes into a worn-out hose for a homemade soaker.
    • Baby wipe containers make perfect banks, pencil boxes, and craft supply organizers.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Technology Tamer

    Any of you who have them know that kids+Leapster, ipad, DS, etc..equals nagging and the potential for sitting for long periods of time in a vegetative state. Eliminate the nagging (and your child turning into a turnip) with a fun ticket system. Decide on how much time you would like to allow your child to play for the week and make tickets accordingly. For instance, you may start the week with 4 tickets worth 20 minutes of play time each. Place the tickets on the fridge and allow your child to have one ticket per day. He may choose when he would like to use the ticket. Let your little one know that you can take tickets away for poor behavior, nagging, etc. and "reset" on the same day each week by putting all of them back within reach. This way, your child can see for herself how much time they have to play. No more nagging!
    *I would like to thank my brilliant pal Angie for this idea- I can't wait to start!!!

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Cabinet Organizer

    To increase the space in your under-the-sink cabinet, try mounting a small curtain rod inside. Any type of spray bottle can hang from the rod, freeing up the rest of your cabinet. This is perfect for kitchen or bathroom cabinets!

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Bookmark Idea

    Giving a book as a gift this Christmas? Make a chic, personalized little bookmark to go with it. Trust me, it only takes about 30 seconds! Here's what you need:
    Large paper clip, hair clip (found at Michael's), assorted buttons, old earrings, etc...
    Clip the hair clip onto the paper clip and hot glue the embellishment onto the clip. Easy!

    Done! (I'd like to have used a larger paper clip but this is the size I had.)


    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Happy Labor Day!

    Happy Labor Day to all of you hard-working readers! I hope you're not working on your day off (which you probably are). See you on Wednesday!

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    Rotten Egg

    Here's your kitchen tip for the week:
    If you can't remember when you bought those eggs in your fridge, try the float test! Fill a glass with water and place the egg in question into it. If the egg floats, you have a bad egg on your hands. If it sinks, you have a good egg!

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Date Night

    My dearest husband gave me the idea for today's blog: last night's date! We went to the Fresh Market and bought whatever the heck we wanted! (Within reason, of course...) I am a bit of a foodie, so this was a thrill for me. We spent $20 and enjoyed dessert, treats for tomorrow, and a few gourmet ingredients that I wouldn't normally buy. Perfect! So the next time you're looking for a creative date, go to a high-end grocery store or specialty food store and see what you can find.
    The loot as follows: 2 types of flavored coffee, organic raspberries, specialty seltzer water, brown rice noodles, Greek salad dressing mix, a huge box of doughnut holes (You see what's left!), and a Meyer lemon.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Golden Egg

    It's been a while since I've posted a golden egg over here at the nest. In case you've forgotten, a golden egg is a "diamond in the rough" bargain that I bought and intend to re-purpose. (Note the use of the word intend.) I picked this old cabinet up for $25 at a yard sale a few weeks ago. Its new life will be as a craft cabinet for my crafty daughter. It looks pretty rough, but the "bones" are good and sturdy and the shape and size is exactly what I need. I love the rim around the edge for containing projects! I'll post new pictures after its face lift. Wish me luck!
    Front View
    Crazy laminate-type yuckiness on the top

    Yes, someone actually misspelled "drawer" in Sharpie. I really didn't know that was a drawer. Good thing it's labeled. Classy.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Fall Garden

    I know, I know summer is still alive and kicking and here I am talking about fall! Now is the time to plant your fall garden. Just tuck the seeds in for now, water, and you'll thank me when you have plenty of tasty things to eat from your garden later. Here's a list of fall veggies to plant now: radishes, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, lettuce, kale, collards, hanover, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and broccoli to name a few. Don't forget to plant your flower bulbs in another month or so too!
    *I know this carrot guy is creepy, but I just couldn't resist!

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Use up the last of your garden's veggies on a grilled flatbread pizza. This recipe is simple, delicious, and easy to make. It's the perfect vehicle for that veggie goodness! This picture is from last night's supper. Yum.

    Grilled Flatbread Pizzas
    1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
    1/2 cup warm water
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon salt

    • Sprinkle yeast over warm water; stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
    • Combine all ingredients; knead 1-2 minutes.
    • Let dough rise for 30 minutes, covered.
    • Roll out to 1/8" thickness and cut into 4 portions. Brush with olive oil.
    • Heat grill to medium (spray with Pam before turning on) place flatbread pieces onto grill, oiled side down. Brush other side with olive oil. (The dough will be soft and you will be questioning me because it will seem like the dough will stick but trust me on this one.)
    • Grill 2 minutes and flip.
    • Top with marinara sauce, cheese and toppings.
    • Grill 2 minutes. Devour.
    • Serves 4

    *Topping suggestions: fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, Italian sausage.....you get the idea!

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    DIY Dried Basil

    If you've already made a ton of pesto and need to use up some extra basil, try drying it. If you live in a drier climate, simply hang bunches of basil in a cool dry place until completely dry and crunchy. Rub leaves between your fingers until crushed. Place in a spice jar and call it a day! If your climate is more humid, line baking sheets with paper towels. Place leaves on a single layer on sheet and stick in the oven after you've baked something else and the oven is still warm but not smoking hot. Leave for about 5 minutes or until crunchy. rub until crushed and store as before. If you haven't yet made pesto, click on the link from a previous post for a super recipe: http://savvynest.blogspot.com/2011/08/presto-pesto.html

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Little Luxeries

    There are certain ingredients that you (like me) probably look at in a recipe and automatically start thinking of substitutions because they look expensive. Think again! There are plenty of tasty ingredients that have bold flavors and yet are surprisingly inexpensive. I did a little price scouting at Kroger last night and here's what I found:
    • Fresh bunches of cilantro $.79 each
    • Fresh bunches of parsley $ .89 each
    • Shallots (a personal fave) for $2.99/lb. (translates to about $.50 for 2 shallots)
    • Fresh ginger $2.99/lb (one small piece will set you back $.59)
    • Red onion $1.49/lb, which isn't much when buying just one
    • Jalapeno peppers for $.99/lb
    • All kinds of exotic peppers for $2.99/lb, again, not much for a small amount
    • Whole nutmeg- yes I know they are $4-5 a jar but they last forever!

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    Veggie Stand

    Instead of a lemonade stand for the kids in these last weeks of summer, try a veggie stand. Set out produce from your garden in your yard and watch it disappear! This is a great way for young children to earn money since they don't have to man the stand. Simply put out a change container made from a coffee can or shoebox for the honor system. If your child is raising money for a specific cause or charity, don't price your produce, just make sure your sign says "donations accepted" with an explanation of where the proceeds will go. It's so much fun for the kids (and adults) run outside to check the money box!
    *Some examples of things from the yard to sell are: dried lavender, dried hydrangea, cut flower bouquets, herbs, pumpkins, tomatoes, and other produce.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Olympic Fun

    Are your kids obsessed with the Olympics? (We hold several award ceremonies around here every day.) Spray paint old or scratched cds in gold and bronze colors. Don't forget to leave an unpainted cd to represent silver! Attach a red, white, or blue ribbon and host your own ceremony with the kids. They are guaranteed to love it!

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Cheap Spice Tip

    While shopping in Food Lion this summer, I made a discovery in the Latin foods section: cheap spices! I found packets of sesame seeds, oregano, chili powder, bay leaves, and cumin for just 55 cents per packet! There were many other spices too, I've just listed a few standouts. So next time you need spices, don't spend $4-5 for a tiny jar. Go to the Latin food section at Food Lion and pay a fraction of the price!

    *My apologies for not posting yesterday- our power was out!

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Corn is here!

    For a quick and easy way to cook fresh corn on the cob, look no further than your microwave. Microwave the corn, unshucked, on high for 3 minutes per ear. Wait a few minutes before you shuck, it will be hot! (The silks come off easily with this method.)

    Feeding a crowd? Melt butter and pour into quart sized mason jars. Guests can dunk their corn on the cob for quick and easy buttering. You can also provide unconventional seasonings such as smoked paprika, chili powder, lemon pepper, and fresh herbs for sprinkling.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Lunch to go

    For an easy way to keep lunchtime chaos at a minimum, try making the kid's plates ahead. Sectioned plates are perfect for keeping foods fresh. You can find them at Walmart or Target or even at yard sales. (I think I paid 10 cents for this one!) Cover with plastic wrap and stash in the fridge. Now the kids can get their own lunch and it's much healthier than the pre-assembled preservative-packed alternatives found in the lunchmeat section.
    Lunchtime suggestions:
    • Veggies with hummus or bean dip
    • Fruit
    • Applesauce
    • Cheese and crackers
    • Nuts & craisens or raisins
    • Yogurt
    • Lunchmeat
    • Small crackers (Cheezits or Goldfish)
    • Popcorn
    • Chicken or tuna salad
    • Fruit leather
    • Mini muffins
    • Banana or apple slices with peanut butter
    • Cookies or chocolate for dessert!

    Sunday, July 29, 2012


    Try your hand at drawing to create fun and thrifty artwork for your child's room. My sis kindly let me borrow this picture (and idea) from her son's room. She bought the frames from Michael's for $2 each, painted the mats with some leftover paint, and her husband drew the pictures. For a total cost of $4, they now have custom artwork to display!

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Christmas Idea

    Well folks, it's only 6 months til' Christmas! Here's a gourmet gift idea that you need to get cracking on soon if you plan to use it for a Christmas gift: homemade vanilla extract. It's so easy that you'll be wondering why you haven't tried this before. Get a batch started today!


    • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
    • 1 cup vodka


    Place vanilla beans in a clean jar with lid. Pour vodka over beans, and place lid on jar. Allow to sit in a cool dark place for 3 to 5 months, shaking jar occasionally.

    *Makes 1 cup, so triple or quadruple the batch if you're making gifts for a crowd.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Ring Organizer

    Use a wire coat hanger to organize and store your canning jar rings. Just untwist the wire, thread on the rings, and re-twist to store. No more digging through plastic grocery bags for rings! (This was my previous storage method.) You can also see exactly how many rings you have at a glance. The rings will store the entire length of the hanger- I just had enough to fill up the bottom wire.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Picking Power

    Try this picking "device" the next time you find yourself in the berry patch. It frees up both hands for speedy picking and keeps your container right at your fingertips. Just wear an apron with long strings. Using the strings, tie the bucket or bowl to you by tying in front. Bring the apron up and over the bowl's edges and secure with clothespins.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Clean Nails

    If you prefer to weed your garden without gloves or (like me) you have worn holes in every pair, dig your nails into a bar of soap before you tackle the patch. The soap under your nails will keep the dirt out and will easily wash away when you are finished!

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Natural Pest Killer

    A great solution for killing those annoying pests in your garden or yard is diomataceous earth. It is non-toxic and is effective in killing any kind of hard-shelled insect. Diomataceous earth is basically coral that has been ground into a fine powder. If you have honeybees, just be sure to use on plants that are not flowering. A powdered sugar shaker is the perfect tool to apply a fine, even dust to plants.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Cheapo baby food

    Along with most other groceries, the price of baby food has gone up. Come to think of it, it never really was a great deal, paying $0.50-$1 for less than 1/4 cup of food! The idea of homemade baby food is appealing, but all that peeling, chopping, cooking and straining takes way too much time. (Just my opinion, folks!) For a cheap and quick solution, buy canned fruits and veggies, toss them into the food processor, and there you have it: instant baby food! For about $0.60, you can get about a whole cup of baby food. Don't neglect fresh foods too: bananas and avacados are particularly easy to mash up too.

    Some pre-cooked favorites around here are:
    • canned pumpkin (feed straight out of the can)
    • canned green beans
    • canned carrots
    • unsweetened applesauce
    • canned pears, unsweetened
    • canned peaches, unsweetened
    • canned sweet potatoes, unsweetened

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Neighborly Gifts

    Summertime often brings new neighbors. What better way to welcome them than with homemade fare! Although a casserole is a fine tradition, think outside the pan with these fun ideas:
    • A batch of homemade granola in a mason jar
    • A sampling of fruits of veggies from the garden *don't forget a bunch of fresh herbs too
    • A loaf of homemade bread with a small jar of jam or apple butter
    • Homemade muffins or a homemade frozen cookie dough log
    • If neighbors are new to the area, include a list of your favorite restaurants and entertainment, along with a local magazine.
    • Don't forget to include your phone number!

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012


    Vacation time is finally here! Unfortunately for your potted plants, it's the hottest time of the year. To keep your plants looking great while you're gone, fill plastic soda bottles with water and punch  a few tiny holes in the cap. Push into the soil, cap first, and you're finished! Basically, the bottle slowly leaks water into the soil as it drys and keeps a nice even moisture level. I was gone last week and thought I'd give it a shot. We had 90-100 degree heat and no rain for 6 days and my plants looked great when I came back! I'm seriously going to do this all of the time now- not only when I'm gone!

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Homemade Sea Salt

    Make sea salt with your kids the next time you go to the beach. Not only is it fun, but it also doubles as a sneaky science lesson too! As with most Savvy Nest posts, we did try this and it was a huge hit.

    • Collect ocean water and pour into a dutch oven, using cheesecloth or a T-shirt to strain out impurities.
    • Boil the water on the stovetop until it resembles a slurry.
    • Bake the slurry in the oven in a shallow dish at 200* until completely dry. 
    For testing purposes, we used 1 gallon of sea water. It took about 2 hours to boil down and about 2 hours to dry in the oven. One gallon of sea water yielded about 1 cup of salt.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Handy Beach Bag

    My husband bought this gardening bag for me years ago to use as a beach bag. It is definitely my favorite bag for the job! The plethora of pockets around the outside are perfect for storing sunscreen, magazines, books, and snacks. The pockets lining the inside are great for stashing cameras, sunglasses, and cell phones. This is the time of year to find these bags in the gardening section of stores, so act now!
    *This bag came from Ace Hardware and cost about $10 on sale.