Monday, August 30, 2010

Nice "Re-covery"

So I've had these lovely fiddle back chairs in my garage for 4 years. I bought them at an estate sale for $4 each and gave them a good re-finishing and paint job. They sat in the garage for another year. I've finally mustered the courage to upholster the seats and I'm pleasantly surprised to have pulled it off! *Warning, this job was not done by a professional. Please do try this at home!

Trace and cut out a piece of foam (I used 2" thick), using the seat as a guide.

Cut out a piece of quilt batting and your material about 2" larger than the foam.

Lay down the layers in this order: material (right side down), batting, foam, board.

Pull the fabric over the edges and staple onto the board. Try not to get wrinkles around the corners when you gather them. (A little tricky but not too hard.)
One down, three more to go!
*All of the materials needed to do this can be found at any fabric store.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pasta Tomato Stuff...

This is one of my favorite recipes for using up tomatoes and basil from the garden. It's fast, fresh, simple, and delicious! The best part is that you probably have all of the ingredients hanging around in your pantry. My sis gave the recipe to me years ago, and I neglected to write down the name, so I call it Pasta Tomato Stuff.

Pasta Tomato Stuff
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan (freshly grated is best)
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh basil (use 4 tsp. dried if you don't have fresh)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine all and serve over pasta. No cooking required!
*A simple salad (Caeser is my favorite) and garlic bread make it into the perfect meal.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Word About All That Money You've Saved...

Do you ever read this or other money-saving blogs and wonder what the person is doing with the money they've been saving? I have found that it is much easier and more fun to save money if the money saved has a purpose. Whether it's giving to a favorite charity or church, paying off personal debt, or saving for a new refrigerator, it's important to save with a goal in mind. When there is a specific purpose for your savings, it won't end up floating around in your bank account like a 30 year old who still lives with their parents! Put that money to work for something (or someone) good and give generously when you are blessed with extra. Feel free to leave a comment on what your saved money will go toward!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Storage Idea

As some of you may know, I live in what some would classify as a small house. (I dearly love my small house, don't get me wrong!) Small houses can be short on storage options, so sometimes you have to be a little bit creative. Space underneath the beds tends to be under-utilized, so this idea has been a great one for our house. Here's how you can make rolling storage drawers to keep under a bed:
Get an old dresser and "harvest" the drawers. (This one was free!)

Screw casters into the bottom of the drawer.

Here's the finished product! (I spray painted the front and added easier-to-pull handles.)

Total cost per drawer:$4.30
Dresser: $0.00
Spray paint: $0.00 (already had some)
Casters $3.50(pack of 4)
Handles: $.80 for 2
*You can find casters, spray paint and handles at any home-improvement store.
 Be sure to measure to make sure the drawers will fit under the bed. If it's too late, you can purchase bed risers, which are plastic "leg extenders" that you can use to raise the height of your bed. These can also be purchased at a home-improvement store.

Friday, August 20, 2010

To Eat Or Not To Eat...

At last, I have found my long-lost companion. I no longer have to call my mom every time I have a question regarding the freshness of food! "This chicken has been squatting in my fridge for 2 days. Can I use it?" I ask. "Well, sniff it. If it smells ok, you're good to go." she says. Ah, the blurred, unscientific madness of it all! There is finally a website that unlocks the answers to the ancient secrets of how long honey lasts, whether or not you should wash your grapes before storing them, and if you can eat mustard that's 4 months past its prime. Oh the joy! The website is: The site offers a great variety of foods, all neatly categorized, for a user-friendly reference. In addition to the categories, it offers recipes, food storage tips, and frequently asked questions. Now I (and my mom) can finally rest easy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bottoms Up!

Surprise your taste buds with a fun and different way to re-hydrate in these hot August days. By adding natural flavors to your water, staying hydrated won't be such a chore!
  • Citrus-rosemary water: use lime slices, strips of orange zest, and gently crushed rosemary sprigs.
  • Ginger-cucumber water: use sliced ginger, cucumber ribbons, and mint sprigs.
  • Grapefruit: squeeze half a grapefruit into your pitcher.
  • Water "Sangria": toss in a mixture of cut-up citrus, berries, and apple.
 Steep ingredients in water, and refrigerate for an hour.

*Jazz up your water, iced team or lemonade! Drop combinations of fresh berries, mint leaves, ginger bits, and strips of citrus zest into empty ice cube trays. Add water to trays, and freeze.
*Use frozen berries for "ice cubes" to impart a subtle flavor while they cool your drink.
*Use fruit flavored Twizzlers in lieu of straws for a greener choice. They're edible so there's less waste! (These are great for kid's parties too!)




Monday, August 16, 2010

How to "make" soap!

Ok folks, here is the soap post as promised! Making your own soap is so easy and is such a fun gift. Here's how to do it:

1. Buy the soap. You can find various kinds such as goat's milk, cucumber & aloe, glycerin, and shea butter at Michael's or most craft supply stores. The ones I used were 2lb bricks and cost $10 each. I used my 40% off coupon at Michael's so they were $6. I estimate that you could make around 8-10 medium sized soap cakes from one brick.
2. Cut the soap into smaller pieces and melt in microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted. Stir every 30 seconds.

3. Add essential oils or exfolliants while the soap is still liquid. (This example is goat's milk soap, glycerin soap, lavender essential oil, and dried lavender blooms.)

4. Spray the mold with a light coating of cooking spray. (You can use old yogurt cups, sour cream containers, or just about any container with a nice shape for a mold.)

5. Pour the liquid soap into the mold, let sit for 2 hours and pop out. Presto, you're done!

(The soap pictured on the right is glycerin with lavender blooms.)
 *Soap is extremely forgiving, so it can be melted after it hardens if you want to start over.
*Get creative with your variations. Throw in some oatmeal, shredded loofah, or dried blooms for an exfolliant. Add spices, essential oil, dried herbs, or citrus zest for scent. Take your inspiration from some of your favorite scents or create new ones!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The last of the gifts...

To "wrap up" the last of the gift ideas, here are a few to help with those "what the heck do I get" people.
  • Make a beer bouquet basket with assorted types of beer. Throw in some nuts for fun.
  • Give a family the gift of fun by purchasing passes for favorite zoos, state parks, or museums.
  • Outsource yourself! Give coupons for your special talents, such as a dessert of the month, a massage, child care, car detailing, or a homemade meal.
  • Give a favorite teacher a $5 or $10 Starbucks gift card. Trust me, she doesn't need another mug!
  • Pick up frames, mats, and canvasses at yard sales to display a child's artwork. Give to grandparents, the child's father for his office, or give to the child for their own room.
  • Make a mixed CD of favorite Christmas tunes. Everyone loves these!
  • Know a young married couple? Buy a recipe binder with sleeves and slip in some of your favorite recipes. *Hallmark carries nice binders and recipe cards.
  • Give a magazine subscription. If you do some searching online, you can purchase them inexpensively. *Family Handyman is a favorite in our house. We've given it to guys and gals alike!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zucchini Recipe

I relish the opportunity to share with you one of my favorite recipes! Look under the "cooking" tab above for the recipe for my sister's famously delicious zucchini relish.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gift Ideas Continued...

Couples gifts are wonderful because you don't have to be as specific with the gifts and you can make it fun too!

  • Make a movie night basket: include popcorn, popcorn seasoning, a couple of DVDs, movie candy, and coupons for free movie rentals all inside a big popcorn bowl. *Hint: you can find DVDs at Big Lots for $3 right now!
  • Make a travel kit for the car complete with maps, hand sanitizer, snacks, tissues, and dashboard wipes. Throw in a mixed CD of fun driving songs.
  • Give a newly married couple ornaments and Christmas decorations. They probably don't have much to decorate their new home!
  • Know someone with a great fireplace? Give them a pie iron, hot chocolate mix, Jiffy popcorn, and homemade pine cone fire starters. *You can make the fire starters by melting wax, adding pine essential oil for fragrance, and dipping the cones into the wax.
  • Give a gift for the senses! Give a gift to indulge each of the 5 senses such as perfume/cologne for smell, a homemade goody for taste, a coupon for a massage or some soft socks or blanket for touch, a CD or itunes for sound, and a framed photo or favorite DVD for sight.
  • Buy several gift cards for restaurants or stores. Attach instructions for a date with each card. Example: attach to a $10 Cold Stone Creamery card instructions to order each other's ice cream and toppings, and drive to a nearby park to eat. Include a few questions, such as "What is your favorite memory of us together?", "If you were on the show Survivor, and won a dessert, what would you choose?" or "If money were not an issue, what would you give me for my birthday?".

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Christmas in July!

Ever wonder what to give your child's teacher, friend, or that family member that has everything? Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

*I loved the comment from the last gift section with more ideas- keep them coming!

  • Dishtowel set- one year I bought plain white dishtowels and embellished them with red and green ribbon and sewed green ric-rac on in the shape of a Christmas tree. They were pretty, inexpensive, and personal!
  • Bulbs or seeds. Amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs are readily available around the holidays.
  • Homemade soaps
  • Homemade linen spray
  • Homemade bath salts
  • Decorate a whisk with a pretty ribbon; separate the wires slightly to fill with candy. Finish with a gift tag that says "We whisk you a merry Christmas!". (I know, I love corny puns!)
  • A few bottles of essential oil with instructions on different ways to use them.
  • A homemade jam sampler. I did this one year and included apple butter, zucchini relish, and cherry jam. It was a huge hit!
  • A local food item such as gourmet peanuts, local coffee, or candy.
  • Homemade bread with a jar of homemade jam.
  • Start herbs from seed in the fall. They'll be the right size to plant in a pot by Christmas for a lovely herb garden.

Golden Egg

My local CVS had a bunch of cold and flu care products clearanced on the shelves at 75% off. I used coupons with almost all that I bought. Here's the cache:

Retail for these products was $29.08. That's over half of my grocery bill for a week!
I paid: $3.22
*This is a good reminder to stock up on things when they're super-cheap. This stuff doesn't expire til December of 2011 so they'll last through 2 flu seasons. There's nothing worse than going to the drug store when you're sick and paying through the nose!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gift Ideas

Due to popular demand, this week I'll be arming you with ideas for Christmas gifts. I'll be posting ideas in categories. Today's category is gifts for children:

  • Gift cards for itunes or ring tones for teens.
  • Refinish something special (ie. dollhouse, chair, rocking horse) One year, I bought a beautiful child's rocking chair at an estate sale for $10 and refinished it and added a seat cushion for my niece. It was a hit!
  • Buy school-related supplies while they are on sale now and bundle together for a fun gift. (ie. finger paints, crayons, markers, stickers, sticker books, coloring books, paints.)
  • If you can sew, make a custom child's apron or doll clothes.
  • Have an American Girl fan? You can find compatibly sized clothing for the dolls at Michaels stores, and for an even greater discount, use your 40% off coupon from Sunday's paper.
  • Write and illustrate a story with the child as the main character. Cut out photos of the child and add to the story.
  • Buy a small baby blanket and sew things onto it such as soft toys, mirrors, various ribbons, and teething toys for texture.
  • Make a fleece blanket out of their favorite sports team fabric.
  • Give a frugal teen a $20 bill and go thrift-store shopping with them to see how much bang they can get for their bucks.
  • Produce a short film showing you in action at work. Make short instructional movies to teach your kids how to do things such as tie their shoes, learn ABCs, learn songs, etc.
  • Record yourself reading a Christmas story. Make it personal by substituting your child's name and include a fun message at the end.