Crafting: Homemade Jewelry Display/Storage

Over the weekend I cleaned out the cabinets in my master bath. They were in dire need of organizing and cleaning! I found that I had all my jewelry stuffed in a drawer that was all jumbled together. I decided I needed a better storage solution. I went online for some inspiration. Although, I did not find what I was looking for, so I went to my crafting closet to see what I had. I had a wood picture frame  (11×14) that was not in use and a box of clavos (giant decorative nails used in rustic furniture). I figured if I pounded the nails into the frame and strung wire I could use that to hang my jewelry off of. I set off to the garage to raid my hubby’s wire stash. I found some the right gauge wire, stripped it and wound it around the nails. Then I painted the paper that was in the frame with some leftover paint from our bedroom, hung it up and now I have a great way to display my jewelry and I freed up drawer space! Love that! Price….free! Love that too! The whole project took me about 30 minutes, most of that being stripping the plastic coating off of the wires! Use any wood frame, nails or screws and wire and you can make the same thing.

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Frugal Tip of the Week: Update on my Stay Out of the Stores Week

Last week’s frugal tip was to stay away from the stores as a way to save money. If you’re not there, you can’t spend money right?!?! That includes staying off the online store sites as well! I did quite well last week with my challenge. I had one slip of the wallet, but it wasn’t my fault! I swear! We had a little emergency with my mother-in-law on Thursday and ended up away from home at dinner, so we had to eat out. It was only $15, so not too bad.  I did go to Macy’s on earth day and get a bottle of facial cleanser from Origins, but I didn’t pay for it. I didn’t steal it either, if that’s what you’re thinking! Origins was running a special on earth day, if you brought in an empty bottle or tube of your current face lotion/wash, they would give you a facial cleanser for free. It just so happened that I had been scraping the last of my face lotion out for a few days, so off I went! I love free stuff! I don’t know how much staying away from the stores saved me. I think I may start to practice this one week a month. Over the course of the year, that should save me money as well as break some shopping habits too….here’s hoping!

Although, today did I hit a few stores since my challenge was over, but you will be impressed. I had a $10 off a $10 purchase for both JC Penney’s and Kohl’s that I had received in the mail. Penney’s is having a no tax sale through tomorrow so I went today and found a cute summer top for myself on clearance for $10.40. So in all I paid $0.40 for a brand new shirt. Can’t beat that right! Next up was Kohl’s. I didn’t really see anything for me that grabbed my eye, but Lance did. We got him a 3 pack of toy story undies and a new t-shirt with a monster truck on it for $0.42 after my coupon! WooHoo! And a happy 3 year old to boot.

Next up was CVS. Over at Money Saving Mom there are some good deals listed for CVS this week. I went after toothbrushes, body wash, sunscreen and fig newtons using a combination of coupons, 3 transactions and the CVS extra bucks system I was able to get 2 oral b toothbrushes, 1 full size softsoap body wash, 1 full size irish spring body wash, 2 travel size sunscreens, 2 boxes of fig newtons and a box of Oreo’s (the smaller 1 row boxes) for under $4!  I would add it all up and tell you exactly but the receipts are in my purse, in the car and I am feeling lazy! It would have been less if I would have done my coupons in the right order at the self check, but I forgot and then I couldn’t use 2 of them…oops! There is quite a system when shopping at CVS and I haven’t done it in a while and I was a little rusty. I should have only paid about $2 for all that stuff. Oh well. Next time I will remember! I think I still did well for spending just under $5 today! I love my coupons!

Baking Day: Cupcakes with a New Frosting Recipe

About a month ago, I won a giveaway on another blog for some free Duncan Hines product coupons. I had picked up some confetti cupcake mix with those coupons. I thought Lance would like them. Since Lance has been home sick from school this week I decided it was time to break out the cupcakes. We whipped up a batch of the confetti cupcakes, but they needed frosting. So, yesterday I went on a search for a new fluffy cupcake frosting. I am not new to making frosting. I have done my son’s birthday cake for 3 years from scratch with homemade frosting, but I was a bit tired of plain old buttercream and I wanted something lighter in texture, but still with good flavor.  While searching, I stumbled across this amazing recipe. I thought it sounded a little strange starting with a white sauce and then using regular sugar instead of powdered, but this frosting is so good. It’s light and airy, not too sweet, but has a much better flavor than a whipped cream icing that still lets the taste of the cake shine through. With a little blue gel food coloring I had a beautiful color and texture to pipe onto the cupcakes (just use a ziplock with the corner cut off). We had a fun and beautiful snack yesterday, yes I know not the healthiest, but who doesn’t need a little cake in their life!!!

Here are the cakes I have made in the past for Lance. All homemade cake and frosting.

White chocolate white cake with buttercream.

Chocolate cake with colored plain whipped cream for icing.

White cake with buttercream and rice crispie treat whale covered in marshmallow fondant.

Homemade Granola Bars

I don’t know about you, but I love granola bars. I don’t love the price or all the junk that goes into them. Many of them are just as bad as a candy bar! I decided to go on a quest for a yummy recipe. This is the third recipe that I have tried, but it is by far my favorite so far and oh so chewy. Love that! I based my granola bars on this recipe over here with great pictures and tutorial to follow. If you are a regular reader, you know that this week I am challenging myself to not spend any money besides gas (and regular bills). So, I had to tweak the recipe to fit what I had on hand. I tend to do that a lot!

Here is what I put in mine:

Granola Bars

2 cups oats (I buy mine at Sam’s club since I use so many)

3/4 cup ground flax seeds

3/4 cup sunflower seeds (I buy the shelled ones at Dollar Tree, should be enough for 2 and 1/2 batches from one bag for $1!)

1 cup raw almonds ground in my blender, lance doesn’t really like big nut chunks (I also buy these at Sam’s)

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

4 oz butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

dried fruit, original recipe calls for 8 oz. I had 2 boxes of raisins and 3 organic fruit leathers from target in pomegranate and apricot,  which I cut into small pieces. My raisins were quite hard, so I soaked them it a bit of hot water for a few minutes to plump them back up….just a tip for you!

Toast the top 4 ingredients in the oven at 400° for about 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes. Bring the butter, sugar and honey to a simmer. Add the extracts. Pour over toasted mixture, add fruit and mix well. Press into a 9×13 lined with waxed paper and greased. Press hard to compact it with another piece of greased waxed paper. Let cool. Cut and store in air tight container or freezer. I like to wrap mine individually for a grab and go snack. I got 16 large bars. You can cut them any size you like. I split them in half for Lance.

The next batch I plan on substituting the butter with peanut butter and omitting the brown sugar and adding chocolate chip in stead of fruit. YUM!

Frugal tip of the Week: Stay out of the Stores!

My frugal tip this week is to frankly, stay away from the stores. Yes, I know this is not rocket science and it is really obvious. But, I would say for me, this is the one of the hardest challenges. I have learned over the past year and a half that I save a lot of money when I just don’t shop. For me this takes a lot of self discipline! I love to shop.

In January I participated in an eat from the pantry challenge with several other bloggers. I went the entire month only buying milk and produce and spent under $50 for the month on groceries. I highly encourage you to try this challenge at some point. It doesn’t have to be for an entire month, but just try a week to not buy groceries. Be creative in the kitchen and eat up those odds and ends that are lurking in the back of your pantry that you bought for a meal that never got made. It was very enlightening for me to know that I keep a well stocked pantry/freezer and was able to feed my family with no difficulty for a month. I bet there is plenty of food in your pantry too!

I am going to make a challenge for myself this week, starting now…monday 4-19-10 at 3:15 pm, I am not going to spend any money for the next 7 days. The only exception I will make for myself is to buy gas for the car so that I can get Lance to and from school. Other than that, I am making this a no spending week. I wish I could get Dallas in on this but he is going to Las Vegas for a bachelor party this weekend, so I know for him this will not work! I have a pot luck to go to on Saturday, so I will have to make something out of the pantry to take. I will also have Lance by myself for the weekend and we will need activities. This weekend it will be going to the park, library (maybe renting a movie from there), gardening in the yard, cooking in the kitchen and other free activities. Anyone want to join me?

What’s for Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner!

We deviated from the menu plan for the month! Oh no….well not really, we just didn’t feel like what was on the menu for tonight, so we changed it. That’s ok, the meal plan is just a guide. Our dinners are not set in stone. I think many people who are new to meal planning feel like they have to make what is on the list and only what is on the list. That can drive a person mad…well me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I love my meal plan for the month. It usually is very helpful to me so that we can avoid the “what do you want for dinner”, “I don’t know, what sounds good” conversations! Sometimes, it just doesn’t cut it!

So tonight, breakfast for dinner! Yum. We had whole grain oatmeal pancakes with blueberries and bacon. This pancake recipe is one of my grandma’s many recipes and was a favorite of my grandpa’s and mine for many years of my life! I still love it, although I have tweeked it a little to make is completely whole grain. Big surprise right?!?!?!

Oatmeal Pancakes

2 cups oatmeal

2 cups of buttermilk

Mix and let sit a couple minutes.

Add:

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use all purpose white too)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs beaten

Cook on hot griddle and serve with your favorite toppings. Griddle is hot when you sprinkle water on it and it dances before evaporating.

Frugal Tip of the Week: Make Your Own Buttermilk

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of making pancakes and your out of buttermilk? I have a cheap solution for you that will not involve a quick trip to the store! This is definitely not a new idea. I don’t claim to have originated it, but many people don’t know that you can make buttermilk to substitute in quick breads like banana bread, or use it in pancakes, waffles or any other baked goods that may call for buttermilk.

The ratio is 1 Tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup of milk, so that means 1/2 tablespoon  to 1/2 cup of milk etc. Just for reference, there are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon.

Put the vinegar in the measuring cup first, then fill the rest of the way with milk (any kind) and let it sit for about 5 minutes. There you have it, buttermilk! It is a little more runny than buttermilk, so I tend to go just short of a cup when pouring the milk.

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