Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Christmas All Year Long - Christmas Candles

I love to burn candles especially at Christmas time so candles are usually something I give as gifts.  Last year I found some wonderful candles at the dollar store.  I am hoping to have the same luck this year too.

Sometimes inexpensive or discount candles aren't very good.  Either the fragrance isn't really fragrant or they won't burn right because the wick isn't inserted straight up and down or the wax burns too hot and the wick lays over and then gets buried.  To make sure I buy a couple to try out and if they are good then I go back and get more.

I find that vanilla scented candles are a good safe bet, unless I know for sure that someone enjoys a particular scent like cinnamon.  I myself can't burn cinnamon candles because it bothers the inside of my nose and makes it sting so I like to be sure before I buy someone a strongly scented candle.

I will usually tie a pretty ribbon around the glass jar the candle comes in to dress it up a little.  I saw on Pinterest once that someone had added some artificial holly leaves and berries which looked really nice.  I may have to try that sometime.

Do you enjoy candles at the holidays?  Do you give them as gifts?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I have embarked on a whirlwind crazy week this week that started quite early so I wasn't able to get my usual post up on the blog this morning.  But, better late than never.  Right?

Last week I watched a TV show on Hulu and a BBC mini serious Lady Chatterley on YouTube.  Both programs were free.  I also listened to music on YouTube.

We continued to eat primarily from our pantry and freezer.  I shopped for lettuce, spinach, a package of tortillas and a half gallon of milk to round out what we had in our pantry and freezer.  I also bought a package of hotdogs to use up the last of our hot dog buns.

We gave our kitchen scraps to the neighbor's chickens.

Pantry meals this week included stroganoff by using up a package of ground beef, half an onion, a large can of cream of mushroom soup, some sour milk and rice for Sunday dinner.  Monday I used up the last ball of dough in the freezer, the mozzarella and the rest of the sauce I had set aside to make a cheese pizza.  Tuesday we polished off the last of the stroganoff.  Wednesday we had hot dogs for supper.  Thursday I used up a package of ground turkey, a package of fideo pasta and a can of diced tomatoes and made up a batch of Sopa Seca.  Friday we thawed out a bowl of beanless chili and made nachos.  Saturday we finished up the leftover Sopa Seca.

Not much going on last week in the thrifty department.  How was your thrifty week?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back To School - School Supplies

My favorite thing about back-to-school when I was young, and even now, is the school supplies.  I don't know why it is but I love to shop for school supplies and I love to do it for as little money as I can get away with.  This year I think I may have topped myself.

For junior high aged children it is pretty easy.  Pens, pencils and notebook paper are the basic requirements.  Last year we needed a special calculator and it still works for this year.  A couple weeks ago I did buy her a new backpack as her old one was shot.

For the little one she still has the standard issue grade school list and fortunately we have everything we need in the School Supplies box in the bottom of their closet.  All we had to do was to assemble it in her backpack.

Last Friday night I stopped at Fred Meyer to pick up ten spiral bound notebooks for 19¢ each.  So far I have spent a whopping $1.90 on school supplies to get them started in school this year.  Who hoooo!

How are you doing with school supplies?  How do you save money this time of year?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Have A Guest! - Labor Day DIY Party Tutorial Part II

Yesterday guest poster Sophie Miller shared with you her great ideas for planning an end of summer Labor Day Party.  Now she is back to discuss the food.  My favorite part!

What to Make?

Too many times have I gone to a party with the same old food; fried chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc.  Why not try a little something different.  Something that requires a little more effort.

While there is nothing wrong with pasta salad, fried chicken, baked beans, or rolls, people know when you put forth the time and energy to make a party memorable or when you’re just taking the easiest route out.

Dishing up with Delish Appetizers:

Buffalo Potato Skins

Tater skin filled with cheese, green onions, chicken, with Frank’s Buffalo Sauce drizzled over the top


Tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella and a single basil leaf

"Tacos Gone Walkin’’

From bottom to top, layer ground beef, black olives, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, and cheese all in a casserole pan. Bake in the oven. Once the cheese melts, it should be finished!

Spinach and Ricotta Eggrolls

Just roll and bake! Here is the recipe, courtesy of

Supplying the essentials:

Don’t forget about your disposable cutlery, napkins, and Red Solo cups!  It may be a good idea to get bulk when it comes to party supplies, since summer is coming there is no telling how many times you’ll have people over, sitting outside, and enjoying the sun.  Washing dishes just becomes cumbersome and a hassle, so go with disposable. Eco-friendly isn’t a bad idea either!

A Labor Day party will be a huge hit with all the invitees.  While many have events scheduled for the weekend, there are also plenty of people who will not be doing anything. If you don’t have any plans yourself, this is the perfect opportunity to throw a modest bash and make this Labor Day one to remember!  God Bless the USA!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We Have A Guest! - Labor Day DIY Party Tutorial Part I

Sophie Miller contacted me to post on the blog some of her terrific ideas for celebrating Labor Day.  Her post is so wonderful I am going to share it with you over the next two days.

Thank you so much Sophie!

Ah yes, the end of August is approaching. September is almost here and that means the kiddos are almost back in school and summer is winding down. Why not celebrate another great summer with a friendly neighborhood get-together? Labor Day is a national holiday – meaning most of us should be offered a paid holiday by our employers or at very least a day off. Instead of spending this time sulking indoors and watching television episodes for 8 hours straight, throw a celebratory Labor Day barbecue! Nothing feels like summer more than sitting out in the backyard with a lite breeze tickling your hair and the smell of something delectable cooking over a grill. Invite your co-workers, friends, and neighbors to join in and bring a dish – it doesn’t have to be a huge event, but a modest social occasion.

Here are some ideas!

Party Specifics

So – we’ve got this idea to throw a Labor Day party.  Now what?

Should we do decorations?  How about streamers?

Cake, ice cream, drinks - alcoholic or non-alcoholic?

How many should I invite?

Take a deep breath and let’s deal with one question at a time.

First let’s consider your target audience and define your party size.  Will this include 7-8 of your closest friends or are we going big with 10-12 or more people?  Once you have that figured out, time to send out some fun party invitations to those lucky party invitees.  Send those out a week or so in advance to allow people enough time to plan for it.

Next, let’s decide on the theme of the party.

Is this going to be one to decorate the house and outside of the house for?  Are you going to go with the red, white, and blue traditional for celebrating Labor Day?  One interesting idea that I am super excited about is a Hawaiian-style party; pineapples, pork over a fire, and fun games!  Who wouldn’t want to experience that?!

What to eat?

Then, of course, is the food.  Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about one of the most important elements of your party.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back To School - School Clothes

Friday night I braved the mall and six stores later I was able to come up with three burgundy polo shirts and two pair of black cotton twill pants for my oldest.  The new school she will be attending this year requires uniforms.  Although she isn't so thrilled about this, I have to admit I am.  It makes it easy.  Once you find the items you need anyway.

At JC Penney I was able to find the shirts for $9.99 each.  Finding the pants was the hardest but finally we found her two pair, the last two pair in her size, at Sears for $11.49 each.  A couple weeks ago we got her shoes on sale at ShopKo for $29.99 and I had a $10 store coupon so essentially they were only $19.99.  I still plan to get her some black socks to go with her uniforms.  She already has three pair so I don't have to no rush.

The little one is in really great shape as she has inherited a ton of great clothing from big sister.  That along with the handful of things we bought throughout the summer means she has been ready to go in the clothing department for quite awhile.  We bought her new shoes at the beginning of summer, on sale and a little larger than needed at the time, so she is all set there too.

I have to admit, this is the cheapest back-to-school preparation I have managed so far.  Thankfully! 

How is it going for you?  How are some ways you are saving money this year getting your children ready?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

My oldest went to a friend's house for a pool party so the youngest and I went out for frozen yogurt at the corner convenience store.  We had root beer swirled with vanilla for only $1.79 a cup.

I went through the pantry and freezer to "shop" for this week's meals.  I went to the corner market and picked up a half gallon of whole milk and a package of hot Italian sausage.  We were kind of craving it.  I turned it in a huge pot of sauce that we had with spaghetti.  With enough sauce to freeze a couple of containers for later in the month and plenty of leftovers for the week as well.

I bought two small bottles of Tru Moo chocolate milk for 58¢ each so the girls would have two new drink bottles for their lunchboxes.

I turned our half gallon of milk into a gallon

I used up some ground pork and made a good sized pot of sausage gravy and a batch of whole wheat biscuits for our Sunday breakfast.  We had plenty left over for another meal and enjoyed it reheated on Monday evening for our supper along with some scrambled eggs.

My friend gave me a huge stack of coupons and the weekly ads she had saved for me.  I went through them all and clipped several coupons to use at the grocery store.

We gave our kitchen scraps to the neighbor's chickens.

We made wise use of all of our leftovers.

I made a pint of salad dressing using items I already had on hand.

This week the only groceries I bought was a bag of lettuce, a bag of spinach, three 8 oz. packages of shredded cheese on sale for $5 and a half gallon of whole milk on sale for $1.25.  I also bought a box of raisin bran on sale for $1.69.  I've been craving it for some reason.

Pantry meals this week included Spaghetti and Meat Sauce on Sunday, Leftover Biscuits & Gravy on Monday (the girls finished the biscuits for breakfast), Leftover Spaghetti on Tuesday (plus two lunches), Bean Burritos on Wednesday (beans were in the freezer), Macaroni & Cheese with sliced wienies on Thursday (we had four left in the fridge), I took the girls out to dinner on Friday, Homemade Pizza on Saturday.

We also used up all of the veggies in our crisper drawers for salads throughout the week to go with our main course and in my lunches.

We used up every last bit of a bottle of shower gel, trial sized bottle of shampoo and I used a toothpick to scoop out the last of a tube of chapstick.  We continue to work to use up all the little bits of stuff we have lying around.

I took the girls to dinner on Friday.  We used a free kid's meal with the purchase of an adult meal coupon to save on the cost.

I watched a TV show on Hulu and a movie on Amazon.

I finally received payment for the handicap ramp I sold to Make A Wish.  I plan to use every dime of that check to its fullest potential. 

What thrifty things did you do last week to save money?