Monday, May 20, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

So. Much. To. Do!

I had a lovely Mother's Day and I hope all of you mommies out there did too.  It was a busy one, but still very much enjoyable.  It started out with a list and a trip to Wal-Mart early that morning with my youngest to pick up more things for the graduation party.  On the way home we stopped at the mall to use my $10 OFF $10 Purchase coupon at JC Penney where I picked up a pair of denim shorts for only $7.99 out of pocket.  I haven't had a new pair of shorts in ages.

After lunch I went outside and grouted the tile top on the grilling station the girls and I had made the week before.  With it finished it only seemed right to test it out so later that evening we grilled up a couple rib eyes and declared this project a complete success.

I pulled out all of my serving bowls, platters and picnic ware to add to the pile of what I bought.  I made a final list of items to pick up last minute like produce and buns.  I stockpiled more ice in the chest freezer.

Monday after work I picked up the kid's prom pictures I had printed off at Walgreens.  They turned out pretty nice again this year.  I made two copies so each one of them had a set.  Total cost of prom pics came in at just under $5!  Including the photographer (me)!

Tuesday was insane.  It started with a doctor appointment first thing in the morning, a trip to Walgreens after work to pick up a prescription, followed by picking my daughter up from her violin lesson and stopping at Dollar Tree to pick up some last minutes party items.  While at Dollar Tree my oldest texted me to tell me her final band concert was in forty five minutes! Ahh!  That is just how crazy our life has been lately.

Wednesday it was time to start gearing up for the weekend, mainly the graduation party.  That morning I hard boiled a dozen eggs for potato salad, washed all of the bowls and platters I'd pulled out of the pantry and gathered up all the ingredients I needed for that evening's baking session.  After work we baked.

After work on Thursday I boiled.  After work on Friday I assembled.  Both days I watched it rain and hoped like crazy the weather forecast would be correct and it would stop raining by Saturday.

Saturday was the party.  I was up early and off to the store with a list for last minute items.  Once at home we I scrambled around decorating and setting up.  Fortunately, my daughter's boyfriend had arrived from out of town the day before so we had a second pair of helping hands.

As far as how the party went, check back tomorrow and I'll give you the scoop on that.

The chickens made out like bandits with all the cooking I was doing.  Loads of kitchen scraps to fill them up and keep them busy.  They were pretty happy about that.

I used ice cream buckets I've saved over the years to store food and baked goods.  I stockpiled more ice in one gallon Ziploc bags throughout the week.  I washed out all of those Ziploc bags once they were empty so we could reuse them.  No point letting all of those bags go to waste or to the landfill.

I added water to an "empty" jug of dish soap, gave it a good shake and had enough soap to wash dishes all week.  I also did that to a laundry detergent jug and we had plenty of soap to wash the bunny's blankets.  I used up the last of a bottle of shampoo that I'd set upside down in the shower a few weeks back so we got out every drop.  I added the truly empty bottles to our recycle bin.

We set out a full blue recycle bin at the curb for collection, but had no trash to put out.  I added a full collection container to the compost bin in our backyard - onion skins, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, banana and avocado peels.

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - wiped down the washer/dryer, vacuumed floors, cleaned the mirrors.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed floor.

Kitchen -  vacuumed floor, cleaned microwave & range hood.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  The girls cleaned the bathroom.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - three loads of laundry, vacuumed living room, hallway & entry.  Swept front porch.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Making A Candle

Last week I gathered up all of my leftover candle wax I'd collected from spent candles I'd burned last winter as well as some of my Scentsy pot wax I'd saved.  I put all of the similar scented wax pieces into a couple candle jars that still had wax in them and set them into my large slow cooker.  I added a couple cups of water and set it on high, then left it for an hour.  When I came back all of the wax was melted.

50 piece wick set includes sticky pads to anchor them in place

I purchased a wick set from Amazon for $6.98.  I decided to up my game a bit and I'm pretty sure I have enough wicks here to last me a lifetime.  I positioned one of the wicks in a clean candle jar.  I mixed all the melted wax together, careful not to let any bits of debris get in there, then poured it into the jar.  I left a little bit for a second pour.

This method holds my wick in place perfectly while the wax sets

I used a pair of table knives to hold my wick up straight until the wax cooled and hardened.  Then I heated up the remaining wax in the slow cooker for another hour and did my second pour to fill in the voids that are inevitable when making candles.

I recycled a tin wick base and reused it with the leftover piece of wick I trimmed off

After the candles was finished I trimmed the wick.  The piece of leftover wick was then inserted into one of the leftover wick bases from an old candle.  I used a pair of pliers to crimp it in.  Now I have a "free" wick to use next time so I'm more than sure these wicks I bought will last a good long time.

Warm pumpkin spice scent perfect for next fall

This is the first time I've tried making candles using my slow cooker and I love doing it this way.  Super easy and no fuss.  My candles aren't the prettiest, but they are nice smelling and I love to have them to burn on a cool evening.  Plus I hate to toss out all that good wax.  By saving it up to melt down and reuse I get to enjoy bonus candles.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

An Outdoor Grilling Station

Last week we tested out the BBQ grill and it did great.  One thing I've always struggled with while grilling is having adequate space to set things as well as a place to put stuff while entertaining.  Our yard and deck are rather small so our spaces need to be well used and everything we own needs to be scaled to fit.  I came up with a solution that works well for us and didn't bust our budget, which also tends to run on the rather small side these days too.

We've hit the FREE WOOD bin a few times this month to collect lumber for a summer project we hope to get started on after school is out.  In the process we ended up with some extra wood I thought would be perfect to construct a grilling station.  I've always wanted an outdoor kitchen, but with time constraints and no budget for such a thing I felt a little grilling station would be a nice compromise.  So we set to work and built one.

The wood from this pallet was really good quality

The wood to build the frame and bottom shelf is all from that long narrow pallet we dragged home.  Even the OSB I made the top out of was part of that pallet.  It had 1"X4" sides that I carefully removed and was able to reuse to make the bottom shelf along with a length of 1"X4" I had in the garage.  The 2"X4"s from the pallet were used to build the frame along with a 2"X2" I had leftover in the garage from our gate project.

I had plenty of extra floor tile in my garage to use for the top and loads of trim too that I've acquired from the FREE WOOD bin over the years.  Screws, nails, wood glue and paint in the garage.  Even some leftover tile glue and grout from our entry way project.  This project was a good way to use stuff up.

I used six of the floor tiles I had in my garage to do the top.  I didn't do anything fancy, just set them in two rows of three.  After the glue set I mixed up a little bit of grout and finished it all off. All of the wood got a good coat of outdoor varathane when I was finished. 

All done!

I did have to go to the store for a can of black paint to do the trim with as I'd run out.  It was on sale for $2.99.  The red paint was a can I had garage already so my only expense on this project was the paint.

We grilled again to make certain everything worked well!  It did!

It isn't perfect by any means, but I didn't intend for it to be.  It is sturdy, fully functional and we think it goes perfectly with our FREE BBQ.  Looks to me like we are ready for a party!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Chicken Alfredo

I make chicken alfredo fairly often, I always have.  My girls love it and so do I.  I've posted recipes for this dish before, however now that we've adopted the Ketogenic lifestyle I've tweaked it a bit.  Not only is this a delicious entree, but extremely easy to throw together.

I start by slicing two large chicken breast halves and sauteing them in olive oil, browning them a bit on each side.  Then I sprinkle them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Once cooked through I add two heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic, about a tablespoon of dried basil and stir that all around.

The last step is to pour in 2 cups of cream and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan.  Let that simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes and it is ready to serve.  Now how stinking easy is that?!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Another Prom On A Budget

Last year I shared how we did Prom on a budget.  We got the dress at Dillards and I did pay full price for it (ouch) as I believe every young lady deserves that shopping for a prom dress experience.  But just once.  I'm not about to make it and experience every time a dance rolls around.  But first Prom is special and I feel the dress needs to be as well.  It was, and still is, a gorgeous dress and she is still very much in love with it so my goal was definitely accomplished there.

This year we did things a little differently and much thriftier as well.  Her dress came from a thrift store and we bought it last summer.  In fact, we bought three of them.  The store had a plethora of beautiful formal dresses on the day we shopped and as my daughter is rather tiny it can be difficult to find her clothing outside of the children's department.  Fortunately for us we found a lot for her to choose from and managed to find three beautiful gowns that fit her nicely, required little alteration and would work for any dance she might be attending.  I made the decision to buy all three and the total bill was less than $20.

We cleaned the dresses at home and they came out beautifully.  The one she chose to wear for Prom is a beautiful teal color, which she loves and looks lovely in, and has a shimmery sparkle within the fabric.  It fits her perfectly and only required a little bit of a hem once she chose the shoes to wear with it.  She found her shoes at the mall at Payless.  They were 70% OFF as the store is closing and clearing out all of their inventory.  She paid less than $10 for them.

The next accessory she wanted was long sating gloves.  She found what she wanted on Amazon and I ordered them for her.  They were less than $7 with free shipping.  As we did last year hair, makeup and nails was done at home.  She priced having her hair done up at a salon, but the style she wanted was $45 to $65.  She opted to save that money for college and we did her hair at home.  Instead she invested in a new tube of mascara as well as a can of hairspray and called it good.

And, as we did last year, I was the photographer and we got some wonderful pictures.  The location was a little wetland we have in town, one I didn't even know existed until Saturday..  Beautiful little park setting.  I printed the photos off at Walgreens and I think they turned out rather well.

So if you have proms or dances coming up in your not too distant future I hope you find some tips here that help you make it affordable as well as memorable.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday morning I got my chores done and then went outside to start a bonus project I wasn't initially planning on doing, but since we had extra wood from our recent excursions to the FREE WOOD bin, I figured why the heck not?  This is going to be awesome, I'm so excited about it, and once I'm done I'll be sharing with you what I ended up building.

Oh my goodness, what is she up to now?

While waiting for paint or glue to dry I kept myself busy by processing the last load of wood, mostly plywood, I had picked up.  I did my best to stack it neatly in the backyard so it wouldn't be too big of an eyesore, but I must admit it isn't the prettiest.  Nonetheless, I am very glad to have it.

This candle smells so good

Monday evening I came home, gathered up all the extra wax I had accumulated over the past year from spent candles and melted some of it down to make a new candle.  I then placed the empty glass candle jars into our glass recycle bin.

I'd say this lid is toast!

Before work on Wednesday morning I ordered a replacement lid for one of my Pyrex mixing bowls from Amazon.  The old one had become pretty brittle and cracked in several places until it finally broke through.  I have the clear glass three piece mixing bowl/storage set, have had it for years and I use it a ton.  I'm so happy that Pyrex offers replacement lids for their products.

Wednesday evening I made twenty more graduation announcements for my daughter to hand out to her friends at school.  That made for a total of forty five announcements made.  Had I purchased them at $6.95 each the total cost would've been $312.75 plus tax and shipping.  I have less than $8 out of pocket invested so far which makes this a HUGE savings.

A nice haul from Winco

Friday I stopped in at Winco for groceries in hopes that would hold us for the week ahead.  I still need to shop for a few items for the party, but for the most part our regular groceries are pretty well covered.

I found this cat.....  LOL, our crazy Stella

I picked up a pile of rough cut 2" X 4"s from the FREE WOOD bin Saturday morning.  I'm pretty sure I've collected enough wood now for the project I have planned once school gets out.  I'm starting to get excited about it too.

All day Saturday I was pretty much in project mode.  Stay tuned this week for the post on exactly what I ended up making.  I'm super happy with how it turned out and you won't believe how much I spent to make it.  The oldest and I cleaned up the backyard, ran the weed eater, raked and pulled weeds.  My youngest mowed and trimmed the lawn, watered the flower pots and later that day gave me a helping hand with my big project.

My first up do

That evening was prom.  We had to finish up early to help my oldest daughter get ready for her big night which included doing her hair and a quick photo shoot before they headed off.  Needless to say it was a very busy Saturday. 

I washed out and reused a couple Ziploc bags.

I stockpiled more ice for the party in the garage freezer.

Swiss burgers and salad for supper

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - vacuumed floors, washed the rug.  Daily swish & swipe.  Washed down the washer & dryer.

Dining Room - vacuumed floor, washed the window.

Kitchen -  vacuumed floor, washed the window inside & out.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  My girls cleaned the bathroom.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - four loads of laundry, vacuumed living room, hallway & entry.  Swept front porch & the deck.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Refreshing Our Front Porch

I spring clean the front porch every year.  It is the space that greets us every day when we come home as well as our guests.  It is important to me that it look nice and welcoming.

Last Saturday I got busy and got the porch area completely cleared off and swept down, getting rid of all the cobwebs and winter debris.  Then I washed our front door, the walls and the porch.  I used a vacuum to get in all the nooks and crannies and even sucked the accumulated lint in the dryer vent.

I cleaned the doormat I bought last fall and vacuumed it real good too as well as our cute little porch chair.  Then it was time to start putting things back.  I set the chair in its designated corner, the crate the girls and I made to use as a side table and display area, and the flower pots.

Looking pretty faded

The barn star we have at our front door was really faded so I decided to give it a quick freshen up as well.  I had some spray paint in the garage so I gave it a quick coat of the wine color and then a light dusting of the metallic paint to give it a little something extra.

I already had the paint in the garage so this was a super quick no cost project!

The girls love how the star turned out.  Especially the little bit of sparkle I added.  It looks really neat when the sun hits it.

Lastly, and most certainly not the least, was to plant the flower pots.  My youngest daughter and I went to Fred Meyer and picked out the flowers and plants we wanted to add to the pots and I think we came up with some really nice combinations.

I always try to do different flowers each year, but we always like to have a spike in the big pot by the door.  This year we got a different color spike than the one we planted last year and our mums I planted last fall in the pots wintered over quite nicely so they are still in there as well.

Cleaned the light fixture & removed all the cobwebs

There are a few things I truly enjoy doing each spring to launch the season.  Freshening up my front porch and planting out my flowerpots brings me so much joy.  I really love this spring tradition that has developed over the years.

Welcome to our home!

What is your favorite part of the spring season?

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