Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Putting Lipstick On A Pig - aka The FREE BBQ!

I had found a free charcoal grill on Craigslist on Easter Sunday.  The girls and I jumped into the truck that morning and headed out to load it up and drag it home.  It was in pretty decent shape for a free grill.  You sure couldn't beat the price and I knew a good cleaning and a nice coat of high heat grill paint would make it look much better.

Later that same day I took a bag of miscellaneous leftover items back to Home Depot and they gave me nearly $10 in store credit.  I used half of that to purchase a can of grill paint.  A couple days later I got to work.

First things first I took it apart so I could clean it up and get an idea of what we were dealing with.  I removed the wood slats from the shelf brackets along with the handle.

I got out a couple grocery bags and removed the partial bag of briquettes that came with it as the charcoal bag was in pretty rough shape.

I removed the grill and the worn out charcoal tray, then used a dustpan to remove all the ash in the bottom.  After that I used my 5 in 1 tool to scrape out the inside.  Then swept it out and scooped up the last of the debris.



I did the same with the charcoal tray and there wasn't much left of it by the time all was said and done.  A big hole is in the center where it had burned through from much use, but the rest of the grill still has some life left in it.

Pretty pitiful

I got a bucket of soapy water and washed the whole thing down.  Then I taped off the heat gauge and proceeded to give that grill two good coats of the black paint.  It was already looking a ton better.

Next I got busy sanding the wood shelf slats and the handle.  Most of the paint flaked right off so it was a fairly quick job and I only needed a quarter sheet of 80 grit sandpaper.

I have all kinds of spray paint in my garage and decided the best color for the wood pieces was red!  I gave all the wood two coats of Colonial Red paint and let it dry really well.

I even did the hardware as it was mismatched and some of it was rusty.

Then it was time to put things back together.  Hands down the best part and most satisfying part of the process.

I used some exterior Varathane to coat the shelves and the handle once they were put back on.

I used some oven spray I'd picked up at Dollar Tree to clean the grill which wasn't too dirty, much to my surprise.  I scrubbed it up good, washed it with some soapy water and rinsed it with a hose.

I picked up a few items for the grilling season ahead.  These were all things that were on my list for our little grill so not an unplanned purchase by any means so I'm not even counting this as part of the cost to redo the grill.

But what I am going to include is the solution for the hole in the charcoal tray.  I laid three bricks I had in my backyard in the bottom of the grill and placed two foil grill pans I picked up at Dollar Tree on top of the tray.  The bricks will add support to the tray and the foil pans will hold the charcoal and allow for airflow.

A replacement tray, if I could find one, would cost me more than I feel I should spend.  One that is too small for this grill was listed for $39.95.  Both of the foil pans cost me $1.  A much more equitable solution I feel.

So what do you think?

My daughter was thrilled when she saw it

Is this grill worthy enough for my daughter's graduation party?  We are going to give it a test drive to make sure, but I do think it will be more than adequate for the job!  And with only $1 out of pocket to refurbish it, how can you beat that?!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

We had a very interesting Easter Sunday last week.  Not at all like we had planned, but very good nonetheless.  I scored a FREE charcoal grill off Craigslist.  Our current grill is a little portable gas grill you take camping.  This one will be so nice for my daughter's graduation party.  We picked it up Sunday morning right after breakfast and it even had a partial bag of briquettes tucked inside.  It needed a little bit of work, but nothing I couldn't handle.

After we brought home the grill and got it unloaded the youngest and I went over to the FREE WOOD bin near my work to pick up some supplies for an upcoming project we have planned once school is out.  We will need to acquire as much as we can between now and then for free as we pretty much have a $0 budget for this project.

We filled up the truck and then headed over to Home Depot to return a bag of odds and ends leftover from our many projects we had going last year.  They refunded me on a gift card and I used part of that for a can of BBQ paint.

After we got home it was time to get cooking and we managed to cook up quite a storm.  It became a bit of a meal prep as well as a holiday dinner.  Lots of good leftovers to carry us throughout the week and well beyond. 

Monday evening I cooked up a couple of chicken breasts I had thawed.  This gave us a nice option over the ham and we were able to use it in some salads as well.  I also cooked a cup of rice for the girls and we were able to add that to the mix quite nicely.  Lots of variety and options for all our meals.

Our pretty Easter table

Tuesday my youngest woke me up in the middle of the night.  She had come down with a stomach bug and my poor little girl was sick.  Oh my goodness I've never seen her so sick.  I stayed home with her that day and while she slept I was able to get outside and work on the BBQ grill.  I spent three hours total on the transformation and I think you will be impressed.  I'm a bit surprised myself.  Check back tomorrow to see what I did.

My oldest is now a licensed driver!  She took her final drivers test on Tuesday and got her license at the DMV on Wednesday.  Hurray!  We finally got there!

By Thursday my youngest was back to school and determined although I felt she probably should've stayed home another day.  But she was concerned about falling behind in her classes and off she went.  We also had the parent's meeting at the high school for dance team and she didn't want to miss that either.  My girl is a trooper, I have to say.  She made it through and by Friday was feeling more like her old self.

With one girl out of commission and the other one either at school or work all of the chores were mine last week.  I managed it just fine and even got the yard mowed, trimmed and raked.  I started spring cleaning the front area of our house and along the driveway.  With all of the rain we've had our yard has been in desperate need of some cleanup and a good mowing.  With only 3 more weekends available until the graduation party (can you even believe that?!) I've got a fair bit of work to do.

Our poor deck is in desperate need of a refresh
So is our little fire pot

Saturday I managed to get a lot of things knocked off my list.  My neighbor let me use his city issued compost bin and I filled it up with leaves and debris from our trees that had accumulated over the winter.  I burned a big pile of scrap wood and tree branches in our firepot along with a bag of shreddables we had collected in the last month.  I mowed the lawn again and pulled up another nice pile of weeds.  I neatened up the backyard and our deck, did a load of laundry, washed dishes and unclogged our bathroom drains.  I felt much better after all that, tired, but better.

I popped into Dollar Tree and picked up a few items on my list which included some BBQ supplies and a can of oven cleaner to clean the portable grill and the "new" one.  I also grabbed a couple more party items and found a beautiful graduation card for my daughter that pretty much says everything I needed it to say.

A few supplies for the upcoming grilling season

I started stockpiling ice cubes for the party.  I want to be able to put ice in our cooler to keep the drinks chilled so I've been filling gallon Ziploc bags and putting them into our chest freezer out in the garage.  I don't like to pay $2 for a bag of frozen water so I am making my own.

I did not do any grocery shopping last week.

I rinsed out an empty bottle of laundry detergent and added the soapy liquid to the wash.  Used up every last bit in that bottle before I tossed it into the recycle bin.  I did the same thing with a fabric softener bottle as well.

Happy girls!

We finished up a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner that was sitting upside down in the shower for a couple of weeks.  We managed to get out every last bit before we tossed them into the recycle bin.  I replaced them with a partial bottle of shampoo and conditioner I had found underneath the sink.  I don't know how or why they ended up under there but we are using them up now.

Happy hens = lots of eggs

I washed out several Ziploc bags in various sizes to reuse.

I cleaned out some extra produce in our refrigerator and a bag of frozen corn muffins the girls were not going to eat and gave it all to the chickens.  They had a very happy Easter!

Easter flowers

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

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - vacuumed floors, washed mirrors, scrubbed the sink.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed & spot mopped floor, dusted the light fixture.

Kitchen -  vacuumed & spot mopped floor, cleaned microwave.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  Scrubbed the sink, toilet & tub, vacuumed floor, washed the mirror.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - three loads of laundry, dusted & vacuumed living room, hallway & entry, cleaned the hearth, mantle and wiped down the stove, cleaned the TV.  Swept front porch.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Christmas Budget 2019

As I shared with you on Monday my darling baby girl made the high school dance team.  With that honor comes the fact that dance is expensive.  But she has a passion for it so although the price tag has my stomach doing flip flops, I have a hard time not being really excited for her.  This is definitely not the year for me to take on this type of expense.  It costs each girl between $1000 and $1200 per season, but some of that is covered by fund raising.  Whatever isn't covered becomes our responsibility.

So this year with one in dance and the other off to college we collectively have decided not to spend any money on Christmas.  And we are completely okay with it.  We would much rather have the experiences than gifts under the tree.  Whatever we can make or acquire for free is what will be given.  Other than that, no gifts will be purchased.

I am sure we will have a very nice Christmas nonetheless.  A nice meal, a drive through town to look at Christmas lights, our favorite music playing in the background as we put up our tree and decorate the house.  All the things we enjoy the most will still be a part of our holiday.

For us Christmas has always been more about the season and the traditions than the gifts.  I have no doubt we will have a wonderful holiday season.

Thursday, April 25, 2019


I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a new BBQ for quite some time.  I've never had a shiny new one, except for the cute little portable one we take camping and have been using as our grill as of late.  I've priced them and almost pulled the trigger last fall when they were on clearance, but it didn't quite feel right so I decided to wait.

My daughter's graduation party is going to be a barbecue and after looking at the guest list I realized it would probably take a month of Sundays to cook all of those hamburger patties and sausages on our tiny little grill.  I decided to start looking again, but with all the other expenses coming up in the next few months I really felt it was unaffordable at this time.

Pretty good shape and good quality construction

A nicer used grill would be a better option so I hopped onto Craigslist last Saturday night and found several lower priced options.  The last gas grill I had received from a friend lasted me several years and over that time I completely rebuilt it with a new burner, new tank, gas line and regulator, new igniter, new handles and several coats of black BBQ paint.  When we got ready to "move" I sold it for $35.  Someone ended up with a pretty nice grill.

To get a gas grill now would mean if anything was wrong with it I'd need to buy parts and I also needed to get a propane tank for it too.  So I decided to check out the charcoal grills, which I kind of prefer anyway, and those were even lower in price with more options too.  I found several priced between $5 and $30, but the best price I found was FREE!

It needs a good scrubbing, but I'll be able
to prepare a lot of burgers and dogs on this thing

I contacted the owner on Easter morning and he still had it so the girls and I hopped into the truck (it was Easter after all, ha, ha) and headed over to where it was.  It was in far better shape than I could've hoped and it even had a partial bag of briquettes stuffed inside.  So we loaded it up and took it home.

You all know I can never leave anything as is.  Yes indeed, this grill will be receiving a makeover and I am really excited about this project too.  And I am planning to do it on a $0 budget.  Do you think I can do it for $0?  I sure hope so!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Our Easter Dinner Turned Into A Meal Prep!

I shared our Easter dinner plans with you last week.  Since then the girls had their own ideas and before I knew it our menu had changed up a bit and we were able to make our hard work evolve into a meal prep session as well.  It couldn't have worked any better.

While the ham baked in the oven the girls peeled a dozen hard boiled eggs so my oldest daughter could make deviled eggs.  They youngest sliced up mushrooms and diced up part of a leftover onion and sliced four leftover green onions.

I chopped up a bag of frozen cauliflower florets and used the green onions, some bacon bits, sour cream and sharp cheddar to make loaded cauliflower.  I also cleaned up a bunch of asparagus, drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with herbs and spices to roast in the oven.

The sliced mushrooms and onions were put in a pan with olive oil and sauteed.  I added frozen green beans, chopped garlic and soy sauce to those and once this was cooked drizzled some toasted sesame oil over the top.

My youngest daughter fixed up a quick relish plate with olives and baby dills.  I heated up a small can of pork & beans in a small dish in the microwave for my oldest daughter.  She loves those.

It was pretty much all Keto, except for my daughter's pork & beans, and very delicious.  We have plenty of leftovers to carry us through the entire week and beyond with that big ham.  Loads of yummy side dishes and we didn't miss the mac & cheese or dinner rolls that we usually have on Easter at all.

How was your Easter meal?  Are you still eating up leftovers too?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Some Thrifty Secondhand Buys

My youngest daughter was in need of some sports bras as well as more workout wear for her upcoming dance team practices.  At Wal-Mart I looked at what they had and found a cute pair of shorts for $6 and a super cute top on clearance for $7.  I gave it to her as a gift for making the team.  I am so very proud of her!

The sports bras were priced at $12.88 and she needed at least two.  I really didn't want to spend $26 on them so we did what we usually do.  We hit the thrift store and we found several nice ones priced at $2.99.  Three of them were the colored tag of the day so we got them for 50% OFF!  Whoo hoo!  She found a top she liked but no shorts.  We will keep looking.

My oldest found a really cute workout skort for $4.99 she liked and a pair of shorts for $1.99 to wear under her summer dresses.

I have been in need of a swimsuit for awhile.  My old one is worn out and a bit too big for me now (Oh darn) but the ones I looked at that I'd be willing to wear were well over $100.  No way!  That is not in the budget right now.  But I lucked out and found a cute two piece and an extra top too.  The top and bottoms were priced at $2.99 and the extra top was half priced at $1.50.  Now that is a price I can live with.  All three pieces are in like new condition too.

This skein of yarn was only 69¢

The grand total for everything came in at the same price the two sports bras would've been had I bought them at Wal-Mart.  I'm really glad now that I didn't get those and decided to check out the thrift store instead.

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