Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beach Trip

Dh and I did manage to sneak away around the middle of August for one last beach trip. While it was only for a day, it was great to get away. I love going to the beach in August after school has started back. There are some families usually from out of state. For the most part the beach looks like this:

I am happy to sit on the beach and read or swim, but dh loves to fish. He catches some small fish, stingrays, and a few shark like this one:

The sight of a shark no matter how small always draws a crowd and empties the ocean near us. The children get a kick out of petting a shark before dh releases back into the ocan.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baby Shower

About a month ago I hosted a baby shower for my cousin and his wife. They are expecting a girl around Thanksgiving. I wanted something a bit different and went with a more sophisticated but still fun theme.

My inspiration was a set of mini candy bar wrappers from Martha Stewart on clearance at Walmart. I chose the rest of the decorations based on these.

The main colors were pink and brown with yellow thrown in. I did order the napkins, plates, and a few decorations on line.

The table were covered with pink tablecloths and brown runners. The table decorations were a last minute idea. I used some pink gift bags that were free from CVS last year. I added yellow ducks that I cut from scrapbook paper using a cookie cutter to get the shape right.

They gave the tables a pop of color for no extra cost. After the shower, I removed the ducks and folded the tissue paper which went back in the gift bags.

The silver punch bowl was accented with my stash of ivy. I found the little pink flowers in my shower decoration box. The pineapple punch was yummy and the perfect color to blend in with the theme.

I would not call it a cheap baby shower. I would say it was tasteful on a budget. I saved money in some areas so that I could afford to spend more in others. Being thrifty is all about balance.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm Still Alive

Despite what this picture looks like, I have not been goofing off the past few months. I have been very busy planning my church's 100th anniversary. When I agreed to do it, I could not have imagined the time that would go into it and all of the little details that would need attention.

The BIG DAY was this past Sunday. It went well, but I am happy that it is all over. I will post more about it later, but I wanted to stop in and do a quick update.

My goal is to start posting regularly again. I have been doing a few other things since July including a baby shower and a beach trip. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Saving Vegetable Seeds

If you are a gardener who enjoys starting your plants from seed each year, there is no need to buy your seeds each year. You can save your own seeds for next season's garden and get a frugal head start. You may wonder why you should save your own seeds when they are relatively inexpensive. One of my main reasons is that I like particular varieties of fruits/vegetables. Often the seeds are hard to find or more expensive than the more common varieties.

The easiest seeds to save are pepper, eggplant, or melon seeds. You simply need to remove those from the fruit or vegetable and place in a shallow bowl or spread out to dry. This year we successfully grew tomatoes, peppers, and watermelons from seed we saved last year. Tomato seeds are almost as easy to save. In four easy steps you can have free tomato seeds.

First remove the seeds with all of the pulp/membranes attached from your tomato and place in a small bowl with a little water. Let this soak overnight. This allows you to easily separate the pulp/membrane from the seeds.

The next day dump the water/pulp/seed mixture into a fine strainer.

Run fresh water over the seeds to get rid of the rest of the pulp. You should end up with this.

Now dump the seeds onto a folder paper towel or cloth. Separate the seeds so they are not sticking together and allow them to dry several days. Once they are dry you can put them in a container or plastic baggie to keep them safe until next planting season.

Be sure to label your seeds along the way. They all start to look alike. You may rather have 10 slicing tomato plants instead of 10 grape tomato plants. I had close to a 100% germination rate with the seeds that I saved from last year's tomato plants.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday!

For my family's Fourth of July party, the plan was to celebrate the upcoming birthday of my 17 year old cousin. He got the opportunity to go on a free trip with some friends that weekend which always beats a family party. The ice cream had been purchased so the party must go on. Instead I changed the cake I was planning to make to a more girly cake for another family member who was having a birthday. I iced the cake and then added her name in white chocolate letters. This was a fun cake to make and even more fun to eat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free Table

I am always on the lookout for low cost projects. Our back deck has good seating but needed a table. The area is definitely in the outdoors so I needed something to last. Dh could build one, but we did not have enough scrap lumber on hand. A few months ago some utility workers were putting down new cable near our house. When they emptied the cable spool, they left it sitting by the road. Dh asked if he could take it, and they said, "yes". He loaded it up and brought it home to our deck.

It was the perfect size and was free. It did need some attention to help it fit in with the chairs. I am awaiting another Adirondack chair and two stools to be built by my dh. We had plenty of wood stain on hand. I sanded the spool with a palm sander and added two coats of blue stain. I topped that off with a coat of wood sealer. Even though it was free I want it to last. Here is the finished product.

You can see that it stands out from the deck now and also blends well with the chair in the background. I love how it turned out. We had everything on hand to finish the project so the cost was $0! Even my tomboy Paris approves.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I do adore both of my cats. Since I have no human children, these furry creatures get treated like my children. I could fill several scrapbooks with the pictures I take of them. They are just so cute sometimes.

Here is Paris sleeping where she is not supposed to sleep. I guess stopping to take a picture of her before I got on to her was probably not good "mommy" behavior. She has such good taste and is obviously a Duke Blue Devils fan. I could not bear to punish her.

Lucy's current sleeping spot of choice is the top of the freezer. She is so furry, but brushing her is practically suicidal. Instead she keeps her fur and looks for a cool place to nap.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day Trip

I mentioned in an earlier post that June ended up being hectic and a bit stressful. Truth be told I was really stressed at one point so dh decided we needed to get away for a day. We headed off to St. Simons Island for the day.
We arrived early and the beach was practically empty. That might have been because it was also trying to rain when we arrived.

I sat on the beach and read while dh fished. He did not have much luck this time. He fishes for whiting and sharks! Here is he far away from me at this point since the tide was out.

We stayed until the tide came in and practically washed me out to sea. Then we headed home making a stop by a few stores to do a little shopping. *I figured the challenge was already shot so why not.* It was fun to relax and listen to the ocean. That made all my cares go away at least for the day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Henny Penny

A few months ago my parents had a problem with eggs being eaten by a chicken or chickens in one of the pens. We tried all of the tricks we could find: feeding them oyster shells, putting powdered milk in the water, putting golf balls in the nests. The only thing that worked was checking the nest a dozen times a day to gather the eggs before they were eaten. That got tiring quickly.

My parents next resorted to removing all of the chickens from the pen and adding them back one by one until the cannibal gave herself away. Here she is:

They put a tag on her foot and turned out into the world. I named her Henny Penny. She is nothing put a pet. She follows everyone around the yard, hangs out under the carport with the dogs, and sneaks into the feed room for a snack. Oh, she lays her eggs outside now and has not eaten a single one. I guess she needed something that she could only get from wandering around the yard.

I was trying to get a picture of her when this camera hog came over for a close up. Hmmm, come to think of it most of my parents' animals are nothing but pets. What a life!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Here is a cake I did recently for a birthday at church. I did not have the a/c on initially when I was working on the cake, and the temperature in the kitchen seemed to rise by the second. The yellow part of the sun was supposed to be done with the star tip with built up areas for the corners of the mouth and the nose. The icing kept melting and running though. Dh had to help me put it in the freezer to keep it together. In the end I think it turned out okay. I am planning to give it another try this weekend for a family member's birthday. This time I will do it early in the morning before the real sun heats things up too much.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Walk in the Garden

First I want to share a picture of the pumpkin plants. These are growing in our compost pile, which is the only place I ever have luck with pumpkins. We toss a rotting one or two in each year so we have more for the following year. I am not a fan of eating them, but it is nice to have free pumpkins for decorating each fall. I should add that this is only half of the runners. They also extend into the yard further on the right side. The chickens have fun going in the pumpkin forest and eating bugs.

Here is a picture of the main garden. This is what 100+ degree temperatures do to cucumbers, squash, and zucchini. We did get plenty of produce off the plants before the heat got to them.

We do still have watermelon plants growing. Here is the biggest melon which we are planning to pick and cut soon. We have no money in these melons only time. They were grown from seeds dh saved from a melon last year.

Finally an earlier photo of some garden goodies. I used to use plastic grocery bags to gather the vegetables. Since we are only using cloth shopping bags now, I needed something to use in the garden. I had intentions of buying a basket, but I found this one in my craft room. It is the perfect size for gathering a few tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Of course, I had to tote those giant zucchinis.

Friday, June 26, 2009


My June challenge was a bust. After dh got sick things just seem to go downhill from there. We had a weed eater and two lawn mowers tear up. One of them broke down three times. That was money spent each time. We finally gave up, took a vacation day, and ended up shopping for some much needed clothing items. The first half of the month was good, and the second half not so much. Oh, well, that is the way life goes sometimes.

I do have some actual posts planned beginning next week. *Gasp!* I will get back to my normal-ish day to day activities around here. Come back Monday for a fresh start!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Avoiding a Budget Buster

My shopping plans were quickly tossed aside as I took my sick husband to the doctor this morning. He is sick and whiny. The whining is due to the sickness so I will overlook it. I narrowed my shopping down to two stores: CVS and Harvey's. I did not count the prescription costs in the spending total as those will come out of the medical budget. I had $20 to spend today. How did I do?

CVS: $6.42

Dawn dish detergent - 2
chocolate chip cookies
Pecan Sandies
Gillette razor
60 pictures developed

The food items were to console the sick dh. I did have some extra bucks expiring tomorrow that I needed to use. I was not able to roll them all over, but I did get some usable items out of it.

Harvey's: $16.14

various types of canned chicken soup - 6
honey bun
Tabasco sauce
brown rice
Oscar Myer deli creations sandwich (free coupon)
frozen meals for me - 3
sour cream
shredded cheese - 1 lb
pasta salad mixes - 2

Obviously I was over my $20 by about $3. I think that was okay and am not stressing about it. Sometimes challenges do not work out just right. I could have been $30 over budget. Any planned meals went out the window. I will still have those for when he is well.

The challenge continues!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Practically Free Sweet Pickle Relish

Well, here I am just over a week into my challenge. I am proud to say that I have done no spending outside of what always needs to be done (bills mainly). I even managed to make a batch of my yummy sweet pickle relish with no out of pocket costs.

I had jars and jar flats on hand already. We had plenty of cucumbers and onions from the garden. My mom gave me some limp. but still usable for relish, celery. I bartered a bottle of Pledge from my stockpile for two bell peppers. I had sugar, vinegar, celery seed, and mustard seed in my pantry.

I ended up with four and half pints of sweet relish. I found the recipe among my grandmother's things after she passed. It is a delicious and super easy relish. The combination of all the vegetables make it much better than store bought.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A June Challenge

As I climbed over stuff piled in the floor of my pantry to put away my purchases last week, I decided I needed to quit shopping -- at least for a little while. I have enough toothpaste, shampoo, soap, snacks, etc to last until 2010 and beyond. Add to that the fact I am tired of driving the 20+ miles into town once a week to buy things I already have. When I visited my mother, she was having the same space problems I was. I made a challenge to her to not go to the grocery store this week.

I decided to expand the challenge for myself. I am allowing $10 per week for grocery shopping. I am not buying any books. Honest I won't even though the last time I only made it 10 days before caving in. I will make it 30 days this time around. I am not going to purchase any household items that are not necessary this month. I will be purchasing a gift card for my SIL's birthday with money already set aside for that. My goal will be to save as much of dh's paychecks for the month of June as possible.

I knew this would be hard, but I am already trying to resist temptation on day 1. I am trying not to buy a taco shell maker that forms the tortillas into taco shell shapes as they are fried. I tell myself it is only $10, but I could save that $10. Instead I am going to try using tin foil to make a rack to bake the homemade tortillas on. Baking is healthier than frying, and the tin foil can be reused.

I will still be paying all of the normal bills and such. I only want to cut out those extra items I buy throughout the month. A few dollars here and there do no seem like much, but I think they will seriously add up by the end of the month. My goal is to report daily on my progresses and failures. Join me as I try to tighten my budget and get closer to our goal of a new house.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thrift Store Find

I like shoes but have an odd size foot so finding shoes that fit and do not make me look like a third grader is a challenge. I wear a 3 1/2 in women's and a 1 to 2 in children's. I have been able to special order shoes in the past in size 3 1/2. The last time I bought dress shoes I could only find a size 4 and I paid $80 for them. Now I do love those shoes and will most likely get my money's worth out of them. Still $80 is a chunk of change when we are saving for a new house.

A couple of weeks ago my local Salvation Army had a $1 sale on all clothing and shoes. I found some tops, a dress, some jeans, and the shoes pictured below.
They are all in excellent shape, only cost $1 a pair, and are a size 3 1/2!! That was truly a miracle and definitely a blessing. I plan to take good care of each pair and will enjoy them for years to come. I admit I often get discouraged about my inability to find clothing that fits. I like to think this was God's way of saying He is here to help with all of my problems. Some people would say God does not have time to worry about my finding thrifty shoes. I know He cares about all of my concerns.

I pray in this coming month that each of you receive a special, unexpected miracle from God!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Craft Project: Straw Hat Makeover

I was digging through my tear files a little while back and found a picture I had torn out of a Woman's Day magazine in 2000. It was an order form for a pattern book of straw hat projects. I kept the pictures thinking one day I would make one. Well it took me nine years, but I finally got around to it. Here is the new welcome decoration hanging at my front door.

It is made from an old straw hat, cardboard, and felt. From the original picture it appears that the tail and feet were made from felt. I used the cardboard that comes with the postage stamps I order online. I used newspaper to make my patterns for the feet and tail. I just cut them free handed until I had something that looked right. My hat is under a porch so I should have no problem with the cardboard pieces. I cannot promise how they would hold up to much moisture.

I painted the hat, four feet, and tail orange. It took two coats to cover well. Next I mixed wheat and copper colored paints to make the stripes on the body and tail. I used green felt for the "Welcome" and pink felt for the ears and nose. It is hard to see the whiskers, but they are made from thin gauge silver wire. I used a marker to draw the toes and make the mouth. I hot glued everything (plus my index finger).

My only cost for this project was $2 for the orange paint. Everything else was scraps left from other projects. The hat was formerly a bonnet type "wreath" with ribbons and flowers. I was really pleased with how my thrifty project turned out - aside from the finger incident.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekly Garden Update

It rained too much last week to get good pictures of the garden. It has really grown since my last update. Here are a few highlights:

This is one of the many watermelons we have growing. Dh got the seeds from a watermelon last year so they were free. If these do well, I will save some seeds for next year's garden. You cannot get more frugal than that.

The Celebrity tomato plants in buckets are doing well like this one. The ones in the ground not so much. I can see we will have to add in some raised beds next season.

Here are some Roma tomatoes. This is a small plant, but it is loaded.

The corn stalks have started to put on tiny ears of popcorn.

The squash has been producing like crazy. We are eating them at almost every meal. Our favorite way is sliced and fried. Taking something healthy and deep frying it is a Southern tradition.

We used T posts and fencing for the cucumbers to run up on. This lessens the chance that we will miss them so that they turn into monsters. A few monsters are okay since they go into my homemade sweet relish.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Update

I took these pictures on Monday but at dragging in getting them posted. Here is another overview of the main garden. We have been eating yellow squash this week. I sliced some and fried them. Others went into a pork chop bake along with asparagus (from the store) and potatoes from the family garden.

Here are close ups of the popcorn and the yellow squash.

We have tiny cucumbers and tomatoes. The tomato picture was a huge blur.

I moved the plants in buckets into a better planned area so they could be easier to mow around and easier to water. The eggplant especially has really grown this week.

Finally the lettuces and spinach. I have some more seeds started but am wondering where to put them. It has grown even more since I took these pictures. It is so very nice to have fresh lettuce in the backyard. I am looking forward to the other vegetables starting to produce so we can have even healthier salads.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May Big Shop

I am trying to cut down on shopping trips. It is not necessarily that I am spending too much. I just do not like to go into town and shopping tires me out. How do people shop for hours on end several times a week? I do not have the patience for it.

Yesterday I pulled my coupons that were expiring this month and made up a big list. I do not have pictures as DH was hungry so we put everything away quickly so we could eat.

First stop was Walmart where I purchased cat treats, several types of crackers/chips/granola bars for snacks and dh's lunches, pantyhose, coffee cream, cheese, fruit (fresh & canned), free mascara (All You coupon), flour, parchment paper, and Magic Erasers. I spent $51.47 and saved $25.58.

Next was Walgreens. I got deodorant, toilet paper, hair gel and tissues. I saved $12.25 and had no OOP cost since I used a gift card for the $1.64 total.

Harvey's was next. I stopped at two of them to double up on the sales. I got four each of sugar, brown rice, toilet paper, orange juice plus Tabasco sauce and asparagus for $19.99 with a savings of $10.20 in coupons.

Last stop was CVS. I got three boxes of cereal, cough drops, deodorant, toothpaste, and 10 bottles of PowerAde for $4.73 with a savings of $10.94.

I stayed within my budget and this should be the bulk of my shopping for the month. Dh has enough goodies for his lunch for the month. I also have enough coffee creamer. We are down to one loaf of bread in the freezer so the flour will be for homemade bread. I may purchase some fresh vegetables if our plants are not producing by the end of the month. Otherwise I hope we are eating from the freezer as it is still much too full.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gardening is Hard Work

I have been absent from the blogging world for several weeks. The reason is I have been busy outside in both the yard and the garden. Once the April showers subsided long enough for the ground to dry out I got busy. Need some proof? Here it is!
First up an overview of the back deck.

These are two free geraniums from my mother and a jasmine plant from last year.

DH and I fell in love with a sweet potato vine we saw on the Peaches to Beaches yard sale route. The $30-$40 price tag quickly snapped the fantasy of bringing one home with us. We found small pots of it at Lowe's last week. We got two each of the green and purple and added the coleus in the center.

Next are the front porch flowers and plants. My pride and joy is this calla lily. Calla lilies are my favorite flower so I am thrilled to be growing my own.

Here is a sprouting ostrich plume fern that I got from the Spring Hill Nursery deal several weeks ago. It came with five other ferns for the $6 shipping cost.

This ivy came from my mother's house. It puts on lovely purple flowers and will take over the world if allowed. I should know as it took dh and me months to clear it out of our own yard. I thought it was safe to grow in contained in these window boxes.

This dusty miller was left from last year. Thanks to the protection of the porch it survived the winter. After a trimming last week it looks lovely and full.

Now let's walk over to the side yard. This petunia plant just came up and was a surprise to me. It looks lovely at the base of the mailbox.

This flower bed looks a little drab and dull now but it will fill out as the season progresses.

Now for the best part of the garden -- the part we can eat -- the vegetables! Here are the cats checking out the herb garden and more specifically the catnip.

The lettuce and spinach look great. I see a fresh homegrown salad or two in our future this week. That will go great with all the Kraft salad dressing I stocked up on last month.

Here are the eggplant, tomato and pepper plants in five gallon buckets.

Here is the main garden. It is two weeks old today. We are growing popcorn, watermelons, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, and bunches of tomatoes. It is not much to behold yet but give it a few more weeks.

Thanks for hanging in to the end of my long gardening post. I told you I had been busy. Now I am looking forward to sitting back and watching everything grow. If only it were that easy. I have already started on the weeding. Dreams of fresh, free produce keep me motivated!