Monday, May 31, 2010

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY



Good morning boys and girls! How are you doing this clear Red, White, & Blue skied day? Its crazy over here… the kids are out today, then go back to school for 3 days? Do what? Stupid if you ask me… but who am I to tell the stuff shirts that they don’t make any sense? LOL! So you get me here with you today bringing tons of fun and excitement this morning. I want to take a moment out to remember a couple of persons who have past away this past weekend… first Mr. Gary Coleman passed away of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 42 on Friday. And then Mr. Dennis Hopper passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 74 on Saturday. May they both R.I.P.

Now kids, its time for your history lesson. What IS Memorial Day really? Well here is an article I found that sums it up very nicely.

Remembering Memorial Day
by Mike Krumboltz

For many, Memorial Day brings to mind images of parades and picnics, of barbecues and baseball games. What's sometimes forgotten are the reasons for the holiday: The sacrifices made by American soldiers in times of conflict.

As the United States' death toll passes 1,000 in Afghanistan, Memorial Day takes on an especially poignant meaning this year. Here's a brief look at how the holiday got its start, and how people are searching for ways to honor the brave men and women who have lost their lives.

The first holiday

Originally, the holiday was known as "Decoration Day." It was started by a Civil War general named Gen. John Logan, who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. General Logan sought a way to help the country come back together after the horrors and divide of the Civil War.

The holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868, and Gen. Logan chose that date for two very important reasons: First, the day did not mark the anniversary of a Civil War battle, and second "flowers would likely be in bloom all over the United States." Indeed, many took flowers to Arlington National Cemetery, an activity that still occurs every year.

More on Gen. John Logan

General John A. Logan has a tremendous legacy that goes well beyond his efforts to honor fallen soldiers. According to a museum dedicated to his memory, Gen. Logan led an inspired life and enjoyed a tremendous career. At different points, he was a United States congressman, a senator, and a candidate for the vice presidency. He and his running mate, James G. Blane, lost their bid, but "Logan’s popularity with veterans contributed to the narrowness of the defeat."

An official holiday

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but Memorial Day, despite having been around for over 100 years in one form or another, didn't become an official federal holiday until 1971, when Congress passed the National Holiday Act. This created a three-day weekend at the end of May. Prior to this, different states observed the holiday on different days.

The effect on Web search

Web lookups on "memorial day" and "celebrate memorial day" are both up over 500% during the past seven days. Additionally, queries on "memorial day quotes" and "memorial day history" are soaring, as are searches for "memorial day parades" and "memorial day flowers."

Also worth noting — the "national moment of remembrance." This moment takes place at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day and lasts one minute. According to Remember.gov, "the Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans."


Ok folks, now let’s review what the Frugal Mom did yesterday! LOL… Well first I started the morning, after my blog, with a HUGE stuffed omelet for breakfast. DELISH! After that I cleaned out the fridge and made my weekly shopping list of what I need, etc. I am ready for some serious food shopping! LOL! After the list and cleaning, I chopped up a few remaining veggies that were in the fridge… a few veggies I bought and a few I grew LOL. Then I had to take a break, so I made out (well I started to LOL) a summer stay-cation game plan… things I think my family will enjoy doing and when I could do them! I cooked a lot yesterday too… well let’s just get to the photo journey, shall we?



The first thing I had to do was post “clean out” prepatory work LOL! Once I cleaned out the fridge, I found lots of veggies and fruit that had been pushed to the backs of shelves… to be forgotten. I lost a little, but the majority I had I was able to save. What you see here is all the stuff out of the fridge I had to “salvage”. One of those use it or lose it days you know I am so fond of LOL!



This is everything after it had been prepped and diced, sliced, etc. Red onion, stir-fry mix, Brussels Sprouts, tomatoes, strawberries, celery, carrots, bell peppers, jalapenos, and potatoes all saved and diced for use in the next 24 hours! I forgot to put the bag of garlic bread crumbs I made in the picture too. I’ll find something interesting to do with them LOL.



Here is DH thinking he is funny snapping a picture of me eating one of the strawberries LOL! I was trying to grab the camera away as he snapped… hence the funny angle! Oh come’on you gonna try to tell me that ONE LOUSY STRAWBERRY is gonna hurt the recipes if I eat it?? I mean SERIOUSLY? I don’t even know what to do with them yet! I hardly think it matters! LMAO he said it was proof that there is no berry thief… just me. LOL! I don’t know what he is talking about LMAO! “Get away from me with that camera! In fact give me MY camera and get out of my kitchen” I kept playfully yelling, but to no avail… he kept teasing me and bothering me LOL! I swear he is nothing more than another one of the kids sometimes!



So I thinly sliced (with my super-cool-daddy-loves-me-veggie-peeler LMAO) some carrots and some potatoes. Homemade chips! Who needs Frito Lay when you can make your own and you know they are (at least a little bit more) healthier than the store bought bags of grease LOL. And I bet if I had baked them instead of fried them, they would be even healthier! LOL! The carrots didn’t get as crispy as I wanted them but let me tell ya! OMG! SWEET! I mean the frying brought out all the natural sugars and they were almost like CANDY! I even got my DS14 to eat them, which is a miracle in itself (he’s not fond of carrots)! They were gone before the potato chips! What does THAT tell ya LOL! Veggies (potatoes and carrots), veggie oil, and a smidgen of salt… that’s it! Needless to say the bowl is empty… nothing left but the excess salt LMAO! Guess that was a successful idea!



Then there was these little muffins of health which became muffins from heaven!! I made up some batter using some flour, milk, eggs, flax seed, etc. and thought about the strawberries. What the hay… throw them in the batter! About 20 minutes later… OMG! YUMMYYYYYY! Anything with strawberries is absolutely delish, and these were testament! So much, that DD tried, more than once, to run off with the whole pan! Oh no you don’t little missy! LOL! I might try these warmed up in the morning (if I can keep the gang out of them) with a little butter and maybe even a drizzle of syrup on them. Oh my…I am drooling! LITERALLY! LOL!



Ahh… dinner time! Beef fried rice with beef stir-fry using the veggies prepped in the morning… broccoli, carrots, peas, and julienned bell pepper. I also threw in some roasted sunflower seed kernals to the dish and it was some nutty goodness I say! Boy were we all stuffed! I collapsed on the couch for a spell… suffering from Asian Beef Coma LOL! I was pretty much useless the rest of the night LOL!



Remember the other day we talked about being frugal and saving fast food condiments? Well I forgot to show you this picture. Mom and I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and we found these little bottles she wanted to use for condiments LOL but I insisted they were too small. She got them anyway (hey can you really over rule your mom? NOPE! LOL) and when we came home it was a full out condiment party!



Here are her lovely little baby condiment bottles LOL! We were careful not to mix brands/restaurants cause mom was afraid they would taste funny LOL. So you have Jack-in-the-Box taco hot sauce, buttermilk house, sweet & sour, etc. All neatly labeled and filled, and tucked away in the fridge for easy dispensing LOL! Aren’t they so cute!?

Now, here is where we start talking about making things by hand. Crafting is a fun and relaxing hobby. Its also very rewarding. Yesterday I featured some great patriotic crafts inspired by Memorial day/patriotic holidays. And I’m gonna give you some more today! So enjoy…

Craft Idea of the Day: Patriotic Crafts (part 2)



Patriotic Pinwheels

Nothing says summer like the sight of a colorful pinwheel going 'round and 'round on a sunny summer's day. Now, with our easy how-to instructions, you can make your own customized pinwheel.

1. Cut out a 6" paper square.

2. Draw an X from corner to corner; cut along the lines, stopping 1" from the center.

3. Gather every other corner to the center, stick a pushpin through them and into a straw in the back. Attach a pencil eraser to hold in place. Glue entire assembly for further securing.

Note: You can also use brads to secure the centers in place. Nowadays brads come in all kinds of designs, so you can “dress it up” even more!



Sequin Flag Magnet

Materials

Approximately 25 Blue Sequins
Approximately 50 Red Sequins
Approximately 30 White Sequins
Magnetic Sheets
Tacky Glue
Scissors

Instructions:

Cut a piece of magnetic sheet to 1-7/8" x 3". Begin at the top left of the flag and run a bead of glue along the top edge. Place 6 blue sequins overlapped on the left side. Fill the rest of the row with red. Put another row next to it using white instead of red. Continue using the photo above as a guide. Let dry.



Patriotic Bunting

Decorate your house with one or many of our Patriotic Buntings. Have the whole family involved as the kids can have fun helping too!

A few lengths of fabric and packages of appliqués and you can make buntings to hang on the doorway, the porch rail, the picnic table, under your windows or for the flower box (as we've done).

Show you're proud of the red white and blue and decorate your home in the most popular summer theme in home décor.

MATERIALS:
3 pkgs. Wrights® 1 3/4" White Star Appliqués (#193-9320-001)
2/3 yd. Red Fabric 44-45" wide
2/3 yd. White Fabric 44-45" wide
2/3 yd. Blue Fabric 44-45" wide

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Starting with the red fabric, cut two pieces 12" wide.
2. Cut 20" from one of these.
3. Sew this 20" piece to the 44" piece (right sides together). This will give you a 12" x 64" length.
4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the white and blue fabric.
5. Sew lengths of the fabric together, with blue between red and white (use a 1/2" seam).
6. Hem the sides, top and bottom with a 1/2" hem, rolled twice.
7. Iron the star appliqués onto the blue fabric, spacing evenly.
8. Fold fabric back and forth (the long way) like a fan, with a 1 1/2" fold. Press.
9. Secure by sewing across the top of the white gathers.
10. Spread out and hang by tacking in a few places.
11. Enjoy!



All American Tin
Designed by Treasure It

Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Make this festive tin to hold tiny treasures in a country home, in your purse, at camp, or on a trip.

Materials:

tin
patriotic scrapbook paper
red, white or blue fabric
Kreinik #12 Braid metallic thread 003, 100, 051HL
Diamond Beadlets®
4" x 6" Treasure Tape
1/2" Treasure Tape roll
shallow pan or tray
sand (optional)

Instructions:

1. Cut scrapbook paper (any scrap paper with a cool image is fine) to fit top of tin. Cut 1/8" smaller than lid.
2. Use glue stick or Treasure Tape scraps to secure image to tin.
3. Cut 4" x 6" Treasure Tape sheet to fit lid, then place it over the image.
4. Peel back red liner to expose sticky part, then decorate the image with metallic thread.
5. Place lid in shallow pan or tray, and cover with Diamond Beadlets®.
6. Use 1/2" Tape to wrap around side of tin.
7. Cut fabric pieces (or paper) to use to decorate. This creates a mosaic look.
8. Use metallic threads to add color and design.
9. Dip in Diamond Beadlets (or sand!)

Tips: When applying "stringy embellishments" like ribbon, embroidery threads and fibers to double-sided Treasure Tape, you can easily pull up the design and start again if you make a mistake or want to try a different design. When using red liner Treasure Tape it is best to cut with Teflon® coated scissors -- or use adhesive remover to wipe the residue off your
scissors.



Patriotic Flag Tray

Paint this patriotic tray to use at your next patriotic celebration or to add a touch of country Americana to your kitchen!

Designed by Jean Kievlan for Don Mechanic

Materials:

Don Mechanic Enterprises® Wood Tray with Sleigh Handles
DecoArt® Americana® Acrylic Paint, Wedgwood Blue
DecoArt® Americana® Acrylic Paint, Raw Sienna
DecoArt® Americana® Acrylic Paint, True Red
DecoArt® Americana® Acrylic Paint, Light Buttermilk
DecoArt® Dura-Clear™, Satin Varnish
Loew-Cornell® Comfort Handle™ Paintbrush, Series 3550, ¾-inch Wash
Loew-Cornell® Comfort Handle™ Paintbrush, Series 3300, No. 10 Shader
Loew-Cornell® Comfort Handle™ Paintbrush, Series 3000, No. 3 Round
Loew-Cornell® Brush Tub II™
Loew-Cornell® 6-Well Tray
Wide Masking Tape or Transparent Tape, ¾ - inch

Directions:

Paint interior flat area of tray Light Buttermilk.

Paint interior sides and handle sides True Red.

Paint long exterior sides Wedgwood Blue.

Paint a Wedgwood Blue rectangle on the upper left of the Light Buttermilk area. Let dry.

Apply masking tape or transparent tape to mask off stripes. Space tape evenly across tray. Rub tape to assure good adhesion to tray surface.

Paint exposed area between tape True Red. Let dry, then remove tape.

Paint nine Light Buttermilk stars on the Wedgwood Blue rectangle.

Shade the stripes and stars with Raw Sienna.

Shade rounded edges of Red areas with Raw Sienna.

Highlight edges of Wedgwood Blue rectangle with Light Buttermilk.

That should give you plenty of crafts to do, but in case you are fiending for some more… LOL… visit Allcrafts.net for TONS of great links to more great crafts!

Ok, its time to eat! Oh goodie! Now I wasn’t real kosher on doing just a PIE week… I like to bring you whole meals that I think you will enjoy. I mean you can’t eat… well you could but its not healthy to eat… just PIE for dinner, right? And I can’t really bring you slow cooker ideas since I do that all the time. SOO while I was looking through the grocery ads, I decided what I am going to do. The current sales and my mother’s desire to have chickens in her yard are my inspiration! (LONGG story! LOL) So, this week I am bringing you at least 1 chicken recipe and 1 pie recipe. That way, at least my conscience knows that I gave you an actual MEAL idea and not just sugar coma inducing desserts LOL! Today we are going to focus on chicken breasts… my personal favorite. We’re gonna stuff them! YUMMY! And the pie… well let’s just say I am known for bringing you interesting recipes and this is definitely no exception! Enjoy!



Mexican Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients

2 cups crushed corn flakes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 (1.27 ounce) packet dry fajita seasoning
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped orange bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 medium red onion, diced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup salsa
toothpicks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking dish.

In a shallow bowl, mix the corn flakes, chili powder, and fajita seasoning. In a separate bowl, mix the red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, orange bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion.

Dredge the chicken in the corn flakes mixture to evenly coat. Sprinkle one side of each breast with 2 tablespoons Cheddar cheese, and layer with 1/4 the vegetable mixture. Top with equal amounts salsa.

Carefully roll the breast halves over the filling. Seal seams with toothpicks, then dredge again in the corn flakes mixture.

Arrange the rolled chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Top with remaining cheese, and continue baking 10 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear and cheese is melted.



Chicken and Asparagus Bundles

Ingredients

4 (4 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
4 1/2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth

Directions

Flatten chicken breasts slightly. Wrap each around five asparagus spears; secure with toothpicks. Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the oil, lemon juice and seasonings; pour over bundles. Cover asparagus tips with foil.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with the onions. Bake 12-15 minutes longer or until the chicken juices run clear and asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove bundles to a serving platter and keep warm.

In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and broth until smooth; stir in pan juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove toothpicks from bundles; top with sauce.



Tofu Dream Pudding and Pie Filling

By: Skymollie
"A simple sweet walnut/maple flavored pudding or pie filling that's fast and easy to make when you just want something that's good (remembering moderation in all things, including sugar). You could use any nut and change the flavor. Can be used with a graham crust pie shell; adorn with walnuts and serve with whipped cream. Triple recipe for pie filling."

Ingredients

1 (12 ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Place tofu, brown sugar, walnuts, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a food processor. Process until smooth. Cover and chill to thicken for pie filling, or serve immediately as pudding.

I told ya it was interesting! LOL! OK folks, that’s it for me today. I hope you will tune in tomorrow for more yard buzzard clucking fun and excitement LOL! Have fun and stay safe this blistering Memorial day! Until tomorrow… HUGS!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

STARS & STRIPED STAY-CATIONS

Hi boys and girls. How are you doing today? I’m kinda so-so this morning. I woke up real stiff with a killer headache. I think I may have just slept too hard. Let me tell ya, I CRASHED last night. Was trying to watch some Criminal Minds episodes I missed on TV but I don’t remember much after dinner LOL! But I have already fed all the kitties and watered my plants this morning. Its not as hot out there YET LOL as the last few days have been in the early morning hours, so I might do some more yard work today. Not sure. But my plants are showing some promise… and that made me happy. Oh I just saw the prettiest thing at my kitchen window! I had both a male AND female Cardinal at my window and they were singing so pretty and THEN the male gave the female a sunflower seed to her mouth… AWWW it was so wonderful! I love nature! OK… ok… back on task LOL! I told ya I had some great things in store for this Memorial Day weekend, didn’t I? So fasten your seatbelts and let’s get started because the next few blogs are gonna be PACKED with info!!!!

OK first, a brief note to Tabitha- I am NOT talking about the owl LOL. Let’s just say it’s the ugliest thing I ever made and my mom loved it and still has it to this day! If I had to wish that only 1 thing would have floated away in the Hurricane, THAT WOULD BE IT! But alas, its still here… she had it up in the attic! UGH!!!! Let’s just say that cotton balls and a pinecone make for an ugly owl… and CREEPY TOO! Mom, its time to let the owl RIP! LOL!

Now I have to tell you the strangest thing! On my way home yesterday, I had to stop at Kroger for a couple of small things… milk and sugar. Well I went up to the self-checkout and as I was scanning my items, a lady comes up behind me and says “OMG It’s you!” and I was like Excuse me? She said “The Frugal Mom! Its really you!” and then started telling me how she reads everyday, and such. It was funny… recognized in my own town. It was sorta neat and scary LOL! Kidding… it was fun. SO to my reader from Kroger, who didn’t give me your name BTW, I send a big HELLO and thanks for stopping in!

Now, let’s get down to business. Summer is quickly approaching/already here and many of you moms out there are wondering what to do with the kids this summer. (Our last day is June 3rd YIKES! LOL) Now I’ve had some great posts about ideas to do on a budget like the 33 things to do for $2 or less post (MAY 18th), which also talked about many other frugal forms of entertainment. MAKE SURE to check it out… LOTS of great ideas! So, plan on getting outside and expanding those lungs with some fresh air this summer cause I am gonna give you lots of ideas for frugal fun in the sun!! If you aren’t in the Houston area, you can probably contact your local Visitors Center for information about what all is available in your area… or just Goggle it! LMAO! I requested info from tons of places around here so I can maybe plan some cheap day trips for the family. I plan to have a very full and cheap summer this year! I want it MUCH better than last year (when I got hurt and they found my bone disease UGH) and I am already ahead of the game on that cause I can WALK! LMAO!



So have you heard the term “stay-cation” before? A staycation (also spelled stay-cation, stacation, or staykation) is a term for a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips from their home to area attractions. If you think it would be boring, think again. With a little imagination, a stay-cation can be frugal (obviously) and fun! Instead of spending hundreds (or more) on hotels, your own home is free to stay at LOL. Instead of eating at tons of expensive restaurants, you already have FREE food at your home! Eat there or pack a picnic. There are lots of benefits to staycations! Staycations are far less costly than a vacation involving traveling. There are no lodging costs and travel expenses are minimal. Costs may include transportation for local trips, dining, and local attractions. "The American Automobile Association said the average North American vacation will cost $244 per day for two people for lodging and meals... Add some kids and airfare, and a 10-day vacation could top $10,000".Staycations do not have the stress associated with travel, such as packing, long drives, or waits at airports. Staycations may be of economic benefit to some local businesses, who get customers from the area providing them with business. In 2008, the tourism bureaus of many U.S. cities also began promoting staycations for their residents to help replace the tourism dollars lost from a drop in out-of-town visitors. You see what I mean? Ok, so here are a few ideas for some stay-cation fun!

1. Go camping without leaving home. Sure, camping can be fun- but what if you don’t have the time or the money to go somewhere far? Simply pitch a tent in your own yard, and lie out on the grass and star gaze! With no discrations like TV or computers, you’ll reconnect with ease!

2. Explore next door with your stay-cation. Perhaps your town has the world’s largest saxophone or a food factory you never knew about. It would be fun to see what’s in your neighborhood. Ask your state tourism office to send you tourist brochures or do some online research, then plan each day just like you would a trip away from home- get up early, pack a lunch, and visit as many sites as you can. Find the information you need at NetState.com/states/tables/st_tourism.htm

3. Plan a perfectly easy picnic. Head to the deli for some readymade food, or better still- help everyone make their favorite sandwich. Bring along juice boxes, bottled water, iced tea, as well as refreshing cold fruit or individual cups of applesauce. Then, search out a good spot at a nearby park and spread out your blanket or use the tables provided. Don’t forget Nerf toys, frisbees, bats and baseballs, soccer balls, etc. and even some good old fashion bubbles and enjoy a beautiful day out with your kids, significant other, or even just yourself. If you are going solo, take that book that you have been wanting to get to and lie on the blanket soaking the rays and reading in the quiet of nature! And make sure to check your local paper for outdoor concerts and movies and bring your picnic to the event!

4. Go on a treasure hunt- for real! Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is a real diamond mine, where you can keep any “ice” you find. Thousands of gems are snagged each year, and many more than 1 carat! Other options include: pan for gold in Arizona’s Prescott National Forest or rent a metal detector and walk the Florida beaches, where more coins and bits of treasure wash up each year than anywhere else in the U.S.! Find out where to go in YOUR state at Treasurefish.com

Here are TONS more ideas on a list I have been compiling for a little while now LOL…

1. Camp in your own back yard And hey—the living room counts, too.

2. Feed your (local) appetite Investigate local farmers markets, pick fruit at local orchards and visit local farms.

3. Stock up on books Block off an entire morning at the library or bookstore.

4. Sign up for day camp Find local workshops and classes for the kids through your community's Parks and Recreation progam or the local YMCA/YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches and so on.

5. Take a trip to the museum We bet you haven't been in a while.

6. Make some home improvements Paint a room, install ceiling fans, refinish furniture—and be home to enjoy it when you're done.

7. Visit the zoo Make a day of it!

8. Organize your own Field Day Create your own Field Day at the park, complete with games, bicycling and a picnic lunch.

9. Take a hike Google around for local hiking groups and trails.

10. Amusement parks Make a day trip or overnighter to the nearest amusement park.

11. Take a dip Your swimming pool, a friend's or the city pool—it's a cool deal, any way you dive in.

12. Garden Plant wildflowers, a vegetable garden, a kitchen herb garden ... whatever fits your style.

13. Let go of the slack Hire a maid to clean your house while you lounge.

14. Get crafty Yes, it's time to finally finish that scrapbooking project or start something wild with the kids.

15. Cook up a storm Try new recipes (there's time to go out, if they flop) and stock up the freezer.

16. Organize a block party Hang out with the neighbors.

17. Indulge in a spa day At home or at the spa—either way, a luxurious treat.

18. Throw a party It's the perfect time for a BBQ or cocktail party

19. Attend a home screening Rent all those movies you've been planning to see; don't forget the popcorn.

20. Be a tourist See all the sights where you live; get a guidebook or contact the chamber of commerce for details. Book a mini-getaway Stay at a nice hotel for one night and indulge in the pool, spa, gym, restaurant, room service Scrounge Comb the local flea markets and bargain stores for interesting finds.

21. Take a night in or a night out Every member of the family gets one night in or out with their friends.

22. Hit the matinee Seriously. Like every day.

23. Green clean the carpets When else do you have time to move all the furniture?

24. Book it Put together a reading list and hit it hard.

25. Get artistic Create art for your home: an abstract canvas in accent colors, framed photography or flea-market finds. Paint a room Even if you're not crazy about home projects, painting one room is easy and gives your home a real lift.

26. Play a game Schedule a video game or board game night.

27. Tour historic sites Find a guidebook or listing of nearby historical places and chart your own tour.

28. Cheer the home team Attend local sports events.

29. Take in an outdoor performance Get tickets to outdoor concerts, Shakespeare in the Park and other summer culture.

30. Try mini golf or bowling You really can't beat these for cheap fun.

31. Go stargazing Always free, always amazing.

32. Take a class A savvy choice for grownups and kids alike.

33. Plan a romantic getaway Recruit a friend or relative to babysit and break free from the kids for a night or two.

34. Try new restaurants Investigate that new vegan cafe or organic, whole foods diner you've never had time to try.

35. Turn your home into a spa. You don't need to go to a pricey spa to rejuvenate your body and spirit. Create your own spa at home instead -- you'll feel refreshed and save money.

36. Throw a simple cocktail party. Invite friends over for a low-key get-together of fun finger foods and stylish cocktails on your patio or deck.

37. Go on a family cycling adventure. You don't have to be an avid (or experienced) biker to have a blast. For a safer adventure traverse local bike trails instead of hitting the streets.

38. Go fly a kite. Pack a kite or two with your picnic supplies and head to your favorite park for some family fun.

39. Transform your home into an island retreat. Bring relaxing tropical style home with budget-friendly, summery decorating ideas.

40. Host a girls' night in. Kick back with your favorite girlfriends for an evening of fancy fun and surprisingly simple treats.

41. Create a garden getaway. Fashion your own private paradise with a soothing garden plans.

42. Have a field day. Rediscover freeze tag, red rover, and other games you used to play as a kid. Our variations make them more fun -- and secretly healthy -- for the whole family.

43. Plan a TV night. Whether you're a sucker for sitcoms or made-for-TV movies, a small screen event is the perfect occasion for a no-fuss dinner party with friends.

44. Host a Mexican patio party. Your guests will love your flavorful recipes -- and you'll love how easy it is to throw together.

45. Plan a pizza night. Enjoy a night in with some of the family-friendly recipes I brought you not long ago that are as fun to make as they are to eat.

46. Try a simple weekend project. Check out our editor's favorite get-organized weekend projects you can easily finish without spending a lot of time or money on them, like cute under-bed drawers plus many more creative storage solutions.

So what do you think? Are you ready to get outside yet? I am actually, despite the heat! (And trust me, heat is NOT my friend!) I am ready to have some serious fun! I lost so much time last summer after I got hurt… the whole summer wasn’t fun for anyone, cause they were all tending to me… be it at home, taking me to the hospital constantly, etc. Mom can tell ya… I was a mess! But not this year! I am almost caught up on bills, I have eliminated a debt and almost another one, so that goal of financial freedom is closer and closer LOL! And it feels great!



And speaking of fun summer activities, I’ll warn you all now… look for an EARLY morning post NEXT Saturday morning, as I might be going to take mom to one of HER favorite getaways… THE CASINO! I’ll see ya all in Louisiana babe! LOL! The Alabama Coushatta has a KILLER BUFFET! That’s why I go!! LOL… Go figure right? Don’t like gambling, LOVE eating, so it works out well for us all! A little pricey, but WELL worth it, and since we don’t do it very often, well DESERVED! If I think of anymore ideas for great summer fun, I will let you know soon LOL!

OK now its time to get crafty! Many people decorate for Memorial day, if nothing more than a mere American Flag hanging from a pole. Some people go all out and decorate to the hilt and BBQ and the whole kit & kaboodle! The good thing is that with Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day as well as Patriotic rememberances such as 9/11, etc. you can use all the same decorations!! Red, White, & Blue!! YIPPEE!!!! Soooooo guess what we are doing today for crafts? YEP! Patriotic Crafting!

Craft Idea of the Day: Patriotic Crafts



Red, White And Blue Birdhouse

This bird house will have your feathered friends whistling the 'Star Spangled Banner'! Perfect for the patriot in the family or a festive holiday decoration.

Materials:

Don Mechanic® Wooden Birdhouse
Folk Art® Enamel™ Paint, True blue
Folk Art® Enamel™ Paint, Napthol Crimson
Folk Art® Enamel™ Paint, Titanium White
Plaid® Wood Letters, 1¼ Dot, Star
Plaid ®wooden letters 1¼ Colligate, U S A
Aleene’s® Thick Designer Tacky Glue
Dress It Up®, Stars and Stripes
Dress It Up®, Americana
Dress It Up®, Stars!
Thin Black Rollerball Pen
Paintbrushes
Stencil Brush

Cost of each project will vary depending on materials used.
Due to the seasonal nature of some merchandise, actual availability of some products pictured may vary.

Directions:

Paint birdhouse blue. Allow to dry.

Paint roof white. Allow to dry. Repeat.

Paint ‘USA’ letters white. Allow to dry. Repeat.

Paint wooden star red. Allow to dry. Repeat.

Using damp stencil brush dipped in white paint, use thumb create speckled look by spritzing paint on the birdhouse. Allow to dry.

Use same technique with the blue on white letters, and white on blue letters:

Use black pen to outline letters and star.

Glue flags on roof.

Glue star on front center of roof.

Glue the rest of the buttons on the birdhouse according to the design or your preference.

Using thin paintbrush, outline the entrance hole with red paint



Streamer Flag
By Gretchen Martin

Nothing displays American pride during the holidays like our own American flag. Show your patriotism during the holidays by decorating your entrance with an easy to make streamer flag. Hang on your front door to welcome party guests for a day of celebration.

Estimated Project Duration: 45 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner

Materials

1 roll of red streamers (1.75” thickness)
1 roll of white streamers (1.75” thickness)
Blue construction or craft paper
Cardboard or similar strong paper or poster board
13 to 50 mini white gift bows
Ruler/straight edge
Double sided tape
3M Spray Mount, ReMount, Super 77 or similar spray adhesive
Xacto blade/hobby knife or scissors
A small piece of yarn or string

Project Instructions

1. Cut seven strips of red streamers measuring 35 inches long.
2. Cut six strips of white streamers measuring 35 inches long.
3. Cut a strip of cardboard or poster board approximately 26 inches long and 2 inches wide.
4. Line strip of poster board with double-sided tape and adhere alternating red and white streamer stripes as shown in photos below.
5. Once all stripes are attached trim any cardboard excess and flip cardboard binding over to attach a piece of yarn or string for hanging. Flip back over.
6. Cut out a 13” x 14.75” piece of blue construction or craft paper. Spray back of blue paper with spray adhesive. Let dry for 30 seconds to lessen tack unless using ReMount which is specifically useful for repositioning. Lay blue paper in top left corner of striped streamer pattern.
7. Flip entire flag over to adjust streamers by pulling up gently and relaying where streamers may have wrinkled. Take care to line up the fourth red steamer stripe with the bottom of the blue paper so that the bottoms remain flush.
8. Flip flag back over to front. Assemble mini white bows in appropriate star formation, being sure to place them before adhering. If using 50 bows to represent 50 states, create nine rows of stars alternating six and five star rows. If limited to 13 bows, use a pot or pan lid or similar guide to assemble stars in a circle pattern to represent the original 13 colonies.
9. Hang on front door and watch flag wave in a gentle breeze.

Crafting Tips

While most of these materials can be found cheaply at the craft or dollar store, try going through your gift wrap and holiday items to see what materials you might already have in storage when preparing for this project. Wide ribbons can replace streamers and star stickers can replace bows.

Try varying the size of your flag if you have fewer amounts of materials and thin ribbons. Smaller flags can be used to decorate gift bags, buffet tables and more. Door hangers can be used in and outdoors, but be sure to bring your streamer flag inside in the event of rain or gusty winds.



Uncle Sam’s Patriotic Hat Planter
By Gretchen Martin

Plastic planters are often stacked up and set aside as store bought flowers are replanted into higher end containers. These plastic planters are perfect for recycling into fun craft project ideas. Follow the instructions below to turn your discarded flowerpots into holiday décor that mimics Uncle Sam’s patriotic hat and other festive ideas.

Estimated Project Duration: 45 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner

Materials

Plastic Planter
Recycled Plastic Lid from any container (Cool Whip lid used here)
Blue ribbon
White ribbon (optional)
Krylon Fusion for Plastic® Gloss White spray paint
Krylon Fusion for Plastic® Red Pepper spray paint
Star stickers
1-inch painters masking tape
Double sided tape or glue
Scissors

Instructions

1. Begin with a plastic planter, which can be recycled from a store-bought plant that needs to be replanted.
2. Next, find a suitable sized recycled plastic lid that will mimic the brim of a hat when combined with the planter. Suitable pieces would include the top of a margarine tub or cottage cheese container, a take out soup container lid, etc. A lid from a tub of Cool Whip was used for the project pictured.
3. Place the planter top face down onto the center of the lid to trace a circle onto the lid.
4. Using an Xacto blade or hobby knife, cut an opening in the lid 1/4” smaller than the pencil line, using the circle as your guide.
5. Spray planter container using Krylon Fusion for Plastic® Gloss White. The Fusion for Plastic® series is the best spray paint for improved adherence to plastic items, particularly when masking (as follows). Let white paint dry.
6. Using 1-inch painters masking tape, place strips of tape vertically down planter spaced approximately one inch apart.
7. Spray masked planter and plastic lid with Krylon Fusion for Plastic® Red Pepper. Let dry and remove masking tape from planter.
8. Tie blue ribbon just below mouth of container using double sided tape to help hold position.
9. Decorate blue ribbon with star stickers.
10. Align a piece of blue and white ribbon and tie in a bow, blue side out. Attach bow to ribbon on container using double-sided tape.
11. Glue red plastic lid to the top opening of planter.
12. Fill with red, white and blue flowers and other adornments.

Crafting Tips

For a twist on this project, try gluing your plastic lid to the bottom of the planter and tying your ribbon around the base of the container to mimic a more flared hat style with flowers coming out of the top of the hat. This design also translates easily into a New Year’s Day hat.

As a kids class project or group activity, supply the recycled products and let the students make their own unique hat designs using a variety of paints, ribbons, stickers and other materials.

Use larger planters and skip the flowers to create your own party hats.



Patriotic Windsock

Materials

oatmeal container
scissors
white/clear glue
ice pick
brass rounds
ribbon
fabric material of choice

Instructions

Cut out material to go around oatmeal container, a little extra on ends to go inside.

Apply w/ glue, Then cut out eight strips of material the length of container about an inch thick. Space around on one end.

Apply ribbon to top for hanging (I used brass rounds.)

Punch 4 holes through and attached ribbon with brass rounds.

Apply a strip of ribbon over both ends to secure overall placement.

By Jennifer from CA

Here are some more great Patriotic decorating ideas for the tons of holidays and events themed with Red, White, and Blue!

Red, White and Blue Flowers
A combination of red, white and blue flowers makes a festive decoration idea for a cute party. A cut flower arrangement can be made in a vase. Another option is to plant flowers in a patriotic container to decorate the party area. Planted pots of red, white and blue flowers show your patriotism long after the Fourth of July party is over. They can also serve as favors for the guests at the conclusion of the party. The patriotic flowers work well as centerpieces, at the entrance to greet guests or throughout the party area.

Patriotic Wreath
A homemade patriotic wreath adorned with red, white and blue is a festive way to decorate for a Fourth of July party. A grapevine wreath or a Styrofoam wreath work equally well as the base of a patriotic wreath. A variety of red, white and blue artificial flowers serve as fillers on the wreath. Patriotic ribbon, miniature American flags and painted wooden stars can also be used to decorate the wreath. Floral wire attached to the flowers and stars holds them into place on the wreath. With the flowers in place on the wreath, the flags and stars can be placed as accents. The patriotic ribbon adds the final touch to the wreath.

Floating Candle Centerpiece
Patriotic centerpieces enhance the overall theme for a Fourth of July party. Floating candles in red, white and blue offer an alternative to traditional flower centerpieces. A large glass bowl serves as the container for the patriotic floating candle centerpiece. Glass marbles or stones in red, white and blue adorn the bottom of the glass bowl. Once it is filled with water, the floating candles in patriotic colors are placed in the bowl. The candles should be lit right before the party so they last as long as possible.

Felt Welcome Banner
Felt is an easy fabric to use for crafts and decorations. Craft stores carry large rolls of felt, which serves as the background for a patriotic felt banner for a Fourth of July party. A piece of blue felt cut to the desired size is decorated with a Fourth of July message of your choice. The message is composed of letters cut out of white and red felt. The felt letters naturally cling to the blue felt background but should be secured with a few drops of glue or stitches. Additional patriotic decorations enhance the felt banner.

Patriotic Luminarias
Paper bags, sand and tea lights make up luminarias for an evening party. Lunch-sized paper bags in red, white and blue make up the base of the homemade luminarias. Stars cut out of the paper bags add a patriotic touch. A star template helps with the cutouts. The stars are traced on each paper bag. Add as few or as many stars as you like. A utility knife makes the cutouts easier. Cardboard slid inside the paper bag will prevent the utility knife from cutting through the other side of the bag. A small amount of sand weighs down the bags once the stars are cut out. A tea light is then placed in the sand. Safety concerns about the flames from tea lights can be solved by using battery-operated tea lights. The glow from the luminarias lights the way for guests along a driveway, sidewalk or the perimeter of the party area.

Now it’s time to eat. I want to end this week of SUPER SALADS with a sweet treat. Now, you can make any fruits and veggies into some terrific salads as you have seen. Check out February 11th post for a great Broccoli salad and a Pear salad. Now, for this very popular salad, you can use a variety of fruits- including pineapple, strawberries, and even mandarin oranges.



Watergate Salad

Ingredients

2 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained but reserve juice
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together pudding mix, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pineapple juice, marshmallows, and nuts. Fold in whipped topping. Chill.

As a special bonus, I am also gonna bring you the famous American Flag dessert that we’ve all seen this time of year. Its made with fresh fruit and its sheer yumminess!



American Flag Cake

Ingredients

2 pints of strawberries
1 recipe of your favorite white or yellow cake (mix or from scratch, your choice)
1 1/3 cup of blueberries
1 tub of whipped topping

Instructions

Mix up and bake your favorite cake mix or recipe. Let cool.

Slice 1 cup of strawberries, set aside. Halve remaining, strawberries and set aside.

Top cake (in pan) with 1 cup sliced strawberries, 1 cup blueberries and all of the whipped topping. Arrange remaining strawberry halves and blueberries on whipped topping to create a flag design. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Well kids, its time for me to get off here and go get busy! Ya’ll have a wonderful day and come back tomorrow for another blog jam packed of fun and food and crafts galore! See ya tomorrow… HUGS!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

STICKY SATURDAY

Well good morning there to all the lovely people on the other side of my computer screen! How are you doing this “OMG-its-too-hot-out-here” Saturday morning? I, as you probably can guess, am already working up a sweat! I went out to water my plants and feed my kitties and OMG… super sticky! YUCK!

Alright. I noticed my mother’s great comment and I chuckled when I read it! Some of you are probably sitting there going “What’s up with that?” So, allow me to elaborate! “I have been recycling for years; long before it was eco-chic. LOL From clothes to paper goods, and things from nature to even food products, like fast food condiments, but I'll let Renee tell that story if she wants to. It makes her laugh all the time.”



Now, my mother is referencing to the fast food condiments in that part of her comment LOL. For those of you who have followed me for a while now, or know me, know that my son Alex is Autistic. No he was NOT born that way. He developed without problems until he was 10 months old. He got very sick with Spinal Meningitis and had a seizure. During that seizure, he had 2 strokes, resulting in massive brain scar tissue which cannot be operated on. So the neurological trauma caused the autism and developmental delays. SO, when Alex had the meningitis and I was basically living at the hospital, when I would go get each meal, I would grab handfuls of condiments. Mother would fuss and fuss “Stop doing that” or “You don’t need all those”, etc. LOL I told her by the time he came home, she wouldn’t have to buy condiments for months! I WAS RIGHT! LOL… when we came home, I would take all the ketchup packets, etc. and fill the near-empty bottles in the fridge. She would reach for one and say “Hey where’d this ketchup come from?” LMAO!! I would whisper “PACKETS” LMAO! She didn’t have to buy ANY condiments for about 3-4 months I think it was LMAO! I have always done that, but it apparently rubbed off on her! LOL. She and my father “collect” condiments now from all the times they have to grab a bite out, etc. Mom almost had a heart attack yesterday thinking my father threw out the empty ketchup bottle LMAO!!!!! Oh it was great! So I took her packets and put them in the bottle… she had enough packets for like ¼ to 1/3 of a bottle!



Mom was being very frugal yesterday (oh see the tear… I’m so proud! LMAO). See, after the Hurricane, Dad and her had to live in a RV and they had MRE’s when there was no electricity, etc. Well, she SAVED the cracker and bread packets (along with some of the drink things, CONDIMENTS LMAO, etc) that she didn’t use. So we sat in the kitchen with a food processor and we made some (very pretty mind you) homemade bread and cracker crumbs! Waste not, want not right? She freezes heels of loaves of bread that are not “sandwich or toast worthy” LOL and then when she has enough, she makes those into crumbs as well. See where I get my frugality from? Ain’t she so smart!?

Well I wish, at this point, I had some crafty creations to report. But for some reason I am just not feeling it. It saddens me really. I sit there at the table thinking to myself “Ok, what can I make today” and about 5 minutes later, its like… I really am not in the mood. So I get up and move onto something else. What is my problem??! I need to get back on the sewing wagon… and FAST! I have projects to complete by goodness! Ok, so while I might not have the fabric fever today, I know that many of you might still be in the mood. So I have found you something else really wonderful for you to take a gander at and contemplate construction over! LOL…



Craft Idea of the Day: Plantable Greeting Cards

Materials

FOR EACH CARD:
1-1/2 cups of 1-inch scraps made from newspaper, construction paper, or used printer paper
Large bowl of warm water
Masking tape
6- by 10-inch piece of window screen
Blender
9- by 13-inch baking pan
Packet of wildflower seeds
Bath towels
Markers

Instructions

1. Place the scraps in the bowl of warm water and soak overnight.

2. Fold strips of tape over the edges of the screen to make it easier to handle.

3. Place the soaked paper into the blender, then fill the blender halfway with fresh water. Blend until the mixture looks like a thick, creamy soup.

4. Add water to the baking pan until it's a quarter full, then pour in the blended pulp. Add the packet of wildflower seeds and mix well with your hands.

5. Slip the screen into the pan so that it slides beneath the pulp and seeds. Lift it gently, catching the pulp mixture in an even layer on top and allowing the water to drain off.

6. Lay the screen on a bath towel, moving it to a dry area when the fabric below is saturated. Let the paper dry for at least 24 hours.

7. When the paper has dried completely, gently remove it from the screen. Add a message with the markers.

OK, now I know that many of you like the recycling things I bring you all the time- crafts to storage to garden and everything in between. SO, I’m gonna bring you some more tips for another common thing you can find around the house… cardboard tubes. You know, like toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, etc? Yea those kinds of things. There are TONS of great uses for those things! Check these out!

Things you can do with cardboard tubes

Don't throw away your old cardboard toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Try some of these ideas to recycle or re-use them

Cross Stitch Storage - I use old cardboard tubs to store my cross stitch work. It keeps them neat and clean while I'm working or storage before framing. Contributed by jvick

Make a Christmas Angel - Instructions here

Paintbrush Carrier - I use them to transport my paint brushes back and forth to painting class. Just stuff a paper towel in bottom and drop brushes in. This keeps them from getting crushed in my tote bag. Contributed by Sandy D'Ambrosio, tonyd611@bellatlantic.net.

Crafter's Desk Organizer - use cardboard tubes along with an empty cardboard tissue box to make a crafters desk organizer. Take the tissue box and snip the corners diagonally on the top,fold down the flaps to the inside and glue-this reinforces the box.Then take the tubes and cut them off so they are the same height as the box. Hot-glue (or use tacky-glue) in rows in the box (it takes about 15 toilet paper tubes). If you use a tissue box with a floral or decorator design it's very pretty. Then store all your markers,pens,glue sticks,scissors,hole punchers etc.on end in the tubes, within reach on your craftbench! Contributed by cyndee@catlover.com.

Store Pantyhose - Each empty toilet roll core can hold a pair of pantyhose. I usually fold my pantyhose to about palm-sized, and stuff it into the core. Each pantyhose should fit nicely into one core, without much of it dangling out. And when I travel, I just pop as many filled cores as I need in the luggage, and I don't have to worry about tearing the pantyhoses accidentally! Contributed by Angie B., angela_boey@yahoo.com.

Grocery Bag Storage - Re-use paper towel cardboard tubes to store those unruly plastic grocery bags. fold the grocery bags fan style in the palm of your hand and stuff in the tube. Stores nicely in a drawer or under the cabinet. Keep one in every bathroom and the utility room to use the bags as wastebasket liners. Contributed by Maria A. Alvarez-Lundie, alvarezmaa@hotmail.com

Bracelets - Cut tube down one side, then cut into sections (same size as napkin rings). Then cover with wrapping paper or material, using glue stick. Use clear adhesive shelf paper to cover bracelets. Little girls like these and it's easy to make a few at a time. and different styles. Contributed by V.Grl, Vanilagrl@aol.com
Binoculars - Here's an idea we use at playschool. Take two rolls and staple them together side by side. Punch holes in the top sides of the rolls and put yarn through to hang around the child's neck. They can let their imaginations go wild decorating them, whether it's simply coloring them or glueing odds and ends on. When they're done, they have a pair of binoculars. The kids at playschool LOVE these and always enjoy going on a jungle safari with them. You can also use an elastic to put on some colored cellophane on the end of them. Contributed by Tracy, tproctor@nbnet.nb.ca.

Make Rain Sticks - great activity for kids. Instructions here! Contributed by Roberta, isewg@email.msn.com

Cord Organizer - They make an excellant way to store all those extention cords tangled up in your drawers. Fold extention cord back and forth about 10 inches long and stuff in tp tube. Mark length on tube for future use. They will also hang well on a nail in the closet.
Contributed by Cathy Williams, cathy@tfs.net

Fire Starters - Fill an empty roll with dried leaves in the fall. Wrap it with newspaper, 4 inches longer than the roll, and twist the ends of the paper, for easy lighting. If you wrap them with decorative paper and put them in a basket they make a nice accessory to a fire place. They can also be covered with Christmas wrapping paper for the holidays.
Contributed by Claycrazy, Claycrazy@aol.com

Party Favors - One year I took toilet paper rolls, or cut paper towel rolls and put small gifts inside. Since all the men in my family are fishing nuts I put a lure in each of theirs, for the women I put small bottles of bath gel, lotions or perfume. There are many things for the kids. I wrapped & tied each end with ribbon & set them on their dinner plates. The little ones couldn't wait to open their gifts.
Contributed by Kathy, timkathg@newnorth.net

Party Poppers! Instructions here

Build stuff - Using several lengths of tubes and clothes pins my children love to connect the tubes to build structures. Contributed by Mommy2JnA@aol.com

Make a Christmas Wreath - Instructions here

Lincoln logs - You can easily make your own Lincoln logs out of cardboard tubes. Just cut a notch in the ends.

Megaphone - Kids discover this one pretty quick... and parents get tired of it pretty quick. :)

Boot savers - Stuff several paper towel tubes into your boots to help them hold their shape.

Napkin rings - Really! We made some very elegant napkin rings using ribbon and toilet paper tubes. Instructions here.

Knitting needle storage - Paper towel tubes can be used to store your knitting needles. Keeps the plastic ones from bending and breaking.

Christmas light storage - Wrap your lights around a paper towel tube to store them for next year. They won't tangle up as easily!

Tree guard - Cut a paper towel tube in half lengthwise and wrap around the base of small trees to prevent scarring when you're weed eating around its base.

Poster / document saver - roll up old posters or documents and slide them inside a cardboard tube. For large posters, use the cardboard tubes left over from wrapping paper.

Build a doll house or castle - We built a fairy castle completely out of cardboard, plastic containers, old wall paper, all kinds of scraps. Instructions here.

Use to paint circles - Dip one end of a toilet paper tube into some paint. Press gently down on paper to paint a perfect circle. Make a whole picture with just circles, and fill in the spaces between the circles with different colors for an abstract work of art.

Aren’t those some neat tips? I found them on make-stuff.com, along with the garden hose tips and they have lots more great ideas for recycling crafts. Check them out and venture to other areas of the site for more on topics such as sewing, holidays, gardening, etc. Some of the areas you have to be a paid subscriber to access, but there is lots of great free info too!

Ok kids, now for one of my favorite sections of the day… FOOD! YUMMY! Now as you know, the week is just about over… so is another theme. Do you want me to keep going with themes or just go back to random recipes and such? Let me know by leaving your comments, thoughts, ideas, etc! Now for today’s meal, I thought that since a lot of people like pizza (except maybe my mom and dad right now LOL! Too soon after your pizza coma, huh? LMAO) I would bring you a very interesting twist on the American fave. Turn it into a SALAD! What… you’ve never heard of it? OMG! Well step into my parlor said the Frugal Mom to all you guys LOL…



Antipasto Pizza Salad

Ingredients

6 cups torn lettuce leaves
8 ounces pepperoni, julienned
6 ounces swiss cheese, julienned
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can pitted ripe olives , drained, halved
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Place the lettuce on a large serving platter. Arrange the salami, cheeses, tomatoes and olives over top. Sprinkle with chives. In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Drizzle over salad.

Ok folks. I am gonna close up shop for today so I can go to work. I hope you have a wonderful day today in whatever you decide to do. Come back tomorrow for more fun and excitement in the world of The Frugal Mom! I’ll be anxious to read your comments! Until tomorrow… HUGS!

Friday, May 28, 2010

GARDEN GOSSIP

Good morning everybody. How are you doing this bright and promising hot day? Doing alright here. Got up to 95 degrees according to the outside thermometers in my neck of the woods. Summer is definitely here in full force! Today’s focus, as you can see is gardening! We love our gardens, don’t we boys and girls? No matter how burnt or dead or green and flourishing they get… we love them all!

Now I told you yesterday, I was on a rescue mission all day Wednesday with my newly planted rose garden and my late night garden play. Well yesterday when I got home the rose blooms I had were all wilted and falling off the stem. I cried… WTF happened!? I am just hoping it was transplant shock, etc. I gave them a good soaking and clipped the dead parts, so we will see. This morning when I get up, they are back to perkiness and additional blooms have opened, so I don’t feel so bad. Now if I can just keep the cats from using the bed as a litter box, we’d be ok!



Time to go to the produce section of the place I call home LOL. I took out all the dead tomatoes and other sticks and thinned out the plants… spaced them out more. There are a few sticks I am going to try to save. I tilled and raked and added and airrated! Then I replaced and relocated. This is the end result on how it looks. Green is good, but how long it will stay is the big question!



This is the container of crispy tomato plants I am trying to save… or at minimum make the remaining tomatoes mature pick. They are looking pretty sickly but we shall see how well they do. If they just last long enough for all those little tomatoes to turn red, I will have accomplished my goal with these crispy critters.



This is the “first aid table” these are the plants I am trying to save out of the garden boxes along with the 6 new plants I got as replacements. You can see, most of them are just sticks! It’s a very curious thing that is going on, but we will see what I can do with them.



This is the container that DID have all my peas in it. It has now become the bell pepper container. These are one of the few things looking good to fair. I have some sticks and I have some really healthy green on thriving in the middle. Can we keep them that healthy?

I think this weekend I will be planting some more seeds to see if it’s this new dirt mix or what is going on. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Those of you in this area, Houston Garden Centers is having their HUGE ½ price sale, and let me tell ya… they do mean HUGE! Trees, shrubs, plants, roses, you name it! Man could I do some damage in there! I would buy a Lemon Tree for my kitchen, roses to cover my whole yard, more trees, you name it! But alas, I must practice restraint LOL.

Ok, now with summer coming up on us super quick, some of you might be getting outside and finding that what you thought you had for fun in the sun or for work in the yard isn’t quite in shape for one more use. Before you toss things, stop and think for 1 second if can be repurposed at ALL. If so, do it! Make everyday Earthday! So you went outside and found out you have some lovely holes or cracks in your garden hose.



Things you can do with old garden hoses

Don't throw away your old garden hose. Even badly cracked or leaky hose can be re-used. Try some of these ideas to recycle or re-use them.

Color Campfire Flames - Add some neat Colors to your campfire- If you enjoy camping as much as my family does you will like this one, especially if you have children! We do it all the time! What you will need is a half inch copper piping cut down into sections. With that done you can now insert the rubber hose into it. You will have to cut down the hose as well. The best time to see all the beautiful colors is at night of course! And TA DA-- You will have a bunch of your fellow campers asking you "how'd you do that!?!?!" *Sssshhhh* our secret. From Your Friend Jessica

Make a soaker hose - Drill a few more holes in that leaky hose. Attach it to a regular hose with a brass or plastic couple that has two female receptors. Seal off the end of your soaker hose with a plastic end cap. Place the hose next to plants, or bury it in a shallow trench. Adjust the water flow to a trickle, and leave on for 30-40 minutes.

Make a wreath - Here's a neat idea I found in a magazine - Cut the hose into a 4 foot (or so) piece. Loop into a wreath, tie together to keep circular shape and decorate with a garden theme. I used old gardening gloves, seed packets, bought some small gardening tools at the craft store and a few silk fs. Everyone comments on it, it really draws attention.
Contributed by Teri, wtedward@tusco.net

Gas syphon - We don't recommend this, but hey, in an emergency...

Water mixer - Try this if you have an old-fashioned sink with double faucets to get just the temperature mix. Slip a short section of hose over both faucets, then make a V-shaped cut in the bottom (center) of the tubing.

Bucket handle - Carry heavy buckets more comfortably. Cut a short length of hose and slit down one side. Slide over the handle of the bucket to make a solid gripping handle.

Corner protector - If you have a narrow driveway and find yourself constantly scraping the side of the garage, try nailing lengths of slit hose to the corners for a home-made "bumper".

Blade guard - Slit a section of hose and slip it over the blade of an ax or saw when not in use.

Tree support protector - Slit hose and slip a section of it onto support ropes to protect the trunks of young trees from rope burn.

Pond / fountain tubing - To re-use a good length of hose, cut off the leaky end and use the remainder for your pond or fountain. Attach to pump with a gasket and tighten.

Sometimes recycling/repurposing puts me in a very crafty mood. So do you feel crafty? If so, I have something you might enjoy. Some of you are venturing outside and beginning to mess with little gardens… and seeds. Well what better way to use up empty seed envelopes than to make bookmarks (maybe for your favorite gardening books?)!! The site I found this on has some great step by step photos!



Craft Idea of the Day: Seed Packet Bookmarks

How to Get a Free Bookmark with Seed Purchase

1. Bang chosen packet on its noggin to shake the contents to the top.

2. Fold left bottom corner to the far side, if you wish to preserve the directions.

3. Snip, fold, and tape on dotted line.

4. Petite packets and perfect page-markers. (Ooo, alliteration…)

Incidentally, you also get free bookmarks with your junk mail and bills…

Now summertime and gardens, etc. brings me to an email from a reader named Kathy. She is a reader who began “paying attention to me” (LMAO) in one of my yahoo groups. Let’s all say HI to Kathy! (Feel free to post your comments here hun.. we’re all one big happy blogger family!) I want to thank Kathy for her kind words, lots of info, and sharing some fantastic life stories with me. She explained how gardening brings back and keeps her in touch with fond family memories. It was very heart-warming. She also brought up the concept of Upside Down Container gardening… a very good concept. I think I have briefly touched on it, but never in depth. She states how it could be useful to readers with limited spaces… and she is right! So let’s talk about Upside down container gardening for a spell, shall we?

Have you seen those Topsy Turvey planters they sell in stores? That is Upside down container gardening. My mom has 2 of them in her garden and is actually getting some pretty nice tomatoes off of them. But there are tons of ways to make upside down containers for less for use in small homes, apartment patios, etc. or even if you just want to double or triple the amount of things you can grow! Buckets, pails, etc. can all be used. There are hundreds of online websites that can show you how to make containers… that’s how my Cat Litter Bucket strawberry containers started! I have tons of those Fresh Step Cat litter plastic buckets running around the house, porch, etc. So one day I was sitting around and decided to paint one of them white (cause white reflects the sun more and doesn’t get quite as hot on the soil, roots, etc. Then I took scrapbook paper that had strawberries and I decoupaged it onto each side of the bucket. Then I clear coat varnished it and voila! The cutest strawberry bucket I have ever seen! I drilled drain holes in it and hung it from the handle. BUT you can also make the holes in different spots and hang it upside down for an equally effective planter.

You can use all kinds of things… cat litter buckets (cleaned out real good of course), washing buckets, buckets you can buy from Home improvement stores or dollar stores even, soda bottles, milk jugs, and tons of other things you probably have around your house already! Lots of things grow real good upside down: tomatoes, all kinds of peppers, strawberries, cucumbers, zucchinis, etc. Growing vine plants upside down eliminates your need for trellis and cage space, etc. And the even better part… you can grow something on TOP too! Plant some herbs like basil, mint, etc in the top of your planters. OR even better still, plant some well known bee and other pollinator-friendly flowers like Ceanothus, Lavender, Heather, Thyme, Hebe, Candytuft, Escallonia, sage, Pyracantha, and broom. Bees and other pollinators are essential to gardens (both floral and foods) because they pollinate your plants to make them grow and fruit! So BEE friendly and plant attracting flowers in the tops of your upside down containers! It’s a cute way of inviting life to do some of the work for you LOL!

Now, decorating the containers you choose to use can be a cinch if you want to make them eye-catching/appealing! Its not required by any means LOL, but many people choose to. You can do anything from use paint and stencils, to scrapbook and wall papers to decoupage, to just plain old stickers! Just remember that whatever you use, to clear coat/varnish it well. This will weather/water proof your container and make it useful for a long time to come! Also another thing Kathy brought up in her email that I want to address to ANYONE who is patio gardening in containers. Your patios are made of concrete (almost all of them anyway). If they are… DO NOT set the containers on the direct concrete during the hot summer months! Have a wooden palate or something under them cause the heat held by the concrete WILL be conducted through your plastic containers up under the plant and FRY the roots… killing your plants! I learned this the very hard way one year. I nursed tons of plants to big glorious looking healthy bushes all spring. About a week in the summer on the concrete and I come home one day and BAM! A field of crunchy dead plants! Oh I was devastated! I put them on wooden palates (call your local stores and see if you can have 1 or 2 for free) the next time and I had a beautiful garden again!

Kathy shared with me some links to some pretty awesome websites on Upside Down Container Gardening, and I want to share them with you.

Growing Vegetables Upside Down

http://cheapvegetablegardener.com/

Hanging Vegetable Garden – What Vegetables Can Be Grown Upside Down

Growing a Vertical Vegetable Garden

Planning A Companion Vegetable Garden

Some great info there Kathy! Thanks for sharing and being a contributor in our great little blog community here! Now, are you ready? I mean REALLY ready? Its time for some SUPER SALAD ideas! YAY! I love food… and today’s salads have meat YUM!



Chicken Salad

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup halved green grapes
3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons finely minced onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine chicken, bacon, water chestnuts, celery and grapes in large bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients; add to salad and toss to coat. Chill until serving.

(TIP** For a great sandwich, omit the grapes and water chestnuts and place with lettuce on whole grain bread or roll.)



Crabmeat Salad

Ingredients

1 (16 ounce) package imitation crabmeat
3/4 cup creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle Whip)
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 carrot, shredded

Directions

Shred imitation crab meat into bite sized pieces. Combine with salad dressing, celery, onions and carrot. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Well Folks, that’s gonna be about the long and short of it for me today! I am gonna get off here and go get into some trouble with my mommy LOL! DH has serious housework duty today so I will leave him to his chores LMAO! Ya’ll take care and have fun in whatever you find yourself getting into today! Remember, we got a 3-day weekend coming up, so I have some big things in store for us all! Until tomorrow… HUGS!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MY ANNIVERSARY

Morning folks! How are you today? I am good… it’s my anniversary! No not my wedding anniversary, but the 1 year anniversary of me being smoke free! Yep, this day last year I stopping smoking after about 17 years! I am quite proud of myself. I am also very tired. I couldn’t quite get in to a sewing groove, so I spent yesterday doing a lot out in the garden and I am afraid to say that I got a bit too much sun. My shoulders are very red and tender-burnt and my body hurts in places I forgot I had! BUT hopefully all my blood, sweat, and tears will pay off! It was rescue day cause as you know, I have lost most of everything I had going.



I went to the store and got some compost, peat, and such to “doctor” my dirt for the plants I still have left. I also used up some remaining balances on some gift cards I had to replace the plants that have died off… like all my tomatoes, etc. I started in the front yard with my rose plants… I went after I picked up my kids to get some small bedding plants to enhance the bed’s appearance. I think it turned out soooo cute!



Then when I went to get the bedding plants, my DD found this miniature rose bush and she wanted me to have it. It is so pretty and bright orange. It had a bunch of buds on it and then when I woke up this morning, the buds were bloomed open. Aren’t they so pretty?



So ok, it’s the hottest part of the day… no way I am gonna be outside risking heat stroke or exhaustion for plants. I mean I love my plants BUT my health is more important. So I decided to craft inside. Now I wasn’t feeling the sewing groove, so I decided to do other crafts. I started with this drinking glass. Now I pick up things here and there that I think I could use in other/future projects. One thing I found at the Dollar Tree was this blue glass goblet/wine glass. I thought “Maybe… so I started crafting an idea I had for a centerpiece, but I wasn’t digging it. SO I decorated it a little and the DD wants this to be her “special glass” to drink from LOL!



This led to the designing of this centerpiece, which Madison fell in love with. It doubles as a balloon weight as well.



These are the 2 centerpieces we are going with. There will be 8 of the glasses and 4 of the picture notes.



So I prepped the 8 glasses, but I still need the white gem stones for the inside of the cup. Aren’t they so cute?



This is the start of her invites. I cut the treble clef off of some music note scrapbooking paper. Then I glued it onto a piece of blue cardstock. There will be either pretty stickers or writing on the front that says “You’re Invited” or “Sweet 16”, or something similar. Then on the back the info for the party will be typed and then cut out with pretty scrapbooking edged scissors and glued down. DD says she likes it… maybe I will like it better when its put together? Cause I’m not feeling it right now.



I also did some decoupaging… I did 12 tiles that will be part of my coffee table top. I covered 4 cd’s for music theme cake toppers.



So I placed my tiles together on top of my table. This is what its gonna look like when I get the grout and such. I think its pretty spiffy really. Don’t think I am actually gonna do the hippie living room, cause this table is just too awesome not to make!

Once it got a little cooler outside, I went out to the garden area and was trying to help save my little crispy critters. I pulled my husky cherries, some dead sticks, etc. I put the tomatoes in a pot to, at minimum, save the last of the tiny tomatoes all over the dead sticks. I pulled up some of the things I HOPE to save and I disposed of those I can’t. Then I mixed up some additives into my dirt that was in the planters. Hopefully this will all do the trick, along with some serious TLC every evening and/or morning. I was outside until about 9pm… when the mosquitoes started thinking I tasted good, despite being covered in dirt, sweat, and other so-grossness! Keep your fingers crossed!

So are you in the mood to craft? Well I thought of you guys when I saw this. It’s a Solar Cooker! This is not only a craft, but a frugal energy saver, and I thought it was pretty cool. Visit the actual website to see the pictures to help explain some of the steps.



Craft Idea of the Day: Solar Cookers

How to Make a Solar Cooker
- Basic Solar Cooking
Here we offer an introduction to cooking with solar energy including an easy plan to make your own solar cooker from cardboard boxes. There are many variations of solar cooker plans on the net, along with solar cooking recipes, hints and tips for making the most of your solar cooker and solar cooking communities where you can share information and benefit from the global experience of others who are also cooking with solar energy.

With this in mind, we've compiled some great solar cooking resources for the beginner so that you can quickly access everything that you need to know - from soup to nuts solar cooker recipes, to safe and efficient operation of your homemade solar cooker.

Minimum Solar Box Cooker - (shown above, left)
This simple cardboard box solar oven can be built in a few hours for very little money, thus the title. However, don't be fooled - despite the simple design, this full-power cooker works very well and is in no way "minimum" as far as cooking power.

Minimum Solar Cooker
Supplies:

Two cardboard boxes, with the inner box being at least 15 inch x 15 inch (38 cm x 38 cm), but bigger is better. The outer box should be larger all around, but it doesn't matter how much bigger, as long as there is a half inch (1.5cm) or more of an airspace between the two boxes. The distance between the two boxes does not have to be equal all the way around. Also, remember that it's easy to adjust the size of a cardboard box by cutting and gluing it.

One cardboard sheet for the lid. This must be about 2 to 3 inch (4 to 8 cm) larger all the way around than the top of the finished cooker (the outer box).

One roll of aluminum foil.

One can of "non-toxic when dry" flat-black spray paint.

At least 1 cup of white glue

One Reynolds Oven Bag. Common in major grocery stores in the U.S. or Canada or by mail-order from Solar Cookers International or Amazon. They are rated for 400 °F (204 °C) so they are perfect for solar cooking. They are not UV-resistant; thus they will become more brittle and opaque over time and may need to be replaced periodically. A sheet of glass can also be used, but this is more expensive and fragile, and doesn't offer that much better cooking except on windy days.

Building the Solar Cooker Base

Instructions:

Fold the top flaps closed on the outer box and set the inner box on top and trace a line around it onto the top of the outer box. Remove the inner box and cut along this line to form a hole in the top of the outer box (Figure 1).

Decide how deep you want your oven to be. Ideally, it should be about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deeper than your largest pot and about 1" shorter than the outer box so that there will be a space between the bottoms of the two boxes once the cooker is assembled.

Using a knife, slit the corners of the inner box down to that height. Fold each side down forming extended flaps (Figure 2)
Folding is smoother if you first draw a firm line from the end of one cut to the other where the folds go.

Glue aluminum foil to the inside of both boxes and also to the inside of the remaining top flaps of the outer box. Don't bother being neat on the outer box, since it will never be seen, nor will it experience any wear. The inner box will be visible even after assembly, so if it matters to you, you might want to take more time here. Glue the top flaps closed on the outer box. Place some wads of crumpled newspaper into the outer box so that when you set the inner box down inside the hole in the outer box, the flaps on the inner box just touch the top of the outer box (Figure 3).

Glue these flaps onto the top of the outer box. Trim the excess flap length to be even with the perimeter of the outer box.

Finally, to make the drip pan, cut a piece of cardboard, the same size as the bottom of the interior of the oven and apply foil to one side. Paint this foiled side black and allow it to dry. Put this in the oven so that it rests on the bottom of the inner box (black side up), and place your pots on it when cooking. The base is now finished.

Building the Solar Cooker Lid

Take the large sheet of cardboard and lay it on top of the base. Trace its outline and then cut and fold down the edges to form a lip of about 3" (7.5cm). Fold the corner flaps around and glue to the side lid flaps. (Figure 4). Orient the corrugations so that they go from left to right as you face the oven so that later the prop may be inserted into the corrugations (Figure 6). One trick you can use to make the lid fit well is to lay the pencil or pen against the side of the box when marking (Figure 5). Don't glue this lid to the box; you'll need to remove it to move pots in and out of the oven.

To make the reflector flap, draw a line on the lid, forming a rectangle the same size as the oven opening. Cut around three sides and fold the resulting flap up forming the reflector (Figure 6). Foil this flap on the inside.

To make a prop bend a 12" (30cm) piece of hanger wire as indicated in Figure 6. This can then be inserted into the corrugations as shown.

Next, turn the lid upside-down and glue the oven bag (or other glazing material) in place. We have had great success using the turkey sized Oven Bag (19" x 23 1/2", 47.5cm x 58.5cm) applied as is, i.e., without opening it up. This makes a double layer of plastic. The two layers tend to separate from each other to form an airspace as the oven cooks.

When using this method, it is important to also glue the bag closed on its open end. This stops water vapor from entering the bag and condensing. Alternately you can cut any size oven bag open to form a flat sheet large enough to cover the oven opening.

And now… Its that time… time to eat! Today on the day of SUPER SALAD week, I am using pasta! There are tons of different salads that have pasta in them. Some people are not so crazy about pasta, and some can’t live without… I think I am the latter LOL!



Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

1 (16 ounce) package macaroni
4 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped sweet pickle
2 carrots, grated
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons celery seed

Directions

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain, and rinse. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place eggs in a saucepan, and cover completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, and cool. Peel, and chop.

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, dry mustard, and sweet pickle juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, celery, onion, olives, sweet pickles, carrots, green pepper, celery seeds, and eggs. Stir in dressing, and mix well.



(MOM’s now Renee’s) Generational Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 bag (12 ounces) Garden Pasta (I use Wacky Mac)
2-3 small to medium yellow crookneck (summer) squash
2-3 small to medium zucchini
1/2 bottle of Zesty Italian salad dressing
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, dice squash and zucchinis (skin on). Add to cooled pasta. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold (BETTER cold!).

Well peeps, I need to get out of here, so I am going to close for today. I hope you all have enjoyed the pictures, the crafts, and the food. I will see you again tomorrow! HUGS!