Saturday, July 31, 2010


Good morning and welcome to this super Saturday edition of The Frugal Mom. How are you doing today? I'm tired, excited, nervous, you name it all wrapped into one! But it's a good thing! Today is Madison's Sweet 16 Party and it should be very fun!

Now since I am focusing on the Christmas challenge, I found an article with some tips concerning Frugalness and Christmas and figured I had to share.

10 Steps to Make Christmas Affordable and Fun
by DeAnn Curtis

1. Keep your focus on Christ. Spend time remembering why we have Christmas each day. Read scripture. Light a candle in honor of Christ. Put out a nativity scene for the whole family to enjoy. It can even be one that the children make.

2. Spread your celebrating out over the whole season. We begin our Christmas celebrating before the begining of December and keep at it until Three King's Night on January 5. We make Advent calenders in November to use all during December. We put out stockings or boots the night before St. Nicholas Day. We celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas Eve with a birthday cake.

Then on Three King's Night we read stories about the three kings that came to visit Jesus. We also read about other people around the world and the ways that they celebrate. Spreading out the holiday spreads out the expense of celebrating, helps keep the focus on Christ and helps us to avoid the big let-down that some people feel when Christmas is over.

3. Give of yourself. By giving your time and energy at Christmas, you will help your family to take their focus off of themselves. It will also make it easier to feel grateful. No matter what you have or don't have, someone has less. Give to them. You could read to older people, go caroling, bake some cookies and visit with some lonely people. Donate some of your extra stuff cluttering up your house to a charity or volunteer in any other way that fits your family.

4. Remember your traditions. The warm feelings at Christmas come from being together and doing things together. Not just from the gifts that are hiding under the tree.

5. Feed your senses. Overeating at Christmas is easy to do. But by feeding all of your senses during the holiday, your diet doesn't have to suffer.

The sense of sight can be fed a menu of Christmas lights, snowy mountains, a freshly cleaned home, candles lit at night and smiling faces.

The sense of hearing should be fed a steady diet of Christmas hymns, children's laughter and pleasant conversation.

The sense of touch will be comforted with extra blanket throws on the couch, warm slippers and snuggly hugs from cheerful children. But don't forget to excite it with a good snowball fight too.

The sense of smell will feel right at home during the holidays if you remember it too. Light scented candles, simmer some potpouri, bring in some pine boughs for decoration and ok bake a few batches of cookies. But, if they are not on your diet you could always give them away.

6. Start a new tradition. Talk with your family and come up with some new traditions. Maybe you want to have a cookie exchange, a singing party, a decorating party for the grandparents or a neighbor, a walk through a snowy park or a maybe progressive dinner. Try to pick something that everyone can afford to do.

7. Use your community resources for free or low cost activities. Do your children belong to a scouting club? Be sure to take part in those activities. They are usually planned to be affordable. Go to your community parades. Play in a snowy park if you don't have a big yard. Visit the library for special books to read during the holidays. Attend school or church concerts or plays.

8. Cook up some memories. Even if you are on a diet, you can still enjoy special holiday food. Cook traditional foods that your mother and grandmothers cooked when you were a child. If you can't find a recipe, you will probably be able to find one on the internet, or in a cook book.

Bake several batches of cookies. Serve some hot cider or cocoa after a day of being out in the cold. You could also hold a tea party for your children, extended family, neighbors or anyone else. It feels so good to take a break and relax with a cup of tea and a cookie.

9. Play together. Spending time playing with your children will make the holiday so much brighter for the whole family. Gifts from last Christmas will still be cherished if you find the time to play together with them. Have a game night. Play as many games in a night as you can. Or you could have a tournament night. Play checkers until the champion is determined. Sit down with the kids and build a fantastic new creation with their Legos or play with their doll house with them.
10. Make gift giving count. Give gifts that you know people want. It is less costly to buy the right gift for someone that you know they will enjoy, than it is to just buy gifts to fill up your list. You can also save money on gifts by giving things that will really be used and are needed.

Think about stuffing stockings with school supplies, hair care items, small items of clothing, a tooth brush, a paperback book or a magazine. If you can't afford to give everything to everyone, consider getting your children started on a collection. Maybe your could buy them the first book in a series of books and buy more for them as gift giving holidays come up.

Or buy your children some group items. Perhaps you want to buy them a set of action figures and can't afford to give them each a big set of toys but you feel you have to be fair. Well, you could get them each one action figure and together they could receive a large part of the set. Of course this works with girls too. Together they could receive a doll house and separately they could each get an extra thing to go with it.

Remember, however things work out at your house this year, it is the love and the joy that the children will remember. Think back to how you enjoyed the pains your own parents took to make Christmas special. You probably don't remember what each gift under the tree was, but I bet you remember the wonderful feeling you had because you were loved at Christmas.

Well today is the day... its PARTY TIME! As you know, my DD turned 16 yesterday and we are having her party today at my mother's home. We spent alot of yesterday decorating and cooking and so today is time to finish up the fun this morning and HAVE the fun tonight! YAY! Sew... LOL... there won't be any Christmas Countdown sewing project today. However, I know that you need your daily craft "fix" LOL and I have just the thing for you. I think this would make a cute addition to a bath basket, etc.

Craft Idea of the Day: Handmade Soap Mitt


2 pieces of 5 1/2 inch (14cms) of cotton fabric
5 1/2 inch (14cm) of cotton webbing
Soap flakes
Sewing machine
Needle and thread


Is your soap a little soggy in the shower? Then use a soap mitt it not only looks great but its handy as well.

Place the right sides of the fabric together with the webbing centered between the two pieces of fabric.

Stitch around the square leaving a small opening at the bottom.

Turn the fabric right side out and fill between the fabric squares with soap flakes until filled.

Then hand stitch the opening closed.

These make up quickly for experienced sewers and ideal for fundraiser stalls or school fete stalls.

OK its time for our FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWER of the day and I have picked a special one... the Hibiscus. It's special because as a small child, my DD could not say the name properly. She always said "Hibiscuit mommy... its a Hibiscuit" and I would laugh like crazy. And seeing how its my daughter's weekend per se, I have been thinking alot about her LOL. SO... enjoy todays flower! Now when you think of the colorful and attractive Hibiscus flowers, you tend to think of tropical plants ideal for landscaping and as plants meant for wet soils. They make ideal indoor plants too when the right conditions are provided. The Hibiscus plant needs a lot of sun and water. The more sun it gets the more flowers in the plant. The Hibiscus flowers come in all varieties , shapes,sizes and colors. They look very ornamental in any garden and are hardy, lasting a good many years. We have one at home that is no less than 40 years old. It is the common Bright dazzling Red, large petaled variety that has become a land mark in our garden. It has now grown very tall and flowers all through the year. We have used the flowers for every kind of use other than decorating the Gods photographs , beautifying the home by arranging them in a wide urn filled with water, hair care etc.. Hibiscus has many medicinal properties . According to Ayurveda it is good for increasing blood count among anemic people. The bright Red variety that is commonly found in tropical countries is supposed to be the best . The flowers are boiled in a little water and blended in a mixer with roasted cummin seeds and salt and consumed after diluting it to the required level ,for increasing the quantity of hemoglobin. In India certain varieties of Hibiscus flowers are used for cooking. Hibiscus is supposed to contain some vital nutrients that are essential for the body and in the southern parts of India it is regularly used in cooking. In most parts of India no garden is complete without at least one Hibiscus plant. Most home gardens and parks have a variety of Hibiscus plants with colorful flowers that adds a lot of color and cheer!

Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Tastes like: slightly acidic, boiled makes a nice beverage

Agua de jamaica (iced hibiscus flower tea)

Agua de jamaica is a spectacularly beautiful and intensely delicious flavored agua fresca that will leave a definite impression on your unsuspecting taste buds. When prepared properly, agua de jamaica leaves the parched pallet thirsty for more of the tart, cranberry-like flavor that makes your mouth water. Made from dried Hibiscus blossoms, this agua fresca entices even the most complacent skeptic with its amazingly rich ruby color. It’s deeply provocative hue is only matched in interest by its naturally tangy taste and fresh flowery aroma that lends itself perfectly to pairings with citrus of all varieties.

In addition to the altogether pleasing sensory experience of sight, taste, and smell; agua de jamaica is also chocked full of health benefits. Hibiscus tea has been known to lower blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and act as a natural diuretic just to name a few.

Any and every self-respecting Mexican restaurant in Chicago should serve agua de jamaica, although the quality of the tea will vary greatly. It is very possible to get a great glass of this elixir of the gods, just bear in mind that some dining establishments water it down considerably as a means of economizing. Only your own pallet can be the judge of how strong you prefer your agua de jamaica, but with this recipe you will be empowered to make your own at home and then you can decide for yourself.

Agua de Jamaica

3 oz dried jamaica/hibiscus blossoms (about 2 large handfuls)
6 cups water
¾ cups water (or to taste)
water to make up 2 quarts

Place 6 cups of water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add jamaica blossoms. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then cover and remove from heat. Let blossoms steep for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour sugar into a 2 qt glass pitcher (jamaica can stain plastic). Place a fine-meshed sieve over the top of the pitcher and pour in jamaica tea so that the blossoms are strained out and only the garnet red liquid is used. It is a good idea to leave about 1/3 to ½ cup of liquid in the sauce pan when straining so that no small bits of grit or dirt accidentally get into the pitcher. Stir warm tea and sugar well so that all the sugar dissolves. Dilute with water to make up 2 quarts.

Note: This recipe makes a sweet strong tea that goes very well when served over crushed ice. This recipe will also make an agua de jamaica that is slightly stronger (and I think much tastier) than what is normally served in the local Mexican restaurants.

Well kids I'm gonna get off of here and go finish prepping for the party today. I've enjoyed our visit this morning and hope you join me again tomorrow for more fun and excitement... lots of party pics and more great ideas for everyday life! Until tomorrow... HUGS!



    I remember my sweet 16 party. it was only a few family friends but will never =remember it because I had a huge crush on their son and he kissed me by the refrigerator.....

    someone has to give her a sweet kiss too....


  2. Hello again

    i love the soap craft... i just finished something similar for my Christmas challenge...

    i also Loved that potholder idea from yesterday.. BUT i have never seen those kind of potholders??? have you?

    as for the pansies,,, I would press them :)

    keep those iseas coming ... i am enjoying all of them