Connect Menu


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ways to Save Money Part 3

Final post in the series of Ways to Save Money is here! Until I come up with more tips that is... but I think I've exhausted my money saving expertise for now and 30 tips total sounds like a nice round number :)

In case you missed them, here are the links to the other 2 sessions.
Ways to Save Money Part 1
Ways to Save Money Part 2

Ways to Save Money {Part 3}
1. Plant a garden. Veggies you use a lot make the most sense but also see what grows well in your area. Herbs are always great to try! See if you can even make trades with other garden growers!

1st attempt at a garden

2. Redbox it. Yep we use the word rebox as a verb. You can't beat $1 a day with those things (especially with how ridiculously expensive the movie theater is) and the ability to search for and reserve your movie online if you wish.

3. Receive Groupon and other daily deals in your email. Recently we bought a deal for a restaurant we like that was pay $20 for a value of $40. Just don't be tempted by something you aren't sure you would really use.

4. Search for free events. Many cities have a calendar of events with some free activities so take advantage of those such as free concerts, festivals, movie in the park, etc.

5. Don't pay for a newspaper. You can read most any news online and get coupons there too.

6. Don't pay for a house phone. It seems so unnecessary these days as most everyone has a cell phone and that is where you can be reached best anyhow. Just use that as your primary phone.

7. Make gifts or part of a gift. There are so many great crafts out there that are easy to do and don't require a special skill or machine. Most people love receiving something homemade as part of a gift since it is meaningful.

8. Be a DIYer! Before you pay someone else to do it or buy it, see if you can do it reasonably yourself for less. Painting, putting in new fixtures, and building shelves are great examples and being a DIYer is kinda fun too!

backyard DIY deck

9. Get a programmable thermostat. This has been a save for us as you can set temperature at different times and days. It is wonderful to be able to set the heat or air to come on right before we get home or to have it change temps in the middle of the night.

And last but not least...

10. Share. What goes around comes back around right... or at least that what we all hope regarding nasty ex-boyfriends and those that cut us off in line. Haha! Maybe you have some maternity clothes, toys, or something you can lend to someone else while you can't use it and they can. I remember getting my cousin's dollhouse as a kid since she was about 10 years older and then when I was too old, it went back to her to one day use for her kids!

Of course all of these tips are just my opinion and may not work for everyone. If yall have some fun tips to share leave a comment... I'd love to hear 'em!

Linking up to these parties:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Just because hubby and I are not eating desserts for Lent, doesn't mean I can't share one with yall right?!

I made these Chocolate Whoopie Pies awhile back (before Lent that is) for one of our weekly dinners with Brooke. I found the recipe on a site called Eat Better America. The BEST part is that each one is only 100 calories!! So you don't feel bad about eating one or two or...

Chocolate Whoopie Pies
from Eat Better America, makes 16 pies

1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 egg white
1/2 cup 1% milk
3/4 cup marshmellow creme

Heat oven to 425. In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl beat sugar, butter, and egg white for 2 min or until fluffy. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in milk until just blended. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto large ungreased baking sheets. You will need 32 drops of dough. Bake 5 min or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely on rack. Spoon marshmellow creme onto bottom of 16 cookies and top with remaining 16.

I actually halved the recipe when I made it... let me tell you I had to get quite creative to use 1/2 an egg white (don't ask). Might be easier to not try to cut it in half. The marshmellow creme applying step is very sticky!

mmm oozing marshmellow

I have tried a few recipes from that website before but never a dessert one so I was pleased with the results. These were quick and easy to make and very light tasting. Everyone enjoyed them! Let me know if you try them out! Next time I might add a few mini chocolate chips around the outside of the marshmellow layer. YUM!

Linking up to these parties:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recipe Scrapbook

We did a Recipe Scrapbook for my sister and gave it to her at her Bachelorette Party. I had participated in one of these before for a friend and then I got one as part of my bachelorette party and I LOVE it! It is a wonderful special but low cost {thrifty} gift.

Here is how it can be organized if you are doing this as a group gift for a shower/party.

1. Contact the invitees and let them know you are planning a recipe scrapbook where everyone will decorate a page or 2 with recipe(s). If they don't participate a cooking curse will fall upon their house.

2. Send everyone a piece of cardstock, blank index cards, and specify if the page should be horizontal or vertical so they all match. They can decorate with photos, stickers, magazine clippings, whatever suits their fancy. I told everyone they didn't have to use the cardstock and index cards I sent if they had other paper they wanted to use.

3. Arrange a way to get the pages back from them or have everyone bring them to the event.

4. Buy a scrapbook with enough page protectors. I went with 8 1/2 x 11 size for the paper I sent and the scrapbook because that was the size of mine and it fits well on the shelf.

I wanted to show yall some example pages that I did for my sister and some from my recipe scrapbook.

I made the first/intro page with no recipes on it and made it bride centric since this was for a bachelorette party. The picture of her singing and sweeping is from a school play and it fit well with a marriage/domestic funny line above.

Here are 2 recipe pages I did for her. It's nice to use family favorite type recipes or some of your go-to recipes. One of the recipes I gave my sister is Pumpkin Crunch given to me by my SIL and it's a holiday favorite! The paper, stickers, words, and scrapbook (use a 40% coupon) came from Michael's.

Here are a few more examples from my spectacular recipe scrapbook. My girls did such a great job on mine :)

So as you can see, people can really get creative with it and add their own touches. You could even make one all by yourself for someone as a gift if you have a lot of fun recipes to share but I kinda like it as a group effort. Makes it more diverse :) I know it is something I will keep forever and cherish and hopefully my sister will too!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Atlanta Bachelorette Party and baby Taylor

A couple weeks back I threw my sister a bachelorette party in Atlanta (or Hotlanta as many call it). Atlanta is definitely not one of my fave places to go... I think it is too trafficy, crowded and kinda dirty but it was a good location for the party since my sister and most of the people attending live within a couple hours of it and it is a bigger city.

I am happy to share exactly what I planned with you since I researched like crazy for ideas of a fun and fairly low key bachelorette at my sister's request. Let me tell you that figuring something like this out in a city you don't live in or know much about can be difficult.

We decided on the Buckhead area of Atlanta. I booked a 2 bedroom/2 bath suite at the Holiday Inn Express which was no Ritz but a very good value and had a living room/kitchen area. I thought it was just fine for our puposes. I decorated the suite with some fun bachelorette decor!

There were bead necklaces for the girls attending to wear.

All the girls arrived around 5pm or so to get ready to go out for dinner. My sister picked one of those family run dirt cheap mexican places.... a girl after my own heart!

the bachelorette

Here we all are at El Azteca. Remembering back to my spanish class days I was pretty sure it should be La Azteca but may be I have spent too much time away from spanish... anyway.... the fajita quesadilla is delish.

Then we went back to the hotel for a bit where we presented my sister with a gift. A RECIPE SCRAPBOOK! I'll do a seperate post on that baby. Then we made sure we were all ready to go out to a few bars.

I had looked these up ahead of time and knew we were within 1/2 mile of a couple of bars... Moondogs, Peachtree Tavern (you won't get out of Atlanta without running across something named Peachtree), and some other place. My plan was for us to walk to the bars but Hotlanta was not so hot and was rather cool and rainy so I was the driver. I parked us at the Trader Joes (grocery store right near the bars) for $10 but there was no cover charge at the bars at least.

The girls had a great time at the bars... we pretty much spent the whole time at Moondogs dancing and such and the music was like top hits... great for getting your dance on for hours!

Everyone made it back in one piece and only 1 person fell down in the bar but who's counting? So I consider that a SUCCESS!

Then on my drive back to Charlotte the next day, I stopped in Greenville to see baby Taylor! My friend Brooke H. had a baby girl in December and I had yet to see her new little family. I previously posted about her homemade baby gift.

Brooke and Taylor

Taylor had gotten so big and it was so fun to see her making faces and taking in her surroundings. I can't wait to visit them again and see her grow!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

baby Jovie and her gift

Our friends Jeremy and Holly had baby #2 - a little baby girl a few weeks ago! And by little I mean she was only 4 lbs 13 oz and about 1 month early but thank the Lord everything was fine and she did not go to the NICU or anything.

We went by to see her last weekend when she was just 2 weeks old. I had never seen or held a baby so tiny and she was just so sweet! She didn't really open her eyes much yet so I am excited for the next time we visit to see how much she changes in just a short amount of time.

How precious is she? I love her little polka dot sleeper :)

Another purpose of our visit was to give them Jovie's gift. I got a sewing machine for Christmas and so during that time, my mom and I made a bib and shoes for Jovie. I know this sounds quite ambitious for a first time sewer but my mom has mad skills so she helped with some of the harder parts. I found the patterns for free online and knew that was exactly what I wanted to make... the bib was from Homemade by Jill and I cannot remember where I found the shoes but if you google kimono baby shoes free pattern then I'm sure you will find them.

The inside of the shoes matches the back of the bib and the button on the bib is just for looks - it really closes using velcro. I think they turned out pretty darn cute!

I also made Jovie 2 onesies using my Silhouette heat transfer material in purple and in pink. And 1 onesie using the freezer paper stenciling technique using paint- the cupcake one.

My favorite one is the owl because if Jovie is anything like her dad, she is going to be quite hilarious. If you knew Jeremy then you would know exactly what I mean.

I just love doing homemade gifts!! Oh and it was all wrapped up in this adorable cupcake gift bag from the good ole Target dollar aisle.

We also gave them 2 loaves of Friendship Bread (also called amish bread or friendship chain bread)! I love that stuff and it always makes great gifts. I would give you the recipe but you have to have the "starter" in a ziploc bag given to you - hence the friendship chain name. Sounds strange but if you know anyone that makes this stuff you should get a starter from them and try it!

Congrats to Jeremy and Holly!!

Linking up to these parties:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli

Are you ready for another crock pot recipe? Of course you are! I found this here at Crockpot 365 - a blog with a year's worth of crock pot recipes! I'm impressed by that undertaking and luckily we get to reap the benefits!

Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli Recipe (slightly adapted)
makes 8-10 servings depending on what else you serve with it

1.3 lb ground turkey (1 package), browned and drained
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 cup or so carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes, not drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups fat free beef broth
16.5 oz pasta sauce
2 tsp oregano
1 Tbs tabasco
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup dry pasta (I used elbow noodles I had on hand)


(Use a large crockpot or reduce the recipe) Put carrots, celery, and onions in crockpot. Add beans, tomatoes, and pasta sauce. Add beef broth, tabasco (don't worry it doesn't make it spicy), and seasonings. Stir in cooked turkey. Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4). When veggies are tender, add pasta and cook another hour on low. Serve and enjoy!

Tip: Before adding the pasta to the crock pot, I like to take out soup servings for the freezer and then add the respective portion of noodles for the soup left. I have found that noodles do not do well in soups after frozen. Later when you eat the leftovers from the freezer, just cook up some noodles on the stove and add to the soup.

If you know me or have been reading previous posts then you know how much I love cheese! I had some shredded mozzarella and hubby had some parmesan on top. You could serve with salad too or rolls. Perhaps some 3 ingredient rolls!

Yum! We really enjoyed it and liked having another recipe using ground turkey. Many of the other ingredients we had on hand which goes back to my sessions on Ways To Save Money. We will definitely be eating this again, especially since there are some servings stashed in our freezer haha!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pitcher redo

I grabbed this pitcher for a few bucks at our goodwill. I mut have been really anxious to paint it because I forgot to take a before picture but it had some ugly flowers on it. So I spray primed it.

Then I spray painted it with a few coats of antique white rustoleum. But it actually didn't stick very well. It bubbled in places and kinda cracked in a few other places. So I had it in my garage while I figured out what i was going to do. I was hand painting primer on another project when I decided I would just slap some on the pitcher.

And I actually liked the result. You could see some brushstrokes and it wasn't perfect but at least it covered well and there weren't bubbles or cracks. It is a little antique-ish looking and rustic which is fine by me :)

I picked up some blue hydrangeas at Michael's and I already had some long green grass looking stuff to fill it with. I stuffed some plastic bags in there to get the arrangement positioned like I wanted it and it worked like a charm!

I think it looks fabulous on hubby's dresser!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ways to Save Money Part 2

Here is the next session of how to keep cash in your pocket (or on your credit/debit card - who uses cash that much these days anyway?)

Ways to Save Money Part 1 in case you missed it.

Ways to Save Money {Part 2}

1. Cut coupons. I know some people say this is a waste of time but it doesn't take very long. I get mine from,, and and Target has some online too. The key to saving with coupons is to only print and cut coupons for things that you already buy. DO NOT be tempted to spend money on something you don't usually buy just because you found a coupon. These sites change out their coupons each month but you can print a few within a month if it is something you buy a lot of - we do that with the cereal coupons.

2. Ask yourself "do I really need/want this?" and "will I get my money's worth out of it?" for non-essentials and bigger items. Like will you really wear it/ use it/ watch it enough to pay the price or are you fine without it. Sometimes it helps to walk away and think about it again for a couple of days... may be you will decide you you don't want it as much as you thought.

I once thought I wanted one of these but after thinking it through, I didn't really want it.

3. Research it. For bigger items you do decide to buy, do your homework on where the cheapest place is to purchase the item.

4. Shop at goodwill, thrift stores, and craigslist. They are great places to find decor items or things you can turn into decor like 
this and this. Never buy a vase or vase filler items again - go to goodwill and the dollar store. You can find some great furniture on CL but you have to be a very patient shopper on there.

5. Shop the sales or clearance if you can. A place I like to frequent for work clothes etc. is Banana Republic Outlet. I never shop at the regular BR because I know those clothes will end up cheaper in the outlet and I am okay to wait for it. Marshalls/HomeGoods is also a great place that has marked down shoes, clothes, housewares, and more.
collage items mainly from HomeGoods

6. Buy books at goodwill and thrift stores. They are between 50 cents and $1.50 for paperback and hardback. Or check book out at the library for FREE! A couple months ago I found The Shack (a current bestseller and AMAZING must read!) at goodwill and it looked brand new. I didn't read it right away because I had a few other books to read first so I lent it to my SIL which brings me to the next item.

7. Swap books with friends. I am always swapping books around with friends and family so that means less books to buy and plus it's a great way for books to be recommended to you.

8. Reuse Ziplocs. For lunch, I pack a sandwich wrapped in a paper towel in a ziploc and I use that same ziploc the rest of the days that week to put another wrapped sandwich in. Same thing with crackers etc. I don't even have to wash them. No need to waste ziplocs each day (and spend more $). For some larger ziplocs/freezer bags, we will wash them and reuse them. Just do not reuse ones with meats in them.

9. Repurpose containers. I have washed and saved lunch meat containers to use as tupperware or storage later, filled old glass sauce jars with decorations, and the like. The Hilshire lunch meat ones are wonderful to organize drawers.

10. Upcycle clothes that you don't wear. See if you can use the fabric from them in your next sewing or craft project.

Snap on rosettes

Hope you enjoyed these tips! Stay tuned for another session!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Framed Embroidery

If you have an embroidery machine take a look at these!

How cute right? If you hadn't guessed my talented godmother made these and sent them to me as a birthday gift back in January.

We had these two out in the living room for our birthdays and for valentines day.

This one is probably my favorite and right now it's in the guest room. I am contemplating bringing it into work and putting it in my cube for a little fun decor :)

I think the possibilities with this are endless! And now I wish I had an embroidery machine too haha.... but I must stick with my sewing machine for now.... one machine at a time!

Linking up to these parties:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...