Saturday, December 13, 2008

Save money on presents...focus on traditions instead!

What is the easiest way to save money during Christmas??? Buy less presents!!!!! But getting your friends, family, and especially your kids to buy off on this is a whole other story, right? Wrong! By starting a family tradition, your family will have more to look forward to then just what they are getting under the Christmas tree. Here is a few great ideas I read about in the Family Fun magazine this month:

Read a Holiday Story Each Night

What better way to invent a new tradition than to combine two old ones? In this case, we've melded the classic Advent calendar-- perennially popular with kids and adults--with another favorite family pastime: holiday reading. Begin by collecting a stack of holiday and winter books and picking a date to start reading (December 1 is an obvious choice). Choose a title for each night you'll be reading, and write each title on a scrap of paper. (For longer works like A Christmas Carol, select an individual chapter.) Then stash all your scraps in a jar, and at the appointed reading hour let each family member take a turn picking the night's literary fare (no peeking, please, to maintain that Advent calendar element of surprise). You can also take turns reading; preliterate family members get to choose a designated reader.

Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
• The New Testament
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Seven Candles For Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Inside-Out Grandma by Joan Rothenberg
How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Twelve Cats Of Christmas by Kandy Radzinski

And you might think this is still expensive b/c you have to buy te books, but really, I see books as an investment. Even then, there are many ways you can get them for cheap. My mom saved several of my favorite books from when I was a kid. I also started collecting books for my son before he was even born. Garage sales and ebay are also a great resource.

Making Christmas Day Memorable

Unique decorations, great games, time-saving tips, and unusual new traditions that make entertaining your friends and family a little more relaxing and a lot more fun.
Traditions With a Twist Of course, you're going to trim the tree or light a menorah together. But if you'd like to add a fresh new element to this year's festivities, here are some more unusual holiday traditions.

Wrapping Paper Battle - For the past decade, members of the Vagel family in St. Louis have been surreptitiously hoarding their wrapping paper as they open their Christmas gifts. Once the last present is unwrapped, the wadded-up paper volleys start flying, and it's all-out war. "If you get something that's wrapped in a lot of paper, don't use it all in one big wad. Make it into smaller pieces," suggests mom Dawn, adding that boxes and lids make great shields and even forts. Babies and breakable gifts should be moved out of the way, she advises, before any ammo is launched. The one rule? Everyone who participates in the fight participates in the cleanup.

Board Games for a Group - A rollicking good game can entertain generations for hours on end. Here are some of our favorite high-energy options for a crowd.

-Scattergories: In a race against a timer, players jot down words starting with a specific letter and belonging to certain categories -- vegetables, toys, and pizza toppings, for example (roll a p, and answers might be parsnips, pogo sticks, and pineapple). Players score points only for words not written down by anyone else. Milton Bradley, $30

-Bananagrams: This game is like a free-form version of Scrabble, with each player creating her own crossword. Plus, when picking tiles or using them up, you get to yell "Split!," "Peel!," and "Bananas!" Bananagrams, $15

-Catch Phrase: In this frenetic hot-potato guessing game, teams try to guess the answers to clues in categories ranging from entertainment to sports, passing the electronic game unit back and forth so that they're not stuck with it when the timer goes off. Parker Brothers, $25

-Pit: There's no sitting around and waiting in this raucous game, which everyone plays simultaneously while yelling at the top of their lungs. Based on commodity trading, Pit is like a no-holds-barred go fish, with everyone trying to corner the market. Winning Moves, $13

Entertaining Icebreakers - Want some parlor games with goofy appeal for all ages? Here are two icebreakers which are sure to get your guests into the action:

-Present Scramble: This game requires a bit of prep but is well worth the effort. Put a small prize (such as a $10 bill) in a small box, tape it well, and gift wrap it. Put the box in a bigger box, wrap that box and put it in another, and so on, wrapping it as many times as you have the boxes and the patience for. With everyone sitting in a circle, the youngest chooses a number from 1 through 6 and rolls a die, then passes the die to the next player. The first person to roll the chosen number puts on two oven mitts and tears into the present. The other players continue rolling the die. The next player who rolls the chosen number grabs the mitts and takes over the unwrapping. The person who unwraps the actual box with the prize gets to keep it.

-Wooden Spoon Guess Who: People who are very comfortable around each other can play a guffaw-inducing game with a couple of long-handled wooden spoons. After being blindfolded, one player has to guess the identity of another by touching that person with the spoons only. Meanwhile, the "touchee" tries not to crack up while being poked and prodded. The best part is a five-year-old can play it with a forty-five-year-old.

And for the Hostress of Christmas

This year, join in the fun instead of fretting about cooking and cleanup. Try these simple party-hosting solutions.

Play It Potluck - When you ask your guests to bring their favorite holiday desserts and appetizers, it lets them pitch in and can work as a great conversation starter. Place notecards and pens on the buffet and have your guests write down where their recipes came from, be it from a favorite cookbook or Great Aunt Doris.

Personalize Cups and Plates - Don't wash a million glasses or use an endless supply of paper plates. Instead, give guests inexpensive (but not disposable) plastic cups and plates they can decorate with permanent markers and rinse and reuse throughout the day. It's fun to do and good for the environment, and it saves people from drink confusion. Plus, they get to bring their creations home.

Load Up on Leftover Containers - In the weeks leading up to the holidays, buy new containers or save the biggest and best from packaged foods. When the party ends, pack up food for guests to take with them.

Let a Holiday Tablecloth Unfold Leave the good linens stowed. Cover the table instead with an inexpensive vinyl tablecloth topped by brown kraft paper. Mugs of crayons offer everyone the chance to create holiday designs and keep kids occupied between courses.

Foster Fun Feet - Place a basket filled with festive socks near your home's entry. Guests can ditch their shoes, get in the holiday spirit, and help keep your floors clean. Look for wild styles with holiday patterns or jingle bells and let everyone mix it up. Mismatched pairs should be encouraged!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yet a few more holiday baked gifts!

I just got done reading the December issue of the Family Fun magazine and just had to pass along a few great recipes for bread they printed. They also gave a few very cute ideas for packaging!
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips or raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1. Line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with waxed or parchment paper (or grease and flour it), then set it aside. Heat the oven to 350°.

2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and pumpkin.

3. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

4. With a wooden spoon, blend a third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then add half the milk. Alternate additions of the remaining flour mixture and the milk, blending well after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the center oven rack until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean (except for a little melted chocolate), about 50 to 60 minutes. 6. Remove the pan from the oven and put it on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and place it on the rack to finish cooling. Makes 10 servings.
Coconut Lemon Loaf

1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
Coconut-Lemon Glaze (optional)

1. Line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with waxed or parchment paper (or grease and flour it), then set it aside. Heat the oven to 350°.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted butter, oil, lemon zest, lemon extract, vanilla extract, and milk.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and the buttermilk until evenly blended. Set the bowl aside.

4. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir about a third of the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, then alternately add half of the remaining egg mixture and half of the flour mixture, stirring after each addition just enough to blend. Stir in the coconut.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Bake on the center oven rack until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and put it on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place it on the rack to finish cooling. When the loaf is completely cooled, in about two hours, apply the Coconut-Lemon Glaze, if using. Makes 10 servings.

Double Apple-Walnut Bread

1 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup peeled, cored, and finely diced apple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with waxed or parchment paper (or grease and flour it), then set it aside. Heat the oven to 350°.

2. Combine the applesauce, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Whisk well to blend.

3. In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make a well in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon and pour in the applesauce mixture. Stir just enough to combine; do not overmix. Fold in the apples and walnuts.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Evenly sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar over the top. Bake on the center oven rack until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and put it on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and place it on the rack to finish cooling. Makes 10 servings

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Personalized Gift Tags - Simple yet sophisticated, brown paper (cut from a roll or a paper bag) makes an earth-friendly and easy wrapper for a holiday quick bread. To dress it up, use a ribbon and a family photo tag. Make the tag by printing or trimming an image to size. Insert it in a metal scrapbooking rim (as shown), or glue the photo to a store-bought tag or circle of card stock. Cutting Board Keepsake - For a gift that keeps on giving, cover a loaf of quick bread in foil or parchment, then gift wrap. Put the loaf on an inexpensive cutting board and tie a pretty ribbon around the two.Seasonal Sampler - Instead of a single loaf, give friends slices of several quick breads. Wrap each slice in parchment, add a handwritten tag indicating the type, and package the slices together in a gift bag or bakery-style gift box.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nursery Inspiration!

So, I know, I know, we still have awhile, but this is going to be a busy winter with all of our upcoming remodeling projects. So I decided to start looking for some nursery inpiration.


Another homeade present.....cookie mix in a jar!

Cookie mixes in a jar is one of my favorite gifts to give and also one of my favorite gifts to recieve...and that's of all gifts, homeade or not. Every year I seem to get a new favorite cookie mix. They are also so easy to make (especially in bulk) and they can be decorated to look very professional. I suggest creating labels for them on Then just print out the directions on a piece of cardstock and tie it to the jar with a ribbon, and voila! Here's a few of my favorites I've made or recieved through the years:

Cranberry Hootycreeks

5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed.
Attach a tag with the following instructions: Cranberry Hootycreeks 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 2. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. 3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.

Brownie Mix in a Jar


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans


Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a quart jar. Layer remaining ingredients in the order listed. Press each layer firmly in place before adding the next layer. NOTE: Be sure to wipe out the inside of the jar with a dry paper towel after adding the cocoa powder, so the other layers will show through the glass.
Attach a tag with the following instructions: Brownie Mix in a Jar 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13inch baking pan. 2. Empty jar of brownie mix into a large mixing bowl, and stir to blend. Mix in 3/4 cup melted butter and 4 eggs. Mix thoroughly. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan. 3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely in pan before cutting into 2 inch squares.

Butterscotch Chip Cookies

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup high protein crisp rice and wheat cereal
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Layer the ingredients in the order given in a one quart wide mouth canning jar. Firmly pack each ingredient in place. It will be a tight fit, but all ingredients will fit in the jar. Use pinking shears to cut an 8 or 9 inch circle from gingham, calico, or a seasonal fabric. Place the fabric over the wide mouth lid and rim and secure with a rubber band. Tie on a raffia or ribbon bow to cover the rubber band. Attach a card to the ribbon or raffia with the following mixing and baking directions:
Empty jar of cookie mix into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of butter or margarine, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Use hands to mix the wet and dry ingredients together. When completely blended, roll into large walnut sized balls. Place on unprepared cookie sheets and use the palm of your hand to flatten each cookie ball. Bake at 350 in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homeade gifts on a budget!

With the economy the way it is this year, I thought I'd share some ideas for handmade Christmas gifts that will help you to stay in budget this year. And keep in mind, these presents don't take a crafty person. I am far from creative or crafty. I hope your family and friends enjoy these gifts as much as mine have in the past couple years!

1. Loaves of bread - This has been the most requested present from last year. I made a loaf of pumpkin bread for almost everyone we know. I like to bake the loaf of bread in disposable baking tins, then wrap them nicely. I also like to use a fun festive ribbon to bring it all together as well as a fun little tag I make out of matching scrapbook paper. Here is a link to the recipe I made:

2. Chocolate covered spoons for coffee lovers - I have several friends and family members who are HUGE coffee addicts. A great present for them is these chocolate covered spoons that turn any cup of coffee into a gourmet cup of joe instantly! This recipe can also be adapted for to use for snack foods such as cookies, pretzel rods, potato chips, or even dried fruit. Here is how I make them:

12 ounces Bakers chocolate (I prefer to use dark chocolate)
24 heavy spoons (I purchase 3 for $1 at the Dollar Tree)
4 ounces white chocolate chips
a couple drops of flavored coffee oils (our gourmet grocery store carries them) in flavors such as Peppermint, Amaretto, Hazelnut, etc.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth, stirring frequently. Add a few drops of coffee oil to taste. Dip the bowl of each spoon in the melted chocolate until covered on both sides. Tap the handle of the spoon against the side of the pan to remove excess chocolate. Place spoons on the waxed paper with the bowl side of the spoon facing up. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler until smooth, stirring frequently. Pour melted white chocolate into ziploc-type plastic bag. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag with scissors. Drizzle white chocolate on chocolate coated spoons back and forth. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Wrap each spoon in cellophane or plastic wrap in clear, colored, or patterned. Tie with ribbon or raffia. Add tags stating the flavor. Add a couple of spoons to a nice Christmas mug that was purchased after Christmas the year before for $.50.

3. Handmade scarf - My mom always asks for a new scarf every year. Obviously, finding one she likes is not only time consuming, but expensive too. I came across Martha Stewart's no knit scarf and made it for my mom last year. She loved it! Here's the directions:

Cut 12 pieces of bulky-weight yarn to about 1 1/2 times the desired length of the final scarf. (We used 140-inch pieces to make an 86-inch scarf.) Divide yarn into 4 bunches of 3 strands each. Tie 2 bunches together with a square knot, leaving 6 inches of fringe at end; repeat with remaining bunches. Pin the knots to a piece of foam board. Knot inner 2 bunches of yarn together, spacing knot about 1 inch from existing knots, then knot left and right bunches together. Alternate knotting the inner bunches and the left and right ones, spacing knots evenly apart, until about 6 inches of yarn remain on the end. Finish so that final knots mirror opposite end, and trim to even the ends.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Shopping on a Budget!

Every year Christmas comes around and every year people the heck am I going to afford this?!?!?! Well, I wanted to share with you how we shop on a budget each year and don't stress over the money part. It gives us a lot more time to enjoy rather than worry about how we're going to pay for it all come January!

1. Start early! If you are reading this now and havn't started, then it's probably a little too late to get the best deals, but you'll still do fine. But for next year, try to start early. Keep a "gift closet" in your house and as you find things on sale through the year, put them in your gift closet. Examples of this include an Ohio State Hoodd Sweatshirt we found at Finish Line in July for only $15! We got an XL for Todd, and a XXL for his brother Bobby. The best part about it, Todd will even forget we got it until we open it!

2. Have a budget for every family member. I start a list in July and choose a dollar amount for each person. We usually do $100 for each parent. $50 for each sibling. $50 for each niece or nephew. We also do gift exchanges to save money. We now have gift exchanges with Todd's family and my dad's side of the family. When we get together with the family in the summer, I make sure everyone draws names for the Christmas exchange. We then add up the dollar amount we plan to spend on each person and decide in July how much we need to save per month.

3. Subscribe to your local paper, at least the Sunday edition. Every Sunday, I run out to get my paper in hopes of deal shopping. I look for gift ideas through the items that are on sale. Not only does it help me think of gifts, but it also helps me identify them when they are on sale.

4. Use online resources to find the best deal. There are tons of websites that compare prices like or or even that have some really great deals! Use these to your advantage!

5. Don't underestimate the Dollar Tree! This is a great place for stocking stuffers as well as Christmas decorations. I've found some items that are selling for as much as $10 at other stores!

6. Refuse to pay full price for anything. If you plan ahead, everything will go on sale at least once between July and Christmas. Look for coupon codes online, coupons in the mail, and/or sales!

7. Handmade presents are just as good as presents bought from a store! I'm not exactly the most crafty person on Earth, so I make food gifts to supplment smaller gifts I buy. I've given homeade hot cocoa mix, homeade beef jerky, homeade dog treats, homeade pictures frames, homemade frozen meals for my grandmothers who live alone. There are tons of ideas out there for things to make, just put on your thinking cap and you can find directions for almost anything on the internet!

8. And most importantly, Christmas shopping does not end on Christmas's just beginning! The best time to buy decorations, presents, craft items, etc is after Christmas!

Morning sickness sucks!

Surprise, this is the reason for my being absent from posting......I'm pregnant! As of today, I'm 12 wks, 6 days and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the morning sickness has finally subsided! If it was only morning sickness, it might not be all that bad, but the fact that it's all day morning sickness, which is especially bad at night, makes it almost unbearable! Anyway, I'll be sure to find some interesting things to blog about from here on out. PS - Our offer did not get accepted for the house in case you kept checking back about it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tomorrow we find out...

...if we got our offer accepted on our first invesment property! We're currently remodeling our second house and we're only 24 and 25. My parent's have remodeled over 20 houses since they were married 30 years ago. Niehter of us have ever lost on a house and frankly, we've both done pretty good so far. So Todd has 3 months off every winter and my dad is wanting to retire but doesn't know what he's going to do in retirement, so we've always taked about "flipping" houses or buying rentals near our Air Force Base, Wright Patt. Well, we actually kind of fell into our first potential flip. My mom, who's a realtor, showed my brother in law, Ryan, a house about a mile from our current house. He liked it because it had 4.5 garages total (2 attached and 2.5 detached) and also had three bedrooms and 2 full baths. Well, she showed it to him but it's a little out of his price range, but my dad was like, this is a great deal. He ended up talking Todd into going in with him on it in the hopes they could get all the work done between Jan and March mainly and finis up in April and May and ready to put on the market come May/June time frame. It really doesnt need a ton though. We offered $110K cash and they were asking $124,900. We do know they have two other offers, but the realtor said it was not other cash offers which of course the bank likes. Anyway, we think we can finish it for $10K-$15K tops, carrying costs of about $5K-$10K tops, and sell it for $180K-$190K. The market in our area really hasn't slowed down much. The average days on market (DOM) has slumped from about 45 to 65, but still not too bad. Anyway, here's a few pictures:

Front of the house. It just needs a fresh coat of paint and the landscaping cut WAY back. The roof is only two years old. You also can't tell from the picture well, but the driveway and paver walkway are less than 2 years old!

Picture of family room. The french door could stand to be replaced and the deck needs restained. The fireplace needs cleaned up and some new doors, but other than than, just some paint and carpet/wood floors and it'll be good to go. The whole house was re-dry walled by the guy who lost the house. He did a really good job too, so everything just has two coats of primer paint. Oh yeah, we'll need new baseboards in just the family room. They were left in tact everyhwhere else.

And this is the kitchen. The cabinets are not in horrible shape (probably can sell on criagslist for at least $200!) but we think we better put new ones in just to look updated. We're also going with Corian countertops, tile flooring and of course we'll need to get a matching black fridge and over to match the 3 yr old dishwasher and microwave.
So overall, it's really not a bad house. The guy who lost it had a loan on it for $220K, so I'm surprised they are even asking $124,900. We're supposed to find out by noon tomorrow if our offer was accepted. We'll see...

Our budget vacation!

So finally, some actual real vacation pictures taken by me and not some I found on google images! Anyway, I'm so excited to share with you pictures of Blue Mountain Beach which is in Santa Rosa Beach, just 30 miles east of the ever popular Destin, FL and 30 miles west of the spring break hot-spot Panama City Beach, FL. So here they are:

View from our balcony...

And just 80 ft from our front door......HEAVEN! These pictures are not edited, frankly, because I don't know how. This water is truely beautiful here and the pictures don't even do it justice!

Lots of DIY ideas!

So, I mentioned on a past post that I found a ton of cool tings on vacation I would have loved to have bought, however, I just couldn't justify paying the price they were asking. SOOOO, I thought I'd share some of the ideas here in case I don't get to making (and hence following through) on all the great DIY ideas I found. Anyway, here are some of the great ideas I found:

To your right is a Halloween tree with Halloween ornaments. The tree was handcrafted (not sure from what though) and spray painted black. The ornaments were made out of dried, hallowed out mini gourds. The gourds were then painted black and hung on the tree with a little piece of srting. $240 didn't justfy my buying it when I'm sure it could be made for $30 or under!

Here are a few examples of their pumpkin decorations. They had some realy cool metal additions that you added to a pumpkin to make ti anything from a sprider, to a cat, to a witch to a devil. But at a price tag of $60-$80 per "kit" I'd rather just carve a pumpkin and deal with the mess. Regardless, I think this would be prety easy to make out of sheet metal if someone had the tools. Great idea though and something different than the norm.

Here was a really cool table I saw. Of course, they wanted $350 for it, but I thought.....perfect DIY! I'm sure you could find a similar table either new for about $50-$100 or used even for maybe $10 or less. Then if you look at the corner part of the river rock, you can tell it's just a piece of pre-fabricated river rock section from someplace like Lowes or Home Depot probably costing $10-$15 for a piece. Just glue that baby on there and you're good to go. It just gives it such a nice outdoorsy feeling in my opinion!

And this was the final piece I wanted from this nursery/garden store we stopped at. Yes, $775 for this!!!!! It would look so neat hanging on the wall outside during a 4th of July party, but not for that price. Pretty simple DIY though. All it is is a few old baseboards, painted red and white, and blue in the corner. And then take a few metal stars that have been weathered and hot glue them to the corner. Voila! Now that could be done for about $25 or less if you're tearing out old baseboards anyway!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Can't wait to share

We just got back from the coolest little nursery on vacation. We first pulled over because we saw these very cool pumpkin planters that were only $8! That was the only good deal in the place though. After getting out to look at the rest of the cool things they had, I noticed the prices! $495 for a American Flag made out of old molding?!?!?!?! But really, it gave me some very cool ideas for DIY crafts. Soooo.....I took a ton of pictures and I can't wait to share. Among them are a spooky tree with ghosts made out of gourds, pumpkin stands that look like a witch and cat, the American Flag I mentioned and a fish coat rach type thing. to come as soon as we return!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Darn it!

We currently our vacationing in Blue Mountain Beach, FL with our son, Todd's parents, and my parents. I brought along my camera so I could get a ton of pictures. I've taken almost 400 pictures in the two days we're been here. So I went to download my pictures onto my laptop and realized......darn it......I forgot the USB cord to connect the laptop to the camera! Errrrr.......

So, while I was eager to share pictures of the sunset I took, pictures of Luke going crazy on the beach, and pictures of our beautiful hotel, I'll just have to share some beautiful photos I got from the internet. Keep posted for my own version:

Recharging Stations?

I love the idea of recharging stations for desk areas. We have so many different items now a days that constantly need charged, but to keep them in one spot is just a nightmare. What an eyesore to see on your desk? But buying something like the Recharging Station from Pottery Barn just seems ridiculous to me. Talk about expensive organization!
So I racked my brain for an easier solution, but lining them up nicely across my office desk just wsn't working. Finally, I saw an episode on HGTV I believe, where a family of six (all of driving age) was having a major problem keeping everything organized. They made them a recharging station/place to keep all their keys out of a entry way cabinet. So, when we remodeled our entry way, I knew I wanted a cabinet with drawers instead of just a table. We then just easily drilled a whole in the back of the cabinet and the back of the drawer to slide the chargers through. It works great for us.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Whole New Look!

Just wanted to point out the new banner for my blog! A great Nestie, GreeyPie custom made it for me. Isn't she AWSOME! Be sure to check out her awsome photography (or get a customer banner of your own) from

Monday, September 22, 2008

Deal of the Week...

Sorry I have been neglecting my new blog the past couple days. Things have still been pretty hectic with the aftermath of the storm from last Sunday. My in-laws finally got power Saturday night though, so no more entertaining them each night, feeding them, and doing their laundry! Yeah!

Anyhow, as if I didn't have enough going on, I still found time to shop! Here are a few of my favorite finds of the week:

This was the biggest deal of the week by a long shot. As I posted before, we recently got a new buffet in the dining room. I really had no clue what we were going to put in the empty space above it and I was afriad to even ask if I could purchase a $200 mirror or piece of art work. So it continued to be blank. While I was getting new toothbrushes on our weekly grocery trip to Meijer, Todd started wondering around. He comes back with this great mirror and says, "Hun, what do you think of this? I thought it would go well over the buffet table and it's on clearence for only $15!" This my friends was shocker to me that one, he's giving decorating advice to me, and two, that he even mentioned it to me. But then again, this is why I married the man. Always keeping me guessing. Anyway, this is our new $15 mirror.

This is also a cheap piece of "art" I put together this weekend. I already had these picture frames hanging above our couch in the family room, but I'm waiting to get prints for Christmas. So I decided to decorate them for fall. I just took some scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby ($.59 each) and a fake leaf from Hobby Lobby ($2.99 for about 40) and put it in the frame. Looks pretty good huh?

And last, but not least I want to share with you my favorite Dollar Tree Deal of all time (aside from my pregnancy test that gave me a positive reading on the first try)....

For $1 I got a pack of 12 spooky looking lables. So I took a few bottles we had around the house in various colors and stuck the lables on them. They look great as a Haloween decoration on the buffet table and only cost a fraction of a dollar since I still have 9 left!

Anyway....check back tomorrow for pictures of the goods I got at the Mom's Market two weekends ago. I only went for a few things and came back with two garbage bags full for $80! Not exactly being "thrifty" but it was fun. Plus, I justify it by thinking I'll be able to sell the clothes for the same price I paid for them....Anyway, keep posted!