Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Work Your Wallet Wednesday: First Ever!

Hey everybody!

I hope you're all ready to show off your bargain finds! This weekend I was able to hit up a high school rummage sale and also found two things at the opening weekend of our local flea market. I though I'd show you a few things I found:

This $2 picture was exactly what I've been looking for - a good sized frame and a flat print behind it - there is a chalkboard menu in my near future! :)

I have been looking for a cheese dome and this one is in perfect condition for $2:

This good-quality shelf came with 2 picture frames for $2. Tag on the back says $24.99.

I've been looking for another tablecloth and this one was perfect for $1.

I don't have an electric skillet and this one was only $2 - the design is a little old-school but it works just fine.

And one of my most exciting finds was a hard-cover Suzanne Somers book for $1 since I just started the diet! Retail price is $25.00 - score!

Our local flea market opened this weekend and it wasn't nearly as busy or full as normal, probably because it was overcast and freezing. I did pick up this little apothecary jar for $.25 - I think that makes my total up to 7 now - I love these things!

I also found this little "Love" sign for $1 - obviously needs to be painted but I'm thinking maybe mod-podged, tea-stained sheet music? (My husband and I are both musicians).

Not bad for $11.25!

Okay, now it's YOUR turn!
I'm so excited to see what you all have been shopping for lately!

Please check out this post if you'd like more info on Work Your Wallet Wednesday.
Otherwise, let's get on with the party!

Please remember the three simple rules for participating:

1. Your finds must be $50 or less (per item) and in an unaltered state.

2. Please link back to this party somewhere in your blog
so others know where to join in if they'd like -
feel free to use the button if you want to!

3. Make sure you link up to your specific post rather than your blog in general.
This makes it so much easier for others to find your entry!
(If you're not sure how to do this, check out comment #1.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter, Fatty Food, TMI and a Rummage Sale

I really have nothing super important to say today, so I figured what the heck I'll just mash all of my random thoughts into one blog post! :)

I have seen so many cute photo shoots with little girls in their Easter dresses and gloves, but just wanted to know what any of you moms of boys do with your little guys for Easter. Luke has an Easter outfit and obviously we'll take pictures of him in that, but is it mean to make him pose with some stuffed chicks and bunnies and carrots? (I found some reallllly cute ones.) Will he hate me forever?! More importantly, will my husband hate me forever?! lol

Fatty Food:

I recently started Somersizing (the Suzanne Somers "diet"). Weight Watchers was wonderful to help me get rid of my baby weight, but I have totally plateaued and I knew I needed to kick my metabolism back into high gear. I don't have the time to explain the system here right now, but suffice it so say that you can eat fat - and plenty of it. I have been so afraid of fats for such a long time that I think it is a bit of a shock to my system right now! I have been burping like a sailor! hahaha (That's the TMI part. ;)

Rummage Sale:
I went to a fab rummage sale on Saturday at one of the local high schools. I found some really fun items that I can't wait to show you THIS WEDNESDAY at the party! If you're new here, here's a link to what the party's all about! I hope some of you will join me - I love, love, love seeing what other people find for cheap!

See you Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ballard-Inspired Grass: The $5 Challenge

Lindsay, of the fabulous blog Living With Lindsay, is hosting a "5 Dollar Challenge" on her blog. The mission? To create Spring decor using only $5 worth of materials from the Dollar Tree.

I left for the Dollar Store with several ideas in my head, but I hadn't been to the Dollar Tree in months so I had to look around for a while to see what my options were. I put a bunch of stuff in my cart, waiting for inspiration to hit. As I went by the fake flowers, I noticed "Onion Grass" (chives to me!) in the selection. *Ding - light bulb! :)

I immediately remembered this picture from the Ballard Designs March catalog:

Notice the onion-grass display on the table? It's not even for sale (that I know of), but I circled it immediately because I knew that was something I eventually wanted to attempt. (I'm not even gonna try to pretend that mine looks as good as theirs, but I only had the Dollar Tree to work with, remember!) J

I picked up two packages of onion grass (the last two they had), a square floral foam, and.....
confectioner's sugar.

That's right! I searched every aisle of that store for a low, rectangular container and could.not.find one. I really wanted the project to have angles and not be in a round container. You should have seen me in there, holding up my onion grass to all sorts of different shaped boxes, trying to make it work. I'm sure the employees thought I was bonkers.

To complete this project, I also used burlap (left over from this and these) and a scrap piece of ribbon I had that was wrapped around my box of Target baby-shower thank you cards (I always save ribbon I like - you never know when it will come in handy!).

I cut the top of the box, took the sugar out, and painted it a uniform shade of brown (it's not the shade that matters; I just didn't want bright yellow and blue showing through the burlap). The next few pictures are kinda yellowy because they were taken during Mommy's happy hour(s) - Luke's bedtime! :)

I also took some of the cut-out cardboard and used it to bulk up the sides.

Once it dried, I simply tucked and folded the burlap in and hot-glued it.

In process (it's not supposed to look pretty inside!):

One of the tucked in sides:

Here's what it looks like when finished:

I waited until after this point to cut the floral foam, since I didn't know how much fabric would be on the inside, bulking up the box.

Once I had cut the floral foam to size, I started snipping off about 2 or 3 inch sections of grass to insert. Since the grass is not very wide on its own, it really helps to insert several pieces at the same time so that you can ensure that it will stay.

Here's what it looks like when you start:

Here's how it looks after one stalk was in:

And in its finished state. I hot-glued the ribbon around it for a little something extra.
I thought about trimming the grass to the same length,
but I decided that I liked the natural look.

And there you go! Ballard-inspired grass for only FOUR dollars!

Check out Lindsay's blog for other $5 inspiration! J

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's a brand-new party, and you're *ALL* invited!

So, here’s the deal.

I love to find a great deal on something, and then I love to talk about it (my poor husband! haha). Every girl loves to show off a bargain, right? But there have been so many times I’ve purchased something and found that there’s no blog party that fits the description for me to showcase it in. There’s plenty of craft parties, recipe parties, even yard-sale parties. There’s frugal parties, sure, but you can only show house finds or groceries.

There’s no one party to showcase anything you find on the cheap.

Enter….me! J

Next week, on March 31st,

I’m going to be hosting a weekly party called:

(Don’t you love the alliteration?!

I’m a teacher and some habits just die hard. Or don’t die at all…)

I want each and every one of you to come!
(I’ll even let you bring a plus one and you don’t have to RSVP ;).

You can show ANYTHING you want,
as long as you’ve bought it for $50 or less.

(I’m operating on a tight budget these days and trying to make the most of our income, and I’m willing to bet that most of you are, too. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when people show off their “bargain” finds that were $500 and more, I get a little bit jealous. I’m striving for financial contentment, which is why there’s a limit on your purchase price).

Think of this party as a bunch of vitual girlfriends to show your great deals to!

Find a fabulous pair of earrings from Old Navy on clearance? Show it here.
Shop at CVS and get all of your household items for free? This is the place!
Find a bunch of cute stuff for your kids at Goodwill? Absolutely.
An adorable purse or set of note cards on clearance from Marshalls? You bet!

Do you get the idea?

Any purchase goes, as long as it was a bargain in some way

and cost you less than $50.

Groceries, TJ Maxx, yard sales, Walgreens, Craigslist, Goodwill – it is ALL OKAY!

I do want to add that this IS NOT a DIY party – purely thrifty purchases. If you buy something at a yard sale, great! If you paint it and replace the knobs, well, save it for another party or I will have to delete it (and that’s no fun!).

I know that lots of you are amazing bargain hunters and find some fabulous items on a weekly basis. I figured that by hosting the party on Wednesdays, it gives you all some time to jump on a great deal if it's applicable to you and your area of the country.

(Oh, and if you don’t have a blog but want to share,
you’ll be able to do that in the comments – or send me a picture and I’ll feature you!)

So will you join me?? Pretty, pretty please?

I promise there will be great food and lots of dancing.

Okay so I can’t really promise that, but I can GUARANTEE you the company will be nice!

Let me know if you think you’re in! And remember, MARCH 31ST - save the date! J

Friday, March 19, 2010

And the Winner Is...

#8 {again!} - Becky McCoy!

She said, "And I blogged about the giveaway!"

I actually know Becky IRL, so I am happy that she won. :)

Becky, leave a comment letting me know what prize option you'd like and then I'll get your address from you via Facebook.

A big thank-you to Darlene for hosting this giveaway.

Have a great weekend, everybody - it's beautiful here in PA and I hope you all have nice weather,too!

Come back on Monday for the scoop on the new blog party I'm starting up on March 31st!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Topiary For All Seasons

I'm sure you've seen topiaries in a bunch of catalogs and stores lately. Well, I have been holding onto a mini urn since TWO Christmases ago! It was $1.99 at Goodwill, and then 60% off, so....$.80, right? My math skills are pretty outstanding. Don't be jealous.

I've been staring at it in my project box all this time, just knowing I could transform it into something fabulous. Abby at Tales and Trials posted an adorable little topiary of her own, and that got my butt into gear and I got to work!

In my hurry to rip off the pink flowers, I forgot to take a full before picture, but you get the idea. I picked off about 50 of those things (trying to make it easier to saw off the top), only to discover that I could just slip the styrofoam triangle right.off. Duh.

Please don't judge me but I may or may not have actually used this in my Spring decoration last year. In all honesty, I don't think it's really that bad - to me it looks like a cute table decoration for a pink wedding....just.....in 1995.

Anyway, I decided it was time to give this old tired girl a makeover! I gave the bottom a new coat of paint (I just mixed a bunch of browns and black acrylic together) and painted the stem (it's a little green for my taste but I don't have a good brown for it yet so that'll have to wait until I make it back up to Michael's.)

A craft ball went up on top:

And the moss for the top and base:

I purchased the craft balls and the moss with 40% off coupons at Michaels ($6 for both items, I believe).

Took out Claudia (my hot glue gun) and away we we went!

I am in total love, and for less than 7 bucks! :)
(Plus, I have about half a bag of moss left and the other styrofoam ball to use for another project!)

I call this a topiary "for all seasons" because I saw several adorable potted plants in the PB catalog, but they were all chippy and whitewashed and they were more appropriate for Spring and Summer decorating. I did a greenery project like that, but it will be debuted in another post. I wanted this baby to last me all year!

One thing I will add: if you move a lot, moss may not be the project for you. It is VERY messy.

Now I just can't decide where I like her furry little goodness best! :)

Although I am really loving the way it picks up the urns of the garden in our wedding photo.

Linked to all my favorite blog parties:
Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous
Thrifty Thursday @ Tales from Bloggeritaville
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Transformation Thursday @ The Shabby Chic Cottage
Saturday Nite Special @ Funky Junk Interiors
Show and Tell @ Blue Cricket Designs
Trash To Treasure Tuesday @ Reinvented
Make It Yours Day @ My Backyard Eden
Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest
Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
Show Us What You're Workin' With @ Me and My Bucket
Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl Creative
Weekend Wrap-Up @ Tatertots and Jello

"Clean" Onion Soup Mix

{If you're new here, read this post to see why I'm trying out "clean" recipes - and welcome!}

I use onion soup mix a lot, as I'm sure many of you do, too. A lot of my crockpot recipes call for it, as well as a few casseroles that I make. I could also eat dip and veggies every day of my life, if needed, and I frequently combine 3 T reduced-fat sour cream with some onion soup mix and veggies for a 1-point WW snack. However, store-bought onion soup mix (OSM because I'm lazy!) contains quite a few chemicals, the most notrious being MSG:

Again, I count 12 ingredients and only recognize 4.

The problem with trying to make your own substitute for OSM is that all of the online recipes I could find also called for beef or chicken bouillon cubes, which are chock-full of chemicals themselves. I can buy 2 packs of OSM for only 49 cents at Aldi's - price really isn't the factor here!

I finally had some luck when I took a trip to my local health food store, where I found these:

(Sorry about the horrible glare - it contains 6 cubes in case you can't read that part.)

It says "chicken" on the outside, but is only a composite of spices - which also happens to be gluten-free, in case you're interested. It smells *just* like a health food store (if you've been in one you know what I mean), but don't let that scare you!

Enter the new recipe - 3 ingredients! Just onion powder, onion flakes, and "chicken" bouillon.

I found this original recipe online here: http://frugalmoneymanagement.blogspot.com/


Onion Soup Mix

1/4 Cup dried minced onion

2 TBS instant beef bullion (or chicken bullion)

{I used one package of "chicken" bouillon" and found that to be flavorful enough. Again, you need to sub MSG-free bullion here for the recipe to be "clean."}

1/2 tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients. This makes the equivalent of 1 package soup mix. Just sprinkle on meat or add to soups or stews and cook as usual.


Here's what it looks like combined into sour cream for dip -you'll notice it's not as dark as the normal OSM:

Word of warning: I didn't realize there was a difference between "instant" and "regular" bouillon cubes until I tried to chisel mine apart. Apparently I bought the kind that only dissolves in water! So I popped it in the food processor and blended it until it was ground.

I have to say, both Chris and I agreed that this tastes just like the real thing! Took all of 5 minutes - definitely worth my time to eat something made completely of spices.

If you try it yourself, let me know how it turns out for you! If you don't have a health food store near you, I found an online company that sells MSG-free bouillon cubes. (I've never ordered from them so I can't vouch for their security - just wanted to offer that information!)

If you've found any other great "clean" links I'd love to see them!

Happy eating! :)

Linked to the following foodie parties:

Tasty Tuesday @ Beauty and Bedlam

Tuesdays at the Table @ All the Small Stuff

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed With Grace

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Giveaway for You!

Happy Monday everyone!

What better way to start off your week than with a fun giveaway?! This giveaway is sponsored by Darlene of MyScrapbookAddiction.com, a personal friend of mine. Darlene runs an online store and just started a brand-new blog, as well.

She is going to start advertising on my site (you'll find her link on the right - she doesn't have a button yet but she's not gonna let that stop her!). She wanted to kick things off with a fun giveaway for you!

You can choose ONE of these three great prizes (as I wrote earlier, even if you're not a scrapbooker, these paper kits are gorgeous and you can use them in so many ways - I've used paper in this project and this one as well. The possibilities are endless!)

Here's a peek at the prize options - you'll be able to pick your favorite of the three if you're the winner!

Prize Option #1:

Beautiful red paper kit from "My Mind's Eye" - in case you can't see the tiny text, it contains 12 12x12 sheets and one coordinating accessory sheet (the second picture you see).

Prize Option #2:

Blue/Green paper kit, also from "My Mind's Eye" - check out the cute bird accessory! Again, this kit contains 12 12x12 sheets and the accessory sheet in the back (2nd picture).

Prize Option #3:

This prize comes with three components from "Breezy Designs": the white "Friends" chipboard, letters to accompany it, and a coordinating paper/accessory kit. I have included a finished one made by Darlene so you can see what this would look like when it's completed (that's not part of the prize, sorry! :).

So, how do you enter?

1. Simply leave a comment stating your favorite scrapbooking accessory, product, or tool.

{If you're new to scrapbooking or not a scrapbooker, pop over to Darlene's site and find your favorite item there and come back and leave a comment telling me what it is. {This MUST be your first comment for you to be entered - the rest are just bonuses!}

For additional comments {i.e., more chances to win!}:

2. Become a Google Follower of my blog (or leave a comment telling me you're already a follower!).

3. Blog about this giveaway (if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment stating another favorite Scrapbook tool, product, or accessory OR another favorite item from Darlene's site).

4. and 5. Place an order with Darlene, and you can leave two extra comments here telling me that you've done so!

***Please remember - if you don't have a blog you must leave an e-mail address for me to contact you with!***

Good luck!

Giveaway ends Friday at 4:00 and the winner will be announced shortly after.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fun Finds, Sponsor News, and A Look Ahead

How's that for a post title? I wanted to show some fun bargain finds I've found while out and about recently - stay tuned to the end for some big announcements!

Last night I got to go out - by myself - shopping for a few hours. (Side note: I am so used to lugging around Luke, his diaper bag, and accessories that last night I sat in my car in the driveway before I left, convinced that I must have left something behind because it was just me and my purse. Ha!)

{It's raining here today and there's no light so these pictures are very dark!}

I stopped into Michael's because I wanted to purchase an item with my 40% off coupon (that will appear in a post later), but I found this frame for $1.50 in the clearance bin:

It was 75% off b/c there's no leaning-thing (what is that called, anyway?) to hold it up, but I don't care - I'll lean it against a wall or a shelf anyway.

The dollar bins were 50% off, so I found this cute little frame (that will be spray-painted black or white):

and a retro-feel menu planner (hopefully having something so cute will kick my butt into gear to menu plan again!)

At T.J. Maxx, I was shopping for my niece's 3rd birthday party on Saturday. Our budget is about $15 for each niece/nephew (that might sound like we're cheapskates, but there's 7 of them and they're all well endowed with toys, anyway!). It always takes a little more time to shop for a gift that fits the budget, but oh-mylanta did I have fun looking through all of the girly clothes there. I could have spent a small fortune last night buying my girly niece all sorts of frilly dresses and tutus, but I restrained myself!
I wish with all my heart that I will get a girly-girl like her someday, but I have this sinking feeling that God will give me a tomboy and I will not have a clue about what to do with her! haha I found her this cute little pajama set (my SIL said she likes to have a new pair of pjs every night) and a bathing suit for this summer (I have witnessed this girl change bathing suits 4 times in one afternoon!).

Two bags of candy brings her gift to $15.50 - good enough for me! :)

The other reason I was at T.J. Maxx was to use a Christmas gift card from my MIL. She had bought me a sweater that didn't fit, and when I returned it I couldn't find a similar one anywhere. I was walking through the shoe section, when there before my very eyes was something I never knew that I always wanted:

.......lepoard-print wellies!

Ahhhhhh! I am in love with them! Chris just rolled his eyes at me and tried not to laugh when I brought them home, but I know that deep down he loves them too (yeah, right!). If only I was 5 years old and could wear them with any outfit and no one would judge me....... ha!

I also have to share my Rite-Aid stop last night: two items of Cover Girl makeup, totally free! No tax, nada, zip! Thanks to For the Mommas, I discovered that Rite Aid will give you two items free if you have a BOGO coupon coupled with a BOGO sale. {Coupon is in the 2/7 P&G insert - "Buy one Cover Girl face product, get one free." (I printed out the Rite Aid coupon policy, just in case there was a problem, but I didn't have to show anyone, thank goodness!).
I was totally sweating bullets when I went in there, but it went off without a hitch! Whoo hoo!

Cover Girl is my new favorite face makeup - their sensitive skin line is awesome! Perfect coverage, not too thick or thin, and their "Medium Light" shade is exactly my skin color - when does that ever happen?!

Well, those are some of my fun finds, now on to two announcements:

1. Amy's Facebook status recently said:

"There are lots of great Tupperware products that are being discontinued and not in the new catalog. This is the last week to order some of your favorites! Get the Heat N Serve to make a quick soda cake, or the spill-proof 16 oz tumblers! Get them now before it's too late!"

Here's a link to her actual Tupperware page in case you want to buy anything!

2. Soon (like hopefully within a week), I'm going to be showcasing another sponsor - my friend Darlene is a scrapbook distributor and she has lots of great stuff! She will be hosting a giveaway where you have a chance to win one of three great prizes - you'll get to pick! Even if you've admitted that you're not a real scrapbooker, like me, you will love the paper kits she's picked out for you (gorgeous designs and colors!). I'm so excited for you guys!

And last but not least.....

I'm in the progress of starting a blog party of my very own - think a place to showcase all sorts of bargain finds...I hope to get the party started in a few weeks so please stay tuned - I hope you'll join me, because it's going to be a blast!

Whew! You made it to the bottom, congratulations! :)
Happy weekend!

This post linked to Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom.