Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Wishes

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." Dr. Seuss

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas full of family, friends and everything good. I'll be back to blogging after the first of the year. God Bless every one of you.

Christmas Bows

Gina over at Six in the Country gives a tutorial on making some neat bows for those last minute presents. Very Cool.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Tag Printables

I thought maybe this link to printable Christmas gift tags might be useful to someone. Scroll down past the writing and there are links to about 4 pages of printable Christmas gift tags. Here is a link to a page that has many different gift tags including Christmas. There are also printable recipe cards that might come in handy for including a recipe with a baked gift. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mom's birthday. I hope it is a great one. Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom, my Dad and Me about 1959.

Faux Gingerbread

Years ago when the kids were little I started making Gingerbread houses. The real Martha Stewart kind where you bake all the pieces and put the house together with Royal icing. It was fun but it was a lot of work. One day I was watching the Carol Duvall show and she had a guest on the show making Gingerbread houses out of cardboard and decorating them with cutouts. They were cute. A light went off in my head and the "Faux Gingerbread House" was born.

I realized that the kids enjoyed the decorating process much more than they enjoyed the baking process. No one ever ate any of the house, it was strictly for show. Decorating the gingerbread house was where the real fun was. I came up with the idea of making a cardboard house shape and covering it with Graham crackers for the base and decorating that.

Below you can see a picture of the house base we used this year. The Styrofoam base came out of a gift basket that someone gave me. I used the side of a cardboard box for the roof and sides. The best part is that I put it all together with a glue gun or craft glue. I could not find my glue gun so I put the house together with Tacky glue and pinned it together until the glue dried.

After finding the glue gun I glued the Graham crackers in place. I have always used Royal icing to glue on the pieces and the decorations but decided this year to try the glue gun and it worked perfectly and was really fast. I had the house ready to go in about 10 minutes.

We used Wilton's Cookie Icing that comes in a squeeze bottle to make motar in the "stones" and to make "snow" on the roof, after we glued on all the candy. Here is the finished product:

I had $5 left in my decorating budget and I spent $3.75 on icing and crackers. The candy was left over and bought with CVS bucks so I made my budget! You could use any size boxes even round oatmeal containers and make houses of every shape and form. If you cut out windows and line with cellophane ,or melted hard candies, you could even light the houses and have stained glass windows. It is really cute to do a village of small houses. A very non Martha gingerbread house for sure. Let me know if you try this idea. If you want to make a Martha Graham cracker house go here.

Either way I would like to see some pictures.

Bottom Pic: Mento's snowman with gumdrop hat and a marker applied mouth.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Savings

I'm only including the items I bought with coupons in the picture this week. I actually bought $103.58 in groceries at Kroger and paid $51 and some change for it all. $1 over my $50 dollar budget.

Of the above items I paid $1 per box of cereal after $1/2 coupons and the General Mills buy4 get $4 deal. The Kashi crackers were .50 a box bought with a $2 coupons from their website.

The granola bars were part of the General Mills deal and were .50 after the deal and doubled .50 coupons from the paper. The Coffee Mate was .79 each (if you haven't tried the Peppermint Mocha flavor they have for the holidays you should. Yum!) The candy and pickles were $1 each. The veggies .50 each. Creme cheese was .80 each. The cookie mix. $1.12 and the sugar cubes were .70.

The Eggland eggs were actually cheaper this week than the Kroger brand after using coupons, $2.29 for 2 dozen.

Kroger sent me a customer appreciation book of coupons that had a $5 off spiral sliced ham and they had it on sale for $1.69 this week so I only paid $7.63 for our Christmas ham!

The best deal though was the yeast which was on sale 10/$10. After doubled .45 coupons it was .10 a package AND printed out a .50 off your next order for each package! 13 total. So I got paid $6.50 for buying it!

The total I spent was $33.28 on the items above.

Check out Money Saving Mom for more coupon shopping inspiration.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sticking To My Budget

I've made it a goal to stick to my $14 or less decorating budget again this year. I'll admit it would be easier if it were $20! But it is fun though to try and do it for as little as possible. My ornaments from my previous post came to less than a dollar or free depending on how you look at it because I didn't buy anything. I had everything in my stash of craft items.

My hubby brought home a Poinsettia as a present. The only thing I have bought were a couple of red checked tablecloths for $3 and a green cross stitch pillow from the thrift store for .50. I'm using these items to decorate my porch. The arrangement on the table I already had. (I found that table on the curb btw. Gotta love it!) I made a wreath for the door from a couple of garlands and ornaments I had and added a velvet bow I bought for .20 on clearance last year. I think the results are festive and I have only spent $8.70. I still have $5 left for supplies for our traditional "Gingerbread" houses. I have spent so much money in the past for Holiday decorations. Most of them bit the dust years ago after 4 kids. It is such a good feeling to be able to make things look nice for pennies. If and when I do decide to spend money on decorations I won't feel like I've been wasteful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sweet Days Of Childhood

I just love this post about children's imaginations. It is so sweet. It brings back memories of my own children and their imaginary friends. My daughter had a little sister with pink eyes and pink hair who drove a pink pick up truck and my son had a friend named Cecil who he talked to through a banana "phone". That lasted until he accidentally ate Cecil one day.

I miss those innocent, joy filled days and this story of a little girl and her friend the rock brought back some good memories.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pleo

I am fascinated by this little creature and just a little creeped out. I know my kids would have loved one of these step up from the mechanical dogs. They are interactive and "learn" how to respond to you. You can program you own sound files into it. They also have regular updates to the firmware so what it is capable of will improve over time. Best of all...no poop!

Beautiful Blogs: Christmas Eye Candy

Isn't this a great room? Red is my favorite color and I love it with the blue. If you want to see some more beautiful and unique Christmas decorating then check out Hayley's blog.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Ornaments And Gift Tags

It isn't always easy to get kids interested in sitting down and looking through family genealogy and I think it is important that they know something about their family history. I thought it would be interesting to include ornaments for these family members in away that would be fun and educational.

I did some brainstorming and came up with this idea after watching a scrap booking show where they made gift cards using movable elements.

I bought this box of tags at a yard sale for 50 cents. I wasn't sure what I would do with them. I knew that gift tags were a real possibility but I wasn't sure about any other uses. I just knew that there were possibilities and the price was too good to pass up.

Using paint, glitter, beads, jewels and Mod Podge from my supplies and photos I printed out I created these tags that I am using as ornaments on my tree. The backs are equally decorated and include names and relationship. I am a glitter kind of girl so I brushed each with a coat of Sparkle glaze after the Mod Podge and they look great on the tree. My favorite it the "shaker" ornament. I used the plastic cover from a pack of safety pins for the cover. I put beads and a little gold glitter inside and glued it to the decorated tag. The beads and glitter add some fun and interest. The possibilities are endless as to what you could add, any small item would work.

These would also make great gift tags. You could use pictures of individuals instead of names and they could hang them on the tree after they open their gifts.

Pics: The middle picture: Me with my middle sister at my grandparents home (Yes Sonya, I'm making one for you too!), My mom at 18 (Wasn't she pretty?) , My husband is the little boy on both tags (What a cutie!) , and my dad's parents.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Greetings

I hope everyone is getting into the mood for Christmas. I think I finally am. I can't decide what to do with the blog template yet, so I put this one up temporarily.

We have had our tree since Thanksgiving and I am finishing up my decorations. I don't have any pictures yet so I'm including one from last year and a link to my post about my challenge to myself to decorate my house for Christmas with just $14.

I've got some recipes to share and a couple of other ideas. So I'll be posting those soon. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy my Christmas flashback.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beautiful Blogs: Cherry Hill Cottage

Am I the last person to find this beautiful blog, Cherry Hill Cottage? If so why didn't someone tell me about it earlier? Tina has a beautiful home and an extreme talent for decorating. Her pictures are amazing. I want her to adopt me so I can live there or she can come to Tennessee and decorate MY house...yeah...that's the ticket.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Little Big Star

I found this video on a friend's blog. This girl, Charice Pempengco, who is 14, is on a show in the Philippines call Little Big Star as a competitor. I assume that it is something like an American Idol.

This is from an appearance on a Korean show called Star King. She does speak English and you can pick up a little on her accent in her song. I was so blown away by her performance I decided to share it here. The English subtitles are hilarious so be sure to watch them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Best Political Ad EVER!

Royal Family A-gassed!

I'll let you write your own caption but " Go ahead, pull my finger." does come to mind.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just For Fun: Retro Cartoon

I found this cartoon on YouTube and just had to share it. I remember watching this back when I was a kid and it was old then. It was made in the 1940's. Times have surely changed. So skip over the the side panel, pause the music and enjoy. Hope you get a kick out of it like I did.

Recipe Link: Corn Syrup

Have you noticed that Hershey's Chocolate just doesn't taste as good as it used to? Neither do Cokes. I hadn't really put my finger on the reason why. I thought that maybe I was just getting older and sweets just didn't taste as good as they did when I was a kid.

A few years back my daughter brought a present of English chocolate home to us from her trip to London. Ahhhh, there was that chocolate taste I remembered from childhood! Looking at the ingredients I noticed that the English chocolate was sweetened with real sugar. After drinking a Jones soda made with real sugar I realized that corn syrup must be the culprit and is a very poor substitute for the real thing.

All over the media these days they are talking about how corn syrup is making us fat and sick. I am making an effort to remove as much as possible from our diets and it is proving to be a daunting task. I think it may be impossible to remove all of it but there are ways to get started.

I was happy to see this morning that Patty over at Morning Ramble has posted a recipe for a corn syrup substitute. I'm looking forward to trying it out and seeing what a difference it will make in my homemade Pecan pies.

Update: I made the syrup and used it in Pecan pie. The pie turned 0ut fine, maybe not as firm as usual but the taste was good.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Savings: Free Candy!

Maybe one of these days I'll get around to posting something besides pictures of gorgeous leaves and stuff I have bought. Life is as crazy as usual even though I thought it might slow down some by now. I've been cleaning and sorting and clearing out my closets and storage. Even with several trips to drop off stuff at the thrift store there is more to go yet.

I haven't gone to the grocery store yet this week, that is scheduled for later today. I know our Krogers has Betty Crocker Au Gratin potatoes for .99 and I have .35/1 that will be doubled to .70 so I plan to stock up on those.

The first picture is off my Target trip. I got the Stove Top with the Target coupons from their kiosk for .29 each.

The Head and Shoulders was on clearance for $5, I paid $3 with a $2/1. The Aussie was on clearance for .62. The Reveal light bulbs were on sale for $2 and I had $1/1 so I stocked up for $1 a box.

The Mr. Clean erasers were a trial size for .84. I can't really see that they are any smaller than regular. I got them with .50/1 coupons so they were .34 each. I love those things! So I was excited to get those so cheap. The Pledge duster was .74 after a $3/1.

My favorite deal this week was from Walgreens. The Turtles candy was on sale and after an Easy Saver coupon which made them .99 and stacking with $1/1 coupons from 09-16 SmartSource flier in the paper they were free! There were 12, only 11 now, but I can't imagine what happened to the other one...ahem....anyway, these will be used as stocking stuffers and gifts . I might have a few more items to add to this later today after I finish my shopping. Meanwhile, check out Crystal's blog for more money saving reports. Update: More free stuff. Farm Rich Mozzarella sticks on sale at Food City 5/$5. I had $1/1 from the 9/16 Smartsource flier so they were free. The Lea & Perrins was from a coupon printed out at Kroger for a free bottle.
The No Yolks pasta was .99 at Kroger and I had .50/1, which was doubled, from the 10/o7 Valassis flier.
At Kroger, Wal Mart and Food City I spent a total of $53.12 out of pocket for $121.29 before coupons. My best deals there were Betty Crocker potatoes for .29 after doubling .35 coupons from the 10-7 GM flier and Ro Tel tomatoes for .17after doubling .30 coupons. Also Herbal Essence haircolor for $1.97 after $5/1 from the 10/14 PG flier.

My budget right now is to try to average $50. I'm getting closer and actually will be below that I believe after the holidays. I had coupons for everything, including the fruit and veggies, except the sweet potatoes and the cheese.

Kraft cheese is on sale at Kroger 3/$5 with a catalina for $1 off your next order with purchase of 3, buy 4 get $2, buy 5 or more get $3. I didn't know that or I would have picked up at least 1 more. I know there is a Post cereal deal going on at Kroger until the Dec 2 where you buy Post cereal and get $ off your next order.

Buy 2 get$1

Buy 3 get $2

Buy 4 or more and get $3

All must be purchased at one time

I think I'll be concentrating on fresh foods for the next few weeks now that my pantry is well stocked. It is a great feeling.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Protest!

It was around 70 degrees yesterday. We got a much needed 2 inches of rain this week. But the news tonight is just too much. Snow. Up to 4 inches of snow over the mountains. When I went out to check the mail this afternoon sleet was pelting me. I'm not ready for cold weather. This is the South for Pete's sake and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet! I'm just going to post a couple of pictures I took yesterday of the beautiful leaves and mope around feeling jipped out of even a minute of my much loved rare Autumn days outside.

How quickly pass the days

and Autumn's beauty quickly fades

While our feet may seek a different path

our hearts still bring us home.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Be Still And Know That I Am God."

Sometimes life overwhelms us. Some days it all seems so unfair. We lose sight of the truth, the never changing fact that no matter how deep and dark a valley we traverse, even when our hearts and eyes seem to search frantically, God is there.

Ann at Holy Experience has a beautiful post about the miracles we are given each and every day...

"In a fractured, diseased world of cancerous bodies, broken marriages, dying babies, illness, starvation, poverty, we are a people, en masse, holding out for a miracle. His ear is low, His heart attuned. We need but whisper and He swings open the door and graciously, abundantly gives. The miracle falls softly, imperceptibly."

Be still. Be still and know.