Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Birdhouses" Mamsie style

I asked the kids, Kayla and Monty this year to decorate a birdhouse and give it to me for Christmas. I figured out the style of the birdhouses and Monty cut them out of pieces of cedar he had in his stash. Since I had been collecting pieces of this and that with with this project in mind, I pulled out my shoebox of drawer pulls, escutheon plates, pipe clamps, one drain cover and upholstry tacks. They each sorted out what they liked and went to work on thier designs. What resulted is 5 very unique houses which I absolutely love. It was a very nice Christmas for Mams!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Simple Christmas

This year I returned to my roots and decorated our tree with mostly all handmade ornaments, save for the glitter grapevine wreath balls and poinsetta flowers. Our tree is filled with little ornaments made over the last 33 years. From felt Christmas trees made in 1988 to cross stitch ornaments I made in 1980's when Monty and I first met. There are plastic canvas poinsetta's made by me and the kids in 1996, marshmallow snowmen made in 2006, wreaths made in 1984, small peach baskets in 1986 and lots of others that I never dated. Wish now I had. What is amazing is that I have made an ornament every year except for just a couple. The years I missed, well I just didn't get a creative vibe to make one. But hey, 30 yrs is a long time and with many more to come who knows what I will come up with next!

Merry Christmas and enjoy a memory moment from years past..

Monday, December 12, 2011

Budget, budget, budget

You know the ole saying...everything little bit counts....well it does. I think the biggest reason people fail at saving or budgeting is that they don't get the big picture. You have to think the long haul. Yes, it does take time and sacrifice on your part to break bad money habits.

1st-think of it like this...reducing your cable bill by $30 a month translates into a savings of $360 yrly. You should look at your cell phone and insurance plans as well to find more hidden savings.
2nd-use coupons(and I could do better). You can at the very least save $3-5 wk, which in turn will save you $144-240 yrly.
3rd-buy on sale and stock up. If it something that routinely goes on sale, buy only enough to get to the next one. This allows you to keep your capital in the bank for a rainy day event(like a flat tire, etc). The key is not to overspend on sale items.
4th-use credit cards wisely, again goes without saying. If you have to buy on credit then pay it off in a set amount of months. Make every effort to make those big purchases when your card offers 0% interest for a specific time frame. Then milk it, figure what you have to pay for that period. Set it up in on your bank site to pay monthly and forget it. Done. No shame in using their dime to fund a major purchase..hehe.
5th-make a commitment to not buy any thing other than the bare necessities for 3 months. This is harder than you think. But do it and you will be amazed at what you saved. $$$ ka-ching, ka-ching will add up.
6th-eat leftovers. I now plan meals with the sole intention of having the left overs later in the week. Not only has it simplified cooking but is a major time saver as well. Yeehaw on the time saving bit. Less food waste = less money spent.
7th-nothing new here but if you owe more than one credit card, take the credit industries advice. Attack the balance with the highest annual percentage rate first. When that one is paid off, move onto the debt with the next-highest interest rate. Transfer balances to lower interest card and credit card hop to get the lowest interest.
8th-now that you are working on #7, don't charge them up again. Instead, stay the course.
9th and most to save something every paycheck. Once you have money in savings you can pay for those unexpected expenses that come up. Plus, you have that nice little feeling of having a nest egg.
10th-impulse spending can undo your budget. Unless you have to have it to breathe, leave it on the shelf.
11th-shop used and pay less. If you have access to a Goodwill or the like, pop in and look around. You may luck up and find some things at a very cheap price.
12th and last, less bills to pay = more time. And having more time is always a good thing.

So, remember little savings add up to big savings. Everytime you save something, transfer the differece to your savings. Your financial health will improve as well as your well being.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Crafting away

You'll find me this time of year thinking about my Christmas craft projects and how I can dream up new uses for the "leftovers" from other craft projects. So, this year is no different from others as I gaze into my craft cabinet to see what can be reused, used up and recrafted. The main thing this year I want to do is use up ribbon that I seem to have collected over the years. Ribbon from pretty packages, ribbon left on mostly spent rolls, etc. I have to admit I like pretty ribbon! So far I have managed to use up most of the short pieces left on rolls. I gave some away that I never plan to use and I plan to use any new ribbon I buy this season up on current projects. I won't be packing any away in storage bins this year.

I'm going to do the same with my craft paper. Figuring new ways to use it up...again, although I don't scrapbook, I find I am sucker for cool and pretty paper! I have to say there are plenty of projects to use it on and I'm trying my best to come up with new ideas..or freshen up old From here on out though, I plan to buy only what I need for current projects. Again, reducing down is the name of the game!

So cheers to all, the Christmas music is on and I'm gettin all crafty this morning!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

Nice weather, casseroles lined up on the bar and pumpkin pie in the oven. Won't be long now until it's time to eat our Thanksgiving fare. A little strange this year with only the 3 of us here to celebrate. La won't be here until Christmas and Aaron just left on Tuesday to house sit for the weekend in Asheville.

Yes, strange not to have the lively conversation that ensues when everyone is in the same place at the same time. Strange not having a house full of kids in pj's lounging on the couch, watching tv, laughing and asking how soon will dinner be ready.

Yes, strange, different and a bit weird.

There's a lot to be thankful for today..I have job, house, loving family and much more....

.....and I don't know about the rest of you all, but I am starving! Bring on the turkey and the fixins!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fast approaching Fall

If you haven't given it any thought...perhaps you should. The first day of fall is right around the corner. As a matter of fact, how does Septempber 23rd grab you?

Here's a little tidbit, courtesy of the Farmer's Almanac. The Autumnal Equinox:

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for "equal night." The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the hours of day and night are equal as the Sun crosses the celestial equator. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter.

We've been readying the raised beds for fall planting. Surprisingly we have lots of peppers still growing and the red rockets are!!! As in take your breath away and like hotter than jalapenos. We also have a few potato plants growing and a cantaloupe vine that is blooming(probably will not have time to set fruit).

My fall garden plans are :

1) To plant some lettuce, mesculen and garlic this afternoon.

2) We'll plan on picking up a few broccoli and collards plants later this week and hopefully get them in the ground by next weekend.

The weather has been on the cool side this weekend and the birds have been very active at the feeders. Lots of singing and chirping. Makes me think of ole Bob he used to say "happy little trees" but in this case I would have to say..."happy little birds" .

And oh, when Hurricane Irene blew by us, she managed to knock a bunch of green pecans off the neighbors pecan tree. I picked them up for days and put them on the porch to dry in an attempt to save them. Unfortunately green pecans don't ever split their outer husks. Instead their husks dry out hard as rocks, making them impossible to crack open. But today while gazing up into the pecan tree I was amazed to see quite a few pecans left on the overhanging branches into our yard. Seems maybe we may get a few after all....yeah!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Potato Pockets

I sometimes just amaze myself and not in a good way. Several weeks ago I had an aha moment. We made grill pockets and cooked them on... none other than the grill. Didn't turn the oven on, use any electricity or get the kitchen hot.

Hmmm why ever have I not thought to fix pockets before now? I have absolutely no clue. Disturbing to say the least....hehe.

On to the pockets...take a large sheet of aluminum foil. In the center place a couple of cubed small red potatoes, dot with a little butter and put some sliced onion on top. Now any other vegetable will do but we've been putting our green beans and squash (sliced) from our garden on top. Last night we also threw in a small ear of corn. We also added left over chicken(one of the rotisserie baked ones). Folded up the ends and threw that baby on the grill for 20 mins on low.

An all-in-one meal. A great way to use left overs and no plate to wash. Easy peasy. Good grief...why have I never thought of it before now. Go figure!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rain barrel tidbit

Growing up Grandma had a large flat rock off to the side of her front door where a small rain barrel sat. We were required to stand on that rock and take a scoop of rain water to wash our feet off before coming into the house. The water was always cold and clean. Her barrel had a lid on it, which she would crack whenever it rained to catch what came off the roof. I tell people all the time, Grandma was the original "green" queen. Nothing escaped her when it came to recycling or re-purposing things. But those are other stories waiting to be told.

We have 3 barrels and from the looks of the formula below, we are missing out on capturing a whole lot more!

How much rain you can catch:

Rain caught (gallons) = (inches of rain) x (0.6) x (portion of building footprint in ft2)

For example, if your home's footprint is 1,400 ft2, and you want to know the amount of water that comes from a ¼ inch of rainfall the equation would look like this:

Rain caught (gallons) = (0.25) x (0. 6) x (1,400) = 210 gallons.

However, remember that storage is limited to the capacity of your system. If your rain barrel holds 50 gallons, then 160 gallons will be lost.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting good as being cheap..

You know how I like to squeeze a dime. Well, growing your own veggies is a sure fire way to shave some bucks off the ole weekly grocery bill. So far, we have harvested a bunch of hot peppers, a least 10lbs. of potatoes and 11 patty pan squash. Adding up what we would pay for the squash alone is a cool savings of $14, or $13 if I take out what I paid for the seeds.

It's a win-win situation, I have many squash to come from my 6 plants, so of course the amount of savings will only go up. Just starting to get a few tomatoes. Down to my last meal of potatoes, peppers a growing and I just noticed today I have green beans!!! Corn is tasseling so won't be long until we're munching on some ears.

Yehaw...I love my itty bitty garden!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Oh Happy Day

Corn continues to do well and looking forward to seeing some ears forming!

Dug up the first 2 potato plants and got enough for 2 meals. Only have 5 more plants so don't expect to get but maybe this box full. Very happy with what I did get, so I'll definitely be growing more next year.

Getting squash and the plants are continuing to do great. Bees have been all over them and got at least 5-6 more that will soon be ready.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My My

Monday, May 23, 2011

How time flies...

We have found the dreaded eggs of the vine borer on the squash and have waged biological organic warfare. So we'll see who wins. They look so good right now.

Spirea has never looked prettier or pinker.

Sunflowers are heading up and some have started to bloom.

The corn is well.... amaaaazing!

This week the beans are up in the 1st bed. Yesterday they popped through the surface and by the end of the day they were up at least an inch or two. This morning they look like little plants! The other bed of beans is starting to pop up so I expect by tomorrow they will be close in size.

And how does your garden grow?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Small Space Gardening

Never ceases to amaze me what can be grown in a small space!

The corn's up and seems to be growing before our very eyes.

Squash has doubled in size.

Tomatoes have perked up.

Added another level for potatoes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Corn mounds and a "Garden update"

Native Americans grew corn in small mounds. Last fall I received some corn seed from one on my Almanac buddies with directions to grow the seeds in mounds. It actually seems like a logical way to plant corn when I think about. Growing 5-6 stalks in one small mound would make pollination of the corn silk easier as the pollen would not have to travel as far to the silk. It's pretty neat to think how each piece of the silk makes a kernel. Small wonder on how it all works. Going to plant some miniature Indian corn as well.

Many years the tune of 9-10 years, Trevor and I actually planted some Indian corn in a small 4x8 raised bed. I did get 20 or so of the cutest little ears in yellows, purples and reds. I tried planting it again in 2006, in rows and only 2-3 ears matured. Little did I know they actually recommend growing corn in 4x4 blocks to aid in pollination. So the year I planted in rows actually failed due to lack of cross pollination. Hmmm. So we'll see what happens this year, I should be good as my corn bed is close to 4x4.

My chives bloomed for the first time, nice little balls of lavendar. I picked one off and ate it....whew...was it hot! And I had nice onioney(is that a word) breath for hours... hehe

Squash are already putting out their true leaves and they just popped up on Thurs. Now that's a good sign. I put some left over straw around them for mulch.

Potatoes looking good, and much bigger than 13 days ago.

Peppers are planted in dirt, I just mulched them with leftover straw.

Now the watching and waiting begin!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gardening 101

12ft bed for tomatoes

2nd 12ft bed for tomotoes

Potato bed-->these were not planted in a straw bale but from my composted dirt

Squash planted in heaped compost on last years decomposing straw

This one is in progress-->will be corn

Moving right along this year... Potatoes looking good planted in compost. After I planted them I found a lot of articles about growing them in straw. Next year I may try it that way rather than use up all my compost. But any hoo, got the squash in on some of last years bale remmants. Readying a raised bed for corn - first time trying this method. I've got to find some dirt as I have very little compost left. Lastly readying the tomato bales for planting. I'm going to try a different method this year to prepping them. Found a great article on Mother Earth's site so we'll see how that goes. Thinking about doing one like the old way and the other with Mother Earth's recipe.

Of course now I'm wishing I had 2 more beds so I could put in a couple rows of beans. Last year I did 1/2 of bed and surprisingly it produced enough for several stir fry meals. As the season progressed and I didn't get enough for a meal I let them get big and tough. Cooked them up for treats for the dogs...who knew dogs liked green beans?

Still thinking about those 2 extra beds..may have to talk to the spouse....

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Here we go again...

Gas is up again to $3.45 and food prices are on the rise. No one had to tell me that and I didn't have to read it in the newspaper. Just have to look at my checking account to see the money doesn't go as far these days.

Found a blog today of a young couple building a small house on a trailer. Building it as they can afford to. I really think that's going to be our small and getting back to basics, for some anyway. The rich will always be rich. The rest of us just need to find our niche.

Live within our means and enjoy what we have. I'm on it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Try as I might, I am still missing deals.

Just last week I let(or should I say "we") a $10 free coupon from Riteaid expire. $10 off any purchase. So basically I could have scored $10 worth of anything...shampoo, conditioner, TP or anything and walked away with it free. But no we just plain forgot it. Sad.

The same thing happened with a $4 off any purchase from CVS.

Then there was the $7 coupon off Prilosec that we forgot we had.

So tomorrow when I do the Sunday coupons, I'm going to put them in the car, so maybe if they are staring right at me I will actually look at them.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Been kinda of silent around here. Busy working and coming up with new ideas for 2011.

But let's back up...Fall blew in and before I knew it, the 1st of December was here. I had to quickly come up with an idea for my annual Christmas craft.

I decided number one it would have to be economical. Secondly I wanted to recycle or reuse my left over scrapbooking supplies, ribbon remmants and buttons.

Hence my little gift baskets were born! I included nifty hot chocolate pockets sewn from white paper bags using ribbon remmants. I used left over Christmas recipe cards tucked inside each one to write a quick Holiday greeting. I used Glassine bags filled with peppermint candies or tea, using again left over ribbon and scrapbook paper for the toppers. I made belly bands to wrap the Ghiardelli candy. I covered clothespins with paper that could also be used to hold close the tops of the glassine bags. I used recycled jars and spray painted the lids silver filling them with peppermints. I used left over rhinetones to add sparkle. Throw in some baker's twine and buttons used here and there, a few extas of everything so in turn the recipents could regift the ideas and the baskets were filled to the brim!

Cost breakdown:
Jars= free
Spray paint to paint lids = $1.99
6 cardboad printed baskets = $5.94
Scrapbook paper = $4.00
Ribbon = $2.00
Paper bags = $.1.50 (I also recylced the ones Chinese takeout come in)
Peppermint Candy = $3.94
Glassine bags = $3.00
Ghiardelli candy = $3.99

Total = $27.50

Cost per basket = $4.39 BUT I have left over paint and candy so the true cost is probably closer to $3.50 a basket. Pretty good! Not to mention a huge reduction in scrap paper, ribbon, etc.

I totally loved how they turned out and everyone thought it was great way to recyle!