Thursday, August 31, 2017

Glimpses of Home

Hey you guys!  Here is a peek into my life recently.

I have discovered that I can completely empty the dishwasher while brewing two cups of coffee.  Not only that, I refill the water reservoir on the coffee maker.  This may not sound like a big deal, but its one way to get a head start on the morning.  Its a small accomplishment done early in the morning.  One small way to NOT procrastinate!

Another way I avoided procrastination was that after getting home from a weekend trip, I unpacked immediately.  This is also a little unusual for me.  Normally I would still be unpacking the next morning... as in retrieving what ever I needed to get ready for work from the bags and basically living out of my bag for a couple of days.

My sweet friend, Penny, embroidered this dishtowel for me.  I love it!  She did such a good job. She has motivated me to do more handwork!  You can see her blog HERE.

Pumpkins!  I've already got some!

Did you ever wonder where all the pumpkins sold all over America come from?  Lots of them are grown in the North Carolina mountains.  There are pumpkin vines as far as you can see:

I planted some sunflower seeds a little later in the summer so that I would have some in bloom during the fall.  I was a little sad because we had the house pressure washed and the chemicals dripped on some of my plants.  Most of them didn't survive, but this one sunflower did bloom, despite the damage.  You can see that the leaves are burned.

The Autumn Clematis is blooming over the pallet flag and the yellow Zinnias are still blooming.  I'll be adding pumpkins to this area this weekend!

See that tiny bird feather that fell on this daisy?  I love finding things like that.

Happy last day of August! Fall is almost here!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Tiny Frugal Tip #3

Good Tuesday morning to you and welcome to my Tiny Frugal Tip Series!

This frugal tip is about small batch freezing and meal starter freezing.   This saves money because you cut down on waste and also it can help cut down on eating out and extra trips to the grocery store when you need a meal and its getting late.

One of the easiest things to freeze is rice.  I love to be able to pull a bag of rice out of the freezer both for meals at home or for my lunch to take to work.  You can use any kind of rice, but its especially handy for brown rice, since it takes longer to cook.  When you have a little time, you can cook up a large pot of brown rice and freeze a few bags.

This is a recent bag of rice I took out of the freezer for a side dish for supper.

It heats up well in the microwave.

Bell pepper is a good thing to freeze.  If you buy them from the grocery store or grow your own, you know they won't last too long in the fridge.  I go ahead and cut them up, spread them out on a cookie sheet to flash freeze and then put them in a freezer bag.  When you need some bell pepper for a recipe, its easy to just pour out what you need.  If I do this, it really cuts down on the waste of finding a mushy bell pepper in the fridge!

I use a lot of tomato paste, but even the small 6 ounce can is too much for most of my recipes.  So, when I open a can I use what I need for the recipe I am cooking, and freeze the rest.  These blobs of tomato paste are from a 12 ounce can.  I let them freeze for an hour or so on this plate and then after they got firm, I transferred them to a freezer bag.  The next time I make a pot of soup or chili I can just add one of the blobs to it directly from the freezer.

Frozen Tomato Paste Blobs!

We didn't have a very good tomato harvest this year, but I froze a few bags, one bag at a time.  It was no big deal to put a few in a pot to simmer while I was doing something else.  I think I ended up with 5 bags.  This kept the few tomatoes we had from going to waste, since they tend to ripen faster than we can eat them.

Another great meal starter I love to have on hand is browned hamburger.  After I get the meat home from the grocery store, I like to go ahead and brown some of it and freeze it.  Just last night I had no idea what we were going to eat for supper.  Then I remembered a bag of frozen browned hamburger in our freezer!  Chili!  It was so easy using the frozen meat and a frozen tomato paste blob along with some canned tomatoes and beans.  I love to put sour cream and some shredded cheese on top of mine.

Vegetable Soup is good to make from frozen browned hamburger.

I need to share my quick week night chili recipe, but no time! Gotta get ready for work!

I also want to tell you about another blog I have started called, "Homemaking Dreams Deals". I hope to share deals that I come across and also I feel it is a more appropriate place to blog about Swagbucks. I hope you'll check it out and become a regular reader. Thanks!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Photos Of The Week

These lillies bloom just about the time school starts back each year.  Its an old fashioned plant that was planted here many years ago.

An early Saturday morning rainbow.  I was outside working and when I turned around, this took my breath away!

Dreaming of fall.

Have a great weekend!

Swagbucks - Get $30.00 when you sign up for HULU

If you're a TV lover, Hulu is running a special on their offer through Swagbucks this weekend only: You'll get $30 (paid in the form of points called SB) for trying Hulu for a month. That will cost you $7.99, so you're making $22 on the deal.

Hulu has tons of current and classic programming, movies, brilliant original series, and more. Here's how you do it: 

1. Click this link. You need to be a Swagbucks member to take advantage of this offer, and if you don't have an account you can create on here, which takes 30 seconds.  
2. Click "Continue" and sign up for Hulu
3. Enjoy Hulu! You should have your points within 30 minutes. You must be a first time Hulu member to receive SB for this offer.

Haven't tried Swagbucks yet? They're a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like online shopping, watching videos, taking surveys, and discovering deals and services you might like to try (like Hulu!). You then take those points and turn them into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

This is a great time to join because when you sign up through the link above and get your 3000 SB, you'll get a bonus 300 SB at the beginning of September. So that's $30 (3000 SB) for trying Hulu plus your $3 (300 SB) bonus, which gets you 3300 SB, which means you make $25 total for trying Hulu!

CLICK HERE to use my Referral Link for Swagbucks.  Thanks!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Tiny Frugal Tip #2

Welcome to another Tiny Frugal Tip... but this post might be a little longer than the definition of tiny would imply!

Lets save money (and time!)  by falling in love with the clothes we already own!  After all, we thought they were pretty when we first bought them. There are lots of ways to do this.

One way is to choose one top, bottom, or dress and come up with at least three outfits using it.  Each of the three styles can be made using a scarf, jewelry, different pants, shoes or a skirt.  I love to use Pinterest for this!  Just put in a brief description of the article of clothing in the search box and lots of outfits will come up.  For instance, if I have a gray top, I will enter "gray top outfits".  There's no doubt that you will have some other clothing items that you can combine with the gray top to recreate some of the Pinterest outfits.

I like to create an outfit and then hang the entire outfit on a hanger. Its easy to choose an outfit when all you have to do is reach out grab the total package.  I have a hook over the outside of my closet door where I hang the outfit I plan to wear the next day.  I also like to go ahead and choose an outfit for the next day when I am changing after work.   Its part of my after work routine.  AND I won't let myself change my mind!  That defeats the whole purpose when I end up trying on several more combinations and then I end up rushing around, running late.  It also helps to choose your jewelry and shoes.

If there's no way you are going to fall in love with an article of clothing again, get rid of it.  I like to keep a box that I add my unloved clothes to until its full and then drop it off at a charity thrift shop near my office.

A real money saver is to go through your clothes and get them organized.  The best method of organization for me is to arrange the tops by color and category. For example, all the black tops go together, black sweaters or blazers go together.  Black pants go together.  Black skirts and dresses go together.  This makes choosing outfits much easier and you also have a better idea of what you actually have.  If you know you have several black tops and are shopping, you won't make the mistake of adding another one to the pile!

We need to know what looks good on our body and also what feels comfortable and we love.  I have a pear shaped body and some "older lady" midsection fluffiness.  I can't stand to wear anything that clings to my stomach or that's too tight on my hips.  I have some pants that I feel showcase my hips too much, but otherwise fit well and I like them.  So those pants require a longer top that covers me up a little.  I can't tell you how many times I've tried on several things when I was already running late, just trying to make a certain pair of pants work.  Now, once I figure out what works for a certain pair of pants, I hang the total outfit together on a hanger and avoid that situation in the future.

One thing that really helps me to love the clothes I already own is to lose weight!  Just a few pounds and my clothes fit so much better and I love my clothes.  Another thing is to wear the right under garments!  I have found some that allow my pants to fit smoothly, are comfortable and that also hold in that midsection a little.   When I lose a little weight and wear the right underwear, I feel so much better in my clothes.  I don't feel as motivated to keep going shopping in order to find things that fit and are comfortable.

Another idea that I have played around with in my mind is to come up with a uniform of sorts for work.  I would love to never have to figure out what to wear again by wearing a simple uniform.  For me, this could consist of a pair of black pants that fit me like a dream, along with a flowing, pretty, different top for each day.  The tops would be the same style, just a different color. With 5 pairs of pants and 5 tops, I would be good to go!

Summer time is the easiest time of year for getting dressed.  Everyone dresses more casual at my office.  I have several inexpensive pairs of shoes in several colors.  After getting dressed in my pre-selected outfit, I simply slip on the pair that match the best.

So that's my tiny tip for saving money on clothes.  Love what you have!  If you feel great in your outfits, look good, and cut out the stress of getting dressed, you will better be able to avoid the temptation of going shopping for more clothes!

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Tiny Frugal Tip #1

Welcome to a new series of posts that I plan to do, called "A Tiny Frugal Tip". They'll be short and sweet, but hopefully you can glean some information to save a few dollars!
Here's a tiny tip that's also frugal.  Put your body wash in an empty liquid soap dispenser and add a little water to it.    It lasts longer and its easier to use.  With coupons and/or sales you can buy body wash pretty inexpensively.

I was experiencing some dry skin on my legs and after I started shaving with the lathered up body wash,  my legs are smooth and soft.  I like it better than shaving cream or regular soap.

Its easy to pump the body wash onto your washcloth or directly onto your legs.

Its hard to get that last little bit of the body wash out of the original bottle, so I add a little water to it and shake it.  Then its easy to get every drop out.

I like the convenience of having pumps in the bath tub, so I am thinking of transferring my shampoo and conditioner to an empty pump bottle as well.  Adding a little water to shampoo and conditioner is a good idea I think, because you are going to lather it up with water on your head anyway.

Just a tiny tip to finish off the week!

Happy Friday!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pockets of Time

Good Monday morning to you!

I've been really busy lately, but I am trying to manage my time better in order to get more things done.  I need more "at home" time!  I've been trying to make use of little pockets of time, such as the minute or two it takes for a cup of coffee to brew, or if I can get ready for work fast enough in the morning, there might be a few minutes left for crafting or cleaning.

Recent examples of things done during that short pocket of time when the coffee is brewing are that I unloaded most of a load of dishes from the dishwasher,  folded a few pieces of laundry and started some tea bags brewing.  In the past I would jump up during a TV commercial and quilt a little.  Now we watch most of our tv on Netflix, so no commercials! LOL

Using small pockets of time works well for sewing projects.  Here are some key fobs I've been working on lately.  This one is for my daughter.

This one is for my friend and coworker.

 This is one in progress for my daughter-in-law.

I finally learned how to download embroidery patterns from the internet!  I bought this curly monogram from an Etsy shop.  This was just a practice piece, using some scrap fabric, but you can see how it will turn out.  I am going to be putting monograms on bags, and more, for gifts.  In pockets of time, I can work on them in baby steps.  The first step is to choose the fabric, followed by pressing the fabric and putting it and the stabilizer into the hoop.

My monogram on scrap fabric.
The majority of my pocket time has been used to water plants in the yard during this whole summer.  Thank goodness for some rain lately, which allowed me to skip my watering chores occasionally.   I'm looking forward to fall and winter and more time for homemaking and crafting.

Have a great day!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Sunday Nugget - Amen

I babysat one of my grandsons Friday night and he gave me quite a few chuckles!  Kids can say some funny things and of course we grandparents think everything they say and do is the best ever.

I was reading a book to this one who is only 8 days shy of his third birthday at bedtime.  The book is called "Night Night Little Pookie" by Sandra Boynton and it is one of his favorites.  He especially loves that I read it just like the book sounds to me with lots of excitement and sound effects:  "OH POOOOOKIE!  ITS TIME FOR BED NOW!!  When I got to the end, he jumped right in and hollered, "AMEN!".  It was so funny that instead of saying "THE END!", he said "AMEN!".

I say Amen at the end of prayers, or when I agree with something, without really thinking about it.  So a quick search revealed that the real meaning of "Amen" is "So Be It" and signifies strong agreement. 

May your Sunday and the upcoming week be filled with many blessings and AMENS!

(Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I appreciate your using them! This means that I may receive a small compensation.)

Swag Luau Team Challenge - US

One more quick Swagbucks post!

Swagbucks is holding a Luau Team Challenge to help you earn free gift cards. For those of you who don't know what Swagbucks is, it's a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web! 
If you've never tried Swagbucks before because you didn't know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! The challenge, begins Monday, August 14th at 8am PT, but you can pre-register today.

Here's how you can join the challenge and the site:  
1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team.
2. Starting August 14th at 8am PDT, in addition to earning SB you'll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.
3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you've contribute so far.   

All members who participate and contribute at least 600 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card! 
Not only that, but if you sign up under me this month and earn 300 SB before September 1st, you'll get a 300 SB bonus!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 100 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 3rd place team will receive a 30 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, August 18th at 2pm PT and will expire on Thursday, August 31st at 11:59pm PT.

(Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I appreciate your using them! This means that I may receive a small compensation.)

Swagbucks Back To School Sale (US Only)

Good morning!  For anyone who is interested, here's another Swagbucks Post.

Through September 8th you'll get double cash back (in the form of SB points) or more when you shop for Back to School essentials at your favorite retailers through Swagbucks. They also have offers where you can earn SB points towards free gift cards for trying school-related products and services.

Then you can take all the SB points you earn and use them to get gift cards and PayPal cash! Click here to see all of the deals they're running, and if you sign up through me during this sale you'll get $10 for making your first purchase! That's in addition to the normal SB you get for your purchases.

New to Swagbucks?

If you don't know about Swagbucks, its a website that allows you to earn gift cards by doing things such as:

*On line shopping through their site
*Answering surveys
*Watching videos
*Playing games
*Searching with their search engine (works just like Google)
*Entering swag codes
*And many other miscellaneous ways

The key to earning gift cards is consistency.

Here's my Swagbucks Sign Up Referral Link.

(Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I appreciate your using them! This means that I may receive a small compensation.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Fabric and Yarn Fairy has been!

The fabric and yarn fairy has been to my house! Well.... actually it was my sister. She is cleaning out the area where she stores her craft supplies and is not doing much sewing and crocheting any more. So, I am the happy and lucky recipient!

I haven't had a chance to really go through it all and see all the treasures, but laying right there on top is a Moda Layer Cake and a Moda Jelly Roll!  There are packs of matching fat quarters, and all kinds of wonderful scraps and large pieces of fabric.  Even the basket was included in the gift.

I see lots of sewing and quilting in my future!

I am also going to be looking for ideas for using the yarn and looking forward to crocheting in the Fall and Winter this year.

Do you have any easy crochet Christmas gift ideas? 

Thank you sister!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Speed Cleaning Tip - Let it sit

Many years ago I bought a book called "Speed Cleaning" at a library discarded book sale.  THIS is the book.  There is a picture of the book on my right side bar.  If you want to order the book, my suggestion would be to find the cheapest used version, which at the moment is $1.51, plus $3.99 shipping.  I've decided to review the book again and try to put some of its ideas to work in my home.

One idea is that when you have a grimy area to clean, a dried on spill, or built up stains, spray the area, or simply squeeze some water on it.  Instead of using your time and elbow grease, let the liquid do the work.  Move on to something else for a few minutes and when you come back, you just wipe it off!

Saturday I put this idea to work with this bottle of spray cleaner I bought on the dollar aisle at Dollar General.  This stuff works so great!  I have bought Tilex in the past, but no more.  For one dollar, you would not believe how well it works. 

First of all I worked on the stainless steel sinks in the kitchen.  Here's a before picture.   The brown stuff is a build up of coffee, etc.  It is pretty easy to clean by scrubbing, but I just sprayed the cleaner, walked away a few minutes and when I came back, all I had to do was rinse!

Before with yucky brown build up.
This picture shows the drain after I sprayed it and walked away.

Spray and let it sit!

This is after rinsing the cleaner down the drain.

After rinsing, no scrubbing.
I was on a roll and so here are pictures of more areas I applied the spray, let it sit, and came back and rinsed or wiped away the grime.

The sink in the laundry/bathroom.

The top of the freezer had stains and a build up of dust.

The knobs on the stove had a build up of grime, even though we wiped them every time we cooked.  I hadn't even noticed until I put on my reading glasses and looked close!  That's another tip!  Put on your reading glasses, or just get close.  You will be amazed at the grime that is there that you don't notice.

I removed the knobs, sprayed, and let them sit.

They are nice and clean now.

Clean knobs.
One thing I can't stand is a grimy can opener.  There can be all kinds of bacteria on there from food and seems like a recipe for food poisoning to me.  I removed the part that actually opens the cans and let it go through a dishwasher cycle.  Then I sprayed the rest of the can opener with my spray with bleach, let it sit and then wiped off all the grime.  Here's my clean and sparkly can opener.

The next area I plan to put this idea to work on is the white cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom.  I can clean a few doors a day.  This one definitely needs some cleaning.

I hope this post gives you some ideas of ways to use the wet it, let it sit and rinse, speed cleaning idea.

Do you spray grime and let it soak, or do you "scrub it now"?

Swagbucks Swago - Back to School Shopping Edition - Starts Today

Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago! What is SWAGO you ask? It's a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you've never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly.  

I tried Swago for the first time last month.  Its fun, but challenging and is just like playing bingo.

Click here to get started
Here’s what you need to know to get your 200 SB Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern):
  • Shop Swago will begin on Monday, August 7th at 9am PT/12pm ET, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Thursday, August 10th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

    Also, if you sign up through me this month, you'll get a $10 rebate when you makeyour first purchase via Swagbucks Shopping! You can activate it in the "Swag Ups" area of "My Account"
  •  Click Here to use my referral link.

Glimpses of Home - HOOKS!

Now that's an exciting title, isn't it?  HaHa  While working around the house the other day I realized that I have a lot of over t...