Monday, November 20, 2017

Kitchen Facelift for $2.29!

I had these gray plastic handles on my kitchen cabinets. They were there when we moved in. Menards often has some awesome rebates and they had some oak/brass handles for free after rebate. 

Here is a "before" photo of my kitchen drawers:

I am very pleased with the "after" outcome! 

 My husband had to buy a few extra screws for the handles because the screws were too short. Those came to $2.29!

I am very pleased with the kitchen face lift for next to nothing! I wish I had a "before" snapshot of this view but you will have to use your imagination with the first photo. I love the nice face lift for next to free!

Happy Savings! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pennies, Pennies Everywhere! Using Your Leftovers

Do you throw out your leftovers? If so, here is a great way to begin saving some money. You might look in the bottom of this pan at these few bits of rice and chicken and say "That's not enough for my family of four!" and dump it into the trash. Oh! It hurt me to even write that! The thought of people throwing out good food and wasting money gives me a pain in my heart. What can you do with what is in this pan? Read on!

I have used our leftovers for many years. For me, it was a necessity. But not only is it a necessity for many, it's very important that as a society we move to be less wasteful. This bit of food would make a great lunch for one. It could be eaten right away or put into a freezer container as an easy to grab lunch. 

Another option: Cook more rice and add it to the mix. You could add some more frozen broccoli and stretch it out for a full meal.

One of the greatest advantages to leftovers, besides saving money, is saving time. It's so easy to throw some leftovers on the table.

I read this article today and was shocked! The article is called "Why Americans Have Stopped Eating Leftovers". People are throwing out so much food! People complain so often about not having enough money to go around but I see these pennies, pennies everywhere! 

I wonder how we have gone to being a frugal and thrifty people to being so wasteful? I don't want to sound moralizing here but our mantra should be Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without. We used to be a country of immigrants who understood want. Now people complain about not having enough money while throwing good food in the trash. Inexcusable!

Okay. You got my feelings on that issue. ;) I feel really good when I save money. And eating leftovers and saving money and time makes me feel really good. Over the years, those pennies add up and they make a nice cushion so you don't have to live paycheck to paycheck. We can all be more free when we make freeing choices. 

Happy Savings!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gluten Free Mississippi Mud Cake: Guest Blog

This is a guest blog. I recently had a birthday and my daughter made me this gluten free cake! It tastes great. I have recently started eating gluten free and I feel much better. Eating gluten free is not cheap though, so we make a lot from scratch. Purchasing a gluten free cake like this would be very pricey!

Gluten Free Mississippi Mud Cake
16 servings
Begin making this cake early in the day, and allow plenty of time for cooling.

To make this cake, I merged two recipes together, and modified them a bit to suit the cake. The original Mississippi Mud cake recipe is found in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts. (Their recipes are not even a little bit gluten free. Shame on them! :P)

Credit for the chocolate cake recipe goes to Sarah at Her blog is full of delicious looking gluten free recipes, so feel free to check them out too!

The recipe looks a bit intimidating, but don't let it fool you. Each step is quite easy, and there isn't a whole lot to mess up. Making this cake will take up a good chunk of your day, though. So make sure to budget some time. (I believe it took me about 3 hours the first time I made it, not counting cooling time.)

It's totally worth it though! This cake is super rich and can only be described as decadent. I've been making the gluten version of this cake for years, and it is always super popular wherever I take it. This gluten free version is actually better than the original in many ways!

Full Ingredient List:

* 1/2 cup butter, plus 3 tablespoons
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup oat flour
* 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour blend
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups pure dark cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk (or you can use 1 cup milk and mix with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.)
* 1/2 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, plus another 1 1/2 teaspoons
* 2/3 cup hot water
* 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (check label to ensure it is gluten free)
* 8 oz semi-sweet melting chocolate (check label to ensure it is gluten free)
* 3 tablespoons water
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (check label to ensure it is gluten free)

Step One: Walnut-Mixture

* 1/2 cup butter (save the extra 3 tablespoons for later)
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup oat flour

Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper.
Over low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in the walnuts, brown sugar, and oat flour.
Divide mixture evenly between your prepared cake pans and pat to evenly cover the bottom. Set aside.

Step Two: Chocolate cake

* 2 cups gluten free flour blend
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk (or you can use 1 cup milk and mix with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before adding to the batter.)
* 1/2 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Drizzle in hot water slowly, scraping the bowl while beating on low. Batter will be thin.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and gently tap pans until the batter is evenly spread.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. [I did find that Sarah's estimate on baking in cake pans was a bit off. My cakes were in the oven for about 35 minutes. Just keep an eye on it, and remove when the toothpick comes out clean.]
Cool in pan until just cool enough to handle.

Step Three: Assembly

* 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows (I was out of mini marshmallows, so I sliced regular sized marshmallows into fourths.)

While still hot, carefully place one cake layer, with the walnut-mixture side up, on a cake plate.
Top with a single layer of marshmallows.
Immediately place second cake layer, walnut-mixture side down, on top of the marshmallows so they will melt. (I used a dinner plate to flip the cake out of the pan, and then flip again on top of the marshmallows.)
Insert long skewer in center of the cake to keep the top layer from sliding.
Allow cake to sit, or refrigerate, until completely cool.

Step Four: Glaze

* 8 oz semi-sweet melting chocolate
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons water
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Once the cake has fully cooled, begin making the glaze. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate, 3 tablespoons butter, and water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.
Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature.
Add the powdered sugar, beating with a spoon until well blended and a thick spreading consistency. (If your mixture is a grainy texture, add a bit more water.)
Remove the skewer from the cake. Spread glaze over the top and allow it to drip down the sides of the cake.
Garnish as desired. (I used chocolate chips and dusted a bit of powdered sugar on top.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pennies, Pennies Everywhere! Save Your Pumpkin Seeds and Toast Them!

 Every year I grow pumpkins. Mostly, I grow them because I like how they look on my deck in the fall of the year. (I did not grow all of these in this photo!) I also take the cornstalks I grew, tie them in a bundle, and use them for fall decoration. One bonus to growing pumpkins is toasted pumpkin seeds! When you cut open the pumpkin there will be a gooey glop of pumpkin seeds in the middle of the pumpkin. These need to be scooped out. 

Then comes the fun part, pulling all the glop off the pumpkin seeds! 

 Here is a recipe for toasting pumpkin seeds: There are a few different ones out there. Some of them have a Cajun flair if you like that. In short order, you will have some yummy toasted pumpkin seeds that are mostly free to you, since you probably otherwise would have thrown them out! 

I had a small pumpkin this time and I am cooking it just for scooping and eating. You can also make pies or bread with pumpkin. 

Happy Savings!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Make $71.00 an Hour Tax Free! Or How I Purchased $286.07 of Stuff for $72.40 Today in Three Hours!

I haven't done too much writing this summer but I have been consistently saving money. This is how I live my life! For me, frugality isn't something I do once in a while but it is a lifestyle. I love to save money! Today, I went out shopping and here are some of the deals I got.

I love fall mums. These had been $3.94 but they were marked down to $2.76. I placed them on a table (that I got brand new for $1.99 a few years ago) with a pumpkin from my garden. (My garden has only given me this one pumpkin so far this year!)

My husband asked me to look on the "Oops shelf" for paint to see what I could find. He has been building a tree stand (with mostly scraps!) He said he wanted an exterior flat paint in either brown or gray or dark green. You can find paint that someone else rejected pretty inexpensively, usually in a corner somewhere in the paint section. I found this. However, it was tan. I asked them if they could make it more brownish. The man at the counter tried but I don't think he knew too much about mixing colors without a chart to go by. The first time, it turned out exactly the same color. The second try, he got it closer to a brownish gray and so I took it! This was normally $17.77 and I got it for $8.88.

The tan color is the original color and the grayish is the end result, which my husband was happy with!

Here is a photo of the tree stand in progress. All the lumber my husband had as scraps in his shed. He did have to buy some roof and side parts. I bought the carpet from a garage sale for $5.00. 

I found this beautiful oak rustic table at a garage sale today. They were originally asking $45.00 for it but had marked it down to $25.00 since it was getting late in the day. I didn't ask them to take any less since they had already marked it down. I love it! 

I got a lot of deals at some stores today. I have a photo of them below. Here are some of the deals. I will mark them as normal price/sale price:

Cranberry drinks: $4.95/$2.50
Sandals: $9.99/$1.09
Collagen Gummies: $14.99/$5.99
Let Freedom Ring Block: $3.99/.40
4th of July Window Decals: $1.99/.20 x 5= $9.95/$1.00
Christmas Present: $9.99/$1.59
Excipial Cream: $14.70/$3.49
Heart rate monitor: $29.99/$2.99
2 Folders .79/.08=$1.58/.16
Men's Shorts $13.93/$1.00
Women's Shorts $12.00/$1.00
Greens $18.99/$13.49
Pecans $4.98/$1.00 x 10=$49.80/$10.00
Almonds $4.98/$1.00 x 5= $24.90/$5.00
Christmas Present $19.96/$2.00
Erasers .97/.10
Toilet Brushes $4.98/$3.00 x 2 = $9.96/$6.00
Grapes $5.96/$1.96
Sunscreen $7.76/$1.00

I am only going to add up the regular cost and the clearance costs on the items I purchased today. I am not including sale costs on things I purchased such as cereal etc. There are a number of sale items I bought but it's just too much work to include it all! I am also not including garage sale items or items like the pair of Lee Jeans I found for my husband at Goodwill today. 

The clearance items were a total of $286.07 at regular price. I paid $72.40 for a difference of  $213.67. It took me about three hours to shop for these items. That works out to about $71.00 an hour tax free! 

Some people don't understand why someone would shop like this. They would rather buy things when they need them, one at a time. I understand that. It's easy and convenient. The reason for shopping like this is in the numbers. If you don't mind some inconvenience, shopping like this can really pay. And when you do it week after week, month after month and year after year, it all adds up! We all have to make our choices. For me, this lifestyle makes me happy! I would rather have some financial freedom and a little inconvenience. 

Happy Savings! 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Back to School Savings!!

Back to School! This can be a really challenging time for parents who are trying to budget. There are supplies, clothes, school fees. It can seem never ending! I haven't needed to do back to school shopping for a number of years now, but I remember how it was. For me, the biggie was the school fees because there wasn't any way to scrimp and save on those, so I just concentrated on scrimping and saving on everything else!

The way I saved on clothing was that I bought clothes off the clearance racks at the end of every season and saved them until the next year. I don't think there was ever a year that the next size up didn't work for either one of my kids. I supplemented with the thrift store. That way, they had new clothes but they also had a decent amount of them. I don't remember them ever complaining.

I also bought a lot of school supplies the year before whenever I was at a store that had certain things for next to nothing, so I never had to spend a ton on supplies.

What can you do if you haven't shopped ahead and need things now? Here are some tips:

1. Look at the flyers of stores you regularly go to (and maybe some you don't) and find different things they have on sale. You can find crayons and markers at one, folders and tablets at another. This does take some running around, and you have to decide if the gas and time spent are worth it, but if you are taking a day for back to school shopping anyway and these stores are close to each other, it may be well worth your time. 

2. If your kids are fussy and/or you simply want to provide them with new clothes, you may have to get the new things at an inexpensive place like Wal-Mart. Then, after you purchase a modest amount, just so they can have something new, you could go around to a number of thrift stores. Some people are afraid of thrift stores but I am not by any means! You can find amazing things there, better quality than Wal-mart and sometimes even brand new!  If your kids don't want to go and browse, I would suggest doing it yourself. You can buy a few things you think they will like and return them if they don't. 

3. Garage sales are still going on and you might find a few things there. 

All in all, back to school doesn't have to cost a fortune. It always will take a bit of a bite, especially with the school fees. A good thing to remember too, is when you are buying those great deals from store to store to pick up enough for next year too, if you can, and know you have planned well ahead. If you do this every year, and get ahead of the curve, even if you have a very skinny year financially, you will know ahead of time your kids will be well stocked.

Happy Savings! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How a Concert and Dinner for Two Cost Less Than $35 Including Gas!

It's been a very busy summer so I haven't been doing a lot of posting but I can say I've been having a lot of fun! One of those fun things is this Three Dog Night concert. The whole thing, two tickets, two dinners and gas to get there cost about $35.00.

When I am looking through papers and emails, I am always scanning for opportunities. My husband mentioned earlier that he would like to find some concerts to go to. I like going to concerts too but I always cough at the price tag-anywhere from around $35-$70 per person for a ticket. 

 When I saw Three Dog Night was playing at a festival not too far from our home and that they started at 6:00 PM (another bonus!) and it was only $10.00 a person, I jumped at the opportunity!

 They had bubble blowing and a balloon raising and a lot of other fun things going on too.

When we are out and about and we (mostly me) don't feel like spending a lot on dinner, we will go to McDonalds or some other fast food place and do my cheapy buy. This time, we each got a McDouble (always less than a double cheeseburger, but more than a regular cheeseburger), one small french fry that we split and a side salad that we also split. We order water to drink. I take the cover from the side salad and divide it into two and get an extra fork. This was $7.24.

This time, we wanted sundaes afterwards. We got one hot fudge and one caramel. This came to $3.14. 

So a total of $10.38 for food and $20.00 for tickets. That equals $30.38 and it probably cost less than $4.62 for gas. 

All in all this was a very inexpensive way to have dinner for two and a concert on top of it!

Happy Savings!