Tag Archive for frugal

Favorite Things Fridays

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Favorite Things post, so today’s post is newsy.

Yesterday we enjoyed a grower reception at Ocean Spray and got to meet the OS “commercial guys.”



I am busy getting ready for Christmas. I have a good chunk of my shopping done.

I want to be done early because my kids are coming home for Thanksgiving for a week! Woot! Plus we have three birthdays to celebrate that week as well, so I need to be organized in order to get it all done. :)

And once Thanksgiving weekend is over, life seems to get busier than I like. If we’re not careful, we can spend our time reacting to life rather than planning it out and living it well. I wrote extensively about keeping holiday sanity (and not breaking the bank!) in my ebook “Merry Christmas, Meager Budget” available here.  (<—also, grab 2 free chapters here as well.) Plus, we have an Instagram Giveawayhttps://instagram.com/p/9eF9D4lcMo/ of 4 copies of our eBook going on right now so head on over there to enter for you and a friend.

Here are some of my favorite things around the web. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

CRAFTY:: 1 Million free vintage images from the British Library.

Learn how artist/illustrator Renee Graef illustrates a book. She’s definitely one of my favorite illustrators.

MOTHERHOOD:: Sally Clarkson on teaching obedience to your kids.Sally Clarkson on teaching obedience.

Also, we’re newbies to the world of foster care but this was a great article about the need entitled “Wanted: Parents Willing to Get too Attached. Someday, when I can, I’ll write a little bit about the roller coaster of emotions that is foster care, but for now, we’re praying our way through this journey and loving on our little guy.

EDUCATIONAL:: This video: Watch 1000 Years of European Borders Change in 3 Minutes.

This 3D animation of how the heart works is fascinating.

CHRISTIAN GROWTH:: This super insightful post by Piper entitled The Major Obstacle in Forgiving Others might make you think twice about why you like to hold a grudge.

“… if we do this —if we really return good for evil, not the kind of manipulative way that hopes to really draw attention to the other person’s guilt…then very few people, if anybody, will know that we have been hurt.”

Holly Stratton’s article about relational struggles sheds light on our struggles with pride when faced with the pride of others and how God graciously uses other’s sin to show us our own.

KITCHEN:: This is by far my most pinned recipe: Copycat Dunkin Donuts Vanilla Chai Tea Mix. Great for fall and Christmas gift giving.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff via Allrecipes is one of my favorite recipes to make for a crowd. Serve with green beans, cranberry sauce and rolls. Yum.

BOOKS:: I am currently enjoying Relying on the Power of the Holy Spirit by Elizabeth George, and Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life, which I find myself coming back to again and again. Peterson is extremely insightful and calming, if you know what I mean. Her section on community and identifying with family after a loved one passes away was worth the cost of the book. Also, Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment. Because you can’t be godly and discontent, now can you? 😉 I wrote about that choosing contentment  even when life gets hard and what to remember when it does. 

What links did you enjoy this week? Feel free to share in the comments. Or if you blog, feel free to share one of your own links. Have a great weekend!

*Post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

DIY Spring Bird’s Nest Tutorial

Even though we still have two feet of snow on the ground, I’m working on decorating my house for spring. Today my goal was to finish decorating my mantle.

I made this bird’s nest for the mantle and thought I’d share how I made it. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but if you are not crafty, maybe this will help you to try your own. I just LOVE bird’s nests in general, so this is one of the sweetest crafts in my opinion.

DIY bird's nest


You need two grapevine wreaths, one bigger and one smaller. The smaller one should fit inside the larger one. I found these at the Dollar Tree.

Using the larger grapevine wreath as the top of the nest and the smaller one as the bottom, wire the two wreaths together. Then form a bottom of the nest by weaving the wire like a basket. It’s okay if it’s a mess. It will all be covered. You want the basic shape of a nest or a bowl. Wire it to death if you have to to get the rounded shape.

Next, I used a glue gun to add moss to the outside. I found the moss ribbon at Jo-Ann’s Fabric for $3.99. I pulled the moss so that it looked loose and sparse and not “ribbonny.” I wanted it to look natural.

After I line the outside with green moss, I added some to the inside of the nest. I then stuffed the bottom with a good sized handful of Spanish Moss, also from the Dollar Tree.
After the basic nest is done, you can pretty it up by hot gluing small flowers, berries, or leaves around the perimeter.

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

I filled mine with five little eggs (for my 5 kids). The eggs were also at Jo-Ann’s. Other years, I’ve used the nest as a candy dish, placing a shallow dish inside and filling it with Cadbury Mini Eggs, which look adorable. I’ve also filled them with yellow Peeps for Easter.
Here’s the finished mantle. I used things I had around the house: an old Ball Jar filled with moss, one of my favorite antiques, a signed Wallace Nutting print entitled “The Coming Out of Rose”, some galvanized buckets filled with greens and a few natural elements from some potpourri I had around the house. I hope this inspires you to try your own nest. Send me pics if you make one!


DIY Spring Tulips for the Front Door

picmonkey_imageNever mind the fact that it’s blizzardous outside, today. I’m sharing a spring décor idea.

Everywhere you look on Pinterest and Etsy, you’ll see tulip wreaths.



I’ve eyed this one for some time and have seen variations galore on this same theme, so I  decided to try my hand at making something similar.

I tried analyzing the ratio of pink, fuchsia and white tulips in the pics so I could make mine similar. I’m so scientific like that, don’t you know.


Anyway, when I got to Michael’s last night I learned two things:

  • You want to buy “mini” tulip bunches, not regular sized tulips. I used Ashland brand which were 50% off, making each stem $2.
  • THEY sell the very tri-color tulip bunches I wanted, so all my math was wasted. 😉

I quickly decided that the wreath was out of the question financially, because I’d need 20 bunches of tulips! I decided to move to plan B which was to fill a container with tulips.



I used 10 bunches of tulips. They didn’t have enough of the tri-color tulip bunches, so I bought a bunch of white, pale pink and fuchsia. (I just matched the tri-color bunches.) I moved all the greenery up the stem before I clipped them apart with wire cutters. I grouped a fuschia, pale pink and white together so the color would be evenly distributed.

I used a piece of floral foam and shoved it into the container. (You can fill any flat backed container that you like.)

Then I started filling the tulips in making sure they were as tall and wide as I wanted the finished piece to be. I added a bow. Simple and Spring-y.

I used the rest of the tulips to fill a tea pot for my living room.


Do you have a hard time thinking of front door decorations like I do? Someone should open a business selling just front door decor and table centerpieces! There’s a market for that. 😉







6 Money-Saving Tips for Throwing A Graduation Party

I love trying to save money, playing the CVS game, and have been inspired anew after reading Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.
(I loved Crystal’s story, by the way. Practical, inspiring and manageable.)

I had a thought. Not a deep one, mind you. But what if you needed an extra $100 dollars a month? There are 30 days in one month which means you’d need to make $3.30 per day of income. Then, I wondered, “How easy would it be to save that much money by clipping coupons?” I would need to find roughly 4 one dollar printable coupons per day on things I already buy. I think it’s doable! For any of you who are looking to pinch pennies, maybe this strategy would work for you as well?


Which leads me to my post. I’ve thrown two graduation parties so far and I’m sharing what I did. Nothing novel or new, but it might just help someone! :)

Six Smart Money-Saving Steps for Throwing a Graduation Party.

Graduation season is just around the corner! If you have a teen who is graduating high school, you likely have two big ticket expenses in your very near future: a graduation party and college bills. And while can’t help on the college bill, I can give you some money-saving tips for throwing a great graduation party without blowing your budget.

The key to staying within your budget is to plan way ahead. Last minute shopping puts you at the mercy of store prices, while planning ahead puts you in control of your budget and make you “Most Likely To Succeed.”

Here are six simple strategies to help you save:


1. Plan your menu early. Decide how simple or elaborate your event will be. Make a detailed list of appetizers, drinks, desserts, utensils, chairs, tents, and anything else you’ll need. This helps you avoid costly last minute surprises.

2. Choose low cost main dishes. $2/per pound is a great price for main dish meats like chicken, beef and ham. Here are some of my favorite inexpensive party meals:

  • Finger sandwich platters. Buy boneless chicken breast on sale for making chicken salad.
  • Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Remember to use coupons for the hot dogs and buy ground beef when it hits its lowest price.
  • Pulled Pork BBQ. This easily feeds a crowd and whole pork loin is often on sale for $1.99/lb. The night before the event, grease a large crock pot, cut the pork loin in half, put it in the slow cooker and slather with bbq sauce. (I love Sweet Baby Rays. I use a whole bottle.) Cook all night on low. In the morning, shred it, discard any fat, add more sauce and put in tin serving trays. Cover until ready to serve. Warm in oven before serving.
  • Lasagna or Stuffed Shells. Assemble ahead and freeze.
  • Chicken, Broccoli and Ziti Bake.  Delicious served with grated Romano, Ceasar Salad and garlic bread. Yum!
  • Spiral Ham. Plan to buy around Easter when the prices drop.


3. Shop for non-perishables now.  Decide what appetizers you’ll make and begin using coupons to stock pile things like crackers, juice for punch, soda, coffee, chips, pickles, condiments, paper goods, etc. Don’t forget to use coupons for any brownie mixes, cake mixes, or baking supplies you’ll need.

4.  Save money on printed invitations by watching coupon sites for photo deal alerts.  Many sites have great deals on photo printing around Easter. Use a photo of your child, insert text and party information— you’re good to go.

5. Beg, borrow or steal props. (Okay, don’t steal.) Ask family and friends to borrow folding chairs, shade tents, table clothes, crock pots, or even decor. Nobody will mind lending a hand.


Peter made this 9-Square-In-The-Air for the kids out of PVC pipe and rope. It was a hit.

Peter made this 9-Square-In-The-Air for the kids out of PVC pipe and rope. It was a hit.


6. Decorate Well. Even if your menu is simple, the atmosphere of a party is important. Simple, inexpensive decorations will pull your party together and make the day extra festive. Some ideas:

Cans wrapped with twine or colorful yarn. Easy, beautiful.

My friend, Julie, wrapped these cans with twine and colorful yarn. Easy, beautiful.


  • Candles displayed in Mason jars–especially gorgeous at dusk!
  • Flowers tucked into old cans which have been wrapped with colorful yarns.
  • Well-wishes scribbled on an old chalkboard.
  • Childhood photos pinned to a running clothesline. Make sure to include old pictures of your family and friends with your child. It’s fun to remember old times with people you love, and they appreciate being remembered, too.
  • White christmas lights hung in tree branches.

Other tips: 

  • A pitcher of ice water with sliced lemons or oranges are perfect (and pretty!) on a hot day when people are thirsty.
  • Make ice ahead and freeze in ziplock bags. You won’t have to buy ice that day.
  • Ask a camera-savy friend to photograph the day for you. You’ll want to have pictures of the day for that baby book. 😉
  • Buy a journal and ask your guests to pen a few lines of advice to the graduate. This makes a wonderful keepsake.

Don’t forget tissues. You’re gonna need them! :) You get all emotional thinking about them leaving for college. Trust me on this one.


Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas {for those with little time, money or energy.}

Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, girls. Yup. And if you are in need of some last minute, frugal ideas, I have a few for you.

1. No money to go out? Hype the kids up for a special early dinner (pizza?) in front of a short movie (ahem–so you can prepare), then put them to bed early so you and your husband can have some alone time. Then eat in.

  • If you can’t afford a sitter, but can afford a meal, set up a pretty table and order your favorite meal from a local restaurant. (call ahead about take out wait times on Valentine’s Day.)
  • If you can’t afford a meal or sitter, make something your husband loves. Mine loves French Onion soup with cheese and anything roast beef or steak.
  • If you are on a tiny budget, make a really special dessert and coffee. Some ideas:
  1. Chocolate Covered Strawberries are quick and simple. Micro 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1T butter for 45 seconds. Stir. Continue heating and checking every 20 seconds until smooth. Dip clean, washed and patted dry strawberries. Yum! You can also dip pretzels, oranges, etc…
  2. Martha Stewart’s Molten Chocolate Cake is to die for.

2. Set the Stage: Light an entire package of tea lights ($1/dozen at the Dollar Tree) while you eat. Stick them in anything glass and group them together for an airy, romantic atmosphere.

One year, I brought patio furniture into our bedroom and set a table in there. On the window, I filled whatever I could find with a tea light candle. It was lovely.

3. Gift? All you need is a card. Can you lean in so I can whisper some advice an older woman gave me once? She said “Honey, guys don’t care about gifts. Just buy him a card, and inside of it tuck a new pair of the tiniest lace undies you can find.” Total winner of an idea. I promise.

What are your last minute Valentine’s Ideas? Share in the comments.


Merry Christmas, Meager Budget Ebook Giveaway

UPDATE: The giveaway is over, but you can snag your own copy here on SALE for just $3.99 right now!


Merry Christmas, Meager Budget Giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of our new ebook, Beth and I are giving away FIVE copies in 12 hours!


This book is written for tired mothers everywhere. Christmas can be overwhelming and can become a test of stamina instead of the joyous holiday it was meant to be. This book covers:

  • Limit your spending during the holiday season.
  • Saying “NO” to many good, fun activities so you can enjoy time making memories with your kids.
  • Plan your calendar so you don’t run yourself ragged.
  • Decorate your home on a dime.
  • Create thoughtful gifts on a limited budget.
  • Whip up some delicious recipes in the kitchen.
  • Create fun memories for your kids without breaking the bank.
Purchasing info:
This is in a pdf. format, so you can either read it on your computer, or on a mobile device or e-reader.
117 pages

Add to Cart

Enter to win a copy of “Merry Christmas, Meager Budget” here. Ends tonight at 12pm!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY Tutorial for Farmhouse “Primitive” Look Furniture


Have a piece of furniture that totally needs a face lift?

I did. I gave this small end table a new look using three quick steps. (under and hour!)
This technique can be used for anything wooden. Cupboards, shelves, coffee tables, etc. And you can use whatever color latex paint you like. I think the nicest results come from using black, cranberry, sage green and mustard colored bases. I usually use Minwax Jacobean Stain.

I put together this how-to video for painting furniture with a distressed, old, farmhouse finish. Enjoy!



Linked to Courtney @ Women Living Well