Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ahh....The Smell of Christmas, Cheap & Cheerfully.

I love, love the smell of Christmas. I used to splurge during the holidays and buy a Gold Canyon candle. I would usually get 2, one for the fall and one for Christmas.

For the last several years I have been making my own mulling spices to simmer on the stove. I love it cause I can turn it on and let it summer and it fills the whole house, just not where the candle is.

It also make GREAT Christmas presents. I make a batch and then package it up in little plastic bags (the craft ones that are like ziploc bags), you can use a ziploc bag or a cute little container. You don't need to worry about it being food safe since you aren't consuming it.

To be completely honest I kind of dump and add. I don't measure anything. I do that a lot in cooking also! ha ha Hey it spices things up!

But here is a picture and a list of what I dump and add....

Random Spices;

Cinnamon ( I prefer sticks, but either works)
Cloves (I prefer the whole ones, but either works)
Orange peels
Lemon peels

When I am just putting a pot together at home I usually just use the ground up spices and I use just like dollar store or cheapy spices. For the orange and lemon peel I use dehydrated for gift giving (buy at Sprouts in their bulk spices, or you can buy at the grocery store but I think they cost more). When I use them at home I cut away the orange part (Yum....and share it with Kyle!) and then cut the fresh orange peel into smaller pieces. I then lay out the other half of peel to dry. Once dry I keep them in a bag in the fridge to use when I don't have fresh oranges.

If I am just making a batch at home I dump it right into the pan. I have an old beat up pan we inherited when we got married. One of my husbands bachelor pans...ha ha perfect for a mulling spice pan. I full it up and let it simmer. I just keep it on the back burning. As the water gets low I just add more. It lasts a long time before I dump it and make some more. Sometimes if I just want to "freshen" it up I have a big container of nutmeg so I will just throw a little extra of that in.

I made these with cute little glittery tags for Christmas a couple years ago to give out to all Kyle's docs and nurses at the oncology clinic. They all loved them!!! I love love to give these as gifts. When making it for gifts I use try to use cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, "real" dehydrated orange and lemon peels. But you can of course use ground cinnamon, and you could include some of your own dehydrated orange or lemon. You could even on purpose slice lemons and oranges to dehydrate decoratively and include in the little bag of mulling spices.

Until you make your own....enjoy the picture of mine from this morning. My house smelled divine this morning!!!!

I would love to hear your Cheap and Cheerful ideas for making the house homey and feel like Christmas and what you do for Cheap and Cheerful Christmas ideas!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dem Bones!!!

I had to share this way cute Halloween treat idea I have seen for years now. I have always wanted to make them but just have never made it a priority.

I made them last night with my 4 yr old son. He did pretty well letting me do most the steps. He did think we would get them done in the typical 6-8 minutes that cookies take to make! ha ha They do take several hours and many recipes suggest you leave them in the oven overnight (with the oven turned off). But once they started to cook and browned nicely I was able to get a couple out so he could enjoy one.

I just googled Meringue Bones to pull up a ton of recipes but click the picture below for the recipe I used last night.

Meringue Bone Cookies Photo

I am also a big You Tube fan when looking up something new. Here is a cute video I found. She also gives you a recipe but she lists the egg whites as a cup measurement not a count of how many egg whites you need.

One more thing to remember is that you need to bring your egg whites to room temperature. So allow enough time ahead for them to warm up. I set them out before church and when we got home we were good to go! I used the recipe above (the linked photo not the You Tube video) and I got about 50 medium sized bones. Below are pictures of our efforts.

Making sure the bone foam is just right....

One of these is not like the others.....Kyle loved it when I served up his "K" bone.....

An oven full of Dem Bones!!!!

Some of them got a little loopy, short and chubby.......Just like me!

Is it time to eat them yet!!!

I finally got one.....
This would be an awesome thing to make for the Reverse Trick or Tricking. You get about 50 bones per batch so this would make a lot and be so cute on a little Halloween plate. Also, you can pile the meringue up in a little pile and make little ghosts. What a cute plate with bones, ghosts and then scatter some candy corn or something around. To see my post on Reverse Trick or Treating go here

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gift Ideas for every ocassion while still being Cheap & Cheerful!

We are definetly heading into gift giving season!! It is a season of Joy but sure can put a damper on your budget. What I have started is a gift tub or box. I plan on shopping for good gift ideas year round. Keep your eye out. Below are ideas that I got for $5 or under....Some of them are even money makers.

I have always worked on Christmas gifts year round. When I was on top of it I would have Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. It really does make the Christmas season so enjoyable when you are not so stressed about still having shopping to do. And it allowed me to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas and serve others.

These pitchers were $4 after coupon and I was able to mail in for a $10 rebate.I actually made a total of $12 for these 2 gifts. They would make a great housewarming, bridal shower or wedding gift or for the student off to college.

These 2 gifts would have been 100% free (I had to pay for one photo print because the code expired) Walgreens has codes for free photo gifts a lot. And then the frames were $1.97 but I had $4 overage on another coupon at Walmart.

I scored this at for $6.04 with tax. This normally around $18 and sold out quickly. So keep your eye out, you never know when something will come up! (ok I just realized this is over $5...but just by a little)

These pans were a major score (please excuse the water in the back!) These pans were......FREE!!! They were regularly $19.99 store sale -$9.99, store coupon -$10.00 = -.01 so they adjusted the coupon...I will totally take $0.00. This again would be awesome for Christmas, Bridal shower, Wedding, college student, etc.

This is a mishmash of my sons Christmas/Birthday gifts.
Operation game Retail $16 OOP* $1
Orange Water Guns Retail $8ea OOP $2.54
Dry Erase Markers Retail $6.94 OOP $0.00 (store sale and coupon)
Toy Story Game Retail $1-2? OOP $0.00 (with overage)
Ocean Lace cards Retail $8.50 OOP $4.25 ("only" 50%)

A lot of people on the couponing site I follow have been doing gift baskets for christmas. It is cheap and easy to do when you start early and grab a few things with each sale. I recently got Febreeze air freshener for .50 each. What a great home basket idea to throw in some candles, Febreeze and some little cute hand towels. A great time to get them is after the holiday (Easter, 4th of July, etc) or the season (Spring, Winter, etc). Gift baskets are a fabulous idea for teachers. Throw in some chocolate, a nice candle or Febreeze air spray. Or Do a beauty basket, like a manicur/pedicure bucket. You can always get nail polish for free or definetly Cheap and Cheerful! There are several times through out the year that we get beauty tool coupons for like Sally Hansen. Perfect time to get nail clippers, cuticle sticks, emery boards etc.

Post your awesome Cheap & Cheerful gift ideas and how you make sure to keep on budget while still picking up gifts! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

But it's just a dollar.....

What is your opinion of a dollar? How much value do you place on a dollar? It's just a dollar.....this is what my husband told me a few weeks back as I was waiting in customer service to get my $1 back because a coupon didnt scan. I could tell he thought it was a waste of time and wanted to go. My reply...."Yeah, it is a WHOLE $1, I do entire shopping trips with JUST $1."

So it got me thinking about how my opinion or views of something so simple as $1 have changed. I used to swing through the drive through a lot and grab a couple items off the $1 menu. I mean it seemed so cheap, right? is JUST a $1. Or grab an impluse item at the grocery store or Walmart. Again, it is JUST $1.

After starting to coupon and I could see how much "just" $1 could buy me I was floored. JUST $1 is like gold to me now. So yes dear hubs I will wait in line and wait for customer service to verify that the cashier had a coupon and didnt scan it for my $1.

I took some pictures of things that I got for $1 OR less.....You will be amazed at how far that $1 can actually stretch.

Only paid tax so .74 for 8 packets

Add caption

5lb bag of potatoes .88 (weigh these bags by the pound, I got one that was almost 6 lbs. so about 3/4 lb extra)
The educational items were 70% so just .30 ea at Target. So you could have boughten 2 possibly 3 wsith tax for just under $1!!
There are so many things you can find for under $1 with sales and coupons. Each dollar I have in my pocket or that I spend is precious and I always ask myself is this the best value for my $1. I even do it for everything down to a quarter. A few months ago I was able to get 4 bodywashes for .24 TOTAL and that was because of tax. I gave the cashier a QUARTER and got change back. Wow if it doesnt feel good to get change back from a quarter. The cashier and people behind me couldnt believe it.

Benjamin Franklin wasnt kidding when he said "A penny saved is a penny earned".

I will be doing a post in the next few weeks on things you should never pay for again!!! Who doesnt love Free stuff??!!! And yes it is actual useful things that everyone uses.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cheap & Cheerful Chicken....1.49/lb!

This is an awesome company and I have ordered chicken from them before, this will make the second time. It is boneless skinless fresh chicken and they are selling it at the incredible price of $1.49/lb in a 40lb case. This is the best chicken I have had in a long long time. And so reasonable. They also do bacon, hamburger and various fruits through out the year.

The chicken comes fresh, never frozen from the farms they buy from. It is all natural, no added hormones aftificial ingredients or additives. And it freezes great!!

Ordering is open now and they are coming to several cities in the Pheonix Metro Area. Follow the link below to be taken to their website and set up your account today!

40lbs to much? Go in with a friend or family member. Get several people together. It has been great knowing we are working on stocking our freezer with meat. If you need someone to split a case with leave a comment and I will see what I can do to help.

**Disclaimer, the link is my own personal referral link and I do get compensated for referral orders.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trick or Treat....Strike that, reverse it

The Halloween season is upon us. You cant deny it when you watch TV they are advertising Halloween TV specials and costumes. When you go in the store Halloween displays are in full force and people are trying to figure out costumes whether for themselves or for the kids.

I will admit that we didn't trick or treat much as a kid. Halloween was one holiday my mom wasn't into much. But there are a few fun things I do remember. The first is that we usually went to my Aunt Larissa's house and she had a little party, She would let us help hand out candy, we would make cookies, play games and sometimes my Uncle David would take us trick or treating around to members of the church in their neighborhood.

A very talented mom, She made my costume.
The second thing I remember is reverse trick or treating!! We moved here when I was 5 so I don't remember much about Arkansas but I do remember going reverse trick or treating. My mom (and I image us kids helped) made goodies and then loaded up trays of goodies into a box. My dad carried it and we all headed out. Mom always told us we would get more candy when we reversed trick or treated than if we just went trick or treating. Now that isn't why we did it. My mom has a great love for service and has taught us about service at a young age.

So much fun when he was so small and everything fit on the table!

I think with Kyle we have only missed one year doing reverse trick or treating and I believe that is when he was on chemo. I am already planning our cookie making time and checked to see that I had Halloween plates left over last year and that I knew where they were.

Oh the fun we have!!!!
A couple things to keep in mind......first if we go to elderly people (which we usually do) I try to go early before they would be expecting trick or treaters, that way hopefully they will answer the door. Think of those in your lives that maybe are elderly and don't have family, someone who is having a rough time and could use a nice one ever expects when you knock on the door that THEY will get the treat.
Most of all have fun with it!!! It is so great to make the cookies with your kids (or husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, nieces/nephews or good friends!!). Heading into fall/winter with all the holidays it really is a great time to do activities like this and make wonderful memories.  

Kyle after we delivered all our goodies....and dirty from all the fun!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting ready for FALL......Cheap and Cheerfully!

Supposedly the rest of the world is enjoying the beginning of Fall. Here in SUNNY Arizona we didn't get the message and we have been having a warming trend. How can you get the pumpkin scented air fresheners out when you are drinking glasses of ice cold water and contemplating a dip in the pool? Those things just don't mesh. But I LOVE the Fall!!!!

So as I have been cruising through the internet highway for cute things I can do to decorate with or have fun with my son, I thought I would share come Cheap & Cheerful things I found. Hopefully you can enjoy these things in actual Fall weather!

(Click on all the pictures to be taken to the original source. It will direct you away from my blog, so right click on the picture and click open in new tab. None of these are my own ideas, I have just added suggestions in the text that I typed.)

*I actually plan on doing some of stay tuned for my follow up!! I would love to see your pictures also and will feature them in my follow up post. Just leave a comment with your email and I will contact you.

Oh my gosh!!! How cute are these? They are milk jugs, who doesn't drink milk or juice to get a gallon jug? Click on the picture to be taken to the website where I found them and directions. I can wait to see how ours turn out!

Look at these cute edible goodies.....I used to make ones for Christmas when I worked in a school. They are SO SO easy. You can have the kids dip them and when they are dry just dab a little face on them! Voila...Halloween goodness......(look for supplies at the dollar store, look for sales for either white chocolate chips or white candy bark coating, use Michaels 40% off to get white candy melts!) (This link has a TON of fun food Halloween craft ideas!!)

These are great to make with the kids. What a fun activity, take a walk or hike (if you aren't in scorching sunny AZ) and find leaves. Then come home and do this fun project. You could do smaller versions and make cards for the kids, to send to far away relatives, etc. You could also put contact paper on them and make place mats. I just love to put this kind of stuff on the walls that my son makes during the holidays.

I thought this was kind of cute and looked super Cheap and Cheerful to me! For the "vase" use a paper lunch bag. If you don't have one of those you could reuse another gift bag or small sac that would stand up. Since you are painting it anyway it would matter what it looked like. Use an empty bag from flour or sugar. You could also wrap up a square of fabric around the "vase" if you don't have paint or don't want to. Be creative and think Cheap and Cheerful! You could use greenery from outside, look for clearance flowers at the store or look for fall greenery from the store you cal find them for $1 at the dollar store but might get them for cheaper at walmart. Just remember if you use real flowers to put a small jar such as a jelly jar in the paper "vase" to hold some water. Also if you don't have or want to use rice in the bag to weigh it down and place the leaves in you could use a piece of styrofoam. You could use the styrofoam found in packaging to stick the leaves in and then a couple rocks for weight.

Keep in mind that when you have overage from coupon deals at Walmart you can use it for small things you would need for projects like this. Even search thrift stores such as Goodwill, Deseret Industries, local thrift stores. They have a craft section and I have found great deals!

Another Cheap and Cheerful idea is to get some friends together. I love the thought and idea of friends coming together and pooling their resources. Maybe one friend would have lunch bags, one would have twine, etc. If you only want to make one or two of something and have to buy a whole package of something see if friends might also be interested. What a fun girls night, or playdate for the kids. Think of ways to split the cost, everyone contribute what they can. You could come away with some great little decorations for very little and how fun would it be to make it with friends!!!