Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homemade Croutons for Soup

I love French Onion Soup.  I have a great recipe HERE.  We've had it at least once every two weeks.  It's cheap, filling and good.

I also love it with homemade croutons.

Don't these look good?

Start by taking a loaf of old bread.  I use leftover French or Italian bread from spaghetti night.

Cut into cubes.  Mine are pretty big.

Melt half a stick of butter into a skillet OR add enough olive oil to lightly cover your bread.  Add 2 teaspoons of this amazing stuff!

Stir until coated.  Put on to a cookie sheet. . .

And put it under the broiler for a few minutes, until toasted.  I flip halfway through.

These are amazing hot but I like them cold, too.  Add to your soup!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Deals at The Neighborhood WalMart Near You. . .

We recently (two months ago) had a Neighborhood WalMart open up close to our house.  It's within walking distance and I was a bit apprehensive about this.  We're Target people.  I've never really enjoyed the WalMart atmosphere. . . we have twenty four hour WalMarts in our area and the stores never really seems clean.  The people-watching aspect doesn't appeal to me, either.  I want to get in and get out and WalMart is always crowded.  Target charges a bit more but their returns are a lot easier and I just enjoy shopping there more.

I had not heard of Neighborhood WalMarts until we ran across one a few years ago.  I was curious, but not enough to go inside.  I Googled it and completely dismissed it. . . until we got one by our house.

I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised.  Perhaps it's because the store is so new, but it seems clean to me.  The crowds aren't there and the store isn't this huge labyrinth that makes no sense to me. (Why put frozen foods in the front of the store and milk in the back. . . stuff thaws by the time you get to the back of the store to get your milk!)  Our store is sensibly laid out and, since it focuses on groceries, it isn't huge.

And the deals.  Wowza, I love the deals.  Check these babies out!
Suave Professional Conditioners. . .a buck each.  I bought six.  Woo, Woo!

Every time I'm in there, there's carts stuck out in the main aisle in front of the cashiers with paper printouts with the price taped to the handle of the cart.  I don't know if this store gets overflow that they have to get rid of or if they run out of room or what. . . I know I love the deals. 

Did I need six conditioners?  Not today.  Eventually, though.  I'll roll through this in less than three months.  My head takes a lot of conditioning. 

My gorgeous and smart sister, completely fed up with my habit of heading straight to the clearance racks, once told me that "things are on clearance for a reason."  She, however, would totally approve of this clearance shopping.  There's some rules for shopping clearance and getting a good deal.

 Do you need it?  If you do, and it's on sale, this is a good time to buy it!
Will you use it?  You want to make sure it's in the foreseeable future.  I could have bought all forty bottles of the conditioner but, realistically, I wouldn't use it all anytime soon.  My hair tends to get used to a product and it stops working.  I'd be stuck with thirty two bottles of conditioner I got a great deal on but couldn't use.
Do you have the storage space for it?  If you will have to quit eating at the kitchen table because you now need it for storage space, it's probably not a good idea to buy it.
Can you afford it?  Doesn't matter how good of a deal it is, if you can't afford it now, you shouldn't buy it.  Period.

Deep down, I'm a clearance shopper.  The orange clearance stickers make my heart beat a little bit faster and I love it when I can get a good deal on something.  My best clearance purchase to date has to be the eleven dollar vacuum cleaner I bought at Target three years ago.   The worst clearance purchase?  A steak for our anniversary dinner!  I usually do great with markdown meat but this was ick.  Enough said.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Using Mugs to Pot Plants

This is a fun and easy gift to give.  These ended up being teacher Valentine's Day presents.

I started with a very dry, clearance plant from the grocery store. . .

. . . and two little mug things I got for ten cents apiece and stashed.

Plants are pretty hardy and this one was no exception.  I divided it in half and put half in each cup.  I added just enough water to dampen the soil and kept it moist for a few days.  It thrived.

This was put into a cello bag with a tag that said "Thanks for helping me grow!"  I got two gifts for the cost of one plant (99 cents) and two mug things (20 cents).  Not too bad!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Washi Tape Notebook

I bought some Washi tape on a buy one, get one sale.  I stuck to the clearance tapes and got the tape for a buck a roll!  I am thrilled!

One of the first things I did was this notebook.  This was a fun little notebook I picked up from the dollar store to give as gifts.

This is the back.  The cover. . . .
. . . is much cuter.  I decided to make the cover the back and the back the front.

Because washi tape is somewhat transparent, I gave the "ugly side" a quick coat of white paint.

When it dried, I started running washi tap across the cover.  I lined it up to make a continuous pattern.

You could tuck the tape under and paste a piece of paper on the inside cover to add stability and cover up the rough edges.  Because my cover was pretty solid (it was the back), I trimmed it with a pair of scissors.

I added a piece of tape down the spine and it's finished!

It was fun and really dressed up the notebook.  I will probably pair this with a nice pen as a gift.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mod Podging with Copy Paper

I recently came across a very nice box, structurally.  The outside was colored on with sharpies.

I took some sheet music and used my printer to copy it on to regular paper.

I ripped it up into different sizes and started mod podging it on to the box.

When finished, I let it dry and then used an Xacto knife to cut the box back open (it was stuck together).

It wasn't quite what I had pictured so I mixed up a little bit of black chalkboard paint with some water (about 1/4 paint to 3/4 water) and painted it on.

I let it dry, sprayed it with sealer and am enjoying my  new box!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Making Patches

My daughter is very hard on jeans.  She plays hard and is constantly putting holes in the knees.  I used to buy patches but I found a fun (and cheap) way to make our own.

To make patches, you need some fabric and some thick Heat N Bond.  I always have scraps of fabric laying around, so I use those.  I also usually keep Heat N Bond around because it's cheap and fun to use.

Iron your fabric and then iron a piece of Heat N Bond to the back. 

The top fabric is Duck Fabric left over from my drying rack.  The bottom is a cotton print.  Believe it or not, the thinner cotton works better and lasts longer.

Cut around your design.
I've also cut large shapes out of the fabric.  Circles, squares and scallops look nice.

Take the paper off from the back and iron on over your hole.  I usually iron the jeans and then trim threads before ironing on.



I did two pair of jeans.

This hole was much bigger!
The patches are durable and last!  Sometimes, if the hole is really big, I sew around the edge of the patch.  I did on this one.

Easy Peasy. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Using Sharpie Paint Markers

The number of mugs on the internet that have been Sharpied has got to be in the millions.  Let's add a few more!
I recently put in a big order with Amazon.  After you get $35 in your cart, you can get free shipping on thousands of other things.  I put these in my cart because they were cheaper than Michaels (eight bucks) and I got free shipping.
I loved the colors and I also have a stash of white mugs that I've bought at garage sales and Goodwill.  (I think they look classy.)

I also have no artistic ability.  So, I cheated.

I used stickers!

For this mug, I put the initial stickers in a funky, staggered layout (because I couldn't get them straight.)

I parked myself in front of the TV and started adding dots.  I picked one color because I wasn't too sure of my ability to make multiple colors look artistically random.

It dried quick, so I pulled off the stickers.

This one's ready for the oven!

My daughter did this one:

Same stickers, just a different technique.  I'm not ashamed to tell you that I didn't think of this one.  She's SO smart!

The flower mugs I did with vinyl.  I tried to freehand a flower on there and it looked bad.  Really, really bad.  So, I scrubbed it off and then cut out a shape with my sizzix on to some vinyl.

I plopped it on and then started drawing, adding dots and lines and filling in the space.  When the vinyl is pulled off. . .

Very cool.

Same technique with this one. . .

To get the paint to be permanent, put them in a cool oven.  I put them face down to make them more sturdy.  Turn the oven on to 375 and let it get up to heat.  When it does, time fifteen minutes and then turn the oven off.  Let the oven cool down with the mugs inside.

When it's nice and cool, take them out!  These have held up quite well!  I tried to scratch the paint off on several points and it's not coming!  They're permanent!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Decorating Buckets

My daughter is in desperate need of some organizing.  She's incredibly creative and has a tenancy to hoard things most people would consider trash.  Because of this, things tend to pile up.  Her idea of cleaning up and mine are very different.  That's actually saying quite a bit because MY idea of cleaning up and my mom's idea of cleaning up are very different.  It's probably a good thing Sammy ended up as my daughter and not my mom's!

Every once and again I will raid her room while she's at school.  I end up filling several trash bags with trash.  She comes home and is upset with me but, being the good sport that she is, she gets over it pretty quick.  Today was a day I raided her room.

She had a lot of little things that needed to find a home.  There were a ton of beads, markers, rubberbands, stamps and stickers just laying around, needing a place to be.

This was my solution:

I had a bunch of Smencil (like pencils, just smelly) buckets that I grabbed from a teacher who was ready to chuck them out.  I added some paper and ribbons and found a home for the little stuff.

Cut the paper to fit. . .

I used spray adhesive.  This stuff is very light, not snotty like some other brands.  I sprayed both the bucket and the paper and applied it.

As you can see, the paper didn't make it all the way around.  I'm fine with that. . . they'll be on a shelf and not out for view.  I could have used fabric or wrapping paper if I needed it to go all the way around. 

I added a ribbon. . . 

. . . and took them to her room and stuck them on shelves, filling them up!

For those who look and say that it's still a mess. . . yes, yes it is.  This is a MASSIVE improvement, though.  You can actually see the table top.

Total cost to me. . . zero.  I used scrapbook paper I had, buckets I rescued and ribbon I had on hand.  It was also a quick project from start to finish so there's not much invested in this.