Don’t Display It All

I choose a theme for my Christmas Decorating each year. The last few years have been about fruitcake, music, and “The Birthday of the King.” I did not use my “rustic” decorations during those years.

Rustic Manger Scene.

Rustic Manger Scene.

This year my theme is – “It’s All About the Manger.” I used only the rustic decorations and most of my manger scenes.

Manger Scene on my bookshelf.

Manger Scene on my bookshelf.

Since they have been in storage for the last three years, they seem like new decorations!

Christmas is in one week. I give you permission to stop decorating! You don’t need to buy new decorations next year…just start with the ones you did not have time to put on display this year.


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Supplies for Christmas, 2016

My niece made a scarf for her mom last Christmas that I loved. I was surprised to learn how easy it was to knit because of the special Sashay yarn. I picked up 2 skeins after Christmas last year.

I planned on giving these as gifts to friends for their January birthdays, but I only had one completed in time. They became Christmas presents. We had our gift exchange two weeks ago and I was amazed at the difference in lengths of the two scarves.

The first one I knitted every three strands; it was thick and warm. The second I knitted every two strands and it was longer. She will be able to tie it in the fashionable, fancy ways used on plain scarves.

I am the most excited about a gift I have for my oldest son. It was also something that I started last year. If you don’t have time to make that special gift this year, get the materials and you can start in January.

Two Sashay yarn scarves I knitted.

Two Sashay yarn scarves I knitted.


Use a Different Utensil

In an effort to lose weight, I have cut out snacks and I am having difficulty eating three servings of dairy and fruit each day. This morning I pulled out a clementine to eat for breakfast, but I was tired of cereal and milk. I decided to eat a cheese sandwich.

When I opened my Butter Bell, (see I noticed the butter was almost gone. Instead of spreading the butter with a knife, I used a small spatula to scrape the remaining butter out. I also used a different cheese slicer because I did not want a thick slab of cheese.

A small spatula removes the remainder of the butter.

A small spatula removes the remainder of the butter.

There was plenty of butter for my small cheese sandwich!

My cheese sandwich with thin slices using a different cheese slicer.

My cheese sandwich with thin slices using a different cheese slicer.


Party Leftovers?

We attended our first Christmas party on Sunday night. The hostess had enough food to feed an army and most of the guests brought food with them. The Chex Mix had to be set on an antique high chair!

At the end of the evening, the hostess passed out large Ziplock bags and begged us to take some of the food home. She made 160 Ham and Cheese sliders and we took six of them.

Instead of snacking on them, I put them on the menu. I made a pot of “Creamy Potato Soup” to go with them.

“Creamy Potato Soup” is a recipe I got from my mother that starts like German Potato Salad. The original recipe calls for an onion and a package of bacon. They have you fry the bacon and cook the onion in the drippings. My husband doesn’t care for onion, and I usually modify recipes to make them more frugal.

“Frugalfish Creamy Potato Soup”

3 Slices of Bacon, Cooked and Crumbled

1 Tablespoon Dry, Minced Onion

2 Cups Cubed Potatoes

1 Cup Water

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

2 Soup Cans of Milk

Cook bacon, set aside. Cook potatoes and minced onion in salted water until potatoes are done. Add milk, heat through. Top with crumbled bacon. Sometimes I garnish it with parsley or chives.

My recipe is not only frugal, but lower in fat. It went great with the leftover ham and cheese sliders.

"Creamy Potato Soup"

“Creamy Potato Soup”

Let It Lean

When I told my adult children my decorating theme, “It’s All About the Manger,” they had questions.

“Will you be decorating the tree with animals?”

“Or will you use hay and poop?” 

“Are you going to spray it with the scent of poop?”

They are always so helpful. I skipped the all three ideas! I used a few manger scene ornaments, birds, nests, wooden candy canes, and a lot of pine cones!

Manger theme ornament.

Manger theme ornament.

When I finished, I was frustrated because the tree seemed to lean at the top and there was a hole on one side. No matter how I adjusted it, I could not get it to stay straight.

Then I remembered a tree my uncle cut at his farm. It was full and lush, but the trunk was bent and it really leaned. It kept tipping over, and in frustration, he wired it to the wall!

We have not had a real tree because of my allergies. In fact, this tree has to be assembled in the garage and my husband blows all of the dust off of it with a leaf blower before bringing it into the house. (It is a pencil tree and it fits easily through the door.)

I try all sorts of tricks to make my tree look real:

  1. Since branches grow up toward the light, not horizontally, I bend each branch toward the light. (As my room is small, I bend all of them up to keep the tree from taking much floor space.)
  2. I take a long fake evergreen garland and loosely wrap it around inside the tree to camouflage the metal prongs that hook the branches into the trunk.
  3. (New for 2012) I took the center of a roll of wrapping paper, (not the tube, but the rolled butchers-type paper), and taped it to a table. After Thanksgiving dinner, I had the artistic guests draw knot holes on the paper and we colored it a variety of colors to resemble a tree trunk.  I cut it to fit between the tree stand and the bottom row of branches and wrapped it around the tree trunk. I cut the rest to fit the spaces between rows of branches and pulled it tighter as I went up the tree trunk to make it appear to get smaller in circumference.
  4. One year, I left one of the larger branches off of the tree to make a hole. I put a large Christmas ornament in the hole.  Most real Christmas trees do not have perfect branches.
  5. When I put the tree together, I noticed the top seemed to lean a bit to the side. As real trees do not grow straight up, I left it alone.

Once again, I decided to just let it lean.

My manger themed, leaning Christmas tree, 2014.

My manger themed, leaning Christmas tree, 2014.


When I first heard the term, I thought my friend made it up. (Sorry Paula.) But last week another friend posted a photo of their “Thankmas Dinner.” It was beautiful, with 20 faces from 3 generations. (Thanks Hannah.)

“Thankmas” is celebrating Christmas with your extended family at your Thanksgiving dinner. Most draw names for gifts, or play a white elephant game, or just buy gifts for the kids. For those traveling long distances, it means one less drive to the old homestead.

When I planned my December calendar, I was a bit overwhelmed wondering where I will fit in all of the family Christmas dinners. Each year the family grows larger. I can no longer get by with seating my granddaughter in a high chair.

When my kids were little, we had Christmas Day with my family one year and spent the day with his family the next year. On the off years we would celebrate with the other side on another day. When my sister married, she did the same thing and we were all able to be with my parents at the same time.

Then my son got married and we had to find dates around the family dinners her family held. When my granddaughter was born it was harder on them. They wanted to enjoy the day with their little one and I agreed with them.

Last year, we were unable to celebrate with my extended family until January 4th! The idea of “Thankmas” is looking even better. Think of it as turkey with a tree!

Christmas, 2013.

Christmas, 2013.









Leftovers? Make a Plate

“Cooking Light” had some impressive ways of using up leftovers from Thanksgiving. I was the most impressed with making ice cream out of leftover pumpkin pie!

Many times, there is only one serving left and there is not enough from which to create another dish. If you save them in teeny, tiny containers, they get lost in the refrigerator only to reappear when you need the space for a Christmas dinner.

Before cleaning up from the great feast, why not make a plate or two complete with all of the dishes. You could give the plate to your elderly next door neighbor, drop it off at a friend who is recovering from surgery, a college student, or as a lunch for a new mother.

Wrap the plate in foil and put in a freezer bag. That gives them, or you, the option of just placing it in the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date.

My TV room set up for Thanksgiving dinner.

My TV room set up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Best Holiday Photos

It was actually a sad day because my friends were moving away. I wanted to take as many photos of them as I could, but I didn’t want to spend all of my time being the photographer.

We were at a farewell potluck for them, and I brought two pies. The kids were all playing soccer and the adults gathered around the table to visit. I moved to sit opposite of my friends and attached my new flexible legs tripod to the handle of the basket I brought the pies in.

Before I attached the camera, I shut off the flash. The room was well lit and I knew I wouldn’t need it. As we talked, joked and told stories for an hour, I occasionally snapped a series of pictures.

The camera was on automatic focus and I got several of them laughing with us. You could mount a small camera during Thanksgiving dinner and get several candid shots.

I like to use the x3 option for posed shots. It snaps 3 pictures with 10 seconds in between. We do one smiling, one crazy, and by the third shot we are usually laughing at each others antics!

Flexible legs tripod attached to the handle of a basket.

Flexible legs tripod attached to the handle of a basket.

Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast

The Christmas countdown has started with the showing of Christmas movies. They are also advertising holiday food. One of my favorites combines the flavors of chocolate and raspberries.

This week, as I was scooping up some Chocolate Malto Meal, I had an idea. Why not cool it down a bit with frozen raspberries! They are so small that they thaw quickly and I got that wonderful chocolate/raspberry flavor in every bite.

Here are two more ideas for Malto Meal.

  1. Banana Split for Breakfast,
  2. Have a Hankering for Rocky Road Ice Cream?
Chocolate Malto Meal cooled with frozen raspberries.

Chocolate Malto Meal cooled with frozen raspberries.

Substitute Guitar Picks

Guitar #7 just entered the frugalfish household. Two moved out with my oldest son and one was donated to a mission in Africa. Why would we need another guitar? This one is electric.

When you live with guitar players you will find picks all over. It is not unusual wash them quite regularly.

When my youngest could not find a pick one day, he cut up an old ID card from college into squares. It worked great as a substitute pick.

A substitute guitar pick.

A substitute guitar pick.