Whiter Than Snow

“Hey, mom, did you paint the stairwell?”

“No, I just washed the walls.”

It was my first decorating project for 2017 – revamping the stairwell walls. I showed you in October how I display the art my children made in elementary and middle school on a shelf and the walls of the stairwell. After seeing my son duck his head going down the stairs I decided it was time for an update. That was when I realized . . .

 . . . we had been robbed!

I was removing the staples from the artwork on the back and right side of the stairwell, and taking them down, when I noticed staples in the wall and no artwork! I should have taken the art down from the right side of the stairwell when Derek got his drum set. The bass drum in the hard case barely fits between the banister and the wall. Some of the artwork had been torn by it. (Later when I questioned him, he admitted he may have disposed of artwork that was torn in two.)

After taking down the art, I filled in the holes and wiped the wall with a Mr. Clean magic eraser. That eraser works really well! I used some peel and stick letters to form the word “DUCK” on the header at the bottom of the stairs. Our basement ceiling is 7 1/2′ high. If you are over 6′, you can hit your head going down the stairs!

Artwork on a stairwell "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I wanted a fresh start for 2017 and there is nothing more clean-looking than snow. While I was at it, I set out some snowmen decor. The snowman on the towel inspired me to have hope.

Snowman towels "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I kept one New Year’s Resolution on Monday when I paid the full price for an 18″ grapevine wreath. Last year, I redecorated a wooden wreath each month, but it was so small it covered the peephole. My Christmas wreath was 18″ and I decided that was the perfect size for my door because it did not block the peephole.

Grapevine wreath on door "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I loved all the lights at Christmas and kept out one string of white lights. I ran them along the bottom of my windowsill to light up the snowmen and tree on it.

Snowmen on Windowsill "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I set out flameless candles that change colors around the room. They remind me of the “Aurora Borealis” up north.

Flameless candle "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

Even though there currently isn’t snow on the ground, I placed white-tipped pine cones on the soil of my plants. It put a little “snow” in the room.

Pinecones in plants "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I used the snowflakes my kids made as coasters on a navy blue runner in my kitchen tablescape. The snowmen are filled with salt and pepper. (What should I put in the glass jar?)

Snowmen tablescape "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

Of course, there are snowmen in my china cabinet and a tea-cup from China because Chinese New Year is January 28th.

Cup and Snowmen "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

My tour ends with a juggling snowman hanging out between two Cardinal mugs. I love seeing Cardinals in the snow!

Mugs and Snowman "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

There are no pictures from the basement because I am still sorting and packing up Christmas decorations. Oddly enough, not one has made it to the Goodwill box! My Frugalfish tip for this week is…

…Try washing your wall, before deciding to paint!

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Resolved: More Weight, Food, Spending; Less Organizing, Travel, Reading

You read that title correctly. My resolution this year is to eat more food, gain weight, and spend more. I also plan on less organizing, travel, and reading.

More Weight

I can thank Jenny Kuhn for this resolution. Here is a picture of Jenny and me, with her daughter Kathryn, around 2005.

Jenny, Katie, & I "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She moved to Arkansas and opened Jenny’s Gym. Last October, she competed in the World Powerlifting Alliance competition in Portland, OR. She is now the WPA-APA World Powerlifting record holder in the squat and the deadlift for the 45-49 age group in the 132# weight class. She also broke the previously held accumulative world record (squat+bench+deadlift), see here.

Jenny lifting in her gym "Resolved . . " frugalfish.org

 

Jenny regularly posts clips of her clients lifting. Most of the clips are of middle-aged women who are strength training. Sometimes she posts informational clips. When she explained the proper way to do a push-up, it changed my life.Jenny Kuhn "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

I usually tried doing push-ups from my knees, but that does not use all the muscles correctly. You need the same form as you would use to plank. Now I do them off of the kitchen counter and will move to the ottoman when my arms are stronger. If I do not keep control of my arms, I bump my forehead! I know I am using the correct form now.

Since muscle is heavier than fat, I plan on gaining weight this year. I want to gain muscle, not fat, and will concentrate on that instead of my bathroom scale!

Eat More

For the past few years, I would weigh myself on Monday and plan my meals based on that number. It didn’t work! I would gain a pound and then try to cut way back on my food. Of course, that pound stubbornly stayed.

This year I am going to work my body and feed it what it needs. I will eat bigger servings of salad, vegetables, and more meat. I never have been a big bread eater, but my sweet tooth is my downfall. That is where I will cut back.

More Spending

I am a saver and try to buy everything on sale. That is not always possible. This year, I want to buy things when I need them and not do without. I have lived under the poverty level during childhood and as a mother. I have no problem telling the difference between a need, a want, and a desire.

In my wallet now are 2 months worth of allowance! I also have a note of a few things I need to order. (Hello, sports bra!) I have watched the sales for over a year and have the money. I just need to get online and order it!

Less Organizing

Marla Cilley, aka The FlyLady, says over and over, “You can’t organize clutter.” But I can, and that is the problem! I organize things that I should send to Goodwill or pass on to family members.

There is a box with “Graduation” written on it in my pantry. My youngest graduated in 2015. I am hanging on to it for my sister-in-law, Melinda. I need to just give it to her, even though Brayden doesn’t graduate for another year.

Less Travel

I will no longer feel guilty for staying at home. There are many opportunities to go places and do things, but if I have to take a round of Prednisone to go, it is just not worth it! (Or worse, go without Prednisone and then fight a flare for two weeks.) I don’t care that I only go out 3 times a week for four hours. I have so much I love to do right here at home.

I know my Facebook page is boring, but I refuse to compare myself to others. I will travel vicariously with my friends. (Sorry, Jill, I have no desire to go clear up to the Arctic Circle. Enjoy your trip!)

I really enjoy the posts from Australia on the travel blog, outan’about.com. It was interesting reading about celebrating Christmas during their summer!

Less Reading

I can speed read. It is a blessing and a curse. I would normally go to the library and fill a large bag with 18 books every other month. (No, that is not a typo; it is eighteen books.) We have a great library that is always getting new books and the community buys books in memory of loved ones.

Obviously, I don’t watch TV at night, in fact, I will only watch a movie once. My family will put in a movie, and if I have already seen it, I go to bed and pick up a book. I can read a 300-page book in 2 or 3 days. The problem is, I get close to the renewal date and I speed read through my stash. That is not as enjoyable as slowly reading, savoring, and even taking quotes from books.

This year, I will only check out 8 books at a time and will make sure one of those books is nonfiction. I am on chapter 2 of the book, “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg. There are many things I would like to do, but I get bogged down in laundry and cooking. I want to make those tasks more efficient to allow time for fun stuff!

Smarter Faster Better book "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

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Goodbye 2016

We said goodbye to a lot of things this year.

  1. In January, we said goodbye to dollars when our health insurance increased 50%.
  2. Our farewell in February was to our furnace.
  3. March came in like a lion when I had emergency gall bladder surgery.
  4. We bid adieu to our central air in April.
  5. May was not mild as we watched our washer die.
  6. Fireworks came early when a lighting strike killed our computer in June.

I thought we finished saying goodbye as the second half of the year passed uneventfully. But we were just getting ready for the hardest goodbye of all when my father-in-law died. You can prepare for some goodbyes with an emergency fund, but death always comes unexpectedly and too soon.

It reminded me of what is truly important – family. You can’t pick your family, and we may drive each other nuts, but during the hard times, that is who we lean on.

I also don’t know what we would have done without our friends and our church. The meals they brought over were wonderful and filling. Who can resist lasagna?

So, for 2017 I am going to try harder to spend more time with family and friends. (But first, I’m going to give myself time to grieve.) A wise man told me, “People are more important than things!”

Invest in people, not things, in 2017!

December calendar "Goodbye 2016" frugalfish.org

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Christmas Theme 2016

“It came upon the midnight clear . . . Clear Stars and Black Ribbon "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

. . . that glorious song of old . . . Scroll of Christmas Carol "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

. . . from angels bending near the earth 

to touch their harps of gold. Angel Playing Harp "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

‘Peace on the earth goodwill to men . . . Christmas Dove "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

. . . from heaven’s all gracious King!’ King's Crown Ornament "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

The world in solemn stillness lay . . . Homemade Earth Ornament "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

. . . to hear the angels sing!” Gold Angel Tree Topper "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

The clue in the wreath gave it away! Hint on Christmas Wreath "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" frugalfish.org

“Merry Christmas!”

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De-Stress Christmas

My family has tried to guess my Christmas theme for a few weeks now. Only one has been able to guess it! It is so tricky, that none of my friends have figured it out!

Who has time for riddles?

I know. It is such a busy time of year, who has time for riddles? We want to enjoy the holiday season and there never is enough time. Here is a secret to releasing some of the stress you are feeling.

Put it away!

I had my daughter’s quilt squares spread out on the dining room table for weeks. It is like a jigsaw puzzle that we have been unable to complete. I folded them up and put them in the closetQuilt Squares "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

I planned to finish painting these figurines last Christmas. I left them out thinking I would work on them when I had a free evening. The problem is, I am doing Christmas related activities during the evenings! I put them in a box and slid it under a deskUnfinished Figurines "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

This book was due back at the library and I spent a couple of hours trying to finish it before its due date. I didn’t get it done. Instead, I wrote the name of the book, the author, and the page I had last read on a note. I put the note in a drawer by my bed and returned the book. I will check it out in January when I have plenty of cold evenings to spend reading and drinking hot chocolate. Library Book "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

This is a pillow cover I planned to finish by this Christmas. I spent years working on this. First I embroidered the picture and made a pillow out of it. The pillow was too small. I took it apart and put a larger pillow in it. Then the lace laid flat. I wanted more lace! I ripped the lace and ribbon off and added more. The lace is ready to baste down and then I will sew the back of the pillow to it. But it will go in the closet with my other mending projects that will wait until after Christmas. Unfinished Christmas Pillow "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

The last box is full of donations for Goodwill. I plan on dropping it off. I have presents hidden in closets and drawers. I could use the space this box is taking up for my wrapping paper box that is full of gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper, and bows! Goodwill Donations "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

Take some of the stress out of Christmas. Hide those projects!!!! Then if you find you have a few minutes, sit and admire your Christmas tree. Or try to guess my Christmas theme! Good Luck!

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For My Followers Only

My apologies

I was not happy with the photos on yesterday’s post. I took all new photos and was downloading the last one when the post published! (I scheduled it to post later, but must not have hit the “update” button!)

I uploaded the new photos and those are the ones seen on other services: Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Please return to frugalfish.org to view the improved photos.

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Can You Guess My Christmas Theme?

Mom was here early in the week and I asked if she could guess my Christmas theme.

She couldn’t!

She was in good company. David and Derek have looked at it for ten days and they couldn’t guess it either! Derek asked, “Why is there a seagull on the tree?”

When I explained the theme to my Mom she said two things: 1) “You have too much time on your hands,” and 2) “Can you print off a copy of your post? I want to fool my friends!”

The Tree

My theme is best reflected with my Christmas tree. Under the Star of Bethlehem, there is a section covered with stars from Hobby Lobby, like this. . . Clear Stars and Black Ribbon "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

Below the stars are Christmas Carols rolled up into scrolls and wrapped in black ribbon. I used them the first time in “Free Christmas Tree Decorations.” Scroll of Christmas Carol "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

Angels with various instruments are hung on the next level of branches. My favorite is the one with the harp. Angel Playing Harp "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

What Derek thought were seagulls were actually doves. I found them in the Christmas section of Dollar Tree. Doves represent peace. The “Peace on Earth” ornaments were from Dollar General. Christmas Dove "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

Peace on Earth "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

 

The crown ornaments below the globes were first used in 2013 when my theme was “Birthday of a King.” King's Crown Ornament "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

These globe ornaments were my Thanksgiving craft project. We shredded foil tissue paper and stuffed it into glass ornaments. I drew the continents on with a black Sharpie and filled them in with a green Sharpie. Homemade Earth Ornament "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

 

The bottom layer of angels was in the same spot last year for “Angles We Have Heard on High.” There are three “angel tree toppers” resting on the bottom boughs. Gold Angel Tree Topper "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

My niece, Brittney, was here on Monday and she told me she loved my tree skirt. I had to admit that it is a twin, fitted sheet that I borrowed from Derek! The glitter on it fell off of the ornaments on the tree! Glitter Tree Skirt "Can You guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

Other Decor

I wasn’t able to put all the clues on my wreath but it did get: a Christmas Carol scroll, an angel playing an instrument, a dove, and a star. I added small, black ribbons to the wreath. I used these ribbons around the “Horn of Plenty” appetizers that I made for Thanksgiving last year. Theme Wreath "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

My towels are only adorned with an angel and a dove sitting in a wreath. Angels and Dove on Towels "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

I drew continents on a large, blue ornament and filled them in with a green Sharpie to mimic the globe ornaments on the tree for a kissing ball. I hung a crystal angel and a crystal music note from the ribbon. Themed Kissing Ball "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

The Kitchen

On the swag light in the kitchen is a heavenly host of angels from last year. Angels on Swag Light "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

 

The kitchen tablescape has crystal angels and a crystal nativity scene. The only other clues are the colors of the runner and folded napkin on top of it. Crystal Creche and Angles "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

The Dining Room

My dining room table covered a bit more of the theme. Viewed coming down the stairs, the clues go from right to left: an angel playing an instrument, a dove (Kirkland) in a nest (Hobby Lobby), a manger scene in a crown (2013), a globe (Hobby Lobby), and another angel without an instrument. The nest is on top of a garden stand that usually holds a gazing ball. Dining Room Tablescape "Can You Guess My Christmas Theme" frugalfish.org

Did you guess my theme? Too bad, I am going to make you wait! (Type your guess in the comment section below.)

The important thing is I did not spend a lot of money, $31.00. I bought the stars, globe, and nest at Hobby Lobby and they were 50% off. I reused several ornaments from earlier years. I never use all of my decorations, and after sitting in a box for a few years, they seem like new decorations when I finally do!

If you enjoyed my Christmas decorations, you might enjoy seeing others in the “Christmas Tour 2016” that I found at my favorite decorating blog, theinspiredroom.net.

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“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it! But what if you do not have a fireplace? I guess you can roast the chestnuts in the oven, but what about the glow of a fireplace?

A few years ago, I turned the TV on to the “UP” station during a family Christmas because it was showing a “Yule Log.” Yep, it was a video of a fire burning with Christmas music in the background.

I pinned a better idea from At the Picket Fence on my Christmas board. The link for instructions led me to redheadcandecorate.com. I love their faux fireplaces, but I don’t have room for one. I decided to fake the look of a gas fireplace that was like a line of fire.

I remembered my CD organizer turned on its side on the piano. The TV is on top and what better place to have a fire/light feature than there! I got out the battery operated LED button lights my niece gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I put one in each box and made my fire/light feature.LED Button Votives "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

I can have the glow during the day or . . .Light Feature as Viewed from my bed "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

. . . turn them on at night.Faux Fire Light Feature at Night "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

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Indian Summer Thanksgiving

What happens when there is a four-day weekend? Wednesday becomes Friday! Yes, it is Wednesday, but I made it Frugalfish Friday!

This fall has been the warmest I have ever remembered. It’s like Indian Summer was going to hang on until Thanksgiving! I actually used a marigold bloom in my wreath!Marigold Bloom in Bow on Wreath "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

The grass is still green and a few flowers still blooming. I wanted to reflect those colors in my Thanksgiving decorations. I used a green runner on the kitchen table and put “Turkey” Salt & Pepper Shakers, Candlesticks, and Napkin Holder on it.Kitchen Tablescape "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

I ended up using turkeys throughout my decorations because they were so colorful. This homemade turkey, made from recycled baskets, won me a blue ribbon in the county fair!Turkey made from Baskets "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

I put a “Turkey” plate, that was given to us by David’s aunt, in the china cabinet. The ceramic bear is pretending he is a turkey!Turkey Plate from David's Aunt "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

I even used a “Turkey” Pin on the towels in the bathroom. This is the first year I decorated with green!Turkey PIn on Towels "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

 

I used more “Turkey” Candleholders on the dining room table. The flowers in the horn of plenty reminded me of the flowers still blooming on the south side of my house.Dining Room Tablescape "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

Green tablecloths covered the table and buffet. I set out some dishes that I will use on the dessert table. The cake plate will elevate a pie and make room for more desserts. I plan on putting rolls in the Trifle dish and have already roasted pumpkin seeds for the wooden bowl. Serving Dishes on Dessert Table "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

 

You can see more photos of past Thanksgiving decorations on my Pinterest.com/frugalfish page.

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

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Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound

I reached the age . . . somewhere around 40 . . .  where my arms aren’t long enough to read. The eye doctor said that dreaded word,

“BIFOCALS!”

The top of my glasses is for seeing far away, the bottom for seeing close up. When I recline, the angle has me looking through the bottom of my glasses and I have trouble focusing on the TV!TV on TV Stand "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

David has the same problem. We either prop our head on a pillow or on one arm to look through the correct part of our glasses. Then we would get a “crick in the neck.”

We needed to raise the TV!

We could mount it on the wall but would have to buy a kit. I looked around for a more frugal solution. Then I remembered the hutch in the bedroom with a large mirror set on it.

Hutch with mirror on it "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

We brought it out and placed the TV on it. The height was perfect! I moved a bookshelf under the hutch and set the soundboard on it.TV Raised Up on Hutch, "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Next week is Thanksgiving and I did some serious thinking about after the meal. We eat at noon and my family will usually watch TV. The best seats are on either end of the couch, which has built-in recliners, or in the big recliner. Usually, 1 or 2 will sit in the middle of the couch and the rest will take the chairs which we bring in from the other rooms.

Another problem is we store the toys for our granddaughter in the ottoman. She can’t get to the toys because the one(s) sitting in the middle of the couch have their feet on it. When she is playing, her movements can block the TV. I moved Olivia’s toys to the bookshelf and hid them behind a curtain on a tension bar.

That solved 2 problems!Toys on Shelf Behind Curtain "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

Invariably, I am the last to sit down and the only seat left is next to the TV. Everyone can see the TV, but me!

David hung the large mirror over the couch. I sat down in the chair and said, “Ouch!” I had moved a CD organizer to use as a side table next to the chair. It was too tall and it hit my elbow! It disappointed me that I could not see the TV in the mirror!

I got out a smaller mirror and David moved it along the wall until I could see the TV while sitting in my chair. We tried 2 different mirrors until I could see the entire TV in the reflection. (This second mirror was David’s grandmother’s and recently given to us by his aunt. I love having something of hers in my front room.)TV Reflected in Mirror "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I brought up a white bookshelf to put in the bedroom where the hutch was formerly. It wasn’t as deep and that gave us 6 more inches between it and the bed.Shallow Bookshelf Gives More Room "Surround Sound, Not Surround Sight" frugalfish.org

I wanted to raise the TV in the bedroom, too. I looked around but couldn’t find anything the right size that was sturdy.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Back in the front room, I tried a few side tables, that were 3″ above or below the arm of the chair, to replace the CD organizer and finally decided on a square column. (It was a demo of the four different styles available at the lumberyard where my husband worked. They switched companies and he brought it home.)Column Demo Makes a Side Table "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I started to take the CD organizer back downstairs when I realized it was very sturdy. We laid it on its side on the piano and put the TV on top of it. It worked!CD Organizer Raised TV "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I raised both TVs, and can watch them from any seat, without spending any money! It increased the square footage of the front room because the TV stand was a foot deeper. Between the narrow hutch and the mirrors, my room looks much larger.

This weekend look around your family room. Can you switch pieces and free up some square footage for your family this holiday? How about mounting a mirror on the wall across from the TV to let it be viewed by both sides of the room.

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