Where to Store Ice Packs in the Freezer

Last week I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer. I keep my freezer organized by using baskets. One is for frozen fruits and two are for meat.

I used to keep my spices and vegetables in the door but ended up moving the smaller spice bottles because they break when frozen. I hated having cilantro spread across the floor of the freezer. You can see my former spices storage here. With fewer spices stored in the door, I am able to keep the shredded cheese there.

One thing that I hated to see taking up space was the ice packs. They take a lot of space and they are worthless unless they are frozen. I decided to line them up along the back of the freezer behind the baskets. There was plenty of room and the baskets did not touch the door. When stored in the back, they stay frozen solid.Ice packs in back of freezer.

Now if I could only get rid of the contraband that my son put in my freezer…”State Fair Corn Dogs.” Why? 1) A frozen corn dog can never compare to a hot one served at the fair. 2) I hate hot dogs. 3) He never shares anyway. (Sigh)

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Simple Trick to Shorten Long Sleeves

The white, button-down shirt is a classic piece that is in everyone’s closet. I have a hard time finding them because I need 100% cotton and…er, I had three kids. Being a frugal mom, I did not bottle feed my babies. Enough said.

I have to order my shirts one or two sizes larger to keep them from gaping between the buttons. When I finally found a shirt that fit nicely on my torso, the sleeves went halfway down my hand. They were way too long.The sleeve was too long.

Instead of going to a tailor, or trying to remove the cuff and move it up, I decided to move the buttons over. I tried on the shirt and pulled the buttonholes over to make the cuff fit correctly. I marked the spots with a pencil.Markings for new button placement

After using a seam ripper to remove the buttons, I sewed them back on over the pencil marks. Now the cuff is too narrow to slide down over my hand. My hand does not get covered, but everything else does!Smaller cuff

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Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

This casserole has been a hit at my house. I use the Cheap Cheese Sauce recipe for the macaroni and cheese.

Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

1 lb. Ground Beef

1/2 lb. Bacon

1 Tablespoon Dry Diced Onion

Salt and Pepper

7 Ounces Macaroni Shells

Cheap Cheese Sauce

1 c. Sliced Pickles

Ketchup and Mustard

Cook bacon until crisp, dice. Cook ground beef with the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Make the cheese sauce. Combine the macaroni and cheese. Add the hamburger, bacon, and pickles. Drizzle with ketchup and mustard. Fold together. It’s best if you don’t combine them completely. Then you are surprised when you taste ketchup or mustard.Macaroni and cheese with beef and bacon

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Summer Decorating Secrets

Today is the first day of the Iowa State Fair! (Cue the music: “Our state fair is a great state fair…”) I had such a good time last year; I used my “State Fair” cup in my summer decorating! You can see how we saved money at the fair last year here.cookie cutter, cup, and keys

I promised to show you may tricks and secrets on Tuesday. The runner on the kitchen table is actually my St. Patrick’s Day runner turned over.Candle in bowl with flowers on table runner

The runner on the dining room table isn’t a runner at all! It is 2 napkins strategically folded. Another example of using napkins to make a runner is here.2 folded napkins

There is a rose pin attached to the washcloth in my bathroom. The roses in the towels are light pink to dark pink. The pin is actually red!Red rose pin

Colors do not have to match exactly, they have to agree. Another example of decorating with colors that agree is here.

I hope these secrets give you an idea of another way to use a decorative item in your home.

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My Summer Decorations

Last week, I showed you my “Iowa Summer Wreath.” It consisted of the many shades of green in Iowa during the summer. Along with the green, there is every color in the rainbow shown in our flowers. I wanted to reflect both in my decorating.

My kitchen table has a simple green runner with a floral, ceramic, mixing bowl. Inside the bowl is a flame-less candle and three napkin rings that have flowers on them. Candle in bowl on table runner

You can see the detail on the on the other two mixing bowls displayed in the china cabinet.Floral Mixing bowls in china cabinet

The dining room table has a butterfly vignette as a centerpiece. There are two plaques with butterflies on them, a butterfly cookie cutter, and a tiny book about butterflies. I put the other three napkin rings in a tiny watering can.Butterfly-themed centerpiece on table runner.

The window sill, between the kitchen and living room, has a small painting of a green, glass vase, full of multi-colored flowers. The glass in the fish-shaped candle matches the vase in the painting. Fish-shaped candle and painting.

I displayed my tiny ceramic pieces on the shelf leading down the stairs. Ceramic garden figures on shelf

Iowa’s state flower is the Wild Prairie Rose. I included roses in the throw on the couch and the matching hand painted pillow.Roses throw with hand-painted rose pillow.

I also used roses when I set out towels in the bathroom. The rose towel compliments the green hand towel with an applique rose. As a final touch, I added a small rose-shaped pin.Pin on towels

Total spent? Zero. Zip. Zilch. (I will let you in on a few secrets Thursday.)

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Iowa Summer Wreath

Usually, after July 4th, I get out my sea shells and other decorations that depict a vacation. But – I live in Iowa and there is no ocean! Iowa has a beauty all its own. In July, there are several shades of green. I decided to decorate with the beauty of Iowa.

I started with my wreath…and it did not go well. I couldn’t find the colors of material in large enough sizes to tie them around the hearts. Finally, I decided to pin them.Material pinned to wreath

Iowa skies are the prettiest blue when the sun is shining. We also get a sufficient amount of rain. Some days the clouds are puffy like cotton balls and on other days, they are wispy.

I wanted to include all the shades of green:

  1. The green corn fields before the tassel appears.
  2. The grassy green of the lawns.
  3. The greens of the clover and alfalfa fields.
  4. The greens of the woods with their evergreens.

I believe I captured most of the shades. I decided to add decorative elements to each heart, to help you tell which green it represented. That meant I raided my decorations from other holidays: corn from Thanksgiving, grass from Easter, and a pine cone from Fall. The most unusual element is a green bee that came from some toy. It must have been from one of the cousins’ toys when they visited because none of my kids could figure out where it came from. I almost threw it away a multitude of times. I’m glad I kept it. It looks cool on the fabric covered with clovers.Iowa Summer Wreath

Next week, I’ll show you the rest of my summer decorations.

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I Don’t Get Dressed Until Noon

I’m sure you think every writer spends the day in their pajamas. Some do; but not me. I put on exercise clothes when I get up. It is an added incentive to exercise.

workout clothes

During these “dog days” of summer it has another benefit. I do the hot jobs in the morning: cleaning, laundry, cooking, exercise, etc. By the time I finish those tasks, I am dripping with sweat. I jump in the shower and dress before David gets home for lunch.

(Okay, I did have an off day, and I was hurrying to get dressed before he got off of work, but it was because I was doing two days worth of tasks. I had a project that would take most of the next day. Of course, I got caught. I always get caught!)

I started doing this when our air conditioner was dying. I would rather be writing than exercising during the heat of the day. Our new air conditioner has no trouble keeping up; but when the heat index is 105° I don’t want to feel the need to turn it down. It is already working hard enough.

My strategy has paid off. We are saving money with lower utility bills. Our utility company offers time-of-day pricing. They charge more for use during the heat of the day, and a reduced rate after 9:00 pm and before 8:00 am. I tried it; but it did not work for us. Our children were all at home and I was staying up late, and then getting up early to keep up with the laundry. Doing the hot jobs first is a better strategy for us.

I realize this tip will not work for most people, but you could try it on the weekend. After doing the hot jobs, the rest of the day feels like a vacation!

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Allergies? Wait to Make Your Bed

I make my bed every day. It is a habit I started as a young girl. It is not that I enjoy the task, in fact, at one point, I made a rule, “Last man out makes the bed.” My husband was not amused because he was the only man in the bed!

I have also tried making half of the bed. I would make my half when I got up. I am an early riser. (Yesterday I woke up at 4:21 am and I don’t even know why!) I thought I was efficient making my half then. David started telling people I made the bed with him still in it!

Then I read an article from weather.com, “13 Weird Things Making Your Allergies Worse.” Number 2 on the list was “Making Your Bed in the Morning.”

“Indoor allergens like dust mites thrive in the cozy confines of bedding and mattresses. That means that the bed is their sanctuary and at night — as your skin sheds and your body sweats — moisture keeps them alive and well. By making your bed in the morning, you’re tucking them into their dream home. Literally.”     weather.com

After reading this article, I started folding the sheet and bedspread back to let it air out. I have noticed my eyes are not as red and itchy. I’m sure it is because the dust mites have no moist place to live.Unmade bed

How does that save me money? I have not had to use as much medication and I have avoided a bad reaction that necessitated a visit to the doctor.

If you happened to stop by my home before noon, my bed will be unmade and I will be in my exercise clothes. But, that is a story for another post!

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Christmas Gift Projects

Christmas decorations and supplies are in stores. Some are upset and feel like we are rushing the season. But, for those of use who are crafty and make some of our gifts, we are happy to see it.

In May, the rage on Pinterest was patriotic, bandanna wreaths. I wanted to make one using my existing wreath. Imagine my surprise, when I went to Hobby Lobby a week before Memorial Day and found they were out of the red, white, and blue bandannas! I had a red one at home, but had to go to 2 different stores to buy blue and white ones.

Don’t let that happen to you!

Christmas is six months away. If you would like to make gifts, now is the time to start! Get supplies while there is a good selection and you have plenty of time to complete it. I spent one Christmas Eve finishing up sewing projects and I don’t recommend it!

If you would like to make gifts, here are a few ideas:

Dehydrated Herbs

Jar of dehydrated parsley

Homegrown, dehydrated parsley.

Individual Freezer Apple Pies

Top of jar

I put labels with the baking directions on top of the jars.

Carved Wooden Statue

Man by carved wood ear of corn

It took one month from start to finish.

Blanket-Stitched Kitchen Towels

2 Christmas towels

The kitchen towels I added blanket-stitch yarn to for Christmas gifts.

Puzzle Board

Board with partially finished puzzle on it

My puzzle board.

Coffee Mug Cozie

Cup with knitted Cozie around it

Coffee Cup Cozie

Painted Picture Frames

Picture with a painted frame.

The pictures third frame

Scarf

Sashay scarves on a table runner

Two Sashay yarn scarves I knitted.

Tee Shirt Quilt

Tee shirt quilt

Tee shirt quilt I made for my son.

 It’s time to go through your craft items to see what you already have on hand.

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Free Cotton Balls

“Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Benjamin Franklin

Yes, it’s allergy season. I am now taking Allegra 180 twice a day…plus Singulair…plus an occasional Benadryl. My husband also takes Allegra 180 and that is 90 pills a month. We buy a double pack of the generic brand with 60 tablets twice a month.

The bottle comes with cotton on top of it to keep the pills from breaking during transit.Pill bottle and cotton

I take that cotton and cut it into 4 cotton balls. Pill bottle and cotton swabs

We don’t have to take this much year round and it averages out to 60 cotton balls. It may seem like it is not worth it, but Benjamin Franklin penned a universal law, “If you pay attention to the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” When you are in the habit of using every last bit, you will not waste any, and you will be able to postpone buying more.

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