Another Perfect Gift

David and I had a misunderstanding. He wasn’t ready to talk about it but I was! What do you do when frustrated? You call the only one who understands – his sister.

She dropped everything and went shopping with me. We went to the Farmer’s Market for fruit and I came home with a Huckleberry pie . . . and a cinnamon roll. Even after loading up on Amish baked goods, we went through the Women’s Club’s Cookie Walk.

She went with me to 3 consignment stores! She is the first one I call. When I ended up in the ER before emergency surgery, she was the one who took me there. She understands when I am irritated at David because she lived with him, too!

The Women’s Club had a plant sale along with their cookie walk. Melinda mentioned she was looking for a Snake Plant. Her birthday was Monday and I gave her the perfect gift – a snake plant.

I have a huge one and I dug one of the plants out of it. (I broke two of my “houseplant tools” in the process.) I had an extra pot, potting soil, and aquarium gravel on hand. I use aquarium gravel on top of the soil of my houseplants because it keeps mold from developing.

I like to fill a need when I give a gift. Sometimes, the perfect gift is already in your home.

Snake plant "Another Perfect Gift" frugalfish.org

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Displaying Precious Artwork

“The clock that’s hung in our kitchen for 15 years, that our daughter crafted at kinder when she was three, has finally been taken down and relegated to the garage.

It was such an imperfect clock with childish numbers misaligned and it was never easy to tell the time. I loved it.”

outanabout.com

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

I read this post from Outanabout.com, (Melbourne, Australia), and realized I had relegated my children’s artwork to the shelf on the stairway. She proudly displayed her daughter’s clock for 15 years! I received most of the clay artwork as gifts on Mother’s Day. This year, my decorating features the artwork from my children’s school years.

It started when I made my wreath. I wanted to put the nest with three eggs on the wreath and the only way I could attach it was with brown yarn. I used 2 paper flowers my daughter made when she was young to hide the yarn.

Mother's Day Wreath "Displaying Priceless Artwrok" frugalfish.org

Not all of my Mother’s Day gifts were homemade. I received this plaque last year from my daughter and displayed it in the hall with a gray whale my youngest son made.

Plaque and Clay Whale "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

My daughter’s softball statues found a home in the china cabinet behind two tea cups and saucers. All three of my children made clay bowls displayed here and on the tables.

Clay Art in China Cabinet "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

I balanced the big clay bowl with a teapot made by my oldest son and a heart made by my daughter. I used two tart pans painted with roses as the centerpiece for my tables. This one has a black bowl filled with roses. Our youngest son made the marble plaque.

Clay Bowl, Teapot, Heart, and Marble Plaque with Roses Bouquet "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

Upstairs in the kitchen, I used a green, glass bowl filled with pink, rose-shaped candles. This green bowl always reminded me of my mother because she had green vases, pitchers, and glasses. On each side are homemade clay bowls.

Bowl of Roses with Clay Pots "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

I think of my Grandmother when I look at the glass block, cat, and kittens. The cat and kittens were a gift from my grandmother on my 8th birthday. The package to the right was given to me by my daughter with instructions to never open it because it contains all her love. I filled the glass block with three ingredients found in my rose potpourri and pink, glass rocks.

Cats and Mother's Day Glass Block "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

I even included a reminder of something I made when I put a pin on my roses towels. Those footprints are the size of a baby’s feet at 12 weeks after conception. Yes, my greatest blessings do call me Mom.

Roses Towels with Baby Feet Pin "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

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Combine Leftovers for a New Dish

I hate hot dogs!

I feel the same about bologna. My kids try to trick me into eating hot dogs as a joke. I will buy them and serve them along with several hamburgers. They can have the hot dogs, but I will stick to the burgers.

It’s crazy how those who manufacture hot dog buns do not make the same amount as found in a package of hot dogs. Sometimes, I make mini sub sandwiches with the leftover buns. Last week I had a leftover hot dog bun and leftover taco meat. I combined them to make a taco sub sandwich.

Taco Sub "Combine Leftovers for a New Dish" frugalfish.org

When you have leftover taco meat you can make taco soup, taco salad, burritos, enchiladas, taco casserole, or taco pizza. You can make garlic bread out of leftover hot dog buns, cut them up for stuffing or reduce them to bread crumbs.

Look in your refrigerator. There are probably leftovers that you could combine to make a new dish or a new sandwich!

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Lilac Easter Dinner

My Easter Wreath "Lilac Easter Dinner" frugalfish.org

Last week I showed you my Easter decorations with purple as the accent color. This week I want to show you what you would see if you came to my home for Easter dinner. On the front door, my Easter wreath has blue eggs which remind me of robin’s eggs and a purple bow that I made myself.

 

 

Easter Baskets in Stairwell "Lilac Easter Dinner" frugalfish.org

 

Walking down the freshly painted stairs you will see my children’s Easter baskets that were gifts from their Aunt Michele. There are also stuffed rabbits for my children to color but they were never finished. Perhaps this Easter? On either side of them are wooden rabbits with colored eggs in their backpacks.

 

 

 

In my basement dining room, the table is ready for dinner. Gold is popular this year and I used my gold chargers with my white and blue plates. Everything seems to match perfectly until you look closer.

Ready for Easter Dinner "Lilac Easter Dinner" frugalfish.org

 

My purple candles do not match. I used the sparkly lilac candle for the centerpiece. The largest rabbit holding a pink egg was hand painted by my sister. (Ceramics were big when we were teenagers.) She put it in a box to give away before she moved out of the family home. I rescued it because I love holiday items! The tapestry of “The Last Supper” stays on the wall all year.

Lilac Easter Tablescape "Lilac Easter Dinner" frugalfish.org

I did not have enough gold napkin rings and alternated them with silk floral ones. I put two purple ones on the candles in the center of the table and used the blue and yellow ones on napkins. The yellow floral napkin rings bring out the yellow in the centerpiece.

Mismatched Napkin Rings "Lilac Easter Dinner" frugalfish.org

My secret this week is to use items based on color, not the holiday. My Easter table has a Christmas tablecloth! You have to look really closely to see the holly and ivy on it. (Although, my daughter-in-law noticed it the first time I used it. She has an eye for detail!) I don’t have room to store two white, two red, and two green tablecloths. I use all three of them throughout the year, even though they have a holly and ivy pattern.

Happy Easter!

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Lilac Easter

Paula: “I love your centerpiece.”

Me: “Thank you. That is the scarf I wore to church last Sunday.”

Paula: “Seriously? I thought it was a table runner!”

See, I have never been one to keep my decorating secrets to myself. I pick a color to highlight in my theme and take it from there. I wanted purple in the table runner to compliment the lavender candle. I folded the long scarf in half lengthwise and then folded it in thirds, making sure I didn’t cover up the tassels. I made this centerpiece by stuffing Easter grass around a jar candle in the center of a Trifle dish and resting white and brown eggs on the grass. Two of the brown eggs are ceramic and the rest are plastic.

Easter Centerpiece "Lilac Easter" frugalfish.org

I chose my accent color when I was layering my guest towels. I wanted a pink towel to match the pink leaf but only had a pink washcloth. Then I noticed the lettering was purple. I pulled out a plum-colored towel to match it. Using an Easter Basket pin, I covered the Shamrock, (see here), and the word “Luck” now applies to an Easter Egg Hunt. (I will show you my secret to layering towels at the end of this post.)

Towels for Easter "Lilac Easter" frugalfish.org

It was a half-price day at the Bargain Box, (the hospital auxiliary consignment store), and my daughter found a new, purple Easter flag. I also picked up a roll of purple ribbon and a vinyl Easter tablecloth $3.75. :)

Purple Easter Flag "Lilac Easter" frugalfish.org

One of the purple accents was accidental. The vignette at the end of the hall has a picture of Jesus Christ praying in the Garden of Eden, a brown rooster, 3 wooden communion cups, a ceramic cross, a jar of perfume, and a small burlap bag that would hold 30 pieces of silver. The robe Jesus was wearing is purple.

Easter Vignette "Lilac Easter" frugalfish.org

After placing hen baskets and rabbit mugs on both sides of a small nest of white eggs, I added lavender votive candles in wine glasses. The wine glasses add a height to the arrangement and the candles provided the purple accent.

Hen Baskets and Bunny Mugs in China Cabinet "Lilac Easter" frugalfish.org

My Easter glass block contains 3 long nails, a wooden communion cup, another burlap bag with “silver” and a miniature stone tomb that friends brought back from Israel. I left the lid off to show the tomb is empty. (The wooden communion cups came from Israel, also.) I wrapped the copper lights around the glass block to form a cross and placed a ceramic cross next to it.

Easter Glass Block "Lilac Easter" frugalfish.org

My towel secret is to lay them on the bed to layer them. It is easier to line up the decorated parts on the bed than it is on the towel rack. You have to pay attention to the center of the longest towel. Each towel has to overlap the center by an inch or two. As you can see, I folded a washcloth and used it in place of a small hand towel. Sometimes, I pin the washcloth to the back of the other towels to secure it, see here.

Lay towels on bed to layer "Lilac Easter" fruglafish.org

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New Kitchen for Five Bucks

It started with chipped paint in between the bottom cabinet doors. That chip peeled and eventually became a hole. I only intended to fill the hole and touch up the paint.

Our cabinets are original to the house, 1971. When we moved the refrigerator to the corner, it left a 12″ space. There was an oak cabinet at the lumberyard that someone ordered and then changed their mind. We bought it and I painted all the cabinets white. The original cabinets were “pecan.”

The door fronts were similar enough that you didn’t notice it was a different cabinet – until you looked down. The toe kick was an inch higher than the “pecan” cabinets. It had bugged me for years and I decided to do something about it.

I found a piece of scrap trim downstairs. (I always keep scrap wood.) It wasn’t long enough or deep enough, but I nailed it to the cabinet anyway. I used a paint stirrer taped to the cabinet with duct tape to line up the outside edge.

Nailed on trim "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

 

Then I glued the trim to the bottom of the cabinet. I used scraps of wood and broke a paint stirrer in half, to support the trim while the glue dried. (I keep wood glue and wood filler on hand.) It took three coats of wood filler to completely fill in the seam.

Glued on trim "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

Wood filler in cracks "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

David asked if I wanted him to remove the handles and hinges. I said “Yes!”

We put these new handles on in the 90’s when I painted the cabinets white. They were black with just a touch of copper showing through. At the time, I was collecting copper to “warm” up the decor in the kitchen. But I am over that copper phase, it looked “country.”

Kitchen cabinet with copper hardware "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

We talked about replacing the hardware, but I liked the traditional style. I just wished they were black to look like wrought iron. He took them off on Saturday, and I spent the day scraping white paint off of them with a metal nail file and steel wool. I used craft paint that I had on hand to paint them.

 

David brought home a $5.00 can of Acrylic spray paint because he didn’t want the paint to come off from the metal hardware. I finished scraping and painting the hardware on Saturday night. We let the paint cure on Sunday and he sprayed them with acrylic on Monday night.

Tuesday, I finished touching up the paint on the doors and the seam of the trim I added. We put the doors back up and installed the handles.

When our son got home, I asked him to turn on the light and check out the cabinets. He said,

“Wow, it looks like a new kitchen!”

New Kitchen "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

I got a new kitchen for $5.00! In maintaining our homes, we forget the two most important items to use: time and elbow grease! I worked on the cabinets a little every weekday for 10 days. I spent 9 hours scraping and painting the hardware on Saturday. I believe that was time well spent.

You may find a project in your house that only needs things you already have on hand, time, and a little elbow grease.

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Lighted Valentine Glass Block

Last year I decorated the same wooden wreath for each holiday and season. I will be doing the same thing this year with a lighted, glass block. I received it from my friend, Paula, who said, “You will love this because you can open it up and change the inside!”

She knows I like to put decorative items on the windowsill between my kitchen and living room to disguise the back of the microwave. This glass block fits that area perfectly. It had two pine trees, snow, and lighted copper wires that reminded me of “Aurora Borealis” in it. I didn’t show it in my snowmen post because the picture was not clear.

Winter scene Glass Block "Lighted Valentine Glass Block" frugalfish.org

I tried adding a Valentine decoration to the winter scene, but the snow covered most of it up. After removed the trees, snow, and lights, I decided to flip the block because it was difficult to fill from the bottom.

 

Glass Block "Lighted Valentine Glass Block" frugalfish.org

 

A “Valentine Candy” theme, the red, heart-shaped, glass stones reminded me of hard candy. The other pieces of candy are actually pins! (Thanks, Whitney, for the conversation heart pins.)

Side of Glass Block "Lighted Valentine Glass Block" frugalfish.org

 

I tried putting the copper lights back in but they looked funny or just sank to the bottom. I ended up wrapping them around the outside of the glass block.

 

 

 

 

 

To get a Valentine background, I slipped a gift bag under the lights in the back. It is just a little bigger than the glass block. I rested the bottom of it on the window sill trim to line the top of it up with the top of the glass block.

Back of Glass Block "Lighted Valentine Glass Block" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

 

On one side of the glass block is a counted cross-stitch Valentine greeting in a roses frame. A “Jelly Bean” pomegranate candle completed my candy-themed windowsill vignette. It adds a soft glow to the area in the evenings. Remember, your decorating and crafts do not have to be permanent.

Glass Block with LIghts "Lighted Valentine Glass Block" frugalfish.org

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Hearts, Lips, and Bears

Cookie Cutters Are Not Just For Cookies!

I have cookie cutters for every season, but only make cut out cookies at Christmas! I decorate with them and don’t limit them to the kitchen either.

I attached cookie cutters to my grapevine wreath by tying them on with brown yarn.

Valentine Wreath "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

On the windowsill, I used cookie cutters to spell out the word LOVE and put the XO cookie cutters in the two side windows.

Cookie Cutters on Windowsill "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

I hang a string of lights in a heart shape in the front window. The lights are incandescent red, pink, and white. They give a soft glow to the window.

Lighted Heart "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

I picked up a votive candle holder with “XO” and “lips” on it. I set a lip-shaped candle on one side and an XO candle on the other. I decided to put a pink candle in the votive candle holder because you couldn’t see the red or white details when I used those colors. That set my color scheme for this year: red, white, black with a touch of pink.

Valentine Candles "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

The vignette in my bedroom is the exception. It is cherubs and a music box in pink. It is below our wedding picture which has a pink mat. Our wedding colors were pink and baby blue. It was the 1980’s; pink was a trendy color!

Cherubs and Music Box "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

Related Post: “Can’t Recycle Forever”

 

The color scheme is best reflected in the guest towels in the girl’s bathroom. I pinned a large heart pin on top of the pink washcloth.

Guest Towels "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

I made a centerpiece using my “Apple Blossom” china because it has burgundy, red, and pink in it. On Valentine’s Day, all I will have to add is silverware to set the table for two. The candy heart in the center is metal and empty! I kept it because it is cute and sturdy.

Valentine China "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

Related Post: “No Sew Valentine’s Day Table Runner”

 

I moved the Cardinal mugs to the china cabinet and added a glass bird bath with two birds and a glass candy kiss.

Glass Bird Bath, Candy Kiss, and Cardinals Mug "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

Related Post: “Decoration or Preparation”

 

I didn’t use a tablecloth on the dining room table because I plan on removing the centerpiece and laying out my daughter’s tee-shirt quilt pieces. We still haven’t decided on the design. I have enough squares for 2 quilts! I wanted a circular centerpiece and had to take two pictures to show it to you.

Bears and Hearts Centerpiece "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.org

Bears on Flowers on Centerpiece "Hearts, Lips, and Bears" frugalfish.orgRelated Post: “Something New”

 

I hope you got an idea or two for adding a touch of Valentine’s to your home.

 

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Rename It

Today I will do my favorite thing . . . tell on one of my kids!

I received a text from my son telling me he and his girlfriend would be there for dinner a few hours later. The only thing thawed out was one cooked chicken breast. How would that feed four people?

“Chicken à la King”

I shredded the chicken breast and made “Chicken A La King.” I have made this dish before and he didn’t like it. Once when I made it, I called it “Chicken and Gravy.” He still wouldn’t eat it.

This time, I said, “You like beef stroganoff, this is chicken stroganoff.” He had three helpings!

Renaming a dish does not always work. David’s grandmother tried to get his sister to eat rice by calling it “Shredded Pizza.” I guess you have to choose a name that is close to what you are serving. “Shredded Pizza” would have shredded pizza crust, not rice.

Anyway, my tip for the day is to rename a dish your child refuses to eat. I don’t have a picture because I finished it off for lunch. (Sorry.) But you can see what the first step looks like above.

Chicken à la King

  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1-1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1-1/4 Cup Turkey or Chicken Broth
  • 1 Can Mushrooms
  • 1 Cooked Chicken Breast, Shredded
  • 6 Cooked and Mashed Potatoes

Melt butter; blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk, broth, and liquid from the can of mushrooms. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and chicken; heat through. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Rename it “Chicken Stroganoff!”

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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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