The Big Picture

How do you view your home?

  1. Through rose-colored glasses?
  2. Through a camera lens?
  3. Through a magnifying glass?
  4. Through a microscope?

When I took the photo of my kitchen cabinets after their cosmetic makeover, one thing was glaring at me. It was horrible, I was sure everyone would see it and comment.

No one noticed.

Not one.

Obviously, everyone was looking at the picture differently than I did. Those who use rose-colored glasses see everything as perfect. They overlook flaws and clutter. We do the same thing when we walk by the pile of papers on our desk and ignore it.

Those who look through a camera lens are seeing the big picture. The flaws are there, but they don’t mention them. That is how most people look at our homes. They see the pile of paper but overlook it.

We tend to look at our homes through a magnifying glass. We enlarge the flaws until those are the only things we are looking at. Through a magnifying glass, the pile of paper is spilling over the desk onto the floor. We make it a bigger deal than it is.

A microscope enlarges bacteria, and other things, that are not clear to the naked eye. One who looks at your home through a microscope will see the paper as a pile full of allergens. They look for dirt and expect to find pathogens lurking there.

To see your rooms the way most see it, take a picture of it. Study the photo. If there is anything that looks like it could use a little TLC, fix it!

That is what I did. It didn’t take any money, or elbow grease, and I only spent 5 minutes fixing it. I wonder if anyone will even notice the difference?

My kitchen "The big Picture" frugalfish.org

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Secret to Reading Boring Materials

I am currently reading “The Bond Fund of America Annual Report.” I intend to read the booklets on all the funds in which my husband has invested.

I finished reading the booklet from my health insurance company. I was unhappy with my company when it said online that my “rescue inhaler” was no longer covered.

Seriously?

After reading the booklet, I found I could get refills on my rescue inhaler if I ordered them through their mail order division. I admit it was not exciting reading, but it is information I need to know!

Every year, I intended to read my health insurance booklet, but it ended up in the pile on my desk of things I should do. I finally learned a secret to reading boring materials – a paragraph or page each time you use the bathroom.

I am not pushing multitasking. I am saying we spend more time on the throne than we realize. I put the booklets in with my regular magazines and catalogs. I read a page, leave a book marker in it, (usually a subscription postcard) and put it in the back of the magazine organizer I keep in the bathroom. That way, I alternate reading something fun, with something boring.

“Make it fun and it will get done.” flylady.net

Magazine organizer "Secret to Reading Boring Material" frugalfish.org

 

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St. Patrick’s Day 2017

The glass block is now “wearing the green!” I filled it with pale green, glass stones and propped 2 cookie cutters inside. I used some quilting material as a background. This time, I wrapped the copper lights around the outside of the glass block. I love the way the light filters through the glass stones!

St. Patrick's Day Glass Block, "St. Patrick's Day 2017" frugalfish.org

Irish Snowman "St. Patrick's Day 2017" frugalfish.orgThough tired of the snow decorations, but I displayed my Irish Snowman. He is standing guard at the end of my hallway. (There is also snow on the welcome mat, but it has Cardinals on it and my husband is an avid St. Louis Cardinal’s fan. That Christmas mat will probably stay there until Easter!)

 

 

Irish Towels "St. Patrick's Day 2017" frugalfish.orgThe spring towels alternate with green towels. I couldn’t resist pinning on the mouse hiding behind a Shamrock!

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Patrick's Day Tablescape "St. patrick's Day 2017" frugalfish.org

A touch of yellow is in most of my St. Patrick’s Day vignettes. There is yellow in the material in the runner on the kitchen table. I added a yellow ribbon to the black candlestick to bring out that color. The Irish sleeve garter fits snugly around my flameless candle.

 

Lighted Shamrock Wreath "St. Patrick's Day 2017" frugalfish.org

Of course, we need lights! I wrapped the cord around the lighted Shamrock to attach it to my new wreath. The green and white lights would only go around one window, but they light up the wreath.

 

On the front door is the wooden wreath I made last year. It changed every month after that! My tip for the week is to look through your fabrics and ribbons when you are decorating. You can use fabric as a runner or as a background.

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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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Leftover Candy

I grumbled to myself when I saw the Valentine heart-shaped box on the kitchen table. “When will my son ever learn to take his stuff to his room?” When he came home for lunch, he came back to the office and said, “Here, Mom, this is for you!” #eatingcrow

His father brought home an even larger Valentine heart and white roses. (I baked him his favorite – my famous cherry pie.) While he spoiled me by making pork chops, cheesy potatoes (in a muffin tin), and mixed vegetables, I pondered what to do with all that chocolate! I decided to share a few ways to use up leftover candy.

Valentine's Day Candy

Serve It

My daughter gave me a box of Russell Stover’s chocolates on my birthday at the end of October. I put it in the freezer and served it with the other desserts at Thanksgiving.

Bake It

Those “Hershey’s Chocolate Hugs and Kisses” would be great on top of peanut butter cookies or thumbprint cookies. Cut the “Russell Stover’s Candy” up and use in place of chocolate chips or to decorate a chocolate dessert.

Craft It

Two weeks ago, I showed you some Valentine pins my friend Whitney crafted out of Conversation Hearts. Those are a few years old!

Conversation Hearts Pin

Split It

When I got down to the last handful of “Mike and Ike’s,” I split them into single servings. I placed them in a muffin paper and left it in the cup holder of my husband’s recliner. It was an early Valentine!

Candy in a Cup Holder

Accent It

Last week, I wrapped my niece’s birthday gift in wrapping paper covered with desserts and candy. I taped “Mike and Ike’s” over the jelly beans in coordinating colors. I taped “Lifesavers” over the “lifesavers” on the paper. When she got the present she started eating the candy right away. My package was a hit!

Birthday Gift

Candy Taped to Package

Hide It

The last thing you want to do is eat the candy all by yourself. I have a large bag of lifesavers in the ottoman in the living room with the quilts. My hope is that others will eat one or two each time they get out a quilt. If I leave them on the counter, I will eat them all – one at a time. Right now both of my Valentines are sitting on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Chocolate freezes well, too.

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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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Ants in Winter

Proverbs 6:6-8 The Folly of Idleness

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
    Consider her ways and be wise.
Which, having no guide,
    overseer, or ruler,
provides her bread in the summer,
    and gathers her food in the harvest.

The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

Ants give us a great example in the summer, but I wondered, “What do ants do in the winter?”

  1. Seek warm places.
  2. Draw closer to their family.
  3. Seal the door.
  4. Eat less.
  5. Slow down.

terro.com/where-have-all-the-ants-gone

Ants have one of three roles 1) gather food, 2) repair or build the nest, and 3) feed and clean the young (larvae). (Those that gather food are the ones that die the quickest.)

I have a warm home and we are spending time with our family. Although, I could sew or read Facebook in the living room while the guys watch the ever present ball game. That way only one room would be lit!

As for sealing the door, it is insulated and I use a door draft stopper. I do need to eat less and slow down. (Nothing slows us down more than an ice storm like we had on Monday. Everyone wants to stay home!)

But, I got to thinking about the repair and building of the nest. I decided there are some repairs that are especially suited to winter. Take my flag pole.

October flag, "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

When David brought in the flag pole with the Christmas flag, the knob on the end fell off. I decided that flag needed some help. I glued the end back on and used wood filler to fill in the cracks.

Glue and wood filler used on flag pole "Ants in Winter" frugalfish.org

Then I painted it with exterior primer and gave it two coats of exterior paint.

Flag Pole "Ants in Winter" frugalfish.org

It looks like a new flag pole, but it is just repaired and repainted. Are there any “repairing projects” that you put off last summer? Now may be the best time to do them!

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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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