Kid Tested, Mother Approved Hot Chocolate Mix

How are you spending Black Friday? Have you been up for hours? Did you stand in line in the cold?

I’m decorating for Christmas! I chose this year’s theme last December! There is no way you will guess it! (Actually, in the last three years, only one person guessed my theme correctly and he found a clue I left in a pretty obvious place. Go, Luke!)

Whether you are just getting home from shopping or are in the middle of your decorating, you need a cup of hot chocolate!Homemade Hot Chocolate "Kid Tested, Mother Approved Hot Chocolate Mix" frugalfish.org

I have a recipe for “Hot Chocolate Mix” that every kid will love and every mother will approve. My kids still love it!

“Hot Chocolate Mix”

  • 7 Cups Nonfat Dry Milk
  • 2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cups Dry Coffeemate
  • 1 – 2 pound can of Nestle’s Quick

Mix all ingredients together and store in a sealed container. Use 1/3 cup of mix for each cup of hot water.Jar of Hot Chocolate Mix "Kid Tested, Mother Approved Hot Chocolate Mix" frugalfish.org

Mothers love this mix because each cup is a cup of milk! Kids love it because it is sweet from the powdered sugar and creamy from the Coffeemate!

 

You can top the hot chocolate with one of the following:

  1. Marshmallows
  2. Crushed Peppermints
  3. Whipped Topping
  4. A Scoop of Ice Cream

My frugalfish tip is – homemade is always better! Make your own!

Next week I will reveal my “2017 Christmas Theme.” I’m so excited!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org

 

2017 Thanksgiving Table

My inspiration for my 2017 Thanksgiving table was the runner that I used on my kitchen table. I love the black and red with sunflowers on the edges.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

I used a black tablecloth with a red runner to mimic the table runner’s background. My gold charger plates stood in for the sunflower petals.

Gold Charges as Sunflowers "2017 Thanksgiving Table" frugalfish.org

I set the table and folded black napkins into rosettes for the centers of my sunflowers. The centerpiece is simply artificial vegetables my sister, Michele, gave me. Oh, the Indian corn in the center is real – it was given to me by my children’s preschool teacher! (Shout out to Roger and Deb!) I can’t believe it lasted this long!

Napkins Folded into Rosettes Make Sunflower Centers "2017 Thanksgiving Table" frugalfish.org

My frugal tip for this week may not save you money, but it will save you time!

I learned this tip, (for those with a separate dining room), from flylady.net. She sets her table a few days before Thanksgiving and covers it with clean sheets or tablecloths. I used my white tablecloths as dust covers. I set my table 11 days before Thanksgiving. That is one less thing on my to-do list!Cover Set Table with Tablecloths or Sheets "2017 Thanksgiving Table" frugalfish.org

Next week, I will share something everyone needs on Black Friday!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org

 

“2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour”

When you walk to my front door, you will see my Thanksgiving wreath. I made it by wrapping a gilded leaf garland my sister gave me around a grapevine wreath. All I needed to add was a plaid bow!

Gilded Garland Wreath "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

Before you knock, you will see a Pilgrim Bear greeting you from the windowsill. He’ll leave the lights on for ya!

Pilgrim Bear "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

Stepping into the living room, the lights from my glass block will draw your eye. I filled it with river rock and copper cookie cutters. It brings out the copper wire on the lights wrapped around the glass block. Next to it is my humble coaster stand. The cork and wood fit in with the autumn decorations. I decorated it with an artificial leaf and twine that came wrapped around Angie’s wedding invitation. (Congratulations Angie and Brock!)

Copper Cookie Cutters in a Glass Block "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

On the couch is my new pillow cover that says, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” The braided burlap trim says, “Autumn” to me! I love how the black and white lettering plays off of my black and white music quilt.

New Pillow Cover with Throw "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

The centerpiece on the kitchen table inspired my scheme for this Thanksgiving. You may remember I used it on my dining room table two years ago. I folded it in thirds to make it the proper size for my kitchen table. On top are my turkey napkin holder, candlesticks, and salt and pepper shakers. (Yes, Rachel, I did fill them.)

Thanksgiving Centerpiece "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

There are various vegetables around the base of the turkey napkin holder. I decided to use vegetables in my decor. I put a pumpkin basket and a glass pumpkin in my china cabinet.

Pumpkins in a China Cabinet "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

Using the colors from the table runner, I layered towels in the bathroom. I kept the autumn print I got from a link at theinspiredroom.net on the wall and pinned a turkey pin on one towel. On top I put a turkey I made with washcloths.

Washcloth Turkey "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

My frugalfish tip for this week is…

“Buy Pillow Covers, Not Pillows!”

Last week the clocks turned back one hour. In the spirit of changing times, I am going to “fall back” 7 hours next week! I will publish my post at 5:00 p.m. CST instead of 10:00 a.m. Come back to see my Thanksgiving Table!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org

Two Words to Get Anything

Today I am going to share with you two words that will get you anything you want!

The desire of my heart since we bought our house was to have a garage door opener. David didn’t see it as a necessity.

“Why do we need a garage door opener? We have three: Luke, Laura, and Derek!”

We own a modest home and the garage door was original to the house – without an automatic garage door opener. I am quite content in our home, but it does require maintenance. I posted this picture of our home when I wrote a post about getting free trees.

At the beginning of the summer, David decided to tackle the first word.

“Work!”

He works every other Saturday. On his Saturday off, he repaired and painted one side of the shed. He replaced some rotten boards and put on new hardware. Then he moved on to the house, painting just one side at a time.

It took 8 Saturdays.

He took down the shutters in the front of the house and found several hornet’s nests. We looked everywhere for those nests. I am glad we will not fight hornets next year! (My son’s fiancée recycled those shutters, but that is a post for another time.)

When the house was finally done, David stood back admiring his work. The fresh, white paint made the garage door look even worse! I reminded him that Derek is getting married next year and we will lose our last “garage door opener.”

We had just returned from our trip to Mason City, Iowa and saw some pretty awesome houses there. He decided I had used the second “W” word long enough.

“Wait!”

He brought home a booklet of garage doors. We chose the “Ranch” style door because we live in a “Ranch” style home. We chose the “Prairie Style” windows after seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in Mason City.

The other homes on our street have the four-panel garage door. Ours is unique and stands out. It sure added to our curb appeal.

How long did I wait?

We moved in 32 years ago. Thirty-two years of getting out in the rain, snow, ice, and heat to open that old garage door. It had 2 holes in it. Last spring, I taped matching paper to the back of the holes to disguise them. That old door was 46 years old!

Sometimes it would get stuck under the frame of the garage door and one of the guys would have to pound on it to pop it back behind the wood. It trapped me until they did.

The biggest mistake we make is wanting everything our parents have now. We forget that our parents worked for 30 years to make the home they now enjoy. We have to use the same 2 “W” words that they used.

“Work” and “Wait”

This was our big project for the year. We didn’t borrow to buy the paint, paint supplies, garage door, garage door opener, or the installation costs. We are still debt-free.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

I told you I was going to take my birthday off! I did and totally enjoyed myself. That is why there was not a post last week. I also took the month off – I didn’t decorate for Halloween. I will give you a tour of my Thanksgiving home next week.

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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How I Improved My Glasses

I have long eyelashes.

How long?

When I got my first pair of glasses in second grade I trimmed them!

(It broke Mom’s heart.)

My lashes are long and curly and Mom always said they were my best feature. But, when I got glasses they got in the way. I kept ripping the glasses off to remove the spider I saw only to find it was just my eyelashes.

The problem got worse when I started wearing makeup. If I didn’t allow the mascara to dry completely, I would find myself looking through bars! Contacts solved that problem for several years until the ophthalmologist told me I could never wear them again because of allergies!

I had a terrible time picking out glasses frames. The first pair I chose had an opening between the front and sides of the glasses. My hair kept getting trapped in the opening. Ouch.

The next pair was too small for the dreaded bifocals. I tried semi-rimless frames, but they magnified any dark circles under my eyes because I am near-sighted.

The last time I purchased frames, I made sure they would mask those dark circles. I forgot that I had to have a nose piece on my glasses because of my long eyelashes. (The spiders were back.)

At the beginning of the summer, I went back to the eye doctor and asked for help. They tried adding little nose pads but they were flesh-colored and my glasses are black.

New Glasses "How I improved my glasses" frugalfish.org

We found silicone nose pads in a larger town but they didn’t stay on! I went back for more and they told me they no longer make them! My glasses cost $500.00 because of my prescription and I did not want to buy another pair.

Glasses with silicone pads "How I improved my glasses" frugalfish.org

Then I had a brainstorm – Bumpers!

Bumpers "How I improved my glasses" frugalfish.org

I had a package already that I used to keep the keyboard pedal from slipping away. They are larger than nose pads and they pushed the frames away from my lashes. The silicone keeps the frames from sliding down my nose on warm days. I have several more in the package and don’t worry about losing one. They keep my glasses firmly in place and that helps me to look out of the correct part of the glasses.

Glasses with Bumpers on them "How I improved my glasses" frugalfish.org

My Frugalfish Tip is to look around, you may have just the thing to solve a problem already on hand.

Next week is my birthday – I may take the day off – or the month. Lol

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Daybed for Less Than $135

The need for a daybed did not get critical until our granddaughter graduated from the “Pack and Play.” We tried an air mattress on the floor but it was up so often that the seams on top pulled apart.

I also wanted a daybed in my office to use as a couch and for a place to spread papers out. I did not want it too low or too high. When I received a coupon in the mail for a single size mattress we decided to check it out.

We looked at consignment shops before we went to the furniture store. I also looked in my storage room to see what was available. (We did not want a daybed with a frame because it would block the window.)

We did buy the $75.00 mattress at the furniture store but picked up a new bunkie board at a consignment shop for $20.00 less. I found an adjustable frame at Goodwill for $5.88 and a set of bed raisers in my storage room.

We put the bed together and found it was not high enough to store boxes underneath. I picked up some castor cups and put them on top of the bed raisers. They also keep the legs of the adjustable frame from sliding around.

Last fall, I bought a reversible comforter for our bed. It was not as long as I liked but I kept it because of the navy color. I put that comforter on my “new” daybed and let it drape to the floor hiding the boxes.

I had three, bed pillows and one pillow my daughter made as a gift. I put my extra, light blue shams on two of them and we bought some navy colored shams for the other two.

Since the daybed does not have a frame, that left one problem. I didn’t want to place it completely in the corner because it would block an outlet and crush the floor-length drapes. In the storage room, I found a box used to ship Derek’s latest guitar. I covered it with a fabric shower curtain that I no longer use. It made a nice spacer and left access to the outlet. It keeps the fourth pillow from falling on the floor.

Outlet at head of bed "Daybed for less than $135" frugalfish.org

My granddaughter approved of the new bed! Derek had a friend over when we were out-of-town and he said it was very comfortable.

Daybed cost:

  1. Mattress $75.
  2. Bunkie Board $40.
  3. Adjustable Frame $6.
  4. Bed Raisers Free.
  5. Comforter Free.
  6. Pillows Free.
  7. 2 Pillow Shams 12.
  8. Headboard Spacer Free.
  9. Headboard Spacer Cover Free.
  10. Total Cost $133.

New daybed "Daybed for less than $135." frugalfish.org

My Frugalfish tip is to make your own daybed by getting some of the parts at consignment stores.

Next week I will show you how I improved my glasses!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Jewelry at a Glance

Years ago, I had my clothes in the laundry room and David’s clothes were in the bedroom closet. There is blue foam covering the laundry room walls. I used straight pins to hang my necklaces, bracelets, and fabric scrunchies on it. I got teased about being OCD but I loved seeing everything displayed.

Unfortunately, it was not a good plan for allergies.

Everything was open to the room and eventually, the clothes got dusty. I had to take it all down and moved my clothes back upstairs. Now we call the laundry room “The Locker Room” because David and Derek store their clothes there. (We use allergy screens now and an allergy furnace filter and they do not get dusty.)

I keep my clothes safely behind closed doors but I still display my jewelry. I bought a bulletin board and mounted it behind the bedroom door.

I purchased several new pieces of jewelry on our weekend in Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa. I had to redo my jewelry board.

First I removed the items I no longer wear and all the sterling silver. They tarnished when I left them out. I moved them to a closed jewelry box. I sorted the earrings in one bowl and the bracelets in another bowl.

Separate necklaces, bracelets, and earrings "Jewelry at a Glance" frugalfish.org

I hung the necklaces using T-pins and arranged them on the board by color.

Arrange the necklaces "Jewelry at a Glance" frugalfish.org

The bracelets filled in holes left by the necklaces. Some of them I hung on the T-pin with the matching necklace.

Add bracelets "Jewelry at a Glance" frugalfish.org

I put my earrings in 4 hole buttons and placed them in the remaining spaces. I used straight pins to hang them. I hung them by color near to the necklaces I would wear with them.

Hang earrings in the spaces "Jewelry at a Glance" frugalfish.org

As you can see, I have room for more Navy colored earrings!

Next week I will show you the daybed I put together for under $135.00!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Keep Your Veggies Longer

There is nothing worse than a fruit fly infestation. It is one of the main reasons I ordered the “Reusable Produce Mesh Bags.” You take them to the store, put the produce in them and bring them home. The holes are too small for fruit flies. After using them, you launder them in the washing machine.

I found another use for them.

I love salads. My vegetable drawer is full of salad fixings. They are each in their own green bag. I noticed that the broccoli crowns would spoil at the places touching the green bags. I started putting the clean vegetables in the “Reusable Produce Mesh Bags” and then putting it all in a green bag. My broccoli lasted a week longer!

My fruit did not fare as well. Apparently, it caused them to spoil sooner! I guess it didn’t release enough ethylene gas. I keep my fruit in the green bags alone.

Reusable produce bags inside a green bag "Keep Your Veggies Longer" frugalfish.org

Next week, I will show you how I organized my jewelry!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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An Apple for the Teacher

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I like to move into the season a bit more slowly than most. I don’t pull out the pumpkins until October. Usually, I start with apple decorations and save the yellow, orange, and brown decorations for later. Last year, it was all about fruit, see here.

My granddaughter, Olivia, started first grade this year and as I decorated, I thought about what you would see in a classroom. I had David pull out the apple decorations from my Rustic Christmas Decorations box. I used them on my wreath with a flag from the July 4th box, two pencils, and a yellow ribbon.

School Wreath "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

You may recognize the globe in my kitchen from my Christmas decorating last year. It represents geography in my decorating this month. The paints and crayons are for art and the apples are salt and pepper shakers!

Globe, Crayons, and Paint in kitchen "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

Apples fill the trifle dish and another bowl in my china cabinet.

Apples in the China Cabinet "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

There is more art downstairs in my dining room. I framed four more pieces of priceless art my children made in school. I used the frames from pictures I bought at Goodwill.

Framed Children's Artwork "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

The theme for the dining room table downstairs is music. As you can tell, I collect small rhythm instruments.

Music in the Dining Room "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

I was not sure how to decorate my glass block until I remembered most elementary classrooms have a fish or other small animal. I made it a fake fishbowl with a fish-shaped candle resting in a sea of blue glass marbles. Every fake fish needs fake fish food. I just turned the carton of popcorn salt around. The Liberty Bell from my July 4th box represents history.Fake Fish Tank "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

My son offered to loan me his calculator to represent math but that is a class most people want to forget! I didn’t accept his offer.

I used primary colored towels in the bathroom and pinned a bicycle pin on them. Above it is a printable saying I saw from theinspiredroom.net. She has a link to get a free one!

Fall Printable "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.org

My Frugalfish tip for this week is to personalize your printable sayings. I used markers on mine to match my decor. (I think I will use watercolors on a spring printable.) I got the frame at Goodwill for less than $3.00!

Personalized Fall Printable "An Apple for the Teacher" frugalfish.orgNext week I will show you how I store produce now that works better than just using Green Bags.

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa

My plan was to swim in Clear Lake and have a picnic on the beach. I imagined a game of Laser Tag or going through the Clear Lake Fire Museum, which is in walking distance to the 9/11 Steel Memorial crafted from an artifact salvaged from the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001. I thought we would cruise the lake on the Lady of the Lake, a picturesque paddlewheel.

David planned on sleeping in!

He may or may not have dreaded our last stop in Clear Lake, Iowa. He compromised by taking me shopping in Mason City and eating lunch at Pasta Bella. You can tell I am all about the bread!

Pasta Bella "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

I learned a painful lesson at Pasta Bella. When the waitress asks you if you want a few minutes, take her up on it! They had 2 specials and David ordered one of them but I am a salad girl. I ordered the salad that had artichoke hearts and other ingredients I don’t normally have at home.

The waitress asked if I wanted to add meat to my salad: chicken, salmon, or shrimp. I cook with chicken all the time and I do not care for salmon. I ordered the shrimp. It cost $8.00 extra. Yikes! I regretted spending that much money on 6 grilled, jumbo shrimp! It was very good. (After lunch we went back to the hotel and relaxed.)

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Our first destination in Clear Lake was “The Landing.” It was on the lake next to the pier where the boats dock. You could eat outside or in the shade.

The Landing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.orgClear Lake Pier "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

David ordered the “Fish and Chips” and I ordered the “Hawaiian Chicken with Parsnip and Carrot Fries.” I love trying new foods when I eat out. (Now I know, I am not a fan of parsnips.) The food was excellent and they have live music on Friday nights.

Fish and Chips "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

While we waited for our food I took a picture of my jewelry. I was wearing a ring that was a copy of Princess Diana’s wedding ring. I remember that royal wedding. I was jealous of all the pretty things but she died so young and so tragically 20 years ago. I am glad I did not have her life.

Memory Jewelry "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The bracelet was a gift from David’s cousin. His wife died from cancer and he shared all of her jewelry. I may not have a lot of money, but I have my health and that is everything!

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

After dinner, we went to the beach and took pictures. We enjoyed watching the antics of the kids who were there.

Clear Lake Beach "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Then we headed to the highlight of our trip –

The Surf Ballroom!

This is where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” sang their last concert. There was a marquee that had autographed guitars all along the top of it. I took several pictures and sent them to the guitar players in our worship band – just to make them jealous.

Memorial at the Surf Ballroom "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Surf Ballroom "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The pictures don’t do justice to all the posters, memorabilia, instruments, and autographed photographs of all the musicians who played there over the years. You just have to go see it for yourself! Don’t miss the outside display where you can hear Buddy, Richie, and The Big Bopper each singing their top hit. (Note: these were all before my time.)

Ready for Ballroom Dancing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The Jan Graber Orchestra was there that night for ballroom dancing. David and I don’t dance. We shuffled through our first son’s wedding and I wanted to do better at our second son’s wedding next year. I figured in 4 hours we would figure out how to get around the dance floor without going in opposite directions!

David was not enthusiastic. We sat through the “Rumba,” the “Samba,” and the “Two-step.” (I posted updates on Facebook for my friend Paula who does know how to dance.)

When they played the song, “New York, New York,” they called for everybody to dance. We got halfway around the room when David said, “Oh, I twisted my knee!” We sat back down. He rested it for a little while and I did get to dance four more times. I think we only made it around the room once!Ballroom Dancing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

There were couples the age of our parents and three couples in their twenties. They knew what they were doing and it was fun to watch them. We found our own rhythm and enjoyed ourselves in spite of our lack of lessons.

The couples in the booth next to us were from Ottumwa, Iowa which is about 30 miles from our home. We talked with them most of the evening. One lady was the first bookkeeper for the Area 15 AEA. We told her our daughter-in-law worked for AEA when they first married and I was a bookkeeper at a local preschool and daycare for 18 years.

At 8:30 p.m. some of the older couples started going home. That was all the excuse David needed. It was starting to feel like Saturday night at Mom’s watching Lawrence Welk. (Who also played at the Surf Ballroom.) We snuck out because I had a cannoli calling my name. We bought desserts at Pasta Bella and saved them for after the dance.

Cannoli and Italian Cake from Pasta Bella "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Monday, on the way home, we filled up the van and used our reward money from our BP Credit Card, 20 gallons for $2.18. That made up for the shrimp!

Thanks BP Rewards Card "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Of course, if you make your husband go ballroom dancing, you will have to make one more stop before going home – “Guitar Center.”

David in Guitar Center "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

My Frugalfish tips are:

  1. Be flexible with your plans; you might miss a few attractions.
  2. Take your time ordering. That last-minute addition could really cost you.
  3. Schedule in times of rest. It is a vacation, not a marathon.
  4. Enjoy what you do have and don’t compare yourself to others.
  5. Cherish your good health.
  6. Dance to your own steps and enjoy the music.
  7. Take time to get to know the people around you.
  8. Always get dessert!
  9. Save your rewards for your vacation.
  10. Be sure to stop at places your spouse would enjoy.

I was lucky, my husband made the weekend all about me! He’s a keeper.

Next week, on the first day of fall, I will give you a “Frugalfish Fall Home Tour.”

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

pamela.frugalfish@gmail.com

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