Gift from the Heart

I have purchased and wrapped many wedding gifts but I only remember one. The bride was into recycling and loved retro items. She wore a 1930’s dress and used vintage handkerchiefs at her place settings. There was even vintage linen used for valances on the small windows in the hall.

I watched this bride grow up and I wanted to give her a special gift. Unfortunately, she married right after I had to step down from my job. I worked for a nonprofit which meant no unemployment. We were down to one income and there were no funds for extras.

I looked through the bridal registry and realized she liked the same pattern as I received at my wedding. I registered at the finest gift shop in town and never dreamed I would receive the mixing bowls, canisters, and cookie jar I had selected. My aunt and my favorite cousins pooled their resources and purchased them for me. (That is how to buy a wedding gift that is out of your budget.)

Years later, I saw a matching domed cheese plate at a garage sale. I knew the lady holding the sale and found out we married the same year. It was the only thing she received with that pattern. It thrilled me to get it at a fraction of its original cost.

I displayed my cookie jar and canisters but the mixing bowls had to stay in the cupboard. You have seen my small kitchen. There was no place to display the domed cheese plate. I ended up putting it in a box and only used it once.

I decided to give the cheese plate as a wedding gift. I pulled out a guest towel that was similar to the pattern and used it as wrapping paper. I had a cloth ribbon with an attached bow that I wrapped around it. The bride loved my recycled gift. I gave her a little piece of my heart.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $

Saturday I attended a bridal shower for Kat. Kat was in the worship band with me for a few years. I wanted to get something special for Kat. We have another thing in common – pie.

I make pies with the flakiest crust. They practically melt in your mouth. Kat’s pies are a work of art. They are so beautiful that people do not want to cut them!

I planned on ordering pie plates, a pastry blender, pie crust protectors, and a rolling-pin. That would be boring. Instead, I went to Wal-Mart and picked up 2 pie plates. I got out the etching kit my sister, Cheryl, gave me for Christmas and planned on etching her new last name – “Smith” – on them.

The only problem is – there are a million Smiths! I decided to etch “Kat” on them instead. There is only 1 Kat!

Unfortunately, the liquid you put on the glass before you etch it was almost gone. I used every last drop. I painted it on in the garage and we had a cold spell. I put 2 coats of etching liquid on them.

They still looked clear! I brought them in the house and let them warm up. I put on 2 more layers. Then I noticed on the bottle, “Do not put on too thick.” Great!

The day before the shower, I cut out the letters I stuck to the pie plates. Some of my “etching” came up. I pressed it back down and hoped for the best. I warned Kat that the “etching” might come off the first time she washed them and she just laughed. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Etched Pie Plate "Gift from the Heart" frugalfish.org

Sunday is Mother’s Day. I planned on taking her out to eat. I know that is not necessary and there is probably something she would like better. I guess I will have to put my thinking cap on. I want to give her a piece of my heart.

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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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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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Using All of the Dress

I fell in love with the dress, a red maxi, when I first saw it. (Red is my favorite color.) It was a designer dress sold for Valentine’s Day. I was searching for an Easter dress when I spotted it on clearance. It was now marked down to $14.97.

I ordered it for a Christmas dress. It is sleeveless, but I can wear a crew neck shirt underneath it or a sweater over it. I am really long-waisted, and to get the waist to fit, I have to order the tall size and cut three inches off of the bottom of the dress. I carefully measured, pinned, cut the three inches off, and re-hemmed it.

I tossed the three-inch strip in the garbage but pulled it right back out. Who knows, I may think of a way to use it. I wore the dress to a country wedding in August with a jean jacket and my red cowboy boots!

Last weekend was our “Weekend to Remember” get away and I took the red dress along to wear on the required date night. On impulse, I tossed in the extra material, too.

As I was dressing for our date, I noticed the ribbons used to keep the dress on the hanger had come loose. I pulled them off because I was afraid they would hang out and show.

Then I did my hair.

My hair didn’t cooperate. I am letting my bangs grow out and they curled down right into my eyes. I didn’t have hair spray with me and I knew my curls cannot be corralled with hairspray anyway. I took those two pieces of ribbon and tied them together. I put them on my head like a headband and tucked the bows behind my ears. It fit perfectly and kept those ornery bangs out of my eyes.Tied ribbons made headband ""Using all of the dress" frugalfish.org

I was so pleased with the effect of the ribbon, I decided to experiment with the extra material. I love those tutorials on how to fold a scarf. I tried a few I was familiar with but didn’t like the result.

Then I decided to tie the ends together making it an infinity scarf! It was so long that I had to wrap it around my head four times, but it covered the area of my neck that I am not fond of. It was high enough that I could still wear the heart necklace, with a rose in it, that was given to me by my youngest son for my birthday. I put on the matching rose earrings, my leather jacket, black pumps, and I was ready for a night on the town.Date at Hu Hot "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

I begged David to take me to HuHot a few times, but he was never interested. It thrilled me when he told me that was where he was taking me for date night! Shopping in the mall in pumps was not as thrilling, but I had a great time.HuHot Food "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

I’ve told you before to keep all ribbon. You never know when it will come in handy!

And learn a few simple ways to fold a scarf! The easiest way to learn is to ask a friend how she folded her scarf and let her demonstrate. There are also many tutorials on Pinterest. There are a few pinned to my Frugalfish Pinterest page on the “clothes” board.

$$$$$$$$$$$$

David: “McDonald’s for breakfast?”

Me: “Only if you serve it in bed!”

(And they call me “Frugalfish.”)

We had homework assignments at “Weekend to Remember” but were so tired the first night that we decided to do our homework at breakfast. We went to Perkins and I ordered Eggs Benedict for the first time. I always wanted to try them. It came with hash browns and a blueberry muffin. David had to help me finish the hash browns and I took the muffin and butter to go.

When we travel, we take a cooler with water, Powerade, assorted crackers, trail mix, and a variety of fruits. David got his breakfast at McDonald’s and I ate the blueberry muffin, a peach, and had a cup of the hotel coffee. He brought me back a fruit and yogurt and that made a filling, but inexpensive breakfast for the second day.Muffin, Peach, Coffee, "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

$$$$$$$$$$$$

“Weekend to Remember” is an investment in your marriage. It is expensive but is cheaper than a divorce! It’s never too late to save your marriage!

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Last Taste of Summer

“Summer-in-October Record Warmth,”

weather.com, 10-20-16

It sure felt like summer at the beginning of this week. I was grateful we have central air and do not rely on window air conditioners! The thing I will miss the most from summer is the fresh strawberries!

My sister, Michele, has a thriving strawberry patch. (I did not get that gene. I planted and killed 2 strawberry patches and the plants that were supposed to grow in a “strawberry pot!”) Michele made jam with just strawberries and sugar. I could eat it with a spoon.

This week I got to the bottom of the last jar. Sigh.Empty jar of jam "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

I wanted to stretch that jam as far as possible. There were still some pieces on the side. I was making sweet tea and decided to fill the jar with the hot concentrated tea.Tea in jam jar "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

My last taste of summer was strawberry tea!Strawberry tea "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

You can see other ways I flavored my tea here.

Another way I am squeezing the last of summer out is by using a fan in my front window to blow the warm air into the back of the house, see here and here. For other ways to delay running the furnace, see here.

What is your favorite summer treat?

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What’s in the Frig?

We had just returned from a weekend away, where we ate at really nice restaurants. We even tried new foods! I wanted something fancy for dinner. I asked the all important question –

“What’s in the frig?”

There was pork thawed out and fresh peaches. There was also some fresh kale the mysteriously turned up. (Sometimes, my daughter leaves things she decides she doesn’t like, but this time, it was from my son’s girlfriend.)

I went online and found a recipe for “Pork with Peaches” and another one for “Sautéed Kale.” I followed the directions a felt a bit like a chef. I baked a potato to go with those dishes. I was pleased with the results. My meal was just as colorful as the ones in restaurants.Potatoes, Pork, Peaches, and Kale on a plate.

The next time you want something fancy, start by asking the question, “What’s in the frig?”

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Block That Standby Light on DVD Player

I like it dark in our bedroom. I mean, pitch black. I have black, energy-efficient, light-blocking drapes and mini-blinds that I close. I have a piano book on its side in front of the TV to block the red “standby light” at its base. I turned the phone sideways to keep the standby light from shining toward the bed.

Our satellite box faces the black curtains. When it faced our white walls I would be awakened by a flash of light at 2:30 am when the updates arrived. Now the light shines into the dark curtains and is not reflected back to the bed.

My husband also likes a deep, dark bedroom. Before he turns in, he throws a black cloth over the radio alarm clock to block the glow from the time.

Imagine my disgust, when I moved a DVD player into the bedroom. It has a bright, red, standby light that is piercing. I tried duct tape, but that red light penetrated through it.Red Standby Light on DVD Player

I came up with a different solution…

Aluminum Foil Tape

Plumbers use this “peel-off tape” to block gaps in furnaces and air conditioner units. I used it around all the seams on my heat ducts and to secure the pipes under my registers to the floor.Aluminum Foil Tape on DVD Player

Now it has a new use…light blocking. I cut a tiny square off of one corner and taped it over that standby light. It worked. Not a red glow came through and I could get a good night’s sleep.No Light on DVD Player

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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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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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