Thursday, December 6, 2007

Frugal Gift Wrap

There is something so special about giving and receiving a beautifully wrapped gift. I love wrapping presents it makes even the most simple gifts lovelier.
With a tight gift budget I want the most of my funds going to the gift itself.
I save every scrap of gift wrap from birthdays, Christmas, and every other gift giving occasion. I have a box full of gift bags, tissue, bows, and ribbon. I often use a plain paper brown bag as wrapping paper, I love the rustic natural look and it’s so easily dressed up with pretty ribbon. The best part is that my supply of paper bags is replenished every time I go to the grocery store.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pine Cone Christmas Tree

We're moving soon, Greg and I don't want to go out and buy a bunch of Christmas stuff only to move with it especially when we have a couple of bins and a tree waiting for us back home. Christmas is already not the same without our family and it seems even worse not to have a Christmas Tree. I know it's a bit irrational but I needed a tree, after a few days of whining and complaining to Greg, we decided I could have $20 to decorate the house for Christmas. $20 doesn't go far and any artificial tree would suck up my funds. I got creative and made a tree with pine cones and hot glue. I collected 3 big bags full at a park a few blocks from our house. I only need one bag, I'm not sure what I'll do with the left overs yet. We went to Wal-mart and spent $12, $6 on silk poinsettias and berries, $2 on ribbon and $4 for some cheap stockings. The poinsettias and berries will be saved for future use next year and the pine cones will go back to nature, we'll probably give away the stockings to someone next year. This works well because we don't have a fake tree to move with and I feel like there's a little more Christmas cheer in our home. My pictures don't really do it justice and it's obviously not a real tree but I'm satisfied for now.

Monday, December 3, 2007

My Christmas gift for my Mother-in-law

I had some trouble deciding on a Christmas gift for my lovely mother-in-law. She doesn't desire more "stuff" and a gift card seems so unthoughtful. I decided to go with a homemade gift early on but didn't know what I was going to make. A few days ago we were shopping and wandering a bit at Costco and I stumbled across a kit for making greeting cards, I didn't buy it but it did inspire me to make a greeting card set with cards for several different occasions. I think it will be the perfect gift for Greg's mom this Christmas. One of the advantages is that I was able to clean out my stash of card making items at the same time, I used up some old cards and scrap paper that I've had for months. I made 25 cards altogether and organized them in a photo holder with tabs. With a little ribbon, paper and a Christmas tag the gift is too cute and functional too!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Yogurt Pie

I hate cool whip or it's generic equivalent, I'm more of an all-natural whipped cream kind of gal. When I find a recipe with cool whip I usually pass it by. Yogurt pie is one recipe that I can put aside my distaste of cool whip for. Growing up my mother often made yogurt pie it tasted great, was incredibly quick to put together and rarely cost more than a few dollars. After finding a forgotten graham cracker pie shell in the pantry (bought on sale and with coupon several weeks ago for only $0.35) and feeling a little homesick yesterday I made Yogurt pie. I had to go to the grocery store but was pleasantly surprised to find cool whip on sale for only $0.69 I picked up some yogurt too. Once home, I whipped up the pie in about 2 minutes. To make Yogurt Pie you mix together one small tub of cool whip with two 8 oz containers of any flavor yogurt (I used mixed berry and blue berry) pour into graham cracker pie shell, cover and let set in fridge 4-6 hours or until set. This is by far the quickest dessert I've ever made. I couldn't really wait a few hours, after two hours I cut myself a slice, it was so good but my slice didn't hold it's pretty shape well.
You can't complain about the taste, cost, or ease of this recipe my only concern is the yogurt and cool whip is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup which we try to avoid at our house and is one of the reasons we switched to homemade yogurt instead of store bought.

1 Graham cracker pie shell on sale for $0.99 with $0.65 coupon only $0.34
1 small tub of generic cool whip on sale for $0.69
2 8 oz tubs of yogurt $0.50 each

Total cost of pie: $2.03

Pear and Granola Muffins

What to do with very ripe fruit? Make muffins of course! Greg was getting tired of eating my bargain pears at only 79 cents/lb, with just two left I couldn't throw them away. I stumbled across a recipe for pear and granola muffins and with all the ingredients on hand I whipped up some muffins, I didn't make the granola crisp topping in the recipe instead I used some of my own homemade granola sitting in my pantry. These muffins are perfect for weekend snacks and some will go into the freezer for future additions to our lunches.

I love to make cards and give them. These are a few thank you notes I made and gave away several months ago.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

First post!! Thanksgiving table

Greg and I had a nice Thanksgiving albeit small in numbers. Our neighbors came over, I was nervous because I didn't really know them well, but we had no problem making conversation. We played board games and enjoyed good food. I'm very proud that my turkey turned out it was very juicy and flavorful (Thank you Alton Brown) my pumpkin pie was also good, both were firsts for me. Greg was still adjusting from working the night shift so he was quite tired but a couple of shots of espresso in the morning and a pot of french press at lunch and he was just fine and very enjoyable despite his sleepiness. I think the turkey put him over the edge he went to sleep at 7 hardly 10 minutes after our guests left. I set our small table two days before Thanksgiving and since I thought is was so pretty I left it all set for the weekend to come. By Monday the table cloth needed to be washed and my flowers needed fresh water. I can't wait for the next excuse to buy fresh flowers.