Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's NYE!

Horizontal stripes don't exactly flatter, but here I am modeling my best home made Christmas gift. I was given this pair of PJs by my mother. She sewed them for me, isn't that sweet? Just like when I was a little girl. She said if I laughed at the gift, she would never make me anything again. So, to make sure she makes me more lovely things, I sent her a series of silly photos by email to show her how much I appreciate them. Remember this post when you next make something for your kids. Even years later, it will be appreciated. Nothing says lovin' like a home made present. This is the only photo I dare publish here, in part because it is hard to detect my face. I do have some pride! The other photos were increasingly silly. I am a bit of a ham, I'm afraid. As I get into my thirties however, I try to keep that for my immediate family and have some decorum in public. I am after all in my PJs, not to mention the fact that the stripes did nothing for my derriere, if you know what I mean. Perhaps I have had a few too many holiday treats. Nah, that couldn't be it. Here's to New Year's fitness resolutions. Thanks Mom, for reminding me with the stripey leisure suit, ha ha. Oops. No I wasn't laughing at you, I was laughing with you. Incidentally, I have no idea how to flip the photo horizontally, I will work on it later. Just tilt your head for now, unless you want to comment and tell me how to do it!

I am counting down the last half hour until 2010. So, I will say it now and say it proud to all my online friends and readers, then I'll be off to get some shut eye:

Happy New Year! All the best to you and yours in 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gobble Gobble.

Well, Christmas is finished for another year. Thank goodness! We had a wonderful time and I hope you all did as well. Now it is time to put it all away and get back to real life. After I have a few more days of rest, of course. After all of the eating and cooking and merry making, I am exhausted! We stayed home this year, no travel, just the three of us and had a quiet Christmas at home. But that didn't seem to make it any less hectic. There were several parties and last minute things that still had to be done before the big day. Presently, my turkey carcass is boiling down for turkey soup stock and I have two turkey casseroles in the freezer ready to heat and eat. I also made turkey salad sandwich filling with my new food processor. Turkey is versatile, delicious and a great source of lean protein. It is also fairly inexpensive this time of year, so even though we are a small family, we stuck to tradition and my husband went all out with a grand turkey feast on Christmas day while I was at work. I came home to a fabulous feast! I gladly helped with the clean up and took charge of the leftovers. First thing, I layered them into casserole dishes and popped them in the freezer along with the potatoes and gravy. Presto, two heat and eat meals ready for a busy work night. I had a coupon for $15 off this year, so we got a decent size turkey under budget. We'll have a ham for the New Year. No reason to pare down the festive feast when the leftovers, if taken care of properly, make things easier in the weeks to come. For the ham, I will shred the leftover for easy casseroles and freeze it in bags. Besides, I want to show my son that traditions can still be upheld, even if we are a family of three. I like cooking ahead, it makes things so much easier. I know that we can pull something out of the freezer and eat it with a minimal fuss and it makes resisting takeout even easier, especially since home made tastes so much better and we control the quality and portion sizes.
With all that turkey, I think I need another nap.
Do you have any great turkey recipes? Ideas for leftovers? Feel free to let us know!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Tuesday!

I had quite a productive day off today. I made a plan with my son that today would be baking day. Somehow, the first batch of baking has dwindled down some. I thought I had made quite a lot; cake truffles, chocolate covered pretzels, gingerbread, and shortbread and it's nearly all gone! Well, we did have guests and it was nearly two weeks ago, but still...Needless to say, I had to bake more treats and get some more exercise. I decided on fruit bars, (a slightly healthier option with less sugar which my son loves) peach tarts, and butter tart squares with a shortbread crust, delicious! I also wrapped up 12 burritos with the beef and bean filling I left to simmer on the stove yesterday. My place is aromatic to say the least.
I used up the last of my yeast with the last home made batch of bread and forgot to get more at the grocery store. Since I won't be doing any more shopping for quite some time, ( I hope!) I am trying a new experiment: sour dough bread. I began a starter today using the advice I found here. According to this, I should have a decent "sponge" by the time Boxing Day rolls around. We will probably need a fresh batch of bread by then and I have been dying to try sour dough. I love making bread, it sure releases holiday tensions! Oh, I also gave away a tricycle to a very happy lady whom I met from Freecycle. I have gotten so much from this site, it felt great to get a bike to a kid right before Christmas! My son loved that idea, and it's a life lesson I want him to understand as well. We are so fortunate to have all that we have and to be able to share with other like minded folks is so wonderful. If you haven't checked out your local page, I urge you to try it!

Have a very happy winter season everyone. Whatever you celebrate, celebrate it heartily!

Here's to feasting, family, fun and Frugal Findings!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Frugal Findings

I decided just this minute to change the title of my blog. I don't know yet how the change will affect my readership, if at all. To be perfectly frank, I don't mind at all either way. I enjoy writing this blog and if anyone else gets something out of it too, well that is just a bonus. Also, at the time that I began, I did not realize that Crockpot is actually a trademark name, like Bandaid or Scott towels. The actual name for that device is a slow cooker and while that is not really the focus of my writing, I decided finally, albeit impulsively, to give it up. Some of my best decisions have been made this way. Let's hope this one is in the same category. Sometimes streamlining is just what the doctor ordered.
I shall continue with my posting in much the same manner, randomly and as inspiration strikes me.
I do hope you will enjoy Frugal Findings.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You can call me Martha.

I spent my weekend baking up a storm for Christmas.

How do you like my hot buns?

I may have some company over to visit and wanted to have some nibblies on hand. I have been scouring the circulars for all the loss leaders and planning my snacks around the sales. I am amazed at what they will mark down to get you in the store. If you only buy the few items that are a bargain, you are really smart because you get a deal. I am still working on this though, I tend to think more things are "deals" once I get in a shopping frenzy, especially this time of year. I have managed a few coupon scores though, like $1.50 for dishwasher detergent. I stocked up on that one. I even sent my husband, (although he grumbled a bit, he finally realized it actually was a steal) to snag a deal of fifty cent tin foil and wax paper. He bought six rolls. I was at work and couldn't bear the thought of missing out on the one day sale. I think I may have become a tad obsessed with the deals. Must reign in. After the holidays, that is :)

Oh, wait, that is when the deals really begin....oh dear.

The other thing I made, and this I highly recommend, (right along with chocolate covered pretzels, drool, and yes, the salt and chocolate combo is fantastic!) is cake truffles. All I have to say is, keep these in the freezer, way at the back, or you will eat them all. I think pretty well anything enrobed in chocolate is good and these definitely foot the bill as a chocoholic's fix. They are so freakin' good. I made these from my left over birthday cake which no one wanted any more of. You can use any leftover cake for these! Keep this in mind over the holidays. Even fruitcake could work...

Two desserts from one boxed mix? I'd say that is frugal!

The icing on the cake? Well, the icing that was already on the birthday cake mixed right into the filling. I used peanut butter to stick it all together into balls and dipped them in melted chocolate chips. Then I decorated them with chopped walnuts and other sprinklys and popped them in the freezer on a tray. There is no end to the combinations you can dream up. They also look so great you could give them as a gift.
I also hear that Nutella in the filling is delicious. No, they don't pay me to say that. I am just a sucker for the Nutella.

Along with all the other goodies in my freezer, I think Santa is going to be one happy camper, or, Elf, as the case may be. Ten more sleeps!!

Friday, December 11, 2009


I get floods of ideas from reading blogs and I am grateful to all of you who share your frugal ideas with me so that I can try them for myself. I am not fantastic at linking to give credit where it is due but if you peek in my reading list, you will see my favourite frugalistas from which I derive much of my inspiration. I have been busy, as usual, but I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down some of the ideas I have been trying and some that I would like to try.

Here is what I have been up to:

I made my own recycled candles from white tapers and tea lights

I made my own dry baking mixes

Gifts in a jar, fun!

Made my own recycled gift tags from cardboard Christmas packaging

Christmas mugs filled with candy, HM holiday mocha mix, and HM chocolate dipped pretzels (YUM!) for the teacher and my coworkers

Hand made Christmas cards

handmade birthday card and recycled wrapping

cutting down on food waste by using the freezer (bananas celery mushrooms and tomatoes)

croutons and bread crumbs

making my own bread, pizza dough etc.

Coupons! I bought two DW soaps for three bucks and two deodorants for a buck each, yay!

Here is what I am working up to:

Wardrobe refashion:

I have been saving a few items of clothing that are stained or grown out of with distinguishing features. For example, a too-small, fleece pair of pants with Diego on them, I hope to fashion into a tuque and mitts for the boy. I started on a denim purse from a pair of (too)-skinny-for-me jeans and I hope to start on a few summer items for myself, so when the time comes I won't have to rush out to buy. Must work on the sewing skillz...

I must admit it has been difficult to reign myself in on the holiday shopping, but so far I have stuck to the budget and managed to keep a dollar limit per person on the gifts. I did receive an unexpected parcel from my single-no kids-more-disposable-income-than-me friend so I am wondering what I shall do to reciprocate, but I am sure I will think of something suitable.

Here is my recipe for HM holiday Mocha Mix which I adapted from a site called Bitsy's Kitchen. No idea where that link went, but if you search it, it will come up.

Holiday Mocha Mix

2/3 cup instant coffee

2/3 cup powdered milk

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

four packets of carnation hot chocolate, about 1/2 a cup of powder

a couple of tbsp of cocoa powder, for extra chocolate :)

Blend in the blender then divide into baggies for gifting. 1-2 tbsp per cup of hot water. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Much to say, little substance

I make no apologies for the scarcity of my posts. Ok, maybe, that's an admission that I feel somewhat remiss, but that is all. Life is fun and busy isn't it? When I started blogging I was a SAHM, now I am a working mom and school has started. Waaay different ballgame. So, I don't have the time I once had to devote to my imaginative ideas. I still have a few tucked up my sleeve, though and the best idea I have is scouring the blogs and trying other people's ideas that inspire me. The first thing I did for the upcoming holiday season was to make homemade holiday mixes. I measured out the dry ingredients for brownies, gingerbread, cornbread and cinnamon pancakes into large freezer bags and labelled them with the recipes and instructions on index cards. Now, while I am working through the holidays, all I have to do is add eggs, fat and milk and bake. Beautiful. I plan to do up some more of these. I got the fun of baking and making a big mess in the kitchen, but instead of just one final product I had four. Also I could put the mix in a jar and give it away as a gift. The next thing I tried was couponing. I have been collecting for a while and the other day I decided to be brave and try to go get some deals. I left my son at home and went to get two dollar deodorants, a free lotion and two for one chocolates. Good for stocking stuffers. I learned a few things, like how to organize them in a mini photo album so I can flip through and see them at a glance. I think with some practice, I could make couponing work. It is fun to find a cheap deal, and let's face it, with my inherent hoarding capacity, the idea of stockpiling toothpaste and shampoo at cheap prices is vastly appealing to me. My precious...

I have begun my holiday shopping with a strict limit of $20 per gift outside of my immediate family and those gifts are limited as well. For the office gift exchange, I plan to stuff a dollar store snowman mug with couponed chocolates and call it a day. I also recycled all my boring white tapers and tea lights into candle creations! I melted my son's old crayons into the wax for colour. I did all this after his bedtime of course. No need to have curious fingers in burning hot wax. I even recycled the wicks and after I bought some cute votive candle holders on clearance with Santa and snowflakes on them. I now have all my holiday candles for free and I may give some away as well. (The hoarding again, they look so good all in a big group, ha ha :) They turned out cute. My camera has been travelling around in the van, so you will just have to take my word for all this, I keep meaning to go get it but by the time I do, the kodak moment has usually passed. I hope you can enjoy last year's photo. We don't have snow yet, so this is fun for me. Welcome December!