Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What in the World's a "Redneck Travel Kit?!?"

You may have read that I don't like to throw things away if I believe they have more life left in them. Glass jars are certainly no exception. I buy many things that are contained within glass jars: spaghetti sauce, jelly, pickles, salsa, etc. It always seemed such a shame to toss these sturdy vessels as if they were yesterday's news when there is so much potential for reuse! I mean, people intentionally BUY those cute little "Mason jar" drinking glasses with the lids and straws nowadays. I will get into all the possibilities for glass jars in another post, but for now I'd like to share with you one way that I recycled many of my glass jars into something useful and pretty darn cute - - or so I thought . Enter: the Redneck Travel Kit!

You may have ALSO read in my introductory post that I love sprinting out to the mailbox to rob it of its bounty AKA free samples and other super exciting free stuff! I get a lot of free samples in the mail (again, that will be material for another post when I share my sources with you!). It kinda softens the blow of the wretched bills that inevitably accompany the free stuff, you know? With an ever-expanding shoebox chock full of travel sized shampoo, conditioner, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, antacids, vitamins, mouthwash........whewww......you name it - - AND a closet shelf brimming with my impressive glass jar collection salvaged from a life of broken (literally) dreams, what is a girl to do? Much like the Brady Bunch, I "knew that it was much more than a hunch, that this group must somehow form a family"....

I'll let you in on a little secret. My parents keep me perpetually stocked with an array of awesome "stuff" ranging from antiques to clothing to odds-n-ends.  One of my most favorite things they have given me was a gallon jug of Goof Off. This stuff is lethal, let me tell ya......it will remove the funky, gunky, sticky, icky from ANYTHING! But one word of advice - - VENTILATE. Anyhow, I got to work on the messy, sticky labels on my jars with my trusty Goof Off, a pair of latex gloves and an old washcloth. They came out gleaming following Goof Off and a bath in the dishwasher. My next step was to spray paint the lids, outside of course. Now, you don't have to do this. I suppose you could always cut out a pretty little square of cloth to cover it, but I wanted the recipient to be able to use the jar for something else (cotton swabs in the bathroom, rubber bands on a desk?) after the contents were removed without having to look at KROGER VALUE HAMBURGER SLICES all the time. That's not cool.

Once the jars were cleaned and the lids painted and dried, the fun part began! I did this a couple of weeks ago in mid-December with an array of samples that I had requested from various websites, collected and saved all throughout the year. I had enough to fill nearly a dozen jars, with each one having a nice variety of things. Now I must confess that I did this same thing last year, but I had named them "Spa in a Jar" and had attached a bath puff to the lid of the jar. I wanted to do something a little different, so the hubster suggested "Redneck Travel Kit". Sounded good to me!

Any good Redneck Travel kit needs attractive packaging, doesn't it? My local Dollar Tree sells packs of clear cellophane treat sacks at 20 for a dollar, so I went with these. The jars fit very nicely in these with room to tie the bag off at the top. Again, I could have left it like this, but I wanted to embellish it a bit more. I am blessed to own a Cricut paper cutting machine given to me by my husband's grandmother. I'll tell ya, it's nifty! I had saved several of the thin pieces of cardboard that come in things liked packaged t-shirts because I knew I would use this to make adorable little tags on my Cricut, but you could EASILY just hand cut some cute tags. After making my tags and labeling them, I tied them to the kits. However, they still looked like they needed something. My thoughts then went to the impossibly wrinkled and mis-sized pajamas that my nephew could no longer wear. They were a perfect burgundy and navy plaid and would match my blue jar lids. I got those and went to work tearing strips. These strips became rustic little ribbons for the travel kits.

Now, this idea could be modified and the contents could be changed for any occasion. You could put in candy for Valentine's Day or Easter. A jar could be filled with paper clips, rubber bands, a few pens, etc. for a "Redneck Office Supplies" jar. Or, you could fill it with potpourri and paint the recipients initial on the lid for a cute and elegant little gift. My sister made several potpourri jars this Christmas. I will do another post on her and her husband's craftiness later on!

So, have I inspired you yet?? Have a fun, frugal and fabulous day from our house to yours!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

Well folks, for my very first fun and frugal homespun post, I would like to share with you my homemade turkey pot pie. I am sure many of you are in a quandary over what to do with all that leftover turkey and fixins' from Christmas. Never fear, you can create something beautiful AND delicious that will have everyone bragging and asking for more. Best of all, this recipe isn't really even a recipe (other than the dough). It is a composition of all the things you have in your fridge or pantry that you might want to throw into a pie crust. That, to me, is the best part. There is nothing worse that starting a recipe and finding out I am missing a couple of ingredients. I usually ALWAYS substitute something else or leave it out if possible. I don't like having to stop what I am doing and go to the grocery store. Ughhh.  It stifles my creativity and causes me to have to spend money. No thanks. Anyhoozle, on to the pot pie......

For the crust, I used my standard biscuit dough recipe, but in the spirit of using what you have, you could probably use canned biscuits! Here's my recipe:

2 cups flour
1 stick of margarine / butter (that's 1/4 cup, folks!)
2/3 cup of milk (water will work if you don't have milk)
Dash of salt
Dash of sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all these ingredients in a big bowl until they are combined (if you stir TOO much, though, the finished product will be a bit on the tough side). Dust your countertop with flour and dump the dough out. sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and start rolling out until you reach about a 1/4 of an inch in thickness. Next, turn your pie plate (or baking dish) upside down on top of the rolled dough and cut roughly around it to get the correct size for the bottom crust. Then, with the help of a nice and flat spatula, gently lift the dough and place it into the pie plate. You will have enough left for a top crust, too!

Are you ready for the fun part now? Start adding ingredients! Here's what I happened to have: 

2 1/2 cups more or less of turkey, which I cubed
About a cup of stuffing
About a a cup combined of both whole kernel and creamed corn
1 1/2 cups of leftover cream of chicken soup

I simply layered these things into the crust, adding my soup last so that it would drain down into the other ingredients and moisten them as the pie baked. Next, I decided that I wanted a lattice top on my pie. I re-rolled the rest of the dough and cut some strips. I added them to the top of the pie, weaving them as I went. You don't have to do this, as I think a regular, solid top would be nice too - - just don't forget to make some holes in the top so your filling can vent! I baked it for about 20 - 25 minutes, and here's the result!

Trust me - - there's no precision here, and it turned out yummy! The hubster and son were thrilled with the result, and the pie itself was so big, it took the three of us two different meals to eat it. I loved the fact that I only added what I had leftover. If I hadn't had any corn, I might have opened a can of green beans - - you get the idea. From our house to yours:  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!


Greetings and Salutations

Hello everybody! 

My name is Tanya and it is a pleasure to begin a new adventure in the world of blogging. First, a little info - - I am the only gal in a house full of guys: the hubster, my son, a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua.  I work full time as a case manager. My wish for this blog is to be a creative outlet for me, while providing you with info that you might just find useful. I have been interested for many years in making my home a wonderful place to be, while at the same time, doing it in a fun and frugal way. Yep. I'm one of those who panics if someone is about to throw out an empty butter bowl or discard a gently used gift bag. I LIVE to receive free samples and such goodies in the mail. A good coupon really gets my heart to racing! So, with that being said, let's start blogging. I hope to share some of my favorite projects and tips while chronicling my frugal and homespun life here on Ridgewood!