Friday, January 31, 2014

Free and Frugal Friday Ramblings

Yay, it's Friday! I am just about as excited as that camel is on Wednesdays! I hope everyone has enjoyed the Lord's blessings of a wonderful week. I know I have. I especially love it when He blesses me with an abundance of freebies and "cheapies", and it has been a good day for these things indeed.

During my lunch break today, I went to Walmart. I had other business to do there and it is within a mile of my workplace, so it wasn't like I made a special trip. Do you remember me telling you about a $7.00 off any Tena product? Well, I redeemed that coupon today. I was able to score a $4.97 package of 20 Tena Serenity pads AND $1.73 in change!!! You see, Walmart's coupon policy states that the customer will receive the difference in money if the coupon value exceeds the product purchase price. I encourage you to read and print the policy, found HERE. Also, you can still request a Tena coupon HERE. Since I literally got PAID to grab these Tena pads from Walmart, I will find someone who can use them. I mean, why not??

All that freebie finding can be pretty rough on a gal, and by the time I left Walmart, I was parched. I needed some refreshment, and fast! I remembered the coupon that Dunkin Donuts had sent me in the mail for signing up to receive their emails. It was good for any medium beverage, which includes hot cocoa, tea, hot or iced coffee, or one of three flavors of Coolattas. So, into the DD drive-thru the Chrysler went, and out I came with a yummy Minute Maid Orange Coolatta, which you can sign up to receive HERE. Not only will you receive (by postal mail) a coupon for signing up, but you will also receive one for your birthday. Sign up your honey, too! Doesn't this look refreshing?!?

I am always busting through the door of my house just as weak and starving as if I had spent a fortnight trekking across the Sahara. This afternoon was no different, to be sure. For supper, I decided to try one of the FREE Kraft Recipe Maker kits I got from Dollar Tree the other day. I chose the Chicken Bruschetta since I had some pasta and a can of chicken on hand (also from DT). In my usual rebellious style, I DID NOT follow the directions on the box. They asked for bow-tie pasta and I used macaroni. They asked for 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast and I used a 5 ounce can of Butterfield Farms White Chicken chunks. Ha - - take that! All in all, I had about $1.60 total in the dish, between the macaroni and the chicken. Get your own $1.00 off Kraft Recipe Makers coupons HERE to get FREE boxes of this kit at Dollar Tree. Look how yummy and totally Italian (in a cast iron skillet, of course):

Yes, folks - - God is good to me and I am having such fun sharing the wealth with you. Please say an extra prayer tonight for the hungry and cold. Have a fun, frugal and fabulous evening, from our house to yours!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Warm, Homemade Sugar Cookies - - Yummy

You've been there - - we all have. You've just finished supper, it's freezing cold and pitch black outside, and you want something sweet.  Pronto. But who really wants to traipse out into the foreboding cover of night to make that dreaded trip to the grocery store or............dare I say it...........Walmart?!? Besides, if I set foot into Kroger hungry for something to satisfy my snack attack, I may not make it out alive. Well, okay........I will actually make it out alive, but with 576 pounds or 3 grocery bags of fatty junk in tow. Who wants that? Why not take the easy AND frugal way out, stay in your warm and cozy kitchen and whip up a simple, tasty treat tonight! You probably already have the ingredients on hand, and the family will love you. Sugar cookies are humble little nuggets of goodness that are not too flashy yet always satisfy that sweet tooth. You could even gussy 'em up with icing or sprinkles if you wanted to. I found a recipe not too long ago, tweaked it to make it my own and have since baked up several batches of soft, yet chewy sugar cookies. In fact, the scenario above describes my own dilemma tonight as I searched the cabinets for something sweet after our supper of chicken fried rice, mashed potatoes, macaroni & tomato and rolls. Here's how they turned out:

There are several reasons why I like these cookies:
  1. Spoon them straight from the mixing bowl onto the cookie sheet (NO rolling and cutting) and enjoy super easy cleanup.
  2. No special ingredients need to be purchased. This recipe is made with things you probably already have.
  3. The cookie is light and soft, yet slightly chewy, which is a good thing!
  4. Since it is, in fact, made with a few standard pantry items, it is inexpensive. I haven't calculated the actual cost, but I might do that out of my own curiosity later on.
  5. They are quick to mix up (5 minutes) and bake (10 minutes).
Without further adieu, here is my recipe:

Tanya's Sugar Cookies
2 Cups sugar
1 1/4 Cup margarine
2 eggs
3 Cups self-rising flour
1/2 Teaspoon salt

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and margarine in a mixing bowl with mixer. Add salt and eggs and continue until mixed. Turn off mixer and add flour, mixing by hand until batter is smooth. Drop 12 evenly spaced walnut sized spoonfuls of dough onto each cookie sheet. Bake 9 - 10 minutes or until edges appear slightly brown. They may still appear a bit under-baked on top when they first come out of the oven, but this is okay. They will firm up in a matter of minutes. Enjoy with a cold glass of homemade sweet tea. The recipe for that can be found HERE!

Have a fun, frugal and fabulous evening, from our house to yours!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Oh,, tobacco sticks!

Happy Monday everyone! I hope everyone's week is off to an awesome start. Need a new and crafty idea to get you going on this chilly winter day? Primitive and rustic country decor is in great abundance wherever you look these days. One popular and sought after accessory that goes quite nicely with such decor is anything made from tobacco sticks. Usually I post on things that I have made, but there are many more creative folks hanging from the branches of my family tree. Today I thought I would share the fruits of the efforts of these fine folks! At one point in time, my family grew tobacco on their farm; however we are now left with the remnants of this page in history in the form of oodles of "baccer" sticks once used to hang freshly cut tobacco in the barn rafters to dry. I have been fortunate enough to have received several pieces of furniture and decor made by my mother and father as well as my sister and brother-in-law. Let me share, shall I?

  • Chair. Just look at this little chair made by my Mommy and Daddy. I think it looks so cute, and the bears (given to me by Mommy) think it is super comfy.
  • Ladder. My sister and brother-in-law surprised all the ladies in the family at Christmas with homemade tobacco stick ladders, embellished with a cream colored bow and red berries. I thought it was the perfect spot to hang my hay hooks given to me by my Daddy.

  • Star. This huge star, made by my Mommy and Daddy, is the perfect size for the gable end of my garage on the front of my house. 

  • Tree. Mommy and Daddy made this also. This picture was taken at Christmas, and as you can see, i have it all dolled up with a bead garland, feathers, berries, twigs and greenery. It is great because it is so versatile and can be decorated for each season.

I am so proud of my creative family and the things they turn out. I can't wait to see what they make next (hint, hint Mommy, Daddy, Tammy and Damon.....).

So, you don't have access to tobacco sticks, you say? Well, almost anybody can come up with some sticks that could be whipped up into something fantastic. Take a look at this cute little willow twig table I spotted while surfing the internet:

You can read more about it HERE on the Woodworkers Workshop website. Maybe you will get some inspiration. It's not too early to get started on Christmas gifts, you know! These primitive pieces and pieces like them are all wonderfully frugal as well as fab gift ideas.

Have a fun, frugal and fabulous day from our house to yours!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Mail Call

Brrrr! Happy chilly Saturday to everybody. I would venture to say that poor Keith the mailman wished he had chains on the tires of the little mail jeep today! Ridgewood Circle was quite the treacherous place this morning as snow fell from the sky and coated the streets like parmesan cheese on lasagna. Nevertheless, Keith delivered a smorgasbord of goods all week long!

What did I get this week? Feast your eyes:

  1. Petersen's 4-Wheel and Off Road Magazine
  2. Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine
  3. Ontario Outdoor Adventures Calendar
  4. Bigelow Cozy Chamomile Herbal Tea sachet
  5. Cantu Shea Butter hair cream for dry hair
  6. Guitar picks in assorted colors/designs from
  7. Tena product $7.00 off coupon = FREE Tena product at Walmart
  8. Dunkin Donuts coupon for FREE small hot or iced coffee
The magazines may have come from Rewards Gold, or Mercury Magazines (access to free subscriptions on all three sites). The calendar, which has some nice photos, is STILL AVAILABLE HERE (select "add to cart"). The Bigelow Tea sample and the Cantu Shea Butter sample were Facebook freebies which are, sadly, over. The guitar picks are no longer available, there is a new Marlboro freebie that you should be able to score. If you or someone in your household is a smoker (my husband smokes), then you might want to go over to and create a free account. They have nice freebies every two or three months, and they have cigarette coupons monthly that you can request. The Tena coupon is still available from their website. You can get it HERE, and can request a $7 or $14 coupon by mail. The $7 Tena Pad coupon is the one that you should request because Walmart (and possibly other retailers as well, but I am unsure) has the pads for less than $7.00, thereby making them free with the coupon. The Dunkin Donuts coupon is one reason why you should look through your sale papers before trashing them. I cut this little coupon out of a DD coupon booklet that was stuck in the midst of Kroger, IGA, etc. sale papers. Many people automatically toss these out, but they are worth at least leafing through. You never know what might lurk!

Even if some freebies don't appeal to you, someone else might be able to use them. Like the incontinence pads or the hair cream, for example. Nobody in my household needs these things, but why pass them up if they are free? Get them anyway and keep them until you can pass them along to someone else. You never know when you might be able to bless someone with essentials that they need and cannot get for whatever reason. When I look for freebies, 9 times out of 10 I am thinking of who else might need it.

Have a fun, frugal and fabulous weekend, from our house to yours!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Free Fun with Phone Books

I can honestly say that I have never lived in a place where more telephone directories are distributed than in Somerset, Kentucky. It seems as if my driveway becomes home to a bagged phone book, tossed haphazardly from a speeding car at least three or four times a year. As evidenced by my collection of glass jars, plastic grocery sacks, bread ties and straws, I just don't feel right about the thought of tossing the poor phone book into the trash. For one, it has already suffered so much in its short life, narrowly escaping serious injury in the midst of a rough landing on the surface of my concrete driveway. But also, much like a bright eyed child, it has SO much potential! So what do I do? I rescue it and give it new life! Just so you know we're not getting all hoarder crazy here, I only keep a couple of phone books at a time. I actually do put excess ones in the recycle bin (but don't tell their friends).

IDEA #1:  One big advantage of saving a phone book from the trash is the fact that it is essentially FREE craft material! Consider this wreath I made from phone book pages, a pizza box and a wire clothes hanger. For this thrifty wreath, the only things I had to actually purchase were the letters. The letters were less than a dollar each at Hobby Lobby, and I already had the ribbon on hand. I used probably 25 cents worth of ribbon overall. I just love the little areas of yellow peeking out from the rolled pages, don't you? To make this, I taped the lid shut on a clean (yet used) pizza box. I then cut the pages from a phone book, rolled them and hot glued them to the box. For the hanger, I used duct tape to secure it to the back of the wreath, and then hot glued ribbon to the front to conceal it. If you want a totally free wreath, just omit the letters and ribbon!

IDEA #2:  Use as gift wrap! At one time, this may have been considered really cheap and tacky. However, I have been noticing more and more printed scrapbook paper and decorative items that have newspaper and similar print. It has become fashionable to wrap gifts with newspaper and book pages tied up with a pretty burlap or jute bow! Or, you could also cut a pretty flower out of the pages and tape to the top. This is awesome if you are caught suddenly in need of gift wrap and have none OR just want something different and cute.

IDEA #3:  Tissue paper or gift basket filler. You probably saw the gift bags I made using recycled calendars. Instead of the traditional tissue paper, I stuffed these gift bags with phone book pages. They turned out cute and helped to reduce trash can waste created by more and more store-bought tissue paper

IDEA #4: Have you ever gotten caught out someplace and needed to make a call but didn't have the number? If so, you probably called somebody in your family, had them find a phone book, look up the number and wasted several minutes of your day. Why not use one of those extra or old phone books to carry in your vehicle? My husband actually gave me this bright idea a few weeks ago when he asked for one of the phone books from my "craft stash" to keep in his truck. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that the extra phone books could be used books!

I hope you have a blast using some of my ideas or your own awesome ideas for your old phone books. One thing I REALLY want to do next is to figure out how to make paper from old phone books. I'll keep you informed of the results. Have a fun, frugal and fabulous evening from our house to yours!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cheap Eats = Good Eats, or... Directions? What Directions?

Good Tuesday night, dear readers! I may have mentioned in another post about the Hamburger Helper and Chicken Helper coupons I used at Dollar Tree to score eight 80 cent boxes of those respectable products by the wonderful Betty Crocker. I was super anxious to get home after work this afternoon. It was cold, snowy and windy, and all I wanted to do was rush home and cook something hot and yummy. However, I was also really hungry. It seemed eons ago that I had eaten lunch (or at least 4 hours, LOL). After rushing through the door, tossing off my coat and proceeding to look through the cabinets, I decided that some Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo would fit the bill perfectly for some warm comfort food on this snowy afternoon. As I assembled the things I needed, I made a grave discovery..............................NO MILK IN THE FRIDGE!!!

The kid. It had to be the kid. I glanced in the trash can only to see the empty jug just lying there. I could tell it had put up a good fight, but had met its match in a 12 year old growing boy over the course of a mere 24 hours. Panic ensued as I pondered my next step.....should I? Could I...........use............water?!? At this stage in the game, I had NO desire to make the grueling 5 minute, mile and a half trip back to Kroger. I just wanted to cook. And eat. I took the plunge and boldly went where few culinary purists have ventured. I measured out not the 1 1/2 cups of water and 2 1/2 cups of milk that Mrs. Crocker directed me to add to my Chicken Helper, but 4 CUPS of good old H2O and proceeded with the rest of the directions as if nothing had happened. I used tap water, even! We live on the edge here on Ridgewood Circle. It's just how we roll.

So, how did it turn out, you ask? Quite delicious, I must say, and the guys in the household thought so as well. I didn't tell them about the lack of dairy products in the dish until after the meal. They would have "missed" the milk in it had they known the truth. Go on - - try it for yourself. Here's what to look for, and as I said, they currently have it at Dollar Tree:'s the final product in the absence of the side dishes with which it was served tonight (baked potatoes, fried apples, cornbread and cheesecake):

Coupons are still available, folks. You can print an "80 cents off four boxes" HERE OR you can find a nice "90 cents off four boxes" by signing up on the Betty Crocker site HERE and clicking on the "coupons" tab. Both sources allowed me to get two prints out of each coupon. Don't forget to follow your Dollar Tree coupon policy, which you can find HERE

I'm gonna go ahead and let you in on another secret: I used canned chicken chunks from Dollar Tree in this recipe instead of cooking fresh raw chicken. It worked great, and gave me the added bonus of not having to wait for chicken to cook before I could get started with the rest of the recipe. I guess I really just threw the directions for preparation out the window on this one, huh? It turned out yummy AND my family of three will eat it for leftovers again tomorrow night. Total cost for it as the main entree was $1.80 plus a few pennies for the minimal amount of margarine and water used. Both cheap and good. Mission accomplished!

Have a fun, frugal and fabulous night, from our house to yours!

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Dollar Tree Deals this week - WOW

If you have never checked out the grocery section of Dollar Tree, then you are definitely missing out - - especially if you are fortunate enough to have a Dollar Tree in your area that has a refrigerator / freezer section! Unfortunately, the Dollar Tree in my town does not have a refrigerator / freezer section, but the one in the next town over does. We had to drive over there this morning to take my husband for an MRI so my son and I went to DT while we waited on him. Well, we were thrilled to score 3.5 ounce RIBEYE STEAKS there for a buck each for my husband's birthday meal tonight! We also got some other cool name brand grocery items for cheap and free using coupons. For those of you who didn't know, Dollar Tree has been taking coupons for about a year now. Read their coupon policy HERE. In order to abide by their coupon policy, be prepared by taking someone with you and perhaps doing multiple transactions as well.

These pics represent two different days of Dollar Tree finds. I went a couple of days ago as well, and decided to go again once I found that some of my coupons had reset and I was able to print more copies.

Haul #1:  ALL FREEBIES - Two Kraft Recipe Makers kits and Two Progresso Recipe Starters Cooking Sauces. I used two $1.00 off Kraft Recipe Makers coupons and two 50 cent off Progresso Recipe Starters coupons (my DT had them priced at 50 cents each which is already great).

Haul #2: Two Kraft Recipe Makers (Free with coupons), eight boxes of Hormel Pepperoni (four free with the use of 4 $1.00 off 2 coupons) and three ribeye steaks for $3. This is $13 worth of items for only $7. Now, I am by no means an "extreme couponer", but that is a pretty significant savings to me!

If you only have a few coupons, making a special trip would not be worth it. You would spend more in gas than you would save. But, it is worth checking out the website and being familiar with what your Dollar Tree sells so that you be able to match coupons up to score some free groceries. I get most of my coupons from The Progresso, Kraft and Hormel coupons are still available, as are some Hamburger / Chicken Helper coupons (80 cents off four = $3.20 = 80 cents total per box at Dollar Tree!). Also, there is a Progresso SOUP coupon for 50 cents off two cans. The soup is delish, and the coupon makes it only 75 cents a can. Folks, you just can't get it for that price at the grocery store. In fact, here are the current Walmart prices for some of these items: Progresso Recipe Starters or Soup is $1.88, Hamburger Helper is $1.68 a box and Kraft Recipe Makers is $1.98. So, go to, turn on your printer and get ready to save some dough! Keep in mind that my free items were totally free this time because they were grocery items. If you have a coupon that covers the cost of something like toothpaste, then you will have to pay tax on it. But, hey - - I don't mind spending 6 cents on a tube of toothpaste, do you?

Unfortunately, Dollar Tree isn't paying me to say any of this, although I wish they were! I just wanted to make sure and pass along these great free and cheap grocery ideas to you. I love it when others share deals with me! So, have a fun, frugal and fabulous day from our house to yours!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Mail Call!

Howdy folks, it's time for Saturday Mail Call!

I hope everyone is having a nice Saturday night! I am sorry I haven't posted all week. I have been fighting a terrible headache most of the week, and I am glad to thank God that it is now gone! I am happy with the provisions of my little mailbox this week. Below are pics of the many lovely goods with which I have been blessed this week, all free of charge, of course:

So, Keith the mailman brought me a lot of cool FREE goods, eh? Included are six magazines (Good Housekeeping, The Red Bulletin, Bloomberg Businessweek, Cosmopolitan, Family Fun and Town & Country), the 2014 Calendar of Mathematical Imagery, 5 packets of Folger's Gourmet Vanilla Biscotti Coffee and two photo books from

Where did I get all this stuff and how did I know about it? Most of the magazines are from Rewards Gold (, although I do believe you can still sign up for a subscription to the Red Bulletin (action, music, sports, travel, etc.) on their website ( You can get the calendar of Mathematical Imagery at by emailing them your name and address. I am sorry to say that the coffee was a Facebook offer and it is now expired. The photo books, from were free with a couple of codes that are now expired. 

I learned about these things (as well as all other freebies I get) from one of my four "go to" freebie/deal sites: 

I hate to share pictures of free stuff with you only to have to tell you some of the offers are expired, but this is a good reason to check one or more of the above four sites every day or two. I promise, it only takes a few minutes! I feel led to share one last freebie with you on this fine Saturday night, and it is one that is always available with no expiration date: salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the price so long ago on that "old rugged cross" so that we can have eternal life. All you have to do is ask God for forgiveness for your sins, believe in Him and earnestly ask for Him to guide you through life and do your best to serve Him in obedience. That, dear folks, is the best FREEBIE of all!

Have a fun, frugal and fabulous evening, from our house to yours!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Calendars: Where to Get Free Ones and Stuff to Do With Old Ones

Once January rolls around, I always have a few calendars that I hate to toss out to make way for the new year. So, I don't! But, it is impractical to just keep things lying around, all hoarder-style (though I do like those TV shows.....), simply because you hate to get rid of things. The goal is to make use of the resources you have before you for your benefit and the benefit of others, NOT to make life harder by living in the midst of clutter and junk, right? I have received the most beautiful Joyce Meyer Ministries calendar three years in a row. The 2012 calendar had such nice photography on it that I didn't want to stick it in good ol' File 13, so let me will show you what I did with it!

Wall Art 
This is the most obvious option as well as the easiest way to reuse a calendar. The images on the calendar were so bright and inspirational that I decided to choose four of them to hang in groups on each side of my bed, directly above the bedside tables. They look blurry in my photographs (I have told you that I am not a good photographer, haha), but they actually look quite nice in person. The best part is that I can recycle them or even toss them when I want to change decor.

Gift Bags
The first photo illustrates the size box I used to fold the paper to create the gift box. The box doesn't become part of the finished gift bag; it just serves as something to fold the bag and tape it over to get the correct size. After I folded and taped the bags together, I slipped the box out. So, simply fold the bag the way you would wrap a present on the side and one end and tape, and THEN slip out the box. At this point, you can punch holes and insert ribbon, jute or yarn for handles if you want. Notice that I used the pages of an old phone book for tissue paper. This is just one more idea that goes along with the "use what God has provided you" philosophy. I thought they turned out cute despite the fact that I made one of them upside down. Oops!

Kitchen Tool Canister
This project also goes along with a post from the other day about things to do with old jars. Below is simply a pickle jar, some paint and a calendar page. I had admired the look of mercury glass jars and other accessories such as those offered by Pottery Barn and Anthropologie, but I wasn't willing to pay the prices they commanded. So, with a can of silver spray paint in hand I went to work. Once it was dry, I chose a calendar page and trimmed the edges with scrap booking scissors. I secured the edges with tape and decoupaged it so that it can be cleaned easier. 

Now that you are armed with some ideas, just where can you get calendars (without buying them, of course)? Unfortunately, Joyce Meyer Ministries is all out, as is Betty Crocker and the West VA Dept of Tourism. These are some of the prettiest ones. HOWEVER - - I was able to locate more sources that still have calendars on hand, but you must act quickly:

  1. Ontario Outdoor Adventures 2014. Go here to request this calendar, filled with "stunning photography from across the province" of Ontario, Canada:
  2. Farnam Horse Calendar. If you like horses, it looks like this one has some nice photography. 
  3. The Calendar of Mathematical Imagery from the American Mathematical Society. I actually received mine in the mail this very day, and it included "albums of mathematically inspired works in a variety of media--computer-generated fractals, quilts, origami, sculpture, painting, and more". The pages were actually quite nice. Request it by email here:  In the box that says "body", tell them you would like a free calendar of mathematical imagery, and then tell them your address. Mine arrived in one week!
  4. The HR Green Annual Calendar. From their website:  "Each year, HR Green creates a calendar that highlights our clients' projects across our business lines. Featuring projects around the United States, the 12 month calendar also includes major holidays, lunar cycles, and seasonal dates. A colorful and functional tool for any office, sign up to receive your copy today, FREE of charge. Simply select the 'receive FREE calendar' option below and include your contact information." I have never ordered this before, but, hey - - -it's free. If it's really ugly, you could use it to start a campfire, line the botton of your kitchen trash can with it so it doesn't get dirty OR toss it! The picture beside the request form is of some green grasses and the edge of a pond, though. It might be nice, so here's the link:
To get a beautiful Joyce Meyer ministries calendar or one of the others that is no longer available, be on the lookout around October or November before supplies are exhausted. Stay abreast of available freebies by reading one of the blogs I mentioned the other day:,, or I get no compensation (or even thanks) from mentioning these other blogs. I just want to share with everyone what resources are available to them just by taking a couple of minutes to ask for them. Like I said before, be creative and make use of what God gives you. It's fun! From our house to yours, have a fun, frugal and fabulous day!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Mail Call

Happy Saturday! Time for another Saturday Mail Call!

Well, it was a nice week here at the Begley house. Keith the Mailman was pretty good to us. He came through with a nice variety including, grocery, health & beauty and magazines! Here is a picture of all the treasures I received in my mailbox for this week:

Magazines: Bloomberg Business, Martha Stewart Living and Outdoor Life
Health and Beauty: Cepacol Hydra Lozenges 4 count package, two 2 ounce tubes of Suave Cocoa Butter & Shea lotion, one 6 ounce tube of Freeman Chocolate & Strawberry Clay Mask
Grocery: Seven coupons from for a free 12 pack of any Coke product and Two Wild Ophelia All Natural Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chip dark chocolate candy bars!

I shared my sources for finding free things a few posts ago. I hope that some of you have taken advantage of this. Concerning the magazines, most of these come from taking short surveys on They reward you with enough credit to pick free subscriptions of your choice. Martha Stewart Living is my favorite, but I have also ordered many others including ESPN the Magazine for my son and he liked it. The Cepacol Lozenges and Clay Mask came from A couple of months back, they were giving a $10 credit to anybody who registered with their site. The money could be applied toward shipping as well, so I finally used it to order the mask last week, which came to $9.98 shipped. When it arrived this week, the box also contained the Cepacol. The Suave lotion came from, so go there and sign up now! This is a site that will send you a box of two different products to try, and all you have to do is complete very, very short questionnaires about the products on the pinchme website. Of course, my free 12 pack coupons came from If you or someone you know drinks Coke products, it is definitely worth your time to sign up and enter codes. Now for the Smokehouse BBQ Candy bar....yes, this sounds delicious yet wrong......not something I would normally purchase. It is also from It is also listed on ( for $5.99 per bar!!! Now, I love chips with chocolate cake, so this may be right up my alley. 

Estimated values of the above:
  • Candy bars = $5.99 * 2 = $11.98
  • Chocolate & Strawberry Clay Mask = $3.99
  • Cepacol Lozenges = about $1.00
  • Suave Lotion = $1.00 * 2 = $2.00
  • Martha Stewart Magazine = $4.99
  • Outdoor Life Magazine = Current offer on is $10 / year, so one magazine = $0.83
  • Bloomberg Business Magazine = Current offer on is 26 issues for $15, so $0.58
  • Coca-Cola 12 Pack coupons = $3.50 (average) each * 7 = $24.50


I hope this encourages you to search out some free stuff of your own. Not only is it fun, but a huge budget helper!!! Have a fun, frugal and fabulous evening, from our house to yours.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Save Cash-ola on Birthdays: Make the Cake Yourself!

I had plans to have a leisurely evening. I had made enough chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, green beans and homemade biscuits last night that I didn't think I would have to visit the kitchen this evening other than to warm up some grub in the microwave. Wrong! Okay.......I DID make some sugar cookies when I got home from work (will share the yummy recipe in another post). Anyhow, the cookies were well underway and my son had already eaten the complete first dozen when my husband arrived home from work armed with a Kroger bag and a special request. He asked me to make a Tasmanian Devil cake for a friend. Hmmmm.....a challenge.

I must admit that it is past my bedtime, so I will be brief tonight! I just finished the Taz cake, and I am satisfied with the results. Of course, it is not TLC Cake Boss quality, but it will work. While I'm at it, I might as well go ahead and show you some of my other cakes too! I don't always take a picture of them, but I think I'm gonna start so that I have something to look at if I ever want to make the same cake twice.


"Dukes of Hazzard" Cake made for a friend. It was so hard to get the red that deep, but I finally achieved it by adding a 10 cent package of Kroger brand drink mix to the white icing. It colored it AND flavored it cherry, which complemented the chocolate cake.

Litterbox Cake made for the Halloween Yuck Fest at my son's school a couple of years ago. This pic is a little old, but I thought I'd included it anyway. It is just a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, covered in crushed cookies (the kind you get like 50 in a pack for a dollar, LOL) garnished with broken up large Tootsie Rolls and finished off with a brand new washed cat litter scoop. YUCK!

And HERE is the Taz Cake. He isn't perfect, but I think he turned out pretty cute. I free-handed the whole thing, first with a tube of black icing. Then, I filled in the rest, using a toothpick for a bunch of it to fill in the spaces. It was fun because, in a way, I felt like I was in first grade again finishing a coloring sheet and trying to stay in the lines. I finished it off by piping brown stars around the edges.

A UK Wildcat cake made for a friend. From this angle, it kinda looks crooked, but it didn't look that way in person...hmmm.  Basically just one store brand cake mix and a can of icing here. And, of course, a little bit of homemade white and blue icing I made with confectioner's sugar, margarine and a few drops of blue food coloring in some of the white icing.

All these cakes certain things in common: store brand cake mix that cost about $1.00 - $1.25 and store brand icing for around $1.00 - $1.50 a can (don't forget to save the can!!). I used a very simple plastic decorating bag with tips that I purchased at my local Mighty Dollar for $1.00, and the round containers you see were salvaged from certain death by trash can by my sister, Tammy at a workplace function she attended. I noticed the other day that Dollar Tree now sells food coloring. I was thrilled by that discovery!! 

So, why continue to give your hard earned cash to the deli for a cake that has been frozen, thawed, decorated from a five gallon bucket of icing, and set in a display case for days all for about $15 - $20 for a cake this size (which is considered to be a 1/4 sheet cake). You can save some green and make your own for about $5.00, more or less, AND get the chance to create edible art yourself!

Have a fun, frugal and fabulous evening, from our house to yours!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Throwing away that empty salsa jar? STOP AND READ FIRST!

Remember the December post about Redneck Travel Kits? Well, as I mentioned, I have an obsession with jars - - big, little, short, tall, and even plastic. I like 'em all. I die a little inside when I am at someone's house and see such useful articles discarded, tossed away in the garbage can like an old shoe. old shoe (an old L.L. Bean boot in particular) MIGHT make a cute container for a marigold on the porch in the summertime....but I digress! Back to the jars. I rounded up a few recycled jars that are just plain fun, frugal and fabulous. Indeed, I (and my sister) saw the potential for that which is typically trashed.

Here's a reminder of the results of a year's worth of jar-saving and freebie-requesting. I think it is a super great way to reuse and recycle an old jar:

BUT, that's not the only cool thing you can do with a jar. Check this out:

What a lineup......let's talk about 'em, left to right:

  1. The first jar with the cute grasshopper is actually not a glass jar, but a plastic jar that began life holding stinky (yet dee-lish) pickled bologna. My parents gave me some cool old books, some of which included a paperback song book. I decided it wouldn't be too awful to sacrifice just a few pages to decoupage onto a couple of jars, so decoupage I did! To finish the top a bit, I simply wrapped some off-white yarn around the jar and glued the ends.
  2. This short little jar was a glass salsa jar. I wanted another one to match the taller one, so this was perfect! Big brother and little brother. Or father and son.
  3. This little cutie was made by my sister and was given to me for Christmas. She scrubbed it up, cleaned off the gooey label and painted the lid a cool chalkboard black followed by my initial in white. Then she filled it with some yummy smelling potpourri. What an elegant yet simple project!
  4. Mr. Barilla pasta sauce jar is still humbly working full time behind the scenes in the food storage industry. However, in his retirement, he serves as a container for rice instead of pungent spaghetti sauce. This suits me and my kitchen cabinets perfectly. You see, Mr. Barilla is akin to a bad liar. You can see right through him and his other jar friends. This makes it oh so easy for me to keep tabs on my rice and dry goods inventory!
  5. If you read about how to make sweet tea the other day, then you've already seen the last suspect in the lineup. This was a little relish jar that was just the right size to sit perched on a candlestick from Dollar Tree. I am sorry to say, but I don't really remember what brand of adhesive I used to attach the top and bottom. BUT, hot glue does NOT work, FYI. Most adhesives will list on the back if they are appropriate for adhering glass, so just read up on it. Also FYI, there is a very similar looking drinking vessel (they called it a Redneck Wine Glass) on right now priced at $19.95 for a set of four. With tax, that's a little over 5 bucks for each glass. Now why would you do that when you can make a set of four with four free jars that you've saved, $4 worth of candlesticks and MAYBE a $3 - $4 tube of adhesive?!?
Well, whadda ya say? Are you inspired yet? Make your garbageman happier with less heavy trash bags and keep those jars! You've got craftin' to do. Have a fun, frugal and fabulous week, from our house to yours!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A thankful heart: It's not just for Thanksgiving anymore

I consider frugality as something that enriches my life and my family's life by helping to supply our household with the things it needs, as well as many of the things it wants. I have been blessed with the ability to be creative with the resources that I have and make meaningful things out of items others would literally consider to be trash. For that, I am THANKFUL to God. I have stated before that I feel like God helps lead me to the deals and freebies that I find, and I truly believe that! My various internet, clearance shelf and yard sale finds made such a big difference to me, my family and our budget over the past couple of years.

I would like to approach this fresh new year with a heart of thankfulness. I know as well as anybody that it is sometimes hard to have a thankful heart when you are in the throes of a difficult situation, but deliberately finding SOMETHING to be thankful for each day is necessary for your own happiness.

So, what are the things for which I am thankful? Here is a list in no particular order:

  • My church. The congregation of Bronston First Baptist in Bronston, Kentucky was warm and welcoming form the first time we ever stepped foot through the door. We officially joined the rolls last year (my husband and I by letter and my son by baptism - YAY!).
  • My salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ. Need I say more? Without this, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS ONE BIT! It amazes me that God would want to do a thing for somebody like me. I sure don't deserve it, but He loves me anyway. I know this because He sent His Son as a sacrificial lamb not only for me, but for you as well. It is a lot for my mind to even comprehend, quite honestly.
  • My family, both immediate and extended. Sure, every now and then they make me wanna yelp like a loon, but I love them very much. They support me in whatever it is I do, they have wiped my tears and shared my joys. I have also learned that not everybody is blessed to have others in their lives that care about them or even acknowledge that they exist. I must add that "family" includes Puppy and Leonard, my dogs! God sent these two "Good Guys" to me, as He knew I needed them.
  • A place to live. Not only do I have a place to live that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but I live in the kind of place that I always wanted to live: a ranch-style house in a subdivision that is convenient to town. Many people dream of mansions, fancy cars and tropical vacations, but I really don't care about those things. I am truly happy right where I am. As a matter of fact, I have felt guilt many times while driving past run-down old houses and trailers inhabited by people who simple are not able to do any better.
  • My job. Most everybody complains about their job. I complain about my job, too. But - truth is, my family wouldn't be where we are without it. Thank you Lord for giving me a good job!
  • Plenty of food to eat. We eat a lot of hot dogs, soup and hamburger helper-type meals, but we do NOT go without. No matter what has happened, God has always seen to it that there is food in our cabinets.
  • Being blessed to live in America. We have so many freedoms in this country that many cannot even imagine. Enjoy them - - including your freedom to be FUN, FRUGAL AND FABULOUS!
I challenge you to make a conscious effort each and every day to find ONE thing to be thankful for. Maybe thinking of that "thing" will diminish the severity of the trials of the day, if only a little bit. 

Here's wishing you a fun, frugal and fabulous week, from our house to yours!

Monday, January 6, 2014

How to Get Your Mailbox to Deliver Loads of FREEBIES

Good Monday everyone! I hope and pray that everybody is staying warm. As I write this post, it is all of 3 degrees outside. Wow.

Neal: "What do you think the temperature is?" Del: "One".
~~ Planes, Trains & Automobiles

The motto of the postal service says: "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds". My mailman certainly stayed true to his words this fine morning as he and his trusty little jeep slid through the treacherous streets of Oak Ridge subdivision. Indeed, quite a bounty I received in freebies today, BUT I will save the specifics for the next Saturday Mail Call this weekend!

So, can you get all sorts of goodies, gadgets and thingamabobs to the point to where it seems like Christmas year round? Sure. There are all kinds of websites and blogs devoted to all things free and cheap, but I mainly stick to four different ones. Any other sites mostly seem to duplicate each other. Some just seem "seedy" and "virusy" (is that a word?).

HOWEVER, here are the sites I trust, have great luck with and check into daily:

Free Stuff Times:
Free Stuff Finder:

Useful Tips: 

  • Stick to the most recent posts on these sites. Don't click on any of the archives on the sides of the post, as most of the offers there are expired and you will just end up annoyed! 
  • Create another email address specifically for freebie finding. Many offers require you to give them your email address, and you might not want to keep cleaning house in your regular inbox!
  • Most (if not all) the offers I have ever found on these sites have been legitimate. BUT - I do not personally give any financial information to any company for any reason. You never know.....
  • Check each of these sites DAILY. It only takes a few minutes on each site to check out the newest posts. If you don't check every day or two you might miss something fab!
Well, folks, there you have it! Happy hunting and have a fun, frugal and fabulous day from our house to yours!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Mail Call!


Good Saturday everybody! At the end of each week, I would like to share with you everything that I have received FREE in the mail for the week. Like I have said before, free stuff in my mailbox soften's the blow of the bills that usually lurk inside. So........what have I received this week? It may have been a tiny bit of a light week due to the holiday, but just take a look at all the loot below:

Yep, my mailbox yielded a nice crop this week. (Thanks, Keith the Mailman). Here's what I got:
4 Wheel & Off-Road Magazine, a pack of Bicycle Steam Punk playing cards (in from of the 4 wheel mag), 2014 Betty Crocker calendar with tear out recipe cards, Six coupons from My Coke Rewards for a FREE 12 pack of a Coca-Cola product, Forbes magazine and Two Scholastic books. 

FYI - - my mailman was sooooo generous last year that I left him a Christmas card with a Lindt gourmet chocolate bar (gotten free at Walgreen's with coupons, of course) in my mailbox. Now how, you might ask, can you start reaping such a postal harvest? Well, I PROMISE my next post will be on my sources. I don't mind to share because I believe God leads me to all these deals. You know, I rarely keep any of my freebies anyway. I usually share them with others, and many of them are nice enough to give as gifts - - particularly when paired with items I have purchased at a really good price. I have actually made a Gift Closet in the spare bedroom in my home to house the fruits of my efforts. It sure was nice to be able to do the bulk of my shopping from my own gift closet this past December instead of braving the stores.

So - - you can expect a post on freebie sources AND how to make a gift closet in the near future! Have a fun, frugal and fabulous day, from our house to yours.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Who said there is no such thing as free lunch??

With the start of the New Year, many are thinking more about resolutions, and those resolutions often involve MONEY.   Resolving to do better with finances for many means less eating out. Never fear, help is on the way! There are still some ways to satisfy that thirst or hunger fix when you are out and about. Did you know there are many restaurants that will GIVE you food just for signing up to get their emails? Remember, you can always unsubscribe at any time. I honestly can't count the number of things I have eaten for free this past year, but somehow, things TASTE BETTER when you don't have to shell out hard earned cashola for it *wink*. Some of the offers that I took advantage of last year, such as a free Frisch's Big Boy and a free Fish Meal from Captain D's are expired, sadly. BUT..........

Here is the list of places that I have personally found to still be offering deals. It is certainly not an all-inclusive list, as I have really only included the places that are available to me locally in Somerset, Kentucky. If you plan on doing any travelling and want to save money on meals, it is worth doing a simple google search for restaurants in that area that may offer free food with email signups.

1.  Penn Station:  "Sign up Today for a Free Sub"

Go to On the right side of the screen, there is a drop down menu where you can select a location. Penn Station restaurants appear to only be located in KY, IN, VA, WV, TN, MI, MO, SC and OH. Once you have selected a city, fill in the information requested. Within minutes, a printable coupon for a free sub will arrive in your inbox. Here's the good part: if your family members also have email, they, too, can sign up to receive a toasty and delicious sub! It is one per person. So - - as long as each person has their own separate coupon when they order, everyone can eat for free! This may be TOO frugal for some of you, but if you want to dine in TOTALLY free, you can always order ice water. I prefer it most of the time anyway....

2.  Fazoli's:  Join the Fazoli's eFamily for FREE spaghetti!

Simply go to to sign up for their email club. Not only will you receive a printable coupon for a FREE spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce AND breadsticks (two if you carry out, but UNLIMITED if you dine in ), but you will also receive a free printable dessert coupon on your birthday plus other coupons and promotional info throughout the year. like the Penn Station offer, family members may sign up as well. Again, dine in, order ice water and enjoy as many breadsticks you want with your meal. And, for the record, no dirty looks from Fazoli's staff!  They were all very nice and helpful.

3.  Dunkin' Donuts: FREE medium beverages

When you visit, you will see a tab at the top right hand corner that says My Dunkin'. Sign up to become a member and you will receive not one, but TWO medium drinks of your choice! They are sent via postal mail with the first arriving a couple of weeks after requested, and the second one arriving near your birthday. Don't like coffee? No problem. Dunkin Donuts has sweet tea, hot chocolate, and a variety of Coolattas such as the very yummy Berry Blast. And they even pile on the whipped cream if you want!

4. Firehouse Subs: Birthday FREE sub

When your birthday does roll around, you can throw back that free Dunkin Donuts Coolatta with a tasty Firehouse Sub. From their website: "Just show an I.D. with your birth date on your birthday and you'll get a FREE medium celebratory sub". Nothing to print, so this one is the easiest of all. Well, okay! Will do!

5. Kroger Free Friday Downloads

Okay, so this isn't restaurant food or drink, but it is FREE, nonetheless. Maybe you are tired of running the roads and just wanna eat your lunch at home. If you shop at Kroger and have a Kroger Plus card (it's free, so why not?), one of the perks is the Free Friday Download. Each Friday there is a new coupon for a free item that you can download THAT DAY ONLY, no other purchase required. Today, it happens to be a free Jeno's Pizza. Other Fridays may offer non-food items such as shampoo. Simply go to to sign up to link your card to the account. There are many other advantages of signing up besides the Free Friday Download - - tons of coupons to load directly to the card instead of searching and clipping, easily keep track of fuel points and view the sales circular.

Alrighty, that's it for now.  I will certainly keep you posted if something new comes about, and you can let ME know in the comment section below if you know of other tasty deals. Happy munching!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sweet tea, anybody?

You know, you just can't beat a good cold glass of sweet tea. This is probably not news at all to any of you, but up until recently, I didn't really realize I could make my own at home easily.  Other than with those powdered "kool-aid"-style drink mixes, anyway - - and I don't like those. They taste nothing like actual tea. Anyhow, I had been buying sweet tea by the gallon at Kroger and never paying more than about $1.50 a gallon.  Cheap enough, right? For most people, yes. But I am one of those people who enjoys the PROCESS of making things as well as enjoying the end result of the fruits of my labor. So one day my husband bought a box of teas bags at the store. I reluctantly followed the directions on the package, added some sweetnin' was surprisingly good! This began my love of making my own tea, and I would like to share my process with you. I learned some tricks that made it easier when making more than just a cup - like making a whole GALLON jug.

I have told you I like to save anything that might be of use to me later on. A well rinsed and cleaned plastic milk jug fits the bill perfectly as a vessel for homemade sweet tea. I mean, that's what they sell it in anyway at the store! Starting with a clean plastic gallon jug, fill it with water. Pour the water into a four quart pot and turn the heat on high until it starts to boil. Here's one trick I learned that made life easier if you use tagless bags: set a metal colander right into the water to hold the tea bags. Once it's time to take them out, all you have to do is lift out the colander and toss the bags into the trash.  Also, if any of the little tea leaves try to escape, the colander sorta helps to hold them in place instead of having yucky floating stuff all in your tea.

Okay, back to the boiling water..... Once it comes to a boil, I just turn off the stove and place 14 tea bags in. Now the kind I get comes as a tagless double package, so I actually only put in 7 double bags. Let that sit (or is the word "steep"? I dunno.....) for about 15 minutes.

While your tea is sitting - or steeping or sleeping or whatever you wanna call it, you can go ahead and add your sugar to the empty gallon jug. I love to use old aluminum kitchen tools, so I use my little metal funnel and measuring cup to make the process easier. You know what a grainy sticky mess sugar can be if it is spilled! I add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar, depending on what I have available.

Remove the colander full of tea bags and allow the tea to cool for probably 30 minutes before you try to transfer it to the jug. The easiest way I have found to transfer the tasty, newly brewed tea is with a glass measuring cup with a spout.

Now, time to clean up your mess while you wait for the tea to cool a little more! After you've cleaned it all up, here's your reward:

I mentioned the cost of a store bought gallon of tea earlier, so what does my tea cost? Here's a rough breakdown:

The tea in the photo is from Dollar General.  I am NOT brand loyal to anything unless something just tastes bad. I am all about value. This box of 100 Smart & Simple tagless teabags cost about $1.25. like I said, I use 14 bags (7 double bags) per gallon. That works out to roughly 7 gallons at a cost of about 18 cents each. Now for the sugar. I usually get a 4 pound bag of Kroger Value brand sugar for around $2.15 on sale. There are about 9 cups of sugar in a 4 pound bag, so that puts each cup at about 24 cents per cup. Since I add 1 1/2 to 2 cups, it costs 48 cents at the most to sweeten my gallon of tea. Cost of container is FREE, of course. 

SO - - the total cost of a gallon of refreshing, homemade sweet tea is a whopping 66 cents! 

Hmm, that DOES beat $1.50 - - by 84 cents, actually. It saved me enough to buy a nice candy bar to enjoy with my sweet tea..........or a pack of gum..........or a small bag of chips.

Have a wonderful and blessed day from our house to yours!