Search VTCouponer: Search Google:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Well, after a Holiday Hiatus, I'm back!  :)  Actually I'm kicking myself in the behind because I did some baking, sewing and knitting projects for the holidays and took NO pictures of any of them.  Ugh.  LOL  I baked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and apple crisp cake.  I sewed a couple reusable shopping bags in a really cute holly print for Christmas bags for family.  I also knit a really cool purple purse and coin purse that came out really nice considering I was winging it!  hehe  I liked the knit stuff so much that I'm now in the process of knitting myself one!  A little bigger this time, more like a hobo bag than a purse, but still the same design and color.  I love this purple yarn, it's like a deep plum color, really pretty.  I'll probably be doing all these projects again, so I'll have pics soon, just not today.  :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frugal (and warm) Home Craft - DIY "Insulated" Curtains

So we live in a drafty old house.  The windows have storms, but you can still feel the cold just radiating off them.  We have blinds, but you can still feel the cold.  It was time to get crafty!  With a couple old twin bedspreads, 15 minutes of sewing, and fixing one curtain rod, voila!  "Insulated" curtains that are pretty festive too!  LOL  I happened to have these bedspreads hanging around, but you could grab something at the thrift store, or use some heavier cheap fabric.  I actually used felt by the yard to do the same thing in an old house, but used them as liners with regular fabric curtains over them.

Please excuse the horrible, hideous chair that hubby refuses to get rid of... it's "comfortable", according to him.  *sigh*  We have two double windows like this on either side of our living/dining room and I did them both.  I can already feel the temperature difference in the house!  I'm not sitting here shivering!  LOL  I'm going to be digging through old fabric and stashed-away stuff tomorrow and see what else I can come up with for the other windows!  :)  Just a reminder that you don't have to buy expensive curtains to stay warm and save on heating expenses!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Frugal Gifts - Home Made Truffles

Almost everyone loves homemade truffles, we made them a few years ago, and they were a big hit. I had no idea how easy to make they were, and we covered them with different kinds of crushed nuts and such. It was really fun! We then went and bought blank little white boxes and I decorated them with just some wrapping paper (glued) and ribbon. I think all together, we made about 15 boxes of truffles (9 truffles each box) for under $30. And we used good chocolate to boot!” Upside? Yum! Downside? They should be made only a short time before giving, and eaten soon after. If you’ve never made truffles before, try this recipe from the master of food science, Alton Brown.
Chocolate Truffles recipe:


10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine 

Reusable Grocery Bag Patterns - Frugal AND Environmentally Friendly!

I originally posted this over a year and a half ago on my couponing and deals site, VTCouponer, but it seemed to fit here too!  :)  These are all great ideas for not only cheap or free reusable bags, but also saving the environment and repurposing items you have around the house anyway.  Perfect from all perspectives!  Here's the massive list of both shopping and produce bag patterns I've found in my travels:

Reusable Grocery Bags You Can Make - Free Patterns:

T-Shirt Grocery Bag - Turning an old T-shirt into a reusable shopping or grocery bag is a simple, clever craft to help everyone be “green.” It’s a Good Thing that will help protect the environment. - Offers a downloadable pattern in pdf or word doc format (also an animated web tutorial). Simple tote style, easy to make.

Cheap & Easy Fabric Produce Bags - A great alternative to the clear plastic bags available in the fruits & veggies aisles, these are made from repurposed sheer curtains (watch for them at garage sales), drawstring closure. Wash & reuse, lovely!

Gifts don't have to be expensive, just imaginative!

Yeah, I remember the days of lavish Holidays and ordering fancy gift baskets and mailing them all over the country.  Well, those days are gone, so now it's time to think frugal and think creative.  Here's a quick list of things I have done over the years:

- Herb-infused vinegars or oils - Pick up some funky bottles at your local thrift shop, stuff them with herbs, garlic or even hot peppers, fill with vinegar or oil, tie a bow around the neck of the bottle and let sit.  Flavorful infused vinegars and oils that make a great gift.

- Dried or silk flower wreath - You can usually get grape vine wreaths pretty cheap at craft stores, and watch clearances and sales on dried and silk flowers then craft a gorgeous wreath custom-made for the receiver.

- Baking - My old standby.  I love to bake and try different treats.  I pick different recipes every occasion and make assorted platters and boxes for family and friends.  We also get to try all the tester batches every year, yummy!  hehe

- Gift baskets - I put a few of these together every year and keep them around "just in case".  I go through my collections of free samples and things I got free couponing and make coffee mug gifts with coffee, chocolate and/or biscotti and maybe a nice napkin or something.  Or a movie basket with a DVD, microwave popcorn and some candies.  Handy to have for those last minute gifts.

- Hats/scarves/mittens/slippers/blankets - All things knit or crochet!  Scarves and blankets are my usual gift projects, but I have done a myriad of other knit projects that are so appreciated by the recipient.

- The gift of Labor! - Offer to watch the kids for a few hours for a friend, gift your sister with a house-cleaning, deliver a pre-made dinner to the elderly couple down the street, give your brother a full carwash and detailing on his prized 67 Mustang, you get the idea.

That's just a few of the million and one ideas I've stashed away over the years.  Stay tuned for details on the above, and many more great projects!

Free Crafts Newsletter and Patterns!

Sign up for the FaveCrafts free e-newsletter and get all kinds of free patterns, craft ideas, tons of great stuff!  Click the pic below to sign up!

It's a great resource for inspiration for your next craft project!  :)

Super Simple Knit Scarf - for yourself or as a gift!

Ok, it can't get any easier than this.  Cast on 40 stitches, straight knit to desired length.  Cast off, tie off.  Done.  Poof!  Instant warm and snuggly scarf for you or for a quick and easy gift.  I can crank off one of these in a couple evenings while watching TV, if I really try.  Otherwise it's a great thing to grab and do when I need something to do with my hands.  LOL  The trick is to find a funky yarn that will give the straight knit a cool look.  I found this yarn on clearance and grabbed a whole bunch, but it ends up looking really cool:

I just love the pattern it ended up making.  The colors are much brighter in person.  I did one of these for a good friend with that chenille yarn that she chose, and it came out amazing!  I wish I had taken a picture of that one!  This could also be done for afghan squares and hand-stitched together for a quick and easy lap blanket or baby blanket.  I'm thinking of trying a shorter one and reducing the stitches at the end to a point and hand-stitching it into a little purse.  I saw that somewhere recently and thought it was really cute and a simple project.  I'll add it to the "give it a try" list!  hehe  :)