Frugal decorating for the holidays: Using items found in nature

nature decor

 

One of the most frugal and beautiful ways to decorate your home during Thanksgiving and Christmas time is by using items found in nature.

It makes sense, as they were created by the ultimate Designer.  The results can be simple elegance or elaborately detailed creations.

table decor

 

Where you live will likely play a major roll in the types of items you have access to. Keep your eyes open throughout the year for things that can be transformed into table decoration, accents for the mantel or shelves and even for the Christmas tree. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or to look for things while away on vacation.

nature decor

 

If sea shells are to your liking, they make a whimsical fun design. Adding white or silver paint to shells, pine cones, or acorns can transform them. Glitter can be added and ribbons for hanging or to accent.  Shells, acorns, and pine cones are beautiful in their natural state or painted.

Try adding real fruit to a platter and round up other items such as this hurricane lamp to fill up, or candle sticks for a pop of color.

The idea is to use what you have on hand, dress it up, pair it with something new,  and be creative!

 

Don’t miss the Molly BOGO Christmas Bundle – see it HERE

 

frugal friday

We’d love to see your homemade gift and other frugal ideas! Grab the button above or from the sidebar and link your post up below. Be sure to visit others to see their lovely projects. We’ll be Pinning and sharing your links!

After entering your link by clicking below, come back to click on the link again and you can click on any of the pictures to visit their blogs:

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday Sneak Peek: news & specials from Molly this week!

giveaway special bogo

 

We’re getting a jump-start with a sneak peek at the week ahead and a giveaway that expires late Monday night!

A Giveaway

If a subscription to the Molly Green Magazine has been on your wish list – this could be your lucky day! We are giving away a subscription in support of the A+ Interactive Math  “Thankful 4 You” Facebook party.

There is one more day to enter as the giveaway will close at 12 a.m. on November 19. The entry is simple – use one entry or use them all!

There are lots of good companies involved in the giveaway – so be sure to check them out. You will find a list here on the A+ blog page. Some of the giveaways end earlier than others.

You will find these open through Monday night: 

Enter the giveaway for the Molly Green subscription with the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A Special: 

Right now, you can get a risk free (no contract – cancel any time) subscription to the all New Molly Green Magazine for only $1 the first month and $3.85 thereafter!  Sign up here

Your membership includes – back issues of Molly Green, free ebooks, exciting new issues on saving money, homesteading and all things home industry, as well as exclusive access to the Dine on a Dime menu and recipe planning from our friends and partners at  Build a Menu!   

Members automatically become affiliates and can in turn, earn a profit on future sales. We are working to launch a brand new affiliate program by January with the New Molly Green.

Speaking of profits, your membership will also include access to a free platform where you can list and sell your handmade/homemade items. Share how-to videos and build a network of contacts who are like minded and love good home style!

A Freebie:

christmas bundle

We are running a Buy One Get One FREE sale on our Molly Christmas Bundle!

Get these issues, packed full of wonderful Christmas recipes. Get information on decorating, organizing,  and managing a genuine home spun Christmas celebration (with less stress) for only $4.95 – That’s 2 for the price of only 1 –  Get it HERE! 

Of course, Molly members have access to all of the back issues already. See above 411 on our current special.

 

Later this week on the blog:  We’ll have a guest feature with an awesome craft the kids will love, a delicious recipe that will save time and money, a how-to lesson on starting vegetable seeds indoors, and our Frugal Friday link up with a special Christmas craft you can use for decorating or as a special gift.

 

Thank you for visiting – leave me a message or a link if you have handmade Christmas crafts, gifts, or recipes you’d like to see featured here with Molly Green!

Frugal Friday Link Up Party:

 

 

homemade Christmas

 

A frugal Homemade Christmas  doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. We are running a special on the Molly Green Christmas Bundle here.

We’ve been rounding up frugal handmade gift ideas from around the blogosphere and I think we’ve come up with a little something for everyone on your list.

Check out these cool ideas from Pinterest

handmade homemade giftsupcycled crafts Thanksgiving

 

Links are below - 

Frugal Homemade Gifts

#1 Homemade Christmas 

#2 Homemade Gift Ideas 

#3 Upcycled Projects 

#4 Thanksgiving & Holiday Food 

 

Visit the A+ Interactive Math Facebook page here - tonight November 15, 8 p.m. ET to win a subscription to the all new Molly Green Magazine!

frugal friday

We’d love to see your homemade gift and other frugal ideas! Grab the button above or from the sidebar and link your post up below. Be sure to visit others to see their lovely projects. We’ll be Pinning and sharing your links!

After entering your link by clicking below, come back to click on the link again and you can click on any of the pictures to visit their blogs:

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Boxing Day

Over in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong,Australia and many countries throughout the world, today is known as Boxing Day. This is their day to give gifts. While some of our International readers are opening up their boxes, we here in the States are preparing to close ours back up for another year. I’m referring to holiday decor, are you boxing yours up already or do you wait for the New Year?

Out with the Old

I like to try and be practical, keep things simple and minimal. I like to began by getting rid of any old Christmas ornaments or decorations I no longer plan on using.

As a family, we have a tradition of decorating our home the weekend after Thanksgiving. I find this to be a perfect time to sort through all of the decorations as I unpack them. I list our old ornaments and decorations on the local Freecycle board.

It’s a joy to be able to give things I may not need to someone else. I’ve found the experience can sometimes be priceless as I bless someone with a box of ornaments or even an artificial tree that I may not be able to use anymore!

Let me encourage you, as you begin taking down your decor, to sort through the ornaments and decorations you may not use next year. Put any decorations you don’t plan to use in a box and label it FREECYCLE. You may put an extra special smile on someone’s face next year.

Organize the New

Now, let’s turn our attention to the decorations you do plan to use next year (and for consecutive years). The easiest way I’ve found to organize my Christmas decor is with plastic storage containers.  If you have multiple rooms you plan on decorating next year, why not set aside a storage container for each area? As you go from room to room, you might label the containers so next year you know where everything is to go.

CAUTION: FRAGILE!

You’ll want to take special care of those fragile items that mean so much. You might recycle old worn-out towels to wrap fragile decorations in before placing them in boxes. You could also use newspapers or plastic grocery bags to carefully store them away.

Outdoor Decorations

When taking down outdoor lights, take them apart strand by strand and plug end into end so that next year you can test one strand at a time before stringing them all together. This will also save you time next year, because you won’t be untangling a large mess of wires and lights!

Do you have large outdoor decorations or wreaths? You could cover large decorations in tarps or plastic wrap before storing them in the attic or shed. Wreaths take a little more care. You can buy wreath bags in stores, but if you have a few of those plastic zipper bags (that quilts, duvets, and comforters come in) that would work too.

Preparing for next year

Did you know most stores mark Christmas items off by 50% the day after Christmas? If you feel like you could brave the stores again, you could stock up on next year’s lights, a new artificial Christmas tree ( if needed), decorations or gift wrap.

How do you like to pack away all of your holiday decor?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Unopened Christmas Presents

Guest Blog by: Midge

My hair is pulled back in a bandana, my cheeks have become red from exertion while furiously dusting my TV cabinet and the clock has just struck 3 a.m.  It seems as if every minute, before my family arrives at our home for a visit, is a countdown to do a final “clean sweep”.  But, this cleaning is not about my family staying at my house.  I also do the same extreme cleaning right before I leave on vacation. Odd, right?

It is one thing to pack our belongings for the holidays and to ensure we have clean clothes. Yet, it is quite another thing to rush around the house vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms when we will not be home for a week. My husband knows when to go to bed and let me fuss through the night on the household chores… in fact, I can hear him snoring right now.

When I took my diet soda break earlier, I found myself looking at all of our unopened presents under the tree. My thoughts turned somber when I thought of my “Grampa” who passed away a couple of months ago and to the teachers and small children in Newtown, Connecticut whose lives were stolen this past week. All of those unopened presents suddenly represented the hopes, dreams, and fond memories of those who may no longer be with us.

This year has been tough in so many ways and yet the vision of the presents under the tree began to also provide me with a renewed feeling of hope. To know you are loved, not just by your friends and families, but by the Creator of life who holds us even now in the palm of His hand is tremendous. His gift, through the sacrifice of His only Son, encompasses us with true Christmas love.

God’s love is a love that can hold us even in the depths of sorrow as we mourn those who are no longer with us this Christmas season.

The Chorus for “Your Hands” – by JJ Heller

“When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still”

You can play this song at:  http://www.jjheller.com/store/view/painted-red

Click on song number 11.

So, while we clean, pack, wrap, and bake, we can also pray for those who hearts are broken this holiday season that they will know the One who will hold them in the midst of sorrow.

What’s on your heart during the final days before Christmas?  Do you speed clean your home before leaving on vacation too?

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Loving Legos

A few weeks ago, my family and I took a day trip to Lego Land. The admission price was not very cheap but because it was my son’s birthday we indulged. We were able to find a few coupons so that helped us with the price of admission. I am amazed at what can be created with Legos! They can be found in almost every retail chain store in America, but there’s no need to purchase them there. You can look at second hand stores and garage sales for a used collection.

At one point I saw a complete set of 458+ pieces for less than $5 at a second hand store! You can also ask around on your local Freecycle group or check prices on Ebay. Many times, simply asking around for old toys produces more options than you can imagine.

Legos Last

Legos can provide hours of fun, family entertainment for people of all ages. Picture Grandpa, Dad, and the children all working on various projects on the living room floor. That’s the power of Legos. It’s a toy that crosses generational boundaries and encourages creativity in all ages.

Legos make great stocking stuffers too. Check your local dollar store. I’ve found Lego keychains, watches, pens and ornaments, as well as little bags of generic building blocks for around $2 each.

Legos aren’t the only option out there, K’NEX are similar and have several sets available under $10 each. For a little more money, $10 to $20, Mega Bloks and Lego DUPLO can be purchased for children 18 months to 5 years old. Most of the traditional Lego sets are geared for children 7 to 12 years old. Legos and building/construction toys may be played with for years to come, buying them may be a wise investment for your family. I also love the fact that we can easily travel with a bucket of Legos with no batteries required!

Wooden block play-sets can be found for around $10 each. Guidecraft sells construction pieces similar to the old Tinker Toy sets, they offer several creative building options for under $20 each.  The traditional Lincoln logs and Tinker Toys can still be found for under $20 a set (Tinker Toys sets can also be found under the names TRIO and Superstruct).

What great toy finds have you come across this year and where did you find them?

 

Recipes for Christmas Day Brunch

The first part of Christmas morning is usually all about the children. You can enjoy an easy and delicious brunch after the excitement wears down, relax with family and friends, and eat hearty with this breakfast casserole.

Give these easy brunch and breakfast recipes a try for a quick but delicious holiday brunch meal.

Breakfast Casseroles

Don’t spend hours in the kitchen on Christmas day, make it easy. Set out a loaf of pumpkin bread and cream cheese, a pot of hot coffee, hot chocolate, and a few breakfast casseroles. The casseroles can be prepared the night before and placed in the oven the next morning.

Quiche Casserole

Ingredients :

  • 2 1/2 cups seasoned croutons
  • 1 pound pork sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach – thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

Directions :

  1. Spread croutons on bottom of greased 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. Spread cooked sausage over croutons.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended. Stir in soup, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese.Pour egg mixture over sausage and croutons. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next morning, preheat oven to 325°F.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until set and lightly browned on top.

Easy French Toast

Ingredients :

  • 1 large loaf French bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5 pats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Maple syrup

Directions :

  1. Grease  a 13″x9″ baking dish well.
  2. Cut bread into 18 (1″) slices and arrange slices in one layer in the bottom of the dish.
  3. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. When thoroughly mixed, pour over bread in the pan. Bread will float to top of liquid.
  4. Cut each pat of butter into 4 pieces. Dot each piece of bread with the butter and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next morning, place the dish uncovered in a cold oven. Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 325°F or until bread is puffy and light brown. Remove from oven and allow to set 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with butter and maple syrup, berries (optional).

What will be on your table Christmas morning? We’re always looking for new and unique recipes, what special family recipe(s) have been passed down to you?

Do you celebrate a multi-cultural, international Christmas?  I’d love to hear about what’s on your table!

Merry Christmas, Molly

Enhanced by Zemanta

Midge’s Love of All Things “Mini”

Guest Blog by: Midge

I have always wanted to collect teapots.  I started my collection with one teapot and cup that was mistakenly shattered during a massive “clean before my guests arrive” kind of moment last summer.  Now, with having an active toddler who would love to play with all of my knick-knacks, I have had to put that dream on hold.

When I was a little girl, I had a collection of stuffed animals and dolls.  This collection morphed into a love of comic books featuring a funny cat and all of his friends, which in turn led into a collection of all things related to baby harp seals.  As I grew older, I desired to develop a different kind of collection, which could one day be passed on to my children and grandchildren.

 

My nieces and nephews discovered recently (during our pomegranate escapade!) that I have already started my own collection of “mini-ware” in the kitchen.  I have an extreme love of all things miniature.  It started with a small glass bowl with a lid.  While admiring it at a booth at our local fair, I knew I had absolutely no use for a bowl as big as my thumb but… it was so cute!

That is how most mini things end up going home with me.  I have a mini art easel and canvas, a mini strainer for my small berries or pomegranate seeds, a mini ladle in case I want just a little bit of soup, and a mini coquette which I use as a butter dish.  I suppose my love of all things mini has become a collection of sorts.

Maybe the next item I buy will be a mini tea pot!   I can keep both collections going… (just stored on a very high shelf!).

 

Do you have any collections in your home?  Are you hoping to add to this collection on Christmas?

 

By the way, Molly shared a cool site on her facebook page about making your own gingerbread playdough.  This past week, I made some to give away to the kids in my daughter’s play group.  I packaged them in “mini” boxes!!  Here is the link: GINGERBREAD PLAY DOUGH LINK

Enhanced by Zemanta

Learning to Save Money on Almost Everything, Especially at Christmas Time!

Financially, times are tough. Everywhere you look, stores are closing, prices are rising, and great deals are getting harder and harder to find.

We here at Econobusters understand everyone needs a helping hand. That’s one of our main principles, everyone working together to bust through these hard economic times!

Easy Ways to Save Money

Search the weekly ads and use coupons. Most grocery ads come out every Wednesday and retail ads come out on Sundays. The age of the giant Sunday newspaper full of ads and coupons has almost passed us by. Now days, you might find good deals in the Sunday paper, but your best bet is to hit the web. One of the best ad websites for supermarkets and retail chains is SundaySaver.com. They post links to almost all of the national chain stores.

Have you read The Coupon Craze: Chaos or Common Cents issue of Molly Green Magazine? Check it out!

Major Coupon Networks and Companies

Most coupon lovers are familiar with the  inserts found in the Sunday newspaper. The three main companies that provide these coupons are Smart Source, Red Plum, and Proctor & Gamble. All three companies also provide coupons online. Providing printable coupons on the Internet makes collecting and sharing coupons with others very simple. In fact, one website, Coupons.com, usually hosts them all in one place.

Make Shopping a Game

Create a monthly challenge. Each month, make it a goal to save more than the month before. Find ways to collect more coupons, stack more deals, and earn more rebates. Over time, shoppers learn pricing and predict when items will go on sale. Look for deals all year long: garage sales, thrift stores, second hand stores, Goodwill, and Salvation Army.

Don’t Forget FREE and FREEBIES

You might begin by signing up for your local Freecycle group. Anytime you need something for yourself, the home, or the kids, ask your Freecycle group first. This is an easy way to receive TVs, electronics, small appliances, clothes, toys, and books. You can also list things you no longer need on this group!

Speaking of books, we all know about Amazon, but occasionally, you can find what you want for free on Paperback Swap. You post the books you no longer want. Other people request those books from you. You mail a book to that person, (at your cost), and then you get to pick a book to be mailed to you! If the book you are looking for isn’t listed, check Deal Oz. This website does the book searching for you and finds the best deals on the web for books, CDs and DVDs.

Lastly, you might be interested in these points incentive programs: MyPoints, Swagbucks, and Amazon. You can earn points toward free gift cards simply by reading MyPoints daily emails, (no purchase required). If you use Swagbucks as your search engine, you also can earn points toward free gift cards, but it’s not as easy as MyPoints. Amazon has started a new incentive program where you agree to review products. If you are chosen. They send you the products free of charge to keep!!! It’s called the Amazon Vine. Check it out!

What great deals have you found that save money, especially during the holidays?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Kids in the Kitchen – Easy Cookie Recipes and Activities

0saves

Christmas break is coming! Entertain your kids with these simple holiday cookie recipes. Roll, cut, bake and decorate- that’s the name of the game!

Make snow days and Christmas break fun for everyone! Keep kids occupied with cookie making for a holiday cookie exchange with family and friends. Children can enjoy every part of the process!

Sugar Cookies

A basic sugar cookie recipe is a holiday baking essential. This one sugar cookie dough recipe can be shaped, rolled, molded, or cut into several different holiday treats. With a little creativity and a pantry full of food coloring, flavorings, baking chips, and candy pieces, the options are endless.

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for shaping the cookies
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). Shape into a disk and (unless otherwise specified in an individual recipe) refrigerate, wrapped, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  5. Make cookies. Use whatever method desired: cut-outs, rolled, dropped, bar, etc. Bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes per pan of cookies.
  6. Store cookies in an airtight contain for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Ginger Bread

I love gingerbread. There’s so much you can do with it depending on the recipe. Make gingerbread men, cakes, breads, cream-filled sandwich cookies, breakfast muffins, gingerbread houses, etc. Be creative!

** If you don’t have much time and don’t want to make your own cookie dough mix, not only can you buy refrigerated sugar cookie dough in your local market, but now they have gingerbread too. See if you can find a coupon and check for it the next time you go shopping!**

Ingredients:

    • 1 (6 ounce) packages butterscotch pudding mix
    • 3/4 cup butter
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1 egg
    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Cream pudding and pie filling mix with butter and sugar; add egg, and blend well.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; blend into pudding mixture.
  3. Chill dough for 1 hour or until firm.
  4. Roll dough on a floured board to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutter.
  5. Place on greased baking sheets; use a straw to make a hole in the top of the cookie for hanging on the tree, if desired.
  6. Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
  8. Decorate if desired.

Christmas Baking With The Kids

Holiday cooking and baking does take a little advanced planning and Christmas baking with the kids can have its own set of challenges. Plan recipes that are simple, easy and can be enjoyed quickly. Look for kid-friendly holiday cookie recipes with basic ingredients and directions. Let children help in every possible way. Give each child a job and when it comes time to decorate, give each child a plate of cookies to make their own.

Food Allergies and Sugar-Free Options

When baking especially during the holidays, it is good to be aware of any food allergies or dietary restrictions children might have. Nut allergies are fairly common so choosing a cookie recipe with allergy-friendly ingredients is a must. Do a little research when it comes to sugar-free recipes. You want a tasty turnout and one that is not too expensive to make. Gluten- free also falls into this category. A little research before baking day can go a long way!

Kids in the Kitchen

Allowing children to help make Christmas cookies, holiday gifts and treats is a great way to keep them occupied and happy during the winter break. It can take a little more planning but it’s a great way to build lasting holiday memories year after year.

It’s your turn! What is your favorite cookie recipe and how do you get the kids involved?

Enhanced by Zemanta