Monday, September 7, 2015

DIY Halloween Yard Witch

I found this project on Martha Stewart's webpage a few years ago. It was a little time consuming, but the results were worth it! :)

I started with a trip to Home Depot for supplies:

1 panel of plywood ( I used 1/2 inch because I didn't want it to be really heavy it was $11.00 a sheet)
Pipe clamps (same size as the PVC pipe, 1/2 inch)
PVC pipe (big enough to fit your re-bar snug(1/2 inch))
Re-bar (4, 2 foot pieces and 2, 4 foot pieces. I used thicker pieces for the witch)
6 cans of black high gloss spray paint OR High Gloss outdoor latex paint and equipment needed
1 box of 1/2 inch screws
My total was around $25.

I could not get the overhead projector like I had planned, so I printed the template out on the back of some scrap paper I had. The template was easy to layout in grid form. I attached them with a little adhesive glue spray. **I learned after doing the witch, it's easier to tape them together with scotch tape AND use a generous amount of adhesive spray. When the jigsaw gets turned on there is an exhaust that blows the papers around.**

I then took my jigsaw and started cutting out my witch.

I've taken a few close up photos of how to cut the tricky angles. You have to cut into the angles like you would cut a slice of pie. (think triangle) Cut along one side then start on the outside again and cut along the other side. You can't make a sharp turn with a jigsaw blade, if you try you will bend or break your blade.

**Also take note of when the piece you are cutting is too heavy and pulling on your project. Example is when you cut the Witch's dress. I started at the bottom and by the time I hit her waist that scrap I was cutting off was going to be really heavy and might break where I didn't want it to. So I thought ahead and made a cut from the outside toward the waist. So when I got to that point it was already a clean cut with no breaking. (Think of scoring a paper before trying to tear it)

I got the 2 arched cats and 1 witch out of my one sheet. I think I could have fit the sitting cat, but I didn't like it as much as the other 2. **I also drew a lantern and cut it out. The Martha Stewart display has a real decorative lantern, but I was too cheap. :)In order to "cut out" the middle of the lantern, you have to start with a large
drill bit. Drill a hole and then insert the jigsaw blade and start cutting. At first
it's a lot of "chunks" because there isn't much room to move around, then you
can start cutting out the larger spaces.

I used some multi-surface sealant I had to seal the wood before I painted it. I did this because I wanted to use them for the next few years and I didn't want the wood to swell when it got wet.

*I'm on the fence on this process. I sealed it, then painted it. It was a little hard to get the paint to adhere to the wood after it was sealed. HOWEVER, if I had painted it before, and then seal it the wood would have soaked up all my paint. It ended up working fine sealing it first, so I think I would do it that way again now that I know it will turn out. It was frustrating for a while though.

Painting the witch and 2 cats took me 6 cans of cheap Walmart Spray Paint (.97 each). That's 2 coats on each piece. Now, if I had to do this over again.......I MIGHT splurge on a can of Color Place black Latex outdoor paint. The coverage would be better. I think a can costs about $11. I paid less then $6 for the spray paint. I'm on the fence on this one too as to whether it would be worth it to purchase the can of paint. But then you have to mess with rollers and trays and excess paint to store, but it would be faster and your finger will not hurt afterwards......I'll leave that up to you. ;)

Here is my own invention on the stand. First I spray painted the PVC pipes black.

I secured them onto the board with the pipe clamps.

Now when I want to place them, I hammer in the re-bar poles into the ground and slide the PVC pipes over the poles. This seemed to me to be the easiest way to store them without poles sticking out of the bottom of them.

And HERE is the final result!
I'm excited to see what the back light looks like on them. This might not be their "final destination" we'll see. Now I just need to add a broom, although I might wait till after Halloween and pick one up cheap. :)

linking up at Tip Junkie
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Money Saving Food Prep tips

September is harvest season! Hopefully you have been enjoying produce from your garden, or you are taking advantage of someone else's hard work and you are getting some great savings this time of year. Yesterday at a farmers market I bought a Zucchini for 50¢! I know, know, you are thinking "why on Earth would you pay for a Zucchini?!" Well, my Zucchini plant did not make it this season, and neither my neighbors nor my family planted any this year. I really want to make Zucchini bread with the amazing recipe I just got, so I broke down and bought one for 50¢.

With all the produce this time of year, I thought it would be a great time to post some great tips for storing fresh produce:

Let's start with the obvious...Frozen fruit.
I like to freeze fresh fruit for use in smoothies later. It helps to freeze the fruit individually on waxed paper on a cookie sheet prior to bagging. This makes it easier to take out what you need later. I did that with the Strawberries above, but not the Peaches or Raspberries. I should have done that on the Raspberries, they fall apart when you try to separate them off the frozen chuck.

Next we have Basil. I planted a few Basil plants this year. Now I have a plethora of Basil. When Basil is frozen it turns black, and although it is still usable and delicious, it's not too pretty. I have been using the "individual freeze" method with my Basil. After picking a ton of Basil, I put it all in my food processor. I add a little Olive Oil (this helps is not turn black when it's frozen) and chop/puree the Basil leaves. Use a Tablespoon measurer to scoop 1 Tbl (or whatever size you would like) onto waxed paper to freeze.

Freeze 1Tbl spoon Basil on the waxed paper ~ After freezing, place in bag and put in freezer
These quick measurements of fresh Basil will be great for soups, or any recipe asking for Basil.

Yogurt Smoothies
My kids love the idea of yogurt, but every time I buy it, it goes uneaten. But when I buy "Yogurt Smoothies" they down them as soon as I get home. I have decided to make my own yogurt smoothies with yogurt that I buy on clearance, with coupons so it's really cheap. After I find a killer deal on yogurt smoothies and my kids have finished them, I wash the bottles, and keep them in the pantry.

When I get yogurt on sale, or I have some that will not get eaten, I put the yogurt in my blender, add milk till it's a drinkable consistancey and then pour it into the recyaled smoothie bottles. My kids think it's great and drink it up! These Fusion bottle work wonderful because they have lids. If you use the "Dannon" type containers they don't have a lid and the smoothie gets thick again in the fridge.

Frozen Chicken Broth
Finally, what do you do with the "chicken juice" that is left in the crock pot after you cook chicken in it? I pour the Chicken Broth into small containers, and freeze them. Once they are frozen solid, run hot water over the container to release it, take them out in "puck" form and store them in a freezer bag. They are then ready to be used for broth later, or to flavor rice. Old ice cube trays would work WONDERFUL for this! I do not have any, so I make due. ;)

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Save Money on College Books

Attention College Students: Books are EXPENSIVE specially when you only use them for a few months.

One of the options to save money (gotta love that!) is to rent textbooks. They didn't have online textbook rentals back in my day! lol wanted to show Thrifty 101 readers how to save money on textbooks by renting them online.

I was really impressed with their prices. They are 40-90% less then bookstore prices AND shipping is FREE both ways! Sometimes online deals are not worth it after shipping costs...but with FREE can't go wrong. :)

I also liked that they don't expect you to return the books in "new" condition. They understand that highlighting and note taking are a necessity in college and you are allowed to do so in your rental books. The rental periods are flexible so you need not worry about not having a book long enough or returning one early if you need to.

Attention current students and College Alumni: Do you have old text books you are holding on to? has an amazing new option Rent Back Textbooks to fellow students and earn money!! Send in your textbooks, they get rented out to other students and YOU get paid!

Extra Bonus: A portion of every rental will go to Operation Smile!  What a great way to give back.
Currently they are running a summer promo...$29.00 for any book!

Go check them out, save money, 
do a good deed and even make a profit!

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer Vacation Tips: U.S. NPS Jr. Ranger Program (FREE)

Thrifty 101 Summer Vacation Tips

U.S. National Parks Jr. Ranger Program

I first mentioned the National Parks Service Jr. Ranger Program in my "Things I've learned over Spring Break" post.  We went to the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Canyonlands and Arches National Park and my boys became Jr. Rangers at each park.

Jr. Ranger is a FREE program offered at most National Parks.  Head to the visitor's center and ask the front desk about the program.  They will hand you a kids work book that your child must complete in order to become a Jr. Ranger.  

The booklets have activities like
  • BINGO cards where you kids have to find and mark off in their book things like; animal life, plant life, petroglyphs ....items they will see in the park.
  • Fill in the blanks about when a site was founded and other information they can learn while in the park
  • dot to dots
  • word searches
  • "draw your own".....pages
Books are categorized by age so young and older children can all participate.  This program is a LIFESAVER while you are driving from one site to the next.  It gives the kids something to entertain themselves.
After your children finish their books you take the completed books back to the visitor's center and a Ranger will check your book.  They sign and stamp your book and have your kids take a "Jr. Ranger pledge".  This pledge is different at every location but it basically says "I promise to stay on trails, respect nature, tell everyone how much fun I had at _________ and I will visit back often" or something that that effect.

After the "ceremony" you child will get a plastic "Jr. Ranger badge" (free).  These badges are all unique to the park you visit.  My boys got 4 different badges because we went to 4 different parks (I found the Canyonlands one after I took the picture).  They are the type that you pin on your shirt.

Each location also has nice sew on patches that you can purchase like the ones above from the Grand Canyon.  They were $1.50 a piece.  If you can't see them in the gift store, ask the front desk.  At the Grand Canyon they keep them behind the desk, but the other parks we went to they were on display with the other patches.

You can click HERE to see a list of parks that have Jr. Ranger programs.  We are going to 4 more parks this year and all 4 have Jr. Ranger programs!  I'm working on a display so my boys can show off all their Jr. Ranger items. :)
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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cinco De Mayo Papa Murphy's offer

Okay, I am just hungry, or does that look delicious?

Papa Murphy's has a special Large Taco Grande pizza for $5.55 to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  This deal is ONLY valid 5/5/11.
Our fresh dough topped with refried beans and salsa, 100% Real mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, seasoned taco beef, green onions, black olives and Roma tomatoes.

Click HERE to print off the coupon.

Limit of 3 per person.
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Monday, April 13, 2015

FREE Kids Reward Chart Printable

Every summer we attempt to keep the kids up on their chores so they don't get lazy all summer long.  

This morning I found THIS FREE Kids Reward Chart printable on Tip Junkie and thought it might be useful to some of you that are attempting a "chore chart" this summer. There is an astronaut for boys and a ballerina for girls.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Spring Cleaning with Thrifty 101...........The food storage room

So it's Monday again, time for another edition of "Spring Cleaning with Thrifty 101"!  I'm so glad I started this segment a few weeks ago.  The weather here is starting to warm up, we were in the 50's today!.....those of you South of SLC and in warmer temps....I don't want to hear about it.☺ HA HA  Warmer temps make me want to be outside, not inside endlessly cleaning.  So by getting head start now, I can enjoy the weather....once it arrives. :)

So the challenge this week was my food storage room.  I realize I am very lucky to have a whole room devoted to "food storage".  We have some HUGE shelves set up in an unfinished room in our basement and I try to keep our essentials in stock.  Cereal, pasta, cake mixes (yes cake mixes are ESSENTIAL in my family ☺), toothpaste, crackers, tissues.....etc.

One of the benefits of using coupons and getting multiple coupons is that you can stock up on your food storage.  If you have 1 coupon to stack on a deal to get 1 package of cereal for .50....if you have 5 coupons you can get 5 boxes at that price.  Eventually you have excess items that you can go downstairs and "shop" in your own store when you are out of spaghetti sauce at 7:00 pm. Or when there is nothing but crumbs left in the cereal box when you try to eat breakfast.

Just like when you get home from vacation, when you come home from the grocery one wants to unpack.  So this is what my food room looked like before:
 Christmas Decor box that needs to be put in the rafters of the garage, but hasn't made it there yet...
 "Food Glorious Food..."
 Our latest purchases from Smiths.....or maybe it was a few purchases ago....

Once again I was AMAZED at how many mostly empty boxes I had.  By simply consolidating and removing the excess packaging and boxes the room started to open up instantly.

Here are the after photos:
 Christmas box made it to the garage....AND even made it into the rafters. :)
 Organization and once again, my Label Maker to the rescue!
 My canned Tomato Juice from THIS post earlier this year is on the top shelf.
 We replaced one of our dressers with a nicer one we found on clearance.  Since dressers are VERY hard to find ,for the right price, I wanted to keep our old one.  So I turned it into a food storage unit. I use it for paper products tissues, tinfoil, plastic wrap.. and the top 2 drawers are candy. Halloween M&M's, Christmas Hershey Kisses and other candy we found on clearance.  I didn't mark them with labels because I have 3 boys, 2 of which can read. ;)
 Label maker again.

And now time for the Side by side:

I had organized this room a few months ago, so this project took less time then I expected it would.  Like I stated above, it was mostly plastic grocery bags, empty cases and boxes.  Once I "unpacked" things started opening up instantly.  A few trips to the recycle bin and one trip to the garage and I was done!

I just checked the weather, we have 3 days in the mid 50's this week so I'm headed outside for my next project...our garage.  So stay tuned for that.

If you decide to join me in Spring Cleaning grab my new button from the right margin and send me some pics and I'll post them up here!  If you don't want to send pics, stop by and  tell us you are participating in our Spring Cleaning event. :)
Spring Cleaning with Thrifty 101
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LAST DAY 20% off!!

Living Social is running it's 20% off special through TODAY.

Renew or purchase your Pass of All Passes at 20% OFF THE SALE PRICE!

Use Promo Code CYBERSALE2

Click HERE to go to the POAP link.
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