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Holiday DIY: How-To Ideas for Frugal Homemade Christmas Ornaments & Decorations
By Vicki McClure Davidson
With Christmas just around the corner and so many family budgets strapped, making your own Christmas ornaments for gift-giving or for yourself not only saves money, but are fun activities for children of all ages. Many use recycled materials that you likely already have on hand.
Holiday frugality, made easy -- these how-to ornament and decoration videos offer a number of fabulous Yuletide craft ideas and instructions.How To Make Recycled Christmas Ornaments
Dazzling Thanksgiving Edition, with Holiday Food, Drink, Recipes, & Beautiful DIY Thanksgiving Centerpieces & Table Displays
By Vicki McClure Davidson
"Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often."
~ Johnny Carson, legendary late-night talk show host
FOOD. GLORIOUS THANKSGIVING FOOD.
Just two weeks before Thanksgiving! If you're still struggling with what to make for your family's holiday feast, or what to whip up for the office Thanksgiving potluck lunch, look no further.
This week’s delectable food edition is a Thanksgiving culinary compilation of awesome food photos and recipes, menu tips and suggestions (many would also be perfect for Christmas dinners or Super Bowl parties), and frugal, beautiful Thanksgiving table centerpieces. Hopefully, you'll find one or more that are ideal for your planned holiday festivities.
DIY: Homemade Seasoned Dried Bread Crumbs, Plus Italian-Style Bread Crumb RecipeBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Making your own seasoned bread crumbs isn't rocket science.
It's super simple and much more economical than anything you buy from the grocery store pre-made (often with a few mystery ingredients thrown in). Making a big batch of your own bread crumbs is so easy, it's surprising that anyone actually buys pre-made bread crumbs — the price markup is staggering. Homemade is cheaper, fresher, healthier, and usually tastes far better.
Even some of the most thrift-minded of people these days don't make their own bread crumbs because, frankly, they probably never thought about it. Perhaps their own mothers or grandmothers didn't make them. But for centuries, homemakers did not have pre-made bread crumbs available at the corner general store or open market place. They made their own, as they made so many other things for family meals and for the home.
Bread crumbs are an imperative to have on hand in your pantry when coating chicken pieces or fish or pork for a "shake 'n bake" entrée, for sprinkling over homebaked macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, and other casserole toppings, mixed into meat loaves or meatballs, ground turkey patties, economical bread puddings, and many other dishes.
Dried out bread for homemade bread crumbs is OK to use, although fresh bread is usually better. Using very old stale bread, however, will taste stale, so don't use stale bread that has an "off" or icky foul odor. Stale bread could ruin the flavor of anything in which you use the crumbs.
I recently checked out the General Mills website. The price for a 2-pack of Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs (24.00 oz.), at the time of this writing, was $6.74 USD for the 2-pack (or $3.37 USD each). For bread crumbs, for crikey sake. Sodium content per serving is estimated at a whopping 470 mg (20% of daily value) and the product contains a number of mysterious ingredients, including calcium propionate and potassium sorbate as preservatives. A 12-pack of Old London Seasoned Bread Crumbs (the 10-ounce size) currently costs $29.19 USD at Walmart, which is about $2.50 for one container. That breaks down to about 25 cents per ounce of bread crumbs in a 10-ounce package, or $4.00 a pound — more than the price per pound for chicken, many cuts of pork, grains, fruits, vegetables, and a number of fishes.
For bread crumbs.
DIY Dog Fashions on a Bare Bones Budget: Save Money Recycling Old Sweaters & Shirts to Make Cheap, Attractive Dog Winter Clothes & RaincoatsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Man's best friend can be quite tolerant of inclement weather, but sometimes, in those regions that have bitterly cold days and nights, it's preferred to keep your dog warm when taking him or her out for a walk or on a trip with an extra layer of insulation from a wrap, sweater, or coat.
Even in warmer regions, like my state of Arizona, a doggie shirt or sweater may be needed several months out of the year when the temps drop. When there's a light shower outside, a water-repellent raincoat will keep your dog drier, warmer, and more comfortable than he or she would be otherwise.
The cost of protective apparel for dogs is surprisingly pricey, considering the scant amount of fabric or yarn that is used in a small sweater or shirt. Bigger dogs' clothes obviously cost more. Many dog clothing items can run as high as $40 (ouch!), some even higher depending on the pet store in which it's bought, which can really ding a tight budget. However, pet owners who are financially strapped need not despair nor break their budgets — frugal DIY to the rescue!
Save money and recycle — you can easily and cheaply make your four-legged best friend snuggly, warm winter clothes from old sweaters, T-shirts, or sweatshirts that are languishing in your drawers or closets. If you don't have any that you're willing to part with, gently used winter wear can usually be bought for no more than a buck or two at garage sales or flea markets (especially during the summer months) or at local thrift stores. Pick fabrics that can be home laundered and are somewhat durable. Other than that, you can easily transform all sorts of used articles of human clothing into attractive and protective cover-ups for Max or Princess.
Beautiful Beans Bonanza: Yummy, Filling, Money-Saving Recipes for Beans... Soups, Stews, SaladsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Food prices continue to skyrocket, and for many families, grocery shopping has become a horrific financial nightmare. As of 2013, more families in America were receiving government-issued, taxpayer-funded food stamps than had ever received them in all the nation's history.
Ground beef has gone up 24 percent since January 2009, and bacon has gone up 22 percent in the same period. Ice cream has jumped 19 percent, and the list goes on and on. With no end in sight to rising gasoline costs, food costs will continue to climb because of the rising costs to harvest, transport, and process fruit and vegetable crops, meats, dairy products, and other food items.
You can't dial back the clock to the more affordable, pre-2008 food prices. However, there are ways for you to battle the food jungle, saving money while maintaining nutritional health. There are so many bargain foods out there that will slash your family's dinner bills. Frugal food shopping is key during these horrible economic times.
I'm talkin' about BEANS. Yes, beans.
Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-hand BargainsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
My 21-year-old daughter and I hit the used thrift stores and garage sales in our area with enthusiasm at least one weekend a month. I raised my children as I was raised: second-hand shopping always comes before retail shopping. Buying used whenever possible is the smart path to take to give yourself more money at the end of the month for other bills or to put into savings, without having to get a raise or win the lottery.
When money's tight and prices soar in the retail stores, there's no need for despair or foolishly overspending. Second-hand stores always have inexpensive alternatives, fabulous buried treasures.
Granted, you can't always find what you're looking for at a used store, but you'd be surprised at what you often do find. And the hunt makes the conquest just that much sweeter. My daughter nearly shuns the malls these days, preferring instead to "go on the hunt" at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. Her friends are always stunned at the fabulously funky clothes she wears, many of which cost her only a dollar or two. She is quite petite and has unconventional tastes, and always scores a few amazingly cheap fashion finds when we go out. She never has been faced with not finding something she loves. When necessary, she makes a few alterations to make a shirt fit better or to update the look, but that's not too often. I have found Descoware, Revere Ware, a Pfaltzgraff serving platter in mint condition, and other kitchenware pieces stunningly under-priced. Instead of spending $7 to $10 on a new paring knife, I found an excellent one at Goodwill this summer for 99 cents, which I bought for 50 cents on half-off Saturday. I do about 60 to 70 percent of my Christmas shopping at the second-hand venues.
Being frugal doesn't mean going without or dressing frumpy. It means being wise with the cash you have and stretching it as far as it can be stretched. Why buy a pair of pants or a blouse or a large sauce pan at the mall for $50 when you can find often something of equal (sometimes even greater) value at the Salvation Army or a garage sale for less than five bucks? And you don't have to sacrifice style for savings.
DIY T-Shirt Transformations: Save Big Bucks with Adorable Fashion Makeovers Using Old T-ShirtsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Specialty and fashion T-shirts are often horrifically expensive... you can easily make your own cute and casual fashion statements at a fraction of the cost by using old T-shirts. Why spend $30 to $50 (or more) on a cool spring or summer shirt or dress or shoulder bag when you can T-shirt DIY for next to nothing?
Dig through your drawers for old T-shirts, or take a trip to the second-hand store or hit some neighborhood garage sales. Clearance racks at clothing stores or T-shirt swaps with friends are other good sources for collecting inexpensive T-shirts.
Fashion trends may come and go, but T-shirts are always in style at school, the pool, the park, or any casual gathering or outing. Some of these T-shirt makeovers are more upscale, making them suitable attire for clubbing or parties.
These how-to videos are easy to follow (some require no sewing) and barely scratch the surface of what you can create for less than a few dollars... and still look fabulous.
Frugality and recycling rock, so embrace your inner DIY!
Make an Adorable, Cost-minded Baby Shower Diaper 'Cake' CenterpieceBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Clever and functional, this baby shower diaper 'cake' centerpiece is easy to make and will delight the mother-to-be and guests.
Party supplies have become quite expensive, and are often discarded after the festivities (money in the trash), so making a baby shower table centerpiece that does double-duty as party decor and as a gift is totally frugalicious!
This is über-adorable: