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Make Inexpensive Floating Apple Votives, à la Martha StewartCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
|Martha Stewart shows host Conan O'Brien how to hollow out the top center of an apple using a melon baller and an Exacto knife.|
Here's a cheap, attractive, and unique decoration to add a festive quality to the home for either a Halloween party, a fall get-together, or the family Thanksgiving dinner. It would make a gorgeous table centerpiece for a Christmas party. Home-design maven Martha Stewart demonstrated making these festive floating apple votives on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien TV talk show on September 27, 2005. Love them!
Click here for how-to instructions and demo photos >>
Home Automation and Other Renovation Ideas to Save Money and TimeBy Thomas X
The expense and environmental impact that your energy consumption may be responsible for is a cause for legitimate concern for a growing number of home and property owners.
Learning more about the many important advantages home automation, energy conservation, and other efforts to reduce electric and power consumption may be able to create could be the first step you take towards a greener and more affordable household.
With a number of services, appliances, and other resources available to make use of, there has never been an easier time to create a more efficient, budget-savings home.
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:
Beauty Is As Beauty Does: Great Ways to Reduce Your Grooming and Beauty Aid Expenses | Cheap Beauty TipsBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Beauty products sure ain't cheap anymore. A single tube of waterproof mascara can cost more than a bag of groceries these days. Times are tough for those of us who aren't naturally gorgeous and rely on cosmetics to enhance our attributes and to fix or hide flaws.
I remember back when the price of a bottle of nail polish was less than an hour of minimum wage work.
When Vaseline dabbed on the lips for a bit of shine and lubrication was respected, and a restful, bubbly bath was cheap-cheap-cheap. When washing your face wasn't a complicated, expensive science project.
When pinching your cheeks for a natural glow of color was the "in" thing to do, a frugal and fast way to appear to be in rosy health (OK, that one's not really true of my generation—I had several palettes of Cover Girl and Revlon powder blush and a Yardley gel shimmer cheek highlighter—but my mom's generation of cosmetic wearers did a lot of cheek-pinching to save money).
It's not just women who are cringing at the escalating costs. Many men are feeling the financial pinch with the high-rising cost of bronzers and other subtle grooming/beauty enhancers. When bills need to be paid and your supply of grooming products run low, difficult choices must be made to stay on budget.
Being broke, though, doesn't mean you can't look good nor have to delay paying your utility bills.
There are many ways to combat the high expense of grooming and beauty aid products. You can make your own skin treatments at home using common items and foods and stretch out how long they last. Reducing your outlay of cash to be able to buy things that are actually more important in the whole scheme of things—important things, like paying your rent. You can skimp on your daily usage to make them last longer. Cheap (and free) beauty tips have been around for years... centuries, actually. During the era of Cleopatra, the wearing of kohl eye liner in 4000 BC was all the Egyptian rage with both men and women (and was made of ground lead sulfide, which it still is today).
DIY Recycling & Fashion: ThreadBanger
Video Demo: Recycling/Repurposing Plastic Bags & Making Shopping Tote Bags from Old ClothesCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
ThreadBanger's Rob and Corinne show a number of innovative ways to reuse plastic bags to keep them out of landfills. Also, a sewing demonstration is included with designer Rebekah Potter, who shows how easy it is to make a functional, attractive shopping tote bag from old clothes. Reuse and recycle rules!Click here to continue >>
Paul Newman's Lemon Mustard Chicken RecipeBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Paul Newman was one of the most highly respected actor-directors in Hollywood. His 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward was also one of the longest and happiest in Tinseltown, defying all odds.
Paul's successful life symbolized defying the odds. He was in show business for more than five decades and accrued an impressive string of nominations and awards for his electrifying acting performances and directorial accomplishments (Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award for The Long Hot Summer, Best Actor Oscar for The Color of Money, Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Empire Falls, several Golden Globe Awards for Most Promising Newcomer, Best Director for Rachel, Rachel, Best Supporting Actor for Empire Falls, New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Award for Nobody's Fool, and Golden Laurel Award for Best Actor in Hud, to name a few). Surprisingly, he did not win Oscars for some of his most memorable roles in Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, or The Hustler. Newman was ranked the Number 1 Box Office star in the US for both 1969 and 1970.
An international superstar with startling blue eyes and an arresting smile, Paul was charismatic and sexy on the screen, often playing anti-heroes or rebels, and he had legions of devoted fans for most of his career. He was chosen by Empire magazine in 1995 as #12 in their 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History list, and was voted the 13th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Paul was an avid race car driver most of his life (he finished second in the 1979 Le Mans 24-hour race in a Porsche 935) as well as a visionary businessman. Later, at an age when most people are thinking of retiring, he had the drive of an entrepreneur to start his own salad dressing company, using his own homemade concoction as the starting point. He created the company "Newman's Own," and it was such a successful line of food products that it has earned in excess of $100 million. A generous man, Paul donated every penny of the Newman's Own profits to charity. Well-known for his wicked sense of humor, in 1998 he quipped that he was a little embarrassed to see his salad dressing grossing more profits than his movies. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1994 in recognition of his charity work. Upon his death, it was estimated that since the 1980s, he had donated more than $175 million to charities.
Newman's death in September 2008, while not surprising because he'd been in serious ill health for a while, was still a sad day for his countless friends and fans. Paul was 83 years young.
Paul Newman's Lemon Mustard Chicken recipe is here — for the directory of other celebrities' thrift-minded recipes, such as those from Loretta Lynn, Jessica Alba, Randy Travis, Oprah Winfrey, Gregory Peck, Maya Angelou, Alfred Hitchcock, Gary Sinese, Justin Timberlake, Dick Clark, and Paula Deen, click here >>
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.
Ordinary Kitchens Have Magic... Cool Vintage and Retro Kitchens of YesteryearBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Recently, I was thumbing through a wondrous treasure box of vintage cookbooks that a colleague gave to me that had been his mother's. Tucked inside one of the cookbooks I found an old, ragged, stained newspaper clipping from 1971. It was a philosophical tribute to, of all things, kitchens.
Not fancy, hi-tech kitchens, either, but ordinary kitchens. Kitchens that millions of average families have lived in and prepared meals in for decades.
This lovely little article briefly explained how magical an ordinary kitchen can be in that it embraces simple traditions and rituals, and is one of the only rooms in a house that is expressly meant to create things. The essay also touted the spiritual side of bread making and the thrifty virtues of recycling food. This article's publication coincided with the launch of the first Earth Day.
Frugality and the magic of a loving kitchen haven't changed all that much since 1971, or 1951, or 1921, for that matter, although kitchen styles most definitely have changed.
Baking Soda... From Frugal Cleaner to Thrifty Freshener to Beauty Aid, So Many Cheap, Easy, & Effective UsesBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Good old sodium bicarbonate — aka baking soda. It's been in use in some form or another since at least Egyptian times when natron, a mixture primarily of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate, was created as a cleansing agent much like current-day soap. A compound using sodium bicarbonate was concocted in the 1800s that was used extensively in the commercial fishing industry to prevent freshly-caught fish from spoiling.
Baking soda's countless, multiple uses today are astounding and go beyond using it as just a leavening agent in baking. Cat owners have known for ages that sprinkling some baking soda in a kitty litter box will minimize the box's nasty odor. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more uses. Before pricey, potentially toxic cleaning products came onto the market, harmless baking soda was used in millions of homes and businesses around the world to clean, disinfect, sooth, scour, and even put out fires. Its first use in America was during colonial times.
Baking soda is cheap, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and abundant. It even comes in a small cardboard box that breaks down quickly in a landfill. What's not to love?
Adorable Birthday Cakes for Kids... Make It Yourself & Save MoneyBy Vicki McClure Davidson
A birthday cake can be the most expensive item for a kid's birthday party. Instead of shelling out $20, $30, or more for a bakery to make your child's cake, even those of us with limited baking skills can create a fun (and frugal) birthday cake that your child will love.
During our economic hard times, do-it-yourself (DIY) is usually better on the budget, and it doesn't have to be stressful, even if you've never made a cake before. As long as the cake is festive and tastes good, few kids will notice a lopsided or less-than-perfect-in-appearance cake. The work involved in making a special dinosaur, butterfly, or baseball mitt birthday cake with love, sweat, and a few tears may not be fully comprehended by a 4-year-old today, but in years to come, it likely will be (also, be sure to take a few photos of it before it's devoured!) All that your child knows is that he or she ADORES the birthday cake that was made just for him or her.
Saving some hefty cash on a child's birthday cake will definitely make Mom and Dad happier, plus impress a few other parents at the birthday party.
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.
Dress Like Royalty for Less: How to Copy Duchess Kate's Classic Fashions on a Commoner's BudgetBy Vicki McClure Davidson
When Britain's Prince William proposed to girlfriend Kate Middleton, much of the world was captivated by this English beauty, who has displayed humor, common sense, and style. Since their wedding in April 2011, the interest in Duchess Kate of Cambridge hasn't let up. Kate's frugality, considering that she is an international celebrity, has impressed many, while upsetting those who wish she were more lavish.
But while the new duchess regularly recycles her fabulous fashions and isn't excessive with high-end designers, her place in the royalty spotlight demands that she spends much more money on her elegant clothes than the average commoner can afford.
However, imitating Kate's classic, beautiful looks need not break the bank. You can recreate them for much less. Dressing like royalty, with a bit of creativity, can be quite affordable.
Happier Dogs, Cats, Birds, & Fish: How to Avoid Making Costly, Frustrating, & Terrible Pet Purchase MistakesBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Whether you go to a pet store, a breeder, a friend or family member, or an animal shelter for a dog or cat, choosing a new pet can prove to be costly, and that's not just the purchase price. There is an investment in time, love, food, medications, and a host of other things that you need to consider before getting a new pet. And there is this important question to ask yourself: will this new pet fit into my family, my lifestyle, my finances?
Dogs are among the most costly of common household pets (food, toys, collar, dog bed, medication, etc.), but all pets have special requirements. Each year, far too many animals bought at pet stores or adopted from shelters are returned because the pet wasn't what the new owner expected. According to the ASPCA, about 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and of those, approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). The ASPCA has determined that more than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters had previously adopted them from a shelter.
Make the right decision about which pet is the best fit for you the first time around. Let your head rule, and not your heart, when choosing a pet, and not only will you save grief and money, but your pet will be happier, too.
For valuable information on pet idiosyncrasies, exercise and diet needs, personalities of dog and cat breeds, and more that will help you choose the right pet for you, your family, your lifestyle, and your wallet, continue reading >>
Egg-static! Thrifty Egg Dishes, Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, & DinnerBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Eggs are a thrifty source of protein, and can be served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner | Photo credit: Kelly Johnson (duna), Flickr.com, Creative Commons license, some rights reserved
Eggs, even during this terrible economy, are a cheap source of protein that can stretch your family's limited food budget dollars. And they're considered by millions across the world to be one of the most versatile of foods. Eggs can be fried, steamed, shirred, poached, scrambled, baked, boiled, and mixed with many different vegetables, cheeses, and/or meats to create countless filling, inexpensive main dishes, hot or cold, to be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
In fact, the 100 tiny pleats in a traditional French chef's white hat (in French, it's a toque blanche) are meant to represent the 100 different ways a professional chef can prepare an egg.
While it wasn't that long ago that eggs consistently sold for less than a dollar per dozen, even now, at or above two dollars a dozen, that's still a far cry cheaper than the escalating costs of other meats. One egg, from a dozen-count carton priced at $2.00, is still only about 17 cents.For an assortment of frugal recipes for egg dishes, click here >>