Sunday, August 28, 2011

10 cents to change a Wall Decoration!

I LOVE to read…and I have a tendency to read everything I see.  I am motivated by unique or inspiring quotes, so I am always on the lookout for a new one to catch my eye. 

I love seeing cute “quotes” displaying personality and beliefs in my home and others.  However, in my home, I tend to get bored after reading the same one over and over for months at a time…it seems it loses its ability to motivate me to action after months of display.  It can be quite costly to change a cute wall hanging frequently!!  Because I want to change “quotes” frequently, but lack the space (to store them) and lack the desire to spend money to do so—I deigned the perfect frame “system” for me.
Recipe for Frame of Quotes:
1.       Find a nice frame with a matte inside.
2.       Find several quotes that inspire you .
3.       Go to a craft store and select several pages cute scrapbook paper. (Approximately 10 cents-20 cents a sheet.)
4.       Have fun playing with different fonts on your computer with your favorite quotes.  Print it out!!
5.       Cut out your paper ½ bigger than the opening and place picture corners on (sticky side toward the matte).
Stick it to the inside of the matte. Put the back side of the frame back on and turn it over….
Walla…a professional looking wall hanging!
6.     Store all your "extra" quotes behind for easy storage!!
7.       Change them out as often as you like!

TIP: Design the size of the paper about ½ inch BIGGER than the opening….but only write in the actual opening size.  Example: If the opening size is a 5 x7 make the paper 5 ½ x 7 ½ …but only have the writing on 4 ½ x6 ½ and it will look AWESOME!

Happy Stretching Pennies…

FYI: I have used Microsoft Publisher to accomplish this….but any other word type program will do.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Make your fresh produce last longer!

Have you ever seen a SMASHING deal on some produce and wished you could buy a TON of it without it going bad quickly?  And wished THAT price could last forever?  Well, there is a way to extend the life of your fresh produce.  (On a side note: you could obviously freeze good priced produce for later--such as berries...but...)

I debated for months about "green bags".
I had some friends talking about them, but the price seemed to be more than I wanted to spend.  A box of 20 bags was $9.99.  After months of deliberation, I finally decided to try them.  (Their being RE-USABLE is probably what helped sway me to try them.)  I have now been using these green bags for over a year...and their advertising has proved to be accurate.  I don't know how much I have saved over the past year, but I think it would be safe to say that they have paid for themselves....and little more.  PLUS, I have the convenience of having that fresh produce in my home just a little longer without having to run to the store!!

How do they work?  Quoting directly from the packaging: "They absorb and remove damaging gases: Most fruits, vegetables and flowers release ethylene gases during the natural ripening process after harvest.  Exposure of the produce to these gases accelerates aging and deterioration."
The green bags "are made with a natural mineral 'Oya' that extends the life of the produce by absorbing and removing the ethylene gases that cause normal deterioration."

I seem to use green bags for bananas, cilantro, broccoli, tomatoes and lettuce.  Below is a picture of what is on the back of the package comparing a certain fruit/veggie with different storing.  It isn't just a gimmick!!  And no...I am not in communication with this company.  This is just an independent assessment of these!

Happy Stretching Pennies!

FYI: I purchased these at my local grocery store (Smith's) in the produce section on one of their little displays!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheaper Party Platters…but NOT time consuming!

I have been planning a back-to-school picnic event for the Children’s Heart Foundation for the past year.  As I have been preparing, I did some research on how much it costs for a “party platter” for fixin’s for sandwiches.  I just about gagged!  They are so pricy!

So, I decided I couldn’t stomach the price and made my own.  When I 1st suggested that we make them ourselves, my husband gulped and commented that sometimes it is just worth it to pay extra for the convenience.  I disagreed.  Cheese was on a good sale, $5.99 for 2 pounds.  I arranged to go shopping, without my children, in the middle of the day when the deli is NOT busy.   I picked up the block of cheese from the isle and brought it to the deli and asked them to slice it for me. 
I finished up my shopping and when I came back, the cheese was sliced and ready.  All I needed to do was bring it home and place it on a plastic platter I bought at the dollar store! 
I picked up some sliced deli meat on the isle, brought it home and placed it on the platter….and whalla… A Party platter for less than HALF the cost!  With very LITTLE inconvenience to me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paint equipment: saving you time AND money....

About 2 ½ years ago, I bought a magazine called, “The Family Handyman: Budget DIY”.  Inside was filled with wonderful step-by-step instructions for great projects AND advice on products and ideas for making homeownership cheaper and more enjoyable.

When we bought our 2nd home, where every inch of it needed to be painted, I convinced my husband we needed to buy one of their recommended “tools”: a roller cover cleaner. My husband HATES painting—so he agreed. Anything to make the job easier! I can’t tell you how many times in the past 2 years we have used this “roller cover cleaner”, but it has saved us HOURS of clean up time (and water) AND our roller cover still acts like NEW! It has been worth every penny! (the ACTUAL cost was $25) But if we think of the money we saved on not having to replace our *nice* roller cover—it more than paid for itself! In fact, when we talked with the man who sold it to us, he said that home improvement stores won’t carry his product because it works so well that people wouldn’t buy roller covers anymore after using his product! We tried him at his word—and he was right! Makes you feel a little less guilty for buying a quality paint roller cover when it lasts forever! Not to mention your walls look fabulous when using good equipment!
The tube was CLEAR when we bought it 3 years ago...
Please remember we have painted every inch of ONE house and the exterior of another with the use of this tool!
The most fantastic part of the product is when you are done painting, all you have to do is insert the dirty roller cover into the tube, hook it up to a faucet or hose and it flushes it clean in minutes!!

So here's how it works.....
1. Paint to your heart's content...
2. Scrape excess paint back into your paint can.
3.  Insert dirty paint roller cover into the tube.
4.  Attach it to a faucet or hose (inside or outside)
This is a picture directly after turning on the water...flushing the paint out!
5. Turn on the water
Just let the water run until it runs CLEAR...
6.  Take it out and let it dry!
LEFT: A brand NEW roller cover  RIGHT: Our WELL USED roller cover....

LEFT: Brand NEW roller cover  RIGHT: Our well "LOVED" roller cover...
STILL plushy after YEARS of use painting our whole house AND a friend's exterior!
My husband recently took a side job painting the exterior of an acquaintance’s home for some extra money.  He again commented about how much easier this tool has made his job!!

So for those of you looking for a way to extend the life of your painting home improvement gear—here is the 411 (information) on how to get your amazing “roller cover cleaner”:
(585) 335-9119 or send an email to

Happy Stretching Pennies....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Medical Bill Discounts

At some point or another, a MAJOR medical bill may impact your life.  It could be a surgery, a birth, a chronic illness or condition, or a big “surprise”.  No matter the circumstance, the financial impacts are NOT  “nice” to any budget!

IF you have the ability to pay any of these bills in full—make sure to ask for a discount!!  Possibly saving you hundreds of dollars!!!  My question to the billing department sounds something like this: “If I paid this bill in full, do you offer a discount?”  In all honesty, the doctor just wants to be paid and the less they have to hound you or track your bill the better it is for them!  Often, in “major” circumstances, (as opposed to routine visits), they will offer you a 20% discount!  (In each of these examples in my life, the arrangements were made prior to the procedure.)
This is an example of some paperwork before a procedure...although it not always presented in this way.  A verbal inquiry can produce the SAME results!!
Examples from our life:
  • All 3 of my children’s births were at a 20% discount
  • 3 of our surgeries were at a 20% discount
  • Some “procedures” such as an MRI was at a 20% discount
IF you do NOT have the ability to pay in full—MAKE SURE YOU ASK IF THEY HAVE A "FINANICAL HARDSHIP DISCOUNT"!  Remember your doctor wants to be paid.  So if you pay your "designated part," the doctor may consider your remaining balance as a “tax-write-off” for himself/herself!  Yes.  We have been the beneficiaries of this before.  Do NOT be afraid to ask!!!  What’s the worst they could say?  Answer: “No".  Either way the bill will either stay the same OR will decrease significantly!!

Happy Stretching those pennies...

Summer Community Concerts…and events for FREE

I called to borrow a movie from a friend for a “theater” moment, (watching a NEW movie that we hadn’t seen before).  During our conversation, she brought to my attention a month long event that was happening close by (the BIG town next to ours) and how many FREE events there were.  I had never heard of this "celebrating the arts" event!  I started wondering how many other FREE events have I been missing?
So for the last weekend of this event, we headed up for “Rolling on the River Concert series” and saw a tribute to U2….preformed by Vegas U2. It was fabulous…and now my oldest wants to know how he can obtain their music for his MP3 player!!
I would recommend going by your local visitor center, contacting your local newspaper, or calling your city’s Park & Recreation Department to find out what events your city (or the city next to yours) is putting on.  I was amazed at how many things they offered.  I won’t be missing “Artown” next year….

Happy Stretching Pennies...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cheaper and Tastier Jam...try making "Freezer Jam" in 30-45 minutes!

I don't know anyone who doesn't love the taste of FRESH berry jam on a slice of bread.  Filling your pantry with jam had always sounded like a daunting and time consuming task to when I watched a friend (a year ago) make some jam for her freezer, I was blown away!  I thought, "No excuses now... !"
  • NO Cooking
  • NO standing in the kitchen for hours on end...
  • Enjoying the "fresh fruit" taste all year round...
How easy is it?  Wash the berries.  Throw them in the blender and blend slightly.  Measure berries out on top of sugar & pectin.  Stir for 3 minutes.  Pour into containers.  Let them sit on the countertop for 30 minutes (to set...or "gel".).  Label and put them into your freezer!

I have been making freezer jam for over a year. Whenever I see strawberries on a great sale, such as $1/lb. or $1.25/lb. I buy a bunch and make freezer jam. I bought some little plastic cups by "Ball" with lids that screw on and store it in there.
It is the perfect size to pull out and eat before it would go bad. I have also gone to U-Pick farms to pick my own berries as a family, which is more flavorful and cheaper. (There is a U-pick place nearby that sells their raspberries for $2/lb.)
Ultimately, the "freezer pectin" costs about $2.40 at Wal-mart, found near the sugar.  There are 2 packages per box. 

So my cost for 6-7 jars of strawberry jam:
  • Purchased strawberries on sale for $1 lb. (you need approx. 3 lb.) = $3
  • 1 ½ c.sugar = .25 cents
  • Freezer pectin $2.40 divided by 2= $1.20
  • Total Cost for 6-7 Jars of Jam = $4.45 
(The last time I checked Smuckers Strawberry Jam was over $3 for one bottle!!)
Enjoy all that FRESH berry taste ALL year long!
Happy eating more flavorful jam...all while saving money too!

P.S. IF you are still hestitant to try making your's a video from one of my favorite food blogs showing you just HOW easy it truly is: VIDEO showing HOW to make Freezer Jam