Saturday, December 31, 2011

Redneck Hummus (easy app)

I still can't believe it's almost 2012. Last year on New Years Eve night, I was waiting for my boyfriend (at the time, now husband ;p) to get home & decided to start this little ole blog. So far, I've enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you for taking time to stop in & read the posts & even sometimes comment. You've helped make 2011 a real joy-filled year.

Mike  & I are excited about the New Years Eve party we're going to but I need to bring an appetizer. I decided to make what I call "Redneck Hummus." I made it up when we had our Trimmings & Tapas party & served southern food tapas. It was a big hit at the party so I'm making it again.

Here's what you need -

I also add ketchup, brown sugar & a little mustard....oh & some bacon for garnish. 

Add the can of beans, little less than 1/4 cup of the tahini (side note: the first time I made this I didn't have any tahini & it still worked fine), little bbq sauce & any other item you want to give it flavor to the food processor. 

Garnish it with bacon, more BBQ sauce, if you want. Serve with potato chips & celery. 

I thought it was pretty yummy, but then again I was the girl that dipped her potato chip in to the baked beans anyways. ;p 

Cheap? Check Easy? Check Fast? Check...sounds like a great app to me! :-) 

Happy New Year! I am compiling my goals for 2012 for the blog & could use your help. Would you mind letting me know if there's anything I can do to enhance this blog/make it easer to navigate? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! You can email me or comment here. My emal is: 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Etched Hostess Gift

What are your plans for New Years Eve? While I love a good party, I prefer New Years Eve gatherings to be somewhat intimate. I don't know if I'm just getting sentimental in my old age but the beginning of a New Year is a big deal to me. I love making resolutions/goals. I love celebrating the year past & looking forward to the year ahead. I guess that's why I prefer a smaller gathering.

That being said, Mike & myself are excited to be celebrating New Years Eve with some really special & close friends of ours. But...I needed a hostess gift. Something inexpensive, personal & easy to do.

I immediately thought of this little guy...Armour Etch

I had gotten this at Michaels awhile back but I wasn't able to use it. Now...just steer clear because I'm on an etching roll. ;p 

This is easy to do & it only took me about 20 minutes start to finish. First of all, I found a cool looking wine/water/juice/whatever liquid you want to put in it decanter at Crate & Barrel for $4.95. Yep...a steal. I went on Tuesday of this past week & there were a TON, so there should be plenty left. 

The last name of the people were ringing in the New Year with is May. I went on the computer & just printed out an "M". And here are the rest of the steps...

Put the painters tape over the area you want etched. 

I kinda eye-balled it so hopefully it was straight. ;p 

The key to this step is slow & steady. 

Carefully peel off what you cut out. Pull the "guide" off the tape & make sure the tape is perfectly smooth & sticking to the glass. 

I just used a Q-tip to apply the cream. It's easy & I just threw it away. And side note - You probably should wear gloves while using the cream, just to protect your hands. 

Wait at least 10 minutes & rinse off the cream with water. 

Peel the tape off & voila! A beautifully etched glass. 

I'm telling you, I could get addicted to etching. Good thing I didn't discover this before Christmas or else every one would've gotten something etched under the tree! :p 

I can't wait to bring our friends this hostess gift this weekend! 

If you're looking for another hostess gift idea, check out my no-sew kitchen towel apron I made here.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you're finding some great after Christmas deals! Just FYI...Crate & Barrel always has great after Christmas sales! I got several ornaments this past week for $0.50/each & HUGE pinecones, like gigantic pinecones for $1/each! Score. :-) 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Easiest Cake Pops EVER!

If you still haven't jumped on the cake pop bandwagon, this is the lollipop that'll break the camels back. Why? Because these are no bake cake pops that take about 15 minutes to make! 

Yep...this is all you need! 

Once you roll the dough into balls, melt a little of the chocolate & dip one end of the stick in the melted chocolate. Insert into the dough balls & refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. 

Melt the rest of the chocolate & dip the cake balls in the chocolate. Let pops dry. 

Now you have no excuse to jump on in to the cake pop trend! :p By the way, I conducted "market research" on the taste of these cake pops & they were highly acclaimed. :-) My personal favorite were the swiss cake roll pops. Yumm! 

Hopefully I'll post the hostess gift tomorrow. Hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bling Bling for Zero Cha-Ching (New Years Eve Decor)

This week is already kickin my red-raw-nosed tissue blowing self. I hate being sick. Hate. It. I have now realized that I may me a crabby old lady. I just get so irritated at the fact that I'm sick. So...with that up beat beginning to a blog post...let's dig right in. ;p

New Years is so fun to celebrate because...who doesn't love new beginnings?? Especially those that love goals & to-do lists...bring it on, 2012! But if you are like me & accidentally spent way too much money on Christmas dinner (read about it here), your New Years shindig has to be cheap to the O.

Enter Mr. Aluminum Foil...

Everyone has him laying around, right? Well...try this little project...

Just tear a piece off that's 6 inches long...easy. 

Depending on how big you want this stirrer to be, you may want to cut the folded foil in half, then cut the strips. 

Since I had ran out of lollipop sticks, I actually used a small skewer.  

You could use this for a stirrer, drink decorations or food picks. 

Next up, you need an old bottlecap, silver spray paint/regular paint, nail & a hammer & a gold paint pen.

Spray the bottletop silver. Let it dry. Take a small nail & use the hammer to make a hole at one end of the cap. Write each persons initial on the cap or numbers. 

I used some silver curly ribbon to tie it around the stem. 

Here it is all together. I'm hoping to be back tomorrow night with a good hostess gift idea! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Show & Tell (What I got Mike for free or just a few $)

Hey friends! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! 

We had a great time with my dad's side of the family, affectionately referred to as the Rew Crew (seen below). 

We always have a great time & it's always filled with lots of laughter! Speaking of laughter...

This was my kitchen disaster making Christmas dinner. I've never used a meat thermometer before...I know...shocking. Apparently, you're supposed to only stick this in the meat to check it...not during the entire time you cook it. But the meat was AWESOME, besides the pieces of melted plastic we had to eat around. 

The second funny part about this meal is that you would be ASHAMED of me. The meal went against everything "Parties for Pennies" stands for. I found a recipe that looked great in GoodHouseKeeping - beef tenderloin with white wine sauce. After I got the butcher to cut it & tie it for me (he even alluded to the fact he was saving me money)...I about fell over in Publix at the price. I wanted to hand it back & say....we'll just take one of those rotesserie chickens from the deli, but I felt so bad he had gone to all the trouble. Wanna know how much it was? It was 4 1/2 lbs (after the butcher trimmed it) & it totaled $68!  Needless to say, Mike & I will be eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches the rest of the pay period. ;p 

Now let's talk about saving some $ instead of spending too much on meat! ;p 

I wanted to show you the cheap/free ideas that I gave to Mike for Christmas. 

The first one was a couple of coupons for a day free of "to-do" lists. I always have a million things I'm working on. I work full-time at a radio station (which includes a lot of Saturdays that I work), have a voiceover business (, am on with a talent agency so I have the occasional audition for commercials/hosting/etc, am in the middle of kinda renovating our 1960s home, in the process of shooting a pilot for a bed & breakfast travel show & besides the usual home/cooking/wife duties, I do this blog. My husband is a great balance to me. He's super talented but he also is good at taking time to relax & not worry about "getting things done." I knew one of the best gifts I could give him is to let him know that HE comes before my to-do lists. He loved them. 

This was the second gift that was completely free. Mike & I LOVE music. Mike especially associates memories with songs. I decided for our first Christmas as a married couple, I'd start a tradition. I made him a mix-tape or soundtrack for the year. Beside each song, I wrote why this song was so special to us this year. For instant...he sang "Hey Soul Sister" (Train) to me at my surprise bday party last January & proposed to me that night. He loved this one even more & I definitely think it's going to become a Christmas tradition. 

This present did cost me a little bit but not much. I got the frame from Michaels, when it was on sale for 50% off, plus I had a coupon. The picture is Mike & his/our dog Guinness. I promise I didn't cut off Mike's head. :p The photographer was being artistic & I love it. Mike loves his dog. They're buddies. There's something about a man & his dog. 

This was another gift that only cost about $0.49. I used Picnik to write the lyrics from a favorite song of ours onto one of our wedding pictures. Some of the lyrics are cut off here but it's from Mumford & Sons "Sigh No More." 

"Love, it will never betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free..." 

Here's the final thrifty gift I got Mike. It cost a little over $10 but it's for the door to his voiceover studio we added to the house. Mike also has a voiceover business but is much better than me. (Hence why this sign says "Mike Stoudt Productions") 

Some of the best presents aren't always the most expensive. 

Sorry...I couldn't share these with you until after I gave them to Mike. But hopefully I'll be back to give you some good New Years party ideas. My issue this week is that I've been sick since last weekend. Mike was sick, then I got whatever he had. As long as I'm on the mend, I'll be back to post more this week. 

Hope you & your family are well! Any good/thrifty gifts you got this year? I'd love to hear about them. Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

That's a Wrap

How are you doing? Feeling overwhelmed? Like you're never going to get it all done? Scared to look at your credit card bill? 

I know the week before Christmas can sometimes be filled with stress, sleepless nights & paper cuts. If that's the case...1) here are some, hopefully, helpful wrapping tips that can save you money & 2) keep reading & there will be something I've included in this post that will help you smile in the midst of the chaos. 

Here is a GREAT tip I found this Christmas. I love to wrap with kraft paper but couldn't find any at Michaels or even general department stores. While Mike & I were enjoying our weekly stroll through Home Depot, I came across a HUGE roll of kraft paper in the paint section. It's for covering things but works great for wrapping presents & it's only $10! I know...that's not dollar store prices but it's HUGE! Like it will last us for 10 years huge! 

Using my Home Depot wrapping paper, I wrapped presents & accessorized with household items. 

Publix produce bags double as a fluffy bow. I just tied several bags around the one wrapped around the gift...trimmed them & fluffed. 

These are all the rage & soo easy!
 I took yarn, wrapped it around four fingers multiple times, tied a small string around the middle then trimmed the ends really short. 

Maybe a little random but I found a "kerr" jar lid in the kitchen & a pack of I made a wreath.  I just wrapped the kleenex around the rim of the lid & secured it by tying some bakers twine around it. 

What did I do with the other part of the Kerr lid?? Painted it with chalkboard paint. I used a hole punch & now I have a reuseable tag!

My husband loves to buy the coke bottles from Costco. They don't have any high fructose corn syrup & they look really cool. I've been stock-piling the tops b/c I knew I could use them eventually. They are the perfect centers to my cupcake flowers. 

Regular Clothespin plus paint, plus tag...done. 

Hope this gave you a few ideas. There's so much you can do with everyday items around the house when wrapping presents. Hope this inspires you to dig through your junk drawer! :-) 

I just wanted to share a few "extras." 

This is a snapshot of our Christmas tablesetting. I didn't spend much money on it & even less time. 

That's scrapbook paper under the gold chargers, Christmas tree trimmings in the vase with a few berry sprigs, dessert plates with glass domes (already had) & gold pears I found for $1. 


I'm in love. My little snow owl. :-) 
I found him at Cost Plus World Market. It was the last one on the shelf & I just had to have it. It was $9.99, which was a little more than I'd normally want to spend...but I had to have this beauty! 

Next up...our dog...Guinness Stoudt. We had fun with a little photo shoot over the weekend...hope it makes you smile...

And the last one...and my favorite...

Hope you have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & I can't wait until seeing you next week, when we talk about New Years Eve! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

15 Stocking Stuffers Under $5

I LOVE stockings! I don't know why...I guess it's because there are little things stuffed into an oversized sock?? Yeah, that'd make sense. (detect my sarcasm ;p) Do you love getting stockings? Even though all us kids are grown, my mom still gives us stockings on Christmas & I LOVE it. Mom, please don't stop. ;p

Lip gloss, gum, socks, earrings, CANDY ;p...I just love the cute little things you cram into that stocking. The interesting thing is how quickly those things add up. I've come up with my own little list of unique stocking stuffers all under $5 (disclaimer: there are actually a couple of things that are $5.99 but, no joke, they were $5 2 weeks earlier when I was "researching" this...crazy). Hope this gives you some good ideas

1. Tattoo Ink Pad - Paper Source  $5.99
If I were a kid I'd be soo pumped to get this! ;p Ok...let's be honest, it'd be pretty cool 30! ;p 

2. Chocolate Magic Milk Straws - Paper Source $3.95
Regular milk turns into chocolate milk with these cool straws

3. White Ceramic Owl Candle - Cost Plus World Market $4.99
This would be perfect for a college student. I actually got one in a different color for Christmas for my sister but shhh...don't tell her. 

4. Wind-Up Duckies - Cost Plus World Market  $3.99
For young children these would make bathtime so much fun! :p 

5. Little Coloring Pencils - Sweet Lulu $3 
For the budding little artist in your family. These are just too cute! 

6. Beanie, Glove & Scarf Set - Old Navy $5 
This is pretty much ageless. There are some other fun colors but this particular one caught my eye. 

7.  Leather Headband - Old Navy $2.99
What little girl wouldn't love this pretty in pink headband? 

8. Fun Shapes Paper Clips - Urban Outfitters  $1.99 
These are almost fun enough to make homework exciting! :p 

9. Cupcake Snack-tainer - Urban Outfitters $4 
Your daughter will be the hit of cafeteria with these fun snack containers. 

10. Mustache/Lips Lollipop - Urban Outfitters $4 
Who didn't love the candy lips?? Now you can have them in the form of a lollipop! 

or for the "men" of the family...

11. Get the Hint Stickers - Urban Outfitters 2 for $10
Great for Highschool age kids...okay so it may not be their top choice as a fun stocking stuffer, but you'd get a laugh out of it & probably use it. :p 

12. Cupcake/Bacon Floss - Urban Outfitters $6
These were $5...sorry about that. ;p But if this fun floss will get your kids to floss their teeth, the extra buck'll be worth it! A lot cheaper than fillings!

Or for the boys...

13. Hand Puppets - IKEA $3.99 
Perfect for an impromptu puppet show! 

14. Personalized Name Straw - Krazy Straws $2.99 
Who doesn't love straws? If you have several kids, a straw with their own name on it would be even more special. 

15. Dog Biscuit Mix - Crate & Barrel  $3.95
For the dog lover in the family or even fido himself. They also have some dog biscuit cutters for under $5, too. 

Since we're talking about gifts...I wanted to show you a gift basket I'm giving to a client & the homemade gifts I'm giving my co-workers this year. 

He & his wife recently got back from a trip to Italy so I wanted to give them something to bring back memories. This is a gift basket of one of my favorite Italian stores here in Atlanta, Bella Cucina. They have this amazing artichoke lemon pesto that makes an amazing dip. 

I included the artichoke pesto, dipping crackers, flatbread, the recipe for the dip & a bottle of Italian wine. Perfect for a romantic night alone or to serve as an appetizer amoung friends. 

I love gift baskets. I feel that it gives someone an experience more than just a gift. 

As far as my co-workers...

I have about 50 or so co-workers. Small enough to feel horrible if I give gifts to a select few but enough to go broke if I bought them all gifts. Each year I do something homemade. Hopefully useful or tasty. Last year, I saw an idea on a blog. I'm pretty sure it was, Fly Through Our Window, but I looked all over the blog this year & couldn't find it anywhere. All this to say...this is my modified version of what I felt inspired by last year. 

And here's the final product...

I put each notepad in a clear bag with some mints in it. Total...I think each notepad came to around $1. I just bought the post-it notes, a big book of black & white design cardstock scrapbook paper (50% off at Michaels so it was $10) &  a pack of alphabet stickers that were a few dollars. 

This post is just a mix-up of all kinds of things! I wanted to show you our tree. I didn't want to buy a whole lot of ornaments this year (I've had purple in years past) so I went really cheap & homemade. 

The poinsettas I made from felt, the red bead garland I found at Goodwill for $0.77 & I made dove ornaments from some cardboad wrapping material. 

It's simple but I like it. :-) 

Next week, I'll show you some different ways to wrap your presents on the cheap! I found the CHEAPEST wrapping paper too...and it's not newspaper  (or Trader Joes bags...but those would be cheap). 

Hope you're enjoying your holiday season so far! :-)