Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red, White & Blue - Ragged Wreath

Using fabric scraps and an old grapevine wreath, I fashioned this "ragged" wreath for our front door.  The grapevine wreath already had a large burlap bow attached from another project.  I added bows made with blue and white gingham check fabric purchased from the thrift store remnant bin.  And then pieced in some roughly cut strips of red toile between the check fabric and burlap.  I used my very basic needle and thread skills to attach the fabric pieces to one another.   

Ready for the 4th!

What are your plans for the 4th of July?

Mary Ellen

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quick Meals for Working Moms - BLT Salad

Salad greens (local)
Red onion, sliced
Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Nitrate-free bacon, crumbled
Orecchiette (or another small/short) pasta

This quick and hearty salad is from the July issue of Woman's Day magazine

Cook pasta (I used orecchiette) according to the package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, fry up a pack of nitrate-free bacon.  Set the bacon aside on a paper towel lined plate.  Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings into a bowl.  Add sliced red onions to the skillet and cook until tender.  Then add halved grape tomatoes.  Season the onions and tomatoes with a little salt and pepper.  When the pasta is done, drain and drizzle with some of the reserved bacon drippings.  Add salad greens to a serving bowl.  Top with pasta, tomatoes and onions and crumbled bacon.  Homemade ranch dressing is optional, but good!   

Mary Ellen

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not So Extreme Couponing - Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Last Wednesday was a happy day for couponers in the area.  The first day of Super Doubles at Harris Teeter!  During Super Doubles, Harris Teeter will double coupons up to $1.98.  So for example, your $1.50 off coupons are worth $3 off!   I stopped in before work on the first day of the promotion and picked up the items above.  And yes, I broke my rule of not couponing for junk food - hence the Pepsi.  Since Dave is the head of his department's employee recognition committee, we picked up some drinks for their office parties.

1 Reynolds Non-stick foil 1.99 - 1/1 Q = FREE

1 Hefty trash bags 40 ct 4.49 - 55/1 Q = 3.39

6 Whisker Lickins cat treats 1.00 ea - 1/2 Q = FREE

3 Zest 3ct soap 2.79 ea - 1/1 Q = .79 ea

1 Bounty napkins 2.79 - 1 zvr - 1/1 Q = FREE (zvr = electronic Q. Harris Teeter allows you to use both electronic and paper coupons on items)

12 Meow Mix market select cat food cups .70 ea - 1/4 Q = .20 ea

1 Colgate Total toothpaste 2.50 - 1/1 Q = .50

4 Pepsi 2L 1.25 ea - 1/2 Q = .25 ea

1 Diet Pepsi 2L = FREE wyb 4 Pepsi 2L (store promotion)

Total oop: $10.42

Total savings: $46.73

What good deals have you picked up lately?

Mary Ellen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strawberry Picking at Vollmer Farm

We drove out to Vollmer Farm over the Memorial Day weekend for some strawberry picking.  Not sure if it was just me, but it seems like the strawberry season started earlier this year.  The strawberries appeared to be winding down when we made our trip out.  But it's always fun (and hot!) picking local, organically-grown berries! 

The kids of course, enjoy the little playground behind the farm's market.  The pirate ship was new addition since our last visit.

A trip to Vollmer would not be complete without enjoying a "Wildcat Whopper" sundae underneath the porch.  Seven scoops of homemade ice cream - including the banana pudding flavor which was absolutely delicious, five toppings, 3 bananas and whip cream.  Yum!

The kids wanted Daddy to weigh them on the big scale outside of the market. 
Clayton weighed in at 45 lbs.

Reed also 45 lbs

Ashleigh 50 lbs

And Dave....well, a little bit more than the kids!

I too was weighed.  But as there is no photographic evidence, I can remain in blissful denial of the weight I've gained :)

We will be heading back to Vollmer in a few weeks to pick blueberries and blackberries! 

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cheap Summer Thrill - Observing Backyard Wildlife

It's always fun for the kids when one of God's wild creatures wanders into the backyard.  This Eastern box turtle which slowly strolled across our backyard probably on its way to the wooded area, made a good subject for the kids to observe and journal about.  We're taking a suggestion from Ashleigh's teacher and having the kids keep a journal of their summer experiences to help maintain writing skills over the break.  

The kids weren't the only ones interested in Mr. Turtle.  So was the newest member of our family.  Can you see her peeking out from behind the tree?  That's our new kitten Oreo.  She was a "surprise" from Dave.  I can't say that initially I was enthusiastic about being surprised with a cat.  As opposed to a bigger diamond ring, which takes less care and maintenance LOL!  But Oreo is a furry ball of cuteness and quickly won over my heart, like instantly.  What can I say, deep down I'm just a cat lady!   

Moving in closer...

And closer...

Oreo seems puzzled why Mr. Turtle doesn't want to come out and play!

No turtles were harmed during this observation. 
Mr. Turtle slowly but surely made his way to the wooded area :)

The turtle watches undisturbed as countless generations of faster "hares" run by to quick oblivion, and is thus a model of patience for mankind, and a symbol of our State’s unrelenting pursuit of great and lofty goals.


Mary Ellen

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quick Meals for Working Moms - Tuna Salad

A quick & light meal for Summertime -
tuna salad, local sliced cucumbers with homemade ranch dressing and multi-grain crackers.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Father's Day weekend!  We did as my wonderful husband made the day just as special for us as it was for him :)

I've never been a fan of tuna salad.  That is until I made the Pioneer Woman's Tuna Melts.  I was so pleased (and surprised!) at how good the melts were, I decided to make the tuna salad again sans whole wheat english muffins.  I did "tweak" the recipe a bit to suit our taste.  I omitted the pickles because Dave doesn't like "pickley" salads.  Used 2-5 oz. cans of Trader Joe's tuna in water (drained of course).  And added only a small spoonful of dijon mustard - Dave doesn't like overly "mustard-y" salads either!  To go along with the salad, I sliced some cucumbers from the farmer's market, added homemade ranch dressing for dipping and a bowl of Trader Joe's 12 grain snack crackers (so good - we ate the whole box!).  

A quick, refreshing meal to beat the Summer heat!

Mary Ellen       

Friday, June 17, 2011

What I Wore to Work - Making Waves

A different hairstyle for the Summer - finger waves.  By no means done the right way!  But I found I could achieve the wavy look I wanted by parting my hair in the center, adding gel to the sides, then forming S curves using a fine tooth comb.  I placed large alligator clips in the bends overnight to help hold the waves in place.  I used flexi-rods in the back of my hair for tight curls.  When getting ready for work the next day, I just remove the alligator clips and flexi-rods for a vintage-inspired wavy look. 

Merona dress & necklace from Goodwill
Shoes (not shown due to my poor photo skills!) - Anne Klein from Goodwill
Floral hair clip - Dana Buchman from Kohl's


I started playing around with the photo effects in Photobucket while uploading the pictures for this post. 

Painting effect

Ink Stamp effect

Film Grain effect

Pop Art effect

And my favorite
the Fresco effect

Mary Ellen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden - Spring/Summer 2011

My plan for the garden this Spring/Summer was to plant less with hopes of it producing more.  I filled my small garden square with four zucchini plants.  And in the larger square, planted roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, green bell peppers and red bell peppers.  Plus I have some chard which I planted last Fall that somehow managed to make it through the Winter. 

Zucchini plants

Tomato plant blossom

Bell pepper plant
Maybe I'll actually get a bell pepper this year!

Gardens are like chilren.  If you blink, they grow!  Since the time I took the photos above, the zucchini plants have blossomed and have a few zucchini coming in.  The grape tomato plants have exploded with little green tomatoes and the romas are putting on some too.  Some garden pest took to munching on the leaves of a few of my bell pepper plants.  I'm not sure what it was and I was a bit too chicken to go out to the garden at night to see!  I spread some crushed eggshells around the munched on plants and it seems to have deterred said pest (I'm thinking maybe slugs).  The pepper plants closest to the tomatoes avoided damage.  One even has a tiny pepper emerging!  I've never been able to grow peppers so I've got my fingers crossed!

Mary Ellen   

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yard Sales - Where Has the Love Gone?

Last year - Black & White Toile plates - $10

Last Summer, was the Summer of Yard Sales for me.  I had never been into yard sales before until one morning, Dave and I decided to drive around and look for a few before we went to the farmer's market.  I was hooked!  Awesome treasures and fabulous finds for less than Goodwill prices!  Plus those early morning yard sale adventures became our couple time.  We would leave the kids sleeping at home with my Mom, drive around to the sales, head to the farmer's market then enjoy a small breakfast together at one of the restaurants near the market.  When yard sale season ended last year, I could not wait to start again this year.  BUT...something happened.

Last year - Vietri Bowl - $2

The kick-off to my yard sale season this year was going to be a Spring church yard sale Dave and I have always attended.  I have pretty much done all the kids' clothes shopping there for the last few years.  Name brand clothes in excellent condition for .50 to $1 a piece.  But the church decided to no longer hold the sales.  So my launch into yard sale 2011 never happened.  In addition, I found I really enjoyed getting my grocery shopping done earlier on Saturday mornings instead of later in the afternoon.  Early morning shopping at Trader Joe's is a completely different experience than late afternoon shopping at Trader Joe's LOL!  So there you have it.  I've only gone to one yard sale this year.  And that was last weekend.  And only because it was in our neighborhood and I was passing by on my way to the farmer's market. 

Last year - Urn & baskets - FREE

 But Dave is still feeling the love.  And he has a new partner in crime. 

Clayton, yard sale shopper-in-training

Yes, our 6yo son Clayton!  Despite his young age, Clayton is a lover of thrift.  He thoroughly enjoys finding "scores" with Daddy.  And has learned he can stretch his allowance much further buying toys at yard sales.  I can totally see Clayton decorating his college dorm room with yard sale and dumpster finds - just like his Daddy did.  And if Clayton attends college locally, I can totally see Dave driving over to help him, with head lamp and dumpster claw in hand! 

Last year - Oneida tea set - $5

As for me, I told Dave I'd like to do "yard sale -lite" this year.  Maybe visit a few estate sales on Sundays.  I'm hoping to find a few vintage items - a typewriter, pair of white gloves, hats and linens.     

This year Dave picked up this 25 bottle wine rack with cabinet for $15. 

My only yard sale buys of the year - 2 Pier One bird plates and an antique leather baby/doll boot for $6

How has your yard sale season gone so far?

Mary Ellen

I'm linking up with the Nester!