It’s Time for a Little Feel Good – How About a Little Enlightening?

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Since the holidays are so hectic, I thought maybe we could all take a minute out to watch a couple of short feel good/thought provoking videos to give us perspective on daily life.  So, here you go, and I hope you enjoy:

I love Soul Pancake videos.  But this one takes the cake.  This. Kid. Is. Awesome.  I want to keep him.

And Remember people, “…you’re gooder than that.”  So, what will you do this year to “make the world awesome?”

I LOVE that when you get right down to that, we all feel like we should be doing more…but aren’t. We are human. Here’s to giving ourselves a break.

…and just some food for thought? Why DO we gossip when it’s so destructive?

Hope they made you smile, relax…or ponder.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



Easy Christmas Craft – DIY Wine Cork Reindeer Ornament

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Wine Cork Reindeer Ornament

Do you have some wine corks lying around {don’t worry, no judgement if you have enough to make enough ornaments for the entire neighborhood} just waiting to be upcycled into these cute {and EASY} reindeer ornaments?  These cute little ornaments take all of about 2 minutes to throw together, and would be adorable hanging around the neck of a bottle of wine {or sparkling cider} as a Christmas gift.

wine-corks

You’ll Need:

Wine cork
Twine, ribbon, yard {whatever you have on hand}
Googly eyes
Tiny red pom-pom
Brown pipe cleaner
Glue gun

Wine Cork Reindeer Ornament

Directions:

Start by attaching a looped piece of twine, ribbon, etc. onto the top of the cork using the glue gun.  Next, wrap the pipe cleaner around the top of the cork and twist it {like a twist tie on a loaf of bread} to get it to stay in place.  Bend the excess to make them look more like antlers.  Next, glue the googly eyes onto the top of the cork, just below the antlers.  Finally, on the end of the cork, glue the small red pom pom for the nose.

Now go pour yourself a Gatorade and recoup from a whole 5 minutes of crafting.

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

100 Freezer Meals in 5 Hours

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freezer meal party recipes{Mrs. Hillbilly, The Church Lady, Me, The Hot Texan, Hulda, and Gertrude {Hulda’s mom}

freezer meal party

Yesterday a bunch of us got together at my house and made 100 freezer meals in just under 5 hours. It.Was.Nuts. A few days before the freezer meal party, The Church Lady and I sat down and decided on which 5 recipes our group would make. We then tallied up the ingredients and passed out shopping lists to everyone a few days before the freezer meal party.

As everyone showed up we stacked all the ingredients on a large folding table and then got to work.

chopping onions

We chopped ten million and fifty two onions and cried our eyes out. It was hilarious and a wee bit stressful, all at the same time. We were trying so hard to measure and get everything right, I can’t even remember having any sort of real conversation with anyone yesterday other than, “How much do we need? What’s the next step… Can you grab…  No I don’t have anymore bowls!”

freezer meal party

It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with teamwork. I mean seriously, 100 meals? In five hours? Divide by 5 {Hulda’s mom was visiting from out of state} and that’s 20 meals per person. Can you say sweet diggety?!

freezer meal party

Pulling a homemade meal out of the freezer and popping it into the oven on a busy weeknight doesn’t get any better than that I tell you.

making tomato sauce

And yes, it’s official, my new kitchen has been christened.

freezer meals

We made such huge batches of everything that we ended up mixing several recipes in 15 gallon galvanized bins because our cook space and prep area was limited.

freezer meal recipes

Twenty pounds of homemade sweet and sour meatballs? No problemo.

freezer meals meatballs

Waiting for sauce.freezer meal assembly line

The assembly line in action.

freezer meals

We powered through 20 full size pans of homemade lasagna with fresh mozzarella and goat cheese {recipe coming soon} like true line cooks. This was the last freezer meal we put together and by the expressions on our faces… I don’t think any of us want to make another freezer meal for quite some time. ;)

freezer-meal-party

In it to win it baby! 100 freezer meals in 5 hours. Who does that?

Apparently a bunch of crazy housewives with nothing better to do on a Monday morning 10 days before Christmas. ;)

Peace Out Freezer Scouts,

~Mavis

Check out these ground beef recipes that can be easily turned into freezer meals:

Freezer Meals – Ground Beef Pot Pie - Even though I can practically make pot pies in my sleep, we were always a chicken or turkey pot pie family. Then I gave ground beef pot pies a try and they were a huge hit with the fam, so they are now on our permanent menu. {Pin it for Later}

Ground Beef Taco Casserole Freezer Meal - We have Mexican food night at least once a week around here and we all love it.  I love it even more when all I have to do it pop this dish in the oven and I’m done.  {Pin for Later}

Spaghetti Casserole - I don’t think I know of a single kid that doesn’t love spaghetti casserole. I used to be afraid to freeze it because I thought it would make the spaghetti noodles taste weird.  Not the case at all. Tastes just as delicious as a freezer meal!  {Pin for Later}

Gourmet Spinach Blue Cheese Burgers – I love having a supply of ready-made hamburgers in the freezer, but I hate the store bought ones. So I make these in bulk and freeze away..  {Pin for Later}

Beef Enchilada Freezer Meal – I usually make 4 pans of this at once. It’s another one of my go-to recipes for our weekly Mexican food night, and I love that all the work has been done. I also love this recipe because it requires so few ingredients, and I always have them on hand. Not running to the store to pick up a missing ingredient is awesome!  {Pin it for Later}

Cheesy Beef Tortilla Casserole – This casserole is all of the best of tacos, rolled into one cheesy pot. And it gives a purpose to all those little chip crumbs at the bottom of the bag.  {Pin for Later}

Simple Lasagna Recipe – I make this simple lasagna recipe every single time I buy ground beef in bulk. My family never gets tired of lasagna. Throw a quick salad togther and a loaf of french bread on the table, ad you have the easiest complete meal!. {Pin it for Later}

Easy Freezer Meal Meatballs – I like to serve these up with baked beans, but you can use them a million different ways. All the work is done, so just choose your sauce and create away. {Pin for Later}

Freezer Meal Sweet and Sour MeatballsSpeaking of meatballs, this is hands down my favorite way to prepare those meatballs from above. The sauce is amazing and these pair perfectly with some rice to complete the meal. {Pin for later}

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

I’m Feeling Guilty – It’s Confession Time

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k cups

I ran across an article the other day about Keurig single serve coffee pods sales surging–and how abusive they are to the environment. Apparently, only about 5% of the pods are recyclable, while the other 95% head straight for the landfills.  I felt a pang of guilt while reading the article because we have a Keurig.  The HH bought it nearly two years ago while I was out of town.  Oddly enough, though, he used to make a giant pot of coffee every morning before he bought the fancy schmancy machine, but now, with the Keurig, he’s down to one cup of black coffee a day.

As I continued reading, my guilt kind of multiplied.  The article cited that “the K-cups discarded in 2011 would have encircled the globe more than six times, and in 2013, more than 10 times.”  Those little pods are tiny, people, so the sheer staggering amount of pods that get used and discarded each year is mind blowing to me.  Luckily, for once, it’s not just us Americans.  Europe has an equal {if not slightly more} love affair with the single serving pods.

Here’s what I can’t figure out, why on earth haven’t they figured out a way to make those pods compostable…or at the very least recyclable?  I bet it comes down to money–it’s just not cost effective to use more expensive materials? Yes, they sell re-usable K-cup filters, but using one kind of defeats the purpose of the convenience of the Keurig maker if you’re having to fill your own filter and wash it out every time you want to make a cup of coffee, don’t you think?

I don’t particularly want the HH to give up his morning cup of Joe.  It makes him happy…which in turn makes me happy.  BUT, I really do hope they come up with a more viable solution than sheer and utter waste pronto.

Are you a Keurig user?  Did you know they created that much waste?  Seriously, mind blown.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Money Saving Tips for Hosting Christmas Dinner on a Budget

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Money Saving Tips for Hosting Christmas Dinner on a Budget

Christmas has to be the most expensive time of year.  I don’t think it was meant to be that way, but it has certainly evolved into a real potential financial crisis.  My kids are pretty good about the presents part of the equation, they really don’t ask for that much.

Christmas dinner is where keeping the costs low and still maintaining traditions takes a little bit of effort.  The good news is that with planning, it really is possible to put on a great spread for family and friends without breaking the bank.

Here are couple of tips to get you on the road to a tasty meal for a price you can afford:

  1. Make a menu and STICK WITH IT.  Making a menu allows you to stock up on specialty food items when they go on sale.  The earlier you make the list, the more sales cycles you have to score deals.
  2. Bring the outside in with your table decor. Where we live there are plenty of pine and cedar trees, not to mention pine cones.  If that doesn’t have all the makings for a traditional Christmas centerpiece, I don’t know what does.
  3. Shop seasonally when it comes to fruits and veggies.  Providing a grapes in your fruit salad is going to be a heck of a lot more expensive than oranges.
  4. Have everyone bring a dish.  If you can get away with providing the staples, and your guests provide the sides and appetizers, you can cut the cost SIGNIFICANTLY.
  5. Figure out proportions.  Over-cooking leads to overspending.  There is a delicate balance between having plenty and having an offensive amount of left-overs.
  6. Take advantage of store promotions.  Most stores offer free turkey with minimum purchase.  {If they offer it only at Thanksgiving time, consider buying and freezing your Christmas bird then.}
  7. Now is the time to transfer prescriptions.  I know this sounds crazy, but lots of stores will offer gift cards for transferred prescriptions.  Transfer them now, and put the gift card to good use by buying the groceries.
  8. Cut energy costs by dropping the thermostat if you are having a lot of guests.  The sheer amount of people will raise the temperature in a room, no need to pay for additional heating costs.
  9. Make everything from scratch.  It will taste better and cost significantly less.
  10. Keep it simple.  No need to provide 18 appetizers and 14 desserts.  All those extra ingredients add up.

Do you host Christmas dinner?  How do you keep costs low?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis’ Affordable Kitchen Remodel Before and After Pictures

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orlando

Holy cow, what a difference 10 weeks makes!

white kitchen dark floors orlando

Here I am with Orlando {Chino the Handyman’s right hand man} about half way through the remodel.

before and after kitchen photos

For the most part, I liked the original u-shape of the kitchen. But that was about it. The kitchen cabinets, blue counter tops, 1990′s space sucking soffet above the cabinets and the warped yellow wood floor were all pulled out. We were able to recycle/donate all the cabinets, sink, and all the hardware, so that part was nice.

White kitchen cabinets remodel

Since all the appliances were in working order {although not ones we would have chosen if given the choice} we decided to keep them. Because really, they looked fine and spending a bunch of money for flashy new appliances wouldn’t have increased the value of the kitchen {in my mind} significantly. So why bother.

kitchen demo before and after photos

Thanks to Chino and his crew, we were able to turn the outdated kitchen from drab to fab with some new kitchen cabinets, counter tops, a funky back-splash, new flooring, an updated pantry and some crown molding. white kitchen dark floors remodel

I don’t know about you, but I think it turned out great.

It’s light, bright and has a CLEAN look about it. Totally worth it in my book.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Melting Chocolate in a Crock Pot

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Melting Chocolate in a Crock Pot

So, I have an unhealthy obsession with my crock pot.  Seriously, I use it ALL of the time.  When people aren’t looking {even when they are}, I talk to it–like an old reliable friend.  So when a friend {not the crock pot} told me I could melt chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc. in a crock pot, I nearly squealed with delight.  Nearly.

I don’t know about you, but with all of the holiday recipes around here, this is going to make my life soooo much easier.  Basically, all you need to do is fill chocolate chips,  almond bark, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips {and the list goes on} into mason jars.  I like to use the wide mouth pint sized because they are easy for dipping.

Melting Chocolate in a Crock Pot

Simply put the chocolate filled jars into the crock pot {you can put multiple jars in at the same time} then pour water in around the jars, until it is about half-way up the side of the jars.  Be careful NOT to get water INTO the jars.  It has disastrous consequences on the melting process.  Finally, turn the crock pot on high and LEAVE THE LID OFF, because again, you don’t want condensation dripping back into your jars.  Stir the contents of the jars every so often until they are completely melted.

That’s it.  Now you have melted whatever you need as you do your holiday recipes.  Genius, right?

~Mavis

Melting Chocolate in a Crock Pot

Find More Easy Kitchen Tips

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Christmas Craft – Wine Cork Reindeer

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Wine Cork Reindeer diy Christmas craft

These little reindeer would make perfect place card holders for Christmas dinner…or tie a little ribbon on them and use them for ornaments.  Either way, they take all of about 5 minutes and are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

DIY Christmas Craft - Wine Cork Reindeer supplies

You’ll Need:

2 wine corks
Several twigs
Gold topped push pin {red would work too}
Small screwdriver or needle nose pliers
White glue

DIY Christmas Craft - Wine Cork Reindeer

Directions:

Start by trimming 4 pieces of twig to the exact same length for the legs {about 3″}.  Using the screwdriver, gently poke four holes into the long side of one of the corks.  Poke another hole on the opposite side of cork, toward one end for the neck.

DIY Christmas Craft - Wine Cork Reindeer

Poke the leg twigs into the cork at an angle, securing with glue, if necessary.  Cut a smaller piece of twig {about 1″} and poke it into the hole for the neck.  Now, on the second cork, use the screwdriver to poke a hole where the head will connect with the neck.  On the top side of the cork, poke two more holes for antlers.  Cut twigs for the antlers {about 2″ long}.  Make sure the antler twigs have at least a fork in them, to make them look antler-like.  Secure the antlers in the appropriate holes, again using glue if needed.

DIY Christmas Craft - Wine Cork Reindeer

Now, push the gold pin into the other side of the “head” cork for the nose {you may have to trim the push pin a bit, depending on how long it is}.

Now you can put place cards in the antlers…or decorate with them however you like.

~Mavis

Wine Cork Reindeer diy Christmas craft

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Carrots in School Lunches – A New Twist on an Old Classic

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fun way top cut carrots bento

Even the most staunch veggie-hating kids can usually be persuaded to nosh on carrots and ranch.  It turns out, though, that the old standby is becoming boring to kids and the battle over school nutrition is getting trickier, according to an NPR article I just read.  School lunch officials have found that kids are continuing to throw away their “healthier” school lunches, in favor of not eating at all.

In an attempt to spice up an old classic, DC Central Kitchen {“a nonprofit group that delivers meals to eight schools in Washington”} decided to create new, and hopefully kid friendly carrot recipes and then let the kids sample the different varieties and vote for their favorite.  Their hopes were to both broaden the kids’ pallets and to give them some sort of ownership over their food choices.  They made Asian inspired cooked carrots, herbed roasted carrots, and a carrot mash.  The kids sampled, voted, and starting this December, they will see the winner, Asian glazed carrots on their lunch menu.

I totally applaud the organization for trying to make the veggies more palatable–and even more, I am super duper happy that we are offering healthier lunches in schools, instead of crappity crap {because “that’s all the kids will eat”}.  Most of all, though, I cringed at the thought of the sheer amount of food waste resulting in school lunches being thrown out each day.

I would love to see a world where the kids were offered nothing processed, whole food recipes at school. I know they don’t love it now–because it isn’t ramped-up with salt, sugar and bad fats, but eventually, their taste buds would come around…if they get hungry enough, right?  Plus, sometimes I think kids hate veggies because they are over-cooked and bland, if school lunch programs were willing to try out new ways of serving them, like this school program is, maybe the kids would find “their personal flavor?”

What do you think, am I living in fantasy world…should we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya?

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Christmas – Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

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Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

Vintage is in, and there is nothing more vintage than re-purposing an old sweater into old-timey Christmas stockings.  It’s a perfect way to use an old sweater that is still in perfect condition, but the cut has gone out of style.  Plus, they look like a “fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas,” that even Clark Griswold would be proud of.  {Incidentally, it’s a pretty easy project, so don’t let the idea intimidate you.}

Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

You’ll Need:

A sweater
Sewing machine
Thread
Needle
Straight pins
Scissors
Ribbon {optional}

DIY Christmas - Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

Directions:

Make a pattern out of a paper grocery bag, wrapping paper, newspaper…just whatever  you have on hand.  You can trace the pattern from another stocking, or go free-hand.

Lay the sweater out flat and pin the pattern to the sweater.  If you have a big enough sweater, you should be able to get 2 stockings out of it, so make sure to pin the pattern to the one side of the sweater, and then repeat on the other side.

Cut the sweater out along your pattern.  I recommend cutting through both sides of the sweater so that you will have two identical stockings to sew together, but if for some reason you didn’t have your Wheaties this morning, you can tackle them one at a time.

DIY Christmas - Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

Unpin the pattern from the cut-out stocking and then pin the two stocking cut-outs together.  If you cut through both the front and back of the sweater, the cut-outs should already line up perfectly.

DIY Christmas - Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

Now, comes the technical part, sew the two pieces together.  Sew in about 1/2 inch from the edge of the stocking–when you flip the stocking right-side out after sewing, the 1/2″ seem will help it hold its form.  I’m sure this goes without saying, but make sure to leave the top of the stocking open {I’ve been known to get a little stitch happy and check out mentally, only to find I’ve sewn something I shouldn’t have.}.

DIY Christmas - Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

Once you have sewn and right-sided the stocking, you can attach a hanger by either using an additional folded over and hemmed scrap of the sweater or a looped ribbon.  Hand stitch it into the top corner of the open part of the stocking.

Turn an Old Sweater Into a Stocking

Ta-Da!  It’s Christmas magic.  Now hang it up, throw out some tinsel, and help yourself to the eggnog.

Merry Christmas,

~ Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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