How to Build a Potato Tower

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Yesterday, Peanut the Easter Egger Chicken helped me build a potato tower.  This was the first tower I had ever built and I needed all the help I could get.  Since I’m trying to grow 2,000 lbs of fresh fruits and vegetables in my backyard this summer, I figured I should grow a few potatoes.  If all goes as planned I should end up with a few hundred pounds of spuds between the towers I built and the ones I planted a few weeks ago.007The tower construction itself is rather simple.  I used a 4′ x 4′ piece of coated {no rust} recycled chicken wire and bent the edges of the wire inward to secure the two ends together. {You can click on any of these pictures if you would like to enlarge them}.021I then placed a handful of sprouting red potatoes over the dirt.0802Then came the fun part.  Next I covered the potatoes in about 4″ of straw and swept the straw to the sides of the tower.105After sweeping the straw to the sides, I placed 3″ of rich, composted soil over the top of the potatoes.  As soon as potato leaves appear I will cover them with more soil and straw.  I’ve read online about people planting their potato towers completely in straw, but it makes me nervous.  I think they need dirt. So this time around I will use straw on the outside {to hold the dirt in}.  If all goes well, then next year I’ll try the all straw method.0951Yesterday I was able to complete 3 towers.  I plan on heading outside to build 2 more today, and then all my potatoes will be planted.

Do you think this is going to work?  Have you ever tried growing potatoes in a unconventional way?

UPDATE – This is what the potato towers look like 6 weeks after I planted them.

In this picture you can see that I added more straw to the front tower.  I also added more soil and 4 more seed potatoes.  At this point everything is going great and I will update this post in a few more weeks.

Update: I grew potatoes again the following year and you can see the results HERE.

Amazon: The Complete Book of Potatoes: What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know

Amazon: Seed Potatoes

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5 Frugal Christmas Projects: How To Make A Christmas Wreath

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Step 1: Go outside and cut a few branches off a tree.  I chose to took clippings from a Leland Cypress tree growing in my front yard.  Also, if you have  a Holly bush nearby, clip a few sprigs off that too.  You will also need a wreath form and some fine gardening wire.

Step 2: Secure garden wire to wreath form by simply tying a knot.

Step 3: Place 2-3 sprigs on the wreath form and wrap the garden wire around the base of the springs to secure the greens.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 until you have successfully covered the entire form with greens.

Step 5: Your wreath should look something like this.  I am not going to say it should look EXACTLY like this because artist freedom is encouraged.

Step 6: Carefully trim the base of 3 sprigs of Holly.

Step 7: Insert Holly pieces beneath the wreath greens and into the wreath form if possible.

Step 8: Pull an ornament off your Christmas tree and secure it (using a small piece of garden wire) to the top portion of your wreath.

Step 9: Hang the wreath on your front door and patiently wait for your Handsome Husband to come home and say… Why can’t we buy a real freakin wreath from Costco like everyone else?

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5 Frugal Christmas Projects: How To Make A Candy Cane Vase

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Are you planning on attending a party this winter and would like to bring something other than chocolate or homemade cookies as a hostess gift?  Make a candy cane vase instead. Not only is it quick and easy to do, but the WOW factor might just score you an extra helping of appetizers.

Start by lining the bottom of a recycled glass container with rocks. I was lucky enough to find these polished rocks up over the summer at a neighbors garage sale for a steal.  In the end, the rocks will be covered anyway, so rocks collected from your backyard will do just fine.

Cover rocks with moistened potting soil and insert a paperwhite or Amaryllis bulb in the center.  I was able to purchase 8 paper white bulbs at Home Depot for $4.99.

Using Zots or some other sort of scrapbooking glue dots, carefully adhere candy canes (which you would have bought last year on clearance at Target when they were 90% off) to the side of the vase or selected container.

Once you have covered your vase in wrapped candy canes, use a piece of recycled ribbon to secure candy canes.

Place in a sunny window and wait.  Water periodically.  When paperwhites are a few days from blooming, present recipient with gift.
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How To Make Caramel Apples

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caramel applesYou are not going to believe this…

Who on earth would pay $19.95 PLUS SHIPPING for this?  Seriously?! Enough caramel for 6-8 apples, a 6 oz bag of rainbow jimmies (what on earth are those?) STICKS, and bags and ties for wrapping.

What about the apples?  How are you going to make caramel apples if there are no apples?  If you know someone who likes to spend their money like a crazy person (this does not include blender buying husbands BTW), please send them my way.

MAVIS.WILL.GIVE.THEM.A.GOOD.DEAL. 

I have all sorts of sticks, bags, extra candy and I don’t know what the heck rainbow jimmies are but I bet I can round-up some of those as well.

Alright, so if you have seriously NEVER made a caramel apple before here’s how you do it for the low, low price of only $3.29. APPLES INCLUDED!

Buy/pick or glean a few apples.  Buy a bag of caramels.  And if you don’t have any stinkin rainbow jimmies then search your pantry for a jar of peanuts you picked up for free somewhere along the way.

Alright. Let’s get this party started.  Remove the wrappers from the caramels.  This is pretty important.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not too terribly fond of eating cellophane.

Chop the peanuts. Melt the caramels in the microwave.

Stab your apples with chopsticks.  Or if you want to go the rustic route and like the taste of bark, use sticks.

Dip apple in warm caramel.


Do you know how difficult it is to take a photograph while holding an apple?  On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 7.

Gently roll your apple in peanuts.

Place peanut covered caramel apples on a fancy cake stand you scored for free by having all the neighborhood ladies over for a Southern Living party in which they bought so much crap you earned something crazy like $300+ in free products.caramel apples

 Sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labor!

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How To Make An Apple Pie From Scratch

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First of all… You need to find “the perfect” pie crust recipe.  My favorite is the one I found in The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  I’ve been using the recipe for years… and I’ve never been disappointed with it.  Not once.

I’m a big fan of the “crusty-ness”  factor in cookbooks… chances are… the more watermarks and leftover bits on a recipe page… the better.  It’s the tried and true sign of a favored recipe.

Basically to make a double pie crust you’ll need 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 cup of shorting, and 5+ tablespoons of water.

I let the Kitchen Aid Mixer do all the work for me…

When your dough is combined… divide it up in to 2 balls and flatten…

Like this…

Wrap in plastic wrap…and place in the fridge.

The dough needs to chill out in the refrigerator for about 2 hours… While you’re waiting go ahead and peel your tart apples.

I prefer Granny Smith Apples myself… Typically I’ll use 6 large ones or maybe 9 of the smaller lunch sized apples.

Combine your sliced apples with 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3 slices of butter.

Then once your apple mixture is ready to go… Set it aside and roll out your dough.

Be sure and flour your work surface first…

And don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle…

The more rustic… the better… in my opinion.

Fill the pie shell with the apple mixture…

Roll out flattened dough ball #2 and lay it on top of the apple mixture… crimp the edges… and make a few air holes on top.

Mix together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water to create an “Egg Wash” and brush it over the entire top of the pie…

Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top…

And bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes… or until the center juices are bubbling and the top is a nice golden brown…

Cool on a wire rack for about an hour or two…

And serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Yumalicious!

Here’s the *bling* I used for the Apple Pie:

KitchenAid Classic Plus Tilt-Head 4-1/2-Quart Stand Mixer, White

Le Creuset Silicone Super Spatula, Cherry

Emile Henry Artisan Ruffled Pie Dish

Kuhn Rikon 4-Inch Nonstick Colori Paring Knife, Green 

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How to redeem Swagbucks…

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Reader Michelle over at Give A Girl A Fig left me this comment:

So…I have lots of Swag bucks…but no idea how to cash them. in Would you be willing to do a tutorial? Or is it so simple that I’m embarrassing myself by even admitting this?

After you’ve earned a boatload of Swagbucks… your next step is to cash them in… I’m personally a fan of the Amazon.com gift cards but I also like to have a few Starbucks cards on hand for free tea and coffee at the airport.

Here is how to redeem your Swagbucks (for a gift card).


Log into Swagbucks.com and click on the “Swag Store” tab on the left side of your screen.

Click on the Gift & Rewards Cards tab on the left side of your screen.
Click on the gift card you want to redeem.
Click the “Snag This!” tab.
Click “submit Order.”

Check your email account and click to verify your order.

Wait a few weeks for it to arrive… hopefully via a super cute Mail Man.

Think of dear old sweet Mavis when you’re sitting in Starbucks or when you’re ordering something off amazon.com

Hope that helps! If you have anymore questions just leave me a comment below and I’ll try to help you.

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.

How to Make a Pinata

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how to make a pinata
I don’t know about you but I LOVE pinatas !!!!!

Actually, I don’t think I love them, but I do love watching the little monkeys get all excited about lining up. “Who gets to go first,” “but he’s older,” “he got to hit it more than I did,” “why do I have to be blindfolded, he wasn’t blindfolded” (…ummm he’s 2 years old). Then…CANDY, the mad scramble, then the whining. “He got more,”  “hey I didn’t get one of those.”

Yes, pinatas are fun but CAUTION: someone is always going to cry and it is not possible to make every child happy at the same time.

If you were to go into Target or WalYuck to buy a pinata:

#1. It costs $12.99…rip off!

#2. Unless you want a donkey, pirate, Elmo, or something that is suppose to resemble a princess, your choices are pretty limited.

#3 It was made in Mexico by someone in a factory who gets paid a crappy wage, & doesn’t love what they are doing.

#4 After paying $12.99 plus tax, you proceed to buy crappy candy to stuff it with because you already spent $12.99 on an ugly pinata and now have to spend another $12 bucks on candy. And now I have to spend more money on a paper/plastic goodie bags to put the crappy candy in for all the whining kids and so now I’m really like $30 into this thing.

Have no fear. I am here to save you from this vicious cycle.

Here is how to make your very own pinata for like .50 cents:

#1 Find a balloon (or call your neighbor at 9pm because you can’t find one). Hopefully you have one somewhere in your house. I have no idea where ours came from. In fact once I did come across it, I hid it from the kids for 6 weeks because I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.

#2 Tear up some news paper. Hopefully your mother saves the newspaper for you because you are to cheap to spend $1.50 a week on the Sunday paper.

how to make homemade pinatas

#3 Find about 2″ of glue in a glue bottle. Add warm water and shake and pour into a leftover bowl/pan/whatever because it is going to be thrown away.

#4 Have your very own handsome husband blow up the balloon for you because husbands are usually full of hot air and it makes them feel special because they just did something (easy) that you asked them to do.

#5 Prop balloon on some sort of container so it doesn’t roll away making a huge sticky mess. You might even want to place some old towels underneath so you don’t drip watery gluey goop on the counter.

#6 Dip strips of newspaper into watery glue and start laying them on the balloon in no particular order or pattern until you have one layer of gluey paper on pinata.

homemade pinata

#7 If it’s sunny set out the pinata on your neighbors lounging chairs that you borrowed over a month ago (and still have in your possession) because you wanted to get a tan for your handsome husband’s work party because you needed to get rid of your farmer tan so you could wear a dress (the only one you own) but were too cheap to pay $20 for 3 tanning sessions at the tanning salon. Do not put balloon outside in hot sun. It will pop. Trust me as I now know this for sure.

#8 Repeat steps #6 & #7 about 10 more times until you have a nice thick (can take a few rounds with a stick) pinata.

how to make a homemade pinata

#9 Holy Crap this really is step by step. Using leftover tissue paper (because if you are like me you have not bought any tissue paper/wrapping paper/ bows or bags for about 3 years now because you either liberate them from your mother when she’s out of town (she buys to much anyway) or because you save EVERY flippin bow/box/piece of paper so you can reuse them (not have to buy them). So again, using left over tissue paper, make a bunch of strips, cut the bottoms and glue them onto the pinata. Since I am making an egg {gee that’s original} I only used white paper.

homemade pinatas

#10 Decide on a filling point (I chose the top) for your pinata. Pop the balloon and create a hole big enough to stuff with prizes/candy.

#11 Stuff pinata with $10 worth of QUALITY (no crappy hard candy) goodies you have found on sale.

#12 Find some sort of ribbon/hook thingy to stick in the top of the pinata so you can tie a rope thru it. Then all that’s left to do is line up all the little monkeys and take cover.

how to make a pinata

After making the egg pinata I decided it just didn’t have the “flair” I was looking for. So today I started construction on pinata #2. Hey, who’s says you can only have 1 pinata at a party anyway? Can you guess what this one is going to be?

 El piñatero/ The Piñata Maker 

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