Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hemming with the original Hem!

I got a pair of cute Lucky Jeans from my sister.  She lost some weight and passed them my way.  The only problem...she is taller than me, so I needed to hem them and I didn't want them to look like a "homemade" hem job.  So my mom suggested the idea below.  Come to find out this brilliant idea, had been around before my mom and here is another tutorial you might find helpful.

Now for the supplies and steps:

Materials Needed:
Your Jeans
Measuring Tape
Sewing Machine (preferably with zipper foot, but not required)
Double sided Iron-on tape/adhesive (optional: see below)
Needle and thread (optional: see below)

Step One: Very IMPORTANT!! Wash jeans!

Step Two: Measure the height of the original hem.  Save this measurement for later. (Mine was 1/2 inch)

Put on the jeans with the shoes you'd wear them with.  Then fold the bottom hem up until you reach the desired length. Pin and measure this amount. (My cuff was 2 & 1/4 inches.)  This measurement is from the bottom of the fold up to the very end of the jeans, which includes the original hem. 
Then subtract the first measurement of your original hem.  (Mine is: 2 & 1/4 - 1/2 = 1 & 3/4).

So now I pin my jeans to this length, as shown in the picture below:

Step Three: Sew! This is best done with a "zipper foot" on your machine,  but I didn't have one and it worked just fine! If you have a zipper foot, place it as close to the original hem as possible and then stitch following around the leg. 
 Be sure NOT to sew over the original hem anywhere!
If you do not use a zipper foot, like me Do notice the placement of my sewing machine's foot. Seen above. It is on the original hem, so I had to be extra careful not to veer into it!

Step Four: Measure your excess cuff.  If it is 3/4 of an inch or shorter, go to step 5.
If it is longer than 3/4 inch you have a can cut the inner excess cuff off, or you can tack it under.

A. First, if you choose to cut, measure and do not cut shorter than 1/2 inch.  This allows for future fraying.
B. Tacking it: Place double sided iron-on adhesive between the excess cuff and the leg of the jeans.  Like you are "taping" it inside.  Then Iron as directed on its package.  After ironing tack cuff, with a few hand stitches, to each of the pant leg seems.  Both the inner and outer seem. Shown below:
Step Five: Finally, Iron the outside of the pant leg.  Smoothing and flatening out the seem! 
I hope these work as well for you as they did for me!  And let me know if you have questions.  Some of the directions can be confusing!  But it was really easy and took me half an hour (following option B: tack and ironing).

Craving Fix!

Let me start by saying I am not very self disciplined when it comes to cravings. I like food and sweets and I like to be able to enjoy them! So I figure if I eat rather healthy most of the time it will balance the unhealthy things I eat.

But, I recently found one thing that tastes amazing and will hit my craving spot easily! They are the Baskin Robins hard candies. They are 20 calories a piece, but they taste so much like the ice cream flavors they claim!

So when I have a sweet tooth I can suck on one of these and the taste lasts longer than if I ate the bowl of ice cream...and way less calories and fat!

My favorite flavor is the Mint Cookies and Cream, it is amazing! (this also takes care of my Mint Oreo Cookie cravings...which I have often!)

So just a suggestion! And I got mine at the Dollar Store, so they are cheap too!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Herb Seasoned Chicken

When it comes to cooking I am all about fast, easy, healthy...and of course tasty! 

This recipe has lots of flavor, from the Potato Herb seasoning packet and it always tastes great!
As I made it last night, I decided to time myself, and it honestly took me 11 minutes (minus the cooking time)!  I cut, rolled, and seasoned the chicken, scrubbed the potatoes, and washed and cut the broccoli...And that included an interruption from my 16 month old son throwing his ball right into the raw chicken!  Which I then had to frantically disinfect and clean up! So this is clearly a quick and easy meal!

But really, this is a super simple twist on baked chicken.  It doesn't require dipping the chicken in egg, which saves a lot of time and mess, and it still tastes great! 

I also made mine healthier by using WHOLE wheat flour, that was freshly ground. 
(No, it was not intended for this recipe, just left over from making bread.)

Since my family currently consists of my husband, my young son, and I...I plan all meals to feed 3-4.  This way we can all eat and I pack the remaining Serving for my husband's lunch the following day.  But, if your family is bigger, double or triple the recipe!  I figured it would be easier to double than cut down!

So try it and and tell me your thoughts or ideas!

...More easy, inexpensive, and delicious recipes to come!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Energy and Money Saving Tips

Saving money is always a good thing, and being energy efficiant does just that. 

So over the years I've heard all kinds of different ideas, but I decided I wanted to know which ones really work and are worth my efforts.  So below is a compiled list of ideas I found and will be trying out. 
Both to see, how much I save and how convenient they work with my life style.

Here is the list and soon to findings.

1. Turn off the lights!
2. Use natural light (windows) when the    temperature outside isn't too hot.
3. Use energy saving light bulbs
4. Turn of bathroom, kitchen, laundry room ventilating fans right when the job is done
5. Unplug what you don't use and try to unplug anything when not in use.
(even if it is turned off it still uses some energy)
6. Turn of Computer Monitor when ever not in use, it uses high amounts of electricity.

1. Keep doors closed when air or heat is on.
2. Open windows and doors when the temperature outside is more desireable,
but be sure to close them as the temperature changes to less desireable
3. Use sunlight wisely. During the heating season, leave shades and blinds open on sunny
days, but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Close
shades and blinds during the summer or when the air conditioner is in use or will be in
use later in the day.
4. Open blinds when sunny to warm up the room.
5. Close blinds and drapes when cold or at night, to keep in the heat.
6. Keep your thermostat above 78 in the summer and below 68 in the winter and 55
during the night, or when not home.
7. Use ceiling fans, room fans, in summer.
8. Use space heaters, electric blankets, and electric heating mattress pads in winter.
9. Wear several thin layers over one thick layer when trying to keep warm.
10. Use extra blankets.
11. Use white shades on your windows. They reflect the heat in the summer.

1. Set water heater between 120-130 degrees. Too low and you'll run out of hot water or
spend extra working over time, too high and you waste extra money heating the water.
2. Take more showers than baths
3. Take shorter showers.
4. Turn off, or down the water while brushing teeth, washing hands, scrubbing dishes.
5. Use energy saving shower heads
6. Place filled water bottle in toilet tank, if you don't have a low flow toilet. It saves water
with each flush.
7. Wash laundry loads on cold or warm...not hot.

8. Wash full loads
9. Dry full loads, but not over full.
10. Empty lint every cycle, it saves energy and doesn't work as hard.
11. Don't over dry clothing, air dry whenever possible.
12. Separate light and heavy fabrics so you don't over dry your lighter clothes in the dryer.

1. Use the microwave, toaster oven, slow cooker, electric grill, etc instead of the oven or
stove. They use substantially less energy and don't heat up the house in the summer.
2. In summer “cook” less and “prepare” cooler meals or cook outside.
3. Use pressure cooker, they cook much faster on the stove than normal pots.
4. Use size appropriate burner on stove for the size of the pot, to reduce loss of heat.
5. Keep refrigerator and freezer door closed as much as possible.
6. Don't over preheat, or open the oven to “check” the food. In winter when finished
cooking in oven, turn off oven but keep doors open to warm up the room.
7. Check and place thermostat on freezer (0-5 degrees) and refrigerator (38-42 degrees)
8. Maintain your appliances. For example, occasionally vacuuming your refrigerator
condenser coils will help it run smoother.
9. Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets.
10. Run dishwasher when full and on short cycle, unless dishes are extremely dirty. Use
fast dry or avoid using the drying feature and let your dishes air dry.

A few other good ideas, but they take a bit more work:

1. Attach an UV film in your windows to help your house stay cooler.
2. Put an insulating blanket around your water heater.
3. Periodically drain a little water from your water heater to remove the sediment-laden
water that can build up and reduce efficiency.
4. Change air conditioning and furnace filters frequently. Dirty filters make them work
harder. Regular maintenance in general will make your air conditioner and furnace run
smoother and cost you less.
5. Install reflectors between the wall and radiator. These foil-covered cardboard reflectors
are easy to find at most hardware stores and help reduce radiator heat loss through
exterior walls.
6. Install a screen to shade your air-conditioning unit. Make sure that it doesn't interfere
with operation.
7. Seal your ducts. This website will help with simple techniques:
8. Insulate! Insulation keeps your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
See this website for insulation basics:
9. Weatherize! This means sealing windows and doors to prevent leaks of warm or cool air.

Thanks to:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grocery Shopping and Price Matching

I am all for finding a great deal. I used to run around from store to store to buy all the great sale items, and “couponing”. This was time consuming and a hassle. Then I realized how simple it is to price match at Walmart. As long as you know the rules and a few tricks, it is really easy. And you can apply your coupons to the prices you match.

Plus, I've often found that, when at Walmart to price match, what is a “killer deal” at a regular grocery store is still higher in price than the regular price for the same item in Walmart's brand.
So I can choose to save money and price match for the name brand, or save on the Walmart brand...which ever works for what I want. Either way, price matching saves a ton of time, hassle, and money.

Now, you should know that I hate to stall up the line and bother the that is why I follow a simple plan (explained below) that I have yet to slow down the line, bother a cashier or fellow shopper!

Here is what I do:
First while at home, I look at the adds, and plan what meals I will make for the week with a consideration of what is on sale.

Then I look for which items are on a good deal that I will need. These are staple items and non perishables like, canned food, freezable meats, condiments, flour, etc. Or items I know we constantly go through like: cereal, granola bars, bread, ziplocks, foil, etc. All of these items I buy when on the best deals so that when I need them I don't have to go out and pay full price or even an “okay” sale price when I need it.

Second, I look on coupon and deal websites like pinchingyourpennies, hip2save, or sistersavings and see if there are any additional deals or if they have a coupon I can print for something I need.

As I find each item I list it by category: produce, meat, dairy, etc. So that it makes a faster more organized shopping trip (less back tracking in the store).
Now to make the price matching fast and easy...

1. When there is an item I want to match, I write it on my list with the brand, and the name of the store that it is on sale, with their advertised price.
            Example: Yoplait Yogurt (Alb. 2/$1) So I know it is on sale at Albertson's 2 for $1.00
This way, I can quickly tell the cashier what the price is and where, without the hassle of going through the adds or forgetting.

*If I have a coupon I also write that next to the item on my list, so that I don't forget to use it and can compare the “couponed” price with the store make sure it is a better buy.

2. ALWAYS choose a young teenage cashier!!! They are easy going and fast about price matching. The older cashiers want to look at every add and they get frustrated faster. This is a simple trick a friend passed to me and it totally works!

By doing these steps my shopping trip is smooth and easy.

A few Walmart "rules" to know
Walmart price matches:
- Any competitors sale price, except Buy One Get One Free, or a % off of a price.
-If a competitor's "Store Brand" is on sale they match it to Walmart's store brand, Great Value.
-When matching prices check size and quantity.  (For example: the ounces of the package need to match.)
-When matching prices check the varities specified (usually Walmart isn't picky about the variety when it says "select varities" only when it says "excluding" a certain variety)
-They accept manufacture's coupons

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Meal Planning

**UPDATE: More on Meal Planning found in this post: Meal Planning Saves Money & here: More on Meal Planning

So, I am one of those that hates to not have what I need for dinner in the house. I don't like going to the grocery stores more than I need to. I figure once a week is plenty. So after many nights preparing dinner only to realize that I was missing an ingredient, and repeatedly running to the store, I decided I needed a plan.

Furthermore, I don't like buying an ingredient that I only partially use, leaving the rest to go bad! But using it all up often means eating the same meal or a very similar dish, night after night.

And finally, being a small family with the ability to change plans at the last minute, I also hate when I buy the food for a meal or a few meals that I don't get around to making. Whether we went out to eat, met up with friends or got home too late to cook...I don't like seeing my produce get soft. And although it is not necessarily “bad”, I definitely don't want to eat it.

So my dilemma goes as follows:
I want a variety of meal selections with all of the ingredients needed for at least a week at a time. (hence the once a week grocery trip) But, with some flexibility.

So here is the plan I came up with...

1.I started with a list of meals. I divided it into categories such as: Mexican, Italian, Salads, Soups, Fast and Easy, Fun...etc.

2.Then, from this list, I pick my meals for the week. I try and pull from several different categories, so that there is variety each day...and each week. I start by picking 5 meals. I leave one day open for left overs and one day open for going out. (But I make sure to have 1 back up plan, like a meal that I would have all the ingredients on hand...maybe it is a freezer meal, canned soup, rice and beans, that if we don't end up with left overs or going out...I am still prepared.)

3.Now here is the trick, as I pick my meals I think of two things.
First, what is on sale this week and Second which meals have similar ingredients so that I get the most for my money and don't waste extra perishable ingredients

4.Then I place them on this sheet, and list the ingredients needed next to them.

A few other suggestions that might help:

1.I have two different Weekly Meal Planning sheets...I prefer Weekly Meal Plan A over Weekly Meal Plan B. This way when I shop at the store everything is in order by location.  But it is just preference!

Weekly Meal Plan A:                                                   Weekly Meal Plan B:

2.To further my simplicity in this whole process, I have a binder that I keep all of my recipes in and I have a section for Meal planning with the Meal List, several copies of My Weekly Meal Plan sheets, and Grocery Sheets. This way I can do it all at once. what I like about this site is you can enter in three different ingredients you have and it will come up with several recipes to try. (This is something I do when trying to use up extra ingredients I might have)

4.I also, like to find ways to freeze or save the extra ingredients. Found in this post: Meal Planning Saves Money & here: More on Meal Planning


So I have been putting off starting this, since I didn't quite know where to begin.  I have so many things and thoughts going through my mind, I couldn't quite figure out where to start.  Basically this is a place for me to organize my ideas, tips, and anything I think is a great idea!  I hope it will help others and I'm crossing my fingers that others will one day respond with their own suggestions for me!

I am a "Stay at Home" mom with lots of side ambitions and interests I like to be involved in, but my first priority is my family and home.  So I constantly try to find ways to improve what I am doing, simplify, while keeping the quality!  I love to be organized and have a sparkling clean home, but I don't like to be stuck cleaning all day.  I love things that are healthy and wish I didn't love things that aren't...but I do!  I love decorating, projects, and crafts...but I don't like to spend lots of money or too much time!  So with all of this, and much more I didn't include, I am looking to do it all, with out running here is to balance!


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