Frugal Gift Giving

This week I had two gift giving occasions; my friend Kira moved into a new apartment, and I took a hostess gift to Jerry & Monika’s when they hosted a Bible class.

For both occasions I went shopping in my pantry, which is full of homemade preserves, made expressly for this purpose. I’m always on the look out for unique recipes so my gifts will  be more interesting than what you would typically buy from a grocery store.

Jerry & Monika’s hostess gift included: Salmonberry Jam, Dandelion Jelly, Blackberry-Basil Jam and Raspberry-Peach Jam.

Kira’s Housewarming gift: Blackberry Syrup, Dill Relish and Christmas Jam.

I didn’t have boxes that were the right sizes so modified what I had to serve the purpose.


from this


to this

I used the same thrifted,”All-purpose” gift wrap on both packages, (There was no chance of the two recipients seeing the other’s gift.) My gift tags were handmade by simply layering the gift wrap with red & white paper.img_7991

I’m always on the lookout for gender neutral, all-occasion gift wrap while thrifting so when a gift giving occasion arises I can shop from my stash instead of the Hallmark store. I do the same with ribbon, my collection includes of just about any color imaginable.

As for the preserves, I did have to purchase pectin and sugar. Jars, lids and labels were all thrifted. Most of the produce was free for the picking, either growing wild or from the garden (for these gifts peaches and cranberries were purchased). The cost of those ingredients spread over the number of gifts I’ve given makes each gift monetarily inexpensive but comparable to high-end gourmet treats.

Please share your frugal gift giving ideas in a comment.



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Book Report #4

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramseytotal-money-makeover

In 1984 I purchased a brand new car. I took out a 60 month loan. An aversion to debt was instilled in me from childhood. I wanted to pay the loan off as soon as possible, so I always made bigger payments than were actually due. Every year I got a statement with the loan balance. One year the dollar amount was low enough I knew I would be able to pay it off very soon. I continued to make my monthly payments and some extra until by my calculations I was able to make that final payment. I walked into my bank, money in hand, and told the teller I wanted to pay off my loan. I broke into tears when the she gave me the pay off balance. I was crushed. Poor teller, she didn’t know what to do or say. She got a loan specialist on the phone to talk to me. That was when I learned that I should have specified  that the additional money be applied to the principle. In a few more months the car title was transferred to my name and I drove that car for 11 years.

I started listening to The Dave Ramsey Show because it was on during my daily commute. Though I am not the average American with debt up to my eyeballs, I found the show very inspiring and entertaining.

I’ve given The Total Money Makeover as  graduation and wedding  gifts because Dave offers very practical money advice. 2-diWhen I found a $2 copy at Deseret Industries I purchased it thinking another gift giving occasion may come up in the future. When I brought it home I decided to read it myself.

Reading the book is very much like listening to Dave on the radio. I could hear Dave’s voice as I read about the “Baby Steps”. Along with Dave’s advice on becoming debt free are numerous testimonials from listeners/readers that have achieved  financial freedom by following his plan.testimonials

If you’re in debt, this book offers a common sense plan to work your way out. I also recommend giving it as a gift to people starting out in life so they can avoid debt.

We are not through February yet and I’ve finished 4 books, I hope I can keep up this pace.

You may have guessed that my next report will be on The Family Nobody Wanted.


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Book Report #3

I took World History my junior year in high school. The only thing I can remember is that the teacher, Mr. Bogle, got a lot of flack from parents for displaying a Nazi flag in his classroom.  I don’t remember learning about Hitler’s rise to power or his strategies to systematic take over ALL of Europe.

I still wouldn’t call myself any kind of an authority on WWII history, but I learned a lot from reading My Brother’s Keeper by Rod Gragg. img_7847I checked the book out of the library after hearing an interview with the author on the radio.

img_7846Each of 30 chapters in this book tell the story of an individual, family or church who willingly risked their own lives to protect Jews from the Nazis.

Most of the stories are about Europeans who helped their Jewish neighbors and countrymen. Hiding the Jews in safe homes. Leading them through  wintery forests to safe borders where they would be out of harms way. One is of a teen girl who shared her lunch with a starving Jewish girl about her own age that was forced to work at a labor camp.

People from other countries did what they could too; a Chinese diplomat issued exit visas to every Jew who came to him for help.

img_7845A school teacher from Indiana moved to France where she ran a home where she could minister to sick and orphaned children affected by Nazi rule. Some set out to perform the heroic roles others rose to the occasion when they saw what was happening around them. img_7844When a captured American sergeant was ordered to identify the Jewish members of his troop he ordered all his men to report to the parade ground and explained “we are all Jews”.

All the stories were inspiring. Though the subject matter is dark I found this book an easy read that neither dwelt on Nazi atrocities nor glossed over them. I highly recommend My Brother’s Keeper.


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New Recipe #4 Zucchini Bread

When the harvest was in full swing last summer I stored 11 packages shredded zucchini.img_7735

My intention was to use them in my “go-to” recipe for Chocolate Zucchini bread. With my resolution to try 52 new recipes I took advantage of my stockpile to try a new Zucchini Bread recipe.

I searched my cookbooks and file box and decided on this one. recipe-cardA note on the back indicates I got it from KM. KM and I worked together 30 years ago at a fabric store. There is a possibility that I have made this recipe before but I don’t remember it so it qualifies as a NEW recipe. frozen-zuchinni

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs-beaten

1 cup oil

2 cups shredded zucchini

2 cups of sugar

3 cups flour

3 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped dates

Mix together all ingredients. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Makes 2 loaves.

The simple dump in a bowl technique and tasty flavor are points in this recipes favor. However, the 2 cups of sugar and the dates make it quite SWEET, a little too sweet if that’s possible. That, along with the fact  I don’t regularly have dates on hand mean I’ll probably go back to my old standby Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

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Pantry Challenge Update

Readers, Thanks for watching as I eat down the stockpile of foods in my pantry and freezer. If I weren’t reporting to you on a regular basis I wouldn’t be as mindful of accomplishing my goal.

I did finally empty, defrost, and inventory my freezer. In the process I came across a chuck roast. I put it in the crock pot along with a can of mushroom soup to make a great tasting Pot Roast.potroast_7579

I have 11 packages of shredded zucchini in there. 10 now, since I made Zucchini bread.zuchinni-bread

Most of my applesauce supply is in the pantry but I found a container in the freezer too. It went in my morning oatmeal.oatmeal-w-applesauce

USED UP: chuck roast, frozen applesauce, cream of mushroom soup, shredded zucchini.

Be watching for the Zucchini Bread recipe.

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Thrifted Cleaning Supplies

I recently bought toilet bowl cleaner at the thrift store. It may be a lifetime supply for me but at $5.99 for three bottles it was just 50 cents more than I usually pay for one bottle.

As I put my new purchase away in the supply closet, I spied several other cleaning products that I’ve purchased second-hand.

In an attempt to make my home energy efficient I purchased VERY expensive triple pane windows. They are guaranteed for life but the warrantee is void if any product containing ammonia is used on them. Prior to these windows my window cleaner of choice was Ammonia water. The cleaner the manufacturer recommended only comes in an aerosol can. Expensive and not eco-friendly!

When I saw this bottle of PRO FORMULA window cleaner, I was delighted.

window-cleanerEspecially after  I checked the list of ingredients, no ammonia! no-amoniaIts a concentrate so this bottle will give me 25 gallons of cleaner for $1.99.  Can’t beat that!

You can tell by the mauve cap that this can of Woolite Upholstery cleaner has been around since the 80s. wooliteEven so, the $2.99 I paid was well spent, as I’ve used it on my car and home upholstery.

8 oz. of Formsby’s Furniture cleaner retails for $5.49. I got mine at Goodwill for $1.99furniture-cleaner

As a matter of fact this whole collection of cleaning supplies have Goodwill stickers on them. I wonder if that’s just a coincidence or if other thrifts don’t carry cleaning supplies.

I imagine I have thrifted other cleaning products too. These are just what’s in my supply closet at the moment.

The large supply of cleaning clothes you see in the background of my photos were once towels that I thrifted too.

Have you ever picked up bargain cleaning supplies from a thrift store?

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Book Report #2

I browse the book shelves while I’m thrifting. I seldom purchase books. I know from past experiences that book collecting can get out of hand. I do see things that I’d like to read, then I check the book out of the library. That was the case withimg_7581

This book was written for parents or teachers of small children.

The author encourages readers to give little children plenty of exposure to the natural world around us. Going through the seasons she points out what to look for and answers questions a child might pose.

I’m not a parent or teacher but I still gleaned several tidbits of information from it that I can use when I lead my Nature Walks.

Once again it is a small book, only 150 pages but I did read 2 books in January putting me ahead of schedule in goal of 12 books in 2017.

Which do you do most? Use the library?, or do buy books to keep in your personal collection?

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Resolution update

You already know I’ve been working on hats and mittens. green-being-cutIn addition to these I made 11 other hats.

img_7559I finished a tote bag too. After filling it with groceries I took it to the neighborhood food bank.

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Mega- Thrifting

I took advantage of the MLK day sales and spent the whole day thrifting. In 6 hours I traveled 35 mile, visited 10 stores and spent $49.06.

So what did I purchase?mlk-haul

I bought 4- 99 cent sweaters at Goodwill. 2 of them were donated to the Union Gospel Mission along with socks, emergency ponchos and shaving cream.for-ugm I recently saw a youtube video on upcycling sweaters into mittens. I used the green sweater to make 3 hats and 2pair of mittens. These also were donated to UGM.img_7551

Even though I don’t need any more polar fleece, I’m a sucker for a good deal. I picked up three pieces in colors that will compliment colors and patterns I already have. They were half price I HAD to get them.img_7497Arrow is 5 months old now and we have started Obedience School. One of the things we need for class is a Long Lead. I found a purse handle at St. Vincent de Paul for 50 cents that I sewed onto some webbing (from a previous thrifting excursion). They cost $35 retail, mine came to $1.50 and took an half hour at the most to make.leash-makins_7460She also got a toothbrush, tooth paste and a travel water dish.for-arrow

At the pet store tooth paste is $8.99 and the bowl is $3.99.

I kept a navy blue sweater for myself I also found a pair of pants,  NEW with tags originally marked $26.00. I paid $6.00.pants

In the near future I hope to make both pants and shorts from this bolt of light blue brushed denim $8.00, I COULDN’T pass it up. img_7476There’s probably enough fabric for a third project as well

As if it hadn’t already been a productive day I found 26 cents too. A quarter at Value Village and a penny at Goodwill.


Do you take advantage of SALE DAYS at the thrift stores?




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New Recipe #3 &4

Both of these bread recipes are from a book I picked up years ago at a thrift store. img_7552How Cooking Works is a wealth of helpful information (but I’m not going to try anymore recipes from it).

Recipe #3 Toasted Oat Breadimg_7542raisin-bread

The book claims this bread is “delicious plain or toasted with butter and jam”

I’d say it is tasty toasted with butter. I think jam would compete with the nut & raisin flavors. However the bread was VERY heavy. I doubt I’ll try it again.

Recipe #4 Applesauce Raisin Breadimg_7546applesauce-bread

I can’t rule out baker error but I think this recipe is printed wrong. I had to add extra applesauce to the  batter. Before I added the extra applesauce  the mixture was stiff like cookie dough, not the right consistency for a quick bread.  Even with almost double the applesauce the bread still has a dry crumbly texture. I did accomplish two goals;  I used Applesauce from the freezer as well as trying a new recipe.

Do you have a good Applesauce Bread recipe? I have plenty of applesauce to use up still.

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