Save some time and commune with your chair

Ever have one of those days when you just don’t want to do anything at all?  You just want to crash into your comfy chair and command the remote?  Yet, you have to walk the dog, cook meals, do the laundry, clean the kitchen, whatever it is that is required of you.  Sometimes, being thrifty isn’t only about being a tightwad, much as I am one of those.  Often (well, usually!) I try to save time and energy on the things I need to do (so that I can waste it some other way).  I like to challenge myself to see if I can do things faster or more efficiently.  Mostly, I love my chair and I want to commune with it some more.

While I am thrifty with my skimpy cash, I also look for ways to save the time I have.  I want more time to bead, or even watch my recordings on the DVR.  Or Skype with my girlfriends.  Even just hug the hubby and pet the dogs.  Sometimes it’s using the slow cooker that works, sometimes I even use convenience foods (yes, even though they might cost more – but much more on that on another day).  Suffice it to say, there are many ways to be frugal, and not all of them are with your money.  Here is one idea to save you some time:

Quick Chicken and Noodles with Mashed Potatoes*

2 cans condensed reduced fat, reduced sodium cream of chicken soup

1 soup can lowfat milk

2 10.5-ounce cans chicken with broth

1/2 tsp dill weed (optional)

1 12-ounce bag noodles

1 container precooked mashed potatoes, such as Bob Evans

In a large saucepan, combine the soup and milk, stir to combine well.  Add chicken and stir gently; add dill weed and warm over low heat (do not boil).

Meanwhile, cook noodles and mashed potatoes according to package directions.  Drain noodles and add to chicken mixture; heat through over low heat.

Serve over hot mashed potatoes.  Serves 4-6.

*yes, two starches is a tradition in our area – combining noodles and potatoes with chicken and gravy

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Brrrr, it’s chilly out there! Icicles and snow ice cream, anyone?

Ahh, winter.  Crisp, cold air, pristine white snow, icicles reflecting the morning sun.  I remember our snow when I was growing up in Michigan being so high that we could actually reach up and pull off icicles from our roofline and eat them as popcicles.  Unsanitary?  Toxic?  Perhaps that’s my problem…lol  Hopefully those icicles are hanging from trees and not your eaves.

Icicles forming from your soffits (without the presence of the fast melts and refreezes with rapid temperature changes) are a sure sign of insulation problems in your attic.  Lovely as they are, they are a dangerous sign that your insulation has pulled from the roofline or that it is insufficient altogether.  They are dangerous in that when they become unstable as they thaw, they can fall and injure someone.   If maiming or killing someone doesn’t bother you, perhaps your insurance deductible (and rising rates) after a claim will, when someone is struck by a falling icicle.  Add enough insulation to prevent heat loss through your attic or roof space and icicles will stop forming there.

What, you don’t find insulation fun and interesting?  Then how’s this:  instead of playing with icicles, how about sending the kids out for a big bowl of clean, fluffy, fresh-fallen snow to make ice cream.  No kids?  Set a bowl out to collect the falling snow – wait until the snow has been falling for at least a half hour or so to ensure it’s free of contamination.  Resist the temptation to dump a shovelful of snow into the bowl.  Those dirty specks (or worse) will not fool anyone into thinking it’s anything other than plain vanilla flavor or anything besides dirt.  Use your noodle and get clean snow with clean utensils.   If you are using a metal bowl, it will chill faster.   Once filled, move smartly back to combine ingredients, then chill in the freezer for a short time until ice cream is firmed throughout.   Yummy!

Snow Ice Cream
1 c. Half & Half
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp real (pure) vanilla extract
dash of salt
5 c. of fresh, clean snow

Combine all ingredients, firm up in the freezer, enjoy (yes, you can skip the second step)!

This is an inexpensive frozen treat for the “chillrens,” and only takes up minimal freezer space for approximately 10 minutes .  They will be chilled when they come in from collecting the snow for you, so come back again for more recipes to help keep them busy on snow days!

Thrifty Tip for Today:  Check your vanilla extract label for corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup.  Odd that it would be included in even Pure Vanilla Extract, sometimes it is.  Usually, the “pure” varieties are rather more expensive and contain exotic additional ingredients that to me have no place in a a jar of pure vanilla extract.  Still, they are there.  Choose your vanilla from those with vanilla as the first ingredient and get your money’s worth.  Additionally, compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges.  Prices between types vary, so be sure you are buying the least expensive among pure vanillas without the icky stuff.

Hi! Welcome to my new blog, a fun home for frugal friendlies of a crafty nature!

Yeps. It's me.

Hello, and thanks for visiting my first post of Thrifty Soul!  In it, I am hoping to not only share some pearls of a hard-gained thriftster (some might call it cheapskate-in-residence), but occasionally combine it with fun things to actually do.  Once in a while, I might even toss out an idea or two for making a few extra bucks to feed the fees (be they craft costs, the envelope in the mattress, or god forbid, bank fees).  Sometimes, you might end up hearing stories of Marbles and His Marvelous Tail, if my dog has done something so extraordinarily interesting.

I hope you will take the time to comment, especially if it’s ideas for future entries or projects to try.  REAL ways to make a little spare cash, such as postings of craft shows within reason, are welcome, spammers are NOT.  Spammers are NOT welcome and will be offered lodgings over an open pit of pit vipers.  My mouse hovers over the block button.  Trolls will be fed to my pet dragon, Sparky.  He loves trolls.  I can’t afford to feed him high-speed dragon food from PetsWag.

Other bloggers, please make yourself at home.  The coffee is usually on.  It might be instant.  For coffee purists, until recently, I was a snob about instant and would never let it cross my lips.  However, I love Starbucks Via…mocha is my favorite!.  Your Thrifty Tip for today:  for one 12-ounce mug, i have found that if I fill a 1/8 measuring cup halfway with the Via powder and top it off with the “International” Suisse Mocha Cafe mix, I can reduce the cost of the beverage significantly and actually add a bit of the cocoa flavor I crave, as well.  Still with only about 60 calories per 8-oz cup (I am also trying to control my calories – you’ll likely hear a little of that, too, sadly, but I’ll save it for later).

I’m a stay-at-home for the most part, although I do pick up independent jobs now and then.  I am a regular beader and jewelry maker with a site on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/JustLovelyJewelry).  I also have one on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/pawscharming) that is open and designed to generate donations to pet charities in my area, but it is under construction at the moment with just one necklace available.  I have a miracle stroke survivor for a husband and two dogs, a Maltese named “Marbles” and a black lab named…wait for it….”Buddy” at home.  Up and out are:  4 kids, 8 grandkids, and a burgeoning assortment of extremely entertaining great-grandkids (currently, the count is at 9).  After many years spent in the Army, wonderful Hubby and I moved around a bit until our antsy feet were able to slow down and we now live in his hometown in northern Indiana.  It’s a change for me, as I grew up in a very large General Motors city (known as Buicktown), and this is rather rural.

I also have a smattering of spinal disorders, undoubtedly either stemming from or aggravated by my time in service, and crafting helps pass the time when I can’t do much else.  Wondering why my floors aren’t vacuumed?  I have a good excuse!  I do, I really do!  LOL!

All this said, I’ve bored you enough with me, so that’s enough for today, and you can move on to your nap now.   Thanks for stopping by!  See?  You just spent a couple of minutes and paid nothing, leaving with your first Thrifty Tip!  Thrrrrrifty! 🙂