Shhhh, save a few bucks on flowers for your Valentine! We won’t tell!

OK, Guys, Hello.  Guys?  Dink, Dink!  HELL-O!  Yeah, men, I’m talkin’ to you today, ’cause you don’t have a lot of time left to think up your Valentine’s Day plans for your Sweetie.  You can’t forget about it and get away with it, considering all the advertising on television, in magazines and newspapers, even on radio for all those dozens of roses and accompanying chocolates.  $19.99 for a dozen roses at Proflowers with a TV coupon code, you say?  Pretty attractive price, right?  See and hear the fine print, and add the shipping, which in this example runs a low, low $9.99 plus an extra $4.99 for Valentine’s Day delivery, plus all the other tiny little fees, and you end up with this:

Order Total

One Dozen Rainbow Valentine’s Day Roses + 12 FREE $39.98:        $29.98

Large Ginger:   Free!

Standard Delivery        $9.99

Guaranteed Valentine’s Day Delivery  $4.99

Care & Handling          $2.99

Tax:     $3.36

TOTAL:           $51.31

The advertised discount code didn’t work so I was unable to get the $19.99 price.  However, I did get both $10 off the regular price and another dozen free – wow – plus a free “standard” ginger jar, which is clear.  Other vase styles were available – for additional charges, of course.  These aren’t long-stemmed, either.  They are the shorter version, which will probably still make your sweetheart swoon nicely.  The chocolates were 6/$9.99.  You can see how such a low, low advertised price can turn into a major expense fast.

There were a myriad of other possible charges:

Guaranteed Valentine’s Day Delivery

From $4.99 to $9.99

Monday Delivery

From $4.99 to $9.99

Saturday Delivery

$9.99

Rush Delivery

From $4.99 to $9.99

Morning Delivery

$14.99

Alaska/Hawaii Delivery

$19.99

“Care and Handling???”

And I hope you don’t mind your posies presented in the afternoon, Tuesday through Friday.  And not in a rush.  Oops, Valentine’s Day is a Tuesday….and for Proflowers, even the day before Valentine’s day resulted in an additional charge, unless you were okay with “flexible delivery,” meaning your blossoms could be delivered either Valentine’s Day or the day before.

So how do you save money and still get your sweetie some stems?  Thought you’d never ask!  If you must use a long-distance delivery service, I suggest going online to find a Teleflora or FTD arrangement you like the appearance of, then finding the telephone number of a florist near your honey with an online directory such as www.yellowpages.com.  Or, simply key “florists in <your desired location>” into your search engine and see what it comes up with.  Then, call directly.  Describe the arrangement or give the title and the price you are willing to pay for “something similar to but not necessarily the same as.”  The florist won’t have to pay the franchise fees to the service and you’ll reap the savings.  Remember, though, that if it comes with a special vase or accompaniment, you might not have access to it without paying those fees.  Florists can’t make trademarked arrangements unless they pay the services for their use.  You can also give the florist a free hand – they are trained in making creative arrangements, and your recipient will end up with a less commonplace look for their lovelies.

Shop owners appreciate not having to pay fees to such services, as customers are disappointed when they receive less for their money – and prices for flowers have risen with everything else.  When you call a florist directly with a good idea of what you want to send or the title of a similar arrangement, they can make up something fabulous within the budget you’ve set and deliver – sometimes for free – your sentiment to your Valentine without intermediaries.  So get on the stick and call them directly, ’cause you are running out of time!

Today’s Thrifty Tip:  to keep your flowers fresher longer when you don’t have those handy packets of preservative,  use this recipe to make your own mix:  combine  2 tablespoons white vinegar,  2 tablespoons sugar,  1/2 teaspoon household chlorine bleach, 1 quart warm water.  Change the mixture every 3 to 4 days to keep blooms fresher longer.  Be sure to remove any leaves below the water line.

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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

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! 🙂