Monday, December 30, 2013

Coupon/Deal Shopping

Had a pretty good shopping day today. All totaled, everything only cost me about $5.00.

Back at Thanksgiving I had earned a free $50.00 reward at CVS for doing a pre-paid debit card deal.
Everything in the picture ended up costing $48.73, so it was actually Free, considering the free $50.00 reward I had earned.

If you're interested in learning more, I did the break down at my Shopping Blog.

I've talked here before about how Kmart gives me free money with Shop Your Way points. I tend to forget sometimes that Sears is also a part of Shop Your Way.

This week I got 10,000 "Surprise" points, which is equal to $10.00, to be spent at Sears.

These boots were on sale for $9.99, so I got them for absolutely free. Didn't even have to pay tax.

Lowe's sent a coupon in the mail for a free 8oz. sample of Valspar paint. Great for crafty projects.

Sam's Club sent a coupon for a free $5.00 gift card. I used it towards a 25lb bag of sugar, making my cost $5.19 + 20¢ tax, or about 22¢ a pound.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cash and Gift Card Gifts

This year I decided to give my oldest son and his fiance' a mix of gift cards and spendy cash for Christmas.

But just handing them an envelope to open is no fun. Appreciated yes, but still not fun. And if there's one thing I know my kid enjoys, it's opening presents.

So here's how I made it fun and gave them presents to open.

"Oh, how cute, a puppy calendar" (from the Dollar Tree)

With Eats and Treats taped to the back.

(They really were appreciative of the calendar itself and I believe would have liked it even without all the gift cards taped on the back.)

I don't think they were too sure what to make of the Soda Pop Scented bubbles, though, haha.

Until they found the Walmart gift card taped to the back.

They had opened this one first and had no idea it was anything but a nice candy dish filled with peppermints.

After opening the calendar and bubbles, and also (not pictured) a Sock Monkey holding a Kroger (grocery store) gift card and an Amazon gift card (that's idea didn't work out, so I had to just put it in a gift bag), I told them they might want to re-visit the candy dish.

Life is like a box of chocolates....

You never know what you're going to get.

I had seen (saw?) an idea of making a gift of money-related candies, but I wasn't sure how to include the actual money, so I just stuck it in Santa money-holder cards.

Tossed it all in a box lined with gold tissue paper.

For this one I bought a bag of water balloons, there were 30 in the bag, so I got 30 one-dollar-bills and we rolled them up and put one in each balloon.

And they laughed

And laughed

I've seen them smile, and grin, and be happy and appreciative. But this was different.

They got such a kick out of their little treasure discoveries, such enjoyment. We were all tickled watching them.

Friday, December 27, 2013


 Christmas 2013

 Other than Christmas Eve day, which is the day my family always has Christmas Dinner, our Christmas plans were kinda up in the air.  Back at Thanksgiving my Cousin had mentioned having something at her house on Christmas Day, but then I didn't hear anything else about it. Unless he's already on shift or had scheduled a trade, we generally don't know if John's going to be working Christmas Day or not.
So when my oldest son called to ask our plans so they could make plans with his fiancee's family, we ended up planning a Family Dinner the Sunday before Christmas.

The day was a perfect Christmas-y day. We usually don't get snow for Christmas, so the next best thing is dark, overcast, and rainy. Perfect for lamp light, and the Christmas lights on the mantle and tree glowed so pretty.

For Dinner we cooked a ham, and had potato salad, creamed corn, sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce.

D and T opened their gifts, but the rest of us were waiting until Christmas.

Other than her outfit and his sleep shorts and some stocking stuffers, I mostly gave them gift cards and money. They needed money more than more stuff, and I didn't know what kind of stuff to buy them anyway.  Dirt poor as they are, they still seem to have everything they need and then some.

I didn't just give them gift cards and money, I made it interesting, and it went over really well. They got such a kick out of it.  I'll make a separate post about it next.

The next day, John suggests that since he might likely be working on Christmas, maybe we should go ahead and do some gift opening.

We opened some, but I wanted the boys to still have something to open on Christmas even if John wasn't home, and there was still a chance he might be home on Christmas and would have something to open, too. Otherwise, he could open the rest of his the day after.

John had to work Christmas Eve day, and Ryan had to work Christmas Eve night so he slept all day. So it was just me and Kev for the day. We picked up Aunt R and headed to Aunt D's for the day.

There wasn't many of us this year, but to be honest, I think that's probably a good thing. We had a yummy dinner of ham and many sides and lots of delicious desserts.

We don't really do a prescribed gift thing here. Some of us bring some little things for my Cousin's boys and each other if we find or make something we want to give. It's neither a requirement or competition to match or out-gift the other, and I think that's awesome.

Turned out J ended up not having to work on Christmas Day afterall.

We opened the rest of our gifts, he made me cry, we ate leftover ham and sides from Sunday...and that was pretty much the end of Christmas 2013.

Fishing Bobber Floating Cooler, haha, how redneck is that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Wreath & Mantle Decor

Back in the Fall and Halloween, I had a Fall'ish-looking-colored painting hanging over the kitchen fireplace. But when I took it down for Christmas decorating, I didn't have anything readily to hang in it's place.
I decided I needed a wreath, but I didn't already have a Christmas wreath (oddly), and I didn't want to buy one. So, I needed to make one.

I asked J to cut me some Pine limbs when he was in the woods deer hunting (oddly also, we don't have any Pines in our yard), but both the two times he went hunting after that, he got a deer and forgot to get my limbs.
But it worked out okay because we had to take some limbs off the bottom of our Christmas tree anyway.

First I bent a clothes hanger into a circle....ish. I used a small, pants hanger, so my wreath came out smaller than I intended.

I never made a wreath before, so I read some websites and blogs.
Basically I grouped about three branches together and tied it on the hanger with twine, then added another bunch of branches on top of the first bunch but a few inches lower...
Sorry, I'm terrible at giving instructions on this.

Also sorry for no pictures during the making, I was trying to hold onto the hanger, branches, and twine, and attempting to avoid getting my hands poked to death.

But here's my first wreath creation. Not too awful bad, I don't think.

And here it is hanging over the mantle.

I may add some ribbon or ornaments or something to dress it up a little more.

Friday, December 13, 2013

DIY Reese's Trees

My family loves Reese's peanut butter candy... I don't love the price of them. I can get fairly good deals on the bags of Reese's miniatures with sales/coupon deals, but the bags of Trees only come with a few in the package and make me feel like I'm not getting my money's worth.

Back in the Spring at Easter I found out I could make homemade Reese's candy using items I already have at home and all of which I got cheap by shopping sales and using coupons.

This recipe comes from the Brown Eyed Baker.

In a saucepan combine 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used whatever I Can't Believe It's Not Butter was in my fridge), and 1/4 cup light brown sugar.

Heat until completely melted and starting to bubble a little bit, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add 1 and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring it in well.

You should end up with a doughy mixture.

Pinch out small chunks of the mixture to shape into - whatever you're making, Reese eggs, or in this case trees.

My first attempt at shaping out a tree didn't work so well, haha.

I ended up shaping out triangles and adding a small block at the bottom.

Put the trees into the refrigerator to set while you melt a bag of milk chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the microwave or a double boiler. (I still do it the old fashion way, double-boiler.)

Dip and flip the trees in the melted chocolate, tap off and return to fridge to harden.

I had a little melted chocolate left in the pan so I dipped some mini pretzels to use it up.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

911 Dispatcher Ornaments

Edited to Add: If you're interested in these ornaments but don't have the time or ability to make them yourself, I have some for sale in my Etsy store, Nine7Sycamore. 
I can also take special orders for variations of the ones in the Store as far as faces, eyes, and charm (based on availabilty). 
Ask for discount on larger quantity orders.

Remember my fire truck & ambulance Christmas tree ornaments from last year?

Here is another super-duper easy ornament I came up with. (This apparently only happens once a year, lol.)

I was looking for ideas to make a little token prezzie to put under the Christmas tree for my son Ryan's co-workers at 911.
When I searched for 911 dispatcher ornaments all I really saw was some disk type ornament, plain and not very cute.
Eventually I had settled on just painting something like "P___ County 911" on a colored Christmas tree Ball.

Then last night I was looking around on the 'net some more, at Christmas ball ornament crafts in general, and saw Snowmen ones. Some were wearing little toboggans, but some were wearing ear muffs, and that's where I got the idea of Christmas ball ornaments wearing headsets.

I glued the pipe cleaner "headset" on first. Just one pipe cleaner, threaded through the ornament loop at the top. I hot glued both the right and left sides across from the other.  I hot glued a small black pom-pom on one side right on top of the pipe cleaner.
I brought the pipe cleaner on around and cut it off after a few inches, then curled the end of it around to make it look like a small microphone of sorts.

I didn't glue it down because it's supposed to be out in front of the mouth/face.

Next I painted some facial features on.

We plan to write/paint some kind of personalization on the back side, but I'm not sure yet what it'll say.

Also check out 911 Dispatcher Ornaments, Vol 2014.