Thursday, April 30, 2009

Warm Nights Earrings

An unusual name for earrings. These pink crystal earrings look like something you would wear when the weather heats up. Wishful thinking on my part since the nights around here have dipped down to the mid 40 degree mark.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rosalyn Necklace

I had some silver that I shaped into circles for the purpose of forming a chain necklace. The silver was too thin a gauge too use for that purpose so I refashioned the loops into this delicate necklace. Turned out to be stronger than I thought. I named it Rosalyn in honor of the woman in the Shakespere plays (although the name is spelled differently) and for Rosalyn Carter - both are strong and delicate at the same time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to Make Your Own Tinted Moisturizer & More!

CBC Television has a show out of Toronto called, "Steven and Chris". These two fellows have a wide range of style and design tips. I have to admit I love their show. My favorite segment is at the end when they answer audience and viewer interior design questions. They actually tell you how to make your home gorgeous on a budget!

One segment explained how to make tinted moisturizer using:

1. foundation and
2. moisturizer with sunscreen

Mix one pump moisturizer with two pumps of your already existing foundation. Mix well and apply all over your face to even out the skin tone. How easy!

For more beauty saving tips like how to make your own liquid eyeliner, self-tanner, lip gloss, or eye brow gel, go to Steven and Chris' web site. All make-up tips courtesy of Sandy Gold.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Giant Tree Cut Down

Take a look at this giant tree stump. I was driving down a country road on Arbor Day when I suddenly saw this massive tree trunk cut into pieces. No idea what type of tree it was. I made certain when I had to return a couple days later that I had my camera with me for a photograph.

Bet this tree was around for over 100 years.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Free Walgreens Bag on 4/22/09

Print this coupon for a free Walgreens shopping bag AND 15% off eligible store items or 20% off Walgreens or W brand products.

Coupon is only valid on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

Want to reduce the amount of water spent on plants this summer? The answer is mulch. Want to reduce the amount of time spent weeding your garden or flower beds? Mulch. Want to promote healthy roots and a stress-free tree? Mulch.

Seems like mulch is the the cure-all for all your gardening woes. It can be if you use the right material. Mulch comes in many forms: wood chips, pine needles, pebbles, cocoa bean hulls, newspaper, wool batting, straw, hay, grass clippings, bark, sawdust, leaves, compost, cardboard, and plastic film. Each of these materials provides non-chemical weed control that blocks light from penetrating the soil and halting weed germination.

The first consideration is if you want to use organic or inorganic mulch. What's the difference? Organic materials can change the composition of your soil. This means you may have to amend the soil because as the organic mulch decomposes (and remember, we like the fact it breaks down into the soil), it may cause a nitrogen deficiency in your plants.

The most frugal amongst the mulch choices are using materials you have at your disposal. Here's a quick overview of the most popular selections.

If you have pine trees, the needles can be used effectively. This can also make your soil slightly acidic.

Most people have grass clippings. These are excellent if not used too thick. Heavy concentrations tend to mat and develop a unique odor. That's a nice way to say this stuff can stink up your yard. This can be solved by spreading the clippings on cement and letting the sun dry the lawn clippings before placing the material around plants. If you use herbicides on your lawn, avoid using clipping around vegetables for at least six weeks.

Leaves are abundant and can suppress weeds very well, especially shredded oak leaves. The oak leaves decompose slower than those of other trees. Again, oak leaves contain tanic acid that can affect your soil.

Wood chips seem harmless and do an excellent job controlling unwanted plants. They also harbor termites and earwigs so it's best to keep wood chips at least four to six inches away from your house's foundation. When using wood chips, make certain they are free from copper chromium arsenic (CCA). You don't want CCA near your vegetables or polluting ground water. CCA is considered to be a pesticide and is not usually available in commercially produced bagged mulch. (If your neighbor offers you wood chips from a deck they ripped up, pass that freebie up. Chances are it contains CCA) You'll need two to three inches of wood chips to smother unwanted weeds.

Sawdust can also have the same potential problems with CCA as wood chips. This material also acts like a sponge soaking up moisture and holding it. Best to steer clear from using this freebie.

Unless you live in an arid region, pebbles can do more harm than good to your ecoscape. The rocks hold and reflect heat. While the plants roots are cool, the leaves have a hard time surviving without shade and water. The stones radiating heat will cause delicate, thin leafs to wither quickly. Yuccas and cactus will thrive.

Cocoa bean hulls are an excellent mulch unless you have a dog. Pets might ingest the hulls. If hulls are eaten, contact your vet for treatment for Fido or Fluffy. Best to steer clear of this method if you are a pet owner.

Straw has lots of advantages. It has a cooling effect on the soil and can be tilled into the ground after the growing season. Straw can contain weed seeds. To avoid this, purchase clean, dry straw, preferably older straw. The older the straw, the fewer seeds it contains. Keep in mind that this material can provide a nesting ground for anthropods that refuse to leave after your plants have finished growing for the season.

Black or white plastic is effective in thwarting weeds. All plastic must have micropores or holes in several places to allow water to reach the plants roots. The black plastic version helps raise soil temperature, usually early in the growing season. White plastic reflects light and is primarily used later in the season to reflect light and help fruit ripen on plants such as tomatoes. Remember to remove the plastic after the growing season. Plastic too close to your home's foundation can help move rain away and in some cases keep water dangerously close to your structure resulting in damage. Use this product cautiously.

Wool is a unique product that suppresses weeds, lets water pass through and repels bugs. It's true that moths like wool, but remember that some plants require moths for pollinization. The only drawbacks are cost and birds trying to nest in the material. Wool batting is expensive compared to newsprint or cardboard.

Newspaper is the ideal mulch; it decomposes after a few years and reduces weeds in your garden. Use at least 6-10 sheets of dampened paper in plant beds. Because it is a lightweight material, you'll need another medium to place on top of the newspaper to keep the pages from blowing away. Compost works nicely and amends the soil.

Home Depot Earth Day Freebies

On April 19th, Home Depot is giving away up to 1 million CFL light bulbs and water-saving aerators for faucets. This is on a first-come basis, while supplies last.

Are You Tending Your Nest?

Each year, bird's decide to make nests in the maple tree in my backyard. Word must have gotten out in the aviary community that this was a good place to raise babies because this year there are three, count 'em, three nests so far.

I found two robin's nests in the maple and another robin's nest in the clematis. And they seem to have gone up overnight - which indicates I have a lot of nesting material in my yard, plenty of food and relative quiet. Eat your heart out EXTREME HOME MAKE-OVER.

What drew the bird's to my neighborhood is the same thing that draws families to make a home purchase; quiet neighborhood, good selection of homes, close to stores. Even though there are squirrels and cats galore, the bird's felt the location was relatively safe. If you get enough birds together, they will act as one mighty force chasing cats and squirrels out of the yard.

Cats are squirrels aren't the bird's only worries. There are predator birds to contend with. These opportunists take over a nest or eat the eggs. In nature, predators will always exist. It's the robin's job to safeguard their babies and keep a vigil over this ongoing threat, just as it's a parent's job to watch and teach their young.

While the bird's have been busy building, I have painted a few rooms, installed some molding and completed some big time grout cleaning on tile. It must finally be spring. What projects are you working on? Taxes? Home improvement? Self-improvement? Financial make-overs? Let me know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Veggies for Free!

With the cost of food rising more and more people are starting a garden - even Michelle Obama has gotten into the spirit and planted a garden at the White House with a group of children.

Go to any garden center or nursery and start adding up the cost to grow you own food and you might rethink the process.

I have some tips that will help you save a money and get expert, face-to-face advice for free. And we can all use free expert advice.

Most garden centers reduce seed packet prices after April 1st. Resist the urge to buy your seeds prior to April. Want to get even better prices? Buy seeds at the end of the season. Most seeds are good for one to three years if kept in a cool, dry place.

A more cost effective way to get seeds is to save seeds from plants you have grown or food you have eaten like red peppers or tomatoes. If you liked the food, set aside some seeds on a paper towel until the seeds are dry. Once the seeds have dried, place the seeds in a clean container and store in a cool, dry location. When you are ready to plant, (I plant in mid-April) sow the seeds in small containers of soil.

The easiest way to have enough containers for your seeds is to save yogurt cups or other small plastic food holders. If the container held food stuffs then it will be safe to grow a plant in that same container. Remember to create small drainage holes in any sealed container so your plants won't rot. Of course, you can always buy the expandable peat pots or large, plastic shallow seed flats with the clear plastic cover. Keep in mind that buying materials takes away from your bottom line savings.

Want to go all natural? Save the egg shells, rinse them, insert a small hole in the bottom of the shell and fill that with soil.

For my money, I save egg cartons and place moist potting soil in section. Once the soil is filled to the top of the individual container, make a hole and place the seed in the soil and cover with additional soil. Mark the outside of the carton with the name of the seeds you planted.

For instructions as to how to germinate the seeds, (if the plant germinates in light or dark for example) search your State's land grant college or university web site. I live in Michigan and MSU has an excellent horticulture program - many universities throughout the country share that distinction.

Want to talk to someone in person? Contact your county's horticulture extension service. These are the folks farmer's contact about insects and soil tests. They are also available to homeowners, apartment renter, or any citizen that wants to know the answer to questions like, "How do I get rid of grubs from my lawn" or, "Why do my tomatoes get black spots on the ends"?

Another great resource is a Master Gardener. Every county in the United States has a Master Gardener organization. Participants of the program have undergone intense education and volunteer activities and are available to help the general public with gardening and turf questions. (Full Disclosure: I am a Master Gardener)

Most people don't realize that their county extension office offers a wide range of information and experts ready and willing to help you succeed in your gardening adventure. And the best part is it's free!

Learn more about saving money and financial strategies at Wise Bread.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs

My friend Carol forwarded me her copy of the April, 2009 edition of the Ladies Home Journal magazine. On page 194 is an article on using food to color Easter Eggs. As soon as I read the piece I started gathering what was needed to bring this colorful show to life.

Use 2 tablespoons of Paprika (I used 3 tablespoons)

Use 1-1/2 cups of blueberries (I used one cup)

Use 1 cup of chopped, fresh beets

Use 1 cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons Turmeric

For each of the colors, add 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the food or spice mixture.

According to the magazine, bring the dye mixture (water, vinegar, food or spice) to a boil, remove from heat, cool and strain liquid into a medium bowl. (I recommend using a glass bowl or a plastic food storage container). Submerge 4-6 hard-boiled eggs in the dye for up to 30 minutes. The longer the eggs are in the mixture, the more intense the color will be. Remove and place colored egg on a cooling rack with newspaper or paper towel underneath to catch drips. You can store the eggs in the refrigerator up to a week until ready to use.

Here is the result of my orange and blue natural dyed Easter Eggs. I didn't have any vinegar on hand so the colors didn't adhere as deeply as I had hoped. Still, pretty vibrant for blueberries and paprika. Give it a try!

Walmart Deals

Went to Walmart this morning and found a few deals...

Kraft dressing, 16 oz. is $1.58 . There was a coupon for $1.50 off recently in the newspaper inserts, making the dressing 8 cents.

Also, Olay bath bars, 2 pack (shea butter) are $2.48. There was a coupon for $2.00 off ANY Olay body wash or soap (and something else). Look at the $2 Olay coupon and then read the fine print. This one has tax so the final price is $.48 plus tax. That's 63 cents for a 2 bar pack or 32 cents a bar.

Finally, SeaPak Shrimp Poppers are $1.32 (appetizer section-frozen foods). There was a coupon in a couple Ladies Magazines - Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, RedBook, etc. - for $1.00 any SeaPak product. That's 32 cents after coupon.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Barilla Piccolini at Meijer

How would you like to get one pound of quality pasta for 29 cents? It can be done at Meijer.

In the ad section of the 3/29/09 newspaper insert, there was a coupon for 50 cents off Barilla Piccolini pasta. Meijer has the mini bow-tie pasta for $1.29. The coupon doubles at Meijer so the final cost is - drum roll - 29 cents!

This deal is not part of any ad, it's the everyday low price.