Sunday, March 28, 2010

Peanut Chicken and Noodles

After a long weekend of doing yard work I didn't want to spend all night preparing a nice Sunday meal so I made one of our favorites. Peanut Chicken and Noodles. This recipe is so simple, it literally took all of 15 minutes to prepare plus I don't have to cook tomorrow! BONUS!!!!


So let's get started:
1/2 lb. (4 oz.) spaghetti, uncooked
1-1/2 cups snap peas
1/2 cup red pepper strips
1/2 cup Catalina or French Dressing
1 lb. (16 oz.) shredded chicken (I like to use rotisserie chicken)
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Cook the spaghetti as directed, add snap peas and red pepper to the water for the last few minutes of cooking time. While the spaghetti is doing its thing, heat the dressing in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry for a few minutes (like 1-3) and then add the peanut butter and soy sauce and stir-fry for 1 minute or until sauce gets thick. Once the spaghetti is done add it and the vegetables to the chicken mixture. Stir in the peanuts or sprinkle on top for presentation. And there you have it yummmmm!

Now seeing that I am never prepared and I am a spur of the moment cook, I didn't have spaghetti so I substituted the spaghetti noodles with Amish noodles (they are an egg pasta and much heartier than plain old spaghetti). I also did not have the vegetables but I think it was good without them.
Happy Cooking!!!
 Sammy Gene

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cents Make Sense

Now I wouldn't call myself a penny pincher, but I do like to get a good deal where I can. Over the past year I have found a joy in clipping coupons. Yes, it sometimes take time to clip, organize, and prepare the coupon folder but in the long run I find that it is way worth the effort. In the beginning I would save a few cents here and a few cents there but then I got really into it as if it were a game. My grocery story receipt breaks it all down and tells me the exact percentage I saved using my bonus card, coupons, and double coupons. Once I realized this I was hooked, plus big bonus, our store offers gas rewards so for every $50 spent, we save 20¢ per gallon of gas up to 30 gallons at one time. That adds up to $5 for every $50 we spend (we sometimes fill up my husband's gas guzzler for ZERO dollars)!!!! Back to the coupons – Last week I spent a total of $109.41 at the store, not bad for a family of two for two weeks right? Well let me tell you how much I saved – I walked out of the store paying $62.66, meaning I saved $46.75 (that's 43% of the total bill)! Now $46.75 in my book is well worth the time and effort of clipping and organizing coupons. A lot of people say that coupons aren't for the stuff I buy or coupons are the way name brands get people to buy their products, well I have a few tricks:

1.) Only buy name brands when you have a coupon and the item is one sale (doubling your savings off the bat).

2.) Think twice about how much the coupon is for. Yes the 60¢ coupon is not as good as the $1 one but if you get double coupons on anything less then 99¢ well then you are actually saving $1.20!

3.) Be flexible in the brands you buy. (Following #1 only buy an item when it is on sale and you have a coupon). Items such as yogurt flip flop from week to week on the brand that is for sale. Does it really matter if you get Yoplait or Dannon?

4.) Different newspapers have different coupons. I live in Maryland and the local paper has different coupons then the Washington Post has.

5.) Share- My co-workers and I have a system that we clip what we want and then share the rest. This works great because we all live in different areas and get different papers.

6.) Don't limit your savings to the grocery store only! I get coupons for everything and anything! Restaurants, home stores, auto repair, and the list goes on. We saved $250 on a shed we were planning to purchase because I had a coupon!

7) Printable Coupons - Stalk Coupon Mom, this website provides links to many other sites with printable coupons!

8) HAVE FUN… I like to make it a game!

Here are a few links I like to check out for extra savings:
Save $6.49 on Glade Products (EXPIRED)***
Tide Products
Pledge (EXPIRED)***
Arm & Hammer

I love to tell my hubby how much I saved and his quick response is always "how much did you spend!"

Happy Saving!

***Look for newer posts with new coupons!
Sammy Gene

Monday, March 22, 2010

All Business

I went to a business meeting on last week and it was the kind where you chit-chat and smooze. So I was working the room (hahaha yeah right) and the time came when I had to give someone my business card and out I pull a stack of cards held together with a binder clip. I felt kinda tacky in a weird way as I fumbled to unclip the cards. After that experience I started thinking about it and an idea just popped in my head when I was getting a piece of gum out of my desk drawer. Bam, it hit I could use the gum package as a template. After digging for awhile I found supplies that I had in my craft closet already.

Glue (spray and tacky)
Scrap of fabric
Hair tie
Something to measure with

First I took the gum package apart, very carefully, so it was laying flat. I used spray glue and sprayed the outside of the package and laid it flat on the material and placed a book on top for a few minutes to allow it to adhere and dry a bit.  Once I had the template and the material glued together I cut around the template leaving a ¼-inch overhang.

Then I used the tacky glue and glued the sides in and manipulated the corners where necessary. I did snip the tight corners in order to get a nice straight edge. I placed a book on top again and let it dry for a few more minutes.

 While giving the glue time to dry I cut a piece of fabric to line the inside flap in order to make the card holder look finished. My husband mentioned to me I should have stitched around the edge before gluing it back in the shape of the gum package and I think that was a good idea but that was after I already glued it together. So if you have the time run a stitch around the edge to help hold everything together and then glue the package back into the original shape.

You may have to hold it together for a few minutes to let the glue set. After letting the glue dry I added an eyelet in the center of the front flap.

Then thread a hair tie through and snip off the inside loop and singe the end to create a ball at the end so the tie cannot go back through the eyelet.

There you have it, a fashionable business card holder.

Just think you can make one for every season, holiday, or event you go to! This would also be a fashionable way to carry gum!! Remember it is a pack of gum no big loss if you have to try a few times.

Sammy Gene

Sunday, March 14, 2010

To Bolt or Not To Bolt

That is the question. I often find myself in the upholstery fabric clearance section of our local craft store thinking I really like this print but I don’t need any more pillows, curtains, or chair covers. So in the end I buy the bolt of fabric (because the print moves me), I mean come on at $3 a yard who wouldn’t. That leaves me to figure out how I am going to use the 3 yards I impulsively purchased.

That leads me to my next problem: I have the hardest time finding table cloths I really like. Either the clearance table cloths are the wrong size or UGLY and the in season ones are too expensive, and not always what I am looking for. I mean if I am going to pay upward from $20 for a table cloth I better like it. So with Spring/Easter coming up I thought this would be a perfect time to try my table cloth making skills. I mean come on, how hard can it really be? Typically rectangular or oval, ah piece of cake. So I decided to replace our “Spring” table cloth (it is faded from washing) in the dining room.

Now I cheated a bit on this one because the fabric that I am using has a checkered pattern so I had go-by lines and didn’t have to measure anything. I first started by laying out the checkered fabric. I then placed the table cloth on-top to get a good measurement of the length (see I am not one for actually measuring, I like to trace). I cut the checkered pattern to fit.

(Good thing my helper was there just in case a gust of wind came through the house!)

Next, I measured the seam at ¾-inch to allow enough room for the sewing machine foot to be guided by both the inside and outside lines. This allows for a consistent line down the whole side. If you are concerned about folding and sewing at the same time, just take a hot iron and put a crease to hold your fold. My suggestion would be to fold (and sew) both long sides first and then fold (and sew) the short sides so your corners all look the same.

After your long sides are folded you are ready to sew. Now I am not claiming that I am a sewing expert, but a helpful hint while at the machine is to push and pull at the same time, especially with a heavy fabric like this one. By pushing and pulling I mean have both hands on the fabric, one guiding on each side of the foot. This will prevent the fabric from getting all jammed up either going in or coming out from the under the foot. This also helps to make sure you seam is consistent and the fabric isn’t sliding out of place.

Now wasn’t that simple. Just a simple straight stitch and viola new table cloth for under $10!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Re-Store Your Lights

Do you ever get tired of the shiny contractor grade fixtures in your house? Well I have had it! They just don’t match my style, so I have taken it upon myself to correct the matter for as little cost as possible. This first item on my hit list… the vanity lights in our guest bathroom (after all this is the bathroom closest to my craft room). I really like the vanity just not the light fixtures!

After going to home store after home store looking for the perfect replacement lights to illuminate our guest bathroom I came up with one conclusion – It doesn’t exist. Well I guess I shouldn’t say it doesn’t exist, I should say it doesn’t exist in our budget. Yes I could go to a specialty shop and special order the perfect lights, however that comes with a high price. Now I am not saying that I won’t eventually take that step but I needed a quick (cheap) fix. So, after a bit of hunting I found the perfect replacement lights (globes included) at a Habitat ReStore. I have visited this shop for-a-cause on a few occasions usually to donate some items and then I drag my poor husband through the store until I have looked in every little corner(I wouldn’t want to miss the perfect refurbish). Now, with my love of refurbishing existing items, I was looking for globes that were different from the typical run of the mill home store version (our half bath has he only ones I liked and I don’t want every room to look the same). Well as luck would have it I found the perfect light fixture and globes in one piece (I liked the globes more then anything). Downside-IT’S WHITE. Upside-The whole light (fixture and globes) ONLY COST $6!! Now that is a steal! I did a little research once we made our big purchase and found the same exact light (chrome) at a home store and it cost wait for it… $49 (and that was with UGLY globes, new ones cost upward from $6 each)!!!!!! I think this was a GOOD purchase!

Let the modifications begin. First I started by removing the globes and covered the sockets with newspaper to prevent the paint from getting on the white portion of the socket.

Now for my big secret!! My new favorite item I cannot leave the home store without… CHALKBOARD SPRAY PAINT! Sounds odd to put this kind of paint on a light fixture however, the finish comes out flat and looks very similar to wrought iron. After prepping the fixture I moved on to the fun part… getting my spray on. I applied a few coats of paint to get full coverage.

After the fixture was fully covered in paint I moved onto the screws. Typically painting screws is not so easy, you know holding the screw and then you get paint all over your hand, I came up with the idea to stick the screws into Styrofoam and then paint!

And TaDa!!! New Vanity Lights!!

Connecting the fixtures to the wooden panel was easy, there was a nut that holds the fixture in place. I do have to admit my husband did do all the electrical work (he is a very handy man to have around). I really like how the lights turned out. They compliment the remodel very well. In total I spent approximately $12 ($6 on the light and $6 on the paint). Spray paint is my favorite quick (cheap) fix. Look for more spray paint fixes in blogs to come!

Sammy Gene Y