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Posts Tagged ‘frugal tips’

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Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so why not pass on getting sucked into the commercial hype of it all and show your love with a unique breakfast treat.

This looks great just out of the oven and tastes even better. I adapted this slightly from a recipe given to me by Mary Wallgren, from the Idaho branch of my mom’s family.

You will need a blender and also a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have the skillet, perhaps you should? Next thing you know you will be making frittatas and oven-fried chicken.

If you are really frugal, pick up a grotty cast skillet at Value Village and recondition it. There are instruction for this process on-line. It is a bit of a dirty job.

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

2 apples, peeled,cored, sliced
2 T brown sugar
2 T butter or margerine
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

Batter:

3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp orange peel zest (optional)
3/4 cup milk

3 T butter or margerine
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

METHOD

In a bowl, stir together apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon juice until apples are coated.

Melt 2 T butter or margerine in a regular skillet on the stove top, add apples and saute until apples are tender – at least 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set this skillet aside for now.

Place your 11 inch cast iron skillet into cold oven, and set to 400 degrees.

Now, into blender put your three eggs, and blend really well.
Reduce blender to low speed. Add flour, salt, granulated sugar and orange zest.
Then slowly add milk.
Stop blender and scrape down sides to ensure all flour is being combined.
Blend again for one minute.

Carefully remove cast skillet from oven using two oven mitts.
Place on cold stove top and add 3 T butter or margerine, moving it around with a spatula until melted but not browned. Carefully add batter from blender, then distribute cinnamon sugar apples on top and return to oven using two oven mitts. Bake 25 minutes, until edges are puffed and brown. Test centre with finger to ensure fully cooked.

Dust with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup.
Caution: Don’t forget and touch the pan. Hot!

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Second bathroom is taking shape. Never a moment to blog it, but here is a sneak peak at our new master bath.

BEFORE

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AND AFTER…

bathroom redo

Everything you see in this picture was a smashing deal. Tub was a floor model marked down 75% and included taps and all the plumbing parts necessary for install – the latter often priced separately and the former always!

Tile was discounted¬†and Jenn Brown’s recommended tile installer did a fantastic job at a terrific price – though we had to wait weeks to get on his work schedule.

That fabulous barn board floor? Vinyl, my friend. Warm, soft on the feet, water proof and easy-care. I found it at NuFloors at $4.69/sq. foot. Jenn Brown found it elsewhere for $3.29/sq. foot.

The art work was 20% off and then a further 50% off that. The vase also 75% off. Full disclosure: These were my picks so if you don’t like them, its my taste you despise.

Moral of the story: It simply takes a little longer to pull it together when trying to get what you want and a deal.

Everything has been operational since a few days before Christmas, but we continue to work away at mouldings, paint touch ups and other final details. I keep waiting and hoping I will find a spectacular deal on a tall, 300 watt towel warmer, but will soon give up on this dream and just order one. You can’t rush it, but sometimes you need to be finished.

Once I find the right frame for a particular photo, I will post Before and Afters of the third bathroom.

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Its tough to find time to blog when you are trying to move a project along and tend to the business of work and family at the same time. I’d hoped to post pictures as we progressed, but here, in short, is the first bathroom we demo’d, in its new glory.

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Only missing is the back splash tile, which will be installed in few weeks, when we will have a few jobs for the tile layer to complete at once.

I had some professional help with this, by way of a friend who is a professional designer: Jenn Brown Interiors

Most importantly, she gave me the kick-start I needed. I just didn’t know where to start, and so she arrived with a ton of samples and helped me clarify needs vs. desires, priorities and a vision of the style we wanted.

Our family home is simply that. It is full of the stuff of our lives and will never look like a magazine house, nor would we want it to. We live here, and have done for two decades, so things get worn, and even when we can keep up with repairs and touch ups, things get messy and sometimes just plain dirty. We love our pets, but they take a toll on things as well. So we were looking for an update to our old pink bathrooms that incorporated practical solutions for better organization; reduced visual clutter, and easy clean and hard wearing surfaces. And a reasonable price point, of course. Because we are frugal.

And so far I would say we are hitting it out of the park in terms of getting what we want and need.
One of the nice things about Jenn is that she listens well. If you want her to just design and create a new space for you, she will do it. But we wanted to make our own choices and do a lot of the work ourselves. It gives us a great sense of satisfaction when it works out, and we learn stuff when it doesn’t. She was able to go with the flow, and our rather slow pace.

She knows a lot about various products, and was especially helpful at things like picking out tile, which is, frankly, overwhelming. She is also a very frugal person, and knows lots of ways to get a great look for less. Her fees were easily offset, in my view, in savings that directly resulted from her advice and product sourcing. So a great value and highly recommended.

Now that we are well on our way, we are mostly using her as an occasional resource, and for referrals to trades people she has used and trusts. Once our bathroom projects are completed, I’m going to enlist her advice to refresh our bedroom and the front hallway, and maybe re-stage our living room too. Project creep!

More and better photos, information about the products we chose (and why) and a rough cost break down for this first bathroom to follow shortly.

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When I dug out the septic access a few weeks ago in preparation for a visit from the honeywagon, I found that the hole had last been filled with loose debris, including rotting wood and bits of foam insulation.

Digging out the septic tank access

Digging out the septic tank access

We were going to have a riser installed to make the tank easily accessible for future pumps – until we priced it out: Adapter ring: $60; two twelve inch risers: $85 EACH; a $50 lid and the labour at $50/hour PLUS the cost of the pumping and disposal – priced separately. This was going to be a $600 plus operation.

Instead, I dug it out – and Miles from Bonniebrook Services (home of the Poo Pirates marine septic service!) helped out when it turned out I hadn’t dug quite far enough. After the pump truck had gone, Cottager and I put our heads together and figured out this home made fix that cost $30 and took about 90 minutes to fabricate and install. Its just a strong wooden box, built to fit, that exactly fills the space between the tank and the gravel courtyard. Yep, that simple.

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift out the box.

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift the lid off the box.

The next hole to tackle was one built into the deck where bamboo had been planted long ago and gone out of control. I trimmed the bamboo down, pried away the rotten wood frame and screen it had been growing through, then cut the bamboo down to the ground and carefully applied a lethal dose of herbicide into the open stalks. Sadly, short of taking up our whole deck, there was no other way.

This bamboo has got to go.

This bamboo has got to go.

Then cottager cut some planks to fit the hole. Not a perfect fix, but once I power wash the deck and re-stain it, it will be invisible but still give us access to the space under the deck. I will put a climbing plant of some sort in a large pot in this location. The running bamboo will likely need some further intervention, but this is a start.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

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Trellis-Style Gate Repair

Trellis-Style Gate Repair

A good friend and neighbour of ours enjoys spending a few days with his son at Keats View during school holidays and they always leave things better than they found them. Over Spring Break they noticed that one of the gates was off kilter and sagging badly. As a result the gate didn’t swing smoothly and it had to be hoisted up in order to secure the bolt. The gate hangs on a post attached to the boundary fence and the sagginess was actually in the fence.

So here is the nice solution they came up with. The fence is now straight and stabilized; the gate hangs straight and swings smoothly and a short extender allows the bolt to work properly.

In addition, I have a new trellis-like structure to support some kind of climbing plant – get me to a nursery!

I plan to stain the gate’s frame and the post and top bar of the trellis brown to match the railings. Add that climbing plant and some spring sunshine and it will look terrific. Thanks guys!

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When we married, I drew out a Shaker style design for a queen size bed, and Cottager made it up for us. I loved the bed but once we had two squirming toddlers squeezing in with us on weekend mornings we upsized to a king mattress and the Shaker bed went into storage. We initially set it up at the cottage, but the full box frame was a space killer in either of our small bedrooms here, so as it stands, only the headboard remains in use at Keats View.

The side rails of that bed were 2×10 fir planks. I saved those and – two years ago- drew up a plan to convert them to a console table for the cottage. Twenty-plus years into our marriage, the Cottager fulfills my whims with slightly less alacrity than in earlier days. And that is why this console table took six hours plus two years to create.

If I had a brownie for every time we discussed this project since I first raised it, I’d be pleasantly plump. A few weeks ago, Cottager stumbled on a plan for a table base that incorporates schedule 9, 1 inch (ID) steel pipe and cast fittings. Suddenly, I had buy in. And now I’m blogging from my new table at the cottage. When you see what it replaced, you will understand why I was so (unreasonably?) impatient.

The pipe and fittings cost $90 including custom cutting and threading at Pipeco in Chilliwack, which is a contractors supplier that considers no job too small. Just add one can Tremclad flat black primer. (Important note: the pipe has a greasy coating that must be removed with solvent before spray painting.) So for about $100 this definitely qualifies as a frugal project.

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The ugly ugly table I had to wait years to replace.

The ugly ugly table I had to wait years to replace.

The new table.  I love it.  For breakfast and the news, for writing, for everything. Thanks Cottager.

The new table. I love it.
For breakfast and the news, for writing, for everything. Thanks Cottager.

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Beach glass pendant in a jiffy

Beach glass pendants in a jiffy

I love to collect beach glass because I am a ‘hurry up’ person and this forces me to slow down and pay attention. It is like a walking form of meditation. And so I have lots. Cups full, in fact.

And though I like being crafty, my talents are not great and my patience (see above) is still less. These pendants require little skill or patience. My first one turned out well, in about 30 minutes.

My first effort and still my favourite

My first effort and still my favourite

What is required is this plier set which I found at Michael’s for 16$. It includes side cutters. Also includes round pliers, which you start with to make the bail.

Just add beach glass

Just add beach glass

The wire is 20 or 22 gauge shiny wire -my spool said “ideal for wire wrapping” so that was helpful.

White glass gives the nicest results. It is harder to make a piece of beer or 7-Up bottle look really nice, but I might use those bits, along with some larger beads, to make wine glass charms.

Here is a link to a free photo tutorial you can download.
(Disclosure – I did not follow this, I just looked at the pictures and gave it a go.)

Looks like a fun project for the next Crumpet club. Maybe I can get the Crumpets to whip up all my Christmas presents for me again?

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