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Archive for November, 2012

Soup and Pearls - Together with A Recipe

November 28th, 2012 at 08:34 pm

How many of you make home made soup? It's super easy, inexpensive, and very healthy! I was even surprised by my usually silent teen that he wanted it for dinner. Next time you bake a whole chicken or roast a turkey, make soup. I'll share my secret recipes below.

Another goody? I've lowered the price on a pair of unusual, artful pearl earrings. They are now a very affordable cost at way under $10!

Red Wave Wire and Pearly White Earrings
Double curves of wire end in nice fat white pearls. Lots of detail in the many tiny red glass beads wired in line.



One of a kind, original design by The Frugal Artisan (that's me!). Good for the person who makes a point of having a personal style.

See more detail
here

The Frugal Artisan Gives Chase to Winter's Chill
Two easy steps:

Step 1. Stock
Ingredients:
chicken or turkey bones
o remove most of the meat
o if a whole carcass is not available, use the
giblets from a chicken (ie neck, organs)
that come in the package
o old vegetables you might otherwise discard
such as carrots, celery leaves, onion
(this is the perfect time to save on food costs)
o spices, optional (bay leaf, rosemary sprig,
whole pepper)

Prepare:
Place the poultry items and vegetables in a big pot and cover with water, more for larger birds, less for only poultry parts. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for a couple hours.

Remove from heat and strain liquid. Remove any good meat and save for step 2. Discard the bones, organs, vegetables and spices.

Step 2. Noodle Soup
Ingredients:
4 C stock
Meat bits from Step 1 above
Egg noodles, 2 C cooked per package instructions
mixed vegetables, 1 can
- or -
fresh vegetables, 1 C steamed (such as peas, diced carrot)
potato, 2 medium red or white baked and diced
salt
pepper

Prepare:
Add the meat, noodles, vegetables to stock and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Warm through and serve with crusty bread.

THAT'S IT! Guaranteed to please even a teen.

Secret to Success? A Ring

November 19th, 2012 at 06:08 pm

Good to see the LA Times Sunday paper report people will be buying increased Made in USA gifts. Happy to say this was in the business section, not the lifestyle section, a sign to me that the mindset is more serious and less a trend. Perhaps the broken record chorus of 'patronize small business' and 'keep it local' is sinking into the public conscious!! Here's the Red White and Blue Christmas article.

Seems to match my reality last Saturday! I have picked and chosen special events to sell my handmade jewelry and accessories carefully over the past five years. Dropping the shows that are marketed weaker, or tend toward lower priced wares, or are too expensive for me as a seller.

So this year I am participating in 4 shows only, 2 that I do not need to be present and 2 that I do need to be present.

The second show of the year was on Saturday, a relative new kid on the block event. It was put on by our small but good quality small town museum. Scheduled for Saturday afternoon only, a 3 hour period. I agreed to have a table because it would be a new customer base and the atmosphere would probably be a bit higher end than the usual home/church boutique crowd.

I hoped the museum had a loyal following or at least a built-in crowd who would be going to their exhibits anyway, but it was a gamble because the location is a tad off the main pedestrian track. I also would not know how many other jewelry tables would be there (first come first served policy). Sometimes there is a glut of jewelry which results in turning off the customers. This was only the 2nd year they held it, so they didn't know !!

The day dawned rainy and bleary. The kind that people stayed home though, Poo.

I'm glad to say the attendence was good, the type of vendors was mixed and I did great! My secret? I've learned to put out front and center -- RINGS. People love trying them on for fun. Doesn't matter if they intend to buy. They are eye catching and they stay to chat, end up looking longer at the other items, and yes, it makes sales.

Here is one of the last unique rings I have left and available online.

Copper Ring - Art meets Environment

I love the asymmetrical design inside the circle. An interesting story what this ring started from. Read it
here

If you know what an Etsy treasury is, click here to see this ring in a beautiful group of other hand made work.

Thanks for your time!

It's ok to play with your food, at least for this reason...

November 16th, 2012 at 04:16 pm

One of the non profits I volunteer with is having a fun game this holiday. An Ornament Challenge - everyone starts with the same thing and makes an ornament. This is our 5th year holding the contest. In the past the starting item has been...

...an eggcarton
...a waterbottle
...a cardboard box

We pick something no or almost no cost, readily available to anyone, and would spark the imagination!

I'm one of the main person's behind the event and got to pick the starting item a couple months ago! This year it is 'pasta' (raw, any size or shape).

It is a very low cost event, free to the public, geared especially to kids but we have some very serious adult entries. It's so entertaining just seeing the different end ideas! A volunteer judge comes and picks winners in adult and kid categories and we give prizes at an award party.

Remember all the smart inexpensive gift ideas I gave in the last post? See how I turn those into reality as prizes for the contest:

Celebration Wine Glass Set

Starting with a wood box re-used from a company office item, I thrift shopped for nice glasses and found 4 footed water glasses at $1 ea. Then beaded the stems with gold and lavendar glass beads. Added a mini sparkling cider and red wine, and tied with a big bow around artificial lilac. Voila!

This idea is very adaptable:

Beading the glass stems is completely optional, there are very nice unadorned glasses to be had.

no box? Start with a thrift basket, there are dozens of sizes and shapes.

eat, not drink! Substitute a pretty little serving plate(s), fancy knife or fork, a couple napkins and add a few specialty chocolates, crackers or cookies.

What do you think?

8 and a Half Inexpensive Supremely Smart Thoughtful Gift Ideas

November 15th, 2012 at 06:01 pm

There are so many choice inexpensive gifts!! Are you willing to unplug and think outside the big box? Let me count the ways ....

THRIFT AND CONSIGNMENT FINDS. I'm not talking worn out shoes or faded jeans. Guess what my favorite find is lately?

Silk scarves. It is a bit sad to see the gorgeous work and material of these in abundance at the thrifts. For $2 or so. GO SAVE A SILK SCARF! There are fringed ones, scalloped ones, all manner of prints and colors. The long ones are supremely fashionable lately.

Hand wash thoroughly, iron perfectly. I dare you to pick up a vintage pin to match, pop in a (dollar store) gift box with pretty tissue paper and give to a **mom** **friend** **teen** **hostess** (or ME!!)

More, much more.

Vintage leather gloves. I can't resist gloves lately myself. Get a pair and add swarovski crystals, sew on tiny beads, or hot glue some flowers. Just try it! Here's a pair of inexpensive knits I jazzed up.

Gold and Green Orange Pop Gloves

Available on line here. Sequin trim on the wrists, felt flowers on the back.

Beaded, cashmere, or fur-trimmed sweaters. My thrifts have a 'better' section with some pretty amazing clothing. If yours doesn't, I bet a good consignment store does. Pick a classic cardigan style xip or button up sweater which has a universal fit.

DVDs. Even if we are entering the movie download age, it's not fully widespread yet! I want to give my family a few movies to watch together, so my first thought was browse Amazon. Sure there are some great used deals. But I was SURPRISED how many there are already at the thrift store! At $2 or $3 each, it is worth a try.

Board games. I am old enough to want to get my family together to play a game once in a while. Even if it is just in winter. And, guess what? They oblige and it makes memories. If you have a couple kids on your list, especially siblings to give to, go for some classic games. There are PLENTY in the thrifts. Scrabble? yes. Candyland? yes. Life? yes.

Puzzles. Ditto reasoning above. Jigsaw puzzles are good family bonding time!! Nothing too hard, stick to a couple hundred pieces. Dedicate a coffee table and leave it out for a week. Yes, you will catch your kids adding pieces here and there.

Books. Gardener? Cook? These never go out of style and date. Pack into a basket with a few supplemental things such as seed packets, cloth napkins, spices. Little kid's books. They don't care if the books are new!! They just need lots to read and learn. Look for the Scholastic label, Newberry medal, and trusted titles.

All of these choices fit the very worthwhile ethos of re-using! And even more, the thrifts benefit charitable groups, ie Goodwill and Salvation Army.

Can you stand any more?

Wine Glasses, Footed Mugs or Small Serving Dishes. There are tons of these in the thrifts. Hand wash with hot water, dry to a sparkle. Pack in a (thrift) basket with a hot chocolate mix, mini sparkling apple juice, or box of specialty candy.


Stay tuned here for more EXCELLENT ideas to give thoughtful and smart gifts.

Donate A Rama, 2 Rules how to give alot and love it

November 14th, 2012 at 08:01 pm

Calendar is getting crowded! Is yours? The way to stay calm and happy this time of year is....

RULE #1 ORGANIZED SCHEDULING. Keep a list on hand of what you agree to attend / volunteer for / want to do. Put it in your phone calendar, or a purse notepad, or the kitchen whiteboard. Leave some free hours and days. Those will be YOU time for simply browsing shops for fun, decorating or crafting around the house, or spontaneous get together with someone.

RULE #2 DO IT EARLY. Maybe it's the function of being involved in the community, having school age kids or who knows what?! But I have a good number of bake sales, raffles and other activities to donate toward.

Instead of dashing around with too little time and not enough fun, I have already started fulfilling the tasks on my calendar.

Baking
Who likes Christmas cookies, raise your hand?
Yes, thought so. And us crafty types want to make REALLY fancy ones like that crazy Martha Stewart. I have two bake sales this year. How to fit in hours of rolling, frosting, sugar sprinkling, gingerbread house building?

The answer is: I'll bake gingerbread AHEAD OF TIME and freeze it undecorated. Then have a block of hours to decorate on a separate day. Even two separate days for each bake sale. Lots more fun and less rushed! And oh, I already have the decorations in stock.

Donating Gifts
This is why you have stocked the closet earlier in the year with specials too good to pass up! And saved the imperfect things given to you, right? Follow Rule #2 by having all this already on hand!

For a needy girl: I have an amazing doll with a big wardrobe that my daughter never wanted (from grandma 5+ years ago).

Then there's 7 prizes to donate for my non-profit causes.

Prizes #1, 2 and 3: Three kids' prizes for a contest will be: A big kite (new we never used), a couple big packs of young artist supplies which I will supplement with items from my own pocket. Here I come Michaels! They blast their biggest coupons this time of year.

Prize #4: A prize for boy or girl, child or adult (we don't know who will win) will be: An Egg Themed Basket. A basket full of little decorative birds, woven nests, styrofoam eggs, and silk flowers which a storekeeper gave me that didn't want them anymore (she changed her decor). BONUS addition of one of my own jeweled eggs to inspire the winner to make their own. ALL IN STOCK AT HOME.

Golden Egg

Fit for a king. Hand blown and decorated turkey egg by Pretty Cheap Jewelry

Prize #5, 6: Two adult prizes for a contest will be: Boxed wine glass sets. I have the boxes to reuse from work (corporate gifts). Matching wine glasses, or any manner of beautiful glassware is easy to get at the thrift store. I will sew a set of napkins for each of the boxed sets. Add a dollar store mini bottle of Martinelli's and tie it up with a big fancy bow.

Prize #7: Jewelry from my business for the figure skate event. I have two amazing handmade chain necklaces that will make a nice prize all boxed up as a gift.

All the donations will be put together Thanksgiving weekend because I follow Rule #2.

The result? Time for my family, my own fun and WAY less unpredictable spending!!

Two big gifts under $20 total - Can You Top That?

November 13th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

The folks are getting older at our annual extended family gathering in December. That's good because the gift giving has dropped off! Thankfully, this generation has gravitated toward giving less to each other and more to any kids in the group. The reason to gather is to be together. So far, so good.

My kids were the last young ones usually around and they are already 12 and 14. There are a few new little kids, but the families are out of town and do not come to the party. WOOT! (sort of, because it would be nice to see them).

This year, however, there are two new additions: a baby born this past fall (with 2 brothers of unknown age I've not met); and a 1 1/2 year old (first kid). The kids dads are both nephews of my husband's. I've known these dads for many years but have only met the mother's once (or not at all).

Hmmmm. So I want to be welcoming even though there have been a number of divorce and disappearing acts in the past. Here's what I'm going to do.

Got It
2 good size oval baskets - Nice sturdy clean starter! How lucky I took these free from a store give away last year.

Wood puzzles (3-D interlocking type) to make a dinosaur, car, building. Gotten in past years at the craft store when they were a dollar or two. But if these look to hard for kids under 10 I'll skip them.

A couple canned jars homemade applesauce.

A couple canned jars of homemade granola (got the ingredients already).

Dad size BBQ apron (made an extra last summer when I made one for my husband)

Get It
A scour of the thrift store/library sale shelf should result in some good kid's books. Ones for the babies will be more picture style. Ones for the boys of unknown age will be perhaps I SPY, puzzle or interactive style.

A set of baby plate/cups for the babies.

For the boys, a gingerbread house decorating kit.

Make It
A set of cloth napkins to go with the dad's apron.

Pack It
Pack #1 basket with the foods, big boy books and a gingerbread house kit.

Pack #2 basket with the foods, baby cup/plate, apron and napkins.

Cost?
books = $5 or so
house = $5 with Michael's coupon
plate = $5 or so
cloth = $5 or less

Two big gifts for $20 or less, custom made with the family in mind.

What would you pack up in basket #1? or basket #2?

Think Twice before You Buy Gifts - or 3 Tips to Give Smartly

November 8th, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Early birds get the worm, or the best gift prices and selection at winter holidays. Right? But before you hyperventilate and blow through your shopping list, take a deep breath.

Now read over that list. What are you buying, and more to the point, who makes what you are buying?

Tip 1: You probably have immediate family on the list and know their specific wishes. Fine. Get the guys electronics. But maybe a 'practically new' laptop or DVD from a family who would much better use the cash can satisfy your guy. Check Craig's list. NOW.

Tip 2:You might have some kids on the list. And really this is where Christmas is magical. And also this is where the kids don't care if the bike or skateboard or dress up clothes are brand new. Get to the used sports store. Or the better resale stores. NOW.

Tip 3:But the most chance you have to give smartly is for your casual gift listings. The teacher, co-worker, friend, distant relative, visitor to your home, hostess's, etc.

I wish you would buy from INDEPENDENT small biz's. Made LOCALLY if you really want to make a difference. Guess what? It's pop up boutique season!! The prices at these craft fests are excellent.

And to make my point, take a look at what you can get for $5.00 or less from Pretty Cheap Jewelry

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Christmas in July Earrings

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Orange Moustache Earrings

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Pink Champagne Earrings

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Thanks and comments welcome!