Dollar Tree Organizing

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I love the Dollar Tree. 

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Really, I do. ūüôā¬†

 

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Earlier this week I hauled my nine year old with me to see what we could find (see tons of other items I found at the Dollar Tree over HERE), and when I realized those little storage bins fit our closet shelves perfectly I knew I had to go get more. 

 

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So yesterday I went back to the Dollar Tree one more time, and they had exactly 8 more in the size I needed to quickly tidy up my closet. I threw away and donated things we no longer needed, and in about 30 minutes this mess of a closet was cleaned up.

 

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Success!

 

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Similar bins would have cost me $8-$12 each at the Container Store, so I was just thrilled with my little find. (I even hunted down similar ones on Amazon and noticed these priced at 2/$14.99 ~ crazy!) I paid a whopping $9 total ~ I love that.

 

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If you’ve got some organizing to do this weekend, you might just make a trip to the Dollar Tree to see what you can find.

 

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I found these in the laundry storage section of my store (not in the organizing bin section like I expected), so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for them if you go look! I also found several more projects to craft while I was there, so stop back next week for more Dollar Tree fun. ūüôā

 

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Looking for more ways to organize at the dollar tree?

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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Fluffed Up Chalkboard Door Hanger

I just fell in love with this cute fluffed up chalkboard door hanger and I know you will too!  Such a fun way to fluff up that front door for the summer and you can even use real flowers from your yard!

 

 

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Here is what you need to get started:

 

  • Old metal door hanging basket or tin
  • Spray paint
  • Painters tape
  • Chalk paint
  • Foam paint brush
  • Chalk
  • Flowers
  • Newspaper

 

First, you will need to search your local resale stores (or even your closets if you’re like me) for a hanging basket or tin.

 

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Next you’ll spray paint your hanging basket or tin.¬† Lay your tin on top of newspaper outside and spray paint it any color you like.¬† Make sure to let it dry completely.

 

(A great tip to avoid the newspaper getting in the way of your paint is to place rocks on each corner … so smart!)

 

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Once your basket or tin is dry, tape off a small rectangle or square with painters tape for the chalkboard area.

 

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Use your foam paint brush to paint the inside of the square with black chalk paint, let this dry and then add a second coat.  When your paint is dry, peel your tape off very carefully.

 

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Write WELCOME on the front and fill with any flowers you like.  I love that you can change WELCOME to anything!

 

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Hang this cuteness on your door and enjoy your fluffed up chalkboard door hanger!

 

Looking to do more fluffing up?  Here you go . . .

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Strawberry Salsa

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

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A friend of mine mentioned¬†this recipe for strawberry salsa, and I’m so glad she did!¬†Since strawberries are in season here and have been priced so well, I¬†loved trying out a new way to use them.

 

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My favorite strawberry recipe is still this strawberry pie, but this is a fun twist to serve at a get together. And, since fruit is so inexpensive while it’s in season, it’s a great way to take advantage of some great sales out there! Here’s the recipe so you can try it out too.

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I love all the fresh ingredients and it just looks SO pretty!

 

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STRAWBERRY SALSA

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and diced
  • 8 ounces raspberries
  • 1 pound strawberries diced
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry fruit preserves
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar

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DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Coat one side of flour tortillas with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut tortillas into wedges and place on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.
  4. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes and allow to cool. Serve with the salsa and enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from All Recipes. 

 

Looking for more great fruit recipes?

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You Need To Do This Today.

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My girls are determined that we’re going to get our annual pedicure (I can only stand to pay for it once a year ~ they’ve been patiently waiting!) so this will be the fastest Friday Fluffing you’ve ever seen. ¬†They helped me tackle the project this morning to earn cute toes! ūüôā¬†

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My closet has been in some serious need of attention for the last few months, but much like our mudroom it’s been put on the back burner.

 

So today I set aside a few hours and did a ton of cleaning out. It’s not all that Pinterested (really, who sees our closets?) but it’s¬†so much better.¬†And, I’ll save a bundle on summer clothes because now I know what I already have. (See how we updated this closet last year for FREE ~ love that!)

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Ack!
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During (yikes . . . )Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 11.55.56 AM

After . . .

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Other than swapping the mirror and our little rolling cabinet, all I did was tidy things up a bit. James still needs to finish up his side, but mine is done!

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And here’s what’s heading to our local free store.¬†I didn’t even take pictures with anything other than my iPhone, but this project is just about done, so that’s my win for the week.¬†Success!
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest¬†(I love that place!)¬† If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I‚Äôd love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there‚Äôs a craft you‚Äôve seen on a website that you‚Äôre hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I‚Äôm always looking for new ideas!)

 

See more previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

Interact with 500,000+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!

 

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Slow Cooker Taco Meat

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

Easiest Slow Cooker Taco Meat - PINTEREST

This is a re-post of one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. Enjoy!

How to Cook Taco Meat in the Slow Cooker

This recipe just might change the way you look at ground beef, my friends.

And, really, give you a whole new reason to love your slow cooker. 

For years I’ve been convinced that there was no way on earth to cook ground beef in the crockpot (unless I pre-cooked it ahead of time for something like chili), however, I’ve thankfully been proved wrong.

 

With the way my children’s afternoon/evening schedules have looked, I’ve had a hard time getting much besides cereal on the table if Mrs. Potts doesn’t do the cooking, so I was determined to give it a shot.

Guess what?

It worked. 

 

We used the new Old El Paso Stand & Stuff Tacos that I found a few weeks ago on sale ~ my family loved them!

Everyone walked in for dinner around 6:15, I rolled out the fixins’ for our home-cooked taco bar, and everyone (this momma especially) was pretty well pleased.

I also made a little “secret sauce” for my husband and I to add to ours ~ just equal parts low fat ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. ¬†To really fluff things up I even put out some stockpiled French’s Fried Onions for my husband to add to his, and he declared it one of the best meals we’ve had in awhile.

Whew.

‘Cause y’all know I worry that he likes his dinner. ūüėČ

And to make things even better (does it get much better than a happy family at dinner time?), everything I used were items I’d gotten on sale for some crazy good deals.¬†I’m pretty sure I spent less than $6¬†to feed our family of five ~ happy happy happy.

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Here’s how to get started if you’d like a penny-pinched-delicious-and-easy meal too this week.

How To Cook Taco Meat In The Slow Cooker {Perfect For Homemade Taco Bar Night}

Ingredients

  • Taco Seasoning packet (or make it from scratch if you'd prefer ~ I was just in a hurry)
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (get more if you'd like to make extra to freeze)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Place ground beef, water, onion, salt, and garlic powder in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally (I stirred it twice throughout the day)
  3. When meat is almost cooked through, stir again and turn your slow cooker down to low.
  4. Cook an additional 1-2 hours.
  5. Add in taco seasoning packet and give it a stir, then cook 20 more minutes.
  6. Drain completely (will be a little liquidy from the water and some of the fat in the beef).
  7. Serve over tacos, and freeze any leftovers so that you don't have to start from scratch the next time around!
http://passionatepennypincher.com/2016/06/slow-cooker-taco-meat/

Note: I don’t think this is the kind of slow cooker meal that I’d start and then leave on all day if you’re not going to be home – I think you need to be there to give it a quick stir every so often. If you’re looking for a delicious beef recipe with just about no work involved, check this out.¬†

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Mudroom Makeover (More Than A Makeover)

 

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If you’re here just for the deals scoot on to the next penny-post ~ this one’s a doozie! And, know that I know SO MANY OF YOU have hardships so much¬†greater than mine, I feel almost silly even sharing this here. But maybe you’re in a funk too ~ and maybe this one’s just for you.¬†

 

Good gravy.

 

This week as I was debating what home project to tackle as our regular Friday Fluff Up, I started dreaming up ideas for our mudroom.

 

I really wanted this, or this, or even this, but the truth is the space isn’t huge and I don’t have any business right now spending lots of money on it, so it¬†just needed some TLC.

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Since my husband’s heart attack just over a month ago, I’ve allowed clutter and gunk and schoolwork and coats and hats and heart attack¬†papers and all of it to just take over that space.

 

(If you know me well you know that’s just not the norm for me ~ but goodness it’s turned into a disaster!)

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I just¬†didn’t want to deal with the mess, so I rounded up my youngest and spent a few hours shopping, dreaming up ways to make that space just a wee bit more¬†Pinterested before coming home and setting to work.

 

As I started muddling through, I realized that it wasn’t any new fancy stuff that tiny space needed.

 

It was a much needed attitude shift.

 

You see, since his heart attack I’ve (we’ve all?) been in this sort of funk.

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I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork.

 

I didn’t want to look at insurance claims.

 

I didn’t want to read through mounds of heart attack literature.

 

I didn’t want to learn a million-bazillion ways to control¬†his cholesterol.

 

(For the record, he’s¬†really changed his diet on his own and we’re all working even harder to eat the right foods ~¬†I just didn’t want to read any¬†more about it!)

 

I didn’t want to be the 40-year-old wife of a 45-year-old husband who’d had a heart attack.

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There. I said it.

 

I wanted to stay a regular mom with a regular life and regular kids and a regular-not-so-much-struggling life.

 

I’m betting you get that.

 

And honestly? (if I’m being real-real-deeply honest here?)

 

Ever since moving two years ago I’ve just kind of been in a funk. (Y’all who know me best know that’s the case ~ I can hide it on the outside but here in my heart it’s tough to hide.)

 

So I just let the piles keep climbing.

 

I let the shoes take over the floor.

 

I shoved the paperwork on top of the cabinets. And hid some inside the closet. (eek.) And just decided if it was all stuffed somewhere I didn’t really have to deal with any of it.

 

I just didn’t want any of this turn of events.¬†

 

I didn’t want my life to look different.

 

I just didn’t want to deal with the mess of it.

 

In my heart or on my countertops. 

 

whew.

 

So when I came home with all my cute stuff from Home Goods and Michael’s Wednesday night and realized it wasn’t any “fluffing” that needed to happen, but rather just a good case of me being real about life, I determined to get it together.

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I de-gunked.

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I sorted through the paper work.

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I made files named “James’s heart stuff.”

 

I saved files about medications I really care nothing to know about.

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I pulled up my big-girl-panties and decided to deal with what the last six weeks have doled out.

 

ooch.

 

Do you know what?

 

It feels better.

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The space is cleaned out. I’m still the same regular mom that I was a month ago. We still have the regular life that we had months ago. My husband didn’t really age¬†a million years like I feel he has.

 

We’re just us.

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And¬†we’re going to be okay.

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You may have so. many. struggles. so so much bigger than mine.

 

You may be dealing with a debilitating illnesses, the long-term sicknesses of a child, or the loss of something or even someone so very precious and dear to you.

 

And like me, you may think that if you just shove the clutter all away none of this stuff will really be real.

 

But,¬†precious¬†one, you and I know¬†it doesn’t work that way.

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If you’re drowning in stuff because you don’t want to deal with the real issues, I encourage you to pull up those big girl panties with me and ¬†just¬†de. mess.

 

De-clutter.

 

De-gunk.

 

De. funk.

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You will feel better.

 

You will find order.

 

You will be no less precious than you were before the mess.

 

Because¬†even when¬†life doesn’t hand us what we choose,¬†we¬†still get to choose¬†what we make of it.

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Make your life beautiful today.

 

If that means you need a de-cluttering and a de-gunking and a de-funking, come along with me and find beauty right where you’re at.

 

If you’re in a hospital room holding the hand of a loved one, tidy things up a bit and make that that space for them just¬†feel beautiful.¬†But most importantly¬†hold on tightly and let them know they’re loved.

 

If you’re home in the summertime and your kids have taken over your home (ahem), take a break from the crazy and head outside to pick some fresh greenery, then come on in and¬†sweep up the floor.

 

If you’re at work and the clutter on your desk is overwhelming you, clean off that space, put up a favorite quote and stay¬†motivated in your work today.

 

And if you’re the sweet momma of a tiny one who hasn’t allowed you to have¬†a shower in too many days to count, find a safe spot for that baby for twenty minutes, hop in the shower and make yourself feel beautiful today.

 

You can find beauty wherever you are. I just know you can. 

 

I’m thinking of you folks right now who walk beside me or even through something so much harder, and am praying a beautiful day for you no matter what life hands you today.

 

Make today a beautiful day. 

 

 

 

 

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Super Smart Way to Store Ground Beef (Genius!)

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My friend Jamie is here today sharing this SUPER smart way to store ground beef! I *love* this idea, and will be doing it in the future since we have a small freezer. Thanks so much for sharing Jamie!

If you buy ground beef or ground turkey in bulk to save money Рthis is such a clever idea to store it!  The flat little bricks make it easy to thaw and cook whenever you need it Р and help you avoid wasting meat by forgetting it.  (Has that ever happened to you?  I know it has to me!)

1 . Start with any ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken, venison, etc…) a rolling pin and a gallon freezer bag.

(If you don’t have a rolling pin, but maybe have a wine bottle in the house, that would work too.)

Put the ground meat in the bottom of the bag and lie it down flat, leaving the zipper part open.

 

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2 . Using a rolling pin, roll to flatten the meat and spread it out in the bag evenly.

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3 . Using a ruler, or the back of a long knife, press lines to divide the meat into six sections.

Freeze for 30 minutes and pull out. ¬†(It should be mostly frozen already) ¬†Bend at the dividing lines until it is separated more cleanly into bricks. ¬†Now just seal the zipper and place back in the freezer to use whenever you need ~ you’ll be able to pull off just one brick at a time to thaw the next time you need ground beef!

 

I think this is just SO super smart. It takes up so little space in the fridge and really makes it easy to thaw out when you’re ready to cook. LOVE simple tricks like this!

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Dollar Tree Teacher Gifts

Dollar Tree Teacher Gifts

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It’s the end of the school year and you moms with school-aged kiddos know what that means . . . time to come up with simple teacher gift ideas! With three children at three¬†different schools, the number of teachers we give to can really add up, so I love finding Dollar Tree Teacher gift ideas to let them know we do so appreciate them. (I usually add a gift card also for their primary teachers, but my kids love having a small gift to give too!)

 

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We actually made these at my 9 year old’s birthday party as an activity to keep the girls busy (so if you’re looking to do some party crafting, these work great for that too), and saved the mug to give to her teacher. Gotta love getting two projects knocked out at once!

 

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Here’s what we used:

  • Design your own mugs – $1 – Dollar Tree
  • Post it Notes – $1 – Dollar Tree
  • Clip boards (I forgot to get a picture) – $1 – Dollar Tree
  • Plastic photo frames – $1 – Dollar Treepppdollartreeteacher

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  • Scrapbook paper & ribbon (we already had ours from¬†Hobby Lobby but the Dollar Tree carries it too)
  • Mod podge (for clipboard)
  • tape runner (this is my all time favorite tape runner for crafting)
  • Silhouette Cameo for monograms¬†(you could¬†totally make similar projects without a Cameo, but I do love mine! Hobby Lobby carries pre-cut monograms or stickers which¬†would work perfectly too.)

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To make the mugs we just cut paper to fit the inside of the mug, then added some ribbon and a monogram. 

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For the clipboards (this was the hardest project!) we used mod podge to add paper to the clipboard, then added ribbon and a monogram.

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The post it note caddy was the simplest project (and least expensive.)

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Just use scrapbook paper to make a design on the back of your plastic frame, and add the post it notes using some tape runner. (Reagan added these while at ¬†her party ~ they’re not quite straight but it’ll do!)

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So there you have it!¬†Three super simple Dollar Tree DIY projects that are great for teacher gifts or even just to let your kids make over the weekend. These are perfect to give with a gift card, but let your kids bring a gift to their teacher too, all without busting your budget. ūüôā

 

Looking for more gift ideas?  Here you go . . .

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My Favorite Goodwill Find

My Favorite Goodwill Find

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I’ve been meaning to share this with you all for¬†months, and finally got around to it this week! ¬†A few months ago my sixteen year old and I were looking for ways to update his bedroom (he inherited my husband’s Ethan Allen headboard & dresser¬†from the 70’s which is actually still in great shape and pretty classic, but we haven’t done much to update his room since moving to Ohio.)

 

So I started watching Pinterest and saw this super cute idea for a bedside table and knew it was right up his alley. I showed it to him and he loved it too ~ so we headed to Goodwill to see what we could find.

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Never in a¬†bajillion years would I have dreamt that on our very first trip to Goodwill we would luck into these.¬†I literally heard him holler across the store “Momma, it’s our lucky day!”

 

(Teaching a 16 year old boy to love Goodwill like me is one of my most proud mommy-ing moments.) ūüôā¬†

 

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We took them home . . .

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Loaded them up with books and memorabilia that he wanted to keep but didn’t need to be out in the middle of the room,

 

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And stacked them on top of one another for his nightstand.

 

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They were in great shape (perfectly kept on the inside), so we didn’t have a single bit of work to do!

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I’d love to know the places this stack of luggage has been to over the years, and love that they’re a fun way to re-use someone else’s treasures. We spend $15 on all 3, and I love that they’re just something quirky in his room!

 

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Have you found any fun finds lately at Goodwill or you local thrift store? I’d love to hear what you’ve scored!¬†Leave a comment to share (I love hearing from you!)

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Can’t get enough Goodwill?

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No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

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Don’t you just love when penny pinching makes you a wee bit resourceful, and the results turn out¬†fantastic?

 

(Me too.)

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Last week my sweet boy turned sixteen.

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Sixteen.

 

 

However, over the weekend we’d purchased a new car (finally retiring my 10-year-old-190,000-mile-mini-van ~ eek!), and I’ve been determined to really be wise with our finances.¬†(We were able to purchase our new-to-us-car using cash which is the¬†coolest feeling ever.¬†But, shelling out that much cash that’s been saved hurts just a bit!)

 

So, I decided I was absolutely not going to buy anything we didn’t need for at least a few weeks.

 

And then I remembered that I¬†needed a cake for my cute kid’s birthday.

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I went through my pantry, fridge and freezer to try to come up some genius plan, and remembered this E’clair cake a friend of mine made for us years ago.

 

It usually calls for cool whip, but I only had Kroger Reddi Whip in the fridge, so decided to make that work.

Goodness, that boy of mine was in heaven.

 

In fact, he asked this weekend if I could make¬†him some¬†e’clair cake again.

 

The moral of the story?

 

Get a little creative with what you already have before spending more moo-lah ($40 for a cookie cake? No thanks!) and your family might just enjoy that little penny-pinched-splurge too.

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Directions

Mix together cool whip or reddi whip, pudding and milk. Layer graham crackers on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.

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Next, spread half pudding mixture over graham crackers, then cover with another layer of graham crackers.

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Spread remaining pudding mixture over graham crackers, then top with another layer of graham crackers.

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Pop frosting in microwave and heat for about 30 seconds. Then spread carefully over graham cracker layer.

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Refrigerate for 4-6 hours, then serve.

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No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake

Ingredients:

2 packages instant vanilla pudding
2 cans of dairy whipped topping (or one tub of non-dairy whipped topping)
3 cups milk
1 package graham crackers
1 container chocolate frosting

Directions:

  1. In a bowl mix together the pudding mix, whipped topping, and milk until completely combined.
  2. Place a single layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9×13″ dish. Spread half the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Top the pudding layer with another layer of graham crackers.¬† Add the other half of the pudding mixture and top that with a final layer of graham crackers.
  3. Spread frosting over the graham cracker layer all the way up to the edges of the pan. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

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pppnobakeeclaircakegraphicpinterest

Looking for more dessert recipes?

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.  If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE. 

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