Pom Pom Gift Wrap: Easy Gifting From The Dollar Tree

 

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Clearly I’m addicted to pom poms these days. (They rank right on up there with burlap right now.) ;)

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Here’s a quick video (kind of!) showing you how to make a pom pom and where to watch for inexpensive Christmas wrapping supplies. (You may also want to watch this video for more detailed instructions.)

If you find a better price on brown paper wrapping paper, please leave a comment to let me know what you’ve found. Happy Wrapping! ;)

 

(ooooooohhhhh ~ I just found this ~ will have to try it out next time!!!)

You could also add a monogram on easily while you’re at it. 

burlapgarlandLooking for more fun crafts to make this Christmas season?

 

 

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’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

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

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How To Fluff Up For Christmas (For Free)

 

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Ever feel like you can’t have the prettiest of things because it just costs too much? I’m here to tell you that even on a penny pinched budget you can decorate your home like all those pretty Pinterest pictures ~ and you don’t even have to be all that crafty.

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Here’s what I used . . . 

  • Greenery cut from our fresh Christmas tree
  • Arborvitae and boxwood branches, & pinecones (I absolutely love nandina berries, but don’t have any of those here ~ yet! You can also use magnolia leaves, holly branches, and whatever’s in your back yard ~ or ask a friend who might share)
  • Plates & dishes that I that I already had ~ having basic white dishes makes it so much easier to decorate for any Holiday
  • Monogrammed burlap table runner
  • A few silver plates I found at Goodwill (I did spend $4 on those . . . so not exactly free but pretty close!)

 

 

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Even the painted piano got a little fluffed up ~ I’ve got to find something to go on the wall behind it!

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above & below are the dishes I found at Goodwill ;)

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img_0593When going through my cupboards I noticed this silver water pitcher ~ it’s never been opened since we were married in 18 years ago. Crazy!
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Do you use fresh greenery in your home to decorate at Christmas? I’d love to hear what bushes you use (and feel free to share a picture of your greenery over on the PPP Facebook page!)  If you’d like to see more pictures of our home this Christmas, go HERE and HERE.

 
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’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

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

 

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How To Make Perfect Peanut Butter Fudge

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

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Here’s how to make perfect peanut butter fudge.

You can thank me later. ;)

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Perfect Peanut Butter Fudge
Ingredients
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Directions
  1. Grease 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, butter & evaporated milk in saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Bring mixture to boiling while stirring constantly.
  4. Once boiling, boil constantly for seven minutes without stirring.
  5. Remove from heat, and stir in marshmallow creme until blended in and melted.
  6. Let cool for 15 minutes, then add in peanut butter and vanilla, stir until smooth.
  7. Spread in pan, and let cool.
  8. Cut into squares, and refrigerate to keep firm. YUMMMMMM!

 

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Looking for more special recipes to try this Christmas?  Here are a few of our favorites . . .

Need a little more menu inspiration? go HERE

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Our Hodge Podge Christmas Tree

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You all were so sweet to share my Christmas stuff last week, that I wanted to share our “hodge podge” Christmas family tree, and my all time favorite way to decorate a tree. 

 

We were determined this year after moving to Ohio to go to a local tree farm over the weekend and cut down a live Christmas tree (back in Alabama the trees were pretty puny at those farms, but we were just positive we’d find the best tree here!) Well, it rained, and rained, and rained, so Saturday afternoon we ended up at a roadside stand shelling out entirely too many pennies for one of the prettiest Christmas trees I’ve ever seen.

 

We walked through the yard, determined to find the best tree, and I wanted one that would fill up our space. While we don’t have vaulted ceilings in our home we do have fairly tall ceilings, so I didn’t want some tee-tiny tree that couldn’t hold it’s own.

 

ahem.

 

When I saw this tall skinny Frasier Fir I fell in love ~ I figured it wouldn’t be too wide to take over the whole room, and since it was the same amount of money as trees a few feet shorter (this one towered over them at 13 feet), I told my husband we were getting a deal to get those extra few feet for free!

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Let’s just say when we got home and my husband had to cut at least two full feet off the tree he was none to happy with me. (But just wait ’til Friday to see what I do with all that free greenery.) ;)

 

After a solid hour of wrestling with that thing we finally got it standing up straight, and honestly I love it more than any tree I’ve ever seen. Not because it’s perfect, but because it feels like home.  While we were in the midst of moving last Christmas (my husband was already here in Ohio while the kids and I were still in Alabama), I pretty much just plopped a few ornaments on a small artificial tree, which makes this special tree just a wee bit sweeter.
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While I have a “pretty tree” that sits out in our breakfast room, I just love that our big ole’ hodge podge tree is right there in the middle of our living space. The first year that we were married I was absolutely appalled at my husband’s mess of ornaments (I’d grown up with a more formal Christmas tree in our home.) But after eighteen years of marriage I love ever single bit of this hodge podge mess! Here are exactly twelve reasons why . . .

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1. Those piggies. I mean, really? How can you not love those!  My goofy Reagan is absolutely in love with pigs and always has been (no idea why.) Her uncle got her the absolute most atrociously ugly and still really cute ornament (it sings!) and I love just how tacky those piggies are. ;)

2. That fun yarn ornament. Found those last year at Home Depot on clearance for a few pennies – I love them!

3. The Hallmark ornament from my Reagan’s first Christmas. I pull it out and get a little weepy every year . . .

4. Star shaped cinnamon ornamentsA reader here on PPP told me about those when I first started blogging and I made them with my kids. They still smell good!

5. The peace ornament. That was given to us by a member of our youth group when I did youth ministry seventeen years ago. They lost their father shortly after that Christmas, and that ornament reminds me to pray for that family and their sweet kids every time I open the box.

6. (sniff.) The Madison, Alabama ornament our Sunday School class (aka Sandra) gave us last year. 

7. The First Christmas ornament Jackson made in Sunday School when he was just one or two. Goodness. I love that one!

8. The believe ornament ~ I think we managed to win that at a Christmas party swap? No special memory, but I love hanging it each year.

9. The shrinky dink. Honestly? I hate that silly thing. Pretty sure my husband made it in 1980 and I think it’s just about the ugliest ornament I’ve ever seen. It has a special place on my tree now ~ right in the very back. And every single year my kids pull that sucker out and say “I sure wish you’d make shrinky dinks with us mom!” ;) (Y’all, if something happened that that ornament now I’d probably be in tears ~ ridiculous!)

10. The little girl ornament. I bought that as part of a set one day when my older two kiddos were tiny and I ventured out to shop with them in a local small town for the first time. I remember just feeling so accomplished for getting a one and four year old dressed that day and actually taking them into real grown up stores ~ walking on the town square with them that day is still one of my favorite memories!

11. My sweet Caroline’s first Christmas ~ wasn’t she cute?

12. My dollar tree stars ~ I just love those!

 

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Now I know there are way-fancier-more-impressive trees out there in the world, but I love mine because it feels like a box of memories wrapped up in one place each year. While I wish I’d had time to get to Hobby Lobby for a little more burlap (there actually is one more strand on the bottom but from the looks of these pictures I need to pull it out a bit!), this tree is just fine by me. And I didn’t even change how our mess of ornaments was hung by my family before sharing these pictures – this is just the way it looks around here.

 

If you’re looking to tie together a more hodge podge tree, here are a few tips . . .

  • Choose a basic color theme – for us it’s red and cream
  • Use ribbon or burlap to tie it together as much as you can
  • Shop Dollar Tree or a similar store for some basic ornaments as the foundation to your tree (I used the red stars as well as some plain colored balls from the Dollar Tree.) Then add your sentimental ornaments on top of those.
  • Also look for berries at the Dollar Tree or your favorite craft store to add some basic foundation for your tree ~ I found most of mine after Christmas for 80% off at Michaels – definitely shop those after Christmas sales for things like that!)
  • Hide your least favorite ornaments (~ahem~) in the back. If your hubby puts them right out front, sneak them to the back when he’s not looking (he’ll never know!) ;)
  • Let it go. Your tree may never look like these, but pulling out each ornament will mean so much each year ~ and as you get older (eek!) those memories become a little more precious. (I’m telling you what, sending my boy to high school this year has made me one mess of a sentimental momma ~ hold tight to those babies if you still have them at home!)

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 (our handprint Christmas tree skirt)

 

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And our kids playmobil nativity

 

So, there you go. I’d love to hear how you decorate your tree, and would absolutely love seeing your Christmas tree pictures over on the PPP Facebook pageThanks for taking a second to look at ours ~ it really is just more fun when you share with a friend. ;)

 

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’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

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

 

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My Dollar Tree Christmas Tree (& A Tiny Christmas Home Tour . . . )

 

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(You can also see our family Christmas tree HERE if you’d like a peek.) 

 

Ready for a L.O.N.G. post? Grab a cup of hot chocolate. ;)

 

Goodness, can I just tell you I feel like I am never going to catch my breath? (I’m betting you feel the same way too right now!) I’ve been so wanting to share my fun little (updated) Dollar Tree Christmas Tree with you, but just haven’t had time to get there.

 

Well, today I snapped a few pics finally to share, and wanted to share a little bit of our new home this Christmas too. Since we’ve moved to Ohio, I am just in love with the home we have here (seriously folks, I would never have dreamed eighteen years ago in our early-penny-pinching days we would ever be here!) I do have a little guilt some days about living here ~ because I know we are just plain-ole-ridiculously-crazy-blessed, but am just so very thankful for it.

 

However, as I’ve been busy fluffing things up for Christmas, it’s been a little bittersweet because there’s really not anyone here to share it with. (Anyone else love sharing your fluffed up home too?)

 

So, I decided today not to be so sad about that (I really do know that day will come!), but instead just to ask you to come on in and take a peek. I really don’t know the first thing about decorating or design, but I do just love home, and home’s so much more fun when you share it with a friend. (Which is why I’m inviting you!)

 

So, wanna come hang out for a minute? ;)

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Here’s my Dollar Store Tree . . . it stands in the corner of our breakfast nook . . .

 

(we’re going tomorrow to pick up a fresh tree that will have our family ornaments on it ~ don’t worry, we have those too!)

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We are loving the view to our backyard from there ~ with huge windows where every so often we see deer roaming around.

On the tree I just used exactly 163 ornaments from the Dollar Tree (most of them were sold in several packs for $1 – I loved that!)
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As well as some old berries I’d had from our last tree img_0475

 

And burlap garland I made using less than $10 in fabric. img_0476

And these silver berries? Also from the Dollar Tree ~ I bought 3 bunches of $1 berries and separated them out to spread out the wealth. ;)img_0477

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Back in the corner of the breakfast area is my fun $7 Pom Pom pillow. (Gracious, I just love that little thing!)img_0496

 

Remember my $2.50 Goodwill chair? Well it still sits in the corner, next to some Christmas pillows in our window box that I found last year at Target on clearance in the $1 bins. (Can you tell I’m a little stuck on things I can buy for a dollar? Or maybe $2?)
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I found this little guy at the Pottery Barn Outlet a few weeks ago and my daughter decided he needed to be a birthday gift for me from the kids . . .

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(See who really loves him) ;)
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And the twig Christmas trees on the mantle were just $12.99 at TJMaxx (my biggest splurge!)
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Since my birthday’s in November I asked for these JOY wreaths from Ballard Designs ~ I would n.e.v.e.r. (seriously, EVER) have bought them for myself, but all of my in-laws went in so I could have them. I’m in love!

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Outside we have wreaths on our windows that we’ve moved through four houses now, so to update them a bit I used some sprigs from Michaels ~ I think they’re a little more fun than plain old wreaths?

 

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And out on our front door is this fun wreath I found at TJMaxx too, which meant our old front door wreath got moved to a rocking chair.

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Since we just had our fun first family pictures made (ever), here’s a peek at one of those too.

(and, here’s what we really look like most of the time (well, minus the matching clothes. . . )

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I promise you can have pretty things even on a budget, though it may take a little patience to get there. And, if you’re in a place where you feel like you’ll never get there, trust me. We’ve been at this awhile (eighteen-and-a-half years to be exact!), but it really is worth the wait. Thanks so much for taking a look around!

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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’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

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 (See our family Christmas tree HERE if you’d like a peek.) 

 

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

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How to Make Burlap Garland (Includes Video)

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Okie dokie folks, time for a little break from deal hunting. (This week has me worn out!) ;)

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Watch the video to see how I made this super simple burlap garland to add to my tree, and tomorrow I’ll show more pictures of my updated Christmas tree (using almost only items I found at the Dollar Tree a weeks ago!)
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Looking for more fun (frugal!) ways to decorate with burlap? Goodness, do I have a few ideas for you . . . ;)

 

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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’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

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

 

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Slow Cooker Emergency Chicken Alfredo

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

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Okie dokie folks. This is the easiest-ever-don’t-even-think-about-it-meal-when-you-just-really-need-dinner-tonight.

 

Nothing fancy.

 

Just emergency food. ;)

 

In case you’re like me and occasionally have those days too.

 

This Monday (yes, Cyber Monday would be the one), I came down with the all out worst stomach bug I have ever had in my life. 

 

We’re talking, so bad my husband stayed home from work Monday to keep our kids.

 

That bad.

 

(Since my kids were off school Monday, he figured he’d better stay home to make sure I didn’t die under their watch. I think he was really afraid that might  happen.) Thankfully I had a few helpers here to keep up deal hunting a bit, and I posted deals as I could from my laptop in bed.

 

It wasn’t pretty.

 

Tuesday came though, and thankfully I felt oh-so-much-better, but at lunchtime I realized my family would be expecting a meal for dinner that night.

 

I took a look around my pantry, freezer and fridge, noticed I happened to have my emergency-chicken-alfredo-staples on hand, and pulled out Mrs. Potts. (After of course scrubbing an extra time or two because the last thing I wanted was to pass on any germs around here!)

 

Mrs. Potts (again) saved the day. Dinner was served, and my family all loved it. (A tiny miracle around here!) So, if you have one of those oh-my-goodness-what-on-earth-do-I-feed-these-people-for-dinner-again-kind-of-days, this little recipe’s right here for you.

 

You’re welcome. ;)

 

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Slow Cooker Emergency Chicken (aka Slow Cooked Creamy Chicken Alfredo)
Ingredients
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (can substitute with Healthy Request cream of chicken soup or try out these substitutes here – let me know if they work for you!)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (frozen is fine ~ that’s what I used)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 packet Italian Seasoning mix (can also make your own at home)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • pasta (whatever type your family likes)
Directions
  1. Place chicken, Italian seasoning, water, and soup in slow cooker.
  2. Give it a quick stir, then cook on low 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours.
  3. 30 minutes before serving, shred chicken and add in cream cheese. Give it another good stir to mix everything well.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. Once cream cheese is heated through and everything mixes together, give it one more stir.
  6. Serve chicken and sauce over cooked pasta, top with parmesan cheese and parsley if you want to be fancy.
  7. Enjoy. ;)

 

Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 12/3/14):

  • Ronzoni Pasta BOGO $1.58 at Publix, use $1/2 Garden Delight
  • Kroger Pasta $1
  • Campbell’s Condensed Soup $1 at Kroger, use $.40/2 coupon from the 10/12 SmartSource insert
  • Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (Frozen) 32 oz $6.79 at Publix or Fresh Publix Greenwise Chicken Breast Antibiotic Free $3.49/lb.
  • Kroger Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast 3 lb. bag $7.99 (will vary by region)
  • Kroger Cream Cheese $1.25

 

Thanks to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

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Oh my.

 

This Broccoli Cheese Soup at home is divine. 

 

Better than Panera.

 

And Mrs. Potts will do most of the work for you.

 

You’re welcome. ;)

 

My husband and I loved this recipe, my 14 year old liked it, and my 11 and 7 year old actually ate it. Success? :)

 

Here’s how to get a yummy warm & toasty meal on the table at your home too (and I highly recommend you include a side of homemade bread. Perfection!)

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Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 12 oz cans evaporated milk
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups broccoli florets (I substituted with frozen broccoli which I cooked in the microwave and drained well - to make sure there wasn't too much liquid I reduced the chicken broth by 1/2 cup as frozen veggies are usually packed with water when they cook)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In large skillet melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Saute onions until they become transparent, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and flour, as well as a little salt and pepper to flavor.
  4. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Using a whisk, slowly add in evaporated milk and stir well to make it smooth.
  6. Cook mixture until it begins to thicken, then pour into slow cooker with chicken broth, broccoli & thyme.
  7. Cover and cook 2 1/2 - 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  8. Turn heat off (or warm if you have that option), and add in heavy cream, shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
http://passionatepennypincher.com/2014/11/slow-cooker-broccoli-cheese-soup/

 

 

Here are the best sales I see to watch for this week (as of 11/19/14):

  • Broccoli Buy One Get One Free at Giant Eagle and Food Lion
  • Kroger Shredded Cheese $1.99
  • Swanson Chicken Broth $.50 at Dollar General (14 oz) or $1.89 at Walmart & Target (32 oz), use $1/2 Swanson coupon from the 10/5 SmartSource insert or $1/2 Swanson printable coupon

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy – thanks for a wonderful recipe!  Thanks also to I Heart Publix for the coupon matchups. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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$7 No Sew Pom Pom Pillow Cover

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I’m soooooo pleased with how this little project turned out! I was a little anxious that it would be more difficult than it was, but trust me, it was e.a.s.y. And, I absolutely love it!

 

I saw this great tutorial for this Christmas Tree Pom Pom Pillow over at On Sutton Place, and thought it might be more difficult than I was ready for. I’m horrible (horrible) at yarn crafts (I’ve tried for at least four hours to make one of these without any luck. Ugh.)  So, the thought of making Pom Poms from scratch had me just a wee bit anxious! I thought surely I could find ones already made at our local craft store, but they only carried really bright colors, and I knew I wanted something a little more subtle.

 

I decided to try it out, and spent a few minutes watching this tutorial, and within minutes figured out how to get started. 

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Here’s what I used:

  • pillow cover from Hobby Lobby – $5.99 after 40% off coupon
  • hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • yarn (a $3.99 roll of yarn would make a jillion pom poms – at least!)
  • small piece of ribbon for the tree trunk (I just used some that I already
  • Total = less than $7 because the yarn will be used for several more projects and I had everything else on hand

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I made the pom poms following this tutorial (I used about 35), and then followed these instructions to glue them onto the pillow case. (Really, this was so simple – just glue them on in a tree shape and you’re almost done!) And I’m loving using pillow covers to change out my pillows seasonally (you can purchase pillow inserts for around $9.99 at Walmart or your local craft store), which is a great way to save. Success!

 

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Looking for more Christmas DIY ideas? Here’s what I’ve done around here so far this year (I have a really fun one coming this Friday ~ can’t wait to show you!)

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’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous home projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

Interact with 165,000+ 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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Menu Plan Monday: Week Of 11/17/14

Here’s this week’s menu plan and grocery shopping list! I’m so excited because I have most of the ingredients that we’ll need for these recipes already at home, so it’ll help keep our budget in check too this week.

 

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If you’re hoping to get on track too, check out my Fall Menu Planning board on Pinterest where I’ve got all the links to the recipes we’re eating each week. Head on over HERE to check that out, and I’d love for you to join all the PPP boards on Pinterest too.

 

Shopping List
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 8 soft or hard taco shells
  • 2 cans Rotel
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • fresh garlic
  • 2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups small diced broccoli floret
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • bag of potatoes for mashed potatoes
  • tortilla chips

Side Dish Extras

  • apples (for salad)
  • grapes (for salad)
  • walnuts (for salad)
  • loaf bread for broccoli cheese soup night (store bought or  homemade bread)
  • carrot sticks or fresh veggies
  • toppings for nachos and tacos – sour cream, black olives, green onion, lettuce, tomato

Pantry Staples

  • salt
  • pepper
  • flour
  • thyme
  • baking powder
  • milk
  • 2 eggs
  • oil
  • onion powder
  • brown sugar
  • minced onion
  • chili powder
  • corn starch
  • cumin
  • red pepper flakes
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic
  • oregano

Do you have anything yummy on your menu plan this week?  I’d love to hear what you’re having, and if you have any great recipe ideas please leave a comment to share!  Here are a few previous menu plans that you can also try out:

 

Check out my recipes to try board on Pinterest, and see more penny-pinched recipe ideas.  This post is linked up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday where you can find lots more menu planning ideas! 

 

 

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