Welcome to Festival of Frugality #307

The “Why Does Everything Always Break at Once?”Edition.

First thing – an apology. This Festival of Frugality post should have been up yesterday morning, but as always seems to be the way, things went wrong at the worst possible moment. (Although my boychild reminds me, there’s never a good moment for things to break or go wrong.)

My computer decided that Monday evening was a great time to come down with the flu. Or in this case, a nasty virus that had my computer locked up tight for a while. Several hours, and a brand new install of Windows later all seemed to be fine. Back on track I could get the post completed and up by end of day yesterday. Or so I thought. Again, Murphy’s Law laughed at my puny attempts and decided that it was a great time to knock out the cable for nearly 24 hours so that I had no internet. Ok, so I don’t know that it was Murphy – it might have been the construction guys that happen to be replacing the elevators in my building and fixing the roof after the heavy rain this week. And maybe one of those guys is named Murphy. Either way… here we are with a late, but packed-to-the-brim with great stuff, Festival of Frugality #307.





Home Sweet Home

Everything Else

Thanks again to Ryan at Festival of Frugality for giving me the honour of hosting this week!
~ Merlene
photo “Broken Computer” by Tara Hunt used under Creative Commons license.

The One Hour Thanksgiving Dinner

Just because you don’t have time to make an elaborate Thanksgiving Feast doesn’t mean you have to skip Thanksgiving altogether.
If you have to work on Thanksgiving Day and/or other scheduling chaos this little guide should at least give you a little holiday cheer.

The Night Before

  • Do a quick tidy up.
  • Set the table and get out any serving dishes, small appliances and utensils you will need.
  • Arrange a fresh bowl of fruit and nuts (don’t forget the nutcracker!) as a centerpiece on the table.
  • Gather all non-perishable food items you’ll need tomorrow and place somewhere easy to reach but not in the way.
  • Move anything that needs to thaw from the freezer to the fridge.
  • Mix 1 can (16 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce with 1 well drained can (8 ounces) mandarin oranges and 1 well drained can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple. Cover and refrigerate.

One Hour Before Dinner

  • Heat oven to 350F
  • Into a greased, shallow baking dish empty 2 packages (16 ounces each) of frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, etc.). Top with a package of seasoned bread crumbs combined with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and dot with butter or margarine. Cover and place in oven.
  • Drain one large (40 ounce) can of yams or sweet potatoes. In a deep, well greased casserole dish, mash the yams with 1/4 cup each maple syrup and orange juice, 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and salt. Cover and place in oven.
  • Stack turkey slices cut 1/4 to 1/2 thick from the deli in the middle of a large, well buttered, sheet of foil. Rub some dried sage onto each slice. Wrap well in the buttered foil, place in a shallow baking dish and place in oven.
  • Prepare 1 package of instant mashed potatoes using package directions either on stove top or in microwave.
  • Prepare one package of stove top style stuffing following package directions either on stove or in microwave.
  • Mix and heat 2 cans (12 ounces) of turkey or chicken gravy.
  • Toss 1 package of packaged mixed greens salad with diced fresh tomato, apple and cucumber.

10 Minutes Before Dinner

  • Uncover vegetable dish and return to oven to let brown.
  • Stir finely snipped chives into mashed potatoes.
  • Serve salad along with 2 or 3 bottled salad dressings and bread or rolls.

To Serve Dinner

  • Place cranberry sauce in small dish on table.
  • Spoon the mashed potatoes and the yams into serving bowls and bring to table.
  • Arrange turkey slices in middle of a large platter, spooning any juices from foil over top. Then spoon some gravy over top of turkey. Put remaining gravy in a gravy boat or other serving dish and bring the gravy to the table.
  • Arrange the stuffing on one side of the turkey on the large platter and the vegetables on the other side. Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley and bring to table.
  • Finish off with a pumpkin pie and some iced cream.

    There we are, dinner is served!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Pumpkin Pie image

    photo by SanFranAnnie via Flickr

8 Holiday Knitting Patterns for Christmas Stockings

ball of red wool yarn

photo by simplyla

With only 5 short weeks left until Christmas we sometimes feels as though we don’t have enough time to think let alone knit up a few great gifts. With Thanksgiving just a few days away for most of the Frugal Family Life readers, the air is crackling with a mixture of excitement, stress, fun and panic is equal portions. Holiday music is playing in the malls. Many folks have their holidays lights up and will begin trimming the Christmas trees over the holiday weekend.

As I looked through my own holiday decorations the other day, I realized that some of our Christmas stockings are getting a bit tattered looking and it might be time to get some new ones. Which led me to dig through my yarn stash and do a search for free Christmas Stocking patterns. I’m going to attempt to get 2 matching stockings knit this year. Below are 8 free Christmas stocking patterns I’ve found online this week but I haven’t settled on a pattern yet. I love the simplicity and old fashioned feeling of the Striped Christmas Stocking. The Fisherman (or Aran) Stocking is so elegant in that creamy wool. Nicky Epstein’s Stocking is so fun and lively. My yarn stash has yield nothing that would be suitable for Christmas Stockings so I have a hunch that I’ll be leaving the final stocking decision until I’m in the yarn shop tomorrow to choose.

In the meantime, here are 8 lovely free Christmas Stocking patterns to knit that range from very basic to intermediate knitting levels.
I’ll share some photos of my stocking progress soon.

Christmas Stockings to Knit

Knit Christmas Stocking Pattern Books

There are some great knitting books with just Christmas Stocking patterns out there as well!

Amazon.com Widgets

Only 12 Weeks (That’s 84 Days!) ’til Christmas!

Santa Run
Did your heart just start racing at the thought of Christmas?

Are you one of those people who plans and prepares months in advance or are you one of those people that seem to get caught by surprise when December rolls around?

Do you set and stick to a Holiday spending budget or do you spend the 6 months after the Christmas Holidays paying off the debt you racked up on gifts?

Do you spend the Christmas Holidays enjoying friends, family, and the holiday season or do you wind up feeling tired, frazzled, overwhelmed, anxious and stressed?

I’ve definitely been the frazzled, tired, stressed and overwhelmed Mom during the holidays and I’ve had my share of years spending months paying off my credit cards after the holidays and it’s sucked the holiday spirit out of my home many times.

On the other hand, I’ve had Christmas Holidays that went smoothly. Gifts were all purchased (or made) and wrapped up months in advance. No last minute running to the malls. No pressure or stress. And believe me, those Christmas Holidays were wonderful and filled with Holiday spirit.

Over the next 12 weeks we’re going to bring you lots of ways to take the stress out of the Christmas Holidays including:

  • frugal gifts you can make
  • frugal decorations you can make
  • holiday party ideas
  • holiday recipes
  • holiday budgeting tips
  • holiday calendar planning
  • much, much more

If you have any tips, suggestions, or questions please contact us. We’re always happy to hear from you :)