Well I just can't seem to pull my mind together this week, I've been so distracted by all the real-life drama. So I'm going to extend the mini-hiatus until Monday, and Mr. Scrimp and I are going to brave the snow and take a weekend off in Pittsburgh.

I'll probably tweet a lot of the trip, but aside from Twitter, don't look for another post until then, when I expect to be refreshed and ready to jump back in!


Blogging has been light for me these last few days, I know. Partly this is a money issue--we had some car trouble, so we don't have extra funds this month for buying the items I need to complete craft projects, leaving me with less to blog about.

It's also a health issue. While I am generally healthy in the sense that I'm rarely sick via contagion, I do have a chronic illness (endometriosis) that frequently leaves me tired or in pain. We've just started dealing with a new issue connected to that, so I spent a lot of time at the doctor's yesterday and was so emotionally exhausted by it that I didn't do anything last night except curl up in bed with Mr. Scrimp and watch TV.

Tonight is our weekly game night with friends, so I expect I'll be ready to go back to regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow morning.

In the meantime.. leave a comment and give me one link to YOUR blog and at least one link to another blog you read so I can have some fresh inspiration!

Product Review: Hot Prints Photobook

Last month, I found a website for a company called HotPrints that is running a year-long promotion--one free photo book per month, with free shipping, for twelve months. Crazy rad, right?

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I decided to go ahead and see what I could do with it. I uploaded some photos from our wedding and went to work.

The website itself was pretty easy to use. It took a while to upload enough photos to fill the book, but it was very simple once everything was uploaded--just a lot of clicking and dragging. There were a tolerable number of layout and design varieties, and I was pretty happy with the potential of my book when I finished.

Well, it got here a couple of days ago. I'd say it took maybe 3 weeks but I was silly and didn't actually record the exact interval.

All in all, I can't complain about something that was free. Still, I wasn't completely satisfied. Photos were smaller in the book than the preview made it look like they would be. The book was paperback, more like a 20-page comic book than anything else (slightly heavier paper). The print quality wasn't bad, but the photos did turn out a little dark, so if I do it again I'll have to be sure that I lighten my photos more than I think they need before uploading them.

The promotion is sponsored by advertising of course, so there was a full 2-page spread of ads printed in the middle of the book, although it's designed to be easily torn out. I have to admit, I didn't even look at it--just ripped it out and tossed it in the trash.

There are also ads on the outside back cover, which is of course a little harder to tear off and throw away.

I'll probably make another one or two of these, because hey, it's free, and you could put together a nice little collection of comic book-sized mini photo albums without much trouble.

Overall verdict? It's definitely not a service I would pay any significant quantity of money for, when there are much higher-quality services out there with better layout options and hardcover books. But, if you've got some photos that you want to put into a booklet without spending a ton of money and don't care about those things, you've got nothing to lose, really.

Note: This review represents my opinion only, and was not sponsored or paid for.

Five Dollar Decor: Framed Art

One of the things that I find makes a home feel most finished is hanging framed artwork on the walls. I don't even care what's in the frames, really--there's just something about one or two or twenty(!) frames, neatly hung, that says a place is lived in by someone who cares about their surroundings.

Thing is, framed artwork--if you just buy it--is really expensive, especially when you get into bigger pieces.

So, what you should do instead is make it!

Theme Songs

I was reading the Blah Blah Blahger today in my feed reader. First of all, I realized that I haven't really done any blog reading since Wednesday. Oops! Well, I've been busy not procrastinating, so there's my excuse.

On Wednesday, JJ talked about theme songs, and how finding and applying a theme song to your life can really help you get a sesne of purpose or calm. Odd as this sounds, because I think the concept smacks of the sort of self-help-y nonsense that normally drives me crazy, I have found this to be totally true. I've always had theme songs over the years, although I tend not to trumpet the fact. There just always seems to be a song that fits how I feel about myself and my life at a given point in time.

I'm going to admit right now, my theme song is one that you may think is hackneyed or over-used. You might think it's totally trite to pick this... but, well, I don't care.

Anyway, it's really Mr. Scrimp's fault.

Three Excuses for Procrastination.. and why not to listen

I didn't write a blog post yesterday, because I had a lot of things to do off the computer. I drove Mr. Scrimp to work. I worked out. I drove me to work. I worked. I came home and we made dinner and then I spent hours cleaning.

All in all, sounds pretty good, right? Well, no, because...

Link: Shabby Chic Cottage

Mr. Scrimp and I are in the middle of organizing and setting up our spare room to be an office/craft room, after almost eight months of using it for storage (read: piling things up when we don't want to deal with having them in the rest of the house). As a result, all my crafting stuff has been moved from disorganized piles on the floor to semi-organized piles on a shelf and I've been too busy to actually do much crafting.

But... when I do, this is the next project on my list--a rectangular cloth basket, designed by Gina at the Shabby Chic Cottage.

Go here for the how-to.

Valentine's Day Recap and Recipe: Strings of Flats

Well, in spite of having said he wasn't really big on Valentine's day, Mr. Scrimp came through for me, like I was sure he would.

This is our first-ever Valentine's Day together. Last year, we were engaged but in different states on Valentine's Day, and the year before that, we weren't even dating yet! Needless to say, this was a pretty memorable day.

Link: Valentine's Day Wall Art

I love this Valentine's Day wall art from Secret Pie Shoppe! The whole project was made with nothing but scrapbook paper and a little cardstock--just a few dollars, if you don't have the materials on hand.

You could do this with pretty much any shape and color--squares or circles, hearts, what-have-you.  It definitely isn't limited to a Valentine's Day craft.

Follow the link for a how-to.

Mr. Scrimp

Almost exactly nine years ago, I met this guy...

Money Stress Management

I'd like to take a moment to talk about money, something that I haven't done a lot of recently but which definitely comes under the Scrimpalicious heading and mission statement (which is in my head). After all, I did start this blog with the intention of being helpful to people who haven't had years of practice at budgeting, making things, and trying to save money.

I just opened our gas bill, and to say I'm experiencing a little sticker shock is an understatement. I think that's probably the case for everyone, and those of you living in Southern states that have had all that unexpected snow can look forward to a similar experience next month, most likely.

So what do you do when a bill is way over what you budgeted for?

If "way over" just means an extra $20 or $50 and you can scrape it together, that's fine, but what if it's an extra $200 or even an extra $500? 

Well first, you make this face:



Well, we haven't had half the snow that places East of us have, but there's still been a fair amount of it here in Ohio.

Mr. Scrimp spent an hour and a half shoveling out our driveway yesterday. When I came home, I found that while he'd been shoveling, he built up a wall along the side of the driveway, along with some pre-Valentine's day graffiti.

When I went to take a picture this morning, a bit of the heart had been knocked down, but it says "D. <3 B. 4ever."

Very romantic, no?

Beating the Blahs: Yellow!

Winter is not only cold in terms of its temperature, but its color palette. Every where I look, things are hard white, black, blue, and gray. This is a fine color scheme to have but after a while it just gets so overwhelming and dreary. I can feel myself starting to get depressed because of the weather, and that is just no good. Time to be proactive and focus on things that will make me feel happier.

I did a lot of blog reading last year while planning the Scrimp Wedding Extravaganza (n.b., if you're planning a wedding, be sure to read this website for inspiration), and I fell in love with one of the color schemes that was a Popular New Thing last year--yellow, gray, and blue.

So I collected some pictures of yellow things-around-the-house, to lift your spirits and mine while we dig out from under all this snow.

Recipe: Challah

Although my family has a Jewish background, I was raised Christian, but in spite of not being a traditionally observant Jew (although I do celebrate the big holidays), I am trying to learn how to observe some kind of sabbath.

I really love to make challah. I've recently started a goal of trying to make a loaf every Friday morning, since Fridays are a late-start day for me and I don't need to go to work until 1. That way, we have fresh bread for the weekend and something special to eat on Saturdays.

This recipe takes me about two hours, from getting out the ingredients to taking the finished loaf out of the oven to cool. It's not as sweet as a traditional challah, but we like it that way because it means we can use it for sandwiches without getting a weird overly-sweetness to it, but can also sweeten it up with a bit of honey and butter, or with jelly.

I will say, I am generally afraid of trying kneaded, yeasty breads because I have had a lot of past experiences where what I got was a heavy, dry, crumbly loaf of flavorless blah... but this recipe so far has always turned out well for me, very elastic with few crumbs.

Project: Frame It!

Yesterday, while Mr. Scrimp was getting very involved with a new video game, I decided to do a little on-the-fly craft project. Back in October, we'd picked up four $5 black frames at Wal-Mart, hoping they would fit some prints we had on hand. Sadly, they didn't, and I never got around to returning them, so they just sat in a bag in our spare room for months.

Until yesterday!


Oh my gosh--this is my 100th post in this blog since October. That isn't a ton, but it's still a milestone and I feel good about it.

Sadly, it's going to be a short and pretty unmemorable post. I have spent my day doing crafty things and redecorating our mantel. There are pictures, but Mr. Scrimp and I are about to run out the door to a friend's birthday party, so I don't have time to download them off the camera just yet. Look for them tonight or tomorrow morning, along with instructions for copying my project.

Happy Saturday, friends!

Five Dollar Decor - Arts & Crafts Style

So, Mr. Scrimp and I were trying to figure out a good five dollar decor topic. We couldn't come up with one for the longest time, and then it hit me! Instead of talking about five variations on one thing--wall coverings, or whatever--what if I looked at five things you can add to or change about a room to make it feel more like a certain style of decor?

So this week, I dug up five things that you can do to make a room feel more Arts & Crafts. Now, when I say Arts & Crafts, I'm not talking about the thing you do with fingerpaint and popsicle sticks in kindergarten. No, I'm referring to the design movement pioneered by William Morris and John Ruskin at the turn of the century.

Think early Tiffany lamps, Stickley furniture, Frank Lloyd Wright, exposed wood beams, simple fabrics, geometric patterns, and leaded glass. The key here is simplicity. You should be able to replicate all of the following things for five dollars each.

Friday Mornings

Fridays are a late-start day for me at work. I don't go in until 1pm, but Mr. Scrimp still has to be at work by 7:30, so I have Friday mornings completely to myself.

Generally I write a Five Dollar Decor post if I haven't finished one for the week already, tool around on the Internet, maybe go to the gym,and just generally take it slow.

This morning, I had to drive Mr. Scrimp to work because my car is in the shop having its computer and brake lines replaced. I thought about going to the gym, but I wasn't feeling great. I thought about going back to bed, but I'd had a cup of tea when I got up. I thought about watching a movie, bu that's never as fun without Mr. Scrimp.

So instead, I made a loaf of challah, cleaned my kitchen and pantry, and tidied the dining room in preparation for the weekend. Normally, we just do our big cleaning jobs during the weekend, but what inevitably happens is that I get to Monday and feel like I didn't really relax. There's nothing relaxing about coming home to three days' worth of dishes, a dirty floor, and five loads of laundry.

The challah is baking, I have an hour before it's time to go to work, and now I can take my apron off without feeling irresponsible. Tomorrow, we'll have a day off the way we really ought to, with the chores and worries of the week set aside and nothing to do but get back in touch with what it means to be quiet.

Five Dollar Decor will be up, but tonight, after I get home from work and we pick up my car from the shop, probably.

In the meantime, think about planning a real day off, from housework as well as job-work--doing chores ahead so there are none to do except the most basic ones of cooking and tidying up after yourself as you go.

Shabbat Shalom!

Artful Framing

This is going to have to be a short blog entry this morning. Our rent check is due, which means I spent my morning (after dropping Mr. Scrimp off at work, because my car is in the shop), rushing around in a frenzy of tidying and last-minute cleaning to get our kitchen presentable before I leave for work, since the landlord will be letting himself in to collect the rent check off our fridge later today.

If I learned one thing from years of art classes, it's that anything looks better if you put it in a frame. There's something about framing that speaks of intention, forethought, and order. I'm sure it's got something to do with some deep psychological need for boundaries and organization and blah blah blah, but I'm happy to just stop with "I like how it looks."

I have six frames sitting in a bag in our all-purpose/storage/guest room that we picked up at Wal-Mart months ago, incredibly cheap. When I get home from work, I'm going to start framing things. What things? Ehh, who cares? I have plenty of things that would look nicer in a frame. I'll pick some.

For what I think might be the best example of how anything looks better in a frame, check out this five-minute project by The Nester. Also, check out this one. I was already planning to write about framing things, but she inspired me to get it done sooner.

I'll take some pictures tonight or tomorrow, to show you the results of Framing Mania 2010!

Winter Blahs

The weather here in Ohio has been pretty crazy this year. We've gone back and forth from balmy mid-40's to bitter, bitter cold (windchill -2) in the space of a day or two.

It was warm yesterday, and I had hopes that maybe it would stick around, but instead I woke up to this out my front window:


It's not that it's snowing very heavily, or that there's been a lot of accumulation (yet), but just the pyschological impact of yet another day with steadily falling snow and no sunlight. Blah.

I'm stuck in the doldrums, people. All I want to do is mope about the weather and the fact that it isn't spring yet, and that's no good.

What are you doing to beat the winter blahs? Leave a comment and give me some ideas for how to fight it off!

Fleischmann's Giveaway

I really love fresh-baked bread. I've even posted the recipe for the no-knead bread that I make. I also love cookbooks (and I've done a blog post about that, too!).

I was reading the fabulous blog A Year in Bread, and blogger Farmgirl Susan posted a link to a Fleischmann's Yeast giveaway for a no-knead bread cookbook! All you need to do is go here, fill out the form, print it, and mail it with $1 for shipping and handling to the Fleischmann's Yeast company (address on the website).

This offer is only good while supplies last, so you should probably jump on it now. I know I'm going to.

Project: Apothecary Jar

I am in love with apothecary  jars. Actually, I'm pretty much in love with all decorative jars. Unfortunately, the nice ones (like the three Pottery Barn jars shown here on the left) can be very expensive--starting between $40 and $60 apiece.

This weekend, after months of sighing and ogling and envying, I decided to jump on the bandwagon, imitate a project I've seen done various ways all over the Internet lately, and make my own darn jar. It was incredibly easy, and incredibly quick.

I spent roughly five minutes on this project, four and a half of which were waiting for my glue gun to warm up. Total cost? $2.

Pictures and instructions after the jump.


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