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Cool furniture repurposing ideas

Do you have old and unused piece in the house? Perhaps you can’t throw it out due to emotional attachment. Don’t worry! We understand that you want to do something productive with it and add some life to your house at the same time. The perfect solution? Repurpose your furniture. All you need is to be a little creativity. Here are some ideas:
Ladder it up Have a spare small wooden stepladder in your house, taking up storage space? Use any vibrant spray paint to decorate the ladder – bright and splashy, or low key and neutral. When you are finished painting, fix the stepladder on any bare wall in the house. This will function as a display mantel and an instant crowd pleaser.
Front door, or coffee table? I have an amazing idea of turning a front door into a customized coffee table for anywhere in the house. You will be giving your old door a new life. Have your wooden door polished, glue it to four legs and voila! - a coffee table.
Suitcase Have a wooden or any trendy suitcase that is too pretty to use? Clean your suitcase or give it a polish if necessary and put it on a structure with legs like all other dressing tables have. Now you have an antique and a very different dressing or side table – great for storage.
French doors Don’t you just love and adore French doors? They can also be used as tables. Attach the door to legs, and give it a nice finish and get ready to brag.
Chair or drinks holder Have a spare chair in your room that takes up a lot of space and isn’t used? Take out its cushion and drill a hole in it big enough to accommodate your drinks pitcher – ready for your next party.
Wallpaper table Reuse an old damaged table just by covering it with any floral or simple wallpaper. It will look stylish, exquisite and smart.
Bookshelf table You can also turn a built-up wire spindle into a blend bookstand and coffee table.
For more new and innovative home decor ideas, visit

Your wedding: staying on budget

While planning a wedding can be creative, fun and stressful in equal measures, one of the biggest elements likely to cause arguments and disappointments if it’s not sorted out early on is the budget.
It’s important to decide who is paying for what, from the start, and write down the budget so that it’s really clear to everyone involved. If you are paying for the wedding between you, you need to agree on how much you both think is reasonable. If your parents or relatives are contributing to the wedding, carefully consider if the money gives them any kind of level of influence on how you actually spend that money and if so, your comfort level with that.
Once you have established the ground rules for the budget, break it into all of the key elements to make sure you both have the same vision for how much all of the details will cost. Identify the most vital elements first, as it is really easy to get carried away spending money on things that really don’t matter, like expensive linens, or invitation designs. What you need to make sure you budget for is a ceremony venue, wedding cloths for the couple, and the rings. These vital elements should be budgeted for as the first priority. After these, everything else is really optional according to your theme, size of budget left and number of guests you want to invite. Other items typically involved in the big day include a photographer, reception venue, food and drink and the honeymoon. These are really expected elements for any wedding and although they can vary in cost depending on your theme and numbers. Don’t forget that many venues will require a deposit to be paid, and you may have to do the same for the dress and rings.
Moving down the scale on importance, but not necessarily cost, if you are planning to buy flowers for the venue, reception venue and of course a bridal bouquet, these can quickly add up and become an expensive part of the day. Talk to your florist to find out what the less expensive options might be (such as using native flowers in season). If you are staying overnight at a hotel the night before or after the wedding or perhaps both, then this will also need to be paid for and it’s worth being very clear on who is paying for any relatives’ accommodation to avoid any surprises when you get the hotel bill after the event.
Transport is another expense  – have you hired an expensive car just to take you 100 yards from the church to the reception? If so, it may be worth reconsidering. Bear in mind if there is any distance between the venues you may have to consider coach hire for your guests as well. Consider having the ceremony and reception at the same venue.
Have any budget left? Other pricey elements of a wedding you may consider include invitations, cake, table decorations, favours and dresses, hair/makeup and presents for your bridesmaids, honeymoon clothes, entertainment/music… the possibilities are endless.
Finally, stay focused on the important aspect of the day – your soon-to-be spouse. Be realistic: being in debt for a one-day party is really no way to start your life together.

Easy chocolate cake recipe (with a little history thrown in)

When many of us we were children, our very own “tightwad” parents were feeding us mountains of carrots and green leafy veggies onto our plates as an inexpensive and easy way to ensure we’d have healthy vision as we grew. But, like Popeye and his can of spinach, some of these tales were bit far fetched. Was eating plenty of carrots, full of essential vitamins and nutrients for health and strong eyesight, the really the right path to perfect 20/20 vision?
Look at it this way (ha ha), when some of our grandparents were coming of age during WWII, countries were experiencing government-mandated food shortages. War rations included basic necessities such as sources of dairy and protein.
As households were struggling to make do without their usual amounts of these ingredients, the government war machine released a story like this one, about an RAF fighter pilot nicknamed “Cat Eyes,” for his propensity to shoot down enemy aircraft at night (19/20 of which were downed were in the dark). This campaign was likely released to be effective on a number of different levels: It promoted the Victory Garden movement, (but that is a different post for another time). Carrots and other leafy green vegetables could help children and adults see in the dark, and that vegetables contain sugar, missed during the time of war rations. By doing so, eating more carrots would be seen as helping the war effort. 
Meanwhile other sources of sustenance were utilized as households dealt with the allocated war rations. Who hasn’t heard of apple pie made with crackers instead of apples? They used restrictions as opportunities to create new recipes that helped to ease the pain of having no sugar or chocolate.
Here is an easy chocolate cake recipe that doesn’t require eggs or milk. 
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar (it reacts with the soda and makes the cake fluffier)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water 
Combine dry ingredients into a non-greased 13 x 9” baking pan. Make three small “wells” into the dry ingredients with the back of a spoon, one larger than the other two. Into the largest one, pour in the measured vegetable oil. In the other two, measure and place vinegar into one and the vanilla extract into the other. Pour two cups of cold water over the mixture and combine with a fork. Bake at 375o for about 30 to 40 minutes. Check that it’s baked with a toothpick inserted into the centre and when it comes out clean - take it out to cool. Frost if you like but it’s great by itself.

Get your quiche on!

Tightwad has never met anyone who doesn't like quiche. It's an inexpensive way to get some protein in your family and keep a tight inventory on stuff in your fridge. Some call that a "mash up." Here's a quick recipe that will have you wondering why you never thought of making this easy dish before. 

- Preheat oven to 350o degrees 
- Sauté whatever veggies you want to add (to reduce water content)
- Take the two frozen pie shells you bought earlier (!) out of the packaging (deeper shells are better) and put on a sheet pan (or go crust-less by pouring mixture directly into pie plate)
- Mix 6 eggs and 2 cups of milk (that's 3 eggs and one cup of milk per shell) in a large bowl
- Grate cheese, add to mixture
- Season with salt and pepper (and whatever else... maybe you want to use dill?
- Add cooled sautéed veggies and meat if you plan to
- Combine everything with a whisk
- Ladle into pie shell
- Bake approximately 45 minutes
- Check it is cooked and remove from oven and let cool a bit before serving to set

Cheese ideas: Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, blue
Meat ideas: ham, cooked pieces chicken, cooked pieces of beef, bacon, salmon
Vegetable ideas: sautéed mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, minced garlic, red onion, capers, asparagus...

The possibilities are endless. Here are some examples:

Once you get a "feel" for the recipe you can really experiment! What are your tips for making the perfect quiche?

Easy green living tips to share with your kids

Teaching kids how to reduce their carbon footprint and gain an eco-friendly mindset helps them understand the importance of a healthy planet and develop an awareness of their impact on the environment. Careful consideration of daily habits and early education can lower an individual footprint – one step at a time. Here are some easy ways to start:
Flip the Switch and Unplug Lowering energy consumption (and cost) can be as easy as just flipping the switch. Teach kids to turn off lights each time they leave a room. Also encourage them to open window coverings and use sunlight as the main light source during daylight hours.  Beware of “phantom power: use - unplug all appliances when not in use.
Precious H20 According to the report The Carbon Footprint of Water, it is estimated “that US water-related energy use is at least 521 million MWh a year—equivalent to 13% of the nation’s electricity consumption.” Check for and fix leaky faucets and limit hot water usage by retrofitting fixtures and appliances. Children can help by ensuring that faucets are turned off while brushing teeth and after hand washing. Promote short showers… perhaps put an egg timer by the shower to limit length.
Recycle An important place to instill good green habits for children is to teach them early on how to sort recyclables (and going the extra step in considering the amount of packaging that comes into the home to begin with). Create easily accessible separate bins for paper, plastic/tin/glass and waste. Find out if your local municipality supports aluminum and glass recycling at a sorting facility.
Reuse Buying re-usable water bottles and containers is an eco-conscious way to teach kids how to avoid unnecessary waste. Have kids help pack their lunches and use reusable BPA-free plastic containers for sandwiches and snacks.
Ditch the car Walk or bike to easy-to-reach destinations instead of driving. Not only does it help teach kids more responsible ways of mobility, it promotes fitness.
Thrift and be thrifty With the rise of ‘fast fashion’ more and more clothing is landing in landfills across the country. According to a blog by the EPA, 25.5 BILLION pounds of “useable textiles” are tossed as waste each year. Instead of throwing away used clothes, donate garments to a charity. If an item is too stained or worn to donate, make cleaning cloths from them or have kids use old shirts for painting or craft projects. Visit thrift stores so kids can see what treasures they might discover from the donations of others.

Eco-conscious behaviors and habits can begin at any age. Teach kids their role in the environment by helping them embrace a more mindful lifestyle that benefits us all.

Great meal options for broke college students

We all know going to college isn’t cheap, and if you’re paying for tuition, room and board and your car, you probably don’t have much money left for food. Here are some awesome and fairly healthy options you can make for as little as a few dollars per meal.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich For about $5.97, you can purchase a loaf of bread ($1.99), a jar of peanut butter ($1.99) and a jar of jelly ($1.99). With these supplies, you can make about 10 servings, so you get 10 servings for less than $0.60.
Scrambled Eggs and Toast Purchase a dozen eggs for about $1.99, a loaf of bread for $1.99, and some additional toppings for just another dollar. These supplies can make six servings, at a cost of $0.83 per serving.
Sausage, Peppers and Onions For about $10, you can purchase Italian sausage links ($4), a sweet onion ($1), 2 peppers ($3), garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper ($0.50), and a box of pasta ($1). This will make six servings at a cost per serving only $1.61. Sauté sliced onions, peppers, and garlic with oil, salt, and pepper and add the cooked pasta.
BLT Sandwich Purchase a pound of bacon for $4, a loaf of bread for $1.99, medium tomatoes for $1.60, and a heart of romaine lettuce for just $1.  This will make five servings at about $1.71 per serving.
Tuna Melt For about $6.47, you can buy the supplies needed for four tuna melts: 2 cans of tuna, plus mayonnaise to mix in ($2.48), a loaf of bread ($1.99), four slices of cheese ($0.50), and two medium tomatoes ($1.60). This is about $1.62 per serving.
Fried Rice With 2 or more cups of leftover cooked rice (“free”), ¼ cup of soy sauce ($0.50), minced garlic, sugar, and olive oil ($0.50), an onion ($1), 2 eggs ($0.50), and frozen vegetables ($1.29), you can make six servings for about $.063.
Pancakes with Apples Pancake mix and milk is only $2, and apples are only $2 for this recipe. Follow the directions on your pancake mix box and then add your fruit for pancakes a $0.66 cents a serving.
Pot Roast You can purchase a rump roast for about $10, six potatoes for $2, and a bag of carrots for $2. The cost per serving is just $1.40. Place the roast in a slow cooker for three hours on high, and then add your chopped potatoes and carrots, season and cook for another three hours.
Hummus and Cucumber Crostini A bag of bagel chips for $1.99, a container of hummus for $3, and a cucumber for $1 makes ten servings, at $0.59 a serving.
Oatmeal and Banana Purchase 24 ounces of oats for about $2.99 and some bananas for $2. Simply make the oatmeal and combine with your sliced banana.
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Purchase a loaf of bread ($1.99), sliced cheese ($0.50), 2 cans of stock ($1.99), 1 can of crushed tomatoes ($1), 1 cup of heavy cream ($1), and fresh basil ($1.99). Make grilled cheese as you normally would. Combine the other ingredients in a pot and stir until heated through.
Egg and Bean Burrito A can of black beans ($1), a pack of tortillas ($1.88) and a dozen eggs ($1.99) can come together to make 8 burritos for just $0.61 a serving.
Sticky Rice Two cups of uncooked rice ($1), canned vegetables ($1.19), and soy sauce ($1.99) can be steamed together to create a take-out like meal for about $0.70 a serving.
Ratatouille For an easy version of this gourmet dish, stir fry 2 onions ($2), 3 bell peppers ($4), 2 eggplants ($3), 2 zucchini ($1.50), 4 cloves of garlic ($0.50), 2lbs tomatoes ($4.98), and thyme and basil ($1). Serve with four cups of steamed rice. This makes 10 servings at $1.80 each.
Zucchini Pizza Purchase four large zucchinis ($3), a jar of pizza sauce ($1.50), and two cups of cheese ($2). Slice zucchinis lengthwise and scoop out the insides. Add sauce and bake until zucchini is soft, then top with cheese and cook until cheese is melted.