Store brands vs. “real” brands

March 18, 2014 Comments Off

I am not big on store brands. Generally, they have failed and been crap. However, in an effort to save money I did buy the UP&UP Target store brand for liquid dishwasher soap.

FAIL. Crap. It films the glasses and leaves a lemony tasty film on the dishes. Thanks but I’ll spend another $1 and go back to Cascade.

Way back in the day when we were trying to do some Penny Pincher stuff, I made her cocoa from scratch recipe. OMG was that stuff like CHALK… pure unadulterated crap. You see it all over Pinterest about making your own this and that, and for the most part, in my trials, made-at-home-products have failed over and over again to produce the results that a commercial product can give me.

This is the problem with these coupon queens who seem to get something for nothing.

1.) they buy what is on sale, regardless if they need it. That doesn’t save me money.

2.) they buy store brands or “cheaper” brands that in my experience (see above) suck. So you save 75 cents and have a brand that simply doesn’t work. Is that a savings? I don’t think so. Another example is Birdseye vs. Green Giant. Birdseye puts more of the stems in the frozen vegetables and heavily pads their mixes with cauliflower, vs. Green Giant produces a better quality product in the frozen vegetables arena.

Yes, I do have some brand loyalty – not because of their advertising but because the product IS better (give me Ghirardelli over Nestle any day – and Godiva over that).

3.) they stockpile. Well I don’t want to tie up my money in a closet full of toilet paper. If you want to “work” your money that way go ahead but money in the hand is always better than money tied up in a purchase.

4.) they shop sales and go to multiple stores. I work now and have a lot of responsibilities outside the home. I don’t have time to go to the Dollar Store, Target, Wal-mart, Big Lots, etc…. so I can save $5. Time IS money and I would rather work with one or two stores that provides me consistent values.

Don’t get fooled by this “get groceries for nothing.” I would rather stick to brands that work – brands that taste good – brands that give me good quality – than stuff that simply is crap.

And I guess making chalk-tasting hot chocolate powder is a savings because no one will drink it!

Shopping and saving at Target

March 8, 2014 Comments Off

targetebookLike I’ve written before, while I like coupons and “deals” I’m not a super coupon shopper. I don’t see the sense in having my money tied up in stockpiling a closet with floor to ceiling toilet paper that just happened to be on sale.

I don’t see the sense in buying candy or soda just because I have a coupon as I don’t regularly need this stuff or buying a brand (for me it’s Febreeze) that I simply don’t like.

However, the cost of groceries for a family of four has gone up again so I decided to check out his Amazon Target Shopping ebook ($2.99 book at the time of purchase).

Okay for those diehard Walmart shoppers… Target matches about 99.9 percent of their prices because I have compared receipts at both. The idea that Walmart is “cheaper” is really just Walmart coasting on a reputation. For me I like the cleaner store at Target and since I have two Super Targets (offering groceries) within 5 miles of my house, Target is my store of choice.

The book would have been better at 99 cents and did have a few helpful facts:

1.) Friday is the day that all merchandise for that week has been marked down.

2.) You can go online and print off Target coupons.

3.) Target has an additional coupon system called Cartwheel (this was the most helpful tip for me as Target seems to “hide” it online).

4.) Use your own bags and get a nickel off for each bag used.

5.) Use the RedCard and get another 5%. If you don’t want the credit card they have a debit card BUT on the application form they still ask for your Social Security card!! Considering Targets well publicized security breach I really don’t want to provide this info. I will ask at Target next week and see if you can apply without it and if a credit check is done.

What the book really didn’t cover was that merchandise (especially seasonal, which includes summer stuff) has certain time periods it is discounted. That’s how I bought Girl Scout camping stuff back in the troop leader days. If you want to know more about how that works check out this Mom’s blog, Totally Target, All Things Target, or Targets official Facebook page. Pretty much all the info in the ebook you can find at these sites.

PIN: DIY cleaning rag recipes from Pinterest

February 22, 2014 Comments Off



If you like Orange cleansers but want something with fewer chemicals, here’s an easy DIY. Its orange peels topped off with white vinegar in a glass container you can seal (recycled pasta sauce jars in my case), left to soak for at least two weeks, before placing in a spray bottle (in this photo, I’ve used a recycled olive oil bottle with its plastic strainer and metal cap). Here’s the original post by Fountain Avenue Kitchen.

My use: With the vinegar content, try this on shiny surfaces like stove tops, dishwasher fronts, fridge fronts and countertops. Not sure how it would work on mirrors but will give it a try and report back.




Another very simple cleanser is wipe rags scented with Peppermint soap.  I simplified this recipe by cutting a step – using Essential Oils; while I have it on hand, I found the peppermint soap gave me better smell. Visit the original post by One Good Thing by Jillie.

Use a bunch of clean, cut up t-shirts or other thin material (I found a bundle of white wipe rags at Target as all old t-shirts were used up long ago), with 1 cup warm water and 2 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint scented Castile Soap. Soak the rags in the mixture, wring, and stuff in a glass container you can seal (again with the recycled pasta sauce jars!). Pull out to use, rinse and re-use but don’t put a dirty rag back in with clean. I have one jar upstairs and one down.

My use: cleaning countertops, wiping down surfaces, wiping out sinks and tubs (if you need scrubbing action sprinkle baking soda over the area), wiping off the exterior of toilets etc… The good thing I like about these, is you can rinse, wring out and use again a few times before the soap is completely gone.



I’ve tried this with Oranges OR Lemons, and for me, I prefer the Lemons.  I’ve changed this recipe from the original at Growing Home Blog (blog post is gone now) by decreasing the vinegar and increasing the Olive oil: 1 c. water, 1/2 c. vinegar, 1/4 cup Olive Oil, 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, and Lemon peels. I whisk it together (vinegar and oil will separate if left on their own) and soak rags, wring and tuck in a sealable glass jar, layering lemon peels throughout.

I doubled the above recipe, used about five lemons (quartered, skin peeled off, pulp juiced with a potato masher – watch out for lemon juice squirts!) and got about 6 dust rags in two recycled pasta sauce jars.


For best results, wait to use for at last two weeks after setting up. To make it last longer make sure lemon peels are dry (not wet) and have NO pulp before putting in the jar. Do not put used rags back in with the clean as this brings in contamination and the jar contents will mold. One unopened jar lasted at least 6 weeks as I forgot about it LOL! My only problem with this is I go through these very quickly and it takes so much time for them to set up.

My use: my favorite rag for dusting wooden surfaces.


If you are going to use these materials on a regular basis, I would plan on having at least four jars of each, using 1-2, while rotating others to let them “cure.” For example, Week 1 you are using 1 jar, and curing two others; Week 2 you start the second jar and set up two more to cure etc..


PIN: Dealing with tarnished silver

February 2, 2014 Comments Off


This cleaning solution is to de-tarnish silver: line your sink with aluminum foil, add 1/2 c table salt, 1/2 c. baking soda, fill with hot water, then dump in all the silver. Let sit for about 30 min.

I put in some silverware that I found at a junk/antique and it did a nice job of removing a good layer of the tarnish. For a truly nice shine, I did need to finish off with some silver polish. Overall, though I was pretty impressed by how much tarnish it really took off. The biggest tip is to be sure to let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

PIN: a few not-so-great or failed cleaning Pinterests

January 18, 2014 Comments Off


Homemade Goo Gone used Baking Soda and Cooking Oil. Didn’t work. It’s just a scrubbing paste like anything would be when you combine Baking Soda.

Removing Bottle Labels with Baking Soda, Vinegar and dish soap. This did an “okay” job but is no “magic” method by any means. I used it on glass jars that held Spaghetti sauce, honey, salsa etc… While it did help to remove the jars, especially if you soak them. However, I still had to use commercial Goo Gone to remove all the stickers and glue.

Cleaning stinky towels with vinegar must be the most overrated Pin on Pinterest. After trying this on regular dirty towels, to mild smell to one really horrible towel, I ended up with towels that STILL didn’t smell clean AND had a strange feel to them. That strange feel to the towels is due to the Vinegar (everyone crows about as the ultimate cleaner) and 30 washes later these towels still have a rough, stiff feel to them due to this one method. YUCK!

Kitchen breakfast bar converted to shelf unit

December 21, 2013 Comments Off

I’ve always hated the breakfast bar in our house. It was never used and always in the way. In the re-design this going to become a bookshelf and display unit. We played around with several ideas and some of the inspiration photos you can view in my Pinterest board for Kitchen (2013), specifically, this shelf design in the kitchen by Ross Chapin.

Supply list:

3: 1x12x12
3: 1x2x8
1: 1x4x8
1: 1x6x8
trim decorative molding
base molding for kitchen area

First, the breakfast bar countertop is removed and one side trimmed down to the new countertop level. We marked out with green painters’ tape on the ceramic floor the footprint size of the shelf unit.

Because it would have been impossible for us (with our skills) to redo the back to match the original (see end of breakfast bar) we covered it with beadboard. Eventually, the end of this cabinet unit (where the white outlet is on the right) will also be covered with beardboard and all painted the cream chalk paint color.

The next step is to start building the frame of the actual shelf unit. These boards are Poplar, a nice compromise as oak would have been very expensive in the size of boards we were working with (and would have been painted in the long run) and pine would have been too soft. There are two upright boards, and three long horizontal boards (one not visible in the photo below) on the floor.

The left end board has been nailed to the wall. To make these types of units go easily, I highly recommend buying or renting a nail gun. Using a nail and hammer just doesn’t make it go together easily and with less effort as a nail gun and compressor.

Here you can see the inside placement of boards to allow for the bottom shelf to rest upon, and for the edge to be hidden by the front horizontal board.

The bottom shelf rests on the boards and is nailed in place.

On the inside of the uprights, a small piece of wood is placed for the next shelf to rest upon.

At this point, you can only see it if you look under the shelf. A long, horizontal bracing piece was also placed against the back of the unit to support the shelf. A front piece of horizontal board allows for a smooth profile.

None of this support is noticeable from above. Two vertical boards are nailed on the front to make a smoother profile:

The vertical board are not the same height – their shorter size allows a horizontal facing board across the top of the unit.

Another view of the end of the to show how the boards were fitted together

The inside uprights, that divided the top shelf into three units is set behind the facing boards. It is nailed in at several points, including the front, the bottom and toenailed in at the back with hand hammering.

The completed, unpainted unit:

I’ll put some before and after pics once I get the unit painted. I also hope to get a better diagram of how the boards came together so that will posted at a latter date. I’m not sure when we can afford new countertops as they will be a major expense. My next big investment has to be a new downstairs AC unit not pretty granite countertops! :)

Family Room ceiling lighting

December 14, 2013 Comments Off

The large family room got 12 recessed lights in the ceiling. Finally! light in the gloomiest room of the house! I would take a photo but the living room is in such a disgusting level of disarray from the move back it would too embarrassing.

We will be trimming the ceiling in squares something similar to this but simpler. Our ceiling, while recessed, is lower in the family room than the room on the blog I’ve linked too. Consequently, I’ll be using a shallow, faux, trim with just 1×6 and cove molding. I’ll do a show-and-tell post when we get to that point.


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