Sunday, September 25, 2016

Make a Hallloween Wreath for Under $20!!!!

Hello Everyone!
Okay, I tried, but I just can't wait!!!!!  I had to start sharing some of my Halloween craft ideas. I know that it is a week before we even get to October, but I figured a little early Halloween crafting isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I have several different easy Halloween crafts that I want to post this year, but I am going to start out with a super easy Halloween wreath.
I have something of an addiction to wreaths in general.  I love a wreath on my door for almost any occasion and Halloween is no exception.  I wish I could say that this wreath was my idea and creation, but in truth, it is a modification of a craft idea that I saw in a Better Homes and Gardens special Halloween Tricks & Treats magazine published in 2014.

Isn't this so cute?!?! I had to make one.  This is the original wreath which, they say, takes less than 10 minutes to make.

I saw this wreath and fell in love with it and just had to create it.  So I went on a search in Lowe's and Home Depot to find the ceiling medallion or at least to find one that looks a lot like it.  (I already had the orange glossy spray paint because my mother-in-law had already made her wreath and she was nice enough to give me the magazine and  her can with the leftover paint.) 
I found the medallion at Lowe's and was appalled to find out that it cost $30!  This went way over my top budget for wreaths--which is nothing over $20.  I was all set to go home empty handed when I spotted another medallion and had a Eureaka moment. They had a sort of circular medallion that, to me, looked like a white spider web.  And it was just $15!!!!  So I purchased it and decided that I would modify the wreath and make mine look a little more like a spider web.  It would take a little more time, but I was determined.
Here is the final result:

I know, it doesn't have quite the elegance of the other one.  But I still love it!

This is super easy to do, so the instructions for this are going to be virtually non-existent.


Super Easy Ceiling Medallion Halloween Wreath

1 unpainted ceiling medallion
1 can glossy orange spray paint
1 bottle glossy acrylic paint
1 small paint brush
1 can glossy clear enamel spray paint (optional)
1 decorative spider  (Or Halloween themed ornament of your choice)
1 black ribbon.  (You can use any width that you want, mine is 2 inches wide and I used some black and white ribbon that I already had from another project that I had previously purchased at Hobby Lobby.)

1.  In a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors, spray paint the ceiling medallion with the glossy orange paint.  I did three coats and let the paint dry for at least 15 minutes per coat. But how many coats you do is your own personal choice.  (I tend to do light coats and layer.  Others I know like to do one thick coat and then just leave it alone until it dries.)
2.  Once the orange paint was dry, I painted the raised "outline" areas of the medallion.  This created the look of the "web"
3.  Let sit overnight so paint can dry.
4.  Once paint is completely dry, spray with glossy clear enamel. (You don't have to do this stage, but it will help the black acrylic paint to stay on the medallion and not be so easy to scratch off.)
5.  Let the enamel dry.
6.  Measure your ribbon for how low you want your wreath to hang and how big you would like your bow to be. 
7.  Put the ribbon through the center whole with both sides of the ribbon being of equal length.
8.  Slide your spider ornament down the ribbon and center it in the center of the medallion.

I got my spider for $1.00 at Michael's.  I think that it is supposed to be one of those Halloween tree decorations as it came with both the wire that I used to hang it from the ribbon and a clip.  I loved that its body was faceted like a little black diamond.

9.  Tie the ribbon in a bow.
10.  Hang wreath using the knot part of the bow.

You are done.
And it was super easy to do.

I do have one piece of advice.  You may have noticed in the picture with the close up of the spider that there is a spot on the upper right area of the wreath where it looks like the paint has been "smooshed".  This was not like this when I finished the wreath last year.  This happened from storing the wreath in the attic and placing a plastic bag full of pine cones on top of it.  The extreme heat of the attic melted the wreath!!!!
So, if you live in Louisiana, store your wreath where it is air conditioned so that it doesn't melt in the attic.
Keep checking back in as I will be posting even more super easy and fun craft ideas for Halloween.  I will also post some super yummy Halloween inspired recipes!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Road to Recovery Recipes and some FEMA advice

Hello Everyone!
Today's post was inspire by one of my friends who was deeply effected by the flood.  People are starting to move on with their lives and trying to repair their homes.  In the meantime, their houses are not safe to stay in and they are living with friends, family, or are in small apartments or rental houses that do not have the space that they are used to.  Also, they are going thru a rebuilding stage that most of us only experience when we leave home for the first time and we start renting our first apartment. 

This is my Frugal Femme wearing one of the LA strong shirts.  I am very proud of how my city has come together and helped each other.

This really didn't hit me until one of my friends and coworkers, knowing that I write this blog, asked me: "Okay Carole, you're frugal.  Come up with some menus for me that don't take up a lot of space, ingredients or cookware, because I am low on all of these items."
Mission accepted.
So, I thought back to my college days when I had a crap kitchen, virtually no cookware, and a refrigerator that didn't even go up to my waist and tried to think of some recipes that could be modified for my friend that would still be delicious and nutritious, but would (hopefully) not be boring and repetitious.

Costco Chicken Breasts (One omelette pan,  6 different Flavors)

If you have ready my blog, you already know that I tend to purchase my chicken breasts from Costco where they must have mutant chickens because, you split the breast in half and you have enough protein for two people.  The following recipes are for one chicken breast, usually the bag will contain 12 mutant chicken breasts.  This means that you have enough chicken, for two people, to last you for 12 days if you use one chicken breast per day.  Chicken can get boring if it is all made the same way, but I am going to show you how you can make the same dish and have it taste different every night just by changing out the herbs and liquids that you cook it with.  This dish also does not take very long, so you can cook this and have the protein for your dinner ready in under 10 minutes.

Chicken Provencal with Balsamic Vinegar

1 chicken breasts, cut into two equal portions
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp.  balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
1 tsp. Herb de Provence, or more to taste
kosher salt (optional and to taste)

1.  Heat oil in a non-stick omelette pan on medium heat.
2.  While oil is heating pound the halved breasts flat so they are each about 1 inch thick.  This will help the chicken cook uniformly when you put it in the pan so that both breasts will be done at the same time.
3.  Sprinkle the breasts with the Herb de Provence and kosher salt.  Rub into the breasts.
4. Once oil is heated, place the chicken in the pan and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar on the chicken.
4.  Cook for 4 minutes and turn chicken.
5.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar on chicken breasts.  Move  breasts around the pan with prongs to try completely cover the breasts with the vinegar glaze.
6.  Cook for 4 more minutes.  Flip chicken once more and stir around for a few more seconds to try to completely cover with vinegar.

Remove from pan and serve warm with side of choice.  (I will give you some options a little further down this blog.)
I recommend the French onion Ramen with this recipe.

For the other recipes listed below,  ingredients are listed in the same order they were listed in the recipe above, and follow the same steps following the same order and instructions unless otherwise specified.
For example, in the Italian recipe, tomato paste replaces the balsamic vinegar in the recipe.


Italian Chicken Breasts

1 chicken breast, cut into two equal portions
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. tomato paste, halved *
1 tsp. Italian season mix
Creole Seasoning mix (Optional)

* If you want your "glaze" slightly thinner for this recipe, add one tbsp. water when you add the tomato paste.
Goes well with the garlic angel hair pasta recipe.

Mexican Chicken Breasts

1 chicken breast, cut into two equal portions
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lime juice, or more to personal taste (can also use malt vinegar)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Creole seasoning mix (Optional), to taste

Rub all spices into the chicken breast before placing in the omelette pan.
Serve with the spicy Ramen mac and cheese

Indian Chicken Breasts

1 chicken breast, cut into two equal portions
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. plain yogurt, halved
1/2 tsp. curry, (more or less to your personal taste)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Creole season, optional, to taste

This recipe is great with the yogurt, but if you are afraid to try the yogurt, you can skip the yogurt step.
Serve with the Indian style Ramen


Asian Chicken Breasts

1 chicken breast, cut into two equal portions
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. garlic rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. garlic powder
Creole seasoning, to taste

Serve with Asian style Ramen Noodle recipe

Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts

1 chicken breast, cut into two equal portions
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice  (If you really like lemon you can add more per your personal taste)
1 tsp. freshly ground garlic
Creaole seasoning, optional, to taste

This recipe actually goes well with any of the Ramen sides mentioned above.

Next we move on to side dishes using once of the scariest yet least expensive ingredients known to the modern shopper:  Instant Ramen Noodles.
On their own these things are too salty and gross, modified and cooked differently than the directions on the package,  these noodles can be an inexpensive way to add a side to your dinner.  It will also only take one medium sized pot so, in theory, you can cook your dinner and own only one omelette pan and one medium sized pot.  If you truly do not want to use instant Ramen noodles, these recipes work just as well with angel hair pasta.  I like to get the pasta in "nests"  each of these recipes would take two "nests".  Just remember, the cooking time for the pasta is going to take longer, so check the package for cooking instructions.

Ramen noodles aren't very retro.  So I thought I would give you a picture of a lady and a leopard.

Ramen Noodle Recipes you can Stomach

French Onion Ramen

1 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup low sodium beef broth, divided
1 cup water
1 package of instant Ramen noodles
1/4 cup freshly shredded gruyere or freshly shredded mozzarella or freshly grated parmesan

1.  Melt butter in medium soup pot. 
2.  Add onion.  Stir to coat with butter.  Add 1/4 cup beef broth and cook, stirring constantly until broth is mostly absorbed, about two to three minutes.
3.  Stir in remaining 3/4 cups broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil.
4.  Add uncooked Ramen noodles.  DO NOT ADD THE SEASONING PACKET!
5.  Cook,uncovered, stirring occasional for 2 to 3 minutes.
6.  Season with salt and pepper if you desire.
7.  Pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle with the cheese and cover with a small plate until the cheese melts, about one minute.


Garlic Ramen or Angel Hair Pasta

1 pckg.  instant Ramen Noodles
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated, to taste

1.  Bring water to a boil in medium pot.
2.  Add the uncooked instant Ramen noodles.  DO NOT ADD SEASONING PACKET!
3.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes until pasta is softened and separated with a fork.  Drain and set aside.
4.  In the same pot, heat olive oil on medium heat until oil is heated all the way through.  Once oil is heated, lower heat to the lowest possible setting for your burner, wait 2 minutes and add your garlic.  Cook 15 minutes stirring constantly until garlic is a golden brown.  Do not do this on high heat!  The garlic will burn and the dish will taste bitter.
5.  After garlic has cooked about 15 minutes add the noodles and salt to taste.  Toss the pasta so the noodles are completed covered in oil and garlic.  Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on low heat to warm up pasta.
6.  Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Spicy Ramen and Cheese

1 pckg. instant Ramen Noodles
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack or mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. Siracha Sauce, can add more if you like it spicier
Kosher salt to taste

1.  In medium soup pot bring water to a boil and add instant Ramen noodles.  DO NOT ADD SEASOING PACKET!  Boil 1 minute or 1 minute 15 seconds.  Do NOT cook longer, if you do the noodles in this one get mushy and disgusting.
2.  Drain Ramen in a colander and rinse with cold water.
3.  In the same pot, heat butter on medium heat and add the flour to make a quick roux.  (For those of you who are Cajun, this is not our idea of a roux as you do not cook it until it is brown.  But you do cook it enough to get the raw flour flavor out.)  Cook about one minute, stirring constantly.
4. Pour in the milk and cook until it becomes frothy and thick, stir semi-constantly.
5.  Reduce heat to low and gradually add cheese a little at a time.  Making sure the cheese has melted before you add more.
6.  In the final batch of cheese, add Siracha and stir until cheese is melted.  Taste.  Add salt at this time if so desired.
7.  Increase heat to medium and toss in cooked Ramen noodles, cook until heated through about 1-2 minutes.
At this point you can add a little milk to the recipe if you prefer your sauce to be thinner.

Indian Style Ramen Noodles

1 pckg. instant Ramen noodles
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 tsp. curry  (Garam Masala actually tastes better, but if you don't cook a lot of Indian its not worth buying.)
1/2 tsp. red chili powder or Cayenne pepper or paprika (which ever you prefer)
1 tbsp. olive oil

1.  In medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until they start turning color.  Once onions have changed colors, add the tomatoes.
2.  Into the onion and tomato mixture add the curry (masala) and chili powder (Cayenne pepper or Paprika).  Simmer until tomato has softened slightly.
3.  Add about 1 cup water and bring to a boil.  Once it starts boiling, add the noodles and cook for two minutes.

Asian Style Ramen Noodles

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper diced  (You can use the trinity combos that are already cut for you in the grocery store, if you do this, you only want to use about a half a cup of the mixture)
1/4 cup carrot, diced
1 tbsp. garlic rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. Siracha sauce, optional
1 pckg. instant Ramen noodles

1.  In a medium sized pot, boil water.  Put package of instant Ramen noodles in water.  DO NOT ADD SEASONING PACKAGE!  Cook for 2 minutes.
2.  Drain in colander and rinse with cool water.  Set aside
3.  In same medium pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Once oil is heated add onion, celery, bell pepper and carrot.  Saute for about five minutes, stirring constantly. 
4.  Add garlic rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and Siracha.  Cook for another two minutes stirring constantly.
5.  Add cooked Ramen noodles and toss until thoroughly coated.

Serve warm.

Since I am sort of on the topic of the flood and people who have suffered from it, I have these pieces of advice that I have learned from FEMA.  Every Friday, almost since the day of the disaster FEMA has sent Darrell Habisch to Classic Hits 103.3 to be on the Jeff and Company morning show so that he can answer questions that people may have concerning the help that FEMA provides. 

I know this isn't FEMA, but I thought it fits the attitude that most Louisianans in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas have right.

The advice below is the advice that I find he gives out the most on the show.

1.  Even if you don't think you qualify, go ahead and apply for help.  Even people who haven't been flooded have been effected and may be eligible for assistance.  Also, very often, FEMA is also going to send you to the SBA to fill out a loan with them as they have assistance they can offer that FEMA cannot.
2.  Denied does not necessarily mean DENIED.  FEMA does not have a status of: PENDING due to lack of documentation. Read through your denial thoroughly, you may just need to provide more documentation.
3.  If you believe you were denied and that is incorrect, APPEAL the decision.
4.  The squeaky wheel gets the attention.  FEMA is helping ALOT of people, don't be afraid to follow up so that you do not have to wait longer than necessary.
5.  Make sure that you also apply for state assistance. If you applied for FEMA you did not apply for state and vice versa.
5.  If your house is flooded and you are currently living at two addresses, make certain that FEMA has both of those addresses.
6.  If you are renting an apartment and thought that you would be safe because you were on the second floor, but now you are finding out that you have to move because of structural damage to the apartments below you, you are eligible for assistance.
7.  FEMA is here to help and they have lots of resources they try to provide to help you to do so. Check out
This sight has links to TONS of useful information.  In the news sections is a specific section on replacing lost documents and several other helpful tips.

The next post we get crafty and we start some Frugal Femme decorating crafts for Halloween!!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Chicken Soup for the 'Bers.

Hello Everyone!
Its September and its time to start settling in and blogging again.  I don't know about you, but with the beginning of the fall, I get more industrious and want to start crafting and writing- maybe because these are activities that I like to do outside when the weather is cool.  Best of all, the holidays are just around the corner!  For me, that means gearing up for the holiday season with preparing for Halloween by doing several spooky crafts.  But first, I promised Jeff Johnson from Jeff and Company on Classic Hits 103.3 that I would give my two chicken noodle soup recipes for the onset of the time of year the he likes to call "the Bers".
Last week we were discussing that a Yale study scientifically proved the old adage "feed a cold and starve a fever".  This is a phrase that I have known all of my life and is a practice that I live by.  So I was very gratified to know that it is not just an old wives tale.
Scientific studies are verifying a lot of "wives tales", one that I had been aware of was about chicken noodle soup. I had read a few years ago that some scientists have been running tests on homemade chicken noodle soup and how it may be just as effective in curing cold symptoms as over the counter medicine.  Below is a link to the New York Times that shows that talks about the science of Chicken soup:

I don't know if this works for canned chicken noodle soup, but I do remember that it worked with homemade chicken noodle soup, so below are my two best recipes.  Sorry I don't have pictures for these, but I haven't had the need to make soup yet this year.
I have a soup tureen that looks just like the one the lady in this ad is holding.  Mine is white, but I love to break it out for the holidays and serve a soup before the main meal.

"Homemade" Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is homemade insomuch as it does not come from a can, however any real "old fashioned" grandmother would not call this recipe homemade. I like to make this recipe when I have leftover chicken from a roast chicken and I am feeling lazy.  This recipe also works great for any leftover turkey you may have after Thanksgiving.

1/2 cup onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cans (14 oz. each) low sodium chicken broth, or 2 cups homemade chicken broth
2 cups water
1 envelope Good Seasonings Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
1/2 cup bite sized pasta, uncooked

1.  Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan on medium high heat.  Once oil is hot, cook onion, carrot and celery for three to five minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
2.  Slowly stir in chicken broth, water and dressing mix.
3. Add turkey and pasta; cover.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Serve warm with oyster crackers.

Major Homemade Chicken Soup

This soup recipe is not for the weak of heart.  It takes some time.  So, you may ask, unless I am making it for someone who is ill and I, myself, am not ill, why would I make this recipe?  Good question.  The answer is, if you do not cook the pasta in the last ten minutes of cooking time, this soup freezes extremely well.  Which is good thing because, unlike most Frugal Femme recipes, this recipes makes enough to feed a small army.  I like to make some at the beginning of the "Bers." and freeze it in single serving sizes.  At the end of this recipe, I will give instructions on how to freeze and then defrost the soup when you are ready to eat it.

1 whole chicken (I usually use a fryer chicken)
3 quarts low- sodium chicken broth or 3 quarts homemade chicken broth
6 carrots
4 stalks celery
3 medium onions
5 black peppercorns
1 clove garlic
10 sprigs parsley
2 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 leeks
1 tsp. fresh-ground pepper
Kosher salt to taste
1 tsp. dried Herbs de Provence, (optional, this depends on how flavorful your broth turns out)
1-2 tsp. dried dill
3 cups medium egg noodles or pasta of your choice

1.  Place the chicken and the chicken broth in a VERY large stock pot and set it over medium heat. 
2.  Roughly chop 2 carrots, 2 celery ribs, and one onion and add to broth.
3.  Add the peppercorns, garlic, 2 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf and enough water to just cover the chicken.
4.  Bring the broth to a boil.  Once you have brought the broth to a boil, reduce heat to med-low (or whatever heat is simmer on your stove) and simmer until the chicken is tender- about 1 1/4 hours.  While the chicken is cooking some fat can rise to the surface, skim the surface when this appears.
5.  Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl.
6. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a large bowl.  Discard the vegetables and the bay leaf.

Now that you have done all of this, you can actually start with the whole "making soup" part of this recipe.

7.  Skim any fat off the top of the strained broth and discard.
8.  Prepare the remaining carrots, celery, onions and leeks .  I like to dice my vegetables because I do not like them large, others I know prefer to cut their vegetables into 1/4 inch pieces. Once you are done chopping, set the vegetables to the side.
9.  Once the chicken is cool enough for you to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken.  Cut meat into 1/2 inch pieces and set to the side.
10.  Chop the remaining parsley leaves and set aside.
11.  Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent - about 7 minutes.
12.  Add the chicken pieces, the reserved broth, dried dill, salt and pepper.  Taste.  If you feel the soup needs it, add some Herb de Provence or you can wait and taste it in step 14 after you have added the parsley.
13.  Simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender -- about one (1) hour.
14.  Stir in the egg noodles and parsley and cook until the noodles are tender - about 10more minutes. *
Serve hot with oyster crackers.

*  If you are planning on freezing the soup, do not add the noodles in step 14.  Just add the parsley and simmer for 10 minutes.  After cook time is complete, remove the pot from the heated burner and allow to cool for about 30 minutes to an hour -  or however long it takes for the soup to get to be about room temperature.  Once the soup has cooled, put in freezer proof containers.  I like to use restaurant style plastic containers that you can get in restaurant supply stores in the individual sizes.
When I am ready to eat, I just take one out of the freezer, cook in a pot on the oven and, once the soup begins to simmer again, I add about a handful of dry pasta and let that cook for 10 minutes.   Not too much harder than opening a can and soooooooo much more delicious!

Oyster Cracker Snacks

There are several different recipes for oyster crackers, this is one that was given to me by a lady I work with.   She thinks her mother got it from a Better Homes and Gardens Magazine from the fifties, but who knows.  As the Christmas holiday approaches, my mother-in-law also makes oyster cracker snacks.  They never last more than three days in my house. I will include her recipe closer to Christmas.  But I digress.  I am including this recipe so that you will have flavored oyster crackers to add to your soup.  You can use plain oyster crackers.  But the question that I have to ask is; with a recipe this easy, why would you eat them plain?

2 packages oyster crackers
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Salad dressing Mix
1 cup oil
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. dill

1.  In a medium, microwave-safe bowl mix all of the spices together.  (I use a fork to mix them.)
2.  Add the oil to the spice mixture.  Put bowl in the microwave and cook on high for one (1) minute.
3.  In a large bowl, pour the oyster crackers.  Pour the spiced oil mixture over the crackers and toss to coat all of the crackers.

Store in an airtight container. 

Well, that is it for this post.  I will have more shortly!