Thursday, August 21, 2014

Taco Casserole Recipe ~ Easy and Thrifty!

Hi everyone!

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook you already know that I  post “What’s for dinner” each night at 4:30 (EST) and ask everyone else what they are having. I love to hear what other people have on the menu for that night because it gives me ideas. After awhile, don’t we all get stumped on what to fix for dinner?

With all the fresh veggies coming in, I thought I would share a pretty quick and yummy dish, Taco Casserole.

taco casserole recipe @ TTG

To make this I just fry ground burger, add taco seasonings and taco sauce and some red beans. Super easy! This is one of those things that I try to make a double batch of so I can freeze some for a quick dinner at a later date.

In a baking dish, I make up a quick biscuit dough. I use Bisquik of some similar product. Stretch out the dough to cover the bottom of the dish.

Then I added on top of the dough:

  • The beans, burger, seasoning mix. Spread evenly
  • spread a mixture of sour cream & mayo over that (I generally do 1/2 cup of each for a 9 x 13 dish)
  • Spread a can of refried beans
  • coat the above layer with taco sauce (you could use salsa if you want)
  • Cover with shredded cheese

Bake in a 375 oven for about 17-20 minutes.

Taco CasseroleRecipe @ TTG

Let cool for about 10 minutes and then top with:

  • Chopped onions
  • chopped bell peppers
  • chopped tomatoes
  • and shredded lettuce

If I have black olives, jalapenos, and even some fresh corn I will add them as well to the top.

Then serve!

This is a huge favorite of ours. And it even heats up nicely the next day for lunch. And you can use up leftover meats in this casserole. I have used leftover chicken and just shredded it up. And even leftover pork. And this dish could easily be made up without any meat. Lots of beans would be fine.

This is also great to use up that last half of a green pepper or the small amount of lettuce you have that isn’t enough for a salad.

A yummy and thrifty dinner!

Taco Casserole Recipe @ TTG

Monday, August 18, 2014

Making Seasonal Wreaths the Thrifty Way!

Hi everyone!

I want to work on getting a new wreath made for our front door. I like to change it out once September hits.

September to me means harvest time for many fruits and veggies. Of course apples come to mind first. However, as a farmer in Michigan, I can tell you a lot of us will be harvesting our veggies that normally would have been ready to pick last month or earlier this month. It has been a weird year for farming. We had snow in May and have had a mild summer. The nights have been much cooler than normal so the vegetables have not ripen as quickly.

September also means back to school. It really doesn’t matter if you have a child returning to school, it’s just ingrained in our minds since we were children that it is time to go back to school. Don’t you still feel that way? I do!.

Although I might be thinking in terms of Fall and Halloween as far as crafting and decorating, I have no desire to rush any of my days away. Each month should be enjoyed and savored. Time goes by way too fast anyway!

Make Seasonal Wreaths at TTG

As a thrifter, my brain is always thinking heading. I am always on the look out for great prices on “not in season” items. I don’t want to spend full retail price at a craft store to make a seasonal wreath. For the price of just buying the wreath base I can thrift ahead of time and make several complete wreaths!

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One very important thing to do when thrifting is to think beyond what you see! Look at an item and see it’s future potential not what it looks like at this moment.

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Look past the flaws, and think of how pretty it will be.

I found three sad looking grapevine wreaths recently at a thrift store. I didn’t see anything but a great price on grapevine wreaths for upcoming makeovers. And at two large wreaths for .80 cents each and a smaller one one for .60 cents, they were perfect!

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I rarely pass up mystery bags of florals and greenery! This bag was .90 cents. No idea what it really contained except for an idea of a lot of greenery.

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Besides misc, flowers and a few small vines, the bag included 3 full vine garlands and a leaf bush. Not a bad haul for 90 cents!

Make Seasonal Wreaths at TTG

So, check out the thrift stores for wreath making supplies and know that you can strip them to the bare bones and remake them into something beautiful for very little money.

To get some wreath making inspiration, check out my wreath board on Pinterest!

Wreaths/door hangings

I am going to go and play and create a new wreath for September using my new treasures!  I will be back to share it with you all!

Oh, and as a side note regarding wreath making, you may want to head to your local dollar store to snatch up a couple of pool noodles while they still have them. They make wonderful wreath bases!

(picture with the red pool noodle is from http://missiontosave.com/alternative-uses-pool-noodles-diy-pool-noodle-wreath/#_a5y_p=1858075)

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Thank you for visiting and I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Little Tea Sandwich

Hi everyone!

Thought I would take a quick moment to say hello and yes, I am still among the living!

My days seem to consist of: weeding, picking veggies, cleaning veggies, chopping veggies, canning veggies, drying veggies, freezing veggies…..ok, you get the picture!

So, I am just going to step back , breath and relax for a moment.

the thrifty groove

Time for a simple cup of tea.

the thrifty groove

Just a light treat of a sliced fresh plum and dollop of whipped cream.

the thrifty groove

And an easy sandwich for lunch. Let’s make it a ham salad tea sandwich.

the thrifty groove

My ham salad recipe is pretty easy and basic.
Grind up ham, dill pickle and pickled pearl onions. Mix in equal parts mayo and miracle whip. That's it.


A little tea sandwich info for you:

A tea sandwich is a small prepared sandwich meant to be eaten at afternoon teatime to stave off hunger until the main meal.
The tea sandwich may take a number of different forms, but should be easy to handle, and should be capable of being eaten in two bites. It may be a long, narrow sandwich, a triangular half-sandwich, or a small biscuit. It may also be cut into other decorative shapes with a cookie cutter.
The bread is traditionally white, thinly sliced, and buttered. The bread crust is cut away cleanly from the sandwich after the sandwich has been prepared but before serving. Modern bread variations might include wheat, pumpernickel, sour dough or rye bread.
Fillings are light, and are "dainty" or "delicate" in proportion to the amount of bread. Spreads might include cream cheese or mayonnaise mixtures, and the sandwiches often feature fresh vegetables such as radishes, cucumber, asparagus, or watercress. The cucumber tea sandwich in particular is considered the quintessential tea sandwich. Other popular tea sandwich fillings include pimento cheese, smoked salmon, fruit jam, curried chicken, and egg salad.


Source: wikipedia

the thrifty groove

Just a moment to catch my breath.

No need to spend lots of money to create a simple tea moment for yourself. I just snatched up a few thrifted items and had a little “Me” time.

Are you taking time for yourself during these crazy busy summer days?

Okay, now where is my book?

 
 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Beautiful FREE Flower Bed

Hi everyone!

I love flowers! But, since our business is herbs and this year, having farm land, it has expanded into veggies as well, flowers kind of get put on the back burner. We have to focus all of our time on the things that create income for us.

I still want beautiful flowers around my home. In order to do that, they must take no effort on my part or cost anything. Tall order huh?!

How to build a free flower bed

It really is not as difficult as it sounds!

I have shared my free perennial bed with you in the past. You can see what is growing in this bed here, herehere, here, and  here

The Thrifty Groove

This flower bed is so insanely full that we have to and I do mean HAVE to thin it this Fall! But, it is gorgeous!

All of the plants in this flower bed were freebies. A cutting from this person, plants from plant exchanges and even a crushed bulb I found on the ground.

One of the things to keep in mind, is we live in a townhouse. We have no outside water source. Yup, that’s right, no water hose or spigot outside! So, if we have to water, it is taking pitchers from our kitchen out to the plants. Not a favorite chore of mine! So, we plant low maintenance things.

For this reason, I try not to do hanging baskets or planters. The only planters I like to use are big ones that can retain water better than small ones.

I just don’t like to haul water out. And so, I don’t! All of my beds, both flower and herbs only get water when it rains. And we haven’t had a lot of rain this year in our little town. It can be pouring rain less than a mile from our house and not touch us. It has to do with the fact that we live next to a Great Lake and when the storm gets close to us, it simple whooshes over and out across the lake.

This year we received a baby peony. I love peonies and have always wanted one. We also had a couple of lilies and some some rose plants that were given to us and needed to get planted. We had no room in our flower bed (above) so, we created a new bed.

starting flower bed

Not a real attractive area. This is on the side of the building and right next to the ugly AC unit. It needed some pretty-ing up anyway!

The wood came from a pile we got off Craigslist for free. The bricks on the side came from my parents. And the soil we added was from our compost bin mixed with soil from the greenhouse, also free.The white wash tub in the corner (which we planted the mini roses in) was a dumpster dive find.

You can see that the two lilies went in first.

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Next the little peony. Then we found a seed package that was just labeled “miscellaneous wildflowers”. We had the pack for several years from a gardening class we attended. We had no idea what, if anything would grow but, we sprinkled the pack over the rest of the soil and waited!

The Thrifty Groove

This is what it looks like today! Just beautiful! no weeding or watering has happened in the flower bed.

The Thrifty Groove

Calendula and marigolds.

The thrifty Groove

Black Eye Susans

The Thrifty Groove

I don’t even know what these are. We have them in this pretty blue-ish purple and in a pale pink.

The Thrifty Groove

The Thrifty Groove

These beautiful little zinnias are just stunning in every imaginable color! And they just keep producing!

There are so many lovely flowers growing in here and there are tons of blooms that have not blossomed yet.

All of this stunning beauty from an old pack of seeds! No watering, no weeding and no chemicals added!

I have had several neighbors stop by and ask where I bought my flowers and what I have had to do to get them to look this lush. Imagine their surprise when I tell them the truth. LOL

How about you? Do you gather freebie flowers? How are your flowers doing this year?

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful and happy day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

BLT Pie Recipe ~ Revisit

Hi everyone!

I first posted this recipe about a year ago. And with tomatoes coming in, I thought it deserved a revisit. This has become one of our favorite recipes! All of us are always requesting my mom make this for any get together’s.

My mom loves to try new recipes. And she just loves to cook at the cabin. So, she saw a recipe on a local TV show for a BLT Pie and since I had brought up a ton of fresh tomatoes to the cabin last weekend, she decided to give it a try.

First thing is to slice up some tomatoes and salt both sides and let them sweat out some liquid.

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Make up your favorite pie dough recipe and put in fridge for at least half an hour.

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Fry up some bacon.

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Sautee some sweet onions in the bacon grease

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Then assemble the pie.

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First the onions.

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Next tomato slices.

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Bacon…

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Mix together 4 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of mayo. Spoon half the mixture over the pie.

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Now repeat all of the above a second  time. Put pie into a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.

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And because we are a family that believes cheese just makes the world a happier place, some sliced provolone was melted on top.

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Serve with shredded fresh lettuce on top….if you think about it before gobbling it down!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why and How I Started TTG

Hi my friends!

Let me just stop right here and warn you that this is not a pretty post with fun or pretty pictures. This is a post where I just want to step back from the chaos of all the craziness of blogging and social media for a minute or so and talk with y’all.

I have many “old” friends that have been readers of my blog for many years. And then I have some new friends that weren’t with me in the beginning. So, I thought it was time to just chat for awhile.

So, grab a cuppa, turn off the sound  (you know all those little dings and beeps you get when an email, facebook comment etc.) disturbs us and sit back and pretend we are having a real live chat.

Comfy? Good!

I started blogging about 6 years ago. It wasn’t even this blog. It was just a little family and friends blog (private blog). I actually started it as a sort of journal. And I was doing the whole “Extreme Couponing” at the time. So, I would post about this shopping trip or that shopping trip and how much I saved.

That led to more people wanting to read about how I did the couponing to save that much money. So, when I started posting more about that I realized that the blog was taking a different turn and more people friends (mainly from church) wanted to know about more deals. So, I decided to start a 2nd blog about being thrifty and how to save money. In came The Thrifty Groove. A silly name that was never supposed to last!!

At the time I subscribed to and follow about 60 blogs that were all about couponing and deals. So, I started posting just tiny blips like “head over to such and such a site and download the new coupon. Then grab this coupon from the paper, stack and get ____ for 6 cents”. I would post this type of post 5-8 times a day. As soon as I read a deal, I posted it.

Now the blogging experts tell me I need to go back and clean up all those 100’s of posts that were just “Get a free magazine subscription here” type of blip posts. It has something to do with your overall blog standing. I really don’t know what all that means. Maybe I will do that some time or maybe I won’t.

I also started doing Couponing Classes for different groups. I had a pretty nice set up at the time regarding sources and what nots.

Since Lia was with us and was just a baby, I also was involved in a lot of Mommy bloggers. And that was where I started getting more into “How to find deals and redo things”. I grew up going to thrift stores and yard sales so, I have always looked for a cheaper alternative. And I applied that to turning what was just a spare room into a baby’s room. My budget was so low it was scary. But, I knew I had imagination and could think outside the box. So, I started sharing the things I was doing.

I remember 3 months after I started TTG I received an email from a company asking if I would like to try a new product and offer a giveaway on it. I was so freaking excited!

I was also writing about thrifty tips, weekly menu and any good thrifty sites I came across. I remember doing my weekly menu online starting the first week of April back in 2009. And then at the end of the month I discovered there was huge party of bloggers sharing their weekly menu and I was so thrilled to join! It is still a weekly party at Laura’s blog I’m an Organizing Junkie. She was the first big blogger I “met”.

I started finding some thrifty weekly parties and started joining them. It felt good to share with others that were of like mind.

Then late one night, after a day of being super sick, I was just laying in bed with my laptop checking out blogs. I accidently stumbled across a blog that showed at the bottom that this blogger was joining a “meme”. I had no clue what that meant. I didn’t know that meant basically a blog party. So, I clicked it.

I discovered a party called Rednesday and it was all about sharing something red. It didn’t have to be thrifty or regarding being a mommy. It was just share something. Holy cow, what a concept! I had no idea there were blogs out there that had nothing to do with freebies, deals, couponing or kids!

From Sue’s blog I discovered a whole new blogging world! I found Outdoor Wednesday and was so excited to start sharing my love of gardening by sharing pictures of my flowers and things! Then  I discovered there we people out there that also loved vintage things via Vintage Thingie Thursday! And Blue Monday, just something blue!

Discovering these parties, which of course just led into more and more blog parties, gave me the first taste of sharing just me. Things I liked or did or have. What an eye opener!

Then one day I saw a word that I had never read of….Tablescape! I followed the link and discovered Susan’s blog Between Naps on the Porch (if you click the link, you will see her first tablescape back in 2008)! I realized that I had been tablescaping for years and didn’t even know it!

I literally spent hours clicking party linkups and discovering new blogs and looking at all the amazing and gorgeous tablescapes! I think my eyes glazed over for a week! I remembering thinking that I would so love to join this party but, there was no way I could do the tablescapes I was seeing. All  of my dishes and accessories were from thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets and dollar stores. I didn't have Neiman Marcus dishes or accessories that I picked up clearance for $269.00 (just a random number) or at Estate sales (still costing over $100.00). And I honestly felt I would not be accepted into this exclusive group. I just didn’t fit. And that was my first time feeling a blogging peer pressure. Now don’t get me wrong, Susan never once said that the tablescapes need to be high end or perfectly matched or anything like that. I just felt my things were way too inferior to join.

I still watched each week all the beautiful tablescapes being created. And I have to confess, I watched with serious envy. Everything was stunningly matched and coordinated. Just gorgeous!

Then Thanksgiving of 2009 came around and I was setting our table just for the two of us. I always loved to set a pretty holiday table. Troy had commented on how nice the table looked. I told him about the tablescaping party and showed him all the beautiful tablescapes people were posting. He told me I should take pictures and join the party. He also said I should show how I “built” the table. I told him I couldn’t because I would be too embarrassed at my whole used mix and match thrift finds. He basically told me I was crazy to think like that and there were probably other people who felt the same way I did. And also just showing how the tablescape was set up from start to finish might interest people.

So, I did just that. I figured I might as well go all in and tell where I bought each piece and how much I paid for them. I knew that no one was every going to mistake my thrifted treasures for brand new expensive stuff!

You can see that first Thanksgiving tablescape by clicking here. 

Guess what? people left comments and liked it! They actually liked seeing all the bargains and deals put together! I was so shocked and excited! I really was nervous when I did the post. I just knew that everyone would think I was just some poor schmuck and I really should keep my so called thrifted treasures to myself.

To this day, I still only do thrifted tablescapes. All of my stuff is either bought second hand or major store clearance. I still don’t have a full brand spanking new complete expensive set of dishes! I probably never will. LOL

So, there you have it, how The Thrifty Groove started and why. Well, the Readers Digest version anyway.

It has taken everything I have not to add pictures to this post! But, I kind of miss just writing. Blogging has changed big time over the past years. And there is a lot of good and a lot of bad that came with those changes. My blog is continually changing to reflect what is going on in my life at that moment. But, the one thing that has never changed is the fact that I am thrifty and I lead a thrifty life.

I have a lot more to say on the topic of blogging and will probably write more posts about it in the future. And I see my blog going through more changes in the future as well.

Why did you start your blog? Has it changed direction since the beginning? Do you experience the whole “Blog Peer Pressure” or the stinking thinking of not being good enough or have the prefect this or that to share on a blog? Do you still get those feeling from time to time? I know I still do! I have to stop myself and realize that I am me. I don’t have a “perfect” life.

Thanks for listening to me ramble. I hope you all are having a wonderful day!

P.S. Uh Oh, this post will probably bring down those blog ratings that I hear about all the time and have no clue what they are or mean. After all, this is just a talking post. no amazing redo’s, repurposed things, exciting How-to, awesome recipe or anything earth shattering! oh well, life will go on Smile

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just Checking In

Hi everyone!

This is has been one crazy busy summer so far! I don’t know if I am coming or going or where I was! LOL

I have posted so little here and I miss it!

These days I am constantly feeling behind. No matter what I do, it feels like I need to be doing 3 other things at the same time. And I shouldn’t whine about it, I am very blessed to be doing something I love and feel passionate about.

Do you feel that way? Being pulled in so many directions at once? It can get so overwhelming!

I am slowing accepting the fact that some things need to be put on the back burner. Even thought I am not very good at doing that! LOL I’m trying though.

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One of the areas that has totally been neglected is any kind of home decorating. I love changing up things around the house but, reality dictates that just isn’t a top priority at this point. When farming is your business and livelihood, it demands all of your attention throughout this time of the year. And let’s face it, decorating my home is just not that important right now.

So, things are just staying the same. No fun new additions here and there.

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If I am being honest, just keeping the house relatively cleaned or picked up on a daily basis is a struggle! Troy and I have both said that sometimes we wish we just had out travel trailer at the farm and lived there throughout the season. LOL

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And it isn’t going to let up any time soon. I am hoping to have time to do some fun Halloween d├ęcor in October but, I‘m not holding my breath! LOL

I feel bad not visiting with all of you or posting more here at TTG. I miss my online friends! I miss not seeing what’s new in your lives or the fun things you are doing.

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I have to admit, I would probably be dealing with that oh so nasty green eyed monster if I visited more blogs. Seeing all the pretty decor redos or crafty things you all are doing or wonderfully organized clean homes.

I just thought I would check in and let you all know I am still here!

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you are having a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bacon and Tomato Melt

Hi everyone!

It’s getting to be tomato season around here! Woohoo! Without a doubt, fresh sun ripened straight from your garden tomatoes are one of my top 10 favorite things!

Tomatoes are generally incorporated into every dinner during the season. One of my favorite thrifty meals is a Bacon and Tomato Melt.

The Thrifty Groove Recipe

Ingredients:

Crusty bread

Fresh tomatoes

Cooked bacon

Sour Cream

Mayo

cheese (your choice)

Salt & Pepper

Sliced onions (optional)

The Thrifty Groove Recipe

I refer to this meal as thrifty because for me it is. I try to stock up on bacon when I see a very good sale or when I find it in the reduced area at the grocery store (when I get lucky enough to find it reduced, I try to take the time to fry it up and then freeze in smaller batches). The very best bread for melts is the day old markdown loaves. I usually buy several of the different markdown crusty breads like Italian or a French bread and through them in the freezer. Then pull them out when I want to make melts for dinner. I also stock up on cheese when it is on sale. I am a cheese freak. I haven’t met a cheese I didn’t like!

I make melts according to what I have on hand and at this time of the year, I have the blessing of lots of fresh produce! Whether it be grown by me or grown by a local farmer that we trade with, I always have an abundance of fresh veggies.

Oh, how I love this time of the year!!

The Thrifty Groove Recipe

Nothing fancy. This is a quick meal so, it really is a favorite of ours throughout our busy season.

So, let’s make a Bacon and Tomato Melt!

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Grab a cookie sheet and some aluminum foil or parchment paper and cover the cookie sheet.

Slice your bread and place on cookie sheet

In a small bowl combine equal parts sour cream and mayo. I can’t give you exact measurements because I just kind of eyeball how much I think it will take to spread on all of the bread. this combination, once cooked, almost has a rich farmer’s cheese taste to it. So good!

And then do just that, spread on the bread.

Place cooked bacon strips down (as much as you like)

Layer with thin sliced onions (optional)

And then place tomato slices on top.

Add sliced or shredded cheese of your choice on top of tomatoes.

I sprinkle our herbed salt on top (which, honestly, is my absolute favorite seasoning anymore. I keep a large container at my stove at all times. And I would be buying this even if it wasn’t one of our DTL Herb products! It’s just that perfect!) If you don’t have our herbed salt, use pepper and salt and if you want a few shakes of your favorite herbs.

Place cookie sheet with melts into the oven.

Give it about 20 minutes. Ovens vary so, check after about 15 minutes.

Once the cheese has melted and you have a bit of brown toasty goodness happening to the bread, they are ready!

Bacon and Tomato Melts

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you are having a wonderful day!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Talented Mom

Hi everyone!

Yup, I am bragging today! It’s all about the amazing and gifted woman I have the pleasure of calling Mom!

With out a doubt, my mom has always been the influence for my creativity. She is and has always been the most creative and talented woman I have ever known.

My mom has always been an artist. From an early age you could find her with her sketch book and drawing some wildlife scene. that has never changed.

Her wildlife paintings have been in galleries and she has sold many of them. She could have been a full time artist for a well known magazine had she not decided to be a wife and a mother first.

Besides creating amazing wildlife paintings, she has always liked to “play” in almost every medium of art that I can think of.

When I was a little girl, she would just decide one day that I should be living in a magical garden. So, my bedroom would be transformed. She would go in and freehand murals on my walls.  I also had the world of Disney painting on my walls at one time. You just never knew what or where she would get inspired.

I called her a couple of weeks ago and asked what she was doing and her response was, “Painting bricks”. Okay, of course you are. Well, I dropped last week and saw what she was talking about.

She had went to Home Depot and picked up some patio pavers.

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And she decided to turn them into baskets of flowers for the yard.

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How cute!!

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Needless to say, I put a request in for about 25 of these to be painted for next Spring to sell at the Farmer’s Markets. LOL

painted patio pavers

I’m joining:

Inspire Me Tuesday

You’re Gonna Love it Tuesday

Home and Garden Thursday

Home Sweet Home

Be Inspired Friday