One way to save money on home improvement projects is to do it
yourself. With newer products and instructions online, it is easier
than ever to do many projects around your home on your own. Along with
saving money, you will have the satisfaction of know you did the
project on your own.

I painted my brick fireplace a few months ago and have been looking for
a way to update the wall space around it. I recently found some
ceiling and backsplash href=
at one of our local home improvement stores. The link above is similar
to what I found. I purchased the tiles at a Menards store which has
stores in about href=
>15 states mainly in the Midwest United States.

The tiles I purchased looked like metal and were 2 feet by 4 feet for
about $20 to $26 each. There were also panels for the same price that
were 2 feet by 2 feet. They were very lightweight and easy to cut with
a scissors. In the href=>i
nstructions it says to use rubber adhesive or contact cement. I
used spray adhesive and it worked great.

I also used another pattern of the tiles to update the front of my wet
bar, which was carpeted by the previous owners. It only took me 10
years to get rid of the carpet.

For less than $150 and less than an hour of time I updated a wall and
the front of my wet bar. This is much less expensive and less labor
intensive than similar applications.

If you have ingredients on hand, many times you can make your own “Hamburger Helper” meals as quick and easy as from the box.

I recently made this Cheeseburger Rice. You could also add bacon and other items to change it up some.

Once you have made them a few times you can easily add ingredients to pasta or rice to make quick meals,

Along with saving money, you also know what ingredients are in the meal and control the ingredients to match your families tastes and dietary restrictions.

Below are some links to other DIY ideas.

Hamburger Helper seasoning and variations

Make your own Hamburger Halper.

If you find recipes you like, you could make up packets of the dry ingredients to have on hand and just mix with the hamburger and other ingredients when you are cooking the meal.

I was looking for a recipe to use some blueberries I had in the freezer and came upon tis recipe for Blueberry coffee cake. I left out the almond extract and substituted walnuts for almonds, Also, for the buttermilk, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk. I have used this for years in baking recipes that call for buttermilk. Some people say you can either add lemon juice or white vinegar to milk to substitute for buttermilk.

It was easy to make and tasted great.

An inexpensive way to add color to your home is with flowers. Although
fresh flowers add color and scent, they can also be expensive to keep
replacing. I recently purchased some artificial flowers at a craft
store when they had a lot of them 50% off.

During one of our winter storms I had wrapped some old cans with craft
twine and was trying to decide what to do with them. I finally decided
to purchase some spring flowers and use as décor in my family room and
on my desk at work. I had the twine on hand so I made three cans of
flowers for less than $10.

For the larger flowers I cut them a little longer and bent the end to fit into the can. This gave it more stability sitting in the can. The one with a few flowers I wadded up a plastic bag to partially fill the can and added the flowers.

I had also purchased some flowers that were on sale to use for a
Memorial Day arrangement for one of my uncles gravesite. A few days
after I purchased the flowers, I found a bouquet at a thrift store that
had many of the flowers I had originally had in mind to use but had not
found at the craft store. The bouquet at the thrift store was $3.50
and I only used about half of it for the arrangement. Many craft
stores have href=>cemetery vases that you can use for arrangements and the vase
sticks in the ground. I found some that have the foam insert so you
only need to add the flowers. The vases without the insert were $2.50
and the ones with the foam insert were $7.00. I had a 50% off coupon
so I got the vase with the insert for $3.50. I used red cellophane and
some ribbon I had on hand to cover the vase. So for about $6 I made an
arrangement to put on the grave for Memorial Day.

Look around your home and see what kind of items you can upcycle to
update the décor in your home. Cans, jars and bottles can be painted
to be used as decorating items.

This morning I put the ingredients for this tomato soup in the crockpot. I used a smaller can of tomatoes and reduced the stock and other ingredients so I wouldn’t have so much leftover. The only seasoning I added was some garlic powder and dried basil.

I was planning on making a grilled cheese sandwich to go with the soup. After I got home, I came upon a recipe for Grilled Apple Cheese Sandwiches. I used Fuji apples instead of Granny Smith since that was what I had on hand. It was a great addition to a grilled cheese sandwich.

I recently read Smart Money Smart Kids the latest book written by Dave Ramsey and his daughter, Rachel Cruze.

It seems like a good resource on how to teach kids about money and finances. Each topic and chapter includes entries from both Dave and Rachel on each topic. There are ideas for certain age groups on each topic such as under six years old, 6 to 13 years old and older kids.

Dave Ramsey became a millionaire in the 1980s in real estate and lost it all. Rachel was born about the time they were filing bankruptcy so she tells stories of how it felt growing up as they were rebuilding their financial life.

A big part of teaching kids about finances is for parents to understand and follow the steps also. They mention the phrase “more is caught than taught” several times in the book. Along with actually teaching your kids about money they will also see how you handle your own finances.

If you are stressed about bills all the time and living paycheck to paycheck, they will likely grow up to be the same way.

Topics covered in the book are Work: It’s Not a four-letter word, Spending, Saving, Giving, Budgeting, Debt: It is a four-letter word, Saving for college and Contentment.

One of the most important chapters I felt was the one on contentment. Many people get into debt because they are always looking for the newest and best items. It seems like as soon as you buy something, they come out with a newer model and you feel like you need to upgrade. Also, your friends may have nicer homes, cars, clothes and other items but you don’t know what kind of debt they may be in.

It was a quick read and full of helpful information.

I recently tried two new recipes I saw online.

The first one I made was Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip cookies. They turned out soft and chewy.

The other one I made was Cheddar Bacon Muffins. These work great to have something quick to grab for breakfast instead of having to stop for a fast food breakfast. They can be made and kept in the freezer if you do not plan on using all of them in the near future.

Sam’s Club will be having a free weekend May 2-4 where non-members can get the same prices as members. You will need to register at the Customer Service counter to receive a one-day pass.

If you are not a Sam’s Club member, this may be a good time to check out and see if the membership would work for your family. Some items may be a better deal in larger quantities but you need to determine if you will be able to use it before it goes bad. You will not be saving money, if you end up throwing quite a bit of it away.

There are a variety of summer activities and camps available for your teens. One of these is the Ultimate Life Summit. Below is information on the Summit and information about a Kick off party scheduled for Thursday, May 1.

AGES 12 & UP
7 Mindsets Weekend Event!
Want to change your life? Be happier? Start making a plan for a successful future? Then you need to be here! Join us!
Youth will learn the 7 Mindsets needed to live their ultimate life, full of happiness and success. This life-changing weekend is jam packed with life-planning, team building, and fun camp activities! Students will leave feeling more confident about their future and with the start of a life plan.
June 13 -15
Ages: 12-19
Cost: $99
Location: YMCA Camp Cormorant
Includes transportation to and from camp, 2 night stay, 7 Mindset book and materials, meals and activities at Camp Cormorant.

What will I learn and gain from this?
> Discover factors that lead to extraordinary success & personal achievement
> Learn more about your natural abilities and deepest passions
> Match unique talents with ideal career options
> Create and take purposeful action toward personal goals
> Learn how to incorporate communication, and leadership skills
> Foster imagination, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit
> Apply social responsibility & understand the importance of giving back
> Learn to take calculated risks, make adjustments, and rebound from setbacks
> Learn techniques to create and maintain a positive attitude.

Click here for more information.

Ultimate Life Summit Kick off Party
Thursday, May 1 – 6:30 – 9:00pm, Fercho YMCA in Fargo- FREE (Ages 12-19)

Whether you’re interested in more information about the Ultimate Life Summit, are all ready to sign up, or attended it last year and want to show your friends what an awesome time it is – this event is for you!

Come ready to be inspired and enjoy music, food and games! Mark Lindquist will get the party started, fill you in on what the Ultimate Summit is all about, and get you started thinking about how you can live your ultimate life! Bring friends and get a jump start on living your dreams!

(The kick off event is free, but we ask that you please register.)

A friend of mine recently made these bars and they were a hit with my family.

Chocolate Caramel Bars
1 box devils food cake mix
1 bag (14 oz.) caramels,unwrapped
3/4 cup butter or marg., softened
1/4 C. milk
1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 C. quick cooking or old fashioned oats
1/2 C. chopped pecans or walnuts

Heat oven to 350. Generously grease bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cake mix, butter and eggs with electric mixer on low speed until well mixed.Stir in oats until crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 Cups cake mixture. Press remaining mixture in pan. In heavy 2qt. sauce pan, heat caramels and milk over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Pour over chocolate layer in pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans. Sprinkle reserved cake mixture over top. Bake 22-28 minutes or until caramel bubbles along edges and cake mixture on top appears crisp and dry. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen bars. Cool completely, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.