Tag Archives: frugal

DIY holiday gift round-up

It’s that time of year. Time to bust out some of those precious canned goods for holiday gifts, or better yet, make some homemade goods especially for gift giving. As we prepare for a food swap next week and plan for the holidays, I have DIY gifts on the mind. Here are some of the links I’ve been looking at:

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Filed under holidays, traditions

eggnog popcorn balls & a Hitchcock double feature

We run around in search of family fun an awful lot. Recently I’ve been thinking about the concept of cheap family dates. Last weekend we ran to Seattle for an exhibit on Horror Film at EMP. We had a ton of fun, but when you’re spending $15 a pop, buying gas, and eating out, suddenly family fun is really expensive.


Rear Window

The three of us have developed a sudden obsession with Alfred Hitchcock. Jess and I got to see Rear Window on the big screen in Portland. It was thrilling to applaud the Hitchcock cameo with a crowd. Randomly, the next week our local theater was showing Dial M for Murder in 3D, complete with a vintage piece of equipment to synchronize two projectors. We let Levi stay up late on a school night and didn’t regret it. Hitchcock films are so suspenseful and clever, and his artful shots at times take your breath away.

I realized we practically have a library of Hitchcock available on Netflix streaming, and even more titles for rent from Amazon. I decided a stay-at-home family date was in order. If we were going to have a proper double feature, we would need popcorn. The stars were aligning perfectly because I’ve been waiting since last year to try this recipe for eggnog popcorn balls.

These do not contain actual eggnog, or even eggs. They do contain a lot of nutmeg and taste delightfully like holiday nog. I made a double batch, and luckily Levi wandered into the kitchen in that way he does once in a blue moon, asking, “What ya making?” followed by, “Can I help?” We had to butter our hands every other time we formed a popcorn ball. It was a sticky mess, but so worth it.

These things are killer. You should make them. And you could even pop your popcorn in the microwave in a brown paper bag like I did yesterday. Despite the sugary mess, the recipe was pretty easy.

So, which Hitchcock films did we pick?

North by Northwest. Perhaps Cary Grant will be our next obsession. And we have always wanted to see Mount Rushmore.

The second was a no-brainer. Psycho, of course.

What have you been doing lately for family fun? Bonus points if you are successfully entertaining teenagers.

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Filed under family, food

brown bag microwave popcorn

Did you know you can microwave popcorn simply in a brown paper lunch bag? This was making the rounds online ages ago, and I finally got around to trying it.

All you need is a standard brown lunch bag. They cost less than two cents each. I love that this package says “Packed with love“. I also love that I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photo I took.

I don’t think we’ve had these things in the house since Levi was little and we made puppets and birthday party loot bags out of them. Nostalgia.

With a little testing, I found 1/3 cup of kernels to be the magic number. Go up to 1/2 cup and you will either waste a lot of kernels or burst open the bag. With 1/3 cup the popcorn fits with a little room to spare.

Simply put the kernels in the bag. Some recipes call for oil or butter, but I wanted plain ol’ popcorn.

Fold twice at the top of the bag. Alton Brown uses staples, but doesn’t that go against the cardinal rule of microwave use? You don’t need staples. Put the bag upright in the microwave on high for 3 minutes. Listen as it pops, and just like store-bought microwave popcorn, you remove it when the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. This could happen anywhere between 2 and 3 minutes.

I called Jess at work and said, “Why does anyone buy microwave popcorn?” My mind is blown. This is simple, cheap, and you can compost the brown paper bag when you’re done. It’s nice when the cheapest option is also healthier and better for the planet.

I can’t wait to share what we made with eighteen cups of that popcorn tomorrow.

brown bag microwave popcorn

Makes about 8 cups.

one standard brown paper lunch bag
1/3 cup popping corn

Unfold the paper bag and place the kernels inside. Fold the top of the bag over twice. Place upright in the microwave. Set the microwave to 3 minutes on high heat. Listen carefully, and stop when popping slows to 2 to 3 seconds between pops.

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Filed under food, recipes