If homemade treats are allowed at school for parties, try putting some red food coloring in the syrup for popcorn bails, or mix a few red cinnamon candies in the popcorn. Sugar cookies with red sprinkles or sugar on top are always a hit.

Cupcakes can be made in a heart shape — just fill your cupcake liners with the batter and then slip a marble down along side the liner, between it and the pan. The marble bends in the liner and shapes the top part of the cake into a heart! Cheap, and it works. I made these for all three of my kids for treats.

Most of us are getting rid of last year’s calendars about now, why not recycle some of those pictures into puzzles? Glue them onto poster board or lightweight cardboard, mark some simple shapes, cut them apart, and you have FREE puzzles. 

Or, let the kids make up some scrapbooks of pretty pictures and take them to a hospital children’s ward.

Or, glue the bigger pictures onto some poster board and cover with clear sticky plastic covering. They will last a long time for just a few cents each.

If you were lucky enough to get a gift certificate for clothing this year for Christmas, wait for the sales!

A friend of mine gets clothing certificates every year for Christmas and waits until the stores put all the winter items  on sale for at least 50% to 75% off. Then she goes shopping. Her gift money goes a lot further and she gets a pretty good lift to her wardrobe this way.         

Don’t buy out of season produce this time of year. Strawberries in January in this part of the world come from overseas and the price is too much for my budget. I raise my own strawberries and freeze them to use this time of year — nothing like homemade Strawberry Ice Cream for Valentine’s Day, made with home raised strawberries. I sure can’t swing $4.98 a pound for store bought.

Don’t buy convenience foods when you can make it yourself. Sure it’s easy to stop and buy a frozen pizza for $6 to $8, but you can make it yourself for about $3. With money so tight,  you need to stretch those dollars any way you can.

I use the crockpot a lot this time of year for stews, soups and casseroles. Some are finished off with noodles or dumplings­ — or I may bake a batch of biscuits as part of the dish. They all are good stretchers.

When I do make a meat dish like stir fry, I always double or triple the vegetables and then serve it over hot rice.  Any extra’s go in the freezer in individual servings for other meals.

A reader wrote in….
Did you know that you can use a plastic foam egg carton or even the bottom of a meat tray to sharpen your sewing pins and needles? I didn’t either until a neighbor showed me, and it works! You just poke them into the tray or egg cups a few times and it seems to take the little burrs right off that dull favorite sewing needle. I’ve been tossing my dull pins,  but not any more!

You can use them to hold up the tops of those tall boots so many folks are wearing these days. Just poke the carton down in the tops of the boots and they stay upright!

As always, if you have tips or ideas to share, email them to me at [email protected]. Please be sure to mention the Farm And Livestock Directory.


Want to surprise your kids or sweetheart with a special valentine? Send your card, stamped and addressed, in a bigger envelope to the Postmaster, Valentine, NE 69201-9998. Along with a request to use their postmark on your card.

They will get a valentine from VALENTINE, Nebraska!



 Note from Pennywise:
As always, if you have tips or ideas to share, send them to me at Pennywise, Box 518, Kadoka, SD 57543 or better yet, email me at [email protected]
P.S.: Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond!