Month: November 2011
New Year, New Resolutions
Every year we sit back and make those stupid resolutions to lose weight, eat better, save more money and be kinder to others. We never actually do it, and we are frustrated when our plans go awry. If we are to be perfectly honest with ourselves, our plans go awry because we are not perfectly honest with ourselves. If you lie to yourself then how can you expect to honor a promise that you never fully intended to keep? I am about to break the vicious cycle and start the New Year with some new resolutions. Follow along with me through my thought process.
First, I am okay as I am. I just told this to myself and I believe it. Yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but right now, it’s not going to happen. I am not going to beat myself up about it. I am not going to stand in my bathroom on my scale butt naked on one leg, holding my breath hoping that needle moves. It is not going to move in the opposite direction because last night I ate half the pan of brownies.I was stressed! I’m not unhealthy; I just weigh more than I should for my age and height. Hubby still likes it so I will work on making it tighter.
Next, I worked this year on changing my spending habits. I have a few bucks in the bank and I am not going to spend my money on stupid stuff I don’t need. I am not going to buy items for my friends that they don’t need so they will like me more. I am not going to buy silly crap, eat out too often, and this should save me money and also help that eating the pan of brownies thingy.
Third on my list is to find a new means to get out and enjoy the day. I am not going to say I am going to exercise more, but dammit my yard needs some work. I am going to work more in my yard which is going to tone my arms and my legs. I am going to walk around my neighbor and pick up some trash. I also have a Wii and I like to dance. Combine the two, gym membership goes away, I save some bucks, I am mobile, and again this ties back to number one.
And last but not least, I am going to finish some of these unfinished things in my life. I have started on this project, made this pile, moved this stack and created a new one. Forget this crap. I am going to buy one of those Neat Scanners. The cheapest I have seen it has been at Amazon.com. It is pricey but this will eliminate so many loose receipts, bills, stacks to be shredded while sorting it all for tax purposes.
I am just going to work a lot smarter instead of harder. I am not going to lie to myself to accomplish, achieve or attempt something that I know it is not my time to do. It is not my time because I have not done the leg work to put it into play. I am, strengthening my resolve to be better at what I do. However, in order to accomplish these things I just need to sit down and have a quiet moment.
I am starting my quiet moment now, but first, to the scale. After I finish this brownie.
- My head is telling me I don’t need that brownie but my PMS does (ask.metafilter.com)
- Resolutions for the New Year (xemion.com)
- New Year’s Resolutions 30 Day Trial (christopherspenn.com)
- I Do Not Believe in New Year Resolutions (socyberty.com)
- Pop’s Picks: The 15 Resolutions We Suggest For the Stars (popsugar.com)
Give the Gift Of Flavor
Okay, Okay, I have been yammering on and on about saving money by giving a holiday gift that you can make. I have offered a few links to a few sites but have not really shared with you an idea that anyone can do at any skill level. Well here it is flavored oils, vinegars and rubs! You see these in specialty stores all the time and shop owners can charge some hefty prices. This year, you can give these über chic gifts for just a fraction of the cost.
First things if first, let’s round up those empty wine and beer bottles. Run them through the dishwasher and use some peanut butter to remove the excess gunk from the labels. Let’s start simple with a basic herb oil, most people will choose a thyme. I like to use fennel. I pulled this recipe from Allyou.com.
Springs of Dried Thyme, 2 teaspoons of peppercorns, 1 1/2 cups oil (vegetable or olive)
Place all ingredients in a pot. Warm over medium-low heat. Using a candy thermometer, check oil until the thermometer reads 165ºF. Allow the oil to cool, then strain; reserving thyme and peppercorns. Pour into bottle. Add thyme and peppercorns. Cork; chill for up to 1 month.
Pretty simple isn’t it? Now let’s really go poo-poo Chi-Chi with some rubs for steaks and chops. I usually make my own instead of paying the $4.50 a jar from the shelf brands. If I make my own I can also monitor the sodium content. Here is a simple recipe. I also like to use the little jars for preserves. Prep time for this simple gift idea takes about 5 minutes and this recipe only makes about 2 jars.
1/3 cup cumin 3 tablespoons allspice 4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne 1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and then distribute evenly in jars. Seal jar tightly and add ribbons of cute labels. I found some really regal labels on the Microsoft.com template page.
And last but not least, herbal vinegars. I picked this little recipe up from Colorado State University. These require a little more work and know how, but once you learn the technique, this is a gift that can literally keep on giving.
- 4 cups red wine vinegar
- 8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon sage leaves
Thoroughly wash herbs and dip in solution of 1 teaspoon household bleach in 6 cups water. Rinse thoroughly under cool running water and pat dry. Place herbs in sterilized quart jar. Heat the vinegar to just below boiling point (190 F); pour over herbs. Cap tightly and allowing the vinegars to stand in cool, dark place for three to four weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain out herbs. Pour vinegar into clean sterilized bottles with tight fitting covers. Add a fresh sprig of cleaned and sanitized parsley, if desired. Store in the refrigerator. This recipe makes 1 quart.
Check back with me later in the week as I start to tackle those New Year’s resolutions you have been thinking about and know you are not going to follow. Hopefully, I can help you plan some new resolutions that are doable.
- Affordable and Thoughtful Holiday Gifts from Your Kitchen (couponshoebox.com)
- Flavored Popcorn Kit (gift idea) (abeautifulmess.typepad.com)
- Fool-proof vinegar infusions (ask.metafilter.com)
Tis the Season To Save Big!
It is that time of year again. It is the season of giving. It is the time of year when we sing Joy to the World, wish peace on earth and show good will towards men. It is also that time of the year to buy new small appliances and stock up the pantry and linen closet! Yes, that’s right, it’s the time of the year to buy some of the stuff you really want and need to make your life easier!
I’m not different than my fellow man with the exception that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the major shopping days for me! Yes, I will pick up a little something for Nana, big sisters, my favorite cousin as well, but right now, I am stocking up for me. This is the time of year when stores begin to overstock for the holiday season, but the beauty is they start to slash prices on December 26th as well. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, all the way through the New Year, you can really stock up and save. But before we get to the after Christmas deals, let’s get smart about the items for the holidays.
For example, these cups from QVC.com, you can get the set of six for a mere $25. Think about it, this makes six gifts for your co-workers or team mates. These are also great “extras” for those neighbors or people who drop by with a little something for you, now you have something for them. Now that is music to my ears.
Speaking of music, this is also the time of year for great deals on DVD’s and CD’s, you can also buy now for birthdays and Easter baskets. Many of your favorite artist realease “Best Of” or live performances this time of year. Great stuffers for stockings, gift bags and baskets are picture frames, tools and bath products. It is also a great time of year to buy storage bins; they may all be in red and green, but what the heck, they are dirt cheap. This handy tub is $2.74 at Lowes and you can buy one and get one free. While in Lowes, every girl should have her own set of tools and for around $10, you can get the lady started.
Last but not least, one of my favorite ideas, is to stock up the pantry with buy one get one deals. There are great deals on flour, sugar, cooking oils, broths and spices. The http://www.thecoupongodess.com also suggests that if you have room in the freezer, go ahead and buy that turkey or extra ham. I was also reading on mommysavers.com you can buy a set of eight dessert plates with mugs and separate these into sets of fours. Add in some small stocking stuffers like hot cocoa, or Bath and Body Works (5 for $5) products, you are good to go! Also, if you are a Foursquare user, look for the hidden deals and specials when you check in, it can save you a few bucks and often will give you a certain percentage off your purchases.
Shopping for the holidays are great, but smart and savvy shoppers have loaded up all year and this is season to replenish the coiffures. I even scored a new food chopper and waffle iron for $2.84 on Black Friday at Wal-Mart. Forget the perfect card, here ya go neighbor, for your birthday, a new waffle iron! Now, I always have on hand a cute card or item for a birthday gift and you can too. After all, tis the season!
- ♫ Tis The Season…♫ (misbehavedwoman.wordpress.com)
- 5 Things to Watch This Week: Black Friday, Christmas Movies, ESP Music, Snacking Stocks and TiVo (dailyfinance.com)
- 7 Fascinating Black Friday Infographics (hubspot.com)
- Black Friday Crowd Goes Wild Over $2 Waffle Makers (shoppingblog.com)
For These Things I Am Thankful
I am going on strike. I have been asked by six people what I am planning to cook for Thanksgiving, and each have been shocked when I have responded, “very little.” I have the bird, I have some vegetables and I have stuff to make desserts, but am I cooking for two days to eat left overs for four, heck no! I plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, but not in the traditional way.
I am thankful to be able to have the means in which to purchase the needed items to make such a splendid meal. However, with the cost of food and fuel, I see no reason to spend $200 to make dinner. If I am going to have a $200 dinner, the Chef best come to my table and make sure I enjoyed every savory morsel!
I cook five or six days a week and Tuesdays are my baking day. I bake fresh each week and my friends are all well aware. I am usually asked to share what I make and often do. Today is Tuesday so I have decided to make a pie. I am thankful that I have friends who enjoy my cooking 52 times per year. I do not need them to wait until the final Thursday in November.
Because I cook so often, I have found clever if not unusual means to recycle my leftovers. The roast from Sunday is often cut down to make tacos on Mondays or soups or stews throughout the week. The left over cornbread I made on Sunday is perfect for some cornbread dressing. I am thankful that there is enough leftover and I do not have to make a fresh pan special for Thanksgiving.
I have potatoes, both white and sweet, along with peas and other items bought from local growers. I am going to cook for the week anyway, but this week, I am planning to cook a turkey. Since the bird is mid-sized, it is also perfect for making turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup and turkey salad. I am thankful that I know how to stretch my food budget.
So often we spend this day of Thanksgiving engorging ourselves with overly rich foods, overspending and annoying the hell out of each other. Again, I am protesting. My modest dinner this Thursday will consist of a bird and two side dishes. I am not heading out on Black Friday to shop for items I don’t need either. I am staying home.
I have been blessed this year with clarity to understand my place on this universe. I have learned in the past year that less is more. I have learned that to be an educator, I must first educate myself. I have learned that in order to be loved, I must, without reservation give it to those who deserve it, as well as those finding their way. I have, most of all, learned that I am still learning.
I do not require a certain day in which to cook a meal to share with my family and friends. I have learned to manage my money so that I do not have to shop like a maniac the day after Thanksgiving. I have learned to be crafty and can make my friends items they will appreciate, so I do not need to spend money. And for these things, I am thankful.
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