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.
If Oprah can have a list of her favorite things, then why can’t I? As I was walking through the grocers, I came across the magazine rack and saw the Lady Oprah dancing across the cover of “O.” She looked so pretty I almost bought the magazine that is until I saw the $4.50 price tag. I was bad, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Personally, her favorite things weren’t really all that awesome. I can see no real use for these Chocolate Bears for $12 plus shipping and handling. For exactly the same twelve dollars, I can buy some of my favorite things, like frozen vegetables at the ten for $10 sale, which mean I have vegetables to eat for at least 10 days.
I continued to look through some of Ms. O’s favorite things. I did see some items that made me stop and wonder what where she came up with these items.
http://zappos.com retail $120
These are really nice items, but really, we are in a recession and I can’t afford these things. What I have learned over the years is how to take the things that I truly love, and make a version of them.
First on my list is Moose Munch made famous by Harry and David, retailing at $29.95. This is Crunch and Munch on steroids. I sometimes will buy it as a treat, but most of the time, I make it myself. Here is a simple recipe.
Second on my list of favorite things are any items that I can make. The holiday season I love placards for my holiday table settings. Oriental Trading Company is always on my holiday shopping list, because I can pick up these easy placards for about $5.00. The kit creates 12 settings, and at this price, I can afford to buy several, even to give them as gifts.
And last but not least, some of my favorite things are bags. Purses, satchels, book bags, shopping bags and anything that I can carry my stuff in. I love to shop on http://Ebags.com. There is everything there for your pockets and your pocketbook. Best of all, the prices are right for your purse.
The whole point to my thought process here is to not over spend or get caught up in the haze of Black Friday and the holiday shopping madness. There is enough retail therapy to go around without breaking the bank and acting like a mad person on a spending frenzy. Out of curiosity, what is on your list of favorite things?
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking the annual bus shopping trip to one of those outlet malls. It is always a blast, but I mainly go to hang out with friends, have a decadent lunch, and not have to drive. After so many hours, you take your cache to the bus, seal it in your labeled garbage bag and go back to empty your bank account. However, this time, the bus was not where it was supposed to be. I found the bus but it was blocked in by some self-promoted rapper named Nap-Boy. Our bus driver is upset, our people are upset and I’m thinking, what is the big deal? I sent a tweet to the address on the side of the van, and then I called the number. Here is the beauty of it all, I went back inside the shopping center, took a seat with my Dipping Dots treat, and watched the people pass by. There were a ridiculous number of people wearing T-shirts with stupid sayings on them. Ironically, the rapper that was boxing in our bus, also had a stupid shirt, and he walked right up to me. He, of course, wanted to sell me one of his CD’s. I made a contribution on the condition that he moves his van.
I know I took the long way around on this one, but here’s the point. Out of thousands of people in the shopping outlet in Charlotte, I was able to find one person. Why, because he was wearing a stupid shirt; luckily his shirt matched his van.
He wasn’t the only adult wearing one of those silly shirts. As I sat there, I saw a beer bellied fella pass by in this gem.
I was really tempted to ask what his daughter looked like, to see if it was actually a concern. His daughter showed up. Sadly, Daddy, you can put the gun away. She will be home with you on prom night. I know it’s mean, but I started to chuckle.
Our next wonderful shirt was worn by a Goth kid with green hair. He was also wearing piercings in is eyebrows, his nose, his lip, his jaw, and those big tribal ear circles in his lobes. I laughed when I saw the shirt. The irony, people probably beat the crap out of him his whole life; especially looking as he did. He probably became a Goth when his parents stopped paying for his self-defense classes.
This t-shirt was worn by a young black man who was sporting this shirt in green. He also had on green shoes, a plaid green outer shirt and some green underpants. I saw the underpants because his pants were well below his butt. The young lady at his side walked along with pride that this gem wearing fashion risk was her man. Question, was she one of the wayward ho’s?
The more I sat there, the more people I saw wearing tees with sometimes inappropriate if not downright offensive imprints.
After about a half hour, I had to get up and move, because people were starting to wonder why I was laughing. I could not snap photos, but I did find most of the shirts on a website. I became more tickled as my friend joined me and she saw one that made her laugh even harder. It was a T shirt of the Ass Family and each of the family members also had on the same shirt. Who was the Smart Ass who came up with the idea to wear these out in public?
The irony of it all was wasted on the wearers. Individuals who wear these shirts are probably doing so to get noticed or get some attention. The attention you are getting is not for the funny sayings on your shirt, it is because the reader is processing the whole thought. The thought adorning your boobies, beer belly and bird chest is only the beginning.
One lady stopped and asked why we were laughing. I told her honestly, if you only knew what I was just thinking…..
This holiday season, you save yourself a few dollars by making some Christmas gifts. I know, I know who has the time? That is the wrong question. The right question is who has the money to buy that many gifts? This nice wreath is made out of Coffee filters. The total cost for this project is about $10.
There are many simple projects that you can do that can either upcycle items already in your home or those items that need to leave your home. However, before we get to upcycling, let’s get back to those talents that you have that you can use to give or make gifts. Get your mind out of the gutter, you may be good at that but you can’t give it to your Nana!
Are you good at making cakes? You can make cake pops delivered in a nice basket from the Dollar Store. Are you good at making brownies, jams, cookies? All of these items make fabulous Holiday gifts. My neighbor makes a tin of cookies for us each year. The whole cul-de-sac knows when she is baking and we sit around like children awaiting our deliveries. I have another neighbor that makes fudge. I am not a fudge eater but am always glad for a gift that someone took the time to craft for me.
There are many projects and creative ideas available to you for free if you know where to look. I receive a free magazine from Lowe’s Home Improvement called Creative Ideas. It was choked full of so many great ideas that it inspired me to write. I am hoping to inspire you to try something different this year to save money and truly live better. This month’s issue takes you through easy steps to make wonderful holiday wreaths, headboards and upcycling home items. Upcycling takes recycling to a whole new level by recovering or repurposing items you already have in your home. Take that hideous chair that your Mom sent over to your new place. You don’t want it, but you can’t hurt her feelings. Give it a coat of paint, and add some studs and viola, you have upcylced items that you were going to throw away. You have reduced your carbon footprint, reduce landfill input and given that piece of furniture a reason to feel useful again.
I think the most exciting thing about the holidays is the decorations. Each year, we look for that special ornament to add to our tree. Have you thought about making ornaments out of every day simple items or really putting the décor into decorating? I went to visit my favorite crafter’s website, Martha Stewart. I have always considered her to be the McGyver of crafting. I saw where you can take mini picture frames and turn them into cute ornaments for the mantle or the tree.
Many of the websites have free newsletters, Blogs and magazines that you can have sent right to your home. It doesn’t matter what your skillset, there is something you can do that someone else admires. You can make a box of custom greeting cards. You can lay out a few pages in a scrapbook for a family member. You can buy a set of stencils and create a personalized box for a night stand. You just have to try.
Here is your starting point. Here are some Thanksgiving place cards along with the template courtesy of Ms. Stewart.
It befuddles me that women choose Halloween to release their inner demons, literally. I am not certain when the trend started, but nice girls turn into ghoulish vamps, tramps and scamps. The whole trend is not only creepy, but scary. It is no longer a treat, when your best friend shows up anywhere, let alone your home, looking like a Trick.
It started this morning on my way to work. I saw my 60 year old neighbor dressed as a naughty nurse. That is just wrong on so many levels. I too wanted to participate in the Halloween festivities, so I grabbed some red wedges, a red cape, a long black skirt and top with a Puritan ruffle to complete my ensemble. I grabbed a twig from the back yard as my evil wand. I add some colorful makeup to my eyes, bushed up my eyebrows, and stopped by Walmart to add a witches cap with a spider veil. I am not too evil, nor am I uncovered, wearing fishnets, hooker boots, or a skirt that is WAYYYYY too short. it was out of the norm for me, but honestly, the naughty nurse should be reserved for private parties. I an not a prude, or prudish, I just know there are some things we do not need to see.
I want to believe that somewhere in all of us there is a nice little girl and little boy who want to play with the other kids. However, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. Some of these ideas are simply just in poor taste.
If you wish to let your freak flag fly, then by all means, do so, but please take this word of caution. If you think for one minute that you our coloring outside of the lines, and no one is expecting you to be so edgy, then you are wrong. Your friends and co-workers already know that you are freaky. Showing up to anyone’s home, half dressed, looking like a Hallowhore is not really cute. Be the adult here and just find a costume that is appropriate and for Pete’s sake, put some clothes on!