Three-Cups a Day

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All three kids home from school for a teacher-in-service day, plus a nasty storm that is keeping us all inside? I think today is a three-cups-of-coffee day.

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Money Saving March Day 4

money saving marchWelcome to Day 4 of Money Saving March! Each day during the month of March we will take on a new challenge that is easy to do and will save or earn us some extra money. 

Welcome to Day 4? How have you been doing so far? For today’s challenge, take a few extra minutes to hang up some laundry instead of tossing it in to the dryer. This does two things as far as saving money. First, hanging laundry or using a rack saves you the money you might have spent on running the dryer (heat-generating appliances are notorious energy hogs). Second, it reduces the wear and tear on your laundry items, extending their life, so you don’t have to replace them as often!

Don’t worry if it isn’t warm enough where you are to hang laundry outside. I like to hang laundry up in my basement during the winter, because the clothes dry fast and they contribute some much-needed humidity to the dry winter indoor air. If you want to hang laundry on a regular basis, invest in a good quality drying rack that can be folded out-of-the-way when not in use.

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My Gremlin Rolls…Your Bunny Rolls

My Gremlin Rolls...

Bunny rolls

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March 4, 2013 · 2:53 pm

Money Saving March Day 3

money saving marchWelcome to Day 3 of Money Saving March! Each day during the month of March we will take on a new challenge that is easy to do and will save or earn us some extra money. 

Day 3 is here. Our challenge for today is to bake something from scratch. Now, now, don’t panic. Baking from scratch doesn’t have to time-consuming or difficult. Just pick a simple recipe and go for it. Skip the hand-cut apple pie and make a batch of muffins or some granola, instead.

Why do we want to get into the habit of baking from scratch at least once in a while? It really saves money, especially when we substitute our own baked goods for the expensive breakfast cereal or lunchbox snacks.

bunny rolls

Today, I’m going to give those cute bunny rolls that are all over Facebook a try, using my own Bread Machine Dinner Rolls recipe.  I’m hoping that they don’t come out looking like deranged turtles instead. Ah, the kids won’t care, right?

Wish me luck, and I’ll do the same for you for whatever baking you decide to tackle today!

Ready? Set? Go!

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Money Saving March Day 2

money saving marchWelcome to Day 2 of Money Saving March! Each day during the month of March we will take on a new challenge that is easy to do and will save or earn us some extra money. 

For our second challenge, we need to go around the house and find all of those unused gift cards! You know the ones we get for birthdays, holidays and rebates? The typical family has at least couple of hundred dollars worth of unused gift cards lying around.

Some of the typical places where unused gift cards hide include wallets and purses, junk drawers, stacks of mail, dresser drawers, etc.

Once we have gathered up our gift cards, we are going to put them in a safe, accessible place, so the next time we go shopping, we can use these cards instead of paying by cash or credit card. In my home, I use a simple but pretty cardboard box that is labeled “Free Money.” It is very visible, so I know to check the box before I leave the house on a shopping trip. You might want to keep your gift cards in a separate wallet, a business card holder, in the car, or whatever works for you.

To keep the motivation going, add up the dollar value of all of the cards you find and then post your total!

Ready? Set? Go!

* Update: I just found out that in some states, if your gift card has a balance of less than $10, the store that issued the card must pay out the balance in cash if requested.

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Money Saving March

money saving marchWelcome to Money Saving March! Each day during the month of March we will take on a new challenge that is easy to do and will save or earn us some extra money. Isn’t that something we all can use right now?

Along the way, we’ll discover some new ways to save, establish great money-saving habits, and have a little cash left over.

Each daily challenge will take no more than 15 minutes to complete!

For the first challenge, we need to get out a pad or notebook and a pencil and jot down at least three things you would do if you had some extra money around. It is okay to jot down as many ideas as you like, but to complete the challenge, narrow your list down to just three and prioritize them. We’ll be looking at the list all month as a way to keep us motivated.

Ready? Set? Go!

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Every Who Down in Whoville…

Dr. Seuss Day

Dr. Seuss Day

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March 1, 2013 · 8:33 am

Seeing the Beauty

Seeing the Beauty

Taking care of our stuff often leaves little opportunity for spotting our beautiful moments.

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February 28, 2013 · 1:12 pm

Finding Time to Cook

This post originally appeared on Families.com

When life gets busy, cooking at home is usually one of the first things to go. It is tough to find the time to cook, when there is work, school, kids activities, etc., isn’t it? Eating out becomes the normal thing to do. Unfortunately, eating out can be both expensive and unhealthy, especially if it is continued over time. Because of these two facts, effort must be made to do most of the cooking at home. So where do we find the time to cook?

Track the Time Commitment

Eating out can actually take more time than you think, unless you are on an all-drive-thru diet. The next time you do eat out, track the time it takes, from the moment you get in the car to the moment your meal is actually served. You might be surprised. If it takes more than 15 minutes total (oh, and add in the travel time back to your home), then you may actually be spending more time eating out than you would cooking at home since there are a plethora of recipes out there that require only 15 minutes or less.

Get the Kids Involved

Many hands make light work, so get the whole family involved in preparing the meal. It will give you all a chance to be together, too, reinforcing family bonds. Give each member of the family at least one task, even if it is just pouring frozen vegetables into a dish before microwaving.

Use Simple Ingredients and Recipes

You don’t have to create an entire gourmet meal every time you cook at home. A simple casserole, a pasta dish, burgers…it’s all good. Just try to get the food groups in and you’ll be fine. Simple ingredients and recipes can make for quick easy meals.

Do Prep Work Whenever

The next time you are on the phone for an extended time, use a headset or place it on speaker phone and go and do some dinner prep. Chop vegetables during TV commercials. Add some marinade to frozen chicken and place it in the fridge while you are waiting for your tea to steep.

The point is to do prep work in pieces, whenever you have time. Then when it is time to make the actual meal, there will be less to do, and you won’t have missed those bits of time that you spent on the prep work.

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You Don’t Have to Be Irish to be a Leprechaun

This blog post was crafted for Elfster.com, and featured in the “wish fulfillment” blog.

irishEveryone should be a leprechaun at least once in their life.

Leprechauns are cute. They are clever. And they are, well, let’s face it, rich. Do you know what a pot of gold is worth today? At $900 per ounce, I figure that even a smallish leprechaun who wants a mobile pot of gold that he can carry from rainbow’s end to rainbow’s end would be worth at least $350,000. That would be tax free. Even now, Obama may even be considering a new economic plan called “Operation Lucky Charms.” But, you didn’t find out about it here.

Many famous people have aspired to be leprechauns. If you were anywhere near New York City in the late 1970s to the late 1980s, you may remember the city’s Mayor, Ed Koch who marched in every parade and declared himself to be of the proper heritage that the day called for. He became Puerto Rican, Italian, African-American, Chinese and Irish. I really think his favorite parade was on St. Patrick’s Day. Underneath that Kelly green scarf and fisherman’s sweater was a heart of gold and a pot of green. Or maybe it was the other way around. No matter, the Irish-Jewish brogue brought tears of joy to many eyes, proud we were of our diverse city.

Today in a culture that celebrates ethnic pride, why not take advantage of the great multicultural opportunity and be proud of the traditions that others bring? Even if you aren’t a leprechaun or even Irish, you can celebrate and take ownership of this proud heritage that brought us the gift of gab, Tammany Hall, corned beef and cabbage, and RainDance. Oh, and the color green. Before the Irish came to America, everyone here had to make do with puce.

In truth, positive Irish contributions to American culture include special success and innovation in the fields of journalism, sports and entertainment. The “fighting spirit” of many Irish Americans, as well as their gift with words has contributed tremendously to the greatness of this country. What better way to acknowledge our own American heritage than by celebrating one of the many cultures that helped to shape it? Our first president was Irish (George Washington, in case you forgot). Other famous Irish-Americans include Gene Kelly, Henry Ford, Georgia O’Keeffe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and of course Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York.

So why not dust off that tie with the clover all over it or that pair of green acid washed jeans hanging in the back of your closet. See, it is okay to admit you always wanted to be a leprechaun.

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