Easter Egg-stravaganza!

October 16, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Holiday Ideas · Comments Off on Easter Egg-stravaganza! 

By Tawra Kellam

http://www.LivingOnADime.com/

OK, so the kids noticed on the calendar that Easter is approaching and they want to make a huge production of dying eggs. In the past, the little stickers you bought at the store sufficed, but now they want the real thing. Here are some old standards with a few new ideas for you.

One important note: When the kids get really excited about egg dying, don’t feel sorry for them and pour the left over egg dye in their bath water so they can have more fun (no matter how much they beg and plead! Especially if it’s food coloring). Someone might panic and declare a citywide medical quarantine if they see your kids dyed all sorts of strange colors in their Easter finery.

Before you decorate Easter eggs, cover the entire table with newspaper. Keep a huge roll of paper towels or rags handy for messes. Have each kid wear one of dad’s old (now disposable) tee shirts.

Making Easter Egg Stands*?*Cut toilet paper roll cores into one inch cylinders and use for egg stands. Decorate with stickers or paint.

Decorating Eggs:

*Traditional method*

Hard boil eggs. Fill several mugs with boiling water and add 1-2 tsp. vinegar. Place a few drops of desired food coloring in each mug. Place eggs in mugs for several minutes until eggs reach desired shades.

Remove with a spoon. Place on paper towel to dry. When dry, polish with a small amount of shortening on a paper towel. Buff until glossy.

You can draw or write on the eggs with a light colored or white crayon before dipping. The drawing will remain white after the egg is dipped.

To clean out mugs, put a little bleach water in the cups and soak for a few minutes.

*Natural Easter Egg Dyes *

If you would like to try dying eggs naturally, try the following:

~Yellow- yellow onion skins, turmeric (½ tsp. per cup water) celery leaves

~Orange- any yellow dye plus beet juice

~Red- beets, paprika, red onion skins

~Pink- cranberry juice

~Blue- blackberries, grape juice concentrate, red cabbage

~Brown- black tea, white oak, juniper berry, coffee, barberry

~Light purple- blackberries, grapes, violets

~Green- alfalfa, spinach, kale, violet blossom plus ¼ tsp. baking soda, tansy, nettle, chervil, sorrel, parsley, carrot tops, beet tops or dip yellow egg in blue dye

Hard boil eggs with 1 tsp. vinegar in the water. Place dying ingredients in non-aluminum pans, cover with water and boil 5 minutes to 1 hour until desired color is achieved. Use enough material to make at least 1 cup dye. Crush ingredients as they boil to extract as much dye as possible. Strain the dye. Most dyes should be used hot. Let each egg sit in the dye until it reaches the desired color. Some dyes will take longer than others to make the desired colored on the egg. Remove the egg and let dry.

*Glitter Eggs*- Place 1 tablespoon each of glue and water in a cup. Stir the mixture and then paint the eggs with it. Sprinkle with glitter. This can also add sparkle to already dyed eggs!

*Crepe Paper Eggs*- Wet a white or dyed egg. Dab torn pieces of colored tissue paper or pieces of pretty colored napkins on the eggs. When the paper dries, the paper falls off and leaves the color behind on the egg.

*Decoupaged eggs* – Tear small pieces of wrapping paper, napkins, stickers, or clip art. Mix equal amounts of glue and water. Paint egg with glue mixture. Place paper on top and then cover with more glue mixture. Let dry.

*Spotted Eggs*- Place 1 tsp. of cooking oil in dye. Dip the egg. The oil will cause the dye to make an irregular pattern on the egg.

*Waxed Eggs*- Dip a portion of the eggs in melted paraffin or candle wax. Then dip them in the dye. Remove from dye. Dry and peel off the wax. The egg will be white on one half and colored on the other half. You can also dip in dye before waxing to get two colors.

*Hollow Eggs*- Poke a hole in one end of an egg with a very small needle. Poke another slightly larger hole in the other end. Then blow on the small end and the egg will come out the other side. Decorate as desired.

Too Many Oranges?

October 16, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Too Many Oranges? 

by Tawra Kellam

http://www.LivingOnADime.com/

It’s that time of year. You found a really good deal on oranges but you purchased a few more than you can eat. Now what do you do with them. Here are a few suggestions from www.LivingOnADime.com to get you started.

1. Make juice out of the oranges and then use the peels for Candied Orange Peels.

2. Use the leftover syrup from Candied Orange Peels on pancakes or French Toast. The syrup can also be used to make popsicles.

3. Wash peels thoroughly. Grate the peel before using and freeze the zest for later use.

4. Cut up orange segments and use as a garnish for salads. Use in fruit salad or sliced as a side dish.

5. Cut up slices and use a garnish for meat or relish dishes.

6. Cut up peels. In a saucepan add peels, 1 cinnamon stick, a few cloves and fill to the top with water. Simmer for a nice potpourri or dry peels and use in dry potpourri.

*Easy Orange Marmalade*

1 orange*
1 Tbsp. water
½ cup sugar

Cut the un-peeled orange and place into a blender or food processor with the water. Pour mixture into a saucepan with the sugar and boil for 15 minutes.

*If a non-organic orange is used wash peels throughly before peeling.

*Candied Orange Peel*

Peels from 3 large oranges, grapefruits or lemons*
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
water

Cut the peel on each fruit into quarters. Pull the peel off in these quarter sections. Slice peel into ¼ inch-wide strips. In a saucepan add salt and cover with cold water. Boil 15 minutes, pour off water and add fresh water. Boil 20 minutes. Change water again and boil another 20 minutes. Drain and cover with 2 ½ cups sugar and 1 cup water. Simmer, stirring constantly, until all the syrup has boiled away. Do not let the peels scorch. Spread on wax paper. Roll peels in remaining sugar. Let dry. Store in an airtight container. Keeps one week or can be frozen.

*If non-organic fruit is used wash peels throughly before peeling.

The $7 Gourmet Valentine’s Dinner for Two

October 16, 2008 · Filed Under Cheap Holiday Ideas, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on The $7 Gourmet Valentine’s Dinner for Two 

http://www.livingonadime.com/

Even when you don’ t Valentine’s have much cash on hand, you can have a special dinner for Valentine’s Day. You can create a special Valentine’s Dinner 2 people for under $7.00. The secret to a frugal romantic dinner is the setting so lets start with that. If you were thinking ahead purchase 75% off on clearance after Christmas 10-15 red and white taper candles. You can also purchase red napkins, lace tablecloths, and red ribbon after Christmas for .50 – $1.00

Look at thrift stores and garage sales for one or two place settings of china for 50 cents each. If it’s to late this year remember for next year after Christmas to purchase you Valentines’ items. You can also purchase things on sale 50% after Valentine’s Day and keep for next year. Of course if you’re with the one you love, who needs food for Valentine’s Day!

For the menu

French Onion Soup
Tomato Basil Salad
Maple-Glazed Chicken
Glazed Carrots
Lemon Potatoes
Red Velvet Cake
Water with lemon slices
tea or coffee with desert

French Onion Soup ( $1.15)

2 onions, thinly sliced (yellow works best) (.25)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine (.10)
2 cups beef stock (made with bullion cubes or beef bones) (.10)
1 bay leaf
2 slices day-old French bread (.20)
1/2 cup mozzarella or Swiss cheese, grated (.50)

Melt butter in a skillet. Saute onions until slightly brown. Add onions to beef broth in saucepan. Simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Pour into bowls. Place bread on top of each bowl of soup, and sprinkle the cheese on top. Then set under broiler and cook until cheese is melted and brown. This soup will simmer in the crockpot on low overnight.

Tomato Basil Salad ($1.44)

4 large peeled tomatoes (.79)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 Tbsp. wine vinegar (.10)
2 Tbsp. oil (.05)
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped into small pieces (.50)

Dice tomatoes and combine with salt, pepper, vinegar, oil and basil. Serve. You could also add cubes of mozzarella cheese.

Maple-Glazed Chicken ($2.14 )

1/4 cup maple syrup (.05)
4 tsp. lemon juice (.05)
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine (.05)
salt and pepper (to taste)
4 pieces chicken ($1.99 purchased on sale at $1.99/.lb)

Preheat oven to 450. Mix maple syrup, lemon juice and butter together in small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Spray a baking dish and place chicken in it. Salt and pepper the chicken. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour on glaze. Bake for 15 minutes more or until juices run clear.

Glazed Carrots (.37)

1/2 lb. fresh carrots or baby carrots (.12)
1/2 stick margarine (.05)
6 Tbsp. brown sugar (.10)
1 tsp. cinnamon (.05)
1 tsp. ginger (optional) (.05)

Clean carrots and cut into bite-size pieces. Steam 10 minutes in a small amount of boiling water just until tender. Melt margarine in a large skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add hot carrots, stirring well to coat. Remove when shiny and well glazed.

Lemon Potatoes (.75)

6 new potatoes or 2 medium potatoes, cut in halves or quarters (.50)
2 Tbsp. margarine (.05)
1/2 tsp. lemon peel, grated
1 1/2sp. lemon juice (.05)
1 tsp. chives, chopped (.10)
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper
dash of nutmeg (all spices)

Clean and steam potatoes 20 minutes (until tender). Heat remaining ingredients just to boiling. Pour lemon butter over potatoes and serve.

Red Velvet Cake (.50 for 2 servings)*

3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 oz. red food coloring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk

Cream together butter, eggs and sugar in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour and buttermilk. Mix well. Add flour and buttermilk alternately. Beat until all the lumps are out. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 350< for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes clean. Frost with Red Velvet Frosting.

Red Velvet Frosting

2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Cook milk and flour until thick, stirring constantly. Cool thoroughly. Beat milk and flour for 1 minute until fluffy. Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add to milk and flour and add vanilla. Mix well. Frosts 1 Red Velvet Cake.

*Or purchase a box mix on sale .79 and canned frosting on sale .69. plus .50 for eggs etc. to make the cake $1.48

Stop Eating Your Way Into Debt!

October 16, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Stop Eating Your Way Into Debt! 

by Jill Cooper
http://www.LivingOnADime.com/

At this time of year, there are usually 3 things people are panicking about: how to lose weight, how to save money, and how to get organized. We have already touched on losing weight so this week I would like to touch on saving money.

Hopefully most of you realize that you can get into deep debt if you buy a house or a car you can’t afford. That seems to be pretty obvious, although a lot of people do it anyway. But that is not what I want to deal with today. The Bible talks about the little foxes that spoil the vine. What that is talking about is the little things that sneak into our lives without us realizing it. They start picking away at the vines in our lives until it destroys us. One of those “little foxes” is eating out.

Eating out is among the of the top causes of personal debt. Most of us hunt for the best interest rates on our mortgages and we complain about the awful price of gas the whole time we are pumping it.

Interestingly enough though, I have yet to hear one person groan about the awful prices they had to pay for lunch today or tell how they were “duped” into having to pay such high prices at their favorite restaurant. I mean really, the government should step in and make all restaurants take steak off of their menus so I won’t be tempted to order it. Of course then there are those fast food places. They shouldn’t be allowed to build so close to the road and make it so convenient for me to drive in there each day. They have a lot of nerve expecting me to be a responsible adult who knows what I can or can’t afford and should or shouldn’t do.

Tut, tut. I had better behave or I will have to fire myself. HA! HA! But I do feel so much better for getting that off of my chest.

Anyway where was I? Oh, yes — saving money and eating out. I know most of the excuses we use to justify eating out when it doesn’t really fit in the budget: “I don’t have time”, “I’m too busy”, “I don’t know how to cook”, and last but not least, “it’s so much easier to eat out”.

I totally understand. I too don’t have time to do things. I don’t have time to take care of my yard, so I will hire a crew of gardeners to do it. I too don’t have time to clean my house so I will have a housekeeper come in every day and do it for me. I don’t know how to cook so I need a chef (the best French one, of course) and it is so much easier to hit my garage sales if I am chauffeur driven.

Obviously my examples are tongue in cheek but, as ridiculous as that all sounds, that really is what a lot of us are doing. In the same way that I can’t afford a gardener, housekeeper or chauffeur and I would be pretty foolish to go hire them, many of us can’t afford to go out to eat but do it anyway. I don’t think most people really realize how much they spend eating out each month and would be shocked to find that they could probably hire a housekeeper or a gardener for that same amount.

Take one week and write down how much you spend eating out. That includes all those coffees, soft drinks, things from the vending machines and snacks you buy throughout the day. Be sure to write down the amount of anything that goes into you and your family’s mouths for an average week. I’m afraid you may be unpleasantly surprised. Multiply it by 4 to get a monthly estimate and I think you would be just plain shocked.

I’m beginning to wonder if another reason we eat out so much is that it has just become a habit. Like many bad habits, we get so comfortable with them that we don’t want to change them. Even when we know that a habit is destructive to us (physically, financially and even emotionally), we still do it.

Some of us look down our noses at other people with “bad habits” like drug addicts and alcoholics and can’t understand why they don’t just kick their habits. “Don’t they see what they are doing to their families????”

What is the difference between other people’s destructive habits and our repeatedly going out to eat and charging it? We know the food isn’t as good for our families, we know we don’t have the money to pay for it, and we know on bill paying day we will be so stressed that we will take it out on everyone around us. We so proudly display our bumper stickers that say “Say no to drugs.” but how many of us could proudly display a bumper sticker that says “Say no to debt, I’m debt free”.

(Please do not e-mail me about drug addicts and alcoholics. If you do, you are missing the point of the article and are only making it more clear to me that you are not willing to own up to or face the real issue –your debt.)

I know those words may sound harsh to some, but if you have seen and dealt with as many families as I have, whose homes have been or are being destroyed because of financial irresponsibility, you would understand why I can’t always sugar coat things. We sink into a fog of apathy, hopelessness and discouragement and just give up trying. I really want you to understand you can fix your finances, but it will take a little bit of work and effort on your part. Don’t just throw up your hands and give up.

There is a story in the Bible (John 5) that tells about a man who couldn’t walk. He had laid by a healing pool for 38 years. If he could dip in the pool when the water stirred, he would be healed. Jesus asks him what he is doing there and he says “Well, I just don’t have anyone who will carry me and put me in the pool” (Poor little old me.) Jesus then asks him, “Do you really want to get healed?” This might seem to us a strange question but, as I once heard a woman speaker point out, if he really wanted to get healed wouldn’t he have tried some way to inch his way over to that pool even if he could only make it a half an inch a day no matter how hard it was?

Maybe Jesus asked this question because He too thought here was is a man, like so many do these days, making excuses, being a victim and waiting for someone else to fix his problem for him. What did Jesus tell him to do? GET UP! (stand on your own two feet), TAKE UP YOUR BED (start being responsible for your own things), and WALK (become active in solving your own problems which may mean physical labor, or doing without somethings).

You need to be like the lame man and GET UP, TAKE UP YOUR BED and WALK. If you know you are going out to eat too much then stop saying you’re a victim of these “hard economic times”. Be responsible for the “bed” (or the debts that you have now) and actively start doing something about it today. It isn’t as hard as you think. I can take every excuse for eating out that I mentioned above and prove that they’re not really valid.

“I don’t have time.” For the amount of time it takes you to drive to some place, wait for them to take your order and then wait for them to prepare your order, I can give you 10 menus or more that would take less time for you to fix at home.

“I’m too busy.” If you are too busy to take time to feed your family, something that is a necessity of life, then you are too busy. I have very rarely heard anyone say that they are too busy to get their hair done, go shopping, go to sports activities, talk on the phone or spend time on the computer. You really can find the time.

If I sound like I don’t have patience with that excuse, it’s because I don’t. I was a single mom with 2 teens, working 60 -70 hours a week, doing all my own yard work, home repairs, and on and on and guess what? Except when I was ill, I always found time to make breakfast and dinner.

“I don’t know how to cook.” So learn. Start simple. Even my 9 year old grandson could boil himself a hot dog. You don’t have to produce a gourmet meal to make your family happy and, in most cases, they would prefer you didn’t. There are simple enough instructions on the back of a package of spaghetti noodles that, once again, even a child can read and do. Warm up a jar of sauce and dinner is served. You now have 2 main dishes that take less than 10 minutes to prepare.

I understand that man can’t live on hot dogs alone (although I think kids can), but don’t worry — after a week or two of simple dishes, you can move on to more complicated things like frozen French fries and frying hamburgers 😉 Plus if you really get stuck, I just happen to know of this really good cookbook called Dining on A Dime that can help you. 😉

“It’s so much easier.” I guess that depends on your definition of easy. To me, going to a restaurant, sitting and listening to loud music for 30 minutes with fussy, hungry, complaining kids is not my idea of fun. Going to a drive-thru is, at times, not much better. Lately it seems as if the line of cars wraps around the whole building at every fast food joint that I drive by. I was amazed to see every restaurant’s parking lot jam packed two days after Christmas. (Must be that all those people who couldn’t afford Christmas had gotten a wind fall.) Sorry, once again I digress.

You may say “The restaurant where I go isn’t that bad.” but my point is that everything has it’s drawbacks whether you stay at home to eat or go out to eat. It’s just a matter of what you make up your mind to put up with. Do you want the pain of cooking or the pain of not knowing how to pay your bills.

If you are in debt, it would be wise to start putting up with a few of the drawbacks that come with eating at home. Besides, if you are really serious about saving money, there are ways to make cooking at home much easier.

You can use convenience foods. There is nothing wrong with buying things like French bread, canned biscuits or bagged salad. Line the pans you use with foil, or use disposable pans. It’s cheaper in the long run to use these than going out to eat.

Clean up as you cook. This is very important because I notice a lot of people make a bigger mess than necessary when they cook.

Instead of messing up the whole stove by repeatedly laying a sticky spoon on it, use a spoon holder or cup. It is a simple thing that makes clean up so much easier.

Keep some hot soapy water in the sink while you are cooking and wash things as you finish with them.

Don’t set that carton of milk down on the counter after you pour it. While it is still in your hand put it back in the fridge.

Keep the amount of utensils you use to a minimum. You don’t need to put a lid on a pot every time you cook something.

Don’t always think gourmet. Most families are so excited to get a homemade meal that they don’t care what you serve them. Besides, almost any meal can be made to look “gourmet”. Fruit sliced and arranged nicely on a plate, muffins keeping warm and nestled in a napkin inside a basket or mashed potatoes mounded high with a chunk of golden butter melting down the sides all have eye appeal. All right — I made myself hungry! Maybe it’s time to quit for lunch.

Clean up is one of the main reasons people hate to eat at home, but if you clean as you go like I mentioned earlier and everyone pitches in to help clean up after dinner, it should only take about 15 minutes to get it all put away.* It would take longer than that to drive to a fast food
place and return home.

Pull out those crock pots. It takes about 5 minutes to throw in a roast, potatoes and carrots. It takes the same amount of time to throw in the ingredients for chili, stew or veggie soup.

If you are dragging the kids to an after school game: Instead of going to a fast food drive in, throw some hot dogs in a thermos and cover with boiling water. They will be cooked and ready to eat by the time you get there. How long does it really take to grab a few pieces of fruit, a bag of cleaned veggies and some chips to go with them? Maybe 2 minutes? How hard is that to cook?

You could also have sloppy joes simmering in a crock pot and pour those in the thermos for an on the run meal. To make it even easier, heat it up from a jar and then pour it in the thermos.

I don’t know who set the standard that cooking a meal in 30 minutes is fast. If I took that long to cook a meal every night I would never get anything done. There are tons of meals out there that require 15 minutes or less prep time.

If you don’t know where to start, then drag out our cookbook or go to our website. We have lots of ideas there to get you started. Sometimes we like to make things more complicated than they really are because that gives us a good excuse not to do them. Where there is a will there is a way.

Do you really want to get out of debt? Then GET UP, STOP CHARGING, and GET COOKING!

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