December 31, 2010

Cabbage Rolls—Our Family’s New Year’s Day Tradition

Our family has Eastern European roots, and one of our traditional foods is cabbage rolls.  Cabbage rolls are much like BBQ is here in the US.  Different regions have variations of the same basic recipe.  Some involve a tomato stew poured on top, some are rolled in grape leaves instead of cabbage rolls, some include only meat—you get the picture.  This recipe is one that we’ve made in our family for as long as I can remember.  The same basic recipe is there, but over the years it has become more Americanized.  The inclusion of Tony’s as seasoning, for example happened within the last 15 years. 

We make cabbage rolls two times a year—New Year’s and Easter.  The cabbage represents the money, just like cooked greens would in Southern traditions.  We cook black eyed peas using the ham bone from Christmas to go with the rolls and eat it all day long.  I hope you’ll give it a try.

A few very important notes before we move on to the recipe.  Cabbage reacts with aluminum foil.  I only use glass baking dishes.  When I’m covering these for the fridge, I put plastic wrap on top.  If you are concerned about the off-gassing of plastic wrap, you can top the cabbage rolls with a layer of wax paper or parchment before covering with the plastic wrap. 

Ingredients (This recipe makes enough for at least two 9 1/2x11 Pyrex dish)

2 large heads of cabbage

2 lbs ground beef

2 lbs sausage (mild, hot, or one of both—your choice)

Approx 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped onions/green onions

3 large cloves garlic finely minced

3 small bell peppers or 2 large bell peppers finely chopped

3 ribs of celery finely chopped

Approx 3/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 cups dry white rice

4 cups water

Seasoning—salt, pepper, and Tony’s

Approx 6 slices of bacon

  • Cook 2 cups rice in 4 cups water with 1 t. salt.  (You can adjust the seasoning later if not salty enough).  Bring rice to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.  When timer goes off, remove from the stove and set aside.
  • Rinse the cabbage well.  Cut near the core of the cabbage so as to release the leaves.  Set cabbage in a pot with a steamer basket.  Cook just until the cabbage leaves will release and are slightly limp.  As this happens remove each leaf with a pair of tongs.  Be careful of the steam so as to not burn yourself.  As you remove more leaves, you will need to pull the head out of the pot and again cut close to the core so that the leaves in the center will release.  After all of the leaves have steamed, set them aside and let them cool. 
  • Once the cabbage leaves have released, you will need to rib them.  See the step by step photos below.  You will first turn the cabbage leaf so that the outside is facing you.  Next take a knife and remove the rib.  Save the ribs for the stuffing mixture.

cabbage-vein-removal

  • Now for the stuffing.  Brown sausage and ground beef in a large pot with either a bit of cooking spray, a teaspoon of bacon grease, or a teaspoon of olive oil.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon of both salt and pepper as it browns. 
  • Add all of the vegetables except for the parsley, including any cabbage ribs and the cabbage heart/core that you have reserved and chopped.  Let the vegetables cook with the meat for about 5 minutes, or until they start to wilt. 
  • Add the parsley, mix, and drain well.
  • In a very large mixing bowl, add the rice to the meat and vegetables.  Then taste and season.  Keep in mind that the cabbage which will hold the stuffing will not have any salt, so this mixture can be a little on the salty side.  Once you have seasoned it to your liking, you will start the rolling process.
  • Prepare your baking dishes by greasing them with either cooking spray, butter, or bacon grease.  Know that you will pack the cabbage rolls in the baking dish very tightly.  If you leave too much room in between each roll, they will fall apart.
  • Roll and add cabbage rolls to the baking dish.  See photos below.  Cup the cabbage leaf in the palm of your hand.  Add a small amount of the stuffing to the bottom center of the cabbage leaf.  Fold the bottom of the leaf over the stuffing.  Fold each side over one another.  Hold your thumb down on those pieces and roll the top of the leaf over. 

cabbage-rolling

  • Cover the cabbage rolls with strips of bacon.  If you like, use the inner cabbage leaves that are too small to roll to cover that.  This helps to prevent them from burning.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F for approx 30-45 minutes or until the bacon is done and the cabbage rolls are slightly browned.  If you had any extra stuffing mixture left over, serve it on the side for people who do not like cabbage.  Enjoy!

Blockbuster Kiosks—Rent 2 get 1 free

bbexp1-230x300 Rent Two, Get One FREE at any Blockbuster Kiosk through midnight tonight.  Use promo code HNY987.

Tip of the day

It is the end of the month, don’t forget to print your coupons!  Coupon sites often refresh coupons at the first of the month.  If there are some you want to be sure to snag, print them before it is too late. 

December 30, 2010

Kohl’s Extra 20% off

3-Day Shopping Pass. Offer good Thursday, December 30, through Saturday, January 1. Take an EXTRA 20% Off EVERYTHING in store only (all sale, regular and even clearance-priced merchandise).

Go here to print your Kohl’s 20% off shopping pass, valid Dec 30th-Jan 1. 

Burpee Seeds $5/$25

Now might be a good time to place a seed order if you were planning on doing so.  Burpee Seeds is offering $5 off of orders of $25 or more through January 1, 2011 with coupon code NY2011. 

Free Organic Truffles at Earth Fare

If you didn’t get your fill of sweets yet, Earth Fare is giving away more.  Now through 1/4, shop at Earth Fare and make a $5 purchase with this coupon for a FREE box of organic truffles.  We tried the caramel flavor last and like it the best.

Tip of the day—Don’t drive when you shouldn’t be

New Year’s Eve is upon us.  People will be staying up late, partying, and ringing in the New Year.  Streets and towns will be crowded.  Please, please, please don’t drive if you have been drinking (remember buzzed driving is drunk driving), have been using a medication that makes you drowsy, have been using drugs, or are too tired to be alert.  Don’t drive if the roads are icy or dangerous.  Basically, I’m just saying please don’t do it.  A loved one very close to me was killed by a drunk driver.  One moment of a bad decision by another person took her life and forever changed the lives of so many.  It isn’t worth it. 

Please be safe and have a very Happy New Year.  May your 2011 be very blessed!

December 29, 2010

Tip of the day—Search Social Buying Sites for Vacation Spots

We are planning a trip to Walt Disney World next year.  When asking about tips for deals and ways to save on Facebook, Coupon Mommie mentioned that she heard someone suggest to keep an eye on social buying sites (Groupon, for example) for Orlando.  Sometimes you can get great bargains on restaurants, stores, and maybe even hotels through these sites.  If in doubt about the quality of the store since you are buying from out of town, search the website for reviews.  What a great tip, Jennifer!!

December 28, 2010

Tip of the day—Sign up for specials on the roads you travel

A week or so ago, I mentioned the Bob Evans e-newsletter, which often contains great coupons and freebies for both their products and their restaurants.  While they don’t have a restaurant in our area, I still like to sign up because when we travel to see family and friends these coupons often come in handy.  Think about the parts of the country you travel in most.  Search the internet for restaurants and stores in those areas or on those routes and sign up for e-mails, newsletters or “Like” them on Facebook.  You never know what good deals you might be able to find when traveling!

December 27, 2010

Tip of the day

Once a month check your food stores. This not only helps to prevent spoilage and waste, but it also helps you to keep better tabs on what you have on stock to use for meals.

  • Check your freezer. Discard what is freezer burned or what might be beyond use. Give it a good wipe down and refresh the baking soda box.
  • Look in your fridge. Use any leftovers, the last of the olives, that last teaspoon of jelly, anything that might need eating to make way for fresh foods. Give everything a good wipe down and replace the baking soda box in there. Check the temperature and make sure it is at the proper level. Vacuum the coils so that it is running properly.
  • What do you have in dry storage? Onions starting to sprout? Chop them and put them in a bag in the freezer. This will help to streamline your prep work for supper on busy nights. Potatoes starting to sprout? Consider planting them this year as part of your garden. Garlic getting tough? Roast or dehydrate it so that you can use it before it goes bad.
  • What about your pantry? Organize. I like to put the cans so that I can see the labels, because I’m anal because I like to see what is available with a quick scan. Make a habit of putting the new cans and jars in the back so that you can use them in a first in first out method. Check any food that you have preserved at home for spoilage and discard what is unsafe to use.
  • Check your spices. If you can’t smell them, then they are probably too old to use. Most spices do best if stored for 1-2 years.
  • Plan a meal or two using the odds and ends that you found in your kitchen quest.

December 26, 2010

Chex Mix Moneymaker at Walgreens

Chex Mix

There is a hot new Walgreens Register Reward deal starting tomorrow, 12/27, for Chex Mix.  Not only can you stock up on snacks, but you’ll make a little money, too!

Buy 3 and get $1.50 RR
Buy 4 and get $2.50 RR
Buy 5 or more and get $3.50 RR

It is on sale this week for 99¢!

Buy 5 Chex Mix 8.75oz – 99¢ ea
Use 2 of the $1/2 GM 12/5
Use 1 of the Chex Mix printable here
Total is $2.45 and get $3.50 RR
= $1.05 Money Maker!

Thanks Mojo Savings!

Children’s Place Sale + 15% off

Plus save even more! 15% off your entire purchase. Enter web code C6C2010 at checkout or click here for your in store coupon. Thru 1/2 in store and online!Children’s Place is having their Monster Sale to clear out the holiday and winter merchandise.  On top of the great deals, you can score an extra 15% off your entire purchase through 1/2/10.  Use coupon code C6C2010 for the online discount ($5 flat shipping rate) or use this coupon for your in store purchases.

Kohl’s Extra 15% Online

Use code HOHOHO15 for an extra 15% off of Kohl’s online purchases.  They are having an after Christmas Blitz and Clearance Sale where select merchandise is 60-70% off.

JCPenney $10/$25 Coupon 12/26 & 12/27 ONLY

JCPenney reports that they will be having doorbuster savings until 1pm today with all of the Christmas merchandise also on sale.  Use this $10/$25 coupon for even better deals.

Bath & Body Works—Semi Annual Sale and $10/$40

Bath & Body Works

Now might be a good time to drop by a Bath & Body Works and stock up on some gifts for the year.  They are having their semi-annual sale, which will mean up to 75% off of merchandise.  There is also a new $10/$40 printable coupon you can use to make your deals even better.

It is time to print those photos—Walgreens Photo Deals

It's back! Just in time for the holidays! Pick your print price thru Saturday, January 1. 10c per 4x6 print when you order 75 or more. Enter coupon code HOLIDAY10* 11c per 4x6 print when you order 50 or more. Enter coupon code HOLIDAY11 at checkout** 12c per 4x6 print when you order 25 or more. Enter coupon code HOLIDAY12 at checkout***

The best price at Walgreens Photo is when you print 75 or more with coupon code HOLIDAY10 at 10cts each.  Use code HOLIDAY11 to print 50 at 11cts each and HOLIDAY12 to print 25 at 12cts each. 

Tip of the day

Preventative health measures are not just good for your wallet, they could save your life. Today perform your monthly self check breast exam and encourage those you love to do the same.

A Happy Thought

DSC_4939 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2: 13-14

December 25, 2010

Tip of the day—Have a Merry Christmas

DSC_4944 All of December up until this point, we have looked at ways to make your Christmas season even merrier.  I hope you have found some of the tips and ideas helpful.  Most of all, I hope that you really do have the merriest of Merry Christmases this year.  Make a decision to let it be happy and bright.  Whatever snags or snafus happen during the day, don’t sell your joy. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

December 24, 2010

A few last minute cookie recipes—Oatmeal Raisin, Mexican Wedding, Snickerdoodles, Ginger Snaps and Gingerbread Men

I haven’t been able to post anymore cookie recipes from the recent cookie swap with photos, but I’m including the links to them here.  Trust me, they were all delicious!

Click here for the link to the Oatmeal Cookies (I used the nuts, chocolate morsels, and raisins)

This is a yummy recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies (my hubby doesn’t like them, but these are my favorite!)

This is a recipe for Snickerdoodles (this is the basic recipe, but I found it a little yummier than a recipe I had tried before)

This was a great Ginger Snap recipe—crisp but still moist!

Below is a repost from last year.  These are some of my favorite cookies to make because they involve the whole family!

Whenever I think about gingerbread men, I think about Miss Dorothy.  As many of you know, my mother passed away when I was young.  We lived in a small farming community where everyone knew everyone else.  One Saturday in December, Miss Dorothy invited me over to make homemade gingerbread men.  She just asked me—normally my younger sister would have been invited as well, but she chose to invite only me.  I remember feeling very special that I was chosen to make them with her.  We spent a good part of the day making the dough, cutting them out, and decorating them just so.  Because she took the time to teach me, I will make gingerbread men for Christmas whenever I can.  I’ll never forget her or her gesture. 

So many times we think that we have to do a big production to show others we care when really all people need is our time. 

CIMG2779

Gingerbread Men:

3 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 large egg

2/3 cup (160 ml) unsulphured molasses (To prevent the molasses from sticking to the measuring cup, first spray the cup with a cooking spray.)

Confectioners Frosting:

2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons milk or light cream

Assorted food colors (if desired)

Sift the dry ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients to the wet.  Roll gingerbread onto a floured surface.  Cut gingerbread into desired shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for approx 10-15 minutes depending on size.  Leave the cookies in the sheet for 2 minutes prior to moving to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Tip of the day—See the world through your child’s eyes

Magical.  That is probably the best word to describe how our daughter sees Christmas.  There’s a baby who was born thousands of years ago to a Virgin who ended up saving us from our sins.  There is this big guy named Santa who brings toys to children all over the world.  There are reindeer that fly, snowmen that talk, and angels that sing to shepherds.  Could it get more magical and wonderful than all of that? 

Today, escape from your adult logic and believe.  Allow yourself to feel the wonder and majesty that is Christmas.  Re-read the story of the birth of Christ and talk about what it must have been like to live during that time in our history.  Make up a story with your child about what reindeer eat or what the elves do when Santa is away from the Pole.  Find ways to see Christmas through a child’s eyes and delight in the joy of it all!

December 23, 2010

Old Navy 30% Off One Item

It isn’t too late to use this coupon today, or stop by an Old Navy store tomorrow (12/23-24) with this printable coupon to save 30% in-store on one item (excluding Techno Hoodies). You can also play Barker’s Bones on Facebook to get a printable coupon to save $5 when you spend $50 12/24-30.  Thanks Coupon Cravings!

Tip of the day—Get rid of some of the clutter

I don’t know about you, but I find that my mood is really affected by clutter.  I know some people who can handle a lot of clutter, and looking at my desk as I type this, you would think that I am one of those people.  I’m not, though, and I find that I don’t think as clearly or feel as upbeat when there is a bunch of clutter around the house.  Since Christmas is sure to bring with it extra toys, wrapping paper to be recycled, tons of leftovers in the fridge, and extra dishes to do, today spend a little time de-cluttering. 

  • Take the paper recycling to the recycling station so that you will have empty receptacles for any wrapping paper that needs to be disposed.
  • Give the refrigerator a once over and empty anything that needs to go in the compost bin.
  • Walk through the house and put up anything that is out of place (or at least some of the things that are out of place) so that you have a fresh start for Christmas.

FREE Blockbuster Kiosk Rental 12/23 & 12/24

bbexp1-230x300 Use promo code THANKU at any Blockbuster Kiosk on 12/23-12/24 and you’ll receive a free DVD rental.  It might be nice to snuggle up to a good movie and roaring fire as you are waiting for Santa to arrive.  Just be sure to not peek at the gifts!

December 22, 2010

White Balloon Sale 12/22 & 12/23, Knoxville

I received the following from White Balloon today:

DO YOU HAVE LAST MINUTE NEEDS FOR YOUR

LITTLE SPECIAL SOMEONE?

2 DAYS ONLY

WED. 12/22

&

THUR. 12/23

20% OFF

ALL CLOTHING

EXCEPT BUGGAS AND KAIYA EVE

20% OFF

PETUNIA PICKLEBOTTOM

(SPECIAL ORDERS NOT INCLUDED)

Children’s Place 25% off Online and In Store

Shop Early & Save More! Wednesday, 12/22 25% Off your entore order. Thursday, 12/23, 20% Off your entire order. Friday, 12/24, 15% Off your entire order.

Today, 12/22 you’ll receive 25% off of your entire order at Children’s Place.  When shopping online use coupon code C7C2010.  When shopping in store, bring this coupon.  Tomorrow you’ll receive 20% off and Friday you’ll receive 15% off. 

Eddie Bauer, 30% off Entire Store Today Only

Find A Store Near You

Visit Eddie Bauer today, 12/22, and you’ll see prices reduced by 30% on regular, sale, and clearance priced merchandise at Eddie Bauer stores only.

FREE Truffles at Earth Fare 12/22-12/23

Last year they had these truffles free around Valentine’s Day, and I remember them being delicious.  As part of the 12 Days of Christmas at Earth Fare, you can use this coupon with a $5 purchase to receive a free box of truffles

Another $10/$20 at Sears! 12/22 only

Sears figured out that this coupon last week was a really, really good idea.  It brought people into Sears who hadn’t been there in a while and having more shoppers makes retailers happy.  Squeezing a Dollar Out of a Dime found that there has been a new coupon issued, and it is good today 12/22 only for $10/$20 at Sears on apparel and accessories.  It does not exclude sale or clearance priced items.

Last week I snagged some great buys with this coupon.  The store clerk let me use more than one in separate transactions without any problems.

More FREE Ice Cream at Earth Fare—56 oz container!

Earth Fare really wants us to enjoy some ice cream this Christmas!  Last week as part of their 12 Days of Christmas they had a coupon for free ice cream.  Today there is another.  This time the coupon is good from 12/22-12/28 and it is for 56 oz of free ice cream!  Just be sure to make a $5 purchase to use the coupon, but with holiday baking and cooking that shouldn’t be too hard. 

Tip of the day—Don’t sell your joy

On Sunday, our pastor talked about joy.  At one point, he said, “Don’t sell your joy.”  That idea hit home for me.  He talked about how quickly we are willing to sell our joy, giving an example of a person being angry and stewing over his wife accidentally going into a full service lane at the gas station.  She pumped her own gas and only after she paid did she realize that she was charged $7 more than she would have been had she gone into a different line.  Her husband became consumed with frustration, selling his joy for $7. 

Today, when you notice your joy slipping away, ask yourself if the price is worth it.  Are you selling your joy for something that in the grand scheme of things really doesn’t matter all that much?

December 21, 2010

Sneak Peek into a Freebie at Bob Evans

bowl of soup

Bob Evans sent out this info today.  Sounds like there is going to be a yummy freebie in January so you might want to sign up.  The East TN area doesn’t have a Bob Evans that I know of, but I always enjoy going to them when traveling to see family and friends in OH and WV. 

Want to warm up to your friends this holiday season? Be sure to let them know that a FREE cup of Bob Evans Signature Seasonal Soup will be heating up BEmail subscriber inboxes next month, so make sure they know to sign up soon (send them to www.bobevans.com/bemail)! And make sure to keep a look-out for your coupon, as well! It's good to be an Insider, isn't it?

Pilot Travel Centers FREE hot beverage, through 12/31

Since I know many of you will be traveling this holiday season, I thought I’d remind you about the FREE hot beverage at Pilot Travel Centers. Just “Like” them on Facebook and look under the coupons tab.

Walmart $5 Gift Card Rebate

Get a FREE Walmart gift card - while supplies last!You all know how much I love Walmart (cue tone of sarcasm).  Well, I had to find our daughter a white sweatshirt for her sheep costume in the church play.  I took the advice of one of my readers, Deb, and ventured to a Walmart that was not as heavily trafficked.  My experience was SOOOO much better there as compared to the Walmarts in town!  People actually asked me if they could help me.  They were smiling.  The store wasn’t completely packed, which is saying a lot near Christmas.  I didn’t have to wait long in line.  No one acted like I was obnoxious when I had my own cloth bag.  World of difference!  Thanks Deb for the tip!

There is a rebate I thought you might want to check out for a free $5 Walmart gift card.

Purchase three (3) participating products at Walmart and you can receive a FREE Walmart gift card worth $5.00*.

Click here to print the mail-in offer and official rules. Participating products include:

  • Neutrogena® Healthy Skin® Brightening Eye Perfector Get coupon
  • George Foreman® SkiLite™ Searing Skillet
  • George Foreman® Panini Press Open Grill
  • George Foreman® Smart Kitchen™ Multicooker
  • Fruit of the Loom Ladies' 6 Pack of socks Get coupon
  • Depend® Variety Pack
  • Poise® Thin Comfort
  • Kleenex® Hand Towels
  • VIVA® Big Roll
  • Jimmy Dean® Hearty Sausage Crumbles
  • Sally Hansen® Diamond Strength® Nail Color
  • Rimmel Lash Accelerator mascara Get coupon

*Limited time offer while supplies last.

Earth Fare—FREE Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate Bar

Hop into Earth Fare 12/21-12/22 purchase $5 or more, and use this coupon for FREE Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate!  If you’ve never tried this brand of chocolate before, you are definitely in for a treat!   I usually buy cases of it at Three Rivers Market to give out as gifts around the holidays and Valentine’s Day.  Everyone opens their gift and smiles big!

Independence Days and Anyway Project Updates, December 2010

I’m always a sucker for a good challenge, and we have been a part of Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge for well over a year now. While I don’t always post on her site (I don’t always remember to), I do like to look at what others are doing in these categories from around the world.  It serves as inspiration and gives me all sorts of ideas for our home and garden.  Below is the update from this week, though this time of the year there isn’t too much to report.

Winter Solstice is here, though the weather has felt like winter for a few weeks now.  We had some icy weather last week and then things have warmed up a little bit.  We’ve been at highs in the 30s and 40s most days. 

Today the weather was drizzling rain, cloudy and grey.  As I look out our office window, I see the dying black walnut tree towering over the other trees and bushes in the “Lower 40”.  I am so going to miss that tree and how it is so perfectly framed in this window as I write.  The structure and consistency it offered in our landscape has made it among one of my favorites of our plants.  Yet now it looks almost eerie with its gnarled fingers reaching out as if to hold on to other trees in a vain attempt at hanging onto its life.  Many of its arms are broken and jagged—its demise to the Thousand Cankers Disease is such an unjust end.   This time next year I’m sure we will have cut it down.  The void left will be more than just an empty place in the yard.

Christmas is almost here.  I’ve had a very busy last few weeks, and I’m hoping that while there will still be some hustle and bustle, we are settling in for a week or so of cozy days, relaxing nights, and time spent with those we love. 

Plant— Nothing planted this week

Harvest—Rosemary and green onions

Preserve—A few chopped onions made their way into the freezer.

Waste Not/Reduce Waste— I’ve been doing a little worse in this category because I’ve been driving around town more this week.  I have been checking in at the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in our area to drop off gifts for our clients.  While I’ve done my best to not idle my car and make my route as short as possible, I’m sure that I’ve used much more gas than I would otherwise.  Am I sorry, no.  The joy that it has brought to people to get a little gift is well worth the time and consumption.  I’ll make an effort to off-set that gas usage by spending a few more days at home in the next few weeks. 

Want Not/Prep/Storage—I did a little overhaul of the house right before a few parties, but other than that, nothing new in this area.

Building Community Food Systems— I continue to work in our church’s food pantry.

Eat the Food— I tried 3 new cookie recipes, which I hope to post for you all in the next few days.  All were quite good, but there wasn’t anything healthy about any of them.  Hey, they are cookies! 

For the Anyway Project categories, you can check my post here.  Another one of Sharon’s challenges focuses on making your home and lifestyle more sustaining.  Below is an update on our goals in each of the categories:

Domestic Infrastructure: GOAL--Clean out the laundry room and the freezers.  Both goals were accomplished.  I found quite a few linens I had forgotten about storing in the laundry room, and since many were Christmas themed, it was perfect timing.  I found a couple of Italian sausage packages we had bought from a local farmer a few months ago in the back of the freezer.  What a pleasant surprise!

Household economy: GOAL—reduce restaurant and entertainment spending.  Begin getting tax stuff together.  UGH!  We didn’t do so hot in either of these categories.  It is so darn easy to head to a restaurant when I’m tired or when I forget to pack a lunch.  It has gotten out of control, and I know that it will be up to me to fix it.  I’ll continue with this goal in January.

Resource Consumption: Goal--compost everything I can, keep our heat off until December 1.  We did keep our heat off until Dec 1, and only then have we turned it up to 63-65 degrees when we are home and 55 when we are away.  I had a few friends over for a cookie swap and was afraid they’d be too cold so for a couple of hours I turned it up to 69.  I have also done really well with composting, even when it was snowy and icy! 

Cottage Industry and Subsistence: GOAL—monetize the blog and reduce outside spending with gift baskets of home canned foods.  I talked to my Hubby about the monetizing of the blog.  I think I’ve been so resistant to the idea because I don’t want the blog to feel like work.  It is one of my favorite hobbies at this point, and at least for the time being, I’ve decided to keep it that way. 

All of my work friends, many friends, and most family members received home canned items as most or all of their Christmas gift.  In some of the gift baskets I included some organic sparkling juice, some of the chocolates I had scored for pretty cheap at Walgreens, and a small wrapped gift for each of them (jewelry, gift cards to local stores, games, etc).  For others we had decided to keep the gift giving at a minimum, and they received a little assortment of some of my pickled foods, cranberry mustard, and jams. 

Family and Community: GOAL--to have one playdate for our daughter and one dinner party at our home before the end of the year. Goal accomplished!  Our daughter had a slumber party with a friend from church.  We had a cookie swap that was on a day where the roads were icy, but one friend and her family managed to make it up our hill.  They stayed the afternoon and enjoyed lunch, cookies, and plenty of playtime.  At the Winter Solstice dinner party we had 10 adults and 6 children, which is close to the max that our medium to small sized house can handle.  Everyone helped with the food, and the meal was scrumptious.  At the last minute I decided to make a smoked trout dip that was so good that I ate the leftovers of it the next two days for BREAKFAST.  ;0)  It is a friend’s secret recipe, so I’m afraid I can’t pass it along. 

Outside Work: GOAL—continue to work at balancing the time that I spend working from home, return to a regular exercise schedule that allows me some de-stressing time in between work, start tracking the amount of time I spend on the computer so that I can work on making my time there more efficient.  I was regularly exercising up until this week.  I haven’t carved out as much time to do it this week, but now that I’m reminded of the goal, I’ll get back to it.  Finding balance between work at home and reducing computer time is difficult.  I noticed that last week I wasn’t on the computer much at all (hence the reduction in my amount of posts).  Finding balance will always be a goal on which to work.

Time and Happiness: GOAL--make an effort to regularly schedule in time for me exercising, running errands, spending time with friends, etc. Have at least one date night between now and the end of the year.  I’ve done a little better with my schedule.  Again, though, finding balance in all of it around the holidays is hard.   Hubby and I still haven’t made our date night happen, but we received some free movie tickets through my work and might use those sometime soon.

Not sure what my goals for January will be yet.  I’ll ponder and post those closer to January. 

FREE Stride Gum

Stride Gum

Send an Oomph Intervention on the Stride Facebook site (make sure you “like” them), and you will receive a free pack of their new Stride Spark.  Thanks Hip2Save!

Ruffles 99cts off a 99cts bag!

Ruffles “Like” Ruffles on Facebook, and they’ll send you a coupon for 99cts off of a 99ct bag of Ruffles potato chips!  The site is running a little slow this morning so be patient.  Thanks Hip2Save!

Tip of the day—Reach out

The holidays can be a magical, wonderful time.  They can also be very lonely times for people with recent losses or who don’t have family around them.  Today make a point to reach out to people who might fit one of those two categories. 

  • The first Christmas without a friend or family member can be a hard one.  Send a card or make a call to let the person know you are thinking of him or her.
  • Bring a box of chocolates by or a carafe of coffee and enjoy it with an elderly neighbor who doesn’t have family in the area.
  • Bring a dozen donuts to the intensive care unit waiting room so that the families and friends there have a little comfort food during a difficult time.
  • Make a trip to your local nursing home or homeless shelter to spread some Christmas cheer. 
  • Invite a friend to lunch who has had a loss of a loved one this year.  Be open and ready to listen if she wants to talk. 
  • Most people have one—that relative that is a bit of a grump or grouch, who tends to isolate him/herself from the family, who has a wall around his/her heart—reach out to that person.  You may not feel all that much love in your heart, but if you enter the situation by knowing that you are going to show God’s love, that is all you’ll need.  He’ll do the rest of the work. 

If you have recently lost a loved one, you might find that the act of reaching out to others is also helpful for you.  Last year after my grandmother passed, I found myself reminiscing with family and friends about her.  I found myself cooking more of her recipes as a way to have her present in our Christmas meal.  When I visit people in hospice, hospitals, or nursing homes, I often think of her and how my work also honors her legacy.  Find ways to honor the person you have lost this holiday season in what you cook, how you act, and what you give.

Merry Christmas!  Thank you to all of you who are being very patient with me as my posts are not as regular as they usually are.  This Christmas season has been a wonderful one and a busy one.  I’m hoping that I’ll have a little more time soon to post more deals, matchups and sales. 

December 20, 2010

Want to bring me a little holiday cheer?

Yep, I’m asking for a present.  If you haven’t yet signed up to be a follower or to “Like” me on Facebook, will you please?  I love seeing your names on my follower list and on Facebook.  It brightens my day each time I get online!

Thanks in advance!

FREE sample Skoopz natural sweetener

Get a Free Sample of Skoopz Sweetener

Go here for your FREE Sample of Skoopz natural sweetener.

Here are the details:

To get your free sample of Skoopz® Natural Sweetener, click on the black "Free Trial" black botton on the right hand side of their Web site (it is in the middle of the page, not the top). They will send you a confirmtion email once your request is received.

FREE Sample Ester-C Gummies

Get a Free Sample of Ester C Gummies

Go here for your FREE sample of Ester-C Gummies.  Here are the details:

This sample is being offered again! To request your free sample, like them on Facebook. Then, under the promotions tab, click on the "Click Here" button and fill out a short form. You may have to allow an application from Ester-C to request this sample.

Chili’s FREE Queso and Chips on 12/21/10

Free Chips & Queso w/purchase of adult entree

Bring this coupon with you to Chili’s on 12/21/10 when purchasing any adult entree, and you’ll receive a FREE order of chips and queso.

Bath & Body Works FREE Lip Item with any purchase

Free Lip Item With Any Purchase

Go here to print your coupon for a FREE lip item with any purchase at Bath & Body Works now through 12/24.  You can use coupon code ANYLIP when buying online.

Origins, Buy a Gift, Get a Gift FREE

Buy a gift. Get a gift FREE.

If you are planning on making an Origins purchase soon, now might be a good time to do it.  Through 12/22, you can receive your choice of Ginger Soufflé or Smoothing Salt Soufflé with a $35 purchase.  If you spend $55, you receive them both for free!  You’ll receive FREE Second Day shopping with a purchase of $30 when you shop online.  Go here for the coupon codes.

FREE QuestBar Sample

Free sample of Quest Bars

Sign up for your free sample of 2 QuestBars.  This doesn’t appear to be a new link, but if you haven’t yet signed up, I thought you might want a reminder.

FREE Pimento Cheese at Earth Fare

Make any purchase 12/20-12/21 of $5 or more at Earth Fare with this coupon and you’ll receive your first 1/2 lb of pimento cheese free

Three Rivers Market Weekly Deals, Dec 19-Jan 2

Produce specials: Dec.19 - Jan. 2

Organic Satsumas, $1.99 lb. (reg. $2.49, save 50¢) So sweet is the Satsuma, it is known as 'honey citrus' in certain locales.  This is the fruit associated with winter - love it.

Local Butternut Squash, $1.39 lb. (reg. $1.69/lb, save 30¢) Straight from Jeff Poppin, the Barefoot Farmer and biodynamic pioneer.  Forget about how weirdly beautiful they are, this is a rockin' vegetable that responds well to blanching, roasting, and just about anything you can think of.

Organic Collards, $1.79 ea. (reg. $2.29, save 50¢)  Genetically similar to kale, collards have a distinct southern association.  (We may have Granny Clampett to thank for that.)  In any case, they're extremely tasty, easy to cook and packed with nutrients.

Three Rivers Market is one of the Co-op Advantage stores.  For matchups on their bi-monthly sales ad, check Money Saving Maine-iac’s post here.

Meal Planning, Week of Christmas!

The meal plan below is for Hubby, me, and our daughter with an occasional guest or family member joining us.  For Christmas, we’ll be having a few relatives over for a late lunch.  Since we tend to eat the same meal for lunch and supper, I’m including that information below.

NOTE—I often make enough food to freeze or have for another meal.  Because of this, leftovers are counted as $0 on the menu.  If we go to a restaurant, it counts in a different part of our family budget.

Monday

We have so much food leftover from our Winter Solstice gathering on Saturday night!  We’ll be eating leftovers for both lunch and supper!

Ways I saved on this meal—Whenever I host a dinner party, I always try to make plenty of food.  I never want guests to leave hungry or wanting more.  The added bonus of doing this is that I cook once and eat twice, thrice…  (yes, I did just use the word thrice in a sentence!)

Approximate cost: $0

~~~~~

Tuesday

Eggs and rice 50cts

Fruit salad $1-$2

Ways I saved on this meal—The rice was leftover from a previous meal.  The eggs were bought on sale with a coupon.  The veggies that go into the eggs and rice are ones we froze from this year’s garden, making them free.  The fruit salad will be an assortment of berries from the freezer that we picked in the wild, from our bushes, and from pick-your-own farms. 

Approximate cost: $1.50-$2.50

~~~~~

Wednesday

Pork link Italian Sausage (from a local farmer) $7

Spinach sautéed with parmesan cheese (leftovers)

Any leftover fruit salad

Ways I saved on this meal—I found the pork link sausage when cleaning out the freezer this weekend, and it was such a nice surprise!  I bought way to much spinach for a salad that I made for the Winter Solstice party, and in order to use it up before it goes bad, I’ll cook it. 

Approximate cost: $7

~~~~~

Thursday

Tuna Fish and crackers $2

Cup of vegetable soup from the freezer (leftover)

Ways I saved on this meal—The tuna fish was bought on sale.  The crackers are Kroger brand, which were cheaper than the other brands with the coupons I had.

Approximate cost: $2

~~~~~

Friday

Lamb roast (from a local farmer) $6

Potatoes 50cts

Carrots 50cts

Irish Soda Bread $1

I’m sure there will be some cookie tasting, too!

Ways I saved on this meal— Instead of buying the lamb in individual portions, we split a lamb with a friend.  We have half a lamb at a fraction of the grocery store pricing.  We are also supporting a local farmer and friend by buying it this way.  The potatoes and carrots were some I bought on sale.  Unfortunately, we don’t have anymore potatoes from our home garden.  The bread is super easy to make and very inexpensive.  Most of my leavening agents (soda, baking powder, yeast) is bought in bulk, and our wheat is bought in bulk and we mill it at home.  Buying in bulk greatly reduces the cost, and if you split the purchase with a friend, you don’t have to worry about storing so much in your home. 

Approximate cost: $8

~~~~~

Saturday

Christmas Day!

Spiral Sliced Ham $8

Turkey $12

Sausage Dressing $2.50

Gravy (just the cost of a little flour or corn starch)

Corn $0

Green Bean Casserole $1.50

Sweet Potato Casserole $4

Peas $0

Relish Tray—bread and butter pickles, pickled green tomatoes, pickled beets, dill pickles, kumquats, and olives $1

Cranberry Sauce $1

Homemade bread with butter $1

Deviled eggs 50cts

Gingerbread Men $1

Sautéed pears with ice cream $0

Paw Paw’s Banana Pudding (sugar free) $4

If I get industrious, I also plan to make a homemade red velvet cake or a couple of chess pies.

Ways I saved on this meal—I plan to use a $25 prescription transfer credit to help pay for this meal.  I filled a prescription last week and plan to use the $25 when I go shopping this week.  I’ll pick up the ham and turkey and just a couple of more ingredients this week.  The rest was bought ahead of time as I caught good sales.  For savings on the turkey and ham, I have coupons and plan to buy the smallest I can.  I bought the sausage last week with the deal on free eggs with a purchase of 2 Jimmy Dean products.  The gravy consists of the pan drippings and a bit of thickener.  I have some homemade broth that I can use with the gravy.  The corn was some that I froze this year that was free after an Earth Fare coupon.  The French fried onions for the green bean casserole were marked down at Walgreens, and I used a Friends & Family discount AND a coupon on them.  The cream of mushroom soup for that casserole was free after coupon and sale.  The green beans were the only expense and they were bought on sale.  The sweet potato casserole will be made with potatoes bought on sale, pecans bought as part of a fundraiser, butter that was on sale, vanilla extract that was a gift, and sugars and eggs bought on sale with coupons.  The peas were free from Birds Eye after sale and coupon.  The relishes were all homemade except for the olives which were bought on sale at Walgreens.  The cranberry sauce was bought on sale with a coupon.  Homemade bread is super cheap.  We’ll most likely use some of our wheat that we mill at home for the flour, reducing the cost even more.  The eggs for the deviled eggs were only 48 cts after a coupon and sale at Kroger last week.  Homemade cookies are also very inexpensive and fun to make.  The pears were given to me by a friend this summer, and I canned them.  The natural ice cream was free at Earth Fare last week with a coupon.  The banana pudding was relatively expensive because of the special, sugar free ingredients, but I watched for sale, used coupons, and bought marked down bananas. 

Approximate cost: $36.50-$25 credit=$11.50

~~~~~

Sunday

Did you see the meal plan for yesterday?????  Of course we’ll be eating leftovers today and probably tomorrow, too!  My uncle said he’d like to have us over sometime today, and we have free tickets to a hockey game for the evening. 

Ways I saved on this meal—Leftovers are great for keeping it low-key after a big holiday.   

Approximate cost: $0

Tip of the day—Journaling

Whenever I speak with people about journaling, I tend to get two different responses—sighs and groans.  It is as if journaling has become almost like going to the dentist or getting a colonoscopy.  It is this thing that we do not because we want to but because we feel we must.  Being reminded of it is about equal to the dentist telling you to floss more often.  We have some vague sense of obligation to do so, yet the actual act of doing it isn’t pleasant.  Below are some tips and ideas for making journaling more meaningful:

  • Set aside your preconceived ideas about journaling.  Journaling does not have to be done every day or even every week or month to be helpful.  I only write a general journal entry when I need to work through something.  Writing it down and then referring to it the next day with new eyes helps me to weed out the real issues.
  • Make it individual to you.  Some people tell me they don’t like to write, so don’t.   Put your feelings into a work of art or music.  While poetry is writing, sometimes it is easier for people to write poetry about a subject than a traditional journal entry.  Use a tape recorder (or whatever the current technology is for recording your own voice—am I dating myself?). 
  • Write a letter.  Sometimes when I’m struggling with an issue that relates to a friend or relative, living or deceased, I’ll write a letter.  By the time I finish the letter, I usually have a sense of resolution to the problem.  Sometimes I keep the letter a day or two but most often I shred it after writing it.  I can’t think of a time I’ve actually sent the letter.  The process is more about self work than relationship work.  Yet it does help with your relationships because you are better able to communicate when you know better what was really bothering you about the situation. 
  • Find other forms of journals.  I keep a garden journal, which I so enjoy.  I love reading back through years of entries to what worked and what didn’t in my garden.  A scrapbook can be a form of a journal.  I keep a Motherhood Journal.  It is a pre-made journal that prompts you with questions about your life and past.  It is a way of leaving our daughter, any future children, and any future grandchildren a story of my life.  I have a good friend who keeps a journal and pen by her bed to keep a record of her dreams.  Keeping a gratitude journal is a good way to focus on the positives of your day.  Even having a blog is a form of journaling!

December 19, 2010

Tip of the day—Let it go

I now officially won’t get some of the presents to relatives in time because I didn’t make it to the post office last week.  A good chunk of my Christmas cards are still sitting at my desk waiting for me to write in them, address them, and send them to their destination.  Last night’s Winter Solstice Party had some snags, and I wasn’t the best hostess that I could have been.  We didn’t wake up in time to make it to Sunday School or our daughter’s last practice before the Christmas play.  I could really go on and on.

Is it ever that way with you?  It is so easy to focus on the things that we don’t do “right”, “well”, or “perfectly” and that is where we dwell.  Repeatedly thinking about the same situation over and over again is called ruminating.  I describe ruminating to my clients like rocking in a rocking chair—you are doing a lot of work but you are going no where.  It is neither helpful or healthy. 

Letting go of those negative thoughts and disappointments is harder than you might think, though.  You can’t just tell someone to “Let it go” and for them to do so.  Letting go is an active process.  In cognitive behavioral therapy, it is called “thought stopping”.  Here are some ideas and tips to help:

  • Like the cartoon Tom and Jerry, sometimes our thought process is like having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.  When the negative thoughts come up, try and focus on the positive, what the angel would tell you about the situation. 
  • Get a distraction.  Often focusing on the negative is most easy to do when we have down time.  This is why many people stay up worrying at night.  Some people find music or ambient noise helpful.  During the day, turn to one of your hobbies or favorite activities for a distraction. 
  • Tell yourself “STOP IT!”.  By giving yourself a little pep talk and telling yourself that it isn’t helpful to dwell on the negative, you are more likely to turn your focus elsewhere.
  • Ask yourself some questions.  These are my favorites:  “What would my future self tell me about this situation?”  (Most always the answer is that it isn’t really that big of a deal).  “What will it matter in a month, year?”  “What can I learn from this experience?”  “What was good about [fill in the blank]?”  “What did I do well?”  “What would my best friend tell me about this situation?”  “What would my Higher Power tell me about this situation?”
  • Journal.  We’ll talk more about this tomorrow. ;)

A Happy Thought

DSC_4533

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

December 18, 2010

Earth Fare—2 Free Handmade Pork Sausages

12/18 and 12/19, you can score 2 free handmade pork sausages with this coupon and a $5 purchase at Earth Fare.  Yummy!

Eddie Bauer 30% off in store, 12/18 only

Find A Store Near You

Today you can head into Eddie Bauer and enjoy 30% off of your in-store purchases. 

Offer valid on your purchase of regular, sale, and clearance priced merchandise at Eddie Bauer stores only. Offer valid December 18, 2010. Eddie Bauer Outlet store, catalog, and eddiebauer.com purchases not included in this offer. Does not include and cannot be applied to previous or pending purchases, credit card balance, taxes, shipping/handling or monogramming charges, gift cards or gift boxes. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer.

FREE Natural Ice Cream at Earth Fare

Today you can add a carton of free ice cream to your shopping list at Earth Fare.  Coupon valid through 12/18.  There should be a new coupon added later today on the Earth Fare website if you want to check there before you go out to run your errands. 

Tip of the day—Give yourself a little pampering

Today make a point to give yourself a little pampering.  YOU DESERVE IT!  Here are some inexpensive or free ideas:

  • Take a long soak in a hot tub with some of your favorite bath salts or oils.  I like to use Epsom salts and a bit of orange oil (peppermint oil if I have some aching muscles and eucalyptus if I have a stuffy nose). 
  • Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.  Take the time to use good lotion and rub your feet and legs/hands and arms like they would at a salon.
  • Fix yourself a perfect cup of tea and cozy up with a good book.  A roaring fire or a candle with a scent you like is another nice addition to set the scene.
  • Give yourself a mud mask.  If you don’t have any on hand, do a quick internet search for homemade mud masks.  You can also give yourself a hot oil treatment for your hair (I’ve used mayonnaise to do this, but I don’t recommend it! It is VERY smelly!)
  • Soak your feet in a foot bath.  Flip through a magazine you’ve been wanting to read or turn on a movie you have been wanting to see and relax. 
  • Have dessert first!  My grandmother talked about going out with some girlfriends to O’Charley’s years ago.  They were all well into their 70s at that point, and the other ladies ordered salads with dressing on the side.  They had gone on and on about their diets and figures and were making such a fuss about depriving themselves.  My grandmother astonished the whole bunch by ordering a piece caramel pie for her lunch and enjoying every bite as they salivated and pined for her choice.  Life is too short.  Every once in a while, splurge!
  • Eat on the good china.  I inherited china from my mother.  I remember that during my childhood that china sat in the cabinet and only left its glass cage when guests were over or we were celebrating a holiday.  She had such beautiful things but, at least it seemed to me, she never took the time to enjoy them for herself, for the sheer delight and beauty of it.  She passed away much too early, and since that time I’m reminded in the importance of enjoying life to its fullest.  Pull out the good china for you and your family. 
  • Make yourself a beautiful lunch.  I have a dear friend who brings her lunch to work almost every day.  Instead of throwing together a PBJ or eating a couple of snacks here and there in her car (like I do!), she makes an absolutely gourmet, gorgeous sandwich for herself.  She has special lunchware that she packs her food in.  She buys special seeds to sprout for her sandwiches and takes care to pick the perfect flavor combinations.  Her meals are never expensive, and they are much more filling and sustaining than the on-the-go stuff that most of us throw down our gullet in a rush.  
  • Going along with the two previous suggestions, if you work outside of the home, pack a pretty cup to drink your coffee or tea from while at work.  Not only will it reduce some of the waste caused by using disposables, but it will also feel a lot more special and nurturing.

December 17, 2010

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Senior Adults

Carex Easy EZ Reacher Grabber Reaching Tool DeviceBecause I work with the geriatric population, many of my friends ask me what to give their relatives and friends who are in that age group.  Many find it most difficult to buy for older adults in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  I must admit that I struggle with it from time to time myself, but these are some ideas and tips that I’ve found helpful.  If you have a gift idea for a senior adult and would like to share it with other readers, be sure to leave a note in the comments section. 

I think that one of the reason that I’ve always gotten along with this age group is that I’m a terrible judge of age.  I have always had a very hard time guessing people’s ages, and most of the time when I’m talking to people I think to myself that I’m the same age as them.   I was talking to someone at my dentist’s office today and said, “People our age”.  When I really looked at her, I realized she was probably a good 10-15 years older than I am.  Because I work with older adults, “old” doesn’t seem so old to me.  I have a good friend at church who is 91, and he is as spry and chipper as people more than half his age.  Age is what you make of it. 

When I mention some of the tips and ideas below, please don’t think that I’m meaning to stereotype or fit anyone into a lump group.  Some of the basic issues that affect older adults—change in range of motion and mobility, changes in eyesight and hearing, increased isolation, increased dependence on others for care and aid—are mentioned below in gift ideas.  This doesn’t mean, however, that all older adults will indeed face these issues, and if they do will face them to the same extent as a counterpart of the same age.  As with any gift, factor in what your loved one likes and enjoys.  Make your gifts as individual to the receiver as possible.

Keep in mind space issues.  Nursing home residents have very limited space in which to store their belongings.  For that reason, pick things that are smaller or usable.  While assisted living residents have a little more space than they do in nursing homes, storage is still an issue.  Imagine storing all of your belongings in one room or one half of a room.

Ask about rules and regulations.  Some nursing homes do not allow certain items in residents’ rooms.  For instance, some places won’t allow residents to keep their hand sanitizer in their room (because it is alcohol based).  Some places won’t let residents hang pictures on the walls; others do.  Ask about what they do and don’t allow so that your gift doesn’t end up being put away.

Label it.  If your loved one lives in a nursing home or assisted living, it is a good idea to clearly label anything that is his or hers. 

If giving clothes, remember easy on, easy off.  If you’ve ever seen a loved one’s hands who has advanced arthritis, you can imagine how difficult buttons or small zippers can be.  If range of motion is an issue, it might be difficult to lift arms above the head to pull clothes on.  Elastic waist bands, soft sweatshirts with large zipper pulls, stretchy materials, something with pockets—those are all good rules of thumb.  Nightgowns and pjs are also good choices.   Just make sure that the gown isn’t so long as to drag on the floor when walking.

Make it useful.  Practical gifts aren’t always the most fun to give, but they can be the most appreciated.  Here are some ideas:

  • A grabber—This is a handy tool for just about any age group.  Give one to our daughter and all of the sudden picking up her toys is a game.  My grandmother stored one in her bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one near what we called her “nest”, the place she sat at most often.  If your loved one has one already, another one might still be helpful.  These usually go on sale at Walgreens for between $10-$20.
  • Give them something to keep warm in the winter.  Slipper socks, a quilt or throw blanket for the bed, a shawl, a sweater—anything that is durable enough to be washed often.  Make sure any slippers or shoes that you give have good traction to help avoid falls. 
  • Most women who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities very much enjoy the weekly trip to the beauty parlor.  Medicaid and private insurance won’t pay for this.  Call the social worker or office manager to ask about setting up a payment for a weekly service for your loved one.  (ALWAYS leave a paper trail by paying with a check and requesting a receipt so that you know that the services were actually performed and the money went to good use.  It is sad, but some people aren’t always trustworthy.)  Until you’ve seen the difference that this makes in a person’s mood, outlook, pain level, and amount of hope, you’ll never fully appreciate what a great gift this is. 
  • Pedicures.  Bend down and reach your toes.  Now look at them very closely.  Now imagine how you would trim your toenails if you could neither see them very well or reach them very well.  Foot care is especially important for those with diabetes because of poor circulation and wounds being slow to heal.  Pay for your friend or relative to go to a good salon or beauty parlor to have a pedicure.  Since transportation is sometimes an issue, offer to make a day of it by bringing him or her to the pedicure and then having lunch afterwards.  If they have diabetes, you might call around to find a podiatrist in the area that gives pedicures.  Don’t let the word podiatrist fool you into thinking that the price will be unreasonable.  Many offer this as a regular service, and it is sometimes even covered by insurance. 
  • Food gifts.  If your loved one has a kitchenette or kitchen space, you might pick some goodies that are individually wrapped, won’t spoil easily, and don’t require much preparation.  Be mindful of any diet restrictions when choosing.  Some things to think about are choking hazards (ask if they are on a soft diet), dentures (some foods are harder to chew and enjoy with full dentures), diabetes (watch for the level of carbohydrates, not just sugar), sodium levels (foods that you might not think have high sodium, like soft drinks), and medications (some foods interact with medication absorption).   If your loved one has been in a nursing home for any amount of time, he or she probably very much misses home cooking.  Ask the dietician about bringing in a plate of hot food when you visit. 
  • Photos and plants.  If there is a windowsill available, a framed family photo or an easy to care for houseplant can be a nice gesture.
  • Large print books, word find puzzles, or crossword puzzles are nice for people on your list who enjoy staying busy.  A magazine subscription might also be a nice choice if you know of one that the person likes.

Do something nice for the staff.  One of my first recommendations to friends who are pregnant or going to the hospital for surgery is to bring some sort of treat to the nurses station and write in big letters, “Thank you for all you do! From [the person’s first and last name and room number]”  By doing this you have made yourself or your loved one not just a room number.  All of the sudden she is “the person who brought us donuts”.  We bought some pizza for the nurses when I had surgery, and you would not believe how many of the staff came in to thank us and check on how I was doing. 

The same tip is good for nursing homes.  By doing something nice for the people who care for your loved one, you are also doing something for your loved one.   I’m not saying it is right, but I’ve seen it too many times.  I’ve worked in healthcare too long, and I’m not going to get on my soapbox about how everyone should receive the highest quality of care possible.   The fact of the matter is most people give better care to people they like.  People like feeling appreciated. 

Last but certainly not least—the gift of time.  Many older adults would much prefer having regular visits or calls than some gift you picked up or had shipped to them.  I can’t tell you how many people I see each day who have no one but me and an occasional church group seeing them regularly.  When my grandmother was living, even though she lived in her own home with family, she didn’t get outside of her home very often.  It meant so much to her when we would call her, go to see her, and take her great grandchildren to see her.   Most people remember to pay their loved one visits during the holidays but who makes a point to visit someone on January 11th (I just pulled that date right out of my ear)?  I know it isn’t  practical for everyone to visit all of the time, but do what you can for the people you love while you still can.

May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

Tip of the day—Do something kind today

Today do something kind and unexpected for a stranger without the expectation of being thanked or receiving something in return.  For some ideas of Random Acts of Kindness, click the link.

I hope you are having a blessed holiday season.  The tips of the day from Dec 1st through Christmas are focusing on ways to have a merrier Merry Christmas.  I hope you are doing just that and that this year will be your best ever!

December 16, 2010

Earth Fare—Two FREE Pomegranates with purchase

Earth Fare’s 12 Days of Christmas continues with 2 free pomegranates with a $5 purchase 12/16-12/17.

Tip of the day—Buy a gift for yourself this year

Buy yourself a gift this year for Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It doesn’t have to be something big.  Just do it—treat yourself.  Consider it your way of helping lessen the load for Santa Claus and his reindeer. 

Super savers and couponers can sometimes restrict their purchases so much that they forget the joy of an occasional treat.  Use some of the money you’ve saved through couponing and budgeting, and buy a little gift for yourself this year as an act of self love.  I’m not suggesting you spend thousands of dollars or even hundreds of dollars, and I’m not suggesting you go further into debt to do this.  Make a run to the dollar store with a $5 bill and see what goodies you can pick up.   Use some of your hard earned register rewards or ECBs and pick up something just for you at Walgreens or CVS.  Use one of the great online deals with free shipping (there are new ones every day coming through my inbox!) to indulge in something you’ve been wanting for a while.  Then wrap it (yes, I said wrap it!) and put it under the tree.  You can even feign surprise on Christmas morning when you open it if you like!

Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!

December 15, 2010

Sears $10/$20, Old Navy $1 Fleece, and a donation idea

Knox Area Rescue Ministries

Have you heard about the new Sears $10/$20 coupon? It is valid through tomorrow, 12/16, and will make for some awesome deals!  I went today and picked up a few things (can’t say what they are in case someone who is receiving them is reading).  This coupon is valid for clearance and sale priced apparel.  While there were many sales in the store I visited, I didn’t see as many clearance priced items as I had hoped for.  Even still, I left pleased with my purchases.

I am writing this a little after 11pm, and I just now made it to the computer to work.  I picked up this letter from Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry and thought that if you were planning on visiting Sears to use this coupon, you might pick up a few gloves, hats or scarves for a donation.  To work the deal in the best way possible, you might want to have separate orders (the cashier didn’t bat an eye when I asked about doing this) and use the gloves or smaller items as fillers to make it as close to $20 as you can. 

Also, Old Navy is having a sale on their performance fleece this weekend, 12/18 only, where scarves are only $1!  If you are stopping by to pick up some for you, why not buy an extra few to donate?

Dear Friends,

Few of us can imagine what it's like to spend Christmas Eve at a homeless shelter.  In Knoxville over 400 people will do just that this year.

But it's not too late to spread the love of Christ in a tangible way this Christmas!

Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) would like to provide each of their anticipated Christmas Eve overnight guests (400+ men and women) with warm hats and gloves as a very practical Christmas gift. We call this annual effort "Goodwill to Men."

We are praying for partners in ministry to purchase and drop off 400 sets of UNWRAPPED men's and women's hats and gloves at the front desk of KARM, 418 N. Broadway, before December 21st.

For more information, call (865)673-6540, or email info@karm.org.

If you are outside of the Knoxville area, I encourage you to pick up a few gloves, hats, or scarves for a homeless shelter in your area. 

Earth Fare FREE 5 Pack of Cookies

Earth Fare continues to roll out the freebies.  Visit 12/15-12/16, make a $5 purchase and use this coupon for a FREE 5 pack of cookies at your local Earth Fare

Earth Fare—FREE Egg Nog

Today’s freebie from Earth Fare is FREE Egg Nog with a $5 purchase (12/14-12/15).

Tip of the day—Find the beauty in ordinary things

As my dad was recovering from heart surgery years ago, I remember him looking at a plastic bag.  In his younger years, he painted with oils—everything from deep dark tones and thick brush strokes to light and funny paintings for me when I was a child.  He has an artistic eye, and he looked across the room at that plastic bag and started talking about how the light was reflecting off of its many folds and sides.  He said that had he had a brush, canvas and paints and felt better, he would have painted it.  He had an entire conversation with me about how beautiful something so simple really was when you looked at it the right way.  Now, I’m sure a heavy dose of pain medication had a lot to do with the extent of the conversation, but I also think that he was seeing beauty in something so ordinary because he was so grateful to be alive.  An experience like that makes you see the world differently.

Today, open yourself up to opportunities to find the beauty in the ordinary.  Appreciate the beauty in usefulness of tools, utensils, and vessels you own.  Watch for the beauty in the natural world both large scale and small.  Become aware of the parts of your home that are worn with use and love.  You just might find that when you appreciate the ordinary, it won’t seem so ordinary after all. 

December 14, 2010

FREE Ice Cream Cupcake at Maggie Moo’s December 15th

image001 MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream and Treatery will celebrate National Cupcake Day on Wednesday, December 15 by giving customers a free ice cream cupcake sample with any donation of a canned good from 3 to 7pm.   MaggieMoo’s will donate all canned goods received to local food banks in each MaggieMoo’s market.  

While supplies last. Go here to find a participating location near you. Limit one offer per guest during the day of the promotion. Counts vary by store. Valid only at participating U.S. stores.  No purchase necessary.

FREE Cup of Yoplait Yogurt?

Free Cup of Yoplait Original Yogurt

Looks like in the state of TN dairy laws won’t permit us to get this freebie, but the website did say that they will send another coupon offer.  If you are eligible or want a coupon from Yoplait, go here to sign up for a free cup of Yoplait yogurt.

Eggs for 48cts at Kroger!

Eggland's Best EggsI was flipping through the latest edition of Women’s Day and found a 50ct off coupon on page 77 for any Eggland’s Best variety of eggs.  They are priced at $1.48 at Kroger this week as part of the 4 day sale (running through Wednesday).  After the coupon is doubled, you’ll receive a dozen eggs for only 48cts!!

Sun Tan City—FREE Tan Week

FTW-WEB-TEMP

Now through December 19th, non club members and discounted upper level visitors at Sun Tan City can score a FREE fast tan!  If you are already a member, you can get a little upgrade.  Go here to find a Sun Tan City near you.  Thanks Allison for sending me this info!!