Tuesday, November 18, 2014

11 Tips to Save on Holiday Dinner

Every year I try and find strategies for preparing a holiday dinner without blowing my entire grocery budget on one meal. then I remember that I always end up at someone else's house for the holidays and I really don't need to worry about the cost of a bigger dinner....but since I want to all the work of finding some great tips thisd year. I thought I would share them.
  1. Cut the meat. The most expensive item on the menu usually is the meat. You don't need a turkey and ham and a meat platter. Pick one, turkey is usually the cheapest.  Frozen turkeys are cheaper than fresh turkeys. Another option is to choose a bone-in turkey breast instead of a whole bird. Cooking just the turkey breast will cut down on cooking time and your energy bill (think of all the free time to sleep in or do your nails). Whole turkeys may be the tradition, but did you know that after discarding bone and fatty parts, only about 40 percent is edible? Seriously 40%. 40%!!!!!
  2. Whats in your Kitchen?  Odds are good you have some ingredients you need already in your pantry. Take stock of your supplies and plan your dishes based on what you already have on hand.
  3. I have a Coupon. Check mailers and online for coupons that will save money on things you need...no need to buy that brand name brownie mix if that isn't on the menu. In addition most grocery stores lower their prices about two weeks prior to a holiday. 
  4. Keep the menu short. Holidays are a time when we tend to go over bored, gifts, activities and especially on food. Check out what you are planning and then cut out at least three dishes. Do you have that one dish last year that hardly anyone ate? Say good-bye to it. Focus on the family favorites. No one needs three desserts...whats your favorite one? Cook that one, who wants to waste time and energy on desserts you don't like to eat?
  5. Pick in season produce. There is a reason squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, pears, cranberries, oranges, cauliflower and broccoli are often part of traditional holiday dinners. They are in season, our ancestors knew it and that is why they prepared them. If you are sick of eating them try a new way of preaparing the item...and remember, frozen vegetables are just as flavorful and nutritious. 
  6. Potluck anyone. You cook the bird and have guests bring their favorite holiday side dish. This DRAMATICALLY cuts your shopping bill plus you know every guest will have one side dish they will love.
  7. Do you really want to eat with them? Instead of feeding everyone you have ever meet, keep it to immediate family and close friends. Instead consider inviting more people over for cocktails/coffee and dessert later in the evening.
  8. Decorating 101 on the cheap. People are coming to see you not to see if you have the appropriate amount of tinsel on the tree. Keep it warm and simple. Yummy food is what is important in this situation.
  9. If you must decorate. If you are like me and want to set a nice table skip the fancy center piece and pricey floral arrangements.  Scatter a few tea candles or Holiday d├ęcor you already own around the room and on the table. (That cute nutcracker you impulsively bought that sits in the corner will look cute on your table). Put some colorful tree ornaments you are not using in a vase, or lay them down the center of the table. Even better have everyone bring a favorite Holiday picture to place around the table and room, they are a great way to relive memories and start conversations.
  10. After holiday celebrations. Everyone is very busy in the weeks leading up to holidays. Consider skipping the big holiday dinner and celebrate after the fact. You will save big on after holiday sales. 
  11. Be a guest. This one is my favorite, if anyone invites your family to their home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, do say YES. Think of the lack of stress and extra time you will have that day. A handmade card or offer to bring a simple side dish is a great way to say thank you and keep you from feeling like a freeloader. 

What are some of your favorite tips to save on holiday meals?

Friday, July 11, 2014

365 days Until Wedded Bliss

In one year I will be getting married.

That seems like it is forever away and not enough time to plan all at once. To say I am nervous and excited at the same time is an understatement.

Is it strange to be having all these feelings about something so far in the future?  Just yesterday I was fine, I have planned a fun little date for The Fiance and myself but was feeling fairly low key about everything. Then this morning I woke up with a feeling of doom and anticipation.

Its not about planning the event...this is not the first wedding I have planned. Just early this year I planned The Ex-Wife/Friends wedding (I should write about that...talk about a good story) It is different planning your own wedding but I have all the details planned out so for the moment I am very relaxed about it.

I get all excited about taking that next step with The Fiance and planning our future together. I imagine the ups the downs and I can't wait.

Then I have that moment of panic. After all I will be 39 when I get married....39! In my 20s I never imagined I would be getting married at 39. I figured I would be married for 6 or 7 years with a few kids by the time 39 rolled around. And in my early 30s I thought settling down in my 40s seemed like a grand idea, anything before 40 seemed to young. there was just so much to do before I got married.

And here I am planning a big fat Greek Welsh Scottish Rock n Roll wedding at 39. Isn't life weird that way? Neither plan worked out exactly like I planned. Although I do have 2 "soon to be" bonus kids and I will just be shy of my 40th birthday. So maybe both my "life plans" worked out just right.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What Happened to A Girl Named Michael?

Where has the time gone?

I knew it had been awhile.

I just did not realize how long it had been since I have written anything.

That might explain that weird frantic unsatisfied feeling I have had recently.  I have been unsettled and frustrated with the world....which are normal feelings for me but have been strangely strong lately.

Today I thought I would share something and discovered I have not written anything since JANUARY!!!

I was a little shocked.

I know how it started I got sick...really sick twice in January. After 2 weeks of laying in bed wondering why I was being punished and plotting my revenge on the nasty little germs that were laying waste to me, I simply fell out of the habit of blogging.

And once the daily habit is gone it becomes a struggle and a nuisance to do it.

I thought about it a number of times (I really did)...I have even had funny things to share. Like planning The Ex-Wife/Friend's wedding and being her Maid of Honor. Or some very yummy recipes. Randoms musings and in case you missed the announcement last December I am engaged so I have a whole wedding to plan and plan and plan.

As the months wore on I got more and more agitated at everyone...I was angry and my Health Nut Sister pointed out often condescending and unkind. I don't like that part of my personality. I work hard on not letting that monster run amok in my life. And one of the ways I do that is be writing...its my outlet, therapy and release.

I also do yoga but haven't been doing that either.

I am back and hoping that this will help with my mental health once again.

My only question is what have you been doing for the last 5 months?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Where Oh Where is my Sapphire?

Today I was planning on having a productive day. Seriously I was. No really I had plans I was going to accomplish a lot of things.

Number one on my list clean off my desk at work. It was a mess and crowded...and I rally couldn't get anything done. Step 1. take everything off my desk. Step 2. wipe it down. Step 3 decide what is going back and what is not. Step 4 decide what I was doing with all the stuff that wasn't going back on my desk.

It was all going so good, I got all the way through step 2 when I started having a conversation with a coworker. I happened to glance down at my engagement ring and noticed I could see my finger beneath it....it took me a second to release my sapphire was missing from my ring.

Let the panic ensue. To say I was upset is an understatement. I was trying hard not to panic as I calmly tried to retrace my steps. And since I had been cleaning off my desk that meant that it could have been anywhere in my office.

Soon all my coworkers and I were crawling around the office, looking in garbage cans, and carefully dumping out the contents in my purse trying to find the thing. Realizing that it could be anywhere I call The Fiance and tell him to start looking for it at home.

After reassembling my purse I decide to check outside and in my car. As I carefully backtrack my steps to my car and find nothing my despair and panic is getting worse. I am almost in tears by the time I open my car door and start looking around on the floor. I glanced at the seat of my car and again almost start crying again because sitting there as if it was enjoying a drive was my sapphire.

I immediately snatch it up as if I am saving the world from certain doom and run back into the office. I carefully wrap it and the ring in saran wrap and place it in a baggie then safely tuck it into my now very clean purse.

I am now left wondering why all the panic. Yes it would have been sad but I would still be engagement. The Fiance would still love me, we would still get married and live "happily" ever after. I just kept thinking it's a symbol of The Fiance's love...I won't have that symbol. Its a silly thought, I knew he loved me before I got the ring.

Thankfully it all ended well but my finger feels very very naked.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Organizing My Closet - Part 1 or Is 49 Scarves to Many?

Every year I have a desire to get something in my life organized and some what manageable...this year its my closet. It is a mess on a massive scale. If you judged me just by my closet you would wonder when my episode of Hoarders was airing.

I can never find anything, everything is crammed in there and I couldn't figure out how to make it functional. Part of the problem may be the abundance of clothes, shoes and accessories currently in my clothes but isn't that the point of a closet to store your clothes, shoes and accessories.

To make matter more difficult I have to share the closet with The Fiancee and its poorly laid out. (I am sure it was designed by some man that thought he will angle it to make it look nicer but really there is just wasted space). 

After staring at the problem for 3 days I took action. (I would like to note that I am only organizing my side of the closet, The Fiancee can fix his side. I'll help but he needs to do the work, its his stuff).

I decide the first thing I need to tackle were all my scarves. I have a lot of scarves. I love them. next to books they may be my biggest weakness. If I see a scarf I buy a scarf. All my friends and family know I like scarves so they buy them for me, often. Even The Fiancee (I wonder how many times I can insert The Fiancee into a single post, I just really like saying it) has bought me a scarf or two (3) since we have been together.

First, I rounded up all the scarves I currently owned. Most of them were hanging on hangers in the closet but a few were in a pile on the floor of the closet, some were in a pile on my blanket chest and there were still more in my car. 

Then I folded them nicely and laid them out on the bed. I then tried to figure out how am I going to organizing all these scarves. It was daunting and overwhelming and just when I was about to throw them all back in the closet I had a moment of brilliance...seriously it was brilliant.

I decide in my moment of brilliance to use an over the door shoe rack to store my scarves. See brilliant. I may not be the first person to do this but I don't know anyone else doing it and it worked amazingly.

This is just a standard 24 pocket shoe racket. I wasn't sure, at first, it would be big enough because despite getting rid of a few scarves I had 49 of them and I wanted to be able to see them and quickly decide which one to wear. 

I discovered that the pockets are big enough for 2 standard scarves to fit nicely. I had already folded them so I just paired them with a buddy and start putting the lesser wore ones at the top and bottom. Popular ones at eye level. The bulkier scarves took up one space and all the little ones that you tie on your purse or in your hair are all in one pocket. The Fiancee (5 times) is impressed and I can even add a scarf or two without having to get rid of any. 

Now I completed step 1 of my closet overhaul...Check back next week for Organizing My Closet - Part 2 or When Did I Buy That?

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