New Blogs to Discover: Horace and Joy To You

There are so many wonderfully unique blogs out there. The blogging community is full of fresh voices and viewpoints. I have two new favorites that are on my frequent visitation list. Both comment in different ways on our human condition. Both are insightful and unique.

Horace Glump has just started blogging on He is a little bit of a mystery man since he hasn't posted a picture or much on his profile which causes me to ask - Who is Horace Glump?
His first two posts are a kick to read and truly offer his unique view on life. Since I'm a big quote fan, I love his Glump-isms at the end that leave you with a thought to ponder much like Aesop at the end of a fable. Yesterday's Glump-ism spoke to the worry that we all face: "-Life is a lot easier if you let your dog worry for you." You must read the post for full understanding, but even on its own it is a very true statement. I have two dogs that I'd be happy to let carry my worry. I'm excited to continue Glump's Journey with him. Keep the posts coming Horace. Where will you take us next?

Kay Kindall's blog, Joy To You, is lovely visually and spiritually. Her paintings are expressive and even on the darkest winter day they bring color and delight. Kay couples each post with a painting and a text of paraphrased scripture from The Message by Eugene Peterson. It is easy to tell the heart of the blogger by the scripture that she chooses. Joy To You brings joy, hope, light and color to a world that often seems frightening and dark. If you are feeling the need for an emotional and spiritual lift, visit Joy To You.

Have you found some new blogs that you love? Share them with us.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Coffee Time - Good News and Bad News and Krispy Kreme

When someone says to you, "I have good new and bad news.", what do you want to hear first?
I usually go for the bad news first. That way I can get it over with and end the whole painful bad news thing with something positive. So, going with that philosophy, I'll tell you the Bad Coffee Time News first. In my Coffee Time posts on home roasting your own coffee beans, I recommended that you buy green coffee beans from the Costcos that have in store roasting stations. It was such a great deal, 30 pounds of beans for about $60. That's two dollars a pound! The Bad News is that Costco will no longer sell you the green beans, only the roasted beans. So Sad!
The Good Coffee Time News is that you can still find a deal on ebay. Watching the coffee bean auctions is a little time consuming but yesterday we won an auction for 15# of green beans. We paid $33.02 plus $10.35 shipping. Add the two together and we spent $43.37 for #15 pounds of green beans which comes out to $2.89 a pound. That's a decent price.

More Good Coffee Time News: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is offering a great deal on their coffee. The New Deal is a 12 oz coffee for 5 cents and the Grand Deal is a 16 oz cup for just 10 cents. Their reasoning behind these great prices is that,
When it was founded during the depths of the Great Depression in 1937, Krispy Kreme sold an 8 ounce cup of coffee for 5 cents. In these challenging economic times, Krispy Kreme is giving people something to feel good about by offering a 12 0unce cup of coffee for only 5 cents and a 16 ounce cup of coffee for only 10 cents.

This is a great deal but probably wont be around forever so warm up at Krispy Kreme with a cup of their signature coffee while it's still cheap.
The Krispy Kreme in our area also offers a great deal on a dozen, called Hot Deals Dozen. Toward the end of the evening, at the manager's discretion, a dozen doughnuts goes on sale for just $5 - that's about .42 a doughnut (they usually sell for .99) and about a $3 savings. It seems that the time that they make the Hot Deals Dozen available varies so it is suggested that you call in the evening and ask. I'm not sure if all of the Krispy Kremes do this but it's definitely worth looking into if you are a doughnut lover.
Thanks Krispy Kreme for giving us something to smile about.

Wait, Bad News - If you eat a dozen doughnuts on a regular basis you'll gain pounds, but Good News - You can work off the extra weight by doing the 52 Card Workout.

Hope you have nothing but Good News today!
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Savings - What I Found For a Dollar

One dollar, 100 pennies, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, 4 quarters.
I often hear the remark that you can't buy as much for a dollar as you used to, and that is true. But there are still products out there that carry the $1 price tag and I love to discover them. A couple of my favorite stores are The Dollar Tree and a little store in Newport Washington called Dollar and Deals. These stores specialize in items that sell for a buck. Some of the big chains also carry great dollar deals. Target has their dollar section right by the entrance. As I walk into our Target I first stop to smell the Starbucks coffee (even if I don't buy a cup, I just love the smell) and then I turn to my left and check out the dollar shelves.

Products that caught my eye on the Target dollar shelves:
  • A whole shelf full of little booklets from the For Dummies series. I'm a dummy about a lot of things so I was drawn to these.
  • Colorful socks. The dollar shelves almost always carry socks for different seasons. I love fun socks!
  • A small travel set of make up brushes.
  • Pad of lined paper with a magnet on the back to stick on my fridge for notes and shopping lists.

The shelves were full of other interesting things. We often look here for small gifts to say thank you or I appreciate you. Another fun way to stretch your dollar on these shelves is to buy a basket and fill it with these dollar deals and give it to a neighbor, your child's teacher, your secret pal or anyone who might need some cheering.

It's true that you get what you pay for. So when you only spend a dollar don't expect to get more than a dollar's worth from it. Then when it lasts forever or you get much enjoyment out of it you will be pleasantly surprised. Years ago I bought a bread knife for a dollar at Target and it's still one of my favorite knives.

Keep your eyes open for those dollar deals; a dollar can still go a long way.

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Meals - Ham and Potato Soup

I have a very good friend who makes delicious soup. She is really a queen of frugality because she rarely lets leftovers go to waste but turns them into delicious soups and stews and yummy tummy warming meals. I am not normally a soup maker. I'm too impatient to take the time to do it right. So when our families have Thanksgiving dinner together I make the turkey but she takes home the carcass to simmer it into stock and turn it into soup. If my kids are lucky they'll be over at her house when she makes the turkey soup and so get to enjoy the American tradition of left over turkey soup (since they don't get it at my house).

Today - oh my friend will be so proud of me - I am making soup. Yesterday we bought a bone - in ham to take to a pot luck and after we sliced the meat off, there was the bone left with all of this delicious meat still clinging to it. I just couldn't bring myself to be wasteful and throw it away so I decided to make ham and potato soup for dinner. Since we got the ham on sale I'm feeling very frugal as I make two meals out of it. The ingredients for this soup are all things that I normally have in my pantry anyway so I don't have to run to the store which saves me even more money because if you run to the store for one thing you always take the chance of buying four more things that you don't really need.

I want you to know that it's not that I can't make soup, it's that I don't very often. Here is my recipe for Ham and Potato soup.

You will need:
Ham bone
1/2 a sliced Onion or healthy sprinkle of onion powder to taste.
salt and pepper
1 Tbl fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf ( I never have a bay leaf handy so for me this is optional)
6 potatoes peeled, cubed and cooked
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp dried dill (optional, but I like the taste of dill with potatoes)

  • Place ham bone in a pot and cover with water, about 3 or 4 cups. Add onion, a pinch of salt (not too much, the ham is already salty), pepper, thyme and a bay leaf. Simmer about 45 minutes until the meat comes off of the bone easily.
  • Remove the bone from the broth and allow to cool until you can easily handle it to remove the meat.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the bay leaf, thyme and any large pieces of onion or run the broth through a strainer. Be sure and save any small pieces of meat that came off of the bone while simmering. You can discard the onion or include it in the soup.
  • In a blender or food processor, place the cooked potatoes and about 1 1/2 cups of the broth from the ham. Blend until smooth; a minute should do it.
  • In a saucepan melt the butter and then stir in the flour.
  • Add the milk all at once to the butter and flour mixture.
  • Stir in the potato mixture and the rest of the broth.
  • Add the ham.
  • Add the dill.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until the soup is heated through.

That's it! An easy peasy deliciously frugal soup to warm the tummy and the heart on a cold winter day.
What's your favorite soup to make?

image by stock.xchng

Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring-ing it at the Library

I always use the start of the new year as a motivator to get fit and healthy (I really fall apart in December) - a new year, a new me. This year I was lacking motivation so I went to the library in search of motivational material. The library is wonderful for Shoestring Living. So much free information available. I know that there is tons of info online and I use the internet daily, but I love to hold a book in my hands. I love the peace of the library and the un-hurriedness of browsing through the shelves to find just the right literary marvel that's going to change my life. At my library I can check out as many books and CDs as I want so when I carry out a stack of books I feel just a little richer.

Here's what I found at the Library this week:
For my health, I chose two books on lowering my cholesterol: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol by Mason W. Freeman M.D. with Christine Junge and Cut Your Cholesterol by David L. Katz, M.D. and Debra L. I've skimmed through both of these and basically found them to be motivators to eat smarter. They both offer some pretty comprehensive plans without too much medical jargon.

The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark "Dr. Tea" Ukra, is interesting. I didn't know that tea was such an amazing substance. I think that I'll try to drink it more often.

For a little business motivation I have The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online by Jason Kelly. It's a little outdated but has some good information and advice.

My two favorite finds from this trip to the library are:

Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes by Teresa Tapp with Barbara Smalley. I'm a sucker for anything that promises quick results. This really is a good workout, though a little hard to learn the moves. I'll give it a try this month and see if it lives up to it's promise of losing inches in 4 weeks. If it works, I'll let you know.

For muse motivation I found this wonderful little book called, Take Joy - a book for writers by Jane Yolen. I love Jane Yolen's children's books. In Take Joy she shares the joy that she has found in being a writer. The book makes me smile; we all need a little joy.

Those are my library finds this month. Very motivating stuff, just what I need to get off to a new start in the new year.
Have you been to the library lately? What literary riches did you find?

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

6 Ways to Beat the Panic Pull and Regain Your Balance

I'm feeling panicky today.
Do you ever feel that way, as if the pull of all of the uncertainties and the what ifs of this world is pulling you out of balance? It's easy to be pulled right off of your feet and straight toward the fridge, Panic Eating. Don't do it! Not only will panic eating make you fat it also costs money because it ultimately sends you to the grocery store for an extra trip and puts you over your grocery budget. Another effect of the panic pull is Panic Shopping. Although I believe that shopping is often therapeutic, Panic Shopping causes you to spend money on things that you don't really need and often don't want and then you end up with guilt which just pulls you more out of balance.

Here are 6 free and non-caloric actions that I take to regain Balance and beat the Panic Pull:
  1. Remember, there's always something to love - First of all remember that panic is often fueled by self pity. Self pity is so destructive. It causes us to focus inward and to wallow, I hate to wallow. So knock self pity out by focusing on your blessings. When I was a kid, I used to have a poster over my be bed that said, "There is something to love in every day." A little sappy but true statement. When you hit the panic wall stop and think about what there is in your day, in this very moment that is lovely and that you are thankful for. Simple things - I just ate apples and cheese for a snack (I love apples and cheese and the apples were crisp not mushy, yum!), I have a family who loves me, the internet is working today, I had hot water for a shower (what a blessing, some people don't)...... once you start, blessing after blessing will come to mind. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Fill yourself up with blessings and you can drop-kick self pity out of there.
  2. Have an important conversation - Now that my mind is off of myself and onto more important reality, I talk to God about what is bothering me. God's perspective is so much bigger than my own. I have to remind myself that I will never think of anything that God will forget (Oswald Chambers).
  3. Read quotes - I love to read quotes. I have collections of them. I find something in a book or a play or song that touches my heart and I write it down. Then on days like today I can read other people's perspectives on life and realize that I'm not alone in Life's circumstances. It helps to see through the eyes of other people that have lived the ups and downs of life.
  4. Don't just sit there - When I'm in panic mode I often just want to shut down, crawl into bed under the covers and wait for it to pass. Not a good solution. Physical activity is a much better way to get back into balance. I like to do quiet stretches and some deep breathing to slow the heart racing that panic causes. I also recommend a quick walk. Just a fast walk to the corner and back gets my heart pumping in a good way and fills me with a now-I-can-tackle-anything mood. All of that good oxygen to the brain is a good thing that clears the fog that panic brings.
  5. Be constructive - Panic is such a destructive thing. Choose one thing that you can accomplish successfully in a short amount of time and do it (for me that was writing this blog post). Then tell yourself, "good job", and move on to the next thing.

So there's my list of 6 ways to gain control and balance over the Panic Pull and it didn't cause me to gain weight or go broke. What do you do to beat panic when it creeps in and tries to ruin your day?
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Recycling - Reuse your empty plastic containers

Without looking at the calendar, how else can you tell that it's January? All of the stores have their home organizational products on sale. I love all of those plastic bins. They come in so many sizes with colorful lids. I could spend a fortune just buying bins - small, large, the stackable kind, the ones with drawers.....sigh!

But I don't have a fortune to spend to organize my stuff.
So, what do I have around the house that I can reuse and turn into storage containers for our Annual New Year January Organizing The House projects?

We shop at Costco quite a lot and many of the products come in large plastic containers. These containers are sturdy, have large openings at the top and nice indentations in the side so that you can hold them easily. They're great containers and I hate throwing them away when we finish whatever is inside. So I save them and the empties pile up in various places in the kitchen and the garage. My husband came up with a great idea for reusing these Costco containers.

He replaced the original label with our own label and made canisters to hold things like brown sugar, powdered sugar or popcorn - things that come in bags that usually rip or get holes in the corners and leak all over the place and are hard to pour out. In the new canisters (that used to be the Costco containers) it's easier to see how much you have left of something and when you need to add it to your shopping list. The wide mouth of the canisters also makes measuring and scooping a snap. You can buy label material at the craft store and use permanent markers for your own design or, for even more original artwork, have your kids design your labels. You can also design your labels on your computer and print them out on your printer. Spray adhesive is great for sticking them onto the plastic and if you want to protect them, cover with clear contact paper.

Another product that comes in a large reusable container at Costco is I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. To reuse this plastic container I just take a permanent marker and cross out the words Not Butter and replace them with whatever I am storing. So now it says, I Can't Believe It's Crayons or I Can't Believe It's Ribbon or I Can't Believe It's Dry Wall Screws. Easy, Fun and the yellow containers are bright and colorful on your shelf.

What do you have around the house that you can turn into a New Year January Household Organizer?

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Coffee Time: What's the Deal with Decaf?

This is my sixth post about coffee. I know, it seems like I have a one track mind and some people would insist that I do think a lot about coffee. But I want to share my love for this smooth fragrant brown elixir so that everyone can experience the same warm depth of satisfaction that I receive from each cup of home roasted richness.

Wait. Before I go any further with our coffee discussion, I have a confession to make.......don't be shocked....... I...drink...decaf. There I said it.

People are funny about Decaf. I've had people turn down a completely wonderful home roasted and brewed cup of coffee because it was decaf. I've also known people who insist that they will only drink decaf and then submit their systems to weak cups of chemically washed brown liquid.
So what's the deal about Decaf? Where does it come from and is it possible to get a quality cup of decaffeinated coffee?

There are two primary ways to decaffeinate coffee beans. One way is by submitting the beans to a chemical wash. In this method a solvent, methylene chloride, is used to treat the green beans drawing out the caffeine. Though these beans are supposed to be thoroughly washed to remove any chemical traces, it's hard to believe that they can get rid of all of the chemical residue and besides the word solvent just doesn't sound so good.
Water Washing is anther method of caffeine removal. Green beans are mixed with water and then carbon dioxide is added to carbonate the water so that the beans are floating around in little bubbles. The carbon dioxide captures the caffeine molecules and removes them from the coffee beans but leaves unaltered the proteins and carbohydrates that give the coffee it's wonderful flavor and smell. The beans are then dried naturally and ready to bag up and send to you. The benefits of this process are that everything is done naturally and the proteins and carbohydrates are not chemically altered in any way.

Let's talk about taste. I've found that a freshly ground cup of decaf is every bit as good as a cup of caffeinated coffee. I've actually served decaf to unsuspecting guests, who swear that they would never drink un-caffeinated coffee, and have received great compliments on my joe. We often make 1/2 caf and 1/2 decaf in the morning and for afternoon coffee time. This makes a very enjoyable cup that gives a little mental lift without the jitters.

Decaf green beans are sold by most coffee bean sellers. Sometimes they are a little more expensive than their caffeinated cousins but still so much less expensive than buying the roasted beans from the store. So, save some money and expand your coffee time experience by roasting and brewing some water washed decaf.

Other Coffee Posts: Shoestring Savings: Coffee Time, Home Roasted Coffee Time,
Coffee Time- I Would Sell My Cow For A Bag Of These Beans, Coffee Time - The Easy Way to Roast Coffee at Home, Coffee Time - The Difference Between City Roast and French Roast
Add to Technorati Favorites