Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Shop Small Businesses This Holidays!


The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday. Why do corporate businesses come before small businesses? Because they have the money for advertising and mind control. They have bigger budgets, more staff, and more time to infiltrate your consciousness and convince you to spend your hard earned money on them.

However, small businesses should be taking precedence this holiday season and all year round. Why? Because small businesses are the backbone of this country. We couldn't live without them. All corporate businesses started out as small businesses and grew to be bigger than they should have been. Now a lot of them are failing to leave small businesses to pick up the slack.

Small businesses provide quality products and personal customer service. Small businesses provide attention to detail that corporate stores don't take the trouble to provide. The biggest reason of all to support a small business is because that money is going directly to the person providing the product or service which in turn helps support their families.

How can you support small businesses? By being a customer and becoming a loyal customer. By telling your friends and family about them. By providing top reviews on social media sites to draw more people to their business. By doing what you can to help them flourish.

I am going to provide several small business links below. If you know of any others that would be of interest, please provide a link and a name in the comments so we can all check them out! Thanks!

1. The Organic Prepper Bookstore - Daisy has her own printable and downloadable books in this collection of books as well as a book by yours truly, Selco Begovic, and Lisa Egan.

2. My Amazon Store - While Amazon is a big corporate company, they support a lot of authors, small business owners, and bloggers. They provide a place for them to sell their products on a much larger scale to provide a better income. My store has links to a lot of these people as well as some items that I find invaluable. (If you sell items on Amazon, please let me know so I can link to them!)

3. Customized Food Storage Plans by The Merrill Project - Charisse will help you put together a food storage suited to your family needs and tastes. She has a seven, fourteen, and twenty-one recipe plan that can help anyone!

4. Build Your 72-Hour Kit for $95 by The Merrill Project - This $7 PDF will give you a complete list that you can take to the store to purchase items for your 72-Hour Kit. This is an excellent resource to have on hand and to be more prepared!

5. Electronic Emergency Binders by The Merrill Project - These electronic binders would be a great addition to anyone's preps. You can customize them for one person or six people. They can be stored on an SD card for easy transportation or printed out if you wish.

6. eBay stores - honestly, most eBay stores are small businesses. Most of them are supporting families or are a side hustle to make some extra money. A lot of the sellers sell things that are brand new or are in excellent used condition. Consider them in your holiday shopping this year. The link to my eBay store is https://www.ebay.com/str/ericasbooksandmore. Another great eBay store is https://www.ebay.com/sch/farmhousefavorites.

7. Never Buy Bread Again by Laurie Neverman - The woman behind Common Sense Home has a great cookbook on baking bread with twenty in-depth recipes to make you a more confident bread baker. Pair this with a loaf pan and a bread knife and you would have an excellent gift!

8. By Robin - Robin is an excellent artist and designer who makes one of a kind cards, jewelry, glass etchings, and anything else you may want to be designed. Take a look through her pictures for samples of what she can do.

9. Abby's Elderberry - Want to really support a small business and a family? Abby's Elderberry Syrup is the business of a young lady who dreams of buying a horse! Elderberry syrup is a powerful immunity booster for colds and cases of flu and would be a great present for anyone!

10. Madelyns Wreaths - Madelyns Wreaths makes wreaths, quilts, and other crafts. They make some very neat one-of-a-kind items that would be lovely gifts for anyone!

11. Simplicity Soaps - Everything is made by hand in her own kitchen. Soaps and lotions make an easy present for almost everyone on your list. They also make great additions to stockings and gift baskets!

12. Nomadic Knot Designs - She makes crochet items that are always appreciated. You can purchase crochets stocking hats as well as the popular messy bun hats!

13. From Dirt to Dollars: A Guide to Selling at the Farmers Market by Annie Coombe - Know someone who may be interested in selling their products? This very informative book would be a great gift for someone who gardens a lot or always seems to have extra produce. Selling at the farmers market should not be scary and Annie helps you do it the right way!

14. Joyful Aprons - An apron is a delightful present for almost everyone! Joyful Aprons makes really cute, really fun aprons at a reasonable price. They even offer maternity aprons!

15. 4 Cross Stitch Needle Minders/Needle Keepers - Do you have someone who loves to sew on your list? These are great for keeping the needle from getting lost! These would also make a great stocking stuffer or part of a gift basket.

16. Scott Family Farms Honey Bees and Christmas Trees - You really need to check this site out! They have honey products, bath and body products, homemade soaps, home items and more. So many products! If you live in Georgia or near their farm, they also have Christmas trees for sale.

17. River Botanicals - They also have some great bath and body products that would make great presents. You definitely could purchase one of each and have a very cool gift basket for a loved one.

18. Busy Hands Quiet Hearts Knitting Patterns - Pia has six wonderful knitting patterns for any knitter to try. With yarn and needles, you could have a lovely present for the knitter in your life.

19. 3 Children's Books by Kat Mendenhall - These excellent children's book by Kat would be a fun gift to give to a child and nurture their minds with books. They are stories about her goats and her dog. The titles are Moo Moo Sue, Howdy Howdy My Name is Rowdy, and How Buddy Found His Bark. They are $10 each or $28 for all three plus postage if mailed. You can contact Kat at katmartywrite@gmail.com for ordering or any questions.

20. Lilla Rose - Leah Terry - If you are looking for well-made, cute hair clips, pins, and headbands, this is the place for you! They have some really good deals and a lot to choose from. From thin hair to thick hair, they have you covered!

21. The Productive Gardener E-Course - Dana from Piwakawaka Valley has developed a great e-course to help you or be a great gift for a gardening friend. This is a twelve-month course that gives tips, tricks, and lots of advice to become a better, more productive gardener.

22. Artisan Bread - The Art of Sourdough Ebook - Dana from Piwakawaka Valley has also written a wonderful book about starting and making sourdough bread that also features a troubleshooting section. This would be a good present for the baker in your life!

23. Artsy Inspirations by Tina Tompkins Ames - She has a delightful collection of cards, adult coloring books and pages, gift boxes, soaps, and more. There are neatly boxed sets to give to friends or something small for stockings and gift baskets!

24. Ready Gardens - Ready Gardens has a variety of garden items and seeds for the gardener on your list. You can get seed kits, survival seed banks, seeds, and free growing guides. They also have a Little Gardeners Starter Kit for the child on your list to get started on the wonders of growing a garden!

This is just the tip of the iceberg for small businesses and authors. There are so many more out there. Like I mentioned earlier if you have a small business or have a product you want others to know about, drop the link and a description in the comments below. (If it appears to be spam or just plain nasty, I will delete the comment.)

(This post contains some affiliate links, but mostly just direct links to the businesses. I am only profiting from three of these links which help to support this blog and my family. The rest of the links is supporting their own businesses and their families.) 

Thanks for reading,

Erica

Related Posts:
Stay Home on Black Friday. Shop Small. Shop Local. 
20 Books To Give To Your Favorite Prepper (And Non-Prepper) For The Holidays!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Stay Home on Black Friday. Shop Small. Shop Local.


(Originally posted in 2013. Revised and expanded for 2018. The views of the author haven't changed!)

Black Friday shopping can be crazy. Stores opening at midnight if they even closed at all. Standing in line and getting a ticket to buy an item at significant savings. Most of the time people are buying things they don't really need. They are missing out on time with family and friends to go shopping. Employees are missing out on time with family and friends on a holiday to satisfy a corporation's greediness.

No, I don't agree with stores being open so early on Black Friday and even on Thanksgiving Day. It is a holiday after all!  Just because someone works retail doesn't mean they need to pay the price of missing out on sleep and time with loved ones. I don't agree with stores opening at ungodly hours to satisfy their bottom lines while offering deals that are supposedly irresistible to shoppers. I don't like the whole craziness of these shopping days and what they stand for. I personally try to never participate if I can help it. A few years back, I got one thing online and regretted it because, despite the reviews, it was cheaply made and only lasted three months.

The problem with Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping is that the public is feeding the problem. The stores are offering these deals and opening at ungodly hours. The public flocks to these sales forsaking their families, work and sleep. The workers are scheduled and, in a lot of cases, forced to work on the holiday because they are told they cannot take those days off or call in sick.

Quite frankly, the public is a huge part of this problem. If they would not shop at the sales, the stores would not feel the need to be open. Standing in lines for hours, collecting a ticket, rushing the doors, and rioting just brings out the ugliness of the whole situation. Stores make everyone stand in line if they want the item and get a ticket so they can purchase it. When did honor and morals go out the window while shopping? Just ridiculous.

Trust me, I understand the lure of the sale. I understand why shoppers do go to get a good deal on an item. If the shopper really needs the item, it would be very difficult to pass up the good deal. I usually advocate saving money any way you can, but for some reason, I can not condone Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping. I see a lot of people going in debt and using credit cards to pay for items they cannot afford. People buy gifts for their families and friends that will be played with or used a few times and discarded. They bought the item for that person just because they were able to get that gift at such a "great" price.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Stay home on Black Friday. If you feel the need to be out on Black Friday, do so at a reasonable hour. Camping out at a store, battling others for the sale items, and spending you do not have is not the way to make great memories. Send the stores a message that their early sales and being open on a holiday is just not what consumers want. Send an even bigger message that they can run these sales on a reasonable timetable and stop the craziness of Black Friday.


Better yet, shop small business owners and local businesses. Shop your friends' items for sale. Shop on Etsy. Even on eBay, most of the sellers are selling for a side hustle and could use the extra love. 

Take the money away from corporate greed and give to someone who needs the money for their family, home, and business. There is a lot of excellent products available and always something for everyone. You may spend a little more money, but you will be knowing where your money is going and you will have a quality item to give to your loved ones. Most people love a good story behind the gift and would love to know that the item came from a small business or a local artisan.

In the next few posts, I hope to give you ideas and promote products from other small business owners and bloggers. We all have great products and items that will be a lovely and thoughtful gift to give others. I also hope to give you a list of ideas that you can make yourself (Yes, you still have time!). A handmade gift says a lot about the people giving it as well as the person receiving it.  

I will also be posting links in social media to my Amazon store. While this may seem contradictory, I hope to promote primarily other bloggers and other small business owners' products who happen to sell their items on Amazon. Sometimes, Amazon is the only viable place to sell most of their products. I will add items that I find to be very beneficial in my life, but not many as of right now.

This holiday season, please be conscious of how your money is spent and where it is spent. Keep it away from corporate greediness as much as possible and keep it small and local. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (And Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!

10 Money Saving Hacks for a Happier (and Cheaper) Holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (and Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!


One of my favorite gifts to give and receive for any holiday is books! Almost everyone reads books. Beyond that, reading increases knowledge, brings pleasure, and is generally a good way to relax. 

These are my favorite prepping fiction and non-fiction books to read and to give. You can give most of them as an e-book, but I recommend a hard copy to keep in the home library. If you can give the e-books as a downloadable book, this would be good too so the recipient can download and print the book. 

You will see fiction and non-fiction on this list. While most preppers like non-fiction, non-preppers will enjoy fiction books more. Sometimes the fiction books do more for opening the eyes of non-preppers than any talking to them will do! 

20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (and Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!

1. How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley, Rawles. (This is my favorite prepping book ever!)

2. Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley, Rawles (Fiction and the first book in a fantastic series!)

3. Going Home: A Novel (The Survivalists Series Book 1) by A. American (Fiction and another great series.)

4. One Second After by William R. Forstchen (Fiction and the first book of another great series)

5. CyberStorm by Matthew Mather (Fiction and being developed for a movie)

6. 36 Hours (The Blackout Series Book 1) by Bobby Akart (Fiction and an author with at least four great series)

7. The Longest Walk by Ron Foster and Pat Lambert (Fiction and very eye-opening!)

8. Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Live-Savings Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living by Jim Cobb (Non-fiction and another fantastic resource to get better prepared)

9. Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel (Non-fiction)

10. The Prepper's Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster by Bernie Carr (Non-fiction and this would make a great stocking stuffer!)

11. Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford  (Non-fiction)

12. A Year Without The Grocery Store: A Step by Step Guide to Acquiring, Organizing, and Cooking Food Storage by Karen Morris (Non-fiction)

13. Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When The Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison (Non-fiction)

14. Prepper Supplies Checklist: A Simple Guide to Emergency Preparedness by Nettie David (Non-fiction)

15. The Prepper's Canning Guide: Affordably Stockpile a Lifesaving Supply of Nutritious, Delicious, Shelf-Stable Foods by Daisy Luther (Non-fiction)

16. Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival  Book 1 by Joe Nobody  (Fiction)

17. Going Off The Grid: The How-To Book of Simple Living and Happiness by Gary Collins (Non-fiction)

18. Prepare Your Family for Survival: How to Be Ready for Any Emergency or Disaster Situation by Linda Loosli (Non-fiction)

19. Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens (Non-fiction)

20. The Prepper's Yearbook: Prepare for Emergencies Large and Small with 5 Budget Friendly Tasks Per Month by Erica Nygaard (Yours truly! Download and print!)

There should be something for everyone on this list. From the non-prepper to the experienced prepper, you should be able to find something for the special people on your list! 

(This post is riddled with affiliate links that support many authors who also happen to be friends and associates of mine! Please consider supporting one of these fine people who do this for a living and with the purpose of wanting you to be better prepared. Thanks!)

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts: 
Prepper's Total Grid Failure Handbook: Book Review
The Survival Savvy Family: Book Review 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

20 Great Prepping/Survival Father's Day Gifts For The Dad in Your Life!



Father's Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the man in your life who either helped you bring your children into the world or helped bring you into the world. You may also want to celebrate the men who helped guide and mentor you at some point in your life. There are the standard, boring gifts to give to guys like a tie or a grill set. However, this year, I would like to offer some suggestions on gifts that will help him be more prepared and therefore help your family be more prepared. More than likely, he will like the gift better too!

I have chosen gifts from all price ranges so that you can stay in your budget while gift giving. If you think something would be perfect, but a little more money than you want to spend, consider going in with a sibling or your mother for the gift!

(These prices are based off Amazon and other websites listed prices. Please understand prices can change at any time! These are also affiliate links that help to keep this site running and provide a small income for my family, but doesn't cost any more for you. Thanks for using them!)

20 Great Prepping/Survival Father's Day Gifts For The Dad in Your Life!

Under $10 Father's Day Gifts:
1. Work or Mechanics Gloves - A good pair of gloves is a very handy thing to have and to protect the hands. Guys appreciate a good pair of gloves!
2. Ka-Bar Tactical Spork - If you have a guy who likes to go camping and/or spend time practicing wilderness survival, this item would be a great addition to his kit! If you are looking for something a little different, check out the Coleman Camper's Utensil Set.
3. Tactical Pens - These multi-use pens are great for carrying with you and on you.
4. Vehicle Escape Tool - These tools are important to have in every vehicle you own. This piece of safety/survival equipment would always be appreciated.

Under $25 Father's Day Gifts:
5. Books - I have a dad who loves to read. There are some great prepper/survival fiction and nonfiction books that would make great presents for the dad who is a reader too.
6. Flashlights - A good flashlight is worth its weight in gold. Find one that is heavy duty with a good beam.
7. Backpack - For carrying the daily essentials, for every day carry, or to use as a get home bag. A quality lightweight backpack will serve a guy well.
8. Emergency Survival Outdoor Gear Kit - This is also a great item to have for camping and emergency kits. With most of these kits having at least ten tools, your guy will have fun using it and practicing with it.

Under $50 Father's Day Gifts:
9. Water Bottle with a filter - This is a great present for anyone, not just the guys. It is great daily use item as well as for emergency kits, get home bags and camping.
10. Camp Stove. A camp stove is a necessity for prepping and survival. I know you can cook over an open fire or grill, but a camp stove makes some cooking a lot easier!
11. Camping Cookset. I think these pans would be handy for camping and for your preps. This is an easy gift to give especially to the camper guy in your life.
12. Hammock. Whether you choose a camping hammock or a regular hammock, your guy would definitely appreciate it. For sleeping or relaxing, this would be a fun, but a handy gift to give.

Under $100 Father's Day Gifts:
13. Ratcheting Wrench Set - I don't know a guy who wouldn't want a set of these. Most of the time, a wrench goes missing and needs to be replaced anyway!
14. Campfire grills, cast iron pans, and utensils. Who doesn't like cooking over an open fire? Most guys who camp do and they would love some equipment to make it easier.
15. Portable Kitchen. If you are going to be doing some outdoor cooking for days or camping for longer than a day, you want an outdoor portable kitchen. I know I would love this when I am grilling!
16. Fishing Pole and Spinning Reel. These can run in all price ranges, but a standard pole and reel are usually under $100. If your dad wants to learn fishing or needs a new pole, this would be a great gift!

Under $200 Father's Day Gifts:
17. Binoculars. These run in all price ranges, but if you are going to a pair for a gift invest in a good pair that will help you see far and last a long time.
18. Tent. Again, tents can run in all price ranges, but a good one will cost over $100 for certain. You want it to be waterproof and have adequate room.
19. EcoZoom Versa Camping Stove. This is a great stove to use outside. You do not need electricity or gas - wood, charcoal and/or biomass fuels this stove! Guys like to play and experiment and this would a great way to let them do it!
20. Family 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit. Whether you want to put one together yourself or buy one put together, you can not go wrong with a 72 hour kit for the guys in your life.

Hope you find the perfect present!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

10 Money Saving Hacks For A Happier (And Cheaper) Holidays!


In 10 Money Saving Tips for a Frugal Holidays, I focused on how to save money on gifts and stockings. Those tips have saved people a lot of money since the post was published. However, during the holidays, saving money on gifts is not the only way to save money!

During the holidays, normally frugal people can even go crazy and spend money that they know better than to spend! Something about the holiday spirit makes people throw out their budgets and good caution. We want to be generous, treat people well, and generally have a good time. That is great to do, but we can all practice good sense with these money-saving hacks listed below!

1. Respect the traditions. If you have certain things you do every year and you know your family will miss them if you don't do them, keep the traditions alive as long as you can afford it. The costs of these traditions should already be in your holiday budget. If you take the whole family to a big show every year, that costs should already be figured into your budget. Another idea would be to make that big show a gift to the family members that go.

If the traditions become too much and cause too much of a strain on your budget, maybe it is time to reconsider. Which leads to...

2. Create new traditions. Think about the things you really love about the holidays and set up a new tradition that supports what you love. Do you love the extra time you get to spend with family? Start a Christmas movie night and have popcorn, hot chocolate, and cookies while watching the movies. Love the holiday lights? Take a driving tour of the lights in your city. Love to sing? Go caroling with your family and neighbors and take a plate of cookies to the elderly.

3. Set a menu and a meal plan. If you know you are hosting the big meal, are contributing to a potluck, and/or will have family around for a few days, time to meal plan. Remember to include some of the family favorites, have a soup night, a leftover night, and a pizza night! This way you know what to buy, how much to budget, and you can buy in one trip. Hopefully, you will avoid having to send someone to the grocery store!

4. Make the big meals potluck. Big holiday meals can be such a strain on the host! To make this holiday season easy on everyone, make the meal a potluck. You can still make the meat and a side, but assign someone to bring bread, salads, appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and even drinks. The variety is great and your day will be much easier (and cheaper)!

5. Do Not Buy Your Wrapping Paper or Christmas Cards Until After Christmas! This should go without saying, but buy your wrapping paper and cards after the holidays for the following year. You can save 50-75% off!

6. Use what you have for decorations. More than likely, you do not need any more decorations. Personally, I have enough decorations for three trees and I only put one. Not to much the knick-knacks, the garland, and the millions of other holiday things I have. You are probably in the same boat. Get creative and ban yourself from buying any more Christmas decorations!

7. Stick with homemade goodies instead of store bought. You can plan ahead and freeze the cookies that can be frozen. Store bought goodies look so good, but those cookies and cakes are so expensive. The inflated cost on them is ridiculous! If you are a novice baker, offer to host a cookie swap. Everyone can bake together or just bring what they baked. Then you can swap with each other and bring home some different and delicious goodies!

8. Think simple in terms of decorations, food, and festivities. It is much more frugal to be simple in your approach to the holidays. Going overboard is nothing but a big pain in the wallet! You might like to "wow" your guests, but your guests will appreciate whatever you serve and your presentation. The point of the festivities is to spend time together! Going overboard can complicate that and make your guests feel overwhelmed or inadequate.

9. Have small, intimate gatherings instead of big parties. Everyone will get more quality time together, the food and drink expenses will be cheaper, and you won't have the potential clean-up expenses from a large crowd. You could go a step further and specify "no gifts" to keep the costs down more. This is about spending time together during the holidays, not about who can spend the most.


10. Ditch the matching holiday outfits. Unless you can truly afford it, ditch the cute Christmas dresses for little girls and stop trying to find matching pajamas for everyone in the family. I have heard of people spending hundreds of dollars just for everyone to match and look just so. You are trying to save money, not spend more! The cute little holiday dresses only get worn a few times before the season is over. If you are lucky, you can pass them down. Otherwise, the dresses and the outgrown pajamas end up being donated or thrown away. Just avoid it! Save your money!

These tips are just small things you can do to save money over the holidays, but they can save you a lot of money! Little things can add up in terms of spending and saving money. Christmas is a great time to show your love and appreciation of those around you, but keep the spending within your budget. Do not let the little things and the desire to impress others ruin your budget!

What do you do to save money during the holidays?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas
Are You Struggling Financially This Christmas? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Want to Make America Great Again? Here Are 12 Ways You Can Do Just That!


A lot of my Facebook news feed this morning has been how the country has been let down by our newly elected President. This is a guy who promised to make America great again. However, he is not who is going to make America great again. You know who is going to make America great again? 

You and I are. 

The American people are what make America great. However, we have forgotten this. We have forgotten that we, the people, are the ones who make this great country what it is. Our elected leaders set the policies and laws for which we live under and follow, but they are not entirely responsible for making America great. We, however, are the representatives of this country and we are the ones responsible for making America great. 

So how can we make America great again?

1. Treat others how you would like to be treated. 

2. Smile at everyone and say hello to all you meet.

3. Be polite to everyone even if they do not deserve it.

4. Offer to help your family, friends, and neighbors. Take care of each other. Take a meal to the sick. Mow the lawn for the injured. Take care of our military families and veterans. Feed the homeless. 

5. Take care of your surroundings. Do not litter. Recycle.

6. Learn to rely on yourself to take care of yourself. Do not depend upon the government or other agencies to save you. While help is great, sometimes you will not get help. 

7. Raise your children to honor and respect our flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, and to be proud to be an American. 

8. Remember that no one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else regardless of anything. 

9. Take care of the elderly, learn from them, and treat them like your grandparents. 

10. Honor and respect our traditions, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and our history. 

11. Show respect for our military, veterans, and police officers who work diligently every day to protect you. 

12. Follow and obey the laws of our land. If you disagree, then respectfully disagree without causing a riot or massive damage to other peoples' properties and businesses. 

Seems pretty simple, right? Be a good citizen and ambassador of this great country and we will make America great again!

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Friday, February 12, 2016

Make Valentine's Day Cheap and Easy!


Valentine's Day can be so expensive! Flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, expensive night-outs, expensive dinners at equally expensive restaurants, and the list can go on. Guys and gals alike throw away huge amounts of money and for what? A holiday they might remember? 

What a huge waste of money!

I used to work at a florist shop and I just could not believe that guys would spend $150 on two dozen roses, balloons, and the works. I was not as frugal then as I am now, but the cost would just about stagger me. I always really hoped that the wife or girlfriend was really worth it or really appreciated it. 

Don't get me wrong. I love getting flowers or a plant! I think they are beautiful, but not on Valentine's Day! Do you realize how much those items are marked up? Never mind that the flowers are usually out of season, making the flowers even more expensive!

How can you get around this? 

Take a vow to make Valentine's Day cheap and easy!

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Have a nice dinner at home. Even if you buy the steaks at the grocery store, you are saving a ton of money by cooking them yourself and staying home. If you want a romantic dinner for two, find a babysitter or eat after the kids go to bed.

2. Watch a movie at home. Want a new movie to watch? Hit up a Redbox, see what Netflix or Amazon Prime has for free or rent, or borrow one from a friend. 

3. Make cards for each other. Write a heartfelt note on the card.

4. Make your own decorations using ideas from Pinterest or the free printables on the internet. 

5. Make your kids' Valentines for school using free printables from the internet. I found some really cool Star Wars Valentines for my son to give at school. We also taped a pack of 5 Juicy Fruit gum on the back of each one as the favor.

6. Go visit an art gallery or museum. Most places are free or free passes can be obtained to visit. 

7. Play a card or board game at home. We love to play UNO together. It can be vicious with the kids involved, but we didn't teach them to play to lose! 

8. Take a walk or sit together on the couch and spend some time just talking to each other. Communication is important in any relationship and is free!

9. Go on a drive and visit some places that mean a lot to you both. While driving is not always cheap, gas prices are low right now. Plus there is no cost for being sentimental. Visit the places where you first met, had your first date, had a great time at, a favorite spot for both of you, etc.

10. Make breakfast in bed. Who doesn't appreciate having a great breakfast made and served to you in bed? 

11. Make a book of favors to give to your special one. Have coupons for free massages, supper of their choice, clean their vehicle, etc. You can make these as nice or intimate as you want!

12. Make a batch of Valentine's cookies to give to kids or neighbors. 

13. Swap babysitting with another family to have a free night for just the two of you!

14. Make a special dessert for just the two of you or the whole family to share. Cheesecake with cherry or strawberry topping is always a hit in my family!

15. Fill a jar with little love notes to open in the year to come. Just a note saying "I love you" or "Your're the best" can really lift someone's spirit!

I am sure there are more ideas to think of, but this is a good list to get started with. I know some people do not celebrate this holiday and that is fine too. I think you should express your love and appreciation all year round and not just one day. However, some people think it is special day and want to celebrate accordingly. Just do it cheaply!

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en


Hallowe'en is so much fun! I love seeing all the kiddos dressed up in costumes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin flavored everything, and the creativity that is part of it all. I think I even like Hallowe'en a little more than Christmas, but that may be because I don't like all the commercialism that goes with Christmas!

Hallowe'en can be done frugally, very frugally. For several years, we have not bought many costumes nor spent a lot for decorations. I am not one to put out many (if any) holiday decorations, but my kids do put out a few as does my mother. That decorating gene skipped a generation in me.

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en

Paige's costume was a cat. Grandma made the headband and tail. The rest we had!

1. Make your own costumes. This may be a "duh" thing, but so many people find it easier to buy the costumes (including me). However, my girls would use their play clothes as costumes and love it. My mom made them costumes a couple times. We also passed costumes down from kid to kid and borrowed costumes from others. We also bought two non-gender specific costumes when they were babies and toddlers that all my kids wore. The first year they were Pooh and the second year they were Tigger.

Dane decided to be many different superheroes in one. Paige was a ladybug. Part of her costume was purchased and part of it was things we had.

2. If you have to buy a Hallowe'en costume, wait until they are 40-50% off or raid your local thrift shop. Also, buy the costume a size or two too big. That way you can get two years or more out of the costume. My kids would also add their costumes to the dress up box and wear them all year round. You might as well get your money's worth out of them.

3. Make your own masks for Hallowe'en. In Iowa, the weather is rather unpredictable at Hallowe'en time. We could have warm, mild weather and we could have a very cold, breezy weather. Sometimes the kids are so bundled up that it isn't worth dressing up in a costume. Just wearing a mask makes sense. You can use flexible cardboard, brown paper bags, some elastic to hold it on, and let the kids decorate it however they want.

4. Use cloth grocery bags for trick and treat bags. Seriously, these bags are the bomb! They don't rip easily. They can handle being dragged by your kids walking down the sidewalk. They can hold a lot of weight. If you are concerned about the colors of the bags not being right, use black, orange, or purple ones. However, I am not worried about such things.

5. Make your own treats. I know this might not work in a big city, but in our small community we can get away with this. Make popcorn balls, trail mix, cookies, or something small to give as treats. Give out apples or oranges if you are thinking healthy. You can also make a small treat that is non-food or a tag for a pencil. Use your imagination, but you do not have to buy bags of candy. (Yes I know there is a stigma about homemade treats, but you should only be trick and treating at homes of people you trust anyway.)

6. Have a truck and treat. If you don't want to spend long hours walking or driving around, gather a group of friends into a big driveway or parking lot. Most people decorate their car trunks and have the kids go around getting treats. Sometimes they also play games, have some drinks like apple cider or punch, and maybe even a potluck. You only have to have a certain amount of treats and you save money on fuel. To me, this sounds like a lot of fun!

7. Carve and/or decorate pumpkins. This is one of those things that can be incredibly messy, but fun! You don't need to have carving kits to do this. You can find patterns online for free if you want to go that direction. You can use paint or markers. I would wait to do this though until the week of Hallowe'en. The pumpkins can deteriorate quickly if done earlier. If the pumpkins are still in good shape after Hallowe'en, you can cut them in half and roast them for them. The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten. The pumpkin pulp can be used in cookies, pies, muffins, etc.

8. Choose an area that you can walk to all the house you want to go to for trick and treating. Driving around and stopping a lot wastes a lot of gas. We live in the country and usually head to the closest small community. Very few of my neighbors have treats for trick and treating so this works well for us.

9. Have supper ready to go when you get home from trick and treating. I usually have something in the oven or in the slow cooker. This will help you avoid going out for supper because you are tired. It will also help the kids absorb the sugar better instead of bouncing off the walls all night. Better yet, they will eat less candy because they ate a filling meal.

10. Decorate with items that can be used longer than Hallowe'en. I have a tendency to decorate for fall rather than Hallowe'en. I use pumpkins, candles, runners, and maybe corn stalks. I like to decorate for several months at once and use things that can be reused or made into food later. I don't use gourds as I find them a waste (what do you do with them afterwards?). Most of my decorations are either given to me or I get for free. Just ask around for pumpkins or let your kids go on 4-H trips to the local pumpkin patch. They also come home with one or two.

That is how we celebrate Hallowe'en frugally! What ideas do you have?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day...

...And this is a holiday that I don't care for.

Commercials proclaiming "Show her your love on this special day." Really? If you really are in love, shouldn't you be showing her or him your love everyday?

To me, love is not flowers, jewelry, expensive clothes, expensive dinners, and whatnot. Those things are nice and can show appreciation, but to me they do not show love.

Love is changing the oil in the car, changing the light bulb when it goes out, fixing the door, holding hands, an occasional hug, a just because card, fixing dinner for the other or together, calling just because, laughing together, and all the other everyday things that happen.

Love is appreciating the person beside you by doing the little things for them. 

Love is showing someone everyday you care.

Love is going through a tough time together and becoming stronger because you did together. 

Love is buying them Caramel De-Lites because you know they love them (yes he did love them!).

Love is running out to get ice cream because she is craving some at the moment (yes he did that!).

I used to work for a florist. That should just about sum up why I don't like the holiday, but that is not all. I would see guys buy expensive flowers just because it was Valentine's Day. I would see that same couple the next day yelling and screaming at each other. I would see guys buy their wives flowers and having an affair behind their back. I would see people buying expensive flowers when they didn't have the money for them, but they were expected to buy them.

Money and things are not love.

Don't get me wrong, I love flowers! I don't want those flowers just because it is a holiday to show his love. I want those flowers because he was thinking of me and thought I would like them. I want them because he could afford a little something extra and he thought of me. I want them because he thought I needed cheering up and that would do it.

Every day should be Valentine's Day.

Every day you should show that someone you love them, care for them, appreciate them, and are thinking about them.

Make every day Valentine's Day!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 1

As I mentioned in the Christmas in September post last week, we will be getting ready for Christmas one week at a time! We have plenty of time, we just need to get it planned!

This week we will be doing a couple of things. None of them are too difficult and will help you keep it altogether!

First, find yourself a notebook to write in. This can be anything that contains paper! You might want a small notebook that you can fit into your purse or a school notebook that is big enough to not lose. You can use an old notebook or a new notebook. Whatever floats your boat! Just make sure there is plenty of paper so you can keep multiple years in the notebook.

Next, in that notebook, I want you to write down anyone you need or want to buy Christmas presents for. If you have birthdays coming up, you may want to write down those too so you can keep the birthday gifts separate from Christmas gifts. Paige's birthday is right before Christmas so I find including her birthday keeps me sane and makes certain I have enough gifts for her.

Since I give four presents for each kid for Christmas and birthdays, I number four lines for each kid. That way I don't lose track of what I have bought or overlook something. I also add a "stocking done" on a line for each kid so I can keep track of that too.

This is what my notebook page looks like:


Nothing fancy, but works great! This is the format I have been using for a few years now with excellent results!

That is it! Very simple start! If you want to get a jump start on next week, start a new page and jot down ideas about what you want to give as gifts.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Now that Christmas is over with...

We can get back to the daily life business that suits me so much better. I do apologize for the lack of Christmas posts this year and promise I will have some pre-written and ready to go for next year. I just was not in the Christmas spirit this year. I am not exactly sure how or why, but life sent us a few curve balls before Christmas that did not help. Namely sickness and a lot of doctor's visits.

Part of the problem may also be that I am not a traditionalist. I rarely remember what we did the year before to do again next year. I also like to try new things all the time (except change the furniture which is another post) so doing the same thing year after year does not always appeal to me. Some things do stay the same, however.

Christmas Eve will always be at my parents. We do a birthday lunch because my dad and my Paige have birthdays on the 22nd and my niece has a birthday on the 14th of the next month. After lunch, we start with birthday presents and then go to Christmas presents. Supper is usually leftovers from dinner because we are all stuffed from lunch and the goodies put out after lunch. Supper also becomes optional. But the apple did not fall far from the tree here either. Rarely do things happen the same twice at my parents for various reasons. Things get forgotten. People can't remember what was done the year before. But it is all good.

Christmas morning is at home. I did insist upon this from the time Jordan was a baby. With Shali, I really didn't think it was too big of a deal to have our family Christmas wherever we landed. When Jordan was born, I decided that we would have our own Christmas in our own home Christmas morning. I like the consistency of this as well as having our own time as a family. I have no idea how I will address this when the kids get married and have lives of their own, but that is in the future and not now.

We usually have breakfast of French toast and, sometimes, apple fritters, on Christmas morning. French toast is a family favorite and very easy to do in the morning. Apple Fritters is a recipe from my great-grandmother and are delicious! I love them. I didn't get them made this year, but there is always New Years Day! Maybe with Lemon Ricotta Beignets....yum!

Christmas lunch may be at home or the kids may go to their other grandparents. Afternoon and supper may also be at home with company. Now that we have entered the realm of dating, sometimes the girls have gone to their boyfriend's family Christmas celebrations. This is actually fairly new for us and I am still adjusting a bit because I would just like to have everyone home!

The kids will have Christmas this weekend with their father, grandparents, and the rest of the family as well as a birthday celebration for the birthdays that are around Christmas. Hopefully, I will be starting to feel a little better and I will be out of town for the weekend.

I am grateful that Paige took the initiative to get the house decorated for Christmas. Although she swears she did not use every ornament and decoration we have, the house seems to say something else. Christmas baking did not get done at all due to the illness and busyness of our schedule. Jordan and I made our annual right before Christmas shopping trip. We went on the 23rd and found some excellent deals for presents. I thought we would be battling crowds more, but they were not too bad.

Now that the actual holiday is over, but the twelve days of Christmas are not, I am looking towards next year as well as looking back over the last year. While I am not trying to borrow trouble, I do see some troublesome things coming on the horizon for the country and think we may see some problems. I am also looking towards things we need to get done as a family as well as things I would like to post here. I am also looking for ways to make this blog more user-friendly and what I envision this blog to be.

Thank you to all of you who follow this faithfully and put up with my randomness as well as my busy schedule. I have several articles written already for this next year and I can't wait to share them with you! We do go through some changes in our household and I have changed some of the ways we do things so I will be sharing those with you as well.

Happy New Years to You All and Thanks for Reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Peppermint-Mini Marshmallow Bark

Today's holiday recipe is one that we discovered last year and fell in love with. I will not claim it is healthy, but we all know that mint is palate cleanser! (hehehe!) This recipe is from the Food Network and all honors shall go to them!

Peppermint-Mini Marshmallow Bark 

1 pound white chocolate  
1/2 cup chopped peppermints  
1/2 cup mini marshmallows 
    Line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out the creases. Make sure all your tools are dry. 

    Chop the white chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces with a large knife. Place all but 1 cup of the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until melted, 3 to 5 minutes total. Immediately add the reserved chopped chocolate to the bowl; stir vigorously until melted and shiny. Don't worry if there are a few small unmelted pieces. 

    Pour the white chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread it into a 10-to-12-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. 

    Press the peppermints and marshmallows into the chocolate, arranging them so each bite has a mix of flavors and textures. Let the bark harden completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. (If the room is warm, you may need to freeze the bark for a few minutes.) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks. 

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Crispy Covered Marshmellows

    This recipe is again from my mom. I am not sure where she got the recipe, but I love these too.

    Warning!!! There is nothing healthy or naturally good about this recipe. This is just pure sinful deliciousness!

    Crispy Covered Marshmellows

    20-24 ounces large puffed marshmellows, frozen on a tray
    13 ounce box Rice Crispies

    Heat together using a double boiler:
      1 can sweetened condensed milk
      40 caramels
      1 cup butter

    When the mixture is heated through and caramels are melted, dip the marshmellows in caramel sauce using a fork. Then roll the marshmellows in the Rice Crispies. Set the covered marshmellows on waxed paper until cool.

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Molasses Cookies

    This recipe was passed down from my Great-Grandmother Youde through the generations to me! I am very thankful for the wonderful recipes that get passed down for us to enjoy.


    Molasses Cookies

    3/4 cup shortening or butter (my preference)
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    4 Tablespoon molasses

    2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ginger

    Mix the first five ingredients together by first creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the egg, salt, and molasses. Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.

    Roll dough into the size of a walnut, dip in sugar, and place on the ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls on dough with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7-8 minutes. Do not overbake! Let cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan to a cooling rack.

    For a holiday cookies, these can not be beat! I love Molasses Cookies! Soft and chewy, yum!

    Thanks for reading,
    Erica

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Pumpkin Cookies

    Over the next week, I want to share some of my favorite Christmas recipes. One of my most favorite holiday cookies is Pumpkin Cookies. These are simple cookies, but really yummy! This recipe came from my mom!

    Jordan and my Mom!

    Pumpkin Cookies

    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup pumpkin
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt

    Alternatives:
    For the gluten-free crowd, I have on good authority that you can substitute the flour with one cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour and one cup of coconut flour. 
    Instead of just cinnamon, you can substitute with pumpkin pie seasoning. (Delish!)

    Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the pumpkin and vanilla to the creamed mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. 

    Drop 1 teaspoon size balls of dough on a preheated cookie heat. Bake for 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack or on a brown paper sack. 

    We like to frost our pumpkin cookies. This is the frosting recipe. Sorry I don't have a better sounding or healthier recipe. If you have a frosting recipe that would work with these, please let me know!

    Frosting for Pumpkin Cookies

    3 cups powdered sugar
    1 tsp. butter
    2-3 drops of maple flavoring
    enough milk to make smooth (only add a tablespoon or two of milk at a time. This comes together very quickly!)

    Combine sugar, butter, and maple flavoring. Add milk to get the right consistency. Frost pumpkin cookies. 

    This recipe is very flexible so make substitutions that work for you. I use unbleached all-purpose flour, but I plan to substitute one cup of wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. I also use sea salt instead of regular table salt. 

    Sorry about the lack of pictures. Jordan has made the last several batches and she doesn't take pictures as she bakes. Besides that, the mess she creates would make most people shudder.

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Give The Gift of Books This Christmas!

    One of the few Christmas traditions I have set is giving books for Christmas presents to my kids. I love, love, love to read and I wanted to pass that on to my kids. They now love to read also! I usually give them 4-6 books every year and most of the time they have them read by the end of Christmas vacation. I think that is great because that means they were not in front of the screen as much.

    Books can be expensive when purchased new! Holy smokes! But I have a few tricks to giving books at Christmas while cutting the cost of the books.

    1. Scour your local thrift and consignments shops. Many, many good deals out there on almost brand new books and they cost about a quarter of the original price or less. My kids do not care if the books are brand new - they just want to read the book!

    2. Shop Half.com, Ebay, and Amazon for books. I can find books on these sites very cheaply. Again, I do not buy brand new books unless they are for sale for $1.50 or less. I find great deals on books especially hard to find books.

    3. Buy books they will want to read. Find books that cater to their interests. Find out their favorite authors and look for those books. If you buy books that do not interest them, they will not read them. I want them to read so I find books they want to read. For example, Dane is really into Star Wars right now so I bought him Star Wars books. He will love them and he will be reading them!

    4. Buy from school book orders. If you can get your school and/or teacher to do this, buy from the book orders from Scholastic Books. They have a lot of books at great deals and the school usually get free books also. A win-win situation!

    5. Give a magazine! Magazine subscriptions are great gifts and they will be the gift that will keep giving. If you watch sites such as Moms Need To Know, you can find year-long magazine subscriptions for as little as $5.00 or less a year! Great deal!

    Give your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, whoever books for a gift! They will not be disappointed!

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

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