Category Archives: holidays

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Help

Do you still have shopping to do? Has the time passed so quickly that you find yourself scrambling to get your Christmas shopping done? Or have you waited until the last minute to get your shopping done? Either way your probably a little stressed at the moment and need some help to get your shopping done. Below are some helpful hints to get you prepared for Christmas day.

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  1. Something I find super helpful and easy to get, send electronic gift certificates or gift cards. No need to even go to the store, you can print them at home or email them to your recipient. Amazon.com can help you with all your e gift cards.
  2. Buy gift cards. You may have to take a trip to the store to get these but you usually can get a number of different gift cards at supermarkets, so you only  need to stop at one place to find all the gift cards you need.
  3. There are upsides to waiting until the last minute, you can shop with little or no lines and crowds, and the sales become much better the day before Christmas. So save money and don’t fight the crowds if you wait until Dec. 24.
  4. Another easy quick to purchase gift is magazine subscriptions. All you need to do is buy a current issue of the magazine and wrap that up with a note that says their subscription will start in the next month.
  5. Make some coupons to give out to your friends and family. Giving of your time and services is a great gift to receive and an easy one to prepare and give.

Holiday Meat Reheating Instructions

Another set of helpful tips from Whole Foods. Left overs are a way of life during the holidays, but a lot of people have no idea how to correctly reheat their meat.

Pre-roasted and Smoked Whole Turkeys – If the turkey has been slow roasted until it is fully cooked, all you need to do is heat and serve as follows: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove turkey from bag and place in a roasting pan. Roast for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until hot and nicely browned.

Pre-roasted Turkey Breast – If the turkey breast has been slow roasted until it is fully cooked, all you need to do is heat and serve as follows: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove turkey breast from bag, place in a roasting pan with a small amount of chicken stock and cover with aluminum foil. Heat until warmed.

Spiral Ham -Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove from bag and place on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil and heat until ham reaches an internal temperature 155 degrees F. Remove from oven and let rest 20 minutes before serving.

Boneless Prime Rib – Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Pour Au Jus into bottom of roasting pan. Place the Seared Prime Rib into roasting pan and then place in oven. Cook the roast for approximately 55 minutes for “Rare” and an additional 15 minutes longer for each increment of doneness. Use a probe thermometer to check the desired temperature.

  • 120-130 degrees F. = Rare
  • 130-140 degrees F. = Medium
  • 150-160 degrees F. = Medium well
  • 160 degrees F + = Well done

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Remove and strain Au Jus from pan to serve with prime rib.

5 Tips to Keep you Safe While Driving this Holiday Season

Last year we did a post on ways to keep you safe while driving this holiday season. I think it has important tips and it never hurts to be reminded. So from December 19, 2008 here are 5 Tips to keep you safe while driving this holiday season.

Holiday get-togethers and parties are what make Christmas such a fun time of year. We see friend and family we haven’t seen all year, we get to enjoy wonderful food and enjoy the beauty of the snow. But all these things can turn into tragedies when people are killed or injured in traffic accidents.

Here are 5 tips to keep you safe while driving this holiday season:

1. Don’t drive while eating, drinking or talking on your cell phone. Winter weather is hard enough without those distractions. If you need to use the cell phone, pull over to a safe spot(rest stop or wide shoulder) to use your cell phone.

2. Always wear a seat belt and make sure every passenger in your car is wearing one too. Remember the rear seat is the safest place for children of any age to sit.

3. Do not drive when you are drowsy. Take a nap before you head out or pull over to a safe rest stop (not on the highway) to take the edge off your exhaustion.

4. Be flexible with your travel plans! Leave early to avoid the peak traffic hours. If snow is predicted during the time you plan to travel, change your schedule. It is better to reschedule your get-together then to risk the lives of traveling family or friends.

5. Be a designated driver and Dont Drink and Drive! Offer your services as a designated driver and keep drinkers off the roads. If you are drinking, give up your keys. Even one or two glasses of wine or beer can greatly impede your driving ability, especially in bad weather.

Holiday 2009 Turkey Cooking Tips

Christmas dinnerIf you are making turkey for Christmas you may have some questions about the best way to handle and cook it. Below are some tips from Whole Foods Market that can help make your holiday meal the best it can be.

  1. Refrigerate a fresh turkey immediately.
  2. Remove a turkey from the refrigerator about an hour before placing it in the oven.
  3. Don’t stuff the bird! It’s best to cook the stuffing and the bird separately and stuff once both are fully cooked. his method reduces baking time as well.
  4. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
  5. Allow bird to rest (covered) for about 20 minutes after cooking. This redistributes the juices and makes for smooth carving.

Tools to have on hand:

  • Heavy duty roasting pan with rack to keep the turkey from resting on the bottom of your pan.
  • Trussing string to tie the turkey legs together.
  • Aluminum foil to cover turkey when cooling.
  • Wooden spoon & large metal spoon.
  • Fat separator for a leaner gravy.
  • Basting brush to baste turkey with melted butter, or bulb baster for basting with pan juices.
  • 8-cup measuring cup.
  • Fine sieve for straining pan juices.
  • Wire whisk for making gravy.
  • Good quality carving set.
  • Instant-read meat thermometer.
  • Apron

Handpresso – Premium Quality Espresso Anywhere

Handpresso would make a great Christmas gift for the hard to buy for or for the espresso lover in your life.

Reasons why Handpresso is the perfect travel espresso maker:

  • Travels with you
  • Makes perfect coffee
  • Enhances the coffee experience
  • Packs away
  • Helps the planet

Check out Handpresso for yourself, just click here.

6 Surefire Ways to Save Money this Christmas

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Make a Budget – Once you set a budget, stick to it. Figure out how much you can spend realistically this year on Christmas. Once you figure that out, decide how to split it between each recipient.
Pay Cash – Whatever you do, if at all possible, do not use credit cards. Paying with cash will make you think before you buy and you will have to figure out if its worth spending the money on the item you are  buying.
Make your own Gifts – It doesn’t have to be tough to make your own gifts. There are many easy projects out there, even ones for the kids to make. And what grandparent wouldn’t love a homemade gift from their grand-kids? And save even more money by using things you already have at home, scrap material, old clothes, glass jars all are great things to stash away for Christmas gifts.
Track your Spending – Make sure you keep track of what you spend. It might be worth it to get a little notebook to keep receipts or just to write down what you bought so you know when you have hit your limit. You can also refer to it when you are getting ready to spend money.
Buy used if you can – Buying used doesn’t mean you aren’t giving the best. Some used, like for instance on Amazon, are as good as new. Check out the deals on Craigslist too. But always check and make sure it works before you buy anything. Ask if you can plug the item in if electrical and check out everything before you buy.
Wrap with magazines or newspaper – This is not the biggest money saver  but it does save enough to make it worth the effort. Try making your own bows, its easy and all you need is magazines and staples. Make your own wrapping paper from shopping bags or newspaper.

10 Tips For Staying Thin During The Holidays

ThanksgivingFeastTomorrow is one of my favorite days in the whole year. A day of Thanksgiving with family and friends, enjoying everything that we’ve been given, including wonderful foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and so much more. What a great day to sit back and eat more than one could hardly bear!

Someone told me yesterday that the average person gains 5-8 lbs. over the holiday season. As I am continuing working on losing weight over the next year, I do not want to gain back the weight that I have worked hard to lose over the last few months. I’m hoping to simply ‘break even’ and consider that a success for the holidays.

So what are some ways that I (and you if you’re in my boat) can keep the holiday weight off? Here’s ten things I’m going to try:

1. Control My Portions:
Probably my biggest issue. I can enjoy more of the variety of holiday foods if I eat less of them in their portions. I have to get over my goal-oriented sense of eating and simply enjoy the food, but in smaller portions.

2. Lighten the Load:
Many of the holiday foods can be made with less sugar and fat. Here are some suggestions:
# Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
# Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
# Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
# Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.

3. Eat Breakfast:
I know this seems counter-productive, but having a little food in your stomach when the big meal comes helps one control their cravings better and keeps you from overeating. It also prevents your body from storing your Thanksgiving feast into more fat because you’re not eating on a consistent basis.

4. Save Your Seconds:
Try to eat everything you need and want in one helping and resist going back for seconds. Save them for leftovers the next day, when you can enjoy them more and feel like you’ve overeaten less.

5. Get Active:
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your favorite foods, suggests Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, former president of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). “‘Eat less and exercise more’ is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays,” Diekman says. “Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and especially the day of the feast.

6. Slowly Savor:
Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food, experts say. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.

7. Spread out the food and fun all day long:
Rather than eating all of the food in one hour, enjoy your meal throughout the day. Take a walk in between the meal and dessert, put out appetizers before the main meal, you will be able to enjoy the food over a longer period of time and keep curb your appetite more effectively.

8. Be Realistic:
Switch from a mindset of ‘weight loss’ to ‘weight maintenance’ over the holiday season.

9. Focus on the Holiday Foods:
Save room (and calories) for the foods that only come around once a year! Don’t waste tons of calories and space on foods that you can eat any time of the year.

10. Focus on Family and Friends:
While the food of the holidays is tough to beat, the real focus during this holiday season should be on people. Spend time with family and friends, give to the poor and the hungry, and remind yourself that its about so much more than great food.

Good luck in your battle! Happy Thanksgiving!

Don’t Fall for Black Friday Deals

Last year on November 26 I wrote this post and wanted to give you a recap in case you are thinking of stepping out on that fateful day to buy something you really don’t need.

From Nov. 26, 2008:

Black Friday is just 2 days away. Most people check out the ads on Thanksgiving day to see what great deals are out there and how much money they can save. This will probably be the first year that I don’t go out and buy anything. Last year I made it only to one store to get some half price socks, I am excited to stay away completely this year.

Over at MainStreet.com is an article about Black Friday, The Money Snapping Secrets of Black Friday Sales. I was intrigued by what Jeffery had to say about Black Friday. Here are 8 reasons, he gives, why you should skip the Black Friday Hubbub.

  • You don’t need any of it.
  • You Can Use the time better.
  • You wont get what you went for.
  • The Black Friday experts already have won the game.
  • You’ll buy things you never intended to buy.
  • You’ll forget to calculate the true cost.
  • That price might not be that great.
  • You can do it from home.

Remember that this holiday was created to lure customers. If you want to make it through the holidays debt-free, make sure and stick to your budget and going out to the sales on Black Friday may make that much more difficult.

10 Frugal Holiday Party Tips

711083_56975192A successful party doesn’t depend on the amount of money you spend. You can have a successful fun party if you spend time thinking and letting your creativity flow.

1. Serve ordinary drinks in pretty stemware garnered from thrift shops (they needn’t match) – and garnish them with extraordinary, yet simple, touches. Frugal Luxuries by Tracey Mcbride.

2. Have a potluck, its not only cheap its tasty too. Ask each guest to bring their favorite dish.

3. Some people think there needs to be many desserts to choose but most of the time more than half is left over. Cut down on the desserts and the money spent by making one or two desserts.

4. Stop cooking appetizers if you are having a meal, this is an extra step that is not needed.

5. Skip the bar tab and have each guest bring their favorite bottle of wine. Just specify it on the invite “Bring your favorite bottle of vino to share!”. 5 Frugal Yet Fab Holiday Party Tips – Ezine Articles.

6. Save money and be environmentally friendly by using your own dishes and silverware. F is for Frugal – Blissfully Domestic.

7. Make sure and have music playing in the background, it adds a festive touch to any event.

8. Bring the outdoors in to decorate with – Pine cones, evergreen clippings, and holly all make great holiday decorations and as an added bonus they make the house smell great.

9. Make your own invitations and hand deliver them to save on postage.

10. Borrow from friends any items you may be lacking, such as casserole dishes, serving trays and large punch bowls.

10 Holiday Savings Tips

Christmas BaubleCan you believe it, Halloween is come and gone and we are staring straight into the eyes of what we like to call ‘The Holidays”! Yikes! Yes in the past I was always ready for this time of year with not much to do but this year I have a lot left undone, and not much money to do it in. If you are in that same boat check out the tips below and start saving money today.

1. Save money on stamps by sending Christmas postcards. And only send them to the people you would like to get in touch with the most.

2. Using the Christmas cards you received last year you can make your own postcards – saving on the price of the postcards.

3. Make your own bows from newspaper and magazines – Click here for easy gift bow instructions.

4. Wrap your gifts in what you already have – left over material(you can even cut up old clothes you don’t wear), magazine ads, newspaper funnies, and old wrapping paper.

5. Make your own gift tags – cut up old Christmas card, you can even use a deck of cards like they did here.

6. Decorate with what you already have. Hang up your Children’s art work, fill a glass bowl with old bulbs or pine cones, string popcorn and cranberries to hang on the tree and along the fire mantel, use pine tree clipping for decoration and as a bonus it will make the house smell beautiful.

7. When looking for gifts, check out your local Goodwill, a lot of times you will find brand new merchandise from Target or other well known stores that donate their over merchandise. The cost of these brand new items are usually only a couple dollars.

8. Make your own gifts. There are so many easy fun project for the whole family to make and homemade is always best.

9. Save on shipping and deliver gifts in person when you can.

10. Always pay with cash, you will buy only the necessities because watching cash leave your hands is much harder then using the credit card.