Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Support the Local Economy!

The next time you're thinking about going out for a date, think twice about driving far away. Get to know your local area instead! Try passing up the chain restaurants for a local place. While you're out, check out the specialty gift shops in lieu of the big box stores. They often have great sales this time of year and offer unique gifts that you won't find just anywhere. The date will be even less expensive if you're not driving as far (gas) or paying as much for a sitter because you had to drive further! I know a lot of folks who have to drive at least 30 miles from their small town to the next larger city. All this said, you are supporting your local businesses in the process! Here's the cost savings of staying closer to home if you normally drive 30 miles away for a date:

Gas: $4.88 each way=$9.76  (Assuming you get 20 miles/gallon, gas cost $3.25/gallon)
Childcare: $10 (Assuming you pay $10 per hour)
Total savings: $19.76

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hand Scrub Gift Idea

This hand scrub is the best! I just tried out a batch and have decided that I will keep it by my kitchen sink as a permanent fixture. It literally takes 2 minutes to make! Whip up a batch and give to a teacher, neighbor, or friend. Pair with gardening gloves, seeds, and a trowel or watering cant for the gardening enthusiast in your life. Give with a loofah sponge and body lotion for a spa-themed gift. Please bear with my poor photos- I made a batch first thing after waking up today!

What you'll need:
Dish soap
Essential oil

Fill jar that you'll be using with sugar and pour into bowl. Add enough soap to reach desired consistency. Add several drops of essential oil. Stir and scoop into jar.

*Tie with twine or ribbon and top with a handmade tag

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I will be back on Monday with Christmas gift ideas, decorations, recipes, and more. Have a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you are on the road or skies!
*Don't forget to take advantage of photo opportunites this weekend for your Christmas card!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Recipe

Is anyone looking for a sweet potato recipe that isn't swimming in butter and shellacked with sugar? I invented this yummy recipe last week and thought I'd share it just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Moved over pureed sweet potato mush... your more shapely, grown-up cousin has arrived!

Roasted Cranberry Sweet Potatoes
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2-1 cup whole cranberry sauce (depends on how sweet you like them)

  • Place sweet potatoes on a sprayed cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat.
  • Roast in 450* oven for about 40 minutes or til' almost cooked through (still a little firm).
  • Combine cranberry sauce with orange juice and toss with sweet potatoes.
  • Roast 10 minutes longer
  • Devour.
*Add orange zest for extra flavor
*Makes 6-8 servings

Friday, November 18, 2011

Black Friday Preview

For those of you who love the Black Friday bargains, check out this website: http://gottadeal.com/blackfriday/ for a sneak peek at the sale ads. For everyday deals, look at http://www.wisebread.com/ and http://slickdeals.net/. Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy plotting your course!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Gift Ideas

  • Have volunteer trees springing up in your yard? Pot up and give saplings (You can start them in the spring for bigger trees or dig up larger saplings in the fall.)
  • Give a bath salt soak made with Epsom salts and essential oil along with a "recipe" of how to make it.
  • Have kids memorize poem or song for parent
  • Give a photo calender and fill in with birthdays & personal messages such as: today is the first day of spring, make dinner reservations your anniversary is tomorrow, the pool opens in a month do sit ups
  • Babysitting "vouchers" for friends
  • Make a homemade castle out of a fridge box (My parents did something similar to this when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite gifts of all time!)
  • If you're giving a large or really exciting gift, tie a long string to the gift and hide it. On the other end of the string, leave a note instructing the recipient to follow the string to find the gift. The excitement builds as they follow the string from room to room or even outside! This is another one of my most memorable gifts- our uncle did this with a trampoline, hidden behind the garage!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Easy Salad Transport

The next time you have to transport a salad, try this handy trick! Layer the ingredients in the bowl in this order for a fresh, wilt-free salad:
  1. Salad dressing
  2. Softer veggies such as peppers, celery, cucumbers, and olives
  3. Crunchy hard veggies such as carrots
  4. Cheese
  5. Lettuce
This will stay fresh and crunchy for 12 hours! Just toss together when you're ready to serve. I tried this last week and it worked beautifully. It's also a great way to pack a lunch. Just pack some large disposable plastic drinking cups to serve the salad once it's tossed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Recycled Christmas Gift Ideas

Ok ya'll, until I get my act together and have time to post some new gift ideas, here are some ideas from previous posts. I've put all of the gift idea links in this post so you don't have to hunt! Take a look:
1.) Gifts using essential oils! Check out the link for a quick tutorial on homemade bath salts: http://savvynest.blogspot.com/2010/02/favorite-2-essential-oils.html
2.) http://savvynest.blogspot.com/2010/08/gift-ideas.html
3.) http://savvynest.blogspot.com/2010/08/gift-ideas-continued.html
4.) http://savvynest.blogspot.com/2010/08/last-of-gifts.html
5.) http://savvynest.blogspot.com/2010/12/more-gift-giving.html

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A word about gift cards...

As we all know from giving and receiving, gift cards are the gift that never go out of style. Now is the time to be thinking about getting them for Christmas. November and December are when stores and companies start to offer ways for you to earn gift cards. By taking advantage, you can give a host of gift cards this year without actually buying a single one! For example, last week and this week, CVS has a deal going on where you can earn a $10 gift card for every $30 you spend on participating products. Gift card rewards for daily exercise from some insurance companies, credit card and diaper code point accumulation, and collection of UPCs from select products are other ways to earn gift cards. So keep an eye out for ways to earn those gift cards and save yourself a bundle this Christmas!

What card for whom?
Men: sporting goods stores, outdoor stores, home improvement stores
Women: clothing stores, spas, department stores,
Teens: gas cards, clothing stores, movies, itunes
Kids: toy stores, Target
Good for everyone: restaurant cards, movie cards, amazon.com cards

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas Prep

Now is the time to start planning your Christmas newsletter (if you write one, of course). Don't get caught the night before you want to mail it trying desperately to think of what the heck you did this year! Procrastinating on this one will suck the Christmas cheer right out of you and your letter. Start thinking now of what you'd like to share, and be ready with your camera for great family shots. The more current the better. By getting a head start, your letter and photos will be much more natural and relevant. Being relieved of this duty when the holiday season begins to get hectic will give you some much-needed breathing room.

*I speak from experience. We have graced several Christmas cards with fake smiles plastered onto our strained faces due to a frustrating last-minute photo shoot. In the dark. With a blinding flash. And a seething dog wearing antlers, thinking murderous thoughts. Trust me, it isn't pretty!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oatmeal Ideas

Today's breakfast: oatmeal with apple crisp
Oatmeal is a super food. Loaded with soluble fiber, protein, and whole grain, we should all be eating it more often. One of its most desirable features is, you guessed it, it's cheap. It only costs a few cents per serving! The problem for me is the consistency. I used to choke it down, knowing how good it was for me, but with these new ideas, it is a much more "palatable" experience. My sis, the dietitian gave a host of oatmeal ideas to me and I'd like to share them with you! These add-ins can make oatmeal a favorite breakfast for kids too:
Peanut butter
Cobbler (use remnants of last night's apple crisp or fruit cobbler)
Cranberry sauce
Maple syrup
Pumpkin (be sure to add some spices with this one)
Cinnamon in a shaker
Seasonal sprinkles
Fresh or frozen berries
Chopped fruit
Raisins or craisens

Liquids to cook your oatmeal in to add extra flavor:
Soy milk
Almond milk

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Soap Test

Did you know that most of us are probably using too much laundry detergent? A friend of mine shared this tip with me that she learned from a water testing specialist. Take a washcloth that has been laundered and let it sit in a bowl of tap water for about 5 minutes. When time is up, wring out the cloth and look at the water in the bowl. It will probably have soap in it! Imagine how our skin must feel! Apparently, most of us only need to use half of the suggested amount of laundry detergent that the manufacturer recommends. Try cutting the amount in half and re-test a washcloth. If there are still soap bubbles or residue, try halving the amount again. I've been using half for a while and haven't noticed any change in cleaning power. Not only will your skin thank you, you'll get more for your money too!