My kids and I love Halloween. There’s just something fun about dressing up, but costumes from the store are not cheap (they’re typically not good quality either). While a store bought costume can give you a lot of options and is certainly the fastest way to get a costume, with a little preplanning you can create something cool and fun.
Some of the best costumes can be make from clothes you already have or inexpensively from thrift stores. Because I sew, over the years I’ve had some extravagant costumes (that weren’t very cheap but made a huge impact), to fun costumes that cost under $10.
Thrift stores typically have a rack of costumes near the front of the store right now, although I find most are for younger children where I’ve shopped.
Red Riding Hood (just need a red cape and just about any “little girl” clothes and a wicker basket. I made my cape, but you can check thrift stores or halloween shops for an inexpensive one. Everything else I already owned.
Dorothy from the wizard of oz. Red shoes, a denim skirt, plain blouse and a basket with a small stuffed dog inside, you’re set to go. I had long hair at the time that was perfect for pigtails. If you don’t a simple wig from the halloween shop would create the perfect look. I didn’t glitter my red shoes or anything crazy. I already owned a pair of red pumps, my kids had plenty of stuff puppies to use, so there was no cost to this one.
“Biker Chick”. I already owned a black leather jacket that I no longer wore regularly but stuffed in the back of my closet for just these occassions. I found some fake full arm tattoos at the halloween shop (like a nylon for you arm.. they pulled up.. nothing to paste on or wash off). I also found some fake lip piercings that just hook on. I did buy a black punk-type wig, but these were my only purchases. Worn with jeans, a t-shirt, leather vest (which I also already owned from long ago), worn with some boots.
80′s rock/punk girl (aka, my madonna look). I found a pleated plaid skirt in the discount rack at walmart, worm with a regular black tank top and I bought a $2 pick t-shirt which I cut and ripped for that one shoulder punk look. I bit a tulle purchased from the fabric store (very inexpensive) make a “belt” and hair tie up. High heel black boots (already owned), bangle bracelets (left over from my teenage years in the 80′s) and some blue eyeshadow round out my “Desparately Seeking Susan”. Every teenage girl recognized me as an 80′s punk girl
When my children were young, we made costumes. About this time I would ask them what they wanted to be. Most of the time, they wanted to be something silly. If you sew, it’s amazing what you can create from a simple sweatshirt pattern.
A “candy bat”. Wings sewn into a sweatshirt. Even if you don’t sew, it’s pretty easy just to cut wings (search for patterns online for the general shape), and tack them to the sleeves.
The “Bad Humour Man”. My son wanted to be the ice cream man one year. I white shirt and white pants with a painters cap was all we needed for this one. I glued a felt patch over the paint stores logo that said “Bad Humour Man” (written in fabric paint). We made a custom trick or treat bag, also written in fabric paint with flavors like “Rocky Roach” and “Bloody Sunday”. Be creative.
Witch. You can get a pointy hat and small broom just about anywhere. A dark long dress and some accessories make a costume and can be reused. My daughter was a witch for several of the past years, but never looked quite the same.
Some other simple ideas… Hobo, Hippy, Clown, Ghost, Zombie, Vampire. You can find a lot of ideas online, and youtube is full of how-to videos for makeup tips for costumes.
If you’re going trick or treating with children, and have a dark costume, make sure there’s something bright on or near them. Either a glow in the dark bag, or something reflective on the costume itself (my son’s bat costume had reflective orange “veins” in the wings and he flapped while he ran (gotta love them when they’re little and full of energy).
I absolutely LOVE cookbooks. They are definitely my weakness… BUT… my husband HATES clutter. They’re so tempting sitting at the checkout aisle (they’re like candy), but I can’t tell you how many I bought, liked one or two recipes and never make the ones I do like regularly, so, I had wasted a lot of money on cookbooks.
My solution comes in many flavors.
1) The public library (this one is obvious) they have tons of cookbooks in many topics. My library is always getting new cookbooks and has a huge selection. I get one or two a week, photo copy the ones I like or think I’ll use.
2) This one might not be as obvious to everyone. E-books. A smartphone isn’t in my budget (I do get to use one for work and it’s opened my eyes to resources I might not otherwise have looked at).
(ARA) – Hectic schedules often make meal-related decisions a chore. And planning for a bigger family meal over the holidays just adds to the stress. Affordable and simpler shopping routines could help you start savoring family meal time again.
Regardless of whether you’re planning a holiday feast, a birthday celebration, or just day-to-day meals throughout the year, it’s easier and more cost effective if you go into grocery shopping prepared.
Consider these tips from national grocery retailer Save-A-Lot before your next shopping trip:
Create a weekly meal planner
Many grocery shoppers make the mistake of only planning for a big special meal when they can cut time and cost by planning for several. Think about what you and your family members typically consume each day. If there is a particular food item or meal idea that your whole family enjoys, make sure to stock up when it is on sale. Ask each family member to pick a meal for dinner.
Decide ahead of time how your family might want to use leftover meat or veggies from the meal, and buy extra ingredients to create new meals. For example, be sure to stock up on bread, mayonnaise, mustard and lettuce in advance if you plan to cook a turkey or ham for a holiday meal or Sunday dinner.
Keep track of ingredients to replenish
You’ve got everything laid out to make chocolate chip cookies, but you forgot to buy the baking soda – nothing is more frustrating than having to make a return trip to a store.
Keep track of ingredients you frequently use in your cooking. Then, as soon as you use up an item, immediately add it to your ongoing grocery list. By the end of the week, not only will your shopping list be complete, but also you won’t be stuck in the store trying to remember what is or is not in your cupboard. You also won’t be tempted to buy something you don’t need.
When cooking, be sure to use measuring utensils so you don’t use more ingredients than necessary – which can be costly to your family’s waistline and budget.
Visit grocery store websites for tools and deals
Grocery retailers frequently offer tips and tools for meal planning, as well as exclusive online bargains. Check to see if your store is offering discounts in exchange for signing up for their shopping clubs year round. For example, Save-A-Lot offers a $5 coupon for signing up for its Smart Shopper Club.
Take advantage of store brands
Many grocery stores offer their own exclusive brands of foods and everyday items, and frequently these items are of equivalent quality as more expensive national brand names. By using store brands, you can save a little money on your grocery bill and splurge on something special, such as a celebratory dessert. Store brands are great for helping to keep your weekly grocery costs down.
Simplify shopping trip
A popular strategy for many shoppers is to shop at several retailers throughout the week for bargains. While this approach may add up to a couple of cents saved on a receipt, it is quickly gobbled up in fuel costs as well as time. Instead, save both time and money by limiting shopping trips to one day a week or add a stop to the grocery store on the commute to or from work.
With these few simple tips, you’ll not only save money at the grocery store, but you’ll have more time to enjoy cooking and celebrating with those you love.
(NAPSI)—As the holidays get closer, it can be easy to feel like there is too much to do and too little time. Fortunately, there is no need to panic.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make the holidays simple and stress free, cutting down on chaos and making more time for what matters most: family and friends. Now is the best time to utilize your Amana brand appliances to make the mixing, cooking, prepping and baking easy. Here are some tips:
Start with smart planning. Two weeks before guests arrive, look over your recipes and write out your menu to make shopping quick, organized and easy. Stock up the week prior to the main event and store produce in your refrigerator crisper to keep it fresh.
Make as much as you can ahead of time. A week before the main event, take a closer look at the menu. What can you make ahead of time? Prep deli meats and cheeses and make what you can of your appetizers and even side dishes. Set them on a serving platter and store in the refrigerator. All you have to do is unwrap and serve when your guests arrive.
Make good use of your microwave. With your side dishes already prepped, pop them in the microwave so they’re ready to serve in seconds. Reheat as needed during your dinner and—of course—use your microwave when feasting on leftovers.
Let the freezer be your friend. Whether you’re hosting a big holiday dinner or bringing a dish to pass, if your schedule is hectic—fear not. Freeze cookies, dessert bars and breads. Thaw them out and you’re good to go. Keep a few extra batches on hand in the freezer during the busy holiday season and never be left empty handed.
Clean as you go. Just like whistling, try cleaning up while you work. Keep dishes moving from the counter to the dishwasher so they’re ready when you need them. It’ll keep you from facing a mountain of cleanup at the end of the night.
With a head start on holiday planning, entertaining friends and family couldn’t be any easier or more enjoyable. And that’s really the whole point of the holidays.
It’s almost time for American thanksgiving and for those cooking the big meal, it’s time to start planning. Locally the frozen turkey’s are going on sale and if you’re buying locally fresh, don’t waste any time, they may already be sold out.
Make your list of main course(s), side dishes and desserts, check your pantry and make your shopping list of all the ingredients you’re going to need. This time of year, more than over makes it easy to overspend, and impulse buy, just adding unnecessary cost to your holidays (I couldn’t help buying leftover discounted halloween candy.. I’m a sucker for Laffy Taffy).
Many home made pies can be prepared in advance and frozen to help make the actual holiday less hectic (I cook the Christmas meal and personally, I like to put the turkey in the oven and crawl back in bed for an hour)
If you’re thinking of trying something new this year, now is the time to try it out in advance and if it’s not as good as you thought it would be, you still have time to adjust your menu and try again.
Are you making your centerpieces (or having the kids help), this is definitely a “do ahead” project and not a night before stress to think about.
#5 Begin to defrost your turkey on Thanksgiving morning. You know how magazines tend to exaggerate how long it takes to defrost and roast those little gobblers. And who cares if dinner’s not ready until 9:00 p.m.?
It’s that time again for many of us to “turn the clocks back” ending Daylight Saving Time. Your local fire department also reminds you that now is the time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. I know that batteries can be expensive. Look for coupons or special sales, but don’t skip this. With the holidays right around the corner and winter heating in full swing for many of us, fire risks are serious. If your battery operated smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace the entire smoke detector. Just like any piece of electronics, they wear out and don’t work as well (or at all). Simple smoke detectors can cost under $20 each and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can cost under $40 each. Replacing just one a year even on a tight budget is very do-able.
Smoke detectors are often your first chance at saving your property and maybe your life.
More information on fire safety:
Now is a great time to look at one more common household fire starter: your clothes dryer. Do you clean your lint trap after every load of laundry? That’s not the only place that link collects. Here’s an excellent video on how to clean your dryer.
Even if you don’t want to take your dryer completely apart, taking off the vent (the silver tube) and pulling out any visible lint is extremely easy in most cases and allows you to reach into the machine as well. You can a purchase dryer cleaning kit that allow you to vacuum out the inside of your dryer without removing screws and cover plates. I personally use one from Flylady.net that works very well for me.
(ARA) – Few things say “fall” like the crispness in the air, the bright colors of changing leaves and the warm, comforting foods that come with the season’s harvest. While the classic recipes that you rely on year after year will always have a place on your menus, simple twists on a beloved vegetable will keep everyone clamoring for a prime spot at the dinner table.
Seven unique potato types mean you can try a new one every day of the week for a fun and varied menu plan. Not only that, potatoes are a healthy addition to your menu. At just 110 calories per serving, they’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are a good source of potassium. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato has almost half your daily value of vitamin C, and no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
Try these recipes from www.potatogoodness.com to give your family new ways to enjoy a perennial favorite.
* Yellow potatoes – These buttery delights have smooth, golden flesh under a thin golden skin. They’re dense enough to stand up to grilling, and using that method will give you crispy skins and a hint of sweet, caramelized flavor. Recipe to try: Grilled Potato Planks.
* White potatoes – Varieties with light tan skin and creamy white flesh are a great choice for making classic mashed potatoes. Because their flesh is dense, it becomes thick and rich when mashed. Because the skin is thin, there’s no need to peel before mashing. Spice up your favorite mashed dish with new flavor additions. Recipe to try: Chipotle Mashed Potatoes.
* Russet potatoes – They’ve likely been a fixture on the dinner table since you were young, but russets have more to offer than just the basics. Indeed, they’re great for baking, because their flesh comes out light and fluffy, and the skin stays tasty and crisp. Recipe to try: Baked Potato Nachos.
* Petite potatoes – Kids love the mix of colors and adults love them for their concentrated flavor and quick cooking times. Prep is simple for potato salads – cook whole and unpeeled potatoes your preferred method until they’re fork-tender, toss with your favorite potato salad ingredients, and you’ll have a dish that tastes as good as it looks. Recipe to try: Red, White and Blue Potato Salad.
* Fingerlings – Small and slender, these are popular on the menus of gourmet restaurants throughout the country. A secret – they’re easy to cook at home, too. They come in a range of colors and have a firm texture that’s great for pan frying, which brings out their natural nutty or buttery tastes. Recipe to try: Pan Fried Fingerlings with Wild Mushroom Sauce.
* Purples – The vibrantly colored skin and flesh of these potatoes look like something out of your child’s favorite fantasy book, but they’re a healthy, delicious choice for everyday meals. They hold their shape well with cooking and their nutty flavor is a unique addition to salads or other side dishes. Recipe to try: Blackened Blue Potato Salad.
* Reds – Preparing roasted meals is much more appealing in fall’s cool temperatures, and red potatoes are ideal for that cooking method. They stay moist and flavorful even after roasting. They retain their color, making a visually appealing addition to your table. Recipe to try: Roasted Pesto Potato Salad.
Experimenting with different types and preparations of potatoes may just help you find a new family favorite – it could even help you fully accessorize your kitchen. By entering “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine’s Prize Tested Recipe contest, you could win a $500 monthly prize or even a grand prize of $10,000 in Frigidaire kitchen appliances. For more information, go to BHG.com/ptrcontest. Deadline for entry is Oct. 23, 2011.
For the upcoming holiday season, many of us will buy gift cards for friends and family who are difficult to buy for. Many stores are going out of business and some will not honor gift cards after a certain date. Check retailer sites carefully before buying gift cards from stores who have already announced financial difficults. Here is a list that a friend has put together.
Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as ‘Bankruptcy Planning).
Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.
Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
Ann Taylor 117 stores nationwide closing
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine’s to close 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing down specialty stores
J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots) Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing down all stores
Sharper Image closing down all stores
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Loews to close down some stores
Dillard’s to close some stores
Value City closing before Christmas
While checking out this information, I came across a blog that looks very informative, both for cards to avoid and deals on gift cards that may be helpful
The Christmas holiday will soon be here. I know most of you if you haven’t started your gift shopping will be starting very soon. It’s been a very difficult year for many of us. In our family, my husband experienced a 6 month layoff, and when recalled, lost all of his seniority. We’re struggling with getting a healthcare policy in place and really have no savings to speak of. This is also the start of the slow season at his workplace which lasts through March in most years, so money is a big concern right now, especially with 13 nieces and nephews to buy for plus our own 3 children.
My oldest son graduated college in June, but to date, has not had any job offers, with the first loan payments looming in December if they can’t be deferred.
But, considering our own hardships, we know that other familys are having a more difficult time than we can even imagine, either due to illnesses or financial issues.
My question to you is… What can you do with $5? If someone gave you $5, how would you spend it. My guess is that it wouldn’t go very far. That barely buys you a meal at a fast food shop.
Now, what can someone else do with $5? Imagine your $5 is combined with the same amount from 100 people. Imagine how many Christmases can be brightened with $500, or $5000. It takes very little from each of us to change someone’s life.
I encourage each of you to take some change from your pocket and donate it to an organization of your choice. This year, we’ve donated $50 to The Children’s Miracle Network which works locally to purchase necessary items for sick children being helped at Hershey Medical Center here in Central Pennsylvania. This is in additional to our annual contributions to Toys for Tots.
If your grocery store offers a $1 slip of paper to donate to local charity, don’t be so quick to say no. You’ve probably added something to your cart priced at much more than a dollar that you didn’t need. Your small contribution added to others can make a HUGE difference.