Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Tradition

One of my husband's New Year's traditions is Sauerkraut and Spareribs.  We have it every year and the holiday wouldn't be the same without it!


1 package spareribs (about 4 lbs)
2 jars Bavarian sauerkraut


Season ribs using your favorite rub.  (Ours is Salt Lick Rub)  Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 6 hours.  When the ribs are done, place in a large pot.  Add both jars of Bavarian sauerkraut and heat through.  Serve and have a happy New Year!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Frugal Resolutions

Ok, so actually making a resolution is free.  But sometimes keeping them is not.  With that in mind, here's a way to take some of the cost out of attaining your goal.

The U.S. government wants to help you meet those resolutions!  They have quite a few websites that have FREE resources to assist you.

First, go to this website:

Second, choose your resolution.

  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Eat Healthy Food
  • Get a Better Education
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt
  • Manage Stress
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Save Money
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

  • As you click the link for the resolution you choose, you'll be taken to websites that offer more information.  Some resolutions are tough, and every bit of advantage you can get will help!

    Here's to a successful 2012!!

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Frugal Beauty

    As we head into 2012, a lot of women including myself vow to do more to take care of ourselves.  But beauty can be an expensive proposition.  Here are a few tips to make at least your beauty regimen a bit more affordable.

    1.  Samples.  Target and Walmart both offer online sample pages.  I recently received a make-up bag from Target stuffed with beauty samples.  Check both frequently as the samples change.

    2.  VIP clubs.  Brands such as Sephora and Olay offer clubs that you can join.  After joining, you'll receive emails alerting you to free samples and/or giveaways.  Sephora also offers a free gift every year for your birthday!

    3.  Facebook.  "Like" your favorite brands.  I recently received a full size tube of L'Oreal's latest mascara.  Giveaways and samples are frequent so make sure you check their pages on a regular basis.

    4.  Magazines.  Check out the websites for magazines such as Allure, Lucky, Shape, and Self.  In the case of Allure, they often run giveaways on a daily basis for full size beauty products.

    5.  Department stores.  Hit the makeup counters!  Not only can you try the product right then and there, the sales associate will usually provide a sample for you to take home and try.  What looks great in the makeup mirror at the counter might not look so hot under the fluorescent lights at the office so before spending a small fortune on expensive products, try them in the real world!

    These are a few of my tricks.  Here's to a more beautiful 2012!!  (You're already beautiful!!)

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Time for Change

    The new year is approaching.  With that, comes the annual tradition of resolutions.  I've taken a bit of a different approach this year courtesy of A&E TV.

    A&E is running a promotion right now called Real Life Change.  It allows you to choose a resolution and A&E will make a donation to charity for each resolution chosen.

    After registering at Real Life Change, you will see a list of resolutions.  Some are small, some larger.  Some are traditional resolutions such as losing weight or loftier goals such as committing to having better relationships.

    After choosing your personal resolution, you pick which charity you would like your donation to go to.  The list includes such charities as the American Red Cross and St. Jude's.

    My personal resolution?  To follow my dream.  The charity I chose?  The Wounded Warriors Project.

    How about you?

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    After Christmas Frugal Tips

    Post Christmas shopping is a great way to do some frugal planning.  Here are a few tips to consider before you shop:

    1.  Wrapping paper.  Try to get wrapping paper in a solid color such as red or gold.  That way, it can be used year round for whatever you need to wrap!

    2.  Bows.  Instead of just seasonal colors, try to find bags of assorted colors.  Again, you can use them all year!

    3.  Winter accessories.  Hats, gloves, and scarves (or sets) are frequently included in the after holiday clearance.  Grab some sets now while on sale and you have ready gifts for the next holiday season.

    4.  Bath or perfume sets.  These sets go on sale after Christmas and make perfect emergency gifts to keep on hand.

    5.  Tool sets.  During the holidays, most mass retailers offer small tool sets as seasonal items.  When they go on sale, snag the deals to use as emergency gifts.

    6.  Gift bags.  Stick with solid colors that are not obviously holiday specific.

    7.  Pet stockings.  Many large stores offer pre-made pet stockings filled with toys.  After Christmas, buy the number you need for your pets while they are half-priced or better and your dogs/cats will be set for next Christmas!

    8.  Food sets.  There are a lot of food gift sets available during the holiday.  Just because you paid half the price after Christmas doesn't mean they taste any different!

    9.  Holiday lights.  Buy clear strands and they can be used to illuminate your deck or decorate trees in your yard for a barbecue in the heat of July!

    10.  Holiday crafts.  They won't hit the stores again until Halloween and by then you'll think you won't have enough time to complete them.  Stock up now while they are on sale and you can work on them at your leisure throughout the year.

    I keep a 10 gallon container marked "Emergency Gifts" in my closet.  I fill it every year after Christmas and never worry all year if an occasion comes up that I wasn't expecting.  With a little planning, you can not only be ready for unexpected occasions but get a jump on next year's holiday too!!

    Happy shopping!!

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Merry Christmas!!!

    Wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas!!

    As you enjoy your day with family and friends, please send love and holiday wishes to our troops, especially those serving overseas who are unable to be with their families this Christmas.

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    A Holiday Cocktail

    Peppermint Martini


    • 5 oz.vanilla Vodka (Stoli)
    • 2 oz.white creme de menthe
    • 1/2 oz.Peppermint Schnapps

    Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a candy cane.  The rim of the glass can also be dipped in red sugar for a festive look!


    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Winding Down

    It's almost over.  Christmas is Sunday and if you're not pretty much may be in a tad bit of trouble!!

    I'm happy to report I'm finished.  Completely, totally done!!!  Everything is wrapped and under the tree.  Even the dogs have a they really need more toys.

    So it's time to switch to relaxation mode.  I already have logs in the fireplace as Austin is actually supposed to be cold this weekend!  Ok...not Wisconsin cold...but cold enough I think I can get away with a fire!  My e-readers are loaded and I have my faux fur throw to cuddle under.

    Now where are those cookies???

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Winter Solstice

    I would like to wish my Pagan and Wiccan readers and friends a joyous Winter Solstice!  Enjoy your holiday!


    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Frugal Stocking Stuffers

    Stockings can get expensive!!  I still make stockings for the boys, even though they are in their 20's so little toys aren't an option.  Here are some ideas for stockings from the dollar store:

    1.  Toothbrush.  You always need one!

    2.  Earphones.  Have you ever noticed how often they're lost or broken?

    3.  Flashlight.  Hubby insists you can never have too many!

    4.  Word Search/Crossword Puzzle Books.  Make them use that brain!

    5.  Ornaments.  You can find some really cute ones for a dollar!

    6.  Booklights.  Always handy, especially when traveling!

    7.  Hairbrush.  You can always use an extra to throw in the glovebox or purse!

    8.  Pens.  To use with the puzzle books!

    9.  Candy.  By the bag, a great value!

    10.  Screwdriver.  Yep, a screwdriver!  How else are you going to get the battery covers off the other gifts?

    So there are a few ideas.  The dollar stores have tons of items perfect for stockings.  Stuff away!!!

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Pardon The Interruption

    Yesterday, I took a self-indulgent moment and wallowed in my Christmas funk.  Although the funk hasn't passed, the moment has.  I have no wish to pull anyone else in with me and need to pull myself out.

    I've notice on various social media that the funk is widespread.  With that in mind, I am making a special effort to ensure that my updates are upbeat, and that I don't participate in personal attacks.  It is my responsibility that I don't spread my mood to others and to make sure no one suffers due to my state of mind.  This is the holiday season and one of the most quoted lines should also be the truest.  "Peace on earth and goodwill towards men."

    Goodwill towards men.  Such a simple statement, but with the anonymity provided by distance and the keyboard, how often is this premise abandoned?  This holiday season, why don't we keep that concept front and center in both our personal and online relationships?  If you don't think you can manage the entire season...why not start with just one hour at a time?  When you've succeeded with that first hour, every hour thereafter will be easier and easier to accomplish.

    So I wish you all the joy and wonder of the season from a heart filled with love.


    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Blue Christmas

    I made it to the finish line.  All the gifts are completed, wrapped, and shipped.  And then my complete Christmas came completely unraveled.

    My youngest son is leaving Tuesday to take a job on the other side of the state.  Now, in most states, this wouldn't be a big deal.  But this is Texas which means he will be 9 1/2 hours away.  Not a trip that can be taken on a whim or even a weekend.  I won't see him for months.

    He is the child who spends the most time at home on the holiday.  With his absence, that means all of the carefully laid plans are out the window.  His older brother will cut his time at home even shorter knowing his little brother won't be there.

    The worst part of an empty nest?  When the chicks fly so far from home.  I'm still a mom, regardless of the empty nest.  I still want my children close...just not in my house.  To have one leave and go so far just days before Christmas has my heart hurting.

    My merry Christmas has turned blue this year.

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    A Christmas Cookie



    1 cup of butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 eggs, room temperature
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Pinch of salt
    2 cups flour
    3/4 cup of raspberry jam
    Parchment paper


    Cream butter and sugar on high speed for about three minutes.

    Separate eggs.  Add yolks and vanilla extract to butter mixture.

    Add flour and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Place dough in the fridge for 30 minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Roll the dough into balls about one inch in diameter.  Place the balls on parchment lined cookie sheets.

    Press down with your thumb to make a well in the center of each cookie.  Don't press hard or the cookie will crumble!  Fill each well with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

    Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly firm.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

    Makes 2 dozen cookies.


    Friday, December 16, 2011

    A Frugal Party

    One of my favorite frugal Christmas parties is the cookie exchange.  An easy premise and it knocks out some of your holiday baking at the same time!

    First, choose five friends...preferably five who can actually bake!  Ask them to bring six dozen of their favorite holiday cookie.  That's one dozen for each guest and a dozen to share at the party.

    As hostess, you'll provide the drinks (coffee, eggnog, something stronger).  Platters to serve the cookies can be obtained at your local dollar store.  You can also grab some gift bags while there so your guests can carry their cookies home.

    After an evening of fun with your girlfriends, your holiday baking is done!!  You and your guests will have a nice variety of cookies, enough to satisfy Santa and the elves!

    Happy baking!!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    The Wall

    I've hit it.  Full force.  I overslept this morning, it's raining, and I feel like a slug.

    Christmas is rapidly approaching.  I still have a mountain of projects to complete, not to mention all the baking.  But it took me hours to even get to write this blog this morning, including having to reboot my router.  I'm just now eating breakfast and it's almost noon.

    It's time to dig pull motivation out of some deep well I'm not even sure I possess.  This wall is so high and so thick that I'm even tempted to pull out my credit card just so I can be done!!  If you've read my blog know that is NOT my idea of frugal!!

    So here I go!!  Time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and wade back in to the fray!  If you don't hear from me tomorrow...I may be buried under it!!

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Christmas Chaos

    There is one room in my house that is solely mine.  It is my sewing room, my office, my craft room, my library, my workout room, and oh also functions as the guest room!  With Christmas preparations in full swing, it has now become a wrapping station as well.

    Needless to say, the room is in complete chaos.  There is no room to sit other than the chair I'm currently planted on and walking room is down to one path from the door to the chair!  There are handmade gifts in various stages of completion everywhere.  There are gifts to be wrapped and sent.  There are gifts to go under the tree.  Every surface is covered with something that needs something done!

    My goal for today?  Get to the point where I can actually distinguish what I need to do.  Emotionally, I feel like I'm wasting time when I should be working on projects but the truth is, if I don't get organized I won't get anything accomplished!!

    So with my eyes on that prize, here I go wading in to the chaos!  Wish me luck!!!

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    The Most Frugal Gift of All

    What could it be?  Your love and your time.  There are a multitude of ways you can give of yourself without spending a dime.

    Visit a friend.  If you haven't seen them in a while, just the sight of your face will be a gift.  Conversation with a friend is a priceless gift.

    Stop by the home of an elderly friend and clean their baseboards.  Sounds too simple, doesn't it?  But think how difficult that one chore can be for someone getting up in years.

    Babysit.  A young family may not be able to afford a dinner out when you add the cost of a babysitter.  Take away that cost and let them enjoy their evening.  Or give a single mother the opportunity to do the grocery shopping without having to juggle the diaper bag, the car seat, and the groceries!

    Girls' night in.  Throw in a dvd and hit the couch with your girlfriends for a night of comedy or scare each other silly!  You not only catch up on the latest flick...but on each other's lives.

    A hug.  Yes, a hug.  The only gift guaranteed to double in value as soon as you share it.  Those few seconds can make a significant difference in someone's day.

    Just a few ideas...I'm sure you can come up with dozens more.  Remember, the most precious gifts are those from your heart.


    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Just Lucky

    Sometimes being frugal isn't a matter of hard work or diligence.  Sometimes it's just a matter of being lucky.

    Yesterday, Hubby and I were out shopping.  After leaving a store, we noticed that a Dollar General nearby was closing it's location.  We decided to check it out just in case there was something left we could use.

    Hubby wears reading glasses.  I usually have pairs strategically stationed all over the house.  You'll find a pair on the dining room table, next to his chair, in the garage, etc.  Or you should.  For some reason, they keep disappearing.  Part of it is the fact he will walk away still wearing them and I personally believe they then go to hang out with the missing socks!

    When we walked in the store yesterday, one of the first things I saw was a box of reading glasses.  Eight pairs in the strength he wears!!  There was no sign saying how much they were but they were on sale and at this point I didn't care.  The hunt for glasses whenever I wanted him to read something was getting old!

    So I grabbed all eight pairs and added them to the cookies that had miraculously appeared in the basket he was holding.  At checkout, I was thrilled to find out they were 60 cents a pair!!

    Being frugal can be a drudge.  There are times you want something, not need, just want and you know it's not in the budget.  Then there are other times when you get lucky and score something you need for a great price.  And that feels pretty good!

    What lucky deal have you scored?

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    An Easy Frugal Treat

    Elephant Ears


    1 package flour tortillas
    Cinnamon Sugar (I use McCormick's)


    Heat oil (about 1/2 inch deep) in frying pan.  Put one tortilla in for about 5-10 seconds.  Turn with tongs and repeat for other side.  It will "puff" after turning.  Remove from pan using tongs and put in a container containing cinnamon sugar.  Close container tightly and shake to coat the tortilla with the sugar.


    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Frugal Gift Ideas

    Here are a few frugal gift ideas.  It is possible to share Christmas joy without breaking the bank!!

    1.  Gourmet coffee with a cute coffee mug

    2.  A journal with a personal inscription from you inside the front cover, add a fancy pen.

    3.  A pretty teacup with a variety of teas

    4.  Homemade mixes in a pretty jar

    5.  Basket filled with sewing or craft supplies

    6.  Cloth napkins with seasonal napkin rings

    7.  Gardening gloves with a variety of seed packets

    8.  Bath puff and guest soaps

    9.  Crock filled with kitchen gadgets

    10.  Personalized stationery made on your computer

    Now these are only a few of the gazillion of ideas out there!!  Any of them can be assembled, created, etc. for under ten dollars.  Let your imagination go wild!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    A Frugal Girls Night: Update

    So last night didn't exactly go as planned.  Big surprise, huh?  Isn't that the way life usually works?

    We get to the restaurant and the entree special (steak and lobster) that we were planning on ordering was no longer on special.  Ok, time to regroup.

    We had a coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree.  My friend decided all she wanted was the Extreme Nachos while I ordered the entree of steak and shrimp.  Those!!  Seriously, that plate was big enough and mounded high enough to provide a complete meal for three!!  Even with drinks, our bill still came in under $30 and we were both so stuffed we could barely walk!  The free appetizer took $8 off our bill.

    As we left, there was a pair of older women coming in.  We took the $5 off coupon we didn't use and gave it to them for their girls night.  Enjoying their surprised thanks, we wished them a Merry Christmas and went on our way.  After all, isn't the best part of being frugal being able to share?

    So when you head out to eat, and you have that extra coupon...share and spread some joy!!

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    A Frugal Girls Night

    Tonight I get to spend the evening with one of my best friends.  We both lead pretty busy lives so our goal is to get together at least once a quarter.  Tonight is the night for this quarter!

    But how to have a girls night on a budget?  It's not easy, but with a little planning we're going to pull it off!

    First, we're eating at a restaurant we have coupons for.  And we're going to be ordering an entree they currently have on special.  All things considered...we're talking steak and lobster for two for under a total of $30!!  Not too bad!

    On to the exchange of Christmas gifts!  My friend is just as frugal (read:  cheap!) as I am and I know that whatever I receive, she paid at least 50% off retail!  On my end, my gift to her is handmade.  We also both go in to the exchange knowing that if the need for re-gifting arises...we will do so without offense!

    The most important part of the night and the part that costs absolutely nothing?  Time spent with a friend I love and adore.  I can't emphasize enough, especially to my younger readers, the importance of girlfriends in your life.  As we age and especially in this empty nest phase, these relationships are precious and priceless.  And it's not just girlfriends.  I have male friends that I have close relationships with that I wouldn't trade for anything!!

    Remember this holiday's not how much you spend or how expensive the experience.  It's the time spent with the ones you love!!


    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Quick and Frugal

    Below is the recipe for a quick and frugal gift.  If you buy a case of pint size canning jars, this can be made in bulk.  It makes a perfect hostess gift or it's good to stash away for when you need that emergency gift when someone unexpected arrives at your door!

    Peppermint Bath Salts


    3 cups Epsom salts
    1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
    1 tsp sugar
    2-4 drops red food coloring


    1.  Stir all ingredients together
    2.  Pour the salts into a jar or bottle with a reclosable top.  I recommend pint canning jars.
    3.  Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions:

    Instructions for Use:

    Sprinkle a small scoop of the salts under your running bath water.  Relax in the fragrant water!

    These salts will keep indefinitely as long as they are stored in a sealed container.  For a different take, substitute lemon extract and yellow food coloring in the ingredients.

    Happy creating!!

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Happy Monday!!

    Last Monday, I did a post about being starved for time.  This Monday, I'm looking around my office/sewing room/craft room/guest room and there are piles of Christmas presents in various stages of construction.  Sigh...

    I'm meeting a friend for dinner on Wednesday so obviously her gift was the priority.  And it's complete and ready to be given!  One down, an unbelievable number to go!!!  To be honest, if it was in my budget?  I would send everyone on my list an e-gift code and be done with it!!  But it's not and I want my friends and family to have gifts that come from my heart.  So onward I go!

    To be honest, I'm enjoying myself.  It's been a while since I held a needle in my hands.  To cover jewelry making, crochet, latch hook, and embroidery in the course of only a few days feels good.  I'm a bit rusty, and it's taking some effort to get my groove back, but I am enjoying the creativity and peacefulness that comes with handiwork.  I guess I'm not just giving gifts...I'm receiving one also.

    So as a cold front barrels towards Central Texas, I'll make myself a hot mug of tea, pick up my needle, and put my love in to my gifts.

    Enjoy your week!!


    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Frugal Treat!!

    Homemade Orange Drink (Like found at a national chain!)


    1/3 cup frozen orange juice
    1/2 cup cold water
    1/2 cup cold milk
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups crushed ice

    Put first five ingredients in to blender.  Add ice, blend until smooth and frothy.  A delicious treat for under a dollar!!


    Friday, December 2, 2011

    An Interesting Week

    If you've followed the trend of my blog posts this week (and of course, I know you have!), you've noticed that they all seem to have to do with saving money.

    I guess that is due to the season.  Striving for the perfect Christmas on a non-existent budget has my brain focused on what I can save and where. my brain overloads, it spills out on to my blog!!  The upside?  I get to share the tips and tricks I've learned with all of you!!

    A lot of families in this country are struggling this Christmas.  As you're out shopping, pick up a couple extra cans to donate to your local food bank.  For just a couple of bucks, you can make sure a child has something to eat on Christmas day.  If you're able, pick up a few toys for Toys for Tots and lend the Marines a hand in their yearly drive.  When you walk past that red Salvation Army bucket, throw in your change.  Hopefully, with the tips I've shared over the last few months, you can share some of your savings and winnings!

    Enjoy your weekend, everybody!!


    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    More Free Books

    I've found another resource for free ebooks.  As if the 3000+ I already have on my Kindle and Nook weren't enough...I found a site that will give me lists for both on a daily basis!!

    FREE eBook Deal is a website that tracks free books for both the Kindle and the Nook.  At the current time, these are the only two formats available.  There are a number of ways to get these free books from this site.

    First, you can follow them on Twitter.  You can find them here.  Each day, they will tweet a list of books available for each device.

    Second, you can visit their website daily.  On the website, you can search by both device and genre.  This is especially helpful if you only want one particular genre and don't want to have to sort through an entire list to find it.

    Lastly, you can have the daily list emailed to you.  You can choose whether to have one or both formats emailed.  If you choose both formats, they come in separate emails which makes it convenient and easy for downloading.

    So add this site to your favorites, follow on Twitter, and join the email list!  Enjoy your free books!!! 


    Jerri's Empty Nest