For many, Memorial Day has pretty much morphed from a day of remembrance to a much anticipated three-day weekend with exciting outdoor events that officially welcome the start of summer. But it’s more than that.

In fact, it’s not really about a big blowout holiday weekend at all. It’s about remembering our history and those who’ve gone before. The purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country—who gave their lives to protect our freedom.

 

 

U.S. history was not something stressed or even talked about in my family growing up. I possessed a general timeline of events but that was about it. All of that changed for me when I married a man for whom our American history is more than a few facts memorized to get past a final exam.

My husband Harold lives and breathes our nation’s history. He planned our honeymoon around visits to Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, culminating with an all-day visit to Gettysburg National Military Park.

I was gobsmacked by what I didn’t know. Such an emotionally packed tour I’d never experienced. I learned more that day than I’d learned about our nation’s history in my 16 years of formal education.

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As you consider gifts for the grads on your list, think of that person’s “next step.” For a high-school grad, perhaps it’s college. For a college grad, it’s a job, apartment or grad school.

The next step may be pulling long hours preparing for a state bar exam or taking a trip abroad. Select a gift that addresses that next step.

Prepaid anything

Your grad is sure to love anything that’s already paid for: movie tickets, gasoline, groceries, fast food, Walmart, Starbucks, Ikea, the currency of the country he or she will be visiting, Amazon of course!—let your mind go wild.

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I get a lot of mail on the subject of weddings. I get stories of joy and tales of woe; great ideas and even a blooper from time to time.

In 27 years, I cannot recall a single time I’ve heard from a bride or groom saying who wished they’d spent more money on their wedding.

The best wedding mail comes from frugal brides and grooms who are anxious to share their fabulous frugal ideas with future couples!

 

holding hands bride and groom at a wedding

Lean guest list

Our first guest list included everyone we knew. As the list (and grew), we realized that would be a really bad idea. Without intending to do so, we got very close to inviting people who would then feel obligated to attend a wedding for people they didn’t really know that well. We decided to whittle that list, seeing our wedding as a more intimate event rather than a big everyone-we-know blowout.

From where we started, we got the list down to 25%. Best decision ever. Our wedding was manageable, affordable, and exactly what we wanted—an intimate celebration of joy. Debbie

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Mother’s Day 2019 is right around the corner—this coming Sunday! If this is catching you by surprise, relax. You still have time to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift. And you can count on me to have been working tirelessly to come up with fabulous gift ideas to help you out. Because you love your […]

I have a special treat for you today. It’s a recipe. Normally I sell this recipe for $1,000 but it’s your lucky day.

OK, I’m just kidding about that, but honestly, it’s worth even more than that because in the world of cakes, this one is worth its weight in gold, which as I update this post is about $1,275 per ounce.

 

scrumptious-3-layer-carrot-cake-sitting-on-glass-cake-stand-creamy-frosting-and-sprinkling-of-walnuts

 

You may already be aware of this, but I’ll say it anyway: In this world there is carrot cake and then there is scrumptious absolutely to-die-for carrot cake—the kind of cake you’ve only experienced with a $200-per-person meal at a fancy hotel (you do that all the time, right?).


MORE: Dinner-in-a-Box is Not What I Thought!


It’s the kind of carrot cake that would surely be named the Grand Champion in a competition at a fine culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu Baking and Pastry Arts Program if I’d ever had such an opportunity to compete.

This is the cake that’s going to make your friends and family think you’re a genius! And don’t be surprised when it becomes your signature cake—the one they request for their birthdays. Imagine how beautiful this cake might look on your Easter Buffet this weekend!

As you peruse this recipe, you may be tempted to make a few adjustments. Please do not do that. You’ll think 1 1/2 cups oil is excessive. It’s not. And the pineapple. Seriously? Yes. Do not doubt me.

This is the perfect recipe both in ingredients and proportions, so please follow it exactly. It’s the recipe you’ll be tempted to keep secret and good luck with that! 😉

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Mature woman thinking with hand on chin against white background with Valentine's Day vignette

Valentine’s Day is this week, Thursday! I know, I can’t believe it either.

Bless you, if you are prepared and way ahead of the game. For the rest of us, the way I see it we have six options:

  1. Ignore the day altogether and assume our spouses, kids, grandkids, friends, family, and co-workers, will think we forgot and give us a pass. Not recommended.
  2. Get thee to the card shop and post office to pick up Valentine’s cards and plenty of postage stamps, then get them in the mail, pronto!
  3. Make sweet treats in your kitchen befitting the day—still plenty of time for this one.
  4. Plan a date with your love, even if your wallet is a little thin. Get creative to find reasonable and fun alternatives that require only pocket change—or with any luck, some that are absolutely free. I have a few ideas for you in Great Dates for Couples on a Tight Budget.
  5. Plan a Fun Family Party. Here are 8 Fun Family Games for Valentine’s Day to get you started.
  6. Find the perfect little something for those perfect someones in our lives—there is still plenty of time to do this, too.

Should you be leaning toward option #6, here are 21 great gift ideas sure to please that won’t break the bank.

(You can get delivery on Wednesday, Feb. 13 for any of these gifts by using Amazon Prime, but you need to hurry! Not a Prime member? No problem. Start your 30-free trial today, place your order, get delivery on Wed., then cancel within 30 days—you will not be charged, but yet enjoy all of the Prime benefits including 2-day shipping. It’s legal and ethical; in fact, Amazon encourages us to do this.)

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Friends. Valentine’s Day is next Thursday. This is Friday. Get the picture?

Red-roses-on-Calendar-with-Date February-14-Valentine's-Day

Thankfully, there’s a big beautiful weekend between now and then—plenty of time to make a few of these fabulous homemade treats and sweets!

 

Mini Pies in a Jar

Could there be a better gift for co-workers, neighbors, friends, teachers—and any number of other people—than a single-serving, mini pie in a small jar? I think not!

I have detailed written detailed instructions including recipes here:  The Perfect Small Gift: Pie in a Jar. It really is quite easy and the results are fabulous!

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Here’s my idea of a killer New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl or any other kind of party—one that includes a smorgasbord of dips and things to dip in them.

3 ingredient dips anchor this beautiful party buffet

I’m talking about absolutely delicious hot, cold, savory, spicy, even sweet dips—an amazing variety sure to please all—beautifully arranged so that everyone can easily graze through the evening. All said dips need to be quick and easy to make, too, requiring only 3-ingredients.

Are you with me?

Crab Dip

It’s amazingly yummy, thanks to Mrs. Dash. You will be disappointed if you try to substitute anything else for her extra spicy blend. It has to be this one.

Place all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Mix well. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Recipe source: Made from Pinterest

RELATED: The 1% New Year’s Solution

Queso Cheese Dip

Tortilla chips-with-queso-cheese-dip-on-wood-old-table

Who doesn’t love smooth queso made with real cheese? Paired with tortilla or corn chips expect this queso to disappear quickly. Thankfully, you can make another batch in oh, about 5 minutes.

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) medium sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

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