Time to Load Up on Baking Supplies

Look up the word ‘impulsive’ in the dictionary and prepare to see my face. In my basement pantry, I have bags of of chocolate chips to prove it. They are the ghosts of a Christmas past—left over from one of my Gift-in-a-Jar marathon projects.

And those two containers of candied fruit that must be ten years old by now, which I keep because they’ve become such a novelty? They appear to be the same as the day I bought them.

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Baking supplies are notoriously on sale at rock-bottom prices starting now in anticipation of Thanksgiving and continuing through the end of the year.

I still have bags of all-purpose flour from last holiday season, which I bought for $.99 each, which I’ve stored in the freezer. Sugar is cheap during the holidays, too. Ditto for other holiday baking ingredients from marshmallows to sweetened condensed milk, dates to nuts.

One of my basic rules of grocery shopping is this: When it’s on sale, buy enough to last until the next time it’s on sale. Baking supplies become so cheap this time of year, now is the time to stock up.

Which begs the question: How long will baking supplies last in the event you decide to buy enough to last the year? It all depends on the items and if you have the storage space to keep them at their optimum.

Here is a handy guide:

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Take the Stress Out of Entertaining with a Holiday Potluck

Whether you are invited or doing the inviting this holiday season, choosing a potluck over a more formal dinner party can relieve a lot of stress. When everybody brings something it takes a great deal of pressure off the host and offers guests the joy of contributing to the festivities. 

Casual-potluck-dinner

Hosting duties

If you’re hosting you need to …

1. Pick a theme for the menu, like Comfort Food, Thanksgiving Bounty, or Christmas Favorites.

2. For one dozen people, at the least, you will need approximately two or three appetizers, two side dishes, bread and butter, two desserts, one salad, and one main dish.

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9 Ways to Avoid Christmas Debt Even If You’re Short on Cash—Plus a GIVEAWAY!

To pull off an all-cash Christmas in the face of a credit-aggressive retail industry will be like holding back the sea unless you arm yourself with a very important tool.

 

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You won’t have to run out and buy this tool because I am absolutely sure you have it already. And you won’t have to go on a whole-house search to find it either. This all-important tool is as close to a magic wand as you will ever get and as powerful as you choose for it to be. It is your attitude.

You can choose a joyful, expectant, can-do attitude with bold determination—an attitude that says, “No matter what, I am not going to spend money I do not have to pay for Christmas. Period.” With that kind of attitude, even the powerful consumer credit and retail industries will be no match for you. You will prevail.

Here are nine simple ideas to get your attitude revved up and your determination switched into high gear!

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The Gentle Art of Gift-Giving

The simple act of gift-giving has become extremely complicated. I blame that on the consumer credit industry.

Think about it: You can be completely broke but still spend thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts—and believe it is not only your right to do so but that you are obligated to do it.

The culture has created a message that we have to spend a lot on Christmas gifts to be socially acceptable.

Christmas vintage presents on a wooden background

Gift-giving is a custom that has pretty much run amok. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to make wise and reasonable decisions about the gifts we give.  

How many of you cannot recall the gifts you gave last Christmas? How about the gifts you received? Come on, let’s see those hands. Okay, that’s just about everybody. 

It’s not because we’re total ingrates that we have trouble remembering the gifts we gave or even the ones we received. Read more

3 Fun Ways to Avoid the Heartbreak of Post Holiday Stress Disorder

Who among us hasn’t at some time during the hectic days of December said those old familiar words, “Next year I’m going to get started earlier!” I don’t know what you meant by “earlier,” but today seems about right.

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Here for your consideration are three ideas meant to encourage you to head-off the heartbreak of post holiday stress disorder brought on by procrastination, under-planning, and overspending. Read more

A Family Countdown to Christmas

If you’re a little put off by the mention of Christmas this early in the year, hear me out. I’ve got a great idea for how you can really enjoy the season, bless your children or grandchildren and start a new family tradition all at the same time.

I guarantee that the kids in your life are going to love you for it, too. But it requires some amount of preparation. That’s the reason it may appear that I’m rushing things a bit.

Photo credit: 2littlehooligans.com

Step 1

Between now and Dec. 1, collect 24 different books that are in keeping with your family’s holiday values and beliefs. You can find books at thrift stores, library sales, bookstores and online.

Step 2

Wrap each book as a beautiful gift. Place all 24 gifts, marked only with a number between 1 and 24, in a large basket or festively-decorated box. Keep all of the wrapped gifts hidden until Dec. 1.

Step 3

Each night before bed allow the children to select and open one of these “gifts” that corresponds with the date on the calendar, then read it together. Repeat each night through Christmas Eve.

Step 4

Put the books away in a secret place and you’ll be ready to go again next year—and every year—starting with Step 2. Read more

Best Inexpensive Thanksgiving Cooking Tools

If today’s topic seems a bit premature, let me remind you (trust me, I’m reminding myself) of the first time you hosted Thanksgiving dinner. I know that I was a wreck, and for two reasons: time and cooking tools.

I didn’t allow enough time to plan ahead, let alone properly prepare the meal once the day arrived. And I sure didn’t have the right equipment.

 

With Thanksgiving about six weeks away, we have time to plan, time to prepare and time to make sure we’re properly equipped to make this Thanksgiving a day of calm, joy, and gratitude.

I’ve done Thanksgiving Dinner enough times now to know that there are a few pieces of equipment that are absolutely necessary to make sure the process goes smoothly and the dinner is a huge success. The challenge, though, is making sure we’re not loading up on unitaskers—tools we use only one day a year. We want to make sure that items we buy for the kitchen can be used all year long.

Here are our picks for Best Inexpensive Thanksgiving cooking tools that will make your day easier, tools I’m certain you’ll be reaching for throughout the year.

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A Homemade Gift You’d Actually Love to Receive

Gifting friends, family, co-workers teachers and others with a jar of your own signature luxury hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It’s that good. And what better time than this weekend to get a head start on Christmas gifts.

 

 

Not particularly crafty? No worries. If you can assemble, empty, stir and mix well, you’ve got what it takes to make dozens of these gifts start to finish in a single evening. And the best part? About $3.50 per gift, depending on where you buy the ingredients and containers.

 

 

Here’s the routine: Purchase the specific ingredients, mix them together, divide between your choice of small containers, apply a label or gift tag, embellish with a ribbon and there you go. Done and in no time flat.

To make this lovely hand and body lotion you’ll need:

Ingredients

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Tools

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer or hand whisk
  • Gallon-size zip-type or another plastic bag

 

Instructions

1. Empty the five ingredients into the large mixing bowl.

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2. Using an electric hand mixer or whisk, whip together until well incorporated, about five minutes.

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3. Fill a large zip-type bag with the whipped lotion. Close the top. Using scissors, snip off a small portion of one of the bottom corners  to create a simple “piping” bag.

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4. Fill jars or containers of choice by gently squeezing the bag so the lotion extrudes from the snipped corner. I use these  4-oz. plastic jars in cobalt blue with black lids.

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5. Give your signature lotion a name. Create small labels or tags with your message of choice.

6. Embellish as desired.

That’s it. Beautiful, homemade gifts that will be so well-received because you have just created a very high-quality lotion. Because all of the ingredients except for the shea body cream are unscented or nearly so, your lotion will have a very light, subtle scent—certainly not overpowering or offensive. Simply lovely.

This recipe as stated, yields about 16 4-oz. jars of fine hand and body lotion. Your mileage may vary depending on how long and vigorously you whip the lotion. Be careful to not make it too fluffy. I find that no more than five minutes is ideal.

 

You may also enjoy:

When Holiday Debt Hangs On Long After the Gifts are Forgotten

Best Creative and Inexpensive Homemade Gifts!

12 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas

 


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