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Homemade English Muffin Bread

Here’s an easy way to cut your grocery bill this week—make your own bread. Wait! Hear me out. I want to show you how to make homemade bread that is so easy, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius. This homemade English Muffin Bread is simply amazing.

If you’ve read my book, 7 Money Rules for Life, you know that Rule #1 is so simple it would be easy to overlook it as being too elementary. Here it is: Spend less than you earn.

Now think about it … “spend less than you earn” is not the same as “don’t spend more than you earn.” That implies it would be okay to spend all that you earn, but no. The operative word is “less.” You need a gap between what you earn and how much of it you spend. That is the fundamental secret to living below your means.

It’s in that gap that you can repay debt, build an emergency fund, and financial freedom can grow. You really need to read the rest of the book, but for now, let’s just say that growing the gap is the challenge.

Making your own homemade bread is an easy way to increase your gap this week even if only by a few dollars. It all adds up! Let me show you how to make homemade bread that is so amazing, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius.

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Gifts That Don’t Cost a Dime

Long on Christmas lists but short on cash this year? What you need are tips, tricks, and Gift Guides to help you save money, right?

“Save money?!” you sneer. “What if we don’t have any money?” 

That, my friend, is a reliable signal that it’s time to get creative. Often the most meaningful gifts and most difficult ones to give are those that cost no money at all.

A gift from the heart is a gift of time and talent. It’s going to require some (all?) of your free time over the next week or so, but it sure beats going into debt to buy a bunch of gifts for others—or missing out altogether because you refuse to show up empty-handed.

No one was more creative than my mother-in-law one Christmas years ago. I’d always admired her beautiful crystal, a wedding gift from her parents in 1942. Imagine how stunned I was when she gave it—all of it—to me. My favorite pieces are the water pitcher and cordials. Her gift, which cost nothing in terms of money, was and continues to be priceless to me.

Are you getting the picture? Great. Consider these idea starters to show someone you care that won’t require spending any cash at all. And please, add your own ideas in the comments!

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7 Fabulous Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Need a last-minute gift for an office party, your trusty mail carrier, a neighbor, co-worker or anyone else on your Christmas gift list? Here are nine great ideas that won’t take much time, and certainly won’t break the bank.

Woman Offering Christmas Gift

Give a treasure

Consider passing on an heirloom or family treasure to the next generation as a Christmas gift. Write a paragraph or two explaining the history or significance of the heirloom to go along with the gift. You will be preserving family history but not spending a dime. But here is the tricky part: Unless a person has expressed a particular love or desire for said heirloom and special treasure, do not assume your gesture will be appreciated. Read more

How to Deep Clean a Garbage Disposal and Why You Need To

Germs—bacteria and viruses—are pretty much everywhere. Most of them are harmless, but one percent of all those germs can actually cause anything from a runny nose to a life-threatening infection.

Common sense dictates that when we clean our homes, we target places such as the toilet and counters to eliminate these germs—but we haven’t even scratched the surface of where germs lurk.

Photo credit: Wikimedia.org

According to Prevention magazine, there are more than half a million bacteria in the kitchen sink, about 1,000 times more than the average toilet.

The garbage disposal collects germs from raw food, like chicken, eggs, and spinach, and that food can be filled with harmful bacteria, like salmonella. It can make anyone, especially children, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, very sick.

The metal part of the garbage disposal in a kitchen sink produces ions that can help kill germs, but they love to grow on the crevices in and around the slimy rubber splash guard. Your disposal can become a real breeding ground for bacteria, contaminating your hands, and everything you touch, like your dishes and utensils. All that rotting gunk and grime can cause quite a stink, too!

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Best Creative and Inexpensive Homemade Gifts!

Whether it’s something from your kitchen, craft room, woodworking shop, or computer, there’s nothing like a homemade gift. A tree ornament, a plate of cookies, box of fudge, note cards—just a few of the many homemade gift ideas with universal appeal.

I love homemade gifts both to give and receive. No wonder I have so many favorites!

Homemade-christmas-gift-of-cookies

Hand and Body Lotion

A jar of your own signature luxury hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It’s that good. 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.

I have created a photo tutorial at A Homemade Gift You’d Actually Love to Receive with all of the step-by-step instructions and specifics on the ingredients and where to get them.

Believe me when I say this is the gift your recipient(s) will rave about. It’s that awesome!

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Ask Me Anything: Cosigning Parents, Silent Stylist, Rum Cake Recipe, and More

Once again, it’s mailbag day, when I reach in and pull out your questions. While there are always more than I could possibly answer in one sitting, I try to select the ones that will have the greatest interest to most of you, my Dear Readers.

Ask me anything

What’s inside? Here are the questions I’m answering from my bulging reader mailbag. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. Or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!

Contents

1. Gray “scratches” on fine dinnerware

2. Help, we co-signed student loans!

3. Spreadable butter disaster?

4. Spouse demands the purse strings

5. IP Vanilla Extract 

6. The unscrupulous stylist

7. Rum Cake Recipe, Pleeeese!

 

Q1: Do you have a tip on how to clean gray lines and scratches from my white Pfaltzgraff dishes? Barb

Pfaltzgraff has been making dinnerware for many years and has used earthenware, stoneware, porcelain,  and bone china at some point in its history. Most Pfaltzgraff patterns currently in production are made primarily of stoneware and earthenware, with only a few patterns being offered in ironstone and porcelain. The good news is that all Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is microwave and dishwasher safe.

The appearance of gray lines or “scratches” on Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is not a defect—in fact, it is quite common. These marks appear when metal utensils come in contact with the hard glazes used by the manufacturer. You can remove these marks easily using a variety of cleansers. Pfaltzgraff makes its own Pfaltzgraff Stoneware & Porcelain Cleaner, but it is a little pricey. Read more

11 Practical Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

If soaring food prices are getting you down, help is on the way! Here are some basic saving strategies, practical solutions, and novel ideas to stretch your food budget—and make your life easier.

Grate savings

You pay a lot to have someone else grate your cheese for you—at least twice the price of buying cheese by the block. Currently, at my supermarket, cheese in blocks runs from about $2 to $2.50 a pound for the store brand to about $5.00 a pound and more for name brands. The very same cheeses, pre-grated, run almost exactly double across the board, $4 to $10 a pound. Here’s the tip: Grate it yourself. It will stay fresher and you’ll save money, too.

Pro tip: Commercially grated or shredded cheese comes with an added ingredient like potato starch or modified cornstarch to prevent “caking” or “clumping.” Well, guess what? Those anti-caking ingredients inhibit melting, too. Now you know why pre-grated or shredded cheese doesn’t seem to always melt as readily, often leaving an odd thickened texture.

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No Need to Shiver: Easy DIY Ways to Cut Heating Costs This Winter

What if I told you there are a handful of sneaky ways you can cut the cost to heat your home that won’t require you to wear a down-filled, hooded parka 24-hours a day? Would I have your attention? Great, because that’s exactly what I have for you today.

Young woman wearing a red winter jacket with furry hood, holding her hands together on isolated background

These easy tips could cut your heating bill by 20 percent or more, and none require more than 30 minutes of work. You will need to purchase a few inexpensive supplies but all are readily available. Don’t worry—you will quickly recoup those costs in lower heating bills.

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