Friday Round-Up-Gifts When the Piggy Bank’s Almost Empty

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Six more days to Christmas and I didn’t get quite enough time to post everything I wanted to share with you this holiday season but I’ve got lots in store for next year.

If you still have a few gifts to buy but the piggy bank’s seen better days, here are a few of my favorite penny pinchers-

Tea and Cookies

Instead of giving a whole box of tea and cookies, divide both up and put them in a holiday themed tin or even a holiday plate you can buy at the dollar store.

Homemade Gift Certificate

Really in a bind? Make up your own gift certificate and offer to do something, like wash the car, cook dinner, babysit.

Mittens and Scarves

I’m always amazed how many stores, even DIY stores, now sell mittens and scarves around the holidays and sometimes as low as $2. Okay, the person might already have a bunch of them but they’re easy to lose so having another pair on standby is always appreciated.

Gift Basket

The dollar store always has baskets and you can fill them with different things like a box of spaghetti, pasta sauce, container of Parmesan cheese and a bread mix.

Books

Visit any bookstore and you’ll find books on sale…known as remainders in the business. Prices can be as low as $1 and tucked into a gift bag with maybe a box of tea or a small box of candy, it’s the perfect gift.

Lots of holiday related articles on the web-

Yet, more ideas for inexpensive gifts-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-schenkelberg-/five-thoughtful-but-inexp_b_6345402.html

Avoid these cooking bloopers-

https://www.yahoo.com/food/how-to-prevent-common-holiday-baking-mistakes-from-104408873341.html

I always say you can’t have too many slow cookers-

http://www.organicauthority.com/save-your-stovetop-space-5-christmas-recipes-to-make-in-a-slow-cooker/

 And if redecorating your kitchen on your lists of things to do in the New Year, this one’s for you-

https://homes.yahoo.com/news/5-easy-kitchen-updates-250-less-140000390.html

 

One more post before the big day. It’s a dessert recipe that once again uses a common leftover from the holiday meal.

Have a good weekend and happy saving.

 

Budget Smart Girl Gift Guide-Part 1

If you’re still looking for gifts here are a few items and sites I’ve found with some ideas-

Puzzles and More
If you have a puzzle fan on your list, this site has plenty of them, including other gifts and brain teasers. Looks like you get a free puzzle with your purchase and they have a ‘Web Outlet’ which are some of my favorite places to look for ideas-
http://www.bitsandpieces.com/

Birds and More
For the Bird Feeders and Watchers on Your List, I found this site from a link from the Bits and Pieces site, plenty of choices from bird feeders to baths-
http://www.audubonworkshop.com/

Make-Up
And yes, this site makes it to my list every year. I’ve always been happy with everything I’ve purchased from ELF and they have lots of gift suggestions. Many of their items make perfect stocking stuffers too-
http://www.eyeslipsface.com/

One of A Kind Gifts
I sometimes spend an hour or so browsing this site just to see what people around the world are making. While something are out of price range, do enough browsing and you’ll find something that fits your budget-
http://www.etsy.com/

Get Cooking
I have to admit I’m a collector of cookbooks and this site is pure bliss. Just about any cookbook and on any topic-
http://www.ecookbooks.com/

Stocking Stuffers
For me, shopping for the little items is sometimes more fun than the main gifts. I found this link on eBay where you can find ideas all in one spot-
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=stocking+stuffers

Gift Bags
Your local dollar store is also a good place to look for stocking stuffers and don’t forget wrapping paper and bags too and you can shop online too http://www.dollartree.com/home.jsp

For Those Home Canners on The List
And for the home canner or just anyone who wants to save money by putting food by for later, check out this site that has a couple of gifts, that are on my list-
http://www.freshpreservingstore.com/gifts-for-the-canner/browse/4294871308/

Vegan Cooking
And I’d like to give a mention to someone who stopped by Budget Smart Girl this year, and that’s Ellen Kanner. If you’re thinking about trying vegan food and cooking next year, her book Feeding The Hungry Ghost is not only a cookbook but the story of a culinary journey and is available in both print and e-book-
http://www.amazon.com/Feeding-Hungry-Ghost-Satisfying-Unsatisfying/dp/1608681645/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386773930&sr=1-1&keywords=feeding+the+hungry+ghost

Our Own Georgine
Every month Georgine brings us tips on how to save on all sorts of items but did you know she’s also written a book? It’s available in print and e-book which is just $4.99.
http://www.amazon.com/Tips-GeorgineSaves-com-1-Georgine-Kaczmarek-ebook/dp/B008MMKEPY/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386773994&sr=1-12&keywords=georgine+saves

More ideas coming soon.

Two Goodies for the Holidays

Here are a couple of recipes I rely on every Holiday season. The first one I use for gifts and also as something to snack on while I’m wrapping gifts.  (Warning, not for those on a diet!)

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread

Makes about 30 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter (at room temperature)

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

12 squares (1 ounce each) dark chocolate, melted

In a medium size bowl, stir together flour and salt.

In a large bowl, use a mixer on medium speed to blend together the butter, slowly add the sugar and then the vanilla until well blended.

Reduce the mixer speed to low.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in the toasted pecans.

Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shaped in a 6 X 4 ½ inch rectangle. Wrap securely  and refrigerate the dough for several hours or until completely chilled.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the chilled dough in half lengthwise.

Working with one half of the dough at a time, (keep the remining dough wrapped and in the fridge), cut the dough crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through the baking.

Let the shortbread cool for about 10 minutes and the transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Dip each cookie into melted chocolate and place it on another sheet of waxed paper. Let them stand at room temperature until the chocolate is firm

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You can store these cookies…if they don’t disappear immediately. With a sheet of waxed paper between layers of the shortbread in air tight containers at room temperature.

This second recipe, well it’s one of those that once again I’m embarrassed to call a recipe. For me there’s nothing worse than throwing a holiday bash and spending all your time in the kitchen. You can make these goodies ahead  of the party. They look great as part of a buffet or even on a cheese platter. There’s no better taste than pear, blue cheese and walnut combined together, and when you serve these treats people think you spent more time with the recipe than you actually did. Best of all cream cheese and blue cheese go on sale this time of the year so they’re budget smart friendly too.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Treats

(makes about 20 treats)

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1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup chopped canned pears

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

1/3 cup pulverized walnuts (put them in the blender and chop them until the look like fine sand)

Pinch of pepper

In a medium size bowl, add the cream cheese, the chopped pears and blue cheese and blend together. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes which firms it up so handling is a bit easier.

Roll the mixture into ½ inch balls (treats) and place on waxed paper until  you have about twenty of them. Add a pinch of pepper to the walnut mixture and blend together. Pour this onto a large plate and roll each treat in it and then place them back onto the waxed paper.

When they’re all done put them back in the fridge until party time.

Any leftovers you have (as if you actually will) are great as a topping on a green or spinach salad.

More Gift Ideas

Just a quick post about more gift ideas-

The first three are from Partylite www.partylite.com

Scent 4Me™ USB Port Diffuser and Refill Plug it in to your USB port .Available in six seasonal scents: Mulberry, Iced Snowberries™, Cinnamon & Bayberry, Vanilla Citron, Ginger Pumpkin and Spruce in the Snow™.  Includes a 2-pack diffuser fragrance, also sold separately.  $20 – includes 2-pack refill in choice of scent; 2-pack refill: $10

And I thought this was one of the cutest gifts I’ve seen this year. Great for someone who’s a new mom this year or will be next year.New Mother’s Love Tealight Holder – Mom is going to adore these hand-painted porcelain cuties visiting from the Arctic.  4 ¾” h.  $25.00

And I thought these made the perfect gift because you can use them as a centerpiece or all year round. New Symmetry Trio – Glass votive cup is suspended in glass base. Perfect for displaying holiday berries, beads and evergreen.  One each: 5”h, 6” h, 7” h.  $30.00

PartyLite Symmetry Trio

Soy Food Recipes

And the folks at The Soyfoods Association of North America sent me some samples of SoyJoy bars and Soy Nutz to sample, both were great, and they also included recipes. Here’s a link to one for spiced soy hot chocolate which is perfect for the Holiday season. Also check out their other recipes that you can make on Meatless Mondays-

http://www.soyfoodsmonth.org/recipes/spiced-soy-hot-chocolate

More Cookies

And Dancing Deer cookies and other goodies have often been on the BSG Gift Guide, here’s a link to their gifts under $20

http://www.dancingdeer.com/gifts-under-20

Free Book

And finally, here is a link to a free Kindle book on Amazon. A few people have e-mailed me complaining that they’ve checked out the links and the books aren’t free. The way the free books work is they’re only free for a certain period of time. It changes daily, sometimes hourly, but this one was free today December 4th so it’s best to check it out as soon as you can if you’re interested-

http://www.amazon.com/100-Easy-Recipes-Jars-ebook/dp/B0094RZ28A/ref=zg_bs_digital-text_f_36

A Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Last Minute Gifts…and gifts for those stockings!

Only two weeks to go until Christmas and if you still need some items for last minute gifts or even to slip into the stocking, here are some I came up with and some I found on the Internet

Mini Books

 

I love these tiny books and have a whole collection of them, every topic from afternoon tea to flowers. Most of them are found in bookstores but I have seen some in dollar stores too-

Food Gifts

I’ve been making my own cheese bread and purchased some bread flour from the King Arthur company. The product is great so I thought I’d check out their Web site. I’m glad I did because it has lots of recipes I’m dying to try for the holidays and they sell items online too. Right now everything ships for just $3. I think that offer is good until December 16th. Check out some of their clearance items here, cookie and cake mixes to give or to keep for yourself-http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/sale

Gifts That Pay For Themselves

I can’t think of a better gift than one that saves you money. Here is an article I found on the Web last week-http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshoppingarticles/755/gifts-that-give-back/

Spa Products and Labels

And here is a link to yet more DIY spa items and labels. I saw this one mentioned yesterday and bookmarked it to check out their other topics when I have time-

http://blonde-designs.squarespace.com/blonde-designs-blog/2009/11/5/holiday-gift-crafts.html

Something for the Birds

During the winter I always feed the birds at least once a week and thought I’d try some of the homemade bird treats mentioned here. Also a great gift to make for the bird lover on your list-

http://www.tailsinc.com/2011/12/diy-treats-for-your-birdie-friends/

Something for the Stocking

A couple of weeks ago I stocked up on ELF cosmetics when everything was 50% off which means products like these were just 50 cents each. I can’t think of a better item for a stocking-

www.eyeslipsface.com

And last but not least

If you’re out of time and out of money one thing that never fails is the homemade gift certificate. Maybe it’s the promise of making dinner one night, babysitting for a friend, mowing the lawn next summer…here is a site I found that offers free templates to make your own.

http://www.giftango.com/gift-certificate-templates.asp

Budget Smart Girl Gift Ideas

Here are some more ideas for budget friendly gift ideas-

Greeting Cards

I saw this one yesterday and it’s a greeting card you can send featuring your pet. Best thing is it’s free-

http://www.tailsinc.com/2011/11/send-a-singing-greeting-card-starring-your-pet/

And if you’re looking for inexpensive cards this year check out Vistaprint, they’re offering 20 customized holiday cards for $1.99, www.vistaprint.com/igloo

Georgine Saves Tip Book

Our own Georgine has just published her own tip book so be sure to check it you either for yourself or as a holiday gift- http://georginesaves.com/book/

Free Online Game For the Kids

Here’s a link to a free game for children

http://tocaboca.com/games/

Eco Friendly Gifts

I always like to include one company selling eco friendly gifts so here is this year’s pick http://www.ethicalocean.com/shopping

Tea

Here’s something that caught my eye as soon as I saw the e-mail about it. Chocolate tea. Can’t think of a better combination. http://www.tisano.com/

Something For the Stocking

We all love to snack and I thought this one made the perfect stocking stuffer-

http://www.somersaultsnackco.com/?event=shop.products

Check Out the Deals

And I was e-mailed information about this site www.dealradar.com that is a handy reference when you’re looking for deals for the holidays.

Coffee Gifts

Seems everyone I know drinks coffee and one way to save money is to brew your own so this might be a welcome gift for someone on your list

http://sognocoffee.com/

Something For Everyone

I have my eye on a few items at this store where you’re sure to find something and the prices are budget friendly too-

http://www.mud-pie.com/

For Those Aching Feet

And finally after you’ve done all that shopping your feet might need a rest and here are some bendable ballet slippers that cost just $15.

http://usadawgs.com/Bendable-Ballet-Flats.html

Next week ideas for homemade gifts and maybe another gift guide.

The Annual Budget Smart Girl’s Holiday Gift Guide

Here is the first of the batch of holiday gift ideas-

Christmas Milk

 

This one really caught my eye, not so much the product but the story behind it and I thought I’d share it with you-

Christmas Milk, The Elves’ Favorite Drink (Ultra-Pasteurized, High Quality Eggnog) and its scrumptious accompaniment Elf Nuts. This product is new for 2012 and excellent for moms to give to the kids. The product also goes toward a charitable cause—a portion of sales are given to help kids in foster care find a forever home.  Cost: Milk $3.75 and $5.75 per bag (Nuts) Founded by Heidi Fausel, Christmas Milk was started after a child received his forever family and was adopted. What took place after was an unexpected discovery of another wish that would come true…

As the family’s first Christmas approached, the little boy was excited about a drink he once had and kept asking his new family if they would be able to find it. He did not know the name, nor could he describe it – all he could say is “it tastes like Christmas”. His forever family let him try juices, sports drinks, anything they could think of, but were never able to find the drink he longed to taste again.

Then it happened. The little boy’s mom and dad gave him a glass of eggnog. The boy took a sip and jumped up! “That’s it!” the boy exclaimed. “That is the drink I have been talking about! It’s Christmas Milk!!” Christmas Milk is now available at major grocers in 14 states and the Bahamas, and is available nationally through www.Amazon.com Heidi is expanding her business to restaurants and hotels throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area, and is working to finalize agreements with distributors to build upon that success even further. In her own words, business “is exploding”.  In the true spirit of the holiday and in support of foster children, Heidi is donating 10% of the proceeds from sales to help agencies that provide foster care child services. The proceeds from 2011 sales will go to The Gladney Center for Adoption in Ft. Worth, TX.   

Books

I think these two books would make ideal gifts. The first one is The Bonne Femme Cookbook by Wini Moranville, all about French cooking, it’s from Harvard Common Press and costs $24.95. And the second one, is titled Gourmet Gifts by Dinah Corley, also available from Harvard Common Press and costs $19.95 http://www.harvardcommonpress.com/

Artisan Fair

I love fairs and sorry that I don’t live near this one in Chalfont, PA because it sounds like the ideal place to browse- http://www.holidaycraftboutique.com/

Jams and a Whole Lot More

Someone told me about this company and the prices are very budget friendly-

http://www.aldrichfarms.com/about-us

Toys with Approval

I’m sure most of you have a child on your holiday list and sometimes it’s tough knowing what to get with so many choices out there but check out this site for some suggestions-

http://nappaawards.parenthood.com/

Cookies for a Good Cause

This company have appeared on the Gift Guide before. When I shop sometimes it’s nice to know my money goes to a good cause so check out the Dancing Dear products-

http://www.dancingdeer.com/sweethome

Holiday Gift Guide part two will be posted later this week.

http://www.aldrichfarms.com/about-us