Recipe

Periodically, I’m going to start posting some good holiday party recipes that are very tasty but not at all expensive to make. Enjoy!

Tomatoes Provencal

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 24 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Place tomatoes, cut side up, in a large baking dish; sprinkle tops evenly with rosemary mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs over tomatoes; drizzle with oil.

Bake tomatoes until tender, about 18 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil. Broil tomatoes, 4 inches from heat, until topping is golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Holiday shopping tips

Holiday shopping can be stressful and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few helpful suggestions. First, always walk to the back of the store – that’s where the clearance items are. It’s best to start there. Also, you may not think you can bargain at a department or retail store, but you can! You can’t haggle on the price, but you can definitely ask stores to match prices of other stores. If a store has the item you want on sale but not in your size and another store has the item for full price and in your size, ask them to call the other store and honor the sale price – most of the time they will. Lastly, find out what day of the week your favorite stores do their markdowns. I know Gap and other similar stores do markdowns on Wednesdays and Thursdays. That’s when they get their new shipments in. Department stores often have Sunday sales, so look for markdowns on Saturday evenings. If you’re strategic, you’ll get the best sale items before they run out. Happy holiday shopping!

I also added some Turkey Day recipe ideas.

Hanging pictures

If you’re like me, you love your walls covered with beautiful artwork and pictures of loved ones. I feel like my house isn’t my home until I’ve hung each and every item in its own special place. You already know that I’m quite the bargain shopper, so many of my artwork and photos are framed in frames I’ve found at garage sales, thrift stores, trash piles, etc. Sometimes, while interesting, these frames don’t come already prepared with the proper hanging hardware. I could go to the store and buy a hanging kit with all sorts of fancy things to hang my pictures, but that wouldn’t be very frugal. Instead, I have a couple of sodas and use the tabs from the top of the can to hang my frames. All you need to do is hot glue or tack them with a small nail to the back of your frame. It’s an instant picture hanger, and it’s free!

Cleaning supplies

The cleaning supply industry has been booming lately. There are so many choices, and they’re all expensive! What happened to the day of paying 99 cents for a large bottle of comet? I’ve got some good suggestions for basic cleaning at home that won’t leave you broke. For your windows, simply mix 1/2 tsp. of liquid soap, 3 tbs. or vinegar, and 2 cups of water – put it in a spray bottle, and you have homemade windex made from items you most likely already have in your pantry! Draino is expensive as well, so instead just use 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar. And finally (and completely foolproof), just pour a cup of vinegar in your toilet and let it sit overnight. Scrub with the toilet brush the next morning, and you’ll have a spotless shine.

Makeup

We all love makeup, and for many of us it’s a necessity. We all also know that it can get expensive. I have sensitive skin, so I can’t buy foundation at a place like CVS. I will buy things like eyeshadow there because prices are much cheaper, and that gives you the opportunity to try more shades. With big items like foundation or your favorite perfume, make sure you buy at free gift time. Try not to go somewhere like Sephora that sells other brands without the benefit of their gifts. If you’re patient and wait for gift time, you’ll most likely get some type of moisturizer, an eyeshadow, a lipstick, mascara, and usually a tool like a mirror or a pencil sharpener. So take advantage of these gifts!

Cost of Going Green

This morning on NPR I heard that ultra-ritz Barney’s was going green for Christmas–their new mascot is Rudolph the Recycling Reindeer. I know it’s a joke but I think it’s great that “green” is going mainstream. Although both the reporter (her name escapes me) and the studio guest both agreed that it was impossible to “shop your way to saving the planet” I nonetheless think the little steps are crucial. The fact of the matter is that you can’t improve on something you don’t know about and if nothing else the heightening of awareness says to even the mega-spenders, “gee, maybe it’s not so hard”. And that’s good for everyone.

Grocery shopping

Grocery shopping is something that can come up a lot when talking about frugal living. We all have to eat, and we’d like to eat well – luckily we can have both as long as we avoid some common traps at the grocery store. First, packaged produce that’s already been cleaned and cut for you. Believe me, you can cut your pineapple yourself, and you’ll save a few bucks! Next, displays at the end of the aisle. They usually have things you don’t need…things that probably weren’t on your list. The displays look so nice, that you just have to pick up what they’re selling. Don’t! Just stick to what is on your list. Third, they place kid friendly items within their reach. Lots of parents can’t resist their little angel looking up at them, pleading for the item in their hands. So, put your kid in the cart or become better at resisting. They don’t need the items being marketed to them. Finally, deals like “5 for $5” when the usual price is $1.20 per item. You don’t have to buy all 5 to get the deal – if you just buy one, it will most likely ring up as $1. Look into this so you don’t buy more than you need. Studies show that when stores offer these types of deals, people buy 30% more of that item than they would have purchased originally. Again, stick to your list. So think of these little traps at the grocery store – awareness of them will save you some money! In other news, I got around to adding my frugal seafood recipes. Check them out!

Thanksgiving

There are thousands of college students and young professionals out there that will be away from their families this Thanksgiving. In the past, I’ve had very generous friends throw an entire Thanksgiving for everyone left in town. While much appreciated, this is expensive! So, consider the idea of a potluck Thanksgiving. You’ll want one person in charge to plan so that you don’t get 4 of the same things, so make a list and assign each person an item. Those who can’t cook can take care of the drinks, plates, etc. This is a great way to have a hearty Thanksgiving meal without spending way too much.

Free Museums

Traveling and becoming a cultured person can be an expensive endeavor. Luckily, many artistic, historical, and scientific establishments recognize this. You would be surprised how many free museums there are out there! Living in DC, I am lucky to have the Smithsonian system – every museum and the national zoo are always free. So even if you can scrape together enough for a trip to DC, it won’t cost you anything once you arrive. I realize every town does not have these free offerings, but many museums have free afternoons or free blocks of time. My hometown is a capital city and a college town, so it has numerous museums, only one of which is free. But, they all have special offerings – like 3-5pm is free or Sunday afternoons are free. So do a little research, and you’ll be able to experience these great educational experiences as well. I have also added some frugal potato recipes. Let me know what you think.

Homemade gifts

The holiday season is quickly approaching (as evidenced by the decorations and Christmas music creeping up in stores everywhere). If you’re on a budget, the holidays can be tough, especially when you have lots of loved ones! Leading up to Christmas, I’ll try to talk about different ideas for frugal gifts. One great place to start is with your imagination and creativity. Most of us haven’t thought about giving homemade gifts since we were young children, but it’s an idea that doesn’t have to go away with age. Homemade, personalized gifts are often more meaningful than anything you could buy. So think about your talents – everyone can create something great. Whether it’s a photo collage, a knit sweater, a handcrafted basket, your gifts will mean a lot to the people you love.