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Monday, June 27, 2011

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!


I can't remember the last time I had real homemade ice cream, but "USA Weekend" (6/24-26, 2011) provided a great substitute! Simply start with a pint of store-bought iced cream (plain vanilla, chocolate or coffee-flavored) and "smash" in your favorite goodies...some examples:

Use vanilla ice cream to make these versions:

* Salted Caramel - fold in 1/4 cup of caramel sauce and 1 cup coarsely crumbled pretzel nuggets.

* Ginger-Peach Cobbler - plump 1/2 cup finely diced dried peaches in 3 Tbsp. peach schnapps over low heat. Fold mixture into the ice cream with 1/2 cup candied pecans and 1 cup coarsely crumbled ginger snaps.

Use chocolate ice-cream for these variations:

* Black Forest - stir in 2 Tbsp. brandy into 1/2 cup cherry preserves. Fold into chocolate ice cream along with 1 cup crumbled chocolate wafer cookies.

* Chocolate-Hazelnut - stir 1/4 cup Nutella, 1 cup of crumbled chocolate wafer cookies and 1/2 cup roasted chopped hazelnuts into chocolate ice cream.

And here's a great mixture with coffee ice cream:

* Mocha Latte - stir 1/2 cup crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans, 1/2 cup heavy cream (whipped to stiff peaks) and 1 cup crumbled chocolate wafer cookies into slightly softened coffee ice cream...

Yum! Some hints: Don't soften the ice cream too much. Cut the carton away from the ice cream and then cut the ice cream into chunks on a work surface to make it easier to fold items in. Finally, return the ice cream to the freezer to firm up and to allow flavors to blend (about an hour or so).

To watch a video of these recipes being made, go to usaweekend.com. Also check out ThreeManyCooks - a blog that offers lots more great ideas for easy cuisine!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Flips lead to flops when driving!


Redbook magazine (July '11) had a feature on a topic that I've ranted about for years with my own teen drivers...DON'T flip and drive! AAA confirms that "flip-flops cause crashes becasue they can easily become entangled in the car's pedals or slide off your feet, making it harder to stay in control." Driving barefoot also carries risks - sweaty, slippery feet...So wear REAL shoes and stay safe when driving this summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And speaking of style...


So this particular post isn't really my "style" as I believe at my age I don't really worry as much about what others think about what I wear...but if you like to be sure you are up-to-date with your wardrobe and accessory selections, go to www.gotryiton.com.

On this site you can upload photos of your outfit and the site's members will critique the overall effect and offer styling/shopping suggestions. Feedback is instant and free...ok, I'll admit it...I am not thrilled with this idea myself because whether others like it or not, I believe what I wear fits my own personality (though that is not to say I don't need advice!)...If you try it, please review it because the Penny Pincher is too chicken to post photos to the site!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stepping out in style!


Summertime events and beach time...what more do I need to say? It is definitely sandal time and "InStyle" magazine (May, 2011) offered a great "do it yourself" sandal makeover!

You only need a pair of T-strap sandals, a lightweight cotton scarf (in a colorful pattern) and a pair of scissors. Here are the directions quoted from this issue (but you can also check out ispy-diy.com for Jenni Radosevich's blog - she is InStyle's "resident fashion-craft expert" which I certainly am not!)

Steps:
1) Cut scarf into 24 strips (each about 2" x 1/2") - you will need 12 strips for each sandal.

2) Start at the top of the T-strap and tie a strip with a simple knot around the thong. Keep the knot facing outward and continue working your way down the strap with the rest of the 11 strips. Be sure the knots sit snugly together.

3) Repeat Step 2 on the second sandal.

Jenni's tip: "Make sure to leave enough room for you big and index toes to fit comforatbly around the base of the thong."

What a cool and inexpensive way to have one-of-a-kind sandals! Thanks, "InStyle" and Jenni!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Free medical information


It seems like everyone has medical questions these days and some of them may not require the copay or more to go in to ask your own doctor. A disclosure is required here - excessive pain, bleeding, accidents, potential emergencies...PLEASE see your doctor or go to the emergency room...but otherwise...

There is a virtual medical team at www.avvo.com (that's 2 v's, not a "w"!)...and you type your question in and one of their licensed participating doctors (of over 2,500 doctors) will send you a personalized response online. Have I tried it? Well, honestly no...the Penny Pincher is feeling ok right now so no reason to check it out but for basic concerns, I think this is a great free service (but NOT meant to replace regular medical check-ups and annual exams/tests).

And don't forget, an apple a day...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good, clean fun! (and I'm talking soap!)


I'll admit it...Martha Stewart is becoming a standard topic with me...but you have to agree, she has some pretty "hip" ideas even if she is a bit out of my league! One of my favorite articles in her magazine was about how to make pretty scented soaps out of ingredients you probably already have at home or can easily get at the grocery store.

You can get the soap base (glycerin soap) in craft shops - you melt it and mix in pureed fruits and/or herbs and mold them in household containers to make soaps with great scents and a pretty look!

Among the add-ins she suggests: lemon peel, grapefruit peel, pureed berries or herbs such as thyme, basil, mint or sage...lovely to set out in a guest bathroom or to use in your bathroom or kitchen!

For more "how-to's" and for tips on wrapping your soap bars, check out:

www.marthastewart.com/soap/crafts!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day


Happy Father's Day to any fathers reading this (though I imagine you have better things to do today)!
For those of you who have fathers, grandfathers, husbands who are fathers...do something special today...Yes, I'm a penny-pincher and I don't believe that the most expensive gift is the best one for the occasion...some ideas:

* Breakfast in bed (don't forget the coffee and the newspaper - he gets dibs on the sports & comics!)

* Hit a local fishing spot...have a picnic (he can bait his own hook)!

* One day free of anyone pushing their own agenda (kids - no whining, older kids - no begging for the car or cash, wives - no nagging - no I mean it!)

* Write your dad a note about fun times you remember from when you were younger...even in a homemade card!

This is one of those occasions where money doesn't necessarily buy happiness...he'll treasure any of these special times/gifts!

Here's to Dad!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Help the Hounds! (...and cats...and ferrets...etc.)!


My family and I recently started fostering for the AZ Basset Hound Rescue here in Arizona. We are strong believers in pet adoption, but found that being a foster family helps just as much...you take care of the bassets that aren't ready to be adopted yet for medical reasons or simply haven't found their "forever homes." When one is adopted, you move on to foster another pup...what a wonderful way to volunteer and reap the love of some great dogs.

Well, the ASPCA had a list of the top 10 ways to help your local shelter without a lot of time or money on your part! For the full list check out their website at www.aspca.org but meanwhile here are a couple of the ideas they suggest:

* Designate a day for your co-workers to donate spare change, tips, etc. to benefit your local shelter. Post signs and pass out flyers and make it an event!

* Volunteer to help play with puppies at the shelter and/or to take adolescent shelter dogs to obedience classes to make them more adoptable.

Whatever you can do to help will always be gratefully accepted!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pack Smart!


Summer vacations can mean fun, relaxation and...yes...the nightmare of packing to meet the airlines' baggage limits without getting all the added fees! I've traveled a lot for business (less for fun!) and I know to roll up my clothes to make more fit in a bag...done! Use a small purse and carry a big bag I can tuck it in so that I can bring my laptop on without having 3 carry-ons...done!

But now I've heard everything! AARP's magazine suggested taking a look at www.Scottevest.com for a line of jackets and coats that have 17 to 37 pockets. You simply wear what you would have packed! Can you imagine if you were the one selected to be searched at security? You would never catch your flight! This isn't meant for packing clothes, but more for electronics, water bottle, glasses, etc...sort of like wearing your purse or backpack, but it still seems a bit awkward.

I'm looking for other good travel tips, so post yours here!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On the Road Again...!


Yesterday, I blogged about volunteer vacations...today I have another inexpensive option (though not as selfless perhaps)! Check out Horizon Transport at www.horizontransport.com.

They will pay you to drive RVs across the US. You don't need any special training...they handle just like your own car! They also pay you for every mile you drive and provide the insurance coverage. Wow...it's like getting paid to travel!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Volunteer for a vacation!


Summer is upon us and if you're like me, I have no definite vacation plans, let alone the budget to go on one! Given all of the natural disasters and tragedies worldwide as well as unemployment rates still not recuperating, consider a way to help and get a holiday! You can get away to amazing places and help others at the same time. Some examples I found in AZ Magazine (Summer 2011) are listed below:

American Hiking Society - work on one of more than 70 US projects in national parks.
www.americanhiking.com

Volunteers for Peace - work on children's programs, renovation, language, agriculture and other projects in over 100 companies.
www.vfp.org

International Street Angels of the World - most projects run by this AZ-based non-profit organization are in Lima, Peru.
www.isawvolunteers.com

Cross-Cultural Solutions - help local people at childcare centers, health clinics, homes for elderly and other community organizations in 12 countries (such as Morocco, Thailand, Russia and Guatemala).
www.crossculturalsolutions.org

WorldTeach - Instruction mostly in English but also in other subjects across the globe.
www.worldteach.org

Habitat for Humanity - help build homes for families in need in the US and dozens of other countries. (My husband has worked for this one...great programs!)
www.habitat.org

So, needless to say, a passport may prove handy for many of these programs, but all are for a great cause. Check the websites listed to see what would be the best fit for you and your traveling companions!

Happy trails!



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reality TV meets Penny Pinching?


This is one of those "I wish I'd thought of that!" moments! In checking out one of the newer frugal living sites I visit online, I discovered that there is a new show on TLC called "Extreme Couponing"...
I have yet to watch it (and probably never will...sort of tired of reality TV), but they noted that these coupon clippers will buy anything that is on sale. That is so unprofessional in the Penny Pincher's opinion.

Why buy something you will never use? I only clip for items I will use (I might test a different brand, but it's still something I will use)! The only exception is when there is a great deal on something that I will donate to a food bank or similar agency. I already spend about 2 hours per week tracking deals and about 20 minutes in the checkout lane...can't imagine pushing it into a full-time job!

But, I've been known to eat my words (plus brownies that are on sale!)...if you've watched this show and have input about this topic, please post it! And if you haven't watched it, check out the website at
http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/tv/extreme-couponing

Maybe there are some deals on there as well!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chill out!


Face it, when you live somewhere as hot as Phoenix during the summer, you look for all sorts of ways to cool down. Yes, we have a pool (water is as warm as a bath!) and air-conditioning is as necessary as bottled water to survive here! But sometimes it's just the little things that give the appearance of cooling you down that really count! I love an idea that I saw in "InStyle" magazine (May, 2011)... they suggest setting out small clippings (bundled) of fresh herbs in colorful, "handblown" votives. The herbs with their scent and the color of the votives give a soothing, almost spa-like feel to your kitchen (along with handy herb access for cooking!). They suggested some lovely votives in blue and green glass, each of which runs $40 at glassybaby.com. You should know by now that the Penny Pincher doesn't go for that type of budget for displaying herbs (let alone the family heirlooms!). But check out Michael's, JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby or even Pier One or CostPlus (99 cents for clear votives!) for some look-alike deals to chill out with! Ah...can you feel the breeze?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spring into the season!


USA Weekend (Feb.11-13,2011) offered some "old-time" hints that will help you get ready for summer!

* Grow the perennial herb comfrey (no, I've never heard of it either!) and add it to your garden's compost mix to add lots of fertilizer-friendly nutrients.

* Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo and massage into your hair, then rinse. This should bring out the natural lighter tones in your hair...great for the summer!

* If you haven't already packed away your sweaters for the year, sprinkle whole cloves over them...this repels moths and they roll right off when you unpack in the fall (has to smell better than cedar or mothballs...ugh!).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Group chats!


Believe it or not, here is a site that I actually tried before passing it on to you! (I really need to do that more often!) Anyway...have a lot of friends that would love to all get on the phone and chat for a little pocket change? Try www.freeconferencecall.com and you can have up to 96 people on the call and even have it recorded (ok...so that's better for business calls unless it's a family reunion type of call that you want to save for the memories!).

Now I tried this just the other day for a business call, but "free" depends on how you use the service - there are fees to record or to get an 800 # for everyone to call in on...for 4 callers on the line for an hour it cost about $22 (we did not record the call but we did get the 800 dial-in number). If you're doing it for fun, you may want to bypass the toll-free number and let everyone just cover the cost of phone call for themselves. Still this is a huge improvement over three-way calling and really simple to set up!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cooling down!


Alas, I took a little longer off for my birthday than expected, but I bring you a refreshing treat to make up for the delay! Found a great idea from an grocery ad insert of all places! To add color and flavor to ice cubes drop fresh berries and herbs (mint is a great choice) into ice cube trays. Fill the trays with water or even ginger ale or lemonade and then freeze to add some zing to your summer beverages! And if you aren't the type to have ice cube trays on hand, fill a pitcher with ice and water and add slices of lime, lemon or cucumber to make a refreshing drink!