Monday, November 28, 2011

Give yourself some time off!

The holiday season is, without a doubt, one of the most stressful times of the year - it's special but we often feel the pressure to make everything perfect - the food, the gifts, the cards, the goes on and on. Remember to take some time for yourself each day. Give yourself some time with a good book, a cup of tea, a nap (yep, a nap!), or just a walk around the block. Take yourself away from the "to do" list and it won't seem so daunting when you get back to it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reverting to my childhood!

Remember favorite products, toys and candy from yesteryear? Want to bring some memories back at the holidays? I have a "new" favorite Christmas catalog from "The Vermont Country Store" (or shop online at : Some blasts from the past...

Ribbon candy
Silver tinsel trees with the color wheels to make them change color (ok...don't really miss them, but fun to see them again!)
Classic Fisher-Price Toys...the Chatter Phone, music box teaching clock, Snoop 'n Sniff pull toy dog
Mood changing lipstick
and...get this! the original Mystery Date Game (authentic reproduction)!

Even if you don't order anything, it's fun to "window-shop"!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Everyone has a little "elf" in them!

Struggling to think up new gift ideas on a budget? Check out one of the Penny Pincher's favorite sites on this subject:

They have suggestions and complete instructions for 8 "DIY" holiday gifts sure to cheer even Scrooge himself!

The goodies include:

Home- baked biscotti
Homemade bath salts
Infused vodka

...and more! Fun to make and great to give!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cards for Heroes

As always, I am looking for ways to make a difference without going broke myself! This particular option is easy, inexpensive and yet very important. When addressing your holiday cards this year, address a few extra - each one to the following address - to go to a veteran or active military man or woman to add some cheer to their holidays:

P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20191-5456

To be included, your cards must be postmarked no later than Dec. 9th! Cheers!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

So before I rush you into December...

Admittedly my last post may have pushed all the holiday stress buttons, so let's step back into November! "Woman's Day" (11/17/11) had an easy, interesting way to decorate your Thanksgiving of many in that issue I might add!

If you are using a solid color tablecloth (red looks great), spray paint whole walnuts (in shell obviously) with gold spray-paint and lay them around the table. They add a feeling of texture and color to the dinner table! Go a step further and try it with miniature pumpkins or squash!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Here comes Santa Claus...

Now my regular readers may recall, I am always early in my Christmas preparations - particularly cards and gifts. (This is NOT to insinuate that I like Christmas decorations and music the day after Halloween in my grocery store!). But, in case you are wondering, yes, my shopping is done, all out of town gifts have been shipped (I detest lines at the post office) and I will mail my already addressed cards out on December 1st.

But for the more normal holiday shoppers out there, here are some ways to sparkle up your wrapping for very little expense (way to go Martha Stewart!):

  • Use silver garland to create pom-poms for bows.
  • Layer colors of tissue paper when wrapping to give a unique look.
  • Use knotted paper "rope" to make really easy, stylish bows.

Check out more at and start wrapping!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Helping Military Families with Expired Coupons!

So to celebrate Veteran's Day while sticking to my "penny pinching" theme, I have a great program to tell you about (thanks Charlie!!!) Our US military commissaries will allow our enlisted soldiers and their families to use our expired printed coupons for 6 months past their actual expiration dates! Help our troops by sending your expired coupons to selected co-op operations for military family support centers overseas. Even better, start a larger collection program - collect at your workplace, organizations you are part of, schools, places of's easy and doesn't cost more than a little postage (and, for military bases, the postage is the same as US added expense)!

Here are some of the addresses:

Family Service Center
PSC 472, Box 8
FPO AP 96348-1150

Navy Family Service Center
U.S. Fleet Activities
ATTN: Coupon Distribution
PSC 476, Box 62
FPO AP 96322-1114

Unit 28614
APO AE 09177
PSC 810, Box 53
NAS Naples
FPO AE 09619

For additional locations go to:

And don't forget to thank every veteran and active military member you see!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun food fast!

In the Phoenix area, we can boast that we have our own Food Network star, Robin Miller ("Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller"). But what is really cool about this is that she specializes in 30-minute simple family meals. A few of her favorite tips? Check these out:

  • Double recipes and freeze half for a second meal.
  • Always have "must-have" items on hand (herbs, pasta, rice, olive oils, vinegars, etc.)
  • Build meals around seasonal foods - they will taste better and cost less.
  • Freeze 1/2 cup measures of ingredients such as onions and peppers to make quick soups or stir-fries without all the chopping.
For more of these helpful hints, check out Robin's latest book, "Robin Takes 5."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seven Memory Improvers

USA Weekend published seven ways to improve your memory (Aug. 26-28, 2011). I can be scatter-brained sometimes, but I am in favor of avoiding that! Here are their techniques as recommended by experts in the fields of cognition and aging:

1 - Paint a mental picture to help you remember a name or date.

2 - Switch things up - change your PC font to one that is actually harder to read as it forces you to concentrate more on the info you are reading.

3 - Talk to yourself ( problem there for me!).

4 - "Use it or lose it" - the more you work your brain the healthier and sharper it will be - learn a new language, play Scrabble, take on online course - exercise for your brain!

5 - Don't be a loner (they even suggest that Facebook and Twitter count as social activities because written communication keeps your language skills sharp).

6 - Take a walk - studies suggest that regular exercise might slow or even prevent memory deterioration!

7 - Get a good night's sleep (zzzzzz)

So...summed up: sleep well, study more, exercise, be sociable and work your brain!

Check out for more info and some puzzles to get you started!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Donate $5 to a school for free!?

This may or may not be a great deal for you...I personally am a Starbucks addict! Now until 12/21/11, if you purchase a specially-marked package of Starbucks Gold Coast Blend (Morning Joe edition), Starbucks in conjunction with MSNBC will donate $5 to the project of your choice. To be honest, Starbucks isn't any more expensive than many of the other brand options out there, so wouldn't you prefer to do some good while you get your caffeine fix? Visit for more information!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gift card deals!

Ever diligent, your Penny Pincher is looking for great resources for you to save money (well, ok, I'm not a total philanthropist - I want the deals for me too! USA Weekend, the insert in many of our Sunday newspapers (yeah, the paper version of the news; some of us still like that - if only for the coupons!), offers loads of savings ideas. One that I was particularly intrigued by was savings on gift cards. You can buy them at a discount OR (and this is really cool if your family and friends really don't understand your unique tastes!) you can sell them on these websites too!

Check out: and

What a great idea! I'm off to check them out myself!