Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall: A Time for Treats & Comfort Foods

As the nights begin to cool, activities around my house have always turned toward favorite Autumn activities so I'm beginning a whole new category called "Fall". In the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting decorating ideas, old Halloween favorites, crafts and of course, treats and comfort foods. This week, I'm experimenting with variations on popcorn balls. It should be fun.

In the meantime, try your hand at making lollipops. It is a fascinating process for children to watch. Quick. Easy. And inexpensive. Sure, you can go to the expense of buying molds and sticks or you can try some thrifty alternatives. The ones pictured were simply spooned onto a greased cookie sheet. A great and thrifty source of safety sticks is cotton swabs, with the cotton removed.

Be creative. Have fun. Here's the recipe. Feel free to copy & paste:

1 c. Sugar - 2/3 c. Water - 1/3 c. Light Corn Syrup
2-3 drops of Food Coloring - 2-3 drops of Flavoring
(oil extracts give more intense flavor)

Mix first three ingredients in pan and cook, stirring only until sugar is melted and temp. reaches 260 degrees. (Or until a few drops of mixture become brittle when dropped in cold water.)

Remove from heat. Add color and flavoring and stir only enough to mix.
Quickly pour hot mixture into greased molds or spoon onto a greased, flat pan. Remove lollipops from mold or pan as soon as they are firm. If allowed to remain too long, they may crack while being removed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is Your DEBIT CARD Busting Your Budget?

Because so many of us find ourselves in positions where each dollar is becoming more and more important, when I found this article, I knew the information needed to be passed along.

Often deposits - even "direct deposits" take days to clear a bank. A deposit to our accounts on the 1st may not show up as available funds to our accounts until the 3rd or 4th or even the 5th. Unfortunately, the checks we write or the debit card we use, withdraw funds from our account immediately. We think you have money in the bank. The bank says we do not.

My Wells Fargo bank charges a $35 fee for every transaction involving "Insufficient Funds". That means that a $5 purchase can cost me $40 so you can see how a couple of inexpensive purchases can result in the loss of hundreds of dollars.

This September 9, 2009 New York Times article by Ron Leiber and Andrew Martin details just such banking practices, is quite and eye-opener and provides ample motivation for us all to sit down for a policy discussion with our bankers. The information I gathered actually inspired me to move my accounts to a small, local bank.