Saturday, February 13, 2010

$5 Chili for 8-16 in 20 minutes

When it snows in Florida, you know it's time for chili.

This recipe is a really fast, 4-bean chili that is packed with protein, looks good and tastes even better. As straight chili, accompanied by cornbread or chips, it will serve 8. Mix it with cooked elbow macaroni or serve it over rice and you can stretch it to serve 16. Cheese is a good topping but adds to the cost. If cost is not your issue, top it with grated cheese, sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced green onions.

If you are going to cook macaroni, rice or cornbread and time is an issue, get them started before you begin to make the chili.

Ingredients are shown:
3/4 to 1 lb ground meat, 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1-2 heaping tsp minced garlic, 2-6 Tbsp chili powder, salt to taste, 1 can each of chopped tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, light red kidney beans and butter beans.
Open your cans while the meat is browning with the onions, garlic, salt & chili powder. NOTE: for added "heat" add a finely chopped jalapeno, more or less, to suit your individual taste. Add tomatoes and bring to boil. Add all cans of beans, draining only the black beans and butter beans. Bring to boil. Stir well. cover and reduce heat to lowest setting. Serve when accompaniment is ready or allow to "slow cook" on lowest setting - stirring occasionally until you are ready to serve it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

TIME or MONEY - Which is in shortest supply?

I asked the question on Facebook. The more than 50 responses were only one away from an even 50/50 split and 1/3 commented that it was a tough decision as both were in short supply.

Often, saving money requires an investment of time while time-saving short cuts tend to be more if time and money were in a battle and only one could win.

In addition to the conflict between time and money, there are degrees of distress over such matters. Some seek more time to relax and time for self while others rush from job to job, task to task with never an end in sight. some consider spending less on vacation while others live month to month, week to week and even meal to meal without "vacation" even in their vocabulary.

The internal debate is as varied as:
Boutique vs Big Box Store
Big Box Store vs Thrift Store
Cleaners vs Home Laundry
Clothes Dryer vs Line Drying
Eating Out vs Microwave Meals
Microwave Meals vs Homemade Soups

Whether well-to-do and cutting back or on welfare and barely getting by, there are ideas, suggestions, adjustments and approaches that can help. I've been advised that to be successful, I must find a narrow niche and fill it. I simply can't. My niche is a better quality of life no matter what your circumstance. To that end, your comments, contribution of ideas and suggestions are always welcome.

For tips from readers, click HERE !

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


"Fill plastic soda bottles ALMOST full of water (it expands as it freezes) and fill in the space in your freezer with them. the more space taken up in your freezer, the more efficient it runs. Remove what you need to when stocking up with goods. Keep them for when the power goes out - it will keep everything colder longer. Also, you will save money and time when you need ice for a cooler."

"Coupons, coupons, coupons! And them wait until the store has the item on sale or BOGO to use the coupon. Usually you can get items like toiletries really cheap this way."

"You should visit this link. I personally know this lady. Her food bill is about 1/3 of what it would be if she did not coupon."
NOTE: I checked out this site. It's amazing! The woman is almost feeding her family for free and is well supplied should there be an emergency.

"I just had my first experience with a "dollar" type store where everything was actually only one dollar (unless it was 2 or more for one dollar). I made a last minute decision to stay overnight out-of -town and was not prepared. Bought toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and something else and got out of there for only $4. I couldn't believe it! "
NOTE: In the southeast, we have one such store "Dollar Tree". I personally buy my cleaning aids there. They have an all-purpose degreaser & spot remover called Awesome Orange - $1 a bottle and the best all-round cleaner I've ever used at any price.

"I have learned so much from my grandparents over the years about saving money. Pay Cash! Save your pennies! If you can live without it - do. They have never owned a credit card and have always told me that the "road to poverty is paved with plastic". I wish I'd paid attention to their example years ago."

"I haven't had to buy my Halloween pumpkins for 4 years. After purchasing a small $4 pumpkin 5 years ago, it sat on our stoop until below freezing weather started occurring. the pumpkin started to decompose so we threw it in the garden. It busted and flew apart. The following summer there were many pumpkin plants growing everywhere and many pumpkins ready to pick by mid October. Every year, we are still getting pumpkins from the same small patch."

for the following links to access free postage for all families of our deployed military:
US residents
CANADA residents
UK residents
AU residents

Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't Throw It Away

This is the collection of scrap junk that has remained in the bottom of Christmas Decoration bins for years. Believe me, this is a very flattering photo. Nothing about this stuff was lovely. Only moments before tossing it in the trash, I wondered if I could possibly find a way to use the unrelated, tattered bits and pieces.

This little bouquet box of buds has become a rose scented touch of casual Valentines decor for the bathroom vanity. It was nothing more than a block of packaging foam with stems inserted - covered with sheet moss left over from a wedding floral, a strip of brown paper bag and one of fabric tied with a strip of raffia and accented with a button. (BTW - I never purchase buttons, I wait for a "bag sale" at a thrift store and fill it with items that have buttons I like.)

This hanging sachet nosegay turned out to be really nice. I started with an old satin-wrapped Christmas ball intending to cover it entirely with rose buds. Unfortunately, I ran out half way through and had to rethink my original idea. The cone concept worked well and is just fabric glued to poster board finished with cording and ribbon tassels. I closed it in a plastic bag with strong scented cinnamon potpourri for a few days and the fragrance is still holding 2 months later. It was a good kitchen decoration at Christmas and now adds a touch of decor for Valentine's Day.

Of course the roses came with leaves and it seemed a challenge to find a use for them. With a little hot glue, an old lamp shade became the perfect topper for a garden theme lamp.

Finding a use for the old grape clusters was a bit of a challenge. Eventually, I decided to spray them with white paint and add them to the Christmas tree that was decorated in white and clear glass.

Nothing new or exciting about pinecones except that I found that a little sheet rock mud is the perfect material for adding that "touch of snow" which brightens them and enhances the detail.

The finials, alas, did not make it into my busy holiday schedule. They haunt me from a corner of my work station. I thought they had the look of elf faces with little pointy hats. Perhaps they'll turn into fairies for the spring garden. Time will tell.