Thursday, March 19, 2009


As you all is my birthday. Well my husband is out of town and has been the month of March, that is right the WHOLE month. Well today he sent a yummy cake to my office for my birthday. Red of my favs. Thanks dear...I wish you were here to enjoy it with me.

Happy Birthday...

to me. Today is my 31st birthday. Gosh, saying that out loud makes me squirm. My 30th was a piece of cake, but for some reason 31 is hitting me hard. Too be young again...

Monday, March 9, 2009

You spent what???

With the state of the economy the way it is, everyone is looking for ways to cut back. I saw this article and thought...duh, money-saving 101, but thought I would post anyway.

The top 10 overspends

Afternoon snacks:

Do you munch protein bars as a healthier alternative to a chocolate pick-me-up? You could easily be paying more than $2 per bar and consuming just as much sugar as you would with your favorite candy bar. Stock up on fruit for a fraction of the cost when you do your grocery shopping. You'll be fitter and save a bundle.

Bottled water:

Yes, it's important to drink water every day. But picking up the bottled variety with your lunch is an expensive way to stay hydrated. Rather than spend $2 a day for water, buy a pitcher and a filter for about $20 and drink as much as you want for pennies a glass.


Can't get through the day without at least one cuppa Joe? Stopping at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts can set you back as much as $1.65 per cup. Splurge on a pound of gourmet coffee for $8 to $13 and you can make 40 cups for about 20 cents to 33 cents each.


Do you rush out to buy the latest CD by your favorite group even though there are only one or two songs you really like? Instead of paying up to $18 for the CD, download those cuts you want from iTunes for 99 cents each, or from Amazon for as little as 79 cents.
A night at the movies. An evening for

The movies:

An evening for two at your local theater costs an average of about $20, including the popcorn -- and closer to $30 in major cities. And that doesn't even count the babysitter. For just $5 a month, you can watch two movies from Netflix or pay $9 for unlimited viewing. If you're willing to wait a little longer for new releases, borrow them free from your local library.

Fresh flowers:

A bouquet of spring blooms brightens up a room and your mood. But purchasing it from a florist at $25 and up can quickly put a dent in your budget. Check out your local grocery store, which offers a selection of seasonal bouquets for $5 to $10.

Fruits & Veggies:

Sure, precut vegetables and salad mixes that are washed and bagged save a little time. But you'll pay for the convenience. Broccoli florets and sliced peppers cost $6 per pound, compared with one-third to one-half the price for the uncut versions. Lettuce varieties that are pre-washed and bagged sell for $5.98 a pound. But it takes just minutes to wash and spin dry enough arugula for your evening salad, and you'll pay one-third as much. Buying whole strawberries rather than sliced ones that are prepackaged cuts the price by 75%.

Credit card fees:

Every month, millions of credit-card customers pay their bills late, and they're assessed as much as $39 each time. Set up an automatic debit and you'll never incur another late fee.

ATM fees:

Each time you use an out-of-network ATM you pay an average of $3.43. Do that once a week and you'll rack up almost $180 in ATM fees every year. Avoid those charges by selecting a bank with a large ATM network or an online account that reimburses your ATM fees -- such as the eOne no-fee account from Salem Five Direct bank. Another alternative: Get cash back at the grocery store.

Packaging and mailing services:

Instead of paying FedEx $1.49 to fax one page, sign up to send free faxes from a provider such as faxZero or Save on shipping with the U.S. Postal Service's priority mail service. You'll pay just $4.95 to mail an envelope or small box anywhere in the U.S., and your parcel is likely to arrive within two days. Larger packages cost $10.35. That saves at least 50% compared with UPS's two-day service, the cost of which varies by weight and distance.

The above 10 Overspend items are from

I am/we are guilty of the following:

purchasing bottled water when we could have brought my own bottle and filled it up

purchasing coffee when I could have made it before I left the house instead I slept the extra 5 minutes

eating at the cafeteria at work instead of making my lunch at home and bringing it in...hey, it is really hard to give up my sleep

I/we save in the following areas:

I bring fruit to work everyday. I also have a stash of snacks at my desk or in the office refrigerator (crackers, pretzels, cheese, carrots, etc) in case I get hungry. Not only does it save me $$ these are healthier choices than going to the vending machine.

The husband and I make conscious efforts to only use our banks ATM, since we get socked with a huge fee depending on what the ATM banks charge...usually around $5.50 per withdrawal. Another helpful hint is when you are at the grocery store or Target and are using your debit card withdraw money.

I send faxes at work (yeah we all do it...just admit it) not that it happens very often. I send all packages through the USPS, which is much cheaper than FedEx or UPS.

All of our monthly bills are set-up on automatic debt...we never get any late fees.

When purchase anything on-line I always look to see if there is a coupon code available for the store I am making my purchase from. My favorite is

We only purchase items that are on sale or if we have a coupon...whether it be at the grocery store or a department store.


What are your tips for saving a few dollars?

Banana Cream Pie

Another co-workers birthday and this time I attempted to make a pie from scratch.

Banana Cream Pie (adapted from

9 graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
½ banana
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

6½ tablespoons (2.8 ounces) sugar
¼ cup (1.1 ounces) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups whipping cream
1¼ cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
4½ ripe bananas, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and banana until evenly mixed and there are no visible chunks of banana. Add unsalted butter and process to moisten evenly. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch glass pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake crust until set and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Pour through mesh strainer into medium bowl. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove vanilla bean.

Stir custard to loosen, if necessary. Spread ¾ cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with half of sliced bananas, then ¾ cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard. Chill banana cream pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Cut pie into wedges and serve with sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, March 6, 2009

When life gives you lemons....make Lemon Pound Cake!

I hate letting food go bad so when I saw a lemon in our refrigerator about read to go bad I went out looking for a recipe. I found this is sooooo easy.

One Egg Lemon Pound Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract (I used juice from a whole was as lemony as I would have the future I am going with the lemon extract)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter. Break 1 egg into a measuring cup and then fill to the 1 cup line with milk. Add to dry ingredients and beat well. Add vanilla and lemon flavoring.
3. Pour batter into an 8x4 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.

My co-workers gobbled this right up...another winner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Vote for Sasha

for Bissell's most valuable pet photo contest, now through March 10th.