Couch Potato Guide to Working on Your Fitness Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

So lately I’ve been noticing a distinct enlargement of my mid-section through over-indulging and lack of exercise. I’ve never been one for working out like a mad woman, but I do enjoy physical activity and to be honest the hardest part is getting motivated to begin. So I recently began reading a book I’ve had for about a year (yes, and I’m just now reading it): YOU On a Diet which outlines a whole plan for thinking about food differently and incorporating daily activity into your life. The best part? Exercise can be done easily in the comfort of your own home.

I know it’s hard to think that one can work up a significant sweat without the use of heavy duty equipment and a cute trainer (mmm….pecs) but the workout outlined in YOU On a Diet is not only easy to follow (takes about 20 minutes from start to finish) it’s cheap! Should be done 3-4 times a week.
1: (Stretch) Roll with It 5 reps ea. shoulder
Basic move. Roll your shoulders forward for a count of ten then backward.
2: The Chest Cross 25 reps ea. shoulder
This is a 2 part exercise. 1)Stretch arms out straight in front of you w/ palms facing in. Left arm above right arm pulse horizontally. repeat with right arm above left. 2) Move hands rapidly up and down. For the arm going up: palm faces the ceiling. For the arm going down: palm faces the floor.
3. (Stretch) The Clapper 10 reps
Just like it sounds. In a standing position clap in front of you; then bring the arms behind you and clap behind you. Make sure to keep your chest lifted through the duration of the movement.
4. (Stretch) The Hippie 15 seconds ea. side
With feet flat on the ground, bend forward at the waist. Alternate bending one knee and keeping the other leg straight (both feet should remain flat).
5. Push Up exercise to failure (basically: go until you can’t anymore)
If you can not do a full body push-up (ummm me), do push ups with knees bent. Make sure you keep your stomach muscles tight and your chin slightly up (look 6in past your fingers)
6. (Stretch) Pecs Flex
Sit up straight on your heels and clasp your hands behind your bum. Lift arms (knuckles facing out) while opening chest wide. Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together and breathe into the muscles being stretched.
7. Steady on the Plank exercise to failure

Get into full push-up position with elbows and toes on the floor. Kepp your bum tight and your stomach pulled in toward your lower back. Hold position.

8. Whose Side Are You On, Anyway? exercise to failure
Turn to the side by putting an elbow on the floor and rotating the opposite hip toward the ceiling. Keep your body in a straight line and resist pushing your butt back. Keep your abs tight as you hold the position for as long as you can. Alternate sides. Advanced Modification: dropping your hip, tapping it on the floor and bringing it back into the lateral plank.
9. (Stretch) Up, Dog, Up 10 seconds ea. position
From a down push-up position, with your hands below your shoulders, lift your chest and torso up into the air so your upper body is nearly perpendicular to the floor as you come onto the tops of your bare feet. Lean backwards to stretch your abdominals, but keep your butt relaxed. After holding, look over your right shoulder; hold. Left shoulder; hold.
10. The Rickety Table 20 reps ea. side
Put your hands and knees flat on the floor with your fingers spread apart and pointing directly forward. Keep your back flat and parallel to the floor. Look down 6in above your fingertips. Reach your right hand forward and your left foot back and stretch them as far away from each other as possible, keeping your right hand higher than your head. The higher your arms goes up, the more work your back has to do and the more effective the exercise. Now, bring your right elbow to your left knee. Your stomach should be pulled in the entire time, supporting your lower back. Advanced Modification: move your arm and leg out at a right angle from body, keeping them above your spine.
11. Superman exercise to failure; goal: 1 minute

Lie flat on your stomach, reaching your arms out in front of you with palms down. Spread out your extremities straight out in all four directions and lift your arms and legs simultaneously for enough repetitions to cause some mild fatigue. Continue to look down during the movement, and don’t over extend your neck up. Focus on how long you can make your body-not how high you can get it.

12. (Stretch) The Seated Pretzel
Sit down with legs stretched in front of you. Set your right foot down on the outside of your left knee. For back support, put your right hand behind your right butt cheek. Bring your left toe straight up. Reach your left hand up like a stop sign and then twist to right and bring your left tricep to outside of the right thigh. To go deeper, twist more to apply pressure against your right thigh. Act like a string is pulling the top of your head up to elongate the spine. Breathe by expanding your rib cage like you are blowing up a balloon.
13. Leg Drop (like it’s hot) exercise to failure
Lie on your back and put your knees at a 90-degree angle and your feet in the air. Drop your heels down, tap the mat, and bring back up to 90-degrees. Advance Modification: Do it with straight legs
14. X Crunch exercise to failure
Lie on your back with your feet on the ground and knees at a 45-degree angle. Cross your arms behind your head, putting your opposite hand to opposite shoulder forming an X behind your head. Rest your head in this X and keep your neck loose (in the beginning, you can put a tennis ball under your chin as a reminder). Using your abdominal muscles, crunch up about 30 degrees from the floor. Without holding your breath, you need to suck in your belly button to the floor to tighten the natural girdle you have to keep the entire 6-pack tight (oh it’s in there). Also pull up your pelvis muscles (like when you are holding in your pee) to strengthen the bottom of the natural girdle.
15. Seated Drop Kick 2 sets of 25 reps ea. leg
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg up with knee pointing towards the ceiling. To keep your back straight, interweave your hands around this knee. Act like there is a string pulling from the top of your head elongating your spine (and don’t bob your head). Lift your left straight leg 6in of the ground, keep your left toe pointed towards the ceiling.
16. Invisible Chair exercise to failure; goal: 2 minutes
Sit in a chair position (with no chair!) with your back against a wall, and with your hands palms up resting on your knees. Keep furniture near you or under you, so you can grab it to help yourself back up when you’re done. Keep your heels directly below your knees and at a 90-degree angle; your shoulders should be rolled back and the back of your head against wall.
17. (Stretch) Nice Thighs 20 seconds ea. leg
While standing on one leg, bend the knee of the opposite leg and grab the foot behind your back with one hand (use one arm to hold something to keep balanced). Pull the foot toward your butt while lifting your chest forward and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Switch legs.
Combine these exercises with 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise (can be broken into chunks throughout the day) and you’ll be on your way to Fergielicious-ness…or at elast you won’t be dying after climbing a flight of steps.
Picture and Workout Source: YOU: On a Diet, by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz
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Dinner and a Movie Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

Chiffon Top in Navy Forever21 $19.99
Skinny Capri Pant Bitten at Steve & Barry’s $8.98
Fuchsia Handbag Aldo on Sale $19.98
Necklace Mod Circle Pendant Claire’s $7.50
Women’s Mossimo® Piper Patent Sandals – White Target $17.99

Giving Windows the Right Treatment (without breakin’ the bank) Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

I was cruisin through cyberspace looking for innovative ways to add a little flair to my sweet pad, ivillage.comwhen I came across this awesome how-to from iVillage. Cost and source of materials has been added by me! Your guide in a frugal-filled life.

Moroccan Inspired Hanging Box Valance
Materials:
Artist wooden stretcher bars $14.82 Artistcraftsman.com
Fabric/paper I found a piece on sale at $4.99/yd Joann’s Fabric and Craft
Cardboard
Cording $5.99 Joann’s Fabric and Craft
Hot glue gun
Staple gun
To Make:
1. Measure window and purchase stretcher bars for a wooden valance frame that extends 3 inches to the left and right of the window and about 18 inches long (or to desired length).
2. Assemble stretcher bars into a valance frame. Designate top and bottom. Nail extra vertical bars (about four per side) to the back so the valance will stand out about 4 to 6 inches from the wall.
3. Cut a custom design out of cardboard and staple it to the front and sides of the frame.
4. Stretch your fabric over the cardboard frame. To make a smooth, taut fabric surface, stretch and staple the fabric from the middle out rather than from the edges in. Alternate stapling top and bottom, left and right.
5. To stretch around the inverted corners of your frame, cut a diagonal slit through the corner of the fabric. Now you have two flaps to stretch behind the frame.
6. Staple fabric into wood on the back, and hot glue the fabric to the cardboard if it doesn’t reach the wood.
7. Glue down a pretty design with cording and attach tassels from behind.

Steals and Deals Favorites Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

I’m a sucker for beauty products, and when I say sucker I mean I can not go within 10 feet of Sephora without being pulled to it like iron to magnets or a moth to the flame (or women to Robert Downy Jr, I mean for being a 10+ year drug addict the dude is smokin’… but I digress). The downside to this obsession of mine is the high price in which I pay to look (or maybe it’s just appear) beyooooootiful (my grandma’s words not mine….is anyone else noticing the obscene amount of parenthesis I seem to be using?). Anyway, there is nothing I love more than a cheap beauty find that happens to reside in the drugstore, because with me convenience is always worth it. So here’s a list of my favorite cheapies that work.

Jergens Natural Glow $6.99
Oh Jergens Natural Glow how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…errrm I never was one for Shakespeare but one I am for? A natural tan that doesn’t scream “OOMPA LOOMPA!” and if you believe this is the age of natural self-tanner you would be wrong. I love this tanner because, though it takes a few days to develop, it gives me all over color that appears natural and light. I usually use it after I’ve spent the day at the beach or by the pool since it seems to do much better as an enhancer rather than building a tan from scratch. Not to mention, the stuff smells good and pulls double duty as a lotion. Makes my skin soft and yummy? Check. Gives the appearance of a longer tan? Check. Gives me the brown skin I’ve alwasy longed for? Aaaannd Check.
O.P.I Nailpolish $7.50
Ok so at $7.50 a pop this stuff doesn’t exude deal, per se, but it sure beats a manicure. The reason I can justify the $7.50 price tag? Rich color and long lasting. This stuff never chips or cracks, and if I spot a chip it’s usually because I’ve been wearing it for a couple weeks without any touch-ups. The assortment of colors (over 200) doesn’t hurt one bit either.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer $14.39
I suffer from dry skin and this rich moisturizer never leaves me feeling greasy, yet soothes my skin and leaves it soft and dewy. The Positively Radiant formula also evens skintone and I noticed the improvement after a couple weeks. Plus the SPF 30 means I don’t have to apply seperate sunscreen and will protect me from wrinkles (fingers crossed).
Clean and Clear SOFT In-Shower Facial $6.99

I read about this gem on 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic. You apply in the shower, leave on for a minute then scrub with the exfoliating beads. They aren’t kidding when they say it leaves your skin smooth and soft. The results were incredible for a product that costs as much as an In-N-Out meal.

e.l.f. Professional Complete Set of 12 Brushes $12
Love these brushes and cheap cheap cheap! At a buck each or $12 for a set of 12 (it’s not rocket science people), these brushes allow you to stock up on brushes you never even knew you needed (an eyeliner smudger, 3 different types of eyeshadow brushes, brow brush etc).

Managing the Spend Lust: Better Known as I Gots the Urgin for Some Splurgin Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

Lately I’ve been coveting a high priced line of skincare known as the holy grail of facial products (well according to some of my favorite beauty blogs anyway). This product, Somme Institute, while effective and high quality, also comes at a hefty price. The following is a list of the products I want to purchase with their prices listed:

CLEANSER, 8 oz. $40

TRANSPORT, 3 oz. $58
SERUM, 1 oz. $82
A-BOMB, 2 oz. $70
Total $250 (not including tax and shipping)

Now I deem this product worth it some several reasons:
  • The serum and A-Bomb items are said to last around 4-6 months
  • You can squeeze excess moisture off the Transport pads, using the liquid for an additional time after the pads are gone
  • The high quality of the product ensures minimal amount used equals maximum results
  • The proved benefit of these products along with my quest for perfect skin outweigh hefty costs incurred

The old me would simply run out, buy the product then feel the weight of the consequences later when I noticed a void in my bank statement (usually I hear crickets chirping too but I’m pretty sure that’s psychosomatic as opposed to reality). But the new me (the new me is defined as: frugal, cautious, patient and culinary-skilled…we’re workin’ on the last bit) has decided to wait to purchase these items. I recently set up 2 ING Direct accounts: one for my emergency fund and another for what I deem my “luxe” fund. This luxe fund will consist of dollars and cents I’ve saved when I was able to and when I’ve built a big enough chunk, I may use it for whatever I deem worthy with no guilt. I know this method may seem common sense to most, but would you believe it took me years to actually realize the benefit of such a system? Furthermore, in setting up an ING fund which is removed from my bank and thus, far more difficult to reach, has proved to be much more effective. So, my luxe-loving, frugal minded readers, I have listed other ways to cut impulse buying and save for what really matters: a Gucci bag, a BMW or just a really awesome massage.

Freeze Credit Cards
This is an idea that is as old as time (or as old as credit card debt maybe…). Stick your credit cards in some water and place in the freezer. Why does this method work? Because it forces you to slow down and really think about your purchase before whipping out the plastic. You have to actually wait for the ice to thaw or make efforts to thaw the ice yourself before you can use the card. This allows time to be spent really thinking about the impending purchase and whether it’s worth it. Plus, in removing the credit card from you wallet, you are mitigating the risk of depending on credit as opposed to the cash you have on hand, which we all know can only benefit you in the long run.

Take Get Rich Slowly’s Advice: 30 Day Rule
I love J.D and his Get Rich Slowly philosophy. Not only is the man knowledgeable in the area of personal finance, he’s seen firsthand the havoc debt can create when you are simply irresponsible with your spending habits. His 30 Day Rule is unbelievably easy, yet you’ll surprise yourself with how such a simple concept is so novel to those impulse shoppers at heart. His steps are as follows:

1. Whenever you feel the urge to splurge — whether it’s for new shoes, a new
videogame, or a new car — force yourself to stop. If you’re already holding
the item, put it back. Leave the store.
2. When you get home, take a piece of paper and write down the name of the item, the store where you found it, and the price. Also write down the date.
3. Now post this note someplace obvious: a calendar, the fridge, a bulletin board. (I use a text file on my computer.)
4. For the next thirty days, think whether you really want the item, but do not buy it. 5. If, at the end of a month, the urge is still there, then consider purchasing it. (But do not use credit to do so.)

I like to equate this method with stop drop and roll. In the fired frenzy of desire, it takes a moment of clarity to stop, think about what you are about to do then calmly walk away (it’s ok to cry a little too).
Switch to Cash Only
I read a pretty interesting article in Money Magazine this month about eliminating credit and debit card purchases nearly entirely. The way this works is you set a budget for the month then withdrawal the amount of cash you are going to use. I suggest not keeping the entire amount in your wallet because, well, that would be beyond stupid. However, keep an envelope in your home with the monthly cash. Use debit cards for purchases that require Visa or Mastercard (online, travel plans and the like) but only use the debit card for absolutely necessary cases. Oh yeah, and cancel your credit cards…or employ tip one and put them on ice.

According to the article, the time period before interest in incurred on the balance of the card has dropped from 25 days to 20 days, and late payment amounts can add up over time. Additionally, studies have shown (and so has my pocketbook) that when plastic is involved, whether it be credit or debit, the spender is more likely to vary off course and spend more than when cash is in hand. The bank or credit card will often let you spend money you don’t have (albeit with some fees to pay later on), but the cash you carry, once depleted, is no longer there to spend.

Save the Money You Save
Hit a massive sale? Saved big with your coupons? Take the amount of money you saved in those transactions and apply them to your savings account. Often times, saving is all about mind games you play with yourself and this can be a small gesture that has big pay offs.

Out of Sight Out of Mind
Set up a savings account such as ING or eTrade and choose to direct deposit a portion of your paycheck to these accounts each pay period. It follows the rule of paying yourself first and what you don’t see in your checking account, you don’t miss. It’s the most pain-free way of saving I’ve come across thus far and has yielded significant results. Sure, less money goes into my checking account but I find that I still have money to pay all my bills. What I don’t necessarily have money for are all the small inconsequential purchases I used to make (4 bucks for a coffe? Sure! Another 20 for a meal out? Alrighty! OOOh I really like those shoes….) but I know that in saving my money I will be rewarding myself soon.

I think the primary principle in saving money is similar to following a diet. It isn’t a temporary lifestyle, but rather a lifestyle change. Furthermore, it isnt’ about depriving yourself entirely of enjoyment, but rather finding enjoyment in simpler things for the time being until you can afford to splurge. It’s hard to stick with a plan that never rewards you, but when you can indulge yourself guilt-free life is that much sweeter.

Thrifty Find Thursday Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

I want to introduce a new segment I’ll be doing every Thursday: Thrifty Find Thursday. Each Thursday I will compile an outfit made up of garments that cost under $25 each. So enjoy all you frugal fashionistas out there!

Top Go Jane.com $17.99

Denim Bermuda Shorts Old Navy On Sale for $11.99

Gold Sandals Payless Shoes $15.99

Necklace Forever 21 $5.80

Straw Bag with Gold Detailing Payless Shoes On Sale for $12.99

Gas Saver Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

I’m pretty sure that most of you are aware of gas prices at this point, and I don’t have to tell you that the price per barrel is setting all kinds of high records. However, there is one thing you can do to improve your gas mileage that you may be unaware of. On a recently trek through the internet, I came across an article detailing Hypermiling and how it can save you money at the pump. Hypermiling is a technique of driving which incorporates more efficient changes that lead to an improvement in your car’s gas mileage. Such improvements, as I’m sure you are picking up on by now, will save you money. So how does one go about hypermiling? Well, my little oil-guzzling dears, I will tell you some of the many ways people out there are conserving fuel.

Take Your Gas Mileage
This can be done by setting your trip odometer to 0 the next time you fill up at the gas station. On your next stop at the gas station make sure to note how many gallons it took to fill your car up. Record this number along with the reading on your trip odometer; divide the number of miles driven for that period by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. This is your gas mileage.

Lighten the Load
Simple people: the heavier the car, the more energy it uses in hauling it’s fanny down the street.

Avoid Hard Acceleration
The harder you press down on the gas pedal, the more gas you’re gonna use. If you have an automatic transmission, let momentum carry you forward a bit before pressing the gas pedal. It takes a lot more energy to start a stopped object than it does to increase the speed of an already moving object. Capiche?

Car Maintenance
Tires that are low on air make your car work that much hard to reach and maintain speed. Also, changing your oil every 3,000-5,000 miles will ensure that your car runs easily and thus, uses less fuel.

Park Forward
Park in a spot facing out, since it uses 25% less gas to pull forward than it does to back out.

The 3 Second Rule
Do you believe that cars actually apply their brakes 10%-25% more than necessary? Actually, after driving with my mother….I believe it. In creating a three second cushion between yourself and another car, you are allowing yourself more space to adjust to the other drivers around you without constantly applying the brakes (sidebar: if you can’t remember how to do the three second rule choose a landmark as you’re driving and time the number of seconds that pass from the time the car ahead of you passes it to the time you pass it). Through creating a buffer between yourself and other cars, you are more likely to rely upon your car’s momentum rather than the brake to slow down; doing so takes less energy (read: gas).

Remember, even when employing some of these tips; be courteous and aware of other people on the road. Sure, going exactly the speed limit is going to save you some money but is it worth causing an accident?

Book Swap Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

Lately I’ve been debating about whether to cancel my cable. I know this will save me loads of money per month, but it will also induce massive amounts of boredom since TV is one of my main sources of entertainment (oh I know, I’m a total potato ok?).

Now before you wax on about how I’m killing brain cells and I’m nothing but a droid obsessed with obtaining “stuff” fueled by the havoc commercials wreak; allow me to defend myself. 1) I have Tivo so those commercials hold little power over me and, more importantly, 2) I’m also a huge reader. Books, however, are something I can dramatically reduce the cost of.

There are the obvious choices such as the library and used book stores. However, I managed to come across another (easier) source for my thirst of knowledge. What is this titillating tidbit you ask? Why it’s Paperback Swap! An online medium for folks to get rid of the books they don’t want and find books they do. How it works is you register and list the books you have and want to get rid of; which is done by ISBN number (the barcode numbers on the back of your book). Each book is worth a credit, so you send a book off and you receive one credit which can then be used to select a book from another user. Granted, the likelihood of finding new releases is rare, however, I’m willing to wait a few months to save 15 bucks. Shipping typically costs around $2.50 and while you pay to ship the book to the requester, when you request a book the shipping is paid for.

I love this site because, though I enjoy knowledge packed non-fiction, I’ve also been known to devour a little genre called Chick-Lit. Chick-Lit books make awesome beach reads, but are a little hard to justify purchasing since I tend to read them once and be done with them (unlike books similar to Freakonomics and The Encyclopedia of Theories books I read over again). It’s a perfect way to indulge guilt-free and still stay busy during the idle summer months.

Frugal Food Fixes Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

When I was younger my mother used to make an excellent (and cheap!) meal: Cabbage and Noodles. That’s it. It was an easy meal that featured simple ingredients and looking back I now know she made it, not for it’s inexpensive attributes, but rather because she has always hated cooking and this recipe is super easy. Sauté onion in a pan of butter, add cabbage. Boil egg noodles al dente, add to mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Add boiled kielbasa sausage and in 15 minutes you have a meal that kids love (me and my sister did). My father hated this meal, however, because he said it reminded him of the Depression and it’s simplicity left much to be desired (can you tell, he’s the cook in the family).

Though the economic outlook was much more optimistic during this time (it was the early 90s, after all), I feel that cheap eats is more a priority now than ever before. Not only has gas reached record proportions but food has as well. According to MSNBC According to MSNBC, food inflation is the highest it’s been in 17 years and

“Eggs cost 25% more in February than they did a year ago, according to the
USDA. Milk and other dairy products jumped 13%, chicken and other poultry nearly
7%.”

The cost of wheat has particularly caught my eye, because this effects everything from ceral to bread to crackers. According to ABC correspondent, Sharon Alfonsi on World News with Charles Gibson:

“U.S. wheat stock piles have hit a 60-year low and wheat prices have never been
higher. That means the cost of pasta has doubled and that loaf of bread – it’ll
cost you an extra 20 cents. Economists say it is the fastest-rising rate of food
inflation in nearly 15 years.”

So it all got me thinking….I have recently realized that food is an easy way for me to save money. I refuse to sacrifice quality of cosmetics, hair product and skin care, however, food is something I can easily scrimp on. Not only can I save by employing my shopping savvy skills (coupons, lists etc), I can also choose recipes that feature inexpensive ingredient. Genius! (….or common sense for the innately frugal folks). Though something like rice and beans is an easy and cheap recipe, I wanted to feature some recipes that didn’t scream “RECESSION!” So for your palate pleasure here are my choices of cheap recipes.

I came across a blog called Cheap Eats where $3 recipes are featured. The following is his recipe for Penne Pasta Casserole (I sometimes eliminate the meat which further lowers the cost). Another tweak I would do is substitute mozzarella cheese for cheddar, I don’t believe it would raise the cost of the recipe too dramatically. Besides, I’m far too Italian to make this dish without a proper nod to my people.

Penne Pasta Casserole
1 26oz can spaghetti sauce (Hunt’s, etc.)

1/2 med. yellow onion

1 tbsp e.v. olive oil 2-3 cloves minced garlic

1/2 box dry penne or other pasta

1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped

1 cup grated cheddar

1/3 lb ground beef or italian sausage

salt, pepper, sugar to taste
Brint a pot of water to a boil, preseason with salt and olive oil. Over low heat in a large skillet, add some olive oil, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt; sauté until translucent (you can keep adding some water to prevent it from drying out). Remove to a plate. Add the ground beef and/or italian sausage (casing removed) and brown that. Drain it, return to pan with onion mixture. Add spaghetti sauce, and cook on low stirring occasionally for about 10-15 min. Add chopped basil (and any other herbs or veggies at this point). You may want to alter the flavor with salt, pepper and sugar depending on your spaghetti sauce.
When water boils, add the penne and UNDERCOOK it. How much depends on you and your oven. I just know you don’t need to cook it all the way because it’s going in the oven. When done to your liking, drain pasta and rinse it in cold water, if you like. I know they say not to rinse it, but because it’s a casserole I feel the noodles benefit a bit from a dunk.
Combine spaghetti sauce mixture and noodles together in the pot. In a shallow baking dish (flatter, shallower allows for more cheese browning area – if you like that.) Top with cheese, bake at 350F for about 30-45 minutes. You might want to cover lightly with aluminum foil until the last 10 minutes. You can also blast it in the broiler if you like the top extra crunchy.

I love the combination of Turkey and Cranberry. Here is an easy recipe for those of you who share my sentiment. Additionally, if fresh cranberries can not be found, I’d substitute dried ones.

Cran-Apple Turkey Medallions
2 pounds turkey tenderloin, cut into 3/4 inch medallions

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

2 minced garlic cloves

4 diced shallots

1 cup peeled and diced cooking apples

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cranberries

1/2 cup orange juice

Salt and pepper the turkey medallions. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet. Brown the turkey medallions quickly on each side. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and shallots. Cook until the turkey is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in the center. Place the medallions on a warm serving plate. Add the rest of the ingredients to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the apples are soft. Pour the sauce over the medallions and serve.

I found this recipe on Frugal Cooking and though not fast, makes a great snack. Perfect for freezing and having anytime, it take’s a little elbow grease, but once made would be a great convenience.

Soft Pretzels
*If you plan to freeze these do not put salt on them until after you pull them from the freezer
4 to 4 ½ cups flour

2 ¼ teaspoons yeast

1 ½ cups milk

¼ cups sugar

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons salt

2 quarts boiling water

1 slightly beaten egg white

Sesame seed or coarse salt

In mixer bowl combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast in saucepan heat milk, sugar, oil and 1 ½ teaspoons salt just till warm (115 –120) stir constantly.
Add to flour mixture. Beat at low speed of electric mixer for ½ minute,scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.

Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can mix in with a spoon.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic(6-8 minutes) Shape into a ball.Place in lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface.

Cover; let rise in warm place till double( about 1 1/2 hours)Punch down; turn out onto lightly floured surface,cover let rest 10 minutes. Roll into a 12×8 inch retangle. Cut into 16 strips, each 12 inches long and ½ inch wide. Roll each into a rope 16 inches long.Shape into pretzels.

Let rise, uncovered, 20 minutes.

Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in the boiling water. Lower 3 or 4 pretzels at a time into boiling water; boil for 2 minutes, turning once. Remove with slotted spoon to paper toweling; let stand a few seconds then place ½ inch apart on well greased baking sheet.

Brush with mixture of egg white and 2 tablespoons water. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seed or coarse salt. Bake in 350 oven 25 to 30 minutes or till golden brown.

Wanna figure out the cost per serving of some of your favorite recipes? Check out this awesome Cost Per Serving calculator

Olive You, Olive Oil! Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

Last night I was treating myself to an at-home pedi when I realized I was lacking some heavy duty moisturizer that would do my dry little tootsies some good. So I did what any dollar-conscious, frugal loving gal would’ve done and took a gander through my kitchen cupboards. I came across some olive oil and figured, why not? I dabbed some on a paper towel and proceeded to rub my feet down with the oil, paying special attention to my cuticles on my toes. I rubbed the oil thoroughly and then slipped on some cushiony socks and would you believe I woke up this morning with the softest feet ever? It got me thinking and after a little research I found that olive oil is incredibly versatile around the house (the baking soda of oils, if you will).

Body Aches and Pains: It has been said that olive oil can relieve pain caused by arthritis, and the results last for a substantial amount of time. You can also ease muscular tensions my massaging the oil into sore spots. You will feel the effects immediately.

Earache relief: According to Rachel Lewis, MD, a pediatrician at Columbia University Medical Center. Warm olive oil can be used to soothe the symptoms of an achy ear. (Note: Only for kids 2 and up). Use a syringe to place 2 to 4 drops of warm oil in the ear of child, 5 to 10 in ear of adult. Make sure to follow up with doctor as this is not a cure.

Dry-hair conditioner: Healthy Living found this use for olive oil: Revive damaged hair with this treatment from John Masters of John Masters Organics hair- and skin-care lines: Saturate hair with extra-virgin olive oil, then wrap with a warm towel for 20 minutes. Shampoo, rinse, and condition if needed.

Lip Balm: Mix olive oil and bee’s wax in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Bath Oil: Pour 1-2 ounces of olive oil into the bath (mix with essential oils for a soothing aromatherapy affect)

Body Scrub: Mix oil with sea salts or sugar for an invigorating and hydrating scrub. You can also use coffee grinds, which will minimize the looks of cellulite.

Sleep Better: By having a sip of olive oil before bed, you may hydrate a dry throat and lubricate throat muscles. …this is one I’m going to have to pass along to my parents.

Treat Lice: Apply olive oil to your youngster’s hair, and leave on for at least 40 minutes. Shampoo twice, then apply a preventative.

Remove paint from your skin: Rub on olive oil onto messy hand and arms (or faces) and allow the oil to soak into the skin for five minutes, and then rinse with soap and water.

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