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Cheryl's Sensible Cents - 12/01/2005 Christmas Fun
December 01, 2005

Did You Know?....

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year; 25 percent of them are from the nation's 5,000 choose-and-cut farms.

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My testimonial on the new SBI WAHM page. I'm really proud to be a part of it. Hint: Look for the blue box on the right hand side

No man's cred-it is as good as his money. - John Dewey

Featured Articles:

Have some Christmas Fun - by Cheryl Johnson

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Breadmaker Mix
Triple-Treat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Moist Chocolate Cake w/Cocoa Butter Frosting

Breadmaker Mix

Combine: 13 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk

Label and package in six 2 1/4 cup containers if using a 1 pound loaf breadmaker, or in four 3 1/3 cup containers for larger capacity breadmakers. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months.

To make a small loaf:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups breadmaker mix
1 Tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water

To make a large loaf:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/3 cups breadmaker mix
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups warm water

Follow your breadmaker's instructions for adding ingredients to machine and enjoy your fresh baked bread anytime you want!

- Tiptionary by Mary Hunt

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Triple-Treat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 4-5 dozen
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, divided
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 package (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
Reese's Pieces (optional)

Grind one cup of oats in a blender or food processor until fine. In a large bowl, stir together the ground oats, remaining 1/2 cup whole oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and peanut butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Gradually add the oatmeal mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill for at least 2 hours (up to 1 week).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Roll the dough into balls about 1-2 inches in diameter. Press a Reese's Piece on top of each one and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes. The cookies will be just barely set. Cool on wire racks. - Another delicious recipe from Best Home Baking by Polly Banister and the Editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac

Moist Chocolate Cake w/Cocoa Butter Frosting

*This recipe was offered in the August 1st issue with the ingredient quantities for the coffee and milk omitted. I apologize to everyone for the error. I want to thank Cindy for bringing the error to my attention.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup milk
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 nine-inch round cake pans. In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and sugar. Add the oil, coffee, and milk. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes more. Batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on racks before frosting.

Frosting: use electric mixer to cream the butter and cocoa. Beat in the confectioners' sugar. Beat in the vanilla and enough milk to make the frosting of spreading consistency. Frost the cake.

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Share Money Saving Tips, Recipes, and Frugal Living Ideas.
Send in Your Readers Tips

It is our goal to one day have a large reader's tips resource for each of our savings categories. Please won't you help us by taking a few minutes to share your tips? Recipes, recycling and cleaning tips, crafts or other savings strategies are all welcome.

Money Saving Tips

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  • When you save you earn. I earned some unexpected money yesterday evening! This always excites me. Easy savings. Remember to check your grocery reciepts. I picked up two 4lb bags of navel oranges on special at two for $3. 8lbs of oranges at $3 is a pretty good deal. When I checked the reciept, they had charged me $2.88 each.

    Well, of course, I marched right over to the customer service and noted the error. Since this store has a refund policy for pricing error (meaning you get the item for free. Limit one item free), I got $2.88 back for one bag (free) and the difference back on the other bag $1.38(should have been $1.50 per bag they charged me $2.88). So I got a total of $4.26 refund. Paid $1.50 for 8lbs of Navel Oranges. What a bargain.


  • Old Game Boards - This one goes right along with our featured article today. Save old gameboards to make your own family or party games. Save game pieces as well
    Use for childrens projects that require cardboard or displays

    Use folding game boards to make decorative miniature divider screens. These miniature screems are great for hiding cluttered areas or just as a decorative countertop/shelf piece. Use fabric, paint, or a combination of decorating tools to create your own unique screen to suit your home decor theme

  • Business Cards - Old Business cards can be used in making homemade games as well.
    Use as place setting cards. Cover printing with paint, marker, fabric, Decorative paper, etc and use the blank side to write your guests name on.
    Cover printing as indicated above, punch a hole in one corner or end and use as gift tags.
  • Curtains - Use old red or green (or other suitable color for your decorating theme) curtains as a backdrop for your Christmas tree. Attach curtain rod to wall behind tree and let curtains hang freely. This is great if you have photos, or other artwork/wall decorations on walls around the tree and want to eliminate the distraction so the focus is on the tree.

    Use valance curtains to cover a space between the ceiling and cabinets. Provides color, texture, and is easy maintainace as opposed to placing plants, knick knacks and other decorative objects in this space.

  • Cleaning and Laundry Tips

  • Antistatic Spray - Mix 1 part liquid fabric softener with 20 parts water in a spray bottle. Set on spray mist. Use the same as you would a commerical aerosol antistatic spray by spraying on clinging fabics
  • Fabric Freshener (Febreze substitute) - In a 36 oz spray bottle. Pour one to two capfuls (to suit your desired strength of scent) of your favorite fabric softener and fill the rest of the spray bottle with water. Use as you would commercial product.

  • My Favorite Survey Sites

    Both are free to join:

    Opinion Outpost

    American Consumer Opinion


    Have some Christmas Fun

    Holiday 2005 125x125
    Make Christmas a fun time for the whole family. Enjoying a frugal Christmas is easy when you replace commercialism with fun! Include the kids in a variety of fun activities to not only distract from the commercial side of Christmas but to sneak in some great "quality family time" and learning activities. Christmas parties and games are a great way to achieve this. Here's one game that you, and the kids, can create and have fun with in several different ways.

    Create a Christmas Trivia Game. Christmas trivia games can be played a few different ways. For a party you can put together a list of trivia questions, make the required number of copies, and the person who answers the most correctly wins a gift. For the family, create a complete trivia game using old business cards or index cards. Cut index cards in half. This is a great way to recycle old business cards. Put one question and answer on each card and place in a pile. (you can use easy, medium, and hard questions if you desire or want to use with a group of mixed ages, be sure to identify each in some way and keep different levels separated) Here are some different ways you can play,

    1. Three strikes your out! This is good for a large group or for a quick game with a small group. Designate a score keeper. Decide who will go first.

    First person draws a card with question suitable for the person to his/her right, (if using different levels decide age group/level deciding factors, for instance, only under 12 draws easy cards, adults must draw hard level, etc.) He then asks the person to the right the question. If the person gets it right, all is ok. If the person gets it wrong, they get one strike from the score keeper. It is now this player's turn to draw a card for the person to his/her right.

    Continue moving around the circle to the right. Once a person reaches three strikes, they are out of the game. The last person remaining gets a gift.

    2. Most Points Wins: If using different levels, designate points for each level. ( ie. easy=1pt med=2pt hard=3pt ) Players group in circle fashion. Designate a score keeper or have each player write down their own score on paper and pencil you supply.

    Place cards in a pile. Draw and answer until all cards are gone. Correct answer gets points added to player's score. An incorrect answer gets that number of points subtracted from score. The player with most points when cards are gone is winner.

    3. Team Play: Separate into two groups, evenly if possible. Each group has a designated "Santa's helper." (to make it more interesting, have some props, like a Santa hat or elf hat for Santa's helper.) Separate trivia cards into easy, medium, hard levels.

    Mark a spot for each Santa's helper to begin, an equal distance from destination point where the prize is kept. (From one side of an average size room to the other is a good distance.) The prize can be wrapped as a gift or not. Be sure the prize is something that can be split up among the group. For example, a bag of candy, some homemade ornaments, small trinkets or toys, candy canes, etc.

    Each team is lined up in order of how they will answer. On each team's turn, the player up gets to choose which level trivia card is used. Have an adult draw a trivia card from the appropriate level and ask the question. Alternate from one group to the other and making sure each team member gets a question in order of how they are lined up. If the team member gets the question right, that team's "Santa's helper" moves forward the corresponding amount of steps (heel to toe). If the player gets it wrong, that teams "Santa's helper" must move back the corresponding amount of steps. (toe to heel)Easy = one step, Medium = two steps, Hard = three steps.

    The first Santa helper to reach the gift or prize, gets it for their team to share!

    Option: For a small group, play as individual players with one prize/gift. Each player plays "Santa's helper" and moves forwards or backwards as they answer the trivia question.

    4. Create a game board: Make a game board with starting and ending points. Recycle an old game board or use posterboard, cardboard, or any other similar surface that can be drawn or painted on.

    Use your imagination to create a playing area on the game board. This can be a circular pattern where players move around the board together, straight row patterns where each player has their own start/end point, or make it more holiday fashioned like forming the blocks (or circles) into a Christmas tree, star, candy cane, or other Christmas theme shape.

    Use the cards as in the above examples to move around (or across) the board using the same correct answer goes forward, incorrect goes backwards strategy or just moving forward with correct answers, no movement with incorrect answers.

    Here are some ideas for trivia questions and answers, and other resources, to help you create your Christmas Trivia Game.

    The great thing about creating your own Christmas trivia game is that you can adapt the game to suit whatever kind of age group, mixed group, or family preferences you want. You can keep it simple or make it more challenging.

    Same with the design. You put what you want into it. Keep the design simple, or make it a masterpiece! Whatever you decide, it's a great way to sneak in some Christmas history to keep the real focus of Christmas alive.

    Here are some other ways to keep the Holidays Happy!

    • Have a Tree Trimming Party and play lots of Christmas Party Games
    • Invite the kid's closest friends and create Handmade Christmas Ornaments
    • Have a family Christmas baking party or invite a few close friends to join in. Prepare and bake cookies, breads, and cakes for the holidays.
    • Choose a night before Christmas to have a family Christmas game night.
    • Host a Christmas Craft Party, or just round up the family for crafting fun
    • Host a Christmas Story Night. Choose a few of your favorite Christmas stories to share with a group of children. Ask other parents to volunteer as storytellers also.
    • Enjoy a Christmas Classic Movie Night (or Day). Choose some favorites depending on your age group. ie.. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, etc.

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    Give One Share of Stock for the Holidays

    How to Own Your PayCheck Again

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