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Cheryl's Sensible Cents - 12/15/2005 Charitable Donations on a Budget
December 15, 2005

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Charitable Donations on a Budget - by Cheryl Johnson

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Holiday Sugar Cookies
Ornamental Frosting
Breadcrumb Cookies

Holiday Sugar Cookies

From the The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book

Perfect for Christmas cutouts.

Prep: 30 minutes plus chilling
Bake: 10 minutes per batch

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel or vanilla extract

1. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, milk, and lemon peel until well combined. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture just until blended. Shape dough into disk; wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two large cookie sheets. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll half of dough 1/8 inch thick; keep remaining dough re­frigerated. With floured 3-inch assorted cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings for re-rolling. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on prepared cookie sheets. If desired, with drinking straw or skewer, make 1/4-inch hole in top of each cookie for hanging. Sprinkle some of re­maining 1/4 cup sugar over cookies.

3. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking. With wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and trim­mings. Makes about 42 cookies.

Nutritional Information:

Each cookie: About 76 calories, 1g protein, l0g carbohydrate, 4g total fat (2g saturated), 14mg cholesterol, 66mg sodium.

Ornamental Frosting

For decorating your holiday cookies
1 package (16oz) confectioners sugar
3 Tablespoons meringue powder (available at some supermarkets or cake supply stores)
1/3 cup warm water
assorted food colorings if desired

1. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water until stiff and knife drawn through leaves path (about 5 minutes)
2. If desired, tint frosting with food colorings. Keep tightly covered to prevent drying. With small metal spatula, artists' paintbrushes, or decorating bags/tools with small plain tips, decorate cookies. You may need to thin frosting with a little warm water to obtain proper spreading or piping consistency. Makes about 3 cups.

Still need gift ideas? If you haven't already, be sure to review our Gift Ideas, Holiday Gift Ideas, and Frugal Gift Basket Ideas, then take a look at our compilation of Christmas Gift Specials to find special offers and save money on your Christmas shopping. Be sure to check shipping options and deadlines this close to the holiday.

We do have affiliation with many of the merchants offering these Holiday specials so, you'll be saving money and helping us keep the Simple Debt Free Living site alive! Thanks for your support!

From My Family to Yours
May your Holiday's be Happy and the New Year Prosperous

Bread Crumb Cookies

- The Complete Tightwad Gazette

I must confess that I have not personally tried this recipe. Looks like a great way to use up those not so fresh bread slices and leftover end pieces. I will be trying it myself soon and will let you know. Meantime, I would love to hear feedback from any of you who try it. Enjoy!

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup melted shortening
2 cups bread crumbs

Sift together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry mixture. Add melted short­ening and bread crumbs. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees f. for 15 minutes or until done.

Cooking Tips:
Egg substitutes -
1. a heap­ing tablespqon of soy flour and one tablespoon of water substi­tutes for an egg
2. Two (2) Tablespoons of mayonnaise for each egg required
3. Chill a rolling pin before using. The dough will less likely stick to it and this will save having to add flour to dough.

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  • Frozen Juice Cans
    Refrigerate cookie dough for future use in these cans. When ready to use, cut out closed end and push through. Cut as you would store bought refrigerated cookie dough rolls and cook as directed in the original recipe. Great for sugar cookie dough that requires chilling anyway! (I haven't tried it, but I bet you could freeze dough in these also.)
    - from the Tiptionary by Mary Hunt
  • Day old Bread and End Pieces
    Use to make bread crumbs for use in recipes like the Bread Crumb Cookies above, meatloaf, crabcakes, meat extender, etc.
  • Christmas Cards
    1. Make placemats using several cards grouped together and arranged on recycled posterboard or thin cardboard. Cover with clear contact paper (or laminate if possible).
    2. Make a Christmas Trivia Game for young children. Cut front half off (back of this is usually blank) and use the back to write your trivia questions and answers.
    3. Photo groupings for gifts or decoration using fronts of cards.
    4. Gift tags
    5. Cut out pictures to use in making handmade Christmas ornaments
    6. Make decorative seating place cards for your Christmas dinner
  • Cleaning and Laundry Tips

  • Keep your Poinsettia Looking Good!
    To keep your poinsettia plant looking good remove the plastic wrap around the pot, keep the plant in a brightly lit, cool (65 F) room, water only when dry, and rotate the plant every few days so it grows straight. - National Gardening Association
    Shop the National Gardening Association Garden Shop
  • Cedar moth repellant
    Use cedar chips available at the pet store (usually a few dollars for good size bag) to make your own moth repellent/closet freshner. Put a cup or two in plastic bags, poke holes in the bag, and hang in closets or place in storage bins.


    Charitable Donations on a Budget

    Donating to charity when Donating seems impossible

    I always feel guilty that I can't give to charity more than I do. But honestly, my budget is trimmed down to the bare minimums and our income just meets those obligations with pennies to spare. Still, especially during the holidays, I feel that I should be giving something. After all, this is the season of giving and I know that there are other families struggling much harder than ours to simply provide the very basic needs of survival.

    You need only to look at your budget to see that our society places a high price on the very basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. Seems odd to me. In a perfect world these basic needs of survival would be more modestly priced, if not free. But, this isn't a perfect world (at least not by my assessment) and that's not the case. That's why I think it's important to give in some way, even when you can't imagine where it will come from.

    Here a few little ways you can give and not really miss it.

    • One of our local supermarkets (Shoppers) has a display at each cash register where you can add $1, $3, or $5 to your grocery bill as a donation to the food bank. It doesn't hurt so much to give in these small increments more often, as opposed to giving one larger lump sum. I think this is a great idea. You may find this convenient for you if you have a Shoppers or other supermarket in your area with similar donation opportunities.
    • Take advantage of food collections at post offices, schools, and even the supermarket. One or two cans, boxes, or bags of non-perishable foods will probably not ruin your entire menu for the week. You may not even miss it and you'll be making a charitable donation. I have ample opportunities in this area as I have four children in three different schools (elementary, middle, and high school). All three do food drives every year. Our local post office and supermarket also participate in food collections around the holidays.
    • During the holidays, toys for tots is a great way to give a gift as a donation. Some people say they feel cheap if they only give one gift. Well, you can give just one. It's not only acceptable, it's very much appreciated. One from you, and you, and you, and you, ......... well you get the picture. Collectively, it adds up to a happier holiday for many less fortunate children.
    • Take advantage of donation matching to make smaller donations go further. I have certain charities that I receive newsletters and updates from. I recently read of a matching opportunity in one of the newsletters and donated $5 during the promotion. That means that the matching donator gave $5 as well.
    • You can also set up a reoccurring payment in your bill pay program as a donation. Set up a payment to send a donation of $5 every week, bi-weekly, or even monthly. Whatever you feel your budget will permit. If you ever fall short, just reschedule or cancel the payment for that period.
    • Don't forget that donating your time is valuable, and appreciated, also. Volunteer to help a neighbor, visit a nursing home or home for the elderly, cheer up hospital patients, or help out at a local charity organization.
    • Donate all your unwanted items and clothing to a family in need, the Salvation Army, or other charity owned thrift store.

    You can see that if you really put your mind to it, you can come up with a variety of ways to donate when donating seems impossible. Donating more often in smaller increments is a lot less noticeable than forking out a large lump sum.

    Donating your time is sometimes more appreciated than money, since organizations may really need the manpower to be successful. A warehouse full of food won't do anyone any good if there is no manpower to get it where it is needed. In today's fast paced society, time is certainly a very valuable gift to give!


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    Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

    Give One Share of Stock for the Holidays

    How to Own Your PayCheck Again

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