Friday, November 28, 2008

Make It A GREEN Christmas This Year, PLEASE!

An estimated 25 million extra tons of trash is generated between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. All the wrapping paper, plastic cups, tinsel and other throwaways add up quickly, not to mention the gas spent on countless trips to stores. Some small changes in the ways you give, get, decorate and entertain can ensure a great green holiday.
A Christmas without a tree is unthinkable. You can still have a tree, deck the halls and be green with planning.
1. Look for a farm in your area that grows its trees using organic methods. Most live trees aren’t from forests but farms, where they’re raised like any other crop, so having a live tree doesn’t mean cutting down a venerable old evergreen.
2. Purchase a tree with the roots attached or in a pot, then plant it in your yard— without the tinsel of course—after the holidays. In a few years, you’ll have your own fir forest.
3. Decorate a pine tree already growing in your yard instead of buying a tree. It’s a lovely old tradition the whole neighborhood can enjoy.
4. Keep and use your fake plastic tree if you already have one. While they’re made using petroleum, a nonrenewable resource, the resources have already been used, the money’s been spent, and pitching it will just mean more junk for the landfill.
5. Choose super-efficient LED lights. They’re more expensive than traditional twinkle lights, but they burn 80 to 90percent less energy and are cool to the touch. (Swapping LED lights for regular lights on the 80-foot tree in Rockefeller Center saved as much energy in a day as a family uses in a month.)
6. Use pinecones, handmade paper snowflakes or vintage decorations rather than buying new ornaments. Popcorn and cranberry garlands are fun to make, and the birds will appreciate them afterward.
7. Use holly, ivy and other natural greenery, maybe even from your own yard or garden, to decorate.
8. Recycle your tree. Many cities pick up discarded Christmas trees on a specific day, then have them turned into mulch to be used in local parks. (Contact your local sanitation department or check
Gathering with the people you care about is the best part of the holiday season. This year, rather than exchanging gifts, invite friends over for a big party.
1. Use real plates, napkins and flatware, not plastic or paper that gets thrown away when the party’s over. If you don’t have enough plates, rent them or buy inexpensive ones. You’ll get your money back in just a few years of use.
2. Plan your menu around foods that are in season where you live. Lots of gas is burned shipping fruits and vegetables from warm climates every winter. Think pumpkin pie, not strawberry tart.
3. Burn candles made of beeswax or soy instead of candles made of petroleum products.
4. Fill a bowl with pomegranates or your favorite citrus fruit for a beautiful, edible centerpiece.
Giving & Receiving
Do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach, and a light feeling in your wallet, looking at your list of presents to buy? Shortening your list can save money and reduce waste.
1. Try drawing names or giving only to the children, rather than exchanging gifts with everyone.
2. Give experiences instead of stuff: Gift certificates for a massage, music downloads or a favorite restaurant; tickets to a sporting event, play or concert are all good choices. Another option: donations to a favorite charity.
3. Buy as much as you can from local stores and artisans, or order gifts online to save gas-guzzling trips to the mall.
4. Use recycled or reusable materials for wrapping. Old newspapers, fabric, maps, even brown paper bags can look festive with a pretty bow. Make the wrapping part of the gift by presenting it in a pretty scarf, bag or basket.
5. Nix the faux-peanut packing materials and use shredded junk mail instead. Real peanuts in the shell, stuffing from old pillows or dry pasta can also cushion presents for shipping.
6. Send holiday greetings electronically. Create an e-card or post an online photo slide show at your family Web site.
7. Start a new tradition. In the Middle Ages, Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, was a time for local landowners to give gifts to those less fortunate, or so the legend goes. Make that tradition your own by setting aside December 26 to package up clothes, toys and household goods to be donated to local charities.
8. Don’t throw away holiday cards after you’ve read them. Cut the decorated fronts into squares to make gift tags for next year’s presents.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

5 Things To Do With...Vinegar

Get rid of stains and mineral deposits by filling the reservoir with 1 part white vinegar, 2 parts water, and brewing. Repeat every three weeks.

To keep new clothes or towels from losing color, soak them in 1 part vinegar, 1 part cold water for 15 minutes before washing.

Pour vinegar on upshoots between bricks and flagstones. The acidic component kills young weeks in one dousing.

Perk up soggy leafy vegetables by soaking them in 2 cups cold water mixed with 1 Tbsp vinegar for 10 minutes. Rince, dry and serve.

Soak a cloth in vinegar, wrap it around hard cheese, and seal in an airtight container or ziptop bag. Done! The vinegar prevents mold spores.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Is your son/daughter hooked on the video game Guitar hero one month but over it the next? These websites help you get your hands on what you want, and get rid of what you don't. They allow you to trade all sorts of stuff with other families, and you pay only for the shipping.

Swap a wide range of products, including clothing and furniture. The site also lets members donate items to charity.

Rate other members on the condition of their books, video games and CDs -- and their trade etiquette.

Features a blog where staff members post DVD and CD reciews.


Don't have anything to swap? Users can choose to pay for products using a cash option.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


1 lb. box of C & H pure cane powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter (softened)

Beat the electric mixer 2 minutes, scraping bowl often. For thinner consistency add milk a little at a time.

Frosts one 8 inch layer cake.

Try these fun FLAVOR variations on this frosting recipe!

Chocolate: add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and beat an extra minute.
Lemon Lover: replace milk with 1/4 cup lemon juice, add 1 tsp. finely grated lemon rind.

Oragne: replace milk with 1/4 cup orange juice, add 1 tsp. finely grated orange rind.

Sour Cream Tang: add 3 tbsp. sour cream and beat an extra minue.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Healthy Food Swaps (Dinner)

Instead of chicken cutlets sauteed in corn oil with a side of roasted potatoes TRY chicken cutlets sauteed in canola oil with roated cauliflower
Canola oil provides more omega 3s than most other cooking oils, and cauliflower is loaded with phytochemicals that protect against carcinogens

Instead of Steak fajitas with flour tortillas TRY shrimp fajitas with corn tortillas
You'll save 400 calories and 22 fat grams, and trade saturated fat for heart smart omega 3s

Instead of meat lasagna TRY cheese ravioli
Compared with the lasagna, the ravioli is downright skinny--it has roughly half as much total and saturated fat

Instead of hot dog with a small serving of fries TRY veggie burger with 1/2 cup vegetarian baked beans
You'll cut 22 fat grams and gain 7 grams of fiber

Instead of spaghetti with broccoli, garlic and olive oil TRY udon noodles with broccoli, garlic and sesame oil
A bowl of udon noodles (japanese noodles made from whole wheat) has 40 percent more fiber

Instead of meat loaf made from 85 percent lean ground beef TRY meat loaf made with white meat ground turkey
In addition to trimming 100 calories, you'll save a whopping 13 grams of fat per slice

Instead of sichuan beef TRY moo shu pork
You'll lose 300 calories and gain 20 grams of fiber

Instead of chicken stir fry TRY tandoori chicken
The tandoori has turmeric, an antioxidant spice in curry ppowder that may help ward off Alzheimer's disease.

You can still eat things like Lasagna, just give yourself a break, and switch them out for the healtier variations from time to time!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Healthy Food Swaps (Lunch)

Here Are Some Smart (LUNCH) Substitutions That Will Help You Look Better, Feel Better And Slim Down, Too!

The trick is to make suble changes that'll give you more of the good stuff (like calcium, fiber and antioxidants) while cutting back on the bad (like excessive amounts of fat and calories)

You can do this, and still LOVE every single bite!

Instead of Smoked turkey and chedder on a baguette TRY natural sliced turkey with roasted peppers on a whole wheat baguette
You'll banish cancer causing compounds foun in smoked foods and add protective antioxidants

Instead of chicken salad sanseich made with regular mayo TRY tuna salad sandwich made with canola oil mayonnaise
You'll get a double dose of heart healthy omega 3 fats

Instead of grilled veggie burrito TRY chicken burrito bowl
Your'll lose 160 calories and 26 grams of fat and add 4 grams of fiber

Instead of cheese calzone TRY slice of stuffed crust pizza
The pizza has 410 fewer calories and 12 fewer grams of fat

Instead of corned beef sandwich TRY ham sandwich
You'll eat 55 percent less fat

Instead of crispy chicken wrap TRY kid sized hamburger
You'll save 90 calories and 8 grams of fat

Instead of grilled chicken sandwich with mayon on white bread TRY grilled chicken sandwich with avocado on whole wheat bread
Avocado has tons of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, plus cholesterol lowering plant sterols. Whole wheat bread adds fiber and 30 percent more protein than white bread.

Instead of falafel pita TRY pita with hummus
The fried falafel has 203 more calories and 11 more grams of fat than hummus

(Tomorrow I Will Have Dinner Swaps)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Healthy Food Swaps (Breakfast)


Here are some smart substitutions that will help you look better, feel better and slim down, too!
Healthy eating doesn't have to mean overhauling your diet. Try this easy, healthy swaps!

Instead of Cinnamon raisin bagel TRY 2 mini-cinnamom raisin bagels
Trading volume for quantity makes you feel like you're eating more, so you'll never even notice that you've nixed 181 calories!

Instead of Nonfat strawberry yogurt TRY nonfast greek yogurt with sliced fresh strawberries
Creamy greek style yogurt has nearly twice the protein of traditional yogurt; fresh berries add antioxidants

Instead of breakfast quesadilla with eggs, black beans, cheddar and bacon TRY egg, cheese and bacon on an english muffin
You'll zap 290 calories and 17 fat grams

Instead of 4 french toast sticks TRY whole grain waffles
Choosing the light, airy waffles will save you 202 calories and add fiber

Instead of apple cinnamon instant oatmeal TRY steel cut oats with 1/4 cup fresh chopped apples and a dash of cinnamon
You'll still get that apple cinnamon taste, but you'll feel full longer---less processed oats take longer to digest

Instead of cottage cheese (1% fat) with sliced bananas TRY part skim ricotta cheese with sliced bananas
You'll get two and a half times more calcium

Instead of english muffin with 1 Tbsp lowfat cream cheese TRY whole wheat english muffin with 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
Yes you'll gain a few calories and some fat, but the fat is the "good" kind and you'll eat less in the long run. The combo of complex carbs and a little healthy fat keeps your blood sugar on an even keel so you'll stay fuller longer.

Instead of corn flake cereal TRY bran flake cereal with raisins
Just 1 cup provides you with about a quarter of the fiber you need in a day. (corn flake cereal, on the other hand, has hardly any)

I will have lunch swaps tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Once Upon A Child

In November Once Upon A Child is making room for the holidays.

Take In Your Items For Some Quick Holiday Money!

They are looking for...

Large and Small Toys
Little Tikes
Step 2
Fisher Price

Holiday Dresswear
Holiday Accessories
Winter Coats
Snow Boots
Ski Pants

Sacramento Store
3186 Arden Way

Roseville Store
384 Roseville Sq

Citrus Heights Store
7937 Greenback Ln

Elk Grove Store
9163 E. Stockton

Modesto Store
3440 McHenry Ave #A4

Vacaville Store
2041-B Harrison Dr

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



Feel free to share any tips on what might be free in your area.

Visit for a complete list of election day freebies!

Some highlights:
Free Scoop of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!
Hit up Krispy Kreme for a free yummy treat!
Free coffee at Starbucks!

Check out for a more complete list of what might be free in your neck of the woods.


Blogging For Dollars!

There are millions of them on the Internet and they come in all shapes and sizes. You can write about nearly anything. From what it's like to be a mom to politics. It's free to set one up. Visit, and once you do, you can place ads, using an easy program like Google AdSense (

Each time a visitor to your blog clicks on an ad, you earn money.
Once you've earned $100 you'll get a check in the mail for the money you've earned.

You can even look at your AdSense account online to see how much money you've earned Daily!


You probably won't replace your paycheck by blogging, at least not at first, but it's a good way to make extra money.

Good luck!

Monday, November 3, 2008


If Your Buying A Fresh Pre-Cut Tree!

Make sure To Check A Tree's Freshness!

1. Tug on the needles (they shouldn't break and should be hard to pull back from the brances)

2. Make sure the trunk IS sticky.

3. Bounce the tree on the ground and if a lot of needles fall off, the tree was cut too long ago and is a FIRE HAZZARD!

4. On to the next tree, if needed!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


1. Disposable Plates

This Thanksgiving, skip the paper and plastic plates (they're not recyclable).

Sugarcane plates and bowls are sturdy enough for second helpings, and are microwave safe.

They can be composted or tossed in the trash. Try the ones at (3.95 for 15 plates)

2. Twist Euro Sponge Cloth
Since bacteria live in kitchen sponges, I switched to washable clothes. But I missed sponges since they absorved better. Now, I found the TWIST EURO SPONGE CLOTH, a sponge/towel that soaks up spills and washes dishes, then twists dry. You can boil it clean or drop it in the dishwasher to get rid of germs. OH, It's also BIODEGRADABLE!
$4 for 3 :