Stretch your dollar

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Obviously most American’s are struggling. The price of gas is ridiculous, the price of food is on the rise, and the cost of living is getting higher by the day. All of these things are a given. For many of us the only option we have is to make our dollar go further. This year brand names are seeing the largest decrease in consumer spending in the last 70 years. Learning the necessary skills of bargain shopping, price comparison, and saying NO can mean the difference in whether or not you can afford to eat.

In today’s economy you have to find creative ways to spend your money because it doesn’t go as far as it used to. Because of this you may find yourself standing in front of a food item that you normally would buy and deciding on how much you really need it or if you should spend your money on something else. The item that gets me the most is Oreo’s. One package of double stuff costs about $2.98 at Walmart. I find myself, these days staring at the package and the price tag considering how much I really need to get the bottle of laundry soap a couple aisles over instead. Then I have to walk away and tell myself that I really didn’t need them anyways because I am trying to eat healthier, knowing that this isn’t the truth because eating healthier is much more expensive than buying a bag of cookies.

A lot of people don’t know the proper way to price shop. There are many considerations to keep in mind when looking at the price of an item. How badly do you need/want it? What is the price per ounce? Is there a less expensive alternative? Does the less expensive rate within 80% of the quality of the brand name? Is the quantity worth the savings or in other words do you have to buy more than you need to see a savings? Do you have coupons? Will another store have the same product cheaper? Is it worth the gas to get to the other store? Is price shopping even worth the headache to save a few cents when it makes you crazy? Are you still reading this blog? Do you know that I am talking to you?

Anyways, it is definitely worth price comparison if you are on a fixed budget. I usually shop at stores that have the best price even if you have to bag your own groceries. I have found that when buying bread that going to a local Hostess or Wonder store is always going to be your best bet. For medicines it is better to stick with the larger stores that have a pharmacy. For meats you want to find a large store that has a meat department and always check their specials. You can sometimes find 50-75% savings by checking the meat department specials regularly. Either way just pay attention to your options and you can stretch your dollar quite a ways.

5 Holiday Party Games

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Do you want to be this holiday’s hostess with the mostess? If you want to give your holiday party a little edge or have a little fun with your guests other than just schmoozing around and watching your uncle Al having one too many cocktails or watching the teenage cousins go from best friends to worst enemies. Here are some holiday games that could avoid these situations.

5.) Reindeer naming game, The game is very simple and very easy, all you have to do is explain to them at some point during the party you will yell Santa clause when you partiers here this they must in their head figure out all of Santa’s Reindeer names (to include or exclude Rudolf is your choice) the first person to correctly say all of Santa’s reindeer wins. You can have prizes if you wish but sometimes it’s just fun to play.

4.) Christmas Wrap Challenge: This game is a little more involved but makes for a huge laugh. You will set up a table and on it you will have empty brown boxes of whatever size. Keep in mind, the bigger the box the harder the game. Have scissors, wrapping paper, tape and sticky bows set up for each player. Everyone will line up and when you say go they will to try and wrap the present the fastest. The fun comes in when you tell them that they can only use one hand. The first person to successfully wrap the box without any of the box showing is the winner.

3.) Christmas Carol Karaoke: This game is for more of the outgoing group of people. The object is not to win but just to have a good time. You get a compilation of your favorite Christmas Carols then someone is elected to sing. They have to sing the whole song correctly without a prompter. During the song you will press pause at certain point and the Karaoker must continue singing the song with the correct words where you paused it. It’s best not to pause too long, maybe just a couple of words.

2.) Guess who? The object of this game is to guess the character that you are assigned without looking at who you are. You take several pieces of paper and for each person that is attending the part you give them a Christmas character. Then that person has to go around to each and every person and ask one question per person and find out who they are the first person to guess right wins the game.

1.) Last but not least ……. White Elephant:
White Elephant, sometimes called Dirty Santa, is a great game for parties. The term white elephant refers to a gift whose maintenance costs exceed its usefulness. With this in mind the gifts for this game are meant to be inexpensive, humorous, or even used items from home. As the host it can be fun to tell your guest to bring something funny to give away and then trade a few of the bag items for something that is actually a pretty good gift like gift card. Each participant supplies one wrapped gift. As the hostess, you will decide who goes first. The first person opens a wrapped gift and then their turn ends. The second person then chooses whether to open a wrapped gift or “steal” a previously opened gift. If a person has their gift stolen, they also have the option of choosing a wrapped gift or stealing an unwrapped one. When a wrapped gift is opened, the turn ends. When all gifts have been unwrapped, the game ends. You can make a rule that each gift cannot be passed more than three times and you cannot grab a gift right after someone takes it from you.

Well I hope that these holiday games can liven up your party and give something that guests will be talking about for months. Happy Holidays!

International Christmas Traditions

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Holiday time is a time of year that most of us recognized our heritage and our old family traditions. Whether that be putting tinsel on the tree with dad, Lighting the menorah with your grandmother or just having a quiet evening at home and enjoying the holiday time off. For some of us our different backgrounds make for different traditions that we do for the holidays. My family and I celebrate Wigilijna (Va-gil-lia), Which in Polish means “Dinner” or “Large Supper”. This meal happens on Christmas Eve and goes on the entire day and extends until midnight mass. Dinner begins with the breaking of oplatek which is a Christmas wafer, this is to symbolize the bread that we eat every day in our day to day common life and being thankful the food and things we have. We then go around the table and each person breaks of a piece of another family members wafer, and at the same time we then wish them good fortune for the upcoming year.

Another Polish Christmas tradition is the drawing of hay. Before dinner everyone gets a lock of hay above their plate to remember the meaning of Christmas. Then after dinner, all the children and adults gather around to draw straws. Colored pieces of hay are put into a bag so that you cannot see what you are pull out each color has a different meaning and for tells the fortune that you are going to have for the upcoming year. There is green for wealth and prosperity, black which is bad luck almost the same tradition as receiving a lump of coal on Christmas. There is also blue which means great happiness, and red for you will find love or enhance the relationships you have whether that be with a spouse, mother, father, or friend.

The German tradition of putting a pickle on the tree is not something a lot of people have heard of and no one can really say where the tradition had started. Some people say it was due to the lack of money in a household that they had to put pickles on the tree because they look the most like glass ornaments and other people just say it is an old German tradition that has been passed down from family member to family member. The tradition goes like this Christmas morning the parents get up early to take the Christmas pickle ornament and hide it in the Christ mas tree. The first child to find the Christmas pickle will receive an extra present from St. Nicolas, and the first adult to find the Christmas pickle will receive good fortune in the upcoming year. So keep your eye peeled for the mystery of the Christmas pickle.

In the Ukraine they have a Christmas tradition that involves a spider; people of the Ukraine believe that if you find a spider on a web on Christmas morning that you will have good luck for the upcoming year. This isn’t the only tradition where you see a little spookiness. In some Italian households they don’t believe in Santa Clause and they tell their children that a woman on a broom comes and delivers the presents because she doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea about her.

These are just some of Christmas traditions that many probably have never heard of. Some of them crazy and some of them sweet all in all this time of year is what you make it. It is a time of year to reflect on the past year and see things that you will do different or keep the same and to be truly thankful for the friends and family that you have around you, and all the things that you did achieve in the past year. So happy holidays everyone.

Top 10 Ways to Settle an Upset Tummy

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Every human being either has or will suffer from some sort of tummy trouble. How it happens is usually irrelevant once it has happened. At that point the only thing we care about is to stop the discomfort and we can figure out why it happened later. Here are some helpful tips on types of natural remedies to help you out of your tummy troubles.

  1. Rice –
  2. Experts say that eating overcooked rice or even drinking rice tea is an excellent remedy for an upset tummy. To make rice tea, boil about ½ cup of rice (regular, not instant) in about 6 cups of water for about 15 minutes. Strain out the rice then flavor the tea with a dash of vanilla extract, some honey or a touch of sugar, and perhaps a dash of cinnamon. Serve it up warm. You may just find you’ll enjoy drinking the tea just for the sake of the flavor! Settling an upset tummy, or stopping diarrhea and vomiting with rice tea is not only effective, it’s a delicious and soothing remedy!

  3. Peppermint –
  4. Helps calm nausea and is so powerful that it can even help with morning sickness

  5. Ginger –
  6. Prevents stomach ailments, boosts digestive fluids, promotes transport through the digestive system, and neutralizes acids, helping to soothe stomachs safely. You can eat the ginger, mix it in tea or even just try drinking ginger ale.

  7. Lettuce –
  8. Drinking water after boiling lettuce in it can ease constipation and insomnia. Lettuce contains a sleep-inducing substance, called ‘lectucarium’. The juice of this plant has been likened in effect to the sedative action of opium without the accompanying excitement. This is especially useful for colicky babies.

  9. Yogurt –
  10. If you eat yogurt often, you may beat tummy trouble altogether, thanks to the healthy dose of probiotics you’ll be getting

  11. Lemon –
  12. Try fresh squeezed lemon juice (whole lemon) mixed into a cup of hot water and sip slowly. The hot water will help to flush out your system, and the lemon helps break down food, easing the work of the stomach acids.

  13. Fennel Seeds –
  14. Relieves a bloated stomach, indigestion and gas

  15. Coriander Seeds –
  16. Helps relieve indigestion and gas

  17. Cardamom Seeds –
  18. Controls intestinal gas and relieves stomach ache

  19. Buttermilk –
  20. Helps the friendly bacteria that promote digestion

What is an Upset Stomach?

An upset stomach is another term for indigestion. When we eat, our bodies start the process of breaking down our food into molecules that we can use at a cellular level. Sometimes this process is hampered and food is not broken down properly, or air is trapped in the stomach which causes certain symptoms. An upset stomach could also be caused by food poisoning, a virus infection, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome and certain medications. A chronic upset stomach can be caused by allergies to foods like wheat and milk, ulcers, certain cancers, Crohn’s disease, etc. Severe stomach-ache can be due to appendicitis and pancreatitis.

Gastro intestinal reflux can sometimes cause heartburn and severe abdominal pain. These cause symptoms such as nausea, constipation, vomiting, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, and dehydration.

Top 10 Ways to Get More Energy Naturally

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Tips to increase your energy the right way:

  1. Blue, Red & Purple Berries
  2. Antioxidants are a great source of energy booting nutrients and the color of berries comes from anthocyanins which is a powerful antioxidant.

  3. Oranges and or other fruits high in Vitamin C
  4. The link between citrus acid deficiency and chronic fatigue is well documented and Vitamin C helps you absorb necessary nutrients from foods as well.

  5. Wheat bread
  6. Trading white bread for wheat bread is a good move. Wheat bread has a lower glycemic index than white bread which means that the sugars are not as easily digested by your body which avoids the spike in energy and the low sugar crash afterwards. Eating complex carbs gives a more even supply of energy to your body.

  7. Eat More Often
  8. Instead of having “3 Square Meals”, try eating less food but more frequently to maintain a steady flow of energy instead of shocking your body. Just make sure to avoid high sugar and fatty foods so you are not on a rollercoaster of ups and downs all day.

  9. Start early
  10. Having a satisfying breakfast will allow your body to start the day with a full battery.

  11. Yogurt
  12. Yogurt with live cultures keeps your digestive system clean, which helps your body absorb all the nutrients from food. That makes you healthier and more energetic. Yogurt is also a good low-fat snack.

  13. Eat eggs.
  14. When people have eggs (mostly protein) for breakfast, versus bagels (all carbs), they feel more energy and eat less at the next meal. Protein makes you feel fuller without feeling stuffed, and they provide a steady stream of energy for your body (versus the quick high and crash of carbohydrates). Eggs are a great for breakfast or as an addition to a lunch salad.

  15. Omega 3’s
  16. Cold-water fish, like salmon, mackerel and herring, are premiere sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are fats our bodies can’t produce, so it’s essential we include them in our diet

  17. Orange and yellow-colored vegetables
  18. Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and leafy greens contain carotenoids, a pigment our body converts to vitamin A. Eating lots of these vegetables will not only provide a good source of energy but will also help maintain healthy skin and hair, protect against prostate cancer, promote healthy vision and even provide protection from sunburn.

  19. Legumes
  20. Beans, peas, peanuts and lentils are all part of the legume family. Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants. Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours. These are also great for vegetarians who need protein.