Tie The Knot Without Tying Yourself Up In Knots!

It’s no secret that weddings can become pricey. We still view weddings as one of the most significant days in a couple’s lives. This makes it easier to justify the huge expense. Once you’ve bought a dress, suits, cakes, hired venues and photographers, you’re lucky if you have enough money left for a honeymoon! Setting yourself a wedding budget, of what you can actually afford to spend, is a great idea. It forces you to edit down your choices and think about what’s really important on your big day. Here are some ways to cut the costs, whilst making your wedding more personal and special…

Flowers

 

Flowers can play a huge part in a wedding. The bride carries them, the reception is bedecked with them, and so is the ceremony. This can make is quite a costly part of the wedding. If your heart is set on flowers, you can still cut the costs. The great thing about flowers is they add some pops of color and warmth to a room. The bad thing is that you buy so many and they are discarded after the bid day, or only last for a little while longer. Instead, why not buy fake flowers? The most important thing is to get flowers which look real. That way they won’t go to waste. You can even present guests with them as they leave as a parting gift.

If you seriously want to cut the costs and are having a boho style wedding, pick fresh flowers instead. Wild fresh flowers look amazing in a bouquet for any bohemian bride. They cost nothing and add a personal touch to a venue.

Invitations

Invitations are another big expense. Getting them printed onto beautiful paper and sending them off to relatives, near and far, racks up the cost of a wedding. Unfortunately, the alternative of sending a message or email can seem a bit disingenuous and not as special. So why not get crafty with your invites instead? If you have time to spare but not much money, make the invites yourself. Just like the wildflowers, this is a lovely organic and personal touch. Plus guests are far more likely to keep handmade invites as a memento. You can print off pictures of you and your husband or wife to be, or you can go all out with glitter and feathers. Alternatively, if you’re not a crafty person, you can make your own wedding invitations online. This takes the glue and glitter out of it and allows you to make professional looking designs at a fraction of the cost.

The Cake

The cake is a great place to save money. Consider doing away with the traditional tiered wedding cake. These can be expensive and whilst they look great in photos, do you really want a slice of fruitcake on your big day? Instead, you could try a dessert bar. Rope some friends into helping you and ask everyone to make their favorite desserts. It could be brownies or even cupcakes. The great thing about this is that it’s super personal and cheap. Plus it leaves you with an amazing spread of different cakes rather than one tiered cake.

How Your Family Can Have More Cash Than Ever Before

Do you wish your family had more cash? Maybe you wish you had more money for luxuries like meals out, theme parks, and clothes. Maybe you wish you just didn’t have to worry about money so much. This guide is going to tell you how your family can have more cash than ever before! It may take a few small changes, but you’ll be able to save a substantial amount of money:

Start Doing Free Things With Your Family

Instead of doing expensive things with your family all the time, such as theme parks and expensive holidays, you can do so many fun free things with them. How about visiting some museums that are free and educational? You can also do things like picnics without spending too much, and entertain at home with films, crafts, and snacks. There are so many options whatever the weather and your budget!  In the Creston Valley, a few things available for families are a cheese factory tour; museums; Farmer’s Market; Creston Valley Wildlife Management Center; picnics by the river, watch a local hockey game, cheer for baseball team.

 

Switch Your Bill Providers
There’s no need to be loyal to your bill providers. Prices can creep up, and new customers get the best deals. Switching bill providers isn’t difficult, and could save you a fortune. Sometimes, all you need to do is tell your current bill providers about better deals you’ve found, and they’ll match them. If not, you just have to inform them that you’re swapping and your new company will do all of the work. Make sure you check for better offers at least once a year.

Create A Proper Family Budget
If you don’t have a proper family budget, it’s going to be really difficult for you to know how much you have to spend on certain things. Make sure you take a good look at your finances and allocate an amount for each category, such as food, entertainment, miscellaneous objects, clothes, etc. This way, you’ll manage your money so much better and be able to afford everything you need.

Give Pocket Money
Giving your kids their own pocket money from a young age can teach them so many great lessons about saving and spending. By giving them pocket money, they can save up for treats and things of their own. They can bring their money with them when you go on trips. They can learn how to make great decisions regarding their cash! Of course they shouldn’t pay for everything themselves, but you could potentially save money by encouraging them to save up for their own stuff. You’ll be gifting them with great life lessons too.

Find The Best Savings Accounts
Find the best savings accounts so you can make the most of the money you put aside for a rainy day. In the UK, Cash ISAs aren’t easily accessible, but they have great interest rates and you don’t have to pay tax on them. In Canada, check out what a Tax Free Savings Account will do for you.  Make sure your savings accounts have great interest rates!

Always Go Shopping With A List
Never go shopping without a list, whether you’re looking for food or clothes. If you go shopping for food, for example, you’re much more likely to spend more money buying things you don’t need. You can easily get sucked in by the deals and pretty packaging this way. By making a list, you’ll automatically save money and get those shopping lists over with much faster.

Look For Vouchers And Discount Codes
Before you go shopping anywhere, always look for vouchers and discount codes. You can find reliable codes regularly on sites like DontPayFull.com. You can also check out magazines and things for codes you can use. Sometimes, brands will post codes on their social media. You can save a substantial amount of money by getting into the habit of looking for codes before you buy!  I use the one on my side bar.  It gives coupons and cash back.

Plan Your Meals
Plan your family meals so you know what food to buy at the start of the week. Make sure you take into account how much time you have on certain days. You could even save money by buying some things in bulk and then freezing them for a later date.  This is great for families and for couples.  I like to purchase meat this way, then repackage and freeze in meal size portions.  I can take advantage of the sales that way.

Local grown Veg

Buy Secondhand Where Possible
Sometimes, buying secondhand makes sense. There may be some things that you draw the line at, but many things won’t make a difference and you’ll still save a lot of money. For example, barely worn clothes, furniture, headphones…the list goes on. Buying second hand will save you a substantial amount of money and you’ll get the same quality of products most of the time.

Up-cycle Your Old Stuff
If you’re bored of your old furniture, it’s so easy to buy some paint and up-cycle it. I tried it with vertical blinds, worked great. This is a great way to give your home more personality too.

Sell Your Old Stuff
Instead of hoarding your old stuff or throwing it in the trash, consider whether you could sell it. Some people will buy baby’s clothes in bulk, for example. There are always people looking for computer parts, furniture, and different bits and bobs.  Maybe your community has an online facebook group that swaps or buys/sells items.

Start Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food might sound difficult, which is why you should probably start off small at first. With your own herb garden and vegetable patch, you could save so much money on your weekly food shop, and you’ll always have fresh veg to make food with or fruit as in our case.

Canning and Perserves

Reuse Your Bags
Reuse your old shopping bags and help the environment, as well as save money. No need to buy anymore bags for life, and you’ll save a tiny amount on your shopping each time you buy. It might seem like a silly amount, but it’ll add up and you’ll finally have a use for those bags in your bag draw!

Become More Eco Friendly At Home
On the subject of becoming more eco-friendly, becoming more eco friendly at home could help you to save lots of money as well as the planet. Turn off your lights and other appliances when not in use. Turn down your heating and put on another layer. Stop running the tap when you don’t need to. It all adds up!

Doing these things will help you to have more cash for the things you really want to do!

What a Man: Treating Your Boyfriend or Husband to a Special Day

Everyone deserves a special day that’s all about them every once in awhile – even men! Whether it’s his birthday, Father’s Day or you want to treat him just because, planning a fun day for your spouse or partner takes a bit of effort. It’s worth it to make him happy and do something he’ll appreciate. If you’re not sure where to start, there are lots of things you can plan to make any day extra special. You might plan to use a whole day or just a few hours to do something memorable for him. Try some of the ideas below to get started.

Have a Fancy Meal

A good meal is always a good way to celebrate something, or just to show someone a good time. If you enjoy cooking, making something special is one way to do it. Although, if you’re usually the main cook, you might not feel like making anything. Going out to eat is another option, of course, and it means the only effort you need to make is booking a table somewhere he loves to eat, rather than cooking a meal from scratch. If you’re going to plan a meal, decide who’s going to be there. Just you and him, or family and/or friends?

Do Something He Loves (Without Complaining)

We did it!

When you’re in a relationship, married or not, you have to compromise a lot. Sometimes that means agreeing to do things together or going off to do your own thing when you don’t share a hobby. Sometimes you want to share the thing you love with your partner, even if they’re not so keen on it. Think of a way you can spend some time with him doing something he loves so he can spend time with you at the same time. Maybe he loves camping and always wants you to come, but the idea doesn’t usually appeal to you. But, crucially, you’re not allowed to complain! You never know, you might enjoy yourself.

Give Him a Day to Himself

Some time to yourself is often a luxury, especially when you live with someone or have kids. If you get to take time for yourself sometimes, make sure your partner does too. One of the best gifts for men who have everything is an experience they can enjoy, instead of a material gift. There are lots of things you can treat him to, from a day at the golf course to a sailing experience or a brewery tour. He might invite you along, but don’t expect to be the one to go with him. You could give him something to do with a group of friends. Alternatively, just let him do what he wants all day.

Stay in Bed All Day

You don’t have to choose a fun activity to do to make him special. Staying in bed all day and maybe engaging in a bit of pampering can be just as fun, if not more so. Whether you’re going to laze around or get a bit more energetic, there’s no need to leave the house, or even your bedroom, if you want to plan a day of fun. A special massage or maybe a game could get things going. Start with breakfast in bed, and see where it goes from there…

Picture curtosy of Max Pixel

Enjoy a Day In

Even if you don’t spend the whole day in bed, you can have a fun day at home without leaving the house. There’s plenty you can do, but you might decide to simply spend the day in front of the TV. Life can get hectic, and sometimes you just want to relax and not do much of anything. Plus, if you both have busy lives it can be hard to spend a lot of time together, especially if you don’t live together. When you get the opportunity, it’s often much nicer to stay home rather than make an effort to go out and see other people. Stock up on snacks and plan to not go anywhere.

Get a Gift

Not all occasions require a gift, but there might be times when one is appropriate. And even if there isn’t a particular occasion to celebrate, a gift can be fun to give just because you feel like it. Gifts can be big or small, whether they’re to mark a special event or just something you saw that made you think of your partner.

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to treat your husband or boyfriend to a special day. Think of some ways to spoil him just because you can.

Decorating on a Budget

Decorating on a Budget

 

With over 40 years of experience in interior design, I have found many of my clients to be working on a restricted budget.  For these projects I have suggested that the majority of the budget be spent on the permanent items in the home, such as flooring, cabinets and light fixtures.

Lighting

Using neutral tones in furniture, you can add colour in your less expensive accessories such as colourful ready made drapery panels,(approximately 0 each).  For a custom look, buy an extra panel and make toss cushions.  Can’t sew?  Use iron-on seaming tape.  Simply fold the fabric like an envelope, use a costume jewelry broach to pin it together and add bling.

One of the least expensive ways of changing and updating your decor is with colour, specifically paint.  Change your wall colour to a nice warm tone to chase away the winter blues.  Almost anything can be painted – cabinets, hardware, furniture and even counter tops.  I am quite passionate about reusing and re-purposing items, as it is so much better for the environment.  As a culture we tend to waste a great deal that can be recycled.

Before and After

A change in wall colour will alter the whole feel of a room; whether you want a warm and cozy feel or a cool and serene, this can be achieved with colour at a minimal expense.  The following are some colour schemes, although there are many variations.  One colour should always dominate in any scheme.

Monochromatic:  Shade and hues of one colour, light to dark.  Use a neutral to balance the palette.

Contrasting: using opposites on the colour wheel, such as blue and red or green and yellow, always a warm with a cool colour.  One olour should always dominate.

Analogous: uses colours next to each other on the colour wheel, such as blue and green or yellow and orange.  This creates a serene and comfortable design.

The psychology of colour and how it affects our lives is quite fascinating.  A simple change in your deor can affect your mood and outlook.  There are a lot of ways of achieving this on a budget.

by Wendy Reeves Siefert

 

Wendy Reeves Siefert is a local decorator and interior designer in the Creston Valley and East Shore region of British Columbia.   You can find her web site at :  Over The Valley

 

“Happy BIrthday To… Who?” How To Never Forget Another Special Occasion

Birthdays. We all have them, every year, and yet when they come around we have the tendency to still be surprised by them. Bizarre though it is, every year we find ourselves, on the eve of a loved one’s birthday thinking “Aaagh! What am I going to get them?”.

Although it’s not really that bizarre. You see, birthdays happen every year and they stay exactly where they are, so it’s not like they scream for our attention in the way everyday life does. If you forget birthdays and special occasions, it may just be because you have a busy life.

When you’re constantly having to deal with one thing or another, it can be tricky to keep an eye on the things that don’t move. And then, if your partner’s birthday is on the 27th of August, you find yourself catapulted into a panic on the 25th. You’d promised yourself you’d be on top of those things this year! What happened?

What happened is that with every new year, the slate gets wiped clean. If you are going to keep up with things that happen during the coming year, you need to be in planning mode by the last gasps of December. Set out a schedule for the coming year, and make it watertight.

Make The Most Of The Digital Age

We are living in a time when almost everyone has a cellphone that performs more roles than most of us ever use. About twenty years ago, would you have had a day-to-day planner in the house? A surprising number of us wouldn’t have.

Now, it’s an app that comes as standard on your phone. Use it! Before the year even gets started, fill out every important birthday and set reminders. Your phone should allow you to do this for weeks in advance. So on the 20th of August, your phone will send you a text: “X’s Birthday! Send Flowers!”. The day before, you can have a reminder that says “Party Tomorrow. Bake cake“, and so on.

Don’t Automate Everything…

Of course, there is a downside to allowing your phone and your computer to take over jobs that your brain used to do. Part of what makes gifting special is the aspect of surprise. The personal element makes a difference. So for example, you may have a standing order with your local bakery to bake and deliver a birthday cake every year.

But planning for everything to be done automatically does have its drawbacks. If you’re not acting on impulse from time to time, then gifts end up just happening. In other words, don’t just wait for reminders. Have them there as a security blanket, but check a month ahead to make sure you aren’t about to miss a birthday. Then kick into gear with some novel, personal ideas.

The More Prompts You Have, The Better

As well as using your phone and laptop to ensure you are ahead of the curve, an actual wall planner is an invaluable part of your planning. Let’s face it, when you’re looking at your phone it is easy to be distracted by news, games, and Tweets.

A physical reminder of your schedule, right there on a prominent wall, is impossible to ignore and clearly has just one purpose. You can never be too covered when it comes to reminders!

Are you feeling S.A.D.?

Sad Bear

Ever since we lived in the North, I have been affected by S.A.D.; Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It is not severe but it is definitely something that I have to be aware of during the winter months.

S.A.D.  is a kind of depression that happens during certain times of the year. Often starting in the fall when the days are getting shorter and lasts through the winter; but can also run spring to summer.  Many Canadians, often women, will suffer from S.A.D. and it is thought to be lack of sun in the winter months that causes this, the Winter Blues.  If you think you may have this, please go see a doctor.

For the last month or so, we have had weeks of dull, cloud covered days.  About mid to end of January I started to notice that I didn’t want to go anywhere, see anyone, do anything.  I was sleeping in, a lot!  My life was taking on the look of the days outside.  One morning I was sitting having my coffee and realized it was S.A.D. I was experiencing.  Once I was able to identify it, I was able to take action.

This is what I did.  I started to set the alarm clock to start getting back onto a regular routine again.  Then I made plans to go and have coffee with a friend, get involved with my painting club again, and well, I made cookies!  I had to find something I wanted to do, where I could feel a sense of accomplishment. My painting had become as abysmal as the sky, dull, flat and no excitement.  So, I made cookies.  It was something I like to do, and eat, and also was a complete task that I could look back and see something tangible.

Just yesterday I attended my art club group.  It was so good to be with my own “tribe”.  They are encouraging, inspirational and I came home happy and energized.

3 Blue

Are you S.A.D.?  What do you do about it? 

 

Renew a Favourite Shirt

We have heard about recycling, reducing waste and re-purposing items; and one way of helping is to renew your old clothing.  Back in the day it used to be called “mending”.  

My mom taught me this little trick for prolonging wear time out of an older shirt.  Cut off the sleeves and turn the collars.  Mysweet Handy Man loves his old shirts, ones that really have seen better days; but I thought perhaps I can try this out and save his favourite shirts.

Back or Under Collar

 

As you can see, the top of the collar is pretty worn and frayed while the bottom looks new.

The first thing to do is to carefully remove the stitches.  I used a small ripper.  Slip it between the collar and the band and gently start to pick or slice the stitching.   I only opened the seam as much as I had to, to remove the collar.

Once the collar is completely separate, iron it to straighten the seam area.  Fold the band and pin the center to mark it.  Do the same with the collar.

Mark the Middle

Using the pins as markers, pin the collar back into the band making sure you turn it around so the bottom is now the top of the collar.  Stitch closed with a narrow seam.  Give it one more ironing to fold in the right direction.

Now the shirt looks new again, as long as no one peeks underneath 🙂

Do you renew your clothing?  What have you done to reduce clothing waste?

Easy Butter Tarts

img_3437Butter tarts are made out to be difficult to make, not so.  They are a beautiful addition to your Christmas baking and everyone is so impressed.  This is my recipe, and I make it easier by using frozen tart shells.  Honestly frozen tart shells are the best thing since sliced bread.  If you want to make pastry go ahead, but be sure to add a couple hours extra on the prep time.

This recipe is a “dump” recipe.  Add all the ingredients and mix; well you can keep the raisins until last and stir them in.  Spoon out the goodness and half fill each shell.  Bake until brown and set.  So delicious.  This time I used the raisins from the grapes I dried and they tasted amazing.  img_3433

Assemble all your ingredients and turn on your oven.  Add everything into the small mixing bowl and mix until the butter is cut into small pieces and everything is blended together.  Stir in raisins.img_3431img_3434

Place two dozen frozen shells on a large baking sheet.  Fill the shells half full, they will bubble and overflow and make a big mess if you overfill.  Bake until they are brown and set.  Serve warm or cold.  They also freeze well.img_3435 img_3436

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Butter Tarts

Ingredients

  • - 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • - 2 Eggs
  • - 3 Tbsp Cold Butter
  • - 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
  • - 1 Tsp White Vinegar
  • - 1 Cup Raisins (or Currants if you prefer) * Can also add chopped nuts

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients except raisins and blend until butter is in small chunks.
  2. Add raisins and stir
  3. Fill unbaked tart shells 1/2 full
  4. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
  5. Watch carefully, turn cookie sheet half way through if your oven is not even.
  6. The filling should be set not runny. Add minutes on if you need to.
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Quick & Easy Christmas Dessert

Coconut Lemon Tarts

With so many commitments over the Christmas season, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  One way I like to ease up is to make simple desserts.  My favourite is tarts, yes tarts!  This recipe is so fast you can whip them up in an hour and they look like you have been working all day.

Coconut Lemon Tarts

Coconut Lemon Tarts

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White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Christmas coming and that means baking and candy making.  I love both.  Cookies are fun, but I love making candy.  Right now I am totally into making fudge.  This is a very easy recipe for a sweet treat and looks fantastic on a tray of goodies or wrapped up for gift giving.  The chocolate version we used to make for teacher gifts.  I tried to keep it from the kids by calling it Poison Fudge…it didn’t work!

Gather your ingredients and a good heavy bottomed pot.

Getting everything ready

Getting everything ready

This time I want to make peppermint fudge and as an added enticement crushed several candy canes.  They are bright and should look good in the white fudge.  First I tried my rolling pin, but in the end, I used a small hammer.  Not exactly a precise instrument, but definitely effective.

Hammered

Hammered

I saved some of the bigger pieces to put on the bottom of my pan, which will be the top of my fudge.  The plan is to have these tasty chunks showing when I turn it over.  Don’t forget to spray your pan for easy removal.  You can make this in a 9×13 pan but I chose a loaf pan and will then cut them in slabs.  If you decide to put it in the 9×13 save the chucks to sprinkle on top later.  You may need more candy!

fudge

Chunks of Candy Cane

Start by melting your butter on low.  This will give you some time to pull everything together and measure out ingredients.  With candy making it all seems to happen at once, so by getting it all measured out in correct portions saves time and candy!

butter and cream

butter, sugar and cream

Once the butter is melted, add your sugar and cream.  Take a couple of minutes to stir this slowly until it is all incorporated then turn up the heat to medium.  You need to be stirring this continually as it can scorch easily.  Once the cream mix comes to a rolling boil, one you can’t stir down, set your timer for  5 minutes.

Mixing it in

Mixing it in

After your timer goes, remove from heat and add your flavouring, chocolate and marshmallow cream.  Stir, stir, stir.

candy-in

Crushed Candy Canes

Last, dump in the crushed candy canes.  It looks so pretty.  Once this is all mixed in, take a spatula and fill your loaf pan, or if a 9×13 then spread it evenly over the pan.

Full to the top

Full to the top

Set your fudge to one side, you can cover it with wax paper, but nothing tight as it needs to cool and set.  I will leave mine overnight before cutting it.

topping-got-lost

Topping got lost

The bigger chunks did not look as great as I thought they would, and another bit of a pain to cut around.  Note:  next time crush all the candy.

So good

So good

This is amazing.  A rich peppermint taste with a smooth creamy texture.  I hope you enjoy it.

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Butter
  • 2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Jar of Marshmallow Cream
  • 1 Tsp Peppermint Extract
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup of Crushed Peppermint Candy Canes.

Instructions

  1. Melt butter on low heat, add sugar and cream.
  2. Stir on low for two minutes until completely incorporated.
  3. Turn up heat to medium and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add white chocolate chips, flavouring and marshmallow cream. Beat well.
  5. Add Crushed Candy Canes and stir well.
  6. Pour into loaf pan or 9x13 cake pan. Cool overnight.
  7. Cut into slabs or squares.
  8. This is a very pretty fudge and looks good on a Christmas platter of treats. Wrap the slabs in plastic wrap, tie with some curly ribbon and you have a great gift.
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