Simple & Quick Scratch Ticket Bouquet!

I have spent the past 3 days with some kind of electronic device in hand, on Pinterest looking for the best way to create a scratch ticket bouquet for a fundraiser this Saturday night.

I have $100.00 to spend and I want to make it look fabulous.

I found all kinds of cool pictures, but when I click on the link to learn how to create it, there is either a dead link or a website that has nothing to do with the original picture.

I decided to figure it out on my own and  create a “how to” post so that others can read a real post about the real pictures :-).

I purchased a cute container with a really sweet flower on the front- no need for me to decorate!  I took it to the floral department and put a gazillion of those floral foam balls inside to see which fit the tightest.  I found one that wasn’t perfect but would work.  I had the rest of the supplies at home already so I only spent about $10.00 at the craft store.

Supplies:

Scratch tickets

Lollipop sticks or skewer sticks

Floral foam

Container of choice

Shipping tape

Crinkle cut basket filler

Cellophane

Ribbon to tie a bow

supplies for scratch ticket bouquet

supplies for scratch ticket bouquet

Tape the lollipop sticks to the back of the scratch tickets.  Be sure to not tape the bar code on the back. You want to make sure the person who wins can redeem the ticket and they won’t be able to without the bar code.  The heights can vary.

Stick the sticks in the floral foam

I had to secure the ball in place with a little tissue paper.  You don’t want the tickets moving from side to side.

sticks in floral foam

Sticks in floral foam

Cover the foam with something that looks nice. I used a little crinkle cut basket filler.

Before crinkle cut and cellophane!

Before crinkle cut and cellophane!

Wrap with cellophane, tie a bow and you are finished!

final product! Took 10 minutes to make.

Final product!
Took only 10 minutes to make.

These baskets are usually great sellers at fundraiser/auctions.

We’d love to see how yours come out! Share pics in the comments!

 

True business perseverance…. Small business spotlight!

In New England we have gotten a LOT of snow.  They say this was worse than the blizzard of 78.  I heard one news reporter say Boston got over 100 inches since January 28th.

giant snowman

To say that it has been difficult to run a business is a complete understatement!  Between closing full days mid-storm, closing early, opening late,it has been a nightmare for my business and all of my small business friends.  Then when it finally stops snowing, there is the cleanup.  After the 70 inch mark, there was just no place to put the snow anymore.  The snow mounds are so high, you can barely see out of most windows.  Then there are problems that come with so much snow that you just don’t even think of, leaks that never existed suddenly appear.  Heavy snow on weak roofs have caused some roofs to cave in and collapse.  My husband had to get on our roof twice and shovel.

My deck, you can see the umbrella attached to the picnic table

My deck, you can see the umbrella attached to the picnic table

A local business in my neighborhood has had to close their business for the four weeks.  It is a dance studio called In Sync Center of the Arts.  They are one of the most well run and talented dance studios in my area.  What drew me in to this dance studio 5 years ago was how many classes they offered- not just for dance, but taekwondo, lego club, music lessons, and drama. I have four kids and I loved that all of them could take a class at once and I would get a whole hour all to myself :-). In the lobby, they have big screen tv’s that show all of the classes so you can see everyone at once.  LOVE IT!

The week before February vacation,  Insync’s next-door neighbor’s roof collapsed.  Thankfully it was empty and nobody was hurt physically.  Financially, it is devastating.  There are 5 business all in this little strip mall and they are all closed.  If I had to guess how many people were employed between the five businesses I would say hundreds.  Hundreds of people out of work because of something out of their control!  It’s heartbreaking!

The UPS store is the roof that collapsed, to the left of Insync.

The UPS store is the roof that collapsed, to the left of Insync.

Teri, the owner of Isync, was trying to unplug and relax for a few days during Feb vacation with her husband and kids.  She actually left her phone in her hotel room while out for dinner, only to return to hear about the nightmare she has now been living for weeks.  She had to cut her vacation short and rush home to make sense out of her new situation.  She was not allowed on the property. The electricity and gas is shut off and everything is roped off until it is deemed safe.

Most people would curl up into a ball and feel sorry for themselves, but not Teri.  She had her team up and running the next day seeking out temporary space for her business.  They brought their phones and laptops to a fabulous little coffee shop (mine 🙂 ) and worked as a team and didn’t stop until they found space that would work.

She ended up with two spaces, one by day and a high school for the night classes.  The high school is perfect because there are so many class rooms that it allows many dance classes to go on at the same time.

Amazing strength, creativity, and the drive to go on.  All admirable qualities that I believe most entrepreneurs have.  Teri has a crazy awesome team loaded with talent and is clearly flexible.

Awesome, talented staff!

Awesome, talented staff!

I am honored to be a customer of theirs and I love how they are handling this situation.

There is so much negativity and tragedy shown on the news and social media, I just had to share how a real life woman turned some serious sour lemons into delicious lemonade 🙂

insynlogo

New Year’s Resolutions…. NaBloPoMo day 1

I have decided to take the NaBloPoMO blogging challenge of blogging daily for a month!  Feeling a little nervous!

Today’s prompt:  What are you New Year’s Resolutions for the new year?  Tell us how you chose them.

I have been on a path of change for a long time now.  I feel like life is like an onion and I just keep peeling back the layers.  Some make me cry and others I am fine with.

I am pretty aware of making better choices for myself year round but I love starting a new year fresh!  I love creating vision boards and fun little resolution crafts with the kids on New Years Eve.  This year we made little people (see image below) and put whatever resolutions came to mind on the shirt.  These little resolution people will hang in our living room all year and we (four kids and my husband) will check in with each other to make sure we are all on the right path.

resolution pic

My personal resolutions are to focus on being more present, meditate daily, play more games with my children, get back to juicing weekly, reduce clutter, cut out processed foods, get out of debt, blog more frequently and learn more about investing.

I have been taking baby steps towards bigger goals for about 10 years.  For example I cut out g.m.o.’s last year, switched to raw milk, and began juicing two years ago.  I cut out gluten in September and am prepared to cut out processed foods now.  I haven’t quite  yet defined what processed food is to me but am working on it.

Baby steps have always worked for me.  I like to practice giving something up just before I go cold turkey.  It’s funny because I feel like I am SO FAR away from my goals but when I actually stop and look how far I have come, I can see real progress.

It is only one day into 2015 and I am loving it already.  It is going to be my best year yet, I can feel it.

 

This week’s dinners

I’m really behind this week- but I’ll post our dinners now, even though it’s Friday. We had meatloaf, honey roasted chicken, chicken soup, steak tips, and lots of raw and roasted veggies. I love chopping a ton of veggies at once and just rotating them through the oven. The house smells yummy and we end up with lots of veggie options. This week I roasted broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery root and spaghetti squash. Roasted sweet potatoes are a staple in our house, and carrots and broccoli are popular, but this was the first time I tried roasting celery root and spaghetti squash. The roasted celery root was ok (peeled and sliced, tossed with olive oil and salt before roasting) but I prefer it steamed and puréed with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. I am IN LOVE with the spaghetti squash, though. I followed this recipe I love Indian spices! I was out of curry powder, so I used a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for some heat. I ate half of the mini frittatas as soon as they came out of the oven! I think I found a new favorite!

Something that has been super helpful over the last few weeks is weekend cooking! Taking some time and cooking some dishes on the weekend that can be easily reheated on busy weeknights makes it easier to deal with cranky, tired kids. Andy makes this meatloaf that the kids love!

We also make this honey roasted chicken and then use the bones to make soup.

What are your favorite make-ahead recipes and time-saving (or money saving,) tips?

-M 🙂

Learning to plan ahead…

Now that school is back in session, I am feeling very nesty. I feel the need to plan ahead and have options in order to keep things running smoothly. I have learned that I get stressed when I am running late, and my kids freak out when I am stressed and snippy, so I’m trying hard to have everyone make breakfast and lunch choices the night before. And I have all but outlawed last-minute wardrobe decisions. But, I’m still having a bit of trouble with planning dinners in advance. When I have time (or take time) on the weekend to make some things in advance, that is super helpful, but the weekdays fly by so quickly and so much can happen in the afternoons when the kids come home, that it is hard to commit to a rigid schedule of meals. So, I am writing a menu of intent, and I am going to do my best to plan around that.

Here’s how it looks so far:
Monday- chicken nuggets, carrots, steamed broccoli
Tuesday- burritos! Ground beef with taco seasoning, daiya cheese, salsa, guac, organic corn, Udi’s gluten free wraps
Wednesday- chicken parm for L and Andy, chicken satay for The Boy sautéed chicken for Sweet AB. Steamed carrots and broccoli. White rice with olive oil. Sweet potato tzimmes
Thursday- fish tacos (cod, spicy seasoning, cabbage slaw, guac?)
burritos for kids
Friday sautéed (balsamic) chicken and veggies over basmati or jasmine rice
Saturday roasted chicken, make stock, roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, sautéed greens
Sunday quinoa pilaf (quinoa with sautéed onions or shallots, carrots, spinach) with leftover chicken

On Wednesday we hit some bumps in the road when I decided to use up the lemons we had and make Andy’s favorite, chicken piccata- a ridiculously fast and easy to make dish, assuming you take a moment to confirm that you have white wine in the house…. I sautéed some chicken and added taco seasoning for the kids. We had steamed broccoli and butternut squash on the side.

For tonight, The Boy is sticking to the plan with a burrito and I’m going to toss some leftover sautéed chicken in a pan with tomato basil sauce, sprinkle some breadcrumbs (udi’s bread tossed in the food processor with some thyme, salt and pepper) and some daiya mozzarella cheese on top and heat it in the oven for L. Andy will have piccata. We will make fish tacos tomorrow. Yum!

Tonight, I will also be roasting some veggies and looking for recipes to use the gorgeous produce that was delivered today. I’m trying an organic produce delivery service to see how it compares to my regular shopping. (See previous for my grocery shopping issues!)

Gorgeous Produce Delivery

Gorgeous Produce Delivery

Any suggestions for spaghetti squash?

-M

Holy Grocery Bill, Batman!

Our listeners may remember that I vowed to start using Mint.com and being mindful of our family budget as part of my New Year’s Resolutions. Well, I haven’t looked at it in a couple of months, so I took a peek today. I am horrified by the amount we spend on groceries. It’s probably double whatever number popped into your head. Now, we have lots of food allergies and sensitivities, so we have to buy completely natural, non- allergen containing foods, but the total is still way more than it needs to be. I have been lazy. I have been winging it and not planning ahead. I need to stop. Now. That said, I will be planning meals ahead, two weeks in advance starting now. Suggestions welcome. What are your favorite family meals?

Mint.Com

As promised, I sign up on Mint.com and linked most of my accounts so far. I still have some categorizing to do, but it looks like I was right about our food expenses. It falls right under our mortgage as our second highest expense. I would think that it’s the same for most families, no?
Overall, I have found Mint to be pretty user friendly. The only hiccup was when I entered my bank login and my husband’s (for some reason, one of our accounts doesn’t show up under my login… I should probably call to fix that!) our checking account linked twice, resulting in double entries for everything in that account. It was easy and quick to fix, though.
I think it will be easy to get and stay in the habit of checking in with Mint. I hope this will miraculously lead to more money in our savings account!
A listener sent me this link www.mavenofsavins.com for a blog all about saving money! Turns out, the blogger is a Massachusetts mom! Hoping to have her on the show soon, so get your questions ready!
– Melissa
 

Spending and Cost Cutting!

Food for a family is expensive, especially when you care about what you put into your body. Add to that the cost of gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free everything and you’ve got a mortgage payment. I am certain that groceries are my second biggest expense. But, I can’t prove it without pouring over bank statements. With this in mind, we got to talking about budgets and finances. NOT my favorite topics, but it is another top ranking resolution. So, it’s on our list.

We got lots of good tips from our Facebook friends. Quicken was a recommendation addressed to me. 😉 So, I’ve signed up for Mint (an online Quicken product) and now I’m ready to be horrified by our spending habits. (Eh-hum, Whole Foods…)

Kicked off by last week’s meal ideas, I’m trying to plan a weekly menu and a shopping list from there. Several people made the recommendation to make your meal plan based on the weekly sales flyers and coupons. Sounds like a good idea to me. Most stores have their weekly flyer available online, so it should be easy to do.

Outside of groceries, I’m not a careless, crazy spender. When I shop online, I always check retailmenot.com for coupon codes. I also shop through Ebates to get cash back on my purchases. The check should be here any day for my holiday shopping!! (Join Ebates now- http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=5vrvhN8RI1Euypfw7Qmf3g%3D%3D )

Favorite tips from FB:

  • Freecycle after tax-free days and other holidays is great timing to catch people who just upgraded and want to pass on
  • Don’t spend money on vending machines/lunches at work. Buy snacks ahead and pack lunch- even a savings of $5 per week goes a long way when you calculate the total for the year.
  • Buy in bulk, plan ahead, try to combine grocery store sales with coupons, be flexible about which brands you will purchase, buy store brand products, never go food shopping on an empty stomach, use the gas buddy app to find the cheapest gas, get rid of cable tv, and buy just the shows you want to watch on Amazon or Netflix. Get rid of your landline, or replace it with a VoiceOver IP system…
  • Fill up your tank early in the week. Gas prices usually rise steadily through the week, hitting their peak on the weekends. *This one is so interesting to me! I’m going to pay attention this week to see if I notice this trend!

There is so much more to post on this topic. I promise more to come over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to hear and read about my progress with Mint. Wish me luck!

-Melissa