Monthly Archives: January 2015

Valentine’s Day the SUPER-hero way

Make beautiful, gourmet chocolates for Valentine's Day

Make beautiful, gourmet chocolates for Valentine’s Day

 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  Whether you are looking to make a homemade treat for your love or trying to figure out what treat to send to school for you kids, chocolate covered pretzels and heart-shaped rice crispy treats dipped in chocolate can make the perfect indulgence!

 

Valentine heart rice krispie

 

These homemade treats look festive and delicious. The best part is that they look fancy, but you won’t have to pay the expensive price tag that comes along with buying them from a gourmet shop. Here’s what you will need:
• Chocolate candy wafers
• Pretzel rods
• Rice crispy treats
• Assorted sprinkles
• Double broiler (or similar set up)
• Wax paper

Heart-shaped Rice Krispie Treats

Making a heart-shaped rice crispy treat is not as hard as it looks:

  1. Cut larger corners off one side to form the point at the bottom of the heart
  2. Cut very small corners off the other side to round the top edges of the heart
  3. Cut a small “V” in the middle of the top
  4. Use your hands to mold the rough edges

heart krispie collage

Set the heart-shaped krispie treats aside.  Once the chocolate is melted, you can dip the top in or drizzle with the melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

 

Melting the Chocolate

You don’t need to buy a double broiler to melt chocolate properly. All you need is a regular pot; fill it about 3/4 full with water and boil. Make sure you have a large, glass bowl that will sit on top of the pot without falling in, but the bottom of the bowl needs to fit down in far enough to touch the water as it boils. Pour the chocolate melts into the bowl. The boiling water will do most of the work, but you can stir occasionally to keep the chocolate melting evenly.

*You can also melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave at 50% power, in 30 second increments.

 

Valentine's choc
Once melted, the chocolate should look smooth and shiny. It should be free of any lumps and pour freely. Pour out onto a piece of wax paper. Roll pretzel rods in the chocolate until fully coated. Dip the heart shaped rice crispy treats in the chocolate or drizzle with a fork. Sprinkle with festive Valentine’s Day colors before the chocolate starts to harden.
I decided to get creative with some of the leftover chocolate and make a heart-shaped chocolate wafer. Start with a small circle of chocolate and use a butter knife or toothpick to move it around into the shape of a heart. When the chocolate hardens and dries, it will peel off the wax paper easily.

 

Chocolate Pops

Another fun and easy treat to make for your kids’ Valentine’s Day parties are chocolate pops.  Having boys, they definitely DO NOT allow me to make pink ones, but they like the red ones, white chocolate, or milk chocolate.  Attach a Valentine with a ribbon ad your treat is ready to go!  I can make these chocolate pops for about $0.10 each!  That is a huge savings from any ready-made candy that you might buy for your kids to hand out.

 

choc heart

 

Valentine Cards
Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like Captain America! I knew that my boys would like these Valentine’s Day cards when I bought them… last year, after Valentine’s Day. I got them on clearance, 90% off! So instead of paying $3.00 for the box of 27 valentines, I got it for $0.30! I also bought a few other boxes that I thought they might like since they were such a good deal. So instead of paying $12.00 for the 4 boxes of valentines that I bought, I only paid $1.20.

Valentine Cards
Time to put it all together!

Place two pretzel rods and one heart-shaped rice crispy treat in a treat bag, tie a ribbon around the top, and attach the valentine card! Great treat bags for my boys to hand out at their school parties, all for about $0.30 per bag!  Money Savvy and Delicious!

Treat Bag 2

Treat Bag

Happy Valentine’s Day

5 Home Renovations that Don’t Increase Your Home Value

Photo courtesy of Modernize.com

Photo courtesy of Modernize.com

By Tim Smith, Modernize.com

 

Many homeowners make certain renovations to their home thinking that these renovations will drastically increase the value of the home. However, they are surprised and disappointed when they find out that their remodel project added no value to the home. The following are a few remodel projects that could be done as a labor of love, but should not be expected to bring any increase in home value. Cost estimates are from the 2014 Cost vs Value Report via Remodeling Magazine.

 

Intricate Landscaping

 

Walking onto a property that has a stellar landscape is definitely appealing. However, in many cases, a nice landscape does not equate to a higher home value. Now, it doesn’t mean that it’s a completely and totally worthless investment. Potential buyers are more likely to take a second glance at a home with a beautiful landscape.

 

Maintenance Projects

 

You would think that spending tens of thousands of dollars installing a new plumbing system, redoing the electrical work, installing new windows, or putting on a new roof would drastically increase a home’s value, right?  Wrong.  The reality is that these maintenance-type projects do very little to change the value of the home. The reason for this is that homeowners expect the plumbing and electrical system in the home to work and the roof not to leak. So even though this is money out of your pocket, it is basically the cost of homeownership and making these necessary repairs doesn’t really add any additional value.

 

Swimming Pool or Money Pit?

 

The idea of having a swimming pool in the backyard seems really cool. Many homeowners think that the addition of a swimming pool to their property will automatically increase its value. That is not necessarily the case. Swimming pools cost thousands of dollars to install. While they are good for avid swimmers, swimming pools can be a turnoff to families with small children and families who do not have the time or money to keep the swimming pool clean, heated and maintained.

 

Expensive Built-In Sound Systems

 

For some buyers, a built-in surround sound system or a built-in home theater is a selling point. But these individuals are few and far between. The average home buyer is not necessarily looking for this amenity, so even though it may be nice, it probably is not going to make someone want to spend extra money on a house.

 

Backup Power Generator

 

At the outset, it seems like the best idea in the world. Invest money installing a generator that guarantees that regardless of the weather conditions your home will have energy. Who would not want to spend a few extra dollars to purchase a home with this feature? Well, the truth is, it will depend on your future home buyer: for some this may be a pivotal selling point, to another, it may not matter at all. Installing a heavy-duty backup generator will cost on average $14,700. Homeowners can expect to recoup less than 50 percent of the money spent on this upgrade when they sell their home.

 

 

tim-smith

Tim Smith is a energy efficiency and remodeling blogger from Austin, TX. Tim enjoys everything DIY and is interested in home automation.

 

 

Savings on SLIMQUICK Pure

sqpurelogo

 

We are well into the New Year now and we know that about 2/3 of all resolutions made have to do with either losing weight or getting a better handle on finances.  If you are one that is looking to lose weight, I have come across SLIMQUICK Pure Extra Strength Gummies.  They are currently offering, for a limited time, a $5 coupon on SLIMQUICK Pure Extra Strength Gummies.

Here are some product highlights:
Lose 3X the Weight*
With Bio Pure Green TeaTM
Stimulant Free
Amazing Mixed Berry Flavor

SLIMQUICK Pure Extra Strength Gummies are sweet and juicy mixed berry flavored and are all-natural and free of artificial colors. In fact, they are such a treat you won’t believe they are actually helping you lose weight! SLIMQUICK Pure is a ground-breaking formula that’s designed to help women lose 3 time the weight in 13 weeks. It’s exclusive natural extract is so potent, it makes SLIMQUICK Pure the most effective female weight loss supplement.

SLIMQUICK Pure has isolated the fat burning components in green tea that speed up your metabolism better than any unhealthy chemical ingredient. SLIMQUICK Pure with BioPure Green Tea allows for three times the absorption of fat burning agents called catechins, and you can lose three times the weight. Guaranteed. That’s right, lose weight or your money back.

sqpuresgum60_400cc_cmyk_wgums

Ok, I have to admit that after the holidays, I am definitely looking to lose about 10 pounds.  Stay tuned for my follow-up review of this product and for my personal results!

*A clinical study has shown that overweight women using SLIMQUICK Pure’s key ingredient, along with a 1350 calorie diet, lost 25 pounds vs. 8 pounds with diet alone in just 13 weeks. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

This is a sponsored post.

Rapid Fire on Bill Martinez LIVE: The Gold Standard

Gold bars arrangement

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a part of Rapid Fire on the Bill Martinez LIVE radio program.  As you can probably imagine– exciting and a bit nerve-racking!

Topic: The gold standard

To give you a bit of background, the United States has not been on the gold standard since 1933.  At that time, FDR took the country off the gold standard to be able to pump money into the economy in order to give the US a boost and recover from the Great Depression quicker than if remaining on the gold standard.

At this point in history, no country actually uses the gold standard, but many do maintain gold reserves.

*Interesting fact: other commodities have been used in history as a basis for currency.  Salt for, example was used as currency in the past; thus giving us the root meaning for the modern-day term, salary.  

Budget-friendly Superfoods

Bunch of Grocery Produce Items on a Wooden Plank

The New Year is here, and that can mean a fresh start for your finances…. and your health.  With nearly ¾ of all resolutions made at the beginning of a new year relating to either losing weight or getting finances under control, let’s look at a way to make those goals achievable together: choose budget-friendly superfoods.
So what are superfoods?

Superfoods are foods that seem to offer additional health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Superfoods have the following qualities:

  • Low in calories.
  • Contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • High in fiber.
  • Contain phytochemicals that research shows may help to prevent disease.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Low in unhealthy substances such as saturated fats, trans-fats, or refined sugars.

Often, when we think of health foods, we think of expensive supplements or over-priced produce that you don’t even know how to pronounce. But superfoods don’t have to be outlandish or expensive. There are several, everyday items at your local grocery store that can provide the nutrition you need without blowing your budget:

  • Beans and Peas: Legumes, including kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and lentils, are an excellent source of meat-free protein, fiber, folate and potassium.
  • Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables: Kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens are excellent sources of fiber, folate, Vitamins A and K, calcium, and antioxidants.
  • Berries: Most of us just eat berries because we like the naturally sweet flavor, but, berries are also bursting with a multitude of healthy nutrients, including fiber, Vitamins A, C and E, calcium, and potassium. Don’t forget that frozen berries can provide the same nutrients as fresh berries, which may not be available year-round.
  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cabbage: This group of vegetables is also low in calories and high in fiber and Vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Cinnamon: Polyphenols in cinnamon help to reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Low-fat, plain yogurt: Loaded with calcium, potassium, protein, and probiotics.
  • Eggs: contain 12 vitamins, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory.
  • Nuts: should be eaten in small quantities because they are higher in fat.  However, they are also a good source of protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants.
  • Quinoa: whole-grain, good source of protein
  • Salmon: low in calories, low in saturated fat; high in protein and iron
  • Sweet Potatoes: high in Vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium

Now, you may be thinking that nuts and quinoa can be expensive when compared to substitute items.  And the truth is, they are more expensive.  However, think about how much it costs to buy processed, pre-packaged meals and it is certainly less than that.  A one-pound bag of almonds or walnuts or one box of quinoa can be used as part of several meals, so even though it costs a bit more up-front, it will help stretch your dollars in the long run.