Sunday, May 19, 2013

5 Tips to Save You Money Right Now {Dating}

Whether you're single and ready to mingle, in a serious relationship, or married 25 years, dating is a big time important aspect for most of us. Just because wedding vows were spoken does not mean the dates stop. NO NO NO!!! Dates are more crucial than ever after the wedding. Ya gotta keep the anticipation, romance, and excitement alive! Pursue each other.

In this day and age, dates can be WAY expensive. I'm sure we're all quite in touch with the price tag of dinner and a movie. Yikes! Dating should be fun regardless of budget. I do think an added bonus to being budget conscious is it (hopefully) forces creativity.

So here we go with creative dating suggestions to be easier on the wallet and add to the fun in your relationship.....

1. Take a walk. If you have plans to go to a baseball game, allow extra time to stroll the surrounding areas hand-in-hand. Walk around your neighborhood. Walk to the coffee shop a few blocks away and then savor every drop of your drink. Being active doesn't have to mean running a marathon or taking a spin class. Just get moving together in whatever way you like. It's simple gestures like these that allow you to spend quality, much needed time together.

2. Explore your city. Unless you live in New York City or Chicago, American cities are not really set up for a lot of walking. Go somewhere in your city you've never been before. Drive to a new area. Go downtown and look at the architecture. Find the hole in the wall restaurant. Now it is important to be aware of safety and to know your surroundings. That being said, drive or walk through unchartered territory and you may be amazed what what you discover.

3. Date night in. Romance it up!!! Do what you need to do to break out of the norm. Turn off the TV, put away the iphone, walk away from the computer, send the kids to Grandma. Open a bottle of wine and play cards, Twister, or truth or dare. Get creative! Have a Bourne Identity marathon, then head over to a convenience store for slushies and junk food. Set up a slip and slide in the back yard without the kiddos. Just you and your date playing like kids in the sprinkler. FLIRT!!

4. Split meals. Now before you roll your eyes, hear me out. There's something really neat about picking out food together and sharing. You will hopefully eat slower and more of a normal portion this way as well. We all know restaurants can be kind of pricey. There's absolutely nothing wrong with fine dining on a budget. When you split, you can actually enjoy more kinds of foods, appetizer, wine, and dessert as well. Split it all and cut your bill in half! The Lady and the Tramp knew romance was sharing a single string of pasta, hehe :-)

5. Progressive dinner. This is by far one of the coolest activities I've ever done. Organize an evening for a dinner party with your friends where appetizers, dinner, and dessert will be served at different houses. The group "progresses" through the meal at each house. It's so much fun! You get to hang out with friends, eat great food, and not spend a ton! Try it!

Hopefully that gives you a few new ideas to try out and keep the flames ablaze. Stay tuned for more frugal ideas to come!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Delicious Homemade Granola

Granola has to be one of my favorite things to eat. Love the salty, sweet, and crunch all mixed into one awesome treat. Not to mention filling! After looking at a few recipes on various websites, I decided to make my own version and man, oh man, is it yummy!

Never again will I spend money on store-bought granola. Talk about a money saver!

You will need:

  • 4 Cups rolled oats 
  • 1 Cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 Cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 + 1/8 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 + 1/8 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 + 1/8 Cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp salt

First, mix together oats, pecans, and almonds in a large bowl, set aside. Next, mix brown sugar, oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat until brown sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla. 

Pour liquid over oat mixture and stir until evenly coated. (It may look a little dry, but don't worry the heat of the oven will melt the sugar even more, giving it the classic granola crunch)

Line a baking pan (preferably one with raised edges) with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour granola mixture onto foil. 

Bake at 325 for 30 min. Stir and the 15 minute mark

Remove pan from oven and firmly press down the cooked granola. It will be HOT so use a big spatula to do this. Let fully cool.

After completely cooled, lift granola out of pan and break into pieces and ENJOY!!!!!!!!!

**store in air tight container for best long term storage