Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lessons Learned, Money Saved

Here's a bit of money-saving inspiration from "The Simple Dollar:"

This is a fun list. I especially like the items that go "_________ isn't nearly as scary as it sounds." It's so true. A lot of times we spend money to get out of things that really aren't that bad.

What have I learned from trying to save money? Here are a few things, in random order:

1. It's fun to create money strategies and then watch our progress.
2. You realize a lot of things are completely unnecessary after you've put off buying them for a while.
3. Some things cost more to upgrade than others. For example, we could rent a tiny house (here in the bay area), or we could stick with our apartment and stay at the Four Seasons twice a month for the same total cost.
4. I love beans.
5. Buying things isn't as much fun as doing things. See this post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Unemployment and Faith

In this article from the August issue of the Ensign, A. Brent Hammond writes about how he and his wife got through unemployment. Things eventually worked out for them, and they managed to do a lot of good in the process.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fabulous Cabbage

Do you eat cabbage? We love the stuff. Raw, it's crunchy and a bit peppery. Boiled, it tastes buttery and smooth. And the great thing is, it's super cheap--30 cents a pound the last time I bought some!

Here are three of my favorite cabbage recipes:

Cabbage Patch Soup from allrecipes (pictured above). This recipe is easy and tasty. We use real bacon, double the cabbage, and leave out the peas.

Chicago Dog Salad from Rachael Ray. It sounds weird, but it's really yummy. We shred the cabbage ourselves; it's easy.

Jeanne's Vegetable-Beef Borscht from the Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook. Borscht is a traditional Russian stew. It is usually made with beets, which turn it bright red. I was excited to find this recipe which is as flavorful as the traditional recipe I use, but much simpler. Preparation still takes some time, but it's worth it! The recipe works best in a 5 quart slow cooker. You could go larger. My alterations and substitutions are in parentheses. Please forgive me if they annoy.

1 lb. beef roast, cooked and cubed (I used less, cut small, and browned but not cooked through)
half a head of cabbage, sliced thinly
3 medium potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced (I used a 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes)
1 cup corn
1 cup green beans
2 cups beef broth (I doubled this, 4 tsp beef broth concentrate)
2 cups tomato juice (I used 1 cup tomato sauce)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dill seed (really it's optional; for more authenticity add chopped fresh dill to each serving)
2 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp pepper
(I also added a bit of honey after cooking to complete the flavor, maybe 1 tablespoon for the whole batch)
sour cream

1. Mix together all the ingredients except water and sour cream. Add water to fill slow cooker three-quarters full. (At this point the vegetables are piled way over the water line. They will cook down.)

2. Cover. Cook on Low 8-10 hours. (Or on high 2-3 hours, on low 4, if you're a little slow like me).

3. Top individual servings with sour cream.

Variation (which I highly recommend!): Add 1 cup diced cooked red beets during the last half hour of cooking. (I peeled a large beet, pierced it with a fork several times, cooked it in the microwave until tender, and then diced it.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How Money Can Make You Happy

Money does not equal happiness. We know that.

However, it turns out, spending money in certain ways can actually make you happier. Think money spent on a family vacation, or saving up for something really special.

Here is a great article from the New York Times about Money and Happiness, with some great insights about the kind of spending that adds to our happiness. I particularly liked the description it gives of the"buzz" we get from buying things. We feel great, and then the we get used to whatever it is, and so we buy something else.