Don't Eat Out, Find a New Recipe

My wife and I have certain meals we each enjoy cooking. She excels at spaghetti, lasagna and chicken and noodles, among other dishes. I am not bad at soups, casseroles and grilling. There is some cross over; dishes we both like to make and put our own spin on.

We enjoy the time spent preparing and cooking meals together, as well as giving each other a day off by cooking a specialty. Dinning out is something we consider for special occasions, such as a birthday, anniversary or the last kid moving out of the house. We might even throw in anniversaries of the last kid leaving. If you have survived teenagers you know what I'm talking about!

Eventually everyone gets in the mood for something different; not too exotic, but a little off the beaten path. Maybe a new found recipe or that old one you never did try. Did you get the recipe for that dish you pigged out on at the last office or church potluck? Would you like to try to prepare your favorite restaurant dish at home? To that end I dug through the food & recipes folder in my browser and put together the following list of sites.

All Restaurant Recipes – “A Collection of your Restaurant Recipes!”

All Recipes – One feature I like on this site is a section that allows you to enter the ingredients you have on hand, or don’t want to include, and search for a recipe. – This well laid out site makes it easy to find what you are looking for.

Copy Kat – They feature a pretty extensive collection of both restaurant and personal recipes.

101 Crockpot Recipes – We use our slow cooker all year long but it really gets a workout in the winter. Check out Chet’s list.

Eat The Seasons – I like this site because it tells you what foods are currently in season and includes nutritional information, tips and recipes for them.

Epicurious – This is a HUGE site. My favorite sections are international cooking and seasonal cooking. There is a lot to look at so bookmark this one.

Food Timeline – How about some who, what, where, when, why and how about food. This is an amazing and exhaustive site on the history of food.

Recipe Goldmine – Appropriately titled, they have some interesting categories such as Camping, Celebrity and Cowboy recipes.

Recipe Source – You can browse this one by region or type of dish. Make sure you check out their Extraterrestrial & Bizarre section.

Recipe Hound – They claim to have almost 11,000 recipes. Whoa! There is also a section dedicated to chile peppers called The Chile Page.

A couple more copycat recipe sites are Recipe Secrets and Top Secret Recipes. I have not tried out either of these yet but they look like they take cloning seriously.

Many manufacturers’ websites have good recipes that use their products such as Campbell’s and Pillsbury.

Bon App├ętit!


Tips From The 20s

While doing research on some local history I came across a 1920s list of tips to fight the high cost of living from the Iowa Fair Price Commission.

1. Buy home products to save transportation.
2. Substitute cheaper grades for higher priced articles.
3. Pay cash and carry.
4. Cut out all waste of every sort.
5. Do without senseless luxuries.
6. Don’t buy beyond your need.
7. Take proper care of your clothing.
8. Take pride in your work and do a full day’s work.
9. Charge no more than the service you render is worth.
10. Be producers rather than extravagant buyers.

Excellent advice for then and now.


Sweepstakes, Contests and Freebies from MDP

I have been a subscriber to My Dollar Plan for quite a while and last year when they decided to add a contest section to the site I subscribed to it as well. They offer a daily assortment of descriptions and links to sweepstakes, giveaways, contests and freebies. Sound interesting? Check it out and subscribe. Like Winnie I also love checking my mailbox to find that newest prize waiting for me.


Do It Yourself Clubs

Do-it-yourself clubs are collectives of neighbors, friends and family members that help each other with redecorating and home improvement projects. When forming a club members inventory each others skills and tools, decide on how often to meet and the quantity and types of projects to undertake. Members might agree to meet monthly or just a few times a year. One member might be good at landscaping, while another likes to paint and yet another is good at plumbing. Quite a bit of money can be saved by using the skills, labor and tools of the club rather than hiring a contractor.

The day of the project can even become a social event including serving meals and designating a babysitter to keep the little ones entertained during the work. When that job is completed, planning rotates to the next project for the next member in line.

While researching this post I came across this excellent article from the Associated Press and a 48 year old different take on the concept from the Time archives.


This Weeks Carnivals

The Buck List participated in two carnivals this week. Check out Carnival of the Road to Financial Independence and Money Hacks Carnival – Presidential Edition for articles on beating inflation, frugality, passive income ideas and investing, among many other subjects. Thank you to both for including my posts.


Sell, Trade or Cash In Those Gift Cards

I have a small box that I keep all of my gift cards and gift certificates in so I can find what I need when I need it. To my knowledge I have never lost a gift card, but according to Gift Card Advocate 10% of gift card face value never gets used. Because people “lose them, forget about them, forget to use them or have great difficulty using them” that adds up to $9 billion dollars that was not used in 2008.

If you are interested in selling, trading or cashing in your gift cards this site would be an excellent starting place. They link to over 30 sites that exchange your cards in one way or another and include site descriptions, how long they have been around and what types of cards they deal with.


Selling on Cafepress

Cafepress was founded in 1999 and is located in San Mateo, CA. They are a print on demand company with 6.5 millions users and have a multitude of products to print your designs on and offer for sale, including t-shirts, hoodies and mugs.

I joined in August of 2008, threw some products up on my shop and then walked away from it. That might explain the .50 cents I have earned so far, or maybe it’s my products.

When I first started looking at ways to make money online I was very interested in these kinds of sites and also created a Zazzle Shop.

There are designers that put time into their creations and make some good money as a result. My problem is I am not much of a designer, and was looking at these sites as a way to just create something and watch the money roll in. I got out of them what I put in. Lesson learned. In the future I might give them a more honest try and see what I can make of it.

Both companies offer excellent promotional support and special occasion and holiday deals. If you like to design sign up with either or both companies and start creating. With some decent products and promotion who knows what might happen.


Make Money By Watching Commercials?

Watching the same commercials over and over again on television is one of banes of the medium. What if you could choose the commercials you actually wanted to watch and get the chance to win money for watching? Welcome to AdJack, founded by David Boland in 2008 and based in Santa Fe, NM.

Register with the site and watch five commercials a day. You will be entered in the weekly sweepstakes, drawn for every Friday. Pretty simple, the commercials are usually under one minute in length, and some of them can be amusing.

I just signed up last week and will try it out for maybe six to eight weeks. If I have not won anything by then it will go the way of most of the survey and reward sites I have tried…into the recycle bin.

UPDATE: As of July, 2010 AdJack is no longer offering sweepstakes. The reason according to the site: "We just didn’t have enough entries to make it likely someone would win the larger prizes." Another one bites the dust.


Get a Free Loan from NGA

A free loan?

That’s right!

How much?

As much as you want, there are no limits!

Is this part of the economic stimulus package coming out of Washington, D.C?
No, this is a much older program that comes out of Washington from the National Gallery of Art.

The NGA was created in 1937 upon the death of Andrew A. Mellon to house his personal art collection that he donated to the people of the U.S. Hundreds of other donors have since gifted individual items as well as entire collections.

The NGAs Division of Education “provides slide teaching programs, multimedia programs, videocassettes, CD ROMs and DVDs to millions of viewers each year.” The purpose is to foster awareness of the visual arts and make gallery collections more accessible to educational institutions, community groups and individuals throughout the U.S.

They recommend you order a month before the items are needed, and there is no limit to the number you can order. Items can be ordered by mail, fax or from their online catalogue, which are then mailed to you free of charge. You can keep them for up to two business weeks, after which you simply mail the items back using Media Mail rate. Okay, so it’s not entirely free, but they also offer videos and podcasts that are.


Recent Carnivals

Recent carnivals I have participated in include:

Rich Life Carnival #26

27th Carnival of Making Real Money

159th Festival of Frugality

Take time to check out all three, there are some very good posts to be found in all of them. My thanks to the hosts for including my articles.


Free Wallpaper

I like to change my personal computer wallpaper once a week, almost always on Mondays, and I usually pick something themed to current events or the season. I know there are hundreds of wallpaper sites out there, and my favorite free wallpaper sites change every few months, so this sampling is just a snapshot of what I currently use.

National Geographic

Digital Blasphemy (free gallery)

Free Desktop Wallpapers


What does this have to do with saving or making money? Maybe nothing, but they are free, and a few could even be inspiring.


Micro Loans

Once it became apparent that the money my investments lost in 2008 most likely will not be returning for quite some time, I began to look at some alternative places to invest. I decided to look into micro loans first. Micro loans are made available from a variety of financial institutions to help poor people start small businesses to help them generate income. Most of these borrowers live in the developing world and lack the kind of credit history, collateral or steady employment that traditional lenders look for. The concept and practice of very small loans began a few hundred years ago, but the modern movement began in the 1970’s in India.

While looking around for some possible micro loan investment opportunities I came across the following sites. Most micro loans have pretty low returns (1% to 3%) so your motive in investing with them would be more of an attempt to help the poor improve their socioeconomic situation rather than to make a great return on your investment. Some encourage donations only, with the promise that they will continue to reloan your donation to others once it is repaid. “Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.” You can browse profiles of people needing loans and choose specifically who you want to loan to. They encourage loans of $25 and up as well as donations.

Opportunity International: “is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the working poor.” They also “offer savings, microinsurance, business training and many more services to 1.1 million working poor in 28 developing nations.” As far as I can tell this group only accepts donations.

United Prosperity: “We are a grassroots, non-profit organization with a simple mission: End Poverty.” It appears they are still working on getting up and running because the entrepreneur section of their beta website is empty. They are currently accepting donations.

Calvert Foundation: For over 10 years they have “been working to make community investment a safe and logical option for all investors seeking to make a positive social impact.” They stress the concept that people are able to invest more to help the poor than they could just by giving. One option with Calvert is to invest in a note and choose terms that range from 1 to 10 years, an interest rate from 0% to 3% and deciding on the “social returns” desired such as housing or credit. They also accept donations.

Micro Place: Their mission “is to help alleviate global poverty by enabling everyday people to make investments in the world’s working poor.” Like Kiva they start with a very low minimum investment. And like Calvert they let you choose the term and interest rate.

Microcredit Summit Campaign: Started in 1997, their themes include “reaching the poorest, empowering women, building financially self-sufficient intuitions and ensuring a positive, measurable impact on the lives of clients and their families.” They are supported by individuals, corporations, banks and foundations, among others. They accept donations.

I will be looking further into Kiva, Calvert and Micro Place this year as possible investment vehicles.