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How to be debt free

Do You Know How To Avoid The Debt Cliff This Holiday Season?

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How to be debt free

Do You Know How To Avoid The Debt Cliff This Holiday Season?

Do You Know How To Avoid The Debt Cliff This Holiday Season?

Amazing how quickly Christmas and HOLIDAYS comes, the shopping and preparing anyway. When I was young, one of my most memorable Christmas gifts was the year my mom gave my two sisters and me our favorite box of cereal and soda pop. They were real treats to us as that was a huge splurge, and we were thrilled.

Funny, that I never felt that we had less, or cheated, or ashamed. I think it was because I realized, even though young, that I was more important than ‘stuff’.

When I say that I mean that I understood how critical it was to not over spend, especially on things that won’t last long, much less a lifetime anyway.

When Stan and I started our own family, we made the decision to not spend more than we had set aside for Christmas. And if we had an excess of money, it was better put toward a savings account or other ‘real’ needs and bills.

One Christmas many, many years ago, we had about ten dollars for the four kids Christmas gifts and that was it.  It had been a particularly difficult year with job situations, health issues, a brand new baby and other unplanned circumstances.  What to do with our small amount of money? We decided to get a cat, the food and litter box. Stan brought the cat home early Christmas Eve, but it ran away and we could not find it!

Now we had nothing, and there weren’t the shelters, internet, etc., to get a new cat, plus we didn’t have any money to replace it anyway. Blessedly, Stan’s parents felt impressed to call to check on us, Stan told of our predicament and trying to find the cat.  His parents made sure each of our children had something to open from Santa Christmas morning. So that we can stay on track and be wise lets look at a few issues on money and the Holidays

Why do we overspend for holidays ? A few possible reasons are:

  1. We want to impress our kids, family, friends, co-workers
  2. We feel it’s a social status maker/breaker
  3. Buys friendship or approval
  4. Fixes relationships or makes up for poor behavior

Ideas for making and staying within a BUDGET:

  • DO not, do NOT, DO NOT get caught up in the hype, hoopla and frenzy of the ads, sales and push to shop Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day.
  • Make a list of the priority people you need to gift to
  • How much you can/will/want to spend on each gift
  • Only use a credit card, if you will stay within your pre-set budget and can/will pay it off before interest incurs
  • Another option is to use the envelope method of cash, just be careful not to lose it or let others see the cash; keeps temptation away.  The envelope method is when cash is divided into envelopes of a certain amount set to spend in each category/envelope. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
  • Make a family agreement for a limit to spend and stick to it. Families grow quickly and there are so many people to purchase gifts for that it can quickly take up all of your budget, just on extended family, leaving little or none for your own.
  • For kids, how much do you really need to give them?  Kids respect a parent who is responsible and will do the hard/right thing.
  • Have a potluck dinner or lunch for extended family, co-workers and friends to celebrate the season instead of buying for each.

 

If you truly want to have the gift that keeps on giving and have the ability serve more, get yourself out of debt.  If you want to do that the quickest way possible and sometimes find you have a little extra money, inestead of buying more stuff, pay off the stuff you already have.  Bret Cutler has a great book on the subject and a website that can help you create a REAL CUSTOM plan for eliminating all of your debt.  You can find the book by clicking HERE:

You can also visit his website at http://bcdebtapps.comThis can help you maximize your debt elimination plan.

 

More ways to save:

1. Make gifts – homemade are the best anyway. There are so many ideas, such as calendars with family pictures, a family favorite recipe made with the recipe to go with it, a favorite treat, the list is endless.

2. Scale down.  Do people really like you better depending on the gift you give them? If that is the case, do yourself a favor and get new friends. Going into debt to impress, or compete is not worth it, and just makes you resent them in the long run.

3. Watch for sales and specials, shop on the internet to compare prices, and before making purchases, look at the rating of that particular product.

4. Kids do not need everything or expensive items. Letting them know that Santa/parents have a budget they need to stick to. This teaches them how to budget when they are older, the importance of correct priorities and especially puts a stop to the ‘entitled attitude’ and ‘deserving’ whatever they want just because they breathe. Keep in mind, we are not in a popularity contest to be our kids ‘bff’, but a parent to be relied on, trusted and to show an example to follow, that is a great parent.

5. A friend told me about this practice of what each of her children are given – that’s one in each category.  Our kids don’t need to open gifts for an hour straight, much less hours on end to have a great holiday.

  • Something to wear
  • Something to read
  • Something they want
  • Something they need

 6. Vouchers for a nice meal, babysitting, etc.The key here is to follow up so the gift is actually used and appreciated.

Looking ahead to next year to save money ahead:

  • Purchase after Christmas sales of wrapping paper, cards, ribbons, etc.
  •  Sales during the year to put away for Christmas, such as overstock items
  • Buy gifts that will last and be appropriate for the next year. For example, if mom likes to garden, then watch in the fall for the gardening tools and supplies to go on clearance, purchase those in your budget (envelope method) and put it away for Christmas.

Remember the reason for the season.  If you do, then all falls into place and your heart will be filled with sweet peace and love

Visit my post on 25 Ways, Over 25 Days for more information on how to stay focused on Christ during this very special time of year. Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2017

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

 




JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Best Jalapeno and Bell Pepper Jelly

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Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Over the past three decades of married life, I am positive I have bottled thousands of homegrown yumminess. I used all kinds of available veggies and fruit and bottled them as close to their natural state as possible, to exotic flavors of canned treats. If I had to pick one of my favorites, THIS Jalapeno and Bell Pepper Jelly would make the top 10 for sure. 

I love, love, LOVE this Jalapeno and Bell Pepper Jelly.  It can be made any time of year, and not expensively.  A wonderful gift for any holiday or to take as a thank you to a hostess of a party. Though made with jalapeno, it is NOT hot, it just has a tiny zing for flavor. I know it takes a little extra time, but I have had best results over the years if I do NOT double this recipe.  It sets up and is a fabulous consistency and taste.

Tip:  I used my Camp Chef with the canner and it works perfectly.  IF you have bad weather and move it all into the garage, do NOT shut the garage door!  Give plenty of ventilation to prevent any health risks.  Now, gather up the supplies, borrow from your mom or neighbor and get making this delectable condiment today. Please click through the pages for the recipe.

 

 

 

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Ingredients:

1 large red bell pepper (about 1  1/2 cups)

1 large green bell pepper  (about 1  1/2 cups) 

6-8 jalapeno peppers  (about 3/4 – 1 cup)

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar (I love the depth apple cider vinegar adds to the finished product over plain white vinegar)

½ tsp. butter (prevents foaming when jelly comes to a boil)

¼ tsp. salt

5 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 oz. package of liquid pectin (Certo)

Directions:

Gather supplies  and ingredients

You need jalapenos and 2 bell peppers. The peppers in my garden were a tad small, so it took a few to make the large one. 

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYThe liquid pectin comes in a box with 2 envelopesJALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYI keep a box of disposable gloves on hand to use whenever working with hot peppers. 

Do yourself a favor and use a hairnet.  You can get one at the bakery for a nominal cost, or have a supply on hand.  It is so unsavory and unappetizing, not to mention down-right embarrassing, if someone finds your hair in their food.

You will need 8 half-pint jars (to be safe), get these at the store, or watch for them at garage sales and thrift stores. 

Check carefully for any nicks, chips for irregularities- toss out if there are any.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYALWAYS USE NEW LIDS!!! 

Never re-use lids!

Get narrow or wide depending on your bottles. 

Rings can be re-used if they do not have any damage, rust or dents.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYYou need a canner with rack, wide mouth funnel, bottle lifter, towel(s) to set hot bottles on and hot pads to prevent burning yourself.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

 

Wash jars and lids in dishwasher or in very hot soapy water.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYKeep in warm oven at 200 degrees. JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYPut lids in small saucepan with enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYTake off heat and let sit while preparing jelly. JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY




Stem and chunk red and green bell peppers, discard seeds.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYWearing gloves, stem and halve jalapeno peppers; discard seeds. 

The oils from the hot peppers can stay in your skin for quite a while and it can hurt if it comes into contact with eyes or skin.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYAdd hot peppers to the bell peppers in the food processor JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

And chop all into small pieces.

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

 

Measure sugar into a separate bowl

This is an  important step, as it prevents a miscount or mistake when adding.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYIn a large pan (6 – 8 quart sized sauce pan) add the peppers, apple cider vinegar, butter and salt; JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Then stir in sugar.

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Bring the mixture to a boil,

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYCook for 12 minutes, stirring constantly.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYStir in the liquid pectin and boil for 1 ½ minutes exactly.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY




Take the bottles out of the oven.

Place the funnel into a bottle.

Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/2” of top of jar.

Be sure to leave about 1/2″ head-space leaves room for expansion.JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYWith a CLEAN cloth that is wrung to be damp, JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Wipe the jar rims and threads well.

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLYCover with lid and ring. JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Screw rings (bands) on tight. 

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY

Do NOT really wrenched on hard, just snug to keep the water out when processing and to contain the pressure to enable it to seal properly

JALAPENO & BELL PEPPER JELLY




Oftentimes the jars will seal on their own at this point. HOWEVER to prevent undetectable botulism, which cannot be seen, tasted nor emits an odor, process in the canner and use clean sanitized bottles. 

Process in water bath method recommended by USDA for 20 minutes.  

Place jars in the rack in the canner.

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

Jalapeno and bell pepper jelly

Fill the canner with water, make certain the water covers the top of the jars by at least 3 inches of water.Bring water to a boil, cover and boil for 15 minutes (this is called processing)

jalapeno and bell pepper jelly

jalapeno and bell pepper jelly

Carefully lift the rack from the canner.

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

Jalapeno and bell pepper jelly

 




With a bottle lifter take the bottles out, one at a time and place upright on a towel (it is best to layer a few towels to prevent any damage to table underneath from the heat of the jars). Do not place bottles in a place where a cool/cold breeze from the wind, fan or air conditioner can directly hit the bottles. There is a great risk of bottles cracking or shattering due to the hot contents being affected by the cold air.        

CORRECTION:  I am holding the lid lifter the opposite direction of what it should be – call it nervousness!  The RED end holds the bottles because it is curved and some have notches to help hold the bottle more securely.  Thank you reader Dawn for pointing my mistake out to me:)           

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

Jalapeno and bell pepper jelly

Carefully tighten the rings again to just snug.Do NOT move! Leave it alone! Resist touching those lids!

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

 

Allow the bottles to sit undisturbed for 1 day.  (if necessary to move inside, use as little motion as possible)

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

Now, check the seals/lids by pressing the middle of the lid with finger. (See Below*)When the bottles have sat, are sealed, mark on the lid the year date so you can easily rotate bottles. 

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

Use within 12 months.




Makes 6-7 half pint jars. 

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

JALAPENO and BELL PEPPER JELLY

Enjoy!*If the lid springs back it is not sealed. If this happens you have a couple of options:

1- Put in the refrigerator and use within 7 days.

2- Remake from instructions from USU Extension Service: To Remake with Liquid Pectin – For each quart of jelly, measure ¾ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons liquid pectin. Bring jelly only to boil over high heat, while stirring. Remove from heat and quickly add the sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute. Quickly skim off foam and fill sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch head-space. Adjust new lids and process as recommended in water bath for correct altitude.

Carrie’s recipe, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.




It's All GOOD

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How is Your Life Going?
Are you happy with where you’re at?
Is all a huge thumbs up?
It’s All GOOD
Have you heard that little sentence before? It seems to be permeating our culture, and now even common place for about any situation. For example I accidentally bumped into a lady at the grocery store and her response to my apology was, “It’s all good”. I gave the wrong change to the clerk and his response was, “It’s all good”.
I’ve thought about this statement quite a bit this week. Do you ever have those times when you feel ‘not enough’? Not enough as a parent, as a son or daughter, as a spouse, as a ______, the list could go on forever.
My mind went to a conversation I had with an acquaintance some years back when he was talking about taking his family to Disneyland. I said that would be a terrific family time and thrilled for them; I sincerely meant it too. He said it was their sixth or twentieth time there and I mentioned that we had never taken our family, but hoped that someday we could take the kids and grand kids. He looked at me and with real concern said, “You have never taken your kids to Disneyland?” I was a bit embarrassed, not sure why I was, but I was nevertheless, and replied, that no we hadn’t been there as a family. He then asked (and he was not joking), “Don’t you love your kids?” I sputtered out that of course I do, but the means and circumstances were just not available to us when the kids were growing up.
I mulled the conversation over and though, no, we did not have the means to go to Disneyland (and yes would have been awesome); however, we camped and had other fun adventures that were bonding times and wonderful memories for our family that I am sincerely grateful for.
MUCH too often we compare ourselves to others situations, talents, opportunities and even trials. But, when we get right down to it, there IS good in our life. There are positives and blessings to be genuinely appreciative of.
The world we live in moves so fast, with access to immediate information – and what others are doing/accomplishing, and so on, yet, what about our life? Isn’t grand to be here! What if we took a deep breath, put things in perspective, smiled a full toothy grin and said aloud, no yelled, at the top of our lungs: It’s all GOOD!
It seems that sometimes we put the GOOD in our life on the back burner, or even fail to recognize it, all because we compare and maybe even envy a little. 
So, instead of feeling inadequate, how about if we find out advantages?  I challenge each of us to find THREE wonderful things in our life, every single day, THIS WEEK, then say loud enough for all to hear:  IT’S ALL GOOD!
Copyright A Mother’s Shadow, 2014
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.



Milk Chocolate Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

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Milk Chocolate Nut Clusters

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

These No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters are always a crowd pleaser and SO easy to make!

Use any type of nut, but I use peanuts since everyone seems to like those and they are best priced. 

You can use milk, dark or white chocolate.  

A great treat, dessert or gift anytime of the year, but for a holiday gift they are perfect!

 





 

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

 Ingredients:

12 oz. Candy Melts (Wilton) OR chocolate chips OR bark – dark, milk or white chocolate

12-14 oz. nuts of your choice

Sprinkles if desired



 

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

Heat chocolate in a microwaveable safe bowl at 20 second intervals

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

Stirring well to prevent burning.

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters




Continue this process until the chocolate is completely smooth and it is the temperature of a baby bath.

This is important so that when you add the nuts, it will not cool down too quickly before you are able to make the clusters.

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

Add in the desired amount of nuts, but be sure to allow enough chocolate to cover the nuts completely.

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

Stir well.

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

Form clusters by filling a teaspoon and push off with the back of another teaspoon.Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

If the chocolate happens to begin to harden up by cooling quicker than the clusters are formed, simply put the bowl in the microwave and heat for a few seconds, stir, repeat until warm as a baby bath.

Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

No Fail Easy Chocolate Covered Nut Clusters

Continue forming clusters. Allow the candy set up and store in a covered container.

Carrie Groneman’s recipe, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow 2013, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

 

Here’s another GREAT candy to make – White Chocolate Covered Corn Pops, click HERE