Sunday, November 25, 2007

After Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving here at the Stern household. Friends and family came by to eat turkey and just have fun visiting. The food was abundant and everyone had a great time. As I was chopping up the onions and celery for the dressing, I cut up extra for my pot of turkey broth. Once everyone left, I put my turkey bones in my stock pot and added the onions, celery and other items for making stock. I turned the pot on low and let it cook overnight. In the morning I strained the broth and put up one and a half gallons of stock. I depend on this stock for my winter soups. Yummmm!

We took our traditional family picture of the kids and grandkids, which you can take a look at over at TF’s blog. It is amazing how fast the years go by, one day the kids are small and before you know it they are all grown up with children of their own. I’m very grateful for my family and all the love that they have shown to me.

Below are a few items I found while reading my various emails and favorite web pages.

RECIPE: Crab Wontons
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together 16 oz crabmeat or imitation crabmeat, 8 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese (or regular if preferred), 1/2 chopped onions, 1/2C mayonnaise, and salt to taste. Grease 24 muffin cups or pans, place a wonton wrapper in each cup. Spoon crabmeat mixture into wonton. Bake for about 17 minutes or until edges of wrapper turn golden brown. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Makes 24 servings. For those using ADA exchanges, each crab wonton works out to 2/3 meat, 2/3 fat, and 1/4 bread. POST IT...on your Christmas serving list for an easy appetizer.
(I got this recipe from the “Make a Note” email newsletter.)

If you have an event coming up that requires people to sign up for time slots, food, or just RSVP, then check out Sly Reply. At this website you can set up your own sign up sheets, then just email folks the link for an easy sign up and review for the organizer. Sign up or read all about it at... If you're doing a more formal get-together, then see our previous article on . POST IT...on your computer and with your social/charity group info. (This also came from the Make a Note newsletter.)

Last but not least, I found this information about de-icing your car windows from the dollar stretcher website… I live in the south and rarely need to de-ice but I thought this was good information for you folks up north.

Homemade Window De-icer
I've been checking the Internet but having no luck finding a homemade window de-icer formula. Does anyone have a homemade version of window de-icer they would like to share? Sue

Ice Free Windshields
To prevent your car's windows/mirrors from icing up in the window, treat the windows before you go to bed each night. The window treatment can be made up of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and placed in a spray bottle. This mixture will prevent ice from forming. It is important to spray all of the car's windows and not just the windshield. You can also use the same mixture using rubbing alcohol. Marianne

No More Ice
For homemade window de-icer, use a solution of 1 part water to 2 parts rubbing alcohol. BEEJAY

Provide a Physical Barrier
If this is for a car windshield, you may want to prevent ice buildup in the first place, by using an old sheet or a lightweight tarp. Lay it over the windshield and tuck it into the top and front parts of the car door to secure it. After the storm (or in the morning), remove the cover, along with the ice and snow, shake off, and fold away. When you provide a physical barrier to the ice, any remaining frost should go away quickly with the defrost setting and wipers. C.T.

The Ice Will Lift Right Off
You can use a household spray bottle for this. Mix a bottle of isopropyl alcohol (70% is best but 50% also works) and a few drops of dish liquid. Spray the windshield liberally, and in a few minutes, the ice lifts off the window. Also, try putting isopropyl alcohol in the washer fluid container (half fluid and half alcohol) to keep your wiper lines from freezing up in the winter. Ellie

Have a great week everyone…..

Monday, November 19, 2007

What have you done with your life?

I was reading Jamie Dawn’s blog this morning about a little girl, named Bailey, who had died last week. She was eight years old and had lived with leukemia for four of those years. Last week she ended her earthly life and started a new phase of her life with her Heavenly Father. I thought about how sad her family was and I couldn’t get it off my mind all day. Go over and read Jamie’s blog about this sweet little girl and her struggles with life.

Tonight I found a poem I had read several years ago that got me thinking again. The poem is called, “The Dash” and it talks about the years of your life, from your birth till your death. Please go read this poem and think about the story presented here. It got me thinking about my own life and what I have done with it….. We need to remember what is important in our lives…..

This is Thanksgiving week and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. TF and I are busy cleaning the house getting it ready for our family and friends. It brings me to tears to think of all the blessings we have been given and I am thankful for each and every one of them....... Hope you all have a great week!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why 50% of all rebates go uncollected

Article from Gary Foreman of The Dollar Stretcher

After Epson failed to send my promised rebate and ignored my follow-up letters, I stopped buying items with rebates. If they want to put something on sale, they can lower the price to the consumer. The rebates are just a racket and I refuse to play their game. I make sure I tell the sales clerks this when they recommend a product with a rebate. GG in CA

We've all done it. We're tempted to purchase an item with a rebate. The after rebate price is good, but we wonder whether we'll really receive the rebate. Because without it, the price offered is not the best deal available.

Although estimates aren't easy to find, it's generally assumed that between 40 and 60% of all rebates go uncashed. Some consumers forget to send them in. Others have their rebate requests rejected. Still others neglect to cash the rebate check when it arrives.

Any rebate that's not cashed is pure profit for the company. This is definitely a case where your loss is their gain. And it's a big gain. Published industry estimates conclude that rebates are worth $6 billion each year. So there's roughly $3
billion uncashed rebates yearly.

Most companies generally do not process their own rebates. They hire a fulfillment company to do that job for them. These firms are experts at what they do. There was a time when fulfillment centers bragged about how many rebate requests they disallowed. They're less open about it today.

Many rebate forms are designed to be complicated. Their purpose is to trip you up. Fulfillment centers know what mistakes consumers are most likely to make in submitting rebates. And they have the legal staff to tell them what mistakes can disqualify a rebate. The instructions are often written with the intent of making it hard to collect the rebate.

So what's a consumer to do? Start by shopping around. A little patience could turn up a sale without rebate or a similar product at a price that's competitive to the rebated item.

Look for "Instant Cash" rebates. They're not subject to the same problems as regular rebates. Typically, they're paid out when you pay for the item. So any doubt about collecting the rebate is eliminated.

It would be nice to know which companies deal honestly with consumers on rebates. A quick Google search only turned up a couple of sites attempting to track a company's rebate performance. The only way to deal with the uncertainty is to do business with reputable companies. This is surely a case where the offer is only as good as the reputation of the company offering it.

There are some rebates to avoid. Avoid any that require your original receipt or do not provide contact information.

Follow the rebate directions exactly. If it says to staple this to that, make sure that's what you do. And, no, a paper clip isn't the same as a staple.

Submit rebates as quickly as possible. Make copies of everything that you send in. If the rebate is sizeable, send it via certified mail with return receipt.

Save product boxes until the rebate is paid. And track your rebates. A simple folder for the copies you made will do the job. Be prepared to write follow-up letters if necessary.

If your original rebate was rejected, send in copies or your original application with a polite letter demanding the rebate. Keep a copy of your letter in the "open rebate" folder.

You can also take your complaint to the manufacturer. Fulfillment centers are set up to handle (ignore?) customer complaints. The manufacturer may be more willing to help you. You can usually find their contact information by searching on the company name and "customer service department." Be polite but persistent.

If the company is unwilling to help, there are outside authorities you can call on. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that "if the rebate never arrives or arrives late, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the state Attorney General or the local Better Business Bureau." You can reach the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or

Should rebates be a part of your frugal shopping toolbox? That's really up to you. Some shoppers enjoy the thrill of the game. Their letters demanding a rejected rebate be paid are literary works of art. Their quest for the elusive rebate check would please Indiana Jones.

But, if you're not the adventuresome type or very short of time, stick to sales and coupons. No rebate checks for you. But you just might keep your sanity!

Gary Foreman is a former purchasing manager who currently edits The Dollar website and newsletters. Each week thousands use The Dollar Stretcher to help them live better...for less. Visit today to see
how much farther your day and dollar will go!

Note from Lucy: Very rarely do I not get a rebate back. I follow the directions to the tee and I if I don't see a rebate soon, I call the number on the rebate form to find out the status. You have to follow the rebate form exactly as stated and send in all requested items. Good luck rebating!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why do my cookies spread and become flat after they've been baked?

Cookies may spread for a variety of reasons. Make sure that the butter is not too soft before making the dough. Soften butter slightly for easier mixing by removing from refrigerator and letting stand 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature.

To soften butter quickly, cut into chunks and allow to it soften at room temperature about 15 minutes. If time is limited, place a stick of cold butter between sheets of waxed paper and hit it with a rolling pin on each side to soften butter. Be sure to cool cookie sheets between batches.

A hot cookie sheet can melt the butter before the cookie dough can set. There is no need to grease a cookie sheet unless the recipe indicates to do so. Greasing a cookie sheet when the recipe does not call for it can cause the cookies to spread too much and brown too quickly around the edges.

Before baking an entire batch, bake a test cookie to give a good indication of dough condition. If it spreads too much, the dough may be too soft.

Try refrigerating dough until well-chilled (1 to 2 hours). If the dough is still too soft, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. I found this information from the Food Network webpage.

Note from Lucy: I am always trying to learn better ways to cook and this is good information. Last year I learned to let the cookies sit for at least one minute on the baking pan before moving to a cooling rack. With this new information I have learned not to let my butter sit out to soften for more than 45 minutes, I am guilty on that one. One more tip: Butter really does work better than margarine in baking.....