Monday, August 29, 2011

Save Big Money on Christmas Gifts at Department Stores

Christmas is coming!
Are you ready?
With the exception of gifts for her child, my daughter is done with her Christmas shopping. Yes, that’s right, DONE. And it’s only August. And she saved a ton of money. It doesn’t get much better than that! Here are a few examples of how she did it.

Upscale Department Store Sales

Most department stores have sales year-round. If you check the weekly ads, you can get good ideas and good prices, even at upscale department stores. For instance, my daughter found a small kitchen appliance needed by a key person on her list at Macy’s for 60% off. So she was able to stay within her budget and get a nicer model of this particular item for $20 (instead of $50).

Combine Discounts and/or Partner Up!

Moving on to another store, she got a great gift on sale at Kohl’s. The price was so good, I don’t know how that store even stays in business! Anyway, without giving away the secret, she found an 11-piece set that is regularly $299 for $135. Yes, that’s right, $135.  (Hint: shop early for additional discounts – the sale price was actually $180 but was even further reduced the first few hours.) As she doesn’t buy gifts that expensive for anyone on her list, she partnered with me. She also had 20% off that day and $10 Kohl's Cash, so the total price was less than $100. My budget for this particular recipient is $70 so that’s what I chipped in, which brought her share down within her budgeted amount. How cool is that?

Don’t Waste Those Coupons

Then she had a $10 off any purchase coupon for JCPenney’s and found a really cute gift (regularly $40 on sale for $15) for one niece, spending just $5. A couple of days later she got a $10 off a $25 purchase coupon so went back and got a nice gift for another niece.

What Are You Waiting For?

So check the sale ads. If you don’t get sale ads in the paper or by mail, not to worry! Most of these same ads can be viewed online. Just go to the store’s website (usually and look for a link to the current local ad.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, why not? Bottom line is you can save big if you shop early, shop the sales, and take advantage of coupons. So do yourself a favor and beat the Christmas rush. Don’t wait until Black Friday or later sales - take advantage of the slower pace and shop now.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

See My Gallon-of-Berries Pie!

My Gallon-of-Berries Pie!

We’ve got blackberries - and lots of them! My sweet hubby went out picking this morning and I’ve been washing and freezing berries on cookie sheets to be put in freezer bags for later use. Well, I decided to use my new birthday pie dish (thanks, Karen!) and make a delicious blackberry pie, as well.

What I didn’t realize is how BIG a pie I was going to make! I knew the pie dish was large but thought it was just about twice the size of a regular pie pan. Wrong! It’s really more like triple the size! So here’s the result - a blackberry pie with about one gallon of berries.

Easy Blackberry Pie How-to
For those who’ve never made a blackberry pie, it’s really easy. For one regular size pie:
  1. Just toss ½ cup sugar and ½ cup flour with 4 cups blackberries.
  2. Line your pan with your favorite rolled crust and spoon in the filling.
  3. Put on the top crust, roll and pinch the edges, and then cut some vent holes in the center.
  4. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes and then turn the heat to 375 degrees and bake another 20-25 minutes.

Tip: To avoid a mess in the bottom of your oven, put the pie pan on a cookie sheet.

Oh! And if you’re going to make a double or triple size pie like me, leave it in 2-3 times as long at 375 degrees. You’ll know it’s done when you can see the filling bubbling through the vent holes.

Now What?
Now the question here on the home front is: What on earth are two 50ish couples and a geriatric diabetic going to do with a gallon-of-berries pie?