2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


As you head to your New Years Eve parties, are you taking nibbles along? I have found the best thing to transport my goodies.

My two-tiered dessert carrier.

My two-tiered dessert carrier.

It looks like an ordinary pie carrier, but when you open it up you find it can carry either:

2 Dozen Deviled Eggs, or

2 Dozen Cookies, or

A Dozen Muffins, or

A Dozen Cupcakes, or

A Meringue Pie, or

A Bundt Cake, or

A Single Layer Cake, or

2 Pies, or

A pie with an ice pack underneath!

A pie with an ice pack underneath.

A pie with an ice pack underneath.

The lid collapses for storage. I love multifunction things!



Last month I told of putting Velcro dots on a throw rug to make it stay in place on a carpet. I had to change that to the “Sew-On Velcro Tape”. I used it on my brown throw rug by the front door and after a month, and three dinner parties of 18 people, the rug is staying firmly in place. I do recommend using a #16 or “Jeans” needle on your sewing machine to sew the tape on to the rug.

My brown throw rug with "Sew -On Velcro Tape".

My brown throw rug with “Sew On Velcro Tape”.


I always refill all of my medications during the last half of December. I want to have everything on hand before I have to meet another deductible.  Another reason I do it is because I want to avoid being out during January as it is typically one of the coldest months of the year. I would rather hunker down with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate!

You may want to pick up some “Forever” Christmas stamps and that way you can send next years cards at this years postage prices.


Prescription Eye Drops


This year my theme for Christmas is music. I decorated my tree with white and black ribbons. I happened to have both ribbons on hand. I wrapped the black ribbon over the white ribbon because the white seems to stick out and black recedes. I just taped them together to make a garland.

I got my family to help me make the decorations after dinner on Thanksgiving. I had an old, paperback book about Christmas that had the music to carols in the back. I ripped them out of the book and my family helped me roll them up, tie them with black ribbon and attach hooks to make them Christmas ornaments.

The tree trunk and scrolled music ornaments my family helped me make.

The tree trunk and scrolled music ornaments my family helped me make.

I used all of my music themed ornaments and the gold ornaments on the tree. I even took down the large French horn that I had hanging on the wall downstairs and hung it on the side of the tree facing the street.

I used a black and white “throw” with piano keys on the edges as a tree skirt. I topped the tree with a homemade angel that was made for me years ago by my friend, Rosemary.

My 2012 Christmas Tree

My 2012 Christmas Tree

I have always had an artificial tree because of my allergies and asthma.  I want it to look like a real tree and I thought I would share some of the tricks I have used over the years.

  1. Since branches grow up toward the light, not horizontally, I bend each branch toward the light. (As my room is small, I bend all of them up to keep the tree from taking much floor space.)
  2. I take a long fake evergreen garland and loosely wrap it around inside the tree to camouflage the metal prongs that hook the branches into the trunk.
  3. (New for 2012) I took the center of a roll of wrapping paper, (not the tube, but the rolled butchers-type paper), and taped it to a table. After Thanksgiving dinner, I had the artistic guests draw knot holes on the paper and we colored it a variety of colors to resemble a tree trunk.  I cut it to fit between the tree stand and the bottom row of branches and wrapped it around the tree trunk. I cut the rest to fit the spaces between rows of branches and pulled it tighter as I went up the tree trunk to make it appear to get smaller in circumference.
  4. One year, I left one of the larger branches off of the tree to make a hole. I put a large Christmas ornament in the hole.  Most real Christmas trees do not have perfect branches all the way around it.
  5. When I put the tree together, I noticed the top seemed to lean a bit to the side. As real trees do not grow straight up, I left it alone.

Last year I wrapped the trunk of the tree with foil to reflect the lights. This year, since I added a fake tree trunk, I hung shiny, gold globes next to the trunk to reflect the lights.

I am already considering my theme for next year. I want to buy the ornaments when they are on clearance after Christmas.



Christmas is in five days and you may want to panic and whip out the credit card. Don’t! I have a gift you can make during a movie, (leave a light on)…


You have heard of tea cozies that you put around a teapot. This is the same idea. You can crochet, knit or quilt one. It works as a gift for both men and women to keep their hot drinks hot.  I chose to knit mine.

I put 12 stitches on my needle and knitted until it would wrap around my largest coffee cup.  After I cast it off of the needle, I sewed a small strip of Velcro, (the hook side), on one end. You wrap it around the cup, going through the handle and Velcro it at the back. It is like a warm sweater for your coffee cup.

Warning: I made these for birthday gifts for two of my male friends. They had barely gotten them out of the bag before their wives stole them. I promised to make them more for Christmas. It is a good idea to give these in pairs!

Coffee Cup Cozie

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“…if you are familiar with the term, you know this is a gathering storm made up of tax breaks expiring, automatic spending cuts beginning, the debt ceiling rising and millions of more taxpayers getting hit with something called the Alternative Minimum Tax.” Mary Hunt, Debt Proof Living.

I blogged about the tax cut bill two years ago. I am posting those blogs below. We need to be proactive. I recommend three things:

  1. Do not spend more on Christmas gifts than the amount of cash you have on hand.
  2. Keep any money you receive for Christmas until after you get your 2013 paycheck.
  3. Use the tax guidelines on the 7-6-2010 blog to set a new budget.

Congress may extend the cuts for two more years, like they did in 2012, but I wouldn’t count on it.


The Tax Cut was extended for two more years. I am glad that taxes will not increase, but I am also glad that I had several months believing that it would. It forced me to examine my spending on a deeper level than I had before.

It also made me look at my sources of income. What would I do if this source were suddenly to stop?

It relieves a lot of stress if you have a plan B. My kids ask me what I would do and I told them the steps I would take. I let them know we would not be homeless or run out of food. They have watched as our taxable income has decreased every year since 2007.

They weren’t as thrilled as we were when we paid off our credit card and auto loan in 2009. But the next time we had to tighten our belt it was easier because we did not have those payments.

I look forward to 2011. I plan on growing more of my own food. We are taking steps to make our home even more energy-efficient. (I plan on taking the drawers out of the kitchen cupboards and caulking the space between the molding and the floor behind them.)

There is always room for improvement!



Yesterday, I read an article at “Americans for Tax Reform”, http://www.atr.org, reporting the rates taxes will rise.

-The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%

-The 25% bracket rises to 28%

-The 28% bracket rises to 31%

-The 33% bracket rises to 36%

-The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The ‘marriage penalty’ (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.” Americans for Tax Reform

I still choose to be proactive. I am saving as much money each payday as I can. I am only charging what I can pay off in that month.

What are you doing to prepare?

Is your garden doing well? Are you canning, freezing and drying your produce?

Are you paying down debt?

Are you making decisions that will lower your bills?

Use cash for Christmas gifts.



I was taking pictures of items to take to Good Will when I ran across this Zebra print, purse-shaped lamp, with the tags still on it that my daughter had put in the box. I debated about keeping it for my bathroom, because the lamp in there got broken.  But God spoke to my heart and said, “That is a Christmas gift I have earmarked for someone else. Their child is going to buy it at Good Will.” I put it in the box.

I put the Zebra print, purse-shaped lamp in the box with the other donations.

I put the Zebra print, purse-shaped lamp in the box with the other donations.

A week later I was shopping at Target and all I had in my wallet was my allowance. I found this small lamp for under that amount. I must admit, it fits much better in my bathroom than the Zebra print lamp would have.

My new bathroom lamp!

My new bathroom lamp!

Are there things you can donate to Good Will or the Salvation Army that would make a nice present? You know you will be getting new items, why not make room for them this week!

This is my bathroom.

This is my bathroom.

A great idea for a Christmas gift!

Why do we pay so much for things we can make for just a few bucks? A couple of nights ago, while Zoey was asleep and the husband was busy working, I was bored out of my mind (!) and craved for something easy & creative to do.

I decided to make some personal gold monogram mugs.This was like literally 10pm at night.Yes, sometimes I come across as a little crazy! But if you knew how easy and fast this project was, I’m actually not that crazy.

Don’t these look as good as store bought (or better)?! I made one w/ my initial, one w/ the “&” sign, and the 3rd w/ my husband’s initial. I also thought about making one for Zoey but considering that she’s only 1 yr old, that would be silly.

This project took me about 20 mins, if even that (not including…

View original post 197 more words


I learned today’s’ tip quite by accident.  Usually, I would ask one of my guests to bring a bag of ice. One Easter Sunday, there was a miscommunication and no ice! I do not have an ice maker on my refrigerator, but I have four ice-cube trays. I quickly emptied the trays in a cooler and took it downstairs.

After the final guest left, I was surprised to see I still had ice! The larger cubes did not melt as quickly as the bags of crushed ice do. Since I make my ice with filtered water, it was clear and did not change the taste of the drinks.  My dinner parties usually are for 15 – 20 people and I have never run out of ice. I do refill the trays as soon as I empty them for later after the party.

Four ice cube trays of filtered water.

Four ice-cube trays of filtered water.