10 tips for surviving the Christmas Holiday

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The whole month of December is just magic for everyone. As a kid, everyone remembers the one house that really went all out for Christmas and make the memories that last a lifetime. Christmas is a time for family and friends, it’s a time for reflection and celebration. And without doubt, it’s a time to immerse yourself in gifts, wonderful food and fabulous company. Christmas requires lots of planning and coordinating. And really, all that needs to happen before December, ideally November (any homemade gifts of course have to start way before that). No worry, ProductSaver will help you go through all these things with handy tips.

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Top 10 tips for surviving the Christmas holiday:

  1. Check what you have at home, do not repeat buying the same things that you already have. Especially for the Christmas dinner!
  2. Write a list. By writing down all the things needed to be done before Christmas, Christmas Eve and especially Christmas Day.
  3. Shop smart! Survey products & prices online before you make any purchase. Always keep in mind. find the right products with right prices.
  4. Buy your Christmas costumes, gifts or decorations online in order to save your valuable time and petrol. Nowadays, the internet is making your life easier by providing wide range of sources that you need. Turn on your desktop/ laptop and surf the internet, then buy what you want and get it delivered to your door before Christmas.
  5. Try an avoid the messy kitchen from last minute preparation. So pre-prepare Christmas meal before Christmas eve. For example, marinate the chicken or glaze the ham before Christmas eve and cook it later on Christmas.
  6. There’s no reason why everyone in the house shouldn’t help out. Decide in advance whose job it is to wrap presents or set the table. If everyone knows what their task is, there will be fewer arguments.
  7. Create a CD or iPod playlist with your favorite Christmas songs. Have it ready as background music for all the other fun stuff you’re going to do on Christmas.
  8. Get your kids to help you plan the family vacation. This takes the stress off parents, and ensures that the family can all enjoy themselves during the time away.
  9. Save your energy, learn how to deal with hassles. Concentrate on the things you can change rather than worrying about the things you can’t.
  10. Keep a pen and paper handy to record gifts for thank-you notes later!

The chances are that you will know at least one other person who is going to find Christmas stressful. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved! Who knows what tips others will having for surviving the holidays.

DIY Candle Tutorial

Making personalized candles using the tissue paper method is a very popular method and easy to do. Below are the guidelines to personalize your candle for home decoration or gift etc. Be creative!

Transferring Ink to Candles

Ingredients:

  • Tissue paper
  • printer paper
  • wax paper
  • markers
  • tape
  • heat gun or hairdryer (hairdryer is recommended, so you do not have to buy a heat gun)

First, you tape a piece of tissue paper, about the size of the candle, to a piece of copy paper.  Markers will bleed through the tissue paper pretty easily so you will need something to protect your table, and it was easier for the you/kids to draw on the tissue paper when taped to the “paper”.

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Then cut out a piece of wax paper bigger than your candle.  You need it to go all the way around and give you some extra to hold on to for the next step.  Smooth it out nicely, and pull it tight over the tissue paper.

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The following step is use your heat gun or hair dryer, turn it on and use a back and forth motion over the design, about 30 to 40 seconds.  Be careful when you are doing this step because it will get pretty hot on your fingers, you just keep moving it and actually turned the hair dryer off for a second or two to cool down then back again.

After that time, gently pull away the wax paper and your design should be transferred to the candle, the tissue paper pretty much disappears.

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Tadaa, a simple DIY craft is done.

Transfer a photo onto the candle

Now you can decorate the candle further if you wish. Cut out tissue paper to fit on a sheet of printer paper, smoothed it out and put a little tape on all sides to hold it in place. Then you feed it into the printer.

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Follow the rest of the directions for the transfer.

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See on the left side how the wax paper is a little wrinkled so pull it tighter before you started the hair dryer.

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And you are done!

Retrieved from http://familycorner.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/handmade-christmas.html

Halloween Party Ideas

Halloween parties make a great alternative to trick-or treating. For an incredible, well-put together Halloween party, it’s best to make arrangements well in advance. Here’s some party planning tips for a terrifyingly good time.

Send out Invitations

Get your party invitations out 2-3 weeks before the party. To avoid any confusion, clearly state instructions about themes, costumes, and when the party ends.

Have Adult Supervision

For children, adult supervision is necessary for safety reasons as well as preventing any property damage. Adults can help with the party and enforce rules, while the guests have fun.

Have a Camera Ready

Take pictures and arrange them in a photo album to show your guests after the party. Another idea is to have someone take Polaroid pictures of each guest as they arrive. Give everyone their picture as they leave your party in remembrance of the occasion.

Have a Backup Plan

If you’re planning your party outdoors, be prepared for inclement weather. Have other arrangements ready at a moments notice.

Decoration

Spookify the place, hang shredded black garbage bags in entrance ways and old torn sheets in windows to make your party room look decrepit and abandoned. Shredded black garbage bags make great tablecloths too — just roll everything up in the bags after the party and toss in the garbage. In addition, cover the party food table with a black or orange tablecloth and a selection of scary items such as plastic bugs, rats, and skulls.

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Supply Food and Candy

And plenty of it. What’s a party without goodies? Try dressing up your food to look like gross things such as eyeballs, body parts, etc. Make the punch look like blood.

Hand out Party Favors

Don’t let the kids leave empty handed. Hand out gifts to game contest winners and make up some party favor bags with Halloween candy.

Games

it is a great way to break the ice, especially when all of your guests don’t know each other! Ideas include costume contest, pumpkin decorating contest, play musical Caps (similar to musical chairs, but guest pass around hats) and more.

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Retrieved from http://www.halloween-website.com/party.htm

How to cut and dice: tips and techniques for fruit and vege preparation

How many times had you cut your finger accidently when you are preparing your meal? We hope you are able to use your knife carefully in the kitchen. Therefore, tips & techniques in this entry will help you to avoid those accidents. From how to peel a head of garlic in 10 seconds to how to cut a grapefruit, from the best way to dice an onion to the super easy way to peel ginger, these tips and techniques will change the way you work with produce. Let the learning begin!

Bonus tip: Ceramic blades does not oxidise food and it will not rust. No more brown lettuce!

1) How to dice an Avocado

  • Halve the avocado as you normally would, by cutting around the perimeter, lengthwise.
  • With the cut side UP (this is less stable but more effective at getting through the skin without mashing the avocado), cut into slices.
  • Peel the strip of skin off of each slice.
  • Cut each slice into chunks.

2) How to peel Ginger

  • Begin by cutting off the amount of ginger you need and then trimming it of any small nubs so that you have a relatively uniform piece to work with.
  • Then, hold the ginger in one hand and use the tip of your spoon to scrape off the peel.
  • You’ll find it comes off very easily and that you get a smoother, more uniform end result than when you use a knife or vegetable peeler.

You can also store ginger in the fridge and freezer after it’s peeled, so you don’t have to waste a bit of this rejuvenating root.

3) How to cut a Grapefruit in segments

  • Cut the grapefruit in half, top to bottom (not around the center).
  • Lay one half flat on the cutting board and whittle away the skin, leaving as much fruit as you can behind.
  • Take off all of the thick peel and slice off the top cap of peel. If there are thick ropes of pith still left on the grapefruit, peel these away.
  • Slice carefully into one segment of the grapefruit, as close to a membrane as possible, and make a slit to loosen the segment of fruit.
  • Make a slit on the other side, as close to the membrane as possible, and loosen the fruit completely.
  • Lift out the segment of fruit.

A good knife skills will help you remove a lot of peel without losing too much fruit.

4) How to cut Cauliflower

  • Start by cutting the head of cauliflower in half and then into quarters through the core.
  • See how there’s a central stem in the middle? All the florets are attached to this core by their own little stems. Separating them is a simple matter of running your knife between the florets and the stem to cut it out.
  • Once you’ve removed the stem, the cauliflower will naturally fall apart into large florets.
  • You can break these large florets down into smaller, bite-sized florets with your knife. Use the tip of your knife like a wedge to cut away the smaller florets growing off the sides. The big ones can just be cut into quarters. You can also use your fingers to snap apart the florets.
  • And that’s all there is to it! A cauliflower of this size breaks down into 3-4 cups worth of florets, which is plenty for most side dishes serving 4 people.

The stems are edible, though very fibrous. If you want to cook them, start steaming or roasting them a little ahead of time to give them a jumpstart on cooking before you add the florets.

Retrieved from http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-peel-cut-core-and-seed–174347

How well do you like the tips and tutorials provided by ProductSaver? We’d like to hear from you! If you have any suggestions for more tips, feel free to contact or leave us a comment.

Top 5 Things To Do With Your Kids

We are getting busier and busier – they don’t call it ‘the rat race’ for nothing. It can be hard to have a work/life balance, and many families can make it work and still find time to spend time with the ones closest to you. How ever many minutes you can spare, be assured that it’s worth it! Focus on turning those minutes into memorable moments, instead of worrying about how many minutes you can spend with your children each day. Parents often compensate for having such a small quantity of time by scheduling “quality time.” Here are some ideas to get you going.

1) Play like your favourite sports star and contest the kids in a little friendly competition. Basketball, soccer or rugby with your kids is good for the heart in more ways than one!

2) Who remembers the hours on the trampoline, perfecting your flips or the frowned-upon double-bouncing? Trampolines provide you and your children with endless fun, all while offering exercise and valuable outdoor time with very little maintenance.

3) Making bread with loved ones is memorable and delicious! Bake from scratch or with an easy all-in-one breadmaker. Spend time while teaching those life skills that will serve them well when they’re older.

4) It’s a hot day but the beach is not convenient? Splash around without the sand and get a classic plastic or inflatable pool for your backyard. Problem solved.

Blue Swim Centre Pool £14.98 @ John Lewis

5) Do you love to entertain and have a BBQ with family? Make the most of your outdoor area with a BBQ and sit outside right until late evening, making the most of the balmy weather.

So slow down and make some time to spend with your kids. Create some fun memories that you won’t forget!

Handy Microwave Recipes

Most people spend about one third of their household budget on convenience foods such as takeaway and supermarket ready-to-eat meals due busy lives and less time on their hands. Sometimes you don’t have the energy to cook every night. There are also more people living solo, who often don’t want to cook just for themselves. However, convenience foods are expensive and some are high in fat and salt. If you lack the time or motivation to cook, the following recipes may be helpful because these are very easy recipes that utilize your handy-dandy microwave.

Breakfast- Flax “noatmeal”

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Breakfast. Flax “noatmeal” topped with some banana slices and coconut milk. “Noatmeal” recipe:

  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg yolk or egg white (if you make 2 servings, use a whole egg)
  • 2 tbsp dried fruit (opt)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 dropper vanilla stevia OR 1/4 tsp vanilla & sweetener

Microwave everything for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until thick and resembles oatmeal. Top with favorite toppings and nosh!

Retrieved from http://pinterest.com/pin/85990674105326822/

Lunch- Summer Squash Casserole

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Amy Burke

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup soft, fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation

  1. Combine squash and green onions in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, folding back a small edge to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes or until squash is tender. (Do not drain.)
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in squash mixture and cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap, folding back a small edge to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 10 minutes or until casserole is set; remove from microwave, and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter; microwave 2 minutes. Sprinkle over casserole.

Retrieved from: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/summer-squash-casserole-10000001981683/

Dinner- Shrimp Etouffee

Recipe makes 6 servings

  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) cancondensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pound cleaned shrimp
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. In a 2 quart microwave safe dish, combine margarine, onion, green onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery. Heat on High settings for 8 to 9 minutes.
  2. Stir in parsley, tomato paste, soup, shrimp, salt, hot pepper sauce and cayenne. Heat on High setting for 5 minutes. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Serve over white rice.

Retrieved from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/shrimp-etouffee-ii/

Dessert- Salted Caramel Chocolate Mug Cake

Chocolate Caramel Mug Cake 013 533x800 2 Minute Chocolate & Salted Caramel Mug Cake

Ingredients: {makes 1 mug cake}

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 salted caramels

What to do:

  1. Into a small bowl add: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Mix to combine.
  2. Pour mixture into a regular sized coffee mug. Drop caramels into center of mixture one at a time.
  3. Microwave on high for one minute and 30 seconds. If needed {if cake batter is still gooey}, microwave on high for up to an additional 30 seconds.

P/S: I personally tried this recipe, it is delicious and easy. It perfectly fixed my craving.

Retrieved from http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/11/12/2-minute-chocolate-salted-caramel-mug-cake/

Snack- Popcorn

Movie Night! Save your money and make your own popcorn instead of buying from supermarket.

Microwave Popcorn Trick #popcorn

Add 1/3 cup popcorn kernels to a brown paper bag, fold the bag over twice then heat in a microwave — folded side down — for 2 minutes.

THAT’S IT! Fresh popped popcorn without any fuss, ready for you to flavor as desired or eat completely bare.

Retrieved from http://www.supermommoments.com/2012/07/brown-paper-bag-popcorn/

Do not under estimate your microwave’s ability, it can make scrumptious meals, snacks or desserts you didn’t think was possible!

Want to know more?

Go to our Pinterest site for more recipes.

Money-Saving Tips For Around The Home


Have you already squeezed every last penny out of your budget? Check out these great tips we’ve found from all over.

  1. Utilize your microwave at home instead of your range because it consumes half the power. You could save up $40 or more per year on electric or gas. Plus, get your dinner ready in a fraction of the time.  
  2. Compare prices for everything from light fixtures to fridges. A quick web search using phrases such as “buy vacuum online” or “lowest price microwave” can easily show you a range of prices.
  3. When you are dealing a remodel project for temporary which leaves you without a cooking area, set up a makeshift kitchen. All you need is a prep surface, micro-wave, coffeemaker, and fridge. You will be able to save $20 per day on take-out and Starbucks coffee.
  4. Small amounts of electricity are still being used even if the appliances are off, but plugged in. Unplug items such as toaster, shaver, cell phone charger, TV when not in use.
  5. Warm up with big warm blankets on ourselves. Instead of turning on the electric blanket or room heater on cold winter nights, use a few layers of blankets to ensure you stay warm and cozy.
  6. A way to avoid the cafes and don’t burn your pockets by using your talents and do something enjoyable for your family that also saves money such as cooking, baking, sewing and other fun crafts.
  7. To save on electricity by reducing ironing time. When ironing lay a layer of aluminium foil shiny side up under your ironing board cover to reflect heat back up onto the item.
  8. Use toothpaste as a cleanser, it is a useful domestic cleanser. It will remove brown sticky stains from irons, bench tops etc. Hence, buying cleanser from supermarket is not necessary.
  9. To remove stubborn burns and stains on pots, boil the pots with water and once the water is boiling hot, turn off the stove and use a wooden spatula to scrape the stains off. This will save your money from buying cleanser.
  10. Maintain the life of clothes and energy by not using the clothes dryer unless you absolutely have to. There really isn’t a need to use a dryer. Hang your clothes on a drying rack, place near heater or air vent.

Bonus tip: It is always good to plan your shopping before your take any action to make purchase especially what are all the things you “need” to buy and the“budget”. If you are going to shop without a plan definitely you will think to buy whatever you like which is also know as impulse buying. That’s really a bad habit which can quickly kill your financial situation.