Thursday, October 27, 2011

Taking a blogging break

We got some big news this week. My husband is being promoted/transferred for work. We have just over a month to move to Albuquerque New Mexico! In light of this, I am going to take a blogging sabbatical. If I come up with some thrifty moving tips, maybe I will share. However, my number one tip would be to get your employer to move you (as we are) so you don't have to deal with the cost/hassle of moving yourself!

Have a great month or two.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thrifty Recipe: Cheesy cornbread

Last week, I hosted about twelve people at my house for a chili dinner. I wanted to make cornbread to go with the chili, but wanted to make it a step-up from my usual square pan of Jiffy cornbread bars. After looking around online, I found several different ways to doctor up Jiffy cornbread. Here's the recipe I went with. It turned out great, nice and moist with bits of corn in it. My toddler daughter loved it. The recipe is super thrifty too- each package of cornbread is about 70 cents at Target, and the rest of the ingredients probably add up to a couple dollars. It filled a 9x13 pan. Several other recipes included chopped jalapenos or canned diced green chiles, I think I will try that next time.

Cheesy Cornbread

2 (8oz) boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (add more if you like your bread super cheesy)
1 small can (8oz) creamed corn

1. Combine cornbread mix with the eggs and milk. (these are the same amounts as are listed on the box directions)
2. Stir in cheese and corn
3. Pour into 9x13 pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes (I ended up going for 30 minutes until it was a nice golden brown)

Friday, October 14, 2011

You must see this play: The Burial at Thebes

Last week, I was lucky enough to receive two free "blogger" tickets to the play The Burial at Thebes at the Guthrie Theater. As I wrote about here, I joined a blogger group run by the Guthrie and this was the second set of tickets they have given me.

Before we went to the show, I was able to take some time to explore the Guthrie website and read the background information on the play itself and on the details of how the Guthrie was performing it. The play is based on the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone by Sophocles. It tells the story of Antigone, one of the daughters of Oedipus, and how she went against the government (in this case, Creon, the father of her fiance) to give her brother Polyneices an honorable burial. She is punished for her transgression, setting off a series of devestating consequences for Creon. The playwright, Seamus Heaney, (who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature) wrote the play in the 1990's, and the modern language makes it very easy to follow.

Stephen Yoakam (Creon) and Ernest Bentley (Haemon) with Joseph Turner (Soldier) and T. Mychael Rambo (Chorus) in the Guthrie Theater's production of THE BURIAL AT THEBES, by Seamus Heaney, based upon Sophocles' Antigone. Directed by Marcela Lorca, composer J.D. Steele, set design by Monica Frawley, costume design by Elizabeth Caitlin Ward and lighting design by Christopher Akerlind. September 24 - November 6, 2011 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow

There are several factors that make this production can't miss: the first being the music that is interspersed throughout the show. Many Greek tragedies have a "chorus," and this show is no different. What is different is the quality of the music, an original score by composer J.D. Steele, and of the performers. The music and the chorus members are woven into the stories and add to the mood of each scene. Their five-part harmonies and movement add much to the dialogue. The second factor is the strong performance of the acting company, especially Stephen Yoakam as Creon. The pivitol scene near the end of the play, pictured above, was one of the most heart-wrenching moments in theatre that I have seen. I was literally holding back sobs as he unleashed a gluttural scream at the climax of the play. Fittingly, I felt catharsis as the lights went up.

How can you tell that this thrifty blogger enjoyed the play? I'm going to see it again, and will pay for my ticket this time!

** Disclaimer- I was given two free tickets to the show by the Guthrie Theater's communications department. I was welcome to blog about my experience but did not have to.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's coming....

The holiday season is upon us. Halloween leads into Thanksgiving which leads to Christmas and then New Year's. Is your budget ready for it? Now is the time to start planning the next few months from a budgetary perspective. Some things to think about:
Halloween candy- What are you going to give to the trick-or-treaters? Can you start picking up some candy every week depending on what's on sale and what coupons are out there?

Halloween costumes- What are you and your kids going to be? Do you already have some costumes stored away that can be re-used or reconfigured to make something else? See my thrifty Halloween ideas post from last year for some low-cost costume ideas as well as other tips.

Holiday food- Are there certain packaged foods that you always buy during the holidays or are there certain ingredients you always need for baking or other holiday entertaining? Start buying them now, as you see them on sale or have a coupon. Of course, make sure they won't expire before you need them!

Holiday cleaning and organizing- This might not be a specifically thrifty tip, but can help save you some stress. Take stock of the current status of your house. Are there any cleaning, repair, or organizing projects you want to get done before you start hosting people over the holidays? Make a list and start now.

Gifts- If you will need to purchase gifts for friends and family, begin developing your list and budget. Start purchasing now to spread the cost over a couple months and so that you don't feel stressed and rushed come December. If you see some great hostess gifts, buy them and keep until you need them. Just make sure to keep track of what you've bought so you don't forget you have it.

Travel- Airfare is usually pretty high during the holidays, but you can find some deals by traveling on off days, on the holiday itself, or moving your trip to before or after the holiday. Spend some time experimenting on travel sites such as Orbitz and Kayak to see what you can find. And make sure you get your tickets far enough ahead of time to avoid paying more.

And if you bought holiday decorations on sale after last year's holidays, don't forget to get them out!

Anything else you've already done to prepare for the holidays?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Free fun, go outside!

Here in the Midwest, we have been blessed with some amazing weather this week. Sunny with temperatures in the 70's and 80's in early October? Almost unheard of! I hope those of you who live around here have been enjoying it. That said, wherever you live, from NYC to rural Georgia, free family fun is always right outside. Head to your backyard or local park. Run around in the grass, jump in fallen leaves, and eat a picnic lunch or dinner. Spending time together as a family outside is great for many reasons including improving fitness, building better relationships, and tiring everyone out before bedtime.

Twin Cities residents, if you're looking for a fun, free Autumn activity during the week, try Minnetonka Orchards. Admission is free on weekdays ($5 per person on weekends), and they have lots for kids to do, including a petting zoo, haystack climb, tractor rides, and several other activities.