Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Things: Tomie de Paola Our Lady of Guadalupe Book

This is one of my favorite books of all time and an appropriate gift for tomorrow's Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day. The message of humble Juan Diego and the miraculous Virgin of Guadalupe is inspiring even if you aren't of the Catholic faith. It's a story of quiet gratitude, simple gifts, and being true to yourself. A perfect message for holiday time or anytime.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deal of the Day: Check Out Target's Daily Deal

Sign up for email or text message alerts for's Daily Deals. When the deal is gone, it's gone but each deal also comes with free shipping! Just when you thought you could not love Target any more than you already do ... Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Deal of the Day: Land's End Women's Cashmere Sweater

The "St. Nick's Pick" daily deal on Lands' End is a women's v-neck, crew neck or scoop neck sweater for only $49.50. You save $40. This deal is valid today only.
Click here to check it out!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Barefoot Contessa's Roast Pork Loin with Fennel

There is nothing fancy in this dish, but there is tons of flavor. Pair with two simple sides and a no fuss dessert and you've got holiday dinner.

2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied
3 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
8 carrots, peeled, and thickly sliced diagonally
10 small potatoes (red or white-skinned), cut in quarters
2 yellow onions, thickly sliced
4 tablespoons good olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

With a mortar and pestle, or in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, grind together the garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and thyme leaves. Add the mustard. Spread the mixture over the loin of pork and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the fennel bulbs in thick wedges, cutting through the core. Toss the fennel, carrots, potatoes, and onions in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes. Add the pork loin to the pan and continue to cook for another 30 to 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork reads exactly 138 degrees. Remove the meat from the pan and return the vegetables to the oven to keep cooking. Cover the meat with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the strings from the meat and slice it thickly. Arrange the meat and vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Chatter: KISS -- Simple and Fun Gift Ideas

Everyone knows the mantra -- "K.I.S.S.", right? If keeping it simple were only that simple, right? Here are a few K.I.S.S. gems from family and friends:

* The Trader Joe's Gift "Basket" -- Buy a Trader Joe's resuable bag, fill it with yummy Trader Joe's goodies (Soft Bite Biscotti? Sparkling Pomegrante Cider? Some Dark Chocolate bars? Tea? Coffee? Dried Cherries? The fragrant Orange Blossom body wash?). You've got a great gift and I'll bet you spend less than $20. Add a thoughtful card. Carry. Place into the arms of a deserving recipient.

* Got asked to bring holiday dessert to a party? Betty Crocker Brownie Mix -- $.89. Peppermint Stick Ice Cream -- $2.99. Whipping Cream -- $1.99. Chocolate syrup -- $2.99. Squeals of delight -- Priceless.

* Do an ornament exchange. If you're planning a cocktail hour with friends or neighbors, ban gifts and implement an ornament swap. Everyone family wraps one ornament and includes a note explaining why the ornament was chosen and a holiday wish. Set up a table by the front door. As people leave the gathering, they take an ornament to open together at home and to enjoy on their tree.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know -- How do you K.I.S.S. during the season of spending?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Favorite Things: Starting A Holiday Gift "Tradition"

Do you ever feel like deciding what to get your loved ones is even harder than the actual purchasing of the gift itself? Make it easy on yourself and start a yearly gift "tradition". We've started a few and it has made a huge difference. For example, we buy holiday books each year for our nieces and godchildren. We mail the books right after Thanksgiving so the kids can enjoy them throughout the month of December. It is fun to help build their holiday book collection by adding to their library each year. Another fun gift tradition is sending a wreath or centerpiece each year. LL Bean has some very pretty wreaths and evergreen garlands at reasonable prices. Each year, the recpient will look forward to having a fresh decoration to add to their holiday display. Perhaps my favorite gift tradition is holiday food delivery. When we were little, our aunt and uncle sent us a huge metal tin of popcorn from The Popcorn Factory each year. We eagerly anticipated its arrival! (We even washed the tubs out after Christmas ended or the popcorn disappeared and used them as storage for our growing ornament collections.) Having a gift tradition makes creating your holiday list so much easier and buying a "family" gift can help you save some cash too. It's a win-win -- great gifts for great people with a hassle free approach.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Do you have holiday gift "traditions"? Please share!


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