Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Favorite Things: Summer Reading

I can't help it. One of my favorite tasks of the whole year is stacking up my summer reading list. I should read more year round but my schedule just suits summer reading best. And what's not to love about reading as a summer activity -- so cheap and cheerful!

Here's what's on my bookshelf this summer:

1. Breathing Lessons
Got it for free while garage sale hopping with my friend Geri

2. Cutting for Stone
Also free courtesy of Geri!

3. Tattoos on the Heart
My mom gave this to me for Christmas and I'm starting it this week!

4. Ulysses
I've got a library copy now but it may take me all summer to finish so I might have to buy my own book!

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What should be my number 5 book this summer? And what's on your reading list?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Favorite Things: Ripped from The Preppy Handbook

You can take the girl far from her Southern roots, but you can't take the Southern roots far from the girl. Check out these straight from The Preppy Handbook treats for Spring. Also, a monogrammed polo is a must. Perhaps lime green or hot pink?

1. Headbands for hot days

2. A ribbon belt

3. Embellished flip flops

4. Drinks on the patio, anyone?

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: How do you stay preppy for less?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Five Under $50: Live a Little

Sometimes a little retail therapy goes a long way. $50 won't get you a pair of Jimmy Choo's but it will put a smile on your face.

1. Mad for plaid? Get these shoes and a coordinating t-shirt.

2. A simple gold bangle with a subtle twist

3. Dress up your iPhone with a cute case.

4. Light up your world with a Glassy Baby.

5. Get another Glassy Baby since if you get only one, it will be lonely.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What are your favorite items under $50?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Five Under $20: My Favorite Gifts to Give

1. What's not to love about these soft, personalized tees?

2. Jot down your thoughts in one of these chic journals.

3. A little sugar for your sugar.

4. Or some eye candy?

5. Or just plain old candy?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Feta Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burger Sliders

I am obsessed with sliders. What is more perfect than a tiny burger on a tiny bun? Well, maybe a tiny milkshake alongside and a tiny order of onion rings, too?

I saw this recipe on the Picky Palate, a great website filled with recipes for dressed up comfort food.

Feta Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burger Sliders

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, jarred in olive oil

1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped

Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley

Sun-Dried Tomato Mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, drained

Baby hamburger buns or dinner rolls, split and warmed

2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1. Heat oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Place turkey, feta, sun dried tomato, spinach and seasonings into a mixing bowl. Mix until just combined. Form 1/4 Cup little patty’s and place onto a cookie sheet. Once all are formed, place batches in hot skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.

2. Place mayonnaise and tomatoes into a bowl; mix to combine. Spread over insides of warm rolls. Layer bottom roll with spinach and the burger. Close with top roll and eat

Makes about 12 little sliders

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Five Under $10: Gifts for Everyday Use

5 everyday gifts under $10. Add cute wrapping and a heartfelt card. Done.

1. Dr. Seuss My About Me Book
Great for ages 6 - 10. Wrap it up with a set of colorful pens on top.

2. Mini wallet from SewGracious
Perfect iTouch cover or for business cards. Or stuff with a gift card if you want to add a little surprise.

3. Candle in a tin
Believe it or not, Target has some great candles for $9.99. Many of them come in cute boxes or tins. Place in a brown craft paper bag with some colorful ribbon.

4. A cute umbrella
Why do all umbrellas have to be black?

5. A magazine for your man
Field and Stream for $9.97. Or Golf for $8. Other titles available, too.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What is your go to gift under $10?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Favorite Things: Silverlicious

If you don't like the books from this series, I will forgive you. But even if you can't stand one more installment of the Pinkalicious series, you've got to admit that the three, four, or five year old girl in your life lives and breathes for it. Make her happy. And do it for under $10! I just ordered one for my little pinkaholic; we'll post a review after we've read it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Favorite Things: Typewriter Key Jewelry

If you've been reading Cheap and Cheerful for awhile now, you know I love anything with initials or monograms. Hey, blame my Southern roots, or the fact that I'm a twin, or blame anything you want. It's not an addiction that is likely to end any time soon.

I got a necklace like this for Christmas. Needless to say, I wear it almost every day.

Maybe your Valentine can get one for you?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Jamie Oliver's Farfalle Carbonara

One word: Yum. Another word: tasty. And Jamie Oliver is fun to watch.

• 1l b farfalle
• 1 egg, preferably free-range or organic
• 3½ fl oz double cream
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 12 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, roughly sliced
• 3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
• 2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

This is a twist on the classic Carbonara, using spring peas and smoky bacon. A great combination and a great one for the kids. My girls just love it.

First of all, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the farfalle, and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your pancetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.

When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stir in most of the mint, finely sliced - if the pan isn't big enough, mix it all together in a large warmed bowl.

Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What's important here is that you add it while the pasta is still hot. This way, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but not so that they resemble scrambled eggs, as I've seen in some dodgy old restaurants on the motorway! The pasta will actually cook the egg enough to give you a silky smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the Parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves, and serve as soon as possible.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Buy This, Not That: Flower Tees for Girls

This one is a no brainer: You can get this t-shirt for $8 (plus 15% coupon) or this t-shirt for $19.50. With the $11.50 (or more) you've saved, you could get her these or these to go with her new shirt.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Are you already getting stocked for Spring? What other deals have you seen?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Buy This, Not That: Pillowcase Dresses

Pillowcase dresses are too cute for words. And so easy to make if you sew. But since you all know the sewing gene skipped a generation in my family, I look for a source to buy a well made dress at a reasonable price. (Or beg my mom to make one for my little one.) Either way, it pays to be a savvy shopper when stocking up on spring and summer frocks.

Here's a great example of buy this, not that. With the money you save, you could get a pair of Saltwater sandals or a sweater to match the dress. You're welcome. (And tell my red ladybug I sent you. I've ordered two dresses from her shop and can vouch for the great quality.)

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What's on your Spring shopping list?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cheap and Cheerful Challenge: Mini Money Makeover

Since February is the shortest month of the year, it is the logical choice for a mini money makeover challenge.

Choose one:

1. Do not charge anything on any credit card for the entire month.

2. Eat out/get take out only twice this month.

3. Limit your Starbucks/Peet's/Coffee Bean habit to once per week.

4. Buy no new clothing items this month.

Or, choose your own adventure and write #5 for this list.

Share your choice with the class, please. And stop back and report your progress.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cheap and Cheerful Cooking: Pantry Pasta from The Pioneer Woman

This recipe brings pantry cooking to a whole new level! Check out her blog. And prepare your waistline. In a good way.

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ whole Red Onion, Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can (14.5 Ounce) Diced Tomatos With Juice
⅓ cups Assorted Olives, Pitted And Roughly Chopped
⅓ cups White Wine
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Pounded To Even Thickness
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ pounds Linguine, Cooked Al Dente And Drained
1 teaspoon Olive Oil

Preparation Instructions
Heat medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil. When warm add diced red onion and stir. Cook slowly for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, then stir and cook for one minute. Pour in diced tomatoes with their juice. Add chopped olives. Stir and cook for a minute or two.
Splash in wine, then stir and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce is cooking, sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper over the chicken breasts. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a separate skillet. Cook on both sides until golden brown and done. Set aside.
Toss cooked linguine in olive oil and arrange on a small platter. Spoon 3/4 of the sauce over the pasta. Place chicken on top, then spoon remaining sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle on grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

If you know me, you know how much I love Amazon!

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Money Mantra: Good Enough is Good Enough

My mantra for 2011 -- Good enough is good enough -- also connects to being cheap and cheerful. No more running out for that extra little gift, no more "if one is good, two are better". Know your limits and stick to them. Good enough is good enough. Thoughtful gift giving is better than over-the-top scrambling at the last minute. Get something cheerful and don't worry about the price tag. The love behind the gift is what matters. After all, my daughter's favorite Christmas gift -- her $3.99 Fancy Nancy underpants. Go figure.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What is your money mantra for 2011?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Favorite Things: Tina Steinberg Designs

On Christmas Eve, I was waiting in the car with my sleeping child before heading in to Mass. I was playing around on my iPhone and noticed that the amazing Tina Steinberg had just posted a $50 gift certificate giveaway for the first ten people to leave a comment on her Facebook page. I was stunned and rushed to make a comment since I adore her charms and necklaces. I was the second person to comment (yippee!) and I am eagerly awaiting two charms. A little Christmas gift for me and I chose a charm to give to my mom. You might find something amazing here too -- Happy Shopping!

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Can you guess which charms I picked?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

December and January are expensive months. After the flurry of spending, what are you planning for your financial well being in 2011?

I've got a few ideas on my mind.

1. Save for more long term fun! For example, set aside more money for summer camps, weekend trips, and surprise getaways.

2. Invest in our infrastructure. Make plans for those needed window coverings, think ahead to replacing furniture, and rearrange existing furniture and household items to make the house feel new and fresh.

3. Keep focused on quality. One great pair of jeans is almost always better than two just average pairs. Gather together some nice items that will last for a few years. Look for super sales on super stuff.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Any advice to add to my three ideas? I'd love to hear your suggestions on how you plan to stay cheap and cheerful.


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