6 Doable Ways to Get Christmas Cash Fast

Aak! it’s already November and if your social media is full of moms bragging about their Christmas shopping escapades while you’re still wondering how you’re going to avoid Christmas debt, you might be feeling a little discouraged.  No worries!  Here are 6 ways to get Christmas money fast that will have you singing “Joy to the World” in no time.

  1. Donate Plasma to get paid and save a life at the same time. Plasma is the clear portion of the blood and is used for preemie babies, burn victims, hemophiliacs and other cool medical rescues.  Since they separate the blood and give you back your red blood cells, it is safe to donate twice a week.  Most centers pay on a reloadable visa card and pay more for the 2nd visit per week than the first to encourage you to keep coming back.  My husband and I both donated when we had an income crisis a few years ago and together earned $450 a month for a few hours a week of our time.  They had free wifi for us while we were there and I enjoyed some downtime surfing Pinterest or watching a movie. If you try it, you’ll need to call or go on their website to schedule your first appointment since it takes a bit longer for the full health screening.  Always take a blanket and a stress ball to squeeze with you (it helps the blood flow faster and those places are COLD.)   And have something to drink and a snack in the car for your drive home. (Our center wouldn’t allow us to bring food or drink into the building.)   The center will guide you on your eligibility to donate. Some medications, health conditions, recent tattoos or piercings or trips outside the country will disqualify donors.

2. Host a Mom’s Night Out. Plan some easy kid’s crafts, homemade pizza, games, and a movie for a whole pile of kids and announce you are open for business among your social circle for date night drop offs.  Charge what you like, but you might consider $15 per child for a 3 hour window.  If you want to give multi-child discounts, it’s totally up to you.

3. Clear out some Clutter. Before the season brings a whole host of new things into your home, clear out what’s not useful to you anymore. Craigslist is still a great option for selling your stuff, but there’s also OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace.   Beyond furniture, people also use them to buy household items like linens and decor, clothing, baby gear, and household items.  Some people are even selling their extreme coupon hauls there.

4. Hire out for No Judgement Emergency Cleaning. Most charge around $20 an hour and work fast. You could even have an option for the jobs most people hate:  bathroom cleaning and kitchen floor mopping.  I’ve hired people before and I became frustrated if my helper wasn’t self-directed.  If you hire out, bring your own supplies and have a checklist for yourself, so you know exactly what to do without being told.  You can present the checklist ahead of time so your client knows what to expect.

5. If you have at least a bachelor’s degree you can teach English to Chinese students online.  The pay is between $14 and $22 an hour, but requires a 6 month minimum commitment.  You can find out more here.  I have a personal friend who is doing this right now and LOVES IT. She offered to help guide you through the process.  Shoot me an email at angela@groceryshrink.com and I can forward it on to her.

6. Monetize your skills.  Do you crochet? Sew? Paint? Bake? Decorate? Organize? Extreme Coupon? Style hair or apply makeup? Write in cool fonts? What do people constantly ask you about for advice? Offer group classes and make sure to charge enough to cover supplies plus your time.

The ideal way to plan for Christmas, is to set aside a little bit every month.  We take ours out in cash on pay day and put it in an envelope.  If you set aside $50 a month, by the end of the year you’ll have around $600 for gifts in a sinking fund.   Need more?  Saving $75 a month will get you $900 and $100 a month builds up to $1200.  When budgeting for Christmas, I often think about the gifts and forget to plan for sending cards, special foods and clothing. The sinking fund should be large enough to cover all those things.  How much should your Christmas budget be anyway?  Find out more here and here.

 

Texas or Bust

I just got back last night from an extended weekend in Bryan, TX for my husband’s high school reunion and am leaving tomorrow to drive back down to Dallas for FinCon17.  We looked at the option of dropping me off in Dallas so I wouldn’t have to do so much driving, but I wouldn’t have a car that way, and would have expenses of taxi and flights, plus I’d miss all the parent teacher conferences.  I needed to see my people.

They handed me this picture at the casual luncheon and my dreamboat mostly looks the same, except for his neck width.  I was like wowza, were you power lifting?  And he said, “Nope, that was from practicing headers with the soccer ball.”

We took Darren’s parents down with us, so they could see all the old places and friends again.  The bonus was great conversation and me never touching a steering wheel for the whole weekend.  The downside was blowing right through Waco, TX without even a glance at Magnolia, because I didn’t get to touch the steering wheel all weekend.

We visited dear friends who built this house in the shape of a barn and it’s full of charm.  When I came down 20 years ago, it was the house that inspired all my dreams of what I wanted my grown up home to be.  I posted more pictures of it on my instagram account.

The lady of the home is now 84, but looks at least 20 years younger.  We chatted about her nutrition and beauty secrets which include using a facial brush and a bentonite clay/apple cider vinegar mask.  She shared a string of testimonies about how Jesus has blessed her life.  And also how her husband holds her hand everywhere they go, because she needs the stability, but it makes them look like young lovers.  Which I love.

I thought I would be able to bake, photograph and post all the recipes for the 31 days of Pumpkin before we left, but I wasn’t thinking about trimming out, caulking and painting our attic space and turning it into a guest room right before it becomes the new master bedroom that week as well.   Or on our washing machine breaking and all those trips to the laundromat.  I’m still a little disappointed with Whirlpool who should have had a part recall, and at the Sears repair service who tried to charge us $100 extra on the part over their website price and $300 in labor for a 15 minute fix.  But we fired them all and Darren fixed it himself.  If there’s a lesson in this, it’s to not let anyone pressure you into a $600 repair and that it’s ok to take time to research all your options.

I’m not sorry I tried the Write31 Days challenge.  I definitely got a lot more blogging done than I would have without it, but I’m waving the white flag until I get back from my second trip to Texas.  It was a 12 hour drive to Bryan and will be 9 hours for me to go back to Dallas for FinCon17.  So it’s kind of a big deal to my introverted self, especially since I’m driving alone and rented an airbnb with a complete stranger.

I’ll post the rest of the recipes before Thanksgiving, but I’m ready to add some other topics of blogging back in too–like our Makeover Monday posts.  Speaking of which, I only have 2 rooms left in the queue for Makeover Monday, so it’s a great time to submit your room for consideration. You can email your before pictures to angela@groceryshrink.com with a few thoughts about your hopes and dreams for the space.

P.S.  This is our selfie from Friday night football and all I have to say about that is they take their football VERY SERIOUSLY in Texas.

P.P.S. This is Irlen Syndrome awareness week and I’m loving my new, lighter colored lenses. My color lightened because my brain healed and changed some while I was wearing my first pair of Irlen Filters. You can hear about the latest research from Cornell University from this facebook live.

P.P.P.S. We are starting a Healthy Holidays fitness challenge in November that will help us reach and keep fitness goals while still indulging in some of the holiday food traditions. All members of groceryshrinkplus can join the challenge for free with special meal plans (and prizes) provided.

 

Flaky Layers Whole Wheat Pumpkin Biscuits

These slightly sweet, spiced biscuits are perfect for a grab and go breakfast, after school snack, a side dish for hearty stew or as part of a brunch menu.

Flaky Layers Pumpkin Biscuits

3 cups Unbleached Flour (or Hard White Wheat Flour or WW Pastry Flour) The pictures show the White Wheat option.  I ground the flour fresh just before baking for maximum nutrition.

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 tsp pumpkin spice

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold butter

1/2 cup Buttermilk (If using homemade Buttermilk, reduce by 1 Tbs)

1 cup Pumpkin Puree

1/4 cup Real Maple Syrup or Honey

Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. (This time don’t measure by scooping.)Combine flour, baking powder, baking sods, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and then use a a pastry blender to work it into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.

3. Combine buttermilk and maple syrup, stirring with a whisk until well blended; beat in  pumpkin. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir lightly just until dough comes together.  Do not over work. Some loose flour is ok.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Do not knead and roll dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle; lightly dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough into thirds. Roll again into a ½ inch thick rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough into thirds then gently roll to a 3/4-inch thickness.

6. Cut dough with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits, 1 inch apart, on a greased baking sheet.

7. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm. Yield 12 biscuits.

Slice your cold butter into pats before using the pastry cutter.  It will make the cutting in go much faster.

Here’s what it will look like when you’re done cutting in.  You’ll still want some fairly large pieces of butter–like pea sized.  This will help make the layers.

Your pumpkin/buttermilk mixture will look like this.  At first when you try to stir it in, you won’t think there’s enough liquid, but I promise there is.

This dough is DONE mixing.  Please don’t keep going until all the flour is mixed in.  Your biscuits will be tough.  Start rolling without kneading at all.  In the layer making process the dough will fully come together.  I use a silicone mat which makes the layers easier.

Rol it 1/2 inch thick them lightly dust the top with flour.  

Lift the mat to fold the dough into thirds.  The bottom part of my dough was a bit sticky, so I used a spatula to scrape if up, then dust the mat underneath again.  Roll it out like you did the first time.

Then fold it up again.  Keep it lightly dusted if it’s sticking.

This dough here just needs a light rolling to be ready to cut.  I over did mine.  They still tasted good but weren’t as thick as I like.

I wish I had rolled my dough a little taller.  It’s only about 1/2 inch, but it might have made them tough to start again.  Make yours taller.

The last biscuits on my pan are a little wonky, but I choose not to knead the dough for the second roll out.  I just kind of bunch it together to keep the light and flakey texture.

These are delicious with butter, but pumpkin butter is even better!

This is day 15 of 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

6 Pumpkin Bagels

7 Butternut Chicken Stew

8 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

9 Pumpkin Waffles

10 Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

11 Butternut Squash Chili

12 Pumpkin Jar Mix

13 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

14 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

15 Pumpkin Biscuits

16 Easy Pumpkin Cake

17 Pumpkin Dump Cake

18 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

19 Pumpkin Mousse

20 Pumpkin Cheesecake

21 Pumpkin Latte

22 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

23 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

24 Maple Pumpkin Butter

25 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins

26 Pumpkin Pancakes

27 Pumpkin English Muffins

28 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

29 Pumpkin Biscotti

30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread

31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole reminds me of Christmas morning or a celebration brunch, but it’s easy enough to have any time.  I love that it can serve a crowd without having to stand over a hot griddle cooking a few slices of bread at a time.  The pumpkin flavor and pecan butterscotch topping, makes this dish especially festive.

You can bake it in a 9×13 casserole dish, muffin tins, a Bundt pan, or even a slow cooker.  It makes a great freezer meal, or a prep the night before dish. I’ll give instructions for each variation at the end.

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

1 loaf, 20 oz of bread.  We like Saralee Artisan Golden Wheat Bread

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Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, No Special Pan Needed

These sweet and tender Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts are as easy to make as biscuits.  Brandon helped make our first batch at 2 years old.  He’s 10 now–eeek!  When I look back on these old pictures I wish I had taken a lot more.

We like this recipe because it doesn’t take any special pans or a donut maker which makes it accessible to every kitchen.  It’s easily made dairy free. Just sub coconut oil for the butter and almond milk for the dairy milk.  And dust with powdered sugar instead of yogurt glaze. We’re still perfecting a gluten free recipe so you have that to look forward to that later.

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Pumpkin Muffin or Cookies Jar Mix

This mix contains the epitome of autumn flavors with the butterscotch chips, pumpkin spice and pecans.  It has has been a family favorite for years and fits prettily in a quart jar and makes a nice appreciation gift or a welcome to the neighborhood gift.  This is another original recipe you won’t find anywhere else.

Pumpkin Jar Mix

1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice

1/2 cup Rolled Oats

3/4 cup Sugar*

1/2 cup Butterscotch Chips

1/2 cup Chopped Pecans

Layer in a quart jar

*If you are baking right away, brown sugar tastes better.  If it is a mix for storage then white sugar is best.  Brown sugar will dry out next to the flour and get hard and impossible to mix into the recipe.  Sucanat or coconut sugar would work in either situation.

For cookies: Mix 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 t maple flavoring, 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 egg. Add pumpkin mix, and mix just until combined. Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheets.  Optional, decorate before baking by pressing a pecan half into the top. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

For muffins:

Mix together 1/4 C butter or yogurt, 2 eggs, 1/2 t maple flavoring, and 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Add pumpkin mix alternating with 1 C milk. Fill greased muffin cups nearly full and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Makes 15-18 muffins.

P.S.  Did you know that parmesan jar lids fit quart jars?

This is day 12 of 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

6 Pumpkin Bagels

7 Butternut Chicken Stew

8 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

9 Pumpkin Waffles

10 Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

11 Butternut Squash Chili

12 Pumpkin Jar Mix

13 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

14 Easy Pumpkin Cake

15 Pumpkin Dump Cake

16 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

17 Pumpkin Mousse

18 Pumpkin Cheesecake

19 Pumpkin Latte

20 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

21 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

22 Pumpkin Biscuits

23 Maple Pumpkin Butter

24 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins

25 Pumpkin Pancakes

26 Pumpkin English Muffins

27 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

28 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

29 Pumpkin Biscotti

30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread

31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie

Butternut Squash Chili

I love Chili and all things beans, but sometimes they don’t love me.  And beans never love my teenage son.

With butternut squash we can have a nice thick beanless chili without spending a fortune on extra meat. Originally I planned to cut the squash into bite sized squares for a nice texture similar to beans.  Then I remembered my kids aren’t big fans of squash…yet.   I have all sorts of secret plans to turn them into squash fans, mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha.  It’s a work in progress.

I sauteed the squash in a skillet with a little coconut oil and chopped onion, then pureed it in a blender with a can of broth.  When I stirred it into the crushed tomatoes, the squash and onion disappeared.  Chili powder’s dark color made the camouflage complete.  You could totally save a step and use canned pumpkin puree instead.

Butternut quash’s mildly sweet flavor complements the spicy seasonings perfectly.  The kids gobbled this up.  It’s a hearty, comforting autumn meal that is lower carb and won’t cause bloating or other gastric distress.

Butternut Chili Con Carne

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 onion, diced

1 can, 15 oz beef or chicken broth  (or 2 cups homemade, cool in temperature)

2 lbs ground beef or turkey, browned and drained

1 can, 28 oz crushed tomatoes

3 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute squash with onion in a little bit of coconut oil until fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Add to a blender or food processor with broth.  Puree.  (You can leave it whole if you like the texture.)  Combine everything in a stock pot and warm through.  The longer it simmers the better the flavors will meld.  This can be stirred together in the morning and held in a slow cooker on low until dinner.

Topping ideas: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped chives, chopped tomatoes, olives, crushed tortilla chips, oyster crackers….

1/8th of the recipe prepared with 93% lean ground beef = 318 calories, 9g fat, 19 net carbs, and 34 grams of protein

This is day 11 of 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

6 Pumpkin Bagels

7 Butternut Chicken Stew

8 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

9 Pumpkin Waffles

10 Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

11 Butternut Squash Chili

12 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

13 Pumpkin Muffin/Drop Cookie Mix

14 Easy Pumpkin Cake

15 Pumpkin Dump Cake

16 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

17 Pumpkin Mousse

18 Pumpkin Cheesecake

19 Pumpkin Latte

20 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

21 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

22 Pumpkin Biscuits

23 Maple Pumpkin Butter

24 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins

25 Pumpkin Pancakes

26 Pumpkin English Muffins

27 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

28 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

29 Pumpkin Biscotti

30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread

31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

These Pumpkin Snickerdoodles have a thin crispy outside with a soft inside.  Not too cake-like and just enough spice.  I ate 4 just to make sure they were perfect and could have gone for another if I weren’t on a diet.  Self-control has to begin somewhere, bwa ha ha ha.

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Pumpkin Spice Waffles, Two Ways

Most of you know that I coach a private weight loss group and provide detailed meal plans to help the girls reach their goals.  I’m following the meal plans closely myself and am on my way to a completing a 40lb weight loss.  Not everything is predictable but I’m on track to finish by the end of the year. These scones are part of our plan this week and they are such a treat!  My kids were jealous, so I made a fresh ground whole wheat version for them.

The Fit Mama recipes won’t hurt a young person if they want to eat them once in awhile but the ingredients are more expensive than traditional ingredients and they are too low carb/low calorie for a steady diet for a growing child.  It doesn’t take long for me to make a version for me and one for them and I’m excited to share both the recipes.

Fit Mama Protein Pumpkin Spice Waffles

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Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Scones and hot tea are one of my favorite autumn breakfasts. I made the first batch of pumpkin scones for the Fit Mama meal plans. They were delicious and just happen to be both gluten free and dairy free.  Then I made a second bath with fresh ground whole wheat flour for the rest of the family and they got thumbs up too.  I’m pleased to share the recipes for both.

Fit Mama Pumpkin Pecan Scones

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