PF Weekly Grab a Brew #52: Boxing Day madness wasn’t so mad

grab-a-brew-online-review DEALS WORTH GETTING UP FOR

 

I don’t mind going shopping on Boxing Day as long as long as I don’t have an agenda.

I find that every year we tend to head out to the stores with no goal in mind only to see what bargains are to be found.

It’s more of a tradition each year now just to roam around and see what the stores are getting rid of at rock bottom prices.

We set out early on Boxing Day bright and early at 5:30 with our first stop being Future Shop for 6am only to notice that the line-up wasn’t near as long as it was in 2012.

What is going on? Are people not wanting to spend money on Boxing Day? Are the deals not worth getting up for? To be honest we didn’t even read the Boxing Day flyers as it’s been so busy.

Is online-shopping taking front seat to getting up and venturing out into the cold waiting in line? Not everyone is comfortable shopping online yet but I’m betting over time we will see more people staying home unless the stores come up with better in-store deals.

Future shop even went as far as to offer customers free Tim Hortons coffee which was great if you wanted to take the time to make one at the brewing station. There was no line-up there either, not surprised at that either.

The mall was equally as quiet with the hallways not picking up with foot traffic until about an hour after the mall actually opened which was very surprising.

You would guess that gift card holders would be jamming the stores wanting to take advantage of the sales with the gift cards they received.

Many of the mall deals were standard up to 70% off  or buy one get one free or take and extra 50% off the last ticketed price.

The stores that were packed were the techie type stores that carried everything from cell phones to video games to laptops and TVs.

We ended up picking up a laptop door crasher at Future Shop for our relative but they had so many left that it made it seem like it was any other day of the week.

We weren’t complaining as we didn’t have to fight off hundreds of people just to get save a few bucks. I guess it wasn’t as much of a hit as they thought it would be but it was what we needed to get so a bargain for our relative.

Future shop was crawling with people and probably one of the busiest shops we went into aside from Sears which had some pretty good knock-out sales.

My wife was able to pick up 2 pairs of leather high heel boots regular priced $149.99 and $239.99 for just under $40 a pair where last year she found a white Columbia winter jacket for around the same price with the regular price close to $300.

You can’t pass up those types of deals especially since she’s been looking for boots for a while that she feels comfortable in as she has size 10 feet which is hard for some women to find a comfortable shoe and boot.

We didn’t stay out too long as the wife has been very sick in bed all week and trying to keep up with the festivities at a snail’s pace but still smiling her way through it all.

If we were smart maybe we could have just woke up, made coffee and turned on the laptop and finished our Boxing Day shopping online where I can only assume many Canadians took to.

Did you go out Boxing Day shopping?

 

Top recipe

 anginetti-cookies-Italian

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks festive Top Recipe comes from a blog called Foody Schmoody… I’m just Cooking with Anginetti Lemon drop cookies which are traditional Italian cookies made during the Christmas holidays.

 

Weekly CBB Posts

 

If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!

 

Weekly reads

 

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #52 so happy saving and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

-Mr. CBB

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Double-Crust Mincemeat Pies Part 2

Double-Crusted-Mincemeat-PiesCHRISTMAS MINCE PIES

A couple of weeks back I promised you that as soon as 4 weeks was up after making part 1 of this recipe the mincemeat filling we would get started on making some mincemeat pies.

You can read about “What is mincemeat pie?” and “The history of mincemeat pie” in the link above if you want more background about this lovely festive treat.

Today I am using the mincemeat that has been maturing over the last few weeks.

As I opened the jar of mincemeat filling that I recently made my heart just melted it took me right back home to eating Christmas pies with my family with a cuppa tea!

My sisters and I would always fight over the mincemeat pies as there was five 0f us in the family.

There would always be couple of mincemeat pies left and after mum got hers we were down to the last one which we would wrestle over. My dad on the other hand doesn’t really like mince pies as he prefers his apple pies.

My kids were there when I opened the jar of mincemeat asking what we were going to make today as a family because I love involving my children and teaching them family traditions.

I said today we are making a special treat that only comes at Christmas. Ooh said my eldest just like Santa bringing us presents.

I had to laugh kids can be so funny sometimes but I’m happy that they don’t complain about wanting to learn how to cook. The youngest she just wants to get in there and start tasting and this is before the mincemeat pies are even baked.

I also have some mincemeat pie orders from my UK friends asking if they can have some too. I may have to get Christmas orders in early next year as they are flying out the door.

Christmas-Mincemeat-pie

Mincemeat Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is part 2 of my mincemeat pie recipe. The first recipe will teach you how to make and store the mincemeat and today how to make the lovely mincemeat tarts.
Author:
Recipe type: Mincemeat Pies
Cuisine: Christmas
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • Shortcrust pastry
  • 8oz/227g plain flour
  • 60z/170g butter
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg (separated)
  • Cold water for mixing
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 Jar mincemeat
  • Butter for greasing
  • Milk for brushing
  • Icing sugar or caster sugar (extra fine sugar) for dusting
Instructions
  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl
  2. Run in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add sugar and mix well. Now add the egg yolk into the mixture and enough water to form a soft dough.
  4. Roll out the dough to at thickness of ½ inch rounds
  5. Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF. Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible on a lightly floured board
  6. Using a plain round cutter, cut out 24 circles. Then with a smaller cutter cut out another 24 these will be the lids for the pies.
  7. Grease muffin pans, dust them with flour and line them with the larger circles.
  8. Fill each one with mincemeat, around ½ teaspoon, and then brush the edges with milk. (click link in blog post to read >> how to make mincemeat)
  9. Press the smaller rounds on top and seal the edges.
  10. Brush the tops with milk
  11. Sprinkle a little sugar over the tops of the pies
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown.
  13. Cool in the tins, and then transfer the pies to a wire rack to become cold.
  14. Store them in an airtight tin.
  15. Just before serving, dust the tops with icing sugar and serve warm.

 

These pies are called Double-crust Mincemeat Pies only because we will be topping them off with a pastry lid. The pies can be frozen for up to 6 months  and when needed just thaw at room temperature.

What a better way to spend a cold winters evening with friends and family by indulging in some homemade mince pies. I usually serve mine with some whipped cream or brandy butter just for an extra bit of luxury.

Enjoy

Nicky x

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Stollen bread for the Christmas holidays

German-Christmas-Stollen-BreadSWEET AND SIMPLE THIS FRUIT BREAD IS PACKED FULL OF FLAVOUR

If it’s a sweet treat you crave but don’t want to indulge in chocolate or something ooey gooey then this recipe is a must try.

Christmas prep is in full swing at my house and the hustle and bustle in the kitchen only means that I’m baking up a long list of holiday favourites for everyone to enjoy.

I like to be ahead of the game and get some treats and breads ready in case of unexpected guests or even just as a sweet treat on a cold winter’s day!

With so many rich, traditional foods at Christmas, it can be a welcome change to be offered a slice of delicious home-made Stollen bread with butter, cheese, or a homemade preserve such as my carrot marmalade which I also use in this recipe.

With the coming and goings of expected and unexpected guests during the Christmas holidays it’s a good idea to have a stand-by recipe for bread suitable for all occasions.

This Stollen bread recipe offers just that and it’s not that difficult to make but it’s the culture behind the bread that most people often wonder about.

I tend to make Stollen cake weeks in advance so the flavours have time to come together and when defrosted the cake becomes very moist although it’s simply divine eating it after it’s cooled and come from the oven.

We are so used to the tried and true holiday recipes that it’s nice to try something different so that your guests get to experience something that they can talk about after they leave your house and possibly want to make themselves for their family or co-workers.

If you have leftover Stollen bread you can do what I do and make bread pudding using the same recipe that I use for my Italian Panettone bread pudding recipe.

Panettone is the Italian version of a Christmas bread but it’s much lighter in texture compared to the Stollen bread.

 

What is Stollen?

 

Stollen also known as Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen is a yeast bread some call it a cake because it is  speckled with fruit and sprinkled with icing sugar. The bread is also sometimes filled with a marzipan surprise that most people won’t expect but is delicious. Stollen is a popular German and Austrian specialty that is traditionally served at Christmas time.

Stollen can be served at any time may it be breakfast, coffee or tea time!

If you have never tried Stollen it is slightly sweet and is even delicious toasted with butter although when it comes from the oven I brush the Stollen with melted butter and dust with icing sugar.

 

Stollen Bread History

 

Both Germany and Austria are renowned for their Christmas markets with the smells and tastes adding to the festive ambiance of the surroundings as everyone comes out to shop and eat.

This Stollen sweet bread/fruit cake is widely sold at the markets some with marzipan including various fruits and nuts but it’s also made at home for those that don’t mind a little elbow grease and preparing baked items from scratch.

Austria is also famous for its capital Vienna, their composers and it is also a place that I would love to visit. The deep history of folklore and music is something that I really want to experience and is definitely a stop on my bucket list.

Until then I bring the tastes and traditions of Germany and Austria into our family kitchen with this lovely Stollen bread that never lasts long around our house and today for you in your kitchen.

I hope you enjoy this simple Stollen recipe and share it with your family during this holiday season.

If you are ready to learn how to make homemade bread put your apron on and let’s get baking.

 

Prep time                    2hrs 50 mins (this includes the rising of the bread)

Cooking time             25-30 mins

Oven Temp                200oC / 400oF

Makes                         1 loaf bread

Stollen Bread For The Holidays
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup lukewarm milk
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar (extra fine)
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 5 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2oz / ⅓ cup seedless raisins
  • 1oz / ⅙ cup sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 1 ½ oz / ⅓ cup candied orange peel chopped (I am using my carrot and orange marmalade here using the same amounts)
  • 1oz/ ½ cup blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon rum
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • About 2oz/ ½ cup icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix together the warm milk, sugar and yeast and leave it in a warm place until it is frothy.
  2. Sift together the flour and salt, make a well in the centre and pour on the yeast mixture. Add the softened butter (if it’s too hard put it in the micro for a couple of seconds) and egg and mix to form a soft dough. Then mix in the raisins, sultanas, peel or carrot and orange jam, almonds and sprinkle on the rum.
  3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it is pliable.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, (remember my tip on greasing bowls keep and use your butter wrappers) cover it with non-stick paper or plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured board and knead it lightly until it is smooth and elastic again.
  6. Shape the dough to a rectangle about 25 x 20cm or 10 x 8 in. Fold the dough over along one of the long sides and press the 2 layers together.
  7. Cover and leave it to stand for another 20 mins
  8. This is a waiting game for the bread as it needs to rise but it sure is worth the end result.
  9. Now heat the oven to 200oC/400oF. Bake the loaf in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until it is well risen.
  10. Allow it to cool slightly on the baking sheet, and then brush it with melted butter. Sift the sugar over the top and transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool.

how-its-made-Stollen-Christmas-bread

This bread will freeze well and keep for up to 2 months in the freezer and is great to give away as gifts at Christmas even if you decide to make mini Stollen treats.

In our family we eat Stollen on Christmas morning before starting our festivities.

Enjoy Nicky xx

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The power of plastic points

credit-cards-in-wallet

If you’re like most people, you probably have a wallet full of colourful plastic cards that are taking up space and making it harder and harder for you to close the clasp!

If you look through them, you’ll likely discover that while some of these cards are useful credit and debit cards than a few are loyalty cards you just never use.

It’s understandable how anyone can end up with such a collection. Practically every retailer offers a loyalty point scheme. At the time, it can be hard to think of a good reason to refuse and with a little effort, the points we collect with plastic can be worth it … as the following tips show.

 

Be selective

 

Before saying yes to every loyalty point card which is put under your nose, think about how often you shop in a particular store. Is it really worth the effort of filling out the application form?

Think about where you would shop regularly even if you weren’t part of a loyalty scheme. Once you’ve identified these stores then take advantage of the schemes that they offer.

On the other hand, if you only shop somewhere once in a while then do yourself a favour and refuse a card. Owning it may make you more inclined to shop there, increasing your overall spend.

 

Pick credit cards carefully

 

Loyalty cards aren’t the only ones which offer points schemes. Many credit cards reward customers with attractive points which can be redeemed for a range of goods and services.

For Canadians, this is a huge attraction when selecting a credit card. According to a survey by American Express Canada, 89% of Canadians carry at least one credit card in their wallet with more than half (52%) carrying more than one. Of those who own credit cards, 68% claim rewards programs are important.

An Amex Credit Card is an example of a card which pays customers in points for spending. Again, take advantage of this type of scheme for planned or routine purchases like a new set of furniture or Christmas shopping.

It also makes sense to use a credit card for travel-related purchases such as flights and hotels. The accrued points can be used for future vacation expenses.

 

Control spending

 

A word of warning – when you know that every time you spend you are ‘earning’ money, there is the danger of developing a habit of spending more than you normally would.

In order to make a points system on a credit card or retail loyalty card really work for you, stick to what you buy routinely. Once you’ve gathered a useable number of points, decided carefully how to spend it so your efforts are not wasted.

 

Track your history

 

The best tips concerning card management involve looking at your past behaviour to identify patterns and understand your habits. By tracking your history you can not only establish what sort of cards attract the most of your attention but also how much they’re saving – or costing –  you overall.

To track your history you need to record each use of your card and how much it saves or what reward it offers. Compare this against the amount you spent at the time and work how much better off you are through your use of cards. If you find you don’t use them enough to warrant having them then clear some space in your wallet or purse by getting rid.

Understand all the rules

Loyalty cards generally fall into specific categories, offering set rewards for continued spending over a long period time. However, not all loyalty systems operate in exactly the same way so it’s important you understand all the rules for the different cards in your possession.

This means looking into when you can use them and what rewards you may be eligible to claim. Check to see whether the provider of your loyalty card is associated with any other brands or companies as sometimes you may be able to get rewards or benefits from these places too.

To make the most of your must first understand them so ensure you read all of the terms and conditions in full before making any agreements. This is a tip which you should apply to all other types of card – including your credit card.

 

Earn cash back

 

Generally applied to credit cards, cash back is an option which many loyal spenders forget to take advantage of and is therefore something you should look out for. Cash back essentially offers you a small return on your purchases. This may be for a set amount but is more typically represented as a small percentage of the amount you spend.

Depending on the type of card you have, cash back may be available on all purchases you make or only at items which you buy from specific retailers. The important thing here is to know where you get cash back and make the most of it. Don’t go out of your way to buy items in the appropriate places but if you’re shopping there anyway then consider using your card to benefit from the reward.

If you have enough money to pay for these items via other means (such as a debit card or even cash) then you can always use this to pay off your credit card balance straight away so that you aren’t left to deal with the bill later on down the line.

 

Know when to use cards and when not to

 

The most important financial lesson to learn when dealing with cards is to know when to use and when not to use them. At present, a campaign is running in Canada to encourage shoppers to leave the plastic at home one day a week with the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses calling for ‘Credit Free Fridays’.

The main reason behind this is the preservation of businesses (as credit card purchases force retailers to hand over a share of the purchase price to credit card companies) but there are some interesting points to take on board from this incentive.

The main idea is that not every situation is the right time to use a card – whether it be a debit card linked to a bank account, a credit card or even a loyalty card. To ensure that your finances are not adversely affected you need to understand when to use these cards and when to leave them be. Once you’ve mastered this you’ll find it much easier to stay on top of your finances and reap the rewards due to you.

 

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PF Weekly Grab a Brew #47: Work Smart…How important is family time to you?

grab-a-brewSPENDING TIME WITH LOVED ONES

Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the very people who love us the most.

As I get my Friday dose of Yahoo personal finance reading in it was twice this morning that family time came up.

I was intrigued to read an article about a young couple who both want to retire at age 50 with just over a million dollars in a Money Sense article on Yahoo.

 

I’d love to retire early and if you play your financial cards right that could just happen to you.

I read some of the comments (that’s where it gets all juicy in any Yahoo article) after reading the personal finance breakdown of this couple which looked amazing to me given their young ages of 26 and 32 with her being a nurse and him an engineer.

They are doing it right working hard while they are young in their chosen careers and investing and saving money like my wife and I both did from a young age. When I read the post I was thrilled for this couple as I do enjoy reading about couples who are making money work for them and not against them which for some can be a challenge.

 

The good the bad the ugly

 

It’s always when I get to the comments where I’m either scratching my head or happy to read comments that make sense to me. I’m not sure why so many people have to have a negative bashing towards people who are making their hard-earned money work for them.

Some of the comments made me wonder why it’s so hard for some to be happy for those people who are able to stay on track financially. It would be nice if everyone in this world could do the same but we are all dealt different cards in life but it’s up to us how we choose to carry them.

There was one comment that made me think about money and how much it means to us and how far we will go to attain our goals while keeping family first.

Family time is very important to my wife and I especially since we are both very busy people including having me work on this blog full-time during the week. We had a chat about our relationship and how important it is to budget in the romance and spend quality time together, family time.

Although we don’t have any children it’s still imperative as a couple that we take time from our busy schedule to set the money-making  and success building ladder part of our lives aside to do things together.

One commenter stated the he/she had made a million dollars by the age of 32 and went on to have 28 million by age 58 and he questioned whether it was worth giving up family and friends time.

I’ve quoted the comment below and when I read the comment in my head I knew that making the decision to balance work and life was an important one not only to my wife and I but to anyone.

The other Yahoo user comment you will read below shared their success to becoming millionaires but also talked about family time which many of us overlook and put on the back burner for our careers.

Working hard is great, but you also have to work smart. I did and reached the million mark when I was 32, great right, but, I also missed watching my family grow up, had zero holiday time, no friends. Was it worth it, yes, now I’m 58 and worth 25 million and no, I would give anything to have the things I missed….- R

Well, the wife and I lived a similar life and hit the $1 Million mark at 44, now 47 and close to $1.5 Million – all self-made. We raised 3 kids, 2 are still in the house at 18 and 19. I still have a flip phone and the wife has a pay as you go, same phone since 2005.

We take the family on a Caribbean holiday each year for a week, with lots of 3 day weekends wherever. I bought 2 – 51″ Samsung for $550 each a couple of years ago after finally ditching the old tube TV’s. Point is we do not feel like we are missing out on things and can go ahead and do it when we see value in it.

To get started use the 80-10-10 rule. Spend 80 % of your income, put 10% into mid-term savings and 10% into long-term savings. Never touch the long-term savings and only touch the mid-term savings in an absolute emergency – we never have.

Then I went on to read a Canadian Press article about Marc Caira the CEO of Tim Hortons who says his Blackberry is with him 5 days a week but come the weekend it’s on the bed side table and doesn’t get touched.

How many of you actually turn off your cell phone on the weekend?

If you are a blogger do you shut down the blog mind-set and focus on family come the weekend?

Caira goes on to say that for the most part his week is planned with an agenda but come the weekend it’s family time. He likes to try new restaurants with his family and every Sunday they go to breakfast with their grandson because family is important to them.

After reading what I did this morning I’m glad to know that we are working on a work-life-balance as a couple because if you want to get to the next level in your career you must work smart.

Family time, well like the commenter said above he would give anything to get that time back. Once time is gone, it’s gone for good.

How important is family time to you and what do you do?

 

 

Top recipe

 

brie-caramelized-onions-fig-jam

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks Top Recipe comes from a blog called “What a Girl Eats” and when I laid my eyes on her Warmed Brie with Caramelized Onions and Fig Jam my mouth was watering.

All I need is some homemade crackers, a knife, and a cuppa tea and I’m set. A wonderful brie appetizer for the holiday season that your guests will enjoy.

How do you serve your brie for the holidays?

 

Weekly reads

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you

Don’t forget to ENTER TO WIN $1000 plus in Cash and prizes  which will be a great way to start the Christmas holidays from my friend over at How to Save Money Canada.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #47 so happy saving and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

Mr. CBB

 

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