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Your children and money

Along with eating their veggies and looking twice before crossing the street - if you can engage your child in financial discipline, you are contributing to them developing healthy financial habits. It is easiest to start the lessons at a young age, especially in an engaging and practical way, so that building wealth coming naturally. Here are three tips to help you get started:  
Use cash Avoid the use of plastic around kids. Children need to see actually money physically leaving your hands in exchange for goods, so they understand that most things in life come at a cost. It also makes the piggy bank more legitimate for them. If kids don’t see you using cash, what are they saving nickels and dimes for? 
Use practical scenarios Have your children help you create shopping lists, set budgets and putting them to practical use at the grocery store. By including them in the setting of a financial goal, you are teaching them patience, planning and strategy when it comes to money – and the best way to get what you need. They may even find ways to save money on the shopping trip! And that’s what you want: the beginnings of strategic thinking, understanding the value of a dollar, and even better, learning to stretch a dollar. 
Needs vs. wants Teach children the difference. Period.   
Make it fun Monopoly, Payday… this old board games are important teaching tools in your arsenal regarding personal finance, basic math skills and creative thinking.
Make it pay Start your children on an allowance - Tightwad thinks that allowance is important, and should be based on age and also earning it. Here are some good tips.

Just had your do done?

Tightwad treated herself to some foils and a cut recently, and had to admit it looked pretty good. A couple of days later her friend asked, "so, did you get a head shot?" Of course, it's a no brainer! Your hair is at the best it's going to look... may as well take advantage of it. Oh well, next time.

Trailing plants idea

Tightwad is trying something new this year to bring some plant wow to her patio. On the top step she has planted some nasturtiums, hoping for a glorious riot of hanging red and yellow flowers when coming up the stairs. Nice for garnishing salads too!

Get your terracotta pots summer ready

Terracotta pots offer a pretty and natural home for all kinds of plants and look terrific on a patio. Terracotta is wonderful material for pots because it insulates plant roots against overheating and their porous nature help to keep soil moist and promote healthy plant growth. The white stuff that appears over time on the pot exterior is mineral build up, where calcium and salts get trapped as moisture evaporates. If your seasoned terracotta pots are anything like Tightwad's, they may have been found behind the garden shed in less than presentable condition. It's important that your pots are kept clean and sterilized, not only for looks, but also to keep the absorbed material from being spread to new plants next season and to prevent the spread of fungus or mold that may have developed. 

plastic or steel wool scrubbing brush
baking soda
soft brush

1. Remove all plants and soil from the pot
2. Allow the pot and remaining soil to dry so it's easier to clean
3. Using the scrubber, brush away as much build up as possible
4. Make a paste using baking soda and water and spread on the exterior of the post. Use the soft brush to gently scrub any white build up away. 
5. Rinse the pot and dry completely. 

Bruschetta. This recipe.

Ripe tomatoes. Garlic. Basil. Ingredients for the perfect appetizer. Last weekend Tightwad had a food moment at a friend’s party. The reason? The bruschetta was:

1     1. Served with the tomato basil topping at room temperature, in a separate bowl
       2. Served with a side of goat cheese

This was a complete turnaround from all of the previous bruschetta experiences Tightwad has had at similar events, and these two factors made it the best bruschetta EVER. The bread didn’t get soggy and was perfectly toasted and the addition of the goat cheese put it over the top. You may even have toppings left over for the perfect omelet in the morning – but it’s doubtful.

loaf, French bread
2 pints red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3-cup virgin olive oil, along with a tablespoon
10 or so basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (regular is ok)
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon red chili flakes

Make garlic oil. Mix 1/3-cup olive oil, 4 minced cloves of garlic, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes in a saucepan. Heat for about 1 minute (until you can smell the garlic) and TURN IT OFF and let it cool.  You will probably not use all of this oil on the bruschetta. Keep it for pizzas or anything else that needs garlic and olive oil. So, basically anything.

Add the tomatoes, balsamic and basil to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with a tablespoon or so of olive oil to combine, and taste and add more basil or salt is needed. If you have time it’s good to cover and let the mixture sit on the counter for an hour or so to really let the flavours mingle.

Usually Tightwad slices the bread on a bias to maximize surface area, but at this party the bread was not sliced on an angle. The benefit of this is: more slices, and easier to make the slices uniform in size. So, this is how she is going to slice her bread for bruschetta from now on. Place the slices in the oven on a sheet pan and broil until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes for the first side and 1 minute for the second side. Remove to a platter and rub each slice of bread (the top side) with your gorgeous garlic oil.

Serve on platter – side of goat cheese, bowl of divine tomato and basil mixture and your perfectly toasted garlic oil croutes. 

DIY bird feeder

This is recycling at its best. A great project to teach kids about repurposing, resourcefulness and taking care of our feathered friends.

You need: 
1L or 2 L plastic bottles, cleaned and de-labeled
bird seed
heavy duty craft wire
wooden spoons, two per bottle (easily obtained at thrift shops - even more recycling!)
a nail

What to do: 
1) Pierce one side of the bottle with the nail and cut a 1/2" U-shaped hole on the opposite side, do this twice.
2) Put the handles of the wooden spoons through the larger hole first, to opposite side on both sets of holes, making your perches.
3) Pierce two small holes at the very top of the bottle under the cap rim.
4) Insert a 12" piece of heavy duty craft wire through the holes and tie the ends together as the hanger for the feeder.
5) Fill the bottle with bird seed, and seal with the cap.
6) Hang the bottle and watch what happens!