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Monday funny

Happy hour appetizers

Summer's around the corner! This means cookouts, grilling with friends and eating outside. Break out of the usual chicken on a skewer rut with those ideas for fresh appys and snazzy finger foods at happy hour:

- Rosemary, lamb and feta with lemon
- Fennel, sambuca prawns and orange
- Mint, marinated artichoke heart, pecorino
- Green grape, manchego cheese, spicy chorizo
- Watermelon, basil, cherry tomato
- Pear, brie and arugula
- Jalapeno, avocado, jicama and lime
- Arugula, watermelon and feta
- Scallop, mango and avocado
- Sweet red pepper, goat cheese and oregano
- Feta, yellow pear tomato, cucumber, kalamata
- Rustic bread, mint and prosciutto
- Sharp cheddar, granny smith apple and endive

How to choose a rental property that is gas safe

If you’re a homeowner, you can easily arrange a boiler service and other gas safety checks – but if you’re a tenant, it can be a little tricky. Most landlords are on the ball when it comes to protecting their occupants, but you must choose a gas safe property – here’s how.
Ask to see the landlord’s gas safety record Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords must have all appliances inspected annually – so ask to see the CP12 certificate (issued after a successful safety check). Landlords are required to hold onto this certificate for two years and should provide a copy to all tenants within 28 days of the check being completed. If there’s no documentation, you might want to look elsewhere.
Speak to existing tenants If possible, speak to the existing tenants before signing a contract. They should be able to tell you what the homeowner’s like and if there’s been any issues. Ask if the gas appliances work and if they’ve been maintained (as you could get some interesting answers). Your questions might seem a little probing, but they could help you to find a decent place to live.
Inspect the property yourself After meeting the landlord and the tenants, take your time to inspect the property. Browse around each room and look for black stains and condensation around gas appliances. Check that all gas flames are crisp and blue (not weak and yellow) and ensure there’s nothing in front of gas-powered fires. If you do notice a problem, tell the person showing you around as a central heating service could be necessary.
Check for carbon monoxide alarms Carbon monoxide can leak from faulty, damaged or poorly installed appliances, so look for CO alarms dotted around the house. There should be one on every floor as they’ll signal a warning noise if something’s wrong. If there are no detectors around, ask for the landlord to install a few before you commit to a tenancy agreement. Your health comes first, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make requests.
Look for a safe and secure property and enjoy your new home.

Salad in a jar

Tightwad loves all the cool uses for mason jars besides jams and savories. How's this idea? Avoid soggy salads at work by using large jars for your lunch! Easy to make, healthy and practical, put the salad dressing in the bottom of the jar, layer your salad ingredients and mix together at lunch. Bon appetit!

Tightwad lunch idea #2

What's for lunch today? How good does this sound? A goat cheese, shaved fennel, heirloom tomato and arugula sandwich on fresh fig bread. Yum!

Edible signs of spring

Blossoms, bulbs, leaves unfurling... spring has sprung! Other (edible) signs of spring are:
Fiddleheads: tight pinwheels that emerge from the soil and are only edible before they unfurl into fern fronds. Taste woody and are delicious steamed. See here for much more info about identifying and cooking fiddleheads.

Ramps: part of the onion family, ramps taste like a cross between spring onions and scallions. Also known as wild leeks.

Morels: treasures for their rich, intense flavour; excellent sautéed in butter or top roasted.
Do your research before foraging so you are sure about what you are picking!

Save money and have fun!

My name is Jessica and I write for Pocket Change. What I love about Tightwad is the fact that it's about saving money without sacrificing fun or the ability to still feel like a whole person doing the things that you want. Here are some pointers on what you can do to save money on things you might not always think of. Here’s to saving money and having fun!
Invite your friends over instead of going out I usually do this with my friends, who come over to my house, put on a movie or TV show that we love and enjoy each other’s company. You could even have a potluck or a barbeque; this saves a lot on food expenses because this way you aren’t all racking up a huge bill at a restaurant.
Plan your meals around your grocery’s flyer What’s so great about this idea is you aren’t planning around some over-the-top cookbook recipe with dozens of new ingredients that you need to buy. You can choose the pasta that’s on sale or maybe fish that you can combine with some in-season veggies.
Don’t do retail therapy Go home after a long day at work and relax that way. I’m guilty of simply going to a store and buying something because I think it will make me feel better. But often enough, all I really need is some time to myself so I can relax. An easy way to relax is to take a bath, maybe even use a bath pillow and some bubble bath to mellow out. You’ll feel better about not spending money on things that you don’t need and you’ll feel calmer than ever.
Write a list before you go shopping Whenever you go shopping, write a list of everything you need and stick to it. You’ll be far less likely to buy impulse items that you don’t need if you make sure that the only items you buy is on said list. If you aren’t sure about something, like walking into a store that you don’t need anything from then stay away. While I may not buy things that I can’t afford in those adorable shoe stores, I still leave feeling drained and unhappy. Use your list, it’ll make you feel better about your shopping and yourself.
These tips should help you on the road to saving some serious cash. While it may not be the only thing you can do, I hope it will certainly help you out to become a real money-saving-mogel.

A pennywise shipper's guide

If you’ve been trying to declutter by selling off old possessions and impulse buys on auction websites, the high cost of posting your parcel to Ireland, Finland, Australia or any other far off destination can be a tough pill to swallow. The cost of postage can make a big difference during a sale, but so can speed of delivery, so how do you make sure you get both?
Couriers are undoubtedly the fastest method of getting your parcel into the hands of its new owner quickly, but if you don’t shop around the costs associated here can be huge. Use a courier comparison service, or, if your parcel is a little larger, a courier bidding website to get the best deal.
Packaging can make a difference to the cost of your delivery: the smaller box you can use the better as this is often how couriers and postal services decide how much to charge you. If you’re shipping something delicate, why not forgo packing chips and instead use bubble wrap, which is cheaper and will take up less space in a box.
Likewise if you have two items to send to one address, combined shipping won’t always be possible. Weigh the objects you’re sending and separate the heavier ones from the lighter to get a better price from couriers – you might find you can get an excellent deal using two different couriers to send each parcel.
If you’re shipping something valuable, don’t think that by not taking out postal insurance you will be saving money. If any harm comes to your parcel in transit, you could end up out of pocket, so ensure you insure before you ship.

Picnic must-haves - besides food

Is it warm enough yet? Tightwad is fantasizing about the first picnic of the season. Picnic success is a simple matter of careful planning and packing. The secret? Don't forget any of these items:

- a picnic basket (tote, wicker container)
- a cooler and ice packs so no one gets a food borne pathogenic illness (hmmm note to self: remember ice packs)
- a knife, sturdy dinnerware and utensils
- plates; something to eat off and cups; something to drink out of
- a thermos to keep bevvies cool
- a blanket, quilt or tablecloth
- napkins and a few dishtowels
- wine and a corkscrew
- bottled water
- citronella candles to ward off pesky bugs
- salt and pepper mills
- a garbage bag to pack in and pack out

Life is short! Dine in style!

Portable growth graph

Repurpose a clothes rod by creating family heirloom; portable and a precious, using colours to code your family’s growth over time, year after year. Just tape off the space you want to colour and assign one colour to each family member. If you move, just take it with you!

Spring decluttering tip

Everyone knows it's difficult to let go of memorabilia and special trinkets that remind you of treasured memories. But, just because you plan to downsize your memorabilia doesn’t mean you are getting rid of the memories. Take a photo and create a photo book of special things instead.

Repurposed ideas from the bloggersphere #30

Love this! Rustic and super cool at the same time - using a vintage rake as a wine glass rack!

Earth Day on April 22!

The Earth Day Network hopes to collect one billion online pledges for its a Billion Acts of Green Initiative to celebrate Earth Day. Think green acts: Pledge to plant a garden, switch to LED light bulbs, or walk more and drive less. to join!

Garden rolodex

Create a portable garden index on a key ring; trim each plant tag at its base, place it photo side up on a shipping tag and staple it near one end so you can easily read the flip side, group tags on key ring and make notes on the other side about where you planted them. Sweet right?

Repurpose bread tags

Staring at an overloaded power bar and looking to unplug your printer? Make life easier by labeling your cords with annotated bread tags. Here are some other cool ways to re-use bread tags.

Socks, reunited

Don't let those single socks down! Give them a second chance by creating a place for them to wait for their mates. Create sock central for your laundry room by gluing clothes pegs on a board and hang near the dryer. Go crazy, bejewel it out.

Creating a productive garden

Get the the most of your garden space by planting lettuce seedlings between slow-maturing vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. You can increase the productivity of a small garden by planting fruits and vegetables among flowers. Strawberries, parsley and chives make great borders; carrot and asparagus fronds are attractive amongst perennials.

Repurposed ideas from the bloggersphere #29

Cat condo! Purrfect!

Frugalicious weekly web crawl

Small Notebook Organize Your Medicine Cabinet
$5 Dinners Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Lunchbox Inspiration
BrokeAss Gourmet Apple-Onion Tartlets with Cheddar
Five Cent Nickel Why You Should Consider Becoming a Landlord
A Thrifty Mrs. What Does Thrifty Mean To You?
The Unclutter What To Do With Sentimental T-Shirts?

Sweet idea for setting the Easter table

Multi-purpose your cake tray by using it as a centrepiece for candles, cupcakes, Easter eggs, pretty potted plants, or other seasonal goodies. Or, use it in a different room altogether, such as in the kitchen with all of your soaps by the wash basin or to display your fruit in a different way.

Biggest Tightwad book giveaway ever!

Tightwad is doing a little spring cleaning and has a few brand spanking new books to give away! Starting April 4 and running until the end of the month, you could win a copy of one of the following:

Jane Honeck's "The Problem with Money? It's Not About the Money!"
Farrah Grey's "Reallionaire"
Laura Laing's "Math for Grownups"
Geneen Roth's "Women Food and God"

It's easy to win! Just "Like" Tightwad on Facebook. That's it.

Time to hit up your local thrift stores

It's spring cleaning season and game on! Now is the time to haunt thrift stores and flea markets in search of treasures that someone else can't use. Tightwad is, in fact, on the look out for a decent treadmill, mason jars, Pyrex, stainless steel mixing bowls, vintage Bunnykins, serving platters, fun cookbooks, garden tools, terracotta pots ... the list is endless and totally achievable given the price of thrift stores. Factor in the thrill of the hunt and it's irresistible.

Getting your finances together online

In life few things are certain - but we can expect the unexpected. One year you may be rolling in savings while the next year you face the most unpredictable of scenarios and require a bankruptcy lawyer. This is why it's prudent to have a safety net. More people are taking advantage of online banking in order to organize their finances and plan for the future. Many prominent institutions have invested in powerful online tools for consumers, which allow you to keep track of your accounts, investments, and assets. If you're looking to get your finances together and assess your options, online banking could be a good avenue for you to explore.
Here are three ways it could benefit you to take your money to the Internet:
Diversifying your savings In today's economy it may make sense to rethink your retirement savings. Many people are diversifying their savings accounts by taking advantage of online banking accounts that give great rates on CDs, Money market accounts, savings accounts, and even IRA CDs. Learn how you can convert a traditional CD into a Roth IRA CD that will pay higher interest and void future taxation on your funds through contributions.
Finding a middle ground Many people use money market accounts because you get similar returns as from a savings account but with more access to your money. It's basically a mix between a savings account and debit account, with the benefits and disadvantages of both. You're not guaranteed the same kind of interest as with a traditional savings but you have the ability to withdraw money. For many people, this is a crucial feature. In case of an emergency, you can be assured you will access to your money without fear of crippling fees.
Investing with CDs Many people make Certificate of Deposit (CD) investments because they offer a multitude of financial benefits. They provide a variety of terms that you can fit to your situation; they provide short-term liquidity, they provide security as compared to stocks or bonds, they are FDIC insured, and they can offer great growth potential through plans of action like “CD laddering.”
Online banking is about more than just logging in to make sure your last cheque was processed. The more progressive banks are offering a range of options by which you can take control of your finances and make big decisions regarding the future of your savings account. These decisions may include diversifying your accounts and taking advantage of money market or CD accounts. Whatever option you choose, it's important to remember that your money is only as safe as you make it. It's up to you to choose a plan of action that safeguards your financial future.

Regenerate green onions - myth?

Think this will work? Take your green onion ends, submerge them in water, put in a sunny spot and never buy onions again. Myth? Tightwad will keep you posted. She just put a batch of ends on the window sill today.

Your wedding - ways to save!

A celebrant, a bride and groom, a marriage license, witnesses... these items are non-negotiable when it comes to getting married. When it comes to the add-ons, there are plenty of thing you can compromise or do without on your wedding day. Save up for a dreamy beach vacay/honeymoon instead - or be really responsible and put the savings into your mortgage. Here are some planning tips to help you stay on budget:

Save-the-dates Skip the printed stationary announcing your wedding date. Use e-vites, Facebook, email and the phone to spread the word. There are a number of free, elegant printables online if you are committed to hard copies.

A professional wedding planner If you're well organized, you can get away without the services of a professional, so long as you have some reliable people to delegate to, like your mom and close friends.

Long lost relatives The more you can trim you guest list, the more money you'll save. Keeping your guest list short will make your wedding more intimate. Consider sending a wedding announcement with a photo after the event to keep everyone in the loop.

Large bridal party While it may look impressive in wedding photos, a large bridal party is going to cause more headache and strain on the wallet than you need. Your friends just want to be there for you, in any way they can, so ask them for their help with things you can delegate.

Bridesmaid dresses Choose a theme or colour and allow your bridal party to find their own dresses that fit them (and their wallet). They'll probably like that option better anyway because they will be able to choose a dress that suits them and they will wear again. Provide accessories as your gift instead.

Professional hair and makeup Enlist a talented friend for their services and splurge by buying new makeup and hair products that you'll have for the honeymoon and months to come.

Formal wedding registry Often brides and grooms already have many of the things they need for their life together. Consider an online wedding registry that allows visitors to register for gift cards from national retailers for things that you will actually need.

A wedding cake No one is suggesting you don't have cake on your big day! But - a little trick - don't mention that the cake you are ordering is for a wedding. The word "wedding" automatically doubles the price. Order a birthday cake instead, in whatever style you want.

Party favours Unless you can pull this off for cheap and in a non-tacky way, skip the wedding favours. No one will miss them. Really.

For thousands of ways to save on your big day, order a copy of Tightwad's ebook: How to be Fabulous for Less on Your Big Day! Seriously. Save. Money.

New budget for Canada

The Canadian government released their new budget on March 30. The penny is gone! Apparently this will not affect debit or credit transactions, but everything paid for in cash. However, the big news for Tightwad is that they raised the age at which you can collect OAS - Old Age Security - up from age 65 to 67. Adjustments will begin in 2023. For people under 50 this is a big HELLO! and a strong reminder that we need to take even more personal responsibility for our own retirement. Luckily, we have lots of lead time.