Facebook Finds: Great Homemade Holiday or Hostess Gift

This recipe shared on Facebook has given birth to a new category of Fabulous Facebook Finds on MarkdownMom.  This comes from the Land o’ Lakes Company® and is an easy recipe and with its’ presentation in sealed glass jars identified by chalkboard labels spells fantastic  homemade gift!



Homemade hot fudge
by land o lakes

1/2 cup Land O Lakes® Butter
1 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Combine all sauce ingredients in 2-quart nonstick saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until butter and chips are melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.

Stir in flavor variation from below, if desired.

Pour into jars or other airtight containers for gift giving. Store refrigerated. Reheat as needed.

Enter InStyle Sweepstakes & Win $10,000

Calling all fashionistas–win Money, Money, Money!!!

Grand Prize: One (1) Grand Prize of $10,000.00 cash. Total ARV of Grand Prize is $10,000.00.

First Prizes: Three (3) First Prizes for $1,000.00 gift card each. Total ARV of all First Prizes is $3,000.00.

Total Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of all prizes being offered: $13,000.00 Entries Entries must be received by January 15, 2015.

Click Here To Enter.

Cookie Exchange: Good Deal or Not???

The Holidays are an endless source of approved indulgences.  A time to make merry, and to sample all the goodies this special season can offer–and, oh my, yes there are many! Ho, Ho, Ho!!!  For example, Christmas cookies, so many to choose from and don’t they look wonderful and colorful on a sideboard.  But to get a nice assortment from a bakery, it’s easy to spend $50-$75 for these confections.

You can, of course, save money by  baking your own, but in order to have a variety that captures the eye as well as the palate, you have to plan in advance, your materials, your kitchen to go into full production, and have time.  Groan–so much work, so little time…

The light bulb turns on with a bright idea:  A Cookie Exchange!  The Cookie Exchange was born to answer the call of hostesses with the mostest for creating that last pièce de resistance for their buffet table–with less fuss and small muss.  Great idea, win-win, right?

However, not all Cookie Exchanges are created equal and may be more work than you expected.  The idea is to make 1-2 dozen of one type of cookie for each participant –the more participants, the more variety of cookies.  In theory, if you have 12 participants, you make 12 dozen cookies of the same recipe to exchange and you receive 1 dozen each of 12 different holiday cookies creating a beautiful assortment for your table.  Right??? Maybe not!

Follow these Guidelines from Markdown Mom to avoid the pitfalls of a Cookie Exchange, and there are pitfalls, Virginia:

  • Know the baking abilities of all participants. Just like planning  a family potluck dinner–there is always one kitchen challenged relative you ask to bring either an hors d’oeuvres tray or the green leaf salad.  Look for Pillsbury Bake-Off Winners!
  • Know ahead of time the cookies they will bring to avoid duplication.   Additionally, you do not want to spend oodles of time and expensive ingredients and exchange for cookies of less effort and quality.
  • Cardinal Rule:  no substituting homemade with store bought  if that happens, you  either keep her/his portion of your cookies, or depending how insulting that store bought cookie is–say an Oreo–you pelt them with their share of your cookies  and blacklist them from future Cookie Exchanges.
  • No cookies made ? Even though you agreed to participate,  save yourself the embarrassment, call in sick.
  • A successful Cookie Exchange should be photographed and accompanied with recipes–in a number of years,  you’ll have a book!
  • Give ribbons for the best decorated, flavorful, etc.–a quality control incentive.

****Better yet, sign up for a Cookie Exchange offered through Community Education of your local school where you can go and make and exchange cookies in one night.  This way, you get an assortment, somewhat smaller, but you don’t have the clutter and disruption in your kitchen, you meet new people, plus you may  gain a a few tips and baking shortcuts, and you can always blame the instructor!

Warning: Study Shows Plastics #3, #6. & #7 May Lower Children’s IQ’s

This month CNN reported that common household items may cause lower IQ’s in children.  Researches at Columbia have found that a plasticides  found in food storage containers, toiletries, laundry products and, yes, even dolls .lower IQ’s in children significantly.

Phthalates have been banned in children’s toys , products and in cosmetics in Europe for some time  and now researchers are recommending pregnant women also should limit their exposure and should use glass containers instead of plastic for cooking in microwaves.

Read more by clicking here!

What To Buy And What Not To Buy At Warehouse Clubs

A MarketWatch  post today  reminds us all that there are advantages and disadvantages to buying in bulk.  One advantage is saving money by cutting the cost of the unit price.  However, as MarkdownMom has pointed out, the savvy shopper needs to look at the unit price and consider if buying from stores that routinely offer sale prices and coupons is a better buy.

Another important consideration in this article is to really analyze your family needs.  Unless you have a large family or extended family to share the large quantities, it doesn’t make sense to buy perishables since it is unlikely that you’ll use a large quantity of this item prior to their expiration date.  A gallon of catsup doesn’t make sense for two people, etc.

Also remember that certain stores known for a particular item will have better prices  than the warehouse stores.  CD’s, DVDs, etc. are often lower in price at Target, Amazon, WalMart, etc.

However, warehouse stores are excellent for lower prices on meat, tires and batteries, medications and buying in bulk can often save you time, gasoline, and inconvenience and  necessity of multiple trips to keep items in stock for your family.

5 of MarkdownMom’s Favorite Quick & Easy Holiday Fudge Recipes Plus 1

Cookie, candy,  bars and all sorts of bite-size goodies make the holidays more festive and are great  treats to give and receive.  Here are a few of MDM’s favorite candy recipes collected from the internet:

1.  Two Minute Microwave Fudge.  Always a favorite and easy to make.

1 lb powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Sift powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt into a 1 quart microwave safe bowl.
Stir in milk and vanilla.
Mix well.
Place butter on top.
Microwave on high, 2 minutes.
Beat with wooden spoon until smooth.
Stir in nuts (OPTIONAL).
Spread in 8 X 8 X 2 inch baking pan.
Chill about 1 hour or until firm.
Cut into pieces.

+1.  Crock Pot Chocolate Candy by My Fridge Food

2.  Easy Peanut Butter Cup Fudge posted by Kitchen Krafts

3.  Homemade Pumpkin Fudge by ZipList

4.  Quick and  Easy Peppermint Fudge by Food Network

5.  Super Easy Chocolate Cherry Fudge by Group Recipes

Fiber Content & Why It’s Important To Your Fashion Budget

Vintage designs of bygone eras are often recycled by fashion designers.  With the retro look, consumers have been able to shop the thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, and even tag sales to get that chic old is new again at bargain prices.

Part of the reason that these clothes have withstood the wear and tear of time is that good fashion design is tweaked and recycled but essentially doesn’t  go out of fashion, items  were preserved by proper laundering and storage, and that quality fabrics endure despite the ravages of time.  Fabric content is important especially if you look at your clothes as an investment and equally important as a designer label.   For instance:


Acrylic is not a natural product, but one produced by combinations of chemicals.  First produced in the 1940’s by DuPont under the name Orlan, acrylic is a polycrylonitriles, a possible carcinogen.  Acrylic in apparel is often used as a substitute for wool especially for those who are allergic to wool, and is considered warm,  soft, stain and wrinkle resistant, and takes and hold colors well.  In 2013,  India, a producer of the world’s least expensive cotton, sought to raise its’ price by placing a cap  on the production and export of cotton.  This fueled a price hike that sent the fashion world scurrying since it required manufacturers to buy cotton at higher rates.  From that date, many items in the fashion industry began selling designs blended with acrylic, or totally made with acrylic to keep their retail prices at a level acceptable to customers still dealing with the economic recession.

Although acrylic produces an incredibly soft cloth widely used also as a substitute for cashmere, it does require quite a bit of care.  Despite improvements, its’ surface is vulnerable to pilling and. wear.  It is susceptible to heat, shrinkage and stretching, and to static.

Be sure to remember, that this product is relatively inexpensive, more so than the natural organic sources of cloth, and when buying, prices should reflect that difference.  Designers have been able to maintain lower prices to the consumer by using this substitute,  and that is why MarkdownMom recommends only buying if you want it to last for a season or two and it’s at an incredible markdown.  Otherwise, pay a  little more for a sale item that is 100% organic.

Promotions Galore!

Yes, it’s that time of the year, when retailers look at the  sales and try to boost their numbers with special promotions.  Here are the latest:

Macy’s Featured Promotions:

  • Shop Limited-Time deals at Macy’s One Day Sale! Valid 12/9-12/10.  Take an  extra 25% off  Green Monday.   Today only:  Promo Code Friend.  Free Shipping with $50 order.
  • Extra 20% off Extra Special Sale at macys.com with code EXTRA. Valid 12/11-12/15
  • Take an Extra 20% off Super Saturday Sale with code SUPER at macys.com. Valid 12/12-12/13
  • Today Only! Take an Extra 20% off Super Sunday Sale with code SUNDAY at macys.com. Valid 12/12-12/13

Crocs™ Promotions:

  • 30% off sitewide Green Monday.
  • 30% off Warm  and Fuzzy –up to 3 pairs fuzz.  Valid 12/09-12/15.  Promo Code:  H14C-2VWGDM2HT43Z
  • $15 off Purchase of $60 through 12/24.  Promo Code: H14A-XVPV6P9Z7Q6R.

Clarks® Promotions:

  • Extra 10% Off Sale Items through 12/11.  Promo Code: DELIGHT.
  • 20% Off Entire Purchase.  Valid through 12/24.  Promo Codes:  H14DM8W9BJ  & H14DM64ZBO.

Eddie Bauer® Promotions:

  • 40% OFF today only entire purchase + Free Shipping.  Promo Code: GREEN.  Valid Only 12/08.

It’s The 12 Days Of Giveaways From Ellen The Generous!

It’s that time of the year again when the studio audience at the Ellen degeneres Show  receive oodles of gifts for 12 days.  Lest’ you feel left out, at home viewers can enter to win, too!

Ellen this year is giving you 18 ways to enter to win, e.g. newsletter, instagram, you tube, facebook, etc.  Just click here for a chance to win!  Good luck!

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