special occasions http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12966/all en-US 4 Reasons You Should Splurge on Experiences, Not Things http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-you-should-splurge-on-experiences-not-things <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-reasons-you-should-splurge-on-experiences-not-things" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000078212251_Large.jpg" alt="spending money on an experience" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The 1980s might feel like ancient history, but whether or not you lived through the days of big hair, denim, and constantly winding your cassette tapes back with a ballpoint pen, the 1980s staple of excess was pretty much universal. And has been ever since. Accumulating stuff has never been hotter. Think <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003F29D44/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B003F29D44&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=EI2KTCZ32FOCDE3F">Wall Street</a>, and Gordon Gekko's motto, &quot;Greed is good.&quot;</p> <p>Excessive consumption seemed cool in the '80s, but so did mullet haircuts and shoulder pads. Like the mullet, this relentless consumerism should be consigned to history. Because we have evolved, and we now have a better understanding of what makes us happy, and why. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-stop-your-mindless-spending?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Stop Your Mindless Spending</a>)</p> <p>Don't chase stuff, chase experience. It'll make you happier. Here are four reasons why.</p> <h2>Money Doesn't Make You Happy</h2> <p>Song writers have long known that money can't buy you love, and also, that the best things in life are free. And while it's true that there are some ways in which money can&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-money-does-buy-happiness">positively influence our outlook</a> and prospects, this only works up to a certain point.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~easterl/papers/Happiness.pdf">Easterlin Paradox</a> is the classic research into the topic, named after a 1974 book chapter, penned by economist Richard Easterlin. Although the 40 years since then has provided plenty of time for other research to debate the merits of this theory, Easterlin surmised that money makes you happy only to a certain extent. Once basic needs are met, the impact of money on happiness diminishes, and ultimately, an excess of cash can cause stress, too.</p> <p>Views on this idea will vary based on personal experience, and some subsequent research has heartily <a href="http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/10/30/people-in-emerging-markets-catch-up-to-advanced-economies-in-life-satisfaction/">agreed with the original premise</a>, while other researchers have set out to disprove the hypothesis. A 2010 research paper found that <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/107/38/16489.abstract">$75k is the magic number</a>, after which, income does not directly correlate with happiness. Although we are schooled to equate material things with reaching success, these same items do not lead to emotional wellbeing. All the more reason to use any spare cash to buy experiences, not things.</p> <h2>Stuff Loses Its Appeal &mdash; Memories Do Not</h2> <p>In a 2014 journal article, wonderfully named, &quot;<a href="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5394dfa6e4b0d7fc44700a04/t/547d571fe4b094d782c0e634/1417500738967/Gilovich+Kumar+%28in+press%29+Always+Have+Paris+Advances.pdf">We'll always have Paris</a>,&quot; psychologists Thomas Gilovich and Amit Kumar explore the longer term impact on happiness from experiences compared to material purchases. Their research found firmly in favor of spending money on experience rather than things.</p> <p>The scientific key to their research is &quot;hedonic adaptation,&quot; meaning that we get used to things we have, and therefore the pleasure we associate with them fades away. If you buy a new tech gadget, for example, you might experience some initial high, but this can be eaten away as the product degrades, as your friends parade their newer versions, and as warranties or repairs add onto the initial cost. After a relatively short time, you're used to having your new toy. The novelty has worn off, and you no longer derive pleasure from it. Hedonic adaptation has set in.</p> <p>On the other hand, that skydive, dream vacation, or meal out with friends lives forever in your memory &mdash; often getting better over time, rather than worse, aided by our natural inclination to remember things fondly with rose-tinted flashbacks.</p> <h2>Experience Is Social</h2> <p>A strong argument in favor of spending money on experiences rather than things is not about the experiences at all. It's about the people we share them with.</p> <p>Experiences are often naturally social events, and they strengthen the bonds with others who make us happy. Also, experiences are better shared than the act of buying stuff. The tales that you share over the dinner table with friends in years to come are much more likely to be about the time Uncle John got sunburnt on vacation, rather than the awesome SUV you drove there in.</p> <h2>Material Success Can Be Transient</h2> <p>Even the very oldest of Millennials joined the workforce only a few years before the Great Recession rocked the world, and for those graduating after, life has been even tougher. It's hardly surprising that Millennials are driving the sharing/gig economy more than any other generation. Research shows that they will value <a href="http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/">access to, not ownership</a> of material things, shifting the emphasis away from actual consumption.</p> <p>Growing environmental awareness has its part to play in this shift, but having experienced the struggle of recession firsthand, Millennials are also conscious of the fact that material goods are transient and could be taken from you in an instant. Memories, on the other hand, can not be taken away &mdash; making spending on experiences, rather than things, the natural choice for this generation.</p> <p><em>What do you think? Tell us in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-you-should-splurge-on-experiences-not-things">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-great-things-to-do-with-50">50 Great Things to Do With $50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-prescription-drug-coupons">Don&#039;t Use Your Prescription Drug Coupons Until You Read This</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Shopping events experiences memories special occasions Splurge Thu, 21 Apr 2016 10:01:03 +0000 Claire Millard 1694626 at http://www.wisebread.com Eat Like a King: Menus and Recipes for Royalty http://www.wisebread.com/eat-like-a-king-menus-and-recipes-for-royalty <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eat-like-a-king-menus-and-recipes-for-royalty" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4105519211_a8f87ce2a.jpg" alt="Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall" title="Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Royal Wedding is just days away, and blue-blood mania has reached fever pitch.</p> <p>But unless you&rsquo;re socializing in the same circles as Elton and the Beckhams, you&rsquo;ll have to watch the pomp and ceremony within the confines of your humble abode (or streaming live on your computer in your cubicle) like the rest of us.</p> <p>Even though we&rsquo;re not important enough to witness history happen in person, however, doesn&rsquo;t mean we can&rsquo;t still swank it up &mdash; while also minding our budgets. That's why I&rsquo;ve asked five celebrated chefs to put together menus fit for a future (and, in a perfect world, frugal) king. Here are the dishes they'd serve to the world's most important dinner guests if the task was up to them, along with some of their more cost-conscious recipes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-like-royalty-on-20-000-a-year">Live Like Royalty on $20,000 a Year</a>)</p> <h2>Chef Alan Coxon</h2> <p><em>British TV&nbsp;personality, author, and &quot;Food Archeologist&quot;</em></p> <p>&ldquo;Factoid: Diamonds set in gold or silver became popular as betrothal rings among wealthy Venetians toward the end of the 15th century,&rdquo; imparts <a href="http://www.alancoxon.com/">Chef Coxon</a>.</p> <h3>Menu</h3> <ul> <li>Classic Kir Royal</li> <li>Lobster Vodka Cocktail</li> <li>Pot-Roast Venison with Prunes and Blushing Pears</li> <li>Summer Raspberry Meringue Tier</li> </ul> <p><strong>Classic Kir Royal</strong></p> <ul> <li>1-2 tbsp cassis</li> <li>6 oz. champagne</li> </ul> <p>Pour the cassis into the wine glass. Add the champagne. Serve.</p> <p>If the cassis is added first, it is evenly mixed with the champagne. If the champagne is added first, the cassis is not evenly mixed (due to the smaller volume of cassis relative to the champagne). The former approach gives a more even taste and is preferable from that perspective, whereas the latter approach gives a more pleasing appearance with the uneven mixing of the cassis resulting in a fine pink at the bottom of the glass shading up to a bright red at the top. The ratio of cassis to champagne depends on personal preference.</p> <h2>Chef Gurpareet Bains</h2> <p><em>Author of the cookbook &quot;Indian Superfood&quot;</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.gurpareetbains.co.uk/#/welcome/">Chef Bains</a> says, &ldquo;Like the average man, the future King of England also has to keep fit, even when he&rsquo;s enjoying Britain&rsquo;s favorite food,&nbsp;Indian curry. Here we load him up with antioxidants, with a menu apt for Royalty, yet frugal enough for the British government to give its nod of approval during this time of a recession.&rdquo;</p> <h3>Menu</h3> <ul> <li>Oyster Pakoras with Punch and Gusto Fresh Cilantro Salsa</li> <li>Salmon and Potato Biryani with Cherry Tomatoes, Lime, and Cilantro</li> <li>Black Rice Pudding</li> </ul> <p><strong>Oyster Pakoras with Punch and Gusto Fresh Cilantro Salsa</strong></p> <p>Oysters are loaded with zinc, a key nutrient for testosterone production, to help keep Prince William in tiptop shape.</p> <ul> <li>1 onion, cut into quarters</li> <li>4 garlic cloves, peeled</li> <li>1 green chili</li> <li>7 tbsp gram (chickpea) flour</li> <li>3/4 tsp salt</li> <li>1 tsp garam masala</li> <li>12 oysters, &quot;shucked&quot; and on the half shell</li> <li>Olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying</li> <li>6 tsp Punch and Gusto Fresh Cilantro Salsa (see below)</li> <li>A few lemon wedges and chopped fresh dill, to serve</li> </ul> <p><em>Frugal tip: Swap oysters for mussels!</em></p> <p>First, you will need to prepare the pakora batter. To do this, place the onion, garlic, chili, gram flour, salt, garam masala, and 3 tbsp cold water into a food processor and blend until you have a batter that resembles a &quot;runny&quot; porridge mixture &mdash; to get the right consistency you may need to add a little more cold water or gram flour.</p> <p>Pour the batter into a bowl. Mix the oysters into the batter, making sure they are thoroughly coated.</p> <p>Pour enough oil into a deep saucepan so that the oil is at least 3 cm. deep. Heat on high until the oil is almost smoking.</p> <p>Take the oysters out of the batter individually, shaking off any excess batter mix (discard any leftover batter). Fry in the hot oil for 15&ndash;20 seconds or until the oysters are golden brown all over &mdash; you may need to turn them over in the oil. Remove with a spatula and drain on a paper towel.</p> <p>Serve the oyster pakoras immediately on their shells, each with a 1/2 teaspoon dollop of the cilantro salsa, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of chopped dill.</p> <p><strong>Punch and Gusto Fresh Cilantro Salsa</strong></p> <ul> <li>2 large tomatoes</li> <li>1 large Granny Smith apple (or any sour-tasting apple)</li> <li>1 small onion, cut into quarters</li> <li>2&frac34; oz. chopped fresh cilantro</li> <li>1 garlic clove, peeled</li> <li>1&ndash;2 green chilies</li> <li>1 tsp lemon juice</li> <li>Salt, to taste</li> </ul> <p>Start by making a few small and not very deep surface cuts in the tomatoes, and place them in a deep bowl. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the tomatoes and allow them to sit in the water for 2&ndash;3 minutes.</p> <p>In the meantime, peel, core, and quarter the apple and place in a food processor.</p> <p>Drain the tomatoes, then peel off and discard the skins. Place the tomatoes in the food processor, together with the onion, chopped cilantro, garlic, chilies, and lemon juice, and blitz until you have a pesto-like consistency (you may need to add a few drops of cold water to achieve the right consistency). Season to taste with salt.</p> <p>Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.</p> <h2>Chef Jose De Mereilles</h2> <p><em>Chef and owner of NYC's famed Brasserie Le Marais</em></p> <p>About his royal-inspired menu, <a href="http://lemarais.net/home.php">Chef De Mereilles</a> remarks, &quot;It has the basic elegance of fine ingredients chosen for their rare use, yet none are hard to find, and turns the austerity of the basics like chicken soup, cod fish, and beef into something seemingly more glamorous. Each dish takes care to prepare, as if a kitchen filled with a king's staff is working, yet one person can do it alone. The cost is down to earth while the taste is out of this world.&quot;</p> <h3>Menu</h3> <ul> <li>Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup</li> <li>Salad of Roasted Pears, Watercress, and Toasted Pecans</li> <li>Poached Cod Provencal</li> <li>Cabernet Braised Short Ribs of Beef</li> <li>Caramelized Pineapple with Coconut Bavarian Cream and Pineapple Chip</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cabernet Braised Short Ribs of Beef</strong></p> <ul> <li>2 tbsp peanut oil</li> <li>1 onion, medium dice</li> <li>1 stalk celery, medium dice</li> <li>1 small carrot, medium dice</li> <li>4 cloves of garlic</li> <li>6 pieces of beef short ribs</li> <li>2 tbsp of tomato paste</li> <li>1 cup of all-purpose flour</li> <li>1 bottle of cabernet sauvignon</li> <li>1 bunch of fresh thyme</li> <li>2 fresh bay leaves</li> <li>Salt and black pepper</li> </ul> <p>Heat a large braising dish to medium heat and add the oil. Season the short ribs with salt and black pepper and brown them in the hot oil on all sides. Remove the ribs.</p> <p>Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to the oil and sauté until softened and then browned.</p> <p>Add the tomato paste to the vegetables, and then cook the tomato paste for about another 4 minutes.</p> <p>Add the flour and mix thoroughly with the vegetables. The mixture will become dry in clumpy in appearance. Add the wine and mix in well.</p> <p>Let this cook until it become very thick.</p> <p>Add the short ribs to the mix and then add enough water just to cover the meat.</p> <p>Bring the meat up to a boil and then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Let cook on the low heat for roughly 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. If you wish, you could also place in a 350&deg;F oven for 2&frac12; to 3 hours.</p> <p>Remove the meat from the dish and then, if necessary, put the dish back on the stove to reduce the liquid to the desired thickness. Strain the sauce and then either serve or cook until later use.</p> <h2>Chef Tory McPhail</h2> <p><em>Executive Chef of Commander's Palace in New Orleans</em></p> <p>&ldquo;I love cooking for a great party. If I was cooking for a royal wedding I&rsquo;d want a menu that was a taste of home with elegant presentation and surprises that create memories for the guests,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.commanderspalace.com/">Chef McPhail</a> says.</p> <h3>Menu</h3> <ul> <li>Soft Shell Crab Bisque</li> <li>Creole Cream Cheese Gnocchi and Crawfish</li> <li>Oyster and Absinthe &quot;Dome&quot;</li> <li>Pecan-Crusted Gulf Fish</li> <li>Tequila Mockingbird 2</li> <li>Foie Gras &quot;Du Monde&quot;</li> <li>Veal Chop Tchoupitoulas</li> <li>Creole Bread Pudding Souffle</li> </ul> <p><strong>Tequila Mockingbird 2</strong></p> <ul> <li>2 oz. Reposado tequila</li> <li>1 oz. limoncello</li> <li>1 oz. fresh lemon juice</li> <li>2 drops Angostura bitters</li> <li>1 oz. simple syrup , or more to taste</li> <li>1 lemon twist, for garnish</li> </ul> <p>Fill a margarita glass with ice to chill and set aside. Combine the tequila, limoncello, lemon juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Add the simple syrup, adding more if necessary. Strain the drink into the chilled glass, garnish with the lemon twist, and serve immediately.</p> <h2>Chef Angela McKeller</h2> <p><em>Chef, author, and host of the podcast &quot;Kick Back and Kook!&quot;</em><a href="http://www.kickbackkook.com"><br /> </a></p> <p><a href="http://www.kickbackkook.com/">Chef McKeller</a> says, &ldquo;With Prince William's upcoming nuptials, perhaps you're wondering how you, too, can make your special someone feel like royalty. Eating like royalty doesn't have to cost a fortune, only the short time it takes to put passion on a plate for that special king or queen of your household. With unique ingredients combined with using those already commonly found in your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stock-a-natural-food-pantry-for-less">pantry</a>, you'll see how easy it is to dine like royalty while protecting your paycheck.&rdquo;</p> <h3>Menu</h3> <ul> <li>Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto</li> <li>Simple Leek Salad with a Quick and Easy Vinaigrette</li> <li>Baked Pheasant with Rich Cherry Chutney</li> <li>Honey-Glazed Carrots with Fennel</li> <li>Cherry Meringue Mousse&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p><strong>Honey Glazed Carrots with Fennel</strong></p> <ul> <li>1 cup sliced carrots</li> <li>3 tbsp honey</li> <li>2 tbsp light brown sugar</li> <li>1 tbsp lemon juice</li> <li>Chopped chives or fennel for garnish, if desired</li> </ul> <p>Place 1 in. of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add carrots.</p> <p>Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until tender.</p> <p>Drain liquid from carrots.</p> <p>In a small skillet, combine the honey, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Cook and stir until bubbly.</p> <p>Add carrots and stir until well coated.</p> <p>Serve topped with chopped chives if you want a contrast in flavor to the sweet or with fennel for a nice, liquorice flavor to compliment the honey and sugar glaze.</p> <p><strong>Cherry Meringue Mousse</strong></p> <ul> <li>1&frac14; cup whipping cream</li> <li>1 tbsp granulated sugar</li> <li>3.5 oz. ready-made meringue</li> <li>1 lb. fresh, pitted sweet cherries, chopped and reserving any juice</li> <li>1 tbsp powdered sugar</li> </ul> <p>Place the whipping cream in a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, and whip with an electric mixer until the cream is light and fluffy. Do not over whip; the success of the dish requires softly whipped cream, not stiff peaks.</p> <p>Break the meringue into large bite-size chucks and gently stir into the cream. Don't worry if some of the meringue crumbles; add this too.</p> <p>Place half of the cherries into another large mixing bowl and press gently with the back of fork to break up the cherries slightly and release some of the juice. Stir gently into the whipped cream.</p> <p>Halve, then quarter the remaining cherries.</p> <p>Place the cream mixture into individual parfait glasses until nearly overflowing (like a peak).</p> <p>Top with a cherry with stem attached, chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and sprinkle with the confectioners/icing sugar before serving.</p> <p><em>To obtain the remaining recipes for the listed dishes, contact the author of this post, Mikey Rox, at mikey@paperroxscissors.com.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eat-like-a-king-menus-and-recipes-for-royalty">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-cheap-and-easy-crock-pot-recipes">25 Great, Cheap, and Easy Crock Pot Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-fantastic-lettuce-free-salads">13 Fantastic Lettuce-Free Salads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-turn-leftover-sweet-potatoes-and-other-starchy-foods-into-something-special">11 Ways to Turn Leftover Sweet Potatoes and Other Starchy Foods Into Something Special</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink cocktail recipes dinner ideas royalty special occasions Wed, 27 Apr 2011 09:48:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 531555 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 Valentine’s Day Desserts That Hit the (Sweet) Spot http://www.wisebread.com/14-valentine-s-day-desserts-that-hit-the-sweet-spot <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-valentine-s-day-desserts-that-hit-the-sweet-spot" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hand_heart.jpg" alt="Hand heart" title="Hand heart" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody knows that the best part about dinner is dessert.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s never truer than on Valentine&rsquo;s Day, when reaching confectionary euphoria is required to call the meal complete. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/valentines-day-on-a-budget">Valentine's Day on a Budget</a>)</p> <p>Here are 14 no-sweat recipes that all end with the singing of your praises.</p> <h3>1. Raspberry Cream Cupcakes</h3> <p c="">I fell head over heels the first time I made these <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/raspberry-cream-cupcakes-recipe/index.html">raspberry cream cupcakes</a> from Giada De Laurentiis, and every time I bring them to a function, people go berserk. The best part is that half the work&rsquo;s done for you because the base is a boxed cake mix. Just add a few more ingredients so you can call it homemade, and you&rsquo;ll have a light, fluffy, ultra-fresh treat that&rsquo;ll make &rsquo;em swoon.</p> <h3>2. Cupid&rsquo;s Cocoa-Fresa Freeze</h3> <p>Last February, a local restaurant held a contest where entrants were invited to create an original cocktail using a Bacardi product (the contest&rsquo;s sponsor) and aphrodisiac-inspired ingredients. I was lucky enough to be named one of five finalists, and even though I didn&rsquo;t take home the grand prize, you might just score with this recipe.</p> <p>Ingredients:</p> <p>12 ice cubes<br /> 4 strawberries<br /> 3 scoops Dutch chocolate ice cream<br /> 2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream<br /> 2 oz. Bacardi Superior Light Rum<br /> 1.5 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream<br /> 1.5 oz. Kahlua Mocha<br /> 2 oz. light cream<br /> Whipped topping<br /> Dark chocolate shavings<br /> Two heart-shaped straws</p> <p>Directions:</p> <p>Place ice cubes, light cream, and 3 strawberries in blender and blend on high for 15 seconds or until cubes are crushed and there are no large strawberry chunks.</p> <p>Add chocolate and vanilla ice creams and all three liquors and blend until frothy and smooth &mdash; about 25 seconds.</p> <p>Pour drink into tall pilsner glass (you can garnish glass with chocolate sauce beforehand if you prefer).</p> <p>Top with whipped topping and chocolate shavings.</p> <p>Garnish with remaining ripe strawberry and two heart-shaped straws for sharing.</p> <h3>3. Valentine&rsquo;s Berry Parfaits</h3> <p>You don&rsquo;t have to be a top chef to make a delicious dessert for your sweetie. This&nbsp;<a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/valentines-berry-parfaits-350161">no-fuss, no-flame parfait recipe</a> is perfect for those who want to impress without all the stress.</p> <h3>4. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries</h3> <p><a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chocolate-covered-strawberries-recipe/index.html">This recipe</a> for a tried-and-true classic couldn&rsquo;t be easier &mdash; and they&rsquo;re an elegant end to an already special supper.</p> <h3>5. Molten Lava Cakes</h3> <p>Who doesn&rsquo;t love a fresh-from-the-oven pastry with an ooey-gooey surprise inside? If that person exists, they&rsquo;re sure to be single. This <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/molten-lava-cakes-recipe/index.html">molten lava cakes recipe </a>will be an instant hit with you and your honey.</p> <h3>6. Oreo Truffles</h3> <p>There are so many tasty items I could have chosen from my friend Jen&rsquo;s Phood Phoria blog, but this&nbsp;<a href="http://jenshomecookin.blogspot.com/search/label/chocolate">Oreo truffles recipe</a> in particular looked too decadent and delicious to pass up. Oreos? Check. Cream cheese? Check. Chocolate coating? Double check. Be still my bursting heart.</p> <h3>7. The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies</h3> <p>When decorated, these&nbsp;<a href="http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/the-best-valentine-sugar-cookies/Detail.aspx">sugar cookies</a> look like oversized Necco Sweethearts. You can&rsquo;t go wrong there.</p> <h3>8. Fudge Pie</h3> <p>Kristl, author of <a href="http://www.thebudgetdiet.com">The Budget Diet</a> blog, sent me this wallet, but-not-so-waist-friendly recipe that could put even the most seasoned chocoholics in a cocoa coma.</p> <p>Ingredients:</p> <p>1 9&quot; frozen pie crust, unbaked (do not buy deep dish)<br /> 1/2 cup flour<br /> 1 cup sugar<br /> 1 teaspoon vanilla<br /> 2 eggs<br /> 1 stick butter, melted<br /> 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted</p> <p>Directions:</p> <p>Preheat oven to 350&deg;F.</p> <p>Mix together flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, melted butter and melted chocolate.&nbsp;Pour into unbaked pie crust.</p> <p>Bake 25 minutes.</p> <p>Cool 1 hour.&nbsp;Top with vanilla ice cream to serve.</p> <p>For an extra dose of decadence, drizzle with <a href="http://www.thebudgetdiet.com/homemade-hot-fudge-sauce">The Budget Diet&rsquo;s homemade hot fudge sauce</a>!</p> <h3>9. Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies</h3> <p>Tasty worlds collide in this <a href="http://bakingbites.com/2010/12/red-velvet-cheesecake-brownies/">red velvet cheesecake brownies</a> recipe that marries two sweet staples.</p> <h3>10. White Chocolate Clusters</h3> <p>Veer off the beaten path with this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foodandthings.com/2010/01/recipe-white-chocolate-clusters-for-valentines-day/">white chocolate clusters recipe</a> that combines chocolate's cocoa-butter-based cousin, dried cherries, and nuts.</p> <h3>11. Rum Cake Shooters</h3> <p>Angela Pritchett, an Examiner.com contributor from Kansas City, wrote to me with <a href="http://www.examiner.com/baking-in-kansas-city/rum-cake-shooters">this drunken recipe</a> that's sure<strong> </strong>to get the private party started.</p> <h3>12. Pistachio and Cinnamon Custard</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s no law that says after-dinner indulgences have to consist of chocolate and strawberries. This&nbsp;<a href="http://www.spiceislands.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/pistachio-and-saigon-cinnamon-custard/">nontraditional dessert</a> from Matt Armendariz for Spice Islands is just the thing to satisfy the nonconformist in your life.</p> <h3>13. Chocolate-Smothered Brie</h3> <p>Amy Reiley, author of <a href="http://www.forkmespoonme.com"><em>Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook</em></a>, thinks there's a disparity in the kind of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-way-to-your-honeys-heart-is-through-the-kitchen">pleasure that women and men find in food</a>. She says the following recipe was made especially for the fairer sex because &quot;both chocolate and cheese, the recipe's two main ingredients, contain phenylethylamine, PEA, a chemical believed to aid in stimulating sexual arousal &mdash; good for both men and women &mdash; but soft, ripe Brie emits an aroma that is said to trigger pheromone receptors in women, making this dish ladies' choice.&quot;</p> <p>You hear that, fellas? A generous serving of sweet and savory dairy helps get the job done.</p> <p>Ingredients:</p> <blockquote><p>2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced<br /> 1 1/2 teaspoons butter<br /> 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips<br /> 1/2 cup heavy cream<br /> 6 oz. wedge of ripe Brie<br /> 1 pint strawberries, washed with stems on<br /> 1/2 French baguette</p> <p>Directions:</p> <p>Put garlic on a baking tray and sprinkle chunks of butter on top. Toast under the broiler until just brown. Remove from broiler and toss the hard, golden chips in the melted butter and set aside to rest.</p> <p>Arrange the Brie and strawberries on a serving platter.</p> <p>In a double boiler or a metal mixing bowl fitted onto a small pot of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate chips with the cream over low heat, stirring steadily with a gentle motion. (Note: You can melt chocolate in the microwave, but it burns very easily this way. Only try this method if you feel sure of your technique.) When chocolate reaches a smooth, creamy texture, remove from heat and fold in the hard garlic chips.</p> <p>Smother the cheese with the hot chocolate and allow the sweet topping to drench a few berries.</p> </blockquote> <p>Serve immediately with a hunk of French bread and a total lack of inhibition.</p> <h3>14. Eclairs</h3> <p>My Mom-Mom &mdash; that's what people call their grandmothers where I come from &mdash; used to make chocolate eclairs (among many other yummy-to-my-tummy sweets, like mini black-bottom cupcakes that my fraternity brothers devoured the time she sent me back to school with a batch) all the time. She passed away in 2005, and in my heart there's an empty space that her made-with-love treats (and general presence) used to fill. I hope that you and yours can find something special to share in this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/eclairs">eclairs recipe</a>. It's not my Mom-Mom's original, but Martha Stewart's comes in a close second. What does that tell ya? Mmm-mmm-good.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-valentine-s-day-desserts-that-hit-the-sweet-spot">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ultra-quick-homemade-desserts">15 Ultra-Quick Homemade Desserts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/explaining-away-the-green-m-m">Explaining Away the Green M&amp;M</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-delicious-homemade-treats-your-valentine-will-love">15 Delicious Homemade Treats Your Valentine Will Love</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-104-sweet-ways-to-celebrate-valentines-day">Flashback Friday: 104 Sweet Ways to Celebrate Valentine&#039;s Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eat-like-a-king-menus-and-recipes-for-royalty">Eat Like a King: Menus and Recipes for Royalty</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink easy desserts special occasions Valentine's Day Wed, 09 Feb 2011 10:01:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 489145 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Save on Special-Occasion Clothing for Kids http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-on-special-occasion-clothing-for-kids <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-on-special-occasion-clothing-for-kids" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015231645XSmall.jpg" alt="Little boys in formal wear" title="Little boys in formal wear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At least a few times each year, my kids need to dress up for special occasions such as school or county-wide band concerts, awards ceremonies, and weddings. Acquiring appropriate attire can be time-consuming and costly, especially as children seem to outgrow clothing and shoes quickly.</p> <p>Over the years, I have discovered some ways of keeping my dollar outlay for special-occasion attire low for my children (both boys, now teenagers).</p> <h3>Determine What Kind of Attire Is Truly Needed</h3> <p>School-sponsored events often have published guidelines, which should be read carefully.</p> <p>Admittedly, some instructions are vague, asking parents to dress their children in clothing that is typically worn to church, which would mean letting my kids wear t-shirts, shorts, and sneakers to a special event. Similarly, some event sponsors caution parents not to buy new items or incur a financial hardship to acquire appropriate clothing. These instructions make me wonder if I am the only parent who does not always have formal clothing and dress shoes available at a moment&rsquo;s notice.</p> <p>Fortunately, most guidelines are more precise. The band director at my youngest son&rsquo;s middle school, for example, specifies dress shirts with ties, slacks, and dress shoes for boys and dresses for girls. My scrutiny tells me that a suit jacket is not required. Paying close attention and distinguishing requirements from suggestions are first steps in saving time and money.</p> <p>There are many occasions that have no requirements but rather a social obligation to dress appropriately, such as a wedding or high school graduation. Consider the desires of family members or close friends who are hosting&nbsp;these events. Think about whether professional photographs or family photos may be taken, and factor the significance of these images in choosing dresses, suits, etc. for your children and teens to wear.</p> <h3>Check Your Closets</h3> <p>You may have precisely what is needed somewhere in your home. A few days ago, my son asked me if he had a pair of khaki pants for a special event the next day; his question instigated a panic. I quickly realized that he did have several pairs of pants readily available (hand-me-downs from his older brother who attended a multi-day event that required these clothes, purchased at Goodwill).</p> <p>Even if the hanging-up clothes (dresses, slacks, suit jackets) in your daughter&rsquo;s or son&rsquo;s closet are too small, there may be appropriate clothing in another family member&rsquo;s closet. Consider what is ready to pass along from one sibling to another or which items a child can borrow from a parent. For example, my youngest son is able to borrow dress shoes from my husband as they currently wear the same shoe size.</p> <h3>Decide What You Want to Buy New</h3> <p>Review your family&rsquo;s calendar to check upcoming events. If you happen to have several special occasions in the span of a few months, then your cost per-wear for purchases will seem reasonable compared to buying a dress or suit that may be worn just once. Keeping this approach in mind, select items that will be appropriate for as many of these events as possible.</p> <p>Consider what items are essential and which are less important, and shop accordingly. Depending on your needs, you may want to spend most of your budget on a pair of well-fitted slacks and save on shoes.</p> <h3>Buy Ahead</h3> <p>Buy dress-up clothing in anticipation of special occasions, if you can find a bargain.</p> <p>My favorite sources have been <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ten-cents-an-item-for-high-end-childrens-clothes">children&rsquo;s clothing consignment sales</a> sponsored by local preschools and community groups. When my kids were younger, if I noticed a dress shirt for $5 or less, then I would go ahead and buy it; I gambled a few dollars that the clothing would be useful in hopes of avoiding much higher prices later. If the price was much steeper, say $25 for a nice pair of pants and jacket (no matter what brand or condition), then I would pass on the deal unless I was certain that my kids would need the items for a special event.</p> <p>When shopping these types of sales, I noticed that there were designer and upscale-brand dresses priced much lower than retail but still fairly high. These items were not as popular as sellers anticipated; most parents couldn&rsquo;t justify paying even $30 for a $100 item if they weren&rsquo;t positive their daughters would wear the dress later.</p> <h3>Borrow (and Share)</h3> <p>If either of my sons had some special occasion attire that would fit a friend&rsquo;s child, then I&rsquo;d gladly share. This arrangement works well for not-so-personal items such as dress shoes or a clip-on tie.</p> <h3>Learn to Sew</h3> <p>My visual-spatial capabilities and lack of patience with fashion details have prevented me from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-sew-easy-to-save">sewing</a> my children's clothes. But many people find sewing to be a wonderful frugal alternative to purchasing new items. Even if you don&rsquo;t want to create an entirely new garment, you can alter clothing yourself rather than paying someone else to do this task.</p> <h3>Activate Your Frugal Shopping Habits</h3> <p>You may have tactics for snagging deals on clothing and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-get-discounted-designer-shoes-without-using-ebay">shoes</a> for yourself; do the same for your kids.</p> <p>I have done well on occasion at <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategic-thriftstore-shopping">thrift shops</a>. One of my shopping excursions to Goodwill enabled me to buy several pairs of slacks for my son that were in much better condition than the ones purchased brand-new for my husband. Other trips have not been quite as successful but yielded an acceptable, if not elegant, suit jacket and tie. Some parents may frequent vintage shops and consignment stores.</p> <p>Hit your favorite stores for off-retail pricing and special sales. My shopping preferences are online at sites like <a href="http://www.overstock.com/">Overstock.com</a>&nbsp;for dresses (for myself, not my kids) or recommendations by <a href="http://www.shopittome.com/">ShopItToMe.com</a>.</p> <h3>Listen to Your Kids</h3> <p>Your children will often tell you of upcoming activities that may require special clothing. If you can anticipate these needs, you'll be more likely to find the right attire as inexpensively as possible, rather than having to rush to the mall to buy what they need the day before a big event.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-on-special-occasion-clothing-for-kids">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-back-to-school-items-you-can-buy-used">6 Back-to-School Items You Can Buy Used</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-a-back-to-school-capsule-wardrobe-thats-trendy-and-affordable">How to Build a Back-to-School Capsule Wardrobe That&#039;s Trendy and Affordable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-parents-can-save-on-back-to-school-clothes">6 Smart Ways Parents Can Save on Back-to-School Clothes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-saving-tricks-to-know-before-buying-an-engagement-ring">12 Money-Saving Tricks to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-places-to-get-cheaper-diapers">5 Places to Get Cheaper Diapers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Shopping children's clothing special occasions suits thriftstores Mon, 10 Jan 2011 15:00:10 +0000 Julie Rains 440096 at http://www.wisebread.com