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Yet Another Ehow -- Frugal Christmas!

That's the amusing little graphic I did off the top of my head for How to Have a Merry Frugal Christmas when I was still awake at about midnight last night during The Longest Night. I decided to write up some frugal tips, didn't feel like doing another painting demo.

One frugal holiday decorating tip too small to write an entire eHow on -- why not string packing popcorn instead of or in addition to real popcorn? Strings of packing popcorn as garlands would last from year to year and it's something cool to do with the stuff. You can spray paint or paint it gold or roll it in glue and then glitter to make them shiny. A pump spray bottle with poster paint thinned to where it's like juice might be a good way to do that without wrecking the environment with a can of spray paint.

So I drew a red Christmas ball with a green dollar sign on it, this time using my good Erengi oil pastels because they were handy. Scanned it, started writing. Wrestled with eHow which tanked my first draft all but the first three steps because I hadn't remembered to "save and preview" after every step. Grr. However, rewriting it from scratch did help and shortened the tips and the article, it came out better for that.

Synchronicity: after we were all out in the living room enjoying our Yuletide (description under the cut among many other things), we got to talking about decorations and trees. They're planning to get a larger artificial tree after the holiday when they're marked down and some of next year's decorations. While we brainstormed all the crafts and ideas, I was hearing all the ideas for a Victorian Christmas that I put in the article as a Merry Frugal Christmas coming from her! It's fun to recognize where my good article ideas come from.

She always wanted a Royal Street traditional Victorian tree with white lights, bows, antique styles of decorations including holiday images cut out of cards and pasted back to back with lace and glitter edging, crochet and tatted snowflakes. The white lights made these Not Quite Period but they are very traditional for New Orleans. Thus we'll all make cool Victorianish ornaments in quantity and not spend as much money as time making it... The Steampunk Christmas! Karl is talking about making tiny tea-candle powered steam engines to dance around in dishes of water for next year's big production.

I love it here and love everyone here so much. Read on under the cut...

I should have been writing these articles earlier, like right after Thanksgiving, but didn't really have time or get into writing them till now. Please click, skim and star it high -- if you don't want to do five stars, message me your critique and I'll go improve the article. It's like any other stars system, fives get it visibility and anything lower starts dropping it permanently -- you can't change your rating. I usually do five Stars on anything I like and just skip to message critique instead if I don't think it deserves that, because I don't like hurting other writers' income. So it is possible to be both Honest and Generous in starring. Any clicks and stars on earlier eHows help me a lot too!

I am trying to build traffic on my eHows so that I can pour it right back into the business and buy a good Logitech webcam in January. Despite the popularity of good How to Draw and How to Paint videos on YouTube and on eHow and anywhere that you can link YouTube videos to, there aren't very many of them. The good ones are sometimes just short previews to a DVD course you can buy from the artist -- not a bad idea, I may do some of those eventually too. But I'm thinking of doing ten-minute demos that are complete short lessons in themselves, for free, to drive traffic to www.explore-oil-pastels-with-robert-sloan.com and work my way up to where I can do longer ones that are worth buying the DVD.

What I might do is create a DVD that has a compilation of all the short videos together with a longer one, since you can put two or three hours of video onto one DVD. I'd like to make sure when I do finally have the practice to create one to sell that the buyer gets good value for it -- that the DVD becomes something important in your personal library. This means I'll be doing everything from cleaning up my art area to create a good backdrop for the videos to practicing, editing, lighting, maybe having to buy more lights to make sure there's good lighting -- but judging from the quality of what I've seen, even having spoken instruction and actual demonstration included instead of just a fast-forward view of the artist working or a series of slides with music behind it is going to be a big improvement.

So please, check out my articles! You can click on my name once you're there to get to my profile and see my other articles, or you can go to my DeviantARt page to see the entire long list of articles and pick your favorite topics. Comments and critique are both appreciated, please message critique to me here though, since it'll look silly permanently in the comments thread once it's fixed.

Last night, Kitten and Karl lit a seven day candle and set it in the window to burn all night on The Longest Night. This morning is sunny and it was magical. The tree is out in the living room all lit with multicolored flashing lights, my oil pastel decorations, paper snowflakes and our twelve foot colored on each ring paper chain merrily draped over the window. Each of the kittenlets had a HUGE stack of presents!

Karl's mom sent them each a homemade quilt -- bright and grand with lots of dark and light contrast in simple squares with bright red backing. She also sent Sascha some pretty clothes and Gaby a Thomas the Train book/toy that has a wheel and buttons that produce train sounds and special effects. She also sent Sascha a Disney Princess arithmetic set in a zippered pink portfolio and Gaby a blue similar portfolio with a Learning Set that seems to be more about writing but may have some math in it.

Kitten and Karl got both of them a big fancy easel set from Blick that has a white board on one side for markers and a green board for chalk on the other, that's permanently out in the living room.

Sascha drew on it with the markers and very carefully capped and put away each one before picking a new color. She loves drawing and then wiping it off, I think she drew about a dozen times in ten minutes. I didn't realize how fascinated she'd be with being able to remove color that completely from something she drew!

They both really liked the meercats I got for them. They dove for the meercats first thing in the treasure pile and Sascha would not let go of her meercat. She occasionally tried to nab Gaby's meercat too. She's playing with it the way she always does with her stuffed Simba and she has decided it's Flower. So they have Flower and Zaphod now to play with all the time, though we have to watch and make sure Zaphod doesn't wind up in Sascha's custody too often.

Yesterday, Kitten baked whole wheat bread. Unlike the whole wheat bread from the store, she doesn't mix white flower in it -- that's what gives it the bitter undertaste and the things that get stuck in your teeth are additions to make sure you know it's wheat bread. Hers is healthier and very dense. I made a slice of toast with it and it was good solid toastable bread with a much better, nutty flavor.

This morning she sliced the loaf and made French Toast ala Petit Chat -- spiced and flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon and other happy holiday spices, dripping with honey and butter, with reconstituted freeze-dried strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all over it and decorated with banana slices. For most of my life I'm used to "cereal in commercials has fruit on it to make it more appealing" and maybe once in a while back then I'd get fruit on cereal -- because the fruit is there to make something dull a bit tastier.

Putting it on French Toast, one of the fanciest breakfast foods around, is definitely Gilding the Lily -- and it works, it's awesome. It's comparable to Belgian waffles smothered in berries but better, eggier with the honey connecting all of it. Best of all this is all healthy food, exactly the sorts of foods that help you metabolize things like bacon and butter and not get sick from cholesterol.

Two or three weeks ago she was working on her nutrition research for her copywriting articles and came across an article critical of the health-police Death To Cholesterol approach. Turns out there is some very interesting research on the effects of cholesterol and that it's not necessarily a bad thing in itself. This makes sense to me because all those quiche-eating wine-drinking French people wind up skinny and longlived and healthy on a diet that would make an American get fat and sick.

Lo, it has to do with how refined sugars and refined white flour and products make with them work in the body and you can't metabolize the eggs and bacon and stuff properly with large quantities of that junk coming in. It boiled down to a health choice-- cut down to "treats only" for refined sugars and white flour, or cut out eggs, animal fats and meats. Well, you can guess how that struck me. No more worrying about eggs and butter and bacon? Sign me up!

In practice, the eggs and bacon and high protein and animal fats give me real energy and I feel better and do more when I eat those things. Potatoes -- just actual potatoes with butter on instead of white-bread toast with butter on, two comparable things for flavor and ease of fixing it -- do not have the health problems of the white bread. So white bread is now a rare treat and so are things made with white flour, but Kitten believes in keeping unhealthy treats rare and appreciated so we are also having traditional sugar cookies and other holiday treats that are less healthful.

Corn syrup, which winds up in most canned fruits and a lot of things you wouldn't expect it, is one of the worst offenders. She explained it in detail and it made it make sense that Americans eating typical American food would wind up packing on the pounds and people eating things in other countries that use the same ingredients but are prepared differently, just get strong and healthy. Viva la quiche!

But we might get that fancy French toast more often now and she bought TONS of meat. She bought a bulk lot of beef, pork and poultry from a rancher and the big sarcophagus-freezer in the garage now has about six months of meat on a happy high-on-the-hog diet and a year if we were frugal with it. She also bought grains in 50 pound bags -- wheat, oats that aren't rolled and taste better than rolled oats, barley, stuff like that. We have a LOT of food and it's all very basic ingredients.

We have been eating a lot better lately even than before, and it's all due to her investing in those bulk food orders and getting creative in the kitchen. I bless whoever wrote and researched that Cholesterol Skeptics article because it's made my life a lot better.

Tonight we have Cornish Game Hens and a big ham which will turn into a week's leftovers and good food without much cooking involved. The tightwad way to save time cooking is to do lots of it at once and prepare a week's meals at a time, in essence making your own instant food and just putting it in containers in the fridge. This actually does take less time than cooking every day the way people who shop and cook daily do -- don't bother doing that unless it's a hobby and you genuinely enjoy it. She also just bought some fancy wonderful cheeses, a cheddar with porter (Irish beer) in it and a piece of wonderful blue cheese for me -- VERY blue cheese with lots of dark marbling, mmmm!

Even the cats are going to feast. We ran out of cat food when I emptied the bag last night, but the stores are closed on Sunday so we can't get more till tomorrow. Thus the cats will be served tuna in oil, which will be very good for their silky coats and treat them to their own special holiday feast. I might tear off and debone a few tiny pieces of game hen to share with them too if they show any interest in it.

Happy Yule to everyone! Ari Cat sheds his Cat Hairs of Inspiration on all of you and Gemini the Purring One does her loud motorboat purring!
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 22nd, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
Happy Yule!

Reading this really makes me want to do some baking, especially of bread. I bought some whole wheat flour a little while ago, as well as some mixed grains to throw in to make multigrain bread, and I'd love to make another batch of my Accidental Garlic Bread (it was supposed to be herb bread with ranch dressing powder, but I put garlic powder in instead, and it turned out incredibly well).

I'd love to start getting things in bulk more often. Rice, oats, grains, that sort of stuff is easily obtainable from the local Bulk Barn, but for some reason, they never have plain old beans. Oh, they've got about 5 different kinds of beans, but not the kind you just get in a can of beans from the store. I guess there isn't much call for that around here.

I've also found a lot of websites and books lately that detail very frugal recipes, many of which sound delicious, so I'm going to have to give them a try at some point.
Dec. 22nd, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
Oooh your Accidental Garlic Bread sounds yummy, could see it dripping with real butter and fresh from the oven. Buying grains and things in bulk like that is very frugal and it gives this great sense of security with knowing you're not running out of food whatever else is going on. Kitten even stocked up on things like the freeze dried strawberries and blueberries and raspberries that have been turning up in all her grain dishes.

Sounds like fun with the cookbooks and websites, since you cook.
May. 11th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
You should post your articles on firehow.com also.

I am earning money from both for the same amount of work.
May. 11th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
Re: Hey
Question, what kind of money are you getting from Firehow? I've been doing Hubpages, Helium, a bunch of them on and off but eHow seems to be the one that actually pays out. It wouldn't actually be worth the trouble to repost everything unless it actually pays out decently.

I've bookmarked it and I'll have a look at it, but the way I do my articles doesn't lend itself to easy reposting.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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