Sunday, December 14, 2008

December Half Month Pulse Check: All set to break the bank

Photo courtsey: Mysza831

The bad news - We're spending a lot this month. In fact, at the time of writing this post, we have already spent the equivalent of our monthly budget.
The good news - The expenses were expected, planned for and didn't slow us down on our saving goals.

So yes, December has been an expensive month around here. The biggest expenses had been the gifts for friends and family and some of the preparations for the trip we're going to take during the Christmas break. It also helped that we had been planning this trip since September, so some of the costs were spread over the earlier months. It also helped us find the best deals for the gifts that our family members had asked for. Now that we have purchased the gifts and some other stuff for ourselves that we'll need while traveling, I hope that second half is not as expensive.

Other than the gifts, rest of the expenses have been fairly routine. In fact, in rest of the categories we actually spent lesser than usual.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hydrate and protect skin the natural way

This is a recipe that my mom uses in winters to keep skin clean and hydrated. It also repairs the skin that has been exposed to the harshness of cold winds.


Glycerin: 2 Tbsp
Rose water: 2 Tbsp
Lemon Juice: 2 Tbsp

Pour all these ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well. Keep this mixture with your skincare kit and apply a little whenever you've some time. It will feel a little sticky because of glycerin, so its best to use it when you're not expecting company, and have time to keep it on for half to one hour. In fact, I apply it right before sleeping so that I wake up with soft supple skin. Do apply it on your neck and arms as well.

Note: It okay to have a little tingling sensation in the beginning, it happens because those parts of your skin have been exposed to harsh weather and has been irritated already, the lemon juice in the mixture causes this tingling. If you continue to apply this mixture the skin will get repaired pretty soon and this irritation will go away.

If you try it, do let me know in comments how it went.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend project : Dress for my niece

I love the small sewing projects, there's something gratifying about spending 2 hours with needles and fabric and scissors and getting a little something made by myself at the end.

This weekend, I carved out a few hours to make this dress for my niece. We'll see her this Christmas for the first time, so I thought I'll just get her something handmade along with all the store bought stuff.

I just had to share it with you all.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Improving skin complexion with saffron

Winters are harsh on skin and if you have a dry skin like me, the cold dry winds can wreak havoc on the skin. I usually apply some extra measures to take care of my skin during cold weather. I have seen visible changes in my complexion over the years I have used this recipe.


Saffron: 3-4 leaves(petals)
Milk: 1 teaspoon
Sugar: A pinch
Olive oil or coconut oil: 2-3 drops
Water: 1 teaspoon
Plain bread: 1 slice


Pour water in a small vessel and add saffron leaves in it. Keep it overnight. By morning the water will turn yellowish, add milk and sugar to this water and then pour coconut oil drops in it. Now take a small piece of bread, dip it into this mixture and wipe your face with it. You might be left with bread crumbs on your face, Don't worry, just rub your face with your hands, they should be easy to get rid of. Try to not wash your face for 15 mins after applying this, then follow your usual cleansing and moisturizing routine.

Note: You can also do it in the night if that suits you better. Just know that you have to soak saffron for about 12 hours before you can use it.


Saffron is a time tested ingredient for improving complexion. The only catch is that it is considered to be a hot element, so using it in hot climates during summers results in small breakouts over facial skin. Its best to take advantage of this boon for skin during winters.

You can skip oil if you already have an oily skin and don't face any dryness problem in winters.

Ingredients Availability:

Except saffron, all other ingredients are usually present in your pantry. I found my pack of spanish saffron at Trader Joe for about $5. If you can't find it anywhere else, an Indian store will definitely carry some.

If you do try it and have some feedback on how you liked it, do let me know in the comments.

Friday, December 5, 2008

November Budget Report : Fallen off the bloggerwagon edition

This was one of those incidents where you just can't get around to doing what you would very much like to. I was under the weather for most of the thanksgiving weekend and so many things got piled up that I couldn't get to blogging even after getting better. Finally I got rid of this writer's block/over-activity and came up to share my budgeting results for the month of November.

Surprisingly, this month has been really good for budgeting. Despite spending money on several extra ( both needful and discretionary) items, we still managed to stay under our targeted budget and with the way things are going for last 3 months we have also decided to lower our targeted budget and to try to get there in 2009.

In November we also managed to hit two of our long term goals. Here are the highlights of the month which I can't wait to share with you.

1) Hit our target of saving 10% of down-payment for our home. Yaay!!!
Over to saving 20% now to avoid that no-good PMI.
2) Hit my targeted weight for the first time in 6 months. Although I couldn't stay there for long, I'm hoping that its a positive step towards attaining it in the long run.
3) Sewed two dresses for my niece and a reusable bag. It has been a long time since I last sewed anything and my last project was a disaster. This time I remained very careful with measurements etc and made sure that I go exactly by the book. I'm so looking forward to trying them on the baby. We will be meeting her on the Christmas.

As for the spending categories this month, we saved a lot in gas, thanks to gas prices. We also managed to stay well under budget in Groceries and Dining out, Personal grooming and auto maintenance. The only category where we went well above budget was the expenses on family. Although it showed up as an extra expense on our worksheet, we had actually known this expense and had accounted for it while planning the expenses for this month.

So in all, a good month for budget and the great thing is that it has made us keep high hopes for the coming year.