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Thirteen Ways to Limit Excessive Shopping & Spending

Thursday Thirteen

My sister works in a shopping center. Last weekend it rained and she said the mall was absolutely chocka with shoppers. Evidently when people are bored or at a loss for an activity, they shop! Who knew? That inspired my post for today.

Thirteen Ways to Limit Shopping & Spending

1. Make a list and shop only once a week.

2. Plan menus and only shop for things that relate to your menus.

3. Share information about family spending with your children and this will make them more aware of how much things cost. This should also focus them on needs versus wants.

4. Have regular no-car days. This not only saves money spent on fuel, but you’re less likely to go shopping if you have to walk or take public transport.

5. Buy second-hand where possible.

6. Make a note of what you’re spending. If you write things down you have a better awareness.

7. If you’re likely to go shopping during your lunch hours change your behavior. Go for a walk instead.

8. Sell stuff you don’t use such as clothes, toys, books etc

9. Instead of purchasing gifts, give time. Grandmother would probaly love a strong back to do her gardening or wash her car.

10. Pay by cash rather than a credit card and set a budget for the amount of cash you draw out of your bank each week.

11. Make your own or grow your own wherever possible.

12. Socialize at home rather than going out all the time.

13. Draw a line between needs and wants. Have a family meeting and get the children to do the same thing. Ask yourself – do I really need this?

Do you have any tips to add? How often do you shop?

Thirteen Tips for Entertaining

Thursday Thirteen

Sometimes entertaining can be a little scary. Here are some tips for beginners…

Thirteen Tips for Entertaining i.e. Entertaining 101

1. Think ahead and set the table in the morning or afternoon of the dinner.

2. Make the table special with a simple seasonal centerpiece or something to complement the guests or food. Don’t make the centerpiece too tall. You don’t want your guests craning their necks all during the dinner.

3. Candlelight creates a great atmosphere. Keep the candles low so that conversation flows across the table.

4. Get in the mood with some chic and restful music.

5. Don’t try to be too ambitious and enlist help in the kitchen or design a prepare-ahead menu.

6. Forget nibbles. Plan on getting the guests to the table promptly after one or two drinks.

7. Keep it simple. Plan a meal that is simple to prepare and eat. Complex food is often time-consuming and heavy, leaving your poor guests groaning and overfull.

8. Focus on one course being the star rather than three spectacular courses.

9. Don’t experiment. Cook dishes you’re familiar with and have tried before.

10. Avoid repetition in colors, ingredients, textures and flavors. i.e. don’t serve tomato soup followed by roast beef garnished with red and a berry dessert.

11. Refrain from drinking yourself until dinner is under way. You don’t want to feature in your guests stories for years to come!

12. Seek advice if you’re not skilled with matching food and wine. Take your menu to a specialist wine store. Even your supermarket probably has a wine expert.

13. Cocktails get everyone in a happy frame of mind. They can be time consuming to make so purchase a bottle of the best bubbles you can afford.

Do you have any entertaining tips?

The Senses: Thirteen Things That Relate to Smell

Thursday Thirteen

Two things made me think about smell today. I’m currently working on polishing book twelve in my Middlemarch Mates series and I’d overdone the word “smell”. Also one of the ponds we walk past during our evening walk really honks. I think it’s due to the hot weather and lack of rain to wash it out.

Thirteen Words That Relate to Smell

1. fragrance

2. malodorous

3. waft

4. whiff

5. bouquet

6. fresh

7. stink

8. odor

9. inhale

10. nose

11. reek

12. perfume

13. musty

What smells/scents do you dislike? (the pond ranks right up there for me!)

Thirteen Ways to Have The Perfect Pout

Thursday Thirteen

This week I’m all about a sexy pout.

Thirteen Ways to Have Sexy Lips and the Perfect Pout

1. The skin on the lips is delicate and tender and it pays to take care. Dead skin on the lips needs to be removed carefully. Do not bite or chew it off because this can lead to a bacterial infection. The easiest way to exfoliate the lips is to use a special lip exfoliator. Apply and rub in a circular fashion, blot dry and use a lip balm.

2. Sun damage is cumulative and can leave white patches if the skin gets burned. Look for lipsticks that contain a sunscreen.

3. Try not to lick your lips because when the moisture evaporates they become even drier and will crack and peel.

4. For soft and sexy lips use a lip moisturizer or balm. Apply several times a day. The thin film from these products will protect lips.

5. Lipstick balances your make-up, adds definition and draws attention to your mouth.

6. Look for lipsticks that contain a moisturizing core. Long-lasting lipstick tends to dry the lips.

7. A lip brush gives a more professional look and allows you to color the corners of your lips easily.

8. Do not alter the natural shape of your lips unless absolutely necessary because this can result in an unnatural look.

9. A lip pencil is a girl’s best friend when it comes to shaping. Use a sharp lip pencil and keep the lip liner as thin as possible.

10. Lipstick color should complement hair, eye color and skin tone plus your outfit.

11. If your lips are too full, avoid bright colors and stick to matt finish lipsticks. If your upper lip is too thin use your lip pencil and draw just outside the top line. If your bottom lip is too thin, outline the bottom of the lip line only. Apply two coats of lipstick to the top lip and only one coat to the bottom lip.

12. Once you’ve applied lip pencil and your lipstick with the brush, blot it with a tissue, powder, re-apply lipstick and blot again. Personally, I don’t usually do all this but done this way your lipstick will last.

13. Pampering your lips will help them to look plumper and fuller. Your lipstick will also last longer and you won’t get an unattractive lipstick bleed.

Do you wear lipstick?Do you have a favorite color?

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Thursday Thirteen

Apple Crumble is one of my favorite desserts, which leads me to the main ingredient—apples.

Thirteen Facts About Apples

1. A pippin is an apple grown from a pip.

2. Here’s a centuries old cooking tip: cook or serve apples with fatty meats and the acid will balance the richness.

3. British apple pies have pastry on top. American apple pies have pastry top and bottom. This is according to the magazine article I have on apples. I’m not sure that I agree with this. My mother always used to have pastry top and bottom on her apple pies.

4. Pies came about in medieval times when cooks encased food in a thick pastry crust called a coffin (coffin).

5. A medium apple contains about 80 calories.

6. In Ancient Greece if a man tossed an apple at a woman, he was proposing marriage. If the woman caught the apple she was accepting his proposal.

7. Apples do not grow true to form from seed. They have to be grafted.

8. When baking an apple, score a line around the middle to stop the skins bursting.

9. Apples are the second most popular fruit in New Zealand. Bananas are the most popular fruit.

10. The most widely available cooking apple in New Zealand is the Granny Smith. This apple was named after a little old granny from Kent, England. She emigrated to Sydney, Australia around 1840 – 1850. She and her husband set up an orchard. The granny found an apple seedling growing by a creek and the rest is history.

11. If you’re making apple puree don’t peel the apples. Slice thickly with both peel and pips still intact. Add a knob of butter and a sprinkling of sugar and cover with a piece of butter paper and put on a lid. Cook slowly until apples soften. Pass through a coarse sieve. Eat warm or cold with custard, cream or ice cream, spread over crepes or flavor with sage and serve with roast pork.

12. The most popular apple in New Zealand is the Royal Gala. It’s available from late February to late March. Not long to wait!

13. Each country has developed their own apples. Golden Delicious apples were developed in America. Fuji apples are a Japanese variety. NZ Rose apples are a cross between Gala and Splendor. New apple varieties are being developed all the time.

Source: An article by Julie Biuso in the March 2007 New Zealand Taste magazine.

Do you like apples? Do you have a favorite variety or way to eat apples? As I mentioned earlier I adore apple crumble.

Thirteen Things For Authors To Tweet About

Thursday Thirteen

I’m fairly new to Twitter, and I’m always wondering what to tweet about. I subscribe to The Book Marketing Expert newsletter and this week they included an article covering things for people to tweet about. Here are a few of them.

Thirteen Things For Authors to Tweet About

1. Teach stuff – teach a little mini-lesson on Twitter. Delve into your area of expertise or just talk about book publishing and how to get published.

2. Share sites or blogs that your followers would be interested in. Be their “filter” to new and exciting information.

3. Use Twitter as a news source: you can easily announce news both from your world (as long as it relates to your topic) and from the world of your expertise.

4. Tweet any good reviews your book gets, it’s always fun to share the good stuff!

5. Feed your blog through Twitter using

6. Use YouTube to share helpful videos you think your followers will love.

7. Run a contest.

8. Ask for advice or ask questions that encourage responses.

9. Talk about the latest trends in your industry.

10. Review a product or book on Twitter.

11. Post an inspirational quote or message.

12. Follow big names in your market on Twitter: this will often bring in their followers too, and you want to see what the “big guys” are up to.

13. Widen your network – follow other Twitter folk, this will not only give you some ideas for your own “tweets” but it’s a great way to network with other writers or professionals.

Source: Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Are you on Twitter? If so, what is your Twitter handle? (I’m @ShelleyMunro) What do you tweet about?

Thirteen Common Sense Suggestions to Help Weight Loss

At this time of the year many of us are thinking about losing weight, especially after all the yummy festive goodies we’ve consumed. I found these tips in a Diabetes New Zealand brochure that arrived in our mailbox. I thought they’d make an excellent TT topic.

Thirteen Tips for Weight Loss

1. Make a plan. It’s the best way to avoid that “grab a snack” thing that happens when you’re hungry.

2. Fruit and vegetables are great. Remember Five Plus a day?

3. Bread and cereals are good to fill you up, but remember wholegrain is best – and avoid sugary cereals.

4. Fruit juice can contain almost as much sugar as fizzy soft drinks. Water is best if you’re thirsty.

5. Chocolate, lollies and other treats aren’t healthy. Keep them as an occasional treat.

6. Know your food labels and learn what they mean. Even when labels say “lite” it’s worth checking the back to make sure they’re less than 10% fat.

7. Go for a walk. It doesn’t need to be far. Even once around the block will get things pumping.

8. Make friends with stairs. Whenever there’s an option, stairs are the way to go.

9. Set easy goals, make a plan and stick to it. It’s easier to do things if you’ve written them down.

10. Join a club such as walking, dancing or even an amateur theatre club to keep yourself active.

11. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. (60 mins for kids) It doesn’t need to be all at once. You can split it up into 10 minute intervals.

12. During the first couple of weeks weigh foods and keep track of your calories. For a normal woman (i.e. me) aim for around 1200 calories per day to achieve weight loss.

13. Don’t try to do it alone. Recruit family members or friends to join you on your weight loss adventure.

Do you have any helpful diet tips to add?

Celebrity Chefs

Thursday Thirteen

I enjoy cooking and watching the Food Channel. Today I’m giving you a list of my favorite ones.

Thirteen Celebrity Chefs

1. Rick Stein – I like his passion for food and especially enjoy his shows outside of England. His dog Chalky was so cute. I was sad when he died.

2. Rachel Allen – she does good no-nonsense food. Her accent is very cute.

3. Jamie Oliver – I admire his passion for food and his school lunch crusade.

4. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – I like all his River Cottage shows and especially enjoy the snippets of village life and the different customs. He does cook a few weird things though. I can do without cow stomachs. I suspect the cows would prefer to keep them too.

5. Annabel Langbein – is a New Zealand chef currently showing on our screens in the show, The Free Range Cook. She lives in Wanaka in the South Island and the scenery shown in the series is absolutely stunning. I believe the series has sold to many overseas countries so it might be on a TV near you in your future. Here’s the link to her website.

6. Gordon Ramsay – Famous for his temper and F-bombs.

7. Ainsley Harriet. I like both his cooking shows and Ready, Steady, Cook where he hosts guests and other chefs. He’s such a showman with his big, beaming smile and sense of humor.

8. Jo Seagar – Jo is a New Zealand chef. She used to live near us, but moved down to Oxford in the South Island. I hope to get my cookbook autographed when I visit Oxford in December. Here’s the link to her website.

9. James Martin – I always enjoy Saturday Kitchen and the guest chefs making omelettes as fast as they can.

10. Kylie Kwong – I enjoy Asian influences in my food.

11. Giada De Laurentiis – Giada is one of the few American chefs I will watch. Her smile is wider than…well, almost anything and her recipes are delicious. I especially enjoy her Italian recipes.

12. Ina Garten – the Barefoot Contessa.

13. Nigella Lawson – She’s my all-time favorite. Several of the others have mannerisms that irritate me but not Nigella. Her verbal descriptions of the ingredients and final product are sheer poetry that the writer in me really admires. Her recipes are easy to make and delicious too. I also like the way she enjoys food. Her midnight snacks at the end of each show make me chuckle.

Do you have a favorite celebrity chef?

A Happy Little Vegemite

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things About Vegemite


1. Vegemite is a thick black spread that’s very popular in Australia and New Zealand.

2. Vegemite owes its origins to the Fred Walker Company. In 1922 they hired a chemist to create a product out of Brewers’ yeast.

3. Marmite (an English spread) was already marketed in Australia and very popular so it took a while for the public to embrace the new home-made spread.

4. Vegemite is a rich source of Vitamin B – thiamine, riboflavin and niacin – and folate. It’s good for vegetarians, is virtually fat-free and contains no added sugar.

5. Vegemite is the one thing I miss when I’m traveling, yet I don’t eat it every day when I’m at home. Go figure!

6. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the British Medical Association gave official product endorsement to vegemite.

7. During the war vegemite was strictly rationed. The Armed Forces purchased vegemite for the soldiers because of its nutritional value.

8. Over 22 million jars of vegemite are sold every year.

9. Vegemite is very useful as a booster to stews – it adds lots of flavor.

10. My mother taught me to fix an anemic gravy with a teaspoon of vegemite. It adds color and flavor and is a lifesaver!

11. Men at Work sang about a vegemite sandwich in the song Down Under.

12. The secret to vegemite is to spread it thin rather than slather it on thickly. It’s powerful stuff.

13. There are several recipes using vegemite here. Personally, my very favorite way to eat vegemite is on toast and topped with fresh slices of avocado. Yum! It’s a marriage made in heaven.

Source: Vegemite

Have you tried vegemite? If so, what is your favorite way to eat vegemite?

Bullies, Bastards & Bitches!

Thursday Thirteen

I’ll often pick up a writing craft book at the library. Recently I picked up a copy of Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell. I’ve found it fascinating and definitely helpful in writing villains. The author has included a list of characteristics of villains, which is very appropriate for this time of the year. Villains abound at Halloween, right?

Thirteen Characteristics of Villains

1. Villains are consistently bad. Their behavior isn’t random or a one-off act of nastiness.

2. They have a defining event in their background that set them on their path of bad behavior.

3. They often have secrets they’re desperate to hide from others.

4. They’re not usually afraid of confrontation.

5. Villains are complicated and multi-dimensional.

6. They’re unpredictable.

7. Viallains sacrifice victims to achieve their own ends.

8. Villains often have an aspect of narcissism in their personality makeup.

9. They like to take extreme risks.

10. They’re usually alpha males or females and have underlings who defer to them.

11. Villains like to obsess about details and their plan of attack.

12. A villain controls others by using guilt and loyalty.

13. A villain plays head games and is very good at playing them.

As you can see, a hero might possess some of the above characteristics. The villain and the hero are often two parts of the same coin.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?