Easy Home-Made Bagels – Made By My 13 Year Old Son

easy-homemade-bagelsHave you ever made home-made bagels?  No?  Me neither!  But boy am I glad that I came across this recipe from the Prudent Homemaker yesterday.  These are the yummiest bagels ever.

And How did I get my 13 year old son to make them for me?  Well, by limiting his screen time, of course!!  His 15 year old brother is actually the one that loves to bake and cook, but he’s been experimenting with muffins, cookies and the like.  And yesterday he was all excited to try to do something else.  And I’m so glad he did.  The picture above is all that was left out of 16 bagels he made yesterday.

And today he begged me to allow him to make some more!  Am I a lucky Mom or what?!  So I will be freezing most of the ones he made today.  The following pics are from today.  They may not be as pretty as the Prudent Homemaker’s, but they are perfect to me!

bagels2home-made-bagels-2The following recipe was copied from the Prudent Homemaker site, my notes are in bold and italics.

Makes 16 large bagels

Dough:
- 3 cups warm water   (it should be between 105º-110º, but we just used warm tap   water..enough to feel warm on your fingers, but not too hot or else it will kill the yeast)
- 4 tbsp yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 5 tsp salt
- 7 cups All-Purpose Flour
Here are some toppings you can use  (however, I didn’t have any of these so my son made the plain ones): Dried onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, kosher salt, dried cranberries, etc
Glaze (this is for getting a wonderful golden color when baking):
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water

In a large mixing bowl, pour water and yeast. Stir to dissolve, and leave for a few minutes until yeast has bubbled.  We mixed ours up and it really didn’t bubble, but it was fine anyway!

Stir in sugar and salt. Add flour.

Stir with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter. When it becomes difficult to stir, remove dough from bowl and work with your hands on the counter. Knead dough for about 8 minutes. This was the most fun for our son.  It’s like playing with a large amount of play dough.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?

NOTE:  If you want to add cranberries, raisins, cinnamon sugar, etc, to all or some of the dough, you can add it to all or part of the dough while kneading. If it is only for some of the bagels, let them rise in a separate bowl.

Lightly flour bowl. Return dough to bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.  We didn’t use plastic wrap, just a damp cloth.

While the dough is rising, spray two baking sheets with Pam. We don’t really buy this stuff, so we use a pasty brush and spread either canola oil on the pan or rub some butter on the pan.  Fill a large pot with water and add a Tbsp of sugar to help give the bagels a nice sheen.

Whisk together water and egg white for glaze and set aside.

If you are using dried onions, soak the amount that you want to use in water and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 450º.

When dough has finished rising, turn dough out onto a floured counter and push it flat (about 2 inches thick).

With a dough scraper, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.  We found it easier just to take the square pieces and tuck the corners under to create a bagel shape.  My son tried making balls, but they didn’t want to hold their shape.

With your thumb, press deep into the center of the ball, and tear open a hole with your fingers.

Place formed bagels together on the work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave until dough is slightly raised—about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring your water to a low boil. Gently lift bagels, one at a time, and lower into the hot water. Do not do more than 2 or 3 at a time. Cook for about a minute, then flip them over in the water using a slotted spatula, and cook for another 30 seconds. Lift out with the slotted spatula, and place on your baking sheet.

Repeat with all the bagels. Brush with egg glaze and dress them up with the toppings of your choice before popping them in the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Keep an eye on them so that the bottoms don’t burn. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

________________________________________________________________________

So there you have it.  It’s not hard at all.  This is the 2nd time my son has made them and has informed me that he no longer needs to look at the directions and can now make them easily.

These bagels are easy to make, taste amazing and are really inexpensive too.  I haven’t actually totaled the cost, but it is pennies.  And you should see the sense of pride on your kid’s face when everyone is scarfing them down and can’t get enough.

Let me know if you guys give these a try.  You really should.  Nothing better than the taste and smell of home baked bread!

1st Bonanza Sale & A Question For Other Bonanza Sellers

Okay, so I finally got around to importing my Ebay store into Bonanza and finalized everything a couple of weeks ago.  So I was very excited to get my first sale.

1st saleHowever, I guess I had a default checked somewhere to get approval before a sale.  So when I got the email that an sale was pending, I went it an approved it.  I noticed that nothing was marked for shipping, but figured it would automatically add the shipping at checkout.  Well, when the payment came through paypal, it did not include the shipping. What did I do wrong?

I have since changed the setting so that I don’t have to approve a sale.  And I checked and I have USPS shipping marked on all items.  So what happened in this situation.  Was it because I approved it without adding shipping to it?  A newby mistake?

It cost me $7.71 to ship this big and heavy Cookie Jar.  Luckily it was in my state and not going across the country.  It would have been a much costlier learning experience.

If you guys have any tips for this Bonanza newby, I’d love to hear.  Thanks for stopping by!

 

A Problem Changing My Ebay Store Name

I’ve been wanting to change the name of my Ebay store name for a long time, but was never happy with anything.  Hubby and I went out of town right before the new year and came up with a name that we were both happy with.  So I changed the name of the store, the logo and banner to the following:

store name changeI thought I was all set with the new change, until I recently realized that my URL was still listed as the old store name.  Here are the instructions for those that would like to change the name.  More details are here on Ebay’s page.

store name change3I spent some time a couple of weeks back trying to figure out how to change the URL and I couldn’t. After spending a long while doing research and coming up with nothing, I thought that perhaps the problem may be the fact that I had originally created the store with the old store design and tried changing it with the new store design.  I had nothing to lose so I reverted back to the old store.

store name change2This is located to the right of your banner when you click on the little store icon next to your name.  When I did that, here’s what was showing:

store name change 1The OLD store information.  You cannot change this information unless you revert back to the old store.  Then you can modify it and it will automatically change the URL for you as well.

In case anyone else ever decides to change their name, this is how you need to do it in order for all the information to change.  Hope this helps someone as it took me like 2 weeks to figure out.

Happy Sales!

40 Things About Me

I’ve seen a couple of my blog friends do this for their birthdays, so naturally I’m copying it and doing the same for my 40th birthday.

These are in random order and listed as they came to me.  Sorry.  I’ve started this list over a week ago and just finished it today, the day AFTER my birthday!

 

  1. I dreamed of paying off our debt early and giving away 40 copies of the Total Money Makeover book for my 40th birthday. Didn’t happen. Oh well. We are kicking ass. Over $85K paid off since Jan 2013.
  2. Lived in a 2 room house and had an outhouse until I was 6.5
  3. Graduated with an MBA at age 23
  4. Got married at 21
  5. Had my first kid at 24
  6. Have lived in 2 countries and 7 cities
  7. Have been with my hubby since we were 16 years old (it’ll be 24 years together this April).
  8. I love British TV. My favorites being Doctor Who and the new Sherlock Holmes.
  9. I’ve had this dream ever since I was a kid to hop a cargo train and take a ride across country.
  10. I get up at 5 every morning.
  11. I studied in Vienna, Austria for a semester in college, traveled to Spain, Hungary and France
  12. While in Barcelona Spain, was walking down the street and met a girl that I took the train with every morning back in the US (it’s a small world).
  13. I am fluent in Polish. I can read it, speak it and write it. Unfortunately, none of my kids can. But at least they can understand it..mostly!
  14. I was born in Poland and emigrated to the US at the age of 6.5
  15. While growing up in Poland, we lived on a homestead.
  16. Became a US citizen in 1996.
  17. I own and operate a portrait studio.
  18. I love reading and learning about simple living, personal finance, ebay selling, homesteading and homemaking.
  19. My past jobs have included waitressing at a restaurant, sales clerk at a bakery, legal secretary, paralegal, district manager and a financial planning firm and now a photographer and ebay seller.
  20. I really want to move out to the country and homestead.
  21. My Dad was approved a Visa to come to the US when I was 2 weeks old. It took my Mom, brother and I over 6 years to get approved for a Visa to the Us. So I was 6.5 yo when I first met my Dad.
  22. I’m fairly tall at 5′ 11″. Over 6 feet with heels! :) We’re all tall. Hubby is 6’3″, oldest is 6’7″ tall, my 13yo is 6′ and my 9yo is 5’1″.
  23. Come from a family of entrepreneurs. My dad is now retired, but has owned many businesses in his life (bar, construction firm and hotel). My brother owns a wind turbine company in Europe.
  24. I’m a pretty good cook, but my smoke detector acts as a timer for me sometimes…especially when making quesadillas or grilled cheese on the stove. Because of my multi-tasking of course – trying to clean up the counters, unload the  dishwasher, etc. LOL
  25. I am a total homebody.
  26. I caught the gardening bug in the spring of 2013 and really love it!
  27. I get excited every time it snows. I marvel at the beauty every time.
  28. I also really love rainy days and could sit and watch the rain for hours.
  29. I chew a lot of gum. I used to bite my nails as a kid, when I became an adult, I stopped actually biting my nails, but will still chew on my nails when I’m not busy doing something (reading, etc.). Gum keeps me from doing that.
  30. I love people watching. When I was studying abroad in college, I would sit in the main square for hours just people watching. People are so interesting!
  31. I really hate talking on the phone.
  32. I am totally crazy in love with my husband…after all these years. We went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago and were laughing and holding hands. One of our neighbors happened to be in the parking lot and saw us and said that we look like two crazy-in-love 16 year olds. :D We are very affectionate with each other and like our kids to see what a healthy relationship looks like (G rated of course).
  33. I tend to be a bit anti-social.
  34. I love little adventures. Finding a new forest preserve we’ve never visited/hiked. Visiting new towns or new beaches. I love getting in the car and just getting lost.
  35. I haven’t taken a real vacation (besides visiting my parents in another state) in probably more than 10 years. It was never really a priority and I always felt like we couldn’t afford one. But starting next year..we should be debt free by then, we will save up and take a family vacation.
  36. I make my bed everyday. It just makes me feel good when the bed is made. Everything looks neater. I find that I’m calmer and happier when things are neat. And I’m NOT naturally a neat person. I really have to work at it.
  37. I rarely ever buy bread. I make homemade bread probably twice a week. I love homemade bread. I’ve been making it for over a year now.
  38. I crave salty foods. My favorite being plain potato chips and salted peanuts.
  39. I’ve been known to take a flower or some seeds from parks, peoples front yards, etc. so that I can try and propogate them for my own garden.
  40. I spent my actual birthday (yesterday) estate saling and thrifing with my hubby. It was a blast!

I really like this idea and hope that more of my blog friends do the same for their birthdays this year!  Thanks Erica for starting this.

I Don’t Have Much Time To Read – But I Read 31 Books in 2014

What’s my secret? Audiobooks!  We are an audiobook loving family, and you can get them free from your local library.  Actually, they might be free for most people, but we live out of our library’s district and do pay $198 per year for our membership.  But we get tons of use out of our library – audiobooks, magazines, books, movies, music, etc.

audiobooks2I’ve been listening to audiobooks for several years.  And I really enjoy them.  If you haven’t given them a shot, you really should.  I introduced my hubby to them a few years back and he goes through probably about 2 books a week now.

I don’t go through as many books as my hubby because I also like to listen to podcasts.  My favorites being Scavenger Life and the Dave Ramsey audio archives (which are daily and 2 hours long).    If it weren’t for Dave, I’d probably go through a lot more audio books, but personal finance (becoming debt free and being smart with money) is something that I’m very passionate about so I listen to his show almost every day, and if I don’t I eventually catch up on all of them.

Here is my list of the books that I’ve read in 2014. I keep a Pinterest board so that I can keep track of which books and how many I read.  I started doing this in 2013 (in which I read 23 books). My goal is to top 50 books this year.

There are a few different ways to acquire audiobooks from the library. 

1.  My first and most preferable way is to download them directly from the internet.  The image above shows the link on my library’s site to the audiobooks.  I download them and then transfer them to either my iPod of hubby’s mp3 player.

2.  The 2nd way is to request a Playaway.  Sometimes the online catalog may not have what I’m looking for, but either my library or another local library may carry a Playaway.

playawayImage source

A playaway is just an already preloaded mp3 player that comes with an audiobook of your choice.  What I really like about the Playaways is that I can increase the speed of the book.  It took me just a little bit to get used to the fast speech, but you get so used to it, you barely notice..but you can finish your audiobook in half the time.  It’s awesome!

3.  The last way I listen to audiobooks is by requesting the book on Audio CD.  It’s my least favorite as it takes time to burn the CDs and then transfer them to my iPod, but if they are not available online or on a playaway, but only on the CD, I will still get it.

I still read regular books too.  But if I’m driving somewhere far, or doing chores or mindless computer work, you can be sure that I’m listening to an audiobook.

If you don’t think you’d enjoy audiobooks, I challenge you to try.  It took me a while to convince my hubby to give them a try…but now it seems he can’t live without them.  LOL

Are you an audiobook listener?  Do tell?

Sharing this article with Living Well Spending Less

Recent Sales & Nothing Is Safe From This Ebay & Amazon Selling Mom

First off, here are my sales from 1/4 – 1/10

Total Items in Store: 253
Items Sold: 8
Cost of Items Sold: $27.49 ($7.49 cogs + $20 photographer (my son)
Total Sales: $259.72 ($132.73 Ebay, $126.99 Amazon)
Highest Price Sold: $26.99 Christmas Tie
Average Price Sold: $16.59
International Sales: 1
Returns: 0
Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $0

Much slower on Ebay recently and my average price sold went down. But some older, lower priced inventory sold. Plus I have some lower priced items selling that I have a large quantity of..so It doesn’t bother me, as it was listed once and will continue selling for $16.99 plus shipping.

I had my son photograph 33 items last week (which I listed – woot!).  He has finals this week and has a half day today and tomorrow and he’ll be photographing some more.  The backlog for me is getting the stuff photographed, so this is helping me a lot!

I sold my son’s current Geometry textbook – OOPS!

geometrySo I was putting away laundry in my 15 yo son’s room last week and noticed a textbook on his shelf.  I had just recently read The Ultimate Guide To Thrift Store Reselling and was thinking about books and just scanned his bookshelf to see if there might be anything there that was worth reselling.

drevilPhoto Credit

So I saw the textbook and scanned it with my phone and the resale was pretty good.  So I listed it right then and there from my phone (I love that about Amazon).  I figured this was one of his books from last year.

It sold a few days later and as I was getting ready to package and ship it, my son walks by and notices the book and says, “Mom, that’s my school book…did you just sell my school book?” (Insert dreaded feeling here).  I started laughing and told him that I thought it was from last year..why would this book be here on your bookshelf…instead of at school?  He said it was no big deal and that the book is also available online and that I can go ahead and ship it out.

Well, I felt so horribly guilty and cancelled the transaction.  I think I can have a cancellation once in a while without it affecting my Amazon rating too much. It happened a couple of times last year when I couldn’t find an item.

You can bet this book is getting relisted next summer.  My husband was just laughing about this yesterday.  He doesn’t understand why I’m looking through bookshelves instead of getting all my unlisted inventory photographed and listed.  It’s so much easier to pick up a book off the shelf, scan it and then list it!  That’s why! LOL

My kids already know that nothing is safe from Mom..it better be cleaned up and in it’s place, or else Mom will either sell it, donate it, or throw it out!

Have you guys ever done anything this crazy?

Where Are You Going In Life? – The Story of the Business Man and the Mexican Fisherman

the-mexican-fisherman-1-728Photo Credit

We hung out with our best friends on New Year’s Eve.  The hubby starts telling me that there aren’t many things in life that really impacted him, but the story I told him a few weeks before is one that he can’t seem to stop thinking about and reflecting on.

You may have already heard this story before. There are many variations of this story and I can’t find the actual origin of the tale either, but it’s one that I think you should read.  I first read it a couple of years ago and reread it often.  It’s one that I too can’t stop thinking about:

An American tourist meets a Mexican fisherman resting on the shore. He asks him how long he goes to fish everyday”Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican fisherman explained that his approach is to only catch how much ever he and his family needs on that day.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every
day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City. From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Ten, perhaps twelve years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards?

That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that, you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings having a few drinks and enjoy your friends.”

Why do we do the things that we do?  Do they help us achieve what is really important in life?  Have we even thought about what that might be?  Where are you going in life?  And might you already be there?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about it!

 

Ebay Sales & Why My Item Sold And Another Identical Item Didn’t

I’ll start this post by sharing last weeks numbers (12/28/14 – 01/03/15)

Total Items in Store: 217
Items Sold: 10
Total Sales: $225.49  (plus $40.74 Amazon)
Average Price Sold: $22.54
Cost of Items Sold: $21.50
Returns: 0
Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $102 (We bought something in large quantity…not sure if we made the right decision or not..will let you know in the future.  They were $.25 each).  It’s one of those things that you list it once and keep selling.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Last week wasn’t too shabby for this part-time eBay and Amazon seller.

What can we learn from a similar listed items?

This Nutcracker is included in the above totals. I’ve been experimenting a little bit with auctions and knew this would be a good item to list that way.  Why?  Well, I was going to list this at $49.99 plus shipping.  This particular one isn’t as desirable as some of the others, but I didn’t want to sell it for less.  So I started the auction at a price that I would have sold it BIN anyway..but perhaps I could squeeze a few more dollars out of it?  Not much more, but I did get a few buck extra.

So this is my item.

nutcracker llnoeThere was another one already listed before I listed mine. And it’s still listed!  Here it is:

nutcracker otherThis person is asking $50 for his.  I think I had started my auction at $49.99 because I wanted a quick sale and only paid $3.99 for this guy.  I actually bought 3 of then at a Goodwill, the other two sold just recently.  One went for $29.99 and the other at $79.99.  Keep an eye out for unusual nutcrackers.  All of mine sold AFTER Christmas!

What can we learn from this person’s listing?  I think my photos are a bit better and I noticed that he didn’t have returns.  For those of us that are serious about reselling, we know that even if you have returns turned off, a buyer can still request a return.  So why not offer returns?  Although my photos aren’t that great, I think they are much better than this persons.  My background is not distracting and I’ve taken a photo of every angle of the Nutcracker.  Potential buyers can’t go to a store and pick up your item to inspect it..give them as much info as possible.  Helps with returns..that’s for sure!

These pics were taken at night, so I’m not thrilled with them, but they’ll do.  I used to have a setup at home with lights, etc…but we took it down as I don’t have room for it right now.  So the natural light ones come out better.  But I don’t want the lack of light to keep me from getting work done.  So these may not have been ideal, but they were good enough.  Edited:  I just remembered too, that these pics were taken at night with my Iphone..I just wanted to get them photographed and listed asap and didn’t grab my regular camera cause it doesn’t do so well in lower light situations.

I just came across the following photo that I once saw on ebay as I was doing research.  I hope this doesn’t belong to any one of you!  LOL

bad photography sampleHow are things going with you guys and eBay?  I had my best listing day ever yesterday.  Listed 15 items.  I’ve never listed that much in one day.  I usually don’t list that in a month..LOL

Good Cheap & Healthy Eats – Super Easy Homemade Freezer Hash Browns

Easy Homemade Freezer HashbrownsI really love hash browns for breakfast.  I had the above with scrambled eggs and sausage patties this morning. They are really easy to make and very inexpensive.  My husband was recently at Aldi and purchased a few 10lb bags for $1.29 each.  What?!  So I made 10lbs of hash browns for the freezer.  That may sound like a lot, but I have 2 teenage boys..one is already 6ft and will be 13 in about 1 week, then my 15yo is 6″ 7″ and then my youngest who is 9 year old pretty tall already too.  So having 3 big boys, they eat quite a bit.  I was able to make 5 servings of hash browns for our family.  One we had this morning and I froze 4 of them.

Best thing about this recipe is that it’s only 1 Ingredient:  Potatoes.

There is a secret to making the perfect hash browns.  Many people complain when making them saying that they end up very watery.  Mine certainly don’t.  Here’s the secret:  You have to first bake the potatoes. Well, you have to first wash the potatoes, then bake them.  Make sure to poke holes in all the potatoes..I use a knife and make several slits in each tater. I also add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan.  Then just stick them in the oven.  Each oven is different, but I baked mine at 375 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Here they are already baked.  Let them cool.

IMG_0797Once they’ve cooled, I shred them.  They were a little soft, so I will bake them for 1 hour next time.  It’s okay if they are a bit harder, as they will cook a little bit when you prepare them. Don’t worry about the peels, they come right off, as seen below in the top left corner.

IMG_0803I started shredding in a bowl, then just did it directly on the pans.  Once the pans are coated with the taters, you need to flash freeze them for a little bit so that they freeze in this shape and don’t stick together when putting them into bags.  I stuck the pans in the freezer and flash froze them for two hours. The image below shows them already frozen.

IMG_0805And here they are all ready to go into the freezer.  These are just regular storage bags, not even the freezer bags.  These won’t last long, so I don’t worry about it.  You can certainly use a Food Saver to take the air out and make them last longer.  I have one, but I didn’t use it for these.  I just stuck a straw and took out most of the air.

IMG_0809When you’re ready to prepare them.  Just add some oil to a pan (enough to cover the bottom).  Add the frozen hash browns, add salt & pepper and cook them on medium until brown on the bottom, flip and repeat.  Then enjoy!

Yummy hash browns that taste amazing, are super easy to make, are really cheap and have no chemicals or additives.  Doesn’t get better than that!

Let me know if you’ve ever made these or have any questions!

Today I’m sharing this on Living Well Spending Less.

A Start To A Thoughtful New Year!

2015Most people start off the new year with resolutions.  I don’t really make resolutions, but I do set some goals.  My goal for 2015 is to continue my journey towards a simpler lifestyle through minimalism. And what is minimalism?  It is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from it! You can read more about it on one of my favorite blogs:  Becoming Minimalist

Just wanted to share some information that I’ve recently come across.  Things that have made me stop and think about 2015 and how I want to live it.

- Our Time is Running Out, What will you do with the time you have left?  Waste it?  “Imagine if we all had human-sized hourglasses shaped like ourselves… and, inside, there was enough sand to represent the years of our lives.  I wonder if we’d so easily waste our time and our lives if we were regularly reminded that… every day… every moment… every hour… our time is running out”… from Living Differently

And a commenter on that post (5th comment and one you should read) wrote something amazing “At what point do we feel like we have earned the right to live the life we want?”.  Wow! It reminds me of the number 1 regret of the dying, I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

- Can Money Buy Happiness?  I don’t subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, so I’m sure glad that Jessica over at Life As Mom posted the highlights of the article (that is backed by scientific research) for us to enjoy.

  • Experiences matter more than stuff.
  • You’re less likely to compare your experiences to others than you are a tally of stuff. Collect experiences, then, not things.
  • Counting your blessings and reminding yourself of what you have can make you happier.
  • Giving money, experiences, and gifts to other people is more gratifying that spending it on yourself.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Abstain from things for a time and you will appreciate them more.
  • Debt makes us unhappy. Avoid debt.

- Stories of Ordinary People with Extraordinary Wealth.  Pretty amazing and inspirational. The takeaway?  Simply live on less than you make and invest the rest! Here’s an excerpt from The Motley Fool:

  • Monsignor James McSweeney. Earning a sub-poverty-level income for decades as a Catholic priest, he focused on his investments in his free time, and was worth nearly $1 million when he died.
  • Genesio Morlacci. This 102-year-old former part-time janitor and dry cleaner left $2.3 million to Montana’s University of Great Falls.
  • Gilmore and Golda Reynolds. They seemed like ordinary next-door neighbors in Osgood, Ind. But when they passed away, they surprised the town by leaving it the $22 million they’d accumulated by investing in stocks over many years.
  • Thomas Drey, Jr. This retired teacher spent a lot of time researching companies at the Boston Public Library. Upon his death, he shocked the library by leaving it $6.8 million.
  • Jay Jensen. Another retired teacher, Jensen has lived frugally, investing steadily in blue-chip stocks for some 40 years. He never earned more than $46,000 per year, but he turned that into several million dollars, most of which he’s giving away.
  • Florence Ballenger. Ms. Ballenger was another teacher who lived frugally but well (often traveling around the world). Through investing, she and her husband accumulated more than $6 million.
  • Gladys Holm. She was a Chicago secretary whose salary peaked at $15,000 before she retired. Her secret was paying attention to what stocks her successful boss was buying and selling, and often following suit to a smaller degree. Upon her death, she left $18 million to a children’s hospital.
  • Donald and Mildred Othmer. The Othmers were members of a smart group of people who bought shares of Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway and held on for decades. They invested about $50,000 in the 1960s, and upon their deaths in the 1990s, their estate was worth an amazing $800 million.

- National Geographic’s 2014 most beautiful photos.  There is such beauty in this world.  I love photography and thought you might enjoy these as much as I do.  Take a moment to check them out!

Winner, Nature – "The Great Migration" by Nicole Cambré

Happy New Year To You

Happy New Year to you!
May every great new day
Bring you sweet surprises–
A happiness buffet.

Happy New Year to you,
And when the new year’s done,
May the next year be even better,
Full of pleasure, joy and fun.

By Joanna Fuchs