5 Perennial Herbs for the Beginner Gardener

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5 Perennial Herbs For Beginner Gardeners

At the end of summer every gardener is busy harvesting and preparing plants before the first frost hits.  Since everyone who knows me KNOWS this is obviously NOT going to happen with me, I would need to plant a garden with plants that can be put to bed over the winter months, when they will return again in the spring.

Saying I do not have a GREEN THUMB is an understatement.  Many find comfort, relaxation and a calm sereneness with gardening, I do not.

I WANT to like it, I LOVE how it looks, I WANT to eat healthier and WANT to enjoy it, but alas I do not.

That is why it is important for garden-phobic folks or beginners like myself to have stuff that comes back year after year.  If we invest the time and money in a garden or landscaping, you know it is only happening once!

I have a crappy patch of land between the garage and driveway that might be perfect for an herb garden.  Luckily there are so many herbs available to us as perennials it is easy to plan, design and invest in a garden once and know that the end of summer does not mean the end of your garden.

Use this guide to determine which of your herbs will return to the garden next year. If you are interested in a budget friendly plan, or something that you can just plant once and enjoy every year, be sure to add as many of these herbs to your garden as possible.

Thyme

Thyme is a perennial herb that is able to withstand cold winters and doubles in size each and every year. A low growing groundcover, thyme comes in several different varieties that can be chosen for the color of their foliage, flower or scent. For gardeners that are in the colder hardiness zones, lemon and English thyme are better able to handle very cold winters, and newer decorative varieties tend to be less hardy and unable to handle the cold winter months.

Lavender

Lavender is very hardy and most plants are able to make it through cold, long winters and bloom again in the spring. Ensuring that your lavender plant is able to survive through the winter does take a little work on your part, and this needs to be done when you are planting and not when fall comes around. Planting your lavender in a protected area, away from high wind and adding it to slightly rocky or poor soil giving lavender roots a better and deeper grip is best. Pruning back the plant at the end of the growing season also helps to ensure that all the energy of the plant goes into survival.

Sage

Sage plants are often planted as annuals, but if placed in a dedicated spot in the garden and the if the ground is not frozen for a longer than normal period, it can survive and return. Plants will be very tender and small, not returning to their former size like lavender and thyme do, but you get the joy of growing a plant to maturity again.

Mint

Mint is perhaps one of the most common herbs in gardens because so many people add a single plant to a bed without realizing how resilient the herb is and how fast it can spread. Spearmint and Peppermint are two of the most popular and easiest to grow, adding one plant is great, but try to add it to its own bed or container where it will fill out entirely year after year. Other varieties to plant include citrus mints and the newer tropical scented varieties.

Chives

Chives are some of springs first plants, filling in their corner of the garden before most gardeners have even had the chance to clear the beds of garden debris. Any variety of chives can be expected to make it through the cold winter months and they are so low maintenance and useful in the kitchen that they are definitely a smart investment.

What herbs do you have in your garden?

Facebook is a SOCIAL NETWORK – So BE SOCIAL and NETWORK

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UPDATE to my previous post: Facebook: How to see what YOU want in your Facebook News feed

A few readers have emailed me again saying they have not seen any of my posts (or other pages posts) in their Facebook News Feed in over a month.  Blogger & business friends alike are also frustrated with the changes in facebook and how they can continue to communicate to their readers, friends and customers.

Of course it is true that facebook wants businesses to PAY for you to see their posts, but we also need to go back to basics as to WHAT facebook was intended for in the beginning…

Facebook is a SOCIAL Network – so be SOCIAL and NETWORK!

We can complain all we want but we have to remember that Facebook is a SOCIAL NETWORK.   By definition to function properly you need to be SOCIAL and you need to NETWORK.

Even though you thought you told them you want to see my posts by liking my page or FRIENDing someone, to them that was just a “Ya, I met her once..”  I kinda, sorta LIKE it.

Liking a page or friending someone is just what it says… eh… I know them or knew them once.  You do not mind seeing it, but more often than not you scroll right past without a second look.  If you saw them on caller ID you may not pick up.

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If you do not INTERACT by LIKE-ing, COMMENTing or SHARE-ing actual posts or updates you are indirectly saying you do not care whether you see what that person or page posts.

You are NOT being SOCIAL and you are not NETWORKING.

That is fine, however you need to understand that FB takes that input (or LACK OF INPUT) and then shows you what you most want to see – the stuff from people who you comment, LIKE and share.

Like any SOCIAL relationship, it needs ACTIVE PARTICIPATION.

The POWER OF NETWORKING is amazing so do not miss out!

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By the way, more importantly that also helps ME to know what kind of stuff you like to see.  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!  Why not SHARE all the great deals with your friends?

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

In addition to being ACTIVE in your social networking, there is another way to make it easier for you to see what you want in your News Feed.

You could also create a LIST which will show you all posts in chronological order from the friends/pages you add to the list.

Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

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  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner (or Add Interests if using that function)

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar.

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BUT it is way down the bottom so you will want to move it UP where it is more convenient.  Click on the pencil and choose “Add to Favorites”.  This will move it up to the bottom of the section below your name.  BUT you can do better than that:

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Once it is in the upper section click on the pencil again and you can REARRANGE your favorites.  I moved mine to right underneath my Newsfeed – that is the newsfeed facebook chooses for me – LOL!

When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

Possibilities are endless for the lists/groups you want to form.

notificationsGET NOTIFICATIONS

There is still a GET NOTIFICATIONS function which will ping  you if a new post goes up.  Hover over LIKED and make sure you have checked off “Get Notifications” .  As you can see you can also click “Add to Interest List” to get them on your Feed list ABOVE.  Mine have not always worked, but if this system works for you then be sure to click on GET NOTIFICATIONS.

OTHER OPTIONS for Maven of Savin

You can also join the Maven Of Savin Deals Group - I used it primarily during the holidays for HOT deals, but may start using it more since I believe you get better notifications of posts.

There are many other non-facebook ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.  Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin, Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates, follow me on Google+ or Subscribe to my daily emails.

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

DIY Granite Cleaner

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Granite countertops… everyone’s wish for their DREAM KITCHEN… right?!?!

Well when we moved into our house 3 years ago, it had granite countertops and I thought I was in heaven.  That is until I realized they are impossible to clean!

First they are dark, so I cannot see when the kids leave a glob of SYRUP on them that hardens like a rock.

Then every cleaner I use causes STREAKS.  Soap & Water… Windex… stovetop cleaners… plain WATER… EVERYTHING STREAKS!  I will be the first to admit I am a lousy housekeeper, but how frustrating when you actually do clean and the counters end up looking worse than when you started.

Finally someone told me you need special Granite Countertop cleaners.  Well you know I am not paying more than $1 per bottle for cleaners and these were way more than $1.  UGH!

Finally what did I do… GOOGLE GOOGLE GOOGLE… and this is what I came up with and it works wonderfully!

DIY Granite Cleaner

  • recycled spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup Rubbing Alcohol or Vodka
  • 3 drops of your favorite FREE or cheap dish liquid
  • WATER

Rinse out an empty spray bottle.

Fill with 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or if you do not have any on hand, Vodka works well too. I have not tried gin or rum, but I feel like rum would be sticky.

Add 3 drops of your favorite dish liquid. I prefer ones that cut grease, but any FREE or cheap dish liquid will do.

Fill the balance of the container with water. I like to use warm water, but room temperature will do just fine.

I suggest you scrub any sticky stuck-on-crap off first with a scrub sponge.  Then spray the surface and wipe with a clean dry cloth.  I like to go right behind with a cloth to dry them – just in case you went heavy on the dish soap or leave the water on too long it can still streak a bit.

VOILA – cheap and effective granite cleaner you can make with stuff you have in the house.

Let me know how it works for you and if you have any other cleaning tips!

Facebook: How to See what YOU Want in your NEWSFEED

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how-to-see-facebook-blog THIS IS A REMINDER in case you have not seen this is the past.

Facebook changes the algorithm daily it seems and I know you are not all seeing my posts.  BOO HOO HOO… BUT there are some things you can do to help that.

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Here are a few things you can do to help – see pictures above.

  • The first thing to do is hover over LIKED and make sure you have checked off “Get Notificationsand “Show in News Feed“.
  • Then click on settings and make sure that “all Updates” is checked off.  UPDATE: FACEBOOK is messing with us again, you can no longer do anything about Show in Newsfeed… you can only “Get Notifications” or “Add to Interest Lists…”
  • Of course the more you “LIKE” posts, “SHARE” and comment tells facebook you want to see the posts as well.  Remember that regardless of facebook, if you ever have a question, please feel free to comment.  We have a great group and if I do not know the answer someone else may.
  • You can also join the Maven Of Savin Deals Group - I use it primarily during the holidays for HOT deals, but may start using it more since I believe you get better notifications of posts.

  •  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  By the way, this also tells ME what to spend my time on!  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!
  • Also make sure you always SORT by “Most Recent” in your newsfeed.  You will see the drop down in the upper right corner at the top of your feed.  I find I always have to change this – it is really annoying.

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

You could also create a LIST -The friend lists feature is just a way to create groups, so you can see just the updates from that set of friends, blogs, etc. at a time.  Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.  You can see this feature could also come in handy if you want to group friends as well – home vs. work vs college, etc.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar. When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

NON- FACEBOOK Options

There are many other ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.

  • Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin.
  • Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates.
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed to have it delivered through your reader of choice.  I use Feedly now that google reader is gone.
  • Subscribe to my daily emails and get a newsletter each day around 3pm listing all posts from the last 24 hours.  NOTE that although you will see all the deals, some may not be in a timely manner.
  • The newest way to get the deals is to follow me on Google+.  The format is similar to facebook, though looks like a more basic feed right now.  I am new over there but am working on chatting over there more often and making sure all the deals get there.  Are you active on Google+ – would love to know what you think.

SO – I hope all that helped. My goal is to try to get you the info you want when you want it. So remember to LIKE or SHARE posts to tell ME what you want to see, but to also tell facebook that I am the bomb (just kidding!).

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese

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Roasted Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

Whether you are looking to eat healthier, add a little zip to your meals, or both… then this dish is one you have to try.  Rich, creamy macaroni and cheese with no butter, no cream, and you don’t lose any flavor. Sound to good to be true? It’s not, I promise.

We are always looking to add more veggies to our diets and roasting the vegetables gives so much flavor.  Plus, an added bonus is that cleanup is a cinch- make everything in one pot and you can toss the aluminum foil keeping your roasting pan clean.

Less calories and dishes? I’m in!

veggies

First you are going chop chop chop and dice up all the vegetables – onion, bell pepper, carrots, zucchini, squash and broccoli (your’re chopping broccoli – for all you old SNL fans).  If you do not like these, or if any are not available you can substitute in any vegetables as long as you keep a similar dice size so they will all cook evenly.  I have replaced the yellow squash with butternut squash and it added a delicious sweetness to the dish.  I am thinking about trying asparagus sometime as well.

I was the kid who sat for hours NOT eating my veggies at dinner, but this small dice wrapped in all the cheesy goodness makes these yummy.

Put these along with 2 cloves of garlic in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and roast at 400°F for 20 minutes.

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While the vegetables are roasting boil 2 cups of your favorite macaroni noodles, drain and set aside.  Use whole wheat pasta to add more nutritional value.  It is going to look like it is not enough, but it is… really!  Personally I prefer Cavatappi because I think it holds on to the cheese sauce well, but regular old elbow macaroni will do as well.  You can just use a deep oval casserole dish right on the stove top so you can use it again to complete the dish.

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Now get your whisk ready.  Heat the olive oil and once it is hot, whisk in the flour for 1 minute.  Then add the milk and continue to whisk until it thickens.  You will then remove it from the heat to stir in the cheese, chili powder and mustard powder.  Salt & pepper to taste.

We have used Monterey jack cheese for this, but feel free to experiment with different combinations of cheeses you like as long as they melt well.

unbaked-veggiemacCombine the vegetables and macaroni with the sauce and mix well.  Be sure to crush the roasted garlic before mixing it in.

Throw it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until the top is golden brown.  If you want to be a little decadent, sprinkle some more cheese on top.

That is it – EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY… and hopefully it will get the veggies into your family.  Use it as a side dish or you could chop up some chicken in it for a main course!

Since we are about saving money, saving time and saving my mind I am hoping to have more SIMPLE, EASY, HEALTHIER recipes for you in the future.

eMeals: Meal planning coupon code – eat healthier this year!

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Looking to eat healthier in the New Year – aren’t we all?  Right now eMeals is offering 15% off any of their meal plans using code NEWYEAR at checkout.

I would love to tell you I already meal plan – NOT!  I just cannot get into it and make it work.  Now if someone gave me a meal plan, with a shopping list… hmmmm….

eMeals is the online meal planning solution with a wide variety of lifestyle meal plans including Clean Eating, Paleo, Low Fat, Low Carb, Natural & Organic, Portion Control, Gluten Free, Classic, and Vegetarian meal plans.  What a great way to save money, stay organized (which I need!) and eat healthier all for under $5 per month.

Here is how it works…

  • Pick your Plan based on your eating style, family size and grocery store
  • Every week, your meal plan arrives in your inbox — complete with seven simple, creative, family–friendly dinner recipes. Each includes an entrée and side dishes.
  • You will also get a grocery list to go with it.

So if you have been thinking of giving eMeals a try, now is the time.

Do you already use eMeals?

Get 15% off eMeals NOW

This post contains my affiliate link. Please read my DISCLOSURE POLICY here.

FACEBOOK: Can you see me now?

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So I am sure you all know that Facebook is messing with things again and people are having trouble seeing posts in their newsfeed.  There are a few different solutions that might help in addition to just stopping by the Maven of Savin page.

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  • First of all, go to the pages you “LIKED” and hover over the LIKED button and be sure you have checked off SHOW IN NEWSFEED and GET NOTIFICATIONS!

  • Then make sure to “LIKE” or “SHARE” the posts you see in your feed or on the Maven of Savin page.  Facebook will show you more of what you “LIKE” and more of the posts that are getting any kind of interaction, comments, etc.  Remember that regardless of facebook, if you ever have a question, please feel free to comment.  We have a great group and if I do not know the answer someone else may.

  •  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  By the way, this also tells ME what to spend my time on!  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!

  • Also make sure you always SORT by “Most Recent” in your newsfeed.  You will see the drop down in the upper right corner at the top of your feed.  I find I always have to change this – it is really annoying.

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

You could also create a LIST -The friend lists feature is just a way to create groups, so you can see just the updates from that set of friends, blogs, etc. at a time.  Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.  You can see this feature could also come in handy if you want to group friends as well – home vs. work vs college, etc.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar. When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

NON- FACEBOOK Options

There are many other ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.

  • Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin.
  • Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates.
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed to have it delivered through your reader of choice.  I use google reader and LOVE IT.
  • Subscribe to my daily emails and get a newsletter each day around 3pm listing all posts from the last 24 hours.  NOTE that although you will see all the deals, some may not be in a timely manner.
  • The newest way to get the deals is to follow me on Google+.  The format is similar to facebook, though looks like a more basic feed right now.  I am new over there but am working on chatting over there more often and making sure all the deals get there.  Are you active on Google+ – would love to know what you think.

SO – I hope all that helped. My goal is to try to get you the info you want when you want it. So remember to LIKE or SHARE posts to tell ME what you want to see, but to also tell facebook that I am the bomb (just kidding!).

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

FREE Food on the Table Meal Planning

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Food on the Table is an online service designed to help families eat better and save money at the grocery store. They take the sales at your local grocery store and your family’s food preferences to create a meal plan based on kid-friendly recipes hand picked by their chefs.

Right now you can give it a try and use promo code: SPRINGFREE, throughout the month of April, and get the premium version of the service for FREE for life!

Home Management COMMAND Central: A Design Challenge

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I have talked before about a Home Management Notebook and other ways to be more efficient in the home. WELL my system or lack of system has gone to the proverbial hell in a handbasket.  Where did that term come from any way??  I digress…

You all know we moved into a new home and in addition to me having no desk yet, (or working printer – AHHHH!!) I realized in my last home that my desk top WAS NOT a good place to organize the family – school papers, important reminders, calendar, etc.  They got swallowed up and were not visible when we need them.  So what I need is COMMAND CENTRAL!!

Here is what I have:

This is what I WANT...

photo credit: PotteryBarn

I mean I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT this system from Pottery Barn.  I am sooo tempted, except the price tag is HUGE!!!  So this CHEAP gal needs to find a different solution that does not short change what I NEED only to save money.

Here is where I need your help – HELP me scour the internet and stores to find similar, CHEAPER solutions.  Send me pictures and ideas.  I will pull them all together and document my progress in building my families HOME MANAGEMENT COMMAND CENTRAL.  Once we do that, then I can revisit my home management notebook, cleaning schedules and dare I say menu planning (eek!).

PLEASE JOIN MY DESIGN TEAM and send me IDEAS!!

Happy New Year – CHANGES COMING

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I hope you survived the holidays and the BACK TO SCHOOL routine this morning.  Personally I have a love/hate relationship with New Years.  I HATE thinking about all the things I DID NOT accomplish the previous year, but I LOVE thinking about all the cool things I CAN do this year.

I have so many ideas that I want to do with the blog this year.  We have grown so much over the last year and I cannot wait to see where we are headed in 2011.  If you are NEW HERE – WELCOME and you can read all about me and Maven of Savin’ HERE. Do not worry, all the deals will still be here, but I really want to get back to my original intent for the blog…

  • saving MONEY – OK – we’ve got that one in full swing though I hope to have more tutorials and maybe a VLOG or 2… we’ll see.  Of course I will be sharing more of my shopping trips and tracking savings.
  • saving TIME - I really NEED this one and though I have shared some great tools in the past on cleaning, organizing and more.  We will be talking even more about this one as I strive to create my Home Management notebook and work through Tell Your Time – How to manage your schedule so you can live fulfilled.  I cannot wait to improve my time management.
  • saving MY MIND – this is a free for all – WHO knows what I might write about – but LOOK OUT!

Be on the lookout for our weekly LIVE CHAT on Wednesday’s from 8pm – 9pm.  I will also be creating a bunch of polls I will need you to participate in so I can better understand what you all want.  WOO HOO – it is going to be great.  You will see some new tools as well.  We already have the coupondatabase and the NEW Shipping List feature (tutorial coming…), but I love techie toys, so who knows what is next.

HOWEVER – keep in mind that I always BITE OFF MORE THAN I CAN CHEW – so rather than me making all kinds of timing promises to you all, I am going to try to pace myself.  My family is also moving in 3 weeks – so needless to say, the saving time and organizing stuff will clearly have to wait until I get settled.  So as I say… BABY STEPS.  But there is one thing I will be starting tomorrow…

I am so pleased to be starting a RENEW FOR YOU 2011 writing series collaborating with Kelly from Kansas City Mamas, Shelly from Coupon Teacher, Melissa from Stockpiling Moms and Sarah from Give Me Neither.  Sometimes we get bogged down with everything (the deals :)) and do not get to write about the things we want.  So now – cue the music – “it’s my blog and I’ll write IF I want to, write WHAT I want to, write WHEN I want to”!

This series is about Renewing yourself for YOU in 2011. Every week, each blogger will be writing about different resolution type topics like budgeting, frugal weight loss, organizing, making time for yourself and accepting you for you.  I hope you will join us as we help support each other in RENEW’ing ourselves.  Look for new posts on Tuesday afternoons.

So even though I will be doing a poll, feel free to chime in now – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE on Maven of Savin’ in 2011??