Fashion Friday -Make your own Accessories-

Disney made this DARLING hat from a cardigan for her daughter but it could just as easily be made for you.

and another from Disney

That's Not Playdough

Part of me wishes I'd taken a picture of this before cleaning her up but I walked into a cute little scene of my daughter making snakes with playdough only to realize that it wasn't playdough that she was using but her own poop.  YUCK!!!!!!!!  Big brother even piped in and said "Look Mommy, it has seeds in it."

Menu Monday - Sprucing Up Old Standbys

My kids and I love many of the simplest meals but they can seem a bit boring sometimes and so there are lots of little things I do to give them a simple twist with only a few new things thrown in.  Here are a few ideas of things I've done, what are some of your favorite ways to easily turn a boring basic into something a little more exciting?

Car/ Quiet Book

I decided that this long road trip for our move back west needed an activity book and as usual I couldn't just do it the easy way, I had to make one myself and now after all my hard work I've decided to share it with you, I'll give one personalized book away.

Friday Fashion -Refashion-

I haven't posted anything in a while but I thought I'd post some of my favorite "refashions" I've found recently.  One of my favorite things about fashion is that you can always take something old and make it new again or something from blah to beautiful by just thinking outside the box and giving it a good solid Juj. (how do you spell that?)

So here are a few to inspire you to go into your closets, and everyone else's, and rev up those old pieces that you meant to get rid of but never did.

My Handsome Hubby is 35 Today

This is my DH and I just before we got hitched, my hair hasn't been that short since.

We met in LV and only dated for 4 weeks before we got engaged and 6 more weeks until we were married, I never thought I'd get married in such a whirlwind fashion but when you find your soul mate fast isn't fast enough, from the moment I met him it was like finally coming home, I could be 100% myself even the parts of me I didn't know were there.  He still has that effect on me, when nothing else can bring me back to center he always can.

He drives me crazy sometimes but then I'm sure I drive him crazy at least as much and I wouldn't have it any other way.  He challenges me, makes me face things I don't always want to and will talk with me until sunrise if I need to.  He has more patience with my quirks then I thought was possible and he pitches in to help me out even when it's all my own mess and he's had a long hard day.

He may not be perfect but he's perfect for me and it's because of all his hard work and ambition that I get to be the SAHM that I always wanted to be.



So I just found out that my little, growing family will be moving BACK to Utah before this baby is born, this is 3 for 3 for me in moving while in my third trimester.  I'm really going to miss Virginia and esp. my midwives and their huge jacuzzi birthing tubs.

I've really enjoyed being here in this beautiful state with all the wonderful people I've met but DH got an offer for a promotion that we just couldn't pass up so off we go again.  I'll be busy as a bee organizing, packing and trying not to lose it until we make the move sometime before Christmas.  DH has already jumped head first into the hiring process for his team and EG has already made an offer to his replacement so we're on the fast train and I didn't even think know we'd bought the tickets yet.

To my Darling DD

Today my 2nd baby turns two years old, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, two years ago today I was blessed not only with a beautiful baby girl but a very short and wonderful labor as well, she was born just 30 mins after getting into the room in the Midwifery Center.

I can still remember looking into her eyes for the first time the moment she was born, I caught her, and she was so completely content and wide awake, she didn't cry at all until they started messing with her and then she stopped the second they did.  She's been that way ever since.

She does have her own funny quirks though, she will eat just about anything but her favorite thing is usually whatever you are eating right now, she is a natural at puzzles and she really goes out of her way to be understood when she has something to say.  She loves "The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree" and has me read it to her several times every day, her favorite part is the shivers and she shiver right along with them.  She loves hats, purses, pretty shoes, make-up, having her nails painted, she even sat still so I could put flowers on her big toes Saturday, she adores Dylan and will wear his clothes just so she can look like him.

Big Brother loves her just as much today as he did when he first saw her and didn't want anyone but him to hold her and he couldn't stop beaming and saying how much he loved her and how wonderful he thought she was.

Yesterday DH played tea party and play dough with the kids and I after she opened her presents and my heart melted all over again for every single one of them.

I don't know what the future holds for her but I can guarantee that she will march to the beat of her own drum and won't let anything get in her way when she sets her sights on something.  I love watching her grow and feel so blessed to have this amazing person as such an integral part of my family.

I lova you Bug-A-Boo.

It's A GIRL!!!

She was very cooperative, in a perfect position with her arms up and a little over her face, and her legs up and ankles crossed, so sweet.  We even got to watch her swallow.   It looks like she'll be born with only one kidney because she has two very large cysts in one of them but then she has an aunt who was born with only one also so it's most likely genetic; her heart looked so perfect that I couldn't stop staring at it.

Big brother totally lost it when he heard she was a girl, he had his heart set on a brother and Daddy had to take him out of the office because he was so loud, that's my sensitive little guy, so dramatic and emotional.

I'm actually really relieved to find out that the only complication is the kidney cysts, we'll have another ultrasound and a meeting w/ a Pediatric Nephrologist, I was actually more concerned about the possibility of a low placenta and having to have a c-section or that the baby would be really small, since I'm not showing much.  All in all it was a good morning.

Half Way Mark!!!

Yesterday was my halfway mark in the pregnancy, I'm still really not showing that much, I look more like I just have a "mommy pouch" from my first two kids but I'm measuring correctly and this little one is moving around and kicking plenty.  I actually wish I showed more but then it's not like it'll stay like this much longer anyway.  I need to take pics so you can see.

It's all downhill from here, I haven't had a really bad day in several weeks and the ultrasound is on Monday, I can't wait to see this little one.  : D

Girls Night at My House

I was given the opportunity to host a Durex Girl Talk Party in October and I can't wait to get my stuff and start sending out the packages with free gifts to all my attendees.  I'm hosting it as an in person and online party since so many of my friends and family are on the other side of the country so if anyone wants an invite just leave me your email and I'll send one your way.  

Favorite Children's Books

One of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books from my childhood is "The Monster at the End of This Book", I love the story and all the great expressions that grover has throughout it, now I read it to my little ones and we do the expressions together and talk about eh feelings that Grover is having, like scared, exasperated, relieved, happy, embarrassed.  It's their favorite book right now too, so we read it almost every day.

So what are some of your favorite children's books?

To My Wonderful DH

I have an incredibly wonderful husband and I'll tell you why, I hate cleaning, I mean HATE, I've been trying to do better and using all the great advice from FlyLady has really helped but I'm just not there yet and what with how hard this pregnancy has been on me I've been doing worse about dishes and anything else that could possibly trigger my gag reflex with the only exception being my DD's diapers, I'm not that depraved.
So what has my DH's response been, esp. since he hates cleaning too?  I'll tell you, he's been cleaning everyday for at least 5 min to take care of whatever is in most need of help and attention and then cleaning while I napped this weekend.  He hasn't given me a hard time about the mess, he's just helped.  It may not always be as much help as I need and he still won't touch the dishes, he hates them even more than I do, but as far as I'm concerned he's still my "knight in shining armor" for coming to my rescue and saving me from the mess that I've been either to tired or too nauseous to deal with.  I think I'll keep him, what do you think?

DD and Her Independent Spirit

You know that song "I Did it My Way"?  well, that song sums up my DD pretty well, she knows who she is and what she wants and she'll do it all by herself if you give her half a chance and she's not even two yet.  

This past Thursday she insisted on painting her own nails, well, about 3/4 since she's been right handed from six months old,
(all pictures are from my phone, sorry)

and then Friday, when she woke up she insisted on wearing one of her big brothers green t-shirts and tried to get him to change into another one so they could match and then proceeded to get one of my eyeshadow compacts and one of my eyeshadow brushes and brought them to me to see if I'd let her use it.  I did, with supervision.

I figure that since she's determined to do it all on her her own anyway I'm better off moderating her efforts than constantly running after her yelling "NO" and finding new ways to keep her out of everything.

(This is her improvising a stool when none were around and 
she wanted to play with the bubbles while I did dishes.)
It's a trash can.

I sure love my t-shirt and pearls kind of girl.

Tuesday Movies and Nanny McPhee

Tuesdays at any Regal Cinemas location is only $5 all day so yesterday was a great day for me to take my kiddos since my dd generally gets too rambunctious and just can't sit through a whole movie.  I figured that since I had liked the first Nanny McPhee pretty well and I love Emma Thompson that this one would be a good one to watch at a discount, not super high expectations but I was hopeful.

Well, my expectations were far exceeded, not only did I like this one better than the first but my dd actually sat through the whole movie with very little fuss, I hadn't even bought snacks to keep her happy.  I actually cried at the end, I'm pregnant so I may be more sensitive than usual, it really was a great little family flick.
It was very well written and the imagery was just wonderful, I love how they use such bright saturated colors in everything.  I give it three thumbs up one for me and one for each of my kiddos.

Souper Cheap Healthy Meals

I'm sitting here typing this while I eat my third bowl of soup, soup is an amazing food, it's comforting, it's filling, it can be hot or cold, creamy or brothy, or somewhere in between, it's really easy and you can make it with any flavors and ingredients you have on hand.

Today my soup was inspired by my kids favorite version of macaroni and cheese, with tuna and peas in it, I wasn't in te mood for a cheese soup and my son wanted couscous in it so I grabbed a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of tuna, frozen peas and whole wheat couscous.  I dumped in the can of soup and two cans of water, I only wanted it a little creamy, about a cup of frozen peas and the can of tuna, water and all and put the burner on high.  While I was waiting for the soup to come to a boil I threw in plenty of seasonings: Mrs. Dash, lemon pepper, ginger, garlic, onion powder, paprika, chile powder and some lime juice because I was craving citrus.  As soon as it cam to a boil I stirred in a heaping 1/4 cup of couscous, turned off the stove and waited 5 minutes for the couscous to cook.  VOILA!!!  Totally healthy, yummy, filling soup in only 10 minutes.  It would have been cheaper if I had simply added some milk and chicken bullion but I was out of milk and the soup was a nice shortcut.

Tuna and Pea Soup with Couscous

  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup or milk and Chicken bullion's or broth
  • 1 can of Tuna in water
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup heaping of Couscous
  • Season as you prefer, if using a new spice or seasoning be sure to start with just a tiny bit until you get the hang of how much you like.
You could make the whole thing for just over $1 or a little over $2 depending on if you use the canned soup and what seasonings you use.  Makes about 5 servings at about $.25-$.45 per serving.

A few other great soup recipes:

  • Tomato Juice
  • pasta, like macaroni, shells, wheels, farfalle, etc.
  • beans, like kidney, black eye peas, white, pinto, etc.
  • frozen veggie mix, I like the green bean, carrots and pea mix
  • Onion, diced and sautéed in the pan before adding the juice
  • Water
  • Herbs and Spices, to your taste.
You just need to add enough water for the pasta so that it doesn't make the soup too thick but you can cook the pasta separately or let it get thicker, it's up to you.  It's really that easy.

Spinach and Bean Soup
  • Water
  • Milk
  • White beans or Black eye peas
  • frozen Spinach
  • Celery Seed, just a dash
  • Herbs and Spices how you like
I actually used cream of celery soup the first time I made it but it tastes great with the milk and celery seeds too.  If you have a little one who loves the color green, like my son, you can puree the thawed spinach with a little water for a nice green color.

  • Taco Seasoning Mix
  • Cooked Beans
  • Tomato Juice
  • Ground Beef, Turkey or Chicken
  • Onion
Cook up the meat and onion then add the taco seasoning and let it heat up a bit to really bring out the flavor, add everything else, bring to a boil and you're done.

Cheesy Roasted Potato Soup

In a previous post HERE

Feel free to post your own favorite soup recipes in the comments.

How to Eat Healthy On a Very Tight Budget (part two)

-- 11  Eat smarter not harder, smaller portions, eating protein first and high fiber last gets you full faster and keeps you full longer; knowing how much you actually need of each food group, like only 8 ounces of protein per day or only 1 1/2 cups of milk for toddlers, all helps you save money and be healthier too.

-- 12  Buy Generic food and store brands. They taste like brand name foods, sometimes better, but they’ll save you money on packaging & advertising.

-- 13  Buy supplementsThey can be cheap and make your life easier but make sure the bulk of your diet consists of whole, unprocessed foods.  Whey is the cheapest protein you’ll find, put some in a smoothie for a cheap but complete and filling breakfast. Fish Oil is cheaper than fish, so take them when your budget or palate doesn't allow them, just before bed to avoid the "fish burps".  Vitamin deficiency is common, Vitamin D esp. right now, so taking a multi-vitamin can help you make sure that there aren't any gaps in your nutritional needs.

-- 14  Buy calorie and nutrition dense foods.  Whole milk, potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat pasta & rolled oats are very filling.  Fruits and veggies like blueberries and yams are high in nutrients.

-- 15  Always read the ingredients, avoid foods that are full of fillers instead of real food, like most ketchup has a lot of High Fructose Corn Syrup that is mostly there as a filler but Hunt's has one that has no added sodium or high fructose corn syrup and it tastes great too.

-- 16  Shop the discounts, meat, bread, and many other things go for a lot cheaper when they are getting close to their expiration or sell by dates, look for those first.

-- 17  Get the Customer Card and only shop at one place unless you are going there already, you may save a little going to that other store for a couple of items that are cheaper there but once you add the cost of gas, extra wear and tear on your car and the extra time you usually save more by just getting it all at once.

-- 18  *Play the "grocery game", clip coupons and use them in conjunction with sales to get the best price possible.  There's a website called The Grocery Game that is a great way to get you started if you think you need help.  I started there and now do it on my own and my grocery bills were cut in half while I was actually buying more.

-- 19  Check the unit price, it's amazing how often something looks cheaper but actually costs more when you break it down.  Like two boxes of pasta, one is $.50 less but it is actually one ounce less which makes it more per ounce than the other box.

-- 20  Stop buying food out, make your own meals and take them with you instead.  Taking your lunch to work, keeping healthy snacks like nuts in the car and your purse can save you from buying

-- 21  Stick to your list and eliminate impulse buying, the easiest way to do this is to do your shopping online and pick up your groceries or have them delivered, you'll save for more on the things you don't buy and the time and gas you save than you spend on the fees you pay for the service.  Even if you can't do this make sure that you make a list and keep strictly to it, if it's not on the list it doesn't go in the cart.

*   (Although most of my recipes say how much they cost I am stating the cost without sales or savings, I haven't included how much I saved with coupons or anything I grew on my own.)

How to Eat Healthy On a Very Tight Budget

--When you can buy a burger for a $1 or feed a family of 5 for $3.50 using cheap fatty meats and Hamburger Helper but it costs $4 for a bag of grapes or a package of spinach, and $3 for a bunch of broccoli, it can seem like eating healthy is only for those with plenty of $ to spend.  I am here to tell you that this doesn't have to be the case, you can eat very healthy and spend less than you spend on the stuff the food industry passes off for food.

There are many things that add to this since most of us eat on plates the size that used to be our grandparents serving platters which gets us eating more than we actually need along with the fact that most of us are filling up on foods that don't give us what we need and so our bodies tell us we are hungry even though we've eaten lots of calories because our food is devoid of actual nutrition.  (Did you know that an apple you buy in the store today has as many calories but only half the nutrition of an apple only 50 years ago? So even "healthy" food is lacking in nutrition unless you grow it yourself.)  If you eat very much fast food and processed foods, those foods are also created to get you to eat and crave them more than you would if they were made more "homemade" style.  All of this also has massive effects on our medical costs so we more than make up for what we save today on cheap "food" with what we spend tomorrow on Dr's visits, medication, surgeries, and lost quality of life.

--First thing you need to do when looking to save $ on your groceries while eating healthy is to flip the way we usually think of breakfast, lunch and supper.  Instead of eating a big meal in the evening you should eat the way my mom taught me, she said "eat like a king in morning, a queen for lunch and a pauper at night."  This way of eating is not only easier on our budgets but is great for our health as well.  Proteins like eggs are cheaper than the meats we typically eat for dinner and since our blood sugar levels and metabolism are set in the morning, having a big healthy breakfast sets us up for success for the rest of the day.

--The second thing was already touched on, buying cheaper proteins like eggs, milk, cottage cheese, beans, soy, peanut butter, etc.

--Third, rethink where you buy your food, buy in bulk, if you can't go through some of the things fast enough or it's too expensive to get started then find a friend or two to split it with, sometimes I can buy things at the wholesale clubs for just over half of what I'd pay somewhere else.  You can also save a lot buy buying at closeout stores, I've gotten some great pickles at the dollar store.

--  buy frozen and canned, Frozen fruits and veggies can be up to half the price of fresh and since most of them are picked when fully ripe and then frozen right away they have more nutrition and flavor as well.  Some Canned foods like tomatoes and tomato sauce and paste save a lot of time, are great in recipes and on the wallet, they also taste better and have more nutrition as well.  Other canned fruits and veggies are generally more expensive by actual weight, esp. once you've poured off the liquid, than fresh so I only recommend tomatoes, plus they are generally soft and flavorless.

--  Buy whole unprocessed foods like plain yogurt, pasta, rice, beans, oil, nuts, oats, chicken, etc.  You can buy these whole foods in bulk as well and store them, since they are your basics you can use them in almost any kind of meal.

--  When buying fresh only buy what is in season.

-- 7  *Plant a garden, when you grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables it not only saves you tons of money but  it has other benefits as well, it can be very relaxing, it adds oxygen, it is very rewarding, and food you grew yourself tastes better and typically has about double the nutrition of fresh produce from the store.  I only had a tiny concrete patio one year but I was still able to grow 4 tomato plants, 7 different herbs and lots of lettuce, all in containers.  This cost me about $50 to get all the supplies but I had so many herbs that I dried plenty for the rest of the year, enough tomatoes to give away and can some, and  the lettuce was so good that everybody I gave some to said that they had no idea lettuce could be so full of flavor and crunchy.  I saved about $100 even after subtracting the food I gave away.

-- 8  Plan ahead, make a menu for the week or even month, plan your shopping after making an inventory of what you already have so that you don't buy multiples and waste food.  Make double portions and then eat the leftovers soon, freeze them and eat them later or use them in another meal.

-- 9  Soda and other flavored drinks like punch, even juice, may taste great but they aren't so good for you, soda is the worst since it causes you to retain water, retards your absorption of oxygen, and caffeine is a diuretic so it makes you dehydrated; even juice has the same calories as soda or punch so it's only good in moderation.  Milk may be touted as a super healthy drink but it contains as much sugar as soda and twice as much if you drink the flavored ones so even milk needs to be in moderation, instead drink tap water, it's calorie free, really cheap and just what your body needs.

-- 10  Time is also money, keep it simple, instead of making complicated recipes save those for special occasions and make most of your meals with only about five ingredients.

*   (Although several of my recipes say how much they cost I am stating the cost without sales or savings, I haven't included how much I saved with coupons or anything I grew on my own.)

Roasted Potato Soup

This is one of my family's absolutely favorite soups.  It's super easy to make since I start off with leftovers from a previous breakfast.  I start by getting my big pot out and saute half a chopped onion and celery in a pan, celery optional, and then I add chicken/ veggie stock, milk, canned cheddar cheese soup, actual cheese and those hash brown cubes you get in the frozen section of your grocery store that I've already cooked up nice and brown for breakfast the day or two before along with just a little bit of bacon.  Now is the perfect time to throw in some veggies like broccoli or pureed veggies like cauliflower or yellow squash.  Heat up slowly until bubbling and it's done.  Top with bacon, a little more cheese and even a dollop of sour cream, as Rachel would say "Yummo".

A couple of tips:  If you've ever read the ingredients to Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese you've seen that the cheeses they use are cheddar, parmesan, and blue, I know that the blue may seem counterintuitive but it really adds to the "cheddaryness" of the soup or sauce your making, I also ALWAYS use sharp if not extra sharp cheddar because you can use a lot less cheese and that means you get all the flavor without all of the saturated fats and no gross fats and oils floating on top of your beautiful soup.

I don't know the calorie count but the run down is:

$3 Hash Browns for two meals
$3 Bacon for two meals
$3 Stock
$1.50 Milk
$1.70 Cheddar Cheese soup
$ .50 Onion for two meals
$3 Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan and Blue Cheese 
(you only need a little bit of the parmesan and even less of the blue)

Total= $15.70
Servings= about 8-10
which makes it:
$1.50 - $2 per serving

Morning Sickness Ends @ 13 Weeks My Foot!!!

I've finally gotten over that nagging feeling that I'm going to throw up at any minute 24/7 but what hasn't let up at all and in fact has gotten worse is my gag reflex. Milk of ANY KIND can send me running for the toilet and since two toddlers drink milk at least twice a day I've had to resort to having my DH make up their milk cups for me so that the kids can get them themselves and I have as little contact with the stuff as possible. This sensitivity has posed many new problems, I have to take extra calcium supplements and an extra prenatal vitamin every couple of days.

In addition to my gag reflex I have also developed a very STRONG aversion to anything with sugar in it, this has also made me run to the bathroom to purge any of the sugar from my system and has denied me absolutely all of the sweet treats that I love of which the list is very short. I actually lost my sweet tooth years ago with only a few exceptions that I just could never pass up when available but now even these are just a faint memory until this "sugar allergy" finally goes away.

When you add to this already frustrating list a craving for all things protein, meats, nuts, beans, this has all the makings of a very interesting and very long pregnancy. On the bright side, I'll probably have plenty of funny stories to tell from it though.

Better Than Granola!

I really LOVE yogurt with granola the only problem is that granola is high in fat and sugar and adding that to an already quite sugary fruit yogurt is just not a very healthy dish so I've been on the look out for an alternative that is at least low in fat, high in fiber and will give me that crunchy nutty flavor that is the whole reason I love granola in my yogurt in the first place.

Well, I finally found something that fits the bill perfectly for me, it's called Uncle Sam Cereal. It's made with toasted whole grain wheat flakes and flaxseed, it's high in Omega-3's and fiber and low in sodium and sugar (with less than 1g sugars). Best of all, the flakes and flaxseed stay crispy and crunchy.  Of course I can't really say just how long they stay crunchy since I loved it so much that I gobbled it up pretty fast.

Bookworm Baby

As a mom and pregnant woman I am really in love with babies right now and as a lover of books of just about all kinds I couldn't help but fall in love with this picture.

You can find lots more wonderful pictures of baby Mila's daydream pictures HERE.

It's Good To Be Home!

After several weeks of vacation it feels SOOOOOOOOOO GOOD to be back home again.  I will post more as soon as I get caught up with everything here but today will be filled with grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and everything else that piles up while you're away.

BTW, I am pregnant, 12 weeks along.

Bath Towel Coverups from Crafterhours

I found this through UCreate another favorite blog of mine and these are SOOOOOO cute that I'm just going to have to make some while I'm out here on vacation.

check it out HERE

Extended Vacation!!!!!!

Oh, the perks of being a SAHM!!  I'm off on a long vacation with my kiddos, DH will be meeting up with us about halfway through, I'm visiting all my family out west until the 20th of July.  I'm going to really try to get a few posts in while I'm out here but I'm not delusional so I'm not making any promises.

Needing a Little Love Today

I've been feeling pretty awful for just over a week now, I'm sure it's because of my hormones since I miscarried last month and I'm pretty sure I'm pregnant again but I don't dare takt the test only to miscarry again since this would be my 6th, I just can't seem to keep it together today.  I'm already crying and I HATE crying, there no logical reason for it, everything is going well in my life except that I feel like crap and my house is falling apart because of it.  I'm usually messy anyway but I haven't had a single clean dish in days and I haven't eaten well in more because everything seems gross.  Luckily my kids are wonderful and they seem to just take what they can get and give me lots of love no matter what is going on.

My poor family has had to deal with my short fuse for a while now and if I am pregnant it will only continue until I get past the worst part of the MS.  I know it will get better, but it feels pretty overwhelming right now.

Thanks for listening to my pity party and whine.

I Can't Wait For Game Night!!!!

I'm SO excited for my Game Night party, I just got the package today and I've decided to turn it into three nights since, I'll be travelling to see both my family and my in-laws for the next 6 weeks starting on Monday.  I had to open the package as soon as I got it and I'm so excited about the new "Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It", it's still got the great stuff from the classic game but know you can also bet on whether of not you think the person will know the answer and can even buy a wedge with your chips if you want, which is good for me because there is always one wedge that I just can't seem to get.

I also got the Electronic Catch Phrase and Taboo games, along with plenty of great snacks to get the party started, I plan on having some fun prizes for the winners too, who doesn't love prizes.  YEAH!!!

I can't wait to do more of these kinds of parties from House Party, they have so many great ones, like the Bulls Eye BBQ, Febreze Set and Refresh, Kraft Foods First Taste, etc. (I think DH will really go for the PS3 Party.)

Freckles and Reflections

I love, love, LOVE that my DS has inherited my "sun freckles", that is, they only show up when we've been out in the sun a bit.  They are very light but they are so sweet to me.  DS is such a sweet clever little guy, he has an amazing ability to figure out a way to get what he wants, either by moving things to climb up, creating a tool that will do the job or "negotiating" with Daddy and me to get it for him.  Although it doesn't always turn out the way he want's it to, I really love his ingenuity, persistance and imagination.

Here's my sweet Little DD with her serious thinking face on, her personality fascinates me, she can be SO serious and so silly, she's the one most likely to run around with underwear on her head to make us laugh and yet she has these quiet moments when she just sits thinking for a minute.  She also ADORES her brother, she's the early riser and when he finally get up in the morning she runs up to him yelling his name and gives him a big hug.  (*sigh* heart melting) 

I feel like my life didn't really, fully begin until these precious babies came into my life, I had no idea how full my life and heart could be until they came in and burst it wide open.

Free Stop & Go Printable Game

Here is today's free download.
(The link no longer works but if you send me a request I'd be happy to send the file your way.)

Free I SPY Game Page


I have been making things to keep my kids busy during the ALL DAY plane trip in a week and you can benefit.

My kids and I love I Spy, the books, the computer games, everything.  This page is ideal for my 19 month old DD who would really struggle with overlapped or too small images.  Just click on the picture to take you to download the file.  I'll be posting other free activities throughout the rest of the week.

(The link doesn't work any more but if you leave a comment with your email and I'll send you the file and then delete your email so no one can send you spam.)

Unexpected Savings

I forgot to mention my FAVORITE way to save $ at the grocery store last week but then you might not have believed me then either.  So here it is!

Online Shopping and Delivery:

Who would think that by adding convenience and paying for it you'd actually save money too?  But you do when you have you groceries "shopped" for you and even delivered.  How, do you ask?  Well, by NOT BUYING all those little extras that you would buy if you were AT the perusing the aisles while you shop for what you really need.

Did you know that a study was done on our grocery shopping habits and they found that the average trip to the store for just milk, eggs, and bread, which should cost you $5-12 costs $30, that's THIRTY DOLLARS, simply because we always pick up extra stuff we don't need but it looks good, it's on sale and why not?  None of us need those extra things and that extra cushion around our middles and on our backsides that come from them.

I have been having my groceries delivered or at least done drive through pick up at the store since my son was born almost four years ago, at first I didn't use coupons or any of my other tips from last week on top of my groceries being delivered but I saved almost half of my bill from before and still got plenty of snacks and "extras".  Now that I've added more ways of saving money, I've been able to lower my grocery budget and actually buy more food than I had before.  I have a pantry that is always full with a small stockpile of the things I use the most, I never had extra left over before, and I don't have to constantly ask myself what I'm going to fix for dinner or stuff my kids with candy and treats to get them through a trip to the store.

Fashion Inspiration

I get inspiration from a lot of different people, some famous, some personal friends, some great bloggers as well and it's from this category that I want to share one of my favorite fashion inspirations, Disney at Ruffles & Stuff  makes and wears such wonderful things for both her and her daughter.  Here are two examples:

Aren't they just wonderful?  She's such a great example of taking inexpensive, and even thrift store, finds and turning them into gorgeous, fashionable clothes you're very proud to wear and feel oh so beautiful in.

The Way We Learn

There are seven different ways that we learn according to Howard Gardner of Project Zero at Harvard University, all of us learn well with one or two while others may be really hard. Arming ourselves with this information we can help our children learn how to become better at learning anything by teaching them simple concepts using as many of these ways as possible.

The "Seven Intelligences" are:
  • Verbal/Linguistic
  • Logical/Mathematical
  • Visual/Spatial
  • Body/Kinesthetic
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
Although everyone learns well through the KINESTHETIC, or learning by doing, very few of us learn well with verbal lecture and since most teachers still use lectures to teach for our children to succeed in school they are going to need to get better at VERBAL LEARNING. You can also help them learn how they can teach themselves through other methods so that they aren't hindered by an instructors teaching method. We can give this gift to our children as we teach them by using all seven ways and paying close attention to what they respond to best.


If you want to be a part of Welcome Wednesday, just follow these 5 simple steps:

1. Follow the Welcome Wednesday Host (Take It From Me) as well as the 2 Spotlighted Blogs of the Week. (These will make up the top three slots on the Linky)
2. Link up your blog name and URL with our Linky. (You only need to add your info once for it to be seen on all the blog hops)
3. Grab our Welcome Wednesday button and include it in a post about the event on your blog.
4. Go to as many blogs on the MckLinky as you want and Follow them. Be sure to tell them you are from Welcome Wednesday!
5. Be sure to Follow back any followers you have gained from our Welcome Wednesday event!

Why I Started Blogging

Well, the real reason that I started this blog was that I was invited to do a few little spots on a TV show in Utah called Studio 5 back when they were just getting started and I wanted to have a place that the viewers could go to get a little bit more information if they were interested.  Then life happened and I stopped doing anymore spots and we moved, I had another baby, etc.  so I wasn't doing anything on the blog for quite a while and then one day after I had started selling a few odds and ends on my Etsy shop I decided that there were all these things that I thought about, learned about, etc. that I knew other people could use so I decided to get my butt back in the blogging groove and start up again.  It's been a lot of fun since then and though it's always a bit slow going at first I only blog about things I love so it doesn't matter if only 2 people read it or 2000, I'm enjoying myself every step of the way.

Windy Poplars

Thanks Kristin for your always fun questions.
Check out the other great answers at her Windy Poplars site

Pictures by My Son

I love to see the world through my children's eye's and letting my son take pictures is always an adventure for both of us, the things he wants to take pictures of are always so important to him and mostly really funny to me, like the picture below.

Nice shot of my butt, don't you think?  Yeah, not one of my favorites but I love that he always wants to take pictures of us and that we're wonderful to him at any angle.  When I saw the picture though I talked to him about getting close ups so that you can really see what the subject is, not in those exact words, this was the result.

I could have edited his pictures or at least cropped myself out but I want you to see EXACTLY what he did and I couldn't not post my daughters darling expression, she just adores her big brother.

Saving $ On Your Proteins

I consider protein to be an essential part of every diet, esp. for kids, but I don't like spending a ton of money on it, and I don't like buying something I I feel was raised in an inhumane and unclean environment.  So, I opt for the less expensive proteins for most of my meals, soy, beans, nuts and eggs.  Because I get most of my proteins from them I can afford to spend the extra money on cage free eggs and free range, grain and grass fed meats.  It also helps that I know I only need 7-8oz. of protein a day so, I'm not loading up on them instead of my fruits and veggies which I need 5 cups of a day.

I'm not a vegetarian, clearly, but that is one way I can save money and eat healthy at the same time.

Stretching Your Grocery Dollar

No recipe today, instead I thought I'd share with you some great tips.  There are several great ways of saving money and frustration when it comes to feeding your family and the more of them you use the more you can save.

  • Coupons-   
    • This is the most common and obvious way to save $ but there are two ways of doing it and one way will save you hundreds while the other saves you dollars.  The most common way of using coupons is to simply use which ever ones you feel like buying at the time, the other way is to make it a game and really use the coupons in conjunction with sales and double and triple coupon days to buy your items for pennies on the dollar and sometimes even free.  
      • A great resource to get you started is The Grocery Game where for only $10 for 8 weeks you can get a list of all the best deals for your store and which coupons to use from your mailed coupons and Sunday paper coupons.  With getting only the Sunday paper delivered or at the dollar store being $1 per week the cost to you is $2.25 per week.  I saved over $100 dollars my first week alone and only spent about  $100, so it's well worth the investment.
  • Meal Planning-   
    • Planning out your menu ahead of time saves you so much time and frustration as well as $.  Just think of all the time you spend staring in your fridge, freezer and pantry trying to figure out what you can make for dinner, and even breakfast and lunch. Well, if you simply make a list of all the meals you can think of that you generally make for those meals then in no time at all you can plan out your meals one, two, four weeks at a time.  No more wasted time wondering what to fix and no more wasted food because you forgot it was there or just never got around to using it.
      • If you need help coming up with great recipes for your meal planning Bust-a-Meal will email you a meal plan every week based on your diet preferences and you can even get the shopping list along with the recipes.
  • Mise En Plus-   
    • Mise en plus is a french term that means "everything in it's place" and in the culinary world it means having everything ready before you get started so that you can work quickly, that means pre-chopping, pre-measuring, and having every tool you'll need set out and ready when you start to cook.  How does this translate into saving you money?  Well, if you buy items, like peppers, unprepared and prepare them yourself then you can get them at a lower price and then use them as you need them.  For example, I love cooking with bell peppers, so I stock up when they are on a really good sale and clean, chop and freeze them so that I have lots of them ready for me to use exactly the amount I need at any time.  (Freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet first and then put them in freezer bags so they're easy to use and not frozen in a solid lump.)
      • Not all foods are cheaper to buy unprepared, for example sliced fresh mushrooms cost the exact same as whole, so if you are going to use them sliced you might as well buy them that way.
      • Prepping your food early in the week means that you save a lot of time and frustration when meal time comes around.
  • Recipe Redo-
    • If you plan on using a specific ingredient or dish that usually has leftovers when you are done then you can save $ by using what's left over in another meal.  Use that roast to make a stew, stroganoff or sandwiches, use left over baked potatoes to make potato salad or twice baked, use your stir fry to make eggrolls and the rice for rice pudding or cereal, use that chicken for a salad, use, well, you get the idea.
I hope that these tips help you to stretch your grocery dollar in ways that you haven't before, $ saved in one area means it can be used in another.

We Love Pasta!

The kids and I love pasta, it's fast to cook up, it's easy for the kids to eat with a fork or their hands and if the sauce is thick, it doesn't make a big mess.  This dish here is just my lazy version of Beef Stroganoff, I use Cream of Mushroom soup with some sour cream and milk for the sauce, beef pot roast from a previous meal and green beans, I know it seems weird, maybe even gross, but I just love green beans in my stroganoff, if you don't then just put them on the side.  I put in plenty of onion and a little garlic, fresh or powdered, and there you have it, "Lazy Mans Beef Stroganoff".  I'm pretty sure the whole thing cost me about $3.50 if you don't count the left over roast and about $5-6 if you do.  It fed my kids and me twice which makes it servings for 4-6, so that's only $0.21-1.50 per serving.

My New Favorite Shoes

I have to say that I am really surprised at just how much I really do love my new shoes, I got them two weeks ago and have worn them everywhere.  They feel great, they look great and you can throw them in the dishwasher if they get dirty, I even wore them to church and a friend remarked that she thought they were leather.

Since I also love sales I'm telling you all about them now because they are having a 20% off sale, until Monday the 25th,  and some of my very favorite styles and colors are discounted so now is the time to check them out and snatch up a great pair.

Use the promo code: MORECOLOR

Why I Share...

I know that I have a tendency to come off rather dry at times, and I really wish that I was better at that, but I want you to know that I really love all of you, my family and friends and even those I don't really know, I love knowing that you're on this journey with me and that you have a lot of the same hopes and dreams, questions ans concerns, thoughts and ideas, wishes for our children, etc. that I do.  I listen to my friends and I watch them and I see whats going on in the world and I hope that I can help in some small way with things that I do, have learned, and can share in some small way.

I share my cooking...
because I see so many of my friends doing the best they know how to feed their children delicious, nutritious meals and yet they still struggle because they were brought up with their moms cooking things like casseroles made with mostly canned ingredients that are LOADED with sodium and preservatives and they just don't know how to cook any other way or how good and fast cooking with fresh ingredients can be.

I share my "Fashion Tips"...
because I see so many beautiful women with closets full of mediocre clothes that don't fit too well in the name of saving money instead of saving money by making every dollar really count and only buying what they love and feel beautiful in.

I share what I create...
because Who DOESN"T love to show of what they've done?  But really, I love to share what I've done so that it can also inspire others.

I share all of this and everything else because in my own small way I hope that what I share has helped you and that I have helped your world be a slightly better place.

Creamy Tomato Sauce & Penne

My kids and I love pasta and sauce, so most days are some variation of that, for tomato sauces I always add a big dollop of tomato paste because the thicker sauce makes less mess and it also means more concentrated tomato goodness.  I am on a spinach kick lately so this sauce is tomato paste, cream cheese, a little chicken stock to thin, herbs and spices, and a little spinach.  I thought it looked a little boring with just the sauce and pasta so I added a little cheese for the pictures but you really don't need it.  The best part is that the whole big pot of it only cost me about $3 and serves 4, which makes it $0.75 per serving, YEAH!!!

I don't know the calories, but I only put about 3 tablespoons of the cream cheese so it's still very figure friendly.

Fashion Friday - Why Quality is Worth the Cost

I found this NY Times article through and it really explains well why a pair of khaki pants are really worth $550.  Although I doubt that I'll ever be able to afford anything that pricey it is a great reminder that "investment pieces" really are worth it if you take your time to find those perfect pieces that will be with you for a long time.

A Perfect Pair of Khakis

Everyone needs a really great pair of Khakis & these by Michael Kors fit the bill, you can dress them up, down and they are great all year round.  Now, all you need is is a super cute print top to go with them, like this from DKNYC

or these from Mod Cloth

Or even these from Kmart

and speaking of Kmart, they've got lots of super cute baby girl dresses for less than you could make them for, like these: