Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Party for Kids....

We have a tradition in this house for New Years. We don't get out.

It used to be romantic take out and a movie with my hubbie. Then it was trying to juggle the baby with sneaking in a midnight kiss. Now it has morphed into a wonderful tradition that is simple but we love!

We order some take out Chinese, put on party hats and blow noisemakers. (Yes, I have a bottle of advil on standby. ) We drag out the beanbags, make popcorn and watch a special movie. This years selection is the never seen Bugs Life. A little candy may even exchange hands.....

After the kidlets are in bed (There bed time is still 8...even as the new year arrives. I am mean like that. ) Hubbie and I snuggle in for a movie of our own, usually void of animation and alot of furry animals.

I won't lie. We almost never see the New Year come in. We are parents. We are tired.

So in honor of the New Year I thought I would list some ways that you could party down with your little one! HAPPY NEW YEAR Y'ALL!!1

* Bake a cake

*Have your little ones dress in their play dress up clothes to spice things up. Cowboy and princess anyone?

*Have the kids make "resolutions" in which you write them down. (You know so you can laugh about it later ...)

* Have game night

* Drag out the sleeping bags, even for mom and dad and have a "camp out" in the living room.

* Make calendars with stickers, construction papers and maybe some pictures of when they were little.
* Make our own noisemakers. (See instructions below)

Noisemakers - Because we need more noise, right?

Take an empty toilet paper tube. (Or better yet, cut one of those Christmas wrapping tubes into pieces. )

Cover one end with heavy paper or construction paper and secure with tape.

Fill with beans or rice.

Cover the other end with the same paper and secure with tape.

Have the kids decorate their noisemaker with stickers, markers or anything else you can find!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Making a list, checking it twice!

So during the Christmas season, I am like every other mama..... busy! By the end of the season I am ready to pack it all up and do what any good house mama does...make my hubby put it in the crawl space! I enjoy the holidays to the fullest but when its done, I am done!

Last year, I tried something new and it worked so well I thought I would share!

As I was packing up my boxes, I kept a little notepad with me. I quickly jotted down things that I had run out of, needed or would like to purchase for next year.

( In previous years I would sit down to wrap only to find that I was totally out of ribbon, bows,tap and tags. I would have to go to the store and pay top dollar prices which was very aggravating!)

Last year I wrote down what supplies I was out of. I also noted that I would like a swag over my front door and I needed a little something for a candle. I tucked the list away in my planner.

A couple weeks later I was at JoAnn's and found all my items for 90% off! It saved me a ton and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't need much at all this year. It worked so well I decided to do it again!

Sure my hubby gave me the look when I came in the door with Christmas January. He quickly pulled it together when he realized how much I paid. (Under $10!!)

And that works for this mama!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Eat From the Pantry Challenge!

Money Saving Mom is starting a GREAT idea with an eating from the pantry challenge!! Since I have plenty of surplus, I have decided to take this challenge and get a little creative!

I am a recruited stockpiler from my best friend and has been couponing and stockpiling for about a year now. When my hubby built his 6th shelf to hold the stockpile, he gave me the look. I then stopped going to the grocery store for the next 2 1/2 months. (Except for Eggs, milk and fresh fruit and veggies.) I have to tell you that I was shocked that not only did we have delicious dinners and meals but I enjoyed the break from shopping in general.

Not to mention the savings...

It also forced me to use up ingredients that I had shoved in the back of the freezer, cabinets and pantry. It felt good to know that nothing was going to waste. It also made me think outside the box with recipes that I had never tried!

So I am going to throw my hat into the ring and take the challenge. In January we are finishing our basement and I am all about organization. I want to focus more inward then shopping so its perfect timing!!!
I will post updates and recipes along my journey. Will you take the challenge??

I was already perusing my shelves yesterday, mentally gearing up. I saw a bottle of ranch dressing, a frozen pizza crust, a skillet steak I have had frozen since... well I don't quite remember. In my fridge I have an onion that was diced and a whole green pepper that needs to be used.

Friday night is pizza night in this house so this is what we will be doing!

Philly Steak Pizza

Saute sliced onion , green pepper in a TBS of olive oil. Saute until tender crisp.

Add thin slices of skillet steak (very cheap steak!!) until browned to your taste.

Take your pizza crust (homemade or frozen like mine) and spread ranch dressing to taste.

Add sauteed mixture and coat with a healthy amount of mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 425 for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on how hot your oven is.

Menu Plan Monday: Simple is my middle name!

I am so excited for the new year of Menu Planning! (Ok.. so I know its still 2009, but still.... ) This year I am going to be trying to eat healthier, plan ahead and use simple recipes. I am ashamed that I "fell off the wagon" with my meal planning and it cost me. One of my goals for the new year is to also make 1 freezer meal per week. (One that I can double, eat that night and freeze one for later.)

For this week, I am sticking to simple. I am still in holiday mode and still busy with family so I thought I would do myself a favor and keep it simple! Hope you have a great New Years!!

Monday: Grilled chicken over a bed of rice, Broccoli,

Tuesday: BBQ Pork chops, Mixed veggies, crescent Rolls

Wednesday: Leftover Pot Pie (See Below)

Thursday: BBQ pork/cheddar quesedillas, salad

Friday: Making pizzas and salad at home with kidlets! (Including a Philly Steak Pizza - see tomorrows post!)

Saturday: Take out Chinese - Happy New Year!

Sunday: Leftover Buffet - If its not movin, you can eat it !

Leftover Chicken Pot Pie

Leftover chicken or turkey, diced

Leftover vegetables

1 can cream of chicken soup

Prepared gravy mix

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into pan. Cover with biscuits. Cook until brown.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Teacher Knows Best: Holiday Books

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at

Holiday Books

The kiddos have a couple of weeks off from school so it’s time to snuggle up with some good books! Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!
Christmas Books:

Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Who’s that knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

Christmas Tapestry by Patrica Polacco

Bear Stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

Hanukkah Books

One Candle by Eve Bunting
Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin

The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco

Kwanzaa Books

Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Medearis

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Kwanzaa by Rex Perry

A Kwanzaa Celebration by Nancy Williams

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Having a Servants Heart

I head a lady complaining the other day, while I was waiting in a long line. (Of course!) She was moaning about everything that she had left to do for Christmas. As I listened to her run down her list, I could truly sympathise.

"I have to address 150 Christmas cards, wrap all my gifts, bake about a thousand cookies and finish getting stocking stuffers" The woman she was talking to could relate. She started naming off all the things that she had to do along with a comment about how she doesn't enjoy the holidays all that much.

I think we all can relate in a way. There is no doubt about it. The holidays are a busy time.

As I recalled the conversation (as I was wrapping a gift) I began to wonder. Is this what the holidays are all about? How much pressure do we put on ourselves?

Then I actually felt guilty for enjoying all those things that woman was complaining about! I love baking cookies. The kids enjoy having goodies to snack on and it makes this time of year special. The hard work I put into each baked treat is appreciated by my friends and family. Its not just flour, sugar and butter. Its my love given to my loved ones.

I also will admit to really enjoy wrapping gifts. I wait until my kids are asleep and then I put on a chick flick (White Christmas anyone?) Cocoa, a snack and turn the fireplace on. I savor this time. I get to wrap each gift in fun, beautiful or funky paper and then make it pretty with ribbon, bows or ornaments. I like to think that when the person receives the gift, they will feel a little more special! (Or at least be able to tell how special I think they are!)

It didn't always used to be like this.. I am afraid that I used to be just like that woman in line. Everything about the holidays was just another thing on my list to be checked off. But is that all there is? The holidays are just a series of things to get done, accomplished and then we can sleep tight at night?

What if we actually slowed down and -gasp- enjoyed the tedious "jobs" that go along with the holidays. You see I believe that its all about having a servants heart. I am leaning this more each day.

I am far from where I need to be.

If we look at these tasks as something that gives joy and pleasure to others the job is suddenly not a "job" but a gift. That time I put into sending a special note in their card or baking that extra batch of cookies is my gift of love.

I could say the same about not doing anything. I have cut out the things that really don't matter at all in order to .. well do nothing with my hubbie and kids. Then those other things that have to be done can be enjoyed rather than endured.

This season is all about the Creators wonderful gift to us.... his Son. If he gave me this gift begrudgingly, would I appreciate it as much? Would I cherish it knowing that it really didn't want to be given?

The truth is that it although it was at the biggest cost, it was joyfully given in love. That is how much I was loved. WOW. Shouldn't I have the same attitude of giving in this Holiday season?

Hopefully I can maintain this attitude throughout Christmas.. but check in on Christmas eve at 2:00am. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

When to say when ?!

I am sitting here and its quiet. I have had my quiet time with the Lord and now I am enjoying looking at my beautiful Christmas tree (bottom heavy with decorations from little hands, of course!) and drinking a hot cup of coffee.

I am thinking how very, very blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who provides a wonderful life for us and tries to please me a little harder each day. I have two HEALTHY children who are full of life and energy. They both sleep through the night, feed themselves and take 2 1/2 hour naps at the same time everyday. So I am wondering why when I saw my friends baby earlier in the week, I felt a tug. At my heart and my ovaries.

So here is my question. Does that tug ever really go away? Are we as women made to always have that maternal drive to nestle a baby at our breast? I so much as see a fussy baby during church service and I start rocking. Yep, its instinctual!

So when do you say when?

I feel so blessed that I almost wonder if we would be pushing our luck. I know this is not a healthy way to look at things since God's blessings are not limited. I just think of the comfort we all have now. We have a good budget. One is totally out of diapers. We have no problem finding a baby sitter. Everyone has their own room in our very comfortable 3 bedroom house. You would think I would throw my hands in the air and scream "done, done, done!!"

I have to confess right now that I am not a newborn gal. The thought of getting up every 2 hours to breastfeed does not appeal to me. Don't get me wrong I think the little squirming bundle of joy is cute as all get out. I just don't enjoy leaking breasts, no sleep, not fitting into any of my clothes and feeling a general feeling of frazzled... all the time. The reality is however that the little red squirmy thing turns into one wonderfully cute little person whom I wouldn't trade for the whole world.

There are days when I look at the newborn at the mall and think "ahhhhh". I get that familiar ache in my nether regions. Then there are times when I see the very tired mama at the same mall and think "No way Jose!" So how do you know what to do?

For me its a test in faith. I pray that the God over the universe would be the God over my womb. I pray that I will be obedient in HIS will and not my own. I won't lie to you, its a hard one for me. I am a planner. I like lists, calendars and being in charge. To submit something so important is VERY hard. To not know what the future holds is even harder.

So I will pray, listen and try to be still before the Father. I will be content where I am sitting right now, knowing that God has the most perfect plan for me and my family.

But if you see some crazy lady at the mall stalking babies.... yeah, its probably me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teacher Knows Best: Holiday Spirit

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at
Holiday Spirit

With the holidays quickly approaching, now is a great time to get your kids in the spirit of the season. Most kids equate Christmas with gift-giving and sometimes need a reminder that Christmas and other winter holidays traditions are about spending time with family and friends and sharing the good things in life.

Encourage your children to pick some of the toys they no longer play with and clothes they no longer wear to donate someone in need. A trip to the closet might reveal outfits that no longer fit with the tags still on them!

If you’re able, head to the toy store or even the dollar store and let your child pick out a new toy to donate to a children’s toy drive. Remind your child that every child loves to have new toys and we need to help people in need – it reminds us of how lucky we are to have what we have.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mama Knows Best: Waste What?!?!?

We as mamas have to be innovative and thrifty all in the same beat. Somehow we find new ways of doing things that save us money, time and maybe if we are really blessed.... sanity!

I have a thing with waste. With each thing I throw out, I cringe a little. Don't get me wrong, I am far from a pack rat. When it comes to food, however, I just hate waste.

Often I will have a recipe that calls for chopped onion, celery, green pepper or other veggies. I try to find other recipes that calls for the same ingredients so there is no waste but often I just have leftover celery or green pepper staring sadly at me through the glass. :(

So now when I have leftover celery or other veggies that I know I am not going to use, I know what to do!

I chop them into pieces, place in a freezer bag and freeze the little suckers. Then when I make noodle soup or other recipes that calls for chopped veggies, I can simply take the baggie out and add it to the recipe. There is no waste and it save you chopping time!

It also make great pizza toppings!

Do you have a money/time/sanity tip to share? E-mail me at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recipe for Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I looked in my fridge tonight and sighed. Hubby home from a 4 day hunting trip, kids going crazy and a very tired mama. I saw several leftovers mocking me from their cold crypt.

That being said I typed in some ingredients in a search engine and used my leftover broccoli, heavy cream and dinner rolls. I had all the ingredients without going to the store and you can totally substitute shrimp for chicken. It was delish!! The only drawback was the 3 pans to wash..... I am soooo a one pan girl :) (I also left out the hot sauce and used dried Parsley) I took the rolls, split them, spread them with butter and garlic salt. After toasting.....Wahlah... garlic bread!

I always feel so much better when things like leftover dinner rolls and heavy cream get used instead of being thrown out :)

Hope you enjoy!

Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli

1 (12 ounce) package angel hair pasta
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash hot sauce
1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Melt 1.5 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in milk and cream; simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in pesto, parsley, garlic, Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer.

Meanwhile, place broccoli in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Saute shrimp, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.

In a large bowl, toss pasta, shrimp and broccoli; pour sauce over and serve.

Teacher Knows Best: How to handle bad behavior

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at

Lessons from School You Didn’t Want Your Preschooler to Learn

The wonderful thing about school is that children as exposed to so many new ideas and new friends. Of course the downside to that is when your little scholar picks up a new idea you didn’t really want him to learn.
Whether it’s hitting, not sharing, or something naughty to say, the answer is always the same:

“That is not ok in our house. In our family, we only (use kind words, soft hands, share our things).”

Repeat as needed, which will probably be often for a while.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A great Recipe for Thanksgiving... and your waistline!

I just got back from my son's Thanksgiving Feast and all I have to say is YUM !!! One mom brought a Thanksgiving Mousse that was so delicious that I was tempted to lick my cup clean.....

Turns out that she works for weight watchers and its a low point recipe! Top that with an easy recipe and you have a winner!!!


Pumpkin Mousse
2.5 Points

1 sm pkg vanilla sugar free fat free instant pudding
1 sm pkg butterscotch same as above
3c 1% milk
1 14oz can pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1c fat free or sugar free cool whip

Beat first 5 ingredients with a whisk. Fold in cool whip. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Teacher Knows Best: Thankful Hearts Placemat

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at

We seem to be on the same wave length this week with out Thanksgiving Placemats! ENJOY :)

Thankful Hearts Placemats

It Thanksgiving week! A week full of good smells and full tummies! Here’s one of my favorite ways to get kids in a thankful spirit.

You will need:

large plain pieces of paper (you can also buy plain paper placemats)
glue sticks
clear contact paper or access to a lamination machine (available at most copy stores)

Read a thanksgiving book and ask your child what they are thankful for.
Have them cut pictures out of the magazines and glue them down or draw them on the paper.
I like to include a traced hand print, their name, and the date.
Laminate or cover in contact paper for the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deal at Wal-Mart

I have had my eye on a digital camera at Wal-mart. I decided to take the plunge and order it today and had a pleasent surprise.
It looks like Wal-Mart has shipping to your home for just $.97. You may want to check it out !!!

Its just my opinion.... growing up too soon!

I wrote this about 6 months ago. I guess I just forgot to post it :) My son is now in a toddler bed but I still liked the post. :)

My little boy is three and he still sleeps in his crib. Its not that I am against moving him to his big boy bed. Really. Its that he has never, not even one time, tried to get out. My little man doesn't like change and is happy as a clam to just call out " mama" when he would like to get up.

I have asked him several times over the last year if he wanted a "big boy bed". Each time he giggled, smiled and said nooooooo. That was just fine with me! I would gladly pack up his crib when he went away to college. I am sure his roommate wouldn't mind. It doesn't take up much room.

I recently had a friend who was determined to take away the binky before her little one turned 3. I asked "why?" She got a blank stare on her face and said because it was time. Whose time? Our kids get attached to little comfort items that do just that... comfort. I can totally understand if it was affecting her speech or teeth or you didn't want her walking around "plugged up" all day. This is just one mamas opinion, but what would it hurt to give it to her at nighttime? Have you ever seen a college graduate with a binky on a chain? They get rid of it when they are ready.

You see I am all about letting them be little when they are little. Because one day you will wake up and they won't be any longer. I don't rush my little ones to pronounce words correctly. ( I ask them to say it again and again b/c its so cute that I bend over in a fit of giggles.) Or to be more grown up then they need to be ( I am big on manners- make no mistake) or push them to learn more than they need to be learning at this point. I feel like in our quest to raise the most smart, athletic, grown up children we have somehow taken away some of the fun of just being little. I would rather see my little prince pretending and being creative than trying to learn skills that are 3 grades ahead of him. Because he will learn them and he won't want to rescue his mama (the queen, of course) from the tower any more.

One day, sooner rather than later, they will pronounce all their words correctly, know the periodical table and would rather spend the Friday family night in their room than with their family. It makes me sad.

So I will cherish the mud pies, gooey kisses, "Play with me mama's", bear hugs (complete with grrrrrrr's), mispronounced words, dancing wildly in the living room and collapsing in a fit of giggles, and sleeping in a crib as long as my little man wants to! He will be ready when he is ready and not a minute sooner. I am not about to mess with his time table.

Now... I have a tea party to attend with my 1 and 3 year old. Rumor has it that this is the most hoppin joint in town and I have reservations. Complete with a crib in the room, binky in my daughters mouth and a stinky, used to be green frog, on the chair beside me. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kids Craft: Thanksgiving Placemats

I want my kids to have thankful heart. I want them to grow up with the knowledge that all they have is a blessing. Not an expectation.

I try to do something "crafty" each week with my kids. It helps break the days up and it lets their creative juices get movin!

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner I thought that it would be a great idea to make Thankful place mats. They will look lovely and the kids will be proud as peacocks.... ooops I mean Turkeys.

You will need wax paper, scissors, an iron and then whatever your little ones can find :)

We started by going for a long walk. Well I walked... the little people took a monster truck.

We collected pretty leaves. (Good thing we had a big truck bed to haul with.)

When we got home they had a ball decorating their very own place mat. I also took an opportunity to talk about the things that we have been blessed with this year. ((Let me just tell you that some of the things my son came up with had me stifling fits of laughter.))

This is what you do:

Take one sheet of wax paper. Place whatever you wish to be in your place mat. For this project I used 3 of my leaves. I also took some construction paper and cut it with scapbooking scissors. I then placed a sticker that I found in my stash.

Place the other piece of wax paper directly on top of paper and iron with a warm setting.

Wahlah! It looks great on a tablecloth :)

Here are some helpful hints:

**Save trimming the edges until after you have ironed. This will save time.

** The more bulky the item in your place mat, the harder it will be to adhere. The more flat the better.

**You can use crayon shavings to really make your place mat colorful!

**You can also use photographs and or magazine cut outs. Have the kidlets go through magazines and cut out things that they are thankful for!!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday.... on Tuesday

Well its happened. I had to go to the grocery store in the first time in 3 months. I was actually excited to start couponing and such since its been so long :) So I am back to official meal plans!

I am blessed to be a part of a small playgroup each month. We have a party once a month where the kids run-a-muck and we get to talk. (Well between breaking up sword fights and wiping boogies) I held the Thanksgiving party. I actually made a turkey breast that I got for $5 and it was so delicious!! It also provided enough for 3 meals this week!! I hope some of these recipes help with your turkey leftover. Happy Eating Y'all!!!

Monday: Roast Turkey breast, mashed potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: Beef tacos, Spanish rice, black beans

Wednesday: Turkey Tettrazinni, Broccoli, Rolls

Thursday: Grilled chicken breast w/ green peppers, onions and melted provolone, potato

cakes (made from leftover mashed potatoes) Mixed veggies

Friday: Pizza Night!

Saturday: Hot subs, baked fries ( GO BUCKS!! )

Sunday: Turkey Noodle Soup, French Bread

Monday, November 16, 2009

Join the Bob Evans Twitter Party Tonight!

Monday, Nov. 16 from 6-8 Bob Evans will be having a twitter party !!!

"Bob Evans New Single Serving Sides and Timesaving Holiday Helpers."

We'll be using the hashtag #BEFSingles to talk about everything from prepping for holiday meals and other fabulous timesavers.
We'll be giving away a coupon for free product every 5 minutes, at random, via use of the hashtag. It's redeemable at any grocery store. We'll also be sharing some great coupons with everyone.

I hope you can participate!

New Items from Bob Evans... and a giveaway!!

I recently have been given the opportunity to sample Bob Evans new single serve products. Read the review here.
Leave a comment and you may win free Bob Evans products!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Teacher Knows Best: Thanksgiving Books

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at

Thanksgiving Books

What am I thankful for? Books! There are some great books for Thanksgiving! Happy Reading!

P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet by Carol Crane

This is the Turkey by Abby Levine

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing

Thanksgiving Mice by Bethany Roberts

We Gather Together…Now Get Lost! By Diane de Groat

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Feature: Mama's Health and Beauty Friday's

I talk about alot of mama things on this blog. Recipes, crafts, household stuff. We are more than that though... right? Somewhere between dust bunnies and Crayola shavings we lose ourselves. Which just isn't healthy for anyone.... especially our family when we lose it. :) So...... after talking to my girlfriends I have decided to start featuring Mama's Friday. ( Well at least a couple times a month) These tips are just for Mama's and no one else. Well... except your hubby who will undoubtedly love the results!

My best friend since the age of 13 is a makeup genius. She used to be a Esthetician for one of the fancy salons around here. People traveled long distances to get her take on facials, waxing and makeup. Trust me when I say.... the girl knows what she is talking about. I have asked her to write some beauty insight and to my great delight she agreed!

Today’s Cosmetic Quickie

Alright ladies and gents let’s talk about eyebrows. Notice this info is not just for the ladies, most men need a little clean up also, it’s called grooming. And no, it does not mean that you are a metro sexual. There’s really no discussion when it comes to eyebrows, WAX them, TWEEZE them, or THREAD them, just do something.

If you don’t want to do anything else to your face, that’s fine, but this is a must. Not only will it define your eyes and show off those beauties, it will also make you look awake, polished, and clean (that’s right people, I said clean). If you have a hairy beast on your face people assume you don’t groom, shower etc.

Now, you might say, “but I don’t know how to shape my brows or know where to start,” that’s understandable, but it’s not an excuse. If you can afford it, seek out a professional. Start by looking at other people’s brows and ask them where they had theirs done. When I say professional, I mean someone who specializes in eyebrows. Some cosmetologists say that they can do eyebrows, but they can’t, you have to be careful. Most likely, you will be safe going to an Esthetician because they do it all the time, and have had extra training in shaping brows. I’ve also seen places popping up that only do brows, some of them are in malls now, those are also great places because their reputation is on the line.

Make sure when you sit down with the professional that you ask for a mirror. Discuss what you are thinking and ask them their opinion. People used to bring me pictures from magazines and they would have certain expectations of what they wanted. Truth is, everyone’s eyebrows are different, and everyone has a different face shape, and get this, even your own two eyebrows are different from each other. I used to tease my clients; after I would wax one eyebrow I would go to the other and say, “OK, now let’s see if we can match this one to the other one.”

Another tid bit of information that you want to tell the professional is if you are taking any type of medication or using any topical medication. The reason, some medications can thin your skin. When you wax your skin, you are taking off the first layer of skin along with the hair. If you are using any type of medication or exfoliant on your skin, and then wax, it is going to take off more than one layer and can almost look like a burn. Not fun for anyone. This does not mean that you can’t get waxed; it just means that the professional is going to have to use a different kind of wax that won’t adhere to the skin. Yes, there are different types of wax. I won’t bore you with all the types; it’s just a matter of preference for the professional. One type is not better than another in my opinion, but that’s just my opinion.

Now, if you can’t afford a professional, or are one of those do-it-yourselfers, stay tuned because next time I will be talking about how to shape your own brows. Please don’t start tweezing your brows until you have all the materials and information. If you have already tweezed your brows or gone to a professional and your brows have been what I call “botched” grow them back out and start over. It will take a while (hint, use Rogaine on the brows to speed up the growing process) but you will be happy you did.

Monica, Liscenced Esthetician

Do you have a questionm for Monica? Send it to me at !!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Getting the Most from the Holidays

Since it gets cold and icy/rainy/snowy here in Ohio there is not much outdoor time. Which means crazy kids and even crazier looks in there eyes. I try to come up with fun things for them to do around here to keep the inmates from running the asylum.

Around Thanksgiving time I start to stock up on plain brown paper bags and plain white wrapping paper. ( I usually buy them from the $1 store.) I then get out my arsenal of craft supplies which includes but not limited to: Paint, stamps, brushes, foam cutouts, stickers etc. I then let them decorate wrapping paper and bags for their gifts to our family and friends.

We even go out and collect pine cones and little pine branches. We dip them in paint and decorate the paper. We also can paint the pine cones and dip them in glitter. Attach them to a string and you have a pretty decoration for your present!
Its economical, pretty and makes your little ones feel a part of the giving process! (If you are really really lucky it will keep them busy enough for you to pay a couple of bills or get crazy and use the potty by yourself.) And that works for this mama!

To see more great holiday help tips visit We are That Family!

Kroger bargain recipe of the week: Country Chicken Supper

Bargain Meal of the Week

I looovvveee recipes that happen all in one pan. That means only one dish to clean... woohoo!! With canned veggies being on sale this week, it also makes it very reasonable. ( Not to mention that I love seeing all those veggies enter my little peoples mouth.) Hope you guys have a yummy week!

I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand. W/C means with coupon.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (On sale $1.89/lb) $2.83
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion $.20
1 (15 ounce) can green beans (Del Monte Veggies on sale $.50) $.50
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (On sale w/c $.59) $.59
1 (15 ounce) can carrots, drained (Del Monte on sale $.50) $.50
1 potato, peeled and diced (On sale B1G1) $.10
1 cup uncooked white rice $.50
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup water
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese $.40

Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and chicken for about 3 minutes.

Add green beans, tomatoes with liquids (not drained), carrots, potato, rice, salt and pepper to skillet. Mix gently.

Pour water over top of chicken mixture. Cover skillet and simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until rice and potato are tender.

Sprinkle chicken mixture with cheese. Let stand covered for 5 minutes and serve.

Total Cost of Meal: $5.62

For more great bargain recipes click on the icon above!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rite Rug Giveawy!!

My girlfriend over at Stretching a Buck is amazing me once again with an awesome giveaway!!! Rite Rug has agreed to giveaway a $199 gift card to one lucky person!!! Just leave a comment and you are entered.

Enter here for your chance to win $199 gift card to Rite rug!!

Teacher Knows Best: Parent Teacher Conferences

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at

Parent –Teacher Conferences

This is the season for parent-teacher conferences. The set up varies by school and teacher, but here’s a general idea of what to expect.

-The teacher will talk about how your child is doing and you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you have.

-The teacher should have work samples to share with you and be able to give you an idea of how your child is progressing academically and socially.

-If you have questions, ask! You might not be able to get an answer right then and there, especially for questions about special education or gifted services, etc.

-Take note of any areas your child may be struggling in and make a plan with the teacher to rectify the situation both in school and at home, whether it is reading more or running through addition flash cards.

- Remember that teachers are meeting with many parents in an evening and need to stay on time as a courtesy to everyone. If you have issues that you feel need more investigation, please set up an additional meeting for another time. Most teachers will be happy to accommodate you.

For older students, I encourage students to lead their parents through the conference because it gives them ownership over their work and answers the questions parents always ask (“What are you doing in school?) and get the same answer to (“Nothing”).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Making costumes for less

When my son wanted to be a dump truck for beggars night my first thought was "yikes!". I wasn't sure how that would be possible or frugal. I just can't bring myself to buy really expensive costumes so I had to think outside the box. I thought I would share how I outfitted both kids for under what 1 costume would probably cost.

I took a box that I already had and spray painted it. ($2.50 JoAnn's spray paint) I then found some suspenders at a thrift store and spray painted those suckers as well. ($.99) The high beam lights I found at WalMart and can re-use in my pantry.~So I don't feel quite as bad about the cost. ~($5.00) Ad some scrap booking stickers I already had, along with some sweats turned inside out and whalah! A dump truck for under $7.

For little miss I found the cream dress at a second hand store for $3. I then bought some checkered material at 50% off. ($1.99) Add some cream ribbon (Around $.90) Sew that on the dress and pair with hose and shoes we had in the closet. I found this lovely Gymboree cape at the thrift store for $6. She can totally use this again so I think I got my moneys worth. Total costume: Under $12

Monday, October 26, 2009


One thing I remember as a child is getting all geeked up about special holiday cartoons coming on tv. My mom would make BIG deal about it. We would be in our jams, popcorn made, giggling. We got to stay up later than normal and it was special!

I have kept the tradition with my kids and I almost get as excited as they do !!! This year I want to post reminders to y'all about any special kid friendly tv program on so here we go....

Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown: ABC Tuesday, Wednesday 8:00 EST

I will be posting Thanksgiving and Christmas specials so stay "tuned".

Teacher Knows best: Kids Memoirs

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at
Getting Kids to Write – Memoirs
We often ask kids to write memoirs, stories from their lives. Students are sometimes confused by what a teacher means when they say “memoir” so we use mentor texts, example books.

There are a ton of books that are memoirs but one of my favorite things to use is one I’ve written myself. So in honor of Halloween, here is one of my memoirs. Enjoy!

My brother and I, Halloween 1986

I was robbed.

It may have only been a neighborhood costume contest, but still…

We had recently moved to a brand new subdivision. Not all the lots were built yet, so the neighborhood was still small. The Civic Association decided to throw a Halloween party; there would be apple-bobbing, face painting, and costume judging.

It was 1986 and I was four. My mom had always made my little brother and I’s costume and that year I had begged and begged for a witch costume. She made the most fantastic costume: a long dress, a cape, and a hat all out of the same Halloween print material. Halloween couldn’t come fast enough!

Halloween was cold that year, so I had to wear a sweatshirt with my costume, but that didn’t dampen my spirits. I practically floated from house to house collecting candy. Finally it was time to head to the party. As we walked down the sidewalk, my parents told us of all that was in-store. My brother and I had never bobbed for apples, but we knew what face painting was and I was old enough to equate a costume contest with winning a prize.

After an hour or so of wet heads and painted cheeks, the sun had gone down and it was finally time for costume judging. I was pretty confident in my chances of winning seeing as I did have the best witch’s costume ever. They lined up kids by age group and we marched around in little circles to be judged. They pulled kids out of each circle until only two or three remained in each. In my circle, only two children were left: me, in my homemade witch’s costume, and another girl in a store-bought witch’s costume. The judges stood off to one side, just out of ear-shot, trying to make a decision while we danced around a little, trying to keep warm and fight off sleepiness. Finally they announced the other girl had won.

In my disbelief that someone had a costume better than the one my mom had lovingly made, I started to cry. I was crushed! Heartbroken! How could a chic who had bought her costume at a store beat my custom costume?! I cried the entire way home. Nothing my parents said could console me. My beautiful costume went into storage. Never to be seen again I hoped!

Many years later, I was a college freshman and my roommates and I were getting ready for Halloween. We were telling stories one evening and this tragic tale of woe came up. My roommates suggested that I seek costume contest revenge and dress up as a witch. I was a little hesitant at first, what with what had happened the last time, but even my mom thought it would be a good idea. She again made me a long, black dress and the most fantastic cape.

I proudly wore my second mom-made witch’s costume that Halloween and though I didn’t win any prizes, at least I wasn’t robbed by a store-bought witch.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mama Knows Best: Sanitize what?!?!?!

We as mamas have to be innovative and thrifty all in the same beat. Somehow we find new ways of doing things that save us money, time and maybe if we are really blessed.... sanity!

My hubby is a fireman and paramedic. He looks great in his uniform. :) He also encounters alot of sickness. (Hey, you take the good with the bad!) So, since we are at high exposure risk to the creepy crawlie bugs, I sanitize. The thought of my little ones getting the flu makes me get the heeby geebies.

Someone asked me the other day what I sanitize so I thought I would share my list of common things that we often forget. (That carry alot of germs.) It will take a couple minutes but could save you alot of heartache. Happy cleaning y'all!!

Light switches

Electrical outlets


Tea Kettle / coffee pot handles

Doorknobs, out and in


Faces of DVR, DVD players- anything you may touch alot

Toybox lids

Fridge and freezer handles

Microwave face

Your kitchen sink handles

Handles to all cabinets

Lamp switches/knobs

Bathroom sink fixtures and soap dispensers

Shower door handles

Alarm clocks buttons

Kitchen /dining room chair arms ( If wood )

Can you think of something that I have forgotten? Leave a comment and share!

Do you have a money/time/sanity tip to share? E-mail me at !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where does time go ??

My son is 3 and in a two day pre-school program. I am AMAZED at how much he has learned in the few short months he has been in school.

Last night he had an open house where the whole school marched throughout the isles of the auditorium in costume. ( They had a "book parade" where they dressed as the characters of a book they have been reading. ) My darling boy was an ice cream man. I had made the costume and dressed him but was not prepared me as he came marching down the center isle.

I felt hot tears stinging my eyes. He looked so big. He proudly marched with his class, his eyes searching for us. Ice cream scoop in one hand, a play ice cream in another, wide grin plastered on his face.

My mind saw him as a fussy infant in my arms, nursing at my breast. Who was this boy? Surly, he had not grown this much, so soon? I suddenly wanted to slow time itself. I envisioned him walking an isle, several years from now with a cap and gown and my heart hurt.

Once again I heard that still small voice whisper to my heart. Slow down, enjoy, relish. They don't stay little for very long and they are gone in the blink of an eye.

I am sure the people around me thought I was a total nut. ( Big surprise !! ) I was sniffling and trying to look composed. I suddenly did not care because I was looking at my life on stage singing his heart out. At the end he waved and blew a kiss. I thought a stretcher was going to have to take me away. :)

I know there will be so many more moments like these and I am thankful. I am thankful for gentle reminders to this mama to get my priorities straight, listen and enjoy.

Until they are on my last nerve and I start to pray for full day school....hey, I am not a saint!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kroger bargain recipe of the week : Hawaii pork chops

Bargain Meal of the Week

I usually pick recipes with few ingredients, but this one looked too good not to try! Yes, there are tons of ingredients but most are things that you already have in your home..woohoo! Happy Eating Y'all!!!

I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand. W/C means with coupon.

Hawaii Pork Chops

1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon onion salt
dash cayenne pepper
4 boneless pork loin chops (On sale $1.49/lb) $2.24
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped onion $.25
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits (Dole on sale $1) $.10
Hot cooked rice (Zataraines on sale $1) $1

In a saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients. Cover and simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. In a skillet, cook pork, onion and garlic in oil until meat is browned. Add water and reserved sauce. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink, adding more water if needed. Stir in pineapple and heat through. Serve over rice.

Total Cost of Meal: $3.59

Add Roasted carrots (On sale $1) Total Cost of Meal: $4.09

Add roasted carrots and French bread (Kroger on sale $1) Total cost of Meal: $4.59

Monday, October 19, 2009

Teacher Knows best: Halloween books for the right age

I am blessed to live next to a elementary school teacher who loves my kids and we love her!! She has multiple education degrees and is the first person I run to when I am worried about speech, development or anything learning related!! She has agreed to write a weekly post for me on some common concerns involving little ones and just great tips! If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed, please e-mail me at

Halloween Books

It’s time again for some seasonal book selections! Happy Reading!

Inside a House that is Haunted: A Rebus Story by Alyssa Capucilli
Five Little Pumpkins by Iris Van Rynbach

K-1st- 2nd
Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler
Cinderhazel: The Cinderella of Halloween by Deborah Lattimore
Meet Molly: An American Girl

3rd - 4th- 5th
Hallo-weiner by Dav Pilkey
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson

All Ages
Skeleton Bones and Goblin Groans: Poems for Halloween by Amu Sklansky
Halloween Is… by Gail Gibbons
Halloween Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family by Donata Maggipinto

Menu Plan Monday- errrr .... kind of

So. Y'all know I love me some menu plans. I think that they save you a ton of money, headaches and time. They keep this mama sane and that is saying alot.

However I have been in a serious season of conviction. One of these convictions is my love of coupons and stockpiling. If I can find Knorr noodles for $.10 a package, I buy 5. Do this alot and 2 things happen.

1.) You go over your budget almost every week. You tell yourself its ok because your saving money in the long run.

2.) You can't find anything in your pantry because you have so much stuff!

So after a shopping trip in September filled with $.20 shampoos and a super great deal on chicken, my saint of a hubby did not say a word but gave me "the look". I knew what he was thinking because I was thinking the same thing. Stockpiling was worthless unless you actually take the time to live off of it and reap the savings!

So I can proudly tell you that I have not been to the grocery store in 4 weeks. My goal is to simply get creative and live off the stockpile. When we need milk, eggs and fruit... I send hubby. I am too weak. Bargains know my name and scream at me when I walk by. Its just too much....

So my menu plan this week is simple. Use what I have and enjoy. Maybe I won't have tomatoes for the taco's. But I am using shells I forgot I had, seasoning I found behind a can of peas and cheese I got for a dollar and had frozen. It makes me feel good. It makes me think outside the box and try new things. I am also excited to use some of the stuff on my baking shelf so that when Christmas baking comes around I can know everything I have. ( Compared to trying to reach the sprinkles through expired Graham cracker crumbs and an old can of evaporated milk. That evaporated a long, long time ago.

My goal is to not go back to the store till November and I am pretty sure I can make it. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mama Knows Best - What to do with those apples!

We as mamas have to be innovative and thrifty all in the same beat. Somehow we find new ways of doing things that save us money, time and maybe if we are really blessed.... sanity!

My sons pre-school teacher just gave me this tip and it was too good not to share!

A couple of us room moms were talking about how we went apple picking, or were given an abundance of apples! I recounted my 4 hour struggle to core, peel and slice 20 lbs of apples. Then I soaked them in Fruit Fresh water and then bagged and froze them. WHEW!

My sons teacher said that her mama would fill a disposable pie pan with the apple slices and cover them with foil and freeze them right in the pie pans.

When she was making a pie, she would make her pie crust and place the bottom crust in a glass pie pan. Then she would remove the pie pan from the freezer and just pop the already pie shaped apples right into the crusted pie pan. (She had already mixed the cinnamon / spices into the apple mixture.) She would then cover the top with pie crust or pie dough cut into shapes of leaves. Wahlah- a pie ready to go!

Tip: If you are having trouble getting the apples out, then just soak the bottom in some shallow warm water in the sink!

Do you have a money/time/sanity tip to share? E-mail me at !

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Things you can only know if your a mama.....

There are certain things that you could only possibly know if your a mama!!

For Example....

Lost sippy cups found

The feeling in the pit of your stomach as you see a sippy cup under your car seat. You haven't seen that cup in a while and you start to pray you filled it with water. But you didn't.... of course. That funny smell you have been smelling in your car suddenly makes sense.

You reach for it and can see white chunks. You debate whether to try to wash it or just throw it away.

I am here to tell you that there are some smells that stay in your nose all day. Yep, this is one of them.

Binkies, Lovies, Blankies

You can just never, never, never have enough binkies or lovies.

I have spent many a night searching the Internet for another frog lovie that my child clings to. Now I just resort to hardcore prayer that we NEVER lose Frog or we are DONE.......

If you have a binkie baby you also know that no matter how many you own there are just never enough. My youngest has 10 in her crib right now as I type. If I could, I would put 231 more in there... just in case she would wake only to not be able to find one within her reach :)

Works for me Wednesday: Knowing there are cookies in that there Jar!

I looooooove to bake. My favorite things are cookies since they are mostly easy. (Except for the fancy smancy ones that my littles really don't like) I also love my cookie jars. They add some holiday flair to my kitchen, depending on the season. What I don't love so much is the fact that once said cookies go in the jar, people forget about them and they end up not being eaten!!!

To remedy the problem I have come up with this.

Its a simple photo/ place card holder. (This one is from our wedding) You can find them anywhere or make your own. ( I will be making one on the blog later in the month.) I then cut out a foam shape that I found in my craft pile. Oh the wonders of foam !!! But that's another post.... Its a green tree for Christmas or a red ornament, a leaf for fall, a heart for Valentines... you can use anything! They also sell pre-made shapes at craft stores if you are scissor challenged. :)

I write on the foam with a sharpie or gel pen and place it beside the cookie jar. I was amazed how well it worked! Now the sign catches the whole families attention. (Even visitors in our home asks for a cookie because they see the sign!) The cookies are eaten and nothing goes to waste! And that works for this mama....

To see more great WFMW ideas visit We are That Family!