Thursday, November 27, 2008


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's Cookin' -- Snicker Salad

I just passed this along to a friend and thought it would be a perfect post for What's Cookin'.

Snicker Salad
6 apples ( I use golden delicious)
6 snicker bars (I freeze them for a half hour)
1 tub Cool Whip

1. Cut apples and snickers into bite size pieces.
2. Mix with Cool Whip.

**To preserve the apples use a little lemon juice after cutting them. This will stop them from browning, but doesn't affect their taste.**


Here are two activities that we did yesterday with our first snowfall. We got 4 inches!

Paint a snow scene

Materials: white paint, blue paper, sponge (I used a bath sponge)

Directions: Put sponge in paint and give to child to paint. We did a little finger painting, too.
Bring outside in (Sensory)
I brought in a bowl of snow for my daughter to feel and scoop. We only did this for a couple minutes because the snow is so cold. But it was a lot of fun to watch her explore.

'Twas the Night before Thanksgiving

I picked up this witty book many years ago and absolutely love it. It shows the journey of a children's field trip to a turkey farm. And how the children solve the fate of the turkeys. "'Twas the Night before Thanksgiving" has similar rhyme scheme as "Twas the Night before Christmas" and if very enjoyable to read.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How I plan meals

It's been a little trickier planning our meals since our 15-month-old started eating with us a couple months ago. She has allergies to milk and egg. It's not until you start really reading labels do you realize how many items have milk in them. The egg allergy has been easier to avoid and she actually tolerates it cooked in burgers and pancakes. We also just got another half a hog and ordered a quarter cow, which we plan to receive in about a month. This helps a lot in making menus.

At the end of each month I plan the next month's meals. I leave Saturdays and Sundays open for eating out and grilling (or leftovers). I will take a look at the meals I make (many posted here) and vary them. First I vary the week's menu with beef, pork, chicken and sometimes fish. Then I vary the meals throughout the month. Finally, I rotate some meals monthly. I will take ground beef recipes that are similar and spread them throughout the month -- hamburgers, sloppy joes, pizza burgers, tacos, goulash, chili, cas mac, etc. I make a roast a week -- I alter between pork and beef. And I will use different recipes for roasts from port-glazed roast to stew to crockpot roast. I'm always trying something new with roasts (they are easy to cut up and use in many recipes). For chicken, I vary the recipes and have tried some new ones recently. I also will freeze some chicken for future meals. Then I just pepper in other meals into the monthly menu, such as lasagna, kraut and kelbasa, tuna noodle, baked ziti, spaghetti, etc. I've been doing this for about six months and it only takes me about 10 minutes to fill out a calendar of meals for a month.

Working my daughter's dietary needs in has been a challenge, but what I do is make a little extra and put it aside for her without the milk or cream soups or cheese. I also will make batches of soup and freeze them for easy meals. I also freeze extra tomato sauce for a quick meal. I freeze them in the portion size she eats so there is not much waste. It's been working really well for us. We had some brats that we didn't really like that came with our last order of beef, but she loved them. My husband grilled them up for her one day when he was grilling and froze them into individual servings for her. Works great. I also don't add butter to any of our warm vegetables any more and if we have extra of those I will save them for her for lunches.

The key to menu planning for me is to have variety and to visualize it by placing it on a calendar. I still tweak the week before I go grocery shopping (for example if I have tacos planned for Friday, I might move it to Monday if I'm doing shopping early in the week so the lettuce doesn't go bad). I also can buy ahead if items are on sale. It's nice to have a guideline to follow and it alleviates a lot of thinking in the morning, not to mention the worry that I might not have all the ingredients. I hate shopping for one or two things, especially if I just did the grocery shopping.

E-coupons to giveaway

Recently, I have posted e-coupon giveaways for pizza crust, Progresso soup, and Yoplait Yogurt. If you haven't requested a coupon yet and are interested, these are still available. Just leave a comment or send me an e-mail with your e-mail address and I'll send one or all of them off.

If you don't leave an e-mail address I have no other way to send them out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Venus Embrace coupon winners

Winners of the $4 off coupon for a Venus Embrace razor were notified via e-mail with further instructions. Stay tuned for more coupon offers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's Cookin' -- Pizza Burgers

We ate this for school lunch in grade school. A few years back I tried to replicate the taste and I came up with this. Very kid friendly!

Pizza Burgers

1 lb ground beef
Mozzarella cheese, sliced works best (use vegan or soy-based cheese for dairy-free)
3 to 6 hamburger buns, depending on size

(this sauce makes enough for 3 meals. I use 1/3 per 1 lb of ground beef and freeze the rest in two containers for future meals)
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Brown ground beef. Drain.
2. Mix ingredients for sauce in a pot for 15 minutes on low.
3. Place hamburger buns open faced on cookie sheet (so 1 bun will equal 2 pizza burgers)
4. Toast buns at 300 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes (just so they are hard, not brown)
5. Mix meat and sauce together.
6. Scoop meat on each half of bun. Top with cheese.
7. Put back in oven for 5 to 7 minutes at 300 degrees or until cheese is melted.

**You can omit step 4, but doing so may make your pizza burger soggy.
**You could use a store brand of pizza sauce instead of making your own.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Critical Thinking

One of my philosophies in teaching young children is that all children should learn critical thinking skills. I know too many adults who are lacking in this area. Teaching young children to "think" can be quite easy and actually a lot of fun. Critical thinking doesn't begin when kids are teens reading complex paragraphs and trying to figure out symbolism or solving complex math problems. It occurs much earlier in life for those skills to become obtainable.

My daughter is 15 months old and here a couple things we do to encourage problem solving:

  • We play with the shape sorter.
  • We guess what character will be on the next diaper.
  • We guess what the next song will be (I put her music on shuffle).
  • We play "can you find (said toy)" almost all day long.
  • I let her get stuck and try to figure it out before helping her.
  • I'll give her the toy catalog and ask her to find a toy that she owns.
  • I often read a familiar book and say the title wrong. She looks perplexed and then I ask her what it says. Sometimes she answers. Eventually, I say "no, it's ..." and say it correctly.
  • I laminate cards with stickers and we play matching games.
  • Every book read and reread helps with critical thinking.
  • We just started working on putting things where they go. It takes way longer than doing it myself, but it is teaching her problem solve.
Here is a good article about problem solving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Organizational Monday -- It doesn't fit!

With a growing toddler, it seems that every other day I put on an outfit that doesn't fit anymore. I came up with a system to organize the clothes that don't fit any longer. I keep a gift bag (I have way too many of those) in her room. As I find something that is too small, I place it in the gift bag. When the bag is full, I transfer those clothes to the appropriate bin of clothes that is up in storage. I then only have to organize the clothes ever month or so instead of every time I find something that's too small. It's worked really successfully me.

I write today about it because the gift bag is overflowing. Guess it's time to put those clothes away!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Super Obama World!

You gotta check this out. Super Obama World -- it's a video game based on Super Mario Brothers. You can play online. It's got lipstick pigs, flag pins for coins and the bridge to no where (that actually goes no where). Pretty funny!

Venus Embrace coupon giveaway

As a member of Vocalpoint, I was given 5 coupons to give away.

Each coupon is $4 off a Venus Embrace razor.
Vocalpoint gave me a razor to try and it is great. The Venus products have been my choice for years, and I always love trying the new ones. I wonder how they can keep improving them. My legs feel so smooth after using the Embrace razor. I particularly like the design of this five-blade razor. It takes little effort to use. Sometimes I have to press to get the razor to my leg to get a closer shave, but not with this one. I highly recommend it.

If interested in winning one of these razor coupons, please leave a comment with your e-mail or send me an e-mail. If you don't leave an e-mail address you will not qualify. The five winners will randomly drawn and announced November 21, 2008.

Shopping for Toys

Here are some deals going on with two websites I've purchased toys from before.

All Aboard Toys
Shipping: $5.95 on all orders (some exceptions apply, such as furniture)
5% off under $25 order (code: Holidaysave5)
10% off $25 to $75 order (code: Holidaysave10)
15% off $75 to $125 order (code:Holidaysave15)
20% off $125 or more order (code:Holidaysave20)

Baby Center Store
Free shipping on $49 order or more (code: Freeship49)
They have lots of deals going on right now!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's Cookin' -- Crockpot Lasagna

Here's a really easy crockpot recipe. I make my own sauce and use these types of lasagna noodles. My garlic bread recipe goes great with this.

Crockpot Lasagna

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 box uncooked lasagna noodles
24 oz cottage cheese (I use low fat)
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Brown beef, onion, garlic with salt and pepper. Drain
2. Add sauce to the beef and place small amount on bottom of crockpot
3. Layer in crockpot in this order: noodles, cottage cheese, cheeses, beef. Layer several times and end with shredded cheeses.

**You really can't do this one wrong. Even if you accidentally end with sauce or cottage cheese, it will still turn out.**

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A turkey craft and an Octopus craft

Here are a couple of toddler activities. Feel free to adapt them to older kids!

Turkey with feathers

Materials: Feathers, turkey pattern
1. Cut out pattern and trace on brown paper (or feed brown paper in printer)
2. Let child pick out 10 feathers.
3. Have child show you where to glue the feathers.

**Glue tip: I put some elmers glue on a paper plate. I use a small paint brush to brush the glue onto the paper.**

Sometimes it can be overkill on the holiday crafts. The other day we were talking about an "octopus" in a book and I remembered this craft I saw once at a Early Childhood Conference a few years ago.

Materials: Octopus pattern, hole reinforcement stickers
1. Trace pattern onto purple paper (or feed purple paper in printer). I had to enlarge it a little for the size I wanted.
2. Give child hole sticker and allow them to stick it on the octopus.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cleaning the Microwave

I had read this tip a long time ago and finally tried it a few months ago. It is a really simple way to clean the microwave.

** Put a wet rag in the microwave and heat it up for 30 seconds. Then wipe out the microwave. The steam from the rag spreads throughout the whole microwave making it easy to wipe out. Do be careful, though, the rag will be very hot with steam**

Busy Morning

For some reason Mondays are my most productive day. I woke up at 6:50 a.m. and showered before the baby got up (something that's very hard for me to do). Here's a list of everything I got done before 10 a.m. today.

  • Made dairy-free french toast (recipe here)
  • Gave the baby a bath
  • Made a pot of beef vegetable soup to freeze
  • Vacuumed
  • Did my Monday morning purge
  • Got three loads of laundry started (one folded and put away)
  • Did an octopus craft with my daughter
  • Read a couple of stories
  • Danced and sang songs
  • Not to mention all the little odds and ends such as changing diapers, etc.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Yep, back to our old winters (before winter even begins). It's 31 degrees and there have been small flurries on and off all morning. Nothing sticking to the ground, but I did see cars covered in snow yesterday when I was driving to town. Wonder where they came from. I'm not a big fan of cold and winter. But I do like the first couple months of the snow. By the end of January I'm ready for short sleeves and walks outside.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Progresso Soup Coupons Giveaway

As a member of Pssst, I have several offers given to me and to pass along. This one is for Progresso Soup.
Download $3 worth of coupons here!

If you would like another coupon for Progresso soup, leave a comment with your e-mail and I can send an e-coupon your way!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Target markdowns

I recently read some information about sales at Target after a holiday. It was really helpful for me this week when I bought two plush Sesame Street Halloween buckets for $4 (originally $8 each).

Target's Holiday Clearance Schedule
- 50% off day after holiday for three days
- 75% off fourth day after holiday for three days
- 90% off seventh day after holiday for 1-2 days.
Also here are some toy coupons for Target!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's Cookin' -- Garlic Bread

We have tried countless different ways to make garlic bread. All have been good, but this one has been great. My husband had garlic bread at Buca di Peppo and wanted to replicate it at home. This is what we came up with and really enjoy it.

Garlic Bread
1 french loaf (the actual recipe calls for focaccia bread cut into two halves)
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano

1. Slice bread into 1 inch pieces
2. Butter bread and place face up on baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle Parmesan on each piece.
4. Put three garlic slices on each piece.
5. Sprinkle mozzarella on each piece.
6. Sprinkle oregano on each piece.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes

Fish Sensory Project

I tried taking a picture of this, but it didn't turn out too well. I'll do my best to describe it.

Foodsaver (or ziploc bags and packaging tape)
Blue hair gel (cheap as you can find)
Plastic fish (small party favor size)

1. Place fish and gel in Foodsaver bag. Make bag any size you want. Mine is 6 x 10.
2. Seal up with a little air still inside.
**If you don't have a Foodsaver, you can use a ziploc bag and lots of packaging tape to seal it securely.**

It will look like the fish are in water. Toddlers love to squish the bag and find the fish. Very easy and not too expensive. Other items that could be used are bugs. Be creative.

I'll get caught up soon

We've been sick around here, so I've been pretty slow. I will get caught up on my blog either today or tomorrow. Here's what's planned!

Tues: Fish Sensory project
Wed: Garlic Bread recipe
Thurs: Target deals after holidays

Check back soon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I was the 608th person to vote in our tiny township of 3,666 (pop. as of 2000). I voted at 9:20 a.m. And the flow of traffic was heavy. I barely found a parking spot. Should be an interesting day for election results!

Monday, November 3, 2008


How long does it take?

When I started using formula for my daughter, I was curious how long it would take us to get through a can. It was expensive and we had to order it through insurance. So when I opened a can I dated the day I opened it. This helped me know how long it took me to go through it and how much to order. Since then I have been doing that with other items, too. I like to stock up and buy when I see it on sale, but we don't have a lot of extra storage. It really helps me with shopping, especially with newer items we use. Once I know the average, I don't date them any further.

Examples of dated items
Large jar of applesauce
Disposable diaper bags
Paper Towel
Half gallon of soy milk


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