Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Two Cents on Jon and Kate

The first few episodes of Jon and Kate that I watched, I didn't like them.  I didn't like the idea of kids being put in the spotlight.  The show stressed me out just watching it.  But the show (with it's many episodes in just a couple short years) started to grow on me.  Maybe because I could relate as a mom and teacher that taking care of kids is tough and it was nice to see people being "real."  I liked seeing the spectrum of emotions.

But after a couple months of watching every episode that aired (new and rerun) I began to wonder what the kids will think of this years from now.  Will they look back and feel ashamed when they see their parent's putting them in time out when they are 3 years old?  And have you ever noticed that portray some as "good" kids and others as "problem" kids.  Will these kids look back and count how many good things and bad things their parents said about them on a TV show before they even could talk?  I just worry about the time one of them makes a poor choice and that is exploited.  Odds are with eight kids there will be something in the teenage years that one of them may do wrong.  

And somehow these normal parents were able to go places and do things many of us put on hold after we have kids.  They would like us to think they have no help, but we all know that isn't true.  Why not show us the help and actual work -- maybe that's not good TV.  And sadly that is what it all comes down to.  What good TV?  I can guarantee you if a camera followed me around all day it would be pretty boring.  Yep, here I am doing dishes and making lunch again. Now we're painting purple pictures.  Oh, look I'm reading stories for 20 minutes before nap.  And speaking of that, you really never see much of that on this show.  The family just "being" together.  I've worked with kids in many capacities and even in the largest groups there are those "bonding" moments.  Time that is focused on talking, reading, singing, sharing, or creating together.  

My two cents:  Reality TV is not real, no matter what you watch.  It is scripted.  It is planned.  It is edited.  It is produced.  It is marketed.  

My Target Deal

Sometimes I can really find some deals at Target.  Yesterday, while I was shopping they had several isles filled with items I use that were 15 to 30 percent off.  

The best deal I found was for Easy Ups.  When I began my shopping I was looking at Huggies Pull-ups because I have a $5 off coupon.  The Pull-ups were $17 for 68 (including 7 overnight Pull-ups) after coupon.  The Easy Ups were $18 for 72 after a $2 off coupon.  When I turned down the sale isle, there were two packs of Easy Ups for $16.98 each plus I had two $2 off coupons.  The total was just under $30 for 144 Easy Ups, a savings of almost $8 (about 21 cents an Easy Up). When you're talking diapers and training pants you gotta get the best savings you can.  

Other highlights:  
105 Lysol Wipes for $3.81 (regular price over $4 for 80)
2 packs of 710 Kleenex tissues for $3.81 each (regular price $4.26 for 600)
6 Big Rolls Bounty for $4.49 (after stacking two coupons) -- my rule for paper towels is no more than $1 a roll (and that's for a big roll)
2 Kashi Waffles for 29 cents (after 2 $1.50 coupons)

I also had a $5 gift card earned from a previous deal.  I decided with all the money I saved that it would be a good trip to buy razors for my husband and I even had a $1 off coupon for those.

All in all I saved a lot of money and got some stock up items!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Chicken Stock

Check out this dairy-free brownies recipe over on my other blog -- my daughter even helped me make them!

Now, to today's recipe. A while back I found cut-up fryer chicken really cheap.  I picked up three.  I've never made chicken stock before and found this recipe in Preventions Freezer Cookbook: Quick dishes for and from the Freezer.  It was very easy to do and yielded three 1 cups and two 14 oz of chicken stock.  On top of that I was able to freeze the chicken for future use for chicken salad or casseroles.  

Chicken Stock
14 cups water
4 lbs chicken pieces
2 large carrots
2 small onions
6 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves

1. Combine all in large stock pot. 
2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat.
3. Skim foam from top. Reduce heat to low.
4. Cook for 2 hours.
5. Strain stock through colainder.
6. Save chicken for later.
7. Discard vegetables.
8. Refrigerate overnight. Defat by skimming off and any solidified fat before using.

**Freezing tip:  pour into 1 cup containers (I used cheap containers from the dollar store) and place in freezer for a few hours.  Place in foodsaver bags or freezer bags after frozen.  I also will re-use glass jars to freeze stock, as well.** 

Check out more great recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gotta Headache..

Drink water if you have a headache.  I recently read that drinking water helped 60 percent of people get rid of their headaches in a study.  Makes sense to me.  If you are dehydrated, one of the symptoms is a headache.  Drinking water will hydrate you and make the heachache go away.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thrifty Thursday -- Garage Sale

Last summer we had a garage sale and didn't make a lot of money.  This year we did better, but still have a ton of items left.  Most of our items were small items and the higher priced items didn't seem to go.   We made about $170, which isn't bad considering it's basically stuff we have been hauling around from place to place for many years now.  I parted with a lot of books and some cookbooks.  

Books that didn't sell went to Half Priced Books and donated to neighbor's church bizzaar.  I got $72 for about 60 CDs and 35 books at Half Priced Books.  Not bad considering they've been in boxes for the last couple years. 

The rest is going to a thrift store.  We are done storing stuff we don't use.  I am going to save a few items to donate in the near future to department stores that accept donated items in return for discounts on the department store items (some even go toward items that never go on sale in the cosmetic department).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Lemonade

I've mentioned that I'm on a lemon kick lately.  If you missed last week's lemon cookie recipe, check it out here!  

This is a great recipe for lemonade.  I found the recipe here and followed it exactly.  So good!!

3 lemons
1 lime
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 quart pitcher

1. Boil water.
2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Take off heat.
3. Add lemon and lime juice.
4. Pour mixture into 2 quart pitcher.
5. Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water.

** Between steps 3 and 4 you can strain the lemonade if you don't want pulp.**

Toddler days

My little toddler appears to have some seasonal allergy issues this week.  She's been cranky after nap and her nose is runny.  We went to the doctor yesterday and he thought it was allergies, not a cold.  So we are trying to catch up a little.  I've compromised some housework to just sit with her in the same room for an hour or two at a time.  What else can you do when she's not feeling well and wants you by her side?

One new game we are playing is on her magnetic drawing board.  I draw a circle and add ears and she draws the eyes, nose and mouth.  Sure it looks like scribbles, but she gets really excited.  I've drawn a dog, a bunny, and Abby Cadabby (my best drawing yet) without faces and she adds the face.  I love that we can erase and start over again...and again...and again...and again. In true toddler fashion.  If you don't have a Magna Doodle or Parent's Young at Art -- you have to get one.  They are so much fun.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cleaning the floors - ugh

When you have carpet throughout most of the house, it's easy to vacuum and clean it up.  But with wood and tiled floors, it's more of a challenge to clean.  I've found that cleaning the floors on my hands and knees is most effective.  The other day, I was spot cleaning some crayon off the floor with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  And it clicked, why don't I use that to clean the floors?  I did cleaned the floors yesterday and went through 2 Magic Erasers.  I think the floors were extra dirty, even though I vacuum and sweep and mop every day (or every other day for mopping).  Dirty just surfaces.  It worked great.  I love using the Magic Eraser on toys and other tough spots, but I never thought to use it on the floor.  I would suggest (as it does on the package) to test a spot before cleaning any surface with it.  I've never had a surface it couldn't clean, but you never know.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Receipt surveys

Always check your receipt to see if you got a survey at the bottom. Most surveys are taking a phone or online. The incentive is usually a percentage off or dollars off. I frequently get these at stores such as Pet Smart, Victoria's Secret and JC Penny, which always has one for 15 percent off future purchase.  The last survey I did for Pet Smart was so simple.  It was a phone survey and only one question was asked -- how satisfied were you at your last visit to Pet Smart?  And with that I got $3 off my next purchase at Pet Smart.  The best part is that we buy dog food at Pet Smart that never goes on sale, so getting a $3 discount is really helpful.  My thinking is that $3 buys me a half gallon of milk for my daughter.

I often stack the 15 percent JCPenny survey with a $10 off $10 coupon that I often get in the mail.  It can create for a nice discount.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pampers Gifts to Grow Point

If you are collecting Pampers Gifts to Grow points, here is a free code that anyone can use. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Lemon Cookies

These were one of the best cookies I've ever eaten.  I adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Living magazine.  

Lemon Cookies
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Lemon Glaze
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp Lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugar in separate bowl. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon juice until combined.
4. Add flour mixture.
5. Drop dough tablespoon-size, one inch apart.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. Let cool for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks.
8. Make lemon glaze by combining confectioners sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
9. Spread glaze over cookies and let set for one hour.

**Glaze tip:  Simply tip the cookie upside down into the glaze.  Don't worry that it might be too much -- they taste excellent.**

Check out more recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge!

What's Cookin'-- Someone's coming to dinner

Earlier today, when my daughter and I were at the park, my husband called and said he was bring a co-worker to dinner.  I had pork chops planned (and he took out another pack from the freezer -- it's so nice having meat in the freezer), but hadn't really thought ahead from that.  I usually figure out the potato and vegetable an hour before dinner, unless I'm trying a new dish.  I froze rolls yesterday.  But I felt I needed a dessert and I didn't have anything that came to mind.  After a little searching I came up with my menu.

Here was tonight's menu
Boiled Red potatoes
Frozen corn
Coffee Cake (recipe below)

Here's the recipe for the coffee cake.  The original recipe is here, but I adapted some changes after reading the reviews.

Coffee Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp sour cream

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Grease 8x8 pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl.  Set aside.
3. Beat egg, sugar, butter.  Add milk, vanilla, and sour cream.
4. Mix in flour mixture with wet ingredients.
5. Pour batter in 8x8 pan.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
7. Prepare topping.  Mix butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon together until crumbly.
8.  After the cake has baked for 15 minutes, put topping on cake and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until cake is done.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mickey Mouse Matching Game

I came up with this idea a few years ago, but recently read in a parenting magazine that some one else had the same idea.  So I guess many people think outside the box.

I found these Mickey Mouse paint chips at Home Depot and took as many home as I could.  There are many colors: white, black, purple, green, orange, red, blue.  I laminated them and now use them for a matching game.  

Other ideas/Variations
  • I also made a board with color words for older children to match the Mickey Mouse color with the word.
  • Make patterns.  Have children create their own patterns or finish a pattern you start.
  • Add or subtract cards.  Example, if I have 3 Mickey cards and you have 2 Blue how many do we have?
  • The colors correspond with my color book. Update, my daughter now knows green, pink, brown, white, and purple after using the color book for a couple weeks!
  • Place all cards face down and have older kids write the colors as they find them on a separate piece of paper.
  • They could be used to pick groups.
  • Use a permanent marker and write letters on them.  Have older kids make words, recognize letters, match upper and lower case letters..  Hint: use hairspray to wipe the letters off the cards.
  • Use permanent marker and write number on the cards.  Use for number recognition, adding, subtracting, etc.
  • The list really is endless.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Coming this week

Here are some ideas you will see posted in the week ahead!
  • Organizational Monday: Already posted here.
  • About the Kids Tuesday: Cheap Teacher/Parent Made project (Mickey Mouse matching game)
  • What's Cookin' - Wednesday: Lemon Cookies (so yummy)
  • Thrifty Thursday: Receipt Surveys
  • Anything Goes Friday: Anything goes

Paper Plate Tip

This sorta falls into both organizing and money saving tips. 

 I noticed we were going through way too many paper plates.  I tend to use them more often now that we don't have a dishwasher.  I remembered at the day care I worked at we used half paper plates for snacks.  So, now we cut a bunch of paper plates in half and use those for snacks, cutting up bananas, and other smaller tasks.  My moon-obsessed daughter calls them "moon plates."  


Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there.  My husband and daughter gave me some chocolate, a gift card to one of my favorite stores, and a lemon squeezer (I've been on a lemon kick lately).  Tonight my husband is making steaks -- he's makes them so tasty.  

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Huggies coupons to give away -- closed winner e-mailed

I have 3 separate Huggies coupons to give away.  I hate throwing away diaper coupons, and we use Pampers.  Here's what I've got to offer for my giveaway!

  • $3/2 Any Huggies Diapers, exp. 7/5/09
  • $3/2 Any Huggies Diapers, exp. 7/5/09
  • $3/1 Huggies Pure and Natural Diapers, exp 12/31/09

To enter leave a comment below with e-mail or a way to contact you.  One winner will be e-mailed Wednesday, May 13.

(Winner of last week's coupon giveaway is Amanda, who has been e-mailed)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's Cookin' - Pizza Burgers

These are a great alternative to hamburgers.  They reminded me of a pizza burger I used to eat at A&W years ago.  They taste very different from my other pizza burger recipe.

Pizza Burgers
These can be frozen, which is another great reason to love them. I found this recipe in Prevention's Freezer's Cookbook: Quick dishes for and from the Freezer.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup onions
1/4 cup bread crumb (I use crushed saltines)
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper

4 slices mozzarella cheese (recipe calls for 1/4 shredded mozzarella cheese, but I found slices easier to use. Use vegan or soy-based cheese to make dairy-free)
4 hamburger buns
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp mayo
4 tomato slices

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Mix meat, onions, bread crumbs, ketchup, garlic, oregano, basil and pepper together.  Form into 4 patties.
3. Place patties in broiler for 8 minutes.
4. Flip patties and broil for 5 minutes or until no longer pink.
5. Place cheese on top and broil for one minute longer.
6. Mix mayo and mustard together and spread on buns.
7. Place burgers with tomatoes in buns.

Check out more recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge!

Time outs

I do not believe time outs are the best approach for disciplining children, especially toddlers.   Here is an article that I agree with.  

I believe much more in talking to children and working on correcting behavior.  I often hear of people putting their toddlers in time out because they did something "wrong."  The problem with this is that they don't really remember that what they did is wrong.  They might remember when you tell them, but to "punish" them because they are learning how to act doesn't make sense to me.  Think about it, does an employer put you in time out if you make a mistake?  Sounds pretty funny.  I believe in consistent parenting with high demands and high expectations.  I also believe that patience is key and at times it's okay to compromise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Coupon organization

Sometimes I get so many coupons, I don't know how to keep track of them.  There are lots of ideas out there, but I think you have to do what works for you.  

I started a new list of all the "store" coupons I've been getting either by the mail, e-mail or from surveys.  On the list I list the store, the discount and expiration date. I cross off once I use a coupon.  That way when I trot to that store I can check the list to see if I have a coupon.  A lot of times I don't use these coupons, so I don't carry them around with me.  But there are times I shop at a store and come home to find a 15 percent off coupon in my pile.  A side note, if you do find a coupon after you make a purchase, just go back to the store and customer service will adjust the cost.  Sometimes, you can even do this over the phone.

Hopefully, my new system will eliminate multiple trips.  

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Garage Sale Find

I stopped at two garage sales this morning.  I picked up some great deals.  I found a table and chairs for my daughter for $7 -- table is normally $25. Now she can eat snack and do crafts at her own table!  I also found wooden ABC blocks, magnetic bugs, and an Elmo Laptop each for $2, a toy wagon for $3, books and yarn for .50 cent each.   The cheapest I've seen that Elmo laptop in stores is $25, so I got a steal.

I only paid $20 for some gently used items that will give my daughter lots of fun.  


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