Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Calendar Idea

Here's a simple advent calendar idea.  Simply put a cotton ball each day on Santa's beard.  By Christmas he will have a fluffy white beard.   The link will give you a santa to print.

Crafts at the Library

I am so happy we moved to a city that has an excellent children's program at the library. Yesterday the library had crafts.  There were many crafts for kids to choose from and we we made three.  The volunteers were so patient and helpful.  Here the three crafts we made with some quick directions.

Pine cone Ornament
Simply squirt glue on the pine cone.  Sprinkle with glitter.  Give it time to dry.  Use a piece of yarn to tie a loop to hang.

Holiday Visor
Follow the pattern here.  Trace on foam or cardstock.  Use holiday (or any) foam stickers and crayons (or markers) to decorate.  Punch holes on each end. Use two pieces of yarn.  Tie each end of yarn to the visor and then tie two ends together to fit child's head.

I don't have any patterns for this one.  You can probably find some antlers online somewhere that will work.  The rest is pretty easy to figure out.

Repost -- Chai Tea

I've posted this recipe in the past, but I have to share it again.  It's my favorite tea to drink this time of year.  For more great holiday drink ideas, check out here.

I'm posting this to participate in the Second Annual Bloggy Progressive Dinner.  Stop back all week for great recipe ideas!

Chai Tea
I originally found this recipe here.  I accidentally added less of one ingredient and too much of another last time I made this last time and it really didn't change the flavor at all.  So, if you are adventurous you could be creative with this one or make it as is.

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. In a large bowl, combine milk powder, non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavored creamer, sugar and instant tea.
2. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
3. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time.  Mixture should be the consistency of fine powder.

To serve: Stir 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of Chai tea mixture into a mug of hot water.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


We had a nice and relaxing Thanksgiving at home -- just the three of us. There was no running to get anywhere at a certain time and it was surprising a lot less work.  I also didn't have to worry about what my daughter ate, as I made everything dairy-free.   The day was stress-free. Having my husband and daughter with me in our new home for our first holiday means so much. I am so thankful that after almost five years of knowing my husband that we continue to have strong relationship.  We are so thankful to finally have a place to call home, and it certainly was call for celebration.

Thanks to Kate at Stolen Moments Menu Planning we had great recipes for our turkey and stuffing.  It was one of the tastiest turkeys I've ever eaten. We made a large bird (12 pounds) and froze a good portion of it. And we made lots of turkey stock.  I made turkey and wild rice chowder (thanks again Kate) with leftovers.

We enjoyed our day.  Hope you enjoyed yours!

A little Diversion this month

I'm going to forgo my blog a day this month.  There are lots of sites hosting holiday recipe swaps and we will be making lots of holiday crafts, too.  I'll be posting as regular, but I'm not going to limit my posts.  Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Crockpot Whole Chicken

Check this link from A Year of Slow Cooking for the best tasting crockpot chicken I've made yet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Curtains for a Little Girl's Room

In my search for curtains for our new house, I discovered something.  Kid's curtains are not usually room darkening.  And room darkening curtains aren't that interesting.  We painted our walls an off-white, so I really wanted to do something with color (and fun) on the curtains, especially in our 2-year-old's room.  Our budget for window treatments was not very big. And room darkening curtains were the only option becuase the sun sets in her room and there is a very bright street light outside her window.

I asked worker at Bed Bath and Beyond if they had anything "girly" that was room darkening.  She said no, but they had sheers that were "girly".  And she suggested putting the sheers on the outside of a white room darkening curtain.  Genius, I thought.  We were already using some beige room darkening curtains that I couldn't figure out where to put in the new house with the white walls.  I purchased some sheers at JCPenny on friends and family day.   We bought a double rod from Bed Bath and Beyond (used a coupon) and put the room darkening curtains behind the sheers.  In the day we open the room darkening curtains leaving the fun girly curtains closed and at night (and nap) we close the room darkening curtains to keep the light out.  The cost was just under $50 with reusing the old curtains.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No-Bake Chocolate Crunchies

Here's a yummy toddler (and adult) snack posted on my other blog!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Simple Thanksgiving Craft

Here's a really simply sign you can make.  I just used poster board that I had and paint that we use for finger-painting.

I used foam letters that you can find pretty cheap at Walmart or the Dollar Store.  Then we simply stamped the letters with paint to say "Happy Thanksgiving."  My daughter was really patient as she helped me stamp the sign, so I let her put one finger in the paint and put leaves on the sign.  After we finished this craft, I had some extra paper ready so she could paint at will.  I always have something extra in case she's not done when I am. She also colored a turkey that we glued to the sign.

What we focused on: working together, patience, letters, letter sounds, turkeys, thanksgiving and enjoyment.

This could be easily done for other signs or other projects.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aveeno Coupon Giveaway -- Closed winners e-mailed

I recently became a Bzzz Agent .

I was sent a sample of Aveeno's Baby Essential Moisture Shampoo and some diaper cream samples.  And some coupons to hand out.  I have 2 coupons left and 2 lucky winners will win a $1/1 any Aveeno product. First read my thoughts on Aveeno products!

Here is what I think of Aveeno in general and then my reviews of the products.  My 2-year-old daughter (who has food allergies) has sensitive skin. From about six months to just a little over a year she had really bad eczema.  It was hard to control, but I did find some simple solutions that worked for us.  The main bath product we use for her is Aveeno. It was the only product  that worked for her sensitive baby skin that didn't cost and arm and a leg.  It would have been so nice to have her smell all lavendary, but to watch her skin breakout was not nice at all.  We haven't tried anything else since she was six months olds.  We use the creamy wash for her and I was excited to try the Aveeno Baby Essential Moisture  Shampoo.  It was a little different from the creamy wash, and I worried that it had a light fragrance.  But it washed her hair really well and didn't cause any breakouts.  Which leads me to diaper rash.

I quickly learned that diaper creams have fragrence in them adding to the diaper rash problem.  If you can smell them, then there is fragrence -- no question.  Aveeno makes a really good (fragrance-free) diaper cream -- Soothing Relief Diaper Rash Cream.  When my daughter was younger, again during the six month to 18 month range, I would use vaseline on every diaper change and double up with Aveeno diaper rash cream on rashes.  Creams that swear to clear up in one use are just too good to be true.  The truth is that diaper rash is caused by a reaction, whether it's teething, diaper cream, the diaper itself, illness, food allergy/sensitivity or something else it.  So unless the reaction is under control, which may take a day or four the diaper rash will be there.  I found that Aveeno diaper cream helps soothe the rashy area, and I would never think about using anything else.

Aveeno is not that costly, and I often can find it on sale.  When it's on sale I search high and low for a coupon (or just save coupons for a sale).  Sometimes Target even has a store coupon that I can combine with a manufacturer coupon.  Aveeno also lasts a long time because we don't use a lot at one time because it is so concentrated.  Yes, it would be nice to have Dora bath bubble to make bathtime more fun, but that's what the toys are for.  Soap is for cleaning and should not cause a reaction.

Check out my advice for turning Aveeno Creamy Wash into foam soap!

Now, onto the giveaway.  All you need to do is leave a comment with an e-mail or link to your blog. Share a tip about kids and sensitive skin if you wish.  There will be two winners winners of a $1/1 any Aveeno product coupon.  Winners be drawn from will be announced and e-mailed November 30.  Good luck!

What's Cookin' -- Chicken Puffs

I actually was given this recipe from Kate and her Stolen Moments Planning Service.  But I did a search to see that it's a pretty common recipe.  Here's a link to a recipe chicken puffs.  I (as I often do) changed the recipe a little.  I love that this will reheat well and be a good lunch.

Chicken Puffs

1 to 2 cups precooked chicken
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp butter
4 oz cream cheese
3 4oz packages of crescent rolls (you can buy larger packages, of course)

1. Melt butter on medium heat.
2. Add onion and garlic.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Add chicken for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
4. Blend together cream cheese and chicken.  I use my Kitchen Aid for ease.
5. Open crescent rolls into rectangles (two triangles).
6. Place large spoonful of chicken mixture in center of each rectangles.
7. Roll into ball.
8. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 325 degrees.

Check out ore great recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Easy Holiday craft

We made this craft today from Ramblings of a Crazy Woman's blog -- my favorite blog for crafts!  Lots of fun and looks really good.  I let my daughter put the pieces anywhere.  We focused on following directions and doing a craft together.

Monday, November 16, 2009

We are unpacked!

We moved on Halloween and I am happy to report that we are all unpacked.  Well, we have a basement of disorganization still, but we are planning to get that taken care of soon.  The main living floor is done.  My husband took my daughter out of the house for about three hours Saturday morning so I was able to just get it done.  Funny what not being interrupted every two minutes can do. My hope is to share some of my organizational strategies in the weeks ahead, including how I converted two junk drawers into a system that works well for us.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thrifty Thursday Tip

It's baking season.  Be sure to stock up on baking goods.  They are the best deals of the year.

And remember if they are all of out something, be sure to get a raincheck.  I was in Walgreens yesterday and was hoping to get flour and raisins.  But instead I walked out with a raincheck for each and was told they had no expiration.  Plus, I have some coupons for Gold Medal Flour coming in the mail.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's Cookin' -Shell Lasagna

I made this one up to use up some feta cheese that we have.  I've seen variations of this recipe all over the place lately, so I decided to just whip up what I thought might work.  It was so good.  My husband named it Shell Lasagna.  You can add more cheese or sauce to your liking.  These ingredients are really only guidelines.  Sometimes it's nice to be creative...

Shell Lasagna

15 jumbo shells
Tomato sauce with or without meat (use jar or homemade)
2 oz feta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (for topping)

1. Cook jumbo shells in boiling water according to package. Drain. Let cool.
2.  In bowl, mix feta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella and 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese together.
3. Stuff cheese mixture in each cooked jumbo shell.
4. Place in each stuffed shell in casserole dish.
5. Pour sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

**You can substitute ricotta cheese for feta cheese**

For more great recipes, check out the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Spin Art

I recently was in thrift store and found a salad spinner for $2.  I've been looking for one for a while now, but they are hard to find.  I think I saw one in a retail store for $30.

I followed these instruction to create some fun art.  My daughter really enjoyed spinning and squirting paint.  It's really fun and easy to do.  And I didn't find it that messy (at least compared to a toddler who will paint with her fingers for 20 minutes or longer).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dairy-Free Recipes

I just went back and labeled those of my recipes that are free of milk, dairy-free.  If you struggle with meals for those with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, I hope you might find one or two that will work for you!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bed Bath and Beyond Coupons

I learned something new this weekend when I was trying to find accessories for curtains.  I had a $5 off $15 purchase coupon and a 20 percent off one item each for Bed Bath and Beyond.  Yes, that store can be a little overpriced, but sometimes they have a little better selection to choose from.  Plus I always scan the reduced rack (we purchased our sliverware from there and paid a fraction of the cost just because the wooden container that holds the silverware was cracked).

I learned this weekend that you can use multiple coupons per item you have at Bed Bath and Beyond. So if you have four 20 percent off coupons, you can use each one for four separate items.  They let me use both my $5 off and two 20 percent off coupons in the same purchase (I had an extra in my purse).  Wow!  I saved nearly $20 total.

So, get on their mailing list.  Their coupons never expire.  You can stock up and make a pretty successful shopping trip at Bed Bath and Beyond!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'll be back soon!

We moved this weekend and I have been up to my eyeballs in cleaning and unpacking.  I feel like I've barely gotten a start.  I will post something for Thrifty Thursday tonight or tomorrow and will be back next week for a blog a day!!  Thanks for being patient!!


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