Friday, February 28, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014
"Shouldn't" being the key word in that sentence.
Enough winter gloom, onto more important matters. These little guys are perfect for St. Patrick's Day. I'm reposting them because they are easy and have just enough "wow" to make them special.
One box white cake mix, prepared
One container vanilla icing
Assorted food coloring (I used red, blue, green)
Green sugar for decorating
Prepare cupcake mix. Separate batter evenly into four small bowls. Using food coloring, tint batter in 3 of the bowls, each a different color. Leave one bowl with the plain batter.
Spoon the batter into cupcake liners, alternating colors. I find they look best when you finish with the standard un-tinted cupcake batter on top.
Bake as directed. I bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool.
Frost generously with icing. I tinted mine green and rolled edges on green decorator sugars.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Monday, February 24, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
I got married at 20, and had my first munchkin at 21. As a result, my career has always been managing this circus (er, family). I have had a few part time jobs here and there, but we basically survive on Hubby's salary. This has always prompted the "How do you do it???" question from friends and acquaintances.
I can understand the curiosity. We have a large family, and our children are all clothed (in public anyway) and they all wear shoes. Hubby and I are also clothed, and we don't look like we walked out of 1985. We obviously go shopping. Our munchkins do sports and have birthday parties. We live a semi-normal existence. We are normal as it gets with munchkins wrecking havoc everywhere.
So, how do we do it? How do we provide for our family on (basically) one salary?
It's NOT easy.
In order to make ends meet, it is imperative that I stretch our dollar. I have learned the value of store fliers and which stores double coupons (and what that is exactly). I have taught myself how to sell on eBay and how to rent our timeshare. I am relentless when it comes to making ends meet.
For tonight I will focus on groceries. I have enough money saving and stretch the dollar tips to write until next Saturday. My munchkins and Hubby would be rather disgruntled with the lack of attention.
I understand there is only so much time in the day. Yes, if you want to devote an hour each week to planning your meals and writing out your shopping list you can save a tremendous amount of money. I don't have that kind of time. Time is a luxury I can't afford, along with designer jeans and an in ground swimming pool.
GROCERIES: Tips on SAVING $.
I save at least an extra 30% every time I grocery shop. On good days I cut my bill in half. While starting any coupon system will take time to get used to, if you stick with it, it will only add a few minutes to your regular routine.
First and foremost, do your homework. Read your fliers. I am posting this Saturday evening, which means the Sunday Paper is hot off the press. Two words: BUY IT.
The Sunday Paper is an arsenal of money saving information. Fliers and coupons galore. Read them. Knowledge is not only power, but money.
One important note, DO NOT CLIP COUPONS FOR STUFF YOU DON'T BUY! Coupons only save you $ if you buy items you need and use. Saving $1.00 of a $3.00 yogurt no one eats isn't saving you money. It's just wasting LESS money.
Make sure you read the coupons carefully. You may need to buy two of an item, which is not worth it if the shelf life is not long. Also make a mental note of expiration dates.
I always tell Mommies to invest in a coupon organizer. Clipping coupons is only helpful if you have them with you. I bought my organizer at the "$1 Spot" at Target. When I saw them for sale again last spring, I bought some for my friends. Mine is small enough to keep in my giant "this is not a diaper bag" purse. I have it organized according to where the items are in the supermarket.
Baby Items, Bread and Cereal, General Food/Drink, Cold Items, House and Hygiene, Store Coupons and Receipts.
About once a month, I also check online for grocery coupons. My favorite site is Coupon Mom. I print the coupons I need and file them away.
Before you head out to the store, read through the grocery store fliers. Make your list according to what is on sale. Do your best to match a coupon to as much as possible. If you don't have a coupon for an item you need, check the manufacturer's website. You may be able to find printable coupons there as well.
Sale is good. Sale with a coupon is better. Clearance with a coupon is BEST.
I like to make my grocery list on a business style envelope. I mark what is on sale with an "S", and I star what I have a coupon for. I then place all the coupons I will need for my shopping trip in my envelope. This ensures you have the coupons ready when you go to check out. I have been that frazzled mom at the checkout with a screaming baby many times...coupons flying everywhere...Mommy sweat dripping down my back. Having coups handy in such debacles is quite a blessing.
DOUBLE COUPONS: This was a term that scared me in my early days of motherhood. What did it mean? It sounded complicated. What did I have to do to "Double" a coupon?
NOTHING. Double coupons are a beautiful thing. Several grocery stores (Shop Rite and Stop n Shop to name two) double manufacturer coupons. You know all those coupons you just clipped in the Sunday Paper? All of them, up to $0.99 will be doubled automatically at checkout. Here's how it works:
Crest Toothpaste is on sale at Shop Rite for $1.00. You have a coupon for $0.50 off any size Crest Toothpaste. Shop Rite will match that $0.50, and you just got that Toothpaste for free!
I never pay full price for anything unless absolutely necessary. If I am without a coupon I buy the store brand if it is cheaper. It is IMPOSSIBLE to maximize your savings if you have "brand loyalty". I do for some main items, such as Bounty Paper Towels. I clean more spills at breakfast than a third grade art teacher does in a day. Bounty is a must. But cotton swabs? I can assure you my ears don't care. In some cases, even with a coupon, the generic is cheaper. Give it a try.
I bought name brand eye solution for years. Always with a coupon, but it was still expensive. One day I decided to try Target's eye solution. It was $4.00 cheaper. A year later my eyes are still in my head and I can still see.
Items to buy generic:
Cookies (Chips Ahoy or not, your kid will eat it. I bet the farm.)
Sign up for email alerts at your favorite stores, and print coupons to save on clothes. Do your best to know what you need before you shop. Your wallet will thank you!
Check out my new page "Money Savers" for more tips!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
There are however, some pieces of mommy-ing that have made me completely appreciate small luxuries I took for granted before becoming a parent. In no particular order, I've thought of ten.
I should make one of these the ability to think. But that's a whole 'nother post.
1. Quiet. Complete and total quiet. The kind you experience when no one is home or everyone except you is sleeping. This explains why every mom stays up later than necessary, to experience the glorious sound of nothing.
I know it will get old one day. But these days it's worth savoring.
9. Breakfast that doesn't include scraps such as crust from toast, waffles or pop tarts.
10. Sleeping. Going to bed and waking up in the morning without 1-3 events such as the need for water, bad dreams, potty or puke in between.
Love my babies, and they've made me appreciate little things in life I've always taken for granted. I know one day I'll wish for noise, water requests ten minutes after bedtime and a buddy at the store. I can say with confidence the toilet cleaning I WILL NOT miss.
Share some of your small luxuries, I'd love to hear them.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
But every once in awhile we dive into a box. It lasts one day before they are gone.
With all the snow (bleck) and all the Valentine fun this week, I decided to try homemade Pop Tarts. I saw a recipe in the paper and I used it for reference. They were a success, and I had requests for another batch just a day later.
Even though they aren't the healthiest snack around, I know what's in them, and that makes them a little bit more welcome in my kitchen.
Enjoy, and if you're patience is up to it have the kids lend a hand!
1 large egg
1 package refrigerated pie dough
cookie cutter (if desired)
Brown sugar and cinnamon
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400.
Beat one large egg in a bowl, and unroll two sheets refrigerated pie dough onto wax paper. If desired, use cookie cutter (I used hearts for Valentine's Day) to cut dough. My dough made 16 hearts, yielding me 8 Pop Tarts.
Bake 12-15 minutes, or until just golden and centers slightly puff.
Enjoy and stay warm!
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I'm about to be brutally honest. I'm super frugal. I rarely care about brand names because when you care about brand names you don't have the same opportunities to save money.
For me to commit to brand loyalty, I have to LOVE it. Chocolate is an item that I refuse to skimp on. Paper towels I need to be selective. The cheap rolls don't cut it in this house.
One item that I am completely loyal to because of quality and price is Suave® My four kids use shampoo and conditioner like it's going out of style. We go through enough bottles that I often wonder how much is going on their heads and how much is sliding down the drain. For years now the only brand I ever buy, unless I find a great clearance sale on something more expensive, is Suave®.
I buy bottles and bottles and bottles. I was at Target one week and if you bought four bottles of Suave® you got a $5 gift card. I danced the jig I was so excited. I grabbed bottles of body wash, shampoo and moisturizing lotion. I stocked my bathroom closet full of products for my munchkins to abuse.
Suave® Body Care recently introduced Suave Professionals® to their line, offering women incredibly affordable moisturizers and oils to keep their skin soft. Considering my loyalty to Suave, I already had Suave body lotion in every bathroom. Our entire house suffers from dry skin in the winter. If I don't moisturize after my showers I have rough alligator skin that sticks to my clothes. It's horrific.
Naturally I was thrilled to try the Suave Professionals® Body Care line, and the first day I opened the bottle of Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Lotion I was IN LOVE.
Literally. The cream was like silk. It absorbed quickly and left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I have used many lotions on my skin. Over the years I've tried expensive and inexpensive. This has to be my favorite lotion because it's a brand I trust, the product is affordable and the results are amazing. It even smells good.
There is also a Dry Body Oil Spray, Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Dry Body Oil Spray. The non-greasy formula absorbs instantly and seals in long-lasting moisture. The Moroccan argan oil is a lightweight oil known to be rich in nutrients and antioxidants. I love the spray after my showers, because it absorbs quickly and doesn't feel greasy. I can get dressed quickly and my skin is soft.
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Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
Monday, February 10, 2014
Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Strawberry or Raspberry Jelly
Heart shaped cookie cutters, in two sizes. I like my cookies jumbo size, so mine were 4 inches and two inches (approx).
Preheat oven to 300.
In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Turn mixer to slow, and gradually add flour 1/2 cup at a time.
Dough will be crumbly. Don't fret. This dough reminds me of Moon Sand. It does amazing things.
Cut hearty cookies with 4 inch heart cookie cutters, remove center of 1/2 cookies with 2 inch heart cutters.
Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack.
Once cool, spread jelly on heart cookie. Top with cutout heart cookie.
I grabbed vanilla frosting, M&M's and colored sugars to switch gears and make a few different cookies for my munchkins.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Dad carry burdens too, just different kinds. And while they may not be as obvious, they're there. The difference in the burdens is that when dads need to go somewhere, there isn't as much (if any) concern about clean laundry for school or what's going in the lunch sacks. They either know its taken care of or they don't worry about it. I'm thinking it's a combination of both. I'm pretty sure Hubby knows I have it covered, and if I need his help I'll ask.
Let me stop here and say that Dads that stay home and take the reigns when mom is able to go back to work? Superstars.
I still remember Hubby telling me he let our eleven year old go inside and pay for the pizza as he watched from the car. I gasped for air. My baby? Pay for a pizza and take it back to the car? I knew Hubby was right there, literally, watching from outside the door. But say that again? Pay for a pizza without a parent next to him?!
A big lesson in independence I would have never dealt to my firstborn. But he survived. Imagine that.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
I also know that after I download anything it just sits on my computer until I print it, make a DVD or do something snazzy with it (which never, ever happens).
I just discovered this fab new video company made up of L.A. based directors, editors, and film-makers called Yourkidvid. They're bringing their movie-making talents to all those little videos we have hanging around on our phone and computer, and turn them into short films. Little cinematic experiences. I'm working on making my mini-movie and can't wait to show you guys in the future. I'm busy uploading and finding all those wonderful moments I've captured that have sat on my phone and hard drive for the last year. Maybe more.
Yourkidvid takes the work out of finding something awesome to do with all those crazy adorable pictures and videos of your kids. You give them the material, and they make something fabulous.
In the meantime, check it out and start uploading your own video clips. Just send them your videos and a few days later you'll have an awesome little movie you can share with your friends and family. They also offer Gift Cards so you can give the gift of a premium hand crafted movie. Perfect for baby shower gift, new mom, birthdays, mother's day... Pretty much for anyone anytime!
You're in luck because I have a 20% coupon code exclusively for my readers: YKV-NOV16F. Head over and check it out! I pinky-promise you'll be amazed.