Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Crafty Gift

A friend of mine is pregnant and had her baby shower over the weekend. I tackled a gift that I have been wanting to do for a little girl for sometime. Actually, I was going to do it for my little girl, but alas it was always on the perpetual "back burner" so I decided I would finally complete it for a gift.

My friend and I recently went to a consignment sale and she purchased barrettes for her unborn daughter, so I was excited to make this gift for her.
I had most of the supplies because I had been collecting them for my daughter.

I started out by purchasing a pine framed mirror at the craft store and ribbons to match the nursery decor. I also got white paint for the mirror. Note: Paint primer on pine first. Otherwise you will have to do 6 coats of paint. Pine is a thirsty wood that drinks up paint. 

To paint the frame, I put painters tape over the mirror and lightly sanded the wood. I then put on a coat of Titanium White acrylic paint. (Side note: whenever I see or hear Titanium White paint I think of Bob Ross... the most zen painter in the world. If you are ever stressed out, watch an episode. And laugh with the happy trees.) Then that dried. Then I lightly sanded the frame. and then I put on another coat and another coat and another coat and another coat..... then I went back to the craft store and found a glossy shimmering white paint that I put three coats on the frame. This last paint was nice because it was glossy and I forgot to get a top coat to finish it off... whoops.
Then I wrote the name of the baby on the frame with a silver sharpie.

For the ribbons, I glued them on the back of the frame and sealed the ends with glue. I also looped the bottom of the green ribbons with velcro to attach headbands.

For the barrettes, I used curler clips and hot glued ribbons on them with different charms and decorations for various holidays. Warning.. either have fingers of steel or practice yelling expletives while gluing before attempting. Hee hee. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mental Floss

I am in need of some major mental floss... I feel as though I have a million ideas floating in my head and no energy or time to execute. I have been dreaming of a completely organized house lately. One where every toy has a nice organized place to go, not the gigantic pile that grows daily in our living room. Something that incorporates nice storage like this:

( I copied this from, I tried to find the original source to give credit but I couldn't find it)

A note about this: I don't want these colors, after all the room will also house the computer and tv that my husband will watch after the kids go to bed.

I also like this:

This picture is from : Marcy Penner

Do you see a theme here?  

And I want an organized kitchen. And an organized laundry/storage area. And I want the dishes to be done for more than 5 minutes. And the laundry to be done for more than 10 minutes. And I want to write and do crafts and cook and read and sleep...  Is that too much to ask for in a 24 hour day? I guess so.... maybe if I have another cup of coffee....

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ode to my son....

Today, I'm writing about my son, Dylan. He is 6.5 months old and adorable. OK I know I'm biased.... but really,he is adorable. I'm going to write about him today because I usually write about my daughter and frankly,  D-Man deserves some blog time too. He's adorable. Have I mentioned that? No, really, look :

The super chubby cheeks, the tuft of hair on top of his head, the supremely kissable lips and those gorgeous, flirtatious blue eyes. Yes I know I'm gushing. But, I'm his mom, I'm allowed to. He's such a good-natured baby too. He's generally super happy with a laugh that is infectious.I also love how he coos and grabs my face. He is SUPER ticklish and his smile is BEAUTIFUL! He is also a super eater! He eats everything but green beans. (seriously, the boy is 19 lbs already- my arms are looking very muscular these days) ) Yes, I know he is only 6 months old. But again, I am his Mom and I am allowed to gush.

He LOVES his older sister, and his face lights up hen he sees her. Jan, my husband, and I think that Lily will steamroll him when they are older, but that Dylan will hold his own in his own way.

So there you go. My D-Man, Little Buddy, My Gummy Bear, I love you so.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My try at Extreme Couponing....

So I put a post up on my status on Facebook about a month ago asking for Similac coupons. From family and friends, I received over 20 rebate checks, tons of free samples, 25 $5 off coupons, 25 $3.00 off coupons and a slew of other coupons, including free large powder containers. Here is a picture of my latest "haul":

It totaled $109.36. I paid $0! I used $5 off coupons on the Ready to Feed bottles that were on sale for $4.74. I also had a coupon for a free large powder pack. I could have gotten many more but I ran out of time. I was unable to run around to different CVS's to get the bottles... I have until the end of the month to do magic with most of the coupons so we'll see what happens.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Sorry, I have been MIA for a while. I would like to say it was because I have been busy but the truth is, my kids were sick for a couple of weeks and I have been a bit uninspired... but I'M BACK!

I have had some terrific times with friends lately and everytime I hang out with my girlfriends I am reminded how good it is for my soul to get out of the house and away from the kids and enjoy grown up time.

My hubbie and I also had a fantastic date night recently. We went to see Dennis Miller at the Warner Theatre and had drinks at the Willard hotel afterwards. It was so much fun to go into the city with him. Dennis Miller was hilarious and the drinks were sublime, but I enjoyed the company most of all.

I have recently finished 2 books, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.

I read  Water for Elephants because I wanted to see the movie with a friend of mine and I always try to read the book before seeing the movie. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. It is a quick, transporting read. The movie did a very good job of accurately portraying the characters, time period and plot. It is a love story that is set in the Depression era within a circus. I enjoyed learning more about that time period and I am looking forward to reading other books that capture the late 20's/ early 30's to read.

The second book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I read for book club. This offered a very interesting discussion at book club as it is a memoir about Chinese parenting. I found the book to be very self-serving and the writing to be disjointed and somewhat lacking purpose at some points. It was interesting to read about another culture of parenting, but I wonder how accurate it really is.

I have been continuing to read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and I have started to read The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. Anne of Green Gables is my ongoing/ in between other books that I have been reading and The Lotus Eaters is the next book for book club.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How I saved $94.63 at the grocery store....

Today I hit the mother load in savings at the grocery store! Well, I'm not like the 'crazy coupon lady' but I did VERY well at the grocery store today. I also did very well despite the fact that it is my first time using coupons in a long time. This is how I saved $94.63...

I started out by clipping and organizing coupons. I had coupons from my paper and from my mom's paper. Although I haven't been using coupons on a regular basis, I have been clipping them every week, so I had some that were still valid from previous weeks. Also, I looked at my Giant Food grocery circular to see what items on my list matched up with my coupons. In addition, I went to the internet and printed out extra coupons from sites like: Coupon Mom and Wow Coupons. Here are the scanned copies of my receipts:

My total before discounts: $353.35
Total Bonus Card discounts: $32.67
Personal Thanks Savings (explained below): $9.66
Total Manufacturer Coupons: $52.30

As you can see, I have two separate receipts . I originally thought I would have 4 separate transactions, but I was actually able to use my Similac coupons all together. Please take note of the following purchases....

My total included:
the following items that I wouldn't normally purchase:
                            a $50 GC for Kohls,
                            a card
                            a coloring book for my daughter

more expensive items:

4 containers of Similac
2 packages of Diapers
a whole chicken,
2 packages of ground turkey,
a package of Italian turkey sausage
and many many other items.

I had 4 rebate checks for $5 for Similac, and I had 2 $5.00 coupons and 2 $3.00 for Similac as well. In addition, the Similac was on sale as well. This meant that I bought 2 canisters of Similac for $12 each and two canisters for $14 each.

I had a $1 coupon for a Hormel Meal, which was on sale $5.69. Also, with the purchase of a Hormel Meal, I received a FREE Country Crock side. (value $3.99) But I also had a coupon for $1.00 for a Country Crock side. So the store PAID ME $1.00!

Personal Thanks Savings:
Part of  the $9.66 that were "personal thanks savings" was the Country Crock side. However, it also included 3 $1.00 doubler coupons. Every once in a while, there are these special coupons in the grocery store sales flyer that comes in the mail that most people see as "junk mail". The coupons allow you to double manufacturer coupons that are $1.00. The store's normal policy is to double coupons up to $0.99. Therefore, the store is giving me $3.00 to use coupons. If you throw that "junk mail" away, you just threw away $3.00!

Other tips:

Wait for items to go on sale. I did buy some items that weren't on sale, because I needed to, but as I go along and continue with the couponing process, I will get to the point where I will stock up on sales so I won't have to purchase when items are aren't on sale.

Now, when I say stockpile I do not have a stockpile room. I live in a 1500 sq ft townhouse with a husband and two children. I do not have room to have shelves and shelves of groceries that will last me for 5 years. Nor would I want to. But, I did purchase 4 canisters of Similac because they were on sale. I did buy 3 boxes of cereal because they were on sale. These will get consumed within the month.

As you begin to watch the sale flyers, you will start to see a trend of when foods are on sale. For example, chicken breasts were on sale 2 weeks ago. At a competitor store, they were on sale 3 weeks ago. Therefore, I can pretty much count on the fact that in 2 weeks they will be on sale again. How do I know this? It has been the trend for the past year. Also, Easter is coming up, so meat will be on sale.

So, I couldn't buy chicken breasts. BUT whole chickens were on sale. I purchased one to cook in the crockpot and I will get 3 full meals out of it. If I had additional freezer space, I would have purchased more.

My plan is not to have to go to Costco this month, unless I need to get diapers for my son, toilet paper or paper towels.


I organize my list by sections of the store, in order my path around the store. I put an "S' if the item is on sale, and a "C" if I have a coupon. Also, I bring my coupon organizer with me in case I happen across a deal that I have a coupon for.

I created my coupon organizer by using a three ring binder, baseball trading card sleeves, and dividers. I got the idea from this site:

Last note: I can't wait for the series, Extreme Couponing that premieres on April 6th. I will never be as crazy as those couponers, but it is inspriring to see them save so much!

If you have any questions or want to share a savings triumph, comment below!

And don't forget to follow me!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Spy with my little eye....

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across the idea of I Spy Bottles on  Pink and Green Mama. These bottles are super easy to make and Lily loves them. They are terrific to put in the card and definitely lends to her curiosity and exploration. The first one I made was a simple one with green and yellow lentils and random trinkets found around the house. However, today I made one with a numbers theme. I have discovered that the easiest bottles to use are the Dasani water bottles. The labels come off easily and the plastic is sturdy.

For the Numbers I Spy bottle, I used the leftover Rainbow Rice from a few weeks ago as the filler. I included foam number stickers, dice and a measuring tape that I cut up.  I put all of the items in the bottle and super glued the top on. Then I gave it to Lily who shook it and discovered all sorts of different numbers.
I plan on making an ABC I Spy bottle next. I have ABC shaped pasta for the filler and a variety of different types of letters. I would also like to make an Easter one with plastic grass as filler, but I am having difficulty finding Easter themed objects that are small enough. Perhaps, I will have enough time in the future to make the awesome "key" that was included on the bottle on Pink and Green Mama, but for right now, Lily is enjoying them as is.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Sorry it has been a little while since I have posted. Not much has been happening lately. I have been using up leftovers, so I haven't made anything spectacular for dinner. I haven't felt overly motivated to be "Super Mom" and do new crafts and cooking....

Well, I guess I can talk about two things:

First, I finished reading Room by Emma Donahue which was the book selection for my book club in December. I didn't get a chance to read it then, because I had just given birth.  But I am kind of glad I waited. The story is about a young boy and his mom who are held captive in a room. I was worried it would be dark and heavy, but it was surprisingly hopeful and optimistic. The book is told from the point of view of a 5 year old boy. This viewpoint is new and refreshing. The author does a terrific job of seeing through the eyes of a child.  It took me a little while to get into the book and enter the brain of said 5 year old. However, once I did, I was able to see the "world" in a new way. There was a sense of innocence and hope that transcended through the boys' curiosity and ignorance of the outside world and all of its' possibilities. The mom has a lot of issues, understandably, to deal with. However, her character is both endearing and remote which lends to a very complex character. Overall I enjoyed the book. If you are looking for a new and refreshing read, I recommend Room.

Secondly, my husband enhanced our kitchen this weekend with a backsplash. We chose to use stainless steel tiles.

So, our targeted upgrades for the kitchen so far are: Corian countertops, stainless steel appliances, paint, new light fixture and the tiles. We will most likely end up painting our cabinets. Here's the question: do we extend the tiles around the kitchen or keep it as is?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Counting my blessings

Today I am worn out from my son who is getting his first tooth. He is in a lot of pain and there is not much I can do past Tylenol and Orajel. My daughter has been quite the pistol the last two days as well. But I have to say, I have it really good. I live in a nice house, have a wonderful husband and wonderful children. I have heat and air conditioning, food and a car. The recent tragedy in Japan brought light to my blessings but there is one word that I hate that always brings my blessings forward.

When I was younger, a teen, and had a fear of commitment with relationships, I had a sign that my friend had made that said something like "the 'c' word is not a bad word." In my case, I was talking about commitment. But everyone who read it thought it meant 'cancer' and were confused.

I digress. The word I hate is cancer. In my family, 7 of my relatives have battled it in one way or another. Currently of those 7, 4 have passed away, 2 are in remission, and only one has active cancer. But it is not my family that has brought my blessings to light today. There are 4 people, my age, who are battling cancer, one I know well, one is the husband of a friend and the others are a couple who are friends of a friend. I don't want this to be a bummer post but I feel the need to write. If this is to much of a downer, feel free to stop reading.

Today I count my blessings that I have a relatively healthy family, that cancer only has grips on one family member currently. That although I felt like crying and running from my children yesterday because of their crying all day, I have truly wonderful children, a loving husband who helped (despite his horrible day) when he got home, a home that keeps us warm and cool and a meal on the table every night.

What are your blessings?

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day and Rainbow Rice

I'm not Irish... well I may be but if I am it's a percentage of a percentage. So although I had planned for Leprechauns to visit our house and leave gold and mischief, I didn't get my act together in time, plus I was up the night before with D Man and was in a zombie state in the morning.
However, because I was up with D Man, he slept alot in the morning which allowed me ample time to do projects with Lily.

A few weeks ago, I did have the sense to purchase a $1 wooden cut out leprechaun mask for Lily to paint :

She is saying "cheese" here.
When she was done she kept calling it "Beauty and the Beast".  I don't know, I guess she thought it looked like the Beast. Here's the finished product:
Notice that the shamrock is filled in perfectly and the rest is random splotches....

Then, we made carrot snack sticks from  I try to make these once a week because Lily does not like vegetables. She chose the snack "sticks"  to be cut into the shapes of planes, hearts and the letter "T". This is the only picture I have:

Next, we made our first sensory bin. I started out with making Rainbow Rice. There are many different recipes on the web but here is how I did it:

I used:

1 cup of rice
1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol
25 drops of food coloring

Lily helped me count the drops of food coloring

Then she shook it all up to disperse the color.

Lily got bored after two colors and went to do other things.... To make the purple I did 15 drops of red and 15 drops of blue. For orange, I put in 15 drops of red and 15 drops of yellow.

Then I poured it out on cookie sheets with foil and let it dry.  Due to the rubbing alcohol, it dried pretty quickly and was done in about 15 minutes.

Then I poured out most of the rice into this container. I saved some for a future project..... :)

Lily helped me mix it up and started playing with it, using cups, spoons and funnels. At first I just put the small container on a tray.... then when Lily went down for a nap, I cleaned up the ginormous mess of rice on the floor and put it in a bigger container on top of a large sheet.

And through most of it , D Man was asleep. but here he is awake. ;)

There are a ton of ideas for sensory bins on the web. You can do a search on the web or go to some of my favorite sites:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Homemade Gummy Candy!

Today, during Dylan's 25 minute crib nap, Lily and I made homemade gummy candy. Dylan only napped for 25 minutes in his crib because we are trying to get him to nap in his crib and not in his swing... it is a process... anyways, I digress.
I got the idea from Pink and Green Mama who got the idea from Not So Idle Hands blog. I was nervous to let Lily help with this because of the color but I jumped in with two feet and hoped for the best. She was still in her pjs so at worst they would get messed up.  On a side note: check out Lily's accessories: a baseball hat (it was serving as a cowboy hat), Christmas jingle bell barrettes, a Dora watch, a feathered slap bracelet, three Mardi Gras necklaces, a pony bead necklace she made and a ribbon in her hair under the hat. Someone needs to teach her that less is more.  

First, we mixed the water (for a single batch, not a double batch as stated on the Not So Idle Hands Blog, use 3 packages of gelatin, one packet of Jello and between 1/3 - 1/2 cup of water. We used Strawberry Jello... Lily loved the smell of it. she is all about the smells of things recently.
She also loves to stir.
Here she is waiting for the gelatin to melt to be poured into the bunny ice cube molds that I found at Five Below for $1.00 each. 
Here is Lily waiting for the molds to come out of the fridge.She hasn't been so great about waiting so the fact that she is standing and not in a heap of a crying mess on the floor is a BIG improvement.
Here are the molds fresh out of the fridge.
And here is Lily enjoying a "kaboing!" bunny. "MMMMMMM I LIKE IT!"
Here is the finished product... They are super yummy.. I've been eating them all day long a little bit. Next, I want to try to make them with 100% fruit juice. I made them with regular Jello this time around because I don't like to give Lily fake sugars that are in the sugar free Jello.

And here is Lily with her new obsession: funnel cups.

Monday, March 7, 2011

6am and a coffee IV

I forgot how much I hate waking up at 6 am. My daughter was always an early riser but in the last year, she would sleep until 7 or 8 am. I kinda got used to it..... But now I have another child and we are back to waking up at 6am. Now you may be saying, "duh, comes with the territory...." or "aren't you up in the middle of the night? Is that any better?" Yes. Yes it is... Here is why... If I get up at 3 am with my son I have a lot of hope that is usually fulfilled that I will get to go back to sleep. But the 6 am mark is often too close to wake up time and therefore, all hope of going back to sleep is lost. So you see, I don't like getting up at 6 am.

On another note, I have an idea for moms... What if coffee was given through an IV drip so that when you woke up at said 6 am, you wouldn't be so groggy? So you have to sleep with a needle in your arm... At least you wouldn't be a zombie.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sewing- The toddler way

Earlier in the week, Lily used a needle and a piece of yarn to learn sew. At first, my mom had gotten plastic needlepoint canvas that unfortunately the holes were too small to pull the needle through. So, I decided that I would punch holes in a piece of paper and sew the piece of paper. I got this idea from Childhood 101

She successfully put the needle through the hole and pulled the needle taut. I hope to do this skill more often as it helps with her fine motor skills. She also really liked the hole punch... a little more than sewing actually!

Making Crayons out of crayons....

It is a super rainy Sunday today so Lily and I made crayons out of crayons. It was a quick project but one that was simple and elicited a lot of investigating on Lily's part. I got the idea from Designed With Purpose (a blog by a friend from high school). This was a great activity to do during a rainy day.

First, we took all of her old crayons and peeled off the paper. Lily attempted this but gave up after it took her forever to peel one wrapper off. So, I ended up peeling them. Then I put all of the old crayons in a plastic bag and gave Lily a mallet.

 I told her to whack away. She was a little light handed so I grabbed a rolling pin and joined in. 

Yes, she is a total ham.

Once the crayons were broken apart we dispersed them into the silicone molds. (hearts, bunnies and gingerbread men) Then they went in the oven for about 10 min on 170 degrees but you could probably do 225 degrees for 5 min.

Be sure to keep an eye on it, you want the wax melted but not bubbling or burning. Then pull them out and put them in the refrigerator or freezer to cool. 

 Once they are cool, pop them out and enjoy! All of them came out smoothly except the gingerbread men. (but honestly I have baked in those gingerbread men molds and they haven't come out smoothly either.) You can also use muffin tins with muffin liners.

This is Lily organizing her new crayons.... because that is what she does. Organizes. Everything.