Friday, November 30, 2007

Kaboost Booster Seat Giveaway Results

I used a free random number generator to choose the winner for our giveaway. It quickly calculated and told me that...

Rachel from Pursuits of Heart & Home is the lucky recipient of our fun bloggy giveaway. Rachel- please email me at amy@momadvice.com as soon as you can with your shipping address.

Once again, thanks to everyone for participating and sharing your ideas for MomAdvice.com and where we should take our site in the upcoming year. I have so many great ideas to work with and have already started jotting down thoughts of how I can accomplish some of these articles for the site. It is so exciting to get some material to work with and to find ways that I can share on things you are looking for.

Thank you all and congratulations to Rachel on winning the Kaboost Booster Seat!

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Freebie Friday: November 30, 2007


Special thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for helping gather up freebie offers for our readers! Please visit her site for more great freebies!

Don't forget to sign up for our Kaboost Booster Seat Giveaway! The giveaway ends at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time and I will announce the winner on Saturday! Thank you to everyone who has already entered and supplied incredible ideas for what I can be doing in 2008. Half of the battle is coming up with ideas so thank you for supplying those.

Happy Friday to everyone!

Health & Beauty:
Food:

Hillshire Farm House Party (taking applications!)
Land 'o Lakes "Warm up the Holidays" recipe brochure (free by mail when you sign-up for their Simple Rewards Club)

Entertainment:

Goody Free Workout Music Downloads
Chicago White Sox Kid's Club Membership (free and you get two free tickets to a game among other membership benefits)
Hallmark Photo Card - enter code HPCFREE, send it directly to recipient to pay only 41 cents for postage, expires 12/9/07
Opti-Free - 14 free ringtones
$5 off coupon for KB Toys (If your purchase is $5, you would get a free stocking stuffer for the kids!)
John Mayer Free iTunes Download (You have to have iTunes on your computer (also free) in order to cash in)
Cookie Magazine Subscription (you need to have an Amazon account. Even though it says that you had to have made a purchase, I have had every single magazine come through from Amazon without the purchase part. Enjoy!!)
Car & Driver Magazine Subscription (note to self: do not answer homemaker for my job description to get this freebie!)

Home & Garden:
Energy Smart Living DVD from Xcel Energy
(You need to click on the television in the house to get the pop-up for the DVD)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

$5 Magazine Subscriptions


I buy a lot of magazine subscriptions to give as gifts and primarily go through Ebay to make my purchases. I love giving subscriptions as gifts because it is a gift that continues giving long after people have become tired of the items they got for Christmas gifts. In addition, it gives them something fun to look forward to in their mailbox, rather than just the regular old bills!

I ran across this great special through Hearst Magazine for $5 subscriptions. There are tons of titles to choose from including Marie Claire, SmartMoney, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country, House Beautiful, & Popular Mechanics. If you go on their homepage, however, these deals aren't offered so be sure to go through that provided link.

What excellent gifts these will make! I am not sure how long this offer will last so I am going to order some today. I hope this helps someone else with some of their holiday shopping!

Side Note: Be sure to look how many issues are being offered for your money. Some of the nicer subscriptions, like O Magazine, only offer four issues for this price. Still an excellent deal, but won't last as long as the twelve issue subscriptions!

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MomAdvice News & A Very Special Giveaway

I have been hard at work over at The Motherloot and wanted to share some of our new product reviews with you! I wanted to make sure I got these up in time for all of that holiday shopping so I hope you can take a peek for some great gift ideas.

New Reviews:
Flip Video Ultra Series
Otopia Organic Skin Care Products
For the Kids Three CD
OskerBee Baby Changing Station
FamilyStories Books
Ferrero Rondnoir Chocolates

You might also notice that my hubby has been hard at work on our website too! We have a new banner for both The Mother load and The Aldi Queen Blog. He also has created a great landing page with an introduction to all of the blogs on our site so that it is easier to find what you are looking for and tons easier to subscribe to our feeds.

In honor of all of the big changes I am making around here, I am giving away the Kaboost Booster Seat that I had received from the company. I absolutely adore it, but it doesn't hit at the right height for our table so I want to share it with someone else for the holiday season. These retail for $39.95 so it is a great freebie for one special reader.

Rules to Enter: Please click to leave a comment and tell me one article or idea that you would like to see on our website for 2008. I am stumped for new article ideas and this would be a wonderful help to me for creating the type of site that you want to keep coming back to! Entries must be received by 8PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday evening. The winner will be announced on Saturday! Good luck and please feel free to share the giveaway with your readers. It is as an awesome product and would be a great addition to your dinner table!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Space Heater Recommendations


It is that time of year again and I got our space heater out last night to warm our downstairs family room. Would you believe that this is the third edition of this space heater in our house in less than a year, and it has once again OVERHEATED?!! The first two I had returned, all for overheating, but now I am past the return policy on this one. I really loved the design of this heater because the air blew at just the right height, but now I just want one that works.

Do you guys have a space heater that you could recommend? One that has some lasting qualities to it? I am looking for one with an automatic shutoff.

Boo to Lasko for releasing such a bad product! Shame on you!

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Amy's Notebook 11.28.07


Make a baby food baby jar wreath.

I love this children's art smock.

How cool is this fabric cubby house?

These apple turnovers look delicious!

A super cool wine cork mirror.

Getting the band-aids off will no longer be a painful process.

Another reason why I want to sew- rice heat therapy bags.

I adore these cd envelopes.

These Pinecone bird feeders are so neat!

I love these advent trees made from recycled paper.

A new solution to add to the mix for getting out grease stains.

Another use for recycled sweaters- isn't this
recycled sweater wreath beautiful?

I am going to have to make some turkey stroganoff after seeing these yummy pictures.

These wooden spinning tops would make a cool stocking stuffer.

I am going to have to watch these food & drink hacks.

I love these ideas for gift wrapping.

I might have to make this cute grandparent gift.

Reason 5,0002 for why I should sew.

Hmmm...what do you guys think about this holiday tipping guide? Am I just cheap or what?

You can see why this is my dream job after the kids go back to school.

This pumpkin tiramisu looks so delicious!

This list for gifts that are $5 or less really inspired me!

I am going to have to make some pumpkin pie play dough for the kids.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Frugal Hacks: Ornament Decorating Fun

For today's installment on Frugal Hacks, I am sharing crafty ideas for making holiday ornaments with your children. I have been spending some time surfing the internet to come up with some ideas for Ethan & I to do together so I thought I would share them with you too!

In this picture is our ornament making station that I made for our special ornament-making days. I purchased a vinyl tablecloth and loads of fun crafty supplies from the dollar store. Right now they have wooden ornaments that come in a ten pack for decorating that would be a wonderful decorative addition to any gift.

I just love decorating the Christmas tree and thought it would be a fun discussion to share your favorite ornaments that you hang on your tree each year.

I have two special ornaments that I absolutely love and that bring a smile to my face each time I get them out. One is a beautiful painted light bulb that one of my co-workers purchased for me at my very first "real" job. I was working as an administrative assistant and this gentleman was the head of the sales department and told me if I worked extra hard, he would secure a position for me in the sales department. So...I worked my tail off and did extra projects for the group and he gave me this special ornament right before he told me that he never got permission to hire me as an assistant and then I eventually was laid off after a brief promotion as a marketing assistant...WAIT! This is a horrible story! Why the heck is that my favorite ornament?

In all seriousness, the ornament represented one of the first times in my life where I felt like a grown-up and I felt valued as an employee. I felt like a smart woman and I had struggled through school (getting by on my fine social skills, mind you!) so it felt good to feel appreciated and valued as an employee.

My other favorite ornament is a Dunkin' Donuts ornament that I won in an ornament exchange. When we lived in Massachusetts, every single day I would buy myself a cup of joe over at our local Dunkin' Donuts. Our first home, a small townhouse, was situated behind a Dunkin' Donuts and we would get bagels and muffins from there all of the time for our Saturday mornings.

Right after I had Ethan, I was determined to get my baby weight off, and we had an amazing bike trail right outside of our home so I would walk it for miles trying to get the baby weight off. On my way, I would stop at the Dunkin' Donuts to pick up an iced mochachocalocaroca that I thought tasted like a little bit of heaven. It was my little reward to myself for working so hard to get my weight off.

But my weight wasn't coming off. And I was putting on weight. How was this possible? Um, did the smart & educated woman check to see how many calories a mochachocalocaroca has in it? No! Despite a background in food and nutrition, I never thought twice about the gazillion calories I was taking on my athletic walk. But, oh, what a taste of heaven that was!

The moral of the story is, every ornament has a story. Go ahead! Ask your grandmother about the ornaments on her tree- I bet she will have a story to tell!


Sound Off:
Please share your favorite ornament on your tree! I would love to hear your stories!

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WSBT-TV: Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Today on WSBT-TV, I shared my tips for wrapping your holiday gifts inexpensively. I came into the studio and shared my techniques for frugal gift wrapping and ideas for creative gift tags. I hope you can watch it!

The film crew then came out to my house and we taped six more segments today to be shown in the upcoming weeks. Now I can enjoy extra time with my family instead of running back & forth to the studio. Some of the topics that we have for future topics include shipping your packages, making frugal holiday gift baskets, getting to know your bread machine, getting a cheap coffee fix, familiarizing yourself with your local wholesale club, and throwing an inexpensive birthday party (something that is on my mind since Emily is turning 2 this month).

You could say I am tiny bit tired today!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

One Week of Food

A Penny Closer stumbled upon this photo essay from Time Magazine of what people are eating all over the world and how much it costs in different parts of the world.

What does one learn? Processed foods and poor food choices have no boundaries.

But in all seriousness, isn't this extremely interesting? I think I should take a photo of all of the food that we eat in our house- it certainly would be eye-opening to see it all laid out there like that!

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Thanksgiving With the Clark Family

I apologize for the break in blogging, but with all of the holiday madness came a time of busyness that I had not anticipated... and a few days of laziness that I had hoped I could lavish in before the holiday rush.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's family this year. I got to be in charge of the appetizers for the dinner so I was looking forward to trying some new recipes. I made my famous meatballs out of a combination of regular ground turkey and the Italian Sausage variety. They turned out beautifully and I was able to bake them the day before and throw them in the slow cooker for the festivities. Despite sitting in the slow cooker for four hours, they maintained their moistness and I got lots of compliments on them.

I also made a cheese ball that turned out equally delicious! I used turkey bacon that I cooked and crumbled inside of it. I rolled the cheese ball in extra cheddar cheese and it was also a hit. I served it with a variety of wheat crackers.

Bacon & Ranch Cheese Ball

2 (8 ounce) packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 package of Ranch dressing mix
1 cup cheddar cheese
5-7 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled

Mix all of the ingredients together with a mixer until they are incorporated. Shape into a ball and roll in a plate of shredded cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

The other appetizer I made was a sweet dip to serve with graham crackers. It has been renamed "crack" in our house because we can't stop eating it. I have been gorging myself on this dip since I made it. It tastes just like cookie dough and is sweet, but not too sweet. I used my Pampered Chef chopper to chop regular-sized chocolate chips up for on top and to mix into the dip (that was what we had on hand). Remember, you have been warned about this addiction!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (or Crack Dip)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
More chocolate chips (optional) or chopped nuts, to roll the ball in


In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Form cheese into a ball using hand protection (Saran wrap, wax paper, etc). Optional- just before serving, roll in additional chocolate chips or nuts of your choice. Serve with graham crackers.

Over the holiday weekend, I also got our very first family photo. My son is five and our daughter is almost two and we have never had a family picture done. Emily was most difficult and we had the worst time waiting for pictures and then waiting for the printing of them. It was a very stressful experience, to say the least. We had been waiting for two and a half hours for my photos to print, going back to pick up the prints to find out the prints weren't ready, going back again to find out they STILL were not ready, and then finally getting them at 11 AM the following day (when they are supposed to be printed right after you get done with your photos). The only plus to the whole experience was that the manager felt horrible and I had tried to be a good sport about it so we ended up with an extra 65 photo cards and our entire portrait package reprinted PLUS a $50 gift certificate for our next round of pictures (all for free!) because he felt so badly about our experience. So I would like to give a shout out to Portrait Innovations for their incredible customer service and amazing manager who made our experience MUCH better after all of that hassle. Despite all off that hassle, I am so proud of our family photo and now have four gazillion pictures to share with our family and friends. I have so many pictures now that I am offering casual acquaintances a 10x13 of our family . I don't know what we will do with all of these pictures, but I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and that you enjoyed lots of food and time with your family! I can't wait to share more ideas and recipes for the holiday season!


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Frugal Hacks: What Will You Be Doing On Black Friday?

Guess what I won't be doing on Black Friday?

You can read my post on Frugal Hacks and discuss your Black Friday routines!

I hope you will share freely and don't let my lack of shopping get you down!

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WSBT-TV: Making Holiday Memories On a Tight Budget

Today on our Moms First segment we talked about making holiday memories on tight budgets. Unfortunately, they had some audio difficulties and my Countdown to Christmas did not make the cut due to the difficulties. I did blog about this a little bit last week so if you want to see how we countdown to Christmas, you can read that entry here.

This holiday discussion also goes along with our popular holiday article, "The Christmas Jar."

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Monday, November 19, 2007

A Few Words About Convenience Foods

Convenience foods can ruin anyone's grocery budget. When my husband and I were first married, I shudder to think how many of my own grocery dollars were wasted on foods like these. We would load our cart with tons of convenience foods... and these were for the nights that we were "saving money" by dining in.

Now you will find very few convenience foods in our home and as I become more familiar with the kitchen, I am beginning to discover all of the things that I am able to make myself.

But, let's face it, convenience foods are called convenience foods for a reason. They are wonderful to have on hand for the times in your life where you don't feel like cooking and they are great when mommy isn't home.

There are things that I have been trying to do to keep convenient food in our house without going over our grocery budget. Here are a few of the things that we have tried in our house:

1. I try to individually wrap items for our family. Items like homemade granola bars, homemade fruit & cereal bars, muffins (any variety will do), and even slices of homemade breads can be wrapped in single-serving portions. These are great to throw into lunch boxes or for a quick snack as you are walking out the door. And if you have big eaters in your family, like I do in mine, then it also can help with portion control.

2. I try to take snacks for the kids in my purse, but just wrapping them in a small piece of foil or plastic wrap offers no protection from the destruction that can occur with my purse. It is easy to smash snacks when you are dragging one kid with one arm and have a little one slung on the same hip as your purse. In such cases, it is nice to have small containers that can fit inside your purse. Our dollar store has a set of four of five for $1 which fit perfectly for these kind of occasions. I like to put our snacks in these or make up a batch of trail mix for the kids for when they get hungry while we are out and about. These are helpful for when the grocery stores have not been so helpful and have put lots of goodies by the cash register for your children to throw tantrums over.

3. I try to make time to make snacks for our family. Since we have been going way over on our grocery budget, I am making even more of an effort to do this. My commitment to scheduling a baking day is working out well for us and it puts an emphasis on staying home with the family, spending time with my children in the kitchen, and staying out of the stores. You will probably find me baking on Black Friday- this will not only help our budget, but it will also help us to be home on one of the craziest days of the year.

4. Preparation is a necessity if you want to attempt making your own "convenient" food. For example, a well-stocked freezer or items that can be throw into a slow cooker can be awfully convenient when you don't feel like cooking.

5. And then, there are just those times where having convenience foods around could still do your budget some justice. For example, we have all been down and out with colds and tonight would be a great night for some good ol' Spaghetti-O's (or equally convenient food). This convenient food would still be cheaper than grabbing some junk food at the drive thru. Giving myself permission to take a night off could come from grabbing one or two items for these kinds of nights.

Sound Off: Do you buy convenience foods? How do you make food "convenient" in your home?

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Cozy Swap

I participated in another Sister Shoe Box Swap sponsored by Carrie & Monica. The theme for this swap was "cozy" and we were to include fun and cozy items for our swap partners.

Lucky for me, I got Carrie to partner up with. She sent a box full of fun goodies including a yummy chai mix, warm & fuzzy socks, a holiday towel, a pretty holiday frame, cookie decorating supplies, peppermint foot scrub, a candle set, and my favorite gift of all.... a gift card to Starbucks to get my pumpkin spice latte fix. Does she know me well or what?

My shoe box to Carrie contained some fuzzy slipper socks, some of my hot cocoa mix (with a big bag of marshmallows), holiday stationary, a cookie cutter, a purse-size holiday scrapbooking kit, and my favorite Starbucks CD.

Please visit her site for the list of all of the participants. Many thanks to Carrie & Monica for making this swap possible! It is so nice to get something other than bills in the mail.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Freebie Friday: November 16, 2007


Wow! It is so great to see so much chatting going on and I am so thankful for each of you!! I guess I triggered a nerve with the whole small house rant. It is so neat to see what family size everyone is and the size of the space that they call home. I am also glad to know that I am not the only one who has difficulty keeping up with their space (whatever its size might be!)

Thank you all for sharing and your continued support!! Here are some freebies to start your weekend off right!

Health & Beauty:

Degree for Men

Playtex Personal Cleansing Cloths

Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care

Breathe Right Strips

Bodycology Products (free samples link at the top- White Gardenia or Coconut Lime scents)

Try some mystery shampoo (Here's hoping it's better than mystery meat!)

Food:

Borders Bookstore one complimentary small beverage.

Starbucks $10 Gift Card (it is available to the first 1,500 sign-ups who request more info from Hyatt- fingers crossed!!)

Entertainment:


Cruising World Magazine

Download a song & donate $1 to world hunger

Schlastic Book, "Germs, Germs, Germs" Use UPC Code: 042000439008. (Note: They were experiencing technical difficulties when I went to fill out the form so this may/may not work!)

Golf Style Magazine (available in certain states)

Wend Magazine

Home & Garden:

Order up to six free samples of Martha Stewart Flooring. You will need to use MSS707 at checkout. Shipping is free!

2008 Betty Crocker Calendar


Burt Bees free packet of wildflower seeds.

Glue Dots (great for crafters!)

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MomAdvice Friday: Is Your House "Small"?

I was watching Oprah the other day and they had a great show where they showcased homeowners who were their own decorators and had created beautiful living spaces without the aid of a designer.

One of the houses that they showcased was a 1,700 square foot home that they referred to as "small" and they shared how amazed they were that the homeowner was able to make their home feel so large when they were living in such a small home. The homeowners had lived in another country before so they said they had adapted to the European home size.

To be honest, I just sat scratching my head wondering what I was missing . My home is 1,800 square feet and while it is certainly no McMansion, it isn't as though we are living in a tiny shack either. We have four people in our house and I feel like it is a comfortable home size for us. A family that lived in our house before us had five children in this space!

When I think about buying a larger home, I think about how I often feel that I can't keep up with my house that I have right now. If I can't keep a house tidy this size, why would I ever buy a bigger house that would require more cleaning?

I also think of all my brainstorms for how we can maximize the space we already have by creating more built-in pieces and being more creative with the walls and corners in our home.

Am I alone in this thinking? What are your thoughts about McMansions and the American way of super-sizing everything? What size of house is considered small to you?

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Updates to Blogs

After a long hiatus, I am adding some new entries to my Aldi blog. Most of the recipes have been featured here, under the recipe category, but I wanted to make sure I was testing everything before it was transferred to the Aldi Queen blog. Reader submissions are still welcome, but all of my personal entries have been served at our dinner table so you know it will be a winner if you decide to serve it to your family.

I am also adding to our product review blog (The Motherloot) and will have lots of fun stuff going up this weekend for all of your holiday shopping.

If you are a work-at-home mom who would like to see your product on our product review blog, please email me at amy@momadvice.com. I am going to try to incorporate work-at-home mommies as a way to share more about all they do too!

Thanks for all of your patience and comments!

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Amy's Notebook 11.14.07


I love this custom corkboard.

These button monograms are beautiful.

I am going to make some of these cute Thanksgiving crafts with the kids.

This idea for oatmeal flavors is really smart!

This owl pennant would be wonderful for the holiday season.

I want to make these oatmeal, chocolate chip, & pecan cookies (hold the pecans please!) for the kids.

I love these pencil cups for making your craft room or office a little more fun.

These custom pocket crafts are such a cute idea.

This Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake looks delicious!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Frugal Hacks: Getting Ready for the Holidays

I ran out of hours in the day yesterday, but I wanted to make sure that I posted a link to my entry yesterday on Frugal Hacks. I shared some of the ways that I am trying to get ready for the holidays.

I have lots of things to do on my list. Here are some of the things that I am working on:

1. We need to take a family picture that we can use for our Christmas cards this year. I like to get photo cards from Sam's Club and I use the sticky labels with the addresses printed on them to save time.
2. For our grandparents, I do a year of pictures for them as a gift of their grandkids. I pick my favorite pictures from the year and get them printed and make each of them a photo album. It was a hit last year and should be a hit again this year.
3. I would like to make all of our Christmas tree decorations this year. I am gathering ideas and materials to make ornaments with the kids this year. I want to do a popcorn garland and make cute decorations for the tree this year.
4. I am hoarding my toilet paper rolls for our Christmas crackers in a drawer for the kids. I got some fun wrapping paper and am saving our Halloween candy to fill them. These will go in the kid's stockings.
5. I am going to try and get my wrapping done this weekend on the gifts that I have bought. I am done with the kids and finished buying their stocking stuffers last week. I also need to wrap the last of my countdown to Christmas treats. I found the last three days at the dollar tree.
6. I am working on make-ahead goodies for Thanksgiving dinner. I am in charge of the appetizers this year and I am going to make some of the goodies from my list.

There are tons more things to be done, but I am sure it will all come together!

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Going Without Prescription Coverage: A Self-Discovery


I debated a long time about whether or not to post this, but I figured it might help someone else out there so I thought I would share my experience.

When my husband started his new job, we started a ninety day lapse in insurance coverage. We have purchased a temporary policy with a high deductible, but we are going without some of the perks that we had with our old policy. One of those perks was a reimbursement program on my prescription drugs.

I do want to begin by saying that the medication I was on was not working for me. I have IBS and I have depression and the drugs that my family physician had me on were not helping me at all. If there was a side effect listed with the medication, I had it. I am one of those people who experiences terrible side effects, which makes me hesitant to ever fool around with a good thing when it comes to my medicine. Unfortunately, since I have had Emily, I have not found that magical sweet spot where I have felt good and we have been bouncing me around on all sorts of medicines and no relief from either ailment. When my stomach medication was pulled by the FDA due to people dying from complications, I threw my hands up in the air and knew that I needed to make a change.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I talked with a girlfriend who is a firm believer in homeopathic remedies. My feelings towards these types of treatments have always been disbelief. I will admit it, I have always considered many of these remedies a waste of money. Her sister-in-law has three homeopathic practices and a long line of happy clients, so she said she could ask her some of the things that I could take after I explained everything that I was looking for, what wasn't working, and so on. I remember thinking that if it sounded too "weird" or "out there" that I would not take them.

Another important element to me was that I was not paying more for my treatment than I was for the prescription drugs. Always the frugal girl, I wanted my treatment to be affordable, but also to feel better.

My friend gave me a list of what she had suggested and none of it was strange or unheard of. For my stomach, one of her recommendations was a cup of hot water with lemon before bed (how frugal is that?) She also had a substitute for my anti-depressant and a few items that would boost my immune system.

I have been doing this for about a month now and I have never felt better in my life. My constant tiredness and that cloudiness that I felt is gone and I am feeling more like myself than I have ever felt before. I am amazed at the difference that I feel and how I react towards my family. I am experiencing no side effects and I see a noticeable difference in myself. I feel like me again and it has been a long time since I have felt that way.

The icing on the cake is the extra $200 that will be sitting in my account each month. My new medicines only cost me $50 each month! What a savings!

If medications aren't working for you, homeopathic remedies might be worth looking into. My depression and stomach problems were mild, but were having a negative effect on my life. With care from an expert in the homeopathic field, you might be able to relieve yourself of your symptoms and keep a little extra money in your pocket at the same time.

If you do have to take medications though, my articles on going without health insurance and my article on going without prescription coverage might provide some help! I also blogged on treating ailments when you are without coverage or are looking for the cheapest way to treat your sickness.

Sound Off: Have you ever substituted homeopathic remedies for prescription drugs? What are your feelings towards these types of remedies?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WSBT-TV: Paying For The Holidays Without Going Into Debt

Today's segment for our local news shared ways that you can have a wonderful holiday without going into debt. I shared a few quick tips for online shopping and how to not be afraid to say no to all of the gift exchanges.

This goes along with a post that I wrote last year called, "Holiday Bling Without the Bling Budget."

Sound Off: How do you stay under budget for the holidays? Have you ever bowed out of a gift exchange because of financial reasons?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Overcoming My Fears: Canning

It is fun to document my domestic fears and share how I am trying to overcome them. If you have been reading me for a long time, you might notice that I have had many domestic fears to overcome. I had a fear of working with dough, I have feared getting dirty in a garden, I was terrified of my mower, I was scared to cut hair, and another fear that I have experienced since college is the fear of canning.

I took a Food & Nutrition course which was a basic course into food sciences and how things happen when cooking & preserving food. One of our class assignments was to can foods. We were given acidic foods and non-acidic foods to can and then the teacher went around to check our handiwork. Knowing nothing about canning, I read the instructions and then canned my tomatoes for the class.

The teacher walked around and checked everyone and the majority of us failed the assignment. I remember her words quite clearly, "That food would kill someone- it did not seal properly, you filled it too high, and so on, and so on."

Perhaps it was the fear of killing someone that instilled the fear in me? I think that would be a valid fear, don't you?

When I saw the Pumpkin Butter recipe that Monica, from The Homespun Heart, shared on her blog last week, I was determined to try it. I got out my book on canning and read through the tutorial again. I have had this book for years and kept reading it, but never acted on anything.

I increased the recipe four times and put it in my slow cooker, instead of cooking it over the stove top. Since I did such a large batch, I let it cook for six hours. I would recommend that you only triple the recipe in a standard slow cooker because mine did overflow a little bit.

The whole process really went smoothly and I ended up with eighteen jars of Pumpkin Butter. I can't wait to give these away as hostess gifts!

This recipe is a great one for a first-time canner especially if you use the slow cooker to make it. There is no processing involved and it yields a great amount for very little effort.

The results were delicious! This literally tastes like pumpkin pie smeared all over bread. I am going to make some of my Buttery Bread Machine Rolls to put this on for dinner one night this week.

Here is how my conversation went with my husband after the great canning experience:

Me: I am so proud of myself! I am all done! You want some toast with pumpkin butter on it?

Him: I don't want to die. You can't get rid of me that easily!

Me: Very funny...Hey, I think I have overcome all of my fears now.

Him: What about sewing?

Me: Shut up!

Looks like sewing will be next! I am making a pact with myself to take a course next year and figure it out.

Sound Off: Do you have any domestic fears that you are working on overcoming? Please tell me that I am not alone!

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Fall!

Our leaves are falling and there are plenty of raking opportunities over here. While Emily laid down for her nap, I took Ethan outside to rake leaves. He was so excited to help me and I was excited to do something with just him.
I have felt lots of mommy guilt about not giving the kids the equal time they each deserve. Ethan and I had a heart-to-heart yesterday evening about how he sometimes misses doing stuff with just me. I am going to try to make more of an effort to take advantage of her naptime to create some time for just the two of us. Likewise, I need to make more time for just my Emily when Ethan is at school. I know I can't be the only mommy who feels torn at times.Raking seemed like the perfect opportunity to share some time together. I raked while Ethan ran through the leaves, batted the leaves with a baseball bat, and gathered leaves in his trick-or-treat bucket.
Ethan also worked on little hats that blew away for his pumpkins. The kids picked white pumpkins this year and we did a pumpkin decorating playgroup at a girlfriend's house. The best part? No pumpkin painting or carving. Foamy craft kits decorated the pumpkin faces and made for some good clean fun for the kids. I would have never thought to do this and the kids still had a blast making their pumpkin faces. I still enjoy the carving and painting, but this was an easy alternative for some last minute decorating.

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MomAdvice Friday: Potty Training Woes

I received this question today- can any of you please help this mom?

Amy,

I need help. My daughter Gracee is 3 and in preschool 2 half days a week. The problem is she will not go potty at school. She goes potty at home just fine, but not a school, she will hold it all day as soon as she is in the car she goes. She does she where a pull up for night time and nap time usually nap time is dry, but not at night yet. What can I do? She is afraid to even go in public anywhere.

Sincerely,
Melissa

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Freebie Friday: November 9, 2007


Today's segment on the CBS Early Show did not air. I contacted the producer and I got bumped due to a Curious George Toy recall. I think that next time I will just direct everyone to the link when/if they do decide to air the story. I am disappointed, but I guess that gives us some more time to add some more content to the site.

Thank you again for all of your support!

Health & Beauty:

Good Eating Good Living Program from Kraft (Geared towards people suffering from diabetes)

Food/ In the Kitchen:

Hamburger Helper Singles

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners

Reynolds Parchment Paper


Savory Creations Chicken Broth


Slim-Fast Protein Snack Chews


Entertainment:


Hot Wheels VIP Club

One Year Subscription to Details, Lucky, or Teen Vogue Magazine (You need to sign into your Amazon account to access the freebie- but this is a GOOD one!)

The Economist Magazine

Ringling Bros Circus Tickets (if your baby is one or under)

Florida Travel & Life Magazine

Hallmark Holiday Card

Pet Care:


Greenies Dog Treats (they came out with two new types- Lite & Senior)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Freepeats

One of my favorite mommy bloggers, Angie from Baby Cheapskate, has started a community where you can freely trade mommy and baby gear through your local community. Her new program is called Freepeats.

Since she is an Atlanta resident, her first target for her community is her local area. She is offering a free membership to join Freepeats through December 31st. After this date, she will be offering memberships for a one time fee of $4.95! How awesome is that?

She has goals to expand the program to other areas of the country so if you are not an Atlanta mom, do not despair! Other big cities should be added in the future. She has plans to launch six more communities by 2008!

We thank Angie for her contributions towards making our mommy lives a tad more frugal!

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Set Your Recorders: The CBS Early Show

I should be on The Early Show tomorrow morning (Friday) on a work-at-home piece that they are doing. I am quite nervous about this so please send up lots of prayers that it portrays my work here in a good light. We were so happy to be included and to be on national news.

The approximate time for airing is 7:40 AM!

Please pray that our site can handle the traffic!

Thank you all for your continued support and kindness. I couldn't do it without our awesome community!

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Amy's Notebook 11.08.07


Sew Mama Sew is doing thirty days of sewing projects for the month of November- do not miss it! Note to self- splurge on a sewing class after the holidays.

Make a creative home bar.

This felt gingerbread house gave me an idea for something the kids and I could maybe make for the holiday season.

Use up your Halloween candy in your cookies.

Make Thanksgiving dinner in one hour flat.

These candy corn turkeys are too cute!

I want to make one of these dress-up suitcases for my daughter.

Throw an After-Thanksgiving potluck dinner.

Learn how to make a good homemade chicken stock.

I want this cupcake pan.

Make some gobble up granola snacks.

Check out these solutions for dealing with the rising bread costs.

Guess what? Even I could be a millionaire if I am smart!

Sew a purse organizer.

Organize your toy room with cute labels.

What to do about the rising cost of powdered milk?

These Oreo Truffles sound divine for the holiday season.

I like these tips for avoiding icy car windows.

Make the perfect cake.

Throw a princess party on a budget.

I can't wait to see Meredith's felt fruits and vegetables!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Working On My Christmas Countdown

Yesterday evening I started working on my countdown to Christmas for the kids. I wanted to do something special this year and so I put my Martha Stewart stamp set to good use last night and did a number countdown that I hope will be worth the effort.

All year long I have been shopping our local Goodwill looking for Little Golden Books for the kids. I started doing a countdown with books last Christmas and have a special fondness for these books so I wanted to do again this year. I tried to only get these on half off days (making them a quarter each) especially since Emily would be unwrapping her own books this year. I found enough books to give them each their own set of books and I am going to make the last three days of unwrapping something really special like an ornament set or a set of coloring books and crayons. For less than twenty dollars total, I am hoping that it will make our countdown lots of fun and give us plenty of reading material until Christmas.

I wrapped each of the books individually in newspaper and then tied the numbers 1-25 on each of the packages with ribbon. I plan to reuse these numbers in future years so I just tucked them into the ribbon without mounting them onto the package. All of the books were placed into a basket from 25-1 for the kids to open.

I also worked on activities for our very official, "Christmas Jar." I used the list of activities from my article and put them on green slips of paper. The jar was tied off with festive jingle bells and is clear so that we have a visual of how many fun things we will have left to do. I found this jar when I did my thrift sale shopping and it works perfectly for our jar of activities.

Doing these segments for our local news is helping me get things done early so that is why I am starting these activities so soon. I was excited to get this accomplished for December!

Sound Off: Do you do anything special to countdown the days until Christmas?

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Frugal Hacks: Practicing Thankfulness

Today's post on Frugal Hacks is all about implementing holiday traditions into the Thanksgiving Day feast and spirit. Unfortunately, we are without any great holiday traditions yet for this holiday, but I am opening the floor to see if anyone has any great things they do for the holiday.

Please join me over at Frugal Hacks and share your family Thanksgiving traditions!

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WSBT-TV: How to Save Money On Holiday Baking

Today's topic on my WSBT-TV segment was how to save money on your holiday baking. I am working on an article for our website on this and thought I would share some quick tips for packaging and making your holiday goodies on the cheap.

It was interesting because when I was researching this topic for more information, I couldn't find any articles or really good tips on this. Hopefully this will be of some interest as the holiday season approaches.

I also wanted to direct your attention to some new additions to The Motherloot. I am trying to catch up since I was behind on reviews so here are some more fun things to look at, in anticipation of the holiday season:

Marshmallow Shooter
Comfy Software Products
Kaboost Booster Seat

I have also added a holiday gift giving category and am adding the things that I think would make good gifts. These are all my own opinions though, but I thought it might be easier for your holiday shopping.

**If you have missed any of the Moms First segments, you can view them all through this link.**

Sound Off: Do you have any great holiday baking tips that have helped you? Do you have any fun packaging you like to use for giving your holiday treats?

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Motherloot!!!

We are finally live with our product review site, "The Motherloot". I still need to work on guidelines and specifications for companies that would like to be featured, but we now have a separate home for these and I hope you can visit it!

Recent additions to the site include:

Family Facts Organizing Products


DaBibs

Let us know what you think and how you like the design! Many thanks to my designer for making this possible!!

I will be working on more reviews and am hoping to include lots of holiday shopping ideas for the families.

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October '07 Menu Planner

I just wanted to share our menu planner for the month of October. This was the first month (in quite some time) that I have menu planned and shopped for one month in one day. I decided to come up with 24 menu choices, which would leave nights available for leftovers and other dinner engagements, and plenty of snack choices.

We ended up making 22 out of the 24 meal choices so I felt like we did really well with staying on track. The two dishes that didn't get made got carried over to our next month.

Let me know if you would like me to continue sharing these and I hope it gives you some ideas for meals around your own dinner table.


October Menu Choices


1. Cheeseburger Ring (We ate this Saturday evening and it was so delicious! It does taste just like a cheeseburger.)

2. Chicken Tacos & Tortilla Chips

3. Ranch Pork Chops (I used this recipe but subbed with Ranch Dressing), Chicken Rice, & Baby Peas

4. Roast Turkey Sandwiches (Scroll to Meal #7) & Oven Fries

5. Leftover Roast Turkey Sandwiches & Panera Bread Cheese & Broccoli Soup

6. Clam Chowder & Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits

7. Oatmeal Waffles With Honey Butter

8. Herb Baked Tilapia, Chicken Rice, & Microwave Corn in Butter Sauce

9. Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes With Orange Juice

10. Chicken Italiano Over Pasta

11. Pizza Night

12. Meatball Subs (I use the meatball recipe and jarred sauce for the subs) & Oven Fries (see above for Oven Fries recipe)

13. Chicken Lo Mein & Fortune Cookies

14. Parmesan Sage Pork Chops & Orzo

15. Baked Salmon, Mashed Potatoes & Baby Peas

16. Chicken BBQ Sandwiches With Oven Fries

17. Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo (served with chicken & broccoli for topping)

18. Honey BBQ Chicken Wings, Cheese Quesadillas & Tortilla Chips

19. Pumpkin Waffles & Scrambled Eggs

20. Calzones With Dipping Sauce

21.Roasted Chicken, Rice, & Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

22. Sarah's Tilapia and Mashed Potatoes

23. Penne & Sausage Skillet Supper

24. Yeast Waffles & Orange Juice

Snacks:

1. Almost Nutra Grain Bars
2. Rice Krispie Treats
3. Apples With Dipping Sauce
4. Air Popped Popcorn
5. Brownies
6. Pumpkin Muffins

***Please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for more great menu plans for the week***

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Freebie Friday: November 2, 2007


I apologize that there are not as many freebies this week. I have a stomach bug, but I wanted to get these up here for everyone.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and be sure to check back next week to see our new product review blog, "The Motherloot."



Health & Beauty:


Digestive Advantage

Kenneth Cole Reaction


Airborne Power Pixies

Baby Phat Golden Goddess Perfume & Shania Starlight Perfume

Home & Garden:

Redwood Creek Vintage Posters


Entertainment:

4 issues of OK! Magazine
(This requires a long survey)

Sound & Vision Magazine


Free Magazine Subscriptions (there is a small list to choose from)

Electronic Gaming Monthly


Pet Care:

Naturals Cat Chow

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

WSBT-TV: Hosting a Game Day Party

Unfortunately, there was a technical glitch so my scheduled segment did not air and it ended up being a repeat this week on my WSBT Mom's First segment. The good news is that the first time it ran, I didn't have a link yet to the video, but now I do and can share it with everyone.

This segment goes along with my discussion awhile ago on Frugal Hacks and shares more tips for hosting a game day party without spending a lot of cash.

I hope you guys enjoy it! Next week I will be discussing ways to save on your holiday baking. I will be working frantically on an article to go along with this discussion so keep your eyes peeled. A new article compiling my wrapping ideas will also be featured this next week on our site.

If you have suggestions for a future segment, please email me at amy@momadvice.com. It would mean a lot to me especially with the holidays fast approaching!

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Amy's Notebook 11.01.07


I am so excited to share that our new product review blog, The Motherloot, will be introduced to our MomAdvice.com website this Monday. I know I have been awfully quiet on here lately and I just want you to know why!

I also wanted to thank everyone for their visits to our site this month. We had a record high of almost 95K hits this month! Thank you to everyone who has shared about our site or who has come to visit us regularly. I couldn't do it without you!

Here are some excellent reads for the week:

Make some cool luggage tags.

Look for the out-of-the-ordinary when shopping on eBay.

Get the gourmet kitchen look without the price tag.

Enjoy a yummy recipe for pumpkin pancakes.

Make an award-winning pumpkin pie this year.

Organize your medicine cabinet.

See how to save by adjusting your thermostat.

Add a punch of color to your punch bowl.

Get prepared for an emergency.

Make some pumpkin pie bars (Note: Can you tell I have pumpkin on the brain?)

Create your own cloth shopping bags.

Read all about price books and shopping discoveries.

Find a new use for your pumpkin.

Make a delicious apple pie.

Get some Martha Christmas inspiration.

Make a candy wreath out of all that leftover candy.

Get inspired by this mom's ingenious toy kitchen.

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