Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going Without Prescription Coverage

(originally aired: October 14, 2007)

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 sickness.

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

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A Yearly Recap: MomAdvice.com '08 Edition


Here are my proudest moments on my blog for 2008! I hope that this helps our newer readers get acquainted with what great things our site has to offer. It is also so great for me to reflect on what has been accomplished this year with our site.

I will not lie, I worked harder than I have ever worked before on my blog and website. With hard work though comes great rhythm, more consistency to my work, and a deeper sense of commitment to my readers. Without you and your comments, of course, there would be nothing to work towards. I look forward to your comments more than I can say- it means so much.

2009 is going to be a great year, I can already feel it. I have great dreams of success and ideas for how I can make this year better. My only hope is to continue to grow our community and that the site continues to inspire you.

Without further adieu, here are our highlights of the year!

Homemaking Highlights

Our New Workspace
Patio Renovation on a Budget
Dressing Up the Front Step for Fall
Gardening for Fall
Finding Beauty in the Ordinary
There are Holes in My House Where My Clutter Used to Be


Crafty Highlights

I Learned to Knit
Rainy Day Survival Kit
Sponge Ball Bullseye
Inexpensive Wall Art
Being a Crafty Parent When You Just Aren't
Rainy or Snowy Day Scarf
Project Linus Security Blanket
My Hostess Gifts This Year
Round-Up of Homemade Hostess Gifts

Kitchen Highlights

Vanilla Scented Granola
Homemade Pitas
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Adventures in Breadmaking: Artisan Bread in 5
Cracking the McDonald's Coffee Code
Piggy Pancakes
Fast Peanut Butter Cookies
Fast Coffee Cake
Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Our Favorite Cocoa Mix
Lovely Little Birthday Cake

Frugal/Money Highlights

Our Debt Free Party
35 Ways to Save On Your Grocery Budget
Vrooming Through Our Debt
This American's Dream
Leaner Ground Beef for Less
Snow Days for a Frugal Family
Getting to Know Your Dishwasher

Mommy/Family Highlights

Just Call Me Ticketmaster
We Need to Work On Our Letters
Family Night: Earth Hour
Something Exciting is Happening
Summertime Planning
Dad's Day Out & Mom's Day In
And My Heart Breaks...
At the Car Wash
At the Car Wash Part II
Popcorn Fun
An Olympics Family Night
My First Notre Dame Game
A Family Day at the Pumpkin Patch
Making Simple Holiday Memories

Professional Highlights:

Becoming the Home Management Expert for the Kenmore Team
Listed in the Top 10 of the Top 100 PF Blogs
Listed as One of the Top Ten Most Powerful & Influential Women In Social Media
The MomAdvice Big Give for Faith Mission
Suave Glamour Reel Moments PR Trip
Being part of the Walmart 11 Moms
Visiting the Walmart Headquarters
Speaking on a panel for the ad:tech conference
Demoing crafts & recipes at the American Baby Faire on behalf of Kenmore
Guest Blogging for Martha Stewart
Guest Blogging for the Right@Home Team
Serving on the Advisory Board for Divine Caroline
Writing Monthly for Michiana Family Magazine
Editing for the Family Bliss channel
Public Speaking Engagements for Churches & Mom's Groups on Saving Money
Meeting Paula Deen

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Apron Full of Giveaways 12.30.08


Welcome to our round-up of contests and giveaways! I love sharing all of the contests with you and getting to see what everyone is giving away on their site.

Be sure to enter to win a year subscription to GoTrybe to get your kiddos moving and shaking. This contest will end tonight at 8PM EST. We also just started two new giveaways focused on family safety. One giveaway offers a trio of child safety products to help keep your little ones safe. The other, a year membership to Family Safety Report to help keep your family safe. I am loving that a 24 hour nurse is included in this subscription. That is a hotline I would use often in our family!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, "MomAdvice (Christmas Movies)."

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you! Happy holidays, everyone!

To enter, please follow the links below.
(photo credit: jek in the box)

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Homemade Play Dough: A Play Dough Recipe Round-Up

We had a birthday party to attend last week for my sweet friend Michelle's daughter. I had recently bookmarked a chocolate play dough recipe, from A Foothill Home Companion, in my notebook entry that I thought would make a fun birthday gift.

I love to make play dough for my kids and usually use my Fruity Play Dough recipe, but I wanted to try something different for this party. Although this play dough wasn't as pretty as my usual colors, the fact that it smelled like a little bit of heaven seemed to trump it's, less than appealing, shade of brown.


This play dough smells divine. In fact, both the kids came upstairs and begged for some of the chocolate cake I was making. It was quite disappointing to see that it was only play dough that I was cooking and a batch that wasn't even for them.


We packaged this up with a set of pretty cookie cutters and a copy of the recipe so that their family could replicate the recipe in their own kitchen.

I love to make gifts like this for birthday gifts because it is affordable and a gift that they can use more than once. Ethan drew his own birthday card for the birthday girl complete with a princess tiara and money... because that is apparently two items that princesses possess. Having him make the birthday card added a special touch and saved on the cost of a store-bought card.

Here are some other fun play dough recipes:

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough (@ Like Merchant Ships)
Homemade Play Dough (@ Skip to My Lou)
Play Dough Tips & Tricks (@ Organizing Connection)
Edible Play Dough (scroll down a bit)
Perfect Play Dough (@ Family Fun)
Natural Play Dough Recipes (@ Nature Moms)
Gingerbread Play Dough (@ Recipezaar)


What is your favorite birthday gift to give or a favorite gift that your child received for their birthday?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Redbox Code: 12.29.08

Today's Redbox code is 545DZ9. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

In addition,Redbox is giving free movie rentals at Walmart Redbox locations.
These are good on Sunday's only for one free rental.

I hope these codes help make the holidays a little brighter- Merry Christmas!

Week 5 (Sunday 1/4/09) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)


Go to redbox.com to find a redbox location at a Walmart near you.This promo
code is valid at redbox locations in Walmart stores only and cannot be redeemed online. Promo codes are valid for the first night of rental only. Your credit or debit card is necessary to redeem your promo code, and will be charged $1 plus tax, if applicable, for every subsequent night after the free rental period. Promo code is not transferable, not for resale, and cannot be combined with other offers. Limit 1 promo code per transaction.

Side Notes:

- If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

- When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, "Rent with Promo." Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

*****************************************

Don't forget to enter our giveaways! We have a Go Trybe One Year Membership This contest end at 8PM tonight!

For a full list of great giveaways, visit our apron full of giveaways linky list and check back tomorrow for a nice fresh list for the week. Happy Holidays and Good Luck!!

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My New Year's Resolution for 2008: Simplify

Each year I make a list of resolutions for the New Year and I am usually pretty good at keeping to my resolutions. My resolution this year is really only one goal with a few subcategories... to merely simplify my life.

I have great ideas for how to implement my goals and would love if you would join me on my journey this year. These are the three main categories for my goals this year.

Simplify my life by bringing in more organizational strategies and reducing the clutter.
Simplify my life by gaining more control over my finances and committing to at least one no spend month this year.
Simplify my life by making my self-care a priority this year.
There are so many elements to this and with the new goal in mind, I am planning to take you on a journey by sharing how I work towards my goals of simplifying the routines in my life.

I have thought a lot about how I could take you on this journey with me and an opportunity has arisen to begin my own podcast show in this new year through Blog Talk Radio. Starting in January I will be broadcasting through an Eleven Moms channel through Walmart where we can each have our own show or partner up on shows with one another.

My show will be The MotherLoad Simplified where I will be sharing ideas and be interviewing other great bloggers on how I can reach my goals towards simplifying routines like home organization, beauty care/fashion, simplifying the dinner hour, and simplifying the family finances. I think it will be a great way to engage with our readers in a new way and will showcase our goals for the New Year. This new adventure will be starting sometime in January and I will keep you posted as details develop. Of course, I will be blogging my journey too and keeping to our website themes of basic home management.

What is your New Year's Resolution(s) this year? Is there something you would like to simplify in the upcoming year?

(photo credit: Ani)

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Meal Planning Monday: 12.29.08

Here has been our menu plan for the past two weeks with recipes!

1. Deli Sandwiches With Chips (for shopping day)

2. Herb Baked Tilapia, Rice, & Corn

3. Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, & Peas

4. Rotini Pasta With Turkey Meatballs & Garlic Bread

5. Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole Over Egg Noodles (Scroll Down to View)

6. Sloppy Giuseppes With Oven Fries (Scroll down to Meal #8)

7. Ground Beef Tacos With Tortilla Chips

8. Italian Chops Over Spaghetti

9. Yeast Waffles with Orange Juice

10. Chicken Enchiladas With Homemade Enchilada Sauce

11. Skillet Chicken & Ziti with Broccoli & Homemade Breadsticks

12. French Bread Pizzas

13. Chicken Parmesan Over Spaghetti

14. Chicken Wings, Celery with Ranch, & Cheese Quesidillas

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Please visit "I'm An Organizing Junkie" for a round-up of great menu plans!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Freebie Friday: December 26, 2008

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! I hope you all are enjoying the holidays with your families. A big thank you to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for sharing her freebie list with us. I am so thankful for her friendship and for partnering up with us each week. Please visit her site for all the latest and greatest in the freebie world!


Health & Beauty
Vaseline Intensive Therapy Lotion (enter Alaska sweeps)
Pantene Pro-V (Walmart)
Escada Moon Sparkle fragrance
Degree Men deodorant

Food
Dunkin' Dark Coffee
True Lemon
Splenda with Fiber

Entertainment
More Magazine 10 free issues (StartSampling)
Robb Report 1 free issue (StartSampling)
Field & Stream 12 free issues (watch ads at AdPerk)
Paper Plane by Scala & Kolacny Brothers free music download

Home & Garden
Lysol Healthy Habits Kids Activity Booklet
Velveeta Game Day House Party

Upcoming Freebie Events:


JANUARY
1 - Free Diet Dr. Pepper
3 - Home Depot Kids build Helmet Bookends 9 to noon
10 - Lowe's Kids build a Time Capsule 10 - 11am

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Amy's Notebook: The Merry Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas to you & your families today! Please enjoy the day with your families and thank you for your friendship!


I am in love with this block calendar (@ Lark & Lola)

I think this cake plate is beautiful (@ elsie marley)

These sewn envelopes are a creative way to wrap gifts (@ Wild Olive)

I love this ornamental wreath made from wire hangers (@ Eddie Ross)

This holiday garland made from recycled holiday cards is so cute (@ craft stylish)

I think my kids might have trouble not eating it, but this chocolate play dough sounds like so much fun (@ A Foothill Home Companion)

I want to learn needlepoint and this post inspired me to try it (@ Grace Violet)

This hot cocoa bar of goodies looks wonderful to keep us warm this winter and this peppermint popcorn would make great gifts (@ Dukes' & Duchess)

This texture box is such a genius idea (@ The Felt Mouse)

These festive handprint onsies are darling (@ chica shmica)

This knitting wreath is so stinking cute (@ Craftster via Craftzine)

I am bookmarking this tulle tutorial (@ Design Mom)

This celery stamped gift wrap is beautiful (@ Make)

I love this idea for wrapping cookies and might have to try this next year (@ Purl Bee)

This candy cane snowflake bark would make a great little hostess gift (@ Diary of a Crafty Chica)

Here are ten more great gift wrapping ideas (@ Mighty Girl)

I am in love with these ornaments filled with scrap paper (@ The Hybrid Kid)

This gingerbread biscotti looks so delicious (@ Annie's Eats)

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Clark Kind of Holiday '08

We opted to celebrate our Christmas this Sunday instead of waiting until the actual Christmas because we have so many family festivities to attend. The kids love getting their presents a little early and I love keeping them busy as we prepare for all the hustle and bustle of the season.

Our annual cinnamon roll Christmas tree was made for the children to devour it. It is so simple, but the entire family loves it and looks forward to it each year. To make it you just need two containers of cinnamon rolls and make a shape into the tree. Serve with oodles of hot cocoa and watch the children bounce off the walls in delight and sugar-infused fun.



Sometimes it is hard to say what the favorite present is, but this year there were two clear winners with the kids. The first one... the infamous superhero cape. I got Emily a princess cape, but she wanted to try on brother's cool cape instead. Ethan has pledged his loyalty with Batman forever and I am sure we helped seal the deal with a Batman Lego Set & a Batman Shake & Rattle Car, but the kid hasn't taken the costume off since he got it. He has been pretending to fly around the house rescuing us all from the unnecessary evils of the world.

The other true winner was the Baby Alive Doll. We aren't giving her the food and things like that, but I love that she can make the baby pretend to go potty since she, herself, refuses to go on the potty. I am hoping it will bring her inspiration, but until then she can play with her baby. She loved this baby so much that she refused to open the rest of her gifts. "Emily, do you want to open one of your presents?" "NO, MOMMY. YOU STOP! I WANT TO PLAY WITH MY BABY." Ah, the joys of turning three!

I will definitely share our favorite presents of the year after all of the present opening has been done and will write them down for gift ideas next year for our blog.



After all the presents were opened, they grabbed their new sleeping bags and pillows from their bed and camped out to rest. They watched their new box set of Max & Ruby Christmas specials and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon after all the festivities.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Speaking, Ya'll: Blissdom '09

I am so looking forward to the Blissdom '09 Conference that is coming up on February 6-8 and am honored to be speaking on two panels with some of the most amazing women on the web. I will be sharing my experience with content & readership as well as navigating the social media world to grow your site and/or blog.

I am particularly looking forward to meeting some of the women I have secretly worshiped and adored from afar on the web- Meredith, Shannon, Tsh, & Marie... just to name a few! Seriously, it is about the best round-up of speakers you will ever see!

If you register before December 31st, you can take advantage of the Early Bird Special rate at $100 for the conference.


I hope some of you will be there because I can think of nothing better than meeting all my friends in person.

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An Apron Full of Giveaways 12.23.08

Welcome to our round-up of contests and giveaways! This week is a little slower week, but we have two giveaways ending tonight and a new one for this week that we are excited to share.

Be sure to enter to win our SmartShopper electronic grocery list, a PeaceLoveMom mommy t-shirt, and our new one-year membership to GoTrybe to get your family active this year!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, "MomAdvice (Christmas Movies)."

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you! Happy holidays, everyone!

To enter, please follow the links below.
(photo credit: Saídos da Concha)




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A Miscellaneous Post of Thrifty Holiday Ideas

The gifts are wrapped and tucked beneath the tree. I opted for reusable grocery bags in lieu of the traditional gift bag this year. I am such a fan of the Target bags and the clever designs that they implement into their bags. These fold up into the size of a small cosmetic case and had a pocket in the front too, perfect for tucking a gift card or a note of appreciation to someone. These were only $1.50, but everyone was so excited to get these this year. There are just a couple of pieces of tissue paper at the top, but the bottom was stuffed with newspaper that would have gone in our recycle bin. The newspaper helped these stand a little more upright since they were not flat-bottomed. I felt proud about my eco-friendly alternative and am hoping to convert some of my plastic-bag-lovin' family members over to the joys of reusable bags.

We did not buy any new decorations this year, but I opted to decorate with what we already had instead. This wall of pictures behind our Christmas tree needed some sprucing up so I covered the photos with some leftover holiday wrap and bows. I thought it tied in the Christmas spirit beautifully and look forward to doing this each year!

I did my annual gift exchange with my best friend. Do you recognize the pom pom? It is made from Target bags and was featured in our notebook. She was so proud to give it to me and I was so excited to see how her "notebook experiment" turned out. Tucked inside was Better Homes & Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book, 2-at-a-Time Socks, a gorgeous teal velvet blazer (found at the thrift store), and a set of note cards with shoes on them. Now THAT is a friend that knows you well! We put a $20 dollar limit on our gifts and always try to outdo each other with our thrift store finds and killer deals.

We worked on mailing and addressing all of our holiday cards for the year. Ethan helped me put on the stamps and we created an assembly line of stamping; he stamped with his stamps and I stamped a snowflake rubber stamp on each and dropped them in the mail. I mailed off my friend's baby blanket and noticed that shipping costs have been reduced for people who do online mailing versus bringing your items into the post office. I was able to save some change on the mailing and was once again very thankful for my handy little postal scale.

Ethan had his holiday show where he sang a beautiful song about snowpants and a song about special, special,special me. He invited Ryan & I to come to his show where he would "dress up fancy and sing special songs." He was so proud of his song and to give our cozy holiday gift (tucked in a reusable bag) to his teacher. We celebrated his special, special, special performance with a budget-friendly Junior Frosty from Wendy's.

Instead of our holiday photo books this year, I decided to make a DVD of our year for each set of the grandparents. I set it all to holiday music and sent it off to our out-of-town relatives with a message for each of them about how special they were. Shipping costs were greatly reduced and it is something that they can view over and over again or share with their friends.

What is your proudest thrifty holiday idea this year? Did you do anything out of the ordinary to save a buck? Please share!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Redbox Code 12.22.08

Today's Redbox code is EC22KP. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

In addition,Redbox is giving free movie rentals at Walmart Redbox locations.
These are good on Sunday's only for one free rental. All of the codes for the appropriate Sunday's are listed
below.

I hope these codes help make the holidays a little brighter- Merry Christmas!

Week 4 (Sunday 12/28) - 11moms4uT (good for that day only)

Week 5 (Sunday 1/4/09) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)


Go to redbox.com to find a redbox location at a Walmart near you.This promo
code is valid at redbox locations in Walmart stores only and cannot be redeemed online. Promo codes are valid for the first night of rental only. Your credit or debit card is necessary to redeem your promo code, and will be charged $1 plus tax, if applicable, for every subsequent night after the free rental period. Promo code is not transferable, not for resale, and cannot be combined with other offers. Limit 1 promo code per transaction.

Side Notes:

- If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

- When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, "Rent with Promo." Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

*****************************************

Don't forget to enter our giveaways! We have a SmartShopper electronic grocery shopping list & a fun mommy t-shirt from PeaceLoveMom! These contests end at 8PM tonight!

For a full list of great giveaways, visit our apron full of giveaways linky list and check back tomorrow for a nice fresh list for the week. Happy Holidays and Good Luck!!

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Our Birthday Brunch Bash (With Recipes)

Our famous birthday banner was hung high this weekend for Emily's 3rd birthday. Sprinkled all over the house were purple birthday balloons and pretty purple ribbons tied on anything and everything that I could tie to. In the background was playing a slide show of our sweet Emily (thanks to my friend Rachel for that great idea!) with a collection of photos of our sweet girl growing up.

Just before her party, Emily and Ethan bonked heads so hard that they both were crying uncontrollably leaving Ethan with a goose egg on his forehead and Emily with what appears will soon be a black eye. That is always good for those birthday photos!

The anticipation of waiting for our guests was almost too much to bear. The roads were sheets of ice and accidents were witnessed by many of our party guests on their way to Emily's party. We were so thankful to everyone that came and drove on the treacherous roads for our celebration.


I decided to do a brunch this year because I could prepare all of the food the day before and brunch is an economical dish to serve for a crowd. I made an Overnight Breakfast Casserole, a French Toast Souffle, Holiday Punch, and purchased (at a 40% discount on the marked down items in the bakery) croissant pinwheels, coffee with flavored creamers/syrups, and our birthday cake. All in all, I spent about $30 on all the food & decorating supplies to serve sixteen people. We kept it simple by just inviting family this year and opting for some playgroup fun around the holidays instead of a friend party.

Emily opened her presents which were filled with more princess stuff than you could shake a wand at. The hit of the party, a very special pair of princess shoes of which I am quite sure she will be toppling over and getting a matching black eye as she traipses along her imaginary runway.

Happy 3rd birthday, Miss Emily! You are loved and adored by all who have the pleasure of knowing you!

French Toast Souffle

10 cups white bread cubes (I used a loaf of French Bread)
2 Tablespoons each of sugar and cinnamon
1 (8 ounce) package low fat cream cheese, softened
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2/3 cup half-and-half cream
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Maple Syrup for topping

Place bread cubes in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Pour sugar and cinnamon on the bread and lightly toss with your hands. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in milk, half and half, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and vanilla until mixture is smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over the bread; cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, remove souffle from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately after removing from the oven, drizzle maple syrup over the top (it will melt into the souffle). Using a sifter, shake the powdered sugar all over the top.

Side Note: I had some trouble with the cream cheese mixing in & not making it look curdled so I followed another recipe that suggested leaving the cream cheese as a block and cutting small cubes of cream cheese to dollop between the layers of bread. You can do whichever you prefer!

Overnight Breakfast Casserole

1 pound sliced ham (lunch meat)
2 teaspoons mustard
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
6 slices white bread, toasted & cut into cubes
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, mix together mustard, salt, eggs, and milk. Add the ham (cut into cubes), bread cubes, and cheese, and stir to cat evenly. Pour into a greased 9x13" baking dish. Cover & chill in the refrigerator for eight hours, or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover and bake 45-60 minutes. Uncover and reduce temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until set.

Amy's Holiday Punch

1 (2 liter) bottle cherry 7-Up soda
1 liter (half a bottle) raspberry flavored soda (I found this at Walmart)
1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 (12 ounce) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 (1 liter) can pineapple juice

Mix all the ingredients together for the punch. This will fill one large punch bowl or two smaller ones. Rum can be added for a spiked punch, but that would be super inappropriate for a princess party! This will convert the non-punch lovers in the group, I promise!

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Lovely Little Birthday Cake


Emily celebrated her third birthday this weekend and made a few special birthday requests. She wanted presents, a party hat, a purple cake, and purple balloons.

I headed over to Michael's and got the supplies to make this cake. I baked a white cake (using the white cake mix from Aldi) and baked it in a 9x13" pan. While the cake baked, I made two batches of frosting. I tinted one cup of frosting white, two cups yellow, and three cups purple.

I let the cake cool and then popped it in the freezer (I froze mine overnight). In the morning, I put on a layer of yellow frosting and then piped rosettes as a border on the cake. The top was then covered in purple rosettes and then sprinkled generously with rainbow sprinkles.

To make the rosettes, I used a 1M tip bought at Michael's. If you desire a smaller size rosette, you can use a #18 tip, which would be great for cupcakes or adding a little addition to your border.

To make a rosette, fill your piping bag with icing. Hold your bag at a 90 degree angle, with the tip slightly above the surface. Squeeze out the icing to form a star and without releasing pressure, move the tip in a tight complete rotation, starting at 9:00, moving to 12:00, then to 3:00, then 6;00, and then end it back at 9:00. Stop the pressure and lift your tip away. To see how to make these in pictures, I found this great little tutorial. If you want to fancy up the rosettes, you can add a dot in the center in a contrasting color.

I am no pro at cake decorating, but I have found the cake decorating classes offered by craft stores to be an invaluable tool to help me feel more confident in making birthday cakes for my children. It has really helped when my kids have come up with more unusual cake requests (like a Lego cake, for example) and it has saved us a lot of money over the years.

Here is the recipe for the frosting that I used for this cake!

Buttercream Frosting Recipe

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar (approximately 1 pound)
2 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter and shortening with an electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all the sugar has been mixed in, the icing will appear dry. add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. (Yields 3 cups). Store icing in the refrigerator when not in use. Rewhip before using.

For Chocolate Buttercream Icing: Add 3 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate and 1 tablespoon more milk to the Buttercream Icing recipe.

For Stiffer Frosting (if needed when decorating): Substitute all vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring.


Do you make birthday cakes or opt to buy them? What are some ways you save money on birthday celebrations?

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Freebie Friday: December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays and Happy Freebie Friday to all of our readers and visitors! Thank you bunches to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for assisting us with our freebie list this week. You won't want to miss Heather's list of reasons on why she reads blogs & how it saves her money.

Just as a quick reminder, we are happy to share some exclusive Redbox codes for our readers through the Walmart Eleven Moms project. Please make sure to jot down a code for each Sunday in December. You can find all the codes for the month right here!

Be sure to also visit the Apron Full of Giveaways for loads of fun giveaways to enter. We are giving away a fun mommy t-shirt from PeaceLoveMom and a SmartShopper electronic grocery list maker. Just follow the links for how to enter.

Health & Beauty

Fabulosity fragrance
Stetson Rich Suede cologne
Cosamin DS (Costco)
Food

Emergen-C drink mix
Bear Naked Granola

Entertainment

LOVE 12 free song downloads (Cartier)
Oprah Holiday Hits 2008 free music download
5 Free Issues of Cosmopolitan Magazine
The Magazine Antiques
Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine
Amazon 25 Days of Free Music Downloads (one for each day of December)

Home & Garden

Amy's Printable Weekly Planner (& more printables on MomAdvice)
Ziploc Home Organization House Party
Healthy Bones for Life 2009 Pocket Planner (National Institutes of Health)
2009 Women's Health Calendar (WomensHealth.gov)

*****************************

Michiana Moms- don't miss a fun free event happening in Michiana!

Notre Dame Bookstore Holiday Open House

December 20th-

9-11 Story time and arts and crafts with Cheri and
April Hallwood.

11:00 Storytime with Father Jenkins

12:00-5:00 Stations to make Christmas treats:
reindeer food
cookie decorating
Christmas ornament

12:00-2:00 Photo with St Nicholas Photos available
from Lighthouse Imaging with $5.oo donation to United
Way


2:00-5:00 book launch Take Ten and the High School
Dance Face-Off (book created by students in SBCBC in
conjunction with ND students)

Thanks to Antonette for the freebie tip!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Amy's Notebook 12.18.08


I love this list of things to love around the holidays (@ Soule Mama)

These mitten clips are precious (@ Mad About Martha)

These gourmet apples would make a great teacher gift (@ Just Deanna)

I want to knit a coffee cup sleeve (@ Canadian Living)

These homemade marshmallows look so lovely for little holiday gifts (@ Inside A Black Apple)

I love this hoopie the snowman (@ betz white)

This handmade advent calendar is so cute (@ Crafting Happens via Today's Creative Blog)

This holiday pumpkin bread recipe looks amazing (@ Annie's Eats)

I look forward to these sibling gift ideas each year (@ Design Mom)

I love this idea for embellishing mittens and they would make a great gift (@ Grace Violet)

These Cheesy Parmesan Italian Biscuits look so delicious for the holidays (@ Divine Domesticity)

These quick sugar substitutes will come in handy with the holiday baking (@ The Kitchn)

I want to try this recipe for homemade gingerbread men (@ Simply Recipes)

I am going to have to try this trouble-free gift bow when wrapping next year (@ Small Notebook)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Fun '08


We took the children Friday night to see all of the holiday lights. It was so great this year because Emily enjoyed it as much as Ethan. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed as we drove through the neighborhood and came home to enjoy a little cocoa after coming in from the cold winter air.

As a side note: the look of glee on Ethan's face as we drive by Hobby Lobby could only be replicated by my own look of glee. That store is EVIL! I could spend a ton of money in there!



Saturday morning, we headed to downtown South Bend to enjoy a visit with Santa. This Santa is way better than the mall Santa because they let you see him and take your own Santa pictures for free. Each child is given an "I Believe" sticker that they can show to the South Bend Chocolate Cafe to get a free chocolate candy bar.

Ethan was excited to see Santa, but Emily...not so much. We didn't repeat past years and just let her see him from far away. As we inched closer she would say, "Santa's scary." Ethan got in his visit though and a request for a fancy sled this year.


We then headed over to the College Football Hall of Fame to see some really beautiful gingerbread houses and get a chance to sample some yummy food. They had tables set up for the kids to color and to decorate and eat some Christmas cookies. All of these activities- FREE! You have to love that!


Our evening was spent at Ryan's holiday party. I had him take a picture of what I wore so you could see just how thrifty I can be. The blazer was already in my closet, an inexpensive purchase bought this fall for $14.99 at Forever 21. The pants are a black jean trouser pant made by theory found at Goodwill for $5.00. The camisole top was found deeply clearanced at rue 21 for $5. The long strand of pearls were bought at Target for $7.99. And the shoes? Longtime readers might remember them from my ode to red post. Those were purchased at Payless and are perfect for all holiday occasions!

The dinner was free and the babysitter worth every penny.

The wild and crazy dancing done by Ryan's wife for all his coworkers to see...priceless!

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Making Simple Holiday Memories


Usually I am in high mode for the holiday season. I have books wrapped for a holiday countdown, a jar of activities for the kids, a high maintenance photo session for the family, and am a ball of nerves.

This year, our efforts were focused on our Big Give which created less space and time for my usual flurry for the holidays. My family members have been in and out of the hospital, some of my family are without work or are having a hard time financially, and it has flipped a switch in me.

Don't get me wrong, we are still doing things, but it is low-key and as we please. The photo session moved to our house this year as we decorated our tree and cookies. Our gift-giving was considerably scaled back and rather than my scheduled activities, we have just done things when we want to.

I have given myself permission to have a simple Christmas this year. I have given myself permission to make homemade gifts when I might have bought them. I have let my kids decorate the tree without fixing it. I have put out some decorations, but didn't buy new ones. I didn't participate in a cookie exchange and made cookies just for ourselves. I shopped online and allowed myself the pleasure of completely avoiding the mall this year. I wrapped gifts, but I wrapped with what we had on hand and kept it simple.

The hot cocoa is still flowing, the holiday lights are still enjoyed as we drive through the neighborhoods, the holiday music is still fa-la-laing. It is still as grand as ever.

And my holiday...well, it is still filled with unbelievable joy and tradition. And dare I say it? Peace. Just a little of that too.

Tradition & Togetherness. That is what it is all about, my friends.

xoxoxo,
Amy

(photo source: Brittani Renee Photography)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New on Kenmore: 'Tis the Season


My new holiday article is up on the Kenmore website. Visit this article to get gift ideas, recipes to create in your kitchen, creative ideas for wrapping your gifts, and a list of all those forgotten items that you always need around the holidays.

I hope you enjoy it and thanks so much for your support!

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An Apron Full of Giveaways 12.16.08


























It is another fun week of giveaways this week and I am looking forward to seeing what everyone is offering up on their blogs!

This week we have a fun t-shirt from PeaceLoveMom and a SmartShopper Electronic Grocery List up for grabs. This is also the last day to enter in our Scotts Toliet Paper & Towels for a year with a $100 Visa Gift Card, the Ikea Extravaganza that we have for one lucky winner, and a Sony Digital Camera from Staples. Such great giveaways that I wish that we could all be winners!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, "MomAdvice (Christmas Movies)."

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you! Happy holidays, everyone! (Photo Credit: Meg McElwee)




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Round-Up of Homemade Hostess Gifts

I love to give hostess gifts because they don't cost very much at all, but can say a lot about who you are and the person you are giving it to. In my opinion, giving a homemade gift shows that you care enough about that person that you would devote time towards making something special just for them. The best part about the homemade gift is that you can make it very inexpensively, but leave a lasting message for your recipient.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite hostess gifts to give for the holiday season from our website...


A jar of pumpkin butter with some buttery bread machine rolls.

A snowflake knitted dishcloth with a personalized family tag.

A coffee cup or waffle-weave dishcloth with a bottle of hand soap tied with a little raffia.

A knitted or no-sew scarf with a repurposed container housing some homemade vanilla chai tea or other great drink mix.

A batch of ready-to-bake homemade cinnamon rolls to make your host's morning brighter.

A set of bubbly magnets in a creatively wrapped Altoid tin.

A fresh batch of Oreo Biscotti in a pretty coffee mug.

A mix of your favorite holiday music wrapped creatively in your family holiday picture.

A can of sugar & spice nuts- the perfect holiday treat.

A mini-loaf of deliciously spiced pumpkin bread wrapped with a bow.

A batch of vanilla scented granola in a thrifted jar.

A small box filled with Christmas goodies- don't forget some holiday-esque sugar cookies!


A jar of homemade hot cocoa mix tied with some festive ribbon.


Not enough ideas? Here are some other great hostess gifts to try!

1 hour apron (@ Stop Staring & Start)

A creatively wrapped bottle of inexpensive wine or champagne (@ Martha Stewart)

A paper scrapbook bag (@ Craftzine)

A pan of nut brittle block with a mini-hammer or make my microwave version of this (@ Martha Stewart)

A set of fabric-painted monogrammed hand towels (@ Martha Stewart)

A cinnamon candle with a big red bow (@ Martha Stewart)

A fabric covered journal with a note of thanks (@ Country Living)

A box of paper fortune cookies, but write things you are thankful for about the person you are giving them to instead of fortunes and use holiday paper (@ For the Love of Paper)

A box of festive caramel corn tied with a green bow (@ little momma and co.)

A little hot cocoa kit with chocolate covered marshmallows (@ whatever)

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Redbox Code 12.15.08

Today's Redbox code is 47J2L8. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

In addition,Redbox is giving free movie rentals at Walmart Redbox locations.
These are good on Sunday's only for one free rental. All of the codes for the appropriate Sunday's are listed
below.

I hope these codes help make the holidays a little brighter- Merry Christmas!

Week 3 (Sunday 12/21) - 11moms4uN (good for that day only)

Week 4 (Sunday 12/28) - 11moms4uT (good for that day only)

Week 5 (Sunday 1/4/09) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)


Go to redbox.com to find a redbox location at a Walmart near you.This promo
code is valid at redbox locations in Walmart stores only and cannot be redeemed online. Promo codes are valid for the first night of rental only. Your credit or debit card is necessary to redeem your promo code, and will be charged $1 plus tax, if applicable, for every subsequent night after the free rental period. Promo code is not transferable, not for resale, and cannot be combined with other offers. Limit 1 promo code per transaction.

Side Notes:

- If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

- When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, "Rent with Promo." Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

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Our Favorite Cocoa Mix

A good cocoa mix is harder to make than it might seem. I like my hot chocolate to be the right balance of creamy and chocolate goodness. It needs to be yummy enough on it's own, but also be able to endure my loads and loads of whipped cream and marshmallows.

After trying and testing many variations in our house, we finally have determined that this is the best cocoa mix of all. It is the perfect ratio of everything and can make a fabulous gift to give to someone special in your life.

Most of the items, I am sure, you will find lurking in your pantry. We store ours in a thrifted jar with some festive ribbon. As a special Friday night treat, I load up a breakfast tray with all the fixings and mix up a batch of this to enjoy with a little popcorn. It is our holiday tradition that I hope the kids will remember. This recipe is tucked away in my holiday journal to give to them when they are older. I hope they will someday be serving this same mix to their own children. Ah, a girl can dream can't she?

Hot Cocoa Mix

4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. If a finer consistency is desired, you can pour the mix into a blender or food processor and run it through that. Store in an airtight container. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending on your cocoa preference) of the mix to an 8 ounce mug of boiling water.

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Rotini With Turkey Meatballs


Ever since my son was a little boy, he would curl up with me and watch a marathon of Food Network on Sunday afternoons. It has been our little thing for years. He will bury his head into the crook of my arm, snuggle under the blanket, and talk food with me. Will these days end? I hope not for a long time!

One day as we watched episode after episode of Everyday Italian he looked at me and said, "Mommy, can we make that?" The dish was relatively healthy and could be adjusted with ingredients in our pantry so our version of Giada's dish was recreated in our kitchen together. I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than cooking with my son.

This is our version of Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs- our new family favorite that is gobbled up by all!


Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

Meatballs:
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon ketchup
3/4 cup grated Romano (or Parmesan)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Italian turkey sausages (remove the casings)

Pasta & Sauce:
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pound rotini pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine. Using a melon baller (or a teaspoon measure), form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs.

In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat the pasta, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the meatball mixture. Gently toss to combine.

Alternative to Pan-Frying Meatballs: Make your meatballs the standard size and put them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. Heat chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Let them cook as directed and then drop in the baked meatballs for a few minutes. This is less mess and less calories!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Freebie Friday: December 12, 2008

Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, and I are proud to host another week of Freebie Friday for you. I hope you will enjoy all of these great freebies especially all of those wonderful holiday music downloads that are so much fun to listen to while preparing for the holidays. Swing by Freebies 4 Mom and enter to win her numerous giveaways that she is offering her readers and some exclusive freebies that are not listed here!

Just as a reminder, we are happy to share some exclusive Redbox codes for our readers through the Walmart Eleven Moms project. Please make sure to jot down a code for each Sunday in December. You can find all the codes for the month right here!

Not enough free stuff for you? Be sure to visit the Apron Full of Giveaways for forty-nine great giveaways happening this week!

Health & Beauty

Coty/Lancaster 365 Cellular Elixir
Arm & Hammer Toothpaste
Head & Shoulders
Food
Chiquita Bites (printable coupon)
Sunmaid Raisins Cookbooks
Del Taco 2 Chicken Soft Tacos (sign-up for eClub)
Quizno's Sammie (sign-up for emails)

Entertainment
Disney Photo Globe Greeting
Barry Manilow Christmas iTunes Song from Ocean Spray
Brad Paisley "Jingle Bells"
Sprout Holiday Music Downloads
Borders Free Music Download
Bacardi Holiday Music Downloads
House Party: TNT Trust Me
Marie Claire Magazine Subscription
Once Upon a Tide DVD (for teachers only please)
Faith Hill "Oh, Holy Night iTunes song
Cosmopolitan Magazine (5 Free Issues)
Amazon 25 Days of Free Music Downloads (one for each day of December)

Home & Garden
$5 off $5 Kohl's Purchase (just sign-up for emails)

Upcoming Freebie Events:

DECEMBER
Dec. 13 Make a Gingerbread House (out of wood) at Lowe's 10 - 11am

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Amy's Notebook 12.11.08

I apologize- I made a mistake on the ending dates of our Sony & Scotts giveaways. These are open until 12/16 as all our giveaways typically run one week. Please be sure to visit our apron full of giveaways for a ton great contests to enter. Many apologies for the confusion I may have caused!

Something that I hopefully did right was completing my first article for the Right@Home website. I will be guest blogging over the next couple of months about fun activities and crafty ideas to do with your children. Please visit my new articles here!

Enjoy the link list today!

*************************************

I am making note of all of these great holiday gift wrapping ideas for the holidays (@ Design Sponge)

This little advent village is adorable (@ Salt & Chocolate)

I would love to try knitting these snowflake mittens (@ Meg Kandis)

These snowy pinecones would make a lovely & frugal centerpiece (@ flipflops & applesauce)

I love this Memory game idea using real memories (@ ohdeedoh)

I think the kids and I would have fun making these cinnamon ornaments (@ sycamore stirrings)

I love these little calendars made with sunprints (@ make grow gather)

These painted holiday ornaments would be fun to do with my kiddos (@ little momma and co.)

This kitchen playmat is so cute and fun (@ ohdeedoh)

I want to try these peanut butter fudge treats (@ Joy the Baker)

These chicken and dumplings remind me of dinners with my great-grandmother (@ Simply Recipes)

I love this glass ball wreath and want to make one for my door (@ TidyMom)

This magnetic advent calendar is darling (@ Remodeling This Life)

I love this pinecone wreath too (@ A Soft Place to Land)

This Christmas Card puzzle game is so inventive (@ Let's Explore)

Don't these homemade graham crackers look delicious? (@ plum pudding)

This homemade vanilla extract and spiced nuts look like great gifts to give (@ Design Mom)

Cookie logs would make great gifts to give (@ Make & Takes)

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspiring Moms: Kallie Wegmann from Discover Chiropractic

We are so excited to get to share an interview with Dr. Kallie Wegmann who is both a chiropractor AND a very busy mom.

As someone who has benefited greatly from chiropractic care, I was curious to see what Dr. Wegmann would recommend for mothers and how we can care for ourselves in a frugal way. I hope you will enjoy this interview as much as we enjoy sharing about health & wellness for moms.

1. Can you tell me a little bit about your business and why you chose chiropractic care as your field?


Discover Chiropractic was founded in 2004 by Drs. Michael and Kallie Wegmann. The clinic is a wellness clinic that promotes healthy living, lifestyle recommendations and preventative care by the means of spinal and nutritional health. We encourage participation from our patients, teaching the importance of spinal health from infants to senior citizens and healthy living; including eating healthy, staying active, and stress management.

We both chose chiropractic for very similar reasons, making a difference in someone’s life. Having the ability to share our knowledge with others is very rewarding, seeing results from our care, most rewarding. Having the ability to possibly prevent a painful surgery, or teaching a young mother the importance of spinal health in her children are just a couple of rewarding things we do.

Sometimes we laugh about who is more rewarded, the patients that had the great results, or us feeling blessed for providing those results. One the of most unique enjoyments about our profession is having the ability to make a relationship with our patients. They become like family in our office. We communicate with our patients and give them the opportunity to be a person, not just a patient.

2. What would you recommend for supplements/vitamins that could help a mom with her overall health & energy level?

The health and well being of a mother is important to the entire family. Most families rely heavily on the mother figure in the household, and if she is out of commission, the family is out of commission.

The absolute best thing mothers could focus on from a supplement standpoint is quality multi-vitamins and quality essential fatty acids (known as fish oils). The Standard American Diet is high in omega-6’s which is now linked to inflammation. Inflammation is linked to asthma, auto-immune diseases, heart disease and even cancer. The fish oil is high in omega-3’s which counteracts the inflammation. If you are having problems figuring out what supplements are good you can always ask for more information (leave comments below).

3. What are some frugal ideas that could help with a mom's physical health?

The best frugal idea that could help for physical health would be some free weights (also known as dumbbells) and a large (65cm) exercise ball. Both could be found at Wal-Mart, Craigslist, or the local paper for a very reasonable price. This form of exercise targets the abdominal and core muscles of the torso mainly, but can also become a full body workout. Physical exercise such as working on the ball can burn calories if it’s hard to get to the gym or do cardio exercises with the kids running around. The key is to stay consistent and focused. Life is easier when you’re healthy.

I have found it easier to stick to a routine if I write it down the night before. Make exercise a priority!!

4. If your health insurance does not cover natural forms of care, what are some ways that moms can explore these routes and maybe do it a little less expensively? Are there alternative programs out there that a mom could sign up for? Do some doctor's offer assistance for chiropractic care?

Great question and very fitting for today's economic struggles! Never, and I'll say it again, NEVER, visit a professional regarding your health, based solely upon expense. First find the right chiropractor for you; if you’re bringing your kids in to get check look for a kid’s room.

Second, don't be ashamed and embarrassed about discussing your financial situation. Like us, many chiropractic offices will help accommodate your financial situation. If not, are you really sure that they care about YOUR health, or what is in your wallet.

For moms who work or have husbands that work ask your employer or insurance agent about flexible spending accounts or HSA (Health Savings Accounts). Many times theses accounts are pre-taxed dollars to be used for medical expenses. HSA’s can save a family about 33% off of the price of care. Not bad for asking a few questions.

5. What credentials should you look for when choosing a chiropractor? Is there a national list where moms can search for a chiropractor in their area?

When choosing a chiropractor look for a Board Certified Chiropractor. The best resource for seeking out a chiropractor is word-of-mouth; don’t forget to ask if the doctor is comfortable with kids. There currently is not a national list to search for chiropractors. There are some good websites like www.palmer.edu and www.life.edu. Visit the office ask for a tour and consult; most important ask questions. The chiropractor that you want to see is someone that is willing to give you explanations for what he/she does how they do it and what to expect. Find someone who you are comfortable with.


Kallie Wegmann is a full time stay at home mother of two and part time practicing doctor. In addition to her carting kids around, seeing patients and running an office she keeps busy with the Children’s Ministry at church. Kallie is an avid runner and ardent horse lover. When not in the house or at the office she can be found in the barn; either cleaning, stacking hay, or riding horses.


We would love if you could leave a comment and thank Kallie for her time. Please feel free to chime in on the discussion and share ways that you care for yourself whether it be through chiropractic care, a vitamin or supplement routine, or how you manage to squeeze in a little exercise!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An Apron Full of Giveaways 12.09.08

I had to take a week off of doing this because Mr. Linky was giving me fits so hopefully things will run more smoothly today.

We have lots of giveaways running today including a Harry Potter Boxed Gift Set, an Ikea holiday package, a super awesome Sony Digital Camera, a $500 Walmart Gift Card, and a year's worth of Scotts Paper Products that will include a $100 Visa Gift Card. I may be biased, but I think MomAdvice offers some of the best giveaways around and I hope you will get your entries in for these cool prizes. You can enter by visiting the links below.

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, "MomAdvice (Christmas Movies)."

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you! Happy holidays, everyone! (image source: jek in the box)

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Budget-Friendly Gifts for Teens & Tweens

I am having the best time putting together these little budget-friendly gift guides for families and I hope you are finding things that are useful in these lists. I have looked through a lot of magazine lists and website lists and none of them really struck a chord with me so I am hoping things on mine are providing ideas for you.

I have been getting some very nice thank-you's from some of the Etsy sellers so that really warms my heart to know that these lists are serving a double purpose and are helping crafters out too!

In case you missed it, here are the lists that we have on here so far:

Budget-Friendly Gifts for Young Children
My Christmas Wish List
Great Budget-Friendly Gifts for Men

Teen gifts are a tough category for me to cover since I don't have any children in this stage. I think I am a pretty hip and young mom though so hopefully some of my ideas will work and please feel free to chime in on this category.

As a teenager, my favorite gift was getting money to spend for the after-Christmas sales. My parents knew that our money would go a lot farther if we shopped after Christmas and, at this age, that was just as exciting as getting a bunch of stuff under the tree.

Here are a few notes about teens:

1. Give them the gift of an experience. Even if it doesn't include you in the picture and one of their friends instead, they will love getting to do something fun. Take your teen daughter to the beauty school and get manicures with her. Hit the makeup counter with her at the mall and buy her a little something out of the case that is flattering. Go tubing with your son and take him somewhere fun for dinner. Give him a couple of tickets to see a movie and a little spending money for the concession stand. Go as a family to see his favorite baseball team play. These are just a few ideas for gift-giving experiences rather than just things under the tree.

2. Remember that at this stage, kids are a little more aware of the value of the dollar and you are now able to have discussions with them about your financial situation. Be honest with them if something is out of your price range, but also try to keep the wonderfully magical aspect of the holiday by doing activities together as a family.

3. Include them in the shopping, the wrapping, or the baking. Even if it is just your son sitting at the kitchen table devouring the holiday cookies and you chatting with him. Even if it is watching your daughter's favorite television show while you wrap gifts. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, but I promise you that they will remember those special times and what a great parent you are...even if they don't realize it until ten years down the road.

4. Gift cards are great. Although these aren't always the budget-friendly option, teens love getting cards to use towards what they want. The key with gift cards that makes them still budget-friendly is that the money can be applied towards the things they really want. Let's face it, you and your son might not have the same style or taste in music, so if you buy them a gift and they hate it...well, that is money down the drain. If you give them a gift card and they put towards something they really love though...well, that is money that is well spent!

5. Subscriptions always score. You can't go wrong with a magazine subscription and it is a gift that keeps on giving. Visit eBay to find your teens favorite magazines and buy them a year or two at a discounted price. Other subscriptions that rock? Netflix or Blockbuster subscriptions so they can watch their favorite movies or rent their favorite games at home. For gamers, a subscription to Gametap would be a fun gift to give. Don't forget that subscriptions to stream music can also be a wonderful gift. I have recently become acquainted with the joys of Napster and last.fm. Just make sure that the subscription is compatible with their mp3 player or that they have a computer that they can access for their music. Timing free trials with the gift-giving season will help extend the life of the subscription just a little bit longer.

6. Give them gifts based on their hobbies. For the artistic son, get him sketch pads, canvas, or drawing tools. For the daughter who loves to cook, sign her up for a cake decorating class or a cooking course at a continuing education center. For the child that is into sports, try and find some equipment or offer to pay for a program at the local park's department. Anything that shows that you care and are interested in what they are doing is going to be a gift that they will appreciate.

Here are a few of my budget-friendly ideas:






Wristlets are great for a teen girl on the go because they can carry around their cell phone, iPod, and what they need for a fun night out with their friends. I love these little wristlets in fun patterns from Janine King Designs and they are currently on sale for $19.99. This one is the Ginseng Butterfly pattern, but you could find one that fits well with your teen's style. You could also attempt making one and I love this little wristlet tutorial for my sewing-readers!

You would have to be hiding under a rock to not know about the Twilight series from Stephenie Meyers. If your teen is a super-fan of the Twilight books, she would love this four piece set of Twilight tile necklaces. This four piece set from Candy Tiles is only $20. You would need to purchase a chain or she could hang these on a silver chain that she already has. The ambitious parent could make her own tile pendant necklaces and custom design them for her daughter! Another thrifty idea to make this cute would be to have different colors of ribbon that she could string these on that you could include in your gift. How cute would that be?

I adore these little pink gum drop bobbies from Button Boutique- aren't they adorable? This set of seven is only $9.90! Again, my crafty mommas could whip some of these up by following this tutorial!

Another goodie for a tween/teen girl would be this cool Jonas Brothers bag that would resonate with any super fan. It reminds me of my obsession with New Kids on the Block and the super cool fan gear that I was always sporting. I understand about obsessions with boy bands, I truly do. This says you do to and is available from rocknrecycle for $26.95.
Gaming chairs are great for girls or for boys who are really into playing video games. If you watch for next year, they do discount these around the time that the kids are heading back to college. Our beanbag chairs are certainly not as nice as this one, but they only cost us $20 each. After doing some browsing online, this one came up as one of the lower priced ones at $49.99 called the Boompod. This chair can link up to all the gadgets- iPods, mp3 players, game systems, etc.. It would be a fun additon to your son's room and is great when he has friends over to play.

Electric razors are a great gift to give and come in some very budget-friendly options. If you don't want to order one online, I often see some really great prices at the outlet malls on shavers. This razor from Panasonic can be used wet or dry and is priced at $29.99. If your family does a lot of traveling, a pocket electric razor might be a great option too. This one from Braun is only $19.99 and rivals the larger and more expensive models in performance.


It doesn't matter what kind of clunker your kid has, every guy has a desire to make upgrades to their car. Upgrading their headlights is just one inexpensive idea that you could do. Other ideas would be tokens to get their ride washed, getting them supplies to shine up the car themselves, getting a holder for their cell phone, even upgrading their speakers or audio equipment on a small scale would be great. These GE bulbs are priced at $30.99, but Amazon is running a buy one get one free deal on these. You could give one to your son and one to your husband or some other great guy in your life!

Is your son really into gaming? jamjamtees sells this funny "geek" shirt that any gamer would love. If you browse this seller's shop you will find everything from t-shirts for gamers, cyclists, and even lacrosse. This t-shirt is only $12.99.

Look for ideas in the next coming weeks for hostess gifts and stocking stuffers!

What are your favorite gifts to give kids in the teen/tween category? What gifts have really scored with your teenager?

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Redbox Code 12.08.08

Today's Redbox code is 23MJT7. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

In addition,Redbox is giving free movie rentals at Walmart Redbox locations.
These are good on Sunday's only for one free rental. All of the codes for the appropriate Sunday's are listed
below.

I hope these codes help make the holidays a little brighter- Merry Christmas!

Week 1 (Sunday 12/7) - 11moms4uS (good for this day only)

Week 2 (Sunday 12/14) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)

Week 3 (Sunday 12/21) - 11moms4uN (good for that day only)

Week 4 (Sunday 12/28) - 11moms4uT (good for that day only)

Week 5 (Sunday 1/4/09) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)


Go to redbox.com to find a redbox location at a Walmart near you.This promo
code is valid at redbox locations in Walmart stores only and cannot be redeemed online. Promo codes are valid for the first night of rental only. Your credit or debit card is necessary to redeem your promo code, and will be charged $1 plus tax, if applicable, for every subsequent night after the free rental period. Promo code is not transferable, not for resale, and cannot be combined with other offers. Limit 1 promo code per transaction.

Side Notes:

- If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

- When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, "Rent with Promo." Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

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My Hostess Gifts This Year

I have been working on little hostess gifts to give this year for all of our upcoming holiday gatherings. I wanted something that would be quick to make and also economical. Thanks to my new knitting hobby, I am whipping up snowflake dishcloths for a mere $.75 each.


This pattern was easy to do and only required a bit of concentration when making the snowflake in the center. This is all knitting and purling so if you can do those two stitches, you can totally make these! I used Peaches 'N Cream in red and a robin's egg blue.

I have to say that my favorite part about these is the little addition of our family Christmas picture (courtesy of Brittani Renee Photography). I had a disc of our pictures and I copied the pictures to my computer. I then took one of our holiday photos and plopped it into a Word document. Right click on your image and click, "Size." You can then adjust your image to the size for your gift cards. This was reformatted with width and height at 3 inches. You could also do a smaller gift tag by resizing the image to 2 inches. Type your message below and mount it onto cardstock or pretty scrapbooking paper. This was hole punched and then I used a needle to weave in a strand of contrasting yarn with a little raffia.

I hope those who host us in their home will know how much their efforts are appreciated by this tiny gesture of thankfulness.

What is your favorite hostess gift to give? Please feel free to share your recipes or tips/tricks for personalizing those hostess gifts!

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My Favorite Frosted Sugar Cookies

I love decorating cookies with the kids and these are a batch that we whipped up this past week. We let the kids have a decorating extravaganza and they were able to not only decorate our tree, but also decorate these cookies too.

These cookies would be great just plain and rolled in sugar, but I am frosting girl myself. I just can't resist a smear of frosting on a sugar cookie.

With a little frosting and a shake of sprinkles, these cookies rival those yummy sugar cookies at the mall. May I recommend not rolling them in sugar though if you are doing the frosting? It is a little too much sugar even for the sugar-addicts in the group.

Soft Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Stir in the eggs and the vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and add these to the creamed mixture. Chill dough for one hour in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Roll dough into walnut size balls and roll balls in sugar (unless frosting). Place on an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake ten to twelve minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from sheets and allow to cool.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring

In a large bowl, cream together confectioners sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about five minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.

Do you have a favorite holiday cookie or holiday cookie recipe you would like to share? I would love to see what graces your cookie platters!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

MomAdvice Big Give: You Tube Footage

Thank you to everyone who made this moment possible!

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Big Give: The Big Give is Delivered


We are happy to share with our readers that all of the items were delivered today to Faith Mission. We are also proud to say that the donations to our shelter made the front page news of the Elkhart Truth. The paper was able to make it over to shelter as the appliances were being unloaded from the truck which was a big moment for their new space. We are very thankful to Kenmore for making sure the donations arrived there safe and sound. We promise to upload some video footage soon of our donation.


This is an example of how we have been living for the past two weeks as we have gathered all of the donations for the shelter. It is hard to show in pictures what all of this looked like, but what you can definitely see is that we were able to pull of quite a donation.

If you are still interested in giving, we are still taking collections for Faith Mission through the end of December. Our grand total so far is valued at approximately $9,000! What a feat in just one short month!

The One Dollar Give

How can you give? Well, Faith Mission & the MomAdvice Big Give are highlighted today in The One Dollar Give. Head over there and learn more about what just one dollar can do for these residents and how you can help make a difference to the cause. You can visit this site each day and see a newly featured charity for the holidays.


I do have a few special people that I would like to thank for their help this month:

Ginger- It all began with you and your box of mittens. Your outpouring of support made my nervousness disappear in those first few days.

Charrise- for offering your wise words to me each week and offering me the business coaching I needed to make this a success.

Pam- for being my sweet online friend who I now have finally met personally. Thank you for supplying us with the bags we needed for our kits.

Becky- for bringing a lasagna to me so our family actually ate one homecooked meal this past week.

Kathy- for driving all over town to get us the toothbrushes and toothpastes that I did not have for the kits.

Kathy- for believing in me and rallying everyone you know to believe in me too.

My Husband- for always supporting my dreams, no matter how grand they are.

Our Family- Your continued support and pride for me is the greatest gift you could give me.

My Readers- Without your support, I know I could not have done this. Thank you for loving my site so much that you would become attached to my projects and want to see them come into fruition.

Video footage coming soon...

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Freebie Friday: December 5, 2008


We have some great freebies this week and we would love to give Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, a big thank you for assisting us with our freebies this week. Be sure to check Heather's site for an updated birthday freebie list and enter to win a holiday comedy movie to add to your collection.

Here are a few highlighted freebies that you might not know about:


PhotoStamp is offering one free custom stamp to the boys and girls in the U.S. to help them make their letter to Santa stand out this year. Parents and their children can simply visit www.photostamps.com/santa, upload their photos or design, and place the order. The Santa PhotoStamp will arrive in one week or less – just in time for the letter to be mailed to the North Pole.

- I am happy to share some exclusive Redbox codes for our readers through the Walmart Eleven Moms project. Please make sure to jot down a code for each Sunday in December starting this week. You can find all the codes for the month right here!


- Don't forget to enter our giveaways for the week:
Harry Potter Anniversary Edition Box Set & a $500 Walmart Gift Card. A new giveaway is posted each Tuesday so check back weekly!

Health & Beauty

Colgate Total
Huggies GoodNites (Walmart)
o.b. mighty small
Emergen-C
Food
Arby's Medium Mint Chocolate Shake (sign-up for Arby's Extras)
Costco Cookbook Series (all 7 issues online to browse & print)

Entertainment
25 days of free holiday songs at Amazon.com
Sno song download from Blue Bunny ice cream
Target Birthday Club for kids

Home & Garden
Dr. Seuss Gift Tags (printables)
Glad Forceflex Trash Bag (Walmart)
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Tide Total Care

Upcoming Freebie Events:
DECEMBER
Dec. 6 Make an Art Easel at Home Depot 9 - Noon
Dec. 6 & 7 Santa Photos at Walmart 10am-2pm
Dec. 13 Make a Gingerbread House (out of wood) at Lowe's 10 - 11am

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Redbox Codes All December Long

Redbox is giving free movie rentals at Walmart Redbox locations. These are good on Sunday's only for one free
rental. All of the codes for the appropriate Sunday's are listed
below.

I hope these codes help make the holidays a little brighter- Merry Christmas!

Week 1 (Sunday 12/7) - 11moms4uS (good for this day only)

Week 2 (Sunday 12/14) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)

Week 3 (Sunday 12/21) - 11moms4uN (good for that day only)

Week 4 (Sunday 12/28) - 11moms4uT (good for that day only)

Week 5 (Sunday 1/4/09) - 11moms4uA (good for that day only)


Go to redbox.com to find a redbox location at a Walmart near you.This promo
code is valid at redbox locations in Walmart stores only and cannot be redeemed online. Promo codes are valid for the first night of rental only. Your credit or debit card is necessary to redeem your promo code, and will be charged $1 plus tax, if applicable, for every subsequent night after the free rental period. Promo code is not transferable, not for resale, and cannot be combined with other offers. Limit 1 promo code per transaction.

Side Notes:

- If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

- When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, "Rent with Promo." Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.


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Amy's Notebook 12.04.08

This week's notebook experiment will still be on hiatus since I am working on our Big Give and I need to get everything organized and ready for that. I promise to be back to it next week.

In the meantime, did you see the amazing giveaways we are offering? I think you might like to enter to win:

Harry Potter Anniversary Edition Box Set
$500 Walmart Gift Card

We also have a new article added to our website this month. This one is just in time for the holiday season:

A Shift Towards Tradition

Happy browsing today!
*************************************

I love this advent calendar made from things in your recycle bin (@ craftastica)

I love these little holiday barrettes made from leftover fabric (@ Crafty Stylish)

These cinnamon stick votives would be wonderful for the holidays or these yarn filled ornaments to get rid of the yarny leftovers in your stash (@ DIY Maven)

These shortbread cookies look delicious (@ jane's apron)

This little bird advent calendar is so lovely and unique (@ Skip to My Lou)

I love this eco-friendly gift topper (@ Creature Comforts)

These thrifted holiday trees would be a wonderful decoration (@ the long thread)

I love this tutorial on how to hang that holiday wreath (@ Nesting Place)

These fifty ways to kill a Twinkie made me laugh out loud... repeatedly (@ Cakespy)

I adore this holiday gift guide (@ Baking and Books)

I want to try these buttermilk pancakes (@ Serious Eats)

These pumpkin cupcakes look heavenly (@ Smitten Kitchen)

This mug of hot chocolate cake sounds delicious (@ Remodeling this Life)

I love this frugal gift guide for holiday giving (@ Frugal Dad)

I am going to be checking this site often for the holidays (@ Tip Nut)

I love this idea for gift wrapping with fonts (@ bugs and fishes by lupin)

I might have to add some of these ideas for advent activities to my Christmas Jar (@ We Are That Family)

I really like this use for cookie cutters (@ Pepper Paints)

I could make some of these vintage game magnets (@ ohdeedoh)

I love this creative tree topper (@ Grace Violet)

I really like these tater-stamped kitchen curtains (@ Craftzine)

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Budget-Friendly Gifts for Younger Kids

One of the things that people wanted to see on our site were some ideas for giving gifts on a budget for children. I can cover the younger kid category quite easy, but will have to put some thought in for the teen and tween categories.

I know I am not the only parent who sat in amazement when my child became fixated on a box rather than the gift itself. Yes, young children are easier to please than what we might think so remember that when choosing gifts for kids. Don't add unnecessary stress to your life because chances are that our children will just be entertained and happy with the opening of the gifts and a fabulous spread of holiday food.

Things that I have discovered with choosing gifts for younger children are:

1. Thrifted gifts will be just as loved. Younger children are not at a stage where they are going to be disappointed that a gift did not come in a shiny new box. No, they will just be excited to see whatever it is you have wrapped for them so don't feel like you are disappointing them if you don't have a brand new gift for them.

2. Art supplies always make an excellent gift. In my house, you can never have too many crayons, drawing paper, or fun things to keep the kids entertained for hours. When out-of-town relatives send money for the kids, I always apply the money to a big bin of art supplies or goodies for our ornament-making station. I also usually give this gift a little early so that they can be entertained during those hectic days right before Christmas.

3. Giving gifts of traditions are always the best kind of gifts. We try to focus more on traditions rather than what is wrapped under the tree. Try incorporating a Christmas Jar or an Advent Calendar of goodies. Do a countdown to Christmas with items found at thrift stores or wrap each year a set of Christmas books that the children can look forward to every year.

4. Don't feel guilty about what isn't under the tree. In this tough economy and with so many job losses and higher prices plaguing families, please do not feel bad if you can't get your children everything that is their heart's desire. Remember that young children are impressionable and you can offer gentle guidance towards budget-friendly gifts at this stage in the game. When my son asked for Spike the T-Rex ($130), I showed him some other great dinosaurs that I thought he would really like that were less than $20. With a little guidance and an explanation that Spike was a little out of Santa's budget, we were able to steer him towards some more budget-friendly options.

Here are some examples of some of my favorite gifts for young children:
One of our favorite gifts that we have received is the Leapfrog Magnet sets. My daughter loves this farm animal set ($14.99) and also loves the alphabet set. The farm animal set is great for young children because they can just put two magnets together to make the animal and then it sings a little song about what the animal says and does. The alphabet set will grow with children more and will be used longer, but does comes at a little higher price ($16.99). When your child is a beginning reader, like mine, the set can be used to begin spelling words, which is really fun.

Both sets have been loved for years and years in our house and it keeps my kids entertained in the kitchen while I prepare supper. I will say that I hated this farm animal set when I was pregnant and would bump it with my belly and it would say things about cows. Um, thanks, LeapFrog!
My children love blocks and last Christmas we got them each a box of these for the holidays. My daughter is two and my son is six and they both love these blocks and play with them for hours. We gave them this gift early (one of our activities in our Christmas Jar) and they had the best time with these. I have a wicker basket that is the centerpiece on our coffee table in the playroom so that the kids can build and create with these anytime they want. This set is $18.99 for 100 blocks. If you get one for each kid, they can build a fortress out of them!

One of the most beloved gifts for both the kids was a sock monkey that I bought my daughter. She carried it around a lot and I have found him hiding underneath the covers in my son's bed too. My Mommy's Place has these for only $14. If you are ambitious, you could make a sock monkey yourself and make it entirely unique for your children. I think these guys look so cute popping out of the stockings.

My son is really into the superhero thing right now so I am planning to get him one of these superhero capes to fight off the bad guys in our house. This cape is reversible so he could decide which hero he wanted to be and is available from kidzescapes for $24.

Not to be outdone by the boys, every good princess needs a cape too and kidzescapes has that covered too. You can get this reversible cape for $25. The ambitious momma could tackle this project herself and come up with a wonderfully unique cape for their child.

I swear I don't work for Leapfrog, even though it might seem like it! I have to say that the best DVD's we have EVER bought our children are from Leapfrog. We actually bought the entire set of these and they are one of the best teaching tools that I have ever seen. It taught my two year old all of her letter sounds and gave my son an advantage in kindergarten. He was one of the only ones in his pre-K class that could recite every single letter sound. These movies build on beginning letter sounds, word sounds, and even work on math skills. If you are going to add to your movie collection, I highly recommend these. The Letter Factory is priced at only $8.99.
My son is six and his favorite book is definitely the Dangerous Book for Boys (priced at $16.17) We also have a sparkly Dangerous Book for Girls book (priced at $17.79) for my daughter when she gets a little older. These Things to Do editions are only $10.17 (here is a link to the girl's edition). In it are great activities to keep your kids entertained for hours and hours. Include some supplies to complete one of the dangerous activities and you will be the coolest parent on the block.

If your child is in the beginning stages of reading, they will love Mia's Reading Adventure. This computer software has been an incredible addition to our collection. Your child learns reading through games and story activities to help them learn word recognition. The characters are 3D and the storyline is really good so it has kept our son really entertained and engaged in it. We have tried other software from the company, but so far Mia has been the biggest hit. This is priced at $24.99.

If your children like to move and groove to the music, I can guarantee that both you and they will absolutely love the new They Might Be Giants, "Here Come the 123s" The CD comes with a DVD that has all of the songs on the CD with a music video to accompany it. The lyrics are hilarious, the movies will make you laugh out loud, and the kids will learn something. The DVD is just as good as the CD so you can get something for your car and to keep the kids educationally entertained in front of the television. This is priced at just $14.99.

One of our favorite things that has been loved literally until the color wore off and we had only two magnets left because we had lost them all is this School Zone Preschool Magnetic Set. We have taken this set with us whenever we travel or are at a restaurant waiting endlessly for food. The set comes with different heavy-duty backgrounds and comes with an entire farm of animals & magnetic letters that can be stuck to the different backgrounds. The different storyboards have different activities on them or if you have younger children who aren't reading, they can make up their own stories. These are magnets though so make sure you are supervising younger children or give this gift at an age where you can trust them.

The case is metal so if you have a rambunctious toddler like me, it can get warped from standing on it, but the kids have loved this so much that I plan to get them each a new one. They have a kindergarten and preschool version. Best of all, they only cost $9.99.


These are just a handful of my ideas for gift-giving and I hope it helps a little with your holiday shopping.

What are some of your favorite gifts to give for younger kids? Do you have any special presents that your children are requesting this year? Please feel free to share!

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Sneak Peek- The Clark Family Christmas Photo


I spent the day making Christmas cookies, tidying the house, and getting our ornaments ready. The evening was spent decorating the tree and cookies, but we invited a special friend to join us. Brittani Renee came with her camera, armed with ornaments for the kids to hang, and a sweet smile that even melted our shy Emily's exterior. The fun ensued although the posing pictures still require a lot of effort on our part. A promise of cookies and silly faces from the two of us to hold her in her place. We got our shots and can't wait to see the rest.

She still has appointments available- visit her site and tell her we sent you. She will throw in a free gift for our readers.

I have only gotten one photo so far, but I know we made the best choice. Thanks to Michelle for the referral AND the beautiful dress for our Emily. Now that is a true friend, I tell you!

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Big Give: Fast Approaching our Give Day!

I just want to thank you all for your continued support of our Big Give efforts. I am proud to say that we have reached and surpassed many of our goals for the Faith Mission Homeless Shelter (in Elkhart, Indiana). We have had so many great supporters and we look forward to promoting all of you in January for giving so much.

Our Big Give is scheduled for Saturday and I will be heading over there around 11 AM to present the donations. And what a donation I will be presenting! I can't wait to share with you some clips of our big day, but this is what we were able to gather for the shelter.

1. All of the appliances on the Faith Mission Wish List were donated by Kenmore. What a huge blessing that is for the shelter and it brings me great pride to say that I work with this amazing company. Kenmore donated the following appliances (approximately a $7,500 donation):
  • 7- 2’wide Dishwashers
  • 4- 1’10” wide under cabinet Refrigerators
  • 4- 30”-32” wide standard Refrigerators
  • 10- small to medium handing microwaves
2. Through our monetary donations we were able to order the supplies for 100 Welcome Kits for the residents. These welcome kits will be given to each new resident and have all the supplies needed for their personal care. I will have to do a separate post on what I have learned through a give of this size on ordering and great resources that I have been able to find. A special thanks to all my amazing friends who have been rallying together to help me pull this off. Your thoughtful donations, the efforts of your time, the items you have given- NO WORDS! I wish to thank you each individually. You all are amazing and I thank you for your efforts!

3. We have numerous miscellaneous donations of hats, gloves, clothes, medications, pillows, and other great goodies to add for our Big Give. Thank you to each of you for helping with those!

4. Our family also wanted to give something that would bring joy into the resident's hearts. I talked with the director and asked him to run it by the others to see if they would be open to my idea for our family gift. After a discussion among the higher ups, it was decided that a Nintendo Wii would definitely be a gift of joy and would be a wonderful addition to the shelter. My children and I made a trip over to Target and none of us could contain our excitement about giving one of these to them. This was money that our family had set aside, in the event we would not be able to reach our goals for the Big Give, and we are very excited to donate this. That would not have been possible without everyone's support and devotion.

In short, I am proud. I feel successful. I feel great hope for what one person is able to accomplish with the support and love of her family and friends.

Many great life lessons were learned through my Big Give:

For example:

"Your house is smaller than what you think it is. 100 kits is a lot of stuff."
"Your children's enthusiasm for giving will always surpass your own. Learn from them."
"Doing a charitable act raises your awareness for how great the world's needs are. Instead of feeling defeated, feel proud that your small steps are still giant steps toward the right path."
"You aren't superwoman, even if you think you are. Giving to others...yeah, you will totally feel like a super hero. I promise you!"

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All Knitted Up: Project Linus Security Blanket




I am wrapping up my second baby blanket. I think this one is just a tad fancier than the first blanket I did. Although the pattern looks very complex, in actuality the pattern has three rows that just repeat over and over. It is one row of knitting, one row of purling, and then one row of actual pattern. Then you just repeat it until you want to poke your eyes out with your knitting needles.

My favorite part about this blanket is the scalloped edging on it. The blanket looks so beautiful and delicate and it will be going to my best friend's sweet little baby who is on the way in just a couple of short months. I hope it will be a favorite in their collection and I can't wait to send this off for the holidays.

If you are interested in making this blanket, I found the pattern in, "Knitting for Peace" which is a really great book with simple patterns for charitable giving.

It has blanket patterns, chemo cap patterns, infant and preemie hat patterns, and prayer shawls- just to name a few! I can't wait to start doing some charitable knitting and hope to put some really great stuff together in time for next year's holiday. I would also love to do something with Mama to Mama throughout the year. Is anyone else doing anything with this wonderful project?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Redbox Code 12.01.08

Today's free code for a Redbox movie is CC67M4. This code is good for one free movie and you can use it until midnight tonight. Enjoy a free family movie together!

Side Notes:

- If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

- When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, "Rent with Promo." Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

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Don't forget to enter this week's giveaways. You can win a year's worth of toilet paper & paper towels, Clorox 2 laundry detergent, and Klutz Holiday Activity Packs! Find out the scoop on all the giveaways here! Consider it our holiday gift to you!************

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A Perfectly Cozy Gift

I have finished my snowy day scarf and it turned out beautifully! I loved how this scarf turned out so much that I decided to make it for a few more gifts for holiday-giving this year. I was planning to finish it with some tassels, but after tying some tassels to the edges, I decided to take them out because I liked it without them more.

Ethan liked this scarf so much that he now wants me to make one of these for his teacher. We headed over to Michael's and he picked out a soft icy blue for the scarf to be knitted out of. It was so fun to see him think so hard about what color he wanted to give to her. He truly loves his teacher. In fact, on his report card it said, "Ethan tells me he loves me every single day." I hope he is always this tender and sweet.

I am saving those tubes that my Crystal Light drink mix comes in to use for my holiday drink mixes this year. I wrapped this one in some holiday gift wrap and wrapped it around the tube, sealing with a little Elmer's glue to hold it in place. I used my handy little circle punch to make a gift tag to label the drink mix and tied it off with a little raffia. I thought it turned out so cute and, best of all, it was something that would have gone into my recycling.

The scarf is wrapped in ribbon I bought at the end of season last year on clearance. I think it looks so pretty and festive with this bow on it.

Total cost with ingredients, yarn, and wrapping- approximately $5!

Back to the knitting needles to replicate this a couple of more times- once for my postal worker who has worked so hard helping deliver boxes to my house all year long and another for our special teacher. If I can squeeze another one in, it will be for one of his bus drivers and the other (a gentleman) will get a special goody box delivery.

What teacher gifts do you have planned this year? What do you do for those special helpers in your life (the mail carrier, the bus driver, the hair dresser, etc..)?

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MomAdvice Monthly Recap: November '08


I just want to say a special thank you to each of you for visiting my website and sharing it with your friends, family, and your own readers. We had another excellent month and it is all thanks to you. I hope to continue offering support through our site, lots of giveaways for our readers, and a place where you feel valued and cared for. If there is anything you would like to see on here, please contact me (amy@momadvice.com) and let me know what you would like to see in the upcoming year.

Don't forget, you can subscribe to my feeds and never miss another thing on our site again! We have a landing page where it makes it easy to subscribe to our blogs and you can even subscribe to my article feed.

This month's top referrers were:

1. Freebies 4 Mom
2. Money Saving Mom
3. Baby Cheapskate
4. I'm An Organizing Junkie
5. Twitter
6. Tip Nut
7. Eleven Moms
8. Deal Seeking Mom
9. Small Notebook
10.Mommy Making Money

Please take some time this month to check out each of their sites. They are amazing at what they do and we are thankful that we have such great supporters!

This month's top articles & entries were:

1. Make Ahead Thanksgiving Appetizers
2. Great Budget-Friendly Gifts for Men
3. Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
4. Holiday Photo Cards: Who Has the Best Deal?
5. Deliciously Spiced Pumpkin Bread
6. The MomAdvice Big Give: Faith Mission of Elkhart, Indiana
7. Homemade Vanilla Chai
8. Best Taco Meat in the World
9. The Christmas Jar
10.My Christmas Wish List This Year

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