Friday, January 30, 2009

Freebie Friday: January 30, 2009

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, a big thanks goes out to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for all of her assistance with our freebie list! Heather has a great new list of hot coupons for you, to print out for your next grocery day. Don't forget to enter her Hallmark Card Giveaway and visit her site every day for fabulous freebies. Thank you, Heather!

Just as a reminder, our Apron Full of Giveaways is still being added to daily. Make sure to check out all the great blogs and see what new giveaways you can enter!

Health & Beauty


Workouts on Demand (free workout download with code light4u)
Harajuku Lovers Fragrance
Tampax & Always Samples for Teens

Food

Diet Dr. Pepper (with coupon by mail)
Sargento Super Sunday Delicious Football Party Playbook (free recipes to download)

Entertainment

Harlequin Romance 16 eBooks
6 Free Photo Valentine's Cards (Stories by Everyone, includes free shipping)
Woman's Day Magazine (Mercury Magazines, for businesses)
Ranger's Apprentice eBook

Home & Garden

Lee National Denim Day Participation Kit (when you register a team)
Sunkist Lemonade Stand (for kids 7-12 with parents permission)
Warner's Fit-to-a-T House Party
Charmin Toilet Paper Roll Extender

Upcoming Freebie Events:


Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events.

JANUARY
30 - Caribou Coffee Free 12oz. Decaf Coffee - Noon to close at all locations

FEBRUARY
7 - The Home Depot Kids Workshop - Make a trinket box with heart
14 - Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic - Make a jewelry box
24 - IHOP National Pancake Day 7am-10pm
28 - Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic - Make a 48 race car

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Amy's Notebook 01.29.09

I love this little retro Valentine's tray (@ Vintage Indie)

I want to try this recipe for vegetarian chili (@ Sparkle Power)

These chocolate quickies look like a great treat to serve to my friends (@ Chocolate on My Cranium)

This sewing tutorial is great for a super simple recycled quilt (@ Craft Stylish)

I adore this hutch cabinet makeover (@ Pretty Ditty)

These fabric boxes are so cute (@ design sponge)

I love this heartfelt scarf (@ chica schmica)

If you have an iPod, this Peekaboo Farm would be a fabulous way to keep your kids entertained (@ ohdeedoh)

I love these baby gnome hats (@ Soule Mama)

These red velvet cupcakes look like a yummy treat (@ Little Acorn)

I love this spice drawer organization idea (@ The Farm Chicks)

These tulle ponytail holders would be adorable for my daughter (@ zakka life)

These recipes for hot cocoa look so yummy! (@ Polliwog's Cakewalk)

I want to make some heart-shaped pretzels for the kids (@ maya made)

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Notebook Will Be Late....

I apologize, but our Notebook will be a little late today. I made a trip to Philadelphia and left at 9AM for the airport, only to arrive here at 1:15 in the morning. Three canceled flights, two delays, a plane with mechanical problems, and a host of difficulties. I am exhausted!

I will try to post something later today- I apologize for this delay!

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Notebook Experiments: Will A Loft Bed Save Us Space?

Experiment: Will a loft bed save us space?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 01.22.09

Materials Needed: Please see Ohdeedoh for the full instructions.

Results: I can admit that I am totally cheating this week, but when I saw the post on Ohdeedoh, I thought it would tie in perfectly with showing you our son's new big boy bed. Now that his bed had moved over to his sister's room, we had to find a bed for Ethan.

My new rule for furniture buying is I will NEVER again buy something online without seeing it in person first. His first bed was the biggest fiasco ever. We got it home, it was the wrong thing, it was damaged, it was 300 pounds, it had to be loaded piece by piece back into our car, it had to then be unloaded and returned to the store. The whole thing ended with me trying to get the trundle bed out, as a substitution bed for our son, and the trundle releasing under the other bed, pinning my hands between the two beds. We had to make a call to 9-1-1, I was nursing jammed fingers for three days, and cursing my bright idea to order a bed online. NEVER again!

The next day, I decided to head down the road to our local Oak Express and found a bed within minutes. I paid for the bed and sprung for the people to come and put it together for me. It was an easy decision, as I clutched my swollen hand and swore to myself that whatever the price it it would be worth EVERY penny. And it was. It was so worth it. Lesson learned.

Without further adieu, our fabulous new set-up:

We have a tri-level home with very small bedrooms. These small spaces require much thought to make the most of every square inch. A loft bed seemed like the perfect solution for his room. With his new bed, we were able to create space underneath for his own desk to study at. What you can't see from this angle is that there is also a shelf for his books and water at the very end of the bed which he really loves.

Here is Ethan's demonstration for how he climbs into his bed. When he gets older, the ladder can be removed and he can just climb up the side of it. Basically, it will look more grown up for when he is too cool for ladders.

They had two desk choices for this model of bed and we went with the smaller one so he still has room to play underneath. I still need to buy a good chair for him, but he is so thrilled to have his own little space to study his schoolwork.

Conclusion: A loft bed is a great solution for small spaces. Despite having to pay more for the bed than I intended, it is still cheaper than moving into a new house to have bigger rooms. We are thrilled with our purchase and Ethan has been sleeping like a dream in his fancy new bed.

Have you ever had an online purchase go bad? Have you ever regretted buying something online rather than in person?

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

I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Thursday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster's blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can't wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Play It Again, Momma: Artisan Bread in 5

After our discussion on my old school baking day, I had lots of great ideas for how I could get around actually buying a bread machine. One of our readers, named Noreen, suggested that I check out a book called, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" which would help me get around the whole bread machine process and required no kneading.

As soon as I read her comment, I put a hold on it at our library and picked it up the next day. With a cup of iced coffee in hand, I read through the entire process and what I would need to complete it.

For copyright reasons, I will refrain from going into the recipes themselves, but I will explain the process of this method so that you can decide if this something you could/would do to make bread for your family. The master mix recipe I am using is actually located here so you could attempt the first recipe without even getting the book.

There are lots of different recipes in the book and then different ways of shaping the dough recipes. I attempted the master recipe which included just the basics- water, yeast, flour, and salt.

The difference between making this dough and the traditional dough is that you literally dump the ingredients in (no need to even proof the yeast) and use a wooden spoon to just mix everything together. The dough is very wet and easy to stir and you don't even have to break out the mixer.

You cover the dough and let it rise for two hours and then you stick it in the fridge for a minimum of three hours and up to fourteen days. Yes, that's right..fourteen days! According to the authors, the dough will taste better and better the longer the dough sits in there and you can even use some of your old dough as a starter for a new dough, much like the process of making a sour dough starter.
The first picture shows what this dough looks like when it is just incorporated- stringy and yucky looking. This second picture shows what the dough looks like after it rises. This master recipe was enough for four loaves so that is why it looks like there is so much. They have bigger recipes than this, but this is the amount of fridge space I could spare for the week.

I let this dough sit for two days before I made my first loaf. When you make your first loaf, you just "cloak the dough," (sprinkle the dough on top with some flour) and then cut off a grapefruit section of the dough for your first loaf. Without any kneading or any real handling of the dough, you tuck the corners of the dough underneath and put it on a pizza peel (I used my extra pizza stone) that has been sprinkled with a little cornmeal. Now you let it rise and preheat your oven for 450 degrees. They suggested twenty minutes, comments on Amazon suggested preheating the entire forty minutes that the dough is rising to help achieve the best crust.


It should look something like the picture above. It is relatively smooth on top, but the corners are all tucked underneath. After you have shaped it like this and let it rise, you can slice the top two or three times.

You now slide the loaf (very awkwardly if you have no pizza peel) and then you fill a boiler tray with one cup of hot water and put it in the oven to help steam the oven up to give you a nice crisp crust. Don't ever open the door and let it cook for thirty minutes.

When I took it out, it looked like this. Now remember, this is my first loaf so I am sure I will get better at it, but I am pretty impressed with how this first loaf looks. Next time I will score it a little more and I will probably make more than one loaf at a time. The exterior of this loaf is nice and golden, and it is solid and crusty on the outside. Perfection!

The interior was a bit gummy though so I may cook it for another ten minutes or raise the temperature. This will just require some tweaking on my part, but our family still thought it tasted pretty darn good.

Now that I have made this first loaf, I am so excited to try the other loaves in the book. The entire process took very little of my time and I had very little clean-up (my least favorite part of making bread) so it is a great solution for a busy mom who wants to make homemade bread, but doesn't have the tools or time to make bread from scratch.

Let's also talk about the cost savings too. In our town, our local market has artisan breads for sale that cost about $4 a loaf. I buy my ingredients in bulk at Sam's Club and I am estimating that this loaf of bread costs me about forty cents or less. What a savings and how elegant is this to bring to parties and when entertaining? You just can't beat it!

A big thank you to Noreen for the suggestion and I hope you can try this recipe and tell me what you think! I have a demonstration from the authors posted below- this might help explain the process further.

Have you experimented with no-knead artisan breads? Do you make your own bread throughout the week? I would love to hear your process for bread making!


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Apron Full of Giveaways 01.27.09

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways where you can share or enter to win all the great giveaways on the internet.

Today we have one giveaway closing out at 8PM today that I don't want you to miss! My good friend and local fashionista, Kathy Friend, is offering an online shape & fit consultation to help you get your wardrobe on track for the new year. She came over and did one with me and helped me choose the best clothes for my shape, wrote down measurements (which will be so great for online shopping), did a bra fitting, and offered advice on color choices. I feel like a whole new woman after all of that and I can't wait to share it with you. Visit the link below to enter to win!

We also have a new giveaway that we will be offering with Gerber this week. We will be offering one reader a Gerber diaper bag backpack filled with recipes and a teddy bear to share their commitment towards helping educate parents on good nutrition. Follow the link below to enter.


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 (Children's Movies)."


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

To enter, please follow the links below. (photo credit: mithrilsea)


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No Spend Month You Tube Introduction

First, I just wanted to thank everyone who has expressed interest in taking on our No Spend Challenge. On February 1st, I will be posting a link list where you can add your updates and share about your experience with not spending money. I think this is going to be so much fun and it will be great to have moral support as we venture into the habit of not spending.

We also have a MomAdvice No Spend Challenge Flickr group and you can join by making a commitment towards not spending for a set amount of time and taking a picture of it. It could be a day, a week, a month, or even a year. You can make that commitment to your family and share a picture of what you do each day when you are not spending money. Get your finances back on track and have fun documenting the creative ways you spend your time together.

Second, here is our first You Tube video about the No Spend Challenge. I think this truly captures how goofy our family is and how hyper my children are. Emily was napping when we filmed this so she missed being in the show this time, but I am sure she will be in the future episodes. I don't know if we are half as funny as we think we are, but we thought it was hilarious! I wanted to capture who was MOST enthusiastic and who was LEAST enthusiastic. It will be interesting to see how this all progresses!


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New Printable: Weekly Menu Planning Sheet


I am so excited to share with you that we have a new printable available for you to use on our site. It is a Weekly Menu Planner that you can use to jot down your meals for the week and even has some room for snacks, lunches, and breakfast. I hope it will help make menu planning easier.

If you have other ideas for printables that you would like to see on here, please let us know. My web designer (also known as my husband) might be able to squeeze in a few more here and there!

If you need more ideas for menu planning be sure to visit the resources list and check out the podcast for more discussions on simplifying our home management routines!

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Free & Fun Resources for Book Lovers

The coffee tray was assembled with all the necessary items for a good cup of coffee.

I gathered a stack of books from my bookshelves that I was not planning to read right now and books that I had read and truly loved.

Our fearless book club leader, Jessica, suggested a book swap for the month. I offered to host our book gathering and couldn't wait to see what everyone brought. We piled the books on the table, we shared what we thought about our respective stacks, and we sipped some coffee. Everyone left with a bag full of new books and not a dime was spent. It was like going to the library, but no one will fine me if I don't get it read in three weeks time. As a busy mom, this is exactly the type of book activity that I was game for.

If you don't have some friends to swap books with, here are a few book resources that I have gathered for the book lovers of the world:

GoodReads or Shelfari- I use GoodReads to keep track of all of the things that I am reading or plan to read. I am not good about remembering the books I have read or that I would like to read in the future. This site helps me keep track of my impressions of books and keep my bookshelves fully stocked with the books I am really interested in reading. I love to keep a pad of paper with me in my purse or make notes into my cell phone when I am at the bookstore so if I happen upon a book I am interested in, I can jot down a note so I can pick it up at my local library.

BookCrossing- This site offers a fun way for you to clear out your bookshelves. The idea is simple, but so fun. Just put a tag within your book to track it and release your book into the wild, which just means leave it somewhere where someone else can find it (coffee shops, doctor's offices, schools, etc.). When someone finds a book with a BookCrossing ID number in it, they can enter that code into the site and report where the book has moved to. It is a fun way to track where your books have traveled and see how far they can go.

Library Elf- This program helps you keep track of your library materials so you won't get socked with late fees. Elf is an Internet-based tool for keeping track of what's due, overdue and ready for pickup. Reminders are sent when the user wants it -- before items are due (up to seven days advance notice, weekly notice or everyday reminders). For my local friends, South Bend is not currently participating, but the Elkhart Library is. The basic membership to Library Elf is free.

Frugal Reader, Paperback Swap, & Bookmooch- Just three of many sites where you can exchange books for free. You simply sign up for a membership and list the books on your bookshelf. You can then browse the books from other members and make a request to receive a book. When you are done with the book, you can list it back on the site or keep the book. New members start out usually with credits to get started on exchanging books. The more you ship and share, the more credits you recive to get more books.

Bookins- This is another great site where you can not only swap books, but also movies. Their system will automatically arrange for shipments from you to one member and from a third member back to you, and so on. You never have to contact anyone, there is no bidding, and there are no hassles of dealing with different traders and personalities for each exchange. The shipping charges are always a flat $4.49 for the service. You can keep what you get or exchange it again when you are done.

SwapSimple- This is a site where you can list textbooks, books, games or DVDs. Begin by listing what you have to be available to others. Right when you list an item, they will figure out what it's current market value is, and award you 20% of it's value up front for your use. You get the remaining 80% when you send your item to another swapper. This means you can list items, and get items immediately!

Amazon's Free Kindle Downloads- For those that have moved towards the electronic books, Amazon has books available to download for free through February 28th. Be sure to snag these books and save!

Of course, the ultimate in free resources for book lovers is your local library. Be sure to check the Resources page on your library's website and see what tools you might be overlooking. My library card comes with free passes to local museums, online memberships to many research tools, even iPods and audio book downloads right to my iPod!

Do you use any of these resources for your reading? Feel free to share your own resources that you have discovered that could help your fellow book lover out!

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The MomAdvice No Spend Challenge

Our family is planning to take an adventure for the month of February into the world of no spending. We have sat down as a family and discussed the benefits of doing this and what we hope to get out of this challenge.

What can be gained though from a no-spend month can prove to be of great value for families. When you are not able to spend, you suddenly see how plentiful your life already is. The richness of what is around you and how little you truly do need to be happy quickly comes into focus.

As a consumer, we become conditioned to spend so I imagine that first initial week will prove challenging. I know the rewards are great though for families who can overcome that hump and break the cycle of spending. A no-spend month does come with challenges, but it also comes with the gratification of knowing that you have let your bank account grow!

When we say no spending, we mean no spending outside of our normal daily living expenses. Some things will still need to be purchased in order to keep the lights lit, food on our table, and diapers on our baby. This is what we have set aside for the month:

Clark Family February Spending Plan:

$250 for the month for groceries (including diapers)
Normal utility payments
Gas for cars

We will be doing our best to not spend on anything else for the month and share our experience with you.

I really wanted to come up with a creative way that people could share about their No Spend Challenge that would be fun and also insightful into what people do when they aren't out spending money. My brilliant idea was to document it by creating a Flickr group where people could pick up a No Spend Challenge any day, week, month, or year that they would like to document their adventure.

To join the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge group, you simply need to make a commitment towards not spending for a set amount of time. It could be a day, a week, a month, or even a year. Make that commitment to your family and share a picture of what you do each day when you are not spending money. Get your finances back on track and have fun documenting the creative ways you spend your time together.

Would you like to take a no-spend adventure with me? Just think of all of the free time you will have if you are not out shopping and spending for a month.

Here are a few ideas for how you could spend all of that free time!

  • Get your finances back on track by trying out a free program like Mint.com and get in better touch with your past spending.
  • Dust off those old board games and spend an evening playing them together.
  • Watch free movies on Hulu.com or take out the DVD collection and watch your favorite movies again. If you are really craving a new release, sign up on Redbox.com to get a free movie code every Monday and use that to get your movie fix for the month.
  • Break out that really old game system and relive those games again with your kids.
  • Dig through your old cookbooks and try out recipes using some of the ingredients in your pantry.
  • Play a game of Iron Chef with your spouse and let your children be the judge of the best dish by having your very own cooking contest. You might be surprised that even dad’s toasted Pop-Tart might be the judge’s favorite in this contest.
  • Actually use the craft supplies that you have bought and start tackling some of your crafty ideas for the holidays.
  • Find the floor in your laundry room.
  • Look for free community activities that you could do as a family.
  • Volunteer or find things in your home that you could donate to those less fortunate.
  • Visit the library and actually read the books.
  • Clip coupons and plan your grocery shopping in advance for next month.
  • Take a wonderful and delicious nap.
  • Learn a new skill set or check out books on self-improvement to help make your life better or easier.
  • Get free museum passes from the library or check the local museum’s websites for information on their free admittance days. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!
  • Have a potluck-style swap night with your friends and exchange three of your things for three of theirs.
  • Read that pile of magazines or newspapers that never gets read.
  • Exercise.
  • Listen to free music on Last.fm and make a fun mix of songs you listened to when you were dating your spouse.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Play on the floor with your children.
  • Organize your closet and take inventory of your wardrobe.
  • Put batteries in the children’s toys to make them “new” again.
  • Tackle a home improvement project that you bought supplies for, but still haven’t finished.
However you decide to spend your no-spend day, weekend, week, month, or year, I hope that it brings into focus how great it can truly be to not spend and that it gives you the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with those around you.

The group will always be open so if February is not a month you can commit to, feel free to commit at any time.

Next week (starting on 1/29), we will be sharing on The MotherLoot an adventure that we got to take with Mercedes. The company is coming out with a more budget-friendly car and we will be giving away $50 Visa Gift Cards for each day that the campaign will run. In total, $250 of gift cards will be given away and I hope I can give these to a no-spend participant to give you a night out on us! I will be sure to let you guys know when these posts start running so you can enter to win!

Would you like to join a no-spend challenge with me? How long will you be committing to? (Feel free to grab our banner and share about your adventure on your own blogs!)

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Baked Tiliapia With Lots of Spice

I have wanted to try some new tilapia recipes for a long time now, but I have to admit that I was afraid to waste a package of it and have it not turn out. My Herb Baked Tilapia is served almost weekly in our house and is loved by the whole family. Why mess with a good thing, right?

Well, I saw this recipe and just had to try it. It is so low in fat (one tablespoon of olive oil for four pieces of fish total), was made with everything in my spice cabinet, and it was a baked fish so I wouldn't have to dirty up a skillet or my oven to make it. I thought it would be worth a try, just to see if we could switch up our old standby.

This fish was excellent. The balance of spices in this is perfect, the crust tasted almost fried because it crisped up so well, and the fish was perfectly flaky. Our whole family truly loved it and I think I will be making this again and again. It would make an excellent fish sandwich so I think I will be trying that next time, just to keep the dish fresh and new.

Thank goodness I stepped out of the comfort zone so I could add this meal to our meal rotation!

Baked Tilapia With Lots of Spice
(Recipe from Recipezaar)

1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon basil
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 (4 ounce) tilapia fillets
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl combine the spices from the salt through the Italian seasoning and set it aside. In a shallow container mix the bread crumbs, dried parsley, and green onions. Measure 4 tsp of the spice mix and sprinkle that all over the 4 fish fillets. Add the remaining spice mix to the bread crumbs, mixing well. Add the olive oil to the bread crumb mix, blending it in with your hands. Dredge the fish in the breadcrumbs, coating well. Shake off any excess breadcrumbs. Place the fish on a baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn over and bake for 4 minutes. Turn over again and bake until flaky, about 4 more minutes. Serve immediately.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Freebie Friday: January 23, 2009

Thanks so much to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for helping us with our freebie list today! Be sure to visit Heather's hot coupon list before you hit the grocery store this week and visit Heather's site all week long for all the latest freebies! Her site is an invaluable resource to moms who are trying to stay on their budget!

I have some new articles up this week on the Right@Home website that I think you will really enjoy. I really enjoyed this guest spot opportunity and I hope you can check it out!

We would also like to thank FIRE Finance for featuring us in their Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs. We came up as #7 in their list and are so thankful to our readers for visiting the site and sharing it with your friends and family. Please visit this list and add these great people to your regular reading to keep your finances on track!

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone!

Health & Beauty

Crest Whitestrips Advanced Seal (Walmart)
Kirkland Diapers (Costco)
Kotex Lightdays (Costco)

Food

Quaker True Delights
Chocolate Turtle Chex Mix (sign-up for Betty Crocker emails)
Total Cranberry Crunch Cereal
Grill Power: A Girl's Guide to Grilling


Entertainment

Lowe's Racing Track Record Magazine
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (audio download)
Cosmopolitan Magazine (I applied to this magazine and then was able to check the boxes for Blender & Maxim Magazine too at the end of the survey)
Blender Magazine
Maxim Magazine


Home & Garden

TurboTax (click the Free Edition)
TaxACT

Pets

Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food
Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food (Walmart)

Upcoming Freebie Events:


Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events.

JANUARY
24 - Change a Pet's Life - Free Adoption

FEBRUARY
7 - The Home Depot Kids Workshop - Make a trinket box with heart
14 - Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic - Make a jewelry box
24 - IHOP National Pancake Day 7am-10pm
28 - Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic - Make a 48 race car

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Simplifying Our Time In the Kitchen Resource List



Thank you so much to everyone who was able to catch the show live and chatted with me while I was on the air. Anyone who listened has to agree that Robin Miller was full of such great information for moms. It was really an incredible interview and I hope you can take a half hour to listen to what she shared with us!

As promised, here is today's resource links and a couple of recipes from Robin Miller!

Getting to Know Your Freezer- Some inspiration and ideas for ways to stock your freezer!

Starbucks Peppermint Mochas- This is my favorite recipe to share and just one reason to stock those ice cubes in your freezer.

Schedule a Day In Your Kitchen- Recipes for items you can make ahead of time on a scheduled day in your kitchen. This is a great way to save cash and eliminate the convenience foods in your diet.

Bulk It Up- Ideas for maximizing that wholesale club membership to the fullest, if you plan to cook in bulk.

Feed the Freezer Cooking Guide

Sneak Up on Freezer Cooking

Freezer FAQ

30 Day Gourmet

Recipezaar's Freezer Recipes

Books to Check Out:

Robin to the Rescue

Quick Fix Meals

Dream Dinners Cookbook

Frozen Assets

Super Suppers

Don't Panic- Dinners in the Freezer



Beef Stroganoff

Recipe Courtesy of Robin Miller and Tyson Foods

Recipe serves 4
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes
Time Savings: 30 minutes compared to traditional recipe

Ingredients

8 ounces wide egg-free egg noodles
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups sliced fresh cremini or white button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
1 ½ cups reduced-sodium beef broth
2 packets (6 ounces each) Tyson® Fully Cooked Seasoned Steak Strips
1 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)


1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Add thyme (if using) and stir to coat.
4. Add beef broth and steak strips and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 more minutes.
5. Stir in cooked egg noodles, sour cream and Dijon mustard. Mix well.
6. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and black pepper. If desired, top with fresh chives just before serving.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Recipe Courtesy of Robin Miller and Tyson Foods

Recipe serves 4
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Time Savings: 30 minutes compared to traditional recipe

Ingredients

1 pound whole wheat pasta
2 packets (6 ounces each) Tyson® Fully Cooked Grilled Chicken Breast Strips
¾ cup prepared no-salt added tomato sauce (pasta sauce or pizza sauce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, regular or part-skim
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
Pinch salt and ground black pepper

1. Cook whole wheat pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Arrange chicken breast strips in the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over the chicken and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the tomato sauce.
4. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Mix well and sprinkle the mixture over the mozzarella cheese.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top of the casserole is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
6. Divide whole wheat pasta among four individual bowls, spoon casserole mixture over the top and serve.

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Notebook Experiments: Can an Indoor Snow Day Keep the Kids Busy?

Experiment: Can I entertain my kids with a pile of snow?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 01.15.09

Materials Needed: Please see The Homespun Heart for the full instructions.

Results: It has been brutally cold here with blowing snows and blizzards and the usual Midwest winter fun so it makes playing outside in the snow difficult. We have also been battling bronchitis and the winter bugs that make their way from school to our home so going outside hasn't been in the cards lately.

Luckily, I saw Monica's brilliant idea for having an indoor snow adventure and thought that would be just the ticket for the kids. I found a small tote in the basement, filled it up with snow, found some random spoons from the kitchen, and gave them the Little People to make snow angels. I put some jazz music on, and got some work done while they played.

I will admit, the quiet was quite lovely. And then the giggling. And then the chatter. And it pulled me away from my work.

And I plopped on the floor and enjoyed their sweet little selves for an hour.


And Emily wrapped her icy cold hand over mine and said, "Mommy, you are my best friend." And I admit it, I teared up.

But by dinnertime I was told, "Mommy, you are not my best friend." It didn't phase me.

I just held that moment in my heart because for that one hour, we held hands over the snow and pledged our friendship for that moment.


Conclusion: Playing in snow INSIDE is our new favorite winter activity and I look forward to doing it again...and just maybe I will be back on the friend list! I encourage you to put this on your activity list this week. Thanks to Monica, at The Homespun Heart, for the brilliant idea!

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

I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Thursday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster's blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can't wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

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Amy's Notebook 01.22.09


I am loving these photography tips for taking great photos of your kids (@ Make & Takes)

I may have to start trying to cook artisan bread again (@ house on hill road)

This chicken & wild rice soup looks delicious (@ Home Ec 101)

I am loving this little indoor swing and I love these loft beds for space saving (@ Ohdeedoh)

I really love this office tour and the organization solutions in this space (@ {A})

These knitted Mary Jane slippers are adorable (@ sew nancy)

These oatmeal streusel cookies look so delicious (@ Baking Bites)

I want to try this any way coffee cake for my next get together (@ Joy the Baker)

This light chicken parmesan recipe looks yummy (@ The Kitchn)

My kids would think I was the coolest mom in the world if I made them this rainbow cake (@ Omnomicon)

These spice jar labels are so cute (@ Craft Leftovers)

This knitted owl sweater is simply amazing (@ needled)

I love these ideas for reinventing the soup can (@ the long thread)

This is such a cute idea- doing family interviews with each other (@ Small Notebook)

I also love these ideas for preserving family memories (@ Scribbit)

These candy cane hearts would be a great way to use up candy canes leftover from Christmas (@ Skip to My Lou)

This flat bread and hummus look like a yummy treat (@ Your Homebased Mom)

I want to try this copycat recipe for Starbucks Coffee Cake (@ Divine Domesticity)

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MomAdvice Simplified: Simplifying Our Time in the Kitchen

I am very excited to have a very special guest on MomAdvice Simplifed this week. Food Network star, Robin Miller, from Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller is joining me today to share her tips for simplifying our time in the kitchen.

I am so incredibly excited about this interview because I am such a big fan of Robin Miller and her time-saving strategies for making healthy meals without cooking for hours and hours. Robin promotes healthy eating and I so admire what she has done with her background in nutrition. During this interview, Robin is going to share with us some ideas for stocking our freezer, some ideas for easy side dishes that aren't boring, and ideas for ingredients that you can make ahead so you can spend more time with your children, and less time cooking.

Robin Miller has 18 years of experience as a food writer and nutritionist and is the author of the best-selling cookbook “Quick Fix Meals.” Her popular show, Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, currently airs on Food Network, and her prime time show, Robin to the Rescue premiered on Food Network in March 2007.

Robin’s recipes and nutrition features can be seen regularly in a variety of magazines, including Clean Eating, Experience Life, Guideposts, Cooking Light, Health, Fit Pregnancy, and Toddler. Robin is also the author of eight books including her latest, Robin to the Rescue.

Robin has been a guest on hundreds of local and national television and radio programs and has hosted home videos (for Jane Fonda), cable television vignettes (for Food Network and a variety of food companies) and spoken at media events in various markets nationwide.

She regularly appears on local, network and cable television, with past appearances including The Early Show (CBS), Regis & Kelly, The View, The Today Show (NBC), Good Morning America(ABC), CNN, ABC Eyewitness News and CBS Evening News.

As a nutrition expert, chef and mother of two, Robin has teamed up with Tyson Foods to give busy families strategies and tips using Tyson® Fully Cooked Chicken and Steak Strips to create faster, lighter and budget-friendly versions of favorite meals.

Just as a reminder, you can listen to the show live every Thursday at 2PM EST or you can listen later right here on my the left sidebar!

I hope you will join me and feel free to chat with me in the chat room or you can even phone in your questions. I think this is going to be an invaluable episode for moms and I am really excited about the information that we are going to share in this half hour.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Play It Again, Momma: Fruity Play Dough



Each day we have been enjoying something off of Ethan's summertime list. One of the things that he wanted to do was to make play dough so I found a really great recipe that I thought would work perfectly and keep our kitchen nice and cool. This recipe requires no cooking, which is a bonus on a hot summer day, and uses Kool-Aid mixes to make your colors.

I made a batch in each of the kid's favorite colors and was suprised how quickly and easily this dough came together. In about five minutes, the dough was ready to go for little hands to enjoy.

Boy, did they enjoy this! I put out my biscuit cutter, plastic forks and knives, cookie cutters, and a giant rolling pin- all items courtesy of my kitchen! The kids played in this for over an hour and then I stored the batches in plastic containers.

This dough stays nice and soft and the smell is delicious... which is very confusing for a two year-old. Emily found out the hard way that it didn't taste as good as it smelled, but it only took one taste to find that out.

Fruity Play Dough (courtesy of Recipezaar.com)

1 cup flour
1 package Kool-AidKool-Aid (any flavor)
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup boiling water (the original recipe called for one cup of boiling water, but I found it made the dough too loose- aim for 3/4 cup and add more if needed)

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl then oil, then pour boiling water in and mix thoroughly. Wrap in cellophane or air tight container and store in fridge. The play dough should last a few months.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope

We eat our lunch together, as we always do. Emily makes the same exact request as she always does- a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a few chips, applesauce, and lemonade. She dips her fingers in the applesauce, just as she does every single day, and is eating it off her fingers. I try to guide her to use the spoon, just as I always do, and settle in next to her.

The scenery is different today though. We are watching the inauguration of our new President and she watches in awe of the fanfare, the tiny people waving their American flags, and wiggles in time to the music. She even attempts to hum along to the music and, for some strange reason, my independent little girl asks if I will hold her as we watch.

And I watch, with tears streaming down my face, as our President makes his speech. I feel hope in my heart for our country. This isn't a political stance for me, but a hope that the changing of the guards will bring new ideas and new opportunities for our country. A hope that we can turn this economy around for our family, our friends, those we don't even know. That life could be better. The possibility for what the future could hold. An undeniable hope.

Yes, some things remain the same and some things, they are changing.

Did you watch the inauguration with your children or are you discussing this historic day with them? Any family nights planned? I would love to hear what you are doing today and what you are talking about with your kids!

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An Apron Full of Giveaways 01.20.09

Thank you for giving me the chance to take a week off from contests last week. These require a lot of administrative work so I was able to get everything caught up and back on track.

This week I have such a fun giveaway that I know you will want to enter. My good friend and local fashionista, Kathy Friend, is offering an online shape & fit consultation to help you get your wardrobe on track for the new year. She came over yesterday and did one with me and helped me choose the best clothes for my shape, wrote down measurements (which will be so great for online shopping), did a bra fitting, and offered advice on color choices. I feel like a whole new woman after all of that and I can't wait to share it with you. Visit the link below to enter to win!


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 (Children's Movies)."


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

To enter, please follow the links below. (photo credit: Jessica Cahoon)

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Big Girl Room on a Budget


We are still getting Emily settled into her big girl room, but I thought I would share some of the ideas we have had so far for her new space.

First, Ethan's bed was moved into Emily's room and Ethan is getting a loft-style bed for his room with a desk underneath to make use of his smaller space. We had a bed fiasco, better left for another post, and he is now sleeping on the trundle part of this bed until his bed comes in.

We swung the daybed around so that the back of it becomes the side to keep her more secure. It is great because it still has the security of the crib, but has more space for her to sleep in. She has been in it for a couple of weeks now and hasn't attempted trying to get out of bed by herself yet.

The room was already painted a cheery yellow and I already had the curtains which were a set of eyelet lace curtains from the Shabby Chic line at Target. The comforter has been in a chest in our basement since we first got married. This bed was originally our guest bed and I used this comforter for it. It was a tad too girly for Ethan so we put it away, in hopes we would be adding a little girl to our family someday. It was a steal for $19.99 from TJ Maxx and is a Tommy Hilfiger comforter. It is reversible with another pretty flowered design on the alternate side. The addition of this "Sweet Dreams" pillow was bought with some of her Christmas money from the grandparents from Target (also from Shabby Chic).


The art in her room is courtesy of her big brother. These were two pictures that Ethan made at school and donated for his sister's room. I found these frames at the dollar store so these were the perfect budget-friendly decor for her new room.

We made a banner with her name on it for one of the walls. The color didn't turn out very good in this picture, but it is a pale pink with dark pink polka dots. The scrapbook paper and ribbon came from my craft supplies and I had my husband pick a pretty font for it. I used my circle punch to punch out these circles, but you could also trace a drinking glass to make them all uniform in size.

We bought new rugs for each of the kid's rooms. These are bamboo rugs that we purchased from Walmart and I absolutely love them. I have a fondness for bamboo rugs because they wipe off easily and are easy to vacuum or broom sweep. Underneath the bed is a basket of toys and a basket of diapers. We are hoping one of these baskets will be no longer needed...can you guess which one?

This set of table and chairs relocated from our playroom downstairs. Ethan was getting too big to sit in these so we put it in her room along with a basket of books for her to read.

This step stool holds an extra set of pink sheets for her bed. This stool used to be her brothers and it is one of my favorite little storage solutions for keeping a spare set of sheets.

This little lamp was also bought at Target and I used her Christmas money from her grandparents to buy it. I really wanted to bring the pink into the room and this was a cute little addition to her big girl space. You could implement the same idea with a basic white shade and a little grosgrain ribbon and some glue.


The perfect room for our sweet little princess!

What budget-friendly ideas are you proud of in your kid's rooms?

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Redbox Code 01.19.09

Today's Redbox code is K6W3G4. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

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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Emily's Famous Sloppy Joes

This famous recipe wouldn't be from my Emily, but from another Emily who submitted her recipe to the AllRecipes Dinner Tonight cookbook. I figured if it was created by an Emily, it had to be good!

I really love my recipe for Sloppy Joes, but I am always looking to try new things. I really liked that this recipe used tomato paste instead of ketchup and was intrigued by the ingredient and spice combination.

I gave it some extra time to simmer while the hamburger buns cooled off, and the flavors were absolutely perfect. I loved everything about this recipe and really loved that it was made out of ingredients that were already in the pantry.

Emily's Famous Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped (omitted for our picky eaters)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder (I decreased this to 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the ground beef for five minutes. Add the onion and red bell pepper; saute for five more minutes or until onion is tender and beef is browned. Drin. Mix in tomato paste and water, stirring until paste is dissolved. Stir in garlic, chili powder, parika, cumin, vinegar, brown sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Continue to heat for five to ten minutes or until mixture is thick. Yield: 8 servings.

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Fast & Delicious Appetizer: Spinach Balls


This was my appetizer dish for a New Year's Eve bash that my husband & I attended. My husband absolutely hates spinach so I wasn't sure how well these would go over. If you can believe it, he really loved them so even if you aren't a spinach lover these are definitely worth a try. The chicken flavored stuffing throws you off from the spinach and because the spinach is fully cooked, the texture of these is so great.

I love any appetizer that you can pop into your mouth gracefully. The spinach between the teeth though...well, you may still have that problem. I am planning to make these often for future nights of board game fun because they are portable and come together in a flash. To save yourself from cooking on the day of an event, make these ahead and keep them in the freezer.

Spinach Balls

2- 10 oz packages frozen spinach
1 package chicken-flavored stuffing mix
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup butter, melted
Salt & pepper to taste

Do-Ahead: Cook spinach according to instructions, drain in a sieve, use back of a wooden spoon to press the spinach against the sieve to get as much moisture as possible out In a bowl combine the spinach, stuffing mix,cheese, eggs, butter, salt& pepper Mix thoroughly& roll into small balls 3/4 to 1" size. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze.

Event Day: To serve place frozen balls on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned If you are doing them fresh or thawed only bake for 7-10 minutes. Serve hot.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Today I Am 31

I can make big things happen.

In the end, this is all that matters.

My desire to learn will never end.


My capacity to love my children encompasses every fiber of my body and embeds itself deeper every year.

Some moments in my life are far grander than I dreamed possible.

I can survive that first day of kindergarten, even if I cried like a baby for two days straight.

Each year that passes I will look more like my mother.


I have discovered the beauty in things I did not appreciate.

No matter how big I get, I will always be daddy's little girl.


I have found a life of simplicity is the best kind of life to lead.


I will be rewarded for my hard work.

I am finding that the more work I put into it, the more my house becomes my very own dream home.

If I have only one word to describe this year of life for me it would be content. I am finally content with who I am and where I am going in life. I am content with what I have and the possibility of what might be attained.

It has been a wonderful year and I thank you for sharing it with me.

xoxoxo,
Amy

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Freebie Friday: January 16, 2009

It is another wonderful week for freebies thanks to our great relationship with Heather at Freebies 4 Mom. Be sure to check her list for the ten hottest coupons and be sure to call your local Target to see if they are participating in the additional 30% off on clothing markdowns. Visit Heather's site all week long for the best of the best in the freebie world!

We are already setting our DVR for the free HBO preview weekend and have lined up lots of free movies to watch on these snowy days here in the Midwest. The magazines have been ordered for me and are on their way to keep me entertained and I am looking forward to browsing the free music downloads list! You gotta love Freebie Friday!

Health & Beauty


Dove Shine Therapy
Poise (Walmart)

Food

$10 Coupon Book by mail from EatBetter America
Sargento Finishers House Party

Entertainment

Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan (free eBook of Book 1 thru Feb. 15)
Amazon.com 600+ Free Music Downloads
True North Oscars House Party
Field & Stream Magazine (offered by AdPerk)
Elle Magazine (one year subscription)
Maxim Magazine (one year subscription)
Kiwi Magazine

Home & Garden

Gerber Stainless Steel Spoon & $3 Coupon (create a pledge)
Green Mountain Coffee and Keurig House Party

Pets

Breath-A-Licious Green Bone

Upcoming Freebie Events:

Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events.

JANUARY
thru 18 - Free HBO & Cinemax on DirecTV
16-18 - Refund Cents Free Trial Weekend (details at Northern Cheapskate)
24 - Change a Pet's Life - Free Adoption

FEBRUARY
7 - The Home Depot Kids Workshop - Make a trinket box with heart
14 - Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic - Make a jewelry box
24 - IHOP National Pancake Day 7am-10pm
28 - Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic - Make a 48 race car

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

MomAdvice Simplified Resource List

I hope you will get a chance to listen to today's show for some menu planning inspiration!


I did want to share our resource list for this episode:

Dine & Dish- Kristen joined us this hour to share some great ways her family has been simplifying their dinner hour and her new approach towards menu planning. She is a valuable resource for moms and I am very thankful to have had her on the show.

Simple & Delicious Magazine- Kristen recommended this magazine subscription as a great resource for busy moms in helping add some sparkle back to our dinner hours.

Food Photography for Bloggers- Kristen pointed towards this article as a great resource for bloggers who are beginning the venture into food photography.(@ VeganYumYum)

How Do You Do Your Menu Plans?- In this entry, I discuss some fun & creative approaches towards menu planning. In my goal to simplify this year, I am now doing two week menu plans instead of one month. It has made my life a lot easier and now I can fit my daughter in the cart AND my groceries at the same time.

One Month of Slow Cooking- We discussed how hard it can be to get dinner on the table when you have small children, and I shared that my solution when we brought our new baby girl home was to try planning a month with my slow cooker. This article contains the recipes that I used to simplify my dinner hour with a new baby.

Menu Plan Mondays- I'm An Organizing Junkie offers a wonderful round-up for moms where you can post and share your family's menu plans. This has inspired me many times and is a great spot to visit when you are lacking that inspiration! Laura will also be joining us in just a couple of short weeks to share how I can simplify the cluttered mess I am currently living in. I can't wait for that discussion.

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MomAdvice Simplified: Simplifying the Dinner Hour


On MomAdvice Simplifed, my weekly podcast, we will be discussing how we can simplify the dinner hour. You can listen to the show live every Thursday at 2PM EST or you can listen later right here on my the left sidebar.

Getting a healthy dinner on the table can be a real challenge for moms. What are some things that you can do ahead to get dinner on the table quicker? How can you get out of the rut of preparing the same dishes every week? This week we will be speaking with Kristen Doyle, of Dine & Dish, on some ways we can make our dinner hour easier and how to simplify the planning process for busy moms.

Kristen is a busy mom of three and has another baby on the way! Besides her family, she is passionate about cooking, entertaining, photography, reading, and shopping. I knew she would be the perfect guest for the show and I can't wait to share our interview with you!

Tune in for this interview and you can chat with me live and ask any questions or share your own tips for menu planning!

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Notebook Experiments: Can I Make Something Out of Cereal No One Likes?


Experiment: Can I make something out of the cereal no one likes?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 01.15.09

Materials Needed: Please see The Farm Chicks for the full instructions. I followed the instructions exactly.

Results: Have you ever stockpiled something and it seemed like a good idea at the time, but then you realized it was actually a waste of money? I thought for sure that my children and husband would love Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, but no one was a fan and I have four boxes of cereal that have been sitting in our pantry, wasting valuable cupboard space.

It is rare that I run across two recipes in a row on the same exact site that I feel like I must try, but what can I say except that The Farm Chicks rock? I saw this recipe and in the ingredient list it said you could use "any kind of cereal" to make their Peanut Butter Energy Bars. I ran downstairs and put a dusty box of cereal to good use and the results were nothing less than spectacular.

I really love my chewy granola bar recipe, but these came together much quicker because they didn't require as many ingredients or any baking time. You literally stir honey, sugar, and peanut butter on the stove until it has dissolved and mix with the cereal. Pat it into a baking dish and slide it into your refrigerator and that is it. No baking, no mixer, no softening of butter- just good ol' no-bake bars.

I think these would be great with any combination of cereal, chocolate chips, dried fruits, or nuts. We stuck with some of that Honey Bunches of Oat and the master list of ingredients in the recipe.

The family gobbled them up and all agreed that they were perfection. It is a stick-to-your ribs kind of bar so it doesn't leave you wanting more than just one. I don't know if it gave me any energy, but it gave me a few moments of peace while everyone was stuffing their face with their yummy goodness.

Conclusion: I would HIGHLY recommend this recipe as a great snack for busy families. It is a sweet surprise to see a tin of these sitting in my refrigerator ready to be nibbled on. It is also a great way to reduce a cluttered pantry. Much thanks again to the fabulous Farm Chicks. These ladies are also coming out with a cookbook in April of 2009, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of it!

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

I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Thursday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster's blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can't wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

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Amy's Notebook 01.15.09

I love this idea for making thank you notes (@ dooleh-vay)

This cupcake garland is such a sweet little idea (@ petunia)

I am loving these little party hats (@ hot diggity blog)

This spaghetti & meatballs recipe sounds delicious (@ shelterrific)

I am going to have to try some of these recipes for homemade cleaners (@ Jolly Mom)

This post-it calendar is really cute and I adore these handmade headbands (@ Design Mom)

These oatmeal blueberry applesauce muffins look like they would hit the spot (@ Joy the Baker)

We are going to have an inside snow adventure at our house (@ the homespun heart)

This coffee cup cozy is such a great little gift (@ house on hill road)

This craft desk makeover really rocks (@ design sponge)

These handmade gifts are beautiful (@ Soule Mama)

I like this tutorial for copyrighting your photos (@ Chocolate on My Cranium)

These little cupcake flower arrangements are adorable (@ inspired ideas)

I want to try this pattern for this knitted chevron scarf (@ do stuff)

I am going to make these peanut butter energy bars (@ The Farm Chicks)

This peanut butter swirl banana bread looks like an interesting combination (@ Baking Bites)

I am loving these tips for a dinner party that is under $100 (@ the adventures of penny plastic)

I am going to have to try some of these recipes for overnight yeast waffles (@ The Kitchn)

This is a great little pattern for a child's apron (@ Sew Liberated)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Locks of Love

Visit Locks of Love to learn how you can make a donation!



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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An Apron Full of Giveaways: 01.13.09


Welcome to our apron full of giveaways. This week we have two contests that are ending at 8PM EST that I don't think you will want to miss. We are giving away a Little Pim DVD collection to help your little ones learn language skills and we are also giving away a Dining on a Dime Cookbook that would be an invaluable addition to your cookbook collection.

I am taking a week off this week from giveaways to get caught up on some of the past giveaways. We will be back in full swing with new ones for next week!

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 (Children's Movies)."

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

To enter, please follow the links below. (photo credit: i have to say)

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All Knitted Up: Dulce Neck Cozy



My mother-in-law is a fabulous knitter so it can be a little nerve-wracking to knit something for a really great knitter. She had mentioned to me one day though, that she would love to have a cowl in a really soft yarn. I ran right out and got the supplies to make this beautiful pattern in a cherry red bamboo yarn. The yarn was so incredibly soft that it felt like a warm blanket and I ended up getting two balls of this so I could make one for her and one for myself.

I thought this would make a fabulous birthday gift for her and made this and a big birthday dinner to celebrate her.


Here is the birthday girl with her new neck cozy! She says the girls at work really loved her fancy new neck cozy and how great it was when she was out in the cold on recess duty with the children.

I am planning to take this with me on my next trip since it is a perfectly portable and easy project. I think it will go perfectly with my furry black coat this season.

Details on Pattern: This pattern is no longer available online, but is available for download on Ravelry. It is called the Dulce Neck Cozy.

I completed the Dulce #2 (Browns) Pattern. This took all 148 yards, but I knitted loosely so I would not have to make the buttonhole. I could have probably used another twenty yards to give it a little extra length, but was under a bit of a time crunch. I opted for one button instead of two and chose a black wooden button to bring the cowl together.

This would be a great patten to take on a trip because it has only one row of real pattern and alternates only between two rows one of purling and one of pattern. It has a herringbone type of look to it and looks far more complicated than it is.

Great project for instant gratification! Wonderful pattern for a newbie knitter in understanding yarn overs.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Redbox Code 01.12.09

Today's Redbox code is H48MX2. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

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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Menu Planning Monday: 01.12.09

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


1. Deli Sandwiches With Chips (shopping day)

2. Herb Baked Tilapia, Rice, & Corn

3. Sticky Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, & Peas

4. Baked Ziti, Holiday Punch, Moist Chocolate Cupcakes With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting & Garlic Bread

5. Rosemary Chicken, Cheesy Orzo Pasta, & Baby Peas

6. Chicken BBQ Sandwiches, Tortilla Chips, & Baby Carrots

7. Sloppy Joes (new recipe coming soon) on Homemade Hamburger Buns With Baked Potato Wedges

8. Ranch Pork Chops With Rice & Corn

9. Braised Balsamic Chicken With Rice & Green Beans

10. French Bread Pizzas

11. Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks, Mashed Potatoes, & Baby Carrots

12. Chicken Tacos with Tortilla Chips

13. Chicken Parmesan Over Spaghetti

14. Old-Fashioned Spaghetti & Meatballs (made a double batch)

15. Meatball Subs on Homemade Buns & Oven Fries

Please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for a whole slew of menu planning ideas and recipes!

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Quick Weeknight Dinner: Braised Balsamic Chicken

Braised Balsamic Chicken (Courtesy Of: AllRecipes Dinner Tonight Cookbook)

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced (I omitted this)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I used petite diced)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Season chicken breasts with ground black pepper and garlic salt. heat olive oil in a medium skillet and brown the onion and seasoned chicken breasts. Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken and add basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Simmer until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, approximately fifteen minutes. Serve over a bed of rice or spaghetti.

This would be delicious served up with a side of green beans and a big sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. The dinner comes together in about twenty minutes which makes it a great dish to entertain with or to throw together on a weeknight. Enjoy!

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Freebie Friday: January 9, 2009

Welcome to Freebie Friday! A big thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for partnering with us each week. Heather has a great article this week on baby feeding resources that is a must read for any new/expecting mom! Heather also shares a list of tips for how to be the best freebie finder you can be. Who couldn't use sme great advice like that? Thanks, Heather!

Health & Beauty

Aveda Color Conserve (if in your area)

Food
Cream of Wheat Cereal
Soyjoy Bar (Walmart)
Quaker Rice Cakes
Total Cranberry Crunch Cereal
Barbara's Bakery Organic Cereal
South Beach Living Foods House Party

Entertainment
Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan (free eBook download from Oprah)
Marie Claire Digital Magazine
American Photo Magazine
Amazon's Free Book Downloads (for Kindle users)

Home & Garden
Beech-Nut Growth Chart (enter sweeps)
Ziploc Back to Basics Gift Pack

Upcoming Freebie Events:


JANUARY
10 - Lowe's Kids build a Time Capsule 10 - 11am
10- Sephora 10 Free Samples Event 12-6pm
14 - Suavenomics - request your free bottle of Suave
15 - Baskin Robbins: show any gym membership for free scoop of BRight Choices flavors
24 - Change a Pet's Life - Free Adoption

FEBRUARY
24 - IHOP National Pancake Day 7am-10pm


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

Don't forget to visit the Apron Full of Giveaways and enter all the latest contests here and all over the web! This round-up is posted every Tuesday so check back next week for a fresh new list!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

MomAdvice Simplified: Simplifying the To-Do List

Wow, that half hour went by fast and I just want to thank everyone who listened live and chatted with me while I did my first podcast. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You made my day and I feel very proud to have accomplished this first one! I hope that we provided some great information for you and that these podcasts will help to make your day easier.

If you weren't able to listen live, scroll down and you can click on the player on the left-hand sidebar of the site. These episodes will update as new ones become available. To visit my show page, just click on over to BlogTalkRadio to see what we will have in store for the upcoming month.

Here are some of the resources that we highlighted in our first episode:


Full Out & Fearless- Coach Charrise joined us for our first podcast and offers a valuable blog and website where you can get tapped into accomplishing goals that you have always feared. Many thanks to her for joining us on our first episode and sharing how moms can work through those to-dos!

Simplify the To Do List- Have you ever looked at your to-do list and just felt completely and utterly overwhelmed before you even start? My day was often looking like that and rarely did I actually ever complete all of the things off of the list. I would end my day defeated before the next day had ever begun. While the high of checking things off the list was there, the items left unchecked left me feeling less euphoric about what was actually accomplished... continue reading this entry.

remember the milk- This site is great for our list-writing mommas. You can make as many lists as you like and no one will tell you to put your notepads away. Into tagging items on your blog? Use the task cloud to easily see what you have to do. Want to store notes along with your tasks? You can do that too. Saving gas is always a priority too and you can use the map feature to see where your tasks are located in the real world. See what's nearby or on your way, and plan the best way to get things done.

Ta-da Lists- Another great site for the list-writing mommas because that is virtually all this program is. It is simple, it takes about ten seconds to sign up for an account and you can make as many lists as you like. You could also be like, "Ta-da!" and have this open on your computer with a giant list of things you need your spouse to do... you know, if you were that kind of spouse!

Simple Mom- I highlighted Tsh as a great example of a mom who uses a wonderful tool for time management. Here is her entry on her daily docket and the goals she creates for her day.

What's Up Next Week?

Getting a healthy dinner on the table can be a real challenge for moms. What are some things that you can do ahead to get dinner on the table quicker? How can you get out of the rut of preparing the same dishes every week? This week we will be speaking with Kristen Doyle, of Dine & Dish, on some ways we can make our dinner hour easier and how to simplify the planning process for busy moms.

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The MomAdvice Simplified Show Starts Today

Today is the big day and I am a ball of nerves. Venturing into the world of podcasting is a big step for me, but I am hoping it will be just another wonderful way to connect with all of our readers and hopefully give us some exposure with people who have not heard of my website before.

Here is today's show description:

Does your to-do list each day overwhelm you? Join us as we discuss how to make a better to-do list and actually feel productive at the end of the day. Charrise McCrorey, of Emergence Business Coaching, will be helping us organize our day better by offering practical advice for moms on time management. To learn more about Charrise's latest program Full Out And Fearless, please visit http://www.fulloutandfearless.com for more information.

You can listen to this show live at 2PM EST every Thursday where we will discuss quick and easy tips for simplifying our home management routines. To visit my show page, just click on over to BlogTalkRadio to see what we will have in store for the upcoming month. I am still working on shaking the dust off on my page, but I plan to have lots of very inspiring guests and great content for simple living. To see all of the Eleven Mom's shows, you can visit the Eleven Moms Channel for shows on all different topics.

If you are an expert in simplifying whether it be home organization, food, money-saving, or in work/time management, please shoot me an email at amy@momadvice.com and tell me your idea for a show. I would love to share your business and advice with our readers.

Thank you so much for your continued support and I can't wait to start this adventure with you!

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Notebook Experiments: Can I Make an Amazing Cupcake From Scratch?


Experiment: Can I make a cupcake from scratch?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 01.08.09

Materials Needed: Please see The Farm Chicks for the full instructions. I followed the instructions exactly.



Results: I will admit it, I am a cake mix kind of girl just because it is quick and easy. I was really intrigued by this recipe though for Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream because they just sounded divine.

The perfect occasion arose as we were celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday. I wanted to make a birthday dinner for her so I thought this would be a sweet ending to our dinner.

The recipe came together beautifully until I added the boiling water. As I stirred, what now looked like watery soup or a dish leftover in the sink, I did feel a little panicky. The entry assured me that it was supposed to look exactly like that though so I used my batter bowl to pour in this watery mess.

I made the frosting while the cake was baking and the frosting came together perfectly. I loved the ratios in this recipe because it was so light and fluffy. I also used the tip for just a hint of food coloring to create a more pastel look.

What was a watery looking mess turned out to be the most delicious cupcake I have ever made in my life! The cake was moist and flavorful. In fact, the cake was still good four days after our party and tasted just like the day I made it. The frosting on top was sweet, but just the right amount of sweet.



Conclusion: The entire family agreed that this is a recipe worth repeating. I think this will be my new cupcake recipe for these special occasions because it was delicious and also was made from ingredients that are always lurking in my pantry. Thanks to The Farm Chicks for a wonderful recipe that I will be using over and over again!

Here are the other recipes from the birthday party:

Classic Baked Ziti


1 pound lean ground beef (I subbed it this time with Sweet Turkey Sausage removed from its casings)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32 ounce) jar meatless sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta, cooked & drained
2 (8 ounce) cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I subbed it this time with Italian Cheese Blend)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook ground beef & garlic over medium-high heat for six to eight minutes or until beef is browned; stirring frequently. Stir in spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, & oregano. Reduce heat & simmer for ten minutes. Stir one cup of the sauce into the cooked ziti noodles. Spoon half of the ziti mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese & a 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Top with two cups sauce, then remaining ziti mixture & remaining sauce. Cover & bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella & Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake uncovered for ten minutes or until heated through.

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!

There was also something else at the party in this...


But I will have to show it to you next week! A girl has to save some content for next week!


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

I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Thursday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster's blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can't wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!



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Amy's Notebook 01.08.09

I am loving these little homemade glove warmers (@ Craftstylish)

I love this homemade card holder inspired by Pottery Barn (@ whatever)

I love this round-up of homemade holiday gift ideas (@ sparkle power)

This art hat party is a brilliant NYE tradition (@ Make)

This Coca Cola cake recipe sounds delicious (@ Teresa Sheeley)

These custom iPod covers are so cute (@ jannypie)

This cereal box puppet theater would be a fun winter day craft with little stick puppets (@ flip flops & applesauce)

I will have to keep this in mind- knitting projects for American Girl Dolls (@ zakka life)

Here is another round-up of homemade holiday gifts (@ Chocolate on My Cranium)

I love this photo collage poster & stretched fabric over canvas as new wall art (@ Don't Call Me Becky)

I love these storage solutions for holiday gift wrap (@ DIY Maven)

I like these rules to bake by (@ Joy the Baker)

I love these organizing solutions for a home office and I want to try this recipe for moist chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting (@ The Farm Chicks)

These ideas for winter decorations are great (@ A Storybook Life)

This pasta with chicken and artichokes looks so good (@ Blissfully Domestic)

I love these tips for piping a basketweave (@ Bakerella)

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

All Knitted Up: The Anthropologie Inspired Capelet


This is a proud, proud knitting moment. As I gaze at this capelet, I feel nothing but happiness that I was able to make something that I could actually wear with great pride.

I printed out this pattern a few weeks ago and read it a dozen times, but would immediately become overwhelmed with anxiety. What if I couldn't make anything more than a scarf or a dishcloth or a blanket? What if I was destined to make square flat things for the rest of my life? What if I failed?

I began to knit and what happened was that I began to learn. I made a swatch to check my gauge. I made mistakes, but I ripped them out. I learned what 1x1 ribbing was. I placed markers. I moved things to scrap yarn. I created sleeves. I seamed. I became excited as I began to understand what I was doing.

I knitted with wild abandon. I tried my work on. I tried it on again. I modified it to my personal taste. I sewed it up with a button. I blocked. I collapsed at midnight of the same day and felt quite smug that I had done it. If I could knit this, what else could I knit? I held back from spending the night flipping through patterns with my new skill set in mind. Yes, I must rest.



The next day was the other anxiety filled moment. I wore it out in public. And no one laughed or asked if it was what I made in my Home Ec class. And they complimented me. And there was so much pride.

And now, I know I can do so much more than I gave myself credit for... and that was the best feeling of all! A whole new world of patterns have just opened up for me!

I plan to make this in a couple of other colors and play around with the pattern a bit. It is one that can be modified depending on your style and shape.

Details on Pattern: This is the Anthropologie Inspired Capelet from Peony Knits. I used size 11 (8.00 mm) needles and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Fisherman. I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it so I bought the inexpensive yarn.

Modifications: I added two inches to the length of the capelet and then added 5 rows of additional ribbing to the sleeves. It is a small pattern. I have a very narrow frame and am petite and this fit me perfectly. I would recommend modifications if you are busty or have a wider frame. This project did require some blocking, but came together quickly with instant gratification.

The project only took me one day of dedicated knitting and I am a newbie knitter.

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Inspiring Moms: Charrise McCrorey of Emergence Business Coaching

I am so excited to introduce you this week to my friend and business coach, Charrise McCrorey!

Charrise will also be joining me on my very first podcast. I mean, if I am going to do something that is completely new for me, who else better to join you then your coach?

We will be exploring how to simplify the to-do lists in our lives and create balance with our work (and/or home management) and our families. Charrise has been an invaluable person in my life and I look foward to sharing this interview with you.

To listen to the podcast live, you just visit my profile page on BlogTalkRadio on January 8th (Thursday) at 2PM EST. You can call in questions to me or just type a question or comment in to me while listening. If you aren't available at that time to listen, we will be sure to post it on our site. You can stream the episode or download it- whatever is more convenient. I am so excited to connect with our readers in this way!




Can you explain what a business coach is and what they can do for your business?


Business Coaches are not always doing the same kind of work – so much of the work is based upon the unique people involved. Generally speaking, a business coach will work with the leaders of a company to help them manage change, improve bottom line, create new initiatives, empower people, and tighten up profit losses. Another facet of coaching is personal coaching, and in my experience it is critical to create a balance between the two, as we are in fact people with full and busy lives. The more growth we experience personally, the more effective we will be in our business.


How did you begin this journey into coaching? What have you discovered through this career path?

I began a few years back when I found myself at an important crossroads in my life. I was out of work, and had experienced some health issues with my husband and myself. I suddenly woke up to the fact that I was wasting my talent in the jobs that I’d had. I discovered the world of coaching through personal development work I had been doing. I knew instantly that this was what I was searching for. I found a great company to get my certification training from and got started right away. I’ve learned so much since then, about myself, and about the unnecessary ways that people suffer through their life. I’ve become more passionate about living my life as if it were my last day here, and have developed stronger relationships in my life. I enjoy the experience of serving people, knowing that in some way I am helping them lead a more satisfying life.



One of the things you have really helped me with is my time management. Can you give some tricks or tips for work-at-home/busy moms for managing their day more effectively?

Amy, you are very coachable, and it’s been a real pleasure working with you!

I often recommend a strategy that I use myself with good results. It involves creating a list each day of 6 Things that would be satisfying to get done in a given day. These 6 things must be reasonably feasible to accomplish in that day. Mixing small things with big things allows us to actually get through the list, and end our day feeling a new sense of accomplishment, as opposed to our old ways of making lists we never complete and feeling like a failure because of it. Making a list of 6 Things causes us to re-evaluate what is really important to us. It sets us up for success rather than failure. We all have enough time – what we don’t utilize enough is the discipline to arrange our priorities in a way that satisfies us.


What advice would you give to a mom who is struggling with balance? How can moms make themselves a priority when caring for everyone else in the home and balancing their careers?

Being a mom is such a fulfilling and important job. The need to be a super-mom is a made up story that we create, seeking validation for one thing or another and creating the martyr image. My best coaching is to build in time for self care, because who will you be for your family if you are ill or unhappy and stressed out with your life? As a parent, you set the example for your children. You want them to grow up to be happy, healthy adults. They are watching you carefully and will model what they see. Teach them to honor themselves first, so that they are capable of delivering their gifts in a big way to the world. Start by doing this yourself. The laundry will wait. We sacrifice a lot for our children. We must be careful not to sacrifice our health, because they need us in their lives.


You will be beginning a new venture in your business. Can you share a little bit about what you have in store for the future?

Of course! I am so passionate about helping people to stop sleepwalking through life, I’ve created an intense coaching program designed to WAKE PEOPLE UP TO THEIR LIFE! It’s a program designed for people who are at the point where they know something’s got to give. They are ready to identify and push through the fear that stops them from fulfilling their dreams. They are committed to living their life as if every day were there last. It’s an exclusive 6 month program limited to 8 extraordinary people, and more details can be found at Full Out and Fearless. After 6 months of working with me in this program, the participants will be living a much bigger, more satisfying life. In fact, it may even be unrecognizable compared to what they’re up to right now. This is the kind of work I was created to do, and there is such a need for it right now. People are ready for change, and tired of settling for the status quo.


What is the proudest moment that you have had as a business coach?

Wow, this is a really great question. All of my clients have created dramatic results in their lives through their commitment to coaching. One client has learned to live his life with an abundant mindset, which has resulted in earning 3x more in the past year since our relationship began. Another client has learned the value of serving others, and is working to build a foundation for charitable giving. My coaching helps them discover what makes them great, and helps them focus on that instead of spending precious energy on weaknesses. I am proud of all of the work we do together! Coaching is for people who really want to see improvement in their life – and are ready to make an unwavering commitment to do the work. I am grateful to all of my clients for their contribution to my life.

To learn more about Charrise please visit Emergence Business Coaching, Coach Charrise, and Full Out and Fearless.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

An Apron Full of Giveaways 01.06.08


Another round of great giveaways is happening on MomAdvice! We are giving away the Living on a Dime cookbook and a new product called Little Pim which is a DVD foreign-language based DVD series for babies. Don't forget that our trio of great child safety products and the Family Safety Report one year membership will end at 8PM EST this evening. There are not very many entries so your chances are great for winning!

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 (Children's Movies)."

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

To enter, please follow the links below. (photo credit: skinnylaminx)


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Simplify: The To-Do List

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and just felt completely and utterly overwhelmed before you even start? My day was often looking like that and rarely did I actually ever complete all of the things off of the list. I would end my day defeated before the next day had ever begun. While the high of checking things off the list was there, the items left unchecked left me feeling less euphoric about what was actually accomplished.

For the past couple of months, I have had the great opportunity to work with a business coach to help make my business better. Charrise McCorey, from Emergence Business Coaching, has been working with me to help me reach my business goals. It has been such a unique experience for me because I am able to actually discover how valuable my time is, increase my productivity, and discover what can emerge from finding balance in my life.

The first thing on our project list was tackling my to-do list and my feelings of constantly being overwhelmed. I felt like I was juggling way too many balls in the air so I wasn't sleeping well, eating well, or feeling like a very good parent. I would start a project, abandon it or do a bad job on it, and then move on to the next thing.

The first thing we did was revamp what my to-do list looked like. Here is an example of what my to-do list looked like for my Monday routine- perhaps it looks like yours?

Amy's Monday To-Do List

Sweep Kitchen Floors
Unload dishwasher
Load dishwasher
Swipe both bathrooms
Make beds
One load of laundry
Clean bathtub
Empty upper level trash
Make grocery list and menu plan
Change sheets on all beds
Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms

Now those were just my home management goals, we aren't even tackling the business goals for the day. What ended up happening was that I would get a portion of the list done and then have to carry it over for Tuesday. Let's say I got three of those things done. Now we will move on to Tuesday's schedule and it will look like this:

Amy's Tuesday To-Do List

Swipe both bathrooms
Make beds
One load of laundry
Clean bathtub
Empty upper level trash
Make grocery list and menu plan
Change sheets on all beds
Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms
Dust main level
Sweep main level
Steam kitchen floors
Clean windows and mirrors
Run errands

And then, let's say I got five things done, then Wednesday would carry over to this:

Amy's Wednesday To-Do List

Make grocery list and menu plan
Change sheets on all beds
Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms
Dust main level
Sweep main level
Steam kitchen floors
Clean windows and mirrors
Run errands
Do one thing I hate
Catch Up on Everything

Usually by Friday, my list looked something like this:

Amy's Friday To-Do List

Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms
Dust main level
Sweep main level
Steam kitchen floors
Clean windows and mirrors
Run errands
Do one thing I hate
Catch Up on Everything
Empty lower level trash
Dust lower level
Sweep lower level
Clean windows and mirrors on lower level
Clean and organize the home office
Visit the library
Clean out car
Update our Quicken software
Mow lawn
Baking day
Hate myself for accomplishing absolutely nothing
Defeat
Defeat
Defeat

Oh, and did I mention I haven't tackled anything in my business? Obviously, this to-do list was just a running list of things I would never get to and I would hate myself for accomplishing nothing. In tears, I explained to Charrise that I often feel like a bad mom because I had to keep up with my business AND my house and neither was looking good at all. As Charrise says over and over again to me when I say negative things, "That is a story you like to tell yourself. You can change your story."


We decided to change my story. She advised completely revamping the to-do list. Instead of keeping a running list of things I would never do, why not make a shorter list that I could actually accomplish with great success? How would it feel if I could go to bed each night knowing that I had accomplished what was on my list? How would I sleep? Her advice was simple a list of only six things.

Make 3 Business Goals
Make 3 Personal Goals

Now my list looks something like this:

Amy's Revamped Monday To-Do List

1. Set up contests for Tuesday on the blog
2. Complete my to-do list entry
3. Conference Call with Kenmore
4. Play on the floor with the kids for one hour
5. One load of laundry- whites
6. Pay Bills

At night before I go to bed, I make my list of six and go to sleep. At the end of the day, I usually can check most of the things off of the list and if something doesn't get done, it just gets carried over to the next day. I have to say, it is a lot easier to carry over two things rather than twenty each day.

But, what about the bigger goals? I had so many things I needed to do on my list for the website and in my home, but I knew they would never fit on such a limited list.

This is where this comes into play:

Giant Wish List

Instead of adding these to my to-do list each day, take a piece of poster board and begin writing what your bigger goals are. She suggested writing down things you might be afraid to say out loud so that you can see your dreams come into fruition.

Amy's Giant Wish List

Podcast Radio Show With Huge Corporate Sponsorship
Food Network Television Show
Get Featured in Real Simple Magazine
Regular Column in Good Housekeeping
Book Deal
Meet Brad Pitt
Possibly Marry Him

When I think of things that I want to do in the future, I just jot it down on my giant wish list. It is there, I won't lose the idea or goal, but it isn't on my running list of six...yet.

Yes, one day I will have an opening on the list of six and when that happens maybe I might say, "Today is the day to meet Brad Pitt and possibly marry him." I will add it to the list of six and just maybe, I might accomplish it.

You might ask what happened to all the cleaning on the list? Well, instead of writing it down, I just try and do it when I get my goals accomplished for the day. I either make it my goal to clean one day of the week or I just clean when I need to clean. I don't hold myself to commitments about it. I know what needs to get done and when I need to do it, and I do the best I can.

It might not be perfect, but it doesn't keep me up at night anymore.

Simplify.

(photo credits: image 1- one pretty thing image 2-gamookie)


What does your to-do list look like? Could you simplify it? What would you put on a giant wish list?

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Redbox Code 01.05.08

Today's Redbox code is 37CEA9. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

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 our giveaways! We have a Trio of Family Safety Products and a year subscription to Family Safety Report. These contests end at 8PM EST tomorrow night!

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.

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Quick Weeknight Dinner: Rosemary Chicken

Here is a great go-to dish that can be made with a couple of easy ingredients in your pantry. If you do not have fresh rosemary on hand, you can substitute with dried rosemary instead. I serve this with a little rice and a vegetable for a quick weeknight dish.

Rosemary Chicken
Courtesy of Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals

4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 stems rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
Salt and coarse black pepper
4 cloves garlic, cracked away from skin with a whack against the flat of your knife

Coat chicken in balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and cracked garlic to the pan. Cook chicken 12 minutes, or until juices run clear, turning occasionally. The balsamic vinegar will produce a deep brown, sweet finish on the chicken as it cooks.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Freebie Friday: January 2, 2009

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! A big thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for her assistance with our freebie list this week. I am loving Heather's post this week on free calendars for 2009- such great and frugal ideas. Don't forget to visit her site for freebies all week long!!

Health & Beauty

Gold Bond Ultimate Soothing Lotion (Walmart)
Bausch & Lomb Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Tissue

Food

Orville Redenbacher's Natural Gourmet Popping Corn (Kroger)

Entertainment

Ziploc Home Organization House Party
Free Random House Book Downloads For Kindle Owners

Home & Garden

What to Expect when Expecting book (from DuetDHA)

Upcoming Freebie Events:


JANUARY
3 - Home Depot Kids build Helmet Bookends 9 to noon
10 - Lowe's Kids build a Time Capsule 10 - 11am
14 - Suavenomics - request your free bottle of Suave

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Amy's Notebook: The Happy New Year Edition


I love these tips for transforming a holiday tin (@ Craftstylish)

This a great tip for storing your garland (@ Nesting Place)

I want to try these mix in the pan cakes (@ Organizing Connection)

This little knitted baby sweater would be great for a spring baby (@ f. pea)

I am loving this knitted scarflet (@ Crafster via Crafzine)

I love this post on inspiring creativity in your children with things already on hand (@ Camp Creek)

This gingerbread cake looks so rich and yummy (@ Smitten Kitchen)

These googly-eyed thumbtacks are so funny (@ zakka life)

I am going to be using this round-up of thank you card printables (@ Skip To My Lou)

These birthday party ideas are great (@ the long thread)

I am loving this packaging for cocoa mix (@ Annie's Eats)

These cinnamon sugar palmiers look like a wonderful and fast treat (@ My Sweet & Saucy)

This chocolate sour cream cake looks delicious (@ Coconut & Lime)

I am bookmarking these cute gift ideas for next year (@ whatever)

I like this ideas for decorating freebie calendars (@ Parent Hacks)

A cheese fondue night would be fun (@ 101 Cookbooks)

These garter stitch mitts would be a fun project (@ Sew Nancy)

I love this felted mistletoe (@ Caffeine, Kids, & Knitting)

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MomAdvice Monthly Recap: December '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. Twitter
4. I'm An Organizing Junkie
5. Eleven Moms
6. Deal Seeking Mom
7. Small Notebook
8. Tip Nut
9. Baby Cheapskate
10.Facebook

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. Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea
2. Aldi Supermarket
3. Mystery Shopping
4. Our Favorite Cocoa Mix
5. Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
6. Budget-Friendly Gifts for Younger Kids
7. Make Your Own Mixes & Convenience Foods
8. My Hostess Gifts This Year
9. Budget-Friendly Gifts for Tweens & Teens
10.Round-Up of Homemade Hostess Gifts

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