Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simplifying Our Cleaning Routine Resource List

What a fun interview that was and I want to thank Trish Suhr for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with me. I hope that you learned a lot in that half hour and I enjoyed getting to share all of our giveaways this week too.

Click above to listen to this episode at anytime or visit our sidebar on the left-hand side to listen to the episodes anytime throughout the week.
These episodes are also available in iTunes format for you to take on the go!

Here are some of the resources that were highlighted in today's episode:

Pledge Cleaning Quiz We uploaded this fun little quiz from Pledge to figure out what type of cleaning habits you have. A huge thank you to Pledge Multi-Surface for sponsoring the giveaways for our show this week.

Clean House- Trish hosts this great show on the Style Network. You can catch the show Wednesdays at 10/9 Central.

Gearing Up for Summer- This article will offer some helpful little tips for getting your house ready as summer quickly approaches. Get that grill gleaming again and tidy up that patio furniture so you can really enjoy your time outside this year.

Spring Cleaning For Today's Mom- This article offers some insight on how to make that spring cleaning a little more manageable this year.

Happy Homemaking the Homemade Way- If you can't afford the expensive cleaners, this article will guide you into making cleaners at home that are better for the earth and easier on the wallet!

On next week's show...

Next week we will be joined by Charlene, from My Frugal Adventures, who will be sharing with us her tips on choosing a budget-friendly wine. Charlene has over nine years of experience in the wine industry and brings with that a lot of knowledge on how to spot the best deals on great wines, what pitfalls to watch out for when choosing a wine, and how to care for/store wine so it will last longer.



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MomAdvice Simplified: Simplifying Our Cleaning Routines

On MomAdvice Simplified, we are joined by Trish Suhr, the amazing co-host of “Clean House” on the Style Network, to help offer us tips on keeping our homes in tip top shape. Trish has some great tips for making our homes the sanctuaries that they should be and offers valuable advice on ditching the clutter in our homes so we can truly enjoy it. Trish is lovely and dynamic and I had the best time interviewing her. Talking to her was like chatting with an old friend and I hope you will enjoy this interview half as much as I enjoyed conducting it!

This podcast airs weekly at 2PM EST each Thursday. Due to Trish's busy schedule, we did have to pre-record the interview portion, but we will be offering a great giveaway for five of our listeners sponsored by Pledge Multi Surface.



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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Notebook Experiment: Can I Make Yummy Homemade Bread?

Experiment: Can I make yummy homemade bread?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 04.15.09

Materials Needed: Please see Dine & Dish for the full instructions. I followed the instructions exactly. I did have to add about 1/4 cup extra flour because the dough was a little too sticky.

Results: I was excited to try this recipe for "Honey, I'm Home Bread" because it looked so delicious and I could use my bread machine to make it. I layered in all of the ingredients and turned on my bread machine to do the work. When I peeked at the dough, it looked like it needed a little more flour so I worked that into the loaf.

As you can see, the bread rose beautifully. It rose so high, in fact, that when it baked it hit the top of my oven and got a little dip in the center (thus, the off-center pictures here). The bread looked golden and smelled delicious.

Unfortunately, it got very brown on the outside after 35 minutes of baking, but when I cut into it, it was still dough in the center. I am not sure if it was because I use stoneware versus a glass loaf pan, but the inside of the loaf did not come out the way I hoped.

Regardless, I am going to try this recipe again and maybe just cook it in the bread machine instead or try a different loaf pan. We did eat around the dough parts because we can't let good bread like that go to waste. It was absolutely deliciously sweet from the honey and a perfect balance of flavors.

I refuse to give up though which is why this is not a failed experiment in my book!

Conclusion: Thanks to Dine & Dish for giving me a recipe that I can't wait to attempt again!

Related Links:

Getting to Know Your Bread Machine

Adventures in Bread Making: Artisan Bread in 5

Storing Homemade Bread & Bread Ingredients


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 Wednesday 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 04.29.09

I had no idea that you could make mozzarella at home (@ Scribbit)

This all-natural cleaning supplies basket would make a wonderful Mother's Day gift (@ Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op)

Making these shadow puppets would be a fun-filled family night (@ Gardening Without Skills)

I love this free pillowcase pattern for a beginning sewer (@ Karlee Fruchs)

These waffle dishcloths are adorable and would make a wonderful gift (@ Freda's Hive)

I love these fabric-covered headbands (@ mmm crafts)

I want to make this rainbow cake for the kids (@ shelterrific)

These fudgewiches look absolutely heavenly (@ plumpudding)

This is a wonderful tutorial for making your own cloth napkins (@ Skip to My Lou)

I am loving this circus party theme for a birthday (@ armelle blog)

I can't decide if I want to make the banana peanut butter granola or the bacon, mushroom, & broccoli quiche this week (@ Annie's Eats)

These brownie bottom ice cream cupcakes would be a fun summer treat (@ Joy the Baker)

I am going to have to try this DIY version for cream of mushroom soup (@ Serious Eats)

I want to try this lasagna recipe (@ Tidy Mom)

These graham cracker chewy bars would be a hit as a Father's Day gift (@ LA Times)

These are some wonderful tips for how to be Craigslist savvy (@ Small Notebook)

I love this teacup pincushion (@ Gingham Cherry)

This paper flower wreath would be beautiful for a wedding shower (@ Once Wed)

I love this recipe for naturally-dyed playdough (@ One Golden Apple)

This is an excellent article on the cost-effectiveness of making your own foods out of pantry ingredients which lead me to this bagel recipe that I will have to try! (@ Slate)

This hot pink raspberry cake looks divine! (@ The Kitchn)

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Apron Full of Giveaways 04.28.09

$24, Available from Etsy Seller- Little Green Swing

Welcome to this week's list of giveaways where you can showcase the fab stuff your blogs are giving away or enter to win some of the best of the best on the web.

This week on MomAdvice, we have two great giveaways closing out at 8PM EST tonight! The contests that are ending this week are our Nintendo DS Emergency Vets game for your children. This is the last day to also enter the HUGE prize pack full of great green products that will help you green up those household routines from Walmart.

Our new giveaway this week is for a beautiful Kodak Easyshare Wireless Digital Picture Frame. This prize is valued at almost $230 and would make a wonderful Mother's Day gift. We also share about their new free photo card giveaway (shipping & handling charges still required) in honor of Mother's Day.

Follow the links below to find out how to enter to win these fabulous giveaways!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren't giving away the aprons just showcasing them! 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!



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Play It Again, Momma: The Player Scores & Silence

Photo Credit: Stu Steeger

It is the last thirty seconds of the basketball game and the teams are tied. The star player moves down the court gracefully, dodging player after player, his eye on the prize. He dances around them as he dribbles, and, as the seconds slip by him, he makes a beeline towards the basket. The crowd begins to count down loudly, "Ten, nine, eight..." And just before the last second, he slams the ball into the basket. And the crowd sits silent.

Wait? What? Why would the crowd not cheer? This is the moment, the moment that he has worked towards and yet, you could hear a pin drop. How do you think that player feels?

Well, I have been that blogger a lot and it really stinks. To be honest, you have to really love the process and therapy that comes with your writing to endure the dead silence that you receive when you first start blogging.

Let's take that player that we talked about, for instance, and how he would have felt if the crowd went wild instead of went silent. As someone who has done theater for years, I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing like the adrenaline rush that you feel from the crowd cheering. Your heart starts to pump, your face flushes, you get that natural high from the praise, and then something really great want to do it again. That praise, that rush, that love that you feel from the people around you motivates you and you feed off of it. Suddenly, you picture yourself doing it over and over again, but each time you vow that it is going to be better next time.

For me, the process of writing these entries can be very labor-intensive. Sixty shots of whatever I am eating before I get to eat it, reading books and magazines to stay on top of new subjects that might strike our fancy, researching and sharing about other blogs, and just plain working my butt off. Some of my entries take very little thought and others are put out there after hours of careful thought and research. What stinks is when you put it out there and receive no comments on all of that effort.

What can bring a blogger comfort when they receive no comments and what can you do to get more comments to come your way? Let's chat about it!

Take Comfort In Your Stats- Remember how we talked about tracking your site/blog's traffic? Well, sometimes you can take comfort in those numbers even if your comments are in the single digits. What brought me a lot of comfort in the beginning was knowing that fifty people visited my blog even if only four people commented on an entry. Just knowing that someone is out there reading your stuff can provide a lot of comfort.

Ask Advice- If you are blogging about a particular subject all of the time, it can become less interactive with your readers. Sometimes throwing a post out there and asking your reader's take on a particular subject can bring in a lot of comments. It can be something as simple as, where do you find the best grocery prices, but if the readers can help it can become a great role-reversal and will give you more discussion than a post on here is where *I* think you should grocery shop.

Make Yourself Vulnerable- Oh, I know this is a tough one, but this can be a great way to show readers the real side of yourself. This one has been a tough one for me because I am striving to be a positive person and sometimes things in my life don't feel so positive. Expressing some vulnerability and showing the real sides of our family makes that connection with your readers a little deeper. Be careful when being vulnerable though and protect your family and your privacy as best you can when sharing in this format.

Be the Commenter- If you are not getting comments, then be the commenter. When I say this, I mean it in two different ways. If you receive a comment in your own entry, comment back to that person. "Thanks so much, Jane, for your comment! Using powdered milk IS a great way to save on groceries- I will try that!" This not only boosts your comments by one (and yes, in the beginning stages you can count that!) and it also builds a conversation with your readers. They see that you are reading their comments and that makes them want to continue the discussion with you. Better yet, another person might want to throw their two cents in now that they see that you are learning something and sharing in this way. Not everyone comes back to read the comment thread, but sometimes I read comment threads just because it seems busy. If you answer your comments, that boosts people's interest in wanting to see what all the fuss is about. See, you just roped your readers in!

The other way is to, of course, spend time commenting on other people's blogs. This can be a very time-consuming process in the beginning, but it is so fun to read what other people are writing and it will help you with your own content. Be sincere in your comments and the other blogger will want to see who this amazingly thoughtful person is! They will visit your blog and then who knows where that one comment will lead?

Highlight Your Old Stuff- Maybe you put out a killer entry the first time around and not a single soul commented on it, but you knew it was sheer brilliance. What to do? Bring that old entry back! I have seen bloggers do great round-ups of their old entries daily, weekly, or monthly... it just depends on how much content you have to work with. We do a "Play It Again, Momma" where I bring back a single entry that I wished someone read. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! In fact, this week's entry is an old one, but all new eyes are seeing it!

Here is what I will say, no matter how big of a blogger you are, those comments really mean something. I read every single comment that comes through my blog and I am so proud if someone tells me they appreciated something I did or said. I gloat so much that sometimes I save them and read them to my husband when he gets home. "Look, this person said that my line drying article saved them $20 this month on their bill. Isn't that awesome?"

I try not to take the silence personally, but sometimes it is hard. Remember that a thoughtful comment can make a blogger stronger and give them that crazy rush they need to press on.



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Monday, April 27, 2009

Redbox Code 04.27.09

Today's free Redbox code is 4CW33N. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.

You can't beat a free movie rental so schedule some fun family nights and check out what Family Films are available.

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.. This code can be used all day until midnight at any Redbox location.



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Menu Planning Monday 04.27.09

Here is what our next two week's of dinners look like. I hope you can try some of these yummy recipes! You can also print out a free printable menu planner in our Downloads section to jot down ideas as you are planning this week.

1. Chicken Cooked in Milk, Mashed Potatoes, & Baby Peas

2. Herb Baked Tilapia, Lemony Rice Pilaf, & Roasted Green Beans

3. Chicken Enchiladas With Homemade Enchilada Sauce & Mexican Rice

4. Homemade Waffles, Homemade Syrup, Hash Brown Potatoes, & Orange Juice

5. Homemade Pizza With The World's Greatest Slushies

6. Ground Beef Tacos With Tortilla Chips

7. Old-Fashioned Spaghetti & Meatballs with Homemade Breadsticks

8. Chicken & Broccoli Lo Mein With Brown Rice

9. Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans, & WHO Bread

10. Homemade Pizza With Milkshakes

11. Piggy Pancakes, Homemade Syrup, Hash Brown Potatoes, & Orange Juice

12. Chicken Italiano Over Spaghetti with Roasted Green Beans

13. Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

14. Panini Night (Turkey, Swiss, Prepared Pesto on Sourdough Bread)

Please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie to get even more great menu planning ideas for the week!



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Elegant Entertaining Without the Work: Chicken Italiano

Need a fast and elegant dish to entertain with? What about one you could throw in your slow cooker? How about one that could be prepared and thrown in the freezer? How about something that could be made from pantry ingredients? Well, this dish is for you!

When I was growing up my mom used to buy a product called "Chicken Tonight" that had a sauce that you could cook your chicken in to make a fast dinner. My mom served it over rice as a quick weeknight meal and it was always a favorite of mine.

This recipe reminds me a lot of that dish and is as equally easy to prepare. You can throw it in your slow cooker or you can put it in the oven for last minute guests.

I hope you can throw this recipe in your rotation. It has never failed me and everyone I know that has made it, loves the simplicity of this fast and delicious dish.

Chicken Italiano (or Amy's Copycat Version of "Chicken Tonight")

4 chicken breasts
2 cups marinara sauce
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (you can use fresh or a can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup Italian Dressing

Slow Cooker Version: Place all ingredients in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for six hours. Serve over spaghetti or rice with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. This is delicious with a side of roasted green beans.

Oven Version: Throw frozen chicken breasts in. Pour sauce, tomatoes, & Italian dressing on top. Bake at 375 for 1 hour (or longer if they are large chicken breasts).

Make-Ahead Version: Throw all of the ingredients in a freezer bag and label with cooking directions. To prepare, just thaw and follo