Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Thing at a Time

Sometimes trying to be the best wife and mom can be extremely overwhelming. There are SO many tasks involved in this job! I try to take care of the kids, make the best food for the lowest price, organize finances, clean the house after a tornado of toys, do the laundry, participate in hobbies, and all with a smile on my face.

Being the best at everything is exhausting and unrealistic. Every meal will not be our favorite, every toy might not get picked up, there may just be a load of laundry or two waiting to be done, and unfortunately I may not get to every sewing and scrapbooking project that I want...but that's OK! What's important is that I take it one thing at a time in order to avoid getting stressed about the big picture.

Life is full of "To-do" lists, its important not to let those lists swallow us up. Take life one thing at a time, one day at a time, and don't be afraid to throw that list out every once in a while and enjoy yourself.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie Night!

The boys got a bunch of movies for Christmas this year to include all three Toy Story movies! My husband and I both love them so we had a movie marathon the other night of 2 and 3...not sure why Louie wanted to skip 1.  You can't have a movie night without popcorn, and according to Louie "that's what kids do when they watch a movie" that's what we did! We laughed, and I cried at the end of the 3rd one. It was great fun and didn't cost a thing! (We also got popcorn in our stockings from my mom!)

Toy Story 3 is on sale at Amazon right now for $9.99!

Lessons from Mom

While we are all still recovering from the holidays, I thought I'd post a couple of lessons my mom has taught me to make things more manageable.

My Finished Rice Krispie Ornaments

1. Freeze Your Goodies

We all love Christmas cookies and snacks. Every year I over eat because I leave those yummy treats out on the counter. My mom has always had a lot of self control in this area, and she says its because she'll put them all in the freezer where she's not constantly walking past them. This way you'll keep them fresh, but you can enjoy them longer by grabbing a couple at a time, instead of all in two days!

Louie's New Book of Cutting Activities
Leo's Alphabet Train
2. One Thing at a Time

We were all very blessed this year with lots of Christmas presents, mainly from my parents. This can be a bit overwhelming, especially all the kids toys. The kids are so young that they generally take everything out at one and throw the pieces all over until they are lost or broken. My mom suggests taking one thing out at a time, its less overwhelming for everyone and you can keep the toys in good shape for much longer. There are some things that we still haven't even opened! Then keep them put away where the kids can't just take them out and throw them all over. For example, have puzzles, board games, and Lego sets in a closet somewhere and only take out one at a time.

This is especially important for nice toys or games. Last year my father-in-law got Louie a Leap Frog, he loves it, but we put it away for awhile because he was too young to play with it by himself. We've recently starting taking it out a few times a week, it seems more special now and we were able to keep it in good working order all year!

Thanks for all the advice, Mom! (She has also influenced most of the After Christmas Traditions.)

Here is the Lego organizer we got from my mom which has been working well for many types of activities with small parts (Legos, K'Nex, Puzzles):

$25 Gift Certificates for $2

I recently discovered where you can purchase gift certificates at a discounted price for hundreds of restaurants. For instance, usually they have $25 gift certificate for $10! However, recently they have had a coupon code (CLEARANCE) for 80% off making them $2 for a $25 gift certificate!! I purchased several of these and love the savings. They file all the gift certificates on your account for easy printing whenever you need them as well! (Make sure you read the fine print though, some have restrictions about dining in and days or hours that you cannot use it.)

Plus, they currently have a deal where if you purchase 5 $25 gift certificates (a $10 total) for participating restaurants, you can get a $25 eGift Card!!

Offer ends Friday, December 31, so if you are interested, grab them now while they are really cheap!

Monday, December 27, 2010

After Christmas Traditions

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed time with friends and family. We were very blessed this year thanks to our wonderful family. While running around to 4 houses in 2 days is exhausting with 2 little ones, we very much enjoyed the time we had with all of them.

Now that Christmas is over, there are a few things I like to do; stock up on supplies and decorations for next year, enjoy clearance holiday treats, and organize all of the new stuff we got.

Stocking up For Next Year:

Basically every store has their holiday decor and wrapping supplies 50% off, which is a great deal, however in the next few weeks, the stuff that's left will drop down even more. I remember 3 years ago when I went to Hobby Lobby a few weeks after Christmas and bought dozens of small gift bags that were marked down to $0.10! I used some this year and got many positive comments!

Another way I stock up is saving gift bags, boxes, and baskets that we received gifts in. My mom and grandma always have the best baskets that they give goodies in. These are not only good for Christmas but to save for a birthday or baby shower gift basket as well.

Clearance Holiday Treats:

I went to Target today and they have all of their holiday treats on sale, mostly 50% off, so if you don't mind eating holiday themed treats in January, this is a good way to stock up on some cheap cookies, brownies, or candy. If you enjoy flavored coffee, they have a lot of holiday flavored liquid creamers for $1.00-$1.50 also at Target. Click here for $0.75 off 1 or $1 off 3 Coffee Mate creamer coupons for a great deal!


Many places also have deals right now on home storage solutions and now is the time for them as we find storage space for the kids new toys and put away our Christmas decor, Walmart has a 20-gallon Latch Tote for $5.92 this week! I personally am going to be purchasing some wire shelves and plastic totes for the basement. Let's also not forget to donate our old stuff instead of just throwing it away!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crayon Roll Holder

I needed a good gift for my niece Ellie who loves to color and I came across this crayon roll holder from Skip To My Lou, the tutorial is here. I found a package of crayons for $0.35 at Office Max, the ribbon was part of a 9 yard pack for $1 at JoAnn Fabrics, and I paid less $5 for all the fabric (2 yards of 1, 1 yard for the other) and still have lots leftover to make several more!

Here is my finished project (lines could be straighter, but not bad for my first one), hope she likes it!

The Thought That Counts

This year, and most years, our Christmas budget goes mainly to our kids, parents, nieces, and nephews. This year is especially tight so my husband and I decided not to buy each other gifts. Instead, we are each going to write a letter or make a list of why we love each other. I know whatever it says in the letter will not only make me cry, but mean so much more to me than the expensive sweater he got me a couple years ago (as beautiful as it was). :)

Remember, it's not the amount of money you spend, but the thought that counts. Merry Christmas!

Little Drummer Boys

Today as I was preparing dinner, I could not keep the kids out of the kitchen. They like to pull out all of the Tupperware, which is kind of why they are strategically on the bottom shelf of the cabinet (it's the only thing I let them play with). So I decided to try and keep them busy by giving them some spatulas and spoons and told them to make some music.

They loved it!! Louie even noticed the difference in noise between the plastic, rubber, and wooden utensils. :) We have toy instruments, but of course my kitchen supplies are much more appealing! Louie even made up his own song.

Thankful for Healthy Children

This year I have been very thankful for two beautiful and healthy boys, because for awhile there, Louie was not so healthy. When we were dealing with some of Louie's health issues, he was treated by the doctor's at Children's Memorial Hospital. They were really great, always making us feel comfortable and explaining everything that was going on so that we understood the situation. I can't help but think of all the children that are still being treated and the terrible heartache their parents are feeling.

Now through December 31, Burger King is matching every online contribution to Children's Memorial! This is a great time to donate! If you haven't gotten someone a gift yet, give a donation in their name! For Louie's 1st birthday we requested that everyone make a donation in his name as opposed to toys (he had plenty already). This meant more to us than the most expensive gift ever could.

Click here to give!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cheap Rice Krispies

With Christmas approaching I needed to find a creative and cheap treat to make. I found this really cute idea for rice krispies that look like ornaments from Amy's Finer Things:

IMG 4181 Rice Krispies Treats Ornaments

I planned to buy everything at Target as I had a coupon for free marshmallows when I bought 2 Rice Krispies cereals here, $0.50 off 2 package of marshmallows here, and $2/2 boxes of Rice Krispies cereal here. To sweeten this deal, Target does price matching when you bring in another stores promotion print ad and Walgreens had their cereal on sale for $1.99! So, I ended up getting 2 boxes of cereal and 2 10 oz bags of marshmallows for less than $3! Can't wait to make them!

New Take on Chili

It was getting late and we were all hungry. I wanted something hot and filling and not too difficult to make. I had ground turkey and black beans and decided to try a new take on chili with a few other ingredients I had on hand.

3 cans black beans
1 lb ground turkey
2 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of tomato soup
1 cup medium salsa

I was a bit nervous about it...but it was DELICIOUS!

Best part was that everything I used I had bought previously for free or super cheap with coupons!

Creative Photo Display

When Louie was born I couldn't stop taking pictures of him...I wanted to capture everything he did. :) My husband took notice and bought me a Nikon D40, which is awesome (he's so sweet)! From there I couldn't be stopped, I have thousands of pictures. However, deciding which ones to display became that much harder!

I saw in several magazines and design shows the idea of a photo collage. You can use a variety of shape, sizes, and finishes to make it more interesting. Usually I buy Dollar Store frames or those on clearence at other stores. Luckily, my mother-in-law was cleaning out her collection of frames after a move and had a whole box of gray/silver frames that she gave me for free! I pared them with some black and white pics that I printed myself . A very inexpensive and personal touch to our home!

1 Curtain, 2 Functions

We bought our house with the goal of maintaining some of its 20s charm. We love the farmhouse sink that we have, but you can't exactly put cabinets underneath. Everything I've seen has a curtain to close off the storage underneath. So with no extra money for fabric at the time, but deperately wanting to close off the cleaning supplies and garbage bags under my sink....I got creative.

I bought a 2 pack of floor length gray curtains for our dining room window for $9.99 at Target a while back. Pretty great price for all that fabric. I paired them with a shear printed curtain that I made (got the fabric for $2 a yard on clearance!!) and I liked...but didn't love it.

So I decided to hem them to the length of the window, and wouldn't you know, the leftover fabric was the EXACT length I needed for a curtain under our sink! I hung an old curtain rod that we took down from another room and ta-da!! Here's one side of our new window and  the sink curtain for the price of 1!

Fancy This


Baby it's cold outside, and the kids are sure getting bored inside. When we were kids, every Tuesday night when my mom would work late my dad would play hide-and-seek with us. So while I wasn't sure that it would keep my kids attention at 3 and 1, I gave it a try. It turns out, Louie LOVED seeking. So I hid, about twenty times, but every time he found me he would scream with suprise and laugh. Leo basically just followed him around screaming and laughing along with him. It was so funny that one of the times I hid, I grabbed the camera to capture the moment...WORTH IT!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Simple Christmas Tradition

My earliest memories of Christmas are very simple. One thing my parents were always great at was creating memories with us that didn't actually cost a lot of money. We would watch the rainstorms from our garage, play board games, take walks together (rain or shine), and from Thanksgiving to sometime in January we would all hop in the car and drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and listening to Christmas music.

My kids love the lights, whether their on our tree or the house across the street, so we've carried on this tradition. It's such a simple and creative way to entertain the kids for an hour or two without spending any money - unless you decide to treat yourself to a latte like I often do! :)