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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Diaperbag alternatives

I think that there comes a time in every mom's life (like after the first child!!) where a diaper bag just doesn't cut it anymore - or at least this is what alot of my mommy friends and I feel!

So, in comes the backpack. I love this particular one - it is a camping backpack and has lots of pockets and extra storage. The zippered smaller front pouch has room for credit cards, drivers license, pens, etc. There is room to put water bottles, bottles or sippies in the the pouch on the left side. And inside...ah, an organizer's dream - lots of space, in two zippered compartments.

Now, as to WHAT I keep stocked in the diaper bag, so we can just grab and go - I'll post on that next week and link it back here! ;)

Linked with WFMW

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frozen, round goodness

There isn't much better on a hot summer day than pulling out frozen grapes. Ask my kids....they'll tell you!! (In their opinions, they are even better than popsicles.)

We frequently by grapes when they are on sale, eat our fill and then freeze the rest. We give the kids a cookie sheet (with sides) and have them take all of the grapes off the vine. Then we put them in the freezer overnight and put them in baggies the next day. These make perfect snacks on the humid summer days we get - but they also make great additions to smoothies as well!

Linked with Tasty Tuesday'sand Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coring Strawberries With Kids

How do YOU core strawberries with kids?

This is how we do it at our house....every child that isn't old enough to handle a paring knife gets a straw. They are then instructed to push the straw through the strawberry up to the top of "green hat" (check picture, sure does look like a green hat!!). Presto: strawberries are cored and mommy and daddy don't worry about little ones cutting off fingers....and the little ones still feel helpful!

and Homemaker Mondayand Tasty Tuesdays

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quick Makeover, Part Two

Another quick makeover: curtains.

I have a set for the summer and a set for the winter for our main living room (the winter set is much heavier, allowing for extra protection against the cold - the summer set much lighter, lighting more daylight in).

Raise curtain rods up to within 6 inches from the ceiling...this gives the illusion of a wider, taller window, thus opening up your whole room and making it look bigger.

Mount your rods at least 6 inches away from the window frame, this will allow the curtains to hang on the wall, rather than over the window and allow more light in as well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


When we buy expensive candles, we like to get the most use out of them that we can. One way we do this is to use a candle warmer. When we are no longer able to light the wicks, we still get many uses out of the candle by putting it on a candle warmer.

This particular base came with a tart warmer too, which I LOVE to melt in the winter time (and often are cheaper to buy than their candle-counterparts!)

For more candle care, check here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Many Mini-loaves

This versatile little pan was worth the $11 we paid for it. Originally, it was to make and decorate mini-cakes....which we have done for the children's birthday treats at school, each child getting their own cake with their name written on them.

We have also done mini-meatloaf's in them....yum!

These are also the perfect size to share with friends, family and neighbors.

Lately though, our 7-year-old daughter has been taking up cooking and baking- this particular day she used up our bananas and made "Blender Banana Bread" - yum!!

Moist, Blender Banana Bread

2 cups flour (I used white here, but can use 1/2 white, 1/2 wheat)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cinnamon and nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 T. milk
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup (3 medium) bananas
nuts or chocolate chips, as desired

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside. Put eggs, butter, milk and sugar into blender. Cover and process until smooth. Add nuts and chips. Pour into dry ingredients and mix only until flour is moistened. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60.

Yield: 2 regular sized loaves or 9 mini loaves.

--- @ WiseStamp Signature. Get it now

Linked with WFMW

Garlic Chicken Pizza

We used to have a Papa Murphy's in our area - and we LOVED their Garlic Chicken pizza's....but they went out of the area a few years ago.

Since then, I've done lots of playing around with recipe's and have found the PERFECT substitute. As a matter of fact, my hubby says it's better!!

Start with your favorite pizza crust. My local grocer frequently sells crusts in their bakery for 99 cents - I usually pick up extra and freeze them for later use!

I use 1/4 to 1/3 cup ranch dressing with 2 T. minced garlic. Mix well. Spread sparingly on pizza - too much and it wont taste good (trust me on this one!). Add chicken (any type will work, I have even use canned), tomatoes, onions, peppers and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 - 425 degrees until done (sorry, I never time this, I just bake until the cheese is melted and nicely browned).

and Tasty Tuesday and Frugal Friday and Grocery Cart Challenge

Monday, June 21, 2010

Line Drying

In the summertime - we save TONS of money by line drying! I've read varying numbers, but some say as much as 50 cents per load can be saved!!

Here is our clothesline. We recently installed a second one - it is a retractable version and retails for less than $50 (we got ours for $35 between sales and coupons).

We love having the retractable versions because there is no upkeep on them (no painting!), no having to move them around for lawn mowing and no extra yard space taken up.

Between line drying, making our own detergent AND fabric softner....summertime means savings time!

and Motivate Me Monday

Friday, June 18, 2010

(No-Cook Noodle) Lasagna

This is our favorite lasagna recipe, hands down. It's so simple to make, especially since the noodles don't require any pre-cooking!

Without further ado:

Lasagna, no-cook noodle
  • 2 pounds hamburger
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 large container cottage cheese 
  • 2 cans tomato soup
  • 1 qt (minus 1 cup - save for another use) tomato juice or V-8
  • 2 t. vinegar
  • 1-2 T. oregano
  • 1 package lasagna noodle
  • shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, etc!)
Brown hamburger and onion. Add garlic powder, soup, juice, vinegar and oregano. Simmer for 30 minutes. Grease one 9 x 13 pan or two 8 x 8 pans. Layer noodles, cottage cheese, hamburger mix and shredded cheese three times (as shown in pictures). Cover with tinfoil. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half. Remove foil and bake for another half hour. Let stand 15 minutes to "set."

~Can be frozen - just don't bake before hand
~Grease tinfoil so the cheese doesn't stick to the top
~put on a rimmed cookie sheet to catch potential drips (and save you from cleaning the oven!!)

and Foodie Friday

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Leftover Grilled Meat...

When we grill out, we like to make an excess of meat. We do this for a number of reasons: to eat from for the rest of the week, for freezer meals and for "make-overs." 

We LOVE to "makeover our leftovers" and grilled meat is an easy way to do this! Our favorite is to cook steak or hamburger to medium rare on the day that we grill. On the day that we make-it-over, we melt some butter in a skillet and saute mushrooms, onions and garlic and then toss the steak or burgers in.
We also enjoy doing this same thing with leftover veggies - YUM!!

Linked with WFMW

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hummingbird Feeder Tips

We have always loved feeding and watching hummingbirds.

Here are a few tips:

~make your own food with 4 parts hot water and 1 part sugar

~extra food (homemade or bought) can be stored in the refrigerator

~if bees bother your feeder, rub a little EVOO around the holes - the humming birds will still come, but the slippery surface will deter the bees

~in warm (hot!) weather, clean and refill feeder every-other-day

Linked with Homemaker Monday

Friday, June 11, 2010

Honey Mustard

As we strive to keep things as cheap as possible around here, we eat out less. The kids still love their chicken nuggets though (I'm working on a home-made nugget recipe - if anyone has a super one, let me know!!), so occasionally we buy the frozen ones.

The only problem: we couldn't find an adequate substitute for the honey mustard dip. Until we found this: Newman's Own makes a wonderful honey-mustard dressing. We love taste of this and even the hubby and I use it on homemade chicken wraps!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Single-Serve Veggie Pizzas

A good friend and I came up with this version of a popular recipe. Veggie pizza is usually a dish that you make to take with you to a function - because let's face it, you don't want to end up having to eat the whole pan by yourself!!

We were at a stamp-club meeting in December where one of the other members had brought veggie pizza. But, instead of assembling it, she only made the crust and put the cream cheese mixture on - she served all the veggies and cheese on the side. I LOVED this idea, because it is friendly to everyone!

So, after some talking, we wanted a healthier version that would keep longer than a day or two.

Here's what we came up with: Sandwich Thins! These are SO MUCH more calorie friendly than crescent rolls - and two small "pizzas" make a nice meal. The cream cheese mixture (I use 1 cup cream cheese, 1 cup  sour cream, 3/4 cup mayo (all low-fat), 3 T. Ranch Dressing mix, 1 t. dill weed) and the veggies and cheese can all be put in containers and be pulled out when ready to assemble. Easy!!

Another option: use a tortilla shell, spread a small amount of the cream cheese mixture and load with veggies - roll and eat like a burrito - yum!

and What's on the Menu and Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Drying swimsuits

Our children LIVE in the pool in the summertime. Our easy tip for drying out their swimsuits is this: a shepherds hook! We have this anchored right by the steps coming into the house. As soon as the children change out of their suits, they take them right back out and "throw" them on the hook - even the five-year old!

Of course, if it's raining....then we do THIS instead! 

Hamburger Press

Summertime = grilling in our house! The whole family loves hamburgers and cheeseburgers. To make preparation easier, I use my Tupperware patty press. This makes great 1/4 pounds (or bigger!) burgers.

The burgers come out uniform in size, cook evenly and by the time they "shrink" they are the perfect size for a bun!

Don't forget to check out the Flavor-Up post for different ideas to flavor your burgers!  

Linked with Tempt My Tummy

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pillowcase Dress

The simple pillowcase dress. I have been wanting to make these since the "baby" was born. Um, yeah - that was TWO YEARS ago!! (which is what happens when you have more than enough clothes - you don't NEED to make them, thus, you don't.)

This past weekend though, after finding some cute pillowcases (which served better as jammies, due to the cotton being so thin) and some adorable material...I sat down and whipped up half a dozen of these cute dresses!

Imagine my surprise when on I came upon this title, "DIFOP: Using Pillow Cases to Dress the Poor" over at Kristen's site (We are THAT family! Blog). Of course, I had to click over and take a look. I was so impressed with Kristen's idea that I had to mention it here.

Her goal is to "do-it-for-other-people" (DIFOP) one time a month for the whole year. She would love to ship 100 of these dresses via Little Dresses for Africa in July.

You are welcome to use their dress pattern - only four steps!!! I sewed mine very similar, only  I skipped the elastic and ran the ribbon all the way through - if you do it this way, be sure to sew a stich or two in the middle of the casing to keep the ribbon from coming out of the casing.

So, who's in?

My personal goal is to send Kristen 10 dresses (I feel that her goal of 100 dresses will be MUCH MORE!!)

and Homemaker Monday and Motivate Me Monday

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quick Makeover, Part One

My mother always tried to stress to me that it's the little things in life.

This series is going to focus on precisely that!

An easy, quick makeover for light switches: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Go from dirty, grimy (remember, I have 5 kids!!) to shiny clean in seconds.
We have also painted, stenciled, decoupaged and wallpapered them...quick, easy and fun makeovers! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Up-cycled receiving blankets

These are some cute receiving blankets that I found while cleaning out the master bedroom. They are the "newborn size" so, in my opinion, they are only good for the first two months or so....or until baby gets to be about 10 pounds.

In the end, I opted to keep the multi-colored bear blanket on the left so the girls would have an extra blanket for their babies.

The pink blanket was cut into eighths, with the edges surged....I like to slightly singe the ends with a lighter to keep the thread from unraveling. 

The other two blankets were quartered and then surged.

We use these Up-cycled receiving blankets for many different things: as a buffer between an ice pack and skin, wash rags and hankies - to name a few!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Toddler-sized door handle

A few years ago, we realized that (our then 4 year old) wasn't shutting the screen door when going outside because she couldn't pull it shut. As seen in the picture, the "adult handle" (near the top/middle of the picture - the rectangular piece of metal) is quite high. Combined with the fact that the patio door is over 20 years old, extra-large and would cost thousands of dollars to custom order - we had to come up with a solution - or deal with her letting bugs in!

The cute handle (black, halfway between floor and adult handle) was our solution. These are simple  cupboard-door handles - one mounted inside and one mounted on the outside - at just the perfect height for a toddler!  Although the four year old is now almost six and no longer uses this handle - our (almost) two year old opens the door AND closes it behind her.

Now....if we could only teach her to tie out the dog instead of letting him just run loose....