Nov 7, 2011

Hospital Moving Boxes

In honor of a big move that my family is making to Utah, I thought I would share a great little moving tip. I was once told by my friend Becca that a fabulous way to get moving boxes is to call your local hospital. If you ask, she says they will set them aside for you and actually appreciate you taking them off their hands.

Good to know, eh.

Nov 1, 2011

DIY Cake Plate

I was admiring all of the cake plates with yummy desserts on them at a baby shower I recently attended. For some reason I haven't acquired a single one in my married life! At the end of the evening I was still chatting away while decorations were coming down and my friend Jessica started to dismantle her cake plates. I did a double take and asked her what she was doing. She was surprised at my curiosity and thought everyone knew how to make them. A few other girls around chimed in and were just as interested as I was.

Cake Plates can apparently be created with a candle holder, any plate of your choice, and what she called "sticky stuff". I'm still not sure what "sticky stuff" really is called but it is blue and she said it can be purchased at Walmart (she said her mom used to even hang things on her walls with it).

I actually snagged the pic from above at because I haven't created my own yet. She creates her DIY cake plates by gluing them with a glue gun. You can Click Here to see her step by step instructions. But I must say I like the idea of using "sticky stuff" so that it's not a permanent fix.

Pretty cool!

Sep 12, 2011

What's Your Tone?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the everyday "tone" that I use with my family. You know, that special voice you use for your kids or your husband or any family member you live with versus the way you speak to your friends or strangers. I think it all hit home for me when we had our parents stay with us and help out for a few weeks after baby #4 arrived. I noticed that my tone seemed to be much more calm and kind when I knew they were around. Granted, I had been super prego and a little extra grumpy because of it, so perhaps that is why the contrast seemed so apparent (excuses, excuses, I know). 

Since that awakening I've made a real effort to use a warmer tone at home. It helps when I pretend my cell accidentally rang someone and they are listening on the other end (which has happened to me a lot lately).

This will take a lifetime for me to perfect but I think being conscious of it has made a big difference.

Aug 29, 2011

Old School Mixing

I've been told that hand mixing my cookies, batters, or whatever it may be will actually give them better texture and make them taste even better. So, I gave it a whirl and it does seem to make a difference. Linda claims that her husband thought her peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were a different recipe when she hand mixed them. She hasn't been back to her Bosch with that recipe since.

Kind of cool to know! I might add that it can also be a pretty good workout. Give it a go and let us know what you think.

Aug 25, 2011

Guest Post: Frozen Milk

As the mother of two young boys, we go through a lot of milk. I was tired of making multiple trips to the grocery store every week, but our fridge only held two gallons comfortably. A friend of mine recommended buying extra gallons and freezing them in our freezer in the garage. It works like a charm! 

I've found the squarish jugs from Costco work best because they have extra head room that allows for expansion when the milk freezes. Now if I see I'm going to run out of milk, I can just grab an extra gallon out of the freezer the night before I need it. This saves me tons of time and aggravation! 

Brooke, Oregon

Aug 22, 2011

Bed Sheet to Beach Blanket

We had an incredibly fun vacation in Newport Beach this year. Seriously, could that place be any more dreamy? While we were setting up our towels and whatnot on the beach I looked over to see my sister Mari laying out one of the hotel sheets for her family to hang out on. What!? How I envied their little cotton island. I was sure to copy her and take a bed linen from then on. It was especially great for my little baby who needed more room than a towel offered.

Jul 19, 2011

The Spritz

There we were, in the middle of Amish country, walking in hot and humid weather. Out of nowhere Linda whips out a blue spray bottle and starts asking the whining, overheated and tired children if they want a spray. Sullen faces came to life and hunched over shoulders perked up as they each took turns getting sprayed with this glorious water.

Linda says she always carries one with her when they go on little trips or outings in the summer. I say, bring on the spritz!

Jul 13, 2011

Picture Perfect

I've got to chalk this one up to Martha Stewart. I happened upon a tv show where she was giving advice on how to hang things on walls without making millions of nail holes. Something I've admittedly done way too many times. Her advice has saved me lots of time and walls, especially when something needs to be hung by two hangers placed unevenly on either side. Here's how it's done:

1. Trace the object onto paper & cut it out.
 2. Punch a little hole exactly where the nail needs to be. A mechanical pencil works wonders. Then write "wall side" so that you know which side of the paper must go against the wall. If I'm doing a grouping of frames, I also number or name them to remember which paper goes to which frame.
3. Hang the paper where you want it, making sure it is level.
4. Hammer nails into the premade holes on the paper.
5. Take the paper away, Hang your object...and...perfection!

Jul 9, 2011

Baby Pool Beachside

My family vacations in Newport Beach and my mom brought along a plastic baby pool one year for the toddlers to splash and play in. Ingenious. The kids who are more timid with the ocean can have just as much fun playing in the water with this, and the adults can keep a better eye on them! The other day a friend of mine mentioned that this could also be set up along side a regular pool for little ones. Smart idea.

Jun 25, 2011

Guest Post: Fried Oil Smell Out Of The Air

My mother-in-law had fried some chicken tenders for dinner--in order to get the oil smell out of the air she boiled a mixture of vinegar and water.

What would we do without our mother's insight.

Amanda, Washington

Jun 20, 2011

"We Have The Power" -NieNie

I was having an overwhelming stay-at-home-mom morning. I was tired, feeling defeated, and in no mood to cheerfully deal with my bambinos. I could feel myself drowning in my own negativity when the wise words of Stephanie Nielson, author of the NieNie Dialogues Blog, popped into my head...

After waking up feeling pretty horrible about herself she happened upon all of her kids peacefully and happily asleep together and says, "It felt like a big gust of fresh air blowing into my face. Immediately I felt better, then I vowed to change the way the day would start. Because I believe we can do that. We have the power."

I took her words to heart at that moment, admittedly pleaded for a little help from above, then chose to put on a smile and find the good in my day. Hey, it worked! There's no denying this is easier said than done, but truth be told we really do have the power to push out the negative and find favor in each day.

Thanks NieNie.

Click Here to read Stephanie's full post, "I Think They Are Pretty Happy".

Jun 17, 2011

Guest Post: Warm Tupperware Lids Fit

My mom was trying to get a tupperware lid on and it didn't fit so she ran it under warm water and tadaa--it fit.

Amanda, Washington

Jun 12, 2011

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

"Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning" is the name of an article that I just read, one so poignant to me.

I have braved it alone to our community pool twice now this summer with four kids, ages 6, 4, 2, & 2ish months. My six year old can swim, my four year old is stellar in floaties, my two year old I have in a puddle jumper life jacket (the one and only toddler floatie anyone should ever buy if you ask me), with the baby watching & sleeping on the sidelines.

My confidence in taking them to the pool has been shaken as I've already had my 4 and 2 year old nearly drown. Both of their incidences were eerily silent & happened in a split second. My four year old didn't have his floaties on (mind you, I was right there), and I looked down at him in the water to see his arms straight out and his chin under the water with water bobbing in and out of his mouth and his eyes staring blankly up at me. I quickly asked if he was ok and he didn't respond. I acted quickly and helped him get to where he could stand. It wasn't until I read this article tonight that I realize he was drowning. Then just this past weekend my husband and I had finished feeding our kids lunch when they went running for the pool. Our 2 year old jumped in without either of us knowing, before we had put her puddle jumper back on. My husband saw the top of her head in the water and jumped in to save her. Talk about too close for comfort.

I think everyone should read this article as it points out the drowning is incredibly quiet, that the person is usually vertical in the water-unable to talk-with part of their head above the water, and that it happens when caretakers and others aren't far. Hopefully this article will help us all to have a safe and fun summer at the pool!

Click Here to read "Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning" in its entirety.

Below is a picture of the Puddle Jumper Life can be purchased on Amazon or sometimes at your local Target. My two year old can swim by herself in this, or at least she insists she do it alone being the independent little thing she is.

May 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Goodness

I don't have a great memory but I can vividly remember my Grandma Barbara's cooked wheat. It was a staple in her home, used for breakfast any way you liked it...with your cold cereal, warmed with brown sugar or anything else you wanted to throw in.
It's something I've been wanting to have in my own house and when my mom recently came to visit she brought her whole wheat grains and cooked some up! I was thrilled to finally know how to make it and it couldn't be easier:

I cup whole wheat grain to 2 cups of water. Cook it in a crock pot on low for about 6 hours and you've got yourself some whole wheat goodness.

This stuff will keep your system flourishing.

Apr 18, 2011

Guest Post: Kid's Kitchen Drawer

In order to simplify my life and give my kids some independence I moved my kids dishes to a drawer they could reach. My kids can get in the drawer whenever they need a drink of water, a plate for a snack, or help me set the table. Also one of the jobs they have is to help me unload my dishwasher--having the drawer reachable allows them to put all the 'kid dishes' away for me.
Amanda, Arkansas

Apr 11, 2011

Guest Post: Tackle The Mess With A Tackle Box

I looked and looked for a jewelry box that I liked and didn't find anything that I thought would work for me. I don't wear tons of jewelry, but have enough that one big box didn't do the trick. I knew that I just wanted a place for everything to go.

That is when I realized that a cheap tackle box would do exactly what I needed. (Please don't use mine as the best example of how it can be used because it is currently a mess in this picture.) That was just the beginning! You can use them to sort beads, embroidery thread, buttons, kids hair accessories, sewing utilities, junk drawers, and more! A great cheap solution to a lot of little items.
Amanda, Arkansas

Apr 4, 2011

Guest Post: Let The Show Begin!

My girls love to dress up and perform. Instead of spending a lot of money and making a big tadoo stage, my husband made a cheap removable set of curtains. I can put them up when the girls have a show and take them down when they are done. I LOVE to put things away!

2 old sheets, thin blankets, or shower curtains
2 eye hooks
shower hooks
2 carabiners
Screw the eye hooks into the walls (These are permanent, but we just painted over them so they weren't very noticeable.) Sew button holes into the tops of the sheets. Loop shower hooks through holes and slip onto sting. Tie end of string to the carabiners. Turn off your cell phones and enjoy the show!
Amanda, Arkansas

Mar 28, 2011

Guest Post: Baby Powder Sand Remedy

This summer when at the lake or the beach, when you are done playing in the sand, use baby powder to clean the sand off of your kids.
Dry off as much as possible to use less baby powder. Use on arms, legs, toes, hair, wherever there is sand. The baby powder absorbs the moisture to let the sand fall off your body. Use a little on your towel and shake sand off or some in your beach shoes.
Works like a charm and saves your car and house from the sand. It's great!
Rachelle, Arkansas

Mar 25, 2011

Taming Your Digital Photo Albums

I called my sister-in-law Linda in a panic yesterday needing some digital photo advice. I have a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old, a two-year old, and a newborn about to appear. Sadly, the only photo album I've created is my 6 year-old's 1 year album and I've felt compelled to get caught up and create a little keepsake for each child when the new baby arrives.

Once I saw the cost of printing over 500 pictures for just one of my children, I panicked and knew I needed help paring it down. Linda gave some stellar advice to pick no more than 7 photos per kid, per month of their life. I LOVED this advice and it really helped me to go back through and focus on the most important pics. She also suggested picking just one or two pictures to represent their birthdays and vacations and other special holidays. Mind you, these photo albums are being created for the kids to keep, different from a family album where you would display a few more holiday pics and whatnot.

It seems that in this digital photo age we can really find ourselves overwhelmed and overdoing it when it comes to family photo albums. Thought maybe this advice could help others who are trying to create photo keepsakes for their families. Happy editing!

Mar 18, 2011

Guest Post: Inexpensive Decorative Cork Board

I am always looking for more places to put my kids art projects--really what mom isn't? I wanted to be able to put them up on the wall easily but wanted it to look nice in the room.

You can take any frame into Hobby Lobby and they will put the cork into the frame. (Just like they were framing a picture.) So easy and it doesn't take them very long. Pick out a frame--But wait until they are 50% at Hobby Lobby---and ask them to add the cork in the middle. I did this white one awhile ago, but I don't think it cost me more than $25.

Amanda, Arkansas

Mar 12, 2011

Guest Post: Sleep In Solution

Saturday and Sunday mornings my husband and I always wanted to sleep in but I didn't trust my young kiddos to get their own breakfast. If they could have their cereal and Dora, then we could get another 1/2 hour of sleep.

I didn't worry about the plastic dishes or the cereal they could get from the pantry--it was the gallon of milk I didn't want to see all over my kitchen floor. I realized my kids could pour the milk if it wasn't so heavy and found this easy solution at the store, a small pouring container. I never fill it up all the way-usually about 3/4 full so all my kids can have some. Also place it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Enjoy the extra 1/2 hour of sleep!

Amanda, Arkansas

Mar 3, 2011

Not So Natural

I recently purchased a copy of the new 2011 edition of the book Eat This Not That! and was shocked by more than one thing I read. One fact that really caught me off guard was their clarification on the word "natural" currently found on many grocery store packages. Apparently there is nothing natural about the use of the word on any non-meat product. I've always felt so proud of myself when I've bought something with the word "natural" on it thinking that it was a healthier option, but that is not so.

The book states:
This term is used almost entirely at the discretion of food processors. With the exception of meat and poultry products, the USDA has set no definition and imposes no regulations on the use of this term, making it essentially meaningless.

I feel so deceived so I thought I would share this info to help enlighten the rest of us innocent grocery consumers.

However, I must say that the popcorn in the above picture is incredibly tasty and the clever yet hollow verbiage on its package isn't going to stop me from buying this deliciously unhealthy snack. I sort of figured it couldn't be all that healthy if it tasted so dang good!

Feb 23, 2011

Laundry Basket Order

My house is in constant disarray these days. Seriously, I'm not kidding. With my basketball belly impeding me from reaching past my knees and my three bustling children, I can't seem to keep anything in its proper place. The one thing I have found is that when I begin to clean up a room, if I bring along my laundry basket, I am able to keep things in better order. How you ask? Well, basically I fill my basket with anything that doesn't belong in that room (which at my house is often toys) and as I go along I am able to tote it with me and place each item in the appropriate room/spot. I just love all that a laundry basket can be used for!

Feb 12, 2011

Outgrown Dress Reconsidered

For those of you with little ladies running around, I want to let you in on a recent discovery of mine. When your little one outgrows a dress, you can just throw some leggings under it and use it as a top! Dresses can last you up to one more year this way depending on the style and cut. Above is my 23 month old sporting her 12 month old dress as a long top. I think it's pretty dang cute.

Feb 4, 2011

Who Needs A Popper?

My good friend Stephanie informed me the other day that it is possible to pop your own popcorn kernals in a paper bag in the microwave. Well, it seemed to make sense since that's what microwave popcorn is! So I set aside my popper and gave it a go.

I placed 1/4 cup of kernals in a paper bag, rolled the top and sealed it with a bit of masking tape. 1:15 later I had a fluffy bag of perfectly popped kernals. As you can see, the white bag may have started to burn where I folded it, so perhaps a brown bag would be best or don't fold the top more than once?
Nonetheless it came out grand. So cool!

Jan 27, 2011

From Linda's Lips: Whole milk solution

First off--a very happy birthday to Mindy!!!!! You deserve the best day ever!

Back to our post:
As I was making snickerdoodle cupcakes for my sons birthday tomorrow, I realized I had a Lemon Tree idea right in front of me!

I haven't had whole milk in the house on a regular basis since my youngest turned 2. I realized a while back that I hated it when I went to make a recipe and it called for whole milk (think bread, cakes, and sauces) and I didn't have any in the house. I would substitute with a lower fat if I had to, but the taste/texture was never quite the same. And then, there were times when I would by a half gallon of whole milk only to let it go to waste because I never needed it all. Then, one day I realized I had the solution in my pantry the whole time!

The food storage milk we store is whole milk!

I like storing it because really, if I had to live off of powdered milk, whole tastes a whole lot better in my opinion, and the added fat/calories is probably a good idea if you are living off of little food.

Anyway--as I perused my pantry before making my homemade mac-n-cheese a while back I noticed the can of powdered milk! I made it up in a jiffy (3 rounded Tbsp/1 cup of water) and used it instead of using my valuable milk in the fridge--we go through a lot of breakfast cereal around here--and I was so happy because I was rotating my food storage! From then on, whenever a recipe called for whole milk (or large amounts of milk in general) I used my powdered stuff.

You really cannot taste the difference. In fact, it works amazingly well! I get this in the Mexican food section at Walmart.

Try it out! Works in a pinch, or it could become a new favorite thing!

Jan 25, 2011

Free Your Knives

Hello everyone and Happy 2011 to you all! I'm here, I'm growing like an oompaloompa with this kid inside of me, and I'm ready to end my blogging hiatus. I have big plans at the moment to post at least once a week. I know, so ambitious. But for now I think it is a doable and worthy goal. It feels good to be back.

Over the holidays we had lots of family come and visit which made them so much more special, isn't family so great. Leave it to my sis-in-law Linda (yes, the one and the same from Linda's Lips) to teach me even more savvy ways of doing things. One day she turned all of my knives around in my silverware tray to stop them from getting stuck under the wood. I'll admit I thought she was a little crazy at first, but I haven't had a stuck knife since. Thought maybe some of you out there could benefit from this simple little trick.

Jan 18, 2011

From Linda's Lips: Toaster French Toast

One of my kids' favorite breakfasts is French Toast. Unfortunately I don't have the time to make it every time they want it. I had a stroke of genius a while back that is a time saver on school mornings. When I make French Toast on the weekends I make a lot. Like two loaves worth. I try to use whole wheat bread to make it more healthy, but sometimes I cave and make it white. The kids can enjoy all they want for breakfast and then I freeze the rest in storage freezer bags and pop them right into the freezer.The toast hardly sticks together, so pulling it out another day is no problem. On a school morning when I get a request for a hot breakfast instead of cereal, I pull out a couple of pieces of the french toast and pop them in the toaster. The house fills with the yummy cinnamon smell and the toast comes out even better than when they ate it fresh. Nice and crispy on the outside and soft in the center. Sometimes we sprinkle on the powdered sugar and syrup, and other times they just eat it in hand. Here's to breakfast!

Jan 9, 2011

Guest Post: Children's Scrapbook Totes

I love to scrapbook and with 3 other little ladies in the home, they want to be scrapbooking too. I treasure my "stuff" and had been looking for a good way for the kids to be involved without having to check with me every second on what they could and couldn't use. Anyway, I came across these "totes" at Michaels on sale for $5 each and so bought them each their own. I put their names on it and then filled them each with supplies I thought they could use. Their very own tape, stickers, paper, ribbon, brads, a photo album book, etc.

It has worked wonders. Now when one of them wants to scrapbook, they can pull their own tote out and go at it. They don't need to constantly be asking me for supplies. Everything they need is right in their tote. I even print out a bunch of their very own pictures for them to use in their albums. That way, everything is in one place. My oldest daughter even brought her tote to her friend's house the other day and they each worked on their own stuff. It has been so handy and wonderful and makes us all happy.

Marianne, Utah
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