Saturday, February 28, 2009

Super Savings Saturday: CVS and Meijer

It was a fairly quiet week for us in terms of shopping and deals. We made a trip to Meijer early in the week to do our grocery shopping. We spent $67.75 and saved $32.82 for a savings of about 33 percent. I made a quick stop at CVS and bought the following items for $0.43 oop after coupons and ECBs. I earned $7 more in ECBs.

For more stories of saving, check out Super Savings Saturday!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cora's Playground Project

Lots of wonderful Etsy sellers are coming together to help honor the memory of a sweet little baby named Cora Paige who recently lost her battle with cancer. Read the article about this movement, and check out some of the darling things being offered!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Praise Baby Giveaway

Stop over at the Praise Baby blog to enter their contest! They are giving away 10 copies of the Praise Baby "Sleepytime Lullabies" CD. All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered to win. To get an extra entry, blog or twitter about the giveaway and then leave a second comment. Don't wait, though, because the giveaway ends Friday, February 27!

Reading Theme Challenge: If You Give a Pig a Pancake

Cinnamon Apple Pancakes
Photo by jslander

This week's reading theme challenge at Teaching Tiny Tots is If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff. My daughter and I enjoyed reading this book together! Instead of pancakes, we enjoyed waffles for dinner on Feb. 24 - National Pancake Day.

I decided to do a pancake themed storytime for my toddlers and preschoolers at the library this week, also. Here are the other pancake books I found!

Mr. Wolf's Pancakes by Jan Fearnley

Hey Pancakes! by Tamson Weston

Round is a Pancake by Joan Sullivan Baranski

The Pancake Day by Foster and Erickson

Curious George Makes Pancakes by Margret and H.A. Rey

In addition to sharing these books, we enjoyed a few fun pancake rhymes and songs from TheBestKidsBooksite - Pancakes theme. If You Give the Virtual Vine also has some cute activities to accompany the book. The last thing we did at storytime was focus on phonological awareness by playing a letter "P" guessing game. I gave the kids clues, and they had to guess what letter "P" word I was describing. The words I used were: popcorn, pizza, pig, pumpkin, pancake, and pie.

I had a lot of fun with this theme and my little one liked the book (and the waffles!), too!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Spring color
Photo by Randy OHC

Lent, or the 40 days before Easter, begins today. My husband always gives up chocolate (this is a true sacrifice for him), and I do as well, as a support to him. Our church does a daily prayer ministry. Each person takes a Lenten devotional and the names of three families in our church. We commit to praying for these three families each day during Lent, and then contact the families at the end via phone, mail, or in-person. I have always looked forward to finding out who was praying for me. I haven't decided if there is something else I would like to commit to for Lent: giving something up, committing to a new endeavor, or trying to do a better job with something I'm already doing. What do you plan to do to prepare during this season of Lent?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CJ's Craft Corner: New Items

My mom has a shop at Etsy called CJ's Craft Corner. I run the online shop and she is the crafter. You may have seen a link to her shop in my right sidebar. Some of her most popular items are her wool dryer balls. I first saw wool dryer balls at the homespun heart, and showed my mom the tutorial listed there. I use them, and they work great!

A new item that she has just listed is this tea wallet. (The first one she listed sold in less than a day!) I also found this idea through the homespun heart. If you can sew, you can try making these using the tutorial here at Christy's Creations.

Monday, February 23, 2009

WHO Bread: Take 2

I mentioned the acoustic (non-bread machine) recipe for WHO Bread in my 2008 favorite recipe round-up. I was so excited to receive this Sunbeam Bread Machine for Valentine's Day from my parents! I've already made three loaves of bread in it and I love it! (This is probably not a good thing for my goal to maintain my weight this year...but I did give one of the loaves to a friend!) Today's recipe was the bread machine version of WHO Bread. It turned out great! Since I have this awesome new breadmaker, what recipes should I try? Are there any must-have bread machine books?

For lots of delicious recipes, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

For more great ideas, visit I Am Blissfully Domestic!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frugal Friday: Paperback Swap

Several months ago, I listed a bunch of books, CDs, etc. on Amazon Seller Central. I had read a post on a blog (surprise, surprise!) that said this was an easy way to make a few extra dollars while getting rid of some items that were no longer needed. This has been pretty successful for me, as we have been able to sell about half of the items we listed. After awhile, I still had a shelf of books waiting to be sold. I was trying to decide what to do with them when I read Amy's post on MomAdvice about Fun & Free Resources for Book Lovers. After reading some of the choices, I decided to give Paperback Swap a try.

Esentially, for each book that you "swap" or send to someone else, you get a credit to use to select a book from Paperback Swap's listings of books available (and there are a lot!). You pay for shipping for the books you mail to other members, but then the books you request are sent to you for free. At the beginning, you can also earn a credit or two for listing a specific number of books, even before you send one out.

So far, I've sent out 4 books and received 3. While this is not completely free, I love the idea of being able to send books that I no longer need that might be helpful or enjoyable for someone else. I know that I enjoy receiving books in the mail, also! Have any of you tried Paperback Swap or another similar service? How have you liked it?

For more frugal tips, check out Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Friday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading Theme Challenge: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More

This week's reading theme challenge at Teaching Tiny Tots is I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) by Karen Beaumont. This is a new book to me! Unfortunately, my library's copy of the book is missing, so I have the book on request. We will read it when it comes in! The rhyming text in this book makes it wonderful for teaching phonological awareness, though.

I decided to try this idea for edible finger paints from Blissfully Domestic. Instead of yogurt, we used tinted vanilla pudding. Here are some pictures of the prep and the "finished" product. My LO (15 months) didn't know what to think of this activity, but I will definitely try again. She seemed to like "painting" on her high chair tray instead of the paper.
Here are a few more sites that incorporate the book or painting theme with additional information, books, and related activities:

Includes questions, biographical information about the author and illustrator, additional book titles, and links to other activities.

This site includes some great resources and lesson plans that would work for older (school-age) children reading this book.

There are suggestions for books, fingerplays, songs, and crafts to go with the painting theme of this story.

I'll update when we finally get the book and get a chance to read it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Storytime Fun: Jan Brett

For this week's storytime, I want to highlight one of my favorite authors and illustrators - Jan Brett. Jan Brett's artwork in her books is absolutely amazing. The illustrations are intricate and life-like. Even better, she makes an astounding number of resources available for free to teachers, parents, and librarians.

If you click on the "Activities" link on her web site, you will be taken to different printable resources to use with your kids. From coloring pages to flash cards to masks, there are many wonderful quality resources that are seasonal and that connect with Jan Brett's books.

A few of my favorite Jan Brett books include:

You can sign up to receive email updates that will notify you when new items are added to her web site.

For more Jan Brett check out:

Scholastic: Jan Brett Author Study

Jan Brett - Web English Teacher

What are your favorite activities from Jan Brett's web site? Do you have a favorite Jan Brett book?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On My Bookshelf

Camdyn's colorful bookshelf!
Photo by

I don't have a lot of actual books I'm reading this week, but I am looking at lots of magazines. A few I've been reading: Weight Watchers, Good Housekeeping, and All You. I also received a new Joyce Meyer book called In Pursuit of Peace: 21 Ways to Conquer Anxiety, Fear, and Discontentment (Meyer, Joyce) from Paperback Swap (I'll post about Paperback Swap later this week - I have been enjoying using this site!). I am looking forward to delving into this book. Also, I am working on reading Bud, Not Buddy (Readers Circle (Laurel-Leaf)) by Christopher Paul Curtis for my tween book discussion this month. What is on your bookshelf this week? Any titles I need to read?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Target Clearance Deal!

I love the Simply Shabby Chic line of home decor items at Target. A few months ago, I spotted the Shabby Chic Kids line at our local Target. I thought it would be perfect for our daughter's "big girl" room - which is still several months down the road. I saw the bedding go 30% off, so I have been watching it carefully, stalking it even, to see if I could get it at 75% off. I am thrilled to report this paid off! This morning after church we went in to get Valentine's clearance and they had one bedding set 75% off - regular $79.99 for $19.99 and one set of "Dream" letters 75% off - regular $29.99 for $7.49! The set even matches the light blue walls in her room. I am so excited! I may see if DH will put the "Dream" letters up now instead of waiting. If you like Simply Shabby Chic, check out your store for these clearance deals!

For a great little girl's bedroom makeover on the cheap, check out "Big Girl Room on a Budget" at MomAdvice.

For more savings, check out Super Savings Saturday!

For more, check out I Am Blissfully Domestic!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Storytime Fun: Valentine's Day Reading Theme Challenge

I am enjoying participating in Teaching Tiny Tot's weekly Reading Theme Challenge and decided to combine it with my storytime post for the week. My LO and I read the book Guess How Much I Love You by Sam Mcbratney and Anita Jeram. She enjoyed the book. We sang a couple of songs about love - "Skidamarink" and "I'm a Little Valentine". Then, I printed a coloring page and a set of love coupons from the Guess How Much I Love You Activity Kit available for free download (This is a 10-page PDF file.) Finally, we found a cute handprint poem here that I am hoping to have her "illustrate" for Valentine's Day.

Here are a few other books I used for my storytimes this week:

There are so many fabulous resources for Valentine's Day songs, fingerplays, and activities. A few I like are:

Be My Valentine

Valentine's Day at the Virtual Vine

Perry Public Library Happy Valentine's Day

Jan Brett Be My Valentine

Check out I Am Blissfully Domestic for lots of other great Valentine's Day ideas!

Frugal Beauty Favorites

I'll admit it...I love beauty products. Makeup, shampoo, lotion...I could go on and on. I am frugal, so there are always price limits on the products I try. With coupons and ECBs and other drugstore deals, I can get lots of these products for cheap or free and I enjoy trying out new things. I am going to do my best to give you a list of my make that six favorite frugal beauty products. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30 - $8.99
This moisturizer doesn't irritate my sensitive skin and provides good sun protection.
2. Avon Magix Face Perfector SPF 20 - $10 but regularly on sale for $5
This product is like a primer and makes the rest of my makeup stay on even better.
3. Loreal True Match Super Blendable Foundation - $10.95 (I have gotten this on sale, with coupons, for much cheaper.)
I have very fair, yellow-toned skin and this is the only foundation I've ever been able to find that doesn't leave a line on my jaw. Lots of colors make it easy to find a good match.
4. Revlon ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow Quad - $6.99
The quad I am using right now is 04 Sandstorm. The shadows go on smoothly, blend easily, and stay on through the day.
5. Avon Glazewear Lipgloss - $6.00
Honestly, I prefer lipgloss over lipstick. I like the feel of it better and Glazewear comes in a variety of shades. They stay on well and often go on sale for $1.99!
6. Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper LipSmacker - $1.75
I replace my tube of this almost every year and always have it in my purse. It has just a touch of sheer red color and a bit of gloss.

If I had to pare down my collection, these would be my definite keepers. I am still on the hunt for just the right inexpensive blush...any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recommended Reading: Bakerella

Last week, I found this fun baking site called Bakerella. I've only looked through some of the recent posts, but in addition to some really fabulous, intricate baked goods, there are some yummy looking simple ones, too. We have a chocolate social coming up at church this weekend, and I want to try making these Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies or these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies. Yum!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meijer Shopping Week of 2/9

I made a quick Meijer run this week. First, I looked at Mommy Snacks and Bargain Briana to find the best deals at Meijer. Here are a few of the best deals I got:

Sargento Cheese Sticks - 1/2 price @ $2.43 - $0.40 Q (doubled) = $1.63
Softsoap - $0.99 - $0.35 Q (doubled) = $0.29
Chex Mix - $1 - $0.50 Q (doubled) = FREE
Betty Crocker Frosting - $1 - $0.50 Q (doubled) = FREE
Skippy Peanut Butter - $1.25 - $0.40 Q (doubled) = $0.45
Progresso Soup - $1.25 - $1.10 Internet printable = $0.15

Another great deal: All clearance clothing, shoes, and accessories were an additional 50% off. I picked up a few things.
  • A short-sleeved sleep T-shirt for $1.60
  • A pair of jean for mydaughter for $2.80
  • A floral hoodie for me for $4.25
  • A pair of black heeled shoes for me for $6.25

Total spent: $46.79

Total saved: $90.55

If you have a Meijer store near you, leave me a comment if your clothing clearance is an extra 50% off. I'm curious if this is regional or chainwide. Happy shopping!

Recipe: Spiced Applesauce Muffins

I have a lot of applesauce in the house right now and had been wanted to try these muffins after seeing them in the February/March 09 Country Woman magazine. The recipe was super simple! I chose to omit a few ingredients, but the muffins turned out great. I topped them with a cinnamon and sugar mixture as well. Then I froze some to use for quick snacks and breakfasts. Here's the recipe:

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

1/2 C softened butter

1/2 C sugar

1/4 C packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 C unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1-1/4 C all-purpose flour

3/4 C graham cracker crumbs

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 C chopped walnuts

1/2 C raisins

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Stir in applesauce and vanilla.

2. Combine flour, cracker crumbs, cinnamon, baking soda, and allspice; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in walnuts and raisins.

3. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Yield 1 dozen.

Enjoy! What is your favorite muffin recipe?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Super Savings Saturday: Children's Place and CVS

This was a pretty quiet week for us shopping wise. We just made a quick trip to Meijer to pick up a few odds and ends. For us, the ad wasn't great this week, so we stuck to the necessities and will use what's in the freezer and pantry this week.

Early in the week, I stopped at CVS and picked up 4 Glade candles and some chocolate that I had coupons for. My total OOP was $0.29 - I used $9 ECBs and earned $5 this week. Also, I had the opportunity to try and qualify for 2 CVS surveys this week. I qualified for one and earned $10 ECBs that will print on my receipt next week. If you aren't a member of the CVS Advisor Panel, check it out and see if you want to join. I haven't gotten a lot of survey opportunities, but it is worth it to get the occasional survey and earn additional ECBs.

The other fun thing I received this week was our recent Children's Place Monster Sale order. I was able to get several items to save for later this spring or next fall for my daughter. This is what I got:
  • Bodysuit
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Long-sleeved T-shirt
  • Fleece hoodie
  • Velour top and matching pants
  • Black tights

Total cost: $23.83

For more savings stories, check out Super Savings Saturday!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reading Theme Challenge: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This week, the reading theme challenge book at Teaching Tiny Tots is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. This is a favorite of mine (I love Bill Martin and Lois Ehlert!) but I haven't read it in awhile. I decided to give this a try even though my daughter is only 15 months old. She loved the book! She really enjoys music and was dancing a little bit to the "chorus" part of the book. She also tried to chime in on the "Boom Boom" part! We've read the book twice already and will definitely read it again before taking it back to the library.

Because she is fairly young, we didn't do a lot of activities with the book, but we did sing the "ABC" song and talked about some of the letters and their corresponding sounds.

I found some cute alphabet ideas to go with the story at these sites:

Alphabet Theme
I thought the lacing letters and the alphabet breadsticks looked like fun!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at Little Giraffes
The celery trees and letter discovery bottles are great ideas!

KinderKorner ABC Theme
The coconut tree song looks fun!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Unit
The powerpoint here looks awesome and the cookies look delicious!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Book Break
There are some fun coloring pages and crafts here.

Recipe: Molten Chocolate Cakes

We had my parents over to eat on Super Bowl Sunday and I made this dessert. It is super simple and tastes really great!

Molten Chocolate Cakes - Courtesy of Kraft

Prep Time: 15 min Total Time: 30 min
Makes: 8 servings, one half molten cake each

4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips.)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter four 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflĂ© dishes. Place on baking sheet. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.

Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately, topped with whipped topping.

I used large muffin cups to make these and they turned out well. We didn't have whipped topping and they still were yummy!

For more recipes, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Financial Goals Check Up

We have already finished one month of 2009! Here are the financial goals we set for 2009 and how we are doing with them...

1. Reduce gift spending by approximately 1/3, but not our gift giving.
We have been able to buy many gifts ahead this month by shopping a variety of clearance sales. I have a nice stash of gifts up in our gift closet, so I think we have a solid start working on this goal.

2. Continue to prepay mortgage.
We were excited when we received our most recent mortgage bill - we have paid down enough extra on our mortgage that our PMI has been removed from the bill. This will allow us to prepay even more on our mortgage because we will continue to pay the same amount we have been even though the bill is smaller.

3. Create a CD ladder for savings.
We finally made it into the bank and opened one CD. It's not a ladder, but it's a start!

4. Continue to save for daughter's college fund and general savings account.
The same day we went into the bank for the CD, we put our daughter's money into a savings account. We also were able to save a (small) additional amount in her college savings for January.

How are you doing on your 2009 goals so far? Check out Money Saving Mom for others' monthly check-ups!

Recipe: Double Treat Cookies

I've done some baking over the last week and wanted to share a couple of my favorite recipes. The first is a cookie recipe called "Double Treat Cookies". I honestly don't remember where I got this recipe, but here it is:

2 C flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C solid shortening
1 C granulated sugar
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C peanut butter
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugars; add eggs; beat until fluffy. Blend in vanilla, then peanut butter. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape dough into small balls; flatten balls with a glass that has been dipped in granulated sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes o until golden brown.

These cookies always come out nicely shaped and freeze well. They make a lot - this recipe yielded 5 dozen cookies for me. I also added some peanut butter chips I had in my pantry. Do you have a recipe like this one? Can you remember where it came from?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On My Bookshelf

I'm enjoying writing these weekly book posts, because it allows me a record of the books I read. I'm hoping it gives me an idea of how many books I read this year! I would love to hear what you are reading, so I can check out some other great titles. So, on my bookshelf this week..

Until We Reach Home By Lynn Austin

This title is another historical/inspirational fiction story. Three orphaned sisters travel from Sweden to the United States to make a new life for themselves. I think this book creates a fairly realistic picture of the difficulties immigrants faced in coming to this country.

Multiple Blessings By Jon Gosselin, Kate Gosselin, and Beth Carson

I've had this book on request for several weeks and it finally came in last week. I'm just getting started on it, but am enjoying it so far. I'm surprised that I like it because I typically am not a nonfiction book reader.

Indian in the Cupboard By Lynne Reid Banks

This is our book discussion book for my tween book group at the library this week. The book is a fantasy story and is quite humorous and engaging. I would recommend it for the 3-5 grade age group.

What books are on your bookshelf this week?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Recommended Reading: Work From Home Jobs

I came across this Yahoo article about 10 Companies Hiring for Work From Home. It looks like a good list to start looking for WAH opportunities. I have heard of many of these companies in other information about legit work from home opportunities. I have been doing some tutoring with Brainfuse and it has worked out well. What experiences have you had working from home? Are you familiar with any of these companies?

Storytime Fun: The Mail's Here!

I don't know about you, but I love to get the mail! With Valentine's Day approaching, sometimes the mailman brings some fun cards and letters. The excitement of getting something special in the mail is what inspired this storytime!

Marcus and the Mail: the Sound of M By Joanne Meier and Cecilia Minden
This book focuses on the sound of the letter "m" while telling about a boy named Marcus who gets some special mail.

Bunny Mail By Rosemary Wells
This darling story is a Max and Ruby lift-the-flap book. Max tries to write a letter to Santa, but the mailman has trouble reading Max's letters.

Love and Kisses, Kitty By Max Haynes
This simple lift-the-flap book shows kitty making Valentines for all of her animal friends!

A Letter to Amy By Ezra Jack Keats
This is another charming story by the author and illustrator of The Snowy Day.

Fingerplays, Songs, and Activities

When I taught Kindergarten, the students loved to write "letters". Save all of the junk mail envelopes, notepads, stickers, and address labels you receive. Set out some crayons, markers, and pencils, and let your kids "write" their own letters. This will even work for preschoolers who are not writing yet.

Mail Carrier Theme Station
Many different songs, activities, and fingerplays about mail and mailmen are available at this site.

Valentine's Theme
Visit this site for many more books, songs, and fingerplays!

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