Sunday, September 30, 2012

Halloween Plate

Before my 31 Easy Halloween Crafts and Snacks blog posts start tomorrow, I wanted to share an easy idea you can use at home or to give (along with some homemade goodies) to friends, neighbors, and/or teachers.  I found these plates at the Dollar Tree and got a black paint pen at Wal-Mart for $2.44.  I drew on a Jack-O-lantern face and then added a little Halloween saying.  You can decorate your plate however you want but here's what I came up with...

My 31 Days for the month of October...

 My girls love making things, whether it be a craft or a fun snack.  I always scour the internet and magazines looking for fun but easy things to do with them, especially close to holidays. Many of the things I find are super cute but I need to be Martha Stewart to attempt to make them or have to go buy tons of things that I probably won't be using again just to make them.  Well this year I decided to do 31 EASY snacks and crafts for the month of October with my girls and thought I'd share them with you to enjoy with your little ones!  Some I found on the internet, some I found an idea but changed it around to make it easier, others are ones my children have done at school or that I remember doing as a child or teacher.  I did each and every one of the snacks and crafts with my two girls so if you have any questions, please let me know.  I hope you enjoy and I'd love to hear any feedback!!  Come back tomorrow for Day 1!

*There is a craft later in the month that calls for rectangular tissue boxes (2 per child) so if you want to do that craft, buy the tissues now and use them through the month (there are several crafts this month that need stuffing and tissues can be used) that way you will have empty rectangular boxes ready!

*Next time you buy eggs, get the ones in a cardboard carton.  We will use that in another craft this month.

Overview of the month:
  • 11 activities are snacks 
  • 13 are crafts 
  • 7 are a snack/craft combo 
 Here are a few other Halloween activities if you have elementary age children.  My almost 6 year old has really enjoyed the word searches and both of my daughter's have enjoyed doing the Halloween Mad Libs.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

October is (almost) here...

Well I think we started a monthly thing in our house last month when we found a poem, talked about Fall, and decorated one of the large windows in our living room for Fall.  My girls said they wanted to do it again for October so we found this Pumpkin Poem and used some of the crafts from my 31 days of Halloween Crafts & Snacks blog posts (starting Monday!) to decorate the window with.  We also took the basket, that we put the Fall books in, back to their bedroom and traded those books for Halloween themed books. It was great time well spent with my daughters while their brother napped.  I love when I walk into the living room and the two of them are snuggled into our oversized chair and Harper is reading to Palmer....melts my heart!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's tip of the day...

If you want to declutter the front of your fridge: go buy the magnetic locker organizers, stick one or two on the side of your fridge and put magnets you are not using, pens, invitations, pictures, etc. in them.  They are still in sight so you won't forget about them but just not covering the whole front of your fridge.

I got mine at Target on clearance from the Back to School section.  Yes, they might look a little juvenile but I like them! I have also seen some at Dollar Tree (they were solid colors). So its a totally cheap way to do a little organizing!!

I use the one on the left as storage for the magnets I'm not using at the moment. The one on the right is for the photo invitations and birth announcements my friends send me...I save them all! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So What Wednesday...

Today I am linking up with Life After I "Dew"

So What Wednesday

And I'm saying so what if...
  • I took my daughter to school in my pj's the other least she got there on time.
  • I NEVER iron...if the dryer doesn't get the wrinkles out then oh well.
  • I let my 11 month old play with things he probably shouldn't sometimes...if I have my eye on him and it's keeping him quiet for a few minutes, then I'm all for it.
  • I'm the worst sales lady ever...I still love working for Shaklee.
  • I'm addicted to freezer cooking...haven't had to actually "cook" a meal in months.
  • I get all my clothes from consignment stores...I'm a little addicted to them too.
  • I have had an electric mixer since we got married (8+ yrs ago) and have NEVER used it.  Why you ask...laziness-I don't want to have to clean it or the mess I'm sure I will make with it.  If I can't mix the ingredients by hand, then I'll find another recipe. I count the hand mixing towards my exercising for the day! ha
  •  I vacuum my house several times a week.  Obsessed with clean floors you say...nope I just enjoy 15 minutes without hearing somebody say, "Mommy!"
  • I won't run on the treadmill unless I can watch Netflix on my phone...I mean how boring is running while staring at a wall!?!
  • I am technologically impaired...but I'm still loving being a new blogger.
 What are you saying "So What" to today?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to decorate VERY cheaply

My children's playroom has had bare walls since we moved into this house 6 months ago.  We always have other needs when it comes to our money so I haven't been able to set aside any for decorating.  I knew if I didn't think of a CHEAP idea, our kids would be grown before the playroom got decorated!  I had a stack of book jackets I take off of their hardback books (so they won't get torn) tucked away in the closet and the other day when I saw them a light bulb went off (in my head, not the closet).  I went to Dollar Tree and bought several black frames in different sizes, put the book jackets in them, and hung them up!  It was that easy!  Why hadn't I done this months ago???  I know I'm not the first person to think about this but I was so excited about it, I just had to share.  It's a great, cheap way to decorate a playroom or a child's bedroom and a way to display some of their favorite books.   So my total spent on decorating four bare walls...$10!  And with all the book jackets we have, I can have a theme (like all Dr. Seuss books, holiday books, books from a favorite series, etc) and switch them out periodically and give the room a new look.  What are some of your cheap decorating tips??? I'd love to hear from you!
These are some of the book jackets I framed for the playroom.  I stuck a couple pieces of double sided tape on the back of each book jacket to hold them in place.
Hanging up on the wall...sorry about the glare!

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 things I use dry erase markers for...

I have found several uses for dry erase markers around my house.  They come in all kinds of colors and you can buy them with built in erasers.  (I used a black one in all the pictures I took so it would show up better.) You can buy a pack of them at the Dollar Tree so it's not a great expense.

Use #1:  Do your kids get carsick from looking down to do an activity or do you get tired of finding melted crayons on the floor of your car and in the cracks of the seat??  Well I did so I decided to buy both of my girls a pack of dry erase markers (and a small container to keep them in) and they use the car window beside their seats as their drawing board.  Their markers have an eraser on the lid but if you get the kind that don't, a dry wash cloth works great.  That way, you can throw it in the wash when you need to and the kids won't make a mess like they might by using tissues to erase.

Use #2:  I like to leave my husband notes on the bathroom or bedroom mirrors.  He gets up for work pretty early sometimes and I don't get a chance to see or talk to him before he leaves.  So I wanted to be able to "tell" him to have a good day or remind him of something we need to do that evening without losing any of my beauty sleep...I need all of that I can get!
Use #3:  Do you constantly leave yourself notes? .  I do, otherwise I'll wake up in the middle of the night (because that's always when you remember something you forgot to do, right!?) and it will bug me until its time to get up for the day.  I decided one way to leave myself a note in the laundry room was to use the washer or dryer as my paper.  If I need to remember to take something out of the wash load before throwing it all into the dryer, I write a note.  Or if I am going to be gone and need my hubby to help with the laundry, I leave him a reminder note.  **Our washer and dryer are getting up there in age and have some surface scratches on them that the marker gets smeared into when I wipe off my message.  If yours do too, use an all-purpose cleaner (I use my Shaklee Basic H2 all purpose cleaner) to get all the dry erase marker off.  Also an easy thing to use as an eraser in the laundry room is a used dryer sheet!**
Use #4:  I like to leave my kids notes as reminders and to let them know I'm thinking about them.  My children are still young, so my notes to them are pretty simple.  As they grow older, I'm sure I'll be reminding them to grab their lunchbox or study for a test.  But no matter how big they get, a note of encouragement or an "I love you!" from their old mom will hopefully put a smile on their face.
 Use #5:  This one might make you laugh but yes I really do this!  Let me tell you why...My 11 month old son tends to crawl into the bathroom and throw his pacis into the open toliet.  I have tried and tried to remind my girls to close the lid after they use the potty but they never seem to remember.  Well I decided if they had something funny to look at when they closed the lid that maybe they wouldn't have so much trouble remembering.  So I draw a funny picture on the back of the toliet with my dry erase marker.  They think it's hilarious and have yet to forget to close the lid since I started doing no more pacis have had to go for a swim!  I change the picture once a week so they don't get tired of it and go back to forgetting.  I know this might not be a forever solution to my son getting into the potty but it works for now so I'm going to stick with it!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

11 months

Archer Edmisten Smart is 11 months old today!

Favorite Things:  anything with wheels, being outside, riding the 4 wheeler, Eebee (his comfort blanket)
Things he can do now:  crawls very fast, pulls himself up on anything, walking while holding onto something, clap, pants when you ask him what Jack says (grandparents golden retriever)
What's next:  turning one!, walking, going trick or treating for the first time, getting foods with dairy in them (hopefully), learning & using some signs

We love you Arch!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pumpkin Nut Pound Cake

So I can't really say this is a healthy recipe although I tried where I could.  But since tomorrow is the first day of fall, I had to make and share it with you. Let me know what you think!  Don't forget to follow me on Facebook!

-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
-3/4 cup of softened butter (I used butter made with olive oil & sea salt)
-2 eggs
-1 cup solid packed pumpkin
-1 3/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
-1/2 cup finely chopped or ground pecans
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp allspice
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-Glaze (powdered sugar & water)
-sliced almonds

1.  Combine sugars, butter and eggs in a large bowl.
2.  Using a mixer or by hand, beat until fluffy.
3.  Add pumpkin; beat just until blended.
4.  Combine flour, pecans, baking soda, salt & spices. Gradually add to batter, beating well after each addition.
5.  Pour in greased 9x5 inch loaf dish.
6.  Bake at 325 degrees for 75-80 minutes or until toothpick (inserted into center) comes out clean.
7.  Remove from pan and let cool.
8.  Drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

**Glaze-combine 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2-3 tbsp of water. 
It turned out to be more of a pumpkin bread than a pound cake but absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Homemade baby wipes & diaper rash treatment

I was recently looking on the internet for a natural cold remedy to use with the kids since cold and flu season is around the corner.  On my search, I came across how to make my own baby wipes and diaper rash treatment.  It seemed pretty easy and cheap and I'd love something more natural to use on my son's baby skin so I gave it a try.  As soon as I made them, Archer had a dirty diaper, so I got to try the wipes out sooner than I thought I would and they worked great! :) 

Supplies to make baby wipes:
-1 cup of water
-1 tablespoon baby oil
-1-2 tablespoons of baby soap or shampoo (I used Shaklee)
-Roll of paper towels, cut in half with a serrated knife **remove cardboard roll after cutting in half
-old baby wipe box or another plastic box with lid

1.  Put water, oil and soap in the bottom of the baby wipes container and stir together until they are well combined.
2.  Lay one of your halves of paper towels (remove cardboard roll first) into the mixture.  Make sure you lay it on the side, not standing up.
3.   After about 30 seconds, flip the roll over and let the other side soak up the mixture. Let the roll sit for about 30 minutes so that the entire roll gets saturated and all the moisture has been absorbed into the paper towels.
4.  They are ready to use now.  Pull the towels from the inside of the roll for best results. 

 Supplies to make diaper rash treatment:
-1/2 cup sweet almond oil
-1/4 cup water
-3 drops of tea tree oil
-3 drops lavender
-small spray bottle

1.  Put all ingredients into a small spray bottle.
2.  Shake before each use to make sure all ingredients are mixed well.
3.  Spray onto baby's bottom after cleaning with wipe.
4.  Put on fresh diaper.

For directions on how to make more natural homemade remedies and where I found these two, check out

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Earning rewards

We try really hard to focus on positive reinforcement with our children. When I catch the girls doing something like helping each other, cleaning up without having to be asked, using kind words and manners, doing something (like homework) without complaining, I will say, "Go get a sticker!" They can also earn a sticker for doing things I have asked of them: little chores around the house or watching over Archer for a minute while I do something, etc. This is something I started when Harper was not quite two years old. When they earn 10 stickers, they get to take a trip to my treasure box.  (Like I have mentioned before, sometimes the teacher in me comes out.) And its up to them to save or spend their stickers.  Palmer's stickers "burn a hole in her pocket" and as soon as she gets 10 she has to spend them. 
I usually just use a piece of paper and some small stickers but I found this set on clearance in the school supply section at Target...770 stickers and 30 charts for $1.75

Harper had a pirate themed 3rd birthday party and I bought this for that occasion.  After the party I decided to use this as my treasure box.  I got it at Michael's and used my 40% off coupon they have in the Sunday paper. Then I painted it with some brownish spray paint. 
We take a trip to Dollar Tree every once in a while and I let the girls pick out stuff to fill the box up with.
  There are ways to get their stickers taken away too.  I usually just have to threaten to take a sticker away and the girls quickly change what they are doing so that doesn't happen.  Every once in a while, when we think an action deserves more than a sticker being taken away, we  use the timeout approach.  I made a little time out stool when Harper was about 18 months old and we've used it ever since. 
When I say made, I mean bought a little wooden stool and painted it and added stickers to spell out time out.
 My mom recently gave the girls a Responsibility Chart.  Each Sunday morning, we will go over the "responsibilites" for the week and change any out for new ones they need to work on. For every day that they get a magnet for each responsibility, they earn one sticker.  And they have to work together to get them.  They can't earn a magnet if only one of them kept her hands to herself, for example.  It's so funny when I overhear Harper saying, "Palmer remember we need to's our responsibilty!"  

How do you handle discipline with your kids?  Do you have a rewards system in place?  I would love to hear the ideas you have come up with that work for your children!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Apple Cinnamon bread

So after my family has gone through three dozen pumpkin muffins recently, I decided to make another fall cinnamon bread.  I needed to do something with all those apples sitting in the fruit bowl because they weren't getting eaten.  This bread turned out better than I thought!  It was moist, and the apple flavor was abundant after adding both applesauce and lots of chunks of cut up apple.  The mix of cinnamon and sugars make an amazing crust. I tried to make it a little healthier by using whole wheat flour instead of regular flour and extra virgin olive oil instead of canola oil.  I also didn't use any butter or buttermilk, as some recipes call for.  My family has devoured it!  Here is the recipe I followed:
-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp all spice
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-2 large eggs
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup applesauce
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 cup sugar
-2 cups chopped, skinned apples (any kind you prefer)

-2 tbsp brown sugar
-1 tbsp sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees
~Coat an 8 x 4 loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside
~In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice, and cloves. Set aside.
~In another bowl, mix the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Mix until smooth then add the sugar and mix well.
~Add the flour mix into the other mixture.  
~Fold in the apple chunks & pour batter into loaf pan.
~In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the batter in the loaf pan.
~Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
~Cool bread in the pan for 10 minutes then loosen sides and remove.
~Let bread cool completely before slicing.

PS I cleaned my apples with Shaklee's Basic H2...can you clean your fruit with the same thing you clean your house with???

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(Recipe adapted from:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Countdown to Halloween

Yes I know it's only the middle of September but my kids can not wait for Halloween.  They are already asking me, "How many more days?"  So I decided to do a quick little craft so the kids could keep track on their own and have something to answer the question I get at least once a day.  Harper (my kindergartner) is working on writing her numbers so I put her in charge of writing the number every day.  Here's what I came up with...

I have tons of scrapbook stuff (that I never have time to use) so I got some of it out.  I used a piece of orange construction paper, small piece of black construction paper, jack-o-lantern face punch out, and stickers.  I glued some ribbon around the perimeter but it didn't really show up when I stuck it in the frame.  Then I went to the Dollar Tree and got this black frame. I put the paper inside the frame and we use a black dry erase marker to write on the glass to keep track of the days.  It's nothing fancy but it works and it only cost me $1 to make! Even if you don't have lots of scrapbook stuff lying around, you could go to the dollar store and get paper, stickers and a frame for a total of $3...pretty cheap craft!  Do you do anything to countdown for Halloween or other holidays?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Homemade Poptarts

We made our first attempt at homemade toaster pastries aka "poptarts" yesterday afternoon after Harper got home from school.  I had no idea how they would turn out, but I thought it would be fun to try because my girls love Poptarts. But in my quest to get my family healthier, I am trying to cut out as much packaged foods as possible.  We followed the whole wheat recipe on my school life page.  I do not have a food processor so we used our hands.  That worked better than I expected. Here's what our dough looked like:

 Here they are getting ready to go into the oven (that's egg wash on top, not butter)...
 No they are not exactly pretty but its not about the look, its about the taste right!?!

And here's what they looked liked after they came out of the oven:
One thing I will do next time is roll the dough thinner and press the sides together a little better.   These came out thicker than I expected.  We made chocolate, strawberry and blueberry.  For the chocloate we used Nutella and for the blueberry and strawberry, we used the Polaner's spreadable fruit because it's sweetened only with fruit juice.  The girls both couldn't wait for breakfast today so they could give their "Poptarts" a try... 

I heated them up in the microwave and they both gave them two thumbs up...although they agreed we should make the dough a little thinner next time :)  Can't wait to try making these again (which I'm sure will be soon) and try out some different flavors too! I would love to hear what you think about making these!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mission: Save the clothes

 Have you ever noticed those spots that look like grease stains on your clothes...but not until  after you wash and dry them?  I see them all the time on my children's clothes.  I will try to get them out by spraying some of the stain remover on them and throwing them back in the wash and cross my fingers they come out this time.  I don't like using the stain remover especially on my children's clothes but what else is there to do besides let them go around with stains???  In one of the recent loads of laundry I did, I found some of these stains on Archer's outfit.  Instead of going for the stain remover, I decided to try my new Shaklee liquid laundry detergent and squirted a small amount on the spots and rubbed in in with my finger and threw it into the washer.  Here is the before and after pictures: 


I left the clothes in the dryer too long so they were a bit wrinkled when I got them out but the stains were all gone! I also just got Harper a super cute gray with pink strips dress from Goodwill ($3) but I hesitated on buying it because it had the same kind of grease stains ALL over the front of it but I thought, "Hey, it will be a $3 experiment, so why not give it a try?!"  So after putting the dress back two times, I grabbed it and brought it home to see if there was any way I could get those stains out.  I only wish I had taken a picture of the dress before!  I have no idea how long those stains were there or how many times the dress had been washed and dried before I bought it or what the stains were from but after dabbing on some Shaklee laundry detergent and washing it and drying it ONE time...the stains were all gone! If you want results like these, shop Shaklee!
How cute is this dress?!?
*** Tip: Washing clothes in cold water can save up to 10 cents per 8-pound load,
assuming use of an electric water heater and U.S. average electric rate
(Consumer Reports 2005).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

School clothes

Having three kids and knowing how messy they are, I just couldn't fathom going out before school started and buying all new clothes for them.  I mean they (well my oldest two) are going to be at school doing art projects, eating lunch, going outside to play in these clothes and I won't even be there to remind them to "be careful with that paint," "eat over your plate," or "don't step in that mud puddle!"  So I let both of my girls pick out a new first day of school outfit and that was all the new clothes they got.  They both were super excited about that and just those two outfits cost plenty...I can't imagine going shopping for a whole new wardrobe!  After the first day its been pretty much t-shirts and shorts (because they need to wear tennis shoes everyday for play time and refuse to wear tennis shoes with a dress...haha).  
We have been so blessed to have friends and family who pass along hand-me-downs.  I know the excitement might not last forever but for right now my girls love getting to go through a bag of clothes from an older cousin or friend.  Anyway, even if you don't have friends and family passing down clothes, you can still save a bundle on your child's wardrobe.  As Harper picked out her clothes for this school week and laid them out, I decided to figure out how much all her outfits cost me.  This is what she picked out...
All of the shirts came from Goodwill ($2 apiece), two pairs of shorts were from a friend, and two pairs were from a cousin, and the skirt was a gift from grandma last year.  The grand total was $10.00!!! 
If I do buy my kids clothes, they come from Goodwill or a consignment shop and occasionally the clearance rack at a name brand store.  I like to go to the name brand stores at the end of the season and get some good deals for the next year.  I also do this at the consignment stores and can get things for $1-$2 a piece.  And I try to only buy pants, shorts and skirts that have the adjustable waistband...what a great invention!  The adjustable waistband allows my girls to share and get a lot more use out of clothing when we can change the waist size.  How do you save money on your child(ren)'s wardrobe?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Just wanted to remind everyone of the Free Shipping I am offering on all orders of $100 or more when you become a member this weekend (Saturday and Sunday).  Just place an order here:
*Become a member (one time payment)
*Best Deal...

Changing brands can change your life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fall Fever

Ever since the girls and I made our pumpkin muffins the other day, we have been talking Fall.  Well then the teacher in me came out and I decided to have a little Fall lesson with the girls yesterday.  We talked about and wrote down foods we like to eat in the Fall, what Fall makes us think about and fun Fall activities we look forward to each year.  We also found a Fall poem we liked and wrote that down too.  Then we went into the girls' room and picked out all the "Fall books" we found on their book shelf.  We displayed all of our work on one of the big windows we have in our living room.  And put the books in a basket on the floor in front of the window.  They also have some window markers so after we taped their work up (a little high so Archer couldn't reach it) they used them to draw a picture of an apple tree with apples falling off of it (totally their idea).  Here's what it looked like when we were all done:  

Close up of the poem and what the girls wrote down for "Fun Fall Activities"
Had to take one at night so the girls' apple tree would show up in the picture

Saturday, September 1, 2012

New Adventures

Its been about a year ago now that life as we knew it started to change.  My husband took a new job in Durham, NC (about 3 1/2 hours away) and his start date was before I was due with our third child.  I was very pregnant and wanted to stay in Asheville until after the baby was born.  So when I was 34 weeks pregnant, my husband started his new job and drove home on the weekends.  We pretty much got to see him for about a day and a half every week because he wouldn't get back until late Friday night and have to leave after church on Sundays.  Harper (our oldest daughter), was playing soccer on Saturdays, so we would spend the morning at her game and the rest of the day having some much needed family time.  On Saturday, October 22, I was having really bad back pains that would come and go.  But my husband and I were supposed to have a date night that night so I tried to ignore them.  Later that afternoon, we took our girls to my in-laws house and were left trying to think of where we should eat dinner that night.  Well, to make a long story short, date night ended up being at the hospital and our son, Archer, was born at 12:32am on October 23rd.  My husband had to head back down the mountain for work on Tuesday and for the next four weeks, he was gone all week and came home on the weekends. I decided pretty quickly that playing the role of single mom to two young children and a brand new baby was not fun! So after talking to my husband, he found a rental house in Durham that we would fit in and signed a lease.  Right before Archer turned one month old, we packed the house up and moved to Durham.  Yep, we got to spend Thanksgiving unpacking boxes :)  We ended up being in Durham for about four months before we moved again (we aren't big city people) to Haw River, NC.  We really like it here!  Just a few weeks ago, Palmer (our middle child) turned four and just this past week, Harper started kindergarten and I decided to become a work at home mom. In October, Archer will turn one year old.  Its been a heck of a year but our kids have adapted better than I ever imagined and we are a happy family!
Right before we left Asheville (Leicester actually) and moved down the mountain.  Had to get one more picture of the girls in front of the first house they called home :)