Home Maid Simple: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marvel's The Avengers

We love superhero movies in our house. Even though we've got 3 little girls, they've learned to love superhero's too. Something I know Mark loves. With the soon addition of a little boy, I'm sure our superhero collection and love will just continue to grow.
I'm personally pretty excited about Marvel's The Avengers, coming to theaters May 4th. The trailer was just released today!

Obviously, we won't be taking the girls to see this movie, but it will probably make it's way to our collection.

“Like” MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MarvelsTheAvengers

Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/avengers

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Memories Suite Special Offer!

Do you scrapbook? I do. I love scrapping. Recently I've gotten into Digital Scrapping, because, let's face it, I just never get around to printing those pictures!  I really love My Memories Suite. They have tons of free pages for download, so I can scrap on a budget. In fact here's a freebie just for you!

Free Download

If you don't already have the My Memories Suite Software, you can also download it now. AND save $10 using this code at checkout
When you buy the software, not only will you save $10 with the above code, but you will also get $10 to spend on some scrapbooking elements!
AND there's more (lol, do I sound like an advertiser yet? I just really like this software!).
Between now and March 31st when you purchase the My Memories Suite software USING the code above, you will also get a FREE 1 year membership to RAKstar.
RAKstar gives you monthly scrap kits that are compatible with the My Memories software. You'll be getting a $247 value just for buying the software (only $29.99 after the discount code!!!)
Ok, so now that I've officially sounded like one huge advertisement, I have to tell you, if you scrapbook, or want to start digital scrapping, you WANT to take this deal. Seriously, it's an amazing value, for a great software!  Let me break it down for you

Buy My Memories Software - $39.99
Use Discount code STMMMS37783 - $10.00 off 
Total - $29.99
Receive $10 to spend online
Receive 1 year membership at RAKstar $247 value for free.

You spent $29.99 and you get $286.99 worth of sostware and downloads! 

Now that I've convinced you, and I know you've already gone and bought the software (right? what are you waiting for?), to get your free membership to RAKstar you will need to send me an email of your receipt of purchase for the My Memories Suite software. I will then email you back a gift certificate for the RAKstar membership.

Email receipts to familyroom2@gmail.com

Monday, February 27, 2012

Menu Plan 2/27

Monday - Hamburger Helper and Salad
Tuesday - Hashbrown Stacks
Wednesday - Butternut Squash Soup
Thursday - Meatloaf
Friday - Cousins birthday party (not sure about dinner, we may go out to eat)
Saturday - Girls at my parents. I'm taking Mark to Cafe Rio for his birthday.
Sunday - Leftovers

I've got a couple ideas for Mark's birthday cake, but I'm not sure which one to do.  (Hey Mark, what do you want?!). Normally I always make him a carrot cake. It's his favorite. But with the invention of Pinterest, well, I've come across these twists.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Cream Cheese Carrot Cake Muffins

Despicable Me Cupcakes (No carrot cake involved, but I know he'd like them!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mirror Mirror: New Snow White Movie

Has anyone seen the trailers for Mirror Mirror? We don't have television, and we rarely go to the theaters.  I'm kind of excited about this new movie Mirror Mirror. It seems like a lot of films, tv shows, and books are being based around the well loved Princess stories I grew up with.  I'm especially excited to see another Julia Roberts movie - I just love her.

Release:                               March 30, 2012
Director:                               Tarsem Singh    
Writers:                                Melisa Wallack, Jason Keller
Cast:                                      Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Robert Emms, Sean Bean
Producers:                          Ryan Kavanaugh, Bernie Goldmann, Brett Ratner
Executive Producers:      Tucker Tooley, Jeff Waxman, Kevin Misher, Jamie Marshall, Tommy Turtle, Josh Pate
One of the most beloved stories of all time is coming to life in the motion picture event, Mirror Mirror.  A fresh and funny retelling of the Snow White legend, Mirror Mirror features breakout star Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Snow White, a princess in exile, and Oscar®-winner Julia Roberts as the evil Queen who ruthlessly rules her captured kingdom. Seven courageous rebel dwarfs join forces with Snow White as she fights to reclaim her birthright and win her Prince in this magical adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance and betrayal that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.  The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the Prince and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen.

Rated: PG

You can download this fun coloring page of the seven dwarfs from Mirror Mirror's website here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Foodie Friday - Hot Chocolate

Welcome to Foodie Friday! Hosted by Home Maid Simple and Simple Living With Diane Balch.
Each week we will be bringing you tried and true recipes from our home to yours.   We'd love for you to join in the Foodie fun and link up your recipes below.

I love hot chocolate. I always have. Something about it just warms me up - and not just the fact that it's hot. It can take a hard day and turn it around for me.  But I am picky. I'm not one for those flavored hot chocolates.  We were at IHOP last week for Princess C's birthday dinner, and I ordered one of their new caramel hot chocolates. I thought, caramel and hot chocolate would be perfect together, but I didn't much care for it. Mark thoroughly enjoyed it though. I've decided it's really just a taste preference. I prefer my hot chocolate to be thick and creamy.

Well, I've been stumbling across a bunch of hot chocolates on pinterest lately.  Even though our winter has been more like spring this year, I still wanted some good old hot cocoa to chase away the dreary undecided weather (seriously, it needs to make up it's mind!).  So today I hit up the local grocery store for some chocolate chips and made this fabulous Crock Pot Hot Chocolate from Real Mom Kitchen.

Crock Pot Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips
6 cups milk  - I used both whole and 2%
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a crock pot. Turn on low for 2 hours. Whisk every 30 minutes (or whenever you remember).  Enjoy! 

Although this does make an excellent hot chocolate, and my kids loved it, I'm going to suggest using a bit less chocolate chips, or possibly try semi-sweet instead of milk chocolate. It was very thick and very chocolatey. Almost on the verge of feeling like I was drinking straight melted chocolate, but not quite. I'll definitely be trying this again with my suggested alterations.

This week I am also featuring Mrs Mordecai's Meatless Nachos! Thanks for linking up last week! If you're looking for a meatless meal, this is it! We had it for dinner this week, and we all ate it up. Just make sure you double the cheese sauce recipe. We could've used a bit more cheese for all the lentils we had, but I plan on using the lentils in some meatless burritos for another meal!

If you have a recipe you'd like to share please add it to the linky list below. All we ask is that you follow these rules
Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:
1) Copy the html from this website's button. It is posted on the left sidebar.
2) Link to the recipe you want to add to Foodie Friday, not your homepage.
3) Click on your next.
4) Past your link and type in the name of the recipe not your name.
5) choose how you want to download the photo

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Delivery Day - Guest Post

Being ready to pop Baby Prince out in just over a month, I was excited to have Katie guest post today! Getting ready for delivery day can be stressful, exciting and nerve racking. What do you take? Are you ready for this new addition to your life? There are so many choices to make. How do you know which one is right for you?  Hopefully this article will help you get ready for that special bundle of joy.

Making Delivery Day Feel Easier

Before an expecting mom welcomes her new baby into the world there is quite a few things she can do to prepare for the big day -- delivery day! When a woman finds out she is pregnant, her preparations for delivery day begins immediately. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

The first thing expecting moms need to do is find a doctor with whom they would like to work with during the next 40 weeks. During your pregnancy, you will see your doctor on a regular basis to monitor your health and the health of your unborn child; you’ll most likely have many questions about what is happening to your body and your baby as well, so choose a doctor that you feel very comfortable with seeing often and asking your personal questions to.

Also on the list of important things moms need to do before the baby arrives is to keep herself healthy. Obtaining a list of foods, drinks and medications that are off limits during pregnancy is a great idea for all expectant mothers. The most important thing you can do before delivery day is to make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. Exercising used to be thought of as a cause for miscarriage but is now shown to improve the health and emotional state of expecting mothers.

Before your delivery day, it's a great idea to speak to your doctor about your pain management options. Even moms that choose to use an epidural to deal with their pain need to figure out if they want to take the epidural immediately or if she wants to use natural pain relief for a portion of her pain management. Natural remedies include walking, water therapy and even breathing techniques.

Preparing for immediately after the baby is born is something that may not be in the forefront of a mother’s mind with the big event of labor looming. After the baby is born, you will need to have picked out pediatrician to work with who will need to come and give the baby a checkup. If you would like your son to be circumcised, this will be a procedure you will need to talk about and plan for before he is born. For any newborn, the blood remaining in the umbilical cord blood after birth can be collected for cord blood banking. This option needs to be planned for ahead of time if it’s something you would like to do for your baby. Cord blood banking provides families with a related source of stem cells that could potentially be used to help treat a future disease. Having these post delivery options planned for ahead of time will allow a mother to just enjoy her new baby without thinking about more decisions to be made.

Whether mom is having her first baby or her fourth, these tips and tricks are sure to help make her pregnancy and labor as easy and possible.

"This article was written by Katie Moore. Katie is an active writer within the blogging community who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, childbirth and other topics within this niche.  If you have any questions or would like to connect with Katie please contact her via twitter @moorekm26.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Tips - Window Cleaning

Oh the windows, we all love windows right? I love opening the blinds and letting in some sunshine. What I don't love is opening the blinds to find finger prints, and smears of who knows what streaking across the glass. Not to mention the same smears on the blinds.
Maybe you don't have kids and don't have quite the same problem I do. But you still get dust sitting on the blinds. 
Once again, browsing pinterest I found this great idea for cleaning blinds. This tip originated from Robin at Keep Home Simple (so glad I found her blog. I feel like she's me....but cooler!)  Right back to the cleaning tip.  So Robin mixes equal part vinegar and water, then slips a sock on her hand and cleans the blinds.

It's really a brilliant idea. You can use whatever cleaner you like. I personally prefer just some really hot water to help pick the dust off the blinds.  The vinegar is a nice touch to help kill those smears from little kids hands.  The best sock to use would be one you don't plan on wearing again. You know from that pile of unmatched socks that has been sitting in your laundry room for-e-ver!  I only had little kid socks to work with. Depending on how many blinds you plan on cleaning, and how big your windows are, I don't suggest using small socks. They get dirty fast, and you'll spend more time rinsing them out then actually cleaning. But if you have an adult sock, you can probably get a lot more clean at a time (pending on just how dirty you let your blinds get....yes there's a big arrow pointing above my head right now...). 
The biggest downside I found to this method, is you can't easily change sides of the sock like you can with a rag. So you really do have to rinse it out to keep cleaning. Other than that, the blinds are much easier to grab and hold in place while cleaning! I'm even going to add a little my tip here, put a dry sock on your other hand, and you can dry the blinds as you wash them!

Now on to those dirty windows! By the way, I suggest cleaning the blinds first, or you may accidentally streak dust onto your clean windows from your blinds (yes I found out the hard way).  My personal favorite window cleaner is Windex and Newspapers! Yes Newspapers. Most of us have them sitting in piles, feeling guilty if we throw them out. Newspapers make great window cleaners. They'll leave your windows streak and FUZZ free. I don't know about you, but if I use a wash rag I get little fuzzies all over my windows.
Now here's the thing. Today when I went to grab my newspapers, I realized I had a lot of brown packing paper. So I decided to give it a try. It's my new favorite cleaning "rag".  The packing paper holds up much better than newpaper allowing you to use less of it at a time.
*While looking for a picture of the packing paper, I came across this article on FunInTheMaking.com with more ways to reuse that packing paper!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Menu Monday


I am excited for this weeks menu! I must be in a baking/cooking mood this week. Perhaps it's because Valentines is over, and Princess C's birthday is passed, but I feel like I have time this week!

Monday: Pizza. Texas Chocolate Cake with leftover blackberry buttercream frosting.
Tuesday: Hambuerger Helper
Wednesday: Meatless Nachos
Saturday: Church party
Sunday: Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas

Saturday, February 18, 2012

You Never Lose Review


YouNeverLose.com is the newest online site for gift cards at a fraction of their cost! I've browsed some other auction sites, and they all seem like a rip off to me. YouNeverLose.com though states in their company name, that you will never lose! You might lose the auction, but you ALWAYS get something out of it.
Here's how it works. You register at YouNeverLose.com for free. Then you buy a gift card, at face value. That gift card is sent to you (free shipping!). The amount in dollars you spent on that gift card is than given to you in points. You use those points to bid on other gift cards.
Now if that's not clear enough for you, check out this little video about it!

This is a RISK FREE site! You don't spend money in the hopes of getting something worth it. Instead you spend money and get at least the value of your money in gift cards, with the potential of getting even more!

I have to say my least favorite feature is the end bidding. When it gets down to the last 20 seconds every time a bid is placed the time resets to 20 seconds. So until someone runs out of points to bid with, it could take a bit. I was so close to winning a $25 mastercard gift card for only .52 cents!! I was outbid by a penny though, and I ran out of points to continue my bidding.
Seriously though look at the good deal someone got...$25 gift card for only .52 cents!!!!

YouNeverLose.com is offering Home Maid Simple's readers bonus points when they register and buy their first gift card!
Just enter the code LAUNCH10 for a 10 point bonus.
If you buy gift cards for birthdays, holidays, or other gifts, you'll want to check out YouNeverLose.com

Friday, February 17, 2012

Foodie Friday

Foodie Friday
This week I'm featuring a recipe from {Trulie Scrumptious}. These blogging sisters are so much fun, and pretty creative too. When I saw their Chicken Alfredo lasagna rolls I knew we were going to have to make them.
Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Rolls

3 chicken breasts
Dash of garlic salt
1 bottle Alfredo sauce
Lasagna noodles

Cook and shred the chicken. Add a dash of garlic salt, set aside. Cook lasagna noodles so they're soft, but not too soft (I always struggle with overlooking my noodles). Drain the noodles, and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with some paper towels. Spread some Alfredo sauce on each noodle, add some chicken, and roll up. Place them in a 9x13 baking dish. Cover with any remaining Alfredo sauce. Cook at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Mark absolutely loves lasagna dishes, and these were no exception. A pan or two will be making it to our freezer prior to baby prince's arrival. Thank you {Trulie-scrumptious} for linking up last week, and providing us a truly scrumptious meal!

We'd love to see what's cooking in your kitchen! Maybe you'll be featured next week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Review: Transcendent - Tales of the Paranormal

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

Authors: Lani Woodland, Melonie Piper, Rita J Webb, Wendy Swore, Melanie Marks, Heather Mccubbin, and Evan Joseph

About the Book: Discover the secrets of a siren, fly with a hawk girl over the mountains of Montana, and flee supernatural party-crashers as the d├ęcor comes to life in this magical journey through paranormal stories.
Along the way, watch for ghosts in a haunted house, or ride through the
moonlight with a stranger. Save a comatose boy who has lost his soul, and
don’t forget to bring your garlic and wolfsbane—you never know when the
shadows will snag you. Transcendent includes eight stories of magic, love, death, and choice by some of the newest names in young adult fiction.

My Thoughts: This was a fun, light book to read in my spare time. The paranormal is not a genre I read often (I spook easily), but I found these short stories to be fun to read. There were a few I wished would continue on. I just didn't get my fill of Feather, Pumpkin Thief, or Strike.  If you're looking for some quick reads, and enjoy some paranormal I would suggest Transcendent!  I plan on checking out more of what these authors have written.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sam's Club Winner



You won the $25 gift cards  to Sam's Club. Check you email.

Make sure you stop by and enter the giveaway for 250 custom stickers from PrintRunner!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Tips - Valentines Day

Love Cartoons
photo credit

As I "meet" people online, I am continually surprised by the number of people who dislike Valentines day. I've heard it called a pointless holiday. I'd like to try and change that thinking.  Use today to bring Love back into your home.

Now granted, I am a romantic. I love showing and receiving love. Do we need a special holiday just to show our special someone we care? As women do we need a special holiday to feel loved? I hope not. BUT by putting aside one day of the year to spread some extra love, we can do great things.
Today I'd like to challenge you to go above and beyond to show your family, co-workers, and friends that you care. It will make their day, and I will be surprised if it doesn't put a smile on your own face as well.

Over the weekend I was starting to fall into a little depression. Nothing severe, but I just wasn't as happy as I usually feel I am. I'm a positive person, I like to see the glass overflowing, but I hit a funk. We all do at some point. So today, I woke up and made a conscious decision to get out of it (those who suffer depression on a deeper level, I know that's not as easy for you. I do understand and I hope you can get something from my words today as well).

I actually had a pretty awful night, between a massive headache that felt like either a sledgehammer hit the insides of my brain, or a bomb went off in there, and an almost 2 year old who just needed some mommy love all night long, I didn't get a lot of sleep. I could have gotten up this morning, and complained to Mark (OK I did a little), or even just stayed in bed, but instead I got up early put a smile on. I actually got to sit down and eat breakfast with Mark. A very rare occasion indeed.

Today, I plan on letting the kids get messy. We'll pull out paints, maybe have a bubble bath. Do some more crafts, and enjoy the day. If they want to do something today, I plan on saying YES (within safety reasons). 

We're also going to make a special candy bar card for Mark, and deliver it during his lunch. We'll even stay and eat lunch with him! It's not something we ever do, because it just doesn't fit that great into my schedule. Today though, I'm going above and beyond. I'll go a little out of my way, to let Mark know I love him. 

I also plan on making this yummy Cocoa Creme Brulee. Mark loves creme brulee. I hardly ever make it though, because it takes a fair portion of time, time that I don't always feel like I have. Today though, I will make the time.  (hopefully Mark does not read this blog today!)

We all show our love in different ways. Some may be romantic throughout the year. But I think the majority of us easily get caught up in the day to day tasks to really focus on those around us. To me that is why Valentines Day is not a pointless holiday. It's a good reminder to step back from our daily grind, and shower a little extra love to those around us.  Celebrating a day like today, can bring peace, joy, and love back into your home. Make today count!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Monday


It's going to be a fun week of baking over here! We started yesterday making some no-bakes, Mark's favorite.  Mark even joined in the fun, and they were probably the best no-bake's we've made in a long time.
What are you cooking up this week?

Monday - Spaghetti and Garlic Bread
Tuesday - Hamburger Helper. Cocoa Creme Brulee for an "after kids are in bed" treat.
Wednesday - Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Rolls
Thursday - Princess C's birthday. She has planned her menu for the day as follows
            Breakfast - pancakes
            Lunch - Mini Corn Dogs
            Dinner - Pizza
            And of course we'll be having some cupcakes as well!
Friday - Crock Pot Fried Rice
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Broccoli Cheddar Soup in bread bowls

For Princess C's birthday we're having a morning play date. I've got a couple cupcake ideas, I just haven't decided which to make yet.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Foodie Friday - Rodelle baking

At the beginning of the year I found I was a grand prize winner of the Rodelle baking challenge. For the rest of the year I wil be receiving a box of Rodelle goodies each month. I got my January box last weekend. I was so giddy with excitement, Mark just rolled his eyes at me. Really he's just waiting for the KitchenAid that was also a part of the prize.

Why yes, that is a hand written letter to me! Rodelle has really impressed me with their commitment to families, baking, and making memories!
Oh so many goodies, and just in time for a week of valentines and birthday baking!  Today I'm going to share a chili recipe I found.  It is scrumptious, and has CHOCOLATE in it!  Now one of the big things I do when cooking, is substitute. I often forget an ingredient at the store, or just feel a little lazy, so I improvise. I did that with this Chili recipe. You can see the original recipe at Sweet Country Life

Sweet Country Chili
1 lb ground beef
28 oz can baked beans
1 can chili
1 can black beans
2 cans tomato sauce plus enough water to make 1 quart
2 TBS brown sugar
chili powder
onion powder
garlic powder
1 TBS cocoa powder

Brown the beef in a large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. On the spices, I added to my tastes. I use small amounts of chili powder since I am feeding 3 little kids. And I may have added a touch more of the cocoa powder :)  Simmer for 30 minutes.  And Voila! You've got a tasty chili that even the kids will enjoy! It's been a few days since I made this, and I'm still eating it for leftovers, it's that good!

I'd love to see what you're cooking up in the kitchen!  Link up and hop around

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dining Room Recap

I wanted to pull our Dining Room remodel into one recap post. It's so neat to see the before and after shots next to each other!  For me, it just doesn't even look like the same room anymore. I love our new Dining Room!

It started out as a simple floor to ceiling pantry project.  Building this half wall up and into a pantry.
It soon took over the whole Dining Room when Termites were found. Keep in mind I consider this lucky, since we found them before our roof caved in!
Our simple project became a massive one. But we learned some cool things a long the way - like how to add temporary support beams to your ceiling.
and how to remove layers of wallpaper and paint
and how to tape and mud.
Since I was mostly told to stay out of the kitchen at the end, due to all the chemicals from primer and paint, I got inspired by pinterest to make a hanging drum light.
We took a special family trip to pick out this artwork. We wanted a Venetian feel, and I feel like we got that with the wall color, and this photo.

And finally we were done! If I haven't said it enough yet, I'll say it again, I love our new Dining Room! I love the pantry that allows me to see what we actually have! I love that we can all fit around the table, and there's enough light to see by!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book Review: The Deliverer by Jason D Morrow

The Deliverer: Book One in the Marenon Chronicles
Author: Jason D Morrow

About the book: After a series of strange events, Silas Ainsley realizes that he is not a normal seventeen-year-old.  In his journey to escape from two mysterious headhunters, Silas discovers his life and death are key to saving an entire world, called Marenon, from darkness and destruction. The only way to get to Marenon is to die, and Silas has just arrived.

My thoughts: Just reading the synopsis has me intrigued. Another life after you die, where a whole world of humans and other races exist, sounded thrilling. Once I started reading, I thought it might not be as exciting as I hoped. It felt very much like it was going to be a "boy" book. It opens with Silas and his grandfather on the run in a pick up truck, while being shot at. Their only defense being 2 shots left in a shotgun. 
Don't let the beginning of this book fool you. It quickly picks up the pace, and the adventure really begins when Silas finds himself in Marenon. I could hardly put the book down, and read through it pretty fast. I felt the characters were well developed, a plot substantially made, and a desire for more planted firmly!

Marenon itself became a real land to me. I felt the author took your classic fantasy's like Lord of the Rings, and made them more accessible to real life. A world stuck between life and death. You can only get there by dying, and not everyone gets to go!  Why do some humans re-awake in Marenon? What happens when you die in Marenon?

As for the story - Will Silas be able to bring peace to this world between worlds? Will the races join together in peace, or battle to extinction?
I can not wait to get my hands on Book 2!

I am extremely impressed with Jason's writing. He is self publishing, and I find that impressive. I've read self-published books before, and I can always tell. Not with this one. The quality is overall wonderful. There were some minor errors throughout, but from a self-published book, these were very minor.

About the Author: Jason D Morrow graduated with a degree in journalism in 2009 and has worked for various publications since then. A writer and educator, Jason is married and currently resides in Gwangju, South Korea.

Follow Jason: Facebook, Twitter, Blog

Purchase the book: Kindle edition only 0.99Paperback only 9.99

Birthday Parties on a Budget - guest post

Princess C's birthday is coming up. Next week actually! I've had so many ideas run through my head, and I still don't know which idea to run with. It's hard having her birthday so close to Valentines Day.  I've thought of having a party just for her. Or having a Valentine's party and inviting some of Princess V's friends as well. I don't like inviting friends over and having them feel like they have to buy a present. Maybe I should just call it a playdate. Or we could do what we did with Princess V. Mark and I take her out to dinner and an activity, just the three of us. Perhaps we'll do that anyways. I really don't know yet. 

Check out these 10 great ideas for some Cheap but still Fun birthday party ideas from Molly at Live-in Nanny
  1. Pool party: If you are lucky enough to have a birthday in the summer then it’s a great time to have a pool party for your birthday. Bring two dozen colorful helium balloons with weights on them. (Inexpensive weights can be made by adding some play sand to balloons and tying a knot.) Bring coordinating paper plates and napkins from the Dollar store. Go early so you can grab a couple of tables and cover them with inexpensive plastic colorful tablecloths. Make your own cupcakes topped with crushed graham crackers and a paper umbrella. If you’d like you could take some pretty pitchers full of fruit flavored water with fruit floating in it. Budget: $50
  2. Ladybug party: Cover round tables with red table cloths and set out round black plates. You can find red napkins with black polka dots and these would be cute, but would cost a couple dollars more than plain ones. Use red cups and decorate them with black punched out circles. Serve pink lemonade with lady bug cupcakes. Make your own cupcakes and frost with red frosting and using black licorice you can make the wings and you can make the spots with some black icing or M&M’s. You can play pin the antennae on the ladybug (draw your own or buy at the Dollar Store.) Play freeze tag outside or musical chairs inside. Play pop the balloon with red balloons with black polka dots. Blow them up with air and then each child has to try to pop the balloon by sitting on it. Budget: $40
  3. Tea party: Have everyone meet at the food court at the mall. Cover all of the tables with inexpensive pink table cloths. Set the tables with cute plates and cups. Serve pink lemonade and little sandwiches. Simple baby carrots and grapes can round out the little lunch and then bring on the tiny treats. The fun thing about a tea party is to have little bits of several things. Mini muffins or mini cupcakes, small cookies and maybe some butter mints in little paper cups will make a fun dessert course. Decorating with some pink helium balloons that can be sent home with the kids when they leave the party is a great favor idea. Budget: $50
  4. Sports birthday party: Wal-Mart has a great selection of plates and napkins for $ .97 each along with matching tablecloths too. So you’ve got $5-$6 in with the paper goods. Make a cake in the shape of the sports ball that is the theme. Footballs, soccer balls, or basketballs are easy. Juice pouches go on sale for less than $2 for 10. When the kids get to the party break up into two teams and play the sport that you are there for. Make sure to have plenty of water on hand and small paper cups for quick drinks. Bottled water is not necessary for this because most of it will just get wasted. Once the game is over serve the cake and drinks. If you still have time, play some old fashioned games like Duck, Duck, Goose with the kids in a circle or Red Rover, Red RoverBudget: $20
  5. Under sea party: Truly a fun party to throw. If it’s for a girl she could be an undersea princess like Ariel and they could wear tiaras. You could send all of the kids home with a live goldfish. At the discount store you can get buy goldfish for $ .19 each. If you’d like you can also buy a little glass bowl for the fish at $1 ea. You can play pin the eye on the goldfish or clown fish or whatever fish. Your child can help draw fish to decorate the walls and some inexpensive green streamers hanging from the ceiling as sea weed and you are all set. You can show the movie Finding Nemo or read the book version. The kids can dance around to music from the movie and do the fish dance. The cake can be a fish that is made using an 8” round cake and part of another round cake for the tail. Frost both pieces together and use candy or frosting to decorate it like a fish. If the child can help with the cake it will be even better. Budget: $50
  6. Curious George party: This could really be any monkey party, but if you do Curious George you can read a Curious George book or play one of his videos. You can pin the tail on the monkey (see a trend here?) You can dance around like monkeys. You can have this party at the park and play on the jungle gym and act like monkeys. You can serve bananas for a snack with some lemonade. Then when it’s time for cake you can make a 2 layer banana cake with frosting. Then put Runts banana candy all over the cake. Or you can make a monkey face cake. Using a round cake and two chocolate donuts for ears you can easily decorate the cake into a simple monkey face. If you’re at the park you can create a great monkey race where they have to run on all fours. Budget: $20
  7. Pizza Party: If you want to incorporate dinner with the party this is a great way to do it. Have the kids make their own pizzas and have some two liters of soda. The dough can be made at home for little or nothing and then pick 5-6 toppings for the kids to pick from. Then as long as the kids have made their own pizza you can let them decorate their own cupcake. Make the cupcakes and then have some colored frosting and various sprinkles and let the kids decorate their own cupcake. All of these things are activities and take time. Once they finish making the pizza you can put it in the oven and let the kids start on the cupcakes. When the pizzas are done they can eat and then finish up with the cupcake for dessert. Play some fun music while the kids are working. Keep the guest list small and you can send each child home with their own apron. Budget: $50
  8. Movie night birthday party: Maybe your kid is into a specific movie like Twilight. You can plan the party for after dinner which will save you money. Then set up a cool popcorn bar with popcorn boxes that you can buy 8/$1 at Target. Put out 3 different popcorn flavorings and 3-4 different mix-ins in different bowls and let the kids make up their own popcorn treat. Then everyone can settle in for the movie. Be sure to have bottles of water that you’ve dressed up with a cute label that says Movie night or the title of the movie. After the movie you can have cake. Try to tie the cake into the movie. If it’s Twilight you can serve caramel apples instead of cake. Budget: $40
  9. Butterfly garden party: Make antennae for each girl using headbands and pipe cleaners. Then have a craft where they make tissue paper flowers. When they finish the craft you can have everyone go outside and do a bug hunt. You’ve hidden a bunch of butterflies that you’ve made out of coffee filters and clothes pins. Whoever finds the most wins a butterfly net that you can buy for $1. For the cake you can make a butterfly. Start with 2-9” round cakes. Cut them at 2/3 and 1/3. Turn all of the curved pieces in and make the wings of the butterfly. Using colored sugar and sprinkles decorate the butterfly. You don’t have to buy colored sugar, this can be made with white sugar and a few drops of food coloring mixed in. Serve the cake with some inexpensive butterfly plates and matching solid colored napkins from the Dollar store and you are all set. Give every child a butterfly net when they leave. Budget: Under $40.
  10. Snowman party: These are best if you have a winter birthday. If you live where there’s snow then you can go out and build real snow friends, but if there’s no snow where you live then you can make snow friends out of Styrofoam balls and felt decorations. Buttons and other little doo dads will help make this a really fun project. For the treats they can make their own snowman face on a white cupcake. You can serve hot chocolate to go with the cupcakes. When everyone is done making their snow friend you can have a contest for the funniest, tallest, cutest etc. Make sure you have enough categories so everyone can win something. Playing pin the nose on the snowman is really fun too.
Original article by Molly Cunnigham can be found at Live-in Nanny.  Article reposted with permission!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Nursery - before

Shine Your Light
Well I forgot to get my after post up of our kitchen last month, and still haven't even posted it! I promise a full post on the kitchen is coming a litte later this week, with before and after shots!
But before it gets too late again, I wanted to show you my Before and after project for the month of February.
The Nursery!  That's right, baby Prince is due in 2 months, so it's time to get the nursery all set up.  For the last, oh 4 months, the nursery has been used as a store all room. If I didn't know what to do with something it got tossed in there.

I've tossed out a few boxes of garbage already. Gone through many more boxes, and still have some more to do. Amazingly I found a box of checks, so I don't have to order any more! I knew I had some somewhere.
My biggest problem is that I've begun just moving things from one room to another. Since we put Princess R in the same room with her sisters, we had another "empty" room. So most of the items from here, have been moved to another store all room. One day I'll have the energy and vision to get it all completely organized.

Our plans for the nursery are fairly simple. Although the multi-colored walls did grow on us, we will be painting them all the same color - blue.  We purchases some blue curtains for the windows with a gift card my sisters gave us for Christmas. I got some blue argyle bins to store diapers and other baby items.
One of my favorite traditions, though, is the puzzle. Mark and I pick a puzzle out for each of our kids. We put it together, glue it, and frame it to hang in their room. We are both pretty excited for the baseball puzzle we purchased for this room.  Once the painting it done, we'll set up a card table in the nursery to get it put together out of the Princesses reach. 
We still need to find a dresser, and possibly a changing table. I've become pretty adept at changing babies on the floor though, so it's not really a need. I can't think of anything else we need, but I'm sure once the room starts coming together I'll be adding more.

Tuesday Tip - Cleaning the bathrooms

Tuesday Tips

I dread cleaning the bathrooms. I don't know why, it's probably one of the quickest rooms in the house to clean. It also has the potential to stay cleaner longer then say the playroom, but I still dread cleaning it.
Ideally I would give it a thorough cleaning once a week, in reality, it's a lot less than that.
So when I came across this article through pinterest, I was ecstatic!

Yes, I  just said ecstatic in association with cleaning the bathrooms!! 
I grabbed my notepad, and wrote down the simple step by step instructions and headed to the bathroom.  I've never used microfiber towels in my bathroom, or paper towels. In the past I've used a myriad of different cleaners for the different surfaces as well.
Comet for the toilet, tub and sink.
Windex for the mirror.
Ammonia for the floor.
And then of course, tougher grime, I pulled out the tougher cleaners. Needless to say, you could easily get poisoned with the different cleaners I would use in one cleaning session.  According to this professional cleaner, all you need is one. I decided to use a vinegar and water mixture, and was pleased with the results. By following the step by step guide, I think I cut the time I usually spend cleaning the bathroom in half. 

Now I don't know about you, but my shower doors get all covered in that white soap and hard water scum. Not even vinegar and water will clean that off! I was pretty sure I'd tried it all, short of replacing the doors, but decided to do one more pinterest search.
Let me just tell you how desperate I was getting -
Goo-Be-Gone - works but takes a whole lot of elbow grease and would take 48hours to completely clean (estimated time, but I spent a good afternoon and got maybe a 1/4 to a 1/2 of one door clean)
Steam Mop - Oh yeah, I even tried steam mopping it off!! I have to laugh at myself for this one, but it was sure worth the try. No it didn't work.

But guess what! I found it! The KEY to cleaning your shower doors!

Lemon Dusting Spray. 
You're joking right? That was my first thought when I came across this tip. But hey, I'd just attempted to steam mop it off, why not try the Lemon Duster? I had some, and it wasn't getting any other use in my house.
Wow! Mothers, housekeepers, stay at home dads - rejoice! When Mark got home last night, I couldn't stop talking about the amazingly clear shower doors. I sprayed it on, and left it for about an hour. When I came back, I already saw the difference. It was like soap scum was something I had made up, a fantasy.
Here's my little advice and what I learned though.
- Don't spray the floor of your shower, it will get very slippery. Perhaps lay a towel down inside to catch any drips.
 - If it dries on, it will look like it cleaned itself and you may think you got out of any scrubbing. Sorry, you'll see the lemon spray next time you shower. Just get a damp rag and rinse off the doors after you've let it work it's magic.
- Lastly, textured showered doors clean much better than clear. The clear doors are going to take a little more elbow grease than the textured doors.

I'm linking up to Learning the Frugal Life. Head over there for more Frugal living tips

Monday, February 6, 2012


What's on your menu this week?
Did you eat anything fabulous last week? If so, I'd love for you to share on our Foodie Friday linky.

Tuesday - Bacon Cheddar Bites
Wednesday - Hamburger Helper
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Pasta

Friday, February 3, 2012

Foodie Friday - Basic Cookie Mix

Foodie Friday

Every friday we will share a recipe on our blogs. At the end of the post we encourage you to link up your recipes! Let's get cooking!

I was looking for a Peanut Butter Cookie recipe the other day, and finally (out of my stacks and stacks of cookbooks) found one in a book called Deseret Recipes (published by the LDS church).

To make the Peanut Butter Cookies I had to make a Basic Cookie Mix first.

Basic Cookie Mix
9 cups flour
3 cups powdered dry milk
3 TBS baking powder
1 TBS salt
4 cups shortening
4 cups sugar
Stir the first 4 ingredients together. In a large bowl cream the shortening. Gradually add the sugar to the shortening. Once it's mixed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Blend or use a pastry cutter until it is the texture of cornmeal.
Store tightly covered at room temperature.  Will last for several weeks.

Now this will make a lot of cookies! I cut my Basic recipe in half, and still made three different batches of cookies.  Today I'd like to share a recipe using the Basic Cookie Mix, for Cinnamon Cookies. What you thought I'd share the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe? I would, but the baking bug hit me, and out of the 3 types of cookies I made, the Cinnamons were definitely the best!

Cinnamon Cookies
2 1/2 cups basic cookie mix
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend the basic cookie mix, vanilla, sugar and egg.  Form the batter into balls, any size you like, and roll them in the cinnamon.
Bake at 375 for 12-15minutes. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sam's Club $25 Giveaway PLUS get $10 back!

AWE! Isn't that picture adorable?  We're gearing up for Baby Prince, and that means checking off some pretty important lists.  Getting the nursery ready is first on the list, and that includes stocking up on all our essential baby supplies. Things like diapers and wipes are top on everyone's baby essentials.

From February 1-29 when you buy 2 of the following Baby products at Sam's Club, you'll get a $10 gift card!

• Pampers® Swaddlers® or Pampers Cruisers® Diapers
• Pampers SoftCare Scented Baby Wipes
• Similac® Advance® Powder or Similac Sensitive® Powder
• Dreft® Liquid Laundry Detergent

For more offer details, visit SamsClub.com/giftcardoffer. Online request must be submitted by March 14, 2012.

To help you on your way to more savings I've got $25 in gift cards to give one of my lucky readers!!  Just enter the Rafflecopter form below.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gardening Compost

I've seen that some of my friends, the lucky ones in warm climates, have begun their gardening. Since I don't live in a very warm climate, and we had a late winter this year, I've resorted to just planning and dreaming about our garden this spring. I've got the space marked out I want to use, plans for Mark to build some raised square foot beds, and the veggies I want to grow.
What I really want though is to be able to save more money, and waste less inside our home to help our garden grow. I've been thinking a lot about composting. I remember growing up my mom kept an old ice cream bucket under the sink where we scraped our plates. When it would get full we had to haul it out into the woods to out compost area. Besides being pretty stinky, it was so fun to see different things start sprouting in the compost from thrown out seeds - watermelon, cucumbers, and more. We periodically would catch a glimpse of some white tailed deer hanging out near the pile as well.

The problem I've run into is that I no longer live in the middle of the woods. I've got neighbors that probably wouldn't appreciate the stench from an outside compost dump. So I'm trying to find any laws, and ways I can successfully compost with neighbors. So far I've had no luck.  I did however find this CUTE compost bucket though
You can purchase this particular compost bucket at The Foundary on sale through tomorrow. It's 1.5 gallon square ceramic. It comes with charcoal filters, which I am assuming help with the smell.

If you have any tips for composting please share!

I've also come across this brilliant idea to recycle rain water.

Why let all that rain go to waste, when I can save our water bill by using the rain to water my garden? Really it's brilliant! 
As much as I do love the winter, I'm ready for spring and gardening!