Saturday, July 31, 2010

If I only had that willpower....

Grandma MJ, to Ethan, on date night:

"Ethan, aren't you eating?"

Ethan: "No....I ate yesterday."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oh Grrraaaa-aaaam......

....Somebody with a very big smile {and two brand new TEETH!!} misses you!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

This is what happens when..... say to Uncle Jason,

"Would you please hold Lola for a minute so that I can load my van?"

I load the van....

.....and turn around to find....


Poor little Lola, buckled in the seat belt of Auntie Deanna's Escalade.

Uncle Jay had flown the coop.

{She didn't seem to mind, however!}

How I love you, never cease to crack me UP!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

So much to say...

....and I will.


{Lola, in 'lake gear' with Daddy}

But, for now--Happy six months, my unbelievably wonderful baby girl. This Momma knows how blessed she is....

Monday, July 19, 2010


This giveaway was so fun. I'm already looking forward to the next one! chose the winner of the $60 gift card, and she is....


"I would purchase some kitchen items. I need to replace a few gadgets so this would be great."


Heather, I will email you to get you your gift card. I hope you enjoy spending it on those gadgets!

Thanks for entering, everyone--have a great week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Almost over....

It's the last day to enter the giveaway!

Good luck to each of you, and thanks for entering and spreading the love. I think maybe this blog will see more of the likes of these giveaways in the future....

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Even a four-year-old can recognize that Mommy doesn't get out of the house much

{Did you come over to enter the giveaway for a $60 gift card? You can head over here to do that!!}


Cameron: "Why are you in a hurry, Mommy?"

Me: "Because, Cameron....I'm trying to get ready as quickly as I can. I have my Bible study in just a little while."

Cameron: "Oh! must be your lucky day."

Hilarious proof again that more is CAUGHT than TAUGHT

{Did you come over to enter the giveaway for a $60 gift card? You can head over here to do that!!}


When subjecting my children to an hour or two of shopping--especially grocery shopping--I am not ashamed to admit that I sometimes do resort to bribery.

"If you boys are really, really good in the store today.....Mommy will give you a special treat when we are all done."

Okay. So maybe I'm a little ashamed to admit it.


The other day, after a particularly grueling Wal-Mart trip, I told the boys I would get them a treat for being so good* in the grocery store while Mommy shopped.

*as good as can be truly expected from a six-, four-, and three-year-old who are being subjected to two hours in a grocery store

So, we headed down to one of our favorite ice cream spots in town.

On the way there, I realized something, and panicked.

This ice cream stand, unlike most of the rest of the world, does not take a debit card.

And I had no cash.

Oh no. Nononononoooooo.

*rack my brain*

I quickly came up with a solution I was sure would work. I decided to stop at a gas station, get some gas, and pay for my purchase with my debit card--then ask for a few dollars of cash back.

I picked the one gas station in the tri-county area that does not allow cash back on any purchases.


I got back in the car, feeling a bit defeated. I told the boys the situation.

"Boys, I am so sorry. Mike's Chill only takes cash, and Mommy just spent all I had at the grocery store! They don't take debit cards....I feel terrible, but I have no way to pay for any ice cream!"

Colin--who is joyfully learning the art from his Mommy--looked at me in desperation and said {in this high-pitched, shrieky voice he gets whenever he realizes something may not be going his way}:

"Well, can't we just give them a coupon?!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So that's why you want your blankie, huh?

*loud thunder rolling*

Ethan {who loves loves loves his blankie and is very attached to it}: "Mommy? Daddy? I think I need to go get my blanket...I think it might be scared of the funder...."

{Have you entered the giveaway for a $60 gift card yet? Don't forget to do so here!!}

Monday, July 12, 2010


It's here!!

Recently, I was contacted by CSN Stores to do a giveaway right here on my blog.

If you're anything like me, you may never had even heard of CSN Stores!!

When I checked into what they had to offer, I was floored. They offer over 200 stores on one site, which I thought was super convenient. You can find everything from upholstered headboards for your bed to school supplies! You can search their site by category, particular brand names, or price.

When I asked in an earlier post what kind of items you would be interested in, many of you answered: Shoes!

CSN offers a great variety of high quality women's shoes, for what I thought were very good prices. They also offer a few of the other things you all suggested : kitchen tools and supplies like bakeware (I am totally coveting several items on this page for use in my zucchini bread baking!), and lots and lots of children's items, from furniture to gear to educational toys!

CSN has offered one of my readers* a chance to win a $60 gift card to their site, good for ANY of their merchandise. Here are the ways you can enter to win:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog (mandatory first entry) telling me, in one or two words, what you think you might spend your $60 on! (You are not obligated to choose that item if you win.) You can head over to their site and browse around through any of the above links. If your blogger ID is not connected to an email address, please make sure to include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win!!
  2. Follow this blog, and leave a separate comment letting me know that you did so. If you do follow already, please leave a comment letting me know that you already do so I can count that entry!
  3. Share about the giveaway in a short post on your own blog, and link back here so others can participate as well. Again, leave me a separate comment letting me know you did so.
  4. Share on Facebook, with a link on your wall back to this post! Leave a separate comment letting me know you did so.
*open to U.S. and Canada residents only at this time.

I will leave the giveaway open until this Friday, July 16, at 10 p.m. CST. At that time, I will use Random.Org to draw a winner. Please remember that, in order to gain four entries into the giveaway, it is very important to leave four separate comments.

Good luck everyone--I'm excited for the winner!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Making use of the inferno


  1. it's been 437 degrees here for the last several days
  2. the boys are a bit sunburned and needed to take a break from the sun and the pool
  3. I needed to bake, bake, and bake some more
  4. I have 942 broken crayons that I was getting ready to pitch because the boys will just not use crayons after the factory-sharpened edge has dwindled (even if I sharpen it with a pencil sharpener....apparently, I don't do it as well as Crayola)
  5. the boys were bored after 14 minutes of being inside the last few days


I decided to use the heat to our advantage and do a craft project.

I've seen this on other blogs before, and thought we would try our hand at it. The boys had a great time--even peeling the crayons, which I thought they would hate--and the results turned out great!

To start:

Grab a couple of muffin tins.
Take all of your stubby, mostly used up crayons and peel all of the paper off.

Hope that your children will do most of the work.

End up with bloody fingers because you peeled about 70% of the crayons yourself.
Smile because your kids were loving the project anyway and enjoying themselves!

Put the de-papered crayons in muffin tins. Let the kids arrange them however they would like to (I saw all sorts of creativity come out in my boys!) We did sports themes, animal themes (Cameron's bumblebee theme was my favorite), all purple/pink/green....whatever. They came up with most of the ideas themselves!

Now--you can bake these in the oven; but, if your spot in the world is as hot as ours is right now, simply use the outside heat instead! Just place the trays outside in a sunny spot.


.....listen to your children ask,

"Can we go check on the crayons?"

for the next several hours. *grin*

{Please don't mind the skivvies....that's how we roll, remember?}

It took a couple of hours, but they slowly started to melt....

{Here you see: Illini theme, Cubs theme, and a tiger theme (black and orange)}

....and then, they were done!

We brought them in, cooled them off, and stared at our creations....

....and then the artwork began!
{You can see how much Cam loved the 'bumblebee' crayon too!}

Lola just sat, looked cute *grin*, and watched her brothers.

It was so neat to see the kids so proud of
something that they had mostly done all by themselves!

We had a lot of fun doing this project, and now our 'old' crayons are new again (and, according to the boys, much, much more fun than the other ones were!)

If you have a bunch of broken crayons that you don't know what to do with and some Summer sun, I would highly recommend this one!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Zucchini Bread

I've gotten several requests for this recipe over the last couple of days, so I thought I would share!

This recipe is super special to me, because it is the recipe my Grandmother always used. I follow it exactly--it's never as good as hers was, but it is still the best I've ever tasted. Each time I chomp into a piece, I always think of Grandma Franzi.

Now, for our family, I double the recipe, then double it again to make eight loaves. I bake it all at once, and I've never had any problems. For me, it is a big time and energy saver to do it this way. Two loaves at a time and I would be baking all day long! I have gotten to where I no longer even glance at the recipe, and I can have eight loaves prepared, in the pans, and baking in under 20 minutes.

I've baked a lot of bread!

After baking, I cool the loaves in the pan for a few minutes, then remove and cool the rest of the way on baking racks. Once completely cool, I wrap the bread in one layer of heavy-duty foil, then one layer of Press-n-Seal, then package two loaves into a good gallon-sized freezer baggie. They keep all winter, and taste almost as good as they do when they are fresh out of the oven.

{don't mind the date on the baggie--I reuse them!}

3 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1 Tbsp. good vanilla
3 eggs (large)
1 C. oil (I use canola)
2 C. sugar
2 C. grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325. (Okay--here is one deviation of mine from Grandma: I bake mine at 350. I don't know if it is my oven, or the fact that I am baking so many loaves at once, but mine were never done in the middle at 325, but were getting hard on the edges. I do 350 for one hour, five minutes.)

Grease two loaf pans.

This is a very important step. If you don't follow it, you will get done baking, and then this will happen:

Then you will cry over your failed loaf.

Then you will rethink the situation, dry your tears, and rejoice instead--because now you get to eat this loaf instead of having to freeze it. {Or maybe that's just me choosing to find the brighter side?}

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a seperate bowl or Kitchen Aid if you have it, beat eggs; add oil; then sugar and vanilla. Add zucchini and nuts. Add dry ingredients slowly. Mix well. Divide evenly between your two loaf pans. Bake for about one hour and 10 minutes, being careful not to over bake. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Let me know if you try it and like it! I would also love to hear your bread recipe, if it differs from mine.

Lastly--I have zucchini coming out of my ears....besides breading and pan frying, what else do you do with it?

Have a great Friday everyone!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

{and so it begins....}

A home remedy (and Giveaway reminder!!)

If your children are anything like my boys, they love a trip to the pool. We are deep in the heart of swimming season here, and my boys practically beg me each day to take them somewhere to be in the water.

Unfortunately, trips to the pool have confirmed that my boys seem to be prone to swimmer's ear.

Blech and phooey.

I had swimmer's ear a few times growing up, and I remember it being one of the most painful things I have ever experienced! It has proven true with my boys, as well--even touching the outside of their ear will send them into tears.

However, the score at our house currently is: Home Remedy--3; Swimmer's Ear--0.

When Cam came down (in both ears) just a couple of weeks ago, it was Friday night around 6 p.m. I knew I wasn't going to be able to get him in to our doc for a couple of days, so I Googled "home remedy for swimmer's ear". I came up with some doozies (everything from "stand on one foot and bounce until the water comes out" to "blow smoke in the ear" to "go to the doctor because nothing else works"). I got a 'recipe' that has worked wonders for us, so I wanted to share in case anyone else struggles with this problem with their littles!

~1 tsp. white vinegar
~1 tsp. rubbing alcohol into a small bowl.
{You can use more or less of this solution, but you need to mix fresh each time and it needs to be exactly 1/2 and 1/2. The alcohol will evaporate, so the solution does not keep. This mix is enough to do all three of my boys, both ears.}
~Microwave for about 4-5 seconds (mix is very cold when going into the ear--poor Cam found that out the hard way).
~Drop solution into child's ear (I used a straw to deliver) and let it sit for a few seconds. I had my boys lay on their sides and stay that way for a couple of minutes, to make sure.
~Repeat a few times a day until pain in gone--for us, it took about three days of consistent drops.

Apparently, the vinegar kills whatever infection may be beginning to form in the ear, and the alcohol dries up the water that is trapped. I also have begun using a few drops of alcohol in each ear every time we come home from swimming, simply as a preventative measure.

I hope it works for you as well as it has worked for us!

***Remember that giveaway that I talked about a couple of weeks ago? Yeah....I'm still working on that! It's going to be soon, and it's a good one--a $60 gift card to a site which hosts over 300 online stores. I am so excited--stay tuned for this one!***

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Calling all Hawks

A couple of days ago, I looked out the window and saw this:

Of course, I immediately wondered: What on earth?

"Colin? What are you doing, buddy?" I said.

"Well," he replied, "I saw a hawk up in the sky, and he was circling.
I thought he might be looking for food, so I was calling him and
letting him know that I had some fish for him."

"Heeeeeeeeere Hawk......heeeeeeeeeeere Hawk....." he kept repeating.

{Meet the food source: Mr. Plastic-Bath-Toy-Fish.}

Love this kid's heart. Love his imagination! Love the giggles he gives me day after day after day after day....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

CVS for the week of 6/28 and another money-saving tip

My trip this week was awesome! I wanted to share. *grin*

  • 2 bounty 8-pack paper towels (only one pictured--I couldn't fit the other one in!)+
  • 1 pack Orbit gum+
  • 2 packs new pretzel peanut M&M's
(gross to me--hate the sweet/salty combo--but a good treat for the boys!) +
  • 2 Banana boat sunscreens ($7 ECB back)+
  • 1 Ziploc sandwich baggies+
  • 1 Ziploc quart freezer baggies+
  • 6 Ziploc Gallon freezer baggies
($5 ECB back for each purchase of four Ziplock = $10 back)+
  • 2 Stayfree

3 transactions-- two on my card, and one on Shane's.

I did Shane's transaction first, and here is the breakdown:
4 Ziplock
Total merchandise? $15.56 plus tax
Subtotal with sale prices: $10 plus tax
Used (2) $1 off coupons and $4 ECB from last week
New total: $4.65
with $5 ECB back!
They paid me for shopping.

Then mine:
1 Bounty
2 M&M
2 Banana Boat
minus coupons:
$5 off $25
$2 and $.25 Bounty
BOGO M&M (they were BOGO at CVS which = 2 free!)
(2) $1 Banana Boat
minus $10 and $5 ECB from last week
$27.85 worth of merchandise for an out of pocket total of:
$7 in ECB back!
Yay! Paid again.

4 Ziploc
1 Bounty
2 Stayfree
1 Orbit (needed a cheap filler to put me over $25--clearance gum is always a great option!)
minus coupons:
$5 off $25
(2) $1 Ziploc
$2 and $.25 Bounty
(1) BOGO Stayfree (worth 6.99--and Stayfree was BOGO so they were both free again)
$3 ECB and $1 ECB from last week
$39.02 worth of merchandise for a total of:
with $5 ECB back!!
Paid. Again.

$82.43 worth of merchandise
$11.28 out of pocket
$17 Extra Care bucks back in my pocket.
A $5.72 moneymaking trip!

And here is the ultimate kicker:
SC Johnson had a mail in rebate (ended 6/30) worth $5 on the purchase of three of their products--Ziplock included. I will apply twice more for the Ziplock I purchased (rebate is good up to three times and I already sent one in for three Windex I bought) and will receive a check in the mail for $10.

Meaning: between CVS and SC Johnson, I will be paid $15.72 for taking the above merchandise home.


I can't. I still can't believe I can shop like this!

"But what on earth do you do with all those baggies?"

Baggies get major use at our house. I choose to use the good ones for the freezer--and they are not cheap. I need them constantly for my baking and my meat storage.

My garden is starting to produce the first zucchini of the season (yay!) and soon I will be baking my zucchini bread. When all is said and done, I usually bake somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 loaves.

{Yes, I know that seems crazy...but between Shane and my three boys, we can go through one and a half loaves just in one breakfast! I freeze my loaves and we eat it all year round. }

I wrap the bread well in foil and then store two loaves in one gallon Ziploc bag.

Also, I always, always stock up when meat is on sale. Seems like a "duh", right? But this one actually took me a little while to figure out. Buying the family pack always seemed like too much meat--and I felt like it would be a waste. Here's how I make it work for our family:

I bring the meat home, fillet the breasts, divide it all up between freezer baggies, add marinade according to my menu if necessary, seal them up and freeze them.

The breasts below made one meal of Italian marinated breasts for the grill, one bag of regular, and one smaller bag of diced chicken for a casserole. Also pictured are my clearance legs--one BBQ and one marinated in Balsamic vinegar, both for the grill. All this meat (five meals worth) cost me a little less than $10--less than $2 per meal, for a family of five eaters.

I seal out all the air, and freeze them flat to save room in my freezer. You can see the ones that are already frozen on the bottom, below the marinated ones. I pull them out the night before, and as they defrost, they marinate. Saves time when you need something quick to grab for a dinner prep.

This tip works great for us, and really saves big money when I stock up at the sale price.

What about you--are you CVSing yet? What is your BEST money-saving tip??