Thursday, January 27, 2011


First I would like to say hello to all my new Italian friends coming to check out the blog!  I was linked to by Homemademama, she linked to my marble painting, and now I'm getting hits from Italy all over the place!

Yesterday we celebrated snowmen with the moms group.  I was trying to figure out what craft to do, because since we are in a library we have to make sure the crafts are not too messy.  Adam offered to create a  print out page for the kids.  He made one that had 3 different size circles and a hat for the older kids to cut out, glue, and color, and then he did one of all the same images put together for the little ones to color.  We added the cut out to blue construction paper, add some brown coffee stirrers for arms, and some scrap felt pieces cut into scarves and you have a snappy little snowman!

Since this craft was at 4:30 instead of our normal 10:30, I wanted to make sure I gave the kids a snack that didn't mess up their little tummy's before dinner.  After searching the web, I came up with these!  A half of a mini whole wheat bagel, topped with whipped plain cream cheese, raisins for the eyes and mouth, and a half of a baby carrot for the nose.  The kids LOVED that they were snowmen and ate them up quickly. 

The books were a hit also.  The books we read were:
Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright
Snow Party by Harriet Ziefert

Snowmen bagels
 The kids kind of did their own thing with the snowmen.  D's is on top, then L's, and then mine.  I'm still not sure which way is up on D's.  The plus is that both kids cut out all the pieces by them selves!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Heart animals

Well as soon as Jan. 14th rolled around, I was getting ready to put up the Valentines day stuff.  I hung up the melted crayon hearts I made a few years back, and the construction hearts I made.  But I wanted something else this year.  So I pulled out some ideas from  And then Muffin Tin Mom had a link to the love birds.  Found here:  Moments of Mommyhood.  This was a great way to teach the kids about Heart shapes and how cut in half they are the exact same, but a different shape.  The kids LOVED doing these, and are proud to show them off on the walls.  Plus it adds fun color to the rooms.

Love Bugs
 Love Birds
 Heart Puppy

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hat and Mitten day

Today was Hat and Mitten day with the moms group.  We did this last year also.  We start by collecting new and slightly used hats and mittens to donate to the local battered women's shelter.  This year we did a hat and mitten coloring sheet, which I had gotten from The  I had the older ones try to make matching mittens.  My kids were acting a little crazy today, so I will try again at home with them.  I honor of the day I made hat cookies.  I knew I wanted to do this, and then lo and behold, Bake at 350 did just the other day also.  So I was sort of inspired by hers.  Last years craft was a mitten wreath.  I cut mitten shapes out of construction paper and had the kids glue them together to make a wreath.  They then were able to decorate the mittens how ever they wished to.  Everyone seemed to have a good time, and a plus was that we were able to do something good for someone else too!

The books we read were:
Under my hood I have a hat by Karla Kuskin
The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen
The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg

My hat cookie.  A lemon sugar cookie, topped with lemon royal icing, and cotton candy as the pom-pom.
 A whole slew of hats!
 Our coloring pages. Mine is on the left, L is in the middle, and D is on the right.
 My mitten wreath from last year

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snowy Handprint Trees

So like I said in the previous post, we are celebrating all the crazy amounts of snow we have gotten this last week, with fun crafts.  I found this one on  It seemed so easy, and fun.  This was a 2 day process for us because a little one put WAY too much paint on hers.  We had to wait a full 24 hours for it to be totally dry. 

It started out with a sheet of blue and white construction paper.  Cut the white one so that it looks like sweeping hills of snow, and glue it down to the blue paper.  I went ahead and did this for the kids so we would be ready to go for the next step.  I had my foam brush (cheap at Michaels), washable brown paint, wet wipes (for easy clean up), egg carton cups, and large paint brushes for the kids all ready.  I use my egg cartons for paint cups.  I just cut them to how ever many I will need per project.  For this one, I had one cup per child.  I squeezed a small amount of paint into each cup.  I then put some brown paint in a larger plastic cup that I had leftover, so that I could paint hands.  I painted my hand first to show the kids what we were doing.  Cleaned myself up, and then helped each kid paint their hand.  I then showed them how to paint a trunk on our tree, and let them go at it.  This is why it's good to have wet wipes close at hand, it can get messy!

I left the pages dry on the table for a day.  Today I had glue sticks, small bowls with sugar, and small spoons ready to go.  I once again, showed the kids how to put glue on their picture where they would want the sparkling snow.  I made sure we did this in steps to minimize the sugar mess.  We started with the branches, dumped the excess off, then the ground, and then the flakes in the sky. 

Both kids had a great time doing this project, it was easy, and not too messy.   Adam did suggest that we could use Kosher salt or glitter so we wouldn't attract bugs.  But seeing that it's barely in the 20's, I'm not too worried about that right now.  After the kids were done, I did notice that the glue sticks were full of sugar.  Not to worry.  Wipe the glue stick across a wet wipe and it cleans it right up!

Hand prints waiting to dry
 Start sprinkling
 This is fun mom
 A close up of my tree
 Our three trees hanging on the pantry

Snow paint

In the last week, our city has gotten over 4 feet of snow.  3 feet of that was pretty much over night last weekend.  We did the sledding thing, and this week we got more.  I made sure that the kids and I just stayed home for the most part of this week.  So in honor of all the snow, we did some snow crafts.  I have one more to post, but we are still waiting for D's paint to dry. 

I found this project on, and right now they are having a contest.  If you and your family do 5 craft challenges, you will be entered into a drawing to win prizes.  I signed us up today, why not!

This was super easy and a little messy.  I made sure that I put a plastic tablecloth down on top of the table first.  We were doing this craft and one with paint, just wanted to make sure they table didn't get too messy!  You just need to mix equal parts white school glue with shaving cream.  I mixed them up in plastic cups that I had leftover from a party this summer, and mixed it with a plastic knife.  (I didn't know how messy or bad it would be to clean up.)  I gave the kids each their own cup, a sheet of blue construction paper, and a larger paintbrush.  I should them how to do it, and then let them go at it.  They had a great time trying to make snowmen and snow flakes.  When we woke up this morning, both kids were eager to check out their pictures to see how they looked!

My snowman scene
L and D having fun with the snow paint!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What did you say?

While reading the kids a book about President's day that focus's on the Presidents on Mt. Rushmore, we get to the end of the book.  On the last page is a picture of each of them, and D gets all excited.  She tells me she wants to name them all by herself.

Okay, I say, go for it!

"Okay mom, George Washington, um Jefferson???, Lincoln Logs, and Teddy"

Close enough sweet pea, close enough!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Penny Pincher's Club

As some of you know, I organize a local moms group.  Some of the members had been asking me how I can shop for a family of 4 and keep my grocery bills low.  We decided to create a Penny Pinchers club for the group.  We just had our first meeting and plan on meeting the first wednesday of every month.    In the coming months we are going to work with themes.  Next months theme is Meatless Mondays.  All the members are going to try at least 1 meatless meal in the next month, and bring the recipe with them to the mext meeting.  We will then dicuss whether the meal worked or was liked by the family.  We can then talk about what we could change or what we liked.  It will be a good way for everyone to share recipes that they find that work for their family and budget.  Here are some of the tips that I gave out for our first meeting.

- I keep all my recipes in a binder with the plastic sheet protectors because I find recipes from all over the place.  This makes it very helpful to search through and pick out the meals I am choosing to make for that week.  I can also have them out on the counter and they wipe up very easily in the plastic.
-Menu planning is great!  I do 2 weeks at a time, but I don't assign meals for each day.  I plan for 10-12 meals depending on what is going on those weeks.  Like around the holidays I knew we wouldn't be home on certain night.
-I do use coupons, but I don't go crazy over them.  I get the Sunday paper and only clip out the coupons that I know I will be using.  You can search for coupons online also.  If there is a certain product that you are a fan of, check out their website or Facebook page for special deals.  Did you know that Target also has coupons?  Did you also know that at most places they allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufactuer's coupon?  There are also some stores that will double coupons up to a certain amount.
-I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi's, Meijer, and Dollar Tree.  If you haven't been in an Aldi's in a long time or ever, I really encourage you to do so.  You can find amazing deals on all the stuff you normally buy at the store packaged in their brand name.  Dollar Tree is a store where everything is $1, not like some of those that mislead you to believe that it is.  You can find cleaners, paper goods, and office supplies for a great price!
-I have WIC, and it really does save money.  Not only am I getting healthy food for my family like milk, cheese, bread, and juice, but they now do fresh produce as well.  This last trip to the store I saved $40 just by using my WIC.
-Are you really in a bind and can't make ends meet?  Check out the local food pantry.  Most allow you to visit once a month, and only give a few basics, but sometimes it is well worth it.
-Have you ever tried to bake your own bread, muffins, rolls, bagels?  Well you can and it is super easy!  I have found the book Artisan Bread in 5 mins a Day is very easy.  If you can't afford to buy it, get it from the library and make copies of the recipes that you want.
-In the spring, plant a garden.  Even if you live in an apartment and only have a balcony, you can pick up a few containers and plant some herbs or tomatoes, and that will help.
-While you are preparing your garden, think about composting.  It is not for everyone, but it will make your garden even healthier.  You don't even need a container, just pick a small corner of your yard, and make sure to turn it over with a rake every other day or so.
-I save all my glass jars from my pasta sauce, clean them out, and use them to store all my dry goods like popcorn, rice, beans, peas, crackers, and cookies.  You can always see how much you have, they stay fresh, and they don't get crushed in your cabinents.
-If you have babies, try making your own wet wipes, and baby food.  They are both very easy to do and easy to find searching on the internet.
-Switch to cloth napkins and real dishes.  It will add up to savings throughout the year, and think of how you are helping the Earth too!  Want to save money on that even more?  Head to your local craft shop and pick up some bandanas for dirt cheap, and find dishes at Walmart or even the Dollar store!
-I try to always carry reusable bags with me everywhere I go.  You can now find them at most stores for around $1.99.  If you don't want to pay for bags, go dig in your closet.  Everyone has t-shirts that they don't wear anymore.  Turn them into bags.  Just cut the sleeves and neck line off, and stitch the bottom into a single seam.  They are super strudy and can stretch.  I tested this out by loading up all my library books in one, and taking it to the grocery store.  I have abused this poor bag and it still is working great!
-While you are menu planning, check out free sites to help you. is great because it's free, you can use it to menu plan, make a grocery list, and keep track of the entire family's calendar!
-A place for free entertainment, check out the library!  Not only can you get books, and music, but most have new release movies, and games!  Ours even has free passes to the local museums.  And think of all the great classes they offer!
-Want to know what is in your cleaners and save money?  Make your own!  They are very easy to do!
Laundry detergent 
and here is a nice site that has some other ideas for you!
-Looking for fun cheap crafts for the kids.  Start saving some of those recycleables and head over to Frugal Family Fun Blog and see what fun stuff you can come up with!
-Are your kids getting to big for some toys/clothes/books, then host a swap!  Get a group of moms together and share what you have that the kids don't use anymore.  Your kids will love getting new things that use to belong to friends!

I hope that this has helped a little bit and that you learned at least one new thing.  I'm always looking for more tips, so please feel free to share.  I will try next month to post some things that we discovered!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy 2011!

This year for New Years we decided to just stay home and be our little family.  We had unusually warm weather, no snow, and a little drizzle so we took a walk down the street to this little Chinese restaurant for lunch.  The kids did great!  It was the first time either of them used chopsticks.  L tried, but then resorted to the stab approach, while D got the hang of it.  We, at one point, took them away and tried to give her a fork.  She was not happy. 

For dinner, I picked up a shrimp ring, summer sausage, pepperoni, 3 blocks of cheese, crackers and pop.  What a special treat!  We then played a rousing game of Trouble!  For dessert, I had a plate full of fruits, cookies, and homemade peppermint marshmallows that we dipped into a yummy chocolate dip.  The kids got to stay up an hour past bedtime.  Adam and I then spent the rest of the night watching Season 2 of a television show called Castle.  Boy are we party animals!!!

We had a fun and full year, and are looking forward to another ahead for us.  Big things coming our way this year.  A possible move, D will be 4, L will be 5 and starting kindergarten.  Yikes!  Where has the time gone!!!

Christmas in Chicago

We take an annual trip up to Chicago for a special Christmas adventure.  Normally we drive in, but this year we decided to take the train in.  If you factor in all the costs of parking, gas, and tolls, it was almost the same price, and we didn't have to worry about driving in snow (we had gotten hit pretty bad the day before we were set to go).  Our first stop is always Marshall Fields on State Street.  We take a look at all the fun decorated windows.  This year the theme was Yes Virginia.  The kids loved it!  We then head in to see the big man in red.  The kids wrote their very own lists to Santa and made to sure bring them with.  There is a giant red mailbox that the kids can send their letters to Santa in.  We then had lunch in the Walnut room.  They always have a giant tree decorated fantastically.  Then it was time to bundle up again and head outside.  There is an amazing German Christmas Village set up in Daley Plaza every year.  The hubby and I try to not miss it, and have gone pretty much every year for almost the 10 years we have been together.  We make it a tradition to pick out our ornaments for the year there.  This year we had a underwater theme going.  D picked out a conch shell, L picked a ship, and Adam picked a deep sea diver!  We then took a walk to Grant park so the kids could see Cloud gate (THE BEAN!!!!), and watch the people ice skating.  We wrapped up the day with the trip home on the train.  A fantastic experience for all 4 of us, and something they are still talking about!

December in Pictures

How did I make it all the way through December with only 1 post?  I have been very busy.  On top of all the fun normal Holiday stuff, we did fun things all around.  Here are some of the highlights from our December!

 Adam and L both are VERY into video games now
Shopping with Santa at a local church

Snow angel D

Snow Angel L

The toddler "Republic" hat that I knit for D

L, D, and I made cutout sugar cookies and then they both frosted all of them.

They were very proud of what they did.  And look at that little cheese ball!

Our Christmas Eve gingerbread house

Before Santa arrived

My awesome present from Adam.  He made this out of a thin sheet of plexi glass.  It's awesome!

Related Posts with Thumbnails