Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Body After Baby Challenge


The baby weight is not falling off like it did with my first child so when I saw this challenge, I knew I needed to jump on it. For the next 8 weeks, Mama Notes is having a Body After Baby Challenge. I've been working on changing bad habits that have crept in but I think this challenge will help keep me more accountable. For the record, it took me 9 months to lose the weight with my first, but I barely exercised . I know it will take at least 9 months to lose it again since I'm nursing, but I'm actually trying this time and it is still taking its precious time.

This week's challenge is to drink more water. I'm a huge water drinker but since having the second child, my Diet Coke habit has crept back in. I've been trying to curb it but it is a wonderful treat mid-afternoon when I'm physically and mentally exhausted. I'm going to work on limiting the soda to just a few times a week and focusing more on water. I will check back in next week and let you know how it goes, plus give details on the next challenge.

If anyone would like to join the challenge, head on over to Mama Notes for all the details.

Tightwad Tuesday: Soap Scum Remover

I've shared this tip before, but Lynnae over at Being Frugal shared her favorite frugal cleaning products today so I thought I would share one of mine: shampoo. Shampoo is a great soap scum remover and the cheap stuff actually works the best. Simply rub it on your shower doors and watch the soap scum rub off. This is a great way to use old shampoo that has just been taking up space in your bathroom.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ecostore Product Review & Giveaway

A few weeks ago, Ecostore USA contacted me to try out some of their plant based products. Always wanting to be more environmentally friendly, I thought this sounded like a great product to review. They sell household cleaning, baby, and personal care products that do not contain harsh chemicals. Our family has several skin allergies so I chose to review the baby body wash and the laundry soap hoping to find an ecofriendly alternative to what we already use.

I started using the baby body wash as soon as I received it. I loved the fact that I wasn't using nasty chemicals on the baby or preschooler. The soap has a slight, refreshing scent which I liked. After several days of use, there were no rashes on either child so I was a happy mom. Many soaps break out our preschooler but it looks like we found something that did not.
With such great results, I looked forward to trying the laundry liquid. I first tried it on a load of towels just to see how I liked how the product worked. Once again, the first thing I noticed was how great it smelled. I liked that my towels seemed clean and still soft so I moved on to washing clothes. This is when the allergy issue reared its ugly face. It wasn't my kids who had the problems with it, it was me. I'm always watching out for what my preschoolers clothes are washed in because he breaks out with everything but this product did not seem to cause and issue at all for him. I, on the otherhand, broke out with a very itchy rash. I have a feeling it was from the perfume as most scents cause strange reactions to me. Please do not let this deter you from a great product as my family tends to be allergic to strange things. Overall, I liked the product and felt my clothes were very clean and not dingy like some ecofriendly cleaners tend be.

Ecostore USA offers a lot of other great products, such a plant and mineral based household cleaners. Since having children, I watch out for the chemicals I'm using around the house and this company offers a great alternative to your basic cleaners. These products are available at their website and have recently begun showing up on the shelves at Meijer grocery stores. I noticed on their website that they are having some good sales too so go check them out. Also, check out the Ecostore USA blog to sign up for their newsletter to recieve notice of upcoming sales, coupons, and more.

The great people at Ecostore have offered my readers a $25 gift certificate to try out their ecofriendly products. In order to enter, please leave me a comment below with your favorite ecofriendly tip. You may receive additional entries by subscribing to this blog and/or blogging about this giveaway. Simply leave a separate comment for each additional entry.

This contest ends next Tuesday, Oct 6 at 8 pm CST. I will draw a winner at that time and they will have 48 hours to contact me to claim the prize.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Babywearing Week: Sleepy Wrap Review

This is me holding our newest edition while he sleeps in the Sleepy Wrap. Please excuse the strange look, I was caught off guard by the camera.

This week is International Babywearing Week so I thought I would highlight my favorite wrap. I was always intimidated by a wrap because it looks complicated but I finally took the plunge when our newest was only a few weeks old. I bought the Sleepy Wrap because it had good reviews and I could use my SwagBucks to purchase it from Amazon.com. After a few tries, I realized how easy it was to use and I wish I would have had it with our first child.

I had a Snugli with my first child and he hated it. Honestly, I'm not sure he would have liked any carrier because he simply hated being still for more than two seconds (and still does) but I think he would have liked the Sleepy Wrap better simply because there are various ways to hold the baby instead of just upright. With the second child, I bought a sling, thinking it would be the answer to carrying a newborn while chasing an active toddler. Turns out, the sling isn't for me. Our second child wasn't very happy in it but I was uncomfortable too so that may have contributed to it. I pulled out the Snugli and discovered our newborn wasn't big enough for it yet and that is when I set out on a mission to find something we both would like.

By the way, he is now big enough and my husband thinks the Snugli is the best thing ever. We actually have been known to fight over who would wear the baby because we love having him snuggled up next to us.

My favorite part of the Sleepy Wrap is that as long as I tie it tight, I do not have to re-tie it as you have to do with some wraps. The material is stretchy and conforms to your baby. I also like that it is easy to use and comes with a booklet showing you various ways to hold your baby. Once you get the basic wrap down, you do not have to learn more, just how to maneuver the parts to hold your baby in different ways.

Food Friday: Oscar's Garbage Pail Cookies

This recipe comes from the Sesame Street book "Yummy Cookies". My son "bought" me this book for Christmas last year since I love to cook. He thinks it is actually his book though and it sits on his bookshelf, not with my cookbooks. To be honest, I've only made three recipes from it and the first two were awful. This one, however was pretty good. I like it because you can use whatever you have on hand. I didn't have peanut butter chips so I used chocolate chips instead. We used an assortment of leftover candy from our pantry instead of mini M&M's. I also like that it gave me an excuse to use the little bit of leftover sour cream I had in the fridge and the random can of peanuts that I found this week.

Oscar's Garbage Pail Cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soa
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 egg
1 T water
1 t vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup mini candy-coated chocolate pieces (mini M&M's)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the sour cream, egg, water, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, beat until blended.

3. Stir in the peanut butter chips, peanuts and candy-coated chocolate pieces. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Pay at the Pump

I have a slight addiction to trying new snack foods. I learned many years ago that gas stations tend to have all the new snack foods and drinks available and they are usually by the door or the cash register. Once I caught on to this, I began always paying at the pump. It saves me a lot of money and calories by not having that temptation staring me down every time I go in to pay. This past weekend I stepped foot into a gas station for the first time in ages and a wave of excitement came over me. I quickly grabbed the Diet Coke I came in for, paid, and got out of there before I bought more than I came in for.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Organization 101: No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

As I mentioned last week, I'm going to share some organizational tips each week for the next several weeks. Some tips will be for organizing the clutter, while others will be for organizing your life.

This week's tip came from a friend who is a professional organizer. A few years ago, I was complaining to her that my house was a mess and never organized. She pointed out that it was actually very organized, just not in the way I was wanting it to look. She showed me areas she could tell that I use every single day and told me to simply clean up the areas and find pretty baskets to store things in. She explained that we have habits where we sit things every time and there is no need to reinvent the wheel by trying to move where we put those things. For instance, my husband and I always put our keys in the same place every time. Instead of trying to make a new place, we simply made a nice area to put them. We also found our coats and bags always landed in the same place so we bought a decorative coat hanger and put it right where everything always landed.

This week, look for the common areas you use daily in your house and see how you can make them look more organized.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Food Friday: Peanut Butter Snowballs

This was one of my favorite treats growing up. Mom would always make them at Christmas but occassionally at other times throughout the year. Now that my son has outgrown his rice allergy, I look forward to making them with him too.

Peanut Butter Snowballs

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups rice cereal

Mix first 3 ingredients then add cereal. Shape into balls and refrigerate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: 15 Minutes to a Clean House

Does it feel like your house is never clean and organized? One of the best tips I learned years ago is to set a timer for 15 minutes and clean as much as you can in that time. In our house, we set the timer once dinner is cleaned up and everyone is involved. It is so easy to tell my oldest to go play in his room so we can clean, but that is not teaching him anything. I usually pick an easy task for him such as picking up his trains and then if he gets done before the timer goes off, I will find something else for him to do.

You will be amazed how much you can accomplish with as little as 15 minutes. On good days, I will set the timer of a morning too but that doesn't always happen. I also find that sometimes I get in the groove and just keep going once the timer goes off. On days I do not want to pick up the house or get out the cleaning supplies, I remind myself that 15 minutes is such a small portion of my day and I will feel so much better when it is over because I have accomplished something.

This week, try to dedicate 15 minutes every day towards cleaning your house. Come back next week as I am starting a new mini series on organizing your house and life. Early in the week each week, I will post a new tip and challenge you to implement that tip that week.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Organizing Series

First of all, I apologize for a very quiet week around here last week. I was sick with a nasty cold all week. I was feeling better this weekend and planned on catching up but my husband hijacked the computer in order to get some homework done. He went to bed early tonight so I've reclaimed the computer for now.

I've decided to start a mini series on organization. For those of you who know me, you may be wondering why I'm qualified to write on this topic. My house is a wreck most days thanks to my wild and crazy preschooler. I know the concepts to get the house in order and some days work hard to get it there, but most days our house very much has the lived in look. If you will look close though, you can see where I've been trying hard to stay organized.

In the first few weeks our youngest was around, I had a lot of time on my hands while feeding him. I picked up a few organization books and I learned a few new tips, along with being reminded of some oldies but goodies. I plan on posting one tip a week that either I've been using or I've recently come across and plan to implement. Some will be quick and easy and some will require a little more effort.

I challenge you to work on the tip that week and eventually, we will all have a more organized home and life. Along the way, feel free to share your tips and tricks so we can all learn from each other. Stayed tuned as the first tip will be in tomorrow's Tightwad Tuesday post.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Food Friday: Citrus Broccoli

This is an easy way to make broccoli and is perfect for company because it tastes like you spent more time on it than you did.

Citrus Broccoli

1 1/2 lbs fresh broccoli
1 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice

Trim off leaves of broccoli and remove tough ends of lower stalks. Wash broccoli and cut into flowerets. Arrange broccoli in a vegetable steamer over boiling water. Cover broccoli and steam 3-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm. Melt margarine in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add orange rind and orange juice; cook, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Pour sauce over broccoli.

Serves 6. 58 Calories, 1.4g Fat, 10g Carbs, 3.6g Protein, 44mg Sodium

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Home Depot: Do-It-Herself

Home Depot offers some great free classes but many people do not realize not all classes are for the guys. They also offer classes geared towards kids and women. Home Depot has a class for women on kitchen updates coming up on September 24. What women wouldn't like their kitchen updated? Click the box to sign up for a class in your area. Even better, invite your friends and have a fun girls night out learning something new.

Tightwad Tuesday: Coffee Tip

Since having kids, I have come to rely on my morning cup of coffee to get me going. To be honest, it isn't the caffeine that gets me going, it is the 5 minutes I take to sit and enjoy my coffee before tackling the day. I actually usually make half caff but I look forward to that cup every morning.

I get compliments all the time on my coffee and it is because of a little secret - I add cinnamon to the grounds before I brew it. Just a shake or two on top of the grounds adds such a wonderful flavor. A relative who used to own a coffee shop once told me to add a dash of Sweet n Low too and it would cut the acidity.

Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and five minutes of rest before tackling your next project.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Food Friday: 5 Cup Salad

Cooking doesn't get much easier than this. This dish used to show up at every family potluck. My mom resurrected it a few years ago and it was a nice walk down memory lane. For added color, used colored marshmallows.


1 cup coconut

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup mandarin oranges

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup sour cream

Mix together and chill overnight.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Setting Goals

It is hard to reach the finish line if you do not know where you are going? Many of us wander through life with no clue where we are going. The easiest way to get from point A to point B is with goals. Here are a few tips on how to write attainable goals:

Look towards the finish line. Decide what your ultimate goal is and put a date as to when you would like to achieve that goal.

Break it down. Now, break down the goal into smaller goals and assign dates to them also.

Write it down. Simply keeping the goal in your head works for a few, but writing it down can be very powerful.

Keep it in front of you. Display the goal(s) in a place where you will see it at least once a day.

Evaluate often. Sometimes life gets in the way and we realize our goals are not attainable. There is no need to abandon them though, simply evaluate them and see how they can be changed to fit the current circumstances.

Goals can be for anything from paying off a debt to losing weight to getting a promotion at work. I currently have two goals that I am working hard towards obtaining. There are many others in life I would like to accomplish, but these are were my effort is at right now. The first is weight loss. I would love to be one of the lucky people who give birth and suddenly the weight just falls off. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. To keep me from getting frustrated I created a date I would like all of the weight to be off. I then worked backwards and found milestones in between that I can be working towards. It has made a huge difference because I'm working on 5 lbs at a time, rather than the whole thing.

The other main goal I'm working on is building my Tupperware business. I started the business to make a little extra cash for spending money but when I lost my job at the end of May, Tupperware became my job. I'm having a blast at it but I have to run it like a business, not a hobby, to make any money. I am days away from making my first goal of becoming a manager. I have monthly goals laid out for myself from now until the end of the year. At that point, I will re-evaluate and see where I would like to go from there.

Both of these goals are written in detail on notecards and are sitting in front of the sink in my bathroom. I look at them every morning as I get ready. I even sometimes add to them or mark off the smaller goals as I reach them.

I challenge you today to work towards achieving at least one of your goals. Write it down and follow through. Feel free to post back with your results.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Coupon Organization Tip

People tell me all the time that they would like to start using coupons but it is just too much work for them. The best tip I can give is to organize your coupons weekly, instead of letting them pile up. When I do this weekly, it usually takes less than 30 minutes to clip the coupons, organize them, and pull together my grocery list. The times I put off my coupon organization for a week or two, I really regret it because it takes a lot longer.

Also, once a month I clean out my coupon binder and get rid of anything that has expired. It is much easier to find what I need when I'm not searching through a bunch of expired coupons.

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