Friday, February 26, 2010

Sam's Club - order and pickup

Not sure if everyone has a Sam's Club near them, but they are great!  I believe Cosco is pretty similiar.  Other states may have their versions of these stores?  Anyway, it is a great place to buy in bulk as well as get your fresh food.  I often get milk, fresh fruit, bread, cakes, meat, diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.

Just recently I have started to put in my Sam's order online and then the next day my husband can pick it up on his way home from work.  It works out so nice for both of us.  I don't buy any more than I NEED because I just go by my list and add those items to my cart.  (This place is filled with food to tempt you and when I actually go into the store, it is hard to leave without spending $200) And it is great for my husband because he doesn't have to wait in line to checkout.  He just goes to the service counter and they bring it all to him!  Perfect.

Of course you can't get everything you need at the store but you can get the majority. And by putting in the order online you save time, gas, money and your sanity!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good Pre-school/Toddler Ideas and Websites

Ever since I have been staying home (almost 2 years now), I have been looking for ideas of things to do with the little girls - one will be 3 at the end of May and one is 19 months.  I have researched quite a few websites.  I was looking for something FREE of course .  I did find a lot of good curriculum that you could buy but they are little young yet to make it worth it.  And when you can get (almost) the same thing for free, why pay right?  I did get a lot of good ideas while researching and found great sites that I visit often to refresh my list.

Here are some of the things we TRY to do on a daily basis.
(I know you are probably thinking [well at least my Dad is thinking - love you Dad] 'She is at home all day, how can she not get all of this in?' Believe me, the days go by alot faster than when you are sitting at a desk.  Between breakfast, getting dressed/teeth/hair, morning snack, lunch, naps, afternoon snack, dinner and bedtime routines there really isn't a lot of time to do a lot of structured activities.)

Anyway... here they are:
  • Coloring or painting (some type of art)
  • Puzzles, legos, beads or blocks (or other fine motor skill activities)
  • Large motor - climbing, playing catch, soccer, running, tag, bikes, etc.
  • Pretend play - girls love to play house, kitchen or school with their older sister
  • Circle time - see previous post
  • Books
  • Flashcards
Here are a few of the websites that I use to get ideas, print off color sheets, worksheets, etc.: - probabaly one of my favorites!  I love the calendar station. She has a monthly calendar of just one or a few ideas to do each day so it isn't so overwhelming.  However, all of her information is great!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laundry day....again

I dread laundry day(s).  I would love for it to only last one day, but often times it goes on for 2 or 3 days.  I would say that I probably do about 6 to 8 loads each week.  About a year ago my sister introduced me to great hangers in which you can hang outfits together - what an invention!  I am probably way behind the ball on this one, but I am using them now and love them! 

To help speed up putting away laundry, I bring both the normal hangers and the outfit hangers into the laundry room and put the clothes on hangers right after taking them out of the dryer, instead of folding them first.  For so long I was folding all the laundry just to unfold most of it and then put it on hangers.  By bringing in the hangers and getting the right kind of hangers, it has saved me tons of time on laundry day(s).

The outfit hangers also help to save time when you are trying to find something for the kids to wear.  When the pants and shirt are already together on the hanger, all you need to do is grab it and you are ready!  It has helped my husband tremendously when he has to get the girls dressed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Silverware/Hair/Toothpaste and Brush organizer

I know many of you have these in your house, but probably in your silverware drawer and junk drawer.  With a house full of girls we have MANY hair accessories and these drawer organizers come in handy to organize all the clips, pony tails, head bands, etc.  Most of the time things get mixed up a little, but it is still better than what it could look like if they just threw them all in a pile.

I am also using more of a "junk" drawer organizer to organize all the kids toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, etc.  I even found compartments for the girls' earrings and clippers.

Gotta love cheap organizational items!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

House Décor put to good use

Sometimes the common kitchen organizational tools just don't quite fit.  So, I took a few home décor items that I am not using now and tried them out in the kitchen.  The vase worked perfectly for all my favorite kitchen utensils that I use often.  (I have seen many people do this, so I am not taking any of the credit.)  I also decided to use this wooden leaf platter to store fruit and other items that I want to sit out on the counter. 

Neither one cost me more money and they added something new to the kitchen!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ideas for Lent

It is officially lent and we are ready!  We filled a white board on Tuesday night with things we are going to give up as well as something we are going to work on during lent.  As a family we decided to give up pop, even though the kids hardly ever have it.  It was a good thing for everyone to do.  I decided to give up both chips and pop as they are my weakness!  It will be hard, but that is the point, right?  Plus, maybe it will help me shred these 15 pounds I really want to lose! 

During lent it is sometimes hard to think of things to make on fridays with no meat.  Here are a few ideas to help make meal planning a little easier:
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Alfredo with broccoli
  • Cheese raviolli
  • Cheese enchiladas
  • Cheese pizza
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Cereal
  • Veggie Soup
  • Fish  - so many options here!
  • Tuna Casserole
  • Tuna sandwiches
  • Meatless spaghetti, salad and garlic toast
  • Pancakes/French Toast
  • Noodles w/Veggies (variety of sauces to pick from)
  • Egg Pizza, Omelets, etc.
  • Egg salad sandwiches
If you have any good lenten recipes or ideas, please share!

Friday, February 12, 2010

All this snow sure makes a mess!

Boots, Boots and more Boots! With all this snow, comes lots of  water, dirt and mess in the mud room.  Here is my version of a boot mat to keep all the mess and wetness to a minimum. I saw a really neat item in Bed, Bath and Beyond last year that was just like this but a ltitle longer.  They wanted $20 for it I think.  I found the top lid of a big rubbermaid container to serve the same purpose.  As soon as the kids come in from outside, they put their boots on the lid.  The ridges all around the lid keep the water and dirt only on the lid and not on my floor. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Favorite Mary Kay Products

I may be a little biased because I sell Mary Kay products, but I do really think they are great!  I have been using/selling Mary Kay for almost 7 years now.  I haven't done a party in a while, I normally just put in an order about once a month.  I am not the type of person to force things upon people and I really don't like asking people to spend their money.  So, when I put in an order, I just send out an email and ask people if they are interested in ordering or trying anything and then I add their products to my list and everyone is happy.  I am able to get my products for free that way, but I am not really making any money off it, but that is fine with me.

Anyway,  I thought I would share with you some of my favorite products they they have to offer.  I have tried many differnt types of makeup, both expensive and inexpensive and I have to say that I am most happy with Mary Kay.  My skin feels great, they have a good variety and hopefully the age fighting lotions and creams pay off.  My sister calls them - all my magic potions :-)  I guess I won't know if they REALLY work for a while but I like to think they are!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Lash Lengthening Mascara

Eye primer - This makes all of your eye makeup go on so much better and keeps it in place

Age-fighting Eye cream - When using this cream you will actually feel your skin tightening

Gold Rush lip gloss - staple lip gloss

Pink Diamonds lip gloss - another staple lip gloss

Tinted moisturizor - This is so great for spring/summer/fall!  It really does serve both purposes of moisturizor and foundation, plus is has SPF

Bronzing powder - I LOVE this product.  I use it all year long!

Cleanser, Moisturizor, Day/Night cream - these are what my sister calls my Magic Potions. Love them!

Microdermabrasion Set - Using this will make your skin feel so soft and smooth.  I can tell when my sister uses it, it just gives your skin such a natural glow! I use once a week.

Roll up bag - this bag is great for all your makeup.  I have also used it for art supplies and scrapbook stuff

Eye Makeup remover - Last but certainly not least is another staple. I haven't used any other removers but I don't have to because this one is great and so sensitive on my eyes.  Probably my top selling product.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More uses for magazines and a 3 ring binder

I love my magazines and should probably read more books instead of them, but I do get a lot of valuable information from them and I keep it for further reference. Some of my favorite magazines are Real Simple, InStyle, Fitness Magazine, Rachael Ray Magazine and Kraft Foods Magazine.

Here are some things that I tear out of these magazines to keep in a 3 ring binder:
  • Organizational Tips
  • Home Decor ideas
  • Gift Ideas
  • Recipes - I have a seperate binder just for recipes and organize them by type of dish.  It is amazing how many recipes you can find in all of the above magazines
  • Activities for the kids
  • Workout tips and moves - I have a seperate binder for all the exercise moves and have them organized by body part.  You could take one sheet from each body part and you would have a workout for the week and then the following week get another sheet from each.  It is an easy way to add variety to your workout.
  • Perfume Samples - Recently I was in the market for a new perfume.  I started collecting all the perfume samples from magazines and tried them out.  It was a great way to sample so many perfumes.  It turns out that I really liked the Mariah Carey perfume, which I would have never bought if I wouldn't have tried it.
  • Outfit Ideas - I have listed this before but you really can get so many different wardrobe ideas from magazines.  It saves you money and really makes you use what you have.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A dress as a shirt - what a fashion statement!

I can thank a very close friend of mine for this next tip (KB).  I first saw it on her little girls.  She had them both dressed in cute little dresses but with pants under them.  I thought, what a great idea!!  The dresses were too short to wear by themselves but they still fit, so why not just put a pair of pants or leggings under the dress and it instantly became a shirt!

I reuse so much of the girls clothes in this same way:
  • Pants that become too short turn into capris and sometimes even shorts
  • Dresses as shirts
  • Sweaters/jackets become overshirts that you just don't close
  • Shorts fit for a few spring/summers because the girls seem to thin out but not grow too much that they become to short on the legs
  • Tights become leggings (with a little help from Grandma's sewing)
  • Wearing a long sleeve shirt under a tank, short sleeve shirt or dress
With the way they make clothes, little baby clothes can still fit even when they are 1 or 2.  Or in Avery's case, 4 or 5.  She is just a petite little thing!  Izzie is modeling one of her shirt dresses with the long sleeve shirt under on the left.

Next time you are going through the kids closets and think things are too small or you need to get a whole new wardrobe, see what you can do to make it last just a bit longer.  I bet you will be surprised what may still fit! 

(Note: I haven't found a way to make boys clothes last longer and they are almost always ruined after one season :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cereal for Supper? (or Dinner, whatever you call it)

I admit it, we have cereal for supper sometimes.  Well actually, probably once a week.  I know, I was just telling you how I plan out our meals so that we eat healthy.  However, eating cereal can be healthy, it is so much fun for the kids and they eat ALL of their food!(without being asked multiple times)  They really love cereal night and we usually "plan" to do it once a week. 

Our son plays hockey and we have to get him to practice twice a week by 5:30.  This doesn't leave much time to enjoy a nice family dinner, but we still try to sit down and eat together. A family dinner on some nights just consists of something quick with very little clean up.  I would like to say that they eat the healthy no sugar cereal, but they don't.  And, I am not ashamed of it.  There are a lot of worse things that they could be eating than a nice big bowl of cereal with milk (which I make them drink out afterwards, so we don't waste it.) 

So, next time you are in a pinch for supper/dinner, suggest to your kids that you have cereal night - I bet they will be thrilled!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What would I do without my storage bins?

I am a sucker or anything organizational.  Like I have said before, if I would have the money, I would have many things to better organize my home. But, like everyone, you make do with what you can.   I do have a few organizational items that are great though and inexpensive...

The GREAT plastic storage container

These things are a steal and work wonders! The bins are perfect for organizing all sorts of toys.  They are being used here for play food and snap-n-style dolls/puppies.  I am also using them for polly pockets, littliest pet shop and my little pony sets as well as legos and puzzles - you name it!  I love these particular containers because the top snaps on tightly yet they are not to hard for young children to open and close.  The kids can get out the container they want to play with and easily put it all back!

I have also used the containers with drawers to organize the play kitchen utensils, plates, and cookware as well as all their play doll clothes, food/bottles, diaper bags, etc. 

I like that the kids know they can play and make a mess but that everything does have a spot to go back to.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Never thought I would like exercise DVDs

Last fall when our treadmill motor went out I was forced to try something else for a workout routine.  I have tried workout videos before but never really stuck with them.  When I was on the treadmill I was working out and watching TV at the same time.  I was getting two things done at one time, which was so nice.  I had a hard time spending 30 mins to 1 hour in front of the TV just exercising until I found some DVDs that I just love!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Biggest Loser Boot Camp - circuit training with light weights
Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga - Yoga
Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred  - circuit training with light weights and cardio
Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones - circuit training with light weights and cardio
The Method Pilates - Target Specifics - Pilates and some light weights
Core Fusion Body Sculpt (Exhale) - pilates type moves with matwork
Core Fusion PilatesPlus (Exhale) - pilates type moves with matwork

All of these videos are great and I really see the results.  Every one does something different so I never get sick of it and they are all customizable. If you only have 10/15 mins or have an hour, there are workouts on each video that you can customize to the time you have.

We did just recently purchase a new treadmill, so I am running a little more now.  However, I still try to do 3 or 4 of these workouts a week.  I feel like I am in better overall shape when I work my body in all different ways.  The funny thing is that sometimes the kids ask if they can do them with me and most of the videos are easy enough and short enough that they can be adapted for children as well.

The best part about the videos is that they are very inexpensive and really deliver results!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Make Plans

I heard a saying lately, "Failure to plan is planning to fail."  (not sure who said it or where I saw it)  I agree with this statement.  It can apply to many aspects of your life.  For me, it rings true when planning meals.  If I don't plan out what we are going to eat, then we just throw something together quick, which is most cases, is not very healthy at all.  I have an image below of a meal plan that I use for a meal plan for our family.  I normally do them on Sunday night. I plan out the full week and then do any grocery shopping I need to on Sunday or Monday. It is a good way to go through your fridge, freezer and pantry to use up items that have been in there a while that you may have forgotten about. 

I enter ideas for meals at the bottom of the template so that I can use them to help me think of things.  If you need more ideas, the Kraft Foods website and magazine are great.  You could email a few friends and have them all share 5 dinners that they prepare and that will easily up your listing.   I have also used our school lunch menu to get ideas.

This plan is a template from word that I changed just a bit.  They have many to choose from.  If you would like to use mine and change for your family, just send me an email and I will send it to you.  I also use the word calendar templates for many other things; workout schedules, daily activity schedules for the girls, chore charts, calendars for my scrapbooks, etc.  They really have many possibilities.  There is something about writing things down and seeing them on a calendar that makes you stick to it.