Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jan week # 4 - Bottle and Cup Labels

Just thought I would pass along a great tip for labeling your child's cups or bottles. Especially works great when there are a bunch of kids around with the same cups. (ie. play dates, daycare, multiple children of your own).

You know those thick rubber bands that keep your veggies together at the grocery store? Keep them. Turn them inside out to the blank side. Take a ball point pen and write your child's name on it. Fits around all sizes of cups and bottles.

I have 3 kids and 2 do not read or spell their name yet. So I had them each pick a shape and I wrote that on the band with their names. This way my 3 yr old could recognize which cup was hers and which was her sisters. (ie. heart, smiley face, star, flower).

If you have any organization tips you would like to share please pass them along to me at I'd love to share them. Thanks - Tamra

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jan week # 4 - Healthy Snacks for Mom & Kids

One thing I know is that if I am hungry, I want to eat. And that usually means I will grab what is easy and convenient.

So to help me eat healthier, I have found that if I take some time on Sunday and prep a few snacks I will have healthier options to grab when hunger strikes. I hope the following tips will help you as much as they do me.

1. I will cut up some veggies (carrots sticks, celery, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli) and put them in snack bags. I make up some dip with light sour cream and Lipton's Savory herb and Garlic soup mix. I just mix it in the sour cream container and label it. Hummus as a dip for veggies is another yummy option.

2. I also put pretzels in snack bags so I can just grab a snack size portion rather than the whole bag. Helps me control my portions size. Dip them in hummus (my favorite brand is Sabra) and you have a yummy satisfying snack that will get you through til the next meal time.

3. Also making sure you have lots of fruit on hand. fruit you like. Bananas, grapes, apples, clementines, oranges. All portable and satisfying. Wash some seedless grapes and put them in snack bags. Slice up apples and mix them with a little orange juice so they wont brown, pack them in snack bags. Slice up oranges , place them in snack bags.

4. Trail mix is another good option. You can usually buy them in large bags. if you portion them into snack size bags you wont eat too much of it, yet it is a good snack in moderation. Nuts, dried fruit. Yummy and healthy. And kids LOVE this.

Having snack size portions ready to grab will also give you easy options for your kids snacks. When you are at home or on the go. If you have school aged kids, you can just grab and put a healthy snack in their lunch box. I know my kids want to snack all day long. This way I know I will have a good snack at the ready. If we are going out I put some in my diaper bag and I know wont have to grab something off the shelf that is not good for them, and it saves me money too.

Jan week # 4 - Sunday Circulars without buying the papers!

Weekly Sales Circulars & Sunday Newspaper Ads

Stop buying the newspaper just for the Sunday ads. SundaySaver is FREE & will save you time & money.

check this out. Its awsome. I used to go out just to get the weekend circulars to check out sales and coupons before I went grocery shopping each week. Now there is a website that does this for you. Its amazing! You can see all the stores in your area and compare sales.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jan week # 4 - Helpful Meal Tip for Moms with Babies & Toddlers

Taking some time in the beginning of the week to prep a few things will make your life all week long a joy at meal times for your baby.

1. Cut up small bite size pieces of veggies (carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli) and cook until tender. Make enough to last the week. Place in a Tupperware and at each meal just take out what you need. It makes that "witching hour" as we call it in my house, a bit easier to deal with. And you won't be scrambling to make dinner for the baby as well as the whole family. It allows you to offer him/her a healthier option to store bought and save so much time.

2. Another quicky is to take a sweet potato, poke a few times with a fork, cook in microwave til soft. store in a Tupperware and slice off pieces for meals throughout the week.

3. Have string cheese handly. peel strips and break into bite size pieces. works great to distract your little one while you get their meal to their tray. Also great when you are going somewhere during meal time.

I hope these tips make your meal time less stressful. I know it works for me! - Tamra

Jan week # 4 - This weeks menu

Sunday - Pot Roast, mashed potatoes, veggies
Pot Roast: in the morning place in a Croc Pot/slow cooker: pot roast, 2 cups brewed black coffee (believe it or not it adds a nice flavor), beef broth, 1 package onion soup mix, carrots, celery, onions. make sure liquids cover meat in pot. cook on low all day. It will be so tender around dinner time. yummy. make gravy from broth.
*store left over beef in the gravy. left overs will be used later in week for Beef Stroganoff.

Monday - Spaghetti with Meat sauce
meat sauce: cook onions & garlic in a little olive oil. then add chop meat. when brown add your favorite tomato sauce.
*brown double the meat and place half in a Tupperware for another meal later in the week.

Tuesday - Croc Pot Chicken. serve with roasted potatoes, veggies
Easy roasted potatoes: slice potatoes into chunks, place in large Ziploc bag with olive oil & shake to cover. then add onion soup mix & shake (amount of seasonings depend on amount of potatoes - don't use too much) . place on pan and cook in oven.
*See Jan week #3 'Dawns Croc Pot Chicken' for recipe. Also Henry's Chicken soup, make same day or store chicken bones etc for later. use left over chicken soup for meal later in week.

Wednesday - Beef Stroganoff w/ egg noodles & prefered veggies
*take leftover pot roast w/ gravy, cut meat into chunks, add sour cream. serve over egg noodles. with veggie of choice.

Thursday - Chili
kids option: tacos. they sell taco seasoning in a shaker container so you can use as much or little as you want. take a small bit of browned beef, add taco seasoning. Let the kids make their own tacos. you need taco shells, cheese, lettuce, any veggies they like & other toppings of choice. my kids love to make these. the messier the better!
Chili: use browned beef from earlier in the week and put in a pot w/ red kidney beans, tomato sauce & packet of chili seasoning. cook til heated through. serve with sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese & dollop of sour cream. tortilla chips on the side (use chips as your spoon and have as much fun as the kids!)

Friday - Chicken Soup
*If you made the soup already than just reheat. if not get recipe from Jan week #3 Dawns Croc Pot Chicken. See Henry's Chicken Soup recipe.

Saturday - Chicken Quesadillas
Take large flour tortillas and place on cookie sheet. sprinkle thin layer of shredded cheese, then cooked chicken slices, sauteed onions & peppers, another thin layer of cheese and top with another flour tortilla. bake til cheese melts. Slice into half then into 3rds. serve with sour cream, guacamole & salsa. great finger food.
*kids can make their own. let them choose what they want inside (chicken, favorite veggies, cheese). a better option than chicken nuggets.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jan week # 3 - A Good Read For Mommys - Januarys Book Club Recommendation From Ms. Betty the Librarian & Mom

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Review from Set in remote 19th-century China, this novel details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily's voice, See transmits historical background in graceful prose. Her in-depth research into women's ceremonies and duties in China's rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women's inferior status in both their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters' foot binding ("Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace"), the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should become a reading group favorite as well.

If you read Memoirs of a Geisha - you'll love this. The historical facts are so interesting. The relationship between the 2 women is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

I loved it! Hope you enjoy it too - Betty

*I'd Love to get your reviews of this book when you read it. I couldn't put it down. - Tamra

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jan week#3 - More Peanut Butter recalls!

sent in from Carina V

Costco sells the Austin Brand PB sandwich crackers in small snack size packages (I believe there are 50 in a box with mixed cookies). Please keep a look out and let your childcare providers know about the recall as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan week #3 - Dawns Whole Croc Pot Chicken Recipe

Sent in by Dawn L in LI, NY

Hi Tamra, I was home sick today and I was thinking of some meals for your blog. I finally went food shopping and saw at Waldbaums Americas Choice Whole Chickens for 69 cents a pound. So, I picked up a whole chicken about 3.5 lbs and paid $2.33 (or something like that) for it. Then, I got it home and didn't want to have to worry about cooking it in the oven. So, I found a recipe on line for whole crock pot chicken. I was a little concerned at first, but I went with it and it worked out great.

I changed it around a little, but the premise was the same. The good thing was the bones and left over chicken and broth was the start for a great chicken soup which can be either saved for another meal or frozen. The other nice thing was that I made the chicken and Henry made the soup.

Dawns Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe:
1 Whole Chicken, 3 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp Old Bay Spice, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 cup chopped onions, 3-4 chopped carrots, 4 garlic cloves.

In a separate bowl, mix spices (you can actually use any spices that you want, including lemon pepper) Make sure to remove giblets and thoroughly clean the chicken inside and out. Rub spice mixture into chicken (inside and out and even under the skin if you like). Place 1-2 garlic cloves inside the chicken (optional). Place chopped onion, garlic and carrots on the bottom of the crock pot. Add Chicken. No liquid needed. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. It falls right off the bone and is so juicy.

Henry's Chicken Soup: At the end of the above meal, Henry takes the broth with left over onions, carrots, chicken (making sure to remove all remaining meat from the bones) and places them in a pot.Add 2 cups of water, depending on how much broth is left. Add additional vegetables, we added fresh carrots. Bring to a boil, then let it simmer. Add any additional seasonings, if necessary. We add cumin, black pepper, salt if needed. This can either be used for an additional meal later in the week, and served with rice, or frozen for a later date.

Thanks Dawn for sending in these great recipes. I will be trying this next week in my menu. Can't wait to try it! Thanks - Tamra

Jan week #3 - My Virtual Model

Hi Ladies! I have found a great website called My Virtual Model. It allows you to make a virtual model of your body type. You choose your body shape (pear, top heavy or hour glass), choose your face shape, skin color, hair style & color, and you enter your weight and height. It gives you a pretty realistic vision of what you look like. It lets you virtually try on clothes to see what styles fit your body type best. Great for jeans! You find a shape that flatters your shape, than they give you the convenience of shopping by listing actually items you can purchase if you choose from stores like H&M, Bass, Sears, Lands End and many more. Or you can just use it as a tool for best styles.

It also has a weight loss simulator. You enter your current weight, then your goal weight and it will show you what you will look like when you reach your goal. Awesome.

I have listed the website link under my Great Website listing.

Jan week #3 - Full List of Peanut Butter Recalls

Hi ladies - I wanted to pass this information along to you as soon as I received it. I just received this link from Betty (or Ms. Betty as my daughter would call her) the Children's Librarian at our local library (thanks Betty). Here is a link to a full list of items recalled. Many of you have emailed about the Peanut Butter recall and were happy for the post yesterday.

Thanks for the feedback, I will do may best to continue to post important information like this. Again, if you have news like this please let me know and I will research the situation and post the updated info.

Thanks - Tamra

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jan week #3 - This Weeks Menu

Sunday - Roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, and asparagus (or veggie of choice)
*left over Roast Beef will be used later in the week for fajitas.

Monday -EASY -Sweet meatballs w/ egg noodles and oven roasted broccoli
*last weeks menu we made some extra and froze them. this makes for an easy meal. or you can also use the store bought kind which works great for this dish.

Sweet meatballs: take meatballs, put in a pot, add your favorite BBQ sauce let cook through. told ya that was easy ;).

Oven Roasted Broccoli: take the stalks of broccoli and place them on a pan, drizzle with olive oil and crushed garlic in the tree parts. sprinkle with salt and place under broiler for 20 min. they come out a bit crispy and so yummy.

Tuesday - Braised Paprika Chicken w/ onions and potatoes, and green beans (or veggie of choice).
*I found an amazing bargain at my local Grocery store. Chicken legs w/ thighs 5 in a package for only $2.89. This was approx 55 cents a pound. And this is their regular price. My husband loves roasted chicken but it is such a pain to carve off the bone and you don't really get too much meat. this option works great. they are individual portions. I usually pick up a few packages and separate them into 3's and freeze.

Braised Paprika Chicken: (I got this recipe from 'Ask Aida' on the Food Network)
Let the chicken legs/thighs rest til they are room temperature (approx 20 min.). Then pat down with a paper towel to get any moisture off. Make a rub w/ paprika (she suggested smokey paprika but any is fine), salt and pepper. Rub on all sides and cover legs with the rub. Heat a pan with vegetable oil and place the chicken in 3 min each side. while doing this cut onions. Take the chicken out of pan and add onions, cook til brown and caramelized. Add sliced potatoes and 2 cups chicken stock. Add chicken back in, bring to a boil then reduce heat to med/low. cover and cook 30 min on stove top until cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate. Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Add chicken, turn to moisten in sauce, and serve. so yummy!

*Tip: Aida suggests vegetable oil when browning meat because it has a higher burn temp. in other words it has to reach a higher temp than say olive oil to burn. So you will brown and not burn...sounds good to me!

Wednesday: Pork Roast w/ sweet potato fries & salad

Sweet potato fries: slice sweet potatoes into steak fry wedges. place on a pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. bake til done.

Thursday: Fajitas made Roast Beef leftovers, peppers and onions.

Friday: homemade Cal zones w/ a pork, peppers & onions sauce.
*this is an easy and yummy dish. purchase the dough at the grocery store usually at the deli counter if you can't find it on the shelves in the refrigerated section. Walmart has them for 88 cents.

Cal zones: cut the pizza dough in half and roll each out into a circle fill with ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. bake according to the time on the package. usually 15 minutes til golden brown.

sauce: saute' onions, bell peppers til caramelized. Add the left over pork roast cut into small slices and some tomato sauce.

Tip: I get my kids involved when making pizza. I cut a small piece of dough for each of them to make their own and I put in bowls in front of them at the table the cheese & sauce so the can make it themselves. they have a great time with it. And it keeps them busy while I make ours ;).

Saturday: Steak, salad, pita wedges and hummus.
*My favorite brand of hummus is Sabra. If you can find it, it will have you addicted.

Have a good week ladies! And keep sending your recipes in!

Jan week #3 - Peanut Butter Scare

Hi ladies,

Just heard from my friend Lu (Luciana) out in California about the peanut butter recall due to a deadly salmonella contamination. She sent me a news link that I have included for you to read more info on it.

The voluntary recall came one day after the government advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods with peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination. They are saying that if you purchased anything with peanut butter from Peanut Corp. of America you should throw it away and definitely do not eat it.

Some items they named were: several brands of peanut butter cookies it sells through Wal-Mart stores, peanut butter toasty sandwich crackers or peanut butter cheese sandwich crackers, Austin and Keebler branded Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and some snack-size packs of Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies and Keebler Soft Batch Home style Peanut Butter Cookies

So far, more than 470 people have gotten sick in 43 states, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized. At least six deaths are being blamed on the outbreak. Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S., causing diarrhea, cramping and fever. The CDC said the bacteria behind the outbreak — typhimurium — is common and not an unusually dangerous strain but that the elderly, young children and those with weakened immune systems are more at risk to get sick or even death.

So please check out the link above for more information. I hope this was helpful. Please leave comments and feedback so I can continue to post information that you like.

Thanks - Tamra

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jan week #2 - Cheap Groceries from Angel Food Minestries

I subscribe to a great free newsletter called 'Everyday Cheapskate'. Mary Hunt the author of the book 'Debt Proof Living' started this site to reach out to those who are living with debt whether a little bit or a massive amount and teach you how to get out of debt as well as live within your budget. She originally wrote the book Debt Proof Living because she herself had accumulated alot of credit card debt. She worked her way out of it and she shares her secrets and success. She is wonderful and I recommend this to everyone. You can subscribe (for a small fee) to an online newsletter called 'Cheapskate Monthly' or have a paper copy mailed to you each month. Its full of great tips and stories of people just like you and me going through similar situations. The information really is invaluable. If you get the chance to read the book Debt Proof Living it will be worth your while. Her Blog is linked on the right of my Blog page for easy access.

Anyway, this month she highlighted groceries. Specifically 'Angel Food Ministries'. This is a ministry that was started to help those in financial crisis. And as we all know it is very unlikely that our grocery bills will be going down anytime soon. Every month they have a different menu. They basically package in a box a list of grocery basics that are worth $50-$75 and sell them to anyone who is need for around $20 - $40. It looks amazing. They have things like steaks, chicken cutlets, vegetables, fruits, and even precooked full diners for seniors or anyone else who wants quick meals. They also take food stamps if you have them.

We will be purchasing a box or 2 for February. The only catch is you have to pick them up. But their is a zip code search for the nearest location. Most are at a church. When you pick up your packages, you also have the opportunity to have them pray with you if you are in need of some. Lets face it, we could all use a few extra prayers said on our behalf right? So check out this website for all the information.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jan week #2 - Playdough

Here is a great recipe for homemade play dough you can make for your kids. We use lots of play dough in our house. And the store bought ones dry out so fast. The homemade play dough is great. Doesn't dry out as fast, takes only minutes to make and you can make it any colors you wish. the kids love to help with this one. I let my girls pour each ingredient in the pot and then help mix before I put it on the heat. After it cools the girls LOVE to add the colors. We bought some neon food coloring with makes for some pretty interesting colors.

Play dough Recipe:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbsp oil

  • Pour the dry ingredients into a med size pot, mix and place aside.
  • Then in a small bowl add the water & oil.
  • Mix and slowly pour into the pot, mix and place on med heat for 5 minutes.
  • Stir continuously. It gets thick really fast.
  • When done, let cool. When cool enough place on a counter or cutting board. kneed it and cut into pieces according to how many colors you will have. Put a few drops food coloring and let your kids have fun kneading the color into the dough. My girls love to see how the colors change as the work with the dough.
I place them in snack size Ziploc baggies and they stay fresh for ever.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jan week #2 - This Weeks Dinner Menu

Sunday - Roast Chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies of choice
*left over chicken will be used later in week

Monday - Pasta and homemade meatballs, and a salad
*get large package of chop meat (turkey or beef will do). Separate into 2 mixing bowls. make one into meatballs and another into a meatloaf. freeze the meatloaf for later in the week.

Meatballs: chop meat, egg, Italian flavored breadcrumbs. mix and roll into balls. and bake for
approx 20-30 min until browned. take the amount needed for this nights dinner and put into pot with pasta sauce. let remaining cool and put into ziplock bag and freeze for another meal.

Meat loaf: chop meat, egg, onion soup mix, ketchup (this helps keep it moist and gives it a nice flavor), bread crumbs. mix and make into loaf. freeze.

Tuesday - Chicken soup using leftovers from Sunday. and make rice or noodles as prefer
*make double the rice & put half in a ziplock for Saturdays meal.

Chicken soup: fill large pot with water, add chicken, 1 packet of onion soup mix, 1 packet of Lipton's Savory herb and garlic soup mix, and some soup stock paste, add to taste (I like the paste rather than cubes. you can add the amount you need for flavor a little at a time). Add
vegetables. cook on stove top for approx 1 hour (may have to cook longer if using raw chicken).
*Left over soup can be frozen for another week or eaten as leftovers. Another idea is to make it into chicken pot pies for another night. Look for this recipe another week soon. This can also be made in a slow cooker. Just dump everything in and let it cook (I Love slow cookers!)

Wednesday - Pork roast, roasted potatoes, veggies
*left over pork will be used later in the week.

Thursday - Meatloaf, sweet potatoes & veggies
*take meatloaf out of freezer to thaw the night before and place in fridge.

Friday - Pizza. for crispy pizza bake dough first for 10 min on 400 degrees before you
add toppings. then bake another 15 minutes. My favorite is to put dough on a pizza stone brush with a little olive oil. season and bake. then spread with ricotta cheese and top with mozzarella cheese and bake. have sauce on the side.

Saturday - pork stir fry w/ veggies & fried rice.
*use your favorite stir fry sauce with the leftover pork and rice from earlier in the week. stir fry rice in a pan with a little olive oil and soy sauce to taste. shake in some onion and garlic powdered seasonings.

I hope this menu was helpful and gave you some ideas on how to use the leftovers throughout your week. Enjoy!

Jan week #2 Tip - Keep a Journal

I just noticed that in the "Motivations for Moms" link they recommended making a journal for your kids. I think this is a wonderful idea! I started one last year when my 2nd daughter Sydney was 2 and it has been amazing to look back and see all the funny things they say. Sydney is now 3 and is the comedian of our family. I wish I would have kept one while my oldest Morgan was even younger. She is now 5 and she is our actress. But its never too late to start. They say and do the funniest things! And now that my baby Brooke, now 10 months, is on the move its awesome to see them all interacting and to see what unfolds.

I have only one journal that includes all 3 daughters. I keep it in my kitchen so I can jot down things they say and do so I will never forget. Before I started doing this, there were so many times my husband would come home and I would start to tell him something the girls said....and I would forget exactly what happened...and it didn't seem so funny anymore. So I started jotting them down and now I have them forever.

All you need is a spiral notebook. Nothing fancy. I picked up mine from Walmart in the clearance section for 50 cents! I have a stash now so when I run out of room I have another just like it.

Hope this idea helps you save the memories as your children grow- Tamra

Hello all you moms out there!

As this is the first post I thought I would reach out to all the moms out there who have something to share. I would love it if you could send in your favorite recipes, craft ideas, helpful tips for saving time or money, or just let me know if there is something that would interest you to see in this Blog. I will updating this weekly with new recipes, craft ideas, and helpful tips. What do you want to see/hear about? What are you looking for?

Thanks - Tamra