Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Back to School ’12

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

It’s back to school day today. We have crammed in a whole summer full of fun.  I am going to miss these two little ones!  I hope! everyone is having a great start to their school year and wanted to share with you a few pictures today!

I was a smart mom this year and we did all of our pictures the day before school so we could really focus on getting ready for our day without any interruptions. It also gave us a good practice run in our uniforms before the big day.

xo,
Amy

DIY Lunchbox Creation Station

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Next week my kids will be heading back to school and I am in preparation mode to get our family organized & back on track for the big day. One area that I am always working on organizing is streamlining our lunchbox routines. I am excited to share with you my DIY lunchbox creation station that you can create in a corner of your home to streamline your lunch routines. You won’t believe how easy this is to create and you will love my idea for revamping this into something you can use in the summer months too!

For this craft you will need (all found at Walmart):

3-6 Sterlite Medium Modular Drawer- $8.76 each

Krylon Chalkboard Spray Paint (in the home improvement section)- $3.97

Avery Removable Wall & Window Signage Sheets (over by the office supplies)- $9.97 for 5 sheets

16 count chalk (in office supplies)- $.47

Large circle hole punch or a jar or glass that you can use for tracing your circles (I had this in my craft supplies at home)

We are going to start this craft by creating our cute Chalkboard labels first.  You may recall that we made these easy chalkboard labels before when making my super cute Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars. We are going to do the same thing that we did in that craft for this one, but we are cutting them into circles instead of the conversation bubble!

First, pull out your Avery Sheets. For this craft, we are going to use the Wall Application Side for spraying with chalkboard spray paint. This is the side that has the sticky side that is removable and adjustable… perfect for people who can never get anything on their projects perfectly straight.

In a well-ventilated area covered with newspaper or cardboard, place your Avery sheet. Shake the can vigorously for two minutes. Hold can 10-14 inches away from your project and begin spraying. Spray a thin coat in a sweeping motion beginning off the surface and continuing off the other side. Follow this pattern horizontally and then vertically. Wait fifteen minutes or so and then apply another coat.  They should be dry and ready to cut in about an hour.

Cut these out into circles. One sheet should give you six generous size labels that you can write your labels on. While those are drying, you can begin assembling your drawers.

Your needs for your lunchboxes may be different than my own. I wanted to show you what I did in my drawer though to inspire your own categories for your lunchbox creation station.

I did six drawers because that is what would fit on my pantry floor and would cover all of our lunchbox needs. I have a drawer for snacks, fruit, drinks, chips, water, and a drawer of fun (more about that below). Think of the problem areas in your kitchen and create a drawer to accommodate!

Here is an interior view of my drawers and here are some ideas for items you could keep on hand for your kids.

Snacks- Granola bars, low-fat puddings, natural fruit leathers, nuts, goldfish crackers, rice cakes, wheat crackers, sunflower seeds, homemade cereal mix, fruit snacks.

Fruit- Natural applesauce, yogurt covered raisins, raisins, dried fruit, apples, bananas, oranges.

Drinks- Juice Boxes and organic milk boxes.

Chips- Sweet Potato Chips, Veggie Chips, Pita Chips, Pretzels (I package my chips in tiny Glad containers and have used these a few years now with great success. This drawer also contains my new favorite sandwich cubes that I found at the The Container Store).

H20- This is where I have all of our water bottles so that the kids can grab one in the morning and before extracurricular activities.

Fun- This is where I keep my cookie cutters, homemade play dough, and craft supplies for our kitchen.

Next to the drawers, I nestled a basket for extra snacks to be placed in the drawers as needed and the lunchboxes. Place your designated labels on your drawers and stand back and behold your AWESOMENESS.

With this simple system in place, the kids are now in charge of creating their own favorite lunch combination, selecting one item from each of the lunchbox drawers. My kids have already been scheming and dreaming about their daily lunches and are excited to finally be in charge of their own lunch destiny.

When the summer months roll around, I plan to erase the labels and fill them with all of our summer necessities like pool snacks, water bottles, drinks, sunblock and insect repellent, and other items that tend to accumulate on counters and on top of my fridge. I think this is a great organizing solution for all year round!

Designate one day a week (my day is on Sunday) to creating your snack packs and making items that can be tucked into lunchboxes.

To keep your lunches organized and accessible, designate one refrigerator drawer towards lunches. Items like freshly cut fruits and veggies, sandwiches, and Asian lunchbox noodles can all be waiting for the morning in this drawer.  I even tuck commonly forgotten items in the drawer like napkins and spoons to trigger my tired brain to kick in on busy school mornings.

Don’t forget about yourself in all of the hustle bustle of school preparation! I love this DIY Salad Bar to help keep me on track with healthy eating during the school year!

What do items do you love to keep on hand for your child’s lunchbox? I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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Glad Mom Made

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

These last few weeks of summer and the beginning of the school year can be a true challenge for moms. This month  I am excited to be partnering with Glad to showcase some great strategies for moms to help keep kids entertained and get your school year off to a great start.

If you read magazines like Taste of Home or Family Circle, you may have spotted a familiar face tucked within the pages of your magazine. I had the opportunity to work with Glad on a fresh initiative arming moms with ideas to keep the kids entertained during the summer months, lunchbox inspiration to breathe life into tired lunches,  and great printables to help you get organized for the back-to-school season.

If you would like to see some of my fun ideas including my favorite bubble recipe, homemade play dough, homemade sidewalk chalk, easy lunchbox noodles, and snag some great free printables to add a little sparkle to your child’s lunchbox, be sure to join Glad’s Facebook Community and click on Glad’s Mom Made tab for tips and tricks to manage the back-to-school madness.  That is just the tip of the iceberg though! Head over to Glad to get the full scoop on all of these fantastic ideas to get your school year started out right.

It thrills me to no end to get to share my ideas with Glad and I can’t wait for you to see what I was hard at work on this summer! Hurry over today for monthly inspiration created by some really fabulous mom bloggers.

 

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Making Face Time a Family Priority

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

When my children were small, it seemed that all they wanted to do was play with me, draw with me, and read with me.

As they get older, it seems that all they want to do is play on the computer, play on the DS, and play on the Wii… and not with me?

What a change in priorities it has been to be so low on the activities totem pole!

I say this tongue in cheek, of course, because I am just as guilty as my kids of making screen time more of a priority than it should be. I could spend hours on my phone checking all of my social networks and being disconnected from the three people that love me most in my life.

One evening I looked around and saw each of us in our respective corners with our screens and I knew that something had to change. I want my children to have their downtime after school, but I also want us spending time together as a family.  I wanted to share with you our solutions for making family time a priority again.

Declare Face Time

When my kids get home from school it is time for snacks and homework. After that, they are free to do screen time alone until 5PM. At 5PM, I declare it, “FACE TIME!” Face time is not FaceTime on the iPhone, instead it means that we will have time together as a family until bedtime.  It means having a family meal together with great family conversation, reading books together, playing a board game, or spending an evening playing outside together.

I thought Face Time was a genius idea, but the first night my husband looked at me and said, “So we are ALL supposed to not be on the computer?” Yes, admittedly, I had to flip my phone upside down because each time the screen popped up; I was dying to know what was happening in the world. The two people that had the hardest time were the two of us and the kids took the change in routine surprisingly well.

Do Screen Time Together

If we use screen time during our Face Time it must be all done together.  Some evenings we spend an evening Wii bowling together and other evenings it is a night of wild dancing on our Just Dance game. I will admit that I often request a rousing round of Band Hero so I can sing with my very own Partridge Family.

We recently added a new screen time feature to our family that we are all absolutely loving. For about seven years now, I have made homemade pizza every Friday night for our evening meal and we have watched a family movie. In the last few months we have changed our pizza night to a, “Docu-Pizza,” night that we have all come to look forward to together. The evening consists of 1 pizza, 1 documentary, and 1 great family conversation afterwards. We have exposed the kids to lots of different cultures and watched documentaries about everything from the art of origami to puppetry to a senior citizen dance crew. It has led to amazing discussions and allowed us to use our screen time in a way that benefits our whole family.

If you are looking for some fun documentaries to add to your family viewing, be sure to follow my Reality Bites Pinterest Board for some fun movie suggestions to incorporate into your very own Docu-Pizza Night.

Screen time done together connects us and the kids are learning to include us in the gaming fun instead of doing the games on their own.

Use a Screen Time Monitoring System

I find it is much easier to monitor screen time hours during the school year since the kids are in school during the day. In the summer months is when screen time can really get out of control.  I wanted a way to monitor their screen time so we decided to create a printable ticket that could be used for just this occasion.

These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting. Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house. The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television. A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

 

My husband and I keep shaking our heads as we see the kids getting back to the root of playing together again. Without the screen distractions, they are playing more outside, playing more together, reading, and creating more. It makes my heart happy to see them getting back to this again and embracing imaginative play.

This is what being a child is about and this is what being a family is about. I am glad we are rediscovering these simple pleasures again.

How do you make Face Time a family priority in your house?

 


 

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Free Printable Chore & Tech Time Tickets

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Today I wanted to share with you a printable that my husband created for our summertime chores and monitoring our computer time with the kids. These tech and chore tickets can be printed and used with a simple hole punch to signify if the child has used their tech time or has completed their chores.

I really wanted to spend quality time with my kids this summer and I find that screen-time really distracts them from our time together. These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting.

Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house. The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

My children are 10 (almost) and 6. This is our current list of chore activities that must be completed. I don’t punch the ticket itself until the end of the day, but morning chores have to be completed to redeem the first hour of time, then evening chores are completed and the second hour can be used.

6 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, sweep (with a quick vac) under the table after each meal, meal helper every other night, (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with laundry sorting.

10 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, wipe down both bathrooms, meal helper every other night (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with loading and unloading of laundry.

Reward- $5 weekly

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television.

A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

I will not lie, the first day was ROUGH. Two hours does go by quickly for everyone. That said, after the initial two days, we have really been enjoying our time together. We keep busy with fun outings and tackling our summer bucket list together. I find that breaking the day up with an outing seems to make the day go by faster and takes the focus off of the lack of screen time.

Today my son said, “Wow, that hour was really long!”  It was funny how he was whining about the hour being too short the first day. I think we were all losing track of how much time we were spending on our respective screens.

Everyone parents differently. This parenting strategy works for us and I hope it will help someone else out there too!

Next week I will share more about something we call, “Face Time,” in our house that requires our kids to be screen-free and to make our family time a priority.

I didn’t want to waste anytime getting these printables out to you though because they are quickly becoming a valuable part of our summer time together and I think they could be valuable to you too!

 

Grab your Printable Chore Tickets.

Grab your Printable Tech Tickets.

 

Notes on the printable- There are three tickets per sheet. These are color tickets, but you can switch your printer settings to black-and-white or draft mode to save on ink.

 

How do you monitor screen time in your house? What does a typical chore list look like for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Instagram Summer Inspiration: 100 days of summer, week 1

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Happy summer to all of our friends on MomAdvice. Our summer officially started on Thursday and we couldn’t wait to get the party started. I met the kids down at the bus stop with silly glasses that I found at the Dollar Store to let them know that the only thing we had our summer agenda was FUN. They giggled all the way home at their mother’s silliness, but it was the perfect way to start our summer.

We kicked off our summer with my husband’s big 5K race. He had been training for months to get ready for it and we wanted to show our support for him and how hard he has worked. We worked hard on signs that we could hold up at the finish line for him. In his words, “I was the only one who had someone holding signs for them.” It was such a fun way to be a part of his big race day with him and the kids were so proud of their dad.

We did swim lessons on our last week of school which was either extremely genius or the worst idea ever since it was the craziest week of our school schedule. At the beginning of the week, Ethan was barely getting in the pool. At the end of the week…well, this happened. He was terrified of the deep end and we had been trying to get him to go off the diving board for years. I was shaking so hard when this moment happened, but he did it.  Then he did it again and again. I still can’t believe it!  It was a fantastic way to kick off the summer.

On the last day of school they happened to have a concert at our local park. We were so proud of both of our kids who both finished the year out with the highest honors and grades this year that we wanted to treat them to an evening of celebration.

We headed to Moe’s Southwest Grill, their favorite taco spot, and loaded our picnic basket with great food and a blanket to sit on. We enjoyed the outdoor concert together and it was such a fun way to finish out their year.

Of course, summer is never complete without our summer list! This was the first year that we let the kids do the whole thing on their own. We made some helpful activity suggestions, but let them take the lead this year.

I am just as excited as them to start tackling all of these fun activities with them.

Each of the kids have also gotten a doodle pad and composition book  to begin documenting their summer. I found these at the dollar store and they already have so much to write about. I loved adding this activity to our summer and can’t wait for them to get to show their teachers next year what a great summer they had!

If you are on Instagram, you can join in on the fun by taking pictures and sharing all of your summer adventures through there. Let’s use the hashtag #100summerdays. My username is momadvice and I am happy to have you follow our adventures and follow along with yours!  

By tagging your photos, it will make it easy to find each other in the group and share the projects we are tackling together. You can add the tags to your caption or you can add them as a comment later. In either scenario, the tag will pull it into our summer group.

Gain some summer inspiration on our Pinterest 100 days of summer (’12) edition where you can get another amazing round-up of 100 ideas to inspire your summer bucket list. 

This list has everything from making homemade butterbeer drinks for those Harry Potter enthusiasts, to making homemade shrinky dinks, to getting back to the basics with great dinner discussions with great family conversation starters.

There is something for everyone on here- boys and girls of all ages and craft levels. The best part is that they are ALL budget-friendly and will cost you very little in supplies.

Happy summer to each of you!

xo,
Amy

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Creative Mother’s Day Gifts on a Budget

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to honor our moms! Each year we try to do something special for my mom and mother-in-law. I have found that often the simplest of gifts are the most treasured, especially if they are hand delivered by my children.

Today I am over at the Kenmore blog sharing a few of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts that are not only creative gifts to create, but they are also very easy on the wallet. Head on over there to get the scoop on my top gifts to give.

Enough about the giving though, let’s talk about the receiving. After all, it is your day too! What is your dream Mother’s Day gift this year?

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Baked Snickerdoodle Doughnuts

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Baked donuts have become our family’s new way of celebrating all of the special occasions in our life and I couldn’t wait to share with you my snickerdoodle donut creation I made this week. These baked snickerdoodle donuts are a fun & frugal family treat that are easy to create with a simple nonstick donut pan ( we have two of these Norpro 6-count Nonstick Donut Pans) and pantry ingredients.

My husband celebrated his birthday this past weekend and I wanted to create something special for his birthday morning. Every year I try to find a snickerdoodle treat for him since it is his favorite cookie in the whole world. We have enjoyed everything from the cookies to snickerdoodle cupcakes to snickerdoodle biscotti in our house. It seems no matter what version of snickerdoodles we are creating, we love them no matter what. Who could resist that cinnamon flavor?

I will admit the first batch of these was a giant fail, although they photographed beautifully. I played with different leavening agents that yielded gummy and heavy donuts.  I ended up baking a second round later in the week using cake flour and it helped to yield a much lighter donut and more the consistency I was after. It is proof that sometimes it takes a couple of tries before you get it right when baking.

Each donut was dipped in butter and then dipped in a bowl filled with sugar and cinnamon. The coating adds that crunch and more cinnamon flavor that remind me so much of our favorite snickerdoodle cookie. We all agreed, that these donuts were heavenly and there was not a single one left once I perfected the batch.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Baked Snickerdoodle Donuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
These baked cake donuts are full of cinnamon flavor with a crunchy cinnamon & sugar topping that you are sure to love!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cake flour (or 1¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cornstarch)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon & Sugar Topping: ¼ cup of butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the cake flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Pour in the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Gently mix the ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
  5. Lightly grease a doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Carefully spoon the batter into the doughnut pan, filling each one halfway (you should get twelve donuts total)
  7. Bake the doughnuts at 400 F for eight minutes. The donuts will remain light in color, but should spring back when pressed.
  8. Allow to cool for five minutes.
  9. Unmold each donut gently and lightly brush each with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter.
  10. Dunk in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon mixed in.
  11. Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

 

Emily & Ethan presented their Dad with these fabulous donuts for his birthday treat. We all sang to him and Emily presented just one more gift for her dad…

Her front tooth.

It is too adorable for words.

Looking for really great baked donut recipes? I have you covered!

1. Baked Apple Pie Donuts

2. Baked Blueberry Donuts with a Lemon Glaze

3. Fluffy Cake Donuts with a Simple Glaze

4. Fluffy Baked Chocolate Donuts

5. Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Syrup Frosting

6. Baked Glazed Gingerbread Donuts

What are your favorite ways to celebrate birthdays in your family? We would love to hear your family’s traditions for celebrating!

 

Submitted to Mouthwatering Mondays at A Southern Fairytale.

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How to Ditch Your Cable Bill

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

A few months ago our family made the radical decision to turn off of our cable television. It might not seem like a radical decision to you, but for a family of self-proclaimed television junkies, it felt bold to call our television provider and tell them that we were ready to turn off our channels.

With so many fantastic options available to families, it is so much easier to say no to the cable bill thanks to online television and innovative ways to indulge in your favorite shows. It might surprise you that this article is not about getting rid of your television and singing Kumbaya because our life is so much better without TV.  No, we still love our television and I wanted to share with you how to get your fix for less and how to slash your cable expenses for good.

I will fully admit that there was a bit of bribery involved to get my family on board with the decision to turn off our cable.  We found an Xbox for less than half price on Craigslist from a family that was looking to downsize their electronics and gave this to ourselves for our family Christmas present. This gaming system was my ticket to get everyone on board with my decision to let our cable bill go.

If you are looking for ideas for how to get around your cable bill, here are a few of our own family’s favorite options to maximize your family’s entertainment budget.

Players

Roku Player (starting at $49.99)

For families that don’t have a gaming system to view television through (like the Xbox, Wii, or Playstation) this little box can be a wonderful option. Your Roku hooks up to your television and allows you to play through subscription-based programs like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Amazon Instant Video on your television. Your Roku player can hook up to your home entertainment system and give your entire family the opportunity to watch something together on the couch rather than sitting at your laptop.

The only downfall with the product is that you really do need to have a high speed internet connection, as are most streaming options. If you have a DSL connection we found that the viewing can be a little bit like watching something on You Tube.

The Roku Player is surprisingly easy to use and simple to integrate into any home entertainment system. The interface is extremely clear and hook up took literally a couple of minutes. For homes with wireless Internet connectivity, the player is Wi-Fi enabled and offers the ultimate in placement flexibility. With the player’s accompanying remote control, members can browse and make selections right on the TV screen and also have the option to pause, rewind or play your favorite shows anytime just like a DVD.

There are no monthly fees attached to the Roku Player, but it enables you to watch your shows and online subscriptions in one place.

This is the player that we use in our own home and we have no complaints with this fabulous option. There are other similar products on the market like the Apple TV and the Boxxee Box, but I love the affordability of the Roku Player and what viewing options are available on it.

Game Consoles ($149-300)

Game consoles can be a wonderful bang for your buck because they offer unlimited entertainment through gaming as well as a platform for you to watch your favorite shows and movies. It is important to make the right investment for your family when choosing whether you want the Wii, the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360 based on your own family’s entertainment needs. It is also important to understand what is included with each game console and what are extra expenses you may have later down the line.

Below is a basic price breakdown on what is included with your gaming system, what the costs of games might be, and the graphics quality for each gaming console (found on Amazon).

(click to expand)

 

Our family loves playing games together and having a gaming system has been a great way for us to spend time together. We have never bought a full price gaming system though and have had great success finding used consoles for half the price of retail price. Not only have we found our consoles for less, but when we have found these units on Craigslist, the sellers are usually getting rid of their games, controllers, and accessories that go along with them and will sell them to us for a fraction of the retail price.

We use both our Wii and our Xbox 360 for streaming Netflix and watching Hulu Plus. Both of them are fantastic for this purpose as well as fun weekend entertainment for us as a family.

 

Channel & Movie Subscription Options

 

Play On ($29.99 annually or $4.99 a month)

Play On is an easy way for you to watch your favorite videos, shows, and movies from websites such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more on your TV using your Wii, Xbox 360, or Playstation 3 over your home internet connection. PlayOn also works on your iPhone or Android phone.

When we turned off our cable, we were missing some of our favorite shows on some of the channels we watched. Play On is almost like having a cable subscription without the outrageous price since they offer many channels that would have to get with a premium cable package. Hulu Plus offers many of the same networks, but not necessarily the same shows that are available on the network.

My children love to watch PBS and Nick. We have found many of their favorite shows that they love through Play On and the cost is an affordable one for less than $30 a year (or a fraction of one month of your cable television).

Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month)

The majority of our TV-watching is now done through Hulu Plus and we absolutely love it. We have beautiful HD television, something we couldn’t afford with our cable bill, and almost all of our favorite shows are available through Hulu Plus.

Hulu Plus lets you watch hit current and back season TV shows and acclaimed movies anytime in HD for $7.99/month with limited advertising. For many popular shows on their service, Hulu Plus offers every episode of the current season, not just a handful of recent episodes.

Hulu Plus can be viewed on multiple devices, including your laptop, the Apple iPad and iPhone, PlayStation® 3, Roku, and TVs and Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung and Vizio.

You can watch shows for free through Hulu and not buy the Hulu Plus membership. The main difference between your free television experience and the paid subscription is how you view it. With Hulu Plus you can take advantage of the multiple viewing devices, but with the free membership, your viewing is limited to your PC.

Netflix ($7.99 a month)

The other streaming membership that gets a workout in our family is our Netflix membership. Although I feel that the quality of the movies and shows available on Netflix has been deteriorating in the past few months, we still get our money’s worth from this membership.

For $7.99 a month, Netflix members in the Americas, United Kingdom and Ireland can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV episodes streamed over the Internet to PCs, Macs and TVs. Among the large and expanding base of devices streaming from Netflix are: Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PS3 consoles; an array of Blu-ray disc players, Internet-connected TVs, home theater systems, digital video recorders and Internet video players; Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; Android and Windows tablets and phones; and Apple TV and Google TV. In all, more than 700 devices that stream from Netflix are available.

Our family relies on this for our weekend family nights. My husband and I use this for our documentary fix while the kid’s enjoy many of their favorite seasons of Disney & Nick Jr. shows through this membership.

We are hopeful that Netflix will have more viewing options available, but what we can’t get through Netflix we supplement with our Redbox rentals and our fantastic library system.

Digital Antenna ($12-50)

When I say the word antenna, do you think of those giant rabbit ears? I did too. You won’t believe how far those rabbit ears have come and how elegant your antenna can now look. This Paper Thin Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna ($39.19)  is just one example of how streamlined the antenna has become. Your friends will never know that you are one of “those people” watching television on their rabbit ears.

With a good digital antenna it is possible to get dozens of local channels in HD with this small investment. It is worth it to make a good investment in your digital antenna if you are relying upon this for your television because a better quality one is able to pick up a wider range of channels in your area.

We found our digital antenna for less on eBay and we use this for watching things like the Super Bowl and other shows we prefer to watch live. I am always so impressed at the quality of the television we can get through this and I love that we no longer have to pay The Man for our local channels.

Clicker- (FREE)

Finding all of your favorite shows can be hard when you are watching from multiple options. I am in love with clicker because it offers a one-stop directory to see if something you love is available online. I think of it as a TV Guide for streaming television.

This site catalogs all broadcast programming online, along with TV-quality Web originals, from these silos and delivers them in one seamless, organized experience so you can easily discover what’s available to watch (and what isn’t) online, where to watch it, and what’s worth watching.

If you are looking to make the leap from cable to online television, check here and see if any of your favorite shows are available for free streaming to decide if you can make the plunge or not.

For Our Canadian Readers-

 

We had a fabulous comment from one of our readers, Leatitia, on our MomAdvice Facebook Page sharing what streaming options are available in Canada.

“What I use to watch TV for ‘free’ in Canada (50$/month internet bill)

Live TV many channels (including TVA): http://fr.wwitv.com/tv/b2514.htm
HGTV: http://www.hgtv.ca/video/
CTV: http://watch.ctv.ca/
Global: http://www.globaltv.com/video/index.html#video
MTV: http://www.mtv.ca/tvshows/
Radio-Canada shows: http://www.tou.tv/
Radio-Canada live: http://www.radio-canada.ca/audio-video/pop.shtml#urlMedia=http://www.radio-canada.ca/util/endirect/MontrealTV.asx

With those links, I can watch Star Académie, Grey’s Anatomy season 7 in French and season 8 in English, House, Modern Family, Glee, Teen Mom (MTV), Consumed (HGTV), the news, etc, etc….

I’d pay for internet anyway, so I just boost my internet bandwidth to 50G a month and I use about 40G-45G a month. I receive emails when 75% of my bandwidth had been used, as well as 90% and 95% I think. So I’m sure I don’t use more than I’m allowed to!

I don’t miss my cable bill!!”

Thank you so much to Leatitia for sharing her experience with all of us!

After three months of being without our cable, I can honestly admit to you that there are definitely moments that I do miss. I miss my Food Network, I miss HGTV, I miss the convenience of our DVR taping endless shows for me, I miss my Cupcake Wars marathons with my daughter on Sunday afternoons.

There are also things I don’t miss. I don’t miss feeling like I needed to be a slave to my television to make the most of our dollars, I don’t miss paying nearly a hundred dollars a month, I don’t miss paying for something so darn useless.

Life does feel a little bit richer. Now that we don’t have a DVR we have to catch up on we are spending more evenings together playing games, doing puzzles, going on outings together, and just focusing on being with each other a little more.

Instead of watching Cupcake Wars we are baking our own cupcakes. Maybe turning the cable off really is radical. It feels that way.

The money that has been freed gives us the chance to put an allowance towards other things we might want to do. We can put the earnings towards a movie outing, getting a season pass to an activity we love, or we can just enjoy the pleasure in the savings.

We still love our television. We just love it in a different way than before.

 

How do you save on your television watching? How does your family watch television now? What are ways you save on your cable bill?

Disclosure: The links to some of these items are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily. Feel free to order your supplies elsewhere, but we always try to highlight the best deals when we see them.

 

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Best Christmas Break Ever (Told Through Instagram)

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Good morning, friends! I hope that you all have enjoyed your Christmas and New Year’s with your families. The holiday break was just what our family needed this year to get our 2012 started out right. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to regroup and spend some much needed time with our family.

We did a whole lot of nothing this year while we were on holiday. My husband took the entire week off of work and for the first time ever, we had a whole week of nothing.

I bought a big box of Christmas puzzles that I thought the kids would enjoy doing with us.  Our kids could have cared less about the puzzles after the first day, but Ryan & I found ourselves sitting down every night and trying to put these together while listening to holiday tunes on Pandora. I think this was one of my favorite things that we did and I can’t wait to tackle these again next year.

As is the tradition in our house, the kids opened their Christmas pajamas one day early and we took them in their new jammies to see the holiday lights and for peppermint shakes at Steak & Shake.  All other traditions ceased to exist after our family was attacked with a rotten case of the stomach flu.

Of course the stomach flu happened on my daughter’s birthday, Christmas Eve, then Christmas Day…pretty much all of the important days to our family. We tried not to let it rain on our perfect Christmas break though.   On Christmas Day morning though, we were all feeling well enough for our baked gingerbread donuts and the kids enjoyed this fun treat with mugs of milk after opening their presents.

The week before Christmas break, I shut our cable off on our television. After I shut it off, I realized it was the week before Christmas break and banged my head against the wall. Surprisingly, we have done really well without our cable (more on that later). I figure if we could make it through this week, we could make it through any week since this is the most time we ever have to watch television.

The kids really enjoyed our old favorites (A Christmas Story, Rudolph, & Charlie Brown) and Emily discovered her inner superstar after she saw, “Annie,” for the first time.  There was a lot of signing and dancing in this house this year. It still turned out to be a great lazy week of television watching despite our cable shut down.

We had a wonderful NYE with friends and I am looking forward to seeing what this next year has in store.  God has been very, very good to us. I am thankful for all of the blessings that happened in 2011. I always like to start the year out with a few goals and this year is no different.

My resolutions for 2012 are:

Finish the writing of my first book

Read two literary classics

Read 60 books this year (in total)

Take a knitting class that pushes me out of my comfort zone

Keep a daily journal (that is not my blog)

I don’t know how I am going to manage to get those kids back to school this week since we have barely climbed out of our pajamas by noon each day, but I am sure it will feel good to be up and moving again once we get in the swing of things.  We were thankful for our completely lazy and indulgent holiday and hope you had a wonderful holiday too!

Happy New Year to each of you! What are your resolutions this year? What was your favorite moment from your holiday break?