Archive for November, 2007

Kaboost Booster Seat Giveaway Results

Friday, November 30th, 2007

I used a free random number generator to choose the winner for our giveaway. It quickly calculated and told me that…

Rachel from Pursuits of Heart & Home is the lucky recipient of our fun bloggy giveaway. Rachel- please email me at [email protected] as soon as you can with your shipping address.

Once again, thanks to everyone for participating and sharing your ideas for and where we should take our site in the upcoming year. I have so many great ideas to work with and have already started jotting down thoughts of how I can accomplish some of these articles for the site. It is so exciting to get some material to work with and to find ways that I can share on things you are looking for.

Thank you all and congratulations to Rachel on winning the Kaboost Booster Seat!

Freebie Friday: November 30, 2007

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Special thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for helping gather up freebie offers for our readers! Please visit her site for more great freebies!

Don’t forget to sign up for our Kaboost Booster Seat Giveaway! The giveaway ends at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time and I will announce the winner on Saturday! Thank you to everyone who has already entered and supplied incredible ideas for what I can be doing in 2008. Half of the battle is coming up with ideas so thank you for supplying those.

Happy Friday to everyone!

Health & Beauty:


Hillshire Farm House Party (taking applications!)
Land ‘o Lakes “Warm up the Holidays” recipe brochure (free by mail when you sign-up for their Simple Rewards Club)

Goody Free Workout Music Downloads
Chicago White Sox Kid’s Club Membership (free and you get two free tickets to a game among other membership benefits)
Hallmark Photo Card – enter code HPCFREE, send it directly to recipient to pay only 41 cents for postage, expires 12/9/07
Opti-Free – 14 free ringtones
$5 off coupon for KB Toys (If your purchase is $5, you would get a free stocking stuffer for the kids!)
John Mayer Free iTunes Download (You have to have iTunes on your computer (also free) in order to cash in)
Cookie Magazine Subscription (you need to have an Amazon account. Even though it says that you had to have made a purchase, I have had every single magazine come through from Amazon without the purchase part. Enjoy!!)
Car & Driver Magazine Subscription (note to self: do not answer homemaker for my job description to get this freebie!)

Home & Garden:

Energy Smart Living DVD from Xcel Energy
(You need to click on the television in the house to get the pop-up for the DVD)

$5 Magazine Subscriptions

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I buy a lot of magazine subscriptions to give as gifts and primarily go through Ebay to make my purchases. I love giving subscriptions as gifts because it is a gift that continues giving long after people have become tired of the items they got for Christmas gifts. In addition, it gives them something fun to look forward to in their mailbox, rather than just the regular old bills!

I ran across this great special through Hearst Magazine for $5 subscriptions. There are tons of titles to choose from including Marie Claire, SmartMoney, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country, House Beautiful, & Popular Mechanics. If you go on their homepage, however, these deals aren’t offered so be sure to go through that provided link.

What excellent gifts these will make! I am not sure how long this offer will last so I am going to order some today. I hope this helps someone else with some of their holiday shopping!

Side Note: Be sure to look how many issues are being offered for your money. Some of the nicer subscriptions, like O Magazine, only offer four issues for this price. Still an excellent deal, but won’t last as long as the twelve issue subscriptions!

MomAdvice News & A Very Special Giveaway

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I have been hard at work over at The Motherloot and wanted to share some of our new product reviews with you! I wanted to make sure I got these up in time for all of that holiday shopping so I hope you can take a peek for some great gift ideas.

New Reviews:
Flip Video Ultra Series
Otopia Organic Skin Care Products
For the Kids Three CD
OskerBee Baby Changing Station
FamilyStories Books
Ferrero Rondnoir Chocolates

You might also notice that my hubby has been hard at work on our website too! We have a new banner for both The Mother load and The Aldi Queen Blog. He also has created a great landing page with an introduction to all of the blogs on our site so that it is easier to find what you are looking for and tons easier to subscribe to our feeds.

In honor of all of the big changes I am making around here, I am giving away the Kaboost Booster Seat that I had received from the company. I absolutely adore it, but it doesn’t hit at the right height for our table so I want to share it with someone else for the holiday season. These retail for $39.95 so it is a great freebie for one special reader.

Rules to Enter: Please click to leave a comment and tell me one article or idea that you would like to see on our website for 2008. I am stumped for new article ideas and this would be a wonderful help to me for creating the type of site that you want to keep coming back to! Entries must be received by 8PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday evening. The winner will be announced on Saturday! Good luck and please feel free to share the giveaway with your readers. It is as an awesome product and would be a great addition to your dinner table!

Space Heater Recommendations

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

It is that time of year again and I got our space heater out last night to warm our downstairs family room. Would you believe that this is the third edition of this space heater in our house in less than a year, and it has once again OVERHEATED?!! The first two I had returned, all for overheating, but now I am past the return policy on this one. I really loved the design of this heater because the air blew at just the right height, but now I just want one that works.

Do you guys have a space heater that you could recommend? One that has some lasting qualities to it? I am looking for one with an automatic shutoff.

Boo to Lasko for releasing such a bad product! Shame on you!

Amy’s Notebook 11.28.07

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Make a baby food baby jar wreath.

I love this children’s art smock.

How cool is this fabric cubby house?

These apple turnovers look delicious!

A super cool wine cork mirror.

Getting the band-aids off will no longer be a painful process.

Another reason why I want to sew- rice heat therapy bags.

I adore these cd envelopes.

These Pinecone bird feeders are so neat!

I love these advent trees made from recycled paper.

A new solution to add to the mix for getting out grease stains.

Another use for recycled sweaters- isn’t this
recycled sweater wreath beautiful?

I am going to have to make some turkey stroganoff after seeing these yummy pictures.

These wooden spinning tops would make a cool stocking stuffer.

I am going to have to watch these food & drink hacks.

I love these ideas for gift wrapping.

I might have to make this cute grandparent gift.

Reason 5,0002 for why I should sew.

Hmmm…what do you guys think about this holiday tipping guide? Am I just cheap or what?

You can see why this is my dream job after the kids go back to school.

This pumpkin tiramisu looks so delicious!

This list for gifts that are $5 or less really inspired me!

I am going to have to make some pumpkin pie play dough for the kids.

Frugal Hacks: Ornament Decorating Fun

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

For today’s installment on Frugal Hacks, I am sharing crafty ideas for making holiday ornaments with your children. I have been spending some time surfing the internet to come up with some ideas for Ethan & I to do together so I thought I would share them with you too!

In this picture is our ornament making station that I made for our special ornament-making days. I purchased a vinyl tablecloth and loads of fun crafty supplies from the dollar store. Right now they have wooden ornaments that come in a ten pack for decorating that would be a wonderful decorative addition to any gift.

I just love decorating the Christmas tree and thought it would be a fun discussion to share your favorite ornaments that you hang on your tree each year.

I have two special ornaments that I absolutely love and that bring a smile to my face each time I get them out. One is a beautiful painted light bulb that one of my co-workers purchased for me at my very first “real” job. I was working as an administrative assistant and this gentleman was the head of the sales department and told me if I worked extra hard, he would secure a position for me in the sales department. So…I worked my tail off and did extra projects for the group and he gave me this special ornament right before he told me that he never got permission to hire me as an assistant and then I eventually was laid off after a brief promotion as a marketing assistant…WAIT! This is a horrible story! Why the heck is that my favorite ornament?

In all seriousness, the ornament represented one of the first times in my life where I felt like a grown-up and I felt valued as an employee. I felt like a smart woman and I had struggled through school (getting by on my fine social skills, mind you!) so it felt good to feel appreciated and valued as an employee.

My other favorite ornament is a Dunkin’ Donuts ornament that I won in an ornament exchange. When we lived in Massachusetts, every single day I would buy myself a cup of joe over at our local Dunkin’ Donuts. Our first home, a small townhouse, was situated behind a Dunkin’ Donuts and we would get bagels and muffins from there all of the time for our Saturday mornings.

Right after I had Ethan, I was determined to get my baby weight off, and we had an amazing bike trail right outside of our home so I would walk it for miles trying to get the baby weight off. On my way, I would stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up an iced mochachocalocaroca that I thought tasted like a little bit of heaven. It was my little reward to myself for working so hard to get my weight off.

But my weight wasn’t coming off. And I was putting on weight. How was this possible? Um, did the smart & educated woman check to see how many calories a mochachocalocaroca has in it? No! Despite a background in food and nutrition, I never thought twice about the gazillion calories I was taking on my athletic walk. But, oh, what a taste of heaven that was!

The moral of the story is, every ornament has a story. Go ahead! Ask your grandmother about the ornaments on her tree- I bet she will have a story to tell!

Sound Off: Please share your favorite ornament on your tree! I would love to hear your stories!

WSBT-TV: Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Today on WSBT-TV, I shared my tips for wrapping your holiday gifts inexpensively. I came into the studio and shared my techniques for frugal gift wrapping and ideas for creative gift tags. I hope you can watch it!

The film crew then came out to my house and we taped six more segments today to be shown in the upcoming weeks. Now I can enjoy extra time with my family instead of running back & forth to the studio. Some of the topics that we have for future topics include shipping your packages, making frugal holiday gift baskets, getting to know your bread machine, getting a cheap coffee fix, familiarizing yourself with your local wholesale club, and throwing an inexpensive birthday party (something that is on my mind since Emily is turning 2 this month).

You could say I am tiny bit tired today!

One Week of Food

Monday, November 26th, 2007

A Penny Closer stumbled upon this photo essay from Time Magazine of what people are eating all over the world and how much it costs in different parts of the world.

What does one learn? Processed foods and poor food choices have no boundaries.

But in all seriousness, isn’t this extremely interesting? I think I should take a photo of all of the food that we eat in our house- it certainly would be eye-opening to see it all laid out there like that!

Thanksgiving With the Clark Family

Monday, November 26th, 2007

I apologize for the break in blogging, but with all of the holiday madness came a time of busyness that I had not anticipated… and a few days of laziness that I had hoped I could lavish in before the holiday rush.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family this year. I got to be in charge of the appetizers for the dinner so I was looking forward to trying some new recipes. I made my famous meatballs out of a combination of regular ground turkey and the Italian Sausage variety. They turned out beautifully and I was able to bake them the day before and throw them in the slow cooker for the festivities. Despite sitting in the slow cooker for four hours, they maintained their moistness and I got lots of compliments on them.

I also made a cheese ball that turned out equally delicious! I used turkey bacon that I cooked and crumbled inside of it. I rolled the cheese ball in extra cheddar cheese and it was also a hit. I served it with a variety of wheat crackers.

Bacon & Ranch Cheese Ball

2 (8 ounce) packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 package of Ranch dressing mix
1 cup cheddar cheese
5-7 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled

Mix all of the ingredients together with a mixer until they are incorporated. Shape into a ball and roll in a plate of shredded cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

The other appetizer I made was a sweet dip to serve with graham crackers. It has been renamed “crack” in our house because we can’t stop eating it. I have been gorging myself on this dip since I made it. It tastes just like cookie dough and is sweet, but not too sweet. I used my Pampered Chef chopper to chop regular-sized chocolate chips up for on top and to mix into the dip (that was what we had on hand). Remember, you have been warned about this addiction!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (or Crack Dip)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
More chocolate chips (optional) or chopped nuts, to roll the ball in

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Form cheese into a ball using hand protection (Saran wrap, wax paper, etc). Optional- just before serving, roll in additional chocolate chips or nuts of your choice. Serve with graham crackers.

Over the holiday weekend, I also got our very first family photo. My son is five and our daughter is almost two and we have never had a family picture done. Emily was most difficult and we had the worst time waiting for pictures and then waiting for the printing of them. It was a very stressful experience, to say the least. We had been waiting for two and a half hours for my photos to print, going back to pick up the prints to find out the prints weren’t ready, going back again to find out they STILL were not ready, and then finally getting them at 11 AM the following day (when they are supposed to be printed right after you get done with your photos). The only plus to the whole experience was that the manager felt horrible and I had tried to be a good sport about it so we ended up with an extra 65 photo cards and our entire portrait package reprinted PLUS a $50 gift certificate for our next round of pictures (all for free!) because he felt so badly about our experience. So I would like to give a shout out to Portrait Innovations for their incredible customer service and amazing manager who made our experience MUCH better after all of that hassle. Despite all off that hassle, I am so proud of our family photo and now have four gazillion pictures to share with our family and friends. I have so many pictures now that I am offering casual acquaintances a 10×13 of our family . I don’t know what we will do with all of these pictures, but I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and that you enjoyed lots of food and time with your family! I can’t wait to share more ideas and recipes for the holiday season!