Archive for January, 2008

Winter Day Activity: Pudding Paints (With Pictures & Details)

Thursday, January 31st, 2008


A snow day!

It truly was a surprise for me because I didn’t see our school listed and so I got my son ready for his day and took him there.

An empty school and a completely full day of nothing to do today.

What’s a mom to do?

Instead of sitting in front of the television, we worked on making finger paints and enjoyed a day of painting and then a day of bathing because we were so sticky and messy from our painting.

The kids really loved these, although I think Emily ended up eating more of the paint then she did actually painting with it.

I spread out a plastic tablecloth that I had gotten with some promotional materials from a company.

I would recommend using a plastic shower curtain or tablecloth (both can be purchased from a dollar store) and keeping this with your craft supplies.

We also have old shirts from daddy or do the all natural look (as Emily has displayed) for the really messy stuff.

We had little finger sponges that had come with a finger paint set that I had bought from Target last year.

The kids started out with these and then just begin slapping their hands in the paint.

The sponges were fun for awhile, but bare fingers dipped in pudding taste much better!

Please ignore the horrible colors we made. We found green and red made mud.

The yellow of the pudding mix made for some interesting colors, but my little artists didn’t care!

This recipe is great because I always have pudding mixes in my cupboard.

Next time I make this though, I will probably use 1 1/2 cups of water instead of two cups to help make it a little less drippy.

This is one of those fun activities for a snowy day or a rainy day that will only cost you one pudding mix!

Pudding Paint

1 package of instant pudding (3.4 oz)
2 cups ice-cold water
Food coloring

Whisk water and instant pudding together in a bowl for two minutes. Refrigerate for five minutes. Divide pudding into several small bowls or muffin tins. Add five to seven drops of food coloring to each bowl or tin and mix.



Amy’s Notebook 01.31.07

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Well, here is your weekly time-sucker! I look forward to sharing these each week and I hope it is full of ideas for things you can do with your family!

Just in case you missed it, don’t forget to sign up for our Starbucks $20 Gift Card Giveaway. There are over 500 entries! I should give away stuff more often! I also posted our results from our sweet Valentine’s Day giveaway. Congrats to our winner Lori and her daughter Sarah! Take some time to read the entries– there were so many great ideas for ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Guess what? I didn’t see very many on there that would cost a lot of money!

Happy reading!

The way this gift is wrapped gave me some new ideas for shipping future gifts.

This is a great project to do with toddlers for Valentine’s Day- heart flower pots!

I love these labels she created for her spice jars. It makes them look so elegant!

This sun dried tomato artichoke chicken dish looks delicious!

How cute is this quiet little family set? So beautiful and thoughtful!

These warm fuzzy cupcakes are adorable.

I love these collector’s boxes.

These hugs and kisses cookies look so yummy!

These bath bomb surprises are so cool! That would be a huge hit with my kids! I also loved this idea for making marbleized paper with the kiddos.

I love this idea for making a laptop cozy!

These crowns would be a cute craft to do for Emily’s next birthday party.

These updates to vintage linens was so inspiring and creative.

This pom pom craft would be a fun one for Ethan & I to do together.

Wouldn’t this be the perfect art for a sewing or craft room? I see retro patterns all of the time that would work perfectly for this.

I am totally building a bar out of my kids changing table. What a perfect repurpose of a useless item in our house.

I love this thrift store jacket makeover! I am going to keep my eyes peeled the next time I am out shopping. I will need to look for some vintage chic coats.

I love these ideas for saving money.

I try to keep a few vintage handkerchiefs in my purse so I loved this post on cloth handkerchiefs.

This doll house bookcase is so cute! I am going to have to keep this in mind for Emily.

Did I mention that I want to BE Design Mom? I mean, I really want to be her. Her tips for crafts with kids are so awesome. I think she is going to think I am a stalker if I keep featuring her here, but I am content with that.

I am going to have to remember this hack the next time a diaper breaks.

A necessary reminder- unplug, unplug, unplug.

WSBT-TV: Frugal Storage Solutions

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I wanted to post my WSBT-TV segment before the crew head over and tape more of our future segments to air later this month. This morning I got to share easy ways that you can organize your belongings, without spending a lot of cash. This segment goes along with our article on Frugal Storage Solutions for your home.

Next week I will be discussing fun ideas for a frugal Valentine’s Day! I look forward to sharing some of my thrifty solutions for the holiday and I hope you will check back for more fun ideas.

I promise to post our results from our Valentines giveaway later today and I will be guest-writing for Frugal Hacks so I will be sharing that later as well. In the meantime, did you enter the Starbucks $20 gift card giveaway? I am floored by how many people have entered. I don’t know what I would do if I got comment love like that every day, but it has been so fun to see all of the entries for the contest. Who am I kidding? I would love comment love like that everyday. Who wouldn’t? You feel like a blogging rock star and that feels pretty darn good.

Back to our topic for discussion…

Sound Off: What are some inexpensive organizers that you use in your home? Do you have an organizing project that you plan to tackle this year?

Redbox Code 01.28.07

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Today’s free code for a Redbox movie is 9GS3T6. This code is good for one free movie and you can use it until midnight tonight. Enjoy a free family movie together!

Side Note: If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different accounts to charge to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

Free Starbucks Coffee Gift Card Giveaway!

Monday, January 28th, 2008

This week I am participating in the big Bloggy Giveaways Carnival sponsored by Shannon, from Rocks in My Dryer. There are tons of people participating so head over there and take a peek and enter some of the other great giveaways.

What will I be giving away on our site? How about some Starbucks coffee? Why shouldn’t MomAdvice pay for your latte factor this week?

Enter by leaving a comment and I will be picking our winner on February 3rd. The winner shall receive a $20 gift card to Starbucks.

And just for giggles, what is your favorite Starbucks drink? Mine is a Triple Grande Nonfat No Whip Peppermint Mocha… Now say that ten times fast!

Ask the Frugal Momma: How Do I Track My Traffic?

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Continuing with our series on blogging, for fun or for profit, today I wanted to talk a little bit about tracking your readers. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the past posts, in my first entry, I discussed some basic starting points for working from home and then shared in another post ways to begin building your readership.

Today we are going to talk about tracking your readership and how statistical information can actually help you build a better blog. Be forewarned, stat tracking can become highly addictive! There is nothing more fun than seeing where your readers are coming from, the growth of your site/blog, and how people happened upon your website.

First, if you have a website, it is likely that your web host offers some type of statistical information. Since you are already paying for the hosting, you might as well take advantage of any of the stat services they offer. Your host might offer a more in-depth analysis of your stats so start here if that is what is available to you.

If you just have a blog through a service like Blogger, Typepad, or WordPress- you will need to find your statistical information through an alternative means. There are tons of places that you can use for traffic-monitoring, but a few of the more popular are Google Analytics,, or

Each of these programs offer very simple guidelines for adding a tracking code into your page. It literally will be a matter of signing up for an account, highlighting the code that is provided, and copying the code into your site. Once you have added the code, you can sign into your account and begin viewing your site traffic.

Once you have access to your statistics, you will have a snapshot into the volume of readers you are tracking, what the readers were looking for, and how they were able to discover you.

The first thing you will see when you look at your statistics is your “Unique Visitors.” This is the most important statistic and something that you will need to share if you are planning to make revenue from your site. Most advertising networks will need this information to determine whether or not you qualify to be part of an advertising network. A unique visitor is the total number of people who have come to your website and it can be viewed by week, month, or year.

The next statistic you can look at is your “Number of Visits.” This is the total amount of visits that you have had over the week, month or year. This number will be higher than your unique visitors because, chances are if you have excellent content, your readers will be coming back multiple times to your website.

The final statistic I like to view, and that will often come up if you are joining an ad network, is “Page Views.” This statistic tells you how many times pages have been viewed on your site or blog and can tell you the average of pages a reader views per week, month, or year on your site.

Now that you know how to get your web traffic details and can understand your reports, you can begin discovering how people have found you and what it is they are looking for. One of the most fun things to look at is your keywords or keyword phrases. Lets take a peek at some of my top keyword searches for the month.

1. Mom Advice
2. McDonald’s Birthday Parties
3. Aldi
4. Redbox Codes
5. Cheapest Shipping
6. Birthday Freebies
7. Recipes for Picky Eaters
8. Dinner Ideas
9. Monthly Budget Sheets
10. Powdered Milk

Using this list, I can get an idea of what people were looking for when they came to my site. I can see immediately what is popular and what I can expand upon. With a notebook in hand, I can begin drafting up some ideas for future articles that can help even more people find me. In my case, for example, maybe I could put together an article on getting cheap shipping on your packages or I could put together more dinner ideas for picky eaters. Use your statistics to your advantage so you can build a site that will attract more visitors and give your audience exactly what they are looking for.

Last, but certainly not least, is the opportunity to see what sites like to yours (also known as the referrers). Let’s take a look at my some of my top referrers for this month:

1. Money Saving Mom
2. Freebies 4 Mom
3. Frugal Hacks
4. Baby Cheapskate
5. The Dollar Stretcher
6. 9 Rules
7. Festival of Frugality (hosted at Cash Money Life)
8. Simply Thrifty
9. Frugal Upstate
10. The Homespun Heart

So let’s take a look at our referrers and how this information can help me. Well, first of all, if they just were talking about something I did over here or are sharing me on their blogroll, I want to head over there and give them a big thank-you or leave them some comments on the great stuff they are doing. This give-and-take is what is all about in the blogging community, so be sure to send them lots of thanks (hopefully highlighting them above will be a great way to thank them!) or head over to their neck of the woods and let the comments flow.

Looking at some of the other things on the list, I can see what has been really successful for me and what has been a dud when it comes to time and energy. Writing for Frugal Hacks, for example, has been very lucrative for me and brought lots of great (like-minded) people my way. I guest write weekly for them and I can see that being part of that community of writers has boosted my traffic and is worth my efforts.

Likewise, guest writing for other sites and sharing my articles with them is worth my time too. The Dollar Stretcher, for example, ran one of my articles and I saw a big boost in traffic. It would be worth the time to continue sending articles their way.

Partnering with Freebies 4 Mom to offer my weekly freebies has been worth my effort too. I can see that she is sending lots of traffic our way and I am returning the traffic back to her. Seeing that my traffic has grown from collaborating our talents shows me that this is a good relationship to continue.

Participating in the Festival of Frugality is worth my time and the effort that goes into being a part of this event. It only takes me five minutes to submit my entry, and it keeps traffic coming my way throughout the month. This is something I should continue.

Being part of the 9 Rules community has helped boost our traffic, but I am able to get technical advice and support through their network. It is an honor to be part of it, but the traffic has been secondary to the relationships and guidance we are able to get through our community.

Sometimes I do things just to give myself an opportunity for me to grow and become more familiar with other forms of media. Doing the news segment, for example, is a great way to learn to be comfortable in front of the cameras and learn to communicate with my readers in a different way. Writing monthly for a local magazine helps me share in my own community and build a community-driven r
eadership. I can position myself within our community as a local expert that knows a little bit about household management which may lead to other mediums of conveying my messages. These gigs might not show up in a statistical sense, but I know that they are adding to my portfolio of work. I can use these when companies call to see if I can handle certain jobs. “Are you comfortable in front of a camera?” they might ask. “Actually I appear weekly on our local news and I can point you to some news clips so that you can see how I am on camera.” Another question might be, “Do you feel comfortable writing for other publications?” My answer would be, “Here, let me show you some of my work in this magazine that I write for. This will give you an example of what my writing looks like.”

In short, look at your statistics as a way to show where you should concentrate your efforts, but don’t use it as a means to the end of what you should do. Remember to look at each opportunity as an opportunity to not only grow your site, but to grow yourself.

Reading Corner:

To go along with our series, I would like to highlight great reading material for building your web business. I encourage you to check this books out from your local library to help build your mad web skillz. Today’s book is “The IT Girl’s Guide to Blogging With Moxie,” by Joelle Reeder & Katherine Scoleri.

This book is excellent for someone who is interested in just beginning to blog. They share how to start a blog, how to build your readers, and they share more technical information on blogging in a fun and easy to understand way. This is the type of book that I wish I had read when I first began blogging and I hope that it will be a wealth of information to you too.

If you are looking for even more great information, I would highly recommend visiting Blogging Basics 101. These ladies are a wealth of information and their site is a great starting point for learning all about blogging!

Please continue to keep the questions coming our way and I will continue to answer them. Send your questions to [email protected] and I will add it to my weekly frugal momma chat on here.

Sound Off: How do you track your website/blog traffic and statistics? What have you learned from this statistical information? Anything funny popping up in your keyword searches?

Red Hot Momma on a Budget

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I would like to give a big thanks to Money Saving Mom for sharing the best deal on Jane Cosmetics. I just hit our local Walgreens and got twelve products- eyeliners, blushes, concealers, powder, and lip glosses for stupid cheap.

How stupid cheap? Well, I bought twelve products and a Diet Coke (just because I deserved it, after getting us all ready to go out in that cold today) and I paid $2.54. Total savings- $46.54. Read Crystal’s post on how to get your cosmetics for free and be sure to leave her a little thank-you for all of her hard work!

Being a Red Hot Momma is a hot topic on blogs these days. I guess everyone is feeling the frumpy mom syndrome and many have resolutions to improve it.

I get super frumpy in the winter- how can you not? It is so brutal cold and I have hard time looking pretty when I have to dress like an Eskimo. Stupid Indiana weather! Brrrrr…

When spring comes though…you better watch out! I am going to be walking the runways…or the um, the hallways in my house. Whatever!

So slap on some lip gloss and your giant parka, ladies!

Freebie Friday: January 25, 2007

Friday, January 25th, 2008

A big thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for helping us compile our freebies for the week! There are so many good ones- I hope you can take advantage of them all! Be sure to mark your calendars for those free in-store events too.

Don’t forget to enter our contest for FREE VALENTINES!! Your kid would be the coolest kid in school if they gave these cute cards away- hurry!

Health & Beauty

K-Y Intrigue (click on “Connect” for free sample)

Yoplait Kids Yogurt (free with coupon by mail, not available in all states)
Teecino caffeine-free herbal coffee (10 flavors to choose from)

Entertainment (free service from NBC Universal and Fox to watch movies & shows on your computer)

New Free Redbox Code: MILKING expires 1/28

Home & Garden
EnergyStar Publications (like “Horton Activity Book” for 3rd to 7th graders)

One Day Sam’s Club Pass

Free Tax Filing for State Farm Customers.® registered customers who have at
least one product (Bank, Insurance and/or Mutual Funds) displaying on their My Account page will once again have the ability to file their 2007 income tax online for free. This service is being provided by Intuit, the creators of TurboTax.

Pet Care
HealthGuard Vitamins for Dogs

Mark your calendars!! Free In-store bag of Sephora Samples. Stop by any Sephora, Jan 6th through Feb. 15th, for a free bag of skincare samples tailored to your needs based on a skincare consultation. No purchase required.

Mark your calendars!! Watch a professional chef demonstrate how to prepare an authentic meal using fine products from Bertolli®. Come for this exclusive event on January 26 at a participating Sam’s Club and enjoy some free food.

Mark your calendars!! Free sweet week in the month of January on every Tuesday for Michiana residents at our area McDonald’s restaurants. Read this post for the full scoop.

Mark your calendars!! Auntie Anne’s is turning 20! To kick-off its 20th birthday celebration, Auntie Anne’s is hosting a Free Pretzel Day on February 2nd at stores nationwide! Stop by your local Auntie Anne’s on February 2nd between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to try one complimentary Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel — no strings attached.

Mark your calendars!! National Pancake Day is coming on February 12th. From 7AM-10PM you can get your free short stack of pancakes. Donations are requested for the Children’s Miracle Network that day.

Mark your calendars!! Crate & Barrel Wedding Party Events1/27, 2/10, 17, 24 & 3/2, 9-11 a.m. Crate & Barrel introduces The Wedding Parties. If you’re about to be married, we’re throwing a party in your honor. Bring your partner or your friends. Our store is yours. Enjoy great food, drinks, music and our expert advice on registering. Our knowledgeable staff will be there to offer insight, support, plus home entertaining ideas for newlyweds and our newest registry guide. You’ll also receive a brilliant hand-blown glass bowl as our gift. To RSVP today, call a store near you.

Braggy McBrag-Brag Strikes Again…

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

You can read an interview about how I got my start in the frugal community on Frugal Hacks today. Much thanks to Kim for showcasing my blog this week. I am awfully flattered and oh-so-proud!

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now!

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Is the song stuck in your head? I know! I am horrible!

Head over to The MotherLoot and enter my giveaway for a personalized set of Valentine’s Day cards from Pose Prints. These are adorable and all you have to do is share your favorite Valentine’s Day memory to enter.

I can’t wait to read the entries. Go there now!!