Archive for July, 2009

Freebie Friday: July 31, 2009

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, has gathered up a fantastic freebie list for us this week. I am so excited, in particular, about the Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee and all of these upcoming freebie events. Make sure to check out Heather’s list of recommended money-making opportunities to earn a little extra cash for the back-t0-school season! Thank you, Heather!

While you are browsing around for freebies, be sure to visit our Apron Full of Giveaways to find all of the great contests that are happening this week. If you need a little blueberry inspiration in the kitchen, be sure to visit our recipe for blueberry pancake syrup, a sweet little blueberry iced tea recipe, and we even share our day of blueberry picking with our readers.

Health & Beauty


Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee
Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal
True Lemon
Schwan’s $10 Free Food for new customers (starts Aug. 1)
Jack in the Box 2 Free Tacos Tuesday
Kraft $25 Free Food after rebate (starts Aug. 7)
Mars Free Chocolate Friday


LeapFrog ABC Orchestra board book (add your LeapFrog toys to your Learning Path)
Barnes & Noble 6 free eBooks
KIWI Magazine Subsccription
Dr. Suess Join the Lorax activity book (Grades 3-7)
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (free books for children)
World eBook Fair (thru Aug. 4)
Vision Street Wear Stickers
House Party (4 events to apply for)

Home & Garden

Bottle of Gain (create a video at Tryology)
Gain with Febreeze
National Night Out organizational kit


ADT Pet Alert Window Clings

Upcoming Freebie Events:
Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events.


Staples Teacher Appreciation Days free gift bag to first 100 teachers
1 – Lakeshore Free Kid Crafts make a friendship frame 11-3pm
1 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a message center 9-noon
1 & 2 – Museums on Us (free admission for Bank of America customers)
3 – McDonald’s Free Mocha Monday 7am-7pm
4 – Jack in the Box 2 free tacos Noon-11:59pm
4 – National Night Out
8 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a powerboat 10-11am
15 & 16 – National Parks Fee Free Weekend
22 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a schoolbus 10-11am

5 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a bean bag toss 9-noon
26 – Free Museum Day

A Beautiful Day for Berry Picking

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter

Blueberry picking was a huge success for our family. I can’t recall ever picking blueberries before and I think we all marveled at how beautiful these berries were and the amazing abundance of them on each bush.

We headed to the Organic Blueberry Ranch in Mishawaka, Indiana. It is one of the largest in the Midwest, but their latest claim to fame is that they only sell certified organic berries. What a treasure this is to our community and it is only fifteen minutes from our house!

If you want a sweet little adventure with your children, make sure to take advantage of all of the berry picking. I was fortunate to have one child who doesn’t like berries, who could assist me with filling our pail, and one child who just sat down and consumed berries the entire time. In my opinion, that makes for a perfect team!

We only filled a small pail, but it was enough to have a little fun in the kitchen with and eat by the handfuls. I hope to return again before the season is over so that we can create a few more dishes with this summer treat!

I hope you are enjoying some of these sweet and simple summer pleasures too.

Simple Writings Bring Simple Pleasures

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

One of my dearest friends and I built our relationship up through daily email exchanges about our lives. We started emailing when my husband and I were just newlyweds and she was in a committed relationship. Our emails continued as we journeyed to Massachusetts and settled down in our first home, through my pregnancy, her engagement, her marriage, and her first baby, my second baby, her second baby… each email carefully documented our daily joys and struggles. When I became a mother my emails were full of joy, but a lot of whining about sleep, difficulty transitioning into motherhood, problems nursing, and general woes. Her emails were filled with encouragement and hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. When she wrote about motherhood though, she rarely complained but just reveled in the joy of being a mother. She was like that, she just enjoyed life.

Whatever she wrote about though, I seemed to want. It wasn’t belongings, but a sense of peace and of tranquility that she seemed to capture, that I had never had. I was always running, always going, always busy…I now realize that I didn’t take the time to enjoy the simple things, the simple life, and the simple goodness that could be created by being still for a moment.

I am trying to transition out of the busy bee world and into a more quiet time with my children. Perhaps it is melancholy because my firstborn will be attending first grade next year or perhaps it is just the realization that I don’t need to be running or constantly entertained to enjoy a quiet spell in my life.

Today was just one example of what a quiet day for us is like. The windows were cracked and I could feel the fresh air blowing into our house and the smell of freshly cut grass. I look down at my daughter as I feel her deliberate and persistent tapping on my leg. As I look down at her, I smile because she is wearing a pair of my shoes on her chubby little feet. Of all her toys, it is these shoes she loves and she calls them her “tap shoes” as she scoots the sandals across the floor. I look over at my son who is curled at one end of our sofa with a book. I can hear him as he sounds out each word very carefully and slowly, just as he has been taught in school. I revel in his growing vocabulary and how much he has learned this year- he has grown so much.

The smell of fresh muffins travels through the room as I wrap up my baking for the week ahead. This batch of muffins is stuffed to the brim with oatmeal and a little bit of chocolate, to balance out the heartiness and make them more appealing to my children. The muffins smell like freshly baked cookies and the kids begin to count down the minutes until they will be cool enough to handle.

I hum a little bit as I tidy up the kitchen, from the day spent baking, and fill the sink with the dirty dishes. The suds and warm water fill the sink and I dip my hands into the bubbles to finish the day’s dishes. As I scrub, I look out the window at our sweet little garden that we planted together. I recall the tender way my son wanted to help plant each and every plant, asking each time, “What can I do, mommy?” He was there for each step of the process and helped to water our finished product. He was just as proud and dirty as me that day.

I then sit at the other end of the sofa with my son and the sound of my knitting needles, Emily’s tap shoes, and my son’s quiet readings are all you hear. We enjoy the quiet of this day and look forward to our idyllic summer together. This stillness is what I need and I see our children growing from it. Not from the organized activities, the well-thought and well-executed organized crafts, the busy running. No, they thrive in the quiet and stillness…and so do I.

Do you see how the mundane can be made to sound lovely? Just as advertisers would have us believe that a new car will give us this amazing life we have always dreamed of, simple writing about simple pleasures may invoke that same enthusiasm. Suddenly baking muffins, knitting, quiet moments, a tiny garden, and doing dishes sound lovely…and you begin to want that. Imagine if the whole world returned to these simple pleasures- joy in the laundry hanging on the line, kids playing in sprinklers instead of with electronic gadgets, freshly baked goodies straight from your own oven, an appreciation for the beauty in nature instead of the beauty of our exterior selves…I would imagine that it would put a lot of companies out of business.

Today I challenge you to a day of simplicity and I look forward to hearing what special and simple things bring you the most joy in your life.

Is it your children’s laughter? Is it a freshly cracked library book? Is it the quiet time you spend with your spouse after your children have went to bed? Is it that first cup of morning coffee with a dash of cream? What are some simple pleasures that bring you happiness? Revel in those things, bring those things into your life, focus on those simple and amazing pleasures and see if it doesn’t bring into perspective the beautiful life you are already leading.

What simple pleasures in life do you enjoy the most?

Wordless Wednesday: Her Joyful Spirit

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Amy’s Notebook 07.29.09

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

This anti-boredom kit is a great idea for the kids (@ Instructables)

This strawberry bread pudding would be a wonderful brunch dish (@ Baking Bites)

I love this tip on keeping sports bottles in the car (@ Parent Hacks)

This knitted cupcake hat is amazingly beautiful (@ A Purse Full of Cheerios)

I love these eight helpful tips for food photography (@ Pioneer Woman)

I like this ideas for throwing a circus birthday party (@ Let’s Explore)

I need to learn how to knit on double pointed needles so I can make these knitted coasters (@ do stuff!)

Setting a tantrum timer is a great idea for parents (@ The Toby Show)

This homemade wheat waffle mix looks so yummy (@ giver’s log)

I am going to have to remember these tips for freezing summer fruit (@ Cooks Illustrated)

These alphabet block magnets are so inventive and adorable (@ plum pudding)

This knitted guest hand towel is beautiful (@ 3 Sleeves to the Wind)

These knitted leg warmies would make a wonderful baby gift (@ Sew Liberated)

I am going to make some of these little homemade make-up kits for my daughter (@ Parent Hacks)

I love this thrifty & pretty solution for earring storage (@ Teresa Franco)

My children would love this homemade moon sand (@ ohdeedoh)

Notebook Experiments: Is WHO Bread Delicious?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Experiment: Is WHO bread really and truly delicious?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 02.14.07

Materials Needed: Please see SouleMama for the complete recipe and instructions.

Results: I have had this recipe bookmarked for a very long time and have finally replaced my bread machine so I can test another fun bread machine recipe.

We grilled out last night and I thought I would make a loaf of this bread and (just because I am over-the-top kind of gal) I decided to make a batch of my Honey Butter to spread on top.

This bread is delicious and smelled like heaven as it baked. It has all of my favorite elements in it- a dash of brown sugar, honey, oatmeal, and cinnamon. I did substitute one cup of the white flour with whole wheat flour, which gave it a deliciously chewy texture with a nice firm crust.

Conclusion: I would definitely make this bread over and over again. It is such a perfect balance of flavors and adding my addition of the honey butter really made it even more delicious. Every single person in the family loved this bread and I look forward to smearing some jam on it for toast in the morning.

If you don’t have a bread machine, don’t despair because Soule Mama also has an acoustic version for those without bread machines. Many thanks to Soule Mama for generously sharing her wonderful recipes!

A Fresh Blueberry Addition to Your Iced Tea or Coffee

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Making homemade syrups for drinks is something that I love to keep in our refrigerator to fancy up a glass of iced tea or a mug of coffee. Making homemade syrups does not take a lot of time, but it can make a regular glass of iced tea go from a standard glass to a fantastical gourmet treat.

Today, I wanted to share with you a fun recipe for making Blueberry Drink Syrup that can be added to your iced tea, your coffee, or even your margarita! Whatever gets you going in the morning, I promise not to judge!

To begin with, you will need four cups of fresh berries and two cups of water. Put these two ingredients into a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, you can turn it down and let it cook for ten to twelve minutes on the stove.

While that is boiling away, grab a glass bowl (or something that won’t stain easily) and put your strainer on top. Line your strainer with a square of heavy-duty paper towel or cheesecloth.

Now bring your berries over to your bowl and pour them over the strainer. While you are doing this, stand way-the-heck-back because you will get splattered and it will be difficult to get those stains off of everything.

Once you have all of the juice strained, put it back on the oven and add one cup of sugar (or a 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of juice that is strained). Reheat for two minutes or until the sugar is dissolved.

Now your syrup is all done and you can pour it into a clean jar. This can be stored in your refrigerator and you can use it whenever you feel like a little blueberry pie in your coffee or tea.

Add two tablespoons of blueberry syrup to your drink and please sit back with your feet up when you drink this! It is that kind of drink that speaks of summer and laziness to me. If you add a little cream to your coffee, I bet it will taste just like that slice of blueberry pie you have been craving!

This would also make a lovely summertime gift for a friend or loved one. Add a bowl and a label to the front with the instructions. I bet your friends will think you have truly risen to Martha Stewart status with this one!

Blueberry Syrup for Coffee or Iced Tea

4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

Place blueberries in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Set sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth or paper towel over a bowl and pour in the blueberry mixture. Gently press out the juice with a spoon or by twisting the cheesecloth. Discard the pulp and measure the juice into saucepan. Add 1/2 cup sugar for each cup of juice and cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Chill and pour into covered jar. Store in refrigerator. Add two tablespoons to each glass of prepared iced tea or coffee. Stir well.

An Apron Full of Giveaways 07.28.09

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Photo Credit: motley boutique, $18

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways, where we round up all of the best giveaways on the web. This is the spot where you can share your blog contests or where you can find fantastic stuff to enter.

I am still recovering from BlogHer and came home to two sick little children so we will not be running a contest this week. I do, however, want to still offer you a chance to list your giveaways so please link up!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Children’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Fresh Blueberry Pancake Syrup On Homemade Waffles

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I sincerely hope you love blueberries because I am afraid it is blueberry week on my blog. We brought home a ton of fresh berries that were dying to be poured on top of some deliciously light waffles this week.

I love making pancake syrup, but this is my first attempt making a berry syrup. It is amazing how sugar, water, a little vanilla, and fresh berries make such an incredible difference on a plain old waffle.

The burst of flavor, the happy dance in my mouth, and the smacking of lips at the table make me so incredibly joyful. The berries coat the waffle perfectly and add a little sweetness to my waffle without a sugary overkill.

This is really and truly a fantastic indulgence that takes about the same amount of time to cook as it does to make up a batch of waffles. Fast and delicious!

Fresh Blueberry Pancake Syrup

1 pint (or two cups) fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow it to cook for 12-15 minutes and give the berries a little smash with your wooden spoon to break them up into the syrup. This syrup can be served warm over The Best Waffles Ever or you can serve the syrup cooled.

Best Waffles Ever (Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 egg whites

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. In another bowl beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in milk and oil. Add egg yolk mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just till moistened (should be lumpy). In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight up). Gently fold egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture, leaving a few fluffs of egg white, Do not overmix. Spoon waffle batter into your waffle iron, making sure not to overfill it. Side NoteI doubled this recipe for my family of four and we had enough for three extra Belgian waffles.

And what did my children think of the new blueberry addition to their plate?

Sometimes a picture can say it better than I can!

Freebie Friday: July 24, 2009

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Happy Freebie Friday! A huge thanks to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for sharing her weekly dose of freebie goodness with our readers. Be sure to visit her post on tripled grocery savings. Please visit her site all week long for fantastic freebies!

I am here at BlogHer for the weekend so if you are here too please try and find me to say hello or send me a message on twitter (@momadvice)!

Health & Beauty

Mars Free Chocolate Friday
Caribou Coffee Cooler or Brownie (Facebook fans)


World eBook Fair (thru Aug. 4)
NASA Send your name to Mars
Milk Matters and Budy Brush Coloring Book
Get Married magazine
Golden Voices Music Sampler (Amazon)
Gretsch 125th Anniversary Guitar Poster
House Party (4 events to apply for)

Home & Garden
National Night Out organizational kit
Viva towels (Walmart)
Ziploc Healthy Lunch Box Ideas recipe book download (enter 2 Ziploc UPCs)
What to Expect Guide to a Healthy Home (download from Clorox)
Window Covering Safety Council Retrofit Kit

Upcoming Freebie Events:
Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events.


25 – Lakeshore Free Kid Crafts make a buggy welcome sign 11-3pm
25 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a helicopter 10-11am
27 – McDonald’s Free Mocha Monday 7am-7pm


Staples Teacher Appreciation Days free gift bag to first 100 teachers
1 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a message center 9-noon
1 & 2 – Museums on Us (free admission for Bank of America customers)
4 – National Night Out
8 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a powerboat 10-11am
15 & 16 – National Parks Fee Free Weekend