Archive for August, 2009

Soft Pretzels with Sweet Mustard Dipping Sauce

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Both of my children love to help me in the kitchen and when I found this fun little recipe for a snack, I had to try it with them. Longtime readers may remember my failed attempts at pretzel-making. While I was discouraged by that experience, I haven’t given up on it. I will say though that when I found a quick and easy way to achieve the pretzel goodness without the mess, I had to give these a try.

Store-bought bread stick dough is what makes this recipe so quick and easy. The dough is easy to roll, without any flouring of your surface, and little hands can help roll out the pretzels for you. Within fifteen minutes, we were able to eat some delicious pretzels and everyone enjoyed helping with this project in the kitchen.

This would make the perfect snack for after school or serve when tailgating with friends. I can’t wait to make another batch of these fun little treats again and neither can my kids!

Soft Pretzels with Sweet Mustard Dipping Sauce
1 (11 ounce) can refrigerated bread sticks
1 egg white, lightly beaten
coarse salt
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Roll out each breadstick into a 20-in. rope; twist into a pretzel shape. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack. For mustard dip, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with pretzels.

Freebie Friday: August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! Enjoy all of the great freebies each week courtesy of Freebies 4 Mom. Heather’s site offer freebies all week long and can keep you on top of all of the latest freebies. I encourage you to visit her site daily to get the scoop on all of the great freebies on the web!

Be sure to swing by our Apron Full of Giveaways for all of the latest giveaways, including our $100 Famous Footwear Gift Card and a lunchbox giveaway worth over $150.

Health & Beauty
eos Mint Lip Balm
Always Thin Flexi-Style Liner
Kotex Ultra Thin Overnight Pads
Vaseline new product (when you create a short video review with Tryology)
MetaboLife House Party

Beech-Nut Baby Food Starter Kit
Beech-Nut Solid Advice Book
Chick-fil-A Free Chicken Sandwich
Pei Wei Japanese Chile Beef Ramen (Facebook click on left sidebar image, become fan of “Anove” to register for coupon by mail)
Yoplait Whips

$5 MP3 Credit (purchase Big Kahuna Reef Game for $0.00)
Hallmark card (Walmart)
O, The Oprah Magazine (2 issues, Mercury Magazine)
Baby Signs Kit (when you create a short video review with Tryology)
Fire by Kristin Cashore eBook Sampler

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

29 – Lakeshore Free Kids Craft – desktop nameplate 11-3 pm

Disney’s A Christmas Carol Train Tour nationwide free event
5 – National Bowling Day free bowling
5 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a bean bag toss 9-noon
5 & 6 – Museums on Us (free admission for Bank of America customers)
5 & 12 – Lands’ End Shop at Sears free Pack Pal
7 – Chick-fil-A free food when you wear a sports logo
12 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a drum 10-11am
26 – Free Museum Day

Notebook Experiment: Can I Make My Own Salad Bar?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Experiment: Can I make my own salad bar?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 08.05.09

Materials Needed: Please see Mighty Girl for the full instructions.

Results: I know we have talked a lot about making school lunches for kids, but I what I find with myself is that my own eating seems to take a backseat when I am busy. I think that is why I loved this fantastic idea for creating your own salad bar.

I stocked up on salad bar ingredients that I really like- romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, blue cheese crumbles, mushrooms, olives, and dried cranberries. I also prepared my favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing and roasted chicken breasts for salads.

I had a little helper with me who was intrigued by all of the bright colors. This gave us an opportunity to talk about eating the rainbow of vegetables and, to my delight, she wanted to try every single thing that we were chopping.

Clearing space in our fridge was a challenge, but I managed to clear one of our produce drawers for the ingredients. I washed out and used cottage cheese and sour cream containers to store everything in. Everything looked so yummy and fresh! The best part is that one of my favorite things to eat when I go out is to visit places with a salad bar. Now I can enjoy all of that convenience at home with just an hour of chopping.

Conclusion: Thanks to Mighty Girl for this idea to help me eat healthier! It has been delicious salads all week and has even helped encourage my daughter to eat outside of her comfort zone.


I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Wednesday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster’s blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can’t wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

Wordless Wednesday: Last Days of Summer

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Back to School Celebrations

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

In our house, we celebrate just about everything. If there is a reason to do some celebrating, our family will find it. We had to break out the celebration plate twice this past week to celebrate our first day of school. Ethan started on Tuesday and Emily started on Thursday. Next year I plan to combine the celebration into one because doing this twice was a lot of work in that busy first week of school. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, but I wanted to share with you some pictures from our parties.

For Ethan’s big day, we all worked together to make the Family Fun school bus cake (there is also a video tutorial here). This cake was absolutely adorable and will be the new Clark family tradition. We found angel food cake loaves at Aldi over by the bread which helped make this cake a little bit lighter. Four people fit on the bus, so we added our family on the bus, complete with a hair bow in Emily’s hair! The kids adored this cake. After we cut into it, we headed over to the neighbor’s house to share it with the other little boy in our neighborhood who just started his first week of school.

Served with the cake, I made my simple pizza crust in the bread machine so that we could enjoy a little pizza with our cake.

In case you missed Emily’s theme for her school year it is purple and flowers. Unbeknown to me, as we sat down for the “back to school party” on Tuesday night, Emily said she could not wait for her perfect purple flower cake for her party. With weary eyes, I looked at my husband over our pizza. “I hope you like pizza,” I said.

For her party, I just used store-bought cake mix and frosting. I used tip #129 to pipe flowers and then used tip #4 for the center dot in white on each flower. Prepared icing is a pain to work with, but the day had been too crazy to make a batch of icing. She is three so I didn’t think she would mind that the flowers were not as perfect as I hoped.

I love to pipe a little border on the cake plate to go along with the toppings on cupcakes. I think it pulls it all together. Just as her brother’s party, Emily’s flower cupcakes were served with my simple pizza crust in the bread machine so that we could enjoy a little pizza with our cake.

I am thinking we will be skipping our Friday night pizza routine this week!

What are your back-to-school traditions? Do you do anything special for the big day?

An Apron Full of Giveaways 08.25.09

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Snappy Shop, $52.00

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.

We have a new giveaway this week that we are offering to one lucky reader. This giveaway is for a $100 gift card to Famous Footwear. With school starting, we thought it would be great for those back-to-school shoes for the family.

This week we still have a really amazing giveaway running for our readers. We are giving away a lunchbox filled with goodies that is valued to be over $150 to one lucky reader. It is everything a kid could ever want for the back-to-school season so be sure to check that out!

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!

Thrifty Breakfast: Banana Cream Pie Smoothies

Monday, August 24th, 2009

If you have a big eater like me, making a breakfast that will fill your child up in the morning can be a real challenge. Although my little guy looks like a lightweight, he has been known to put away three to four bowls of cereal in the morning. This makes breakfast one of those meals that can really add up in our grocery budget.

Since his school year started, I am getting up early with him and have been making affordable breakfasts a priority in our house. Eggs, bread, oatmeal, and milk are inexpensive ingredients that I am trying to work into our morning meals.

One thing that I know my children really love is milkshakes. When I happened upon this recipe for banana cream pie smoothies, I knew that this would be a thrifty solution to get my kids fueled in the morning… in a really fun way.

When I got home from the grocery store, I sliced bananas and put them in this little dish in our freezer for our smoothies in the morning. I can get a whole bag of bananas at Aldi for $.99. I also bought the large tubs of low fat vanilla yogurt to add to the smoothie mixture. This is also an affordable steal compared to those small containers of yogurt. One tub equals approximately four batches of smoothies (eight smoothies in all).

To round out the meal, I make one or two slices of whole grain toast with a little smear of peanut butter on it. The kids love the combination and feel like they are getting a special treat in the mornings. I love to have one of these myself because they fill me up in the morning and have been a nice addition to my “only coffee” routine.

Just as one more fun idea to add to your morning routine, my son gets to choose his favorite breakfast on Fridays. They have a, “Fun Friday” at school where they get to wear their school t-shirt instead of a uniform. To go along with that theme, I make a “Fun Friday Breakfast.” He gets to choose what the breakfast will be that morning and all other days, I get to choose based on our time constraints. Can you guess what he chose this week?

I highly recommend adding this fun and thrifty smoothie to your morning routine!

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie (Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine, makes 2 servings or 4 smaller servings)

1 cup sliced ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons whole wheat graham cracker crumbs (about 1/2 cookie sheet- we have been omitting this ingredient)
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ice cubes (about 1/4 cup)
Graham cracker crumbs (optional)

Arrange banana slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until firm (about 1 hour). Place frozen banana and remaining ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 216 (12% from fat)
Fat: 2.8g (sat 1.5g,mono 0.8g,poly 0.3g)
Protein: 9.8g
Carbohydrate: 39.3g
Fiber: 1.9g
Cholesterol: 9mg
Iron: 0.4mg
Sodium: 145mg
Calcium: 315mg

Freebie Friday: August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Happy Freebie Friday! As we do each week, Freebies 4 Mom is sharing her weekly round-up of amazing freebies with our readers. Since I know you guys love giveaways, be sure to check out the 5 new giveaways that Freebies 4 Mom is offering up to their readers. A huge thanks to Heather for helping us with our weekly freebie feature!

We also are giving away a little loot of our own. Be sure to enter to win a lunchbox with over $150 in prizes, including an iPod shuffle, for the back-to-school season. We also host our weekly round-up of great giveaways each week so don’t miss that.


Emergen-C drink mix (Walmart)

Picture People Free 8×10 or 10×13
20 Indie Songs on iTunes (for Facebook fans)
So Much to Save The Dave Matthews Band
Fifteen Taylor Swift
Seventeen digital 1 yr subscription (ValueMags)
House Party (4 events to apply for)
8×10 Scrapbook Page (Walgreens- enter code SCRAPIT)

Home & Garden

Children’s Orchard $5 Cache Card
Teaching Children to Read VHS
Home Made Simple coupon book by mail

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

Disney’s A Christmas Carol Train Tour nationwide free event
Saturdays – Lands’ End Shop at Sears free Pack Pal
22 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a school bus 10-11am


5 – National Bowling Day free bowling
5 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a bean bag toss 9-noon
5 & 6 – Museums on Us (free admission for Bank of America customers)
5 & 12 – Lands’ End Shop at Sears free Pack Pal
7 – Chick-fil-A free food when you wear a sports logo
12 – Lowes Build and Grow Kids Clinic make a drum 10-11am
26 – Free Museum Day

And Then There Was One…

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Her face is pressed against the window and tears are rolling down her face. “I want to go to school. Why can’t I go to school?” Gently I tell her, “Sweetie, you can go next year, I promise.” For one entire month, this was part of our morning routine, as her brother would ride away on his school bus.

We would talk about what her perfect first day of school would be like when that big day came. “I will have a flower dress. I will have flower shoes. I will ride a flower bus. I will have a purple backpack.” We would play pretend school and talk about what she would learn.

To Emily’s delight, her year is finally here. I drove all over town to find her flower dress, her flower shoes, and her purple backpack. I couldn’t find a flower bus to drive her in, but everything else was exactly as she envisioned it.

As we pulled up, my eyes filled with happy tears for her. This was her big day that she had waited for. As I opened her door and leaned in to grab her backpack, she put her two hands on my cheeks and said, “Mommy, I will be right back!” It was a voice I did not recognize. A voice of a little girl who has suddenly become independent. A girl who won’t always hold my hand, who has to get in her seat by herself, a girl that would rather wear her clothes backwards then let her mom assist her.

My big girl grew up and her big eyes were filled with delight when she arrived. There were no tears and barely a nod in my direction as I left.

Yes, this was her day and my day too. We worked hard for this day.

And then it was just me, in a house by myself. I have not been alone in my house like that for over three years. It felt strange and very quiet to be alone.

A new stage in my motherhood journey is here.

Amy’s Notebook 08.19.09

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

This homemade tooth fairy pillow is adorable (@ zakka life)

This strawberry pretzel ice cream looks delicious (@ Hello My Name is Heather)

These mini car kits would be so handy on long trips (@ Store & Style)

This pencil bag made from juice pouches is a clever use of recyclables (Skip to My Lou)

I love this superhero cape pattern (@ floating world views)

This shrimp scampi with zucchini and tomatoes would be a great way to use up those veggies in your garden (@ CRAFT)

I love this sweet little letter satchel (@ Soule Mama)

I want to make this Scrabble clock for our family room (@ Cut Out & Keep)

I love these four daily routines to keep your house clean enough (@ The Inspired Room)

I love this tutorial on how to prepare dried beans (@ Feels Like Home)

This parmesan caper potato salad looks so yummy (@ Coconut & Lime)

I love these tips on how to have a swap meet (@ Nesting Place)

These swaddling blankets look like a great simple sewing project (@ The Purl Bee)

These homemade pickles look like a yummy treat (@ The Toby Show)

I love these free printable lunchbox tags (@ Alpha Mom)

This Dr. Suess baby shower was the most amazing shower I have ever seen (@ kara’s party ideas)