Archive for November, 2009

Gifts You Can Make: Elegant Quick Breads With Printable Gift Tags

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I hope you have been enjoying our Gifts You Can Make series. My hope is that we can offer some fabulously easy gifts that you can make to share with those you love. In case you have missed the past tutorials, we have shared hot drink mixes you can make, homemade bath salts & soaks for gift-giving, and hand painted mugs that you can create with your children.

Today we are continuing the series with elegant quick breads that can be given for the holiday season. There are three things that make this gift a total winner in my book. The first is that they can be frozen ahead of time and stored in your freezer for last minute gifts. The second element that I love about these gifts is that they are quick and you don’t need to be a fantastic baker to achieve success with these recipes. The third, of course, is that they can be multiplied to make several gifts for the holiday season in one afternoon.

Quick breads can be thrown together in a bowl, beaten with a wooden spoon, and made in a matter of ten minutes. Don’t believe me? I timed myself in the kitchen to see how long my hands-on time with these were. In ten minutes, I was sliding two loaves of pumpkin bread in the oven and could tackle other holiday chores around the house. You can’t beat that!

First, you need to choose what type of loaf pan you will be using for your gift-giving. I prefer the disposable loaf pans because it makes it easier to package and place in your freezer and because of the affordability factor. This was a three pack of loaf pans purchased at Walmart (over by the plastic containers in the housewares, not in the baking aisle) and it was $1.56 for the three. You could also check at your local dollar store to see if they have these. I happened to buy them there because I needed milk that day!

With these, the key to keeping things mess-free in your oven is to assemble your loaves on a cookie sheet. Because they are made from a flimsy material, it can lead to a major catastrophe in your oven. If you overfill a loaf pan, the cookie sheet can catch the excess batter and will save you from that horrible burning smell in your oven. Not that this has ever happened to me…nope, not ever!

Other options are those cute mini-loaf pans that you can find for $1 at Michael’s in festive holiday colors. You would need to reduce the length of baking time to adjust for these, but they can be a cute way to package those gifts.

I want to start with my favorite loaf of bread to whip up for the holidays and that is my Spiced Pumpkin Bread. I keep cans of pumpkin on hand all year round to make this bread because it is such a favorite in our house. It comes out perfectly every single time and is a favorite even with those weird pumpkin-haters in the family. To date, I have already made eight loaves of pumpkin bread this month and I think our family has ate six of them. It just goes to show that this recipe is a true winner for the holidays! It also goes to show why my New Year’s resolution will be to starting working out more.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts, if desired.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.


For a different spin on quick breads, I adore making a loaf of Cinnamon Delight Bread for the holidays. The unique thing about this bread is that sprinkled on the bottom of the bread is a cinnamon and sugar coating to line the bottom of the loaf. This is a sweet little surprise at the bottom that makes a deliciously yummy bottom cinnamon crust. While I will be the first to admit that this loaf isn’t the most amazing looking loaf, one slice of it and people will be begging for the recipe. Enjoy showing off your cooking skills with this delicious treat!

Cinnamon Bread Delight

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 large package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt 2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Grease 2 5×9 loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Sprinkle the bottoms of the pans with cinnamon sugar and divide the batter between the 2 pans. Bake 1hr or until a toothpick comes out clean.


My new favorite bread this year is our Light Banana Oat Bread. What makes this bread special enough for the holidays is the beautiful oats that decorate the top of the loaf. It is the perfect way to use up those ripe bananas and make a gift in the process. Banana bread is always a favorite in our house because it is a thrifty treat that is loved by just about everyone!


Deliciously Light Banana Oat Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed banana (approximately 2 1/2 per loaf)
1/3 cup buttermilk (I substituted with half & half with 2 tsp of vinegar to sour)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine banana, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, in the pan, for about 15 minutes (I left mine in longer and it was fine). Remove the bread from the pan after 15 minutes and cool thoroughly on the rack.


Packaging your bread for gift-giving is super easy. I love to find ribbon with some wiring in it to get a beautiful bow that will stand to attention. One note about selecting ribbon is to look for ribbon that isn’t glittery, if you plan to leave your loaves exposed instead of wrapping and freezing them. Glitter from the ribbon can come loose and scatter across the top of your loaf. Again, this has never happened to me…nope, not ever!

For packaging, cover the bread with a little plastic and wrap your ribbon around the outside. To make packaging even easier, we are including a free download today for beautiful (and did I mention free?) gift tags that you can add to label these loaves.

Free Gift Tags for Quick Breads

Isn’t it great when one day can easily yield ten beautiful gifts to give! Share these quick breads at your next holiday potluck, as a hostess gift, a sweet teacher gift, or for all of life’s little helpers (hairdressers, newspaper boy, postal worker, neighbor, bus driver, etc…) Trust me, they won’t stay in the freezer long and everyone will remember your delicious handmade gift!


Quick Freezing Guidelines For Quick Breads

– Make sure your bread is completely cool before wrapping it or putting it in the freezer. To freeze, wrap securely in aluminum foil, freezer wrap or place in freezer bags. Label all packages with the name of the recipe and date. Use within the recommended storage time (up to 3 months) for the best flavor and texture.


Do you have a favorite quick bread recipe to share or a secret to great packaging? Please share here!

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Amy’s Notebook 11.25.09

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

My kids would love this turkey-shaped cake (@ Craftzine)

For my friends with allergies, this gluten-free pumpkin pie would be great on your Thanksgiving table (@ Home Ec 101)

These homemade crescent rolls would be a great side for the Thanksgiving meal (@ Make it Do)

I am loving this Kraft paper tablecloth for the kid’s table (@ ohdeedoh)

These homemade pumpkin bagels look like a yummy fall treat (@ Pepper Paints)

I love these DIY holiday printable calendars (@ Alpha Mom)

This decadent cashmere scarf looks so beautiful (@ My Mama Made It)

This roast turkey looks perfect for Thanksgiving Day (@ Simply Recipes)

I love this cupcake celebration birthday idea (@ ohdeedoh)

This apple butter pie would be a great variation on the traditional pumpkin pie (@ Baking Bites)

I want to try making this pumpkin spice play dough (@ The Idea Room)

I love these simple shimmering holiday candles (@ Remodeling This Life)

These wool flowers would be a perfect embellishment on my knitted hats (@ Storybook Woods)

These caramel apples look like a delicious treat to give (@ Annie’s Eats)

This cherry orange loaf cake would be a a great dessert to share for the holidays (@ blue kitchen)

Gifts You Can Make: Hand Painted Mugs

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Welcome to another installment of Gifts You Can Make. I hope that this series has been encouraging to you. If you are just joining in, I have shared ideas for hot drink mixes you can make and bath salts or soaks that you could whip up for gift-giving. Today we are continuing the series with another gift that is easy to make, but that make thoughtful gifts.

We will begin with painted coffee mugs. What you will need for this craft is plain white mugs like I have pictured above. I buy these at our local thrift store for $.25 each and there is usually no shortage on white mugs that are being donated.

The other thing you will need is a porcelain paint set. These can be found in the painting supplies of your craft store. You are looking for the set that does not require any heat-setting. These paints cost $4.99, but you can bring that 40% off coupon to knock down the total.

Keep in mind, before letting your children loose on painting these, they require a clear coating on them first to prep them for painting. You have to wait one hour for these to dry. After that, give your children some paint brushes and let them decorate their mugs.

Once these are all painted, let them dry overnight and then apply the final clear coat that will go on top of them. The clear paint is contained within the paint set and just requires a quick brush on top of the mugs. I was able to paint three mugs with one set of paints, in case you were planning to do several of these. Once the clear coating has been applied, they are good to go in the dishwasher after ten days of drying.

Here is what my kid’s mugs turned out like! They were so proud of their art work and we plan to give these as gifts to a few special teachers including my son’s art teacher that has inspired him so much this year and our sweet bus driver that braves the bad weather to pick him up.

These painted mugs can be filled with treats, drink mixes, gift certificates to the coffee shop or a bookstore, or whatever else you can think of. We did these for our teachers this year, but one year we made these as grandparent gifts and they were really loved by them too!

Our mugs will be packaged with these jars filled with cocoa mix for our teachers. I had this ribbon leftover from my gift wrapping supplies last year and found these adorable Christmas Story gift tags at Walmart (9 for $2) that I tied to each one with the instructions for the cocoa. The jars were over in their kitchen supplies for $2.97 each to put the cocoa mix in. To save on this expense, try the Crystal Light containers for easy transporting and to keep your gift more thrifty.

I also saw these reusable shopping bags over in the gift wrap supplies at Walmart and scooped these up to package up our gifts. These bags were $2 each and can be reused over and over again. These bags are flat-bottomed, which makes them a little easier to stay standing upright underneath the Christmas tree.

I chose reusable bags last year for gift-giving and they were a total hit! I am such a fan of the Target bags and the clever designs that they implement into their bags. These bags folded up into the size of a small cosmetic case and had a pocket in the front too, perfect for tucking a gift card or a note of appreciation to someone. These were only $1.50, but everyone was so excited to get these.

These have just a couple of pieces of tissue paper at the top, but the bottom was stuffed with newspaper that would have gone in our recycle bin. The newspaper helped these stand a little more upright since they were not flat-bottomed. I felt proud about my eco-friendly alternative and am hoping to convert some of my plastic-bag-lovin’ family members over to the joys of reusable bags.

Do you do gifts for your teachers? What do you plan to give this year? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

An Apron Full of Giveaways: 11.24.09

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Photo Credit: Pink & Polka Dot , $25.00

Thanks so much for swinging by for our Apron Full of Giveaways! Each week we share a link list of great contests to enter and share about our own latest giveaways.

This week we have three new giveaways starting up and six giveaways closing at 8PM tonight. Today our new giveaways are a $50 Hasbro gift card for your holiday shopping, an Adorable Kinders Rag Doll (valued at $59.99), and three copies of the new Twimerick children’s book. You won’t want to miss entering any of these.

Today our giveaways are closing on the pair of Timberland PRO Renova Shoes (valued at $80-100), a pair of Sorel Hoonah Boots (valued at $180), an entire year’s worth of Clean + Green cleaning products for your home, a $100 Visa Gift Card to spend on your holiday shopping from Scott’s, a Gracie Madame Alexander Doll from Avon, and a Color Me Christmas Gift Box filled with bath products from Lush. Hurry and enter before 8PM EST tonight!

My goal is to help you have the best Christmas ever and we promise more giveaways next week!

Below are the contest links to our contests and to yours! 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!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Sometimes you just need something warm and satisfying and after an entire day of “playing” in the leaves, I knew that our family was up for just that kind of food!

As a nod to how far my culinary abilities have come, I love to share with people that I had no idea that beef stew was something you could make and was not something that came out of a can. Dinty Moore was what we had always ate growing up and it was served with a can of biscuits as a quick weeknight meal.

Imagine my surprise when one day I was watching Food Network and watched as someone made this dish out of common pantry items. To me, it was completely mind-blowing! I always think of that day as a turning point for me in the kitchen. It was that year that I made some of my greatest culinary discoveries and the year that I suffered through some of my biggest culinary failures.

Over the years, I have prepared this beef stew for our family hundreds of times. This beef stew is one of my favorite fall dishes to share around the dinner table after a busy day. It can be created in your slow cooker and cooked until you need it or it can be prepared in a pot and ready to go within an hour of cooking. Either way, it is a satisfying meal that will warm you up on the coldest day!

We serve our beef stew with a big batch of pumpkin cornbread muffins and cups of cider.

I hope you can indulge in this delicious dish one night in your house and be sure to check out our One Month of Slow Cooking for other great slow cooker dishes to prepare!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat – cubed
2.5 cups carrots
2.5 cups potatoes
1 cup celery
1 can diced tomatoes – with the juice poured in
1 can beef broth
1 cup water
1 tsp ground mustard
3 sprigs rosemary

Put beef in a zipper bag with a 1/4 cup of flour and toss to coat. Brown the meat in a skillet and place on the bottom of the crock pot. Coarsely chop vegetables and place on top of the meat. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes with juice, can of beef broth, water, and ground mustard. Place sprigs of rosemary on top and cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours.

Oven-Version: Follow directions above, but fill the pot with the chopped vegetables after browning the meat. Pour in all of the additional ingredients and cook on low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Freebie Friday: November 20, 2009

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Hello, friends, and Happy Freebie Friday from myself & Freebies 4 Mom. Also, Heather is giving away two $100 Borders gift cards, so be sure to check that out.

Health & Beauty

Always Infinity (Walmart)

Kotex (Kroger)

Pampers Extra Protection Size 5 (Walmart)


Steaz Organic Iced Teaz (printable coupon redeemable at Target)

Kashi TLC Granola bar

Kefir Probiotic Wellness Bar (for Facebook Fans)


Robb Report magazine (1 free issue from ValueMags)

Wine Spectator magazine (from Rewards Gold)

Home & Garden

Mueller’s Pasta Meal Planner

Rowenta Art of Ironing DVD

TerraCycle Huggies Plastic Packaging Recycling

Upcoming Freebie Events:

Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events


Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland begins (free 4×6 Santa photo)

20 – Disney Store Pajama Party storytime, games, snacks 5:30 & 7

21 – Polar Express Pajama Party at Borders storytime, activities, hot cocoa 11 am

21- Lakeshore Learning Kid Crafts make a Terrific Turkey Centerpiece 11-3

21 – Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic make a Snowman 10-11

21 – Wahoo’s Free Meal print the ad


5 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a wagon 9-12

5 – Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic make a Gingerbread House 10-11

Amy’s Notebook 11.18.09

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I want to knit this infinity scarf (@ tentenknits)

This hearty beef stew looks like a great recipe to make in my slow cooker (@ Jolly Mom)

This is a great step-by-step tutorial on drawing a turkey (@ Art Projects for Kids)

I had no idea how easy it could be to make homemade butter (@ Down to Earth)

When the holiday knitting is done, I plan to knit for this cause (@ my happy little life)

This make-ahead turkey idea will make Thanksgiving so much easier for families (@ The Finer Things in Life)

These framed silhouette words are beautiful (@ Crafty Nest)

This Christmas tree wall decoration would be a fun project to do with the kids (@ Craft Projects)

I bet my kiddos would love these banana cinnamon waffles (@ Jersey Girl Cooks)

These Oreo Cupcakes look like a yummy treat (@ The Idea Room)

I really like this DIY leaf mobile (@ design sponge)

This roast turkey tutorial will be helpful for Thanksgiving (@ Home Ec 101)

I adore these homemade party hats (@ Prudent Baby)

I like this festive idea for decorating the family photos for a birthday party (@ ohdeedoh)

These velcro catch balls would be a fun and frugal craft to do with the kids (@ CRAFT)

I will have to try this recipe for white enchiladas (@ eat at home)

These scrunchy gathered scarfs are gorgeous and thrifty (@ Hope Studios)

This homemade snowman kit is adorable (@ Make it Do)

This caramel apple cider would make a fun full treat to drink (@ Baking Bites)

These braised short ribs do look heavenly (@ The Pioneer Woman)

I want to try this recipe for homemade rosemary focaccia (@ cathie filian)

This gluten-free and dairy-free waffle recipe is a great one for my friends that suffer from food allergies (@ I’m An Organizing Junkie)

My kids would love coloring & painting these mini-paintings (@ inspired ideas)

I like these cheap ideas for winterizing your home (@ Life Hacker)

These homemade baby legs are adorable (@ Little Birdie Secrets)

This fabric pumpkin tutorial is so great (@ Thompson Family-Life)

Ten Great Children’s Books to Give This Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

My favorite gift to give and to receive around the holidays are books for my children. I love seeing my sweet kids curled up with a good book and enjoying a quiet moment reading. Thanks to our frequent library trips and making our own reading a priority, I have raised two readers with ferocious appetites for a good book. I am so proud!

This is our list, created with my children, of our favorite books that we have read this year.

1.) Alice the Fairy by David Shannon- My daughter’s favorite book this year has been, “Alice the Fairy.” I had found a paperback edition at my son’s book fair and the pages have already been lovingly worn after being read almost every single day by myself or by her.

Alice considers herself a temporary fairy because she has not gone to fairy school yet to become a permanent fairy. Her super fairy powers include changing her dress colors (by spilling her juice) and making cookies mine (by eating them). Fairies never eat food that has been poisoned by the “wicked duchess” (broccoli served by her mother) and she has yet to learn the one super fairy power that her mother wishes she did…making clothes dance away into the hamper.

This book will make you giggle out loud and has the sense of humor and comedic writing that David Shannon is known for. If you are at the library, just pick up every book by this author and enjoy every single book he has written! (Amazon Price- $11.55)

2.) Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer- Last year one of my last minute holiday purchases for the kids included the book, “Olivia Helps with Christmas.” This immediately became an instant holiday classic in the Clark house and I know that your children will love it just as much as we have. It was the book that we kept out on the coffee table that got lots of giggles from grandparents and children alike.

This book focuses on all of the holiday traditions and planning that the family does to get ready for the holiday festivities. Olivia helps her mother by setting the holiday table (by removing the top of the Christmas tree for a centerpiece), burning the holiday cookies, and overfeeding the baby (until he pukes).

More than that, it perfectly captures the nervous excitement that children go through waiting for a visit from Saint Nick and the disappointment with those boring holiday gifts. I guarantee that this will be a book that you read over and over again- the perfect addition to any holiday book basket! (Amazon Price- $11.10)

3.) Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea- One of my son’s favorite books this year is, “Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime” and I am sure it will get a giggle or two out of you too. This book is ideal for a beginning reader or for a child with a short attention span.

The book is a simple concept, can a dinosaur conquer and win matches against anything from a bowl full of spaghetti to a room full of talking grown-ups? In each round, the dinosaur wins with a giant, “ROAR! ROAR! ROAR!”

He conquers everything there is to conquer, but then has to face his toughest match yet… bedtime! Will he ever win it? As the dinosaur winds down, even he admits that bedtime is just one thing he can’t conquer.

This is a fantastic bedtime story that is nice and short…with a goodnight and sweet dreams finish! (Amazon Price- $10.87)

4) Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems- Our family is in love with Mo Willems! My son loves his easy readers and my daughter adores the Knuffle Bunny series. He is one of those author’s that has a fun book for everyone in your family.

This year our new favorite book was, “Naked Mole Rate Gets Dressed.” If the title doesn’t make you laugh, then this book might not be for you!

Wilbur is a naked mole rat who doesn’t like being…so naked. He loves to wear clothes and adds variety into his wardrobe with everything from his space suit to his tuxedo. He hates feeling naked, but no one in his naked rat community agrees.

The naked mole rats decide to have a town meeting with the most naked mole rat of them all.. Grand-pah. Much to the town’s surprise, Grand-pah arrives in his own seersucker suit to address the issue at hand and the town realizes that sometimes it might be okay to be dressed. (Amazon Price- $11.55)
5) Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann & Elizabeth Kann- My daughter’s favorite colors in the world right now are pink and purple. Luckily, there is a book out there for a child that is obsessed with pink, w
ith purple
, and even with gold.

Pinkalicious is a book about a little girl that is obsessed with pink. Everything she uses and eats must be pink which leads to a horrible case of pinkitis, a condition that turns her physically pink. Is too much of pink a bad thing? This cautionary tale shares how even our favorite things in the world are best in moderation.

The book is a delight for the eyes and perfect for the perfectly pink princess in your life (Amazon Price- $10.52)

6.) Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy by David Soman- If you are not acquainted with the original, “Ladybug Girl,” be sure to check out that book, but for a household that has both boys and girls, the new, “Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy” strikes the perfect balance.

Ladybug Girl is an endearing little girl who is all about girl power! She is a positive little girl that can do anything including counting to infinity and jumping over sidewalk cracks. When her mom brings her to the park she is unable to figure out how her and her friend Sam can play together. Noticing his yellow and black striped shirt, they decide that the he can be bumblebee boy and they can save the day together. As other children want to join in, they give them their own character names and Ladybug Girl realizes that they can do so much more good working together as a team rather than separately.

This is a book that not only your girls will love, but your boys can love too! Don’t overlook this book for your family (Amazon Price- $11.55)

7) Scribbles: A Really Giant Drawing & Coloring Book– Want to get your child to read and use their imagination too? The Scribbles drawing book is the perfect book to encourage your child to read and draw together.

Instead of having you simply color, each page tells you something that it would like you to draw. One page will tell him that the alligator is angry and have him fill in his face. Other pictures are exactly alike, but may request colors and patterns to make each of the pictures different. My favorite series is a simple line that is drawn and then it asks you to draw different animals all sitting on the pole. It is truly the best drawing book I have ever come across for allowing children to use their own creativity and imagination to fill in and create pictures.

The book is very durable and it is truly giant. My son still has many more pages to do and with the durability factor, I plan to tuck this away with his age on it as a keepsake of his creative talent at this age. Because the child is doing all of the drawing, you could buy the same book again another year and see what different things they come up with. (Amazon Price- $13.59)

8) Charlie & Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child- My kids both really love the Charlie & Lola series. This book in particular is a new favorite as it teaches children the importance of recycling and how you can do your part.

Charlie convinces his little sister, Lola, to recycle her old toys instead of throwing them away. When Lola discovers there is a recycling contest at school that can earn the school a free tree, she begins learning and doing her part to do everything she can to recycle.

The book is printed on FSC-approved paper and includes recycling tips as well as a tree poster just like Lola’s, so kids can keep track of their recycling projects and help to save the planet all on their own. (Amazon-$11.55)

9) Finn Throws a Fit by David Elliott- Do you deal with crazy toddler tantrums in your house? We have had all too many in our home with our children, and maybe that is why this book is so laugh-out-loud funny.

Finn loves peaches, but on this particular day, he hates peaches. Finn goes into a tantrum that is unlike any other tantrum you have ever seen. The illustrations of his tantrum will make you and your children laugh from the bottom of your toes. His tears flood the floor so much that his mom has to stand on a table so she doesn’t drown, his tantrum creates real storms and avalanches, and the drawings set the book up perfectly for the perfect tantrum storm that is brewing in Finn’s house.

This is a great book for kids, but a fantastic gift to give to a mom that is dealing with those terrible twos and threes that will shed a little humor onto a stressful parenting situation. (Amazon Price- $11.55)

10) Twimericks by Lou Brooks- This is a book that I actually received as a sample copy to review, but will be a fast favorite in our household. Our son is in first grade and loves telling jokes, tongue twisters, and
riddles. If you have a child like that in your house, then this book is for them!

Twimericks are what happens when tongue twisters crash into limericks. It is an adorable book that will be perfect for a long car trip or read aloud and passed around at your child’s birthday party.

The illustrations are deliciously old-fashioned and funny which make this book already look like an instant classic. Don’t forget to put your name in the cover where it says, This Beak BooLongs To…” Seriously hilarious and highly addictive, this book is perfect for children and adults alike (Amazon Price- $8.95)

What are your kid’s favorite books this year? Please share your favorite picks of the year here!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 11.17.09

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Photo Credit: Amievoltaire , $24.95

Thanks so much for swinging by for our Apron Full of Giveaways! Each week we share a link list of great contests to enter and share about our own latest giveaways.

When I promise a giveaway extravaganza, I try to deliver! I got up at five in the morning on Sunday to crank out SIX brand new giveaways along with the two other giveaways that are running from this past week. Four hours later, everything was set and ready to go for the week! That means you have EIGHT opportunities to win.

You will need to visit each of the giveaway links below to get the full scoop on these giveaways. What I can tell you is that we are giving away a pair of Timberland PRO Renova Shoes (valued at $80-100), a pair of Sorel Hoonah Boots (valued at $180), an entire year’s worth of Clean + Green cleaning products for your home, a $100 Visa Gift Card to spend on your holiday shopping from Scott’s, a Gracie Madame Alexander Doll from Avon, and a Color Me Christmas Gift Box filled with bath products from Lush. To top it off, we still have the $300 Select Comfort True Silver Sheets and the Ford Warrior Gift Basket giveaway, both which will be closing at 8PM this evening. PHEW! I hope you know how much we appreciate you visiting and the rewards for being a loyal reader!

My goal is to help you have the best Christmas ever and we promise a ton more next week!

Below are the contest links to our contests and to yours! 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!

Gifts You Can Make: Handmade Bath Salts & Soaks

Monday, November 16th, 2009

We are continuing our Gifts You Can Make series with one of my favorite gifts to give…bath salts and soaks. Don’t forget to also visit last week’s tutorial where I shared two of my favorite hot drink mixes to make.

Making bath salts and soaks are easy and require little effort on your part. I love to make a giant batch of these and keep them on hand for unexpected holiday occasions like hostess gifts or as a return gift for someone that may have been forgotten on the holiday gift-giving list. These are a thoughtful gift just perfect for a friend that needs a little rest and relaxation during the busy holiday season.

Today I wanted to share with you my favorite homemade oatmeal bath. I call it Oatmeal Cookies & Milk because it blends together the ingredients of an oatmeal cookie with powdered milk to make a soft & soothing bath for anyone who has sensitive skin.

Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it is a fine powder. Just add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your bathwater for a soothing bath.


Once the oatmeal mixture is ground up, it will look just like this. I dumped the entire amount into one jar and it filled it to the top, with just a little leftover.

This homemade oatmeal bath can be packaged with a spoon, purchased from your local thrift store, and a little holiday ribbon. How easy and simple is that?


The next gift I want to showcase is a very festive jar of Peppermint Bath Salts. I took a picture of all of the ingredients needed so you can see exactly what they look like when you go to the store. Don’t you hate it when you can’t picture what you should be looking for?

The kosher salt is over in the baking aisle with the regular salt, the Epsom Salts should be over in the first aid supplies of your superstore or drugstore, and the glycerin will be behind the drugstore counter where you pick up your prescriptions (and can also be used for your giant bubbles in the summer).

Now head to your craft store and go into the aisle where the soap making and candle making supplies are. There you will find colorants to dye your bath salts (you need the package with red in it) and the essential oils needed (for this craft it will be the eucalyptus mint). The last thing you can buy is some peppermint striped ribbon or whatever is on sale and festive will totally do the job!

As for jars, I found those at Big Lots and you can get a dozen of them for $6.50 or check the canning supplies section of Walmart (our store was out). I hope that helps with your shopping list and helps with the visuals for what to look for!

You will need two big bowls for this and a giant spoon to mix with. Don’t you love crafts that don’t require a lot of equipment? Now, empty one bag of Epsom Salts into one bowl. Next add 3 cups of your kosher salt, and stir well. Then stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. Mix well.

In your second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts and add 3 cups of your kosher salt. Stir well. Next stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. To this bowl, you will add fifteen drops of your red colorant. This will give you a pale and pretty pink bowl of salts. Mix this side really well to incorporate the coloring throughout this batch.

Now grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and start doing layers to create the peppermint candy look in the jar- a layer of white, a layer of pink, a layer of white, and then a layer of pink. I would recommend filling them on a cookie sheet to catch any runaway salts and to make clean-up a little bit easier. Once everything is filled, you should have 12 jars full and even a little leftover for yourself.

Now tie your gift up with a little festive ribbon and a beautiful gift tag instructing the recipient to put three tablespoons of salts in the bathtub to enjoy a relaxing holiday bath.


Candy Cane Bath Salts

12 tall jelly (12-ounce) canning jars with lid and rings
2 bags of Epsom Salts, 4 pounds each (approximately 16 cups)
4 lb kosher salt (approximately 6 cups is needed, buy two boxes and cook with the rest)
1⁄2 teaspoon glycerin, divided
16 drops eucalyptus peppermint essential oil
15 drops red colorant

Empty one bag of Epsom Salts into large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups kosher salt, stir well. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of eucalyptus
essential oil. Mix well. In second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts, and add 3 cups kosher salt. Stir well. Add 1/4 teaspoon glycerin, eight drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and red colorant. Stir until completely blended. Color should be even. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill canning jars at an angle, layer salts in jars, alternating white and colored mixtures.


Just to make your gifts a tad more festive and to ease the burden of making those gifts, we have included free gift tags to download and print for the holiday season!

Printable Gift Tags

Luckily for you, there will be just a tad too much of both of these bath mixtures to fit into the jars and you will be forced to partake of your efforts. Throw whatever is left in that food processor or bowl and put it into your bath. Now fix yourself a cup of vanilla chai tea, light a candle, and smuggle in a good book or magazine. Promptly, lock the door and pretend like you have no idea how that happened when everyone starts knocking. Enjoy a moment to yourself and relax, you deserve it!