Archive for May, 2010

Freebie Friday: May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Happy Freebie Friday!! We are thankful to have Freebies 4 Mom share their list of the best freebies of the week with our readers each and every Friday. Please be sure to visit Freebies 4 Mom for all of the latest freebies, coupons, sweeps, and ideas for how to stretch your dollar.

On MomAdvice we are sharing our secret to the perfect homemade spaghetti and meatballs, a fantastic spin on photo journals & gift ideas for Father’s Day, another notebook of inspiration, and a huge round-up of giveaways for your viewing pleasure!

Don’t forget to become a fan of MomAdvice! We would love to have you and share new ways to save and get organized through our Facebook page. I hope you will join me over there!

I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I will be back on Tuesday so I can enjoy a little rest and relaxation with my family! Much love to each of you!

Health & Beauty

Dove Daily Treatment Conditioner
Nexcare Bandages
Neti Pot (Facebook)
Nature Made Chewable Vitamin D


Yogi Tea
Kraft Sandwich Shop Mayo
Crystal Light Pure Fitness drink mix (Vocalpoint)
PopChips at Jamba Juice (Facebook)


Radio Flyer’s Printable Photo License
Walmart Free MP3 Downloads


Febreze Fresh Summer Entertaining House Party
Bull’s-Eye Bold BBQ House Party
Oscar Mayer Thrill of the Grill House Party
Breyers Summer to Remember House Party
Ball Fresh Taste of Summer House Party
McDonalds McNuggets and Shrek House Party

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

PGA Free Golf Lesson Month
50 Days of Free Disney Music
29 – Lakeshore Learning Craft makeTic-Tac-Toe game  11-3pm
29 – Michaels American Girl Craft Flower Card 10-1pm
29 – Michaels Free Summer Tote 10-1pm

1-2 – Museums on Us (Bank of America)
1 – LEGO Stores make a Lego Grill 5pm
3 – The Home Depot Martha Stewart Living Eco-Friendly Gardening workshop 7-8:30pm
5 – Friendly’s Free Ice Cream Day 12-5
5 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a soccer game 9-12pm
12 – Borders Toy Story 3 Party 11am

Amy’s Notebook 05.26.10

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I love this Express necklace knock-off (@ Lemon Tree Creations)

These faux vinyl numbers would be a fun way to dress up a front door (@ Easie Peasie)

These peanut butter oatmeal cookies would make a fun afternoon snack (@ Baking Bites)

Can someone please sew me this apron with built-in hot pads? (@ The Mother Huddle)

I am going to be making a few of these beautiful fabric rings (@ Make It Do)

This petaled pillow is to die for (@ V and Co.)

This DIY swaddle blanket would make a fantastic baby shower gift (@ Prudent Baby)

This crocheted, knotted, and trimmed earrings are such a fun burst of color (@ Happy Together)

I really want to make this birthday wreath for our birthday parties (@ How Does She?)

I want to try this edamame guacamole (@ Two Peas and Their Pod)

These science projects might provide great summer entertainment (@ one charming party)

These shrimp tacos would be a quick and delicious dinner (@ Eat at Home)

This formula can turned into a toilet paper holder is perfect for those road trips with kids (@ Parent Hacks)

These DIY cupcake domes would make a beautiful gift (@ giver’s log)

This deviled shrimp pasta salad looks like a yummy lunch (@ Coconut & Lime)

These ruffled curtains would be adorable in a nursery or little girl’s room (@ a boy, a girl, & a pug)

This master bedroom lamp makeover is so thrifty and chic (@ A Soft Place to Land)

Using cigar boxes for craft organization is brilliant! (@ Just Something I Made)

These children’s books made into puzzle blocks are a great way to recycle old books (@ Mother Lode)

Oatmeal breakfast bars would be a fun treat for the kids (@ Cooking During Stolen Moments)

Gift Giving: Putting Your Own Spin on Photo Journals

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I could not wait to show you guys what I made for my moms for Mother’s Day this year.  Unfortunately, to keep it a secret, I had to wait until the holiday was over to show them to you. That being said, these photo books would be perfect for just about any occasion, including the fast approaching Father’s Day holiday!

I know that many people are fans of the photo albums that you can create online, but I had never done one before. I adore taking pictures of my family, but I am not very good about printing them out and sharing them the way I should. I thought it might be neat to share with our moms this year a brag book that that they could enjoy for years to come. I admit that I prefer to make handmade gifts for these occasions (I doubt either mom will ever forget our infamous ping pong wreaths last year), but I knew that there could be a way that I could put a unique spin on these photo albums and add my own homemade touch.

I first weeded through all of the pictures and tried to get a good representation of both of the children as well as pictures of them with the other family members. After selecting my pictures and template (through the photo site I used), I then went to Quote Garden and tried to find a quote for each page of the photo album that would fit the pictures that I had selected. All in all, the process took four hours because of my own admitted perfectionism. I chose a soft-back cover (to save money) and I also visited Coupon Cabin to find a coupon code that I could use towards my purchase. These each cost roughly $16…and it was worth every penny.

These were a few of my favorite photos and quotes that were chosen:

“Everything is beautiful at the ballet” A Chorus Line

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” Katherine Hepburn

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of  a child. There are seven million.” Walt Streightiff

“I have the same goal I’ve had since I was a girl. I want to rule the world.” Madonna

“Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.” Vietnamese Proverb

“There’s no place like home.” Wizard of Oz

“The Force is strong with this one.” Darth Vadar

“A boy’s story is the best that is ever told.” Charles Dickens

“Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.” Author Unknown

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Confucius

“And thank you for a house full of people I love. Amen.” Terri Guillemets

I can honestly say that my copy of this book has already become lovingly worn as I have placed it on my coffee table and glance through it almost daily. Each time, I walk a way a little misty-eyed, a little more thankful, and really proud of my amazing kids.

As the gifts were given, there were a few tears and a whole lot of pride radiating from our proud grandma and nana. It is the perfect gift for purse-toting and brag sessions. From what I hear, they have already made the rounds in their workplaces and churches. To me, that is when you know that a gift is a total success..when it just must be shared!

Just a few quick tips:

– Don’t forget to check for coupon codes through whatever photo book publishing site you use. There are usually multiple coupons available. Be sure to compare which coupon will offer you the most bang for your buck. My 20% off coupon, for example, was less than the shipping cost so make sure you crunch those numbers before ordering. Just Google, “Photo company’s coupon code”  and you should get plenty of codes to use towards your purchase.

– I found it easiest to sort my pictures by date first so I could group pictures together on pages easier. Sorting by date also helps to allow the flow into the different seasons of the year and pictures to flow a little more naturally.

– Choose a template with a neutral palette, that will compliment and not detract away from the beauty of your photos.

– Edit your photos before putting them into your book. I use Picnik for my photo editing needs and I absolutely love it. You don’t need to get carried away with the editing (unless you just love to), but it can be a great tool for saturating the color, adjusting color temperature, switching to black-and-white, or adjusting the exposure or contrast in a photo.

Looking for some added Father’s Day inspiration? These crafty bottles brimming over with treats were a hit with my hubby last year.  Our dads also really loved our movie gifts and handmade photo compact disc jackets filled with great music in years past.


Ironically, I had some great timing on this post because today is the last day to enter for a $50 Snapfish gift card for Father’s Day. Please head over there and get your entry in today! And yes, I actually had to pay for all of those photo books so I am extremely jealous you can get one for free!! Entries are due by 8PM eastern time tonight! Good luck, friends

What did you do for Mother’s Day gifts this year? What is up your sleeve for Father’s Day? Please share!

An Apron Full of Giveaways: Father’s Day $50 Snapfish Gift Card

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

pamwares, $20

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.

Today ends our giveaway with Snapfish so be sure to get those entries in by 8PM (EST).  We are giving away one $50 Snapfish gift card to be put towards a special Father’s Day gift. Please head over there and get your entry in today! Follow the links below to access the current contest- NO ENTRIES HERE, PLEASE!

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!

Comfort Food: Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs

Monday, May 24th, 2010

When my husband had a trip out of town, I knew the perfect meal that I could welcome him home with. You see, there are few things that my husband loves mores than my homemade spaghetti and meatballs. After years of trial and error in the kitchen, trying to make the perfect sauce, establishing what constituted the perfect meatballs, and then pulling it all together… I have created my own little perfect version of this Italian comfort food for our family. The meatballs are a delicious blend of Italian turkey sausage with the ground beef, filled with cheese, and a little mild tomato flavor from just a tiny bit of ketchup (a secret ingredient I discovered from the Food Network’s, Giada). Paired with a sauce bursting with fresh tomato flavors, it has been our favorite form of comfort food in our family. I have not met a kid or a person in my life who didn’t flip over this version, and I am excited to share it with you today!

Although you can simmer meatballs away in the sauce, I prefer to bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet to cut down the fat and to make a convenient double batch at one time. I then place the meatballs within the sauce, just until they are warm throughout, and then ladle the sauce over the pasta. Reserving half of the meatballs allows you to have another fun dinner like our Turkey Meatballs With Rotini Pasta or even meatball subs on homemade rolls, warmed under your broiler with a little mozzarella cheese.

I hope you can add this one to your menu plan one week, it is sure to be a hit!

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs

For Sauce (sauce recipe adapted from AllRecipes Dinner Tonight Cookbook):

3/4 cup chopped onion (we omitted because we don’t like onions)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Meatballs (this recipe will make enough for a double batch, half to eat and half to freeze):

1/2  cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 cups grated Romano (or Parmesan)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Italian turkey sausages (remove the casings)
1 pound ground beef

To make sauce: Saute onion and garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil until onion is translucent. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer one hour and thirty minutes. Stir in tomato paste, basil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and meatballs and simmer thirty more minutes. Gently break apart the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon.  Five to ten minutes before serving, add in your meatballs and then serve over a big bowl of your favorite pasta.

To make meatballs: In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the turkey & ground beef, then gently stir to combine. Make your meatballs the standard size and put them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. When done cooking, drop in the baked meatballs for a few minutes. This will be just as delicious with a lot less mess and fewer calories.


A Few Words About Homemade Breadcrumbs:

Although you can buy breadcrumbs at the store, making homemade breadcrumbs for your dishes is easy and inexpensive. We had a loaf of French Bread that wasn’t being eaten and I just cut the bread into chunks and gave it a whirl through the food processor.  If your bread is not stale and needs a little more drying out, simply bake in a 300 degree F. oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes; about halfway through, turn the bread over so it dries evenly. Remove from oven and let cool. Then put the bread in your food processor and give it a whirl until you have your delicious bread crumbs.

In a freezer-safe storage container, I slip these into the freezer until I need them for my recipes. Whenever your recipe calls for breadcrumbs, just take a fork and gently scrape the breadcrumbs to loosen them, measure, and add to any of your recipes. It is a great freezer staple that can be added to anytime you have a little leftover bread (or even those ends of a bread loaf) on hand in the kitchen.

Looking for more ideas on what to do with stale bread? Check out this post on how Day Old Bread Gets a Makeover… or Four and our Make Your Own Mixes article to save on those pantry staples!

Freebie Friday: May 21, 2010

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Happy Freebie Friday!! We are thankful to have Freebies 4 Mom share their list of the best freebies of the week with our readers each and every Friday. Please be sure to visit Freebies 4 Mom for all of the latest freebies, coupons, sweeps, and ideas for how to stretch your dollar. This week Heather is tempting her readers with 100 squares of Ghirardelli Chocolate (5 winners).

On MomAdvice we are sharing a yummy honey chicken kabobs recipe, offering some support and advice on how to reach your fitness goals, a fun recipe for raisin bran muffins,a notebook of inspiration, and a huge round-up of giveaways. For our own personal giveaway this week, we are sharing a $50 Snapfish gift card for Father’s Day. Hurray!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
BareMinerals Foundation (Sephora inside JCPenney)
Crest 3D Whitestrips
Flexitol Foot Balm or Cream
Playtex Gentle Glide


Taco Bell Limeade Sparkler
Kraft First Taste (free product coupons for some members)
Quiznos Kids Eat Free

Kenmore Stamp Collector’s Catalog
Cosmopolitan digital magazine (FreeBiz Mag)
Walmart Free MP3 Downloads

Oprah DevOtee Online Research Panel
Febreze Fresh Summer Entertaining House Party
Bull’s-Eye Bold BBQ House Party
Oscar Mayer Thrill of the Grill House Party
Breyers Summer to Remember House Party
Ball Fresh Taste of Summer House Party
McDonalds McNuggets and Shrek House Party

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

PGA Free Golf Lesson Month
50 Days of Free Disney Music
22 – Lakeshore Learning Craft make Tear-Art Tambourine 11-3pm
22 –  Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic make a catapult 10-11am
22-  Walmart Joy of Ice Cream- Free Ice Cream Sundae 11-4
24 – Chick-fil-A Reserve Your Free Spicy Chicken Sandwich
29 – Michaels American Girl Craft Flower Card 10-1pm
29 – Michaels Free Summer Tote 10-1pm

1-2 – Museums on Us (Bank of America)
1 – LEGO Stores make a Lego Grill 5pm
3 – The Home Depot Martha Stewart Living Eco-Friendly Gardening workshop 7-8:30pm
5 – Friendly’s Free Ice Cream Day 12-5
5 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a soccer game 9-12pm
12 – Borders Toy Story 3 Party 11am

Deliciously Easy Raisin Bran Muffins

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Entertaining in the morning can be tough and requires a little bit of planning on my part. I love hosting our monthly book club meeting though and try to make a yummy treat to go along with the coffee and discussion for our group.  I was excited to try the Raisin Bran Muffins that were featured in our weekly notebook on the Brown-Eyed Baker. I thought this morning playgroup would be the perfect occasion to try out the recipe.

The batter can be kept in the fridge for up to three days which makes it a perfect recipe for morning entertaining. I decided to buy the Raisin Bran with the granola clusters, substituted the vegetable oil with canola oil, made my buttermilk by souring up some milk that I had in the fridge, and gave them a little sprinkle of raw sugar to make a delicious topping before baking. They were perfection and everyone really enjoyed them! I will definitely be making these again, but next time I will go for the just bran flakes since one of my kiddos was weirded out by the raisins baked in…strange children, I know!

While I was busy baking in the kitchen, Emily was busy baking in her playroom. She served what could only be called the perfect mixture of food by a child. “For you, mama! It is a donut, french fry, cookie, pizza bowl.” I guess we all  have our favorites!

With less time spent baking in the morning, I will have more time to savor another stack of great reads from the library. Thanks to Brown-Eyed Baker for sharing a fun and delicious treat from her kitchen!

Sunshine & Dandelions

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. ~A.A. Milne

Amy’s Notebook 05.19.10

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

This Great Gatsby party theme is brilliant (@ Mighty Girl)

These ballet slipper pink nightstands are beautiful (@ Home & Harmony)

This strawberry coconut “milk shake” looks like a yummy morning treat (@ gimmie some oven)

I need to declutter my digital life (@ Life Hacker)

I will have to remember this ironing board turned into a table hack next time we travel (@ Parent Hacks)

This DIY anthro humming bird tank is so cute (@ Uber-Chic for Cheap)

I like this fun idea for making pizza on the grill (@ Living Locurto)

I am feeling inspired to organize my spices (@ Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories)

These royal icing forget-me-not flowers are simply stunning (@ Prudent Baby)

This silhouette chalkboard would look so cute in my kitchen (@ Ruffles and Stuff)

These brownies look like a fun dessert (@ Scribbit)

I bet my hubby would adore this key lime pie (@ Two Peas and Their Pod)

My kids would love this DIY smoothie bar (@ Life as Mom)

This cake batter ice cream looks and sound sinfully delicious (@ Annie’s Eats)

I would really enjoy this brown rice pilaf (@ Cooking During Stolen Moments)

Here is another ruffled t-shirt that is too cute for words (@ Tea Rose Home)

This multi-grain banana bread looks like a yummy (and healthy) snack (@ goodLife {eats})

It Hasn’t Always Been Easy…My Fitness Confession

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I have to admit that I am doing a few things that I don’t feel entirely comfortable with today. I am sharing with you a very vulnerable place in my heart, I am exposing a time in my life that I wasn’t the most proud of, I am sharing one picture (of many) of a person that I don’t really recognize, and I am telling you that I am trying to be different…knowing that saying it out loud is the hardest part.

In my college years, after numerous indecisions about what I wanted to do with my life, I settled on a career path in Food & Nutrition. While learning about the formula for calories, flunking my cooking class twice, and taking courses on exercise and physiology, I became a blimped out version of my former self. I ate out almost every single day, stopped exercising, partied hard, and lived a sedentary life. My hair suddenly became greasy, my face was shiny all of the time, I had chronic stomach problems, exercise-induced asthma, chronic back pain, high cholesterol, and I need to nap because I was constantly tired. Freshman 15 would have been mild compared to the Freshman 35 that I put on. It was such a gradual process that I don’t think I even realized what was happening.  So gradual, in fact, that I found it strange when I overheard a guy friend say that I had a pretty face and would be cute if I could just lose some weight. I was that girl now.

I bring this up because I know that sometimes it can be hard to relate to someone if you don’t see the struggle, the work, and the decisions that are made daily to accomplish their current body, and the daily commitment that is made after you have reached your personal goals for fitness or weight loss.

In my thirties, I am in better shape than I ever was in my teen or college years. My skin is great, I no longer take any medications, I have no chronic health conditions, I am at a healthy weight for my body, and I am proud to show my kids that physical fitness is an essential part of my day.  When a ten minute workout would have winded me before, I can now run on my treadmill miles at a time. Each day that I put in my exercise time, I remind myself that I am running and exercising against a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, low bone density, stomach problems, and am running towards quality time with the people I love.

How is fitness and frugality related? Well, frankly, it is simple… the more fit you are, the less you pay in medication and doctor visits. Fitness doesn’t require a big investment at all, but it is an investment that will pay off for years and years down the road.

Believe in 30 Day Goals– I still believe firmly that you can accomplish anything with small thirty day goals. I started with a 30 day goal to complete a Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred workout. Now I have a thirty day goal to run a 5K in great time on the treadmill. Someday, it would be wonderful to be able to run a mini-marathon or be able to keep pace with my runner husband.  Think of a fitness goal that you would like to accomplish and work thirty days towards making that dream into a reality.

Eat Healthier During the Day– No matter how hard I was exercising, I was still eating whatever I wanted and not seeing the results that I was looking for.  As a mom it can be difficult to not give in and just eat whatever the kids are eating. My days were filled with macaroni, chicken nuggets, crackers, chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Unfortunately, that was not filling me up and I would feel hungry throughout the day.

Each week, I now chop up salad, fresh veggies, and fruit at the beginning of the week. I roast and dice chicken breasts as I chop the veggies so I have all of the perfect fixings for a satisfying salad bar at home.

Start with small switches- oatmeal or a protein-packed protein shake for breakfast, a handful of almonds instead of heavy carbs for snack, a colorful salad instead of a sandwich for lunch, and whole grains instead of the white stuff could all be small changes that make a big difference in how you feel.

Be frugal, but make wise fitness investments– Thanks to the wonderful consignment shops in our area, I was able to score most of my workout gear and paired it with inexpensive tank tops and sports bras from Walmart. I was proud of my frugal workout gear, but my back was hurting after my workouts.

I started to realize that I had not made one important investment… a new pair of tennis shoes. While new tennis shoes were a big investment for me, they are an investment that has really paid off and allowed me to workout longer and not feel achy after my workouts.

Don’t be afraid to make an investment if it will improve your fitness experience and help your endurance levels with working out. My tennis shoes are just one example of something that had held me back from feeling my best, and something that has made a huge difference in my motivation to keep moving.

Switch up your routines– If you are hitting a plateau in your fitness routine, then it might be time to switch things up a bit. For many years I have been working out at home. I found a lot of variation in my routine compliments of the library and the DVD’s that they offered.  Recently, I got a new writing gig that could pay for a monthly gym membership. My kids were finally at an age where I could do this and so I joined a gym. The results in these last two months have been phenomenal and the variation and equipment is much wider than what I had available to me at home.

Think about what you are spending your money on and see if it could be allocated to something healthier. Do you have a movie club membership or premium cable plan? What if you put that money towards a gym membership instead?  With my cable plan and my movie membership, I felt forced to sit in front of the boob tube. After canceling the movie membership, I have felt less dedicated to television time and more dedicated to the things that matter most to me.

Having a workout buddy has also pushed me out of my comfort zone for trying new classes and we help each other stay on schedule.  I was proud that for Cinco de Mayo, I went to a 2 ½ hour Zumba class and danced my little heart out instead of sitting on the sofa this year. These small changes are making a big difference in my confidence and how I feel.

Turn off Distracters– The hardest part of working out for me are all of the distracters that can pull me away from my goals. I make deals with myself where I am not allowed to login to Twitter, Facebook, or my email until my workout is complete.  What distracts you from reaching your goals? Some distracters (our children, for example) are more difficult to reduce, but many are silly things that could be pushed aside until your workout is done.

(my beautiful inspiration)

Get inspired– What inspires you? Is it a picture of your former self on your fridge, is it having an awesome workout buddy that you can check-in with, is it reading the victory stories of weight-loss from other bloggers? Is it being able to keep up with your crazy children?

Whatever it is, get inspired and try starting a new workout routine today.

Fitness Sites to Inspire:– Groove Shark is my new favorite site to create great workout mixes that help me stay motivated when I am on the treadmill. Put on workout anthems that can force you to go that extra mile and create mixes that help keep you pumped!– At LogYourRun you can keep track of your running and other exercise progress and sign up for one of our free training programs to help you improve your performance or train for your upcoming marathon. LogYourRun will help keep track of how many miles you have on your shoes and you can trace your routes on a map to figure out how many miles your favorite route is and share with your friends.– Looking for a community-driven site to help keep you motivated. With SparkPeople, you can create personalized diet and fitness plans, track your calories, track you your workouts, and connect with others like through the support teams available.

Mamavation– Looking for some added mamavation, then the Mamavation site might be a hot spot for you to visit. They have a great team of writers who share inspiring stories and up-to-date health/exercise information that can help you reach your goals.

How do you reach your fitness goals? What sites, people, or workout routines are motivating you right now?