Archive for June, 2010

Amy’s Notebook 06.30.10

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

This backyard pantry is so inspiring for housing the summer clutter (@ ohdeedoh)

This mini water table idea is simply genius! (@ Rookie Moms)

I will have to remember these tips for tomato planting success (@ goodLife{eats})

These amped-up red velvet cupcakes look amazing (@ shelterrific)

This Southern Mint Iced Tea Gelato looks like a refreshing summer treat (@Foodwhirl)

These zipper rosettes are so cute (@ Ucreate)

These strawberry lemonade smoothies look like a fun summer treat (@ Polka Dot Cottage)

These ideas for a DIY wedding bouquet were so smart & thrifty (@ Craftzine)

I bet this go-to birthday cake is delicious (@ Posie Gets Cozy)

My kids would love these corn syrup paints (@ eighteen25)

I want to make these red, white, & blue cupcakes (@ Tidy Mom)

A Week of Summer Fun On $20 or Less

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

I have to admit that our family doesn’t go on a lot of vacations, but we do love to make a wise investment into a great summer staycation each year that the kids will remember (hopefully) for years to come. A summer staycation does not have to cost a lot of money.  In fact, it is fun to see how far we can make our money stretch and still provide beautiful summer memories for our children.

Really, the possibilities for free and cheap summer fun are endless. There are free story hours at libraries and bookstores, crafts and activity days at local parks, church programs and sport camps, VBS, inexpensive movie programs at the theaters, reading programs, ice cream treats, and so much more. Each year it seems we are trying to top the summer bucket list from last year.

Today I wanted to showcase some of our favorite things to do and share with you ideas for making those summer memories fit snugly in your family budget.

Happy Hour Out (Cost $.50-$2 per child)– Our favorite thing to do this year has been taking advantage of those Happy Hour drink specials that so many restaurants are now offering. Sonic, for example, offers a Happy Hour between 2-5 PM where your family can enjoy half price drinks. Steak & Shake is another restaurant in our town that offers a deliciously cool and refreshing milkshake for half price between 2-4 PM.  Don’t be ashamed to inquire at your local restaurants if they offer any type of summer drink special that your family can take advantage of and allow your kids to enjoy a fun summer treat that your budget can live with. At Sonic, two small slushes for my children and one large Diet Cherry Limeade for me is a total mere cost of $2.18. Fabulous!

Happy Hour Time At Home (Cost $1  in supplies or less)- If you don’t feel like venturing out and want to enjoy a little slushie fun or milkshake fun at home, it is easy to do with your blender and a few items that might be lurking in your pantry already! My kids love to indulge in our homemade slushies and homemade frosty shakes that your whole family will flip for!  The cost for creating these is minimal, but make sure you make enough for everyone in the family. This is a happy hour that you definitely do not want to miss!

Have a Park Day (Cost- FREE) – Going to the local park to spend the afternoon is nothing new, but it could be something new if you decide to explore another local park. Pack a picnic lunch, snacks, drinks, and your sunblock and enjoy a day of completely free fun. Go on a park adventure and visit a park that you have never visited before or venture outside of your own town into a neighboring town to explore a new-to-you town treasure. We love to load up the scooters, a ball, and a Frisbee to create even more opportunities for fun in the sun. This year we have made it a family priority to explore new parks that we haven’t tried before.

Have a Roast-Your-Own Dinner Night (Cost $5-7 in Food Supplies)–  One thing that we look forward to all summer long is the opportunity to roast some foods on our little campfire. Stock up on hot dogs and supplies to make s’mores and you can have a fun little night together that doesn’t cost a lot. I also love to keep the fire going after the kids hit the sack and make it into a fun little date night for me and my hubby.

Visit a Museum (Cost- FREE)- Free days abound at the local museums although I will admit that you do sometimes have to brave those crowds to take advantage of them. We always try to check the websites for local museums and find out when their free days are offered. If free days are not offered, call your local library and see if they offer museum passes that you can check out. Many local libraries offer passes that can get you and your family in for free!  Make it a family trip and take vacation days on those days so you can take advantage of those free admissions. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch that you can enjoy on the museum grounds or in transit to your destination.

If there is a special museum you have always wanted to visit, but they do not offer a free day, be sure to take part in the National Free Museum Day sponsored by the Smithsonian. Tickets can be printed starting July 1st!  This just might be the perfect time to take a road trip to experience a free museum that will cost only the cost in gas.

Take a Visit to a Local Farm (Cost $0-$5 per child)- This year we got the opportunity to visit an alpaca farm that was just thirty minutes from our home. The kids had the best time learning about the animals and getting the opportunity to feed, touch, and even take a few of them for a walk. If you want to  find an alpaca farm near you, visit I Love Alpacas to find a new place to visit in your town!

For other farm animals, see if there are any local farms in your area that you could visit and give your children the chance to have an experience like this. It is one that will long remember and gives them an opportunity to learn about where their food comes from!

Go Berry Picking (Cost $5 or more, depending on amount purchased)- One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to go berry picking. We usually buy around $5 in berries and then come home and create something in our kitchen together. With a variety of fruits for picking, the possibilities are endless for places and things to pick during the summer. Visit Pick Your Own to find places to visit and to take advantage of the foods that are in season.

Last year we went blueberry picking and then came home and created new things in the kitchen that the kids had never tried before. We dined on homemade waffles with blueberry syrup and even created a fancy blueberry syrup for our iced tea for a fun summer drink. We paid $5 in berries and we were able to make a whole day and evening of fun from just that $5 spent.

Sprinkler Fun (Cost- FREE)- Running through the sprinklers is a fun and free relief from the brutal summer heat. A good old-fashioned sprinkler or inexpensive sprinkler toy can keep kids entertained for days on end. More recently we have discovered that our town offers a lot of fun at the parks with the addition of splash pads and fun new sprinkler parks. The cost to visit these is free and can be a great way to keep cool in the summer. If your backyard sprinkler is starting to lose its luster, Google your town and the keywords “splash pad” or “sprinkler park” to see if you can find a fun new place to keep cool!

What are your favorite budget-friendly summer activities in your town? I would love to hear your ideas for inexpensive summer fun!

An Apron Full of Giveaways: VTech V.Reader ($59.99)

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Dot’s Dinerama, $29.00

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.

Today we are giving away a VTech V.Reader that your kids will absolutely love! It is like a kid’s version of the Kindle and will help breathe some life into that summertime reading routine!  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!

Oatmeal Cookie Waffles

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Life has been feeling a little crazy these days. Am I the only mom who is feeling like she is treading water this summer and not getting anything really completed?  I find myself in a state of collapse at the end of the day despite my best intentions to remain unscheduled and laid back this summer. It seems that I have blinked my eyes and we are somehow almost halfway through our beautiful summer together.

No matter how busy we get, waffles are still my favorite Sunday brunch food and I am always looking for new ways to spice up our favorite weekly treat. I love a waffle that sticks to your ribs and settles there. I also adore a waffle that doesn’t get soggy under the weight of great toppings and syrup. This waffle is just that. It is densely delicious and will keep your children satisfied for an entire day of activities.

I have tried this recipe two ways- grinding the oats in my food processor and then making the batter with the oat flour and using quick oats that have not been ground and just allowing them to soak for a few minutes in the milk. Of these two scenarios, I greatly preferred the oats ground and mixed into the batter instead of the soaked oats. Soaking the oats seemed to add a gummy texture and a little too much chewiness for my taste. This is just my own preference though, feel free to experiment with this recipe yourself!

With the addition of molasses, cinnamon, and vanilla you might just close your eyes and think you are enjoying a delicious oatmeal cookie instead of a breakfast treat.

Nothing takes away that hectic, crazy, overbooked summer feeling like a little time out with a yummy treat. Wishing you each those few moments of peace over a batch of these waffles.

Oatmeal Cookie Waffles

4 cups quick oats (grind the oats in your food processor or blender until it is a fine powder)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups milk (you can use prepared powdered milk)
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together until there are no lumps. Pour batter into well-greased waffle iron and allow each waffle to cook four minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: If you make the batter ahead of time, be sure to add milk to thin it out. My batter became too thick to even put in my waffle iron so add a little milk until you reach the desired consistency.

Freebie Friday: June 25, 2010

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Happy Freebie Friday!! We are so blessed to have Freebies 4 Mom share their list of the best freebies of the week with our readers each and every Friday. This week Heather is spoiling her readers with a $100 Borders Gift Card Giveaway. Be sure to head over to her site and enter to win!

This week on MomAdvice we are sharing our Mount Everest of Clutter with our readers and share some ideas for tackling your own mountains. We also are offering another giveaway round-up so be sure to visit that link list for over a hundred great giveaways.

Health & Beauty

Biore cleanser or towelettes
Nivea Happy Sensation lotion
Schiff Move Free Advanced
Salonpas Patch
Pampers Potty Training Kit
Underjams for Kids

IKEA Kids Eat Free June 23 – July 5
DiGiorno Deep Dish Pizza (on Facebook)
Starbucks Via Readybrew (Costco)
Country Bob’s Sauce
Old Wisconsin Snack Sticks

Disney Personalized Character Calls
iTunes People Country Music Sampler
Walmart Free MP3 Downloads
Blue Star Museums free admission (active duty military)

Cascade Action Pacs (Sam’s Club members)
Kleenex House Party
Playstation House Party
Splenda Summer House Party
Verizon FiOS Viewing Party
Healthy Baby Home Party
Febreze Fresh Summer Entertaining 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:

Apple Youth Workshops
Michaels June Events for Kids
IKEA Kids Eat Free June 23 – July 5
26– Lakeshore Learning Craft make summer fruit baskets 11-3pm
26 – Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic make a monster truck 10-11am

3 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a periscope 9-12pm
3&4 – Museums on Us (Bank of America)
4&5 – Cedar Fair Amusement Parks free admission for active or retired military
6 – LEGO Stores make a watermelon 5pm

Amy’s Notebook 06.23.10

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

These little gift boxes would make fantastic birthday or holiday gifts (@ angry chicken)

This idea for making a sun tea concentrate is so smart (@ gimmie some oven)

These hooded beach towel backpack would be awesome for those beach trips (@ The Train to Crazy)

This grilled marinara chicken looks like a simple & fuss-free meal (@ $5 Dinners)

I am going to have to try this recipe for light and fluffy pancakes (@ Serious Eats)

I want to try this recipe for sugar cookie bars (@ Dine & Dish)

This lavender lemon cake would be a delicious summer treat (@ Centsational Girl)

Another take on s’mores I absolutely love- a s’mores cookie recipe (@ Coconut & Lime)

I need to get the hang of crocheting so I could make this adorable little squares scarf (@ do you mind if i knit)

This gluten-free creamy pasta with shrimp & vegetables looks like a yummy summer dinner (@ domestifluff)

These homemade strawberry shortcakes would be a delicious summer treat (@ Posie Gets Cozy)

These no-stitch basket liners are so smart! (@ Home & Harmony)

I want to make a dozen of these shabby chic ruffled necklaces (@ Poppy Chic Designs)

My kids would flip over this handmade play tent (@ 2 little hooligans)

This chicken and olives skillet dish looks like a weeknight winner (@ The Pioneer Woman)

This inexpensive wall art would be a fun and easy craft (@ a penny saved)

This blueberry banana bread is a blending of my two favorite things (@ Baking Bites)

This Oreo ice box cake would be a great summer treat (@ Scribbit)

I am loving these ideas for creating a toddler-friendly house (@ Sew Liberated)

I love this idea for organizing my ribbon (@ Just a Girl)

This potato painting project would be a fun and frugal activity to do with the kids (@ Skip to My Lou)

I love this DIY booster seat project (@ Smashed Peas and Carrots)

I am also in l-o-v-e with this inspiration wall idea (@ Smile and Wave)

This Greek yogurt ice cream would be a yummy summer treat  (@ shelterrific)

This blackberry crisp would be the perfect accompaniment to homemade ice cream (@ The Mother Huddle)

Transforming Your Mount Everest… One Hour At a Time

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

We have so been enjoying our “new-to-us home” and all of the renovations that we did to make our small spaces more livable. On this side of the basement, it has been all rainbows and sunshine. I have been spending lots of time in my favorite chairs, working hard in my little home office, and sipping coffee while snuggling under quilts in the evening with a big stack of books.

On the other side of the rainbows and sunshine was a space that I would like to call the Mount Everest of Clutter. It was where everything that did not fit into our “new to us home” went to live.  It was that room that would make my heart beat really fast if anyone wanted to see what was on the other side of the office. It was the room that I prayed that nothing would ever malfunction in because I would have been so embarrassed for anyone to see it.It was that room that made my laundry routines difficult, that made me spend money on repeat items we already had… it was that room that made me feel ashamed.

Perhaps you have a room like this? Your Mount Everest could be a craft room gone awry, a junk drawer that seems to multiply, it could be that pile of papers that you swear you will deal with next week, it could be the closet that harbors clothes of years past that will never be worn. If you don’t have a single spot in your home like this, please write a blog or book and I will buy it and read it. For me, I have many places in my life that need a little remodeling…this is just the big one for me.

I decided that I would set a timer and I would try to organize this space for one hour with no interruptions. I would avoid the rainbows and sunshine sides of my home and I would brave the rugged terrain of hideous clutter to show myself what could be done in one hour.  I would spend zero dollars.  I would commit to only what could be accomplished in an hour. I would be brave.

One hour later with zero dollars spent, my space has shaped up quite a bit. It is organized enough that I now can see my floors and I can find items that I need much easier than I could before. With only that hour, I have made my Everest into a small hill. There is still work to do, but it is manageable work that doesn’t seem half as daunting.

What happens when you tackle a Mount Everest? Well, sometimes a ripple effect seems to happen. When you organize a space, you find an unused item that could help organize another hill of clutter in your home.

This little bookcase happened to be in that pile of clutter in our basement. After a good dusting, it found a new home in my son’s room. He had oodles of books that were taking over his desk and drawers. This bookcase matched perfectly with his room and is a useful storage tool for all of his reading materials.

This little nightstand in his room was no longer needed and was moved into a tiny corner in my bathroom for bathroom storage and to make finding the important things that might be needed by our guests (*ahem*)  easily accessible.

In that hour, I feel a little bit of those rainbows and sunshine pulling through in cringe-worthy spaces from before. It is just a start, but it does feel like a good one!

Want to tackle a Mount Everest of Clutter in your home? Here are a few easy tips for tackling your project today:

Set Your Timer- Give yourself a set amount of time to tackle whatever project has been bothering you the most. Remember that you can always do another round later, but see what you can accomplish if you devote just one hour to that project.

Try To Reduce Your Items Not Spend More- It can be tempting to buy tons of shiny new containers and organizing tools to tackle your clutter project. See what frugal organizing solutions you already have and try to use those instead of heading to the big superstore for the latest and greatest in organizers. You might be surprised how little you actually need.

Schedule a Regular Clutter Date- Make one day a week your day for tackling one thing you have been meaning to do, but have never gotten around to it. I try to aim for Wednesday because I usually have very little going on during the midweek, but you can make it whatever day works with your own schedule. Devote that one hour each week to a task that should be done, but just never seems to get checked off the list.

Reward Yourself- After I was done with this project, I sat in the beautiful sunshine, in my favorite chair, with my favorite coffee drink, and read a mindless summer novel. It was the perfect reward for the hour I devoted towards tackling this project. Make sure that you reward your efforts whether it be with a trip to the library, renting a movie just for you, an at-home pedicure or bubble bath, or a favorite drink. After all of that work, you will have earned every minute of that reward.

What corner of your home do you want to transform? Do you have any tips for a problem space that you have resolved? Please share!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 06.22.10

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Emblem says, “Runs With Scissors.” Pretty Little Pearl, $36

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 is the last day for the$50 gift cards to Family Dollar. This will be the perfect opportunity to stock up on all of those summer essentials. I know it is one of my favorite stores to visit for all of our family’s needs and I am sure it is yours too! 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!

Recipe Test

Monday, June 21st, 2010
How to Make Slushies With Kool-Aid

How to Make a Slushie With KOOL-AID

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

An easy slushie that you can whip up anytime for a fun treat! Stock up on a variety of KOOL-AID flavors for this easy 5-minute treat.


  • 2 cups ice water
  • 1 packet KOOL-AID drink mix (use your favorite flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups or 1 full tray of ice cubes


  1. Put all of the ingredients into your blender.
  2. Process until well blended.

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    Bad News!

    Monday, June 21st, 2010

    I am so sorry, but our power has been down since Friday and I am unable to do any work this week. We had a rough storm with hurricane winds on Friday evening that knocked our power out. We are very blessed though and our house is fine and no trees fell on our property. I hope to be back soon and thank you for your patience!

    Update- Our power came back on late last night. We are so thankful! It will take a bit to get back in the swing of things, but we are very happy for those little luxuries in life! Thank you for your patience!