Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chopped!

So after having KZ I started to feel a little restless with my hair. When I put my diaper bag on my shoulder my hair would get caught under the strap. Everyday I would just throw it up and later get a headache from how heavy it was. So I decided to chop it. I chopped my long hair off almost 6 years ago when I first got married and hated it. This time has been completely different.

Having shorter hair feels natural and so much better. It takes half the time to fix (even if it still takes 20 minutes, my hair is thick, okay!) and it gets fixed everyday. I don't have the stress headaches from my hair.

The only disadvantages are it's not quite as versatile but I'm finding new hairstyles to enjoy.

Here is the picture I brought into the stylist. 


Have you done anything courageous lately?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Red velvet gooey butter cake bars

Last year, I discovered ooey gooey butter cake bars. Um, yes. I knew immediately I wanted to experiment with these babies, and I finally got the chance when I needed to bring a dessert to an activity a few weeks later. After I made them, I realized these red velvet ooey gooey butter cake bars are perfect for Valentine's day!

That's love.


Red Velvet Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars
(Wayward Method)

Crust layer:
1 red velvet cake mix
1 stick of butter, melted
1 egg


Filling layer:
8 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar (~3 3/4 c) (or eyeball half a 2 lb bag....)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. Mix the melted butter, cake mix and egg to form a dough. Press
into prepared baking dish.

Beat the cream cheese. Add eggs, vanilla and powdered sugar. Pour over cake layer in pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until set. The top layer will look crispy crackly, a bit like a brownie's (though it's thicker in practice).

Allow to cool before cutting. (If you don't, the ooey gooey part really will come true, with the filling flowing into the pan. Still tasty ;)


Straight from the oven

The verdict? I actually liked my original, thicker ooey gooey cake bars a little better, but these were still a great treat! (You know it's good when someone asks you for the recipe!)

You can use cookie cutters or a knife and a steady hand to cut them into cute shapes.


Enjoy!

What are your Valentine's baking plans?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Do You Save Money?

We've talked a lot about how to save money on groceries but I want to hear some feed back from our readers!

Here are some of the sources I look to for saving money:

Blogs:
Totally Target- I think I may be slightly addicted to Target
My Litter- she has general information about saving around the web. Sometimes it's a bit too much info though. I really like her coupon database
Southern Savers- this has a lot of deals on it but not as much extra stuff as MyLitter
Baby Cheapskate- I love that they frequently post the current deals for diapers (even cloth!), wipes, kids clothes, etc

Websites:
The Grocery Game: I subscribe to two stores (Kroger and Harris Teeter) so it is $15 every 6 weeks. I love that the price has never gone up and they have a super convenient format and it is easy to use.
Target.com- for Target store coupons

Apps:
Target Cartwheel- Can you tell I really like Target? Seriously though, we get their diapers and frequently I will have a coupon and a cartwheel. So even though their diapers begin being cheaper than name brand diapers, they get even cheaper with coupons! At Target you can you one Manufacturer's, one Target, and one Cartwheel coupon per item. That is three coupons on one item. I just love it! To use the Cartwheel app (or you can use it on the computer) you load deals on your cartwheel and at checkout the cashier scans one barcode, either on your phone or from a printout.
Ibotta: I've never used this one but I've heard good things about it - Have any of you used it?
Checkout 51: Again I've never used this one. I just read a post on Southern Savers about is. What do y'all think?

Stores:
Kroger: So I used to do 90% of my grocery shopping at Kroger but they changed their customer loyalty program and took away their doubling coupons all within 5 months. They said they were replacing them with lower prices. Not only have I found their prices have increased but also the deals obviously aren't as numerous. I have cut back my shopping at Kroger to about 30%
Aldi: I have to drive almost 20 minutes to Aldi but I make the trek once a month to get their great deals. They are building one less than 10 minutes away though :)
Harris Teeter: I love their double coupon policy (under a dollar doubles). Super doubles and triples are awesome as well!

We would love to hear from you! Please fill out our survey!


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Monday, January 20, 2014

Kitchen tip: chill dough fast

Yesterday, I was making cookies that required chilling after shaping. I really didn't want to wait two hours to bake them (why do recipes tell you to preheat the oven, only to not bake for hours?).

Luckily, I remembered a quick tip to chill dough. After shaping into balls, seal them in a plastic zipper baggie, and put the baggie in an ice bath. Be careful to keep the zip top above the water level!

Water is a faster medium for temperature exchange than air, so the dough chills faster this way. This trick also works for chilling drinks and more.

10-15 minutes should be enough for dough balls. 20 minutes was almost too long for mine--they barely spread at all!

What's your favorite kitchen tip?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Monthly Baby Photos: Idea round up

I'm sure you have seen the monthly growth pictures on Pinterest but I thought I would compile a list of some different ideas and show you mine!

Some ideas from the pins below:

  • Being held by mom with type on top
  • Stickers added to onesies
  • Stats written around the baby
  • Compared to a stuffed animal
  • Next to a chalkboard with stats
  • In the tub (so cute!)
This last one is tips for capturing those monthly photos. 




Here are my cuties!

 It just occurred to me I don't think I have introduced you to my new cutie! Let's call her KZ or Kizzie. Here is the shot I took of her recently. Um...yes you read that right she is only three months old. She is nice and round. I think she is going to be tall like her daddy.
Here is PB at 7 months. This was taken TWO years ago! Can you believe it!? Each month I used a different font. In December it was a Christmas font, October a Halloween one, etc. The backing was glittery fun foam.

How are you keeping (did you keep) track of growth?!

Monday, January 13, 2014

11 Ways to Stay Sane Grocery Shopping with Children

Kids and grocery stores often don't mix: temptations, temper tantrums, tears—and then there's the kids! ;)

I've been grocery shopping with small children nearly every week for almost eight years now, and while I try very hard to avoid grocery shopping with all four children (all under eight), I've found several other tips to make grocery shopping a little less crazy-making.



Feed them first
. Just like you're more likely to have a successful shopping trip on a full stomach, so are your kids.

Park near a cart return. Usually we maneuver for the closest position to the doors, but if you're next to a cart return, you can often get a cart so you don't have to drag/lug your kids/car seat/first tantrumer in. Then when you're done, you don't have to run across the parking lot to return your cart.

With tiny children, use a front carrier. The car seat takes up too much room in the cart for an effective shopping trip.

Know your grocery store's kid-friendly perks.
Some of my local grocery stores' perks:
  • Free small candy at check out (a roll of Smarties)
  • Child-sized carts
  • Carts with plastic toy cars on the front
  • Carts with built-in plastic child seats
  • Free cookies at bakery
No store has all of these, so it's important to know what to prepare your kids for before you go in ("No, they don't have Smarties here, guys.") And on that note . . .

Cut off tantrums before they begin. Set ground rules before you go in the store. "There will be no tantrums, or [natural consequence]." "We will be getting X, Y and Z, but we are not going to spend money on Q, P and R."

Bring bribes. Small candies, gum or a pack of fruit snacks can help stave off tantrums or the gimme-gimmes. Alternatively, buy bribes and make your children earn them through good behavior while at the store. (I do this with the free cookies and candy from the store.)

Give your kids choices. If you're shopping for food for them especially, you can let them choose. It keeps them from getting bored and (hopefully) increases the chances they'll eat what you buy. Even if it's not something they normally like--let them help pick out your tomatoes, and they just might eat them.

Give your kids responsibilities. My kids love to help hold the list and the pen, or drive the cart; Brooke gives her little girl the coupons to help out. When they're invested, they're not throwing a fit.

Teach them to grocery shop. As your kids get older, they need to learn grocery shopping skills. Teach them how to tell if a piece of fruit is ripe or a vegetable is good (and if you don't know, now's a good time to learn!). Teach them how to save money on groceries. Teach them to use a list.

Take a deep breath, count to four, say a prayer. A little patience goes a long way. A lot goes even further.

Bring along a snappy comeback to those old biddies who tell you, "I never would have let MY children behave that way." I've never had that happen to me, but I do have friends who have. (One brave friend followed the wicked witch into the store to tell her how unhelpful, rude and ugly her behavior was.) How about, "Yes, well, at least they don't reprimand strangers who are doing their best" or "Oh, to be ninety and have forgotten these struggles"?

What are your best grocery shopping with kids tips?

Original photo: GoonSquadSarah

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Simple Ways to Be More Organized

At the start of each new year I always resolve to have a cleaner house and be more organized. In January I love to clean out my closets and get started fresh on the new year. Here are some tips I have found for making my home FEEL more organized because I have found just feeling more organized can cut down on stress. They are simple tips that can help you out!


  1. Have a command center. Jordan has posted about her command center and here is a picture of mine
  2. Solve "clutter collector" problems. I have a counter in my kitchen that collects so much junk! Find a new place to put the mail, coats, stuff to go upstairs, etc. Find out what is hanging around there and find an official home for it. Even if it is still just hanging around but out of sight it will seem more organized. Sometimes just adding a basket as well can make a space seem more organized.
  3. Put like things together. This goes along with the previous tip. Group shoes, coupons, reusable shopping bags, toys, diapering supplies all in one place and preferably out of sight in a basket. When things have places they are less likely to be left in the middle of the floor.
  4. Clean out your corners. I have left my maternity clothes in the corner of my room in big bins for far too long. They are off to be put away!
  5. Clear out closets. In talking to my mom I was inspired to clean out my closet this past week. She had a rule of thumb "I have had this long enough. It is time for it to bless someone else's life now!" I got rid of some shirts I have had for like 10 years- don't judge!
  6. Clean out your fridge. Now I'm not just talking about the old food in there. I'm talking about the crustiness left on the glass shelves or in the drawers. Wipe down the outside. Take a magic eraser to the door handles. Trust me it feels better. While you're at it hit the pantry as well.
  7. Get rid of wasted spaces. Frequently builders put one shelf in a closet or put them way too far apart. Adjust your shelves. Add extra shelves in there. Use up all that valuable space that is out of sight! I'm dying to do this in my pantry!
  8. Have a daily checklist. On Monday I do my bathrooms and it feels so good to have them done. Each day I do a chore. PB is about the age where she will be getting a daily list of chores as well.
  9. Time yourself. I timed myself when folding clothes and emptying the dishwasher. I know if I have an extra 10 minutes I can get a simple chore done. Those are one of those chores I have named "bottle-neck chores." Other things get messier when those aren't done right away.
  10. Go through your house and decide what stresses you out and fix it. Is there a table that has had a stack of stuff needing to find a home post Christmas? Clear it off. Are all of your closets in need of some TLC? Take an hour and clear them out.
  11. Organize in smaller bins. I noticed my baby clothes were impossible to look through. When PB grew out of clothes I just threw them in a bin and stored them away. This time around I am storing them in smaller bins broken down by size and type of clothes so that it will be much easier to look through. This can be true of many items. Smaller bins can mean a big difference. For example toys, books, shoe bins for individual family members, etc.
  12. Get more cleaning supplies. I have cleaning supplies in each bathroom. I also added more trashcans in our house. This especially helped after I had the baby. 
Want more tips?! 
Here are the posts we've done about organizing including a list of 64 tips Jordan made last year! 
Happy organizing!

Monday, January 6, 2014

You must have been a beautiful baby shawl . . .

My three daughters have all been blessed (christened) in the summertime, so instead of blankets, I've wrapped them in white lace shawls that I've knit for them. Last year, when I announced I was having my youngest, I asked for your help in picking out her shawl pattern.

And the winner was . . .



 Baby foot!



The Echo Flower Shawl!
Ravelry links: pattern | my project

This one came together on a tight deadline, and I was worried for a few days that I wouldn't finish on time.

Because we moved at the beginning of June, my white yarn went missing (at least I think that's why?), and I had to order new yarn, but of course I couldn't find the same yarn anywhere . . . Finally, I got the yarn ordered one month before the baby blessing. I finished and blocked the shawl the day before the blessing!

Something new I tried with this pattern: binding off with two strands of yarn held together. I really liked the result!

Something I don't know if I'll try again: I was so tired (and sore) from knitting those nupps (the little bobbles of yarn forming a zigzag in the bottom picture), I knew my next lace shawl would not feature that design element.

What crafting project/element will you not try again this year?
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