Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday 2010

Are you kicking your Christmas shopping off today on the internet?  Looking for the great Cyber Monday deals?  Below you'll find links to websites with lists of today's best deals: 
Have fun shopping everyone and Happy Holidays!  =)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stop Throwing Away Groceries!

With money tight these days I do everything I can to stretch every dollar.  So, when I throw away spoiled groceries at the end of each week, I feel like I'm throwing away money.  I knew I had to do something about it right away.  So I began to work on a new grocery buying and using strategy.  

When I thought about it I realized I would buy ingredients needed for only one recipe and those ingredients would go bad before I made the recipe again.  So, I sat down and thought about recipes that share the same ingredients and decided to group all those recipes into one week of meals.  This way I will be able to use all my groceries without leaving anything to toss in the garbage at the end of the week.  This is what I cam up with so far:

Main Groceries:
  • 4 Large Split Fryer Chicken Breasts
  • 2 lbs Beef Rib Meat
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Sack of Potatoes
  • 1 Bunch of Celery
  • 1 Bunch of Carrots
  • Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Tortilla Shells

  1. Homemade Chicken Soup
  2. BBQ Chicken
  3. Chicken Salad 
  4. Chicken Quesadillas
  5. Cheesy Roll-Ups (tortilla shells and shredded cheese; roll up and cook in microwave for 20-30 seconds)
  6. Beef Stew
  7. BBQ Ribs
  8. BBQ Rib Wraps
  9. Carrot Stick Snack (left over carrots)

*Images from

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Place Card Holders

Here is an easy and fun way to display your place cards at your Thanksgiving dinner this year.  All you'll need is:
  • Green Floral Wire
  • Small Pumpkins (real or artificial)
  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  1. Take one end of the floral wire with your needle-nose pliers and make a small loop by twisting your wrist. 
  2. Hold the small loop with two fingers and use your other hand to slowly bend the wire into an open spiral.
  3. When you are done making your spiral, use your needle-nose pliers to make a 90 degree bend in the wire.  Leave about 2 inches of straight wire for a stem.
  4. Insert the stem of your spiral wire into the top of the pumpkin close to the pumpkin stem.
  5. You can purchase small place cards or make your own with card stock and scissors/decorative scissors.  Insert the place cards into the spiral to be displayed.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MRSA - My Family's Fight
  This year my baby girl, 10 months old at the time, developed a very mild diaper rash.  One week later, the diaper rash was gone but, there was a small red bump with a little white head on it in the crease between her thigh and diaper area.  I thought it was a pimple or possible another diaper rash.  So, I put diaper cream on it.  The next day it was bigger, red and the white head looked more green.  My daughter also developed a low-grade fever.  I knew whatever it was, it must have been infected.  We called the pediatrician right away.  When they saw her they right away said it was MRSA.  The doctor said when she had the diaper rash she probably had a very small crack in her skin from it.  This tiny opening gave MRSA a way in to cause an infection.  They drained the abscess (pimple like bump) and put her on oral antibiotics and she got better soon after.  However, she got another abscess in her diaper area two months later.  I was able to catch it early and they put her on antibiotics yet again. 

Unfortunately, it came back again two weeks later and worse than ever.  As soon as I noticed the symptoms I called the doctor right away and they called in a prescription to our pharmacy.  However, it was getting worse within a matter of hours so I called them back but they were closing.  So, they had me bring her into the doctor's office first thing the next morning.  By the time we got there my daughter (then 12 1/2 months old) had spiked a fever of 103 F and her abscess was so large that her bottom was very swollen, bright red, hard and extremely tender.  My little girl was miserable!  As soon as they saw here they said I needed to rush her over to the ER.  The doctor's office had called ahead so there was a team of people waiting for us when we got there.  

In the hospital with my baby girl.
In the hospital they assessed her, gave her something to reduce her fever and then admitted her.  My daughter needed I.V. antibiotics and surgery!  She was in so much pain and feeling so terrible that I wanted them to do whatever they needed to do to make her better.  The doctors told me that MRSA creates an abscess that has a large pocket of pus deep under the skin and off of this large pocket are several smaller pockets also infected with MRSA.  The surgery allows them to scrape out all the infection in the large pocket as well as the infection hiding in the smaller pockets.  If the smaller pockets are left, they will create new abscesses essentially making it recurring MRSA. 

After four nights and five days in the hospital my daughter was released.  However, before leaving I made sure I got all the information I could as to how to prevent this from happening again.  I spoke with nurses, pediatricians, pediatric surgeons, etc. and wrote everything down that they told me.  I never wanted my baby to go through that again!  Nor did I want my two older kids to catch it either.  As soon as I got home I put into action everything I learned at the hospital:
  • Always wash your hands with Dial Foam soap: before and after changing diapers, after going to the bathroom, before and after handling food, before eating, when you come home, etc.
  • Wash your tub with bleach - before and after each bath (while child has abscess) and 1-2 times a week after.
  • Wash all your clothes and linens with non-chlorine bleach.
  • Change your child's linens once every couple of days while infected and once a week afterward.
  • Never use a towel more than once. 
  • Do not share towels.
  • Use paper towels to dry hands instead of hand towels.
  • Everyone in the family should wash their bodies with Dial Bar Soap.  (Only wash infant/toddler's diaper area with Dial.  Moisturize skin with lotion to prevent drying/cracking).
I am not a medical professional and by all means, I am not trying to give medical advice.  But unfortunately MRSA is becoming more and more common, especially with children in diapers.  While I was in the hospital with my daughter, there was a new infant/toddler patient every day that week for a staph infection.  So, I wanted to share my story with other parents out there that might be going through the same thing.  

I hope you and your child(ren) never have to go through the experience of having MRSA.  However, if you think it's a possibility contact your doctor right away!  For more information on MRSA here are some very informative sites:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kids and Colds

It's the time of year when most parents could use their own parking space at the pediatrician's office.  When you have children, especially children in school, someone is always going to get sick in the fall and winter.  However, the last couple of years the pediatricians have stopped handing out antibiotics for colds, sore throats, etc.  This is mainly because the bugs that cause these illness are usually viral and antibiotics don't work on virus.  Taking an antibiotic when it is not needed can do more bad than good.  To learn more go to - Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work.

First, do your best to keep germs out of your house by teaching your kids good hygiene behavior.  These are the rules we have at my house: 
  1. Always wash your hands after using the restroom.
  2. Wash your hands before eating.
  3. Wash your hands whenever you come home from school, from being outside or from the store.
  4. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or cough/sneeze into the inside of your elbow.
You can find tips on how to teach your child good hand washing habits here:
For the times my kids do get sick there are a few things I make sure we have on hand:  tissues, cool mist humidifier, infant/child pain reliever and fever reducer, saline nose drops and a bulb syringe (for babies).  When our kids get a cold there are a few steps I always take:
  • I prop up their heads when they sleep with an extra pillow.  I believe this helps prevent drainage into their ears which can cause ear infections.  (For babies that are too young for pillows, I elevate their crib mattress by putting a folded blanket under it or using a crib wedge that you can buy at most baby stores.)
  • I run a cool mist humidifier in their room when sleeping.  This helps my kids sleep better.  It also helps with their cough and their sore throats.
  • For head and chest congestion - I sit with my kids in the bathroom with the door closed and run a hot shower.  I do not put my kids in the hot shower!  
  • My older children know how to blow their noses but my baby girl doesn't yet.  So, I put a couple of drops of saline solution in each nostril and wait a minute or two.  Then I use a bulb syringe to remove blockage from her nose.  This helps her sleep better.
  • Give pain reliever/fever reducer when needed and as directed on package or by doctor.
  • Make sure they have plenty of rest, liquids and soup!
Here are some great sites to find some tips on how to treat your kids when they have colds:

*All pictures are from the Parents Magazine website. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Crafts and Printables

Now that the weather is cooling off, we are spending more time inside.  And what better way to pass the time with the kids than crafts and games.  Here are some fun ways to spend time with your children and teach them about the meaning of Thanksgiving:

Simply Savings Workshops: Kroger Meal Ideas

This is a great blog that a friend recommended to me. She has a lot of great ideas on how to save money for your family. She also tells you where to find awesome deals and printable coupons.

Since I'm a big fan of easy meals, one of her recent posts sparked my interest. Thought some of you might be interested too! Check it out:

Simply Savings Workshops: Kroger Meal Ideas: "I by no means consider myself to be a great cook (my friends are all smiling now...), but I often have people tell me that they go to the st..."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekly Menu of Family Dinners

I have found that when I plan out our family meals for the week before heading to the grocery store, I save more money and time.  I tried designating a meal for each day but I felt restricted by it.  Instead, I plan five family dinners for the week and get all the groceries needed for them at the beginning of the week.  Each day, I choose one of the meals depending on what I'm in the mood for.  I already have all the groceries, so there's no need to run out to the store again until the weekend.  Here is an example of my Weekly Dinner Plan and Grocery List:

  1. Pork Chops, Green Beans and Stove Top Stuffing
  2. Spaghetti, Corn and Garlic Bread
  3. Shoyu Chicken with Rice and Peas
  4. Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  5. Beef Stew with French Bread
Grocery List
  • Pork Chops
  • Hamburger
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Stew Meat
  • Stove Top Stuffing
  • French Bread
  • Rice
  • Sandwich Bread
  • Canned Green Beans
  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Peas
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Butter
  • Garlic Salt
  • Shoyu Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • Family Size Can Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Sliced American Cheese
  • Jar of Pork Gravy
  • Jar of Beef Gravy
Organizing my meals at the beginning of the week has gotten rid of the stress that hits everyday at 4:00 pm when I'm asking myself:  "Uh oh, what am I making for dinner!?!".  I hope this list helps you too! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dirty Santa - The Gift Giving Game

This year our family is changing things up with our gift giving.  My mother-in-law suggested playing "Dirty Santa".  We were all a bit hesitant to agree to it but the more I learned about it the more interesting and fun it sounded.  No, it's not an adults only game.  Also, it is sometimes called "White Elephant".  The rules are pretty confusing but here are a couple of websites that I found that describe it in a way that is easier to understand:

A few sites suggest coming up with a theme for your Dirty Santa Party and a price limit.  The price limit is often around $20-25.   Choosing a theme can make gift ideas easier for those participating.  Some great themes are:  Gag Gifts, Alcohol, Board Games and Small Appliances.  If you decide you don't want a theme, be sure to remind all guests to choose a gift that is good for just about anyone.  You don't want gender specific gifts because the game won't be as fun.

Here are some websites that have great ideas for Dirty Santa gifts:
Have fun and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies
I recently had a few friends and their families over for a Cookie Decorating Party.  I made all the cookies and the guests brought the toppings (icing, frosting, sprinkles).  It was the day before Halloween so of course the cookies were in the shape of ghosts, cats and pumpkins. 

I wanted to try a new recipe this year because the recipes I used in the past always ended with thin cookies that were too hard.  So I was on the search for some great tasting, thick and chewy sugar cookies that were easy to cut-out into shapes.  After going to several websites and reading tons of reviews I decided on Alton Brown's Sugar Cookie Recipe on  They were delicious and everyone loved them. 

So, if you plan to make holiday cookies to share with friends and neighbors this upcoming season, I highly recommend this recipe!  I know I'll be using it this December.  Enjoy!