Monday, March 4, 2013

Bread Crumb Chicken Tenders for Kids

Bread Crumb Chicken Tenders
I often go to the frozen, bagged chicken nuggets from the grocery store. However, recently I purchased some chicken tenderloins and decided I would try breading them myself!

My kids gobbled them up like they were any other chicken nugget and I was a much happier mommy giving them real chicken to eat.

It is too easy to bread your own chicken tenders, bake and then freeze for later meals! I used a $.89 tub of bread crumbs from Aldi, but I am sure you can make your own, too.

Bread Crumb Chicken Tenders
3/4 lb raw chicken tenderloins
season salt
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
  1. Rinse and trim raw chicken
  2. Season with season salt.
  3. Dip tenderloin in flour.
  4. Dip tenderloin in egg.
  5. Roll tenderloin in bread crumbs.
Place tenderloins in greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until internal temperature reads at least 160. Usually, the tenderloins are done at 30 minutes but I like the extra crispy on the outside!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crock Pot Potato Soup for Two and a Top Sirloin Marinade

Here are two super easy recipes I used for our supper tonight! On the menu? Top sirloin steak sandwiches and homemade potato soup.

I had a 2 lb top sirloin in the freezer and wanted to serve it on bread since it was a cheap cut. I decided to soak the steak in a good marinade for a few hours to enhance the flavor! I was really happy with the results.

I halved the recipe I found via All Recipes. I had plenty of marinade for the steaks with a 1/4 or so of waste. I suggest using my recipe if you are using a similar sized cut of steak or have smaller steaks still equalling 2 lbs, or so.

Top Sirloin Marinade
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)

1. Peel & dice potatoes, layer on bottom of crock pot.
2. Add in onion, garlic & sprinkle seasonings evenly.
3. Pour in broth, cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours; the potatoes should be 'fork tender'.
4. Use an immersion blender or hand mixer to mash up potatoes until it reaches a thick, even consistency.
5. Add in sour cream, bacon, corn, cheese and stir until melted.
6.  Top with your choice of toppings!
I garnished our potato soup with some more cheese, crumbled bacon, and also added French's fried onions for a little crunch.
I had such a nice little Sunday night dinner with my little family. The soup and sandwiches were the perfect combination of food. I just love putting new spins on foods I familiar with, like steak. I also really enjoy trying something new! Especially, if I can get my husband to eat it and like it.

Did you do anything different for supper tonight?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

No Weekends for Moms - So What?

I can't help I still anticipate weekends. I hurry through Wednesday, watch my favorite TV shows on Thursday night, and finally - the glorious Friday finally arrives!
Ummm. Wait.
What the heck?! I am still doing all the usual stuff I do during the week. Where is mom's weekend? Do I sleep in? No. Do I get a break from household chores? No. If we run out of something, does someone else go pick it up? No. Does someone else clean? No. Does someone else cook meals? No.
To top it off, I had a long laundry list (oh, wait our wash machine is broken to top it off - joy!) of things to accomplish this Saturday with my husband working and also having a scheduled long run of 9 miles to complete at some point. However, one of my kids came down with a fever, snots and cough last night which hasn't gotten any better today.
After a quick breakfast of pancakes I pre-made a day ago, I smooched my husband on his way out to work, envious nonetheless, and hunkered down for an awesome Saturday trapped in the house. I groaned at the thought of it.
I sat in my "mama chair" for a little while, still crusty, bra less and crabby. I put on 101 Dalmatians for the kids, which we never do. They sat for a solid 15 minutes before getting bored and I was soon welcomed by two pink cheek faces at the foot of my chair.
"Ok, ok. " I thought to myself. This is ridiculous. Just because we can't go anywhere doesn't mean the whole day is ruined. I shook it off. I played with the kids for an hour or so, I tried to get my oldest to eat. I succeeded with an entire green apple.
I cleaned all the floors in the house, did the dishes, and picked up the bedrooms.
I took a shower, did my hair, and suddenly my day wasn't seeming so gloomy after all. Both kids where in great moods and I was clean! Those are two things I can't always count on...
When I take care of the things I need to in a day, it just can't turn out bad. If I would have sat in my chair all morning, waiting for Pete to come home, only to be re-crabby when he left for his run, I would have no good thoughts about this day.
But, I recognize this error in myself, to get all cranked up for no good reason at all, and I chose to make a better day out of day that was looking to be pretty ordinary.
After playing, we ate a "super special lunch" consisting of chicken tenders, cheese sticks, carrots and Popsicles. I made M&M cookies to kill some time, and I gave both the kids a bath. Which, I think, made them feel a whole lot better, too.
Post-bath silliness.
James started to wind down pretty fast and I put him down for his nap. David and I played with toys downstairs for a bit and cuddled under a big blanket, still wiping snot from his nose.
David went down for his nap shortly after James and now I am sitting in the peace and quiet of no husband, no kids, and no TV on. Just the ticking of writing this blog post. I even ate more than I should have of M&M cookies. Totally worth it.
Now that I accomplished things in my home today, I don't have a problem with asking my husband to sneak out for an hour and maybe go thrifting. Maybe I can run to Target and pick up a few things we need, and come home to surprise Pete with a 6 pack for tonight. Maybe we can watch a movie when the kids go to bed and hang out sweetly like we used to before we got married.
My day has a much more optimistic spin on it when I remind myself it wasn't ruined upon waking. It doesn't matter what day it is or what we planned for it. What counts, is that we make it the best day we can with whatever we are given.
I really need to think like this more often...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Upstairs Bathroom Before and After

As you have read, last month I updated my upstairs bathroom cabinets, cleaned my grout, and had plans for updating the accessories in "my" bathroom. My husband primarily uses the downstairs bathroom.

Mission accomplished! I am really happy with the subtle modernization of our upstairs bathroom and I can now commit myself to the next project. Of course, if I had a limitless budget, I would keep going a little further with the bathroom. However, I am done for now and am happy with how things turned out.

Let's take a closer look at what I actually did. You will see I added some inexpensive accessories and completed easy DIY projects to update our bathroom. I hope you will find ideas for updating your own space!

Many of the items and techniques you will see in the post were originally pinned to my "Upstairs Bathroom" pin board on Pinterest.

I spray painted the picture frame and wicker basket with Rust-Oleum Paint Plus 2x Ultra Color in satin espresso from Home Depot. The pictures in the frame are vintage cards.

A closer look at the painted wicker basket:

I changed the switch plate from gold to stainless steel. I also updated the bathroom accessories with items from Ikea. I wanted a place to put my jewelry and charge my cell phone, so I got the NORRĂ–RA 2-piece bathroom dish set (on sale at my Ikea for $2.99). I also got a small clock and replanted my bamboo plant in a galvanized pot and added some decorative stones.
I had Pete replace my brass vanity light with an inexpensive brushed nickel vanity fixture from Home Depot.

I updated our sidewall vent from a bent up gold to a clean white. I tried to spray paint the old vent in brushed nickel but it didn't look quite right, I thought white looked a lot better.

I had a successful shopping trip at Marshalls, where I found my bathroom textiles. I bought a new white chenille bath rug, similar to this one. The old rug was cream and it looked dirty next to my new white vent! I also bought a new tiled hand towel and rag in white, similar to these. I updated my shower curtain hooks to chrome and glass, similar to these found on Amazon.
I might like the old shower curtain hooks better... I can't quite decide.

Lastly, there were a few things I updated that aren't pictured. I got a new white shower curtain rod, a brushed nickel towel hook for behind the door, and a new nickel door stop.

Someday, I might get a spankin' new faucet. Someday...

Well, what do you think of my new bathroom? It is crazy how clean my bathroom looks now and I didn't gut it or anything. Pretty easy, huh?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Adventures of Supermom: Pluses and Minuses of Staying Home with my Kids

Happy Friday, all!

After our usual morning routine was over: waking, changing, feeding, cleaning - I opened the shades and plopped down in my "mama chair" with a semi-hot cup of coffee. With "Snow Storm Q" passing through, I thought I would check and see how my husband's commute was this morning.

Not to my surprise, the Fridley Patch commute update page showed the traffic radar looking like this:

Photo Credit // Fridley Patch
My first thought was, "Holy crap, it must have taken Pete two hours to get to work today!". My second thought was, "Holy crap, I am so glad I don't have to go anywhere today!".

While I was in semi-gloat state mode about not having to leave my cozy 73 degree house, I thought, "Crap, I am stuck in the house all day!".

It is a great feeling to know I hardly ever have to pack up the kids and take them anywhere if I don't want or have to. However, spending a glorious 12 hour day with no help, in the same house, can at any moment become not so glorious.

There are pluses and minuses to every profession. Someone might have a job where they make a million dollars, but in exchange for the money they may never get to see their family. That is just an example.

As a stay-at-home mom, I get the luxury of staying home all day, every day with my fabulous kids. In exchange for that time with my kids I, well - I have to spend all day, every day with my kids!

Any mom or dad would know the double edge sword of the time we spend with our kids. I often find myself teary eyed over the beauty of the little things, like, "I love you, mom", a great trip out, learning, pajama time, special treats, or helping out. However, I also get the everlasting joy of tantrums, refusing to eat, poopy diapers, crabbiness, and mess making.

Those treats are just for starters.

I can tell you without hesitation, I am a super mom. Actually, I am Supermom.

Superman (or Superwoman for the PC readers):
1. A man with more than human powers.
2. An ideal superior man who, according to Nietzsche, forgoes transient pleasure, exercises creative power, lives at a level of experience beyond standards of good and evil, and is the goal of human evolution.

Now, we could get into a philosophical (or theatrical for my Shaw people) discussion, but that is a cup of tea for my Nietzsche-freak husband.

No where in the "definition" of Superman do you see the word perfect, right?

Why do I think I am Supermom? I don't think I am superior, but I do it all in our home and in return I get the simple satisfaction of knowing I did it all. While, I feel like I spend the entire day holding my breath, I try my best to do everything I can for the betterment of my family. That is my primary job.

My husband and I have a semi-unspoken agreement that I take care of everything in the house, including the kids, and he takes care of everything outside of the house. There are plenty of days neither of us wants to do our jobs, but it beats having to decided who has to do what around here. We just know what we have to do, whether we like it or not!

I: am Supermom, cook, clean, shop, make appointments, chauffeur, launder, plan parties, make trips to see family members, and so much more.

My husband: works (12 hours days nonetheless), mows the lawn, takes the garbage to the curb, pays bills, fixes things that are broken, fills the cars with gas (yes, even mine!), maintains the garage, and so much more. On top of these things, he has to come home to crazy-house and be Superdad. On occasion I make him be Superhusband, but that is an entirely different post!

I don't claim to have a life much different than anyone else. As a parent, we work our tails off to make or children and the people around us happy. Whether we are staying home or working, the sacrifices we make are small when we can be assured all of our needs (and our children's) are met and then some.

Ok, let's lighten this post up a little bit here. Here are a few good examples of how being a stay-at-home supermom can have pluses or minuses:

Plus: I don't have to pack up my kids to go anywhere if I don't want to.
Minus: We often get stuck in the house due to: winter storms, tantrums, feeding schedules, ect.

Plus: I have the time to keep a tidy house.
Minus: It takes all day to keep it tidy with my little boys.

Plus: I don't have worry about when the lawn will get mowed.
Minus: If I have to unload the dishwasher one more time today, I might go insane.

Plus: Our fridge is golden.
Minus: I have to coordinate meals far in advance to avoid multiple grocery trips.

Plus: My kids eat very well.
Minus: I cook 3 meals a day.

Plus: I get the advantages of going to popular outings during the day like play lands, and they are never busy.
Minus: I have to chase the kids around by myself.

Plus: I get two hours of alone time when my kids nap.
Minus: This is when I take a shower, do cleaning projects, or work on blog posts. (Ok, ok I do nap, sometimes!)

Plus: I can go to Target whenever I want.
Minus: As a 12 hour mom of 2, I rarely get to go anywhere by myself.

Plus: My kids can come to me anytime during the day, and I am there for them.
Minus: Mom doesn't get sick days.

Plus: I get to do all the shopping.
Minus: Budget 2013.

Hopefully, my pluses and minuses don't sound too depressing! In the scheme of things, I love my life at home. In the same way, a lot of mothers enjoy their work outside the home. We all get sick of it from time to time, but hopefully, we are all doing what we chose to do.

Do you have any funny pluses and minuses about your life? Anything you would change, if you could?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Night Meal Planning

You might think I am a little goofy doing my meal planning on Monday night, but this post has been sitting in draft for the last two days. That is how I like to roll. The title changed from "Sunday Night" to "Monday Meal Planning" to finally, "Monday Night Meal Planning".

The boys and I have a pretty busy week, filled with arts and crafts, and play dates! We got a lot of snow last night, so I had to save my grocery shopping trip today with the boys. I went through the ads in the Sunday paper during the boys' naps and saw there were a few good coupons to use. If you don't get the Sunday paper, one place you can print coupons from is Smart Source.

Also, Aldi has a wide selection of fruits in this week including our favorites: strawberries and blueberries! I really haven't been splurging on these out of season, more expensive fruits this Winter. We have been sticking to mostly apples, oranges, bananas and some canned fruits, too.

Front page of this Sunday's Aldi ad.
Follow Occupation Housewife on Facebook to see how my meals turn out! Last week's dinner menu's consisted of:

Monday: Bisquick chicken pot pie.
Tuesday: Tator tot casserole with salad.
Wednesday: Crock pot beef stroganoff for daddy. The kids and I had a pizza party at a friends house!
Thursday: Pan fried chicken with cream of mushroom and leftover egg noodles.
Friday: Chipotle before the hockey game.
Saturday: Ate out.
Sunday: Frozen pizza (from the $3.33 Target deal) and spaghetti.

This week, I have a few new recipes I would like to try as well as some new spins on old favorites.

Slim Cheesy Potatoes via The Spotted Lamb
Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joe's via Six Sisters' Stuff
Red Wine Vinegar Salad Dressing via

This week's dinner menu consists of:
Monday: Vegetarian Chili and sub sandwiches or Hawaiian baked ham sandwiches.
Tuesday: Philly cheese steak sloppy joe's with french fries.
Wednesday: Pizza party night with friends (including fellow blogger from Live the Fancy Life). I won a free pizza from Papa John's during the Super Bowl. We'll see how free it really is!
Thursday: Baked oatmeal casserole for breakfast. NY strips from the freezer, Texas toast and lemon salad for V-day.
Friday: Sliced ham (or I might get a rotisserie chicken from Sam's club) with slim cheesy potatoes.
Saturday: Out to eat night?
Sunday: Pork chops with crock pot red potatoes and red wine vinegar salad.

Tonight, I had a friend from High School over and we caught up over a bowl of veggie chili with cold ham sandwiches on King's Hawaiian buns. I really threw the chili together with my eyes closed but I thought it turned out pretty good for what was in it.

Easy Vegetarian Chili via Two Peas and Their Pod

Easy Veggie Chili inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod

1 28oz can whole tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans with chili sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
2 celery stalks
1 medium sweet onion
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

First, I sauteed the onion and celery in oil until browned over medium-high heat. I then added the peppers and sauteed until tender.

While my veggies were cooking, I turned my crock pot to high and added the canned tomatoes. I crushed them with my hands to break up the big chunks. I then added peppers and all the other ingredients (you already used the oil to saute your veggies).

I added one Tbs. chili powder but I thought it needed a lot more so I added another Tbs. I gave the chili a big stir and let it sit on high for 2-3 hours. I turned the crock pot to low before serving.

I was considering making the popular Hawaiian baked ham sandwiches I found on Pinterest, but I thought the hot chili would be complimented with a cold sandwich instead. I also served dinner with BBQ kettle chips and my friend brought over red velvet cake with creamy frosting. I was a happy lady!

My husband isn't a huge fan of beans but he actually ate my chili and said he liked it! Go, super-wife!

Are you trying anything new this week?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY Popsicle Stick Family

The boys and I worked on our Valentine's Day cards for family today. While digging through the craft box, I found a large bag of Popsicle sticks I bought at the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $.99. Knowing me, I probably bought them on a coordinating 50% off colored tag sale and got them for $.50. I am stupid cheap like that...

Anyway, without any wood glue, I searched for some ways to use the sticks as a fun learning tool for my kids. I stumbled upon Teawagontale's how-to for her "miss lolly dolly" stick people. The miss lolly dollies are super cute, as she adorned them with washi tape and ribbon.

I decided to make our little family out of the Popsicle sticks. I also wrote the names of our family members on the sticks so David can learn to copy them. He is already a super star at writing his own name, but now he can work on the other names in the family.

I can also use these stick people to ask David:
Who looks the same?
Who looks different?
What color are daddy's pants?
How do you spell "mommy"?
What is James wearing?

In addition to a learning tool, David and James can use their imagination with the Popsicle stick family by creating situations and scenarios for them. I can already see David taking the daddy stick for a ride in the garbage truck!

Popsicle Sticks
Fine Black Pen
Colored Pencils, Crayons or Markers

I started with the notch of the hair and worked my way down on each family member. Once drawn, I lightly colored in the clothing with a colored pencil. I tried to do something a little different on each stick and alternate the colors of the clothing.

This craft is so easy and their are a million and one different things you could draw! Need a few more ideas?

Fruits and Vegetables
Super Heros

I am tempted to make all our grandparents, aunts and uncles, too! Who knows, I may even draw the family dog...

What crafts have you completed lately?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

VAULT: Super Deal on Trumpette Socks Assortment and More!

I recently heard of Vault through the super chic DIY design blog, Dwellings By Devore. Right now, Vault is running the typical "Give $25, Get $25" marketing strategy to get more shoppers to their site. In addition to their clever scheme, bloggers like me can also take the opportunity to share a good deal and also get a payback, too.

Vault is similar to the discount shopping sites like GILT or Zulily. Only, Vault gives you $25 right away when you sign up. A small catch? You have to spend $35 to get the $25 off, but at least you can get some super good deals on women's, men's, baby, and home gear. If you are wise enough to stay in the $35 zone!

Another perk? Free shipping!

A special game I like to play is: how close can I get to $35 exactly? Here are a few good deals I spotted on Vault:

Trumpette Baby Sailors Socks Assortment $30. They are available in many styles.

Zodiak Baby Wash and Lotion $35. Available in all the signs.
Chewbeads Skinny Charles Bangle Set Cobalt $20. More colors available.
Sparq Whiskey Rocks $20.
Reason Clothing Arctic Dots Beanie $14.
Easy Playhouse Crafty Cottage $40.
There is so much stuff on Vault. I have spent the last hour weeding through all the goods!

Happy shopping!

Valentine's Day Ideas for 2013

I have been trying to teach David about "I Love You Day" next Thursday. Even though he totally doesn't get it yet, I hope to do a few sweet things throughout the day to express my love for my kids and our time together.

My kids on Valentine's Day 2012.
It is always fun to do a new craft project. Not only does it promote learning and creativity, but it soaks up a good hour of our 10-12 hour days together. Don't get me wrong, I love being a stay-at-home-mom, but we can only color in the same coloring book or write our ABC's so many times in one day.

Also, James (15 months) is in super destructive little brother mode. It has been hard to remember that while I see him as the baby, he needs to learn he can't destroy what everyone else is doing. While I am constantly getting on David's back about sharing with his brother, I need to remember David is allowed to have his own things and his own time, where James isn't bothering him.

So, with Valentine's Day just a little over a week away, I am starting to get together some ideas to make the day extra special and extra crafty, as well. Plus, there are a few good during the week activities, too. Don't forget, we also need to do something special for the #1 as well: Daddy!

Send a Hug via Paging Supermom

Pink Pancakes via Lick that Spoon
Hand Print Hearts via The Shirleys

Heart Hot Dogs via Spoonful

Clay Heart Ornaments via The Imagination Tree

Potato Heart Stamp via Homemade Serenity
Valentine Word Search Printable via Parenting
Frozen Pink Milk (or Juice) Cubes via A Subtle Revelry
Printable Party Hats via Mr. Printables
Family Valentine Dinner via Jamie Cooks It Up!
Free Valentine's Day Fonts via A Typical English Home
Valentine Cookie via Bake at 350
Valentine Art Project via Hands On As We Grow
Printable Cupcake Topper and Banner via In Johanna's Kitchen
I hope these Valentine's Day ideas inspire you to do something fun with your little ones or loved ones! Do you celebrate V-day in your home?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Meal Planning

To save on the overwhelming, negative feeling associated with the question, "What am I going to do about dinner?", I have been trying really hard to decide what we are going to have each night of the week for supper in advance.

It is such a sense of relief to either have dinner done, or at least planned before the kids go down for their naps. Then I can either: prepare the putsy parts of dinner while the kids are out of my hair, or do nothing at all because dinner will take care of itself. Like, a crock pot meal or something that can be easily put together over an episode of Caillou.

The boys and I headed to Aldi this morning to pick up all the food and drink we would need for the week. I shop for 85% of my groceries at Aldi, 5% at Cub, 5% at Target, and 5% at Bob's Produce.

I had a few recipes in mind before heading out the door which helps me keep my grocery shopping in our budget. I don't want to make all the same meals as last week, so let's go over what my little family ate. Last week's dinner menu's consisted of:

Monday: Turkey meatloaf with baby red mashed potatoes and lemon salad. Recipe here.
Tuesday: Pork tenderloin with garlic herb angel hair pasta.
Wednesday: Grilled turkey BLT sandwiches with pasta salad and BBQ kettle chips.
Thursday: Ground beef soft shell tacos with nacho cheese.
Friday: Frozen pizza (from the $3.33 Target deal) and pineapple.
Saturday: Ate at a going away party.
Sunday: Ate at a super bowl party.

Maybe it is the preggo brain of mine, but I really wanted to try to make Tator Tot Casserole this week:

Photo Credit // Simply Being Mommy
I think it is something the kids will love and it seems really easy to make. I can also make this meal  to feed the kids and I at 5:30, and Pete at 7.

I also love crock pot beef stroganoff lately and put this recipe on my menu this week. Plus, I saw in Aldi's Sunday add that Egg Noodles were on sale for $.99.

Photo Credit // The Crockstar
I found a recipe for BLT dip, which sounded so fantastic, I decided to make some sort of BLT dinner again this week.We don't ever go through the whole pound of bacon. As you read, we already did grilled sandwiches last week, so I might get creative with this one, somehow.

Photo Credit // Gooseberry Patch
In addition to these three recipes, I have chicken breasts and NY strip steaks in the freezer. This takes care of the Monday through Friday meals! Pete and I allow ourselves to take the kids out to eat one night a week, and order in one night a week, as well. We don't do this every week, but some weeks we go out to eat more than once. Budgeting for out to eat dining is one of our biggest issues. We hate the money we spend dining out, but we also really enjoy the experience of it.

So, here is what our menu looks like this week. I hope to save the crock pot meal for a night I might be out of the house with the kids visiting a friend or going over to my parents. I also want to make the BLT dinner Thursday, so I can take the BLT dip to share at my Grandma's house on Friday morning.

Monday: Tator Tot Casserole.
Ground beef = $3.99/lb
Tator tots = $1.49/bag
Cream of chicken soup = $.59
Cream of mushroom = $.59
Onion = already have.
Cheese = already have.
Romaine salad (1 stalk out of a bag of 3) = $.66
Total = $7.32

Tuesday: Chicken and rice bake (with biscuits), or chicken pot pie.
Chicken = from the freezer.
Rice = already have.
Onion = already have.
Celery = $.99
Cream of chicken soup = already have.
Baking mix (similar to Bisquick) = $1.99
Romaine salad (1 stalk out of a bag of 3) = $.66
Total = $3.64

Wednesday: Crock pot beef stroganoff.
Steak = $7.34/1.64 lbs.
Cream cheese = already had.
Golden mushroom soup = $1.27
Egg noodles = $.99
Total = $9.60

Thursday: BLT Sandwiches.
Bacon = $3.99/lb
Wheat bread = $.99
Romain Lettuce (1 stalk out of a bag of 3) = $.66
Mayo = already have.
Pasta salad = $.89/box
Total = $6.53

Friday: We have a hockey game, so maybe we will go out to eat this evening.
Saturday: NY Strip Steak from the freezer.
Sunday: Pizza night.

I don't think our menu looks too shabby this week! What are you cooking for dinner this week? Have any suggestions for my creative BLT night?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Target Trip Steals

As part of my family's 2013 budget, I have tried my hardest to keep Target trips at a minimum this year. After some digging into our receipts it is easy to see (and easy to spend) unnecessary items bought at Target.

While I can get some super awesome deals, it doesn't mean our family actually needs what I am buying. However, I did some careful planning, list making and coupon organizing before today's trip and I tried to stay calm around tempting items we don't need.

I was half successful.

On the up side, if you get the Sunday paper, you will have noticed a buy 2 Digiorno pizzas - get 1 free coupon. Target's circular advertised the pizzas 2 for $9 or $4.50 each. With the manufacture coupon, I could get 3 Digiorno pizzas for $3.33 each! That is a great deal. In addition to the coupon, Target had a buy 2 Digiorno pizzas get a free 2 Liter pop:
3 Digiorno pizzas and 2 Liter Diet Coke $9

The pizza deal was my biggest reason for going to Target, but we also needed:
Whole milk $2.98
Creamer $2.80 for 2 (I had the Coffeemate coupon for $1.10 off 2)
Pop $2.50 for Pepsi 12 packs

I did all my grocery shopping for the week on Sunday. This included everything the boys and I eat during the week and 5 family dinners I cook. The boys go through milk like crazy and I think if I start buying it 2 gallons at a time, I should cut out the extra trip to the grocery store.

It is really annoying to have to go to the store to get one important item, like milk. In the Summer, it is a way lesser deal. It took the kids and I 14 minutes to get out of the house the other morning. I know this because I started my car at 10:12, and it was 10:26 when I started loading babies into their car seats. Ooofffffttaaa.

14 minutes.

That time doesn't even count the getting ready part! Granted, I would spend the extra 14 minutes just to get out of the house most days, but that is a lot of work for a silly gallon of milk. Ok, I am getting side tracked.

In addition to a few cheap grocery finds, including some unnecessary purchases like the sports shaped Market Pantry Mac' n Cheese. David was too cute pulling them off the shelf and asking me "Remember that?" when I bought them for him a few months ago and we had fun picking out all the shapes. I had to spend the near nothing $.74 on them. Plus, that is a $.74 cent lunch for 3 people.

I got some good deals on Gerber toddler foods. I hardly buy the brand anymore since James is eating everything but peanut butter. However, I still get the Gerber coupons in the mail. With Target's baby sale going on now:
Gerber Yogurt Melts $1.48 each after coupons for $1.25 off 2. I ended up buying 4 packages.

After all this savvy saving, I made the big mistake of heading to baby clothes, shoes and women's clearance. Whooops... this is where I hoarded 70% off clearance. I hadn't been to Target in so long it was like I couldn't get the crap in my cart fast enough. It felt so good, I tell you.

With a little bit of going through what I picked out after the frenzy, and putting a few really-un-necessaries back on the shelves, I made a sizable but budget friendly load. Well, we'll see what Pete says, I guess!

Converse Toddler Shoes $5.98
Liz Lange Maternity Dress $8.98
Liz Lange Maternity Pencil Skirt $7.48
Mossimo Long Sleeve Tee $3.60
Circo Long Sleeve Tees $1.80
Cherokee Boys Sweater $3.80
Boys Fleece Sweater $1.50

If you see the items at, you will see the baby items aren't even discounted yet!

According to the "total savings this trip" at the bottom of my Target receipt, in relationship to what I spent at Target total, I saved 32% on my Target trip today. This makes me a very happy shopper. I also feel a little fulfillment and hopefully, I can go another 2 or 3 weeks before I need another Target fix. Hopefully...

Monday, January 28, 2013

How I Cloth Diaper My 15-Month Old

Since my blog as been dominated by food and home updates, I thought I would shake things up a bit and talk about cloth diapering my 15-month old son, James.

James wearing GroVia Hybrid Shell Diaper

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love cloth diapering. The process fulfills me in a weird way. I feel I am taking better care of James, the environment, and my wallet!

While my husband is not as excited about cloth diapering as me, he has been such a champ with the whole process. I remember bringing up cloth diapering to him when I was still pregnant. I think he thought I was just trying to curb my "nesting instinct" with baby number 2.

Well, with a little trial and error, $400 spent and thousands of dollars saved, I am a cloth diapering mama. I get asked about the process a lot, so I will share with you what an average week of cloth diapering is like for me.

There is no one way to cloth diaper. There are hundreds of brands, types of detergents, types of products, and many different kinds of washers. I can only share with you what I do! As my mom says, "Once you have your kids figured out, something changes." I feel it is the same with cloth diapering. Once I have the prefect routine, James out grows a diaper or something.

However, I can confidently say I have had no major issues with cloth diapering. Issues being: leaks, smells, costs, cleaning, storing, organizing, transporting, traveling with, or general use and convenience of cloth diapering.

There are plenty of times I have taken weekend trips to Rochester and used disposables. I am not a absolutely-have-to-use-my-cloth-diapers, cloth diapering nut. We have used one disposable per day since James was 5 months old - at night.

That's right, I don't double stuff my diapers or make James wear wool pants or any other drastic measures to be sure James is only wearing cloth. He leaks at night and disposables work! Plus, it gives me an extra break to have daddy do pajamas sometimes and I feel it is a treat for him to get to use a disposable diaper.

Here is a typical cloth diapered day in the life of my 15 month old:

James is roughly 25 lbs. He has a bubble butt and is big legged. A lot of diaper systems are called "one sized" systems. They have rows of snaps to help accommodate different sized babies. Most brands have a minimum of 7 lbs and a maximum of 35 lbs. Where you snap your diaper determines the size and fit for your baby.
Photo Credit // Flip Diapers

The snaps on the front of cloth diapers, I think, are a big reason a lot of people are afraid of them. Cloth diapers seem like such an inconvenience because of all the snapping. When really, it is just two snaps. They also come in hook and loop (or Velcro - the term hook and loop confused me in the beginning) to make changing even easier.

Yes mom, I know you are reading. It is just two snaps!

Different diaper systems (brands) have different methods for how you change your baby's diaper. One system is a diaper cover with an insert. The insert is changed when wet but the cover is only changed 2-3 times a day.

Photo Credit // Flip Diapers

Another system is sometimes called an "all-in-one", where the diaper can be pre-stuffed with a insert after washing. Then you exchange the entire diaper at changing time.

Of course, this is only the beginning of cloth diaper options. Check out, the site is one of my favorites for cloth diapers.

I have found diaper covers with an individually placed, tri-folded, cotton prefold (insert) is the best system for us. I go through 2-4 diaper covers a day and 5-7 prefolds. My favorite brand is Flip. They never, ever leak for us. But, I also use Grovia, Thirsties and Kawaii covers. I very rarely use all-in-one diapers, but I do own some.

Flip Daypack: 2 diaper covers and 6 inserts $59.95

To change James' diaper cover and prefold:

  • Lay baby down.
  • Remove dirty diaper.
  • Slide cover only under baby, positioning it correctly.
  • Lift baby and place trifolded prefold on top of the cover.
  • Fold prefold over baby.
  • Fold diaper cover over prefold.
  • Snap closed.

I do not change James' diaper cover until he has had 2-3 wet prefolds or 1 poopy prefold. Usually, James gets changed into a cover and prefold in the morning when he wakes up, and then a prefold change after breakfast. If he has had only wet diapers all morning, I change him into a new prefold before his afternoon nap at 1 o'clock.

Photo Credit // Diaper Junction

After nap, James gets a new diaper cover and we go through another 2-3 prefolds before getting changed into his disposable diaper at 8 o'clock. James is often very wet after his nap, so I like to change the diaper cover. Some days, he might be drier so I only change the prefold. When at any time, James poops in his diaper, the cover and prefold must get changed. He usually likes to save that for right after I put a clean diaper cover on him! Thanks, James.

Cloth diapers get ruined by many rash creams because the cream gets on the diaper and acts as a repellent. The diapers absorb all the wetness and leaks don't get on your baby's clothes. I think CJ's BUTTer cream is the best butt cream there is and it is cloth diaper friendly. It also smells awesome! My favorite CJ's scents are Monkey Fart and Honeyed Patchouli.

You might be thinking where I put all these soiled, stinky diapers after I take them off James, right?

My house has 2 bedrooms upstairs, the master and the nursery, and a full bathroom. I keep a large wet bag (a waterproof bag made out of a polyurethane laminate or PUL) next to the toilet in the bathroom for the dirty diapers.You can make your own bag, as I did! If James goes through 6 diapers a day, we have a pretty full bag after 3 days. I never go more than 3 days between washing diapers.

If James has only wet his diaper, it goes right into the wet bag with no rinsing. If James has pooped his diaper, the diaper needs to be rinsed in the toilet first and then placed in the wet bag. I use a diaper sprayer like this one costing you about $35. Totally worth it.

I find my washer does a great job of cleaning 15-18 diapers at a time. I have a top loader and we have soft water in our home. To clean cloth diapers I:

  • Empty contents of wet bag into washer.
  • Do a warm rinse cycle with no detergent.
  • Follow with a hot-cold wash with 2 Tbs Rockin' Green Laundry Detergent.
  • Follow with a cold rinse.
  • Dry in the dryer on low with no dryer sheet (they coat the diapers and make them repel instead of absorb wetness).

The washing system is a little lengthy I have to admit, but I have it down to such a timed science after washing diapers for over a year. Also, a lot of people don't dry their diapers in the dryer because you can damage the PUL with the heat. I have ruined a few "cheap" diapers from drying in the dryer, so I hang dried my diaper covers for a while. Once I switched to using Flip covers, almost exclusively, I found they handle my dryer just fine.

A lot of people think cloth diapering is more stinky than disposable diapers. In my mind, a diaper is a diaper. Take a big whiff of a freshly peed on disposable diaper and I guarantee you will think they stink, too. The wet bag holds in smells very well. I use a pail freshener, too. My diapers have never stunk coming out clean from the washer and dryer.
Rockin' Green Shake it Up! Pail Freshener
If I am out and about, I commonly bring one extra diaper cover and 3 prefolds in my diaper bag. I also bring an old Target bag or something to put my dirty diapers in till I get home. If I have a longer trip, I will carry a smaller wet bag with me to keep wetness and smells in.

Overall, cloth diapering is a more complicated process than using disposables, but I love it. I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kids, and cloth diapering is much easier when I can take full responsibility and care for them. Like I said earlier, my husband is quite the trooper when it comes to my cloth diapering expectations, but he has never had use them if he doesn't want to.

I am dying to hear what you think! I would also love to hear about your own cloth diapering experiences if you have them. Some of my favorite friends also cloth diaper and I feel like we could just talk about them all day, sometimes.

Thank you for reading!

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