Thursday, November 1, 2012

Every Day a Play Day Challenge!




Some of you may know that I am a Mom Ambassador for Polarn O. Pyret, an amazing brand of Swedish clothing for kiddos that has recently made its way into the United States. They cater to form and function, and sell pieces meant to be passed down from brother to sister, and cousin to cousin. The quality is amazing, and the stripes and patterns are fun and funky.

In addition to the obvious allure of their clothing, I can't help but love their motto - "There is no bad weather, just bad clothing". Their outerwear is made to withstand frigid temperatures, wind, pouring rain - all of those weather woes that generally keep kids cooped up inside during the cooler months. They aim to provide clothing that allows kiddos to play outside in any weather, which is a mission that any parent can appreciate.

To this end, P O.P is challenging parents to get outside with their little ones every day for a week to celebrate the idea that every day, regardless of the weather, can be a play day! Starting Sunday the 4th I will be keeping a daily log of our hours spent outdoors, and hope to snap pictures of our great discoveries to share with you! The Polarn O. Pyret team and I challenge you to do the same! Feel free to "like" Polarn O. Pyret on Facebook so that you can watch as families all across the country participate in this week of outdoor fun!

Are you up for it??




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crockpot Refried Beans

These super simple, amazingly inexpensive beans are a staple in our house! I make them in large batches and freeze them in meal-sized portions for later use. These beans have so much more flavor and much less sodium than the canned variety, and will cost you around half as much to make.

Here's what you'll need:

1 lb dry beans, sorted and rinsed
6 cups water or stock
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced or crushed
Cumin to taste
Salt & pepper to taste




Now let's get to the truly overwhelming instructions. This one might really push your kitchen skills to the edge (not) ...

First, dump the beans into your slow cooker.




Then add in your onion, garlic, and jalapeno.







Now toss in the seasonings.







And the water/stock ...





 Allow the mixture to cook for 6-8 hours on high, or until the beans are soft.




Now smash them!





Congrats! You just made ridiculously easy, super healthy, homemade "refried" beans!! Celebrate with a taco...








Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

The weather has started to move into its Autumnal pattern here in Nebraska, and harvest is happening all around us. Fall in our house means the return of pot roast, chili, lasagna, and all of the yummy cool weather baked goods we can handle. This pumpkin muffin recipe is perfect for school days, as they freeze and thaw beautifully, and the kids beg for them!

What you'll need to make 24 muffins:

3 1/2 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white whole wheat so that they are whole grain, but you can use any kind you prefer)
1/2 cup milled flax seed
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or to taste)
2 cups pureed pumpkin (canned or homemade, or you can also sub in sweet potato!)
1 cup sugar (I prefer brown)
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt (or plain yogurt and a teaspoon or so of vanilla)
4 eggs
1 cup raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, or nuts (omit if you don't like them!)




First, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.




 Next, mix in the wet ingredients until well incorporated. The batter will be quite dense, but we can't all be perfect.




Then fold in your raisins, coconut, and/or nuts.





Fill lined muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. If you like your muffins to look pretty, consider sprinkling them with some coconut. Coconut makes me happy.




Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.




Engage nom.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homemade Christmas: Fleece Knot Blankets

If your family is anything like mine, you love to spend those cold winter evenings snuggled up under a blanket with a bowl of popcorn while watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. We generally store two blankets in the family room for these occasions, which are supplemented by comforters and quilts that five small Linuses drag from their beds. I don't know about you, but remaking beds isn't usually something I look forward to. This year I decided to make a fleece blanket for each one of the kiddos, with the intention that they will be left in the family room for those snuggly nights. Want to make your own cuddlebug a cozy fleece blankie? Here's what you'll need ...

2 1/2 yards of fleece (patterned, solid, or 1 1/4 yard of each)
Scissors

That's it. Really. Total cost using a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby: $12.


First, remove any selvage from your fleece using a pair of sharp scissors. Don't worry if it isn't perfect - this is a super forgiving project!






Next, fold your 2 1/2 yards of fleece in half hamburger style and cut along the fold so that you have two pieces of equal size. If you chose to do two pieces at 1 1/4 yards each, skip this step.

 




Now, arrange your two pieces of fleece so that the "nice" sides face out, and the "ugly" sides are facing each other. The next step is to cut a 4" square out of both layers, at all four corners.






Then cut 1" wide and 4" deep strips along all four sides, through both layers at the same time. This seems like a daunting task, but don't worry about measuring - the fringe doesn't have to be perfect! I just guesstimate and make adjustments for my lack of depth perception as I go.






And then you simply tie a double knot using both layers of fringe. A lot of knots. I suggest cuing up some My So Called Life reruns and zoning into the tube while completing this step.







VOILA! A super fuzzy, cozy, snuggly buddy blanket! I can't wait to give this fun "beep bot" throw to Dayne for Christmas!




Sunday, July 29, 2012

Get it for Free: Clothes for the Whole Family!!

Today's super saver tip is a GREAT one! Buying clothing for a family of seven seems like it would be an expensive task, but by taking advantage of clearance sales, coupons, and rewards I am able to keep our clothes budget to a minimum. My absolute favorite is Old Navy's smartphone app Snap Appy.

Snap Appy works with the camera on your smartphone (or wifi enabled iPod with a camera) to "snap" pictures of Old Navy logos, and then rewards you with coupons and fashion advice. While the fashion advice is appreciated, it is the coupons that make this app a real winner! You can generally get three coupons every week - $5 off a $25 purchase, $15 off a $75 purchase, and the real deal - $5 off of ANY purchase!! That means that you can score $5 worth of free clothes - EVERY WEEK! If you have multiple devices like I do you can score even more! Occasionally Old Navy will also include a $10 off of any purchase coupon, which is even better!

Old Navy generally has awesome clearance and sale prices, so you should be able to find some real steals. This week I was able to use my phone, my husband's phone, and my iPod to score this adult polo, child's polo, and two pairs of toddler pajamas absolutely free!!

Download the app today and get snapping! 


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Honest Company Bargain!

The Honest Company was founded by Jessica Alba in an attempt to provide safe, effective, and stylish products for families with kiddos. They have a wide range of products - diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent - and lots more! They offer two options - bundle your products for one low, monthly cost, or pick and choose what you need from their online shop.

Now, here's the deal! Plum District is offering a $40 voucher to The Honest Company for just $20! To make this deal even sweeter, they are offering an additional 20% off using code LONDON20. The voucher you receive will cover the entire cost of one month of the Family Essentials Bundle which includes 5 personal and household care products, or it will cover half the cost of one month of the Diapers Bundle, which includes 6 packs of diapers and 4 packs of baby wipes! If you decide not to purchase a bundle, you can also apply the voucher towards the cost of any items in their online shop.

If you choose to do a bundle, feel comfortable knowing that they have a no-hassle cancellation process. You simply make a quick phone call, and they won't put you through an annoying spiel if you do choose to discontinue receiving their products.

What are you waiting for?! Head on over to Plum District and give The Honest Company a try today!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Free Christmas Tip #3: Opinion Outpost!

Opinion Outpost is another site that allows you to earn PayPal funds or Amazon gift cards. When you sign up they will send you an email when a study is available for you to participate in. The surveys can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, and the pay off is usually proportionate to the amount of time spent taking the survey. If you stay on top of the surveys they offer it is quite easy to accumulate quite a lot of rewards! I like to do surveys in the evenings after the kids go to bed, but before winding down with a book and conversation with my husband.

Sign up for Opinion Outpost now and start bankrolling those Barbies and Legos!