Monday, November 7, 2011

New Blog!

Check out my new blog, Money-Saving Mama at  It's brand new and I need followers, so hurry on over there!  Thanks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Welcome to the World!

Margaret Frances Kelly
born September 5, 2011
9 pounds, 5 ounces

...and the reason I have not blogged in two months!

We are in love with our baby girl!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Due Date!

Today is the big day - our due date with our baby.  I don't expect we will be meeting each other today, or even tomorrow, so we decided to mark the special day with a family date.  We went to Collingswood, NJ, for a craft fair and a trip to the kid-friendly Pop Shop diner.  I also got to meet baby Emily, the one-week-old baby of a good friend of mine.  It was a very nice day, with lots of positive baby and family vibes.  So even though we won't be meeting today, it was nice to mark the occasion with some special activities.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confessions of a blog addict...

I don't know how this happened. I never thought it would happen to me. Yet, here I am, totally addicted to blogs! The blogging part is way fun, and I can't forget that, but the collecting of various blogs and following them is my real love. I love peering in to other people's lives, seeing the things they cook, the way they live, their organizational techniques, their fun crafting ideas. I just can't seem to get enough!

One day, when I have crossed off all the things on my to-do list, I will spend some time highlighting my favorite blogs. However, that list keeps getting longer, as I find more and more things I want to do by finding more great blogs out there. What a dilemma!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Belly Cast

I ordered my belly casting kit from Amazon eight weeks ago, and have been so excited to do it.  Finally, tonight (at 38 weeks, 1 day), Chris and I completed the cast.  It was a bit uncomfortable sitting still for so long, but the end result is great!  The plan is to stamp baby's newborn footprints at the top of the belly, just as they were all during the pregnancy.  Other decorating ideas have yet to be decided.


Homemade chili - delicious and freezer-bound!

I made the Barefoot Contessa's chili with beef brisket. Not sure I needed to use brisket, and probably could have gotten away with ground beef at a better price, but wowzers, is it good! Just a couple spoonfuls as I was cooking it might send me into labor! I won't give away the whole recipe here (but you can click on the source link for the official Food Network recipe), but I will say that I had to use 2 TABLEspoons of chili powder, 2 TABLEspoons of cumin, 1 TABLEspoon of cayenne, and 1 TABLEspoon of red pepper flakes.  No, not TEAspoons! I'm amazed the baby hasn't been born already with all that spice!  And here's one more for the freezer.

Hoo Are You? Week #1

I found a fun new linky party today.  Each Monday, Night Owl Crafting hosts Hoo Are You?, which is a linky party featuring five fun questions.  The idea is each blogger participating will post the questions and her answers on her own blog, then link her post back to the original post on Night Owl Crafting. Each blogger is meant to explore the other blogs as a way to get to know other bloggers and link to their websites.  This sounds fun to me, so here we go!  Week #1 for me!


Here are this week's questions!

1. Do you exercise regularly and what do you do?
Umm, no, not official exercise.  I wish I did.  I can't find the time (as I sit here blogging)!  But I do run around all day after a toddler, and soon, I'll be running around after two kids, so I think I'll do my heart some good that way.

2. Do you have any weird sleeping habits?
At 38 weeks pregnant,  yes!  I require many pillows just to be comfortable.  There's an hourly switch from left side to right side, and so most of the night is spent turning over and over.

3. How often do you vacuum?
I should do it way more often, but Luke hates the vacuum, and I simply find it difficult to do it at a time when he's not home.  It's rare for me to be home without him.

4.Do you accessorize and if so what is your favorite thing to accessorize with?
I don't accessorize much, but I do love scarves.  I have a ton of them, and could always use another!

5. What is your favorite drink during the summertime?
I LOVE margaritas, but right now, that's not an option.  Lemonade or virgin margaritas (complete with salt on the rim) is a nice substitute.  I also really love fresh-squeezed orange and lemonade.  Yum!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Messy Kitchen

Oh, and since all that cooking has been going on, I am now procrastinating.... I am blogging and facebooking and Interneting while the mess sits inches from me, staring at me and just waiting to be cleaned.  Ugh!  I do love cooking and organizing, but dishes and food mess is just gross!  It will be here another 15-20 minutes in case anyone wants to come over and take care of it for me.... anyone???

Big Batch Cooking Weekend!

In preparation for baby Kelly, I am batch cooking.  We need a freezer full of healthy things to eat.  I have been doing lots of recipe searching, grocery shopping, cooking, and freezing.

This weekend I made ratatouille, three trays of Mexican lasagna, a double batch of bean soup, and a triple batch of taco soup.  Chris also made 22 of his delicious turkey burgers! Coming up this week: pulled pork, vegetarian chili, beef brisket chili, and beef and black bean fajitas.  I will be posting all the recipes on the blog soon.  In the meantime, you can find them on my Pinterest recipe board.  When I post these recipes on the blog, I will include any changes I made to the recipes, as well as little tips for doubling or tripling the recipes.  

Not Just a Housewife Giveaway!

Oh, how I love Stacey at Not Just a Housewife!  She provides me with endless inspiration for home projects, recipe ideas, kid crafts, and a lot more.  I would say hers is the blog I visit most often.  She has a huge following, and each Tuesday, she hosts a linky party with nearly 300 links!  I am always stopping by throughout the week to catch any new additions.  I usually find the blogs I love most through her linky party.  And so, I'm sure you can see why I love her blog!

But today, I am in love even more!  Why?  She is hosting a giveaway of the Black and Decker steam mop. I've had my eye on it for a while, but since cleaning the floors is often the last item on the cleaning list, I did not take the plunge and buy it myself.  When I saw the giveaway, I had to enter!  I do so want that mop!  You can also enter her giveaway, which ends soon, by clicking here or the image below.  Good luck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mexican Lasagna Recipe

I love me some Artsy Fartsy Mama!  Her blog is full of fun, easy recipes.  I have now made two recipes from her website, and we all loved both!  Today, I will highlight her Mexican Lasagna.  I have made several small changes to the recipe to suit our own tastes.  The recipe I include below is my version of her recipe.  Her original recipe can be found here.


  • 12 small corn tortillas
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I use Trader Joe's fire roasted diced tomatoes)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can black olives (buy sliced, or dice on low in the food processor)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 jar enchilada sauce
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 packet Mexican-style shredded cheese
  • sour cream (to taste)
  • guacamole (to taste)
  • salsa (to taste)
  1. Brown the beef, drain, then return to pan with diced tomatoes and taco seasoning.  Let liquid mixture reduce while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Prepare casserole dish with a thin layer of enchilada sauce, so the tortillas won't stick.
  3. Layer the 6 tortillas over the sauce.
  4. Add layer of refried beans. For me, this involves spooning out many small spoonfuls across the layer of tortillas.
  5. Add half the olives.
  6. Add half the corn.
  7. Add half the beef mixture.
  8. Add half the cheese
  9. Pour on a thin layer of enchilada sauce, adding more at the edges where the tortillas might be bare.
  10. Repeat steps 3-9 for the second layer of lasagna.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Have salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole on hand as toppings.

Wow, is this a yummy meal!  Super easy and fast. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fun Afternoon at Smith Play Place

We were looking for something fun to do nearby, and we came across the website for Smith Play Place. Wow! What a special place! The building itself is a huge old home, built in 1899 specifically as a play house for children.  It features three floors full of toys, giant trains, tricycles, and climbing equipment. And that's just the indoor area.

The outdoor playground is huge (advertised as the size of six football fields), and is designed for the youngest toddlers through to the older years. We stayed mainly in the "tot lot" and Luke sure did have fun climbing and running around. Since the whole play yard is carpeted in rubber mats, I could sit my big-old-pregnant-self down while Luke ran around, and I didn't have to worry at all.

While we did not visit it, as I was on my own with Luke, they also have a giant enclosed 40-foot slide! Luke would have loved this, but I could not let him go alone, and slides during the third trimester seem like a bad idea.  We will visit the slide sometime soon, though, and I am sure all will have a wonderful time.

Today was a special day at Smith because last night, 14 butterflies emerged from their cocoons in their netted cage. Luke saw the butterflies up close and personal, and we had just read The Very Hungry Caterpillar this morning before our trip! How fun!

With all these amazing things for kids to do, it is even more amazing that admission to Smith is FREE! There is a suggested $5 donation per family.  Even that is incredibly cheap considering the fun that awaits children at Smith.

For families living in the Philadelphia area, Smith is a must-visit spot for children. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sun and fun. What a great day we had at Smith Play Place!

*All images obtained from Smith's facebook page*

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Mawh, peeese!"

This is baby-talk for "more, please!"  Within 24 hours of learning the sign for please, Luke began to say it as well.  It's super cute to see and hear him ask for more food, playing, tickles, or anything at all, especially when he does so with such nice manners!  Not bad for 16 months.  I'm impressed.

For anyone thinking about using baby sign language, I would highly recommend it.  It's a lot of payoff, for not a lot of work.  I learned about 20 or 30 signs myself, and began integrating them as they seemed to fit into our lives.  So easy, really!

Friday, June 24, 2011

First ever photo of the cousins!

Yep, that's it!  Technically, the two people you see are sisters, but the bumps they are sporting are most definitely cousins!  One is a little older than the other, by just a couple months, but by the time we are back at the beach and pool next summer, they'll be playing together in the water and sand, and we will have lots of photos of them together.  This is just the first of many....

Linked up at Paisley Passions!

I just shared one of our recipes over at Paisley Passions! Look for my Sausage & Leek Hash recipe on the "Fun with Food Friday" Linky Party. And don't forget to visit some of the other great recipes posted there!

If you missed my recipe when I first posted it, you can find it here, or click on recipes at the top of the page to find a (small) list of my favorite recipes. I will be adding more as time goes on.


My first thank you

The other morning, Luke sat in his high chair waiting for breakfast.  As usual, I began by filling his cup with water.  When I gave it to him, he said, "thank you!" It was the first time he said it without prompting or simply repeating it.  I was so excited to hear my little guy using manners already!  So now we are working on please, both the word and the sign.  I didn't feel like I taught him to say thank you, but I guess it all goes in.  It's probably just repetition and imitation, and now I am so glad I use manners myself!

Mother and Daughter Reunited!

Habiba and Alma have been officially reunited!  This is great news, although I am not sure if some permanent damage has already been done.  When I think of the more than three weeks they were apart, it makes me want to cry for them.  I just imagine my Luke being away from me for that long, and I simply can't even fathom how hard it must have been for them.

At least there is some happiness for them today!  Best wishes to the pair as they go on with their lives together!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The big 3-0!

Honestly, with all the thought about the new baby arriving, I haven't given much thought to my upcoming birthday.  Some of you know that it is possible that the baby and I might share a birthday.  I am not necessarily hoping for that, but given the dates, it is very possible.  This birthday is a big one for me - the big 3-0, and I think I am in some ways happy to have it overshadowed by the birth of the baby.  I don't really want to think about getting older and time that has passed (even though most of that time has been wonderful).  I don't think 30 is old, but each birthday marks the passing of time, and that in and of itself is a little, well, concerning.  You don't get it back, after all.
Yesterday, I was scrolling through some of my blogs and I came across a wonderful idea that I just had to borrow for myself.  The idea is creating a list of "Thirty Before 30" and then completing each of the 30 items before the big day arrives.  For someone like me, who was viewing the birthday as a passage of time, rather than a marker of all the wonderful things that have happened up until that day, this was exactly what I needed to motivate me to do some things I've been wanting to do, and to appreciate my birthday as a milestone.

The "Thirty Before 30" is not a to-do list.  It doesn't read "do the laundry," and "go to the grocery store," etc.  These are more meaningful tasks, although some of them can be home-oriented.  Not all are huge or life-changing.  At this rate, with just about 10 weeks until my birthday, (and my energy level, which is not so high right now), my list will be simple and achievable.  I have about nine items so far, but I will not share any until my list is complete, as I am a notorious reviser, and I want to get this right before my big reveal.

I'd also like to share with you my inspiration.  Please note, that I did not read her list.  I wanted mine to truly be mine, so I only glanced at a few items before deciding this was a fantastic idea that I wanted to steal for myself.  You can find Amy and all her wonderful musings at Positively Splendid, as well as a link to her Thirty Before 30 list.

Wish me luck in my list creation!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"We are all Habiba"

Have you heard about this?!  Read the article here.  A 15-month-old baby was taken away from her mother because the mother refused to stop breastfeeding.  I am shocked and appalled.  It's been nearly two weeks, and they have not been reunited.  Investigations into Habiba's parenting have shown that she is a typical mom, providing for her daughter as best she can.  The reports from the investigations have been made public, and I think many parents will discover they are just like Habiba.  What do you do when your child won't sleep?  If you ever brought him or her into your bed, you are like Habiba.  If you feed your young toddler from your plate, you are like Habiba.  Oh my!  My blood is boiling over this!

Luke and I ended our nursing relationship when he was about 10 months old.  With my pregnancy, my supply diminished to such an amount that he would grow frustrated when nursing.  Not only that, but I could feel some contractions when he nursed, which while sometimes very normal for pregnant moms who breastfeed, were just a bit scary to me.  Luckily for us, Luke responded well to weaning, and seemed ready to end that stage of his babyhood.  I was definitely more emotional about it, in fact!  I share all this only to highlight that if we had not had such circumstances impede our breastfeeding, we might still be doing it today, at 15 months old, which is exactly the age of Habiba's baby.  While we may not be nursing anymore, I wholeheartedly believe that women and babies should have the right to do so for as long as they see fit.

If you have not already done so, please sign the petition to have Habiba reunited with her daughter.  The form asks for your first name, last name, email address, and postal code.  You can access the petition here.

Silly boy!

I've been working on teaching Luke some new signs, and one that we both love now is "silly".  The sign involves bringing your thumb to your nose and rubbing it a few times.  The introduction of this new sign was very quick and easy, as Luke truly enjoys making me laugh, and pays close attention when I am giggling at his antics.

Luke was very silly today.  In his high chair during lunch, he tried all the different fruits in the fruit salad, even though he doesn't really like the pineapple or melon.  He would stick his tongue out and lick each piece and make a funny face, and we both agreed, that was very silly!

I witnessed Luke try another funny little antic today, in which he put his hands behind his back and walked around in circles trying to make himself fall.  He would giggle each time he tumbled, and get right back up to start over.  I laughed and told him he was being silly, and he loved it!  Bring on the giggles!

I love that we are able to communicate with each other!  Even on a basic level, using American Sign Language has brought us many opportunities to share our thoughts with each other, and to avoid some meltdowns when Luke is able to make his desires known to me in a moment of need.  We are nowhere near fluent in ASL, but we are moving forward and adding new signs all the time.  It seems to be enhancing Luke's verbal language development as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Menu Planning Evolution

Okay, I gave you my rationale for doing this in a previous post, and also an example of one of my first official attempts at menu planning.  Well, now that our vacations are over, and baby #2 is due in less than 10 weeks, it's time to refine the system and get back on the menu-planning wagon.  This time, I added two snacks per day to the calendar.  I also made sure that lunch is Luke-friendly, as I was getting entirely too frustrated with creating lunches on the fly, and would be disheartened when Luke would refuse whatever I put together for him.  I also realized I needed to balance the nutritional content, and not provide Cheerios for lunch on a day when oatmeal was for breakfast.  Simple stuff, right?

So, without further ado, here is a new version of the Kelly Family Menu Planning Calendar:

B: bagels
L: quiche
S: n/a
D: salad & skewers
S: ice cream
B: cereal, OJ & coffee
L: salmon salad with fruit salad
S: trail mix & animal crackers
D: jambalaya
S: cheesecake
B: scrambled eggs with toast
L: jambalaya with apple slices
S: smoothie
D: turkey burgers with sweet potato fries
S: cheesecake
B: English muffins
L: salmon salad with berry yogurt
S: Rita’s water ice
D: leftovers
S: sherbet
B: smoothies
L: turkey rollups with fruit salad
S: yogurt & granola
D: salmon with cous cous and spinach
S: ice cream
B: cereal
L: grilled cheese & tomato soup with apple & peanut butter
S: trail mix & animal crackers
D: takeout or leftovers
S: fruit salad
B: cereal
L: BBQ at Bellmawr Lake
S: munchies at lake
D: BBQ leftovers
S: ice cream
B: omelet with bacon & toast
D: frozen pizza
S: sherbet
B: smoothies
L: pita & hummus with cheese and apple slices
S: berry jello
D: tuna casserole
S: muffins

B: cheesy egg scramble with toast
L: PBJ & watermelon
S: banana & chocolate pieces
D: enchiladas
S: muffins
B: cereal
L: tuna salad muffins & apple sauce
S: muffins
D: leftovers
S: banana splits
B: English muffins
L: egg salad & berry yogurt
S: hummus with crackers
D: hot dogs with beans & baked potato
S: brownies
B: bagels with cream cheese
L: PBJ & apple sauce
S: Madhavi’s birthday cake
D: take out
S: brownies
B: french toast casserole with bacon
L: breakfast leftovers
S: pie

Shopping List
hot dogs
1 lb sausage
spring onions
3 tomatoes
red leaf lettuce
green pepper
red pepper
2 multigrain
burger buns
frozen pizza
ice cream
2 small salmon
baked beans
diced tomatoes
teriyaki sauce
tomato soup
trail mix
egg noodles
muffin mix 
chocolate sauce
instant rice
2 cream cheese

block cheese
sliced cheese
sliced turkey
sliced ham

Sausage and Leek Hash

Looking for a quick and easy recipe?  Here's one that is sure to please no matter what the season.  It's so simple and requires only one pan, so even the clean-up is fast.

I originally found this recipe in a one-pot cookbook my mother-in-law brought with her from the UK.  Since I did not have my own photo from the last time I cooked, I found this one online, and it belongs to the exact recipe I followed several years ago when I first started cooking it!  I have translated to American measurements, and include my somewhat modified version.  You can, however, find the original recipe under the photo source link.


  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
  • 4-5 average-sized potatoes 
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1-2 tbsp. horseradish cream sauce - if you can't find this in the store, use 1 part horseradish to 3-4 parts heavy cream for a similar taste
  • Olive oil 


  1. Pan fry sausages in small amount of olive oil. Turn over to cook on all sides. Cover pan.
  2. Remove sausages and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. They may still be somewhat undone in the middle. This is fine.
  3. Add thinly sliced potatoes to the pan. Cook through for about 8-10 minutes, turning potatoes over and making sure they aren't sticking to one another - if they do, they will be a little raw and crunchy.  
  4. Add sliced leeks after potatoes have softened for 3-4 minutes.  I hold some leeks for the end of the process so they are a bit crunchy.
  5. After potatoes are mostly cooked, add sausages again, stirring the whole pan several times.  You will need more time if the sausages were a little undone after the initial pan-fry.
  6. Add 1-2 tbsp. of horseradish cream sauce, depending on taste.  
I absolutely love that there is no need to be precise with this dish.  Add more leeks to your taste, go lighter on the sausage - or even use a chicken or turkey sausage - to suit diets.  This is such an easy recipe to modify.  Once you cook it once or twice, you won't need to look at the recipe at all.  Believe it or not, it also freezes well for a few weeks.  This is a great dish to double; keep one for your own family, and give the other to a family who's just had a illness or a new baby arrive.  This has certainly become one of our favorites!


And he's walking!

For some reason, this is THE milestone everyone talks about, but I was in no rush for our boy to walk when it seemed he was on the verge.  Back in January when I was still nauseous and lethargic all day every day, following a toddler seemed impossible.  In recent weeks, though, I couldn't help but wonder when our boy would take off on his own.  After much speculation about the delay - was it because we had been holding his hands and walking with him since he was seven months old? - we decided that because he was physically capable of taking the steps, just not mentally prepared for the big leap on his own, we'd back off and stop our wondering.  Well, we stopped wondering aloud, anyway!

All that, and our happy boy decided to take off on his on officially on May 29, 2011, while vacationing in Spain with us and his Granny and Papa.  It was wonderful that they were able to see such a big step (quite literally) in his development, because they are often far away and witnessing his achievements through Skype.  This time, they got the full interactive version, and celebrated with us with lots of praise and hugs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Steps!

At one-week shy of 14-months, Luke finally took his first steps!  April 27, 2011

He was desperate to get his hands on the Easter card from his Grammy.  He took two small steps and got the card.  The witnesses were Mommy, Nana, and Grammy.

Nearly a week later, Luke took another few steps when we were visiting with our homeopath.

He's still not walking, but we are hoping that will begin over the next couple weeks, since our beach vacation will be way more fun if we don't have to worry about crawling on the beach and on the campsite!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I turned my craft fail into craft success today!  The finished piece is drying, and once it is set to hang, I will take some photos and post.  Yay!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Craft Fail

Boo!  I excitedly began working on a craft tonight, only to have some disappointment in the process.  You see, I really liked this craft, and I had my own little plan to do a similar monogram on scrap wood from the basement.  I had the letters, the Mod Podge, the scrapbook paper - everything was ready to go.  However, when I applied the paper to the wood, the paper bubbled up.  I couldn't get the bubbles out, and I ended up tearing off the paper to start fresh another time.  I am guessing that I either gooped on too much Mod Podge or I should have let the Mod Podge dry a bit more.  In any case, I am frustrated, but I am not giving up.  Maybe it's the wood.  Who knows.  But I have a vision.  And while I will need new paper, I will get it and see my vision through to the end.

Our Boy

I've been lax on posting photos, so here's one of our boy that we absolutely love. This is just a teaser, since I will post more from Luke's one-year photo session as soon as the CD arrives. 

Tell me our Luke isn't a cutie!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flying high, and this is why....

If you are following, you know I have been posting a lot about the FlyLady.  And if you know me well at all, you know if I get into something, I really get into it.  (Think back to Hypnobabies, and me calling labor "my birthing time".... I get invested and really buy in to whatever I am doing.  Yes, I am doing some Hypnobabies with this pregnancy too!)  Back to the FlyLady...I was shocked to discover that I only discovered her one month ago.  It seems like so much has changed already, my attitude, our home, the clutter and disorganization.... even by using FlyLady's "baby steps" and not jumping in too much.  (She advocates for baby steps because doing too much at once can burn a person out.)

And by the way, the FlyLady is one person, but it is the network of people that makes this work.  We are "flybabies" and take lessons from things the FlyLady taught herself.  She was once living in CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome - her acronym, not mine), and she established simple routines to change her attitude, to get and keep her house in order, and to be kinder to herself.  I love the messages that she sends.  They are empowering and thoughtful, unlike the internal perfectionist messages I sometimes send to myself.

So that is a bit of history about the start of my relationship with FlyLady.  Now on to what has changed in our home:
  • Decluttered and organized the attic - there is plenty of space now, as opposed to before when we could hardly walk up there!
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned the laundry closet
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned the cleaning products under the kitchen sink.
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned two kitchen drawers and the tupperware cabinet
  • Decluttered and organized the dining room cabinets - floor-to-ceiling cabinets that are our only storage on our first floor.
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned the middle bedroom 
  • Purged and organized Luke's bedroom closet and clothes drawers
  • Organized toys in various parts of the house
  • Purged FIVE giants trash bags full of my old clothes
  • Reorganized bedroom closet and drawers
Now onto the systems that have been developed to help prevent the clutter from creeping back in:
  • My new bedtime routine helps me start each day ahead of the game.  I will have another post about the bedtime routine, which will outline each step in detail.
  • We now run the dishwasher every night before bed, and empty it upon wakening.  This ensures we have a place to put our dirty dishes from the very start of the day.
  • We have a wonderful new laundry system (to be explained in detail in another post) that helps me to stay on top of the laundry with one load per day.  It gets washed, dried, folded, and put away on the same day!  The same day, people!  No more living out of laundry baskets. This is huge!
  • While it sounds simple, I now put things away after I use them.  
  • There are times this doesn't happen because of Luke's needs, or for other acceptable reasons, for example, a hot curling iron that needs to cool. In those cases, I do a 5-minute room rescue when time does allow, like during naps or while Luke is eating or playing happily on his own.  This entails a quick sweep of a hot spot or messy area.
Doing all these things makes it feel like I am not cleaning all day long.  That's a beautiful thing!  I don't especially enjoy cleaning, but I do take pride and feel great about a clean house. 

Next step?  Establishing a few more routines throughout my week to help me keep this place guest-ready at all times.  Going to work on the weekly home blessing over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The diaper queen saves hundreds of dollars!

I haven't quite decided if I am a fan of this title, but I am giving it to myself anyway.  I am the diaper queen!  Why?  Well, you might remember my recent post entitled Excellent customer service from Bum Genius Cloth Diapers.  In it, I described some of the savings from buying our favorite cloth diapers second-hand and doing the repair work ourselves.  Let me elaborate...

I found a mom online who was willing to sell her stash of 25 pocket diapers for $20.  The only catch was that the velcro needed to be replaced.  I discovered the wonderful people at Cotton Babies (who manufacture Bum Genius diapers) were willing to send me replacement velcro and elastic for each diaper for free!  Free!  FREE!  I detached the old velcro and my wonderful mom did all the sewing.

I found another mom looking to unload her stash of 10 Bum Genius pocket diapers.  Because her diapers were in much better shape, we agreed on $30 for the set of 10.  Cool.  No detaching or sewing!

Then, as if all of the above is not good enough, yet another mom had a stash for me (and she replied to my ad on Craigslist, so there was basically no work on my part in finding her)!  She has a good number of diapers that she will pass on to me for free!  She said they are just taking up space, and she wants to get rid of them and give them to me for free.  (Did I say they are free?!)

Of course, I already had my own little stash of about 10 diapers.  I paid full price for about half of these; the other half were purchased new on sale both online and at The Nesting House.

Let me do the math, just for fun!

I spent a total of $50 for about 45 used diapers and about $130 for my own little stash of 10 diapers.  That's $180 for a total of 55 diapers, which will serve us well when little number two gets here!  But this is my favorite part of the math!  If I had purchased all 55 diapers brand new at retail price ($17.95 each), I would have spent $987.25!

That's a savings of $807.25!  If a penny saved is a penny earned, I think I did pretty well with over $800.

So, yes, I realize I am bragging a bit, but that is not the only purpose of this post.  I am also hoping that this inspires others to shop around and look for bargains.  Craigslist and local parent listservs are great resources for baby bargains.  Not only can you save money buying second-hand baby items, but doing so decreases trash in landfills.  Saving money and the environment is definitely the way to go!  It wasn't that difficult for me, and I'm impatient - when I want something, I want it now.  A little bit of patience and money will truly pay off!

Monday, March 28, 2011

FlyLady Inspired

Sharing my FlyLady inspiration from today:

  • I wore shoes today.  All day.  I don't usually do this, mostly because I don't like wearing shoes indoors, but also because we became a "shoeless" house to help prevent allergy issues for our floor-loving crawling baby.  FlyLady says practice getting dressed all the way to shoes everyday to help get your butt in gear.  So today, I tried it.  I got a lot done, didn't turn on the TV (except for Nate Berkus's wonderful coupon tips today), and feel great about my day. 
  • I rebooted the laundry, meaning that I did one load today to prevent chaos from taking over.
  • Because of the daily routines I have been practicing, I had time to work on a couple little projects during Luke's nap today.  I absolutely LOVE what I created, and will post some photos of the craft sometime soon.
So, it's another successful day, and I'm feeling thankful to FlyLady for the inspiration to make it a good one.

Meet the most tired woman in the world!

Today, that's me!  Combine a late night (mind racing and couldn't fall asleep) with an early-rising baby, a pregnancy and a one-year-old, and lots of productive cleaning and organizing, and you will get the most tired woman in the world!  Wowzers, I am having trouble keeping my eyes open and it's only 5:16 PM!

Even if I do nothing else but the dinner dishes today, I feel like I crammed quite a lot into this day, and I will be pleased with my accomplishments.  After a "mommy meltdown" a few days ago, I am trying to see the good in what I do each day, rather than offering myself constant criticisms for the things I am not doing (or not doing well enough, according to my perfectionist standards).

That's for another post... soon to be written, actually!  If I can stay awake after Luke goes to bed, I will write it tonight.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What can I accomplish in 15 minutes?

I am utterly amazed at what can be done in just 15 minutes.  Today alone, using 15-minute intervals for each task, I accomplished the following:
  • sorted through a very messy kitchen drawer
  • cleaned and organized our laundry closet in the kitchen
  • purged and re-organized cleaning products in the cabinet under the kitchen sink
  • tidied and organized our middle bedroom
So, in one hour, spread out over the course of the day, I took care of crazy hot spots all over the house!  Feeling good about these successes....

Loving me some FlyLady!

I promised I would give small but frequent doses of information about why I love the FlyLady.  Here is today's dose:

I went grocery shopping yesterday, and while I was there, Chris was putting Luke down for a nap and preparing to take him swimming.  I soon received a text message that read, "I love organized Nancy. Luke is already down, and I already have all our stuff ready for swimming.  So much easier than before." Chris was simply referring to the fact that he didn't have to searchch through endless laundry baskets to find his swimsuit, towel, and arm floats.  The backpack was where it should be, as were the swimmy diapers.  I have already been feeling good about the progress being made in the house, especially with our new addition coming soon.  However, the recognition is so nice, and I am glad that we are living in a peaceful home finally!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Excellent Customer Service from Bum Genius Cloth Diapers!

With another little one on the way, and the possibility of two kids in diapers, I realized I needed to increase my stash by a significant number of diapers without a significant cost.  I perused Craigslist but got no responses from my inquiries.  I decided to turn to my midwife's message board for parents.  Earlier this week, I asked if anyone had any diapers to sell, and luckily, on mom got back to me that she had our very favorite diapers (Bum Genius 3.0) to sell to us.  The best part is, she had about 25 diapers and she was willing to sell the whole lot for $20!  One brand new diapers retails at about $16, so you can see that I was saving a ton of money on this deal.  There was a catch: the velcro on the diapers was shot and needed to be replaced. 

I searched the Internet for diaper repair websites and discovered that another mom posted on her blog that Bum Genius sent her velcro repair kits for free.  This was back in 2009, and I simply prayed that they would still be willing to do so.  I sent an email to customer service, and they responded within a few hours asking how many kits I needed.  It took three days for 25 repair kits to arrive in the mail FOR FREE!  I have some work cut out for me, but for the price, I am thrilled!  I am very impressed with this customer service!

So, 25 diapers at $16 each is $320.  I spent $20, saving us $300!  Woo hoo!  That is too good not to share!  Go, frugal mama, go!

Organized mama gives menu planning a whirl!

A little bit of background: Since having Luke, grocery shopping has sometimes been an excuse for getting out of the house, especially during the dreary winter months.  I don't love or hate it, but I do hate the feeling of being disorganized.  I haven't gone to the grocery store without a list in years, but often, that list is hodge-podge, thrown together at the last minute, and is almost always incomplete.  So while I've made an effort to be organized with a list, I always seemed to come up short.

One of the blogs I follow, a clever mama outlined her menu plan for the month, and I was in awe.  (You can find her menu for March here. (Her blog is great, by the way!  She calls it "I Heart Naptime" and you will see why... she does amazing things while her kids sleep during the day.)  Yes, I have attempted menu planning before, but I never seemed to get it quite right.  She had a good format and some easy tips.  Then, my new favorite woman, the FlyLady, advocated for menu planning, and I realized that I needed to jump on this bandwagon.

My Step-by-Step Process

Step one for me was to put together a list of meals that we like and have made before.  I knew this was not a time to start cooking all new recipes, at least not while I am just starting out.  So, I compiled that list with help from Christopher.   

Next, I downloaded a free calendar template, and added "B, L, D" to each day - standing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, of course.   

Step three involved using my list of meals, and filling in the dinners with meals that seem appropriate for each day.  This involved some thinking, though, as I had to remember to make easy meals on Mondays, when I typically plan a big cleaning session during the day.  I also had to consider our current plans, and days Chris works late.  It is not perfect, and we may change it up by switching days, but for the most part, the dinners are planned.   

My next step was to consider breakfast and lunch.  This was easier than planning dinner, but still required thought.  I wanted to make sure our leftovers would be eaten, and needed to think a bit about making it simple so Luke and I could eat the same things (for the most part) for lunch.   

The fifth and final step, and what I consider to by my own personal addition to the menu planning process, was to create my grocery list.  I started with dinners again, accessed the recipes to see ingredients, and considered what we already had on hand.  Again, the thought here is planning for two weeks ahead.  I obviously can't buy a baguette this weekend to be eaten 10 days from now.  Perhaps I will switch days, or maybe just do an extra run to the market - after all, we will probably need milk or bread by that point anyway.  This is a work in progress!  You can also see that I have highlighted the meals for which I have accounted for ingredients.  For those meals that aren't highlighted, I still need to find my recipes and look at the ingredients I need.

So there you have it!  While it took about an hour in total, I think the convenience of knowing exactly what we will have for our meals over the next couple weeks with certainly save me time in the long run. 

Menu Planning for End-of-March 2011


B: big family breakfast!

L: chicken salad sandwiches

D: stuffed peppers

B: oatmeal

L: leftover peppers

D: tuna casserole with mixed vegetables

B: eggs & toast

L: soup

D: sweet & sour chicken with rice and broccoli

B: cereal

L: leftovers

D: order out

B: oatmeal

L: chopped salad

D: beef stroganoff with noodles and brussel sprouts

B: cereal

L: chopped salad

D: spaghetti in clam sauce with salad

B: breakfast sandwiches

L: leftovers

D: lasagna

B: big family breakfast!

L: leftovers

D: homemade pizza

B: oatmeal

L: chopped salad

D: grilled cheese and tomato soup

B: cereal

L: hummus & cucumber sandwiches

D: breakfast for dinner

B: eggs & toast

L: chopped salad

D: white bean minestrone with baguette

B: oatmeal

L: leftover soup

D: chicken cheesesteaks with fries

B: cereal

L: cheesy tortillas

D: order out

B: breakfast sandwiches

L: leftovers

D: turkey burgers

Shopping list:



Dry/canned goods




4 green peppers
4 cucumbers
3 mushroom boxes
Brussel sprouts
Fennel bulb
Swiss chard or cabbage
Green onions
1 lb gr beef
1 lb sweet sausage
Ground turkey
Chicken breast
Egg noodles
Cream of celery soup
WW spaghetti
Can clams
Clam sauce
Tomato soup
Pizza sauce
Chicken stock
Mixed veggies
Block cheese
Mozzarella block
3 ricotta cheese
Provolone cheese
Pizza crust
Hoagie rolls