Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cucumber + Lime = YUCK

This picture was borrowed from drinkwhat.com because I threw ours out!

There are many combinations in life that have become famous: peanut better & jelly, butter & popcorn, burgers & fries, and Ricky & Lucy.  Throughout the years there have also been many combinations that have tried to become the “next big thing” but have failed:  ice cream & pickles (sorry pregnant ladies, this is NOT good), liver & onions (sorry MOM, this is ALSO a horrible combination), bacon & ice cream (sorry Jack in the Box and bacon lovers), and Britney & Kevin.

So, as a public service, I would like to warn you of a combination that you should stay FAR,FAR, FAR away from; Gatorade’s new Limon-Pepino (translated: Cucumber Lime) is never going to become famous.  No matter how cheap it was with my coupons.

Okay let me break it down for you: my boys will eat and drink anything they can get their hands on.  When I say “my boys” this also includes my husband who seems to have a stomach that mirrors an empty pit.  I can make the world’s worst dinner and they will still go back for seconds.  No joke.  So you will understand my utter shock when all of them SPIT OUT Gatorade’s new Cucumber Lime.

I couldn’t believe that it would be that bad, so I decided to take a sip myself.  I regret that decision.  So the moral of the story:  when you are stocking up on Gatorades this summer (great prices + coupons) make sure that you pick flavors that you know are good.  Don’t just randomly grab them because you might end up not only wasting money… but needing more toothpaste after brushing your teeth 10 times to get rid of the taste.

Sorry Gatorade, you can’t win them all.

Monday, July 30, 2012

5 Things You Never Cared To Know About ME!

The kids & I after a long day hiking... don't judge!

It has been over a month since I’ve started this blog and by the increase in readership I’m assuming that it’s no longer just my sister and my close friends who are reading Growing Oranges.  There may be a few of you who actually don’t know who I am, who don’t get annoying calls from me at 11am every morning when I start to realize that my kids are horrible and I’m not even halfway done with my day, nor do you read my personal Facebook page where I talk about things like missing Speedo’s in the Olympics (thank goodness those cute water polo boys still rock them) or show pictures of my children’s utter failures (like decorating my house with toilet paper).
So in an effort for you to get a better idea of who I am as a person, I thought I would share “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me… Especially Since You Don’t Know Me”:
1.       My kids are horrible little monsters!  There are some people you will meet that will tell you that their kids are crazy and will warn you about how bad they behave, and then you will meet their kids and realize that they totally exaggerated everything they ever said.  That is not me.  I am not one of those moms.  My boys are horrible little monsters.  I try, I really truly try to keep them under control but it just doesn’t always work out for me.  So in an effort to avoid public humiliation I don’t go out to eat to any restaurant that doesn’t have a playground, I never take them to the mall (I was told on Friday that Crate & Barrel closed down in the Mission Viejo mall years ago… I had no idea), and I have to lock myself in my bedroom and then lock myself in my bathroom if I want to make a phone call without having the kids screaming in the background.  Moral to this little fact about me: hanging out with me and my kids will make you love your kids just a little more than before.
2.       My house is dirty.  I can never understand how people (especially moms) have these adorable blogs where they post every single day, do amazing DIY projects, and cook gourmet meals while still having these fantastic homes in the background.  This is not me.  I am not one of those bloggers.  My house is dirty, not like “call CPS and the hoarders show” dirty but I probably need to scrub my bathrooms a little bit more than I do and catch up on the 15 loads of laundry that are currently taking up residency in my garage.  I drive my husband crazy; he can’t understand why I never put the laundry away after folding it on the sofa (when I actually get around to doing the laundry).  Or why I can’t put back the clothes that I took out of the closet, tried on, decided I didn’t like, and then left in a pile on my bedroom floor.  I need an intervention, which actually means I need a maid.  But again, the moral to this little fact about me: hanging out in my house will make your husband appreciate you a little more than before.
3.       I read horrible chick-flick books.  This is a very hard fact to admit to, but I need to just rip the Band-Aid off and wave my “Chick Flick Flag” with pride.  I have a large collection of paperback books from cheesy writers like Nicholas Sparks and Sophie Kinsella.  My philosophy with reading is that if I learn something from it, then I don’t want to read it.  I’ve been through college; I’ve put my years of reading in.  I now want to entertain myself with horrible romance books that tend to always have some major life crisis but end with a “happily ever after”.  Maybe I can blame this on growing up near Disneyland; maybe they poisoned my drinking water with a potion that would make me a pathetic romantic woman who reads paperbacks.  So, the moral to this little fact about me: if you like cheesy paperbacks then you should stop by my next garage sale because I will have a lot (I need to invest in a eReader, add that to my “if I had a ton of money” list)
4.       I sometimes leave my filter at home.  Now, this might not surprise you a ton but I can be a little snarky.  There are some people who go on the internet and take on a whole different personality than what they are in real life.  Like maybe you will meet someone online who is super funny, pretty, and dresses great but you meet them and they don’t talk, they obviously posted a fake picture, and they cross-dress.  Well, don’t worry about this, I will completely embarrass you with my humor and ask inappropriate questions whenever I get an opportunity.  It’s become an art.  This, just like my dirty house, is another thing my husband would enjoy changing about me.  He’s a pretty quiet guy, super easy going, and just all around nice.  I am loud, high strung, and maybe a little bit too much for some people to handle.  But thankfully, opposites attract.  The moral to this little fact about me: if you don’t like my snarky humor online, then you probably don’t want to get stuck in an elevator with me when the power goes out. 
5.       I want a baby girl.  I got on this big kick about being happy with whatever gender Heavenly Father gave me.  I would give that whole cheesy “as long as the baby is healthy” response when people would ask what gender I was hoping for.  But now that I have a house full of boys, the thought of never having a little girl is starting to weigh on me.  So much that I’ve actually started to Google pricing for getting my husband’s sperm spin to increase our chances of having a girl (surprisingly it doesn’t cost nearly as much as I thought it would).  I think I’ve convinced my husband to try for our #4 this fall (he is still denying this but he also denied that he would marry me up until he signed the certificate) but sadly it will most likely be my last pregnancy.  So if my last baby comes home with an “outie” instead of an “innie”, I will love it just the same.  But when no one is around, I might break out a box full of pink dresses and dress him up.  Moral to this little fact about me: if you have a baby girl, you shouldn’t ask me to babysit because you may not get her back (unless she cries, I’m not a fan of crying babies… even if the crying baby is wearing pink).

Alright, I hope those five little facts about me helps you to get a better understanding about who I am.  Not that you care.  But if you do, then now you know.  It’s 1am and I’m off to watch a few more hours of the Olympics because I am obsessed with them.  I will also admit that with every new sport that comes on I think “I wonder if my kids could do that”.  Yup, I’m that mom; trying to figure out how to get my kids to win gold medals even if they don’t love the sport.  They will learn to suck it up, do good, and make mama proud!  

The winner....

of the adorable hot pink hair clip from the Caterpillar Family Shop (etsy) is Jacqueline!!! I just want to thank everyone who participated in my very first giveaway.  I would also like to thank Perfectly Imperfect Mom for setting everything up and The Practically Green Mom for her support. 

If you like giveaways then don't forget that today is the last day to enter to win a 30 day supply of awesome prenatal vitamins.  And of course, I will be having lots more giveaways.  So visit Growing Oranges... often.  #BloggingFun

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Giveaway #2- Premama Prenatal Pills

I can't believe it, in less than one week we are already have another giveaway.  My little blog is actually starting to feel like a blog! 

Alright so I wish I would have known about these vitamins when I was pregnant with my 3 kids, because my stomach hated taking my prentals.  The large horse pills would upset my stomach, the small version require you take a huge handful of them which was just a pain, and the chewable kind would leave a horrible taste in my mouth.  A drinkable version is pure genius.

Premama is a prenatal vitamin drink that comes complete with all the key nutrients you need while pregnant and nursing including DHA, Folic Acid, and Iron.  It is also packed with Ginger, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium to help moms with nausea (SO awesome) and digestive relief.

The Practically Green Mom, Perfectly Imperfect Mom and myself are having a giveaway for a 30 day supply of Premama Prenatal Vitamin Drink Mix.

Perfect for you take if you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant (doctors always recommend women who are in the childbearing ages to take folic acid- read up on it), for your friend/family member who is currently expecting, or as a wedding shower present (he he he). 

Hurry up and enter today... your belly will thank you (and your baby)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why I love the Swedes!

Summer sounds like so much fun when you are busy driving carpool all day, helping with homework, and doing fundraising.  But right about now (July/August) you realize that being stuck at home all day with these heathens and trying to find cheap (aka- free) things to do with them for entertainment (besides the television that they would love to park themselves in front of from sun up to sun down) is not very fun.  Thankfully though, Orange County has Swedes.  And every mom should LOVE the Swedes.

There is this huge building right off the 405 FWY in Costa Mesa, you may have seen it from time to time.  It’s this discount home furnishing store called “Ikea”, I’m sure I am the very first person to tell you about them because none of you have ever been poor and furnished your first apartment with their products that take all day to put together; and then you grew up and had kids only to go back to their store and buy their products because you were tired of your kids trashing your expensive stuff.  Oops, I lost my point… okay, Ikea is your friend.  As a mom with bored kids during summer, you should love Ikea.

Why do you love Ikea?  Because of their FREE babysitting.  Seriously, not even 24 Hour Fitness, which I pay a hefty monthly membership to, allows my kids to stay for free.  As a matter of fact, it seems like their pricing is always going up for day care and they will call you once you finally start to break a sweat on the treadmill and tell you that your kid looked upset and maybe you should take him home… without a refund.  Awesome.

Again, I regress.  So Ikea has a day care area with a ball pit that my kids love.  You can leave them there for an hour and you should usually show up in the morning, because it does fill up pretty quickly.  Now, the cherry on top of this amazing Swedish Sundae is on Tuesdays kids eat for free at Ikea (thank you Jessica my best deal finding friend).  Alright so let me explain how your Tuesdays should play out:

8am- Throw some food at the children and hope that they don’t hurt themselves or each other as they shovel it down

9am- Open your first soda, take a deep breath and throw them into the car

9:30am- Arrive early to Ikea and remind them how they have to be on their best behavior or else they are grounded for life

10am- Check them into the daycare for an hour and silently thank God for creating Swedes

11am- After casually walking around for an hour, ALONE, you can calmly go pick up the kids from their play area

11:05am- You are already back to being stressed out so head up to the Ikea food court to grab your 2nd coke and the kids free lunch

11:10am- Throw the food at the monsters

11:20am- Finally eat your food while the crazy children play in the play area (small play toys in the eating area) or the kids department (located right next to the food court)

11:45am- Throw the kids back in the car (and the items you bought to recreate something you saw on Pinterest) and drive home.

12:15pm- Turn the television back on for the kids and check the clock to see how much longer you have until your husband is home and can take over corralling the bulls.

SEE!  Your day could have a tiny window of less stress and your kids can have full bellies without you doing the cooking or opening your wallet.  This is a win, win.  I love Ikea.  And now… I’m headed out the door to go check it out.  Sorry daycare staff, I hope they pay you well because my kids are monkeys that still need a lot of training.
Heads up, here is a list of “family friendly” items the Costa Mesa Ikea offer:

IKEA Costa Mesa offers a wide array of family friendly services to make your shopping experience more complete. You will find:

-Smaland: a FREE supervised play area to leave your potty trained children between 37” – 50” for one hour while you shop.
-children’s play areas throughout the store
-family parking
-family restrooms
-shopping strollers
-bibs, bottle warmers, high chairs and a play area for children in the restaurant
-free children’s activities throughout the year
-99¢ menu items for children in our restaurant

The most important people in the world deserve furnishings made just for them. You’ll find plenty of colorful, playful products for kids’ rooms and the family living spaces. And of course, lots and lots of TOYS!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Great Park in Irvine Summer Olympic Games

ParentingOC (that free magazine you look through while waiting in the doctor's office) is sponsoring a fun and FREE event for the kids this Saturday, July 28th at the Great Park in Irvine.  Here are all the details:

Celebrate the start of the Summer 2012 Olympic Games! Join us for a fun-filled day of competition for the kids that will include a variety of Olympic themed games and activities. Visitors will also enjoy arts and crafts, entertainment, vendor booths, a delicious sampling of gourmet food trucks as well asParenting OC’s Parenting & Kids Expo! Space is limited, pre-registration is required. Participants must be entering first through sixth grade in the fall of 2012.
Time(s): 8:00 am - 2:00 pm 
Location:North Lawn 

Hangar Café opens at 6:00 p.m.
Music begins at 8:15 p.m.
Free Admission, $10 Parking
Athlete check-in starts at 8 a.m.
Registration required, spaces limited
Registration closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25
Link for FREE registration:

This is the perfect way to spend Saturday afternoon with the family without spending a ton of money (make sure you pack lunches).  I plan on entertaining Thing #1 with the competitions (I signed him up for 4 of them), Thing #2 with the crafts, and Thing #3 will roll around in his stroller just enjoying the sun.

Are you going to check it out?  Maybe I will see you there!

The Olympics- Craft #1

“The Olympics are coming!  The Olympics are coming!” is exactly what my kids have been screaming for over two months now.  They are so excited for the Olympics that they have been forcing me to watch the Olympic trials (you can find them on Cox On Demand for free) over and over again.  So needless to say, my kids are wanting to one day go to the Olympics as soccer players, gymnasts, track & field stars, and any other sport star that has a chance to win a gold medal.

In an effort to entertain my kids I started to think of fun ways to bring the Olympics into our home for cheap.  So for every day this week we are going to work on one Olympic craft that will get us ready to go for the opening ceremonies this Friday, July 27th (7:30-12:00am on NBC).Our first craft we made today was an Olympic Torch.  My oldest son, Thing #1, did a craft similar to this in his kindergarten class a few months back.  The only problem was they used tissue paper and we didn’t have any.  What we did have was paper and crayons (thank you Back to School sales) so he came up with another way to make it work.  Here are the details:

Olympic Torch Craft for Kids

Items needed:
Water bottle
4 sheets of paper (can also use construction paper or tissue)

Color one sheet of paper red, one sheet yellow, and one sheet orange.  

Thing #1 explained to me that fire has more than just red in it, so this will make it look more “natural”.  One they are colored, rip them into strips.  

Take the strips and bunch them up (twisting the bottom) and shove them into the empty water bottle.  

Lastly, take the last sheet of paper and draw the Olympic rings on it and tape to the bottle.   Enjoy!

Tomorrow we will be working on gold medals.  I have no idea how we will make them, but I have all night to come up with an idea without going to the store and buying items; because I’m tired of finding adorable Pinterest crafts and going to the store and spending $25 to make them.  Doesn’t Pinterest understand?  I’m on a budget!!!

Staples "Back to School" Stock Up

Alright, so July is almost over which means August is almost here which then means… it’s time to start hitting the shops and snagging all the best Back to School deals. 

Back in the day, when I was in school (only a few years ago since I am VERY young *wink*) I remember buying some new clothes, a backpack, and maybe a new pair of shoes.  Now, you go into Target and they have a whole rack with lists for each local elementary school and all of the items they want you to bring in.  The lists are HUGE and with every single item the dollar signs just keep adding up in my head.  The money tree in backyard has yet to start sprouting green leaves, so until that works out for us I am on a tight budget which means I need to shop for the very best deals to keep my costs low.

One of the best “go to” stores during the summer for supplies is Staples.  They usually have great rebates & their penny deals are hard to beat.  The only problem with going to Staples is that they have some tight limits on how many you can buy and you typically have to fill out a rebate form (which most of us forget to do).  However, they are now allowing you to fill out the forms online (which took literally seconds) so it is not nearly as big of a pain since you don’t have to track down an envelope, a stamp, and make copies. 

So I took a trip to Staples this morning and decided to buy some stuff off of their ad (Sunday, July 22nd).  I made sure to read all of the fine print because there were many restrictions such as $5 minimum purchase to receive 2 penny deals (they count the pencils/pens that are free as $4 since you pay out of pocket up front).  The awesome cashier allowed me to break up the items into a few transactions (not all of them will do this, so bring cash and have your kids buy some or go back in a few times throughout the week).  Here is a breakdown of my score:

2 reams of multipurpose paper
4 Highlighters (5 packs)
8 index cards (100 each)
4 cap erasers (12 each)
8 page flags (125 each)
3 post it notes (2- 75 each)
1 mechanical pencil (10 each)
1 ball point pen (5 each)

Out of pocket:  $ 31.07
Rebate cash back: $ 19.98
Total Cost: $11.09

Before typing up this blog post I took a few minutes and filled out my rebates online (once you fill it out the first time it saves your information for your future rebate forms).  I then stapled my confirmation print out to the receipt and put them in my filing cabinet.  I love rebates, but I never seem to keep track of them very well.  This year I’m going to stay organize (my husband might fall in love with me all over again if my organization skills kick in and sticks).

Now run off to Staples and score your own deals and come back let us know how you did!  And while you are shopping for some back to school deals I am going to start getting my grocery coupons together.  Albertsons is calling my name!

Staples ad for 7/22-7/28:

Savology is offer a $15 gift card to Staples for $7.50.  It's only offered to first time customers and only one per household can purchase.  Make sure to pick one up now so that you can use it later with ALL of their awesome deals this summer:


My Very 1st GIVEAWAY!

Can you believe that Growing Oranges is almost 2 months old?  I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.  It has been a great experience and all of the amazing feedback you (my readers) have given me has been wonderful.  So now, it’s time for me to give back to you...

Today is my very first giveaway!.  The Caterpillar Family Shop stepped up to the sponsor plate (love her) by donating an adorable hair clip that would surely be loved by your little girl, or for you to wear (I often rock hair accessories meant for little girls), as a baby shower/birthday gift (I can see a present wrapped in black & white paper with this clip on the very top), or for your favorite niece/cousin/neighbor/friend’s daughter.  And if I didn’t have all boys, I would totally snag this clip for myself.  Lucky for you, I have no girls running around in dresses so that leaves all of you an opportunity to win.  This giveaway is a group effort (thank goodness since I had no idea how to set it up) with my follow mommy bloggers Perfectly Imperfect Mom and The Practically Green Mom .

The owner of The Caterpillar Family Shop, Jessica, is an amazing stay at home mom who spends her free time (aka- Super Mom) making crocheted items including hats for the kids (perfect for our freezing cold winters in Southern California and pictures).   The clip that she has generously donated for our giveaway is a crocheted hot pink and lime green flower clip with a rhinestone that sits in the center to give the clop a little something extra.

Want to win?  Enter below.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cooking with coupon purchased groceries

Keri's Sweet (with a little bit of a kick) Chicken
One of the most common complaints I hear about coupon shopping is that you only buy junk food with coupons and none of the items purchased would actually feed your family for dinner.  So I thought I would post one of our family’s favorite dinner recipes where the ingredients are all items that are regularly on sale with coupons. 

I first learned about this meal from my good friend Keri who is not only an amazing cook but she can also change your car’s oil, rotate your tires, and carry 150 lbs of dead weight without even breaking a sweat.  We went over to her house dinner one evening and once I cut into the chicken, I quickly finished everything on my plate and went back for 2nds… and then 3rds.  I eventually fought my husband over who was going to lick the plate clean.  I won. 

So once you try this recipe and realize how awesome it truly is, make sure you come back and show Keri some love.  She’ll appreciate it.

Sweet (with a little bit of kick) Chicken
1-2lbs of chicken tenders or chicken breasts cut up
Box of Rice Krispies
1/3 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce (original)
½ cup Brown Sugar
1 TBS water
1-2 eggs

Put the Rice Krispies into a large Ziploc bag (you can also use a bowl if you don’t have one) and smash them up.  I like them to be pretty smashed with a few chunks.  In another bowl, have 1-2 beaten eggs in it.
I just smash them with my hand... or let the kids do it.
Take your chicken (1-2 at a time) and dunk it into the beaten egg, making sure it gets fully covered,

Then put inside the Ziploc bag and shake it up. 

Once the chicken is full covered place it on a greased pan. 

Cook chicken at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (depends on how thick your chicken is) until fully cooked.
Right before the chicken is done, in a small sauce pan mix together the hot sauce, brown sugar, and water.  Bring to a boil while continuously stirring.  I usually taste test it at this point.  My kids don’t like it too spicy, so after I make theirs I will add more hot sauce for my husband and me.  Or, I will keep their chicken plain without the sauce.
I need a new wooden spoon- but I love it!

Once the chicken is cooked, take it out and dip them into the sauce making sure you cover them completely. 

Serve with some ranch or blue cheese, mashed potatoes, and your favorite veggie. 
Yummy perfection!

* The sauce can be a little spicy, so if you don’t like food with a “kick” consider using a smaller amount of Frank’s sauce in the beginning before adding more. 

** Coating the chicken with Rice Krispies can be done with many other substitutes such as Ritz Crackers, breadcrumbs, or other cereals like Captain Crunch and Frosted Flakes.  I just prefer Rice Krispies with the sauce.

Just for a litte bit more tease, this is what I cooked for dessert.  It's the Texas Sheet Cake from The Pioneer Woman.  It's an easy dessert to make (most the ingredients found in every homes cabinets) and as long as you have powdered chocolate (which I do just for this dessert). 

My mouth is watering...

Here is a link to the recipe:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Couponing in the OC

How you can easily stretch $100 at the grocery store.
Paying for groceries is something that I use to dread.  I looked at my cart filled with food and thought of all the shoes that I could have bought instead; however, CPS (so I’ve been told) frowns upon parents who don’t feed their children.  So with tears in my eyes, I would slide my debit card through the machine and leave with a few bags and about $100 less in my account.

Eventually I got a little bit smarter and started clipping coupons.  I thought coupon shopping would be a waste of time until I started to see how much I could save.  On a typical day (before coupons) I would walk into a grocery store and spend about $60 and leave with a few items for dinner and a couple miscellaneous items.  Now, I sit down for a few minutes and go over what’s on sale; from that list I make a meal plan (planning out your meals for the week helps save a LOT of money) and then I clip my coupons (there are many options on how to do this, if you are interested in my ideas then I can make a blog post about that on another day) and head out to the store.  On average it takes 30-60 minutes to prepare for the store and I do it all in the evening when the kids are in bed, then you can find me at the grocery store around 9-10pm maybe once or twice a week.   

To find the deals, I go on MANY different blogs.  I started in the beginning with a basic website called thegrocerygame.com where you pay a set amount (around $15 every couple of months) and they do almost all the work for.  But now that TLC has come out with their coupon show, it seems like every day a new blog starts with the same information for free.  One of my “Go To” websites for Orange County deals is OCDealMama.com.  It’s a great resource for finding regional deals.

So here is my most recent “score”.  This isn’t “Extreme Couponing” like you would see on television, but it’s a basic shopping trip. Most the items I purchased are to be stored for the upcoming school year (yes, I am admitting it on the internet for all to read… occasionally I will give my children a Pop Tart when we are running late to school.  This huge lot of Pop Tarts will last a very long time, so stop judging). 

The breakdown from my grocery store trip at Alberstons:
3-    Everyday Essential Fruit Snack
6-    Mott Applesauces (6 packs)
9-    Kellogg Cereals
3-    Olympic/Kellogg’s Cereal Bowls
4-    Honey Nut Cereals
9-    Frozen OJ
8-    Popsicles
3-    Tyson Chicken Strips
4-    Jennie O Lean Ground Turkey
12-  Pop Tarts
2-    Snackwell Cookies
4-    Gallons of Distilled Water
5-    Minute Maid fruit punch/lemonade
2-    Anthony’s Pasta
4-    Capri Suns
3-    Blue Bunny Ice Cream
2-    Jamba Juice (the frozen mix packs)
2 doz-    Large Eggs
3lbs-      Plums
2lbs-      Peaches

Total Spent:        $99.94
Total Saved:       $176.35

I love to save money.  I’m not the very best at it, but I try to save as much as I can on all purchases (big and small).  In upcoming blog posts I will share with you what works best in our home for saving money.  Now again, I’m not the best… but I’m still surviving staying-at-home in Orange County even with a freshly squeezed budget, so I can’t be that bad!

Are you a coupon shopper?  Do you use online websites?  If so, what websites do you like best?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cheap baby food!

Did you see my post on Facebook?  If you "liked" us... then hurry up so you wont ever miss out on a deal!

I'm a mom who enjoys making her own baby food, however, Thing #3 is now a year old and still not doing that great with table food so it's becoming cheaper to buy some organic baby food; especially since he wants a huge variety of flavors.  But baby food is EXPENSIVE.  So as a mom on a freshly squeezed budget, I'm always looking for a deal.  And I stumbled upon one today:

Plum District has a certificate for $15 and you get a $30 credit for Ecomom.com.  They also have a 20% off discount code (Plum District)- GOBTS- so it comes to $12 for a $30 credit.  Ecomom.com is currently selling 6 packs of Plum Organics baby pouches for $7.43-10 (depending on flavor) and if you buy $50 worth of product it is free shipping.

So here is was I bought:
6- 6packs (36 total) of Plum Orgnaics food (different variety)
2- spoons (the ones that attach to your pouches)

$23 total (including tax & shipping) from Ecomom.com + $12 for the certificate=
$35 (cheaper than $1 a pouch)

Want in on the deal, check it out here:

Make sure you get the deal today before the codes expire & the baby food sells out!

The OVERPRICED oc fair is in town!

So my Facebook feed has been swamped with people posting their pictures from the OC Fair.  Have you thrown the family in the car yet and driven to Costa Mesa for a day filled with overpriced rides, expensive deep friend chicken legs wrapped in 1 lb. of bacon, and indulged in the numerous carnival games that are almost impossible to win? 

Can you tell how I feel about the fair?  I feel bad, I really wished I loved it... but I don't.  I'm a mom with three kids on a VERY freshly squeezed budget and I'm honestly not nearly as patient as I wish I was.  I will confess: there have been times in my kids life where I have had to raise my voice; there have been times where I have had to raise my voice every other minute for every hour for every day for a week straight.  And the crowds at the fair, while keeping track of all of them, listening to them whine about what they want to eat or what ride they want to go on, while adding up the expense... will put me in a hospital!

So, I avoid the fair.  My nerves thank me.  My husband (the penny counter) thanks me.  And my oranges that have almost nothing left to squeeze... really thank me.

Your turn:
Are you going to skip the fair this year in an effort to avoid hospitalization fees?  Will you go and end up regretting it when you realize (after you come home) how much you spent?  Are is the fair the very best thing since New Kids on the Block and you think its a reasonable price?

Just remember-- that $100+ you spend could have been spent on a nice relaxing day at a spa WITHOUT your kids! ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spruce up a boring hallway

We have a hallway.  Thats the end to that sentence since there is nothing else to explain about it.  It is a hallway; a long, boring, dark hallway.  So I decided to spruce it up a little.

I found a vinyl quote on clearance at Target.  Usually I'm not a fan of vinyl lettering on my walls, but once I read the quote ("I dream of painting and then I paint my dream- VanGough") I thought it would be perfect.  So I paid $3 and headed out to Home Depot.

After walking up and down a few aisles I finally found the eye hooks and picture frame wiring.  I grabbed the sizes that I wanted, paid for them (of course), and with extreme excitement I headed home to put it all on my wall.

So, here is the final outcome of my hallway renovation (I found the clips at Ikea, but you could probably find them at Target or any other superstore):

My kids art in my boring hallway... perfection.

My kids love to come home and fill it with their artwork and I love to walk past it (while headed to do laundry) and remind myself how awesome they are (even when they are in the background screaming or farting or burping or any other nasty body noise). 

Hope this project helps give you some ideas on how to fill a wasted space with... priceless art!

Homemade Uncrustables

My kids LOVE Smuckers Uncrustable Sandwiches.  I don’t know if it’s the fluffy white bread, all the junk inside, or the cute little round shape with the sides sealed together and the crust cut off.  I will even admit to enjoying them myself, however, I don’t enjoy the price.  Those puppies are expensive.  Another problem, they are filled with peanut butter.  Not a big deal, unless you have a child with food allergies or a school that prohibits any nuts (like ours). 

So I decided to do a little research and figure out a way that I could make them at home for a cheaper price and pick whatever I want to fill it with.  The first option that I stumbled upon was The Cut & Seal from Pampered Chef.  Everything about it sounded great, however, I would have to locate someone who sold Pampered Chef and deal with the continuous phone calls I would receive afterwards (no offense, love the stuff… just don’t always love the sales calls).  I also did some more research and found that it was not dishwasher safe; that right away made me cross it off my list. 

Then I came across the Krustbuster.  After reading a few reviews, I clicked the “purchase” key ($6 plus shipping) and patiently waited for it to arrive at my doorstep.  When it finally showed up (about a week later) I ripped it open and tested it out.  The result: I fell in love!

I was able to use wheat bread (sorry kids, mommy prefers wheat over white) and my own peanut butter & jelly.  I made my sandwich, put it inside the Krustbuster, pushed it down, opened it up, and pulled it out.  It was easy and my kids didn’t even realize that it wasn’t made by Smuckers.

I'm learning to not put the Peanut Butter & Jelly too close to the outside.  That way, once the crust is cut off I can put it in a ziplock bag and use it for breadcrumbs. Never one to let anything go to waste!

And of course the kid in me decided to play around, so I put some cheese in it, smashed it up, pulled it out, and then threw it on a pan.  Yes, I made grilled cheese uncrustables and they were good!  My plan during the school year is to make a bunch of these sandwiches using sunflower seed butter, freeze them, and pull them out in the morning for their lunches as we are running out the door.   

Purchase on Amazon:

Check out their website with more information and ideas:
My question for all of you:  Would you ever use this?  Would you like to see me give one away?!  Leave a comment letting me know, and maybe I can work out a little giveaway so that one of you can enjoy your own Homemade Uncrustables without having to pay for it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 3- Bryce Canyon, Sister Wives, and Banana Boats

Our third day of the vacation ended up being my very favorite day.  I wasn’t expecting it to be, especially with my kids and their non-stop bickering; but their brotherly love couldn’t even ruin our day, we got to experience the amazing, beautiful, and incredibly breathtaking Bryce Canyon. 

The beginning of our morning started out great when Keri made us a Birds Nest for breakfast (recipe to follow blog post), which tasted great and was one of those “one pan meals” which was guys liked because they did the dishes afterwards.  We then packed up the boys (yes, no little girls between us… two families… six boys) and headed out. 

Stopping in a little town along our way I got my first glance of real life Sister Wife.  Unlike that show on TLC, this wife didn’t look like you and I.  She was dressed in a long dress (something you saw back in the day on Little House on the Prairie) with a bonnet, boots, and her long hair.  Sadly, I couldn’t look away.  I was in shock, even though we’ve all heard of polygamist it just seems weird to actually see one.  Then I felt bad, like I should grab her and smuggle her to California and hide her from the pervert old man she was forced to marry (again, reality is nothing like that TLC show).  But, my husband wouldn’t allow me to kidnap her (or the cowboy that also looked very tempting to take home) so we continued on.

When we pulled into Bryce Canyon it looked just like any other park; a few trees and some grass.  We sat in our car scratching our heads at why this would be considered a National Park and why there were so many people pulling in behind us.  Then we parked our car, got out, and walked over to the lookout.  This is what we saw:

Bryce Canyon

After our jaws dropped open and we finished taking a TON of photos, we threw the kids on our backs, shoved the water in our pockets, tightened our shoelaces, and headed down the very steep trail to the bottom.  The red sand was formed into these odd shapes called “hoodoos” which from a distance were impressive but from up close were magnificent.  I could try to come up with a few more adjectives to explain how I felt, but instead… here are some pictures, you tell me what you think:

Bryce Canyon
Random Tree growing in between the rock

The trail going down- filled with switchbacks
At the end of the trail, this was your view
Wonder what I looked like?  This is me, my patient husband, and Thing #3

After a long day hiking down the hoodoos, we headed back to camp.  The kids enjoyed a round of miniature golf while Keri cooked up some sausage & potatoes (another one pan recipe).  At the end of the night we made some yummy Banana Boats (thank you Pioneer Woman) and some Roasted Starbursts (yes, you actually put the starburst on the stick and cook them over the fire… try it).   
I forgot to take a picture of the roasted Starburst (bad blogger), this picture is borrowed from mommygoingcrazy.blogspot.com

Sadly, this was our last night camping.  It was bittersweet as we started to get our stuff organized for our departure the next morning.  But the little cherry on top of our three night stay was that evening taking $5 zip line adventure... in the dark!  It was an awesome experience and a reasonable price (done at the Ponderosa) which got us very excited to set off for our next stop… the Grand Canyon!

If you haven’t already “liked” us on Facebook, make sure you do!  I often post daily deals that don’t get posted on this blog and I ramble… which at times can be mildly entertaining! J  Also make sure to “follow” our blog so that you will be notified when there is a new blog post.  I would hate for you to miss any of our awesomeness!

Up next:  Day 4- The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Birds Nest Recipe (AKA- Hen House)

Hash browns (one container of the dry Costco hash browns)
Eggs (we used about 6)
Sausage (one package of Jimmy Dean)
Onion (about half of a yellow onion)
Cheese (as much as your family enjoys)

Brown sausage in skillet.

Add hash browns when sausage is cooked & drained.

Leave a little grease in the pan- cook until almost done. Add onions, stir & cook. Add eggs to sausage mixture and cook.

When eggs are done add cheese and melt. Serve with toast and fruit.

Banana Boats (from The Pioneer Woman)-

We’ve made these at home also, just cooked in our oven.  The kids love them!

8 bananas
1 bag caramel bits or caramels cut into bits
1 bag chocolate chips
1 bag mini marshmallows
1 package original graham crackers, crushed into crumbs

Split the bananas lengthwise, but don't cut all the way through. The goal is to create a boat to hold the ingredients. Load the bananas 1/4 cup each of the caramel bits, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Crumble 1 whole graham cracker onto each loaded banana. Wrap individually in 8-by-10-inch squares of foil, and then place near the campfire to melt the candies. Open up and eat with a spoon.