Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smoke Smells...

Smoke is such a hard smell to get out of things =( A friend asked me if I had any suggestions on how to get a smoke smell out of something. This is what I've found...

Books--I haven't found a way for the smell to be taken out. I even put baking soda in a plastic bag and sealed the book inside for several days. No improvement. Now, I'm a lot more careful (and discrete) about trying to smell a book before I buy it if I'm suspicious at all at a thrift store, consignment sale, or a garage sale. All I could do with the book was recycle it.

Clothes--I use cold/cold water in my machine (per Miserly Moms money saving tips) and I have had good luck adding oxiclean powder with All free and clear. I usually wash the clothes once or twice and the smell has gone away. If the smell is really strong, I add a lot of oxiclean =)

Stuffed Animals--I made a mistake one time and forgot to ask an eBay seller about whether her home was smoke free. =( It wasn't. So, I recieved a very strongly smelling monkey in the mail. I washed it with oxiclean and All probably 10 times. It still smelled a bit so I let it sit in my laundry room for months. I would throw it in with the wash once in a while. Finally, it smells okay. I learned a huge lesson with that one!

Plastic--Vinegar. When our dog had diarrhea, I used the dog spray the pet store sold, but the only thing that really worked was plain white vinegar. I think that would be the best thing to work on plastic, too, if you could smell cigarette smoke around a plastic item. At least it's worth a try =)

What have you used? Have you had any luck with using other cleaners to get rid of the smell of smoke?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Time vs. Money

This week has been crazy busy for me. I've had to spend more money on things than I've wanted to at times because I didn't have time to go to the shop that I knew had it for less or I didn't have time to shop around. Not being able to shop around has been something I've been having to let go of this year as our time needed for homeschooling has increased and so has time for the kids activities and running around.

Here's the choices I made this week. I had time Friday afternoon to go to Target and look at nightgowns and pajamas for the kids. The Circo nightgowns were $8 and the princess ones were $12, I think. I didn't like any of them. The princess ones felt skimpy to me and there weren't any designs I really liked for the girls. For Eli, the pajamas were $12 or $15 depending on the set. I thought I would go look at Kohl's later.

Yesterday, we went to Payless to look for shoes for all 3 kids. No sale, so the sandals were $15 and there were only plain white in the girls' size (both wear a 10). I did find a pair of shoes for Eli that come on and off easily though for $10 and I was thankful for that. So, then we went on to Kohl's hoping to find what we needed.

And we did...but for a little more. The nightgowns for the girls were really cute. I bought them a Kohl's brand nightgown for $9.30 after discount and 2 Carter's nightgowns that were $12.60 after discount. Eli's shorts pajamas were 2 sets for $13 and 1 3pc for the same price after the discount. So, Eli's were the same price as at Target =) Yay! But, the girls cost a little more for each one. In the end, I knew I didn't have time to run around and that both my husband and I liked these nightgowns--they were cute and would wear well over time for the girls this summer. I thought it was worth the extra few dollars.

Then, I took them over to the shoe department. I don't know what it is about Kohl's and shoes, but it is one of the hardest places for me to find shoes! They are always in disarray and there's rarely the size I'm looking for. I finally found one pair that was the right style for Sami and one for Autumn. Different styles for the first time. They've always had the same in the past, but their feet are just a little different in size and so they need different sized 10s. So funny. Autumn's Sandals were $15.30 after discount--almost the same as Payless. Sami's though were $17 =( I know I could have gotten less expensive sandals at Target, but I liked the soles on these and felt they were the right ones for each of my girls. In the end, I think the amount that I spent more at Kohls' vs. Target and Payless was $16 for everything.

I guess the good thing in all of this is that I don't have to stress next week about trying to fit all of this in or trying to shop around. I know that having to spend a little more means that I will end up spending a little less on other things, but that's okay =)

So, I'm trying to learn to accept this and not feel guilty that I don't have the time to shop around more right now =)

Not all Sponges are the Same!

I never knew this until recently. Usually when I have the choice between a generic and brand name, I choose the generic unless I have a coupon or the brand name is on sale. There are a few things over the years that I have come to prefer the brand name over generic for...

1) chocolate chips
2) cereal
3) deodorant and soap for my husband (there isn't a generic of what he uses)
4) hot sauce
5) ketchup/mayo

And now I have a new one to add to my list...
6) Kitchen Sponges =)

I have been buying the generic sponges at Aldi's (foam with green scrubby on them) for almost 4 years. Before we moved here, I used to have a lot of coupons for sponges and we didn't have Aldi's, so I bought Chore Boy sponges or Scotch Brite. The sponges haven't lasted very well and have done a competent job of cleaning, but not a great one. But, they were cheaper =) so I kept buying them not thinking it would be worth it to spend a little more.

I think I was wrong.

Costco had a coupon for ScotchBrite sponges this month and so I bought a big package of them (15 for $7, I think). I opened up the first one this week and it was such a blessing to me! It works! Really well! =) Although we have a dishwasher, I have to wash a lot of dishes by hand, so having a good sponge makes a big difference in the difficulty of my chores every day.

I don't think I want to go back to the Aldi sponges again...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Resurrection Eggs

I've decided that I really want to do something simple each day for the days leading up to Easter this year with the kids. I found this website with print outs for the insides that go in the Resurrection Eggs. Then they're free if you use eggs you already have =)

There's also a cover for the lapbook and other pages. I thought these pages looked great =)

Monday, March 15, 2010

One more website

I was reading the HSLDA magazine for this month and they listed this blog: http://www.homeschoolforfree.net/

On this website, I found a link to this free lapbook (just scroll down and print out the individual pages): http://www.homeschoolshare.com/legend_of_the_easter_egg.php

I've wanted to try lapbooking, but didn't want to spend money on any. So, this easter egg one looks like a great one to help me figure out how to do it!

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/jaminacema/228122/ is a website with directions on how to make a lapbook and lots of lapbooking resources (many are free).

http://www.homeschoolingonashoestring.com/lapbooks.html is a website with some youtube videos linked on how to make the lapbooks =)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Free Homeschooling Resources

This week, I found several free homeschool resources that I really liked and want to spend more time exploring...

www.progressivephonics.com It's an online program that's entirely free, you just have to register. One person emailed and said they weren't able to register, but I didn't have a problem. I'm not sure why she wasn't able to register. I haven't heard that from anyone else, though. The program looked really thorough and I liked the books and worksheets that were free to print out!

www.amblesideonline.com It's a Charlotte Mason program that's free online. It was an encouragement to me even though I'm not really Charlotte Mason in approach. I liked reading the extra reading lists and it recommended several other sites.

www.notebookingpages.com When you subscribe, they send you a link to a few free pages each month. This was the page for last month or this month (I can't remember) but it was a neat organizer that I'm going to print out part of. The blank pages from this website lend themselves to Charlotte Mason type homeschooling.

www.simplycharlottemason.com This is a website that again talks about Charlotte Mason education, but there are several free e-books on it. One of them is Smooth and Easy Days. On page 43 of the book, there is a list of character traits to teach our children. I think at the very least, it is a good list of the words we can use with our children to articulate to them what we are teaching them. The other parts of the book (especially the first few pages) were encouraging to me. I haven't read a lot more than the first few pages, though.

www.chartjungle.com Has a lot of free forms for that you can use with homeschooling. It takes a bit to find the ones you want, but not too long.

www.thehomeschoolmom.com This website has lots of resources listed--many free ones. Some aren't current, but it's still fun to browse =)

The book I'm reading right now is Homeschooling at the speed of life by Marilyn Rockett. It comes with a cd with a lot of forms on it. I am really enjoying it. It is a book written by a veteran homeschool mom for homeschool moms--it is not written by a school teacher writing to homeschool moms like a book I reviewed recently was. Her website is: www.marilynrockett.com I actually spoke to her on the phone and had a very encouraging conversation with her =)

Well, I better get to the laundry...

Finally, I'm reading a book called Homeschooling at the Speed of Life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Treats that are worth it and treats that aren't

Tonight the kids and I went out to eat at the chinese restaurant we love. I was so proud of them. They really did quite well. It cracks me up that they love the General Tso's chicken which does have a bit of zing. They all love it! Eli slurped up his lo mein noodles and ate his chicken and rice. Autumn loved everything and cleaned her plate. And then there was Sami. Dear Sami. She ate chicken. Just chicken. No lo mein. A tiny bite of broccoli and a tiny bite of corn. But not even any rice. Silly girl.

Afterwards, I thought it would be fun to go get a small cookie at Vaccarro's bakery in the mall. I was quickly reminded when the cashier rang me up why I bake my own cookies. It was $3.35 for 3 small cookies. At least he had given us one for free. Goodness! I definitely won't do that again.

I think a much better treat for the same $ is to go to Starbucks and get the kids each a kid hot chocolate. I think they're only $1.15 each and they get to feel very special like an adult. They don't heat the hot chocolate too hot. If you have a rewards card that you refill, then soy and flavoring are also free--I suspect if you had allergies to milk, you'd be able to get your child a small soy hot chocolate for the same price =)

Next time, I think we'll pass on the cookies and go for the hot chocolates instead and a place to sit down and enjoy them =)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut Butter Ball Recipes
Everywhere I go, people call these different things. Peanut butter balls, bon-bons, bulls eyes, etc. =)

Recipe filling #1

Mix 1 cup creamy peanut butter or chunky peanut butter (choose which you like)--I like Skippy Natural because it doesn't have any hydrogenated oils.
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Mix well till smooth with mixer. Then add and stir in:
1 cup chopped pretzels (small pieces)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Chill dough until firm--a few hours (2-4) Pull out the dough and shape into small balls. Shape all the balls before you get ready to dip them in the chocolate.

Recipe filling #2

1/4 cup butter melted
8 oz powdered sugar
6 oz. chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (optional)
3/4 cup coconut (optional)
3/4 cup mini chips or pecans chopped (optional)

Shape into 1 inch ball. That recipe doesn't call for chilling. If it sticks just wash your hands and then keep going (at least that's what I do =) ).

I've tried a couple of things. I hate to do the shortening thing, but somehow it's easier for me to do that then adding parrafin wax and some recipes call for that. I kept trying recipes with butter, but they never came out very well. So, this year I did the shortening and it worked a lot better.

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening (crisco) in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.
Microwave at 50% power for a minute then stir. Continue for 30 second intervals, stirring each time until it's smooth.

If you try that coating recipe and it's too runny, the other recipe I have calls for 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 1 1/2 Tbsp. shortening. The last time I did them, I did the first ratio of 2 Tbsp. and it worked pretty well.

I love peanut butter balls. They are so dangerous for me to have in the freezer! =)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Picky Eaters

Humbled. It is good to be reminded how much I have to learn! I love to encourage and help people but I need to remember how much God wants me to listen to what others have to share with me! I was reminded of this tonight as a sweet new friend encouraged me about family eating habits. I know she is right.

Eating habits and kids are such hard calls! There's so much involved. Food allergies, personalities, strong wills, sensitive stomachs, and I'm sure there's many more things that affect what kids will and will not eat. In our house, we have the strong wills to contend with. Autumn will eat just about anything--she always has. Sami won't. She just won't. Eli is somewhere in between. He surprises me often like he did tonight when he tried the artichoke leaf dipped in butter--as did Autumn, but not Sami.

I think I've gotten so upset about it that I finally realized I have to get better about not taking it personally and thinking about my motives for being upset in the first place. I think most issues with our kids really come back to us. At least they often do for me.

I'm reading a book called The Silent Seduction of Self Talk by Shelly Beach as a part of my devotions in the morning. I've only finished 2 chapters, but it has called me on the carpet!

So, I think I first have to get myself calmed down and get perspective about Sami's eating (what's really important and what's not) and then I'll be able to press on and continue to introduce new foods to her =)

Chicken Divan Sauce

This is the sauce recipe:

In a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup, melt 3 Tbsp. butter. Blend in 3 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1-2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard (French's is less spicy than Gulden's) to taste. (The mustard gives it a nice little tang).
Microwave for 45 seconds, then stir 2 x
Stir in 1 cup of milk and 1 cup chicken bouillon until well blended.
Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir.
Microwave for 2 more minutes. Stir. Repeat microwaving and stirring until sauce is thickened.
Add 1 cup cheddar cheese (sharp white cheddar gives the best flavor, though, if you have it) Add up to 2 cups if you like a really cheesy sauce =) I would recommend starting with 1 cup and then tasting the sauce and then adding more from there.
and 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce.
Stir until smooth.

Use this sauce with the recipe that I posted earlier =)