DIY Nursing Tank

Let’s be upfront and honest – babies are expensive. One of the many great ways to try and save money is to nurse instead of formula feed, but even that comes with hidden costs. Nursing specific shirts are expensive, and even plain tanks are $20+. I also always hated that to have the support I needed I would have to wear a nursing bra along with a nursing tank. This time around I tried to be a little more money smart! My sister-in-law showed me these ingenious nursing tanks called Undercover Mama, but at $25 a pop and limited color choices I wasn’t 100% behind taking the plunge and buying them… but I was all about making my own!

What You’ll Need:

1 tank of your choosing (I got a bunch of $1.80 tanks from forever21)
1 pair of scissors
1 needle
1 spool of thread (I just used white, but you can find an exact match if you want)

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Step 1:
Cut the strap off the back.

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Step 2:
Cut the strap off the front, leaving about 1 ½ to 2 inches.

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Step 3:
Looping the strap around, stitch it into a tiny loop.

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Once you’re done stitching both sides the tank will look like this:IMG_6735

The loops attach to the front of any nursing bra with clips.IMG_6737

When you unhook the bra, the tank will go with it!IMG_6738

That’s it! A super quick and easy nursing tank for less than $2 each! You can wear it under any shirt, and just lift the over shirt up and you’re midsection will be covered.

Hope you enjoy saving money ;)

Celebrating Spring In A Messy Fun Way!

This week is our spring break.  Yesterday was a gorgeous day and we spent the day outside getting dirty and completely worn out!  Today, however, I woke up to this.

blog1Not exactly the weather I was hoping for!  I am helping a friend out this week and have a total of 6 children running around my house, so I knew I had to plan something to keep them occupied!

I decided to dye eggs.  Yes, you may think that I was crazy to attempt to dye eggs inside with 6 children age 1 year old to 10, but I am a firm believer in organization when it come to things like this.  So while they were enjoying watching Star Wars I got my act together.

This year I decided to forgo buying the easter egg kits at the store.  I really don’t use the wire egg thing, it doesn’t work well for me, so it was cheaper to use regular food coloring.

blog2After scouring Pinterest and finding the  “perfect” recipe, I realized it was the same recipe that is on the box of food coloring!

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I had to get fancy and get the neon food coloring, cause who wants boring old colors when you can light up your life with neon!

I set up the station, taking care to cover the entire table with plastic.

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Then I let the kids go at it!  They had a blast, although what I thought would take about 30 minutes was done in 5!  Clean up wasn’t bad.  Make sure to keep baking soda on handy to get stains off of hands!!!

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The colors turned out awesome!!!

After the eggs I decided to bring on an edible craft.

blog6When I was younger the only reason I liked having chow mein for dinner was being able to snack on the left over crunch noodles the next day!  All you need for this edible craft is a can of chow mein noodles, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1 lb melting chocolate (you can get it at Hobby Lobby or Michaels) and a bag of the mini cadbury eggs.

Melt the peanut butter and chocolate over a double boiler.  blog7  Keep the heat low and melt it till the chocolate is nice and shiny.  Once it is melted, turn off the heat and add in the chow mein noodles, stirring until  they are completely covered.

Now you can bring the kids in!!  Cover a mini muffin tin with saran wrap and let them use spoons (or their hands)  to form “nests” in the holes.  Let them add three eggs to each “nest”.  Put them aside to dry.

They may not look the nicest at this point.

blog9However, the kids had a blast, got to lick chocolate off their fingers and have a grand old time!  Plus when they cool and you take them out of the tins, they do look more like nests!

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Now if only it were naptime now!!!

 

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Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, NC

I’m always on the lookout for a fun and safe place for my kids to explore and play. The Marbles Kids Museum here in Raleigh is the perfect place for those days that are too cold, rainy or hot to play outdoors. There is so much for kids to do that it is really hard to fit it all in on one outing. Many times when we go to Kids Museums I end up thinking that my kids are too little to enjoy the museum fully, but Marbles has activities and centers for all ages, including little ones.

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Parents will find so many fun things to do, too!

We spent a lot of time in the Around Town exhibit where kids can explore and use pretend play to do things they see grown-ups doing all the time. One of Lanae’s favorites was the Market. She loves to go grocery shopping and she thought it was so neat that she could grab her own cart and throw in whatever she wanted without me saying “Don’t touch that!” I was so pleased when she went straight for the fruits and vegetables.

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The Around Town exhibit has so many other things to explore including cars, boats, and firetrucks that kids can actually pretend to drive. It has a little nurses station and school area. It also has a fully equipped play kitchen and farm where kids can create meals or milk a cow. There are also several small tables with different toys kids can play with including dinosaurs and trains.

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Lanae loved the huge pirate ship in the Splash exhibit. She climbed up and down the ladder multiple times and loved looking out over the bow of the boat. We also enjoyed a little down time on the hammock in the pirate ship and relaxed a bit in the Under the Waves room. Owen loved looking at the fish in the little aquarium.

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My kids are notorious for their straight faces, even when they are having fun. I think they get that from me…IMG_9098

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And of course, we couldn’t pull Lanae away from the Lighthouse section where she actually got to play in the water.

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After almost two hours of playing, we finally made it upstairs and realized that the museum had so much more to offer. We built some cars and raced them down a huge track. I thought it was so neat that we got to build our own cars. Lanae was drawn over to the arts and crafts table where they could create art using paper, strings, cloth, pencils, crayons, glue and more. We really wished we could have spent more time there.

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Some of the things we didn’t get to before closing time include the work bench where kids can use real saws to cut and build,  super structures–which is basically a big room filled with legos, and the outdoor gardens. There were several other exhibits that were geared more towards older kids, but looked really fun. The Power2Play exhibit had a basketball hoop and some neat athletic equipment for kids to use. I’m really excited to go back and try it out with my kids in the future.

After play time, we were all starving from playing so hard all morning. We decided to check out the Pogo Cafe. The food was healthy and delicious, my picky little Lanae couldn’t get enough of my sweet potato fries. And she loved daddy’s chicken Pogo stix. I enjoyed a delicious turkey, bacon and swiss sandwich called the Gobbler. I was too hungry (and it was too delicious) to take a picture.

As we were leaving, my husband and I were already talking about what we would like to do next time. This really is the perfect place to bring your kids to let them explore and play on a rainy day! If you have the chance, I would highly recommend that you check out the Marbles Kids Museum here in Raleigh.

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Coca-Cola Cake

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My Step Dad used to always talk about a Coca-Cola cake his grandma made when he was little. Obviously all it took were the words “Coca-Cola cake” for me to take to the internet scouring recipes. This was the best one I found..and let me tell you. It. Is. Amazing.

Here’s What you need:

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For the Cake:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup butter

1/4 cup unsweetened coca powder

1 cup coca-cola

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1stp vanilla

For the Glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup unsweetened coca powder

1/2 cup coca-cola

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

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Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a big bowl.

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In a saucepan over medium high heat, boil the butter, coco powder, coca-cola, and buttermilk.

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Add this mix to the flour mixture.

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Add in the eggs and the vanilla.

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Pour into a greased 13×9 inch pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. A few minutes before the cake is done, work on the glaze. Mix in a saucepan until boiling the butter, coco powder, and coca-cola.

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Bring to a boil, and then add in the powdered sugar.

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Add in the nuts.

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Pour over the warm cake.

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That’s it! Quick and easy.

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And DELICIOUS.

Enjoy!

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Amy’s Favorite Things

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A busy mom has to find a few helpful items to make every day a little easier.  Here are some of my favorite things that make my busy life so much more manageable!

Beaba Babycook

Photo Credit: Beaba.com

Photo Credit: Beaba.com

I don’t consider myself the stereotypical hippy dippy, cloth diapering, organic everything type of moms but I do find something very comforting in knowing where my six month old son’s food comes from.  Don’t get me wrong, if I had the time, patience, energy, and money I would totally do everything to fit that stereotype but modern conveniences have invaded my tight schedule as a full time working mom.  The Beaba Babycook easily fits into said schedule as an all in one way to prepare my son’s favorites (specifically sweet potatoes and bananas).  I can set the veggies to steam and come back to it in 15 minutes to puree them and boom: Baby food for a week.  I even invested in the portioned silicone freezer trays so leftovers don’t go to waste.

 

Samsung Galaxy

Photo Credit: trustedreviews.com

Photo Credit: trustedreviews.com

About a year and a half ago my husband said something crazy: Why don’t we get something other than iPhone?  I know what you hardcore Apple fans are thinking because I had the same thought…HE’S GONE CRAZY!  He took himself to the store when we were eligible for an upgrade and got himself the Samsung Galaxy III. Within an hour of him having it I knew I needed one too.  I will never go back to an iPhone now that I’ve changed it up.  The most important feature to me is the photo quality and the Samsung has it leaps and bounds over the iPhone.  Bonus: the screen is big enough for my daughter to watch Mickey without squinting or holding the phone too close.

 

Stila Stay All Day Foundation

Photo Credit: Sephora.com

Photo Credit: Sephora.com

Sure it’s not cheap but it comes with a compact mirror, foundation applicator, a brush, the foundation, and concealer!  It hides those little imperfections for a flawless finish and it stays put without drying out or settling into those pesky fine lines I’m noticing as my 30’s march on.

 

Yogi Bedtime Tea

Photo Credit: iherb.com

Photo Credit: iherb.com

I wish this tea didn’t relax me so much because I would drink it all day every day for the taste alone.  No sugar, lemon or honey needed for this lightly sweet barely minty tea.  If you need a solid restful night’s sleep give this a try and let me know what you think.

 

DVD Blue Ray Digital Copy Combo Packs

Photo Credit: amazon.com

Photo Credit: amazon.com

Frozen: Now available in every room, any time, all day, every day at our house.  Keeps toddler happily entertained while mom can finish writing blog.

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Bring Some Sanity Back Into Your Life

I have always loved the idea of behavior charts for kids.  I have always loved the idea of rewarding the good behavior, but until last year I have never been able to make one work.   By the end of the day it was hard to determine whether the behavior had been good enough for a reward or not.  Let’s face it, kids have ups and downs during the day!  Plus, add it your level of tiredness it makes it almost impossible to answer that question.

After looking online for a LONG time, I was able to combine a few ideas into behavior charts that work well with my kids and our hectic lifestyle.  Throughout the day you are able to move your child up or down levels.  I have made a chart for my kiddos that show their interests, for my 7 year old son he has one that shows his love for Greek mythology.

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For my daughter it was easy, she loves her princess’s.  So I did one for her.   DSC_0004

What I like about this system is that throughout the day you can encourage good behavior and work on negative behavior.  They start the day on “Frog” or “Hercules”.  It is their choice whether they move up or down during the day.  If they move down a discipline is outlined clearly for each level. I have used “time out”, “loss of technology time” meaning no tv, no computer, no gaming systems, and then the bottom level depends on the action.  Usually this is grounding or having privilages taken away.   This takes the emotion out of dealing with less than stellar behavior.  So on those days where you have no patience and feel like your children are pushing you to have a “wine breakfast” you don’t have to worry about over-reacting!

Now if I could just find a chart that works on my husband……..

 

 

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Cheesy Eggs & Potatoes Recipe

eggs5There’s not a lot about making breakfast that I enjoy.  I’m half asleep, the coffee’s still brewing, children are lying prostrate on the floor complaining that they’re starving and need something “NOOOOOOOWWWWW”, and it seems like everything takes forever.  This recipe was the invention that came from my exhaustion and needing something warm, filling, and fast for breakfast and boy do these cheesy eggs & potatoes fit those requirements!  Warm, yummy, takes 15 minutes to make a big batch, and you only dirty one skillet & a knife!  It’s not exactly a pretty meal, but throw a little fruit on the plate and you can even pat yourself on the back for promoting good nutrition!

Ingredients:

  1. eggs13 large russet potatoes scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 3/4 cup of shredded cheese (I used chedder, but any cheese would be yummy!)
  4. 1/4 cup chopped bacon (I used the pre-cooked kind but you can cook your own if you’re fancy)
  5. 1 tbs Olive Oil
  6. Salt to taste

Steps:

  1. Heat olive oil up in a skillet over medium heat.  Once warm, put potatoes in, toss around to coat with oil, and let cook until golden brown (8-12 minutes), stirring frequently.
  2. Once they’re cooked, make 3 little holes in the potatoes and break eggs into them.  eggs2
  3. Cooked the eggs to your liking (I cook mine pretty well through, only slightly runny, and it takes about 4 minutes on a medium heat)
  4. Add the cheese, turn the heat off, and cover skillet with a lid so that the cheese can melt.
  5. Pour on the bacon and let it warm.eggs3
  6. Serve with fruit, toast, or yogurt and it’s delicious and filling! eggs4

This is a meal that can definitely be made healthier by using just egg whites and leaving off the bacon, (but really, who doesn’t want bacon?), and you can use any type of cheese that you prefer.  Using feta cheese and some baby spinach would be a delicious and healthy change also!    Enjoy!

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The First Years Facebook Contest

What would you do with more time for you?

The First Years wants to know! They just launched an AWESOME giveaway on Facebook from April 1st until April 30th where they want you to tell them what you would do with more time just for you. I can’t even begin listing the things I would do from a spa day to a weekend of total relaxation by a pool where “MOM, MOM, MOOOOOOOOOOOOOM” doesn’t exist! I would even LOVE a girls night, who wouldn’t? Use your imagination and plan your perfect “me time”. On Mother’s day The First Years will be giving away prizes weekly and then on Mother’s day they will pick their grand prize!

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THREE very lucky ladies will have their kid free wishes granted, up to $1000! Whether you just want more time for gardening or actually want to get away, they will make your dreams (yes, dreams) come true! Thanks to a company that strives to make your life easier daily with their time saving products (Can’t beat not having to search through a drawer for the right lid when they all fit!), you may win more than you could ever imagine.  Make sure you enter on there Facebook page HERE and good luck! We could all use the chance to take a break from the mayhem that is being “MOOOOOOM!”.

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Cheesy Pepperoni Bites

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Everyone in my family LOVES cheese. I mean, we love anything cheesy and gooey. Is there anyone that doesn’t? We also love pizza (I’m sure that has to do with the cheese!) but we don’t always feel like putting all the work in to make a pizza (meaning: mom doesn’t feel like making a pizza). What’s the next best or possibly better option? Cheesy pepperoni bites! These are so simple that the munchkin can help you do it or you can do it really quick on your own.  I may have said these are a great replacement for a pizza, but really, these are just a super delicious snack food! Your kiddo will love them because they’re gooey and bite sized and the hubby will love them because, well, pepperoni and cheese! They’re just so much fun to eat. We make these on lazy Sundays, as a Super Bowl snack, New years snack as an appetizer for a party and just because! You only need three ingredients and they’re ready after only 12 minutes of cooking them!

Ingredients

Two Pillsbury (or any off brand) refrigerated crescents

String cheese or mozzarella cheese

Hormel Pepperoni

Optional: Non stick cooking spray

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pull apart your crescents and lay them out. Place 3-4 pepperoni slices on each crescent. It’s perfectly all right for them to overlap and even hang off of the edge a little. As my husband would say, the more pepperoni the better!

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Either sliced mozzarella cheese or string cheese works great, use whatever you have on hand!

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If you like the gooey cheese that pulls away when you take a bite, I would definitely go with the string cheese! If you prefer to take a nice clean bite without your cheese stretching 10 feet, you’ll probably prefer the sliced mozzarella cheese. They both taste the same and are delicious whichever way you go!

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Spray your non stick cooking spray on your pan if you choose to use  it. Roll up each of your crescents so they look a little like this. As you can clearly see, its perfectly fine if your cheese or pepperonis stick out a little. You’ll want to place these in the middle rack of your oven and bake for about 12 minutes or until your crescents are golden brown and the cheese is oozing out!

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Just go ahead and take them off of the pan immediately and put on a plate. Let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

These are great for every member of the house. Little hands love them as do everyone else! Who can resist? Considering I personally hate spending a ton of time in the kitchen, nothing is better than a recipe that doesn’t take too much time that everyone can agree on. Make sure you leave a comment and let us know what occasion you use them for. I know we’ll be having these cheesy pepperoni bites tomorrow for lunch as they are my toddlers favorite! I hope you love this simple recipe just as much as we do.

kristin2

Don’t Leave Your Salad Underessed!!

I started this year with the goal to simplify…although you wouldn’t be able to tell it from the state my house is in!

One of the things I wanted to simplify was  the food I was eating.  Back when my husband was in Basic Training my father-in-law showed me that it is possible to make your own salad dressing!  I was enthralled, but convenience won out and salad dressing has always been a staple on my grocery list.  Now that the weather is FINALLY getting warmer I am ready for some spring salads, and decided to tackle my own dressing.

My favorite dressing in a creamy poppyseed dressing, that I love to put on my favorite salad which includes spinach, arugula, radicchio, mango, strawberry, goat cheese and sliced almonds.  When I read the ingredients on the back of the bottle I was shocked with how many ingredients were used to make this salad dressing!   I knew I could simplify it so what did I do?  I GOOGLED it!!

I found a recipe that seemed about right, I made it a bit healthier, and used it to top my salad.  It was delicious.  It is a sweeter dressing, so my kids really liked it, and I like that I was only putting 5 ingredients in my dressing!

So here is my recipe!  I hope this brightens your spring salads!!

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Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 TBSP honey
4 tsp Apple Cider vinegar
2 tsp poppyseeds

(the original recipe called for mayo and sugar)
Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl, chill and serve with your favorite salad!

 

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