Monday, August 30, 2010

Felt Food Swap

My kids and I have fallen in love with felt food, and decided we wanted to grow our collection of adorable creations. So instead of having to buy 10 different colored pieces of felt, and 10 different colors of thread, and figuring out the patterns to make 10 different kinds of felt food, I had a felt food swap!

It's always nice to connect with other people that enjoy the same things as you, and I really love having a creative outlet.
To organize a felt food swap, you basically just need a handful of participants to commit to making a specific felt food, and a date a few weeks out to have the actual swap.

I organized this with some members of a local mom's group, and had 7 ladies total participate. Everyone chose what they wanted to make, and over the next few weeks everyone sewed together their chosen felt food (I made 7 sugar cookies). I reserved a room at the local library for an hour, so we could meet up, chat, and swap our handmade items. After the swap we all had an array of adorable felt food! It was really exciting to see everyone's hard work pay off, and the kids all loved it!

Look how cute everything turned out!

Handmade felt food items made by:
  • Carrots- Lindsay W.
  • Lettuce- Lisa M.
  • Bowtie Pasta and Pasta Bag- Hope
  • Pink Sugar Cookie- Kelly F.
  • Strawberries- Lauren
  • Fried Eggs- Michelle H.
  • Cinnamon Rolls- Krystin M. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Keep your cash out the Trash: Bananas

I cringe when I have to throw out food. I might as well be throwing wads of cash in the trash! I've found some great ways to help keep that food from going to waste, so I can get the most out of the not-so-cute looking fruits/veggies that have ripened past their prime.

We love bananas around here, but sometimes we don't eat them soon enough. I know these are to ripe for my liking, and the kids think the brown spots are gross. 


What kid can't resist these adorable banana pops? Plus they are so simple to make!

Frozen Banana Pops:

  1. Just peel your bananas, then slice them in half.

  2. Insert popsicle sticks in the cut side, lay on cookie sheet/ baking tray and freeze until' firm

  3. Make sure to transfer to a freezer bag within a few hours to preserve.
*If you want to get fancy, dip bananas in a bit of melted chocolate for a real treat, then freeze.

Some other ideas for overipe bananas include using them in banana bread, and smoothies. If you aren't going to use them right away, go ahead and peel them and freeze them on a cookie sheet (to prevent sticking together) then transfer to freezer bag to store for a few months.

Friday, August 27, 2010

FREE Newman's Own Salsa

This week Harris Teeter has Newman's Own Salsa on sale, buy 1 get 1 free. They are normally $2.99, so that makes them $1.49 each (you don't have to buy 2 to get the sale price)

Go to to print out a coupon $.75 off Newman's Own Salsa. Harris Teeter doubles coupons everyday up to $.99 so that means with this coupon the salsa is free, you just pay tax!

Note: Sale runs August 25-August 31, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homeschooling: Where to Start?

So I finally wrapped my brain around the fact that I was going to homeschool my children, but where do I start? I was so lost I couldn't see the light peeking through at the other end of the tunnel. There seemed to be so many unanswered questions, and to much information to understand this from that.

For starters, you should find out what the laws are for your state. Once I found out that NC doesn't require you to register your child with the state until' age 7, it made things a bit easier on me. Just having to deal with the technical stuff up front was a bit daunting. I know in SC you  need to register your child with the state when they are 5, so requirements vary by state.

How do I know what my state requires? Check out the link below to see your states Home School laws:

Once you know your state requirements, you can submit the appropriate information, etc.

Then you're ready for obstacle #2- What to teach.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Out with the Old, In with the New

So I've been busy the past few days tagging clothes for an upcoming consignment sale. I love consignment sales. It's a great way to make a little cash from some of your kids old clothes, and to find some great deals for their new wardrobe. Talk about being green!

If you are wanting to consign some of your kids clothes it can be time consuming but I honestly enjoy the process of sorting through their clothes, hanging them, and tagging. If this isn't for you, you can always look into consigning your clothes in a consignment store (although they usually only offer a 50/50 split instead of 70/30 split, it can be worth it for some though) I've been able to get hangers for free from some stores (ie: kmart and dry cleaners) so check there before buying new. Or sometimes people will post free hangers on craigslist too. Also save the hangers from any clothes you purchase for the next sale.

If you are wanting to shop at a consignment sale, go early if you are looking for something specific. But if you are really frugal, wait until' the 1/2 off sale, that's what I do;) Most consignment sales offer a 1/2 off sale where many of the items are reduced by half! Then I can buy twice as much! ha!

Here is a great resource to find Kid Consignment sales near you:

Do you have any tips about Consignment Sales? Please share:)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Egg Recall... Are you extra cautious?

So we've all heard about the egg recall. It's been all over the news, and it's surely making many extra cautious when buying more eggs. There is a long list of egg brands that were effected, here is a link to more information about the Egg recall:

So what do I do? My family loves eggs?
The best advice I can give, is to go to your local farmer's market. Many farmer's markets offer fresh, local eggs from range hens. Make sure to ask questions to find out the way the laying hens are raised. The best conditions for laying hens are in a free range setting where they get plenty of sunlight and natural feed. Plus make sure that no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to them. Yes, local  free range eggs will be a more expensive, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. Plus, think of how much more nutritious they are.

You can find a local farmer's market by searching here:
Over the years, I've learned about eggs, and the horrible conditions of laying hens. Especially from companies that sell mass produced eggs, it's truly inhumane. Here is a link to more is the sad truth of mass produced laying hens. Be careful though if you choose to follow the link, it is incredibly sad, but the more we know, the more we can change the future of our food:
Honestly though, after I saw the living conditions of the laying hens, it's no surprise that there was a recall. And if you still want to see more, check out Youtube, they have plenty of videos about the living conditions. This is why I feel buying from a local farmer is so important. They are able to give the hens a much better life.

Just know: You CAN make a difference. Everytime you make a purchase, you are voting. We can change the future of food for the better. So on Saturday, head to your local farmer's market in search of good quality eggs, from hens that were raised humanely;)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"I can't Homeschool"

Those are the words I murmured when my husband first suggested homeschooling the kids.

Really? You want ME to homeschool our kids? I just couldn't believe it. So many questions and thoughts rushed through my head. How am I supposed to do that? Where do I start? But what about me time? What about state regulations? What curriculum am I supposed to use? How much is this going to cost? My kids need to be able to socialize...I can't school them ALL.Day.long... Oh, and I HATE math...

Eventually the idea of homeschooling sunk in. It would be nice to have the kids home with me... they just grow up so quick and I'd get to spend plenty of time with them. I'd rather not put them in public schools... and not really interested in the cost associated with private schools, plus I stay at home anyways, so they might as well stay at home with me. Right?

It wasn't that easy... I was still so nervous and felt like I plunged into an ocean of unfamiliar water. I pushed forward, and read everything related to homeschooling. The more I read, the more confident I became. It honestly took me over a year and a half of homeschooling my oldest to finally feel like I got the hang of homeschooling my children. But believe me when I say... I'm still learning.
Over the next several posts, I will focus on some of these thoughts and concerns that I had about homeschooling. If you have any questions about homeschooling, feel free to ask, I'd be happy to help however I can.

To get you started though, check out:

Plus, a few book recommendations include:
"Teach your own", by John Holt
"The Well Trained Mind", by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
"So, You Are Thinking of Homeschooling" by Lisa Welchel

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All this for just...

Here are some items from 2 different trips to Harris Teeter this week during their super doubles event. I was able to get all of these items for just $6.82+tax which is great because that is about the same I'd pay for just 2 of the Almond Milk normally priced!

TLC cookies $2.50- $1 coupon= $.50
Kiss my Face toothpaste $3.49- $1.50coupon= $.49 each
Organic Valley Cream Cheese $2.59-$1 coupon= $.59 each
Organic Valley Whip Cream $2.35- $1 coupon= $.35 each
Oikos greek yogurt $1.89- $1 coupon= Free
Almond Breeze Milk $2.99-$1 coupon= $.99 each

 When you're out shopping, keep your eyes open for coupons throughout the store, you'll be surprised by how many there are. My kids love to help me find "tickets".  The Oikos coupon was on a big board that looks like a penguin that was full of coupons near the dairy section a few months ago. I saved them and used them at the right time to get the yogurt for free!

So what were you able to get during Harris Teeter's super doubles? Post your great finds:)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Handmade Felt Food

About a year ago, I discovered the wonderful world of felt food. It's so adorable and doesn't have alot of the chemicals and toxins that most store bought toys have.

Our bodies are constantly exposed to yucky chemicals, and toxins. Many plastic toys have these yucky chemicals, as some of you mom's may recall the recent pull of plastic bottles that contain BPA (Bispenol A) Definition found here:

So for me, it is important to limit the exposure of as many chemicals and toxins as I can from my home, and what better way to do it than with this adorable felt food! This doesn't mean I threw out every toy that my kids own, but I do what I can when I can, ya know?

My kids love it, and the texture of the felt is also nice in comparison to the plastic play foods. Below are a few veggies I made recently. I will be posting a free tutorial soon, so you can learn to make some of your own felt food for your kids to enjoy too:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Watermelon Fruit Basket

Who says fruit has to be boring? Presentation is everything;)
I remember this fun watermelon fruit basket from when I was a kid. I'd always see it at cookouts, and family get-togethers. There was something so appealing about it, and needless to say, my kids think it's the coolest thing.

We are celebrating my sons birthday and I needed something fun, and easy transport for the pool party. This was the first thing I thought of. It's healthy, festive, and perfect for these hot days.

Watermelon Fruit Basket:
(You can add tons of different fruits, I find that blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple work great too.)

First you will need to decide where to cut your watermelon. I made a 2" band down the center for the "handle" of the basket, then made a straight cut horizontally to make the openings in the watermelon, and removed the 2 large chunks. Then it was easier to make the decorative border by cutting small triangle wedges.
Once the watermelon basket is cut, you can use a melon baller (I just used a tablespoon used for measuring and it worked great) Use the melon baller, or tablespoon in my case, to scoop out the cantaloupe. Add the grapes, or other fruit you choose. Cover and refrigerate until' time to dig in. Enjoy:)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FREE Lunch Tote from Earthfare!

I know I keep posting about Earthfare, but I LOVE Earthfare:) Now until' September 17th, you can signup and redeem a coupon for a free insulated lunch tote!

We all know that bringing your lunch with you is better than going through a fast food restaurant, and it's even better when you can reuse your lunch tote.

Click on the link below, fill out a bit of info, and bring your coupon to Earthfare and redeem for a free lunch tote. Now you just need to decide what to pack for lunch;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Double Your Savings

Yes, it is totally possible to save money and eat natural and organic food too. Occassionally, grocery stores have "double" or "triple" coupon event. Here in the Charlotte area, Harris Teeter will have a double coupon event August 11-August 17, 2010. Harris Teeter will double coupons everyday up to $.99, but this event is really great because they will double the amount of your coupon up to $1.98. So if you have a coupon for a product that is $1.50, then that will double to $3.00 off your item! Double your savings!

Check out Harris Teeter's website for their store policies regarding coupons:

Some places to find coupons:
-Your sunday newspaper
-Earthfare Grocery Store has a coupon booklet at their stores called "Mambo Sprouts", and have tons of great organic/natural food coupons
-Printable coupon websites-;
-Also visit your favorite food websites, they will sometimes have printable coupons.

Don't lug all of your coupons to Harris Teeter and do your matchups in the store... trust me, with my kids in tow, it's nearly impossible;) Instead see what the price of an item is easily by visiting Harris Teeter's website, under their Express Lane link. You can search for different items and see if it's on sale or not. Much quicker and easier than trying to locate it at the store.

Below I've matched up some great deals. The link below will bring you to the website that you can print the coupons. You can typically print 2 per computer. Please note, this is in the Charlotte area. Prices and participation may vary.

-Arrowhead Mills Organic Flax Seeds $2.85 - $1.00 coupon= $.85

-Blue Diamond Almond Breeze-Almond Milk $2.79- $1.00 coupon= $.79

-Grande Tortilla Chips $2.99- $1.00 coupon = $.99

-Kind Fruit & Nut Bar $1.67- $1.00 off 2 coupon= $1.34 for 2

-Kiss My Face Kids Toothpaste $3.49- $1.49 coupon= just $.51!

-Organic Valley Organic Cream Cheese $2.59- $1.00 coupon= $.59

-Organic Valley Organic Heavy Whipping Cream $2.35- $1.00 coupon= $.35!

-Apple & Eve Juice Boxes $2.99- $1.00 off 2= $3.98 for 2

-Stonyfield Farm Yogurt - Yo Kids Organic $3.99- $1.00 coupon= $1.99

If you have any great deals to share, or questions, feel free to post in the comment box below. Happy Savings! :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Banana Zucchini Bread/ Muffins

Do you have an over abundance of zucchini from the summer harvest? Try this tastey Banana Zucchini bread/ muffin recipe, compliments of veganbess at

... yes, their vegan;)

Don't be put off because it's a vegan recipe though. You probably won't even be able to tell, once you taste these muffins. Why try vegan recipes? I like to limit my intake of dairy and animal products when possible... the cost of local eggs can be pricey so why not save them for when you really need them? Go on, give it a try, hopefully you will be just as pleased and me.

Now for the ingredients. I like to use wholewheat flour, and honey in place of sugar... but here are the ingredients from the original recipe:
1 cup grated zucchini
1-1/2 over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9" bread pan or 6-muffin pan.

2) Stir zucchini, bananas, oil, sugar, and vanilla together. Mix with hands if necessary break up banana chunks.

3) Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

4) Pour batter into bread pan or muffin tin and bake 50-60 minutes for bread, 30 minutes for muffins.

Serves: 1 loaf or 6 muffins

Preparation time: 30 mins

Voila! Yummy muffins:) Like I mentioned before, you can save tons of time if you double the recipe, and freeze the extra batch. So next time you want a muffin you don't have to start from scratch, just pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw for a bit. Quick and easy.

Time Saving Tip:
If you're like me you have tons of zucchini, thanks to my father's awesome gardening skills;) So I like to shred all of my zucchini at once(in a food processor) and freeze what's left over. Just make sure to defrost the zucchini before use.

Now when the colder months roll around, I still have some zucchini to make more yummy bread. There is nothing like warm bread, and the scent of cinnamon lingering in the air.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

To Market, To Market

Fresh air, and local fresh produce.
There is nothing quite like it. A morning out to your local Farmer's Market. There are so many colors, scents, sounds and tastes to experience. Tables full of delicious fresh produce, homemade soaps, a local duo playing wonderful music, colorful flowers, homemade pastries, and sometimes even live cooking demonstrations.

Not only is it an eventful morning out, but I love being able to support local farmers. Those farmers are some of the hardest working people out there... it takes so much dedication, and I absolutely admire that. Plus, I love to get my family super fresh local produce. Often times the produce was picked within the last 24 hours, sometimes even the morning of. Doesn't get much fresher than that!

When you shop at the grocery store, you don't know where the produce was grown, what pesticides it was sprayed with, or what farm it came from. But when you go to your local farmer's market you are able to ask questions about the food, and often times I've found they follow organic practices, but have chosen not to get organic certification just because it can come with a hefty price tag.

There are some Farmer's Markets that will only sell items made, or produce grown in the area (within x amount of miles) but I've found other markets that don't have those same restrictions, and sell the same produce you'd find at the grocery store. So basically just ask tons of questions so you can find what products you want to buy.

Don't know where a local Farmer's Market is by you? Check out There you can search for markets in your area.

I like to bring my own reusable bags to carry my produce in, and the kids even help out;) So, grab your bags, and head out to your local farmer's market and support your local farms while getting the best quality food for your family.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Save $ at Earthfare

I know many believe that eating healthy is expensive... but it doesn't have to be. There are many ways to save, especially with coupons. Earthfare has a great incentive to sign up for their emails. They will often have great promotions, and really great store coupons. Often times the coupon is for a free item, and there is sometimes a minimum purchase. I love it especially when it is for a product that I haven't tried before, that way I can see if I really like it. Especially if I am brand loyal to a product, this is a great way to try something new without breaking the bank. Plus, 9 times out of 10 I end up liking the product so much, I start adding it to my weekly shopping list;)

This week they are giving away a dozen natural eggs with a $5 minimum purchase! Click on the link below to see the coupon, and at the bottom of the page, you can sign up to recieve the Earthfare Newsletter and coupons.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kids Eat FREE at Earthfare

There's nothing better than grabbing a bite to eat while out and about, especially when your kids eat for free. It's even better when you know you are eating high quality food, that's delicious and nutritious.

Did you know that kids can eat for free at Earthfare? Thursday nights from 4pm-8pm and with the purchase of an adult meal of $5 or more. For those of you with large families this is really great because for each adult meal you purchase can get up to 6 free kids meals. It's really a great deal!

I brought my kids there one Thursday night when they first offered this. I picked out a tasty sandwich and blue organic chips and each of my kids picked out a kids meal. So me and 3 kids all had dinner for under $10! That's a steal! My kids enjoyed choosing their sandwiches and sides, and there are plenty of options too.

Earthfare is known for being the first grocery store to totally give the boot to High Fructose Corn Syrup, that means that out of all the hundreds of thousands of items they sell, not one contains high fructose corn syrup! This gives me such peace of mind and I'm so glad to see that they have such high standards for food. Earthfare also offers tons of organic products as well. Their blue organic chips are delish.

So next time you need a break from cooking but don't want to break the bank while trying to feed your family high quality food, bring them by Earthfare on Thursday between 4-8pm and let the kids eat free.

Go here for the details:

Check out to find a location near you:)
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