Monday, February 25, 2013

Consignment earn money for your kids' stuff and get stuff they need on the cheap!

Consignment is a GREAT way to score some awesome deals on the things your kids need!  AND even BETTER, if you sell at the consignment sales, you can earn money, so you could net the stuff you need for FREE! I touched on how to save money on clothes and toys a bit in the past, but I can't believe I completely forgot to mention consignment!  

That said, I was thrilled when Yvette from Just Between Friends contacted me about a consignment sale coming to Scottsdale in May.  PERFECT excuse to bring this subject up to you all again :).  AND there's something in it for you!

March 1 (THIS Friday) the website will open for sellers to sign up! The sellers price their own items and receive 65%-75% of the price of their items.  And for YOU GUYS ONLY as my readers, the seller fee is reduced 50% to $5!! Just mention that you are my readers when signing up :).  The fee is deducted from your check at the end of sale, and that check is sent out within 2 weeks of the end of sale.

The event is in Scottsdale at The Phoenix Elks Lodge (14424 N 32nd St). The 3 day sale starts with a presale on May 9 open to special groups starting at 3:30pm, strollers are not allowed, it'd be easier to leave the munchkins home anyways ;).  "Special Groups" include volunteers who work a min of 4hrs, sellers, expectant moms, moms with new babies, teachers, foster and military families.

Sellers make usually between $200-$300 (!!), and go to the website to enter inventory.  Then you print out the tags and pin or tape them to the clothes and you are all set! 

Too busy for all that tagging?  They can do it for you! It will reduce your net to 50% to 65%, but hey, if you're busy, it's a great option.

Volunteers are what make the event run smoothly.  Volunteers earn 70% as sellers, and those who become team leaders earn 75%.

The event includes children's items, maternity wear, and even a Mommy's mart to sell something that you couldn't use that is new in pkg.  There will also be a scrapbook corner in the Mommy Mart.

Excited about this sale yet?  But wait! There's more! The BEST part about this, they have teamed with 2 local non-profit organizations that will benefit in part from the sale.  They are working with Maggie's Place, which is a home where moms can live during their pregnancy and with their baby if they'd otherwise find themselves alone or homeless.  And they are working with Clothes for Keeps, an organization that provides clothing to foster families who take in a new child.  

These organizations will benefit from the admission fee and will take donated items from sellers after the event.  How awesome is that?

So, my local peeps, start gathering your kids outgrown clothes, toys, and "stuff" and sign up to sell at this event!  Check out their facebook page and shoot them a like too!




Monday, February 11, 2013

*GIVEAWAY* Personalized Games for the Kiddos

Kids LOVE personalized things.  Zach loves anything with his name on it.  And both boys LOVE looking at pictures, especially of themselves, of course ;).  That's why I was sooo excited when my cousin Angela offered to do a giveaway for one of her AWESOME custom kids' games.  Angela runs an Etsy shop called Angela's Images, where she has personalized games and items that are created using pictures you send her.  She also has some handcrafted things like camera straps, and crayon rolls, and nursing covers.  In short, she is spectacularly crafty :).

She is giving away reader's choice of EITHER her personalized Memory game or the personalized dominoes.

Here is her description of the Memory Game:
Make photos a part of your child's everyday fun! Create a "Memor-ME" game of your favorite photographs! A great way to introduce family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) that children don't see often! Available in a 28 piece (1.25"x3" rectangular pieces) 30 or 40 piece game (2" square pieces), it's sure to be a hit around the household! 

These Games make great gifts! Choose 14 photos and send them to me and I will create your very own Memory Game! 28 pieces, ages 3 and up. Kids love these games and play with them for hours! Made from photgraphs and wood, sealed with a non-toxic coating and packaged in its own vinyl pouch for storing with your very own customized label, these games are sure to be a hit with everyone who sees them!

And here is the Domino Game:

Make photos a part of your child's everyday fun! Create a Domino game of your favorite photographs! Available in a 28 piece game (1.25"x3" rectangular pieces), it's sure to be a hit around the household! 

These Games make great gifts! Choose 7 photos and send them to me and I will create your very own Domino Game! 28 pieces, ages 3 and up. Kids love these games and play with them for hours! Made from photgraphs and wood, sealed with a non-toxic coating and packaged in its own vinyl pouch for storing with your very own customized label, these games are sure to be a hit with everyone who sees them!

Zach has the Memory game and he plays with it all the time.  Not only does he love doing memory-type games, but he LOVES looking at all the old pictures of himself.  He got it shortly after his first birthday, so they are all pictures of him when he was a baby.  

How awesome would it be to give one of these games as a gift?  Or even just keep it for your kiddo?  Entering this giveaway is EASY.  If you win you will get to choose which game you want.  Shipping to the U.S. lower 48 is covered, but Canada, AK/HI are welcome to enter, you will just have to cover shipping.  The winner MUST send pictures via email to Angela within 10 days of contest end.

*Disclaimer: I did not receive either of these games for this post.  I did receive the Memory game as a gift a couple of years ago.  All opinions are my own and not compensated. 

Enter via Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 1, 2013

*FREE* Youth Football Clinic

I'm always on the look-out for cheap, fun things to do with the kiddos.  So, when Ashley from the Fiesta Bowl contacted me to tell me about a *FREE* Youth Football clinic that they are putting on for boys and girls ages 9-14, I was more than happy to share it with you guys :).
Here is some information:
As one of the Valley’s most exhilarating experiences in youth football, the Fiesta Bowl Youth Football Clinic promotes more than just the fundamentals of the game. Boys and girls, ages 9-14, are invited to participate in this free, non-contact clinic led by trained athletes and experienced coaches. Young competitors walk away with the perseverance, discipline and determination necessary to achieve their maximum potential both on and off the field.  There will be two separate clinics to accommodate participants in both the East and West Valley.
The camps are from 9AM-1PM. Registration for either clinic is required, but again, it is completely free!
More information:
West Valley - February 16, 2013
Glendale Youth Sports Complex
6221 N. 91st Ave., Glendale, AZ 85305
East Valley - February 17, 2013
Benedict Sports Complex
490 W. Guadalupe Rd., Tempe, AZ 85283

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Healthy, Delicious, Lentil Soup

I LOVE the cold(er) weather months.  I'm fully aware it doesn't *actually* get cold here in AZ, but I'll take what I can get.  It's an excuse to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, maybe even a jacket or sweater.  At night we can cozy up under a blanket, maybe even around a fire pit if we're lucky.  And it's a great excuse to make some soup!
Soups are the EASIEST, and CHEAPEST way to feed your family IMHO.  AND they are healthy, assuming you don't pick the soups with loads of cream or cheese and no actual veggies.  This post is about a pretty healthy soup I love to eat and make, and it's so very easy to do. You can make it vegetarian by withholding the pork products I mention, it will still be tasty, but the pork does make it extra delicious. I make mine veggie heavy, and hearty because Mr. G thang enjoys the veggies straight from the soup and he's not quite ready to feed himself with a spoon :).  So, take inspiration from this recipe and tweak as necessary for your own needs.
chopped up carrots
- 8 large carrots chopped approx. 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 1 stalk of celery chopped, approx 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 full bulb of garlic minced (it's a lot of soup and I like to taste the garlic, if you don't, then use less or none, it's up to you!)
- 1 medium/large onion chopped
- 1 bag of lentils
- 1 bag of prewashed spinach leaves
- optional, either ~6 slices of bacon, chopped or 1 ham bone you smartly threw in the freezer after Christmas dinner :)
- olive oil, salt, pepper

Get out your large stock pot, if you're like me, you don't know how to make a little bit of soup.  Add some olive oil* to the bottom and saute up your garlic and onion until the onion is translucent.  
sauteing the garlic and onions
Add your celery and carrots.  Saute all that for about 5 minutes.  Add your ham bone and lentils, salt and pepper as you see fit.  Add water to coat the lentils.  
the beginnings of a great soup
Bring to a boil and let that pot of yum simmer all afternoon, checking on it 
frequently, adding more water if necessary, stopping when the lentils and carrots are tender.  Throw in the spinach leaves at the very end and take out the ham bone.  
the finished product!
Scarf it down with some crusty bread and save the leftovers in the freezer for that day when you need an edible hug.

*If you go the bacon route, then cook up the bacon on your stock pot, remove the bacon, leave the delicious grease.  Use the grease to saute your garlic and onion, put the bacon back in when you get to the part where you add the lentils

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mickey Mouse 1st Birthday Party!

The last year went by insanely fast.  Gavin has turned ONE already people!  I have no idea how that happened.  We decided to celebrate with a party because that's what we do around here when the kids have a birthday.  We have a party, the kids give mommy a theme and mommy runs with said theme.
Gavin is a HUGE fan of Mickey Mouse. He doesn't watch a lot of TV, just snippets of what Zach watches here and there, but apparently Mickey has a lot of charisma because he was saying "ICK-EEE!!" when he saw the mouse on TV at like 9 months old (he's an early talker, errr, chatterbox). So naturally, we went with a Mickey theme for his birthday party.  
As with Zach, I tried to do some stuff DIY so it wasn't *all* matchy matchy party store deluxe.  The only difference is, babies don't play a lot of party games, so it was pretty much just decorations and cake.

Use the googles people!  I found some super cute Mickey/Disney themed fonts that I used the heck out of for party decorations.  The banner was just super-sized "Mickey Ears" font and then I cut out circles and glued to some construction paper.  I used one of the magazines that Gavin had "overly-loved" (aka torn most of the pages out of) and cut out some pictures of Mickey from that and glued them on.  
I made some signs and decorations for around the house with the fonts I downloaded and some Mickey pictures I found on the interwebs.  Thoroughly using my recently discovered poster-printing abilities.  
This was on our front door welcoming the guests to the party

Really proud of my cornball humor here, put this sign by the hot dogs we served :)
Everybody always asks where the bathroom is so I labeled it :)
And what's a party without some goodie bags? I had the epiphany (because I forgot to order the bags for the goodie bags) that I could just print on some paper lunch sacks and get some customized goodie bags for super cheap!
Lastly the cake and cupcakes.  We all know I am NOT a baker by any stretch of the imagination. So, I got myself some boxed cake mix from Trader Joe's and used that to make cupcakes.  Then I made a sheet-type cake and enlisted the help of my very talented friend/neighbor Rena to make the smash cake.  She did a FANTASTIC job, and as she knows, she's now hired to decorate our birthday cakes ;).
The kids and babies had a blast, Gavin is still pointing at the decorations and saying "ICK-EEE!!!". So Imma call it a win :).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolutions 2013

It's a fresh, brand-new year again already!  I can't believe how fast 2012 went by, a lot changed in our lives, and all for the better.  I'm looking forward to making 2013 our best year yet as a family :).  
Of course I have the obligatory resolutions, I prefer to think of them as "goals" for the year, mostly because resolutions sound so cliche! 

1)  Cut the crap.  Meaning cut the crap out of our lives.  Make a more concerted effort to NOT buy more STUFF.  We don't need it, our family is very fortunate in that we want for nothing.  We need to take several steps back and appreciate our good fortune and stop wanting and accumulating so much stuff.  And it's a good lesson for the boys too, only get what you really need or want and then you value what you have more.

2) Along the lines of cutting the crap, make more of an effort to re-use and re-purpose.  If I need some storage I can use one of the thousand cardboard amazon boxes we have and gussy that up a bit with some modge podge or something.  Or be more creative with artwork and frames.  Just generally be more conscious of whether I can make something we already have work, rather than getting something new.

3)  Focus on healthy eating.  I'd like to eat more vegetarian meals, less meat, and generally more healthy food.  We've been doing ok on this, sometimes convenience gets the better of us lately, especially with the baby.  But Gavin is eating "real" food now, so even more reason to make sure what we eat is healthy for everyone.

4) Exercise regularly some how, some way.  I was doing SO good with this, I would run in the morning and then shower during Gavin's morning nap and feel great.  Then Gavin stopped napping in the morning and got very erratic with his afternoon naps, so I stopped running.  I would LOVE to get back to this, I just need to be ok in my head with being a little sweaty all day after I run.  I'd like to FINALLY run a 5k this year.

5)  Get our memories out of the damn digital world.  We have LOADS of pictures on memory cards, in digital storage, lots of places we can't see them regularly.  I want to do a family photo year book every year, it'd be a lot easier if I could gather pictures as we take them instead of one big undertaking at the end of the year.

6) Focus on the people.  This follows the same vein as the first two things.  Life is about experiences you have with other people, not stuff.  So let's focus more on people.  Date nights with the hubs, even if it's a date night in of pizza, beer, and a dvd.  Mommy-son dates with each of my boys to give them 1:1 time, even just to the park or zoo. And this is important too, cut the people that don't make me happy out of my life.  I've made a good effort towards this last year, but I want a reminder for this year.  Those friends that only call you when they want something, see-ya later!  Those people that constantly bitch and are full of drama, don't let the door hitcha! I want positive people that make me smile around me, life's too short to waste it on anyone else.

7) And lastly, the cliche mom goal, focus more on me.  Go out by myself 1x/month and get some coffee, use my (3 year old) gift certificates for a pedi.  Browse a book store.  Hell just go to Target by myself!  And be ok with doing things for me, like reading, knitting, sewing, BLOG, all those things I never have time for even if it's just for an hour on a weekend.

They're goals, not entirely quantifiable, but still, good reminders of the way I'd like to live my life for the next year.  What are your goals and how do you plan on achieving them?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nothing like some Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Today was cold (by AZ standards) and rainy.  And after yesterday's events with the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, it seemed like a good day to hunker down with the family and just enjoy each other.  
I love the colder weather, coming in from outside to some hot chocolate and eating some warm soup for dinner.  Nothing says love and family like homemade chicken noodle soup.  And since the kiddos have the sniffles (again!) it was the perfect meal for everyone.  
It is SOO easy to make and SO much better than that canned stuff.  I'm sure everyone has their own special way of making it, here's mine.

Get yourself a whole roasted chicken, either roast it yourself, like we did this time, or buy one of those roasters in the store if you're looking for a short cut.  Enjoy 75% of the meat off of that bird, but SAVE THE BONES!  And save a bit of meat to throw in the soup too.

I tend to make A LOT of soup, some to eat now and some to stash away in the freezer for when we need some soup but have no time to make it.
1 whole roasted chicken, 75% consumed, bones and last 25% of meat saved
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
2 small shallots, minced
1 stalk of celery chopped, about 1/4 inch thick pieces
8 medium carrots chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a stock pot with the bottom coated in olive oil, saute the garlic and shallots until the shallots are tender.  Add the carrots and celery, saute until the celery just starts to get tender.  Add about 12 cups of water and the chicken bones, the best way I've found to do this is to get a brewing bag and throw the bones in that, and then put the bag in the water.  This way you don't have to hunt for the bones when the soup is done.  Tried this when the hubs was into brewing beer, it worked wonderfully :).  Bring this all to a boil and let it cook for about 2-3 hours.
Taste the broth, add salt as needed.  When you're satisfied with the broth, add the chicken pieces and some noodles.  I use some fideo noodles my aunt sends from Spain, IMHO they *make* the soup, but some angel hair noodles broken up would work too.  Throw in the chopped parsley at this point.

Eat with some crusty bread and freeze the leftovers.  So easy, so cheap, and tastes like home.

And do me a favor, hug your babies tight, and appreciate them.  Even when they are exhausting and you are exhausted, you just never know.

P.S. I know it's been AGES since my last post, I promise I didn't forget about you.  My baby thinks napping is optional these days unless he does it in mama's lap after nursing.  This does not lend itself to lots of mama time to be doing the blogging.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meal Planning: improvising when your plan doesn't work

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, meal planning goes awry. It happened to me last week, and it inspired this post.  It's always good to have some easy, tasty meals in your pocket for times like these.
Last week in our meal plan I had breaded chicken, it's super yummy, next time I make it I'll take some pics and do a post.  It's basically chicken breasts coated in breadcrumbs and seasonings and pan fried.  When I went to make it last week I ran into one problem right away, turns out, we were out of bread crumbs. Well, crap, off to pinterest I go, I have a few standby recipes for regular chicken breasts, but I thought I'd try some of the chick-fil-a taste-a-like bites I saw on there.  I get all my ingredients out and ready to go, and of course, another snag.  Turns out the package of chicken breasts from Costco I defrosted are really chicken thighs.  Damn those 3-packs from Costco that only label the MIDDLE pack, why the EFF can't you label all 3 so I know wtf I have in the freezer?  
So now I have to think quickly.  I want to make something I know Z will eat, and something easy because at this point I'm not in the mood to do a lot of prep work.  
I turn to my easy bbq baked chicken recipe.  Defrost a package of boneless chicken thighs and put them in a 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle some garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, mustard powder, salt and pepper on them.  Use your favorite bbq sauce, I like the Trader Joe's all natural one, and paint it on top of the thighs.  Get a bottle of beer, I use a darker malty beer like an oktoberfest, or a winter lager, any brown ale/lager will do.  Pour 3/4 of the beer into the pan, this will make your chicken taste divine and will keep it moist.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then NOM.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Kid Craft

You gots to respect the TURKEY people.  I can't believe how early we saw Christmas stuff in the stores, I think it was after Labor Day.  I love the Christmas season but that is just effing ridiculous.  In all honestly, Thanksgiving is far from my favorite holiday.  I'm not a fan of most of the food, and the day itself doesn't contain memories of anything fun and exciting for me as a kid.  But nevertheless it *is* the holiday between Halloween and Christmas and it deserves respect as such. 
Since Z has been in the mood to do crafty things on his full days home with me I knew I was going to have to come up with something for him to do.  He's VERY interested in all the holidays and things coming on the calendar lately.  And he says he "LOVES turkey", so I went with a turkey craft. This one is all mine, inspired from a variety of posts on Pinterest, but I came up with this one on my own.
This, as usual, is super easy, and kid friendly.  I used 2 toilet paper rolls, one whole one, for the body, and one I cut in half for the head.  I had him paint them brown completely, mostly to keep him busy.  
Then I took some rectangles of craft foam, I got these at the dollar store, you could use construction paper instead, whatever you have around the house.  I traced Z's hands on the rectangles, we used orange, red, yellow, and green.  We both cut out the hands (Z wanted to do it all himself and then after one hand declared it "too much work" and asked for help).  By the time we got the hands cut out, I used 8 rectangles because Z's hands are kind of big, the paint was dry.
Z glued the hands on the back of the "body", kind of spread out to look like the turkey feathers.  Then we used our jar of googly eye balls and glued a couple of those and a beak I cut out of yellow card stock to the "head".  I saved a small strip of red craft foam to be the waddle of the turkey. And Z insisted that the turkey also have feet, so I used the yellow card stock and free hand cut out some feet.
 As soon as the glue was dry on those pieces we glued them together to complete the turkey.  Super cute Thanksgiving decoration!  Z is very proud of himself, and I am too, he did a great job!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Getting healthy clean floors

I am by no means a neat freak.  You should see my bedroom, it's a disaster area. But I do like to keep the "common" areas of the house clean and presentable.  It makes me twitchy when the rest of the house gets too far out of sorts.  Especially, the floors.  ESPECIALLY since Gavin is mobile and shoves EVERYTHING into his mouth.  And by mobile I mean he rolls, literally rolls like a barrel all over the floors.  So if our floors are overdue for a cleaning, it shows, all over my baby boy. GROSS, *cue eye twitching*.
The bottom floor of our house is what I would consider "common area".  It's big, and 95% ceramic tile. So, out of necessity with a side of laziness, I vacuum the tile, and the area rugs that we have in the living room and playroom.  Recently we decided to get a new vacuum because I was getting increasingly annoyed with our old one, it wasn't picking up dog hair on the area rugs, who knows what it was missing on the tile.  The last straw was when B broke a wine glass on the tile and tried to use the vacuum to pick up the small pieces of glass, FAIL, it missed a ton. So we took the plunge and got a refurb Dyson.  

They are super pricey, I will fully admit that.  But that damn vacuum was one of the best investments we've made in a long time.  The HORROR I felt looking at the full canister after vacuuming my "clean" floors.  That thing sold me right away.  Not a sponsored post, more a PSA for people who need clean floors.  It picks up dog hair, and incredible amounts of dust/dirt.  Technically it's also an investment in our health, hmmm I wonder if we could HSA it? ;).  Zach has asthma, and the rest of us including him, have terrible allergies, so a vacuum that gets the yuck out is worth it on every level.
Ok so now that the suck-up-able dirt is gone from the floors I needed something better than the mop and bucket to do the welded on dirt.  I had been using the standard method with vinegar and some lavender oil, and I *thought* that was doing an ok job.  Until one day after some serious walker use from Mr. G thang, I noticed his little feet were BLACK.  Like he had been running around outside black.  I was so completely disgusted I turned to Amazon immediately for something better.  We have, in the past, had a Shark steam mop.  It seemed good at the time, however it was kind of clunky and it broke within an a year, so I knew I didn't want that.  There are some fancy pants expensive options out there, but all the reviews indicated they would go the way of the Shark too.  So, I decided on a cheap option, for under $50 I have a steam mop that is working quite nicely.  Similar to the Dyson experience, I was horrified, although this time not as surprised to see how black the mop pad was after I did 1/3 of my floor.  Now after a month usage or so, it only gets that black after doing the entire floor :/. What can I say, 2 little boys, a dog and a hubs, our floors get D-I-R-T-Y.  So benefits to the steam mop: you just use water, so no chemicals; nothing to buy again, just water; can use to sanitize sections of the floor; picks up dirt waaaaay better because it's so hot.  Completely worth $50, even if I have to spend it every year.

*All links are affiliate links, mostly so I could get a picture to use without any issues.