Saturday, February 26, 2011

Is your Target doing the frozen food deal?

So SOME Targets are doing a deal this week (ending today, sorry) where you get a $5 gift card when you buy any 7 frozen food items. You can find bags of frozen veggies, etc. for close to a dollar, making this a really good deal! Here is a link over at Creative Couponing describing some of the deals you can get and linking to a few printable coupons. I'm not big into couponing (although I wish I was) but this was easy enough that even I could do it! There is no limit to the number of $5 gift cards you can get in the transaction.

I got:

10 frozen Smart Ones dinners
1 bag sweet potato fries
7 bags of Target brand frozen veggies, and
3 bags of Birds Eye steamers frozen veggies

I think my total was about $33, with $15 back in gift cards. So around $18 for 21 items. I did use one or more printable coupons for each item. Not anything phenomenal, but these are things we buy regularly and will use, so I'm excited! Not to mention I live in an area where the cost of food is much higher than most places, so I can't even imagine how others could do on this deal!

Pin It!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Giveaway Winner! designated Jill as the winner of the book giveaway! Jill said, "Definitely sounds like it could be a resourceful book :)"

Jill, e-mail me your address at and I'll send a book out to you this weekend! Hope you join in the discussion!

Pin It!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How-Tuesday: How to Avoid Awkward Situations With Other Moms (Sometimes)

I read this tip a long time ago and have used it in many situations since then. Memorize this magic line, "Sorry, I know I'm a totally overprotective mom, but...."

Am I an overprotective mom? Nope. Not that I know of. In fact, I would say I err on the side of underprotective. :) But it works in so many situations where you feel the problem is the other mom's kid, but you don't want (or need) to say so. It puts the blame onto yourself, (hopefully) sparing your friend's feelings

You can use this in situations where you don't agree with the other mom's carseat use (or lack thereof), when someone else's kid is a bully and the mom doesn't seem to know or care, a party where you don't feel there's going to be enough supervision, and so on.

Try it out next time you're stuck in an awkward situation with a friend!

Pin It!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Giveaway! The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

So I posted a while ago about Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, a book I read and really loved. It's about finding the happiness and joy in your life, and concentrating on what truly makes YOU happy. I've decided to do a giveaway of the book to a Simply Clean Living reader with the hopes that there will be at least one person out there to read along with me and share their thoughts on the book! There's great stuff in there on marriage, parenting, organization, career, finances, and lots of other topics.

So if you're interested, leave a comment below before Wednesday at midnight. I'll pick a winner on Thursday and get the book sent out from Check out the reviews here!

Pin It!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How-Tuesday: How To Potty Train Your Child in 3 Days

I just finished successfully potty training my third child, who is 27 months old.  Two year ago when I had to potty train my twins I knew that I needed some rock solid advice so I did what I always do and went searching online to find some answers.

I decided to go with Lora Jensen's 3 Day Potty Training program.  I bought her online book for around $20 (not sure what the price is today) and it was the best decision I could have made.  Her methods are simple, very natural and very logical, which is right up my alley.  Plus, if you need it, you get online support for any snags you run into.  I personally didn't need the support hotline, but it was nice to know it was there.

I trained my boy girl twins at 28 months of age, at the same time, in 3 days.  It worked.  And then I trained my other littl boy two weekends ago and it worked like a charm again.  Actually, he had his "ah ha" moment the morning of the first day and the next two days were just for good measure.

I highly recommend this lady's method and can honestly say that it worked for me on three kids.  Three cheers for NO MORE DIAPERS!

Pin It!

Monday, February 14, 2011

No-Obligation Book Club - Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project"

So I bought a book. Although I love reading, this is actually a huge milestone for me because I generally only read books once, and I hate clutter, so I only ever read books from the library. Or in bits and pieces at Barnes and Noble. But I recently got a Nook, which has opened some new reading horizons for me. I saw this book online at my local library and just finished reading it, and it was so good I decided I needed to buy the "real" version immediately. Here's a good quote that tells what it's about: "Rubin is a bestselling author who decided to take on the subject of what makes humans happy, resulting in a personal memoir about her own experiences and experiments in improving her mindset, as well as scientific research, philosophical theories, and practical advice on the topic of improving your sense of happiness and"

It's so good, and my head is just spinning with blog posts to write about each chapter. If anyone out there wants to buy or check out the book (it's only $8 on Amazon right now for the pre-order paperback version) and discuss, I'd love some company. Otherwise I'll just share all the cool stuff I got out of it.

For a resolution-junkie like myself, it's absolutely addicting. But she shares a ton of great information about happiness, and has some EXCELLENT advice on marriage and parenting. And if you're not married or don't have kids, she also focuses on having more energy, your career, finances, spirituality, expanding your horizons, and lots of other great stuff. So if anyone's looking for a good read, I'd highly suggest it. As soon as my copy comes in the mail, I'm going to start putting up a post about each chapter and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

PS: I totally stole the title of "No Obligation Book Club" from Real Simple magazine because I like it and it makes me laugh!

Pin It!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Product Review - Joovy Caboose Ultralight Double Stroller

For posts on this blog, I try to think of things that I get asked about a lot. Products I own, hobbies I have, and just general things I'd talk about with friends. The baby/kid product I review for friends most frequently has got to be the Joovy Caboose double stroller.

We decided to buy the Joovy when we had our first two kids 18 months apart. My older daughter was too little to sit on the bench seat at 18 months, but she was getting pretty cranky with sitting in the stroller and I couldn't imagine dropping all the money on a double stroller just to have her throw a fit about sitting in it.

There are a few versions of this stroller, and we got the Ultralight because it was smaller and space was an issue for us.

First, The Cons:
*It has a small basket underneath. Yep, it's tiny. If you're going to be shopping all day at the mall and want a place to stash your bags, this won't work. Some cruel moms might make their older kid get out of the jumpseat and walk so that they can pile all their bags in the back of the stroller - uh, not that I've ever personally done this, I'm just sayin' you could. You also can't really even fit a diaper bag under there.

*Lots of people give this stroller negative reviews because the seat doesn't recline very far for a kid to sleep, and obviously sleep is difficult in the jumpseat. This wasn't a concern to me because first of all, my kids aren't really the fall-asleep-in-public type, and second, I'm never really out ALL DAY in the stroller. If I just run to the mall or somewhere, they can come back and sleep at home. I will say that this is my stroller of choice at Disneyland, and we have had some entertaining experiences with the kids falling asleep in it. Once my son fell asleep in the back and we had to tie a blanket around the back handle so he didn't pitch forward and fall out (see below). So, you know, if your kids are sleepers, it's a valid "con," but wasn't one that came up for me personally very often.

*Next, it has a small/useless parent tray. It has a drink holder that will fit a can of soda or a smallish fountain drink, but no big gulp. It has a small zipper pocket and then an upright pocket as well. For me it worked because I travel light, but I've seen lots of complaints online about this. The regular Joovy Caboose does not have a parent tray at all.

*The buckles on the jumpseat are really just for looks. If you have a runner or a kid who is going to fight being back there, these buckles won't exactly do much for ya.

*When the front seat is reclined, it is pretty annoying/uncomfortable for the kid in the jumpseat. And if you have an infant seat in it, it has to be reclined. My kids have been pretty patient with it, but I try to recline it as infrequently as possible. Also, it only has two positions - upright and reclined. And the reclined position is.... well, not very.

So are the pros:
*It is SUPER compact. I mean, really small. It's small folded up, and it's small set up. This was perfect for me, because I drove a Honda Civic, and didn't want my stroller taking up the whole trunk. In fact, I could even fit our Joovy AND our double jogger together in the trunk of the Civic. Impressive, I know. Also, when I thought about places I would be taking a stroller, it was usually places like the library or the mall, where the setting really didn't lend itself to a giant beast of a stroller trying to fit down aisles and between racks of clothes.

*I liked the green color. Shallow, of course. But color's important to me.

*I liked the flexibility of the seating options. We bought this stroller almost 4 years ago, and now we have 3 kids. Someone can sit in the front, someone can sit on the jumpseat, and someone can actually stand on the footstand. Or, if your children happen to be on the more petite side, you can actually fit two on the jumpseat. I should note that Joovy does not recommend or endorse 3 passengers for this stroller, but it can definitely be done.

*I loved taking this to the zoo, Disneyland, etc. because my older kids could jump off to look at something, and then just come jump back on. It's also way easier to get through crowds.

*You can see on the picture there are two big handles for the kid in the back. I frequently use these for my kids who are old enough to walk, giving them a choice of, "You can sit on the seat, stand on the footstand, or walk alongside and hold the handle."

*It maneuvers really easily. I never felt like I was pushing anything more than a single stroller.

*It was the only stroller I needed when out and around. If I happened to be out and about with just one of my kids, I could put them in it and not feel like a nerd with this giant hulk stroller for only one kid.

*It can fit an infant carseat in the front. You take the tray off, and it has another attachment that sort of cradles the back of the infant seat. Then the seat sits down in there, and there are straps that come up, and you buckle them to secure it in.

*Joovy has good customer service. One of my seat buckles broke and they promptly sent me another one, free of charge and no questions asked.

I would make this same decision a hundred times over again, and I have had numerous friends who bought a Graco tell me they should have bought a Joovy. The only other thing that would have been better is a Phil and Ted's since you can use it as a single/double jogger as well, but I wasn't really familiar with that stroller when we got this. But we have loved the Joovy and it has served us well. It does have its drawbacks, but they weren't big ones for us, and the pros have far outweighed the cons.

To me the biggest thing is that for most kids, once they're old enough to have a younger sibling, they're old enough that they don't enjoy riding in a traditional stroller. This is a good middle ground, with lots of flexible options, and continues to be useful and usable even now that my older kids are 4 and 5. Questions? Ask away!

Pin It!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's Day Crafts/Traditions/Ideas?

I absolutely love Valentine's Day. And now that my kids are getting a little bit older, I'd like to start some fun traditions with them. I'm also always on the lookout for some fun craft ideas, either for the house, or to do with the kids. Does anyone have anything fabulous? Here's what I'm thinking about so far...


*Make heart-shaped pizza for dinner
*Eat dinner by candlelight

* Valentine Heart Garland
*Make a photo book of people who love the kids

That's all I have so far! Can you hear my pouting over the internet? Pretty please, share some ideas? I love hearing how other families celebrate the holidays!

Pin It!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cute Valentines Hair-Do

My daughter is 5 and way into everything girls, hearts, pink, etc. So I decided to browse the internet for some cute heart hairstyles to do in her hair for Valentine's Day. I had seen a post a while ago on She Does Hair that I liked, and wanted to see if I could do something on my daughter, who has really thin, fine, hair. None of those elaborate styles you see on other blogs. But I think it turned out cute, so I thought I'd share!

First, you take the hair into a ponytail, but don't fasten the hair-tie all the way at the base. Leave yourself some room, like this:

Then you want to split the hair that is UNDER the hair-tie, like this:

Then take your ponytail and pull it through the split part, and pull the ends tightly. This next picture is a good action shot of this step, but I accidentally did it backwards the time I took this picture, so don't look too carefully! Your ponytail will be going from the back of the head to the front through the split.

Pull it nice and tight and don't worry if it looks weird right now. The long ponytail will be hanging in your daughter's face here.
Then split the ponytail in half, and you can braid the halves, twist them, or just leave them plain. On Valentines Day I'll probably put some ribbon in the hair to make it stand out more. Arrange the two halves of the ponytail into a heart (the top of the heart is at the top of the head, and the bottom of the heart points down toward the neck), and clip the ends.

You can fasten the hearts with little clippies to make it more secure, if you want.

I did this on my little cousin, who has thicker hair, and on hers I did two little hearts instead of one big one, and just split the hair down the middle first and did them closer to the top, using only the hair above the top of the ears, and leaving the rest hanging down. There are some good pics on doing this with girls with longer, thicker hair on the link above, but this is the hair my kid's got to work with, so these are the pics you get!


Pin It!

How-Tuesday: How to Find a Killer Recipe Online

I have a secret. Shhhh... don't tell.... ready? I'm not actually a great cook, I'm a great Googler. I don't make up fabulous recipes, but I know how to find them. So my how-to for this week is how to use the internet to find an awesome recipe.

1. Step 1 is to find a good website. I prefer Allrecipes because it's widely used by normal people (as opposed to more skilled foodies, who may rate recipes differently than I would).
2. Once on Allrecipes, click on the right where it says "More Recipes."

3. Then click on a category and click on "Top 20."
4. Peruse the recipes! When a recipe is one of the Top 20 recipes on such a widely-used website, it's hard to go wrong. I've gotten some great recipes from this site, and there are tons of categories to choose from. You can also do a search for something specific, such as "caramel corn," but then you always want to click on "Rating" to have the recipes sorted by the most highly rated ones.

5. Or, another food site where you really can't go wrong is an old favorite of mine that I'm always mentioning, Our Best Bites. That link goes to their recipes index, where you can search for desserts, poultry dishes, appetizers, etc. I've never made anything from their site that I didn't love.

So there you go! Next time you need to impress with your cooking, turn to the World Wide Web. The collective wisdom of millions of internet users can't be wrong!

Pin It!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recipe: Caramel Toffee Fruit Dip

I've talked many times about my favorite food blog, Our Best Bites. I love this blog because I'm always looking for new recipes that aren't too complicated, but don't rely on the cream-of-casseroles that are so often the standby for what moms consider to be an easy dinner. They're also great with recipes for social occasions: Superbowl, baby showers, holidays, etc. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to spotlight some of my favorite Best Bites recipes, the ones I get asked for time and time again.

I'll start with their recipe for Caramel Toffee Dip. This dip is simple to make, and great for baby showers, mom's groups, etc. The only bad thing about it is that you're sometimes caught in the compromising position of actually licking the serving bowl, which can be embarrassing in a crowd. Don't be fooled by the simplicity of this dip - it is AMAZING and I have literally NEVER seen leftovers.

Caramel Fruit Dip
1 8-oz. package cream cheese (you can use light cream cheese)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla (you can add more to taste)
Toffee bits (look by the chocolate chips and try and find the chocolate covered ones if you can! Your dip won't be pretty, but it will sure taste good!)
Allow cream cheese to reach room temperature. With an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla. When ready to serve, stir in about 1/2 a bag of toffee bits. Serve with fruit.

Photo above courtesy of Our Best Bites. Link to post with recipe here.

Pin It!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Good Deal at Target on The Biggest Loser for the Wii!

Next time you're at Target, check to see if they have any Wii games on clearance. Ours had the older version of The Biggest Loser for $7! It was on an endcap facing the back of the store, but luckily the nice Target employee pointed it out to me when I told him I wanted to buy the newer version. Again, it is the OLDER version on clearance for $7, not the new one with the blue cover.

We had rented this version through and it's pretty cool! You can choose Lower Body, Upper Body, Total Body, Abs, and Yoga. Within each of those categories there are 5 different levels, and within those 5 levels there are several different workouts that last various amounts of time. This game is truly a great workout for many different skill levels - I am in okay shape and I stay at Level 3-4. I tried Level 5 one time and couldn't even make it through the workout. The Yoga is both relaxing and toning - you can definitely feel it the next day. You also don't need any special workout equipment. They just use the resistance of your body for strength training, and it's amazingly effective.

So if you're looking for a great indoor workout, stop by your Target and see if they've got this one for $7! If not, the newer version is only $30, which I think is worth it. It's a great workout for a snowy day!

Pin It!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How-Tuesday: How to Get Your Kid to Leave the Park

We've all been there. It's time to leave the park and your kid doesn't want to go. Here's how to make it happen.

1. Give your child some warnings. "Jamie, we're going to leave in 5 minutes." "One more minute, Shannon, so do your last fun thing!" The actually timing of these warnings isn't as important as giving them. In fact, I am the laughingstock of my family for my warnings they have absolutely no relationship to real time.

2. Go over and let your child know it's time to leave. My secret weapon here, and in any other situation where I don't think my kid's going to want to go, is to make the next place sound more fun somehow. "Hey, let's go get in the car so we can go home and have some of those dino chicken nuggets you love!" "Go ahead and clean up quickly so we can get home in time to watch Phineas and Ferb!" The idea here is to get your kid thinking ahead, and looking forward to what's next.

3. And if all else fails, pick them up kicking and screaming. We've all been there.

Pin It!