Free Baby Stuff!

I spend a few minutes here or there googling free or cheap baby stuff. I google a lot about saving money or stretching money these days. I stumbled upon a blog, that I failed to save so sorry for no link- I really try to share all the links where I find things- that mentioned that at Amazon.com and at Target if you create a baby registry you get welcome kits with free items and samples and coupons! I made a registry for each company and got my welcome kits!

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All three of my kids who were home with me at the time the box arrived were SO excited about this little package. I’d told them it was just some baby stuff but they were thrilled. I think getting baby stuff and seeing baby stuff makes it even more real for them that they’re going to have a baby sister!

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This was the Amazon welcome kit and it came with samples of wonderful things! Ember and Everett made the experience of opening the box and thinking about Lyla even more fun 🙂

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I let them try to the food samples.

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Then a week or two later we stopped by Target and got the welcome bag from there and I was even more excited about that one because it came with a lot of coupons for items I buy when I have babies!!

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Good news: Yummy Gluten-Free Flour!!

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Gluten-free peeps, have you tried this Namaste flour?? I spotted it at Costco and though I’ve been so done with trying out new gluten-free flours for a few years, after hating the taste of so many, I decided… okay I’ll try one more gluten-free flour. This particular bag of flour says you can swap this stuff for any regular flour in any other recipe. No added extras, just use this stuff when a recipe calls for flour? That sold me. I was nervous to try it out and I didn’t take it lightly before blogging about it. Here’s what we’ve baked so far, and loved: pizza crust, cake, cookies, pancakes, and we used it in place of regular flour in our homemade cream of mushroom soup. It worked in each food! Hurray!

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Cooking with Mom, Edible Playdough!

Everett loves watching me cook every day. I cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner from scratch to save money so I’m in the kitchen a lot! He scoots a chair over and climbs up and gets into all the drawers and messes with all the things and does dramatic sniffing sounds every few minutes and says, “Mmmmm!”

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I have that yardstick through the handle of a drawer and cupboard because it prevents that cupboard from being opened. It’s where I keep our paper towels and if I remove the yardstick Everett gets into the paper towels and tears them all apart!

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Most mornings I make eggs. We sometimes also have sausage and make breakfast burritos or sometimes we have roasted vegetables with our eggs and toast. Sometimes we have eggs, toast, and fruit. Sometimes we have eggs and oatmeal. But almost always, eggs.

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While I was cleaning up the house Ember got a rare turn playing Tetris.

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Everett would walk over to where I was and I’d holler, “Hey! That’s my milk! Give me my milk!” And he’d burst out laughing and run off. This was a fun game for him but secretly I’m a genius because he stopped walking through the pile of crap I was sweeping up on the floor.

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I sat down to blog (this was Wednesday) but ended up visiting my support forums for betrayed spouses instead. Everett was with me playing with playdoh.

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After reading on my forums and having a good cry like always I got some stuff out to make edible playdough with the kids. (1 cup peanut butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup honey)

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Excuse me, Ember… what are you doing?!

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Everett was a mess after.

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And then my camera was left on the counter the rest of the day. But we did have a delicious taco salad that night for dinner. Why don’t I make that more often?!

My Version of Potato Casserole!

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There are so many versions of potato casseroles out there. You can’t go wrong choosing any of them! I remember the first time I had potato casserole was just after I joined the Mormon church with my mom around the time I was 10 years old. We went to a potluck activity and someone had brought this side dish they all called “funeral potatoes.” I didn’t like the name but I liked the potatoes! I’ve always been a potato lover… there is almost no way you can do a potato wrong in my book.

I remember once I got married and had to cook for my family I was lost. I didn’t know how to cook anything besides scrambled eggs and boxed pasta. Poor 19 year old Ariana thrown into that situation without the luxury of the internet for recipes like we have now!

Anyway, I don’t remember why I decided to make “funeral potatoes” the very first time I did but it was when Brooklyn was a baby. I couldn’t find a recipe for it at the library and this was still before the days of online recipes taking off so I just made my own version up from what I remembered liking about the casserole almost a decade before, and also changing the things I didn’t like.

I do NOT like corn flakes on my casserole. I’m not a corn flakes girl. Potatoes, hell yes! Corn flakes, um, no. I also ended up adding ham to ours to add a protein so that this could become the main dish and not a side dish! And I am obsessed with onions and bell peppers so of course those went in. And then I wondered… what to put on top?? These potatoes beg for some kind of crunch, but what would be the most tasty? Well, Lay’s sour cream and onion chips of course!

Another thing you should know about me is that most of the time I eat really healthy… I eat a LOT of intense salads for lunch and lots of produce for snacks. But my fall and winter dinners are loaded with calories. And I don’t worry about it. If you worry about it, probably don’t make this. Or eat a tiny portion or something, I don’t know.

So the ingredients!

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4 huge potatoes or 6 small ones

2 bell peppers

1 onion

1/2 to 1 cup sour cream

one can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 stick butter

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Lay’s sour cream and onion chips

Seasonings you like on potatoes, mine are:

salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder

 

To start fill a large pot with water and put it on the stove to start boiling. Meanwhile wash, peel, and cube your potatoes

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Add the cubed potatoes to the boiling water and wash and chop the bell peppers and onion.

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Put those in a pan with a tablespoon of butter. Your potatoes are probably already done, you want a fork to be able to slide into them without force but you don’t want them really soft or they mash up when you mix everything together later on, so remove the potatoes from the heat and drain them!

With the potatoes cooling in a strainer in the sink and your onion and bell pepper cooking on the stove you can start cubing your precooked ham. I use a quarter pound to a half pound of ham, just depends on how much I feel like. I’m not a huge ham lover but my kids love it.

Since the ham is precooked wait until your onion and bell peppers have cooked a good five minutes on their own before adding the ham. After adding the ham cook for another minute or two or five until the ham is just browned on the edges. You don’t have to do that but we liked the slight chewier texture of the ham cooked in a pan before being added to the casserole.

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Take the strainer of potatoes and dump the potatoes back into the large pot you boiled them in, now without water of course. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup and a 1/2 cup of sour cream (or more if you like more!) and a giant handful of shredded cheese (1/2-1 cup) and your seasonings… I’d suggest eyeballing it but what I do is use homemade cream of mushroom soup with no added salt and then add these seasonings: 1 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. I think a lot of people would add less pepper but I am obsessed with pepper and put extra on everything!!

After you do a quick stir of the potatoes, sour cream, cheese, mushroom soup, and seasonings, go ahead and dump the pan of onion, bell peppers, and ham to the pot of potato mixture. And mix well.

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And if you’re like me you’ll want to taste it to check the seasonings so you take a bite or five hundred before dumping the entire thing into a 13×9 baking dish.

Now put a half stick or entire stick of butter (I just use a half, or maybe 6 tablespoons) in the microwave to melt. 30 seconds to a minute.

While the butter is in the microwave crush up the entire bag of chips. I crush them up in the bag they come in because then I’m not using up a perfectly good gallon sized ziploc.

Take the butter out of the microwave and pour into the crushed chips. Shake the bag well. Dump the chips over the top of the potato mix filled baking dish. Most of the time I use just a little more than half the bag and save the rest in the fridge for the next time I cook this dish. But sometimes I am pregnant and not caring about calories and use the entire bag and it’s so good.

Spread the chips out evenly over the top and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 375. Remove the foil and cook another 10 minutes.

And then, eat!

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On the Daily

Feeding kids, ushering them out the door for school, returning home to clean and clean and clean…

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Changing into the most loose fitting clothes I own for maximum 21 week pregnant comfort.

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Lunch prep.

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Having this cutie patutie besides me as I blog.

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Magna tiles may be the best thing I ever bought for my kids.

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$2 Fun For Kids!

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One thing I feel so spoiled with is the thousands and thousands of people who share fun and frugal ideas online. For single moms like me, wanting to have fun with my kids but not spend much, this is glorious. I’ll share here on my blog my favorite resources for cheap science experiments, arts and crafts, projects, and fun stuff like that. Should I also share things we try that don’t work? Probably, huh?

Today we did a quick little project that will cost you a whopping $2 if you have plastic spoons and a glue gun already on hand, which, as a mom, you probably do! $1 for the stapler remover, $1 for the binder! And a handful of dimes for the cheerios but who counts that?

I got the idea for this desktop catapult from this Sick Science video:

 

I follow Steve Spangler on facebook. He shares some cool stuff, good page to follow if you like stuff like this.

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At the dollar store stapler removers came in a pack of two for a dollar so we bought an extra binder to make two catapults. So technically our fun was $3 but you only need one. My kids all ended up only using the blue one in the end anyway. They said it worked better.

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My kids quickly turned it into a competition which resulted in many tears so maybe don’t make a painter’s tape guide on the ground to see how far the cheerios go. Unless your kids are less competitive than mine 😉

Friday Fun with the Kiddos!!

Ember requested two pigtails on the top of her head so she could have long puppy ears. And she has been acting like a puppy all day.

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We made a quick stop at Wal-Mart for the ingredients to make muddy buddies for a treat tonight while watching Napoleon Dynamite.

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The kids begged for coloring books. I caved and bought three of the dollar ones.

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As I was bringing groceries in Everett was unloading them for me. After he’d empty a bag he’d put both arms in the air and yell, “Ta da!” And after he emptied the last bag he clapped and said, “Yay! All done!” It was freaking cute!

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Some afternoon coloring.

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Then we went and got Brooke and Payson from school and it was time to make the muddy buddies!

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And we just now ate pizza for dinner and are going to watch that movie. Have a good Friday night everyone!

Thursday Was a Super Good Day

After dropping Brooke and Payson off at school this morning we hit up Costco. Mostly we needed more tortillas, this family loves tortillas! There were samples aplenty today and that made Everett one happy little dude!

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We got home from Costco and devoured fruit!

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I took the kids on a walk down to the lake.

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It was so cold today! We started heading back to the car but the kids begged to stop at our favorite ice cream place and despite being so chilly out I figured, why the heck not? And so we went and got kids’ sized cones as a before dinner snack.

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Today So Far!

Wrestling during a game of hide and seek.

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Playing with Barbies in the Target fitting room.

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Being a goofball in the parking lot.

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Homeschool time!

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A quick stop for some tablet and iPad mini games.

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And now we’re off to pick up Brooke and Payson and go for a family walk! 🙂