Friday, July 31, 2009

Local Sports Teams

Are there any local minor league teams in your area? One of our favorite family activities is catching a local game.

We even discovered that, if we go after the fifth inning, we can enter our local ballpark free of charge. Since the innings can be long for little ones, that is enough time for our kids to get the feel of the game without getting bored.

Are there local teams you support? Do you have any money saving secrets for attending?


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Washable Training Pants

We are going through the process of potty training our two year old. Before we started potty training, I bought her some washable training pants to help save money and the environment. I have been very pleased with my selection on washable training pants. My daughter has mostly been using Kushies training pants. They are lined with cotton and have a plastic, waterproof exterior to help prevent leaks. One of my favorite things about the training pants is she can feel if she is wet. When using pull-ups, it seems like it is hard for the child to notice that they are wet.

Many people are afraid of cloth diapers and training pants because you have to wash them. Training pants are easy to wash. Just rinse them out when they are soiled and wash them with my next load of laundry. I put vinegar in my downy ball to help take out any odors.

If you are potty training, I hope you will find some washable training pants that work for your child!
Do you have a tip to share for Thrifty Thursday? You can find details here. We hope you'll join us! Put your links below!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Car Time Tips

We have several activites in our life that cause us to have to spend a bit of time in the car. It is usually not more than 20-30 minutes of travel time, but that can feel like an eternity to children. Because of this, I wanted to tell you about a wonderful trick that Works For Me.

I keep a basket of travel friendly items in our vehicle. The first thing that goes in is a pencil box filled with appropriate writing utensils for each child. I focus on colored pencils so that their creativity can shine. I add a coloring book and a plain spiral-bound notebook (which I buy 10/$1 or less when the Back To School sales are at their peak) as well. With these simple materials, I can give them words to write, ask them to draw pictures, write stories, solve math problems or make lists - which they love to do, just like their obsessively organized mother - and it can fill time while we're driving or waiting for an appointment. We can also take these into restaurants that do not provide activities and stay busy with some competitive Tic-Tac-Toe games!

I have also gathered some various items, primarily from dollar stores and Target's fabulous Dollar Spot. I get any travel themed items, small workbooks, wipe-off boards, etc. that are quiet activities. These filter in and out and I change them to provide a surprise for the kids now and then.

We also have our trusty GameBoys in this basket. I have a camera bag for each of them and we have their game and the various age-appropriate cartridges that we have collected at garage sales and resale shops. I make them play them with the sound off and they have saved many a meltdown when we hit a traffic delay or are waiting for a late friend. This is the only time they play them, so they stay fresh and fun.

We keep this basket on the floor, snug between their seats so that it could not fly thru the car in the event of an accident.

I hope that this has provided some ideas for you to help with your travel time. Do you have other ideas you would like to share?


We hope to see you back here tomorrow for Thrifty Thursday. We would love to hear your favorite money saving ideas!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Frozen Cookie Dough

I have never bought premade frozen or refrigerated cookie dough at the store because it is so expensive. I would have never thought of making cookie dough and freezing it, but one of my friends turned me on to this fantastic trick. I used to make fresh cookies or pick up a bag of oreos to satisfy my cookie craving, but now I make cookie dough and freeze it. I just double a batch of cookies, chocolate chip cookies are our favorite, and spoon one layer of cookies onto a cookie sheet and freeze them. After they get hard, take them off the cookie sheet and place them in labeled Ziploc bags. We take them out a few at a time and bake them on a day that we are already using the oven.
Last year, we baked a few of our frozen cookies in the toaster oven when we were showing our house to sell. The smell of fresh cookies filled the air and prospective buyers could imagine the great smells that would come from their kitchen!

This Christmas, I will be nearing the end of my pregnancy. I am going to plan ahead for guests by premaking cookies and baking them fresh when they arrive. Shh... don't tell, I'm sure they will NOT know the difference.

If you freeze cookie dough instead of buying premade cookie dough you can save time and money.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Easy Daysies Review

We were recently approached by Easy Daysies to do a review of their magnetic daily schedules. As soon as I saw them, I knew this system is a perfect fit for my son!

My son thrives on structure and routine. The eco-mom in me appreciates that the magnets are completly reusable and can be changed to fit our schedule each day.

I have organized his school day routine on the magnet board in his room. He is constantly asking "what do I do next?" and this will eliminate that problem and give him a sense of responsibility. I am most excited about his morning routine on the left. He decided to add an additional magnet to mark his progress. The evening schedule is on the right and he will quickly learn what is expected after school, too.

I have already mentioned this system to several friends with special needs children. These kids follow a picture schedule at school and this could help make those easy transitions at home as well. Elaine has also used such adorable graphics and they help the non-reader follow along. The words being beside the picture are helping my early reader become even more fluent. They could make a great addition to any home!

Elaine has many great new products in the works and I would definitely recommend keeping your eye on her site. These would make a great gift for any home or classroom. You can certainly tell they were created by a woman who is both a mother and teacher. They are truly Brilliant!

Easy Daysies is going to sponsor a giveaway here on our blog! Be sure to stay tuned for details on how to enter!


Grilling Tips

Summer is grilling time at our house! My husband is the "Grill Master" here and offered to share some of his favorite tips for Menu Plan Monday!

- When making burgers, keep them thin, but compact.
- If you have multiple levels on your grill, cook burgers on the top, moving them to the bottom just to finish them off and create beautiful grill marks.
- For steaks, do the opposite. Begin a steak on the bottom to sear it, then move it to the top to finish.
- With chicken, we usually use barbecue sauce. He marinates the chicken in the sauce and then begins to grill. With new sauce, he adds a second coat to get a nice carmelized coating on the chicken toward the end of grilling.
- One of our grill favorites is corn! Peel back the husk and remove the silk. Pull the husk back up and soak it in the sink filled with water for an hour. Place it on the grill for a wonderful new flavor!
- We also cook lots of veggies - squash, zucchini, eggplant, etc. - on the grill. We got a grill "cage" at our local store and have found this to be the easiest way to keep them under control and to flip them all at once.

If you have any favorite grilling tips, please share!!


Please join us on Thursday for Thrifty Thursday! Link your thrifty ideas here and share with everyone!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Sunday!

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him wiith all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 KJV

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Protect Your Computer

I recently had a mild panic attack when I saw this on my computer monitor. The things nightmares are made of. Fortunately, we were able to save the hard drive long enough to transfer all of the data before it failed completely.

The reason I didn't have a major meltdown during the process is because I take the time to back up my files on a regular basis. I take A LOT of photos. At the end of each month, I upload them to an online storage site, transfer that month's files to my external hard drive and then reformat the memory cards in my cameras. It is a system that works well for me and I write it in my calendar at the end of each month to be sure I remember. While I'm transferring to the hard drive, I also drag over any documents that have been updated during that month and occasionally transfer over my internet bookmark files.

If you don't regularly back up your computer, I would recommend that you look at scheduling something soon. I have had many friends who have lost photos and once they are gone, they are gone forever.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Rock the Tote Diaper Bag Giveaway - WINNER!

We have a winner! The fantastic tote from Rock The Tote from Baby Star goes to number 16!

Comment 16 came from AmyLynn

Thanks for entering and remember that Baby Star has been kind enough to offer all of our readers a 30% discount off retail price! Just enter code: 20twinkle09 when ordering. The offer expires 12/31/09.

Check back for the next giveaway which is coming soon!

Our Swim Bag

The girls love to be outside. Our favorite summer family activities are going to the beach or going swimming at the pool. I used to put all of our swim towels, shoes, toys, and hats back in there proper places in the house after washing them, but I have found that it is easier if we put all of the swim stuff together. I have a swim bag that I put on the floor of our hall closet. When it is time to go swimming or to the beach, I pull out one bag that has everything in it. Family time is much more fun when things are made easy.


Today is the last day to enter and win a Rock the Tote diaper bag!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thrifty Thursday - Home Haircuts

Welcome to another Thrifty Thursday! We hope you are enjoying our ideas and will come and share yours as well!

Another way we save money at our home is by cutting the boys' hair at home. A one time investment in shears (and we purchased additional combs at the local beauty supply store to allow for longer cuts), and haircuts are then free! These are pretty much fool proof if you use a guide. We cut our son's hair and I help my husband when he changes to his "summer cut." That saves us more than $20 per month since short hair needs to be cut pretty often!

I used to trim my daughter's hair as well, until it thickened up on me. I haven't become brave enough yet to attempt cutting the mass of hair she has now, but who knows what the future might hold?

Do you cut your children's hair? Share your thrifty tips with us! Details to join can be found here.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Balanced Diet

The 2005 Food Pyramid recommendation looks more like a teleportation beam coming down from a spaceship than the food pyramid that I was taught in school. But, it is our guide until the 2010 revision. Understanding a few facts about each of these food groups helps us plan our meals.

Grains: When refined flours or rice are “enriched,” they return some of the B vitamins that were removed with processing. If you eat the recommended whole grains, you not only get the originally present vitamins but the fiber too.

Vegetables: Don’t be afraid! Try them all. Variety (favoring the dark green and orange veggies along with the dried beans and peas over the starchy vegetables like the potato) will assure a multitude of nutrients that your whole family needs.

Fruit: Fresh or frozen, canned or dried, even pureed fruit is still recommended to be part of a well balanced diet. Four servings a day squeezed into a typical diet can often even pass as a dessert for the end of a meal.

Oils: Unsaturated fats like canola and olive oil should be favored whenever the flavor of the dish will allow. Coconut oil and the solid fats (like butter) are high in saturated fats. Additionally, the beneficial health effects on inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular disease of the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids have led us to try to incorporate fish oils into our diet on a weekly basis.

Milk: Yogurt, cheese, and milk can provide calcium for our bones. Alternate calcium rich sources should be substituted in the lactose intolerant. Remember, without this food group, there is no Milk Chocolate, Ice Cream, or even pudding.

Meat & Beans: Choose lean meats. Bake, broil, or send your husband out into the wilderness of the porch with flesh and fire to return only after he has grilled your meat selection. Nuts and seeds can also be thrown in a salad and provide essential fatty acids as well as a crunch.

Healthy well-balanced meals Works-For-Me and my family. I hope this helps you when selecting foods for your family meals.

Join us tomorrow for Thrifty Thursday. We would love for you to share your thrifty ideas!
Enter our Rock the Tote diaper bag giveaway here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mother/Daughter Book Club

Today, I thought I would Talk About our Mother/Daughter Book Club. The summer following first grade, we joined four other mothers and daughters in forming a book club. We began reading children's versions of some classic tales and meeting once a month. Most of us read the books out loud to the girls and discussed the story as we read. We met once a month, rotating houses, and discussed the book as a group. We asked the girls to each come up with two questions or observations to share with the group. The questions began on a very basic level, but two years later, they are very thought provoking!

We have since added two more members, bringing out total to seven families. We have broadened our book selection as the girls have grown and tried to choose from multiple levels and genres. The girls truly look forward to these meetings and, even though they are not in the same class anymore, they have maintained a wonderful relationship. I have also found new friends in the other mothers. We have been able to share many concerns and celebrate many victories over these last two years.

If you have a reader in your life, or if you want to open the wonderful world of literature and create a life-long love of reading, I hope you consider starting a book club with your child!


Remember to join us on Thursdays for Thrifty Thursdays! Link your blog posts sharing your great money saving ideas!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Squash

It’s summer time! One of our favorite things about summer is all the local fresh fruits and vegetables. My family loves summer squash! We have found many ways to cook squash including steamed, fried, grilled, or casseroled. Today, I would like to share my mom's squash casserole recipe.

Squash Casserole Recipe

3 yellow squash cut in small chunks
¼ cup diced onions
½ stick of melted margarine
1 can cream of chicken
1 cup sour cream
¼ package of Pepperidge Farm Dressing Mix

Cook squash and onions in a small amount of water or steam for 10 minutes. Drain squash and onions and add cream of chicken, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix dressing mix with melted margarine. Place ½ of the dressing mix in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Place squash mix on top and cover with the remaining dressing mix. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

Have a great Menu Plan Monday!
Don't forget to check out our Rock The Tote giveaway HERE for a chance to win a fabulous diaper bag!


Rock the Tote Diaper Bag Giveaway! - CLOSED

One lucky reader will receive an awesome Rock the Tote diaper bag from Baby Star. We were thrilled when Baby Star asked us to do a review and giveaway. The diaper bag was perfect for me a mom with two toddlers and another baby on the way! You can read my review here.

Baby Star designed the Rock the Tote diaper bag with the modern mom or dad in mind. The diaper bag is formaldehyde free and comes with a BPA free wipes holder. It is also very stylish! The retail price is $87.99! Along with the giveaway, Baby Star has been kind enough to offer all of our readers a 30% discount off retail price! Just enter code: 20twinkle09 when ordering. The offer expires 12/31/09.

To enter, you must first post a comment below telling us what color or print you would choose for your Rock the Tote.

To earn additional entries:

1. Subscribe to the Baby Star e-mail newsletter here and come back and let us know.

2. Follow
Brilliant Moms and/or Baby Star on Twitter, tweet about the giveaway and post the link to your message in the comments here.

3. Become a Facebook Fan of
Brilliant Moms and/or Baby Star and come back and let us know.

4. Post a link to the giveaway on your blog and direct us to the entry in our comments.

Remember to post entries in the comments below. They will not be counted if left in other comment sections. Entries will be accepted thru 5pm EST on Friday 7/24/09. At that time, a Random Number Generator will be used to choose a winner! Baby Star will then contact you for your shipping information so they can send their wonderful prize package on its way to your door! Be sure your profile is set to public or leave your email address. If we have no way to contact you, another name will be drawn.

Good luck!!

Be sure to join us later this week for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday. Link up your blog posts sharing your best thrifty ideas!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Sunday!

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him wiith all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Saturday, July 18, 2009

UV Safety Month

According the American Cancer Society, July is Ultraviolet Safety Month. We often think of UV safety in these hot summer months when we are lathering up with sunscreen before we go outside. Today, I would like to remind us of UV safety of our eyes.
We often put on our sunglasses to look cool, but sunglasses are an important part of keeping our eyes healthy. The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these guidelines to buying and wearing sunglasses.

· Don’t focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses: Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don’t be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
· Check for 100 percent UV protection: Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
· Choose wrap-around styles: Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
· Wear a hat: In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
· Don’t rely on contact lenses: Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
· Don’t be fooled by clouds: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
· Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it’s especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
· Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye’s retina from solar radiation.
· Don’t forget the kids: Everyone is at risk, including children. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.

Our sunglasses can look cool and protect our eyes too!


Please join us later this week for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday! Link up your blog posts sharing your favorite money saving ideas!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Winner! Winner!

The time for entries in our Skinny Dip Candles Giveaway has passed and the winner has been chosen!
Response Number 3 was Brook!

Congratulations, Brook! We will pass your information along and we hope you enjoy your prize!
Take some time to browse the Pamper Pack selections and choose something to pamper yourself!

Packing A Picnic

July is National Picnic Month and one of our favorite family activites is packing a picnic and heading to our favorite, local lake. There are often boats on this lake and we love to watch them sail around. Local college students also tend to bring their instruments and give impromptu concerts right there on the grass. We also love to watch the dogs interacting and chasing the ducks!

In our continued effort to be eco-friendly, I have a few picnic tips that will help your picnic basket stay "green," too.

-Find a few plastic plates that can be washed and reused. We have found our favorites at Target and The Dollar Tree. I'm sure there are many other sources. Pack one for everyone.
-Bring the whole package! For packaged snacks, don't make a smaller portion size for each person and waste lots of plastic sandwich bags. If everyone has their own plate, you can just pass the items out once you've arrived.
-Use Tupperware. I wash and pre-cut our fruit and put it all together into a Tupperware container. We place this on our picnic blanket and everyone helps themselves. I put all the sandwiches together into one container, the desserts together, etc.
-Use cloth napkins. You can throw them back in your basket and wash them at home.
-Invest in reusable drink bottles. We make large quantites of lemonade at our home in the summer. We each fill our own drink bottle and put it into the basket. No juice boxes, bottles or cans to throw into the trash at the park where there isn't a recycling option.

For one small investment, you can have a picnic supply basket that will last you for years. After we return home and wash up, we keep all of our supplies together and are always very excited to pull the basket out and pack it up each time we are able to go.

I hope you're able to fit in a family picnic soon!


Please join us here every Thursday for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday! Link a post on your blog sharing your best money saving ideas!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thrifty Thursday- Kids Eat Free

We recently moved to another state. The move required us to be away from our home for several days. During this time, we ate out alot. Eating out can be expensive. Before the move, I researched restaurants where the kids could eat free. This made a huge savings in the cost of our move.
When thinking about this blog post, I came across an MSN story that listed restaurants where kids could eat free, at a reduce price, or get something, like an ice cream sundae, for free! We ate at a few of these restaurants during our move.
My family does not eat out alot, but when we do eat out we usually go where the kids can eat free. If you know of other restaurants where kids can eat free, please add it to the comments.

And, what could be more thrifty than a giveaway? Don't forget to enter our current one here!

What can you share with us for Thrifty Thursday? Link your blog posts below. Guidelines can be found here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Aid Kit For Your Vehicle

With active, accident-prone children, we've learned the importance of a "mobile" first aid kit. I always have a few bandages in my purse, but we also have a more extensive kit in our vehicle.

We began with this little kit from our local drugstore. There were multiple sizes of bandages and miscellaneous supplies. We have since tailored it more for our family.

Our kit contains:
- various sizes of bandages
- a small bottle of sanitizer
- a small tube of antibiotic ointment
- plastic gloves
- larger sterile pads and tape
- a roll of gauze
- tweezers
- a sling
- an instant ice pack

We believe its important to be prepared and there have been countless times at sporting events and at the park where we've been able to come to the aid of another family's child. It definitely Works For Me.


We hope you will join us later this week for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday! Link up your blog posts sharing your best thrifty ideas!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rock the Tote Diaper Bag Review

I was so excited when Baby Star asked us to do a review of their new Rock the Tote diaper bag! I recently found out that I am pregnant with our third child and my old diaper bag is torn. With two toddlers, we don’t leave home without our diaper bag. Usually it is stuffed with diapers, wipes, a set of extra clothes for each girl, and gold fish crackers. Now that we are in the process of potty training one of the girls, we take along her portable potty seat. Sometimes, I just don’t think I can stuff anything else in my diaper bag.

When I received my Rock the Tote diaper bag, I was surprised at all the space in the bag. It has several compartments to separate out your supplies. It comes with a cloth washable changing pad, which I love, so that I can wash it in the washing machine and a wipes container. One of my favorite features is the magnetic snap that closes the bag. Most of the time, I am working one handed at the changing table and it is a nice feature instead of having to deal with snaps and Velcro.

I chose the kaleidoscope print. It is very cool with nice orange, brown, and blue colors. The outside of the bag is laminated so it can be wiped off easily. I think the Rock the Tote diaper bag was designed with moms in mind. We need diaper bags with lots of room for everything we carry, and diaper bags that are easy to use and easy to clean. I would recommend this diaper bag to all moms with young kids.

Baby Star has been kind enough to offer our readers a discount code for 30% off retail price! Just enter code: 20twinkle09 when ordering. The offer expires 12/31/09. Thanks Baby Star for making a “mom friendly” diaper bag!

We will be giving away a Rock the Tote diaper bag to one lucky reader. The giveaway will start July 20, so be sure to join us!


Moving Tips

We have just come through our toughest move yet. Moving is never easy, but moving with two toddlers presents an extra challenge. I really did not consider how much “stuff” we had accumulated since our last move. The girls have toys, games, books, and a lot of baby items and clothes that they have out grown But, we need to save them for the new baby.

We have moved many times over our six year marriage, but this time movers were provided for us. My mind cannot even begin to imagine how hard it would have been if we had not had them. I’m sure we could have done it. However, with me pregnant and two small children, it would not have been pretty.

Over the course of the move, I thought about tips I could give to help others through the moving process and thought I would Talk About them today (and we will truly miss Talk About It Tuesday). These are either things that I did to prepare or things I wish I would have done. Our move included a long drive, a 4 night stay in a hotel, two toddlers, and two dogs.

Moving Tips

1. Go through your closets in advance and take clothes and items you no longer use to charity.
2. Put everything in your home in the correct place before packing begins.
3. Pack all of the things that you will need while you are away and place them in a separate area of the house.
4. Let the kids pick out toys to entertain themselves with while you are busy.
5. Set aside snacks for the kids, bibs, diapers, and extra clothes that you might need handy.
6. Open some boxes and let the kids play, so that they feel a part of the process.
7. Set aside all of your jewelry, computers, photo albums, and personal papers to take with you.
8. Ask relatives for help. My in-laws really helped us when it came to unpacking and entertaining the kids.
9. Take every piece of personal identification information with you when you go to the DMV! Check on-line for requirements.
10. Before your move, look up the local cardboard recycling information.
11. Keep a list of disconnecting and hook-up utilities. Some utility companies require a seven day advance notice.
12. Don’t stress out too much. Everything will get done eventually.

Our move went very smooth. We are still unpacking boxes and trying to settle into our new location. I hope these tips help you in your next move. Feel free to comment with your moving tips.


Please join us later this week for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday! Link up your blog posts sharing your favorite money saving ideas!

And, don't forget to enter the giveaway here!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tomato/Cucumber Salad

One of our favorite taste of summer recipes is this Cucumber/Tomato Salad. We make this all year, but it always reminds us of warm summer meals on the deck. It is super easy to make and my kids have taken over everything but the chopping. I thought I would share this family favorite for Menu Plan Monday!
Tomato/Cucumber Salad
-One English cucumber, sliced
-One pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
-1/3 c light sour cream
-1/3 c red wine vinegar
-splash of lime juice
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl and then add your veggies. Toss and enjoy!
Please join us later this week for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday! Link up your blog posts sharing your favorite money saving ideas!
And, don't forget to enter the giveaway here!

Giveaway Time! - CLOSED

Today, we are happy to host a wonderful giveaway sponsored by Skinny Dip Candles. We were lucky enough to receive samples of some of their fantastic items and you can read our review here. Their products are very well-made and we love supporting a company run by a Brilliant Mother/Daughter team!

Skinny Dip Candles has been generous enough to offer to send one of their Pamper Packs to one lucky winner! Maybe that will be you!

To enter, you must first post a comment below telling us what scent you would choose for your Pamper Pack. There are 11 wonderful scents to choose from and you can't go wrong with any of them. Choose from the list and comment now!

To earn additional entries:

1. Subscribe to Skinny Dip News here and come back and let us know.

2. Follow Brilliant Moms and/or Skinny Dip Candles on Twitter, tweet about the giveaway and post the link to your message in the comments here.

3. Become a Facebook Fan of Brilliant Moms and come back and let us know.

4. Post a link to the giveaway on your blog and direct us to the entry in our comments.

Remember to post entries in the comments below. They will not be counted if left in other comment sections. Entries will be accepted thru 5pm EST on Friday 7/17/09. At that time, a Random Number Generator will be used to choose a winner! Skinny Dip Candles will then contact you for your shipping information so they can send their wonderful prize package on its way to your door! Be sure your profile is set to public or leave your email address. If we have no way to contact you, another name will be drawn.
Good luck!!
Be sure to join us later this week for our new feature: Thrifty Thursday. Link up your blog posts sharing your best thrifty ideas!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Deuteronomy 4:35 KJV

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thrifty Manicures

I think that we all love a good manicure and pedicure. One way I have learned to keep our expenses down is to teach myself to do these at home! I do find that I prefer OPI polishes, so I go to my local salon and pick up a new color each season. With a little prep work and practice, I get a season's worth of pedicures for $7!! That is a huge savings in our budget and I'm already teaching my daughter how to do her own mani/pedi.

Do you have ways that you pamper yourself while still watching your budget?


Be sure to join us for our new weekly feature: Thrifty Thursday. Link up your blog posts next week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Farmer's Market

In recent months, my husband and I have tried to become more environmentally friendly by buying more local produce than store bought. We are blessed to live in location where you can go to the farmer’s market or local produce stand and pick up a variety of fruits and vegetables.

One of our favorite Saturday activities is going to the farmer’s market. We take the kids and spend the morning buying local produce, looking at crafts, and taste testing samples of local goodies. The farmer’s market that we go to has live music and vendors that serve breakfast and lunch. It’s fun for the whole family. The prices are reasonable, admission is free, and it’s entertaining. What more could you ask for on Saturday morning?

To support local farmers and businesses, help preserve the environment, and have a good time, visit a farmer’s market in your town.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thrifty Thursday - Simple Art Project

Welcome to our first Thrifty Thursday! Join us here each week to see our favorite "thrifty" ideas and please play along on your own blog and link with us!

I do consider myself to be quite thrifty when it comes to children's art. I like to use things around the house when it comes to our creative time. I recently brought the kids some of my husband's coffee filters. We pulled out some craft sticks and other various "bits" and created some beautiful butterflies! They chose to color some of the filters, and others were left plain. They were crumpled and glued to the back of the craft sticks. Then, they were "accessorized" with google eyes, pom poms and whatever else struck them that day.

A very fun craft for pennies! I hope you can make some of these with your creative kids!


What can you share with us for Thrifty Thursday? Link your blog posts below. Guidelines can be found here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Small Groups

A few months ago, the minister at my church gave a sermon on small groups. A small group is a group of people with common interests and/or age that get together to have fellowship and Bible Study. Many groups meet once a week, but some meet every other week, once a month, or whenever the participants prefer. There have been several started in our church since the message.

A group of moms from my Sunday school class decided to give a small group a try. In my small group, we have moms around the same age that have kids around the same age. We get together every other week on Thursday nights at 8 pm.

Our fellowship begins with conversation and homemade goodies. Then, we do prayer requests and discuss some of that week’s lesson. We chose a book called The Frazzled Female with which to start our small group. It is an easy read and helps us moms learn how to use God’s word to decrease the stress in our lives. My favorite thing about the book we chose is that it reminds us to be positive and look to God for help and guidance in our daily lives.

Our small group has really been good for all the ladies. At the end of the night, we each write down a prayer request, put them in a hat, and draw one out. We pray for the prayer request that we draw until our next meeting. I feel like the ladies in my group are getting much closer. We are starting to develop a unique bond that will last for years.

I would encourage all moms to get in a small group for fellowship, fun, and learning God’s word together. If your church does not have small groups, invite a few ladies over and start your own! It Works For Me!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Waste Reduction Tips

Our family produces very little trash. We have this roll-out container provided by the waste removal company and it is standard for our neighborhood, but ours rarely has much in it. We, as a family of four, have no more than two kitchen size bags of trash per week. Here's how we do it:

- Check into your area's recycling program. Learn what they recycle. If you've never watched The Story of Stuff, I would urge you to do so. My children attend a "green" school, so they are very aware of what can be recycled as well. We recycle all glass containers, most plastics (even the smallest containers are rinsed and put in the recycle bin, look for the symbol on everything before you throw it out), cardboard, paper and aluminum cans. It doesn't take much longer to put it into the recycling area instead of the trash.
- Sort your mail right over your recycle area. Most of our mail ends up there. Call any company that sends you catalogs and ask to be removed from the list. Most can be viewed online. If not, you can call when you need to order something and receive one catalog at that time. Sign up to receive your bank statements and bills via email if you pay them online. Zero waste and you can print a copy if you need it for tax purposes.
- Consider whether you need the newspaper everyday. Most can be viewed online now. We do receive the paper, but it ALWAYS goes into the recycle pile.
- Check with your local school. Ours has a paper recycling program that is a fundraising opportunity as well. We take all of our paper there when our bin fills up. Once a year, they also collect plastic grocery bags to be recycled (and many grocery stores have areas for this as well). They also accept printer cartridges that they exchanged for new ones at the office store. See if there is a local organization you can help out!
- Bring your own bags. We don't take bags from stores. Period. You will be amazed how much waste this eliminates from your home. If you take them, reuse and recycle them.
- Buy in bulk. If the price is close, we buy the larger size package. Less packaging equals less waste. We also don't buy many individually packaged items. Be conscious of packaging choices and try to make the eco-friendly one.
- Donate items that can be used by others. We give lots of books, toys and clothes to neighbors. What they can't use, we take to our local Goodwill.
- Yard waste and food scraps can be composted. We are not able to do that where we live right now, but we hope to in the future.
- Reuse everyday items. We make arts and crafts from cardboard boxes and egg cartons. We make musical instruments from toilet paper tubes. Think beyond the original use and see what you can come up with!

Do you have other great waste reduction tips you want to Talk About? Share them in the comments!


Monday, July 6, 2009

Pepperoni Rolls

One of our friends recently gave us a great recipe for pepperoni rolls. They are very easy to make. A batch can be made and put into a bulk ziploc bag to be eaten over several days. You can freeze them and pull them out a few at a time. Or, you can bag them individually and hand them out as snacks or sell them as part of a bake sale. I wanted to share the recipe for Menu Plan Monday!

Pepperoni Rolls

One bag of frozen dinner roll dough

Sliced pepperoni

1 lb. Mozzarella cheese

Coat pan (15x10) with non-stick cooking spray. Place frozen dough on pan, cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray, and let thaw about one hour. Flatten the dough a little and place 3 slices of pepperoni fanned out overlapping in the center of dough. Take a bit of cheese and place on pepperoni. Roll the dough aroung the filling and pinch closed. Let rise 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pan on top of the stove to let rise if your kitchen is cold.

After rolls have doubled in size. Bake 10 minutes, turn the pan, and bake 10 more minutes.

Let the pepperoni rolls cool completely then place in bags.

Our kids are young, but I am looking forward to serving this easy recipe at our kid's sleepovers, after ball game parties, and as snacks on family trips.

Thanks Charlene for this great recipe!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matthew 7:1 KJV

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

America the Beautiful
By: Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!
O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Family Game Night - Uno Attack

We love to play games together as a family. One that everyone easily agrees on is Uno Attack. We love this game and, since our kids became old enough to hold all of the cards in their hands, they have, too. We help our youngest out some (reminding him what card he can play when it's his turn), but he's getting better each time he plays.

What is your favorite Game Night game?


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thrifty Thursday Guidelines

Next week we will begin a new adventure called Thrifty Thursday! Would you like to join us for Thrifty Thursday? Here are some guidelines for you to follow when participating.

Thrifty Thursday is a blog carnival where we all write a post about a thrifty idea and post them here together on the Brilliant Moms blog. It’s a wonderful way to share ideas and make new blog friends!

Feel free to write about any thrifty ideas. They can be ideas about saving money around the home, ways to buy children's clothing at discounted prices, yard sale tips or countless other ideas. We only ask that you keep things positive and family friendly. And don’t forget that we like pictures if you have them.

Anyone is welcome to join. Just write your post and come here on Thursday to leave the link in Mr. Linky at the bottom of the post.

Please include Thrifty Thursday in your post and link back here so your readers can join in on the fun!

Link to your individual Thrifty Thursday post NOT your home page or your link may be deleted. If you need help linking to an individual post, try this: click on the title of the post you want to link to on your blog and click “Copy Shortcut” and then paste it into Mr. Linky.

Enter a short description of your post, in parentheses, after your name. Give us a hint about what you're writing about and we'll come visit!

And, feel free to grab this logo if you would like! We would love if you would link it back to our blog!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!

Thanks for joining in the fun!

Home-Grown Organic Tomatoes

My family loves tomatoes. A few years ago, I picked up a tomato plant at Costco and tested to see if I had a green thumb. My husband doubted that I would get my money back in tomatoes, but I was hopeful to prove him wrong. I had my own doubts about my green thumb, but soon my tomato plant started growing. It kept growing and growing until I had to get a bigger pot and tie it up to our fence. Soon, we had many tomatoes, so many that I began giving them away to neighbors and trading them for other vegetables. At the time, we didn’t know our neighbors very well, so this was a great way to get to know everyone.

I love home-grown tomatoes. There is nothing like picking a warm tomato off the vine and eating it. When I was a little girl, my mom used to have a garden, and we had many tomato plants. She used to can tomatoes to make soup and tomato dumplings the next winter. Growing tomatoes is easy. Just keep the plant watered, trim the branches that do not have a bloom, and tie the tomato plant up when it gets so big it starts to fall over.

The best thing about growing your own tomatoes is that you know the tomatoes really are organic. Organic tomatoes are expensive in the store but easy to grow. We definitely got our money back and saved a lot of money too. We moved this year, so we were not able to have a tomato plant. But, I am looking forward to trying my green thumb out again next year.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How To Handle Kids' Papers And Artwork

My kids come home with so many papers and so much artwork that it can quickly get out of control. I have devised a system that Works For Me and wanted to share.

I found this fabulous set of drawers at The Container Store, but you can use a rolling cart, some boxes or any system that works for you. As the kids bring things home from school, I go thru them that night. Things I think I might want to keep go into the drawer labeled with their name. I keep things like good test papers, award certificates, my favorite artwork. A lot of things are immediately recycled. The kids understand that I cannot keep everything they make. If there is a larger art project that is cumbersome to store, I take a photo of them with it and it goes into our picture album. We keep the memory without the clutter!

At the end of the school year, I purge back thru the drawer and pick the "best of the best" from what I saved. I look for good examples of their handwriting, what they worked on that year in different subjects, poems or stories they wrote and some of their best artwork. I put these items into an album for them that is divided by year and include their school photo, class picture, ribbons and other memorabilia from the year. I place their sports and extracurricular activity memorabilia in here as well within that school year. You can get a simple package of acid-free page protectors and a binder from the office store to duplicate my system.

I hope that my kids will have a wonderful book of memories to look thru with their own children someday!