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Monday, December 31, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfasts:

Lunches:
  • PB&J/Soups x3
  • Cheese Tortillas and Fruit x2
  • Eat Out at Subway (we got a gift card for Christmas!)
  • Ham Sandwiches
Dinners:

Monday: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
Tuesday: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches on English Muffin Bread
Wednesday/Thursday: Cheesy Chicken (Wild) Rice Casserole
Friday/Saturday: Black Bean Tacos
Sunday: Omelets and Toast on Leftover English Muffin Bread

Snacks:
  • Apples
  • Homemade Granola
  • Yogurt Tubes (I found two boxes on clearance last week for $0.67!)
  • Christmas Treats (time to finish these off)
  • Peanut Butter Graham Crackers
  • Goldfish Crackers
  • Strawberry Banana Smoothies

2012 Monthly Goals In Review

For 2012, I made a goal for each month.  Some were successful, and some were not.  Here's the year in review:

January: Make one of these note card journal calendars. And then use it. I have note cards, so if I don't get to making it right away, I can at least start journaling.  I did this one! I love how it turned out, and I actually used it to review for our Christmas letter.

February: Deep clean my refrigerator. It's not a glamorous goal, but it needs to be done. Not a pretty job, but complete.

March: Make a spring/Easter decorative hanger for our door. Or maybe finish the one I started last year...After finishing this, I don't love the color combination (I went with what was in the pattern), but I am glad to have completed an unfinished project.

April: Make a reusable Swiffer duster refill (or two, since I have two dusters). These are really useful, and the kids still do most of the dusting for me!

May: Make at least 2 "busy bag" learning activities for Jonah.  I did get a few of these made, although not until July...

June: Get everything packed up, purged, and organized for our move. It's not a big move. Just back into town. But it is still moving, and all the fun that goes with it. Complete!

July: Get our new place set up, and routines reestablished. A new place, plus the busy-ness of moving, will throw everything off for awhile. Complete!

August: Take $10 and go to the dollar store and/or thrift store and find something to take from trash to treasure in a crafty way.  I had high hopes for this one, and it just never materialized.  Maybe next year?

September: Bake myself a pretty birthday cake (or cupcakes, or whatever I'm in the mood for).  I made myself a yummy chocolate and peanut butter cake.

October: Begin planning Christmas gifts for the year. This last year went pretty well, because I planned early, but I still ended up working on quite a few projects well into December. This year I want to figure everything out and set up a schedule so I can spread the projects out more, and enjoy more free time (and baking!) in December.  First half: successful.  I had everything planned with plenty of time to spare.  Second part: miserable failure.  I didn't start working on most of my projects until mid-December, and this was definitely another stressful time for me.

November: Prepare an Advent calendar with fun activities for each day in December. I wanted to do this last year, but didn't end up having time.  I started the Advent calendar.  And it honestly hasn't gotten much beyond what is in those photos.  But I do plan on continuing to work on it throughout this next year, and hopefully it will be done for next year.

December: Create at least 3 homemade Christmas decorations, including at least 1 with the kiddos. Projects are fun!  Fail.  I had lots of grand ideas, and while we did make some treats together, I spent most of my time crafting presents for other people.  There's always next year?

Overall, I enjoyed this method of making New Year's Resolutions better than just having a general list for the whole year.  I did discover that I need to make sure to actually refer back to the list more frequently, because some goals I simply forgot about because I hadn't looked at it in awhile.  For next year, I haven't decided what I want to do yet.  I have no idea how the addition of a new baby in May, plus another potential move to an as-of-now unknown location will throw things for a loop.

I've also thought of doing a monthly goals post instead of one list at the beginning of the year.  It will be more accurate to whatever our current situation may be, but will still give me something to work towards, which definitely helps me keep my sanity as a stay-at-home mom.

How about you? What are some of your goals for this year?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Homemade Christmas Present Roundup

Merry Christmas!  I hope you are all enjoying the holidays with those you love, celebrating Jesus' birth.  I will be back to regular posting next week, but for now, here's a roundup of homemade Christmas presents from both this year and years past:

I do enjoy coming up with new projects each year, finding things that fit each person.  However, I tend to come up with lots of good ideas bright and early, and then not work on them until the last minute.  Someone remind me to start working on these projects before mid-December next year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What I'm Reading...

46 Reasons Why My Three Year Old Might Be Freaking Out. (Jason Good)

Newtown, Loss, And Parenting As Though Tomorrow Will Always Come. (The Happiest Mom)

Hard Water Deposits In A Toilet Bowl. Not as fun as some articles I read and post, but definitely handy. (Home Ec 101)

Luke 2. The reason for the season.

May you all have a blessed Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Lord!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Fleece Block-y Balls

I tried really hard to think of a way to describe these besides "I made some giant balls."  Pardon my second grade humor.  I found a pattern for these fleece blocks, which looked like fun, but I wanted BIGGER.  


For a size comparison, here are the balls with my 20 ounce water cup.  They're big.


To make these, I cut six 15" squares of fleece per ball.  I measured, kind of, but if you know anything about how I craft, or cook, for that matter, I tend to just guesstimate and it usually works out okay.  My lines were not perfectly straight.  Then I cut strips on the sides, five per side, plus cutting off the corners.  (Go look at the pattern I linked if that doesn't make sense.)

I tied them together and realized that maybe 15" was a bit too large, but 10" as suggested seemed too small.  So find a happy medium...

I put a big jingle bell from the craft store in one.  I took the suggestion I found here to put it in a plastic Easter egg first so the jingle wouldn't get muffled, and I filed the rest of that block with stuffing.  The second one I filled with plastic grocery bags, so it makes a fun crinkling noise.  Yay sensory learning!  If I have time, I may make a third one, but that one will simply have stuffing and be quiet.  

These might be too huge for stacking, but they should be fun for rolling around, leaning on, and hopefully shaking until the jingle bell drives their parents crazy  to enjoy pretty music.

These didn't turn out exactly how I had envisioned them in my head, but I really like them, and I hope the cute little girl who ends up with them enjoys them too!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Family Ornaments

Some of my favorite Christmas ornaments are the personalized family ones.  I wanted to make one, not only for us, but also for some of our friends and family.  I still have a personalized one from my childhood that has my parents, my sister, and me (but no little brother!), and I think it's awesome.  


To make these, I grabbed a package of colorful beads and some small, round, wooden beads at the craft store.  I already had the wire on hand.  I cut one strip of wire and doubled it over for the "base" to hang the people from.  I looped each end of the base so I would have something to attach the ribbon to hang it.

Then I cut a smaller strip of wire for each person, threaded on the beads (3 colorful ones per adult, 2 per kid, and just 1 for baby bean), and twisted it around the base.  For those that I knew, I tried to use their favorite colors, or at least more feminine colors for the girls, and masculine colors for the boys.  A pliers helped, but my thumbs still hurt from the twisting.

I had plans to add a little nameplate to the top with "DeDeyne 2012", but I couldn't find anything that looked quite right, so I just left that off.  I still like how it turned out, and I hope the recipients of the other ones I made will like them too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Food In Jars



One of my favorite homemade Christmas presents (both to give and receive) is food in jars.  The mixes are (usually) layered and pretty to look at, while also still being useful and consumable.  This year we made Taco Bean Chili and Cornbread Mix for our pastors and church administrator.  The cornbread mix is the standard recipe I use, which was on the back of the cornmeal package.  Jonah and Matthew even helped dump the ingredients into the jars!

I also included a bag of peanut butter granola, but that didn't make it into the picture.  I printed the directions for the mixes onto labels and stuck them right onto the jars, so they won't get lost.  We recycled some jars that had been given to us last year with other goodies in them, as well as some cleaned out pickle, salsa, and sauce jars that I had saved from the past few months.  This is an easy (and cheap!) present that can be appreciated after the holidays are over.

Monday, December 17, 2012

CVS Coupon Shopping



I separated my shopping trip into 2 transactions so I could use some of the ECBs right away and pay less out of pocket.  The cashiers are always very friendly about that, which is nice.  We don't need razors, but my brother's favorite kind is the Fusion one, and I needed something to add to his Christmas present.  They worked out to be a decent deal with the coupons I had, so I bought them.

Transaction #1:
  • 2 Gillette Disposable Razor Packs: $11.29 each. Used B1G1 (P&G 11/25/12) - took off $11.99.
  • Gillette Fusion Razor: $10.79. Used $5/1 when you buy cartridges or disposables (P&G 11/25/12).
  • Used $8.88 in ECBs from previous trips = paid $9.67, got $10ECBs for spending $30 on Gillette products.
Transaction #2:
  • 3 Huggies Snug & Dry Jumbo Packs: $10 each.  Used three $3/1 printables.
  • Used $10ECBs from Transaction #1 = paid $11.00, got $10ECBs for spending $30 on diapers.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday/Tuesday: Ham & Bean Soup, Biscuits
Wednesday: Cheesy Italian Broccoli Chicken Casserole
Thursday: TBD, something with black beans from the freezer
Friday: Dinner with Katy's parents
Saturday: Family Christmas #2
Sunday: Family Christmas #2 Leftovers

One Welke family tradition for Christmas has always been to do an appetizer feast, where each person picks a food and everyone pigs out.  I forget how it started, but it's a fun way to splurge on some of the treats we don't eat very often otherwise. 

Once Christmas is over, I'll be working on getting back into more regular menu planning of all of the meals again, and getting more fruits and veggies back into our diet, which has been pretty carb and sugar heavy lately.  I'm not foolish enough to attempt that the week of Christmas! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Historical Motherhood Series: Rosie The Riveter.  A look at one of the most iconic figures in advertising. (The Happiest Mom)

Overdid The Compromises? 7 Simple, Frugal, At-Home Detox Options.  The bath that draws toxins out of your skin is intriguing, but I think I'll wait until I'm done being pregnant for that one. (Kitchen Stewardship)

90 Clutter-Free Gift Ideas. (Home Your Way)

Why I Don't Bake From Scratch (But I Think It's Awesome If You Do). I bake from scratch a lot, but not always. (The Happiest Mom)

This Is Your Brain On Crafts.  I originally read this article in the November copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine (yes, I'm a little behind), and I liked it, so I tried to find it online. There's a link in this post to a pdf.  Crafting is good for your well-being.  To which I say, well, duh!

The Easy Guide To A Productive You In 2012.  I like the 3-item list idea.  My lists are always super long though. (Work Your Way)

High Fructose Corn Syrup: What Is It? And Is It Really That Bad? We've mostly eliminated HFCS from our diet, except in cereals and occasional condiments. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

How To Train Your Robot: How I Teach Kids To Program Without Computers.  My nerdy side thinks this is awesome! (Offbeat Families)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Tile Coasters

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is creating and giving homemade gifts.  I always try to come up with something personalized that the person will really love and use.  I have seen several variations of these tile photo coasters around the blogs, and I knew I wanted to try them.

Materials:
  • 4 or 5 plain white tiles ($0.16 each at Home Depot)
  • Scrap felt for feet (so they don't scratch the table)
  • Hot glue
  • 4x6 photos, trimmed to size
  • Mod Podge and a paintbrush
 After laying down some of my favorite comics (love Baby Blues!), I cut out some scrap felt squares for the "feet" for the coasters. 

I also trimmed my 4x6 photos to fit. 


Then I hot glued the felt to the bottom of the tiles.

And finally, I painted on a layer of Mod Podge.  It looks terribly streaky at first, but it does all soak into the paper and dry after a bit.  According to the bottle, you need to wait at least 15-20 minutes between layers, but I waited a little longer than that.

I ended up doing 5 layers of Mod Podge, and then I sprayed them with some clear fixitive to seal them.


Then I wrapped them up with some pretty ribbon and ta da! Homemade present!


Also, please excuse the messiness of my table in the photos.  A lot of crafting and baking has been happening here over the past few days...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents: Snowman Hot Cocoa Jars

Aren't these adorable? I made these up for some of our nieces and nephews for a little Christmas treat.  They are really simple to make. 

Jonah and Matthew helped me fill the jars.  The bottom one has 1/4 cup hot cocoa powder in it.  The middle one has M&Ms, and the top one has mini marshmallows.  I hot glued the 3 jars together, drew on a Sharpie face and buttons, and wrapped a ribbon scarf around their necks.  Easy!  I'm sure they will enjoy this yummy treat.

HyVee Coupon Shopping


I always love a good cereal deal!  Selected Kellogg's cereals are 6/$10 today and tomorrow at HyVee, with some added bonuses...
  • 6 Kellogg's cereals: 6/$10.  Used $0.50/1 Krave, and two $1/2 various printables = paid $7.50/6.
  • Yoplait Yogurt 2-pack: $2.39.  Used $2/1 yogurt when you buy 4 Kellogg's cereals (peelie on cereal package) = paid $0.39.
  • HyVee Orange Juice: $0.99.  Used $1/1 juice when you buy 2 Krave cereals printable = free.
  • HyVee Ice Cream: $1.48.
  • Tortilla Chips: $1.88.
  • Chili: $1.49. (The chips and chili are by Jesse's request. We got some Velveeta as part of our Seminary food donations, and he's really excited to make it.)
  • Total spent: $12.58.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Walgreens Coupon Shopping


Although the Walgreens diapers aren't our favorites (they tend to leak at night), we need some extra diapers for upcoming travels, so I picked up a few packs since they were on sale.
  • 2 Jumbo Packs Diapers: B1G1 $8.99 = $4.49 per pack.
  • 2 Walgreens Wipes: B1G1 $2.29 = $1.15 per pack.
  • 2 Hershey's Bliss Candies: $3 each.  Used $2/2 printable and $2/2 (Walgreens December booklet) = paid $1 each.
  • Pictures for a craft project (not shown): $0.95.
  • Total spent: $14.91.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Menu Plan Monday



Monday: Leftover Pork Chops and Potatoes (cooked by Jesse on Sunday)
Tuesday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Wednesday: Church Dinner
Thursday: Loaded Baked Potatoes
Friday: Dinner with Katy's Parents
Saturday: Family Christmas Party #1
Sunday: TBD

We have a pretty easy week this week, as we will be getting ready for the first (of 3) family Christmas of the year.  Along with the treats we made last week, the kids and I also made some yummy sprinkle cookies (pictured above).  They are delicious, and the base would go well for any "kiss cookies" if the typical peanut butter ones aren't your favorite.

This week we will be working on a bunch of our homemade Christmas gifts for family and friends, as well as baking a few more Christmas goodies.  Watch for more to come later this week!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Easy No-Bake Christmas Treats!

Yesterday afternoon, Jonah and Matthew and I made two easy and yummy Christmas treats.  While they did more eating than helping, they both enjoyed helping make these treats.


Peanut Butter Chex Mix

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups Chex cereal, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup peanuts or other nuts
  • 6-8 oz. almond bark
  • 1/4 cup M&Ms (we didn't have any, but these totally would have made it better)
Directions:

Line 2 cookie sheets with wax paper and set aside.  Melt peanut butter and butter together. Pour over 3 cups of Chex cereal.  Add peanuts and mix to coat.  Dump onto one cookie sheet to harden. 

Melt almond bark.  Pour over 3 cups of Chex cereal.  Add M&Ms and mix to coat.  Dump onto other cookie sheet to harden.  After cereal has hardened and dried, break up the larger chunks and mix the two kinds together.  Store in an air-tight container.


Ritz Cracker Sandwiches

Ingredients:
  • Ritz crackers (We used 46)
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond bark (We used about 7oz. on 23 sandwiches, but 8oz. would have been better)
  • Sprinkles
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside.  Spread peanut butter on half the crackers and top with the other half to make sandwiches.  Melt almond bark and dip the sandwiches to coat, turning over to get all sides.  Set on cookie sheet.  Top with sprinkles (the kids' favorite part!).  Let sit to harden (10-15 minutes).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Target Coupon Shopping


I love when the coupon deals match up with something we need! In this case, body wash for Jesse and Kleenex for my pregnancy congestion.
  • 4 Right Guard Body Wash: $3.49 each. Used two $3/2 printables and four $1.50/1 Target printables = paid $1.76/4!
  • 4 Up & Up Facial Tissues: $0.99 each.  Used four $0.50/1 Target printables = paid $0.49 each.
  • 2 Cars cars: $1.99 each. These are normally $3.49 each, so I was excited to see a great sale price on a few we don't have yet.  The boys were excited too.
  • Total spent: $8.87.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Dinners for this week:

Monday: Black Bean Enchiladas
Tuesday: Chicken Noodle Casserole
Wednesday: Advent Dinner at Church
Thursday/Friday: Ham & Split Pea Soup
Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner - English Muffin Bread, Eggs, Bacon
Sunday: Meat (whatever I find on special over the next week), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Sunday, December 2, 2012

HyVee and CVS Coupon Shopping

On Thursday I stopped by HyVee to grab some bread and milk and a few essentials, but I also picked up some small bags of cereal that were on sale for $0.59 each.  I used two $1.50/3 printable coupons, which means I paid a whopping $0.54 total for 6 bags.  Yes, they're tiny, but that's still some cheap cereal! This deal goes through tomorrow, I believe.

And today, I went to CVS for the best deals this week.
  • Pampers Jumbo Pack: $9.99, get $4ECBs.  Used $2/1 printables = paid $7.99, got $4ECBs.
  • 4 Hersheys Assorted Candies: 4/$10, get $3ECBs.  Used two $2/2 printables = paid $6, got $3ECBs. This didn't ring up right at first, but after checking it, I was able to get my ECBs after the fact.
  • 4 Halls Vitamin C Drops: 2/$3. Used two $1/2 (SS 11/04/12) = paid $4/4. Not the best deal, but we go through A LOT of these each winter.
I also used $17.32 in ECBs from last time, so I ended up paying $1.85, most of which was tax.  I got back the $4ECBs for the diapers, the $3ECBs for the candy, and $1ECB for my green bag tag. 

What I'm Reading...

6 Tips For Eating Healthy While Away From Home.  These are more for staying somewhere with a kitchen than for, say, visiting family members, but still good tips.  (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

Learn From Someone Who's Moved 8 Times. This is a good list of moving stuff (as someone who's moved, what? 13 times now).  I like the idea of labeling the things you pack up last "Unpack this first". That's smart. (Offbeat Home)

Bridging The Gap With My Children's Interests: Why One Geeky Dad Is Learning To Love Cartwheels.  And why I know so much about how steam engines work. (Offbeat Mama)

My Approach To Holiday Traditions: Sit Back, And Let Them Happen.  I had lots of grand ideas (many Pinterest inspired) for things we could do for Christmas.  And we'll probably do some of them.  But I'm not going to worry about it too much, at least not this year. (The Happiest Mom)