August 16, 20110 found this helpful
I also keep some bottles of water in my freezer. Then when I need to fill the cooler, I put a layer of frozen bottles on the bottom. I have to admit, I really started to do this so that I didn't have to mess with draining the water after ice cubes melted. Also, the bottles can be refrozen over and over. And, if I want a drink, a half unfrozen bottle of water is pretty refreshing.
August 4, 20110 found this helpful
We did something similar for our American Girl type dolls. My daughter was desperate for a bed for her doll, which I knew she would be receiving from Grandma for her birthday months later. I used a white bookshelf (like the kind from Target that you assemble yourself) and an old curtain. I did have to buy a tension rod for the curtain. She used one shelf for a doll bed with some doll blankets and a pillow and then we got another tension rod to make a closet for the other shelf. It's really cute with the curtain to close when she's asleep and to conceal her doll closet.
July 7, 20110 found this helpful
I completely agree - I started reading to my daughters before they could sit up! If you don't believe how great the benefits are or would like to feel really good about reading to children, check out this book:
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
It provides a list of great books to read out loud to kids with the best ages for each book and a wealth of information about how much better kids will do in math and other seemingly non-related subjects thanks to solid reading skills.
I feel like it is my duty to use our public library. Each time the tax statement comes and it shows the line item of what I'm paying to support my library, it tells me that I need to check out at least the value worth of books. Our library has provided hours of entertainment through its story hours and special events outside of the actual books we check out each week. I love the library!
June 8, 20110 found this helpful
I so agree with you about using the same backpack again! This is one of those things that is worth the initial investment. We got ours from LL Bean and they look great after year one of use. I plan for them to last through elementary school. Our LL Bean ones were nice because I could get them embroidered with my daughters' first initials (for safety I didn't get their whole names). We were lucky to also have next year's supply list come out now as school is ending. When the backpack comes home this week, we will clean it out, and start filling it back up for the fall.
June 5, 20110 found this helpful
I've gotten a great library of kid's magazines at garage sales. Often magazines that are about animals or literature based, so they don't really get outdated. I have a big crate with hanging folders marked by the month. Next June, this year's old Ranger Rick or Ladybug magazine is new all over again. I also save the magazines that my daughters receive as gifts from grandparents. My crate is also a great source of "new" material to take to waiting rooms (and comes without mystery germs). When they start to outgrow them, we'll already have a stash of animal pictures for school projects.
April 10, 20110 found this helpful
We rounded up when trying to track all of our spending of cash, bills, etc. We used an extra calendar (a free giveaway, of course) at the end of each day to write down all money we spent and found it was much easier to just round it up than to remember to the penny.
March 14, 20110 found this helpful
In addition to really being conscious of using very little toilet paper (we use the kind from Aldi which states "septic safe" on the package), don't forget to use a product like Rid-X once a month. We use something called Green Pig which comes in packets that dissolve in the bowl. I make a mental note to use this on the first of each month. (I'm pretty paranoid about the septic system since moving into our home that needed many renovations including new carpet in finished basement. Our septic tank backed-up all over less than 48 hours after the carpet was installed - when it comes to the septic, you can't be too careful!)
February 10, 20110 found this helpful
Just last night, I presented the girls in my daughter's Daisy troop with personalized tote bags for them to have a place to keep their tunics, journey books, and the folder that their leaders put messages in to the parents. My hope is that it helps the girls in working toward a petal (Daisy version of a badge) for "being responsible for what I say and do" because they be responsible for their own Daisy gear and special items to bring to meetings. It is also my hope that it means that the Daisy moms and dads will have stress-free times getting out the door to the meetings because their girls will already have their things ready to go in their totes. I was able to create a tote for free (and paid only shipping of less than $5) on www.vistaprint.com. (When I made the totes, I was able to make a free t-shirt for no extra shipping, so since I'm the cookie mom for the troop, they also received "I love Girl Scout Cookies" t-shirts.)
January 18, 20110 found this helpful
I have used bakery emulsions from LorAnn. They sell an array of oils for flavoring candies as well as bakery emulsions. Their website is:
I don't know about international shipping. They are based in Michigan. They have an online catalog and that is the primary way they do their business. You could try contacting them via email.
January 16, 20110 found this helpful
I also love bakery emulsions. I get mine from www.lorannoils.com. They have an online catalog. I use their "Princess" emulsion which my little daughters just love the idea of for our little tea party treats.
October 8, 20100 found this helpful
My kindergartner has been begging me to let her take her lunch. I finally caved and here are a few of the things we've tried: *mini bagel sandwiches (we got mini bagels at Aldi - a great store for a good deal if you have one in your area) She likes cheese and a little lettuce or cream cheese and fruit preserves. The mini ones seem to be a good size for a younger child.
*plain yogurt (I think there's too much sugar in the flavored kinds) with frozen fruit layered it. It keeps the yogurt cold until lunch and she gets to choose the fruit of the day. I use the plastic containers with the lids that twist on so there are no spills.
*drinks - I use a reusable "juice box" that I got in the store where they sell the plastic food containers. It cost about $1.50 and can be used over and over. It has a built-in straw and folds closed so there are no spills. I like to fill it part way with milk or juice, freeze it overnight and then top it off in the morning. This is a big savings over 50 cents per carton at school.
*baby carrots/grapes are a regular favorite here and don't take any prep work from me.
October 7, 20100 found this helpful
I take photos of my children's art projects. I started doing this when my daughters were in preschool. I take a picture of them holding each work of art. It's been fun to see how both the artwork and themselves have changed overtime. This has also made it possible to memorialize the artwork without keeping every single piece of it. I, too, love digital cameras!
September 19, 20100 found this helpful
I think turning 10 on 10-10-10 is more like a platinum birthday! How special for her! When my husband turned 29 on the 29th, I got him things and decorated in increments of 29. He loves jelly bellies, so he got 2.9 pounds, 29 socks, I blew up 29 balloons (while 8 months pregnant), etc. I like the idea of a scavenger hunt, maybe tying in pictures or memories of her ten years (or past birthdays), perhaps with 10 places around the house (or the town) with 10 small gifts. Ten is such a great age to have a golden birthday, she'll be old enough to appreciate and remember it and still think it's fun.
September 18, 20100 found this helpful
I love this idea! My daughters, who are 3 and 5, started doing this when my husband got a new job out of town and was gone through the week. It was a little way that my girls could feel closer to Daddy when he wasn't home. This was especially great for my younger daughter who is "Daddy's kid."
September 3, 20100 found this helpful
My husband has suffered from kidney stones for several years. He has undergone surgery because one formed so large it could not be passed. It does depend on the individual as to what foods to avoid. Ideally, one should have their own stone analyzed. The recommendation for my husband was to follow a low oxalate diet. This means avoiding many foods that are high in oxalates. Do an internet search for a low oxalate diet and you will find a list of foods to avoid. Many of my husband's favorite foods are on his list of foods to avoid. He has to decide if he wants to eat a bunch of strawberries or pass a stone sometime in the future. As others have recommended, drinking a generous amount of water every day is one of the ways his doctors recommended to avoid future stones.
March 25, 20100 found this helpful
I also take a picture of my daughter with her art. I like having an idea of the age she was when she made things. (I can't get over how in her first art pictures from preschool, her little pigtails were just barely to her chin. That was less than two years ago, and now her hair is all the way down her back.) I also keep about a semester's worth of art and put everything on a blanket in the backyard for a big arial collage picture. Then she gets to choose a very limited number of items that she loves most to keep.
December 12, 20090 found this helpful
I would try ordering a personalized book with a character he loves. My daughters have a Disney Princess book with their names in it and they love reading a story that includes them. I know there is a Disney Cars version, and others if you search online.
Try www.identitydirect.com. (This website has Christmas delivery for orders placed by the 14th.)
I like books because you can read them together, especially still at age 5. Board games are a great choice, also, because they are still about spending time together which is what any kid really wants.
December 11, 20090 found this helpful
Check out this article for Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day:
I use this for a loaf of crusty bread with soup, croutons, pizza crust, "pockets" with whatever leftover veggies, meat, cheese is rolling around in the fridge, and bread bowls for chili, soup, etc.
Yes, it really only takes about 5 minutes of active work. There is a little waiting for one rise and baking. You can make the dough in advance and keep in the refrigerator. I always have some a batch waiting for me. It lasts up to two weeks.
April 10, 20090 found this helpful
Your house looks great! I usually buy a few of the gingerbread house kits on clearance after Christmas. I find that buying the kit on clearance is usually cheaper than trying to buy all the different candy. We usually have "Gingerbread January" at our house since December always seems so busy. We've also done a house for St. Patrick's Day with a little lephrechan, rainbows, pot of gold, lots of green frosting, etc. We're going to make a "chicken coop" for our Peeps for Easter this year.