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Gardening Essentials to Buy at the Dollar Store

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When you are living on a budget but want to expand your garden, then you need to go to the Dollar Store! Over the past couple of years, I have seen the Dollar Store expand their garden supplies from tiny pots and watering cans to decent sized pots, watering cans with the longer spout, seeds, tools, gloves and even small bags of soil! This is where I needed to be shopping to get my garden going for this year.

The must have that I picked up first was the watering can with the narrow spout. I prefer this kind of spout for my small indoor pots because I can control the water flow. To buy this type at Walmart or Lowe’s will run you at least $10.

Next, I picked up some pots for my seedlings. The ones I picked up are 6″ pots which after I am done with transplanting my seedlings to bigger pots, I will use these pots to transplant my herbs. There were bigger pots that I plan on picking up this week once I have my garden plans set. At Home Depot, a 6″ pot starts at $2  so you can basically get one free at the Dollar Store.

Then, I found a hanging basket and liner which will be great for the wild flower seeds that I purchased as well. I love the look of a hanging baskets on porches to bring out the colors of a house. What I don’t like is the price at Walmart starting at $8 for a small one. I can’t wait to watch my flowers bloom in my new hanging basket!

Other things that you can find to get your garden started is gardening tools like a shovel and rake, gardening gloves and kneeling pads. I have all of these from previous years of gardening so I didn’t need to buy them this year but it is a great resource for someone just starting on their green thumb journey or someone needing to replace their tools.

Last week, I talked about the variety of seeds that you can buy at the dollar store. Out of convenience, I picked up seed packets for carrots and lettuce at Walmart which were $1.49 and $1.69 each so I could have picked up a third packet if I bought them at the Dollar Store! If you want to read my post about starting from seeds here is the post: Plant Seeds to Save The Earth

The only thing that I did not purchase at the Dollar Store was my soil. Since I will be doing my gardening from pots, I prefer to use Miracle Grow potting soil because it has the added nutrients my plants will need.

I can’t wait to continue to journal my garden as the season continues! Fill me in on some of your gardening tips below!

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Why I don’t let my kids play on my phone

Why My Kids Don't Play on my Phone

I am not one of those moms that hands my phone over to my kids and let them play games or watch videos on YouTube. I am sure other moms will disagree with this post but this is my personal feelings on letting kids have free reign over my phone…

Imagine having the police show up at your door and you have no idea why. You open the door and the police tell you that they need to check the house to be sure everything is ok. You ask them why. They explain that there was a 911 call that was located at this address. I go and grab Danyella, who was almost 2 years old, and realize that she is the one who called 911 when I allowed her to play with my phone. That was the last time she touched my phone!

There is more reasoning behind my phone ban from my kids besides Danyella accidentally calling the police. I never wanted my kids to grow up thinking they had the right to touch an electronic that cost as much a rent payment. I have enough problems with breaking my own electronics (just ask my brother who had to replace the hard drive in my laptop because I broke it during the move a month ago!) so I don’t need the kids touching it and break something that we don’t have the spare money to replace. Especially when the cost of electronics just increases every year and now to replace my Iphone 7 plus would cost me a $1000 to replace/upgrade to the Iphone X.

Another reason, is that I run my blog and business mainly from my phone. I can’t tell you how many of my blog posts have been written and published from my phone. All of this is possible with the different apps like wordpress, canva and others that help my business and blog running smoothly. Yes, typing is easier on my laptop but when my time is spent outside of the house then my phone is a must. This means kids not touching and breaking my phone is a super must!

Last reason is that they are kids and for generations before these kids were born, kids survived without electronics on the go to play with and keep them occupied. What happened to packing toys, coloring books and snacks to keep kids occupied? This is what I did for Danyella and what I will do for Evie when we are out and about. Even now, I have 2 play mats for Evie which one is kept in the car so I can take it into the dance studio for her to play on. Yes, I have more to pack and take with me but it is keeping her entertained and I will continue to do this until she is old enough for her electronic device.

Danyella has survived for nearly her whole childhood without touching my phone since that day she called 911. This past Christmas, Danyella was given an iPod to take with her in public which she can use as a phone to communicate with my phone since it’s an iPhone, if she is on wifi. She can play games and play on her music apps which I keep a close eye on. If she abuses her privilege of having the iPod then its take away and she has to find other ways, like reading a book to keep herself occupied.

I know that many parents see the convenience of letting kids play on their phones which pulling up their favorite video to keep them quiet and still is easy. On the other hand, teaching my children to respect electronics and how things are a privilege vs a right is a strong value in a world where everyone’s lives revolve around a cellphone and/or other electronics. Let the kids be kids and play with toys and books not your phone. Let Kids be Kids . Let Them Explore, Play and Learn

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Banana Bread Printable Recipe

 

banana bread

One of my favorite breads to make is Banana Bread because it is easy and great for a quick breakfast food when I need to run out the door. Only problem is that my family usually eats the bananas before they get to that ripe point that is essential for a good banana bread. I lucked out and my family forgot we had bananas because I bought halos… I had my bananas for banana bread!

This recipe is really easy to make and doesn’t take much time. Just keep an eye on your time with how long you are baking the bread because every oven bakes differently but it will average between 45 minutes to an hour. I love to serve/eat this bread warm with a little butter on it!


An easy bread to make with those ripe bananas sitting on your counter


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

  • 3 RIPE Bananas
  • 1/3 cup or 5 1/3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat over for 350 degrees and spray/butter a loaf pan.
  2. Smash ripe bananas until there is no more chunks of banana
  3. Mix in melted butter. Beat for a minute.
  4. Mix in Eggs. Beat for a minute.
  5. Mix in Sugar and extract. Beat for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Mix in Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Salt. Beat for 3-4 minutes or until everything is mixed and be sure to scrap the sides and fold back in. Transfer to loaf pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Insert a toothpick to check.
  8. Let the bread sit and cool on a cooling rack. Best served warm with a little butter on the slice.

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No Pregnancy April Fools Jokes No One Is Laughing

As April 1st approaches, I am thinking about Easter and what I have left to get done for the girls. Then it dawned on me, Easter is on April 1st… April Fools Day!

Oh shit, bring on the lame ass jokes people play but one of the most popular ones is the “I’m Pregnant” joke. Well it’s not a funny joke to many women in the world.

Why is this not a funny joke to fool people with? Millions of women suffer from infertility problems. Millions of women have silently mourned the loss of their baby they never got to hold. Millions of women long to have that announcement you are now making fun of by saying “just kidding I’m not pregnant”!

For just one minute, think about what someone else is going through before you post something for the world to see. No, you may not be directly hurting someone but those words hurt more then a punch to the gut!

I silently suffered through this last April Fools Day. I had a miscarriage in February and was not pregnant with Baby Evie yet. I watched as tons of my Social Media friends played this prank when I was crying that I wanted to still be pregnant with the baby I would never meet. This joke was and is not funny to me or anyone else suffering through miscarriages or infertility problems.

Since last April’s Fools Day, I’ve been blessed with our Baby Evie but not everyone has been as lucky as our family. Please respect what others maybe silently suffering through this April Fools Day and don’t play this prank!

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Silk Screen Printing Obsession

My newest obsession is finding things to silk screen a cute quote or picture on. I love seeing cute shirts on Pinterest or Amazon and hate paying $25 for a shirt I can make for under $10! I’m crafty so I set out to create my own cool shirts and much more!

Last year, I made dance mom shirts for the Elite moms but it was a long and tedious task. I hand printed every single letter and dancer on 6 different shirts. It was a lot more work then I had anticipated.

This year we wanted new shirts but I didn’t want to go down the same stamping road again. At Hobby Lobby, I found silk screening kits. This was perfect. There was a $50 and $150 kit. Honestly, I have no idea what the difference between the kits were but I wasn’t prepared to spend $150 on something I didn’t know if I was going to screw up.

I purchased the $50 and used my 40% off coupon (I am a savings queen so this was a must do!) which cost me about $33 with tax. The box included the silk screen, a paint brush, a jar of black ink, special paper, exacto knife and the scraper. All I need shirts to print on…

So the instructions were completely confusing and explained different ways to silk screen which required buying more products. I was feeling overwhelmed and confused as hell! Maybe this was to much for me??

I went back to the box and figured out that they printed their design on the special paper then cut it out with the exacto knife. I did my first design, printed it out, cut it out and began my first experiment…

What a disaster of ink every but where I wanted on the shirt!! I didn’t realize that the paper gets taped to the underside of the screen. I had to go look up YouTube videos to understand what I did wrong and what I needed to do.

So, I started the process over again design, print, cut… now tape under the screen, add the ink and scrape it across the screen onto the shirt. (Thanks Doug for the donation of one of your shirts!) Wow it looked freaking awesome!!

Another thing that I learned the hard way, is that you need to clean the ink off your screen ASAP or it will stain the screen. I thought I could leave the design on the screen until I was ready to print the real shirts. Nope!! Clean that ink off ASAP!!

Next I found these super soft, stretchy purple shirts. The purple color is the Elite’s color and these shirts were perfect. I designed a shirt to say “I’m a crazy dance mom 5678 dance”. I did one for my Christina and myself. They were a huge hit with the moms.

I then had orders for moms shirts, an Aunt shirt because Aunt Emilee needs a shirt too and a dad shirt. It became an assembly line of printing and hanging them around my dining room. Plus, Evie needed a “I’m a crazy dance baby” onesie!

Once I got the directions correct, these shirts looked freaking awesome! The moms and Aunt Emilee wore their shirts to the competition plus the baby had her onesie on until she peed through all her clothes. I now have plans to make the dancers and their teacher special end of season gifts with my silk screen printer!

One of the dance moms with her adorable girls

I would suggest the $50 kit from Speedball because it’s pretty simple to do and really fun. For kids, the ink will stain so have them wear disposable gloves. There is so much you can do with a silk screen printer! I can’t wait to make more in the future!!

*please not this post is not sponsored in anyway, shape or form. Just my own personal review of a product I purchased!

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No Giggles For Mama

Total jealous Mom moment right now! Baby Evie is now 12 weeks old and about a week and a half ago she started the giggles! It’s the cutest thing ever!

One night I was getting Evie ready for her bath, I reached down to pick her up and she giggled for just a few seconds. A baby’s giggles are the sweet little noise you can ever hear. Since that first time, I’ve tried my hardest to get her to giggle for me…. nope not a single giggle for Mama!

Thursday nights are one of Doug’s night off every week so it’s Daddy/daughter bonding night. He was playing with her and I hear it… the sweet little giggle I was longing to hear. She giggled over and over for Daddy!

Since that night, Doug has come home from work and if Evie has been awake then he has gotten giggles. Not just one little giggle but lots of giggles. Giggles like when you just can’t hold back and want to cry your laughing so hard kinda giggles!!

Yes, I should be happy that she has this bond with her Daddy but I can’t help to be jealous. With Danyella, I was her only parent so I got all the firsts, all the smiles, all the kisses, all the hugs and all the giggles. So I am not used to sharing all these special moments with another parent. This is all an adjustment for me as a mother.

I’m not a bad mother for being jealous that my husband swoops in and gets those special moments with the baby. I am human. I am the parent that is home with her all day and cares for her all day so I want those moments to be shared with me. I know one day I’ll get more giggles and one day I’ll get jealous that someone else shared special moments with my children.

Have you had jealous parent moments?

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Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder Soup

This is a favorite recipe of mine to make on a cold winter day, which we have had ALOT of them lately. It is a hardy soup that just seems to warm the body and soul!

The directions for this soup are done with my instant pot but you can easily convert it to a crock pot or stock pot on the stove. Another thing that I love about this recipe is that you can use the ham that you have leftover from another meal or use ham steaks. My Christina gave us a bunch of ham steaks, so I chopped one up for the soup and YUMMY!

Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder Instant/Crockpot Recipe

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A soup for those cold winter days.


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

-2 tbs olive oil -1/2 onion -2 stalks celery, diced -1 cup chopped carrots -1 clove chopped garlic -1/4 cup flour -1-14.5 oz can chicken or ham broth -1-1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, diced

Directions

  1. Set instant pot to saute, add oil plus onion, celery, carrots and garlic and saute until tender 5-6 mins. If you are using a crockpot, do this in a pan on the stove.
  2. Add flour and brown the flour.
  3. Slowly add the broth, bring to a boil and add milk.
  4. Add potatoes, continue to use saute setting for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir Continuously so that the veggies do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Set the slow cooker on 4 hours
  6. Add the ham and corn
  7. Let it cook for the 4 hours and enjoy!

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Thankful for My Nail Appointments

I know that the title of this post sounds superficial but it’s not just about the beauty of my nails. It is more that once every two weeks, I get to feel like a woman. Not a Mom, not a wife… just a woman.

Every other week, I drop the girls off at my moms for a couple hours. My Christina picks me up from my moms, we grab Dunkin’ coffee and head to the nail salon.

While we wait for the salon to open and the women to set up, we enjoy our coffee and talk (what we do best lol). We both get gel manicures so we pick out our colors which I usually have a reason behind my color choice like a holiday or celebration. This week they are green for St. Patty’s Day that just passed.

In that hour of sitting while my nail color gets changed, I feel like a woman. There is no baby to feed, no tween drama, no house to clean. It’s just me in that chair getting my hands pampered.

It might not sound like it’s a big deal but to a work at home mom with an infant to care for, a tween to homeschool, a house to clean and a business to run. Just being a woman for 2 hours every other week is something I need to keep me sane.

With summer coming aka flip flop season, I’ll be adding pedicures to my bi weekly Woman time. I am thankful for the time I have to sit and feel like a woman while I get my nails painted!

What are you thankful for today?

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No Place to Pump in Public

Today’s What the What Wednesday rant is a Mom related rant…  A couple of weeks of go the females in my family went on our annual trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Since I am a member of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, I am blessed with a bunch of tickets for the show so we brought 2 of my mom’s friends and one of their granddaughter’s along for the fun. This is a trip that I have been doing for years because it is filled with beauty.

In the past, I had gone during the week and then last year we went on a weekend. It was crazy crowded last year that we ended up not fitting on our train to go home and had to wait an extra hour. This year we planned things out for during the week to avoid chaotic crowds. We figured Wednesday would be a good day to go down.

Well… Mother Nature had other plans for us and our trip was already plagued with a snow day. So, we had to delay going from Wednesday to Friday. We missed our train going down by just minutes. This was totally my fault. When I put the train station into my gps, I put the wrong one in and we went to the one across town…. whoops! So we waited an hour for the next one.

We finally get down there and are instantly immersed in the beauty of exotic flowers. I love that feeling when you first walk in and don’t know what to expect but you know it is going to be beautiful. The show did not let us down because WOW!

To make life easier, I decided to wear Baby Evie on me because maneuvering a stroller around would have made me run into people on purpose. People were so down right rude and knocking right into me trying to get to the displays which means they were knocking into the baby! I started to give people the elbow when they got to close to me. The crowd of people was more then we saw on a Sunday last year and they were just rude and nasty.

As a pumping mama, I have my body on a schedule to pump every 4-5 hours. Overnight I can get away with 6-7 hours. If you have ever breastfed a baby, you know that going to long not only results in leakage (thank goodness for breastpads!!) but very sore, painful breasts which can lead to further issues. This is something no woman wants to feel.

By noon, I was on a 6 hour stretch and the pain was setting in but the girls wanted to eat lunch. We figured we could eat and during that time I would find a place to pump (ie: a bathroom stall). There is a food court in the convention center so you don’t need to leave the show at all. It was pricey to eat there…. $42 for 2 BBQ sandwiches, fries and 3 drinks! Freaking crazy to pay for the convenience but we did it.

There were no place to sit and eat. People were reserving 4 and 6 people tables for just 2 people. We finally just sat in the hallway outside of the food court to eat our food. That was frustrating as it was but we made due. The bathroom was nearby so after I ate, I handed Baby Evie off to one of my mom’s friends to hold her.

With only 2 bathroom stalls and a line forming, sitting for a half hour to pump was out of the question. All of the bathrooms only had a few stalls so I couldn’t use a bathroom to pump. How does a place that holds huge conventions and shows only have a few bathrooms with a few stalls??

FML what was I going to do?? I gave up, sat down in the hallway and pulled out my pumping stuff. I covered myself with a nursing cape and started pumping. We had tons and tons and tons of people walk by. Every child and female stopped to talk to Evie and tells us how beautiful she is while I sat there pumping. I was never so embarrassed in my life!

I am truly learning how hard it is for breastfeeding mamas to feed in public. No, I don’t breastfeed Evie because she cannot latch correctly. I pump so that my child still receives the best nutrition I can give her. Why does a society that is supposed to be supporting women and their needs, not give breastfeeding/pumping women any support? I would have thought that a place that is filled with people nearly every week of the year, would have a private area for moms for care for their babies!

What is your rant for the week?

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Tween Rules and Reward System

Tween REward System

After last week’s meltdown and subsequent cancellation of Danyella’s New York City birthday trip, I wanted to find a way to encourage her to behave and do her chores without the attitude and mouth running. Off to Pinterest I went….

I searched and searched, using different search terms and had a hard time finding anything that really worked for us. Some of the links were for teachers to get kids and teens to listen in class. Some of the links were for kids that were younger and didn’t quite fit Danyella.

I was looking to set up Rules and a Reward system for Danyella that would reward her with points to earn special things. At the same time, if she didn’t complete a task then she wouldn’t earn the points and if she misbehaved points could be taken away. After hours of searching, I went to google drive and created my own system.

First were the rules: One would think these were basic rules but to Danyella, I was running her life by asking her to abide by these rules! After nearly a week, she has broken some of these rules and has definitely fought these rules every chance she can.

rules.jpg

Next were the Rewards: At first she didn’t care about any rewards. If you look, she started to cross out New York because she was never going to New York ever again if I wasn’t going to take her the day we had originally planned. Eventually she came to terms with her rewards. She even began to calculate how many days it would take for her to earn the trip back if she did all of her chores everyday without attitude points taken away. How I structured her rewards were at levels, so that she had little things to look forward to as she re-earned her New York City trip. One of our favorite things is to go get Italian Ice from Rita’s so that is first on her list to earn.

rewards.jpg

Last were the check off lists: There are 2 lists for Danyella. Since Danyella is homeschooled, I wanted her to start to take responsibility of her own schoolwork. I made her a checklist of what she needed to accomplish everyday and she earns 10 points for completing them all. The other list is her chores list. This list has different chores for different points like cleaning her rabbits cage is 1 point. I gave her some additional points for helping me label the body products and helping me cook dinner (I should use her cooking show obsession to my advantage lol).

lists.jpg

After a week, she is more focused on getting what she needs done though there has been times where she has fought me on completing her tasks (especially schoolwork which is another post to come). It has been nice to see her get excited to help me cook dinner or bake cupcakes. I will keep you all updated on how the system works as the weeks pass.

A question for my readers with older kids: How do you reward your children for good behavior or punish for bad behavior?