Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today Only! Free Jamocha Shake at Arby's!

Sorry for the late notice, but I just found out!  Today only, Arby's is giving away a FREE Jamocha shake 12 oz without any other purchase necessary!

And if you go to this link to print out a coupon: , you can type in your child's (okay, or yours because I know you want one too) for a neat personalized coupon. The kids are going to flip when I tell them we are getting milkshakes!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Make Those 2 Ingredient "Pancakes" Everyone is Talking About (Banana and Egg)

How to Make Those 2 Ingredient "Pancakes" Everyone is Talking About (Banana and Egg)
Pancakes without the added calories and simple to make. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it kind of is.
The banana ice cream trend (whipped up frozen bananas) really did seem amazing, so I had high hopes for this trend, especially after seeing a picture of the "pancakes" all fried up to look just like real pancakes. One morning I had some extra time before the kids left for school, so I tried it.
I took one overripe banana and 2 eggs. First I mashed the banana in one container and whipped the eggs with a fork in another. Then I mixed the two ingredients together, as coconut oil melted in my frying pan. From experience, the more you whip the ingredients, the fluffier they will be. My first batch seemed a bit like a crepe.
Simple scoop any size amount (silver dollar or larger) onto the hot pan, wait about a minute for it to solidify and flip for 30 seconds more.
I prefer to enjoy my pancakes plane and the warm coconut oil definitely added to the flavor. It was good, but DEFINITELY not like a pancake. My kids enjoyed their pancakes with real maple syrup on top.
Although this recipe served three, my children are small and don't eat much. I would say this makes 2 small portions or one hefty one.
Recipe for Banana Pancakes
2 large eggs
1 overripe banana
1 tbsp coconut oil (or butter) for pan
1. Melt coconut oil in a pan
2. Mash banana with a fork.
3. Whip eggs with a fork.
4. Mix ingredients together, whipping well.
5. Spoon a pancake size amount into hot pan, flipping when the batter solidifies (about 1 minute).
6. Enjoy.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Free Gas with Giant Food Stores (PA) Gas Rewards

I'm not sure how long gas rewards were out before I started paying attention to them.  I think it was at least a year.  A YEAR OF FREE GAS I MISSED!  It wasn't until I was running our soccer club's snack stand with another mom that she told me how they hadn't paid for gas in months that I started to pay attention.  I've never been one to stock up too much.  I save money on groceries by only buying things on sale (with exceptions like milk) so I wasn't too keen on buying things in a box in a circular just to save money on gas. I also only like to buy things that I'll use up in the next month or so, unless it was going in the freezer. After my fellow soccer mom pointed out my error in reasoning, I did the math.  This week, if I buy 9 boxes of brownie mixes at $1.39 a piece, I'll save 40 cents per gallon on gas.  Nine boxes of brownie mix cost $12.51.  Forty cents off 25 gallons saves me $10.  So, I'd essentially be getting the brownie mix for $2.51.  Adding in coupons to this mix would be super.  I still keep it to things I'd normally buy or are a substantial deal.  Last week I got Milk N Cereal bars (which we'll save for fall when we are running late for school) and Panko bread crumbs (which I buy regularly to make my own chicken fingers).

But it gets better.  This week there is also a 300 bonus points (30 cents) for a $50 purchase and 4x gas points on Visa gift cards.  If I put $500 (the max) on a visa gift card and pay the small fee (a few dollars), I'll now have 2700 gas points.  This is $2.70 off a gallon of gas and this was all in one shopping trip for a gas savings of  $67.50, more than the groceries I just spent. True, I just spent $50 in groceries and $500 on a gift card, but I'll use that card in place of a credit card until it is used up.

And here is the kicker that will probably not last too long:  not all gas stores use the same ratio for points.  Which means that my $2.70 I'll earn this week at my store, is actually worth $5.40 at another store nearby.  Yep, a free tank of gas and then some.  At current prices, this is a savings of $135 on gas - in one week!

My advice: pay attention to the gas rewards!

Friday, June 6, 2014

How to Make a Frog Cake

Meet Mortimor cake form.  For her third birthday, our youngest daughter requested a frog cake. Now, this is not just ANY frog, but the cartoon frog that her dad has been drawing for 23(ish) years. Of course no cake pan exists for this specific design, so we had to improvise.

We used a sheetcake, and cut around the the edges with a knife for shape.  The eyes are cupcakes.  The star tip works great for the rough edges left behind from cutting, but you could also do a crumb coat (thin layer of frosting) throw the cake in the freezer for a bit, and then frost again (thus sealing the crumbs in the crumb coat!).

To view more about Mortimor Frog, check out his home at

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Make Breakfast Sausage at Home! Nitrate free!

A friend of mine recently retweeted this recipe, and I was so excited to try it.  With the exception of "real" maple syrup, I had it all in my kitchen already!  My husband has recently decided to avoid ALL nitrates.  We had already cut down on major sources (such as lunchmeat), but due to family history, he felt it best to avoid them all.  This means special bacon, hot dogs and no sausage.

And then I saw this recipe:  So simple, I cut the sausage into little patties and cooked them on my stovetop.  We cooked some unformed sausage to use in omelets with dinner.  And there was a fruit salad, too. The rest of the batch is in my freezer waiting for another day to be eaten.

Savory Maple Breakfast Sausage Recipe

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Homeschool: Different Philosophies of Education

We are about to complete our second year of homeschooling.  We started after my daughter attended Kindergarten and cried  at times because she wanted to learn "hard stuff." Homeschooling allowed her to move at her own pace and accelerate those subjects she loved (for her its reading and math).  But our two years of homeschooling have been completely different, and I'd like to share to give hope to any new homeschooling families. First some frequently asked questions:

But doesn't she miss her friends? (Or, isn't important to be around other kids?)

Alex is in ballet, tap, Awana's, Sunday School, soccer, and weekly homeschool co-ops and field trips. She has play dates.  She sees her friends a lot! She also chooses which friends she wants to schedule playtime with, instead of being with the same kids all day who may or may not give her the kind of socialization we both want.

I think homeschooling would be too hard.  How would I know what to teach?

There are a gazillion different homeschooling options available.  From cyber schools where you work with a teacher, to curriculums such as Sonlight that include everything you need including detailed plans and explanations, to simply deciding on what your child should be learning and crafting your own curriculum (keeping in mind state laws and related state standards).

What if we don't like it?

You can always send your child back to school. Homeschooling isn't for everyone!  But we are glad we tried it the past two years.

Let's Talk Curriculum and my Experience in Homeschooling

Now let me discuss our experience in homeschooling.  My philosophy of education has changed while I've been teaching and I have homeschooling friends with various styles as well.  Some friends have a school room and a set school day.  Other friends don't want to have their homes be set up like a classroom and allow learning opportunities for their children all day.

I started out with Sonlight curriculum for our 1st grade.  We purchased Core B with Grade 2 readers and Singapore 1A and 1B math.  The boxes came with wonderful, beautiful, delicious books bursting full of scrumptious knowledge.  We were so excited to get started. Both my little girls loved it.  We loved reading on the couch, on the porch, at the beach, at Disney World, at our picnic table...get the point? I would absolutely recommend this program.

Around January or so, Alex got really interested in China.  So, we took a break from the curriculum (because we could) and she ventured into some deeper study about China.  Same thing happened at a later time about the Philippines. It was pretty cool that we could just stop and focus on what she loved. Jumping forward a year, her current interest is being an architect, so she is currently designing a home with a free online design program.  I love being able to nurture and feed her interests.

Okay, back to Sonlight.  Like I said, I would absolutely recommend this program.  However, the university-trained teacher and perfectionist in me wanted to do everything in the curriculum.  The material states repeatedly NOT to attempt this as its just not possible.  Sonlight wants to give you options.  I tried it anyway and constantly felt like I was behind. But I wasn't.  Why would I be behind?! If I could go back in time, I would have not attempted to do everything and just enjoyed the time and learning that was occurring.

Forward to Year 2: I had planned to school year-round, but I gave in to the "but all the other kids have off school" whining. Then I discovered what every teacher notices...regression.  Math that she had mastered in June was gone by September.  (We are scaling back, but still continuing this summer to avoid regression).  When school started in the fall, I decided to not purchase the next complete year of Sonlight right away. Instead, I did homeschool the "hard" way. Knowing my child's educational needs and strengths, I crafted our day based on what we wanted to learn. I purchased just a few books. We paused the math curriculum when she needed more time in multiplication facts and telling time. We read books that challenged her for "reading class" and other books for fun reading. (We are currently reading through the Narnia series together). Language Arts focused on parts of speech, journaling and various writing skills.  Imagine how my heart felt when she wrote and illustrated a book on her own for fun. For Mother's Day, she wrote her own poem. History we read more in our Sonlight books and are about to embark on a study of the 50 states. Science is whatever cool non-fiction books we find from the library and apply (like the poisonous black and white caterpillar that turned out to be just Japanese beetle larvae.) I also read through the standards for our state to make sure I'm not missing any areas that she might need should we send her back to school.  And for us this year, it works.

If we continue to homeschool next year, I'm pretty sure we would purchase another complete Sonlight core. Or maybe do something different when fall comes.

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the ability to change things up and find out what works. Any questions? Leave them in the comments.

The children are making homes with thatched roofs like they were reading about in history.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Make a Diaper Cake

I really thought making a diaper cake was one of the hardest yet cutest things someone could make for a baby shower.  I figured my sister-in-law's baby shower was the time to try.  Surprisingly, its very easy!  Takes a little time, but not too much!

The first step is to wrap all the diapers with rubber bands.  I've heard you can skip this step, but it is harder for the diapers to stay rolled.  The color of the bands doesn't matter as they'll be hidden by ribbon.

The next step is is to make the bottom layer around another gift item, such as baby lotion.  Secure your layer in place with a big band.
Repeat this step to make the second layer.

 The top layer is created around a baby bottle for my cake.  My then 7 year old assisted greatly with the process up to this point.

Adding an "It's a Boy" lollipop and cute elephant for the cake topper. And tying ribbons around the layers to hide the rubber bands.
And there you have the result.  Easy, beautiful, and practical!