Friday, November 18, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
1) In August/September, I was desperately searching for a tuxedo or suit for my son to wear in a wedding. We found the last item we needed, black dress shoes, at Kohls on clearance for $9 (as well an another item). When I got to the register to pay, I realized I forgot my $10 Kohls voucher that I received in the mail. When I mentioned this to my husband, the cashier told me no problem, she would give me the discount anyway!
2) A few weeks ago I walked into Kohls to browse and found a few shirts I liked on a rack that was marked 60% off. However, the electronic sign on the rack only reflected a 25% discount. When I asked a sales associate, they confirmed the 60% sign was a mistake, but they honored the price for my purchase!
3) Unfortunately one of the above mentioned tops shrunk in the dryer, so last week I went back to Kohls to repurchase the top. They had it, so I went to buy it along with other clothing items as well. The cashier told me they have a hassle-free return policy and not to re-buy the shirt, but to go get my other one and do an exchange, even without a receipt or tags! She put it on hold for me and I did the swap the next day.
My local Kohls is three for three on satisfying this customer. I will absolutely be giving Kohls more of my business! And, in honor of this review, here is a 15% Off Printable Shopping Pass for Kohls (sale, regular and even clearance!) for you!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Oreo Ice Cream Torte
-1 package of Oreo cookies
-2-3 tsp. of butter, melted
-1 container of vanilla ice cream (in a rectangular carton)
-1 tub of cool whip
-1 jar of fudge
Crush Oreos in a ziploc bag. Hold aside a 1/2 cup.
Mix remaining crumbs with melted butter and press into the bottom of a 10x13 pan to form a crust. Slice ice cream and lay slices evenly over the crust (I usually use a butter knife to smooth over the seams). Freeze for a few hours.
Microwave fudge and pour evenly over ice cream. Sometimes I include marshmallow topping as well. Freeze immediately.
After the fudge has hardened, add the Cool Whip in an even layer, and sprinkle with the remaing cookie crumbs. You could also add sprinkles or any decoration you wish (but be aware that the sprinkles will harden)! Serve frozen.
I have seen spin-offs of this recipe, such as strawberry ice cream and vanilla wafers in place of vanilla and oreos. Have fun playing with the recipe, and expect to have a hard time staying out of the freezer!
Sunday, September 25, 2011
This is also a good trick for eyeliner pencils!
Sunday, September 18, 2011
To revamp our education system, blame teachers less and pay them more.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
"Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, "Would an idiot do that?" And if they would, I do not do that thing."
-Dwight, The Office
Monday, August 1, 2011
The Jewelery Box
The inside of the Jewelery Box
The wooden box
The completed wooden box
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
It's been [yet again] TOO long since I've sat down and updated my blog. In fact, it looks like it was early May the last time I shared. Let me explain: those last few pregnancy weeks were miserable! Partner that with wrapping up my final work weeks, and our precious new little guy joining us in early June, and-- wah-lah! --blog writing hiatus. I know you're on the edge of your seat, so here is a photo of our sweet little man: It took a little while, but I finally made it back to my crafting desk. Here are a few new items I whipped up:
Thanks for checking in!
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
1.) Plane Tickets.
I don't have any great advice on purchasing plane tickets, but I can share how it worked for me. I did the typical web search of the biggest travel sites, and monitored prices over a few weeks. I ultimately found plane tickets from Seattle to Long Beach for only $160 a piece through Jet Blue, whom I strongly recommend for this type of flight. We each could bring 1 checked bag FREE, and Jet Blue shows TV (and streams new movies for a small fee) in the headrest of every seat. This was excellent and kept my children, and myself, entertained during our flight!
*Tip: bring your own headphones to avoid paying like $6 per pair.
2.) Disneyland Tickets.
Again, I don't have any magic answer, but we lucked out when it came to our admission tickets. Because my husband is military, I was able to go on base prior to our trip and purchase 3-Day Park Passes for less than a standard two-day gate admission. We ended up spending one day in Downtown Disney (no admission needed), one full day in Disneyland, and a third day split between Disneyland and California Adventure.
3.) The Announcement.
My kids didn't know we were going to Disneyland. I had this fantasy that when I revealed it, they would shriek with delight just like in the commercials. I prepacked their bags and loaded them in to our car, then had Grandpa & Grandma drive us to the airport, convincing them they THEY were the ones going out of town. It wasn't until we got into the airport that I whipped out the videocamera and told my kids the news. Outcome? It went something like this: "Really? Oh cool. I've heard of that. When? Now? Oh, nice." Not quite the fairytale I had envisioned.
*Tip: Make sure your kids know what Disneyland is before you break the news. My kids LOVED EVERY MINUTE of the trip, but failed to be excited beforehand because I assumed that they grasped what the park was all about. Now I know!
I carried a backpack into the parks in lieu of a purse. I kept my money (tucked inside), camera, sweatshirts for the evenings, sunscreen, water and snacks (hidden, but it didn't seem anyone really cared), and my kid's autograph books (see below) in this pack.
I made the decision about how we would handle souveniers prior to our trip. I found Disney photo albums with a notepad & pen inside (Mickey, Minnie and Disney Princess) at Walgreens on clearance for $2.50 each. I had to drive to 3 different Walgreens to find them, but it sure beat $10 for an autograph book in the park. Plus it kept us out of the gift shops early on. My kids were able to collect autographs from many of the characters that we ran into in the parks. Most of them were near the entrance on Main Street.
Also prior to our trip, I grabbed 2 rolls each of quarters and pennies from the bank. We asked an employee in the large Disney gift shop in downtown Disney for a print out of all of the Pressed Penny machines in the parks. There are TONS of machines, all with different characters, located in Downtown Disney (the gift shop and the resorts), Disneyland and California Adventure. Finding these machines and selecting ONE coin image (there is generally 3 options per machine) from each became my children's mission. No one asked me to buy souveniers, and these limited pressed coins cost only $.51 cents each! (Some of the machines take 5 quarters, totally $1.25. The map will tell you so you can bypass these if you like). I did give in and buy each of my kids a coin album to display/save their coins, which were $6 each.
*Tip: Keep a small coin purse in your backpack for each kid to hold their pennies in.
You can get free buttons in the City Hall building on Main Street. They have buttons for First Time Visitors, people celebrating their birthday, and many more. Just stop in and ask!
Finally, I traded in $40 cash for Disney Dollars ($20 per kid) that I told the kids they could spend on our LAST DAY at Disneyland, just before we left. Since that was all of the Disney money they had, they knew their price limit when they selected a souvenier, and it helped them learn about the value of money.
During our first day in Disneyland, I made sure we did all of my favorite rides first. We didn't repeat any rides until the last day. We were able to do every attraction we wanted to do, and on our second day we repeated my kid's favorite ride.
*Note: Classic rides like Peter Pan, Snow White and Alice in Wonderland had enormous lines each day. Go there first if you want to ride.
7.) Download an App.
I found a free Disneyland Application in the Android Market on my smartphone that listed all of the attractions & shows in both parks, a map of the park and where the rides, restraunts and restrooms are located, and gives a real-time update on wait times for rides. This came in really handy when my son hurt himself and we needed to locate a restroom and the First Aid building.
*Tip: The wait times listed on the app are dependent on people in the park updating them. The times listed at the attraction may be more accurate.
8.) Pregnant in the Park.
It was, surprisingly, not that bad! Dress comfortably and cool, and bring some spare shoes in your backpack. I wore flip flops all 3 days and was just fine. I avoided Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Splash Mountain (it was actually closed) for safety. In retrospect, I should have probably also skipped Autotopia, or at least not allowed my 8-year-old to drive me! A great break is the Captain EO Michael Jackson 3-D show-- it's in an air conditioned theatre!Another tip-- bring help. My mom came on the trip with us, and my Godmother also joined us at the park.
9.) Documenting your experience.
Also prior to the trip, I got each of my kids a mini digital camera. I found them at Walgreens, also. My daughter's was actually Disney-themed, and cost $6.99, and my son's was $4.99, both on sale. I clipped the cameras to lanyards, where they also attached their buttons from City Hall. In addition to collecting autographs and pressed coins, my kids were plenty entertained taking their own photos throughout the parks. The little cameras only held about 50-100 photos each, so we had to dump them onto my laptop each morning before heading out again. My kids really enjoyed seeing the pictures they had taken (since there wasn't a screen to see the photos instantly).
Prior to the trip, I purchased white t-shirts with Disney characters printed on them at Joann Fabrics. They were on sale and cost about $5 each. I tye-died them in bright colors (two per kid), and they wore them in the parks. I always knew that I was looking for a purple shirt and an orange shirt, and never had a panic "where is my kid?" moment. The shirts also served a dual-purpose of being our "Disneyland shirts" so I avoided another gift shop purchase!
I hope these tips prove helpful to someone else.
We had a fantastic time, and I am sure you will too!
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Send Your Expired Coupons to Military Overseas!
From Happy Money Saver (http://happymoneysaver.com/send-your-expired-coupons-to-military-overseas)
Did you know military families stationed overseas can use your expired coupons in their commissary’s (military grocery stores) for up to 6 months after their expiration date? YES they do! You see, unfortunately they don’t have access to a Sunday newspaper all nicely filled with coupons like we do.
So this is where you come in. Happymoneysaver readers can all come together and help help out the military while at the same time making use of our expired coupons. You can adopt a military base yourself or drop off your coupons at one of the locations of our specialists in the Pacific Northwest.
Acceptable Coupons: You can only send MANUFACTURER’S COUPONS, no store couponsDo not send coupons that are over 30 days expired
Sorting the Coupons: The coupons that you are sending need to be separated into FOOD and NON-FOOD in plastic zipcloc style bags. Label them with a pen or marker as well.
If you or your family want to adopt a military base you can do so directly. Package up your coupons into Food and Non-Food and mail them to the military base of your choice. My favorite website with bases you can adopt is Grocery Saving Tips. They seem to keep updated lists going of military bases accepting coupons. Please try not to send coupons expired past 30 days because of shipping time, sorting time and other time factors.
Purchase Coffee For a Cause
From Money Saving Mom (http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/03/five-ways-to-give-on-a-budget.html)
If you’re a coffee lover, be sure to check out OneCup.org. For every $11 in coffee you purchase, $11 will be donated to help humanitarian aid work in Africa.
In addition, Doughnut Girl Coffee provides an opportunity to get coffee and help another. Pay $9 for coffee and 100% of profits go to Salvation Army.
Read a Book. Give a Book.
From Money Saving Mom (http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/03/five-ways-to-give-on-a-budget.html)
At WeGiveBooks.org, you choose a book to read online. You then select a charity to donate a free book to a child in need.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Check out the shower invites I whipped up for her guests (and I say "whipped up" very sarcastically-- these took forever!):
Most baby showers for boys are blue, but since the theme was frogs, I stuck with a green color scheme. I used frog-print fleece fabric (I used a decorative rotary cutter blade to trim the sides) as a tablecloth that the parents-to-be can reuse as a baby blanket later. The menu included green veggies & dip (snap peas, broccoli, celery, cucumber and pickles), green fruit (honeydew melon, pears, green grapes and kiwi), green Guacamole chips with green verde salsa and guacamole, and salad. I also created a green punch; here is the recipe--
1 - 2L bottle of Grapefruit soda (like Squirt)
1 - large can of Pineapple Juice
1/4 container of frozen Limeaid, dethawed
1/4 container of frozen Lemonade, dethawed
3/4 cups sugar (you may prefer a little more)
For weeks I collected various stuffed frogs and frog toys that could be used as decorations in the nursery after the party. I also created a few things on the computer and my Cricut.
I saved the cut-out letters from the invitations (It's A Boy) and used them as confetti. I found cute green favor boxes at the Dollar Tree and stuffed them with green tissue paper and green bulk candy.
I bought some premade games to start the shower, and then did two others. One was the Dirty Diaper game, in which various chocolate candies are melted into individual baby diapers. The guests pass the "soiled" diapers around and guess which candy made the mess. Some were easy like Hershey's Chocolate Bar, and other were trickier like Peppermint Bark and chocolate coins.
And what's a shower without a diaper cake! I used newborn diapers, and small gifts to create this one.
Of course we ended the shower with cake and presents. My husband even got the family a small aquarium with live pet frogs! I think the party was a huge success, and hopefully this gives you some ideas for a party of your own.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
And here is my sweet boy with a tattoo-print bib (which can be found new on Etsy):
Baby Model Fisher
Baby Model Kaleb
Bib & Burp Cloths for Ashley's baby-to-be
I decided to throw some of my new items up on Etsy. Check out etsy.com/shop/mrsjmattson for this Sugar Skull burp cloth and tattoo-print Bib! Remember, I can do custom orders :)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I use Vista Print for business cards, labels, and even my stamp! If you need any personalized business items, check them out. Use the link below and get a special friends-only deal of up to 80% OFF!
Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint. Order today!
Join SwagBucks and earn rewards just for searching the web! Use SwagBucks instead of Google and you'll earn Amazon gift cards and more in no time!
Diapers.com and Soap.com
As previously mentioned, first-time customers on Diapers.com can get additional savings by using this referral code: MRSJ5621
You'll receive 30% cash back on diapers + 15% off everything else, and I will get a credit on my account, too! This code works on Soap.com, too!
Daily Deal Sites:
Join Groupon today, and start saving! Use the link below to show that I referred you:) So far I was able to buy my daughter a one-month membership to The Little Gym for her ballet/tap/gymnastics class for only $35 (the sign-up fee alone is usually $120) and I just purchased a $50 certificate to Mixbook.com for only $15 to use for future announcements or photo books. Groupon is personalized for every area of the US so you will find lots of coupons tailored to you!
With the referral link below, you can begin shopping daily deals and scoring big time! My favorite find so far was an adorable pair of soft cowboy boots for the baby. And for each friend you refer, you will get a $15 credit to your account.
Similar to Groupon and Totsy, Save More is a daily deal site where you can save 50-90% off local and online businesses. Sign up for a new account and use the referral link http://svmr.com/txmn to receive a free $10 credit (for both you and me) which can be applied to your first purchase!
You'll earn a $15 credit on your account for every new member you invite as soon as their first order ships! http://www.zulily.com/invite/jmattson7063
Juice In The City
If one of your friends buys their first Juice in the City deal through your link, you earn $10 credit toward Juice in the City deals!
Eversave is a great deal site with one local deal a day up to 90% off. You get $10 worth of Save Rewards for every new friend you refer to Eversave once they buy their first Save. http://eversave.com/share/KOgI
Sunday, February 27, 2011
However, there are so many new options for saving money on baby (and home) products that I never had access to before! I recently signed up for Amazon Mom which saves you an additional 30% on items you Subscribe and Save to, as well as free two day shipping. I never would have considered ordering diapers online, but after combining some coupon codes I found in my Parents magazine, and my free American Baby magazine (you can get a free subscription by signing up for just about any baby deals online-- google it), I was able to discount my price so much that I got four cases of diapers for less than the cost of two, shipped straight to my door! Check it out (I got two each of the following orders):
Luvs Premium Stretch Diapers with Ultra Leakguards, Size 1 (8-14 Lbs), 264 Diapers
Item(s) Subtotal: $35.54
Shipping & Handling: $0.00
Promotion Applied: -$3.55
Promotion Applied: -$7.11
Promotion Applied: -$10.66
Total Before Tax: $14.22
Sales Tax: $1.32
Total for This Shipment: $15.54
Munchkin Super Premium Diapers, Size Newborn Ultra (0-10 Pounds), 144-Count Box
Item(s) Subtotal: $29.11
Shipping & Handling: $0.00
Promotion Applied: -$2.90
Promotion Applied: -$5.81
Promotion Applied: -$8.73
Total Before Tax: $11.67
Sales Tax: $1.09
Total for This Shipment: $12.76
That's an average of 6 cents per diaper. In order to get more coupons, I went ahead and subscribed to Parenting: Early Years on Amazon as well. A one-year subscription was $9.97, but right now they are offering 2 magazine subscriptions (select titles) for $15, so I went ahead and got Parenting: School Years, too! You won't find baby coupons in the second one, but I love magazines and will gladly read it for tips with my older children. Plus, I will get the cost of the magazines back in my coupon savings after one diaper or formula order, easily!
Another site for diaper discounts is Diapers.com. Along with the Amazon Mom coupons, I got a Diapers.com coupon code in my Parents magazine. The website was offering a deal for first-time customers which I used along with my code. I ordered two Giant Cases of Huggies diapers for $47 (reg. price for 1 box: $38). If you're planning to make an order on Diapers.com, please use the following promo code at checkout to get 30% cash back on diapers + 15% off everything else, and I will get a credit on my account! MRSJ5621
ALSO, after placing your first order on Diapers.com, you can use the promo code 10BUCKSFREE right now at Soap.com (their sister site) to get an instant $10 credit toward your first purchase of $10 or more. I used this promotion to try out Rockin' Green detergent for only $3.85. (The code MRSJ5621 works on this site, too!)
There are many other sites and deals out there. Take some time to search the web for freebies, samples, coupons and promo codes, then mix and match them with your local/web store promotions and ad prices.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
You can help change a baby’s life. Join our effort to donate 10 million diapers to low-income families and babies in need. Go to www.facebook.com/giftsinkind to learn more or simply text BABY to 52000 to make a $5 donation.
Recent studies show it can cost, on average, more than $11,000 a year to raise one child, yet one out of four children live in a home that makes less than $11,000 total in a year. This can be a huge struggle for the many families across the country who can’t afford the expense of diapers, forcing them to resort to extreme measures such as stuffing panties with newspapers to serve as a diaper.
Gifts In Kind International’s goal is to distribute 10 million Seventh Generation diapers for families in need through text donations from individuals. Help us by texting BABY to 52000 and give a one-time donation of $5.
Seventh Generation (www.facebook.com/seventhgeneration) is the official diaper partner for our campaign and will provide their chlorine-free, environmentally friendly diapers. Seventh Generation's mission is to inspire a more conscious and sustainable world by being an authentic force for positive change.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Okay, so it's not. And thank goodness, because that would be a long middle name (you hear that, Chef Oliver??).
However, I have always loved hosting. Something about weeks/days/hours of planning and the frantic hustle to hide your clutter before guests arrive gets my blood boiling. Over the years I have hosted many dinners with friends, themed and non-themed Board Game nights and wedding receptions, and [my personal favorite] birthday parties. I've decided to dedicate a section of my blog to the various parties I have planned, complete with instructions on how you can recreate and revamp these ideas into your own fabulous events!
Today's featured party is the Survivor Party:A year or two ago, my husband and I discovered the life-changing television series known as Survivor. Having never seen it before, we happened upon a new season premiere one night and were hooked. A few months after the finale, a new season started and we watched every minute of it, too. We started a Netflix account and watched previous seasons until we had seen every last episode. At some point along the way, my son caught an episode and became transfixed on the survival part of the show... he loved the challenges, fishing and clue solving. When his 7th birthday rolled around, he knew he wanted a Survivor-themed party.
Survivor, of course, is not a theme in which you can just pop into Party City and stock up on pre-printed decorations and supplies. I was being forced into creativity (a position I love to hate and hate to love)... I had to take matters into my own hands. Alas, here is my recipe for a perfect Survivor Themed Birthday Party (in this case, targeted to 1st graders).
I printed my own invitations using Survivor images from Google (read: sunsets, tropical images, and the Survivor logo). I then wrapped the invites in scraps of burlap and tied them off with tiki necklaces ("Immunity Idols") I found on Oriental Trading, with special instructions to each guest reminding them to wear their idols to the party. (Note: have back-up necklaces for kiddos we forget theirs).
Every Survivor needs a torch for tribal council. I spent a week creating these custom torches for each guest using the following original recipe.
1 Styrofoam cup
Bamboo rods (I found a 10-pack at Tuesday Morning)
Red/yellow/orange tissue paper
I started by poking a hole through the bottom of the cup, just big enough to insert the bamboo. Adhere with a hot glue gun. I cut sheets of currogated cardboard large enough to cover the cup, and glued to the outer rim of the cup. When dry, glue cut strips of tissue into cup to hide the cup and create the torch's "flame". I also used jungle-print strips of paper and glitter glue to label each guests torch.
Check out Oriental Trading and your local party store for luau/tiki/jungle/island themed decoations such as leis and wall hangings. Put a want ad on craigslist and ask for leftover party supplies.
I purchased an inflatable palm tree cooler and filled it with juice boxes. I also bought party pates and cups with the Survivor logo printed on them.
I used burlap and twine to sew basic pouch-style knapsacks for each guest. Pre-fill these bags with items they will need for "challenges" (read games below), and they serve as favor bags after guests have collected all of their prizes. I also included a Survivor buff in each knapsack for the guests to wear during the party-- you can make your own out of bathing suit fabric, or print the Survivor logo on to iron-on transfer paper and adhere to bandanas.
I can't take full credit for this cake. I did a google search and was inspired to make this design after seeing another cake. I did my best to create an island, included a small shelter and flag (using pretzel sticks and fruit roll-ups), and surrounded it with Pirouline cookies and twine.
Certain episodes of Survivor encourage participants to decorate their faces/bodies with warrior paint before challenges or ceremonies. I used basic face paint and created fun designs on the kids (with their parents permission).
The first game I invented was inspired by the food eating challenges. I collected gummi versions of eyeballs, bugs, and other gross looking edibles, and stuck them on skewers. Guests went up against eachother (2 at a time) and raced to finish the candy skewer first.
I also lead a "Survivor Auction". Each guest had an equal amount of play money in their knap sack (toy dollars and change). I explained to them that I had a collection of prizes that I would "sell"... if they wanted something, they needed to make a bid on that prize. They could bid eachother out until they were out of money, or no longer wanted to raise their bid. Also, like Survivor, the auction would end at any time without warning. The prizes I offered were candy, small toys, and Survivor trading cards. Be sure to offer every guest a small prize just for playing to keep it fair.
Often on Survivor, there are challenges in which other Survivors, or their family members, have to answer a series of questions about one particular Survivor. We played this group game after the auction. In each guests knapsacks, I included a small chalkboard and stick of chalk (found on Oriental Trading). I asked a several questions about our guest of honor (my son, the birthday boy) such as, "What is his favorite color?" and "What grade is he in?". The guest with the most correct answers won a prize. You could also do this game before the auction, and give the winner extra cash for the auction.
Finally, we played a version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" that was pirate-themed and featured a treasure map. I found this at the Dollar Tree, and thought it matched our deserted-island party theme.
Cake & presents:
I always end my kid's birthday parties with cake, then presents. After present time, let the kids "challenge" eachother with Wii sports games (one-on-one bowling/tennis/etc.), or just play until parents come for pick up.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
TV Chef Jamie Oliver (sometimes referred to as The Naked Chef) has four children:
Poppy Honey Rosie (2002)
Daisy Boo Pamela (2003)
Petal Blossom Rainbow (2009)
and newborn son, Buddy Bear Maurice (2010)
Seriously, say these names out loud. Yeah.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Paul the Psychic Octopus may have gone to that great aquarium in the sky
but the wizard of World Cup predictions will live on in a German shrine
featuring a six-foot statue of him atop a soccer ball, plus his ashes, The Local
Paul won worldwide acclaim, and a Facebook fan club, by correctly
predicting the results of seven Germany matches and Spain's 1-0 triumph over the
Netherlands in last summer's World Cup tournament in South Africa. Following
that triumph, the tentacled tipster passed away peacefully in his sleep last
October at his home at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany. He was almost
Now his aquarium has announced the unveiling later this week of "Paul's
Corner," featuring a statue 1.80 meters (six feet) high of Paul atop a soccer
ball. In the middle will be a see-through window with a golden urn containing
Paul's ashes, The Local's German edition said, citing AFP. Last November, the aquarium revealed a French-born cephalopod replacement, Paul II, whose skills have not yet been tested.
It was unclear if he would follow Paul's simple yet succulent technique
of choosing between two boxes, each decorated with a team's flag and containing
a tasty mussel. The team represented on the box Paul chose then went on to win.
At one point, his predictions were carried live on German television.