Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Auntie for the fifth time

I am going to be an Auntie again! My brother and his wife are expecting their second at the end of this summer. To congratulate my sister in law I ordered this adorable teething necklace in her favorite color - pink!

The necklace arrived in a pretty clear fabric bag with a ribbon pull tie and came with a matching bracelet which I will call the "Teething Bangle!" The silicone is sturdy, heavy duty and nontoxic. The necklace is carefully crafted on a thick silky fabric that has strong, uniform knots between each beaded disc to help it withstand the tugs and pulls of a teether.

With a breakaway clasp I needn't worry about my precious kin getting tangled or any other mishap.

I was going to wait until after baby was here, but I think this will look so nice resting on my sister in law's cute baby bump, so I think I will give it to her after her twenty week ultrasound instead. She's lugging around my one year old nephew these days and I know his teeth could start the chomping to get this necklace ready for the next in line.

*I received the necklace in exchange for my opinion*

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Packing Organizer Review

My brother in law travels a lot for his work. When he is working from home I know my sister in law would not let him leave the house looking a fool (she, unlike me, has that aesthetic eye), but what about when he is hundreds of miles away? Just getting off a plane for an important meeting?

It was with him in mind that I ordered the Dot & Dot 15 inch packing organizer. It arrived in a custom sized plastic zip sleeve which is great to store it in when not in use. With the amount we travel I would be concerned that it become dusty, so would use the zip sleeve to keep it from getting dusty and possibly getting my clothes dusty. The sleeve isn't the highest quality but it serves its purpose.

The packing folder IS of good quality though, and perfect for those of us who never worked retail. By that I mean that it comes with folding instructions with pictures! Folding for Dummies! I love it. The pictures show what I believe to be a man's dress shirt being folded.

Now, my brother in law is a decent size guy. A midwesterner. I just heard a comedian from Cali doing a bit on what it is like doing live comedy in Minnesota and he refered to us as milk fed giants. Not sure if we really are that big up here, but my brother in law does have the stature for manual labor. Only he doesn't do manual labor, he is a entrepeneur. An extrepeneur who needs his clothes to be wrinkle free. I am not certain that the 15 inch packing folder was the right size for him. I will try one of my husband's dress shirts and if that leaves a bit of extra room then I will feel confidant giving this to my brother in law. Otherwise I may hold on to it until one of my girl friends gets a new job where travel is required. It would be a perfect congratulations gift for that. Or maybe The Ogre will get his way and we will plan a trip soon. Our eleventh anniversary is coming up soon and we have yet to take our dream ten year trip, plus he really wants to make it out to New York to visit my cousins. So do I, of course, I just cringe at airfare.

How about you, who would you give this packing folder to? Or would you have use for this yourself?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Protecting talented hands

My mother in law has done so much with her hands. She is a master seamstress and can whip up Halloween costumes and special outfits with a moment's notice. Most recently she has undertaken some black out roman shades for Moo and Boo's room. A street lamp shines right in their window and we have custom cut cardboard to block it out for the time being. CLASSY!

Knowing how much The Ogre and I procrastinate, let's just say we need these hands to be well protected, otherwise those custom cut cardboard slabs may still be around, slightly frayed at the edges, come two years from now.

But how to show her we value her work? Not to mention how her gentle hands have held our babies and still she hugs, soothes and rocks them to sleep in those arms?

I knew when she oohed and ahhed over my silicone baking gloves that she needed her own pair.

I ordered a pair of SafeT gloves for her on Amazon. They were very similar to mine except a striking orange color. The kind of orange that makes me think she had better hide them from her husband, because although the company claims the gloves are "Great For Campsite, Wood Stove, Baking, Grilling , BBQ, And More" I could totally see him taking that "more" to mean using them for blaze orange camo gear when dear hunting season comes. Gut that dear without breaking a nail, if you know what I mean.

Really though these gloves are tough. Though I am too timid to test it they supposedly are resistant enough to move logs in a camp fire. I think I will save that for the next time some of The Ogre's macho friends are over for a bonfire...and I will definately pull out the camera for that one!

The next time you see my mother in law, don't be surprised if she has bright orange Ernie hands as she threads a needle. After all, those things are sharp!

Question for you: What would you use these gloves for?

**You know the drill. ... I was given free product in exchange for my review. ...all opinions are my own**

Teething necklace giveaway!

My friend Sara is having a baby! Okay, this might not matter to you folks out in cyberville but to those of you who know Sara this is the cutest thing ever. She is one of those women who everyone wants to be friends with. She is fun, yet serious when the situation calls for it. She listens and understands. She leaves long obnoxious voicemails you actually want to listen to. And she is adorable! So adorable that you kind of hate her for it, but then she is so nice that you really can't hate her. And then there is her hair, and her fashion, and...

Let's just say that when I saw this adorable teething necklace I thought of her immediately. If you don't know what a teething necklace is I will explain. Ever notice how mothers of young children don't wear much jewelry? There is a reason for that. Little ones L.O.V.E. to yank, pull, and chew on their mothers and all things attached. Rather than fight this, a teething necklace is made of safe material with a pull away clasp so that little one can share the necklace and is allowed to play with it. Some of these look rather tacky, but the Chew Choos "Playdate" style necklace is so cute that I kind of wanted to keep it for myself!

Though this line carries several cute necklaces I was drawn to this one because of the color scheme and the bead size. I love how the beads graduate from small up at the base of your neck to larger at the center of the necklace. Another plus is that the necklace comes with extra string and directions to easily customize the length. I would wait until after baby is here to do that, as those chest dimensions can change in the first few days following babies birth!

I am excited to pass this necklace on to Sara at her shower this weekend, and will see if she is comfortable sharing a picture. I know it will look great on her.

Are you interested in a necklace for yourself or a new mommy you know? Not a mom? I won't tell, as I said this is so cute that you needn't have a teether to invest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 27, 2015

Natural grocery buys this week at Abe's

There are some great sales at Abe's this week, as always. Online ordering. I recommend ordering $29 worth so you don't have to pay for shipping or combining your order with a friend. Don't forget to check out the "Try for $2" section. This past week Moo and I devoured a Try for $2 of Beanfields Nacho chips (Think a healthy attempt at Doritos that actually tastes good!)

Annie's Organic Cinnamon Bunny Grahams, 7.5 oz.
Was $3.59. On Sale for $1.80

Bear Naked Fruit and Nut Granola, 12 oz.
Was $4.99. On Sale for $2.50

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Garbanzo Fava Flour, 22 oz.
Was $5.99. On Sale for $3.00

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This syrup is anything but simple!

I worked from home this morning so there wasn't as much time for my thrifty  activities. Still I did manage to fit a few in.

I wrote my first mortgage payment for our new house. I was lucky enough to have some extra cash on hand and I paid to 2016 on the amortization schedule. This left me feeling really good and I hope in the next few months I will be able to get all the way to 2017. (See this post where I discuss paying ahead on the amortization schedule: http://athriftlifewelllived.blogspot.com/2015/02/before-you-buy-that-house.html?m=1

While prepping lunch I found a half full bag of dried up baby carrots in the refrigerator. They weren't fresh but they were not bad. I knew that the kids wouldn't want to eat them raw so I threw them in a pan of water and boiled them a bit to add some moisture to serve as a side with lunch. Both Moo and Boo had two servings, as did I. You can bet I will be watering the seedlings with the water left in the pan!

While Moo was napping the doorbell rang. It was a postal worker delivering a package as usual. Today the package was from Blue Henn (http://www.bluehenn.com), a new company my friend Gina told me about. They are local and owned by two women. WIN WIN!  I was their 100th facebook "like" so I received a free bottle of their tonic syrup. Looks like I know what we will be drinking at the next book club! Now I just need to pick up some gin or vodka and some club soda. I guess I will combine my errands and pick those up when I finally drop off the keg from our party a couple weeks ago. Have to get that deposit back!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thriftiness before Ten

An important thing to remember about thriftiness is that every little action ads up. Why do something if it will save you a penny? A buck? Because then you don't have to go out and earn that penny or buck (which costs money to make anyhow!) and get to spend your time doing WHATEVER you want. 

If you are me "whatever you want" is more like whatever the kids want, but hey I made that choice, and they are a pretty entertaining crew to hang out with. 
So, what thrifty activities did I do this morning, prior to Ms Moo's nap? 
Well, we made some muffins from a gluten free cereal mix a friend of mine passed on to us when she went grain free. It called for applesauce and brought us to the bottom of our container.

The container wasn't empty though, not if you held it up to the sun.To get every last drop we measured out the goat milk and poured it into the "empty" applesauce jar. Ms Moo had the pleasure of shaking every last bit of applesauce loose.

Same as this honey. There was no way I could get every last sticky goodness out of it, so I set it on the stove to melt and poured that syrupy sweetness in my muffin batter too. The stove was already on because I had some flat root beer that I was boiling down into root beer syrup in order to make a gluten free variation of these gooey cakes of deliciousness so I figured I may as well use up that heat.
As much as the Ogre hates washing the muffin tin, I knew he wouldn't mind that I made these. I used these great reusable muffin liners. They are silicone, flexible, easy to pop the muffins straight out of and easy to wash. Plus they come in a fun rainbow assortment of colors that the kids love to choose from. This was my second time using them. I made this "healthy" dessert for a gathering last weekend using a bit of leftover wine I had frozen when I knew I wouldn't drink it before it went bad. Of course I froze that in the silicone liners as well before popping them into a reusable baggie ;)

While the muffins cooked I watered the seedlings the kids and I planted with the water I had leftover from making coffee on the stove while Marcella snacked on the dried bananas the Ogre made this weekend from the discounted bananas section at our grocery store. Yum! This was interrupted by our giant delivery from Target. Ding Dong! Here is your next six months of toilet paper! Way to stack the savings!
And this, dear friends, is how I LOVE to spend my mornings!

Eeep! I almost forgot to tell you! I received the cupcake liners in exchange for my review of them. Ciao!

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's about to be hot dog season, so do your gut a favor and ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY!!!

Ever heard of #FBF? Flashback Friday? It is the #TBT for slackers and this #FBF I am flashing back to one of your favorite giveaways... PROBIOTICS! Love this brand and am still using it. Lots of good info on my last post so I attached it again.

Good luck!

I was given a month supply of Microbiome Plus+ Gastrointestinal probiotic to review. I have taken many probiotics over the years as they have so many health benefits (which I will review later). I like to think of them as fish oil for the gut (vs the brain). With this many benefits why wouldn't you take them?

Now, I am not a big pill popper and don't like to take a supplement without a hefty amount of research backing up the benefits, but clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women. Speaking of the vagina, did you know you can indeed administer probiotics straight to the area of need, if indeed this is your area of need. Not sure about rectal administration, but sure beats a fecal transplant any day (sorry I am slightly obsessed with odd medical procedures)

I noticed that the Microbiome package states that they shouldn't be given to those under the age of twelve without consulting a doctor, but if that is what you need I say call up that doc. After all, there are so many things that probiotics have been proven to do for children and no research that I could find seem to show any negative effect on children. In fact, the L. Reuteri bacteria is found to pass through breastmilk without even the smallest negative impact on infants, while decreasing the incidence of infant specific ailments including necrotizing enterocolitis.

One important thing to do when taking probiotics is to make sure that the strain you are taking has proven effects on your particular ailment. The probiotic contained in Microbiome Plus+ is L. Reuteri. L. Reuteri is found to have many health benefits, including but not limited to decreasing the symptoms of colic in infants, preventing tooth decay and decreasing the occurence of gingivitis in adults, preventing ulcers, and treating rotavirus. Children and adults who take L. Reuteri display higher immunity and decreased sickness.

But Microbiome Plus+ is not only probiotics. With Microbiome Plus+ you take two pills twice per day. One is the probiotic, but the other is a prebiotic. I never fully understood this, but after doing a bit of research my understanding is that Prebiotics are food for probiotics.
That is, with the administration of prebiotics, the probiotics are more able to do their work. Again, I can't see a reason not to do this.

So, unless you are supping on sauerkraut and yogurt nightly, I suggest you give these a try.
Take on of each pill (two total) twice per day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last month my mom set out a box of my deceased grandfather's belongings and allowed my siblings and I to lay claim to the items we wanted. In opening the box it was as though my grandpa's presence filled the room. Everything smelled like him! My husband and I each took a leather belt. All of his shirts, belts, and other accessories screamed American Southwest and these belts were no different. Mine came complete with a silver belt buckle with a stone roadrunner encased in it. I LOVE the belt and wear it several times per week, including when I make any big purchases or financial decisions, that man was good with money and I want my financial decisions to follow suit. It isn't so much superstitious as it is in ode to him and the choices he made and tried to teach to us.
When The Ogre and I brought the belts home we made a plan to take good care of them. We felt that all of his items were so well maintained that we should make it a point to continue the maintenance of the belts. When your lives are busy and you have two little ones it seems like anything that enters your house gets beat up and worn out. I have never done anything to care for the leather products I own.
I ordered these leather cleaners and conditioners in order to try on the leather and was pleased with the results. I own four leather belts. The red one pictured was one passed on several years ago by my sister's roommate as she was moving to Mexico. It is pretty beat up but the red color was fun. She passed away suddenly after moving to Mexico so I am interested in maintaining this belt as well.
I used the  separate cleaner and conditioner on the my grandfather and Sara's belt as I figured these deserved better treatment. The Leather Nova Leather Cleaner comes with a microfiber cloth. You spray the cleaner on the cloth and massage in a circular motion in order to loosen any dirt. After drying I used the Leather Nova Conditioner. It comes with a small round applicator sponge. You apply this in a circular motion and then let it air dry for at least an hour before buffing. The results were better than expected. I can imagine my grandfather doing this regulaurly and I plan to follow the guidelines and do this monthly. I already added it to my calender!
The pink belt I picked up at the clothing swap and that may be where the brown one came from too. Since these don't carry any importance beyond their function as a belt I used the one step combo cleaner and conditioner. It also comes with a yellow applicator sponge, this one a bit bigger. I wiped down the belts with a wet cloth and then applied the Leather Nova Conditioner and Cleaner. The belts looked nearly new!
I like having all three as I can choose the two step system when I have the time or if the items are particularly dirty. I plan to clean my winter boots with the cleaner before storing them for the summer. When I am low on time or my To Do list is overflowing I can use the combo Conditioner and Cleaner to save on time.
The finished product. Much better!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Check out my first video review. I have to say I LOVE tHese chalk markers Colore! A Colore chalk markers review: http://youtu.be/BZDjDDG74I4