Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Winds of Change Are Blowing

     Well, it's been a while since I've written. Things have been a little crazy around here....or a lot. Our third son, Ezra, was born in early February. Thank goodness my mother came out for the birth and stayed for a few weeks to help my husband and I. I don't know what I would have done without her, or without my husband taking extra leave and being so supportive. He just went back to work this week, and we're in an odd state of adjustment right now.
     As if having a new baby wasn't hard enough we have started potty training Owen, our middle child. Potty training + adjusting to being a big brother = tears. I won't tell you if they're his or mine. Liam seems to be doing well with Ezra, though he's going through a rough patch with me. He's got a passive aggressive form of acting out with me (he doesn't do this with his father). Liam has started to ignore me and basically cut me out of things. He doesn't want to tell me things, he doesn't listen or respond to me when I talk to him most of the time. Getting him to tell me about his day is like pulling teeth. I've been trying to give the elder two some extra attention because I know it's hard when there's a new baby, but I only have so much attention to give. I mean, I have to sleep some time? I'm taking Liam to see Beauty & the Beast tomorrow in an attempt to have some one on one time with Liam. Here's to hoping it goes well.
     On top of everything else, we have found out that my husband got an assignment to Japan! While this is very exciting (and stressful) news, nothing is certain until we get our paper orders. We still have to get medically cleared to go and there is a lot to do before we can leave. As our time gets closer I'll write more. I'd like to chronicle the process, especially since this is our first move overseas.
     So there you have it. Our family has been experiencing a lot of change lately, with more to come, but I hope to get back into our routines in some fashion. I'll be writing again soon, hopefully with some cool PCS news.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How To Score Free Baby Swag

     Since I'm expecting my third bundle of joy in the next few weeks, I've been spending some time nesting. Part of my nesting routine involves a) washing and drying baby clothes and blankets multiple times so I can smell that amazing Dreft baby smell b) organizing and reorganizing clothes and cloth diapers c) cleaning and d) trying to score as much free baby stuff as possible. We all know babies are expensive. From the hat on their heads to the tiny socks covering their tiny toes, babies cost money. New parents, and even parents with a few kids under their belts, can get overwhelmed trying to get everything baby *needs* and some things that baby may want. Hence, my stock pile of free stuff. This pregnancy I decided to use baby registries to score some free baby swag.
     I did have a baby shower (more like a sprinkle since this is baby #3), but my registries really weren't for shower purposes. I created my registries to organize my thoughts on what I actually still needed to get (and some stuff I just wanted) and because if you create a registry somewhere they usually give you a free gift. To maximize my savings I created three registries: Babies R Us, Target, and Amazon. Here are the benefits of each:
1. Amazon: If you complete the registry check list provided by Amazon, have Prime or sign up for a free trial, AND something worth $10+ is purchased from your registry (by you or by someone else) you will receive a free baby box from Amazon full of samples and full sized baby products. You have to make sure you complete your checklist though. You can always take items off after your box is sent if you don't really need/want them. After a few weeks you will also get a 15% off coupon to use one time on any items remaining on your registry that you wish to purchase. Here's a picture of the welcome box I got (excuse my giant baby bump at the bottom of the picture, lol):

2. Babies R Us: You can create your registry for Babies R Us online or in-store. I created mine online and ended up adding things on the next time I stopped by the store. Using that little barcode gun is so much fun! If you create your registry in-store you will get a swag bag at that time, if you've created it online all you have to do when you go into the store is walk up to the registry center and tell them you created a registry online and ask for your bag. Your bag will be full of samples, baby bottles, etc. After your shower you will get an email with a coupon for a % off whatever is remaining on your registry. The best thing I received in my bag was a Twist breastfeeding starter pack. It's something like a $30-$35 value! I like the Twist system because you can use it with any kind of pump.

3. Target: As with Babies R Us you can opt to create your registry in-store or online. If you create your registry in-store they give you your bag there, if you do it online all you need to do to claim your bag is go to the customer service desk and ask for your bag. Just tell them you made your registry online. The Target bag had a lot of coupons (some for Starbucks so you can have a coffee or tea while you peruse the baby asiles) and samples, including an Advent bottle. You will also get a 15% off coupon to use one time on anything remaining on your registry after your shower date. 

Here's a run-down on everything that I got for free:
  • (2) Advent bottles
  • (1) MAM bottle w/a pacifier inside
  • (2) Pampers Swaddler and wipe samples (newborn size) in a reuseable pouch w/coupons
  • (1) Honest Diapers sample- 2 diapers + 10 wipes
  • (1) Nuk pacifier
  • (1) Lansinoh nursing pads & milk storage bags sample
  • (1) Twist breastfeeding starter pack
  • (1) Oball O-copter baby toy
  • (2) Munchkin Latch disposable nursing pads
  • (1) 80ct pack of Amazon brand sensitive baby wipes
  • (1) Swaddle Designs muslin swaddle blanket
  • coupons and special offers
  • Samples of: Aquaphor, Seventh Generation laundry detergent & lotion, Mustela baby wash & stretch mark cream, Aveeno lotion, Boudreaux's Buttpaste
I made sure to purchase things I needed from each registry so I wasn't swindling these businesses. Like I said before, babies are expensive and every little bit helps. All three registries were easy to set up, but I had to jump through the most hoops for the Amazon box. It was totally worth the time though. Good luck and happy shopping!



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Economy Meals: Chicken Two Ways

     I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas and holiday season. My family was blessed with a wonderful, if exhausting, holiday. Now that the hustle and bustle (and expense) of the holiday season is over I've been turning to some easy, cheap, and comforting dishes to cook. Since it's pretty inexpensive to buy a whole chicken, I like to keep one on hand in my freezer chest. Whole chickens are a great way to stretch your dollar, as you can often make one bird go for two meals. Here are two recipes using one chicken: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes & Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Last night I roasted a chicken for dinner, and tonight I'm making the soup.

Roasted Chicken and Schmaltzy Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken, thawed with packet removed from the inside
  • 4 large red potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Weber Cajun seasoning
  • roasting pan
     Remove your chicken from its wrapper and pat dry. Place in a roasting pan. Let it sit in your fridge for about an hour to allow the skin time to dry. About 45 mins before you plan to pop it in the oven remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature. You don't want to cook a cold, soggy chicken. You won't get yummy crisp skin that way. Always dry your bird and allow it to come somewhat to room temperature.
     While your chicken is sitting, thinly slice your red potatoes and put them into a large bowl. Lightly toss them in olive oil, and then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you're about to put your chicken in the oven. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
     Once your oven is ready to go it's time to remove your bird from the roasting pan and set on a plate or cutting board. Take your seasoned red potatoes and layer them on the bottom of the pan in order to cover just the surface area that your chicken takes up. Think of it like a bed of potatoes for your chicken. You only want to put the potatoes where the chicken will be, but it's okay if the potatoes peek out from under the bird. It doesn't have to be exact. 
     Next, place your chicken on top of its bed of potatoes. Lightly drizzle your chicken with olive oil and rub it in all over the bird. Next, sprinkle some of the Weber Cajun seasoning all over the bird, and rub that in also. Do this to taste; you may also add additional salt and pepper to taste. 
     Place your uncovered roasting pan in the oven and let it roast for three hours at 300 degrees. Low and slow cooking will give you a beautifully roasted bird. When the three hours is up, remove your pan from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for at least five minutes before you check it with a meat thermometer to ensure it's done. Carve up your chicken, and serve it with the potatoes that cooked underneath your bird. They will have slowly roasted and soaked up all that amazing schmaltz from your chicken. Trust me, it's delicious. If you want more tips on roasting chickens check out this Bon Appetit article.

Now, this is important. After your family has enjoyed its wonderful roast chicken dinner, save any leftover chicken AND the carcass. DO NOT throw away the bones and/or skin and meat left on them. They will be used in your second day recipe, which could be:

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients:
  • leftover roasted chicken and carcass
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • noodles of choice (I usually use egg noodles)
  • 12 cups of water
  • salt & pepper to taste
     In a large soup pot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in your diced veggies and cook until they become tender, adding garlic in the last 2-3 mins. Do not add the garlic when you add the carrots, celery, and onion to avoid scorching your garlic. After your garlic has been in your pot for a few minutes add your water, bay leaves, and your leftover chicken & carcass. Bring to a boil, and once you've reached a boil reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
     After the two hours has elapsed, remove your chicken carcass & bay leaves from the pot and turn off heat. Once your carcass has cooled, pick it clean. Return your meat to your soup pot and discard all bones, cartilage, and skin along with your used bay leaves. Add your bullion cubes and salt & pepper to your soup and bring to a boil. 
     Once your soup is boiling add in your noodles. I don't specify an amount because I know some people like lots of noodles and some people do not. Add in how every many noodles of whatever type you desire and cook them for as long as it says on the package directions. Alternatively, you could reduce your heat to a simmer and cook your noodles for about half an hour, or until done. Once your noodles are cooked your soup is ready to enjoy. Add a nice side salad and some crusty French bread or biscuits to make this a warming, homey meal.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My $50 Ulta Haul

When you combine $50 in Christmas money and a 20% off your entire purchase coupon, magic can happen. My Nana sent our family $50 each for Christmas (thank you again Nana!). I spent most of the morning shopping on Ulta.com and I finally found what I wanted to get. Ulta products were buy 2 get 2 free, so I felt like I did pretty well making my $50 go the distance. Here's my Ulta haul:



I scored 1 pack of Biore charcoal strips, an Ulta blush brush, an Ulta highlighting brush, a dual-ended Ulta contouring/strobing brush, an Ulta concealer palette, and the Ulta Brilliantly Beautiful Color Essential collection in bronze. All for $50 and free shipping! This girl cannot wait to play around with my new makeup. I've never contoured in my life, and I've decided to try and see how I do now that I have my new brushes. Hopefully it isn't too ghastly, and if it is I'm sure the kids won't care. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I hope that everyone is kicking off their holiday season in style. Whichever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a happy holiday. In my house we're in the Advent season in anticipation for Christmas. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my in-laws, and my kids had a blast. As a military family, we don't get to see our extended family nearly as much as we would like to. Due to this separation it's doubly as sweet and exciting when we do get to see them. We capped off our visit with family with a trip to Branson, MO to ride the Polar Express. It was a wonderful experience for the whole family and my kids were thrilled. It was a bit costly, but I'm so glad we went.
                           
My mother-in-law took us to the square in downtown Fayetteville for Lights on the Square. There were food vendors and pony/camel (?)/carriage rides. Ever seen a Christmas Camel? We have. Liam called the ponies Christmas donkeys. 

                         

On the Polar Express we were read the book, given hot cocoa and cookies (after a very snappy dance number), were hailed by characters from the book, got a ride through a Festival of Lights, and to top it all off Santa himself came aboard to give everyone a Christmas bell. 

Today we're hoping to finish putting up decorations in the house, and as soon as I get a tree skirt our Christmas tree will be complete. So from my family to yours, we're wishing you a merry Christmas.





Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday Magic!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.**


Get an early start on Cyber Monday today with ModCloth. Everything on their site is 30%! Just think about that: 30% off a stunning holiday party dress; gifts for everyone on your list; not to mention the shoes *drool*. Hurry over to ModCloth this Sunday through Wednesday and use the code CYBER16 to score 30% off your entire purchase, and as always all domestic orders get free shipping! So don't forget: EVERYTHING is 30% off at ModCloth during the Cyber Monday event (ends 11/30 at 9 AM EST) when you use code CYBER16.