Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thrifty Thursday! {Guest Post}

Today's Thrifty Tip is completely courtesy of my awesomely brilliant friend, Elizabeth from One Girl Among Boys.  She brought these very thrifty deals to my attention.  
Thanks, Liz!  Your gift will be in the mail as soon as I can complete the offers below! 

Thrifty Tip # 37:  Check out VISTAPRINT for some awesome deals.  Follow THIS LINK for the deals!!!

We ordered and paid for these.  We needed some personalized cards with Troy's information on the inside.
AND since then, I have received over $180 of free products.  Yes, free.  No strings attached...FREE.  
A few times I have paid shipping, but they often have free shipping.  They send out e-mails almost daily with their new free specials....and I grab them up.  So far I have gotten (free):  a personalized mug, business cards (made Mommy cards that have my contact info on them...just for fun), a personalized tote bag, personalized pen, personalized "thank you" cards, personalized "thinking of you" cards, and more personalized stuff:  keychain, mouse pad, note pad, address labels....and my favorite: a LARGE great quality (think vinyl) banner for Seth's upcoming birthday party. 
Here's just a snapshot of some of the things I've gotten.  And on my list to get: free invitations.
Their products can be expensive.....but wait until you need to buy one thing (for a gift, for yourself, for an upcoming event, etc) and then take advantage of all the free stuff you can get.  FUN! FUN! FUN!!!!  But look out, it's addictive.

***So, what freebies will you be ordering?***

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Second grade is HERE! {updated!}

Sunday night, we headed out for a little mama/daughter time!
Ramona and Beezus is the CUTEST little movie ever... should see it.  
Wish I could bottle up Cloe's giggles!
Bring a tissue, too!
Monday we headed to Back-to-School night.
Cloe met her new teacher, Miss Schultz.
Cloe's comments: "Ooo good.  I got the teacher that wears cute clothes!"
(Because that's our standard of a good teacher?)
Next, Cloe picked out a desk and unloaded her supplies.

And now...TODAY...
All ready for her first day of second grade!

This picture slightly captures the goofiness at our house!
The little brothers had to escort Cloe to her classroom.
New backpack in her locker and all ready for the day.

(Now mom has to!  At least my tears waited until we were outside!)

By the way, I seriously have the best friends in the world!  I had so many little emails, texts, and notes today reminding me that my friends were praying for our first day!  I love them!!! 
Never underestimate the value of a note saying you're praying for a friend!  Thanks, Girls!

The after school finale!
(Thanks for this awesome idea, Katie!)

How did the first day go?
 Two thumbs up for second grade!

The boys had bought a couple of presents for Cloe to celebrate her first day back to school.
(and to mourn their loneliness!)

Meet Ms. Squiggles the zhu zhu pet:
the only type of "pet" that will ever grace our home.

The ballerina shrink art was also a hit!

(Some Thrifty Thursday I'll share how we got these presents for nearly free at the  mall!  Yippee!)

And that was our back-to-school day!

How did your back-to-school day go?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Tomorrow marks the beginning of second grade.
This mama's feeling a little sentimental tonight!

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's time for...

...After School Snacks!

Thanks to a little help from Martha, we've got some super yummy after school snack recipes ready to go!

Here's my favorite one so far!

I hope these make it all the way until...after school!

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup dried fruit  (I used cranberries)

In a small saucepan over medium, heat honey, peanut butter, and butter. Stir until loosened and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cereal, oats, and dried fruit.
Drop mixture by the tablespoon into mini paper cupcake or candy liners. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Savoring Summer's last Seconds!

We took a little trip to downtown Des Moines

for a little picnic
and sculpture exploration.

We found our look-alikes

and conquered our fears.
picked our favorite old building
(where someone should open a cakes, cookies and coffee shop!)
just our little family...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thrifty Thursday! {State Fair Edition}

Thrifty Tip #36: Visit the Iowa State Fair and mark off one of the top 1000 Places to See Before You Die! For you non-Iowa readers, here's a really thrifty way to experience all the excitement...a pictorial tour of our day  and a little trivia!

What is the theme of the 2010 Iowa State Fair?
 Non Stop Fun

When was the first Iowa State Fair held?
The Agricultural Building
 The first Iowa State Fair was held October 25 to 27,1854, twenty years before America’s great westward movement began.

How old are the Fairgrounds?
 The Fair moved to its present site at East 30th and East University in 1886. 
Therefore, the Fairgrounds are 124 years old in 2010.

When was the first Iowa State Fair cookbook published?
 (Getting an autographed blue ribbon for my copy of the cookbook!)
1983 and 14 editions have been printed to date. 
A new cookbook is now published every other year, with the next book making a debut at the 2010 Fair.

In what year did Fair attendance first top 1 million?
 (Hold on tight, kiddos!  BIG crowds!)
In 2002, Fair attendance was 1,008,174. 
The Fair has surpassed the 1 million mark each year since 2002.
In 2008, the attendance was a record-breaking 1,109,150. 

What are the record weights of the largest animals at the Iowa State Fair?

Big Boar 1259 lbs., 2008
World Super Bull 3404 lbs., 2009

How many food classes are judged annually?
 Winner of the Gingerbread House category!
The Iowa State Fair features the largest state fair foods department with nearly 900 classes.

How many cows are milked daily during the Fair in the milking parlor?
24 cows on average (many more during the first weekend when Dairy Cattle are showing).

How many buildings are located at Little Hands on the Farm?

Seven buildings:  Starting Barn, Grain Bin, Poultry Barn, Tractor Shed, Sheep Barn, Dairy Barn and Grocery Store.

*This is the most fun place in the entire fair for our children!  They get to go through every step of farming and then in turn sell their produce to earn some "cash" for the grocery store!

What was the hottest temperature recorded at the Fair?
 108 degrees on Older Iowans' Day, August 16, 1983

What happens to the butter from which the Butter Cow is sculpted?
 The BUTTER COW!  One of our favorite sites of the fair!
It is frozen and stored during the year and reused for three or four Fairs. 
Butter sculpture has been part of the Fair since 1911. 
It takes an estimated 600 pounds of butter and 16 hours to craft the Butter Cow.

In addition to the Butter Cow, what other sculpture also graces the Agriculture Building coolers?

50th anniversary of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham
All butter sculptures are exhibited in a 40-degree showcase cooler in the Agriculture Building.

About how many exhibits are entered annually?
 There go my kids...geeking out in the 4-H building!  
I participated in 4-H for nine years and spent a lot of time in this building during the State Fair!
In 2008, more than 16,940 people entered 58,966 exhibits in various categories ranging from cattle to needlepoint to vegetables. 
A total of $397,066.90 was paid in premiums to winning exhibitors.

About how many concessionaires and exhibitors operate on the grounds?
Approximately 600 exhibitors and concessions operate daily during the Fair.
This includes nearly 200 food stands (cotton candy to corn dogs),
300 exhibitors (farm machinery to hot tubs),
and 200 merchandise booths (t-shirts to tools).

How long has Hog Calling been an Iowa State Fair tradition?
 We take our pigs seriously!
The first Hog Calling competition was held in 1926.

When was the first State Fair Queen Pageant held?
A few of the candidates in 1994.
It was held in 1964.
My claim to shame...
embarrassing on so many levels...
but yes, this lead to my true love and loyalty for the Iowa State Fair!

Approximately how many types of food can be purchased "on-a-stick" at the Fair?

More than 50 foods are on a stick. The list includes pickle, pork chop, corn dog, corn on the cob, cotton candy, veggie dog, turkey drumstick, fried pickle, hot bologna, Monkey Tails, honey, deep fried candy bar, deep fried hot dog , chocolate covered cheesecake, Potato Lollipop, pineapple, Chicken Lips, Cornbrat, salad, hard-boiled egg...

If you unrolled all the toilet tissue stockpiled for the Fair, how many miles would it stretch?

1,818 miles (That's 5 trips to Chicago from Des Moines, or one trip to Los Angeles!) 
(random unnecessary fact!)

What was the budget of the first Iowa State Fair in 1854?
Spending part of our budget for yummy rice krispie treats on a stick...a bargain at $2!
In 1854, the budget was $323. 
Crazy!  Admission is now $10 / person and food is an average of $6 an item!

How many ribbons are handed out during the Fair?
 Approximately 45,000 ribbons, rosettes and banners are awarded annually to winners.  

What are the lyrics to the song "Our State Fair" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical titled "State Fair"?

Our State Fair is a great State Fair,
Don't miss it, don't even be late.
It's dollars to doughnuts that our State Fair,