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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Unplugged" August Goals ~ 31 Days Without Facebook or Blogging

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I readily admit that I am easily distracted. I struggle with trying to prioritize projects and tasks and inevitably find myself sucked into the world of social media, where I lose all sense of discipline and self-control. I am tired of my children seeing the back or side of my head and if they could articulate their feelings, I'm certain they would agree. My marriage has been put on the back-burner the last few months in order to catch up on the latest Facebook updates or work tirelessly on blog posts.

 

Enough is enough! I wish I could simply "cut back" on my Facebook and blogging time, but unfortunately it has to be all or nothing for me. I don't do moderation well and those two things, especially, suck the life out of my productivity. It's time to "unplug" and really put ALL of my time and undivided attention into the HUGE month we are about to dive into at our house. Here is a list of my personal goals, our home projects and the family activities that are headed my way in the next four weeks. Hopefully, you will recognize how time consuming my August is looking and understand my need for a little social media hiatus.

Personal Goals
  • Organize our homeschool room, purchase supplies & work on lesson plans for the first semester
  • Read Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst (out Aug. 7)
  • Continue working on my gratitude journal/1000 gifts list
  • Begin a food log, drink more water and exercise 3x week (minimum)
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night
Home Projects
  • Have ceiling in playroom/schoolroom repaired and painted
  • Clean and organize laundry room, paint and replace curtains
  • Spray paint and cover Little Tykes picnic table with fabric/vinyl to use for school (see Pinterest project HERE)
Family Activities
  • Aug. 3 & 4 ~ Kids' Avenue Sale (and Pre-sale) @ Ginghamsburg Church
  • Aug. 6-10 ~ Vacation Bible School at Troy Baptist Temple
  • Aug. 17 ~ Family Carnival & Movie @ Ginghamsburg Church
  • Aug. 18 ~ Charlotte's 2nd Birthday and Family Photo Shoot
  • Aug. 19 ~ Pink Pirate Princess Party at the Park (say that 5 times fast!)
  • Aug. 22 ~ First day of Homeschool!!!
  • End of Aug. or early Sept. ~ Family Vacation to Chicago 

I plan to be back to blogging (as much as I can without sacrificing family time) starting in September. In the meantime, here are some great blogs & websites you might enjoy. And of course, there is always Pinterest!
The Better Mom (bi- weekly menu plans & encouraging articles)
Money Saving Mom (kid activities, deals, recipes and organic/natural food coupons)
The Nourishing Home (excellent "real food" recipes)
Organic Deals (Grocery deals & printable coupons for healthy food!)
Sarah Mae ~ Where Life Becomes Worship (encouragement for moms)

Have a fabulous and fun August!
Ashley






Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Parfait

Store-bought yogurt is loaded with added sugar. By sweetening the yogurt yourself, you'll save a ton of calories. The Greek yogurt is low in fat and high in protein. The almonds and strawberries provide a nice dose of fiber and vitamin C. I personally love the crunch that the chocolate chips and almond slivers add to the smooth, creamy yogurt! Enjoy!


1/2 c. plain yogurt--Greek yogurt is thick and wonderful!
1 t. pure maple syrup (optional)
1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. sliced organic strawberries
2 T. slivered almonds (or try granola instead!)
1 T. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl combine 1/2 c. yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla extract (or skip the bowl and use the yogurt container instead). Stir well. In a separate serving bowl, add 1/4 c. of the yogurt and top it with 1/2 c. of strawberries, 1 T. of almonds and 1/2 T. of chocolate chips. Layer the remaining 1/4 c. yogurt and finish it off with rest of the strawberries, almonds and chocolate chips.

Grab your spoon and dig in! This is the perfect amount of sweetness for an afternoon snack or summer dessert. I think it would be a delicious breakfast, too! I wish I could say I got to eat this bowlful of yumminess, but unfortunately I had to share most of it with my toddler who declared it, "Mmm...num!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hope and Help for the "Time-Challenged" Mom



I was born late. About 2 weeks late, to be exact. Being late runs in my family, too. My father has always been habitually late, and even though we didn't live with him for the majority of our growing-up years--I believe I inherited a "tardy gene". When I was in high school and drove myself to school, I was one tardy away from serving a Saturday school. In college, I was on "chapel probation" because I would habitually get to the weekly chapel service at my Christian college about 30 seconds after they had passed out the attendance slips where you wrote your student ID #. Now, at almost 34 years old, I have two little kids who are constantly creating last minute drama that keeps me from getting to where I need to be on time. Sound familiar to anyone?


Seriously though, wouldn't it be easier if we could just "pass the buck" and blame someone or something else for our poor choices? Let's be honest for a second. I am totally and completely self-responsible for being late to everything. Every. single. time! Yep, you heard me right...it's not genetics or really long trains, or car trouble, or my kids, or even getting up too late that causes me to be chronically tardy for every appointment, meeting, playdate or family event. I've been thinking long and hard lately about why I do what I do and more importantly, what punctual people do to get places on time. Here are the top 3 reasons I am always, always late--and what I've decided to do about the problem. 

#1  I try to squeeze in "just one more quick thing" before leaving the house.
This wouldn't be such a big deal for people who aren't time-challenged . If you have 30 minutes to spare and want to throw in a load of laundry, that's just plain smart! However, because I have absolutely NO concept of how long it takes to do things--I usually underestimate projects by half the amount of time required. For example, this past Sunday I had sprayed down the shower with my new homemade shower cleaner and was planning on hopping in the shower and cleaning it out before doing my usual shower routine. I figured it would only take about 5 minutes or so and I had "plenty of time" before we had to leave for church. My five minute project turned into a 15 minute project and I had to leave my hair halfway dried in order to get out the door to the van, where Bill and the kids were waiting for me. 


There have been multiple times when I have been out running errands, looked the clock and thought, "Hmmm....I have 30 minutes before I have to pick up Jackson at preschool. I have "plenty of time" to run into Meijer for a few things before I go get him."  Deduct the 10 minute drive time to the school, the extra 5 minutes to load up Charlotte and the groceries in the van and the 5 minutes it takes to check-out/pay and you've got yourself 10 minutes left to "pick up a couple of things."  This would totally be possible for someone with a watch or a charged up cell phone to keep track of those precious 10 shopping minutes....have I mentioned I don't own a watch and I rarely charge my phone? Ha ha ha! 


Trying to use up every last second may sound like a good time management technique; however, I'm learning that not allowing any padding in the schedule for unexpected dirty diapers, red lights, or long check-out lanes will almost guarantee that I am late. 

#2  I subconsciously believe we can teleport ourselves places without actually having to drive somewhere.
Somewhere along the line, I have developed this horrible habit of thinking the time I need to be somewhere is the time I need to leave the house. It makes no difference if the appointment or event is 5 blocks from my house or several counties away...I never account for travel time. Ever! Before children came along, there was never really any "loading time". Unless you have to scrape snow off the windows, you just go out and get in the vehicle and drive away. Easy peasy! However, the process of buckling my kids, loading up the diaper bag and my purse, returning to the house for forgotten sippy cups, rounding up library books that need to be returned, remembering the casserole for Mom2Mom, or locating my keys (ugh...lost keys are the biggest time suck!) takes at least 10 minutes. In spite of  knowing this process takes time, I allow zero minutes for loading OR travel time. And yet I wonder why I am chronically late....Beam me up Scotty!


Here's a great example for you. A friend invited me to a playdate a few days ago and said it started at 11:00 am. When I looked at the clock at 10:45 am, never once did it cross my mind that I should have the kids loaded in the van and be en route to her house. Wanna know what I thought when I looked at the clock? "Oh good! I still have 15 minutes to take a quick shower." (See #3 for why showering is the last thing I do instead of the first.) Needless to say, I arrived about 45 minutes late--again! My brain does not automatically deduct time for getting places like most people do without thinking about it. The time I need to BE somewhere is the time I plan to LEAVE my house. (Inevitably, I will leave 10 minutes later than that because I forgot to account for the time required to physically get loaded into the van!)


Most of the places I drive are fairly local and I am there in 15 min. or less. Very rarely do I go anywhere more than 30 min. away. I need to plan on 30 minutes of drive time for every destination--regardless of actual distance. I read somewhere that you should plan 5 minutes of "loading time" per child. For me, that would be 10 minutes--which seems about right. Adding together the 30 minutes of travel time and the 10 minutes of loading time means when a friend says her playdate is at 11:00--my brain needs to say 10:15 and my body needs to be walking out the door at 10:20. Wow! Do punctual people really have to do this kind of math every time they need to go someplace?! Ha ha ha!

#3  I do the least important things first and the most important things last.
Ugh...this one is a killer!! In addition to being "time challenged", I am also terrible at prioritizing! I have never been able to determine what order things should be done for the most efficiency. I do the most enjoyable things first and save the most difficult or dreaded tasks for last. I underestimate how long things take and procrastinate on the important things--like showering for instance. I get wrapped up in the little things and the next thing I know, I look up at the clock and realize I need to be two towns away in 25 minutes and haven't even begun getting myself ready. Panic sets in as I rush around like a mad woman and treat my kiddos like a jerk, just because I didn't use my time well.


I have always gotten myself ready at the last possible second. I perfected the art of putting my make up on while driving when I was in high school. Like many teenagers, I slept too late, didn't leave myself enough time to get ready, and spent way too long trying to fix my hair. I realized one day that I had 10 minutes of driving time to school that I could easily use to put on my make up. This is habit that has continued for the past 15+ years. (I am totally embarrassed to be admitting this fact, but at least now I am smart enough to wait until I am parked someplace before applying it! I have to tell the kids to wait for a second while I slap on some mascara and lip gloss before going into the store.) This topic came up a few years ago, when I was talking to a co-worker who was in her early 40s. She volunteered that she always put on her make up while driving because the lighting is better in her car than in her house. Sometimes it helps to know you aren't alone in your quirkiness!


On mornings I have to be somewhere--I will type blog posts, check Facebook, feed the kids and myself breakfast, dress the kids and occasionally fold some laundry before I finally make the time to shower or get myself ready. I think putting myself last has deeper roots than I want to deal with in this post, but the fact is that I don't do the important things first (like getting clothes on!) and I don't allow adequate time for necessary tasks--which leads to me being late time and time again. 


I recall a friend with three small children showing up frazzled to our weekly moms' group a couple years ago. Her youngest daughter, who was old enough to be walking, was in her pjs. I kind of chuckled about it and she said something I will never forget, "Some days there is only enough time for one of us to get dressed and it's as sure as heck going to be me!"  Man, if I that had been me that day instead of her...my daughter would have been dressed head-to-toe (probably with a matching bow and shoes) and I would have been the one decked out in my pajamas! 


4 Ideas for the Time-Challenged Mom 
1. Sometimes less is more. Why not skip the "one last thing" and just be 10 or 15 minutes early for that appointment or school pick-up, thereby eliminating the mad dash to get somewhere and lowering my stress level in the process? I won't be as likely to snap at my kids for being kids (spilling milk on the floor as we're walking out the door, having to go to the restroom after getting into the van, etc.) if I am not acting like a crazy woman trying to get from Point A to Point B. I could use the extra minutes to sit in the waiting room and read a book, clean out my purse in the car line at preschool or just listen to a favorite CD. What if I were the first one to arrive at a playdate, instead of the last? What would it be like to hear the opening song at church because we were in our seats when the worship celebration started? 


2. Begin tracking how long things take (such as unloading the dishwasher, stopping to get gas, folding a load of laundry, etc.) to have a more accurate idea of the time involved in completing those little tasks that we try to squeeze into our "spare time". Or go ahead and guess how long you think it will take to do the task/errand and then double or even triple that amount of time to come up with a realistic figure to work with. I'm not sure about you, but I'm not nearly as quick as I think I am!


3. Plan ahead by deducting both travel time (30 minutes will be my standard) and loading time (5 minutes per child) from the time you need to arrive someplace. Set a kitchen timer to go off 10 minutes before you need to be heading out the door to give everyone in the house a warning to put on shoes, go to the bathroom and gather up last minute items for the road (library books, sippy cups, grocery list, KEYS!!).


4. Last but not least (Am I the only one who finds it ironic that I put this tip last?), put the most important things first. People are more forgiving of kids with bedhead who are still in their pajamas, than they are of adults. Save unloading the dishwasher, checking social media and even dressing the little ones until YOU are ready (make up and shoes, too!). If there is extra time, feel free to do the less important tasks--but keep tip #1 in mind and don't try to squeeze in too much and end up in a mad rush. 


Are you "time-challenged"? What part of this post really spoke to your heart? Maybe you are naturally organized and punctual. If so, I would love for you to share what goes through the mind of an "on time" person and what secrets you use to get places with time to spare. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fresh Food Deals: Eat Healthy & Save Money!



The following grocery deals are for the Dayton, OH and surrounding areas. If you spot a great deal on fresh/natural/organic foods and/or find a new printable coupon, be sure to let me know so I can spread the word. This is a weekly feature that will be posted on Tuesdays whenever possible. Some prices are weekly advertised prices and others are unadvertised sales with varying end dates.

KROGER
Weekly Advertised Deals for July 16-22
$1.99/lb. Northwest Cherries
$2 Driscoll's Blackberries or Raspberries, 6 oz.
$2 Driscoll's Blueberries, pint
Sign up for Driscoll's e-mails to receive coupons!
4/$1 Sweet Corn (may be GMO-avoid by buying organic)
$1.50 Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Peppers
$.39/lb. Seedless Watermelon, halves or quarters
$2 Strawberries, 16 oz.
$.99/lb. Peaches
$1.50 Private Selection Mini-Peeled Carrots, 16 oz.
$3.99 Clementines, 3 lb. bag
$1.00 Mangos
$3.00 Lifeway Kefir (probiotic beverage)
$1.00 Fage Greek Yogurt
$2.50 Simple Truth Cage-Free Eggs
$1.25 Kroger Eggs (free-range, pastured eggs would be better!)
$1.79 Kroger Chunk Cheese, 8 oz.
$1.99 Kroger Butter Quarters, 1 lb.(organic butter is best!)
$2.50 Athenos Feta Cheese
$2.09 Daisy Sour Cream or Cottage Cheese, 16 oz. (rBST free!)
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products
$2.99 Silk PureAlmond or PureCoconut, half gallon
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products
$1.19 Honest Tea or Ade
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products
$1.09 Vitamin Water
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products
$3.29 Kashi Frozen Meals
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products
$3.49 Turkey Hill Ice Cream (look for the All Natural varieties!)
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products

Unadvertised Temporary Price Drops
3/$1.00 Stretch Island Fruit Co. fruit leather strips
$3.19 Private Selection Organic Frozen Fruit
$2.00 Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips
$1.67 Annie's Organic Mac-n-Cheese
$3.19 Yoga Organic Brown or White Rice, 2 lb.
$6.19 Private Selection Pure Maple Syrup, 12 oz.
$2.39 DeLallo Pasta (in International aisle), most varieties
-$1.00 printable at http://www.delallo.com/coupons-and-promotions
$1.67 Private Selection Organic Pasta, 16 oz.
$5.79 Kashi Frozen Pizza
$2.50 Cascadian Farms Frozen Veggies
Download $.75 e-coupon to your Kroger Plus Card HERE
$3.69 R.W. Knudsen Organic Juice, 32 oz.
Download $1.00 e-coupon to your Kroger Plus Card HERE 
$4.69 Daiya Dairy-free Cheese
$4.13 Earth Balance Spread
$4.99 Kettle Brand Almond Butter, 11 oz.
$2.50 Blue Diamond Nut Thins (GF)
$3.49 Mary's Gone Crackers (GF)
$2.99 Back to Nature Granola Cookies (GF)
BOGO (Reg $4.99) Zevia Natural Cola, 6 pk.
3/$1.25 Earth's Best Stage 3 Baby Food
$2.99 Earth's Best Baby Cereal
$3.49 Happy Baby Puffs
-$1.00/2 coupon at www.smartsource.com
$2.99 Willamette Valley Granola Chips
$2.50 Nature's Pride Bread or Hamburger Buns (no HFCS!)
$2.49 Delilah Medjool Dates (produce section)
$3.59 Private Selection Organic All-purpose Unbleached Flour, 5 lb.
$3.19 Skippy Natural PB
$2.69 Silver Palate Thick and Rough Oats
$3.00 Hormel Natual Choice Lunchmeat
$3.99 Simple Truth Organic Butter, 1 lb. sticks


DOWNLOAD THESE GREAT COUPONS TO YOUR PLUS CARD AND SAVE $$ INSTANTLY!
Click HERE to sign-up or sign-in and these coupons will come off automatically at the register.
$1 off one R.W. Knudsen Organic Juice, 32 oz.
BOGO Sweet Leaf Tea (save $1.99)
$2/2 Good Belly Probiotic Juice
$.50 off one Breyer's product (look for ice cream with 5 ingredients or less!)
$.75 off three Larabars
$1 off one FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash
$2 off one President Feta Cheese
$1 off one Method product, select varieties
Click HERE to sign-up or sign-in and these coupons will come off automatically at the register. You need a cell phone to sign-up, but can opt to not receive any messages from them. These coupons go onto your shopper card, not your phone!
$.75 off one Cascadian Farm product
$.75 off three Larabars
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MEIJER
Weekly Advertised Deals for July 15-21
10/$10, Get 11th Free
Greenhouse Cucumbers
Baby-Cut or Organic Baby Cut-Carrots
Raspberries, 6 oz.
Meijer Organics Whole White or Minibella Mushrooms, 8 oz.
Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Peppers
Barilla Pasta, 12-16 oz.
DelMonte Fruit Naturals Cups (produce section)
Meijer Frozen Veggies, 16 oz.
Hunt's or Rotel Canned Tomatoes
Meijer Toothbrushes
Meijer Dental Floss
Meijer Liquid Hand Soap
Trial & Travel Size Health & Beauty Products

$1.88/lb. Sweet Cherries ($2.99/lb. organic)
$1.19/lb. Seedless Grapes ($1.99/lb. organic)
$.99/lb. Red or Green Romaine Lettuce
$1.50 Blueberries, pint
$.88/lb. Yellow or Green Zucchini
$2.49 Red Potatoes (3 lb. bag)
$3.49 Galbani Mozzarella Fresca 7-8 oz.
$3.49 Meijer Chunk Cheese 12-16 oz.
$4.99 Bulk Almonds (1 lb. bag)
$6.99 Bulk Cashews (1 lb. bag)
$8.99 Bulk Pecans (1 lb. bag)
$1.49 Meijer Long Grain Brown Rice, 16 oz.
$2.79 Land O' Lakes Butter, 1 lb. sticks

Unadvertised Temporary Price Drops
$7.49 Maple Grove Farms Pure Maple Syrup, 12.5 oz.
$3.99 Log Cabin Natural Syrup, 22 oz.
$3.49 Meijer Organic Honey (in a 12 oz. bear)
$3.00 Tostitos or Lays Simply Natural (near the rice cakes & healthier chips)
$2.79 Meijer Organic Honey Graham Bears or Cinnamon Graham Sticks--CLEARANCE PRICE
$2.79 Fig Newman's Cookies--CLEARANCE PRICE
$1.60 Newman's Own Chocolate Sandwich Cookies--CLEARANCE PRICE
$2.99 Meijer Naturals Quick Oats, 42 oz.
$2.49 Meijer Organics Salad Dressing, 12 oz.
$1.09 Meijer Organics Canned Beans
$2.79 Meijer Naturals PB, 16 oz.
$2.99 Jif Natural, 18 oz.
$2.79 Meijer Organics Fruit Spreads, 12 oz.
$2.00 Meijer Naturals Cheese Puffs, Cheese Curls or Popcorn (in "healthy chips" & gluten-free aisle)
$2.50 Sargento Natural Cheese Slices
$2.99 Kraft String Cheese, 12 ct. ($3 off $10 Crayola coupon inside!)
$2.69 Breakstone's Cottage Cheese, 24 oz.

DON'T MISS THESE GREAT MEIJER COUPON MATCH-UPS!
$1 Chobani Greek Yogurt (rBST free and YUMMO!)
-$.30 printable coupon HERE (can print 3 times!) *Reminder that Meijer will only double TWO like coupons per transaction--so split them up!!!
$.40 each when you buy 2 in one transaction

$1.00 Earthbound Farm Baby-Cut Carrots
-$.75/1 EF coupon HERE (will double to $1 here in OH!)
Get 2 FREE with printable coupons!

$2.50 Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips
-$1.00 off coupon HERE
$1.50 after coupon

$4.99 Applegate Organic, Grass-fed Beef Hotdogs (no yucky stuff!)
-$1 Applegate coupon on their Facebook page
$3.99 after coupon (that's at least 40% off!)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ALDI (Don't forget that Walmart and Target will price match!!)

None this week (no weekly ad in our paper or on their website)

 

*When you shop at Aldi, remember your quarter to unlock the carts (refund given when returned) and your reusable shopping bags!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PRINTABLE COUPONS
New coupons added each week and highlighted!
$1 off McCann's Irish Oatmeal
$.65 off Florida Crystals Sugar
$1 off Applegate Farms Organic Hot Dogs (Facebook offer)
$.55 off Stonyfield Kids Organic Greek Yogurt ($1.10 off when you "like" them on Facebook)
Lots of great printables HERE for Stonyfield Farms yogurt & dairy products ($.50 off 1 qt, $.50 off YoBaby, $.50 off YoKids Squeezers)
$1 off Kiss My Face Deodorant (Facebook offer)
$.75 off any Earthbound Farms product (says "good on any" when printed)
$1 off one DeLallo Whole Wheat Pasta and $1 off one EVOO (Our Kroger carries this brand with the international food.)
$.75 off any Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Bar
Several Simply Organic spice, seasoning and extract coupons HERE (These are PDF coupons with unlimited prints!)
$1 off one Late July Organic Multigrain Chips (Facebook coupon)
$.75 off one Uncle Matt's Organic Juice (our Kroger sells this in the produce dept.)
Several Chobani printable coupons, including $.30 off one single serve HERE
$.75 off one Traditional Medicinals Herbal Tea (they make the Mother's Milk tea, among others)
$1/2 Happy Family products--HappyTot Plus pouches, HappyTimes, snacks, Toddler Meal Bowls (These can be found at most Target Stores in the baby food section)
$1 off Food Should Taste Good product
$1 off Van's Food (Facebook coupon)
$1.50/1 Better Than Bouillon product
Get up to $1.35/2 Gardein products (when you "like" them on FB)

Click HERE for the coupons listed below!
$1 off two Breyer's Ice Cream (1.5 qt.)
$.50 off Newman's Own Salad Dressing
$1 off one Seeds of Change organic product
$.65 off Domino Organic Agave Nectar
$.55 off Florida Crystals Sugar

Have you spotted any other good deals I should this post? Is there a store you frequently shop at that could be added to this list? I love to hear from you--please leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please DO NOT post these deals on your own blog or website without first getting my permission and then linking back to my site. Reach me via e-mail at these_precious_days@yahoo.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ThesePreciousDays.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Get Organized with These Stylish & FREE Printable Calendars!

Free printable calendar

As the weeks of summer fly by, I am becoming more and more aware that the beginning of the school year is looming closer. My husband and I have made the decision to homeschool our 5 year old for kindergarten this year and I have been looking for some really cute calendars to use in our daily "calendar time". 
ABP
Anything But Perfect
I happened to be browsing some of my previous pin boards on Pinterest last week and stumbled upon a link for these super cute printable calendars at Anything But Perfect. Like many of my pins, I never actually clicked on the link to go directly to the original site....I just pinned it as a reference for "later". Well, I think this qualifies as "later"! Ha ha!
Free Printables from ABP
Click HERE for cute printables!
Anything But Perfect has generously offered these free printable 2012 monthly calendars, with the most clever and fun graphics. They have great kid-friendly designs. Oh let's be honest, grown-ups can like watermelons with smiley faces and Christmas robots, too. Can't they? The rest of the months for 2012 are available and the 2013 calendars should be ready later this summer. Hang these on the fridge for school activities and/or sports practices. Use them to write appointments or other obligations. They'd make some pretty adorable monthly menus, too.
Free Printable Calendar
Speaking of menus, check out these cool monthly meal planners while you're there! Don't let the "monthly" part freak you out. You could just as easily do a week at a time, but seeing the past weeks' menus would help you avoid repetition. She also has some pretty cute to-do lists and other fun printables. I already feel more organized and I haven't even printed mine out yet! 
Summer FriendsOrganization is motivationFree printable

Meal Plan Monday ~ July 16-22



Here is what's on the menu at our house this week. Items in BLUE are recipe links. Meals for Monday and Tuesday are gluten-free.

Monday (GF)
Teriyaki Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Quinoa
Mandarin Oranges


Tuesday (GF)
Taco Salad
Raspberry & Mango Smoothies (with Spinach...shhh!!)


Wednesday ~ Father/Son Dayton Dragons Baseball Game 
Applegate Organic Beef Hot Dogs on Homemade Wheat Buns
Kettle Chips
Raw Veggies with Ranch Dip
Frozen Grape Kabobs
Frozen Grape kabobs!



Thursday
Chicken Parmesan 
Whole Wheat Penne and Marinara Sauce with Hidden Veggies
Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette 
Strawberries & Homemade Chocolate Whipped Cream


Friday
Grilled Organic Grassfed Cheeseburgers on Homemade Wheat Buns
Sweet Potato Fries
Grilled Zucchini
Watermelon


(Breakast) Saturday 
Whole Wheat Waffles with Blueberries
Nitrate-Free Bacon


Sunday
Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff 
Farmers' Market Green Beans
Peach Crisp with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

What's on the menu at your house this week? What is your family's favorite summer meal? 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

FREE Kids' Haircuts at JCP in August!


JCPenny is offering FREE kids' haircuts to any child (K-6th) during the month of August! Make sure you call your nearest JCP Salon (soon!) to confirm their participation and reserve your appointment. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are recommended. There may be a limited number of appointments available (according to the photo above), so don't wait! Between new clothes, supplies, backpacks, etc. there are a lot of "back to school" expenses. This would definitely help save families some money. Please don't forget to tip generously if you receive good service! Thanks JCPenny and I Am That Lady.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fresh Food Deals: Eat Healthy & Save Money!


The following grocery deals are for the Dayton, OH and surrounding areas. If you spot a great deal on fresh/natural/organic foods and/or find a new printable coupon, be sure to let me know so I can spread the word. This is a weekly feature that will be posted on Mondays whenever possible. Some prices are weekly advertised prices and others are unadvertised sales with varying end dates.

KROGER
Weekly Advertised Deals
$1.99/lb. Northwest Cherries
$2 Driscoll's Blackberries or Raspberries, 6 oz.
$2 Driscoll's Blueberries, pint
Sign up for Driscoll's e-mails to receive coupons!
4/$1 Sweet Corn (may be GMO-avoid by buying organic)
$1.50 Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Peppers
$.39/lb. Seedless Watermelon, halves or quarters
$2 Strawberries, 16 oz.
$.99/lb. Peaches
$1.50 Private Selection Mini-Peeled Carrots, 16 oz.
$3.99 Clementines, 3 lb. bag
$3.00 Lifeway Kefir (probiotic beverage)
$1.00 Fage Greek Yogurt
$2.50 Simple Truth Cage-Free Eggs
$1.25 Kroger Eggs (free-range, pastured eggs would be better!)
$1.79 Kroger Chunk Cheese, 8 oz.
$1.99 Kroger Butter Quarters, 1 lb.(organic butter is best!)
$2.50 Athenos Feta Cheese
$2.09 Daisy Sour Cream or Cottage Cheese, 16 oz. (rBST free!)
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products
$2.99 Silk PureAlmond or PureCoconut, half gallon
Save $.50 when you buy 10 participating products


Unadvertised Temporary Price Drops
$3.00 Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruitabu fruit leather strips, 6 ct. (New, larger sized bars!)
$1.25 VitaCoco Coconut Water 
$2.79 Tom's of Maine toothpaste, all varieties (reg. $3.99)
There were newspaper insert coupons for Tom's products a few weeks ago!
$2.50 Cascadian Farm Spud Puppies tator tots (frozen case in Natural Foods section)
-$.75 off store coupon can be downloaded to your Plus card at www.cellfire.com--see below!
$3.19 Private Selection Organic Frozen Fruit
$3.69 Bear Naked Granola
$3.79 Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Hand Soap, 12.5 oz. 
-$1/2 coupons found around the necks of bottles in our local store! 
$3.00 Garden of Eatin' Tortilla Chips
$2.50 Kettle Brand Potato Chips
$2.50 Annie's Naturals Salad Dressing
$1.67 Annie's Organic Mac-n-Cheese
$3.19 Yoga Organic Brown or White Rice, 2 lb. 
$6.19 Private Selection Pure Maple Syrup, 12 oz.
$2.39 DeLallo Organic Pasta (in International aisle), most varieties
-$1.00 printable at http://www.delallo.com/coupons-and-promotions
$1.67 Private Selection Whole Wheat or Regular Organic Pasta, 16 oz.
$2.39 Kroger Organic Sugar, 24 oz.
$4.19 Florida Crystals Sugar
2 printable coupons listed below
$3.00 Muir Glen Organic Salsa
-$1.00 off 2 peelie coupon on select jars
$3.19 Daisy  Cottage Cheese, 24 oz. (rBST free!!)
$3.59 Private Selection Wedge Parmesan Cheese


DOWNLOAD THESE GREAT COUPONS TO YOUR PLUS CARD AND SAVE $$ INSTANTLY!
Click HERE to sign-up or sign-in and these coupons will come off automatically at the register.
$1 off one R.W. Knudsen Organic Juice, 32 oz.
BOGO Sweet Leaf Tea (save $1.99)
$2/2 Good Belly Probiotic Juice
$.50 off one Breyer's product (look for ice cream with 5 ingredients or less!)
$.75 off three Larabars
$1 off one FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash
$2 off one President Feta Cheese
$1 off one Method product, select varieties 
Click HERE to sign-up or sign-in and these coupons will come off automatically at the register. You need a cell phone to sign-up, but can opt to not receive any messages from them. These coupons go onto your shopper card, not your phone!
$.75 off one Cascadian Farm product
$.75 off three Larabars
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MEIJER
Weekly Advertised Deals
$1.67 Dole Salad Blends, 6-12 oz. assorted varieties
$1.50 Strawberries, 16 oz. (Organic $2.50)
$1.50 Blueberries, pint
$.99 Peaches, Plums, Nectarines (Organic $1.99/lb.)
$2.99/lb. Washington Ranier Cherries
$1.99/lb. Washington Sweet Cherries (Organic $3.49/lb.)
3/$1 Cucumbers
6/$2 Sweet Corn (may be GMO--avoid by buying organic)
3/$1 Green Onions
$.88/lb. Zucchini or Yellow squash
$.33/lb. Cabbage
$3/2 Radishes
1.67 Yoplait Simply Go-Gurt
$6.49/lb. Walnuts or Pistachios (produce dept.) 1 lb. bags
$1.33 Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetables
B2G1F Kraft Chunk Cheese, 8 oz.
$2.99 Meijer String Cheese, 10-12 oz.
$1.00 Meijer Naturals Salsa, 16 oz.
$1.49 Meijer Organics Ketchup, 20 oz. (Save $.70!)
$1.00 StarKist Chunk White Albacore Tuna
$1.88 Dannon Pure Yogurt, 4 pk.
$3.00 Hormel Natural Choice Lunchmeat, 7-9 oz.
$3.50 Welch's Frozen Fruit, 12-16 oz.


Unadvertised Temporary Price Drops
$1.69 Hodgson Mills Steel Cut Oats, 18 oz. 
$3.59-$3.79 Barbara's Bakery Cereal
$3.50 Back to Nature Granola
$2.50 Nature's Pride Bread (no HFCS!)
$3.99 Log Cabin Natural Syrup, 22 oz.
$3.49 Meijer Organic Honey (in a 12 oz. bear)
$4.39 Maranatha Almond Butter, 12 oz.
$2.99 Jif Natural, 18 oz.
$3.00 Tostitos or Lays Simply Natural (near the rice cakes & healthier chips)
$2.79 Meijer Organic Honey Graham Bears or Cinnamon Graham Sticks--CLEARANCE PRICE
$2.79 Fig Newman's Cookies--CLEARANCE PRICE
$1.60 Newman's Own Chocolate Sandwich Cookies--CLEARANCE PRICE
$2.69 Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Muffin Mix
$5.49 King Arthur Gluten-Free Muffin Mix, Bread Mix & All-Purpose Baking Mix
$1.79 Meijer Organics Spaghetti Sauce
$2.51 Meijer Organics Beef, Chicken or Veg Broth, 32 oz.
$2.42 Meijer Naturals Beef, Chicken or Veg. Broth, 32 oz.
$1.79 Meijer Naturals diced tomatoes, 28 oz. can
$1.99 Meijer Organics diced tomatoes, 28 oz. can

DON'T MISS THESE GREAT MEIJER COUPON MATCH-UPS!
$2.50 Stonyfield YoBaby or YoToddler yogurt, 4 pk
-$.50/1 coupon at www.stonyfield.com (Look for "Coupons" in upper right corner)
-$.50 off Stonyfield mPerks coupon available HERE (If applicable on this product, it can be combined WITH manf. coupon.)
As low as $1.00 after coupon


$2.50 Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips
-$1.00 off coupon HERE

$3.99 Applegate Natural All Beef Hotdogs (no yucky stuff!)
-$1 Applegate coupon on their Facebook page

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ALDI (Don't forget that Walmart and Target will price match!!)

$1.99 Pineapple, each
$1.49 Blueberries, pint
$1.99/lb. Cherries
$1.29 Strawberries, 16 oz.
$1.99 Honeydew
$.25/ea. Peaches, Plums or Nectarines
$3.99 Pure Canadian Maple Syrup, 8 oz. (reg. price)


*When you shop at Aldi, remember your quarter to unlock the carts (refund given when returned) and your reusable shopping bags!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PRINTABLE COUPONS  
New coupons added each week and highlighted!
$1 off McCann's Irish Oatmeal
$.65 off Florida Crystals Sugar
$1 off Applegate Farms Organic Hot Dogs (Facebook offer)
$.55 off Stonyfield Kids Organic Greek Yogurt ($1.10 off when you "like" them on Facebook)
Lots of great printables HERE for Stonyfield Farms yogurt & dairy products ($.50 off 1 qt, $.50 off YoBaby, $.50 off YoKids Squeezers)
$1 off Kiss My Face Deodorant (Facebook offer)
$.75 off any Earthbound Farms product (says "good on any" when printed)
$1 off one DeLallo Whole Wheat Pasta and $1 off one EVOO (Our Kroger carries this brand with the international food.)
$.75 off any Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Bar
Several Simply Organic spice, seasoning and extract coupons HERE (These are PDF coupons with unlimited prints!)
$1 off one Late July Organic Multigrain Chips (Facebook coupon)
$.75 off one Uncle Matt's Organic Juice (our Kroger sells this in the produce dept.)
Several Chobani printable coupons, including $.30 off one single serve HERE
$.75 off one Traditional Medicinals Herbal Tea (they make the Mother's Milk tea, among others)
$1 off one WOODSTOCK Organic or Natural Nut Butter
$1/2 Happy Family products--HappyTot Plus pouches, HappyTimes,snacks, Toddler Meal Bowls (These can be found at most Target Stores in the baby food section)
$1 off Food Should Taste Good product
$1 off Van's Food (Facebook coupon)
$1.50/1 Better Than Bouillon product
Get up to $1.35/2 Gardein products (when you "like" them on FB)


Click HERE for the coupons listed below!
$1 off two Breyer's Ice Cream (1.5 qt.)
$.50 off Newman's Own Salad Dressing
$1 off one Seeds of Change organic product
$.65 off Domino Organic Agave Nectar
$.55 off Florida Crystals Sugar

I'd love some feedback on this new post. Is it user friendly? Do you shop at other stores that I could add in the future? Are you pleasantly surprised with the number of printable coupons listed?

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.  Please DO NOT post these deals on your own blog or website without first getting my permission and then linking back to my site. Reach me via e-mail at these_precious_days@yahoo.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ThesePreciousDays.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Meal Plan Monday ~ July 9-15




Here is what's on the menu at our house this week. I'm helping with our church's vacation bible school in the evenings, M-Th, so we're eating some pretty "no-fuss" meals (and MUCH earlier than usual!). Items in BLUE are recipe links. Meals for Monday, Tuesday and Sunday are gluten-free.


Monday
Stuffed Peppers ~ Farmers' Market Peppers w/Turkey Sausage, Tomatoes, Quinoa & Cheese
Mango Pineapple Strawberry Smoothies

Tuesday
(Crockpot) Taco Soup 
Honey Lime Fruit Salad


Wednesday
(Crockpot) Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Cascadian Farms Spud Puppies--i.e. Tator Tots :)
Fresh Farmers' Market Green Beans
Peaches-n-Cream Popsicles  RECIPE COMING SOON! 


Thursday
Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas
Raw Veggies with Avocado Ranch Dip
Homemade Cinnamon Tortilla Crisps with Fruit Salsa (leftover fruit from Tuesday) RECIPE COMING SOON!   


Friday
Pizza Calzones 
Mixed Green Salad 
No-Guilt (GF) Chocolate Chip Cookie and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

(Breakast) Saturday 
Turkey Sausage Gravy and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Yogurt and Mixed Berries
Sunday 

Organic Grassfed Steaks on the Grill
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Slaw
Farmers Market Corn on the Cob



What's on the menu at your house this week? What is your family's favorite summer meal? 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making Math Fun ~ The Parking Lot Game


Parking Lot Game
Age range: 3 years--2nd grade
Learning objectives: shape recognition, number sense, reading numerals, basic math facts, sight word recognition, alphabet recognition
Prep time: 10-15 min.
Activity time: Totally flexible! Play for 5 minutes or an hour...it's up to you!
Supplies needed: computer paper or poster board, tape, sticky notes (optional), marker, ruler, cars or ponies (the parking spots could be "stalls")

Making the Game Board
You could make your parking lot on a sheet of poster board (which we didn't have at the time) or tape four sheets of computer paper together down the seams and flip the papers over to draw your parking spaces.

On a hard surface, like a table, use a ruler and a marker to mark off parking spaces every couple inches (I didn't really measure this part--I'm guessing about 2.5 inches is what I used per space). I also wrote the words "Parking Lot" in the middle. Cut your sticky notes in half if they are bigger ones (so that each piece has a sticky place on it) and place one on each square. This way the skill you want to work on can be replaced with a new skill and you can use the same board each time. 

Some ideas of what to write on the squares: 
pictures (or clip art) of shapes (2D--square, circle, triangle, etc. 3D-sphere, cone, cube)
numerals (I did a variety between 1-100, but you could do larger ones like 425,000 if you want!)
numbers in written form (twelve, thirty-five, six)
equations (think "3+5" or "10-4")
letters/sounds
sight words
states or capitals
Let your imagination run wild!

How to Play the Game
Call out the answers or words that go along with the sticky notes on your board and have your child race his/her car (my son needed 3 cars! Ha ha!) to the appropriate parking space. For example, if you were working on numerals you would say, "Mater...go to number 65!" or "Lightning McQueen....park on number 99!" or "Orange car...race over to 42!" The child would have to scan the board and find the right spot to park their car. Or have ponies ride into their stalls! To make this game easier, do not fill each spot with a sticky note OR tell your child all of the answers will be on the top row (bottom row, sides, etc.). 

My son decided this game would be more fun if we switched roles and I let him tell ME where to park the cars. This is such a great idea, because it lets the child have the opportunity to practice reading the parking spots instead of just looking for them. It also gives him/her a power trip, telling you what to do! (Sometimes I would mess up on purpose and let him tell me I was wrong because it showed that he knew the correct answer!) This is an excellent game for dads to play with the kiddos, too.

How to Store the Game
A game board made of paperfits perfectly into a file folder, when folded into fourths. You could also roll it and store in a mailing tube or wrapping paper tube. A poster board game could be stored under the couch, in a closet, behind a hutch or between the fridge and a wall/cabinet.


I hope your kiddos enjoy this game as much as my son does! I'd love to hear your feedback or other ideas you have for using this game board.