February 28, 2011


Posted by Lori and Ethne~
A trip to Big City, Minnesota = IKEA!  That’s right…I can’t head to the cities without hitting that marvelous store!  Unfortunately, Ethne had to work, Steve had a conference, but that didn’t stop Mur-Man and I from checking it out!
A quick scan of the store found lots of inspiration for home decorations, craft projects, and future home remodeling projects.
Here’s a quick trip down IKEA memory lane:
Check out these awesome bubble shelf brackets.   Complete with primary red, bold bubbles, and the great price tag of $5.00 for a set of two.  These brackets would look great in a kid’s room! 
This screams superhero to me!  I know--I am obsessed!

I highly recommend a magnetic strip for knife storage (especially in a kitchen where storage is tight).  I already have one, but with the price tag of $14.99 it’s a steal.

GREAT for storage!

Check out these magnetic spice holders and don’t forget how we used them to hold a set of Mighty Magnets!

And the glass etching projects are endless.  Shot glass, glass sets, and so much more: affordable and a fabulous gift idea.  ONLY $1.49 for a set of six glasses!

shot glass size...

or glass size!

And these vertical hanging clear frames would make a great mobile for a baby room.  You can hang a set of three over a crib or changing table for an affordable and creative baby mobile.  Not only that, but it could grow with the child and someday display their artwork.  ONLY $6.99 for one. 

Fill with photos, flash cards, art work, and so much more!
New moms and dads—trust me, if you are tight on storage, you don’t need a baby bath tub!  I have found that a rubber bath mat will do the trick.  And I can’t believe it…IKEA has creative rubber mats in stock.  Check out this adorable crocodile!  ONLY $5.99!

Adorable, affordable, and your baby won't slide!

WOW—I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!  IKEA sells children’s wooden hangers for ONLY $2.99 for a pack of five.  And did you know a set of decorative wood hangers=the perfect baby shower gift!  At that price—you can’t resist!  Read on for instructions. 

A sea of craftiness!
And let's not forget the IKEA snack bar—Mur-man couldn’t resist!  His first trip to IKEA …he was exhausted!

Mur-man says even IKEA snacks are FAB! 

I didn't walk away without a furniture purchase.  I went home with two BILLIE shelves with glass doors as well as two shelving units for our closets (get ready for the future post:  crash my craft room!  IT'S FABULOUS!)  Here's a sneak peak at Mur-man and Steve hard at work. 

My men hard at work!
The following steps highlight how to make decorative wooden children's hangers.  The idea of this craft and the basic steps came from the book, "Crafty Mama", by Abby Pecoriello.  I did make a few changes to work with the supplies I currently had at home.

Supplies needed:
Scrapbooking paper
Wooden children's hangers
Craft spray glue
Craft glue
Sponge Brush
Bling (mini toys, rhinestones, buttons, stickers, etc.)

Hanger supplies:  simple and mostly around the house!
1.  Trace and cut scrapbooking paper to fit the hanger--keep in mind you will need to cut two (one for each side).

Trace and cut...make sure there is NO EXCESS PAPER ALONG THE EDGES.
2.  Using crafting glue spray adhesive attach the paper to the hanger--smoothing out all bumps (let each side dry for 15 minutes).

Protect the table...this glue goes EVERYWHERE!
3.  Using a sponge brush and decoupage medium (or an equal mixture of craft glue and water), put a thin layer of medium over both sides of the hanger, drying for 15 minutes between sides.  (I also found superhero decals for Mur-Man's set and utilzing the medium--decoupaged the decal to the hanger).

4.  Using a hot glue gun decorate your hanger...use mini toys, name plates, rhinestones, buttons, ribbon.  The possibilities are endless.

Mur-Man's super hangers for his SUPER ROOM!

A set to gift (before the BLING!)

Total cost:  $2.99 for the set of five hangers and all other supplies were free (found in my craft room!). The superhero scrapbooking paper was purchased through Oriental Trading and was leftover from Mur-Man's birthday party.
BABY SHOWER TIP:  In addition--according to "Crafty Mama", use this idea for a baby shower.  Provide wooden hangers and supplies for the guests--have each guest decorate a wooden hanger for the new mom.  The new mom will go home with a large supply of decorative, personalized hangers for her child.
THRIFTY/MOM TIP:  There are lots of other products that Ethne and I adore for our kids and guess what else—they cost little to nothing: 
Kid’s cups, bowls, plates, and silverware are FABULOUS and super affordable.  Trust us--they come mom tested and mom approved.  Both Ethne and I have a set.  (My set came from Thrifty Nana (Ethne's Mom)). 
And the IKEA potty chair is GREAT—it doesn’t come with all those bells and whistles which mean fewer areas to collect germs!  Don't feel the need to spend a fortune...truly they are the way to go!


Posted by Ethne~

Well friends, it is time for instruction on one of the best things I’ve ever made – homemade cinnamon rolls!  (And I’ve made some darn good things.)

We four in my family love a good cinnamon roll on a Sunday morning, and I have always loved the cans of cinnamon and orange rolls from the refrigerated section at the grocery store.  Recently, however, I forgot to pick up a can in time for a weekend breakfast (and I am not going to run to the grocery store at 7 a.m. on a Sunday to get one).  I decided this was no reason to miss out on Sunday morning cinnamon rolls.  Seriously, true story.

So, I pulled out my trusty and classic recipe book – the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  True to form, a recipe for cinnamon rolls, in its bread section, was there for my baking pleasure.  And as I discovered – a delightfully THRIFTY alternative to the store-bought version.

Think Pink!

Unfortunately, the recipe called for making your own bread for the rolls and I do not really like the long process of mixing, kneading, letting rise, punching down, letting re-rise, etc., a batch of dough.  No thanks.  [As an aside, there IS something fabulously satisfying about kneading and punching down a batch of dough.  Put it on your bucket list.]

I set my mind a-thinkin’ and before long, I remembered that I can make dough in my $1.50 breadmaker!  I didn’t follow the Betty Crocker cinnamon roll dough recipe, but decided to try the Betty Crocker buttermilk bread recipe we gave you here.  Turns out that was fine.  All I had to do was throw the bread ingredients into the bread pan, same as always, hit the ‘dough’ button, and wait an hour-and-a-half for the dough to be mixed, kneaded, let rise, punched down and let re-rise, all without me lifting a finger.

When the buttermilk bread dough was finished in my machine, I followed the Betty Crocker cinnamon roll recipe:

STEP ONE:  Cut the dough ball in half.  Put one half aside, sprinkle the piece you’re working with, and your kneading surface, with a bit of flour, and knead until it does not stick to your hands.  A couple of kneads are all that’s necessary.

STEP TWO:  Grab your rolling pin and begin to roll the dough into a rectangle.  Don’t worry if the dough seems like it keeps shrinking back into a ball and is being completely uncooperative.  Keep rolling it and it WILL start to roll into a rectangle, around 12” by 16”.  The dough will probably be about ¼” thick.  A little less is ok, just not so thin that it wants to tear holes.

Action shot - dough rectangle

STEP THREE:  Mix 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ¾ cup packed brown sugar and ¼ cup flour together with a spoon or fork.  Cut in 1/3 cup of a stick of refrigerator temperature butter until the cinnamon-butter mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  (‘Cut in’ means mix butter with the cinnamon mixture with two knives in a scissor motion or with a pastry blender.  A pastry blender is easier, but not necessary.)

STEP FOUR:  Sprinkle the entire surface of the dough rectangle with ½ of the cinnamon-butter mixture, leaving ¼ inch of one long rectangle end cinnamon-mix free.

Let's get ready to crumble! (high school cheer - kinda)

STEP FIVE:  Roll the top of the mix-covered long end of the rectangle toward you, forming a log.  You will be able to envision the circular layers of what a cinnamon roll looks like as you do this.  When you’ve rolled up to the mix-free end, stop rolling.  Starting at one end of the log, gently lift the mix-free end up a little at a time (the log will remain resting on the countertop) and press onto the log so that it seals and sticks the seam into the log.

I mean, look at it!

STEP SIX:  Spray (Misto!) a 9 x 13” (or whatever large baking dish you have; a couple of pie plates would work if you’re feeling sassy) baking dish with cooking spray.  Cut 1.5” long segments of the log and lay flat (ie. cinnamon roll-looking) into the pan, about 1” apart.  Some of the cinnamon-butter mixture will crumble out, but just avoid that as much as you can and be gentle.  When the log is cut, gather the mix that crumbled out and sprinkle over the rolls in the pan.


STEP SEVEN:  Repeat with second half of dough and second half of the cinnamon-butter mixture.

STEP EIGHT:  Leave the un-baked rolls out on the countertop for a couple of hours so the dough can rise a little bit.  You will see the rolls get a little bigger.  Don’t worry about the butter in the mixture – butter doesn’t go bad like other dairy products (in fact, Shaun and I leave a stick of butter in a covered butter dish out on our counter top at all times so it is easy to access and easy to spread whenever we want it).

DISCLAIMER – If you have any concerns about the safety of room temperature butter like I’ve described, feel free to put the rolls in the refrigerator at the end of Step 7.  They will cook fine, just not as big.

STEP NINE:  Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes until your kitchen smells like cinnamon heaven and the rolls are golden brown.

STEP TEN:  While the rolls bake, whisk 2 tablespoons of milk with 1-1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of light corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  I know, you will think ‘how in the heck will it all stir together with that little liquid?’  I did too, the first time I made this icing.  Much to my amazement, it turned into a creamy, drizzly icing dream.  (If you think it necessary to get the mix smooth, you can add a drop or two more of milk.)  When you pull the rolls out of the oven, drizzle with the icing until all the icing is used up.

STEP ELEVEN:  Enjoy!  And by enjoy, I really mean gobble down this cinnamon-y, gooey bit of heaven until either you pass out or the pan is empty.

So good, I forgot to take a pic when I took them out of the oven.

PREPARATION NOTE:  These rolls are obviously going to be prepared the day before you want to eat them for breakfast, or at least several hours before you want to eat them.  I am not a person who wants to get up at 5 a.m. on a weekend morning, so these are prepared a day ahead, pulled from the fridge in the morning, and baked at my leisure.  The rolls can be put right into the oven from the fridge.

USAGE NOTE:  For my family of four, one pan (or half of the rolls) are MORE than enough to feed us for breakfast.  At the same time I take the pan of rolls for baking out of the fridge, I take the other pan out of the fridge and freeze in individual rolls (wrap each in wax paper or plastic wrap so they don’t stick together) for use another time.  If you have a larger family or are cooking for guests, there will be PLENTY to feed everyone – about 20 rolls.

THRIFTY NOTE:  You already have all or most of these ingredients in your cupboard anyway.  This recipe calls for relatively small amounts of each ingredient, so the overall cost of a batch of 20 cinnamon rolls (which in my family is two meals) is less than $1.00.

Friends, I INSIST that you try making these.  You will enjoy them, obviously.  They take a little time, but they aren’t hard.  Even better, you will feel so smart and proud of yourself for having made homemade cinnamon rolls that you’ll feel like you deserve a medal for awesomeness.

PS - I had a chance to make these when Lori and Steve were here for WOM weekend.  They were super yummy, once again, and Lori couldn't believe how easy they are to make!  Superb!

PPS - As you have now had an opportunity to read Mission: Quantum Leap, you will draw the conclusion that homemade cinnamon rolls are no longer on the menu for these WOMS.  We laughed so hard when we realized the order of this post following Quantum Leap - 'we're changing our lifestyle and eating habits and guess what? we make kick-a** cinnamon rolls.'

February 27, 2011


Posted by Lori~
Look at this!

I'm in the middle--Ethne's to my right.  Circa 1995
Now…look at this!

60 pounds later...

I can’t believe it myself.  Yes…that’s me sometime 1996 and that’s me NOW!  My mission:  to turn back time (TO MAKE A QUANTUM LEAP BACK TO 1996)! My mission:  to get healthy, to get fit, and to somehow get my 1996 figure back!
My story is typical….in 1996 I was active.  As we have said many times…we were cheerleaders, we practiced, and we worked hard.  And yes, I had a FAB-U-LOUS metabolism, a metabolism that didn’t quit.  So…what happened?

Our football cheer team--prior to the metabolism giong kaput!
I went to college…I made too many Taco Bell runs…I ate everything I wanted whenever I wanted…I didn’t stay active…and I drank cocktails.  And so like many others began my journey to now.
The weight gradually went on….and it went on.  Then I had Mur-Man and it stayed on and now it is 2011 and I have gained around 60 pounds since 1996 (give or take a little)!  YUCK!  So…that’s why I am posting MISSION:  QUANTUM LEAP!  I WANT TO GET MOTIVATED!  I WANT TO SUCCEED!  I WANT TO INSPIRE MY FOLLOWERS AND I WANT MY FOLLOWERS TO MOTIVATE ME!
So here it goes…My plan is to lose gradually and to turn back this body to1996!
And guess what else…My Steve (aka Scott Bakula) is on board too!  He has a similar story and his body has had a similar journey.  We are in this together.  He has a goal of losing 60 pounds too!

Steve in his tennis photo (1995)!  He looks so young!

Steve's fraternity photo (1998)

And guess what else…my bestie Ethne is on board too!  Granted—I think she looks FAB-U-LOUS, but she feels like she could lose a little weight and get a little healthier.  She plans to lose 10 pounds and said "she needs to focus on portion control and adding exercise".  Ethne has plans to get back on the Wii Fit! She also plans to follow some South Beach diet principles for a health reference. 

Look how cute we are at GBB State, Fall 1995

Ethne's weight story is all about fluctuation.  In college she gained, then lost, 25 pounds.  In graduate school she lost down to high school weight then blew up to 40 pounds above high school weight.  She lost weight for her wedding then gained 43 pounds when pregnant with the girls.  Ethne then lost 63 pounds breastfeeding the girls and has stayed there ever since.  
Ethne now

  1. Drink more water
  2. Eat  5 servings of fruits and veggies per day (Strive to eat a colorful meal)
  3. Cut out fast food (with the exception of a few healthy options for example Subway and fresco style Taco Bell tacos).  Utilize the book, “Eat This, Not That”
  4. Get active and work out a minimum of three times per week for 60 minutes
  5. Consciously think about portion sizes when eating
  6. Eat breakfast daily
  7. Build into the week one “unhealthy” meal (aka splurge meal) to satisfy cravings
  8. Post our progress of MISSION:  QUANTUM LEAP so that our followers can follow, post, and get motivated too
  9. Every 10 pounds rewards ourselves with something (for example—Lori and Ethne will purchase a new piece of clothing and Steve will reward himself with a redeemable coupon to go to a concert of his choice (every 20 pounds))
  10. Have plenty of healthy snacks available so we don't sabotage ourselves
For extreme motivation, Ethne and I have established a Mission Success reward!  That’s right—if we hit our goals, Thanksgiving  2011 we will be somewhere warm (think BAHAMA MAMAS!) AND WE WILL BE ROCKIN’ BIKINIS!  Look out Daniel Craig (think Casino Royale ocean scene)…here comes Steve Bakula!

Steve Bakula HERE I COME!

Be on the lookout for QUANTUM LEAP UPDATES EVERY TWO WEEKS!  Ethne and I promise to be BRUTALLY HONEST!  We will tell you the good along with the bad. 


Posted by Lori~
While thrifting in little town, ND I found A GEM!  A STEAL!  SOMETHING THAT I COULDN’T PASS UP!
Check out this pair!  ONLY $2.99 per chair! 
They are worn...but SUPER COMFORTABLE!

The tufting is beautiful, the wood is FAB, and my decorator friend Reagen refers to the chair style as Grandma Chic!
So…here’s the plan.  I bought a chair and my friend Reagen bought a chair.  When little town, ND weather warms up—we have plans…BIG PLANS!
And the plan is the chairs will look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. 
Reagen’s plans include a limed oak finish on the wood, chocolate velvet fabric, and pewter nail head trim.

Reagen's Chair!
My chair will be painted shiny bright white with fabric in black, white, gray, and/or orange.  I haven’t found the fabric yet…but I will be on the lookout for the perfect fabric.  And of course the perfect deal!  I hope to complete the project for under $25.00!  YIPEE!

My Chair!
Of course…when this project is complete…there will be a future post reveal!  GET READY!
On another note…check out this photo from the weekend!  We took on a big house project that will equal BIG SAVINGS!  More on this later!

Steve is covered in a MESS!


Remember friends!  Hit the "Like" button on our Facebook page link on the right and you'll have a chance to win our latest giveaway!  Ends March 1st.

Good luck!


February 25, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

I’ve had some fun with my dress re-styles, and have had lots of ideas thanks to one of my fave blogs – New Dress A Day.  But I’m no regular clothing seamstress, so there’s no guarantee of perfection – or even a wearable item.  I told myself from the beginning, though, that if I make a mistake, I'm only out $1.00, not a whole paycheck.

This is a woeful tale of failure – inasmuch as anything that’s fun could possibly be a failure.  More like a misfire.  Flop.  Accident.  Mistake.  Miscalculation.  Botch.  [I'm an English major – we love descriptors.]

The dress at issue had some potential (Shaun disagrees).  It is something of a red and ivory houndstooth pattern, and looks like it was handsewn (I feel guilt for botching it).  I had visions of shortening this a little: professional, shorter, fitted, and pairing it with an ivory cardigan sweater, ivory tights, and cute shoes for work.  But it wasn’t to be.

BEFORE: Red dress

First, I measured the length to shorten, and miscalculated COMPLETELY.  It’s way too short.  What the heck?  A perfect lesson of measure twice, cut once my friends….


Second, I tried to fit it a little closer to my figure and my size – flop.  It makes my pear shape (I’m not complaining that I have curves, but I do wear clothes that flatter my figure) look Fruit of the Loom-ish.  Terrible.

Not gonna happen.

Now I have kept the fabric that I cut off, and I can rip out the take-ins that I performed so they could be re-done.  It’s potentially salvageable, but now I’m gun-shy (pardon the term) and my zeal for this re-style is lost.

Salvaged scraps.

That’s where you come in, Friends!  Collect your genius on my behalf and post suggestions for fixing the dress.  I still would love to wear it with cute tights and sweater to work.  Plus, you could ease my guilt for hacking the work of some unknown fine seamstress.

AFTER: sad!

If you comment, I will fix.  (And as an aside, if I ever have amnesia, I command you to show me Field of Dreams again for the first time.  LOVE. IT.)

Personally, I find the fact that I ruined this dress as entertaining as something I get right.  I hope you do too. J Plus this could be our first sequel!

February 24, 2011


Posted by Lori~
As WOMS Ethne and I are ALWAYS looking for ways to save money!  One way to SAVE BIG is to look at your electricity bill and what your home has to offer to determine how to cut costs.
Since purchasing our home, Steve and I have installed a new furnace, new water heater, and added insulation to the top floor of our home. Already, our heating bill has been cut significantly.

However—we continue to look for ways to be more efficient.  Handy G-Pa (Lori’s Dad) is always offering up home improvement advice and tips!  He encouraged Steve and I to wrap our water heater to make it more efficient.  SIMPLE SOLUTION!


According to the US Department of Energy, adding insulation to a water heater can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%. This will save you around 4%–9% in water heating costs.  If your water heater is warm to the touch, then you would benefit from added insulation. 

The installation instructions are very EASY!

Purchased at Home Depot for just over $20.00 it was a cinch to install! 
Simply cut the coat to fit.

Hold it tight (definitely a two person job) and tape.  I went over it a few times to ensure that it was tight and secure.
We don't want ANY heat to escape
Make sure the water heater electrical and heat components are not covered.  And…the instructions also recommended that you use the left-over insulation (from trimming the coat to fit) on the top of the heater.  I know it doesn’t look pretty, but guess what—it will SAVE MONEY!
Final step:  tape to ensure that it is secure.
Wrapped and warm!


February 23, 2011


Posted by Lori~

Hello WOMS!  I am thrilled to introduce a guest post from Kirsti, author of the blog Living in Lovely La La Land.  Kirsti is FAB-U-LOUS at home décor, thrift store and rummage sale shopping, and of course party planning!  Kirsti was one of my Resident Assistants my first year as a Resident Director in a freshman co-ed hall.  (Yes, Steve and I were Mom and Dad to over 200 students and it was GREAT!).  I sort of take a little credit for helping to introduce Kirsti to her now husband, and I just LOVE that she has decided to make small town, ND her home.  Check out her blog.  It is wonderful.  Now for Pinkalicious…


Hi! I’m Kirsti and though I’m not a mom, I am definitely a huge fan of saving money. And I’m thrilled to share a little bit about the Pinkalicious party I helped my sister and brother-in-law throw for my niece Elizabeth in December!

Pink has always been my sister Katie’s favorite color. Years ago, she called to tell me she had a new boyfriend. A boyfriend named Pinke. Fast forward to now: Katie is Mrs. Pinke with two little girls who love all things, you guessed it, pink. With that in mind, take a guess at the girl’s favorite book. Pinkalicious. And guess what Elizabeth decided was the perfect theme for her upcoming third birthday?  Pinkalicious.

This book is a fave

We had no clue it was such a popular theme until we googled. Here are all the Pinkalicious party details:

We made a strict budget: $150
Here’s how we spent our money:

more pink...

Oriental Trading for decorations, party games and favors, very necessary pink wigs for my sister and I to wear (you know, cause wearing pink from head to toe wasn’t complete without pink hair.) = $76.02 - $10 discount = $66.02

and more pink...

Want to know all the goods we got for a mere $66.02? Allow me to present the list:


Square magenta paper plates: already owned = Free

Did I tell you that Kirsti is a talented graphic designer too?

Invitations: Designed and printed by me on cardstock I already owned = Free

Pink tissue paper (for the tissue paper balls): already owned = Free

Food:  My sister Katie was in charge of the food so I don’t have a cost breakdown. Since it was an afternoon party with a peanut allergy guest attending, we went the pre-packaged junk food route. Safety is always sweet. Strawberry Jell-O, strawberry marshmallows, pink bubblegum candy canes, pink ring pops, pink jelly beans, rolls of bubble tape, pink crown lollipops (Oriental Trading), pink ginger ale with raspberry sherbet for punch, strawberry ice cream, and pink my little pony gummies. And, for dessert we had Pinkalicious cherry chip cupcakes and a giant pinkalicious cupcake cake. All for about $45. Sa-weet!

LOOK at these adorable Pinke girls!

Music: I love a good playlist, and so I made sure to save enough room in the budget for a custom, Elizabeth/Birthday Princess/Pinkalicious mix of hits. Some of them I already owned but ended up spending $17 on iTunes for the rest.

1. It's Your Birthday / Cinderella
2. Happy Birthday, Princess! / Ariel
3. Prologue / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
4. Pinkatastic / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
5. Just One More, You Get Just What You Get, Cupcake Dream / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
6. When Dreams Come True / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
7. When Dreams Come True Reprise, Pinkititis / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
8. Pinkititis Reprise / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
9. I Got the Pink Blues / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
10. Buzz Off / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
11. The Power of Antioxidants / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
12. Pinkalicious and Peter Ponder the Predicament / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
13. Green Food / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
14. Finale / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
15. Bows / Original Cast Recording of Pinkalicious - The Musical
16. Elizabeth / The Happy Birthday Singers
17. Elizabeth / Frank Sinatra
18. Elizabeth / Pat McGee Band
19. Elizabeth / Zoë Lewis
20. Elizabeth / Cabinet


Let’s total everything up, shall we?
$45  = food
$66.02 = Oriental Trading
$17 = music

Grand Total: $128.02

The PERFECT 3rd birthday celebration!

Mission, complete!