September 29, 2011


Posted by Lori~

My Mur-Man will be two in a few months and it is amazing the amount of toys he has accumulated.  It is out of control.  Steve and I had a plan that we would keep the main living area clutter free and his toys would stay and play in his room.  YEAH RIGHT!?

Recently…Steve and I were looking at his room and WOW—we couldn’t believe it!  Keep in mind—we feel blessed…lots of high quality toys and books.  And the best thing is that Mur-Man has four sets of grandparents.  That right—FOUR SETS!  Eight grandparents to love and to love him!

Can't find anything.  Too much in a tight space!
We do have a nice finished basement and Steve and I both thought—why not send some toys downstairs for when we are spending time in the basement TV room (it does have the larger flat screen TV).

And so..I went to town.  Dividing, sorting, and organizing by style of toy.

NOTICE:  the giant saved by the bell phone!  FUTURE POST!

Of course, while I was at it…I came across a lot of toys that Mur-Man has outgrown and that will go into storage for baby number two (someday).

So far so good…the clutter has cut down and Mur-Man gets to discover “new” toys every time we switch from the basement to his room.  PERFECTION!

My childhood toy box!  SUPER ORGANIZED!

September 28, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

Well, it’s come to my attention that there is a world wide web full of felt food ideas out there.  Wow, what fun!  This site had the mother-load of felt food links.
Pinned Image
The site above had this food pictured

KD and Easy Mac have a birthday coming up, as in this weekend. Shaun and I haven’t gotten them birthday presents (besides books, pint-size Barbies and an airplane - KD request) because I straight-up didn’t know what to get them.  They don’t need toys FOR SURE (besides aforementioned specific requests that cost $3-$8).  But, I thought they might like some play food to use with their stove and cooking utensils.  I thought of this Monday.

KD & Easy Mac with Grandpa Paul last
year - 3rd birthday was all PRINCESS!

So it will be a race to the finish to see if I can make the girls some felt food in time for their birthday.  I’m cutting it close because we have our first two celebrations this Saturday and Sunday, and then another the Saturday after that.  Holy cow!

And I’m also making the cake and decorations for the parties too. 

How does a girl squeeze it all in?

One: I wrangle in my new sister-in-law Mel – she’s going to bring some food over for our birthday dinner to go along with the lasagna I’m making (her hubby Rich is running in the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, which I’d say makes him insane because Ethne + Exercise = Not Gonna Happen).  [In a stroke of brilliance, I decided to serve ice cream cones for dessert – no prep!]  My goal: make felt lasagna for the girls’ gift to go along with our dinner.

Rich, Mel and me

Two: I wrangle Mel into helping me frost the giant cupcake birthday cake for the girls’ party on Sunday, which will be with Shaun’s family. Naturally I think that a felt birthday cake should go along with the real cupcake birthday cake.  My goal: fake and real birthday cakes.  I’d also like to see if I could whip up another ‘meal’ of felt food, but we’ll see.  Birthday cake/cupcakes might be all I can squeeze in.
Pinned Image
Check this site for this cake

Three: My best go-to relief pitcher of all – BFF Lori!  Lori’s planning on making a felt meal for the girls for their gift from Aunt Lori, Uncle Steve and Mur-Man.  They’ll be coming next week so it’ll be in time for the party on the 8th.

Lori, Steve and Mur-Man came to Whit & Bryan's
wedding in Iowa last year.

Four: My Mom and sis Whit will be helping with lots of the food and cake stuff for the party on the 8th with my family (coinciding with Whit’s Master’s graduation), so I’m sure with that help, I can squeeze in some more felt food – perhaps a farmer’s basket of fruits and veggies or a ‘can’ of chicken noodle soup.

Maybe we should have s'mores instead of cake Whit?

After this, I definitely plan on making some more felt holiday ‘meals’ as the holidays approach.  The girls would totally love to play along and cook as they cook with me.  At least in my mind they will.  Their pretend play has gotten more detail-oriented lately, so real-looking play food should be right up their alley.
O.M.G. - one of our fave blogs: Smashed Peas & Carrots
made this beauty

Gotta love Pinterest!  Do you follow our boards yet?  Get on it!

September 27, 2011


Posted by Lori~

You got to fight..for the negotiate.  That’s right WOMS!  Ethne and I strongly believe in the fact that the price isn’t always the price.

Remember my patio umbrella.  That’s right…a simple negotiation (pointing out a flaw in the umbrella pole) and I was able to get the umbrella for $30.00 (and not the original $90.00.

Or recently…Ethne went shopping at Target—WE LOVE TARGET!  And was able to talk her way down to a 10% off savings because their was a slight flaw in the sweater.  Perfect for Ethne and a perfect price.

And you may have noticed in several of my wom-mom posts that I had a dining room table with a HORRIBLE top.  That’s right—since day one of purchasing it…we have had trouble.  The veneer has been peeling away with scratch and imperfection after imperfection.  Luckily we had purchased a furniture warranty, but of course were told that the accumulative damage was not covered.  And so, no new table for us!

UN-EXCEPTABLE!  I made the call, I begged, I pleaded, I argued…and finally I had a manager on the phone that took my complaint seriously.  Guess what—new table.  No cost to us. 

We did end up purchasing a piece of glass for the top.  This peeling veneer will not be our problem.  And I am currently negotiating with the glass delivery company for a refund (I won’t get into the details), but trust me—YOU GOT FIGHT!  FOR THE RIGHT!  TO NEGOTIATE!

Decision DONE!

TUESDAY AT NOON: Ethne on...missing diamonds!

Posted by Ethne~

I’m so mad at myself.

Sometime, somehow, I lost my diamond stud earrings from Shaun.  They were the first gift he ever gave me (my birthday in 2001) right after we started dating.  Obviously they have sentimental value.

I think they got lost in our couch.  I’m going to have to cut open the under lining to see.  Otherwise they could’ve been vacuumed up in which case bye-bye forever.  I possibly just misplaced them, but I’ve checked all the likely spots and NOTHING.

I love my Shaun!

They will obviously need to be replaced (this is a need, not a want Friends) but they won’t be the EXACT SAME 3.3 billion-year-old carbon allotrope crystals Shaun gave me ten years ago.  I remember opening that box like it was yesterday.

Alas, we’ll see what Christmas brings.  Or maybe I’ll rent a metal detector.  Have any of you lost something sentimental?  Did you find it?  Where else should I look?



Posted by Ethne~

Shaun and I have our condo on the market for sale, so we need it showing-ready (we have asked for 24-hour notice to clean up the kid clutter) so our viewers can see it looking nice and envision themselves living here. 

I put together a vase (from our wedding – time to use it!) with a flower/feather arrangement for the mantle, having taken down the personal photos.  I am CLEARLY not an interior decorator.  I know what I like, but putting that together is hard.  I decided I didn’t wanted to do that again, so I racked my brain for other decorator options for a vase (also from our wedding and first or second time used) on our dining room table.

Lo and behold, I had a rare moment of clarity and thought something up!  Shaun and I collect wine corks for various projects.  He makes wine cork corkboards (which are brilliant BTW) and I’ve made various things like wine cork Christmas garlands and ornaments.  You might see a post about this come December.

Easy Mac took this picture!

I filled ¾ of my vase full of wine corks.  It looks AWESOME!  And I feel so smart because not only did I think it up and have all of the things I needed, but it was correspondingly THRIFTY!

What THRIFTY décor have you drummed up Friends?

September 25, 2011


Posted by Lori~

I love that time of the year when the apples are ripe and fresh fruit is plenty.  One of my favorite memories from home is mom and dad’s apple tree.  You see this tree (like many trees) would produce every other year.  One year the crop would be huge and the next it would be smaller. 

I was lucky last year to get a large supply from my mom and dad and the best part was that I was in the middle of learning and making home-made baby food.  Truly the way to go!

And again this year, I received a large bag of apples from Steve’s parents and knew that home-made apple sauce was the way to go! 

It’s super easy.  First up, peel, slice, and chop your apples (removing the core).  Using a large pot—fill your pot with water (just below the apple level) and add cinnamon sticks.  Boil the apples until they are tender.

Once tender—drain off the excess water.  Add seasoning (nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice) to your preference.  I do not add sugar, because I want me applesauce to be sugar free.  Best for me, best for Steve, and best for Mur-Man.

You can then run the apple mixture through a food processor until your desired consistency.  I then put some applesauce in the fridge and some in the freezer!  SUPPLY HUGE!  SAVINGS HUGE!  YUMMMMYYYY—HUGE!

September 23, 2011


Posted by Lori~
I don’t want to say it…but I need to out loud. I have been a HORRIBLE couponer.  That’s right—I have spent little to no time cruising my go to couponing blogs.  I have done little to no clipping and planning.
But…time to step it up.  Time to start saving.

So I am saying it to all of our WOM-MOM followers.  I am committed to saving, couponing, and spending less.  DECISION DONE!

I promise to update you on my progress and I promise to get Ethne on board.  Mission SAVINGS here we come!  (And...Steve is excited too)!

September 22, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

Friends, part of my motivation for this project was the desire, plain and simple, to do a project.  With that fire a-burnin’, I scoured around my various fave places and saw some inspiration here and combined it with my own skills from here: a re-usable snack bag for KD and Easy Mac.

Gotta fill these sweet little mouths on outings

A lot of the snack bags I’ve seen have used oilcloth or other such fabrics.  I’ve never worked with oilcloth before, and therefore did not have any in my stash.  So, I improvised.  Ziploc bags anyone? 

For the outer cloth, I found some red and pink floral canvas in the remnants bin at JoAnn’s for a few clams.  I didn’t have a use for it just then, and on principle I don’t buy things if I don’t have a use for them – not that I don’t want to, it’s just a good policy to avoid impulse spending.  I’ve learned.  Anyway, when I saw this, the colors were perfect and I seemed to have some sort of little buzz floating around in my brain that I did have a use for it if only I could remember what it was.

I had to have that remnant red and pink canvas!

Well, this was a stretch around my rule, but not even a week after this purchase, I decided on this project and knew it was PERFECT.  The canvas will give it a little extra strength and the colors are just right for KD and Easy Mac.

The pattern I modeled after (which I can't find the link for now) gave measurements for the bag of 8” x 8” squares of fabric and liner, so that’s what I cut out:

Two 8” squares of the canvas outer fabric
Two 8” squares of the Ziploc bag plastic for lining
Scrap fabric and Pellon Wonder Under for the letters ‘k’ and ‘e’
Regular scissors and pinking shears

Note: check out Lori’s appliqué tutorial using Wonder Under here.

First, I used cut-out letters from a fabric-letter-kit I had purchased at JoAnn’s before for a few bucks.  Easy enough – you can pretty much free-hand letters or shapes, I just happened to have these letters.

I thought the green looked fun with the bright canvas;
I have kinda been on a strawberry kick

Lay the cutouts BACKWARDS onto the bad side of the scrap fabric so that when they are cut out, Wonder Undered and ironed onto the main fabric, the letters face the right direction. 

Trace around the backwards letter and cut out the shape from the scrap fabric.  Iron the letter GOOD SIDE UP on the Wonder Under per the Wonder Under directions.  Peel off the paper and iron the letter onto your 8” piece of main fabric – again, follow the Wonder Under directions.  The letter piece will now be the front of the bag.

I sewed around the letters as close to the edge as I could get

Next, pin the 8” fabric pieces to their matching 8” plastic pieces.  Sew a straight line across the top of the fabric-plastic squares to secure them together – ¼” seam.  Leave pins in the main body of the squares still because the plastic is shifty.  Take out your pinking shears and cut a ‘pinked’ line across the top, but don’t cut through your stitching.

Pin these two pieces together

Now fold over the top ends on each piece another 1/3” or so and sew across the fold with about a ¼” seam.  This will make a nice clean opening to the bag and the pinking will prevent the fabric from fraying.

To cover up the stitching, I sewed a piece of ribbon directly over the stitching, leaving the ends loose on either side because I will be pinking all the outer edges when it’s all sewn together.

The tops are pinned together - I folded the two flaps out here
so you could see they are both right sides facing out and
pinned at the top

Next, RIGHT SIDES FACING OUT, I matched up the front and back squares to each other, lining up the tops as best I could.  Pin together.

Sew a ½” seam around the three sides of the bag, leaving the ribboned tops open.

Pinned and prepped.  The extra plastic hanging out at
the bottom won't matter once it's trimmed up.
1/2" seam around KD's bag

With your pinking shears, trim the three sewn sides of each bag about ¼” in from the edges.  Now you’ll have a funky, non-fraying edge. :)  PERFECT!  I liked the pinking shears, funky edge route because aside from being cute, I didn’t have to mess around with sewing right sides together and turning.  It’s all plastic on the inside, so it makes the perfect snack bag.

Of course my pinking shears have a pink handle!
Isn't that a nice edge?

These are a great size to put snacks in and for the girls to hold.  Now that they’ve been using them, I see the appeal in potentially putting a handle of some sort on the bag.  I fully do intend to put a piece or two of stick-on Velcro on the inner tops of the bag.  I haven’t done it yet because I can’t find the Velcro in my stash and I am not about to go buy some more.

Filled with snacks!

Happy kid-snacking friends!  And don’t forget my rule about not buying stuff if you don’t have a purpose for it.  You’ll save so much money this way.  It’s as THRIFTY as couponing.  ps, Special Guest Steph inspired me to make my potstickers again for dinner tonite and doggonit they are good!!!

September 21, 2011

FOOTBALL GRUB: beef stew!

Posted by Ethne~

I made beef stew Sunday for dinner after football-watching.  Let me tell you, I’ve just been in a crazy mood for soups these past couple of weekends.

You’ll need:

2 cups carrots (I used the pre-sliced for ease)
2 cups celery (I didn’t have, so I used zucchini cubes instead), sliced
3-4 large potatoes, cubed
2 cups frozen peas
2 med-large onions, chopped
1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 can tomato paste (I used a few scoops of my homemade tomato sauce instead)
1 large flank steak cubed into bite-size pieces
4-8 beef bouillon cubes
Flour (a few tablespoons)
Salt and pepper
1-2 cups dry red wine

First, I drizzled my pan with olive oil and set it to medium heat.  I put in my meat cubes, salted and peppered them, then shook on the couple of tablespoons of flour.  I sautéed them until they were browned, but being cooked through wasn’t essential.  Toss ‘em into the crock pot.

Browned steak chunks and raw carrot slices
(that red sauce is the little bit of tomato soup leftover from lunch)

I next put a little more olive oil in the same pan (don’t rinse it out) and put in my onion and mushrooms.  You could sauté your carrots in here too, but I didn’t.  Saute until the mushrooms and onions start to wilt a little (release some of their juices) and pour in the red wine. This should cause some sizzle and loosen up the flour and beef bits. Bubble this around for a few minutes until all the bits are scraped off the bottom of the pan.  Pour this all into the crock pot.

Lightly sauteed onion and mushroom - I added a little sprinkle
of flour for thickening (do this for the meat for sure); see the beef
bits on the sides of the pan?  That's the GOOD stuff.
Eyeballing the red wine pourage
The insta-sizzle of the wine (called deglazing) loosens
up those tasty bits of beef on the bottom and sides of the pan

Throw in the zucchini and carrot and potato cubes.  Dump in the broth and tomato paste/sauce.

Got a bit of a glare off the zucchini!

Liberally salt and pepper, stir around a couple of times and set your crock pot on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours (depending on when you are doing this and when you plan on eating).

Adding some mega flavor

I tasted every hour or so to check the salt factor.  I ended up adding in more salt, then the beef bouillon cubes until I liked the flavor.

When your veggies are cooked, add the peas. 

When the peas are cooked through (they don’t need to be mush), determine if you like the consistency.  I consider stew to be thick and I determined at this point that it wasn’t stew-y enough.  The flour you put on the beef at the beginning should help thicken, but if you still want your stew thicker, stir a couple tablespoons of flour or corn starch in a cup of water till it’s all dissolved, then stir it around in the stew.  Keep stirring for a minute or two and you’ll see the consistency thicken.  Do this till it’s the consistency you want.

Serve with bread or on its own.

Happy stew faces...
...all the way around the table. 

NOTE:  While Shaun and the girls ate this stew quite well, Shaun figures I didn’t do it justice by adding zucchini.  He just said it made it all wrong.  He said “any red-blooded American wouldn’t add zucchini to beef stew.”  I figure he’s wrong because I’m a red-blooded American and I did it.  Friends, add it if you want, I’ll say it’s good either way (and excellent my way).