Archives for November 2013

Letter of the Week Crafts for Preschoolers (Save Money on Curriculum)

When I set out to teach my four year old his alphabet, I looked into some of the curriculum options and they were just too pricy. While we could have signed him up for our local Mother’s Day Out (like his older brothers went to) we really needed to save money.

I had made the commitment to homeschool but felt a lot of pressure to teach my youngest his alphabet… all by myself.

I turned to the idea of creating letter of the week crafts for preschoolers. This would be affordable and would use many resources and items I already have at home.

Are you ready to see how we are doing this?

letter of the week crafts a is for alligator

Letter of the Week Crafts

We have created a collection of letter of the week crafts from A-Z.  You simply print the printable, gather the simple supplies that you likely already have on hand and follow the step by step tutorial.

Each craft also includes songs and rhymes that you can do together to help the letter of the week resonate with your preschooler.

Alphabet Flip Book

I wanted an alphabet flip book to use with our crafts, but they were pricy both online and at the local teacher supply store. So, I made one. This alphabet flip book was so affordable to make and we use it all week long as we discuss the letter of the week.

Preschool Letter Worksheets

We have also created some preschool letter worksheets that you just print out and use them along with your craft. My four year old loves doing these. He hunts for the letter of the week in both upper case and lower case and then marks them with do-a-dot markers. Don’t have these markers? No worries, just use stickers instead. Great fine motor skill building!

Best Children’s Books

While you’re learning your letter of the week, why not check out some awesome books from the library, for free, to expand on your learning? We have pulled together a great collection of the best children’s books that make learning fun!

This totally works for me and our homeschool day. We spend very little and learn a lot!

 More Learning Resources:

Swing by and check out Crystal, a Dallas Mom Blogger, who runs the mommy resource and solution site Crystal & Co.!  She loves to share activities for kids, teach busy families how to meal plan and share real easy recipes. She is a fast-paced mom of all boys, five to be exact (including twins), who is in the trenches of homeschooling. Are you tired yet?

5 Secret Ways to Save at (You’ve Never Heard Of)

5 Secret Ways to Save at is the largest e-tailer in the world. We love to shop Amazon. In fact, even if we are planning to buy elsewhere, consumers most often will go to Amazon first to compare prices or read product reviews.

But when you make a purchase from Amazon, how can you know you are getting the best deal?

I’ve got 5 secret ways to save on your next purchase:

1. Shop Through Ebates

So, maybe you already know about Ebates. Ebates is the shopping site that not only has the most up-to-date coupon codes, but also pays you a percentage back on your purchases when you shop through their site. Shop through Ebates for your next purchase, and make between 3% and 8% cash back on your purchase depending on what you buy! PLUS, you may be eligible to Sign Up Now And Get A Free $10 Gift Card! I opted to get the Target $10 Gift Card.

2. Use Camel, Camel, Camel Amazon Price Tracking Tool

Prices on Amazon vary. In fact, the price on the same product can vary from the beginning of the day to the end! I have yet to figure out the who/what/why/when of the price drops. But, I no longer care! I use camel, camel, camel, to track prices for products I want to purchase on Amazon.

Use the price history to see what the lowest price is you want to pay. Then sign up for an email alert or tweet to let you know when the price has dropped to your target price. By using camel, camel, camel, you’ll be paying the best price for your products!

3. Ask Amazon to Drop the Price

Amazon likes to compete when it comes to pricing. If you find a lower price anywhere, you can use the “tell us about a lower price” feature.

Find the product you want to purchase. Then do the cost comparison at other sites. If you find a lower price, scroll down the Amazon page until you find the “Product Details.” At the bottom, you will see the “lower price” feature:

Amazon tell us about a lower price

Telling Amazon about a lower price doesn’t guarantee they will drop the price. But if you set up an alert in camel, camel, camel, you can get an email if they do!

4. Score FREE Amazon Gift Cards 

Join and you can start earning gift cards. It only takes 450 points to get a free $5 Amazon gift card.  You can earn points by surfing the web, shopping online, or watching videos.  It is easy and it actually works! Use those gift cards to make your purchases. Who knows? You might even get to shop for FREE!

I use Swagbucks and I’ve got a method to Earn Free Amazon Gift Cards in a Minimum Amount of Time that can help you earn those free gift cards.

5. Get to 5 Subscribe and Save Items for a 15% Discount

If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can put together a Subscribe & Save order. Add 5 items to your order, and you save an additional 15%. What if you only need 1 or 2 things? You can use my list of Subscribe and Save Items Under $5 to find items you can use and will want to help you get to the free shipping rate.

This list is also helpful if you just need to get to the $49 threshold for free shipping. Instead of selecting Subscribe & Save, just select Order One Time.

BONUS: I’ve been earning free MP3 and eBook credits using the savings strategies I share on Tricks to Try to Save More at Amazon.

For even more saving strategies, you’ll want to read How to Use Coupons on Amazon. And if you are a Kindle owner, check out the 6 Best Sources for Free Kindle Downloads.

Have a secret way to save? Share it in the comments!

Healthy Whole Food Swaps for Your Holiday Meals

Healthy Whole Food Swaps

Are you new to eating whole foods? Consider making some healthy swaps for your next holiday meals. Here are some whole food healthy swap suggestions:

Traditional Holiday Fare: White Bread Stuffing or White Rice
Healthy Swap IdeasQuinoa or Sprouted Grains
Stuffing gets an easy, healthier upgrade when made with quinoa or sprouted grains like brown or wild rice. Quinoa is a protein- and fiber-rich pseudograin, so it’s also a great choice for any vegetarian guests.

Traditional Holiday Fare: Candied Sweet Potatoes & Marshmallows
Healthy Swap IdeaBaked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Oil & Cinnamon
If you’ve ever baked, steamed or roasted a sweet potato, you know this healthy root veg is plenty sweet without marshmallows and added sugar. Try dressing your sweet potato side dish with coconut oil and cinnamon. Coconut oil provides beneficial fats that your body can more easily metabolize, which means you’ll less likely feel like you need a post-meal nap. Cinnamon is a superfood in its own right: It’s loaded with antioxidants and helps balance blood sugar levels. Simply bake sweet potatoes and swipe with coconut oil and a dash of cinnamon before serving. You do know you can reuse cinnamon sticks, right?

Traditional Holiday FareCanned Cranberry Sauce
Healthy SwapNatural Cranberries, Chutney, Jams, Spreads
Canned cranberry sauce is not only nutritionally void, it also comes in a BPA lined canned. Yuck. Chutney, jams, spreads … canned cranberry has a lot of competition and the other options tend to be lower in sugar and sodium. Not to mention real cranberries are loaded with vitamin C, manganese and fiber. If your friends and family are open to the exotic, try this chipotle cranberry orange relish. For a more traditional cranberry, go with this cranberry sauce with port.

Traditional Holiday FareWhite & Refined Baking Flours
Healthy SwapWhole Wheat, Gluten Free & Sprouted Flours
Going from white flours to gluten-freesprouted or whole grain flours can change the consistency of texture of certain types of desserts, so you may need to whip up your favorite holiday dessert before the big day to make sure you get it right. Taking this extra step pays off big when you can serve your loved ones a better-for-you dessert. I’ve got a foolproof Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe that gives your holiday desserts a whole food boost. And these pumpkin shaped rolls would make a cute addition to any holiday dinner.

Costco Thanksgiving Staples Price List

As we approach the big meal, I’ve put together some Tips, Tricks and Recipes to Help Survive Thanksgiving including my Secret Shortcuts to Washing Dishes!

Quick and Healthy Lunch: Cranberry Lemon Tuna Salad

#ad #shop #OceanNaturals I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. I created this Cranberry Lemon Tuna Salad as part of a social shopper insight survey.

Cranberry Lemon Tuna Salad #shop #cbias

Do you have canned tuna in your pantry? Tuna is one my go-to pantry staples. I love creating healthy and fresh meals with tuna.

When shopping for canned tuna, I always look for wild premium tuna.

Ocean Naturals Canned Tuna #shop #cbias

Ocean Naturals tuna is ethically and sustainably caught tuna. To me, that means not only is the tuna good and good for you, but it is good for the planet!

If you keep canned tuna on hand, you can create a quick and healthy lunch in minutes. This Cranberry Lemon Tuna Salad uses very few ingredients.

Skipjack Tuna #shop #cbias

To lighten this tuna salad, and make it a healthy lunch, I use a combination of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. If you are looking for an uber-light recipe, you can substitute Greek yogurt for all of the mayonnaise.

For me? I really enjoy the tang of mayonnaise. However, I don’t enjoy the extra poundage it adds to my midsection. So I compromise with half and half. All the taste, less calories. Winning!

Healthy Lunch Tuna Recipe #shop #cbias

The next time you need lunch inspriation, try this salad. I like to eat it on it’s own, or I wrap it up in a lettuce leaf and eat it like a wrap.

My kids enjoy eating it on whole wheat bread.

Quick and Healthy Cranberry Lemon Tuna Salad

Yield: 2 servings

Quick and Healthy Cranberry Lemon Tuna Salad


  • 1 can Ocean Naturals Skipjack Light Tuna in Water, drained
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 heaping cup dried cranberries


  1. Mash the tuna, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Stir in red onion and dried cranberries. Chill, covered, for 2 hours or longer to allow the cranberries to soften.

10 Christmas Card Display Ideas

10 Christmas Card Display Ideas

Pretty soon, mailboxes will be stuffed with cards and letters from friends wishing them a very, Merry Christmas.

I love to look on the photos and well wishes from friends throughout the season. I’ve gathered up 10 Christmas Card display ideas that not only dress up your home, but give you a chance to enjoy those cards all holiday season long.

Chic Coastal Living shows how to string them

Pearls Handcuffs and Happy Hour shows how to display them on shutters

Kellys Corner Blog displays her cards on a Christmas Tree

Delia Creates made a darling clothes pin wreath for her Christmas cards

Centsational Girl always has the cutest ideas such as this corkboard turned card display

Home Life shows how to simply arrange cards in the shape of a tree

Budgetwise Home has another incredibly easy suggestion using ribbon and your kitchen cabinets

Holly Mathis upcycles old frames into darling Christmas card displays

Clover Lane’s photo garland is one of my favorites

Just Jilly uses a doorway to display her cards

What creative ideas do you have for Christmas card displays?

How to Make a Cinnamon Dolce Latte

How to make a cinnamon dolce latte at home with whole food ingredients that tastes better than a coffee shop version.
How to Make Cinnamon Dolce Lattes at Home. So Addictive!

It is so simple to make a Cinnamon Dolce Latte at home, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to pay for one!

I’ve shared quite a few homemade latte recipes, and the secret to making each one is to start by making a flavored syrup. My recipes always include enough syrup for several lattes. The exact number of lattes you can make depends on how sweet you like your latte.

Me? I drink my morning cup of joe with only a splash of milk. So I use a light hand when adding flavored syrup. You? You can add as much as you like! After all, you are making it for YOU!

This recipe calls for using cinnamon sticks. You do know you can reuse them, right?

Finally, as with so many of my recipes, this one calls for the minimally processed sugar called sucanat. My highly trained palate (HA!) likes to think of sucanat as the flavor you would get if white sugar and brown sugar had a baby. You can find it in most grocery stores and the flavor is so good, you’ll never go back to the icky refined white sugar again!

aerolatte frother

To make lattes at home, I do recommend investing in an aerolatte. They only cost about $15, are easy to use, and give your homemade lattes that foamy milk on top that makes it taste just like a coffee shop drink.

How to Make Cinnamon Dolce Lattes

Cinnamon Dolce Latte Recipe


  • 1 cup water
  • 3 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup sucanat (may substitute brown sugar)
  • 8 ounces brewed coffee
  • 1 cup milk (any kind of milk will work: cow, almond, coconut, soy...)


    Cinnamon Dolce Syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, heat water and cinnamon sticks just to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in sucanat just until dissolved.
  2. Cover pan and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. At this point, you can store in a jar in the refrigerator for when you are ready to use in a cinnamon dolce latte.
  3. To Assemble Cinnamon Dolce Latte:
  4. Heat milk just until warm - being careful not to boil. If you have a milk frother, froth your milk.
  5. Divide hot brewed coffee between two mugs. Add 1/2 cup hot milk to each mug. Stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. Enjoy!

What do you think? A Cinnamon Dolce Latte just as good as the Starbucks kind?

12 Green Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Kids crafts are some of the greenest activities around because they use things that you have around the house.  It is the ultimate recycling!  I truly believe that there is no reason to go buy something when you can transform something.

It is more fun anyway!

12 Green Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Here are some simple ideas for Thanksgiving activities for kids that won’t send you to the store for supplies.  At my house we would substitute anyway – if we don’t have a paper plate, maybe a coffee filter will do!  Get creative if these simple supplies aren’t in the recycling bin.

Green Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Tin Can Turkey – Grab an empty tin can, print off the free printable and transform these items into a cute Thankful Turkey pencil holder.  It is perfect to keep your journaling supplies.

Bow from a Magazine Page – This is a great activity to do together. Upcycle your magazines into colorful bows that can be used on holiday packaging.

Gratitude Tree – A twig from the backyard is the perfect canvas to place written blessings using paper and string.

Twig Picture Frame – I think these would make really sweet placecards for Thanksgiving dinner.  Each family member could have a keepsake to take home created from upcycled cardboard and found twigs.

Warhol-Inspired Leaf Art – A lovely family activity which requires a leaf, some left-over paint and a piece of paper.

Coffee Filter Turkey – Grab the scraps of paper and a coffee filter for a fun and easy Thanksgiving craft for all ages.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece – Send the kids on a leaf scavenger hunt and then use what they find for a simple dinner centerpiece.

Pilgrim Mice – Don’t serve boring potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner!  Have your kids help you transform them into pilgrim mice.

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages – These coloring pages double as placemats and activity sheets to keep the Thanksgiving table decorated and little hands buy.

Soap Carving Arrowheads – Older kids can carve soap and then it can be used as guest soap for holiday visitors.

Found Object Art – Fall is the perfect time to create art from the nature around us.

Making Butter with Kids – I love this activity because it gets the wiggles out of kids and creates fresh butter for dinner!

Family Outing Ideas – Autumn is the perfect time to explore outside as a family.  Here are lots of ideas for keeping kids engaged outdoors.

For more family fun inspiration, please visit one of my favorite sites: Kids Activities Blog.