Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Game to Play with "Hop on Pop" by Dr. Seuss

Who doesn't love a good Dr. Seuss book?  Hop on Pop is one of my very favorites.  It was also the first Dr. Seuss that my (then) 5 year old ever read on her own.

Last time we read the book, we had some fun with the rhyming words.

I used little foam sheets and wrote words that rhymed with "hop" on them.  Then, I spread them around, and called out to Ellie, "Hop on Flop!", "Hop on Prop!", etc.  She had to "hop" onto whatever word I had called out to her.  

When we were done with this activity, I had her put them all in alphabetical order.  

The little ones who aren't quite reading yet wanted to have some fun, too!  So we made some vowel cards and played "Hop on A!" 

Simple fun to go with a great book!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Fear of Bleach...For Realz

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I'm afraid of bleach.  

Okay, that's not entirely true.  I'm afraid to bleach clothing.  Or sheets.  Or anything else that's not a sink.  Sinks are fine.  Me, the sink, and bleach are all good.  Is that rational?  Is that even a thing?  Bleachphobia?  Or perhaps bleachaphobia?  I don't know.  But I have it.

I fully realize that this is completely absurd.  Completely.  I've been married for 9 years, have 4 children, and have yet to put bleach in my washing machine.  It's come really close.  Really close.  

I can remember a couple years ago calling my mom and asking her how to bleach clothes.  I'm certain we talked for a good 15 minutes.  I clarified all my questions and built up some courage.  After I hung up the phone, I put all the whites into the washing machine, got out the bleach, and then...added a double portion of regular laundry soap and called it good.  

I've been building up the courage to do it ever since.  In fact, I have a spot in my bedroom cluttered with white clothing that my family most definitely cannot wear due to their current state of not-whiteness.  It's my "white stuff that needs to some year get bleached so my family can wear it" laundry pile.  I've been known to just throw white clothing away when it gets too bad.  

I don't know if I've ever had a true fear before.  Other than the typical monsters under the bed and checking each bed sheet for spiders every night (doesn't everyone do that?).  But clearly, I'm afraid of bleach.

Someday I'll use it in my washing machine.  Someday.  Until then, though, does anyone want to take home my whites pile and bleach them for me?  :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"You Can Re-Do, Too!" -Guest Post

I'm over on the Reno Mom's Blog today encouraging YOU to give re-doing furniture a try!  Go check out all the inspiring pictures from other local Reno moms!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to Save (or Make Back) Money on College Textbooks

This is a sponsored post, meaning I have received goods or monetary compensation in exchange for this post.  However, as always, all opinions are 100% my own!

My husband, Ben, just finished his Master's program.  I am SO glad that he is finally done!  It was exhausting (for both of us) and so stinking expensive.  You'd think that with being so frugal I would have helped him find his books for as cheap as possible, but I didn't.  Though, really, I was pretty impressed that he looked around on a couple sites before buying his books.  I wish we would have done better at finding ways to save money on all his super expensive books.  Those books add up!  Here are two excellent ways to save big on your college text books:

1. Rent instead of buy your books.

Other than hunting Craigslist or eBay for books, I was relatively unaware that there were any other options for saving money on books.  Campus Book Rentals is an incredible way to save on those costly books.  Instead of buying your books, you can simply rent them.  Isn't that awesome?  Typically, you can save between 40-90% off of your books, which is huge.  I love that shipping is free both ways, and if you happen to not need your book after all, you can just return it within 21 days.

I was always a highlighting type studier, so renting books before would have been an out of the question option for me.  Campus Book Rentals totally allows highlighting!  Seriously, I don't think this option for saving money on college books could get any better.

I always enjoy supporting companies that like to "give-back".  It makes me feel good about where my money is going.  With every book rented, Campus Book Rentals donates to Operation Smile.  Operation Smile is an international charity which provides free surgeries to children (and adults) born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate.  It really is an amazing organization.  I spent a good deal of time on their site.  I didn't fully realize what a huge deal a cleft lip/palate was until I saw their pictures and read their stories.  Go check them out, it'll be worth your time!

2. Rent out your books when you're done.

If you happened to have already bought your books, however, a perfect way to make back some of your money is by utilizing  Instead of selling your book back to the school's buyback program, you can use Rent Back and make 2-4 times more money!  Basically, this website allows you to rent your books to other students.  All you have to do is ship your books to them, and they will rent out your books and pay you!  Almost no work, with a much better return than other options.  As long as your book is in demand, they will keep renting it, and you will keep getting paid.

If you are in college, or have kids in college, these sites are an excellent way to save (or make back) a little extra cash!  College is already so expensive.  There's no reason the books have to be, too!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chalk Board Doors from an Old Armoire

Do you remember last year when my husband and I made our kitchen island out of an old armoire we found on Craigslist?  We LOVE our kitchen island so much now!  But the top of the island never got used.  I had been hopeful that I would eventually find something to do with the top part of the armoire, but for the last few months it's all just been sitting outside.  Until this week...

I had this idea to use the doors to replace some old wine pictures on one of my kitchen walls.  We are slowly working on replacing store bought things in our home with our own home made items.  I finally bought some chalkboard paint ($10 at Home Depot), and I scored (again) on some "Oops" paint from Home Depot for just $2!

My girls helped me paint the doors.  We used the paint for around the outside of the doors, and the chalkboard paint on the inside of each door.

Two coats of each was plenty.  We let them dry, and then attached hooks and wire to the back for hanging.  In the wall, I used a molly and screw to hold the doors securely.  They are quite heavy!  

My favorite part about these doors is the old, original hardware.  They are so unique!  I also really like the cracked and chipped pieces of wood in various spots....they are definitely one of a kind!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I Encourage My Children to Help in the Kitchen

For the past few years, I've been teaching my children to bake and cook with me in the kitchen.  It's definitely hard, and it always takes longer to get things done, but there's a reason and a purpose for it.  I want my children to be competent in the kitchen, and I want them to help out with meals and such.  I believe that it is my job to teach them how to cook, and the only way to do that is to actually allow and encourage them to be in the kitchen with me.  This week, I got my first "payoff" from all this teaching and training, and it was so exciting! 

My girls kept begging to make chocolate chip muffins this week, so yesterday, I said, "go ahead."  I found them a recipe via Pinterest and let them go for it.  I did NOTHING.  Well, I did the oven, because obviously they aren't old enough to use that yet.  But otherwise, they did it all.  I hung out in the kitchen most of the time to listen in case they ended up doing something super wrong, but to my surprise, they did it all correctly!

Ellie is 6 and in 1st grade, so she knows basic fractions (1/2, 1/4, 1/3, etc.) and she can read very well.  She read the instructions and ingredients, found and filled the correct measuring cups/spoons, and then gave them all to her sister to pour and mix.  As if I wasn't already shocked enough that she could put together a recipe on her own, I was doubly shocked at how she allowed her sister to do all the pouring and mixing jobs, and encouraged her along the way.  I was SO proud of my girls.  When they were ready for the muffins to go into the oven they came to get me.  I put them in the oven for them and then we waited.

Their muffins were SO good.  Seriously.  I was so proud of my girls.  But to be honest, I was really proud of myself, too.  Having my kids in the kitchen with me all the time is fun but it can get tiring.  It can be hard.  Frustrating.  Time consuming.  I finally got to see the hard work that I've done pay off...I got to see my two young girls function in a kitchen and completely prepare a recipe on their own.  And that makes all those frustrating times worth it.  

Do you allow your children to help you in the kitchen?  Do they enjoy it?  Is it hard for you, or does it come naturally to let them help? 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Down East Basics

This is a sponsored post, meaning I have received goods or monetary compensation in exchange for this post.  However, as always, all opinions are 100% my own!

Last week I had the fabulous experience of an evening out shopping with some other local momma bloggers and friends at a new-to-me store: Down East Basics here in Reno, NV.  Well, technically it's in Sparks at the Legend's Mall (love that place!).  Anyway, a night out with some of the Reno Moms Blog contributors is always a good idea!

Wow!  I had no idea this cute little store existed.  It's new-ish to my area, but they have them all over. I love shopping (what girl doesn't?), but I don't really have much budget for it, so I either A) don't shop at all or B) when I do shop, I hunt for great deals and sales.  This store not only had some serious cute-ness going on, but they had excellent sales.  And, their employees were so helpful and cheerful!

I ended up leaving with a really cute 3/4 sleeve striped top and a pair of "great-fitting, not quite back to my pre-pregnancy size" jeans.  The total?   Just $31!!!  Isn't that great?  You can see why I'm so excited about this store, right?!?

I've been dreaming about their jewelry and maxi skirts since I left.  So many great pieces there.  I'm definitely going to have to find my way back over there again soon!

 If you are in the Reno/Sparks area, I totally recommend that you head over to check them out!


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