Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come on Irene

Hurricane Irene is coming and the city that never sleeps has actually shut down.  All down the East cost people are preparing and in the Carolinas...three have already died. 

So far here in the Lehigh Valley we have dark skies and rain as people run to the store for last minute necessities and bring patio furniture and such indoors.

Stay safe. . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Savings!

My column this week on Patch deals with the back to school blues...actually it should be reds considering that's how it leaves you - in the red with an empty wallet. Does back to school HAVE to mean a huge shopping spree? I don't think so....I think there are ways to save money and make this time of year a fun family tradition. Check out Frugal Family: Back to School Savings

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crafting the night away

Moms don't get much free time typically. When you're a stay-at-home mom people seem to think you have all the time in the world but in all honestly you're constantly running around and even then the only 'free' time you have is at night after the kids are in bed.

My favorite 'free' time activity is crafting. I've sold on various online handmade shops and even in a brick & mortar shop in New Hope, PA at one point but with homeschooling the little man and freelance work my 'free' time vanished and my craft table became a pile of unfinished projects.

Now that my little man is going to be starting school I find myself with some upcoming 'me' time. I may put more hours into freelancing but I'll still gain 'me' time since I'll no longer have to plan out lessons and prepare supplies for each day's schooling. I'll miss it don't get me wrong and I hope the little guy learns just as much at school as he would at home. He'll socialize now with other kids which is great and hopefully meet some local friends. . .at the same time I hope he continues to be the sweet, well mannered, intelligent little boy that I've spent the last 5 1/2 years raising.

In anticipation of this 'me' time I decided to get an online shop set up yet again to peddle my wares so-to-speak. :)

My love of and growing interest in photography is allowing me to get some amazing new photos of my products and I even plan to sell prints. It will be a fun endeavor and I look forward to seeing how it goes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bittersweet Moments

My little man spent the first year of his life in daycare; actually, he attended from the time he was six weeks old until just after his first birthday. I worked there so it wasn't the typical situation. I still saw his first attempts as walking, saw him sleeping at naptime (which for a newborn was frequent), got to see him play with other babies, freaked at his numerous ear infections, panicked when another baby had ringworm and was still at the daycare, smiled when he had his first 'school' portrait and cried when he got bit on the head just before his baptism so he'd have that wonderful scab on his head for his pictures.

I can honestly say it was a rollercoaster and that didn't even include my own personal drama from being employed there.

Now, my time has come to cut the apron strings. I homeschooled him for preschool mostly out of necessity since our school district didn't offer a program and most area centers were expensive. Over the last year we followed an online school's program and my son thrivedI can't believe how much he learned and when kindergarten registration came last March he was able to do everything on the requirements list: count to 30, recite his phone number, name his colors, etc.

The homeschool program also has him doing addition, subtraction, reading, writing and we just started working with money. Yes, we're still finishing it up since we started late and it's a self paced program. Honestly until a few weeks ago I wasn't sure if we would continue the homeschool program or go to the traditional school down the road. We're going with the traditional way for now to see how he does. We're concerned that he covered more over the last year than his peers and may be bored next year but hopefully they keep him interested and active in class.

We got his backpack the other night and a few supplies. He was all excited to finally get to buy a backpack and he's been packing it daily with what he needs to bring to school. Note to self: check the pack his first day since apparently the television remote is one of his necessities for school. :)

Today I did some online shopping and got him a new wardrobe for back to school;  pants, shorts, t-shirts, button downs and such. The thought of him looking nice everyday so other kids don't say anything is in the back of my mind. I went to Catholic school for most of my academic career so I didn't have to worry about what to wear. I've heard stories about kids getting made fun of or beaten up over their clothes which is ridiculous. Just another thing for me to stress as a Mom.

I worry about buillies since I don't have an aggressive little man. If someone takes a toy he's playing with at a playdate he'll ask them why they took it and then move on. Sometimes he'll come over to me and let me know if someone bonks him on the head with something or takes his toy. I tell him to let it go - things happen and as long as he's not seriously injured just move on and go away. What will happen in school if someone says or does something to him. Will he be popular? Will the other kids be decent? We live in a nice neighborhood but there are always 'a certain few' who make you wonder where they came from. Their behavior is awful and the parents don't see a problem with it.

So as my little man becomes a school-aged kiddo and goes off on his own for the day I hope that I taught him well. I hope he respects his teacher and other adults at the school, is a good friend to classmates, avoids the less desirable kids and keeps his love of learning...most of all I hope he has fun since he has many years of school ahead of him.

As for me - I just hope to hold back the tears those first few mornings and stay friendly with the other moms on the PTO for the next eight  years. And in my mind he'll always be my little man. . .

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DIY Baby Food (as seen on

Processed foods. They  and have a list of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce half the time. Making your own baby food isn’t a new idea. My Mom had a hand grinder that she used for that purpose and of course technology has come into play now-a-days with fancy contraptions to grind, puree and store what my Mom made by hand and froze in an ice cube tray back in the dark ages for me.

When my son was born I started making his food but not to be healthy or save money. I started making it because I tasted his food and aside from some of the fruits and desserts I couldn’t stomach them.

Over time I realized that making his food did save money and I felt better knowing what he was actually eating. I still remember one of the popular makers of baby food being in the lime light because their apple juice was mostly sugar water. While I still bought juices for him at least I knew that his foods were all healthy and natural. 

During Farmer’s Market season which is typically May through November, you can take advantage of local fruits and vegetables for this purpose. The Macungie Farmer’s Market runs Thursdays, Bethlehem has a Farmer’s Market on Tuesday’s at the Steelstacks, Emmaus’ Market is on Sunday’s and Allentown’s Farmer’s Market is year round and is open Thursdays through Saturdays. These are just a few of the area markets that you can check out for the freshest produce for your family. Of course you can also save time by picking up necessities at the grocery store. Wegmans gets some of their produce from local farms.
Remember to follow the Four Day Wait Rule when introducing anything new just in case there is a reaction. My little guy has an allergy to strawberries that took a few weeks to figure out but thankfully it’s very minor and he can still enjoy them as a healthy treat. The Dr. Sears website also recommends avoiding adding salt and sugar to baby’s food. They recommend trying a bit of lemon juice as both a preservative and a natural flavor enhancer.
When preparing baby’s food wash and cook the vegetables and fruits that need to be softened so that you can easily puree them. recommends baking, boiling or steaming the produce until it’s soft and if you boil it save some of the leftover liquid to use when mashing to food.
Any grains can be ground in a food mill or food processor. I read on the Duggar’s website how their daughter-in-law Anna makes her own brown rice baby cereal by grinding rice, adding boiling water and cooking it for 10 minutes. Yet again, a healthy and less expensive alternative to what’s labeled as baby food and with as many babies as there are and have been in the Duggar family they not only know how to feed but how to save.
Whether you use a hand-turned food mill, baby food grinder, hand blender, food processor or a fork making your own baby food puts you in control of what your baby eats while saving a little on the wallet.
(This is an edited version of this story. For the full story and all the details on making your own baby food - check out my most recent article for my Frugal Family column: Baby your Savings on

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

List list shopping list

To say my little man and I enjoyed Pennsylvania Shakespeare's production of Shakespeare for Kids is a HUGE understatement.

I wondered how they would not only fit the entire story of Hamlet into 45 minutes but also perform it in a way so that kids as young as 5 would be interested. I knew within 5 minutes of sitting in my seat.

The four actors were so kid-friendly and animated. They did Shakespeare but threw in stuff kids knew like when they were talking about Ophellia not being allowed to talk to Hamlet (not even on Facebook) and they explained the Shakespearian words so that even a 5 year old understood.

Audience participation also kept everyone interested from the word of the show that required everyone to yell when it was said to having a member of the audience come up on stage to help the show along. There was singing and words were given out but the lyrics were simple enough that even those not yet reading all that much could follow along rather easily.

Time flew and before we knew it the show had ended. We were able to meet a few cast members and get autographs which was cool. No photos were permitted during the show so you'll have to go for yourself to see all the fun.

It's a wonderful experience for kids and a great way to introduce them to the Bard and one of his works.

You can still win a family 4-pack of tickets to see the show thanks to the Lehigh Valley Kids's Guide and their giveaway. The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's FaceBook page also has FREE tickets available for tomorrow's performance. So enter the giveaway since  you could also win tickets to see Sleeping Beauty and get out and get cultured!

Monday, July 25, 2011

There's still time. . .

Did you enter yet? There's still time and you could win a family 4 pack of tickets to see Sleeping Beauty or Shakespear for Kids! Introduce your child to the world of theater and performance with these kid-friendly shows that are right in our backyards.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My first GIVEAWAY!!!

Lehigh Valley Family Fun is now listed in the Lehigh Valley Kids Guide Mom Connect Blog Directory. Thank you to that local edition of the US Family Guide for including us!

A great addition to our blog now is that we'll have the opportunity for some giveaways!

Thanks to the US Family Guide we'll be offering the chance for some readers/followers to win tickets to for Muhlenberg's Summer Music Theater production of Cinderella or a family four pack to the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival!

Thank you to the guide for giving us this opportunity to thank our readers/followers and for picking us up! :)

Temps Rise and Leaves Wilt - Protecting your outside investment

All is not lost when temps rise and the garden is out in the elements. The sight of all those fruits and veggies wilting in the sun is painful but there are ways to help them hold on. . .

1. Water - It's an obvious one but every morning before the sun hits the garden and every evening when it's setting you need to give those plants a drink. You need to get them a drink before the ground is dry and the water just runs off - that doesn't do much good.You need to be sure plants will dry before night comes to eliminate the chance of any fungus developing - I water with diluted milk at night which supposedly helps eliminate this problem...but I also do it leaving plenty of time for the plants to dry before the sun completely sets. I pour the water right at the bottom of the plants where they need it most so it soaks in.

2. Mulch - You can buy hay and straw for this purpose or do what I do - grab those 'free' grass clippings. I actually did this when I transplanted my tomatoes and the darn things are doing great so far in this current heat wave. Okay, one is looking very sad but I believe that to be my fault as when I was hammering the garden stakes in I think I damaged its roots. I gave it an extra drink and it's fighting so we'll see but in general approximately 5 inches of something to help lock in moisture will do wonders. You still need to water more in these high temps but the mulch will help lesson the amount that evaporates.

3. Snip off those flowers - Basil forms those pretty white flowers and mint has purple. Sure, they're nice to look at but they also take energy away from the plant. Snip them and you'll have healthier plants. I always do this with my basil so I have more yummy basil rather than some basil topped with flowers.

4. Weeds - You normally pick the weeds out anyway but when the temps rise there's even more reason - they're stealing water from your fruits and veggies! Try to do this early morning or early evening when it isn't as hot, drink fluids, wear sunscreen and take breaks if it's an intense job. I try to weed almost daily so it's not a huge endeavor but when it's a 'hot one' out there I get a little more into it trying to get rid of anything that would steal a drop of that precious moisture from my plants.

5. Shade - IF you have the ability to put up a tarp or canopy to help shade your area go for it. Some plants like tomatoes can handle it better than say, cucumbers (speaking from personal experience). Just be sure to remove it when/if it does finally rain so they get a good drink. I'm also guessing  you should at night so you're not trapping too much moisture as that may result in plant fungus growth.

More gardening tips from my Frugal Family column on

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

6 Weeks Left to WIN!

The US Family Guide wants to help families all over make some great 
family memories this Summer by giving away some amazing family vacations!

There are still 6 weeks left so enter today and win!

More details can be found on the giveaway website as well as coupons to the destinations so even if you don't win - you can still save.

Not interested in traveling to Colorado or California? 
Fear not - another giveaway will offer some tickets to LOCAL attractions for the family!  

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Summer means to me. . .




Let's Cook ~ Cucumber Spinach Sandwiches

My garden is doing rather well this year and the cucumbers are amazing! I'm thankful that we'll be getting some rain tonight because they could use it (as can the 10 tomato plants out there).

I'm trying to come up with new ideas for the cucumbers rather than the usual cucumber salad that I normally make. You can freeze them - they get limp but if you're making the salad they work just fine.

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found a while ago. I added spinach because I had some in the garden. You could probably also add celery finely chopped for more crispness or even shredded carrots for color!


12 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped spinach
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt


1. Once the cucumber is peeled, seeded and finely chopped, use a paper towel (or cloth towel) to soak up as much of the cucumber juice as possible.
2. Blend the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth.
3. Using a spatula, combine cream cheese and mayonnaise mixture in the bowl with the cucumber.
4. Add the spinach, dill and garlic salt and mix well.
5. Allow the mixture to chill for at least an hour before making sandwiches.

You can use a mini party loaf bread to make finger food-type sandwiches or regular-sized pieces of bread for a summertime lunch. If you prefer, you can also leave the mixture in a bowl and serve it as a dip!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Need something to do this weekend?

The Blueberry Festival returns to Burnside Plantation in Historic Bethlehem this weekend! It's the festival's 26th year with everything blueberry.

In the mood for freshly picked blueberries and raspberries? Head to Prydenjoy Farm or even George Schmidt Berry Farm for plenty of pick-your-own berry fun!

The Crayola Factory is celebrating its 15th Birthday with a day of festivities.

Easton's Farmer's Market is going on for another 45 minutes or so.

Need more ideas?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lehigh Valley Family Fun in Mom Connect Directory

Lehigh Valley Family Fun is now part of the USFamilyGuide Network!
You can now find us in their "Moms Connect" area.

USFamilyGuide is a nationwide network of over 500 online family guides generating over 800,000 visitors each month. You can find us listed as a permanent feature in the Lehigh Valley edition. :)

Check out all that they have to offer! Do you have a business and want to advertise with them? Go for it!

Recycle & Reuse

This week's Frugal Familycolumn has some ideas on what to do with plastic bags and newspapers that always seem to collect. What's the best way to get rid of something - reuse it and extend it's purpose! Get 110% of your money out of your purchase or get ahead of the game if the item (such as a plastic bag)had no initial cost.

And for the family - check out Groupon and save at DaVinci Science Center. Admission for 2 for just $12!!! Toddlers up to age 3 get in for free, and regular admission for children and seniors is $8.95. Not a bad bit of savings AND they have a new Summer exhibit. I've heard it's a great place to take the kids and for $'s worth checking it out!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Frugal Family Column

Each week I write a column for and it's posted to both and Last week I wrote about the great opportunity we have in this area with so many pick-your-own farms. You not only save money but have an opportunity for some family time.

This week's column will be about reusing items around the house - namely plastic bags and newspapers. After you unload groceries, when you're finished with the funnies - what becomes of bags and papers? Well...have I got ideas for you! Check out South Whitehall Patch on Wednesday, July 13th for the details!

Future columns will include stay-cation ideas for the family, making your own soap and other household items for less and canning basics. You never know what the topic but you can always find ways to save. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Let them eat eggs. . .

The incredible edible egg. The poor thing has gone from a breakfast staple to an avoided protein . . . or at least part of it. I love seeing people eat their scrambled eggs whites. How can they do it? They claim it's to help lower cholorestrol but honestly I'd just eat them less because I like to eat stuff that has flavor.

Happy news though - The latest research from the University of Alberta has found that egg yolks contain two powerful antioxidants that are thought to fight heart disease and cancer. The yolk actually contains more antioxidants than your typical apple! Hello healthy!

Past research has shown that the stomach and intestines convert egg protein into enzymes that act like ACE inhibitors to drop blood pressure. Eggs are also a rich source of carontenoids and lutein which are important for eye health.

Honestly I think as with anything - all good things in moderation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fun with Bread

I love reading Once a Month Mom. You get some great ideas on cooking and the idea of doing all your cooking for the month in just one day sounds like a great time saver. I've ever managed that BUT I do cook in bulk quite frequently and one of my favorite parts of this recipe is that you can make the dough and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks! Fresh bread every night! And while it's not THAT difficult of a recipe it does save a little time which is always a Mom's BFF.

Thank you Once a Month Mom! :)

Artisan Bread
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
3 cups warm water
1.5 tablespoons yeast
1.5 tablespoons kosher salt
6.5 cups all purpose, unbleached, unenriched flour

In the large bowl, combine water, yeast, and salt. Stir together. No need to wait until yeast is bubbly. Add in flour all at once and stir together. All portions of the dough should be moistened so that no flour is left uncombined. Cover mixture with lid or plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for two hours, or until doubled in size. Place bowl of dough, still covered, in fridge overnight and up to 14 days.

How to make a loaf: Sprinkle pizza peel – or parchment paper, if you don’t own a peel – very generously with corn meal. You want to make sure your loaf doesn’t stick when you slide it off onto the pizza stone or cookie sheet. Remove bowl from refrigerator. Sprinkle a “cloak” of flour over the dough – you’re not trying to mix it in or make your dough less sticky. Cut off a grapefruit -sized piece of dough, and pull all four sides, one at a time, to the bottom to form a ball. Flour hands if dough is sticking to them. Don’t worry about making the bottom of the loaf look smooth.

Let loaf rest for 40 minutes (or more, if kitchen is drafty or cool). Most of the actual rising will take place in the oven. 20 minutes before baking, place pizza stone in oven on the second to bottom rack, and place broiler pan on the rack below that; preheat to 450. After 40 minutes have passed, sprinkle top of loaf with flour (to keep knife from sticking). Using a serrated knife, make two 1/4 inch cuts crosswise on the top of the loaf. Now, with a quick motion, flick the loaf onto the pizza stone, then pour a cup of hot water into the broiler pan. Shut oven as quickly as possible to retain steam. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until crust is browned and hardened. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack; don’t slice in until cooled because it will release essential moisture moisture.

Freezing Directions:
You can freeze dough after first rise in portions, wrap in parchment and store in freezer bag. You can also freeze the loaf after baking in a freezer bag.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Easton's Market makes top 5

I think everyone knows my love of Farmer's Markets. The fresh foods, the crafts, being outside in the Summer weather and there's always something for everyone. A few weeks back I posted a list of the areas ones and their information - today is a widget from the American Farmland Trust website where people vote on their favorite market. . .Easton's #5! Other area markets usually make the list so vote for your favorite and get out and shop local. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where is the time going?

I can't believe it's been so long since I've blogged!! My apologies. . .life is . . . well life.

Summer is officially here and with it hot and humid weather. Everyday it looks like it's about to rain and while pools offer a bit of coolness...the air is a blanket of heat.

What to do?
How about some free family fun?!
Check out some local happenings!
Find some nearby ways to beat the heat!

Yes, they're all links to my columns...I've got some good stuff in there - honest !

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Joy of Local

This time of year I look forward to the fresh local produce. Whether I go to a pick-your-own farm or check out a local farmer's market - the chance to not only support local farmers but also enjoy organically grown fruits and veggies is always a win/win.

We're fortunate to have a great number of markets to choose from and to help in your planning - here's a list of who's open and when.


Emmaus Farmers' Market
May 1-Nov 20
open 10am-2pm
KNBT parking lot, 235 Main Street, Emmaus

Saucon Valley Farmers' Market
May 1-Nov 20
open 9am-1pm
Water Street Park, Hellertown


Steelstacks Farmers' Market
May 10-Nov 8
open 3-7pm
645 E. First Street, Bethlehem


Plaza Growers' Market
May 28-Oct 26
open 11:30am-1:30pm
Hamilton Street (between 8th & 9th), Allentown


Bethlehem Farmers' Market
May 19-Oct 27
open 11am-3pm
Campus Square, Morton & New Streets, Southside Bethlehem

Macungie Farmers' Market
June 2-Oct 27
open 4-7pm
Macungie Memorial Park, Walnut Street Side, Macungie

Kutztown Main Street Growers' Market
June 2-Oct 27
open 3:30-7pm
357 W. Main Street, Kutztown


Bath Farmers' Market
May 20-Sept 30
Fridays 3-7pm
Keystone Park, Race & Green Streets, Bath


Boyertown Farmers' Market
June 4-Oct 29
open 10am-1pm
AND one Saturday per month Nov-May from 10-11:30am
Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles Parking Lot, 100 S. Walnut Street, Boyertown

Easton Farmers' Market
May 7-Nov19
open 9a,-1pm
Centre Square, Easton

Lehigh Growers' Market
July 2-Oct 29
open 9am-2pm
Route 309 & Landis Lane, Coopersburg

Nazareth Square Farmers' Market
May 28-Oct 19
open 8am-12pm
Center Square, Nazareth

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crafting and stuff

I reworked my website in hopes of organizing my creativity and possibly (eventually) making an income from it. I'm not sure if my jewelry will finally sell or I'll start getting more into photography and photo shoots. I may dig out the easel and sell a few paintings - does it count that I gave a few to a friend who offered to buy them because I felt bad taking money for them?

Until I figure THAT part out - the website is started and getting situated.

Summer is on its way

The first few hints that Summer is on its way have popped up. Besides the tulips, Easter and daily thunderstorms we have the Grand Opening Weekend of Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.

The first 2,000 guests will receive a Snoopy Bobblehead on Saturday when they open the doors at 10 a.m.

I'd go just for that reason to be honest.

Planet Snoopy is opening this season with new rides and thrills. Honestly I wish they offered a separate admission to just Dorney or even just Planet Snoopy. I hate having to pay almost $60 (admission for myself and my son and whatever parking may be) just for my son to splash in a wave pool and go on a few rides. I've been told that the way to go is to get a season pass so even if we only go for a few hours we make out in that we can go for a few hours every day so it could be worth it. 

The park will be packed I'm sure with coasters full of screaming riders as they usher in the 2011 season. As for me, I'll be looking on ebay for my own Snoopy Bobblehead.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring has arrived!

So after a break from FaceBook for Lent which resulted in an overall break from being online I have returned.

Spring has arrive - spend some time in the kitchen (very minimal time) to make these cute White Chocolate Birds' Nest Treats

Until next time enjoy some Spring photos I took recently -