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