Nifty vs. Thrifty

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surrounding yourself with healthy people!

If you were to ask many successful people in this world, they would tell you that surrounding yourself with positive people is essential for success. What healthy means can be different to different people. I am not the position to say who is healthy and who is not. But I do know that having people around you that have the same goals as you is empowering.
People naturally surround themselves with people that they feel comfortable with.

If you want to quit smoking (for example), it will be easier to quit if the people you are with are not smoking. This doesn't mean you should alienate yourself from a friend that smokes but it does mean asking them not to smoke around you if you are trying to quit. If they care about you than they will be willing to respect your wishes or else spend less time with this person.
If you find yourself having a negative attitude about things in your life, really try to be around people that are encouraging and supportive. If you are with people that are attaining the goals that you want, you will be reminded that you too can accomplish those goals!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Great cookbooks for keeping it simple!

Martha Stewart has a cookbook that is for simple cooking. What could be better than learning the best simple recipes from the cook or all cooks! This was given a 4.5 stars out of 5 from readers and is only $16.47.
And if thats not enough, Rachel Ray has a 30 minute cookbook for kids meals! this is only $9.32.
This was rated 3.5 stars out of 5 on

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Showing your kids the real priorities in life!

Life gets so busy and it's sometimes unclear what's REALLY important.
Every time my husband and I depart from each other, we kiss and say I love you.
It occurred to me just how important this is to me and our family. This little ritual reminds us of what's important and what's a priority. There's nothing that can't wait for you to greet your loved ones and show them some love when you walk in the door. Sharing eye contact and exchanging a kiss is a great way to remind each other that you are loved. After a long day (crying babies, poopy diapers, and no interaction with other adults!), seeing my husband's smile and friendly greeting makes me feel the warmth that marriage and family bring to my life.
Even when we are going through a rough patch where you and your loved ones are not exactly seeing eye to eye, it's still important to say "I love you". In a busy, hectic world, these small gestures are ways of reminding each other what's important and setting an example to your children of what you find a true priority in your life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Teaching kids manners during the holidays

It can be nerve racking going to a family gathering and hoping your kids will be appreciative and use their manners. Preset your kids before going to the gathering and let them know what your expectations are. It's important that they understand that even if it's something they don't like, they should still use good manners, say thank you and show appreciation.
You can play "the manner game" to get your kids ready for showing their manners. Have your kids find things throughout the house and give a present to each other. When they open the gift(even if it's toilet paper), they must say thank you and something nice about it. This is a fun way to get your kids ready for the holidays!! Make using manners fun and of course praise them when they do a good job!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Teaching the value of giving during the holidays

If you want your children to appreciate the things they get during the holidays, have them donate a used toy for each one they get. This will teach them the value of giving, not just getting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Baby product reviews

I have tested many baby products and come up with some conclusions and ideas to SIMPLY life with a baby.

1. I LOVE the baby food snack containers. They are essential for formula when you are on the go and cheap (usually $5-$10). As your child gets older you can continue to use this for snacks. Available at Babies r us.

2. The Fresh fruit feeders are great! You can put veggies, fruit or even meat into these mesh bags and your baby will enjoy sucking and biting as you relax knowing that they will not choke on pieces that are too big. The best part is that they are easy to clean and I can give it to my daughter while I'm making food or cleaning up and it keeps her occupied. I like the Munchkin brand which is $7.49 for 2. I wish I would have started using these sooner since it can be used starting at 6 months!

3. A practical (but cute) diaper bag is a must. This diaper bag has many compartments plus a storage bag for your diapers and one for your food and bottles. You DO NOT want to have food spill at the bottom of your diaper bag-it sucks! A special bag is perfect to take out and put back in! As much as I love things that make life simple, don't skimp on style momma! You still need to feel in style while sporting that big ol bag around! Get this diaper bag for best of both worlds!

4. Oxyclean - you gotta have this!! This is a must for keeping baby clothes clean. It has saved many clothes that I would have thrown out! You can get this product at Babies r us or Walmart. It costs $10.00 online. I recommend the powder kind and the large tub lasts forever!

5. Snap n go stroller by baby trend - This stroller is ideal for when you are going anywhere that doesn't require a cart (the mall, the gym, or a small restaurant). Even though you will only need if for the time when your baby is small enough to be in the infant carrier, it is a great product to have. It's name suits it well since it is very easy to get in and out of the car without a fight (or breaking your back!). You can buy this product at Babies r us or Target. Suggested retail $59.99.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to make a classy party look simple

Weather you are hosting a family dinner during the holidays, having a party, or even if you want to make your house look festive, here are some cheap and easy tips to get you going.

1. Decorate your entrance way. It is the first thing your guests will see and it doesn't take much to make it look fabulous. Take a planter from your porch, put some greens around it and even some christmas lights to make it look festive.

2. Dress up your table. Put ornaments in any tall vases or unique glassware you have laying around to add a festive flare. Use a martini glass for a dip or cocktail sauce. A wreath (fake or real) around the base of a punch bowl adds a great touch as well.

3. White Christmas lights and candles always add a nice soft touch to your elegant evening. Both are cheap and easy!!

4. Don't plan on making more than a few recipes that you have to bake since you only have one oven! (Sometimes you can substitute the microwave)

5. Don't go crazy trying to make fancy dishes. They take too much time and people usually just want the old faithful party food. Here is a list that Simply Siena gathered from a poll of what people said they wanted most at a party. You will be surprised that they aren't extravagant!

Pigs in a blanket

Spinach dip

Buffalo chicken dip



and anything with cheese!

6. Plan your time well. Part of being a good host (or hostess) is also spending a good amount of time with guests. If you are still in the kitchen when guests arrive, designate someone to sit with them while you prepare last minute details.

7. Finally, enjoy yourself! Having fun is contagious! You set the mood for your party, so find some time to relax and enjoy all your work!!

Setting your goals for the new year

So, you've thought about your goals and what's important you. Now it's time to make it happen! It's simple. If it's something you WANT to happen, you will MAKE it happen. That simply!

In 2007, I started this exercise and I've been using it ever since. This exercise was taught to me by Mr. Stuart Bryant, owner of Mr. Stuarts Martial Arts. Every single goal I've set, I've made happen!! My goals included findng Mr. Right, getting married, starting a family, getting my black belt, loosing ten pounds, and making a certain amount of money from my job. The important thing is being real with yourself and accepting the challenge. Saying it out loud and taking steps toward your goals. I love this saying. "Seldom does an individual exceed his own expectations." - author unknown.

So, lets get started...

1. Set your goals. Be realistic but don't underestimate yourself. If you want to be an astranaut, set goals to make steps toward that dream.

2. State your goals. Say it out loud. Write it down. This helps to make it concrete.

3. Keep it SIMPLE. Choose your top 3 goals and write them down. Then write the steps you will make in the next three days, three months and three years. Try not to think too much about it or you might talk yourself out of something you really want (for example, "oh, I will never be able to get my PhD".

4. Visualize. Close your eyes and picture yourself doing the things you will create in your goals.
5. Line up your support. As humans, we need support in order to succeed. If we create a loving and caring support system of people who believe in us we will find a way to make it a reality.

6. Make it happen. That's it. It's SIMPLE!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why do I keep doing the same thing then regret it and feel guilty?

One of the amazing things about being a mommy is seeing the world through a child's eyes. The wonder, the excitement and the honesty that children bring.


Having a child can bring back many patterns that evolved during your childhood-the good, the bad, and the ugly. We don't realize that we create the patterns that we utilize on a daily basis out of survival from our childhood. It sounds complicated but it's actually very simple. If we had a parent that depended on us as a child, then we develop a sense of pride from helping people and a lack of feeling control because the parent was depending on the child. If we had a chaotic childhood (perhaps fighting and/or divorce), than we might have developed ways to act out to get our parents attention. If we were abandoned in some way as a child then we might find a way to control our environment in order to feel security. If you were abused as a child than you might do anything and everything we can to be the exact and TOTAL opposite of your parents. We develop coping mechanisms for survival as children in order to get our needs met.

Patterns are cyclical and it's rare that you will find a child who does not grow up to be a parent similar to their parents, it's human nature.

That being said, if you can find the strength and courage to take a good look at your childhood, you may realize why you do things the way you do. If it's something you don't like, understanding fully why you've developed that pattern can help you to change your ways. You can start to recognize these patterns and tell yourself that you don't need to use these behaviors anymore because you are an adult and have the power to control the situation in a different way now. If its something you like, appreciate the talent that your parent gave you!

Journaling or talking to a therapist is a great way to work through these issues and grow as a person, a wife and a mother. Remember, this does NOT mean that your parents were bad parents-it just means that they made mistakes (just like we will!!) Understanding your inner child can help to unlock your patterns and help you to create new ways of doing things.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My black belt guide to setting goals for the new year!

If you asked me 5 years ago if I would be able to get a black belt in Martial Arts, I would have told you "you are crazy!" I would have never thought that I had the strength, knowledge or even courage to attain a black belt. Five years later, with a great support system, a commitment to be a black belt, and a strong body, I accomplished the impossible.

I don't believe in New Years resolutions. I think that you should focus on what you want to do rather than what you don't want to do. For instance, instead of setting a goal to quit smoking, set a goal to be healthier (including being a non smoker).

Without goals, how do you measure your accomplishments? Whether your goal is to loose 10 pounds or even spending more time with your children, goals are essential for success! So, what are your goals? Are they realistic? Are they attainable? Anything is possible but think of the work it takes to make them that something you're willing to commit to?

Start thinking about what you want now and I will have a goal setting exercise for you next week! You can do it!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. -Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Different views on spanking your child

First of all, I feel this is a delicate issue. There are many people who are on each side of this hot debate. It often divides parents and others who view discipline differently for their children.

I know that there will be plenty of times in my future that I wished I had reacted differently to my child's behavior. It may not be spanking but I'm sure there will be times when it's not appropriate or what is in her best interest.

That being said, teaching your children consequences to behavior is difficult but necessary no matter how you look at it. Children need to know the difference between right and wrong and learn that there are consequences to their behavior. The hard part is figuring out the best way (and using it when your most angry!)

There is a difference between spanking out of anger and giving a consequence with a level head. If you are spanking out of anger, the child will be learning (on some level) that it's ok to hit when you're angry. If you take a deep breath and try to calm yourself when you're child does something wrong, you are less likely to regret what you've done. Also, if you do any one method ALL the time (ie. screaming at them, spanking, or timeouts) they will tune you out and maybe try to do those things to get your attention. If you are saying no all the time, what is your yes worth? If children hear "yes" often (ie. "good job!", "yes, you did that right!", "You are doing a great job sharing with your sister!") they will look for attention in positive ways.

Time outs are often effective when you are giving positive reinforcement to something besides them (their sister or something else) and not giving them attention for their negative behavior. Children innately want positive attention.

Many experts believe that spanking is not always wrong. John Rosemond, executive director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia, N.C., and author of several books on discipline, notes that 50 years ago almost all children were spanked. Yet by all accounts, children are more aggressive and prone to violence today, and at earlier ages, than they were back then.

Whatever side you believe to be correct, the most important thing is to talk to your children after disciplining them about why they were disciplined, and then letting them know that you are doing it because you care about them want them to learn good choices.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Substitute beans for meat for a healthy, cheap alternative

Looking for great ways to make cheap and easy recipes? My husband and I love beans but sometimes I forget to incorporate them into our dinners. Did you know that beans are low in fat and cholesterol free? They are also high in fiber and also used to replace meat. Buying beans in place of meat is a great substitute. It will save you money on your grocery bill and yet you will still get a healthy meal. There are many recipes with beans (baked beans, black beans, chili to name a few!)
Here is one I really like (and I hope you will too!):
*If it does not appear below click on the red line

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Making indoor snow! simple and fun!

Playing with the snow outside is lots of fun but don't forget you can make snow inside! These decorations are easy, fun and make great decorations for your house! You don't need to go to the craft store or spend any money! All you need is paper, scissors and an imagination! You can also use colored paper, add sparkles or anything else you have around the house.

Hang them on your refrigerator or tie a string and hang them from the ceiling! Kids will love it!

Great ideas to keep decorating simple and inexpensive!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

the hottest trends you should be wearing (and things YOU should be asking for from santa!)

I know, I know, we want some presents for christmas too!

Ok, here's some ideas you can pass to your hubby or family members. I consulted with my fashionitsa friend and looked up the latest trends to help you look like the coolest mom on the block in 2010!

Clothing: Metallics, glitter and sequins continue to be popular. Grey is very popular especially in shoes and leggings. One shoulder shirts are perfect for a night you're feeling sassy (and you need to feel sassy sometimes! Make it a priority gorgeous!)

Plaid, plaid, plaid!!!

Accessories: Motorcycle jackets (grey or black), Scarves (pretty much any and every color or pattern), and lacy tights or leggings. Hurley hats (also known as slouchy beanie hats) are so cute and perfect to throw on if your having a bad hair day and need to get out of the door quick!!

Jewelry: Stacked bracelets, Versatile long strand necklaces or necklaces that make a big statement, pearls, necklaces with heart pennant or key pennant, and statement cocktail rings.

Shoes: Ballet flats and any shoes with embellishments or hardwear. Don't forget the red bottomed Christian Louboutin pumps which are very popular. Gladiator shoes or high bootie pumps are all the rage (especially with leggings or a skirt). Slouchy boots are great too.

Handbags: Jewel toned totes and bold, patchwork patterns (this will have to grow on me but I am way over Vera Wang so I welcome anything else!)

Here are some of my favs:

Now, hopefully Santa will really deliver great presents to those who were good this year! Hey...a girl can dream!!
Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do you have a good relationship with your childcare provider?

Having a good relationship with your child's teacher is essential for your child to have a positive experience in the classroom. Just like every relationship you have in your life, the one with the person who is taking care of your child is an important one. Do not underestimate this. I don't mean you should be best friends with them (actually that makes things more challenging), I mean you should have trust and good communication (both ways). I have come up with some ideas to help you along.

Communicate As a child care provider, I really appreciate any information about the child's night or morning when they are dropped off. It helps me to understand the child's needs and allows me to see the big picture. Let them know if they had a particularly difficult evening or morning. If something major is going on at home (such as divorce or a death in the family) your child care provider should definitely be informed so that they can help your child if they are acting out or feeling sad. This also opens the door so that they can communicate with you if there are any issues. In general, being approachable is a good thing so that the teacher feels they can talk to you if your child is having any issues.

Respect There are some crappy teachers out there but MANY good ones. Your child is going to have both through the course of his or her life and they will learn lessons from both. Even though you may not particularly like your child's teacher, you need to be respectful to him or her.

If you have a major issue, confronting your child's teacher is a must. Be aware of your timing. I know it's often challenging to find the right time to talk with a teacher since they are often trying to do other things (especially during drop off or pick up times). Respect their time by talking to them at an appropriate time. If you need to chat with them for more than a minute, try sending a note or coming in early when there isn't a lot going on. If face to face communication is a must, ask them when a good time to chat would be.
Do not speak badly about your child's teacher in front of your child. This will create a triangle and being direct is a much better way to handle the situation. If you need to vent, talk to your spouse or friend about the situation.

Say thank you to your child's teacher often! Show them you appreciate their hard work and dedication either in person, in a note or by giving them a small handmade gift from your child.

Build trust Trust is an important part of your relationship with your childcare provider. I know some teacher's do not like when the parent hangs around while dropping their child off (it can be a disruption if the teacher is in the middle of something). But there's nothing wrong with you taking your time hanging things up or a quick chat with a teacher (unless you are having difficulties with your child during these times which can be a problem). If your childcare provider allows the chance for you to participate in a party, take them up on it. This is a good opportunity to see their interactions with the children and spend some time in their classroom.
Listen to your child- Ask them about their day. Children are pretty good at giving you an idea of what their day was like. Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, ask the teacher about it.

Talk to the teacher about any issues. If you have a concern that's really bothering you, talk to the teacher about it. Approach the teacher in a non threatening way by stating what you know and asking if they know anything about it. It may sound something like this "Sheila has mentioned that a certain child is being mean to her quite often. I have talked to her about ways to deal with it but it seems to be reoccurring. Do you know anything about this?" Ask your child's teacher before jumping to conclusions. Be open minded. There may be a very good explanation or a different perspective (and your child might be part of this problem!)

DO NOT GO TO THE CENTER'S DIRECTOR FIRST! If you want to jeopardize your relationship with your teacher than go right ahead but if you want to build a positive relationship with them, I strongly recommend you talking to the teacher first. Nothing burns a bridge more than stepping over someone and going to their boss.