60% Off Willow Tree Toys

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Willow Tree Toys is where I buy the majority of my two boys toys at holidays. They have a great selection of good quality toys and very reasonable prices. Once you get on their mailing list, they frequently send notice of when they are having sales. Last month I ordered a box full of future gift giving toys for 50% off. And this month they are offering 60% off new items!

My favorites are:

Haba Blossom Rattle , Haba Mixed Food Basket, Waldorf Doll Ole and the Lacing Tree

Amazing Offer at Money Saving Mom

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom has teamed up with Tawra and Jill from Living on a Dime to have a blowout sale on their money saving e-books. They are giving away 17 of their most popular books for $17.

That’s $1/book, which is an unbelievable deal. If you bought them all separately they would cost you $75! Many of you are already Money Saving Mom fans, so you know that she doesn’t put her books on sale often. You also probably know that Crystal is a grocery  savings expert, her blog is exceptional so you already know her book will be too. So get it while you can.

Here are the 17 books you’ll receive:

  • Supermarket Savings 101 eCourse with audio downloads
  • Grocery Shopping On A Budget eCourse
  • Money Saving Meats e-book
  • Saving On Cleaning Supplies e-book
  • Eating Healthy On A Budget e-booklet
  • Is Eating Out Eating You Up? e-book
  • 224 Meals In A Hurry e-book
  • Grocery Savings e-book
  • Menus That Make Cents e-book
  • Plan Ahead Leftovers e-book
  • Quick Dinners e-book
  • Menu Planning Made Easy
  • Simply Centsible Breakfasts
  • Simply Centsible Suppers
  • Kids Recipes
  • Menus On A Dime
  • 470 Crockpot Recipes
Her sale only lasts until March 23rd, so if you’re tempted, buy it today before you forget!
Click here to read more about this offer!
Now I’m off to start the corned beef and potatoes! Enjoy your day.

Creative Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy

A few years ago, I wrote this article below for our main Shopping for Two site on creative ways to announce your pregnancy to your husband. This article and the others I wrote have been hugely popular, so I thought I would share it with you here. I also have more fun ways to tell your husband that you are expecting, or ideas telling co-workers about your pregnancy or for telling your family and friends too. I hope these ideas give you inspiration:

Mama’s got a Brand New Shirt. Order one of our cute t-shirts to wear when you see your husband. Let him notice your new pregnancy glow while you sport an ‘Expecting‘, ‘Pregnant‘, or ‘Bun in the Oven‘ shirt. Those of us who grew up watching the movie Grease will recognize our ‘I Feel Like a Defective Typewriter‘ t-shirt immediately! If you already have children, you can dress them in an ‘I’m Going to be a Big Brother’ t-shirt or an ‘I’m Going to be a Big Sister’ t-shirt.

Dinner and a Present. If food is the way to your man’s heart, then this is the way to go. Wrap up your positive pregnancy test like a little present and present it to him over his favorite meal. If your husband is an outgoing type, take him to his favorite restaurant and have the maitre’d bring the gift to the table after you’ve finished dinner. Your husband can share his jubilation with the patrons and staff, who inevitably will be thrilled for you. Chances are they might even include dessert on the house, you’re eating for two now, so indulge! If you think your husband would prefer a more intimate setting, cook his favorite dinner and set the table with the good china you never have the occasion to use.

Bun in the Oven. Sneak out of bed early one morning and put a batch of cinnamon buns in the oven to bake. Don’t worry about baking these from scratch, the pre-prepared refrigerated ones from your grocery store will do just fine. When your husband wakes up and smells the irresistible aroma announce to him that, “Honey, we’ve got a bun in the oven!”

A Momento. Announce your pregnancy to your husband with a souvenier that he can keep on his desk or dresser. Take a picture of your positive pregnancy test and frame it with the words, “Positive proof that in nine months you will be the best dad around, just wait, you’ll see.”

Start Saving. Is your husband in charge of the family finances? Buy him a piggy bank and put a note around it’s neck that says, “Our Baby’s College Fund — Only 18 years and 9 months to save.” Or even better get him this adorable silver Noah’s Ark Bank that you can inscribe with, “Baby’s College Fund.” Put this on his dresser and wait for him to find it. Don’t be surprised if he comes running to you with a big hug….and a new household budget.

Sweet Tooth. Does your husband have a sweet tooth? Cater to his craving with your special message. Pick up your husband’s favorite Chinese take out and swap out the fortune cookie message with your own message that says, “You will be a dad on xx/xx/xxxx (your due date).” Or have a fun afternoon at the paint-your-own-pottery store and make him an ice cream bowl that says, “You’re going to be a dad!” Fill it up with his favorite ice cream and watch his reaction when he gets to the bottom.

Multi-media Momma. Are you computer saavy? These days making movies and pictures slideshows on your computer is so user friendly, you can even burn your creation on a DVD. Edit together some of your favorite photos and home movies together with the final message announcing your pregnancy and burn it to a DVD. Pop a bowl of popcorn for your husband to eat as he watches his new favorite flick.

No matter how you say it, either with humor, romance, or drama, telling your husband that he’s going to be a dad will no doubt be a memorable event in your life. Good luck and congratulations!

Did you tell your husband, family or friends in a memorable way? I’d love to hear it.

Frugal Friday : A Years Worth of Menu Planning

To anyone who’s talked to me in person in the past year or two has heard my pitch for Saving Dinner. Saving Dinner, the brainchild of Leanne Ely a Certified Nutritional Consultant, offers countless menu planning offers to help you get dinner on the table every night. I first heard about Saving Dinner about three years ago when I was working full time with a one year old and pregnant with another baby. Anything I could find at that time to keep us under budget and to make our lives easier, I was willing to try. Through Flylady, Leanne offered a number of her recipes for free and almost every single one of them became staples in my menu rotation. She not only provides recipes but also detailed shopping lists and tips for making preparation easier, cheaper and more healthy. In fact I made her Garlic Lime Chicken recipe last night for my family and there wasn’t even a bit of leftovers. All four of us cleaned our plates.

So you know when I read my e-mail this morning that she was offering 48 Weeks of her Frugal Menus ebook for only $19.95 (normally $29.95!) plus she was offering her 250 Money Saving Tips (worth $5.95 regularly) e-book for free along with it (Enter code ‘frugal’ when checking out). I couldn’t refuse. I ordered my own copy and it is fantastic. There are 204 pages of weekly menu plans with shopping lists and recipes! The Frugal Menu e-book is divided into four seasons, because as you probably know, one way to eat frugally is to follow the seasons. Each season is filled with both easy and incredible looking recipes.

The recipes that immediately caught my eye were:

  • Grilled Apricol Glazed Chicken
  • Cashew Chicken
  • Basil Burgers
  • Sloppy Joe Pizza
  • Easy Beef and Bean Salsa Burritos
  • Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Bacon Quiche

And then there is the Free 250 Money Saving Tips ebook too. Some of the tips you might already be familiar with but many were new to me. There were recipes for making your own prepared foods like, Stuffing Mix and Thousand Island Dressing among others. She also gives cheaper meat substitutions, for instance, did you know that if a recipes calls for veal cutlets, that you can use the much cheaper turkey cutlets instead? Did you know that on average people who pay for their groceries with a credit or debit card spend 10%-15% more on their grocery bill as opposed to those who pay cash?

Leanne is only offering this great deal until Midnight, January 30th….that’s tonight! So go ahead and order a copy today. If menu planning and making shopping lists is something you struggle with (I do!) then this will  save you an entire years worth of trouble. Or an entire lifetime. You can use these 288 recipes plus shopping lists year after year!

Go order your copy before her sale ends tonight.

Remember Lullabies

When I was pregnant with my first son, I remember having a completely panicked moment that I had forgotten the words to almost every single lullaby. In my momentarily irrational moment, I truly thought I was going to be the worst mother on the planet because I wouldn’t know how to lovingly sing her baby to sleep at night. I did a quick online search and read up on all the classic lullabies and by the time my little boy was born I had a good number of them memorized.

Now it seems like somedays I can’t get these simple songs and melodies out of my head! But if you need a refresher or a full crash course, I’ve created a page with the bulk of the classic lullabies listed here. And just as a sample, here are all the versus to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (did you know that there was more than one verse?).

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkly, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Nursery Inspiration : Phoebe’s Room

As any long time readers to Wee Wonderfuls will remember, this nursery was a labor of love. All of these amazingly crafted doll quilts were made by Hillary and her crafty fans and friends to adorn little Pheobe’s walls. For any of you quilters out there, this might be just the inspiration you were looking for for your baby girl’s nursery. Check out Hillary’s archives to view more photos of this sweet room.

Frugal Friday : Easy Budgeting

When I was pregnant and planning on the finances of having a child and hopefully affording to become a stay at home mom, I decided that I needed to figure out where our money was going each month. I’d heard advice over the years that a great way to get a hold of your finances was to keep track of every dollar you spent for at least three months in a row. Doing that would give you a great overview of exactly how much you made and exactly where that money goes.

Knowing where your money goes each month is really eye-opening. For us, I was truly shocked at how much money we spent on groceries! We are admitted ‘foodies’, but that monthly grocery bill was a little out of hand. Once we were able to see in black and white how much we spent we were easily able to widdle down our grocery bill into a manageable sum. And now we divert that saved money into our savings account. The story held true in many of our other categories as well.

The difficult part of keeping track of our expenses was actually finding a spot to keep track of it all. At first I tried using an actual notebook, which was a great big mess and a pain to add up. Then I tried Quicken, but quickly found that was too complicated and I couldn’t layout my categories like I wanted and print them out as I wanted.

So I decided to be resourceful and I created my own Excel spreadsheet that would add, subtract and divide everything I wanted it to do.

Fast forward four years and I’m still using the same spreadsheet, with a few small updates. I don’t keep track of our expenses every month these days, because I’m familiar with our spending habits, but I do track them every two months or so to make sure we are staying in line.

If you’ve been procrastinating on keeping track of your finances or have been searching for the perfect budget spreadsheet then sign up to receive our free budget spreadsheet! Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’ve been thinking of becoming a stay at home mom read this article to see if you can afford it.

7 Easy Tips for Organizing Your Babies Closet

One of the best kept secrets about motherhood is that keeping your children’s closet organized is a never ending task. In fact at times I feel like a professional closet organizer coming to talk at our childbirth class might have been a helpful thing. Between the changing season, changing sizes, and frequent gifts of clothes, keeping control over your babies closet is difficult. Here are 7 easy tips to help you tame the closet clutter.

1. Stock Up
Buy an ample amount of child sized hangers - you may only have a couple dozen things to hang now, but before long those extra clothes will accumulate and its best to have those extra small hangers on hand now so you don’t end up with messy piles later.

2. Donate/Hand-me-Downs
There are going to be some clothes that you’ll definitely want to save, either for a future sibling or for someone else you know. And then there will be some that you’ll be glad to donate. Make you life easier and your babies closet neater by designating two spots as the ‘Donate’ and ‘Hand me Down’ spot now. You can either use bins or shopping bags for this.

3. Plan for the Next Size Up
If you are pregnant now, I recommend buying at least 4 bins, baskets or boxes (case boxes that diapers come in are a great free option) and labeling them as ‘Newborn’, ‘0-3 Months’, ‘3-6 Months and ‘6-12 Months.’ You will be receiving many clothing gifts as well as doing some shopping yourself and this is a great way to keep them organized. It is also a great system to have in place for outgrown clothes that you may save for a future baby. As your baby grows you can relabel them as ‘2T/Summer’, ‘2T/Winter’ etc.

4. Color Code Your Hangers
Use colored tape to code your hangers. This is handy if you have more hanging space than box storage space. Red could mean ‘current size’, blue could mean ‘next size up’, green ‘two sizes up’.

5. Put Seasonal Things By the Door
If you are tight on closet space, a great space saver is to place a large decorative basket by your front door for seasonal clothing. I keep one by my door filled with scarves, jackets and hats for my little ones for winter and in the summer I swap it out with a basket full of sunhats and light jackets. This not only is convenient, but takes a lot of clutter out of your babies closet as well.

6. Corral the Socks
If you think it is hard to keep track of your socks in the dryer, wait until you have to wash a load full of micro socks. Infant socks are always going missing. If you hang a zip-up mesh lingerie bag on a hook in your babies closet for putting dirty socks in, you’ll be able to keep them all contained and won’t lose a single one.

7. Marking Sock Sizes
I have two small guys socks to keep track of and it’s easy to mix up the sizes. Its especially difficult when you have a lot of the same color socks. Try marking the toe of each size sock with a different color dot of permanent marker. Use the color of the rainbow as your guide. Red (0-6 months), Orange (6-12 months), Yellow, Green, Blue . . . you get the picture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What has helped you to keep your babies closet organized?

Make Your Own Playdough


You may be asking yourself, ‘Why would I ever make playdough when it’s so darn cheap to buy?’ That’s true, but it is even cheaper to make and if your toddler puts everything into his mouth like mine does, you’ll want to make sure that it is completely safe and free of chemicals and toxins. This recipe is not only a cheap way to make playdough, but its all natural, easy and keeps for about 6 months. Give it a try one of these cold, rainy winter days.

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 c. salt
1 c. flour
1 Tb. cream of tartar
1 Tb. oil
1 c. water
food coloring

Combine ingredients in a pot and heat gently while stirring. When it reaches a good playdough-like consistency take it off the stove and let it cool. At this point I divided it into fourths and kneaded in the food coloring. However you could add the food coloring in while it is in the pot and stir well. It keeps 6 months if you keep it in tupperware. Don’t refrigerate.

There’s a Baby in Your Belly

When you are first feeling those tiny little baby movements in your belly you would never guess that those fish like movements could turn into this. But they do. Incredible! It looks like a foot to me, what do you think?