Blog Posts by Jessica

  • I'm An Under-Appreciated Stay-At-Home-Mom, Should I Go Back To Work?

    I've been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 5 years, and like most couples, money is an issue that causes stress in our marriage. We have four kids, ages ten, seven, four, and two. When the first two were young, neither one of us made enough money for one of us to be able to stay home with them. It tore my heart out to leave them at preschool everyday.

    When we only had two kids, and the youngest was three, my husband got a job that made enough money for me to be able to quit my job and stay home with the kids full-time. We had always said that we wanted to be the ones raising our kids not a stranger, they are young for such a short period of time.

    Since then, the number of kids in our family has increased to four (it's never dull in our house!) I'm still a stay-at-home mom, two of the kids are in elementary school, and two are at home with me.

    I've come to a point where I'm feeling that my role in the family is completely under-appreciated. Of course kids don't care that the house is

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  • Bounce Dryer Bar Did NOT Work For Me

    Recently, I've been seeing commercials for the Bounce Dryer Bar on TV. Generally, I don't think sticking a little sheet of fabric softener in the dryer with each load is a big deal, but it looked like a cool new product so I thought I'd give it a try.

    I usually buy Bounce fabric softener sheets, and I'm happy with them, so I assumed I would like the dryer bar too. A pack of the sheets costs less than $3 for 40 sheets (I'll use it up in less than a month), and the dryer bar cost over $7 at Wal-Mart (but it said it would last 4 months.)

    I installed the bar easily. All you do is take the backing off of it, and stick it to the drum of your dryer. I made sure it was securely attached before tossing my load of clean wet clothes inside.

    After 45 minutes, or so, I came back to check on the laundry, and I heard a clunk, clunk, clunk sound from inside the dryer. This is not an unusual sound, my kids are always tossing toys in their laundry baskets. I, being in a rush to do laundry,

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  • User post: 5 cute Christmas decorating ideas for under $5

    I love decorating my house for Christmas. But as much as I would love to just spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on decorations, this is an expensive time of year. Between gifts for the kids, family, teachers, and so on, my budget doesn't leave much room for new decorations.


    Here are 5 cute Christmas decorating ideas for under $5. That way you can decorate your house without breaking the bank!



    Candy Canes In Clear Glasses


    Classic red and white candy canes set into clear glasses placed throughout your house add a little holiday cheer. Candy canes usually only cost $1 for a box of 12, so you can make several arrangements. Just use regular drinking glasses and place the candy canes in with their hooks facing the outside of the glass.



    Tie Pretty Ribbon Into Bows


    For under $2 a spool you can find really cute ribbon at discount and craft stores. Each spool has enough ribbon to make lots of bows. Just tie standard bows (like you tie your shoes) and place them all over the house.

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  • My 5 Favorite Budget-Friendly Stocking Stuffers For Tween Boys

    I have no problem finding stocking stuffers for my daughters (ages 7 and 3.) I can go down the dollar aisle at Target or $.99 Only and find cute lip gloss, coloring books, jewelry, little stuffed animals, and stickers and my girls will love it all! When I try to find small gifts for my 10 year old son, I find the pickings are pretty slim.
    Our Christmas budget is always tight, so while I know people who stuff their kids' stockings with iTunes gift cards and cash (things my son would love!), I have to get a little more creative. Here are my top 5 favorite stocking stuffers for boys (over the age of 8.)





    1. Little Lego sets.
    I like to buy them when they're on a "buy one get one 1/2 off sale" at Toys R Us.
    2. Nerf darts. We have a bazillion Nerf guns, and I'm constantly finding Nerf darts around my house. He always loves having more ammo for his Nerf battles.
    3. Matchbox Cars. Fortunately, boys of all ages seem to love these things. They cost under $1, and they always have a ton of

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  • User post: Why Not A Potluck Thanksgiving?

    I had only been married for a year when we moved out of state, away from my family. Being a young couple, we didn't have much money, so travelling back to visit my family for Thanksgiving was not a possibility. For the first time, we spent Thanksgiving with my husband's extended family.

    My family is fairly small. It was just me, my parents, and my brother. My grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles are spread across the country, so Thanksgiving was usually just my immediate family. On the contrary, my husband comes from a large extended family (40+ cousins!) and most of them live within an hours drive of one another. Needless to say, their Thanksgiving was different from the one I was used to celebrating.

    Besides all the people, the biggest difference between my husband's family's Thanksgiving and my family's Thanksgiving was the food. The basic meal was the same: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and so on, BUT one family wasn't responsible for all of it. Every family

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  • The Crazy (Expensive) World Of Competitive Kids' Sports

    Yesterday I went to the bank to get checks to pay for my son's soccer uniform and tournament fees (he plays club soccer.) The check for the uniform was $339 and the check for the next 2 tournaments was for $200. Jonathan the teller said, "Wow! That's a lot of money for soccer!" I snorted, "Well, that's on top of what we've already spent this month. There's the $300 for coaching fees, gas for 3 weekly practices and weekend games, and fast food and coffee for when we're at those games. Oh, and did I mention my son is 9?" The teller's mouth dropped. I just smiled. It's a common reaction from people, I've noticed. Apparently everyone doesn't know about competitive kids' sports.

    I grew up in a small town, but y parents found all sorts of things for my brother and I to do. We attended art classes, piano lessons, and played every sport under the sun. I was also a competitive gymnast and a dancer. But, my gym was small and while adequate, it was by no means one of the best. I grew too tall to

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  • Simple Way To 'Green' Clean A Slow Faucet Or Shower Head

    Here in Arizona, aside from hot summers and mild winters, we have NOTORIOUSLY hard water. That basically means that our water has a high mineral content. The hard water is full of calcium, magnesium sulfates, and chlorides. They have a tendency to build up in the water faucets causing them to run slow or spray in awkward directions.

    The good news is that slow running faucets can be cleaned the GREEN way. There's no need for harsh chemicals. With just a few simple steps, your faucet or shower head will flow like new.

    Supplies
    Vinegar
    Zip top bag
    Rubber band

    Steps
    1. Fill the zip top bag half way with plain white vinegar.
    2. Cover the faucet or shower head with the vinegar bag.
    3. Attach the bag to the faucet or shower head with the rubber band
    4. Allow to soak for several hours or overnight.
    There's no reason to throw out that slow running faucet or shower head. Once you've soaked it in the vinegar, it will work like new! Just another easy way to "go green."

    For more cool

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  • User post: How To Eat A Pomegranate

    Autumn is prime pomegranate season. We all know their health benefits (full of antioxidants, vitamins C and B5, and potassium) and that we should be eating. Compared to say, an apple or an orange, eating a pomegranate can seem intimidating. You don't just bite right into it and you don't just peel it either. The good news is, it takes just a few simple steps and you can enjoy a pomegranate too.


    1. Score the pomegranate with a knife from the flowery stem end all around then break it open.
    2. Place the pomegranate halves in a cool bowl of water and let it sit for 5 minutes
    3. Use your fingers to separate the red arils (the seed that you eat) from the white rind. (The arils will sink and the rind will float)
    4. Throw away the rind
    5. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the arils and allow to dry on a paper towel.
    6. Enjoy!

    The tart and sweet fruit makes a great snack and your kids will think it's something fun and different.

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  • User post: Pretty Polka Dot Party Cake

    I grew up eating cakes made from cake mixes, and I still love them. But when I want to make something special, I take a little more time to make my cakes from scratch. It's not difficult, it just takes a little more work. Your homemade cake will taste great, and you get to leave out all the preservatives and trans fats found in a store bought cake or mix.

    This Polka Dot Party Cake is great for birthdays, baby showers, school bake sales, and office parties. Just by changing the colors of the dots, you can customize your cake to fit your occasion. I am certainly not a professional cake decorator, but even I was able to make this cake look cute.


    Ingredients

    Cake:
    2 sticks (1 cup) room temperature butter
    2 cups granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/4 cups whole milk

    Frosting:
    2 sticks (1 cup) room temperature butter
    1 pound powdered sugar
    1/4 teaspoon of salt
    1/4 cup of whole milk
    1

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  • 3 Cute Thanksgiving Crafts For Kids

    Now that Halloween is over, we can pack up the ghosts and goblins and bring out the turkeys. My kids love to do crafts. Since they're young, I like to keep it simple enough to keep them interested from start to finish. Keeping it age appropriate will ensure that the kids will get to do the crafts and you won't have to do it for them.
    You probably have all of these supplies at home already, so these projects are fun AND budget friendly.

    Classic Turkey Hand

    Supplies
    White paper
    Pencil
    Safety scissors
    Crayons

    Instructions
    Have your child trace the outline of their hand on the white paper. Have them color the palm brown, draw a turkey face on the thumb, and color each of the fingers a different color.

    Autumn Leaves Print
    Supplies
    Autumn leaves
    Non-toxic paint in orange, yellow, brown, and red
    White or green construction paper
    School glue
    4 plates

    Instructions
    Take your kids on a walk around the neighborhood to gather colorful autumn leaves. Each child should bring home 6 to 8

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