Friday, December 5, 2008

Sandwich bread success

I've been on a quest for a great sandwich bread recipe for my Zojirushi. Mark and I love our Zojirushi. It was totally worth the investment. He's usually the bread baker in the house. We(he) regularly make(s) dough for dinner rolls and pizza dough. We've made naan, cinnamon rolls, sandwich bread, jam, pretzels, and more. Our issues with sandwhich bread include over-baked, too-dense, and sometimes even bland loaves. I prefer wheat bread which is more challenging in the breadmaker. Before picking up Sissy from school and Bud from the bustop, I started a loaf in the breadmaker. It was a white bread using a recipe from Annie's Eats and a custom bread cycle recommended by Berlin's Whimsy. Wow, these recommendations really delivered. My mother enjoyed the bread with butter and strawberry preserves. Sissy devoured it with butter. Bud enjoyed it plain. They couldn't get enough. I finally had to cut them off.

With a successful loaf under my belt, I'm on a mission to make a good loaf of wheat sandwich bread. I have vital wheat gluten to try, but dough enhancer has been more elusive. I checked Whole Foods, Ellwood Thompson's, and Good Foods Grocery. Good Foods used to carry it. Used to. Bah. A little research online and I was ready to fork over the money to have some shipped. Then, I stumbled across a recipe for Ellen's Bread Dough Enhancer. I think I've found the ingredients locally. I need to double check the diastatic malt powder. I'll leave out the gelatin for sure. More on this one later...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Under Pressure

Years ago, a friend originally from France cooked dinner for us one evening in a pressure cooker. I was intrigued at how quick and tasty the meal was. A also have a friend from India who extolled the efficiency and effectiveness of the pressure cooker (this is the same friend who sold me on the rice cooker). I've read about them ever since.

I went into Macy's on Black Friday with Mark with the intention of picking up some work shirts for him using the $10 off $25 purchase. We picked up the shirts and walked through housewares. There it sat in a green box. A shiny, basic pressure cooker for $20. It was mine. This past week, I've been searching online for pressure cooking recipes. I found Miss Vickie's. A treasure trove of information about pressure cooking.

Two nights ago I soaked a pound of black beans overnight. Yesterday, I sauteed some chopped onion in the bottom of the pressure cooker, tossed in the beans, and poured in six cups of water. After heating up on the burner for a few minutes, steam started to stream out. I set a timer for 12 minutes. I pulled the cooker to a cool burner after the timer went off, choosing the "natural release" option. When I opened the cooker, I had 6 cups of tasty, cooked black beans in approximately 20 minutes instead of 2 hours. The beans were well cooked and did not get mushy. My mom was over so she taste tested for me. Two thumbs up. Sissy asked for some, too. "Yum." I transferred them over to fridge and freezer storage. I now have fresh cooked black beans at the ready. I think I'll try chick peas today. I'm working my way through the bean category before I attempt a meal.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Little man has a nickname. Our oldest is Bud. We started using "Bud" when he was itty bitty. Sissy was "Sissy" before she came home from the hospital. Little man's name came a little later. Sure we called him Little Man, but it wasn't until last week that his the new nickname stuck. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we had Family Dedication at church. A gentleman from church came to find us after the service and asked how we chose Little Man's name. He had a friend who had passed 30 years earlier with the same name who went by "Butch". My husband explained that the middle name was my maiden name and that all of our children share the same middle name. It was very interesting. Just the name of our son triggered fond memories for this man. I thought, "hmmm... Butch..." I pondered it for a day or two. No, I wasn't feeling it. But, Mark started calling Little Man "Awesome". Yes, a la Captain Awesome on "Chuck". And it's sticking. So now our entourage is Bud, Sissy, and Awesome. For now anyways.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Upside Down Pizza Pie

Bud liked it and asked to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Sissy wouldn't try it. I thought it was great. Mark is working late so we'll get his verdict later.

Upside-Down Pizza Pie

  • 1 bag of crumbles
  • 15 oz of Newman's Own Tomato and Basil Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • drop biscuits

Recipe for drop biscuits:
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter -- softened
1/4 cup milk -- or more if needed
Measure flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add butter to bowl and rub butter into flour with a fork or pastry blender. Add milk to make a thick batter, stirring only until dough sticks together.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat up the crumbles with the sauce in a skillet. If you prefer ground beef, brown 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef then add sauce and heat through. Pour crumbles and sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9" x 13" casserole. Spread cheese evenly across the mixture. Evenly space the drop biscuits over the mixture and cheese. Bake, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Casseroles.

Menu Plan Monday

Mark and I sat down last night and talked about the meals for the week. We've been threatening to do this for a long time and finally followed through. I have an overwhelming need to bring order to our home before I go back to work this January. And yes, a household planner is in the works.

mac n cheese
upside down pizza pie
wild card
spaghetti and "meat"balls
corn bread casserole

I play volleyball on Tuesdays so it was suggested that dinner be an easy one since Mark will be alone with all three kids.
The mac n cheese is a favorite around here and goes together quick in the rice cooker. Wednesday is church night so we generally do something quick and just me and the kids. The pizza is Mark's specialty. We are all very spoiled by his home made pizza. Pizza almost any where else is just disappointing. Thanks to Trader Joe's, the kids have discovered meatballs. Lucky for me, they like the veggie meatballs just as well as the others. I use crumbles for anything that calls for ground beef. Thursday, Mark is alone with the 2 older children. I will be headed over to my friend's house for some amazing Indian food with other friends. Awesome will be with me.

Head on over to Org Junkie for more of Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Huge sale at Polkatots and Whatnots extended through Cyber Monday

This sale like no other we've done. Our largest sale ever will start Thanksgiving morning and run through **Monday** night or until supplies last whichever comes first. All sale items have limited quantities. We will be doing everything can we can to update inventory as things sell. If an item is oversold, we will alert you as soon as possible to give you the opportunity to change your order. Free shipping on orders of $100 or more using "freeship100". Feel free to share the sale info and free shipping code with friends and family

Check it out at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Love Chocolate

Oh, my!

Magic in the Middles from the King Arthur Flour Blog. These are on the to do list.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Once a month isn't so bad...

Time flies doesn't it? September and October were a wild ride. State Fair, National Alpaca Day, Apple Festival, birthday parties, birthdays, choir and mission friends in full swing, volleyball, ballet, and I could go on. And then there's Facebook. Thanks, hubby.

Little man is 3 1/2 months old and getting so big.
Sissy loves ballet class. Bud is reading (If You Give a Moose a Muffin...).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reading is Fun!

Bud is really great with numbers. He can add and subtract quite well. He'll read some things, but doesn't realize he's reading. Until now. He's been in school just over 2 weeks and it clicked. We've been sounding out words and reading together forever. He was reading some, but didn't have any confidence that he was actually reading. Well, this morning, he picked up DVD case and sounded out a phrase on the case. It's not a common movie, much less a common phase, but he sounded it out and read it. I'm so excited for him!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The tooth fairy came to visit last night

Bud has been wiggling a front bottom tooth for over a month. Yesterday, it finally came out. He came running up to show it to me. Daddy and I have had to chuckle since Bud hasn't figured out how to talk without a lisp with the tooth gone. I can still clearly remember having the same struggle when I was his age. We went into the sewing room last night and he picked out a tooth fairy pillow.

He starts Kindergarten next week. Two milestones right in a row.


I think she has seen a little too much Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Skunk. We don't even have cable (and no antennae) so she's only seen Kung Fu Skunk at her Nana's and Pop Pop's. I was upstairs nursing the baby when Bud came upstairs to report that Sissy had given herself stripes. I asked him to send her up. He responded, "she's already coming up." He turned his back to me as Sissy breached the steps to my room crawling and growling. That's when I realized why he hadn't come sooner. He didn't notice that she was striping herself with a black Sharpie until she went to work on him. The back of his neck had stripes on it. Oh, and a spot on his ear, too. I think that happened when he turned his head to see what she was up to. So, I asked Sissy about her stripes. She quickly explained, "I'm a white tiger." She brought me the marker and said she understood she wasn't to draw on anything other than paper. We'll see...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Best label supplier

We love for our shipping labels. No more cutting paper and taping! They also have great circle labels to make your own stickers for promotions,too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Give away at Old Red Barn Company

Another blog I frequent, Old Red Barn Company, is hosting a giveaway through Wednesday, July 23.
Win a quilt at
The quilt is absolutely beautiful! I also have to say that the playlist on her blog is fabulous. I left her blog open in a tab while I was online for some background music. Head on over and check it out.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The little man is here

I went to the OB last Friday and ended up in Labor and Delivery for observation again. After 4 hours, my doctor decided I should have the baby. My blood pressure was staying high. I called D at 2p and told him we were shooting for 4:30p. Little man arrived at 5:35p. He spent 4hrs 15 min in the NICU due to fluid in his lungs he was having difficulty clearing. He was off the oxygen pretty quickly. It was heart wrenching not to hold him on the way back to L&D from the OR. At 10p, he was finally brought to me. He latched on and nursed for the first time. He's been going strong since.

July 11, 2008, 5:35p
6lbs 12.7oz 21 1/4" long

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bed Rest Stinks

I've been on bed rest since last Thursday. My blood pressure is up. Not as bad as I've seen it, but it does spike up every so often. I spent a few hours in the hospital on Thursday while they monitored me. I was discharged with clear orders from the doctor, "BED REST". The nurse who cared for me suggested I go home and get everything done this weekend. Or more specifically, "tell everyone that is going to help you what you need done this weekend". I asked if she could write that on the discharge papers. Pretty good advice considering there was a chance they were going to deliver the baby that day.

I can work as long as I'm on my left side in bed. With only 4 days left until my official transition out of work, I think work is in good shape. I'm shadowing the person taking over for me during my leave these 4 days. I go back to the doctor tomorrow afternoon. We'll see where we go from there. As of now, I'm scheduled for July 25.

I have watched more t.v. online and more movies than I have in the past year. I've caught up on all of the magazines that have been piling up around here. I feel like I've surfed to the end of the internet. I'm posting away on my forums. I've even asked for the shredder to be brought up so I can shred some junk mail. (I'll have to remind Daddy about that!) I've pinned some burps for the baby. I pulled out all the burps I used for Bud and Sissy. Any burps not previously embellished are getting a little spiffing up. I will say that I don't enjoy cutting with scissors. I prefer my rotary cutter and ruler at my cutting table. Ah, my sewing machine... I do miss you. Yes, I realize it's only been 3 days.

Daddy made the weekly pilgrimage yesterday to the Farmer's Market for our CSA share. I was so excited they had watermelons! Man, that watermelon is tasty! The cabbage is slowing down (his favorite) as are the salad greens. The new potatoes and red skin potatoes are in. Tonight D is making roasted new potatoes. He got there around 10a so I'm sure he missed some goodies. I got an email today saying that green beans, butter beans, and edamame are coming soon. Woo hoo! Can't wait. I wonder if I can get D to the market on Thursday. My one Thursday trip really rocked. It helped that I got there when they opened.

I'm a guest blogger over at today. Check it out.

Oh, and if you have any ideas for entertainment during bed rest, I'm open to ideas.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!!

I'm not quite sure how I landed on this blog, but oh what beautiful dresses! Grosgrain has bi-weekly giveaways. Sissy would flip over this dress. Polkadots!

Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Win a Babywearing Stash

Along for the Ride is based out of Charlottesville, VA. We (Polkatots and Whatnots) were a couple booths down from them at a Baby Expo in Richmond a couple years ago. They had a great selection of babywearing options. With Bud, I used a Snugli. With Sissy, I learned the wonders of the fleece pouch ( With the little man on the way, I'm going to start with a hand made wrap. I'm sure we'll use the pouch as the weather begins to cool, but we are months away from cooler weather here. My sister and G-man are currently loving the Hotsling. I'm a big fan of babywearing. A friend on my mom's network alerted me to this awesome giveaway that Along for the Ride is running and I had to share.

Win the Essential Babywearing Stash from Along for the Ride (one Beco Butterfly, one Hotsling baby pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Zolowear Ring Sling, and one Gypsy Mama Wrap)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goodies for the G-man

Things have been crazy busy around here and are only going to get busier. My sister had a little boy over a month ago- G-man. Oh, he's a cutie!

It will be a a while before we get to see him in person. I'm just about a month away from my scheduled date. I'm not taking off any time from work to save up for my maternity leave. Work is very busy as my transition date approaches. I've managed to squeeze in some time to sew for G-man and my little man on the way. I made G-man booties, matching pants, a matching appliqu├ęd one-piece, two oversized flannel receiving blankets, and monogrammed wall art to match his nursery. I can't wait to see him decked out. Here are some of the goodies:

I can finally post this since my sister received the package! Now, I just need a pic of the little guy all decked out!

What we did in May

Bud and Sissy both played soccer this spring season. Ever Saturday, we got up bright and early to head out to the soccer fields. Bud's game was first and if we were lucky, Sissy's game didn't start until after Bud's was finished. Bud had fun and enjoyed himself from the get go. He always had a smile on his face.

Sissy was a bit more reserved. The first day she would only kick the ball on the sidelines with daddy. The next couple weeks were mostly more of the same. Her coaches were great and talked to her and even got her to get on the field for a short while. Then, one day she said, "I'm going to play soccer with my friends." That was all she wrote. Sissy turned out to be quite the little soccer player. (And, yes she did cut her hair again!)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yummy cheddar crackers!

I ran across this blog today that has awesome cookie and snack recipes. I thought this one would be fun and easy with the kids:

It was simple to throw in the food processor. I measured, Bud dumped the ingredients into the bowl. Bud and Sissy took turns pulsing the mix. After chilling, I rolled out the dough. They took turns picking a cookie cutter shape and pressing into the dough. Once the cookies cooled down, I gave them each a carrot shaped cracker, Daddy tried one and quickly snatched a second before I could stop him. Two thumbs up all around. I'll be sending them to school for snack or lunch. The only change I made was bread flour instead of all purpose. I can't wait to try more recipes from this blog!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring Sale at Polkatots and Whatnots

Polkatots and Whatnots is having a first ever Puddle Jumper Shoes Sale! All Puddle Jumpers are 25% off or more. Hurry and save on the adorable shoes. Limited sizes and quantities available. Also on the Sales page, there are some new items listed- bags galore!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Clothing swap and pants for the little man...

I participated in a clothing swap this past Saturday. My closet was getting harder and harder to fit things in when I was trying to put clothes away. I knew there were some great pieces that someone would really enjoy. I pulled out quite a few items and managed to overflow a XL laundry basket. I had a large shopping bag full of shoes and purses as well. I headed to my friends house where I added my goodies to a large walk-in closet full of clothes arranged by size. Another friend who couldn't make it dropped off some maternity pants and shorts and the hostess had 2 huge tubs of maternity that I was welcome to borrow. With the clothes from my previous pregnancies and these new to me items, I certainly won't need to buy any maternity clothes! I've only bought 1 top this go round and I still manage to look stylish (enough!). Fortunately, I can mix and match some maternity and non-maternity in my wardrobe.
When everyone had finished their shopping, I headed into the closet to see what was left. I pulled out some of my items remaining and started "selling". Sometimes it's hard to picture something on when you see it on the hanger. I pulled items out and targeted them based on fit/size/style to the other ladies. I only came home with 5 pieces!

At the end, we still had a bunch in the closet. Everyone was going to stuff a few bags each to cart off to Goodwill. That's when I put on another lens. I spotted some long corduroy skirts and asked if anyone would be upset if they were refashioned. I could get a pair of pants or 2 out of the fabric for my little man on the way. I ended up with 3 long skirts to refashion. I'm going to go through my Burda magazines and Ottobre magazine and find some patterns. Then, I spotted some well worn t-shirts. I saw comfy knit pants. Someone else pulled out a halter top. I told my friend Tiffany that she should shirr the back and make it into a top for her 4 year old daughter. She laughed and said she'd take it back home (it was hers) and try it out. I found a couple more t-shirts to make into pants. I double-checked that it was okay to refashion. Everyone seemed fine with the idea, so I added them to my basket of goodies.

Sunday afternoon after church, lunch, and a nap, I slipped down to my sewing room and made these:

I took advantage of the hem that already existed which made these super speedy to put together.

The black and white stripe are supposed to be 6m and the red and navy are supposed to be 3m. Since I serged them, I probably didn't remove all of the seam allowance. I also left extra length since I didn't use the facing for the cuff. I wanted to be a little generous in the seat to accommodate a cloth diaper. I have a feeling these are more like 12m and 6m. I went ahead and put the elastic in keeping it and just sewed it to my estimated length. I will adjust when they are ready to be worn if need be. I have 2 more t-shirts to refashion. One shirt has great slits on the side that I want to preserve for the outside of the leg. The other has sleeves. I think I'll get a pair of pants and a pair of pj bottoms out of that one! Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's been a while

I've said it before, and I will say it again- time flies. It's been busy around here! I feel terrible when this much time passes without a post. I finally get to pick up my completed business taxes today when Daddy goes to get his business taxes done. You would think after 3 years of last minute tax prep, I'd have followed through on my desire to finish it up early. I could provide a litany of really good reasons, but it doesn't take away the stress! I will say that I have everything up to date in our accounting system for this year so far. Once I finalized tax prep, I was motivated to get a jump start for 2008. You gotta work it when you can!

Besides tax prep, the children, the full-time job, and orders for the business, I have managed to do a little sewing for the family. I completed a couple projects that had been sitting on my sewing table for an embarrassingly long time. First up, a shirred waist skirt for Sissy.

She has worn this little skirt so many times already. She does wear it out with more than this little t-shirt. Ignore the scrap paper on the floor and our Roomba in the background! She wouldn't pose for a picture until Daddy tempted her with a photo shoot. Then, she twirled, posed, and did a little strut.

I finished a pair of boxers, but have to find my other camera to post that picture. I started them for Bud, but it took so long for me to finish them they don't fit him. Sissy can wear them and posed for a picture. Our little guy on the way this summer will get to wear them eventually. They are made out of a vintage looking cowboy print.

I have also finally started some sewing for our new little guy. So far, I've managed to make some cloth wipes and hemp fleece pre-folds to add to our cloth diaper stash. Here's a sample:

And a little something else I accomplished, comfy knit pants:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sugar Rush

Today is NaNa's in NC's birthday. Daddy has been itching to make a cake (woo hoo!) and thought it an appropriate occasion to do so. Unfortunately for NaNa, she will only get to enjoy the pictures. Any guesses on who "cleaned" up the edges of the plate? After we ate dinner, we first took turns taking swipes at the spatula covered with chocolate icing. When that was gone, there was a little on the rim of the plate...

It was really too late to be feeding the kids chocolate cake with chocolate icing. At least it's the weekend.

Hilarity ensued. Sissy was laughing like Beavis. Daddy alluded to this. Bud didn't understand the reference. Luckily, I caught Daddy before he mentioned the actual name of the show "Beavis and Butthead". You can't say "butt" around here if you know what I mean. We have a "no potty talk" rule.

Notice Sissy dancing around in the background of Bud's picture?

And yes, the cake rocked!

Friday, February 29, 2008

The scissors fasincation and the mullet

Sissy has a fascination with scissors. She actually snuck a pair in her bag from preschool the other day. She showed them to me on Wednesday before dinner. She had taken them on Tuesday. But that's not when it happened. Yesterday, yesterday around 6p. That's when it happened. Sissy had been watching Signing Times on the Tivo while I took a call for work. She paused the show and wandered off. After about 15 minutes, I headed down to find her. She came running up to me. It was a bit dark in the kitchen. Her hair was all matted against her head. "Sissy, have you been playing in water?" "No..." she said as she put her hands to her head and took off running. "Sissy, come here!" She ran off and walked back to me and presented me with a pair of my scissors. Scissors that had been in a drawer in my sewing room. "I did this", she said as she handed me the scissors. I flipped the light switch on. "Oh, my heavens!" She was covered with hair. Long beautiful strands of hair. She took the scissors to her hair. It was chopped short in the back. Three bald spots. I was so upset. I cried and cried. I called Daddy who was on his way home. Thankfully, he didn't laugh. She said she didn't know why she did it. I know why. She loves how scissors work. I let her use her scissors on my fabric and ribbon scraps while I sew. She loves picking out scraps, cutting them, and pasting them. I'm surprised I didn't find her with the glue stick decorating paper with her hair, quite frankly.

After Daddy arrived, I composed myself and headed to a meeting for my mommies group. I was late and red eyed from crying. I shared the horror I had experienced and cried once again. Everyone was so sweet. I've laughed a little about it today and cried a little more. Bad mommy. My scissors. I wasn't with her. I could go on. But I remind myself, it will grow back.

Here's the picture I snapped of the mullet she styled herself. We had just arrived at the salon. Holly was assessing the situation.

Holly was so sweet. I told her to try to "stack" it in the back and do a bob. The ladies in the salon all gathered around to see. Miss Yu even interrupted her standing Friday appointment to come assess the situation. Celestine's jaw dropped. (I've know Miss Yu for almost 30 years and Celestine a good 20.)Holly worked hard. Fine, thin hair is not terribly easy to layer. But Holly managed to create a style.

Here's Sissy's first sassy haircut.

Miss Yu's client shared a story of how her 3 year old and 5 year old grandchildren had cut each other's hair. Another woman shared a story of how she'd smeared lipstick all of the wall and her mother never stopped telling the story. Everyone was so supportive. Sissy says she understands that she is never to use scissors without Mommy or Daddy around (or Nana or her teachers). She also said she won't cut her own hair again. I can only hope...

Tatoo removal success

I successfully removed Gracie's head tattoo! There is still a very faint mark, but I figure we can do another "facial" later. Here's what I did, I applied the Acne Free and left it over night under a small lamp. The next morning, Daddy asked if Gracie was at the spa. Then, he noticed that the pen was almost gone. He was amazed. Since the stuff I had was a bit runny, I thought I'd try something a little more pasty. I remember having some Cascade plastic cleaner and applied that. After the second treatment that only lasted 2 hours, I wiped away the cleaner and the pen was almost completely gone. Daddy barely noticed it. Yay! I'll have to add a pic later.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gracie's tattoo removal

I finally Goodsearched the right phrase and found a suggestion to use 10% benzoil peroxide to remove ink from a doll. Turns out, it's a fairly common occurence. I had some Acne Free with 3.75% benzoil peroxide, so we are giving it a go. Gracie is now under a lamp with her head slathered in acne treatment. Here's hoping...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gracie gets a dress

I have a dress I've been wanting to make Sissy from a Japanese book on Girl's clothes. I decided to do a sample and sketched out a smaller version for her Corolle Doll Gracie. It's not perfect by any means, but I definitely have some ideas on the best way to construct the dress for Sissy. Now to choose the fabric! I'm still not sure if I'm going to try to do it reversible like Gracie's dress. I don't love the fabric for Gracie's dress. I have a few bolts of quilting cotton I bought cheaper than muslin. I think it does look cute on.

Sissy isn't a huge fan of pictures. After she saw a couple she was willing to pose one more time.

Yes, Gracie has a lazy eye and a pen tatoo on her head. The lazy eye comes from Sissy smearing Boudreaux's Butt Paste all over her head one day. I cleaned Gracie up with q-tips and washcloths. The pen was actually from 2 different days. Gracie really needs a trip though the spin cycle. Did you know that Corolle dolls can be washed on the gentle cycle in a washing machine? I don't know if this will get the pen off. Anyone know any ideas on what will take pen off a doll? No magic erasers though, I don't want to damage her skin!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


After breaking out the bread machine this summer, we began to rely on the humble little machine for making dough for bread. Daddy is pretty famous in our family for making some fabulous pizza dough. The problem was that it was a long, arduous process until we realized we could use the bread maker. Daddy quickly became the bread machine expert. However, he could not attain the perfect sliceable bread. After much research online, I determined the only way we were (he was) going to attain the perfect sliceable bread was to upgrade our vertical loaf bread machine. I had read about the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker and even heard glowing reviews of the machine by a couple of moms on my mom's network. So, we invested. With 20% Bed Bath & Beyond coupon in hand, we loaded the kids and took a trip over to the store. They didn't have them in stock, but offered to order it for us. No instant gratification. I did save 20% off of the hefty $199.99 price tag. However, I had to pay for shipping. The Zojirushi arrived by the end of the week. I opened the package to take a peek and left it for Daddy to pull it all out.

He had the "Z" running almost as soon as he got it out of the box. We had homemade pizza that night. The next day, he made soft pretzels and SLICEABLE bread! The features on the "Z" are amazing. We didn't know what we were missing out on before. He runs it during the week and overtime on the weekends. This morning I told my son to run downstairs and tell Daddy to make cinnamon buns in the breadmaker. He was reading on and didn't want to budge. But, in a very short while, I heard the mixer running. Daddy came upstairs carrying 2 beaters covered in sugary goodness giving one to Bud and one to me. My telepathy skills are improving! This is what he made:

Oh my! The picture does not do these justice. Moist, sweet, delectable... These are the best cinnamon buns I've ever had.

So, yes, the Zojirushi was a fabulous investment!

The Budding Fashionista

Sissy aka "Little Miss Independence" has always been a "I do it myself" kinda girl. Lately, that has involved dressing herself more and more. Here's a little number she pulled together herself. You can't tell from the picture, but the shirt is on backwards. It has blue studs all down the front (or back if you put it on like Sissy). Daddy caught her as she was running out the back door to go play in 45 degree weather! He got quite the chuckle and had to snap a picture. To honor her independence, I suggested that she simply pull on a pair of leggings under her skirt, add socks and shoes, and a winter coat. Meltdown averted!

Bud and George

Bud is in pre-k this year. He made the cut off to go to Kindergarden this year, but we decided on pre-k. Last year when we were making the decision, he told us that he was not ready for Kindergarden and wanted to go to pre-K. That cinched it for us. He's had such a great time with his pre-K "All stars" group. Several of his classmates he's been with for years now. Sissy loves that he is in pre-k, too. She gets to go to the same school and see him when they are out on the playgrounds.

Each week there is a new "All Star", the child is featured on the bulletin board, has a parent come in to read a book to the class, and at the end of the week, bring home Curious George. When the all-star returns to George to school on Monday, they send in a story and a picture. Curious George has been making these trips for at least 5 years now. His book is quite impressive.

Here's Ian's story. These are his own words. I was merely the typist.

"George and I went on a big adventure, a long, long way away. While we were on our adventure, we watched “Shrek the Third” on the way and “Babe” on the way home. We also got snacks and balloons at Trader Joe’s on our adventure after eating dinner at Ruby Tuesday‘s. We got home very late and he was asleep. I didn’t want to wake him up.

On Saturday, he sat at the table and ate breakfast with me. He ate a pretend banana. He wanted more and more. He ate all the pretend bananas I had! He was still hungry and tried to eat a banana pillow. Then, George got to meet Triceratops. George was scared of Triceratops. He thought Triceratops was going to growl at him. George and I played all kinds of games including video games. He had a hard time because he couldn’t move the controller very well. My daddy helped us build a HUGE tower with my magnetic toys. We had so much fun. We were very tired at the end of the day and snoozed all night.

Sunday we played with my transformer in mommy’s room. We went outside and played. We got on the swings. My sissy pushed George around in her stroller. George rode in my Jeep with me. We rode in the back yard and even went in the front yard! We had so much fun."

Our long, long way away was about 2 1/2 hours up and 2 1/2 hours back. But it was definitely an adventure.

Another review at Pink with Sparkles

I'm a little late mentioning this, but Dawn over a Pink with Sparkles did another review of Polkatots and Whatnots recently. She featured our matching hairbows and belts in "Perfectly Preppy for the Resort". It is so hard to find belts for children smaller than a size 4. Our small hairbows coordinate with the ribbons we offer as well. Even little girls with peach fuzz can coordinate! While she just mentioned the girly girl stuff, we have ribbon belts for boys ,too! Here's Bud sporting one of his ribbon belts, monogrammed shirt, and monogrammed back pack from a photo shoot we did this past summer. This is my favorite picture of Bud. It truely captures his essence.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

And the Winner is...

In the wee hours of the morning, I headed over to to generate the winning number for the Polkatots and Whatnots Giveaway. The tool quickly spit back "50". Lesha was the 50th comment and is the winner of the bag. The bag will be on its way later today. I wasn't the only one awake in the wee hours this morning! Congratulations, Lesha! I hope you enjoy your bag.

Thanks to everyone who participated. It was fun to read all of the comments about everyone's favorite products. Keep checking back here and at Polkatots and Whatnots, as we will be adding new products. Just a little preview, we are adding a a line of great artwork, some new bags for mom and kids, a monogrammed straw cup, and even monogrammed coffee mugs for mom. On the cloth diaper front we are adding pre-fold diapers, diaper fluff pail deodorizer, and more. We'll try to add to the website as the stock arrives.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Polkatots and Whatnots Giveaway

Shannon over at Bloggy Giveaways is hosting a Bloggy Giveaway Carnival! How fun! We at Polkatots and Whatnots thought it was so great we've are participating.

The giveaway:

Enter to win this fun animal print bag. It can be used as a diaper bag, an everday bag, or even to carry a laptop!

How to enter:

Take a visit over to and look around. Return to this blog and comment on this post telling me what you would buy if you had $50 to spend any way you want on the site. Please follow the guidelines as comments not following the guidelines will be deleted. One comment entry per person. Duplicate comments will be deleted.


On Friday, February 1st at 11:59 PM EST 2008, comments will close and a winner will be selected using a random number generator. The winner will be posted on Saturday, February 2nd.


This giveaway is open to bloggers and non bloggers for US shipping addresses only. The winner will be notified on Saturday, February 2nd via email. The winner will have 4 days to respond with a shipping address. (Don't forget to check your Spam/Bulk folders.) If I don't receive the information within the time frame, another winner will be chosen by random number.


I will not use your or share your email information in any way. You will not be added to any mailing list or anything of the sort. **Edited to add: Please don't include your email as part of your comments. I can't control the privacy in that instance.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

Want more?

You can save 20% now on select bags (animal print bag, black with white polkadot bag, polkadot bag, or basic bag) using code bd-10pdb during checkout. Hurry, this offer is only good while supplies last!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Free Colgate Travel Bag

When I was clipping coupons a couple weekends ago, I noticed a url at the bottom of the Colgate insert for a Free Colgate Travel Bag. I finally went to the website to print out my form.

"Spend $15.00 on any of these participating Colgate-Palmolive products and you can get a FREE carry bag worth $25.00. Inside you will find sample size products and valuable coupons. All you have to do is complete the form below and click Submit. After you have submitted your information you will be able to print and mail in your form. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. Offer valid while supplies last. "

This looks like a great freebie. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pink with Sparkles

Dawn over at Pink with Sparkles reviews "exlusively girl products and ideas". She contacted us recently about featuring our Monogrammed Towel Wraps for Girls. Check out her post for January 9th to read more. She mentions the ladies towel wraps, too.

We even have this style in girl's sizes! While your there, be sure to check out all of the wonderful girly stuff she has reviewed!

For those of you thinking, "That's great, but I have a boy." Don't worry, we have monogrammed towel wraps for boys, too! We offer boys towel wraps trimmed in white. We'll have a new picture up soon. Bud loves his towel wrap. I love that it keeps his "bits" covered when he gets out of the shower!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Online printables

I just checked my email account I use for special offers and promotions. I received a link to a $2.00 printable for Post Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal Chocolate Clusters. From this page, scroll down and you will see the button to click to print your own. You do need the coupon printer installed, but it takes just a couple minutes. Not sure what to think about this flavor yet, but I will be checking it out in the store. As long as there's no HFCS, we'll likely give it a try.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Freebies online

I'm a deal hunter and I love freebies. I remember the early days Fat Cat Cafe, Voilition(still there), and more. Even when I was much, much younger before the personal computer (I'm not a youngin'), I saved my money to buy a book at B. Dalton "1001 Freebies for Kids." I remember sending a lot of SASEs!

These days, freebies are a lot easier to come by. Like today, I was reading a story on MSNBC and decided to watch a clip from the Today Show. There was an ad for Dunkin' Donuts coffee with "Free Sample" emblazoned across the logo. Head over and pick up your Dunkin' Donuts Free Sample of Coffee. Freebies can pop up when you least expect it. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How I earn free gift certificates and money back

I've been using for about 10 years now. In the early days, you could log on and just click away daily on point opportunities. I was earning points towards gift certificates pretty often. About the time of the crashes, things got a little dodgy for a while. They couldn't meet customer demand, they were taking forever to ship gift certificates, and advertisers began to drop. It was really rough. I remember receiving a letter in the mail apologizing for their inability to fulfill a redemption request, but they committed to making it happen. I had also participated in a bunch of similar websites, many of which went under.

MyPoints came through with flying colors. They delivered on requests and revamped their program and website. I stuck with them. Over the years, I've earned countless gift certificates. I bought Bud's travel system before he was born with Babies R Us gift certificates I earned from MyPoints. In more recent years, I've tapped into my balance to order gift certificates for thank you gifts, birthday gifts, and Christmas presents. It's nice to have these budget savers. I haven't been as diligent these past few years so I've missed out on some opportunity. But, after ordering some Christmas gifts using my points balance, I was re-inspired to click away.

You can set your preferences regarding frequency of emails (if any) you receive with point offers. I've received as many as 5-8 a day. I don't usually do the point offer, but just click through for 5 points credit. It's amazing how quickly 5 points ad up. You can complete other point offers for a lot more points if it's something you need. I haven't in a while. I do complete surveys that come my way. It's easy to earn 50 points by telling a little about your preferences. As you may or may not be able to tell, I definitely have strong preferences. If you are interested in joining, click through my link to MyPoints.

I used to shop through MyPoints to earn points per dollar. Most of the time now, I shop through Using Ebates, I earn a percentage of my online purchases back in cash. They send a quarterly check for my earnings (minimum $ amount required to send out check). What's great is, that I can use store coupons AND get a rebate from Ebates. There are rebates on average between 2%-5%. Gap/Old Navy rebates are 3%, Barnes and Noble 4%, and even 3% for Apple iTunes. If you have purchases to make online and are interested in saving, head on over to Ebates to sign up for your account. It's free and it's definitely worth the effort.

I do get credit for referrals as will you once you get started!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How do I unplug?

I was taking a mental break from work while eating lunch and read a couple blogs that I've found inspiring. A few minutes ago I read Self Made Chick's post "5 Things I had to Unlearn to Become Self Made." Here's an excerpt that really spoke to me:

"Making the shift from the corporate world to working for myself was a lot like unplugging from the Matrix. There is a completely different world all around us, but we are unable to truly understand it unless we live it. This, I believe, is why I had been unsuccessful for years trying to start my own businesses part time while still working full-time for someone else. Self sufficiency is a completely different mindset.... If you don’t have the energy or time for new things to come into your life, they won’t."

Why is it when someone points something like this out, I think, "YES! I know!" How do you make the leap from doing what you want with every moment of the day instead of what someone else wants you to? Let me rephrase that, how do I make the leap from doing what I want with ever moment of the day instead of what someone else wants me to? I don't know, but I want to find out. I'm totally open to insights here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

What I got for Christmas

I got wonderful, thoughtful gifts for Christmas. I got two big gifts that I was so excited about. One, was a Roomba from my in-laws. Roomba makes almost daily trips through the dining room and kitchen. The first day we used him (yes, it's a him) we all stood and watched a while. He's not quiet, but it's a sweet sound. He came with 2 virtual walls. I think I'm going to ask for the home base for my birthday. Did you know that you can schedule these things? Oohh aahh...

The other big gift was from my parents. I asked for a chest freezer and got it. My dad was so excited to take me out to the shed to unveil it Christmas day! I think he was just as excited as I was. Now I can stock up on good buys and get back into once-a-month cooking. We have a pretty good size freezer. But after a day of pre-cooking, the freezer was jam-packed. I had to rearrange every time I pulled something out. This isn't a problem anymore! I also took advantage of a sale on Breyer's. Yum!

I'm getting older. It's obvious when I get excited about appliances, right? I'm always interested to here what other people's favorite gifts were/are.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

How I'm spending (or saving)

Growing up, I used to love clipping and organizing coupons with my mother. I'll never forget the day that my younger sister opened up a box of Honey Nut Cheerios (they were pretty new on the market)and it had more Honey Nut coupons than Cheerios. They kept coming, and coming. There had to have been at least 100 all with no expiration date. I would bet there are still a couple of those in my mom's coupon tin. Good memories...

As an adult, I have been on again off again with coupons. I've had organizers and methods. I remember introducing my husband to them when we were first married. It was the one way I could send him to the store and not have him call to ask which brand of sour cream to buy. But then I was off again.

In the past few years, I've been focused on eliminating debt including our mortgage. I found a seminar with a County Adult Education program that both my husband and I attended. To me a lot of the principles were no brainers and something I already knew, but it was a great eye opener to my husband. It was like we were finally getting on the same financial page. I was introduced to the concept of an "accelerator". At the time, we had 2 car payments and a mortgage. The SUV and mini-van were both free financing for 5 years. Great, huh? Well, only partly. I had quite a bit of money saved that was earning next to nothing in the bank. I also had a year end bonus coming in a few months. I took some of the money I had in savings and payed off the SUV. Wow, it was an amazing feeling not to have to a required $400+ monthly payment. The coolest thing was that I know had $400+ to accelerate the mini-van payment. In 4 more months with the accelerator and bonus money, I had paid off the mini-van almost 4 years early. I was amazed at the sense of freedom it gave me. I then started working on the mortgage.

While we have certainly accelerated our mortgage, we've encountered some speed bumps along the way. Daddy became a contractor and later started his own business. Those of you who run businesses know a little about net 30 and net 45. Unfortunately, you probably also know a little bit about chasing down those payments well after there due. As you can imagine, you have to learn to operate a monthly budget on what you know will be there. We've also set a very aggressive savings goal over the next year. There is a grand plan you see. So, I've become even more focused on stretching our funds.

You guessed it, I'm back to couponing. I'd actually missed it. I've always enjoyed working with numbers and couponing is such a numbers game. I match the coupons to the sales. I scour the weekly ads to see what I can buy that we need for the least amount out of pocket. The past few weeks have been very good. Daddy is stocked on deodorant, manly bathwash, fancy shaving gel, and razor blades all for pennies on the dollar.

As for groceries, I typically save 30-40% on my grocery bill. We don't do a lot of convenience foods and eat out rarely.

Sunday, I really scored at Kroger. I had 2 prescriptions to fill and a coupon I had received in the mail a couple months ago (fill a prescription get $20 in groceries for up to 3 prescriptions). I did my grocery shopping and returned to the pharmacy. The pharmacist rang up my prescription and loaded $40 on my Kroger card. I went to the register to check out.

I bought:
4 12 packs of Charmin
4 Method Hand soaps

1 8lb bag of baking potatoes
2 packages of frozen mixed vegetables
1 bag of frozen broccoli
1 bag of frozen peas
3 boxes of Chex cereal
2 blocks of sharp cheddar
1 tub of pampers wipes (for Sissy's preschool class)
1 4 lb Beef shoulder roast
8 lbs of pork tenderloin
1 vitamin water (I was thirsty)
1 large bottle of whole dill pickles (Daddy's favorite snack)

My total savings was $88.58 or 71% (Kroger plus and coupons). I got $125.11 worth of groceries for $36.53 out of pocket.

I showed DH the receipt when I got home. He wanted to scan it and send to his mother. He was that impressed.

A great resource you may or may not be aware of is e-Savers. You can load Proctor and Gamble coupons directly to your Kroger card. It's a nice accompaniment to your paper coupons. My good friend Sharon, of The Domestic Betty's called one day so tickled to tell me that she had discovered e-Savers. We have quite the list of printable coupon sites and this was such a great add!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cloth Diapering

Before Bud was born, I scoured the internet to learn more about cloth diapering. I really wanted to do it, but I was so confused. I never did it, but read anything and everything I could get my hands on. When Sissy came along, I researched again. AIOs, AI2s, fitteds, prefolds, contours, covers, fleece, wool shorties and longies, pockets, inserts, hemp, terry, flannel... It was all too much. So, Sissy was in sposies, too. Sissy learned the potty pretty early. Yay! But, she still needed pull ups over night.

There were quite a few women on my mommies network that cloth diapered. They used all different types. That's when I began to discern the possibilities. Did it make sense to start cloth diapering a 2 year old? I'd always wanted to cloth diaper. I could try a few. Then, I got pregnant! I thought, now's the time. I'll check out the one-size pockets. Oh, and might as well get some neutral large-sized pockets. I'll get to use them again, too.

That's when my little obsession began. Sissy really liked the cloth diapers. She said they were "soft". I also noticed that she was less "fragrant" in the morning (if you know what I mean). It took a few days of trial and error to figure out the best load for the pockets. We use a insert wrapped with a microfiber towel (from the automotive section). It's the perfect absorbancy for overnight for her. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended just shy of my 2nd trimester, but we kept the cloth going. We've already realized savings even with just Sissy in cloth at night. I also don't have to worry about running out!

We have a variety that we like, but we definitely have our favorites. I liked these so much, I wanted to carry them on our website:

Happy Heiny's One Size Diaper

The snaps and aplix on these allow you to adjust from size small to size large. They are pocket diapers so they are easy to wash and dry quickly. They come with a small insert and a large insert. You can preload these so they are as simple as disposables for Daddy or the sitter.

Since Sissy uses the potty when she's awake, I looked at training pants, too. While the cloth diapers are easy, it's a little tiresome to take the diaper off and put it back on when Sissy has to go potty. Enter in Daddy's favorite:

Happy Heiny's Pocket Trainer

It's a pocket, too. We use the same stuffing on this one. Sissy can pull it up or down easily by herself. Daddy LOVES that! We have one just like the picture and others with snaps. The snaps make it easier to load, but it is still easy to pull up or down. You can get no snaps, snaps on one side, or snaps on both.