Thursday, July 16, 2015

Debt, Debt & More Debt

One of the things that came along with my recent divorce is a pile of debt. When I was with my ex I only worked part-time and I had no savings. I got lucky and found a work at home opportunity at the same the time I was moving out, great flexibility and the pay was enough to rent an apartment with.

I still needed to borrow a great deal of money. I stupidly charged anything and everything I needed or thought I needed to make my new place feel like home. Then I lost my job for a few months and lived on credit. Not to mention I charged my two lawyers which racked up 20k on it's own.

I have been working on paying off my debt but as a single parent making less money annually then I owe; it is proving to be a challenge. I have been researching options to save money and to pay off  my debt quicker.

My first step in recovering has been to give my remaining credit cards to someone I trust to hold onto for me. I removed all billing information from online sites like Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, Paypal, etc. I am trying to find a healthier release for all of my stress than going shopping and buying useless things. I have been trying to shift my focus to my start-up photography studio business. I even started to sell my art prints in an etsy shop.

I created a budget and a spreadsheet of all of my debt along with the interest rates and minimum payments. While researching I came across the same advice over and over; pay off the cards with highest interest rate first while paying the minimum balance on the rest. So I am starting to shift all of my focus to this new plan.

I am one month in and so far so good. I even managed to put together a plan to put aside some money in a savings account so if I am ever in need I can use that instead of a credit card.

Most importantly,  am trying to go back to getting gratification from the simply things in life instead of from material things.

I will post more about my experience and hurdles as time goes on.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New Beginnings

When I started this blog, I was the type of Mom who had regular play dates scheduled out with a group of like minded moms and their kids. I put together sensory activities, actually made the crafts and recipes that I pinned on Pinterest and celebrated things like International Mud Day. I complained about the typical struggles of an at home Mom coupled with someone who did not fully understand...

I never spent more then a few hours away from my daughter and even those few hours; one or twice a week felt like an eternity. The thought of being without her for an overnight trip completely devastated me. To say she was my world would be a giant understatement.

When I left my (now ex-)husband a year and a half ago I could not imagine what was in store for me, for us. I never thought I would need to give up so much time with my daughter to pursue a happy, healthier life for both of us. In the beginning I spent a great deal of my time away from her depressed, worried, missing her and crying. Many people told me that being away from her would get easier but that thought caused more despair then it did comfort. The idea that I would ever be okay with not seeing my little girl every day was worse than being without her. I still miss her every day and expect her to come running out of her room in the morning demanding to snuggle. I will never feel great about not seeing her each day. I will always want more time with her. BUT I have learned to appreciate the time I have with her as well as the time I have away from her. It felt like my world ended, that nothing would ever be good again.

BUT it is getting better. 

She is well adjusted and excelling and I am determined to use my 'free' time to make that better life for us. We are both happy.

I work full-time from home and am trying to start up a photo studio. I am struggling through the aftermath of divorce, debt and co-parenting. 


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Recipe: Homemade Lip Balm

Well it has been quite a while since I blogged... life has gotten in the way of something I love to do and am hoping that this is the start of getting back into it. 

I have been cooped up in the house with a nasty virus and eye infections for the past few weeks. It has been a sick new year so far! With the cold weather comes the need to moisturize my daughter and my own lips constantly or we will turn into giant peeling messes.... I worry about what is in some of the store bought lip balms so decided to just make my own. I was surprised at how quick and easy it was!!!



You will need: 


Combine ingredients into a small saucepan and melt over medium heat.


It took maybe 3-5 minutes to completely melt. 


Then I poured the mixture into a measuring cup and carefully poured it into each tube. Let cool completely, I stuck mine in the fridge for a few minutes. 


And wah lah! Super moisturizing lip balm and you know exactly what is in it!!!  If you make your own please share photos with us!!!



 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Recipe: Pizza with Vodka Sauce and Ricotta Cheese



I have been making pizza so much lately that I have actually memorized the recipe. It has become a fast favorite in our household, especially for play group! Here is what you need to make Pizzar with Vodka Sauce and Ricotta Cheese!
  • 1 TBSP Active Yeast
  • 1 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 2.5 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoons Basil
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 16 oz Mozzarella Cheese
  • 8 oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 12 oz Vodka Sauce

First dissolve your yeast in the warm water with the sugar, let set about 5 minutes until yeast activates. In a large bowl combine Flour, Salt, Basil and Garlic Powder. Stir in Water/Yeast Mixture, continue to stir until mixture forms a nice ball of dough. I usually need a little bit by hand as well. 


Let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375.


Separate dough into two balls and roll out on to a greased pizza pan or pizza stone.  I use the olive oil for this. 


Top with vodka sauce. 


Then add Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese.



Bake for 12-15 Minutes. 


Enjoy! Nothing like a nice crunchy cheesy slice of pizza!



Sensory Bin: Spring Vegetable Garden


Well today was a nice warm day FINALLY! I am beyond ready for Spring to poke it's head out. In anticipation I made up this fun little Vegetable Garden Sensory Play Bin. 


I used bright yellow rice as the base of the play bin and Bug's Plan Toys Vegetable Garden as the focus point. I added in a Ryan's Room Fairy and Anamalz Pig along with some ladybugs from our Ladybug sensory bin, wooden letters to spell out garden and a few pieces from Bug's gardening set such as her shovel and pots.


The  Plan Toys Vegetable Garden comes with 4 rows to plant vegetables in and 3 pieces of turnips, carrots, radishes and cauliflowers. I used 3 of the rows in our garden. Bug loved to plant and harvest all of the little vegetables. 




The bunny helped to gather all of the vegetables in the wheelbarrow. 


 While the fairy helped to water all of the plants.  


 Bug filled up the cups with rice.



And dumped them back out. 


She plucked the vegetables and explored the rows. 


She removed all of the rows and planted the vegetables into the rice. She had a blast playing with this bin. We talked about what we were going to plant in our community garden, colors, vegetables and what plants need to grow.

Come on spring! :-)

Monday, February 10, 2014

5 Toddler Valentine's Day Activities and Crafts

Despite my feelings about Valentine's Day...I want to make it special for my daughter. I always remember it in childhood as a fun time of year and I want to pass that on to her. Of course I plan on passing on the importance of celebrating and appreciating those we love year round as well.

One of my favorite gifts to recommend this time a year is Adopting a Roach for your Valentine through the Bronx Zoo here, all of the money goes to a great cause and it is a fun(ny) gift for adults and children.

Today I am going to share a few of the Valentine's Day crafts and activities that we had fun with last year when my daughter was just about 2 years old. Towards the end of the this week I hope to share some of what we have been playing with this year.


First up we have some Valentine Heart Sticker Art - we picked up a variety of heart doilies at the Dollar Tree as well as some fun stickers.



My little bug had a ball peeling the stickers off of the sheet and sticking them all over the hearts. It is such a simple activity but very entertaining for toddlers. While they are putting the stickers onto the hearts you can talk about all of the different animals, colors, shapes, etc.


AND the finished product, makes a great homemade Valentine's Day card for the loved ones in your life.

Next up we have two sensory play bins that we used at a small playgroup. First up is the Love Birds Sensory Play Bin.


I bought a pack of multi-colored shredded paper - Red, Pink and White at Walmart for $1.47 and then added in some more red paper from the Dollar Tree. The hearts are from the Dollar Tree as well. I put in the 4 birds from my daughter's Manhattan Toy Put and Peek Birdhouse and bird houses that I had bought at Michaels a while back. I had planned on widening the holes in the birdhouse so the birds would fit into them but didn't have the time. My daughter and her friends enjoyed exploring the paper by squishing it with their hands, pushing it into the holes of the bird houses and putting it into the heart containers. They also liked exploring the different texture fabrics that make up the birds and the different noises that they made.

Next we have our second Valentine's Day themed bin: Plant a Little Love Sensory Play Bin



For this play bin I used a bag of white rice from the dollar tree mixed with the left over colored rice. We were given a lot of Valentine's themed sprinkles and didn't use them because of the artificial dyes so we dumped them into the play bin. I added in a few of the heart containers, paper hearts, purple flower tops and my heart measuring spoon set from a Bridal Shower I went to a few years ago. The planter pots I bought at Michael's for a garden play bin I had put together and repainted them to better fit our theme. She really enjoyed filling all of the containers and pots with rice using the spoons and her hands. She liked opening an closing the heart containers and shaking them when they were filled with rice. The flower got placed on top of the pots and put in the spoons. The rice inevitably got dumped on the floor and was pushed into piles and even thrown a little. Sorry for the lack of pictures for these bins, since they are from last year they weren't originally intended for the blog.

Last year we also did quite a few heart shaped smooshed paintings. I cut out a few hearts by folding paper in half. Next I let my daughter squeeze drops of paint onto the hearts, we refolded them and she smooshed the paint around through the piece of paper. She was amazed at the results when we opened them up and immediately had to do another and another. To say they were a huge hit would be an understatement!!



And last but not least we made a simple handprint picture frame for the Grandparents. I found these heart shaped frames at Michaels for a dollar. I painted the frames dark purple, after it had dried I let my little one use a sea sponge and daub light pink paint all over. After they were dry we used an even lighter pink paint to put handprints on. And finally using paint pens, I wrote on Happy Valentine's Day and the year. Another simple project that is a ton of fun for toddlers and has a great results. If you are afraid you aren't any good at painting or that sponge painting is too involved, it isn't. It is actually very simple and sponge painting hides imperfections quite well.



What are some of you favorite Valentine's Day themed activities?

Over 15 Valentine's Day Present Ideas for Kids

I will never understand the fascination of loading children or ourselves up with tons of junk food and candy to celebrate a holiday. There are countless items a child would adore for Valentine's Day rather then a $10-$15 box of chocolate or the equally as over priced stuffed animal that will clutter up your home, collect dust and be thrown out. /endrant

SO I have put together a list of some of my favorite Valentine's Day gifts that kids will enjoy for more then a day or two which make them worth each penny.



BOOKS Any children's book would make a great Valentine's Day gift but if you are looking for a Valentine's Day themed one, here are a few of our favorites. Click the book cover to view on Amazon.

      

GAMES What child doesn't like a fun game? Two of our favorites these days are The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel and Hi Ho Cherry-O. But if you are looking for something related to Valentine's Day or candy check out the great lacing set with Conversation Hearts that is made by Learning Resources as well as their Chocolate Box matching game. Eeboo has a fun Candy match game and we can't leave out an all time favorite - Candy Land. Again click any image to be brought to Amazon.

           

CRAFTS Being this is in part a craft blog, I couldn't leave them out. Here are few Valentine or heart themed craft sets that I have come across that children would enjoy!  Alex Toys - I Love Crafts, Valentines Paper Chains Kit, Melissa and Doug Sweet Hearts Bead Set, Decorate your own Heart Box, Heart Shaped Stepping Stone Kit, Scratch Art Hearts, Be Mine Valentine's Rubber Band Loom Kits and Heart Stickers.  Again click any image to be brought to Amazon for more information.

 
 


One of my favorite gifts to recommend this time a year is Adopting a Roach for your Valentine through the Bronx Zoo here, all of the money goes to a great cause and it is a fun(ny) gift for adults and children.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for our Valentine's Day craft round-ups and our Valentine's Day themed Sensory Bins.