Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: May 31st ~ Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday weekend.  I'm posting this on Sunday night, so I don't have any pictures of Grace in her patriotic outfit yet.

I figured I'd share one of her last year, just to have a picture with today's post.

This is a picture of Grace from last June, she was about 6 weeks old in the picture.  I forgot to take a picture of her on Memorial Day last year, since that day was our first long trip in the car since she was born.  But she wore the same little outfit for both Memorial Day and Flag day. 

See the little paw in the bottom right corner of the picture?  That's Remmy, our Boston Terrier.  For a while after we brought Grace home from the hospital, Remmy had to try to get into every picture with her.  Now, she really can't be bothered! 

We were super surprised at how well Remmy adjusted to not being the "baby" of the house anymore.  They're buddies and we couldn't be happier! 

Okay, here's the menu plan for this week: 

Monday:  Memorial Day Cookout (I'm taking Twice Baked Potatoes and Gooey Butter Cookies)

Tuesday:  Cheese steak wraps,  macaroni salad, corn on the cob

Wednesday:  Eggs, Fried Potatoes, Sausage

Thursday:  Hot Dogs, Macaroni and Cheese, corn on the cob

Friday:  Barbecue Chicken with homemade BBQ sauce, mashed potatoes, vegetable

Saturday:  Stuffed Shells, garlic bread

Sunday:  Leftover buffet 

Even though we're still trying to use what we have in the pantry and freezer,  I feel that we are spending a lot more money at the store lately.  I don't know what the problem is.  Other than milk and bread (maybe some fresh fruit, veggies and yogurt), I really want to try to to keep away from the store this week. 

I'll be linking this post to Menu Plan Monday

Friday, May 28, 2010

And the Angelbot Giveaway Winner is.......

Today is a great day!  Not olnly is it the beginning of a nice long weekend with my husband at home, but I also get to announce the winner of my 100th post giveaway! 

Just to let you know, since this is my first giveaway,  I did this the old fashioned way...I wrote each entry on a small piece of paper, folded it and placed it in candy jar, then sat down this morning, reached in and picked out a winner! 

And since this is the start of a busy holiday weekend, I'm just going to get to the point and announce the winner.......

Shabby Chic Candle Head

.....after I show off a few more of Brook's creations!  They are sooo cute!

Watermelon Candle Head

Okay, okay, I'll get to it.........

The winner of the Angelbot Cupcake/Cake topper is................wholarmor!!!!!

Thanks so much to all of my readers for following my blog and leaving such wonderful comments! 

And congratulations to wholarmor!  Be sure to contact me in 48 hours to claim your prize (I'll be sending you an email as well)! 

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cupcakes! Cupcakes! Cupcakes! ~ Grace's First Birthday

Soon after finding out we were expecting, I started planning our little one's first birthday in my mind!  Once we discovered we were having a girl....ideas really started forming! 

I knew, without a doubt that cupcakes and polka dots would somehow be part of the theme.  The Sweet Shoppe idea came later!  (I'll post more about that soon.) 

When I found out that my niece was learning to decorate cupcakes and cakes in her high school culinary class, I knew I had to ask her to frost the cupcakes for me. 

Since I'm not much of a baker, I whipped up some cupcakes from a boxed mix.  I baked some Chocolate, White, Strawberry and Lemon cupcakes. 

We also used frosting from a tub in matching flavors.  My niece whipped up the frosting using a handheld mixer and then used her pastry bag and decorator tips to frost them. 

I bought some sprinkles and confetti dots to top the cupcakes at a local grocery store that seemed to have the best price.  They had a very wide assortment of jimmies/sprinkles, confetti and colored sugars! 

All three of my nieces helped me make some cupcake toppers using some cardstock and stickers from my scrapbooking stash. 

We decided to stick with plain cupcake wrappers so it wouldn't be too busy looking once everything was all put together. 

I ordered some cupcake towers from, using a $10 gift certificate I earned by doing product reviews during a special promotion through 

I found an adorable Etsy Shop that carries sweet little cupcake/cake toppers. 

Brook, the owner of Angelbot, is sponsoring a giveaway to celebrate my 100th post!  Be sure to ENTER soon!  Giveaway closes on Thursday, May 27th at 10:00pm EST

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals: 

Hubby makes dinner ~ outdoor cooking

***There's still time to enter my 100th post Giveaway!***

For Grace's birthday, we made too much food.  I always seem to make too much food when we have company.  But I don't mind.  It's better than not having enough. 

A lot of the food never made it out of the fridge.  We bought several 5 lb. tubs of barbecue pork and I made 2 double batches of our favorite baked beans.  There was a lot of other food, too, that Grace's aunts and Grandparents made. 

When the party was over, I put the stuff that didn't make it out of the fridge, into smaller containers and froze them in meal-size portions for the two of us. 

On Sunday, I thought we were going to have company for dinner.  I didn't want to run out to the grocery store, so I thawed some barbecue pork and some of the baked beans.  Plans fell through and we didn't end up having guests. 

So, this week, we'll be eating a lot of barbecue pork sandwiches and baked beans.  No big deal.  It's better than wasting it.  And as a bonus, I don't have to worry too much about what's for dinner. 

On Sunday, Joe said he'd heat up dinner.  We were having corn on the cob with the pork sandwiches and beans.  He dug out his Turkey Fryer and my big speckled pot for the corn.  He filled the pot with corn and water and put it on top of the turkey fryer.  He then lined a foil pan with foil to make compartments to keep the pork and beans separate.  Then covered the foil pan and placed it on top of the corn pot.  The edges of the pan rested on top of the rim of the pot, so it sat inside the pot, but above the water.  The heat of the boiling  water/corn cooking heated the food in the foil pan!  Perfect! 

Cleanup was super easy!  Only one pot to wash! 

I'll be linking this post to:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: May 24th ~ Short and Easy Week

*****Don't forget to enter my giveaway celebrating my 100th post!  Giveaway ends on Thursday, May 27th at 10:00pm EST.*****

Last week, I made some homemade barbecue sauce.  You can read about it on my other blog, My Vintage Kitchen

I'm so glad to report that we did much better following the menu plan last week!  We still switched the days up a bit, but managed to serve 5 out of the 7 meals planned.  Not too bad! 

We decided to skip the turkey last week (again) since I didn't feel like digging it out of the bottom of the freezer.  And the Chicken and Rice soup is still in the freezer.  I'll carry over the Chicken and Rice soup but I'm not going to bother with the turkey this week. 

This week, I'm planning easy stuff since we're going into the holiday weekend.  I'm not really sure what our plans are for the weekend, but plans or not, I don't feel like spending too much time in the kitchen!  

We're also eating lots of leftovers.   We thought we were going to have company yesterday so I thawed out ALL of the BBQ pork that was in the freezer in addition to extra baked beans.  So, we'll be eating that a few nights this week.  But that's okay with us! 

Here's what our short week looks like:

Don't forget to check out Menu Plan Monday for more recipes and menu planning ideas! 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Etsy Love: Angelbot / 100th Post + giveaway !!!

More Etsy Love!  Today I want to tell you about Angelbot.

Angelbot's shop owner, Brook, creates a wide assortment of gift giving options.  Finger puppets, greeting cards, camera/gadget holders, and (my favorite) custom cupcake and cake toppers. 

Do you need a greeting card for someone that LOVES bacon? 

Or do you need something to hold your gadgets? 

 Brook even sells this one-eyed Gluten Monster Finger Puppet: 

My favorite Angelbot items are the little wooden dolls/cupcake/cake toppers.  They are just sooo adorable! 

 Aren't they sweet?  They remind me of the vintage Fisher Price Little People (just the body and head) except with clothing!  And best of can order extra little outfits for them!!! 

She also makes super hero cake toppers for boys (and girls).  She doesn't have those listed yet, but I am hoping she lists them soon (hint, hint, Brook) because I want to order one for Grace to "give" to her daddy for Father's Day! 

The two pictured above are the ones that I ordered for Grace.  Here are a few pictures of the Candle-Head Cutie on Grace's birthday cake: 


Okay, so now for the giveaway portion of this post! 

After many "conversations" with Brook, I decided to ask her if she would sponsor a giveaway to celebrate my 100th post here at Under the Big Oak Tree!

I'm so happy to announce that she agreed! 

The winner will receive one candlehead or cupcake topper
and can choose the outfit and hairstyle
(one doll and one dress up to $15).

Brook will also cover the shipping.

Here's how you can enter: 

  • Follow this blog and leave me a comment letting me know you are a follower.  If you already follow this blog, leave me a comment letting me know.  (be sure to include your email address with your comment)
  • Subscribe to this blog and leave me a comment letting me know you are a subscriber.  If you already subscribe, leave me a comment letting me know.  (be sure to include your email address with your comment)
  • Visit Brook's Etsy Shop, Angelbot and then come back here and leave me a comment telling me what your favorite item is.  (be sure to include your email address with your comment)
  • Become a FaceBook Fan of Angelbot and leave me a comment letting me know that you did.  (be sure to include your email address with your comment)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment (with your link) letting me know you did.  (be sure to include your email address with your comment) 
Giveaway ends on May 27th at 10:00 pm, EST.  Winner will be announced in a new blog post and will also be contacted by email.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond.

Etsy Love: The Pickled Pumpkin

Recently, I posted some pictures of some of my favorite Etsy purchases.   

Today, I want to tell you about The Pickled Pumpkin.

I found Shelly's shop when I was looking for something for Grace for Valentine's Day.  I wanted something cute and simple and I found so many great options.  But I knew I had to narrow my choices down to just one. 

This is what I chose: 

The Pickled Pumpkin's prices are very reasonable and often some items are ON SALE.  Currently, there are items listed as low as $1.99 plus shipping. 

And speaking of shipping, Shelly offers Flat Rate Shipping on all orders shipped in the US or Canada.

Shelly can put her creations on Alligator Clips or Headbands and can also add a No Slip Grip if requested. 

She also includes a free gift with your purchase!

I have to admit, Grace gets the most wear out of the free gift that was included with her Valentine clip!  Even now, when she doesn't really "allow" me to put anything in her hair, I can get away with the one Shelly sent me as a free gift!  Figures, right? :) 

Here are a few of my favorite items she has listed in her shop now: 

Oh, I almost forgot!  You can also find The Pickled Pumpkin on FaceBook!  By becoming a fan on FaceBook, you will be notified of special sales and  fans residing in USA will also be eligible for Free Shipping on orders of $15 or more!   

If you make a purchase or become a fan on FaceBook, be sure to tell Shelly that you heard about her here! 

I think I NEED to order that Patriotic Heart for Memorial Day! 

Check out this post to see a frugal way to store all those adorable hair bows and clips! 

I'm celebrating my 100th post this week with a giveaway!  Check out this post for details on how to enter!

Frugal Storage for Hair Bows and Clips

This week, I am celebrating my 100th post
with a giveaway!
Be sure to check out this post
for details on how to enter!

A while ago, I went on a ribbon buying spree!  I found a listing on ebay for some really great ribbons at a really great price and bought loads and loads of ribbon!  I had great plans for that ribbon but one thing after another kept me from my craft room. 

Around Christmas this year, I started buying a lot of hair clips for Grace and I was just storing them in a jar on her shelf.  But as she started to roll and move more, it just wasn't convenient to have to reach for the jar, screw the cap off and  then dig for the appropriate hair accessory. 

I considered buying a clip holder but really didn't want to spend the money on something I thought I could make myself if only I had the time! 

Well, since I didn't have the time to make a clip holder, I decided to use thumb tacks and attach a strip of ribbon under the shelf above Grace's changing table.  It works perfectly! 

Take a look: 

To hide the tumb tacks, I just put a bigger bow or clip right next to the tack so it overlaps and covers the tack! 

As you can see, I still have plenty of room for more bows and clips!  Right now, Grace isn't thrilled with anything on her head, so we've been skipping the hair accessories.  But I'm sure that eventually she will WANT her hair all pretty with  bows and clips and we will soon have that ribbon filled with new little pretties! 

Check out this post that tells you where to find some great hair clips for your little girl!  The Pickled Pumpkin is a wonderful Etsy shop with such adorable hair accessories!  Read about The Pickled Pumpkin here! 

I'll be linking to the following blog carnivals: 

Menu Plan Monday: May 17th - May 23rd

I'm really struggling with this week's menu plan.  In fact, I just feel like I am struggling in general.  I feel all over the place.  My mind is everywhere and I can't stay focused on just one task. 

Last week's menu plan didn't go very well.  We didn't stick to the plan at all!  Only three of the seven meals planned were served. 

We celebrated Mother's Day a little late last week, since Joe got called into work that afternoon.  So, on Monday we picked up Chinese food on the way home from running errands.  We ate the leftovers on Tuesday!  Chinese or pizza take out doesn't make me feel that guilty, since we always get at least 2 dinners from it. 

On Saturday, the little school up the road from us had a BBQ Chicken fundraiser and since Grace LOVES chicken, we decided to get that for dinner instead of cooking.  We also bought some extra for her for other nights this week. 

I'm hoping to do better this week.  There will be a few things carried over from last week. 

Also, we're still mainly eating from the freezer/pantry again this week, since we're trying to avoid a big shopping trip until June.  Until then, I'll be looking for some new and easy, frugal recipes to add to our weekly menu plans for June!  If you have any suggestions, let me know! 

For now, I'll post this week's dinner menu: 

  • Monday:      beef barley soup with biscuits
  • Tuesday:      BBQ pork sandwiches, baked beans, sliced potatoes
  • Wednesday: chicken rice soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Thursday:    tuna salad sandwiches, pasta salad
  •  Friday:        meatball sandwiches, mixed green salad
  • Saturday:     leftover buffet
  • Sunday:       turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies
So, we're having sandwiches a lot this week.  I don't think Joe will mind.  He rarely complains about what I plan for dinners. 

I've already taken a few things out of the freezer for this week.  Hopefully, that will help me to keep on top of this week's menu plan.   Too often I either forget to get something out of the freezer or I just don't have the time to DIG something out of the bottom of the chest freezer! 

For more menu planning inspiration check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie

This week, I'm celebrating my 100th post with a giveaway!  Be sure to head over to this post for details on how to enter!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frugal Friday: Using Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons

I love Bed, Bath & Beyond.  I don't get to shop there too often, but when I do, I go in with a stack of coupons!  Not only do I get them in the mail, but Mom also saves them for me. 

When I write my Christmas shopping list out, I check to see if there is anything that I can buy from BB&B in order to save some money with the coupons!  I love that BB&B allows you to use more than one coupon per purchase!  Also, I've been told that even though the coupons have an expiration date, they don't REALLY expire!  The cashiers accept them past the expiration date! 

This past Christmas, was my first year Christmas shopping with a baby.  I was tired and a little confused when I walked up to the register with my purchases and my stack of coupons.  I was trying to figure the best combination of 20% off one item and $5 off of a $15 purchase.  The cashier asked if she could take a look and figured the best deal for me!  How nice is that??? 

Last week, I noticed that the plastic part that holds our hand held shower head in place was getting loose.  It was getting so loose, that I was hoping that it wouldn't fall off and hit me in the head while I was showering.  

It seemed a shame to get an entirely new shower head for just one bad piece.  And since we are really trying to NOT SPEND ANY MONEY this month, I considered just using some duct tape to hold it in place and use as if it were a standard wall mount shower head.  But, we use the hand held feature every day. 

We have well water and everytime I fill my daughter's duckie tub up without using the shower head, we get sand in the bottom of the tub.  I'm new to well water, so I'm not sure if this is normal or not.  We don't see the sand in any of the other faucets, just the tub.  So, by using the shower head to fill the tub, we eliminate the sand.  So, to me, this seemed like a NEEDED item and not just a WANTED item. 

Anyway, I remembered that I had a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond.  I also remembered that I saw shower attachments when I was there the  last time.  Monday, we had errands to run.  Joe went to Home Depot in the morning before Grace and I woke up.  He checked the prices on the shower attachments while he was there.  $60 for the model (or similar) we were replacing. 

We stopped at BB&B to check their prices.  Grace fell asleep in the truck, so Joe sat with her while I ran in to check our the shower heads.  I saw the same one that he priced at Home Depot.  It was the same price.  $60.  But with the coupon we could save $12.  Woohoo! 

Notice, I said "could save".  Not, "we saved".  I ended up getting a different model that was $10 cheaper.  Same brand as the one we've had for the past 3 years, but different model.  It was $50.  We saved $10 by using the coupon.  Still, a great deal.  Except we hate the new model!  We really should have stuck with the one we knew we liked. 

I went with the other model because it has a pause feature on it that I thought would be great for when I sit on the edge of the tub to shave my legs or when I wash the baby's hair or whatever.  It doesn't work. 

So, the next step is to write to the company and let them know that we're not pleased with the shower head.  I'll let you know how that works out. 

I didn't mention the brand of the shower head that we purchased, mainly because I didn't want this post to be a product review.  I really wanted it to be a Frugal Friday post and focus mainly on using those BB&B coupons. 

Be sure to head over to Life As Mom for more Frugal Friday money-saving tips! 

Check back here on Monday, I'll be announcing a giveaway to celebrate my 100th post!!!! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Garanimals Wooden Blocks from Walmart

My husband and I LOVE toys!  When we were first dating and all of our nieces and nephews were babies, we loved heading to the toy store to pick out toys for them.  We would spend hours in the store looking at all the different items and testing out the ones that had "try me" buttons! 

Since then, we still love toys, but we tend to go for the more "classic" toys now.

For her first Christmas, my husband wanted to get Grace a set of wooden blocks.  We looked in several places and also online and could only find very small blocks.  We were looking for the chunky, wooden blocks that were painted with bright colored ABCs.  I almost settled for the smaller blocks, but just couldn't bring myself to spend the money on them when I knew we wouldn't be happy with them.

A month or two ago, I was strolling through the toy aisle at Walmart and there they were - the chunky, wooden blocks painted with brightly colored ABCs!  I wasn't even looking for them that day, I pretty much gave up any hope of finding them! 

Turns out, they are from a new line of toys by Garanimals and Walmart.  At the time, I didn't care about that, I was just happy that I found the blocks that we wanted for Grace!  I don't remember the exact price of them.  I'm thinking somewhere around $10 or $12.  I'm pretty sure I just put them right into my cart without even checking the price!

We didn't give them to her right away.  She had gotten so many nice gifts for Christmas so we decided to put them away for her first birthday before giving them to her.  Her birthday was little over a week ago.  Sunday night, Joe was putting together one of her toys and Grace wanted to help.  Of course, only being a year old, she wasn't much of a help. 

I opened up her blocks to play with her and she was not interested in them at all.  I was bummed.  I thought, all of that searching for them and she doesn't even like them!  Well, I guess "helping" daddy put together her new toys was more fun to watch than playing with blocks! 

Today, I tried again.  After Grace was finished eating lunch, she seemed content to just sit in her high chair.  That's not something that usually happens.  Once she loses interest in the food, she loses interest in the high chair.  Since I wasn't finished going through the mail, I thought of trying the blocks on the tray of her high chair. 

She loved them!  I built a tall tower of blocks and let her knock them down.  I pretended that I didn't want her to knock them over and when they fell, she let out such a belly laugh!  We did that several more times and she just giggled and giggled.  I tried to capture a video on my camera phone, but couldn't work the camera and build the blocks at the same time.   Grace wasn't allowing the blocks to stand long enough for me to grab the camera! 

I did manage to snap this picture of her, it's a little blurry...sorry!  Most of my pictures of Grace are blurry...she doesn't sit still for very long! 

Okay, so now that I look at the picture, it's A LOT blurry and the lighting in the kitchen is pretty bad.  But at least I got the picture, right? 

She played for a while in the high chair and really enjoyed those blocks. 

After dinner tonight, we had to take Grace for her one year check up.  Poor baby needed 4 needles!  She cried much longer than she normally does when she gets shots!  Mommy too!  :)  Good thing Daddy goes with us!  

When we returned home, we played all played with the blocks on the floor while the Backyardigans was on.  She really enjoyed knocking them down!  Especially the really tall building that Joe was building for her! 

I'm really happy that we found those blocks and I really hope she will enjoy playing with them on her high chair tray again while I clean the kitchen tomorrow! 

I'll be sharing this post with  Works For Me Wednesday, a weekly blog carnival hosted by Kristen at We are THAT Family

Edited to add: 

I'll be making my 100th post this week and will be announcing a giveaway to celebrate!  Be sure to stay tuned so you don't miss out!!! 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: May 10th

Wow! It has been a crazy few weeks!  Made even crazier with the lack of menu planning!  I really need to start forcing myself into a better system for menu planning and grocery shopping/couponing

This week will mainly be some freezer/pantry meals since we're attempting to cut back on some spending in the next few weeks.  It should be pretty easy to do since I still have some pre-made items left in the freezer. 

I did notice that our pantry is going to be in need of re-stocking soon, but for now, I just want to purchase the basics. 

Here's what's cookin' for dinners this week: 

  • M:     Beef Barley Soup, biscuits
  • T:      Chicken Croquettes, mashed potatoes, corn
  • W:     Chicken Soft Tacos, refried beans, Spanish rice
  • T:      Potato, egg and sausage skillet, toast 
  • F:      Chicken soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
  • S:      Scallops, veggies and pasta with garlic and oil
  • S:      Turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies
I'm planning for 7 dinners this week, even though, I have no idea what our weekend plans are yet.  Most likely, some of the nights may get switched around or carried over into next week.  That's okay, having some sort of plan helps, even if it ends up getting changed. 

Don't forget to check out Menu Plan Monday, a weekly blog carnival that features menu plans and recipes! 


Also, I'm getting very  close to my 100th post! 
I think I'm at 93 with this post. 
Anyway, be sure to check back...
I'll be announcing a giveaway to celebrate my 100th post! 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! 
This photo is from my FIRST Mother's Day.
Grace is so tiny in this picture. 
Just 8 days old. 
I cannot believe that it's been a year already! 

I'm looking forward to a quiet day with my 2 favorite people (and my favorite puppy).  We may possibly run an errand or two, but for the most part, a nice quiet day....we need it!  

I'm getting very close to my 100th post!  
Soon, I'll be announcing a giveaway to celebrate! 
Check back this week for more details!   

Friday, May 7, 2010

Etsy love

I don't remember how or when I first found out about Etsy.  It was probably mentioned on a message board that I participated on, but even then, I didn't get to buy too often.  I was only working part time and saving for a house. 

Now that we've bought our house, I'm not working and we have a mortgage.  So, still, I don't get to shop Etsy as often as I would like. 

For those that don't know about Etsy,  it's a wonderful website that allows crafters and artists to sell their items.  There is also a section for vintage items and I must admit that's probably my favorite part of Etsy! 

Since Grace has been born, I've been shopping Etsy a bit more.  I look for cute little handmade items for her for special occasions.  It's so difficult to not go overboard and buy every adorable item I see and love! 

Etsy sellers are a wonderful group of people.  Different than any retailer I've ever dealt with.  They are so friendly, helpful and accomodating!  In most cases, they can make something custom, just for you! 

In the next week or so, I'll be telling you about some of my favorite Etsy shops and even showing you some of the purchases that I've made (all modeled by my sweet little Grace). 

Here's a sneak peek: 


Also, I'm getting very close to my 100th post.

Coming up, next week, I'll be announcing a giveaway to celebrate!
Be sure to check back, so you don't miss out!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hi, Readers!

Hi, Readers! 

I know I've disappeared for a while.  A lot has been going on around here that's been keeping me from posting (nothing dramatic or anything, it's all good).  But I'll be back on Monday with some new posts. 

Also, I'm getting close to my 100th post (I can't believe it) and I'll be doing a giveaway soon to celebrate!  I'm really excited! 

Hope to see you all back here next week! 
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