Category Archives: advice and tips

Lolli’s Summer Survival List

Well, hello there! It’s so much fun to be hanging out in new surroundings today. Can I consider this MY vacation? Hmmm…maybe not. BUT I’m ready to have fun! I was thrilled when I was asked to guest post over here while the Nugget fam was out in sunny California. I wish it was me. I’m Lolli, the crazy mom of 5 over at Better in Bulk (you might know my blog by it’s “old” name, Life is Sweet) Like my Wise Nuggety friend, I am also from California, currently living in Maryland. I also have a rather large family (check out my family picture–they’re all mine!), and I am a Fishful Thinking ambassador, too. Woohoo! Go Goldfish! AND we’re both going to the SITScation in Vegas in October (which just happens to be my birthday weekend. I’m counting on presents, you know).

Today is the last day of school for my kids (I know, I know–most of the country has been out of school for ages already. Whateva!). Everything changes when summer begins, doesn’t it? Since I’ve had kids in school, I’ve learned a few things about making summer break successful. Have you noticed that summer can either be the best time ever, or a complete flop? Let’s make sure that this summer isn’t a flop.

Here are a few suggestions. It’s nothing new. Just a few reminders. 🙂

1 – Develop and keep a schedule, but plan some lazy time. It’s ok to not get up at the crack of dawn every day and summer time naps are heavenly. But structure is neccessary. Knowing that Monday is the day that we go to the library, and Tuesday is movie day, etc, helps the week flow so much better. Otherwise, every day feels just like the last and the weeks drag.

2 – Pick something you’re interested in and do a little research. Maybe you want to develop your photography skills. Go to the library and check out as many books on photography as you can. Do a bunch of google searches. Read my blog. (hint, hint) By the end of the summer, you could be an expert! The same goes for kids. Give the summer a theme or a purpose. Be focused on developing a talent. When you focus on one thing–be it cooking, photography, sewing, a sport, etc.–you will see that in everything you do.

3 – Become a tourist in your own hometown. The Nugget family and mine have an advantage–we both live within driving distance of Washington DC, one of the most fabulous tourist destinations in the world. There is an endless supply of museums and historical locations to visit. But the funny thing is, I rarely go down south. There is plenty to do in my own town. Look at your hometown through new eyes and think of what an out-of-towner would do if they were visiting.

4 – Spend a day each week at the local library. The kids love to sit and read books. It’s cool, it’s a calm environment, and there’s usually free wifi for you! Many libraries have summer reading programs. Check yours out! I know that my kids get coupons from local restaurants and even the county fair for their participation.

Once you come home from your library trip (and every other day) set aside a block of time for reading together. I love reading novels to my kids, even those who seem to young for novels. And if your kids are old enough to read on their own or read to each other…..then you can have your own afternoon blog reading time! Perfect!

5 – Pack a picnic. And then pick a different place to eat it every week. Set the picnic up in your backyard, or take a walk to a park. Lay a blanket out on your kitchen floor and eat inside on a rainy day.

6 – See if your local theater has a free or discounted movie program. Our Regal Cinema, which is just 10 minutes away, has free kids movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00. The only challenge is getting there early enough to get a seat. Free movies draw lots of attention!

7 – Plan play dates (and be smart about it!). Schedule play dates together (if you have multiple children). Have each child invite a friend over on one day, and then when you’re planning away play dates, plan those on the same days too, to get a little alone time every once in a while.

8 – Pick your own berries. Find a farm and pick berries or other garden foods. This is seriously one of our favorite things to do during the summer! If you can, plant a garden yourself. The effort is so worth it! Not only do you get great-tasting food, but you create great family bonding, working-together time.

9 – Take advantage of the free summer programs around your home. In our town, there are free children’s concerts twice a week. The kids love to plant down on a blanket and relax in the shade while listening to music. Where I grew up, there were weekly farmer’s markets with children’s activities. Find out what’s going on in your area.

10 – Get wet! If you don’t have a pool, find a local community or neighborhood pool (or better yet, a friend with a pool!) and enjoy a refreshing dip every now and then. For a little less work, set up a little pool in your yard. Cooling off in water does wonders for the summer-time blahs.

What are some of your favorite things to do during the summer?


PS–thanks for reading today. You are now officially invited to come visit me. Stop by and say howdy!

It’s all her fault!

Today I’ve just got to share why I HEART the Amazing Jessica. If you’ve been around a while (like the nuggets under the booster seat in my mini van) you’ll recall her. She is the person single handedly responsible for my new frugal outlook on life. She has inspired me to exceed the confines of paying full price. And is responsible for the wiggle room in my budget. Freeing the mind of many mundane money musings so that I can devote that time to my family (blogging) and organization of my household (MORE blogging). She finally conceded a few months back to join me in the blogosphere. Today I thought I’d finally beaten my teacher when I scored some serious deals at TarJay. I boosted 3, 12 piece ZipLock container multi packs for the low low price of $1.73 (a whopping .14 cents a container!). I didn’t stop there though I got a value sized 3 pack of ZipLock bags for $1.23!!! All puffed up like a preening turkey I went to tell her all about it, only to find that she scored:

(7) Charmin 12 pks, $2.49 ea minus $6 in coupons
(12) Angel Soft 4 pks, .47 cents ea
(2) Kleenex Ultra, .57 cents ea
(1) Kleenex 184 ct, .57 ea
(1) Post It Notes , $1.29 ea
(2) Generic post its, $.25 cents ea
(1) Bayer Blood Glucose Meter, $10 minus $10 coupon

Paying a whopping $12.18 out of her own pretty little pocket book FOR THE WHOLE SHABANG!

Looking to save a buck or TWENTY?! Go check out her blog Got Steals. Jess.. YOU ROCK!!!!!!!

P.S. Hey members of my new book club blog “Sittin’ on By Butt Book Club” the list is up!!! If you’re interested in the PRIVATE club (ooooh ain’t I special!) shoot me an email and I’ll send you an invite. It’s a very kicked back club. None of the “you must have a lit degree from Schmarvard, read at minimum 7000 words per minute and give snarky opinions like YOU’VE actually been published” tude required.

Gifts for Wordless Wednesday (well semi-wordless)

In honor of Wordless Wednesday I’ll be shutting up, which also honors What the !@&$ Wednesday! I’m simply posting links to sites that can help you make or save money, get free things or cash back on things you’d already buy. Silence is after all golden.

Right At Home, coupons, contest, cooking and more

AdBrite, an ALTERNATIVE to Adsense

Viva Diva Cafe Contest

Vocal Point, free stuff, coupons and more

Market Force, become a PAID Secret Shopper

Opinion Outpost, PAID surveys I get actual CHECKS!

Grab this coupon for a FREE Mocha from Bob Evans, good through 3/11

Ebates, get CASH back on things you buy online, I cleaned up at Christmas..IF you sign up (FREE) tell em I sent ya!

You choose, she speaks..From the Desk of Mariana Howard…

Hey ladies! Wow, I am SO psyched to be guest-blogging on my girl DiPaola Momma’s page. She is truly a gem, and I am beyond HUMBLED by the hype she has built over this post! Thank you for having me!
Ok, brief bio: I have worked in the Beauty industry for almost 14 years. For the past 8, my career has been in Training & Development. I’ve represented such companies as Origins, Shiseido, Dr. Perricone, Dr. Brandt and am now an Instructional Designer for Victoria’s Secret Beauty. My husband is the touring drummer for Avril Lavigne and Gavin Degraw (he is lucky enough to be able to alternate between them). I love what I do with a genuine passion, because at heart I am just a girl who is a total Beauty junkie.
I am loving the winning topic because ALL women can relate to it. Whether you’re a career-driven workaholic, or a kick-ass housewife we all have something in common: our femininity.
Somehow, as life takes over and we get older, we tend to lose sight of that simple pleasure we enjoyed as little girls playing with mom’s makeup bag. Demands on our time mean that most of our beauty choices are ultimately dictated by two things: function and practicality. Nothing wrong with that at all! But since it is Valentine’s Day, I am proposing a different approach…
Keep an open mind – some of these suggestions may seem frivolous or time-consuming. But that’s exactly the point! We come up with so many reasons NOT to take time for ourselves that this list is the antidote for that habit. For the record, I’m keeping it real: there will be no mentions of Balinese Spa getaways or hiring a private masseuse (although that would truly rock).
SO – your life is exhausting! How do you keep your face from showing it?
In keeping with the Freebie theme, most of these products can be found at Sephora (or as I call it, “Mecca”). Here are my suggestions to look like you’ve had a full 8-hours of rest (when you’ve really only had five…like, this whole week):
Facial peel. Hands down, this is the easiest and FASTEST way to look refreshed and renewed. It takes 10 minutes once a week and the results are instant. A great one is the Green Apple Peel for Sensitive Skin by Juice Beauty (Sephora). It’s made with organic fruit extracts that gently dissolve away dull skill, revealing a healthy, radiant glow. Now be aware: the very nature of what makes this so effective is that fruit extracts are acidic, which means that you WILL FEEL this working. You may even get a little red right after. Everyone’s threshold is different, so I won’t tell you it’s no big deal (although for me, the tingling sensation is totally tolerable). But I WILL tell you that the payoff is fabulous – an hour later, my skin looks and feels brand new.

Gradual self-tanner. Don’t freak out, I’m not talking about the hard-to-manage, messy Oompa-Loompa stuff. A daily moisturizer (which you’d probably use anyway) with a touch of self-tanner to slowly give you a natural, peachy glow can work wonders over a few days. Sephora makes a good one for $6. But if you’re like me and have a deeper skin tone, this may not have enough pigment. I like Jergen’s Natural Glow Face Moisturizer in Medium/Tan (at drugstores).

Concealer. A good one will forever become your BFF. My new obsession is Time Balm (Sephora). The shades are great, the coverage is natural but effective and…ready for this?…it has anti-aging ingredients, so you can wear it to bed and it will fight fine lines! My hubby actually thinks I wake up with no dark circles! Bwahahaha!

Eye gel. Everyone knows about the importance of using eye cream, but why does its cousin Eye Gel get no love? There really is nothing better for banishing puffiness. Here’s the trick – find one with Cucumber or Rose extract – they help shrink tiny engorged capillaries and aid in releasing excess fluids around the eyes. Eye Contour Gel by Clarins has been a longtime favorite (Sephora). Then KEEP IT IN THE FRIDGE and put it on when you enter the kitchen each morning. Feels great and works for de-puffing. No joke.

Ice-blue eyeliner. No really, hear me out! It’s called Eye Brightening Stick and it’s made by Origins ($14 at department stores). You don’t use this like a regular eyeliner. You actually use this on the inner rim of the eyes. The ice blue tint counteracts redness, so tired bloodshot eyes look clearer and more rested. Use it before mascara, and remember to be conservative with it (too much will create an early-80’s New Wave vibe).
Thanks again for having me as your guest! All the best for a beauty-full Valentine’s Day

Thanks Mariana!! Okay now it’s up to you gang.. tell me what piece of this GREAT advice you think you’ll put to use first. I’ll pick one person (at random) and award them a gift card to Sephora.. or as Mariana calls it Mecca. I hope you enjoyed this post.. if you did let me know, maybe we can bribe her to come back and give us more advice! OH and don’t forget to enter to win WOO HOO part DEUX I’ve made some great additons already.. more on Sunday!

A meal fit for the Greek Goddess of Love

As promised I’ve scoured through dozens of books, spent hours doing online research, poured over stacks of clinical research all to help you put an extra punch into your Valentine’s Day dinner…am I exhausted, or what!

If you buy that one I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell sell ya..(insert evil cackle here).. Actually being that I have an ever growing collection of cook books I’ve turned to a couple of those to help out. In this post I’ll be giving you a few of my favs. I realize that many of you may already think my taste is lacking, so I’m starting with a list of edibles you can use as you see fit, that are reported to “bring back that lovin’ feeling”…oh, that lovin’ feeling… cuz it’s (oh you know the song!). I’ll finish up with some recipes and detailed instructions for my famous “Shake u hiney it’s so fine-y” dance made famous at SITS roll call..okay stop laughing!! I’ll leave the dance out of it!! (meanies)

Asparagus: Aside from the more “obvious” attributes of this wonderful veggie, it also contains a high levels of potassium and phosphorous that are believed to help increase hormone production. Heck Ben Franklin actually wrote about the stuff and WE ALL KNOW about his famous “love life”. Of course he wrote that it makes your pee smell funny but that’s not a very romantic story.
Chile Peppers: What do you think makes Latin flavor so HOT HOT HOT? Chills DUH, but there is some real science in this one. The capsaicin in chile peppers gets your blood pumping, you get flushed and might just feel a little warm and tingly (sort of like the effects of a great kiss)
Basil: There is an old folk tale in the Islands that Erzulie (the goddess of love) leaves a path of Basil under her feet.
Grapes: What would a beautiful Greek fresco be without the ethereal looking young slave woman feeding grapes to a God? How many famous love poems include references to wine (a grape by any other name) and lips? You can use your imagination from there.
Strawberries: Not a big surprise here, this one is a famous fruit of love.
Honey: Hippocrates himself, father of the Hippocratic Oath, prescribed this luscious golden elixir for amorous vigor. In India it’s given as a gift to newlyweds.
Rosemary: A traditional holistic treatment for headaches, rosemary opens the nasal passages allowing you to breathe easier, relax and enjoy the smell and each other.
Edible flora: Did you know that there are several types of tasty flowers you can cook with and eat? Being that Valentines day is the day of roses my recipe will use them but lilies, fuchsia, hibiscus, pansies and jasmine are some of the others you can choose (all are great dipped in chocolate or rolled in sugar)

Are ya ready to cook? Here are a couple of recipes I’ve prepared and recommend.

Pasta with Strawberries
(a sweet and savory dish)

2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
3 tbsp butter
1/2 pound of thin spaghetti or angle hair pasta
(torn basil for a garnish.. two for one on the aphrodisiacs in this dish)
Cook pasta according to the box directions. Put the berries in a blender and pulse until smooth, strain out seeds. In a medium pan melt butter, add cream and simmer on medium heat 2-3 minutes add in cheese until it melts into the cream. Turn off heat, mix in berry puree and pour over strained pasta. Serve with extra grated cheese on top and the torn basil.

Spicy Shrimp and Mango
(a sweet and spicy dish)
1 pound large shrimp (peeled and deviened)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced or grated)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup diced mango
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Heat oil on medium high heat, add in garlic and saute for 1-2 min until golden. Toss in shrimp, lemon, and pepper flakes. Cook until shrimp is pink. Add in mango, toss and serve.

Roses and Champagne
(a fragrant libation for the occasion)
Pedals of one rose
1 tbsp sugar (super fine if you can find it)
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 bottle champagne

Separate rose pedals into a bowl, add sugar. With a pestle or the back of a spoon gently crush the pedals until the sugar begins to dissolve. Put Champagne into a pitcher (glass is best).. and the juice (this gives flavor and helps keep it cold) and float the rose pedals in the mix.

I hope you all have a wonderfully romantic Valentine’s Day!