Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Save Money on Gift Wrapping

With Christmas around the corner and other holidays and birthdays all year long, expenses on gift wrapping can easily add up. And most gift wrapping, and thus your money, ends up in the garbage. But you can save money on gift wrapping without forfeiting a beautifully wrapped present.
  • The most obvious way to save money on gift wrapping is to reuse gift bags, party favor bags, tissue paper, ribbons, and bows you receive. You can even reuse wrapping paper if you are careful opening it.
  • Keep small boxes from clothes, shoes, tissues, jewelry, cereal, etc., to hold items that are not easily wrapped. Decorate the box itself instead of wrapping it, if possible.
  • Wash and reuse cookie and candy tins. Save cute baskets and other nice containers for holding gifts.
  • Buy gift wrapping supplies on sale right after the holidays to use for next year. Also check out thrift stores and garage sales for cheap wrapping paper, tins, mugs, vases, and baskets. Try craft stores for great sales on scrapbook paper to wrap small items.
  • If you are artistically talented, create your own gift bags and wrapping paper. Buy cheap plain-colored bags and paper to decorate or use brown lunch bags and construction paper.
  • If you are not artistically talented, use newspaper or magazines. Choose sections/articles that suit the gift recipient: the comics, sports news, advice columns, politics, beauty tips, crossword puzzle, etc.
  • If you have kids, let them decorate plain bags and paper for the gifts they are giving. Some creative ideas are to use stamps, stickers, old cards and decorations, and handprints.
  • For last-minute wrapping ideas, just use tissue paper and a ribbon or stuff small gifts in a toilet paper roll, wrap it, and tie the ends with ribbon.
  • Some stores offer free gift wrapping, so be sure to ask.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lilly's Lucky Penny Vintage Book Giveaway [CLOSED]

I found Lilly's Lucky Penny through a giveaway and felt like I was revisiting my childhood. Lilly's Lucky Penny finds and sells vintage toys, books, games, and home decor. Remember these?

*I love the original Little People toys! They were one of my favorite things to play with as a child.
*There is a large variety of books: Disney movies, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, and more.
*Everything is in good to excellent condition and they describe how used each item is.
*The sellers are friendly and accomodating.

*Shipping fees are pricey. However, as stated in their shop policies, "We do our best to estimate the cost of shipping and any supplies we might need, but sometimes we are wrong. If we overcharge you by more than $1, we will reimburse you through your PayPal. The shipping cost will usually be right on the package for you to see - but remember we're also paying for the box, tape, padded envelope, stuffing, gas to the Post Office, etc."

Lilly's Lucky Penny is giving away a surprise vintage book! They will choose the book based on the winner's information about their little reader.

Mandatory 1st Entry: Visit Lilly's Lucky Penny and tell me if you found anything there from your childhood. If not, what toy do you wish they had?

1 entry: Heart Lilly's Lucky Penny on Etsy. Leave your username.

1 entry: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect.

1 entry: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

1 entry: Post this giveaway on Facebook.

1 entry: Leave a meaningful comment (something more than "Great article!") on any non-giveaway post and tell me which one. You can do this up to 5 times.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Wednesday, November 30. The winner will be announced Thursday, December 1. Please leave your email in one of your entries so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Five Family Traditions for Thanksgiving

Here is the guest post I wrote for Mom's Point of View:

Thanksgiving brings to mind succulent, savory dishes and warm, homemade desserts. We usually don't think beyond delicious food. But this year, start some family traditions that will help you focus on giving thanks.

1. Make paper turkeys by tracing your hands. Have everyone write something they are thankful for on each feather (finger). Let everyone read their list before eating Thanksgiving dinner.

2. Bake Thanksgiving-shaped cookies or a pumpkin treat. Give the goodies to someone you are thankful for and include a thank-you note.

3. Cut out a bare paper tree and tape it to the wall or a door. Cut out fall-colored leaves and put them in an envelope or bag by the tree. For the next few days, have everyone write something they are grateful for that day on a leaf and tape it to the tree. The tree should be full by Thanksgiving. Read all the leaves after dinner.

4. As a family, shop for groceries to donate to your local homeless shelter or other center. Go here for ideas on good foods to donate.

5. Make handmade thank-you cards to use throughout the year as a way to remind your family to be grateful and show it.

Share your Thanksgiving family traditions!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Is Attachment Parenting?

When people meet those who practice attachment parenting, they think of spoiled, whiny children who never are disciplined. Or they think the parents are Hippie or liberal. I should know; I used to be one of those judgmental people--until I became a parent and learned the truth about attachment parenting.

So, what is attachment parenting? Let's begin with what it's not, adapted from an article by Dr. Sears:

1. Attachment parenting is not new. It isn't something born from the 70s or liberalism. "In fact, it's the way that parents for centuries have taken care of babies, until childcare advisors came on the scene and led parents to follow books instead of their babies." It is also called natural parenting because it feel natural and instinctive.

2. Attachment parenting is not indulgent parenting. "Attachment parenting is responding appropriately to your baby's needs, which means knowing when to say 'yes' and when to say 'no.' . . . Attachment parenting is a question of balance –not being indulgent or permissive, yet being attentive."

3. Attachment parenting is not martyr mothering. In the beginning you give a lot of yourself and time, but as Baby gets older, your response time lengthens and response frequency lessens. This principle I also learned from Elizabeth Pantley. Co-sleeping, night nursing, and no crying-it-out don't mean you have to sacrifice sleep and be miserable. It just means you approach the problem patiently and compassionately.

4. Attachment parenting is not hard. "Attachment parenting may sound like one big give-a-thon. Initially, there is a lot of giving. This is a fact of new parent life. Babies are takers, and parents are givers. One of the payoffs you will soon experience of attachment parenting is one we call mutual giving – the more you give to your baby, the more baby gives back to you. . . . True, this style of parenting takes a tremendous amount of patience and stamina, but it's worth it. Attachment parenting early on makes later parenting easier, not only in infancy but in childhood and teenage years. . . . When you truly know your child, parenting is easier at all ages."

5. Attachment parenting does not spoil your child. "Attachment parenting implies responding appropriately to your baby; spoiling suggests responding inappropriately. . . . There was no scientific basis to this spoiling theory, just unwarranted fears and opinions." Read the conclusions of research studies here.

Then what is attachment parenting? Dr. Sears sums it up in the 7 Bs:

1. Birth bonding
2. Breastfeeding
3. Babywearing
4. Bedding close to baby
5. Belief in the value of Baby's cry
6. Being aware of baby trainers
7. Balance

For more information check out "Attachment Parenting" on the Ask Dr. Sears site and the Attachment Parenting International site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joom Tote Bag Review

Yet another prize I won from that Modern Typography giveaway was $20 store credit to Joom. I checked out the shop to see what I could get. So many cute things! I couldn't decide. Until I saw this:

I've been looking for a diaper bag replacement. The one I used to have I gave to a mother in need (her husband died in a motorcycle accident shortly before she was due with their first baby). Then I used a cute tote bag I already had, but it got destroyed. I've been using my purse plus a small bag just for diapers and wipes. However, it would be nice to have just one bag to carry around when I don't need my purse, like at church. This one looked perfect. It was large and cute and had a pocket inside to put my phone and keys. I admit I like lots of compartments, but if I still used the small bag of diapers it would help keep the interior organized. It also had a button to close the bag partly.

And the best part? It was on sale for $17! I had some trouble with checking out, but Joom was very patient and helpful and ended up shipping it to me for free. I appreciated her kindness.

*Attached to the bag were a couple tags, one with the shop name and logo, the other saying thank you and giving care instructions. Very professional!
*She also included a thank-you card of one of her whimsical prints, which I accidentally crinkled taking out of the package. I think it's still frameable:

*The straps are not the cheap kinds that rub and fray. They are soft and comfortable. I think they're suede (I don't know materials!)
*Awesome customer service. She has over 6,000 sales and 100-percent positive feedback!
*Super cute designs in her shop.

*It would have been easier for both of us if there had been an "apply code" box at checkout.
*Update: the straps' fabric flakes off.

You can enter a giveaway to win one of her pillows on this other blog.

Easy Cream Cheese Wontons

Wontons of all kinds are delicious appetizers! And they're easier to make than you think.

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • powdered sugar
  • wonton wraps
  • water in a bowl
  • oil

  1. Put the cream cheese into a bowl. Add powdered sugar to taste and mix. You can also make them without the sugar, which I prefer.
  2. Place a square wrap on a cutting board, tilted so it looks like a diamond, not a square, from your point of view. Scoop about half a small spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into the center of the wrap. (Do not overstuff the wonton or cream cheese will spill out from the corners, causing the hot oil to splatter when the wonton is fried.)
  3. Fold the top corner of the wrap over to the bottom corner, forming an upside-down triangle. Seal the edges with water.
  4. Fold one side of the wonton wrap to the bottom corner and seal the edges with water. Repeat with the other side.
  5. Fry the wonton in hot oil until it is golden brown and crispy. Let it cool before eating.

Other options:

  1. Once the wontons are done frying, sprinkle them with more powdered sugar or coat them with a sugar and cinnamon mix.
  2. If you don’t want the wontons filled with cream cheese, fry them in strips. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and top them with strawberry sauce: puree strawberries with powdered sugar and then mix in chopped strawberries.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution Giveaway [CLOSED]

My favorite parenting author, Elizabeth Pantley, most notably known for her book The No-Cry Sleep Solution, has come out with another no-cry solution to add to her series: The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution. One piece of advice she gives is reorganizing the food in your kitchen:
What's in your kitchen? A typical home contains plenty of healthy food, along with an assortment of snacks, desserts, and less healthy fare. An adult can sift through all this and decide what's best to eat, picking healthy options and judiciously choosing the right time for and amount of junk food and desserts.Children, however, will naturally be drawn to the tastiest option, with no guilt over the resulting choice. They will open the refrigerator or pantry and pick the most appetizing thing they see.
How can you help your child make better choices? The best way is to put the healthy foods where they can be seen easily and allow your child to choose between the nutritious options in view. Place desserts and junk foods on high shelves or in opaque containers. This way you can dole out the treats when and where you feel they're appropriate.
She also emphasizes the importance of simple family mealtime, advising that "there are four things that shouldn't be brought to the dinner table: lectures, reprimands, rigid expectations, and demands for specific conversation. . . . Families that make a practice of dining together in a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere reap the most benefits."

If this book is anything like the sleep one, then I can guarantee following her counsel will result in miracles! Although Little Misters has no eating problems right now (he's picky with textures but will eat his vegetables pureed), if he ever does, this book will be the first thing I consult for answers.

Elizabeth Pantley is generously giving away a set of seven books on toddler eating and two sets of her seven No-Cry Solution books! All you need to do is blog about the book and send the link, your name, and your email address to her: elizabeth at pantley dot com. Do not comment on this post. The winner will randomly be chosen on November 30. For more information on Elizabeth Pantley and her books, check out her Web site.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Date Your Husband

Women are not the only ones who like to be chased. Your man wants to know he’s still exciting to you. Bring back the fun of dating into your marriage with these simple yet meaningful steps.

  1. Make sure that your date idea is something he enjoys, not something you enjoy or would like him to do for you. Thinking about his interests and being willing to do them shows him how much you love him.
  2. Be prepared. If the activity is something you are not very familiar with, such as golf, ask his buddies for help on setting a tee time and going over basic rules. Your husband will very impressed that you put in time to understand his interests.
  3. Ask him questions about the specific interest your date focuses on. For example, if you took him to see his favorite band play and you don’t know much about them, ask him when he first started listening to them or what his favorite song is.
  4. Be on your best behavior: no bringing up things about him that are bothering you or talking about your day or interests. Flirt with him throughout the date to keep it romantic and fun.
  5. End the date with a surprise, especially something related to the date, such as new golf balls or tickets to the next concert. He will feel that you are supporting him in his interests, reassuring him of your love and encouraging him to do the same for you.


The winner of the Brydferth brooch giveaway is comment #65 "Liked this blog on FB (2), May Equality Shum" by May Shum. Congratulations!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Who Needs Toys?

I've said it once and I'll say it a thousand times more: why do we bother buying babies toys when they'd much rather play with random junk around the house? Proof positive:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

Service does not have to be big or time consuming. Sometimes the best service is small, random acts of kindness. These little but meaningful acts brighten other people’s day and make them feel loved. Try one of the following ideas to surprise a stranger, friend, neighbor, or family member. There are ideas for every situtation and age!

  • Put coins into a parking meter running low.
  • Return stray shopping carts in the parking lot so that they don’t damage cars.
  • Pay for something for someone waiting behind you in line.
  • Give up your seat on a bus or in a waiting room.
  • Hand out or randomly leave treats for students studying in the library during midterms and finals or send some with your child to class (with the teacher's permission).
  • Hold open the door for people and help them carry in packages or other loads.
  • Give $5 gift cards for fast food places to homeless people.
  • Smile and say hello!
  • Doorbell ditch, leaving behind treats, a small gift, or a kind note.
  • Shovel your neighbor’s driveway, weed their yard, or wash their car.
  • Buy or make a lunch for a friend.
  • Clean the house for your roommate(s) or a friend.
  • Walk your neighbor's dog (if you and the dog are both comfortable with the idea) or help care for a pet.
  • Help a lone mother with her kids at church.
  • Babysit for a friend so she can nap, have some "me time," or go on a date with her husband.
  • Send thoughtful texts wishing friends good luck on a test or interview, giving words of comfort or humor on a difficult day, or telling them when something reminded you of a memory together.
  • Do a family member’s chores, especially when he or she is busy or wants to go out.
  • Give a younger sibling a ride.
  • Let a sibling borrow or use something of yours.
  • Change a baby’s diaper or comfort a crying baby.
  • Leave notes in your family members’ sack lunches, drawers, shoes, purses, wallets, backpacks, etc., for them to find.
  • Arrange for babysitters and surprise your spouse with a date night.
  • Give your spouse a massage.
  • Surprise your kids with a stop for ice cream on the way home from school or errands.
  • Send hand-drawn pictures to grandparents or a sibling in college or on a mission.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thrift Store Treasure

Nearly three weeks ago I went thrift store shopping, a favorite pastime of mine. I was looking for baby things for shower gifts; I was trying to be good and not buy anything for myself. But when I went to my last stop, the Goodwill right down the street, I didn't expect to find this treasure!

This Step2 kitchen was in excellent condition (only one piece missing where that hole is; not even sure what the piece was), came with some dishes, and was only $12.99! I tried looking up the new price online, but couldn't find this particular one. However, their smallest kitchens start at $90. I think it was more expensive than that because I found this exact one on Craigslist for $80! I'm so glad I didn't pass up this steal of a deal! Little Misters loves it. His favorite is the frying pan. He carries it everywhere.

I love that this kitchen will last for years. When Little Misters doesn't play with it anymore, his younger siblings will.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Brydferth Brooch Giveaway [CLOSED]

I came across the shop Brydferth while browsing Etsy. It's easy to see why I stopped to look:

Stunning, aren't they? Her shop is aptly named: brydferth is Welsh for beautiful. I immediately contacted the seller, Hailey Rose, who happily agreed to do a giveaway. That is, after she recovered from her best creation yet: a healthy baby boy!

Today I received my surprise package and was very excited to open it. She sent me two lovely things: a rosette ring and a rosette brooch (love brooches!). I was very impressed with how professionally everything was packaged.

*Beautiful designs and colors.
*Variety of items for a variety of occasions.
*Brydferth is stitched on the back of the brooch.
*High-quality work. The rosettes are very firmly attached to the ring and pin.
*Hailey is very sweet, friendly, and professional!

*The pin type (rotating head) is harder to open. However, it is much safer with a baby around.
*The frayed style is not my favorite, but I still think everything is gorgeous!

Brydferth is generously giving away a two-inch rosette brooch in the color of your choice!

Mandatory 1st Entry: Visit Brydferth and tell me your favorite item.

3 entries: Blog about it (something as simple as "p.s. check out this Brydferth brooch giveaway!" in a regular post), linking to this page. Leave the link to your post.

2 entries: Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect.

2 entries: Like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle on Facebook.

1 entry: Like Brydferth on Facebook.

1 entry: Heart Brydferth on Etsy. Leave your username.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, November 13. The winner will be announced Monday, November 14. Please leave your email in one entry so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Hit or Not to Hit?

Spanking, slapping, hitting, and cocotasos (hard raps to the head with a fist) were disciplinary actions I grew up with. I was ok with spanking and hitting hands and planned to do so with my children. However, since becoming a mother and researching discipline, I have changed my mind.

I do not think physical discipline is the right answer. Yes, it works in stopping certain behaviors--I remember quitting my actions at the threat of a spanking!--but it is not a good and effective method in the long run.

The attachment parenting Web site sums it up best: "Hitting your son would teach him to fear you rather than trust you and would model that violence is an acceptable way to change someone else's behavior. Hitting will anger and humiliate him, but it won't be effective at teaching him to regulate his emotions or to control his impulses."

1. Fear
This was true in my childhood. I feared my parents' anger. I do not want my child to behave out of fear, especially fear of his parents. I want him to behave because he knows it is right. I read in an article in BYU Magazine about teaching children to make choices based on right and wrong, not on disappointing or sorrowing their parents (or anyone else, for that matter). This way they develop a conscience and moral code that will guide them throughout their lives.

2. Violence
Violence is not an acceptable way to change someone else's behavior. I do not want my son thinking, "Mommy hits me to get me to stop, so I will hit my little brother/sister to get him/her to stop!" Besides, it would be hypocritical to stop my son from hitting others by hitting him.

3. Humiliation
I remember a time when my mother slapped me at 16 or 17. I felt extremely angry and humiliated. I do not want my son to feel that way and damage our relationship. I want him to trust and respect me.

4. Control
The point of discipline is to teach children how to tell right from wrong, how to respond to different situations, and how to regulate emotions and control impulses. What kind of example am I setting to my son by losing my temper and acting on it? If I show my son that I can control myself, then he will learn how to as well. This last point is the one I struggle with the most. I am not perfect at not hitting, although I am against it. I have been guilty of smacking my baby's hand when he hits or scratches me, and I am not proud of it. I have to constantly be on guard and remind myself that my son learns by watching me. (I love how parenthood is shaping me into a better person!)

Elizabeth Pantley discusses more thoroughly the faults of spanking and hitting. How do you feel about hitting and other physical discipline?
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