Custom Banners, Signs, Decals & More {Review & Giveaway} ENDED

Feb 26, 2011 offers custom marketing products that you can design yourself, from vinyl banners and yard signs to bumper stickers and car window decals. Their products are a great, affordable solution for professionals, small business owners, non-profits, and individuals. There is no set-up fee for artwork; you can change fonts, colors, and wording or upload your own logo or photo. Their easy-to-use interface allows you to create your custom product in a matter of minutes. The hardest part is deciding what you want.

When contacted me, I was planning our triple birthday party for the boys. With all of the birthdays that we have around here, I went with a birthday banner to display outside during my boys' birthday weeks. Of course, the timing was a bit off to get it in time for our party, but it will definitely be put to use for Levi's 4th birthday soon. While they do have a selection of birthday banners, I chose a style from their business section and changed the wording. There are so many options for customizing, especially when you look beyond the labeled categories. Once I submitted my order on Feb. 21, I was given a delivery estimate of Mar. 2. So, I was very surprised to find the box on my porch three days later. The 3' X 6' banner is made of thick vinyl and has metal grommets at the corners. Now, I have to say that I normally avoid vinyl, but for the intended purpose of this sign, it is necessary to withstand the outdoor elements. The colors are bright and the details are clear, easily readable from a distance. My guys think it's super cool and can't wait to let the whole world our neighborhood know when it's their birthday.

Buy It
Go to and find something that meets your needs. Maybe a banner for your annual yard sale or a yard sign for the block party. A bumper sticker about something you're passionate about or a window decal to declare your husband's love of hunting. A magnetic sign for your home party business or vinyl lettering on your rear window with your website. Make your choice and then use the promo code MOMBLOGGERS to get 10% off of your order.
Update: Until March 13, enter MARCHING2011 at checkout to receive free shipping! This offer cannot be combined with the 10% discount, so check to see which one will give you the best deal.


Win It
Do you like our birthday banner? Well, I took the liberty of making a birthday banner for one of my readers. It will look just like ours only with red lettering, like this:

Please leave a separate comment for each entry and include your email address each time so I can contact you if you win. 

MANDATORY: You must follow me publicly via Google Friend Connect. 

Extra entries:
  • Visit and tell us what you would buy. {1 entry}
  • Follow and tell us what your favorite bumper sticker says or would say. G-rated, please. {1 entry}
  • Follow me on Facebook. {1 entry}
Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends 3/12/11 at 11:59 p.m. Winner will be picked and announced the following day. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen. 

Disclaimer: This was not a paid review. The opinions stated are solely the reviewer's. Thank you to for providing the products for this review and giveaway.

Coconut Cupcakes

Feb 21, 2011

Mmmm...that's the best word I can come up with to describe these delicious cupcakes. Even my husband, who does not like coconut, loves these cupcakes. They are overflowing with wonderful coconutty goodness and flavor. I like to think that they are healthier because of the benefits of coconut. This is my slightly adapted version of Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. {We usually eat them naked...sans frosting, silly.} And my recipe is doubled, so if you only want 12 cupcakes, cut the amounts in half. When I make them again, I'll add a new picture, but for now you can see them as our birthday cupcakes.

Coconut Cupcakes

3 1/2 c unbleached flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
3 lg eggs (or 6 egg whites)
1 1/2 c (most of 13.5 oz can) unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 c organic sugar
1 c coconut oil or butter, room temperature
2 c unsweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, coconut milk, and extracts. In mixing bowl, cream sugar and coconut oil or butter on medium. Blend until light and fluffy (about 4 min.). Alternately, add flour mixture and milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture in three additions. Fold in coconut. Use ice cream scoop to fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until set and just turning lightly golden. Cool in pan five minutes; remove to cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting, if desired.

Linked to Tuesdays at the TableTempt My Tummy Tuesday, Delectable TuesdayDomestically Divine, Raising Homemakers, and Simply Homemaking.

A Triple Header Birthday Party

Saturday's party went very well. Normally, I don't ask for help, but I'm working on delegating. So when my mother-in-law showed up 30 minutes early, I asked her to make the deviled eggs. I had already boiled the eggs that morning and Papa Bear loves his momma's deviled eggs. The older boys helped take care of last minute house cleaning and Papa Bear had taken the boys for haircuts on Friday. The only things that were left out because of my procrastination were the cheese cubes and the olive & cheddar appetizers. I purposefully planned the party for 2:00 p.m. so that, hopefully, everyone would have already eaten lunch and not be starving. I served simple snacks: crudites {fancy for cut-up veggies}, pretzels, tortilla chips, black bean dip, hummus, ranch dip, deviled eggs, and chile-lime peanuts. The night before, I baked six dozen coconut cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes. I was still adding the buttercream frosting when our guests began to arrive. I served sweet tea and Sierra Mist {I didn't want to buy soda so it was a compromise for me}. The funny thing is that almost everyone showed up with a to-go cup of their favorite soda fix from a fast food restaurant. They know me so well.

Now, I'm going to show you pictures but don't expect anything fantastic. I am all about balance and simplicity...and sanity.

In keeping with the color theme, we also had black licorice twists and yogurt raisins. It is completely possible to throw a birthday party without artificial food coloring (I think they added something to the raisins, though). I used the cupcake toppers and decorations to add color. My friend laughed at me because I covered the peanut canisters with blue paper to coordinate.

The birthday boys

Why Do I Procrastinate?

Feb 18, 2011

My name is Christy and I am a procrastinator. 

{Hello, Christy!}

I am a planner. I love to come up with ideas, research them, make plans. But I'm a slacker when it comes to the actual doing part. A few weeks ago, I began planning M2's first birthday party, but that quickly changed when I found out that my niece had already invited half of my guests to her Thirty One party scheduled on the same day. Since NG's birthday was the following Saturday, the only other option was to plan a combination birthday party. And with LJ's birthday only two weeks after that, I figured that I should knock out three "birds" with one stone. So, goodbye to the Very Hungry Caterpillar theme.

Have you ever tried to come up with decorating ideas for a party for a one year old, four year old, and a twelve year old? 

With NG's input, I researched party ideas and themes. I could have gone with the traditional primary colors. That's what I would usually do. But I wanted to do something special this time. We finally agreed upon a color  theme based on these cupcake toppers on Etsy. Black and blue. It doesn't sound like it would be appropriate for a kids' birthday party, right? But we really like it. Using scrapbook paper and cardstock, I have been making my own cupcake toppers and am making a banner today. Sometime. 

And also, sometime today and tomorrow morning, I am:

Doing laundry.

Cleaning the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

Taking the boys for haircuts.

Going to the store.

Boiling eggs for deviled eggs.

Cutting vegetables for the veggie tray.

Making black bean dip.

Cutting up cheese cubes.

Making four or five dozen cupcakes.

Brewing a couple gallons of sweet tea.

Showering and getting ready before guests arrive.

The thought crossed my mind to bake the cupcakes last weekend and freeze them but...I'm a procrastinator. And I really should have gotten the boys haircuts sometime this week but...I'm a procrastinator. The boys have been enlisted to help clean, however, because although I may procrastinate, I definitely know how to delegate. And my family and friends are already used to showing up while I'm still blow drying my hair or fixing the food. They still love me. 

I should probably get off of the computer now. I'll have pictures of the party soon and I'll let you know what did not get done before the party. 

Favorite Family Games

Feb 17, 2011

My boys love to play board games but the older ones tend to gravitate toward the Xbox instead. So, along with reviving family nights, we are going to bring out the board games and make them play! Actually, it won't be difficult to get the boys to play...the reluctant one will probably be Papa Bear.

And while I know the value of games in learning, I haven't been utilizing them in our homeschool lately. That's because of the wide range of ages and having a toddler. It's so frustrating for LJ when the older boys are playing a game that he doesn't understand. And no game is safe from M2 unless it's played at the kitchen table, but that's going to change soon. M2 has started climbing on low stools, so it's only a matter of time before he can scale the chairs and table.

The older boys love Monopoly and we have many versions of it. The most recent addition was the electronic version Monopoly Here and Now and it's the one they pick every time. I still prefer the original version simply because there is much more thinking and learning involved by having to keep track of your own money. We also have the original MonopolyDogopoly, Monopoly Jr., a British version that my aunt brought back for me when I was a teen, and an Irish version that my mother brought back from her travels as a flight attendant. Keeping with the money theme, they also like the Game of Life. Although, every time they play, I find the tiny people for weeks afterward.

We have a lot of games in our closet, but here are the ones that get the most use in our home:

NG and IBc love this strategy game. LJ likes to take turns placing
the tiles on the board or just making designs.

M1 used to wear me out with playing this simple game. Now his younger
brothers have discovered the joy of this counting strategy game.

The hobbits love this cooperative game. It's similar to Hi Ho Cherry-O.
We have the old oversized version with wooden fruit.

Mastermind for Kids
A great logic game for kids.

Good old checkers. We have had a beautiful wooden chess set for years
but no one was motivated to learn how to play. I purchased some
wood checker pieces and now it's getting regular use.

This post was inspired by Ordinary Life MagicIf you would like to have the chance to win a new game (value up to $30) for your family, head over for her CSN game giveaway. It ends Friday, February 18, 2011.

Happy Birthday to My Sweet Baby Valentine

Feb 13, 2011

Knowing that M2 is my last baby has been so bittersweet and I have tried to treasure every single moment so far. But it seems like this was the quickest first year yet. M2 is definitely blessed to be the baby in this family. He is adored by all of his big brothers and never lacks love and attention. He has such a sweet, lovable personality and I'm blessed to be his Momma. He was my best Valentine's Day gift ever.

At the end of his first year, he has six teeth, can sign "eat" and wave bye-bye, plays patty-cake, gives love pats and kisses, loves music and dancing, can't get enough of his Daddy or brothers, is fascinated with the trash can, comes running when he hears water filling the tub, gives big, toothy grins when you point a camera at him, and loves his nurnies Momma.

Bugaloo Baby Shoes Closing Sale

Feb 12, 2011

Love soft-soled baby shoes, like Robeez or Shoo Shoos, but can't justify spending that much money on them? I found Bugaloo Shoes right before Miles started crawling and bought him a few pairs. They are adorable, well-made, and, best of all, affordable. I was even planning a review to post here but Heidi has announced that she's closing up shop to work on her graphic design business. Bad news for future mommas who would have loved to get soft-soled leather baby shoes for only $14, instead of $25-$30. But we can help Heidi move on to the next phase of her life by shopping her sale. All shoes are only $9.99!! You have to hurry because the boys' size 6-12 months is already sold out.

Miles alternately wears the two pairs in the pictures everyday. They are 12-18 months and he has almost a finger width at the toe still for growth. An extra detail that I really like is that there is a cotton lining on the interior sole. We have already washed the dog pair and they came out great. I just tossed them in with his clothes and air-dried them.

So, go check out Bugaloo Shoes and stock up on some sweet little shoes for your little one or to have on hand for baby showers. For only $10, you'll have an awesome gift and make everyone ooh and aah.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

Marriage is all about compromises. Even when it comes to simple things, like what you clean the windows with. Papa Bear hasn't minded too many of the changes I've made over the years, but he does like streak-free windows. And toilets that smell like bleach, but there's not a compromise there. I've purchased a few different kinds of all-natural glass cleaners and made my own with just vinegar and water. None of them meet Papa Bear's standards. Since his police cruiser is his "office" and visibility is a very important factor in doing his job well, our compromise was that he would use (and keep) commercial (read: toxic) window cleaner in his car.

But now...I found a recipe for Heloise's window cleaner and after trying it on a couple of mirrors in the house, this may be the one. My only concern is that it contains rubbing alcohol. I know it's dangerous so I'll definitely have to be more vigilant about keeping it out of reach of the little ones than I was with the plain vinegar/water solution. Just wondering, is rubbing alcohol considered natural?

Heloise's Window Cleaner

In a clean, empty spray bottle, combine:
12-16 oz water
1/2 c white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/4 c rubbing alcohol (70%)
 a few drops of essential oil (lavender, orange, cinnamon, etc.), opt.

Heloise and many others recommend using newspaper to clean windows also. I stick to paper towels or microfiber cloths because we don't get the newspaper. It would be a great way to recycle them, though.

The true test of this homemade glass cleaner will come when I use it inside the van. I hate do not care for cleaning the van when it's cold outside, so it has accumulated quite a bit of filth. I have a couple of boys who love to display their artistic abilities in the condensation on the windows.

Baby Steps: Making Better Choices in Baking

Feb 11, 2011

Are you desiring to make healthier choices for your family but aren't quite ready to grind your own flour or soak your grains? Do you think that eating better means giving up your favorite treats? Don't know where to start? Well, here's your chart! Just begin replacing your less-than-healthy ingredients with better choices and baby step your way to health.

Average Choice
                Better Choice              

Unsalted butter or extra virgin coconut oil
Vegetable shortening (Crisco)
Non-hydrogenated shortening (Spectrum) or extra virgin coconut oil
Organic milk, plain almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk
White sugar
Rapadura, sucanat, or turbinado sugar (1:1)
* Honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup (*adjustments need to be made when using in baking)
Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
Organic confectioner’s sugar J

Baking powder

Aluminum-free baking powder (Rumford)
Table salt

Sea salt
Bleached white flour
Unbleached or naturally white flour, white or regular whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour
Vegetable oil
Extra virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed canola oil, applesauce
Quick oats

Old-fashioned rolled oats
Artificial flavorings
Pure vanilla, almond, lemon, & peppermint extracts
Milk chocolate chips
Semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (made with real vanilla, not vanillin), carob chips, grain sweetened baking chips
Boxed gelatin (Jello)
Unflavored gelatin made with 100% fruit juice

Boxed pudding

Boxed cake & brownie mix

Homemade (butter, confectioner’s sugar, milk)

15% Off Mindware

Feb 8, 2011 Logo

As homeschoolers, we love educational games and toys. Playtime and learning time rolled into one. That makes the kids and Mom happy. MindWare carries many of the best learning games, puzzles, and activities available and until February 15, 2011, you can get 15% off your MindWare purchase by using the code FEB15

We have the marble run and the boys have all loved it. While I'm attracted to the more natural wooden sets, this bright-colored plastic set is much more affordable and very durable. There can be frustrating moments when your structure comes apart {similar to Legos} but that is part of the challenge. One of the boys' new favorite games is Blokus. Even Levi likes to play by just taking turns fitting pieces onto the board, more like a cooperative game. We have been getting the MindWare catalog for several years and my wishlist is getting long. They have lots of things that are perfect for boys. I really want to get the Contraptions Catapult for Noah for his birthday but it won't be available until about a week later. And Levi would absolutely LOVE the Design & Drill Activity Center. I almost got the Perplexus for the whole family at Christmas and now I wish I would have. It would be great for travelling and for waiting for Mom to finish working with a brother during school time. The Ultra Stomp Rocket would appeal to every boy in the house, including the 16 and 38 year old ones. I would probably need to get more than one to save my sanity.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate with MindWare and if you make a purchase through any of the links above, I will receive a small percentage. Thanks!

Slow-Cooker Italian Chicken & Vegetables

Feb 2, 2011

I always keep ingredients on hand for this recipe. My family loves it because it's hearty and delicious. I love how easy it is to make. The amounts listed are flexible. This recipe makes about 6 servings but, as you can see from my pictures, I usually just fill up my 6 qt. crock pot as full as I can. You can increase/decrease or even add other vegetables, like quartered onions, green beans, etc. to suit your family's tastes.

Italian Chicken & Veggies

3 lbs baby red potatoes, washed & quartered 
1 lb baby carrots (or carrots, peeled & sliced)
4-5 frozen chicken breasts (or equivalent amount of tenders)
1 pkt Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix, prepared as directed
1 c water

Place ingredients in crockpot in order listed, pouring Italian dressing over all. 

I used Idaho potatoes here because that's what I had.

I add the extra water to the dressing, prepared with white vinegar and EVOO. If you want a boost in flavor, try apple cider or Balsamic vinegar.

Cook on low 8+ hours or high 6-8 hours, until chicken and veggies are tender (carrots tend to take the longest). Shred chicken and stir together before serving. After shredding chicken, you can let it cook a while longer to thicken, if desired.

Serve with a salad and buttered bread or rolls {to soak up the yummy"gravy"}.

Linked up at Raising Homemakers.

Conversations With LJ

M2 was having his mid-morning "nurnie" and LJ wanted me to do something. M2 pulled away for a moment and then decided he wasn't finished...
LJ: "He wants more! {sigh} This is gonna take a while."

Papa Bear brought home a bunch of flowers for me and they were on the kitchen table in a vase of water. A few days later, the hobbits noticed that they were drooping...
LJ: "Momma, your flowers are dying! You need to give 'em some soil."

We were driving past Dairy Queen...
LJ: "Are you going to get me some ice cream, Momma?"
Me: "Hmm..."
LJ: "Say yes, Momma. Just say yes. Say yes, Momma. I yike ice cream. Say yes, Momma."

LJ's favorite random words: "Butternut" & "Bourbon getty" {???}

Wordless Wednesday # 10 - "This Time Last Year"

Time4Learning - Free Trial & Upcoming Review

Feb 1, 2011

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

One of my sons and I have hit a wall with math. It is affecting our relationship and his self-esteem so I am looking for help. While researching math curriculums and homeschooling issues, I ran across Time4Learning and thought we should give it a try. He may do better learning from "someone else" for a while and it can't hurt anything. It will also help Isaac, who has suddenly developed a huge appetite for learning.
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