Enchanted Mommy

Reindeer Made Out of a Paper Bag — what?!?!

Okay, there is one thing in my life that I would like to be a braggard about.  That’s my gym.  It’s AH-MAZE-ING.  They’ve hired a preschool teacher to come in most mornings to do “school” stuff with them.  Here’s what Ella came home with the other day:

Cute Reindeer

All you need is some brown construction paper, googly eyes, paper bag and a cotton ball!

It doesn’t take much to figure out this project, but she loved it!!  I would probably try the red balls to be Rudolph!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday Night Idea in December!

You don’t have to do this on a Saturday night, but it was a great relaxing way to end our busy day (and it’s free).  I was a little bummed when we couldn’t find a sitter so we could go out for my friend’s birthday, but I didn’t let that get the total best of me. We ended up making a family night out by looking at all of the incredible Christmas lights.  It’s amazing how much time and effort people put into their lights and decorations.

Here are a few of the houses we drove by:

pretty Christmas lights

I love this picture. Look at the reflection of the moon!

I purposefully took a picture of this house because of the Grinch.  I always joke with my daughter saying my husband is the mean Grinch.

Christmas lights

Simple and nice!

This is a lot of work!

lighted christmas tree

Neat idea!

I thought the tree was really cool.  Creative!

Lighted Manger

The real meaning of Christmas!

I loved this!  Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle bustle of Christmas that we forget why we celebrate it.


We stopped by the grocery store on the way home and I picked up some ice cream and whipped cream.  We came home and my 2 year old watched Rudolph, my husband played with the baby while I made these:

Yummy milkshake

Perfect ending to a perfect evening!

Wow, what a fun night as a family!

Crock Pot Beef Stew

delicious stew

It's so yummy!

Soups are just so delicious in the winter!  I got this recipe off food dot com.  I love this recipe because you just throw everything into the crock pot.  There is no before cooking.

Here’s what you need:

Beef stew in crock pot ingredients

The ingredients needed for the delicious stew!

  • 2 lbs stew meat (no need to brown)
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 cup red wine
  • Extra veggies (I used peas, onions and chopped carrots)
Directions (can’t be any more simple):
  • Put all ingredients into crock pot (I kept my frozen peas out and put them in 30 minutes before we were ready to eat it).
  • Eat and enjoy!


Parents in Retirement

I’ve reached an interesting point in my life where my parents have gone from their prime earning years to a time when they no longer work for new income but instead live off money they have saved over the years.  So far, their retirement has been an interesting experience as they have gone through a number of different stages.

Initially, my parents seemed bored.   After spending their entire adult lives building careers and raising a family they suddenly had more free time then they knew what to do with.  My father played a lot of spider solitaire on the computer and my mother would spend hours working in her garden.  When winter came around she suddenly lost her primary past time and didn’t really know what to do.    They weren’t sad but they weren’t full of energy either.  I worried about what the next portion of their life would be like.

Then they got active.   Before I knew it my father was building horse pens on his property, having pipe laid so that the property would be able to water all areas on an irrigation system.  He started taking his boat out and was doing a lot of fishing.  My mother started book clubs, spending time helping out at the thrift store, and visited often with my sister and her family.  They were doing more and more and really seemed to be enjoying their lives fully again.

Their activity has only increased over the years.  I’ll be honest that I believe they have more responsibilities and tasks now than they did at the end of their careers.  They’re helping the community, volunteering at church to help people with their own family history, and helping the community learn about grants available to help them improve their farm properties.  They assist at local universities, travel often to see friends and family and host guests almost every month.

One of the major concerns I had was their ability to sustain themselves on a limited income and walked through their financial situation with my family.   My father explained:

  • They had saved a significant amount that provided a solid income stream through interest
  • Social Security and other government assistance for retirees actually brought down their costs like health insurance
  • Without children, their financial obligations were mostly gone
  • Their cars and boats were paid for and received tax benefits for having horses on their property
  • They were earning more in retirement than most Americans lived off of.
  • They had options, like utilizing a reverse mortgage from companies like AAG, should they need additional income streams

Overall it’s been a great experience to see my parents in retirement.  They’re busy and happy and my children love seeing their active and engaging grandparents.  I’m happy to know they’re financially sound.

Sweet Anna’s Consignment Finds!

I love all of my consignment finds!  I usually save 70% plus than store sale prices and everything is in great condition.  Here are my consignment finds for my baby girl.

I spent $4 on this outfit for Anna.  Under her sweater she’s wearing a long sleeve onesie that was Ella’s along with her shoes and tights.  Her sweater and hat cost $3 and her skirt was $1 at the dollar dash.  I don’t think there could be a happier baby!

Baby girl with consignment clothes

Can't get much happier than this! Sweater, hat and skirt costs $4.

I got her several Carter pajamas!  I even found her these cute Christmas pjs!  $2 each.  Sadly, I couldn’t hand down Ella’s because they are opposite seasons.  Yes, she is a girl, should have thrown a head band on her!

Christmas pajamas

Christmas jammies for $2!

My favorite purchase was this “like new” Oshkosh coat.  I recently went with my sister to Sam’s club and she got my great nephew an Oshkosh coat and spent $30.  That was actually a good price for it.  I paid $7 for this perfect condition coat.  It’s so adorable too!

consignment winter coat

Probably never worn Oshkosh coat for $7.

Check out my other consignment finds too!

Here are the toys that I found!
Ella’s finds!!

Make Your Own Bread Crumbs

bread crumbs

Beautiful and fresh bread crumbs.

I recently posted a crock pot Chicken Parmesan recipe.  I never buy pre-made bread crumbs for a couple of reasons.  I only eat whole wheat and I haven’t seen 100% whole wheat bread crumbs at the store and I would much rather have something more fresh.  So, I make my own and it’s SO simple.

You need:
bread of your choice
food processor

I toasted two pieces of bread and pulled them apart and stuck them in my mini food processor (another favorite kitchen gadget that I believe we got on a black Friday for $5).

Make your own bread crumbs

After your bread is toasted, throw it in the food processor.

Process it up and you are finished!

ready bread crumbs

This is what they looked like in the processor.

Most recipes call for what you want to add to the bread crumbs, but you can also be creative with spices and parmesan cheese!


Saving Money While Being a Stay at Home Mommy!

I’ve sort of eased my way into become a full time SAHM.  I used to be a full time PE teacher.  Once I had my oldest, Ella, I started working part time (every other day).  Then, when I had Anna, I became a full time SAHM.  I say full time because it is a full time job, just different.  I’m going to share with you ways that I have saved money and it’s almost as much money as I used to make (and I’m not kidding in the least bit).

1. Find fun free or almost free stuff to do with your kids.
Sometimes free stuff is the best.  We have a great library here that has two story times a week, lots of parks, a mall that has an indoor play area, and a website that has a ton of inexpensive things to do with your child that has a calendar of all the things that are going on in the area.  I also take my girls to the gym almost everyday.  It definitely isn’t free, but if I’m using it everyday, they have a lot of new toys to play with and they get to be around a lot of other kids (much cheaper than preschool at this age where they learn by play).  Also, plan some play dates at different houses!  It’s fun for the kids and moms!

2.  Limit eating out to almost never.
Now that I stay at home, I can usually cook or prepare all meals myself.  Eating out adds up SO fast.  Even if it’s fast food.  The other day I picked up McDonalds for my brother and his three kids and it was $20 just for them.  NO JOKE.  I can make an awesome home cooked meal for way less than that and have enough for leftovers the next day for lunch.  When I worked, I was tired when I got home, so we ate out so much more frequently.  Also, if we do eat out, it’s because I’ve gotten an amazing groupon, living social or restaurant dot com.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten out without a coupon.  Wait, I take it back.  I will pick Ella up a 4 piece nuggets every once in a while for $1 (she’s never once had a kids meal except at chick fil a where I’ve had a coupon).  Remember, I also make my own baby food!

3.  Compare coupons with the sale items.
I always clip the coupons and even print a ton off the internet.  It does take time, but I have it.  This month for all four of us, I’m spending about $75 per week on groceries AND as mentioned above, we aren’t eating out. I usually buy my meat in bulk at the beginning of the month at Sam’s and then buy the rest at the store with what is on sale that week.

4.  Plan your grocery list out before you go to the store.
If I don’t plan out every meal before I head to the store, I randomly grab things that we don’t need and they go bad quickly.  Wasting food adds up so fast!  I even plan my meals around what is on sale at the store or for what I have coupons for.  Over the course of the year, I save so much on groceries than your average person.  Also, if I know I have an event coming up I buy nonperishable items far in advance if they are on sale (for example, I knew we were having a BBQ for Ella’s 2nd birthday and Teets had chips buy 2 get 3 free, I bought them 6 weeks in advance).

5.  As annoying as it is, subscribe to store email lists and “like” them on Facebook AND subscribe to money saving blogs.
I know, I know it’s so annoying, but I’ve gotten amazing deals at high priced stores for being on the email list. I always get an extra 20 or 30% off with free shipping.  I love it too because I can shop without the girls pulling things off the shelves and squeezing between racks with a huge double stroller.  It’s also helpful when you “like” them on Facebook because they also give out promo codes to fans.

Money saving blogs are awesome.  There are so many out there that do the work for you!  They will give you meals on a budget or will compare the grocery lists with coupons for the best deals.  Ha, on here you can even learn how to cut your husband or sons hair!

6.  Budget Budget Budget and check credit card statements often.
We have a budget for everything. We have a limit each month what we can spend on the credit card and you better believe I’m on top of every charge.  If I notice we are spending too much on let’s say “fun stuff”, I nip it right there.  We are done for the month and find other fun free things to do.

7.  Get rid of your huge car payments if it’s possible.
Our cars are completely paid off AND they are older.  Both of our cars are ’03s and uncool, but we are fortunate that they are paid off and still in great condition.  We do try to take good care of them with keeping up with the maintenance.  I know several of our couple friends that have two car payments (spending close to $1,000 per month on payments + the extra insurance for being a nice new vehicle).

8.   Don’t be afraid of Craigslist, Ebay or Consignment Shops/Sales.
I’ve talked so much about consignment sales, but really I have saved so much money with my girls clothes AND toys.  I also sell and buy things on Craigslist.  It’s so convenient and a lot of my items are in “like new” condition.

9.  Stock up on sale items.
For example, I bought dog food the other day when it was on sale AND if you spend $50 at this store, they gave you a $10 gift card.  So, I bought enough sale items (including dog food) that I will for sure (I didn’t buy it just because it was on sale) use and got a free $10.  I did this twice so now I have two free $10 gift cards when I just bought things that I would buy any way!

10.  Shop around for the best deals.
You might have to go to two grocery stores because one has veggies on sale where another has fruit.  Plan it into your day.  Or, you might call around to get the best deal on car or life insurance.  Trust me it’s SO worth it.


My pay was public so I don’t mind sharing.  We live in northern Virginia.  When I worked full time I made right at 50k and half that when I switched to part time.  Child care is also expensive, it’s around $500 a week for two kids (give or take $50).  So, you can immediately subtract that from my salary and all of the money I save. Surprisingly enough, we are saving as much money per month as we did when I was working.  You can do it!

Slow Cooker: Chicken Parmesan

chicken parm from crock pot

Definitely not the most beautiful thing in the world, but oh so delicious!

So, I have to admit my recent obsession for the slow cooker.  I have seriously fallen in love with it and there are a few reasons why.  However, I will save that for a different post.  We went over to my friends house for dinner two weeks ago and she made chicken parm in the crock pot.  It is DELICIOUS!  I decided to make it too.  I did modify it (of course) to fit phase 3 of the South Beach Diet.  She got the recipe from crockpot365 dot blogspot dot com.

Here is what you need:

chicken parm in crock pot

This is what you need for chicken parm in the crock pot!


  • It calls for 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, but I used 6
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I made my own 100% whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 t Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 beaten egg
  • sliced mozzarella cheese
  • favorite jarred marinara sauce (I used hunts garlic and herb in the can because there is no sugar)
  • spread the 1 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert
  • whip the egg with a fork in a separate bowl
  • mix the bread crumbs with the seasonings and the parmesan cheese in another separate dish
  • dip the chicken into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides with crumbs, cheese and seasonings
chicken and things for chicken parm

I did an assembly line.

  • place the chicken breast pieces in the bottom of the crock
  • layer 2-3 slices of mozzarella cheese on top
  • cover with entire jar of marinara sauce
sauce covering chicken in crock pot

Ready to cook in crock pot!

  • close lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4. If your chicken is still frozen, it will take longer (although I would never recommend putting frozen chicken in the crock pot)
  • Serve with pasta (I didn’t because of my crazy obsession without too much grain)
I thought it was delicious.  I would totally make it for my husband and myself over and over again.  However, it isn’t the best looking dish in the world.  I probably wouldn’t serve it for a formal dinner, but it was so good!

Make Your Own Wreath for $10

After seeing how much a decorated wreath costs, I decided I wanted to make my own.  I am not especially crafty, but I like to try. 🙂  I was very proud of my results… yes, I am still bragging!  I have already bragged to everyone I know (that includes picture texts to my sisters in Florida and anyone else who comes to my door).  Yes, I am just that dorky proud.  🙂I was checking out prices and to get a wreath similar to mine it would cost $35.  I made mine for so much cheaper!  I wish I would have saved the receipt so I could show you how little I spent.  I got the supplies at Michaels.  I went the day before Thanksgiving when all of their Christmas stuff went on sale. Everything was 50% – 70% off (including the ribbon). They also let me use a 25% off my total purchase coupon that came in the weekend mailer.  So fun, so easy!  You basically just pick out the pieces you like and design them around the wreath, then glue them in.  I only bought one set of red berries and then cut the stems to make more pieces.

Before I made this wreath I had no idea even how to tie a bow. Haha… yes, I meant what I said about not being especially crafty.  Anyway, I watched this How-to video and it was so easy!  I actually used two different ribbons at the same time, but still did the exact same steps as shown below.  Beautiful and oh so easy!

Here are a few more wreaths I made.  I made these for $6.50 each since I already had the ribbon.



A Couple Cute Christmas Crafts

Christmas crafts are so fun! The kids love them, I love them, what’s not to love! This past week I did these foot and hand print Rudolphs (my six year said it looked more like a moose…. haha).  Anyway, the kids were hysterical during it.

Rudolph or Moose? You decide!

The kids giggled like crazy when I helped them paint their feet.  “It’s cold” , “That tickles” ,  “Look at me” , “How will I walk now” , “Hehehehe.”  We had a lot of fun!

I did the project on the kitchen floor. I thought it would be easier than at the table, but in actuality I think having them sit on a short stepping stool would have worked best.

Foot and Hand Print Rudolph
So this one is so simple… it is pretty much self explanatory.  Get one foot print and two hand prints.  Cut them out. Glue them together.  Glue on some eyes and use a finger dipped in red paint for the nose.

Holiday Wreaths
The kids also painted and decorated little wreaths to hang up on their doors.  They thought they were pretty cool and tried them out on practically every door.  Cute little monkeys!  Got to love the Christmas excitement though!  I used a paper plate with the center cut out, green paint, and some circles cut from construction paper.

Note the cool dude spiked hair… I so love this cool little guy!