Thursday, April 30, 2009

Opinion Outpost

Are you a SAHM looking to earn a little (by little I mean little) extra cash? I know there are a million and one "businesses" out there targeting SAHMs. Most, if not all, are bunk. I mean, really, whose going to pay us $1000/wk to stuff envelopes while we watch our 2 or 5 or 8 kids? Not going to happen.

For the past little while, I have been a member of the Opinion Outpost panel. It's a survey research panel that sends you surveys via email and then rewards you with cash for taking them. Some statistics from my experience as a member:

  • I receive 3-4 surveys per day (but I very rarely qualify for all of them)
  • Surveys usually take anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes to take
  • Surveys generally pay anywhere from $1 to $3
  • It has taken me 9 months, but I just reached the $100 mark!
I assure you...there is no reason to be leery of the legitamacy of this company. How do I know? Because Opinion Outpost is run by Western Wats, a Utah based company that both my husband and I worked at while we were living there. It's run by a bunch of honest (mostly LDS) people.

The thing I love about Opinion Outpost is that I can wait till the kids are asleep and then take the surveys while I'm watching TV. It really isn't an inconvenience at all.

The downside is that I don't qualify for most of the surveys for one reason or another. You have to get through screener questions and sometimes I spend up to 5 minutes answering screener questions only to find out I don't qualify to take the survey after all. It's a little frustrating, but eventually I get through one and earn some cash! Like I said before, it isn't much money and it takes awhile to build it up. But...I am $100 richer now!

Anyway, just wanted to pass along my little money making secret in case any of you want to give it a go. The website is and you can just click on the "Join" button. Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Potty Training

I have not one but, two boys (ages 2 & 3) to potty train. Though I am not required to train the second boy, I figured it might be good to train two boys at the same time. Boys are naturally competetive and it may work well...I hope. So, potty training is on my mind and I thought I might take a minute to blog about it.

I believe in waiting until a child expresses that they are ready to potty train. I still introduce the idea of potty training to lead them to the desire to do it. I found with my girls (now 8 and 5) that when I waited until they had less accidents. In fact, I think each of them had less than 5 total!

With my first daughter we found she liked to read. We put a small bookshelf next to the toilet. Since she loved to read she made progress quickly.

With my second daughter she did not fully potty train until she was 3.5 years. Uggghhh! But I knew it would be worth not cleaning up accidents. She loved Chuck E. Cheese. If she made it to the bathroom 10 times in a row, that was her reward. We used a sticker chart so she could see her progress. It worked and she was fully potty trained by then.

I had no idea with boys. Upon asking one of my friends who has three boys of her own) she quickly said, "turn them backwards!" Whoa, I never thought of that, but it makes complete sense. No mess!!!

Now some Mom's or Dad's may choose that for a boy it is only appropriate to teach them standing. To each his own. Since I'm the one cleaning up the mess (if there is one), I'm sticking with teaching them to sit down first!

I found some free printable potty training charts I thought you might like to try:

A few things I do/don't do to potty train:
- I do not use pull-ups, I think they are a waste of money and could encourage a child to put off fully potty training. If diapers are needed I use regular ones. It is only a small inconvenience to me.
- I don't ask, I just take them to the bathroom. Most of the time they will say no if you ask. But if you do not ask, you just perform the action they are likely to have or create positive feelings over going to the bathroom and they sooner realize it is a necessity, not really a choice.
- I do not use small potty's. I don't need to clean another toilet. I like them learning on a real one (personal preference).
- I encourage them the whole way. I let them call Daddy or Grandma/Grandpa when they have had a successful bathroom trip. It creates hype and gives them positive feedback. I even make up songs about using the potty. Here's one for boys: (to the Spiderman jingle)
Spiderman, Spiderman
goes to the bathroom
whenever he can!
I also say things like:
You went potty like a big boy.
You went potty like a lady. (big girl just doesn't seem right ;)
- I think the most important part of potty training is to make it a positive experience for yourself and the child.
What are your potty training tips???

Friday, April 24, 2009

Myrtle Saves the World- Paper and scraps

I realize earth Day has come and gone but since I missed a post I'll give you my last random ideas on recycling:
Growing up, my mom had a scratch paper drawer. Any paper with a blank side went into the drawer. Then, whenever we wanted to draw, make a list, etc. we'd grab from the drawer. You can also make a scratch paper box out of a large cereal box like the one above (sorry it's so darn ugly but I thought I better give a picture).

Think of new ways to use old furniture-
i loved barbies when I was little. One Christmas my mom and brothers (okay, maybe just Jesse) made me a barbie house out of scrap wood. It was probably my favorite present ever! I made this Barbie house from an old changing table/dresser we had. I just made a roof and top back wall out of cardboard to make the right shape. I painted it with leftover paint we had. I went to a carpet store and asked for leftovers that they gave me for free (ask for discontinued samples or leftovers- also good for individual carpet squares for Nursery or home). We had leftover tile in our shed for the kitchen and bathroom. I made the bed, couch, cabinets, counters, and armoir out of boxes and covered them with paper or fabric (and made mini pillows). I used plastic battery boxes for the microwave, oven and dishwasher (painted black). I printed pictures of our backyard to put in small picture frames for windows (draw lines or cut paper strips for the panes). The table is a candlestick with a round piece of cardboard on it. That strange thing in the bottom right corner is an angled picture frame that I later added a fireplace picture to for a fancy fireplace and mantle. I added a wall clock by cutting out a picture of a watch from a sales ad. The closet is a jewelry box. I spray painted a plastic basket to make a crib and covered a sponge in fabric to make the mattress. I used toilet paper rolls to make the toilet and put half a plastic egg in the top to make the toilet bowl (same thing fot the bathroom sink). I still need to make the shower curtain (add eyelets to the top of a piece of fabric). I also need to make chairs for the table. Any ideas?
As you can see I had way too much fun with this. It's fun to create things.
Share your own recycling creativity or other crafty cleverness!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Myrtle Saves the World- Plasticware

Reuse plastic containers as tupperware (yogurt or cottage cheese containers, etc.). Put a piece of masking tape on the container to label it before storing it in the fridge. My mom used to do this to send home leftovers from Sunday dinners. I also love the Gerber "Lil' Entree" trays. They have two compartments and last through the dishwasher and microwave. I've washed and saved several of these and use them for my kids' meals. They're great for kids who can't have their different foods touching each other or can't scoop up their peas without plowing through their mac n' cheese.
Another great thing to reuse is plastic baby food containers. They're stackable and work great for kids' snacks, dipping sauces and portable salad dressing (save the lids as well), or any time a small bowl would come in handy.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Myrtle Saves the World- Scrapbooking

I enjoy scrapbooking even though I haven't done it in ages (not a single page done for my 19-month-old). Scrapbooking, however, can be a rather expensive little hobby these days. But as always I cut my corners and find my stingy little ways to make pages that even tightwads can justify in their budget. Now granted they're not as clean and cute as the professional expensive ones and I hesitated to share these because of the low quality of work but for anyone who has avoided scrapbooking because of a money issue, here's a few ideas to make it work into your budget:

1. Use pictures, words, and other elements from cards. Save those cards from your bridal shower, birthday party, and baby shower for your scrapbook. The pictures are fun, the words are perfect and you could even leave the signatures on to make the scrapbook page more personal.

2. Use the maps from your trips as part of the background. Collect maps on your vacations to use in your scrapbook. It makes for cheaper paper and better memories. It's also nice to have ticket stubs, business cards (hotels) and other memoribila (you know the scraps of the scrapbook).

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3. Save anything with names or pictures of places visited to use in your scrapbook. This page was made from the gift bag my postcard came in, much easier and cheaper than using stickers or chipboard for the lettering.
4. Use Magazine or newspaper clippings for lettering or other elements on your page.
5. Use stamps, stencils, or other reusable materials for lettering. I can't bring myself to buy stickers, chipboard and other fancy and expensive products for lettering. You use it once and then you have to buy it again. It just causes too much guilt for my practical, cheap lil' self. But I hate my handwriting so I bought some cheap letter stamps that I use frequently for my page titles and such. Stencils or typing on the computer are other cheap options I've used.
6. Collect scraps- tags, parts of cards, stickers, parts of gift bags, etc. It seems a shame that clothing tags are so cute and just get ripped off and tossed in the garbage. Save any tidbits that might have cute pictures, relevant words, pretty pieces of ribbon, whatever. Think outside the box and look for things you could use. Even the size/age tags on clothes could be useful in a baby book. And there's a kids clothing brand called "Emma's Garden" that I collect tags from to use in my daughter's scrapbook. Here's some examples of things I've saved in my scrapbox:
By the way these collections are great for card-making too. Collect cute pieces from different cards to make an original cute card of your own (maybe I shouldn't be admitting this to the people I receive and give cards to but I do put time and some of my own materials into them).
Well, that's just a few ideas I've come up with but I'd love to hear others. One thing I need to do is add more journaling to my pages. Any ideas on how to do that on old pages (keeping in mind my handwriting is not presentable)? What tricks do you use for making cute but inexpensive pages or cards? Or what's your alternative to scrapbooking ( I think blogging is part of the reason I've cut back)?
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trim Your Laundry Budget

So, I finally have something worthy of Myrtle to post (Jesse's the frugal one, not me). I went to my friend Joanna's house Thursday, where she taught me to make my own liquid laundry soap. A 170 fluid-ounce container of Tide costs around $25, and will do 110 loads. The do-it-yourself version costs just a few dollars to make enough to do the same number of loads. (Thanks to Jesse for the cost analysis.) Joanna was actually using a recipe she had found online, so I googled one myself to share:

The linked recipe calls for 2 cups of everything, but we used 1 complete bar of soap, 1 cup each of borax and washing soda, and added water until it filled my container. Joanna provided the borax and washing soda, but they are each under five dollars and will last through two or three soap-making expeditions. I used a bar of Ivory soap, which I already had on my shelf; Joanna has also made her soap with a bar of Dove. You should probably use a white bar of soap that is not heavily perfumed. Joanna says her soap usually lasts about three months (she is married with two children).

Happy soap-making!

Myrtle Saves the World- Board Books

Turn old board books into mini scrapbooks or baby books of your own. You can make books for your baby with pictures and things they are interested in or make memory books about your babies. You could include pictures of extended family to help your toddler get to know them. You could also make a texture book or get gospel-related pictures for a good sacrament book.
You can order blank board books from stores like Oriental Trading or Romp, but this is Myrtle talking about recycling so I'm showing you how to recycle old board books (or rather referring you to someone who can show you). You can use ones your baby's outgrown or go to a second-hand store and find the cheap ones. Click here for the full tutorial. Share your ideas on what books to make or tips if you've done a craft like this? If you've got pictures send them to me or do a post.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Myrtle Saves the World- Clothing

Here's some ideas for recycling old clothing items
(besides giving them to the next kid):

Note: Sorry, I tried to be all cool like Shayla and have my pictures rotating sides but I just don't have those skill so they are down the middle again and probably always will be.
Jeans are great to recycle. Make jean pants into jean shorts. Jeans make cute purses and fun quilts, especially rag quilts. Or remove the pocket(s) and sew/glue/staple it onto bags, the front of a child's T-shirt, a jumper, a notebook, a bulletin board, whatever you can imagine.

Turn old ties into snakes using this craft idea.

Slip a mismatched or holy sock onto your child's hand and let them do some dusting.

Turn old shirts into pillow cases. This was a shirt that just was not fitting me right so I made it into a pillow case (the buttons were part of the shirt). Go to TJMax, Marshalls, or thrift stores and find pillows that are ugly but the right shape and get them for really cheap. Holiday left-overs are priced right.

Okay, this isn't actually clothes, but while we're on the subject of pillow make-overs. This pillow (and it's twin and some curtains) was made from a sheet. Sometimes you can find sheets (TjMax/Marshalls again) cheaper than you can buy fabric and you can buy two sets and make pillows that match your bed. And since you're only covering a pillow, it's really easy to make. You can add ribbon, buttons, and cord to make it more stylish and add variety if you're making multiple pillows.

Other ideas:
1. Make adult belts into child-size belts. Just cut it the right length (same curvy shape as original end), sew the edge on the new end, and make holes with a knife or scissors.
2. Cut old T-shirts into rags for cleaning or car washing or spit-up.
3. Newborn clothes can be reused as doll clothes (especially if you've got preemie stuff like me).
4. If you're really great around a sewing machine and brave (I'm neither), I have a friend who used her wedding dress to make her daughters' blessing dresses. My talented mother made adjustments (and Oxi-Clean) on her old wedding dress to make my temple dress which I wore for my sealing and as a regular temple dress. I suppose if you don't have the skills but like the sentiment you could hire someone to do these for you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Myrtle saves the world- Cardboard boxes

Here's some ideas on what to do with your cardboard boxes:
Use an exacto knife to cut out letters. I got lucky and found a white box so I didn't have to paint. I printed letter outlines off the computer (just on Microsoft Word), taped the paper on the cardboard and cut through both the paper and the cardboard.

Cover a piece of cardboard with fabric (or paint) to make a bulletin board. Then just whip out the stapler and put up anything you want. This is my daughter's Preschool board.

Cover a box with fabric for more stylish storage (compared to the box itself). Hot glue works great for this and is super easy. I have a few of these for easy boardbook clean-up. I also keep an uncovered box by the potty for books. You could throw a clean yogurt cup in there for crayons too.

I covered this piece of cardboard with fabric and secured some ribbon and buttons to make a memo board for my baby's room. I just used a stapler to secure the ribbon on the back and sewed on the buttons.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Myrtle Saves the World- plastic bottles

Use your empty soda bottles as bowling pins (add water or shredded newspaper for extra weight). Hardwood hallways make great bowling alleys. Or sterilize your plastic bottles (any size) to store water for your emergency preparedness stash. Heck, a game of soda bottle bowling may be a great distraction if you're stuck in your house living on food storage. Or cut the bottom off the bottle to make a planter for starting some seeds. For other cool uses visit this site. Pick one to make with your child for a great Earth Day craft activity.

This photo is a test to see who's as big a follower as us.

Bonus points -Do you know what lies in the shadow of the statue?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Myrtle saves the world -Part 1

With Earth Day coming up, I thought I'd post a few recycling ideas. Two things that excite me are saving money and being creative, so finding ways to turn trash into something useful just makes my day(I know, I'm weird). I'd like to say I'm just this saintly , save-the-earth gal, but it's really more about being lazy and cheap. It's easier to use something in my house than go to the store and spend money on a new thing. But, it makes me feel extra good to think I'm reducing trash. So, here's to saving the planet while being frugal! Maybe by the end of the week you'll be seeing your trash in a whole new way. Feel free to share any of your own ideas (and make my day)!
So to kick things off, here's an idea for recycling grocery bags and toilet paper rolls:
Keep one of these grocery bag-stuffed toilet paper rolls in your purse ,diaper bag, or car to dispose of diapers (or anything else) when you're out in public. You could also do this to reuse your bags at the grocery store but I never have any left for that. At home, I also use my empty bread and produce bags for diaper disposal because we really go through diapers.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

What do stay-home moms do all day?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The reason for the holiday

Okay, I haven't had time to work out the details on how to do this, but I thought I'd throw the idea out there before it's too late. We had a primary activity today and my friend did this activity that taught the Easter story using Easter eggs. Each egg had an item inside that helped tell the story: mini donkey, leaf, nail, praying hands, whip, etc. The last egg was empty to represent the empty tomb. She bought the set but I thought you could probably just improvise with stuff in your own home. I'll probably re-read the story from the Bible and rummage through my house to throw this together but I wanted to toss this idea to anyone who can get their creativity in gear in time to present this for Easter. I've been big on trying to emphasize the religious aspect of holidays for my children. Got any ideas on what items to use or other ways to help kids remember their Savior on this day filled with sugar and fighting for the prize egg :) ?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Art Gallery

My older kids have really gotten into coloring and drawing. Every work is, of course, a masterpiece but my fridge does not have that much room. So instead I came up with a way to rotate their "art." I made cardstock frames and glued page protectors on, then strung them up between some pushpins so we could display their work on the wall of the playroom. This way they can pick their best work to display and decide when and what to rotate.
This is the method I thought worked best:
Use a standard 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper to shape your frame around and glue the pieces together. I found it best to use 12X12 sheet protectors (scrapbook size) so there's enough overlap for gluing but you could use a standard size protector and make a backing on your frame to hold it in. For the 12X12 use hot glue to glue the edges of the frame to the protector (careful the side for inserting doesn't get melted shut). On the side with the holes, I only glued between the holes so I could use the holes to help me string up the frame. Cut off the extra paper and sheet protector. Decorate frame. Hole punch the corners of frame (I used eyelets). Use yarn or other string to string through the frames and use pushpins to attach to the wall. It helps to roll some tape around the end of your yarn to make the yarn easier to insert in the holes.

OR for a much easier gallery you could string up yarn between pushpins and use clothespins to attach the art. You can use buttons, ribbon, and paper to decorate your clothespins. Or just write your child's name on the pins.
Another way I de-clutter on artwork in our house is art archiving. When my children make something I write any explanation (Emma usually has a story for her art), the child's name and the date on the picture. Then I take a picture and load it onto my computer. You can have a file of artwork for each child. This also makes it easy to send art to family. I e-mail pictures, cards, and letters to grandparents (easier and cheaper than the envelope and stamp deal). Then I can throw away the paper (don't tell my children).
What displaying and archiving methods do you use for your child's art?
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Myrtle's Buns of Garlic

Got left-over hot dog or hamburger buns? You can have a meltdown in the grocery store like George Banks (name that movie) or you can rejoice at the idea of too many buns and turn them into breadsticks. Just spread on some butter, sprinkle on some garlic salt, parsley, paprika; whatever you like, pop it in the oven, and you've got an easy and delicious side for your pasta dinner. And if you have hot dogs and spaghetti in the same week you know you're saving money.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kids and Conference

It's always a challenge to listen to all of conference and feel the spirit with kids and the noise and distractions they create. I was hoping we could share our ideas on how to get more out of conference. I realize this should have been posted at least a week ago and probably won't be read for at least another week, but conference comes every six months so even if you don't read this by tomorrow, you can still use it and contribute.
1. Read the article in the Ensign about preparing children for conference.
2. I decided to have a Conference Bowl this session and make Super Bowl-type snacks for everyone to enjoy while they watch. Plan ahead and have things ready when everyone sits down so you can enjoy it with your family. I felt guilty finishing the cookies while the first speaker talked about the evils of giving into our food addictions, but felt better about the popcorn I gave my kids that had no butter or salt.
3. I grabbed a laundry basket and filled it with quiet toys and activities for the kids (puzzles, coloring, Magnadoodle, K'nex).
4. I have some conference activity packets for kids. If you want a copy to print, e-mail me and I'll send it to you (Blogger needs an attachment option). It's outdated though with the new apostles but still fun and for astute children, finding the new apostles can be an added challenge.
5. Play conference Bingo. Put words or pictures on your board for kids to listen for.
6. Conference comes on here at 12 and 4pm, which makes dinner preparation and timing difficult. I finely wised up and planned a crockpot meal to throw together before conference so I don't have to be cooking during the later session. You can put one together the night before and start it first thing in the morning if conference interferes with lunch or dinner or just do lunch meats or something simple.
What does your family do to make this a more enjoyable and spiritual experience?