Big Brother's Last Day of Preschool

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Today was Big Brother's last day of preschool. It goes without saying, that he was disappointed; he loves going to this 3 day a week, 3 hours each day program hosted by the local high school as part of their Early Childhood Development class curriculum.

Over the last two years that he's attended, he has gotten attached to a lot of the high school girls that will be graduating this year; but we're sure he'll make up for it with all new set of pretty young ladies next year.

And, of course, we can't forget how attached he is to Miss Shirley. While he loves all the adult teachers in his preschool, Miss Shirley is his favorite. But who can blame him? Ever since he started attending last year, she's doted, petted and fawned all over him. She'd be my favorite too! (Well, truthfully, she is!)

As a celebration of their last day of school, the classes hosted a Family Fun Day that consisted of games, prizes, face painting, crafts, and refreshments.

So today, Mama got Nannie to babysit Princess A and off we went for a couple of hours of fun and games.

After starting off with picking up ducks out of the duck pond (read: 2 ring swimming pool...lol), Big Brother headed outdoors for more activities. Of course, he would choose the sack race - which mom can't participate in (I'll just put it this way: four children = weak bladder); but he had a blast hopping along side two of his classmates and a much braver mom than me. :)

Once he made a good thorough last round on all the outdoor play equipment - being sure to give the swings and slides plenty of personal attention - he was ready to head indoors for a snack of sugar cookies and Juicy Juice fruit punch.

Topped off with plenty of sugar, he hugged all of his teachers and wished them a good summer. Being that he misses the kindergarten deadline by twelve days, he'll be returning for one more year of preschool.

Lastly, if there is one thing that is my favorite part of functions such as Family Fun Day; it has to be that sugar highs and lots of physical activity is a good recipe for long afternoon naps.

Now, when Princess A goes down for her afternoon nap, Mom gets some free time!!



This post submitted to Writer's Workshop hosted by Mama's Losin' It in response to Prompt 5 "Today I Will..."


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Slow Cooker Recipe: Barbecue Beef Sandwiches (Weight Watchers)


There's nothing I love more than barbecue! But who has enough time to grill out that often?

So I let my slow cooker do the work for me!

I discovered this tasty recipe in Weight Watchers In Good Time: 123 Slow Cooker Recipes to Come Home To.

I hope you enjoy it!



INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (1.25 pound) flank steaks

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 (6 ounces) can of tomato paste

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard

  • 12 (2.5 ounce) sandwich buns with sesame seeds, split

  • 24 red onion rings

  • 36 dill pickles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Trim fat from steaks; cut each steak in half crosswise.

  2. Combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar and pepper; stir well.

  3. Rub steaks with sugar mixture.

  4. Place remaining brown sugar, tomato paste, and next 9 ingredients in a 4/5 quart electric slow cooker; stir well.

  5. Add steaks, turning to coat.

  6. Cook on high heat setting for 1 hour.

  7. Reduce to low heat setting and cook 7 to 8 hours or until steak is tender.

  8. Remove steak from slow cooker, reserving sauce in cooker.

  9. Shred steak with fork. Return shredded steak to cooker; stir well to coat with sauce.

  10. Spoon 1/2 cup steak mixture onto bottom half of each bun; top each with 2 onion rings and 3 pickle slices.

Yields 12 Servings. 8 points/serving.

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Who Does She Look The Most Like? [Poll]

L to R: Dad - Princess A - Mom


Who Do You Think She Looks The Most Like?


The moment Princess A (as we affectionately call our daughter) was born, her Daddy said, "Wow, she looks just like her mama." Amazingly, however, as she's grown, more and more people are saying that she looks like Dad.

What do you think?

(Photo credits: Princess A photo courtesy of Visions by Valeisha; Mom and Dad photo credits unknown)

Cheaper Than Therapy

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13 Great Giveaways for Girls (Thursday 13)



The purpose of the Thursday 13 meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
View More Thursday Thirteen Participants




13 Great Giveaways for Girls!

  1. ShooShoos from Piece of Me. Ends 04/30

  2. Luna B. Tee Personalized Tee from Does Mommy Love It? Ends 04/30

  3. Atomic Dog Chocolate Cupcake Necklace from The Chocolistas. Ends 05/01

  4. Whimsy Couture 'Little Fish Strappy Dress' from Etsy It Up! Ends 05/03

  5. BabyKakesink Personalized Onesie from My Moms View. Ends 05/04

  6. Christi's Cupcake Cuties Personalized Tee from Ladybug Soup. Ends 05/06

  7. Jillie Willie Toddler Apron from Ladybug Soup. Ends 05/06

  8. See Kai Run Shoes from Annies Home. Ends 05/07

  9. Tiny Tots With Style $25 Gift Certificate from Me and My Boys! Ends 05/10

  10. FaBOWlous Pink Peony Flower Hat from The Lano Company. Ends 05/11

  11. Baby Bella Maya lacy leggings from A Kindred Spirit's Thoughts. Ends 05/13

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Are You A Blogging Addict?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I was saddened to hear that we lost another fellow Mom Blogger.

According to other sources, A Nut In A Nutshell was shut down earlier this week, along with her twitter and blog email address. It was said that she had previously mentioned just how much time blogging was taking away from her family and home life.

While I wasn't a close personal friend of this blogger, I still hate to see her go; many a times I found myself dropping in on her blog to update on her newest giveaways, reviews, or relaying of family antics.

But I do understand her decision.

Just in the short time that I've been blogging, there has been times that I could have been doing something else but was instead blogging.

Am I becoming a blogging addict? According to a quiz I took....


55%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?


And apparently I'm a lot less addicted than a lot of others. lol

Fortunately, I haven't reached the point where I recognize myself in the the warning signs of blog addiction. What about you?



10 Signs You Might Be Addicted to Blogging



10. You check your blog stats a LOT. You occasionally get up in the middle of the night and sneak a peak.

9. Your significant other suspects you are having an affair with your blog. Even when you’re alone with your special person, you do find yourself thinking what your blog might be doing right then…

8. You “mental blog” while driving or on the train, and sometimes even when you are alone in the shower.

7. You filter everything through your post-writing. You can’t watch a movie, see a play, read an article, or share a sweet moment with your child without thinking of whether it’s blog-worthy.

6. You suffer from “blog envy” when another blogger posts something juicy before you do. You suffer “comment envy” when said post gets 40-something comments – the jerk!

5. You “binge blog” 3 or 4 posts at once—only to feel guilty and empty afterward.

4. You ditched all your real friends for blog friends, because, well, “they understand.”

3. You think, “I can stop at any time.”

2. Your lunch hour has become your “blog hour.” You keep a few posts tucked in your desk in case you need them during the day.

1. After 5 minutes of meeting someone really interesting you ask, “So - do you blog?”

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There's A WHAT Behind Me? (Wordless Wednesday)



Find More Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, and Wordless Wednesday Headquarters.

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Mainstream Thoughts for Random Thoughts Tuesday

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

randomtuesday

This is my first Random Tuesday Thoughts, graciously hosted by The UnMom. I figured I'd join in since my oldest son (17) swears that all of my thoughts are random. lol

So buckle up, here we go....

I'm so sick and tired of hearing about the swine flu! Come on, the media is feeding us a big bunch of hype on this and now people are freaking out. Think about this: we have 300 million plus in the United States (not to mention the illegals not being counted that play a big hand in bringing this flu to us) and, as of April 27th, there were 50 reported cases. I don't think it's worth fretting about yet. Just use your typical cold and flu season cautions and before you know it, this too shall pass.

I'm just going to say it up front: I'm a staunch Republic and I'm proud of it!! That said, I've listened to people criticize former President Bush for all the mistakes he made (and, yes, he made several - I agree), but what was up with Obama's PR people thinking that a photo op with Air Force One flying low and near the Statue of Liberty was a good idea?? What kind of flippin' bone head do you have to be to see that wouldn't go badly?? Especially when you keep it "top secret." Hey, how 'bout next time you try Photoshop - there's even a free download!!

Teens and cellphones with cameras are a bad idea. I spent a good portion of Thursday afternoon ranting and raving on this subject after receiving a mass text from some unknown kid (who knows where she got my number!) about a fatal accident involving a 7 year old kid, a school bus and a reckless driver that occurred in our community earlier that day. This text also contained a photo, taken from the bus window, of the child with his mother laying beside of him as his father ran to him. Needless to say, my two oldest kids (17 and 13) got a long lecture about cell phone etiquette at such a time. I'm happy to say they both seemed disgusted at the idea of even doing such a thing - let's hope they weren't faking.

Ok, I think that's all my random thoughts for now. That felt good!

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Reclaiming My Kitchen Table (Tackle It Tuesday)

Following the birth of my daughter in January, I decided it was time to close my ribbon business. Adding her to the three kiddos I already had left me little time to manage an online retail store.

In the course of trying to do inventory, listing products in a new web store, and finishing up a few of my own projects, half of my kitchen table became "lost" in the clutter.

It was so sad to see a child shuffle ribbon, scissors, boxes, bags, pins, and other craft supplies around so that they can squeeze in to eat a meal.

So my Tackle It Tuesday project for this week was - you guessed it - clearing off the kitchen table!


BEFORE

Tackle It Tuesday: Before


AFTER

Tackle It Tuesday: After



This project is listed with:

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Coconut Shrimp Recipe (Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays)

My 17 year old son fell in love with a Coconut Shrimp dish he had and has since been hassling to try and duplicate the recipe.

After several months of trying, I finally found one that met his approval and that he declared to be "the one."

Fortunately, the rest of the family agreed and it is now the only Coconut Shrimp recipe I use.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled, devein, leaving tail on

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup ice water

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2/3 cup grated coconut

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder


Directions:

Shell and devein shrimp, leaving tail intact; dry well. Combine flour, sugar, salt, egg, ice water, and vegetable oil; beat until smooth. Mix together coconut and curry powder. Dip shrimp into batter then into coconut mixture. Fry coconut shrimp in hot fat, about 370° until golden. Coconut shrimp serves 4 to 6.




Blessed with Grace

This Recipe Listed At:

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Review: Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Ride and Attractions

Monday, April 27, 2009

My family and I had the wonderful opportunity to take our first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida last year.

While I spent weeks (more like months) reading all that I could on what or what not to when we reached our vacation destination, there just wasn't enough detail provided.

As a result, my family spent a great deal of time on some rides and attractions we would have been better off to skip.

The following is my reviews on rides and attractions at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. While this is only my opinion, I hope that you will find it helpful when planning your Disney vacation.

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is probably the most anticipated park by children. Filled with rides to accommodate all ages and shows that entertain the young and old alike, it is a fun place to be.

  • Splash Mountain: This is a must-do ride for anyone 40" inches or taller. Having taken a lot of "log rides" in my life at various theme parks around the country, Splash Mountain was, by far, the best I have ever ridden.

    Not only are riders of this attraction given the much enjoyed fifty foot plunge into a pool of water, but the extended ride through a story of Brer Rabbit and his adventures makes this ride unique.

    Be sure to use Disney's Fast Pass option on this ride as the wait is very long otherwise.

  • Big Thunder Mountain: While this ride is available to anyone 40" or more in height, those over five feet tall may find it a bit "young" for them; but it is still worth riding.

    Again, be sure to use the Fast Pass option as the wait times on this ride can be rather extensive.

  • Space Mountain: I've ridden a great deal of roller coasters in my lifetime, but this one was by far the best. Space Mountain was the first in a long time that I found myself terrified.

    Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster that is predominately in the dark. Riders are only given very little light; just enough to make out the track outline and to see how high up you are. Moving at very fast speeds with multiple twist and turns, there are many breath-taking drops.

    This too is a ride that you should use the Fast Pass option because of extremely long wait times. Riders must be 52 inches or taller to ride.

  • The Haunted Mansion: You can't hardly discuss the Magic Kingdom with anyone and not hear about The Haunted Mansion. This slow moving ride with no height restrictions is geared more toward the youngsters but is still fun for the older folks nonetheless.

    In addition, if you are visiting Disney World during the summer months, this is a great ride to take in order to rest and cool off as the entire ride is air conditioned.

    View the wait times before wasting a Fast Pass here. The ride is constantly moving, so the lines move quickly. When we decided to ride The Haunted Mansion, the sign read a 50 minute wait time but we were able to board in less than 30 minutes.

  • It's A Small World: You can't visit Disney World without taking a ride on the timeless classic It's A Small World. With no height restrictions, constantly moving lines, indoors with air conditioning, this is a must for the whole family.

    While geared more toward the tiny tikes, it's nonetheless interesting for even the older Mouseketeers as a slow moving boat ride takes you through amazing mechanical scenes, based on countries, all singing It's A Small World in their native languages.

    As with The Haunted Mansion, the Fast Pass option should be used only when the wait times are extremely excessive as this ride is constantly loading and unloading and the lines move very quickly.

  • Stitch's Great Escape: This attraction was formerly known as Alien Encounters but has been redone to be in line with Disney's Lilo & Stitch.

    There is a height restriction of 40 inches, for which I can't figure out why it's there. This is not a ride, but more of a show.

    Unless you enjoy having the smell of burped chili dog in your face and silly, bordering on stupid, storyline, I would recommend skipping this. Only those between the ages of 6 and 10 might enjoy, and that is a BIG "maybe."

    Definitely don't waste a Fast Pass on this attraction.

  • Astro Orbiter: This adorable, high-flying ride is a big hit with the wee folk! Similar to the ever-circling Dumbo ride, the young and old alike can make several orbits around the planets, high above the Magic Kingdom.

    There are no height restrictions on this ride and, at the time of this writing, no Fast Pass option was available.

  • Tommorrowland Transit Authority: Those under three feet tall may enjoy this mild tram-like ride that circles the Tomorrowland section of the Magic Kingdom. Anyone who has been able to ride the "bigger" rides (like my 3 year old) will find this ride extremely mundane.

  • Indy Speedway: It doesn't matter how old you are, it'll be a lot of fun to jump in a tiny race car and drive around the track. The race cars are centered on tracks (versus freestyle driving) and reach speeds of (maybe) approximately ten MPH. Irregardless of slow speeds and controlled tracks, our whole family just enjoyed the trips around the track and trying to dodge all the tiny "future drivers."

    This ride offers a relatively fast moving line. Fast Pass option is available, however you may wish to check wait times before choosing to use the option.

  • The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm: This munchkin sized roller coaster is sure to elicit giggles and squeals from your toddler or preschooler, along with an accompanying parents smile. However, tweens and teens find this ride a bit too mild for their taste.

    Fast Past option is not available on this ride (at the time of this riding) but I'm happy to report that the wait time is relatively short.

  • Tom Sawyer Island: If you're in the mood to tour around a tiny island and take a gander at some old buildings and such, then the short raft ride over to the island will be well worth the wait.

    The wait to get on the raft can be a little long, but the trail around the island is a self-guided tour and can be performed at your own speed.

  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin: This is a wonderfully cool ride for the whole family (literally, it's air conditioned!). Constantly moving, making for super short wait times, riders are invited to play along with Buzz and has friends in an effort to rack up points by laser-shooting the "Zs." Be sure each member of your group gets their own "gun" and compete to see who can get the most points!

  • Cinderella's Golden Carousel: We didn't find very much special about this Carousel, other than it offered a breezy break from the heat.

    Although there is not a Fast Pass option available for this ride, there is no need for it as the lines move quickly. No height restrictions mean everyone can enjoy it!

  • Monster's, Inc. Laugh Floor: We walked into this attraction thinking that it would be only more animated show that only our preschooler would enjoy; however, we left pleasantly surprised.

    This interactive animated show is a hilarious event for the whole family!

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Riders of this adorable, indoor ride are invited to ride through a Winnie the Pooh story in a cozy Honey Pot.

    This is a ride geared toward preschoolers and younger, if you're at the Magic Kingdom in the heat of the day it will be pleasant break for everyone.

    Fast Pass is available, however be sure to check estimated wait times before using the option.

  • Dumbo The Flying Elephant: This Magic Kingdom timeless classic is a circle of fun for the little tikes; however, be prepared for the lengthy wait times and there is no Fast Pass option available.

  • Liberty Square Riverboat: If you've ever been on a riverboat ride before, you'll find this one is not much different. Visitors board an old fashioned riverboat fueled by paddles and take a ride down the river and around Tom Sawyer's Island.

    The pros of this attraction include that the only wait time includes only waiting for the next boarding and it is a great way to rest and cool down for a little while.

  • Swiss Family Treehouse, Ariel's Grotto, and Pooh's Playful Spot: These playground type settings are a great place to take a break and let the little ones free for a while. You may even get the chance to meet with some of your favorite characters at these spots!


While this is not a complete listing of all the attractions at Disney's Magic Kingdom, I do hope that it is a listing that will be helpful in making your vacation plans.

For even more information on rides and attractions at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, please visit The Largest Unofficial Online Guide To Disney World or one of the many other great sites focused on Disney's Magic Kingdom!



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I Heart Faces Weekly Challenge: Reflections


While this isn't a very good photo by even amatuer standards, I chose it for this week since it's one of my personal favorites. To save you a long story that probably wouldn't be interesting to you anyway, I'll summarize: big brother got caught sneaking around in biggest brother's room.

Now you understand! :)


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How To Create A Household Budget That You Can Live With

This post has been moved to The Babbling Brunette

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Monday Menu Planning for the Week of April 26, 2009

My family is loving it that I'm participating in Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm An Organizing Junkie.

They can log on from anywhere and see what's for dinner that evening.

So...here's my menu plans for the week of April 26, 2009:

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Weekly Highlights for April 19-25, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wow, it's been a busy week here at The Mom Trap. I've been taking the ProBlogger's 31 Days to Building a Better Blog course; which means I've been implementing a lot of the suggestions here.

Here's a glance at what's been going on during the week of April 19-25, 2009:

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Happy Birthday!


Happy Birthday to the most wonderful husband, the "funnerest" Dad and stepdad, and the world's biggest UT Fan!

WE LOVE YOU!!

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Book Review: Privilege by Kate Brian

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ariana Osgood is doing 20 to life in the Brenda T. juvenile facility for killing her former boyfriend; but she doesn't planning on staying that long.

Ariana's best friend on the inside is Kaitlynn Nottingham; a young and naive girl framed for the murder of her former best friend's millionaire father.

Ariana has devised a plan using the information that Kaitlynn has unwittingly supplied to her that will set both of them free from the Brenda T. and envelope them in a life of luxury.

The plan is set in motion the night Ariana escapes and fakes her own drowning in Lake Page.

The twist and turns that follow, however, will leave Ariana wondering whose telling the truth and who isn't. And Ariana hates liars - with her there's a severe price to pay for dishonesty.

Privilege is a book that will constantly leave you guessing. And the characters are well developed so as to give you a clear picture of who they are, but not enough to make the ending easily guessable.

The only downside to this book that I found was that the deceitful acts displayed by characters that are only sixteen years of age was giving them way too much credit. Even the most street smart of adults wouldn't be able to pull off the stunts detailed in this book; but, of course, that's the joy of fiction - it doesn't have to so real.


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Small Talk Six Asks "What Makes You Uncomfortable?"

Come join in the fun each Saturday for Mom Dot's Small Talk Six; where participants are asked to list six sentences, six photos, or six paragraphs on a specified subject.

From the Mom Dot website: "All you need to do is...make a short (or an elaborate) post on your blog in response to the assigned topic of the week...When your post is live, come leave your direct link on Mr. Linky and then go see how the other participants responded on their blogs."

This week's topic is 6 Things Other People Do That Make You Personally Uncomfortable:

  1. Stand too close when we're conversing. I have a "zone" and if you're in it, I'm not listening to what you're saying, but trying to figure out how to put distance between us.

  2. Hug me. Outside of my immediate family, I'm not a hugging kind of person.

  3. "The Pop In" (Seinfeld fans will understand this one). I'm a stay at home mom so getting all spiffied up on most days is out of the question. When you just "pop in," I get nervous just imagining how much of a mess I must look.

  4. Ask me about our income/debt. This is becoming way too common an occurrence. Am I the only one who thinks this stuff is private? Even if I decline to answer, the person asking will usually carry on with full disclosure in regards to their household - which is just as uncomfortable to me.

  5. When others tell, not ask, me to teach them how I make money online; specifically when they want to do the exact same thing as I'm doing. This really stuck in my craw when I was retailing and they wanted to know my suppliers, how I sold, to whom I sold, etc, etc. Umm, yeah, okay - let me create competition for myself. *rolling eyes*

  6. Ask me to lie for them. You wouldn't think this would happen that much but, without giving more details, it does all to frequently. :(

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Citrus Balsamic Salmon Recipe (Serves 8)

Friday, April 24, 2009

I finally tried my hand at a fish dish...and it turned out pretty good! (While it's another post for another day, all I can say is that my last attempt at cooking fish turned disastrous and left the house smelling very...um, funky....for way too long! lol)

My family loved the Citrus Balsamic Salmon that I'm sharing with you today, courtesy of Campbell's Weeknight Cooking:




Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh salmon fillets (3/4 inch thick)

  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil

  • 4 1/2 teasapoons cornstarch

  • 1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth

  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the salmon in a 12 x 8 x 2 - inch shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the black pepper and drizzle with the oil. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

  2. Stir the cornstarch, broth, vinegar, orange juice, brown sugar, and orange peel into a 2-quart saucepan over high heat. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens.

  3. Place the salmon on a serving platter and serve with the sauce.



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Does Your Personality Match Your Birth Order Traits?

Kailani over at An Island Life has put together a wonderful meme called Aloha Friday. If you'd like to learn more and/or join in, be sure to visit An Island Life!

My Topic for Today:

According to many studies, the personalities (will have most traits, not necessarily all) of children by their birth order are as follows:

  • Older children are people pleasers, crave attention, cooperative, conscientious, caregivers, controlling, perfectionists, and leaders.

  • Middle children are loners, impatient, competitive, flexible, diplomatic, and rebellious.

  • Younger children are immature, attention seekers, secretive, sensitive, risk takers, and idealists.

But...as we all know, not everyone can fit into these categories. After all, you have multiples and only children too.

The traits for these categories can be:

  • Twins (or other multiples) will, as a general rule, have one (or more) leader and one (or more) follower. Leaders resemble the role of first borns while the followers exhibit traits of a middle child. (In cases of 4 or more multiples, traits of the youngest child birth order will also be exhibited by one or more.)

  • Only children typically show traits that divided among the oldest and youngest child birth orders; specifically, their traits include perfectionists, attention seekers, responsible, and more mature than peers.


So my question for this week is:

Taking into consideration the traits described here, do you think your personality fits your birth order?



My Answer:

I am an oldest child (family of 2 children). I would say that the profile for oldest children does apply. I am a leader, conscientious, (can be) controlling, and a caregiver (who couldn't be with 4 children, right? lol)

On the other hand, I do not worry about pleasing people, being perfect, and I hate being in the limelight.


Thanks for stopping by today and playing along! I can't wait to read your answers!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Dumplings

Thursday, April 23, 2009

If I had to choose my most favorite thing in my kitchen, it would be my slow cooker. I could not live without it!

Being a busy mom to four kids ranging in age from 17 years to 3 months, I just don't have the time to cook a big meal every night - but thanks to my slow cooker, I can still whip up a pretty tasty meal.

This week I'm sharing a recipe that a blogging buddy of mine had passed on to me. I was a little hesitant at how it would turn out, but I'm happy to say it was deee-li-cious!

So now I'll pass it on to you....

Slow Cooker Chicken Dumplings

Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 (10.75 oz) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

  • 1 diced onion

  • 1 or 2 potatoes, cubed

  • 2 or 3 carrots, cut up

  • 1 (10 oz) package refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces.


Directions:

  1. Place the chicken, butter, soup, onion, potatoes, and carrots in a slow cooker and fill with enough water to cover.

  2. Cover and cook on high about 5 to 6 hours

  3. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.



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13 Things I Loved About My Wedding (Thursday Thirteen)

Megan, who is described as the brains behind the design of and co-contributor to the Thursday Thirteen meme, is getting married in 3 days!!! (YOU GO GIRL!!)

In honor of her upcoming BIG DAY, I'll use this opportunity to list 13 things I loved about my own.

Would you like to share yours too? Or share any list of 13 things? Come on over to the home of Thursday Thirteen and join in!

13 Things I Loved About My Wedding:

  1. The Groom (and I love him more everyday!)

  2. The church - it was the church which I had grown up in.

  3. The music (my sister-in-law, Valeisha, picked out some great pre-ceremony music and we played 'From this Moment' by Shania Twain during the lighting of the unity candle).

  4. That my husband serenaded me along with 'From this Moment.'

  5. That my two oldest sons escorted me down aisle (this was my second marriage).

  6. That my sons gave me away and his son gave him away.

  7. Our vows. We said the standard vows plus added "And promise to love you more tomorrow than I do today." (And we do!)

  8. The reception that followed. My Mom found a wonderful caterer that created a delicious buffet style menu.

  9. That my husband didn't smash cake in my face! We had a mutual agreement beforehand that neither would do this and we kept that promise.

  10. That my wedding was 100% paid for in cash - no nasty debt to come home to afterwards.

  11. The video collage that my brother and sister-in-law put together displaying pictures of me and my husband as babies, children then some of us together during our engagement.

  12. How my mother and I really came together during this wonderful event. She hadn't been too happy about my first marriage (mothers just know) and it had always created a small rift between us. But she loves my husband now, and with this wedding she became the clique bride's mother (without the *itchiness! lol)

  13. THE HONEYMOON!! (Need I say more?! lol)


Wish I could have included photos, but something is screwy with my scanner today - I'll be sure to upload some later! :)

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From Atop Stone Mountain Georgia (A Thousand Words Thursday)


This photo was taken July 2007 at Stone Mountain, Georgia - a wonderfully peaceful but fun vacation spot for families just outside of Atlanta.

As many of you know, since having Princess A in January, we've started addressing the three boys as Big, Bigger and Biggest Brother.

This is Big and Biggest brother enjoying the view from Stone Mountain's highest point as Bigger brother captured the shot!


Cheaper Than Therapy

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Can You Guess Where I Am? (Wordless Wednesday)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009





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Great Gift Giveaways For Mom (Tuesday Tribute)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There's only 18 more days until Mother's Day, a time when Moms all across America are remembered for their love and sacrifice.

So for this Tuesday Tribute, I want to say thanks to my own mom for everything she's done for me. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful mother. She has been there for and with me through good and bad times, never doubting for a moment that I would and could make it through anything.

Although there was a time I thought my mom was "uncool" and I swore I couldn't wait to be out from under her rules, she has become one of my dearest and best friends.

I only hope I can give my own daughter all that she has given me.

And I'm sure that I'm not the only daughter who feels that way! So in honor of all Moms on this upcoming day, here are some great giveaways specifically for Moms:


Tuesday's Tribute

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Summer Job Ideas for Teens

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's that time of year again when the children are being paroled from the classroom and eager to begin their summer adventures.

For teens, however, it can be a time to make a little cash for those extras such as cars and clothes on which they like to splurge.

Unfortunately, part time jobs can be a little hard to come by today, so teens are left to use their imagination to find ways to earn money. Instead of filling out numerous applications, maybe your teen would be interested in a little entrepreneurship. The following are some ideas that may work for your teen:

  1. Tree & shrub trimming
  2. Lawn mowing
  3. Auto detailing
  4. Driveway sealing
  5. Packing & moving assistance
  6. Babysitting
  7. Pool cleaning
  8. Tutoring
  9. Errand & delivery service
  10. Pet walking
  11. Painting
  12. Garage/attic/house cleaning
  13. Junk removal
  14. Pet sitting
  15. Tag/Yard sale coordinator
  16. Recycling (picking up cans, bottles, etc.) for cash

Whatever job or service your teen decides to do, if they are choosing to do it on their own, it's a great time to learn about managing your a small business. I highly recommend reading Job Ideas for Teens 15 And Younger: Beyond Babysitting and Lemonade Stands; an article that provides in-depth information on how to promote your business, how to make a profit, and more.

With a little bit of elbow grease, it could easily be a profitable summer for teens!



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Monday Menu Planning for the Week of April 19, 2009

  • Sunday:Fix It Yourself Night

  • Monday: Meatloaf and Gravy, Green Beans, Mash Potatoes, and Yeast Rolls

  • Tuesday: Chili and grilled cheese

  • Wednesday: BBQ'd cocktail sausages, creamed corn, and crescent rolls

  • Thursday: Tuna casserole

  • Friday: Turkey Deli Sandwiches

  • Saturday:Chili Dogs

See More Great Menus Every Monday At I'm An Organization Junkie. View My Past Menus.



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Inexpensive Laptop Recommendation (Perfect for Teens!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When my oldest son entered high school, we suddenly realized how important having his own computer was going to be. After all, there is a great deal of research, writing, and online reading assignments given in these days of mega technology.

So I went in search of a laptop which was favored by both of us considering that we used only a bulky desktop in the house at that time. However, I realized just how careless at times my son could be with things and didn't want to invest a the large sums of money I was finding attached to laptops.

After I had searched Dell, Gateway, and numerous other computer retailers, I decided to give eBay a try.

It was there that I found the perfect deal through eBay seller CSR Technologies: a refurbished Dell Latitude D400 for $320.00 (shipping included).

This light, compact laptop is great for the teenage user and, being refurbished, was just as easy on the purse. And teens love it because it comes with a built in network card that connects to the internet anywhere Wi-Fi is available.

The sales and service on the laptop was very professional and shipping was done quickly. In addition the customer service was tremendous as, before purchasing, I had numerous questions.

My son has been using this computer for over a year now and we have experienced no trouble whatsoever with it. Of course, a year later this particular model is becoming obsolete but CSR Technologies is now offering Dell Latitude D610 at the same price.

While the Dell is what I recommend, if you prefer a another brand there are many eBay sellers that sell a refurbished laptop at a great price. For me, until my son reaches college, this is the only way I'll be purchasing his computers!



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Ghost Huntress: The Awakening by Marley Gibson (Book Review)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kendall Moorehead has lived her whole life in the city; surrounded by all it has to offer - including the constant noise distracts!

When Kendall and her family relocate to rural Radisson, Georgia, she suddenly finds herself suffering insomnia because of the quiet.

To help lull her to sleep, her father purchases a LifeSounds 440 white-noise machine. And this is where the trouble begins!

Kendall isn't unfamiliar with Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) when she first hears to ghostly sounds over the white-noise machine saying, "I'm here," but she's terrified nonetheless.

Though a bit frightened, Kendall seeks to learn more about who, or what, she heard.

While seeking answers, Kendall hooks up with other teens and her earthly guide, Loreen, who is an eccentric yet all knowing when it comes to the spiritual world, who agree to help her with her psychic awakening by hunting the ghosts that haunt her new house and her father's office.

Readers follow Kendall and her crew as they seek to discover who, or what, is behind the hauntings of Radisson. Kendall may "awaken" to much more than she ever dreamed!

While this is considered Young Adult fiction, even a 30-something like myself enjoyed the mystery and suspense of Marley Gibson's first in a series on this new Ghost Huntress.

I found this book was well researched, educational to the ghost-hunting layman, and a fast paced read. I especially enjoyed the Bibliography that provided links to websites where even more information could be obtained about terms and equipment used in the book.

This first-in-series book is set to release in stores May 4, 2009, but is available now from Amazon for only $8.99!

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What TV Character Are You Most Like? (Aloha Friday)

Friday, April 17, 2009



My Question for This Week:

What television character (past or present) do you think you are most like and why?

My Answer:

I think I am most like the character Judy (Jami Gertz) on Still Standing. Like her, I'm married to a man who is nothing but a big kid himself while still masquerading as a functioning adult. And just as Judy (along with Bill) was always embarrassing her children, either by trying too hard to be a good mom or reliving her own teen years, my own children (well, the two oldest) are constantly trying to ditch me because they claim I do the same thing.


Thanks for playing along this week! I can't wait to read your answers!

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How To Make An Itty Bitty Bow (100 Yards of Ribbon Giveaway Too!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Having a little girl to dress up in ribbons and lace can be lots of fun....unless you're not so crafty (like me!)

But with the help of do-it-yourself sites such as Girly Things and You Can Make This, I've learned to make some adorable little accessories for my little princess.

One of those things that I've learned to make is the Itty Bitty Bow - a hair bow that's a perfect size for infants!

It's very simple to make, takes little material, but is a fun and cute addition to any outfit!


Materials Needed:


Instructions:

  • Thread your needle using approximately 24 inches of thread.

  • Trim your 5/8 inch grosgrain ribbon to exactly 20 inches in length.

  • Fold 5/8 inch ribbon in half and cut upwards at a diagonal on each end.

  • Now you need to fold the ribbon. Make the first fold at 4 inches. Continue folding the remaining ribbon.
  • Insert the threaded needle through the middle of the ribbon.
  • Now pull the ribbon to form loops. Shape to your desired look.
  • Wrap the thread around the center of the ribbon. Pull tightly.
  • Hot glue the knot to the center of your bow. Allow to dry.

  • While your knot is drying, line your alligator clip. Instructions for this can be found at Girly Things.

  • Hot glue your bow onto the alligator clip.
  • Finish off by hot gluing the tails of your center knot to the underside of the top prong of the alligator clip.



WINNER: SHOPANNIES (#17)

Win 100 Yards of Grosgrain Ribbon!

A popular online korker ribbon distributor is going out of business and has listed all of their stock with Discount Ribbon for liquidation! And now Discount Ribbon is giving you a chance to win 100 yards of grosgrain ribbon in a variety of styles including solids, stripes, and dots (100 one-yard strands randomly choosen)!

Here's what you need to do:
  • Visit Discount Ribbon. Then return here to leave a comment with telling me your favorite ribbon color and/or pattern, along with your email address.

Extra Entries (be sure to leave a comment for each additional entry - ie, 5 extra entries = 5 comments):

  • Place an order with Discount Ribbon to receive 1 extra entry for every dollar spent. (ie, spend $10, leave 10 comments - not including shipping - purchases will be verified)

  • Blog about this giveaway for 5 extra entries.

  • Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway for 5 extra entries.

  • Follow me on blogger for 5 extra entries.

  • Visit You Can Make This and let me know your favorite project for 5 extra entries.

  • Add my button to your blog for 1 extra entry.

  • Subscribe to this blog through Feedburner for 1 extra entry.

  • Check out our Made to Match Gymboree (M2MG) Color Guide and let me know your favorite Gymboree Line for 1 extra entry.

The Fine Print: Contest ends at 11:59:59 PM Central Time on Friday, May 15, 2009. Winner will be chosen by random number generator. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Open to U.S. and territories residents only. Winner will be notified via email on Saturday, May 16, 2009 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate winner will be chosen.

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Bad Habits Always Begin As Fun (A Thousand Words Thursday)


Baby boy number 3 was a 31 week preemie, so sometimes even what would seem most trivial to some parents was a big deal to us.

This was the third time he had managed to get his thumb in his mouth. He had worked so hard trying to gain control of his hands so that he could suck his thumb - so this was a big accomplishment!

Now, it's four years later and he's still sucking his thumb. Except it's not so cute anymore!

We've tried everything it seems to stop this horrible habit with no luck. Any suggestions?




Cheaper Than Therapy

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Creating An Awesome Blog: Resources for the New Blogger

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It seems all you hear these days is Blog this, Blog that. Everybody has a blog! Whether it's on a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook or more professional like Wordpress or Blogger, it seems there is a blog out there detailing the lives and opinions of ordinary people.

And because there are so many blogs, serious bloggers have to do something to make theirs stand out.

Here are some resources that I'm hoping you'll find useful in making your blog unique!



(This will be a continually updated list. If you have a resource for bloggers you feel would be useful, please feel free to leave it in the comments and I will add it to the list ASAP. Thank you!)

TEMPLATES


  • The Cutest Blog On The Block The most popular templates on the web! Offering hundreds of easy to use templates, TCBOTB also offers tips and tricks for your blog such as making your blog 3 columns, how to create a signature, and much more. Custom paid services also available.

  • Our Blogger Templates If you're looking for professional looking templates, this is the place to visit. Designed for the blogger who is slightly advanced in HTML and CSS. Limited selection but beautiful templates!

  • Final Sense Offering a very wide variety of Blogger templates; including 3 and 4 column layouts. Detailed instructions for installation offered.

  • PYZAM If you like the ease and style of MySpace templates, then Pyzam is where you want to go for your Blogger template. Bright and flashy in a variety of themes, these templates are super easy to install.
WIDGETS

  • Blogoversary Count down the date to your blog's anniversary with this neat widget that's very simple to create and place on your blog.

  • Recent Posts and Recent Comments for Blogger While not a readily created widget, this detailed and easy tutorial shows you how to create your own comments and recent posts widget straight from the Blogger layout. You'll find that using your own RSS feeds is more reliable than using widgets created and hosted by other sites.

  • Top Commenters This handy dandy little widget uses Yahoo Pipes to pull the last 500 comments from your blog then summarize the top 10 commenters that easily displays in your Blogger sidebar.

  • Feedjit This very popular tool offers real time traffic stats to your blog. Four neat styles to choose from. Customizable to match your blog colors. Easy to install.

  • The Human Calendar This neat little gadget exhibts the date (month, date, year, and day) using people holding handwritten signs.

  • Web and Designers: 10 Free Social Icon Sets Let visitors know how they can follow you with these unique and fun social icon sets. Download and installation required. Easy to use.

  • Twitter Widgets Twitter offers a nice selection of Twitter widgets to use on your blog, keeping visitors and followers alike updated on your latest tweets!

  • My BlogLog The widget lets you see the avatars of recent visitors to your blog, provided they’re also members of MyBlogLog.

  • Twitter Counter With Twitter's popularity, there's sure to be a ton of widgets for the popular social networker. This widget allows readers to see how many follow you on Twitter. Easy to create and install.

  • Link Within Shows visitors to a specific post similar post in which they may be interested. Very simple to create and install. Popular widget despite some criticism from professional bloggers.

  • Rank Widget This tool checks your blog's Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rank, Technorati Blog Rank & Yahoo Search InLinks, then shows them on your Blog. A great tool for website promotion!

  • Technorati Authority Show off your link love (authority) with this easy to use, easy to install widget from one of the most popular social networking sites on the web.

  • Widgetbox: Quote of the Day Add random quotes of the day to your blog. Customize to match your blog. Copy and paste code created for you for easy installation.

  • Entrecard Promote your blog and find new blogs with this advertising-style widget. Must join and upload a 125 x 125 ad/button/badge. Advertise on similar sites with Entrecard Credits (ECs) you earn from "dropping" your card on other EC users. Future projects of this site include offering paid advertising where blog hosts will be able to trade in their ECs for cash.

  • Random.org A super tool for giveaway blogs! Create a widget to place on your blog to have the random number generator choose the winner! Also offers a coin flipper, playing card shuffler, jazz scale generator, bitmap generator and more!

  • My Blogger Experience: How To Add Search To Blogger Using the Blogger Draft version, bloggers can easily add a search function to their blog. Customizable search of your blog only or to include the web and sites to which you have linked.
SCRIPTING


MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Create Glitter Text at Family Lobby Add cool glitter graphics to your blog and/or post using this simple, 3 step glitter text creator that offers a wide variety of color styles and fonts.





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My Three Mouseketeers (Wordless Wednesday)


Taken during our visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in June 2008.

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How To Organize a Successful Neighborhood Yard Sale

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Many people offer great advice to having your own successful yard sale, but I have the key to making it a tremendous success; not just for you but your neighbors too!

I have been organizing neighborhood sales for almost ten years now and we always have a great turnout. So much so that even new residents of our neighborhood stop by my home and ask about when the next neighborhood yard sale will be.

So now I'll share my methods with you!

To begin organizing your neighborhood yard sale, you'll need to determine the date on which to hold your sale. (I recommend one day only sales as they seem to generate the larger crowds.)

TIP:
I recommend setting the date approximately two (2) months in advance to allow for plenty of planning and organizing time.

To do this, you can try one of the following:


  1. Have a neighborly gathering by inviting your neighbors over. Simply slip a typed slip of paper into each of their doors reading "We are organizing a neighborhood yard sale and we need your input. We'll be holding a meeting on [date] at the home of [insert organizer's name] at [time]. We hope to see you there!"


  2. Conduct a telephone survey if you have available to you a listing of neighbors (or most, at the very least) telephone numbers. With each call, simply introduce yourself, the purpose for your call, and, if they are interested in participating, ask what date they would prefer.


  3. Choose your own date and avoid the hassle of consulting with others. In the past three (3) years, this is the method I've chosen and have never had a complaint. This method is the simplest, but should only be used when you've got a general idea about the attitude of those who live around you.

Once you have an idea on everyone's preferred date, make the date official.

While I recommend that areas such as subdivisions allow everyone to conduct their yard sale at the home (customers and salers alike love this idea!), you may choose to discuss during this time with your neighbors holding the sale in one central location.

TIP: Yard sales, as a neighborhood or individually, will see higher sales if held on the first weekend of any month, with the exception of July.

Once you have the official date set, then you need to let everyone in the neighborhood know. The best way to do this is to produce a type written flyer (Microsoft Publishing, PrintMaster and other similar programs are great for this type project) announcing the date(s) and hours. In addition, you should request that each person choosing to participate contributes money for advertising. The amount you request should be determined by advertising cost in your area and the number of places you intend to advertise. For example, I always request that my neighbors contribute $5 each to the cost advertising; which is done in our local paper, four surrounding counties newspapers, two radio stations, and Craiglist.

Be sure your flyer is neat, organized, and attention-getting. Also include in this newsletter an invitation to neighbors to set up lemonade stands (keeps the kiddies in the neighborhood busy!), cotton candy machines or similar ideas. When you have a neighborhood sale, it takes a while to shop and I found that shoppers are willing to pay good prices for coffee, cold drinks or lemonade. Other neighbors of mine have had success in offering pizza by the slice, grilled dogs and burgers, and roasted corn.

TIP: Ask that neighbors return their name , phone number, and number of family members participating to you, along with the advertising contribution, within a certain time frame if they wish to participate. This will give you a total idea of how many homes and families will be involved for use in advertising.

The next thing you will need to do is form a committee willing to be in charge of creating signs to post announcing your yard sale event and, when the time arrives, to actual go out and strategically place the signs in high traffic areas leading to your neighborhood.

Now that the date is set and you have a sign committee, you just need to know how many will be participating and the number of families will be participating with them.

For example, at my home I always host myself, of course, plus my mother, mother-in-law, a couple of aunts and my grandmother-in-law. I count this as one home, 6 families. You need a tally like this from each home participating.

Once you have gathered the information on participates, you can begin creating your ad. An example of my ad from last year reads: 57 Homes, 314 Families, ONE DAY ONLY....." The remainder of the ad offers the date and times, directions and my phone number for additional information. You may also wish to include a Rain Date in case of inclement weather.

TIP: Advertise in not only your local newspaper but in newspapers for cities and towns that border your own. For large sales, people will make the drive!

Be sure to run your advertisements in the two editions prior to the sale and the edition published on the date of or closest to the date of your sale. This allows for yard salers to plan in advance.

As the date approaches, check to make sure the signs are complete and ready for posting.

Send out one additional flyer to the neighbors reminding them of the upcoming sale and inviting any of those wishing to join last minute to do so (be sure them to remind them of the "contribution" fee, even if they're late in joining!).

The evening before the sale should be spent putting up signs and organizing your own yard sale items.

I also found it a lot of fun to visit others who were having a sale and using the opportunity to get to know my neighbors better. A neighborhood yard sale is a great conversation starter!

A successful neighborhood yard sale is a great way to get rid of your junk, make almost twice as much than holding your own individual sale, and a great way to get to know the neighbors. It'll be something that you and your neighbors alike will look forward to each year!

One last tip....don't be spooked if you see strange cars sitting in the shadows even before the sun comes up. Neighborhood yard sales, especially very large ones, tend to draw out the very early birds!

More Tips for Having a Yard Sale:




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