Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Let me just get this out of the way up front.  No – I am not expecting.  These are not pregnancy cravings.  Sorry Grandma, grandchild #3 is not on the way.

Okay, moving on.  I gave up my coffee recently for several reasons.  It is expensive.  I like it only with liquid creamer or half and half.  Also expensive.  And I was wasting a lot when I would get distracted by kids and household disasters, coming back to find my coffee cold.  You can only reheat it so many times before it looses something, you know?

I have never liked hot chocolate, except on rare occasions.  Until now.  With a tight budget, the sweets have also been gone.  One night I was desperate for something hot and chocolate-y.  So Ben whipped up some homemade hot chocolate.  I was instantly hooked.  It actually tasted like chocolate – not like a powdered cocoa packet.  Smooth.  Creamy.  You get the point.

But alas, hot chocolate is expensive too.  Milk.  Chocolate chips.  Pricey. 

The next time I went to Costco I picked up one of these:

Homemade Hot Chocolate

For $10, it’s a steal.  The equivalent of about $1.50 per bag in the store.  Cheap.  And I love having it on hand.  For cookies (on a whim).  Topping on coffee cake.  And of course, hot chocolate.

Just mix 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, and 4 cups of milk in a sauce pan over medium heat, until the chocolate is melted and the milk is heated through. {serves 3-4}.  Even Elaine has started asking for this treat!

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Homemade Hot Chocolate

It is  a treat in our house, but it is also my latest craving.  And it is still cheaper than Starbucks!  At $4.04 each, I can buy a gallon of milk for $3.19 and use a scoop out of my chocolate chip hoard.  And it serves all of us, not just one of us.   Mmmmm…one more thing to love about winter!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back in the Game

Admission: this former coupon addict hasn’t used coupons or played the “drugstore game” since moving to New York City.  I tried a few times when we first moved here, but I was quickly discouraged.  I had a hard time finding my coupons, and the newspaper here is expensive.  The grocery store that accepts coupons isn’t overly convenient, and it doesn’t double any coupons.

I tried to score the free deals at CVS, RIte Aid, and Walgreens, but they were always out of the free items.  I guess it’s because there are so many people living here!  And, dragging two kids to the store when I can’t walk there and don’t always have a car isn’t easy.  So I gave up.

Entere Money Saving Mom’s new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.  I got the book, and the audiobook.  With Ben’s recent unemployment and the tight budget, I knew it was time to get back on the frugal track.  I was still mostly there, but slightly derailed.

I found a local free paper that has the coupon inserts.  I made a coupon box.  I printed coupons online.  I planned my shopping list.  I signed up for the Grocery Game free trial.  I am going to try and shop at the supermarket near our church because they double coupons.  I will have to go on Sundays after church, though.

My kids have been sick this weekend.  After three days of throw up and diarrhea, I was ready to escape the house and responsibilities.  When Ben got home from church, I got to go out for a couple of hours – all.by.myself.  Hallelujah!  {Note: I love my kids, but shopping is SO much easier alone!}

I’m reading a book called, “Who got Peanut Butter on my Daily Planner?”  My mom sent it to me when I was expecting Elaine.  I’m wondering why I waited so long to read it!  I love what the author, Cindy Dagnan said on this topic.  It sums up my feelings exactly!

“Hit an all-night [grocery] center after the children are in bed.  I often do that in the summer, and my cell phone always rings at least once.  It’s my bewildered husband, worried about me.  Nothing’s wrong—I’m just having an absolute ball, shopping and browsing without anyone wailing, begging, or whacking another sibling on the head with a box of cereal!”

I got to hit CVS and Walgreens, and I was able to find all of the freebies/deals on my list.  I know that God was saving those last four bottles of Dawn on the bottom shelf just for me.  And thanks to a friend, I had four coupons to use on them.  You always have to put out a little upfront to get started, but now I have store cash for both stores to roll into deals next week.  I spent $11, saved over $35, and have $7 for next week.

I am proud to show you my first shopping trip, now that I’m back in the game!

First NYC Drugstore Game shopping trip
I really just needed the Dawn, but I made $1.50 on the eye drops, and the chocolate is for an event coming up at church.  And who can resist Hallmark cards, especially when they are FREE?  The redbox rental was also free, and my Starbucks drink printed a survey for another FREE drink!

First NYC Drugstore Game shopping trip

Elaine wanted in my picture and assumed this pose.  I think she was trying to get her mouth as close as possible to the chocolate!

First NYC Drugstore Game shopping trip

Nolan got to join the picture.  He went straight for the soap!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sick Day

We have been up since 1 a.m.  Elaine lost her “cookies” all over her bed.  The stomach virus has been going around several of our friends here.  While we were cleaning up the bed (and Nolan was screaming his head off in his bed), Elaine had round #2 all over the floor.  We went through 3 sets of pajamas in less than an hour!

I stayed on the couch with Elaine and after some dry heaves she finally succumbed to sleep.  Then it hit her on the other end, if you know what I mean.  Poor girl was so thirsty, and kept asking for (of all things) chocolate!  But every little sip I gave her just came back up.

A newly washed Bunny was soiled again in 30 minutes.  Elaine cried and cried because she puked all over Betsy, and her dolly has no more clean clothes.  My girl just wants to be held…and she wants to wear her new boots.  Nolan wants to be held, and he wants to touch the new boots.  Elaine does not like that!

It’s tough being a mommy sometimes.  This is my first experience with the stomach flu – the first time Elaine has thrown up.  I don’t do well cleaning it up, either.  Probably because I don’t throw up easily, or very often.  I lost everything when I was in labor with Elaine, and that was the first time that I can remember…since…grade school.  So this is definitely not pleasant for me!

While Elaine was on her 3rd movie of the day (the only thing that seems to be helping her settle down), I stole a few moments at the computer.  Realizing that I no longer heard Nolan playing, I stepped into the room to investigate.  This is what I found:

{notice the boots?}

{conked out with his favorite toy – the computer cord}

Seriously – I have never seen a kid so attracted to cords before!  I cannot keep them all out of sight enough…he always finds them! 

So that’s it from the Hamilton household for today.  Maybe I will get to sleep tonight??!!??

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Day

Winter has finally descended on the Big City.  We have about an inch of crispy, icy snow.  Elaine couldn’t wait to get on her snow pants and go outside to play.  We made it a family affair and headed to the park.  Elaine got to ride along on the sled, even though there wasn’t really enough snow for sledding.  This is Nolan’s first snow.  It’s a litlte late…his snow suit barely fit!  Guess it’s time to move him up a size!

2012-1-21 First Snow Day jpg

2012-1-21 First Snow Day p.2 jpg

Snow Day!  Snow Day!
Elaine & Nolan on the sled.  Nolan was so bundled he couldn’t move!  Then Elaine insisted that Ben sit on the sled so she could pull him!

Snow Day!
Elaine kept losing her mitten, so Ben gave her his gloves.  She looked so funny with her giant hands!

The Sock Fish Game

I’m on a roll this week – finally doing some projects that I have pinned on Pinterest!  I captured this photo of Nolan that was inspired by a picture pose on Pinterest.  Yesterday Elaine and I made a fishing game, also from Pinterest. 

We took old socks – ones that were too small, or had missing mates, and stuffed them to make fish.  In the toe of each sock is a heavy duty magnet.  We tied off the ends with ribbon, so that the ankle of the sock looks like a tail. 

The Sock Fish Game

The Sock Fish Game

Then we had fun gluing buttons, wiggly eyes, bows, mustaches, and foam fins onto them.  And finally, we were able to go fishing using a dowel rod, string, and additional magnets.  Too much fun!

The Sock Fish Game
I found the mustache in a jar of ribbons and bows that my Grams gave me.  I couldn’t resist putting it on our giant fish, and I think he is just too cute!

The Sock Fish Game  The Sock Fish Game

The Sock Fish Game  The Sock Fish Game

The Sock Fish Game

The Sock Fish Game

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nolan…Six Months

I finally got it done…Nolan’s six month pictures, edited, and digital scrapbooked.  Enjoy!

Nolan 6 month window pics jpg

These pictures were inspired by Pinterest.  I finally did something that I had pinned!  (For those of you who are not yet addicted to Pinterest, let me know and I’ll send you an invite!)

The Nolanator 6 months jpg

Ben’s new name for Nolan is “The Nolanator”.

The B-I-B-L-E

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Elaine Drinks Tea

Elaine always wants to share what I have  - even if it is “coppee” (coffee)!  Recently I gave up coffee and have been drinking tea instead.  Elaine is always asking for some, so I started giving her some milk with a little tea in it.  She likes to drink out of my pretty tea cups. 

Elaine has tea

Elaine has tea
After I took this picture, Elaine wanted me to take “one more” for “Ma”.  So here is another shot!

Elaine has tea
She was right – the smile is much better in this picture!

Elaine has tea
Next time “Ma” comes to visit, I think we will have to do a tea party!

Let’s Eat–Nolan Style!

Nolan doesn’t have to be prompted to open his mouth.  Just hold a spoon in front of his face, and he’ll come find it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Favorite Posts of 2011

Winter 2011 Blog HeaderThis is a little late in coming, but I wanted to condense 2011 by listing my favorite blog posts!  Here are my top picks, in several categories…


Random Posts:

It was a year with several big family events.  Here are the highlights, in chronological order:

Okay, so I have a lot of favorites!  There you have it.  Our 2011 in a nutshell!

Monday, January 9, 2012

All About Nolan

Nolan is six months old now.  He is crawling (army style), sitting up, and cutting his first teeth (hence the rosy cheeks).  He loves to steal toys from his sister and is very good at seeking out electrical cords to chew on.  (Elaine is the Daddy-appointed tattle-tale, and she loves to say, “Nolan.  No cords.  No-no.”)  He has a great smile, likes bubbles in the bath, and wears shoes, to Elaine’s delight.  He eats like a champ – just wave a spoon in front of his mouth, and he will open wide to let it in!  He’s my boy!

:: Baseball is in his name.  Read more here!


img_2915  img_2917

:: Mommy’s kitchen helper.  Don’t tell Daddy!


:: First Tie – he looked like a little man for church!

img_2934  img_2936

:: Exploring – he found the pots!




:: Yum, yum!  Give me more!

Nolan eating Sweet Potatoes

Nolan eating Sweet Potatoes

:: Happy Little Man

Nolan playing Scrabble