How to Save BIG on a PBK Anywhere Chair

Christmas shopping is in full swing with Black Friday right around the corner. I have most of my shopping done including the one "big" gift for my kiddos. Here's some insight on how I scored BIG on this gift.... 67% savings!!

My kiddos love to read. We read books morning, noon, and night and that is the main reason I wanted to get a PBK Anywhere Chair for each of them. A comfy spot to encourage good reading habits even without my suggestion. I heard of a couple different options and will share with you some as well as what I chose and how it worked for me. You do NOT have to spend $120-200 for an Anywhere Chair!

Here are some options for you:

Wal-Mart's Awesome Chair: $69 (for the regular size, price varies based on size) with free in-store pick-up. These are new but do have a few good reviews. For two of these chairs with an added $20 each for personalization and about $8 of taxes the total would be $186. This would be a 34% savings.

Uglysofa.com's Ugly-where Chair: $70 (for the regular size, price varies based on size) which includes personalization! Shipping is about $13 for FedEx Ground. This company buys foam from a manufacturer and then uses actual Pottery Barn covers. They also offer pre-monogrammed chairs for $10 less. So if you have a fairly common name (and there are some unique ones) then you can buy one for $60 + shipping. For two chairs pre-monogrammed and shipped it would cost $149, a 47% savings. If they did not have your child's name it would add an additional $25 for personalization for a total of $174, a 39% savings.

Find a used chair locally: $10-20 for the memory foam. I found two memory foam inserts locally for $15 each.

This is a good option to really save some money! They were in good condition from a non-smoking home. I bought a pre-monogrammed cover from Uglysofa.com for my son whose name is quite common. They were running a 20% off sale so I basically got it shipped for free. It was $23 and it is brand new from Pottery Barn! That means his chair was $38. :) Now my daughter, her name is unique, and so after stalking Uglysofa.com for awhile I gave up and went to eBay. It's pretty expensive on eBay but I could not find any other options! I found hers for $21 and $20 to monogram so her chair is $56 total.

This third option is a little more time consuming and you have to be patient in watching for the deals or you can post an ISO (in search of) on buy/sell/trade sites or Craigslist.

Overall I spent $94 total for two regular size anywhere chairs that are 100% Pottery Barn and personalized for each of them. I priced these out on the Pottery Barn website and to personalize and ship with tax the total was $283. A $169 difference for 67% savings. Merry Christmas!!!! :)

If anyone has some other options please let me know! This is one of the hottest gifts for young kiddos. It's always recommended in the St Louis Mommy2Mommy group for 1st-3rd birthdays.

Now I'm off to figure out how to wrap them for Christmas and after Christmas I'll be making a little reading nook in our playroom so that they can enjoy the chairs as I intended.

UPDATE: I found a small cut/fray on the piping of the chair cover I bought from Uglysofa.com. I contacted them through their Facebook page and they promptly responded and are sending me a new one. I will update if there are any issues or if it does not arrive but so far I am very pleased with their customer service.



Winter 2014 Bucket List

Winter kind of just hit us like a slap in the face last week... that snow. Phew. It was fun to see how beautiful it was but I sure don't enjoy cold weather. I am lucky to not have a commute but I do have a busy 2 year old who doesn't like to be cooped up every day. Wearing him out over the next few months is going to be interesting! To help me not get stuck inside all winter I have put together a bucket list of fun things to do this winter. You may remember my post about my fall bucket list which was my first attempt at remembering to do the "fun stuff" and not get too busy with life. It went well and though I gave myself until the end of November I won't complete all 20 items... unfortunately there were some unforeseen circumstances that put the kabash on a couple but overall I am so glad I made it and really glad I tried hard to complete the items! We have a ton of memories from the fall bucket list and I am looking forward to many more from this new winter bucket list.

So here it is...

  1. Bake Christmas cookies
  2. Drink Bailey's & cocoa for dessert
  3. Go sledding
  4. Sew Christmas PJs
  5. Make snowmen and angels
  6. Drive thru lights in PJs with cocoa
  7. Meet Santa
  8. Shovel snow from the driveway
  9. Attend St Charles Christmas Traditions
  10. Have a snowman breakfast
  11. Take a carriage ride
  12. Visit zoo light display
  13. Complete 25 days of kindness (planning a blog post on this in the next week so stay tuned)
  14. Make a gingerbread house
  15. Go ice skating
  16. Make paper snowflakes
  17. Send personal Christmas cards
  18. Watch a Christmas classic
  19. Complete the Scripture Countdown to Jesus' birthday
  20. Host a game night
I am pretty excited about this list and am giving myself until the end of February to complete all 20. I have already added a bunch of these to my calendar to help me stay on track! I may just do some of these (like #2) on a regular basis too. ;) I am going to take pictures and track my progress on Facebook using #winterbucketlist2014. It will be fun to see the culmination of everything we do in the end.

Have you made a mini bucket list? What would be on your winter bucket list?



Mini Apple Pies and Crockpot Applesauce

Last week our dryer sparked and smoked when we started a load of laundry. I was really nervous about what might come of this dryer situation. They are expensive to fix and expensive to buy new. My husband took the dryer apart and found this burnt control board. :(

Luckily he found a new control board on eBay for $60 and I found a YouTube video that showed how to remove the old and install the new one. :) Yay! That was a close call. And now I have no excuse for loads of unclean laundry...

I will say that for the short time that I was hanging up laundry on a line in my kitchen it was not so bad... I mean who can resist these little underwear??

I spent a day hanging up laundry and crossing a few more items off my Fall Bucket List (I have through the end of November). I made homemade applesauce and some mini apple pies. The applesauce was soooo so easy and made in the crockpot. Here's a look at the apples over the course of the 6 hours they were cooking:

Here's my recipe...

A bunch of apples (I bought a 3lb bag of organic fuji apples and used about 3/4)
1/4 cup apple juice (optional)
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar lightly packed (optional)

Cut, chop, dice the apples (leave the skin for more nutritional value). Pile all your apple pieces into the crockpot and add the remaining ingredients. Mix, cover, and turn crockpot on to low. Let them cook for 6 hours stirring occasionally. When finished empty contents of crockpot into a blender/food processor. Blend as much or as little as you want and then ENJOY!

Skip the brown sugar and add 1 cup blueberries, peaches, or strawberries for some fun new flavors.
Replace the apple juice with juice from one lemon and some lemon zest. I use whatever I have on hand... this recipe is so versatile!

*This applesauce keeps for about a week or so. You can freeze it and it is still tasty once thawed.

The other baking endeavor for the day was mini apple pies. I was so excited about making a 100%, from scratch, apple pie but shoot if I was tired by 2pm (nap time) and wanted to take the easy way out! I bought some buttermilk biscuits from this new (to me) company, Immaculate Baking. Their products do not contain some of the harmful ingredients that are commonly found in refrigerated baking items. I like the convenience, but not the chemicals... I digress. The biscuits would do for the pie crusts and here's my recipe:

1-2 apples diced into small pieces (skin removed)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 can buttermilk biscuits (6-8)
Flour, as needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease six spot muffin tin. Flour your workspace and rolling pin. Roll biscuits flat and thin (1/8-1/4"). Place six flattened biscuits into the muffin tin to create the crusts. Mix cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mix over the crusts. Add apples to the crusts evenly amongst the six crusts. Place a dalup of butter on each pie. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mixture over the pies. If you have left over biscuit dough you can cut fun shapes to place on top of the pies.... I cut hearts. :) Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.

I have a photo of the pies before baking but unfortunately no after pictures... we ate them up before I could snap a picture! :) Yum!

I hope you like these as much as us... let me know if you try them or have other recipe variations!



12 Pumping Tips to Make Your Life Easier

I can't believe how quickly time is passing. With my son time was slow yet quick like that saying, "the days are long but the years are short". I feel like now, with two little ones, the days and years are short! Before I know it my baby girl will turn one. One is a big deal... it is a time to celebrate baby's first year of life but to also, as a parent, celebrate making it through the first year. That first year... oh man... it's so rough. The sleepless nights, growth spurts, colic, teething, gas, sleep training, solid foods, baby-proofing, and just figuring out life with a new one- like arriving late 90% of the time!

For me, with baby #2, I have a goal to breastfeed through the first year. I stopped at four months with my son for a bunch of reasons and I always felt a little guilty for it so this time it's a priority to make it work. I will say after four months it's actually pretty easy! But those first four months are brutal. I stay home with my kids so I nurse often but I still pump occasionally and bottle feed for a couple reasons: 1) My baby is comfortable taking a bottle, 2) I have a supply to feel like I can go on date night or even on a short trip without my baby (that's for my own sanity), and 3) To understand how much I produce at various times of the day which helps me better prepare bottles for her when she is with a sitter. That being said I have a love/hate relationship with my pump. It's not fun and it is getting old at eight months but I am still committed and these help me! They make my life easier to make this first-year-breastfeeding goal a reality.

Here are my 12 Pumping Tips to Make Your Life Easier:

1. Building a Freezer Supply: The best time to pump to build a freezer supply is in the middle of the night and in the morning. You make the most milk at these times which means more bang (milk) for your buck (time). If you pump at no other time then these you can still set aside a good supply. When my daughter started sleeping through the night at about 7 weeks I continued to get up at 2am to pump for 4-5 more weeks. I know, I sound like a crazy person! But I was determined and I was getting 5-7oz to freeze at each of these pumping sessions. Multiply that by about 30 days and that gets you 150-210oz! That is a freezer stash to be proud of! Honestly, looking back, it wasn't so bad. I had everything setup before I went to bed, set my alarm, it went off, I hooked up, closed my eyes (to avoid waking too much from the light), and knocked it out. I also usually didn't run it to the fridge because I would be up in 3 hours. Milk can sit out for 4 hours at room temperature. It was a pretty good system.

The other time to pump is when baby only nurses on one side. You can pump the other side and save the milk. This also helps to not feel so lopsided too. ;) I have chunky babies who take both sides EVERY time. Talk about exhausting!

2. Buy Lots of Bottles: I have a large collection and sometimes I still don't feel like it is enough. I have four 8oz bottles, six 5oz bottles, four 4oz bottles, and I used Snappies (2oz) for the first month too. I have three sets of flanges/connectors and two sets tubing. It saves me from having to wash parts constantly.

3. Use Pump Freezer Bags: If you know you are going to freeze it, like with my nighttime pumpings, just use a freezer bag! These bags hook directly to your pump using a connector. It's pretty handy to not have to wash a bottle. I have a Medela pump and the Medela bags attach using the connectors. I saved my connectors and found Honeysuckle bags that hook to the same connectors but freeze flat better than the Medela ones. If I am not hooking them up directly to the pump then I really like Lansinoh bags because they freeze flat as well. Wait what's that and why? Keep reading...

4. Freeze Flat: If you are building a supply you need to have freezer space! We have our freezer in our kitchen and one attached to our garage fridge. Space is tight to say the least. I have found that milk is much easier to store if you freeze them laying flat. I lay my bags of milk flat on a box in the freezer, once frozen I can organize them with the rest.

^^^ That Smart Ones is expired because I stopped eating them 3 years ago but I keep it in the freezer to freeze my milk bags flat. :)

5. Setup An Organization System: I freeze milk overnight in our kitchen freezer then I move the frozen bags to the garage freezer. The newest bags go in the back and when I need milk to thaw I gran from the front. I use soda boxes because they fit fine in them but here are some other options: Gift bag, container, deep freezer bags.

6. Calendar Reminder: I don't know about you but I have a hard time remembering things... my mom brain is totally shot! I got in this habit of forgetting to put my milk from the fridge into the freezer and was dumping too much because it had spoiled. I put a reminder in my calendar for Monday and Thursday evenings to put milk into freezer bags. This ensures I won't forget and have to waste milk.

7. Smell Test: Speaking of spoiled milk... I have found that if the milk is spoiled it smells. It is a very distinct smell so you will know instantly! Do yourself a favor and put an ounce of milk in the fridge. Smell it every day and I am willing to bet that by the seventh or eighth day you will get that smell. I am not normally in the business of recommending letting milk go to waste but this little experiment will give you peace of mind later when you are doing the smell test. Before I freeze any milk it has to pass the Smell Test! Another note about this test is that it works on alcohol too. One evening my hubby and I went out for date and we had a good time, a REALLY GOOD time. I had many too many drinks. The kids were with grandma so we weren't on a time crunch to get home and relieve the sitter. I pumped when I got home because I missed a session while out and didn't want to wake up in pain. I guess I was just in the habit of putting the bottle of milk in the fridge so the next day it was mixed in with the others. I was afraid I would have to dump all of them because I didn't know which one it was. I opened them and smelled each one and I can tell you the one from that evening of drinking was more than noticeable it was like smelling alcohol breath the next day. So now you know... if you drink too much you will be able to tell using the Smell Test!

8. Flanges as a Bag/Bottle Funnel: This is one I was excited about when it came to me. I have some 24mm flanges that came with my pump but I use a different size. Instead of throwing them out I use them as a funnel to fill my freezer bags. This helps to avoid spilling and from getting milk in the lock system that closes the bag. The problem with milk in the lock system is that milk expands when frozen and can cause leaks later. The nice thing is that you can use the flange when you have thawed milk in a freezer bag that you want to pour into a bottle. This makes it much much easier and no spills! I use a glass as well When I am pouring milk into the bags. They don't stand up while you are pouring and can flop over if you aren't careful so the glass helps to keep the bag in place.

9. Baggie to Thaw: One time I put a bag of frozen milk in the fridge to thaw for the next day. When I came back in the morning I found a big milk mess in the fridge because of a small leak in the bag. Now anytime I plan to thaw milk I put it in a baggie so that if it does have a leak I am not cleaning out the fridge and I can usually just pour the excess in the bottle! Double win!

10. Steam Bag and Wipes: I have a couple Nuk steam bags and I have Medela wipes to clean my breast pump parts on the go and when traveling. I have found that a good rinse does wonders but the wipes help to avoid that "fog" that appears from breast milk if not washed after each use. I use them to make sure the milk doesn't dry to the parts. I keep these items in my pump bag at all times! I also use the steam bags at home for quick steams every once in awhile. I do not boil bottles or parts.

11. Wetness in Tubing: You may start to notice condensation and wetness inside your tubing. It can cause mold growth so when I finish pumping I turn the pump off, disconnect the bottles/connectors from the tubes, and then turn the pump back on with only the tubes connected. I leave it run while I rinse my parts and cap the bottles. The air from the pump will dry up the condensation.

12. Nursing Cover: I have a nursing cover that I made that does not have boning in the top (which is normally used to help see your baby while nursing). I use that all the time for pumping in the car or in other places where you prefer to be concealed... like on a plane, scrunched in those little seats! Keep something simple like that with you so you don't fret when it comes time to pumping.

Sorry for the long post... I hope it is useful! Let me know if you have any tips to share because I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and successful. I would love to hear from you!