We are a group of moms from Madison, Wisconsin! We created this blog to share and record the many crafts, activities, recipes and events we undertake with our kids every day. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We have moved! Join us over at!


We wanted to let you know that Mad Mom Money Savers has moved and transformed to become Momdaze. You can find us at our new website

For those of you who signed up to receive Mad Mom Money Saver blog posts by email (or wish you had received posts via email), please sign up for Momdaze emails using the "subscribe via email" link located on the left hand column of the Momdaze website.

Thanks for supporting us! We hope you like our new look and our digs!

Katie and Nic

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Thursday Recipe: Great Kid-friendly Goulash

This recipe is one of those "I threw in everything I was hoping to get rid of in the pantry" types. Now, you will read the ingredients and you will say aloud to your computer monitor "WHO has anchovies just sitting around in the pantry?!" The answer is that YOU should! They are amazing--full of omega 3s and calcium, but less mercury risk than salmon. They are cheap, too (I paid $1.39 for my 2-oz tin). When cooked, they melt down to a salty paste and you can add them to everything from mac-and-cheese to this goulash. They taste like salt. I don't know about you but my kids love salt! So here it is: a pantry-cleaning-out recipe that actually went well for a change!

Great and kid-friendly Goulash

1/2 lb kid-friendly-shaped pasta (your choice)
3 TB olive oil
1 16-oz package sausages (I used Smart Chicken Andouille), sliced
2 TB minced garlic (from a jar)
1 C raisins
1 2-oz container flat anchovy fillets
1/2 C red wine
1 15-oz can diced or crushed tomatoes, NOT drained
1 15-oz can pinto beans

(1) Prepare pasta to al dente, according to package directions.
(2) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Saute garlic, sausages and raisins for 3-4 minutes (assuming your sausages are pre-cooked...if not, you'll want to cook those well before adding the other ingredients!)
(3) Add anchovies and stir, paying special attention to pressing the anchovies against the bottom of the pan with the back of your spoon, until the anchovies begin to melt.
(4) Once the anchovies are disintegrating, add red wine, tomatoes and beans. Stir to combine and then simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should thicken somewhat.
(5) After 10-15 minutes, pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well to combine. There won't be a lot of excess sauce, it should coat the pasta nicely.
(6) Serve and, if you dare, let your kids eat it with their hands (mine loved picking up the different pieces to eat them). Diced tomatoes are your best bet if you want to make this a finger-food, since crushed tomatoes will make the dish a little more saucy and therefore more messy.

(which is bon appetit in hungarian)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Theme Day: Seeds to Beans

We planted our seedlings a few weeks ago, and the two-year-old has been watching them daily. What better excuse to talk about the cycle of life (plant life, that is...we're waiting for animal reproduction until MUCH later!)?

We started the day by examining some tomatoes and wondering how the seedlings could possibly produce such a big fruit with just water and sunshine (and nourishment from the soil).

Then, of course, it was necessary to reference some classic Sesame Street for a fast-motion view of Seed Sprouting. An even better seed-sprouting video is here.

Beans are great for sensory table play, so we set up a sensory bin with a wash-tub and compared shapes, sizes, and colors of three different types of dried beans. While playing in the sensory bin, we listened to a few run-throughs of Oats, Peas, Beans and Barleywhich is a song we learned from Raffi.

The two-year-old really enjoyed dumping beans into various containers... including one I didn't sanction...

We then got out the school-glue and she made a picture by gluing beans to colorful paper. At first, she placed beans meticulously on the page, but by the end, she was dumping handfuls onto large globs of glue to see what would stick.

For morning snack, Edamame with plenty of salt was a surprise hit (find it in the frozen-foods section of any grocery store and warm in the microwave or in boiling water).

By filling an old chewing-gum container with beans, we made a maraca/shaker. Depending upon the size of beans in the container, it makes a slightly different sound--try it! Don't forget to let your kiddo decorate the shaker with stickers.

Since the weather is nice, a walk around the yard was in order to try and identify some seeds. Luckily (?) we aren't great at yard work, so some of last year's plants still had dried flowers and seed pods attached to them.

For afternoon snack, baked beans from a can were a huge hit. My kids LOVE them!

And finally, for dinner we made a delicious Goulash that my kids loved, perhaps mostly because I allowed them to eat it with their fingers. The recipe will be on tomorrow's Happy Thursday Recipe! Meanwhile, we've posted some other great bean recipes over time like Brazilian Baked Beans.

A great complement to today's theme is the bees and honey theme day, since bees are an integral part of plant reproduction. Please add comments if you have any great suggestions for this theme--we'll add them and give you the credit. Have a FUN day!

Tuesday Crafts: Balloon painting!

Yesterday was the wonderful Mr. Roger Hargreaves' birthday. Mr. Hargreaves (9 May 1935 – 11 September 1988) was an English author and illustrator of children's books, notably the Mr. Men and Little Miss series, which my 5 year old son is obsessed with. To commemorate Mr. Hargreaves's life and celebrate the wonderful characters he created, we decided to try our hand at balloon painting some of our favorite Mr. Men.

Here's what you need:

Washable paints
Mr. Men or Little Miss book for reference (all the characters are shown on the back cover)
Black marker


1. Blow up some balloons (only partially fill with air) and dip the bottom into paint (color specific to the character you want to paint). Stamp onto paper.

2. Use a paint brush to add in arms, legs and character accessories (i.e., hats and shoes).

3. Once dry, use a black marker to add definition and facial features.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Home and Health: fixing clothing

Before you toss it into the Goodwill pile, that old shirt or pair of shoes may have a second life in it! Try these tricks to give your clothing a stylish second life.

(1) Scuff marks on shoes or bleached/faded areas of clothing can benefit from attention with a permanent marker like a Sharpie or a paint-pen.
(2) I have a rainbow of pens on hand for just this purpose...

You might also try a daring fashion statement, by gluing a funky accessory to the problem spot on your clothing or shoes. Do you like the google eye on my black boot? I do!

(2) Gluing accessories works for covering small tears or holes in clothing, too! I had moth holes in the wool sweater below that were conveniently covered by cute jeweled flowers I picked up at Hobby Lobby for $2. You can always add additional accessories (beyond what is needed) to make it cute or symmetrical.

(3) Lost a button?
For a quick fix, the micro stitch tool is worth its weight in gold. According to reviews, it is better than today's buttoneer, and can be used to temporarily hem and mend tears in addition to replacing buttons in seconds. Its fixes are temporary (you'll need to do the real sewing, later) but it is a great savings when you're already running late!
When you replace the button permanently (or if you lost the button!), replace it with something that is more fun! Check ebay or garage sales for big bags of miscellaneous buttons--good to have on hand for craft projects, too.

(3) Clothing looking a little faded? Try RIT dye, which you can find at most grocery stores. Choose a darker color than the original so that the dye will cover the old color (or try the "color remover" although I cannot vouch for it).

Here's to saving money!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Fun: Mother's Day Gift Ideas!

Since Sunday is Mother's Day, we thought we would post our top ten favorite Mothers-Day gift ideas. The standard flowers and chocolates are great, but seriously, here's what we Moms really want! (DO forward this to the men in your life!)

1. A free afternoon! Imagine the possibilities! Whether it be the opportunity to go swimsuit shopping without the kids, go to the bookstore to browse (what a concept!), go to an outlet mall, or simply soak in the tub, one free afternoon would be a wonderful gift.

2. Some progress on the "Honey Do" list! How about painting the master bedroom (seriously, its the only room in our house that hasn't been painted since we moved in 5 years ago and I'm sick of staring at the white walls), or changing the battery in the wall clock, as well as setting it to daylight savings time! Either way, lets get some projects around the house ticked off the list!

3. Household pet maintenace. Options could include brushing the dogs (I'm sick of vaccuming) or cleaning out the fish tank!

4. Two hours of time with a kitchen-and-bath designer or general interior designer who can help you refresh your place. You could pick one who specializes in DIY-friendly projects.

5. A hand-held scalp massager. Baby, this is better than....

6. Three two-hour, pre-paid sessions with a BABYSITTER who is available during the daytime, and a list of their availability in the next three weeks. You can grocery shop, you can swim-suit shop, or you can go stare at a wall. Two hours to yourself, three times over.

7. A gift card to a local Coffee Shop that has a drive-thru. Have you noticed how you never get coffee anymore because (1) it is pricey and (2) it isn't worth unloading the kids to go in? On that note, there should be more drive-thru services in general (like the Altadenas in LA...I never understood drive-thru groceries until I became a mom of more-than-one!)

8. Dad to cook dinner for a week!

9. Flowers and chocolate in ADDITION to the above...because yeah, we want it all!

10. Any combination of the above!

Happy Mother's Day!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Thursday Recipe: Brazilian Baked Beans

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! See our Cinco de Mayo Theme Day post for ideas about how to celebrate with your kids. Here is a recipe that you could try for dinner tonight.

This is my adaptation of an authentic recipe I got from my aunt (thanks, Aunt Gayle!) The kids loved it, and so did we. You might notice that I've started using Smoked Paprika in pretty much every recipe. The stuff is gold--it confers a complex flavor that interests adults but isn't too spicy for kids. This recipe is also a fabulous opportunity to whip out your cast-iron or dutch-oven for a one-dish meal!

Brazilian Baked Beans

1/2 lb bacon or turkey-bacon (optional)
1 lb ground pork or turkey sausage
1 TB chopped garlic (from a jar)
3 15-oz cans black beans, excess water removed but NOT drained or rinsed
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 C tomato sauce
1 C frozen corn
2 TB dried cilantro
1 TB brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp chili (I used chipotle)
salt to taste, may not be needed
1/2-1 C shredded cheddar, if desired
Sour cream for serving, if desired

If using bacon, brown it in an oven- and stove-safe pan like a cast-iron skillet. If using a skillet, 10-in or larger is best. Once browned, remove bacon from pan and dice it, but leave the drippings in the pan. Brown the sausage and garlic in the pan. Once brown, remove some or all of the drippings if desired (I actually left them, though, since they add awesome flavor and I used turkey so they weren't excessive). Add everything to the pot, including bacon, and simmer 5 minutes. If using, top with the shredded cheddar. Then bake at 350 for 45 mins-1 hour (it is pretty forgiving, just bake for as long as you have). Serve with sour cream, if desired.

!Buen Provecho!

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