Archives for December 2010

Things I Love Thursday – Family Life Weekly Calendar

My husband has an aversion to anything organizational.  Lists, planners, plans, calendars… You might think I would be the perfect balance for him, as a woman who writes a blog named after an organizational device.

In reality, we just kind of drive each other nuts.  It has taken me a long time to understand that there is no calendar he is actually going to use on his own.  I have tried online calendars that send him reminder emails.  I have tried hand-held electronic devices.

He isn’t going to use them.

My only hope is a calendar that shows my whole family’s activities.  I like a hanging wall calendar, but when my husband sees “all that stuff we do when he’s at work and school” his eyes cross, so I needed something that had an area for everyone individually – but was all together at the same time.

I found one.

Families With Purpose (remember the Frazzle Free Christmas?) has a Family Life Weekly and Monthly Calendar which does just that.  It includes a weekly ‘tear off’ pad with a column for everyone in your family and a regular old school monthly calendar.  It doesn’t make my husband any less calendar averse – but it works with his A.D.D. brain because there isn’t so much extra information that he just shuts down when he looks at it.

I love this calendar, and if you’re looking for a great family organizer I recommend it! For more Things I Love Thursday please visit The Diaper Diaries.

I was given a complimentary calendar to review.  All opinions are my own.

Top Ten Tuesday – 2010 In Pictures

Top Ten {Tuesday} I get irritated this time of year with all of the “Year In Review” stuff, reminding me of goofy things politicians said or emotional news stories.

Yet, here I am doing just that.  Except there isn’t really anything that emotional and all the goofiness comes from my kids.

Here you have it, folks.  BigBinder’s Year In Review.


Calvin EcoPreserve

Picking blueberries

Festival of the Arts

At the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Grand Classic Kids’ Race

In Leland

Dancing at the Sandbox Convention

Digging in the sand at St. Joe

At the Fish Hatchery in Petoskey

It has been an awesome year!

This post was linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda.


Budget Boosters – Frugal and Fun New Year’s Eve

Aaahhhhh….. Christmas is over and we are relaxing in our stuffed-to-the-gills house.  It’s little, and with a huge toy influx like we just experienced it takes a while to find a place for everything.  Oh, and did I mention that we have insulation contractors running around with caulk guns and talking some gobbledygook about “R values” too?

Yeah, so there’s that.

It’s important that we get our rest.  We have big plans for celebration New Year’s Eve BigBinder style.  That is; frugally, in Grand Rapids, and with kids.

From 4:00 to 5:00 we’re going to head over to the Main Library for stories, face painting and other crafts as part of their “Celebrate First Night” event.  Parking is free in the Library lot for the first 60 minutes.

From there we’ll go out to eat.  This isn’t usually a frugal adventure but since we’re going to be downtown nice and early we’re going to try and land a parking spot we don’t have to pay for.  My husband seems to think this is possible.  I seem to think he is crazy.

My friend Jolon at Savvy Chic Savings sent me a gift certificate to through their “Feed It Forward” program, so I looked and there are a few restaurants right down town where we can use it!

Have you heard about this?  You can send anyone a free $10 gift certificate – up to 40 a day! If you need one leave a comment and I’ll send it to you!

We have tickets to the Grand Rapids Griffins Game because it’s going to be AWESOME.  Doors open at 5:00 and they are giving away a 2011 Griffins Team Calendar to the first 2000 people.  If the thing doesn’t work out for you – it’s a Friday so there will be Dollar Dogs (and Dollar Beers) from 5:00 to 7:00 too.  The game starts at 6:00 and afterward we’ll get to watch an indoor fireworks display!

Still need tickets? Click on the Griffins link and enter the promo code “BIGBINDER” for discounted tickets and added bonus:  a portion of each ticket is donation to ACCESS Food Pantry!

We’re in for a whole evening of downtown fun; because after the game we’re going over to the steps of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Hopefully someone will be selling hot chocolate, because we’re going to hang out in the Amway Family area; a free, family friendly area and bags with Amway products to the first 300 families!  We’ll stay as long as we can until either the ball or my kids drop onto Rosa Parks Circle :)

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Will we see you downtown?


Recipe Roundtable – LEFTOVERS!

I gave my cousins a Thanksgiving present this year.  I had my kids decorate paper bags to look like turkeys; or at least I asked them to decorate paper bags like turkeys.  They must have been thinking of those psychedelic turkeys from the 60’s because these were  pretty wild.

I ‘stuffed’ the turkeys with fixins’ for easy leftover meals and they told me yesterday that they loved both of them, so I thought I’d share the recipes with you!

First (this was in the small turkey) was Turkey Green Bean Casserole:

  • 2 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 bag microwave Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice
  • 1 can green beans

Mix all ingredients together with 2 cups of cooked, chopped turkey.  Bake in a covered casserole dish for 30 minutes at 350°.

In the big turkey was what they needed to make Turkey Chili:

  • 1 small jar of white beans (about 3 cups)
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 2 small (snack size) bags of Chili Cheese Cheetos

Mix together beans and salsa with 2 cups of chopped, cooked chili.  Heat in a saucepan.  Top with cheese if desired and crush Cheetos on top.

How do YOU use up leftovers?  Link up with a recipe!

This weekly feature is co-hosted by and Each blog will host it’s own recipe, but share a common linky. The co-hostesses links will appear at the top of the list and you are welcome to join in.

Please link to your ACTUAL POST and not just your home page so people can find it easier. Also please put the recipe title in parentheses to help out the other readers. Old recipe posts are fine. While we appreciate a link back or the addition of the button above, it is NOT required. Thank you for participating.


Thank You BigBinder Readers

PhotobucketI am so truly thankful for having readers that are also givers!  Whether it was BigBinder’s BigBasket or another opportunity to help someone in need I know that you all are the most kind hearted people out there.  It’s a privledge to write this blog for you :)

A special thanks today goes out to those of you that donated to the BigBasket – I’m delivering the Holiday Meal to the family today and I’m nervous and excited but mostly, honored.  I am representing all of you as it’s amazing to have you behind me in this!


Day Two – How Did It Go For You?

How is the Winter Break going? Do you have a countdown calendar to January 3?

We’ve been keeping busy, but if you’re looking for something to do check out my Guide to Frugal Fun and see if anything suits your fancy.  Or even just keeps you sane :)

Don’t forget to spend just a little time outside.  It’s important for staying grounded but on a more practical note; wears our kids out and makes us feel like we’ve done something good.  A win-win, really. 

Here’s a video from some stomping around we’ve done recently.  Enjoy!


New Year’s Eve With Kids – A GIVEAWAY!!

I told you earlier about my dream New Year’s Eve; a Griffins Game, hanging out on the steps of the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Amway’s Family Area, and spending the night at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

It’s going to come true – for my family and also for one of you readers!! I am SO excited to bring you this giveaway!

Someone reading this post right now (maybe it’s you!) will win a tickets to the New Year’s Eve Griffins Game for you and your family, an Amway bag full of great products, and a hotel room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

That is a New Year’s Eve your family will remember! Here are the rules:

  1. Enter using this form.  We want to know what your favorite ‘family friendly’ thing to do in Grand Rapids.  That’s one entry (required).
  2. Subscribe to BigBinder by email or by RSS feed (if you already subscribe, just let me know how).  That’s one entry.
  3. Share this contest with a friend.  For each friend who enters and mentions your name, you’ll each receive one extra entry!
  4. Tweet this contest using the following wording, ” I want to win an awesome #GrandRapids Family New Year’s Eve package from @bigbinderblog and @amway!”  That’s another entry. You can tweet once a day for an extra entry.

Every entry must be recorded on the form.  I will be choosing the winner using on December 26 and contacting the winner that day via email.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.  GOOD LUCK!

****Entries are now closed, thanks!*****

The good news is that even if you don’t win – you can still get a discount on Griffins Tickets and hang out at the free Amway Family Area on the steps of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.  Amway sponsors this area and is also giving away drawstring bags with their products in it free to the first 300 families who arrive after 5:30 PM on New Year’s Eve!

Amway has generously provided a hotel room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, an Amway Bag with products, and Grand Rapids Griffins tickets to one of my readers.  The date of the stay at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is subject to availability. Amway has also provided me with a hotel room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.  All opinions are my own.


New Year’s Eve in Grand Rapids- With Kids!

New Year’s Eve. 

It’s a little different with kids, isn’t it? We want to have fun.  Real fun. One year we were in Arizona, and we went to the Phoenix Zoo for “Early New Year’s Eve”.  It was at 12:00 noon, and other than all of the zoo staff yelling HAPPY NEW YEAR at us, nothing else happened.  The animals were completely unimpressed and frankly, so was I.  I would have expected a little something at least out of the chimpanzees.

If I close my eyes and dream, I come up with a New Year’s Eve that looks like this:

First we, go to a Griffins game. I may have mentioned a time or two that we love Griffins GamesThen, we hang out downtown because on New Year’s Eve Grand Rapids is hoppin’.  Maybe a little too hoppin’ for kids, so we find a kid-friendly space like the Amway Family Area and camp out while we wait for the ball to drop on Rosa Parks Circle.  Then, we stay in A.P.’s single favorite place, “The Fancy Hotel” (also known as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel”).  Sleep, swim, and head home knowing that this year we did it right.

I started working on making this happen. 

I partnered with the Griffins to get a discount on tickets for BigBinder readers.  Here is the Griffins ticketing link.  Using the code “BIGBINDER” you’ll get lower level face off seats for only $14 per ticket (regularly $17), or upper level seats for just $10 per ticket (regularly $13). In addition, the Griffins will donate $2 for every ticket sold through this link to ACCESS Food Pantry (another way to help the Holiday Basket project!)

Save three dollars a ticket and make a donation all at once. Sweet.

I got the details from my friends at Amway and they are sponsoring the Family Area in a prime location – the steps of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. 

That is front row seating for the ball drop in Rosa Parks Circle, my friends!

It’s free, safe, and for the first 300 families it will include an “Amway Blue Bag” full of goodies (my kids are already sporting these from  “Stuff the Bus“). 

And for the Fancy Hotel? Stay tuned – I’m going to tell you how to make that happen soon :) For now, just plan on hanging out with the BigBinder family at the Griffins and the Amway Family Area for an awesome New Year’s Eve celebration!


Things I Love Thursday – Walking Like Egyptians

So.  Monday is the first day of our winter break, and we are blissfully un-busy this year.  My “pretending I’m a homeschooler” tendencies come out in full force during times like this. 

Behold, a Country Day Home School lesson plan.

The Kent District Library will be having an “Experience Egypt”  program starting Monday to celebrate Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicle series first title, The Red Pyramid.

Truth time:  I have no idea who Rick Riordan is or what his Kane Chronicles are.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. 

The part that interests me is this:

Come play games and make crafts related to all things Egyptian as we dress like a pharaoh, make ourselves mummies, and create a pyramid.  For ages 6 and up.

Well, actually Maybelle isn’t quite 6 yet, but she can totally pass. Especially if she’s wrapped up like a mummy, right?

So how are we going to rock this theme? Stick with me; I’ll show you.

We’re going to start things off right.  I read here that Baklava was a popular Egyptian food, and when in Egypt, do like the Greeks do I guess.  Our local Middle Eastern Market sells pieces of Baklava, so we’ll head down this weekend and pick up a few.  We’re also going to try dates, another Egyptian food, because I don’t think my kids have ever had them before.

After our Egyptian Breakfast, we’ll read a book about Egyptians that I checked out at the library:

I also found this video about the Nile that looks cool

Then we’ll have some Koushari for lunch.  I’ll show you all how to make it Sunday on Recipe Roundtable!

Mondays are free at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for Grand Rapids residents, and there is a small “Egypt” exhibit on the third floor, so we’ll head to the museum and check out the mummy. 

After that, we’ll cruise over to the library and enjoy the program that sparked this whole thing in the first place.

From there, we’ll head home and make some Cartouche Cat Bookmarks.  A.P. keeps asking me for bookmarks, and I don’t really use them.  I use business cards, scrap paper, paper clips, recipts… so the kid needs a proper bookmark.  Maybelle loves cats, and they are both all about ‘translation’ so this is kind of the perfeft storm of a craft for us right now.

Then we’ll watch our Redbox movie, The Prince of Egypt.

This program goes through February at different locations, so bookmark this post if you can’t do it this Monday.  Enjoy Walking Like an Egyptian!

  • Monday, December 20, 2:00 PM – Cascade
  • Tuesday, December 28, 2:00 PM – Lowell
  • Wednesday, January 19, 2:00 PM – Plainfield
  • Saturday, January 22, 10:30 AM – Sand Lake
  • Saturday, January 29, 10:30 AM – Alto
  • Thursday, February 10, 4:00 PM – Comstock Park
  • Saturday, February 12, 2:00 PM – Cutlerville
  • Monday, February 14, 2:00 PM – Wyoming
  • Thursday, February 17, 3:30 PM – Caledonia
  • Monday, February 21, 2:00 PM – Grandville
  • Tuesday, February 22, 2:00 PM – Kentwood
  • Thursday, February 24, 6:30 PM – Spencer Township
  • Saturday, February 26, 11:00 AM – Byron Center
  • Monday, February 28, 6:30 PM – Rockford
This is linked to Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries. Also, I am really sorry for making the “Walk Like An Egyptian” song get stuck in your head, ’cause now it will be there all day.

Hey! Psst! I am having a giveaway right now, so if you’re in the market for free movie tickets and cereal, read this!


Budget Boosters: Free Movie Tickets, and a Giveaway!

This is a fun one for you guys! The kids are almost out of school for a couple of weeks, and although we love celebrating it’s always fun to have some down time with my little family.  Going to a movie is always fun, but holy cow it’s expensive.  One movie ticket costs as much as my monthly Netflix membership.

I was pretty excited when I got a nice box from General Mills the other day.  Maybelle tore into it and was thrilled beyond belief that someone had sent us “junk” cereal (this is the affectionate name for the type of cereal we eat once a week, on Monday Mornings, to get our sleepy butts out of bed).  What she didn’t realize was that there was another non ‘junk’ box of cereal in there, AND four vouchers for movie tickets!

And Maybelle’s skirt? I got it here.  (Because I knew you’d ask.)

The nice thing is that on each box of these cereals is a code you enter.  All it takes is two codes and you get another free movie ticket from eMovie Cash.  This is lovely, because usually I can never gather up enough codes or boxtops or labels or whatever before the promotion ends. But two? I can do two.




Even better though – I have another box of cereal AND four movie vouchers to give away!

This time I am just going to ask you to subscribe to BigBinder by email or RSS feed OR ‘like’ me on Facebook.  If you already follow, THANK YOU! Still enter and just answer how you are subscribed currently. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss my next giveaway so just go ahead get yourself all signed up now :)

Entries for this contest are now closed.

I’ll draw the winner Monday, December 20.  There are theaters all over the country that accept these vouchers so anyone may enter. One entry per person please.  Good luck!

I received a package with cereal and movie tickets in it from General Mills.  All opinions are my own.
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