Reviews Nina's online shopping sites; gives family tips and advice. Find parenting help, recipes, where to shop at home for clothing, gifts and household goods.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Times Three

If you have kids, you have birthdays. Lots of them. And they seem to come around before you know it each year! With seven kids I've done my share of parties, from pirate to princess.
One of our birthday traditions with all of our kids were these huge over-sized candles that stand about two feet tall on the table. You burn off the old year and save the remainder for next year's celebration. It takes several hours to burn off a year, the candle is so big. I had one as a child and all my kids did too. It was a real part of making the day special for them (and for me).
I was so thrilled to see the exact same candles are still available!. Our first little granddaughter turns one in just over a month; guess what one of her gifts will be?
And to wear on her special day? A darling 1st Birthday T-shirt

Butterfly I'm 1 Birthday shirt

Butterfly I'm 1 Birthday by kids_birthdays of Union Eight.

Baby Girl It's My 1st Birthday shirt

Baby Girl It's My 1st Birthday by kids_birthdays
Now, why is this blog post titled Happy Birthday Times Three? Because on Nov. 2nd, our twin sons turn 21 this year. And the day after on Nov. 3rd, our daughter turns 18.
I have made SO many birthday cakes in November over the years (did I mention that my husband's birthday is also in November?). I wanted each one to feel special so they all had their own cakes. Here is a great chocolate buttermilk cake recipe:
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake Recipe

4 sqrs Baking Chocolate
1 cup Butter
2 1/4 cups Granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk or sour milk
3 cups Sifted cake flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
5 Large Eggs, separated
1 tsp Vanilla
Oven Temp ~ 350° Baking Time ~ 30 - 35 Min.
Pan Type ~ Three 9 inch round pans
Preheat oven, grease and flour pans.
Melt the baking chocolate over simmering water, and add to the butter and sugar creamed together well. Add buttermilk
and flour which has been sifted with the baking soda, baking
powder, and salt, alternately, then add the well-beaten egg
yolks, and the egg whites, stiffly whipped, and lastly the
vanilla. Pour into prepared cake pans.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scrapbook Supplies For Home Shoppers

I'm a Scrapbook Diva shirt

I'm a Scrapbook Diva by scrapbooking
If you're into scrapbooking you have probably found that it's a lot easier to buy supplies online that it is to go to all those cutesy little scrapbook parties that I'm always getting postcards for. Or maybe you've never looked online for supplies? If not, let me give you some suggestions for great places to purchase scrapbook paper, stickers, cutters, albums, graphics you can run off yourself, stamps and more. You'll soon wonder why you ever bothered loading all the kids into the car for a trip to your local craft store when internet shopping is at your fingertips.
Stop by some of these wonderful sites when it's time to stock up on supplies:
Scrapbooking Supplies R Us
Scrapbooking Warehouse

Stick Figure Scrapbook Queen bag

Stick Figure Scrapbook Queen by

And for graphics to run off at home:
Cheryl Seslar Designs

Did Someone Say Scrapbook shirt

Did Someone Say Scrapbook by

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shopping For Baking Supplies Online

I used to bake a lot when my kids were all at home. Cookies, applesauce and banana cakes, apple crisp, blueberry buckle, homemade bread. You name it and I have probably baked it over the years. I still bake for special occasions and of course around the holidays.
But I never thought about buying specialty baking ingredients online until a friend of mine told me she gets her almond paste that way for a special holiday cookie she likes to bake. Almond paste, online? Yessiree, and it's great paste according to her. The price is reasonable, you get a seven pound can, enough to make lots of almond flavored goodies come Christmas. I'm going to buy a can myself this year and try it out because I'm a big fan of bear claws and Danish tea rings. It just might become a tradition for us too.
Here's the link: Nuts Online Almond Paste. I hope you'll like it as much as she does.

Mom's Bakery T-Shirt shirt

Mom's Bakery T-Shirt by Mom's Bakery Apron apron
Mom's Bakery Apron


Here is the recipe for the applesauce cake I used to make for kids:

APPLESAUCE CAKE (From the 1971 Betty Crocker cookbook)

2 ½ cups Gold Medal Flour* or Softasilk Cake Flour (Do not use Self-Rising Flour in this recipe.)
2 cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
1 ½ cups canned applesauce
½ cup water
½ cup shortening
2 eggs (1/3 to ½ cup)
1 cup raisins
½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or 2 round layer pans, 8 or 9x1 ½ inches. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bow. Blend ½ minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).

Bake oblong 60 to 65 minutes, layers 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Put topping on warm cake:


1/4 cup Soft Butter or Margarine
2/3 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1 Cup Finely Chopped Nuts (I used English Walnuts)
2 Tablespoons Milk

Mix thoroughly butter, brown sugar and nuts. Stir in milk. Spread mixture evenly over warm 13x9-inch cake. Set oven control at broil and/or 550 degrees. Place cake 5 inches from heat and broil about 3 minutes or until topping bubbles and browns slightly. (Watch carefully--mixture burns easily.) Note: it only took a minute and a half in my stove.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Planning For Taxes

I'll admit it, more arguments start in our house over money than anything else. Other than that, my husband and I get along just fine. And the money arguments are more along the lines of my husband's "I hate taxes and I don't want to pay them this time, the government can just wait another week or two" to my "but we have to pay them on time". I keep thinking if we could just plan better, it wouldn't be such a hot issue between us. The money for the taxes would be sitting in the bank ready to go. Did you know you can pay quarterly estimated tax payments electronically and not have to send in a check?
Here is information from the IRS website regarding estimated tax payments:
Topic 355 - Estimated Tax

The federal income tax is a pay–as–you–go tax. This means the tax must be paid on income as it is received. Tax is generally withheld from your wages or salary before you receive it, and may also be withheld from other types of income such as pensions and unemployment compensation if requested. However, tax is generally not withheld from income such as alimony, interest, dividends, rental income, self–employment income, and capital gains. You may be required to pay estimated tax on these types of income. Estimated tax is the method of paying tax on income not subject to withholding and on other income from which not enough tax is withheld. Generally, you do not have to make estimated tax payments if your prior year's tax return will show no tax liability.

Generally, you should make estimated tax payments for the tax year if you will owe more than the amount specified by law, after withholding and credits, and the total amount of tax withheld and your credits will be less than the smaller of:

1. 90% of the tax to be shown on your current year's tax return, or
2. 100% of the tax shown on your prior year's tax return, if your prior year's tax return covered all 12 months of the year. However, if your prior year's adjusted gross income exceeded the amount specified by law for your filing status for the current year, then your tax withheld and credits must total 110% instead of 100% of your prior year's tax.

Refer to Form 1040-ES (PDF) to figure your estimated tax liability for the current year.

Your first estimated tax payment for each year is due April 15th. You may pay the entire year's estimated tax at that time, or you may pay your estimated tax in four payments.

The four payments are due April 15th, June 15th, September 15, of the tax year and January 15, of the following year. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day. You may have to pay a penalty if you do not pay enough tax through withholding or estimated tax payments, or if you fail to make required estimated tax payments by the due dates. Estimated tax payments are used to pay all the taxes on your return, including federal income tax, self–employment tax, and household employment tax. Topic 306 provides additional information on the estimated tax penalty.

Estimated tax requirements are different for farmers and fishermen. Publication 505 , Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, provides more information about these special estimated tax rules and about estimated tax in general. - see for more information on tax payment.

Daddy's Little Tax Deduction shirt

Daddy's Little Tax Deduction


Hand Me Over! shirt

Hand Me Over! by teewitbaby

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What To Buy A Gardener For Christmas

Christmas is coming, and you have a gardener on your list to shop for. But what to buy a gardener in the wintertime? If you lived in Pennsylvania like I do, you probably wouldn't buy garden tools or gardening gloves since he or she wouldn't be using them until spring planting time.
How about a gardening themed t-shirt, then? Your garden lover friend could wear it from the moment she or he opens their Christmas gift, and will enjoy it all year round. Here are some cute gardening t-shirts from Peacock Cards to choose from.

Garden Goddess shirt

Garden Goddess
by gardening

Gardener at Play shirt

Gardener at Play by

Monday, October 6, 2008

Buy Fall Chestnuts Online

Great gift idea:
Buy a fun Christmas mug, fill with chestnuts and a card with these instructions on how to roast them in the oven:

Things You’ll Need:

* Chestnuts
* Salt
* Baking Sheets
* Paring Knives
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Clean off chestnuts.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut an X into one side of each chestnut, or prick chestnuts with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Arrange chestnuts on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan, with the cut or pricked sides up.
Roast in oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until chestnuts are tender and easy to peel.
Peel the nuts when they are cool enough to handle, and enjoy.

Here are some great looking Christmas mugs to fill with chestnuts for gift giving:

Happy Holidays Cat Christmas Mug

Happy Holidays Cat Christmas Mug by christmas_tshirts

Christmas Star Angel Mug mug

Christmas Star Angel Mug by christmas_tshirts

Friday, October 3, 2008

Homewise Shopper Favorite Christmas Shopping Sites

Last week the Homewise Shopper hinted that the time has come to start shopping online for Christmas 2008. For the next few weeks, I will give a weekly "favorite site" award and feature some of my favorite t-shirts and gifts for holiday season 2008. Look for the Christmas gift photo at the top of the blog post and you'll know that you've found my best pick for online holiday shopping for the week.
My first "best Christmas shopping" site award goes to Christmas Mug Gifts, where you'll find the cutest Christmas gifts imaginable. The nice thing about a mug is that almost anyone can use one, and it can be filled with something special to round out the gift.
Here are a few suggestions for what to tuck in a mug before you wrap it up and tie on that ribbon:
^ Starbucks or other coffeehouse gift cards
^ Hot chocolate packets for the kids (or chocoholic on your list)
^ Christmas candies or mints
^ Gift certificates to just about anywhere
^ Don't forget to add a special "love note"!
Find Gingerbread Man mugs, Occupation mugs, and especially Funny Coffee Lover mugs.
Here are some examples:

Candy Cane Gingerbread Men mug

Candy Cane Gingerbread Men


World's Best Vet, Woman mug

World's Best Vet, Woman
So please stop by Christmas Mug Gifts and check out all their great holiday mugs. You're sure to find one for everyone on your list.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Announce Your Pregnancy With A T-shirt

Okay, you've been hoping and planning for a baby to come and join your family. FINALLY, you think the moment is here. You stop and pick up a home pregnancy kit and wait anxiously for the results. Yes! It's true, your little one is on the way. Now how to tell the world? Homewise Shopper recommends using a fun maternity announcement t-shirt. It's an easy way to share your exciting baby-on-the-way news with friends and family. Here are a few cute ones I saw online at Tee Wit Maternity Designs.

Guess What- Pregnancy Test shirt

Guess What- Pregnancy Test


Preggo shirt



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