Top 5 Things I’m Obsessed With…

Cathy Hale LululemonI think we all suffer from short-lived or long-lived obsessions. I remember back in the day when I just couldn’t stop watching Real Housewives or eating blueberry muffins or stumbling on StumbleUpon. Yikes! Here are my Top 5 Obsessions going into 2015. Chime in and let me know what’s floating your boat.

#1 – The Food Network – Heaven help me, I can’t stop watching Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and Cutthroat Kitchen. I was also glued to any Holiday Cooking competition too. You’re gonna make cookies, cakes, gingerbread houses, salted porks? I’ll watch it. I am not a foodie. In fact, I’m the opposite of that. (Oh yes, I am loving Worst Chef in America too!)

All of the judges and the amateur and professional chefs just blow my mind. Alton Brown is highly entertaining and admittedly, I do root against Bobby Flay, although he always wins. Will my new passion for watching people cook actually motivate me to cook? Time will tell.

#2 – Lululemon – I know, I know. I’m a few years late to the Lulu party, but I made it. It’s a splurge for me to shop “The Lemon,” so I’m not sporting every outfit they construct. It’s crazy how comfy and cool their workout gear is and now that I’m also obsessed with Pure Barre, (see #3) I have a great reason to wear it 24/7. The wild tank is my favorite top at the moment. I had trouble deciding on a color, so I got them both.

#3 – Pure Barre – All of my friends and family know that Pure Barre will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m recovering from a debilitating L5 herniation which pretty much ruined my physical life.  was down and out — literally — for months coping with tremendous pain that never stopped. There wasn’t a comfortable position or a miracle cure. I opted not to have surgery and waited it out. As soon as the pain lessened enough for me to walk normally, I started working out.

I felt the only workout option I had that would protect my lower back and help me regain my strength was Pure Barre. Pilates was too much pressure on my back and I have no flexibility to do yoga again, which I had done for many years. My Pure Barre Lakeway family means the world to me and they’ve given me back my life. Awwwe, tear.

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Season’s Tweetings: Angry Birds Wreck The Halls

If the oddly amusing sounds of laughing and snorting pigs along with the melodious hum of cawing birds echoes in your ears, you’re no doubt an Angry Birds fan like me. Well, not me, but my boys. Who knew a few furrow-browed birdies could be so darn entertaining?

This ridiculously addictive game has broken all sorts of unbelievable internet records. It recently became the first game in gaming history to be downloaded over 500 million times. In fact, the uber-successful maker of this game, Rovio, has gone on record stating that users “on average log about 5 million hours of Angry Birds play time daily.  More than 266 billion levels of Angry Birds have been played and close to 400 billion birds have been catapulted at the dastardly pigs.”



And just in time for Christmas, a whole new (or “nuther,” as they say in Texas) Angry Birds egg-stravaganza awaits. You can now get a new “Wreck the Halls” edition for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac. For Christmas, Rovio has released an update with 25 new levels and several other added features. The Angry Birds “Wreck the Halls” update can be downloaded in the App Store. I hear you will meet a new Angry Bird and if you’re good enough, possibly King Pig. Gee, I hope he’s wearing a Santa hat.

Rice Krispie Treat Worms: Crafty Critters for Kids

Every so often I need to get crafty. I subscribe to Craft Gossip, so when I need to crack a smile, I always get my fix.  Thanks to Craft Gossip, I found these rice krispie critters on the Disney Family Fun website. Wouldn’t they be a fun addition to a birthday party? They could double as decorative touches & party favors. Perfecto!

Worms are delicious — when they’re our bookworms made from crispy rice and marshmallows. Make a batch for Read Across America Day (March 2), and your child can sink her teeth into a treat while devouring a good book.

• crispy rice cereal treats
• butter
• fruit leather
• plastic wrap
• googly eyes
• pipe cleaner

1. Whip up a batch of crispy rice cereal treats, using your favorite recipe.

2. Using buttery hands, mold the rice mixture into worm shapes (ours are about 5 inches long).

3. Add three strips of fruit leather to each worm, securing the overlapping ends of each strip with a dot of water.

4. Wrap the worms in plastic wrap, then add two googly eyes.

5. Loop a pipe cleaner around the worm’s neck and twist it together at the top. Curl the ends into antennae.

If you haven’t heard about  NEA’s Read Across America program, it’s an amazing initiative to help motivate children and teens to read. NEA’s Read Across America Day, NEA’s national reading celebration takes place each year on or near March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Wouldn’t these worms be a super way to celebrate?


Caulk, Rebates & Power Tools: 9 Tips for Saving on DIY Projects

tips saving money DIY project

Remember when hanging your child’s name in wooden letters became standard procedure in the nursery? I loved them, but was totally appalled at how expensive they were. So, I decided to do them myself.  I pranced my very pregnant self into Hobby Lobby and feeling overly confident in my own new DIY Martha Stewartness, I proceeded to buy a ridiculous amount of stuff. With a basket full of paints, stickers, tiny wooden doodads and thingamajigs, I realized they only had 2 big wooden “E”s and I needed three. It was craft chaos. Long story short,  I finished those letters TWO YEARS LATER. But my real point is isn’t it funny how you think a Do-It-Yourself project will save you money and it ends up costing the same if not more?

Well, drop that Prada screwdriver, you diva! Here are 9 Helpful Tips for Saving on DIY Projects from consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch:

1. Big Box Vs. Small Stores
For the frugal consumer, shopping smart is always a logical first step. When you’re shopping at the big-box home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes, there are always deals going down.

The two heavyweight retailers are highly competitive and both stores offer price matching with an additional 10-percent discount on identical products advertised at a lower price at any competing store. Both stores also post weekly sales, discounts and rebates on their websites so you can be prepared before you hit the store. Not to mention, you can always find for these home and garden giants.

On the other hand, locally owned home-supply stores, like Ace Hardware, often provide email sign-ups that allow you to receive special deals on the same items you would find at the big-box stores. While you may not be able to purchase sheet rock, the smaller places may carry everything from plumbing supplies to finishing notes for your home.

2. Tester Cans and Used Paint
Next to buying a nice area rug, painting is probably the easiest way to change the look of a room. Unfortunately, home improvement stores are aware of this and they like to make you pay for it. There are definitely ways to get around the high prices though.

If you only have a small space to paint, there’s no need to invest in a whole gallon of paint that’ll inevitably take up space in the garage or closet. Ask about small tester cans that can often be found for $5 or less in a variety of colors.

The word is starting to get out on used paint, too. When people order large amounts of custom paint, they often order too much. This paint gets returned to the stores, but the merchant can’t put such cans back on the shelf with the rest of the paint. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might be able to get gallons of paint for around $5. Not all stores will have used paint, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Buy Lumber in Bulk
Working with lumber can be intimidating. It requires precise measurements and cuts, or you’ll end up wasting money and materials. Prices vary by lumber grade and wood type, so be aware of what materials are required to get the job done.

4. Generic Vs. Name Brand
There’s an incredible variety of nails and screws available, but how much of a difference is there really? Generic brand nails and screws are often up to par with the name brands, but cost significantly less. In some cases, the only difference between a generic and the brand name is the box!

The same can be said for pipes and plumbing fixtures. Unpackaged fixtures in a bulk bin can have the same quality as their packaged counterparts on the shelf, but cost much less. Longevity is also something to consider when working on a plumbing project. Copper pipes and PVC pipes typically give you the most bang for your buck, lasting up to 60 years.

5. Caulk Singles
Caulk certainly won’t be the most expensive item on your home improvement list, but it’s useful for patching up holes and sealing cracks. Often when people buy a tube of caulk for a small project, they end up making a mess of it and throwing half the tube away.

If you want to keep some caulk around for projects that spring up, try out some caulk singles from General Electric. Much like the fast food ketchup packet, they’re enough for one project and cut back on waste and mess. Watch for coupons to home centers like the Home Depot that offer General Electric’s caulk singles.

6. Government Rebates
Now that warm weather is finally on the way, you can replace your old windows and doors with more energy efficient ones. While it’s a big project, it may be worth it when you save on heating costs next winter.

In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the federal government is continuing to offer tax credits when you install Energy Star certified windows, doors and skylights. The credits aren’t as generous as last year, but you can still get 10 percent-off for $200 worth of windows and skylights and a rebate of up to $500 for doors.

7. Buy Reconditioned or Rent Power Tools
It’s hard to justify buying an expensive power tool, especially when you know you’ll never use it again. If you live the DIY credo, Home Depot rents such power tools as power washers, paint sprayers, chainsaws and buff sander. By renting, you’ll get the professional finish you want without having to cut corners on expensive equipment.

Many power tool manufacturers have online outlets where they sell reconditioned tools at a discount. These tools are certified by the manufacturer, so you have a guarantee they’ll work. You can save even more when you use a Bosch Outlet coupon or a Bostitch Outlet free shipping code for discount power tools.

8. Used Hand Tools
The garage sale may still be king for finding good deals on hand tools. Many people don’t enjoy inherited tools and are willing to part with them for next to nothing, compared to new tools. Wrench sets, hammers and screwdrivers made by quality toolmakers like Craftsman and Stanley can stand the test of time and are as good today as they were 30 years ago.

9. Working Together
No one escapes a little home maintenance from time to time. If you and a neighbors are working on similar projects, sharing the cost of renting a wood chipper or cement mixer can save both of you time and money.

While skilled friends and family don’t necessarily enjoy manual labor, they can be coaxed into it with the promise of good food, drink or a labor exchange to be named later. Working with friends gets the job done faster and is usually much more fun.

As a media expert source, Andrea Woroch has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. Follow @AndreaWoroch on Twitter to receive daily savings tips!

Image: Getty


Valentine’s Day Project: A Card Box MacGyver-Style

Valentine's Day card box

What happens when it’s 23 degrees outside and my son needs a homemade Valentine’s Day card box? MommyQ resorts to doing a craft project with her MacGyver skills. That’s right, folks! I made this card box with random stuff I found in the house, because I refuse to go out in this ridiculously frigid weather. It’s not perfect, but I’m nice & warm and didn’t have to spend a dime. It took me about 15 to make it and it was so easy!


– Wooden puzzle box
– Wrapping paper
– Decorative tape
– Scotch tape
– Red ribbon
– Yellow craft paint
– Coupon book

I used an old puzzle box that was already painted yellow and blue. I covered the removable sliding  lid with black & white, polka dot wrapping paper. I used tape to adhere the paper to the lid, making sure to pull the tape tight at the ends. I don’t want to paper to start ripping when my son slides the lid open and closed. I found an old red ribbon, which I cut down to fit the box. I remembered my ultra-awesome role of Damask decorative tape from TapeSwell and used that to decorate the box. Wow, decorative tape is the BEST for stuff like this.

DIY Valentine Day Craft for Kids

Keep in mind, this box is for a little boy to take to school, so I didn’t want it to be too girlie. However; I wanted to add something with hearts. My true Richard Dean moment occurred when I saw a coupon book sitting in our pile of mail. I flipped through it and just loved the Dunkin’ Donuts ad for heart-shaped donuts, so I cut out the pictures and used them as my hearts. Nothing says love like donuts, right?

Tell me about your ‘MacGyver’ moments as a mommy!

Lollipop Flowers: Simple Valentine’s Day Craft for Kids

Valentine's Day Crafts

Looking for something fun to do with the kids for Valentine’s Day? I found this adorable craft project on Craft Gossip and just had to share it. The idea, plus a fully detailed tutorial, comes from Crafts by Amanda, which is a wonderfully craftastic blog. I love this project because it’s easy, yet gives your kids the chance the chance to be artistic. The mess factor is minimal and the items are probably in your house at this very moment.

These are Egg Carton Lollipop Flowers! You just need items like cardboard egg cups, acrylic paint, mini muffin pan liners (2-4 per flower), lollipops and tape.

Crafts Egg Carton

By painting the egg cartons, creating petals and then poking a lollipop through the papers, you can make these cute, colorful favors for teachers, friends, classmates and family members. Plus, your kids will have a blast. Tuck this idea away in your mommy brain when you’re trying to think of party favors too.

Egg Carton Crafts

Now go check out Crafts by Amanda (@amandascookin), make a bunch of scrambled eggs to empty those egg cartons and get to it!

Images: CraftsByAmanada

25 Ways to Countdown Christmas: Babble Advent List

The Babble Best Holiday Advent List is live for 2010! You can see 25 different amazing Advents for the holidays, divided into five categories. I was the lucky one who helped pull this list together and let me tell you, it is AWESOME!

Feeling splurgy? Check out the $1 million Advent from Porsche. Looking for an eco-friendly Advent this year? Take a look at all of the beautifully crafted Advents from the most creative Etsy sellers ever! The categories are Luxury, Traditional, Modern, Candy and DIY. You’d better get started because these cute Advents gotta be ready to go on December 1st! Here’s a little taste: