Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!

Well, I guess I'm jumping right back into my laissez-faire, capitalist-pig ways today, but it's for a good reason--really! is offering Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, a four-DVD set, for $4.99 plus $5 shipping. If you're not familiar with Ms. Duvall's children's productions--we're not talking The Shining here, folks--you're missing out. Her Faerie Tale Theater series brought hours of entertainment/inspiration to a couple of little Murches back in the oh-so-awesome 80's. I'm not personally familiar with the Bedtime Stories series, but according one major online retailer (where this set sells for $17.99 + s/h):

"Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories features all 26 of the original animated adaptations narrated by legendary musicians and Hollywood mega-stars. Celebrities bring beloved characters to life! Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories first aired in 1992 to rave reviews and went on to earn an Emmy Award nomination. Self-professed childhood dreamer and award-winning actress Shelley Duvall produced the series and asked 24 celebrity friends to narrate it. Featuring the voices of Bette Midler, Rick Moranis, Bonnie Raitt, Jean Stapleton, Dudley Moore, John Candy, Christian Slater, Martin Short, James Earl Jones, Billy Crystal, Candice Bergen, Michael J. Fox, Steve Martin, Richard Dreyfuss, Charles Grodin, Shelley Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Rhea Perlman, Shelley Long, Sissy Spacek, Morgan Freeman, Angela Lansbury, Kathy Bates, Ed Begley Jr., and Ringo Starr. Revisit stories from your favorite authors! From There's a Nightmare in My Closet to Elbert's Bad Word, Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories features animated adaptations of tales written by some of the most beloved children's authors of all time, including Virginia Lee Burton, Tomie de Paola, Hardie Gramatky, Mercer Mayer, Marilyn Sadler and Audrey Wood."

So if you'd like to introduce your kiddos to the gone-too-soon likes of Dudley Moore and John Candy, as well as as the amazing talents of James Earl Jones, Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury, Morgan Freeman, Kathy Bates and Ringo Starr (?!?), click on over to

And remember, there's only 25 more days until Christmas, 12 days until Hanukkah, 22 days until the December Solstice and 26 days until Kwanzaa!

Behold the 80's Awesomeness!

Ah, there it is! The holy grail of Christmas gifts, the Red Ryder 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. -Ralphie Parker (Jean Shepherd)

The Christmas shopping season is officially upon us and though I've been filling the "pages" of this blog with one sale post after another lately, today I'm going to refrain. I figure that if you're on the lookout for can't-miss deals, this is the one day you'll be able to find them without any difficulty or any additional guidance.

So if you're out and about this Black Friday (anyone else ready to boycott that term for life?), I wish you good luck, Godspeed and successful hunting. And if you're like me, sitting in front of your computer at lunchtime, still cozy in your jammies, I beseech you to avoid overdoing it with the Thanksgiving leftovers (as I did about 15 minutes ago) and make the most of your long weekend. But whether you're shopping or shunning the crowds today, may this be the start of a wonderful, respectful and joyous holiday season for you, your family and friends!

Gobble, gobble!

Hey, do us both a favor, don't get mad, huh?

If there's a kiddo in your life (or an adult-o, for that matter) who needs a constructive way to vent their frustrations, I may have found the ideal forum for doing so... the Incredible Hulk Smash Board Game! According to the manufacturer's description:

"It's dashin' smashin' outRAGEous fun! Get ready for a wild race through the streets of New York City! Make your own vehicles, then roll the dice to race them along the path. Stop your opponents by drawing cards that let you smash their vehicle flat! Keep making them, racing them and smashing them until somebody makes it out of the city to win!"

I feel like I've already won just by reading that,don't you?!? If my parents had known about this game when I was a kid, my brother could have smashed playdough game pieces when he lost, rather than putting on a sore-loser show that rivaled John McEnroe's greatest tantrums (sorry, Dave, but you know it's true).

Anyway, if you're interested, has the Incredible Hulk Smash Board Game on sale for only $7.99 plus $5 shipping today--it retails on Amazon for $23.99 plus S&H, so this is a pretty darn good deal. But go now, 'cause once their inventory is gone, so is all the smashing fun.

And if he was standing in front of me right now, he'd be giving me that exact same look. :-)
Circa 1987-ish?

Aspiring to a small business that does what it does very well is a noble pursuit. -Narenda Rocherolle

So I'm sure it must seem like I'm getting kickbacks or payola from the various deal-a-day Web sites I've posted about this week, but with the holidays looming nearer by the minute (well that's certainly not the Christmas spirit, Erin!), I thought sharing good deals on super-cute baby bits would be beneficial for everyone involved. I will return to non-retail postings soon, but if I find something my kiddos and your kiddos can't live without, I'm going to let you know about it! Case in point... 

A couple of weekends ago, my mom, the girls and I went to the 29th-Annual Loveland High School Art & Craft Expo in an effort to escape Dad and Pat's lamp-repair shenanigans. It was an amazingly organized, well-thought-out event and we found some wonderful items for our friends and family alike--Ella even received some homemade dog biscuits that were made/sold by a local Girl Scout troop. Go Girl Scouts!

Out of more than 200 artists and crafters, there were two vendors that really stood out to us and I wanted to tell you about them in case their wares might make ideal holiday gifts for someone on your list. First was Weber Farms of Verona, Kentucky. A small family-run farm, the Webers grow produce, raise goats and other animals, keep bees, and produce some amazing natural skin care products. We'd never heard of Weber Farms or their lotions/soaps/balms/butters/etc., but the line at their booth was a pretty good indication that they were offering products worth taking a look at.

Suffering from a wicked case of cracked knuckles brought on by the change of the season (and about three loads of laundry every day), I asked Mrs. Weber what she'd recommend for my beyond-dish-pan-hands. She quickly placed one of their lotion bars in my hands and within a matter of minutes, my knuckles stopped throbbing and lost their oh-so-sexy sandpaper texture. So sad, I know! ;-) Needless to say, I picked up a couple of the bars, as well as some of their all-natural baby wash, a few cakes of their goat's milk soap and a brochure so I could reorder as necessary. And though you'd think I must have broken the bank to afford so many natural, handmade goodies, I didn't even reach the $25 mark. Take that, Whole Foods! If nothing else came from our visit to the LHS Expo, I am beyond thrilled to have found such a gem of a product/vendor and to have the opportunity to support such an amazing way of life. To explore the Weber family's complete product line, be sure to visit their online store.

The other booth we fell in love with was of a different ilk than the Webers', but it also offered some absolutely wonderful handmade items. According to their Etsy profile, Bloom~N~Bows is a two-woman operation (based just down the road from us) dedicated to creating personalized gifts and apparel for infants, toddlers and adults.Of course, what really caught our attention were their ADORABLE tutu ensembles and one of my all-time-favorite baby bits, fancy fanny bloomers! These extremely talented ladies have created an amazing line of custom-made, personalized gifts/apparel that is as extensive as it is darling. Plus, being a small-business-owning mom myself, I jump at the chance to support other women who are setting their own course in the professional world. So, if you'd like to take a look at what Bloom~N~Bows has to offer, click on over to their Etsy store.

All-in-all, our trip to the LHS Expo was a very worthwhile endeavor. If you're a tri-stater, I'd definitely recommend your own outing next year--if nothing else, go for the fresh-made kettle corn! Plus, by the time we got home from our excursion, the dodgy lamp was fixed and the boys were ready to take their beautiful girls--all four of us--out to lunch! Not a bad day by any stretch!

I guess that's all I've got for today. I hope the final hours of your weekend are full of fun and sunshine--and if sunshine isn't an option, may they be even more chock-full of fun!

These aren't the Weber's goats, but hey, when you've got pictures
of your kids with goats (no pun intended), you go with it! :-)

Oh yeah, don't forget that there's only 33 days 'til Christmas, 19 days 'til Hanukkah, 34 days 'til Kwanzaa and 29 days 'til the Winter Solstice!

It's better to have loved and lost than to have to do 40 pounds of laundry a week. -Laurence J. Peter

As I've mentioned before, we're big fans of BabyLegs here at Peanut Central, and today might the perfect opportunity to try out our laundry-lady-approved arm-warmer meal method. has a 5-for-$25 deal on BabyLegs NotSox this afternoon, and, even better, they ship for free! Not since my last visit to Victoria's Secret has 5-for-$25 looked so good! My stain-removal struggles would be exponentially worse if it weren't for these cute little blasts from our 80's pasts, so give 'em a try!

Happy Friday!

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable. -Samuel Johnson

Here's another gift idea I thought I'd pass is offering That Baby CD-DVD sets for $17.45 + $4.25 shipping today. A collection of kid-friendly acoustic covers of songs written by artists like Fleetwood Mac, Natalie Merchant, Paul Simon, The Pretenders and The Beatles, it sounds (no pun intended) like this is a catalog of tunes that kiddos and parents can really enjoy together--which is music to my Baby Einstein-weary ears! :-)

They've posted soundbites of some of the songs, so you can sample before you buy. If you're interested, head over to the site now, 'cause once they're out of inventory, that'll be it!

The Girls and Great Grandma enjoying an impromptu drum session this past October.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. -Dr. Seuss

Does your peanut need a good pair of shoes--or two? has a huge variety of Vincent shoes on sale today--lots of styles, colors and sizes. And the best part is, at $18.50 (plus shipping), they're 63% off the retail list price.

Take a look, you may just find a Christmas present--or two--for your favorite little elf! :-)

Oh, and don't forget, there's only 37 days 'til Christmas, 24 days 'til Hanukkah and 38 days 'til Kwanzaa!

Anyone need a Christmas gift for a Nickelodeon fan/photographer?

One of my favorite daily deal sites, Kids.Woot has Spongebob & Dora the Explorer Digital Photo Frames on sale for $24.99 shipped. The sale is only for today and lasts as long as their inventory does, so if you think a kiddo you know would like one of these, you'd better get going!
Happy Monday! Oh, and remember, there's only 38 days left 'til Christmas, 26 days left 'til Hanukkah and 40 days left 'til Kwanzaa!

Oh Randy, don't play with your food--EAT IT!

At what stage in our human development do we decide, "Hey, smearing Cream of Wheat all over my face feels gross. I don't think I'll do it anymore."? It is my most sincere hope that it comes at 19-months-and-one-week, because the current slimy, caked-on nature of mealtime around these parts is really starting to get to me.

I've known for a long time that toddlers are messy eaters--what would paper towel commercials be without the obligatory 2-year-old covered in spaghetti? But the magnitude and utter completeness of my daughters' mealtime mess-making is more than I could have ever imagined. Food-encrusted bibs, hair, faces and highchair trays, multiplied by two, multiplied again by three meals a day has made the simple act of feeding my children something I dread more than de-hairing the bathroom drains.Sorry, I know that's disgusting, but I really wanted to drive home my lack of dinnertime joy.

However, dear readers, do not fret. All is not doom and gloom and squished peas around the Hooper dining room table! I've happily stumbled upon two tricks that have greatly improved the amount of post-repast clean up I'm faced with every day and I wanted to share them with you in an attempt to benefit your laundry load. Neither are high-tech, but they sure have made a difference for us, so here they are:

First, receiving blankets. Our very wonderful and very generous friends and family gifted us with a multitude of beautiful receiving blankets when the girls were born and boy did we put them to good use swaddling the dickens out of those peanuts! And though swaddling remained part of our routine until the girls were about 7-months-old (Happiest Baby on the Block rules!), most of the blankets proved too small for burrito-ing by Evie & Camie's 3-month mark. So I was left with a basket-full of lovely receiving blankets and not many applications for which to use them. Consequently, the basket was deposited in the dining room to get it out of the way, and there it sat until, following a particularly messy lunch one day, I decided it would be easier to wash a blanket thrown over the highchair than the highchair cover itself. Duh!

If you have to employ your highchair's straps to keep your kiddo in place while they eat, then this trick probably won't work for you, but if the highchair tray does a good job of containing your little one safely, then simply throw a receiving blanket over the chair before your next mealtime. When dinner is done, just yank off the blanket (unless it's covered in discarded cheerios and macaroni and cheese--in that case you should avoid all snatching motions and go for a more fold-up-and-shake-over-the-sink action) and throw it in the wash. And as the illustrious Velvet Jones once said, "It's as simple as that!".

The second trick I have to share arose from a severe case of buyer's remorse. I'm pretty utilitarian these days when it comes to shopping. That hasn't always been the case--a fact my college roommates and my former credit card debt can readily attest to--but nowadays, I pretty much stick to the grocery store, PetSmart and Walgreen's. Unless, that is, we're talking about shopping for the girls. When it comes to them, my retail switch has no "Off" position. If it's cute, they need it. If it's cute AND on sale, then they really, really need it and Mommy has a hard time telling herself to put the credit card away.

One such cuteness-inspired purchase was the acquisition of a few pairs of BabyLegs-- super-adorable baby-sized leg warmers that I knew the girls couldn't live without. Unfortunately, I had a hard time figuring out the right opportunity to dress the Peanuts in said leg warmers. In the summer, when they were learning to crawl and their little knees could have used some protection from our hardwood floors, it was too hot to add another layer to their chubby little gams. In the winter, when extra warmth was a plus, we already had them so bundled up that gaining access to their legs was a feat we only attempted when adverse diaper conditions required it. So there I was, with these must-have baby accessories that my babies must not have needed. Shopping Fail!

But once again, after a meal debacle that involved avocados and a complete toddler strip-down, inspiration struck and I found the perfect application for our BabyLegs--sleeve covers! Much like the highchair blanket covers, I realized that removing the cheese/cereal/sweet potato-stained "arm warmers" at the end of a meal was far superior to removing cheese/cereal/sweet potato-stained clothes that were ultimately more expensive to replace and much harder to launder. So now, our pre-meal ritual includes washing hands, putting on bibs and applying sleeve protection--and happily, our post-meal ritual no longer involves a compulsory undressing! :-)

Well, that's all I've got for today.Two dining solutions down, only 1,476,389 to go! I hope these tricks work for you--if you have your own techniques that help cut down on mealtime mess, please feel free to share with the rest of us! Knowledge is power--especially when dealing with the wiley ways of the infant set!

Now, if I could just figure out what the heck to make them for lunch today...

Pretty is as pretty does

No new ramblings today I'm afraid--but hey, doesn't this new layout look cool? I'm sure The Peanuts would approve, if they had the ability to say "I approve," that is.

I am, however, happy to provide some random cuteness for your Wednesday!

Where a new invention promises to be useful, it ought to be tried -Thomas Jefferson

Depending on who you ask, it appears that big human beings have been making little human beings for at least 160,000 years--though some physical anthropologists (whose brains are obviously much bigger than mine) would argue that it's closer to 265,000 years. Regardless of which school of thought you follow--and I'm sure you've chosen one, I mean, what else is there to do on cold Saturday evenings in February?--my assumption is that throughout those many millennia, parents the world over have dealt with the same frustrations. Whether you're talking spit up, dirty diapers, runny noses, flung food, stained clothes or broken toys, human procreators from the Stone Age to the Information Age share an amazing breadth of common parenting aggravations. So why, I ask, haven't we used our highly complex brains to invent solutions to some of these annoyances?
** Please note - I have already conceded that my brain falls on the smaller side of the spectrum, so when I say "Why haven't we invented...," I'm speaking in a strictly "Royal we/Majestic plural" sense.**

Obviously, there's no answer to the dirty diaper issue--poo is a simple fact of life. But why on earth hasn't someone developed a diaper pail deodorizer that actually DE-ODOR-IZES, rather than chemically binding the stink you're trying to avoid with the essence of fresh linen/apple berry/ginger breeze, thereby creating a semi-toxic cloud of "dirty-linen-berry-diaper-breeze" that can only be dispersed via exorcism or through ritual poultry sacrifice?

And what is the organo-enzyme composition of spit up that gives it instant, permanent staining power and the ability to reappear on seemingly spot-free clothes months after they were first yacked upon? Procter & Gamble, Unilever, SC Johnson, Method--I'm talking to you! None of you have an answer to the problem of spit up stains?!?!? For shame, for shame! A pox on your bright-white, blotch-free houses!

What about dried milk splatters, mildewed bibs, food-smeared highchair trays, algaenated baby pools, Cheerio-encrusted car seats and overfilled diaper bags? Suffice it to say, my "Why haven't they invented a fix for that" list goes on and on and on. Seriously--I could type all day, folks.

It comes down to this--if we can make Snuggies for our dogs, decode the genome of the duck-billed platypus and create prescriptions that enable the eyelash-less to become eyelash-tastic, why can't we create a simple infrared/GPS/RFID system that locates the milk-filled sippy cups my toddlers insist on hiding in their toy chest and/or pushing under the couch before said cups have a chance to become individual colonies of bleu cheese? I mean, really, it can't be that hard!



Starting to think I might benefit from some mental stimulation beyond the walls of our cute little yellow Cape Cod. Can anyone recommend a good Mommy-and-Me group... or a skilled psychotherapist, perhaps? :-)

Well paint me yellow and call me sunshine! It's another great sale!

Much like the SleepSacks I posted yesterday, Robeez baby shoes are one of our absolute favorite "baby bits." They may in fact be my #1 favorite piece of baby gear, as they are the only shoes I've ever been able to keep on the girls' feet (plus they're so stinkin' cute!). But when you're buying two pairs at a time, the costs can add up quickly. That's why I've always got my eye out for Robeez sales, and today, Angie at posted this is taking up to 40% off select boots, Soft Soles and more.

There are some really cute shoes available, and as always, you get free shipping if you purchase two pairs or more. So take a look and see if there's anything there that your kiddo can't live without:

However, if Robeez's sale prices are still a little steep for you, consider Bobux or Ministar shoes. The girls have worn all three brands and with the exception of some differences in washability, we've found them all to be great footwear options.

So happy shopping and if I don't "talk" to you again, have a great weekend!

Holy cow! What a deal!

Not that you necessarily care, but the plan I've concocted in my schedule-happy brain is to post to Tricky Peanut on a M-W-F and sometimes Weekends basis. But, when an opportunity like this comes along, I have no choice but to throw caution to the wind and *gasp* post on a Thursday!

SleepSacks rank on our Top 5 Baby Bits list, so when I saw Kids.Woot offering them for $2.99 + $5.00 shipping, my heart skipped a beat! So run, do not walk, to and get to ordering! The best price I found on SleepSacks last year was $12, so $8 shipped is a fantastic deal--I'm sure they'll go fast! If only they had these in adult sizes (the Snuggie just isn't my style). Happy Sacking!

P.S. - Sorry for all the exclamation points, but I'm just so excited!!!!!!!!!

Pattycake, pattycake, baker's wo-man?

For most of my culinary life, I've considered myself to be a non-baker. Though the kitchen is one of my favorite places to be, I've never been able to channel my inner Betty Crocker. Sure, I make the obligatory birthday cakes throughout the year and plenty of cookies at Christmas time, but otherwise I find baking to be overly complicated, extremely touchy (have you ever forgotten to add the baking soda to a batch of brownies?) and generally more of a hassle than it's worth.

I'm not sure why I've adopted this attitude, as my mom and grandma are/were skilled, prolific bakers--so much so that I've always felt I'm somehow letting them down by preferring roasting and sauteing to crimping and folding. But since the girls started eating solid food last fall, I've slowly started incorporating more baking into my repertoire. S-l-o-w-l-y.

It's not that I've decided to become June Cleaver, welcoming Ward, Wally and The Beav home each day with a freshly baked Bundt cake. But the quest to find snackish foods that don't come with a six-inch-long ingredient list made me realize that I'd rather make the Fig Newtons myself than buy them off the shelf. That's right, I made Fig Newtons. Once. And I'm pretty sure I'll never do it again. I have, however, found a few recipes that are pretty easy to make, use relatively standard ingredients and, best of all, the girls scarf these goodies down like a couple of squirrels preparing for winter.

So, I thought I'd share these gems with you today. I don't have any nutritional information for these recipes, so I can't prove that they meet state and federal guidelines for being deemed "healthy," but the fact that they don't contain any exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, calcium propionate or potassium sorbate must put them ahead of the store-bought competition. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites, I hope you and your kiddos enjoy them as much as we do!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:
I found that the 3/4 tsp of salt this recipe calls for made the cookies a bit too salty for my taste, so I reduced it to 1/2 tsp and added the recipe to my all-time-favorites list. Also, if you don't like the idea of giving your little ones chocolate, you can certainly replace the chocolate chips with raisins and still end up with a very yummy cookie!

Homemade Wheat Bread:
I know, making bread seems really hard-core, but I happened to marry a man who came with his own bread machine--an unexpected perk for sure--so all I have to do is put in the ingredients, press the "wheat bread" button and let the machine do the work. But even if you don't have a bread machine, Tammy (she's the maestro of this recipe) breaks bread-making down into easy-to-follow steps that make the process much less intimidating. Really, give it a try!

Oh, and one other thing--I have absolutely fallen in love with King Arthur Flour's Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour. It has almost as much dietary fiber as traditional whole wheat flour (which seems to be the key to all things blissful and happy these days), with a flavor and texture that's pretty close to all-purpose flour. If you see it at your local grocery, be sure to pick some up. And no, I don't have a representative of King Arthur Flour standing behind me wielding a rolling pin, poised and ready to strike. I just really like their flour! :-)

I hope my new foray into the world of baking does my Richner/Terrill roots proud, but if nothing else comes from it than The Peanuts eagerly awaiting their after-nap snacks, then that's enough for me. Happy baking!

P.S. - If you really want to experience some serious baking, which I've decided I do not, here's the recipe for the aforementioned Fig Newtons. They were really yummy, but anything that requires folding dough over filling without getting fig goo all over yourself and the kitchen is waaaaaay too complicated for me. Good luck!

Homemade Fig Bars

Oh, so they have Internet on computers now! -Homer Simpson

I am a full-blown Internet addict. Really. I should be in some kind of 12-step/rehab/recovery/treatment program where they lock you in an isolation chamber with nothing but books, needlepoint and a dart board until you no longer have the urge to type anything ending in ".com" and your first instinct is to pull out a phone book when you need a phone number, or a map when heading somewhere you've never been before.

Yeah, I should be in some kind of program, but I'm not. So instead of trying to take my dependency in hand and de-Yahoo!/facebook/ebay my life, I thought I'd put together a list of my favorite "mommy sites" to share with my fellow hot mamas! That's constructive, right?

These are resources I've turned to time and time again since I first googled "pregnancy symptoms" back in August of 2007. These sites address a variety of topics, from deal-of-the-day baby products, to homemade baby food, to the experiences of other mommies out there. You may find one or two that are helpful, or you may just wonder why I would waste my time on such drivel. Either way, I hope I'm not fueling anyone else's addiction. Maybe my next search should be for Netaholics Anonymous? But first, I need to find the best deal on frozen organic peas before I do anything else today. :-)

Baby Info Sites:

Shopping/Product Reference Sites:

Recipe/Feeding Sites

DISCLAIMER: Just to head off any visits from Hamilton County Children's Services, I want to make it clear that I only indulge my Internet obsession when The Peanuts are asleep. Please note the time stamp on this post falls smack-dab into the middle of Evie and Camie's nap time. :-)

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