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During my last visit home my mother handed me this haphazardly filled box of some of my old artwork and collectibles. Not everything fit and it was spilling over the sides of the box. I dropped most of its contents on the way to the car. I was excited to see mementos of my childhood but overwhelmed by sorting through it.

My sad little box.

My sad little box.

This made me think about how to store my kid’s little creations. Now that they are in pre-school they bring home new art projects each week (times 2). I went in search of ways to  organize and store their creations. I wanted something to last through their school years.

Some time ago I found a nifty and thrifty way to display our weekly creations. I fashioned a very simple and inexpensive hanging gallery using twine, 3M Command hooks and clothes pins. All items I already had on hand. This hangs close to our entry way so the girls can clip their art as soon as they walk in the door.

Our gallery line

Our gallery line

Simply apply the Command hooks according to directions and tie the ends of a piece of twine to each. Clip artwork to the line with a clothes pin. You can get as fancy as you’d like by using colored ribbon and colored clothes pins, or just keep it simple and use what you already have.

3M Command Hook

3M Command Hook

Artwork stays in the gallery for about a week (when the next round of art work starts coming in) before I sort through which pieces to keep and which pieces to toss. I am a ruthless chucker. I only keep the pieces that are really special. I’m a sucker for hand prints, projects made for mom and dad and anything that looks like more than practice scribbles. We haven’t had any over sized pieces yet, but I am already planning to toss those (unless my children are prodigies in that case I’ll keep them).

For storage, I purchased two plastic file bins at Walmart for less than $20.00. I re-purposed some file folders I already have and downloaded some free printables I found online. I like the simplicity of someone else doing the work and then downloading to print.

File storage bins

File storage bins

I don’t have enough storage for each child to have their own file bin, so I am doubling up. One bin is marked for preschool through sixth grade. The second bin is marked for seventh grade to twelfth grade. I will drop keepsakes for each child into one file folder and let them sort it out (10-20 years) later. Each folder is pre-labeled with the school year and inside each folder is a cover sheet to include school picture and school info. Since everything is labeled I can just drop keepsakes into appropriate school year and be done.

Pretty little tabs all in a row

Pretty little tabs all in a row

I save myself years of organizing time, and I save my kids the hassle of dragging toppling boxes to the car one day. The whole project took me less than 30 minutes. The most time consuming part is cutting out the labels and putting in the tabs. A project you can do easily in front of the TV.

How do you save your kids artwork? Are you a ruthless purger, or a keepsake queen?

Usually I write about coupons. Not today. Something happened at my house yesterday and you moms need to know about this stuff. I know a lot of our readers out there have younger kids. For those of you with kids in the middle schools, I have something to tell you. I overheard my son last night (he’s 14), talking to a buddy on the phone. He told his friend he was going to try the Cinnamon Challenge.

My son thinks he wants to take a challenge where he attempts to swallow a heaping tablespoon of cinnamon. My first reaction is to tell him it will chemically burn his mouth. My fiance tells him it will cause convulsions (not so sure on that one) and my older son tells me it will cause vomiting. Joy. I looked up some videos on YouTube just to see. They look harmless to start with. Some folks cough it out right away. Lots of folks don’t. The one I saw showed the last person over a toilet bowl very sick.

Needless to say, both jars of cinnamon are in my purse today. My son tells me he is not stupid, so I ask why does he say he wants to do these things. Just to be cool is my guess. His answer was silence and hostility (typical teen behavior). We will be having more and more discussions on what we watch on YouTube and peer pressure.

Have you heard of this? Know anyone who has done it? I would love to hear from you. Until then, the cinnamon at my house lives in my purse. The things we do to keep our kids safe.

I put together one of my coupon trips last night and did pretty well. Between 2 major grocery stores I managed to buy $246.94 of groceries for $112.64.

It took me about 5 hours to put the trips together just to start with so beware, it does take time and effort. I buy at least 2 newspapers a week for the manufacturers coupons they offer. I also print some from 3 major coupon websites. I use, and You can search for the products you want and print only the ones you need.

These coupons can be used in conjunction with the store coupons. This is called “stacking” and is what will help you to get the most bang for your buck. I also used 2 different “loadable” websites. You register your store card, go through the coupons you want, add it to your card and clip nothing. Just add the product to your list and it comes off at the register. One is and the other is The combination of careful planning, some clipping time and a detailed list saved me $134.30.

As for what I bought, everything is stuff my family uses. I don’t buy it just because it is discounted. I got a several jars of spaghetti sauce, 4 feminine products, several boxes of cereal and eggs just to name a few. I also did not clear any shelves and followed the limit guidelines. This saves time and possible issues at the register.

I also must thank the blogger that I follow for all of the great info I get from her or I would never be able to do this. Kudos to for her awesome matchups. Check her out. Like her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.

There are also several other bloggers that I follow. Go to one of my earlier blogs and you will see a list at the bottom of bloggers to check out.

I happened to be on yahoo this morning just before I wrote this and read this nice little piece. Check this link out for some rules and regulations of couponing.

I had the privilege of being invited to a media only event this weekend at Bethel Woods featuring The Family Stone. We were part of an interview with the band members that will be part of an exhibit later. They started out as Sly and the Family Stone and appeared at Woodstock oh so many years ago.

The band members were great. Very down to earth and you can tell they love what they do. The trumpet player, Cynthia Robinson, had a funny story about Sly and some bologna they tried to eat on the way to the ’69 show.  I have some great pics and some video too. Check out this video and see if you remember….

Click here if you want to see the pics.

This video doesn’t exist

I am changing tactics today. This post is about the most amazing litter box I have ever seen. How do I get excited over this you ask? I have four cats. Need I say more? Indoor cats, just to clarify that. I needed something easy and fast as I had recently assigned this fun little chore to my thirteen year old. He hates it, I hate it, we all hate cleaning the litter box. So, my search started. I went to all the local pet stores and found nothing to my liking so it was off to the house and the computer. had just what I was looking for. At $34.99 it is still a bargain considering how easy they have made a dirty, nasty chore. It is called the Omega Paw Self-cleaning Litter Box. I got the big one since we have more than one cat. All you do is put it together and roll. There is a screen of sorts that goes inside to sift the litter and a tray on the top right that you just pull out and dump. Look ma! No hands! There is even a video if you scroll down the page to show you just how it works. Here is the link to watch.

We will most definitely be ordering a couple more of these. Best thing since sliced white bread…

Here are a couple of photos of the inside workings just in case you were curious.


I love Newburgh. I have said it before, and I will continue to say it. It has lots of places to eat and my fiancé and I love to do just that. We really love the little “hole in the wall” type places. So off we went to find one. We ended up at Jimmy’s on Broadway. Nice little eatery tucked in among the stores. We were greeted by the owner himself. My fiancé is a regular there and it was obvious. They chatted with him about the job and his co-workers while they prepared a hot, fresh breakfast for us. Delicious rich, hot coffee was served with my huge stack of pancakes. Johnny ordered one of his faves, eggs with grits and bacon. The whole meal was very reasonably priced and we were full when we left. So hit up Jimmy’s at 285 Broadway in Newburgh for some yummy, reasonably priced grub. Breakfast and lunch only, so go early.

As the new editor at HV Parent, I’d been putting off my “first blog,” waiting for something truly momentous to discuss.  But what am I waiting for?  Momentous does happen, but everyday life is just as fascinating and ‘blog-worthy.’  Like the mail.  Everyday in the mail we get samples of new products for parents.  We “ooh” and “ahh” at a new bag for babies, or cutesy cook books; projects that light up or a miniature greenhouse for kids to start their own tomato plant, and the like. 

Today we spent a lot of time debating the pros and cons of a new “go green” lunchbox for kids.  Was it too elaborate for the age?  Yet, it created a lot less trash.  It kept foods superfresh, but maybe it was tough to open.  It eliminated a lot of extra packaging like snack bags.  The price?  $32 or so.  Interesting concept. It’s definitely the way the world is headed.  Send us what you put in your kid’s lunch box.  And maybe you’ll win our sample of the “go green” lunchbox.  (P.S.  The cover features racing cars, just so you know.) 

And so, that’s first blog.  Is it momentous? Dunno…but it’s the first of many, and I’d like to keep the conversations flowing.  Write me at, and tell me your ideas and comments.  Thanks for being a HV Parent reader.  TTYL, mj

I recently saw this game on a newsletter I receive, The Daily Grommet, and had to have it. I contacted the PR department and pretty soon I was in possession of my very own game called Jishaku.

It is a game unlike any other. The goal is to get all of your pieces on the board first. The issue is this: the pieces are very strong magnets. They kind of look like rocks and are actually called “stones” in the game. The board is an enclosed eggcrate (like the one that goes on your bed) with 22 – 23 “wells” or spaces to put your stone.

The game is easier said than done. Once you get a few magnets on the board they seem to develop a mind of their own. They jump around and they also jump up unexpectedly and attach to each other. When it does that, you have to pick up all of the magnets that stuck together and put them in your hand…(sigh). My son beat me repeatedly I must admit. He seemed to get the hang of how they behaved. Me, I just kept picking them up… The whole family tried it out and we had a great time laughing at each other as the stones came flying up off the board and into our hands.

I say, pick up Jishaku. It will give the family lots of fun and laughs.

Jishaku is recommended for kids 14+ and retails for around $19.95. It can be found on the web.  It is also sold at Barnes & Noble.

Hudson Valley Children’s book illustrator publishes first novel and it’s a Halloween Treat!  Local book signings in Poughkeepsie, Middletown & Wappingers Falls.

Bob Berry, illustrator of scores of children’s  book featuring such characters as Elmo,  Dora the Explorer and Disney Princess has written and published his first novel, ” A Haunting at Richelieu High:  A Penny Dreadful Investigation”.

 KC could never resist a good mystery—and new student Penelope Dredalus was exactly just that. Quiet and very serious, she had a secretive air about her. Luckily she was in most of KC’s classes, which made getting the dirt on her a whole lot easier. During lunch, KC and her friend Air observed Penelope while she was taking on the cell phone when suddenly, sparks appeared and it exploded. A day after that incident Read the rest of this entry »

UPS guy Orlando arrives at our Newburgh headquarters bearing gifts every day–books, dvds, toys, baby slings, home decor, and more. Last night I took home an Ocean Wonders Jumperoo  from Fisher-Price. It qualifies as Mack’s second review assignment. (The first was the Spa Baby Eco Tub. It’s not much more than an oversized plastic bucket, but unlike his regular reclining baby tub, it did bring a big smile to his face. One tip–beware water displacement. When baby decides to sit, he can end up under water!)

Drool-worthy configuration of plastic and metal
Assembly was easy enough, and required no tools until the batteries were installed. All baby products with batteries have the compartment screwed shut, in case some of you didn’t know. The Jumperoo was a big hit, with my partner reporting high drool levels and much focussed attention on the various doodads.

Plastic Footprint
Although I love seeing him happy, I do get discouraged about so much plastic and metal being used for just a short time–once baby is 25 pounds or can climb out or touch the ground, he’s no longer eligible. At the rate Mack is going, he could be out of this thing in a month. Coincidentally, I came across an interesting site yesterday, Swap Mommas, that proposes to help with this problem. I know there is also the free section of craigslist but does anyone know of a similar local exchange just for baby stuff?

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