Posts Tagged ‘Frugal’

Fun with Fingerpaints

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

 Fingerpaints never get old in our house.  With the purchase of some very inexpensive art smocks from Ikea, it’s easier than ever to clean up!

 My little Picasso!

 Both of my kids just LOVE squishing their hands around in the paint.  Evelyn still wants to eat everything – thank goodness for non-toxic Crayola products.

 I keep a big pack of baby wipes on hand and a rag to clean as we go.  I found out that the paint glides on fingerpaint paper and that excess paint can be wiped up with a wet wipe.  This came in handy when Evelyn had a big paint puddle that she kept smacking and splashing everywhere.

 

 

Look at that face!  It’s hard to believe that something so simple can cause so much happiness.  It makes me want to roll up my own sleeves and squish away!

Daddy’s Helper – Raking Leaves

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

I love it!  My two men working hard out back.  Oliver likes helping out, especially when it involves his daddy, the outdoors, and a shovel.

Kids want to feel useful and contribute to their families.  If you give them the “tools” to succeed, it’s amazing what they will accomplish.  In this case, we gave Oliver a real short-handled shovel and a milk crate to fill with leaves.

He worked hard, until his face was red and his nose was runny, and he filled his milk crate to the brim.  He was so proud.

He was busy for a long time and enjoyed himself.  Even better, it didn’t cost anything for all this fun and the yard got cleaned up!

Fun Blowing Bubbles

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

 Can’t figure out what to do with the kids on a Saturday afternoon?  Grab a 99 cent bottle of bubbles and head outside for over an hour of fun!

 Evelyn was pretty good blowing bubbles when she wasn’t trying to eat the wand.

 Oliver had so much fun chasing the bubbles down.  When the wind took them over the fence he would wave, “Buh bye bubba.”

 

The first few bubbles he blew with his eyes open, until they popped in his face.

Evelyn is such a ham!  She had a blast watching her brother run his little legs off.  We spent a good hour and a half with the little ones, blowing bubbles and running around.  Great way to spend a day.

The hubby thinks we can make our own formula and use string to make gigantic bubbles.  I can’t wait to see how that works!

Easy Crown Craft for Kids

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone!  In honor of Mardi Gras, one of my favorite “holidays”, we made crowns for the kids.

You need one cereal box, some construction paper, glue, and decorating supplies (ie. crayons, markers, etc…).   Slip the box over your kid’s head to see how it will fit.  If it is too big or too small you can adjust it later on, but make a note of it now.

 

Remove the box from their head and flatten it out.  Cut the box in half, across the middle, so you end up with 2 headbands.

With the box flattened out, draw a crown design and cut out with a pair of scissors.  You will be cutting through 2 layers of cardboard at once.  Using a glue stick, paste construction paper over the crown and trim to the design. 

Note: If you need a smaller crown, cut your crown at a seam and remove excess cardboard.  Tape the new seam together and then proceed to cover with paper.  If you need a bigger crown, cut your crown at the seam and add cardboard for the size you need.  Tape the seams well and then cover with glue and paper.

I let the kids decorate their own crowns.  I helped Evelyn paste some jewels on, but she did all the artwork herself.

Oliver is mighty handy with a glue stick.  He makes his crafty mama so proud!  He pasted on a variety of green and purple “jewels”.  I then outlined the jewels with a black crayon so they would PoP.

And may I present King Oliver and Queen Evelyn of the Krewe of Norton to preside over the festivities in our house.  True to Mardi Gras colors, we have gold in the crowns and jems of purple and green.  Bring on the beads!

Learning the Alphabet with Sidewalk Chalk

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

For 99 cents, I bought the kiddos a box of sidewalk chalk.  The chalk worked great on our patio, but even better on our wood fence!

 Oliver has been learning his ABC’s and 123’s.  He loved having it up on the fence to reference.  Every time he goes outside he spends time at the fence going over his letters and numbers.  I wrote his name farther down the fence and he can now spell his name from memory.

Evelyn didn’t have as much fun though.  She thought the green one tasted a bit “chalky”… :-)

Easy Valentine’s Wreath for Kids to Make

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

While clipping coupons last Sunday, I noticed quite a bit of red in the ads and flyers. Inspired by all the Valentine’s Day images (flowers, candy, hearts, bears, jewelry, etc…) I came up with an idea to make collage wreaths with the kids.

I cut out images that reminded me of Valentine’s Day, as well as any red space – ads, flyers, paper – to use as the base layer on our wreath.  Macy’s had tons of red paper in their sales ad and JCP had great large photos of jewelry that we used for accent pieces.

The hubby cut out a heart frame from a cardboard box and I spread on some white glue for Oliver.  We started with the big pieces of red paper as a base.  We then layered on the photos from largest to smallest to fill in the gaps.

We had started with glue sticks, but those took too long and we didn’t get the adhesion that we wanted for a mass of little photos.  Instead, I poured some white glue into a bowl and used a spoon to drip, dab, and smear glue everywhere.  Things went much faster after that!

Oliver did such a good job (with a little help from mom).  The wreath turned out great and cost pennies.  We already had the advertisements, a cardboard box, and glue.

Evelyn even had a chance to be creative (with a lot of help from mom).  We spread some glue on the heart that we cut out of the center of the big wreath and let her have at it.  I think she got more glue in her hair than on the heart, but she enjoyed herself!

Potato Stamps for Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I’ve read about using potatoes as simple stamps and decided to give it a try for Valentine’s day.  I chose a small potato that would fit in Oliver’s hand easily and cut it in half.  I drew a heart on the potato and used a knife to remove the potato on the outside of my heart shape.

It was hard to get a crisp line around the heart, so I used a spoon to scrape the edges clean.

I put some fingerpaint on a plate and let Oliver stamp away.

 

The hearts have a rustic homemade feel.  Perfect for wrapping little presents or for making a Valentine for Daddy.

The potato also turned into a great paint brush and hand painter once the novelty of stamping wore off.

Oliver rates this craft a five out of five fingers!

Super Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

A few Thanksgivings ago, I thought I would be Miss Fancy Pants and make my own cranberry sauce to wow my guests.  Turns out, it was so easy and delicious that I will never go back to canned sauce again!

For simple Cranberry Sauce you need:

1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 Cup of sugar
3/4 Cup of water

Wash the cranberries in some cold water and discard any bad ones that you see.

I like dumping my cranberries onto a cookie sheet and running my hands over them.  The bad ones are much easier to spot this way.

Throw the cranberries, sugar, and water into a saucepan, stir to combine and bring to a boil.  After it boils, reduce heat so it simmers.

 

 

 

After a few minutes, the cranberries will start to pop releasing its pectin into the mix.  Pectin is a natural gelling agent and as the sauce cools it will thicken.  Stir your sauce every few minutes.

After 10 minutes, most of the cranberries have popped.

After 15 minutes, you can remove the sauce from the heat and transfer to serving bowl.  I like to cook an additional 5 minutes or so to really break down the berries and boil off some of the liquid.

The sauce will thicken as it cools.  You can serve it warm and it will be more sauce like or you can make it in advance and store it in the fridge to firm up. 

This is our sauce after 1 hour in the fridge.  Perfect!  Not too sweet and not too tart.

Variations abound for this recipe. You can substitute orange juice for the water, add orange zest, cloves, cinnamon sticks, more sugar, less liquid, etc…  I haven’t found a recipe that I didn’t like so far!  Evelyn loves the simple version and eats it with her cottage cheese as a snack.

Ours lasted a week in the fridge.  Is it less expensive to make your own?  Well, a bag can cost anywhere from $1.50 (2 for $3) to $1.99.  There’s a few cents for sugar and you can make about 16 ounces.  A 16 ounce can costs around $1.50 during the holidays.  I’d say it’s about even cost wise, but flavor and presentation wise you cannot beat fresh cranberry sauce.

Organic Turkey and Trimmings Worth the Price?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year.  We had just moved the week before and the sewer backed up in our house 3 days before Thanksgiving.  I told the hubby that there was no way no how that we were cooking turkey this year.  After several “but, but…” and “no turkey?” I felt like the Grinch who stole the roast beast and caved in.  Where or where was I going to find a thawed turkey with 30 hours to go until Thanksgiving?

Why Whole Foods grocery store of course!  According to their website, Whole Foods Market is “the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods.”  I bought a nice 11 pound organic/free range turkey, organic yukon gold potatoes, organic cranberries, organic green beans, and organic stuffing for our feast.  The price of waiting till the last minute to shop?  Pretty hefty. Close to a hundred dollars.  Other than the purported health, environmental, and humane benefits, was it worth it?  Or simply put, Did it taste good???

Well, everyone loved the mashed potatoes.  I don’t know if it was my cooking method or because they were organic.  (BTW, did you know that potatoes were on the Dirty Dozen list of things food you should buy organic due to pesticide contamination?  Anytime I see little icons of babies wearing diapers under the heading “Developmental and Reproductive Toxins” I get a little worried!)

Poor Evelyn was very sick over Thanksgiving and couldn’t try any other dish.

Oliver dug the green beans, but we couldn’t tell a big taste difference from their non-organic buddies.  The homemade cranberry sauce ROCKED, but then again, it always does… (I’m posting the super easy recipe tomorrow so you can make it for your next holiday feast.)

As for the roast beast, er Turkey,  I have to give it a thumb’s down.  Being free-range, the turkey got plenty of exercise and the meat was very, very lean and muscular.  The turkey was 11.5 pounds, but was just a little bigger than a basketball.  It was very dense and the dark meat was very, very dark.  I know that Butterballs and other cheapo turkeys are injected with all sorts of flavors and liquids, so maybe the answer is to brine the free-rangers before roasting.  For $2.99/lb I’m happy that we had a happy/healthy bird, but I need to work on the recipe.

So the verdict for Thanksgiving 2011?  Other than the turkey, we couldn’t tell the difference in the taste of any other food we ate.  The turkey, with a simple herb and salt rub didn’t taste all that good.

Debating the health benefits is another post all together!  As for being frugal?  Organic food is usually always more expensive than their non-organic counterpart.  One can argue that paying more now on organic food will save you in cancer bills down the line, but that’s a story for another day.

 

Toddler Play: Fun With Rice

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Want to keep your toddler busy for 30 minutes or more?  Give him a container of rice, some miscellaneous containers, scoops, and funnels and watch him go! 

This is a great sensory and fine motor activity for kids.  They get to squish their hands around in the rice and listen to it ping into the different containers.  He got a lot of practice pouring from little containers to big ones and vice versa using a funnel.

I highly recommend doing this activity on a baking sheet!

I have a Rubbermaid tote where I save random bottles, canisters, egg cartons, cardboard tubes, etc. for the kids to have fun with.

My little scientist had so much fun.  He was totally absorbed in his work for at least 1/2 an hour.  Dumping and filling.  Scooping and pouring.  Next time, I’m going to use food coloring to dye a cup or two of rice and let him experiment with mixing colors!

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