Friday, September 14, 2012

Realistic fun lunch box ideas

Ok, I'm just going to come right out and say it:  I will NEVER be that mom who makes those cutie little lunches that take way too many manpower hours to create.  My child will NOT have a sandwich that looks like an owl.  I work full time and simply do not have the time (or interest) in doing so.  I know, I know...I will never win "Mom of the Year".

However, I am noticing that I seem to be making the same turkey-cheddar-tortilla rollup for my elementary son's lunch almost daily.  In fact, twice this week I put the meat/cheese on regular bread and he brought it home uneaten. What the...???  I believe I need to think outside the box a bit.

So, last night I began perusing and Pinterest for REALISTIC ideas for adding some variety to school lunches.  (Read this as: variety, not works of art. No bento, no fancy-pantsy stuff).  Just some easy, make ahead items to mix it up. If you'd like to see what I've collected thus far on my Pinterest wall, click here.

Today, I tested out "Kid Sushi" from  It took me less than 3 minutes (score!) and I can make and freeze these ahead of time  (double score!).  He thought it was cool I offered him 'sushi'.

If you have some ideas to offer, I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Amish Friendship Bread

Recently I was given a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and quickly requested some starter from my friend.  Luckily, she had one starter left.   AFB seems to cycle it's way around to me every few years, and I love it!  I love the concept (sharing the starter with some friends) and I love the bread itself.  So do my kids!  

There are a bunch of varieties you can make with the basic recipe.  Here, I made mine with vanilla pudding and some frozen bananas I had in my freezer.  Oh, and instead of making two loaves, I baked mine in a 9x13 glass dish.  Frankly, it was just easier. 

When it came time for me to bake my bread and sort out my starters to share with others, I began to look for a cute printable AFB instruction sheet.  I knew there had to be one somewhere online that would save me from having to create it myself.   I found a darling post by Sinful Southern Sweets' blog that I couldn't have written better myself!  I wanted to be sure to pass it along to you.  You'll love her gift tags, too!

Need recipes for your starter?  Check out this site for some variations. Enjoy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Saving money, but being smart about it.

One of the reasons I sew ~ besides simply enjoying the craft of it ~ is because I can usually make things less expensively than purchasing a similar finished item.  I'm all about saving a buck...within reason.

I came across this article below that I really thought was smart, especially in light of the madness of "extreme couponing" that we are seeing lately.  These are 5 great things to consider, and I really can identify with items 4 & 5.  While I still coupon and enjoy doing so, I only shop one store (my time and fuel are worth something to me) and I no longer purchase the multitude of processed crapola that is offered so frequently on coupons.  At one point a few years ago, I joked with a friend that I thought couponing was making me fat!  I mean, come on, those M&M's and Pop-Tarts were nearly free! How could I NOT purchase them?!!  Now, I make more of an effort to focus my grocery budget on fresh foods.  For example, I like to participate in the Bountiful Baskets produce co-op and do more shopping at our local health food market.

Enjoy the read from Credit Karma's guest blogger from Money Crashers below!

5 Ways Being Frugal Can Cost You More Money Than You Save
**Today’s guest post is contributed by Money Crashers.**
The past few months, I’ve really focused on being frugal. I’ve found ways to save lots of money at the grocery store, I’ve honed in on ways to save on monthly bills, and I’ve even discovered ways to save on home improvement projects.
But I’ve also learned that in some instances, being too frugal can actually cost you money in the end. Frugality is truly an art, and if you dive in head first, you might find yourself spending more money than you save.
Here are five instances where trying to save money actually costs you.
1. Skipping Maintenance to Save a Few Bucks
There are plenty of things in your life that need to receive regular maintenance to work properly, including your car, your home computer, and home appliances. This maintenance isn’t always free, but it is always necessary.
Don’t blow off scheduled maintenance checks for your car, or not update the anti-virus software on your computer just to save some money. A few dollars spent now can go a long way in ensuring you get the most life out of all of these items – and you likely won’t have to pay for costly repairs later on.
2. Buying Something Because It’s on Sale
Just because you have a coupon for something doesn’t mean you’ll save money by purchasing it. Here’s a perfect example: If you find a deal where you can get 50% off on clothes, yet you don’t have an immediate need for that clothing, then what are you saving? In essence, you are doing nothing more than spending money unnecessarily.
You should certainly shop for deals whenever you can, but before you pull the trigger on anything, no matter how great the price may be, ask yourself one quick question – do I really need this item? Watch out for the tempting group buying sites for daily deals and coupons and make sure they don’t end up costing you money.
3. Doing It Yourself – When You Don’t Know How
Coming from someone who has recently become a DIY fanatic, I can tell you one very important lesson that I have learned: Know your limitations. You can definitely save quite a bit of money by tackling home improvements and repairs yourself, but if you have no previous experience whatsoever working with, say roofing, then you may want to shy away from hammering shingles onto your house, and call in a professional.
Getting in over your head when it comes to do-it-yourself home improvement projects can most definitely cost you in the long run. So do yourself a favor – park your ego at the door and objectively assess any DIY project before taking it on.
4. Saving Money, but Wasting Time
There’s one very important fact to keep in mind – time is just as valuable as money. If you have to spend ten hours a week combing through the newspaper in order to find coupons that will save you ten bucks at the grocery store, you can probably find a better use for those ten hours (i.e. one of the downsides ofextreme couponing).
Additionally, if you have to drive twenty miles to save five bucks on a purchase, the journey isn’t cost-effective especially with gas prices rising. In short, be sensible about your frugality and don’t be blinded by the “save a buck at all costs” mentality.
5. Buying Processed Foods
The food you put in your body obviously has a huge overall effect on your personal health. Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about stocking up on processed, pre-packaged foods simply because they have an attractive price. Spending a few extra dollars on fresh foods is well worth the cost. You’ll be healthier, which in turn will cut down on your overall medical expenses – something that we could all use.
Final Thoughts
The bottom line? Don’t sacrifice quality in any area of your life in an attempt to save a few bucks. Know when it makes sense to spend the extra dollar, and in the long run, you’ll be sure to live a frugal, and full, life.
What other areas can you think of where you cost yourself more by trying to save a buck? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
David Bakke is a columnist for Money Crashers, one of the top personal finance blogs that covers a variety of different financial topics like money management, saving for retirement, shopping smart, and making wise decisions in life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

For kitchen grubbies

I use a lot of cloth napkins for the kids and seem to burn through kitchen towels quickly. I needed a new sack to collect the dirty ones so I whipped this up this morning.

It's lined with PUL measures 12x15 inches and has a velcro strap so I can loop it around the oven handle. When it's full, I dump the entire sack into the machine or simply toss the contents into the wash and wipe the interior with a Clorox wipe!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wetbag for swim and gym

I made a great zippered wetbag today for my wet swim gear and/or sweaty gym clothes. I used 1/2 yard of cotton (found on clearance for $3/yd) and lined it with the very awesome PUL. It's super roomy without being bulky.
I just keep it in my gym bag. Much cuter than the Gap plastic shopping bag I've been using. I'm lovin' it! :)

This project has been shared at Tip Junkie.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Universal Mama tonight at 10pm EST.

Universal Mama is a collective of artisans that came together to offer our handmade creations to fellow friends around the globe.   I'm thrilled to be a guest this evening! 

Be sure to stop by and see all the handmade goodness!  They will stock at 10pm EST.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hallway flooring redo

My boys have a small hallway between their rooms.  It's about 8'x4'.  The carpeting was dingy and worn and I needed to do "something" to fix it.  Our house has stained concrete throughout most of it, so I figured I would pull up the carpet and stain the concrete to match the rest of the flooring.  However, when my 12 year old and I began to pull up the tacking strips (I have no idea what they are really called, but they are the wood strips filled with nails that make the carpet stay down at the edges.) it was crumbling parts of the concrete.  So I moved to "plan B".

I hit Home Depot for an inexpensive solution.  My 12 year old son voted for astro-turf, which I quickly vetoed.  Ha!  I ended up laying some simple vinyl tiles for $37!  It was a great math lesson for my son who had to determine the square footage and our plan for laying them.   I'm glad I didn't opt for more carpet because they hang their wet swim gear and towels in this hallway (ideally on hooks, but we all know they end up on the floor).

It seriously took all morning and afternoon to complete this project.   But the hall is now refreshed!

This project has been shared at: Iron Violet 
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