Monday, December 24, 2012

Why I Love My Family

This is the email I received from my grandma:

hi everyone the world did not end. see you x-mas!

And with that, I would like to wish everyone a VERY Merry Christmas!! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Traditions

It's Christmas time again and while there are so many things about the holiday that I love there is one thing that I absolutely hate....... 
 This Guy.

Yup, the ole' Elf on a Shelf. If you don't know, the purpose of the Elf on the Shelf is to sit him out before Christmas (usually the day after Thanksgiving) and tell the kids that he's one of Santa's helper sent to watch over the kids and make sure they behave before Christmas. His box even says to, "Adopt a new Family Tradition this Holiday Season". Well that sounds like a good time doesn't it? No, it doesn't. Not at all. What the box doesn't tell you is that when you buy or as in my case, your mother-in-law buys this guy you are stuck trying to find new and exciting ways for the kids to find him each morning. Yes, that's right, he's supposed to move. There are even blog pages full of cute and unique ways to pose your Elf on the Shelf when your kids go to bed. Like so....
Photo courtesy of  Twirlie Whirlies
Which is all fine and dandy if you're one of "those" moms who has nothing better to do then think up imaginary adventures that your little elf can go on while you're all asleep. Hey, I'm not judging, more power to ya. But if you've learned anything from this blog then you've learned that I'm not one of "those" moms. 
Heck, if we're being honest I can't even remember to have my kids brush their teeth every night let alone find some special way for the elf (who my kids named Dasher) to surprise them each morning. I'm lucky if I can remember to move him from the book shelf to the desk each night. What has already happened more then once this year is that I wake up at 5 in the morning from a dead sleep suddenly remembering I need to move that frickin' elf. So then I get up, tip toe around the house, and place him in a new and unique spot for tomorrow, "hey on top of the microwave sounds adventurous!" 
Eh, good enough.
So while all of you count down the days to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, whatever it is you celebrate, I will be counting down the days until I can shove that stupid elf back in the Christmas decorations tub where he belongs. 

Bah-Humbug I mean, Yours Truly,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More Frugal Fresheners

After learning how to make my own Fabric Freshener that actually smelled damn good, I started searching the internet for other homemade air fresheners. I found
 this post on Holy Cricky on how to make your own fragrance for your used plug-in warmers. The post talks about how the store brand fragrance has something called VOC in it which is something really bad that causes cancer, infertility, and a whole mess of other things. Naturally I was happy to find a cancer-free alternative (although the hypochondriac in me swears I've already damaged myself from using them in the past) but really the idea of saving money by reusing the old fragrance bulbs with my own essential oils and water was what sold me. Especially since I had 6 bottles of barely used essential oils in my barely used craft closet from a homemade lotion attempt that went horribly wrong. Score!

All you need:
A few used plug-in warmers with empty bulbs
essential oils of your choice

First you take the empty bulbs and remove the wick and then rinse the bulb in warm water. 

Take your essential oils and fill the bulb a third of the way full. My bulb was one of those bulbs for a duel warmer so I used two scents: Lotus Flower and Sweet Pea. 

Then fill the bulb the rest of the way with water (we're paying for 2/3 water!), leaving room for the wick. Insert the wick and they are ready to use.

Now how easy was that? I have to be honest and say that personally I didn't think the scent was as strong as the store bought bulbs but I think you could change that by using more essential oil and less water. I also don't remember exactly how much I paid for the essential oil because I bought them at Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago but I still think it was cheaper then buying the plug-in refills. Regardless, this version is free cancer causing ingredients and that's always a good thing right? 

Try it out and let me know what you think! 

Yours Truly,

Friday, November 30, 2012

Frugal Fabric Freshener

     I am a fan of fabric freshener. There's something about spraying some smell good stuff all over your house as a way to mask the disaster area that it is that appeals to me. The problem with most store bought fabric fresheners is that for a cheap frugal mother of three, I can't justify spending 3 bucks on some spray that while it makes my house smell clean, doesn't really "do" anything. I know what you're saying, "girl it's just three bucks." but with one and a half incomes that three dollars could go to something more important like socks or cheese, or I don't know there's not a lot of glamorous things that are three dollars but I'm sure I could put it to better use. 

    Not wanting to completely give up my smell good spray I searched the web or more actually Pinterest and found this recipe on Fake-It Frugal. I changed the recipe around a littlet but this is a simple recipe that really works! 

First you will need the following supplies: One used or new 16 oz. spray bottle. (If you use a different sized bottle just adjust the ingredients to accommidate the bottle size), 1/4 cup of fabric softener, 2 Tbsp. baking soda, and hot water to fill the bottle. 

If you have a little funnel or something it will help when pouring the ingredients in the bottle but it's not required. I didn't use one. All you do is open the bottle, pour in your fabric softener and baking soda and then fill it the rest of the way with hot tap water. (Yes we pay $3 for mainly water. How insane is that?!?) Leave a little bit of head space so you can insert the sprayer and then once it's closed tightly, go ahead and give it a shake to mix the ingredients. 

How simple is that? This is a quick and easy recipe that really does a great job. I agree with Fake-It Frugal and think that this version of fabric freshener seems to last longer then the store brand version. Which for me means my kids messy rooms will at least smell clean just a little longer! 

The Breakdown
Store Brand: $3 a bottle
Homemade: Only 20 cents a bottle!!
Verdict: The store brand fabric freshener can kiss my frugal booty, I'm making my own for now on! 

Try this recipe out and tell me what you think. Let your Frugal Flag Fly!! 

Yours Truly,

Black Friday Penny Pinchin'

    Well it looks like I'm back from my self-appointed Thanksgiving break and ready get my blog on! Did everyone have a great Thanksgiving? Ours was good........we hosted Thanksgiving at our house, my husband went hunting in the morning with my brothers, had a lot of great food, tons of leftovers, and a little family drama but nothing that isn't normal for my relatives. While it's one of my favorite holidays and I try to instill in my kids the purpose of Thanksgiving, I have to admit I'm thankful it only happens once a year. 
    Now on to the more important question, did everyone have a great Black Friday? Or better yet, what have-to-have item did you stand in line for hours to buy? Yes I am a Black Friday Freak. And get this, so is my husband!!! I know, I'm lucky. While he hates most shopping, he is a  cheapass frugal shopper and loves a good sale. We have a tradition of packing up the kids and leftovers, heading to my grandma's house, and the kids stay the night while Nick and I go out and battle the crowds for $1 videos. I would love to say that we go out and buy the 40" T.V's or I pod's or something electronics that's still expensive but on sale for a huge discount but no, we usually just go for the less sought out items like cheap down alternative comforters, or hoodie towels for the kids at Kohls, or better yet our prized $22 Fire pit..... I was actually really pumped about that one. But even though we don't go for the big ticket items we still get a lot of great finds and spend entirely too much money. Which this is a whole other topic but why don't they spread Shop Local Saturday and Cyber Monday out in two week increments? Then average people like me could actually have more money to spend on those days because I'm gonna be honest, I'm usually pretty broke after Black Friday..... well at least until the next payday. 
    That being said I have found ways to be frugal in those post Black Friday weeks and one of the ways is by making homemade cleaners. Now before you go all, "aww snap she's gone hippie" hear me out. My first homemade cleaner experience was with homemade liquid laundry soap. It not only worked just as well as my usual store bought laundry soap but in the long run it was a hell of a lot cheaper and lasted for-EVER! That and you actually know what goes into your cleaners. Unlike packaged food, there is no regulation as of now that requires cleaning product manufacturers to list all the ingredients on the package. So who knows what you're getting in your cleaner; ammonia, rat poisoning, crushed up unicorn horns, who knows. The one ingredient I know that is in most of your cleaning products is water, lots and lots of water. Like 80-90% water and let me tell you what, we are paying a butt load for water. Again, the frugal lady in me is coming out but that's a huge reason why I've attempted to start making my own homemade cleaners. 
    As a solid to you, think of it as your post Black Friday bonus I have decided to add some of my own homemade cleaner recipes on here for you all to enjoy. Try them out, tell me what you think, and definitely share any of your own homemade cleaner recipes with me. Embrace your inner hippie..... or if you're like me, let your Frugal Flag Fly!! 
Yours Truly,

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bucket List Check-In

   With the last few weeks being extremely busy....... well okay, busier then normal, there is one perk to it all. Checking off things on the Fall Bucket List!!! Yay!! No really, I'm seriously excited. Last time I was only able to get a total of 14 out of 21 things accomplished and already we're over halfway done. I will credit that all to my super, one of "those" moms abilities and  more importantly, actually making more realistic bucket list goals.
    I decided that instead of devoting a blog post to each individual event that I should have done 3 weeks ago when the activity was really happening; I would just do a little recap full of pictures and minimal captions. Enjoy! 
1. Go on school field trips.
K1 and K2 had school field trips on the same day so Nick and I each picked a daughter to go with. I went with K1's 2nd grade class to Pendleton's Country Market to visit their Butterfly Bio Villa.

K1 holding a butterfly

Having fun on a hayride
 Nick went with K2's kindergarten class to Schaake's Pumpkin Patch. K1's field trip got over a half hour before K2's field trip and they were literally down the road from each other so I surprised K2 and daddy at the pumpkin patch.
Surprise, mom is joining you!

K2 and a friend being silly in the hay bale maze

2. Go to the Pumpkin Patch as a family. 
While K2 and her class already went to Schaake's Pumpkin Patch, it wouldn't be fall if we didn't go there as a family to pick our pumpkins and take our traditional "how tall are you" photos. This year my sister and my favorite (and only but still favorite) niece joined us. Oh and if you're wondering how to say Schaake's... well good luck on figuring it out. I've gone there ever since I was 5 years old and I'm still not 100% sure. At one time a worker there told me it was pronounced like Shakes so that's what I called it for years and years. Someone else recently told me it's pronounced like Shaw-keys. And then another person says it like Shake-Es. So who knows. All I know is that they've got pumpkins and locally produced jelly so that works for me!

We love Schaake's Pumpkin Patch!

My 5 foot tall 2nd grader!!!

My 4 ft. tall Kindergartner

My 3 and a half ft. tall niece

My 2 ft tall and too busy for photos 2 year old

Look who found his pumpkin

K1 found her pumpkin

K2 is running around like a crazy woman

And now dad has to find a way to put it all in the van! 

3. Go on the Haunted Hayride
Our town has for the second year in a row hosted a haunted hayride. It's a lot of fun and just the right amount of scary for little kids. This year we invited all my extended family on my mom's side to join us for dinner, the Haunted Hayride, and roasting marshmallows afterward. The funny thing with our extended family is that it seems like the only time we see everyone is at holidays where we spend the whole time focusing on the kids and then end up leaving in a rush to go to the next family function. The Haunted Hayride gave us a rare opportunity to just hang out, enjoy each others company, and give the kids a good scare. It was a really great night!

Waiting to get on the hayride. Our group was so big we had a tractor to ourselves.

The kids preparing to be spooked

My attempt at taking a photo of the group behind me.

 4. Go Trick or Treating and Get A lot of Candy
As you can tell from this activity I made sure that a lot of our bucket list items were things we were for sure going to do. My kids are past the age of going to just a couple family members houses and calling it good so with my niece and her parents in tow, we took on the town. Luckily for the parents, our little town is basically only 4 blocks and we were done with plenty of time to come back and enjoy some "adult" caramel apple cider. 
Starting off Halloween with our traditional ghost pancakes with blood syrup

K2 is bat girl.... how stinking cute is that?

K3 is a skeleton cat.... still pretty cute if you ask me!

K3 as a very tired Captain America, it doesn't get much cuter then that.

With my zombie niece added to the group we were ready to go trick or treating.

Halloween 2012
 So there's our Fall Bucket List so far. We also got to cross out carving pumpkins and drinking hot apple cider (the non-adult version). But I didn't take any photos of those activities. We still have a few things left on our bucket list but I feel good about this one. I think we'll be able to at least finish all but one or two of the items. We can't all be "those" moms. I hope you all are having an enjoyable fall also, anyone else tackling a bucket list this season????

Yours Truly,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

    I know I know, I have kind of been slacking on the blog updates. Sorry!! Life has been unusually busy lately and I haven't had time to get on the computer much..... Okay, things have only been mildly busy and I've been really lazy but same difference. 
    Anyways. Anyone remember my post about Pumpkin Flower Pots? Yes Deja, it was only your last post. Well I wanted to share with you what I did with the tops of my pumpkins. And if you're good I just might give you my top secret recipe for prefect pumpkin seeds. 
    I got the idea from a Pumpkin Bird Feeder  I made in my Mothers Group a few years back. This is another craft that takes just a few supplies and little to no effort. I'm sensing a theme when it comes to my crafting! So first grab your supplies: Peanut Butter, Bird Seed, Yarn, and Pumpkin Tops. 

    Then what I did is hollow out the center of the pumpkin as best I could and cut 4 slits on the sides of the pumpkin tops. I then pull two strands of yarn evenly through opposite sides of the pumpkin and tied them at the top. 

   After that I coated the hollowed out part of the pumpkin with peanut butter. I don't think you have to do this step but I did just to ensure my bird seed wouldn't fall out as easily and hey, birds like peanut butter. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. After the coating of peanut butter I filled the pumpkin bowl with bird seed and Tah-Dah! We have a pumpkin bird feeder!
    How cute is that? And like most of my crafts this one only took 15 minutes tops. Now since you've been such a good reader, here is your pumpkin seed recipe I promised. The secret is boiling the seeds in salt water before cooking in the oven. It is the best way I have found to get rid of the woody, splintery texture but still allows them to cook up nice and crunchy. 

Deja's Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

2 cups Pumpkin Seeds
4 Tbsp Salt plus 1 tsp. salt
8 cups Water
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1 Tbsp. Margarine or Butter
 Additional Seasonings of your choice (Seasoning Salt, Taco Seasoning or Cinnamon Sugar would be great.) 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Then bring 8 cups of water for every 2 cup of seeds to a boil. Add 4 tablespoons of salt for every 2 cup of seeds. Simmer the seeds for 15 minutes. Then drain.

2.  Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt to pumpkin seeds. Toss to coat and layer on cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. 

3.  Roast for 20-30 minutes. Stirring every 15 minutes. I usually cook mine for 30-40 minutes because I prefer mine toasted a darker brown. Toss in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. butter/margarine and then transfer to a plate to cool. Enjoy!!

   These seeds are so tasty and so addictive. I can't put them down! I prefer my seeds with just salt and margarine but don't be afraid to play around with different seasoning combinations. Look at us, using a whole pumpkin for three different things!! Well, almost a whole pumpkin, I did throw the stringy goop away but I'm sure you could add it to your compost pile or something like that. I feel so green now, go us!! 
Yours Truly,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mums The Word

    I love Fall. There's just something about this season that inspires me to embrace it. I love fall colors, hot fall flavored drinks, pumpkins, football games, bonfires, fall baking, Thanksgiving.... I just really love fall. Maybe it's because I can finally go outside without getting instant sweat crack (TMI, I know) or maybe it's because I want to savor this season as long as possible because we all know that before we're ready Old Man Winter will be freezing our car windows. Old Man Winter can suck it. 
    Thanks to the Fall Bucket List we're not just going to embrace fall but we're going to own this season!! One thing I wanted to do is make our front porch more festive. Besides our usual poorly carved pumpkins we never have anything else outside. Not this year. I found the cutest idea for decorating your porch/yard and guess what else, it's SUPER EASY!! 

    First you're going need your supplies. All you need is a pumpkin, or two, Mum plant(s) (I got three because they were on sale at our grocery store 3 for $12), and a good carving knife. Simple right? 

    Now take your knife and carve around the top. 

Careful, this is about as hard as it gets!
Time for the fun part!! Removing the guts!! 

    Okay, so guts aren't your thing. No worries, have a kid do it, they love that stuff.

Don't get rid of the guts just yet, roasted seeds are so good! 

Aww, prefect! 

Now just take one of the plants (I left mine in the container) and put them into the pumpkin. Ta-Dah!!

How freaking cute is that? And it was super simple. I think the total time, counting all the photo taking was 45 minutes. So roughly 15 minutes a pumpkin. If you really want to jazz them up you could add a pretty fall colored bow but this is Deja, not Martha Stewart so I opted for the bowless look. Not that I had bows to use in the first place but still I think they turned out great!

Another Craft/DIY project that is kid approved!! So go on people, gets your pumpkin on and make fall your bitch! Got an easy fall craft idea you'd like to share?

Yours Truly,

Fall Cupcake Tasting

    Recently I wanted an excuse to try out different flavored cupcakes. While my family enjoys dessert, it seems like no matter what kind of cake I make it usually ends up sitting around until it turns brick hard. I decided a way to try out a bunch of the fall recipes I've been working on was to have a Fall Cupcake Tasting. And I'm not gonna lie, I kind of hoped that people would try my cupcakes and be so impressed that they just had to order more of whatever flavor they were savoring. But mainly I wanted people to try my new cupcake flavors and give me feedback on what I could do differently. 
    Without going into a long story about how I painstakingly picked out my cupcake flavors(I chose 5 flavors), how I chose the people to attend (I just created an event on my Facebook page), and all work that went into pulling off the event I thought I would just give you the highlights. The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

Let's just get it over with and start with the Bad: 
    Nowadays it seems like someone always has something going on so picking a date can be hard. I thought I picked the prefect date but it was only after I created the event that I found out that it was not only the day of The Color Run in Lawrence but it was also the KU/K-State Football Game. Over half of the people I intended on coming would be at one of these events and ended up missing my own event. 
This was before it started but I was going for pity points

 But that's okay because The Good:

    I ended up having a great turn out of people. I was not only impressed with the amount of people that ended up coming but I was surprised by a few faces that I had no clue were coming. For a girl that always feels like she has no friends, I realized not only do I have friends but they're pretty damn amazing. 

Okay, here goes The Ugly:
    While the cupcake tasting was a success, not even 4 hours prior to the event I was having a less then flattering meltdown, stressing about finishing up all the cupcakes and threatening to call off the whole thing. Once again, super husband came to the rescue and showed up early to help me get the final touches ready. I wish I could say this was a one-time baker freak out but if you ask my husband, I usually freak out at least once while making a cake. This one was just a little more spazztastic then usual.

Now after that I deserve at least another Good:
    The cupcakes, oh my gosh let me tell you, they were SOOOO good. I did a rating scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) and none of them received lower then a 3. In fact my Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting received all 5 ratings!! That recipe is definitely a keeper, go me!! 

Not that you asked but here's another really Good:
    Thanks to my cupcake tasting I am currently booked with cake/cupcake orders for the next two months!!!! Yay!!! Oh, and even after giving away most my extra cupcakes in a drawing, there were just enough left for my bunch to have.... and they didn't even let them get rock hard! 

Foodgasm Time!!

Oh yea!!


These were the 6 packs I gave away in the drawing!

You like that? You sick puppies!! So what's your favorite fall flavor? You never know, it could inspire my next great cupcake recipe!! 

Yours Truly,