Thursday, June 30, 2011

4th of July outfit

I was home less than a full week before going back to Ohio for another week and a half for my mom's surgery.  Now I am home and will be for awhile.  As much as I hate leaving when I am there it does feel good to be home again. 

While in Ohio I went to JoAnn's in search of 4th of July fabric to make Grant an outfit for the fireworks.  This is the fabric I came home with:

Is this not the cutest for a little boy?  My plan is to make shorts, an appliqued onesie, a bib and pj pants for after dark when the mosquitoes come out.  I can't wait to get started and since I should have plenty of time tonight that is my goal!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pattern and Doll-Finished

I finally accomplished my goal of making my own doll and doll pattern.  I have had the doll half sewn for about a month and a half just waiting for some motivation to finish her.  That motivation came the weekend we moved, when my friend informed me her 2 year old's birthday was the following weekend.  I thought immediately of my half finished doll.

Of course in my haste to finish her the night before the party I forgot to take any pictures.  The one above was taken in the car on the way to the party.  I also bought a bubble wand, coloring book, and crayons.
I'm always nervous about giving homemade gifts because I never know how they will be received, however I have come to the conclusion that I need to trust my instincts and go with it because when little Korea opened the doll the first thing she did was hug her.  I was so excited to see the smile on her face, made the late night sewing completely worth it.

I'm actually a little excited to try a second pattern and doll, maybe a boy this time.  I wish I knew how to make patterns into pdf format and I would happily post it for other's to print. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mint Chocolate Cookies

My husband was out of town for work and for whatever reason I had a serious need to bake something, specifically chocolate chip cookies.  Unfortunately I didn't have any chocolate chips the only kind of chips I had were dark chocolate with mint.  I found them about a month ago, they are nestle brand.  I wish I would have bought 5 bags because they were $1 with a 50 cent coupon attached, score!

Originally I was going to use a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and just swap the chips out but then I remembered my white chip chocolate recipe and immediately thought it would be perfect, a chocolate cookie with chocolate and mint chips, delish!

Here is the recipe I used:

Mint Chocolate Cookies

2 1/4 c flour
2/3c cocoa
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1c butter
3/4c sugar
2/3c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2c dark chocolate and mint chips

Bake at 350.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in bowl.  Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chips.  Drop on baking sheets.  Bake 9-11 minutes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Graduation Water Bottle Labels

I finished the water bottle labels for my sister's graduation and I was so happy to be able to mark them off my to-do list.  They took way more time than I thought they would.  The good part is I had my trusty lil Cricut to help me with all the cutting, too bad it doesn't glue too.  Each letter and number was shadowed with the opposite color cardstock.  I bought graduation stickers at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago when they were 50% off so I got 8 pages of stickers for around $3.  I used those to go in the middle of the flower thing (have no clue what else to call them) separating the 2011 and Kayli

After everything was cut and glued I used clear packing tape to cover them, I read somewhere this would make them water proof.  It worked on most but when the party was over I noticed about 6 of the labels had leaked.  We wrapped them around the bottles and used more packing tape to secure them.

And the finished product:

I didn't get a picture of them actually on the bottles since these were the last thing we finished before leaving to set everything up.  I did think these gave the party a personal touch.  I wanted her party to be special and have alot of little touches she wouldn't see at other parties.  With these labels, the centerpieces, cupcake toppers, and cake, I think I accomplished that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Graduation Cake

Here is the infamous graduation cake I confidently took the on the task of making without a single minutes worth of experience with fondant.

Of course with all the packing necessary the one thing I forgot was my camera so this pic is taken with my cell phone.  I think my sister has the ugliest school colors I've every seen, burgundy and golden yellow.  I made 2 9 inch cakes for the bottom layer and 2 6 inch cakes for the top.  Bottom cakes were chocolate cake with chocolate chip cookie dough filling and oh my goodness was it every delicious.  I don't like to brag on myself but I made one heck of a good chocolate cake.  The top cakes were suppose to be lemon cake with blueberry cream cheese filling.  I made these in cupcake form about a month ago.  Here's a lesson to anyone out there thinking of trying this, don't!  The filling works beautifully in cupcakes not in layered cakes.  I made two beautiful and delicious lemon cakes and was so excited about them, then proceeded to make my buttercream dam and add my filling thinking I was home free, wrong!  As I started filling my chocolate cake i turned around to see the top layer of the lemon cake sliding off and taking some of the bottom layer with it.  So I had to scrape the filling off and use my buttercream icing to fill and glue them together. 

I made homemade marshmellow fondant and it was super easy for anyone out there wanting to try it.  It takes about 10 minutes for one batch and cost less than $5.  I used Wilton food coloring in burgundy and golden yellow which worked perfectly.  Of course I had to make 5 batches to get enought for all the decorations and both the cakes.  Covering each cake with fondant is not as easy as cake boss makes it seem, there were obvious flaws in mine I had to cover with fondant decorations.

All in all I'm very happy the cake is done and everyone raved about how good it tasted which is the most important part.  I wasn't crazy about how the cake looked as a whole and I have sworn off doing anymore tiered cakes until I have taken some classes or something because it is serious work.  I now completely understand why custom cakes are so pricey.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Officially Have Internet

Yes it's true I finally have the internet at my house! I'm so overly thrilled to be back in the blogging world.  I've been in Ohio for a while and then cleaning house and finally making some progress.  I keep reminding myself that one day there will not be moving boxes sitting in my dining room and bedroom, one day it will not look like we are still unpacking. 

I have quite a few posts to write and start posting.  Through all the chaos I have managed to craft a little here and there and I can't wait to show them.  Unfortunately my little one has decided naps beyond 30 minutes are unnecessary so I will have to wait until he is asleep for the night to actually get any of these posts done.

Since the husband is away for work I have started my next project I hope will be done by July 4th for the fireworks.  I saw a quilt made of cut up jeans a long time ago and filed it away in my mind.  As I was unpacking clothes that will never fit my post baby body again (or my husband's), I found multiple pairs of jeans still in good shape and this project immediately came to mind.  I have started cutting on them but have yet to make the first stitch so wish me luck.

The BIG news of the day- my little Grant started crawling and got his first 2 teeth while we were visiting family in Ohio.  Oh my gosh those little teeth are the cutest things I've ever seen and I smile every time I see them.  He is growing so fast I want to freeze time  and remember every moment. 

As I type this he is screaming in his playpen trying like everything to pull himself up so for now I have to get off here and change the diaper I am starting to smell, yuck, and tomorrow there will be a fesh new post!

whoo hoo!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wanna Be Extreme Couponer

Got word from the hubby that our internet set up finally arrived back home so I will actually be able to post some of the stuff I've been working so hard on lately.  During my time visiting my family I have been trying to take it easy, relax, and enjoy having company and help with Grant during the day.  The down side is missing my husband so I have thrown myself into my newest obsession, couponing.  I've mentioned it in some of my other posts but I am bound and determined to start getting groceries and household goods for free like the many women on Extreme Couponing.  Now I am not naive enough to think all the men and women on tv actually shop like that all the time, or that they save such a large amount on a regular basis.  Either way I want and need to master the art of couponing.

I have started my coupon binder.  When I first saw women on the show with their binders I thought "those women are crazy carrying that thing all through the store."  Now I must eat those words because I am one of them.  I started acquiring quite a collection of coupons when I started buying 2 Sunday papers, which meant double the coupons each week, and my little holder was just no longer working for me.  I spent so much time sorting and organizing and finding the coupons I needed it was ridiculous.  So now they are neatly organized in a binder with baseball card holder pages and I love it!  my husband and I were walking throught Target the other day, came across the clearence aisle were there were Suave proffessionals shampoo/conditioner multipacks for $3.50 each.  It just so happened I knew I had a Buy One Get One coupon for them.  I quickly ran out to the car to get my binder and ended up getting 9 bottles of shampoo/conditioner for $6.50 after coupons. SCORE!  Lessoned learned, always have your binder with you.

Some might be saying to themselves, why buy more than one Sunday paper when you just get the same coupons.  The women on TV say to buy 1 paper for each member of your household, and while I would love to have another set of coupons to cut and add to the collection, my papers are $2 each and I just can't justify spending $24 a month on papers alone.  After I started getting more serious about couponing I got online and saw a great sale on the razor my husband loves, it was buy one get one free and listed a coupon in the Sunday paper you could combine with a store discount and get each of them for $1.99 each.  Who can pass up such a deal?  The only problem was I only had one coupon and to get the best deal you needed two.  That's when I started buying 2 papers a week.  At least now I can purchase the items on sale for Buy One Get One and use 2 coupons for the best deal.

This week I am tackling CVS.  I had to purchase Oral B electric tooth brush heads last week and that purchase gave me $20 in extracare bucks.  It sucks to have to fork out that money initially but now its like having a $20 coupon in my pocket to spend on whatever I want.  So what does this wannabe extreme couponer do, she makes a list of all the best deals that also include receiving more extracare bucks.  I currently have a list of 15 items including huggies diapers, John Freda shampoo/conditioner, Crest mouthwash, razors, etc that come up to a total cost of less than $10 and receive approximately $14 in extracare bucks to spend next week.  JACKPOT!

I do so love coupons, and after this week I will have a mini stockpile going, I'm so super excited.  Extreme Couponing here I come, lol!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Money Saving and Being Frugal

I love to find new ways to save money and be frugal.  Some people call it being cheap, I call it having good sense, haha, especially now that I'm not working.  Why spend money on things you don't have to when you could take the money your saving and use it for something else.  Every now and then I like to google ways to save money or be more frugal and see if I can find anything new.  In times like these when the economy is like it is we could all use little ways to save a little.

Here are a few ways I save money.

The #1 way I save is using cloth diapers with my 7 month old.  I was fortunate enough that my mom bought me quite a few all-in-ones off the internet that are just as easy as using disposables.  I also use the old school prefolds with rubber pants over top.  I ended up getting about 20 of them as baby shower gifts.  The only thing I'm not comfortable with is using the pins with the prefolds so my mom bought me Snappis and they are super simple to use, I love them.  The only time I use disposables is at night and when we go out places.  I  tried using the cloth at night and as he has gotten older he pees way too much while he is sleeping and I end up having to change his clothes, sheets, blankets, etc which is not worth it to me.

#2- I have went green with my cleaning products.  My main reason was not because it was better for the earth but its better for my son.  I don't like the idea of having to lock up cleaning products and try to find places he can't get to them.  So I don't used bleach or ammonia.  Instead I use vinegar and water with lemon to spray down the kitchen counters, bathroom counters, mop the floor, etc.  The tub gets cleaned with water and baking soda which actually works better than any store bought product I have found.  I also have different recipes for glass cleaner, dusting spray, and wood polish.  All of which use basic ingredients you find around the house.  I found all my recipes by googling homemade cleaning products.

#3-  I quit using the dry cycle on the dishwasher.  Instead, when the dishwasher is done cleaning I simply open the door, pull out the drawers and leave them open for a few hours.  I like to do this at night and then they are completely dry by morning.

#4- I only do large loads of laundry except for my diapers and I always use cold water except for towels, sheets, and diapers.

#5- Freezer meals.  When I go grocery shopping I never buy just 1lb of hamburger meat, I usually buy 5lbs.  When I get home I seperate it to make meals that are easy to freeze such as meatballs, taco meat, sloppy joes, meatloaf, etc.  The last 5 lbs I bought I used to make hamburger steaks one night, mixed up 2- 1lb meatloafs, a batch of meatballs, and browned some for spaghetti sauce.  So in about one hour I had 5 meals ready to go in the freezer.  Having freezer meals can be a real life saver, especially now since money is so tight.  I love that I have multiple meals in my freezer to fall back on when we don't have as much money to spend on groceries.  I can't say enough about freezer meals, I absolutely love, love, love them!!

#6- We stopped buying bottled water.  We were buying 2- 24pkgs of water each week and they are about $3 a pkg.  That's $6 a week and $24 a month, may not seem like much but it adds up.  Instead we bought a Pur water pitcher with a filter and refill plastic, BPA free, bottles.

#7- We don't buy canned soda.  Here in Tennessee you can't really find cases of soda for less than $3 a case and we were buying 2 cases a week at times.  Which is another $24 a month in our pockets.  Now we make sweet tea and kool-aid instead if we want something other than water, milk, or juice.

#8- I make our Laundry Detergent, dishwasher detergent, and baby wipes. 
#9- I use cloth wipes for cleaning up after wet diapers.  This has made my homemade wipes last 2 to 3 times as long.

#10- Menu planning.  I really hate menu planning but I do it every week.  Here is my menu "plan"; I have 1 night of leftovers, 1 of breakfast for dinner, 1 of a pasta, 1 of soup (usually already made in the freezer), 1 of beef, and 1 of chicken, and 1 left for grilled cheese, hotdogs or any other easy meal.  I keep a magnetic marker board on my deep freezer with all its contents on the inside so I know what freezer meals I have inside and what kind of meat I already have on hand.  So first I go to the freezer and see what I already have and try to make at least 1 meal, but usually 2, from what I already have.  Then I plan on having leftovers 1 night, and breakfast food 1 night.  We usually always have the ingredients for breakfast foods already on hand so there are 3-4 dinners without spending a penny.  Next I look online at the sale ads and see if there are any killer deals on anything, especially meat.  Then I  pull out the cookbooks and recipe box and see what I can make with the contents of my cabinents.  I try to stick with recipes that don't require ingredients we rarely use or ingredients that are expensive.

#11- I make my own baby food.  Using Ziploc steam bags and my Magic Bullet I have successfully made both fruit and veggies for my son.  When fresh food is on sale it's the perfect time to stock up and make some for freezing.  If fresh food is not in season then you can always use frozen bags of veggies and some of those come in bags you can already steam the food in.  I bought some Walmart brand corn the other day that was labeled "steamable" on the front, so no need to use my Ziploc bags.  You can easily spend a couple dollars and get a weeks worth of veggies or fruit.  I didn't realize how quickly the cost of jarred baby food adds up until Grant started eating both fruits and vegetables.  At about $0.50 a piece you can spend about $7 a week just on baby food.  Every little bit helps so if I can make my own for half that it's worth it to me.

#12- Coupons! After seeing the show Extreme Couponing on TLC I have a little obsession with couponing.  I am completely amazed these women get so much for a little of nothing and I am determined to figure out how they do it.  Now I can honestly say I will not ever purchase 30 sunday papers a week, and I will probably never have enough coupons to buy 100 of any one product.  However I have started getting some items for free here and there.  For instance I bought 12 boxes of pasta for free a few weeks back a kroger just by signing up at the companies website and then received coupons.  I am currently trying to master CVS and Walgreens by using store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and their extra care bucks and register rewards. 
Our grocery budget is about $40 a week, or $120 a month for 2 people.  Now there have been times when we go over this (which really irritates the budgeter in me), especially when a week comes along where we need toilet paper and paper towels at the same time.  Those 2 things alone are $6 a piece.  $12 might not seem like much but when we are talking about $40 that takes a good chunk of it.  I try to buy meat when it is on sale and at it's cheapest but sometimes that is not always possible.  I usually only buy one kind of meat a week and just buy a large amount of it.  For example if ground beef is on sale and the meals I want to cook that week require 2 lbs of beef, I buy 5 lbs so I can use the other 3lbs for another week.  Likewise the other week chicken leg quarters were $0.39/lb and split chicken breast were $0.98/lb so I had to buy a good bit to put in the freezer for future meals.

I'm sure there are men and women out there who have many other ways to save money and I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm Back, for now

Well we finally got everything moved in but still in the process of finding a place for it all.  Unfortunately we havn't got internet yet, the AT&T people and I are not getting along since I was suppose to have it up and running on the 19th of last month.  I am at my mom's in Ohio visiting and just thought I would write a post.  I feel like I have dropped off the face of the blogging world and I really  miss it.  I have been crafting here and there.  I finally finished the doll pattern and doll I started months ago and gave it to my friend's daughter for her birthday.  My mom received a coupon holder for mother's day.  My cousin was given Mr. and Mrs. coffee mugs and a set of coasters both made with my Cricut and vinyl. 

My sister graduated from high school 3 days ago and we had her graduation party last saturday.  It went great and I made the centerpieces, water bottle labels, cupcake toppers, and yes the cake!  After making the two tier fondant covered cake I can honestly say I don't know if I will ever make another one, haha.  Cake boss makes it look so super easy but oh my is it hard to work with.  Despite all that everyone liked it and it tasted great which was the most important thing.

I have pictures of everything, although here's a warning most of them are not great pictures as I have not had my own camera and have had to resort to my mom's and my cell phone but hopefully I will not be MIA for much longer.  I can't wait to get back and catch up on everything.


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