Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mama Ramblings: Shots to tell or not to tell

My little guy had to go to the Doctor today.  This was his first time being at the doctor in a year and 3 weeks.  I consider this amazing as we all know how often kids get ear infections, stomach bugs, etc and it seems when kids are young doctor visits are a constant thing.  We have been extremely blessed with Grant's health and that is not in the least bit taken for granted.  I am thankful for it every day.

I have struggled with how to approach doctor visits with Grant.  Whether to tell him as little as possible or explain everything and risk him getting scared and throwing a fit.  Since his previous trips were so long ago I knew he didn't remember what going to the doctor entailed, and I could never fully explain everything for him to understand due to his age.

This trip was different.  Grant talks all the time and understands so much more now that he is 3.  I originally thought he was all caught up on shots and this would be a routine, "how's he doing", visit.  Then we got there and found he needed a few different immunizations.  I immediately started trying to decide if it's better for a child not to know or be warned ahead of time.  I opted to tell him he was going to get shots.  I thought maybe if he knew he wouldn't fight it and would trust what I tell him in regards to future visits.  I explained every aspect of shots even that they would hurt.  I told him they felt a little like when Sophie pinches him.  I even warned him he was going to have to lay down because for some reason he starts to freak out a little when he has to lay down and someone he doesn't know is near him. 

To my surprise he handled all the information great.  He asked questions, "why do I have to get a shot?" to which my answer was "because these shots make us not get sick".  "Why do they have to give me a shot in my leg?", to which my answer was "because little boys and girls have small arms and the shots would hurt more if they gave them to you in the arm".  Even forewarned he didn't like laying down (no tantrum about it though) and he cried when they were finished.  It breaks my heart every time but I try not to make a big to-do about it.  I love on him a minute letting him know I understand then quickly try to get his mind off of it after letting him know how great he did.  For him calling his dad and telling him all about it always makes everything better.

Now he complains of his legs hurting and wants me to hold his hand for a minute to make him feel better.  It's one of the sweetest things.  He is growing so fast and has such a unique personality.  I think every mom struggles with how to tell their kids things.  Obviously a doctor visit and shots is a small stepping stone to the many other much more important bigger conversations we will have but I think it's important to let Grant know I will tell him the truth even when he may not like it.  I don't ever want him to feel like I won't give him the whole story.

 I think sometimes we under estimate our kids and what they can handle because we so desperately want to protect them.  This trip reminded me how quickly Grant is growing up and how important it is to start early talking to him, explaining things, and discussing things.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Black Bean & Rotel Burritos

Today I made Black bean and rotel burritos for dinner.

 They are an easy meal to whip up in a hurry.  They are meatless so you save a little money (which is usually why I make them), and they are good.  Or at least my husband and son like them, I'm not a fan of beans.

Ok I hate beans, with a passion, their texture is disgusting to me but I like to be nice to my husband and make him bean filled dishes because he and my son love them.

I got the original recipe from the Fix it and Forget it cookbook but of course had to alter it a little.

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can Rotel
1 can whole kernel corn
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 green pepper chopped
1T olive oil
rice (cooked according to package directions)
tortilla shells

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic, and green pepper.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add black beans, Rotel, and corn.  Heat through. 
Once heated take a tortilla, put as much rice as you like, then add the black bean/Rotel mixture.  Wrap it all up and enjoy. 
This recipe (without the rice and tortillas) freezes really well too.  I almost always have too many leftovers so I always freeze 1 or 2 meals worth for future use. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Embroidered Christmas Card

Ok so actually this card isn't completely finished but I'm so excited with how the front has turned out with the embroidery that I had to share, I couldn't wait until it's finished.

I saw some embroidered Christmas cards when doing a google search awhile back.  I was trying to decide how to make my cards this year and couldn't quite figure anything out.  I saw the embroidered and thought they looked classic and simple but really wanted to use my Cricut like I did last year.  Last year I made reindeer, Christmas tree, and sleigh cards with my Cricut.  I just couldn't find anything that was working for me this year.  Every idea I had didn't turn out right after I cut the images and started laying them out.  Of course when I told my husband this his response was "why don't you just go to the store and buy them?", silly Derrick, he should know better right? haha

I searched for free embroidery patterns online and found these snowflakes.  They looked simple enough and I found this youtube video on embroidering cards.  Of course I didn't do it how they said to because I have to do things my way, but it still worked so I'm gonna say my way was the right way.

Here is my unfinished card:

Ok so I don't feel like I normally brag on myself but isn't this awesome!

I love it! So much so that I really don't want to give it away to anyone haha.  I don't have all the knots and strings covered on the inside and as you can tell there are no words yet on the front.  I can't decide what I want it to say and if I want to use my Cricut, computer, or embroider the words too. 

I have to say when I started poking the holes for the design and sewing my first few stitches I thought, "there's no way I'm gonna want to do this 10 more times, this takes forever."  But once it was finished I wanted to start on my next one immediately.  Of course it was almost midnight, so I refrained but I'm super excited about sending them and this makes me want to embroider other cards for Mother's Day and birthdays.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Once a Month Shopping- Oh the Freedom

I have to say that even though I've only been a OAMS for a week, I am loving the freedom.  As I've said before I have been an avid couponer for 3 years.  I swore by it and for 3 years it was the only way I could keep our minimal $30 grocery budget working for us.  However if there is one thing I have learned over time it's to know when something is no longer working for us and make a change.  That's where OAMS came into play and I feel free.  Don't get me wrong I still coupon.  I have my favorite coupon sites I still check once a day for the best deals but knowing my weekly menu plan and grocery shopping doesn't depend on it is freeing to the extreme.

There was a time when grocery shopping was actually fun for me.  You read that right, I said FUN.  I loved Sundays because the grocery ads would be at my door and I loved seeing what amazing deals I could get that week.  I loved going to the store with my stack of coupons and seeing how much I saved.

I still love seeing how much I save when I use coupons but I  love that if the sales for that week aren't great it doesn't matter to me because I already have everything I need for my family to eat for the month.  I love not having the pressure every Friday or Saturday to have to go to the store, that even if there are good sales I don't have to go to the store if I don't want to.  It's an amazing feeling after years of shopping weekly, fighting for the deals, ordering coupons, etc.

Last weekend was a perfect example.  There were some great sales with coupons at my local Kroger.  Some of them so good, I was kicking myself for already having done my shopping.  As the week went on I had a mental list of a couple things I knew I was gonna have to go to the store for, milk and bread.  They also had Rotel for a great price with coupons, all of $0.22 a can.  I bought 4 of these for my OAMS trip on the previous Saturday and a lot of my recipes call for it so I knew I had to pick a few of these up as well.  As for all the other "Great Deals", it was actually really nice knowing I didn't have to go get them.  Normally I would be preparing a list over a couple days, searching online for coupons to purchase, getting to the store to find out they were sold out of most items anyway, and inevitably pure frustration would ensue as my meal plan for the following week would be ruined because I couldn't get the food with coupons I had planned. 

I don't have to worry about that!!!!  It's awesome!

Now don't get me wrong, I will be a little irritated if the Rotel isn't stocked, because we use it so much, and if the mac & cheese I can get for free with coupons isn't there.  But it's nice to know I can just get a rain check for those items and move on without having to rethink my entire meal plan for the next week.  It's nice to know it's not a big deal this week or any other week during this month.  This is one of the perks of going from an avid weekly couponer to OAMS.

It's also great knowing my weekly small trip to the store for milk and bread is just that, a small trip.  I have spent so many weeks and hours planning my Friday or Saturday shopping trips of 4+ stores, making meal plans, and sorting/clipping/organizing coupons that when Friday rolls around now, I am free to sleep in if I want (that is, if Grant will actually let me sleep in) because I don't have to go on a big shopping trip.  Instead I can spend that time doing something I enjoy, relaxing.

My hope in starting my OAMS adventure was to simplify my life and I think this just may do the trick.  I'm already starting to feel less stressed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Changes

Normally when July rolls around I start thinking about Christmas gifts.  Like any crafter I start planning what I'm going to make for everyone, because as other crafters know you have to start early in order to have the time to get everything made.  This year I am on a whole different page.  I have not one desire to make anything outside of the few items I have in mind for Grant.  This is so not me!

The past few years we have bought/made for over 20 people, not including Grant and my husband and I (if we buy for each other).  Last year I think we hit our max at 27 people and I'm sorry but that's just CRAZY.  I love giving gifts and I love making things for people but at some point we have to say enough is enough.  Instead of being excited this year I was filled with dread.  Dread at the idea of having so many late nights sewing, dread at the thought of trying to fit 20 some gifts into our tiny budget, dread at the thought of trying to figure out what the heck to buy/make for each person that they wouldn't throw out the next day, dread at all of it.  For a crafter it really stinks to put your time, energy, and money into a gift you lovingly made only to have the recipient be lackluster about it, or it not fit properly because the wrong size was given, and I just don't want to deal with that this year.

I'm a firm believer that Christmas is not a time to feel dread in any way, shape, or form, so I said no more.  It was fine when it was just my husband and I buying for parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, bosses, co-workers, etc, etc.  But now we have a nearly 3 year old and one on the way and it's time to downsize, and get back to the way Christmas should be.  I want to focus on Grant being 3 this Christmas and the upcoming arrival of our second little one, and not put extra energy into the 20 something gifts I "should" buy for everyone we know.

Since having Grant I have thought a lot about what I want Christmas to be like for him, and my husband and I have decided we would rather it be about the experiences of the season than what Santa (and everyone else) is bringing him, and that this time of year should not be filled with stress which inevitably leads to an argument here and there.  When I think of Christmas I don't think of what someone got me I think of decorating the tree, baking cookies with my Mom, and visiting for hours with my grandparents sitting on the living room floor.  There are very few gifts we remember throughout the years so I don't want that to be our focus.  Life goes too fast and we never know what the next year holds and who will still be with us.  We have to take this time to make memories not stress ourselves out by buying gifts for everyone we know, stretching ourselves too thin, and regretting it come January when we are having a hard time making our bills on time. 

 For our families we are buying for just our parents and for the last couple years we have started doing couple gifts instead of 1 per person.  I am elated with thoughts of only having to come up with and buy 3 gifts other than Grant's.  A huge weight is lifted off my shoulders and I feel free.  Free to enjoy the holidays, stress free!

One thing that's always difficult is our parents pretty much have everything and are getting more and more difficult to buy for.  My solution is memories, especially for Derrick's parents since they don't get to see Grant on a weekly basis, photos are the best gifts.  From July on I start watching for coupon codes through Shutterfly,com for free photo books.  You can always find them and this year I also found a code for a free 12 month photo calendar which is perfect for my mom.  I bought both of these items in the same order and only paid shipping costs which totaled a little less than $15!  That's 2 gifts for 4 people for about $7 each.  For my Dad and his wife I happened to get an email from snapfish.com for a free photo book.  I of course jumped right on it and the shipping was only $1.99!  Now its the end of August and I have all 3 sets of our parents gifts bought and paid for for under $18.  Which means Grant is all we have left, and I feel pure excitement.  I can't wait to have a date night with my husband to go shopping for his gifts.  We have never gotten to do that before.  It's always picking things up here and there, having to search for the best deals due to our budget.  But this year I know we can splurge a little on just our little guy because we have no one else to worry about.  It's wonderful and definitely a first for us.

I finally have time to make the stockings, advent calendar, and other little Christmas items I usually don't have time to make because I'm too busy worrying about making everyone's gifts instead. 

Stay tuned for those posts, they will be coming soon!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Felt Ninja Turtle Costume Tutorial

I posted here about the Ninja Turtle costume I made my son and like most things I make him, I had to make one for my niece as well.  I originally wanted to make her Donatello, or he purple turtle, but when I realized I only had red felt and no purple I figured it was better to go with red so I wouldn't have to buy any extra felt.

I used the same measurements for my 3 year old son and my 2 year old niece.  The shoulder pieces were 2.5 inches wide with a 5.5 inch opening for the neck.  The width of the body of the costume was 14 inches, the length was 16 inches.  This size fit my 3 year old perfectly and was a little big on my niece, but this just means she will have some growing room in it.  It wasn't falling off of her or anything so in my world it fit perfectly, lol.

I didn't do any measurements for the arm holes I just made them as long as I thought they would need to be for easily taking the costume on and off.  I think, when in doubt make them a little bigger.
 I used an 8x12 piece of tan felt to cut the stomach of the turtle.  I didn't use a pattern, just cut it in what I thought was the right shape.
To give it some dimension I cut a piece of quilt batting to go underneath the tan piece of felt.  I stitched the layers of the green body, tan stomach piece, and quilt batting in the same pattern as the Ninja turtles on tv.
I cut a piece of 2inch wide brown felt for the belt.  I stitched it to one shoulder at an angle, then pinned it down and stitched the yellow buckle in place going through all the layers of felt,
I kept the shoulder strap not sewed down until I got the waist belt in place and stitched, this way I knew for sure how long the shoulder strap needed to be.  After the waist belt was stitched down trimmed the shoulder strap.
Next I an extra strip of green felt to either side of the body pieces (right sides together).  This is just so the costume hangs easily and moves freely.  You don't want it to be in any way restricting.
 For the shell I cut a random oval shape, cutting 2 pieces of quilt batting to make it more dimensional.  For Grant's costume I used some polyfil I had in my stash to make his more rounded.  The I stitched the layers together in the shell design I could remember from the cartoon.  It's far from perfect but Grant knew what it was and that's all that matters.
I didn't sew the whole shell onto the back of the body piece.  Instead I placed it where I wanted and stitched it by hand in 4 different spots.  Add the shoulder strap by sewing it to the shoulder and stitch the waist belt on either side and to connect the shoulder belt to the waist belt.
Now stitch the front and back body pieces, right sides together, at the shoulders.
For the masks I made them about 5- 5 1/2 inches wide and freehanded the shape of an eye mask.  I cut one out in green felt and the other, slightly smaller out of colored felt.  I stitched both together then cut out the eye holes.  I attached a 1 inch wide tie to either side.
And there you have it a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume!  These types of costumes are great for dress up play around the house which is what I originally made them for, however they are also great for Halloween.  They are easy to have multiple layers underneath and kids can move freely in them.  Grant decided to wear his for trick or treat and he had a long john thermal shirt, a sweatshirt, and a jacket all underneath his and it still fit well enough that he could run like a Ninja Turtle from one house to the next.
Grant won't hardly take his costume off and he and Sophie ran around my mom's house like ninja turtles when I put them both in the costumes.  So score one for mom!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Once A Month Grocery Shopping 1st Trip & Monthly Meal Plan

A little warning about this post, it's long, like really long, I just thought I should put it all in one instead of breaking it up into a few different ones, so enjoy:

In my dream world I would have gone on my big once a month shopping trip all by my lonesome and been in and out without questions or extra items "magically" appearing in my shopping cart.  Of course this is not my dream world so I assumed my son would be with me since my husband would normally be asleep when I go to the store in the mornings, and I was ok with that, then my husband happened to wake up early and decided he would go too.  This could be good or bad, but figured I should make the best of this "family time".  Plus I knew he would be a big help keeping Grant entertained.

I had a long list and 4 stores to go to in one morning.  The stores I shopped at were Aldi (which is where the majority of my items came from), Carnival Foods, Kroger, and Giant Eagle.

Here is my crappy cell phone pic of all our groceries:
The only items missing from this pic were the 5 dozen eggs, 5.26lbs ground beef, 5lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, 1qt half & half, toilet paper, dishwater detergent, and a large tub of margarine.
It took us 2 hours to go through all 4 stores, which was really surprising to me because it normally takes me about an 1 1/2-2 hours to do a weeks worth of grocery shopping at multiple stores.  So if this works out and we decide to continue with OAMS I will definitely be saving some serious time that I'd rather be spending with my family doing something fun, not grocery shopping.
In doing all my research of other people who do OAMS I was always curious what they ended up buying during their large monthly trip.  They always included how much they spent overall but it was hard for me to grasp what all they bought because most of their spending was much more than what I had planned to spend.   So I thought I would share a little run down of what I bought.  If this is not at all interesting to you, feel free to skip down a few lines lol.
 Aldi $56.83
  • 1 bag pretzels (snacks for the kiddos) $1.29
  • 1 box graham  crackers (snacks for kiddos) $1.39
  • 1 grape jelly $1.59
  • 1 ranch dressing $1.39
  • 4 dozen eggs $0.99 each
  • 1 baking powder $0.99
  • 1 box corn starch $0.89
  • 4 boxes stick margarine $0.75 each
  • 1qt half and half $1.59
  • 16oz shredded cheese $2.99
  • 3 pkg tortilla wraps $0.99 each
  • 1 small jar olives $0.99 (this was not an item on my list but an add-in per my husband)
  • 4 cans generic Rotel $0.59 each
  • 2 cans condensed tomato soup $0.59 each
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup $0.59
  • 2.04lbs Bananas $0.42/lb
  • 1lb bag mini carrots $0.69
  • 6lbs onions $1.29 each
  • 5lbs boneless skinless chicken breast $1.89/lb
  • 2 loaves bread $0.85 each
  • 1 pkg hamburger buns $0.89
  • 1pkg hot dog buns $0.89
  • 1 liquid dishwasher detergent $2.49
  • 1-45oz tub margarine $1.89
  • 2 boxes saltine crackers $0.95 each
  • 1 box onion soup mix $0.79
  • 4lbs brown sugar $1.19 each
  • 1 large container oatmeal $2.29
Carnival Foods $35.02
  • 5lbs+ Ground beef $2.69/lb
  • 1 dozen eggs w/coupon $0.88
  • 20lbs flour $1.49 for each 5lb bag
  • 20lbs sugar $1.89 for each 4lb bag
  • 2-46oz tomato juice $1.00 each
  • 8lbs russet potatoes $0.98
Kroger $19.29
  • 1 small pkg Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix Free with downloaded coupon
  • 4 gallons Milk $2.73each
  • 2-64oz bottles Sunny D juice
  • 1 bottle Hawaiian Punch Aloha Morning $1.19 w/ downloaded coupon
  • 2 boxes Barilla pasta $0.45 each with coupon
  • 1pkg Eckrich hot dogs $1.00
  • 2 banquet freezer meals (another husband add-in item)
Giant Eagle $15.20
  • 2-32oz Coffeemate Coffee creamer $1.50 each with coupon
  • 2-64oz Welch's juice cocktail $0.50 each with coupons
  • 24 double rolls Angel Soft toilet paper $8.89 with coupon
Total Spent a little over $126.  I still need to go to the dollar tree for black peppercorns and a 2lb bag of tator tots.  However I know if I buy tator tots now they will be long gone before I need them for my planned meal.  The total of my shopping trip freaked me out a little because it's $6 over what I was budgeting for the entire month.  Of course as I mentioned before we were going over that budget by the second half of the month it just didn't seem like much because it was in separate purchases.
As you can see by the list above I didn't purchase many items with coupons.  There were some ok sales with coupons this week on items I could have purchased. In making my monthly meal plan and thinking about not only dinner meals but also at least 2-3 breakfasts (for the days I babysit), snacks, and a few lunch ideas for variety, I decided I would start making more things from scratch.  Items like biscuits, corn bread, muffins, quick breads, pizzas, etc, are all things I want to keep ingredients on hand for so I don't need the help of Pillsbury Grands or mixes to make them.  Since I'm a stay at home mom and it's getting colder out, which means I leave the house less, I might as well take full advantage of my time and do from-scratch baking and cooking.

Because we don't have space in our apartment for a deep freezer I was not able to buy enough milk and bread to last us the month so those items I will have to buy weekly in a smaller shopping trip.  I'm also a little concerned about snack foods.  I try not to keep much "junk" food like chips, Little Debbie cakes, candy, etc in the house.  For one I don't want the temptation for me to eat them but Grant and my Husband don't need them either.  I used to think Grant needed something sweet for snacks, where I got this in my head is beyond me, and I've come to the conclusion recently that fresh fruit, crackers, pretzels, and similar items are what I'm going to keep on hand and if he doesn't want them then he must not be very hungry in the first place.  As for my husband, I fully look for him to randomly buy the junk I try to steer away from but I'll just have to deal with that I guess, haha.

Before making my monthly meal plan I did an inventory of my pantry, freezer and fridge, writing down everything we had.  I tried to come up with as many meals as possible with just those items then I went through my cookbooks and made a master list of all the recipes we have eaten and like, as well as many recipes we haven't tried but that I've wanted to make.  I saved this list to my computer for easy access when meal planning.  Once I decided on the meals I wanted I wrote down what was needed for each one adding as I went so I would know what to buy.  It was by far the longest grocery list I've ever made.

Here is my Monthly Meal Plan:
November 2-8
Saturday 2-Sloppy Dawgs with potato wedges
Sunday 3-Chili
Monday 4-Chicken Quesadillas with Mexican rice with homemade salsa Tuesday 5-Biscuits & Gravy
Wednesday 6-Turkey Franks with mac & cheese & green beans
Thursday 7-grilled pork chops (freezer) roasted potatoes/corn/biscuits
Friday 8-leftovers

November 9-15
Saturday 9-deer roast (freezer)with carrots, potatoes, corn bread
Sunday 10-chicken Enchilada Soup
Monday 11-fried eggs/fried potatoes/biscuits
Tuesday 12-Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread
Wednesday 13-Meatloaf mashed potatoes/ green beans
Thursday 14-Chicken fried rice
Friday 15-leftovers

November 16-22
Saturday 16-Hamburgers with tator tots
Sunday 17-Tomato soup with grilled cheese
Monday 18-black bean tomato soup with rice and tortilla shells
Tuesday 19-Sausage bean soup (leftovers in freezer)
Wednesday 20-BBQ ribs (freezer), corn, corn bread
Thursday 21-Poor man’s steak, roasted potatoes, broccoli
Friday 22- leftovers

November 23-30
Saturday 23-chicken pot pie
Sunday 24-Deer Stew with biscuits
Monday 25-Onion/pepper omelets, toast, fried potatoes
Tuesday 26-Meatballs with meat gravy deviled eggs green beans buttered bread
Wednesday 27-Spaghetti with garlic breadsticks
Thursday 28-Thanksgiving
Friday 29-Leftovers
Saturday 30-Thanksgiving 2

I have my meals dated just to make it easier for me.  I'm not really picky about what we eat and when since I like all the meals I have listed, however if for some reason the meal I have written in for that specific day doesn't work for some reason I can easily switch the meals around.
There are a few things I have recipes posted for already and I included those links, I'm hoping I'll be able to post recipes for the other meals as I make them.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pioneer Woman's Applesauce

I love looking up recipes online but every time I find one I always wonder if it's actually as good as the person who wrote it says it is.  Most cases it's delish as promised, however there have been a few things I've made, so excited about how great they would taste, that ended up bleh.

I can almost always count on Pioneer Woman to have amazingly great tasting recipes, I actually haven't had one fail me yet and I've tried my fair share.  The other day I was randomly perusing her website when I saw homemade applesauce.  It had honestly never really occurred to me to make my own applesauce but since apples were at an all time low of $0.39/lb at one of my grocery stores I thought "why not?".  Plus I need some more guilt free evening snacks, and it seemed like the perfect thing to make during this Fall season.

I bought 8lbs of apples but 3 of them wouldn't fit in my pot.

(this picture by far is not great but I took it with my cell phone before I forgot to take one at all)
I used water instead of the apple juice she called for in her recipe because I didn't have any and refused to make an extra trip to the store for it.  I added the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 2 shakes of nutmeg and I have to say these apples smelled heavenly the entire time they were cooking.  I stood over the pot a couple times just to get a wif (I don't at all think that's how you spell that word but you know what I mean).
This applesauce was delicious and now I'm wishing I had tried this ages ago.  Making something like homemade applesauce makes me feel like a pioneer woman and I love it.
I was hoping the recipe would make more and if I were canning or freezing this I would have had to buy more apples but for keeping in the fridge and eating before it goes bad I think there was enough.  This batch, which was a pot full of apples, made 1 quart mason jar, 1 barilla pasta jar, and 1 ragu pasta jar full of applesauce.  I gave one jar to my mom so I'm pretty confident we can finish off the other 2 as snacks and a side dish at meals.
If you have ever contemplated making applesauce you should go buy some apples right this second and start cooking them up.  It's one of the easiest things to make and once you make it the first time you will want your own private stash in mason jars or in your freezer so you never have to go without.
I think this will be a Fall tradition from now on, except with a lot more apples.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

DIY Felt Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume

This is the first year Grant could actually tell me what he wanted to be for Halloween and he chose Mickey Mouse, which was perfect because I like for him and my neice to match (until they get to the age where they can tell me "no mama") and I knew she would love being Minnie Mouse.  About a week before Halloween I bought the fabric for Mickey's pants and as we were walking out of the store I said "now mommy can make your mickey mouse costume for Halloween", to which he responded "I don't wanna be dat". 
Me: "you don't want to be what?"
Grant: "mickey"
Me: "what do you want to be"
Grant: "Ninja turtle"
Me: "uuuhhhh, I just bought the stuff for Mickey so that's what you're gonna have to be, you will like it I promise".

I quickly changed the subject and decided I would look for a Ninja Turtle costume after the holiday on clearance for him to play dress up.

Fast forward to yesterday and I decided to look online at stores to see if they were marking down costumes.  I happened to look at Walmart and they had one for $4.97.  But it wasn't a full body costume it pretty much just went over the shoulders and hung , similar to the style I made of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head last year.  Grant immediately said "I need that, Mama".  I thought about going ahead and ordering it then I thought, heck I could make one that looks like that.  I looked in my stash and saw I had every color felt I needed and thought I'd make him one over the weekend. 

After he went to sleep I just couldn't get the idea out of my head for this Ninja Turtle costume and knew I had to get started on it.  Of course once I got started I had visions of him waking up to this Ninja Turtle dress up outfit and being so excited, so I knew I had to finish it before morning.  It ended up being 12:30am before I was finished (except for a mask because I didn't think about taking down those measurements before he went to sleep). 
It was totally worth the late night and little sleep.  He didn't take it off all day and even wanted to sleep in it.  When he first put it on he immediately started running around like a Ninja Turtle with a huge smile on his face.
I didn't get pictures throughout this process because it was late and I was just winging it the whole time.  Usually when that happens it's pointless for me to photograph it because I end up having to rip out seams and undo and redo so many steps.
All together, start to finish the costume took me about 3 hours.  I'm in the process of making a red Ninja Turtle for my niece so she and Grant can play together.  This one should take me a lot less time, as the second time around making something always does.  Hopefully I'll get some good step by step pics to show anyone who may want to make one for their little guy or girl to play dress up.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Once a Month Grocery Shopping-A New Venture

I have been trying for a couple months to figure out how to handle our grocery budget.  I have had the same budget for about 3 years.  The only problem is my son is growing, while he doesn't eat a lot of different foods (he's quite picky) he eats a lot of fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, milk, and juice.  I also started babysitting another 2 year old 3 days a week so the juice and snacks dwindle faster. I've been having a really hard time sticking within my $30 budget in part because of this, the lack of sales on basics, the increase in food prices, and stores in my area no longer doubling coupons.  It is desperately hard for me to "stock up" on basics like canned tomatoes, canned veggies, flour, sugar, etc, because it seems most of the coupons I've been getting for these items are internet printable (which means I can only print 2, which usually means I can only buy 2 or 4 of the item depending on the coupon). 2 cans of tomatoes will last me about a week and if I'm lucky 2.  So while I might get a fantastic deal on a few cans I don't actually get a huge stockpile that's gonna last me months on end til the next great sale, which is what I have been able to do in the past with couponing.

Milk has also been an issue in our house, making it even more difficult to stay within a $30 budget. We go through about 4-5 gallons a week now and when it's not on sale it's $2.79/gal, that's a max of $14 a week just in milk and when you're trying to work with only $30 and another $10 of it goes to meat purchases, and $2 towards 2 loaves of bread a week (Grant will pretty much only eat peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast), that leaves $4.  Definitely not enough even for this couponer to get everything else we need for a weeks worth of meals.

So I've been looking into changing things up a bit.  Since I have only been going over budget by about $30-$40 a month (so about $10 a week)  I know I don't need to change the amount of money by too much, it's just making that amount work for us without needing more.  I've been looking into once a month grocery shopping and the only thing that's been holding me back is  the couponer in me.  I've helped my mom refine her couponing skills, and taught my aunt how to coupon, it's like it's in my blood now.  I can't bear to pay for toothpaste and paying over $1.50 for shampoo physically pains me.  So naturally this part of me says once a month shopping will never work for me.  It says I will miss out on the great deals and rock bottom prices I typically look for.  I'm fighting that part of myself.

We have a baby coming soon and the idea of grocery shopping with an infant and a 3 year old sends me into a small anxiety attack.  Especially with the idea of how I shop now, meaning the 3-4 stores I go to in one morning.  Getting Grant in and out and keeping him satisfied through each one is proving to be more and more of a challenge.  My patience isn't what it used to be and I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that for both his and my sanity the 3 stores in a single morning, getting a handful of items, and spending hours making and tweaking menu plans and grocery lists only to realize I can't get everything we actually need with our previous budget, is not working and needs changing.  I've seen many woman with 3 and 4 kids at the store, and you are rock stars, I just don't have it in me.

I've been reading how other's do their once a month shopping and I'm trying to figure out how to make it work for me and my family.  I still want to be able to get those stellar rock bottom coupon sales but I want to have the luxury of shopping for the bulk of what we need all in one trip.  Naturally since we live in a 2 bedroom apartment with no room for a deep freeze (oh how I miss our large chest deep freezer) I can't buy enough milk and bread in one trip to last us a month, which means I will have to make at least a weekly trip somewhere to get milk and bread.  But that small 5 minute trip into a store is a lot better than the normal hour or two.  I have noticed my weekly lists have a lot of the same items on it and it's only recently I've decided I'm really tired of shopping for the exact same items every week when I could just buy enough in the beginning of the month to last us until the end.  In the past my attitude has been "maybe that item will be on sale or there will be a great coupon out for it and I can get it cheaper, so I'll just get one this week and cross my fingers for next week".  Buying bulk for the month is one thing that is really difficult to do with a small budget.  Obviously with $30-$40 a week to spend there was no way I could spend $15 on a package of 36 rolls of toilet paper, or $13 on a 25lb bag of sugar.  It was too much of a dent in the budget so I've been buying these items every week to two weeks depending on our use.

So my plan, cuz I always have to have a plan, is to start the beginning of next month by making a monthly meal plan.  I specifically chose November to start this venture because my husband happens to get an extra check so I figure if I royally screw up, we have a little more leeway financially to fix my mistakes.  I also want to start now so if this does work for us I have a few months to master it and get a system down before baby comes, that way my husband will only have to make a small trip to the store for milk, eggs, and bread (Lord only knows what he would end up buying or spending if I sent him to the store with my normal list). 
I have already written down the basics of what we go through in a month.  Those basics being milk, bread, eggs, flour, sugar, toilet paper, and juice.  I wrote down all the meals I've made in the past and a few I've been wanting to try.   I still have to take inventory of our pantry and freezer to find out what we already have and how many of those meals I can make with most of those ingredients.  I'm hoping the list of our "needs" for the rest of the ingredients, and our basics, will be within our budget with enough for some wiggle room for those fantastic coupon sales that pop up throughout the week.

I'm really nervous but hoping this will simplify my life a little, right in time for the holiday season, and eliminate the problem of getting to the end of the month and realizing I have all of $10 left in my budget to buy toilet paper, 3 gallons of milk, 2 loaves of bread, a dozen eggs, and 2 bottles of juice.  I'll let you know how it all goes.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Total Pageviews