Top shelf fun; Bottom shelf prices

So I would like to start by saying hello!!! and thanks for taking the time to read my blog! For those of you that know me, know that I’m always trying to come up with better ways to be a fun mom, but I am also a very cheap person. I like to try to save money in any way I can; from signing up at my favorite gas station to save a few cents per gallon or a free drink, to shopping at Dollar Tree for what I can instead of spending more money at other stores. Even though I AM cheap, I still want to have fun and do projects and make delicious meals but without breaking the bank. As for those of you who don’t know me, well this is going to be an exciting adventure. In this blog we will be exploring cheap (but fun) activities and meals that will have your family in amazement and your bank account happy!

We will be talking about everything from cheap meals and snacks to crafts and projects, and everything in between. Growing up my mom always had fun stuff and projects for us to do, absolutely fantastic meals (that I have found out as an adult were always on a tight budget) and there wasn’t a holiday I can remember that us girls got the things we needed and was always filled with fabulous memories. It’s because of her influence and guidance along with great parenting, is what inspired me to help others (Moms and Dads alike) to see that just because you are not rich doesn’t mean you can’t live like you are. My mom raised me to believe that money isn’t everything, and you don’t have to have a lot of it to still have fun, make memories and live life to the fullest.

During our journey I may go off track a little bit and talk about other things (stuff that interests me or things that bother me), like being a gamer with kids, or date nights, or other random things that have caught my attention, or I may have topic days where I ask you what you would like to talk about or have you pick a project/craft and I do it and talk about the results. I can be scatter-brained at times so having your help and ideas, I feel, will help me give you the reader what you want and help me stay on topics you find interesting and keep you reading.

I appreciate all of your love and support and will try to post at least once a week until I get the hang of how all of this blog stuff works and then maybe will post more often. Thank you again and ENJOY!

           Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If somebody puts you down or criticizes you, just keep on believing in yourself and turn it into something positive.    

  -Leah LaBelle

Camp-cation!

Who likes to go on vacation? I’m assuming you nodded your head or raised your hand. But do you really want to go on vacation and spend a whole lot of money for a few days away from reality? I don’t! Growing up we went camping ALL the time! It was so much fun for me as a kid because it wasn’t like playing outside at home… It was a whole new world to explore. There was always cool things to look at and it brought us closer together as a family. And want to know the best part?!?! It’s SO cheap! Yes you have to spend money on supplies and sometimes the campsite, but it will totally be worth it! Plus it’s cheaper to go camping then to get a hotel room, find things to do, buy food, etc. My mom was a pro when it came to camping trips, she always prepared AWESOME food ahead of time so it wasn’t like normal camping, it was DELUXE CAMPING! There was plenty of times that people in the campsites next to us, who were eating hot dogs, chips and beans, would look over at us eating meatball subs, or chicken fajitas and you could see on their faces that they wished they belonged to our family. I will never forget our camping trips because they always seemed to make the most memories for us. Like the time it rained the whole weekend and we spent all of it in the tent playing card games, bored games, and coming up with some pretty interesting ways to amuse ourselves. Or the time we were playing in the river and my sister started to get taken away on her raft by the current and I swam as fast as I could to save her. Or when we went on a floating trip and ended up all getting so sunburned that none of us could touch anything for a few days, we looked like a lobster family! Growing up my fondest memories were camping with my family, even if we didn’t do much, it was always fun!

There has always been two things that stuck out in my mind when we went camping, the activities and the FOOD! My mom mostly cooked everything ahead of time so we never had “usual” camping food. My favorite was meatball subs! I know it’s kinda odd to think of camping and meatball subs, but they are the BEST together!

Momma’s Italian Meatball Subs

What you’ll need:

1 LB. Low-fat Ground Beef or Turkey Burger

Italian Seasoning (as much as desired)

Can of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Hoagie Rolls of your choice

Grated Parmesan Cheese

How to make it:

  1. In a medium bowl mix together ground beef and Italian seasoning together and make into ball shapes, as big or as small as you want, and put into a pot.
  2. Pour your can of spaghetti sauce over top of the meatballs making sure they are fully covered and simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes, or until there is no pink left in the middle.
  3. Remove from sauce and let cool for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Put meatballs in a gallon freezer bag, with enough sauce in the bag to slightly cover the meatballs, and set aside until fully cooled.
  5. Once cooled place in freezer until you go camping then throw it in the cooler until ready to eat.
  6. Take your meatballs and place in pot over the fire until fully hot.
  7. Place meatballs on the hoagie roll and sprinkle with your grated parmesan cheese
  8. Enjoy!!!

I loved it when we went camping and had these wonderful subs. It was so yummy and delicious and really easy/fairly cheap to make. You can also make these at home as well and skip steps 5-7 and no need to let them cool for 20-30 minutes because you’ll be eating the immediately. Another thing my mom used to make was chicken fajitas. With this one you can make anyway you like but if you don’t know how to make them here’s the easy way.

Easy to make Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut across into strips
  • 1 pack fajita seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large onions, slivered
  • 3 bell peppers (one each of green, yellow, and red is prettiest, but not essential), slivered
  • 12 fajita-size flour tortillas, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed on fire for 1-2 minutes
  • Salsa and sour cream for serving (optional)

How to make it:

1.Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken strips and cook, stirring a couple of times, until almost cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Add half of fajita seasoning and water, mix well, and let chicken finish cooking. Transfer chicken to a bowl; set aside.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet until hot. Add onions and peppers; cook, without stirring, until tender and some caramelized brown bits begin to show up in pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir; add garlic and remaining fajita seasoning. Let cook about 2 more minutes. Stir vegetables into seasoned chicken. (Or serve the vegetables separately.)

3.Serve the fajita mixture on warm tortillas with salsa and sour cream on the side, if using.

The only thing I recommend is use same methods as for the meatball subs as far as cooling process/freezing process goes. Something else that’s quick to pre-make is tacos… this is super easy to make and if you don’t know how to make taco’s here’s a quick run down… Brown up hamburger, add taco seasoning, let cool, put in freezer bag, freeze, pull out when ready to go and enjoy.

Something else we always did when we went camping, is my mom always brought baby carrots, cut celery sticks, assorted fruits, etc. So whenever us kids were snacky we had something not only yummy but healthy as well to munch on. It was always nice to be able to just grab a veggies bag and a little pre-made ranch cup and have a good snack. And of course another great thing to bring on any type of camping trip is sandwiches. I recommend either spending the extra few bucks on the zippered lunch meats and cheeses and/or put them into Ziploc bags so water from the cooler doesn’t get into the food.

Another thing my mom, did which was so awesome, is eggs in a bag! The thing about eggs in a bag is that there is no limit to the possibilities of yumminess that can be made! So you can put whatever you want in here… Just like an omelette! We put peppers, onion, meats, cheese, mushrooms, ETC. Anything that sounds good for us at the time, or whatever we have from leftovers or specifically for the eggs in a bag. So I could just explain how to make it but I think it looks better like this:

Eggs in a Bag

What you’ll need:

  • 2  eggs per person
  • 1  freezer ziploc quart bag
  • Whatever fillings you want (Meats, cheese, veggies, etc.)

Preparation

Boil large pot of water. Crack 2 eggs into ziploc bag. Add your ingredients. Close bag, but leave some air in the bag. Mush up your eggs until mixed well. Put bag into boiling water. Boil for 10-12 minutes. Open bag, and release on to plate. Enjoy!

If you are serving more than one person, use a Sharpie Permanent Marker and add each persons name to there respective bags.

Now from experience you NEED to buy the actual Ziploc Bags, not the knock off brand. When we used the knock off brand bags, they melted in the boiling water and it was a big mess. But it was pretty funny and it was another memory that I have that won’t ever forget. As I was looking for other good recipes I found this website, with TONS of yummy recipes!!!!

I understand if sometimes it is hard to go away from the house with little ones but you can ALWAYS do this in your backyard or make a fort inside and build a small fire outside to make it feel more like your camping, just make sure to follow all of your city requirements for fires. It’s always fun to go camping and explore new areas and hike or do small things around town/in nature. I love being outside and enjoying the fresh air, and that’s something that we loved to do growing up. Not only because it’s fun and helps bond as a family, but it also is fairly cheap and nature and family time is free. We can’t always spend a lot on family vacations but it’s not about the price tag… it’s about the treasure of exploration and family. Always remember; just because you are broke, doesn’t mean you can’t live good! 🙂

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.
-Bradley Whitford

Date Night. Why spend the money?

If you are anything like my hubby and I, we like the idea of date night more than going out and having a date night. Mostly because I’m such a tight wad when it comes to spending extra money we don’t have to, why spend a whole lot of money on a night away from the kids or even just to have a special night together. Over my many years of being a penny pincher and not wanting to spend a whole lot of money on one night, that will end up being over with, spending way to much money and not really getting much out of it. So it’s pretty obvious that the outdoor things you can only do when it’s nice outside but some of them can be done inside as well. Now you can’t always have a free date night but with crafty thinking you can always do it for as cheap as possible, that’s my philosophy at least.

Let’s talk about staying in dates first, mainly because they cost the least to do and if you are homebodies like us, you won’t have to deal with the outside world by staying home but you can still have an awesome date night! Okay the only thing that is a MUST is that you NEED to get rid of the kids! The only reason I say that is because some people feel like since they are home they don’t need the kiddos to go anywhere, THIS IS NOT THE POINT OF DATE NIGHT! The main point of date night is to have a night to yourselves, ergo don’t have kids because it’s not date night because you’re not away from the kids and you aren’t alone. But I will digress on that matter, Now let’s get down to business and talk about fun at home dates.

One of my favorites that I have found in my research for dates is the living room camp-out date. It’s super easy to do, and i don’t care how old you get, a pillow/blanket fort is always fun! So it’s really up to the both of you what exactly you want to do, but my perfect camp-out date would start by setting up the “tent”(if you would rather use an actual tent and do this outside you can) by getting all of the pillows and blankets you will need and clear out a space big enough for the both of you. We decided to grill some hot dogs on the grill and a side of chips and then made homemade s’mores (you can do this the same way you make them over a fire except you can use tea light candles or a grill). I really like this because it can turn into a very, dare I say, intimate moment/activity. Now with me and my hubby cuddled and watched movies, but there is tons of other activities that you can do if you don’t want to turn on the TV but like I’ve said before it’s your night do as you wish, I’m just here to help you with ideas on how to not to spend a lot of money.

Another one of my favorite home dates is cooking or baking together. You can make it even more fun by going to the store and each take $10 and go separate ways in the store(without talking about what to get ahead of time) and meet back in the car then try to make a dinner with the combined ingredients together. This is fun because you both get to brainstorm over dinner and make it together. The only rule(mainly for the ladies that have control issues over the kitchen like I do) is don’t get upset or aggravated if things get done “wrong” or it doesn’t work out the way you wanted/thought it would. There are TONS of things you can do as far as kitchen dates; make a pizza, bake a dessert from scratch, make chocolate dipped fruit(strawberries, cherries, bananas, ect), have a themed dinner(Italian, Chinese, Mexican, ect) and I’m sure that you can find many more kitchen date ideas on the internet if you don’t like my ideas.

I’m not sure about in other families but in mine we color ALOT! So why not make it fun? My hubby and I are very competitive people, so we like to make a game and turn it into whoever looks the best makes dinner. You can use this in pretty much any competitive activity, again my hubby and I have played video games (shout out to all my Call of Duty friends) and have played against each other and loser makes dinner.

Something else that can be fun to do for a date night, or afternoon project together, is pick a DIY project to do. It can be anything really, just as long as you are working on it together and you are having fun! My hubby and I haven’t done this yet but I absolutely LOVE this idea!!! Somethings that I think would be some fun little projects to do are:

There are lots of other at home dates that can be fun but I don’t feel like they need much explaining so I’m just going to go down my little list and let you see which ones you would like to do:

  • Learn a new game
  • Work out together (at home or at facility)
  • Watch funny Youtube videos together
  • Read Shakespeare together (or any book but I find Shakespeare romantic at times) 😉
  • Binge watch TV series
  • Whipped Cream fight
  • Play Strip Twister (Intimate twist on the game, whoever messes up strips)
  • Write your kids a book together
  • Put together a puzzle
  • Pillow fight
  • Massage night (give each other sensual massages, I recommend men first for obvious reasons)
  • Youtube dance lessons
  • Wine & Scrabble night
  • Make a mixtape (or playlist)
  • Play “Would you rather?” together (My hubby and I play this regularly)
  • Movie Marathon
  • Learn a new skill together

There are plenty of at home dates that are super easy and fun that can become very romantic and intimate. I know that sometimes the littlest thing can turn a moment from normal everyday moment into an intimate moment, but it’s hard to follow through with urges whenever there is always little eyes and ears watching. So why not have those moments and follow through with them. Why not make chocolate covered fruit and lick the chocolate off of each others fingers? Or be playful and have a flour fight while baking a cake? Or be clumsy while doing dance lessons or twister and fall on each other? There are lots of little things that can turn an ordinary moment into a very sensual, intimate one. Make the most of these little moments while you’re alone, because once the kids are back you can’t do it when it feels most natural. 😉

Now of course you don’t always want to stay home so I have found some other dates that are cheap but will get you out of the house but will cost next to nothing (if anything)!

  • Go on a walk in a downtown area
  • Go swimming or hot tubbing (I recommend renting a hotel room)
  • Have karaoke night
  • Go to a museum
  • Volunteer together
  • Go skating or ice skating
  • Rock climbing
  • Go window shopping
  • Visit a random city
  • Go hiking
  • Have a picnic and watch the sunset
  • Play mini golf or laser tag
  • Visit a farmers market
  • Go to a local concert
  • Go to a car show
  • Stargaze together
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Watch sunrise then make breakfast together
  • Visit the planetarium
  • Go to an art gallery
  • Visit yard sales
  • Go out dancing
  • Go to shooting range
  • Ride Go-carts
  • Go to an arcade
  • Play frisbee
  • Go kayaking
  • Go horse back riding
  • Go to a national park
  • Go bowling
  • Visit a haunted site
  • Go out for coffee and donuts
  • Visit a flee market
  • Have a photo shoot
  • Go to the Zoo
  • Go fishing
  • Play a sport
  • Free outdoor concert
  • “Mini-Date”- Do everything mini! (mini golf, mini pizzas, mini smores, ect)
  • Goodwill challenge- Go to goodwill and pick out an outfit for the other person with $10 and you each wear it for the rest of your date
  • Dessert date- have dinner at home then go out for a dessert either to share or each get one.
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Go play pool at a pool hall

There is so many more cheap dates that you can go on but these are my favorites. You can also go onto your city’s website and most of them have a calendar that has upcoming events in the community that can be a fun way to explore something new and different. There is always a way that you can have fun without breaking the bank, and most of the time they will bring you closer together because you wont be worrying about money in the back of your mind the whole time, you’ll be focused on each other. I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and I hope you utilize it for some FABULOUS adult time. 😉  And as always, Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t live good! 🙂

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
-Christopher McCandless

Kids just want to have fun

With summertime right around the corner, it means a lot of things for parents including tons of free time and kids using the line “I’m bored!” multiple times a day. Yes you can cure it with going to the pool or playing outside in the yard but that will only go so far into to summer before they get bored again. This is why I have decided to spend some time talking about what we as parents can do to counteract the boredom before it begins. In doing my research about what we can do to stop the summertime blues, I have found a verity of projects and games but not all are suitable for every age group so just keep in mind how old your child(ren) are whenever you are doing these projects, for their safety of course. If you feel like your child can handle a bigger project, then try it and see how it goes. I’m going to go through a few projects for all ages on how to beat the boredom and the heat.

Fun for the whole family

So here are some projects that I feel like every member of the family can enjoy and take part in, and as always feel free to put your own twist on things I have just put it down to the basics and leave it up to you on how you want to proceed. And I will say that for some of these I think it would be more fun to do in teams but again, however you feel.

  1. “Bored Jar”- We all know those famous words coming out of your family’s mouth. So if you are anything like me and don’t want to ever have to hear your kids whine and moan about how bored they are, here is your simple solution! Now if you want to get fancy with it you are more than welcome to, but I would go to the local Dollar Tree or Dollar General and pick up a mason jar and deck it out with “Bored Jar”. Something else i have seen is the same concept but instead of paper its colored Popsicle sticks in a fancy jar.  Then have each member of your family write down (help the little ones) a few different activities that sound like something fun to do around the house. Examples:
    • Read a book
    • Write in your holiday book
    • Tidy your bedroom
    • Do one job
    • Draw something
    • Draw an animal
    • Draw our house
    • Paint something
    • Watch a movie
    • Make a gift for someone
    • Tidy your desk
    • Make homemade bubbles
    • Have a bubble bath
    • Make cupcakes
    • Play on Moshi Monsters
    • Go on Youtube and search funny things
    • Make homemade Bubbles
    • Make Gloop
    • Make a treasure hunt
    • Make something with a box
    • Story starting – There is a monster in my garden….
    • Story starting – Yesterday I went in a spaceship to….
    • Story starting  – There once was a little girl who liked to skip….
    • Write a story about you.
    • Go to the park
    • Go to the beach
    • Find shapes in clouds
    • Create a family flag
    • Make a musical instrument
    • Do the recycling
    • Build a time capsule
    • Find something in your house that starts with every letter of the alphabet
    • Have a picnic – indoor or outdoor. Teddies allowed.
    • Have a scooter race.
    • Play with a toy you haven’t played with in a while.
    • Learn ten words in a different language
    • Play on the trampoline
    • Make homemade play dough
    • Make and decorate paper airplanes
    • Let Dad choose something to do
    • Let Mam choose something to do
    • Walk the dog
    • Make an animal out of the things in the craft cupboard
    • Make something with a box
    • Make a den
    • Play guitar
    • Tidy under your bed
    • Look through the cook books and choose something you can cook us all for tea
    • Build something out of Lego.
    • Make a list of black and white animals.
    • Write three things about every
    • Paint your nails
    • Make a sock puppet
    • Have a bubble bath
    • Play a board game
    • Make a board game of your own
    • Customise your clothes
    • Make something with your buttons
    • Play on the Xbox
    • Play on the wii
    • Draw a picture blindfolded
    • Draw a picture with your feet
    • Make a video
    • Write a poem
    • Google something to make
    • Make a card pyramid
    • Go and collect some stones and make them into bugs
    • Dance to loud music
    • Play on the trampoline
    • Start a club with your friends
    • Tidy craft cupboard
    • Sew something
    • Bake cookies
    • Play out with friends
    • Ride your bike
    • Water balloon fight
    • Wash the car
    • Play with the chalks outside
    • Make a bookmark
    • Make some homemade ice pops
    • Research a time period (Roman, Egyptian, Nordic, Indian, ect) and write down 10 interesting things about it

    This is an easy way to get rid of the summertime boredom blues. and super easy and cheap too!!!

  2. Water gun painting- Not only is this a super easy project but you can also have it set up and ready to go whenever you want to do it.Materials:
    Tempra paint
    Water Guns (Target dollar bin – $1 for 3 or 6 pack at Dollar tree)
    Water
    Canvas (Art supplies stores normally have some good deals on them. Hobby lobby is my favorite)
    Painters Tape (optional)
    drop cloth or old sheetDirections:
    Mix the tempra paint with a little water (a 50/50 mixture).
    Use a measuring cup with a pour spout, or use a tiny funnel, and slowly pour in the paint/water mixture.
    Use the painters tape to make the desired design.
    Go outside and go to town!
    Lay the canvas horizontally and wait for the paint to dry before taking the tape off.
  3. Pool noodle sprinkler- So this is one that everyone in the family can use and play with everyday. It is super easy to put together and can play with for a long time. Puncture the pool noodle randomly around all sides of the noodle. (The more holes, the better.) Leave a few inches from the end of the noodle that you will put the hose in. Stuff the other end, (not the side you will be putting in the hose in), with a plastic cap, then duct tape the end securely. Decide where you would like to use the sprinkler. (Ex: swingset, tree branch, ground, on fence, porch, anywhere really.) Position your hose and then slide the end of the hose into the foam noodle, pushing it in a few inches so it holds securely. Turn on the hose and let the fun begin!!!!
  4. Scavenger hunt (indoors or out)- This is an activity that the whole family can have fun doing and/or making. There are plenty of different ways that you can do scavenger hunts for both indoor and outdoor fun. You can do it by color(having to find things of the same color as the sheet), or letter (everything on the list has to start with the letter on the sheet), or specific things… You can pretty much do anything you want to when it comes to scavenger hunts, and to make it SOOOO much easier for you when it comes time that your kids are bored and want something to do, have some hunts already made up ahead of time so all you’ll have to do is grab one and let your kiddos go at it. One of the easiest and most fun things you can do this summer that can be done time and time again.
  5. Water balloon baseball- with this one I have seen many different variations on how to play but the easiest way i found was on  http://www.sophie-world.com/games/how-play-water-balloon-baseball. You will need: Four hula-hoops or other markers for bases, Buckets of pre-made water balloons, Wiffle ball bat (the fat kind or the regular kind), Paper and pen for scorekeeping.
    Setup:

    1. You will need an ample supply of water balloons for this game. You can fill them ahead of time and store them in a cool place for up to about a week without losing too many to breakage. We store them in 5 gallon buckets, usually about 50 balloons per bucket.
    2. Set up your field like a regular baseball field, using hula hoops for the bases. If you opt to use something else for your bases, just make sure to use something that won’t get wet and slippery for home plate.
    3. Line your group/team up. Keep your teams small (no more than 7 to 10 per team). Only one “team” should play at a time.
    4. Place a bucket of water balloons on the pitcher’s mound. Designate an adult pitcher.

    How to Play:

    The object of the game is to hit all the water balloons pitched. Each balloon that pops is worth a base. Players advance around the bases according to the number of balloons they burst.
    1. Line up your players in order.
    2. Players get three water balloons apiece. The pitcher should toss them underhand to each player in turn. The player scores one base for each balloon that they hit with the bat. If a player bursts all three balloons in a row, they get a home run.
    3. Should a player slightly hit a balloon, but not burst it, that is considered a “foul tip” and they get another balloon. However, once a foul tip has happened, the player is no longer eligible to bat a home run. He or she can get a triple (three bases), but to get a home run the player must solidly hit their three water balloons one after the other.
    4. Play continues with each team member taking their turn and advancing through the bases as in normal baseball.
    5. Have a scorekeeper keep a tally of the runs earned.
    6. Play until you run out of water balloons, or for a designated number of “innings.”
    Additional Rules
    1. If a wild or bad pitch is thrown (this should be determined by the adults, not the players)
    a new balloon will be thrown. This does not count as a “foul tip,” so the player is still eligible for a home run.

    Variations:

    If you have more than one team, you can play one of two ways:
    Version #1: have the first team rotate through their entire team twice, and keep track of their score – then release them to some other activity while the next team bats. Compare scores.
    Version #2: flip-flop teams as in normal baseball. One team bats all the way through, then send them off to do another activity while the second team bats. Keep playing for as many “innings” as you like.

    Tips:

    1. Make sure you have lots of water balloons.
    2. Make sure the water balloons are filled to a good size. Underfilled water balloons tend not to pop.
    3. Make sure to protect water balloons from little hands or you’ll end up with a water balloon fight faster than you can say “splash zone!”
    4. Make sure players stand back from batters so no one gets hit. Players tend to creep up in an effort to get wet!
    5. Make sure you have a designated umpire to determine “foul tips,” “wild pitches,” and bases.
    6. Strikes are strikes; if you miss, you are down that balloon, unless it’s determined it’s a “wild” pitch.
    7. With younger or more inexperienced players, you may want to loosen up on the “three balloons only” rule. It’s nice for everyone to get at least one base.

  6. Hula hoop canopy- These are super easy to make and as long as you have some old sheets laying around your house you will only have to spend a few bucks at the dollar store for your hula hoops and some type of rope or cord to hang it up with. So basically all you do is gather what you will need for the project (Hula Hoop, Sheet (use a king size so that you have plenty of fabric), Twine (or any type of rope/cord), Book Rings, Duct Tape, Scissors and Scotch Tape. After your supplies are together layout the sheet and lay 2-3 inches over the hula hoop and secure with Duck Tape. You could also use a needle and thread if you like and sew it on. Then work your way around the hoop. We used the long side of the sheet so that there was plenty of extra fabric to gather, and Using a small, sharp pair of scissors, poke a hole through the Duck Tape and sheet, creating a spot to thread the twine. Cut a piece of twine about 52 inches long and feed it through the ring, attaching it through the hole you made with the scissors. You may need to wrap the end of the twine with scotch tape so it doesn’t unravel. Tie securely around the hoop on both ends. Now use another long piece of twine to hang the Hula Hoop Tent to the tree or the ceiling if you are hanging it indoors. Last but not least Add a blanket to cover the ground, a pillow and some good books and you have a fun little area to hide away and read for you and/or the kids!
  7. Chalk paint-   1/3 – cup great value cornstarch
    1/3 – cup water
    1 – 2 tablespoons washable paint or
    several drops of food coloring or icing paste
    6 – 8 plastic containers with lids
    various brushes and rollersIn each plastic cup add 1/3 cup cornstarch to 1/3 cup water or whatever equal parts you prefer. Mix to combine.
    Add 1 -2 tablespoons of paint or several drops of food coloring into each cup and stir until your desired color is reached.
    Note: The cornstarch will settle a bit as the paint sits, so give the paints a good stir and have fun.
  8. Backyard Tic-Tac-Toe- There are plenty of different ways to do this one and it all depends on your budget which one you would like to do. The way I like to do it, is go and get a sheet or a shower curtain from dollar store or sometimes you can find them at wal-mart for fairly cheap. Next you will need to make 9 squares with duct tape or paint (in order to look like a tic-tac-toe board). Now all you need is 6 pieces in 2 separate colors (I used Frisbee’s because I can normally find them at dollar tree or dollar general and all you need is 3 of each color). Last thing to do is lay it out and start your tic-tac-toe battles!
  9. “Bulls-eye” sponge game- This one you don’t really need to buy anything because almost every parent has chalk and a few extra sponges( if you don’t have sponges you can buy a 6 pack at the dollar tree for $1). All you have to do after you get your supplies together is draw a bulls-eye on the pavement and a “stand behind” line then let the kiddos go crazy! It’s super fun and so easy to set up.
  10. Hula hoop bubbles- I almost feel like this is pretty self explanatory but I’ll go ahead and lay it out for everyone. All you need for this one is Hula hoop, kiddie pool, and your bubble solution. To make the bubble solution you will need: 5 Gallons of Water
    & 10 Cups of Dawn dish soap (regular not antibacterial) A few helpful tips – Let this solution sit overnight. For some reason this helps.
    – The less foam you make, the better your bubbles will be. Too much foam is the enemy to giant bubbles. Try to keep the splashing to a minimal as it will make the bubbles less effective.  The only thing left to do is put your hula hoop in the solution that you have in the kiddie pool, have someone step in the middle and pull the hoop up around them. It’s a lot of fun for both children and adults!
  11. “Busy Bags”- So with this one I’m going to let you all look at the site I found this idea on because there are so many different ideas and things you can do with this I’ll let you all make your own ideas with this.     http://www.teachingmama.org/busy-bags-101/
  12. DIY Art boxes- With these you will need to determine what your children will get the most use out of the stuff in the box. Now when I thought about making these for the local foster kids fundraiser at christmas time, I went to the Dollar Store and got a plastic shoe box container and then walked down the art isle and added crayons, stickers, markers, coloring books, puzzles, and little games to amuse them. Its super easy and can be used and decorated as you or your kids desire.
  13. Bubble snakes- This one you will need bottle, sock or washrag, rubber band, and bubble solution. What you will need to do is cut off the bottom portion of the bottle and then place it on your washrag or put the sock around the bottle and use the rubber band to tightly secure the rag or sock around the bottom of the bottle, making sure there is no sagging. Now you need your bubbles, and to be very honest I just used the store bought bubbles but you are more then welcome to make your own if you’d prefer. Only thing left to do is dip your blower in the bubbles and use the cap part to blow the bubbles. And Voila!!! Bubble snakes!!!
  14. Balloon paint art- I really like this one because you can use it as gifts or for art in your house. This is something I think is something that every grandma will love because it’s something that the kids made for them and grandma’s LOVE that stuff, or at least mine did and I know my mom will love to get one. This one is definitely will cost you a little more but it is totally worth it! So lets get a supply list together; you will need:  Small balloons &balloon pump(I got both in a kit at the dollar store and Wal-Mart has them as well), Washable Paint, Plastic Darts with metal tips (Amazon has them for $8.49 for 3 Dozen and I also think you can get them at Wal-Mart in the recreational area) , Thumbtacks(Dollar Tree), Canvas (Hobby Lobby has them best prices and verity) or white foam board with white butcher paper taped over it (I think that Wal-Mart has them for $2 or so), Large drop cloth to cover the mess (Old sheet works perfect). So the first thing you’ll want to do is put the mouth of the balloon over your paint container and squirt a small amount of paint. Then take your pump and fill your balloons and twist off to tie. Make sure you are doing this with a large cloth to cover the floor in case a balloon pops! I highly recommend doing this outdoors near a water hose just in case. Next you will want to be in an area outdoor where you can place your drop cloth on the ground, tape your canvas (or in our case a white foam board with white butcher paper taped over it) somewhere that is low enough for kids to throw darts at. So now you will want to attach the balloons with thumbtacks on your canvas in any position to have the paint on your board. Obviously you want to attach the twisted off ends as to not pop the balloons. The only thing left to do now is use your darts and have the kids throw the darts to pop the balloons and make beautiful art! Also its up to you if you want your kids to make a signature on it at the bottom or even stick their hands in the paint at the end and leave a spot open on canvas(I like to designate ahead of time) for their hand prints.
  15. Bubble blower painting- This one is another that you can use for gifts or artwork around your house. This time you will need large painting paper(Wal-Mart or a hobby store will have this), a bubble mixture(I get mine at the Dollar Tree in a 3 pack), bubble wands(normally comes with the bubbles), food coloring, and cups or trays to dip with(I found cups work the best). Making it is easy! All you will need to do is pour a little bubble mixture into each tray or cup – one for each color, and then add a little food coloring to each tray and stir gently – you don’t want to make too many bubbles in your cup because bubbles don’t work so well when the mixture is all bubbly. Then it’s time to blow bubbles! The kids will have a blast and it’s something fun and different to do for a change. In this one I highly recommend after you acquire the paper the Dollar Tree has a verity of sizes of picture frames so you can make the artwork even more special! It’ll be a hit for grandma’s, great-grandma’s, and any family member that loves to get special gifts from the kiddos!
  16. Butterfly garden- I can honestly say that the only time I have ever done this was when I was about 10 in school. Now in saying that I have thought of a way to make it more of a family activity rather then a school project. You can use a mason jar if you would like but in my opinion I think it would be more fun for the whole family to use a small fish tank(yard sales often have them or you may be able to find a small one for pretty cheap at a local store, I do not recommend going to a pet store because you will pay way to much unless you plan on using it for other things). So in order to do this you will need to find caterpillar(s), which you can find around the yard or at a park. If you would like to add a little more educational value to the project, you can have your kids look up the different types of caterpillars and research the butterflies they turn into. Now all you need to do is put leaves and sticks in the bottom for them to eat on and make sure that there is airflow on the top but it still needs a lid so they won’t escape. The only thing left to do is feed the caterpillar(s) fresh leaves every day and clean the cage daily as well. I find this website very helpful in care and keep of your caterpillars and even if you want to keep them once they become butterflies.
  17. Zoo Bingo- I think this one is pretty self explanatory, Bingo is always a fun activity for the whole family and it will also give your kids something that can make a fun day trip into something more exciting! There are so many different ways that you can do it so I just recommend going to google and typing in zoo bingo for kids and looking at the images. You can either print it out from there or get some ideas and make your own… that’s 100% up to you.

There is plenty more crafts, projects, and games that you could have a different one each day, but if I kept going it would probably take days to read. If you like these I can do more project posts like this but only if you want more like this! I hope your family will enjoy these little summertime boredom tricks that will leave your family in amazement on how crafty you are!!! And as always just remember, Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t live good! 🙂

Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.
-Allen Klein

 

Just Ramen?!? I don’t think so!

Lets talk for a second about being broke, not just broke like living paycheck to paycheck but being so broke that you don’t even have money for food. Well I can’t fix that but I have a way that will keep food in your belly and it will still taste good… Have you ever thought about Top Ramen? How many flavors there are? But the more importantly all the things you can do with it! Did you know that there are 18 different types of Ramen? That leaves a world of possibilities for meals. Now I know that when most people think about ramen, it comes to mind of college students who are in the real world for the first time, but it can be SO much more then that! You can do so much with it and probably more then I have even thought about, but you just have stop and think about what you’re working with in your pocket and in your cabinet.

Let’s start out with talking about flavors. Now there are 18 flavors, but two of them low sodium and not all of them are available everywhere, so when choosing your flavor for meals you can use whichever ones are available or sound enticing for your meal. The flavors are the following:

  • Chicken Flavor
  • Chicken Mushroom Flavor
  • Creamy Chicken Flavor
  • Roast Chicken Flavor
  • Picante Chicken Flavor
  • Beef Flavor
  • Sriracha Chicken
  • Picante Beef Flavor
  • Roast Beef Flavor
  • Shrimp Flavor
  • Lime Shrimp Flavor
  • Lime Chili Shrimp Flavor
  • Chili Flavor
  • Chicken Tortilla
  • Pork Flavor
  • Oriental Flavor
  • 35% Less Sodium Chicken Flavor
  • 35% Less Sodium Beef Flavor

So whenever you are needing a quick meal on a tight budget I highly recommend spending a few extra bucks on canned vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, mixed vegetables, canned spinach, beans of all verities, ect) and you can normally find deals on them at your local grocery store for really cheap per can. Just adding a vegetable to your ramen can make it more filling and I personally think it makes it taste better. Next, if you desire, pick a protein. Now if your budget is so tight that you can’t afford to get chicken or ground beef, you can get hot dogs for pretty cheap and what I like to do is cut them in half and put them in the frying pan until they are browned and then cut them up and put them in your ramen.

So since we have talked about living on a really tight budget, let’s now talk about just making some meals with ramen. I have stated before that I am a very cheap person and prefer to make meals that are not only delicious but that don’t cost a whole lot to make but that also feed my family with leftovers for lunch the next day. I have recently come across a few really awesome recipes that don’t cost a lot to make but are actually really yummy when it comes to using ramen. The one that really struck my interest was cheeseburger ramen casserole, and after making it i think it will personally be one of my family’s favorite new meals. It only takes about 30 minutes to make, and only has 8 ingredients. Now before i start going into the recipe i will say for my family i did cut the onion from 1 cup to 1/2 cup because my hubby isn’t fond of onions, but i did add some mushrooms in it and it still tasted wonderful. After i made this i started thinking and i feel that you could also add peppers, and maybe other vegetables if you would like just remember it WILL be sauteed so lettuce and things that wilt probably won’t taste that good but hey if you want to try it go for it.

What you will need:

  • 1.5 LBS ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 (3-OZ) packages of beef flavored ramen noodles
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBSP yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

How to prepare:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 9×13 inch casserole/baking dish with cooking spray (or I took a paper towel with vegetable oil and hand greased the pan)
  2. In a large skillet, saute beef and onion (and if you add more veggies those as well) if around 6-8 minutes or until beef is browned. Stir in water and seasoning packet from the ramen, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add in your noodles and cook for 3 minutes or until noodles are soft and most of the water is gone. Remove from heat and stir in ketchup, mustard, and relish.
  4. Pour into baking dish, sprinkle cheese evenly over the top, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until warmed through with cheese melted.
  5. Remove from oven. Dig in and ENJOY! (WARNING: contents will be HOT so even though it will smell EXTRAORDINARY, wait to cool a little before consumption.)

Another recipe that sounds SOOOOOOO amazing to my family (mostly because we love Asian food) but we have yet to try is Mongolian beef ramen. Now normally I wouldn’t talk about something we haven’t tried yet but I am really excited about this one and it sounds fantastic so I’m going to share it and give and update on how we liked it once we try it. It will take roughly around 40-45 minutes to cook including prep and cook time.

What you will need:

  • 1 LB sirloin steak, sliced against the grain
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (or 3 TBSP minced garlic)
  • 1 TSP minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 3 packages of ramen (any flavor the packets will be discarded or set aside)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame seeds

How to prepare:

  1. Cook ramen according to the package and set aside. Again, DO NOT add in the flavor packet.
  2. In large skillet, or Wok if you have one, on medium-high heat warm up the vegetable oil. Toss beef with corn starch, in a separate bowl, and cook until crispy (roughly 2 minutes per side) then transfer to plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add sesame oil to the skillet and stir in garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute then add in soy sauce, brown sugar, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until mixture thickens (3-5 minutes).
  4. Add broccoli and carrots to the mixture and cover with tight fitting lid, then cook until vegetables are tender.
  5. Return beef to the skillet and stir until completely coated in sauce. then stir in ramen and green onions and garnish with sesame seeds.
  6. ENJOY!!!!!

I know that there are so many more ramen recipes out there but this post would take days to read if I did all of them so for now this is all I will give you but I have a feeling that I will be doing another post in the future that will have more after I have experimented a little more with this topic. I would also like to say thank you to those of you who have been reading this and keeping up and also apologize for not posting this sooner. My life got slightly crazy for a bit but it’s back on track now and will be back to regular posting this Saturday. Again thank you all for your support and remember you are only as broke as your spirit is, so keep your head up and keep pushing forward!!!

Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people.
Tena Desae

Fun 4 kiddos

So on this post I’m going to have multiple ideas for fun with the kids that doesn’t cost much and will have memories your kids will remember forever. One of my favorite memories growing up was the weird but fun projects my mom did with us to keep us entertained. Even if it didn’t work out so well we all still had a good time, like I remember this one time we attempted to make Flubber but it didn’t really turn out the way we wanted BUT my sister and I had a blast with the green gloop that it turned out as and had hours of fun. There was even still some remains of it we couldn’t get off the wall until recently, and it was always a reminder to me of that fun, messy afternoon and its something I will never forget. So remember when you are trying these projects/crafts at home, even if it doesn’t turn out quiet like you planned or if you feel like (this is always my go to when I’m upset about things not working out) you have ruined it; your kids are making memories and having a good time.

As far as projects go I’m only going to go through two today and do more on another post but today we will go through these that aren’t hard to make but will have your kids amused for hours after its made, which, if you’re like me, gives you lots of time to do things that you need to do. I think we will start off with Moon Sand. Now moon sand is one of the easiest to make out of the things we will be talking about today but I will warn you, it gets a little messy when it comes to playing with it so I recommend it to be an outdoor activity or at a table. Coming from experience, it is VERY hard to get out of carpet and will spend more time on clean up then its worth. What you will need:

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • 8 Cups of Flour
  • 1 Cup of Baby Oil

Now if you have littler kids or kids that like to put things in their mouth I recommend the “Taste-Safe” version:

  • Flour
  • Food Coloring
  • Canola (or any other type of vegetable) Oil
  • Bins and scoops or a big mixing bowl

So for moon sand the ratio is 1:8 and with that safe version use 1/4:2 (1/4 cup of oil to 2 cups of flour) for each color you use. Put your oil into different bowls and add around 8 drops of food coloring. I did not try to use food coloring in the first recipe so I’m not sure if it works the same but you are more then welcome to try it… Then using  a whisk mix water and food coloring together well until the coloring broke up into small beads. Since the food coloring I used wasn’t oil based it beaded up but still had beautiful coloring when blended with the flour. I highly recommend keeping out the dye just in case you want to add more once the flour is mixed. Once the oil/food coloring mix is done add in your flour and mix with a fork. Don’t be afraid to add more color to the flour mixture if needed, it will make some spots darker then others but I thought it added to the beauty of the color. After you have all of your colors mixed together, put in a bigger bin (sensory bins/Tupperware storage bin is what I used) and let the kids have at it. I suggest giving them cups, and stuff to make molds with and let them have a blast with it. Like I said earlier, I don’t recommend on the carpet but outside or on flat surfaces it was super easy clean up.

The next project is edible play dough. Now this is something my mom used to do for us and it was so much fun to make and play with, and in doing my research on it I have found out that there are so many different recipes and different ways of doing it (Kool-Aid, marshmallows, ect.) but the easiest one I found to make is Kool-Aid. it has very little ingredients and doesn’t take long at all, the longest part is the cooling process. What you will need for each color you want to make is:

  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 TBSP of canola oil
  • 1/8 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of boiling water
  • 1 Kool-Aid packet

I suggest that you just boil a pot(medium size) of water if you are going to be doing multiple colors, that way you don’t have to keep doing it over and over again.

Mix all of your ingredients together well, and if it is still a bit sticky then and a little flour at a time until you get the normal play dough consistency. If your kids want to help they can just make sure they know its going to be hot and needs time to cool when its done being mixed. Whenever I  finished mine I put each color into a Ziploc bag and to check on the coolness of it I stuck my finger in the middle. I would say around 30 minutes and it was cool enough to play with but don’t rush it, if its not cooled off completely just leave it until it is. Like I said, super easy and again fun for hours so you can go do other things if you need to. Also I wouldn’t suggest telling your kids this recipe is edible because it does NOT taste good at all and will have your kids spitting it out.

Well I hope that these little projects will be as fun for you and your kiddos as it was for mine! We had so much fun between actually making it and then afterwards playing with it. I have been thinking and I think I will be posting every Saturday and going back and forth between food stuff and projects on every other post (again this may change but for now I will do it this way) and if I’m feeling adventurous today I may post a food one just to get some more experience doing this and figuring everything out. You all are my inspiration to keep doing this so if you liked this post and want more like it PLEASE post a comment below or if there is something you’d like me to talk about/try, don’t hesitate to tell me about it. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and just remember, Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t live good! 🙂

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

-Wade Boggs