Family · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Money Helps

A Financial Tale of Two Sisters

The story you are about to read is true.  The names have been changed to protect those involved. (Note Sarcasm 😉 )

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Once upon a time there were two sisters.  One was named Jane and the other Melissa.

Jane and Melissa were raised by two hardworking, frugal minded parents.  These wonderful parents raised the sisters to understand the importance of saving money,  spending wisely, and budgeting.

Jane and Melissa both began receiving an allowance at age 12.  They were both given the same amount of money and were taught to save at least 10%, tithe 10% and the rest they could spend.

Melissa began babysitting at a young age.  The majority of her weekends and summers were spent babysitting for multiple families.  She was able to earn a good deal of money from this job and she followed her parents counsel by saving and tithing 10% of her income.

As Melissa grew, so did her social life.  She loved to spend her weekends with friends.  She enjoyed using her spending money, and because she had saved and tithed, she felt no guilt in spending the rest.  Melissa and her friends spent the majority of their time together going to movies, eating out at restaurants, and shopping at the mall.

At age 16 Melissa got a job.  This job provided her with part time hours during the school year and full time during the summer.  She was earning more money now, and was diligent about saving money and preparing for her financial future.  Melissa was very proud of her bank account, and proud that she had been able to save faithfully during her teen years.

When she graduated from high school she had $3,000 in her savings account.

Unlike Melissa, Jane didn’t babysit very much during her younger years.  She tried to do extra chores around home and was able to earn some extra money that way.

At age 16 Jane began working at the same store Melissa had worked at.  Jane was also able to earn a steady income with part time hours during the school year and full time during the summer.

Jane worked hard at her high school job and enjoyed earning money.  She was diligent about tithing 10% of her paychecks, but decided to save even more than the 10% her parents had asked of her.  Instead, she saved 70% or more of each paycheck and kept very little for personal spending money.

Her social life grew, as most teens did.  She chose her friends wisely, and found friends who had similar goals and aspirations as she did.  Instead of going to movies and shopping, like Melissa and her friends did, they instead chose to spend time at each other homes and enjoying frugal activities together.

Jane graduated from high school with $16,000 in her banking account.

Two Sisters.  Raised the exact same way.  Given the exact same allowance.  Worked at the exact same job, received the exact same paychecks.  Yet, Jane ended up with four times the amount of money that Melissa had.

The difference?

Jane was much wiser in her spending.  She chose to participate in frugal activities and understood the value in saving as much money as she could.

Melissa on the other hand did the bare minimum.  She didn’t worry much about the future, and figured as long as she was saving a little bit, she would be fine.  Melissa didn’t realize the life she COULD have given herself if she had only practiced a little more self control.  Her vision was not as big as Janes.

The Moral of the Story

All good stories end with a moral, and this one is no different.

The story of Jane and Melissa has taught me many many financial lessons.  However, there is one lesson that sticks out to me more than the others.

Jane and Melissa received the EXACT same paychecks, for the EXACT same number of years.  Their parents taught them the EXACT same money principles in the EXACT same way.  But, Jane chose to save and save and save, while Melissa chose to spend.

This teaches me that our financial situation is not always about how much money we might MAKE….it is more about how much money we SAVE.  The paycheck isn’t the problem, our spending habits is the problem.

It is easy to use a low paycheck as an excuse for not being able to save money….but I believe we could all spend a little wiser and live a little more frugally, if we are willing to make those changes.

I am able to say this, because this is MY story.  I am Melissa.

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Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

A Month of After School Snacks

I try to have an after school snack ready for my kids each day when they get home from school each day.  I’m not perfect at this, but I try!

The after school snack is a time for my kids to sit down, refill their bellies, and talk to ME!  😉

I will admit, a big reason I make the after school snack a priority is for selfish reasons.  My goal is that as they eat their snack they will tell me all the highs and lows of their day.  It doesn’t always happen this way, but sometimes I see success.  There have been amazing days when they have sat down and poured their hearts out to me over the snack.  And those days make it all worthwhile!

The after school snack is a slightly chaotic time in our household, but one I have come to cherish and look forward to.

I spent the past month taking a daily picture of our after school snacks.  I am NO “pinterest mom.”   My parenting thrives on simple and cheap.  If you are looking for the healthiest, fanciest snacks…..this is NOT that type of blog.  If you are looking for a few easy snack ideas, keep reading, you might find one here!

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Week 1

Day 1:  Peanut butter cookie, raisins

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Day 2:  Cinnamon sugar tortilla, grapes

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Day 3:  Whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffin, strawberries

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Day 4:  Bagel with cream cheese, strawberries

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Day 5:  Applesauce

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Week 2

Day 1:  Peanut butter cookie, dried apples

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Day 2:  Peanut butter crackers for running errands

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Day 3:  String cheese, orange

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Day 4:  Animal crackers, celery with peanut butter

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Day 5:  Fruit leather and dried apples

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Week 3

Day 1:  Animal crackers, grapes for running errands

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Day 2:  Homemade Graham Crackers, grapes

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Day 3:  Apple slices with peanut butter and chocolate chips (I use this mandoline slicer for the apples)

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Day 4:  Monster Rice Krispie Treats

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Day 5:  Frozen Blueberries

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Week 4

Day 1:  Oil popped popcorn

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Day 2:  Muffin Tin Snack of carrots, animal crackers, cheerios, raisins and string cheese

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Day 3:  Pumpkin muffin and raisins

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Day 4:  String cheese and carrots

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Day 5:  Cheerios and raisins

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It was actually so fun to look back and see all of the different snacks we had over the past month!  I hope that you found them helpful!

What are some of your favorite after school snacks?  Share with me in the comments, I’m always needing new ideas!

Family · Parenting

6 Things I Learned from my 10 Day Social Media Fast

I just finished a 10 Day Social Media Fast.  And it was FANTASTIC!  After I got over my anxiety of just wanting to know what everybody was doing at all times (joking slightly here….), I fell in love with the new focus of my life.  I was finally spending my time focusing on what was right in front of me…..rather than what was on my screen.

The Social Media Challenge originally came from the president of my church, President Russel M. Nelson.  He was speaking to all of the women of the Church of Jesus Christ and issued 4 challenges to us.  One of those challenges was to take a break from social media for 10 days.

I was really excited about this challenge when President Nelson first issued it.  I’m honestly not a huge fan of social media, and sometimes wish for the days before it all came about (anyone old enough to remember AOL Instant Messenger?????  or is that just me????).

My original plan was to take a break from my personal instagram account, and keep using my business Sweet Frugal Life account.  I have been working hard every day trying to grow that account, and I was worried if I took a break from it, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the momentum back.

But then……I realized that my business account was probably the MOST important account for me to take a break from.  I rarely spend time on my personal account, but my business account takes hours of my daily routine.  I knew I needed to take a break from ALL social media in order to learn the lesson President Nelson wanted me to learn.

This break was so good for me!  I almost didn’t want it to end!  But, it did….and I am using all of the lessons I learned to help keep me focused as I move forward with a new routine.

6 Things I Learned From My Social Media Fast

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6.  The Addiction is Real

As much as I do NOT want to admit it…..the social media addiction is real and strong.  The first few days of my fast I found myself constantly reaching for my phone.  I really struggled fighting the desire to open my instagram and facebook apps.  I finally just deleted the apps from my phone, and the temptation decreased quickly.  It took a few days to “detox”, but I finally got to the point where I didn’t think about social media as often.

5.  I have TIME!

I couldn’t believe the amount of time I actually had once I quit checking social media regularly.  I read a book, did a few crafts, and enjoyed some of my hobbies I haven’t even thought about for years!  As a busy mom of 3, I often feel like I am running at full speed all day.  It is not uncommon for me to announce I just don’t have any free time……well…without social media I actually had that TIME I had so desperately been missing.

4.  My Memories are for ME

Throughout the 10 days I found myself having the thought, “I should take a picture of this for Instagram;”  which was immediately followed by the thought, “No, I’m not using instagram right now so I don’t need to take a picture.”  After this happening a few times I finally realized how ridiculous I was.  I CAN and SHOULD take pictures of sweet memories….not to post on Instagram….but for ME.

3.  My Family Needs Me

It didn’t take very long for me to realize that I had been missing out on a lot of family time.  I try really hard to not be on social media around my family.  But, I hadn’t been doing as good of a job as I should have.  Once social media was gone from my life, I found my time and connections with my family growing.

2.  Life Goes On

I was so worried about taking a break from my business instagram account would hurt the accounts, but guess what….they continued to grow without me.  I have 90% of my social media posts scheduled weeks in advance.  My accounts kept automatically posting for me….and my business kept growing.  I didn’t HAVE to spend as much time on it as I originally thought I did.  This was an important lesson for me to learn.  I have decided to set some new rules for me and my business accounts.  I will be spending less of my time working on them, and I can do this guilt free because I have seen it will still grow.  Life goes on!

1.  Follow the Prophet

The most important thing I learned from this fast, was that if we follow the Prophet, we will blessed.  The Church of Jesus Christ believes that we have a prophet on the earth today.  This prophet, President Nelson, is inspired in the things he counsels us to do.  I know that I have received blessings, and will continue to do so….all because I put aside my selfish concerns and did what was asked of me.

Have you ever taken a break from social media?  How long of a break did you take….and what were some of the lessons you learned???

Crafts · Family · Farmhouse · Frugal Life · Get Away Today · Good Ideas · Halloween · Holidays · Homemade

The Easiest Halloween Pumpkin Tutorial

I pulled out all of our fall decorations the other day and had fun getting the house looking a little more festive.  I decided I wanted a few more small decor items, but didn’t want to spend very much money.

My friend showed me how to make these toilet paper pumpkins a few years ago, and I knew they would be the perfect addition to my house this fall.  The best part about these pumpkins is they cost less than $1 to make!  Yep, you read that right!

The only item I bought for these pumpkins was the fabric for 97 cents each.  If that’s not frugal, I don’t know what is!  Not only are these crazy cheap to make…..they are also one of the easiest crafts ever!  I spent less than an hour making all three of these darling Halloween Pumpkins.

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Halloween Pumpkin DIY

For each pumpkin you will need:

One roll of toilet paper

One square of fabric (I bought the fat quarter fabric from Walmart for $.97)

Hot glue gun

A twig for the stem

Lay the square of fabric right side down on the table.  Place your toilet paper in the middle.

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Now, tuck the ends of the fabric into the middle of the toilet paper.  I try to pull the fabric tight as I go, this helps makes some cute textures and creases for the pumpkin.  Keep stuffing the ends of the fabric into the toilet paper roll until all the ends of the fabric are hidden.

You are almost done!  For the stem, I simply went into my backyard (or you can try to search a park) and cut a piece of a twig to the size I wanted.  Hot glue a small amount of glue into the middle of your pumpkin.  Stick the twig into the hot glue, making sure it is sticking up correctly.

And you are done!  Easiest thing ever, right?!?!

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You can play around with the toilet paper to make different shapes and sizes.  For the polka dot pumpkin, I took off about 1/4 of the toilet paper to make a smaller pumpkin.  I also wrapped some toilet paper loosely around the entire roll.  This gives it a slightly more rounded look.

I wanted my other black pumpkin to be a little bit larger.  I added extra toilet paper to the roll, and tried to give it a rounded loose look.

I loved the way this one turned out!  There really are some many possibilities!  And for a whopping 97 cents…..you can make a dozen of these without breaking the bank!

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Have you ever made a toilet paper roll pumpkin before???  Let me know if you try it out, I would love to hear how they turned out.

Happy frugal crafting!

 

You might also like Rice Krispie Halloween Monsters Recipe and No Sew Trick or Treat Bag Tutorial.

Affiliate · Amazon · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Halloween · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

Monster Rice Krispie Treats

Disclosure:  “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

When I saw these darling Monster Rice Krispie Treats over at One Little Project at a Time I immediately fell in love with how cute and simple they were to make!  I decided they would be the PERFECT item for the Bake Sale at my kids Halloween Carnival.

Happily, these Rice Krispie Monsters turned out just as darling and easy as I had imagined.

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First, make your rice krispie treats according to the package directions.

Cut them into rectangles.  I cut mine slightly to big, next time I will be sure to cut smaller pieces.  (I must have been hungry 😉 )

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Next, prepare your chocolate.

I found these candy melts from Walmart.  You can order them off of Amazon, but they were cheaper at Walmart.  They were easy to melt and only took about 3 minutes, and no stress!

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Now, you dip your rice krispie rectangles into the chocolate.  You will want to be slightly quick with this.  As the chocolate cools it will be harder to dip.

All that’s left is to add on the candy eyes.  I also bought these at Walmart, but they are available on Amazon as well.  It was so fun adding the eyes and making the fun monster faces.  My kids loved helping with this part, and actually had some good ideas!

Let your cute monster rice krispie treats cool, and the chocolate harden.  And that is it!  All done.  Now, feed your monster treats to your little monster darlings.  😉

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Finances · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin · Money Helps

Debt Snowball Vs. Debt Avalanche

Two of the most common methods for paying off debt is the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche.  Neither of these methods are superior to the other.  They both have great qualities and offer excellent motivation for getting rid of debt.

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Debt Snowball

The Debt Snowball is the method Dave Ramsey recommends.

When using the Debt Snowball you will list your debts in order from the smallest debt to the largest.

While continuing to make minimum payments on all debts, begin actively trying to pay off your SMALLEST debt FIRST.

This will mean that you will use ANY extra money that comes your way to paying off this one debt.

The reasoning behind the Debt Snowball is while starting small, you will gain confidence and traction.  As you pay off those small debts you will have more practice and motivation to be able to tackle the larger debts.

For Example…..

$5,000 Car Loan

$800 Credit Card Payment

$25,000 Student Loan

Pay off the credit card first, while continuing to make minimal payments on the other two debts.  Next you will pay off the car loan, and then lastly you will tackle the student loan.

Debt Avalanche

In the Debt Avalanche you will list your debts in order from the highest INTEREST to the lowest interest.  You will then continue to make all minimum payments for all debt while focusing all extra cash to paying off your debt with the highest interest rate.

The point of the Debt Avalanche is that by getting rid of the debts that charger higher interest you will be able to pay off the debt quicker.

The Debt Avalanche WILL have you spending LESS money overall than the Debt Snowball.

For Example…

$5,000 Car Loan with 4% interest

$800 Credit Card with 10% interest

$25,000 Student Loan with 5% interest

If following the Debt Avalanche method you will pay off the credit card first, followed by the student loan and then you will pay off the car loan.

What Works for You?

Soooo……what does this all mean for you?

The answer to that question will be personal.  It will be different for everyone.  There is no RIGHT or WRONG method.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure of yourself, then perhaps the Debt Snowball would work best in favor.  It helps you start small and gain quick wins at the beginning.

If you are feeling super motivated and you want to get rid of that debt ASAP, then you might prefer the Debt Avalanche.  This method will get you aggressively paying off that debt and will cut out some of those interest costs.

What do I recommend?

I personally recommend you research, research and more research.  Study everything you can about both the Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche.  Once you have studied everything you can, make your decision.  You will naturally feel more comfortable and be drawn to a certain method.

Once you make the decision best for you, GO WITH IT, own it.  Do everything in your power to get rid of that debt.  Check out the article What we cut from our budget to save over $2500 a year, for a few ideas on finding some extra cash in your budget.

I promise paying off debt WILL be hard…..but I also promise that your future self will THANK YOU for being willing to put in the work.

 

Birthday · Crafts · Family

Tissue Paper Pom-Pom Tutorial

I LOVE to make tissue paper pom poms!  They are one of the easiest, cheapest DIY decoration around.  I have made some for my daughters rooms, and they are a staple at all my kids birthday parties.

A lot of stores sell pre-made pom poms, that just need to be fluffed up, but I’m telling you…..those are not worth the money.  You can easily make them yourself for a much cheaper price!  I promise you can even do it if you are NOT a crafter.

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First, you will need about 6 pieces of full size tissue paper, you can use more or less.  The more sheets you use, the fluffier your pom-pom will be.

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Unfold your tissue paper, layer each of the sheets on top of each other, and lay it flat.  I’ve done this on a table, carpet, wherever will work just fine!

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Starting at the shorter end, you will fold the tissue paper (all sheets together) accordion style.  Your finished product should look similar to the pictures below.

Take some string, (I just used thread because it’s what I had) and tie a knot in the middle of the folded tissue paper.  Leave a long piece of string, this is what you will use to hang your pom-pom with.

Now, snip two small cuts on both ends of the tissue paper.  This is what gives the flowery shape to the pom pom.

You are almost finished!  Now, gently separate each sheet of tissue paper.  This will fluff out the pom-pom.  You fluff one side of the pom-pom and then the other side.

Adjust the fluffs until you get it just right, and you are done!  It takes about 10 minutes per pom-pom.

Affiliate · Amazon · Birthday · For the kids · Frugal Life

Budget Friendly Pancake and Pajama Birthday Party for Tweens!

Disclosure:  “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Why is it every time my kids have a birthday I get so emotional????  Please tell me I’m not alone in this!  It is so fun to watch my kids grow into amazing people, but oh how my heart hurts to see just how fast time passes and how quickly my babes grow!

We celebrated my daughters 10th birthday last week!  I may have shred a tear or two, but I mostly enjoyed celebrating her sweet life!

I throw my kids a birthday party with their friends every other year.  This year happened to be the year for my daughters party.  It took us a few days to come up with a theme that felt a little more “grown up” for her.  Take a look at my article Fun Birthday Traditions for Small Budgets for a few other ways we celebrate birthdays.

We finally decided that a Pancake and Pajamas Birthday Party would be the perfect party for young tween girls.

Like all of my parties (LEGO Birthday Party for Under $20), I try to plan simple, fun and FRUGAL.  I want it to be a special day for my kids and all of the party goers….but I also want it to be the least amount of stress possible for me!  (that’s just how I roll!)

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The Invites

I spent $2 on the invitations.

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I found the cutest invites at the Dollar Tree!  Seriously, how cute are these?!?!  They were perfect in every way, cute enough to keep my daughter excited and cheap enough to keep me satisfied!

The Decor

By using items I already had at home I was able to spend $0 (yes, zero!) on decorations for this party!

I went with the colors turquoise, pink and white.  I hung a few streamers and balloons around the house, and made some tissue paper pom poms for a fun statement over the dining room table.  I have an easy tutorial for my Tissue Paper Pom-Poms.

It turned out beautiful!  I was so happy the way the colors all went together.

 

 

The Table

I spent $5 on the table decor/paper plates.

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I bought the plates, utensils, cups, napkins and table cloth at Walmart for $.97 each.

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The centerpieces were put together using items I had at home.  I simply filled a mason jar with fruit loop cereal and put a flower inside.  So easy!  So cute!  The girls loved munching on the cereal while they were waiting for the food to be ready.

The Food

By trying to use food I already had at home, I spent $10 on a few remaining items.

Beings how this was a Pancake party, I tried to make the food a fun part of the party.  (and…while I was so busy doing that….I failed to take any pictures of the food, oops!)

I cooked up a large batch of pancakes, and provided a fun array of toppings for the girls to choose from.  We had nutella, strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream, maple syrup, raspberry syrup, and sprinkles (it was a birthday after all 😉 ).

I overestimated the amount of food these girls would eat.  We ended up with a lot of leftovers!

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The Games/Craft

The activities were my biggest budget item.  I spent $40 on the activities.  A few of these activities doubled as the “goody bag.”

After the girls were done eating we played a few simple games.  We played Silent Football, Human Knot, and “The Cereal Game.”

I made up The Cereal Game based off of a White Elephant Game.

I bought 9 mini cereal boxes9 mini cereal boxes (1 for each girl) and made 9 slips of paper each with a number on it (1-9).

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The girls sat in a circle and each picked a number.  The number they drew was the order when they would be able to choose a cereal.

The first girl was able to choose from all of the cereals.  The next girl had the option to choose from what was left in the middle or steal from the first girl.  Play continues in the same way until all the girls have each had a turn to steal or choose from the middle.  If a cereal is stolen from you, you will receive a turn to steal from another person or choose from the middle.  A cereal can only be stolen twice until it is “dead,” meaning it can not be stolen again.

This game ended up being a huge hit!  They each loved having a mini cereal box to take home with them.

After the games we did a fun craft.  I gave each of the girls a white pillow case and then using fabric markers, they were able to color and decorate it.  Honestly, before the party I wasn’t sure how long they would want to sit still and color, but they surprised me!  They sat quietly for a good 20 minutes decorating their pillow cases.  They loved this craft!  This activity was the biggest expense of the party,  but I decided it was well worth the money.  I found the cheapest pillowcases were in bulk on Amazon.

 

The Results

I spent $57 on this party.

The Pancakes and Pajamas Party was such a fun party!  I loved seeing all the girls show up in their darling PJs and have a “mini sleepover”!

Now, I get to enjoy my sweet girl at age ten…..and keep hoping someone invites a special potion that will make kids stop growing!

 

Good Ideas · Grocery Haul · Homemade

Grocery Haul 10/08

This week I spent $100 on groceries and a few other needs.  I have included my weekly dinner meal plan for the week as well!

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Other Needs

I bought shampoo and dog food (not pictured).

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Produce

My produce this week was cuties, two oranges, potatoes, spinach, carrots, apples, and lettuce.

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Dairy/Meats

In the dairy department this week I bought whipping cream, greek yogurt, blueberry yogurt, string cheese, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, butter and italian sausage.

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Bakery

This week I bought two loaves of wheat bread, blueberry bagels and a can of yeast.

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Cereal

I bought two boxes of cheerios, a box of rice krispies, and a bag of malt-o-meal frosted mini spooners.

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Other

A few odds and ends were marshmallows, candy melts, pumpkin puree (yay for pumpkin!), and 4 packets of taco seasoning.

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All of this came to $102.10 after taxes.

 

Affiliate · Amazon · Crafts · Family · For the kids · Gift Ideas · Good Ideas · Halloween · Holidays

The Easiest No Sew Halloween Trick or Treat Bag

Disclosure:  “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Halloween is just around the corner!  I love this time of year!  I love the pumpkins, the crisp cool air, the changing leaves, and the excitement in my children.  My kids love to dress up as anything they want and run around the neighborhood trick or treating.

I got the urge to craft the other day and decided it would be so fun to make my kids new bags for trick or treating.  I wanted to create something cute, but also simple and frugal (because that’s how I roll!).

I came up with the idea of a no sew trick or treat bag.  I’ll be honest with you….it was even EASIER than I originally had planned!  (win!)

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Trick or Treat Bag Tutorial

Supplies Needed:

– Canvas Craft Tote

– Scrap fabric

Wonder Under

– Iron/ironing board

– Pattern for tracing

Let’s Begin:

You will first need to find your pattern for tracing.  I asked my kids what picture they wanted on their bags and they requested a spider and a cat.

After a quick google search I was able to find a couple of good tracing patterns.  Print these off and then cut out the shape.

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Now, follow the directions found on your wonder under fusing.

I cut out a large square of wonder under (large enough to cover the entire shape), and ironed the rough side onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Use your tracing pattern to trace the shape onto the paper side of the wonder under.

Once the pattern is traced, cut the picture out (fabric and all).

Last, you will gently pull off the paper backing of the wonder under.  Center it on the bag, and then iron it.

I have found that holding the iron steady for 5-10 seconds over each section of the picture helps give the applique a nice firm hold.

That’s it!  You’re done!  See, I told you it would be easy!!  It probably took me a total of one hour to finish both bags!  Quick crafting, is my type of crafting!

There are so many fun possibilities for these bags!  Pumpkin, ghost, witch hat, bat, skeleton, or lettering would all make darling trick or treat bags!

I can’t wait to watch my kids go trick or treating with their new bags!