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Easy Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

Hot cocoa is such a fun staple to have in your home during these cold winter months.  My kids will spend hours playing outside in the snow and the first thing they ask for when they come inside is some hot chocolate!

Back in my “spender” days I use to buy hot chocolate mix at the store like it was nobody’s business!  Once I started learning how to save and live a frugal life I learned how to make hot chocolate mix from scratch and I have never looked back!

Not only does making your own hot cocoa save you money, it is also so quick and easy to do.  It also tastes much better than what you will buy from the store!

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Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup powdered creamer

1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in a tightly covered container.

To make hot chocolate:  Stir 1/4 cup mix with 3/4 cup boiling water.  Enjoy!

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We usually make this mix for our family to enjoy all winter, but it would also be a really frugal christmas gift for friends and neighbors.  Whip up a large batch, portion it into cute jars and tie a bow around it. Done!

 

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How to Make Homemade Butter

I had a container of heavy whipping cream sitting in my fridge for a few weeks.  I kept looking at it, knowing I needed to do something with it, but never knowing exactly what!  My sister finally suggested to me that I should use the cream to make butter with my kids.

This actually turned out to be the best idea ever!  Making butter was so so easy, cheap, and my kids absolutely LOVED it!

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My kids loved shaking their jars and checking every 5 minutes to see if the butter had formed.  My daughter even said, “Wow!  They use to have to work hard in the olden days!  I can’t imagine doing this every time we needed butter.”  This led into such a great discussion about the conveniences we have now and how hard our ancestors had to work in order to survive.

You can make your very own butter; all you need is a mason jar and heavy whipping cream.

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Pour some whipping cream into the jar.  I filled our jars about half full, but if you are doing this with your kids I would recommend only filling it about 1/4 full.  I think it would’ve been easier and quicker for the kids if the jar had less cream in it.

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Now, you shake it!  Shake, shake and shake!  This took us about 45 minutes of hard shaking.  If I had done less cream I’m sure it would’ve been much quicker.

We turned on some music and danced while shaking our jars.

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The cream will slowly become thicker.  You will eventually notice the butter separating from the cream. The butter will form together in a nice solid ball.  Once this happens, you are done!  See, so easy!

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Drain the leftover cream, rinse your butter, and then transfer it to a plate.  Wah-lah!  You have made butter!

Now is the fun part!  Enjoy your butter on some fresh bread or rolls.  It really is delicious!

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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!

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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.

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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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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.

 

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How to Make the Perfect Zoodles

Sweet Frugal Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My zucchini plants have been generous this year, and I have loved cooking with this delicious vegetable!  Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies because, it’s the vegetable that just keeeeeps on giving, and it is also so versatile!  We have been enjoying zucchini in bread, cookies, on the grill, fried, etc.

One of my very favorite ways to cook zucchini is to turn it into zoodles!  Zoodles is a great, healthier alternative to noodles. (and if you pick the zucchini from your garden….it’s also FREE!)  I will usually serve it under marinara or alfredo sauce, but any of your fave pasta sauces will work great!  If cooked correctly, the zoodles are really not a lot different from regular noodles.  They are also much more filling, with much less calories!  Sometimes my kids don’t even realize what they are eating……emphasis on the sometimes.

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Homemade Zoodles Tutorial

A vegetable spiralizer is my best friend when it comes to homemade zoodles.  I couldn’t find the exact one that I use, but this spiralizer on Amazon is very similar in price and design.  It is also only $15.99, great deal!

First things first, if your zucchini is long, you will want to cut it down into smaller chunks.

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Next, you will need to prep your vegetable spiralizer.  I use the Thin Spiral for my zoodles.  Put your thin spiral attachment in the spiralizer and then stick one of the zuchinni chunks into the middle, in between the handle and the blade.

Now, all you need to do is twist!  This part is so simple (and…kindof fun….really!).  The zucchini will spiral through the blade, be sure to have a plate to catch all the spirals!

You can eat the zoodles raw or cook them over the stove.  I prefer cooking them for a few minutes (don’t worry it is quick!).

Heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the zoodles.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss in oil.  Continue to gently toss the zoodles while they cook.  Cook for 2-5 minutes.  I like them to be soft, but also slightly firm.

Serve with your favorite pasta sauce.  ENJOY!!!

 

 

 

 

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How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag

Sweet Frugal Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I’ve always said that I was born in the wrong decade!  I truly yearn for the simple life of the early 1900s.  I think that’s partly why I love being frugal.  I get so much satisfaction from growing and making my own food; and living a simpler, less materialistic life.

When we make our own ice cream it reminds me of simpler times.  It’s a way for the entire family to make our very own ice cream, no need to go to an ice cream parlor or the grocery store.  We can do it on our own!

We always have ice cream in a bag on our summer bucket list.  It’s easy (the kids can do it themselves!).  It’s cheap.  It’s fun.  I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand.  And, who doesn’t love ice cream on a hot summers day????  I know we do!

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Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag Recipe

1 cup Half and Half (I usually just use plain milk and it works just as good!)

2 TBSP Sugar

Favorite Mix-Ins:  any combination of the following

1 TBSP vanilla

1 TBSP cocoa

Chocolate Syrup

Fruit

Mix half and half, sugar and one or more mix ins (we used cocoa) in a quart size Ziploc freezer bag.

In a gallon size Ziploc freezer bag dump in a lot of ice and about 1/2 cup ice cream salt (I never measure this, I just kind of guess).

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Take the quart size bag with the ice cream ingredients and get out all the air and seal it shut.  Make sure the bag is sealed tight so no salt will get inside.  Place the quart size bag inside of the gallon size bag.

Now for the fun part.  You shake it!  This takes about 5-10 minutes of HARD shaking. It’s important to be shaking it constantly. I will usually help my little kids to make sure it gets nice and frozen.

Once the milk mixture looks frozen, take the quart size bag out and rinse it under cold water.  This helps to wash off any excess salt.

Pour it into your bowl, top with sprinkles if you’d like, and ENJOY!  I love the simplicity of this activity, and the excitement the kids get out of making their very own personal ice cream!

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!  It’s fun to try to make different flavors!  My daughter had the idea to use a little mint extract and chocolate chips in our next batch for our own chocolate mint flavor!  There is really no right or wrong combo!

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How to Make an Easy Nature Bookmark Tutorial

Sweet Frugal Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I spent a wonderful week with my sister in the mountains.  We took walks, watched movies, played games, and enjoyed getting out of our daily routines.

My sister planned such a fun simple nature craft for the kids to do.  I loved it so much and felt like it would be perfect for camping or a nature study.

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Easy Nature Bookmark Tutorial Craft

First, you will need to collect flowers, leaves, and any other thing that catches your eye.  this made for a really fun nature walk.

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Once you gather your flowers you will need to press them.  We laid our flowers on a paper towel and put books on top to help press them.  We kept them under the books for about 6-7 hours.  I found that this wasn’t enough time for the flowers to dry fully.  I would recommend at least 24 hours.

Once your leaves and flowers are dried it’s time to start designing your bookmark.  My sister used Self Laminating Pouches to give the bookmarks a nice strong seal.

 

You will lay your flowers down on the non sticky part of the pouch.  This is the fun part!  The kids loved spending time getting their bookmarks to look just right!  We were able to get 2 bookmarks out of one pouch.

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Once you have your flowers laid you will put the sticky part of the pouch on top.  This part was tricky!  It is hard to redo any mistakes, so you will want to take your time and be exact.  Slowly peel off the backing as you place the sticky side on top of the flowers.  Be sure to press and seal as you are peeling it off.

Once you have it all laminated and sealed just right you can cut your bookmarks in half, punch a hole through the top and thread some ribbon through for a nice top.

We learned a lot doing this craft and I am excited to try it again seeing if we can fix some of our mistakes.  My kids have been so proud of these and excited to use them.

I hope that you and your littles will enjoy spending a little bit of time preserving nature.

 

 

 

 

Crafts · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

Peanut Butter Play Dough Recipe

My kids LOVE making play dough, and it is something we do often.  But, when we make Peanut Butter Play Dough they REALLY REALLY love it.

Peanut Butter Play Dough is such a great sensory activity for kids.  They can touch, see, smell, and even taste it.  That is my kids favorite part!  They love that they actually get to EAT the play dough.

It is so so easy to make peanut butter play dough.  It only takes three ingredients and a few minutes of your time.

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Peanut Butter Play Dough Recipe

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

Mix all ingredients in bowl.  Stir well and knead until smooth.

That’s it!  So easy!  Let your kids play and enjoy!  We get out cookie cutters and knives and forks.  My kids can spend hours playing.