Posts Tagged ‘Frugal’

How to Make a Monogrammed Coffee Filter Wreath

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

When my book proposal went out in the literary world, I decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into two bedrooms that were both in need of a serious overhaul, to prevent me from thinking about the big decisions being made. All of that nervous energy turned into fuel into creating my daughter and son’s room into what I had envisioned their new big kid spaces to be.

Over the next few weeks, I wanted to showcase some of the crafts that I created and how I decorated their bedrooms on a budget. The first tutorial I wanted to share was for this easy monogrammed coffee filter wreath for my daughter’s wall.  I am not the first to create a coffee filter wreath and I know I won’t be the last. I read a billion tutorials for making these and then decided to do it my own way with a few tips from each tutorial. When you create yours, I am sure you will do the same on your wreath to create a masterpiece for your home.

These are a beautiful accent to decorate any room in your house. These would also make fantastic holiday gifts for your friends, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, or teachers and cost about $8-10 in supplies.

Let’s get started. You need a wreath or wreath form of your your choice (I found this flat Styrofoam wreath at Hobby Lobby), a package of 200 coffee filters, hot glue gun, glue sticks (you will need about six for this project), a screwdriver, a lightweight monogram letter of your choice, and a can of spray paint of your choice.

Fold your coffee filter in half as shown here.

Fold your coffee filter in half again as shown here.

On the tip of this you will apply your hot glue and then fold the tip a bit to apply it to the wreath. Secure the glued end to the wreath, flattening it a bit and adjusting as needed.

The top of your filters will look like this. That screwdriver can go into the center to help push the filter into the wreath and save your hands from getting burned. You can risk it and just burn those hands up, but I found the tip of the screwdriver really works to help prevent burns as you add those filters in. I wish I could take pictures of myself doing this as I am doing it, but, unfortunately, I only have two hands and no one to work the camera for me.

Start filling the wreath in with the filters all over. Anywhere that you see that wreath form sticking out should be covered with your filters. You can bend and twist them into the spots, securing these with hot glue. Catch up on all of your favorite shows since you need to do this approximately 150 times.

Please don’t judge me on my favorite show. A girl needs an escape when doing her billions of loads of laundry and other mundane tasks around the house. It makes me feel hip and chic, unlike the 33 year-old woman sitting on her carpet making a coffee filter wreath.

Keep on going around and around and around. Don’t worry if it isn’t even, just do the best you can.  You can trim it all up in the end and no one will ever know.

Once it is all filled in on top, we need to cover the sides of the wreath so we don’t see any of the wreath form peeking out. Fold the coffee filters as I showed you above and this time we will lay them flat against the side to cover the wreath.

Just keep overlapping this final layer to cover up the wreath form as I have pictured here.  This wreath will be very full and the little spots that aren’t covered won’t be seen, so don’t worry!

Once you flip it over, you will see that the back layer is a tad longer than the other layers. Trim those up with a pair of sharp scissors and cut them down so they fit in with the other layers on your wreath.

Once the wreath is all trimmed up, you can mount a monogrammed letter of your choice. I spray painted mine green to match my daughter’s room. I found this little letter at Michael’s back by the wooden craft supplies. This letter was just, $1.99. The key to this is to find one that is lightweight so it stays on easily. Hot glue the back of the letter and secure it in place on your wreath. You can then hang your wreath with ribbon or just hang it on a nail, as I did here, to keep things sweet and simple.

This wall in her room is making me very, very happy right now. It is the first thing I see when I walk up the steps and was so inexpensive to do.  I framed three of my favorite pictures of her, all printed in black-and-white.

The, “Will We have Rainbows Day After Day?,” printable was found for free printing on Making It Lovely.  I found a frame for this at Michael’s for half off and printed it on my printer at home.  It is so sweet and fits perfectly with her personality and color scheme.

I could not be happier with how this wreath turned out and definitely recommend making one or two for yourself or someone you love.

Don’t toss the rest of your coffee filters out after making this wreath. Next week I will show you how I made this bouquet of coffee filter flowers to adorn a nightstand. No one will believe these are made from this household item and it can be a fun craft to decorate any table in your home.

What craft projects have you been working on? Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

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Happy Halloween from the Clark Family

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween to your family from ours!  I wanted to share with you a few of the pictures I took of the kids in their Halloween costumes. This year the requests were to be a Ninja and to be Rapunzel.

Last year’s fairy costume that we picked up from Cracker Barrel magically transformed into the perfect Rapunzel dress. After buying a terrible, terrible wig to go with it from the local costume shop, I found myself at the Disney store to pick up the authentic Rapunzel hair that she could play dress-up with all year long. She was so excited when she saw it and was willing to compromise on not having the official Rapunzel dress as long as she could wear a pink sleeved shirt underneath to make it look like the real Rapunzel.

The Ninja outfit I picked up at Walmart for  $12. Of course the only way I could get my son to agree to do pictures with his sister were in full Ninja attack mode.  After we were done with the photos, I couldn’t stop laughing and looking at them. I think my daughter has her mama’s flair for the dramatics. I wonder if I will be watching her on the stage like my parents watched me.

Not to be outdone by our children, my husband and I schemed and dreamed of costumes for months this year.  I don’t mean to gush, but it is moments like this when I look at my husband and think, “How did I get this lucky?” I have been with this man since he was fifteen. Our parents used to drop us off for our dates because neither of us could drive. We were high school sweethearts that really worked out, and I think I know everything a girl could know about him.  Then something like this comes up, and he surprises me.

In case you couldn’t tell from the pictures, we went as Marry Poppins and Bert from my favorite childhood movie.  We both wanted to make sure we got the look right.  The clothes we both already owned. The bow tie I am wearing was his  from our third prom together (I still had it in a box of mementos from our high school days). I tied grosgrain ribbon around my waist and grabbed the umbrella from my husband’s car. We found Ryan’s hat and gloves at Walmart and my hat from a local costume shop.  The broom was an inexpensive broom from Target that he took the stitching apart and spray painted with a $.98 can of spray paint from Walmart.  I got a sprig of daisies to weave into the hat and just took my giant purse that I use daily as my, “carpet bag.” We probably spent about $20 or so on the whole look, but had the best time making these outfits happen.

I did splurge and buy myself a tube of fancy red lipstick. I have always wanted to wear red lipstick, but never felt confident enough to do it.  I am hoping to wear this on a date night or two.  The color is Red Zin from Bare Escentuals and I am really liking it for a little something different.  Maybe this old girl can surprise her husband once in awhile too!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Have a safe and fun night with your family and friends this evening!

Behind the Scenes with Aldi Supermarket

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This past week I got the unique opportunity to step behind the scenes and find out more about Aldi Supermarket and the products that they offer their customer. As a longtime fan of the grocery retailer, I could not wait to see how this company operated and, frankly, how in the world they can offer food for such a low price.

During the trip I got to do a wine and cheese tasting, got a grocery store tour to learn more about how their stores were set up, and then I got to participate in a blind taste-testing of the products to see how they compared with other national brands.  There was truly not a single element of this trip that I was not fascinated with.

The first question on everyone’s mind was how do they get their prices so low?

This is an answer that we were told would take years to explain, but the main points all pointed to simple cost-cutting measures, employee training that goes beyond other grocery stores,  a limited selection of items, smart store design, and in-house private labels. The savings are in the big things like having baking items on pallets and dairy items on rolling carts so the employees don’t need to stock shelves and then are reflected in the smaller things like the quarter deposit for your cart and bagging those groceries yourself.

All of these little and big things translate into great prices for their customers.

If you have ever stood in a line at Aldi, one thing you will see is that these cashiers work at lightning speed and can wait on customers quicker than any other store I have ever been to. You may not know it, but Aldi offers smart packaging that can speed up your wait time at their store. In this picture is a single bag of chips, simply held at all different angles. Practically every corner of their bags and boxes have a UPC code that can make scanning your items that much faster.  Go ahead and take a peek in your pantry at your Aldi items and you will see it too. It is one of those things that you may have never noticed, but translates into saving time for you.

The typical Aldi store only has between 6-8 employees and it is common for their employees to celebrate 15, 20, or 25 years of service. They pay their employees significantly higher than the national average and with 20 hours a week, they give their employees full health insurance benefits. Employees go through extensive training and they do everything from putting out the new pallets of food to ringing up the customers to tidying the store. It is this efficiency and the smaller pay rolls that translate into big savings for their customers.

Perhaps, the most surprising thing for me was discovering the amazing wine selection that Aldi offers. I admitted that I walked by the wine section of the store because the low prices on the bottles made me question the quality of the wine. I will never look at their wine section the same again after their wine tasting.  Don’t believe me? Aldi has received many awards and accolades for their wines.

Here are just a few of the accolades that Aldi has received. Did I mention these bottles are all under $6?

Wine Spectator

Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc
Best Values Award
Received 85 points

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
Received 85 points

Beverage Testing Institute

Landshut (Germany) Riesling Mosel 2010
2010 World Value Wine Challenge- Top 10 White Wine $8 and Under Exceptional Value
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010
World Value Wine Challenge- Top Dessert Wine $8 and Under Best Value German Dessert Wine
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

Of those wines that I sampled, I fell in love with the Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti, the Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009, and the Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010.  Most of the bottles were $4.99, which make them quite affordable both for entertaining and for giving around the holiday season.

We paired these wines with some of Aldi’s cheese offerings which included a delicious goat cheese, a Havarti cheese, and Brie cheese. All of the cheeses were equally delicious and I am looking forward to offering these with these wines around the holidays.

I am a longtime customer and super fan of the products that Aldi offers, but the blind taste test that I participated in surprised even a super fan like me.  Aldi is challenging shoppers to switch from national brands to their private label Aldi brand for the holidays, to save their families up to fifty percent on their shopping.

We sampled many items from their holiday line and compared them to the national brands. Even though I love Aldi, I can be a bit of a food snob when it comes to certain foods like high quality cheeses and meats.

When we taste tested Tyson chicken versus Aldi chicken, I truly loved the Aldi brand better. I knew the meat that I had tasted must have been the Tyson meat, but I was dead wrong. It goes to show that sometimes we are just conditioned to believe one brand is better than the other.

Another surprise was the difference between Mrs. Smith’s apple pie versus the Aldi Belmont Deep Dish Apple Pie.  The Aldi pie is pictured on the right and you can tell just by looking at the bottom of the crust that the pie cooked and browned more evenly.  The difference in the taste was significant and the price was 28% lower.

Even being the Aldi fan girl that I am,  I came away feeling validated that the choice that I had made to shop at the store, out of necessity due to the financial strain we had been under, for our family was a good one.  The cost-cutting measures of the store do not cost-cut on the bottom line of the quality of the items in the store. In fact, the company does their best to offer a better product that the name brand.  After doing this blind taste-testing, I believe they have exceeded the standard.

If you haven’t checked out the store before, you really are missing out on so much.  I can feed my family of four for $220 for three weeks by shopping there. I do not clip coupons. I do 95% of my shopping at this store. I am rarely disappointed in the quality. If I ever was disappointed though, they offer a double guarantee and I could bring the item back for a refund and get it replaced. I don’t know very many places that offer that to their customers.

If you want to learn more about shopping at the store, I have several resources that you can check out on the site:

Aldi Supermarket

Aldi Menu Planner

Aldi Fall/Winter Menu Planner

The Aldi Queen Blog

If I was a fan girl of Aldi before, this trip took it to another level for me. I can confidently say that this store is THE place for families on a budget.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Let’s talk! Have you shopped at Aldi Supermarket before? Did anything surprise you about the behind the scenes look? What is your favorite item to buy at the store? Please share!

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How to Paint a Kitchen Table: Our Kitchen Table Makeover

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

I never dreamed that I would ever paint my kitchen table when we bought it. For ten years though we abused it daily, it survived a brutal move with a terrible moving company, and the polyurethane coating never did look right after it was damaged in route to our house on the day we bought it. The table was loved to pieces, literally, and that is why we had to paint it.

Passing through our kitchen, you might not have noticed the table’s beat-up appearance. From far away or cleverly covered with a tablecloth when it got really embarrassing, the table just didn’t look that bad.

Upon closer inspection though, your eyes are assaulted with the damage that has happened to it. The polyurethane coating was flaking away, the ends were terribly damaged on the table, and a huge gash went right through the center of it that I never thought the table would ever recover from.

We decided that we would stain the table and restore the tabletop with a nice deep and rich color. We bought lots of supplies to stain the table and I couldn’t wait to get started.

For two days I sanded the table to within an inch of its poor little life. The polyurethane coating remained. I bought polyurethane stripper and left it on the table for twenty-four hours. The polyurethane remained. I sanded the table more. The polyurethane remained.

I cried.

I rocked in the fetal position.

I kicked myself for starting a project that I didn’t feel as confident in.

I gave up.

We ate at a sad folding table and chairs for an entire week, only to discover this staining would not happen at my novice level of furniture staining.

At this point, I had nothing to lose.

We decided to paint the kitchen table.

The chairs were in good condition other than a quick reupholster to the tired fabric that had been on them. The table legs also happened to be in decent condition so we made the decision to leave the table legs and chairs in their natural wood color (partly out of laziness and partly because we needed our kitchen table back) which definitely cut down on the work.

I am no expert on painting furniture so I consulted with my best friend who has been painting her furniture recently and the ever amazing and wildly talented Kate, from Centsational Girl, who has this amazing tutorial on how to paint furniture. Between the two of them, I felt a tad more confident than I did before.

Once the table was sanded and wood filled in the spots that were really rough on the table, we applied two coats of the Zinsser Cover Stain Primer over the table. Between each coat, once the tabletop was fully dry, I gave it another good sanding and wiped it clean with a cloth. I had to admit, even with just the primer, the table was already looking better.

Once the primer was dry, I applied two coats of paint to the tabletop. We wanted our tabletop to match our kitchen cabinets so we chose Valspar Blanched Pine (7005-15) for the shade of white we were looking for. Two coats of paint were applied to it. The first coat was applied with a brush and then the second coat, I used a roller and then used a brush to smooth out any roller marks.

I did take Kate’s recommendation and added Floetrol to the paint (as directed on the packaging) which really did seem to help cut down on the mistakes that I usually make when painting. This paint conditioner will definitely be used again when I tackle another painting project.

After the paint was dry, we then applied two heavy coats of polyurethane to the tabletop with an angled brush. We allowed the polyurethane to set on the tabletop for four days with no use. I think this was one of the hardest parts about the process, but we wanted to make sure that the tabletop would really be able to withstand our daily abuse once we brought it inside.

The table legs were reattached, the new-to-me chairs were slid under it. We were in business.

Here is our newly painted kitchen tabletop.  It is not perfect, but we truly did the best we could to improve upon something we already owned.

I am so happy to have a tabletop that I don’t have to cover with a tablecloth. I am just hoping that this will be able to stand up to our daily use, but I will be happy if we can get a couple more years out of this set.

I will tell you a secret.

Every time I see a crumb on it, I start freaking out that paint is chipping.

A major freak out ocurred after the kids dined on pumpkin bread for snack one day.

I am wondering when I will get over that.

Perhaps, never.

For now, my husband is just thankful I am done with this project, I am thankful to have reclaimed the garage, and we are all thankful that we didn’t have to purchase a new set of furniture for this room.

How to Reupholster A Chair

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

We have been hard at work on completely redoing our old dining set. My kitchen chairs were in solid condition and didn’t require any painting, but I was tired of the faux leather fabric that I had purchased for the chairs when my kids were little. Today I wanted to share with you just how easy it is to reupholster those chairs and add a little pizzazz to a tired dining set for very little money.

Supplies Needed For This Project

New Fabric (I am using outdoor fabric to help prevent staining from spills. You could also choose a faux leather fabric or any type of fabric and then treat it with Scotch Guard to prevent staining). This fabric should be measured to the width of your chair and then add 4 inches  to each measurement so you have enough fabric to reach around the cushion.  My chair seat was 20×20 so I needed 24×24 for each seat. For all six seats it required 2 yards of fabric total.

Upholstery Staple Gun (available at fabric stores)

Upholstery Staples (heavy-duty)

Needle-nose pliers

Screwdriver

Pinking Shears (or regular sewing scissors)


Invert your chair and use your screwdriver to remove the four screws on the bottom that are securing your cushion to the chair.

If the cushion has fabric stapled on it already, use your needle-nose pliers to remove the old staples and fabric from the cushion. If you only have one layer of fabric, it should be okay, but this chair had two so I had to remove my last round of reupholstering to get back to the base of the chair.

Now it is time to cut your new fabric to replace the old fabric that was on your chair.  This fabric should be measured to the width of your chair and then add 4 inches  to each measurement so you have enough fabric to reach around the cushion.  My chair seat was 20×20 so I needed 24×24 for each seat. For all six seats it required 2 yards of fabric total.

I prefer to cut my fabric with a pair of pinking shears instead of regular scissors because the fabric does not fray with these and I don’t have to mess with trimming and pulling strings on fabric. If you don’t have a pair of these though, you can always use regular shears.

When buying your fabric, be sure to ask if they offer any specials or discounts to customers. I got this fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics and signed up for their email list while I was at the register. They gave me a coupon that took $16 off of my total fabric purchase so I was able to get fabric for six chairs for $25!

Once you have your fabric cut, it is time to staple. Center your cushion upside down and make sure there is approximately the same amount of fabric on all four sides and then pull the fabric tightly over your cushion and staple it. You are going to want to put your whole body into this one, friends.  Staple all the fabric down along the cushion securely.

Corners can be a tricky terrain, but they don’t have to be. I like to bring the top part down and then fold in the other side of the fabric on top. You can do your corners on your cushion however you like. I think the trick with this one is just to play with it, flip it over and take a peek, and then play with the fabric again until you find a corner you like. Once you figure out how you like your corners, replicate it with the three other corners and then again on your next chair. Trim the excess corner fabric.

Center your cushion back on your chair and make sure all of the fabric is tucked nicely underneath and on top. Secure your cushion back on with the four screws again.

Now just repeat the same process over and over and over again until all of your chairs are done. I was able to get six chairs reupholstered in one afternoon. It isn’t hard to do and is a great job to tackle while watching your favorite shows.

I am madly in love with this fabric that I chose and can’t believe how much more I love these chairs. They look like brand new and I only spent $25 to shine them up.

Of course, what are new chairs without a new-to-me table? Looking forward to revealing what I have been up to this past week and sharing with you our new kitchen tabletop!

This tabletop has needed attention for eight years now and I am finally doing it.

Procrastination is the name of the game.

I hope I am not the only one with an eight year project that has been bugging her.

What is one home improvement project you have been vowing to do, but just haven’t made time to tackle yet?

Back-to-School Round-Up of Tips, Resources, & Project Ideas

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I can hardly believe that our summer is coming to a close for our family.  I have to say, so far…it really has been the best summer ever. It’s not because we have done tons of vacations or been running nonstop, but it has just been being together and finally have kids at the age where outings have become as much of a treat for me as it is for them.  We have loved every moment of our summer and I am going to really miss the lazy days that we have been enjoying these last few months.

As another school year is fast approaching in our house it has been a flurry of activity- uniform shopping, clothes shopping, shoe shopping, backpack shopping, school supplies shopping,  ice cream treating, lots of individual dates with each kid, and plenty of talking about the exciting year to come.

I just wanted to point out a few of my favorite resources for moms that might help you as you ease back into your busy school year! These are my favorite resources for organizing and feeding my family during this busy time!

Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas:

Lighter Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes (make and pop them in the freezer for the school week)

Fluffy & Light Pumpkin Pancakes (make and pop them in the freezer for the school week)

6 Amazing Waffle Recipes & Tips for Getting Your Waffle On

Protein-Packed Strawberry & Banana Smoothies

Banana Cream Pie Smoothies

Slow Cooked Oatmeal

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (a great way to celebrate your week at school on Saturday morning)

Honey Nut Granola

Vanilla Scented Granola

Deliciously Homemade Granola Bars

Getting Organized for Back-to-School:

One Month of Slow Cooking (perfect for those days filled with after-school activities)

The Essentials for Saving on Back-to-School

Weekly Planner Sheet

Weekly Menu Planner Sheet

Transforming the Paper Clutter

Choosing a Great Family Organizer for Your Family

Simplifying Your To-Do List

Ideas for Celebrating That First Day of School:

Back-to-School Close to My Heart Pin

Back to School Celebration Feasts with Recipes

Back-to-School Celebrations

World’s Greatest Homemade Slushies

Throw a Frugal Pizza Party

For Capturing Those Back-To-School Photos:

Capturing Your Children Through Photography

Making Lunch Special:

How to Save on School Lunches

Ideas for Making Lunch Fun & Healthy

Free Printable Lunch Box Notes

Writing Love Notes to Your Child

Fun with After-School Snacks:

Deliciously Easy Raisin Bran Muffins

Apple Pie Muffins

Deliciously Homemade Granola Bars

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

Simple Oatmeal & Chocolate Chip Muffins

Easy Cereal Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Showing Your Teachers Some Love

Creamy Hot Cocoa or Vanilla Chai Drink Mixes

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Oreo Biscotti

Effortless & Elegant Quick Breads You Can Make

Homemade Peppermint Bath Salts or Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath Soak

Rolled Rosette Ribbon Rings

Good luck to each of you that are on this journey again with your kids! I hope you all get off to a successful school year start.  I am sending each of you a coffee cup this size (see above) to get through all of it!

I hope these links to these past entries will inspire you as you prepare for this next school year!

Back-to-School Close to My Heart Pin: DIY Fabric Flowers

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

This is the true story of two girls. One girl had a strong will and was a perfectionist. The other girl had a strong will and was a perfectionist. These two girls had a hard time coexisting together. One girl had to become a little softer with her heart and learn to let the little stuff go. The other girl turned four and just became a tad more laid back and a little easier for her mother to deal with.

Suddenly, these two became not only mother & daughter, but fabulous friends. They went on outings together, sang in the car wherever they went, watched girlie movies on Netflix,  and had many Chinese & haircut dates together. They did everything together and learned to love each other even more than before.

Now my best friend is leaving me for kindergarten.

Please don’t ask me about it.

I will cry.

This craft is an idea born from my own bittersweet sadness about my Emily leaving me for school. I wanted to create a little something for her that would remind her that mommy was always with her and was always thinking about her no matter where she was.  This is my Close to My Heart pin and I am sharing this craft idea with you today for the back-to-school season!

Head to your local Walmart and visit the craft supplies section of the store and you will find fabric quarters available for purchase for $1.27 each. You will also need one sheet of red felt for this project for the base of your fabric flower for a mere $.20!  If you are creating a pin for attaching the fabric flower to clothing, look in the jewelry section for 1 1/2″ bar pins with an adhesive backing. If you want to clip the fabric flower in your daughter’s hair, you can also find metal barrettes, hair clips, or even headbands in the jewelry section or by the ribbon to attach these simple flowers to.

If you don’t have a glue gun and glue sticks, be sure to pick those up as well.

You will need to cut nine circles out of your fabric. I used a large circle punch and created my template out of scrap card stock. You could also just trace a lid to a canning jar, if you don’t have a circle punch handy.

Grab your red felt and cut a heart out for the base of your flower. I just folded it in half and cut it just like I used to do my hearts for my Valentine’s.  This is the sentimental part of this pin for your sweet child, but if you just want to do a felt circle, you can do that as well!

Let’s make some flower petals. Fold your circle in half as shown.

Fold up one side of the circle that has been folded in half.

Fold up the other half of the halved circle and have it meet with the other side to form a petal.

It should look like this swirly thing on top.

Now hot glue the seam just a tiny bit together where the petal is gathered and then hot glue the end of the petal to the felt heart. Repeat this with all four ends of the heart. In the spaces left, fill in with three or four more petals. At the end, you will have one hole in the center to put in one or two petals that you have left. To get more visuals on this, I have created a vlog below where you can watch the petals being applied in action.

Once it is all filled in, it will look like this. You can leave it plain like this or you can add a cute button in the center by just smashing down the petals and hot gluing a button in the center. I think it looks pretty both ways!

On the back of your fabric flower, you can attach either a pin (for pinning to their jacket or backpack) or a metal barrette to pull back their hair. We did a few each way so that we could accessorize those uniforms and glam up her backpack too.

I hope she knows how much I love her while she is off to school and be reminded of my love when she looks at her pin. I hope you can give this easy craft a try and that it can serve as a reminder to your daughter how special she is to you.

I love you, Emily!

What special traditions have you created for the back-to-school season in your house? I would love to hear your ideas! Be sure to check out my vlog below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make these easy pins!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Frugal Tips for Throwing a Fabulous Birthday Party On a Budget

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

It is hard to believe that my little guy turned nine this year!  When people told me that the years would go by quickly, I did not believe them. It has seemed though that I blinked my eyes and he has grown up. As we do each year, I look forward to celebrating him and wanted to share with you the results of another fun patriotic party that we threw to celebrate Ethan and his awesomeness.

This year’s Walmart Moms challenge was to embrace the 4th of July using supplies from their store and I hope you will love these inexpensive additions that I added to our party this year.

I am lucky to have one child who has a 4th of July party every year and one child who has a Christmas birthday.  I always pick anything that is red for these parties because I know that they will serve double duty for our birthday bashes.

I hate to waste any money on paper products and decided this year I would make an investment into napkins for outdoor party. These bandanas in navy and red were the perfect solution for outdoor entertaining and a steal for just $1. I grabbed these over in the Women’s department by the purses and accessories for women. Honestly, if you have any party theme, they had everything from zebra print, to camouflage, to hot pink designs. I picked up sixteen (a $16 investment)  of these and rolled silverware sets in each one and put them in the glasses for easy grabbing.

Last year, I got these silverware sets for very little money at the wholesale club.  They aren’t the best quality, but they work so wonderfully for occasions like this. Thrift stores also sell silverware and you can often find bags of it very inexpensively. Rolling these into sets made it easier for everyone to grab what they needed and kept the line for the food moving a little quicker. When you are serving a large group, taking an hour to get everything set up like this will really pay off!

Our burger baskets from last year are still going strong and are always a hit at parties. I found these at our local restaurant supply store ($14.99 for 12) and I purchased one package of delicatessen paper ($4.99 for 500 sheets) for my family celebrations. These are not only used for our parties, but for pretty much any cookout our family does.  I couple these with small plates for appetizers or sides that just won’t fit in the baskets and an additional plate for the dessert table. These really have paid for themselves over and over again and I love a nod to anything retro.

Tissue paper pom poms are my new favorite thing to make. I made these in shades of pink for Emily’s Barbie birthday party this year and thought it would be fun to have these on hand for our patriotic parties too.  These cost $1 in tissue paper to make (I grabbed the tissue paper over by the Hallmark displays at our Walmart store) and can all be done in about thirty minutes.

Visit this tutorial to get the scoop on how to make these.  I did the same thing as I did with that tutorial, but cut the corners to a point instead of the rounded, more feminine corners that I did for my daughter’s party. I have packed these away to be brought out for next year’s party or (minus the blue) these could be added for a Valentine’s Day celebration with the addition of one of my pink pom poms from my daughter’s party.

I love a good red, white, and blue theme, but you have to appeal to what your kids desire too. Each year I let my children pick their own cake out of my stack of cookbooks and then I ask them what character they would like to go with for the year. This year, Ethan said he wanted a Bakugan cake. I visited the  toy section of our store and found these little guys for $10 to put on top. Whatever tops the cake, doubles as part of their birthday gift so these little guys were rinsed after their cake debut, and are now performing Bakugan battles in my son’s room.

The cake itself was a melted ice cream cake created from a cake mix and a pint of the birthday boy’s favorite ice cream. Tune in on Monday for that recipe and for the homemade chocolate marshmallow ganache that frosted the top. The Wilton sprinkles were leftover from last year’s party and worked perfectly again to add a little nod to the 4th of July theme.

Last year’s star garland was hung (free), a red tablecloth that I have had for about eight years was placed on the table (free), three flags from our party two years ago were nestled in red tissue paper and a glass apothecary jar that I had in our family room (free), and a navy bandana was angled beneath the cake for to add a little bit of color to the display ($1), with the three tissue paper pom poms hung from white ribbon above ($3).

The trifle that I shared with you is a new family favorite and I couldn’t wait to make it. This glass trifle bowl was only $6.97  at the store and will be used over and over again in our house. Everyone must have had the same idea as me because they were all out of these at our store. Thankfully, my girlfriend happened to be at another Walmart when I called, and she snagged one at her store and saved the day for me!  I can’t wait to try other desserts in this and even use this bowl for decorating in our house. Be sure to check out the recipe for the red, white, & blueberry trifle!

Two summers ago we bought one of those atrociously large water slides to put up in our backyard to keep the kids entertained. Bought on clearance towards the end of the summer, it has paid for itself in party entertainment and for days when I just want the kids to entertain themselves.  The past couple of parties the weather has not cooperated with this form of entertainment for our guests, but this year proved to be just the right amount of humidity and sun that we could put this up for lots of slides and fun with our cousins.  I hate putting it up, I hate taking it down…but anything that can keep the kids happy and entertained for hours on end seems like a fantastic idea for a party.

There is nothing catered at this party and I try to mix in a few old favorites with new recipes each year to our party menu. I work hard to make the party planning process as painless as possible. Everything is done in stages during the week so the last day is just a matter of pulling everything together.  The cake is baked and frozen until the big day, all ingredients are chopped in bags and ready to go, the decorations are hung the day before, I try to incorporate one recipe that can be thrown into our slow cooker, and I do my best to make the last day as fun as possible for me too!

A few of the standby recipes we used this year were our Perfectly Pulled Pork Sandwiches, our Pesto Pasta Salad, and our Birthday Party Punch. More recipes will be coming in the next two weeks!

Of course, no party would be complete without the birthday announcement on the door. The kids have really come to love this tradition of hanging our birthday balloon wreath so everyone knows that their special day has arrived. It isn’t a party without a wreath.. at least that is my philosophy. There is nothing that makes me happier than these simple traditions of fun, food, and family.

happy 9th birthday, ethan alexander!

I hope this gives you a few ideas for your own parties and would love to hear how you keep your parties fabulous and frugal!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Father’s Day Gift Basket: A Fun Movie Gift Basket

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

It’s no secret that I love my dad like crazy! This week we got the opportunity to celebrate him at a dinner in honor of his 35 years of employment with Bayer. This picture of my sister & I with him is one of my favorites from that evening together.  Sadly,  for us, our brother hit the road to start a fresh new life in New Orleans so one piece of our puzzle was missing in this picture. We are missing him a lot already.

Regardless, this gave me an opportunity to give him his dad’s day gift a little early and shower him with love for all of his hard work our entire lives. I shared with you this week, a power-packed punch of a gift to give your favorite superhero dad. I hope that gave a few of you a fun idea for a quick gift to pull together. Now I wanted to showcase one other cute idea I have for a Father’s Day gift basket that I thought you guys might like.

For your basket, look for a popcorn bucket or tub that you can use to fill it with your movie supplies.  I found this tub at our local dollar store, but you can check near the popcorn aisle or over by the popcorn poppers for another fun tub that you can use for the base for your gift.

Next fill the bottom of your popcorn tub or bucket with a little shredded paper or tissue paper. Someone shipped something to me in a million pounds of this shredded paper so that is why I am such a fan of it for a free filler in our house. Whatever you might have in your wrapping supplies will work beautifully for this project.

Fill your popcorn tub with your dad’s favorite snacks. My dad loves black licorice and movie theater popcorn so we filled his up with those snacks to enjoy while he watches his favorite movies. I spent roughly $5 on snacks, but you can spend however much your own budget allows on the snack portion of this present!

Now comes the fun part. Grab your kids and take a few pictures of them pretending to watch a movie. Use your movie bucket for a prop and snap a few pictures that you can use for your gift.

Upload your photo to Picnik. Under the CREATE tab,  select EFFECTS, then select the BLACK & WHITE option to change your picture to a a black and white image. While still under the CREATE tab, select the option for TEXT. Once you are in text, put in your message for your dad. Make sure not to put your text all of the way to the edge of the photo because it may cut it off when you print it. It is better to get it a little further in to assure that you don’t waste ink, paper, or your time!

You can choose from a variety of fonts and colors. The font I choose for these images was Budmo Jiggler. I loved this font because it looked a little like a movie theater sign with one’s name in lights. Add a fun movie message, as we did here. You can do all of this with a free membership to Picnik.

Save your image once you have finished it. If you have a photo printer, you can print these out at home. I printed mine on 4×6 Kodak paper with my photo printer. Attach this image to the front of your movie tub.

To include in our movie tub, we added a gift card for two month’s of Netflix for only $15.98. With our five dollars in snacks, this gift is just a little  over twenty dollars, but is worth two month’s of fun! We tied the gift card with this photo that we also printed on 4×6 paper and finished it all with a little red ribbon.

This quick and easy gift is ready to go and can be pulled together in just a few minutes!  I hope this gift will offer a little more inspiration to your Father’s Day gift ideas and we wish all of our dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day from us!

We happen to have a pretty amazing dad in our midst that we are looking forward to showering with love this year! I feel so incredibly blessed that our children have such an awesome father and am a lucky girl myself!

Happy Father’s Day, Dads!

Father’s Day Gift Basket: A Power Pack for Your Super-Dad!

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Where would we be without wonderful fathers in our life?  Father’s Day gifts are always a challenge for me because I want something that shows our dads how special they are to us, but I can’t always think of the best way to show how much we love them.  This year I decided to make two gift baskets for our dads that are a breeze to pull together, are personalized to each of our dads, and happen to be awfully affordable.

This month’s DIY challenge for Walmart was to create a Father’s Day gift using items purchased from the store.  Head on over to your store to pick up the supplies for these fun gift baskets for your dads. I promise you that these gifts will be a big hit.

For our first Father’s Day gift, we have a sporty dad in our life. Ryan’s dad is passionate about biking and spends a lot of time clocking the miles on his bike. We thought we would make a power pack for our favorite superhero dad with snacks and drinks that he can take on the road with him.

Start with a basket or tub. I found this party tub over with the outdoor supplies for $4.57. This is a deep tub and  will be perfect for on the patio after dad is done using it for his gift.

On the bottom of the tub, put a layer of newspaper to fill out the tub. We don’t want to waste our budget on fillers for the basket and this is a great way to make the basket look fuller for less.

Now that we have filled out the bottom, you can add cute shredded paper, tissue paper, or anything else you might have in your wrapping supplies. Fill it out just enough that it looks full and hides the newspaper bottom.

Now it is time to fill it with power foods. I got Powerade and power protein bars for our dad. Feel free to add your own spin on the power foods. In my opinion, coffee and chocolate are power foods that would fit very nicely into this theme. Explore the grocery aisles for your own dad’s favorite power foods.

Next I had my kids pose for pictures in their superhero capes. Feel free to make your own spin on this though. You could also have your children do strong man poses or lift weights, put on a sweatband and leg warmers, whatever you think says power. Your dads will really get a kick out of this.

Upload your photo to Picnik. Under the CREATE tab,  select EFFECTS, then select the LOCOMO-ISH option to change your picture to a a brighter image. Use the scale to slide down the color on it so it looks bright and fun, but not flourescent. While still under the CREATE tab, select the option for TEXT. Once you are in text, put in your message for your dad. Make sure not to put your text all of the way to the edge of the photo because it may cut it off when you print it. It is better to get it a little further in to assure that you don’t waste ink, paper, or your time!

You can choose from a variety of fonts and colors. The font I choose for these images was Lexographer. You can do all of this with a free membership to Picnik.

Save your image once you have finished it. If you have a photo printer, you can print these out at home. I printed mine on 4×6 Kodak paper with my photo printer. If you don’t have a photo printer, Walmart offers one hour prints. The cards themselves are almost as awesome as what is inside your baskets.

Tape this image to the front of your party tub. I also stuck another picture on the other side of the tub of my daughter with her extremely scary power pose.

If you would like, you can include a small denominator gift card in your basket for some power tunes for the iPod or even a powerful book that dad could read.  I tied this with ribbon and attached it with this superhero card to let him know that this gift was for additional power.

This is a gift that I know your dad would love and the kids will have a blast creating it with you! I will be back tomorrow with one more quick gift basket idea and I hope that this will give a few of you a little last minute inspiration!

What gifts do you have up your sleeve for you dads this year? What gift has been the biggest hit? I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.