Thursday, July 28, 2011

Big Baby's Big Birthday and How We Celebrated (for cheap!)

She started out with dark, reddish hair...

And now she has white hair!
OMG, I can't believe my baby is one! It baffles me to try to figure out where the last year has gone.

It was awesome to finally get to celebrate a birthday in the summer. I love outdoor parties and found a lot of inspiring pictures on pinterest, but since our budget for Big Baby's big birthday was somewhere just above nothing I had to figure out a way to make it all happen for CHEAP!

Here's how I did it:

Homemade reusable snack-bags as treat bags filled with a little bit of candy and some fruit snacks.
Bubble wands from the Dollar Store paired with homemade bubble solution (water, dish soap, and light corn syrup)

For the menu, I made slow cooker, BBQ pulled pork from a pork roast and hot dogs. I paired that with fresh corn and a pasta salad with artichokes, feta, and tortellini. My mom and mother-in-law both helped out by bringing a seven layer (I guess technically a six layer since I made her leave the bacon off...did you know I'm a vegetarian?) and a fruit salad, respectively. Plus, I made vanilla AND chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing, because that's how I roll people. My mom also helped with set up and clean up because she's awesome.

We didn't do a lot as far as presents go, but I made her a cute top with fabric from the dollar table at Hancock, and some sheets also off the dollar table.

And that's it, folks! If you want anymore info on anything just let me know, and I'll be happy to oblige with a tutorial or two.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We're Maybe Going Overboard...

...on this whole cheap thing, but you gotta do what works, right?

It's literally a million degrees outside right now. I shit you not. It is like walking on the sun. And, it's a thousand percent humidity. And guess what? The kids want to play outside. That's right. All those cool mornings when I was like, "No video games! Get outside and play you little slackers." And they whined like sallies. Now it's so hot that old people and babies can't leave the house without an AC unit strapped to their back, and they want to play.


My manfriend being the engineering sort that he is built them a slip and slide. Yes, I know they're $2.50 at Target right now, but we already have a tarp and sprinkler.

It's like bowling, but with children!

I'm thinking about turning these into a flip book so I can laugh at my kids even when they're not around.

It hurts, but I think I like it!

Thing 1's turn.

Right up the middle.


Do it again, Dad!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Refashion: Men's T-shirt into Women's Summer Top Tutorial!!

I made this shirt today after coming back from the park. Big Baby was napping and the boys were blissfully watching Chicken Little. Except for when I made Thing 1 be my assistant and take pictures, which he was not very happy about.
Here we go!

This is the original shirt. It's my manfriend's. Or it was! I'd been waiting for this one to be
handed down for about a year now. He never wore it, and it was a nice thin tee from Target.
So, I just went in his drawer and took it. Sucka.

You will need a men's t. This one's an XL and I'm about a S/M.
Some stretchy lace. It probably wouldn't have to be stretchy, but this stuff that I used is. It's a remnant, so I can't tell you more than that.
1/4 inch elastic. Enough to wrap around the upper part of your chest.
Various sewing tools.

Slice off the top of the t-shirt right at the armpit hole, preserving as much of the length as you can.

Measure across your chest. This is how much 1/4 elastic you will need.
 Cut two strips of the lace material the width of your t-shirt, plus 1/2 inch for seam allowance. Sew that into one piece. Or, if your lace material is long enough, just cut one piece plus 1/4 for seam allowance. Sew it wrong sides facing so that you have a circle the same width as your shirt.
Wrong sides facing so that the seam is on the inside when you sew it to the shirt.

Using a seam ripper, cut a rip out part of the seam in the bottom of the t-shirt. This is going to be the top of your shirt,
and the casing for the elastic.

Edge stitch the lace to the front top of the shirt (what used to be the bottom). I'm doing this before I
put the elastic in the casing so I don't accidentally sew the elastic. My lace didn't need anything done to it
to prevent it from fraying; if yours does, then do something to it. Like folding and then sewing, fray checking,
zig zagging or what have you.

Using a safety pin or bodkin push the 1/4 inch elastic through the casing. I like to double the end of the elastic
before I put it on the safety pin so that it doesn't pull out part way through the
mother f@#$ing casing.

Try it on and figure out placement for your straps. I just put them so they'd cover my bra. I had a hard time deciding
whether to make the straps out of lace or knit, but in the end I went with lace. I think I like it.
Thing 1 wouldn't help me with pictures anymore at this point (even though I put his ninja costume him!), so
I had to do them myself.

The rear view.
I left the bottom (where we cut the top off) unfinished for more of a bohemian, deconstructed look. Plus I'm lazy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Sometimes (albeit very rarely because of Thing 2's penchant for bananas) we have enough overripe bananas to make banana bread. That makes Thing 1 incredibly excited because while he does not like bananas, he very much enjoys banana bread. And guess what? It's cheap.

It's been crazy hot out, which has helped the speed at which the bananas ripen, so this week we had three overripe bananas plus four frozen overripe bananas. (Sometimes when bananas are at that almost black stage I throw them in the freezer to use later in smoothies or bread) Banana bread is easy to make and a great way to use up something you might otherwise throw away. This is a recipe that my mom gave m,e with some slight modifications.

Banana Luncheon Bread
1 C All purpose flour
1 C Whole wheat flour (you can use two cups of all purpose flour, but then omit one T milk later)
1 t baking power
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 c shortening or butter
3 medium overripe bananas (the blacker the better, but don't let them turn to liquid!)
2 eggs
3 T milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together shortening (or butter) and sugar. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer for this step, but you should mix the rest of the ingredients by hand. Over mixing will make the bread dry.

I don't have a photo of what the sugar mixture looks like creamed because Captain Hook was attacking his younger brother
with the dough hook. It should gain in volume (the sugar mixture not C. Hook) and look, well, creamy. Add the eggs
one at a time and mix well.

Mash the bananas. We use this little egg fellow that my mother-in-law bought me for making egg salad.
Isn't he cute?

Mix the rest of your dry ingredients together. Add your mashed bananas to your dry ingredients and mix.
Combine the rest of the banana mixture, sugar mixture and milk, but do not over mix.

Grease your pans. Do you remember that Simpsons episode where the janitor goes in the venting system and he says,
"Grease me up, woman!" I think about that EVERY time I grease a pan.

Fill your pans. The recipe makes one loaf, but we had lots of bananas. If you're making more than one loaf,
just be careful not to over mix. I feel like I've said that a thousand times.

 Bake for 60-65 minutes. After about 20 minutes, put a sheet of tinfoil over the top of your loaf pan so the top doesn't get too dark. Unless you dig that.

Allow bread to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out. Yum, yum.

You could add nuts or chocolate chips, too, if that floats your boat. My kids are purists (read: picky) so we leave those out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pat the Husband

Have you seen this book by Kate Nelligan? It's a hilarious spoof on Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunard, which I'm sure many of you have read over and over and over and over to your babies. It's got the same kind of touch and feel pages and old timey colored pictures. I bought it for my mom as part of her Christmas gift!

My favorite section of the book is when Judy and Paul have the EXACT same flu, only Paul is pretty sure that he's dying. Mmmm hmmm. That sounds familiar.

Do I need to mention that my husband and I have the EXACT same head cold right now? And mummy's going about her business, getting up at 6:00 a.m. to work out, feeding kids, playing with kids, taking them to the park, baking, washing, laundry, etc. while daddy sleeps in and sits on the massage chair?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Freckle Check

Part way through the summer of cheap. While we don't skimp on sunscreen, summer still has a way of breaking through and blessing us with freckles.
Nothing. Just the pure untouched face of a baby.

Just a smattering. I think his eyes are turning green and I tell him that pretty much every day. His reasoning,
"It's because I kiss you so much, Mama."

He has the other two beat hands down.

This is my duckface.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Puddin' Pops

Yum. I love pudding AND I love Popsicles. One day the big squids and I decided to combine the best of those flavorful worlds and make homemade pudding pops. The boys were aflurry with excitement.
We used two versions of pudding to make our pops: Cook and Serve and Instant. Both turned out fine.
The vanilla Cook and Serve style was from my husband's grandma's cupboard when she moved out of her house.
Kind of gross that it has a shelf life like that, but it was cheap and yummy!
Cook according to the package directions, but add an additional 1/3 C milk to thin the pudding a bit.
That makes it go farther and helps it freeze more firmly.
Getting ready. We had more chocolate than vanilla, by popular vote.
I don't remember what pudding tastes like. Do I like it?

Oh, that's right.

It's delightful!
Hard at work.

At first they were worried about cross contaminating chocolate to vanilla.

My manfriend thought he could make it go faster with a turkey baster before I informed him that:
A. I didn't want it to go faster. Hello, it's rainy outside and we're bored!
2. That's kind of gross.

A lot of bites made it to his mouth instead of his Popsicle tray.

Getting there.


One big box of pudding and one little box of pudding filled up two Popsicle trays. Minus whatever went into our mouths.

The next day, the kids were ready for puddin' pops right away.

Doesn't he look wistful? After this picture he asked, "Mom...couldn't we have another?"
Super fun and super cheap. And super time consuming! The popsicle trays were $1.29 at Woodmans. I don't know how much pudding costs...about a buck I'm guessing. These had been in my cupboard for awhile. Add in the cost of milk...not bad at all.