Monday, November 30, 2009

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25 Ornaments- Day 1

For my first craft, I looked around online for an easy ornament craft. The one I found was just darling- a stuffed triangle snowman, without sewing! With the first go around, I followed most of the instructions, but I think if I were to make another, I would use my sewing machine instead of a glue gun.

No-Sew Triangle Snowman

You'll Need:

  • 1 sheet white felt
  • Cotton batting
  • Hot glue gun
  • 2” x 4” piece of scrap felt
  • 1” x 10” piece of scrap felt
  • A scrap of yarn
  • Ribbon scrap
  • 2 buttons
  • Black and orange acrylic paint
  • Scissors
  • Pattern
  1. Print the pattern, or if you feel confidant, cut a diamond shape from felt. With the pattern supplied, 1 sheet of felt will only make 2 snowman. These are pretty big snowmen, though, so I think you could easily go smaller. 
  2. Plug in the hot glue gun to start warming up.
  3. Pin the pattern to the felt, and cut out the diamond shape.
  4. Cut out a long strip of felt in 1 color for the scarf. Fringe both ends.
  5. Cut a rectangle of felt in the same color or another color for the hat. Fringe one of the long sides.
  6. Once the glue gun is warm, glue up the sides of the diamond, and fold together, leaving the pointed end open to stuff. The original instructions say to turn the triangle inside out, but I did not do this, I just left if the way it was.
  7. Stuff the triangle, and glue the top seam together.
  8. Using the head of a pin, dip it in black paint, and make two eyes near the top of the triangle. Below that, use a new pin head to dip into orange paint and make a carrot nose. You could use black for a "coal" nose instead. Let dry.
  9. Take the rectangle piece, and fold the un-fringed side to glue, so the hat has a folded edge similar to a stocking hat. Once it's glued, fold the hat together, and glue the seam together. Use the piece of yarn to tie the top of the hat just below the fringe, to create a fringed puff on top.
  10. If the face is dry, slip the hat on the head, and glue it into place.
  11. Wrap the scarf around the neck of the snowman, and glue it into place.
  12. Arrange the buttons, and glue them into place on the front of the snowman.
  13. Lastly, make a loop from the scrap of ribbon, and glue it to the back of the snowman's head, to hang the ornament from.

End thoughts-

While this was certainly an easy ornament to make, the hot glue means it isn't necessarily a kid friendly craft, at least not for young kids. Aside from that, hot glue on felt, with batting makes a gooey mess of fluff.

I would sew this in the future myself, replacing the hot glued seams with sewn seams. However, for the sewing challenged, it is still very doable without a needle and thread.


Sewing Machine Advice

For Christmas this year, I am getting a new sewing machine. The one I use currently is not a great machine, but it was a free hand me down. The tension has always been wacky, and it won't sew any type of delicate fabric (sheers, lace, decroative costume fabrics, etc, without the feed EATING it!). It gives me headaches. I get into a sewing mood, and put up with it for some time, then fizzle out on it, because I get so fed up with it!

So, where was I? Yes, a new sewing machine. My budget is $150 (with a tiny bit of budge room), and while I would love to shop anywhere, $100 of that is coming from Walmart in the form of a Christmas gift card, soo.... I need some advice from the sewers out there.

There are probably 6-7 machines on that range from $70-160. They all have great reviews, with a small handful of not-so-great reviews. Here are the specific machines I am looking at:

Brother 60 Stitch CS-6000i This machine is $160. This has almost a 5 star average rating. It has 404 user reviews, 299 of which are 5 star, and 77 are 4 star. However, it has the highest 1 star reviews at 17, but given how many reviews there are, the average is lower for 1 star ratings than with other machines. There are 6 3 stars and 5 2 stars, as well.

Brother 50 Stitch Project Runway Edition This machine is $140. This machine has 115 reviews. 101 are split between 4 & 5 star ratings, with 3 3 star ratings, 3 2 star ratings, and 8 1 star ratings. In all, it has almost a 4 and a half star rating average.

Brother 35 Stitch XL3750 This machine is $140 as well. This machine has just 20 total reviews, resulting in just a shade over 4 out of 5 stars average. There are 11 5 star reviews, 5 4 star reviews, 2 3 star reviews, and 1 each of a 2 and 1 star review. In looking at the numbers, I'm going to cross this one off the list myself.

After just now looking at the other, cheaper models, I noticed that most had 20 or less stitch types, and I would like to have more options than that. My current machine boasts all of 13, 3 of which are button hole stitches the machine won't actually do. Heck, out of the 13, the machine can only handle 4. I would love to have lots of stitches available, but in having just recounted just how few my machine actually does, perhaps a 20 or 25 stitch machine isn't so bad? ;)

Here are some more machines.

Singer Simple 23-Stitch Machine 2263 This one is $90. This has only 26 total reviews, giving it just a shade over 4 stars in average. 12 are 5 star ratings, 11 are 4 stars. There are 2 2 star ratings, and 1 1 star rating.

Brother 25 Stitch Free Arm Machine, XL-2600i This machine is also $90. 80 reviews, giving it an average of 4.3 stars out of 5. 46 are 5 star reviews, 26 are 4 star reviews. Only 8 reviews total make up the 3, 2, and 1 star reviews.

All 5 machines have good reviews for the most part.In an ideal world, I would go with a $600 Singer, and get a Serger as well. But, this is hardly an ideal world. It's my frugal world.

I'm hoping someone out there has used one of these machines, and can give me some advice. Being that the money is mostly in gift cards, it really limits just what I can do for a machine. We don't have a lot of extra money to put into a sewing machine right now, but I do want one, so I can try to tackle more things.

Please, leave a comment and help me out! I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts, even if they have not used any of the above machines!

My Frugal Family on Facebook

When I changed my page over from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I lost the code to show the My Frugal Family fan box from Facebook.

For those who want to follow me on facebook, here's the link.

I'd love to see more of you there as well!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good Morning!

I spent almost all day yesterday on my feet baking, but my mom and I got SO much done. I won't have to bake this month again, unless I want to, and I'll have plenty of treats to take to holiday parties, and pass out to neighbors, and of course, eat here at home.

We tackled:

Homemade peanut butter cups
Peppermint Bark
Peanut Brittle
Brownie Bites with Candy* -you bake the brownies in mini muffin tins, then shove candy in the top as soon as it comes out, so it melts into the brownie.
Cookie Bites with Candy* -you bake the cookies in mini muffin tins, then shove candy in the top as soon as it comes out, so it melts into the cookies.
Peanut Butter Fudge
Chocolate Fudge
Sugar Cookies

I -think- that's everything. It was a long day, but I came home with 2 large boxes filled with treats, and an ice cream bucket filled with treats. Oh, so good!

Don't forget everyone- I'm holding a contest that ends on December 1st for a copy of the movie Fred Claus. Sign up is just a comment on the post.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Baking Day!

Last year, I got together with my mom, two sister-in-law's, aunt, and a friend of my mom's to bake on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Today, we're getting together again with a smaller group.

We spend the day making our holiday treats, so that we can stash most of them in the freezer, so that we can get our baking done before the holiday's get hectic. I have 6 different types of cookie dough going with me, as well as candy canes for peppermint bark.

My mom made up the peanut butter stuffing for peanut butter balls, and peanut clusters. We're also making fudge, brownie bites, and peanut brittle.

The day will be fun, and packed with goodies galore! I've got containers and freezer bags to bring the treats home in, so I can stash them away until closer to Christmas.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Comments FIXED- & A Contest!

After a few tears (yes, really), and some bad feelings, revearting my blog, and removing all the customization, I finally was able to fix the comments.

I was not happy, and was at the point where I was contemplating starting a whole new blog, because even after removing every customized item from my blog, the comments were still gone. I was NOT a happy Heather. I finally figured it out, though, and viola- my blog now allows comments again!

Now I just have to go through and re customize all of it. :(

This morning, I announced a contest on THIS post. I didn't announce it loud, you had to read the post to see it. However, it is there, so if you go back and read the post, feel free to now enter the contest!

In the mean time, back to working on my blog. Seriously.. I really wish Blogspot allowed for customization a lot easier than it does.

Uh Oh! Comments

I was just alerted to the fact that this new template does NOT allow for comments to be posted! How crappy is that??? I didn't realize it had done that, so now I have to re-do the whole blog. I'm kind of upset! Come to look at it, though, and I have not received a single comment since I redid the blog.

Why can't blogger by EASY to change around? Seriously? This sucks.

If ANYONE knows how to fix this, please email me at:


Thank you!!

Gift Wrapping Tips & More

Now that my shopping is done, I have to tackle the job of sorting & wrapping gifts. We have 1 December baby (27th) and 1 January baby (15th), so when I shop for Christmas, if I find a good deal, I also birthday shop, which means sorting those items out from the Christmas items, as well.

***Read all the way to the bottom of this post! ;)

Here are some of my tips to help you out this year.

  1. Call up your friends or relatives, and have a Wrap Party. Everyone brings gifts, wrapping paper, and you wrap, wrap, wrap, out of the eyes of prying kids. Also helpful? Additional adults who can write out disguised Santa tags.
  2. Pick your paper carefully. If you have kids who snoop, one way to help deter them a bit is by not adding a tag to the paper when you wrap it. But to do that, you need to select 1 or 2 specific papers per child- and make a note of it! Cut a small scrap of each paper used, and tape it into a notebook with a name, so you can reference who gets what when you add tags on Christmas Eve. Or, simply tell the children which paper is theirs on Christmas Morning
  3. Skip bows when wrapping if you are not putting them directly under the tree- they always fall off, or get crushed. I add bows to the gifts on the top of the pile as we play Santa on Christmas Eve. That way, there are bows, but without the crushed, knocked off pile left on the bottom.
  4. If Santa still visits your house, and your children are still believers, then it is an absolute MUST to set aside a different wrapping paper for Santa gifts. I know, this seems like a no-brainer, but it took my then-3-year-old daughter exclaiming, "Look Mom, Santa uses the same wrapping paper as you!" to realize that maybe I should use a different paper for him. Now, I buy paper with Santa on it, and tags with Santa on them, and those are only for use on Santa gifts.
  5. If you have holiday get togethers to go to, pick a separate paper for each location. This way, when it's time to sort out gifts to bring, you can visually do it faster than by sorting through names.
  6. Buy your paper after Christmas! This way, it's cheaper. Stock up on it, and pack it away with the Christmas decorations. Last year, I found 9 rolls of gorgeous holographic designed wrapping paper for just $.19 a roll at CVS a few weeks after Christmas. I bought all 9. There isn't much on each roll, but at $.19, it's still cheaper than anything I'd be able to get this year.
  7. Use newspaper. Oldie, but it works, and recycles! You can wrap in regular newspaper or comics. If you use regular, you can easily decorate it with markers or ink pads. Additionally, you can use brown paper bags cut flat to wrap smaller items in. Why spend $1.99 or $2.99 on a roll of paper? Where does it wind up? In the trash, torn to bits. 
  8. Got a new stuffed animal? Don't wrap it! Tie a ribbon around it's neck, and nestle it in the branches of the tree. The kids just love seeing an immediate gift.
  9. If you are wrapping something small, buy some dishtowels at Dollar Tree, and some wired ribbon, and wrap the gift in a festive towel. It doubles as a second gift, and looks nice.
  10. Looking for boxes to wrap in? Save boxes you get from the store- cereal boxes, etc. Wrap the box up, so the paper is covering everything, and cut the top flaps off the box. Wrap the item with tissue paper, and use the box similar to a gift bag, with tissue sticking out the top.
  11. Want a unique name tag? Dollar Tree and other stores have miniature clay ornaments this year that are flat on the back. Write the name on the back of the recipient, and tie it to the box with some pretty ribbon. It doubles as a gift!
  12. Is it small? Why spend $1 on a gift bag, when you can spend a $1 on a stocking? Put the name on the front in glitter glue, and have tissue paper sticking out of the top. It doubles as a gift and a Christmas decoration. Or, go cheaper- make a stocking out of materials on hand!
 Feel free to add your own wrapping tips & hints in the comment section!

Oh, and the best part of this post? I'm giving away a FREE Christmas DVD of Fred Claus! Simply comment on the post for your chance to win a FREE Christmas DVD. The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, December 1st. Please include an email address! If I can not get a hold of the winner, a new winner will be picked!

Extra entries will not be given on this one, but please feel free to blog about the contest! The winner will be chosen using

This DVD was bought new this year, and was opened & watched one time, before I found that I had a copy packed away with the Christmas gifts from last year! I must have received it as a gift, because I have no memory of having bought it before.

This copy is the standard movie, not HD, widescreen, or Blu-Ray. This movie will work in all standard DVD players.

Due to high shipping costs, this contest is good for people who live in the US only!

And it's over...

At least for me. We went, we shopped, we waited in line, and we arrived home, safe and sound. We wound up with 5 gifts more each for each of the kids, mostly boring stuff. I bought both girls a new winter jacket. Raegan's from last year was kind of small & tight then, and amazingly enough, she didn't shrink over the past year.

Last year, I did what I try to do nearly every year- buy Gillian a winter jacket on clearance for the following year. Well, the one I wound up with last year was cheap on clearance, but a $45 jacket off clearance. However, the $5 price I paid for it was more accurate in how well it held up. It has only been washed once or twice this year, and it's falling apart.

So, both girls got new jackets. Rae's was only $7, and Gilly's was $15. They'll get those right away, since they are needed.

I did splurge and buy one of those popcorn tins for the whole family. It wasn't on the list, but was on sale for only $3.99, and it features A Christmas Story! I love that movie, it's one of my all time favorites!

We were home by 6am. It's one of the perks to living in a small town that has 2 large department stores. There are not a TON of people out shopping, so we can get in and out rather quickly, thankfully.

Our Christmas shopping is DONE! Now, on to the wrapping....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Countdown to Black Friday...

Black Friday- that mystical, once a year sale where prices drop, and women run around, snatching and grabbing, then tossing to bewildered husbands. Ahh... I love it!

We have a small list this year, but they are items I get traditionally each year for the kids, and I'd rather lose an hour or two of sleep to get them at less than a quarter of their regular price, than to pay full price later on. Thus is the standards of my frugality.

I wish you all well in your shopping endeavors!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Napkin Rings

After Halloween, I bought two containers of candy corn. One is Caramel flavored, and the other is Caramel Apple flavored. I plan to use them in the cookies the kids and I bake later, but I also used them to make napkin rings for our table.

This is a time consuming task, and it can't be done too early, or the candy corn will go stale. This works with just about any soft candy. I got the idea from my step-mom, who did this with Jelly Beans at Easter one year.

Candy Corn Napkin Rings

You'll Need:
Candy Corn
Needle** This needle will be pretty gross when you are done, so you may want to use one you don't mind throwing away!

  1. Thread the needle with a long length of thread, and double it over to tie off.
  2. Using the top of your desk, table, or other hard surface, prop the end of the needle, so you can gently push down on it with the candy corn. If you push too hard, the candy will break. I found it easier to push through the candy when the needle was braced against the desk.
  3. Keep stringing them on until you have about 15-20 candies in place, then knot the end, and tie it to the start of the thread to form a ring. The candies will swivel on the string, allowing rolled up napkins to easily pass through.

Good luck! You might want to try alternating between flavors, or adding in Indian corn (my favorite!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Excuse The Mess!

I'm reconstructing my blog. I really, really dislike that when you change the layout, you lose ALL your added widgets. SO annoying. -sigh- But, with a new layout, hopefully I can just change the colors & background now.


I've been nominated!

Last night, I didn't sleep. I have insomnia, but more on that further down in the post. Today is the kids last day in school before 5 days of for Thanksgiving, so I slept. Hard. Having only just gotten up, I found a comment from Jessica over at Mad in Crafts. She nominated my lil blog for a Kreativ Blogger award!

My blog is still fairly new, having been started in mid October. Over the past week, I've seen a steady climb in viewers, and I'm so very excited and flattered by how many people are enjoying my little blog, especially when I see so many cool blogs out there!

Okay, rule time:
~thank the person who nominated me for the award
~copy the logo and place it on my blog
~link to the person who nominated me
~list 7 things people may not know about me
~nominate 7 creative bloggers
~post their links
~leave a comment on each

Some of my faves, in no particular order:

1. ~Ruffles and Stuff~ - Disney sews amazing projects. I have a very basic knowledge of how to sew, and put it to work, but the projects she makes amaze me.

2. Someday Crafts - Michelle finds the coolest craft projects, and posts all sorts of neat projects on her blog. It's a great site for getting inspired, and for finding new blogs!

3. My Mama Made It - Alexis is another woman who sews some amazing creations. She's very big into refashioning shirts, and creating clothes that look like something found in Anthropologie. She has some pretty easy ideas for beginners like me.

4. Tatertots and Jello - How can you not love that title? Jen is a crafter, and creates some neat projects, and has giveaways often. It's a fun blog to follow!

5. Mad in Crafts - I don't know if I'm allowed to nominate the person who nominated me, or not, but Jessica at Mad in Crafts is one of my favorite blogs to visit. She has some great craft projects, and is great at recreating Pottery Barn decor from the Dollar Store!

6. 30Days - Mique (Mickey!) at 30days posts some cool projects, and has a pretty long list of ideas on things to make. She's got a great blog!

7. Rosies - Rosie's blogline is "We Can Do It!" She takes ideas that she's never tried, and just pushes through to do them, even if she's not sure how. She's got a lot of sewing projects and craft projects on her site.

So... 7 things about me, huh?

1. I'm a 31 year old stay at home mom to 3 kids. Raegan is 13, Chris is 10, and Gillian is 7. They are all in school full time now.

2. I've been a crafter all my life, but lack the patience for big projects, which is why you'll always see quick, easy projects on my blog.

3. I've relocated twice in my adult life. Both areas are only a little over an hour from my hometown, but it meant big change in friends.

4. My daughter Raegan was born the day after I turned 18.

5. I'm an insomniac. It started when I was pregnant with my son Chris, and it comes and goes. Sometimes, I'm awake for days. Most nights, I get between 3-5 hours of sleep.

6. I am not a housekeeper. I hate cleaning, I hate doing dishes. As such, my house is probably not the cleanest on the block. It's not a disaster, but with 3 kids, it's never completely clean for long, either.

7. I love to learn about history. When a topic comes up that catches my attention, I'll find out anything I can about it. The most reoccurring topic that comes up for me is the Holocaust and WW2. I'm hot in that topic right now, thanks to the History channel. The first time I was deep in that topic was in high school, after seeing Schindler's List for the first time. I cry nearly every time I see a documentary or read up on it.

So, there you have it. 7 things about me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tatertots and Jello- A Contest!

Over at Tatertots and Jello, Jen created a really cute advent calendar using magnets, a cookie sheet, and some great crafting supplies. And best yet? She's giving one away!

Hop on over there, and enter- you could be the winner of a great, handmade advent calender! Let her know Heather at My Frugal Family sent you!

photo credt: Tatertots and Jello blog

Our Advent Calendar

Last year, I found a couple of really cute stockings at Goodwill, and I started to realize just how much I adore stockings. I decided then and there that I would collect stockings. They are inexpensive, and not breakable. While I started collecting stockings, I was also looking for an easy way to make an advent calendar that was both big enough to stash treats for 3 kids, but small enough to pack away easily.

At some point, I realized that mini stockings would work out great. I waited until the holidays passed by, and stopped in to Dollar Tree. I found 2-packs of mini stockings for $.50 each, and bought up 12 matching packs. First I considered getting 4 packs each of 3 designs, but they were sold out of most of the designs, so I was unable to find an equal amount of any 3 designs. Instead, I wound up with 24 mini stockings in my favorite design last year.

When we unpacked the Christmas boxes yesterday, I found them all stashed away, just waiting for me. I dug them out, and spent about 15 minutes last night putting numbers on each of the stockings in glitter glue. It took all night for the glitter to dry, but now they are ready to go.

To hang them, I strung a wide 2" red grosgrain ribbon across my kitchen archway, which is pretty wide. I added a tack to the middle, so the ribbon won't get too weighed down, then used clothing pins to clip the stockings to the ribbon.

Now I'm just trying to decide- do I want to clip them up one day at a time, or remove them one day at a time? Hmm.... I also have to write up some activities to insert into the stockings, and get treats out for them. I picked up some candy on clearance after Halloween to use in the stockings.

Here are some of the different things I'll use to fill the stockings.

Holiday Pencils- I tried to glue a bell to the end of them, but the glue doesn't stick to erasers. Instead, I wrapped a tiny bow around the ends of the pencils.

Family Puzzle Night- I'll put a few puzzle pieces into the stocking, with a note to save them for the puzzle night. I can use this 2-3 times, before having a puzzle night scheduled for a weekend.

Mini Ornaments- The kids have a small tree we'll set up in their family room upstairs. On the day when we get it out, they will have 1 ornament each in the stocking to hang on the tree.

Hot Cocoa- the kids love hot cocoa, so I'll put together some baggies of cocoa & mini marshmallows for 1-2 of the stockings.

A Christmas Light- I'll have a lightbulb in one of the later stockings, for the night we're going to drive around looking at lights.

Movie Night- I will put a small baggie of popcorn in the stocking, for a night when we'll have a family movie night with a holiday movie. I will try to do this one twice as well.

A Cookie Cutter- for a day when we make holiday cookies, I'll include a cookie cutter in the stocking.

A photo of Santa- for the day when we go to visit Santa

And remember- I'd love to see any projects you make from my ideas!


Holiday Mail For Heroes

For 2009, the Red Cross is sponsoring a Holiday card drive for soldiers. It's simply and easy to participate, but there is a deadline.

Simply fill out a Christmas or Holiday card, and mail it to the address below by December 7th. That's all you have to do! The Red Cross will then make sure the cards are sent on to soldiers.

Holiday Mail For Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Cards MUST be post marked by December 7th, or they will be returned to the sender.

Here are some additional guidelines to follow:


Sign all cards
Entitle Cards "Dear Service Member, Family, or Veteran"
Limit the number of cards to 15 from any one person, or 50 from any one school class, business, or group.
Bundle groups of cards in a single, large envelope.

Send letters
Include personal information, such as home or email addresses.
Use glitter- excessive amounts can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients.
Include inserts of any kind as they must be removed in the screening process.

The program is to help deliver holiday cards only. Those wishing to donate phone cards or gift certificates should go to, scroll down to AAFES Community Connection, and click on Help Our Troops Call Home, or Gift Cards/Certificates For Our Troops.

Please, repost this on your own blog, and remember when addressing your Holiday cards, to include a few extras.


Santa Buddies = Free?!?!?

This week, Santa Buddies comes out on DVD & Blu Ray. Target has the Blu-ray combo pack (which comes with the DVD version) on sale for $19.99. Additionally, there is a Disney coupon good for $10 off, making it $9.99 out the door.

To make the deal even sweeter, there are 2 rebates available, each worth $5 back. The first rebate requires the purchase of a Butterball Turkey, and the movie Santa Buddies. To qualify for this rebate, you need to send in a COPY of your receipts. It does NOT require the actual receipts. The purchases can be made at two different stores, they do not both have to be purchased at the same time, on the same receipt.

The second rebate is from Kernel popcorn seasonings. Buy any 2 Kernel Seasonings, and the movie Santa Buddies (or one of 3 others), and receive $5 back by mail. This rebate requires the proof of purchase tab from the movie, as well as from the seasonings, in addition to the actual receipts for the products purchased.

If you get the movie for $19.99, and are able to do both rebates, this is a FREE movie! This is good ONLY on the BLU-RAY version of the movie, which DOES come with the DVD as well. That means anyone can use it!

I love Power Tools

Seriously, power tools are great. Friday, I snuck off to my favorite destination for craft supplies- Dollar Tree. When I got there, I had nothing in mind. I was looking for inspiration more than anything. I found some cute little wooden (I use that term loosely, I think they are actually fiber board material) signs edged with glitter.

I put it in the cart with no real intentions in mind. As I continued to walk, I found a small 16-count pack of mini ornaments, and some red & gold jingle bells. I tossed them in as well. After I started looking at the sign, I thought about dangling strings from them, and threading the bells & ornaments on the string.

Once I had that project in mind, I was off in search of some fish line, which my DT did not have. Instead, I found clear "stretchy" plastic thread, made for jewelry. I picked it up, having never worked with it before.

I went ahead and got the project out last night, and started working on it. I had seriously forgotten all about the neat rotary tool my dad had gotten for me a few years ago for my birthday. I was contemplating just how to put holes in the sign without asking the neighbor for power tools.

At some point, though, I did recall the tool, and it came to my rescue. It's a small tool, with assorted tips, drill bits, and what have you. I measured out how close I wanted the holes, and how many I wanted, then braced it, and punched 5 holes in it, quick as can be. I love, love, love power tools that are small enough for me to easily handle. It's going to remain in my craft area for the time being, so I have it when I need it.

When I got started, it became very quickly apparent that the stretchy plastic thread was not going to work, so I gave up. When I opened the bells, I realized they were not individual bells, but rather, a bell garland. I played around with it, and attached it to the sign, but I'm not in love with it just yet.

I think before I finish, I'll pick up some fish string, and just go with the original idea. In the mean time, I'll keep playing around with it, and seeing if I find another design I like.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frugal Goes McLinky

I found a new tool (new to me, anyway!) last night called McLinky. It allows you to put a list on your blog, allowing users to add a link to their own blog automatically.

I am inviting all the people who stop by and visit my blog to add their link to the list. You can find it on the bottom of the page, just above the followers list. Just add the title of your blog, and a link, and McLinky does the rest!

Any inappropriate links will be removed!


Frugal Fun Day

Yesterday, my insurance company hosted a free entry day to a local hands on science museum. I've been wanting to take Gilly, so we called up one of Nick's co-workers, and met her and her daughters at the museum. I was surprised at how few people were there.

While we were there, there were two parties. One was a birthday party with probably 20 kids. The other was some sort of after school group. When both groups were called to their party rooms, the museum basically emptied out, leaving just the 5 of us, and a few other people.

It was a fun little trip, and frugal as well, but it wasn't all that interesting. I love museums, especially hands on ones, and I was bored out of my mind. Gillian kept asking to leave, too, so I know she was also bored. I'm glad we didn't pay to go in. It was boring, but still fun to have gone, if that makes sense.

I had woken up yesterday with a horrid head cold, so that didn't help matters for me. I had a wretched sinus headache, and bright light hurt my eyes. The drive home was painful. While I was in Lansing, I stopped by Michael's Crafts to look for some new ideas. When we walked in, there were two booths set up, doing sort of a "How-To" booth. The first was "How-To" decorate cookies.

Here's this woman sitting, with probably 4 dozen undecorated cookies next to her, and probably 2 dozen decorated ones in front of her. Gilly, of course, was intrigued, and asked if she could have a cookie. No, the woman replied, she was not allowed to give them out.

I can understand why she isn't allowed to give them out- but then, why have so many? And why sit there, on a Saturday, in a store packed with mom's & kids, decorating cookies she can't give out? Why not decorate cardboard cutout's to show how to decorate cookies? Why use real cookies?

It just seemed odd to me that she would sit there all day decorating dozens of cookies, and not give them out.

Frugal Snowflake Crayons

This morning, I perused my dashboard of blogs I follow, and saw that Mad in Crafts had a new post about a frugal stocking stuffer. I love frugal anything, so I was drawn immediatly to her blog.

Those of us with kids know how much kids love to color, and how easily crayons break, and that no matter how much glue or tape they implore us to use, those crayons are never going to be the same as a whole crayon. I'm sure many of you have seen or even used the trick to melt crayons down into a muffin pan, so that they can be reused, right?

Well, Mad In Crafts took the idea, and exchanged a plain muffin pan for a snowflake shaped silicone muffin pan! The end result? A stack of adorable snowflake shaped crayons for kids.

They are frugal, easy to make, and as she said- they'd be a great stocking stuffer! I must have 10 boxes of crayons in my school supply drawer. I buy them up in bulk when they are only $.14 just before school starts. I'm already contemplating making white ones with small bits of color in them.

Thanks for the awesome idea!

About Me

This is probably a bit over due in coming, but better late than never, right?

My name is Heather, and I'm a 30-something stay at home mom to three monsters. Or minions. Or kids, what have you. The kids, as I type this, are fighting about who isn't doing their chores. I won't sugar coat it- my kids fight, and quite often, I feel like pulling my hair out.

Gillian, or Gilly Bean, is our youngest. She'll be 8 just after Christmas. She loves to read, and learned to ride a 2 wheel bike this past summer. Gilly loves it!

Christian, or Chris, is our only son, and will be 11 in mid-January. He's got severe ADHD, and is quite possibly bipolar. He can be a handful more often than not, but he's a sweet little boy who wants to be helpful to people. He plays video games, and reads books fast. When he was in the 1st grade, before he was diagnosed, he was way behind the class in reading. When we got him diagnosed, and onto meds, he went from barely being able to spell his name, to reading at a 4th grade level within 2 months. Yes, we do use medications, along with vitamins, and other supplements to make sure he can stay on task in school. No, I won't apologize for it. It's what works for him, and I won't take that away from him.

Raegan is our oldest. She's almost 14, and boy, does she have the teen attitude down pat at times. She is also a reader, though she is at an age where she doesn't read nearly as much for pleasure as she used to. Still, we encourage it as often as we can. Raegan loves to swim, and can't wait to join the swim team next year in high school. She is smart, too. This past fall, we found out that she scored in the top 10% in the state's required academic test. She was invited to take the SAT's this year, to judge her more accurately against a higher grade level of knowledge.

My kids are my life, and I love them, even if they do drive me a bit batty at times. With the kids in school all day, I have considered picking up a part time job, but jobs are hard to come by, and I'm scared that if I get a job, they won't look kindly on the days when I may have to leave early to pick up a sick kid.

Instead, I spend my days here, either reading, or crafting. Those are my past times. I love to read. I'll read trashy romance novels, or horror novels, or just about anything in between. My favorite authors are James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, Stephan King, and Tabitha King.

My husband and I met when he was in college, and I was visiting a friend who went to the same college. We wound up at the same card game. He flirted all night, and I ignored him. The next time I was up, I didn't ignore him. We got married 8 months later, and haven't looked back since.

You can find him in the blog-o-sphere over at Chalgyr's Game Room. It's a new blog, and it's about video games. He reviews them as a player, and as a parent of game players, so it might be a good site to look at if your child is asking for a new game for Christmas. Or, maybe your husbands would be interested.

So, that's me. Maybe not ALL of me, but you have a good idea of who I am now.

Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Noodles

In my family, we always went to my Grandma Hazel & Grandpa Lyle's house for major holidays. It didn't matter which parent we spent the night with, we always wound up at Grandma & Grandpa's house. It was always packed- my mom was the oldest of 4 kids. I am the second oldest of 7 blood related grandkids, and 4 step-grand kids. With the next generation started, at the last family holiday that was held (Christmas of 2004), there were 5 great grand kids.

The house was always packed, like I said. One of the traditional side dishes we have are just plain old egg noodles. My Grandpa always made them- sometimes with delicious homemade noodles, which were thick and tasty, but more often with store bought noodles.

It's a cheap & easy recipe, and tastes oh-so-good, even in left overs. They also make for a great turkey soup base.


You'll Need:
1 package of Egg Noodle Pasta- these are usually found in a bag, not a box.
3-4 cans of Broth- I always use Chicken broth, but this year, I'll be using 1 can of Vegetable Broth, as well.

Boil the noodles in the broth- that is very important! The first year I made these, they were tasteless. I had boiled the noodles in water, then strained them, and added the broth. They were horrible!

Once the noodles are tender, put them in a bowl with the broth, and serve up!

Like I said- simple, and cheap to make. This is a side dish I make for all of our holiday meals now.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Announcing The Winner!

I have been asleep much of the day, thanks to various types of cold medicine, which didn't exactly work, but hey- at least I slept through some of my head cold, right?

I really did mean to get this done earlier in the day, but sleep prevailed! Even Gilmore Girl goodness could not rouse me.

To pick a winner, since the kids are all in bed, I went through and added up how many entries each person got. From there, I assigned them numbers in order. For instance, if you were the first entry with 4 entries, you were assigned numbers 1-4. If you were the 2nd one with 3 entries, you were assigned numbers 5-7, etc, etc.

I then used's random number generator to pick the winner. All said and done, there were 40 total entries spread out for 13 people entering the contest, so I plugged in numbers 1-40, and asked for a random number.

And the winner is......

Number 16! Wooo.... Oh... you want to know WHO that is? All right...

The winner is Lesley! I will be contacting her via email to let her know she won! Congratulations Lesley, and thank you everyone who entered!!

I am hoping to have 1 more contest before Christmas, but I'll attempt to plan that sometime after this raging head cold goes away.

And the Winner....

...will be announced later today. Turns out, I have a horrendous head cold, and all I can think of doing right now, is crawling back into bed. Later today, when I feel more alive, I'll post the winner of the contest.

In the mean time, thank you everyone who entered, and who tweeted, or posted to facebooks, or blogs about the contest! There have been a lot of new faces here to the blog this week.

It's also been an exciting week for me, as a newbie blogger- I've been featured this week on 3 different blogs/websites for 2 of my projects! I'm so excited by that! When I look at all the gorgeous items some of these super talented people put out, I'm just amazed. I look at my crafts as easy, frugal, and quick things to make, and I'm glad others seem to like them as well!

My features this week are:

Someday Crafts- This cool blog has featured my Scarf & Hat from a Sweater tutorial.
Craft Gossip- This website, which houses just tons of ideas, has also featured my scarf & hat from a sweater tutorial!
Dollar Store Crafts- This feature is one I knew about ahead of time. I showed off my Dishtowel & Potholder Apron, and they loved it!

It also sounds like I might be featured again soon on another website, so I'm just as excited as can be! I also had my busiest blog day ever, in terms of visitors this past week. My prior high for the day was 303 visitors on November 9th. My new high is 410 on the 18th this past week! Since then, I'm averaging almost 300 a day, as well, which is just amazing to me!

Thank you so much for enjoying my blog!

This weekend will be a slow blog weekend. On top of the head cold, I promised Gillian we would go to the science museum today- it's free entrance to people with my insurance, so frugal fun! Tomorrow, we're going to clean out the living room a bit, and dig out the Christmas tree! SO excited!

Friday, November 20, 2009

5 hours!

Only 5 hours left to enter the contest I am holding! The winner will be drawn & announced tomorrow. If you left an email in your comment, you will be notified via email. If not, I'll notify you here on the blog!


Magnetic Christmas Clips

As I sat at my craft desk today, waiting for inspiration to strike, I started to sort through my bottom drawer. It's where all sorts of odds and ends are swept, or stored, waiting for a future project. Right under a ginormous bag of clothes pins was a box of small red and silver Christmas ornaments. Some are shiny, some are sparkly. All of them were beautiful.

The clothes pins were a pick up I found at Goodwill, probably close to a year ago now. I saw them, that huge, beautiful bag of clothes pins, and I just knew they were a crafting gift from some former crafter, right to me, a present crafter.

But alas, inspiration never hit, and they got stashed away in my bedroom. When I recently started to really go head first back into crafting, I rediscovered them.

I'm rambling again, aren't I? All right, let's get on with the tutorial.

Christmas Magnet Clips

You'll Need:
Small ornaments, buttons, or bells
Hinged Clothes Pins
Hot Glue
Magnet Strips (Tip- save all those odd-ball, flat printed promotional magnets you get, and cut them up to use for projects like this!)

  1. Start by cutting out strips of both magnet and ribbon the length and width of the clothing pins. If the ribbon is prone to fraying, use your favorite no-fray method. There are products available, or you could just use a dab of glue on the ends.

  2. Spread a thin layer of hot glue on one side, and smooth the magnet onto the pin.

  3. Spread another thin layer of hot glue on the other side, and smooth the ribbon onto it.

  4. Position your embellishment on top, and figure out how much and where to put the glue, then spread thin layers of hot glue to the places where you need it. Press the embellishment firmly into place, and let dry.

These clips are super easy, and while not original, they are fun, and cheap to make. You can use them to showcase your child's artwork, photos, shopping lists, or just about anything, really!

My total cost was FREE, because it was items I had on hand. To go out and purchase the items, though, would still be pretty inexpensive.

Christmas Ornaments- $1 for 12 at Dollar Tree
Clothing Pins- $1 for 24 at Dollar Tree
Ribbon- 3-4 yards for $2 at Walmart

I picked up a multi-pack of Christmas ribbon over at the Target Dollar Spot- $1 for 6 spools of thin Holiday printed ribbons. The downside is that each spool contains just 18 inches of ribbon. Right now, they have 2 sets. The first is traditional Christmas- red, green, white, with some solids and some patterns. The other is pinks, purples, blues, with checkered material, and snowflake material. At 18", it's just right for small bows, or making one of these clips! Or rather 6-8 of these clips per ribbon. I only used a small section and made 3.

It would be easy enough to make a dozen of these for around $2-$2.50 total.

Good luck! Don't forget, if you see something here that you like, and make, share your photos with us! I would love to see things I've helped inspire.

In the above photo, you'll see my lovely little snowflake Christmas candle holder, again, right? Well, note the small one next to it! I was at Goodwill (yes, again) the other night, and found that little guy. It's a picture frame that can be hung as an ornament, or it has the stand on the back to stand it up. The enamal is a really deep red, but unless it's directly under a bright light, it looks black. I just love it next to the big one, though, since it matches it so well!

1 $.79 Sweater = 2 Great Hats!

I'll start off by saying that I made 2 because I did not photograph the steps to the first hat. I love this hat! I got the idea from Disney's post at 30 Days, on making a Cardigan hat. Disney runs one of my favorite blogs- Ruffles and Stuff. She has so many cute ideas! I only hope I'm half as good as she is some day. ;)

Since I did change the hat up a bit, I'll post a tutorial as well, but again, the idea came from Disney! I found my sweater at Goodwill for just $.79, and I was able to make 2 hats out of 1 sweater, with enough fabric on the sleeves for 1 scarf. At that price, each finished piece cost me just about $.27 to make. Can't beat that at the store! If you have an old sweater on hand, you can make this project for free!

Sweater Hat

You'll Need:

1 Old Sweater, adult sized SM or larger for kids, and L or larger for adults.
Sewing Machine

  1. First, you'll want to cut the sweater apart. To start off, you need a circle, so make sure the sweater is bigger in size. The bigger the circle, the baggier the hat. I used a dinner plate to measure my circle, but in cutting it, I made the circle larger by about an inch around. I used a rotary cutter to cut through it, and stuck my cutting mat in between the layers of the sweater, so only the top was cut.

  2. Cut the bottom ribbing off the sweater. In the sweater I used, it had an extra long ribbing, which came in handy.

  3. The circumference of your sweater circle will be longer than the ribbing, as an aside. In Disney's tutorial, she first sewed the circle with a straight stitch, then pulled the top thread to gather the material. My first try at that was a big fail.

  4. Pin the bottom side of the hat to the ribbing, creating gathers as you pin. This is how I added gather to the hat, without being able to use the thread to create an instant gather. You may have to pin and re-pin a time or two to insure that you have the right size gather to fit the ribbing.

  5. Leave the loose ends of the ribbing unpined. Once the hat is pinned, sew the two loose ends of ribbing together, then pin 1 last gather to the ribbing.

  6. Sew along the gather, going nice and slow, and removing pins as you go- I noticed that some got hidden under the pleats created, and were harder to find at that point.

  7. If you are like me, you'll be in love with the hat once the first 6 steps are finished, and immediatly try it on. Now- if you had extra long ribbing, like I did, you'll note at this point that the hat resembles an odd, knit chef hat, and will create a weird mushroom above your head. It is not a flattering look. At this point, you'll pout a bit, and wonder where you went wrong. Or, since I have already done that for you, you can move on to step 8. Keep in mind, if you have ribbing that is only about 2 inches long, you can stop here, and enjoy your hat! If not, move on to step 8!

  8. To conquer the prior noted problem, I folded the ribbing inward, and looked at the hat inside out. The seam should have some allowance for adding another stitch to it. I did not pin it the second time around, I just went slow, and matched the ribbing seam with the inner seam, and stitched it on top.

  9. Fold the hat right side out, and you'll have a cute little, puffy beret type hat for winter!

  10. Embellish as you like! On one hat, I added a little 4-loop bow, with a big button in the middle.

This was a fairly easy hat, though some knowledge of sewing and pinning is required. Or, trial and error, if you are a fast learner. Rather than attack my own sweater collection, I have been hitting up thrift shops for materials to use all week. The children's set I made earlier this week was nice, but I much prefer my brightly colored set.