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Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

In this ever-changing adventure of being a parent, I’ve tried to come up with fun, creative ways to play with my kiddo. Because, quite frankly, if I don’t, I’d never make it. My son happens to be a loud, fun-loving, super-energetic, never-a-moment-of-quiet kind of kid. Keeping him busy is of utmost importance! Over the past year or so I’ve slowly compiled some fun items and ideas that I pull out once in a while. Of course, Pinterest is always a good backup, but this I actually happened to come up with on my own, people! ūüôā It was a random decision I made one day because I had a large cardboard box that my kiddo had been playing in for a few days, but it was starting to get a little too floppy. So, I decided to cut it open, lay it flat, and give him some crayons. (Obviously, I did a lot of Sharpie doodling, too.) The first day or so it looked like this. He LOVED it! As you can see, it took up most of our living room floor space.

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But, like I said, he loved it, and it sure kept him entertained so I wasn’t about to get rid of it right away! It ended up hanging out on our living room floor for a little over a week.

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(Sorry for the teensy-tiny picture – I tried and tried, but it just wouldn’t cooperate. ¬†If you want to see it a little bigger, just click on it and it will open up.)

I love it when little things turn out to be the big things! The hubs and I even had fun with it, and even though we were ready to have our floor back, we all missed it when it was gone.

Don’t forget to make the most of life. Right now, re-using and re-purposing items is the “thing”, but more than that, this idea reminded me how the simple things in life can really be the most enjoyable. Take a minute to evaluate how you spend time with your kids‚Ķ doing big, exciting things isn’t bad, but make sure you do little things too. Like letting a cardboard box take over your living room for a week, and turning it into your own unique floor mural! (I don’t think it’s called a mural when it’s on the floor, but right now I can’t figure out what the proper term is! Ha!)

Whatever you do, I hope you have fun with it and join in – your kids will think you’re awesome!

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I’m sure you’ve heard tons of horror stories about what happens when babies start eating “real” food. Everything from, “And you thought you knew what stinky diapers were like!” to “You’re going to love cleaning up food spatter from your ceiling.”, to “My kid refused everything but applesauce for the first two years!” It’s enough to make you want to hire someone just to feed the kid!

baby-bjorn-plate-and-spoons[1]
Little did I know that those things were mostly true… but mostly fun. (Go ahead and Google “messy baby”.) You learn to laugh at the nasty diapers, carrot-stained walls, and crazy faces you never knew your little angel could make.

Thankfully, my kiddo had no trouble accepting solids. I’ve heard stories of children who refused to eat food at first, but A was reaching for my food by the time he could get his fingers to clamp on command.

I didn’t start offering him baby food until he was six months old. There are some people who are against the whole solids thing until about a year. But I felt he needed a little something extra than milk (he’s a big boy!), and our pediatrician encouraged it so we dove right in!

I won’t go into details about what little ones can and cannot eat, since I really don’t know a lot about it. What I can tell you is that there are a lot of websites out there that do have lists available that suggest age-appropriate purees and what to avoid (like nuts). Here is just one example. I did my research, and made sure I wasn’t doing anything ill-advised, but I didn’t get all paranoid about it either. I let him sample some of my tilapia when he was about 7 months old and he loved it! (Now, before you get all upset – I made triple-sure there were no bones and watched to make sure he didn’t have a negative reaction to it!)

This was my take on it:
In general (meaning there are a very few exceptions), fruits and veggies are fine as long as they are prepared in a way that your baby can eat them without choking. Our pediatrician told us to stay away from honey and nuts until one year, and after that, everything was fair game. If you ever have any concerns or questions, just give your pedriatician a call and ask! Sadly, no two pediatricians will have the exact same opinion on everything, so keep that in mind!

Start out slow, and introduce one thing at a time. Three days between each new food is the rule of thumb, and that is because if your baby happens to have a reaction to something, its much easier to pinpoint the culprit if you know he/she just tried a new food that day. This also gives your kiddo a chance to get used to the taste. Remember, your little tyke has never had anything but milk or formula so far, so this food business is pretty strange stuff!

Oh, and even though your baby can down a 6-oz (or larger) bottle of milk, that doesn’t mean they will eat 6oz of food! Not at all! Try for two or three tiny spoonfulls at first. Chances are, they will push most of it back out with their tongue for the first couple of weeks! But don’t worry, that is compeltely natural. God gave babies that natural reflex as a defense against choking – its a good thing!

You may think you’ve seen your baby make funny faces, but it’s likely that you will witness a whole slew of brand-new facial exrpessions when you start offering different foods. I remember when I first gave A peaches – Oh. My. Goodness. It was the funniest show ever! I’ve never seen him shudder or get his face so squished up since then! (I may or may not have continued to feed him just for the laughs. Go ahead and say it – I’m a horrible human being!) The thing is, just because they’re making faces doesn’t really mean they don’t like it. Turns out, A loves peaches, but it just took him a couple of tries for him to get used to the flavor.

Most importantly, you have to learn to roll with it! Go with the flow! Have fun and laugh! If your lovlingly prepared baby food ends up smeared all over your kiddo’s face, dribbled on bibs, and puddled on the floor, or if your docile little angel suddenly scowls at you and shivvers when the spoon touches his/her tongue… welcome to the land of spoon-feeding! And congratulations, because you and your delightful bundle of wiggles are completely and totally NORMAL!

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Hard? No.
Time consuming? A little.
Worth it? In my opinion, absolutely!

I made 95% of A’s baby food. At first I wondered if it would be complicated. I saw so many mommy blogs that had “recipes” for baby food which had multiple ingredients. They made it sound more complicated than it really is!

I never followed a single recipe. I didn’t do anything fancy either, and if you have access to some kind of blender (in some cases, a potato masher or a fork will work just fine), and a container to store the puree in, you’re ready to go! Seriously.

I always started with fresh fruit or veggies. Frozen will work, too, but I never did it that way. We have a farmer’s market close by, so that was my cheapest option.

I washed everything well, and peeled, chopped, de-seeded, trimmed stems, or whatever needed to be done.

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Next I decided how to cook my choice of produce. Since it was all going to be pureed, I usually stuck to boiling or steaming. Although I prefer baking butternut squash… don’t know why! I normally cut or dice the produce into bite size pieces so it cooks quicker than popping things in whole.

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Once the produce was thoroughly cooked and soft (could easily be squished with my fingers), I let it cool. I tried to blend it up once while it was still pretty hot, and that was a disaster! Don’t do it! (Just in case you’re curious, the heat/steam builds up like crazy in the blender, and ends up exploding all over when you remove the lid!) So, as I said, let it cool until pretty close to room temperature, and then blend with the same water you boiled the produce in. This way you don’t “water down” any of the flavor, and supposedly you don’t lose all the nutrients that are lost while boiling. You’d have to research how all that works if you want to know. I’m no nutritionist!

At first you’ll want to make it pretty soupy. Little babies just starting on solids can’t really handle anything that is much thicker than a creamy potato soup. ūüôā As your child gets older you can add less water, and leave more lumps if your child likes it that way. My kiddo has always liked his stuff completely smooth – no lumps! So, even when I started making it thicker, I always blended it really well.

Peas were never a success when I tried to puree them. For some reason they always seemed gritty. Maybe I just never cooked them long enough to be thoroughly mushy? If you have an answer for this, please let me know! I did have good success with the following:

Apples (boiled or steamed)
Pears (boiled or steamed)
Peaches (boiled or steamed)

(Generally I boiled the veggies – seemed to cook faster that way.)
Green beans
Sweet potatos
“Regular” potatos
Carrots
Summer squash
Butternut squash
Zucchini

A loved all of these… green beans were the most problematic, but I would just mix it up with something else that he did like, and he was happy.

I never pureed meat for A. He isn’t a fan of meat, and the thought of blending it up was revolting, so I didn’t! I also avoided pureeing legumes, because he had gas all the time! I figured I would try to help him out by not making the problem worse. ūüôā

At the beginning, there is no need to make large batches since they eat so little. But once they start eating more, you can make multiple large batches at once, and freeze it. I got into the habit of making some every weekend while I cleaned the house, and I never felt like it was taking up a lot of time.

If you’re on the fence about making your own baby food, I definitely recommend at least giving it a try. It might be surprised how easy it is, and I promise you that your wallet will thank you! Not to mention it tastes so much better than the jarred kind.

P.S. I did keep a jar or two of store-bought puree in the pantry as back-up just in case, but I stuck to just the fruit ones because the others are so gross that my little guy refused to eat them!

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I don’t know how you feel about used furniture for a new baby, but the way I see it, used furniture is great!  Definitely the cheaper option if you’re on a budget!  Especially when it comes to a crib that can be wiped down, refinished, or painted, I feel like it’s a great way to go.  We were given a crib for our on-the-way bundle of joy.  Of course, it’s used, so it had a several toofer marks on it.

 Other than that, though, its in great shape, and a quality piece of furniture.  I guess the fact that I know the family who gave it to me might have something to do with the fact that those teeth marks don’t really bother me at all… that, and the fact that I knew I could cover them up and the crib would be looking pretty much like new.  (Have you looked at crib prices lately? Whoah!)

I also plan to eventually make a rail guard… not sure I’ll get around to that before he’s born, but you know, most babies are not born wanting to naw on wood nor can they stand up to reach the  crib rail. So I think I still have a little time!

OK, so this is how I did it.  Seriously, the easiest re-vamping job I’ve ever done.  So simple, anyone, and I mean, anyone can do it!

I didn’t bother filling anything in.  None of the marks were deep – just surface scratches, so I went to Home Depot and got two wood stain pens for about $5 each.

I got two different colors because I wasn’t sure which would be the best option, and I figured the pen would come in handy later on for other random touch-ups with other furniture around the house. In the end, I used both pens because of the variations of color in the wood.  One section was more reddish than another, so having that second marker was great!

I did one “coat”, and let it dry.  Then, I wiped it down with an old rage to get all the extra stain off.

Then I went back over it again with the marker, let it dry and then wiped it down again.

And that was all it took!  Amazing how much of a difference it made.  Of course, if you look closely, you can see the dents in the wood, but if you’re just giving it a casual glance, you wouldn’t notice much.

Besides, I’m going to be so taken up with looking at what is sleeping in the crib that I doubt I will really care so much about some dents in the railing. ūüôā

Now, if my little guy was already sleeping in the crib or if he was old enough to be putting his mouth on the railing, I might have done something else.  I don’t think it would be a good thing for him to eat or breathe in that stuff!  However, since I plan to make those rail covers by the time he’s interested in chewing on the rail, I decided it was all ok.

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Have you ever been to a farmer’s market? ¬†If not, and you like fresh produce, allow me to encourage you to find one and go! ¬†There are a few different markets in Jacksonville. ¬†The main one I go to is the Farmer’s Market on Beaver St. (For those of you who are fellow Jacksonvillians.) ¬† This particular market opens at dawn and closes at dusk. ¬†Of course, the later in the day you go, the fewer stands are open, so if you want the full experience, I suggest going before 10am.

Anyway, why am I talking about a market??  Well, let me just tell you, simply because I love it!  Not only do I get produce that is (for the most part) better than any I can find in the store, but its cheaper too!   Especially if I go with a friend and buy in larger quantities and split it.

And let me tell you, now that spring and summer are around the corner, there are going to be some amazing deals going on! ¬†For example, a friend and I got a whole flat of strawberries for $10 last week… and before the season is over, it will come down even more.

I don’t go every week, but I do go as often as I can. ¬†I usually end up spending about $10-12 on fruit and veggies. ¬†And very few are the times that I have been disappointed with my purchases! ¬†So, what all can I get for $10-$12 at the market? ¬†Something like this:

Looks pretty good, huh? ¬†Even if you’re not a veggie fan. ūüôā ¬† In the picture above there is enough for salads, sandwiches, wraps, and snacks for about a week for two people, and most of it is so fresh that it will last longer than a week if you store it right. ¬†(BTW if I were to buy the exact same produce and amount at Publix, I would spend about… ¬†oh, $17?) ¬†Let me tell you, I have never found cherry tomatoes at the store that tasted as good as these!¬† I know that mound on the table looks like a lot, but we have been trying to eat healthier. ¬†We pack raw fruits and veggies in our lunches nearly every day of the week, so it’s totally worth it!

(I found those little containers at the dollar store: eight-pack for $1, and they’re perfect for individual servings of dressings, dips, and condiments.)

I also rarely make dessert.  Usually I just do something with fruit, so we go through it pretty quickly.  Sometimes I put it in jello, or make smoothies, or just have a bowl of fruit with whipped cream (or in this case Reddi Whip).  I know very few people who would complain about not having brownies when they have something like this in front of them.


I’ve made little frozen treats¬†with chopped fruit, yogurt, and whipped cream,

frozen dessert

and I intend to try making my own fruit popsicles this summer. ¬†Remind me about that, ok? ūüôā

Any time ¬†(which isn’t often) that we don’t eat all the fruit before it starts getting over-ripe, I chop it up and freeze it for smoothies. ¬†I’ll tell you more about that later.

So, there you have it! ¬†A few of the reasons why I love our Farmer’s Market as well as a few ideas about how to use all that goodness.

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So, how’s everyone’s weekend?! ¬†So far, mine has been pretty good. ¬†Good as in productive, and actually fun at the same time. ¬†I love feeling like my hard work has paid off. ūüôā

I just thought I would share a quickie little Valentine’s Day project that I slapped together today. ¬†You know I like wreaths, and I try to keep some version of a wreath on our door all throughout the year. ¬†Doesn’t always happen, but I try. ¬†I don’t usually decorate much for all the different holidays though. ¬†Mostly because that would get super expensive, but also because I don’t know where in the world I would store it all. ¬†Same goes for Valentine’s Day.

This year, I decided to honor the day with a simple wreath. ¬†In my running around this morning I found a scrap of bright pink fabric in the clearance bin for $1.29… and I put it to work! ¬†I didn’t do anything fancy. ¬†In fact, it’s a little bit of a shabby look if you ask me. ¬†I left the jagged, uneven edges on the fabric and everything.

I have ¬†a grape-vine wreath that I use for pretty much everything… seriously, those wreaths are great! ¬†Just add whatever suits your fancy, and when you’re ready for a new look, pull it out and add something else! ¬†Can’t get much easier (or cheaper) than that.

So, I just tied that pink fabric into a big bow, and attached it to the wreath with some flower wire.  Then I stuck a few white dollar store flowers around it and that was that!  10 minutes tops!

Our front door is all ready for Valentine’s Day! ¬†Sweet!

 

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Today I wanted to share with you another quickie project I worked on a few days ago.¬† I had two prints in our extra/guest bedroom that I found at Goodwill a long time ago.¬†¬† I got them when I was single and first moved out on my own.¬† Cheap stuff to put on the walls was my only option, so I went with what I could find.¬† Now, they weren’t terrible, but definitely not my favorite.¬†

Anyway, I was going through my junk craft stash the other day and realized that I had some scrapbook paper that would be the perfect size for those frames!  I originally thought about using the same paper in both frames, but in the end decided to go with two different ones that sort of blended instead. 

The prints¬†had been professionally framed, so I had to cut through the brown paper, take out staples, and all that good stuff.¬† But it really wasn’t all that difficult.¬† Once I got through that, I just removed the print, popped my scrapbook paper in its place, and taped the back panel back onto the frame.¬† Easy!¬†

Here is what they looked like. 

And here they are in the room. 

Sorry for the really bad picture here… it was getting a little dark (too dark for taking pictures) but I was determined to get the shot. =)¬† Oh, well.¬†¬†

In my case, this was a free project because I already had all the stuff I needed, but even if I’d had to buy it all… lets be¬†generous and say $2 per frame at Goodwill and 50 cents each for the paper at a craft store.¬† Still only comes to $5.¬† I like that!¬† To buy something similar at Walmart¬†or Target would be about $15ish for each!

Maybe this gives you a few ideas.¬† Scrapbook paper is so cheap and nowadays there are hundreds to chose¬†from.¬† You really have so many options in color, texture, shapes and patterns.¬† If you have a few empty frames around, this just might be an easy way to spruce them up a bit!¬† I think this would be great especially for a kids room with bright colors.¬†¬†It would be fun to¬†cut out letters from the paper and make a name plaque of sorts.¬†¬†Or maybe mix this in with a collage/gallery wall of family pictures… oooh, a¬†gallery wall would be so neat!!¬† Hmmm… I’ll have to think about that one!

So, have you done anything creative with scrapbook paper? (Other than using it for scrapbooking – that doesn’t count!¬† Sorry!)

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