Snowman Milk Bottles

So remember when we started this whole 12 Days of Christmas thing? Remember my little pre-apology just in case life got in the way of a post or two coming your way? Well, it was bound to happen and it finally did. (Although we did have a solid six day run before that. Yes!)

Long story short: Son # 4’s allergies got the best of him. Zyrtec kicked his allergies butt and dried up excessive amounts of mucus. And backed them right up into his ear which culminated in an ER visit narrowly avoiding a burst ear drum. Now that we’re all back to normal, we’re ready to resume our regularly scheduled programming. And back to the Christmas craftiness we are. In 3 … 2 … 1 …

I’m about to show you something really cute.

Like really, really cute.

And it’s so simple! Just a few supplies, and you can have an adorable Winter milk jug ready for the kids, for guests, or even for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Snowman Milk Bottle

Also, it’s Christmas time, and that means it’s also (unofficially) cookie season. And you can’t have cookies without milk. It’s just one of the unwritten laws of dessert. So whether you’re throwing a Christmas party, hosting the family baking day, or just enjoying some much needed qt with your cuties, having milk on-hand is a must, and what better way to serve it than this?!

Snowman Milk Bottles

milk bottles, I happen to own a set, but Starbucks Frappuccino bottles would work perfectly too
felt, I used red but any color would work
black buttons
straws
glue gun

Directions

1. Cut a strip of felt. Snip the ends of the strip of felt to resemble a scarf.
2. Tie the strip of felt around the neck of the bottle. Arrange the ends so they both lay flat. If needed apply some glue to the bottom strip and press the top down onto it to secure.
3. Glue two black buttons onto the midsection of the glass.
4. Fill with milk, insert a straw, and you’re ready to impress!

2 Ingredient Dog Treats

Dog treats can get expensive, but neither your budget or you pup have to suffer anymore. You can create your own on the cheap with a very simple recipe that only requires TWO ingredients: flour and baby food. This simple, two-ingredient recipe can also be customized like nobody’s business, so get creative and have a little fun (all while pampering your pooch)!

Our 4 year old pug, Bentley, goes nuts for these. Seriously, we’ve tried every trick in the book and he simply refuses to learn. Tell him to sit? He’s just gonna cock his head and look at your like you’re crazy. Hold a store bought treat up and his butt’s hit the floor before you’ve finished the command. Just using a batch of these DIY dog treats? The hubs had him laying down and rolling over for them in less than 10 minutes! He may look all clam, cool, and collected now… but, that’s only until he hears us opening up the paper bag. Then it’s all “Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme before I lose my ish.’ What’s a better alternative than something healthy disguised as a treat?! I love them even more because it helps me sneak some more protein into his diet without resorting to a wet food supplement. This batch I made two different versions– apple/pumpkin and spinach/quinoa. And he goes equally nuts for either one. 🙂

Don’t have baby food or not interested in buying any? These treats bake up just as well using 1 cup of homemade vegetable puree as well.

2 Ingredient Dog Treats

 2 Ingredient Dog Treats

recipe adapted from Daily Dish Recipes

 2 cups whole wheat flour
2 (4oz) jars of pureed baby food – beef, blueberry, sweet potato, chicken – whatever. Just make sure there are no onions/onion powder in it*.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Mix the flour and puree together to form a stiff dough. Add extra flour or water as needed.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shape or a pizza cutter to make cubes or ‘sticks’.
4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat and place the treats about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in a paper bag (storing in an air-tight container will make them soft, but they’re still edible).

Easy, right? Now this is where you can get creative. Consider including grated carrots or sweet potatoes, maybe a little bit of parsley (which supposedly helps with bad breath), some fresh fruit, or (for an added treat) some peanut butter! Got any other ideas? I’d love to hear them!

*Onions are toxic to dogs! If you’re unsure about what you can/cannot include, check out this list of toxic foods from the ASPCA. Techinically, not everything listed is toxic, but each one provides an explanation of why you may want to avoid it.

 

Shared at the Weekend Potluck Party

Sous Chef Sunday: DIY Pixie Sticks

 Pixie sticks… aka kiddie crack. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many of these sugary shots I downed as a kid. These little straw like sticks of powdered candy were a favorite of mine, and most every other kid I knew from elementary school. Can we say sugar high? I once knew a kid in middle school who took it a little too far. He had the bright idea to sniff one, acting as if he was cool in doing so. Yeah. That resulted in a horrible headache. Sugar highs aside (kids don’t care about crap like that) I know my own kids enjoy them just as much as I did. They would probably have lived off of them, and any other candied item if given the option. Balanced diet, right? When I saw a recipe for a make-it-myself version, my dormant sugar censors kicked into high gear. The sons were totally on board. And all this with ONLY two ingredients. That’s right, two.

 DIY Pixie Stix 2

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make our very own little sugar shots. Seriously, like less than 10 minutes. We made them just for fun this time, but I’m definitely going to be whipping out a bunch as part of the spread for their next birthday celebrations. What table wouldn’t look just a tad more adorable with these? The sons did almost all of the work themselves, and being Mom I was the self appointed glue-gunslinger. I love when we can all get down and crafty will all our bad little selves.

DIY Pixie Stix

DIY Pixie Sticks

Kool-Aid packets (flavor of your choice)
sugar
paper straws
glue gun

Directions

1. Take a sandwich baggie and add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the Kool-Aid dry mix.
2. Shake well until evenly dispersed.
3. Hot glue the bottoms of the straws closed by adding one dot of glue and then firmly pressing both sides together. I used a pair o scissors to press them together against my counter top.
4. Cut a small hole in the corner of your baggie and fill the straw up until about a 1/2 inch from the top.  Then hot glue the other end.
5. Told you they were easy!  Each baggie will fill about 12 straws.  They aren’t quite as pretty as the ones you can fill up at the candy store but these taste better!

DIY Campfire Starters

Remember when Scentsy was all the rage? Then wax warmers and wax cubes started popping up everywhere, including Walmart and Target when Better Home & Garden got in on the idea? Now, even Glade is putting out their own version. I love the way the scented wax keeps my heavily traffic-ed and/or ‘smelly’ areas such as recently used bathrooms constantly smelling awesome. A pack of six cubes, which each last about 3 days, costs $2 so I never really felt bad for buying something that I’ d be throwing out just a few days later. It never even dawned on me to consider recycling/ upcycling the old wax.

Then we took a camping trip and the fire starters the hubs had brought got rained on. Wet thing don’t start fires. This was the genius idea that came out of that unpleasant camping sccenario. The wax protects the highly flammable cotton, if coated completely. Just light, and add one or two to your kindling and you’ve got an up and coming campfire. Just make sure you have the smore ingredients handy.

Since this we’ve also begun using the old wax (now that we have a nice stock pile of starters) to make emergency candles for power outages. $2/pack really doesn’t seem bad now that I know all the things I can continue to use those cubes of wax for.

DIY Campfire Starters

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Campfire Starters

used wax, melted
cotton pads, cosmetic variety

Directions

1. Dip one half of the cotton pad into melted wax. Hold until dry (doesn’t even take a minute).
2. Holding the end covered in dry wax, dip the other side into melted wax covering completely.
3. Allow to dry.
4. Store in a ziplocking bag or other container.

For the best results make sure the cotton pads is completely covered in wax as this makes the water proof and will allow the to catch fire in any inclement weather conditions.

DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

I love the sons to death, but sometimes I wish they’d stop badgering me about what’s for dinner. They’re like a whole revolving chorus of broken records with the question. It’s like some insane versions of food-related whac-a-mole. Get one to stop, another one pops pipes up. It makes me want to scream, and tear out tufts of hair. Sons, I’ll let you in on a little clue…if I’m not even done clearing/cleaning the breakfast dishes, I am not ready, in any way shape or form, to address the dinner issue. Sometimes when you ask me what’s for dinner…..I honestly don’t know yet! It’s not like I have an inexhaustible source from which I can pull creative meal plans to begin with, and I’m horrible under pressure. As you may have noticed. Repeatedly. To be clear, I am not, nor will I ever be, a short order cook. Some days I can barely get it together to prepare ONE meal for us all. There’s a lot of pressure to make something healthy and enjoyable for everyone…and some nights that even proves impossible. Let’s be honest, NO matter what I finally do tell you is for dinner, at least one of you will be unhappy. At least one of you, somedays more, either before sitting at the table, or in between giant mouthfuls you can barely chew, will make sure to ‘express yourself’ and rebelliously declare that you don’t, or you may have, liked it if I’d only done A or B differently. Can I just put it out there again, how much I loathed being asked the revolving question (6925x) of what’s for dinner? Even when I’d refuse to answer, the sons would continue.

Son: “What’s for dinner?”

Mom: ‘Food’

Son “What type of food?”

Mom: ‘Edible’

And then I had an epiphany. The menu board! Not only would it better help me plan my weekly menu in advance (at least for the chaotic dinner rush), but the sons could finally have answers without ever having to ask! It was a Monday morning miracle!! Hallelujah! There’s was no light bulb, but there was a heavenly chorus and golden beams of light shining down all around (well, at least in my head). The sons, knowing me, know that you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit, or you may lose your plate. This little God-send has helped save my sanity and has actually helped curb complaints. It’s in writing. On the board. It might as well be set. in. stone.

I no longer have to get cranky and frankly driven a little past crazy when they ask what’s for dinner for the eleventh time on any given day. I know my obligation to make dinner. And I do truly want to nourish them. Most nights I even enjoy it. The menu board is a promise. If somethings marked in for the day we can all just assume that at some point it will be dinner time, and at that point the sons can rest assured, I will put some form of decent –albeit occassionally uninspired– nutrients on the table for your consumption.

The world has become such a more peaceful place for the six of us. Well, seven, if you include the dog (who has, ahem, yet to ever complain about anything I’ve fed him…..just sayin’).

So simple, but cute and life-saving fully functional. Don’t have dinnertime issues? Use it as a weekly memo board so the kids (and Mom) know what the big plans are for the day.

DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

Scrapbook paper in colors of your choice

stickers, or other accents of choice (I opted for stencils)
8 frame picture frame (I purchased mine from Walmart for around $10) and you can choose from woodgrain or black frame.
Glue

Ta-Da! Turn those few supplies into this…

4 Sons ;R; Us: DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

Directions

1. Using the paper inserts (ya know the ones with random people smiling at you!) as templates for your scrapbook paper and cut out 8 rectangles.
2. Lay out your pieces of paper in the direction and order you’d like them to hang in the frame.
3. Keeping in mind which directions your board will hang, vertical or horizontal, decorate each piece to coordinate with a different day of the week.
4. Feel free to ‘bling em out’ a little but, just be careful not to over clutter as it will make it hard to write over.
5. When you’re done decorating, reassemble, and enjoy your new menu board or weekly planner.

Homemade Bath Bombs

What’s hotter than a bath? A bath with bombs! To soak away a stressful day, all you have to do is toss a bath bomb into your tub. It will set off a fizzy reaction that releases super-relaxing essential oils. Plus, they make great gifts! Pamper yourself (or your loved one) and make your own DIY bath bombs.

One of the best parts of making your own bath bombs is getting to choose the essential oils! You can go with floral scents like lavender or rosemary, or a citrus blend with lemon or grapefruit.  Some other common essential oils used for bath bombs are peppermint, vanilla and chamomile. Let the bath bombs dry for at least one day before you use them! If your bath bombs are a gift, wrap them in cellophane or tissue paper for a pretty ‘present’-tation. Get creative with these. Girls might like some glitter added to theirs. I mean, seriously, what isn’t made better by glitter? You can easily make dissoluble ‘glitter’ by adding a few drops of food coloring to some large grain sugar and mixing well. Sprinkle some on top of your bombs and pack it in. The kids will love discovering a fun bath toy revealed as the ball dissolves. Looking for a cute, frugal Valentine’s Day gift? Add a conversation heart to each one and go for shades of pink, red, and purple. If you want to get even more creative with it, check out some of the neat bath bombs offered on Etsy for some inspiration.

Homemade Bath Bombs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Bath Bombs

recipe originally from The Passionate Maker

8 oz. Baking Soda
4 oz. Citric Acid
4 oz. Corn Starch
4 oz. Epsom Salts (make sure these are fine grained)
¾ tsp Water
2 tsp* Essential oils
2 ½ Tbsp Light vegetable oil
2 drops Food Coloring
Whisk, bowl, jar, wax paper, cookie sheet, mold (opt.)

* Adjust essential oil quantity if using strong oils like geranium and be sure to avoid oils that are strong skin sensitizers like cinnamon (or be sure to only use a drop or two of such oils).

Directions

1. Blend the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl to a smooth consistency.
2. Blend wet ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine.
3. Slowly whisk small amounts of the liquid into the dry ingredients. If the mixture starts to foam, you are adding the liquid too quickly.
4. When all the liquid has been added, test to see if it clumps together like wet sand when you squeeze it. If not, add more wet ingredients, a tiny bit at a time. Press the mixture into 4 to 5 round balls. You can also try using a mold such as a melon baller, candy or soap mold, or ice cube tray.
5. Let dry overnight, then store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for storage up to 6 months.
6. When ready to use, drop in a warm bath and relax. The bomb will fizz slowly because of the combination of citric acid and baking soda, and the oils will disperse.

I absolutely love the ‘rustic’ feel of these, bursting with dried flowers and herbs!

Easy Fabric ‘Roads’

What is about hotwheels/matchbox cars and boys? It’s like love at first sight. In an instant they’ve formed a long-lasting, unbreakable bond. I can always be sure son # 4 has at least one of his little metal cars tucked in a pocket of his dirty, discarded jeans. Despite numerous pocket checks, there is always one waiting for me in the washer and/or the dryer. I’ve always loved those cute little carpets covered in roads and scenery just for pushing their little cars along, but they are ridiculously expensive. Out of my frugal budget, by far. Also, while the cars go everywhere with us, a big bulky rug isn’t portable or practical for on-the-go entertainment. These easy DIY fabric roads were a perfect solution, and with 4 sons there’s always a pile of old, holey jeans ready to serve as scraps of denim. After a few weeks of the youngest son playing with them at home, I rolled them up and stuffed them in a leftover zippered pouch from a twin sheet set, added a few cars, and have it tucked in the glove compartment for easy access on the go.

Easy Fabric ‘Roads’

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy Fabric Roads

old denim jeans
sharp, sturdy scissors
yellow paint
sewing machine, optional

Directions

1. Take any old pair of jeans and cut out whatever road shaped pieces you’d like. I made several long straight roads, turn arounds, curvy roads, an intersection, and even a round-about.
2. If you’re worried about fraying, use a sewing machine and do a quick zig-zag stich around the outer edges.
3. Using the yellow paint add road marks. Let dry and then let the creative fun begin!

Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Centerpiece & Tutorial

I love decorating for the holidays. I just can’t shake that ‘festive’ itch. When the mantle, walls, and doors are properly decorated, and only then, I get to the kitchen table. Afterall, I wouldn’t want it to feel any holiday-envy. Imagine trying to eat dinner at a grumpy table that had been left-out. It might just decide to leave me out of dinner. I can’t have that. Every available surface should be decorated equally.

This year though, I wanted to do something a little different for our Thanksgiving centerpiece. I opted for these adorable scrapbook paper pumpkins. They’re cute, easy, and quick. Is your table looking lonely? Trying to get it up to snuff for Thanksgiving dinner? Begin creating your own fun, festive table-scape with a scrapbook paper pumpkin today.

Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Centerpiece & Tutorial

4 Sons 'R' Us: Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Cneterpiece

  • circular item to trace, I made two sizes of paper pumpkins and used a cake pan for the large one and a bowl for the smaller
  • 8 or 16 pages of scrapbook paper, the large pumpkin only got one circle per page, the smaller got two
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Before I give you the verbal tutorial here are some step-by-step photos for you as well.

4 Sons 'R' Us

Directions

  1.  Trace and cut out 16 identical circles from scrapbook paper.
  2. Fold each circle in half with right sides together.
  3. Glue one side of the circle and place another circle patter on top of it until you have glued all the circles together.
  4.  Once you have glued all the circles together, you will have one stack of folded circles.  After the glue has dried, about 2-3 hours, unfold the circles and lay flat.  You will have two sides that have not been glued.  Glue them together so it creates an accordion.
  5. Decide which end of the pumpkin will be the bottom. Using an exacto knife or sharp scissors lay the pumpkin flat and cut a straight line about 1/4-1/2 inch from the bottom. This will enable it to ‘sit up’.
  6. Roll up a small piece of the scrap paper from where you cut out your circles to make a stem. Stick it into the tiny gap at the ‘top’ of your pumpkin.

Seriously, how cute are these little guys?!

4 Sons 'R' Us: scrapbook paper pumpkin

Constipation Candies

Do your little ones ever struggle with constipation? I know mine did, and occasionally still do, and it’s painful for both of us when it happens. These little ‘candies’ are a perfect solution, offering a gentle push in the right direction for their digestive tracts. All natural and inexpensive they’re easy to make ahead and keep on hand or whip up as needed. Be warned though, these do taste like coconut, or more specifically coconut oil. I didn’t have any problems getting my kids to eat them, but the thought of eating coconut oil by the spoonful (essentially this is) made me cringe.

The general idea is that because the type of triglycerides that make up coconut oil don’t cause a person to store fat, they have limited absorption in the small intestine and tend to pass right through you.  Just two “constipation candies” and then anywhere between 8 to 18 hours later, total relief without tears.

These are totally safe for both kids and adults. As for the dosage, for kids start with 2 and wait a day before increasing the amount given. For adults, start with four and try adding an extra candy each day until you find what amount works best for your body. In adults a daily regime of these candies could be beneficial to keep everything moving smoothly, even without having a prior problem as coconut oil is used both to treat, and to prevent constipation.

Constipation Candies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Constipation Candy

recipe from The Robyn’s Nest

  • 1 cup organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp organic sugar, honey, or maple sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt, or sea salt
  • 2 trays of candy molds, or shaped silicone ice cube trays

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or with a handheld mixer.
  2. Pour into the candy molds. As you pour you might have to stir several times. To set properly, the other ingredients need to be evenly combined with the coconut oil.
  3. Taste it as you go along and make it as sweet or sour as you like.
  4. Freeze the molds for at least an hour before popping the candies out.
  5. They’ll keep fine in a home that’s 68/69 degrees or cooler, or to be on the safer side you can store them in the fridge so they won’t melt.

*Take a minute to read this information from The Robyn’s Nest on the importance of not using over the counter products like Miralax as a constipation remedy for your children.

“Please don’t ever give your children Miralax for  constipation.  PEG was never meant for kids or to be taken more than occasionally, and can cause a host of health problems, not to mention make autism worse.”

DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

In the past year I’ve seen fold over elastic hair ties for sale everywhere. Tons of Etsy shops, even larger, commercial retailers like Anthropologie are carrying them. When I first saw them in the store I had a moment. A serious, “Where have you been all my life?!’ moment. Then BOOM, I noticed the price tag they were toting. $12 for a set of 5. However, after looking at them (okay, okay…it was more like coveting) and their simplicity, I knew I could make my own. For pennies. A year later, I’m still in love with these bad boys. And I’m here today to share the love with you!

The Sunshine Shoppe has a great selection of fold over and regular elastic in a variety of colors (even glittery elastic! and let’s be honest, are you ever really too old for glittery accessories?) and they’re prices are great! Less than 50 cents a yard? Yes! The amount of hair ties a yard of elastic makes looks like a lifetime supply. Plenty to share with your children or your friends. Seriously, share the love. I used to use store-bought hair ties and even the ones without the metal bands still manage to catch and pull my hair. I haven’t lost a single hair, or shed a tear, with these wonderful homemade hair ties. Love them. A LOT. And I guarantee you will too.

These adorable ties are so easy to make and you don’t have to panic if you lose one. You can just cut out another. Hair ties. For pennies. Genius!

DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

  • elastic, I used 5/8 fold over elastic and 3/8 regular elastic
  • scissors

Directions

  1. Begin by creating a ‘template’ piece of elastic. To do this, gently wrap the elastic around your wrist. You want it to fit just like a regular spare hair tie would. When you’ve gotten the length right, cut the elastic.
  2. Using your template piece as a pattern, cut out the desired number of elastic strips.
  3. To form the hair tie, knot the two ends together and pull tight.
  4. Finish off the ends of the hair ties by cutting them at a diagonal or with two points

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Boutique Style HairTies

Thank you to 2 sisters, 2 cities for introducing me to The Sunshine Shoppe!