Friday, January 28, 2011

Frugal Friday....


It's been a while since I have participated in Life as Mom's Frugal Friday so I am linking up today. Since we just threw a birthday party for LM I thought I would pass on some of my money saving ideas. Hopefully they will be useful to someone some day.

My first money saving tip is to have a party at home. You will save a TON of money if you don't have to plunk down money on renting space. The kids don't care how big your house or yard is. They care about cake.

Which leads me to money saving tip number 2. Make the cake. Bakery cakes are outrageous. Good but outrageous. If you aren't much of a baker you can still make a pretty darn good boxed cake with store bought frosting. If the birthday child is old enough, have them help with the baking. Boxed mixes are often on sale for less that $1 per box and there are always coupons available. Stock up when they are on sale. Premade frosting comes in tons of flavors and there's always a brand on sale. Most mixes show fun recipes on the back of the box so you can "Sandra Lee" your cake if you want to. There are tons of fun, easy ideas for decorating your cakes on line. Make yourself a copy cat here! LM's party was a cupcake decorating event so I made 48 cupcakes ahead of time for the kids to decorate & take home as well as cupcakes to eat at the party. I used 3 boxes of mix. All purchased on sale, of course.

Third, don't serve a meal. Serve cake and ice cream (buy that on sale too!) and a few light snacks (a veggie tray that you make, pretzels, popcorn). Have your party at a non-meal time so there's no question about whether your guests will have eaten. I like the 2pm-5pm time range. The kids will have eaten lunch but not dinner.

Serve water or koolaid to drink. Skip the juice boxes or (gasp!) sodas. Buy small plastic cups (on sale if possible) and put out pitchers of water and koolaid. Get a couple of packets of koolaid for less than $1 and make your own. You can control the sugar that way, too. I actually bought small water bottles this year since they were on sale and made fun little labels on the computer using typing paper.

Skip the goody bags. Skip them totally or make them smaller & filled with less stuff. I was able to find some cute bags @ Michaels for $1 each but I did buy 9 of them so that adds up. If your budget doesn't include something like that you can use brown lunch sacks and decorate them or have the kids decorate them. We all have tons of crayons, markers and stickers so there's no need to buy anything. I bought blow pops for the goody bags and bagged up extra candy from the cupcake decorating to put in the goody bags. I also made chocolate covered pretzels using the rod pretzels and melted white chocolate chips rolled in sprinkles I had for the cupcake decorating. Again, use what you have. If you decide to get non candy fillers check Michaels and Walmart for some fun things.

Make your own games. This year we put jelly beans (which were later put in the goody bags) in a jar and had the kids guess the # in the jar. The winner's prize was markers bought on sale for $3. We also played Bingo using cards I made. I found them at this web site. I printed them on card stock but regular paper works too. Prizes were big rainbow lollipops (I know the parents appreciated all the sugar at this party!) I bought for $1 each. In the past I have made my own Pin the Backpack on Dora & Pin the tale on Gloria (from Madagascar) games using poster board, markers and construction paper.

Even with the few splurges - the bags from Michaels, cupcake boxes to take home cupcakes and some extra sprinkles- I spent well under $100 for the party. You can do it for less if you plan ahead. There's no need to spend a ton of money on a kid's party.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not okay...


After much prodding from my cousin & a friend of my sister's I decided to check out Facebook. It was fun at first, getting friend requests and asking others to 'friend me'. Seeing faces from the past that I had long ago forgotten. Finding out that my high school friends are alive and well. Seeing what their spouses and kids look like. Then the novelty wore off. Rather quickly for me.


Frankly, I don't care that 'it's raining cats and dogs today' or 'I have piles of laundry to do'. I don't get 'farmville' or want to see your horoscope. I know some people love this. No offense to them. It's just not my thing.


I had a friend once ask me if I was on Facebook. I said yes and she asked why I hadn't asked to be her 'friend'. My response? 'Why? I see you everyday!' That was the end of that. She has not asked me to be her friend either.


I hear all kinds of things on the news about how people lose their jobs over Facebook posts, kids get bullied, racy pictures get posted and other ridiculous things. I have never experienced these things but it seems all too common. I think about all the outlets we have now to express ourselves and that it seems like nothing is off limits. Things we would, in a million years, never say to some one's face we have no problem writing for the world to see. Is it okay to be mean to people on line even though it's not okay in real life? I don't think so.


This morning I get a call from my husband (who is not on Facebook) asking if I can look up one of the players on his men's hockey league. He's a 17 year old kid whom my husband has coached for ten years. Apparently he had an altercation with an adult player on another team and had written some mean things about him on his Facebook page. Oh, boy. So I looked at it and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, thankfully. But still rude and disparaging to this man who holds a professional position and has a family. My first thought when I read this was 'did this child not get taught to respect his elders'? Hockey is a contact sport for sure and this kid's knee was hurt during a game. Allegedly by the man he disparaged. I know this man and just don't think he would intentionally go after a kid to hurt him. Maybe I 'm wrong but I am guessing the child doesn't know much about 'turning the other cheek' either. Now my husband, who is the president of the hockey league, has to figure out how and if it is something that needs to be dealt with.

So, my friends, I ask you, do you think we have just gotten too comfortable with this social media (blogs included) and feel like it's okay to write whatever we want no matter what? When I say 'we', I don't really mean US, I mean people in general. :) I try not to follow blogs like that and really try to be selective in my words when writing about a delicate matter and hope I am successful most of the time. It's seems like manners have just been tossed out the window in the name of expressing ourselves. Personally, I wouldn't read anything like that for long and would hope someone would call me out on it if I stooped to that level.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nine...

LM had her birthday party this past Saturday. Five girls and Five boys. They decorated cupcakes, played a few games and played outside. And ate. Alot. We got these cute 'sweets' bags @ Michaels ($1 each)so they could take home all their goodies. The plan was to put the cupcake boxes in the bags but they didn't fit. More room for candy, I guess. The girls got the pink trimmed bags and the boys got blue.
I made these water bottle labels from typing paper. I printed 'LM's cupcake shoppe' on them, cut them 8" X 2", stamped them with a cupcake stamp and put them on the bottles with glue dots. You can buy labels but I figure they would end up in the trash and I'd rather spend the money on other things. The first little boy that took a bottle of water promptly walked over to the trash can and ripped off his label! I told him he had no idea how long it took to make those labels. :)
The birthday cupcakes. The picks are a cupcake punch I got from Stampin' up - attached to a toothpick. I thought they turned out so cute! Cute polka dot baking cups are from Michaels.

Singing 'Happy Birthday'. My cousin sent me the long candles for my birthday and I had some left over. The cupcake stand is from Walmart, made by Wilton. It's super sturdy and comes apart for storage.



I gave each of the kids 4 cupcakes to decorate and take home. We had cream cheese and chocolate frosting, several colors of butter cream to use for decorating (w/ different tips), gummy worms (a huge hit!), Dots and sprinkles galore. The kids all had a great time and made some really fun cupcakes. We got cupcake boxes at Michaels so the cupcakes could travel home safely.
LM had 3 girls stay overnight so the party went on and on....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Honeysuckle....


I was reading this weekend that Pantone has named 'honeysuckle' the 2011 color of the year. Let's just call it pink and say yahoo! I love pink. Most shades really but honeysuckle is especially yummy.
So I've been thinking what I can use this color for in my house. More specifically, what can I paint? If I ever (when I ever) get my office cleaned up I might be able to use honeysuckle in there. Maybe an accent wall or a couple of shelves? It's my scrapbook room too so the hubby shouldn't protest too much. I am not sure if I could get away with it in any other room.
Guess I should get to cleaning....

Friday, January 14, 2011

One and done...

I have been watching The Talk since it started and love that hour each day. It's like hanging out with your friends and chatting for an hour. Lots of mom talk. All the hosts are moms - some have toddlers & preschoolers (Julie & Sara), some have school aged kids (Holly & Leah) and some have grown kids (Sharon) so there are lots of stories and tons of advice. It's very relevant to moms out there.

The other day they were talking about having kids. More precisely, having more kids. They all went around the table and chatted about that - Leah loudly and proudly announced 'one and done for us'. You all know that we have one child. When Leah said that I thought, 'I wish I could say as proudly and happily as she just did'. I struggle with the fact that like it or not (I don't) it's one and done for us too.

There are many factors that went into that decision. Some of them include: fertility issues, age (mine), the fact that my husband is one of 13 children and he wasn't going anywhere near that (13 is too many for me but 4 would have been nice). Having one has it's benefits for sure. Traveling is much easier with one. I wouldn't have gone to Australia to see my sister if I had 4 kids but toting LM along at 20 months was easy peasy. I'd say that we can afford to give her more and that is true but it's a fine balance of giving more and indulging or spoiling so I am not sure that's really a benefit. There's no 'you can't have 2 pairs of shoes since your brother needs a pair, too'. It's more like 'you can't have 2 pairs of shoes since you only need one.'

I saw that Kelly Preston just had a baby at 47 (or was it 48?) My friend C just had a baby in the spring - she was 39, her husband 45 (my age). I remember her saying that when baby J is 20 her hubby would be 65 - retirement age. So I am not sure I really want to go there now but I still think about it from time to time (especially when I am around baby J!)

I joke with my husband that I'll be 70 and still saying 'are you sure you don't want another one?'

He's sure...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Party time...


Well, it's time for LM's birthday again (she'll be 9). And the party planning. This year she wanted to do something with cupcakes. We ordered the baking bash party supplies from Birthday express this year. As it turns out she doesn't really want to bake during the party, just decorate. Cupcakes. She is going through a cupcake phase now. I'll bake ahead and let the kids decorate their hearts out. She invited 5 boys so I'll see how the decorating goes over with them.


So I am in the process of getting decorating supplies for the cupcakes. I am sure they'll be happy with lots of sprinkles and colored icing but I want to add a few more things just for fun. And I want to do a candy bar. I have wanted to do one for a long time but have never had the occasion. I think this is it. The parents will surely ban their kids from ever coming over once I get them all hyped up on sugar. But won't the candy bar look neat??


I plan on taking lots of pictures and sharing them before she turns 10...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Howdy...


Yes, I am still here. Just busy doing lots of things.


School started on Monday so we're back into our routine. And of course, the drama that is attached to all that is school. PTA drama mostly. Well, kind of. In a nutshell, the PTA president has been getting lots of questions from parents regarding our school's PE program. It's pretty lame to say the least but the big issue is the fact that the kids are not taking PE outside but inside in the cafe-gym-atorium ( multi-use room that is the cafeteria, gym and auditorium). Remember, we live in Arizona where people come from all over the country to enjoy our winter weather. Normal winter weather here is sunny in the 60's and 70's. Very nice. Great weather for outside play. So the parents want the kids outside. The principal has allegedly spoken to the PE teacher twice and nothing has changed and she claims she cannot make her take the kids out as long as they are being taught the skills relevant to their grade level. So the principal asked the PTA president to write a letter to the teacher and she will answer the question as to why no outdoor play in our school newsletter. ODD.


One thing I want to do is just let more things roll of my back this year and not make an issue out of everything I don't agree with. So my feeling on PE is that as far as LM is concerned it's not going to ruin her life - she takes dance and plays hockey so she is getting exercise and learning sportsmanship. She also plays out at home on the trampoline and we walk/play with the dog on weekends. I do feel bad for the kids whose parents don't have the means to provide for their kids or just don't care but I can't solve every one's problems (another thing I am dealing with). It bothers me that the teacher and principal don't really seem to care what the parents want but again I can't change everything. So that is our latest school drama.


On the subject of school, LM's music teacher is moving & her last day was Friday. Again, no great loss. For some reason, they spent a lot of time watching movies ('they're musicals' said LM's friend) and You Tube. Also ODD. Or lazy. So they are in the process of hiring a new teacher. In the mean time there will be a sub. More movies? Who knows.


I have always felt that LM was in a good school but we got a new principal last year and things have really changed a lot. Morale among teachers is way down and you can't help but notice it. Luckily, LM has a great teacher this year and academically she is getting what she needs and doing well.


LM has a hockey tournament this weekend. Her teams (she's on 2 this year) play tomorrow. We are headed out to the rink in a few to see my husband coach the high school team. He has been with these boys since they were in the 8U group so it's neat to watch them play for the high school now.


I am doing a massive de-cluttering & purging of our house. I started over the holidays with my sister's help but there's still more to do. It's seems to be coming along slowly. It's kind of a tug of war with the hubby sometimes as he doesn't want to get rid of as much as I do. But things are looking better and I am feeling better about it and less overwhelmed by all the 'stuff'.


If you have made it this far THANK YOU! We're off to watch a few hockey games...