I was goofing around on the internet, and I realized I was searching for something. Something beautiful, and deep, meaningful and profound. And I thought, “I should create content like that! I will do some artwork!” So of course that made me think of the burning hatred I have for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Non-parents probably don’t have this level of passion when it comes to children’s books. They probably glance at them fondly at the store saying “Oh, I remember this! I love that book”, then they set it down, never to be opened again. I have an adorable little spawn, however, and I read several books to him every night. Even though we own about 30 books or so, there is a LOT of repetition, so minor annoyances in books become crimes against humanity. What’s wrong with the Very Hungry Caterpillar? Take a look:
The wings are UPSIDE DOWN. Are you kidding me?? Have you ever seen a butterfly like this? No, because it would die.
This is a real butterfly. Not enough evidence for you? Do a Google search. I’ll wait.
SEE?? WHY. WHY DID ERIC CARLE DO THIS TO MEEEEE.
So here is my contribution to the wonder, beauty, and excitement of the world; something parents everywhere have been begging for since 1969:
Using my meager skills and MS Paint I was able to accomplish this wonder. Sure, the antennas got cut off, and the butterfly now has two legs growing out of his back, but this is a vast improvement. Feel free to print it out and glue it into your copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Maybe I can save a few people from rage aneurysms. I know I feel better just looking at this.
If you google “overnight oats” or something similar, you’ll turn up tons of recipes, but they seem to be a little too granola for me, and I don’t mean the cereal.
“Go to your neighborhood oat collective and hand harvest 1 cup of organic, steel cut Irish oats, NOT regular oats. Add the milk from your household goat, some homemade, probiotic, kombucha yogurt, periwinkle zest, and foraged acorns. Leave it in the fridge overnight, and you’re done!”
Ok…that sounds great and all, but for those of us who get food at the grocery store, here’s how I made it:
- 1/2 cup yogurt (this will basically be doing all the flavor work. I used vanilla)
- 1/2 cup oats (I used “Old-fashioned oats”, not instant, cause you know, back in the 1500’s they microwaved oatmeal for FIVE minutes, rather than just ONE. Talk about the Dark Ages)
- Dash of milk
- Handful dried cranberries
- Handful pumpkin seeds (can also use walnuts, or whatever you have on hand)
- Applesauce, or canned pumpkin
- Fruit chunks
- Ground flax seed, protein powder, whatever floats your organic, farm-raised, free-roaming goat
As you can see, this is YET ANOTHER of my what-do-I-have-laying-around-I’ll-do-anything-to-avoid-going-to-the-store recipes. Use up what you have laying around. Mix everything together in a small container, preferably a little tupperware you can just eat it straight out of tomorrow morning. You want the consistency to be a little like a runny stew, not soupy. The oats, nuts, and dried fruit will absorb the moisture overnight.
I love this stuff for those bleary mornings where you wake up, inexplicably starving, there’s no coffee ready yet, you were up to late, and you don’t want to think. AKA a typical weekday. It really takes the edge off before second breakfast.
A friend of mine was recently asking how people save money on groceries. Me being the frugal guru I am, I of course had plenty of advice for her. As I’ve mentioned before, a price book can be a huge help with this. Here’s a link to mine, so people with access to HEB grocery stores can probably use this, but everyone else can use it as a template. A price book might seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I generally add a couple items to it each time I go shopping. I didn’t run around the store with paper and pen writing down the unit prices of everything they stock. That would be madness!
- I don’t have to remember prices on everything.
- I can compare different items. For example, brown rice is waaaaay cheaper per pound than quinoa, so can I substitute that in some recipes?
- I can compare within items. How much cheaper are dried beans than canned? Is it worth the extra time required to cook them myself? (Hint: Yes)
- Is that sale item really a deal?
- Is the coupon worth it?
As you can see, I only shop at HEB and Costco. If I happen to find myself in a Target or Sprouts, I’ll glance around, but generally I’ve found that these are the two cheapest places, and they BOTH offer fantastic quality. Don’t forget to always look at the unit price when shopping. Often, the larger package is NOT more cost-effective. I noticed that with frozen corn this week.
If a price book seems too nit-picky to you, or while you’re in the midst of building one, you can use a few guidelines while shopping to reduce your costs:
- Produce for $1 a pound or less.
- Meats for $2 a pound or less (keep in mind if it has bones, you’re getting less meat).
- Only X number of snack items, or they can only cost X per ounce.
- If that thing you use all the time is on sale (For REAL on sale, not like a nickel cheaper) STOCK UP.
- Feel free to make your own rules. Only 1 item that’s not on the grocery list, or only 1 item under $5, or only items with <10 grams of sugar per serving, whatever you’d like.
- Keep an eye out for clearance or sale items you would normally buy anyway, or that will be a cheaper substitute for something you’d normally buy. If goat cheese is on sale for only $8, but you normally would have bought feta and only spent $4, you didn’t save money. You spent twice as much as you could have. However, if it’s on sale for $3, stock up!
Of course, dietary restrictions, personal preferences, and number of family members will all impact your spending. I’m shopping for 2 adults, 1 enormous baby, 3 ungrateful cats, and 1 spoiled corgi, so our bills are not as cheap as I’d like.
Other ways to save money on food:
- Use up what you have. Have a “clean out the fridge” buffet every 2 weeks or so. Maybe you’re eating cucumber slices, strawberry jell-o, and stir fry, but at least it’s getting eaten. Not every meal has to be beautifully plated or instagram-worthy. The important part is that it is getting eaten.
- Shoplift! Nothing’s better than free food! (I’m totally kidding, please don’t
- Use recipes that utilize cheaper ingredients, or substitute them yourself. Raisins are generally cheaper than dried cranberries or blueberries, so can you use them instead?
- Make from scratch when it’s more cost effective. A bag of dried beans is generally cheaper than canned beans, and it only takes water to make them. Look at some of your regular purchases, and consider reverse-engineering them.
Food can be pretty pricey, and it seems to take a lot of work to eat cheaply and healthily. Here’s a free, online cookbook for more ideas, and of course, my blog is chock-full of wonders and amazement. Can’t you just feel it radiating out of your monitor?? Good luck, Happy New Year, and stay frugal!
The minute we get the first wisp of cold weather, my brain goes into complete hibernation mode. And I live in Texas, so that means when temperatures hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit I am completely useless. I start craving hot cocoa, soups, biscuits, anything warm and heavy. This fruit and barley recipe falls right into that category. Barley is a great whole grain, with a somewhat chewy texture I really love. Like most of my recipes, this one is extremely easy to customize with what you have on hand.
One cup of barley needs to be cooked with 2 1/2 cups of liquid for 40-50 minutes. You can also check the instructions on your packaging.
This is so much fun! I love to play around with stuff like this!
You can cook it in plain old water, or you can use some juice, tea (Chai would be so tasty in this), or even the leftover juice from canned fruit. I would use at least half water to make sure it doesn’t get too sugary. You can throw in a dash of bourbon or a liquor for fun.
I cooked mine with dried cranberries and walnuts. You could use any dried fruit, nuts, or pumpkin seeds. You can use spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract. After it’s done cooking you can add a few chocolate chips, or some canned pumpkin, if you like that kind of thing.
This is one of those recipes where you can use up little bits of things you have laying around. I seem to gravitate toward any that let me use up things, and use what I have on hand, rather than going to the store. Yay for not going outside!
If your local stores are anything like mine, they’ve had Halloween candy out since April. You may have become so inured to the sight that you’ve forgotten Halloween is actually happening, and SOON. You have to start getting your costume together NOW. Fortunately, I’m a huge fan of Halloween, so I’ve built a huge collection of useful info for you!
Need more simple costume ideas? How about:
There are so many options that don’t require you to go get a plastic costume from one of those Halloween stores. Just your natural assets and some random thrift store finds are all it takes for a unique costume. As you can see, I really just freaking love Halloween. It’s the greatest holiday ever! It’s all fun and creativity, with no obligations. It’s creepy and dark and wonderful.
On my previous post about altering baby clothes, the most common comment I got was “You know there are these things called onesie extenders, right?” Yes, yes I do. Remember how I told you to keep your onesie scraps for a mystery project? Well here it is! DIY onesie extender!
Take the scraps from your onesie-turned-t-shirt, and pin them together. Make sure you pin it so the snap parts are facing the right direction, and will actually snap onto a onesie.
I simply trimmed off a little extra, folded the raw edges under, and sewed it together. It’s a little wide, and round, but it doesn’t really matter. I made another one later that came out much nicer, now I have two!
As you can see, my son is now enjoying an outfit he’d grown out of! He looks terrified, but that’s because the camera makes crazy lights and noises he can’t understand, yet.
So with these two tiny sewing projects, you gain another baby t-shirt, and a way to make several outfits last longer. Pretty damn clever, if I do say so myself!
Kids have an annoying tendency to grow out of things before they wear them out. My sweet baby Nacho is no different. He had these two adorable pirate onesies:
And of course he outgrew them. But they’re so cute! So we’re going to alter one of these into a t-shirt! I opted to use the longer one for this, so there’s enough fabric to roll up and hem.
Cut the onesie as low as you can, as shown above. Retain the pieces for an upcoming mystery project! Now roll the extra fabric up as little as possible so you can hem it. You want to leave as much fabric as possible for the t-shirt, but you need to cover up that raw edge so it doesn’t unravel.
Once you have everything pinned in place, just sew the hem down. I did it by hand since my sewing machine has forsaken me, and it didn’t take much time at all.
And now your little rugrat can look awesome for another few weeks, until his next growth spurt!
Yes it’s ALREADY OCTOBER. I know you’ve probably become inoculated to the sight of Halloween candy at your grocery store, since it’s been out since March, but seriously, October is happening RIGHT NOW. For real, go look at a calendar. See?? I told you. If you happen to have a baby who’s too small to voice an opinion on costume choice, take advantage of it and do what you want. Next year you’ll be acquiring parts for a ballerina princess veterinarian costume, so enjoy your current freedom.
You probably want a cool costume, and I have a few great ones that require a baby as an accessory:
Sarah and Toby from Labyrinth
All the baby needs is a striped romper for a costume! Easy peasy. This costume is the height of 80’s nostalgia, which makes it automatically awesome. Mom’s costume as Sarah is fairly easily built from thrift store finds. If Dad wants to be Jareth however…
Let’s stick with the 80’s since they have the best movies. Yes, the best. Of all time. Ghostbusters 2!! Dana has baby Oscar, who again, wears a very simple outfit:
A yellow romper. Super simple to recreate. Dad can be Venkman and Mom can be Dana. Or…
Janine and Louis babysit little Oscar, and look at the awesome outfits they wear while doing so! If I ever find a dress like that, I swear I will dress as Janine, even if I’m 90 years old. And that sweater-turtleneck combo is not too shabby, Dads. I’m sure you can find all this gear at a thrift store near you.
If you want to be more up-to-date, I still have an idea for you:
It’s the wee baby Seamus! Any baby with the name “Archer” written on his shoulder is instantly in costume. Otherwise, he just wears a blue romper! Simple! And then you can be any of the cast from Archer! That gives both Mom and Dad a wide range of choices.
I just realized all of these are for boy babies, which is what I have, which probably explains why my brain went that direction. My bad.
All babies can be animals, though. Crawling babies are perfect for things like turtles, alligators, beavers, echidnas, wolverines, basically anything that walks on four legs. Try to be creative. If your baby is toddling around, consider a monkey or velociraptor costume. If your baby is still young, and doesn’t move much, I think a potato or burrito costume would be hilarious. Try to think outside the typical pumpkin costumes that infest Google and Pinterest. Just remember to have fun, and make sure you get your way, since you won’t for the next dozen years.
Making your own baby food is super cheap and easy. Before my son started eating solids, I started squirreling away food for him in the freezer. Basically you take a food, run it through a blender or food processor until it’s smooth, then store it until you feed it to a baby. It’s seriously that easy. I do have a few hints and tricks to make it even easier. I mean, of course I do. I couldn’t call myself That Clever Chick if I didn’t, could I? Well, not without shame.
To start off, you want to keep each food completely separate from everything else, meaning no apple banana blends until you make sure the kiddo doesn’t have a food sensitivity. I’m sure you’ve read all about this in your baby books, so I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail. So the first ingredients in your baby food will be just the food and probably some water.
I never peeled anything, like apples or pears, that I would normally eat the peel on. I did cook these things, rather than just blending them up raw, at least at first. Bananas don’t need to be cooked, but I think everything else should be. You can steam, boil, or bake your foods. For apples and pears, I cut them up into chunks and put them in a glass baking dish with some water. I put this in the oven at 350 until they were mushy. Wait until it cools to run it through the blender.
For first foods, whatever you’re making for the baby, you basically cook it until it’s mushy and will blend easily. So instead of steaming broccoli until it’s still crisp, let it keep going until it falls apart when you push on it. Once the baby gets a little older and is ready for more textured food, you can cook it a little less. Eventually you can just mash up what you’re having for dinner, and skip the blender altogether.
Make extra of whatever you’re eating. Are you making broccoli for yourself? Make extra (without any spices or seasoning) for the baby.
Once you have the blender or food processor out, make several things at once. You can microwave a sweet potato, or just blend up some raw bananas if you don’t have anything else prepared for your little munchkin.
Rinse the container out in between batches until you’ve established what foods your baby is not allergic to. After that, run them through starting with safe foods, and ending with new foods. So you know your baby can have bananas just fine, but haven’t tried peas yet? Blend the bananas first, store them, and rinse the blender. Now when you run the peas through, if there’s a tiny bit of banana residue left behind, it’s no big deal.
Something too runny? Add a little baby cereal to thicken it up.
Too chunky? Try adding water, then blending it some more. Still not working? Run it through the microwave a bit to cook those stubborn bits.
Need ideas? Check out the baby foods at the store. They have quinoa and stuff in them! You bet I made some quinoa for my kiddo. I mix it in with fruit or veggies to add protein, and he loves it.
I used normal ice cube trays to freeze the baby food into small, ~1 ounce portions. Once these were frozen, I popped them out and stored them in freezer bags. The food cubes fit into baby food jars, so you can just grab one, pop it into a jar, and then store it in the fridge or put it on the counter to thaw. They’re so small, they thaw pretty quickly. I got baby food jars from a friend who bought her baby food, but you could also buy your first few jars. You can also use Tupperware. Nothing says you have to feed your baby out of those classic glass jars.
I hope you’ll try this. It seems like there’s some special process Gerber goes through to make their baby food, but there really isn’t. Making your own is surprisingly easy, and cost effective. By my rough estimation, homemade costs half as much as store bought, if not less. Think of all the toys you can buy with the savings! Or something boring, like college savings.
What to do on a hot summer day at home with the family….heat up the whole house by baking a bunch? Why not!? Maybe it wasn’t the best plan, but Hubby and I had a fun day working in the kitchen together, while our baby, Nacho, played on the floor. It was such an adorable scene of domesticity, Donna Reed would have been jealous. So what did we make?
Goat cheese and pear pie! I know it sounds super fancy, but I got the goat cheese at Costco super cheap, and the pears were home-canned ones Mi Madre made. I used this recipe, but I used store-bought pie crust (cause I’m classy), and left out the pine nuts (cause I didn’t have any). It tasted like goat cheesecake. It was great!
We also made cookies! My sis-in-law gave us one of those jars of cookie mix for Christmas, so we finally got around to making them only 8 months later! Not too shabby. You can tell a couple of them got a little extra “love” from the oven, but they all tasted great.
No real advice today, I just wanted to prove that I’m still alive, and active, and use these pictures I took. Oh, and brag about my delicious goat cheese pie!
I finished a couple crochet projects, and I just want to brag and show them off. The thing is, I finished them both literally just in time for summer, and just now uploaded the pictures. I guess having a kid kind of fire bombs the blogging schedule…
Here we have a little scarf I made for my BFF. I started it AGES ago, before either of us had kids. I hoped to finish it for her last Christmas, but failed. I DID, however, finish it in time for her birthday this year! But then didn’t see her for a couple of months…and then gave it to her on a blazing hot summer day. Great. Hopefully, Kay enjoys it this winter!
And for myself, I finally completed my hoodie scarf! It’s a scarf with the hood built in! When I was modeling it for pictures, though, I guess it didn’t occur to me that my jammies would be visible. Here, let me fix that real quick…
There, now I’m a princess! My awesome hoodie scarf is covering my crown. And you’ll just have to ignore the dirty mirror. MS Paint can’t do anything about that. I’m not posting a pattern for the hoodie scarf because A) I want to have the only one, and I know how ya’ll copy me, and B) I just made it up as I went along. I don’t know if I could ever recreate this, even if my life depended on it. But I make a dazzling princess, right?