HALLOWEEN ALREADY

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!

Thrifty Halloween Costumes!

Bloody Halloween Decorations on the Cheap!

Steal my friends costume ideas!

Costume ideas!

More costume ideas!

Additional costume ideas!

Other cheap decorations!

Apocalyptic costumes!

Baby costumes!

More post-apocalyptic costumes!

Post-apocalyptic accessories!

Need more simple costume ideas? How about:

Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Cast of Scooby Doo

The Cast of Scooby Doo

 

The cast of Archer

The cast of Archer

Doctor Who and River Song (I have friends who did this last year and it was awesome)

Doctor Who and River Song (I have friends who did this last year and it was awesome)

Lydia from Beeltejuice

Lydia from Beeltejuice

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.

 

 

 

October 13, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Nerd Stuff. Leave a comment.

DIY Onesie Extender

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!

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

October 5, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Baby Stuff. 2 comments.

Altering Baby Clothes

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And now your little rugrat can look awesome for another few weeks, until his next growth spurt!

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October 3, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Baby Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 3 comments.

Baby Costume Ideas

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

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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…

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…that’s going to take a bit more dedication. Maybe Dad can be Sir Didymus.

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:

oscar ghostbusters

A yellow romper. Super simple to recreate. Dad can be Venkman and Mom can be Dana. Or…

janine ghostbusters

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:

seamus

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.

October 1, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Nerd Stuff. 1 comment.

DIY Baby Food

baby food

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.

Cooking:

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.

Tips:

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.

Storing:

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.

September 29, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Baking Day

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? 

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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!

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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!

September 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Cooking. 1 comment.

Just in time for fall

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…

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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!

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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…

scarf princess

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?

September 25, 2014. Tags: , , , . Arts and Crafts. 2 comments.

Dog Toy Repair

Our corgi, Flapjack, has been a bit neglected since my son, Nacho, was born. Neglected as in “no longer receiving endless attention”. To remedy this, his Aunt Lis brought him a new toy! Star Wars themed, no less! Unfortunately, Boba Fett is strong enough to withstand the Great Pit of Carkoon, but not the Mighty Jaws of Corgi. But Flapjack still loved his busted bounty hunter, even bringing him up to bed each night. I had to perform some armor repair.

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You can see I very crudely wrapped denim around the torso, and sewed it shut. The denim is way tougher than the initial material, and has not lost a single thread yet. So maybe Boba Fett seems to be wearing a bath towel…and one arm is still attached a bit tenuously. Flapjack is happy, and Boba’s guts are protected.

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I basically wrapped the fabric around, tucked the raw edges under, and whip stitched the whole thing. I mean, this is going in my dog’s mouth. I love him, but not enough to hand him a work of art.

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See? He doesn’t care. He’s just happy to have Boba back where he belongs: begging for mercy from a giant beast.

September 24, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Nerd Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

Target Ice Cream

I happened to be at Target the other day, with a coupon for their Market Pantry brand ice cream. As I perused their selection, I noticed several flavors I hadn’t seen anywhere else. This led to a month-long (so far) obsession, and the testing of 5 news flavors (so far).

Target has the basic ice cream flavors, like chocolate, coffee, and 5 different kinds of vanilla, for some reason. I was interested in the weird ones. The first one Hubby and I tried was Caramel Waffle Cone ice cream.

waffle cone

This is vanilla ice cream with caramel swirls and fudge covered waffle cone pieces. I had high hopes for this, but it was slightly disappointing. The waffle cone bits were completely covered in that waxy “chocolate” stuff endemic to ice cream, and the caramel swirls were scarce. I was hoping for crunchy chunks of cones, but that’s probably not feasible with current ice cream technology. The ice cream itself is light and fluffy, just like I like it. Hubby wasn’t as happy with that aspect, since it stays fairly soft when frozen, and melts quickly.

The next one we tried is called Mini Doughnuts, and I can’t find it on their website. It sounds weird, I know. I was expecting vanilla ice cream with soggy bits of fried dough, but that’s not what I got. Instead the ice cream is more like vanilla bean, with those little black specks of ground up vanilla that somehow make it so much better. The most surprising part was the “doughnuts”. They were actually more like cookie dough, with a bunch of cinnamon mixed in, like maybe snicker doodle dough. It is FREAKING GOOD. If you find it, you try it, for realsies. Your pants will hate you, but your mouth and brain will love you, and you can always get new pants.

This next one is more debated in my house. Monster Cookie ice cream is one of Hubby’s favorites, but I really don’t care for it.

monster cookieIt’s vanilla ice cream with ground up M&M cookies in it, I think. There’s no actual description on the page, so I wasn’t sure if I should expect cookies or dough. Personally, rock-hard, frozen M&M’s are not appealing, and neither is grainy cookie shrapnel, but Hubby loved it. It also seemed to have a peanut butter flavor to me, but I could just be nuts (hahahaa, Dad joke!).

The Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream totally makes up for the Monster Cookie.

choc fudge brownie

The chocolate ice cream is creamy and chocolaty, and the brownie bits are amaaaaaaazing; more like brownie dough chunks than cooked brownies. I would eat this for breakfast if I could.

The last one, is my absolute FAVORITE, possible my favorite ice cream OF ALL TIME:

smores

S’mores ice cream is the greatest flavor ever. The chocolate ice cream is very rich, almost like a dark chocolate. That’s probably the best part. The marshmallow swirls weren’t really noticeable, but the graham cracker bits were surprisingly tasty. This is the first one Hubby wanted to get, and I overruled him to get the caramel cone one. Boy, was I wrong. I want to buy a tub of the s’mores ice cream and just eat it all at once, while sitting quietly in a candle-lit room. And it’s seasonal! What a travesty! Go out and buy a bunch right now so they’ll keep making it!  Each tub is only about $3, so I expect each reader to buy 80 gallons worth. Then deliver it to my house. Then leave so I can quietly gorge on it.

 

 

September 3, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Random typing. Leave a comment.

Book Review: Sh*tty Mom

*WARNING: Swearing ensues (Grandmas have been warned)*

I was at the library recently, looking for baby sleep books (I’ll let you know if I find anything worthwhile), and I stumbled across “Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us”. Of course I had to grab it.

This book is a quick read, and hilarious the whole way through. Even while caring for my son, it only took me 2-3 days to read. The humor starts immediately, with chapter 1: “Road Trip with Your Kids: Multiply How Bad You Think It Will Be by a Thousand, Then Add Ten Million”. Here are a couple excerpts:

YOU ARE NO PRIZE.

Good God woman, look at yourself. Or better yet, rent Sweeney Todd and check out Helena Bonham Carter. Cause that’s you. Ratty hair, crazy eyes, making questionable food choices. Now think of your poor baby. She spends all day staring at you, wondering if this is how she’s going to look when she grows up. Of course she is crying.
Your baby needs to see how rested adults behave. If she goes only by you, she’ll think it’s normal to shout, “I can’t do this anymore!” and storm out of the house to sit in the car and eat cheese.
Knowing you aren’t the only kind of person on Earth gives your baby a ray of hope.

This one struck close to home, because my baby is named Nacho. It’s an unusual name, I know, but we think it fits him.

How to Tell When Your Friends Are Pretending They Like Your Baby’s Name

You went your own way with the baby’s name. You picked a name that you’re pretty sure no one else will touch. You like it, your husband likes it, and that’s all that matters. Besides, if first names were destiny, Condoleezza Rice would have been a stripper.
Back to your friend. Perhaps she is old-fashioned – raised to be a Jacob Mom or an Emily Mom. Your name has taken her by surprise.
She will ask you to spell it. This is a stalling technique. She really wants to say, “Uh, what the fuck did you just say?” Spellcheck is a gentle way for her to confirm that, yes, your son’s name is Z-e-p-h-y-r.
She may ask, “How did you come up with that?” She is giving you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was a family name. In fact, before you answer, she’ll suggest that very thing, and her voice will trail upwards: “Sounds like a family name…?”
Your response. “It is, now,” will not help her.

Those are just the two parts that were short enough for me to overcome my laziness to type out. The entire book had me cracking up and reading parts out loud to Hubby. Even non-parents will be able to laugh and enjoy some good, old-fashioned schadenfreude.

It does have a lot of strong language (which should be self-evident), so if that kind of thing bothers you, you should probably toughen up. We’re all grown ups. I go to work, vote, pay my taxes, and balance my check book. Swearing and drinking are a couple of the adult privileges that cancel out the boring crap, and I intend to take full advantage of them.

I’ve provided the Amazon link above, or just pick it up at the library, like I did. It’s absolutely worth the read. It gets the Clever Chick Thumbs Up!

 

August 11, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Book Reviews. 2 comments.

I Hate the Moby Wrap

I know a lot of people out there love their Moby wraps, and if this is you, you better skip this post now. I apologize, but brace yourself for an epic rant.

A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me a Moby wrap when I had my baby, Nacho. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are basically 87,000 yards of fabric you’re supposed to wrap around yourself in a configuration more complicated than an Enigma Machine. Your baby then supposedly fits right into the fabric without falling out the bottom or smothering to death. You can now carry your baby around with your hands free!

Here’s the thing(s):

1) There is too much damn fabric. There has GOT to be a better way to carry your child than 9 million yards of stretchy fabric. Women in pre-industrial countries wear their babies all over the place, and I have yet to see one using enough fabric to clothe the nation of Lithuania.

2) It’s hot. I was using the thing in WINTER, and my son and I were both coated in sweat after 30 minutes. I guess it’s to be expected with 18 billion yards of fabric piled on you, but it was ridiculous.

3) It’s overly complicated. I watched several videos trying to figure out how to use this thing. I got Hubby to watch and help. I prayed to both the old gods and the new (that’s a reference to a TV show, Gram, don’t worry), and I was still unable to get the thing on me how it was supposed to go. If you don’t get the tension exactly right when you put it on, you have to take the whole thing off and start over again. Lifting a wriggling baby in and out of the wrap 3 or 4 times before you get it right will test anyone’s patience, and I have very little to begin with.

Those smiles are LIES.

Those smiles are LIES.

4) It’s not really “hands-free”. You can sit in a chair, or walk around without holding your baby, sure. But forget bending over to do dishes or laundry. My son didn’t have neck control yet when we were attempting to wrangle the 8 cubic miles of fabric, so if I leaned over at all I had to support his head. If I tried to tuck fabric around his head, I had to worry that he was smothering to death, or his head would slip out and suddenly flop backwards (which happened, and was the impetus for me throwing in the 8,000 mile long towel). If I have to keep one hand on the back of his head at all times, it’s not that useful.

5) Getting in and out of it is nigh impossible. So let’s assume you succeed in finally getting your infant into the wrap. And then s/he poops. You’re now trapped, tied to a fussy, squirming baby and a poop balloon, just waiting to explode. Have fun untangling you both from 67^10 acres of fabric in a timely manner. If your kid is anything like mine, s/he’ll choose the moment s/he’s almost free to kick you in the chest and launch him/herself into oblivion (or, hopefully, the pack-n-play). Forget trying to feed a baby you’ve been mummified with also. There’s no room to get a bottle in there, much less get a boob out.

6) They’re expensive. $50 for some fabric? Come on. I’m really glad I got to borrow one rather than drop that kind of cash on some fabric I hated.

I do know a few people that like their Moby wraps, and I have a theory. All of the women I know who enjoy them, and who are shown in the tutorial videos and websites have fairly straight waists. I, however, have an hourglass figure, with big hips, so all the fabric slides up and bunches around my waist. Without such an exaggerated anatomy, the fabric seems to stay put where it’s supposed to. That’s just my hypothesis, based on a very small sample of data.

Wearing your baby is really fun and wonderful, but the Moby Wrap is not necessarily the way to do that. I was lucky enough to trick Mi Madre into making me a ring sling. She found a tutorial and the rings online, and used fabric she had laying around the house. We’ve used it a ton, and plan to keep using it for awhile. A fellow mom-friend of mine found a baby-wearing meet-up group that rents out different baby carriers so you can try them. She tried several before finding one she loves. Search for something like that before making any purchases.

I love popping my son into his sling and going for a walk around the block when the weather is nice. He’s fallen asleep in it several times, and it’s very easy to slide him out into his crib, or just sit down and let him nap on me.

August 5, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Baby Stuff. 4 comments.

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