Dec 24, 2012

Merry Christmas From My Little Bunch

I hope you all have a wonderful and magical Christmas day.  I shall see you in the new year.
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Dec 20, 2012

Dollar Store Recommendations

No I am not getting paid to do this, but I once read a blog article on Dollar Store do's and don'ts and I found the recommendations so helpful that I wanted to share my own list of things I recommend purchasing from the dollar store.  In this case these are all things that can be found at Dollar Tree.  I think that is the best dollar store out there.  It is a true dollar store, as in-everything cost $1.00.  

1. Kids tooth brushes.  Unless your child is super set on a specific character getting a 2 pack of kids tooth brushes for $1.00 is a great deal especially since they are going to chew the heck out of them and you will need new ones in just a matter of a couple of months.  I once found Care Bear tooth brushes that play a little song at the Dollar Tree and they have been one of the biggest hits at our house.  I only wish I had the foresight to have bought all of them because I haven't found them since.
2. Kids shampoo/body wash.  You go through a lot of this.  You can sometimes get it for a good deal at Walmart but this is a good deal also.  I don't feel bad making bubbles with it in the tub or letting the kids wash themselves with it for this price.
3. Large storage bags.  These come in large, XL and XXL sizes.  There are 2 to a pack and they are good.  I am not going to say they are the best quality but I have used them for excess toys and also for craft supplies and I love them.  They are handy to put things in to store in a dirty basement or under your bed.  And they are big.  One of my fav's from the $ store.
4. Worcestershire Sauce.  Gourmet cooks everywhere would gasp if they knew you bought it at the dollar store but if you are like me and only use it for a few recipes it is a good deal.
5. Pretzels   I only buy them at the $ store.  Even the cheap ones at Walmart are more than $1.00.  
6. Paper cups.  Now if you are needing a ton of paper cups this would't be a good deal but if you are wanting only a few to decorate for a party with, or to repurpose into something else then these are a good deal because you can get a lot of different colors and they are good quality cups.  I intend to make a set of mini light lanterns with these (so stay tuned for that).
7. Serving trays-but not to serve on.  Rather buy them, spray paint them, make a cute set of magnets to go with them, pick up a picture stand while you are at the Dollar Store and you have an instant gift-a mini magnet board.  These are the perfect size for magnet recipe holders too.
8. Quick erasers   These are like Magic Erasers only a fraction of the price and they work like a charm.  I was skeptical but I have been impressed.  In fact because they have a sponge on one side of them I find they actually hold up better-but that is just my opinion.
9. Kosher salt-again the gasps from the gourmet cooks.  Really people, in my very plain jane, middle of nowhere opinion-salt is salt.  This salt just happens to be $1.00-that's all I am saying.
10. Minced garlic-gasps again.  It is super handy for a lot of recipes and comes in small jars so that you don't have a vat of minced garlic sitting in your fridge forever.  
11. Chicken broth (now the gourmet cooks are completely disgusted with me and have quit reading).  I don't know that there is that big of a difference in the taste of chicken broth from one brand to the next (don't answer that) but this is $1.00 for a large tetra-pack carton and that in my opinion is a great deal and I like the flavor.  
12.Pop up lid storage containers.  We use these for cereal, snack bags and even one for a trash bin in our van.  
13. Cookie sheets.  Don't buy these to use to bake on-they are much too flimsy for that.  Buy these to make magnet job charts for your kids, or a magnet photo board, or a magnet advent calender or...(the list goes on-search Pinterest).
14. Kitchen shears.  Could a pair that you pay only $1.00 for be that great??? Yep they can.  I love my pair and maybe they can't cut through chicken bones or anything but they can cut bacon, they can cut meat, they can open packages.  You could have 4 pairs (1 for each different job) for that matter and price.
15. Pom Poms.  I am not constantly on the look out for the cost of pom poms so perhaps you can get them cheaper some place else.  I find that these are a great deal.  They have lots of different colors and it is a good sized package.
16. Googly eyes.  Again I don't know if you can get them cheaper some place else but for a large assorted pack of googly eyes I think $1.00 is a perfect price.  I love them.
17.Styrofoam balls.  Look any place for styrofoam balls and you will be shocked at how much they are-like $4-5.00 for a pack of 4. It is just nuts.  This picture shows and assorted pack, but I recently found 6 packs of both large and small balls (and in fact the smaller size had more to a pack) for $1.00.  If you are lucky enough to find these stock up because they are hard to come by.  What a deal.
18. Kid puzzles.  These are 25 piece puzzles but they also have 50 and 100 piece puzzles and then wooden puzzles too.  My girls love doing puzzles.  These are fun to pick up as a "what did you bring me?" prize.  They are good quality puzzles and they have a ton of varieties.
19. Pregnancy tests.  I am just saying-I have used one and it was accurate and I have a 3 month old to prove it.  As my friend says, "if you are pregnant-you are pregnant." Just adding that I am not guaranteeing anything-so don't hold me responsible.  I would buy one of these when you pretty much already know you are pregnant but you just want to pee on a stick to make it official.
20. Preschool work books.  I love these.  There are so many different kinds.  I want to buy every one of them.  They are so helpful when I do preschool with my girls.  We don't use these exclusively but they have so many neat things in them.  The Strawberry Shortcake series is our favorite.

A few other things I always buy: 
balloons-I keep a bunch in stock for playing with.
foaming hand soap.  I buy a couple of containers and then refill them with my own homemade version after
dish soap-it is too cheap to wash dishes with but it is good for making shower cleaner with (they recommend using the good stuff but I made it with the cheap stuff and was still impressed with the results).
Kids socks and kids character face clothes.

And now for just a couple Dollar Store Don'ts:
-playdough-it is cheap and awful
-crayons-they don't work worth beans
-candy bars-don't be fooled.  You can get them cheaper almost any place else.
-Cleaning wipes-they are not worth your money
most of the toys-I still buy them occasionally but I don't expect them to last too long
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Dec 19, 2012

Rose Bud Headband

This is a simple, done in less than 10 minutes mini rosebud headband made using fabric tape: 
I received this from Wholeport and I must say it is so fun and beautiful.  It is basically like a crocheted trim with a sticky tape backing on it.  You could use it on cards, or on scrapbook pages.  I created mini roses with mine.  I love the finished product.

For these you will need the fabric tape, a piece of elastic large enough to fit comfortably around the head of the person you are making it for, and a piece of felt (oh and hot glue).
Cut a length of the fabric tape.  There is no right or wrong length-just remember the longer the piece the bigger the rosebud.
Peel off the backing and begin rolling the fabric tape along it's sticky side (this means the rosebud will hold together on it's own-saving you many burned fingers from hot glue)
When you have completed the rosebud, put a dab of hot glue on the bottom and glue it to a piece of felt.  Then trim the felt to the same size as the bud.
I used three flowers per headband
Now run a small line of hot glue down the middle of each flower and glue to the elastic.  Hold in place for a few seconds.  Once all the flowers on the headband put a small dab of glue between them to hold them together.
There you have it.  Done in 10 mins or less.
And now for my lovely model (who happens to be sitting in a cardboard box).
Simple and beautiful (and yes I know red doesn't go with pink).
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Dec 18, 2012

Oh Sensitive Child..Who is Making Progress: A real Mommy Moment

If you have been reading Small Fry for a while you may recall this post about my super sensitive child.  I am so grateful for all the great people who shared comments and advice with me about what was an overwhelming issue at the time.  The other day when we were out of town staying at a hotel I was snapping some pictures of Small Fry holding Mr. T and realized that I was capturing a picture of something a few months ago I thought would never happen again with her.  Look close at the picture.  Can you tell what she is wearing on her legs?  Jeans.  She is wearing blue jeans.  After a year and a half of only soft pants I have finally got her to wear blue jeans again.  It just happened.  We got some in a hand me down bag and I asked her if she wanted to surprise daddy and her friend and her friends mom and wear blue jeans one day and she said yes.  I made it into a huge deal.  We danced, I squealed in delight and I praised her the entire day for being so brave to try something new.  I honestly thought it would never happen but you know (just like many people said in comments on my original post) she grew out of that particular issue and actually is making strides in many areas.  She washes her hands (not with soap yet but at least she will wash them), she doesn't mind lotion when she has an itch, she will wipe off water around the sink that she doesn't like on her own if it is bothering her, she doesn't have to wear an undershirt every day and she has even tried on some cute clothes that have elastic around the sleeves and though she thinks it will bother her she forgets about it quickly.  I have a couple of things to thank for the changes that I see in her.  #1-being patient (as patient as I could be most days) with the sensitivity. #2-being part of something outside of home like ballet lessons.  She is interacting with other kids and seeing what others are doing and I think that has been a good influence. #3-She has a friend.  She has never had a friend her age up until a few months ago and God smiled on us and sent her a friend and one for me too and I think it has been so good for her because she wants to be like her friend and is willing to do a bit more because of it.  We still have a long way to go but what once felt like a huge pit of never ending pickiness now has eased up a ton and I hope it will only continue to get better.  I wish that it could be the same way for everyone out there that has to deal with these kind of issues.  They are sure exhausting. At least in my case, waiting in out without losing it over every little thing has brought us to the point we are at today and I am so thankful.

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Dec 17, 2012

Paper Nativity Tag

I recently found The 24 Days of Mormon Christmas at Confessions of a Slacker Mom.  It is a downloadable file of stories, songs, scriptures and links to videos to use in your family the 24 days leading up to Christmas. It's like a mini devotional for every night of December up to Christmas.  If you purchase the gifting license for $12.00 it gives you the ability to either print out or burn 100 copies of The 24 Days of Mormon Christmas to give as gifts to your friends.  I thought, for taking all the work of searching for things that go together for each night of the month it was worth the $12.00 but then when I read that I could share it with 100 friends I was sold.  What a great neighbor or friend gift.  It is a perfect gift to give to your in laws or the women that you visit teach (assuming of course that all of the above mentioned people would use something like this).  Well I bought the gifting license and printed off all of the pages to put in a binder to use for myself and then burned copies to CD's to give to some of our neighbors and a few friends ( I chose people with small children because even though the whole thing is not just for children, there are lots of things that would be perfect for families with children).  I instantly saw in my head the CD wrapped up with a nativity tag attached.  So I searched Pinterest first to find out how to make a paper CD package and found these instructions:

Then I searched for nativities (which if you are wanting tons of ideas type that into the search box on Pinterest and select boards-I found so many fantastic nativity boards) and I found this pattern (which is to make a felt ornament).

It was simple and I knew I could make a paper version.  I redrew it, scaled it down quite a bit and then cut out individual pattern pieces.  I then cut all the pieces out of paper and assembled them into this simple and cute little Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus scene.  I attached it to the CD holder, tied a twine bow around it and added a little gift tag.  I love how they turned out.

Even though it won't be able to be used much this Christmas season, I am hoping that if I tuck it in with a little plate of cookies that those who receive it will have it out and ready next December 1st to help them get into the true spirit of the season.
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Dec 14, 2012

The perfect Needle for Kids

This is not a life changing tutorial by any means but it might come in handy for a teacher, a mom and definitely  kids.  My friend and I were planning a home preschool day and having our kids decorate mini Christmas trees.  We wanted to give them some colored pasta and beads to make a garland for their trees.  This idea came into my head to make a kid friendly and safe "needle" to use for stringing.  It still helps with hand-eye coordination but gives a child with fumbly fingers a much easier way to string beads (or anything else).
To make one cut a length of pipe cleaner (mine was about 3 and a 1/4 inches long).  Fold down one end to create a hook.
Now wrap that around the straight part to create a little loop (wrap it a couple of times so that it will not easily pull out).
Run a piece of string or yarn through that loop and knot it.  If you want to reuse the needle then tie the string to itself and knot it.
Don't forget to add something to the end of your string to prevent all the beads etc. from coming off.
Then let your kiddos string away. 
This really made it less frustrating for the kids to string things.  Even my little pumpkin (who's 3) and my friends daughter who is 2 could string things much easier.  My kids usually get frustrated and give up-now we have a solution to that problem and they can craft away.
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Dec 13, 2012

Masking Sticker Gift Tags

I have had a super exciting new opportunity open up to me in the world of blogging: a sponsor.  It is a bloggers dream come true.  WHOLEPORT has been fabulous enough to include Small Fry & Co. in their blog sponsorship program and what that means for me is that I get the the privilege of sampling their products and sharing them with all of you.

This is the first product that I want to tell you all about: Masking Stickers.  
 These come in a set of 27 little sheets of precut, decorative sticker strips.  Each sheet includes a row of circles as well as 2 rows of narrow stickers.  They are as simple to use as peeling and sticking.  The price is $2.79 a set, with a $1.70 for shipping.  That is an EXCELLENT deal.
I apologize, but I was working with them at night and got  super carried away creating and didn't get a picture of the sheets in their complete form.  Here is the "see how much I have used so far" picture instead.  This is my favorite color pack by the way.  It is the pastel pack

This is the basic set and as you can see I found plenty of uses for it as well.
 Here is a quick and easy project I came up with using the tape strips: gift tags.  Do you ever go to a party only to announce at the gift opening time "that one in the pink bag with the tissue paper is from me.  I didn't have a tag or card"?  Well I do that all the time.  Now I have myself a little stash of tags to use in just such occasions   I made birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day, get well and baby versions.  They are so easy to use and with so many colors and designs to choose from in one pack there are endless possibilities.  The only advice I have about the product is that you have to handle the sticky side as little as possible because it loses it's stick if you are fiddling around with it too much, but now that you have some ideas you won't need to fiddle-you can just create.
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Dec 12, 2012

Peg Doll Nativity Clothing Tutorial

I found the original idea for this fantastic and simple nativity at Little Inspirations (click on the picture below to go to the post).  I loved everything about it instantly and new I had to make a set.  My plan is to make a set for each of my kids (someday).
Pinned Image
I found a set of peg dolls at Hobby Lobby for $2.99.  The set includes enough peg dolls to make all your characters minus the baby (and I used a wooden clothes pin for that).  When it came time to make the characters it was not quiet as easy as I thought it would be.  Even though they are simple, figuring out how to make everything so that you can tell what it is and have it look good was a bit tricky.  So I decided to save you all a little work and write a tutorial to make my version of the peg doll nativity clothing, inspired 100% by the blog: Little Inspirations.
 I have included a link to the pattern at the end of this tutorial.  There is a chance that this pattern could print slightly smaller than it was originally drawn.  I think it is a computer issue because our old computer used to print everything smaller but our new computer gives me the option to change the print size and that doesn't happen any more.  So just beware.  Cut one piece first and double check that it fits before cutting everything.  You may have to cut slightly bigger.
After you have cut everything then the assembly is really pretty basic.
Here are my basic wise men outfits.
 To dress the dolls I just hot glued one end of fabric to the body, wrapped the fabric around and secured with more hot glue.
 To make the crowns I created a little circle first (secured with glue) and then ran a small bead of glue around the inside bottom and attached it to the head.
 I added a tie around the waist and a robe.
 Behold: The Wise men
 I dressed Mary the same as the wise men and added a tie (embroidery floss) around her waist.  To attach her head covering I first ran a bead of glue down the straight part of the head covering fabric.  I folded that over her head and down the sides of her body.
 Then I attached the back with a little dab of glue.
 Then I made a couple of little folds also held down with glue
Behold: Mary
 Joseph is dressed the same way as Mary only I folded the back of his head covering a bit different.  His belt is made from a piece of garden twine.
 Behold: Joseph
 Behold: The Shepherds (head coverings are made of burlap with garden twine belts)
 Behold : The Angel ( I didn't want to give the angel wings because I do believe in angels but I don't believe they have wings so instead I gave the angel a bit of a different robe-one that was more flowy.  I did give the angel a halo just to make sure it was recognizable as an angel).
 For the baby Jesus I cut off the top part of a rounded clothes pin.  This was done very sloppily with a not too sharp saw so pretty much anyone can do it.
 Behold: The baby Jesus (wrapped in swaddling clothes-I used the basic head covering pattern to cut this piece)
 The Nativity: simple and sweet.  Perfect for kids to play with and not break.  The simplicity is perfect and humble I think.
 "Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord."

Peg Doll Nativity Clothing
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