Jun 20, 2013

Dollar Store Recommendations Part 2

About 6 months ago I shared with you my list of dollar store recommendations specifically from the
 Dollar Tree Store.  Today I wanted to share a part 2 of that series because I keep finding great things that I love from that store.  I also have a few at the end of the list that I couldn't find on the website but you might be able to find them in a store near you so don't just go by the pictures-check out the whole list.

1. Spray bottles: I honestly don't know what the going rate of a spray bottle is at any other store but when I saw these at the dollar store my only hang up was, "Do they work?" and I am here to tell you that they do work-GREAT!!

2. Microfiber Dish Cloths: These work great for mopping floors, washing dishes and as rags.  

3. Printed Shelf Liners: I don't actually use this as shelf liners but use it to cover things (boxes, binders etc).  I couldn't find it on the website but I have also bought the clear contact paper and it works great for at home "laminating".

4. Stor It Cover Ups: They are like little shower caps for your dishes.  They are super handy, I wash mine so they can be reused and the box comes with 3 different sizes in one.  I think it is a great buy.

5. Muffin Liners: Depending on sales and coupons you may find these for cheaper elsewhere.  These ones are great too.

6. Hawaiian Punch Singles To Go: These are a fun "reward" for kids on long trips.  We dump one into a water bottle and it seems to provide enough excitement to keep a kid happy for a while longer.  And they are sugar free if that makes a difference to you.

7. Clear Decorative Rocks:  I use these a lot to make magnets (decorative ones, or job chart ones etc.)  Once in a while you find a dud but overall you get your moneys worth for sure.

8. Dry Erase Markers: I know these are one of those items that you would for sure wonder if it is worth it but I have some that I bought for my in home preschool and they work great.  They last a long time, hold up pretty well (even when being smashed by a 3 year old trying to write) and the marker doesn't just immediately rub off of the whiteboard surface.  I think they are a great buy.

9. Kid scissors: I particularly like these ones because they have a little spring that you can put in place to help kids first learning to cut.  The spring helps the scissors spring back.  We have had the same pair for 3 year and they haven't had a single problem.

10. Glitter Glue: To me this is one of those items that it doesn't really matter how good the quality is if you are getting these for little kids because they are going to think it is cool, squeeze out a whole blob on a paper and then repeat on a million more papers until it is all gone.  $1.00 to entertain like that for a 1/2 hour is well worth it to me.  I even found some in pastel colors: pink, yellow, green, blue and purple.

11. Flash Cards: I haven't bought these particular Sesame Street ones but I have bought flashcards from the Dollar Tree and I love them.  They have so many kinds to choose from.  I hole punch the corners and put them on a ring to keep them all together.  

12. Bubble Bath Books: I use these for a teething baby; it's better than ruining a good book with baby drool.

13. Strawberry Shortcake Coloring Books:  I am not sure of the going rate of coloring books at any store really but I love these ones and my girls do too.  They are good quality and so stinkin cute.  Makes me want to take up coloring again.  Great for gifts too (just don't buy the crayons or colored pencils at the Dollar Tree to go with these :)

14. Bingo Dabbers: I use these for preschool.

15. Muffin Pans: I am not sure how great these are for baking (though I am sure they are okay) but I use them for gifts like burp cloth cupcakes, or cupcake onesies and also for preschool for sorting colors, counting objects, or holding supplies.  

16.  Foaming Hand Soap: They didn't have a picture of the foaming hand soap so I used this antibacterial hand soap picture instead but I really want to tell you about the foaming hand soap.  It is awesome and I keep reusing the bottles by making my own hand soap to go in them.  I have found a pomegranate scent, a coconut lime scent, and a fresh laundry scent.

17. Barbie Tooth Brush (not pictured): I just found these for my girls.  A barbie tooth brush, with a little cover and a cute little case.  They were in heaven.  I mean if a new toothbrush can bring so much joy then I will be happy to stock up.

18. Boxed Milk (not pictured): The brand is Gossner.  It comes in a tetrapack.  I have not actually drank it just by itself but I am sure it is comparable to reconstituted powdered milk or better.  I do however use it in baking ALL THE TIME.  I would recommend this as something to have in your emergency storage-for those times when you run out of milk and can't get to the store, or an after hours baking spree in which you don't want to use up all the regular milk.  I have used it on my girls oatmeal and they didn't seem to notice.  It is easier to use than powdered milk and super handy to have.  

19. Soy Sauce (not pictured): just saying that I have used it and it tastes totally normal to me and it is a decent amount for $1.00.  

20. Stor It Jumbo Freezer Bags (not pictured): I just happened to find these when I was looking for paper bags one time in the store.  They are freezer bags that are bigger than the 1 gallon size.  I mean, how many times do you have something that is just a hair too big for a gallon sized bag?  Happens to me a lot.  These are perfect.  I think there are like 10 to a box or something.  Maybe I am just a sucker for a zip top bag, but these are great.

Ok, so there you have it and I will keep shopping so I can get back and post a part 3 (because they always get great new stuff).

Have you tried anything from the Dollar Tree store that you just love?  Please share.
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Jun 18, 2013

The LAShop and 1 Great and Affordable Photo Backdrop

I think it is safe to say that everyone needs a place where they can buy something "unique" for that someone in your life who has everything.  Or maybe you just want to give a gift that is different, quirky or one of a kind.  Well The LAShop has got your covered.  This is the online place to find all sorts of random items, things that are quirky, one of a kind and sometimes even a little wild.  The LAShop contacted me a while ago to see if I would be interested in testing out one of their many photography items: a photo backdrop stand.  My answer of course was YES!!!!.  I have wanted one of these, I can think of many uses for one of these and now I am thrilled to be the owner of one of these.  Before I go on, I just have to say that if you are into photography either professionally or as a hobby The LAShop has all kinds of great photography equipment and great prices and deals all the time.  
Ok, now to talk about this photography backdrop.
First it shipped super fast.  It came in this convenient carrying case.
 When you open it there are spaces for the 4 main poles as well as two pockets for the actual stand pieces.  One downside is that is didn't have any instructions, but after looking over each piece I figured out exactly how to put it together.  One thing that I really love is how many ways you can change the size.  You can make it taller, and you can make it wide or narrow depending on what kind of backdrop you need.  It can be high and wide enough to fit over a couch (which you could then hide with a draped sheet or piece of fabric) or it could be wide enough to hold a sheet and project a movie onto.  You could make it smaller to take individual portraits, or enlarge the whole backdrop and take a group shot.  Lots of possibilities.
 Here is a little look at it set up to take some pictures in my kitchen.  
 I don't have many things to use as backdrops right now, but now that I have the stand I will be investing.  For now I tried a fleece blanket, and sheets.  There are no clamps to hold the material to the stand either.  I have been using clothes pins but asked my fabulous hubby for some C-clamps for my birthday coming up.
 Ok so the disclaimer is that even though you may own some professional equipment, your kids will not behave any differently because of it and you still may not get great pictures.  I did however luck out and get these great shots:

This one I did over my couch, so that my kids could sit on the couch while I took the picture.  That was super convenient.

If you are looking for something to help with your photography hobby, or you want something that you can use occassionally that you don't have to break the bank to buy then The LAShop has got you covered.  I also loved their photo tents and they have lots of background fabric options as well-seriously-everything you need.  Check it out for yourself.
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Jun 14, 2013

Coffee Filter Sunflower Wreath

It is crazy and wonderful to me, where I get inspiration from sometimes.  The inspiration from this project came from a  kids craft at out local community center that I saw at a glance after I took a dance fitness class.  I saw these cute little sunflowers the kids had made out of coffee filters that they colored with crayons and I saw this wreath in my mind.  And I have to say it is even more beautiful than I pictured it.  I love how it turned out-so perfectly cheery and welcoming for the summer.

For this you will need:
coffee filters-1 package will do
yellow food coloring plus a drop of orange (I actually used a combo of yellow food coloring and a bit of orange Kool-aid because I didn't have orange food coloring)
Brown terry towel material (an old towel would work for this)
Hot glue
Wreath Base
Something to wrap said wreath base in (I used some fabric scraps but burlap would look awesome too-I didn't have enough)

Step 1: Dye your coffee filters.  Let me share a link to my post on how to do this the super quick and easy way using Kool-aid and your dryer.   Once these are dry lay 3 or 4 or 5 filters on top of each other.  I used a combination of sunflowers made from 3, and from 4 and from 5 on my wreath.  Ones made with 5 filters are fluffier.
Step 2: Fold the stack in half.
Step 3: Cut to look flower like.  I trimmed some of mine down before cutting the petals so that I would have a variety of shapes of sunflowers.  They don't have to be perfect because you can't tell in the final product.
Step 4: Open up the stack and alternate the layers so that all the petals are not laying directly on top of each other.
Step 5: Put a dab of hot glue between each layer.
Step 6: Cut the flower centers from the terry towel and glue in place.  I just roughly cut circles.
Step 7: Repeat....A LOT.
Step 8: Wrap your wreath if you haven't already and then begin gluing on the flowers.  Alternate them so they aren't all just directly on top of the wreath, have a few to the sides.

And you are done.  And it looks AMAZING.  I just love how happy it looks.  I love sunflowers except for the fact that they loose their petals so quickly and their heads droop.  But not this wreath-these babies will last all summer long (unless you put this directly in the sun or where it gets hit with rain...then I can't guarantee how long it will last).
Happy summer everyone.

Also shared here:

It's Overflowing

504 Main
Happy Go Lucky
Happy Hour Friday Button
Skip To My Lou

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Jun 12, 2013

Bed Sheet Pajama Pants

When I was in college I had to take a parenting class in which we had to write a paper outlining our goals for our future family.  Let me tell you that reading that paper now that I have kids is pretty hillarious.  I was so clueless about what a real mom did.  Most of the goals I set were completely unrealistic.  One that I did write down, which I have actually had for a long time was under my "finacial" category.  Under that category I said that I would live frugally, and could even make pajama pants out of bed sheets if necessary.  I think I have been pretty good at living frugally and I finally crossed off the "making pj's out of bed sheets" goal.  Think about it-what is more comfortable than a worn in sheet that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  Not all sheets are created equal but when you find a good one that feels soft and smooth and cool and comfortable you are doomed to want to just hang out in bed all day.  Well why not just take the sheet with you?  I didn't make these pants because we are too poor to afford regular pajama pants but because I was shopping at our thrift store and happened to find one of those "perfect" sheets that was soft, and smooth and cool feeling and I loved the pattern.  I knew exactly what I had to do with it: pj's for my girls.

These are pretty much as easy as you can get.  You will need 1 bed sheet (size doesn't matter if you are making kid pants but it might if you are making adult pants) and a pair of pants to use as a pattern (ones that currently fit the same way you want the bed sheet pj's to fit).  You will also need 3/4" elastic and small piece of ribbon.
Start by placing one pant leg inside the other on the pair of pj's you are using as a pattern.
Fold over your fabric so that it will be slightly wider than the pj pants and then double it over (so 4 layers total) so that you can cut both pieces out at one time.
Put your pajama pants on the sheet (you should have 2-3 inches at least around the pants).
Pin your pj pants down.
Now cut around the pants.  You will want to leave extra room at the top and the bottom to allow for hems (remember that you can always make pants shorter but it is pretty tricky to make them longer).  The pants I used as the pattern were getting short on Small Fry so I left extra at the bottom.  They were also a bit tight so I cut my pieces about 1 inch bigger all the way around.  If the pants you are using for a pattern fit well then you only need to leave about a 1/2 inch around the "pattern" to allow for the seams.
Now open up your fabric and pin the pieces together (right sides together).  If you cut them the way I showed in the above picture then the first 2 pieces will form one leg and the second set of pieces will form the other leg.
Stitch the shorter of the two sides seams together-the one on the side with the curved part.
Open each leg piece and place on top of the other-right sides together, matching all the seams and pin along the curve.
Stitch the section that you just pinned.  It works best if you kind of lengthen out the seam by holding it as straight as you can like this:
Here is what you should have so far (and you are probably going to look at these and go "Oh geez, I totally just messed up" but you didn't...I promise).
Okay next you need to open these and lay them with one large piece on top of the other (and they should look like pants).  The seam that you just sewed (the curved part) is the crotch seam (don't worry, it's acceptable to say crotch when you are talking about sewing stuff).  I opened one section flat:
Then I opened the other piece and flipped it to be on top (right sides together) of the other piece.  I will be honest and say it is kinda tricky (even looking back at these pictures I am not sure I really captured how to do it).
In the end it should look like this (so just mess around with them until they do):
Before you sew the side seams it is easier to hem the bottoms at this step while they are open and flat.
I serged first but that is not necessary.  You can turn the hem twice and get the same effect.  I turned mine up a 1/4" and then up 3/4".
Stitch along the top of the hem.  Then sew the side seams top to bottom.
Lastly you will make the waste band.  I used the pair of pants I used as my pattern to determine how big to make the hem for the waste (you could of course try it on your little model-mine was not home).
The same principle applies here as the leg hems-turn twice and sew once only this time leave an opening to insert the elastic (so don't sew all the same around...I leave a 1 inch opening).  The best place to leave it is in the back of the pants.  To determine which side is the back lay the pants flat and straighten out the crotch seam-one of the waste pieces should be longer than the other-they should not match up perfectly.  The higher of the two is the back (cause it has to cover a little bum that sticks out).
Here is my 1 inch opening.
Measure a piece of elastic that fits around the waste comfortably without being stretched.  Place a pin in one end and thread through the hem opening and around the pants waste band.
Pin the ends of the elastic together and stitch (make sure the elastic is not twisted any where in the waste band).  Now before you stitch the opening closed, make a little tag out of a folded piece of ribbon.  Tuck that in the opening and then stitch it closed.
And there you have it-super comfy and soft, comfortable pj bottoms; as comfortable as your favorite sheet.

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