Friday, October 18, 2019

Halloween Fun for Kids: Quick Crafts & Games

Do you enjoy crafting with your kids??

My kids love doing almost any art projects or crafts.  They'd do them daily if I had the activities planned.  Most of these activities only took 15-20 minutes.  They were quick, not very messy and tons of fun. 

I've tried harder this month to pull out cute crafts because A. I picked up lots of Halloween crafts on clearance after Halloween last year at Meijer.  They were around $0.75 each instead of the usual $4-5.  B. It's been a fun after school routine for us.  And C it's easier to come up with holiday themed crafts once it gets to this point in the year. 

Our typical routine: The kids have a snack after school, watch a show or two and then they sit at the kitchen island to craft.  For most projects I just explain the process, give them some instructions if needed and let them get busy.  I use this time to catch up on dishes, chat with them about their days and help them if they need it.  Then we move on to homework, play outside and dinner.  I will also prep dinner during craft time if I haven't already done it for the day.

Here are some of the cute projects/Halloween things we've done together this month:

1. Dress in festive clothes!
Target and Meijer are my favorite spots to get Halloween kid clothes.

2. Paint Sun Catchers
These kits came with two sun catchers, paint and a tool to paint with.  Each kid got one kit.  We swapped out the tool for a traditional paint brush.  Let them dry overnight, added string and hung them in the kitchen windows.  Fletcher needed a little help with this one.  These were really hard to photograph, but I promise they're super cute.

3. Color Wooden pictures with Markers
The kit came with three wooden pictures and markers.  We added in our own markers and both kids enjoyed this one.  Teacher Mom TIP: Only give them marker options for the appropriate holiday colors.  Your finished project will turn out so much cuter and festive if you have color guidelines.  I hadn't originally included pink, but Olive insisted her witch picture needed pink :)

Olive picked out the big one and then Fletcher got the little two.   I'll be honest, these turned out MUCH cuter than I was expecting.  I love all the little details.  Both kids put them on display in their rooms.

4. Apple Tree Activity
Fletcher played this game at science class.  He loved it so much that I had to replicate it at home.  All you need is pom poms of various sizes, wide popsicle sticks and one toilet paper roll per kid.  The game is super simple.  Stack 2-4 branches on top of the toilet paper roll and then carefully add pom pom apples on top.  The goal was to try and get 10 pom pom apples to balance on top of the branches.  Fletcher was obsessed with this game and Olive was fine with it.

5. Halloween Houses
Andrea from Momfessionals is one of my favorite moms.  I share her recipes, her mom ideas and her crafts with you regularly.  She's crazy talented and so relatable.  She posted an updated link to her Halloween Houses at the end of this post and my kids have had tons of fun decorating them again this year.  We used markers and stickers.  The sticker option was great for Fletcher who doesn't want to spend tons of time coloring.  Olive colored for a long time and then added flare with stickers.

 6. Halloween Decorations
We added a baby scarecrow to our scarecrow family this year.  The kids also help put out the decorations inside and outside.

I hope these activities seemed doable and fun to try with your own family!  The more you let your kids be creative and craft, the easier it is.  We set clear rules, clear supply options and have a great routine going to make this a fun activity for all of us.  You can do it!! 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

8 Simple Budget Friendly Recipes

I have some simple budget friendly food ideas to share with you today.  None of these meal ideas are revolutionary, but they're all meals that are quick to prepare and are crowd pleasers.  That's a winning combination in my book.

I usually fix dinner 6 nights a week and then I try to cook lunches on the weekends for my family.  It saves us a lot of money and we'd rather pick up some quick take out for dinner when Friday/Saturday roll around.

I think I first mentioned last year that I was making a serious effort to not waste food.  We eat leftovers for lunches, eat the same meal two nights in a row and utilize our freezer to save any produce that in danger of going bad.  My system isn't perfect, but I've really improved in this area and we waste very little food.  Yay!

1. Avoid buying premade desserts
A dozen cookies is anywhere from $8-12 and you can make them at home for under $4.  Pies and cakes are at least $12+ and all of that adds up fast.  I understand there are times you have to go the store bought route for school functions and for allergy purposes, but if you have the option homemade is usually cheaper.

I made My Most Famous Recipe chocolate chip cookies and rolled them in mini M&Ms before baking them.  The result was bakery worthy looking cookies that were so good!!

2. Prepare extra meat at dinner time and save the leftovers for easy lunches

We love this Member's Mark Pulled Chicken from Sams.  It's $9.96 and we can get two dinners and two lunches out of it.  I like to make different sides when I eat it for lunch to make the meal seem fresh.  I roasted baby carrots and an onion this day.  It was such a good meal!  We try to grill an extra burger or two, extra chicken breasts, make extra roast, etc. so that we have leftover meat.

3. Breakfast for lunch or dinner

My family loves Hammy Cheesey Eggs with toast and fruit.  I will slice up deli ham or slice up the little precooked fourths of a ham from the store for this.  It keeps in the freezer and you can just take out what you need.

4. Make a big bath of soup or chili for the week

When the weather cools off I try to do one soup a week to eat for 2 dinners and several lunches.  We had chili a couple of weeks ago.  I'm anxious to try a new soup with tortellini and italian sausage this week.

5. Prechop and wash veggies for easy snacks

I usually spend one day shopping and chopping to prepare for the week.  I haven't been in the mood for chopping everything little for salads lately.  These veggie trays have seemed much easier.  I've also found that my family is much more likely to grab veggies for a snack if they're prepped and ready to grab in the fridge.

6. Rotisserie Chicken Breasts

My Sams sells a four pack of rotisserie chicken breasts for $3.98!!  That's $1 cheaper than the whole rotisserie chicken and it's our favorite part.  I try to stock up on these when I find them at Sams because you just can't beat that deal for fully cooked chicken.  We use it for dinners and lunches.

7. Rotisserie Chicken Leftovers

I added it to lunch boxes.  Packing lunches saves us so much money.  The whole family does it.  My son love to dip his chicken in honey mustard and my daughter prefers hers plain.

We used up rotisserie chicken in quesadillas for lunches at home.

We also made BBQ chicken bowls with the rest of the leftover chicken plus some leftover homemade potato wedges.  I just popped all of it in the skillet to heat it up.  It was delicious and no food went to waste!

8. Cook once; Eat several times

I made this Life Changing Lasagna recipe last week.  It was so good!  We ate one dinner from it and then Fletcher and I both had it for lunch 3 different days. 

What tricks do you use to same your family money on meals??

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Leather Earring Giveaway

Chances are if you see me in person or if you see a picture of me, I'm wearing my favorite ADVdesigns leather earrings.  They've been my favorite for a couple of years now.  They are the perfect accessory for busy moms and busy ladies.  They're so easy to wear.  My friend Amber has the best earring business.  She's from Arkansas and is a super hard working mom.  I LOVE her shop and love her designs.  I wear them every day.

I've got a really fun giveaway going on over on Instagram (@polkadottyplace) this week.  It runs now through Friday at noon.  Head over there to enter.  Make sure you're following me and @advdesignsco to enter to win.  Tag a friend for a bonus entry!!  Must be in the US to win.

Here's a sneak peek at the Fall line at ADVdesigns.

If you don't want to wait for the contest to end to get earrings, you can use the code Whitney20 for 20% off your order right now!!

In full disclosure, Amber sent me these new Fall earrings to wear, style and help promote her new Fall line.  Aren't they gorgeous!?!  I'm excited for the feather looking tear drops and for the tassel earrings.  I've purchased lots of earrings from her for myself and for gifts, but these were a gift.  I'm thrilled to promote her small business and share something I LOVE with you.

There are a million ways you could style them, but here are a few ideas:

A few ways that I've worn my ADVdesigns earrings in real life.  They're perfect for casual and dressy looks.  They're SO light weight.  You'll forget you're wearing them.  I love the patterns, the solids, the metallics and the textured earrings.

 Now head over to instagram to enter to win!!  Good luck!!

Monday, October 14, 2019

ISU Homecoming 2019

We had a really fun homecoming 2019 weekend!  My parents came in town Friday night and we hosted a fun tailgate for Kevin's students and co-workers before the game on Saturday.  The weather was perfect!  It was chilly and wonderful.   We layered our ISU gear and were ready to go.

We grabbed breakfast at McDonalds.

We got there around 10:00 to set up our tailgate spot.  This is our third year to do it and we have our routine down.  We've finally collected enough chairs, coolers, tables, tents, etc. to make it all happen.

I plan the food, my mom helped and Kevin did all the grilling.

We walked around to check out all the ISU things on display.  The kids loved "driving" the race cars.

Sycamore Sam is always a fun sight to see.

 We played games and hung out before the game.  Both of my parents are ISU alums so it's a fun event for them to come to.  We look forward to it every fall.

The kids loved all the space to play and the students were really great to play with them.

I set up the tailgate buffet a little different this year.  I only filled the containers half full and then refilled as needed.  This way we kept lots of food back from being touched and didn't waste any.  It worked out great.  

I added blue sprinkles to our snicker doodles and the caramel apple dip was a big hit.

I brought along my neutral pumpkin and my Indiana cutting board made the perfect football charcuterie board.

We got to watch the team warm up as we strolled through tent city.

 We painted our nails blue to be extra festive.

It was the perfect Fall day!!

Kevin was busy holding down the grill and tailgate so I was glad to have some extra hands to help me with the kids.  Isn't this picture sweet!?!  Papaw & Fletcher. 

The game was BORING so we only stayed until half time.

This was Fletcher's first football game and both kids did great.  They ate popcorn and we did our best to stay warm in the shade.

We came home, took naps and enjoyed watching Notre Dame win that night!!

Yay for college football :)