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Monday, 25 August 2014

Throwing a Rainbow Themed Birthday

I love rainbows.  Seriously, love them.  They are joyful and bright and when observed in the sky make people stop and take notice of the beauty they hold.
And, gentle readers, I am so fortunate to have a daughter who also loves rainbows. I was pretty thrilled when, given three options for a third birthday theme, Audrey decided on rainbows.

This turned out to be a pretty big event with 31 children in attendance, plus parents.
I am just going to take a moment to say how glad I am that we have birthday "celebrations" for our kids, not birthday "parties" (the only difference being that we ask for no gifts at our events). My kids live in a daycare.  They certainly don't want for toys or books or craft supplies.  And seriously, if we had 31 kids bringing gifts yesterday where would we put it all?! All that stuff would have taken over our modest house!
Instead we accept non perishable food and hygiene items from the guests that feel weird going to a childrens birthday empty handed.  Tomorrow, when Community Care is open, That Guy will take Audrey down to donate everything she received.

 We had a budget of $200 for this birthday and we managed to stay close to budget; we went over by $5.  We like to host our kids birthdays between either 1-3 or 2-4 because between those hours no one is expecting a full meal spread (read: cost savings) just light snacks. We spent $75 on food for this event, $90 for decor/games/activities and $40 on guest favours.

Here is how that all broke down:

We kept it basic. Just water to drink. We bought two cases of water, 70 bottles total.  We covered the labels with rainbow streamers, then covered the streamers with clear packing tape to improve durability.
Rainbow water!
I dyed some jumbo marshmallows (for a how-to check this previous blog post) and arranged them into a pretty rainbow on one of our white trays. A bowl of Colors Goldfish Crackers and some Veggie Chips.
A few rainbow goodies
We also did simple fruit and veggie trays.  
Strawberries, oranges, pineapples, kiwis, blueberries and red grapes for a lovely, tasty fruit rainbow. 
Tomatoes, carrots, yellow peppers and cucumbers on the veggie tray.  I had intended to use blue chips and purple carrots to finish off my rainbow.  However, the blue chips look much more purple than blue and I ran out of time to cut up the purple carrots.
But it still looks delectable and fed many happy guests. 

Rainbow fruit and veggie trays
That Guy was going to make a stunning rainbow cake for Audrey. However, when we looked over our staggering guest list we decided it would be unfair to ask 31 three year olds to wait patiently for cake to be cut. So he did these adorable rainbow cupcakes instead. Everyone was thrilled!

Rainbow cupcakes!
Guest Favors:
Because we do not accept gifts at these events, I feel justified in giving small tokens of thanks for guest favours rather than elaborate and expensive loot bags.  This year I was thrilled to find rainbow pinwheels at Dollar Tree for $1.25 each.  I added a small tag thanking our guests for coming. 
This is what 32 rainbow pinwheel guest favors look like
A single pinwheel with guest favor tag
Without gift opening to suck up a good portion of the event time slot I have to make sure that I plan events to keep the kids at least mildly entertained and engaged. 

Using some poster board and sticky tack That Guy made a "Pin the Prism" game that all the kids really enjoyed.  Sometimes the classics really come through.

Why yes, it does look a little like a Pink Floyd
album cover ;)
Some free printable rainbow coloring sheets with crayons kept everyone happy and busy while people were still arriving
Everyone loves to color
We also made rainbow hand kites. Looking for something circular as a base for these kites I found six packs of plastic bracelets at the dollar store. I bought spools of the 59 cent ribbon from Micheal's Craft Store. With the help of That Guy and a darling friend we got the ribbon cut to length, heat sealed the edges to prevent fraying and sorted into rainbow order.  
The kids chose the bracelet color of their choice and whatever color and number of ribbons they wanted.  Then with a simple loop knot attached the ribbon to the bracelet.  We saw some beautiful and wonderful shows of creativity here.
Rainbow hand kite station all ready to go
We also bought six bottles of bubbles and prepped the backyard.  The kids could go out there, play with the toys, run with their kites and blow some bubbles.  It was joyful. 

I needed to make as big an impact as possible on my budget. When originally planning for a rainbow birthday I had forgot to factor in that it would mean buying six packs of streamers and six packs of balloons and six packs of paper plates- each a different colour in the rainbow. *DISCLAIMER*-Yes, I do know there are actually seven colours in the rainbow.  And Audrey does love indigo.  But indigo was hard to find in balloons, streamers and paper plates.  So we made the decision to stick with the basic six colours.  I don't think anyone but Audrey and I were overly bothered by the omission of indigo. 

With basic curling ribbon I tied the balloons into groups of three then tied them to the rails on our banister. Since our stairs are right by the front door this was pretty as guests walked in.  
Balloon rainbow

 Streamers strung in rainbow order on our piano (for a how to on painting your piano please check out this previous blog post).  Yes, that is my beautiful tulip shade Scentsy warmer on the piano...isn't it lovely?! Contact me for all your Scentsy needs!

Rainbow streamers on our green piano
Here is the lovely, cheerful canopy That Guy creates for each of the kids birthdays.  Just $1 for each of the different colored plastic tablecloths, and streamers in between. Then balloons hanging from the light fixture in the center of the room.
Photo 1

Photo 2
We own the white table cloth and chair covers, so its nothing for us to add them to our events.  I like to tie coordinating streamers around the chair covers for a pop of colour. I used the same streamers that we used on the water bottles.

Our dining room set for the birthday to start
 Outside I ran some streamers around the front porch pillars.  Then with packing tape, I attached more streamers to each other and taped them to the porch ceiling. A few balloons on the railing because, as we all know, balloons out front is the international symbol for "birthday over here!".  I also made a little rainbow sign for the front door that says in gold glitter (although you cant read it in this photo) "Welcome to Audreys third birthday".

And thats how we celebrate rainbow-style at our house!!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Coach appreciation gift- DIY under $3

My son Walter has been participating in T ball this summer.   He has genuinely enjoyed himself and, oh goodness, what enjoyment I have had watching the antics of his team during games and practices.

This is a team of boys and girls ages 5-6.  Trying to organize 11 children that age to do anything is a challenge.  Trying to organize, train, coach and encourage these children to play a sport together takes a level of patience that few possess.

So I thought it would be nice if I made a small end of season gift for them (there are four coaches) to say thanks for being the kind of coaches we, as parents, always hope our kids will have.

Of course, four gifts can start adding up financially. I spent a few days trying to think up a gift that was cost effective, useful, meaningful and would be appreciated by both men and women (two male coaches, two female).  Then I was at Walters game a few weeks ago and I saw one coach writing something down, using the team bench as a writing surface.  A few minutes later I saw a second coach use the back of a third coach as a writing surface.  These people clearly needed clipboards.  Wait.....these people clearly needed clipboards!!!! Perfect!!!!!!

Right after the game I dashed over to Staples Business Depot and bought clipboards.  Two in a package for $4.49.  I needed two packages, but I was still pretty happy about a thank you gift costing less than $3.

But, my gentle readers,  I did not just hand out plain press-board clipboards to these sweet coaches.

I decided to first paint the clipboards bright yellow.  T ball is played with a softball.  Where a baseball is white a softball is bright yellow.

As it turns out, if you put bright yellow paint on a brown clipboard without a white primer, what you get isn't a yellow painted clipboard.  Its a a hideously green tinged clipboard.  Guess how I know.....

However, after 4-5 coats it comes out looking pretty close to the colour of  a softball.

4-5 coats of yellow paint later
 Then I drew on (freehand!!) baseball stitching along the bottom right corner.  I took a fine paint brush and went over my pencil drawing in red paint (still freehand!).

Freehand baseball "stitching"
Okay, maybe its not perfect but I decided the lack of perfection was charming, gave myself some grace and carried on.

Here is a full clipboard view with the stitching
 Next I cut letters from dark brown self-adhesive vinyl  with my Cricut Cutting Machine. I peeled them off the backing and placed them one by one on the clipboard.   I thought "Volunteers don't have the time, they have the heart" was the perfect sentiment.
Already looks pretty awesome, right?
 Finally I went over the whole thing with a couple layers of Mod Podge.   Mod Podge will increase its durability by preventing the letters from pealing off or the paint from scratching or chipping.
Mod Podge and I are good friends
 Once dry I had a coach gift done for under $3!  Now to make three more.....
I was planning to have Walter give these to the coaches during the last tournament of the season.  However, knowing how much they really could benefit from them now I think we will give them at the next ball game.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

DIY thoughtful gift for friend

Tomorrow is the birthday celebration for a very dear friend of mine.  We are going out to celebrate with a few beverages.  I also wanted to gift her a small something to remind her how much she means to me and so many people.
I wanted the gift to be just right, but of course, not too expensive.

I finally decided on making her a set of "open when" letters.  I had seen this idea circulating Pinterest as a gift idea for a romantic partner.  Yet, with a little customizing I thought it would be a sweet heartfelt gift for my dear friend to last her all year.

In case you, my gentle readers, are unfamiliar with the idea "open when" letters are a set of letters/notes/small gifts for the recipient to open when a specific time is reached or event occurs.  "Open When.. It's Your Birthday!" or "Open When...You Need a Laugh" are common examples.

I spent a total of $14 on this gift.  Yes, it's close to double what I usually spend, what can I say?

I started with some on hand envelopes and card stock.  I just started writing Open When statements on the front of the cards.  I thought about Lindsey's life, her goals, her strengths and times when she might most need a friend or a reminder of love.

Inside I wrote a little note or motivational phrase.  When possible and relevant I included a small token/gift,

 I started with the obvious: Open when.. It's your birthday.
I intend for this to be opened at her next birthday since the whole series of these letters is her gift for this birthday.
I wrote a quick note and included a Birthday Girl pin along with a few balloons.
Its your birthday
Open when..You reached a milestone
"She believed she could so she did" and a small bag bag of confetti for celebration purposes. :)

You reached a milestone

 Open need a little encouragement
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly"
Followed by a terrible attempt at a butterfly.  Seriously, so much respect to artists!

You need a little encouragement

 Open're sick
"It seems that germs, like everyone else, find you irresistible! Get well soon"
Along with an adorable ice pack. Scored this one at the dollar store, how cute is it?!
You're sick

 Open need to feel pretty(er)
True beauty comes from within, the outside is fun to make up!
Along with a three pack of mini nail polish.  Also a dollar store score.
You need to feel pretty

 Open need a laugh.
Along with a card stuffed with awesome jokes.  For those of you who don't know, I'm hilarious. So this envelope is really quite a gem. :)
You need a laugh
 Open when...It's Canada Day
Along with a pack of sparklers (to be used with care and responsibility, of course).
It's Canada Day
 Open feel like giving up.
Just a few motivational words from someone who cares.
You feel like giving up
 Open when..its Earth Hour and have some fun!
Earth Hour (when all the lights/electronics get turned off for an hour) can be a great family fun night when you crack open a few glow sticks.  Which is exactly why I included a pack of ten for her and her family.
Its Earth Hour
 Open when...You forget how loved you are.
Included were some pictures my daughter couldn't wait to create for Lindsey and a note that explains why I included them.
You forget how loved you are
 Open's been one of those days.
We bottle our own wine at one of those "Brew Your Own" places. Since we do not often drink we have roughly 42 bottles of wine in the basement.
I thought there might come a day when Lindsey could appreciate the comfort of Merlot.
It's been one of those days
 Open need a hug.
You need a hug
 Open when...the boys are telling you they are bored and no one slept last night and you're not feeling well and you just need a minute to think!
Included with this is a package of Sponge Bob stickers, coloured craft sticks, pipe cleaners, feathers, pom poms and a bottle of craft glue.
Also a small note that encourages Lindsey to allow the mess to happen if it means she will get the moment of mental stillness she needs.
The boys are telling you they are bored and no one slept
last night and you're not feeling well and you just need
a moment to think!
 Open've had a great day!
"Time to celebrate the every day"
Along with a bag of confetti.  Yes, I did repeat the confetti idea.  But really, confetti is so much fun it should be included in celebration whenever possible.
You've had a great day!
 I wrapped up all the little gifts that did not fit inside the envelopes.  I attached envelopes to any gifts with curling ribbon.  The whole lot will go into a large gift bag and be presented to her during birthday festivities.
The whole lot
This is a gift that speaks to my heart because its not about a gift at all.  It's about helping people understand that they are more important, thought of and valued than they might realize.

Happy birthday, friend!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to custom colour marshmallows

About a year ago I was at my friends son's birthday party.  He was having a Team Umizoomi birthday.  Since this little guy happens to have a mom that totally rocks, he got a birthday that did too.
Among the food spread I spied a bowl of marshmallows.  But, gentle readers, typical marshmallows they were not! They were coloured to match the specific Team Umizoomi decor- I was super impressed!

I asked where she bought them.  With her answer she changed the way I saw regular white jumbo marshmallows... she coloured them herself!!  I know, right?! I thought it was pretty awesome too!

Agape, I asked her how. She told me and I have been doing them to match my childrens birthday/event decor ever since.

So, inspired by Lindsey, here is how to colour a marshmallow:

First, open your bag of marshmallows.  You'll need to eat a few... to.... you know... test... them... ??

Once they have passed the rigorous four (or nine or twelve...) marshmallow test, get out a salad plate.

On the plate put just enough water to cover the bottom of the plate.  If there is too much water your marshmallows will be less vibrant.
Just a bit of water

Next add a few drops of food colouring to the water.  And by "few" I mean 8-12 depending on how intense you want your colour to be.

Grab a piece of parchment paper and lay it on a flat surface.

Now gently roll the marshmallow in the coloured water.

See how it picks up all that awesome colour?

Dont forget to get the ends as well.   Once coloured set on the parchment paper to dry.
Don't forget the ends

Repeat with as many marshmallows as you choose to colour.

Of course, using basic colour mixing methods you can create an array of colours to match just about any decor or theme.

Leave your marshmallows to dry overnight.

To remove them from the parchment the next morning use a gentle hand while lifting or some other the colour may get left behind on the paper.

All that's left is to sit back and feel impressed with yourself... while snacking on a coloured marshmallow ;)
Audrey will be celebrating her third birthday rainbow style and these will be making an appearance. I even got a decent indigo!!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

An open letter about your negativity

Dear You,
Yes, you. This is not a letter to my gentle readers. This is a letter to you- you whom have come at me with your negativity, entitlement and demands. I want to begin by pointing out the obvious. I refer to my gentle readers in almost every single one of my 130 posts; if you find yourself utterly unable to read my blog with a gentle heart then perhaps it simply is not the blog for you.

This letter is, of course, in response to the negativity you feel compelled to vandalize my comment section with.
"What's your excuse this time for not posting in almost a month? -.- Sick of checking this page every single day just to see that you haven't updated it!"

My "excuse"? I have none.  Why? Because, flat out, I do not need one. Let me be clear as day here, I do not owe you, or anyone, a blog post. Moreover, I certainly do not owe you anything on your schedule.
When you feel as though you cannot continue happily in your life without my frugal input, I offer to you a solution that would solve your negativity here. Sign up to follow my blog.  :) Once done each new blog post will be sent directly to your email inbox.  You wont risk missing a post and you wont have the dire inconvenience of "checking this page every single day"

I admit, I am being less than gracious. In my defense, though, I have already been gracious. When these comments appeared on a previous blog post 30 Pearls of Wisdom for my Daughter I responded with all the grace I could muster. I am guessing you were the previous negative comment poster, but, alas, I cannot be sure. The safety of an Anonymous posting leaves me just shy of 100% certain.

There was, as I am sure you noticed, a reply to your comment. One that agrees with you.
"I whole-heartedly agree with you...not even an update to say hey something is going on in my life so I wont be posting for a while--we're all just left hanging..."

So here's the thing, you. Thing is, this is MY blog. Which means when *I* started it I did so with a pretty specific vision. My vision was of a blog where I could project fun, positive outlook, humour and cost savings to the world. There are enough critics, skeptics, and theorists out there. I wanted my writing to be an exercise of personal reflection of all the good going on in my world. Then I wanted to turn personal reflection into light hearted writing.
*I* had decided that my blog would not be a place for me to discuss my personal struggle with heart crushing depression. This would not be a forum onto which I retold of all the medical ails that have alarmed me and puzzled my doctor. This would not be the avenue on which I vent about the trials and exhaustion of holding down three jobs (one full time, two part time), or That Guy also working three jobs (one full time, two part time), balancing my marriage,  two young children, home school, t ball, cooking classes, bible study and volunteer works.

That doesn't mean those things are not happening, because, in fact, every single one of them is.  It means I write with the hope that my gentle readers will understand that blogging is but one facet of my life.  That the very state of depression like mine means that sometimes just the thought of completing a DIY activity is overwhelming, let alone completing it documenting it and blogging about it.  It means that expecting an update for why I'm not blogging is far outside the realm of reasonable.

Of course, if I am to be fair to you (a courtesy you have not extended to me) I must acknowledge that you did not know any of this. You had no way of knowing.  But, you see, that was by design.

So, you, while I thank you for reading Full Time Frugal I hope this post prompts some genuine self reflection and encourages you to step into a lighter, brighter future- free from the tangles of entitlement.

From: Me

Monday, 16 June 2014

12 NON DIY cost effective gifts for kids

NON DIY cost effective gifts

Lately I have been noticing a lot of people asking about cost effective gift ideas.  When they see me about to contribute a gift idea I am quickly told "I'm not the crafty type" and I am shut down.
Oh, but dear and gentle readers, I am so much more than just a "crafty type".  I am deeply, unwaveringly  cheap.  And there are many times my craft ideas are just not cutting it or I have over committed my time in a given week and I am in a position where I have to give UN- DIY, inexpensive gifts.
Yet I never want a gift to "look" inexpensive.
So here is a short list of a few inexpensive gifts I have given that are DIY free:

1. Beach ball (two in a package for $1.50 at the dollar store- 75c each), flip flops ($1) and beach towel ($5) =Beach themed gift for $6.75

2. Cowboy hat ($1), bandanna ($1), sheriffs badge ($2), clip on spurs ($2), length of rope for a lasso ($1) = Cowboy themed gift for $7

3. Magnifying glass ($1), tweezers ($1), small net or butterfly net ($1), clear glass containers (empty/clean baby food jar, jam jar or best is empty Ferraro Roche container) ($0) small pad of paper ($1) pencil (25c) and some free printable bug reference cards ($0) = Bug Discovery Gift for $4.25

4. Car/truck/construction themed book ($3-5 at our local book outlet), toy car or truck ($5 at Toys R Us) = Car themed gift starting at $8

5. Mixing bowl ($1), cupcake liners ($1), cookie cutters (69c each, x2 $1.38), whisk ($1), wooden spoon (33c) cake/cookie mix ($1), sprinkles ($1), ready to use icing ($1), cute timer ($1) = cooking themed gift for $8.71

6. Box of baking soda ($1), safety goggles ($1), spray bottle ($1) small container of vinegar ($1) craft sticks ($1), flash light ($1), food colouring ($1.50), balloons ($1), note pad ($1), pencil (25c), ruler ($1), free printable science experiment note cards ($0) = Science exploration gift for $10.75

7. Fort Kit = $8

8. Flower/garden themed story book ($3-5 from book outlet) and small potted plant ($3-5) = Flower themed gift from $6

9. Canvas ($1), paintbrushes ($1), paint pallet ($1), artist smock ($2), paints (small paint pot collection $2), sketchbook ($1), colouring pencils ($1)  = Artist kit for $9

10. Shoe box filled with ten Hot Wheels cars ($1 each) = Hot Wheels gift for $10

11. Puzzle ($7- $12) and Puzzle Saver ($1 from Dollar Tree) = Puzzle gift starting at $8

12. Childs gardening gloves ($2), three seed packets (3/$1), childs gardening tools ($3), terra cotta planter ($1.25) = gardening themed gift for $7.25

Hopefully you can find inspiration in the above list, or it helped to get your creative juices flowing.
With gifts like these you will be able to send your child to all the birthday parties they get invited to!

As a post script, I also wanted to give an awesome "shout out" to Rachel.
For Rachels ninth birthday she decided to have a cooking party. That Guy went to her house and, with her and her guests, prepared a birthday meal of hamburger sliders. In one step her birthday included food, entertainment and cake.   Rachel and her mom got creative with the guest favours and each girl took home a cooking apron they had decorated themselves.  It was a fun filled day with a bit of creative (and cost effective) flair.
One happy nine year old with a
pretty awesome apron!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Last minute Fathers Day gift from child

Good morning, Gentle Readers.  Guess what day Sunday is? Yup, Fathers Day!! Came as a pretty big shock to me too yesterday.  So I needed a quick, easy, and of course frugal craft gift for my daycare kids to make for the father figures in their lives.

When I was in dollar tree and saw a package of three white handkerchiefs for $1.25 the proverbial light bulb went on in my head.   I knew I had Crayola fabric markers at home.  This craft would be easy peasy lemon squeezy and totally adorable.

Out came the fabric markers and the handkerchiefs and I let their little imaginations run wild.
My sweet Audrey

For the children too young to wield a marker, I traced their hands for them onto the fabric.

After each one was completed I had to iron the reverse side for four minutes to heat set the ink.
Four minutes each adds up to a long time.
Ironing turned out to be my nap time activity.

Look how adorably and perfectly unique they are!

And all for 42 cents each.  That's a bargain even to me. ;)