Friday, November 30, 2012

Homemade Gifts - Quiet Pages Counting Book

This idea came off of pinterest somewhere, but has been very customized by me. I think quiet books are awesome, but the thought of creating page after page and putting it into one big book is intimidating (i.e. takes too long). I've opted to do Quiet Pages. Same concept as a quiet book, but in individual page format. Plus if you have multiple kids they can each have a page instead of one person having the book.

stiff felt cut to 8 X 12
small ribbon
wider ribbon
twill tape (or wide ribbon would do)
assortment of beads
number beads
Counting Page in progress - notice marks 1" apart for ribbons

Toddler Tested - Mother Approved

Counting Quiet Page

Counting Quiet Page

Most of my beads came from my daughter's discarded collection (the garage sale box) so my cost was minimal.

I won't make a detailed tutorial, but I will say that super glue isn't a good idea. I started out gluing the ribbon down to keep it in place while I sewed, but ended up just hand placing each ribbon as I got to it (worked much better and didn't leave super glue residue on my sewing machine).

The title on the front is in heat transfer vinyl. There are some advantages to having your own online business!
Love the Red Number Beads

Monday, November 26, 2012

Homemade Gifts - Funny Faces Quiet Page

Spoiler alert: If I drew your name for Christmas in the sibling exchange stop reading now!

This is my favorite quiet page of all time (at the moment). In the process of making it every kid in the house ended up playing with it. The boy hair became a beard, a mustache, a crown, etc. The yellow center for the flowers became buttons, eyes, earrings, etc.

I contemplated sewing some pieces together like the yellow center onto the flower, but didn't. Rather than telling the kid what the piece was intended for it's fun to see how they interpret or use the pieces.

Warning: not for small kids who put everything in their mouths!
Funny Face Quiet Page

Roll to Store Funny Face Quiet Page

Funny Face Quiet Page ready to go in ziplock

Funny Face 2 Quiet Page

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inspirational Screen Saver

I recently fell in love with all those cool printables on the internet. Only problem is - I haven't printed a single one of them. And if I did get around to printing them (professionally or using all my color ink to do so) where would I put them. I'd have to get frames and make holes in the wall...... (excuses, excuses, excuses).

Enter: THE INSPIRATIONAL SCREEN SAVER. I made a folder in my picture files just for my inspirational printable downloads and I set it as my screen saver! LOVE IT!

So here are some links to my favorite "screen saver" printables:

It Works for Bobbi Free Printables

 I liked the door so much it is currently my desktop background.

A Lifetime of Wisdom  tons of inspirational images no necessarily printable
change your heart

And Proclamation pictures blogspot

Next project - go through my Quotes Board on Pinterest and add to my screen saver!

HINT - Pinning your pics to a pinterest board will help you find them again if you want to find the source.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Balloon Pinatas

For my daughter's birthday party I thought it would be fun to fill a balloon with candy for each kid.  Kind of a mini-pinata.  Plus we were doing a princess party and someone online had the idea to do it and say that the candy was under a spell and they had to break the spell (and the balloon) to get their candy.  Cheesy, but it fit the theme.  After getting candy and trying to stuff it into an deflated balloon, I realized there had to be a better way.  Back to the internet!  This is what worked for me:

1. Get a tube.  The bigger the more candy you can put it, but you have to be able to stretch a balloon across one end.  What I found was a vacuum attachment tube. 

2. Get candy.  Make sure it fits in your tube.  You can also get confetti, but since I didn't want confetti all over my house, I didn't.

3. Get balloons.  The big kind.

4. Stretch the balloon over one end of the tube.  Fill the tube with candy and confetti, and blow up the balloon using the tube.  So you have your lips, tube filled with candy, and then the balloon.  (I did wash out my vacuum tube before doing this!)  When the balloon gets pretty big the neck of the balloon expands enough that you can tilt the tube down and all the candy falls into the balloon.  Then you just take the balloon off, let air out till it's the right size, and tie it.

The kids had a great time with it, especially since they were 4 year olds and actually had a bit of a challenge popping their balloons.  Great fun and faster than the papier mache pinata I made for the last birthday party!  give it a try just for fun!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The End of Bathroom Towel Wars

Two Towel Rods = War
 When we moved into our house we were a family of 4. The builder graciously? gave us one towel rod in each bathroom which we soon upgraded to two towel rods in each bathroom. Now we are a family of 7 and everyone seems to want a dry towel after their bath (recycling anyone? - just kidding I prefer my own towel too).

It seemed that the kids bathroom had a chronic condition called towel-apathy. The towels always wound up on the floor looking very pathetic or when they were hung up the bathroom looked like a laundry mat with multiple towels on the same rod and towels over the shower rod too.
Six Towel Hooks Plus Rod = No Towels on the Floor?
This morning with my miniature assistant I put up this nifty towel hook contraption courtesy of Walmart clearance (otherwise I would have been making it and it would have taken longer). I opted to leave the lower rod in hopes of teaching our children to use a hand towel when they wash their hands. Besides, you can never have too many towel rods in this house.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Easy Easel

I was in need of an easel for my crafty business. So I came up with this and I'm sharing it with you!!

5" piece of 2x4
6" piece of 5/16" dowel
two 2-3" pieces of 5/16" dowel

Use a 5/16" drill bit to make partial depth holes. Insert dowels and presto easel!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Timez Attack

Joseph has needed a little extra work with memorizing multiplication (not surprising, since we skipped second grade).  I bought MathBlasters for him - but what he really enjoys is a freeby called Timez Attack.

It's make by Big Brainz, ( and has a free version, as well as a couple of levels of paid versions with extra stuff.  So far the free version has been enough to keep Joseph fairly happy when I tell him to go practice math!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Snowflake Pancakes

This morning we got our first real snow of the season.  To celebrate, I make snowflake pancakes for breakfast.  They really didn't take much extra work, and the kids thought it was a party!

To make pancakes:

Use your favorite pancake recipe.  Mix it until it has no large lumps left.  Put the mixture in a squeeze bottle (these can be purchased for around $1.00 each).  Squeeze a circle on your griddle, then six or eight small lines around the perimeter.  Add a dot more batter to the end of each line.   The ones pictured turned out looking more like suns, but you can be as creative as you like!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dating on a Dime part 2 - TP Bowling

TP Bowling Creations
Action Shot!
 Friday night was another dating on a dime adventure. Good thing we planned for a home date since we had sick kids.

So bowling digressed to kicking and throwing (dollar store rubber ball) and stacking was just as fun as knocking down. We even named our creations. We created the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and lady with a skirt.

The grand finale was a spontaneous indoor snowball fight which ended out of concern for our financial investment (the TP was starting to come unraveled).

This would also be a fun family activity. Maybe we'll do that this week. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2 x 4 Kids Turkey Craft

I recently hosted a craft day to gather opinions about the crafts I'm preparing for a Fall Craft Show. I had a kid craft kit that is so much fun I thought I'd share. The tutorial or instructions for the 2 x 4 Turkey Craft are on my craft blog

Since you don't have the advantage of buying a kit from me (I'm not shipping 2x4s folks), you will need:

a square piece of 2x4
the end of a 5 gallon paint stick (for the turkey neck and head)
5 wide popsicle sticks (buy the colored ones if you can find them)
2 wiggly eyes
and a little creativity to create the beak and waddle (or contact me and I can ship you some vinyl beaks for cheap).

Stuff not included in my kit but needed:
brown paint and paint brush
glue (school glue works fine)
other paint colors if your popsicle sticks are not colored

My crafty email is southpawcrafts at gmail. I'd be happy to make your custom beaks. I do other vinyl-y things too :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sight Words and Spelling at Dinner

Popcorn Sight Words

Super Secret Spelling List - because it's under cover! Hee hee!
Here at the South house the kitchen table truly is the center of the home. It's probably even pretty close to the literal center of the home too. We eat there, we talk there, we pray there, we do homework there, we craft there, and we eat some more (my 3rd grader would be impressed with my runon sentence).

Since the table is so frequently used I bought some fairly thick plastic (2 yards from JoAnn's using a coupon of course) to protect the table. I trimmed the edges to match the oval shape and even used painters tape (another household staple) to tape the "tablecloth" in place. We love this table and it is my Grandma's table that her family loved and used for years. We want it to have a long life in our family too.

I was recently struggling to remember to quiz my beginning reader on his sight words. The brilliant thought came to me (after some prayer and meditation) to put the sight words under the "tablecloth." Now before and during every meal I ask him to read the words closest too him. For the older kids I started asking them to put their spelling word list under the plastic. I think it is helping on the reading front and this week's spelling tests will show whether or not it's helping with spelling too.

Happy Birthday MOM!!!

Happy Birthday wishes to the world's best mother! Not only is she the mother of the five frugal sisters, she is also the mother of the five brothers of the five frugal sisters (thus the 7 frugal sisters with the potential for more :).

Mom and Dad as newlyweds
Love ya lots!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hemming Jeans = pocket money

Lately several people have asked me to do minor alterations or mending for them. It has been a learning experience. I knew how to hem things, but I have to admit this was my first time hemming a lined pair of women's dress slacks. It wasn't hard, just had multiple layers.

The jeans were a different story. I wanted to keep the decorative edging, but I didn't really want to recreate it. Thanks to google and the magic of the internet I found this tutorial. I had to do it a little differently (take in a small bit of the leg so the cuff width would match the leg width and take out the extra fabric because there was quite a bit of it. But I think it looks great and will work well.

Maybe next time someone asks me if I can line their lace sleeves I'll be brave enough to figure that one out too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

1st Grade Alphabetizing - Vertical ABCs

Another mother shared this tip with me so I'm sharing it with you - kids can learn to alphabetize easier with a vertical ABC chart.

I'm struggling with 1st grade homework this year. Mr. Z. is perfectly normal but isn't the strong reader that his older siblings were in 1st grade which means I have to read the instructions to him and sit down and do it with him. At least he gets 1 on 1 time with me that way.

I used an old set of preschool flashcards and taped them onto the wall (painters tape - a staple around my house). Then I wrote out each of his spelling words and had him place them next to the corresponding letter. Then all that's left is to write the list in his homework notebook. Success!!! (No the prettiest home decor, but this is a working house not a showroom.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spray Paint Salvage

This morning I was going to spray clear gloss sealer on some of my crafts and discovered that my can was still half full, but nothing was coming out. The Fantastic Father of the Frugal Five saved the day with his suggestion of unclogging with a bobby pin, but then I realized I could test whether the can was clogged or the lid had the clog by switching out the lid!!! The picture above shows my clear sealer can with the blue (chair color) spray lid on it. Presto it worked. (And now I'm too lazy to clear out the clear lid.)  Happy spraying to me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dating on a Dime - Table Tennis/Ping Pong

Behold, the table (it might have been more exciting if we had left dinner on the table)!

The ping pong master in action. He beat me, but we didn't keep score we just had fun.

The Souths are trying hard to do more "dating" and sometimes that means more creativity is required. Thursday night after the kids were in bed we had our table tennis/ping pong date. I wonder what my grandmother would think about us using her table this way, but it worked wonderfully. The salvaged 2x4s were the net. Kids plastic plates were the paddles and we already had ping pong balls. Total expense for the night $0 and more fun than I've had in a long time!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Refried Beans from Scratch

I love tacos, and I love homemade refried beans even better.  This stuff is so good you'll be licking your fingers just like it's cookie dough.  I make a huge batch all at once, then freeze it in small portions.  Then on Taco Tuesday, I just have to make sure I have enough fresh ingredients like tomatoes, lettuce, cheese on hand, pull out the refried beans and the taco meat from the freezer, and dinner is done.  Love this stuff!
Homemade Refried Beans
  • 4 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 3 T butter or other fat
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 t. cumin
  • 2 t paprika
  • 2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • Bean juice, milk or water as needed
Prepare the dry beans by soaking overnight, rinsing, and cooking next day until tender.  Saute the onions in the fat, then add garlic for 1-2 more minutes. Add beans and extra liquid if needed.  Stir in seasonings.  Use a blender or food processor to puree.  Store in serving size portions in the freezer for up to several months.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Salvaging Old Paint

I was attempting to use some old paint for a craft, but it had lots of lumps and another can had rust dripping into my paint. I didn't have any cheesecloth to strain it with, but I discovered that two layers of tulle fastened to an old plastic container (yogurt container) with a rubber band works nicely. You could probably use another loose weave fabric as well.

And I happily tinted half of my salvaged paint using a little bottle of craft paint.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Microwave Playdough!

We're having a playdough playdate with small friends tomorrow. . . and we're out of playdough.  Except one small tub of peppermint candy cane playdough from last Christmas.  Check out this amazing recipe that you cook in the MICROWAVE in just a couple of minutes, and don't have to labor over a hot stove for.  Each kid picked their color and made their own personal playdough.  To add an extra element of educational fun: as you wait for extra batches to cook in the microwave, let the kids feel all the playdough balls and decide which is hottest, which is coolest.  What they smell like.  Why they smell like that.  How the colors mix to make new colors, and how the heat in the microwave makes the colors more vibrant.  Science geekiness all around.  One more awesome frugal feature to this recipe: you can substitute lemon juice or vinegar for the pricey cream of tartar!  The recipe called for 1 T. cream of tartar, but not having any and not wanting to buy any, I found online that you can substitute lemon juice or vinegar at three times the amount of tarter called for. Adds a nice citrus scent. Here's the fantastic recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp oil
1 cup water

Stir in plastic bowl and place in microwave for up to five minutes, stirring at least once.  My microwave it took about 3 minutes total.  

Original recipe (before lemon juice addition) from

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Recycle Bin Saga Continues

Remember how I made a nifty recycle sign out of cardstock and it only lasted a few minutes before Miss Baby picked it off? Then I made a recycle sign out of vinyl and congratulated myself on a job well done? Well, that was July and this is September and Miss Baby has been diligently practicing her fine motor skills. She loves to scribble on anything and recently learned the joy of picking stickers off of items in Hobby Lobby (no kidding).

So this week in Baby VS Vinyl Recycle Sign, Baby scored 2 out of 3 recycle signs. (See picture above for baby in action.)

Here's Miss Baby crying over her interrupted artwork. Actually she was mad I took her binky away.

Now it's Mom and the Recycling Sign VS Baby. Plan C - spray paint.

 Step 1 - cut recycling sign out of Contact Paper (only 12 cents per foot versus vinyl at almost a dollar a foot). Don't you love the stripes? Not me.
 Step 2 - Cover garbage can.
 Step 3 - Spray.
Step 4 - Remove everything and admire your artwork. Admit that you didn't tape things down quite well enough and will have to use a little paint remover after things dry. And wonder why you can't upload right-side-up photos into blogger. Hmmm.

Step 5 - Wonder how long before Miss Baby defeats Plan C. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zaycon Foods - bulk chicken sale

Jannette introduced me to a bulk food company that specializes in fresh meats: Zaycon Foods.

Our family has enjoyed the products she has shared with us: huge hot dogs, really great brat sausages, and 93% lean ground beef.  So I decided to make my first venture into using their company.  Zaycon only sells in bulk (you buy a case at a time), and they only sell fresh (their products are not frozen; they come from the farm to you via refrigerated truck).  You get an email announcing that they have a certain item available, and when you order, you choose a specific pick-up location, and there is a set window of time to come and get your product.  

So tonight I made my first order.  Currently (through the first week of October in most places), they are selling boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.69 a pound in a 40 lb case (that's $67.60 plus tax; my order here in UT was $69.63 with tax). 

Because they come as whole breasts in a huge case, I'll obviously have to spend some time trimming and storing the meat in smaller quantities.  I plan to bottle some and freeze some.  My last attempt at a 40 lb case of chicken was $1.59 a pound from a grocery store and very poor quality, but I have been impressed with the Zaycon products I have tried, and chicken is apparently their trademark product.  So here I go!  I'll let you all know how my experience is.

In the meantime, if you're curious, you can check Zaycon Foods out at  For my curiousity, I checked other regions in the country to see if they were selling this product other places besides Utah.  Mom, they have a chicken "event" in Hixson, TN, on Sat. Oct. 20.  Carol, they have one in Columbus, OH (and several other Ohio sites, but I wasn't sure what might be close to you).  Marg, they have one in San Antonio (likewise on the other TX sites).  Sorry, Naomi; no chicken for sale in West Virginia right now.

The other interesting thing about this company is they don't advertise.  Instead they offer a referral incentive program, which reminds me of Dad's talks about 'paying the people who make the company run.'  When a new person joins Zaycon Foods, they can list a code for the person who referred them to the company (I listed Jannette, of course).  From then on, anytime that person places and pays for an order, the referring person receives a $1 credit in their Zaycon account that can be used towards their own future purchases.  My referral name (in case any of you are so impressed you sign up immediately without waiting for my report ;-) is BonnieGee, or you can use this link:

Wow!  That's the longest post I've ever written for this or any blog. ;-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Frugal Family Fun

I love that fall is coming on, and we found a way to use it to our advantage for some frugal fun at the park today. Ohio is known as the Buckeye State and for good reason.  We easily found four large buckeye trees at our city park today, all of which have laden the ground around them with beautiful chestnut colored buckeyes.  The Native Americans originally named the nuts buckeyes because of their light-colored center that reminded them of a buck's eye.  

When a wind blows the tree drops any loose hulls to the ground and they usually break right open to reveal one or two buckeye nuts inside.  We found it especially lucky to find a spiny hull that didn't break open upon contact with the ground.  
It was way more fun than an Easter egg hunt I thought.  No prep work involved - a real party put on by Mother Nature.  
If you want to get really frugal with the buckeyes, you can always drill out the center and string them into a necklace with scarlet and gray beads.  Easily sells for $10-15 a string on game days.  I also thought it entertaining that you can buy Christmas garlands made out of beads and buckeyes online for $40! Not bad when we're talking in terms of such low overhead!

And for you Westerners who can only dream of buckeye glory, my boy would have been more than content whiddling away his time collecting acorns, of which there were also tons at the park.  Collect 'em, put 'em in a sensory bin at home, lay them out for the squirrels.  I'll admit I was somewhat sad to see our bags of collected buckeyes quickly disappear when the kids saw a squirrel, threw a nut towards him, and he grabbed it and ran off.  After that the nuts were history - our carefully collected treasures could be found sitting boldly at the base of nearly every tree in the park, waiting for some lazy squirrel to stumble upon them.   Oh well.  I guess my necklace will have to wait for another day!
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