Monday, April 30, 2012

sparkly squishies

Summer is rapidly approaching.  We live in a local that registers temperatures well over 100 daily in the summer months, and sickly enough we are already hitting those gawdawful numbers.  Its going to suck a ton come May ... I don't even want to think about June or *shudder* July yet.

Combined with the ungodly temperatures is the simple fact that I will also have the oldest minion home all day too.  Bored.  And it is even too hot for him to go outside for more than a few minutes at a time.  The need to find ways to fill these hours combined with the fact that the Meatball has had some issues with school this year I decided to do "summer school" with the kiddos this year.  Usually I am too burned out from my own teaching-school-year to really consider this, but not having taught for the entirety of the last school year for the first time in a while makes me feel much more charged about this prospect.

For three months this year, I will be a homeschool mom.

So whilst planning how I am going to do this without a blatant mutiny on the part of the minions I realized that I would need to make this a lot of fun too -- but that I would be able to do fun stuff I could never tackle as a teacher of 30 children.

So while excitedly planning some stuff (I will share later) that Meatball and I will be working on this summer I realized that I will have to entertain the Beans or we will get a whole lotta nuthin' done.  Cue the mad Pintercrack search for fun toddler/baby toys, tasks and games.

Holy shmoly, there is a lot!

First on the list to make, because it was cheap and I had some of it on hand already, was what we are very seriously referring to as the Squishy Sparklies.  The original intent of these DIY item was to inspire pre-writing skills in preschoolers.  Obviously at one the Beans is younger than that so my intended use is different.

Original idea was pinned from here (a place I think I will be referencing a lot! Awesome site!) and the complex instructions that not even I could mess up are as follows ...


  • 2 bottles dollar store hair gel
  • 2 plastic sandwich size bags per Squishy
  • 1 gallon size plastic bag per Squishy
  • glitter
  • food coloring


1. Squeeze a less than precise amount of hair gel into one sandwich bag.  I didn't measure it, just squirted enough in there so that the baggie would feel gooey when sealed.

2. Add some food coloring and glitter.  I had to adjust amounts a few times with this until I had the effect I wanted.

3. Really important step -- seal the baggie!

4. Squish the Squishy until its mixed up, then double and triple bag that suckah!

even I found this satisfying
triple bag that bad boy
I put each baggie in a second sandwich bag then inside of a gallon bag.  I did this because I am not using it as a pre-writing tool yet, someday we will.  I know that there is a good chance the Beans will figure out how to open the bags, and if he has to do it three times prior to actually getting to the gooey stuff I stand a chance at circumventing most of the mess.  These are only given to the Beans when he is in his highchair with me at the table or in the Gulag while I am there with him.  Only a moron would give a child food coloring and glitter laced semi-liquids and hope for the best.

Yeah, I totally fear that last statement will be quoted in a future post accompanied by a really awesome picture of my baby looking like a sparkly Smurf with a mohawk.

green with green food coloring

blue with blue

yellow food coloring and copper glitter

red food coloring and rainbow glitter

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

daddy's juice

add facial hair ... and I have never
seen my husband in a bow tie
Everyone needs a little special in their life.

Sometimes you just need to hear how important you are to someone, a small token of affection, a gentle reminder that you are special.

Or maybe you need a special beer mug all of your own.

Well the beer mug is what my husband got for his birthday, from me and the minions.  And of course, we did it on the cheap -- not because daddy-o doesn't deserve better but because he ain't Daddy Warbucks (though he has about the same amount of hair).

This project involved the Meatball, me, a dollar store beer mug, failure and then success.

Start off with the mug, bought for $1.

Aiming for a $20 maximum total cost I also grabbed up $1 roll of contact paper to use as a stencil.  Total project cost thus far = $2 plus tax.  Doing good, $18 under budget so far.

Went to Hobby Lobby and looked at my options for glass etching.  Hand held dremel like machines that scream danger and failure at me from within the packaging?  Naw, don't think so.  Etching cream bottle that I apply with a popsicle stick for $9.99?  Sounds good ... oh but wait ... here is a can of spray paint that looks like etched glass and is only $7.99!  With my 40% off coupon this is a good deal!

Feeling pretty good about meself I take the spray paint version figuring it will work just as well and now the Meatball can totally do this on his own, I just set up.  Sweet, right?

Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!

Now the project is at roughly $7 in cost, and as I am still wanting to purchase a six pack of a decent beer (not the economical stuff we usually get) to give with it I am thinking I will be right around that $20 goal.

 I used my Cricut machine to make my stencil, it says "daddy's juice" and has a surfboard on it.  All were from the Going to the Beach cartridge and chosen by the Meatball.

Got the stencil on there for him straight and realized that since it is spray pain we gotta cover the whole thing except for the letters, so we wrap it up good and tight.  Then spray, dry, remove stencil.  All is going well.

But the glass smells funny, duh.  Like spray paint.  Double duh.  Well who wants to drink that?!  So I wash it by hand.  I had accepted this would never be a dishwasher mug anyway, but big deal.  Gently washing it after it has been dry for more than 24 full hours and ... well crap.  Half the letters are gone.  That whole schpeal on the bottle about how its durable is now officially bullshat.

Back to the drawing board, the boys and I fly back to the store, purchase that $9.99 bottle of etching cream that is now sitting on the shelf laughing at me.  Scrub the mug clean, re-make and apply the stencil.

Put gloves on the Meatball and explain how etching cream works so he is appropriately scared and cautious.

He applies cream with me hovering like a vulture.  Wait as long as the directions state, rinse in a bucket of water.

Remove stencil while holding our breath ...


Stick the bad boy in the dishwasher because 1.) I can! and 2.) It stinks like etching cream which is much worse than spray paint.  Once clean and dry put it in the freezer so it is chilled and the new design is hidden.

Go buy beer, end up over the $20 budget completely ... but we do have a very successful present that was very much appreciated.  Win!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

sing with me: silver balls, silver balls ...

In the never ending quest to save the money I have become a bit obsessed with making my own versions of things when and where I can.  In order to do this I have discovered that the "faux" item needs to meet these three conditions:

1.) Something we use often.

2.) Something I can make for substantially cheaper than the bought-version

3.) Something that does not take an enormous amount of time/effort/skill or require me to purchase strange products over the internet that put my on a special FBI list somewhere.  I do not need to be in their database for dish soap, thankyouverymuch!

If we don't go through it regularly or if I can't make it for a heckovalot less than the store version I don't think it is worth my time.  Time is money, if I am only saving a penny or two, forget it.  I may call this the One Cheap Bitch series, but even cheap bitches have standards y'all!

So remember my Ghetto Drier Sheets?  Well they met all three of the critical conditions for OCB-worthiness, and they were working great.  But -- there is always a but isn't there? -- the washcloths I used were bulky and I felt like I was wasting the fabric softener solution a bit.  Not wanting to cost me more money I asked Meatball if he had shirts he had outgrown because his closet is reaching epic crapalanche proportions (that is on my to-do-list).  He had like 8 undershirts that were short enough when on that they revealed his belly button so they were quite perfect.

each shirt made 16 sheets
Now with all those shirts I had a butt ton of "drier sheets."  The only flaw in the drier sheet recipe is that there is nothing to reduce static at all.  This meant as a family we all felt a bit like human Tesla coils walking around all the time.  A quick but desperate google search yielded this valuable gem of cheapo goodness: aluminum foil balls tossed in the drier reduce static cling.  Word!

So here is the new and improved (and oh so effective!) drier set up!

I have two Ghetto Drier Sheet containers because one if for the ones that are "new" and the other is where the used ones go.  This way they are rotated.  Then the little basket is there to hold the drier balls.  I found that if I toss two in at a time it really illuminates the static for all of us, except my husband who apparently is just a human lightening rod who drags his feet like Igor.  I don't know if the size of the ball matters, I just made them golf ball sized and it is working.

Yes, I am having a hard time not making immature ballz jokes here.  Give me credit for hanging in there as long as I have.

Figuring out the cost here:
"drier sheet" shirts (owned and outgrown) ... no real cost
fabric softener (bottle previously purchased) ... $1
aluminum foil (also previously purchased, teacher stash) ... $1
three containers to hold it all, from the teacher stash ... no real cost
rug and towel to make it clean and pretty (previously purchased) ... no real cost

I consider things I already own, but can re-purpose as being "no cost" to me because I didn't have to buy them for this.  Yes, the shirts and containers cost me something originally, but there were not being used anymore so by breathing new life into them I maintained their use without incurring extra costs.  Score!  The aluminum foil and fabric softener at the dollar store are plenty good enough for this project, so it would have run me $2 had I not had them already.  It was free to me ultimately!  Hot dayum, I like free!

So Ghetto Drier Sheets, Silver Ballz and now I call this part of the OCB series a success!  Next up to share is homemade citrus cleaner!

Monday, April 23, 2012

a boy project

You brought a permanent marker into a
bathroom, chose to commit an act of
vandalism ... and this is what you write?!
So I had this horrible 48 hour Death Bug.  I'll spare you the details, but I assure you it was most awful.

I was finally feeling almost humanoid by Sunday so the husband came up with a most reasonable thing to ask of a person who was weak and needed nearly instant bathroom access.

Let's go to the home improvement mega store!

Yes, because with 10,000 square miles of stuff I can barely identify that makes him froth at the mouth and only one bathroom that happens to be in the farthest corner if the kingdom this sounds totally successful.

I managed to survive without passing out, loosing my patience, or committing a public act of humiliation worthy of moving to a new city, but I did take note of the utterly stupid vandalism on one of my 6 mile treks to the bathroom.

Anyhoo ... the Meatball and Cap'n need a new "boy project" (sold the last one) so they decided to build Meatball's loft bed we've been talking about forever.  Since I am not allowed to use power tools (I only earned hammer privileges recently because I hung pictures without damaging the structural integrity of the house while the husband was at work and proved I could do it) I was kind of on par with the ten year old.

In other words, I held shit steady and fetched tools.  Oh yeah!

Once the structural stuff is all fin-ee-toe then it becomes my project more or less, because in true Domestic Rocket Family fashion this isn't just a loft bed.

Its a house.

Well, a shack.

A surf shack.  Meatball loves surf related things, so the top of the loft bed is the bed, the lower half will be an enclosed shack where he will have his desk and bookshelves.  I get to shanty the place up because I have a gift for taking new stuff and making it look old and crappy.

That did not sound as positive as I meant it to ... lets try that again ... I have practiced the crafty art of distressing things so that they maintain structural strength yet possess all the character and authenticity of older, worn items.  Yeah, that sounded better.

In an effort to be green and save on moolah we are re purposing as much of the Meatball's old bed as we can. My husband does not understand the art of blogging as I so clearly *ahem* do, so he doesn't get the absolute critical importance of a before picture, so by the time I had finished feeding the Beans and came back to take a before picture of the room they had the bed dismantled already, so I can't show you an exact picture.  I found this online though, and while Meatball would sooner take needles to his eyes than have the bedding pictured, this is an accurate rendering of the bed frame.

I do have pictures of his actual bed and his room, but I can't find them.  Will update if/when I do.  Otherwise, here is what we have so far.  The beam that goes across with the stickers on it is from the original bed.
They tried to leave the hats up there while working.  

Some structural supports and the desk has been moved in

We had this desk from Ikea already. It has a top with
shelves we are hoping to reuse in there somehow.

The ladder, a little level, a drill, and a can of tea

Close up of the stickers from a store on Maui called Tropix
(love the place!)

More pictures will follow as the project continues ...

Monday, April 16, 2012

when deal-getting goes wrong

The problem I have with couponing and other deal-getting-behavior is that I tend to do it a bit stupidly.  Like I have a coupon for buy five get one free and I don't need one, much less six, of the product anyway.  But I get the thrill of feeling momentarily like I might be doing it right so I get them anyway then wind up with six things I neither want, nor need, and less money.  Fail.

But sometimes you buy crap with the best of intentions.  

For Christmas the husband and I bought the Beans one of those foam floor alphabet mat sets.  He was starting to play independently and we had set up the Gulag (play yard) in the living room and I wanted something a bit soft on the floor of it because the child is convinced he is the human version of a pinball.  The big bullseye store had these for like $12 and another company (one that I had actually heard of) for $25.  We made the financial decision that the $12 ones looked good and at half the price who could really argue even if they were on clearance and from a company we'd never heard of.  Ever the broke optimists we bought them.

 Bad move.

The letters didn't really fit in the squares, so if you even thought about moving the foam square, the letter would spontaneously jumped out like a kernel in a popcorn maker.  If you tried to move them you had a foam alphabet soup on your floor and a really frustrated me on your hands.  So I resorted to this ...

Yes, I did that 26 times.  And no, one pass of the packing tape was not enough.  Most letters needed a tape X and some needed more of an asterisk to hold the letters in place.

Then the little perforated edges didn't fit together nicely, and the color "pattern" wasn't a pattern but actually changed part way through and that drives my OCDishness nuts.  (Check out the pattern from A to E then note what happens E through L.  WTF?)

I was pretty impressed at my self control because I wanted to spell out some special non-kidpropriate stuff by the time I was finally getting the damn things together.

And of course, the Beans wanted to take them apart and seemed to instantly know how to do it, tape or no tape.  And then he somehow hog tied himself with packing tape. This was the one time he played ON it and not WITH it.

And I was re-fitting them together daily if not more so the human bouncy ball didn't trip and kill himself.

So remember the 100 Things Challenge?  Guess what 52-pieces-of-pain-in-the-ass-crap is going in there?  Oh yeah.  

Lesson learned, if there are like 45 of them on sale and on clearance the product might just suck.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

baby toys, round one

So after the massive and pathetic pity party I threw myself the other day I have been trying to knock the sorry-for-myself crap off.  I have always been a fixer and a do-er, so this mopey stuff just isn't me.

Sometimes ya gotta let yourself wallow a bit, just a bit.  I think finances can be something that truly overwhelms you if you let it.  I feel like I do it all wrong sometimes in terms of how I allocate budget monies for food especially.  I don't know how these lunatics can supposedly get $100 worth of groceries for $5.37 because they coupon the shit out of their purchases.  Reality is, I think, that those people are merely stocking the crapity crap up and merely visit their bunker house for the zombie apocalypse when they grocery shop.  I could be wrong, but it makes me feel better for the time being, so its the plan we are going with.

We did have a birthday party for the Beans, and I managed to do it on the cheap.  I am also making him some "toys" I found on Pintercrack ... but in true me-fashion it ain't goin' like I planned ... for example DIY plastic bottle bowling pins that I saw on another blog.  So she has these beautiful bottles that look all pretty like this ...

And me?

Yeah, I so nailed it.

So I will be trying that again, soonish.