Friday, August 1, 2014

Daisy's Doggie Stew - Homemade Dog Food

Princess Daisy Sparkle

We got a YorkiePoo for Christmas and honestly, I'm obsessed with her.  The whole family is in love with her, but she and I are in a mad pet/owner lover affair.  Daisy and I are the only girls in the house so we hang out a lot.

She LOVES the doggie stew that I make her.  Doggie Stew is what I call this homemade soft food.  She's a small dog so each morning and each evening she get a 1/4 cup.  There is always fresh water and kibble available to her as well.

Here is the recipe for

Daisy's Doggie Stew

Ground Turkey, Spinach and Pumpkin

1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken livers)
1 cup brown rice (or quinoa)
6 cups of water
2 cups (fresh or frozen) mixed vegetables (I prefer California Blend - zucchini, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli)
1 medium apple cored and chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt

Simmer meat, rice,water, apple, rosemary and salt in a large pan (uncovered).  Once the meat is brown and the rice is cooked, add the vegetables and continue to simmer uncovered until the vegetables are soft (but not mushy).

I use a potato masher to break the meat and veg up a bit.  Dogs don't chew their food thoroughly so it's important to break the food down a bit so that they get all the nutrients.

I usually add a little ground egg shell too for a shiny coat.

Drying Egg Shells 
I dry used egg shells in the oven until they are brown and very brittle.  I grind the shells in my coffee/spice grinder.  Store them in a ziploc bag until I need them.  I sprinkle about a tablespoon of shell powder on each batch of doggie stew.

Our dog is small and this recipe makes a fairly large batch, so  I freeze Daisy's Stew in small containers.

It freezes and thaws beautifully!!

In terms of cost, I can make about 2 weeks worth of frozen meals for around $5.

Change the vegetable with the seasons.  In the fall Miss Daisy gets fresh pumpkin and in  the summer she enjoys fresh squash from the garden.  You can cook your pumpkin yourself or use canned.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

DIY - Reusable Party Kit

Readers Of this blog know that i'm a green mama.  I'm all about reduce/reuse/recycle and I think it's great.  I'm also thrifty, so if I can find an easy DIY version of something it makes me VERY happy.

Because the boys typically have in-school birthday parties I was looking for an easy way to go green at school. When I saw this kit I just knew I had to have it!

Shareware reusable dish set
This set is includes place settings for 20.

For $100 ($80 on sale) you get:

20 plates
20 cups
20 bowls
20 each forks, knives and spoons
Carry bag

I ADORE this set but I thought I could do better.

Off to ikea I went.  Here's the set I created:

my DIY reusable birthday dish set

For $38 my set includes:

18 plates
18 cups
18 bowls
18 each forks, spoons, knives
1 tablecloth
20 cloth napkins
Carry bag
Reusable bag for dirty dishes

Because I will only use this kit for kids school birthdays I chose kid-centric colors.

Before you run off to ikea to make your own set, here's what you need to know.

All of the dishes and flatware are in the kids department.

Plates are 6/ $1.99
Cups 6/ $1.99
Utensils 6/ $1.99

Kalas cups, plates, bowls and flatware

Tablecloth pictured is actually a plastic shower curtain.  It's in the textiles department for $4.99 (they have lots of colors and patterns)

Eggegrund Shower curtain / Tablecloth

The cloth napkins are thin white wash clothes.  I paid .49 cent each.

Nackten thin wash cloths / napkins

The carry bag is in the grocery dept for $4.99.  Its called Kylvaska.

Ikea kylvaska bag

The reusable dirty dish bag is just the blue ikea carrier bag.

bag for dirty dishes and linens

Now when it's birthday time all I need to do is grab my birthday bag, order a pizza to be delivered to the school and pick up an ice cream cake.


*  Keep all of the dishes clean and packed back in the bag after the party.
*  Dont forget to pack fresh candles and matches!

* wet a sponge and add a few drops of dish soap.  Carry the sponge in a ziploc bag.  The teacher will LOVE you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Teacher Gift - School Supply Jar

School Supply Jar
 Like Diaper Cakes a few years ago, School Supply cakes are all the rage right now!  (They're all over pinterest)  I'm not a teacher, but I LOVE this idea as an end of the year teacher gift.  Or even a first day of school teacher gift.
Diaper Cake

School Supply Cake
The problem with these gift cakes is that they can get pretty expensive.  PLUS, I feel like they leave too much waste.  Realistically, not a ton a waste, but more than I'm comfortable with.

My idea of a perfect gift is:

* Useful
* NOT wasteful
* Fun
* Hand made
* Not too expensive to make

I set off to Walmart to buy everything I'd need to make a School Supply Cake for my kids teachers.  (School is not out for us until the end of June).  Because it's not "back to school" season school supplies are not on sale.  That means the price of supplies can (and will) add up quickly.  PLUS I discovered that I'd need to buy infrastructure items to hold everything in place, make it stand up properly, etc that are (in my opinion) wasteful.  They'll look good on the finished product but are not really useful.

That's when I decided to use a cracker jar.

Honestly you can fill the jar with just about anything.  I filled mine with:

- 4 packs of  8-count crayons
- 4 dry erase markers
- 4 large erasers
- 4 mini post it notes
- 4 glue sticks
- 4 hand sanitizers
- 1 pack of wet ones
- 6 pencil top erasers
- handful of large rubber bands
- 1 pack of M&M's  

Everything (including stickers to decorate the jar) cost about $30.

Glass Cracker Jar Decorated with Star Stickers

Filled with Glue Sticks, Hand sanitizer rubber bands and more!


We added a candy treat for the teacher

Star Stickers complete the look

 No teacher gift is complete without the most important part!  A thank you note for the teacher from the kid!
Kid Made Thank You Note

Nice Note for the Teacher

Kid Art

 Have a GREAT summer!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mama Oreos - Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I should start this post with a disclaimer.  I'm not an Oreo fan.  Never have been.  (Not even as a little kid).  I don't hate them, they're just not my thing.

Mama-made Sandwich Cookies

My kids, on the other hand, LOVE all things chocolate, all things cookie  and all things Oreo.  When my 6 year old asked for Oeros in his lunch box, I knew I needed a plan.

Have you ever read the label on a bag of Oreos!?  Yuck!

Oreo Label - Yikes!
Let's be real here:  I knew they weren't health food but fully half on the ingredients didn't seem to be real English words.  And so I came up with a compromise.  I'd make mama-Oreo's.

I LOVE to cook and bake but can't stand a recipe that's too precious.  I need a "toss the stuff in a bowl and mix" kind of recipe instead of a "sift this, gently fold that" kind of deal.  I found one and here it is:

Crispy Chocolate Cookie

The Cookie

Crispy Chocolate Cookies
3 dozen

1/2 cup melted butter  (that's 1 stick)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small egg
1/4 cup honey (I use powdered honey)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (heaping)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix everything in a bowl.

Cookie Scoop (optional)

Cookie Balls in the Oven

I like to use a cookie scoop, but you can roll the dough into balls, or scoop it out with a spoon.  Just make sure that your dough balls are evenly sized.  Place dough balls on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Easy right!

Now for the filling:

Vanilla Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  The frosting will be stiff.  Use a mixer to make the job go faster.

Once the cookies are cool, complete your sandwich cookies!


Double Stuff Version

The real test of the recipe is kids.

Cookie Judges Love THEM!
Our 2 judge panel agrees that they're GREAT!

Lunch Box Ready!

These cookies are so easy that I made them this morning to lunch time today!


These cookies freeze BEAUTIFULLY!!  To keep the kids from going into cookie overload, simply stack room temp cookies in a sandwich bag or plastic container and pop into the freezer.  Defrost at room temperature.

Freezer Ready

Both the cookie dough and frosting freeze well.  If you don't have time to bake today, make the dough and freeze in balls.  When you want just a few cookies bake as many frozen cookie balls as you need. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Refashion 101 - Turn Pants Into A Skirt (Basic)

This is a 1 hour project.  Beginning sewers can make this skirt in about 1 hour.  Mid range sewers can make this project in 30-15 minutes.  Advanced sewers can make this project in about 20 minutes.

Note:  for best results, read this tutorial all the way through before you begin this project.

There are a couple of ways to turn an old pair of pants into a skirt and this is the most basic method.  This method assumes that the pant material is stretchy and does not require a slit, or requires an open slit.  Scroll to the bottom for more on slits.
For this project you will need:  
1 pair of pants
straight pins
matching thread
sewing machine
ruler or a straight edge (optional)
contrasting fabric (optional)

For this project I used an old pair of knit pants.  If you're using fabric that wrinkles easily I suggest that you press the pants before you start.  It makes everything easier.

Basic pair of pants

Put on the pants and determine how long you'd like your skirt to be.  Pin the pants approximately 2 inches below the desired length.  You can always make the skirt shorter later. 

Pin the pants at the desired length
I wanted a knee length skirt so I placed a pin a new inches below my knee.

Lay the pants flat

Take off the pants.  Lay them as flat at possible with the pant legs together. 

Cut just below the pin

Cut straight across just below the pin.  (Use a ruler or straight edge if it helps).  I just eyeballed it. 

Next cut along the inseam of the pants.  The inseam if the stitching that runs on the inside of the legs.  Cut up one side of the pants, across the crotch and down the other leg. 

Cut here
  Once you cut the inseam lay the pants out flat - see picture. 

The butt of the pants is on the left.  The zipper is on the right.


Starting just below the zipper, cut the pants into a rectangle (pictured below).  You will only cut a little fabric from the zipper side.

Cut pants into a rectangle.

Turn the skirt inside out and stitch the front and back seams.

No slit (pencil) skirt
To make a slit, don't sew all the way to the bottom of the pants.
Back Slit
Front Slit

Once sewn, turn the skirt on the right side and try it on. 


If you created a slit, fold back the slit fabric and stitch in place.

Hem your skirt to the desired length.

I had some old fabric from a sun dress so I embellished my skirt with stripes.

Old fabric

A Word About Skirt Slits

There are all kinds of slits.  You can easily make a front, back or side open slit in this basic skirt. 

An open slit is the easiest slit to make. 

Open Slit
In later tutorials we will cover how to make kick pleats.

Kick pleat
If you're feeling really adventurous you could even try a contrasting kick pleat.

Contrasting kick pleat

Start with your donation pile.  Think about that pile of clothes that you been meaning to donate to the local charity shop.  Grab a pair or pants from that pile and see if you can't turn them into a cute skirt!