Saturday, October 31, 2009

$6.34 = 7 gifts and an hour of gossip with my mom

I love giving Christmas gifts. It is the best part of the holiday season, aside from the food! However, Mr. Mudpie's family is HUGE. Growing up, all holidays were just me, my sister, mom and dad. That's it. Now, the holidays consist of my family, his mom's family, his dad's family, his dad's extended family and our friends. Sooo, the gift budget is stretched incredibly thin each year. And getting even more scarily thin with the addition of our niece and nephew (and one more on the way!) in the past year.

My solution to this craziness? Homemade gifts! I have 4 teenage girls to buy for this year. Teenage girls are horribly difficult to buy gifts for. I love scarves, and hopefully they will too. So what I did was hit up Hancock Fabrics for their big fleece sale. $3.99/yd! I grabbed 1/3 yard each of 4 different prints that I am hoping the 4 girls will like...... Or at least not completely hate.

How to transform 1/3 yard of fleece into a fabulously inexpensive gift:

I cut each 1/3 yard of fleece in half, the long way. This left me with (2) pieces approximately 6" x 45". I then stitched the 2 pieces together (right sides out) down the middle, and again about 1/2" or so on either side of the first line.

During sewing, the fabrics shifted and moved all over the place, resulting in them not matching up exactly on the sides. No problem! Just trim those bad boys until they are about even on the long sides. They don't have to be perfect; you just don't want one layer to be a lot wider than the other layer.

Now comes the fun part! (I handed this off to my mom and we worked assembly line style) Cut little slits along both sides of the scarf about 1/2" apart. Just make sure not to cut through your stiched lines. In case you are like me and are wondering how many cuts that is.....

45" long scarf x cut every 1/2" x 2 sides = around 180 cuts per scarf (Thanks Mom!)

Once you finish that, you have one cute little inexpensive gift! The tater tot of course wanted in on the action, so she and little man each got a new scarf as well. And sssshhhh, don't tell her.... her American Girl doll, Elizabeth, is getting a matching one for Christmas! I made it from one of the little scraps left from trimming the sides. It took all of 30 seconds to cut a rectangle and add some fringe!

Project cost: $6.34 & some cheesecake to bribe my mom to help me
4 adult scarves
2 child scarves
1 doll scarf

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas Fun for the Moms!

I'm sure most moms know the not-so-fun and rarely spoken aloud part of Christmas morning: you know everything that is under the tree and rarely are there any suprises. Now, I realize just how blessed I am to have healthy children, be able to pay the bills, etc. But sometimes, you just want to feel like a kid on Christmas morning!

Well, this year I will! Becky and I decided this year to do a Stocking Exchange. I am super excited about this! Being that we are what I like to refer to as "frugalistas" (aka. Cheap), we have set some pretty ridiculous rules.

1. The stocking must be homemade and from items already in our sewing/crafting stashes.
2. No more than $5 can be spent
3. At least one item must be purchased from Goodwill (a frugalista favorite)
4. Must include at least 1 candy/food item (because we love to eat!)

Some people might look at that $5 limit and say, "forget it, it's not going to work". But if you know either Becky or I, you know that we will most likely both have trouble fitting all of our loot into the stocking! I'm envisioning us exchanging these monstrous sized stockings filled with all kinds of crazy goodness that only we would love.

Since Becky reads this blog (and I think she might be the only one who does!), I obviously can't post my plans on here until after Christmas. But in case anyone is wondering what we could possibly come up with on such fierce restrictions, be sure to check back after Christmas!

I'm off to START Halloween costumes for the kids. Since we need them for tomorrow night, I should probably at least start them tonight! That's me in true procrastination form.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nothing says Fall like Pumpkin Muffins!

After much begging and pleading from the oldest child, a batch of our favorite Pumpkin Muffins was made this evening. These are without a doubt the moistest muffins I have ever tasted. They just ooze the feeling of autumn!

Super Moist Pumpkin Muffins


1 can pure pumpkin (not the pie filling)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your muffin tins.
  2. In your mixer's bowl, wisk together the pumpkin, eggs, water, and oil.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients, sifting as you add them. (I like to turn my mixer on the lowest speed and add the dry ingredients slowly so they don't fly all over the kitchen when I turn on the mixer.)
  4. Fill greased muffin tins about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes or until set when touched.

This batch makes 12 regular sized muffins and about 18 mini muffins. I add the mini muffins in about 15 minutes after the regular sized ones, and they all finish at the same time.

Now go put on some great cooking music, get a pot of coffee going and make some muffins. I promise you'll be glad you did!

Friday, October 23, 2009

When a friend has a crappy day....

.... make them an owl pillow. lol That's actually what I did tonight. My friend Becky had one of those "the dryer just broke, there goes the Christmas money" kind of days. In true housework-procrastination mode, I whipped up a little owl throw pillow for her. She has an even more obsessive love of owls than I do, so this should be a perfect little gift.
The pattern is in the current issue of Better Homes & Garden Quilts. Start to finish, it took about 4 hours. Not too shabby considering it involved tons of tiny pieces, applique AND embroidery. Finished pillow measures about 9"x7". I forgot to take a picture of the back, but it's the same embroidered fabric that is used for the tree trunk. Best part of this project: All fabric from the stash! Love when that happens!
I really really want to make one of these for myself!

"You're a hoot!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Wreath

After seeing an awesome Halloween Wreath over at the blog Something To Do, I was on a mission to make one. In the spirit of repurposing, she used an old metal embroidery hoop. Since I didn't have one of those, my brain immediately went to the next best thing: raiding my dad's workshop. So I loaded up the kids and the dog for an impromptu weekend trip to the cabin, bringing along the sewing machine to work on some unfinished projects.

The lowdown on how to make your own Halloween Wreath:

1. Find someone with a workshop full of 20 years worth of stuff. It helps to have a packrat for a dad in times like this. :)

2. Round up some sturdy wire, or any other material that can be formed into a circle and hold it's shape. Once I convinced Dad to give up some of his stash of wires, he cut it down to size for me. Thanks, Dad!

3. Since I chose wire, I used a handful of cable ties to secure the wire together. (Dad keeps them in an old metal tin that Jamaican Rum comes in. If you know him in real life, you will know exactly how fitting this is!)

4. Make sure to snip off the ends of all of those cable ties!

5. Cut your tulle into strips about 12" long and slip knot them around the ring. It takes forever, but produces really cute results!

6. Hang it on your front door and stand outside taking pictures while your neighbors look at you like you're crazy.

Also, I only have a Christmas wreath holder, so I wrapped it in orange fabric I had in my stash to make it work.

Cost of project: $1.50 for some black tulle I got on sale a year ago - plus - a tank of gas for our weekend away.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fish Tacos

It always helps to have a helper in the kitchen.... even if he is clad in Buzz Lightyear underwear (worn backwards, of course) OVER his diaper. Gotta love the fashion sense of a 2 year old!

*** Let me preface this recipe by saying that I am not a fan of measuring, which is probably why I suck at baking! Everything is done "to taste". So if you are the type of person who needs exact measurements, my way of cooking is not for you!***

Donna's Favorite Fish Tacos

My favorite quick & healthy meal


Fish of choice (tonight we used flounder, but grouper or mahi mahi tastes best)
Broccoli Slaw - or - shredded Cole Slaw mix (broccoli slaw is our preferred choice)
Cilantro, 1/2 a bunch or so
Green Onion, chopped
1 tsp. Jalepenos, finely chopped
tablespoon or two of Mayonnaise
juice of 1 Lime
1/2 tsp or so of Cumin or Cumin Seeds
Salt & Pepper to taste
Tomatoes (garnish)


  1. Make Slaw Dressing: Mix together Mayo, Lime Juice, Cumin, Salt & Pepper.

  2. Combine dressing above with Slaw shreds, Cilantro, Green Onions and Jalepeno. Let this hang out on the counter at room temperature while you cook the fish.
  3. Grill your fish until done, either outside on the grill or inside in a pan. Sprinkle on your favorite seasonings - blackening seasoning is great.

  4. While you've got the grill going, go ahead and warm your tortillas up.

  5. Assemble: Fill your tortillas up with the fish, hot off the grill, top with a generous mound of slaw and some diced tomatoes from the garden.

Yum! Now I know most people enjoy fish tacos with fried fish instead of grilled. However, grilling the fish saves a TON of calories, is waaaaay healthier for you, and in my opinion just plain tastes better. If you simply must have it fried, then save yourself some time and cleanup and throw in some baked fish sticks.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Quickie Skirt

I am fairly impatient and have a need for instant gratification. Therefore, I like my projects quick and easy. That is why I looooove this tutorial that Dana over at Made created for The Market Skirt.

Here are my "the kids are finally in bed and I have about an hour before I crash" versions:

There's only one pocket, because that's how Tater Tot likes her skirts. As for the lack of the adorable buttons on the pocket... well, that's the impatient part of me coming out.

Another one made itty bitty sized for the cutest niece ever... Miss Ava.

Go over and check out her incredible creations! She is truly inspiring.