Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hopscotch Mat

Along with the wall art I made for the kids for their birthdays last spring, I also made these cute hopscotch mats. I found the idea and directions here. I purchased a drop cloth from Canadian Tire, and ended up making 2 of these mats, plus some other creations I will post about later. Definitely a good use of the $10 for at least 4 gifts. I had a lot of felt handy in my crafting stash, so it was easy enough to put together.

This was a 10 o'clock at night project that needed to get finished the next morning, so needless to say, it wasn't perfect, but the kids did enjoy it. If I were to make it again, I would however put some sort of stickier surface on the bag of the mat, as my brother has since informed me that it is quite difficult to play on hardwood floors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wall Art

Well, I'm only a year late, but last March I made a lot of things for a bunch of family kids birthdays. A super simple project that I think turned out pretty nicely. I took a basic square canvas that I had picked up at the Michaels boxing day sale (I think a pack of 7 was like $10). I painted each canvas the birthday child's favourite colour, then googled a picture of their favourite item at the time, cut it out on cardstock and mod podged it on the canvas. I added their names with basic stickers I found at Dollarama.

Not too shabby for a $2 picture. Although my own daughter has been asking one for herself for almost a year now, so perhaps I should stop putting it off.

I did end up spraying a glossy finish to the pictures, and I think they are still a bit wet in some of my pictures, hence the extra shine.

Give it a try, it's so super simple, and 2 year olds are amazed by very small things, such as a picture of a tractor!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

An Amazing Holiday

On top of my two children, N&N who are now 3.5 and 2 years of age, I also have a 5 nieces and nephews (and counting), who at Christmas this year were all 4 and under. Needless to say, it could get to be an expensive holiday. Now, I know we are a very fortunate family, where our Christmas tree is overloaded with presents during the holiday season, but knowing that I haven't blown a bundle on these presents makes my accountant brain and heart very happy.

My plan for all gift giving occasions for this group of young people, is to never spend more than $25 per child, because I think that is a realistic number that I can accommodate. I also like to give gifts with the rule of thumb that there is one article of clothing, one book and one toy. I keep track of all my purchases in an excel spreadsheet I have for gift giving for the entire year. Each tab separates a different occasion, and I keep track of what I've purchased, who it is going to, how much I paid, and what the retail value of the present was (just because that's the part that makes me smile). I also keep track of the method of payment, because I will try to shop sales when I have gift cards to maximize the money out of my pocket. The spreadsheet is usually created a year in advance, because I do tend to shop over the course of the year so at Christmas time, my Visa bill isn't extreme.

This year, each child received a new winter coat (a $45 coat that I paid $12 for), a book (cost $3, retails for $10), and a barbie ($11 retail value of $22). All of my numbers of what I actually paid include taxes and shipping because that money needs to get allocated somewhere. So for $26 each kid received approximately $77 worth of presents, not too shabby in my books.

So, what were some of my ways of getting such awesome deals? I bought the coats at Old Navy (online) in January of the same year. I bought sizes that were 1-2 sizes larger than the age they would be at Christmas based on their specific growing patterns. The books I get from Chapters (online), I always buy boxed sets and then separate the books out amongst the group. The Barbie's I got at the Toys R Us Black Friday sale and I actually went to the store to get them, but that was just because the shipping costs seemed outrageous, and the store opened before I had to go to the office.

Now, whenever I'm shopping online or in store, I always google the store name and coupon code and can usually get another $5 or more in savings. Through my work, I get awarded when I go above and beyond my job duties with "acclaim points." This system allows me to get gift cards, etc. for my points. Whenever, shopping at Chapters, I can immediately transfer my points into an emailed gift card, therefore, costing nothing out of my pocket. I can also say I'm a gift card hoarder, and will only use them when the price is truly right. Therefore, the purchases above for 7 kids only took $84 cash out of my pocket and retailed around $539.

I have tons more I can share about what I think are awesome spending habits, later, but for now, my kids are vying for my attention to go play blocks, and as a working mom, I take all the block playing I can get on the weekends, because come Monday it's routine as usual.

We're still here!

On one of the online forums I'm a member of, there was a discussion on who writes a blog, and I thought back to this blog, that hadn't seen my attention in almost a year and a half. Poor blog. I think it missed me. I was pleasently surprised to see that the blog has almost received 10,000 hits, not bad for something that's last published entry was in 2011. So, I think my goal for 2013 will be to bring this blog back to light. I've had some people ask about how things run in our family now, back with two full-time working parents and hopefully in the coming weeks/months/years?!? I can share some insight. So for now, sit tight, and know that I will have a few awesome entries coming your way, including how I made Christmas happen for $179 cash out of my pocket, with almost $1,300 worth of gifts, and how weirdly excited I get to explain basic taxes to people (I'm an accountant, and numbers excite me, what can I say.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back to Work

Just wanted to pop on and say I'm back to work. I'll have a huge post about the transition, but I'll write it when I'm not on company time. I think I'd like to keep the blog going even though my original intention was to be done when my year was up, but posting definitely won't be as often, mostly because I won't have near as much time to spend doing fun stuff with my kidlets. Anyways, Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone is enjoying their work day as much as I am.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shadowed Cat

I was super impressed with how this picture turned out. I cut out all the pieces of for Big N to put on the orange piece of paper, and she did all the gluing. I *might* have moved a few things while the glue was still wet (if you look carefully you can see the white globs of glue), but I think we did a pretty good job for an accountant and a two year old.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pizza Dough Cinnamon Buns

We had some leftover dough from a Friday night pizza and I had a craving for something sweet, so Saturday night at 10pm I decided to make some cinnamon buns. Now, they weren't as good as the ones I made from the Pioneer Woman, but they were pretty damn good for a midnight snack.

It was super easy to do, I rolled out the dough into a big rectangle, covered it in melted butter and then spread brown sugar and cinnamon all over it. I rolled the huge rectangle up, cut it into pieces and placed it in an 8 inch baking dish. I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

I drenched the buns in a icing made from icing sugar, milk and a little bit of vanilla, then decided to eat three of them before bed. Needless to say, I couldn't get to sleep until 2:30am because of my sugar high, so if you plan to do this, don't eat a whole bunch right before bed!