Fun (and cheap) Halloween decorations

Over here in the corner of California where I live, it is finally getting cool! We have been enjoying mild days and cooler mornings and nights. With this weather the trees are finally starting to turn colors and I can soon bring out my sweater collection. And of course, then follows the holidays; Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!

I have been stock piling holiday ideas on Pinterest and I have some decoration ideas I can’t wait to try for Halloween. These ideas seem relatively easy and affordable and can have a big impact:

1.Boarded up windows from Darious Obell 2. Bagged body from Instructables 3. Spider sack from Martha Stewart 4. Creepy window silhouettes from Smoking Lily

You can also try Eyes in the bushes from Frugal Family Fun:

Yesterday I was at my local 99 Cent Store and Dollar Tree and found nearly all the supplies:

  • Trash bags for the body
  • Foam board and adhesive (going to try foam squares) for the boarded up windows
  • Black poster board for the silhouettes
  • Spiders and spider web (instead of batting) for the spider sacs
  • Glow sticks for toilet roll eyes in the bushes

What Halloween decorations are you crafting?

100+ Stocking Stuffer, Easter Basket, and Gift Bag Ideas for Men

Welcome! Hopefully after reading this post and all the comments you will have a better idea as to what to get that guy in your life, whether it be your son, brother, husband, or dad! And honestly, this list can be great for any hard-to-shop for person! Many of these ideas are gender-neutral and will work just as well for the mother, sister, cousin, or wife in your life ;

This is a revamp of my previous post, 50+ Stocking Stuffers for Men. So many people left such great comments and ideas that I thought I would condense them all here so they are easier to read through. There are still some great traditions in the comments if you want to have more ideas.

These small gift ideas are perfect for stocking stuffers, but also for Easter baskets and gift bags too. Most of the ideas on here range from $1-$10.

Looking for Ideas for the Kids? Click HERE!

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Favorite Halloween Fonts!

I love Halloween! There is so much stuff to make, bake, and create, to celebrate the holiday. Whether it be food, decorations, or costumes, there are a million different ways you can let your creativity shine through.

Anyone having a Halloween party? Here are a few of my favorite spooky and wacky Halloween fonts!

1. Black Widow 2. Freehand Written 3. Goodnight Freak 4. In the Know 5. Organic Fear 6. Tuna and Hotdogs 7. Dark wood 8. Ready Black 9. Sewn Tight 10. Sticky Mad 11. Thirty Months of Victory

You can also find more FREE Halloween Fonts HERE.

A Family Recipe to Feed a Crowd

I’m going to let you in on a secret recipe today; a recipe from my husband’s Portuguese family. Having a hard time figuring out what dish to make or bring to your next event? Look no further; bring Portuguese Beans!

A big pot of these flavorful beans are easy to make and a big favorite around here. We make them for family gatherings, BBQ’s, and parties. If by chance you have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day for lunch or with some runny eggs for breakfast.

I like this recipe because it is very flavorful and has only a few ingredients. These beans go great with any meal, whether it be hamburgers and hotdogs, steak, chicken or eggs! I like to use beer in the recipe, but if you want to have a gluten-free pot, it is easy to substitute the beer for chicken broth and it will be just as tasty!

I’ve fed about 20 people with this recipe, when it is a side-dish. Technically it’s about 26 servings of beans or so. I cook it in my regular large sauce pot. It’s a pretty cheap dish as well. A huge can of beans costs about $5, bacon $2-5, tomato sauce $2-3, and everything else less than $1. So you can feed over 20 people for about $10.

Portuguese Beans for a Group:
Ingredients:
1 12oz pack of bacon or 8-10 slices of the thick cut kind, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of tomato sauce
1 bottle of beer
OR
2 cups chicken broth
1 huge can of pinto beans, rinsed (the #10 can size with 26 or so servings)

Directions:
In a large pot, crisp the diced bacon
Remove bacon from pot with slotted spoon and set aside
In bacon grease, cook onion and garlic until translucent
Add the tomato sauce, beer or broth, and the bacon into the pot
Simmer for 10 minutes
Add rinsed pinto beans and simmer for about 15-30 minutes
Add more liquid if necessary (keep about an inch or two of liquid above beans)

Enjoy!

Portuguese Beans

A bad picture of the beans; I always forget to take a picture because I’m too busy eating them and they are gone by the time I remember!

Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas for Children

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Every year we would get Easter Baskets from the Easter Bunny (just like stockings from Santa). My mom would fill our baskets with special treats and toys along with hiding Easter Eggs. It was almost like waking up on Christmas morning!

This year I only have my toddler-age Godchild to make a basket for, but I have been thinking about lots of other ideas! The following is a list of Easter Basket Filler Ideas that don’t involve candy – some to make and some to buy. Just follow the links for the craft tutorials or instructions!

What to use for baskets:

  • The cheap wicker Easter baskets they sell at the store
  • Other stores have more fun “baskets” like fabric animals and colorful pails
  • Colorful organizational totes at the dollar store (we get these the most – fun and functional for after Easter!)
  • Decorative bowls
  • Toy containers: baby doll bath tubs, strollers or cradles, Lego containers, etc. (holds the goodies and doubles as a toy)
  • Real baskets from a home or craft store
  • Instead of using Easter grass, use fabric, a new piece of clothing, a baby blanket, etc.

Easter Basket Ideas (other than candy):

  • Sidewalk Chalk (make your own without any toxic ingredients if you have the time)
  • Playdough
  • Gak  (another homemade ooze recipe)
  • Bubbles
  • Crayons (melt old or new crayons down and more into molds for personalized crayons)
  • Color books (or print coloring pages from online)
  • Babydoll or stuffed animal sleeping bags (See how HERE – Sleeping bags are good for boys or girls, just alter the color combinations!)
  • Spongeballs (great water toy or baby toy. Cheap and easy!)
  • Chipmunk or other animals from a glove
  • Teddy bears or a socktopuss  from colorful socks
  • Letters, shapes, or number sponges for bath time
  • Felt Food for play kitchens (Lots of stuff out there!)
  • Dinosaur tails for imagination play
  • Superhero capes (I can personally attest that super hero capes are for boys AND girls!)
  • Eggs full or small toys (think plastic dinosaurs, army men, Legos, etc)
  • Eggs full of colorful goldfish or cheerios (love this idea for my Godchild)
  • Stickers or stamps (My basket always had a ton of Lisa Frank stickers! Here’s a link on how to make your own stickers)
  • Pencils and stationary (there is so many free printables out there, you could probably print your own out as well)
  • Art supplies (one of my favorites as a kid)
  • Kites (we always got one of these in our basket!)
  • Balls or other sports equipment
  • Make your own airplane kits (you can buy these for a dollar or two at craft stores usually)
  • Sippy cups or drink cups (I bought a bunny cup with a straw for my Godchild)
  • Puzzles and other games
  • Flash cards or playing cards
  • Hair or jewelry accessories
  • Dress-up items
  • New clothes or shoes
  • Movies or music (Veggie Tales Jonah DVD is $5 at Target, along with some other kids movies)
  • Books and comics
  • Sand toys
  • Bath toys
  • Kids gardening supplies
  • Bug catching supplies
  • Craft kits

Theme Baskets:

  • Art supplies – paints, crayons, color books, notebooks, etc.
  • Sports/outdoor equipment – Frisbee, balls, 2 person paddle games, etc.
  • Baking or food – Aprons, play food, plates and other containers
  • Bathtime – foam and sponge shapes, containers, other bath toys
  • Beach or toy box– Sand pails, shovels, measuring cups, sifters, funnels, etc, This book would be cool too.
  • Gardening/bug catching/exploring – bug containers, nets, child-size shovels, boots, pots, explorer hats and vests
  • Superhero: Capes, KIDS comics and movies, action figures
  • Dress up – Jewelry, shoes, clothing, etc.
  • Game Time: Games and puzzles, snacks for family game night

What are you putting in your Easter Baskets?

creativegiftsforchildren

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3 Days Until Christmas: Christmas Breakfast

Just a few more days until Christmas and I’m super excited! My holiday celebrations kick off tomorrow evening so I will have a festive filled Christmas weekend. To elevate my mood even further, I was able to enjoy a real food breakfast this morning and a real food dinner last night (which has been few and far between since becoming pregnant)!

I’m spending today decorating our traditional sugar cookies and prepping grain-free meatballs so I can throw them in the crockpot tomorrow morning.

I’m also getting the final ingredients to make our traditional Christmas breakfast. On Christmas morning my brother and mother (and maybe some cousins) are joining me and my husband for breakfast and a gift exchange and while my husband cooks eggs and bacon, my brother will be making biscuits and chocolate gravy. Yes, you heard right; chocolate gravy.

My father has a lot of family from Tennessee and the South and I am sure chocolate gravy is much more popular over that way than here in CA. When we visited some maternal family in Oklahoma our great aunt Sue made us chocolate gravy and biscuits as well.

My brother won’t let me post our family’s recipe, but this I found a recipe online that is pretty similar. We don’t usually let it get as thick as pudding, we like it a bit more runny, so we substitute some of the milk for water.

Mom’s Chocolate Gravy from Redneck Epicurean

Ingredients:
Serves: 6

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (we prefer Hershey’s)

Directions:

Mix all the dry ingredients in a heavy saucepan with a whisk. Using a whisk blends everything better than a spoon. Stir in the milk.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove the pot when the mixture is thick like pudding.

Add the butter. Stir in until completely melted. Serve over biscuits with a teaspoon of butter dolloped on top.

Even though our preferable lifestyle/eating habits are whole foods (and generally grain-free) I think it’s ok to have a special treat once in a while.

I think a great healthier alternative would be soaked cinnamon rolls from Modern Alternative Mama’s new book, Treat Yourself, which you can win!

What are you making Christmas morning?

10 Days Until Christmas: Festive Centerpieces

TEN DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS. Holy Moly. My list of things to do seems longer now than it did a week ago!

Our Christmas decorations have been up for a couple of weeks now, but I’m still missing a centerpiece for the table (I’m also hosting Christmas Breakfast at my house). Here are some easy centerpieces that still look elegant and festive.

Supplies you may need:

  • Jars
  • Vases of varying sizes
  • Candles
  • Ornaments
  • Cranberries
  • Flowers
  • Pine cones
  • Pine branches/sprigs
  • Ribbon (anyone else LOVE ribbon?)

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12 Days Until Christmas: Grain-free Appetizers

I have two holiday celebrations before Christmas and everyone is to bring an appetizer. Since I am sure there will be plenty of indulgences, I am dedicated to bringing something healthy that is grain-free and sugar-free.

Here are a few finger foods/appetizers that I have either made with success, or I plan to give a try:

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15 Day Until Christmas: Wrap Those Gifts!

I love wrapping paper. I bought two rolls of it on clearance last year after Christmas, but there is just so much pretty paper I bought more this year as well. Whoops.

Here are some cute ways to wrap your gifts – other than the typical colored wrapping paper, shiny curling ribbon, and those bows that never stay stuck on.

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