Recipe For A Simple Life

Simplify your life, one day at a time

Money Saving Mom's 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

This is one eBook that I am needing to read.  I have so much on my plate seems like, that I just can’t get it all done.  I’m hoping this eBook will help me to figure out what is truly necessary to do in my life, and to be ok with letting go of some of the other things I feel is necessary to do, but is really not.  I want to spend time exercising and more time with my family.  Neither of which I’ve figured out yet.  If you’d like to buy her eBook – it’s $4.99.  The price goes up each day this week, so grab it now.  How can you not afford to spend 99c to start getting your life on track?!

Crystal Paine is the awesome lady that runs Money Saving Mom – a website I’ve used several times to get ideas on how to achieve my financial goals, as well as family fun ideas!  I’ve also read another one of her books, which was a very easy read.  I’m not one to read books with complicated ideas or ones that have really big words in them :o)

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Try This! Paper Clip Bookmarks

By now, you know that I love to read.  My girls also love to read, and I think my little guy will be a reader too, but I don’t think he’ll love it as much as we girls do.  When I saw this adorable idea on Pinterest, I immediately thought of my 11 year old.  It’s just the kind of thing she would love to do and it reminded me of some really cute hair ties she got this summer from another softball mom during a weekend tournament.

Check out these simple, useful and adorable bookmarks:

photo from Altered to Perfection.

I’m planning to make some of these with the kids.  What a fun way to mark your page in a favorite book or journal!!

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Try This! Kool Aid Play Dough

     My children asked me to make play dough today. That might not seem unusual until I tell you that it’s been, literally, years since we had play dough in the house.  My kids are 14, 11 & 8 now and much more interested in electronic gadgets and hanging out with friends than something like play dough.  They also seldom show interest in the same thing on the same day.

Since play dough is such an easy (and cheap) thing to make, I did it.  They all three played with it!  In fact, they asked me to make more.  (Who are these children and what did they do with my kids?) Here’s the recipe we used, complete with illustrations.  It’s so easy, my 8 year old made the second batch with very minimal assistance.


1 1/2 C. Flour

1/2 C. Salt

2 T. Vegetable Oil

1 pkg unsweetened Kool-Aid (just the mix, do not add the water)

1 C. Hot Water (does not need to be boiling, but it should be HOT)

Put everything in a bowl, adding water last.  Mix with a spoon until a soft dough forms and it is cool enough to touch.  Knead until all dry ingredients have been absorbed into the dough.  If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little it more flour until it feels right.  Store in an airtight container.  (I think the original directions, which I lost, said to keep in the frig.  We never do this, we just keep ours at room temp and it seems to work fine.)


See, I told you, easy as can be.  The most amazing thing to me was how long my youngest two kids played TOGETHER with play doh.  We don’t drink much Kool Aid, but I think I might pick up some more next time it goes on sale……….

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How I "Wasted" $7.00 Today and Why I'd Do It Again…

I “wasted” $7.00 today.  I did.  I paid $1.29 for a one pound loaf of bread I could have made myself, $1.59 on Diet Dr. Pepper I didn’t need and $4.29 for a dozen cookies from a gas station.  Why did I do this?  Because I promised my 8 year old explorer that I would take him and a friend to a local park for a picnic and an afternoon of toad hunting and I talked my girls into coming along too.

Now, if I were a little more organized and self-disciplined, I could have kept that promise for free.  But I’m not.  And I’ve discovered something – sometimes a splurge is worth it.  We spent 2 hours at the park before my girls ran out of patience and energy.  The boys could have gone 2 more hours traipsing through the sloppy shore of the park pond looking for toads, feathers, shells and who knows what else.  They are already planning the next trip.

We didn’t find any toads, by the way.  We did have a great time, relatively unplugged (I did take a couple photos on my phone) and spent the afternoon outside on a gorgeous Minnesota afternoon.  Sometimes “simple” really is simple, no big plans or elaborate preparations, just good old fashioned fun.

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Try This! My March List

I did fairly well on my February list of things to try, with only one thing that didn’t quite get done as intended.  My March list looks like this:

Monthly Meal Planning

Freezer Cooking

Homemade Hair Detangler

Homemade Baking Mix

Recycled T-shirt Headbands

In case you are wondering why I choose the things I do, there is a method to my madness.  I try to include at least one recipe idea, one craft idea, and one organization idea.  Since I’m writing about one idea each week, I also try to make sure I have as many ideas as there are Tuesdays in a month.  That’s really all there is to it.  Now, I better go get to work on the first one – meal planning – because I have NO IDEA what we are eating this coming week!!  Hopefully by the time you read this in a couple days I’ll have that figured out.


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Try This! T-shirt Rug Variation

Okay, so I was planning to make the t-shirt rug on a hula hoop loom.  It was the only hard item on the February list and I was hoping that by throwing it out here on the web I would be motivated enough to get it done.  That ALMOST worked.

I started to cut up the t-shirts I had set aside and realized I should have left them in loops.  So, I decided to scale the project down and start a little smaller by making a dishcloth.  Here’s how it went:

We started with a pile of old t-shirt purged from my closet.  I picked the ones with holes and the ones that are too big now, and tried to pick a couple different colors.  I forgot to take the photo before we started cutting them up, so the colors we chose aren’t in the pile.

Next, I cut the shirts (lost that photo – Hmmmmm) into strips.  I started at the bottom, just following the seam.  When I got almost all the way around, I zigged upward and just kept cutting in a spiral until I got to the sleeve.  Then I rolled up the really long strip into a ball.  I did this for three colors:  hot pink, light pink and orange.

We used a “Nifty Knitter” loom we had in the closet as our weaving loom instead of a hula hoop.  We just wound the hot pink t-shirt “yarn” back and forth across the middle and then changed directions and started weaving the light pink around the remaining pegs when it looked like it would end up square.  (Highly scientific formula, I know) We pulled the yarn slightly at the end of each row, to keep it a little tight.  After we got going, I thought for sure it was going to be a disaster because, as you can see, there were a lot of spaces and the t-shirt yarn looked really thin.  But, I was determined to see it through to the end, so we kept going.  (Mainly, I didn’t want to disappoint Peanut, who was helping with this project).  When we had finished the weaving I realized that I didn’t have a plan to “finish” the sides.  Thankfully, I remembered that I had a crochet hook from my “nifty knitting” days and decided to finish it off like some of those hats I made 5 years ago.

We un-looped one of the loops, then another, pulling the second through the first to make a chain stitch along the edge.  (I hope that makes sense)  We went all the way around until we got back to the beginning and then knotted it off.  We did a little pulling and stretching to even out the tension and………….

TA-DA!!!  Our very first homemade woven t-shirt creation.  I used it to clean the kitchen and it worked really well.  The only thing I noticed was that it was hard to wring out because it was so thick and tightly woven.  We’ve already made 2 more, but I think we need to weave more loosely if we do any more so that we can wring them out more easily.

All in all, it wasn’t what I planned to do, but it was a fun little project for Peanut and I to do together and we enjoyed ourselves.  I’d give it a thumbs up.

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Try This! Make Your Own Valentines

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This year Payton and I made homemade valentines for her class.  I saw this really cute idea on Pinterest and had to give it a try.  The original image was a little different and used ribbons, but we opted to make postcard style cards.  As we were working on the cards on Sunday afternoon, Scott walked by the table and said “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just pick up a box from the store?”

The honest answer, is YES! it would have been much, much easier to pick up a box from the store.  But, it wouldn’t have been as personal and Payton and I wouldn’t have spent quality time working together on something.  We had a good time and made some creative, unique and one of a kind valentines.  Check this out: 

What did you try this week?

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Menu Plan Monday – Lunchbox Edition

I took Scott with me when I bought groceries this past weekend.  We shopped at three stores and stocked the cupboards again.  Cold lunch this week will NOT be difficult to pack.  Here’s what we have available:

Protein:  Turkey, Peanut Butter, String Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Almonds

Fruits / Veggies:  Baby Carrots, Cucumbers, Bananas, Applesauce, Grapes, Strawberries, Avocado

Grains:  Oatmeal Bread, White Bread, Mini Rice Cakes, Club Crackers

Extras:  Mini Fruit Roll-ups, 100 Calorie Pack Fudge Stripe Cookies

My goal for February is to get back into the habit of packing our lunches in the evening after supper instead of me throwing things together while the kids are in the car each morning.  Having a well stocked supply for them should help.

What’s in your lunchbox this week?

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Try This!

One of the things on my unofficial goals list is to try new things.  I’m not doing real well at this because I didn’t write down any specific things I want to try.  So, to help me follow through on this goal and to push myself to exercise some planning and self discipline skills, I’ve decided to  write down what I would like to try in 2012.  Each time I follow through and do one of the items listed below, I’ll post under the heading “Try This” and share with you how it went.  (No matter how well, or not, it goes.)  Here are the projects I’m going to attempt this month:

Oatmeal Bread

Homemade Valentine Cards

A T-shirt Rug on a Hula Hoop Loom

DIY Daily Planner

I’ll be honest and tell you I’m starting easy this month because I’ve already made the planner (post coming soon) and I’m making the bread tonight.  I’ll be attempting the valentine cards tomorrow.  So, the only big challenge left is the rug, but it’s a big challenge and I’ve been telling Payton that we can try it for almost a month and not followed through.  Hopefully, this will be the motivation I need to do this fun project.

Are you trying any new projects or recipes?  I’d love to hear what new things are on your “To-Do” list for 2012.

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Thankful Thursday

Some days it’s hard to find anything to be thankful for.   Some days there is so much, it’s hard to remember everything I am thankful for.  This week is one of those weeks where I feel so blessed it’s hard to stop saying thank you.  It’s also a week where I have been offering up thanks for blessings that have been bestowed to others, which is also a powerful feeling.

For myself, I am most thankful for my new job.  It’s in a field I love and it is a great fit for my family at this stage in our lives.  I am thankful for good health, both for myself and for my family.  It’s one of those things we take for granted often, but is truly a huge blessing.

This week I am also thankful for the healthy delivery of a fellow church member’s baby, induced at 28 weeks so that his mom can begin treatment for a recently diagnosed cancer.  This family is a shining example of being thankful at all times.  If you would like to read their story and see what I mean, you can find them on Facebook in the group Pray for Ruth Webber.  In the face of monstrous challenges, they are thankful and inspiring.  I am truly moved by their attitude in the face of adversity.

What are you thankful for this week?

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