Sunday, August 31, 2014

Free Social Media Icon Round-Up

In the last post, I wrote about how you could make your blog look better for free, and one of the ideas I mentioned was adding social media icons but, felt like there were a lot of other beautiful and free options that I hadn't mentioned so I decided to create a small round-up for you.

1. Watercolor Social Media Icons from Every Little Polish
2. Love these Vintage Social Media Icon Stamps from Design Instruct
3.Flower and rounded pastel social media icons from Sweet Simplicity
4.Social Media Icons from A Typical English Home, available in 13 colours
5. Scribble and sketchy set fro Lil Blue Boo
6. Free Social Media Icons & Ribbons from Stumbling Upon Happiness, available in orchid, woodgrain and chalkboard.

These are all free options and should link to the buttons not home page. Hope you enjoy them and if there is interest I may make more round-ups in the near future. =)

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Make Your Blog Look Better... For Free

I am a bit of a frugal person (understatement of the year) and don't really believe in spending money on things you can get for free. Some people spend a lot of money creating a blog that will make them some money. Some are successful some are not. Personally I am in the category that you shouldn't spend money until you begin earning at least when it comes to blogging.

There are a lot of free resources on the web you can use to make your blog look more professional, even if you can't design worth the beans. Have you seen my last attempt at creating my own printable? Ummm... yeah. But I am an expert at locating gorgeous (and almost always free) printables and resources.

First off I think a pretty header for your blog title is a must. I snagged the header I am currently using as a freebie from LeeLou- Blogs but unfortunately all her cute freebies are now offered for a small price.

But I have attempted to make my own headers to share with all my readers which you are free to use however you want for personal or commercial use except to sell or offer as a freebie on your own site. Although a link-up would be greatly appreciated. =)

Blue and Yellow...

Blue and Pink Stripes...

Should just be able to right click and save them to your computer. I created them in png. format so the background is transparent but if you have any troubles just comment or email and I will try to figure it out.

Also there are 5 cute options over at Dana Sears with tutorial on how to add them. Make sure you grab them there for better quality.

Secondly, I love blog buttons and have made these awesome free sidebar titles for you. They come in various colours and I offer a blank one as well so you can open them in paint and customize them with your own subheadings.

There are also great social media buttons from a Typical English Home as well, with a tutorial even a computer illiterate like myself can follow. Or you can grab some from I Rock So What


For more free social media icons check out my Social Media icon Round-Up. So there is my beginning ways to make your free wordpress or blogger blog look a little more professional and less... well free. Will get to backgrounds and more free blog elements in a later post.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Creating Family Goals

I don't know what is, but lately I have been thinking a lot about improving, trying to be a better person with better habits and helping my children overcome bad habits or learning new skills and moving forward.

I think a lot of us, especially mothers feel overwhelmed at times (or sometimes a lot of the time) about not being able to do it all, at least I know I do!

I want to cook healthy delicious meals - that are not a little - to moderately overcooked (I want to say a minor fear of giving my entire family salmonella poising causes me to way overcook my chicken pretty much every time, and well I also get distracted very easily)

Now where was I going... Oh right. I also wanted to keep a clean, tidy house, one where my super clean in-laws can actually wear there white socks over to my house. I`m not saying my house is super dirty - it`s just always a little unkempt and maybe one to two weeks past due for mopping...

Not to mention I wish I was super organized so I am not constantly looking for things or running out of important things like diapers or milk.

I wish I could control our budget so we can start actually saving for retirement at 30, spend quality time playing and teaching the children... and on and on. Hmmm, I think that may have overwhelmed me a little, I`m sure you know where I am going with this.

So I like to choose one goal at a time that I want to work on for that month or until I have somewhat of a grasp on it, until moving forward. And I like to choose one goal for each of the kids - for instance I am potty training my 3 year old which I think is enough as she has yet to tell me she has to pee um ever so that's a post for another day. And I was trying to get my one year old to sleep through the night and stop screaming all day every day - I already have concentration problems.

So anyway to sum up this round about post - I think each family member should choose a goal to work towards, we can all improve ourselves. I want to learn how to clean up after myself and the kids so I am not constantly playing catch up and lately I`m thinking I need to be a little more grateful for what I have which when the kids decide to both pitch a major meltdown at the same time is sometimes difficult.

So I wanted to start making my own printables, I thought each family member could write down their name and major (and possibly secondary goal) and this is what I came up with...

Yup a Nobel attempt at creating my own free printable but I won`t completely blame you if you don`t want to print it and stick it on you fridge - although the lines are almost straight... lol.

So then I went on Pinterest and found you this cute one from My Love for Words. You can download her cute Monthly Goal Tracker for free.

Monthly goal tracker

Would love for you to comment and let me know what you decide on for your family goals.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

50+ Toddler Activities

1. Colouring with crayons, magic markers or we also have markers that only draw on special paper great when the kids inevitably draw on the walls and everything else

2. Paint with water - my daughter loves dipping the paintbrush and I love that I only have to clean up water afterwards.

3. Foam kits - you can buy foam kits at the dollar store - we have butterflys that you decorate with all the little pieces, they also have different seasonal ones around the holiday

4. Play dough - whether you buy it or make your own, play dough is always fun and there are tons of accessories that go with it

5. Pasta necklaces - we make some pasta necklaces using Rigatoni and a pipe cleaner, as my daughter has a hard time stringing them on a shoelace yet and finds a few rigid pipecleaners much easier

6. pipe cleaners - are an activity in itself, we push them through a shoe box but I'm planning to make this cute idea from Engaging Toddler Activities which will also help with our colours

7. Stickers - so inexpensive you can buy 300 at the dollar store and stick them in a sticker book or colouring book or on your shirt.

8. Bath Crayons - Boo got these in her stocking and loves them, she thought it was great to colour all over the bathtub walls but perhaps not something you would want to do daily as it will take a little time to scrub it all off afterwards.

9. Balloons - there are a ton of games you can play with a simple bag of balloons - draw faces on them with markers, play a game of volleyball or 'don't let it touch the ground', glue popsicle sticks to paper plates for a game of ping pong (idea from Weekend Homemaker) You can also find some simple printables you can cut out and glue to your balloons to turn them into your child's favourite character like Angry Birds.

10. Make a playhouse out of a large carboard box - appliance (and other huge) cardboard boxes are great to build playhouses out of - cut in a window and door, colour it with markers or decorate it with stickers, or if you have a smaller cardboard box you can build a dollhouse for your barbies or baby dolls.

11. Or for more ideas of what to make out of cardboard you can find over 200 ideas pinned at 'Carboard Creations' like this adorable icecream parlor from Catch My Party.

12. Animals - kids love to pretend to be animals as I am often crawling around my house meowing. You can print out free animal masks from Mr. Printables

13. Paper Dolls - Print out paper dolls and clothes for your little one to dress and redress - you can print out Princess Kate and all the popular Disney dresses here or print out their favourite princess like princess Cinderella (Belle, Tiana, Ariel and lots more) here

14. Blocks - whether you have wooden blocks or mega blocks kids always enjoy building but mostly knocking over towers

15. Cups - you can buy a large pack of small dixie cups with tons of cute patterns on them and your toddler will have fun just stacking them and then taking them apart again. Or turn them over and see how tall of a tower you can build.

16. Wooden puzzles with pegs - wooden puzzles are great for toddlers to learn fine motor skills, Boo got one that makes animal sounds when you put the correct animal in the hole for a present

17. Shadow Puppets - shadow puppets are always fun although you can barely tell mine is a bunny, you can also purchase them online - I found a cute fairy shadow puppets set for sale on My Sweet Muffin for $18.00 or if you're cheap frugal like me you can print out a free template from While Wearing Heels (pictured below) trace it onto black cardstock and cut it out with an exact-to knife.

18. Baking - I get a little stool and we stand at the table and she helps me mix the rice krispies into the marshmallows, or mix the crumble for the apple crumble and other small tasks. When baking with kids try to pick recipes with lots of dry ingredients to mix.

19. Colour Sorting - throw a couple dozen toys or blocks into a basket and have the child sort them by colour by placing them in a marked brown paper bag or on a piece of construction paper. Or grab your marked bag and go on a colour scavenger hunt throughout the house.

20. Bubbles - blow bubbles and catching them and popping them is half the fun

21. Doctor - Doc McStuffins is my daughters favourite show and she got the doctor's bag for Christmas - and now she loves giving everyone a 'check-up'. I love the idea of these velcro bandaid for stuffed animals. Find out how she made them over at Pink and Green Mama

22. Tea Party - we have a little tea set that makes noises when you tip it over and Boo loves having tea parties, she 'fills' her cup and slurps her tea and also loves cheersing everyone. Once she's a little older I'll give her juice and little treats.

23. Chalk - it's always fun to draw with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk

24. Put on a puppet show - you can buy or make your own felt puppets - get a tutorial to make a lion, pig and elephant from Sweetie Pie Bakery and then act out a favourite story or make up your own together.

25. Kitchen - we have a small play kitchen but kids love to just stir or bang on kitchen pots or play with plastic food. I need to learn how to sew so I can make the cute felt food from Oh! Crafts

26. Baby Dolls - nothing is cuter than watching my daughter take care of her "babies" we give them a bottle and tuck them in their beds with a mini blanket and she pushes them around the house in their stroller

27. Playing in the sink, my daughter loves playing in the sink - washing her plastic dishes, giving her small plastic toys a bathe or washing her hand with bubbles (foaming soap)

28. Playing in the Sandbox - it's always fun building sand castles and just scooping sand into a bucket, just make sure you have a cover for your sandbox. We also have a pile of rocks near the deck which is also hours of fun. If you don't have your own sandbox just bring your pail and shovel to the park (or beach)

29. Going to the Park - it's always fun to take a walk to your neighbourhood park when the weather is nice, toddlers can run off some off that energy (where does it all come from?) go on the swings, toss around a ball or fly a kite.

30. Playing with Water - you can fill up a kiddie pool and use all your bath toys, turn on the sprinkler or just fill a large tupperware bin or bucket with water and give them a few cups to pour it and don't worry about the impeding mess as you're outside anyway.

31. Mail or Post Office - get the tutorial for this adorable mailbox and letters from Imagine our Life

32. playing dress up - you can get all sorts of costumes for a steal the day after Halloween so you can grab 4 or 5 superhero or princess costumes for less than $20.00

33. Cue Cards - I love cue cards you can buy them for $1.50, (or print them for free) they help toddlers learn their words, shapes and colours and my daughter loves putting them back in the box or stacking them and moving them from one place to another (although picking up 100 cards does get tireseome at times)

34. Shape Sorter - there are a lot of different versions of this toy available at stores or if you;re imaginative you can make your own. Choose one with 2 or 3 shapes for younger children and more for older children.

35. magnets - there are tons of different types of magnets we have a box of wooden animals I found at Winners and my daughter has learned all the animal names just by me asking her to take one or put one back on the fridge.

36. Chores - kids want to do whatever you are doing so it's not difficult to get toddlers to 'help', I bought my daughter a mini broom and dust pan at the dollar store so she can sweep at the same time as I do, and when I'm spot cleaning or dusting I give my daughter a damp clothe and sometimes a spray bottle wuth water and a touch of vinegar so she can clean too.

37. You can print out this free colour matching games (as well as several others) to help teach your toddler their colours from Mr. Printables

38. Play musical instruments - whether you teach your child how to play a chord on your piano or keyboard, or they have their own child instruments , you can also easily make your own: banging on pots with a wooden spoon like a drum, fill a sealed container with dry beans or popcorn kernels and shake it like a maraca
39. go for a walk (or tricycle ride) around the block - kids love finding rocks and sticks and my daughter who's almost two has to jump in every single puddle along the way.
40. Or you can take a nature walk and to make it even more exciting have a 'nature scavenger hunt' print out a list of pictures of common things to find like pinecones or a maple leaf like this one from From Chalkboards to Strollers
41. Make a quiet book, there are so many cute ideas out there - I personally like the felt potatoe head (with free template) over at Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows
42. Kids love to be active. Sometimes we play mommy says (okay it's exactly like Simon Says) and my daughter just copies me like clapping or hopping like bunnies.

43. my daughter loves opening the file cabinet with the key and it keeps her busy for a good twenty minutes (not to include improves her hand eye cordination) you can make your own activity boards by glueing locks, latches, zippers or velcro and switches to a finished piece of wood or cork board.

44. I also love this idea from Growing a Jeweled Rose for "Get Up & Move Dice"

45. Make a fort out of couch cushions and blankets. Our cushions don't come off the couches so I simply throw a large sheet over my dining room table instead. You can also bring flashlights and pretend you're camping indoors.

46. Go on an adventure! Take your kids to the zoo and you can print out these cute Zoo passports from We Wilson's to make it even funner.

47. Get the tutorial for making these felt cookies that you can roll, cut out and frost from the Mother Huddle - I'm sure you could probably cheat and make them out of construction paper as well.

Felt Cut Out Cookies With Frosting Tutorial

48. play soccer - set up a large net or two markers fairly far apart and have your toddler try to kick (or throw) the ball through the net

49. Get the tutorial for making a barbie play house (and all the furniture) out of 3 ring binders from Southern Disposition, folds up neatly when done playing

50. Helping Cook Dinner - my daughter loves when I make potatoes because her job is to bring me the potatoes out of the bag. And when I'm doing something she can't help with like using the stove I get her a big plastic bowl and plastic spoon or whisk so she can stir too.

51. Play store. Print out some cute play money from MissTiina and line up some toys and a little reusable grocery bag for your purchases.

52. Play grocery store with plastic food. And you can print out little grocery lists with pictures from the activity mom

53. play campout in the backyard set up a little tent or you can get the pattern for this adorable 'Princess Pavillion Tent' from ikatbag

54.  read books or inspire reading by making your own library - from Make the Best of Everything

55. throw your sons or daughters favourite stuffed animal or the family pet a birthday party - they can make them birthday cards, blow up some balloons, wrap existing toys and blow out the candles on their fake cake. Check out the tutorial for this fabulous  foam cake from ikatbag

56. lace up cards - you can either make your own or buy them at the store - my daughter has a hello kitty set and I find they are great for learning hand eye coordination but all you really need is a shoebox or a piece of cardboard and a shoelace

57. play bowling - grab a soft ball and 6 containers that are the same size like pringles or puffs containers or you can get super creative and play sumo bowling from unknown

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Save Money on Kids Clothes

How to Save on Kids Clothes

Kids clothes can get expensive.

Especially when they are really young and growing like weeds or if they happen to be going through a growth spurt. And then you need clothes for the changing seasons, which often don't fit for more than a year.

But there are a few ways you can save drastically on kids clothes.

Buy clothes for next year at the end of the season.

At the end of the season they go on clearance for 70 - 90% off. Sometimes it's hard to anticipate the right size, trying to guess the size my unborn child was going to be at 10 months was difficult. And I underestimated at size 18 months (yeah he's 25 lbs).
But its easier guessing for older children. And if you buy at stores like Carter's they let you return items a full year later if you have the receipt. Which is nice because you are not out of pocket if you happen to buy the wrong size.

And secondly you can buy used.

A lot of my girlfriends found cute clothes at garage sales. Although I never seem to make it out of the house with two kids that early in the morning. And my mom has bought a lot of kids clothes from her church rummage sale.

But I have bought a lot of my kids clothes and shoes from used kids clothing stores like Once Upon a Child. You can check if you have a similar one in the area. And once or twice a year they have a clearance sale where you can put whatever you can fit into a grocery bag for $15 (used to be $10). Make sure you join their mailing list so you know in advance when the sales are.

Once Upon a Child also buys kids clothes from people for a nominal amount and they give you more if you choose a store credit.

There are also general used stores like Salvation Army, Goodwill or  Valu Village. I find you have to go fairly frequently to find good new looking clothes but sometimes you can find brand names for super good prices.

And ideally you can get hand me downs from a friend or relative.
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