Crafty, DIY, Gift Ideas, Holiday, Nifty Thrifty, Shopping, Super Deals

DIY Valentine’s Day Treat Bags for Under $20

This week I volunteered to read to my son’s class.  Since Valentine’s day is literally just a couple days away, I decided to pick a couple of books that celebrate love and warm, happy feelings.

I absolutely love these books and they were perfect for the occasion and season!20180209_105428.jpg

Note: If you’re interested in any one of these books you can find them in the picture links below:

Whenever I visit to read to his class, I also try to bring treats that compliment the general theme of the book/season. And further, since I LOVE LOVE LOVE Valentines day, I wanted to do something a little special for the kiddies.  I made a quick trip out to Dollar Tree and found a few things:

If you don’t know what Dollar Tree is, it is the best dollar store in the world and every item there is a dollar or less!20180209_105323.jpgPictured above are pencils, erasers, bubble tubes, plastic treat bags, and tissue paper. 

On a side note, I also found these cute tote bags there:20180209_105622.jpg

I also managed to dig up a few things from my closet since I generally stock up on items in the clearance bins after a holiday.  These were the items I found last year at Walgreens and Walmart for 75-90% off:

I literally spent less than $3 TOTAL for the items pictured below:20180209_104844.jpgPictured above are plastic cups, buttons, and plane kits. 

I also like to add a few sweets in there (because it’s Valentine’s Day!!!) so I added a couple of lollipops and rice crispy treats from my local grocery store.  After I gathered all of the items, I essentially used the cups as little “baskets” to hold everything.

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I then added a bit of tissue paper as well, but cut the sheets into quarters so that they would fit proportionately to the cups:

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Since I was going to be transporting them from my home to their class, I wanted to make sure that the cups and contents would remain in tact, so I placed each cup into an individual bag:

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If you’ve ever used the plastic cellophane bags, you’ll notice that they come with several wire twisty-ties for securing the bags–  I cannot stand these things mainly because I usually end up pricking my fingers with them and they’re a pain to get off once they’re on; so I decided to create paper tags that I could staple onto the bags to keep them closed and add a little bit of extra flair.  I had some heart-themed cardstock that cut into 3.5×4 inch rectangles and folded in half long-wise:

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I basically just folded the tops of the bags and cupped them over with the paper tags.  I then secured them on with staples.  Here is the finished product:

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I made a total of 24 treat bags– one for each student in his class.  This project cost me less than $20 to make and about an hour to assemble. The kiddies nearly lost their minds when they saw them!  I love how the smallest things can bring so much joy.

I’m still not done with assembling my other Valentine’s Day goodies as I’ve procrastinated just a bit.  So if you’re in the same boat as me, we’ll be burning the midnight oil together!  Cheers to you and I hope you’re having a Happy Monday!

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Food, Nifty Thrifty, Super Deals, Thrifty Dishes

Ridiculously Easy Alfredo Pizza

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I love spending time in the kitchen, but realistically, I don’t have the time to spend hours on a given meal unless it is for a special occasion.  In addition, I’m not great at long-term meal planning and prep– I always forget to leave the meat out to thaw, and I don’t always feel like eating what I planned to make for dinner anyway.  I also like to make dishes that are versatile– this generally allows me to save money by putting a meal together using whatever ingredients I have on hand or whatever I find on sale at the grocery store for the week.

This week I made a trip out to Dollar Tree where I found a few great grocery finds that I was able to turn into a yummy, quick, easy, and thrifty pizza:

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These items cost me a total of $2.50– the Alfredo Sauce and Pizza Crust were $1.00 each, and the can of Organic Tomatoes was $0.50.  At home, I had a few other ingredients on hand from Kroger such as shredded cheese (I buy in bulk when on sale for about a $1.00 /cup) and pesto sauce (on sale for about $3.79 for 10 Oz).

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*Just a quick side note– I love pesto sauce and always keep a few jars in my pantry to add 1-2 tbs to certain dishes for an extra kick of flavor and color!

With about 5 minutes of prep time, this was the final product– it was so good and ridiculously easy to make:

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Ingredients (Yields about 2 Servings):

  • 1 ready-made 12-inch thin-crust Pizza Crust;
  • 1/2 cup of Alfredo Sauce (feel free to be more generous with your sauce if you prefer, or if using a thicker crust, but I would suggest no more than 1/4 cup more);
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Shredded Cheese, per your preference (I would suggest mozzarella or mixed cheddar);
  • 1/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes, gently strained;
  • 2 tbs of Pesto Sauce;
  • Optional Toppings:
    • dried/crushed basil leaves for garnish
    • Mushrooms (fresh, sauteed, or canned)
    • Spinach (fresh, sauteed, or canned)
    • Sliced Salami
    • Bacon (pre-made)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit;
  2. While the oven is preheating, place the pizza crust directly onto an ungreased baking sheet;
  3. Take the Alfredo Sauce and spoon it generously onto the surface of the Pizza Crust (i like to spoon my sauce all the way to the ends, but feel free to leave a half-inch circumference without sauce if you prefer);
  4. Top generously with shredded cheese;
  5. Further top the pizza with the diced tomatoes, and finish off with tiny dollops of pesto sauce.
  6. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Out of the Optional Toppings as listed above, I used only dried/crushed basil that I sprinkled over top of the pizza; however, I do make other variations of this pizza using one or more of the items in the Optional Toppings list and they are delicious!

This pizza took me less than 20 minutes total to put together, and it was a hit!  I actually served this pizza with a salad on the side that I was able to toss together while the pizza was in the oven.  My bug liked this pizza so much that he has even requested it again for dinner!

I hope this recipe has shown you that with a little creativity, even dollar store groceries can be turned into something tasty and indulgent!

Gift Ideas, Shopping, Super Deals

20 Great STEM Gifts for Kids for Under $10

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For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for math and science.  I remember mixing random hygiene products in the bathroom in an attempt to create a chemical reaction and digging up holes in the backyard in search of fossils.  To this day, I am still fascinated by the universe, and while I did not grow up to be a chemist or an archaeologist, I have spent my adulthood in a career in STEM as an Environmental Specialist.  Needless to say, I LOVE SCIENCE!!!

When my son was born, I had hoped that he would grow to have that passion for science and math that I did as a child; as luck would have it, he absolutely does.  Just look at this face when I told him we were going to learn about chemical reactions and polymers:

Getting ready to make a polymer (we don’t do “goop” in my house!)20171203_165602.png

Children today are so fortunate to have been born in a time where access to STEM has never been easier.  The internet is full of How-Tos for DIY STEM activities, and books and kits are only just a mouse-click away from being delivered right to your doorstep.  Since we are officially in gift-giving season (yay!), I though I would share some awesome STEM gift ideas that won’t break the bank, and more importantly, incorporate fun into science and math.  If you’re interested in purchasing any of these sets, just click on the set name or picture to be redirected to Amazon.  I’ll also note that at the time of this post, Amazon is having a special on many of these items and you might be able to nab them for even less than the prices listed below:

***Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.***

1. 4M Tin Can Robot – $9.97

 

With this set, your child can create a battery-powered robot out of any used tin can.  This is too cute!

2. 4M Kitchen Science Kit – $9.97

 

This kit contains a few different (more like 6) experiments using things found in your kitchen.  It even has a few experiments that focus on chemical reactions (my fave!)!

3. Edu-Toys DIY Microscope Kit – $9.97

 

This is a great starter microscope set that you have to build.  I love that you could find a million things to observe without even having to leave your living room.

4. Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Discovery Lab Pens & Field Journal – $9.99

 

This is my favorite item on this list– I just love this kit!  This set comes with 2 multi-tool pens (1 for water and 1 for land observations) and a journal.

5. Smithsonian Rock and Gem Dig – $9.00

 

I gave my bug a very similar set earlier this year– he loved it!  This set comes with a block that contains several stones– the block has to be chiseled away, archaeologist style, in order to unearth the stones.

6. Solar System Planetarium DIY Model Kids Astronomical Science kits – $9.66

 

This model requires painting and assembly.  This is a great set that will not only teach your children the order of the planets, but also each planet’s characteristics.

7. 4 in 1 Wind and Rubber Band Powered Experiment Car for STEM – Wind Sail Car, Rubber band Launched car, Propeller car, Propeller cable car – $9.99

This is a great set that you can use to teach your children about physics.  This kit includes the materials needed to make 4 different moving models.

8. Make 7 Game – $9.99

 

This game is the love-child between Connect 4 and math.  This is a great way to teach your kids about the Commutative Property without saying “Commutative Property.” 🙂

9. Battery Power Generation Experiment Combined Creative Building Diy Science and Nature Toys – $8.90

This is a building kit that contains several different experiments involving batteries.

10. Elenco LED Robot Blinker Soldering Kit [ SOLDERING REQUIRED ] – $9.99

 

This is easily my second favorite item on this list.  Soldering is one of those things that sounds intimidating, but is actually pretty easy to do.  This kit will teach your child about electrical components and how they interact.  I love love love this set.  This is definitely going under our tree this year.

11. 4M Grow a Maze Kit – $8.16

 

This is a great kit to teach your children about how plant life interacts with the environment around it.  This is also a great kit if your little one has a green thumb!

12. Ravensburger Science X 3D Optics Activity Kit – $9.77

 

This kit is a great way for kids to learn about 3D concepts and how to create them.

13. EIN-O’s Molecular Models Kit – $7.49

 

This is a great and easy way to introduce children to molecular structures.  This is a basic set that covers more common/simple compounds.

14. Yannothing 6-in-1 DIY Science Educational Solar Energy Robot Toys Kit Plane Windmill Airboat Car Educational Developmental Toys Baby Kids Training Toy – $8.99

 

This set is another one of my favorites on this list– I love how this kit can help children learn about renewable energy.

15. HiLetgo Kit Clock – $8.79

By this time I’m sure you’ve probably figured out that I really like sets and kits that require building and assembly.  I like this set because it checks that box, but also that it can be used to create a real, working clock that can be used daily.

16. Straw and Connectors Building Set – $7.88

 

This set is perfect for a budding civil engineer!  The possibilities are endless with this set, and it can be used to create large 3D figures.

17. Electronics Lab with Fiber Optics – $9.31

 

This is another great set that helps kids learn about electrical components while also introducing them to fiber optics.

18. Little Labs Physics and Forces – $7.01

 

This physics set focuses on activities that teach children about force and motion.

19. 4M Fingerprint Kit – $9.07

 

This kit contains a series of different items that enable a kid to collect fingerprint samples, including dusting powder!  This set serves as a great introduction to forensics.

20. Piccolo Genio Discovery The Human Body Game – $5.88

 

This set helps children better understand/learn about human anatomy.  This is a perfect set for a future doctor!

 

These were just some of the great items I came across this season.  I hope you were able to find some gift inspiration for your future scientist.  I’d love to hear from you– what are the STEM gifts you would recommend?

Gift Ideas, Shopping, Super Deals

10 Great Gifts for Kids for Under $15

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I am happy to report that I am way ahead of schedule on my Christmas shopping this year!  Generally speaking, I search for gifts that I think encourage learning, creativity, and family time; hence, things like science kits, books, puzzles, and board games almost always make it into my shopping cart.

My little bug (Christmas 2013)babychristmas(1)

Most importantly, I try to find things that I think the receiver will genuinely enjoy.  I also like to keep a budget of $15 per person (or less than $10 if I can help it) since I have a large family and holiday spending can easily get out of control.  This budget does not apply to my bug and my mom as I do like to splurge a little on them. 🙂

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The items below are some of those that I’ve personally purchased this year for my bug, nieces, nephews, and children of family friends.  If any of these gifts interest you, I’ve posted links (just click on the pictures of the product or the product name) for the lowest-priced item I was able to find online at Amazon.

Here are some of the items I picked this year:

***Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.***

1. Circuit Scribe Kit – $9.99

This is hands-down my favorite gift on this post.  This kit comes with materials, including a conductive ink pen, that allows you to create fully-functional electrical circuits.  This kit is too cool for school!  The box lists this as appropriate for ages 8 and up; however, my bug is 7 and this is something that we would do together anyway.  I could honestly see us playing with this even if he were as young as 6.  My bug and I love anything STEM related so this was a super-easy buy for me.

***UPDATE AS OF 12/1/2017***This product is currently unavailable on Amazon for $9.99; however, you can still purchase this product at the following address for the same price:

https://www.eduporium.com/store/index.php/circuit-scribe-mini-kit.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiAmITRBRCSARIsAEOZmr42D_k1Tqy-_sKMKoBdqh9yGTkSPseBZXrNu2_5Q8LylCv5ZIp7ZUQaAq3iEALw_wcB

2. Pie Face! – $5.88

 

This game doubles as a great gift and family game, and the price is right!  It is a roulette-style game that will leave you with a face full of whipped cream.  This is a really fun game to play and also a great way to spend quality family time.  Best of all, the kids go insane to see grownups getting splatted.

3. Wet Head Water Roulette Game – $10.89

 

The concept of this game is very similar to Pie Face, except that you have a hat filled with water instead.  I love this game!  Imagine playing this game on Christmas day as a family (it’s always hot here in Texas!), or on any other day for that matter.

4. Family Feud Board Game – $12.94

 

This game is hilarious and is another great gift and family game.  I have literally had tears streaming out of my eyes from laughing so hard while playing this game, so I picked up this game for one of my friend’s kids who loves the show.  This is also one of those games I could see my family playing on holidays and family functions.

5. Creatibles DIY Eraser Kit – $10.08

 

This kit contains eraser clay that you first shape/mold and then bake to set.  Afterwards, you end up with erasers of your own creation.  This is a cute artsy gift or stocking-stuffer that doesn’t make a mess.  This is also another great way to spend quality family time together.

6. Faber-Castell Young Artist Learn to Paint Set – $14.99

 

I would first like to note that I did not purchase this specific set– for whatever reason, I could not find my set online.  This set, however, is not only similar but is also much better than the set I purchased, and it is still less than $15.  I love this set because it includes washable/non-toxic paint, and includes the materials a child will need to start painting right away.  It is just an adorable budding artist set.

7. Musical UFO (3 Bundle Science Set) – $15.70

 

I know that this bundle is slightly over $15 dollars; however, it is a 3-piece bundle that comes with 1 Musical UFO Project Kit and 2 Crystal Growing kits.  I plan to separate this bundle into a gift (Musical UFO) and 2 separate stocking stuffers (Crystal Growing kits).  The Musical UFO basically works like a Theremin which is an instrument that is controlled by the movement of your hand.

8. State the Picture – $14.44

State the Picture is a board game that is based on US Geography and was actually created by an 11-year old.   I love the concept of this game and it is a fun way to help your child learn the states.  Per the box, this game is recommended for children 8 and up; however, this gift is going under the tree for my 7 year old.  I am actually looking forward to playing this game with him.

9. Kaleidoscope Coloring: 500 Pieces to Color and Assemble – $14.92

 

This kit contains a puzzle, a coloring book, and markers.  The puzzle is blank (sans design) and is supposed to be colored in only after the puzzle has been assembled, making this a brain exercise as well.  I purchased this product for my 8 1/2 year old niece who really enjoys these kinds of activities.  Overall, this is a great gift for older children and adults as well.

10. Walkie Talkie Wrist Watch Set – $11.99

I loved walkie talkies as a kid, so much so that I probably would have lost my mind if these were available back then.  These walkie talkie watches include additional features like a compass, secret compartment, magnifying glass, and more.  This set would make a great gift for any kid, big or small.

I hope this post has given you some gift shopping inspiration. I’d love to hear about any gift ideas you have or any deals you’ve come across!